Tuesday 31 July 2007

Stinging Fly

Stinging Fly is a literary mag edited by Declan Meade. It offers mostly fiction but also some poetry. In my personal opinion they usually choose urban, often depressive, sometimes look at me I've used drugs at some point in my life, now let's slit our wrists, type stories. And I'm not just saying this because my diverse offerings have been universally rejected by them (!) But the collection of short stories published last year 'These are our Lives' is worth reading.

Anyway they are running an open competition to get in on a free workshop with Sean O'Reilly on Saturday October 27th. Submit a work in progress, short story or extract by September 14th. Submissions should be clearly marked Fiction Workshop and sent to The Stinging Fly, PO Box 6016, Dublin 8.

8-10 participants so you will get a personal assessment but it says 'the selected participants will discuss and review the submitted pieces.' Sounds like a normal writers group to me except you won't know the participants beforehand so don't know how to approach the work and critique.

Two more rejections on the book front since - Harper Collins and Headline, no with positive comments.

No work from movieextras.ie yet either.

My statistics for this blog show 2 readers a day averaging a 2 second stay. What can you read in 2 seconds? Most seem to be automated spiders, I think.

Thursday 26 July 2007

Another Rejection

Well the next round of responses from the list of publishers has started. Little Brown said no though they liked my book.
Fed up.
It only needs one publisher to say yes though. That's what I keep telling myself.
Just finished Harry Potter. I do think this last book was better written than the last few. I have been avoiding reviews until now in case there were any spoilers but now I'll go trawling and see what else people think.

Wednesday 25 July 2007

National Poetry Competition 2007

The Annual National Poetry Competition in the UK is now open for entries. This is a prestigious and rich competition.

Judge: E.A Markham, Michael Schmidt
Prizes: £5,000, £1,000, £500 and 10x £50. Published in the Independent On Saunday and Poetry Review. Winners will be invited to read at the Ledbury Poetry Festival.
Line count: Max 40 lines (not including title)
Fee: £5 for the first, £3 thereafter payable to Poetry Society
Closing Date: 31st October 2007
Notification: 28 February 2008

Enter using an application form or online. http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk/shop/product/18/

The winners list is heavyweight as would be expected from the large cash prize. Carol Ann Duffy, Tony Harrison, Jo Shapcott, Ian Duhig, Ruth Padel. You can read some past winners on the website, which gives an insight into the high standard.

Monday 23 July 2007

Jane Austen rejected

Well, if Jane Austen can't get published these days, is there much hope for the rest of us? David Lassman the director of the Jane Austen festival in Bath thought up a great way to get publicity for his event. He sent of barely disguised opening chapters and synopses to 18 British publishers of some of her best known and loved works. Without exception, they were all rejected and only one, Jonathan Cape, who recognised Pride and Prejudice. This was sent out as First Impressions, an early name Jane used herself (Which was also rejected at first 'by return of post')

Similarly in the US, a book called Steps by Jerzy Kosinski (I must admit I haven't heard of it) was sent out and similarly rejected. This book won the National Book Prize, the equivalent of the Booker, and sold over 400,00 copies. All the publishers and agents rejected it, including publishers of Kosinski's work. The publishing house Houghton Mifflin commented that it was reminiscent of Kosinski "but not in his league."

Here's an interesting post on the subject.

Sunday 22 July 2007

Sean O'Faolain Short Story Competition

The 5th Annual Sean O' Faolain short story competition closes for entries soon.
Judge: Jon Boilard of San Francisco (previous winner)
Prizes: €1,500, €500 and 4x €100. All will be published in Southword.
Wordcount: Max 3,000
Fee: €10 or £10 or $15 payable to Munster Literarture Centre
Closing Date: postmarked 31st July 2007

The winners will be announced at the International Frank O'Connor Festival of the short story in Cork September 2007

address: The Munster Literature Centre, 84 Douglas Street, Cork
email: seanofaolainshortstory@gmail.com and pay with paypal on www.munsterlit.ie/competitions

In my opinion, this competition has a penchant for chooing gloomy, depressing but well written, literary short stories, often with a Cork or Munster bias. Caveat Emptor!

Wednesday 18 July 2007


I saw Claire (Clare?) Keegan having a cup of coffee in Easons in Dublin the other day and instead of doing the good thing and going up to her and telling her...what exactly...I love her writing. Actually I find her writing good and her stories awful, doom and gloom and 50 years out of date. But I ran the other way. I'm such a wuz.

Then I went to see Dermot Bolger's new play "Walking Home", about Francis Ledwidge the first World War, Meath poet. He asked me to go. I know him vaguely. He taught a series of masterclasses for 'emerging writers' (see heading!) And instead of chatting away and reminding him who I was, I shook his hand, told him how much I liked the play and ran away again.

Networking - shmetworking!

Hope he doesn't mind I use his name for a reference.

Tuesday 17 July 2007

More Rejections

Yes, the ongoing saga of how to get published. Maybe this will be read in posterity as how the fabulously successful middle list author got her book published and we will all look back and laugh at the set backs and false hopes. Maybe.

Anyway, Penguin rejected me too. I would have loved to be published by Penguin. I feel like I was brought up on Penguin books. Ah well.

Have done a little more polishing and tried to warm up my main character so wh'e more sympathetic for the reader, more compassionate and out it's gone again to another list of publishers.

Ever hopeful. Ever typing with my fingers crossed!

Friday 13 July 2007

More rejections

Rejection from Orion books yesterday - nice rejection but still a rejection - and Penguin today. Did a bit of tweaking and it's going back out to the next round today. Friday 13th holds no fears for me!

Dr. Seuss was rejected twenty-four times. In 1937 he was told this about his first book And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street.

“…too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.”

John Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill, was declined by fifteen publishers and some thirty agents. His novels have more than 60 million copies in print.

When the manuscript of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was finished, early in the New Year of 1996, Rowling visited Edinburgh Central Library to look up the Writers’ and Artists’ Year Book in search of a literary agent. Her first approach had been unsuccessful: a brief rejection letter. She then posted a sample of three chapters and a covering letter to Christopher Little Literary Agents, based in Fulham. It was here that a young reader, Bryony Evans, read the first chapter and laughed. Evans passed the chapters to Fleur Howle, a freelance reader, who agreed with her assessment and together they persuaded Little to sign up Rowling. A few days later Rowling received a letter asking for the remainder of the manuscript. The agency sent Rowling’s 200-page script to 12 publishers, all of whom, to their eternal regret, turned down the book. Harper Collins showed interest but was too slow in formulating a bid and so the first book by the most lucrative writer in the world was picked up by Bloomsbury for an advance of £1,500.

Thursday 12 July 2007

Stony Thursday

The lovely Stony Thursday crew who graciously accepted one of my poems last time, are looking for submissions for the next epic tome. This year the editor will be one of the founders, John Liddy.

...from local, national and international poets for the next issue which will be published in Limerick, as part of Cuisle, Limerick City International Poetry Festival in October 2007. No. 6 which will be published in October 2007.
The Stony Thursday Book was founded by Limerick poets John Liddy and Jim Burke in 1975, and has also been edited by Mark Whelan, Kevin Byrne, Patrick Bourke and Knute Skinner.

The Stony Thursday Book is one of the longest-running literary journals in Ireland and celebrated its 30th Anniversary Edition in 2005.

Closing date for submissions is August 3rd 2007.

Send no more than 6 poems, write your name and address on each page.

Send poems to :

The Arts Service, Limerick City Council, City Hall, Merchant’s Quay, Limerick

Please mark your envelope : The Stony Thursday Book

Further information from : The Arts Service, Limerick City Council

Email : artsoffice@limerickcity.ie

Telephone : 061 407363 or 061 407421

*Cuisle, Limerick City International Poetry Festival will take place in Limerick from 17th – 20th October.

Wednesday 11 July 2007


Well, another (nice) rejection from Simon and Schuster. Two more before the next round. Fingers crossed we won't need it. I have been reading up on rejections. I'll post later.

Got a rejection from BBC Northern Ireland for the Tony Doyle Award for New television writers. I suppose it was a stretch but I am very fond of my story. It will have to find a different home and perhaps form.

Read this and weep or laugh, the truth about the slush pile.
Particularly some of the comments below. Publishers run a business. 90-95% of what they receive is completely unpublishable - which is good for people who produce publishable work - and it takes time and effort even to post out a form letter. I know I appreciate any feedback at all, however hard hitting but the urge to respond is tough to control. So feedback is rare and unusual. The number of acceptances from the slushpile is sobering. Having an agent speeds the process up but doesn't that just move the slushpile from the publishers' offices to the agents'?

The National Gallery class went great. Enthusiastic feedback. Hope they have me back.

Got a text from movieextras about availability but nothing happened beyond that.

Saturday 7 July 2007

Creative Writing in the National Gallery

I am teaching a creative writing class in the National Gallery in Dublin this Wednesday 11th July at 2pm. This is part of the Art for all ages scheme. Anyone can show up. No booking required. No experience required either. The idea is to use some of the fantastic Dutch interior painting there to spark a piece of creative writing, poetry or prose. I hope this is the start of a long relationship. I love the National Gallery and IMMA and the Hugh Lane Dublin City Gallery. I do get inspiration from art.

I got the idea from the Tate Britain who run all sorts of interesting classes. Paul Muldoon has written a book of poetry inspired by the paintings at the National Gallery in London. Lots of writers have been commissioned to write poetry and short stories inspired by paintings and sculptures, particularly by the BBC. Perhaps I could talk to RTE. Apparently writing connected with Visual Art is called Ekphrasis.

Thursday 5 July 2007


I have an agent. She is very enthusiastic about my book and sure we will land a publishing deal. I have polished it and taken her suggestions in hand and finished it and emailed it to her. She has sent it out to 4 top of the line, premiership publishers, to editors she knows already. Personal relationships are the key here. And given them a deadline of some kind of a response within 2 to 2 1/2 weeks.

The first one came back. Random House with a negative. The editor couldn't engage with my main protagonist. I'm down in the dumps. This is a senior editor who hasn't got where she is today without knowing what she is talking about. I know I am not the best at showing my character's emotions and emotional characters (the right emotions) are the best for readers to care about so I need to warm her up.


Sunday 1 July 2007

Radio 4 Afternoon Read

This coming week the afternoon read is short stories from up and coming Irish writers. 3:30-3:45 and on listen again.

Monday, Gift by David Frazer Wray
Evangelos Patelis spends a solitary existence on an isolated Greek peninsula until he receives a parcel which has an unexpected influence on his life.

Tuesday, Roses by Sophia Hillan
An aging film actor knows he has forgotten something important, but finds remembering is more painful than he could ever imagine.

Wednesday, Hair by Karen Gillece
The realisation that you are losing your hair is traumatic enough but when one woman discovers that that isn’t all she might be losing the distress is almost unbearable.

Thursday, Phoenix Rising by Maggie Cronin
After battling with illness Ralph’s return home is a cause for celebration but his party is crashed by the most unwelcome of uninvited guests.

Friday, Surrender by Claire Keegan
An Irish police sergeant gets a letter that forces him to take decisive action.

The only one I've heard of is the ubiquitous Claire Keegan. How did the others get commissioned?