Sunday 30 September 2007

Irish Independent promotes Women Writers

The Irish Independent are promoting one book per week for just under a fiver and a token from the newspaper. Some great books, some not so great but kudos for promoting women writers.

September 15th Enda Edna O'Brien In the Forest (Free and too late now)
September 22nd Martina Devlin Venus Reborn (too late now too)
September 29th Sinead Moriarty The Baby Trail (I'd like to read this)
October 6th Anne Enright The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch (turgid, unengaging)
October 13th Rose Doyle Shadows will Fall
October 20th Cecelia Ahern Where Rainbows End (does she need any more more - OK jealous)
October 27th Nuala O'Faolain Are you Somebody (bit of a misery memoir and not my cup of tea)
November 3rd Deirdre Purcell Falling for a Dancer (very popular but dreadful)
November 10th Clare Boylan Holy Pictures
November 17th Catherine Dunne In the Beginning
November 24th Christine Dwyer Hickey Tatty
December 1st Karen Gillece Seven Nights in Zaragoza (who?)
December 8th Josephine Hart Damage
December 15th Claire Keegan Antarctica (short stories, supposed to be good. Expect it's gloomy)
December 22nd Jennifer Johnston Christmas Tree (seasonal!)
December 29th Marian Keyes Angels (I love her witty writing)
January 5th 2008 Claire Kilroy All Summer (supposed to be a great writer)
January 12th Sharon Owens The Tea House on Mulberry Street (I'd like to read this)
January 19th Sarah Webb Always the Bridesmaid
January 26th Emma Donoghue Slammerkin (supposed to be good)

Whose missing (possibly for copyright reasons)

Maeve Binchy, Meave Brennan, Eaven Boland (no poetry at all), Mary Lavin, Molly Keane, Paula Meehan, me, Rita Ann Higgins, etc. Any others?

Friday 28 September 2007

Yet more blogs worth surfing

Crooked House illustrator in Nova Scotia - how global is that! (OK I'll admit it. I'm not sure but that's in Canada, right?)

Amethyst Dragon blogs about poetry in Ireland.

Another Canadian bibliophile booklust

Dedalus Press for poetry in Ireland.

Eyewear A London Review for the digital age. Features a poet every Friday by Todd Swift.

It had better be good is the blog of an Irish writer who has given up her job to write a novel. Good luck!

Literary Rejections on display

My New Notebook musings of an aspiring London author.

Petite Anglaise writing and livingin Paris.

The writer, Philip Casey's blog 'Slimming for the Beach' about writing related stuff, usually Irish based.

The Western Writers Centre are an energetic group of people based in Galway.

Thursday 27 September 2007

Another rejection - poetry this time

After the joy of Cavan Window Publications acceptance, I've just had a rejection from Jan at Envoi magazine. I would really like to break into the UK poetry scene. I feel a lot of my poetry is more English than Irish in outlook. I've only had three poems published outside Ireland
Newfoundland anthology with Irish writers
coffeehouse (Wales - editor the aforementioned Jan)
Abridged - Derry (NI)

On the plus side, my blog is featured on the Poetry Ireland website and weekly newsletter - how cool is that! I wonder how it will affect my viewer stats?

And Do The Write Thing is number 19 in this weeks mass market fiction bestseller list. (That's up from last week!)

Wednesday 26 September 2007

Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award

The deadline for the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award has been extended to Friday 19th October. I wonder why? Usually competitions like this get 90% of the submissions in the last week.

This year the Judges again are Paula Meehan and Theo Dorgan.

The winner gets 2,500 Euro. Second and third get 1,000 and 500 respectively.

It costs 20 Euro to enter. More details on the link.

Tuesday 25 September 2007

Bits and Pieces

The American writer and film-maker Miranda July won the 2007 Frank O'Connor award for her first collection of short stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You. The prize was worth 35,000 Euro.

The chairman of the judges, Pat Cotter, who had earlier defended the shortlist as a demonstration of the judges' independence, hailed Miranda July as a worthy winner.
"The award has been won by a book of original genius," he said, "a book which we believe will endure for a long time."

No One Belongs Here More Than You is a collection full of a similar type of fantasy, but underpinned with a new toughness, an awareness of the real world that underlies the characters' rich inner lives. The website she designed to publicise the book apparently became an internet sensation. I never heard of it until now.

And here's an interesting quote about poetry from the New York Times Book Review.

The strength of American poetry depends on the fact that hardly anybody notices it. To emerging poets, eager for an audience, this marginality may seem frustrating, but it is the source of their freedom. Because nothing is at stake except the integrity of their medium, poets may write about anything in any way, from decorously rhymed couplets to sonically driven nonsense.

What's the point then? There must be more to it than that. Surely poetry should be written to be read and listened to? Do we write poetry only for other poets to read? How incestuous is that.

There is a reading for the anthology Do The Write Thing in Eason book shop in Bridgewater Shopping Centre, Arklow, Co. Wicklow on Friday the 5th of October from 6-9pm. Do call in if you are in the area.

And just to note, this blog has now blasted through the 1000th reader (although lots are on for zero second so I'm guessing they are automated, non-human readers)

Monday 24 September 2007


Do the Write Thing, the fabulous anthlogy (see earlier posts) is number 20 in the Irish books bestseller lists! It's on the best seller shelves in Easons everywhere I've looked so it must be true. Isn't that a thrill!

Sunday 23 September 2007

Cavan Windows Publications

The Cavan Windows Publications has announced the happy selected few for their next 'Introductions' anthology, Series no 7, either 3 or 4 poems or a short story as a representation of the artists' work.

There will be a launch in Cavan on Friday 26th October, and others in Galway, Dublin and possibly Castlebar. Details to follow. Here are the names and disciplines:

James Brady - Cavan Visual Art
Aoife Casby - Galway - Poetry
Tom Conaty - Dublin - Poetry
John Corless - Mayo - Irish Language short story
Kate Dempsey - Kildare - Poetry
Aine Durkin - Donegal - Irish language poetry
Stephen Farren - Derry - Poetry
Martin Gleeson - Clare - Poetry
James Lawless - Kildare - Short story
Jim Maguire - Wexford - Poetry
Peter McKay - Isle of Lewis - Scots gaelic Poetry
Alan McMonagle - Galway - Short story
Mary Medec - Galway - Poetry
Jenni Merideth - Essex - Poetry
Wendy Mooney - Dublin - Poetry
Catriona O'Reilly - Cavan - Short story
Michelle O'Sullivan - Mayo - Poetry
Ginny Sullivan - New Zealand - Poetry
Phil Young - Dublin - Short story

I'm going to Google the names out of pure curiosity.

Frank O'Connor short story shortlist

The shortlist was announced in the Irish Times this Saturday.

British writer Simon Robson for The Separate Heart (Jonathan Cape) "much to praise, traditional narratives looking back to a gentler, less cryptic era" I like less cryptic;
Olaf Olafsson, from Iceland now in the US, for Valentines (Pantheon Books) "A 12 part story sequence...favours stories with a sting in the tail";
Etgar Keret, from Israel, for Missing Kissinger (Chatto & Windus) "whimsical Bart Simpson-like Jewish humour;
Miranda July, from the United States, for No One Belongs Here More Than You (Canongate);
Charlotte Grimshaw, from New Zealand, for Opportunity (Random House);
Manuel Muñoz, latino fiction from the United States, for The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue (Algonquin Books) "A convincing 2nd collection".

There was a long rant from Eileen Battersby in the Irish Times on what was not on the list. In particular:
Clare Keegan for Walk the Blue Fields. I'm not a huge fan of her stories myself, too gloomy and retro, but she's a skillful writer. Her stories are on BBC radio 4 this week at 3:30 pm.
William Trevor (also set in the past Irish writer living for years in England but never left Ireland in his head, great writer though),
Alice Munro The View from Castle Rock (the Canadian writer who mixes in a lot of autobiographucal details into her careful stories)
John F Deane's The Heather Fields (why all the fields? Also traditional Irish themes)
David Malouf Every Move You Make gifted Australian.

She calls the list "ordinary" and not particularly inspiring.
The winner will be announced during the closing ceremony of the Frank O'Connor International Short story festival in Cork. The prize is 35,000 Euro, not to be sniffed at. Haruki Murakami won last year for Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, his third collection of short stories. I greatly admire his writing.

Saturday 22 September 2007

More reading/writing blogs worth checking out.

Bluechrome small independent publishers blog gives a fascinating insight into their world. They publish poetry, fiction and short stories and have competitions that have a good name. They are not currently accepting submissions otherwise.

Bluestalking Reader mainly does book reviews.

Poetry from the Margins has some contemporary poetry and other interesting stuff.

Once upon a time is writing a book.
Petrona has book reviews and thoughts about writing and publishing.

SallyQ also has a lot of short story success.

Snowbooks blog is this small publishers news and thoughts.

Women's Magazine Writer is pretty successful and up to date on guidelines for women's magazines short stories. I've updated my earlier blog entry with some of her useful information.

Friday 21 September 2007

Miss Write Competition

Well, I''ve just read that the big competition launched by Waterstones and Cosmopolitan magazine to find the next up and coming chick lit writer ended with a 'shortlist' of 5 runners up but no winner. Congratulations to Elisa McGarry, Kristen Paul, Nicola Brear, Gail Haslam and Stacey Taylor. Apparently none of the 2,300+ entries were good enough for 'immediate publication' according to Sphere/Little Brown Books. I would have thought that no submitted book was more than a draft, a polished draft but a draft all the same; even JK Rowling must get edited, surely?

The runners up get a coaching session with Louise Cavendish, £100 Waterstones voucher, a book a week for a year (how cool is that!) and a subscription to Cosmo.

The entrants submitted 3,000 words which, in my humble opinion, is certainly enough to judge if the writer can write and if the book has a good enough hook and depth to engage the reader (and get them to spend their hard earned cash on the book!)

Louise Cavandish judged the shortlist but even she wasn't told none would get a contract. She had to email them to find out the situation.

I wonder how many copies of the magazine they sold in anticipation of this announcement? Missed sales surely for the mag as well as potential sales of the resultant book for all the entrants and near-entrants (no I didn't enter but I thought about it) so they could all see what type of writing makes the grade.

Comments in blogs I will write my book and best in fiction and a Writers where one of the runners up has comments and Once Upon a Time who is a runner up!

Writing For Radio

The BBC is the main buyer for radio drama, possibly in the world. Before you even start to think about writing for them, listen to as much as you can. They have about two weeks of previously broadcast plays and stories on available to listen to online. The range is diverse as is the subject matter.
Google "Writing for Radio" for some great websites.

Build the setting in the listeners head. Use of sound effects can be very effective here. Remember, there is no limitation on where the action can take place. Outer space, a 15th century chateau, The Pyramids, The North Pole, The Trenches, etc.
Music is a great way to get listeners into the mood.
Interior thought is easy to do on the radio compared to, for example, TV or stage. What people say and do and what they actually think are often in conflict so this can be a great tool to use to get inside a character's head.
A radio play only has one chance to be successful. If their attention is not grabbed and held, the listener can change channels at the click of a button. The beginning is everything as far as this is concerned.
Limit the number of characters so as not to confuse the listener. Make each one distinct for the same reason. Use their names in speech more often.
Keep the listeners on their toes by having one short scene after another. Use lots of mini crises and conflicts for cliff-hangers. Use humour too so the tension isn't continuous. Use sound effects to set each scene and don't have consecutive scenes in the same setting. Generally, don't have the last character in one scene being the first one in the next to talk.

Here is some good advice on writing for the 45 minute afternoon play slot. This London-based Theatre writer discusses finding the right producer, which I had never considered before. Otherwise, submit full script to The Writers Room.

The producers look for a writer with some experience, though this need not necessarily be in radio. They also look for a great one or two sentence blurb for them to use to sell the play to the commissioners.

Afternoon Play
45 minutes
14:15-15:00 Monday to Friday
This slots comes right after "The Archers" so I would tend to stay clear of similar, rural type stories and remember the audience demographic. Violence and graphic sex won't go down well. They say "First and foremost we want to tell the listener a good story." Crime, mystery, ghost stories, romance, historical, science fiction have all worked well in this slot. They do use new writers quite a lot for here.
Recent topics include, infertility, London in the 60's, mourning Princess Diana, the feelings of the land over the centuries and burying someone's ashes by the Angel of the North.

Saturday Play
60 minutes
14:30 Saturday
The home of genre fiction: Crime and detective stories, mystery, ghost stories, romance, thrillers. Not an extended afternoon play. Popular high class entertainment. Enjoyment and escapism. Think When "Harry Met Sally," "Gosford Park," "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrells," "Into the West."
Recent topics include a dramatisation of the story that was the basis for the film Vertigo and Noel Coward persuading Ian Fleming to spy during the war.

Women's Hour
15 minute serial
10:45 repeated 19:45 5 consecutive weekdays
Study the market for this one. It's tricky to write something that picks up the story easily 5 times for listeners who don't tune in every day so I wouldn't recommend starting here. They often use serialisations of existing novels or biographies. Recent Topics include an affair between a teenage girl and an older son of a wealthy Chinese family and a farce about ladies involved in local action groups.

Comedy Narrative
30 minutes
11:30 Friday
Light and entertaining comedy drama or sitcom.
Recent topics include a comedy drama set in a Carmelite monastery.

The Friday Play
60 minutes
Friday 21:00
Original, contemporary and ambituous writing. Engaging and challenging.
Recent topics include an amnesty of illegal immigrants and teenage crime.

Afternoon Reading
15 minutes
Monday to Friday 15:30
A short story or abridged book often by writers new to radio.
Recent topics include waiting for a light effect, music heals war-damaged people, post operative surgery insights and a mouse looking for enlightenment from a parrot.

Here is a link to the radio play format. One page per minute in this format.

Tuesday 18 September 2007

Worrying article about buyers

Worrying article about book buyers. Basically women buy nearly all the books and if they stop, we're in trouble.
The typical American reads 4 books a year. One in four reads none. I wonder what the comparative numbers are for the UK and for Ireland. I read somewhere that the UK reads more books per head of population.

It goes on to say that men only account for 20% of the fiction market in the US. That's what I've noticed in bookshops and at home. Himself reads mainly non-fiction.

But more than a third of adults in the UK say they never buy books. Is someone else buying books for them or are they curviving without? 34% say they don't read books. Are these the same people or are there people who buy books and don't read them (certainly) and people who read books but don't buy them (almost certainly)

Monday 17 September 2007

More publishers submission guidelines

I dealt in an earlier post with the BIG UK publishers. Here is a selection of other, smaller publishers and their guidelines. And check out the link on the title for email addresses for lots of UK publishers.

Allison & Busby The small publisher of big books. They only accept submissions via a literary agent. They publish fiction particularly thrillers and non-fiction.

Arcadia Books is an independent publisher specialising in literary fiction, translated fiction, EuroCrime, biographies, travel, multi-cultural books under BlackAmber imprint, gay and gender studies. Bliss imprint is for popular fiction. They welcome agent's submissions only. As far as I can tell, they plan to publish 20-30 titles in 2007.

Black Lace (Virgin Books) publishes Erotica. Website is currently parked so I dont know if they are accepting submissions.

Robert Hale does consider unsolicited manuscripts. 3 sample chapters and a synopsis. They publish general fiction, crime and westerns particularly.

Souvenir Press. Prefers an initial letter of inquiry before sending manuscript. Contact: Tessa Harrow, Souvenir Press Ltd., 43 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3PA
Tel: 0207 580 9307/8

Snowbooks accepts unsolicited manuscripts via email and the blurb.

Virago Press will not be accepting unsolicited fiction for the forseeable future but they do say you can send a brief synopsis, sample chapers and a letter. They publish books by women, for women.

Sunday 16 September 2007

Southend Writers Radio Play Competition

Entrants are invited to submit a radio play with a running time of 25–30 minutes on any topic. The cast of voices will be performed by 6 professional actors (3 male & 3 female). Scripts may be for a smaller or larger cast (by doubling or trebling of roles). The play must be suitable for transmission on day-time radio.

Submissions must be made in printed format, by post, and accompanied by a cheque for £5 registration fee, payable to The Palace Theatre Guild. (£5 per play).
Closing Date for Entries: 20th September 2007

1st Prize £500
2nd Prize £150
3rd Prize £100 People’s Prize

The 10 finalists will receive a public performance of a rehearsed-reading in the Dixon Studio of the Palace Theatre. Performances and judging of the ten finalists will take place during week commencing Oct 22nd.

Entries and cheques should be submitted by post to:

Southend Writers Competition
Palace Theatre Guild
P.O Box 2095, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, SS9 4WY, England

Saturday 15 September 2007

Emerging dramatists sought by Handful Productions

Derry- based writing and performance group, Handful Productions is looking for emerging dramatists, providing the opportunity to have their work professionally produced, directed and performed. No cash prize is on offer. They are looking for 4 to 8 plays.

Spokesperson Felicity McCall said: “Our awards for all funding terms insist that the chosen plays must be by truly emerging authors; and the Playhouse is anxious to ensure our catchment area is as widespread as possible.”

Director Bernie Mahon, who work closely with the short-listed playwrights.

Scripts should range from ten to thirty minutes; they must never have been professionally staged before; small cast numbers and simple settings with a potential to tour will be a distinct advantage.

The organisers have been approached by an official body for a piece of work based specifically on the subject of recovering alcoholism and some entrants may be inspired by this.

Submitted entries by email or hard copy by November 1, 2007.

Thursday 13 September 2007

Little Black Dress

Another publisher who is accepting unsolicited submissions. They publish contemporary romantic comedy aimed at age 20 to 35. Click on the link for the guidelines. 60-80,000 word manuscripts. I would recommend doing your homework and reading some before considering submitting.
On the submission guidelines it seems they want the whole novel but elsewhere they say first 3 chapters, synopsis and letter including writing CV.

The workshop for young writers described a couple of days ago has been cancelled. Not enough take up. Possibly not enough publicity. There's definitely a demand.

How this for a book review?!

Harsh as it may sound, there is really only one credible line in the entire book:

'Even now, even as I write this, I can hear sensible people groan'.

Those sensible people will spend a lot of time groaning if they last from cover to cover.

Tuesday 11 September 2007

Irish Writers Centre Workshop - TeenLit

Workshop for young writers in the Irish Writers Centre.

This workshop caters for young writers who are beginning, and for those who are more experienced in writing fiction and poetry. Activities will focus on generating ideas, exploring the process of writing, looking at techniques, and structuring and developing your work. There will be lots of examples and exercises with opportunities for you to read out your work. The last week will be a showcase evening with friends and family invited to hear what you have created during the workshop.

Monday 24 September 2007 7-8:30 pm for 8 weeks.

Be there or tell someone in the right age group.

Age 14-17.

Monday 10 September 2007

Windows Publications Introductions 7

Windows Publications is a Cavan based publishers supported by Cavan County Council and Cavan Crystal. They publish every year or so an anthology of emerging writers, 3 or 4 for short stories and 8 to 10 for poetry as well as a couple of artists. This year they've chosen me and 6 or 7 of my poems as a representative sample of my collection. Yay! A reading in Cavan in October followed by one in Dublin and Galway for all. No money but lots of glory.
I wonder who else was accepted. Let me know if it's you or someone you hear of.

Movie extras update. Since I took up my full time employment, taking me out of the Monday to Friday availability, I have been asked for my availability for shoots 3 times.

Sunday 9 September 2007

Another Rejection

I am despondent, running out of publishers who will recognise the quality of my novel and fall in love with it as quickly and deeply as my agent did. Transworld now rejected me too. They enjoyed reading it, they report, but didn't feel it would stand out from the crowd. What should I do to it to make it stand out from the crowd? Throw in an alien invasion? A suicide bomber? A treatise on illegal immigrant worker exploitation? I'm so fed up.
Transworld also own a huge number of imprints according to Writers and Artists Yearbook so does that mean they are all now closed to me and my lovely, witty, enjoyable read book? Or does each imprint have its own editor decide what it takes?

Saturday 8 September 2007

Do the Write Thing

Here is the blurb for Do the Write Thing. It is being shelved in unusual places in the bookshops I've checked so do ask. It should be in Newly Released or Irish Writing but can sometimes be found in the murky corner known as literature/writing along with Macbeth and The Artists and Writers Yearbook! So please, this book is in a good cause and everything, if you see it lurking, please move a few copies somewhere visible. Is this illegal?

"Do The Write Thing" was a popular series of creative writing coaching slots by bestselling author Patricia Scanlan, broadcast on Seoige & O’Shea’s RTÉ ONE talk show. The winners of the subsequent short story competition are collected in this remarkable anthology. The stories are vital, honest, perceptive and witty, the very best from hundreds of first-time writers who responded to the call. They mine the full range of human experience and give us a fresh and unforgettable view of the diverse and lively society we live in today. From bridal bliss to married desperation, from the harrowing to the hilarious, the utterly heartrending to the deliciously upbeat, these stories will hold you spellbound. Published by Poolbeg, all royalties from 'Do The Write Thing' go to the National Breast Cancer Research Institute.

Do the right thing and treat yourself to this hugely enjoyable collection!

Thursday 6 September 2007

Man Booker Prize Shortlist

The Man Booker Prize shortlist was announced, selected from the longer, most unusual longlist in years.

The six titles shortlisted are:

Darkmans by Nicola Barker (Fourth Estate)
The Gathering by Anne Enright (Jonathan Cape)
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (Hamish Hamilton)
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones (John Murray)
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (Jonathan Cape)
Animal’s People by Indra Sinha (Simon & Schuster)

Wednesday 5 September 2007

How to look good on TV

So your book is released, you've done your PR (or someone has) and you've got such a good hook that, hurrah, they want you to appear on TV. There's five second joy then you start to worry about what to wear. Check out the link. Basically it says:

Don't wear black or white or red
Don't wear patterns
Dark solid colours are slimming
Make sure you are comfortable in your clothes
Dress for heat under the lights
Avoid flashy or jangley jewelery
Wear strong makeup, more than usual (we're generally talking girls here or politicians)
Wear powder - shiny is bad
Smile - not like an idiot but like you're not miserable
V necks are the most flattering - again with the girls.
Try to minimise hand and head movement without appearing wooden and stilted, gestures should be smaller.
Yes you do sound like that when you talk/ look like that - live with it.
Don't assume anyone will have read the book, just the blurb.
Bring a copy of the book with you for the camera.
Plan what you are going to say ahead of time, think memorable soundbites that grab the attention.

Monday 3 September 2007

Online Book Reviews

The Bedside Crow has some great book reviews and other book news. This gentleman is a UK based bookshop owner.

Econ Girl aka the girl who's afraid of foxes (try living here!) is in Dublin, reads a lot and writes about it.

Crockatt and Powell bookshop blog based in London.

Dove Grey Reader is a prolific and well regarded book reviewer based in Devon

My good buddy Critical Mick has reviews free of rules.

Bibliofemme has a monthly book review and a good archive.

When I can work out how to do it, I'll put these in a Blogroll on the sidebar.

Saturday 1 September 2007

Arts Council Decisions

The arts Council have announced the decisions of the February round of New Work and Once Off grants and Commissions. There is one (count them, one) for Literature.

Lenor Bethencourt

Who? What? Never heard of him/her/them/it. Nothing on Google. 14,000. And they couldn't spare Poetry in the Waiting Room a cent. Am I peeved? Yes I am.