Wednesday 31 October 2007

Poetry Ireland Introductions

Poetry Ireland is inviting submissions for the 2008 Introductions series. The series is designed for emerging writers with a track record of publication in reputable journals and magazines, who are working towards a first collection.

A short biography and covering letter accompanied by a selection of ten poems is requested.
Poems may be previously published or unpublished.

Applications should be marked Introductions and sent to Poetry Ireland, No. 2 Proud's Lane, off St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2.
Selected applicants are usually informed within two months and, depending on the number of submissions, approximately 15 poets are selected each year. This year it was 20)

It's well worth while doing, get your name around. You also get to do a workshop and they pay a small fee for your reading.

I think they should also publish a pamphlet with a sample of the poets chosen. They get great crowds at the readings.

Tuesday 30 October 2007

Pieces not accepted by Sunday Miscellany #2

Betty Likes Ham
Another piece not taken by Sunday Miscellany

I am not a dog person and my husband is not a cat person. He wheezes like a broken bellows when we stay with my parents. They own or are owned by two elderly black and white cats. At home, we have managed a happy compromise. Betty is a beautiful tortoiseshell cat. She belongs to our neighbours but she pops in to check on us once or twice a day, more on the weekends. I say check on us but really she is checking on the state of our fridge.

She sits outside the kitchen window, looks pathetic and half-starved and does one of those silent meows. I know it’s silent because her actual meows could easily penetrate double if not triple glazing. Someone leaps up to let her in and she saunters by as if she had all the time in the world, which she probably has. Really. No job to go to, no school, no bills to pay. Who wouldn’t be a cat? She sniffs around for evidence of interlopers, rubs a few legs, table and human then stops at the fridge. She gives us her Puss in Boots gaze and says, quite distinctly “Ham?” Someone relents and give her a few scraps of cold meat. She hoovers it up and lets us stroke her, purring loudly. The children practise picking her up which she tolerates, she kills the ping pong ball in the corner for a few minutes and then asks politely to be let out. It’s a perfect setup. No hairs left to make my husband wheeze, no vets bills, no cat food to buy, injections to worry about, just a cuddle and a purr and off she goes.

Or so we thought.

Last summer, our neighbours went on holiday for two weeks. Someone was coming in to feed Betty every day but that wasn’t enough for her. She needed more than that. She was round our house every hour of the day. If you left a window open for more than five seconds, there would be a brown furry flash and she’d be in the kitchen saying “Ham?” If I opened a door, she would scurry in. Once we went out and left her locked inside. She had a little sleep and then, when she was ready to leave, set off the burglar alarm. The neighbour who came to check nearly jumped out of her skin when Betty made her getaway.

One afternoon when I was in the garden I heard her calling. Loudly. I looked around. She wasn’t under the strawberry nets, lurking near the bird table or any of her other favourite places. The mewing continued. Perhaps she was stuck somewhere or injured. Eventually I spotted her. She was upstairs standing in the spare room window shouting at me to get a move on and open the fridge. I chucked her out.
But worst were the nights. One particular night at around 3 a.m. we awoke with a start to find her shouting beside our bed. I lugged her downstairs and chucked her unceremoniously out of the back door which someone had left wide open all night.
The next night she was back. First she tried mewing outside my son’s bedroom window but he can sleep through anything. Then she jumped up to the porch roof and on to my daughter’s sill. She sat outside and shouted “Ham?” until my daughter had to retreat to sleep in the spare room.

Then somehow she jumped onto our bedroom windowsill. She jumped in through our top window, pushed the blind out of the way and scattered everything off the windowsill. She landed on the carpet, very pleased with herself and had a quick wash. I had to admire her persistence and versatility but I chucked her out the backdoor anyway and shut the window. For the rest of the fortnight, we slept with the windows shut and my daughter stayed in the spare room. We never told the neighbours.
Betty avoided us for a week but soon came back. We forgave her and went back to our routine. Betty is our daily feline fix. And there will always be a little piece of ham in our fridge for her.

Monday 29 October 2007

This piece was broadcast on BBC7

Know Your Place - The Sandias
A piece broadcast on 'Know Your Place' on BBC Radio 7

Years ago, I lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the real South West where cowboys still walked the streets and drove out onto the mesa in dirty pickup trucks with gun racks. The chilli was hot and the buildings made of adobe; it was hot in the summer and it snowed in the winter.

From my window I could see the Sandia mountain range, the tailbone of the Rocky Mountains, the spine of the American Mid-West. In pueblo Indian mythology the mountains were sacred. Dots of ponderosa pine clung to the top ridge like pips in a watermelon. Above the west face swung the tramway, taking seasonal carloads of skiers and walkers up from the foothills to the peak. At 10,000 feet, the altitude stole your breath but the view was worth it; the city stretched out over the Rio Grande and to the desert beyond. The slopes below were protected and home to geckos, rattlesnakes, roadrunners and bears.

I used to drive to work along Tramway, the road that traced the foothills past the tramway station and on through Sandia Indian Pueblo. Some mornings I would glimpse a coyote bounding away or dodge tumbleweed as big as a car blasted along in the spring wind. Driving home again at the end of a long day, the Sandias came into their own. As the sun set, the dark slopes changed slowly from grey and black, through blood red to scarlet and glowing pink.

I think of these times when I cut Sandia watermelon triangles to share with my daughter who was born there that winter. And I think of my daughter when I sit in my hire car on Tramway and watch the colours change one more time.

Wednesday 24 October 2007

Arts Council Bursaries

Who got the literature ones this time around?
Dated 19th October

Applicant Amount awarded 2007 € Amount awarded 2008 € Amount awarded 2009 €
Kevin Barry €12,500. THis short story writer was also awarded the 2007 Rooney Prize
for Irish Literature on Oct 10th so he's having a good fortnight. See stinging Fly for details on his collection There Are Little Kingdoms which has been recommended to me but I have yet to read.

Rose Doyle €10,000 Novelist, mostly fairly light. See this link. I didn't rate the one book I read by her but I'd give her another chance.

Ann-Marie Hourihane € 9,000 The insightful journalist. I wonder what project she's using this for.

Catherine Mac Carthy € 7,500 € 7,500 The poet gets cash for two years. She also has a novel from 2003. Wonder if it made more money than her poetry?

Martin Malone € 7,500 Kildare based writer. Try his novel called US (as in we, not United States) He was longlisted for the IMPAC for his novel The Broken Cedar.

Alan McMonagle € 3,500 An emerging Galwegian writer.

Judith Mok € 9,000 The writing opera singer. Don't rate her stuff myself.

Paul Perry € 7,500 € 7,500 €10,000 won the Hennessey in 1998 when he was about 7 (young anyway) He has a great biog here but I'd never heard of him before.

John Staples € 3,500 Who?

Dolores Stewart €10,000 €10,000 €15,000 a bilingual poet.

Total €80,000
I'm going to apply for this next time around.

Sleeping with Seamus

A piece in an occasional series of pieces not taken by Sunday Miscellany.

I had that dream again. You know the one. Everyone has it from time to time. No, not the naked one, but the one where the man at the front of the room says the seven most spine-chilling words in the English language. And there’s nothing you can do. It’s too late.

Exams. They bear no resemblance to real life outside of school and yet they are the be-all and end-all of the whole educational conveyor belt. Fail and you plummet, screaming off the end. Do well and the world’s your oyster, or, as my mother said, the world’s your lobster. I had never seen a lobster in real life so I had no idea if they were worth all the toil and brainache.

“The world’s my lobster. The world’s my lobster.” Each word a beat on the pedal downstroke as I biked to school. The weather that morning was truly dreadful for the first day of exams; it was hot and sunny. The smell of cut grass mingled with diesel from the corporation lawnmower on the playing fields. I checked my watch, the leather strap an unfamiliar restriction on my sweaty wrist. I still had plenty of time.

I slung my bike in the hedge and climbed over the gate. The field had been in full sunlight for hours and the grass was warm to the touch. I lay down and reached inside my bag to pull out my poetry textbook. It fell open at a poem by Seamus Heaney called ‘Follower’. The mower droned beyond the goalposts around the far corner of the pitch. I read the poem out loud, rounding the vowels and emphasising the rhythm as my teacher did.

I shut my eyes and imagined the picture he painted, rustic and earthy and a long way from where I was. I took a polo mint out of my pocket and sucked it to try and quell my jumpy stomach. The Weetabix I hadn’t wanted lay heavy. I hadn’t felt hungry but I had been too tired from a restless night to argue with my mother who knew best. I breathed in and out, slowly and deeply. The sun was hot on the back of my knees. I brushed a fly off my arm and made a pillow of soft grass cuttings. The tension in my shoulders eased a little. I moved my head slowly from side to side before resting it on the ground.

Then I was behind the horse-plough, following my father’s striding boots, the furrows stretching endlessly away. I strained to keep up. My legs were aching, my knees weakening. The slap of his reins resonated in my ears. I slipped in his muddy bootprint and woke up.

The lawnmower skimmed past my open book, showering me with cuttings and headed away again. Startled, I leapt to my feet, checking my watch. Only five minutes lost.
I said a silent prayer of thanks for waking and climbed back over the gate. As I straddled my bike, I prayed again that Seamus would come up on the paper. I lobstered up the hill to the hall full of desks and the man waiting to say those seven words, “You may now turn over your paper.”

Tuesday 23 October 2007

Stinging Fly short stories

The Stinging Fly Press is seeking submissions of short stories for a new anthology to be published in summer 2008. Last year's anthology These Are Our Lives is still available nad highly recommended (though there are a few duff stories) It featured twenty-two stories.

Post submissions to: PO Box 6016, Dublin 8.

No email submissions accepted.

Word count is less important than making the words count, said the publisher.

All stories must be previously unpublished.

The Stinging Fly Press was founded in 2005 and operates in tandem with The Stinging Fly literary magazine.

Closing date: December 14, 2007.

Monday 22 October 2007

Flosca Writing Competition

Flosca Short Story Competition
Deadline: 15 December, 2007
Word Limit: 3500 words.
To enter: Visit
Entry Fee: €12.50
1st Prize: €1000 + Publication in the Prize-winners’ Chapbook.
2nd Prize: €250 + Publication in the Prize-winners’ Chapbook.
3rd Prize: €50 + Publication in the Prize-winners’ Chapbook.
The judge for this competition is David Means,
author of The Secret Goldfish (2006) and Assorted Fire Events (2000)

See this link for an interesting interview with the committee.

Sunday 21 October 2007

Sunday Miscellany

I have never had a piece accepted for Sunday Miscellany. I don't seem to have the knack of writing the type of script that appeals to the show. The mixture is eclectic but non-threatening, often traditional, rarely challenging and usually Irish related. They like history pieces, about places or people related to Ireland. They also take some poetry but poetry that works well on the radio is hard to write. They have an audio history of pieces, so if you are writing to fit, listen to a load first to see what works. There is also a book of pieces and poems you can buy.

Download their guidelines here. They do have open submissions and are said to be looking for new voices but they also have regular writers commissioned who appear again and again (with varying quality and interest in my opinion)

It runs evey Sunday on RTE radio 1 at 09:10, sometimes repeated. Each piece is approximately 700 words long. All scripts submitted are acknowledged, but if you haven't heard within 6 months, it's a no. If they do accept you, you have to go into an RTE studio to record. And they pay.

I thought I would post some scripts I sent that were not accepted. I don't know what else to do with them.

Croquet and Cribbage
Moving in Irish Circles
Checkpoint CharlieBetty Likes Ham
Sleeping with Seamus

Friday 19 October 2007


Rejection from Piatkus press in the UK. They recently been taken over by Transworld. Very tired from full week at work and now they want me to go in tomorrow, Saturday which leaves even less time for myself for writing and generally living.

Anyone in Cavan next Friday night please consider yourself invited to this night of poetry and prose.

Editors Heather Brett and Noel Monahan are publishing the 7th collection in their Authors & Artists Introductions Series. To celebrate 15 years of promoting literature and creative writing especially with young writers, the editors have a huge line-up of newer voices in this anthology. Submissions have been wonderful, from as far away as New Zealand and America to Britain and throughout Ireland,the standard and diversity gets better with each book.

In past years the editors have introduced the likes of Joe Woods, Patrick Chapman, Catriona Clutterbuck, Nessa o Mahoney, Gregoir O Dull, Susan Millar Du Mars and Lorna O Shaughnessy to the public.

Nineteen new contributors offer poetry, prose pieces, short stories and visual art. Four launches of the book have been confirmed with others to follow in the new year. The book contains short stories and poetry in the Irish language, John Corless from Mayo and Aine Durkin from Donegal, respectively, as well as the haunting Scots gaelic poetry from Peter McKay originally from the Isle of Lewis.

Stories range from the achingly beautiful tale by Catriona O Reilly (Cavan)to the quirkyness of James Lawless (Kildare), with memorable work by Alan Mc Monagle (Galway) and Phil Young from Dublin.

Galway poets Aoife Casby and Mary Madec are published alongside Mayo's Michelle O Sullivan and Co Clare's Martin Gleeson.Jim Maguire from Wexford and Stephen Farren from the other side of the country in Derry share space with Tom Conaty and Wendy Mooney from Dublin, and Kate Dempsey from Maynooth. Ginny Sullivan (New Zealand) and Jenni Meredith from Essex end the line up of poets and the visual artist featured is James Brady from Clones.

The four launch dates are:
Friday 26th October Cavan Crystal Hotel, Cavan at 8pm
Thursday 1st November Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar(Mayo Writers) at 7.30
Thursday 8th November Norman Villa Gallery Salthill Galway(Western Writers) at 8pm
Tuesday 20th November Stephen Green, Dublin (Poetry Ireland) at 6.30pm

The book will be on sale, a number of contributors will be reading in each venue and refreshments will be served. For further information or queries either email or phone 0860650908

Thursday 18 October 2007

an average day

So last Sunday I'm at home with a rotten streaming cold, looking dreadful, feeling worse than I look. I'm dosed up on Lemsip and Fisherman's Friends and going through balmed tissues as fast as a Grand Prix driver goes through tyres, as fast as Britney goes through men. I'm feeling guilty for making my daughter go to school with the same cold. There's a used tissue up my left sleeve, two used tissues up my right sleeve, one in each pocket of my jeans and an empty packet in my handbag. My head feels like someone has crammed it overful with newspapers. I can't think straight. I can't think round corners either. And I have excruciating period pains so I have a hot water bottle stuffed down my jeans, which isn't helping much, let me tell you. I'm scared to take any aspirin with the gallons of Lemsip I have already sloshing around my system. So I walk through the kitchen and my 16 year old son, no 17, how did that happen? Anyway, he cringes in the corner at the sight of me. I tell him I'm doing research on how pregnant women walk because it's such a long time for me, nearly fifteen years since I was waddling under my own steam. I splay my feet and lean back slightly, my hands supporting the small of my back. He cringes even more at that. But somehow it seems more acceptable to me to make him think I'm practising being pregnant rather than tell him I have period pains. Why is that?

Wednesday 17 October 2007

Anne Enright wins the Booker

Congratulations to Anne Enright. An Irish Booker prize winner and a woman Booker Prize winner rolled into one.

I heard her read once from 'Making Babies' She gave a good reading, witty. I got her next book 'The Pleasures of Eliza Lynch' and found it disjointed, annoying, turgid in places. So I kind of went off her. I've read a few short stories too which were well written. She's very down to earth. The reviews say that 'The Gathering' is fairly bleak but that's par for the course for Booker winners in general. The latest sales figures show it has only sold 3,253 copies. That is shockingly low. If a writer of her calibre has such low sales figures, how are the rest of us supposed to make a living?

She working now on a collection of short stories which has to be good for short stories.

Here's the list. How many have you read? How many of the authors have you read?

2007 - The Gathering (Anne Enright)
2006 - The Inheritance of Loss (Anita Desai)
2005 - The Sea (John Banville) (IRL)
2004 - The Line of Beauty (Hollinghurst)
2003 - Vernon God Little (DBC Pierre)
2002 - Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
2001 - True History of the Kelly Gang (Peter Carey)
2000 - The Blind Assassin (Margaret Atwood)
1999 - Disgrace (JM Coetzee)
1998 - Amsterdam: A Novel (Ian McEwan)
1997 - The God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy)
1996 - Last Orders (Graham Swift)
1995 - The Ghost Road (Pat Barker)
1994 - How Late It Was, How Late (James Kelman)
1993 - Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (Roddy Doyle) (IRL)
1992 - The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
1992 - Sacred Hunger (Barry Unsworth)
1991 - The Famished Road (Ben Okri)
1990 - Possession: A Romance (AS Byatt)
1989 - The Remains of the Day (Kazuo Ishiguro)
1988 - Oscar and Lucinda (Peter Carey)
1987 - Moon Tiger (Penelope Lively)
1986 - The Old Devils (Kingsley Amis)
1985 - The Bone People (Keri Hulme)
1984 - Hotel Du Lac (Anita Brookner)
1983 - Life & Times of Michael K (JM Coetzee)
1982 - Schindler's List (Thomas Keneally)
1981 - Midnight's Children (Salman Rushdie)
1980 - Rites of Passage (William Golding)
1979 - Offshore (Penelope Fitzgerald)
1978 - The Sea, the Sea (Iris Murdoch)
1977 - Staying on (Paul Scott)
1976 - Saville (David Storey)
1975 - Heat and Dust (Ruth Prawer Jhabvala)
1974 - The Conservationist (Nadine Gordimer)
1973 - The Siege of Krishnapur (JG Farrell)
1972 - G. (John Berger)
1971 - In a Free State (VS Naipaul)
1970 - The Elected Member (Bernice Rubens)
1969 - Something to Answer For (PH Newby)

John Banville won for 'The Sea' in 2005
Roddy Doyle in 1993
Iris Murdoch in 1978

Tuesday 16 October 2007

Inspiration to Publication: A Day for Writers

Inspiration to Publication: A Day for Writers

3 November 2007 at 10 a.m.

Font Literary Agency and Writing Centre in association with Dublin City Library presents Inspiration to Publication: A Day for Writers - A chance for aspiring authors to receive instruction from established writers and publishing experts.

All kinds of writing will be covered, from the personal and private to the public and commercial.

Giving generously of their time and expertise, our speakers are one and all dedicated to nurturing new and emerging writers in Ireland.

Editor and broadcaster Garbhan Downey, novelists Mia Gallagher and Karen Gilleece, non-fiction authors Paul Kilduff and Lia Mills, novelist and writing coach Orna Ross, Literary Agent Ita O’Driscoll and Senior Editor of Penguin Ireland, Patricia Deevy and others will cover free Writing and journaling, writing short stories and articles for newspaper and magazines, writing novels and non-fiction books, and the new opportunities provided by blogging.

The day also features Writing Workshops to get participants creating on the day, a Question-and-Answer Forum and an in-depth session on How To Publish Your Writing,

Writers’ Day will be held on Saturday 3rd November 2007, 10am to 4pm, at Dublin City Library & Archive, 138-144 Pearse Street, Dublin 2. Entrance is €5, payable on the day but prior registration is advised. To register: tel: 01 674 4873 or email

Sunday 14 October 2007

General ruminating

Do The Write Thing is standing still in the bestseller charts at no 26. And that's with it being for sale in Tesco and being promoted (blink and you will have missed it) on Seioge and O'Shea.

Check out this link above for some rather good worksheets from the Dumfries & Galloway Writers' Hub - a community website of information and inspiration for writers in southwest Scotland.

The Wigtown Poetry Competition 07/08 is now open for entries. Check out the winners here for this year, judge Jackie Kay. The prizes are heavy and this year they had 2,000 entries from Arran to Zimbabwe.

Saturday 13 October 2007

Stinging Fly Workshop

These lucky applicants have been selected for the workshop with Sean O'Reilly. Some recognisable names in there. Should be a great group. Congratulations y'all.

Niamh Campbell
Gavin Corbett
Deirdre Gleeson
Patrick Heraghty
Colm Keegan
Viv McDade
Marie Noone
Ellsy O’Neill
Kevin Power

Friday 12 October 2007

5th Smurfit Samhain International Poetry Competition

Here's a poetry competition that hasn't received much publicity this year. The less publicity, the fewer entries so statistically, the greater chance of YOU winning!

Deadline: 23rd October 2007
Entry Fee: 10 Euro per poem, 3 for 20 Euro. Other currencies on website.
Judge: Cathal Ó Searcaigh plus 2 unnamed
Rules: Not previously published nor have won any competition. Anonymous.
Prizes: 1st 4,000 Euro,
2nd : Set of 10 Framed Embroidered Poems Signed by Cathal Ó Searcaigh Valued €750
3rd : Donegal Derryveagh hand cut crystal valued €500
4th : Maggie Dans handmade Gaelic Pottery valued €250
and 6 certificates of merit.
The only prize worth here is 1st. The rest I'd pay not to have.

Wednesday 10 October 2007

Sean O'Brien wins his third Forward Prize

This is an annual prize for the best poetry collection published in the previous year. at £10,000 it's not enough to live on but better than the pittance usually paid for a single poem.

But with the paucity of payment in poetry (how poetic is that phrase, readers?) can't they spread it about a bit?

His collection is called The Drowned Book. (I know a few books I would drown, some of them poetry.)
The prize of £5,000 for the best first collection goes to Daljit Nagra for Look we have coming to Dover and the prize for the best single poem goes to Alice Oswald.

Monday 8 October 2007

Anyone recognise this short story?

From a lady in Nova Scotia (which is in Canada!)

I'm looking for a short story written by an Irish woman author and while I remember the story, I can't recall the title or author. The story is about a perfect wife who strays with a would-be lover, but everything goes horribly wrong with their intended tryst. Her mother and mother's best friend happen to be in the out-of-town restaurant where the lovers plan to meet. It's quite funny. I want to write a play based on this story and present it at the local university. Have you read this story? Any help you can offer would be most appreciated. I'm dying to write this but don't want to plagiarize. I want to be able to say that the play is based on this story by this author.

Thanks so much.

Sunday 7 October 2007

A little EMO

Doing some research on EMO for a character. Fascinating stuff. Love me, hate me, shoot me. That sort of thing. Feeling a bit EMO myself still since the rejection from Poolbeg. I have to stop myself spending all day researching instead of writing. I'm aiming at 1,000 words a day. I've done it two days in 7 and yesterday 500 words so not too good so far!

Anyway here are some EMO cartoons I love, Pon & Zi.

And my story's in the Tribune today and referenced on the front page of the Review section too. A new story, a new voice, in New Irish Writing (and I quote) but then they go and get the title wrong!

Saturday 6 October 2007

More blogs to surf

As if you needed to spend any more time surfing....try these ones out.

Diary of an Unpublished Author will soon have to change her blog's name as she has a book deal.

Eoin Purcell's blog about publishing and books.

Novel Racers is a great group blog on all things writing.

PersonaNonData blogs mainly about publishing.

SallyQ blogs mainly about writing and dog grooming.

Red Mum rants and muses in Dublin.

Richard Charkin blog who recently moved from Macmillan as CEO to Director of Bloomsbury. Check out his entry on struggling writers 22 June 2007.

Sigla Blog is Sinead Geelson's blog about books and writing.

I thought I had already pointed to Susan Hill's blog about writing. She has a creative writing course.

Friday 5 October 2007

New Fiction Writing Competition

Amazon teams up with Penguin Group USA and HP in this competition for new writers. (Link in the title) They are looking for the next great novelist. All entrants are eligible to self-publish their novel with CreateSpace and sell it on So perhaps this is mainly a promotion for this service.
Registration deadline is November 5th 2007 bit only the first 5,000 entries will be accepted so get in early. Submit the first 5,000 words of your book.
Amazon editors and top reviewers will read the 5,000 scripts and select semi-finalists. They don't say how many. Excerpts from the semi finalists will be posted on for review. They will also receive a review of their work from Publishers Weekly.
The top ten finalists will be announced on Aptil 7th 2008 based on customer feedback and reviews.
Residents of the following countries are eligible to enter the Contest: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada (excluding the Province of Qu?bec), China, Denmark, Finland, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States (the 50 states and D.C.), and the United Kingdom.
Prize is a contract from Penguin amongst other things.
Note you are granting Penguin Group USA first refusal on your manuscript so it can't be sent elsewhere until you have won or been eliminated.

See the NY Times article and this one from Seattle pi. The second article also mentions another competition for crime writing from Borders/Court TV and

Deadline 11 November 2007.

Wednesday 3 October 2007

Rejected again. Are they trying to tell me something

But let's start with the good news.

Sunday Tribune Irish Writing pages. This Sunday. Check it out. Me! My short story. I heard yesterday and was jumping up and down all day and telling anyone who would listen (and some who wouldn't)
then I got an email from my agent.

Poolbeg turned me down. Said my novel was too English. What does that mean? The main character is too English? Too English for what? Does the Irish readers market want their female protagonists to be Irish? And go for Irish guys? I thought it would be interested for Irish readers to read about Ireland and the Irish as seen through English eyes. Or am I too English? Can't do much about that. What should I do now? Make my characters Irish (it's possible, thinking about it but a lot of work.) Would it be worthwhile? Abandon it, assuming the English publishers who haven't said No yet, will also say No? I'm flummoxed. Gutted. I mean, Paula has to know the market but I really don't understand it.

So as you can understand, the gloss has gone off the Sunday Tribune short story before it's even published.

Tuesday 2 October 2007

MA Creative Writing Courses in Ireland

MA Creative Writing courses seem to be the natural progression for anyone who has the time, the money and (we hope) the talent to get through a year's creative writing course. What use is such an MA. Firstly, after you assume the learning process is the number one reason, there is the networking side. Also an MA after your name allows you then to teach with more kudos than just, say, years of experience writing and teaching will give you.

I wish I had the money to do one. They are all around the 6,000 Euro mark. That can buy an awful lot of part time evening courses, often given by the same tutors.

Galway do an MA in Writing. Fees 6,005 Euro for EU students. It is a 48 week course. Staff includes Michael Harding, Mary O'Malley, Joe Woods and Jonathan Williams. Maximum 15 students.

The UCD MA course on Creative Writing is in its second year now. it is a one year course. Deadline 1 May 2008. Staff includes Paul Durcan, Denis O'Driscoll, Hugo Hamilton, Billy Roche, Conor McPherson and Jonathan Williams. Fees 5,000 Euro for EU students. Last year there were about 16 people on the course.

Trinity College Dublin does an M Phil in Creative Writing, a one year full time course. There are two terms of 9 weeks and the third term concentrates on writing portfolios. Staff include Gerard Dawe, Deirdre Madden and Jonathan Williams (who really gets around!) There are usually about 16 people on the course, half from non-EU countries. Fees 6,623 Euro for EU students.

The other well known Creative Writing Masters is the MA in Queens, Belfast. It is one year full time or two years part time. Staff includes Medbh McGuckian, Ciaran Carson, Sinead Morrissey, and Glenn Patterson (what? no Jonathan Williams?)

Carlow have now started an MFA in Creative Writing which I hadn't heard of before. It is low residency and (I think) aimed at the US market. Residency is 4 lots of 11 days in Carlow and Pittsburgh. I didn't know Pittsburgh was known for its writers. I haven't heard of any of the US staff but only huge American writers are known over here. The Irish writers in Carlow are not yet announced. The fees are in dollars and seem phenomenally expensive to me.

The University of Glamorgan, Wales MPhil also seems to be aimed at Irish based writers with residencies arranged here. Total costs about £1,500 per year for two years, low residency. Staff includes Tony Curtis (the Welsh one, I think, not the Irish poet) and Sheenagh Pugh. The course has about 8 students per year. Fiction and Poetry.

Monday 1 October 2007

More info on Miss Write competition

Here are the 5 runners up (no winner, remember)

Stacey Taylor, 24, from Cardiff, penned 'Sequel Opportunity', the tale of a former child actress choosing between normal life and showbiz.

Elisa McGarry, 23, from Winchester, wrote 'Playing Happy Families', about a woman's battle with fertility, infidelity and insistent old flames.

Gail Haslam, 33, from London, created Kate, the heroine of 'Miss Me?', who gave up her career for love, and wound up single and unemployed - before fighting back.

Nicola Brear, 23, from Barnsley, spun a Manhattan tale of restaurants, romance and riches in 'The Restaurant'.

Kristen Paul, 26, from Hampshire, plunged us into the scandalous world of baby modelling in 'I See You Baby'.

All very young. It seems there is a gap in the market for 20 year old authors writing about 20 year olds for 20 year olds. But by the time you've written something for this market, the gap will no doubt already be plugged.