Thursday 31 January 2008

Local Arts

If you write do you know your local council art office and arts officer? They vary considerably within Ireland and the UK but it's always worth making contact. Most councils have some kind of grants for artists on offer. Find out, call, checked their website. Remember it's your money they're spending. You as a tax and rate payer pay for county council money so why not ask for some of it back? They usually look for you to live, work or have roots or connection of some sort with the county. Get yourself out there.

Take this one from Wexford as an example.

The Arts Department of Wexford County Council is pleased to announce that applications are now being invited from individual artists, resident in or originally from County Wexford for the 2008 Artist Bursary Award Scheme.

Wexford County Council’s Artist Bursary Award Scheme is aimed at realising the Local Authority’s policy of supporting individual creative artists in society. The bursary awards are aimed at:
-Contributing to developing and sustaining an artist’s career
-Supporting and improving the quality of an individual artist’s existing practice
-Encouraging artists endeavouring to further develop their skills
-Assisting an artist’s development
-Acknowledging excellence in the arts
-Contributing to the growth of a cohort of skilled County Wexford artists

In addition, Wexford County Council is also offering: 2 Education / Training Awards valued at €5,000 each open to artists practicing in any artform or context

For further information and an application form, please contact: The Arts Department, Wexford County Council, County Hall, Wexford. T: 053 9176500 ext. 6441/6369 or email: The deadline for receipt of applications is 5pm, Thursday, 28th February, 2008

Wednesday 30 January 2008

Reading in Belfast

Come and see me reading in Belfast this Friday 1st February. I've never been to the city so am very excited about visiting the city. Any tips on where to go, what to see, where to eat/drink/make merry, let me know.


Windows Publications Invites you to the launch of Authors and Artists No 7
in the Culturlann Centre, 216 Falls Road, Belfast.

Friday 1st February at 7 pm

Readings in Irish and English, music and wine.

Aine Durkin
Kate Dempsey
Alan McGonagle
Michelle O'Sullivan
Wendy Mooney
James Lawless

Monday 28 January 2008


create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands
Only 14% that terrible. When I was a teenager, I vowed to travel the world.

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

31% of the US.

Sunday 27 January 2008

Heath Ledger in A Knights Tale

I am unaccountably sad about Heath Ledger's death. From Brokeback mountain, of course, from ten things I hate about you but particularly A Knight's Tale. What a loss. At 28 it's not that I grew up with him but still, he was so young and talented.

Saturday 26 January 2008

P.J. O'Connor Radio Play Competition

Have you ever considered writing for radio? There are many opportunities and a good way to break in is to try for the P.J. O'Connor competition. Here's the gen:

The RTÉ P.J. O'Connor Radio Drama Awards were established in 1983 to honour the late P. J. O'Connor, former Head of Drama in RTÉ Radio 1, who was noted for his encouragement of new talent. The aim of the competition is to encourage new writers to radio drama and to increase awareness of the possibilities and scope of radio as a medium in the field of drama.

Rules: 28 minute play (rule of thumb is one page per minute when properly formatted)
Prizes: €3,000 for first prize, €2,000 second, €3,000 third prize. All plays are planned to be recorded and broadcast. They shortlist between 12 and 20.

If you are a new writer in this medium, there is a great weekend course they offer shortlisted writers in writing for radio. And you may get lucky too. Sometimes they record and broadcast shortlisted plays and you are paid the standard RTE rates.
Deadline: March 18th 2008 - note the day after Paddy's Day. So you need to post on Friday 14th March (though I believe they are flexible about postmarked dates)

Tips: Listen to lots of radio drama. You can get the BBC afternoon play online. Remember:

  • Don't use too many characters in one scene. Confusing.
  • Use people's names for the first while so listeners know who the characters are.
  • Don't use too many characters in the whole thing as there is a limit to the cast numbers.
  • Start a new scene with a new voice.
  • Remember the listener can't turn back the page to check what's going on so be clear.
  • You can go anywhere - Bogner beach, a Bali nightclub, Outer Mongolia, outer space, underwater, Victorian Dublin, Roman Alexandria, Stone Age Kenya.
  • Use sound effects to allow the listener to picture (if that's the right word) the setting. But don't go over board.
  • Music is always good for mood.

Other guidelines are similar to short stories. Start in the action so the listener doesn't turn off. Don't use similar sounding names for multiple characters.

Friday 25 January 2008

Dates for your diary

Anne Enright, the Booker prize winner is reading from her book The Gathering next Tuesday 29 January at 8.00pm in Pavillion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin. She will also read from her forthcoming collection of short stories Taking Pictures, to be published in March. Let's hope the BOoker win will promote sales of this as short stories are often badly promoted, displayed and, funnily enough, this is reflected in the sales. Last time I looked, there wasn't a section in Waterstones for short stories.

Admission €12

Tel: 01 2312929

Deadline for Strokestown Poetry Competition is 31st January. See previous post.

Edgeworthstown Literary festival as a poetry competition, deadline als 31st January.
Fee: €5 for 1 poem, 3 for €10. Prizes are small at €200 for first prize, €100 for 2nd €50 for 3rd. But maybe that means the competition will be smaller. They also have a short story competition at €10 for 3 stories. First Prize is no money but the Deirdre Purcell Perpetual Cup, 2nd prize is €100 for 2nd €50 for 3rd.

This sounds really good in Strangford, Co Down: Wild Geese Festival 2008

The second Write! Down Wild Geese Festival will take place in Strangford, Co Down on Saturday, 9 February. This includes free writing workshops with Ted Deppe, Kate Newmann and Damian Smyth.

The Stinging Fly is open for submissions, poetry and short stories until March 14th.

Thursday 24 January 2008

The Quiet Quarter on Lyric FM

The Quiet Quarter, a daily 5 minute thoughtful and sometimes though-provoking piece, has changed time again. I turned on the radio a couple of weeks ago to listen and there it wasn't!

Now it's on Monday to Friday at 11:45 am on Lyric Notes with Máire Nic Gearailt.
You can listen online - recommended and useful if you want to know the type of piece that works well. You can also subscribe the the podcast. It pays too.

Tuesday 22 January 2008


Shopping trolley art in Birdfair 2006 England 4
Originally uploaded by sparkyfaisca

The closing dates for Arts Council awards and grants in 2008 are as follows:

Regularly Funded Organisations: 27 March
Annual Programming Grants: 25 June
Annual Funding: 2 October
Travel & Training Award: Ongoing
Deis: Ongoing
Bursary Award: 14 February & 26 June
Location One Fellowship: 21 February
Small Festivals Scheme: 29 February & 19 September
Projects: New Work Award: 6 March & 24 July
Projects: Once-off Award: 6 March & 24 July
Banff Residency: 13 March
Commissions Award: 20 March & 11 September

I recommend studying the list of people/organisations who got funding the last couple of years but remember this is your money, the taxpayer so why not apply?

There is a certain skill to filling in grants applications successfully. I haven't got it. Any recommmendations? Buzz words? Buttons to hit?

Monday 21 January 2008

Irish Writers' Centre creative writing courses

A Kiss For Teacher
Originally uploaded by Vermont Ferret

There are lots of good ones on offer this year, both weekly and weekends. As I've said before, different tutors have different tutoring styles. They can be quite expensive so make sure the course is the right one for you.

Tuesday 5 February 6.30 - 8.30pm Writing Non-fiction John Maher 10 weeks €250
Wednesday 2 April 6.30 - 8.30pm Short Stories John Maher 10 weeks €250
Thursday 7 February 6.30 - 8.30pm Beginners Creative Writing tutor? 10 weeks €250
Thursday 7 February 6.30 - 8.30pm Young Adult Writers 14 – 17 year old Kate Dempsey 6 weeks €125
Weekend 9 & 10 February 10am - 4pm Selling your writing Brendan Nolan 2 days €200
Weekend 23 & 24 February 10am - 4pm How to write a book and get it published Alf McCreery 2 days €200
Weekend 1 & 2 March 10am - 4pm Poetry Workshop Mark Granier 2 days €200

More information on the Irish writers centre website. You can even pay online.

Sunday 20 January 2008

Andrew Motion poetry reading for Oxfam

You can see a lot of poets reading and listen to interpretations of more poems on Youtube. It's a good way to lose a few hours.

In particular there are some readings for the recording of Oxfam's Lifes Lines CD. Check it out. Andrew Motion, Wendy Cope, Kevin Higgins, John Siddique, Patience Agbabe, Danny Abse and John Hegley. Search for more readings by John Hegley. They're great. Kinda rap, kinda not.

Stopping by woods on a snowy evening

Search for any of your favourite, well known poets and there's probably a recording, either video or soundtrack here.

William Butler Yeats - The Lake Isle of Innisfree

The traditional way of reading has changed since Yeats' time.

Forgetfulness - Billy Collins Animated Poetry

I've already blogged about these wonderful animations.

Sims 2 English Project: Robert Frost

Stopping by the Woods On a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, recreated in Sims 2.

Saturday 19 January 2008

Slushpile submissions

Slush and Cement
Originally uploaded by Dave Ward Photography

A great blog posting every aspiring author/emerging writer should read at 5th Estate. This writer, Daniel Clay, had more than 30 rejections from agents before he was taken up by Curtis Brown and his novel Broken is to be published this year.

Here are the salient points. (Read my blog and you need never read another)

He submitted the first 3 chapters. Some people submit any old 3 chapters. I'm with Daniel here. I think the continuity is important and anyway, if you're submitting your best three chapters, what is wrong that you need to chage on your first three chapters?

He checked in the Writers and Artists handbook that the agent dealt with the genre he was submitting. Well, Duh! Apparently hundreds don't and waste the postage and everyone's time.

His synopsis was more of a blurb. But I've read that agents want you to get all the way to the end so they know it has an end.

He didn't put anything else in the envelope other than the 3 chapters, covering letter and synopsis and an SAE. So no chocolate bribes or silky knickers.

He did multiple submissions. He always kept 3 out there.

Generously he includes the covering letter that finally did it for him. He puts the blurb in the letter and compares his style to Mark Haddon and Alice Sebold (which I've heard before is a no-no....)

Friday 18 January 2008

Free Workshop in Dublin - Crime

Dublin City Libraries strike again. Fancy a night of crime next Friday 25th January 2008?

Ever felt you could write a whodunnit?

A workshop for crime writers with crime writing experts

Speakers: Co-founder of the Orange Prize Jane Gregory is the literary agent for best selling crime authors such as Val McDermid, Minette Walters & Mo Hayder. She is also co-founder of the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival.

Maria Rejt is the publishing director of Macmillan, Pan & Picador as well as editor for Colin Dexter, Minette Walters, Kathy Reics & Scott Turow. She also teaches creative writing.

Pearse Street Library 138-144 Pearse St Dublin 2
Friday 25th January 6.30pm-8.30pm

Admission Free but booking ESSENTIAL

Tel: 01 674 4873
More information available from Jane Alger
Tel: 674 4809 or
mobile: 086 841 8138

Thursday 17 January 2008

More blogs!

It's time to update my blogroll, ruthlessly removing those blogs I don't read or don't get updated often enough and adding, for your elucidation and amusement, some new and illuminating blogs I have stumbled across in the last couple of months. Read 'em and weep.

Ms Baroque in Hackney blogs about books, poetry and reading.

My boyfriend is a Twat has a book. I wonder did she write the blog with the idea of getting a contract.

Girl Friday writes about the Friday Project which focuses on creating books from websites.

LitKicks blogs about literary writing/poetry and has gathered some interesting links if you're looking to procrastinate from your own writing life.

Jude writes about writing for teens, children and her MA.

Adventures in Writing from County Cavan's wild west.

Sally's Writing Competition Calendar has a good selection of verified competition, both long standing and new.

Dead Beat Gerard Beirne blogs on literary thoughts.

Background Artist has been blogging for a while about poetry in Ireland.

Doug Jackson blogs about getting his upcoming book picked up from the website youwriteon.

justine larbalestier writes about writing but down under.

Catherine Sharp has Sharp Words.

Beboauthor blogs about writing.

Shane Hegarty from the Irish Times blogs here bits that didn't fit into his column.

Wednesday 16 January 2008

RTE Scheduling

So who was the wally who scheduled Desperate Housewives at the same time as Art Lives about John Banville? Both were well worth watching or setting the video for. are we supposed to be differentiated into people who want to watch either one or the other but not both?

The script on Desperate Housewives was very cleverly done where Bree (Brie?) tries to get the recipe for pie from her dodgy but super polite neighbour. A writer could take a few lessons from that. I wonder does John Banville watch Desperate Housewives? What he does watch is The Sopranos. And I've always said much the same as him, though not so lyrically and succinctly. It's modern day Greek tragedy. Character driven, moments of high comedy, betrayal, sex, money, it had it all. The last episode in particular was an exercise on what to leave in, what to take out. Fabulous.

The RTE Guide said
a writer frequently described as "difficult." The documentary follows him from life in Wexford town, through a "grindingly boring job as a clerk" in Aer Lingus, to work as a journalist with the Irish Press and The Irish Times. We witness Banville on trips to Rome and London, but Being John Banville focuses mostly on the tangled business that is the commerce and the art of writing. His self described "killer agent" Ed Victor features prominently and Banville reveals the impact of his 2005 Man Booker Prize win for The Sea. There's also a look at his double life as thriller writer Benjamin Black.

They must have done the Benjamin Black bit and the agent bit at the start when I was still on Wisteria Lane.

Tuesday 15 January 2008

Teaching Poetry

I teach creative writing to diverse groups. Here's a illuminating article about teaching poetry to some precocious teenagers and loosing them on the unsuspecting public. Great fun.

And here's an article denigrating selling poetry in cigarette vending machines on the Guardian Blog site, always worth a visit.

Monday 14 January 2008

2008 Irish Blog Awards - nominations open

The nominations for this year’s Irish Blog Awards are open. If you’d like to vote for me in Best Blog or Best Post or Most Humourous Post (I've seen better) or Best Arts and Culture Blog or Best Personal Blog Or best Newcomer, please do.
All the details are here:

Never done this before but it sound like a worthy thing to do. They say:

There are two judging rounds this year, so every nominated blog will be judged. No public vote means it is about quality, not the number of people who like you. Any nomination that nominates a blog for every category will be treated as spam and that nomination will be deleted. Choose wisely.

Apparently blogs can only be nominated for Best Blog and one other category.

Sunday 13 January 2008

Poetry Competition - Judges Comments

You can learn a lot reading judges reports. Here's salient points from Don Paterson who judged the Bridport poetry prize 2007.
He starts talking about culling down to a long list. He mentions in other competitions coming across terrible typing, and typos, having pot pourri fall out from the envelope (could have worse things fall out of an envelope - suggestions please!), cats drawn in the margin (could have worse things drawn in the margin), copperplate fonts (could be ...etc) written in crayon or blood (apparently entries from prisoners are usually hand written, but very neatly) death threats, acrostic or otherwise.

He start looking for poems with a point or a story, an interesting one. Sometimes that can be forgotten. So you saw a daffodil. It was pretty. So what? What does that do for me?

He also looked for real structural armature. Not sure I really know what that means but he says lots were lines with nice images strung together. I saw a daffodil, the first of the year. It was yellow as butter, yellow as my Granny's pinny. It bent as the wind blew.

Then he says too many afforded me no surprise - which is the reader's only test that the writer has themselves been surprised or excited or moved in the actual making of the poem, and not just in the idea or event that inspired it.. That one is worth pondering. The daffodil bending was really exciting. But was the poem? Was the making of the poem, the crafting?

Then on to tricky judgements. Technical craft. Literal context - the reader has to be able to work out where/when the poem is. Dramatis Personae - and who exactly. Watch your pronouns here. Chronological sequence - that would be the when, then.

So often, though, the reader is forced to expend all the energy fighting their way toward literal sense and temporal sequence that they should be spending on the deeper, elusive truth the poem is - hopefully - trying to communicate. Too often we fudge what the poem is about, forgetting that the reader has understand this before they can get on with the business of what the poem means. Strongly agree with this. I get bored with poems if I can't work out roughly what it's about quickly. I don't mind digging for detail but I don't want to have to excavate down to Troy.

Click on the title link to read the full report.
The winning poets are a mixed bunch. Check out their bios.

Time is running out to get your poems in to Strokestown International Poetry Competition.

Friday 11 January 2008

Short story competition - judges comments

Tracy Chevalier (The Girl with the Pearl Earring - saw that film over Christmas, what fabulous cinematography it had, like a moving painting)
Anyway Tracy judged the 2007 Bridport short story competition. She was given a longlist (doesn't say how long) culled by Bridport readers from the thousands of entries. She has some interesting comments to make on the type stories she received and the flaws she noticed.

  • Certain themes recurred with almost monotonous regularity: aging and problems with elderly parents, suicide, road kill(?), illness, religious faith and lots of cigarettes. So I would steer clear of these for a while unless you can spin them your way.
  • Underlying all of these issues is a persistent attempt to make sense of death. ditto
  • Sorely missing from the entries was humour. Humour is hard. Humour gets you noticed. But in my experience wit can be misidentified as light writing.
  • What let down many of the stories, however, were their endings...the reader demands the impossible: to be both surprised and satisfied. So drag them in with a well crafted beginning but don't forget the ending has to work too.
  • Make every word count. How often have you heard this but it bears repeating. There is no room for flab, waffling or wandering off at tangents.

Click on the title to read the whole report and comments on the winning stories. You can also buy the anthology.
The winner, Graham Mort, lectures in creative writing in Lancaster University.
The 2nd prize winner,Vanessa Gebbie, won the Daily Telegraph novel competition and is Assistant Editor of Cadenza (who just rejected me so they're not in my good books)
The 3rd prize winner, Lisa Wieland is an American writer and teaches creative writing in East Carolina University.
Other shortlisted writers also teach creative writing at Leicester, Reading and John Moore Universities but most of them are part timers. Except for Toby Litt.

I'll blog later about the poets and on the 2008 Bridport prize competition.

Thursday 10 January 2008

Literary Agents in Ireland

Note: Agents and agents' needs change. Please refer to this most recent blog post from November 2010.

There are only a few agents in Ireland. I'm looking for one who deals with UK publishers.

I'm reposting the list of Irish agents with updated details.

I dealt with this one once when my book wasn't polished:
The Lisa Richards Agency
Founded in 1998
46 Upper Baggot St
Dublin 4
Tel: (01)6603534
Fax: (01)6603545
Contact: Faith O’Grady
Seeks - Writers of Fiction, Non-Fiction,Childrens and Screenplays.
Send synopsis, 2 -3 speciman chapters, cover letter and s.a.e. (essential)
Translation rights handled by The Marsh Agency Ltd.
No reading fee
Authors include June Considine, Tara Heavey, Colm Keena, Martin Malone, Pauline McLynn, Sarah O’Brien, David O’Doherty, Damien Owens, Homan Poetterton, Kevin Rafter, Annie Sparrow, Denise Deegan, Paul Howard (Ross O’Carroll-Kelly,) Roisin Ingle and Hector

The most high profile one (but Jonathan is a bit grumpy when I've met him.)
Jonathan Williams Literary Agency
Rosney Mews
Upper Glenageary Road
Co Dublin
Tel: (01) 2803482
Fax: (01) 2803482
Contact: Jonathan Williams
Founded in 1981. Literary Agency, evaluating, editing, rewriting, proof reading, consultancy; experience in Canada as well as Ireland. General fiction and non-fiction, preferably by Irish authors (home 10%) Will suggest revision; no reading fee unless a fast decision is required. Return postage appreciated.

This is the one recommended to me. Ger represents a some woman's fiction authors.
The Book Bureau
7 Duncairn Avenue
Co Wicklow
Tel: (01) 2764996
Fax: (01) 2764834
Contact: Geraldine Nichol
Full-length MSS (home 100%, USA 15%,translation 20%) Fiction preferred -thrillers, Irish novels, Literary fiction,women’s novels and general commercial. No horror,science fiction,children’s or Poetry.Strong editorial support.
No reading fee. Preliminary letter,synopsis and 3 sample chapters.
Return postage essential. Works with agents overseas.

The big name one who launched Cecilia Ahearn:
Marianne Gunne-O’Connor
Suite 17 Morrison Chambers
32 Nassau Street
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 6779100
Commercial and literary fiction, non-fiction, biography, children's fiction (UK 15%, overseas 20%, film/TV 20%). Send preliminary letter plus half-page synopsis and first 50pp. Translation rights handled by Vicki Satlow Literary Agency, Milan. Authors: Cecelia Ahern, Chris Binchy, Ken Bruen, Claudia Carroll, Julie Dam, Noelle Harrison, Claire Kilroy, Patrick McCabe, Mike McCormack, Paddy McMahon, Anita Notaro, Morag Prunty, Naill Williams. Founded 1996.
However a friend of mine sent the standard 3 chapters and a synopsis and received a letter back, return of post saying they don't take unsoliticed so I suggest you write a really good query letter first.

I've met these nice ladies recently.
Font International
Hollyville House
Hollybrook Rd
Dublin 3
Tel: (01) 8532356
Ita O’Driscoll, Orna Ross
launched in 2003
Commission 15%,Overseas 20%.
Experienced published writers only. Adult fiction, non-fiction. (No childrens,drama,sci-fi, erotic,technical or poetry.) Unsolicited manuscripts will be returned unopened. Cover letter, word count, SAE for return.
Their writers include Amanda Brunker, Paul Kilduff, Evelyn Cosgrove, Garbhan Downey and Aine Greaney.

Note: The Causeway Literary Agentcy's website is not working so I would hesitate to send my manuscript to them.
Causeway Literary Agency
24 East Claremont Street,
Edinburgh EH7 4JP
PO Box 833,
Co. Kildare
Tel No: 0131 556 2006 / 3534 586 9801

Wednesday 9 January 2008

Article in The Independent on your first novel

This is a riveting, sensible article about how to publish your first novel and why. It's a bit gloomy but in a realistic way. I know it's very hard to get published. And I also know that just because you get a book published, doesn't mean it will win the Booker. First books often sink without trace.
But agents and publishers do need to keep their doors open as no one can say for sure what the next sure fire bestseller will be.
There are often stories about slush pile stardom and multiply rejected award winning authors but they are few and far between. Extremely few and far between. John Grisham, Richard Adams. JK Rowling. The stories make good copy, that's all.
There is good advice on where to look for advice. Not even an MA will guarantee you publication, my friends. Not even UEA. (I'd love to go to UEA)
And even if you're published and a well known name, the money is usually pathetic. Get into films and TV if you want the money, so I'm told.
Check out the links for further reading too.

Tuesday 8 January 2008

Search terms

I was checking my blog statistics and it's amazing what search terms show up as being pointed to this blog. Lots of ones about writing, of course, quite a few looking specifically for "emerging Writer" or "Emerging writer blog" which is nice. The most popular ones seem to be on the Creative Writing MA and on publishers particularly those accepting unsolicited manuscripts.
The following search terms been used to have find this blog:

  • creative writing (courses/teaching) Dublin
  • stories/short stories/novel/play writing competition 2008
  • short sunset poems
  • People's College Parnell Square
  • Women's magazines that publish short stories
  • irish publishers fiction
  • stinging fly
  • irish literary agents
  • england poet blog
  • radio drama format
  • query letter
  • synopsis/unsolited manuscripts publishing
  • ma creative writing (ireland)
  • submission guidelines
  • emerging writer

and numerous ego-surfers looking for their own names. I won't name them. You know who you are! Either that or you have very persistent virtual stalkers.
yes all of this wisdom is already contained in the archives of this blog.
How can it be? What will the future bring? I hear you cry. Dunno, do I?

Monday 7 January 2008

The Shoestring Collective

A friend of mine is involved in this fascinating sounding event on Saturday, January 19th, 2008

James Joyce Centre
35 North Great George's Street
Dublin 1

Guests on the night include:

Louis is Ireland's greatest living jazz guitarist and has played with jazz legends such as Benny Goodman and Dizzie Gillespie. What more need we say! Seriously…

Originally from Australia, Chiara has lived and performed in Ireland for a number of years, and she released her critically acclaimed album Night Time in 2006. On January 19th, Chiara will be joined by a very special guest – the award-winning actress, playwright and sister – Sara Browne! Sara is a Sydney-based performer and a founding member of acoustic duo The Ladycakes.

Melissa and Melanie will be performing material from their comedy show A TOUCH OF KLASS. The show is based on two outlandish Dublin beauty therapists, and has been recently made into a pilot for television and picked up by Midas Production Company. "A TOUCH OF KLASS - If you can't spell it, you haven't got it!"

Colm is a poet and short story writer, and he has been short-listed on two separate occasions for the prestigious Sunday Tribune / Hennessy Award.

Ciaran is an award-winning traditional Irish fiddle player. He has toured extensively and is sure to be one of the highlights of January's club.

the iciclethieves
Built around the song writing partnership of Sandra Adams and Colm Cunningham, the iciclethieves will perform new compositions, some relics, and a borrowed gem or two.

A short comic piece written by Stephen Kennedy and performed by Seamus Brennan.

And, as if all that was not enough, we will also throw in an award-winning short film for good measure. You can't say fairer than that!

Tickets available on the night at the James Joyce Centre. Doors open at 7.50pm. Price EUR10. Strictly no admission after 8.25pm. Show ends 11pm.

For further information contact:
Stephen Kennedy 087 4196365 or Sandra Adams 085 111 3740.

Sunday 6 January 2008

Costa Books Awards

Catherine O'Flynn won the Costas for first novel with "What Was Lost" published by small press Tindal Street Press. I haven't read it but have heard good things. It is based around the endless corridors and CCTV world of a city shopping centre. The judges described it as "an extraordinary book". It is, they said: "A formidable novel blending humour and pathos in a cleverly constructed and absorbing mystery." So how come it was rejected by 14 agents?

  • A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam (John Murray) - set against the backdrop of the Bangladeshi civil war
  • Gifted by Nikita Lalwani (Viking)- gripping coming-of-age story dealing with cross-cultural issues in modern Britain
  • Mosquito by Roma Tearne (Harper Press) - A compelling story set in war torn Sri Lanka

Simon Sebag Montefiore won the biography category for his exhaustively researched biography of Young Stalin, tracing the early life of the dictator and his development into the monster he became. he became more than a little obsessed in his seven year quest to write this. He's now writing a book on Jerusalem, the place, not the hymn.

  • Rudolf Nureyev by Julie Kavanagh (Fig Tree)
  • Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre (Bloomsbury) - double - maybe triple - agent Eddie Chapman
  • Fatty Batter by Michael Simkins (Ebury Press) - cricket, in case you're wondering

AL Kennedy won the best novel category for her book Day about a second world war Lancaster tail-gunner, She is working now on a script for a screen version. Shortlisted were

  • Skin Lane by Neil Bartlett (Serpent's Tail)
  • Death of a Murderer by Rupert Thomson (Bloomsbury) - An exquisitely written ghost story
  • The Road Home by Rose Tremain (Chatto & Windus)- London seen through the eyes of her Eastern European migrant

Ann Kelley won the children's book award with her book The Bower Bird. This is about 12-year-old Gussie, awaiting news of a heart transplant operation. Kelley lost her son Nathan 20 years ago when he was just 24. He died a week after a heart and lung transplant. "Yes it was an emotional experience, but it was a bit like bringing him back to life, which was wonderful," she said.

  • Crusade by Elizabeth Laird (Macmillan Children's Books) - historical page turner
  • What I Was by Meg Rosoff (Puffin Books) - set in East Anglia
  • Blood Red Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick (Orion Children's Books) - set in Russia

Jean Sprackland won the poetry category for her third collection, Tilt, which has a strong environmental theme and addresses "a world in free fall". As usual, poetry is the category that sells the least. Buy more Poetry, readers. Poets are poor.

  • The Speed of Dark by Ian Duhig (Picador) - a reworking of Le Roman de Fauvel, a medieval satire
  • The Space of Joy by John Fuller (Chatto & Windus) - endless desire for love
  • Look We Have Coming to Dover! by Daljit Nagra (Faber and Faber) - explores the idealism and reality of a multicultural Britain

Each of the category winners receives £5,000. The overall Costas winner is announced next month. (P.S. Used to be the Whitbreads!)

Friday 4 January 2008

Cost of directory enquiries

OK, nothing to do with writing but...I didn't realise the difference in cost for calling the different directory enquiries from mobiles.

Meteor Bill Pay
Number First/subsequent minute
National Directory Enquiries (11811)* €1.30/ 75c
National Directory Enquiries (11850)* €1.30/ 75c
National Directory Enquiries (11890)* 90c/ 75c
National Directory Enquiries (11888)* 90c/ 75c

* A minimum of one minute will be charged, after which, per second billing will apply.

Vodaphone bill pay
Costs for Vodafone 11850, 11811, and 11890 are the same:

Minimum charge covering the first minute: 79c
Charge for subsequent minutes: 79c

O2 pay monthly

Number Initial /Subsequent per minute charge*
Eircom National 11811 €0.75/ €0.75
Conduit National 11850 €0.75/ €0.75
Numbers Direct 11890 €0.50/ €0.50

Conduit 11850 Minimum Charge 89.00 cent
Eircom 11811 Minimum Charge 84.51 cent (first 30 seconds)
Numbers Direct 11890 Minimum Charge 71.00 cent

11811 Eircom limits you to 3 numbers per call.
All 3 text you the number if you call from a mobile.

11890 is the overall winner at current prices.

Thursday 3 January 2008

Reading List for 2008

The Amazon widget at the side is a start of the list of the books under my bed waiting to be read. I've made a start but it's an ever growing phenomenon. New Year's resolution. Stop buying books. Or stop buying books if at all possible. Or stop going into Borders. (love that shop)and stop logging into Amazon. Coming up this year also is a new collection by my favourite living (and possibly also favourite living or dead) poet, Wendy Cope. I might have to break my resolution for that one.

Another nearly pointless blogger quiz
Your Quirk Factor: 55%

You're a pretty quirky person, but you're just normal enough to hide it.
Congratulations - you've fooled other people into thinking you're just like them!

I hide it well!

Wednesday 2 January 2008

How to get rejected from the slush pile

Shamelessly reworded from Miss Snark. Advice on how not to write a query letter.

  • "I'm nationally known..." and yet not to be found on google.
  • "I've just finished the first draft..." of anything. If it's not yet polished and publishable, don't send it yet.
  • Describing your main character as "female protagonist". This is not the Army, nor is it the Police academy. Nor is it an autopsy.
  • "I'm looking for help marketing my novel". No you're not. You're looking for an agent.
  • "Querry letter" is an auto-reject. spelling. Punctuation.
  • "My historical novel is set along in West Cork" -then proceeds to describe North Leitrim. Get your facts right. It's stupid and sloppy and insulting to the reader. I know better. You should too. It's not that hard to google things.
  • "My books were published to regional acclaim" but you list no publisher and I can't find you on Amazon. Maybe the region was Imaginationovia or Inyourdreamseny. Make sure everything you write in your query letter will survive a google search.
  • 8pt Times Roman; marbelized puce-colored stationery; right justified margins. Agents and editors get tired and long-sighted and when your query letter is physically hard to read, they'd rather reject it than make the effort.
  • Including the table of contents, the dedication page, a title page or anything else between the cover letter and the first page.

Apparently it is also a no-no to include bribes such as chocolates, feather boas, cash, small children or whatever! Also avoid green ink and coloured paper.

Tuesday 1 January 2008

Thought for the Day

A survey commissioned for World Book Day had revealed that accountants spend more time reading for pleasure than any other profession.
Think about that the next time you diss one in a story.
Perhaps your next protagonist should be an accountant? Market share anyone?

Famous Books about Accountants?
Did John Grisham have one?

Not quite so famous books about accountants.

  • The Honest Accountant by Peter Milwain
  • True Lies by Margaret Johnson-Hodge
  • The Black Brook by Tom Drury
  • The Passionate Accountant by Sally Goldenbaum
  • The Art of Drowning by Frances Fyfield

Raymond Chandler started as an accountant. I love his witty way with words.
The Irish writer Tommy Frank O'Connor is apparently an accountant.
Any poet-accountant?