Sunday, 30 November 2008

Official launch of Night & Day

Please come to official launch of NIGHT & DAY, the amazing anthology of writing from South Dublin, edited by the wonderfully generous, highly talented and somewhat hairy Dermot Bolger.

When: 7pm on THURSDAY 4th of December
Where: The new arts centre in Tallaght called RED right beside Tallaght library.

Wine reception. New Island will have the book on sale at a reduced price of €10 on the night and it will be hitting the bookshops very shortly.

The night will also see the launch of EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, Dermot's new collection.

Will I be reading? Yes, briefly from my series of Haiku.

Here's a taster for you:

Low maintenance shrubs,
groomed Tellytubby grass hills
feed hares and rabbits

Five Tuesday bunnies -
fur moons orbiting mother
Monday there were six

Today, four bunnies
nervous hops, white tails flagging -
something’s in the brush

Tabby cat’s tail whips,
baby rabbit in her jaws -
we pause, traumatised

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Poetry Ireland Introductions

The lovely Poetry Ireland are looking for inviting submissions for their Introductions 2009, a series of readings in the Spring which offer poets working towards a first collection, and with a track record of publication in journals and magazines, an opportunity to read their work in public. (they pay too, or they used to before the R-word hit us)

To apply for the series, send six poems and a short literary-biography to Introductions, Poetry Ireland, 2 Proud’s Lane, off St Stephen’s Green, D2 before
Friday, 9 January, 2009.

So if you've a decent, published back catalogue, what have you got to lose? Go for it.

And if you don't think you have a published history, why not start sending out to magazines now? Search my blog for suggested magazines. And maybe you can apply next year.
Click here to find out more

Friday, 28 November 2008

New Media. New Audience?

Anti-Piracy Ad from The IT Crowd (says it's no longer available but you can still google it on youtube)

This is what happens to people who break copyright!

I saw this at the Arts Council conference on New Media and how to use it to promote and develop the Arts from Ireland. It was a day long thing and full of interesting ideas and conversations. I've been dwelling on some of the themes since. Some questions raised include:

- Why are so few artists and arts organisations on the web in more than a shallow profile?
- What's in it for us? Should artists be using the internet purely as a fantastically powerful method for collaboration and sharing or should we remember that artists have to live and shouldn't do everything for free?
- What about copyright protection?
- Who blogs and why? Is it pure self-promotion or narcicism?
- some huge percentage of the internet is powered/paid for by porn.
- a lot of the rest is rubbish/full of flaming and teenage angst.
- How do you select what you need?
- Does it actually do anything for the arts audience or do you only reach a subset of your existing audience?
- Remember each generation uses technology in a different way. Yes, there are grey/silver bloggers but they are the exception.
- children still need protection.
- How can we use it to earn money?
- What exactly is twitter anyway?
- I know how to podcast now so watch out! (or should I say listen out)
- and I met some lovely people too. Hello world

Thanks for a terrifically well organised conference including chocolate biscuits with the gallons of tea. I do wonder what the arts council wanted to get out of it. Perhaps it should have been arranged as a more collaborative event with less time from the panels and more time for discussion from the floor. What do you think?

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Poetry Landscape

Looks like I didn't win the Patrick Kavanagh. Again. Anyone know who did?

Meanwhile, the Geological Survey of Ireland, as part of 2008 International Year of Planet Earth, presents an evening of spoken word highlighting the links between rock, landscape, nature and people.

The line-up is rather good, including poets Moyra Donaldson, David Smylie, Janet Shepperson, Stephen Gharbaoui and Mark Cooper, and will conclude current Ireland Chair of Poetry Michael Longley.

Where: Geological Survey of Ireland, Beggars Bush, Haddington Road, D4
When: Friday 28 November @ 5.30pm

T: 048 90388462

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Stop sniggering at the back

The annual bad sex award is up for grabs. That's bad sex in fiction actually started originally by Auberon Waugh to discourage "unconvincing, perfunctory, embarrassing or redundant passages of a sexual nature in otherwise sound literary novels".

The Gate of Air by James Buchan
Sashenka by Simon Montefiore
To Love, Honour and Betray by Kathy Lette
Triptych of a Young Wolf by Ann Allestree
and the winner Shire Hell by Rachel Johnson

Sex is really hard to write. But if the story really warrants following the protagonists through the bedroom door (or wherever your action takes place) you owe it to the reader not to shy from the task.

The only tip I can think of is to use a touch of humour and not too many gynecological details.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Writing Prompts

Here are some ideas to prompt some creative writing. Sometimes I do such an exercise as a way of warming up. Sometimes we start our creative writers' group meetings with a 5 minute session.

- You have a scar on your face or body. Write an alternative version of how you got it.
- Describe a river from the point of view of someone who is bereaved or nervous about getting married or pregnant.
- Open a book at random and use the first full sentence on the page as your starting line.
- Start with "it was a dark and stormy night" and have the words bamboozle, niche and guard somewhere in the story.
- spend 5 mins writing a story that last 5 mins, then spend 5 mins writing a story that last 5 seconds.

First Lines

- Her favorite word was "ghastly."
- She appeared to be ...
- By the time the lie had spread so far and wide that everyone believed it to be the truth, it was too late.
- I don't know what possessed me to visit the palm reader.
- Nothing ever happened on my street.
- Anita was often wrong.
- Russell had no tact.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Davy Byrne's Irish Writing Award

This prestigious, big money competition is running again. Last won by Ann Enright, somewhat better known now as last year's Booker winner. 1,110 entries that year. Shortlist included the fabulous Kevin Barry and Philip O'Ceallaigh.

Deadline: postmarked 2nd February 2009
Judge: Richard Ford. (Presumably the entries are filtered by the Stingy Fly) Judged anonymously.
Entry Fee: €10 (You can pay online but still have to post your entry)
Prize:€25,000 1st prize for a short story from an Irish writer. 5 runners up at €1000 each
Rules: Must be citizen of or normally resident in Ireland. Other ones here.

There's no word limit but the competition will be frenetic. It organised by the Stinging Fly in association with the Irish Times so high profile.
Shortlist to be announced late May/early June.

Richard Ford said
What any good judge wishes I suppose I wish for me—to have a brain that’s inquisitive and energetic enough to relish ‘the new;’ to not just prefer stories that are like my own stories, and yet to not shy away from those, either—in other words to recognise excellence in whatever form, style, length, etc. it comes in. I’d like to be won over, for the choice to be easy, for the chosen short story to dictate all the terms of its own brilliance and for me to be just a helpless celebrant. And… I’m not interested in the patented Irishness of any story. If an Irish writer writes it, it’s Irish enough for me—and even that feels a bit confining. In any case, the reader—the story’s charmed intended—can tweeze out what the winning story’s ‘cultural significance’ is, what it’s ‘saying’ about Ireland and history and the future, if indeed it’s saying anything at all.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

More Literary Magazines

Many more magazines reviewed and linked to at Laura Hird's wonderful LitMag Central.

and here on New hope international review are reviews of some magazines you may or may not have heard of or seen.

Chimera magazine publishes some wonderful names in poetry and prose. Submit by post to France or email.

Erbacce magazine isn't accepting submissions until January 2009. They have a competition

iota publish poems. Send 6 by email or snailmail. Expect an answer within 3 months.

New Leaf is from the English department of Bremen University. Email.

Australian Mascara Poetry accepts submissions by email.

Purple Patch publishes poetry and short prose but the website is 2 years out of date. In 2006 it won awards. Snailmail.

Reach Magazine publishes a monthly poetry magazine featuring new and established small press poets.

The Reader is based in Liverpool and publishes poetry, prose and other articles.

Read This is the official Creative Writing magazine of the English Literature Department of the University of Edinburgh and is aimed at young, new and emerging writers.

The Seventh Quarry is a literary magazine in Swansea.

Sirena is a dual-language magazine that publishes in Spanish and English.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Words of wisdom

From Debut Dagger Competition - for crime but pretty much applicable to all genres.

Practical Matters – Despite our entreaties, there were quite a few entries with un-numbered pages. Please do remember to number them, and also to use double or one-and-half line spacing, as this makes the ms much easier to read. Also, type should be 12 pts or more in size.

Spelling – Obviously, there are some differences between British and American usage. It doesn't matter which you are using, just so long as it's correct! If in doubt, use a dictionary (in preference to Spell Check, which can lead to unintentionally hilarious mistakes).

Grammar – Again, it's important to get it right. Something we particularly noticed was the misuse, or absence, of commas, and quite a lot of confusion over pronouns. It's a good idea to check your work by reading it through. Reading aloud is best, because that way your eyes don't skip over things, and it's especially good for checking dialogue.

The Meanings of Words – Again, if in doubt, consult the dictionary. This will help to avoid mistakes such as the confusion of 'compliment' with 'complement' and so forth.

Location – There were many entries which gave no clue as to where the story was set. There's no need to write screeds of description about the back streets of Croydon or the snow-capped mountains of the Pyrenees, or whatever it is, but it is important that the reader knows where he or she is supposed to be!

Characters – It's not a good idea to introduce too many in the first few pages, as this can be extremely confusing for the reader. If, for some reason, you feel you do need to introduce a lot of people, then make sure that the main characters are brought to the fore, and well delineated – otherwise the effect is of a picture with no perspective..

Subject matter – Don't try and write about something which you think is modish or will appeal to the administrator and judges. Yes, crime fiction goes in fashions, like everything else, but you should write about a subject because it interests YOU, not because you think it will interest someone else (after all, if it doesn't interest you, and you don't write about it with passion, it's not very likely to interest anyone else, is it?)

Note from Laura: for what it's worth, I read a great deal in my capacity as reviewer for the Guardian newspaper, and I personally would like to call time on the following: trafficked women, religious conspiracies, and historical fiction protagonists with anachronistically liberal attitudes... but that's just me.

Note from David: Try not to be too influenced by television crime dramas (eg, Spooks). TV is a different medium, and you don't want your novel to end up reading like a barely-disguised film script.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Costas shortlist

Another competition for books, none of which I have read (yet) I do like that the Costas pitch different types of writing against each other.

The winners of the five categories will compete for the overall prize. Since the introduction of the Book of the Year award in 1985, it has been won eight times by a novel, four times by a first novel, five times by a biography, five times by a collection of poetry and once by a children's book. Is it time for another children's book?

Biography Award
Somewhere Towards The End, Diana Athill
Bloomsbury Ballerina, Judith Mackrell
If You Don't Know Me By Now, Sathnam Sanghera
Chagall, Jackie Wullschlager

Novel Award
The Secret Scripture, Sebastian Barry
The Other Hand, Chris Cleave
A Partisan's Daughter, Louis de Bernières
Trauma, Patrick McGrath

First Novel Award
The Behaviour Of Moths, Poppy Adams
The Outcast, Sadie Jones
Inside The Whale, Jennie Rooney
Child 44, Tom Rob Smith

Poetry Award
For All We Know, Ciaran Carson
The Broken Word, Adam Foulds
Sunday At The Skin Launderette, Kathryn Simmonds
Salvation Jane, Greta Stoddart

Children's Book Award
Ostrich Boys, Keith Gray
The Carbon Diaries 2015, Saci Lloyd
Just Henry, Michelle Magorian
Broken Soup, Jenny Valentine

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Personal Statement

I am helping my first born write a personal statement for his UCAS form at the moment. These didn't exist when I was that young so it's a new experience for me. However, the rules you gradually gather from surfing are strikingly applicable to a lot of writing, fiction and non-fiction.

- start with a snappy hook
- Don't start every sentence with I
- Keep to the subject most (about 75%) of the time
- Don't repeat yourself
- Watch your grammar and spelling like a hawk
- Be memorable and original, why you should be chosen over all the others
- let your passion about your subject show
- write up to 4,000 characters and no more. Make best use of the space
- Don't plaguarise
- Don't write in text language or jargon - write full and complete sentences
- The final section should round off your piece by tying things together.
- don't try to be a smart-arse and start it: "As Descartes says." There's nothing worse than being pretentious.
- Don't waffle

A study by the British university admissions clearing house Ucas has found that 5% of student applications had borrowed material to write their personal statements which accompany their applications, according to the BBC. And we're not just talking lifting a few choice phrases here and there: whole histories are being created. The study found that in these statements, which are supposed to reflect the character and motivations of the applicant:

a.. 370 sentences contained a statement beginning: "a fascination for how the human body works..."
b.. 234 contained a statement relating a dramatic incident involving "burning a hole in pyjamas at age eight"
c.. 175 contained a statement which involved "an elderly or infirm grandfather".

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Annoying, overused phrases

This blog post shows the TOp 10 most annoying phrases:

1 - At the end of the day
2 - Fairly unique
3 - I personally
4 - At this moment in time
5 - With all due respect
6 - Absolutely
7 - It's a nightmare
8 - Shouldn't of
9 - 24/7
10 - It's not rocket science

( I like 'with all due respect.' You can get away with almost anything after that.)

I would like to add:
- to be honest
- we're giving 110 percent
- at this time
- not right for our list

My son would like to add:
- you people
- but seriously
- just want to be friends

You could have some fun putting these phrases in the mouth of an obnoxious character in your writing.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Fish Competitions

I have my doubts about the Fish competition and the news that some of them were cancelled does not assuage them.

Unfortunately we have had to close the Fish-Knife, Short Histories, and Criminally-Short Short Histories competitions. We have emailed all of the writers who entered, offering their entry fee back or entry into the Fish Short Story Prize, or the Fish One Page Prize. If for any reason you have entered any of the now closed competitions and have not received an email from Fish, please email us to let us know what course of action you would like to take.

I think they should tell us why it was cancelled? Not enough entries? Could it be that it's too expensive for the prizes? 20 Euro to enter.

The longer running competition is ongoing:

The closing date for the 2008 Fish Short Story has been extended to 14 December. This year’s judge is Colum McCann, New York based Irish writer and author of four acclaimed novels and two collections of short stories. The best ten stories will be published in the 2009 Fish Anthology. First Prize is €3,000 and the total prize fund is €5,000. A week’s residence at Anam Cara Writers Retreat plus €300 is the second prize. All Entry on-line remains at €20 per story, and a critique is €45. The results will be announced on 17 March 2009. On-line entry and all details at Postal entries cost €25 and must be typed, double spaced, and the name of the author must not appear on the story, but on a separate sheet.
Post to - Fish Short Story Prize, Durrus, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland. Scripts will not be returned, and receipt will be by email. Cost of postal critique is €50.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Words and what they really mean

An excerpt from The Offutt Guide to Literary Terms, author Chris Offutt explains what a number of literary words really mean.

Creative nonfiction: prose that is true, except in the case of memoir.

Memoir: from the Latin memoria, meaning "memory," a popular form in which the writer remembers entire passages of dialogue from the past, with the ultimate goal of blaming the writer's parents for his current psychological challenges.

Novel: a quaint, longer form that fell out of fashion with the advent of the memoir.

Short story: an essay written to conceal the truth and protect the writer's family.

Plot: a device, the lack of which denotes seriousness on the part of writers.

Chick lit: a patriarchal term of oppression for heterosexual female writing; also, a marketing means to phenomenal readership and prominent bookstore space.

Personal essay:characterized by 51 percent or more of its sentences beginning with the personal pronoun "I"; traditional narrative strategy entails doing one thing while thinking about another.

Literary essay:akin to the personal essay, only with bigger words and more profound content intended to demonstrate that the essayist is smarter than all readers, writers and teachers.

Experimental writing: the result of supreme artistic courage when a writer is willing to sacrifice structure, character, plot, insight, wisdom, social commentary, context, precedent, and punctuation.

Poem: prose scraps.

Prose poem: either a poem with no line breaks or a lyric essay with no indentation. No one knows.

Deconstructionism: A moderately successful attempt by the French to avenge the loss of Paris as the global center of literature.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Creating a Sense of Place

I read in one of those "How to Write" books that to create a full picture in a reader's head of a room, you only need to mention 5 things, not everything in there. For example, I am sitting in a room, not my room, with a huge wood fire in a red brick inglenook, there are 7 candles burning on the hearth and a large, black cat slumped on one of the comfy, sagging sofas. An empty mug of tea is on a travelling chest beside a jar of wild flowers.

This below shamelessly borrowed from Debut Dagger.

Ways to let your reader know where you’ve set your story.
The simplest way is to put it at the beginning of the chapter. Arizona 1870 or Rome 44 B.C. does the job. But it’s a method that is generally only used when you’re moving between several time periods and need to let the reader know which one we’re in at present. Besides it’s a bit lazy. So let’s look at other means to get the message over.

Remember most people these days have access to the television and films. They already have preconceived ideas about many places; you just need to tap into them. Suppose you write “She shivered as she passed through the shadow of the Empire State Building.” Your reader’s imagination will instantly supply skyscrapers, yellow cabs, and Central Park, so you don’t need to add much more in the way of description in that chapter. Same for ancient Rome, a pacific island, the world war one trenches.

If, on the other hand, you write “He noted the sweat stains on his new silk shirt with annoyance. The stage was four and half hours late. A record even for this village in the backside of Schleswig-Holstein.” Well you’ve established this is historical and the weather is warm, but since most people (including me) have no idea what the backside of Schleswig-Holstein looks like, you’ll have to work in a few more details; is it a dusty plain, a wooded area, mountain foothills? Don’t go mad though, you’re not writing a travel brochure.
If you’ve set your first chapter indoors, what can they see through the window? Or use something in the room: “a particularly ugly cabinet carved from the trees that used to cover this side of Barbados”. And don’t forget to use their other senses. A foghorn suggests you’re close to the ocean, whilst the chatter of parrots could indicate somewhere tropical. The smell of orange blossom drifting through an open door should alert your readers to the fact this is unlikely to be set anywhere in a northern climate.

Here’s how three professional writers tackle this aspect of writing:
First, Alex Gray. Alex’s novels are largely set in Scotland.
In my novels there is always a very strong sense of place particularly of Glasgow. I often go to locations with a notebook and a camera to make sure I have the details correct and this pays huge dividends as my readers tell me how much they enjoy reading about real places that they know.

How do I achieve this sense of place in my writing? Well, there are several ways of doing this creatively. One is to combine atmosphere with location. At the very beginning of “A Small Weeping” I write ~

“There was something appropriate about the fog blotting out everything beyond the station, thought Lorimer as he made his way through George Square. It was as if the natural world was trying to obliterate whatever waited for him behind the swirling curtain of mist.” The centre of Glasgow (George Square) has a mention as does the scene of crime, (Queen Street) station.

In the third chapter of “Shadows of Sounds” I establish location in a similar manner ~
“The blue lights of Buchanan Street lent an eerie glow to the hill that sloped down from the steps of the Concert Hall all the way down to Saint Enoch’s Square.” This is especially important given that the action centres around Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

But there are other ways of establishing place. One is to use a character within a setting, a local person with local knowledge. “The Riverman” begins like this ~

“The riverman knew all about the Clyde. Its tides and currents were part of his heritage. His father and others before him had launched countless small craft from the banks of the river in response to a cry for help.”

Yet another way (and this is not confined to Glasgow by any means) is to use dialect within the dialogue. This immediately pinpoints location for if a story begins with dialogue, the reader can “hear” the local accent. I do use dialect both to establish place and also to show the sort of character I am trying to describe.

You can find out more about Alex and her novels at here.

Now Louise Penny.
Louise was short-listed for the Debut Dagger and subsequently went on to win the CWA New Blood Dagger, the Arthur Ellis Award, and the Dilys Award for her first novel Still Life. Her books are set in rural Canada.

I know with certainty if my first book didn't have a strong sense of place it wouldn't have been published. My books are set in Quebec, and I decided to also make the environment a character. That helped establish location. I wanted people to use all their senses as they read, to slip further and further into this world. But it was necessary to do this so that people barely noticed - so I sprinkled descriptions of Quebecois food, the scents of autumn, the startling colours of the leaves here and there.

I wanted there to be no doubt where the book was set. The first line reads, 'Miss Jane Neal met her maker in the early morning mist of Thanksgiving Sunday.'. Within two pages you know it's hunting season, you know the setting is a quaint and quiet Quebec village, you know there's a strong sense of community and belonging. It's a lovely, gentle place.

I deliberately created a place of light, and into that light I poured dark. So that the contrast would be stunning.

The second scene of the book is set in the bistro of the village. This allowed me to talk about croissants and cafe au lait, to have the main character notice the headlines on an abandoned newspaper at the next table. It allowed her to look out the window and briefly reflect on the enchanting world she saw, telling the readers not only about the village but that Clara is a content, happy woman. And it allowed me to sprinkle in a few French words for atmosphere.

You can find out more about Louise and her books at here.

Finally Meg Gardiner.
Meg sets her stories in California.

Novels can’t exist in a vacuum any more than people can. Stories need a sense of place. Without it, they seem to occur in a void, and readers feel unmoored. With it, readers feel that they’re on the streets of a living, breathing world, sharing the characters’ experiences.

How do you create a sense of place? You start by knowing the world of your story inside and out. It’s where your characters exist, and it shapes their lives. A novel set in New Orleans will differ from one set on the Arctic icepack. They may both deal with murder, love, and death, but will play out in different ways.

The most important thing in creating a sense of place is particularity: precisely observed details rather than generalities. Anchor your story in a specific place and time. Setting a novel in “a city” or “Asia” is as vague and useless as setting it “on earth” or “in the past.” Bring descriptions to life by being precise. Don’t mention “restaurant aromas.” Mention curry, BBQ, or the yeasty smell of beer.
Give readers a few vivid markers to spark their imaginations. And you don’t want description to be static. Weave information about the setting into the story. Put it to use. Make it affect what’s happening. Is the night so cold the hero’s tears freeze? So humid that sweat darkens the back of his shirt, making it impossible for him play it cool? Are the alleys in Marrakech wide enough for a fleeing motorcycle, but not a Mercedes?

Describe your setting via all the senses. Sounds: horns echoing between skyscrapers; steel drums; the murmur of waves on the beach. Tastes. Smells. Dialogue can also define a place. Do cabbies say, “Thanks, dude,” or “Cheers, mate”?
My novels are set in California. Crosscut opens in the Mojave Desert. Here’s how I introduce heroine Evan Delaney’s hometown:

The wind skipped over me. I stood in the parking lot, shielding my eyes from the setting sun. The heat was a wall against my face.
“This was a bad idea. Let’s get out of here,” I said.
Out on the highway an eighteen-wheeler rumbled past. Dust spun into the air behind it, blowing across the razor wire that marked the edge of the naval base.
Jesse looked at me as if I’d blown a cylinder. “Are you nuts? You can’t back out now.”
I peered over the roof of the Mustang at the strip mall. “Nuts isn’t backing out. Nuts is going in there.”
He pulled off his sunglasses. “Let me get this straight. Evan Delaney is chickening out of her high school reunion?”
The invitation read China Lake’s brightest nightspot hosts our festive gathering. The nightclub sat between the adult bookstore and the auto wrecking yard. Beyond that was a million acres of absence: the Naval Air Warfare Center, where mirages hovered over the desert floor and the horizon flung itself up into mountains at every turn, purple and red against a huge sky.

The scene creates the sense of a place that’s isolated and foreboding, where a killer can easily hide out. Your novel will be different. Distinctively so, if you create a vivid sense of place.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Writing for Children Competition

Munchbunch have a competition, free to enter.

Write an original children’s story of your own creation between 600 and 800 words, beginning with the following line:
"Once upon a Munchtime, there was a cow called Munch..."

I would suggest you use the product in the story in a minor, product placement way. They're drink yogurty things.

Deadline:30 November

Prize: An all expenses paid day-trip to Lapland for you and your family to visit Father Christmas and take a magical husky-led sleigh ride by a frozen lake.
An overnight stay in a central London hotel for two
The chance to meet celebrity mum Gail Porter
A day in a London recording studio seeing your story come to life as a podcast
Your winning story published online as a podcast on for other mums and their kids to download

Sounds really cool! (Cool geddit?)

Friday, 14 November 2008

Tales Of Mere Existence - How to write realistic dialogue

Everyone has been there. How to write an argument when no one says what they mean.

Stop reading my blog and get yourself ready!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Willesden Herald is doing it again

The Willesden Herald had some problems with their short story competition last year with judge Zadie Smith not overly impressed with the level of entries. This year they're using another judge Rana Dasgupta. They screen the stories to a short list and Rana choses the prizewinners from that.

Entry fee: Free
Word limit: 8,000.
Prizes: 1st place: £150 plus a one-off Willesden Herald mug inscribed "The Willesden Short Story Prize 2009"
2nd: 2 x £100 (two runners up)
The three winning stories will be published in a special edition of
Deadline: 19 December 2008

It's not much of a prize but it is free...

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Then there's this.

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

Enjoy. Remember to try seeing things slant today.

What if:
You change the sex of your main character?
You change it to 50 years ago, 500?
The house suddenly burns down?
How would the scene play out if one character was fighting a heavy cold?
How would owning a dog change the relationship dynamic?
What if it were a chicken?

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The winners of the 2008 Glen Dimplex New Writers Awards, in association with the Irish Writers’ Centre, have been announced. At a gala awards ceremony last night (10 November) in Dublin’s Hugh Lane Gallery, Mr Martin Naughton, Glen Dimplex Group Chairman, presented the awards to each of the five category winners.

Sally Nicholls has been named Glen Dimplex New Writer of the Year 2008 for her book Ways to Live Forever, published by Scholastic Children's Books.

Ways to Live Forever, first published in January 2008 to award-winning acclaim, is the stunning debut novel from Sally Nicholls, who wrote the story when she was twenty-three years old, an honest, moving tale of an eleven year-old boy dying of leukaemia.

My name is Sam.
I am eleven years old.
I collect stories and fantastic facts.
By the time you read this, I will probably be dead.

Sam loves facts. He wants to know about UFOs and horror movies and airships and ghosts and scientists, and how it feels to kiss a girl. And because he has leukaemia he wants to know the facts about dying. Sam needs answers to the questions nobody will answer.

The awards are made to the best first book published in the last year in Ireland and the UK by an author within each of the following five categories: Fiction, Biography/Non-fiction, Poetry, Children’s Book and for the best first book published in any genre in the Irish language.

The winner of the Fiction category was Allan Bush for his book Last Bird Singing (Seren);
the Biography/Non-fiction Book category was won by Nia Wyn for Blue Sky July (Seren) ; #
the Poetry prize went to Will Stone for Glaciation (Salt Publishing);
the prize for best Irish-language book went to Simon Ó Faoláin for Anam Mhadra (Coiscéim).

With a total prize fund of €45,000, the Glen Dimplex New Writers Awards offer unprecedented support and exposure for emerging writers in a range of genres.

Each category winner received a cheque for €5,000, with a further €20,000 going to Sally Nicholls for winning the overall prize.

Chairman of the Judging panel, Gerard Smyth, described the book by saying,
“I hope it’s a tribute to this book, and to Sally Nicholls, to say that for me it stopped being a work of fiction after only a few chapters –Sam, and Felix, and their parents took on flesh – you just know that in real life they are out there, close by. This is not a book solely about dying and death. In fact it’s more about life, and its one that stops you in your tracks to make you think, with gratitude, about life. It’s a book that reveals a new author of great promise. And I dare to predict that in time this will become a children’s classic.”

The Glen Dimplex New Writers Awards are presented in association with the Irish Writers’ Centre and have been judged this year by the following all-Irish panel of writers: Claire Kilroy and Mike McCormack (Fiction), Peter Cunningham and Thomas McCarthy (Biography/Non-fiction), Dermot Bolger and June Considine (Children’s), Gerard Smyth and Matthew Sweeney (Poetry) and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Éilís Ní Dhuibhne (Irish-language).

Speaking at the ceremony, the Chairman of Glen Dimplex Martin Naughton said: ‘We hope that these awards will continue to provide encouragement to, and a forum for, promising writers to further develop their skills at a critical time in their careers.’

The Chairman of the Irish Writers’ Centre Carlo Gébler said: ‘After the great success of our inaugural year (which included a Business2Arts Award), The Glen Dimplex New Writers Awards in association with the Irish writers’ Centre are already being seen as the pre-eminent awards for new writers in these islands.’

Monday, 10 November 2008

Jerwood Aldeburgh Seminar

This charitable institution is looking for nominations and applications for the Jerwood Aldeburgh Seminar. This is the third of three annual residential courses.

This will provide a unique opportunity for a select group of talented UK poets of any age to work towards a first collection in an intensive, five-day seminar, led by two excellent poet-tutors with strong editorial experience.

The third seminar will take place at Bruisyard Hall, near Saxmundham, Suffolk from Monday 16 through Friday 20 March 2009. The course will be tutored by Michael Laskey and Peter Sansom.

The Poetry Trust is looking for a maximum of eight poets with a good publishing track record (magazines, anthologies, possibly an individual pamphlet) and evidence of commitment.

Cost: £180
Tutors: Michael Laskey and Peter Sansom
• A selection of poems (no more than six, published or unpublished)
• Publication history
• A brief biography
• A short statement on suitability for the course and anticipated benefits (no more than 100 words)

Deadline: 31 January 2008

The winner of the £3,000 Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize in 2008 was announced on Saturday 8 November at the 20th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival as 37-year old Irish poet Ciaran Berry for The Sphere of Birds (The Gallery Press).

The 58 entries were judged by poets Helen Dunmore, Michael Laskey (Chair) and Jamie McKendrick.

The shortlist included:
Paul Batchelor The Sinking Road (Bloodaxe Books)
Adam Foulds The Broken Word (Cape Poetry)
Frances Leviston Public Dream (Picador Poetry)
Stephanie Norgate Hidden River (Bloodaxe Books)

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Bridport winners

Interestingly many winners have MAs or MFAs. Do these make them better writers? Do better writers study for MAs? Do they produce the type of work that wins competitions?
The judges reports are well worth reading. Here's Poetry and here's short story.

Short story - judge Helen Simpson

1st Prize £5000 Elaine Chiew, London. "Face"
2nd Prize £1000 Joanna Quinn, Weymouth, Dorset. "A Pocket Guide to Infidelity for Girls"
3rd Prize £500 Sara Levine, Evanston, USA. "Little Bad"

Supplementary Prizes (alphabetical order) - £50 Each :-
Sarah Evans, Welwyn Garden City, Herts. "On such a night"
Fran Landsman, Bath. "Curl Up and Dye"
Guy Mitchell, London. "Going for a Turkish"
Anna Rawlinson, London. "Portrait of a Lady"
Geraldine Ryan, Chester-le-Street, Durham. "The Greenhouse Effect"
Amy Shuckburgh, London. "Breathing"
Lorna Bruce, Larbert, Scotland. "One for you"
Eve Thomson, Edinburgh, Scotland. "Irrational Acts"
Hilary Wilce, Hawkhurst, Kent. "On the Edge"
Matthew Wright, Hamnavoe Burra, Shetland. "The Butcher and the Thief"

The longlist is massive - no Irish addresses.

Title Writer
1954 Anthony Butten, London
The Beach Hut Anna Reynolds, St Albans, Herts
Getting away Elizabeth Sarkany, London
A Walk in the Park James Cressey, Sicily
My Lord Above David Brown, Auckland, New Zealand
Frank and the Pariah Graham Minett, Pagham, W Sussex
The Day of the Bear Janey Huber, Cambridge
Jetsam Alison Moore, Loughborough, Leics
The Third Place Sarah Holman, Burscough, Lancs
Oi Yoi Yoi Sue Hubbard, London
The Speed of Dark Anne Aylor, London
The Last Grand Illusion Douglas Bruton, West Linton, Scotland
Hushed Nichola Bendall, Chichester, W Sussex
Pegasus Henry Layte, Norwich, Norfolk
The Edge Pippa Maynard, Horley, Surrey
Side-effects Alison Green, Poole, Dorset
The House Call Jacob Appel, New York, USA
A Small Rectangular Dredge Renee Bacher, Baton Rouge, USA
Swan Song Frank Dineen, Wayne, USA
Driving while blind Cheryl Alu, Los Angeles, USA
MooshMoosh Justine Mann, London
The Illusion of Life Nicholas Proctor, Porirua, New Zealand
Vanishing Acts Penny Feeny, Liverpool
No Peeking Michael Schiavone, Gloucester, USA
The Fat Boy Robert Dodds, Edinburgh
Resonance Carey Saleh, Redditch, Worcs
The Sinking Ship Joan Brennan, London
An anniversary, of sorts Gabriela Blandy, Oxford
Snails Rachel Crowther, Oxford
Dolly and the Lambs Annemarie Neary, London
Snow Men Naomi Williams, Davis, USA
Love-lies-bleeding Hilary Spiers, Stamford, Lincs
State of Affairs Drew Gummerson, Leicester
Dreams of Bantry Bay Heather Mulkey, Cobham, Surrey
The Big Road N Nye, Colorado Springs, USA
Boy running Jemma Kennedy, London
The Bird Child Andrea Blundell, Solihull, W Midlands

Poetry Prizewinners. Judge : - David Harsent
David was sent several hundred poems to consider out of thousands entered.

1st Prize £5000 Anne Stewart, Orpington, Kent "Still Water, Orange, Apple, Tea"
2nd Prize £1000 Elizabeth Speller, Cirencester, Glos "Finistère"
3rd Prize £500 Ama Bolton, Wells, Somerset "Time-Travel"

Supplementary Prizes (alphabetical order) - £50 Each :-
Sally Flint, Exeter, Devon "One of us had already tipped the waiters"
John Gerard, Cork, Ireland "In the garden" (Anyone know this poet?)
Christopher James, Haverhill, Suffolk "The Novices"
Chelsea Jennings, Seattle, USA "Travel"
Jenifer Kahawatte, Dover, Kent "View from Bulbarrow"
Hilary Menos, Totnes, Devon "The Joy of Fitze"
Conor O'Callaghan, Manchester "Three Six Five Zero" (An Irish one)
David Swann, Brighton, E Sussex "The path"
Rosamund Kleïs Taylor, Dublin, Ireland "Percival Lowell" Anyone know her? May be from Trinity.
Anne Pierson Wiese, New York, USA "Wild Turkey"

Poetry Long List: (enormous)

Title Writer
Luther Burbank Charles Mountford, Stratford, Canada
Bedsit Fiona Stevenson, Celbridge, Eire
Recollection Rona Laycock, Avening, Glos
growth Alan Stubbs, Carlisle, Cumbria
socks Alan Stubbs, Carlisle, Cumbria
At Inger's Flat Adam Hansen, Newcastle upon Tyne
The Weir of Lord Armstrong's Benefaction Adam Hansen, Newcastle upon Tyne
A Fantasy Parade Lucy van Baars, Bristol
Rays Abi Curtis, Farnham, Surrey
On being given my Grandfather's gloves Ian Salkey, Abbots Langley, Herts
It's a beautiful town Ian Salkey, Abbots Langley, Herts
The Radio Tells Us It's Snowing in Montauk Anne Pierson Wiese, New York, USA
climbing postcards Judy Kendall, Salford
Mr Mori's report Judy Kendall, Salford
…and morning comes Jack Stanley, London
Journey Elizabeth Rowe, Yelverton, Devon
R.S.V.P. Beverley Nadin, Sheffield
Low carbon Dad Keith Hilling, Swindon, Wilts
Desert Dance Margaret Eddershaw, Nafplion, Greece
Elizabeth's Diary: 1st September Carole Bromley, York
Job's Servant Carole Bromley, York
The Bridle Path Bill Greenwell, Morchard Bishop, Devon
What Will Happen To The Neighbours… Kathryn Maris, London
Tiger Moth Tony Roberts, Manchester
Mrs Bunting Charles Evans, London
Stolen Paintings John Hubbard, Bournemouth, Dorset
The Cobblestone Layer Talks About His Work Mike Horwood, Tampere, Finland
Digging the Ore Isobel Thrilling, Romford, Essex
Goldfish Will Vaughan, Castle Cary, Somerset
Ending Christopher Horton, London
Girder-Bashers Philip Hancock, Stoke on Trent, Staffs
Sudoku Roddy Williams, London
Picnic Photograph Robert Hartford, Beaford, Devon
Galilee James Womack, Cambridge
Night Fishing - Kyushu Linda Lamus, Bristol
Reunion Julia Webb, Norwich, Norfolk
Linocut Weasel J Weir, Manchester
Porpoise Emily Hinshelwood, Ammanford, Wales
Señor Rodriguez Amy McCauley, Scarborough
Heatwave Sean Street, Christchurch, Dorset
Punched out Romance Eve Belsey, London
Where have you been? Geoff Slater, Luton, Beds
Departure from Arnisdale Paul G. Deaton, Bristol
The Field Richard Lambert, Bristol
Standing in front of Turner's 'Northam Castle' A Flitcroft, Lichfield, Staffs
Is that the most important thing…? Laila Farnes, Nittedal, Norway
The Wearing of Skin Judith Watts, Twickenham, Middlesex
The Door Joan Michelson, London
Losing the music Irene Rawnsley, Settle, N Yorks
Nine Month Dream Pippa Little, Cramlington, Northumbria
Baby's Homecoming Lisa Kelly, London
The Square Jane Draycott, Henley on Thames, Oxon
Antique Telephone Mick Wood, Strasbourg, France
Reciprocal Rose Flint, Corsley, Wilts
Saintes Maries de la Mer Stephanie Norgate, Midhurst, W Sussex
Land's End: not talking about…. Jane Evans, Ware, Herts
Cowslips Vona Groarke, Manchester
Eating green grapes on a yellow bus James Manlow, Bournemouth, Dorset
The Forest Seamstress Jenny Hope, Martley, Worcs
Self Portrait with Blue Guitar Michael McCarthy
The Appointment Michael McCarthy
Seen From My Bed Pat Borthwick, Kirby Underdale, Yorks
The room with faces in round frames Jane Boston, Brighton, Sussex
The Abstract Josie Turner, Hitchen, Herts
Relic Anna Woodford, Newcastle upon Tyne
From the stonemason to his wife Catherine M. Brennan, Mitcham, Surrey
Last One Out Robert Hamberger, Houghton on the Hill, Leics
The Taken Road Alan Franks, Richmond, Surrey
I would give you marshmallow bones… Kath McKay, Leeds
Clinker Built Alexander Hamilton, Argyll, Scotland
On the first night in the cottage… Judy Brown, London
The Wild Boar Edmund Matyjaszek, Ryde, IOW, Hants
The Hare's Tale Harriet Torr, Thurso, Scotland
Baths Shaun Levin, London
Something Olive Ritch, Aberdeen
Offence Richard Meier, London
Tables for two Richard Meier, London
Mah-Jong Ben Rogers, London
The Language of Lorries River Wolton, Hope Valley, Derbyshire
Driving to Aldeburgh River Wolton, Hope Valley, Derbyshire
Fossil of a human heart speaks… Lucy Ingrams, London
What's Below, in Singapore Alison Lester, Singapore
Lengths Wales
Bristol Sally Spedding, Ammanford, Wales
The Train Michael Parker, Basildon, Essex
Bathing Alesha Racine, Cambridge
Blood Love Devon McC Jackson, Santa Fe, USA
Note to Mum Paul Garcia, Melford, Suffolk
Dianthus Barry Dempster, Ontario, Canada
The Maples are Bleeding Barry Dempster, Ontario, Canada
Mother of Pearl Andrew Leggett, Seven Hills, Queensland, Australia
Help o'clock Kate Camp, Wellington, New Zealand
Memories and Cake Caitlin Holland, Plymouth
Lower Marsh Market Sara Knapp, Reading
You Will Know When You Leave Laura Solomon, Nelson, New Zealand
Old Man of the Sea Russell Jones, Much Wenlock, Shropshire
Hibakusha / Survivor S Chalmers, Hamilton, New Zealand
Untitled Love Poem III Andrew Proffitt, Glasgow
Spring Fever Helen Mort, Cambridge
Leather Seats and Other Stories Katie Beswick, London
Plea Bargain Joseph Grikis, MD, USA
Poole in November Martin Fraser, Poole, Dorset
Ladybird Deborah Nichols, Oxford
Stepdaughter Tor George, Brentford, Middlesex
Therapy Marlo Bester-Sproul, NC, USA
Spiral Chatting Pamela Odunaiya, Sunbury, Middlesex
Bombay Harbour 1944 Owen Lowery, Wigan, Lancs
Urisk Rachel Morgan, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire
Darkness Marisela Berenguel, Aylsbury
The Assignation Jane McKie, Linlithgow, West Lothian
Oval Sculpture (Delos) Hannah Edwards, Porthcawl, Mid Glamorgan
Stone Walling Vanessa Gebbie, Ringmer, East Sussex
Hobbies and Plans Marianne MacRae, Heckmondwike, W Yorks
It is the rain Julius Mendoza, Switzerland
Sleepy Dogs of Pompeii Kay Fletcher, Tipton, W Midlands
Loft Harry Bauld, New York, USA
Blooming in Barcelona Pamela Mordecai, Toronto, Canada
Two Kids Atar Hadari, London
There it is Hannah Price, London
Snow Cave M. Lee Alexander, Williamsburg, USA
The Singular Cloak Emer Fallon, Co Kerry, Ireland
Terracotta Mark Cooper, Halesowen, W Midlands
Vinyl Mark Cooper, Halesowen, W Midlands
Crocuses Mark Cooper, Halesowen, W Midlands
His Hands Noel Duffy, Dublin, Eire
Thin Red Line Lynn Roberts, Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Losing Hylas Lynn Roberts, Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Shopping Will Bartlett, Wem, Shropshire
A photograph of Ted Lydia Macpherson, Babraham, Cambs
An African Scarf Lydia Macpherson, Babraham, Cambs
Jungleland Lydia Macpherson, Babraham, Cambs
Pastoral Lydia Macpherson, Babraham, Cambs
The Shave Glynis Charlton, Hull E Yorks
Ourself Lydia Macpherson, Babraham, Cambs
Walking in the Woods Lydia Macpherson, Babraham, Cambs
Dusk to Dawn Yu Yan Chen, Bath
Kingdom Come Gill Saxon, Cambridge
Not a Political Poem Maria Dines, Hoddesdon, Herts
Post-Colloquium Blues Michael D Jackson, Lexington, USA
Man's Work Graham Clifford, London
Apricot Brandy James Sutherland-Smith, Belgrade, Serbia
After the Action Movie James Sutherland-Smith, Belgrade, Serbia
204 North Road Kim Patrick, Airdrie, Lanarkshire
The Language of Stairs Geraldine Mills, Galway, Eire
Doorstop Melanie Cross, Southampton
Alpine Choughs Petra Regent, Bristol
Father Butterfly Giles Ford, London
Imperial 58 Gemma Collins, Exeter
Small Town Christmas Lindy Barbour, Carnwath, S Lanarkshire
Strange Fruit Nandita Ghose, London
Bomb Crater, 1944 Sue Stern, Cheadle, Cheshire
Song for a Sichuan Child Ellen Cranitch, London
The Promise Charles Lauder, Lutterworth
Washing your hair Neville Beal, Oxford
1789 Neil Fleming, Badwell Ash, Suffolk
History Neil Fleming, Badwell Ash, Suffolk
Lil Sally Goldsmith, Sheffield
The Bird Sally Goldsmith, Sheffield
The Visit Cheryl Moskowitz, London
Anne Fiona Rintoul, Glasgow
The Old Crabapple Paul Clemente, New York, USA
Massage Therapy David Shook, Hollywood, USA
Mushroom Marianne Burton, London
The Phoenician Sailor's Wife Jane McKinley, New Jersey, USA
Little Cove Loveday Why, Malden, Essex
Below Stairs Isabella Mead, Cambridge
A Dark Drop Belgium
Paris Sam Riviere, Melton Constable, Norfolk
Cold Call Sam Riviere, Melton Constable, Norfolk
Slugs Matt Kirkham, Kircubbin, Co Down
San Luis, Co Shane Slattery-Quintanilla, Del Norte, USA
Evening time tea John O'Keeffe, Galway, Ireland
R. Duncan Alice Willington, Oxford
The road spit you out Infe Weldekidan, Milwaukie, USA
Photo of dead mountain climber Dore Kiesselbach, Minneapolis, USA
Camberwell Apples Pam Vincent, London
Towers of Babel Maddie Grigg, Beaminster, Dorset
Black Dog Michael Harris, London
Safari into the Rift Elaine Lambert, Stonehouse, Glos
Last Post J R Gillie, Eastbourne, Sussex
Rubble Adam Steventon, London
Sadie's Poem Lavinia Motoc, Heathfield, E Sussex
The Path David Swann, Brighton, E Sussex
Riot at Strangeways David Swann, Brighton, E Sussex
Recovered Elisa Pulido, San Juan Capistrano, USA

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Active v passive

Read this fascinating post from Anne's Mini Blog, a US agent, on using the president elect's victory speech as an example of how not to write (if you don't want to annoy/bore your agent)

Friday, 7 November 2008

More links of interest

Where you bin?
Originally uploaded by Island 2000 Arts

Archwords has a terrific post here about the interpretation of Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.”

Bluechrome blog about struggling as an independent press.

a salted blog is sara crowley on words and writing.

Lots of American Poetry on the Borders Open Door website. It sounds like a project we should take on here.

How to generate text from Duck Island in a variety of styles. See link to a salted blog above.

Everyday fiction has a daily short story up to 1,000 words. Varying qualities. If you want to submit, they pay a token 3 dollars.

Guess what Literary Rejection on Display blogs about

A great project Island Trust 2000 on the Isle of Wight has bronzed plaques of poetry at bus stops. What a terrific idea.

Poetry International is based around the South Bank in London. They have loads of literary events.

Postal Poetry teams up postcard art with poets (although the poetry is not exactly very long)

Obsessive Compulsive is AL Kennedy blogging about her peripatetic writing life in the New Statesman.

Slow Poetry show David Morley reading some poems in situ. This project presents Slow Art on an Arts Trail including poetry. Terrific idea. Here's his blog.

Via Negative is the blog of Dave Bonta, a poet, editor, and shutterbug from the eastern edge of western Pennsylvania with a separate category of photos.
The View from here by Susan Wiggs has a great summary of a workshop on novel plotting.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Some Results

TLS Poetry Competition 2008
The shortlisted poems, 12 out of 3,000, are available for your persual. Readers may vote for their favourite poem, identifying it by the letter affixed to its title; they may also offer a second choice, which will gain half marks in the adjudication. Votes must be in by December 5th.

The Arvon International Poetry Competition 2008
The results are out.

Classic FM First Prize - Peter Daniels with Shoreditch Orchid £5000
Second Price - Giles Goodland with Serpent £2500
Third Prize - Thomas Lynch with Mr President £1000

Commendation - Alan Stubbs with a philosophical provocation
Commendation - Frances Thompson with Letter
Commendation - Frances Leviston with Story

See a review of the night here.

Bill Naughton Short Story Competition
1st - ‘Cry of Koobaburra,’ by Mary D’Arcy;
2nd - ‘Soft on Crime,’ by Anne Gerardine Mould;
3rd - ‘Pension Plan’, by John McAllister

Attleborough poetry competition

Winner: “Rite of Passage”, by Jerrold Creger
- On Jackson’s Bridge Lock – Peter Goulding
- Parc Monceau – Jennifer Behan
- Writer’s Block – Seamus Harrington
- Balance – Sheila Roe
- Derrygimla – Brendan Carey Kinane
- Lightning Strikes Twice – Raymond Portley
- Descent Into Blue – Karyl Wagner
- Jefferson – Declan Keavney
- High Time – Eleanor Sheedy

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

More Faber Academy

The next really expensive weekend is in Paris,
When: Thursday 27 November to Sunday 30 November 2008
Where: Shakespeare and Company, 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris
How much: £500 / €630 (includes lunches)
Who: Novelist and memoirist Rachel Cusk and a guest lecture by Blake Morrison
What: Reality and Representation
How do writers transform personal experience into the artistic representation of life? How and why does the individual become the universal through the literary process?
You may get more out of an Arvon course, a week's residential course.

Then there's a six month writing course.
When:Beginning in February 2009. 22 two-hour evening sessions and 6 full-day sessions. All evening sessions will take place on Wednesdays from 7.00pm-9.00pm. Full-day sessions will take place on Saturdays from 10.00am-5.00pm
Where:Faber and Faber Offices, London WC1
How Much: £3,500. One place on the course will be allocated free of charge.
Who:Course directory: Louise Doherty plus other guest speakers.
What:Writing a Novel From Start to Finish.
A practical, workshop-based course which covers all aspects of novel writing from first ideas for a book through character development, plotting and structure, to re-writing.
How much would an MA cost?

And then they're in Dublin.
When:Thursday 16 to Sunday 19 April 2009
Where:Newman House, Stephen's Green, Dublin
How Much:£500 / €630
Who:Gerard Donovan and Claire Keegan
What:How to Create More Room Using Less Space - The Art of the Short Story

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Arts Council

Reminder - the arts council bursaries deadline is fast approaching: Thursday 27 November 2008 at 5.30pm.

It is planned that all applications received prior to the closing date will receive a decision in February 2009. The closing date for round 2 will be in April 2009.

The purpose of an Arts Council bursary is to support professional artists at all stages in their careers and in the development of their arts practice. The aim of the award is to allow artists, working in any context or in any artform, to buy space and freedom to concentrate on a body of work and provide the equipment, facilities and third party expertise to develop practice. Recipients can receive up to a maximum of €15,000 per year through the Bursary award. A number of multi-annual bursaries, which offer artists funding for up to a three-year period, are available each year.

Remember, the Arts Council grant is slashed by 10% in the budget and almost certainly more next year so get in early.

Remember also, the proportion of money that goes to the literary side seems unbalanced so let's correct that with a slew of applications.

Another thing the arts council are doing is running an interesting conference New Media, New Audience?
Tuesday 25 November in Dublin Castle.
(So any artist with a full time job will struggle to go)

"to explore the ways in which artists and the public are adapting and adopting new ways of producing, presenting and promoting the arts."

Monday, 3 November 2008


I haven't seen this mentioned in many places so perhaps the chances of winning will be greater.

Grist is a new annual anthology of the best new writing from around the world published by the University of Huddersfield. The judges for this year's competition are Joanne Harris (short fiction) and Simon Armitage (poetry). Focussing on poetry and short fiction, each issue will feature the winners of the Grist annual poetry and short fiction competitions, as well as specially commissioned work from some of the best established writers. Grist is interested in fresh new voices with something to say.

Deadline: 30 November 2008
Entry Fee: £3
Prize: 3 overall winners will receive a cash prize (how much?). The three winners and all runners up will be published in the next issue of Grist
What: Short story up to 3,500 words. See website for other conditions
Poem up to 40 lines. See website for other conditions

Don't you just love Simon Armitage? I'd invite him to my dinner party too.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

What to send with a submission

This from Eoin Purcell posted after a new title meeting.
Most of these are new to me and I hadn't considered them before.

1. Give your place of birth, current residence and profession in your covering letter. Place of birth to extend sales to local book stores.
2. Write a tag line, the one used to sell your book to all and sundry.
3. Include an image (of yourself) for marketing.
4. Know what genre you fit in to. Makes it easier to sell.
5. If your editor accepts digital submissions, send them digitally.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Are you writing a crime novel?

This one's for you

The CWA Debut Dagger 2009
Go on, take a stab at it, send the opening chapter(s) – up to 3000 words – and a short synopsis (500-1000 words) of your proposed crime novel.

Who: The Debut Dagger is open to anyone who has not yet had a novel published commercially.

Prize: First prize is £500 plus two free tickets to the prestigious CWA Dagger Awards and night’s stay for two in a top London hotel. The winner’s work will be seen by leading agents and editors, who have signed up more than a dozen winners in addition to shortlisted Debut Dagger competitors. All shortlisted entrants will receive a generous selection of crime novels and professional assessments of their entries, and will also be invited to the Dagger Awards.

Fee: £25 (quite steep)

Submit: Between 1st November 2008 and 7th February 2009

You can enter online or by post.

The website also has some useful pages on what to write (and what not - a burlesque policeman anyone?) and how. Most of the tips apply to any genre, not just crime so check it out.