Monday, 28 December 2009

Links worth Perusing

I like a bit of a peruse, me.

Review of Dreamcatcher magazine at Essential Writers.

What makes a good short story from The Elephant in the Writing Room. Wise words.

The Unbearable Linus of Being a writer from Noveldoctor on guest blogging on Hey look, a Chicken from the US of A.

Write about what you don't know from David Hewson.

Noughtisms from the Guardian

Inspiring Bicycles from Willesden Herald.

Fairytale publishing story of Miranda Dickinson from automony

Retell A Fairy Tale in no More Than Three Sentences from Blogger's Books

The Times on Poetry Slams

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Tango Treat

I'm taking a break. Maybe one post between now and New Year. Have a lovely Christmas and see you in January.

I'll leave you with this, so sensual. From the film Taking the Lead based on a real man.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Orbis Magazine

I have two poems in the well known poetry and proze mag, Orbis 149, Autumn/Winter 2009.

They are looking now for suggestions and submissions welcome for their next issue, the big 150.
Plus 40 years of Orbis.

Featured Poets
Winners of the Virginia Warbey Prize

1st Prize: Jamie Walsh (Preface)
2nd Prize: Shelley McAlister (Sacred Heart)
3rd Prize: Jane McKie (Vija Celmins’ Surfaces)

Poems from Carol Carpenter (The Man Who Loved Paper Wasps); Stuart Jay Silverman   (Ukiyo-é); Robert Stein (This is about the leaves); Louise Warren (Long Pause Time Clock)
Prose: Vanessa Gebbie (Horizons, Dragon’s Teeth) and John Lowry (After she has gone)
Translation Jonathan Greenhause: Prefiero by Marcos Barcellos
Obituaries: Mike Shields on James Kirkup and Pauline Rowe on Michael Murphy & Matt Simpson   
Reviews Editor: Nessa O’Mahony
Reviews by Arthur Arnold, Jessica Colley, Emile Fischer, Andrew Marstrand, Nessa O’Mahony, Peter Salisbury and Eoghan Walls

Whether On land with Linda Benninghoff or at sea (Oliver Rice’s Winona Incipient…) where Kathy Miles is Saying Farewell To An Ancient Mariner, there’s plenty to enjoy. Find out what’s in The Hidden Place, cunningly revealed by Jim C. Wilson - and what does William Petty mean, I want to be a simple reed? 
Mike Horwood
is After Ezra Pound while Louis Daniel Brodsky considers a World Without Words, and Daniel Sluman chats up The Barmaid.
Let’s join him to celebrate the season with (me?) and Ted Harriott  in Carols: Ancient and Modern, and Katherine Duffy’s tale about Cinders in Carrowniskey; as Kate Dempsey reminds us, It’s What You Put Into It. Besides, as Adrienne J. Odasso points out, Tomorrow Never Comes Until

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Short Story Reading in Dublin

Do you want some exposure reading your short stories? Never read before? I suggest you enter this competition from the lovely Women Rule Writer

The Lonely Voice: Short Story Introductions will take place on the last Wednesday of every month. Four short story writers will be selected and invited to read their work at the event. They are particularly interested in providing a platform for emerging writers who previously may not have had the opportunity to read their work in public.

The inaugural event will take place on Wednesday 27th January.

Deadline: 8th January.

Send the short story you would like to read and a short bio to:

I can't find any mention of it on the IWC website (which is difficult to navigate.)

Monday, 21 December 2009

Christmas Poem

Joining TFE's Santa Poetry Go-Kart. See his post for more festive offerings.

(Poem removed post festive season)

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Same Poem (Mash) but in a different shop

Guess the Shop

And here's another poem in a shop (Waterstones - classy) from Delusions of Adequacy.

Saturday, 19 December 2009


Have a look at this - Scottish innovation. For every syllable, a poem, text and sound.

And now they're looking for more. Write your own. Email for your own personal syllable and send your submission. Aiko Writes explains all here.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Leafbooks competition

Writing About Writing Competition

Leaf Books invites you to send us up to 750 words on the theme of writing. Creative writing (a story or poem) or an essay/academic/journalistic piece, or even a stream-of-consciousness writers-block-induced panic, provided it’s on the subject of writing.

Enter online or by post.

Fee: £3.50 per submission, 4 submissions for £10

Prize: One winner will receive £100 and publication in the pilot edition of the Leaf Books Magazine. Further selected entries may also be published in the magazine: successful entrants will receive a free copy.

Not much of a return on investment I feel.

Deadline: January 31 2010

More details and other themes on their website

International Poem in a Shop Month now Transatlantic

We're featured on Poetry Friday on Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer.

The lovely Debbie says it's
"so quirky and different."

Honorary Diva Debbie!

But we need more to join in now.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

International Put a Poem in a Shop Month

I'm joining Niamh's great International Put a Poem in a Shop Month at Various Cushions. See her diva-esque blog for more details.

I put in this poem about Mashed Potatoes in the Potatoes section. It's quite nerve-wrecking lurking in the vegetable aisle.

As yet unpublished so I've taken the text away now.

See also TFE
Diva-esque Domestic Oubliette
Rachel in More about the song. I took a leaf out of her book and printed on a postcard.
and Titus the dog

Please anyone else join in. The more the manier and much merrier. There should be plenty of shopping expeditions to sneak some poetry into the shops. And what's the worst that could happen? Someone reads it? Someone throws it away?

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Wigtown Poetry

The Wigtown Poetry Competition is the largest in Scotland.

Prizes:£2,500, runner up prize of £750, eight additional prizes of £50 each and a Gaelic prize of £500.
The winning poem and runner up will also be published in the Scotsman, or its sister paper Scotland on Sunday and will be invited to appear at the Stena Line Wigtown Book Festival 2010.

Deadline: 5pm Friday 5th February 2010

Winners will be notified by Monday 5th April. The prize-giving will take place on Saturday 1st May.

Judge: Liz Lochhead

Fees: The first poem submitted costs £6.50.
Multiple entries: the first three poems cost a total of £17.00.

See their website for more details, application form etc.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Versal Submissions

This Amsterdam based English magazine is looking for submissions. They only read between 15 September and 15 January so get your work in. They also take simultaneous submissions as long as you tell them straight away if it's accepted elsewhere.

Submit online here on wordsinhere. Poetry and Prose and artwork.

Deadline: 15 January

Monday, 14 December 2009

Varilux Stort Story Competition Results

From the organisers.

A father’s embarrassment in not being able to ride a bike; a child’s pleading to go for a cycle with his Dad; ‘proper’ bike lessons on Dublin’s Sandymount Strand on a cold windy day; the ‘unassailable, mammoth depth of love’ between father and child, all woven into a short story using gripping dialogue, have earned Dublin copywriter, Henrietta McKervey, the inaugural Essilor Short-Story Award.

Seventy writers from all corners of Ireland answered the call; fifteen equally-skilled compositions were shortlisted – three emerged as winners: Dublin-based McKervey, the overall winner; Dublin-born but Kildare-based Niamh Mac Sweeney runner-up; and Longford-based Eimear McGuinness, writing under the pen name of Gloria Hunter, in third place.

Kildare authors John Martin, Marie Gallagher and Clare Walsh were shortlisted and highly commended.

Making the announcement in Limerick, Essilor Ireland’s managing director Angela Keogh said:

“The brain gives the eye the signal to see. The varifocal lens gives a slightly impaired eye perfect vision, hence our decision to focus our Varilux celebrations on something which is stimulated by the brain and eye – writing. We have been amazed at the level of interest in this competition; it has awakened our interest in nurturing and celebrating new Irish writing talent. Varilux inventor Bernard Maitenaz, now in his seventies, will be delighted to read the winning entries.”

Competition judge David Rice, who directs the Killaloe Hedge-School of Writing, said the quality of the entries demonstrated a truly remarkable level of creativity.

"I have worked as writer and teacher in three continents," he said, "and I have never found anything quite like the astonishing gift in so many Irish people to produce brilliant creative fiction."

He said it shows in the number of new authors that appear on the lists every year, as writers of full-length fiction or of short stories.

"And it was evident once again in this competition, which made the judging extremely difficult."

The winning entries were finally selected for the eminent way in which they fulfilled the demands of the short story -- grabbing the reader's interest from the start; presenting of believable characters; effective dialogue; evocation of all the senses; satisfying ending.

"But of course there was one further requirement for these particular stories. They had to meet the particular theme of this competition -- Now I See. So they had to end with someone seeing something for the very first time. The three winners did this brilliantly, with a twist in the tale worthy of O. Henry."

Poetry Ireland Introductions

I've just seen this one.

Deadline: 18 December 2009

If you are an emerging Poet writing in Ireland with some magazine and/or anthology publications under your belt, I recommend you apply for this.

Devised in 1989 by former Director of Poetry Ireland Theo Dorgan as a means of show-casing emerging talent, the Poetry Ireland Introduction Series offers a public reading to poets working towards a first collection, and with a track record of publication in journals and 'little' magazines.

To apply for a reading and a poetry masterclass in Spring 2010, send a maximum of ten pages of poems and a short literary-biography to Introductions, Poetry Ireland, 2 Proud's Lane, off St Stephen's Green, D2.

Sunday, 13 December 2009


I think virtually every writer who's a parent or wants to be a parent has written or tried to write about it. Here's a San Diego anthology looking for submissions. I would suggest something at a slant. City works Press.

City Works Press seeks poetry, fiction, prose and art on motherhood and/or fatherhood for our upcoming anthology. Give us your moments of sublime joy as well your dark nights of the soul. Talk about birth, nursing, relationships, adoption, same-sex parenting, high tech conception loss, etc. Tell us what it means NOT to have children. Limit 2,500 words for fiction/prose or 4 poems. Please attach a short bio.

Deadline: January 4, 2010

See the City Works Press website.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Writing a Play?

The Arundel Festival Theatre Trail, created and presented by Drip Action Theatre Company, is calling for submissions of short plays to be performed in August 2010.

The eight-day festival takes place at the end of August, with eight short plays performed at eight vastly different venues throughout the town known for its wetlands centre and swans. In 2009 more than 1,800 people came to see performances hosted in impromptu theatres ranging from a living room to a kitchen, from a restaurant to a pub.

Plays can be on any subject or theme, and should be about 30 minutes long, suitable for daytime performance, with workable casting and prop options. You can only submit one play for consideration.

All entries should be submitted to by post to Drip Action Theatre Trail 2010, 1 Norfolk House, 28 High Street, Arundel, West Sussex, BN18 9AB.

Fee: There is no submission fee.

Deadline: December 31st 2009.

The reading committee will select the plays that will be performed, with each successful playwright receiving a £150 writer’s fee. The best submitted play will be awarded the Joy Goun award of £200 at the Theatre Trail launch in May 2009.

More on this website.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Short Circuit Blog Tour

I'd like you all to meet the lovely Vanessa Gebbie and her new book Short Circuit from Salt Publishing about writing Short Stories. Click here to buy.
You can find out all her on her blog.

Welcome to my blog, Vanessa.

Thanks! Charmed to be here, I’m sure!

Pull up a beanbag and do try one of my home made mince pies.

Mmm. Nice.

Would you have another glass of mulled wine to go with that?

It’s scrummy. Make mine a pint.

Congratulations on the publication Short Circuit, a veritable feast of thoughts and suggestions about short story writing.

Indeed, and thank you! A feast it certainly is, but cannot hold a candle to these mince pies.

Q1. I've been reading some of Alice Monroe's short stories recently and I was struck how she manages to squeeze a whole lifetime into a short story whereas some others, for example from Miranda July, are a fleeting moment. How to you think time span affects stories?

I think some stories that encompass a whole lifetime, are amazing. They make me wonder what is noteworthy, or what is ‘visible’ from our own lives, to others. Just a few spots on a page, which add up to a little blotch or two. Alice M is like that. Some people say she packs the content of a novel into the span of a short story. That’s daft. They are her version of the short story. Why does everyone keep referring to novels like they are the destination we are travelling to through the short story?

Stories that pick a closer time span, like July’s, tend to leave me with a deeper impression. I don’t know about you – it’s something to do with being hit by a flare as opposed to being exposed to bright light for longer. You remember the flare.

What do you say to people who assume (and there are many) that short stories is practice for writing a novel?

Well, I'd say sure, you can of course practice writing fiction by writing short stories, and getting your craft right and stong. So that when you are fired up enough to write that novel - when you find what it is that makes you really want to write one thing for a couple of years, you will be ready. But dont be fooled into thinking that the novel project is just a short story but longer. It isnt. The two are totally different beasts.

Its a bit like expecting a painter of miniatures done on ivory with a single-haired tiny brush to progress somehow to painting a vast mural. The skills are utterly different - allied, but different. The mural is not a 'grown up miniature' any more than a novel is a 'grown up short story'.

In a good short story, every word will earn its place. There are no loose ends, no baggy areas, It will be an intense experience to read it. You just cant approach a novel in the same way - I think you need to be far more relaxed in your writing for a start. If you weren't, you'd exhaust both you and your reader!

Nice metaphor.
Q2. I know that you have experience judging some large competitions. I am fascinated to hear about the kind of stories you receive. Once you've ploughed through the immediate no's, what is the most surprising, common problem you've identified with the ones that remain?

I’ve got a bit of experience judging comps. The largest is probably Fish One Pager. And I’ve read for larger ones – am reading for Asham next time round as a favour. I’m also final judge for The New Writer short story comp, and will get my box of stories (yum) in the New Year.

I am always always knocked sideways by the low standard of many, when I’m in at the early stages, as with Cadenza, for example. I’d think, ‘What on earth made this writer even suspect this was worth punting at a prize?’ It mad me very cross actually. Because behind it are writing groups where people are too namby pamby to be honest, and give straight feedback – just saying ‘OOO Ethel, this story is luverley!’ when it is about a dead cat, written with clichés in the ink and ends with an unflagged twist.

There are no real common threads. Apart from the usual hundreds of stories that will come in after a disaster, for example, all dealing with that disaster.

Its originality we want. Good writing plus originality.

Surprising common problems?

The lack of a good ending. Good stories that just finish, peter out.

Cliché. After cliché.

Thin characters. Writers who think a physical description is all that’s necessary when sometimes it is too much.

Writers who don’t leave room for the reader, but fill every gap.

Thanks Q3. You've a great selection of writers in your book. Were there others (dead or alive) who you would have jumped at to get them to contribute a piece and why?

Raymond Carver. I want him to talk about editing.

Calvino. I want him to talk about fighting against the publishing trend of the time.

Aesop. I want him to tell us why we think flash fiction is new.

Raymond Carver - particularly would you ask him about his relationship with his first editor/pruner Gordon Lish?

I would. Spot on. We now know that Carver kept work away from List towards the latter end of his career. And published original versions of some of the pieces Lish had cut drastically. One example is The Bath, published after Lish got his mits on a story which was far far better than this thin little piece turned out under his control. Carver republished that story later. It's called 'A Small Good Thing'. Lish had completely cut out what makes that story one of Carver's greatest. The ending, particularly. That magic ending. How COULD he!?

Calvino - I only have a vague grasp on who he is. Can you elucidate?

Of course, sorry! Italo Calvino. Stunning writer. I was introduced to his work by novelist Andrew Miller. If you only get one of his, try this: Invisible Cities. Calvino, writing in Italy after the war, was not writing what the establishment wanted. They tried to get him to change what he did, apparently. He wouldnt. Just carried on writing what he wrote best. THAT''s the message, really. To do what you know you do best, and not to listen to the rest - even if they promise squillions. . Er, well maybe have a think or two if they promise squillions... and write what you want to anyway!

Aesop - I know who he was but flash fiction? Was he that concise?

Probably not. But Aesop's Fables are told very quickly... and we now wax all wondrous and call it new, invented for the world of the screen and the snall attention span. Cobblers!!

Thanks again

Lovely. can I have another mince pie afore I go??

Thanks. Brill questions, happy writing!!!

Click here to buy.

One night only

I haven't done a blog interview before but I couldn't say No to Vanessa Gebbie so I'll be hosting her blog tour later, 10th December for her new book Short Circuit, available from the lovely people at Salt publishing.

Have to run now and put on the mince pies. Meanwhile see her blog for other tour dates and venues. See you later.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Google Alerts

Who hasn't been ego-surfing? Surfing the web for your own name...or your blog name...or your book name...or some combination. I've come across many fascinating sounding namesakes, many of them dead, I'm afraid.

Tips: I recommend using extra words as a filter like "writer" or "poet." If one particular person keeps coming up who lives in Ohio, for example,ignore any entry with "Ohio" in it by type "-Ohio"

My biggest tip though is to use Google Alerts to get regular updates. It's like having a spy always listening on the web. While you sit back and drink your capuccino or even write. Powerful...and fun.

See this post at Daily Writing Tips for more.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Residency in Paris?

Pourquois pas?

The Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, France is currently inviting applications from Irish artists for a number of artistic residencies at the Irish College in Paris from September 2010 to July 2011. Through the residencies and its own cultural programme, the Centre Culturel Irlandais showcases contemporary Irish culture on an international stage.

The Centre Culturel Irlandais' Residency Programme gives participants the opportunity to spend time living and working in Paris. The residency is open to practitioners in all art forms, within the limits of the facilities available in the Centre. The residency bursary covers travel and accommodation in the Centre Culturel Irlandais and each resident artist will receive a stipend of E700 per month. AIRs will participate in one public event within the cultural programme of the Centre Culturel Irlandais.

To apply, send a short biography or CV with a clear indication of the focus of the residency and details of publications, exhibitions, performances, compositions and related aspects of practice, as well as experience of other residencies and any familiarity with French culture and language.

Applications should be sent by post or email to Sheila Pratschke, Director, at:
Centre Culturel Irlandais, 5, rue des Irlandais, 75005 Paris
Website here

Deadline: 29 January 2010

Notice that it doesn't say how long each residency is. I could do a week.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Mslexia Short Story Competition

Another Mslexia Short Story Competition.

Judge: Tracy Chevalier

1st Prize £2,000
plus a one-week writing retreat at Chawton House Library and a day with a Virago editor
2nd prize £500
3rd prize £250
3 other finalists will win £100 each

All winning stories will be published in Mslexia magazine.

Deadline: : 25 January 2010

Maximum 2,200 words.

You have to be a woman.
Rules here:

Sunday, 6 December 2009


Call for submissions:

ROPES is the annual literary journal produced by the MA in Literature and Publishing at N.U.I. Galway. It features all forms of modern fiction, poetry, drama, screenplays, photography, and illustrations.

While all themes and subjects are welcome, we are particularly interested in any ideas and responses relating to the first decade of the 21st century.

Submissions should not exceed 2,500 words, with a maximum of three works per author.

Deadline: 4 January 2010.

Email to ropesgalway at gmail dot com

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Today's surfing suggestions

5 Rules for Better Blogging (or whatever) from mashable, like don't write really, really long, rambling paragraphs. You know who you are...

Getting Unpublished by Matthew Hill - a salutary tale.

Related - publisher reneging on paying a charity, Caroline Smailes.

Neil Gaiman's crusade to make writers make a will. Have you?

Mashable 100+ best literary twitters to follow.

You have see this Awkward Family Photos and take inspiration for creating the stories behind them.

Imagine writing a book which people love so much, they tattoo quotes or images from it. Twilight Tattoos.

Uproar about US publisher Harlequin starting up a self-publishing arm, morally questionable? From Janet Reid.

Gotta Shock the Broca marketing skills from Jimmy Roubart via Rachelle Gardner.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Writing Spirit short story competition

Here's a short story competition that's free to enter. They recently moved the deadline date.

Deadline: 31 December 2009

But will still have the shortlist of 10 by 10th January 2010 (quite short to go through what will probably be a tall pile)

You can see current entries here to judge the standard. This means your story will be shown to all online, if you have a problem with that.

You also have to join the writing4all online group. Make sure 'Writing Spirit Competition' is selected as the category for your work. Then remember to mail a hardcopy to Writing4all, c/o Spade Enterprise Centre, North King Street, Smithfield, Dublin 7, Ireland.

Prizes: First: €1000, Second: €300, Third: €150.

Maximum 4000 words and minimum 750 words,

# Short list of 10 pieces (chosen by the Editing Team) will be announced on 10th January and featured on the site. This short list will be adjudicated by Nadine O' Regan and winner and runners-up will be announced on February 15th.

Results here:

Perpetuity by Brian Kirk - winner of €1,000

Second place:
The Fox by Gerry Boland - winner of €300

Third place:
The Weight of Words by Máire T. Robinson - winner of €150

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Bridport Results

The Bridport short story and poetry results are out. There are a few Irish addresses for those who are interested. I didn't recognise any names except Carolyn Jess-Cooke shortlisted for short story and Michael Farry for poetry - congrats! The first prize in the short story section was the first Jenny Clarkson had submitted.

I recommend reading the judges reports. They can be very insightful and you may take notes on how to stand out in a pile of entries.

Ali Smith on Short stories

Not many asked much of the form when it came to structure; ... A fair few were about marital break-up and gender anger. An awful lot were about death, or dying, or hospitals. This isn't surprising: it's a matter of life and death, after all, the short story. Its nature concerns itself with the shortness of things; by its very brevity it challenges aliveness with the certainty of mortality, and vice versa too, which is why I got very excited when I read anything which leaned towards the story form as a force and source of life. I wish there had been more of these.

I don't completely follow the comment on story form as a force and source of life. Is she refering to challenging or non-standard story structures? Ali, if by any chance you read this, please explain.

The wonderful Jackie Kay said

I read all my favourite poems aloud to see how they lived off the page, and each of my choices make a good sound read as well as a paper one, the test of a good poem.

So true. Read your poems AND your prose aloud.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

IWC Open Day

The IWC keeps on thinking outside the box. Good ideas here.

They have an open day:

When: 5th December
Why: to discover what we have planned for 2010. Staff will be on hand to answer your questions. There will be readings throughout the day and live music.

12.00pm Tiger Tales: Literary Coffee Morning

Bring along your favourite stories and poems to our literary coffee morning. The theme is Tiger Tales – whether you interpret it as animals, economy, speed, or violence is up to you! Bring along a piece you think fits the theme and partake in our informal readings and refreshments.

1.00pm Readings by guest poets Eileen Casey and Kieran Fury

The Irish Writers' Centre is delighted to welcome guest poets, Eileen Casey and Kieran Fury, to our Open Day. All are welcome to attend this free reading.

3-4pm The Rag and Bone Shop, Creative Writing Hour

An informal writing session hosted by the Irish Writers' Centres interns over tea and coffee. The hour will include writing exercises and prompts to get ideas flowing. It is open to everyone and is suitable for all levels of experience.

4.00pm Opening Address and information

Opening address by the IWC chairman, Jack Harte. Jack will introduce the focus of the Writers' Centre, its history and direction for the future.

One of our experienced creative writing tutors will also be on hand to lend their insight as to why a course in writing could kick start a new world of creativity. New course information and timetables will be available throughout the day.

4.45pm Presentation on Alice Milligan
Catherine Morris, the Irish Writers' Centre's Writer in Residence, will give a presentation on Alice Milligan. Alice Milligan was a poet and playwright who was a well-known figure in the literary revival movement of the early 20th Century and very respected among her peers.Catherine is currently writing a biography of the life and work of Alice Milligan, due to be published next year.

5.00pm Open Mike
We are opening the podium in our reading room to anyone who wishes to partake. We encourage you all to bring your musical instruments and your best poems and stories.

7.00pm Table Quiz
A literary themed table quiz. Entry is €16 per table. Up to 4 people may enter as a team, with the chance to win some amazing literary prizes.

Prizes include a signed Seamus Heaney and John Banville book, tickets to take part in the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl and much more.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Gregory O'Donoghue Poetry Competition

This competition is Cork based and don't be surprised if many of the shortlisters have US addresses. I don't know why this is but it often is. The first prize includes a trip to
Cork, Ireland.
But why not have a go anyway?

Prizes: 1st Prize €1000, publication in Southword and a trip to Cork Ireland.
2nd Prize €500 publication in Southword
3rd Prize €250 publication in Southword
Ten runners-up to be published in Southword and receive €30 publication fee.

Note Southword is now an online publication.

Deadline: Tuesday December 15th 2009

Judge: James Harpur who will read each and every entry himself, which is a positive.

Per George Szirtes, Harpur's poems are 'melancholy, monastic, mystical, like prayers shaped out of despair with the hearsay of some small light just over the horizon.'

I'd suggest no humour then.

Sample poems here.

Fee: €5 per poem or €20 per batch of five.

More details on the website.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Write This

This is a paying market ... but only for short stories. They say

We are now paying our writers - except for the poets who might be the only good thing in the issue (i don't know) but the poet always gets screwed. They accept this as the blessing of their profession and we wouldn't want to deny them.

Sorry, mate. That's not even funny. That's pathetic.

If you want to submit a short story, here's the latest theme.

the blasphemy issue - issue 4.8
Opening Date: October 22nd
Closing Date: December 1st
Publication Date: December 21st

Summation: You love God. You hate God. We won't judge. Come to us to with your devotions, your confessions, or your proclamations. Or come to us with your disdain, your warnings. Bring us your Goddesses and Nymphs. Jesuses. Or your Darwins. Your Hubbardwacks. Your when you're dead you're dead. We don't care. And join together, one and all, in what shall be a heartwarming dialogue of "Fuck God." "Fuck God? No. God is Great. Fuck you." We will choose fairly from the pro god and anti god camps. No agnostics please.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

The Phantom Tollbooth

My favourite children's book, full of wit and wordplay. Have you ever read it? I adore it. I reread it often as a child ann now often use it when teaching. Author Norton Juster and illustrator Jules Feiffer and now, after 49 years, they are getting back together again. The book is called The Odious Ogre. An brutish Ogre who meets a kindly girl who teaches him a lesson he is not likely to forget.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Ever Tried Englynion?

It's a British/Anglo Saxon type of Haiku. See this interesting post from Billy Mills in the Guardian. Writing in form is a challenge but I think every poet should try it.
Anglow Saxon/Viking forms are big into syllable counting. There are some variations but why not try the englyn cyrch. It's four seven-syllable lines of which lines one, two and four rhyme and the end of line three has an internal rhyme in line four:

_ _ _ _ _ _ a
_ _ _ _ _ _ a
_ _ _ _ _ _ b
_ _ _ b _ _ a

Friday, 27 November 2009

I didn't win the Patrick Kavanagh Award


Where are these people going to see sense? Do I have to abandon the plan to win the Kavanagh before I get my first collection out there?

Have not even been shortlisted for the Troubadour Poetry prize nor Poetry Can. Back to the drawing board.

Don't think I've been shortlisted for the Varilux short story competition either. I just saw a twitter from 2 days ago from someone who was. No news is bad news.

And while I'm on the subject, I sent some really good poems to a minor poetry journal, thinking I was doing them a favour. Really. That's the kind of headspace I was in. Guess what? They rejected them. All of them. As if! That's the last time they get offered my fantastic work. More fool them, that's what I say. More fool.

And while I'm off subject somewhat, don't you think Robert Pattinson's hair has an unfortunate resemblance to Jedwards? Scary.

I'm off to eat chocolate...

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Writing of a Medical Nature

Do you have any pieces of a medical nature, having an illness, having someone close to you with an illness, perhaps you work in the medical profession? Here's a journal you may find interesting, from the University of Toronto press, Ars Medica (link from Paperback Writer blog.)

Payment in contributor copies, electronic submissions preferred.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

iad-T in the Park

Starting on Sat Nov 28th, IADT and the lovely people at DLR Arts Office are starting ad-T in the Park, a series of literary happenings taking place once a month at the Tea Rooms in the People's Park, Dun Laoghaire.

Writers, readers and booklovers of all ages are invited to drop in and join Mia Gallagher, writer-in-residence at the IADT, for an exciting mix of literature, cakes and hot drinks. iad-T in the Park offers you the chance to share your work in public, chat with other writers, meet some of Ireland's brightest literary talents - or just talk about the books you love reading.

The events are free of charge, open to all and will run from midday to 4pm.

Saturday 28th November Opening Lines 12noon: Open Mic. Poetry, fiction, spoken word, music, comedy all welcome, with a 3-minute time limit per act! Time is tight so turn up early if you want your slot guaranteed.

3 minutes!

2pm: Readings & discussion by writers-in-residence Mia Gallagher and Paul Perry

Saturday 30th January Murder on the Bookshelves (crime fiction) 12noon: Writing the Dark Side (workshop). A fun workshop exploring how to get the most out of your dark side, structure suspense and play with horror and thriller motifs.

2pm: Readings & discussion by crime writers Declan Hughes and Arlene Hunt.

Saturday 27th February Exquisite Fictions (literary fiction) 12noon: Fiction Slam. Calling all fiction writers! You are challenged to go head-to head in an epic battle of literary performance. Numbers for this will be restricted. Contact for details.

2pm: Readings/discussion by two of Ireland's most exciting young writers, Claire Kilroy and Kevin Barry

Love Kevin Barry. Do yourself a favour and read some of his short stories.

Saturday 20th March Stranger than Fiction (non-fiction & poetry) 12noon: Poetry Coffee Morning. Share your favourite poems with other lovers of the artform? Poems can be by yourself or another. Max two poems per person.

2pm: Readings & discussion by memoirist Lia Mills and historical writer Neil Hegarty.

Why not with poets?

Saturday 24th April Play 4 Today (drama) 12noon: Improvisation and Storytelling (workshop). A playful workshop exploring ways to create, build and improve your stories.
2pm: Presentation by Annie Ryan and Michael West of The Corn Exchange, the ground-breaking theatre company behind Dublin Theatre Festival hit 'Freefall'.
Emerging writers can also set up a one-to-one session with Mia to talk about their work. Space for these is limited to two per month and will need to be booked in advance.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Guess the first line

Here's a (old) competition from Betsy Lerner's blog. She who wrote the classic book on writing call The Forest For The Trees. Get it out the library now.

Match the first lines with the author's pictures. And identify the (American) authors too. Don't peak at the comments until you've had a go.

Read some more of BBetsy's blog for an good insight into agency work.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition

This is the 2nd outing for this short story competition run by Interact.

Any Genre (not just crime)
The length of each story must not exceed 1000 words.
Deadline: 21st December
Fee: £10

Prize: The winner will receive £2,000 and become InterAct Reading Service’s Writer in Residence for a period of one year. In that capacity the winner will be expected to produce five further short stories.

While the copyright of any story submitted to the Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition will remain with the author, the submission of a story is done with the understanding that InterAct Reading Service has the right to copy and distribute the story to its actors for use in hospital and stroke club readings.

I would think that a story for use in hospitals and stroke clubs must be uplifting, probably humourous (shock, horror!)

It sounds like a worthy cause anyway.

If you have won a prize in a competition you saw on my blog, please let me know. We should share success stories.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Travel Writing Competition

Want to try travel writing but never been published and paid? This one's for you.

The British Guild of Travel Writers has announced that as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations, it is launching a new travel writing competition for unpublished travel writers in partnership with Traveller magazine.

The competition is open to all writers aged over 18, both UK and non-UK residents, who have not been published [paid work] in the travel field. Entrants should submit an 800-word article with the theme: A Very Special Place.

Deadline: 31 December 2009.

The prizes:

First prize comes courtesy of Travellers' Tales, the training agency for travel writing and travel photography, and the winner will enjoy a four-day travel writing holiday in the intoxicating city of Istanbul.

More on the website.

You will discover the city while practising your writing skills with a small group of fellow writers under the expert tuition of tutors such as Anthony Sattin, the distinguished Middle East expert, and Jonathan Lorie, former editor of Traveller and founder of the Travellers' Tales Festival (the next one takes place in London on 19-21 February 2010). See

Second prize is a trip to Berlin courtesy of WEXAS, The Traveller's Club, in association with Hotel Berlin and Lufthansa. The prizewinner will enjoy a two-night stay in a double or twin room at the Hotel Berlin on a B&B basis, plus two return economy flights from the UK with Lufthansa.

Third prize is the winner's selection of 10 travel guides from award-winning publisher Bradt.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

No More Hot Air


Where: Tallaght Library

When: Monday, November 23rd at 7pm

Poets include:
Theo Dorgan
Iggy McGovern
Eileen Casey
& Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill

in discussion on climate change with
Niamh Garvey &
Mary Shine Thompson

Friday, 20 November 2009

Bad Sex Awards

As in written about Bad Sex. I've personally written sex badly and written bad sex quote badly too. Here's the nominees for this year.

Paul Theroux’s A Dead Hand (Hamish Hamilton)
Philip Roth’s The Humbling (Jonathan Cape),
Anthony Quinn’s The Rescue Man (Jonathan Cape),
Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones (Chatto),
Amos Oz’s Rhyming Life and Death (Chatto),
Nick Cave’s The Death of Bunny Munro (Canongate),
John Banville’s The Infinities (Picador),
Simon Van Booy’s Love Begins in Winter (Beautiful Books),
Sanjida O’Connell’s The Naked Name of Love (John Murray)
Richard Milward’s Ten Storey Love Song (Faber).

All men except for Dr Sanjida O'Connell who I'm pretty sure is a woman. Strange that.

The lucky winner will be announced on 30th November.

Rachel Johnson won last year for Shire Hell (Penguin), while John Updike was awarded a lifetime achievement, having been nominated four years in a row.

P.S. I'm hoping for an increase in hits for this post!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Cork gets it on

Cork flashmob - Mr Blue Sky to publicise the National Campaign for the Arts. Looks like they're all having fun. There's another planned in Wexford town, next Saturday 21 November at 12pm. (Apologies if you've seen this before.)

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

More links

Really interesting post from Poemshape on Elizabethan fonts (no, really)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Surfing links

Fifty-Two Poets - a blog about reading one collection a week and commenting on it.

Melancholy post about having to choose between writing, making money and family time from Declan Burke. Buy one of his books, if you haven't already, and cheer him up.

Bookwitch - blog worth reading.

Litdrift has Writing prompts.

How royalties work by Rachel Gardner, Literary Agent.

Hivemind. All your characters talk alike. Plain talking from

Bards in the Bog from Shetland. We should SO do this here. Any takers?

International Writing Contents from Arts Grants

Monday, 16 November 2009

Paul Durcan Fans

Dermot Bolger will be in conversation with renowned Irish poet Paul Durcan in Deansgrange Library on Tuesday 17th November at 7.00pm.

Famous for his electrifying poetry readings, this autumn Paul Durcan marks four decades of writing with a magnificent collection, Life is a Dream: Forty Years of Reading Poetry, 1967-2007.

Admission is free but booking is essential Call (01) 285 0860

Presented by dlr Place and Identity Per Cent for Art Programme in association with dlr Libraries.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Willesden Herald

The Willesden Herald Short story competition is now open.

Deadline: 18 December 2009.

Judge: Richard Peabody is a distinguished poet, author, lecturer on creative writing and editor of Gargoyle magazine. Shortlist chosen by Steve Moran.

How to enter here.

Word limit is a generous 8,000 words.

Fee: £3

The prizes for 2010 are:

1st place: £300 plus a one-off Willesden Herald mug inscribed "The Willesden Short Story Prize 2010"

2nd: 2 x £150 (two runners-up)

All ten short-listed stories will be included in "New Short Stories 4" to be published by Pretend Genius Press.

Author compensation for inclusion in New Short Stories is limited to 2 complimentary copies of the anthology.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Tony Doyle Bursary

Not much notice for this one. First I've seen of it.

Deadline: 4th December 2009

The Tony Doyle Bursary for New Writing is currently accepting submissions. The aim of the bursary is to promote, assist and develop writing for television from Irish writers who are new to the medium and to create links between broadcasters and writers in Ireland.

Entrants are asked to send in either a 60 or 90 minute script for an original television, theatre, film or radio drama in the form of a single drama or the first episode of a two-parter, serial or series. The chosen finalists will then participate in a residential seminar where they will undergo concentrated script sessions with members of BBC Northern Ireland Drama’s development team and various script writers and producers.

The winner of the bursary competition will receive a cash prize of £2,000.

Friday, 13 November 2009


I met a man who met Ernest Hemingway once, or he said he did. He met Marilyn Monroe too and Mike Tyson too. The world's a small place.

You too can meet someone who met Hemingway. There is a lecture on 18th November by Valerie Hemingway in the RDS,


Advance booking by emailing

Valerie is a writer, living in the US but originally from Dublin, who met a certain Ernest in Spain in 1959. Their first meeting was as interviewer and subject, however the subject then hired Valerie as a personal secretary. She spent two years following him and his wife around France, Spain and Cuba as confidante and secret keeper. She even managed to pick up a husband along the way in the form of Hemingway’s son Dr. Gregory Hemingway.

Pop down to the RDS and hear these tales of a true adventurer. It’ll perk you up during the midweek slump and you might even learn a thing or two about one of America’s best writers.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Sunday Miscellany

Berlin Wall 1990

Result! After many years of trying to get a piece accepted on this radio show (RTE Radio 1 Sunday morning at 9:10) I'm in. I first sent something in in 2002 so perseverance is key. I wasn't at all continuous, please understand, more off than on, but I did send in my share. Some, on re-reading, were rubbish. Some weren't. This one is spot on.

Listen in on Sunday 15th November at 9:10 am or listen to the podcast later. I think it will start the programme.

I think some new voices would be good for the programme.

I hope to this space.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Fancy a stab at crime writing

Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Competition.

I read a lot of crime and enjoy it. There are some fantastic writers in this genre and it is often said that they are ignored by the literatti. If you have it in you, try for this prestigious prize. More details here.

Deadline: midnight on 6th February 2010

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

Send the opening chapter(s) – up to 3000 words – and a short synopsis of your proposed crime novel.

They also send out a regular newsletter with tips and guidelines that is very good.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Readers Day


Anyone going to this years Reader's Day from South Dublin Libraries?

Info and brochure here.

Call 086-0492815 to book.

It's in the Maldron Hotel, Tallaght (formerly the Tower Hotel). It's free. Lunch available for 10 Euro on the day.

The authors taking part this year are Chris Binchy, Kevin Power, Diarmaid Ferriter, Paul Howard, Paul Durcan, Paula Meehan, Judith Mok and John Curran.

(Personally I'll be staying for some but not all.)

Monday, 9 November 2009

For the Day that's in it. Berlin.

Poems on the Dart Winners

Some familiar names here. Congratulations

John O’Donnell, Dublin for his poem - The Blue Man

Cecilia McGovern, Dublin for her poem - It is Dangerous to lean out

Eamonn Bonner, Donegal for his poem - Climbing out of the window

These poems will be displayed on trains, in stations and will be published after the awards ceremony on

announcement here.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Some links worth surfing

Indulge yourself. Nibble on these.

How can good new writers be published when the industry is ruled by people who aren't interested in originality? from the Guardian

Sunday Washup of writing related links from Andy Shack.

Titus the dog. Blog from the Scottish Poet, Joanne McKay.

Magma Poetry Magazine

Blog from Matt Bolton on his world view.

42 Essential third act Twists. Brilliant. Which do you recognise?

Warning from Quiller's Place about Chapter One Promotions.

How not to run a Literary Festival by Amanda Craig.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Birthday Post

Not posting today. It's my birthday. Have a virtual slice on me.

And if you go here and click the podcast marked "Kate Thompson July 24th," it isn't Kate Thompson, it's me. Enjoy.

Friday, 6 November 2009

All your November Deadlines in one easy to find list

All your November Deadlines in on easy to find list - so you've no excuses for missing one.

Faber Poetry Course 20 November


Iota competition 30 November
The Plough Prize competition 30 November
Abridged submission 30 November
Cafe Writers competition 30 November

Poetry Collection:
Cinnamon Press Poetry Competition 30 November

Short Story:
Sunday Times competition Deadline 30 November
Abridged submission 30 November

Ledig House 20 November

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Cafe Writers Poetry Competition

This one is based in Norfolk.

Judge : George Szirtes

Fee: £4 per poem; or £10 for 3 poems and £2 per poem thereafter

Deadline: 30th November 2009

Winner: £1000, Runner Up: £300, plus Five Commended Prizes of £50#
Also £100 Norfolk Prize awarded to best poem from a permanent Norfolk resident and

The Nancy Jervis Poetry Prize £150 for best poem on theme of reconciliation not winning another prize

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Abridged call for submissions

Abridged is a great magazine produced in Derry. For the next edition, they are looking for writing and artwork on the theme of Absence.

Up to three poems may be submitted, max length approx 100 lines

Art can be up to A4 sized and full colour. It should be at least 300 dpi.

Submissions may be emailed to

Or can be sent to:

Abridged, c/o Verbal Arts Centre, Stable Lane and Mall Wall,

Bishop Street Within, Derry BT48 6PU

Deadline: 30th November

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Ledig House Residency

Ledig House
Here's a residency in the US that sounds marvellous. Ledig House International Writers Residency (from Paperback Writer Blog)

Two and a half hours north of New York City in the town of Omi, in the scenic Hudson River Valley
Ledig House provides all meals, and each night a cook prepares dinner.

Deadline for spring session: 20 November 2009
Spring session is March 12-June 4

You'd need to arrange your own travel. There may be a possibility of a travel grant from the arts council.

Read the details here. Includes:

# How did you hear about Ledig House?

# A biographical sketch including publications, performances and writing credits.

# One non-returnable copy of your latest published work. If unpublished, send a ten page sample of your latest work.

# A one page description of the work to be undertaken while at Ledig House.

# One letter of recommendation.

# One self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) for notification. (Non-US applicants are asked to include a sufficient "international postage coupon" in lieu of stamps.)

(this will be hard as these are not for sale in Ireland)

Applicants should specify a preference for the spring or fall session as well as the amount of time desired - no shorter than two weeks and no longer than two months.

Again hard for any artist with a full time job or family commitments or a dog etc.