Thursday, 31 October 2013

Halloween musing

Some Halloween fun over at the website of  'The Penny Dreadful', that literary magazine of repute, who have announced the winners of their competition to tweet a seasonal horror story. You can read the top ten here  (including one from yours truly) and many congratulations to the worthy winner, Laura Jane Cassidy.
I was travelling back from a trip to England today, so I'm not joining the fun at tonight's North West Words event in Letterkenny. Instead, I indulge a Halloween habit and re-read the prologue of John Burnside's stunning memoir, 'A Lie About My Father'.
Burnside is a staggeringly gifted writer of poetry, short stories and novels. His first volume of memoir opens with a haunting reflection on Halloween:
'I was brought up, not necessarily to believe, but to allow for the possibility that the dead come back at Halloween; or rather, not the dead, but their souls: whether as individual wisps of fading consciousness or some single aggregated mass, it didn't matter. All I knew was that soul was there, in one of its many guises: ghost or revenant, breath of wind, figment of light or fire, or just some inexplicable memory, some snapshot filed away at the back of my mind, a picture I didn't even know I possessed until that moment.'
This is perfect prose for the season, and I never tire of reading Burnside, and then reading again more slowly and with appropriate attention. It is always a rewarding experience. If you would like to know more, the Scottish Poetry Society have some background and poetry on their website.
Happy Halloween...

Friday, 25 October 2013

My story Helpless in Crannog 34

My copies of Crannog arrived today. That’s always good news, but this time I’m excited to say that one is a contributor's copy, so I’ve a story published in Crannog 34. It's called Helpless. I’m so sorry to miss the launch in The Crane Bar, Galway. I hope everyone has an enjoyable evening of fabulous readings.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

North West Words Arts Night Next Thursday

Halloween with North West Words - you could bring out the horror fiction for the open mic. Or, horror poetry, is there such a thing? We might find out next Thursday in Cafe Blend, Letterkenny 8pm onwards.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

No Jury No Prize and the Garden Room Writers


in the London Street Gallery, Derry.

23rd October until 6th November 2013

     Our envelope designed by Nick Griffiths

                      Sample page

 To view the entries from the other members of the group,
 why not call into the Gallery and also see lots of other exhibits
 from all over Ireland.

 The Turner Prize exhibition is now open at Ebrington Barracks
 until January 2014. See here

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Just published poem (and its companion)

This poem is published in the latest Poetry Bus, launched last Monday at O'Bhéal in Cork. I still haven't seen a copy of it, I have a feeling its going to cost me a tenner to do so. Teach an Fhile was written a few summers ago in Gréagóir O'Dúill's house at Gortahork. I'd signed up for the first weekend workshop I did at the Poets' House in Falcarragh. Saturday was spent on a writing exercise in the morning out of which I got Googling Cottages, subsequently published in the Stony Thursday Book in 2010. Saturday afternoon we workshopped poems. At the end of that long and productive day we went to visit Gréagóir's house. It is an old cottage with a flag floor and a grassy street, I came away with a head full of stories and the smell of turf smoke in my hair and I wrote Teach an Fhile when I got home and put my wee'uns to bed.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

The power of lists in short story writing

I read an article from Brain Pickings recently on Ray Bradbury's thoughts about the value of lists to creativity here. It reminded me that I'd read a similar idea on the Irish Writer's Centre blog a few month's back from Emma Leavy here. I've used the idea since in a short story. In particular, I thought about what might be present in the main character's handbag, a list of items that would be revealing. The story isn't published yet, but I'll keep you posted. Fingers crossed for lists.

The Story Lizard - who could resist it?

I came across this link recently from The Poetry Divas Daily. It's an article called 8 Tips For Creating Great Stories From George R.R. Martin, Junot Diaz, And Other Top Storytellers. It's full of great advice on storytelling, and I love the illustrations. Have a look here  

Friday, 18 October 2013

Tweet a horror story for Halloween

A writing challenge for Halloween - deadline 30th October 2013.  The Penny Dreadful wants tweeted horror stories, extreme and brief. Hashtag #PDHorror, tweets to @DreadfulP. The top ten selected tweets will be published on their website see here

Friday, 11 October 2013

No Jury No Prize at London Street Gallery, Derry - Garden Room Writers will be there

London Street Gallery, Derry is open for submissions to exhibit at No Jury No Prize see here  and  here I'm pleased to say that the Garden Room Writers have decided to produce a collective work comprised of prose and poetry to exhibit. We're working away for the deadline 15th October (this Tuesday). Photos to follow (when we've finished the artefact)! I must say, it was a pleasure to work together at our meeting on Wednesday on what to submit. All will be revealed soon, and it will be on display October 20th to November 6th in the London Street Gallery as part of the Derry City of Culture and Turner Prize excitement. We'll be proud to be in there and part of it all.

There's still time to join in with all sorts of media. Deadline this Tuesday 15th October - hand in your exhibit to the gallery during opening hours. All work that meets the criteria (see website link above) will be exhibited.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Patrick Ness

Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time (a rare occurrence) when I happened to be in Manchester during the Manchester literature festival. After scanning the superb and extensive programme one name jumped out at me - Patrick Ness . Having just read A Monster Calls, a book which I believe should be sold with a packet of tissues, or at the very least a warning to wear waterproof mascara while reading it, I did not hesitate to book my ticket to attend an interview with the man himself.
Talking about his most recent books, The Crane Wife, an adult book inspired by a Japanese folktale, and More Than This, a YA novel, Patrick Ness discussed ideas such as differing perspectives of the truth in a story, kindness versus niceness as a subject and the use of conflict in a story.
The evening was open, relaxed, entertaining and informative. I came home with many nuggets of advice about writing, most of which can be found in this very useful writing tips page (actually, possibly the most useful, comprehensive and honest list of writing tips I have come across).
To compliment the evening the Bookshop Band from Bristol began and ended the evening with original songs inspired by some of Patrick Ness's books.
If you ever get the chance to attend an evening with Patrick Ness I have three words of advice for you...don't miss it!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Poets' House Series

There are two workshops running at the Poets' House next weekend and a reading by Greagoir ODuill. I have said it before, I have always left the Poets' House workshops with a better poem than the one I arrived with and sometimes with a new poem begun. Set in the countryside outside Falcarragh, the Poet's House is a forty minute drive from Letterkenny.

Four poets, a movie and an opera

This week I was in the audience at five different events. On Sunday I listened to poets Afric Mc Glinchey and Mary O’Malley with the Donegal Camerata at the Abbey Centre in Ballyshannon . The reading was part of the Donegal Bay and Bluestacks Festival. The same evening I went to Century Cinemas with John and some in-laws to see Rush, Ron Howards splendid film about the rivalry between Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda that culminated in the 1976 season. On Thursday Ann and I went to the Verbal Arts centre in Derry to listen to Colette Bryce read. Friday I brought my mum to the Balor theatre in Ballybofey to see North West Opera’s fabulous Merry Widow. Last night I was in the audience at St Cecelia’s school in Derry to hear Carol Ann Duffy and John Sampson. 

On each occasion when the lights dimmed and the mobile phones were silenced (or not) I knew I was in for a treat. I first heard Afric read at NWW when she and Paul Casey made the trip north from Cork in 2012. Her Lucky Star of Hidden Things had just been published and she read from that. It’s a gorgeous book of Africa, of motherhood.  Last week she shared some poems from that collection and some new poems. I hadn’t heard Mary O’Malley before and when she finished her set I was eager to hear more.  The audience was quite small and the intimacy of the wee auditorium (which has a name but I can’t remember it) at the Abbey Centre made listening an intense experience where there was little respite for reader or listener and the musical interludes were welcome.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

New opportunities for writing and art based submissions in the North

In the last few days I've come across a few new opportunities for both writing and art based submissions from Northern sources. I've listed them with their links below. There are some exciting new inititives, good luck to all involved. Submissions are not restricted to those from the North of the country.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Some submission deadlines in October and November

So, we're deeply embedded in the autumn season now. How about curling up with a magazine, or indulging in some ezines? Or, if you've work to submit, here are a few ideas for magazines and ezines with submission periods now open.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Letters Page Launches

Well, even though I wasn't there when the Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham University pushed the send button at 4.30pm this afternoon, I was really quite excited when the first edition of  'The Letters Page' arrived in my inbox.
This is a new literary journal edited by their writer-in-residence, Professor Jon McGregor. Not only does he have the time to send us loads of informative postcards (see previous blog entries) but he has also overseen the production of a correspondence-themed literary journal with the written letter as its primary form. All the submissions were handwritten and posted in the traditional way, with envelope and stamp. They have been transcribed, but extracts have been reproduced and sprinkled throughout the pages, so you get to see what Colum McCann's handwriting looks like.
I came across the Tumblr blog that Jon was running about the topic of starting a new literary magazine about this time last year, and I was instantly drawn in. It felt like listening to a man alone in a room talking to himself. Why start a literary journal? Weren't there enough already? Look at the pitfalls, the problems, the potential difficulties... I was hooked. It helped that he ran a competition to win a book of George Saunders short stories. I ended up writing him a letter.
A year on, and that letter is rubbing shoulders (pages?) with Magnus Mills, Claire Wigfall and the aforementioned Colum McCann, amongst others. It is a fine journal. You can download it by going to the website which also has details of how to sign up for a newsletter and submission details for the next issue. Rumour has it that Kevin Barry has posted his letter. You should too.

Short story publishing day at Irish Writers' Centre 2nd November 2013

Calling all short story writers looking for publishing opportunities. The IWC are running a day long event on 2nd November about publishing short stories and related information. See details here  There are many well known short story publishers and writers contributing to what looks like a very good and interesting day. Doire Press editors John Walsh and Lisa Frank are participating. These two busy editors came to share their knowledge with us in the North West back in July this year. They participated in North West Words Writing weekend as panel members and workshop facilitators. Personally, I benefited greatly from their tips, guidance and advice. One tip was to create a public profile - so here we are folks, the Garden Room Writers gone public.