Friday, 27 June 2014

Some summer online readings

There are lots of interesting online magazines currently publishing really good work. So, here are some ideas for online summer readings.

Five Dials issue number 32 from Hamish Hamilton.

The Letters Page  issue 3  'Travelling Light' Spring 2014. 

Burning Bush 2 poetry and flash fiction, issue 6.  

For more click below

Sunday, 22 June 2014

National Flash Fiction Day - Maureen and Deirdre read at Flash Fury

Last Saturday was National Flash Fiction Day and Big Smoke Writing Factory were running Flash Fury in Arthur's Pub on Thomas St. Dublin. It was a reading event of flashes up to 500 words plus a competition for 99 word stories. All readings were chosen from submission by email.

Maureen and I decided to enter flashes as we liked the idea of getting to read on that day, and we were happy to do the road trip to Dublin. Two of my teenage daughters wanted to come along for the ride (to go shopping of course!) so we could fill the car and go.

Well, both our stories were chosen for readings, and we were mightily pleased and honoured that we got the opportunity to read together. Garden Room Writers (well, two of us) hit Dublin. It was a hot day, but there was an appreciative audience there for Flash Fury. The organisers were so welcoming, and very pleased that we'd made the effort to come from Donegal. And, I really enjoyed the whole event - thank you Big Smoke Writing Factory, it was well worth the drive. I'd recommend the experience if it's running again next year.

There were a wide range of readings, and readers - from new writers to the very experienced. Nuala NiChonchuir was judging the 99 word competition from 5 shortlisted stories read out for us by their authors. She read one of her own flashes from Of Dublin and Other Fictions called  Fish which was an unexpected treat.

I'm not going to try to name names because I'll end up leaving someone out. The readings were very diverse in theme from funny to sad,  real to fantastical, and all were very enjoyable. The 99 word stories had been printed on postcards and were spread around the tables, so I've a handful of stories home with me too. Bernard O'Rourke won The 99 competition - well done Bernard.

Here's me reading Only Words - the story of a revenge by dictionary. 

There was a nice Summery buzz in the room upstairs at Arthur's pub, sunshine streaming in behind us as we read and street sounds rising in the open windows. I really enjoyed the imagery in one particular story. I can't remember the guy's name, and he's not on the BSWF twitter pics. Aghh, that's annoying.  He wrote of the disco-ball effect of sun dappled through leaves in a gorgeous love flash called The Dance.

Here's the winning 99, Bernard O'Rourke's Sunbathing, published on gorgeous postcards along the other four 99ers.

Here's me reading just after Deirdre. I read Cover Girl which you can read below. 

Cover Girl
Karen stood behind her friend and twisted Sarah’s hair in a loose knot. The girls smiled at their reflection.
“I can see the album cover now, you and Tom standing just like this,” Karen said. “It’s so exciting. You’re going to be massive.”

The dart was quiet.  Sarah wrote on the train sometimes at this hour, took her notebook or phone out and put down a few words or chords.  She hummed aloud if the going was good and no one bothered. The crinklies couldn’t hear her and the mums were miles away dreaming distant futures into the eyes of their kids.

Sarah’s mum wasn’t one for dreaming. More of a planner for rainy days. Sarah took after her dad. Always greener on the other side with those two. Sarah’s favourite memories were of the two of them listening to music on Sunday afternoons while her mum visited her aunt and whatever new cousin had just been born.
“Didn’t they call the last one Shannon?” or Lauren or Jamie or whatever it was, she would ask when her mum announced the name of a new arrival.
“You know perfectly well they didn’t. Have you done your homework?” her mum would reply going out. 

Then it was just her dad and her and a long Sunday stretched on the floor, while he filled in her real education: the history of rock and roll, punk, mods, prog rock, new romantics, stadium rock, of pop, decent pop when there were still songwriters. She’d play a new song for her dad and he’d listen, really listen. Then he’d pronounce it derivative and pull out an old album, or wait for her to search itunes for the original.

She admired the dress again. Sarah would be her brand ambassador Karen said when she tried to offer payment. This dress was way more than Sarah could afford and they both knew it. Wearing it on the album cover was the least she could do.
She checked her appearance in the mirror as the lift brought her up to the hotel room booked for the shoot. She floated out of the lift. She kissed Tom who dashed toward her.
“You smell good,” he purred, “Come, meet Jenny, the photographer.”
“We’ve been thinking Sarah, of something like this,” Jenny handed her some photos. “Maybe Tom and his guitar on the right, you looking ahead beside him. The light is fading guys we need to move on this. In five ok?”

In five it was. Sarah numb. Tom taking centre stage. Karen’s dress crumpled on the bed. A hotel robe dropped to her waist and Sarah barely able to stop shaking long enough for the photo. The image was right first time. Jenny was delighted. Tom bit her ear when the others left.

“Nice dress babe, new? You can buy a whole new wardrobe once the money starts coming in. We’ll be minting it Sarah. You’re amazing. That cover will be smoking.” 

Maureen Curran 

North West Words Arts Night Next Thursday 26th June 2014

June, good weather, my holidays are looming, and NWW is next week - what a combination! I always enjoy NWW, but I must say I'm particularly looking forward to this one as a fiction writer. Alan McMonagle is reading, and Siobhan McNamara, with music by Maryann McDonnell.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

RTE Guide/Penguin Short Story Competition 2014

This is an annual competition with the winner published in the RTE Guide. It's for stories of a maximum word count of 2,000, and has a deadine this year of 11th July. The winner last year was Trisha McKinney who is from Donegal, and now lives in Dublin. Her story Soft Rain is available here  and the story from the 2011 winner, Val Nolan, here  For entry details see here

Sunday, 15 June 2014

June - some ideas for publications and competitions currently accepting submissions

If you have work ready and want ideas for submitting, here are some publications currently looking for submissions. Remember to read the requirements carefully, they differ between publications. And, always read published work from past issues to get a sense of the most suitable place to send your piece. There are quite a few Irish journals currently seeking work.

The Stinging Fly - open during July, and takes poetry, fiction, book reviews and essays. See here

Wordlegs - seeking submissions for the Autumn 2014 issue, takes poetry, flash and short story. See here

And for more see below...

Friday, 13 June 2014

National Flash Fiction Day events including some free competitions

National Flash Fiction Day 2014 is on 21st June and is in its third year. There are lots of events associated with it including a range of free to enter competitions, and readings (if you happen to live near the relevant venues). Some of the competitions allow submission of previously published works. The website is here  and a list of events here  

Here are some competitions with deadlines still open:

Flash Fury: Flash Fiction Reading and Competition 2014 - this is run by the Big Smoke Writing Factory. Though the deadline for it is really soon (14th June), and the winners must be available to read their winning entry from 3-6pm on Saturday 21st June at Arthur's Pub on Thomas St., Dublin. There are two events, a reading for which you can submit a 500 word story for consideration, and 'The 99' competition (stories must be 99 words exactly). Submissions for the reading can be published or unpublished, but 'The 99' requires previously unpublished pieces. Entry is free for both, the judge is Nuala Ni Chonchuir, and full details and guidelines are here

Flash Flood 2014 - deadline 19th June, and word count maximum 500 words. The winning entries will be posted online throughout National Flash Fiction Day. For further submission details see here  

Fish Facebook Flash 2014 - entry free, and the winner gets a free entry to the Fish Publishing Flash Fiction competition. Seems a bit strange though, to win a competition and then simply get entry to another competition!  See Fish Publishing Facebook

Twisted Tales 2014 - from Raging Ardvark Publishing for International Flash Fiction Day - on the theme of twisted tales. Deadline 23rd June, previously published work can be entered, and entry is free. Word count is 350 - 750 words, and the winners will be published in an e-book, for further details see here

And, here are some useful resources on flash fiction:

Litro podcast  Flash Fiction Special: Feat. Tania Hershman, Vanessa Gebbie, David Gaffney, Calum Kerr (and Kafka)

Stories in your pocket: how to write flash fiction an article by David Gaffney The Guardian 14/05/12

What is flash fiction? from Tania Hershman

Flash Frontier February Feature: Ethel Rohan, Nuala NiChonchuir and Dan Powell on flash fiction

What not to do on writing flash fiction by Callum Kerr founder of National Flash Fiction Day here  and advice on beginnings and endings here

Happy writing.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

A Last Appearance

The poet Kevin O'Shea's last reading before his sudden death took place at the North West Words April event in Letterkenny. Lisa Frank, from Doire Press, the publishers of his collection 'The Art of Non-Fishing,'
said recently that she was happy he had enjoyed the reading so much, as did his Cafe Blend audience that evening.
It is poignant to look back now with the knowledge that it was his last performance. The Garden Room Writers collectively have reason to be grateful to Kevin in his role of co-founding editor of Skylight 47 because he chose to feature us in the 'Under the Spotlight' section (Winter 2014 edition) of that fine publication.
Making part of that article available here is an act of gratitude to Kevin, and a tribute to his work as poet and editor. May he rest in peace.
"The Garden Room Writers met in 2009 at creative writing classes run by Ramelton poet Denise Blake. We take our name from the conservatory where Denise gave us great coffee and nudged us along the writing path...There has been great camaraderie and support around getting brave enough to send out our work, sharing successes and rejections, and learning from each other about the writing life...Since last summer, the GWR group has kept a private blog (and) we decided to go public this summer. We did not take this change lightly. The writer Rachel Cusk described writing as the act of putting what is private into the public sphere. Over the years important levels of trust have developed between us, and this bears fruit in the support we offer each other during the transition from our safe and private writing world to the sometimes wintry stare of the outside world.
Blogging echoes writing itself, where inner thoughts are shaped and sent forth in hope of a sympathetic reader. In some way, the group nurtures that process, enabling us to keep laughing, to keep open, and to keep daring to call ourselves writers."

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Translink Life’s Better Haiku Competition

Do you reside in Northern Ireland and write Haiku? How about the prospect of having your work displayed in public bus and railway stations across NI? Translink and Poetry NI are currently running a Haiku competition to find suitably themed poems. See here  or  here

The deadline is 31st July 2014, and four poems are to be chosen for display.  The competition is only open to those who reside in Northern Ireland, and entries are to be submitted online. Four winning haiku will be chosen that best reflect how travelling by bus and train can make your life better. The judges are from the organisations Translink, Poetry NI and Community Arts Partnership, and there is no entry fee.

Poetry NI is an organisation supporting and showcasing poetry around Northern Ireland, see the website here  Its main projects include a quarterly online poetry journal called FourXFour, a monthly open mic session called Purely Poetry (Cresent Art Centre, Belfast), and Pen Points Press  a small independent publishing wing. It's an organisation doing good work for poetry - well done!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

NWW Writing Weekend 25th - 27th July 2014

Friday 25th July 2014 will mark the beginning of the 2nd North West Words Writing Weekend in Letterkenny. I attended and thoroughly enjoyed this three day event last year, and I'm looking forward to a similar experience this summer. It's great to have such an opportunity so close at hand in the North West in two lovely venues - Radisson Blu Hotel, and Cafe Blend, Letterkenny. 

The following is a description of the three day event with activities for all sorts of writers - fiction, poetry, and writing for children. 

Workshops from Mia Gallagher, Gerard Smyth, Malachy Doyle, Susan Millar DuMars, Kevin Higgins and Averil Meehan. For further details and bookings of the entire weekend, or individual workshops email Maureen Curran at:  

More details below.