Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Blessed by writing experiences this week - NWW Writing Weekend

I've been looking forward to this last week in July for a long time. So far, in the middle of the week, I'm just blown away by all I've learned and enjoyed about writing. 

Last weekend was the North West Words Writing Weekend held in Cafe Blend and the Radisson Blu, Letterkenny. All this week, I'm at the very first Summer Writing Institute at NUI Maynooth. I think I might just explode with delight before the end of it all. My head has been filled with so many lightbulb moments... more about the  NUIM experience in another post.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Poets' House Poetry Series

A few years ago, the Garden Room Writers arranged a very enjoyable weekend set of workshops in The Poets' House at Falcarragh, Co. Donegal. We covered both poetry and short story sessions in a very productive two days with Janice Fitzpatrick Simmons and Gréagóir O'Dúill. And, some of our poet members have benefited over the years from their public workshops. 

In recent times, they have been running The Poets' House Poetry Series. Forthcoming on Saturday 02nd August 2014, they have workshops and an evening of readings by Ciaran Berry and Janice Fitzpatrick Simmons.
Then on Sunday 03rd August at 7.30pm there is New Writers Reading with Chris Allen, Stephen Sexton and Karen Blaney. For more details see their Facebook page

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Number Eleven Magazine

As Deirdre mentioned in her post on July 15th I have been fortunate enough to have a short story called 'Snowdrops' published in Number Eleven magazine. It is the first time I have had anything published so it's a great buzz to see your work presented so well and available for people to read. The on-line magazine looks great and there are nine other short stories for you to enjoy.
The value of being part of a writing group cannot be underestimated. Without the Garden Room Writers suggestions and encouragement my story would probably still be scribbled on some random pieces of blank A4 gathering dust on a shelf. With this encouragement I spent one whole Bank Holiday Weekend finishing and polishing off the story as best I could, researching magazines in order to submit it to the most appropriate one and ignored all the others jobs I had on my to-do list for the holiday weekend. The focus paid-off and when I got an email saying the story had been selected for publication in Issue Five I was very, very happy indeed. Many thanks to Number Eleven and my fellow Garden Room Writers!

Michael Morpurgo in Manchester

Well, I had a little trip the other week for a friend's wedding and as luck would have it I found myself in Manchester on the same day as Michael Morpurgo was there reading from his book, Private Peaceful, accompanied with music by Coope, Boyes and Simpson, an amazing acappella trio. The concert was part of the Manchester Children's Book Festival.
I was a student in Manchester - on occasion I could be found dancing on tables in the Flea and Firkin (that is what tables are for in Manchester in case you are not aware). Seventeen years later (eeek...yes, seventeen years later) I found myself in one of the student buildings on Oxford Road sitting and listening to this spellbinding concert. At the start a voice in my head would speak and say, 'Oh my goodness, he wrote Warhorse, HE actually wrote Warhorse...and I am hear listening to him read.' I wanted to go out onto Oxford Road with a megaphone and shout 'Everyone needs to come inside here and listen to this' - suffice to say I was quite excited. But, as he began to read, and as the music filled the atrium, weaving in and out of the lines he spoke, the story and characters became the focus; you were drawn in, you held you breath, you were thinking of nothing else and time seemed to stop.
Check out the Michael Morpurgo website for details of further events/reading and if you are in the right place at the right time go!!
p.s The wedding was ace too - though I did not dance on any tables this time...

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Garden Room Writers have been busy

We've had a run of publishing luck in the Garden Room Writers this summer. And, as I'm sure you know, it doesn't come easily getting work published. So I'm delighted to say we've achieved a few successes between us recently. You can read most of the pieces from the click links detailed below. 

Annalisa read a lovely story at the group one night. We said - send it off it's a good one. We were right too. It has found a home with Number Eleven (issue 5) which is a journal edited by Graham Connors with assistant editor Sinead O'Hart. You can read 'Snowdrops' over at Number Eleven here and submissions to the journal are currently open.  They are seeking both short story and flash.

Maureen has been very busy too, she's been organising the North West Words Writing Weekend (25 - 27th July) in Letterkenny see NWW new website  But, she also has a poem in the latest edition of Crannog (issue 36) called 'The First Good Day'.  Submissions for Crannog are currently open during July and they take poetry and stories, see here. I must say, Crannog is a journal I've been buying for years and it doesn't disappoint. 

On the other hand, Ann has been writing something very different which has come from her correspondence with Jon McGregor and The Letters Page journal. Jon is a critically acclaimed short story writer and novelist. He was one of the judges in the recent Davy Byrne's Short Story Award. Ann interviewed Jon by postcard - no, you didn't misread that. She writes her account of the interview at the newly launched North West Words Magazine - read it at page 23. This is a new online version of the NWW magazine which was launched recently along with their new website. They are now accepting submissions of short story (2,000 word max.), memoir (800 word max.) and poetry for issue 2 see details here  deadline 01st September. And, The Letters Page accepts hand written letters of one A4 page; it  is currently closed to submissions, but watch out here for the call regarding issue five. 

Finally myself - I've a memoir piece called 'Backstage Carpentry' in the new NWW Magazine at page 36,  North West Words Magazine 

  Happy reading, and writing.

Monday, 14 July 2014

The Festifál Readings, Main Street, Falcarragh, 18th and 19th July 7.30-8.30pm

This sounds like a nice way to spend a writerly summer's night. It's part of the North West Art and Music Festival - Festifál. The Poets' House presents poetry readings 7.30 - 8.30pm and an open mic in the Green Tent, Main Street, Falcarragh next Friday and Saturday night. Music sessions running Friday, Saturday and Sunday also. For more details of all events see the Festifál Facebook page

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Three free to enter fiction competitions

Writing competitions usually have an entry fee which is fair enough as they need to pay those involved. Occasionally, and I presume for a variety of different reasons,  the odd one is free of charge. Here are a few I've noticed recently with no entrance fee. It all helps, especially if you entering a number of competitions...the fees mount up.


FREEIMAGES.co.uk here

Costa Short Story Competition 2014 - deadline 01st August 2014, short stories of 4,000 max. word count. A panel of judges select a shortlist of six stories which are added to the competition website for public voting - author names are not disclosed during voting. The winners are chosen by public vote.  Entrants must be over 18, and for further details see here

Summer Short Story Competition from University of Leicester (The Vaughan Centre for Lifelong Learning) - deadline 12th September 2014, short stories of 2,500 max. word count on any theme. However, only unpublished writers can enter, and entrants can't be fulltime students.There are two categories age wise: a junior competition ages 10-15, and an adult competition defined as those over 21 years of age. For further details see the  website

IV Edition International Flash Fiction Competition 'Museum of Words' - deadline is 23rd November 2014, and  there is a competition slogan 'Mandela: Words and Concord', but entries can be on any subject. The max. word count is 100 words, and up to two entries can be submitted per person. The prize for the winner is a rather amazing $20,000. Further details of the competition rules can be found at this website and the winning flashes from last year are available here  

There are details of lots more competitions on our competitions page. Happy writing.

Gee, update, I just found another, but for this one you need to be London resident. I'll add it down here as a bonus one.

London Short Story Prize 2014 - deadline 19th September 2014, for short stories of up to 8,000 words. See more details here  Entrants must be London resident and over 18.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

July - some journals and competitions accepting submissions

The weather has been very good in Donegal recently, a rare and wonderful thing indeed. Though it's not so conducive to the writing life. Ah well, we really must enjoy while we can.

The possibility of some sun may be a little distracting, but here are some submission ideas for July if you do polish off some writings in time.  

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

Crannog - open for submissions in the month of July. Takes short story (2,000 word max.), flash and poetry. See here

And for more see below...