Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Launchpad Journal - April submissions

The Launchpad Journal showcases new children's writing and will be open for submissions for the whole month of April - includes stories and poems for pre-school to YA.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Bath Children's Novel Award

The 2017 Bath Children's Novel Award will be open for entries from 2nd May to 19th November 2017 - a competition for unsigned children's novelists of all genres of middle grade and young adult fiction. The website has an interview with last years winner, Gareth Osborne, as well as interviews with previous winners and short-listed authors. There are also links to read the opening chapters of the winning and short-listed entries - you can spend a few hours browsing the site as I have done this evening! For this award the novels are initially shortlisted by a team of junior judges aged 7 -17. The interviews are informative and help give an insight into the processes both author and agent go through to develop a novel.
The Bath Novel Award invites submissions of unpublished or independently-published novels written for adults or young adults. It is open for submissions now and the closing date is 24th April 2017. (Fee £25).

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Show me the money!

Claire Hennessy wrote a useful piece in the Irish Times about the reality of being a children's author with respect to earning an income. It would be easy to become deflated by the realisation that earning a comfortable living by becoming a children's author is not an easy or common scenario for many. However, with challenges come opportunities and it is inspiring to read about people who do still work full or part-time while managing to write and publish their work.
It's a tough industry and, while I know it doesn't pay the bills, the reward gained from meeting other creative like-minded souls, laughing together, sharing work and celebrating each others successes is equally as valuable to me.
But, another tip that may help, which for some reason keeps popping into my head, is something Steve Martin said which is: 'Be so good they can't ignore you.' And Steve Martin did ok so I think that's good advice!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Garden Room Writers Artists' date with Errigal Writers

The Glenveagh Room at Arnolds Hotel Dunfanaghy
Saturday morning, I stroll Dunfanaghy, a pretty town twenty-five minutes from home, the sun tries to break out and the rain holds off for the moment. Half my mind is logging off, detaching from the working week, seizing  a moment to draw breath in what has been a really busy year at work. The other half, I hope the right side of the old brain, is firing on all cylinders.
I am on mid-term break, the Mock exams are over, and I am on an artists' date with Garden Room Writers and our more experienced writing friends, the Errigal Writers. I defer the opportunity for a lie in for the opportunity to spend creative time together with these writers in the hope of generating new work. Friendships overlap between writers in the two groups and Deirdre from our group and Averil from Errigal Writers have suggested an Artists' Date. In each group we feel the need for a bit of energy, for some stocktaking and are curious to see if sharing creative dates together might be useful.  

Sunday, 19 February 2017

North West Words February Event - 23rd February at 8pm in Cafe Florence

The North West Words February event is next Thursday at 8pm in Cafe Florence, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal. Kate Newmann, poet and co-founder of Summer Palace Press,  will be there to announce the winner and runners-up in the North West Words and Donegal Creameries Poetry Competition 2016. There will be readings of all the shortlisted poems, and the monthly open mic - a great evening of new poetry.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

North West Words January Event - 26th January at 8pm in Cafe Florence

This month's North West Words is back to its usual last Thursday of the month slot in Cafe Florence, Main Street, Letterkenny. All are welcome and it's free of charge. Again, there's a great lineup of readers, and also music from Highland Radio's Jean Curran.And, of course, there's the open mic for  readers who come along on the night and want to read their work. So come along and listen, or listen and read - whatever you enjoy.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Some free-to-enter writing competitions in 2017

Most writing competitions charge an entry fee, and as long it's reasonable, that's understandable - there are, of course, costs involved in running them. Still, some are expensive to enter, or the costs can build up if you are entering a few. However, there are occasional free competitions available – often funded by commercial organisations. So, here are a few free-to-enter short story competitions I’ve come across recently – and one that also asks for poetry entries.

Monday, 12 December 2016

North West Words Christmas Arts Night Thursday 15th December 2016

The Christmas event from North West Words runs this Thursday evening, and rounds off their monthly arts nights for 2016. The featured reader is a local writer, Evelyn McGlynn, with her childrens' book 'Freckles The Elf Christmas Magic In Ireland'. Music is from the Colmcille Gospel Choir. 

It starts at 8pm in Cafe Florence, Letterkenny. 

Friday, 9 December 2016

Gerard Beirne workshops on writing process at Carn Lodge, Ramelton, Co. Donegal

This is my first blog post in what seems like a very long time. I'd stopped blogging and writing fiction so that I could concentrate on finishing a doctorate. I can still scarcely believe that I’m through on the other side of that; needless to say, I’m both relieved and grateful to have completed it. My project was about the teaching of writing in higher education academic writing centres. I combined both my professional and personal interests in writing to sustain me through the process.   

With that in mind, I was really pleased to participate in a series of creative writing workshops with Gerard Beirne just days after finishing my dissertation. They were in Carn Lodge, Ramelton, Co. Donegal and were organised by Denise Blake and Maureen Curran. Little did I realise the connections I’d make with Gerard’s suggestions around writing fiction, and particularly with his concentration on writing process. 

Ideas around writing process play a large part in how many academic writing centres teach academic writing to student writers in different disciplines. Gerard Beirne's workshops reminded me of how the process of writing is similar across  many different forms of writing genre and style - including both academic and creative writing. The process approach is based on the premise that professional writers use processes that involve various forms of drafting and re-drafting. In other words, good writing is not penned, or typed, in one mighty draft from the mind of a genius writer; rather, good writing comes from time spent on drafting and re-drafting - from a first attempt through to a series of re-writing tasks.

Gerard explained, over three sessions (on poetry, fiction and publishing), that each drafting should be focused on predetermined tasks designed to improve the writing.  He then outlined some exercises that aid drafting. In the fiction session, he recommended (among other things): interrogating our choice of point of view, including consistency; and also, analysing fiction into constituent scenes to question their purpose and effectiveness. Instead of getting us to practise our writing, he asked us to think through our writing process. He then challenged us to reflect on how effectively we have been re-drafting our work. Do we practise good writing strategies, or do we simply repeat poor practices?  Do we have a rationale for what we re-draft, and do we work effectively at our drafts? The sessions I attended were on fiction and publishing, and they were enlightening, enjoyable and informative.     

What I particularly liked about Gerard’s philosophy was an idea that I share i.e. writing skills can be taught. We may all start at different levels, and we may each reach different levels, or destinations, but we can all practise and improve our writing skills. What that means in terms of writing success probably depends on what we value as success. More importantly, there are conventions, guidelines, processes and ideas, that if shared, and practised, can help to improve our chances of becoming successful writers (whatever that means to us).

I would highly recommend both Gerard  Beirne's approach and his workshops.