STACCATO Spoken Word Night

STACCATO, Dublin’s newest spoken word event, takes place in Toner’s Pub, Baggot Street on the last Wednesday of the month. It’s facilitated by writers Tanya Farrelly and David Butler who do a great job of curating a night with an enjoyably eclectic mix of poetry, fiction and live music.

I took part in their January event in the company of some wonderful writers.staccato poster

It’s tough to choose the right novel extract to read, I find. You want to pick something that gives a decent flavour of the book but that also works as a stand-alone episode. The worst thing you can do is bore everyone to tears with lengthy backstory explanations before you even start, or confuse them by introducing multiple characters. I ended up opting for chapter 5 of Skin, Paper, Stone for those reasons. Maire_Staccato

Kate Dempsey gave a wonderful reading of poems from her recently published collection The Space Between (Doire Press, 2015).  staccato_kate

Jack Harte read “The Silent One”, a powerful short story about the loss of childhood innocence and the dangers of religious fundamentalism. The story is available to read here via Ofi Press.  staccato_Jack

Iggy McGovern read a selection of his poems, some of which are available to read here, including my personal favourite “The Bony”. staccato_iggy

My highlight of the evening was Órfhlaith Foyle’s chillingly compelling story “How I Murdered Lucrezia”. It features in her short story collection Clemency Brown Dreams of Gin. You can read more about Órfhlaith’s work via her blog herestaccato_orfhlaith

Phil Lynch read a selection of poems from his début collection which will be published later this year. Make sure to keep an eye out for it. staccato_phil

We were also treated to a rendition of “Space Oddity” by MC Tanya Farrelly and singer-songwriter Mark Flynn which was the perfect ending to the evening.staccato_tanya and mark flynn

The next STACCATO event takes place on Wednesday, February 24th. For more information you can follow on facebook and twitter.


Annual Fiction Prize: Lucy Cavendish College

Eleanor-OliphantAre you an unpublished female novelist, over the age of 21, and resident in the UK or Ireland? Here is a wonderful opportunity from Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge which could help you launch your literary career.

Judges of the Annual Fiction Prize are seeking writers who combine literary merit with ‘unputdownability’ and the Prize has developed a formidable reputation for attracting first-class writing talent.

Recent winners and short-listed entries have achieved huge success, including Gail Honeyman who secured a seven –figure sum deal at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair for her first novel Eleanor Oliphant.

Aspiring authors are invited to submit an opening to a novel (up to the first 50 pages), accompanied by a synopsis of how the novel progresses and concludes.

First prize is £1,500 and all shortlisted entrants receive a valuable half-hour one-to-one consultation, with Judge and literary agent, Nelle Andrew.

The entrance fee is £12.00. Only one entry per person is permitted.

The closing date for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize is Friday 5 February 2016.

Full details are available here.


January/February Opportunities For Writers

type your heart outHappy new year, folks!

I don’t know about you, but I find the Christmas season always throws my writing routine out of whack. The days merge into one glorious tinsel-filled blur of food, booze and catching up with friends and relatives as daily word targets disappear down the back of the sofa with the TV remote. Lovely as it is to take some time out, it’s also a relief to get back to some semblance of normality.

In the coming weeks as you continue to write “2015” by accident and then clumsily scrawl the 5 into a 6, why not acquaint yourself with all 2016 has to offer for your writing? I’ve compiled a list of upcoming bursary, residency, publication, and competition opportunities.

7 January: Galway Rape Crisis Centre Writing Competition — Short story, flash fiction and poetry categories. €100 cash prize + publication in SIN Magazine.

11 January: Residency at Center Culturel Irlandais, Paris — Open to practitioners in all art forms.

15 January: Brilliant Flash Fiction: Science Fiction Writing Contest — Up to 750 words. No entry fee.

21 January: Arts Council Literature Bursary Award — Bursaries up to €15,000 available.

31 January: Fish Short Memoir Contest — Up to 4,000 words. 1st place = €1,000 + publication in anthology.

5 February: The Stinging Fly Fear & Fantasy issue — No more than one story and/or four poems.

5 February: Doolin Writer’s Competition Short Story Prize — 1st prize = €1,000.

20 February: Reader’s Digest 100 Word Flash Fiction Competition — 1st place = £2,000 + publication in magazine. Free to enter.

28 February: Fish Flash Fiction Contest — Up to 300 words. 1st place = €1,000 + publication in anthology.

29 February: Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers — 1st place = $2,500 + publication in Glimmer Train.

[image from CocoDraws, Etsy]

Hello, Red Rock

red_rock_image_389_5177In today’s random but exciting news — my books are set to appear in an upcoming episode of popular soap opera Red Rock. They feature in a scene set in Rachel Reid’s bedroom. Clearly this Rachel character has impeccable literary taste (and great taste in owl lampshades!) I like her already.

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Thanks to my super-talented friend, production designer, Tracey O’Hanlon for helping my books make their television début. Make sure to tune in and keep an eye out for their cameo in the coming weeks.

Red Line Book Festival

I was delighted to take part in an event at this year’s Red Line Book Festival at the Civic Theatre in Tallaght. Windows Into Other Worlds was a panel discussion about short stories chaired by Ferdia Mac Anna and featuring myself, Niamh Boyce (The Herbalist) and Michael O’Higgins (Snapshots).group redlineOur short stories all feature in the Hennessy Book of Irish Fiction — an anthology of the best short stories from the past ten years of Hennessy New Irish Writing.

When my story “Another Breakfast With You” was chosen for New Irish Writing in 2011, it was a real tuning point for me and a welcome boost of confidence. I’d had a few stories accepted for publication in anthologies prior to that, but the fact that this was published in The Irish Independent (with its large, national readership); the fact that I actually got paid for my story (which should always be the case but a lot of the time unfortunately isn’t); and the fact that as a result I was nominated for a Hennessy Award and got to attend a swanky event at the French Ambassador’s Residence (inspiring predictable Ferrero Rocher jokes a plenty) all made this a really special publication for me.


I welcome any opportunity to share my love of writing and reading short stories so this was a really enjoyable event for me. South Dublin Libraries did an amazing job of putting the Red Line Book Festival together. It’s one of those ones that keeps going from strength to strength each year.


[Photos by Rob O’Connor @Rocshot]

Review of Skin, Paper, Stone in Books Ireland

books ireland coverSkin, Paper, Stone received a great review in the current issue of Books Ireland. It’s the one with the inimitable Maeve Binchy on the cover. The book is described as a “tender, redemptive love story” and “a page-turner, in the very best sense.”

They have also listed the number of pages (254!) and the exact size of the book (21cm!) in case you were wondering.

books ireland

Over the Edge July Writers’ Gathering

over the edge_groupI had a fantastic time taking part in the July Over the Edge Writers’ Gathering in Galway City Library on Thursday. I was in great company alongside Doire Press writers Paul O’Reilly and Eamon Carr; wordsonthestreet writers Lorne Patterson and John Fogarty; and poet Mary Madec. I enjoyed each of the readings and the cúpla scoops afterwards, and I now have a bunch of new reading material that I’m looking forward to getting stuck into.

This was a special reading for me as Galway is my second home. I lived there for about 8 years in total and it’s the setting for my novel Skin, Paper, Stone. I used to attend the Over the Edge events a fair bit. In fact, the first time I ever read my work in public was at one of their open mics back in 2008. It’s great to see these events still going strong. It’s testament to the time, care and energy that Kevin Higgins and Susan Millar DuMars put into organising them.040(Thanks to John from Doire Press for sending me on the photos.)

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Review of Skin, Paper, Stone: For Books’ Sake


“Skin Paper Stone, populated with intriguing characters and set against the backdrop of the atmospheric Galway, is an engaging début from a promising new Irish voice.”

Skin, Paper, Stone is reviewed today by For Books’ Sake, an amazing organisation that champions writing by women.

This is my first UK review (by one of my favourite websites) so needless to say I’m delighted with it.

You can read the review in full here.