Bray Literary Festival

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I’m excited to be taking part in the Bray Literary Festival this year. It takes place from Friday, September 27th to Sunday, September 29th and has a fantastic line-up of readings, discussions, workshops and music. The full programme of events is available to view here.

I’ll be facilitating a beginners’ fiction workshop on Saturday, September 28th at 10am. It costs €10 and booking details are available here.

Course description:

Beginners Fiction: Fiction: A Sense of Place – with Maire T. Robinson

“Place” in fiction is not only about setting. It can inform every element of story: plot, character, mood, theme, and voice. A strong sense of place can provide a vivid, engaging, and atmospheric experience for the reader.

In this workshop, we will examine how established writers (including Daphne du Maurier, Elif Shafak, and Sarah Waters) use setting to bring fiction to life. Through guided writing exercises, we will explore practical techniques to hone descriptive writing and create convincing story worlds.

Topics covered will include engaging the senses, point of view, and reflecting mood and character through setting.

All materials will be provided on the day. Participants will also receive a curated reading and resource list to assist them in further developing their fiction post-workshop.

 

6-Week Fiction Writing Course At Block T

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I’m facilitating a six-week course “Lives of Girls & Women: Fiction Writing” taking place at Block T starting on Tuesday, January 17th (19:00 to 21:00).

The course fee is €150 (€75 booking fee).

Booking details are available HERE and the full course outline is below:

LIVES OF GIRLS & WOMEN: FICTION WRITING

How can we create complex, believable female characters in our fiction-writing and represent the lives of girls and women in a way that is compelling and authentic?

Over the course of six weeks we will explore the work of established writers as both an inspiration and a guide for creating our own character-rich, well-crafted fiction. We will explore topics including moving beyond the limitations of “likeable” women characters; representations of the female body in fiction; and utilising the folkloric tradition to subvert gender norms.

Sessions will also focus on elements of practical fiction-writing craft. Participants will have the opportunity to receive constructive feedback on their work-in- progress – be it short story or novel extract – in a supportive environment.

This course is suitable for anyone who would like to hone their literary fiction-writing skills, with a particular view to writing compelling women characters.

Classes will run for 2 hours, and the first half of the session will be spent discussing the themed reading material (emailed to participants in advance). We will focus also on a different element of craft each week: point of view, character, setting, dialogue, description, and mood/tone.

The second half of the session is a practical workshop where participants will have the opportunity to share their prose with the group and receive constructive feedback on their work-in- progress.

This could be new work generated by our sessions, or work that the participants are already working on themselves.

Week 1 – Girlhood // Element of craft: Point of View

Week 2 – The Curse of Likeability // Element of craft: Character

Week 3 – A Time and A Place For Everything // Element of craft: Setting

Week 4 – Family Matters // Element of Craft: Dialogue

Week 5 – Writing on the Body // Element of Craft: Description

Week 6 – The Feminine as Folklore // Element of Craft: Mood/Tone

 

Introduction to Flash Fiction

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“Here is the demand of the flash form: to find in compression what cannot be found otherwise, to view the constriction of time and space as a need for urgency and profundity.” – Randall Brown

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be facilitating a one-day course with the wonderful Big Smoke Writing Factory in January. Introduction to Flash Fiction takes place on Saturday, January 28th in Dublin City.

The full course outline is below. The cost is €60 and booking is available here.

Course Outline:

Flash fiction (very short fiction, up to a maximum of 1,000 words) distills the elements that make fiction great into its most potent form, rewarding us with memorable characters, clever storytelling, and prose that sings.

In this one-day course, participants will explore practical examples of flash fiction that works. We will examine stories that employ the literary elements of longer stories: setting, plot, point of view, and dialogue; in addition to stories that take a more experimental approach. As a result, participants will get a sense of the scope and infinite possibilities of writing in this form.

We will also discuss the best places both to read flash fiction and to submit work for publication. This is a practical workshop, so most importantly, participants will have the opportunity to share their work in a supportive environment and receive constructive feedback.

This course is suitable for beginners, or those already writing flash fiction looking to further develop their skills.

 

Women Writing Today event at Redline Book Festival

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I’m delighted to be taking part in the Red Line Book Festival again this year. Last year I was part of a short story panel of writers featured in the Hennessy Anthology.

This year it’s all about the novel. I’m joining Doreen Finn (My Buried Life) and Caitriona Lally (Eggshells) for a panel discussion hosted by Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin:

“In this panel discussion, three award winning writers will explore what
it means to be a writer in today’s Ireland, with specific emphasis on being Irish, female and a debut novelist. Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin will chair this panel discussion with Doreen Finn, Caitriona Lally and Máire T. Robinson who will also read and discuss their own work, and offer help and advice to would-be authors on getting their work published.”

women writersOur event takes place at the Civic Theatre, Tallaght on Friday, October 14th at 8:15pm.

Tickets are available here.

Hope to see you there!

 

 

Blogger & Author Dublin Meet-up

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What’s the collective noun for book-lovers?

A gaggle, a stack, a TBR pile…?

Whatever it is, a bunch of us such types got together at 37 Dawson Street on Saturday to discuss books… and plot world domination.

As everyone knows, such plans are best fuelled by tiny lil’ cakes with book decorations on ’em.IMG_0448 (1)

The event was the brainchild of J.B Johnston, Linda Green, and Carmel Harrington who had attended meet-up events in the UK, and wanted to create something similar in Ireland.

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Myself and Doreen Finn, photo taken by J.B Johnston

It was a great chance for me to meet and chat with fellow writers Doreen Finn, Liz Nugent, Janet Cameron, Muriel Bolger, Denise Deegan/Aimee AlexanderMartine Madden, and Sharon Thompson who runs the #writerswise forum on Twitter.

I also got to meet bloggers extraordinaire, the aforementioned  J.Johnston and Linda Green, as well as Trish Hannon, Kate Moloney, Danielle Kerins, and Amanda Horan.

And, it was lovely to finally meet Margaret Madden who does so much to champion Irish writers, and who kindly reviewed my novel Skin, Paper, Stone on her fantastic Bleachhouse Library blog when it came out last year.

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Photo taken by Kate Moloney

Hopefully, this will be the first of many such meet-ups. There’s plenty more characters to be discussed, books to be swapped, wine to be drank, and teeny cakes to be eaten…

 

Guest Speaker at IES Dublin

IMG_0442On Thursday I was guest speaker at IES Dublin for a group of Creative Writing students from the University of Iowa.

I read a short story and an extract from my novel and spoke about my experiences as a fiction writer.

We discussed the benefits of writing programmes, some of the challenges facing new writers, and ways of developing a distraction-free writing routine.

We also chatted more generally about the writing scene in Ireland and I had some recommendations for Irish novels and short story collections that I’ve loved in recent years (there’s so many!), as well as some upcoming submission opportunities that are open to Irish and international entries.

They were an engaging group who asked some great questions and it was a really enjoyable session.

Toronto: Attack of the Mattress & A Cameo at Rowers Reading Series

I was recently in Toronto to support a fantastic Irish documentary called Mattress Men which was premiering at the Hotdocs Canadian International Film Festival. In my wildest dreams I never imagined that I’d one day get to hang out at Niagara Falls with a talking mattress. It was a magical experience.IMG_0240

During my time in Toronto, I also took part in the Rowers Reading Series alongside Canadian authors Kevin Hardcastle, Tasneem Jamal, Larissa Lai, and Priscila Uppal. We each answered a little Q&A prior to the event which you can read here. I’m very grateful to the organisers and to Heather J Wood, in particular, for adding me to the line-up.IMG_0214It was a lovely, convivial, well-hosted and well-attended event. I enjoyed all of the readings. I particularly loved Priscila Uppal’s engaging and witty short story “Sleepwalking” which was told from the point of view of a pair of feet, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of her collection.

I hope to visit Canada again in the future. For now, it’s back to reality in Dublin and finishing work on novel 2. I’m taking part in a few other events in the coming months which I’m excited about. More about those anon…

 

Skin, Paper, Stone Turns 1

1st-Birthday-Article-ImageSkin, Paper, Stone was launched one year ago today so I’m wishing myself a Happy Bookiversary. (Is that even a thing? Who cares! I’m doing it anyway.)

It’s been a fun year. I enjoyed doing novel readings in Belfast, Galway and Dublin and meeting fellow writers and readers. There was even a bit of excitement in January when the book was shortlisted for an award.

On the writing front, I published an article or two about the creative process. One of my older short stories was also included in an anthology and I got to take part in a lovely event as a result of that.

To everyone who has read the book, written a review, invited me to read, or attended one of the events over the past year — a massive THANK YOU. Now I’ll get back to writing novel two so we can do it all again.

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March/April Opportunities For Writers

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Here’s some upcoming competition and publication opportunities for the next couple of months. Happy submitting!

March 3: Bryan MacMahon Short Story Competition — Up to 3,000 words. First prize =€2,000.

March 11: Molly Keane Creative Writing Award — Up to 2,000 words. A prize of €500 will be awarded to the winner at a special ceremony during the IMMRAMA Literary Festival in Lismore, Co. Waterford in June 2016.

March 12: The Penny Dreadful, issue 7 — Stories of up to 3,000 words.

March 14: Mslexia Women’s Short Story Competition — Up to 2,200 words. First prize = £2,000 + publication in the June 2016 issue of Mslexia.

Now – April 1: Granta Magazine — No set maximum length or minimum length, though most submissions are between 3,000-6,000 words. 

April 1: Colm Tóibín International Short Story Award — First prize = €1,000. Stories of between 1,800 – 2,000 words only.

April 29: The Novella Award 2016 — First prize = £1,000 + publication by Sandstone Press. 20,000 to 40,000 words.

April 30: Glimmer Train: Very Short Fiction — Stories of up to 3,000 words. First prize = $2,000 + publication in Glimmer Train.

[image from Black and WTF]

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.