Hello out there - the PJ O Connor awards for drama are open for submission, they're looking for a radio play (40 minutes) - closing date is 17th March. You can find out more HERE where they set out the rules and very informative guidelines of interest for anyone writing a radio play - whether you enter or not. I'd say enter - it's one of the few competitions left (along with The XO Hennessy New Irish Writing Award) that is free to enter. Forgive the scarcity of posts recently, I'm scavenging for writing time, between the kids, the job and the other jobs... I've had to cut out social media. I do it every now and again (I've been blogging since 2009) and my productivity always increases (massively!).
Have you a story (500 to 2500 words) looking for a home? Well, Roadside Fiction is a realist literary magazine with 'a passion for the
wild, outrageous, yet realistic story.' They publish an issue of short
stories and photographs quarterly and are currently seeking submissions -
They like - modern, urgent, honest realism. Stories need to move. We’re not interested in reflection.Tell us instead about a wild night, the strange events in your life as
an expat, that house party, travelling without knowing where you will
sleep that night, in short madness.
Think Kerouac, Bukowski etc and you’ll be on the right track.
And - this has cheered my cold and rainy Friday morning - Bleach House Books have included The Herbalist on their list of Alternative Classics, I'm particularly thrilled to be alongside Beloved, one of my favorite novels. There are some great reads on the list, you can check them out HERE
I'm working away on a novel, back writing by hand, I know a lot of writers would think that's mad, as its so much slower, but its a part of the writing process I really enjoy and I'm not willing to sacrifice it for speed - especially as I write better, freer this way. There's something about the pc screen, that brings the editing part of my mind to the fore, and I don't want to edit until I have at least 100.000 words of a fat and free first draft, so many words to go before I'm home :)
A short post as I'm sweating over a story - today I'm over at Liz Loves Books, Liz is an avid reader, reviewer and blogger, and you can read our interview HERE
And, Emerging Writer reposted an interview with me yesterday, which you can read Here
And, many congratulations to the winners and highly recommended novelists in this years Irish Writers Centre's Novel Fair, and to anyone who entered and didn't make the cut this time (there were 300 entries) don't be disheartened - you've your novel in shape now, what about submitting it directly to agents and publishers in the UK and internationally and see how it does? And, there's always next year, several winners have entered more than once before they made it through. The list of this years winners is HERE
In her book Motherlode, Carolyne Van Der Meer both
documents and re-imagines her mother's childhood in Nazi occupied Holland,
a childhood surrounded by German soldiers, steeped in poverty and living in fear of
air raids. (Van Der Meer's mothers family were part of the resistance
and helped to hide Jewish families from the Nazis.)
The research for the book led the author on a journey to Holland and to collaborations with dutch immigrants of her mothers generation - which are also documented in the book, along with photographs, poems, memories, stories. I'm really delighted to have Carolyne over today to chat about Motherlode and her experience of writing it.
Welcome to the blog Carolyne. Motherlode is part memoir, part
fiction, part poetry and it’s very much a personal journey, albeit one with
much wider implications, what was the most important aspect of creating and
publishing it for you?
First, let me say thank you,
Niamh, for having me on your blog. And my congratulations once more on The
Herbalist. It was, for me, one of those books that never quite leaves you. I
think every writer wants to write a novel whose characters stay alive long
after the book is finished. And you have done it!
As for Motherlode,
it explores the experiences of my mother and other individuals who spent their
childhoods in Nazi-occupied Holland or were deeply
affected by wartime in Holland. And you’re right, it was a
very personal journey. Personal because it’s largely about my family and for my
family—but also personal because I reinterpret the anecdotes and memories I
have heard through poetry and short stories. As you will probably agree, Niamh,
poetry is probably one of the most personal ways of writing.
But the most important aspect of
creating and publishing this book was, first of all, was preserving my mother’s
story. I really didn’t want this legacy to be lost. My son had often asked me
about my mother’s experiences and while I knew certain details, they were
surface elements. I couldn’t go into any depth. The other thing I realized as I
was researching was that for some, it was a great release to talk about their
wartime experiences. For my mother, it was very painful but for at least two of
the people I interviewed, it was liberating. I recorded all the interviews and
gave the recordings to my subjects. I know that the desire in both cases was to
be able to share these interviews with their children. So not only did I get to
preserve my mother’s legacy, my interviewees also got to preserve theirs. It
was incredibly satisfying to provide this outlet and I am so very grateful to
the people who shared their stories with me.
Do you feel you accomplished your
For the most part, yes. Given
there are so many books documenting WWII history, I wanted to approach this
project in a different way. Retelling the stories told to me by my mother and
my interview subjects through poetry and short stories was an enriching
experience. It allowed me to lose myself in their memories and try to inhabit
those memories, in a way. I was able to focus on capturing their emotions
rather than documenting history—which has been done by so many before me.
How did it feel to hand a copy
to your mother? What did she think?
She was thrilled. I don’t
think I have ever seen such a look of delight on her face. When she first read
the manuscript, she told me it evoked her past so powerfully that she couldn’t
sleep for a few nights. As much as I felt badly about that, I took it as a
I'm always curious about other writers schedules - how about you? Do you have a set writing time?
Because I work full time in
public relations, I have to snatch writing moments when I can get them. I take
the train to work every day, which gives me a total of 80 minutes a day with
virtually no distractions. That’s when I tend to write. And oddly, I write best
when I’m in a moving vehicle. I think it’s the momentum that helps me get into
the right headspace.
What about a favorite quote
that keeps you on track writing wise?
The American Beat poet Allen
Ginsberg said, “To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”I think
he’s so right. Forget about who might one day read your work and just get it
down. Whenever I am stuck and think I can’t possibly find my way, I remember
this and push through.
And finally, any other advice for emerging writers?
When I was studying
literature as both an undergraduate and as a graduate student, countless people
asked me what I planned to do with my education. Some didn’t even insinuate
that they thought it was useless, they told me point blank! But I knew that I
wanted to be a writer and I knew that if I read a lot, it would make me a
better writer. So my advice is, if you want to be a writer, believe. Stay
focused and you’ll get there. Don’t let anyone discourage you. And read! Read
as much as you can. And I agree with Ginsberg: don’t think about the people you
hope will eventually read your work. Just keep writing.
Spot on advice! Thank you for that, and for taking the time to come over and chat. Carolyne's book Motherlode is available to buy - Here
Sunday 26th January - One night only! A night of live radio drama in Bewley's Cafe Theatre. A stellar ensemble cast perform six short plays with music from Stefan French and Rory Pierce. Shows at 6 and 8pm. ... a couple trying to solve a rat-infested attic in a creaky fixer-upper house, a truck driver trying to steer his lorry cabin home on bendy roads one wet and windy night, via a supernatural café, where a woman meets her younger self ... along with a ghost story, a love story and a highly dramatic tale of the last farmer to hold out as his village is flooded to make way for a reservoir....
Constraints can often be good for creative work. I was becoming obsessed with finding a better writing space this year, one where I can switch into the world of my new novel. (One where I can't see my bloody sink!) And since a new corner or cranny didn't miraculously appear ( surprise, surprise!) I decided to hop in the car once a week and go write where the story is set. Those hours writing in the setting have jump started a vital connection and injected vibrancy into the writing. Place is very important to me when I write - it provides the tone, atmosphere, the voice of a book (as opposed to the characters, the voices in the book). So it all worked out well, in the end, so far, you know what I mean.... I'm not ready to give up drooling over other people's writing spaces yet though! Isn't Woodie Allen's just gorgeous, and quite ... grandmotherly, prim, queen bee-ish? There are more rooms HERE, not all as lovely as Woodie's....
And, Mslexia's short story competition is now open for entries....
A competition for unpublished short stories of up to 2,200 words. We accept work on all subjects, so write about anything and everything you fancy - we love to read it.
The Irish Examiner has published their list of the Best Books of 2013 today which includes The Infatuations by Hamish
Hamilton, Madd Addam by Margaret Atwood, Flamethrowers by Rachel
Kushner, Town and Country edited by Kevin Barry, Downturn Abbey by
Ross O Carroll Kelly, The Guts by Roddy Doyle, The Spinning Heart by
Donal Ryan, Intimacy with Strangers by Ciaran Carty, and...(aren't I pleased) my own novel The Herbalist!
Here's a reminder of a wee poetry competition (as if you haven't enough to do!) Its for a chapbook and the prize is publication (author gets 40 copies). I don't enter many, or any lately, of the competitions I post about, but I like the sound of this one, and hopefully it will help me to reorder and weed my poetry collection. Its run by UK publishers Pighog Press & The Poetry School, and the deadline 31st January.
A maximum of 10 poems should be submitted. Poems should be typed on
single sides of A4. Each submission should be no more than 300 lines in
total. You can find out more - HERE
‘Pamphlets reflect the art and
craft of compression. A pamphlet may be small, but it should be
beautifully formed - each poem must deserve its place, because it has
been lovingly crafted, with something important to say. I love
pamphlets that have a sure sense of themselves, a necessity, an
urgency. I like to be surprised, seduced, shaken out of my comfort
zone.’ - Catherine Smith (judge)
As a short story writer and lover, I was delighted to hear from writer Tania Hershman and her new initiative ShortStops, here's what she had to say....
was fed up with the myth of the poor, beleaguered short story when I
know just how much short story activity, how much short story
excitement and how much short story talent there is in the UK &
Ireland. So I decided to give the short story a little razzle dazzle of
its own by putting it all in one place!'
So, for a list of literary magazines that publish short stories, events where short stories are read, or to sign up for a newsletter click Here
Submissions for the 2014 RTÉ Francis Mac Manus Radio Short Story Competition are now being accepted. The competition is free to enter and closing date is Friday 31 January, 2014. Applications forms and guidelines can be found Here Apply by post to-
The Francis Mac Manus Short Story Competition, RTÉ Radio 1, Donnybrook, Dublin 4.
The three judges for 2014 are Christine Dwyer Hickey, Award winning novelist and short story writer, Julie Parsons, best selling author and former radio producer, Eoin Purcell, Editorial Director, New Island Books.
The Herbalist has just won Newcomer of the Year at the Irish Book Awards!
I'm thrilled, and still a bit gobsmacked, and of course grateful. I keep thinking back to four years ago, and me sitting at my chaotic kitchen table scribbled away like a maniac, with no idea whether the book would ever see the light of day. And now it has readers, readers who liked it enough to award it Newcomer of The Year. A big thank you to everyone :)
The Herbalist will be The Book On One this week!What does that mean?
Well, if you tune in to RTE Radio One at 11.10pm from Monday to Friday
you'll hear the novel being dramatized... cant wait to see how they've
ROPES is a literary journal published by students at NUI Galway, and they are open for submission! (Details Above.) I met their PR Niamh Callaghan at the Over The Edge Reading last night in Galway, it was hugely enjoyable night with a great audience. Audrey Dinneen read the most heart breaking pancake making scene you'll ever hear, and the open mic afterwards was packed with exciting poems, sestinas on rugby bums, rifts on hips, coffee bean epiphanies... A lively (and really well run) open mic - it will be on again in December, so if you're near Galway check it out. (And a big thanks to Kevin Higgins and Susan Millar DuMars for inviting me.) And...
I'm reading in Croi Anu Creative Centre, Moone, Co Kildare tonight at 7.30pm
It's my last reading of the year, and it's been an exciting, and exhausting year, so I'm really looking forward to crawling back into my cave and getting to grips with some writing. I heard Donna Tartt on the radio this morning, she was asked for writing advice. I waited with baited breathe for some mystical insight, but her tip was pretty practical. The advice that is most often given to writers, and most often ignored by writers - but probably the best - 'write every day - just show up at the page.'
I'm looking forward to doing just that.
Have a great weekend, and good luck if you submit to ROPES :)
I'm heading to Galway this Thursday, to read at Over The Edge. I moved to Galway to study in 1992, and didn't leave till 2006... its a hypnotic place -so really looking forward to the reading, to meeting people - and bringing my daughter to Fat Freddie's afterwards, might try and fit in Charlie Byrnes, and Salthill prom. Wish I was going for more than one night. Here's the details :)
'The November Over The Edge 'Open Reading' featured readers are Niamh Boyce, Audrey Dinneen and Padraic McCormack. There will as usual be an open-mic after the featured readers.'
The photo is my view from my room at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, I was kindly granted a residency there by Kildare Arts Office. That week meant an awful lot to me, a good friend and relative died recently, and I spent the time writing poems for him. It gave me the space I really needed, and as usual at I met some amazing and kind people.
I'm off to Dublin today to read with some great writers, Janet Cameron and Gavin Corbett. We'll be in the Irish Writers Centre at 4pm. Everyone is welcome to come along. The event is part of the Dublin Book Festival.
Later tonight you can hear me live on radio, if you dare :) I'll be interviewed on Radio Active.ie by Anita White. Anita's an inspiration, and old friend of mine. She owns the magnificent online beauty resource Dolled Up.ie .We'll be on at 10pm, taking requests, gabbing and having some fun.