Imagine my surprise to be contacted by a member of the Tallaght Community Council to tell me that I am one of the shortlisted nominees, under Arts & Culture, for this year’s Tallaght Person of the Year!
I even received a certificate in the post – just to be sure I hadn’t imagined it all . . .
The 30th annual Tallaght Person of the Year awards takes place tonight, Friday, 29 November at the Maldron Hotel, Tallaght and among the list of nominees are non-other than Louise Phillips who, just days ago, won the The Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards for Crime Fiction Book of the Year with The Doll’s House.
There are eight categories and I was delighted to find, under the Business category, Noel Gavin, InTallaght Magazine and Emu Ink.
It promises to be an enjoyable and eventful night which I am looking forward to immensely.
I’ll keep you posted!
There’s plenty of events to keep all avid readers and aspiring writers busy over the next few weeks and plenty more to come. Check out a selection below.
Hope to see you there!
Trinity College Dublin and Glucksman Ireland House, New York University are holding a festival devoted to Irish crime fiction, featuring more than a dozen of the most exciting Irish crime novelists. This will be a memorable weekend, devoted to a key genre of contemporary Irish writing, so please make plans to join us.
Among the confirmed participants are Conor Brady, Declan Burke, Jane Casey, Paul Charles, Michael Connelly, John Connolly, Conor Fitzgerald, Alan Glynn, Declan Hughes, Arlene Hunt, Gene Kerrigan, Kevin McCarthy, Brian McGilloway, Eoin McNamee, Stuart Neville, Niamh O’Connor, Louise Phillips, and Michael Russell.
We’re particularly pleased to announce that our weekend will conclude with a major event: for the Irish launch of his newest novel, The Gods of Guilt (Orion Books, November 2013), Michael Connelly will be interviewed by John Connolly. After the interview, and questions from the audience, Michael will be signing books, which will be for sale on the evening. Tickets are required for this final event, and they are €6 (inc. fees) from eventbrite.com.
Date: Friday, 22 – Saturday, 23 November 2013
Venue: Trinity College Dublin
Admission: Free events (€6 for Closing Event)
From the time she was born, Emma Byrne was different from other children. Shy and reclusive, her world revolved around animals, so much so that by the time she was 15, Emma was a much sought after horse trainer.
So who would try to harm this gifted young woman? Who was shooting in Crilly Woods on that fateful August day?
Emma’s twin brother, Anthony, is determined to get to the bottom of what happened to his sister, and in the course of his investigations makes a terrible mistake, one that will change all their lives forever.
The Outsider: sometimes those who love us most hardly know us at all.
Date: Thursday, 7 November 2013
Venue: The Gutter Bookshop
Crime Pays: Writing Crime Fiction
presented by WritersWebTV
“A forensic examination of the essential elements of writing crime,” is what Vanessa O’Loughlin promises to deliver to crime fiction fans of everything from psychological thrillers to detective fiction.
But whatever your genre, the key secrets, tips and techniques unveiled by a panel of writers at the top of their game - Ken Bruen, Declan Hughes, Jane Casey and Niamh O’Connor - will furnish you with the tools to pace your plot and keep your reader hooked.
Questions will be answered:
- Should you plot and plan in detail, and know the ending before you start, or can you write crime organically?
- How many characters should there be and how do you reveal backstory without losing the forward movement of the plot?
- What is foreshadowing and why does it play such a vital part in this genre?
- Research is crucial, but how much should you include in your story?
And best of all, you can watch it live for FREE, from anywhere in the world – but only on Wednesday, 30 October, from 10.00am – 4.00pm.
All you need to do is enrol now on www.writerswebtv.com or, if you want to download the workshop and watch it later, you have the option to pay to keep the course.
Wherever you are, and whatever your lifestyle, you’ll be able to tune in and out throughout the day:
10:00 – 11.30 Ken Bruen
11.30 – 11.45 Break/Online Audience – a chance for viewers to interact via Twitter @WritersWebTV
11.45 – 01:00 Jane Casey
01:00 – 01:30 Break/Online Audience – a chance for viewers to interact via Twitter @WritersWebTV
01:30 – 02:30 Declan Hughes
02:30 – 02:45 Break/Online Audience – a chance for viewers to interact via Twitter @WritersWebTV
02:45 – 04:00 Niamh O’Connor
This one-day workshop will be streamed live from a multi-camera broadcast studio in Dublin. Bestselling authors interact with an in-studio audience of aspiring writers, who present their work for critique. Online viewers can communicate with those in the studio using Twitter, Facebook or email. They can ask a question, take part in a workshop exercise, comment online and benefit from on-screen feedback from the authors in-studio.
Led by experienced workshop facilitator, Vanessa O’Loughlin, founder of writing.ie, the panel will consider the key elements of fiction writing and furnish viewers with tips, advice and actionable insights to help them improve their writing and get it on the path to publication.
I’ll be there – as part of the studio audience – hope you’ll join me!
Awarded 1st Prize – SDCC European Week Against Racism Poetry Competition, 2012.
Oblivious, I shop in this busy city.
Warmly lit windows show their wares;
amidst the hustle and bustle of busy lives.
I watch you sit on ice cold concrete.
A young man, scrunched forward,
a woollen hat low on your head,
your shivering palm held upwards.
My heart reaches out to you.
Thin jumper pulled over knees.
Skinny, bare legs folded tight;
long feet flat on the ground.
Sockless, shoeless, homeless.
Donated to Focus Ireland https://www.facebook.com/focusirelandcharity
a non-profit organisation you may like to follow.
It’s about the people who help and it’s about helping people. And it’s about connecting the two.
Crime Scene Book Club Reviewers over on www.writing.ie
Who could possibly argue with Louise Phillips, author of Red Ribbons, when she compared us – Joe McCoubrey, Mick Halpin, Triona Walsh and little ‘auld me – as similar to the X Factor panel! Just as discerning – and possibly even more dangerous – all of this in our roles as part of the Crime Scene Book Reviewer Panel over at www.writing.ie . . .
As avid readers, I know this is a role we are all enjoying immensely.
You can find links to a number of my reviews below to whet your appetite:
The Doll’s House by Louise Phillips
Headstone by Ken Bruen
In The Darkness by Karin Fossum
The Chosen by Arlene Hunt
Bad Moon Rising by Frances de Plino
Crossbones Yard by Kate Rhodes
And don’t forget to check out what Joe, Mick and Triona are reading and reviewing.
Check out some highly recommended writing classes in Dublin from Irish writers:
Louise Phillips is bestselling crime author of the psychological crime thriller, Red Ribbons, shortlisted for Best Irish Crime Novel of the Year 2012. Her work has been published as part of many anthologies, including County Lines from New Island, and various literary journals. In 2009, she won the Jonathan Swift Award for her short story Last Kiss, and in 2011 she was a winner in the Irish Writers’ Centre Lonely Voice platform. In 2012, she was awarded an Arts Bursary for Literature from South Dublin County Council. Her second novel, The Doll’s House, another psychological crime thriller was published August 2013.
There are many elements to successful crime writing – tension, pace, memorable characters, effective dialogue, a plot with twists and turns, and an uttering gripping story. Over the course of eight weeks you will examine these elements, along with looking at the area of research, rhythm and shape within the narrative, and through weekly critique, develop your voice as a crime writer.
Date: Wednesday, 25 September 2013
Venue: The Irish Writers’ Centre
Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Valerie Sirr, Hennessy New Irish Writer award winner, began writing after graduating with her Diploma in Advanced Computer Programming at Trinity College, Dublin. She then graduated from University College, Dublin with a B.A. hons. Psychology degree, going on to study at London’s Institute of Psychiatry. She later returned to Trinity College, graduating with an M. Phil. in Creative Writing and also received a University College Dublin School of Film scholarship to study for her Certificate in Screenwriting.
This workshop is for those who want to discover and develop their creative writing skills. If you’re a beginner or if you’ve already done some writing, you’re welcome to come along.
Date: Monday, 30 September 2013
Venue: Crumlin College of Further Education
Time: 6.45pm – 8.15pm
Eileen Casey is a Hennessy Award winning writer and a recipient of a Katherine Kavanagh Poetry Fellowship.
In a relaxed, informal atmosphere, the nuts and bolts of writing various forms will be explored and learn how imaginative creative play is so necessary to the process.
Date: Thursday, 26 September 2013
Venue: Old Bawn Community School
Time: 7.30pm – 9.30pm
Lecturer: Valerie Sirr, is a Hennessy New Irish Writer award winner with a B.A. Hons Psychology, M.Phil Creative Writing. This workshop is for those who want to discover and develop their creative writing skills by exploring the imagination, overcoming fear, developing a writing habit and finding a voice. Trigger exercises and writing games will be used and assignments will be set. Constructive feedback will be given to those who bring work.
There will be two terms of ten weeks each and participants can sign up to both or to either the first or second part.
Date: Wednesday, 9 October 2013
Venue: The Peoples College, 31 Parnell Square
Time: 6.15pm – 7.45pm
A humorous love story about active retirement
Listen or download on www.podcasts.ie, July 2013
Published in Senior Times, April/May 2011
Awarded 1st Prize - Bealtaine Short Story SDCC Competition, 2010
The movement of a large, black, hairy spider caught Betty’s eye as she pulled a hairbrush through her auburn tinted hair. Looking at her watch she muttered under her breath as she made her way downstairs and into the kitchen. She returned to her bedroom with a glass in her hand, opened her window, grabbed a magazine from her locker then expertly placed the glass over the spider while manoeuvring it onto the magazine where she had laid it flat against the wall. Balancing all three she crossed to the open window and flicked the spider out onto the extended roof of her kitchen. He can make his own way back to the garden she thought, as she hurriedly locked the window and remembered to bring the glass down to the kitchen where she gave it an extra vigorous wash.
Moments later she locked the front porch and with her large handbag hoisted on her left shoulder she strode up the road.
“Hi Betty, are you off to school?” shouted her next door neighbour as she flicked her pigtails back from her face.
“Yes Amy, but hopefully I won’t get loads of homework,” chuckled Betty as she smiled at Amy’s mother Joan waiting at the door to welcome her six year old home.
“I’ll knock in for you on Monday for the Ladies Club,” said Joan
“Great, I’m looking forward to it this week. They’ve a landscape gardener coming in to give us all a few tips. Sure I’ll see you then for a chat,” said Betty calling back over her shoulder.
Entering the front door of St Jude’s Secondary School she arrived, breathless, at the classroom door just as everyone was going in. She headed for her usual computer terminal beside her friend Mary, took out her notebook and pen and changed her glasses.
“Well, we have a new member joining us today,” announced Sarah, their tutor, from the top of the class.
Betty looked up and felt a slow heat rising to her face as she slid further into her chair.
“This is Paddy and he’s hoping to learn a little more about computers so that he can keep in touch with his kids in New York and eh . . .”
“And Cavan,” smiled Paddy with a twinkle in his eyes.
As the laughter subsided Sarah pointed out the members of the Active Retirement Computer Group; John, Eoin, Jim, Angela, Mary and finally Betty.
“Paddy, I’ll put you sitting beside Betty today, Tom is at his daughters wedding so he won’t be here and Betty can give you a hand if you’re stuck – sure she’s nearly in the advanced class. We’ll have you up on Skye and Facebook before you know it!” she said as she pulled the chair out for him.
“Hi,” mumbled Betty barely looking up. Paddy sat down and turned toward her, then did a double-take.
“Not Betty the best ballroom dancer in Dublin – also known as Cinderella” he laughed.
Betty looked up as Paddy settled his long legs beneath the desk. He was even more handsome than she’d remembered with his snow white hair cut short and combed neatly to the side. But it was still those piercing blue eyes, so clear and bright, that made her heart miss a beat. At my age, I can’t afford to miss a beat, it’s only the medication I’m on that’s keeping it beating at all.
“I hope I’m not making you uncomfortable, if I am I’ll leave after today, you were here first and I wouldn’t like to . . .”
“No, it’s absolutely fine” she cut across him as she inhaled the fresh scent of Old Spice emanating from him.
“Okay class, let’s continue on from last week where we were attaching photos to your email,” said Sarah while Betty, who normally listened intently while jotting notes for later, thought back to the last time she’d seen Paddy.
It must have been close to two years ago, she thought, when her friend Mary had begged her to go to The Ierne Ballroom for the Valentine’s Day Dance. Betty, a widow for over twelve years by then, was used to being on her own but Mary was still coming to terms with it all and needed to get out and about. Reluctantly Betty agreed to go. Much as she loved the ballroom dancing she attended each Friday afternoon with some of her friends, she didn’t feel the same about going into dances in town where she didn’t really know anyone.
It was on that night that Paddy, who she’d noticed watching her earlier in the night, had asked her to dance. He reminded her of her husband Tommy the way he swirled her around the dance floor, her feet barely touched the ground all night. He told her that he was a retired Painter and Decorator – just like her Tommy had been – and he too was widowed, but only the year before when Lily’s weak heart had finally given in. They had spent most of the night dancing and laughing, enjoying each others company, but then fate had intervened.
Betty had taken a break and was sitting chatting with Mary. The night had been a great one – neither of them having laughed so much in ages. Mary recounted her adventure here last time when a guy called Jack had taken her up for every waltz, only to stand on her toes so often that she’d had to bathe her feet for a week to get rid of the blisters. Taking a sip of her vodka and red Betty, with tears of laughter streaming down her face had started to cough, Mary had patted her on the back and when she’d looked up Mary had started to choke with laughter – Betty’s beautiful white teeth were gone! Realising what had happened Betty hurriedly buried her head beneath the table in search of them. Finding the bottom set of dentures she pushed them into her mouth – who cares what’s on the floor, this is an emergency – but she couldn’t find the top set. In between bursts of laughter they’d searched everywhere to no avail.
“We have to go. NOW!” mumbled Betty, grabbing Mary’s arm as they grabbed their coats and bags. They headed out the door and down the steps just as the lights came on behind them.
Hailing a taxi they slumped in laughter into the back seat, tears streaming down their faces.
“Just gone midnight and we’re already on our way home,” said Mary.
“I couldn’t stay there, if anyone saw me I’d die,” mumbled Betty as Mary looked at her friend and tried to stop the laughter erupting again. “I knew I shouldn’t have worn those new teeth out until I was used to them.”
As the taxi turned onto their road and they both rummaged in their bags for their keys and purses Mary could hold the laughter no longer as she pulled out Betty’s top teeth where they’d landed in the open compartment of her bag! They’d paid the taxi driver and spent another hour in Betty’s kitchen with a cup of tea while they replayed their evening.
“Well they always say laughter is the best tonic,” said Mary touching her teacup to Betty’s, “better than a gin and tonic any day.”
Betty was drawn back to the present as Paddy stood up and bent across her desk.
“Let me get that for you, Lily used to hate spiders, not that they do any harm, mind you.”
Cupping the spider in his large hands he walked across the classroom and dropped the spider out through the open window. Sitting down again he swivelled his chair around towards Betty.
“You know, I went back to The Ierne a couple of times after that night hoping I might see you. I really enjoyed the dancing and the laugh, you miss that most I suppose,” he said wistfully. “Lily wasn’t much of a dancer but we’d go to meet up with everyone.”
“Well you can always come to the ballroom dancing on a Friday in the school hall. Jim and Angela and Mary all go too,” she smiled.
“You know Betty, I just might do that, anything to see that beautiful smile of yours again,” he grinned.
“Ah, that’d be the Colgate,” whispered Mary while Betty felt a gurgle of laughter, like the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, begin to erupt!
Awarded 3rd Prize – SCC City of Dublin VEC Poetry Competition, 2010.
Jostled from slumber,
Eyes look deep into shadows
Of an unfamiliar hotel room.
Check out the latest short story and poetry competition listings below, no excuses – get writing!
The Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Competition
Deadline: 15 December 2013
Written Word: Poems of 40 lines or less
Entry: €5 per poem. €20 per batch of five poems
Write 4 Autism
Deadline: 31 December 2013
Written Word: Short stories up to 1,500 words
Entry: €7.50 per story
Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize 2013
Deadline: 31 December 2013
Written Word: Poem
Entry: €9 per poem
Davy Byrnes Short Story Award 2014
Deadline: 3 February 2014
Written Word: Short stories up to 15,000 words
Entry: €10.00 per story
Deadline: Last day of each month
Written Word: Short stories up to 3,000 words on any subject or theme
Entry: 1 story €4. 2 stories €7. 3 stories €8
All of us live with hope in our hearts and each hope, at different stages in our life, can, I’m sure you’ll agree, be all-consuming and extremely personal. But not too many of our hopes and dreams can save lives. The New Big Book of Hope is the exception!
It was introduced to me, by my good friend Orla Coffey, who has a non-fiction piece included, entitled, Flashflight, describing her first encounter with a Malaysian man in a Thai prison.
Orla is currently the face of MS Ireland’s World MS Day campaign for 2013, which this year focus’s on young people with MS. Her photo is currently plastered across buses and billboards and it is hoped that it will show sufferers and their families that many people with MS go on to live full and happy lives. Orla, a qualified solicitor, is a walking statement of how true this is. Karma ensures that her many good deeds are rewarded, which means her friends also get to share her good fortune – an evening with Joseph O’Connor, author of Ghostlight, which she won in ‘A Novel Break’ competition with the ‘Dublin: One City, One Book’ festival – was, most definitely, a prize treasured by us all.
As winner of the Curry’s and PC World writing competition, she was famous on YouTube in a fake, electric wedding, to Batman – since realised in true life – and definitely worth checking out.
But back to The New Big Book of Hope – also worth checking out – in the literal sense!
Compiled by Vanessa O’Loughlin, from writing.ie and Hazel Larkin and with its astonishing range of bestselling authors, political figures, business people and media celebrities, The New Big Book of Hope eBook has something for everyone. Claudia Carroll, Don Conroy, Brian Crowley, Brian Keenan, Sinead Moriarty, Kate Kerrigan and over forty other unlikely bedfellows rub shoulders – the only common denominator being their considerable talent. And in this special eBook edition, four new writers – Alison Wells, David Fairclough, Fr. David Keating and Orla Coffey – have been selected for their contributions in making this book a truly unique collection.
This book will save lives.
To live without hope is the ultimate deprivation. The Hope Foundation reaches out to the street children of Kolkata, India, on a daily basis: rescuing sick and abandoned children; delivering food and clean water to the slums; providing crèches where destitute and slum-dwelling mothers can safely leave their children while they do what they can to earn money; running its health-care programme, including its new hospital; fighting child labour and child-trafficking; breaking the cycle of poverty through education in its many coaching centres.
This extraordinary collection celebrates The Hope Foundation and – hopefully – will play a significant role in publicizing and supporting its courageous work. A potent blend of fiction, poetry, memoir and non-fiction, the contributions explore the theme of ‘hope’ and its vital presence in all our lives.
The New Big Book of Hope is now available to purchase in digital form online at Amazon and all digital outlets.
Eveyone involved in the project would greatly appreciate your support – even clicking the LIKE button on the Amazon page will make a difference to the collections sales and the work The Hope Foundation can do.
I was delighted to be nominated by Michael J Whelan for the Reality Blog Award!
What a nice surprise and a much-needed boost for my writing ego – something, I’m sure most writers will agree, that is essential to keep us going.
And now to delve into the unknown and come up with answers to the following questions:
Q: If you could change one thing in your life what would it be?
That’s easy – I’d love to have my debut novel published and sitting on the bookshelves of all good bookstores – or better still in the arms of a welcoming reader.
Q: If you could repeat any age which would it be?
Every age brings different joys but I have to admit that I’m glad I was around for the music of the ’80′s – who could beat such great music; David Bowie, Gary Numan, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, The Smiths, U2 – the list goes on and on . . .
Q: What really scares you?
Nothing scares me more than a really great horror book or movie. Reading or watching one can keep me awake for hours – but can also be inspiration for a poem or a short story about fear. The Others was one of my favourite horror movies and The Secret of Crickley Hall by James Herbert had me terrified while reading it, even in the middle of the afternoon – tap, tap, tap . . .
Q: If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be?
Now that’s a hard question – but maybe for a day I could live in the 1800′s as Emily Dickinson – I love her dark poetry and her fascination with death.
Thanks again to Michael who nominated me for the award. You can find some of his award-winning poems and stories at www.michaeljwhelan.wordpress.com
Finally, I would like to nominate my fellow writers/bloggers for this award and I hope they will take up the gauntlet. Their blogs are inspiring, so enjoy your visit: