Trouble Is Our Business: An Evening with Ireland’s Finest Crime Writers

Some of Ireland’s best writers take to the stage: Declan Burke in conversation with Declan Hughes, Alan Glynn and Alex Barclay (Presented by Red Line Book Festival / New Island Books).

declan_burke_declan_hughes_alan_glynn_alex_barclay

An evening of discussion on Irish Crime Writing: Author, editor and journalist, Declan Burke, will be leading the conversation to unravel the ins and outs of the crime-writing process, the development of gripping plots and characters and the evolution of Irish crime writing.

Date:  Wednesday, 12 October 2016
Time:  
8pm
Venue:  
The Civic Theatre, Loose End
Admission:  €8/€6 concession

Perfect for crime fiction fans and aspiring authors – but it comes with a warning – as there will be a discussion of crime novels etc. and their content, the panel may be unsuitable for a young audience.

rlbf-banner-2016

I’ve my seat booked and ready to go – hope to see you there!

And to really get you in the mood, you might like to re-read a couple of my crime writing interviews for writing.ie :

Alex Barclay (November, 2014)
Alan Glynn (June, 2013)

Poem: Sacrificial Lamb

A poem inspired by William Butler Yeats’, Easter 1916, where a line which resonates was given a new lease of poetic life. *Full details below.

Published in Live Encounters, Reading the Lines, Easter 1916 Commemorative Edition, May 2016

Weary feet trudge onward. I unfold
my white handkerchief in a vain attempt
to quell unease. In my wake, bodies and decay.
I dab at gun-smoke streaming eyes, cover my nose.
Silent witness to the atrocities of war.

Children climb over rubbled buildings,
scavenging firewood to pile high
in the black baby pram. It squeals
in protest as they push it over debris
covered cobbled streets.

I’d heard of the death of a two year old.

“Caught in the crossfire,” I’d been told.
“A single shot fired, entered his pram,
penetrated his head. Yet his sibling,”
they said, “survived. Unharmed.”
I imagine I hear his cry.

Screams and bullets. Flames engulf buildings.
His mother, his sibling, how they must ache
for his sacrifice so Eire can be free,
a land he will never grow to see.

Now and in time to be,
wherever green is worn,
all changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

*“The idea behind Reading The Lines derives from William Butler Yeats’ Easter 1916. Poets  were invited to choose a line from this iconic work which resonated for them, either culturally, politically or historically. The chosen line was then given a new lease of poetic life, forming a transitional bridge from the now of 2016 to a century ago and the events which led up to or followed on from Ireland becoming a Republic.”
– Eileen Casey, Irish Poet and Writer

SUBMISSION OPPORTUNITIES

Submission opportunities, courtesy of Short Story Ireland:

COMPETITIONS 31 August, 2016: Books Ireland Short Story Competition 1st prize: €400, publication in Books Ireland & a course at the Irish Writers’ Centre Stories of up to 2,600 words Entr…

Source: SUBMISSION OPPORTUNITIES

Live Encounters, July 2016

I’m delighted to have two of my poems, Lavender Scented Memories and Homeless, published in the July edition of Live Encounters which is edited by Geraldine Mills.

“Mary Oliver puts it very well when she says ‘poems are not words but fires for the cold, ropes to let down to the lost.’ That is what Live Encounters is, for the reader and the writer; when thrown into the cold sea of uncertainty, when we are in too deep and our feet can’t feel the bottom, it is the hand stretched out that pulls us safely to the shore.”
– Geraldine Mills, award winning Poet and Writer.

Her fiction and poetry is taught in universities in Connecticut, U.S.A. Her first children’s novel Gold has just been released by Little Island.

Live Encounters Poetry July 2016

Click here and go to pages 59 and 60 for my poems or click on Live Encounters where you can read or download the full publication for free, which includes poetry from:

Geraldine Mills – Guest Editorial and Poems
Barbara Flaherty – Reading the Barren Land
Dr Greta Sykes – Shipping News
Eileen Casey – After Midsummer’s Day
Jean James – Nothing is Fixed
Lynda Tavakoli – Conflict
Mary Melvin Geoghegan – As Moon and Mother Collide
Rachel Blum – Six Poems
Randhir Khare – Walking on Water
Shahbano Aliani – The Beloved Calls
Susan Condon – Selected Poems
Terry McDonagh – Lady Cassie Peregrina

 

Would He Dare?

I’m delighted to have my flash fiction piece, Would He Dare?, published today in Arizona on The Flash Fiction Press:

elevator

Walking towards the office, he blew into his hands, sniffing to ensure the alcohol fumes weren’t too strong. It probably wouldn’t do in his first month, he thought, even if it was a bank holiday and he was one of the few skeleton staff expected to work. Just as he noticed his blood encrusted index finger, a hand grabbed onto his arm.

“Jack, isn’t it?”

 

If you’d care to read on, please click here to reach The Flash Fiction Press.

 

Review of Michael J. Whelan’s PEACEKEEPER collection (Doire Press) by Kevin Higgins in the Galway Advertiser

A review of poet, Michael Whelan’s, Peacekeeper that will have anyone with a copy re-reading each poem and those of you without a copy scrambling for one. A man with such empathy that it jumps from the pages, grabs your attention and doesn’t release its grip until you’ve absorbed his powerful words.

Michael J. Whelan - Writer

Massive thank you to Kevin Higgins for this fantastic review and to Kernan Andrews and team at the Galway Advertiser, where it was published on Thursday, Jun 23, 2016

‘IT IS fashionable for reviewers, of the perpetually disappointed variety, to lodge Basil Fawlty style complaints against a poet’s first published collection.

The poet in question, we are typically told, has the occasional nice turn of phrase, but does not have anything to write about because s/he has little of experience of life, a subject on which the disappointed reviewer is unfortunately something of an expert.

There are over indulged newbie poets who, as of yet, amount to not much more than a stunning haircut and professionally taken publicity photo. Generally, though, such complaints tend to be grapes of the vinegary variety. It will be interesting to see what reaction Michael J Whelan’s debut book of poems, Peacekeeper, published by

View original post 390 more words

Easter 1916 – Commemorative Edition

Live EncountersLive Encounters Poetry – Reading The Lines Easter 1916 Commemorative Edition

“The idea behind Reading The Lines derives from William Butler Yeats’ Easter 1916. Poets  were invited to choose a line from this iconic work which resonated for them, either culturally, politically or historically. The chosen line was then given a new lease of poetic life, forming a transitional bridge from the now of 2016 to a century ago and the events which led up to or followed on from Ireland becoming a Republic.”
Eileen Casey, Irish Poet and Writer

Click here to connect to Live Encounters where you can read or download this beautiful publication for free!

Live Encounters Platform One Writers Easter

Editor of Live Encounters, Mark Ulyseas, has served time in advertising as copywriter and creative director selling people things they didn’t need, a ghost writer for some years, columnist of a newspaper, a freelance journalist and photographer. In 2009 he created Live Encounters Magazine, in Bali, Indonesia. It is a not for profit (adfree) free online magazine featuring leading academics, writers, poets, activists of all hues etc. from around the world. March 2016 saw the launch of its sister publication Live Encounters Poetry.

 

Short Story: Paradise Pink

A poignant short story.

Published in the Circle and Square anthology, December, 2015
(available for sale at Easons in The Square, Tallaght.)

It includes work from a number of writers, including Dermot Bolger, Martin Dyar, Mia Gallagher, Mary Guckian, Ferdia McAnna, Paula Meehan, Geraldine Mills, Louise Phillips, Kevin Power, Trish Best, Annette Bryan, Joan Power, Niamh Byrne, Eileen CaseyDoreen Duffy, Gavan Duffy, Brigid Flynn, Marie Gahan, Sue Hassett, James Hyde, Vivienne Kearns, Brian Kirk, Aine Lyons, Mae Newman, Trish Nugent, Tony Shields and Michael J Whelan.

 

‘Lipstick?’ asks Mary, squinting at the label. ‘Paradise pink.’

I purse my mouth and close my eyes, enjoying the familiar sensation of the lipstick as it glides over my dry lips.

‘There you go, LMIRRO002ily, all done,’ says Mary.

That woman is a Godsend. She holds the oval hand-mirror in front of my face. I pull it towards me and bend in closer, pressing my lips together. I still find it hard to believe the white-haired woman looking back is me and I most certainly don’t feel my eighty years. It’s merely a number – an indicator to tell the world how many wars and recessions I’ve lived through.

It’s amazing how a splash of colour across my lips always lifts my spirits, but this has been a particular favourite which I’ve worn for the last fifteen years. A visit to the local shopping centre, for my retirement party, had me returning home with a new look courtesy of the make-up counter in Boots. Maybe it’s time for another visit and an overhaul. Nothing too drastic, mind you, I’m not going back to the smoky eyes and red lips of Lauren Bacall at my age. Besides, I’ve always been more of an Audrey Hepburn – wide-eyed and innocent. Or so I’ve been told.

‘Thanks, Mary, you’ve done a great job, as usual.’

Mary moves behind me, fussing and teasing my hair. Her finger hovers over the hairspray tin. ‘Close your eyes.’

I know the drill. Hiding a smile, I cover my face with my hands, only peeking through when the hissing of the spray finally stops. There’s no fear of Mary leaving anything to chance with these tresses. She knows I love to waltz, but I fear she thinks I love to tango and has visions of me with a rose between my teeth as I strut up and down the room with my dance partner. She will ensure that my hair remains unyielding; like spun sugar sitting atop one of those exquisite deserts in the swanky New York restaurants we frequented all those years ago.

Rat-a-tat-tat. Mary checks her watch, raising her eyebrows, before crossing the room to open the door. ‘That’ll be John, I suppose,’ she murmurs.

There are whispered voices and moments later, a tall, grey-haired man appears in the doorway behind her. I watch as he removes his overcoat, shaking specks of rain onto the linoleum. He is dressed in dark trousers with shiny shoes. A crisp white shirt and paisley tie peep through the neck of his navy jumper.

‘They didn’t forecast that downpour, Lily,’ he says, his brown eyes meeting mine. He crosses the room and kisses me gently on the mouth. My heart hammers in my chest. I gasp and turn away, but not before I see a look of dismay cross his face. What does he expect? Just because he’s a handsome man, it doesn’t mean he can take such liberties; we’ve only just met!

‘Lily, it’s me, love. It’s John,’ he says, as if by telling me his name he thinks he can excuse his shocking behaviour.

He sits in the armchair opposite me and tries to lift my hand, but I pull it away. The sound of his melodic voice soothes me as I practice the two-step in my head, my toes tapping. Suddenly he stops talking and looks deep into my eyes.

‘You look well today, Lily,’ he says, ‘I’ve always loved that colour on you.’

I look down at my dress and smile. ‘It’s my favourite colour,’ I tell him. ‘Periwinkle blue; it matches my eyes, I’ve been told.’ I laugh and pat my hair. ‘I had to make an effort to look extra nice today for my visitors. Did I tell you my son, his wife and their young daughter will visit later. I haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting my granddaughter. Her name is Mia; my very first grandchild. They’re flying in from . . .’ I look towards Mary, ‘flying from . . .’ I can feel myself getting agitated. I click my fingers, hoping that the words will magically appear. They don’t. ‘You know the place I’m talking about, it sounds like Koala bears.’

Mary hesitates. Usually as sharp as a new pin, it appears she has forgotten too. She looks towards the man beside me. They think I don’t notice his barely imperceptible nod before she answers. As if he is giving her permission to speak.

‘Do you mean Kuala Lumpur?’

‘That’s it,’ I say. “When Sean left America he toured the world before settling there.’ I shift in my chair and turn to look at the man beside me. ‘I don’t mean to be rude, but you should probably leave soon.’ I give him my sweetest smile to take the sting from my words, ‘I’m sure you understand.’

I’m surprised to see his eyes are moist. And strange how I hadn’t noticed earlier what a beautiful shade of hazelnut brown they are; the same shade as Sean’s.

Mary turns off the radio and I glare at her. ‘What are you doing?’ I snap. ‘I always listen to the midday news.’ I didn’t mean to snap. My voice becomes softer, ‘it’s good to know what’s going on in the world.’

‘I just thought that as John was here—‘

‘I’m sure John will understand,’ I say, glaring at him instead. ‘Besides, my visitors will be here soon and I need to get to Mannings Bakery before it closes to pick up a few cream cakes. I must remember to get Sean’s favourite. He loves those gingerbread men. Maybe I should get one for Mia too.’

‘Good idea,’ he says, ‘but I’d like to wait a while. Sit with you. Just for a little longer.’

I suppose he must be lonely. And he’s doing no harm. We were always brought up to be charitable to those in need. I nod. ‘But you’ll have to stop talking while I listen to the headlines. I always listen to—

 

There is still no news for the relatives of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 missing since Saturday. The plane, along with the 239 people on board, vanished off radar screens while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The search continues . . .

 

I can’t breathe. My heart is thundering in my chest, but I can’t breathe. I bend forward, my arms folded across my chest; rocking, rocking, rocking. There is a loud keening noise, like a banshee. It’s blocking out the voice of the newsreader and getting louder.

‘Lily.’

The banshee …

‘Lily!’

I realise…

‘Lily, please. You’ve got to stop!’

…is me.

‘Lily, it’s okay. It’ll be okay,’ the man says, as he kneels before me.

My eyes fall upon my handbag, sitting beside my chair leg. I pick it up and rummage through it, emerging victorious with my lace handkerchief and mobile phone. I dab my eyes, then begin to press the buttons on the phone but my hands are trembling. Soon my entire body begins to shake and I am powerless to stop it; I feel as if I’m losing control.

‘Let me, love,’ he says, presumptuous as ever, it seems. But I allow him to take the phone.

It springs to life. I know he has dialled Sean because the ring tone is longer than normal. I hold my breath. It rings once, twice, three times and then I hear Sean’s voice. I allow my breath to escape. Only it isn’t Sean. Not Sean in the here and now. It’s the Sean in the phone. The Sean that wants me to leave a message and he’ll get right back to me.

I prise the phone from his shaking hands.

‘Sean, it’s me. I just wanted to check that you were alright. I’m looking forward to your visit.’ The tears have started to run down my face and I choke back a sob. ‘I love you, son.’

The phone slips to the floor.

I bend my head and examine the wizened hands sitting in my lap, where they twist a handkerchief round and round.

I am aware of a man and woman. The man has his back to me, his forehead pressed to the window, while his shoulders move up and down. The woman turns the dials on the radio, finally landing on Frank Sinatra. Fly Me to the Moon, bursts into the room.

The man turns from the window and looks straight at me. His forehead furrows and his red-rimmed eyes glaze over as if deep in thought. Suddenly, it is as if his well-worn face deflates like a popped balloon. I look away. I cannot bear to see such sorrow and it would be insensitive of me to ask what has caused it.

‘Would you like me to fix your hair?’

I turns towards the owner of the soft, country lilt and nod. The pretty, young woman smiles and I relax as the soft bristles of the silver handled brush, glide through my hair. Picking up the matching hand-mirror, I watch the soft white tendrils lift and fall around the face of the old woman in its oval frame. I notice she’s wearing my favourite lipstick, Paradise Pink. I must remember to pick up another tube.

Heavy rain begins to fall, drumming against the window pane. The sky is slate grey but the lush green grass glistens outside. The benches, scattered among the myriad of rose bushes, sit empty and desolate.

It will be nice to have a visitor.

The ghost of a smile reflected on the woman’s lips tells me she agrees.

Poetry Launch

I’m delighted to announce that two award-winning members of writing group, Platform One, launch their debut poetry collections this week!

Details below for these free events:

Peacekeeper by Michael J Whelan

Date:  Wednesday, 13 April 2016
Time:  6.30pm
Venue:  County Library, Tallaght

And

In Praise of Small Things by Áine Lyons

Date:  Thursday, 14 April 2016
Time:  6.00pm
Venue:  County Library, Tallaght

 

INVITATION TO PEACEKEEPER COLLECTION – LAUNCH

Looking forward to getting my hands on a signed copy of Peacekeeper by Michael J Whelan at the launch on Wednesday, 13 April – will probably see many of you there!

Michael J. Whelan - Writer

Hi all, it’s getting very close now and this is the official invitation designed and sent out by the publishers Doire Press, so I would like to invite you to join me at the launch of my new collection PEACEKEEPER, if you are in the area, it would be really great if you could come along on the night.

You are more than welcome to bring some guests too.

Promises to be a great evening,

Michael

Invitation to  launch of PEACEKEEPER poetry collection by Michael J. Whelan Invitation to launch of PEACEKEEPER poetry collection by Michael J. Whelan

View original post

Flash Fiction: Don’t Look Back

A story in 100 words

Published on Friday Flash Fiction, March 2016

It was the shoes.

Black, scuffed, well-worn.

They reminded her of him.

Back to her college years: parties, cheap wine and music.

They loved their music. Second-hand albums that hopped and skipped on the turntable. Saturday night gigs. He nursed the microphone while she watched on, like every female there, transfixed.

She smiled, removing a leather glove, before delving into her handbag for a few coins.

“Thanks,” he muttered, looking up.

His dark eyes met her gaze and, for just an instant, there was a spark of recognition before he dropped his head.

She willed herself not to look back.


 

Flash Fiction: Alone Again

A short flash of terror …

Published in Flash Flood Journal, June 2014 

I turn my head skyward at the screech of a lone black bird. A crow, if I’m not mistaken, although from this distance it’s hard to tell. The summer evening holds a winter chill. The sky is dark and overcast, like my thoughts. I watch as wings flap and the bird circles round and round in the bleak sky emitting a baleful cry.

I tear my eyes away, resisting the urge to cover my ears.

I remove the gloves, overalls and shoe covers. Naked, as the day I was born, I stuff them into a black refuse sack and push it deep inside the empty plant pot buried at the back of the shed. Replacing the padlock, I take a final look down the garden, before entering the house and taking the first step into my new life without her . . .MEN048

Standing under the shower I relish the ice-cold water as the powerful jets lash my body, reminding me of my father’s belt as a boy. I scrub until my skin is red raw, the carbolic soap burning my nostrils and stinging my eyes while all I can hear is the drumming in my ears. Just like before.

When I can stand it no longer I towel dry and dress: a fresh white shirt and grey tie; black trousers with a sharp crease and freshly polished, laced, black shoes. Finally, I don my favourite blazer with the gleaming gold buttons. She always liked it and somehow it seems fitting to wear it tonight. Respectful, somehow.

Time has passed quickly. The sky is black. No stars in the sky tonight. Yet the full moon shines brightly. I wait until it clouds over before placing the suitcase gently into the boot of my Mercedes. I coax the dog into the back seat where she whines incessantly. I drive to the other side of the city and park beneath a broken streetlight.

New territory; the dog is excited. I wheel the suitcase halfway across the bridge, lever it up onto the barrier and drop it over. For a moment I freeze, thinking that it’s going to float, but it topples over and the black water consumes it. The walk is over. We return home and I head out to the shed. I need to be sure it wasn’t all a dream. I pull open the chest freezer and her blue lifeless eyes stare up at me, ice crystals already forming over the gaping wound on the side of her head.

I run my finger over the crease in my trousers. Maybe I can wait a week or two before replacing the iron; no point in raising suspicion.

Writing Competitions

Check out the latest short story and poetry competition listings below, no excuses – get writing!

Bogmans Cannon’s Shame The Divil
Deadline: Feb 15, 2016
Written Word: Flash fiction, flash memoir, anecdote, aphorism, mini-rant, performance text, short audio or video, graphic, poster, gif etc, theme of our first issue is ‘Dare’.
Entry:  Free

Fish Flash Fiction Prize (short short story)
Deadline: 28 February 2016
Written Word: Flash Fiction up to 300 words
Entry:  €14 for 1st entry, €8 for subsequent entries

The Bryan MacMahon Short Story Competition
Deadline: 3rd March 2016
Written Word: Maximum word count is 3,000 words
Entry:  €10 + (€3 booking fee if submitting online)

Molly Keane Creative Writing Award 2016
Deadline: 12 noon on 11th March 2016
Written Word: Maximum word count is 2,000 words
Entry:  Free

The Fish Poetry Prize
D
eadline: 31 March 2016
Written Word: Poem restricted to 300 words
Entry:  €14 for 1st entry, €8 for subsequent entries

Interview: Holly Seddon – Try Not To Breathe

Try Not To Breathe - Holly Seddon

Holly Seddon is a freelance journalist whose work has been published on national newspaper websites, magazines and leading consumer websites. Try Not To Breathe is her debut novel and has already been hailed as ‘the most original psychological thriller of 2016.’ While according to Tess Gerritsen, one of my favourite authors, this novel has: ‘A razor-sharp, fast paced plot and wonderfully complex characters. Not since The Girl on the Train have I been so captivated by a work of suspense.’

Naturally, my expectations were high and I was delighted to find that Try Not To Breathe delivered:

Alex is sinking. Slowly but surely, she’s cut herself off from everything but her one true love – drink. Until she’s forced to write a piece about a coma ward, where she meets Amy.

Amy is lost. When she was fifteen, she was attacked and left for dead in a park. Her attacker was never found. Since then, she has drifted in a lonely, timeless place. She’s as good as dead, but not even her doctors are sure how much she understands.

Alex and Amy grew up in the same suburbs, played the same music, flirted with the same boys. And as Alex begins to investigate the attack, she opens the door to the same danger that has left Amy in a coma…

I’m interested to know where the idea for Try Not To Breathe emerged from. Seddon tells me that it was while cooking dinner, some years back, when a health programme on the radio caught her attention. They were “talking about persistent vegetative states. Listening to the stories from loved ones left behind – unable to grieve but still having lost the person they loved – really floored me. And that’s where the character of Amy came from. Amy was a vibrant, brave 15-year-old in 1995. In 2010, she’s in the same hospital ward she’s been in for 15 years. A hot mess of a journalist called Alex stumbles upon her and becomes obsessed with working out what happened all those years ago.”

You can catch the full interview over on writing.ie by clicking here.

 

Spelk – “Remember Me”

Spelk

I’m delighted to have my flash fiction piece, Remember Me, published on Spelk along with so many fabulous writers from across the globe:

“All these years later and she still attended mass. That was where she saw the young child with the teddy bear. It was hugged close, appearing like a child peeping over its mother’s shoulder and looking right at her.

Kate closed her eyes tight. The priest was talking about forgiveness. Ironic, she thought, tears pricking her eyelids. She blinked furiously, before running the side of her fore-fingers beneath her long lashes in a vain attempt to prevent her mascara running.

“Will I tell you a secret?”

The golden-haired bear with the black eyes stared.”

If you dare to read on, click here to reach http://www.spelkfiction.com.

 

Spelk is a new platform for the very best flash fiction on the web. We post three stories a week, from both new and established writers, from the UK and overseas.

WHY SPELK?

A spelk, in northeast England, is a splinter of wood – a tiny little sliver or shard embedded under the skin. Without getting too pretentious, we think there’s probably some kind of analogy there – we like flash fiction that’s short and sharp, that gets under your skin and leaves an impression. That, and we just happen to like the word.

%d bloggers like this: