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

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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.

Staccato

Staccato

Delighted to be on the Staccato line-up along with
Louise Phillips, Carolann Copland, Michael J Whelan, Noel Duffy, Doreen Duffy, Eamon McGuinness and Keith Burke.

Then it’s over to YOU for the open mic!

STACCATO is Dublin’s latest Spoken Word event. The idea is to showcase both established and emerging talent in prose and poetry.

FREE admission to Toner’s, Baggot Street from 7.30pm tonight, Wednesday, 30 December 2015.

Look forward to catching up with you all.

Interview: Graham Masterton – Blood Sisters

According to Peter James, Graham Masterton is “one of the most original and Blood Sisters - Graham Mastertonfrightening storytellers of our time.” And who could disagree? Masterton was a bestselling horror writer who has now turned his talent to crimewriting. His experience of life in Cork, where he lived for five years, inspired the Kate Maguire series.

Masterton has written more than a hundred novels, across multiple genres, including horror, thrillers, historical sagas, sex manuals and crime fiction. Awards include a Special Edgar by Mystery Writers of America and the prestigious Prix Julia Verlanger in France.

I had heard that Masterton took less than nine months to write his 750 page second novel but I was amazed to find that his first novel, The Manitou, was written in a week! “I generally write quite fast because I was trained as a newspaper reporter from the age of 17 and then went on to become a magazine editor, so I am quite disciplined when it comes to writing and I have never had so-called “writers’ block”. I also imagine “writers’ block” to be some run-down apartment building where sad uninspired would-be writers sit in front of paraffin heaters and wrack their brains trying to think of something to put on paper.” Speaking of his second novel, Rich, he tells me that the reason it took much longer was “because it is a very lengthy historical saga and needed considerable research. By the time I wrote that, however,” he goes on to explain, “The Manitou had sold heaps of copies and movie rights had been sold, so I had the luxury of taking more time to write it.”

It is fascinating to hear this master storyteller explain how he writes and he offers plenty of advice to writers currently struggling through plot lines. “Some days I will write only a couple of pages, other days anything up to ten. It depends on the scene involved and the amount of research necessary. Sometimes it’s worth taking it slowly because it gives your brain time to work out a complicated plot and to ask yourself if your characters would really do what you had originally planned. The last crime novel; about Detective Superintendent Katie Maguire that I have just finished – Buried – took about eight months. I had to do a lot of research into cigarette smuggling in the Republic, as well as Irish history and Garda politics. I love it, though, no matter how much or how little I complete in a day. All I will ever say is, real writers write something almost every day, if they can. They simply can’t help it!”

You can catch the full interview, which includes plenty of tips for writers, over on writing.ie by clicking here.

About Blood Sisters

DS Katie Maguire hunts a serial killer who is targeting nuns, in this gruesome new thriller set in Cork.

In a nursing home on the outskirts of Cork, an elderly nun lies dead. She has been suffocated. It looks like a mercy-killing – until another sister from the same convent is found viciously murdered, floating in the Glashaboy river.

The nuns were good women, doing God’s work. Why would anyone want to kill them? But then a child’s skull is unearthed in the garden of the nuns’ convent and DS Katie Maguire discovers a fifty year old secret that just might lead her to the killer … if the killer doesn’t find her first.

Launch: Circle & Square

As promised – details of the official launch of Circle & Square!Circle and Square Invitation

CIRCLE & SQUARE
An anthology of prose, poetry and fiction, inspired by ‘shopping centre’ as a place brim full with dramatic possibility. It includes work from a number of guest writers, including (in alphabetical order):

Dermot Bolger, Martin Dyar, Mia Gallagher, Mary Guckian, Ferdia McAnna, Paula Meehan, Geraldine Mills, Louise Phillips and Kevin Power.

As well as a number of Platform One writers, many of who have won or been shortlisted for writing awards including: the Hennessy Literary Award, the Listowel Writers’ Week Short Fiction Award, the Cecil Day Lewis Award, the Jonathan Swift Short Story Award, the James Plunkett Short Story Award, the RTE/Penguin Short Story Competition, the Patrick Kavanagh International Poetry Award and many more …

Trish Best, Annette Bryan, Joan Power, Niamh Byrne, Eileen CaseySusan CondonDoreen DuffyGavan Duffy, Brigid Flynn, Marie Gahan, Sue Hassett, James Hyde, Vivienne Kearns, Brian Kirk, Aine Lyons, Mae Newman, Trish NugentTony Shields and Michael J Whelan. 

 

“To open Circle and Square is like entering the sort of fascinating cafe which every shopping centre should ideally possess: a cornucopia of engaging voices and fascinating stories that any reader would happily eavesdrop on. Eileen Casey has deftly knitted together a compelling ensemble of poets and prCircle and Squareose writers whose stories complement each other, as they ripple outwards in increasingly imaginative circles to explore the multitudinous facets of everyday living. This is an anthology where a shopping expedition or a Luas journey can also bring you on a succession of intriguing and inventive voyages into the past and future. Prepare to be entertained.”
– Dermot Bolger

 

Looking forward to catching up with you for what promises to be a wonderful launch which will include poetry and prose readings from a number of writers included in the Circle & Square anthology!

So please spread the word …

Anthology: Circle & Square

CIRCLE & SQUARE is an anthology of prose, poetry and fiction, inspired by ‘shopping centre’ as a place brim full with dramatic possibility.Circle and Square

It includes work from a number of guest writers, including (in alphabetical order):

Dermot Bolger, Martin Dyar, Mia Gallagher, Mary Guckian, Ferdia McAnna, Paula Meehan, Geraldine Mills, Louise Phillips and Kevin Power.

As well as a number of Platform One writers, many of who have won or been shortlisted for writing awards including:
the Hennessy Literary Award, the Listowel Writers’ Week Short Fiction Award, the Cecil Day Lewis Award, the Jonathan Swift Short Story Award, the James Plunkett Short Story Award, the RTE/Penguin Short Story Competition, the Patrick Kavanagh International Poetry Award and many more …

Trish Best, Annette Bryan, Joan Power, Niamh Byrne, Eileen CaseySusan CondonDoreen DuffyGavan Duffy, Brigid Flynn, Marie Gahan, Sue Hassett, James Hyde, Vivienne Kearns, Brian Kirk, Aine Lyons, Mae Newman, Trish NugentTony Shields and Michael J Whelan. 

“To open Circle and Square is like entering the sort of fascinating cafe which every shopping centre should ideally possess: a cornucopia of engaging voices and fascinating stories that any reader would happily eavesdrop on. Eileen Casey has deftly knitted together a compelling ensemble of poets and prose writers whose stories complement each other, as they ripple outwards in increasingly imaginative circles to explore the multiudinous facets of everday living. This is an anthology where a shopping expedition or a Luas journey can also bring you on a succession of intriguing and inventive voyages into the past and future. Prepare to be entertained.”
– Dermot Bolger

There will be a sneak preview of Circle & Square at the RED LINE FESTIVAL
on Tuesday the 13th October, 2015
at RUA RED Arts Centre
from 7.00 pm – 8.30 pm.

Guest writers Joan Power and Kevin Power (Bad Day in Blackrock) along with Eileen Casey will be in company with representatives from local trader organisations. The evening will feature the lyrics of WB Yeats put to music by Tony Bardon together with brief readings from Circle & Square (Fiery Arrow Press).

Admission is FREE, but booking is required via (01) 451 5860 or by email, boxoffice@ruared.ie.

The official launch of Circle & Square is due to take place in November – details to follow soon!

Ian Rankin In Conversation with Declan Hughes

Ian Rankin is one of the world’s greatest crime writers, creator of the hugely popular Inspector Rebus novels, as well as a string of standalone thrillers, and we are delighted to welcome him for a first visit to Pavilion Theatre.

Presented by dlr Library Voices Series
on Thursday 26 November, 2015 – 20:00 at Pavilion Theatre

Ian Rankin In Conversation with Declan Hughes

Even Dogs in the Wild, the twentieth Rebus novel, brings back Ian Rankin’s greatest characters in a story exploring the darkest corners of our instincts and desires.

When DI Siobhan Clarke investigates the death of a senior lawyer, she discovers a link to a local gangster, and enlists the help of recently retired John Rebus. Meanwhile, an anonymous killer stalks the night streets, focussed on revenge. It’s a game of dog eat dog, in the city as in the wild.  Vintage Rankin – not be missed.

Full Booking Details available here

Interview: Stuart Neville – Those We Left Behind

Those_We_Left_Behind_Stuart_NevilleMy eyes scan the luxurious Westin Hotel’s, Atrium Lounge in Dublin and land on the bearded guy in the corner, dressed in black. If it wasn’t for the fact that we’d already met, Stuart Neville would have appeared more rock star than author and my eyes would have moved on. I find later, that if he hadn’t caught the writing bug, that’s who he may have become. Although then he may have swapped his pot of tea for something a little stronger – in keeping with that rock image!

When we get talking about his life before writing he agrees that “it seems to be quite a common thread among writers that they’ll have done a lot of odd jobs over the years before they finally end up as writers. I worked in a music shop and I worked for a long time trying to break into writing music for film. I studied music in college” he tells me, “and then I did score one low budget feature.” He grins, “sort of a musical director – for want of a better word – on a short film with Ardhal O’Hanlon.” It appears that Stuart Neville’s hands have a claim to fame all of their own. In a scene where O’Hanlon has to play the guitar, it’s actually Neville’s hands that appear on screen!

Many readers have authors they admire and would relish an opportunity to chat to them about their craft. And every writer has a number of writers they feel the same way about. I was delighted to find that we were both fans of Stephen King who Neville actually met up with last year. “It was a bit of a thrill to meet him actually,” he says.

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

 

About Those We Left Behind

Those We Left Behind is the new DCI Serena Flanagan novel from the King of Irish Noir:

When 12-year-old Ciaran Devine confessed to murdering his foster father it sent shock waves through the nation.

DCI Serena Flanagan, then an ambitious Detective Sergeant, took Ciaran’s confession after days spent earning his trust. He hasn’t forgotten the kindness she showed him – in fact, she hasn’t left his thoughts in the seven years he’s been locked away.

Probation officer Paula Cunningham, now tasked with helping Ciaran re-enter society, suspects there was more to this case than the police uncovered. Ciaran’s confession saved his brother Thomas from a far lengthier sentence, and Cunningham can see the unnatural hold Thomas still has over his vulnerable younger brother.

When she brings her fears to DCI Flanagan, fresh back at work after treatment for breast cancer, the years of lies begin to unravel, setting a deadly chain of events in motion.

Those We Left Behind is in bookshops now, or pick up your copy online here.

Fireworks and #Freedom

From The Front Row:
at The Launch of Freedom’s Child
One of 2015’s Hottest Books

At 6pm last Thursday, Dubray Books, in Dublin’s cosmopolitan Grafton Street, became a world filled with crime. But not the usual kind – this was a room buzzing with goodwill and anticipation as published and yet unpublished crime writers, crime readers and friends and family of Jax Miller (Áine O’Domhnaill) came together to celebrate her Dublin launch of Freedom’s Child.jaxmiller-PhotoGrid

Stacks of her orange and black debut novel are quickly snapped up, like prized possessions, as staff replenish them while topping up glasses of wine and prosecco. The cover is a haunting affair showing a lone figure walking towards you with the tag line:

All She Wants Back Is Her Daughter

Two powerful quotes are emblazoned across:

Original, compelling and seriously recommended’
Lee Child
 

A terrific read from a powerful new voice
Karin Slaughter

There are shouts, hugs and cameras flashes as introductions are made between old friends and new, until suddenly an eerie silence encases the room and all eyes turn.

Jax Miller has arrived!

Read the full article here on writing.ie

 

The crowd hushes as Miller reads the prologue from Freedom’s Child.

“My name is Freedom Oliver and I killed my daughter …”

 

Dublin Writers’ Conference Packs A Punch!

Margaret MurphyDublin city is buzzing on Saturday, 27 June as I walk along O’Connell Street towards 19 Parnell Square and the beautiful Georgian building that is home to the Irish Writers Centre. It is nestled between the Dublin Writers Museum and the aptly named, Michelin star awarded, Chapter One, in the soon to be developed Parnell Cultural Quarter. I am attending the second day of Dublin’s first Writers Conference so I’m keen to see what it has to offer. Running from Friday, 26 June to Sunday, 28 June it promised sessions on writing craft and digital marketing for writers.

Along the way I hook up with a back-packed lady from Idaho who asks for directions. It’s already 9.55am yet we are both compelled to stop and take a couple of photos as we battle our way through the throngs of colourful and good-humoured parade participants who congregate for the noon start from the Garden of Remembrance to celebrate the outcome of the marriage referendum.

Once we reach our destination, she enters Jessica Morell’s session on The Sizzle: Tension & Suspense in Fiction while I attend Margaret Murphy’s, Dialogue in fiction: more than an exchange of words.Water bottles are at the ready and a little good-bantered humour is bandied about as some of the attendees reminisce about the previous night’s social evening. But once Murphy begins the session, the only noise to be heard is the scribbles of pens across notebooks as writers take notes to ensure they don’t forget any of the writing gems she imparts to her captive audience. With nine critically acclaimed psychological thrillers to her name and over thirty years teaching, she is perfectly positioned to deliver an interesting and informative workshop.

LOB writers conference

You can read the full report on writing.ie by clicking here where I share some tips gleaned from Laurence O’Bryan’s digital workshop on his writing journey covering Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more …

And snippets from the inspirational after dinner speaker at the Gresham Hotel, Paul O’Brien, introduced as:

The Only Self Published Author ever endorsed by Rolling Stone magazine, “…. a one of a kind literary offering . . .” – Kenny Herzog, RollingStone.com

Paul tells an enraptured audience about his writing career, sharing a journey which has led him from Wexford to LA to work on a TV show currently being developed from his Blood Red Turns Dollar Green novels set in the world of wrestling.

O’Brien is definitely a rising star to watch – all that hard work, dedication and self-belief are paying dividends – as news just in that WWE legend Jim Ross announces to the wresting world that Paul O’Brien is onboard to help him write his autobiography.

The Writers Conference may be in its infancy but judging by the applause and chatter at the end of the night it’s guaranteed to become an annual diary event to arm new and established writers with tips, tricks and inspiration for the year ahead.

 Dublin is the UNESCO City of Literature:

The city of Swift, Joyce, Beckett, Yeats, Wilde, Synge & Shaw
as well as the modern masters: Edna O’Brien, Roddy Doyle, Colum McCann and a dozen others.

Freedom’s Child

Freedom’s Child by Jax Miller

‘A terrific read from a powerful new voice.’
Karin Slaughter

‘Original, compelling and seriously recommended.’
Lee Child

A heart-stopping debut thriller about a woman named Freedom, who will stop at nothing to save the daughter she only knew for two minutes and seventeen seconds.

Call me what you will: a murderer, a cop killer, a fugitive, a drunk…

There’s a lot people don’t know about Freedom Oliver. They know she works at the local bar. They know she likes a drink or two.

What they don’t know is that Freedom is not her real name. That she has spent the last eighteen years living under Witness Protection, after being arrested for her husband’s murder. They don’t know that she put her two children up for adoption, a decision that haunts her every day.

Then Freedom’s daughter goes missing, and everything changes. Determined to find her, Freedom slips her handlers and heads to Kentucky where her kids were raised. No longer protected by the government, she is tracked by her husband’s sadistic family, who are thirsty for revenge. But as she gets closer to the truth, Freedom faces an even more dangerous threat.

She just doesn’t know it yet.

Check out the Killer Reads TEASER TRAILER here.

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