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Beginners Creative Writing

If you’ve always wanted to write but didn’t know where to start, or if you’re returning to writing after some time away then this on-line course is perfect for you!

Beginners Creative Writing with Doreen Duffy
Starts: Tuesday, 11 July 2017
Duration: Six weeks
Venue: On-Line
Cost: €130

This course will explore the wonderful world of creative writing. With steady encouragement and guidance you will complete manageable weekly assignments with one to one feedback from your tutor Doreen Duffy. This could be the start of your first short story, or the collection of short stories that will become your first book.

Click here for more information.

Limited to 10 participants, so early sign up recommended.

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

Writing Classes

What better way to get your writing year off to a great start than by joining one of the highly recommended writing classes about to start in Dublin.  Find a selection below to whet your appetite:

Creative Writing Workshop with Valerie Sirr

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, 15 January 2014
Venue: The Peoples College, 31 Parnell Square
Time: 6.15pm – 7.45pm
Cost: €70

Creative Writing with Valerie Sirr 

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, 20 January 2014
Venue: Crumlin College of Further Education
Time: 6.45pm – 8.15pm
Cost: €120

Crime Writing with Louise Phillips 

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, 5 February 2014
Venue: The Irish Writers’ Centre
Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Cost: €220/€200

Toastmasters for Writers

I am a word lover! I would have said I’m a book lover, but over the years how my world has changed.  I’ve grown from an avid reader of the physical book (still my favourite form, I have to add!) to loving my Sony eReader which allows me to read six books on holiday without paying the dreaded penalty of luggage charges, as I cram books into my suitcase.

But I then became a writer – if I thought I loved words as a reader – I love them even more as a writer.  Finding just the right word to portray the image I’m compelled to create brings back memories of my dad, cup of tea in hand each evening, as he sat with his daily crossword fix.

But how exactly does this all lead on to Toastmasters?

Toastmasters International

Well, I don’t know whether you agree – and would love you to let me know either way – but early in my writing career, I realised that how you deliver your writing to the wider audience is every bit as important as the way you write it.  Never having trouble reading in class as a child, I suddenly found myself becoming tongue-tied and emotional as I read aloud memoir pieces in my creative writing class.  My throat would dry up and my heart thunder in my ears. It may be a good thing to ‘feel the moment‘ in what you’ve created, but it dawned on me then, that as a writer you bare your very soul to the world. You feel that anyone listening to you read is judging you not only on your writing, but also on your delivery.

Although I’m still going to buy their books, I have occasionally come away from a book launch just a little disappointed if my favourite writer has mumbled their way through their reading. On the other hand, I have often listened to writers read so beautifully, that even though I might not have been a fan of their genre, I have purchased their book.

I considered a quick-fix and scoured the internet.  I found various sites on public speaking courses and even psychotherapy – which I considered enough to send off an enquiry email. A couple of friends mentioned Toastmasters (even though they didn’t know much about it)  and the name popped up favourably, again and again in forums – so I decided to give it a try. I rang the President of Clondalkin Toastmasters, who was friendly and encouraging and informed me that it was free to attend the first couple of meetings to see what I thought. I still hadn’t a clue what to expect that first night, but if I told you I’m in my second year and currently hold the title of Vice President Public Relations, I’m sure you’d figure out that I enjoyed it and found Toastmasters did exactly what it said on the tin!

‘Our Club is made up of people from all walks of life who come together to practise public speaking, evaluating and inpromtu speaking in a supportive, friendly environment.’

It is and it does. Toastmasters hold meetings all over the world. Their members are from all walks-of-life; young, old, rich, poor, confident and shy, but all with one goal – to become better public speakers. And believe me, it works. Every meeting is an enjoyable night as you partake or listen to speeches or tall tales; a poem or a joke, give your feed-back and enjoy the laughter and banter over a cuppa at the break. It is the most encouraging environment you could imagine where you learn from watching others and put these tips into practice in your own speeches. The ‘pause’ is one I have yet to master – it adds so much to a speech – I’ll keep practicing . . .

At any stage in our lives – be it weddings, funerals, meetings or book launches – the ability to stand up in front of a crowd and speak is one we should all strive to master.

Do you agree with me?

Or are you already a fellow Toastmasters who would care to share?


What A Privilege!

There could be only one answer – a resounding YES – when I was asked to chair Three Voices/Three Forms at the Loose End Studio, Civic Theatre last Wednesday.

As part of the Red Line Book Festival 2012, this was a platform to showcase three very diverse, but equally talented writers:

Each writer read extracts from their work – Colm from his poetry, Don’t Go There; Eileen from her short story collection, Snow Shoes and Louise from her crime bestseller, Red Ribbons, along with a tantalizing taster from The Dolls House.

After their Readings I had an opportunity to ask each writer a couple of questions about their writing before opening up to the floor where the fun really began.

You only had to look at the audience to see how much they enjoyed listening to these wonderful writers and from the photo’s it certainly appears as if Colm, Eileen and Louise enjoyed the night too!

My Journey to Narnia

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch ...

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I arrived in Narnia the evening that I joined my first writing class – never to return.  And what a journey!

I’ve always had to have my daily fix – reading.  As a child, I would be outdoors, playing with friends, but if I didn’t have a book waiting patiently by my bed, then I would feel a little out of sorts.  But the solution was easy – I just began another journey between the pages of a book.  Often, my parents would find me late into a school night, with my head buried beneath the covers with a torch, just finishing those elusive ‘last few pages’.

Although I’ve always written a little, it was when I joined my first Creative Writing Class that I felt as if I’d entered another world – my own, personal, Narnia.  Only this time, there was no wicked witch!  Instead, fellow writers I’ve met, at every stage of their career, have been nothing but a delight.  In Narnia-speak, pure Turkish Delight – but without the catch.  Every one of them has offered nuggets of advice, at the exact moment I needed them most, to push me forward.

And so, armed with all this knowledge, I talked about writing a novel, incessantly.  Then I finally began.  Taking on board, tips from Alex Barclay and John Connolly, I began again – this time changing the location from the streets of Dublin to those of New York.  It is October 2012 and I’ve finally done it – I’ve finished my debut novel!

Now, before we all get too excited – I do know it’s still only the first draft.  I know that I’ll probably have close to ten drafts before I’m entirely happy with it – so still a lot more work to be done.  BUT, at this moment in time, I am so happy to have 90,000 words which I have managed to spin into a story, printed and sitting on my kitchen table.

Maybe you’d care to follow my journey through Narnia as it continues or comment about your own writing journey.  I’d love to hear . . .

The Written Word

Little did I know, as I walked into Eileen Casey’s Creative Writing class in September 2008, the world it would open – the Narnia of my childhood resurrected . . .

From the age of seven I’ve always been an avid reader.  Then, the libraries of my home and my grandmother’s, from North and South of the Liffey, were scavenged to reap the finest rewards.  The little bookcase above my bed, filled to capacity with birthday and Christmas presents, mainly Enid Blyton, in those early days.  Now, a bookcase in the family room sits three-deep along with an eReader I swore I would never buy.

I love books too much, I thought, but, it appears, I love the written word, in any shape or form, even more! 

I’d be very interested in your feelings on the eReader versus the book – if you have the time to comment . . .

I would be lying if I did not admit to missing the look, the feel and the smell of a book with my eReader, but, on the other hand, I can read six books while on holidays without having to extract a couple of pairs of shoes from my luggage to squeeze them in!  I can pick up the classics for free and borrow from the local library without leaving my house – and without incurring a fine when I fail to bring books back on time – they just magically return to the virtual world of the library, ready-and-waiting for their next reader.

And if I thought I’d captured the written word in all of its entirety I was wrong!

Hearing the written word, read aloud, preferably by its writer, really brings the world their words create to life.

I had the pleasure of being one of the many writers involved with the Tallaght Library Readings, facilitated by Eileen Casey, which ran from Monday, 5 December to Monday 19 December.

With Readings of poetry and prose from so many diverse writers; David Mohan, Louise Phillips, Brian Kirk, Mary Guckian, Mervyn Ennis, Doreen Duffy, Michael Whelan, Kate Dempsey and Eileen Casey herself, it was always going to be a success.  The fact that The Echo is currently profiling each of these writers has made it even more special; you can find out more about each writer and read a little of their work here.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and hope you have an opportunity to take a break, in this madly busy season, to enjoy WORDS, in every shape and form . . .

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