How long does a story take to write?

Last night, a story I had entered into the Over the Edge New Irish Writer of the Year award received a highly commendation. Of course, I am happy and I thought it would be interesting to see how long it took me to write it and what was involved as this story was quite the mover and shaker.



It started out with the title “Can’t rewind” and actually was born with that title in January 2015 after a Christmas holiday to my aunty’s house and an object I saw in it inspired me to create a new world with the object( a CCTV camera) in it.

That story is now called “Pokey out wire”, the main characters kept their names but changed their type. The setting stayed the same but the events totally changed. The ending totally changed whereas the start was more or less the same. A few months ago on advice from my lovely fiction writing group, I changed the narrator from third to first person. Simon, my husband helped me with the title. He is a god of making titles. If you need a title, ask him!

This story in various formats was rejected 6 times over the 2 and a half years.

But, now I think it is done. On to the next one, where to start? Somewhere interesting or someone horrid is always there to inspire me! It is all about finding the time now.

Congrats again to Chris and the two runner-ups.


Over the Edge New Irish Writer 2016 is Chris Connolly and my story is highly commended!

Last night the Over the Edge New Irish Writer 2016 fiction award winner was announced and sadly it was not me but I really didn’t expect it when I saw that Chris Connolly had been shortlisted as he seems to have won every award going in the last year!


He won the RTE Francis McManus award this year too with a deeply affecting short story called The Speed of Light and How It Cannot Help Us. It is beautifully read here on the RTE Francis McManus award page. Have a listen, it will grab you and it finishes it a very chilling way that I still think about.

Doire Press are reading Chris’ stories as part of the prize and I am sure Chris’ collection will be published by a company very soon!

I will be posting a second post shortly about my own entry and the work, hours and tears and re-edits it has taken to get one of my stories to this stage! Am tired thinking about it!



Over the Edge shortlist New Writer of the Year 2016

Gosh, I kind of find these posts odd and ego-ridden and cringey to read so here goes….

One of my stories has been shortlisted for the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year award 2016, got the news this morning via an excited husband holding a mobile screen in my face! It was a lovely way to be woken up and then a coffee and then a coffee and pretzel chocolate thing in Costa with my lovely M-boy.

overtheedgeshortlistI have been working on this story for over two years and the first draft of the story has morphed into an entirely different one. Even the title has changed! I have been writing for quite some time and only feel that this story and others I have written recently have started to show me as a person, writer etc and how I think other people might think about the world. I am proud of this story because of those things. It is me and what I like to read and it just makes me feel all delighted to see that someone else might think it is okay too.

I would love to be at the fiction slam in Galway in October but we are booked to go away to Munich and Salzburg to see my most loved cousin, Trina and her lovely, Australian husband.

Life is good. Back to the work.

Was this odd, ego-ridden and cringey? Comments below, please. Send good thoughts. x


Vote for your favourite short story-Bord Gais Book Awards 2013 and Bord Gais released their shortlist for the best short story in the annual Bord Gais Book Awards 2013. I have read three of them. Bait by Colin Barrett, A different country by Danielle Mc Laughlin and How I beat the devil by Paul Murray. Though, i love Colin’s story, my vote goes to Danielle’s story. I really got into it, loved her sense of place and the fear she portrayed in the setting and animals througout. If you get the chance, cast your vote here!bordgais


BBC Short Story Award 2012-free podcasts

The five shortlisted stories for the BBC National Short Story Award 2013 have been released. All five are women. All 5 are brilliant in their own way.


We have Lionel Shriver with “Prepositions”, a story that gives a very different take on the events of 9/11. Very cool, natural and quirky viewpoint. I really, really liked this.

Then we have “Barmouth” by Lisa Blower. This was a beautiful story written from the vantage point of a young girl going on holiday with her parents who are constantly fighting. The story opens up over years and the relationship between the mother and daughter is developed until the wonderfully touching ending. Well worth a listen. I think that this story particularly suits the audio mode as the lady who read this could be one of the characters and her voice didn’t grate on me!

The next one I have listened to is “Mrs Fox” by the lovely Sarah Hall. An odd and poetic tale of a husband and wife madly in love until she turns into something she shouldn’t be. The story just goes on a tad bit too long and I am a realist girl at heart so though I can admire Sarah and her writing and themes, my heart will go to a realistic story with human themes.

The next two I will listen to are by Lucy Wood and Lavinia Greenlaw. They are for my drives to work this morning. I love driving in the dark to work, being mesmerised by the beautifully narrators and a hot coffee in my new Bodum travel mug! It is a real treat, big up to the BBC!

You can download the first one in the next 7 days and the last one in 11 days but either way, do download them. Save them for  a time when you might want to be magic-ed away! You can also download onto your kindle as well.

A bonus at the end of each story is a mini interview with the author about the rationale and themes to their story. I loved Lionel shriver’s curt responses, a very dry sense of humour.

Mariella Frostrup is chairing the judging panel for the Award, one of the most prestigious for a single short story. The winning author, announced at a ceremony on 8 October, receives £15,000, the runner-up £3,000 and three further shortlisted authors £500 each.

Download them here at


WOW Awards Judges Announced-with Fiction Judge, the lovely Elizabeth Reapy.

Elizabeth ReapyWOW Writing on the Waves have appointed the judges for the 2013 WOW! Award.

Elizabeth Reapy is the judge for fiction while Knute Skinner is the judge for poetry.

Elizabeth (EM) Reapy is an Irish writer. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Queen’s University, Belfast, edits wordlegs .com and is a Pushcart Prize nominee. In 2012, she was Tyrone Guthrie Exchange Writer in Residence to Varuna, Australia and she performed at NYWF in Sydney. She is the director of Shore Writers’ Festival in Enniscrone. In May 2012, she had a no.1 iTunes Literature Podcast with her short story Getting Better. She compiled and edited 30 under 30: A Selection of Short Fiction by Thirty Young Irish Writers. In 2013, she was awarded an Arts Council Literature Bursary and was selected as the Irish representative for PEN International’s New Voices Award, where she made the long-list of 6 writers. She has recently read in Buenos Aires, New York, Listowel Writers’ Week and Belfast Book Festival.

Knute Skinner was born in St. Louis, Missouri, but now lives in Co. Clare, Ireland. His collection, Fifty Years: Poems 1957-2007, from Salmon, contained new work along with work taken from thirteen previous books. The Other Shoe won the 2004-2005 Pavement Saw Chapbook Award. A limited edition of his poems, translated into Italian by Roberto Nassi, was published by Damocle Edizioni, Chioggia, Italy, in 2011. A memoir, Help Me to a Getaway, was published by Salmon in March 2010. A new book of poems, Concerned Attentions, was published by Salmon in September 2013.

The WOW!Award has €2100 in prize money plus publication.

Stories up to 3000 words. Poems up to 100 lines. Closing date Thursday October 31st 2013
Full details can be found here:

Frank O’ Connor Short Story Shortlist is out and ready for the taking

Unfortunately, we have no Irish authors in the Frank O’ Connor Short Story Prize short list. Though we had 8 Irish ones in the longlist-Celeste AugeEmma Donoghue, Kitty Fitzgerald, Aideen Henry, Mike Mc Cormack, Alan Mc Gonagle, Micheal O Conghaile and Joyce Russell. So, pretty good really.

Across the water, we have Deborah Levy, Claire Vaye Watkins and David Constantine up against Joyce Carol Oates, Peter Stamm and Tomas Dobozy.

The award is worth €25,000, the world’s best award for a single short-story collection, and has been won by some of the biggest names in literature from Haruki Murakami to Nathan Englander and Edna O’Brien. This year judges chose a shortlist of six titles from 78 titles.

Choosing the final six, said judge and Irish author John Deane, was “no less than an adventure”.

“From an ebb-tide in the short-story form – particularly in Ireland and the UK over the last few decades – to this flood-tide proved a delight and a deep sense of optimism in me for the form,” said Deane. “Overall, among the original 78, there were very few titles that could be dismissed quickly, hence the wealth and excitement of the presentation at our discussion. I have been enlightened, at times even mesmerised, at the variety, the strength, the depth and the numbers of experimental books.”

Imagine how I feel, I’ve got the pleasure of getting down to reading and reviewing them all, before September. Homework was never like this in school! Before that, I’ve got a review of Susan Stair’s new novel The story of before and Joyce Russell’s Bloodlines. I also have many more books that I probably won’t get time to give a detailed review too like Edith Pearlman’s Binocular Vision, Collected stories of Lydia Davis and Ancient Lights. And yes, I know the last one is a year old but I like to take it slow in relationship building.

The winner will be announced in the first week of July, with the award to be presented in September at the culmination of the Cork International Short Story Festival. Again, my life clashes with things like this. 2 weddings lined up that weekend, no where near Cork… I will be there in spirit!

KBC Dalkey Book Festival Four Forty Story Competition 2013 now open



A very cute competition for children under 13 years of age. I wish I were a little one being given the chance to write flash! Here is the writing competition from the Dalkey Book Festival 2013.


We love reading. In fact, our appetite is so insatiable that we only stop to catch forty winks or grab the odd sandwich. Unfortunately, DBF Towers is running low on stories.

We urgently need some good stories, so we’re launching a terrific new short story competition in association with KBC. To celebrate 40 years of KBC in Ireland and 4 years of the Dalkey Book Festival, your story must be 440 words or less. If you are 13 or under (the best age for writers, we think) we desperately want you to enter. Please, please, enter as soon as you can; by next week we might be reduced to reading phone books and junk mail.

A prizewinner will be selected in each category (9 and under and 10-13yrs).
Each prizewinner will win book tokens to the value of €250, Dalkey Book Festival tickets, a festival lunch (with a chance to meet some of our children’s authors) and a two night family stay with dinner in the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, Killiney. Get writing!

Children’s Four Forty Story Competition – 2013

Delightful and free micro flash fiction( something short for you to read!)

The National Flash Fiction website was reintroduced to me last weekend at a writing course. Here is a link to the winners and shortlisted.

Some brilliant stuff there and some questionably different. My favourite is Slather by Clare Kirwan.

Check it out here.

It will take you 6.7 seconds or if you are slow, 7.4. I’ve timed, I’ve checked it. I do all the work in this relationship, you know.


Hennessy literary award 2013 results


John O’ Donnell wins Best Emerging Fiction for his strangely sweet and disturbing short story, Shelley. I remember reading this and being thoughtful about it afterwards. Dermott Healy, uber renowned poet and novelist, was inducted into the Hennessy Hall of fame. I wonder will the stories and poems from the last year will be compiled anywhere?