Room little darker by June Caldwell

At last I get it! I have had so many books to finish, start and look at. I am in the middle of a house renovation and back in after moving out though there is a lot to do still! My books are in piles, boxes etc and everywhere so excuse the lack of book posts.

I have been reading Joy William’s Honoured Guest and purchased June Caldwell’s debut short story collection, Room little darker. I usually will commit to buying a book from a debut author by the first page, first few sentences and this collection had to be bought. I read the first story, Upcycle, in one go last night before bed. I really liked it. Dark, bizarre yet as if a friend were telling me the story.


Always good to get a truly unique take on Irish life. Book blurbs might say the writing is unique but June’s surely is!

I will review as soon as I have read further.

Room little darker by June Caldwell is published by New Island Press.

Danielle Mac Laughlin’s workshop at Listowel Writer’s Week 2017

I attended Danielle’s workshop on humour in the short story last weekend at the Listowel Writer’s Weekend. This was made possible through funding from the Carlow Arts Council and many thanks.

Danielle McLaughlin, Bairbre Leahy and Marie Gethins talk up the writing group movement
Danielle McLaughlin, Bairbre Leahy and Marie Gethins talk up the writing group movement

Danielle is a super writer and everytime I meet her, she is always very positive and encouraging. She deserves all of her success in writing.

After this weekend, I feel that I really got a deep insight into how a full-time writer thinks, reads and writes. She spoke to us about all of her current reading, excellent writer’s talks she had attended and gave us some super handouts with weblinks, book lists and short stories to read.

A month before the course, we received an email directing us to read 5 stories. Danielle has selected these with the theme of humour in writing in mind. I loved them all for different reasons and was introduced to a short story writer called ZZ Packer. Check out her story, Drinking coffee elsewhere for a zippy, comic but terribly sad at the end short story.

The course was made up of 15 participants, all who were hugely interested in writing and reading(Honestly, I have attended courses where the participants said they had don’t really read fiction) or a course for intermediate where the partcipants have never written a word! We had some brilliant discussions and debates about the 5 stories all faciliatated really well by Danielle. She was never intrusive and encouraged us to chat and rave about my great love, the short story. We all came to the agreement(Phew) that Kevin Barry is a genius of a man and should be banned due his excellence. ūüėČ

We got 2 writing prompts which went really well and lots of ideas and energy for future reading and writing. The days were well structured with reading, discussion, writing and listening to Danielle answer questions all balanced nicely.

I met with a friend for lunch in the lovely Listowel Arms Hotel and had a little shop browse and a couple of walks on Ballybunion beach.

Thanks to the Arts Council again. Now to work!

Honoured Guest by Joy Williams and her endings

I am enjoying Honoured Guest by Joy Williams. The characters are genuinely hilarious and odd. The situations are even odder though Joy writes about surreal events, I absolutely believed that these things could happen. In “Congress” we have a story of an unhappy couple, Jack and Miriam. Jack is not a very nice person. He is smug. Dislike. Miriam is weak, walked all over, refuses to speak up and puts up with a lot. Jack moves his student lover boy in and Miriam is still passive though shows rebellion¬†by striking up a relationship with a lamp made from four deer’s feet.


Surreal but understandable?

I am re-reading “Congress” especially the last paragraph. Simon, my husband is being forced to listen to the last paragraph of it too! We have puzzled over the last two lines and wonder what she means. I am slowly understanding. Should a short story take this long?



Off to Listowel with thanks to Carlow County Council Arts funding

I received word today that an application I sent through to Carlow County Council for Arts Service funding this year was successful. I had applied to attend the Listowel Writers Festival in June and taking a place in Danielle Mc Laughlin’s short fiction workshop, which runs for 2 days.


I greatly admire Danielle, her writing and her helpfulness as a writer to other little writers like me. I have a sneaking feeling that she will be as good of a teacher as she is a writer.



Christmas books for you to buy: 2016

I have read some brilliant books this year and it is impossible to choose but I must so here we go.


If you would like to buy a book for someone you love or even for yourself, then consider these…Because, apparently book sales are up this year which is exciting and amazing for booksellers, publishers, writers and readers! Woooo!

Buy the lovely Springs of Affection by Maeve Brennan and published by Stinging Fly. It is a beautiful book with some very cool photos of Maeve on the front and back. But, do not be swayed by mere human beauty for it is the writing that is the best! The collection is made up of some memoir/short stories to begin with and then gets fully into the heads of two different Dublin families. It always amazes me when writers can get right under the skin of what it means to be a mother or father when they are not. Maeve writes so well about the complexities of being alive and being in a marriage made of hatred. Each of the stories build on each other and zip in and out of the past and into the future. I really enjoyed it. Maeve passed away sadly in 1993 and was not well-known at all but is making a deserved comeback. Put her at the top of your shopping list. Stinging Fly will ship if you go to this address


Also, her novella¬†The visitor is a strong read and you will get it on amazon. I bought mine second-hand from Kenny’s Bookshop or It is the perfect book as it is small and compact enough to bring with you and show off and swoon over. It is a short story/novella(Make up your mind, Rozz) that shows us a little girl who is very afraid of her evil Grandmother who wants her out of her family home. Be scared. Scared.

The Pier falls by Mark Haddon rocks. I loved his story, the gun when it was shortlisted for the Times Short story award and it lost out by basically having the award stolen. Well, the award wasn’t stolen as in a real theft but it was in my head. I read all 5 shortlisted stories and therefore I declare the award was stolen from Mr. Hadden. T

The Pier falls¬†is one of the best modern collections I have read in a long while. Each story is brilliant, different, heartbreaking and entirely suited for those who may not be used to reading the short story thing. Get it. The cover is all stripey and will be a worthy present for anyone who likes coloured stripey books and an excellent reading experience. You will buy it anywhere but I like it if you buy it from an Irish independent bookshop like Kenny’s in Galway at¬† and Kenny’s will ship it free!


Other excellent¬†Irish short story collections this year that I have read and can stand over are William Wall’s¬†Hearing Voices, Seeing things published by Doire Press and free P and P from those lovely publishers in Galway.

I really, really liked Jan Carson’s¬†Children’s children published by Liberties Press with a gorgeous, gorgeous cover. Yes, I love my covers and I think every reader does too. It looks all wintery and stuff so you really shouldn’t be hesitating on this one.



If you want something really, really special, go for any of Carver’s short story collections. The book depository and amazon stock Raymond Carver but not sure if you will get before Christmas. Dubray Books who have real-life shops and online stock some of his collections. I would recommend¬†What we talk about when we talk about love.¬†¬†If you haven’t read this, I am jealous and excited for you!


Happy shopping, hope you get something you love!




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