I recently reviewed Rachel Trezise's fab new short story collection Cosmic Latte for RTÉ's Arena. I have now reviewed it for the most excellent The Short Review and you can read it here.

Writing.ie Short Story of the Year Award

Good news for the Irish short story with the announcement of a new category in the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards: the Writing.ie Short Story of the Year Award. (Maybe my emails to them last year paid off, though I got no reply?) It's a limited response to a much needed category but at least it's something.

This new category is open to short stories of up to 7000 words published between 1stNov 2012 and 31st October 2013 in any of the following contexts: a collection of short stories by a single author; an anthology of short stories; or an established journal or magazine, digital or print, that has been in existence for at least six months within the period of eligibility.

Stories must be original fiction, i.e. neither a reprint nor adaptation of a previously-published work, and all stories must have been or will be published in English or Irish during the qualifying period.  Stories published in Irish must be supplied with an English translation. The author must be Irish by birth, citizenship or long-term residence.

Stories should be submitted via the online form here by editors ONLY. Closing date for entries is 1st September 2013.

Stories may only be submitted by the editor of the publication in which the story appears, with full permission of the author, with a maximum of one story per edition or collection. Self published works, at this stage, are not admissable. An individual author may be entered more than once for the competition if their work appears in more than one publication. It is the editor’s decision which author will represent each of their publications. Submission of an entry is taken as acceptance of all the terms and conditions of entry which can be found here.


Tomorrow, Wednesday 26th June at 7pm, in the IWC, Dublin, sees the Dublin launch of Doire Press's latest anthology Galway Stories. There will be Galwegians who are now Dubs. Dubs who are now Galwegians. Longfordians who are from everywhere but live in Galway. There will even be Galwegian Californians. There will also be books, readings, wine and chat.


A Shrine for the Mother of Birds - Fidelma Massey
Happy International Flash Fiction Day! It's a day PACKED with short-short story goodness, so it's a matter of take your pick of what to do.

A good place to start is the NFFD website which has info on all the global events. Their 2013 anthology Scraps is now available on Kindle or to order in hard copy. Go here. I have a story in there called 'Treedaughter' inspired by the Fidelma Massey artwork above. Also, the 2012 anthology is free on Kindle today!


Today is the ONLY day you can submit to my guest-edited Flash Showcase in The Stinging Fly. You can sub your flash to stingingflyflash AT gmail.com. You have 24 hours to sub one flash of up to 500 words!! Send me your zingiest, most beautiful work. Full guidelines here.


Tonight I'll be reading at Big Smoke Writing Factory's FLASH BULBS event in Dublin - a flash fiction reading with lots of writers taking part. Arthur's Pub, Thomas Street, 6pm to 8pm.


Meanwhile over at the Flash Mob, the Top 25 list has been announced and the winners will be announced later today. Stay tuned! I really enjoyed the judging process for this with my fellow judges Marcus Speh, Leah McMenamin and Robert Vaughan. We were sent a Top 50 of the more than 100 entries. If it's any comfort to non-finalists, I had a read of many of the other stories and they would have made any list I was making. It's all personal!

Have a fabulous (I)NFFD and, if you can't make an event, there are plenty of online events to take part in. And if that doesn't suit, just write.

Screenwriting links, June 21


My review of Rachel Trezise's wonderful short story collection Cosmic Latte can be listened to now, and for the next 6 days, at RTE's Arena site here. 45 minutes in. (God, I say 'sort of' a lot in the course of the review!! What's that all about?!)


I'll be reading at Big Smoke Writing Factory's FLASH BULBS - a flash fiction event as part of (inter)National Flash Fiction Day 2013. They say:

Join us on Saturday June 22nd at Arthur's Pub, 6pm to 8pm, to celebrate writing that is short but not necessarily always sweet. This event is all about showcasing the best flash fiction writers Dublin has to offer.

Rich and sharp, precise and urgent - we believe flash fiction is an exciting and growing literary form. We want flash that is powerful and intimate, brief and highly charged. If you would like to read at FLASH BULBS please submit your work (published or unpublished) to us here -> http://www.bigsmokewritingfactory.com/Flash2013.php

Whether you're a total flash-enthusiast or you've never encountered flash fiction before in your life, this is an evening of creativity and inspiration not to be missed!

As always this event is FREE and all are welcome.
So come along and bring a friend, bring two if you've got them!
We look forward to seeing you all there

5 Awesome podcasts for screenwriters

It took me a long time to get on the podcast bandwagon. How am I supposed to have time for podcasts while I'm also watching every show, reading every screenplay and cultivating Michelle Obama arms? Eventually, I realized that a lot of cool people say a lot of cool things on podcasts, and like Rebel Wilson, you can do your learnin' while hiking up canyons.

If you decide to go deep into the world of podcasts, you'll probably want a podcast manager for your phone. I tried out a couple free ones and hated them, so I invested in BeyondPod and have found it to be super user-friendly and worth the money.

Here are 5 of the best podcasts for TV and film writers:

1. Scriptnotes with John August and Craig Mazin
I'm sure you all already know about this one, but just in case: pro writers John and Craig tackle everything from the writing process and getting notes to the broader world of studio film, independent film, representation and more. They're also planning a live episode in LA July 25 (tickets should go on sale July 1).

2. On Story by the Austin Film Festival 
The On Story Podcast is the companion to Austin Film Festival's television show, On Story. Get an uncensored inside look at the creative process of film making through the eyes of some of the entertainment industry's most prolific writers, directors and producers. The recent episode with Bridesmaids and The Heat director Paul Feig was one of my favorites!

3. Here's the Thing with Alec Baldwin
Alec usually interviews actors, but their points of view about storytelling (and the entertainment industry) are both interesting and useful to writers. Also, Alec is a fearless and intuitive interviewer who delves into what's behind the impressive work of his guests. His podcasts with Girls creator Lena Dunham and The Wire creator David Simon are absolute must-listens.

4. Nerdist Writers Panel with Ben Blacker
Do you like Justified? Homeland? Key & Peele? New Girl? Breaking Bad? Lost? Parks & Rec? Ben Blacker has interviewed the creative minds behind all these shows and more - and since he's a writer too, he asks exactly what you want to know. Episode 85 with The Goldbergs creator Adam F. Goldberg was one of my favorites.

5. Comedy Bang Bang with Scott Aukerman
If you're a comedy writer, don't miss Comedy Bang Bang, which features all sorts of unpredictable conversation, music, improv and games. Recent guests include Paul Scheer, Seth Rogen, Lennon Parham, Jessica St. Clair and Adam Scott.

24 Little Hours in Clonmel

This sounds great. Innovative:

Clonmel Junction Festival presents '24 Little Hours', A 24 hour participatory poetry and prose programme with Grace Wells, Mark Roper, Dave Lordan & Mia Gallagher.

Grace, Mark, Dave and Mia, four leading writers from Ireland's contemporary literary scene, will be in Clonmel for 24 hours. During their stay in the town, they will share their skills & experience with emerging writers and poetry enthusiasts, perform their work at set readings, and walk and explore the streets of Clonmel with workshop participants, giving insights into how a writer goes about their work, and develops their skills of observation and composition.

With workshop sessions taking place in locations throughout the town and over the 24 hours, the participants will see the urban landscape as it changes colour from busy shopping streets through the hubbub of Saturday night and into the quiet of Sunday morning.

On Sunday afternoon there will be an open-mic session at which the participants will have the opportunity to share some of the work they created during the twenty-four little hours.

It costs €35 to be part of 24 Little Hours and you can fill out an application form here.

24 Little Hours timetable:

Saturday July 6th
1.30pm : Gathering and Introductions
2.00- 4.00pm: Walking, Talking and Writing with Grace or Mark
4.30-5.30pm : Selected readings by Grace and Mark
5.30 onwards: Dinner at the Junction Festival Catering tent
7.30-8.30pm : Selected readings by Mia and Dave
9.00- 11.00pm: Walking,Talking and Writing  with Mia or Dave

Sunday July 7th

11.00am-1.00pm: Walking, Talking and Writing with Grace, Mark, Mia or Dave
2.30pm: “What a Difference a day makes” Open-mic with Grace, Mark, Mia, Dave and the programme participants.
Purchase tickets online here.


This Saturday - International Flash Fiction Day - is the day to sub your FLASH ONLY to my guest edited issue of The Stinging Fly, which appears spring 2014.

My, some of you are confused, judging by the emails I have been getting. It is quite straightforward. All month you can sub ordinary stories in the ordinary way i.e. by post.

This Saturday, the 22nd June, ONLY, you can sub your flash to stingingflyflash AT gmail.com. You have 24 hours to sub one flash of up to 500 words!!

Send me your zingiest, most beautiful work.

Full guidelines here.


The 2013 Blog Awards are now open for nominations. If you enjoy Women Rule Writer, maybe just maybe, you might throw the blog a nom at the IBA site here. I'd be very grateful :)


Nora Barnacle House, Bowling Green, Galway
Happy Bloomsday! It's a day I love. I'm sad that the Nora Barnacle House in Galway no longer opens on this day every year: time was when a great party with readings from Ulysses took place there each Bloomsday.

I contented myself with raising a toast to James Joyce at dinner and, of course, I had a fabulous night at the Irish Writers' Centre on Friday with readings and music from all the writers featured in A Telmetale Bloomnibus - an anthology that reimagines the book for the 21st century. It is available now on Kindle for stg £1.99.

Thanks to Clodagh Moynan and June Caldwell at the IWC for a great night based around an innovative idea.

Screenwriting links: Friday, June 14


Nuala, James and Alan - Image by Max O'Rover of Italish Magazine
Today, in celebration of Bloomsday (which is actually on Sunday, of course), Wales Arts Review publishes a collection of specially commissioned essays on the life and work of James Joyce. In their own words:

'Nuala Ní Chonchúir discusses Joyce's relationship with his mother, May Murray, and his wife, Nora, while also taking a look at the phenomenon of Bloomsday itself. Martina Evans precedes her major new poem, ‘Toasted Cheese’, with an examination of its principal influence: the lestrygonians episode of Ulysses. In ‘Ulysses: The Deep and Vivid Words of Joyce’, Chris Cornwell explores the exotic language of Ulysses and the connections and separations of personal and communal language. Lane Ashfeldt looks at Ulysses Seen, Rob Berry’s continuing graphic novelisation of Joyce’s masterwork. In ‘Epiphanies’, John Lavin examines the concept of the epiphany and how it is put to use in Joyce’s short fiction masterpiece, ‘The Dead.’'


Tonight, at the Irish Writers' Centre, I will read a specially commissioned short-short story called 'Penny, Leo and Married Bliss', which makes up part of the Telmetale Bloomnibus, (available on Kindle for stg £1.99) an anthology inspired by Ulysses. The Irish Writers’ Centre asked 18 writers to bring Ulysses into the 21st Century. As Joyce once took inspiration from the texts of Homer, the writers have taken the 18 episodes and transported them into modern Dublin.

A Telmetale Bloomnibus: 18 Tales from Modern Dublin
Irish Writers’ Centre, Parnell Square, Dublin 1
Friday, June 14th, 2013 at 7pm

Tix are €8 (€6 for IWC members). Booking on the event page. For those who cannot make it, publication of an e-book is also being planned.  

The Writers (in order of reading): Pat Boran, Colm Keegan, Jane Clarke, Niamh Boyce, June Caldwell, Steven Clifford, Christodoulos Makris, Jude Shields, Jack Harte, Máire T. Robinson, Emer Martin, Niamh Parkinson, Deirdre Sullivan, Graham Tugwell, Alan Jude Moore, Oran Ryan, Doodle Kennelly and Nuala Ní Chonchúir


Today, Max O'Rover of the Italish Magazine site interviews Alan Jude Moore and myself about taking part in the Bloomnibus event.
Happy Bloomsday!!


Mslexia's Women's Novel Competition is running again this year. It is open to unpublished women novelists writing in any genre for adults. Your MS must be least 50,000 words.

Deadline: 23rd September 2013
Prize: £5000

Three finalists will be offered free feedback by The Literary Consultancy and 12 shortlisted authors will be invited to meet literary agents and editors at a networking event in London.

Rules here.


Dave Lordan, as guest editor of Penduline, features, as you might guess, a lot of performance/spoken word poets.

He also put the following question to seven writers, including myself: Which Irish writer, alive or dead, do you think is most unjustly unread? Why should we read them now? Our answers - mine on the wonderful Síofra O'Donovan - are here in a piece called 'Ireland Unread'.

Dave's editorial interview is also worth a read. He says, 'It isn’t really a good time to be anything in Ireland except a crooked politician, banker or businessman or one of their arselickers. It’s the time of the wolf in Ireland. And this is true in the arts as well as everything else. You need to be very thick-skinned, very determined, perhaps even a little bit vicious, as well as very talented, to be able to stick at professional arts practice in Ireland now if you are coming from outside the establishment. '

On James Joyce: 
'Dubliners is the Ur-text of the last century of Irish melancholy naturalism, which is our default/dominant expressive mode in long and short fiction; Dubliners has been rewritten dozens and dozens of times and is being rewritten all over Ireland right now no doubt and often by people who have never read it. They don’t have to read it to have been influenced by it since its influence is so general.'

More about Joyce from me, come the weekend :)


I went to Natal in Brazil last August to deliver a plenary lecture and read from my fiction and poetry at an Irish Studies Conference, run by ABEI. The paper I gave concerned writing about the body and it has been published in the ABEI Journal - The Brazilian Journal of Irish Studies. It's here and starts at page 71.

There is also a thoughtful review of Mother America by Viviane Carvalho da Annunciação on page 143. Thanks once again to Laura Izarra, and all the crew in Brazil, for having me over. I look forward to returning sometime and seeing more of beautiful Brazil.


Writer, and publisher at Dedalus, Pat Boran reviewed Town and Country, the Faber anthology of New Irish Stories, in yesterday's Irish Independent. He called it 'a compelling if fragmented picture of where we are now.' I will paste in the full text below as these links have a habit of disappearing:

Exploration of our changing landscape is, in short, compelling 08 June 2013, Pat Boran, Irish Independent

Few anthologies of new writing can be read as simply a 'gathering of flowers', as the original Greek might suggest. In Ireland, perhaps more than elsewhere, a new collection of stories is expected to be more than the sum of its parts, and must somehow describe the present state of the nation and perhaps of Irishness itself.

If editor Kevin Barry's introduction is a somewhat perfunctory one from a writer who can usually be relied upon to engage, his claim for a genre "pulsing with great, mad and rude new energies" is for the most part borne out by this selection of well known and emerging names.

Leopold Bloom's assertion that "A nation is the same people living in the same place" is sent up by Ned Hynes ("If that's so I'm a nation for I'm living in the same place for the past five years"). The notion is challenged here too, if not entirely exploded, and Town & Country features stories set in Germany, Barcelona and an unnamed island in the North Sea, among other locations, with one of the most moving and troubling, by Desmond Hogan, having its emotional heart in the post-conflict Balkans.

Even so, geography is a good place to start, and location, properly explored, has often been relied upon to produce story. Thus Town & Country, perhaps fittingly, opens in rural Ireland, with Dermot Healy's typically dialogue-spare and suggestive piece about a photographer visiting (revisiting?) ruins and abandoned houses in the West. Though the historical view is longer, it is difficult not to see here some echo of the more recent ruins and derelict buildings of the Irish landscape.

One of the reasons why Ireland may be a natural home to the short story again is that our society has undergone such change in recent times. And change, whether above or just below the surface, is what the story is best equipped to explore.

The most able writers know how to zoom in on and frame those ongoing changes in precisely observed moments. Mike McCormack's ‘A Winter Harmonic’ brings together a lorry crash and the discovery of medical files, among other things, to tell the story of "how lives in a small village hold together", while Nuala Ní Chonchúir, in a story that has a hint of Roald Dahl about it, shows how the move for his wife into a nursing home (with the creepy title Emerald Sunsets) is one change too many for her doting husband.

Julian Gough's hyper-inventive tale of an exiled Irishman's efforts to create a pop song "as addictive as cocaine" is both extended riff and compelling fable and adds one of the few truly playful notes to a mostly serious if not grim or grey volume.

Contemporary Ireland is, variously, a country "where the young have the run of the place" (Colin Barret in the powerful ‘The Clancy Kid’) or where Celtic Tiger cocktails come in "oversized glasses filled a third of the way" (Eimear Ryan in ‘The Recital’).

But it is also a place where so many relationships are under strain and old models no longer trusted. Michael Harding, in an affecting story of a man coming to terms with illness, sees an unbridgeable gap between past and present in a country where "the church is now so disgraced that all the buildings will probably be Omniplex cinemas by the time I'm 75".

Making no prediction about the future, the stories in Town & Countryinstead offer a compelling if fragmented picture of where we are now.

Screenwriting links: Saturday, June 8

Joss Whedon's Passion Project [The Daily Beast]

Empathy-Free Entertainment [The Atlantic]

'Game of Thrones' Showrunner Questions Network TV Violence (Video) [The Hollywood Reporter]

THR Full Emmy Roundtable: Matthew Weiner, Aaron Sorkin and Other Drama Showrunners Debate Violence in Hollywood and Being Control Freaks [The Hollywood Reporter]

Tips on How to Host a Great Script Reading [Write for Hollywood]

How Does the Killing Off Of Major Characters Change How We Watch a Show? [Indiewire]
"Talking to the Hollywood Reporter last month, AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan pointed out that this also means the show could theoretically go on forever, as it's less and less about a coherent group of people and more about a shifting gathering of ragtag survivors in the dusk of humanity."  (Spoilers for Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead)

Amazon Studios Launches Free Storyboard Tool [Variety]

Death to Overly Expository Opening Voiceover Narration [Indiewire]

TV Showrunners to Outshine Filmmakers at 2013 Produced By Conference  [The Hollywood Reporter]
"As the power of the showrunner has grown, the job is now more comparable to that of a feature film's director, functioning as the creative force who provides the vision for the project."

How to Fight Pitch Fatigue [Fast Company]


Kevin Barry, IMPAC winner & editor of Town & Country (pic: Guardian)
The Faber anthology was published this week and with Kevin Barry's risen star (augmented by his IMPAC win) the reviews are tumbling in. They are a mixed bag, it would have to be said, with reviewers differing entirely on which stories work and don't, and how the book fares as a whole. 

When you have a story in an anthology like this, naturally you are interested to see if reviewers notice or care about your story. My story 'Joyride to Jupiter' got a bit of a thrashing from Valerie Riordan at BookMunch: 'Nuala Ní Chonchúir’s ‘Joyride To Jupiter’ covers the sadness and horror of a partner lost to dementia, and, though it’s decently written, it’s a fairly predictable story, up to and including the ending (no spoilers!); the hints about child abuse are a clever addition, adding ambiguity to the reader’s relationship with the narrator, but I’m not sure, still, that this elevates the story to the level I’d like to see in an anthology like this one.' Ouch.

But the Scotsman review, by Tom Adair, felt differently: 'Thankfully, other stories soar without much effort. “Joyride to Jupiter”, perfectly pitched, a tender love story by the gifted Nuala Ni Chonchuir, is the pre-eminent example, telling its tale of a couple’s cruel disintegration, held somehow together by selfless love, producing an ending that is excruciatingly moving.' Tom - I am tracking you down to hug you and shove a copy of my forthcoming Scotland-set novel into your paw :)

Giles Newington reviews the book in The Irish Times today and he finds it a 'sharp, lively and varied selection', while noting the absent writers and singling out, among others, newcomers Colin Barrett and Lisa McInerney for praise.It's an exciting business having a story in such a prominent anthology and, personally, I think it's a great one - I was gobsmacked by several stories, including Éilís Ní Dhuibhne's and Keith Ridgway's. And it's equally exciting (and nerve-wracking) reading the reviews. Bring 'em on!


Can you write a 99 word story by midnight tonight? If so Big Smoke Writing Factory want your words:

Entering "The 99" - Guidelines
  • Entrants must be available to read at the Flash Bulbs event in Dublin on the evening of Saturday June 22nd 2013
  • Submissions should be flash fiction of exactly 99 words. No more. No less. (Title is not included in wordcount.)
  • Up to three entries per writer
  • Entry is free
  • Send all entries to bigsmokeflash@gmail.com
  • Please include "Competition Entry" as the subject of your email
  • Work should be submitted as an attachment (.rtf, .doc or .docx)
  • Author's name or personal information must not appear on the attached document
  • Entries must be the original work of the author
  • Entries will be judged by guest judge Dave Lordan
  • The judge's decision is final
  • A short-list of the top entries will be invited to read their pieces at Flash Bulbs and the winner will be announced on the night
  • Winner will receive a €250 Big Smoke Writing Factory gift voucher
  • Entries close at midnight GMT on Friday June 7th 2013

Reading scripts on paper vs. on screen?

Bonnie writes: What's your opinion on paper vs. electronic submissions? I see that the Austin Film Festival allows submissions in paper or electronic form. I still love the feel of a book in my hands, so I don't always read off my Kindle.  It just seems like a different experience. Do you think there's a difference for the readers?  Do you find yourself relating differently to words on paper versus words on screen?

I've blogged a bit about how paper scripts are becoming obsolete for readers. I personally can't justify the expense or eco-unfriendliness of printing out scripts (and it doesn't help that my printer, which I bought because it's supposed to print two sides at once, crunches up paper in endless paper jams). I read almost all scripts on my laptop screen, which does kind of suck, but since I have to write notes (and often synopses) on scripts, it's most convenient for me to read the script while also keeping a Word document open. If I read a script on paper, I'll have to write notes with a pen and then transcribe them later, which seems extra time-consuming.

I do own a Kindle DX, which is perfect for simultaneously reading and browning oneself on a rooftop, but it doesn't allow me to make notes; I can only bookmark pages, which isn't all that helpful when I have to write extensive coverage. If I'm simply reading scripts for pleasure and don't need to write notes, the Kindle DX is great (the DX is larger than the original Kindle, and makes PDF scripts the perfect size for reading), but 95% of my reading is for work. On iPads (and Kindle Fires, probably) you can use apps to annotate documents, but I need to send official typed documents, not drafts with annotations. (Plus, the whole sunlight thing.) I hope to someday get a tablet for watching TV & movies while I'm at the gym, but that's a whole other multitasking conundrum.

I can't really speak to contests like the Austin Film Festival - I would think that they scan all the submissions in to have electronic records, so readers might read them electronically anyway (or, conversely, print out electronic submissions).

Ultimately, the "experience" of reading doesn't really cross my mind...I read hundreds of pages each week and need to write notes quickly!