Two Short Story Competitions

Short story writers, here are two short story competitions that you may be interested in with closing dates in the next couple of months. The William Trevor/Elizabeth Bowen is due in April, with a 3000 word limit and a 20 euro entrance fee, the Molly Keane award is free to enter, due in March and has a 2000 word limit (tricky those!) Both are postal entry only.


Mitchelstown Literary Society, the organising committee, is pleased to announce that entries are now being accepted for the above Competition; this being the first under this banner.

“This is an ideal opportunity for creative writers to have the standard of their literary efforts appraised. Our short listing adjudicator for the competition is Vincent McDonnell, who is a well known short story writer and has won several prestigious national competitions in recent years. He will select a short list of circa 25 stories.

The final adjudicator will be John MacKenna, whose recent book of short stories, “The River Field”, has received much critical acclaim. If competition, in any facet of life, is the act of testing oneself against, or being judged by, the best then, in this competition, that tenet certainly holds true”.

Each story should contain a maximum of 3000 words and should be submitted, by post only, on or before Friday 29th. April 2011.

The winner will receive the Prize of 2,500 Euro and a Laptop Computer.

Five runners up will receive cash prizes of 200.00 Euro each.

There is an entry fee of 20.00 Euro per entry and each entry must have an official entry form attached.

The names of the winner and runners-up will be posted to the competition website when they become available.

Closing date: Last post Friday 29th. April 2011.

Entries, by post only, to:

Trevor/Bowen International Short Story Competition,

37 Upper Cork Street, Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, Ireland



Now in its 14th year, Waterford County Council’s Arts Office is pleased to announce that it is currently accepting entries for the Molly Keane Memorial Creative Writing Award.

The late writer lived, until her death in 1996, in Ardmore, Co. Waterford.  Her first ten novels and four plays were published under the pseudonym M.J. Farrell.  In 1981 ‘Good Behaviour’ became a publishing sensation for which she was short listed for the prestigious Booker Prize.  To celebrate this rich literary life, the County Waterford Arts Office, by kind permission of the Keane family, is inviting entries for a previously unpublished short story to a maximum of 2000 words.  There is no entry fee, no age limit and no restriction on the subject matter.  A prize of €500 will be awarded to the winner at a special ceremony during the IMMRAMA Literary Festival in Lismore, Co. Waterford in June 2011.

The closing date for receipt of entries is 5pm on Thursday 24th March 2011.

Full details and an entry form can be downloaded from:


or by contacting the Arts Office on 058-41416.

I’m not an aspiring writer

Always been writing

I’ve yet to publish a novel or a collection of short stories. (Update: As of 2012 I self-published a sci-fi comedy & some short stories but I’m still working on the agent & trad deal!)  I’m not known in literary circles or seen in bookshops. I’ve been on the radio twice but you wouldn’t have known it was me, there was no hype, my name was called out at the end with all the other contributors.

But I’m not an aspiring writer. Although I’ve only just learned to call myself one, I’ve been a writer all my life. I wrote my first poem at eight. Something all children are asked to do in school but it sparked something in me, an intrinsic satisfaction in selecting the just right word and a self-propelled motivation to do that again and again.

When my second child was born I put my occupation on the birth cert as ‘Writer’. When my third child was born I reverted to ‘Housewife’. At that point with three children under four, writing was something I thought about a lot but didn’t often get around to. I suppose also, having left paid employment, I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of calling myself a writer when not earning any money from it.

In the last couple of years I have had recognition from outside in the form of (some high profile) competition shortlists,  literary mag publication and reader feedback on blog posted stories. I’m immersed in the writing world online and in a real world writing group. When getting to know new people now there is only a moment’s hesitation in saying that I am a writer, I suppose I have something to show for it now, even if I haven’t had a book of my own published. But, hang on, I’ve always been writing. And not just putting words on the page with a pen, yes, I’ve been an avid diary and letter writer (oh, I bemoan the passing of the letter and still surprise people by sending them real world missives in between email exchanges) or on screen. I’ve always been putting words on the page WITH INTENT.

When I submit to a publisher it’s not the done thing to say I wrote my first poem at eight, I won a local newspaper sponsored trophy in the school short story competition at seventeen and read my story about small mindedness in a small town in public to the townsfolk of that small town. I should not say that as a teenager my family wondered why I spent my time writing instead of watching the television with them. (Although I did watch plenty TV and won 50 pounds in 1985 from an Irish TV show by sending in a poem about my favourite TV programmes.) I should not tell the publisher that the scrawled notes from my school friends in an autograph book filled in just before we left school suggested that one day I would be a famous author (still hoping!). I should not say that the year I did my final school exams I had to keep throwing a manuscript in progress further and further under the bed as it was distracting me from my studies.

So I’m not an aspiring writer. I am one. Are you? The question then is, are we any good, does anyone want to read us. I’ve had some official recognition as I’ve said and wonderful reader feedback on my flash fiction and short stories. In this changing publication world it seems that readers rule in particular in the case of e-book self-publishing, readers vote with their downloading finger and I’m hoping to test the water here shortly with an e-book of interlinked flash fiction. In the case of traditional publishing publishers make the call on quality, marketability, fit, trend and timing. If we pass these criteria we will one day call ourselves authors. But the title of ‘writer’ is not something that can be given to us, we have to see it in ourselves, nurture and believe in it, tell others and make them believe it too. has launched. It’s the project of Vanessa O’ Loughlin author and founder of Inkwell Writers ( who gives a wonderful video welcome on the site. is an ambitious undertaking that has so much to offer writers at every level. The site is pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate but there are many areas of interest to choose from.

The Writer’s Toolbox is really excellent, it covers everything from writing better fiction to getting published, new perspectives on the digital publishing arena. It also highlights a range of services, competitions and resources.

Elsewhere on the site, there are interviews with established writers in a wide range of genres and disciplines including fiction, non-fiction and poetry. There are regular bloggers, Catherine Ryan Howard with her ebook success story, Kristi Thompson with funny interviews from writers and people related to the industry, Kate Dempsey who helps us explore and access poetry and poetry writing. I will also be blogging on head space and the challenges of finding creativity in our busy lives. There are details of courses and writing events and an online forum will soon be up and running.

There are a whole lot of resources for readers too: book reviews, book club news and giveaways among them.

Go check out It will be constantly updated and you can sign up for the newsletter. Well done to Vanessa and all involved!

#fridayflash If you.

I want to say to you that…I’m so….You know that time when we…I know this doesn’t make any…. Sometimes I wish that I could…But if I only… and then  the way you ….. but perhaps it didn’t…. and then again oh but you…’s not clear if… and at the same time….there was that….there was that….I thought you….

Sometimes the light through the curtains obscura makes a wall shadow of trees. Sometimes you see feet passing underneath the wooden gate outside your house. Sometimes the sun slants, the waves slap against the ferry boat, shuttling between islands, sometimes the wind bangs a door, again, again, late in the evening the escalator down to the underground clicks round and round and round and a sweet wrapper from a relaunched bar skitters along the platform then drops onto the rails.

There are photographs in a photographer’s window of gorgeous children who are no longer children, they climb into the parks after hours and hang upside down on the monkey bars, they drink purloined cider under the slides. There are wedding photographs of the newly divorced in drawers, there are pictures of pop bands in envelopes owned by ladies with wrinkles.

What if we….well I never…..I wonder …we could have….remember when I said that….I remember the things you…in the end we….the end is never…

There is a programme on the television that revisits the decades one by one..The fashion then. My God I wouldn’t be seen dead in….There is a colour tinge for every place, for every space in time, there is a sense of…Lemon sherbert overtones. I wouldn’t be seen dead in batwing now.

Unspooling, film heroes unmade, running backwards, erasing. We tried to rewind the tape into cassettes with HB pencils. In those days the imprint of ourselves could easily be tangled and mix tapes had clunky pauses. Which song would you choose as your last?

If we had…if you ever….and I really wanted to…but when we….and at the end of the day… after all….and I wouldn’t be seen…

I rarely send letters. I stopped wearing a watch.

February Fairytales

Today, check out Eight Cuts Gallery’s new exhibition Once Upon a Time in a Gallery. Fairytales revisited and subverted through art and words. Take your time to travel through the links that will lead you on unexpected journeys and you may find something from me there too….

Visit: Once Upon a Time in a Gallery

In case you get lost. I’m here. (2nd piece).