Tag Archives: Women Aloud NI

Whittling away …

Women Aloud NI Community Day

Women writers everywhere – and lots of bookish talk. 🙂

WAagm

WANI board members

That was basically the premise for a recent meet-up of Women Aloud NI, as we had our very first Community Day at the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast last weekend, kindly supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

It’s always good to take the online, offline, and, while we run regular writerly events and the like, we’ve never had a day of our own like this to chat about the organisation and our plans for the future.

Suffice it to say that we had a lot to talk about but ultimately, it was just rather cheering to see so many women writers from Northern Ireland gather together to see how we can support one another going forward. Watch this space, I think…

NN2

With regards my own writerly news, I’ve been quiet on the blogging front these past few weeks because I’ve been very busy finishing off NN2 (Novel Number 2). Yes, the notebooks are finally full of their scribbles, the computer has been fired up for typing and those words are being edited as we speak. Things are coming on well with the sequel to Magical Masquerade so hopefully all will continue as such!

Kelly_me_MACI did find a bit of time over Easter, however, for coffee and a catch-up with my friend and fellow author, Kelly Creighton (also a WANI board member), to chat about our books and bookish plans…  I also discovered Kelly is a rather talented artist – not just a fantastic writer, then! (See the portrait she whisked up for me below.)

As this is a follow-up to book one, I will be publishing it independently again as I did with the first, so when I’ve worked out my dates for this I’ll let you know… I’ve certainly found that this second book has taken less time to write and I think that’s for various reasons.

First of all, this time I actually knew I was writing a book! With MM I started off with a short story and then just kept going – and going and going and going – and ended up with a monster of a book that was probably actually three novels, in terms of length. Not so this time. I’m continuing my story and know better now how much notebook space I have to fill and, while I’ve written enough to tell the story and wouldn’t penalise it just to keep things short, experience means I’m writing more succinctly from the outset, so it’s already more on track in terms of word count and so on.

I’ve also given myself deadlines for this manuscript where I didn’t for the first, and I understand the publishing process and how long that takes, so am bearing all that in mind. My audience is predominantly young (although adults – you really can read my books as well! If you’ve read HP then you’re already in my target audience 🙂 ), so I’m keen not to delay the sequel for too long.

Reading notesportrait

Writing aside, I’ve also been flying through some great fiction this month as well, and will record a video for my BookTube channel about those soon. I plan to give each book a star rating and to choose the best book of the month from what I’ve read as one which I’d recommend you pick up (if you haven’t already read it that is). I’ve discovered so many good books through YouTube so I’d like to help other readers uncover a few new gems too.

Anyway, it really has been a good reading month in April and I’m hoping the rest of my TBR pile will deliver the same greatness. More as I have it. 🙂

 

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Celebrating women writers

International Women’s Day events

This time last week I was in the midst of celebrating International Women’s Day with a collection of women writers from the North Coast, so this week, I thought I’d reflect on how it all went.

Claire Savage, Bernie McGill and Margot McCuaig at Waterstones.

With Bernie McGill and Margot McCuaig.

 

All of the writers taking part were members of Women Aloud NI, which you will know all about if you read this blog regularly but if not, just click the linked text above. Basically, it aims to raise the profile of women writers from Northern Ireland and last week’s events are one example of how this is done.

Anyway, we gathered at Waterstones Coleraine, where the staff once again kindly hosted us for the afternoon, talking about our work and sharing it with members of the public by reading short extracts. First up was a panel discussion entitled A Sense of Place which saw myself and Portstewart author Bernie McGill discuss how the local landscape has influenced our work with Glasgow-based filmmaker and novelist, Margot McCuaig. Margot splits her time between Scotland and Rathlin Island on the North Coast, where she has her roots, and is also heavily inspired by the rugged landscape on this northerly part of Ireland.

Back (L-R) Claire Savage, Elaine Donnelly, Antoinette Bradley, Hilary McCollum, Anne McMaster, Bernie McGill, Yvonne Boyle. Front (L-R) Julie Agnew, Mandy Taggart and Jane Talbot.

Some of the read-a-thon crew.

 

It was great to have the opportunity to chat about this and to hear from Margot and Bernie about their writing processes, but of course, all too soon, our time was up and it was on to the next event – a read-a-thon filled with everything from poetry and prose, to memoir and travel writing.

If you’ve never been to a read-a-thon before then you really should give it a go as it provides a flavour of a wide variety of writing and introduces you to lots of great new work. We each read from our work for up to five minutes, with timing carefully controlled by Women Aloud NI director, Jane Talbot. It was lovely to see a healthy crowd assembled for each of the events and hopefully, some of them will have been inspired to look up one or more of the writers in attendance and check out their work.

Magical Masquerade in the library

Claire reading

Reading from MM.

Women Aloud is a great support for women writers and, as well as our public Facebook page, we also have a private members group, where we can chat about all sorts of writing-related things. And so it was that, during a chat last week about getting books stocked in our local libraries, I was reminded that my own book is available in branches throughout Northern Ireland and I’ve never really told anyone about it!

You may recall that I took part in a Dublin Book Festival event last November, which was held at Portstewart Library. Libraries NI very kindly bought in 35 copies of Magical Masquerade, which were given to a class to read before the event. Those copies were subsequently dispersed throughout the Libraries NI branches so, if you’d like to have a read, then please do call in and pick up a copy! And … if your branch doesn’t have any, then feel free to request that they get some in. 🙂

The sequel…

Which brings me onto the next instalment of Felicity’s adventures. Writing is continuing to progress with NN2 (Novel Number 2) and I’m on the downward slope to completion of the first draft. My aim is to be typing up the completed handwritten manuscript in April, which will see the first cycle of editing, as I find that once you start typing it up, you make little changes along the way. Once typed, it will then rest a while, before the serious editing, re-editing and, well, editing again commences.

The story has taken another turn recently into an area that I just hadn’t predicted and to me, this is all part of the joy of writing. I know my destination, but my pen continues to present me with fabulous new ways of getting there. (Well, I hope they’re fabulous – at the minute, I certainly think so anyway, but we will see what future editing Claire says!)

Bits and pieces

Other than that, I’m very busy reading and yes, I managed to upload a couple of BookTube videos recently, so you can watch those here if you feel so inclined: http://bit.ly/2HBVYbv 

I may also be getting involved in another exciting bookish project, but more on that if it comes to fruition… Apologies for being cryptic but I’ll let you know when I know more myself!Culture NI pic

And … if you missed it, or are interested, I interviewed NI Children’s Writing Fellow, Myra Zepf, and also wrote a little about my own path to becoming a published author for Culture NI recently, as part of its creative careers initiative for Creativity Month this March, so you can read that here: http://www.culturenorthernireland.org/features/literature/why-theres-no-right-way-becoming-writer

Think that’s all for now! 🙂

 

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Writing things in 2018…

It’s been just over a month since my last post here but while I haven’t been blogging, I have been making headway with NN2 (that’s Novel Number Two) – and reading copiously of course.

Reading

I keep a book journal and was pleased to see that I read 51 full books in 2017, with various others started and not finished (I no longer persevere past a certain point if a book doesn’t grip me). I didn’t count a few poetry collections either, as these I dip in and out of. So, all in all, that was a good reading year. I’m presently on book six I think so far this January, so let’s hope the reading frenzy continues! Though it may be inhibited a bit by some writing things…

Copywriting work has recommenced with my business, alongside the novel-writing, and I’m also working on a couple of other writing-related projects which may or may not come to anything, but require a good bit of prep work to see if they do. Fingers crossed they will happen but we will have to wait and see. (I like being cryptic but also, I don’t want to jinx things by mentioning what they are!)

Women Aloud NI events WANI event 2018In March, I will once again be participating in International Women’s Day with Women Aloud NI. You can view the updated event listings for 2018 over on the website here: http://womenaloudni.com/

This year, I’ve decided not to do the Dublin event with the Irish Writers’ Centre, as I have other commitments, but I’m looking forward to taking part in two events at Waterstones Coleraine on March 8. Both events are FREE so if you’re local or in the area that day, please do come along!

BookTube Channel

By the way, if you’re interested in what I’m reading/plan to read, check out my YouTube channel here: http://bit.ly/2rdQgJm 

It’s all a bit of fun and I do plan to record more videos re my favourite books and other bookish things, so watch out for those!

Anyway, that’s about it for now. I didn’t manage to write my Christmas ghost story this year, as I decided to just concentrate on NN2 and not get too distracted… My ‘problem’ is that I get lots of ideas for things all of the time and am therefore constantly trying to do all sorts of things all at once. Which does tend to pull one in all kinds of directions and is a little bit stressful. So, I removed that stress this year and stayed focused on the one project. 🙂

More as I have it! 🙂

 

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Bookish updates

Publishing a book is not as easy as it looks and if you doubt me, then have a go at book formatting and you’ll soon find out the challenges! With the day job keeping me busy during the week, I’ve spent the past couple of weekends getting to grips with formatting Magical Masquerade so I can finally upload it to CreateSpace and send off for my proof copies. From there, it’s just a few short weeks to hitting that ‘publish’ button and releasing it to the world…reuben-roses

For now, however, formatting has been keeping me well and truly on my toes. I was always determined to do this bit by myself, and after doing it all wrong last weekend, I might just have managed to get it sorted this weekend. I’m sending it to a trusted friend who knows exactly what’s what in this department however, so she’ll soon let me know if it needs more work. I don’t really want to waste time uploading a manuscript which needs further formatting afterwards, so I want to get it checked before it goes to CreateSpace – just to be sure…

Anyway, besides that (and forgetting for the moment that e-book formatting awaits!), over the past couple of weeks I’ve enjoyed lots of bookish things – both MM related and otherwise.

Radio interview

First up, the lovely Denis McNeill interviewed me about the book on Q Radio – North Coast last week, and you can listen back to that below if you like!

Magical Masquerade page

I also created a Magical Masquerade page here on the blog, which will keep things like press coverage and so on all in the one place, and will include any updates on events etc.

 

The Ghastlingghastling

The Ghastling journal also flew in the door as well, so I got my hands at last on book five of this, which is packed full of spooky tales (my own included) and is just really well put together. Well worth a read!

 

Waterstones poetry competition

I was also delighted to hear that one of my poems was chosen by Waterstones Coleraine as one of 12 winners in their Women Aloud NI Poetry Competition.waterstones-wani

The poems are now on display in the store to celebrate women writers and you can find out more about Women Aloud NI’s 2017 events (happening this week!) by clicking the linked name above (in blue).

Women Aloud NI 2017

This week will be full of literary treats, as I’m taking part in a Women Aloud NI reading event in Derry on Wednesday evening. I’m also heading into Waterstones on Thursday to get photographed with the other winning poets, and then Saturday is the Women Aloud  NI trip to Dublin – #WomenXBorders. This will include an in-train recital from Belfast to Dublin, along with a readathon and panel discussions at the Irish Writers’ Centre when we get there, plus a mass reading to finish up. So, it will be a busy day for women writers in NI and the ROI!

women-aloud-events

So, all in all, there’s a lot going on, but it’s all good, it’s all on track, and I’ll keep you updated. 🙂

PS Thanks to the lovely Anna Macaulay, who gave me the beautiful yellow roses that the fullsizerender-16pup is inspecting at the top of this post … and to Liza Rae, for the gorgeous gem earrings and card. These weren’t expected at all, but are much appreciated pre-publication book gifts!

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Bookish bits and bobs….

Well, it’s almost the end of the month and I’m looking forward to seeing The Ghastling journal in the flesh pretty soon, especially as they’ve had my story very beautifully illustrated by this issue’s featured artist, Anouk van der Meer. Here’s a little teaser of what that looks like!

ghastling-1

Aside from this, I’ve been working with my book cover designer to get things wrapped up that end, as I’m hoping to reveal what Magical Masquerade will actually look like in my next post…. Quotes are being added onto that as we speak (from professional authors that I am very excited about), so next time we meet, I fully intend to be able to show this to you at last!

I’m also working on some more promo content for MM – nothing too flashy as I’m on a very tight budget – but hopefully there’ll be a little extra something to help with the online promotion of that in the run-up to publication day. I’ll keep you updated on that one but enough for now because – spoilers. 🙂

Women Aloud NI

Things are also progressing nicely with the Women Aloud NI events in March and while full details of these will be announced in February, I can share this lovely image below, which the Irish Writers’ Centre has created to promote the Dublin event. (The link to that is here: http://irishwriterscentre.ie/collections/frontpage/products/international-womens-day-women-aloud-ni )

international_women_s_day_-_women_aloud_ni_1024x1024

I’m really looking forward to this – not least because I’ve never actually visited the Irish Writers’ Centre before (geography does tend to get in the way….) and it’s doing lots of great things for Irish writers north and south of the border.

Literary Salon

fullsizerender-14

Some of the literary salon writers.

This week I also attended the inaugural Literary Salon at the Thinking Cup Café in Belfast.

The idea of this is to connect local writers and run regular monthly events – I’m not quite sure how it’s going to proceed, as the original organiser has since moved on to pastures new, but the group seems willing to connect and create a community, so we’ll see what happens.

It was a great evening of writing chat anyway and I got to meet some new faces, which is always nice, as well as catching up with some I already know.

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With fellow writer, Erin Burnett.

 

Anyway, I think that’s my lot for now. Things are definitely progressing with the book (which is still with the copyeditor and expected back soon!), so I need to go back and reassess my list of things to do, as things ticked off are generally quickly replaced by new things hitherto forgotten or unthought of…

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Lovely artwork at the Thinking Cup Café.

Yesterday morning, for example, was spent on the chilly north coast getting some new author photos taken, so I can have them ready for marketing and promo purposes as needs be (she says hopefully!). For things like this, I’m very grateful to friends and family for pitching in and assisting. It does come in handy when you have a professional photographer in the family….

More as I have it!

 

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Writing without agenda

ink-316909_1280When you write your stories longhand there’s always an element of surprise, no matter how well you think you’ve estimated words per page, when you go to type it up. Usually, my worry is that the story will be too short, as what fills a small notebook and makes you think you’ve written something significant, can often translate into just a few typed pages. However, my most recent story, which I thought would be around 2,000 words, turned out to be about 4,500 words, so I was pleasantly surprised at that!

I got into the habit last year of writing stories that were mostly in the region of 2,000 words, as this is the word limit for so many journal submissions and competitions. However, as part of my pledge to write without agenda this year, I’ve reverted back to form – my form – which means lengthier short stories that won’t necessarily fit the mould. I will probably also write some that are 2,000 words and maybe even less than that. We’ll just have to see how the creative juices flow…WOMEN ALOUD

Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to being a part of an exciting new project in Northern Ireland called Women Aloud NI, which will take place on International Women’s Day on March 8 this year. The project is all about championing women writers in Northern Ireland, so if you’re from NI (whether you’re a current resident or are living elsewhere) and would like to take part, then check out their website at: http://womenaloudni.com/

I’ll be reading my story from The Incubator Journal in Coleraine on the day, as well as chatting about submitting to journals, so it should be good! More details will follow… 🙂

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