Sunday, 3 April 2022

Back to Coney

With signs of spring appearing every day, and some gorgeous sunny days last week, it's been a bit of a shock to the system to be experiencing cold weather again. So yesterday morning, when we woke up to frost, it seemed it would be a day for the big coat again. Choconana muffins baked, I headed back down to Coney to meet writing friends. 

We caught up over coffee and shared our writing news (One of my writing pals had spotted my poem 'Land of Linen' on display in Randalstown). 

We made some writing group plans and then did some writing. It's so lovely to be able to meet up again in person and all the more lovely on what turned out to be a beautiful spring day.

Coney never disappoints. 

Sunday, 6 March 2022

Catching up Again

Over the last few weeks I've taken part in a couple of very enjoyable and helpful online writing workshops. On dark, wintry nights they can be much more appealing than having to venture out in cold, wet, windy weather. Not only were they enjoyable, but I managed to write new pieces as a result of the inspiring facilitators - thanks Shelley and Shirley!

But on a beautiful, sunny spring morning yesterday, it was lovely to be back for an 'in person' workshop at our beloved Coney.

It's good to see more 'in person' events being organised again. Over the last fortnight I've taken part in a couple of 'in person' workshops locally, and it's good to be back in a real room with fellow writers once more, learning from each other. 

But yesterday while we were at our regular writing workshop in Coney, there wasnt much writing done. Our focus was very much on catching up with each other. Over coffee and (of course) muffins

we spent more time sharing our news and pieces we've been working on, than doing any writing. It's a indicator that there is so much more to writing than committing pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard. Equally important are the connections we make as writers, and if we are very lucky with supportive, like-minded people.

As well as talking about the recent workshops I've attended, I shared my news that I'd had a poem published in the Belfast Writers' anthology, 'Worlds within Worlds', now available in ebook form as well as in paperback, Buy Worlds with Worlds

I've also had two poems for children published on The Dirigible Balloon. You can read them and also hear me reading them here It's Very Dark and What the Sea Saw


Monday, 7 February 2022

All things come to those who wait

It's felt a bit like groundhog day (ok - officially Groundhog Day WAS last week) every day for a while. We're still living in strange times and still interacting remotely to keep safe. In the last few weeks I've taken part in a few online writing workshops and at the weekend our Coney writers met up remotely.

It was good to connect over coffee, catch up on our news and also to write. We really stretched ourselves with some difficult writing exercises from the comfort of our homes, while the stormy weather raged outside.

We do miss meeting up in person, but thanks to technology we can still stay connected. With signs of spring appearing, hopefully it won't be too long until we can meet up together in person again.

Today The Belfast Writers' Group launched a new anthology  'Worlds within Worlds'. It's been a while since I submitted a poem for consideration for this project but I knew it had been accepted and the anthology was in development. It's understandable that many projects have taken longer than anticipated in the last two years with so many other challenges. 

So it's exciting to see it come to fruition and it's definitely been worth waiting for. It's now available to buy on Amazon here

Monday, 3 January 2022

Review of the Year

The start of a new year is often associated with setting goals for the year ahead. I haven't decided what my 2022 writing goals are yet, other than to continue writing and developing my craft. For now, I want to take stock of my writing in 2021.

The year started well with three of my locally set stories being included in Jo Zebedee's 'Everyday Magic'.

During continued lockdowns our writing group met virtually, bringing support and encouragement to each other. I also took part in a number of online writing workshops in locations I otherwise wouldn't have had time to travel to, including a Poetry workshop on the first Northern Ireland Writers Day. March saw my poem 'I've a Date' published on 'Inspiration in Isolation's' site

March also saw my award winning photograph 'The sun sets on summer' being brought to life at the Waterways Storymaking festival.

This awards ceremony took place remotely during lockdown - it was lovely to see the winning images and listen to the poems and stories which were shortlisted and won.

May saw three of my poems published  - two in Dreich's third book of 'wee poems'

And another I'd written a very long time ago in an anthology, 'To Dads - with love'

Over the summer when restrictions eased our writing group was able to meet in person again. The highlight of our year was definitely our writing retreat in August. Having had to hold our retreat virtually last summer, we made up for it this year, even if we didn'tget the weather we deserved.

September saw my story 'Return to Sorrento' published by Bradt in their gorgeous anthology 'Travel Write'.

For me, my writing highlight occurred in November when a colleague sent me a photograph she'd taken when out for a walk. It features a poem I'd written as part of Northern Ireland's 'Centenary Scripts' and it is on display in a number of locations across  the local council area. 

Since then I've spotted the poem beside writing by WB Yeats and John Hewitt and have been sent photographs of it by family and friends.

The writing year finished on a high with the Christmas anthology 'Underneath the Tree' which features my story 'Secret Santa' raising yet more money for good causes.

Here's to another successful writing year in 2022!

Monday, 27 December 2021

Twixtmas reading

It's that strange time of year again when it's impossible to know what day of the week it is, that glorious holiday period when nearly everyone seems to get a break - twixtmas - the time between Christmas day and New Year.

It's the perfect time to chill out, catch up on reading, stay cosy and indulge in chocolates. And thanks to my family I have a new pile of books to work my way through.

But as the weather today was brighter and drier than yesterday we wrapped up and ventured outdoors for a walk, to work off some of the Christmas treats. Our walk took us to an area I'm familiar with, but a park I'd never been in until today - the Six Mile Water Park in Ballyclare. It was amazing to watch so many ducks and the herons. And my twixtmas reading continued as we walked through the park reading the centenary scripts.

I'm incredibly proud that amidst poem excerpts by John Hewitt and WB Yeats, my poem, 'Land of Linen' has also been included in the Centenary Scripts on display here. It's lovely to be able to combine some reading while enjoying being outdoors.

Sunday, 5 December 2021

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

It's hard to believe we're in December and the countdown to the big day has commenced. Albeit we've been bombarded with Christmas music and adverts for several weeks. 

Yesterday morning, while getting prepared to head down to Coney Island, I listened to one of the editors of 'Underneath the Tree' talking about our gorgeous anthology on BBC Radio Ulster. 

It's still available to purchase and would make a lovely gift. 

My cranberry and orange muffins were just the perfect accompaniment to coffee in Coney while we shared our writing highlights of the year, and helped get us in the festive mood.

This year we were able to meet together and enjoy a Christmas meal, (which was a veritable feast), and was all the more special, because we'd not been able to get together last Christmas. And while it was cold outside (and chilly inside due to good ventilation!) our hearts were warmed by the good cheer. Our writing group is such a blessing - supportive, encouraging and welcoming. 

Later, a trip to Antrim's Enchanted Winter Garden helped to work off some of the calories. It was magical and the perfect finish to the day.  I felt as if I had been transported into a fairytale. 

Sunday, 28 November 2021

Anthologies for Christmas

I've written before about how much I love Christmas anthologies. Over a busy period they're perfect to dip into - either to read one or two stories or poems, or to read from cover to cover over the holiday period.

And I'm always on the lookout for more to add to my collection. It was lovely this week to drop into my local independent book shop, 'The Secret Bookshelf' as they and neighbouring  shops began to get into the festive spirit.  On a cold, windy November evening we were cheered by the brass band playing Christmas carols in the courtyard while we browsed in the local shops and I spied another book destined to join my Christmas anthology collection.

I'm trying to keep it until December but I have to confess I haven't been able to resist dipping into it already. And it's just as gorgeous inside as the cover is.

If you're stuck for Christmas gift ideas, I'd suggest an anthology can be a perfect present. And unashamedly there are three which feature some of my work which I'd suggest:

'Travel Write', a Bradt guide, is a beautiful collection of travel writing short stories taking you on journeys around the globe.

'Places of Poetry' is a gorgeous treasury of poems taking you around all parts of the United Kingdom.

'Underneath the Tree' is a delightful selection of Christmas stories by writers from Northern Ireland.

While they're all available on various online platforms, why not drop into your local book shop, and you'll also find other wonderful gifting ideas.