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‘Mental’ shortlisted for CAP Award 2017; shortlist


Some weeks just get off to a good start, don’t they?

I was going to bed last night and decided to check my email (bad habit – on this occasion, yielding good results). There was a message telling me that ‘Mental’ has been shortlisted for the Carousel Aware Prize (CAP) 2017!

carousel aware prize logo 2017

See the end of this post for the full shortlist.

The judges for the category in which ‘Mental’ is shortlisted (Best Anthology) were Tanya Farrelly and David Butler. I recently discovered Tanya Farrelly’s work after hearing her read at the Cork International Short Story Festival 2017 (see my previous post about that festival). Her reading and comments were hugely enjoyable and interesting, so I’m pretty chuffed that my book was one of those chosen by her, along with David Butler. He is a writer I’m not familiar with – I’ll have to check out his work.

Congratulations to all the other shortlisted authors! The only one I’m familiar with is Lorna Sixsmith, who is shortlisted for her book ‘An Ideal Farm Husband’. Her previous books about life as the wife of an Irish farmer have done really well. I’m looking forward to hunting down seeking out (!) the other authors and getting to know them on social media – and who knows, maybe in real life too.

The CAP award is run in association with Aware, a non-profit organisation that provides education, support and information on mental health, particularly depression, bipolar disorder, and positive mental health. All proceeds from the competition go to Aware.

The CAP website describes the awards thus: “The [CAP] Awards are committed to acknowledging and promoting excellence in Irish independent book publishing.” The awards are the brainchild of indie author Carolann Copland. Big kudos are due to her, her team of volunteers, and the judges – all of whom who give their time to the awards free of charge.

Full list of shortlistees and judges for the CAP Award 2017

Best Junior Book
Judge: Benji Bennett

  • Alma Jordan & Martin Beckett: Tales from Riverside Farm
  • Emma-Jane Leeson & Kim Shaw: The Adventures of Johnny Magory
  • Kevin Doyle: The Worms That Saved The World
  • Helen C Burke: Billy’s Search for the Healing Well
  • Alan Murphy: Psychosilly
  • Dolores Keaveney & the Keaveney & Lennon children: Dilly the Camper & The Magic Fairy Garden

Best Young Adult Book
Judge: Claire Hennessy

  • Jaq Hazell: My Life As A Bench
  • J.S. Comiskey: Solstice… The Goddess Awakens

Best Anthologies
Judges: Tanya Farrelly and David Butler

  • Orla Shanaghy: Mental
  • Adrienne Vaughan: Fur Coat & No Knickers
  • Kathryn Crowley: Room for One More
  • Compiled by Helen Mc Mahon: Selfies and Portraits
  • Compiled by Eileen Casey: Circle & Square

Best Non Fiction
Judge: Tony Canavan

  • Linda Allen: See You in Two Minutes, Ma
  • John Kenny & Dolores Keaveny Kenny: The Hills Speak; History & Mystery
  • Lorna Sixsmith: An Ideal Farm Husband
  • Elizabeth Egan: Notes from Higher Grounds
  • Breifne Early: Pedal the Planet

Best Novel
Judge: Louise Phillips

  • Simon Bourke: And The Birds Kept on Singing
  • Caroline E Farrell: Lady Beth
  • Catherine Kullmann: The Murmur of Masks
  • Caimh McDonnell: A Man With One of Those Faces

Ooh and I’ll be posting more about this on a future date but for now: please remember independent authors when you do your Christmas book-buying!

I love my blockbusters and big-name authors as much as anyone (I’m currently in the middle of Marian Keyes’ latest). Those authors have the spending power and marketing departments of big publishers behind them – and good luck to them. Independent authors have none of that; we rely on ourselves, our friends and families, and the kindness of strangers, to get our works out there.

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Book launch news


I seem to be in a constant state of excitement these days.

The latest reason is that I have confirmed the person who will launch my book. It is none other than Mark Roper. Mark is a nationally renowned poet and creative writing educator with a lengthy list of publications, credits and accolades to his name. (For details of these see Mark’s website.) I had the pleasure of having a piece of mine included alongside one of his in The Sunday Miscellany Anthology in 2011.

mark roper head shot

Poet Mark Roper

Even more significantly for me on a personal level, Mark was a writing mentor of mine back in 2003 and 2004 when I returned home to Ireland from my travels abroad. He encouraged and supported my writing as part of his Writer in Residency year at Waterford Regional Hospital (now University Waterford Hospital) and kindly included a piece of mine in an anthology of writing from people in the hospital. He has continued to provide support and encouragement ever since.

Mark’s kind and gentle manner is famous among those who know him. That temperament was in evidence when I attended his workshops in the hospital with a small, sometimes noisy baby in tow. He did not bat an eyelid at the presence of my daughter and made us feel nothing but welcome. It is seemingly little things like these that are true indicators of a person’s character.

The launch itself takes place in The Book Centre, Waterford on March 24th. There will be details in my next post; in the meantime, check out the event page on Facebook.

My new book ‘Mental’ comes out this year


Allow me to be selfish for a moment. 2017 is going to be a huge year for me because this is the year that I publish my first book.

It’s a book of short stories and it’s called ‘Mental’. The stories all deal with the issue of mental health as it affects the five main characters, who are of different ages and backgrounds. My aim with the book – apart from creating a piece of work that hopefully has some artistic merit! – is to shed light into the often darkened corners of our mental worlds.

I’m self-publishing the book, a process that so far has been mostly enjoyable. As a child, I was fascinated with the physicality of books. I tried a few times to make my own, in an attempt to fulfil my dream of seeing my name on a front cover.

Armed with the Olivetti typewriter that Santa had brought, my drawing pens, paper and folders liberated from my Dad’s workplace, and lots of sellotape, I sadly found that the results were never quite up to my expectations. Back then, this was the best I could do (this ‘book’ was the result of a school history project): 


Had I been born only a few decades later, my younger self could simply have used one of today’s self-publishing platforms to publish my early attempts at a novel.

For Mental, I’m using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) for the ebook and CreateSpace, Amazon’s print-on-demand service, for the print version.

One of the most exciting tasks so far has been working with an awesome graphic designer to create the cover of the book. I’ll be revealing the cover on this blog very soon!

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