Tag Archives: ireland

Poetry Deal

Anyone that has written poetry in the last few years knows how difficult it is to get their work published.  Ireland is rich with high quality literary publications that specialise in poetry; both in print and online, however, it is not as satisfying as having a collection in print form.

Most poetry publishers in Ireland have seen their incomes reduced due to funding cuts by the Arts Council and local county/city councils. Those cuts are unlikely to be reversed in the next few years.  As a result, even established poets have struggled to get their work published.

We want to help poets publish their collections, enabling them to give and sell copies to their friends, families, local libraries, fellow poets, writers groups and ensure that their work is not lost or forgotten. Therefore we came up with a special package for poets and their collections.

Most poetry collections with the exception of anthologies are B size and 60-64 pages. More than enough for a poet to expand on their theme or show their best work. Based on that, we are offering the following

Cover Design

Formatting/Typesetting of the collection to B size

Printing and binding of two hundred softcover books with black and white pages.

ISBN and barcode registration so that the book can be sold in the major shops

All of the above for just €800, or €4 per book.

The books will be printed on Munken Bookwove and bound using our unique Ota-bind method. Hardbacks, more pages and colour pages cost extra but can be organised if the poet wants it.

Price excludes delivery and is for a limited time only.

For more information or to talk about your project, get in touch, http://www.selfpublishbooks.ie/contact/

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The Parting by Patrick Stack

The Parting

Patrick Stack started writing at 12 after hearing a piece of verse on the black and white TV. Now he has written a full collection of poetry with Selfpublishbooks.ie - this week we asked him to share his experience.

“I’ve always had a love for the sound of language,” Patrick says. “As a child and teenager I would regularly take down one of the four volumes of The Imperial Dictionary of the English Language from the shelf in our living room and read it. This had belonged to my paternal grandfather who died when my father was 7 or 8 years old. I was enthralled by the little lithographs scattered throughout its pages to illustrate some obscure word, and fascinated by the etymological information in each entry. I was the only one who ever consulted it, and was given it to keep by my parents when I left home. My love of language has lead me speaking five languages with varying degrees of fluency. I intend learning a sixth – Korean – when time permits. It has also lead, albeit indirectly, to my working in the field of web and database programming, where I use computer languages such as html, css, php, JavaScript, and SQL.”

A poet has to take direction from other authors — we asked Patrick who he named as his idols.

“That’s a difficult one! My favourite poets during my formative period at Trinity were William Blake, Arthur Rimbaud, Gerard de Nerval, Guillaume Appolinaire, and Paul Eluard.
“Later on I developed a love for the Argentinian writer and poet, Jorge Luís Borges – I especially liked his short poems, but didn’t much like his longer more descriptive stuff.
“The minimalist poetry of Thomas McGreevey inspires me, as does Michael Hartnett’s Irish language poetry.”

How long was The Parting in the works? How did it begin?

“The Parting has been in the works for a long time. I have wanted to publish my own collection since I was an undergraduate in Trinity in the late 1970s, but back then there was no such thing as self-publishing (unless you count vanity publishing which was costly) and getting a poem published – never mind a collection – was a daunting prospect.
“Over the years I’ve produced several collections which, thankfully, never saw the light of day. The Parting is a compilation of the best poems that have survived from these, as well as my most recent work. The early surviving poems have undergone varying degrees of paring, pruning and gutting. One, ‘Tricolour’, has grown from a fragment (6 lines) written in 1989 shortly after I emigrated to Spain, to its final 57-line version completed in 2008 well after I had returned to Ireland.
“Coming up with an appropriate title for the collection proved a major stumbling block. With help from my daughter I eventually settled upon The Parting, given that the collection deals with many types of parting.”

Patrick is on the committee for the Three-Legged Stool Poets – we asked him how he got involved.

“The committee that runs the the Three-Legged Stool Poets has just decided to rename it 3-Legged Stool Poets, so I’ll refer to it as that from now on. It was started back in the early 2000s and came out of another group called ‘The Poetry Collective’ which was the brainchild of Arthur Watson. Arthur is still actively involved.
“Soon after I emigrated to Spain I stopped writing, and did not start again until early 2007 – a period of 16 years in the wilderness as it were! As I had not been writing or even reading poetry in all that time, I was unaware of the existence of any poetry groups in the Munster area. In 2007, I gave my first reading in 20 years in the Georgian House, Limerick as part of the Mozart and Wine fundraising night run by Summer Music on the Shannon. Although I was terrified, the reading proved to be a huge success. Barney Sheehan of the Whitehouse Poetry Revival was in the audience, and asked me to come and read at the Whitehouse, which I subsequently did. During that reading I happened to mention that I had been trying unsuccessfully to make contact with the 3-Legged Stool Poets, which I had been told about by somebody in Ennis. Unbeknownst to me, Brian Mooney happened to be there that night and came up and introduced himself. That’s how I came to join the group.
“Through my contacts in Summer Music on the Shannon, the group secured a regular monthly reading in Glór, Ennis in 2008 and that initiative is still going.”

Every poet has a favourite poem. We asked Patrick which poem he enjoyed writing most in The Parting and why?

“The first one that comes to mind is ‘Dog Burial’, followed closely by ‘Epithalamion.’ ‘Dog Burial’ has been around a long time, the first version dating back to 1979. It was written in memory of a greyhound, Millie, who was my mother’s favourite of all the greyhounds we kept, hence the dedication. Many re-writings later, it has achieved that terseness and minimalism which best expresses the grief of losing Millie and having to bury her in the orchard.
“In contrast, Epithalamion took only a few months to write, and has none of the terseness or minimalism of ‘Dog Burial.’ Instead it luxuriates in its richness of language. Writing it proved a major challenge. I was still frantically working on it in the car on the way to the wedding, and only completed it half an hour before the wedding reception at which I read it!”

Once a book is finished, the next step is to get it between two covers. But what caught Patrick’s interest in self-publishing?

“Getting a collection published by a ‘reputable’ publisher in Ireland is very difficult. And even if your work is accepted by one, the waiting time can be counted in years. An added complication for me is that my poetry is not mainstream and, I suspect, does not tick the necessary boxes to satisfy the status quo’s ideas of what constitutes acceptable poetry.
“Having acquired the skills necessary to do page layout through my years as a Desktop Publishing tutor for Clare VEC, I decided I would do just that. Some research on the web lead me to Lettertec’s website. I liked what I saw and made contact.”

We asked Patrick how he found the self-publishing process:

“The process of putting the book together was daunting, and proved to be a lot of work once I started,” Patrick says, “I used my web developer skills to help select from the 113 poems I have in an online database I set up for the purpose, and to put them in order. I adapted a jQuery re-order plugin which I attached to the database to help in getting them into the right order. This took about three weeks to do. I then used an open source Page layout program – Scribus – to put the collection together. This took about 2 months.
“The least daunting, most efficient part was the production of the finished book. All I had to do was deliver the pdfs to selfpublishbooks.ie and they did the rest. I was amazed to get delivery of the book a week ahead of schedule. That is great service!

“The finished product is excellent in every way. It is as I had imagined, only better. There is nothing to compare with the feeling of reading from your own book – it gives a feeling of confidence, of completion. It beats the hell out of reading from notebooks, loose sheets and the backs of envelopes!”

So what’s next for Patrick?

“As an active member of 3-Legged Stool Poets, I’m excited at our upcoming initiative to plunge into performance poetry for our Winter season which kicks off in October 2013.
“Besides promoting The Parting through readings and Social Media, and my website, my next project is to finish the long poem entitled ‘The Day the Revolution Came,’ which I’ve been working on for the last four years. Currently I’m about half-way through at 215 lines in 4 cantos. Once finished I will publish it as a standalone work, though the title may well change!”

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The Boys of Ballycroy by Kieran Ginty

Kieran Ginty Cover 'The Boys of Ballycroy'Final

A full-time public servant, Kieran Ginty qualified from the University of Limerick with a BA degree in Public Administration. Originally from Ballycroy in Co. Mayo, he is now settled in Limerick.  This week, I had a quick chat with Kieran about his newly printed novel, his first, The Boys of Ballycroy.

First off, I asked Kieran how it all started. “People who have read the book estimated that it must have taken me at least three years to write,” he said, “but I actually did it in less than 6 months – and that was working weekends, evenings and mornings only.  The book revolves around a group of seven friends, and follows how they and their families cope with the arrival of three conflicts – World War I, The Irish War of Independence, and The Irish Civil War.  It is set in my native parish, against the backdrop of poverty, oppression and emigration.”

What prompted your interested in writing this book? “There was a book written in the 1850s by a Scottish visitor that featured Ballcroy, and I have often wondered why no one wrote about the place in the interim.  I pay homage to this book in my publication.  Being a remote townland, the landscape remains largely untouched by modernization and it is the mountains, lakes, bogs, rivers, sand dunes and sea that provided the main inspiration.  Coupled with my deep interest in history, I hope all readers agree that they combine for a good read.”

“My grandparents used to tell me many stories about their days growing up there, and some of these have been integrated into the novel.”

I saw on the Facebook page photos and videos that feature in the book and asked Kieran if it the landscape that inspired the story or the story fitted to the landscape: “Definitely the landscape was the main inspiration.  There are so many old ruins also that prompt you to wonder what went on there in the past.  In some of those photos and videos, there is little sign of tarred roads, electricity wires or satellite dishes – you could actually convince yourself that they were recorded a century ago.  I have often said that it would be inexpensive for a movie set in the 1910s and 1920s to be filmed in Ballycroy, as very little would need to be done cosmetically.  And that is no slight on those who live there today – it is actually a compliment in that they have preserved their parish magnificently whilst still keeping in tandem with the modern world.”

I wonder if Kieran has always enjoyed writing. When did it begin? “From my schooldays I always enjoyed writing, especially creative writing.  However, I always hated reading out loud or speaking in public – even to this day I have ‘issues’ with these aspects of communication.   I used to really enjoy composing English essays in Secondary School – but then, to my horror – the teachers used to make me read my compositions out loud in front of my classmates.  I still have nightmares about that!  As a result, I ended up purposely writing bad essays, so that I would not have to recite them!  That is one of the reasons I held a low-key launch of my book – I avoided having to publicly read a passage.”

Surely such an avid reader has to have favourites. “I have always enjoyed the classics from the Brontes and Thomas Hardy as they vividly describe the surrounding landscape and local landmarks,” said Kieran, “From the initial feedback I have received from readers, the people of Mayo are enjoying reading about Croagh Patrick, The Nephin Mountains, Achill Island, The Inishkea Islands, The Mullet Peninsula – all of which feature in my novel.”

‘Wuthering Heights’ still remains unsurpassed as my favourite book of all time – even after the arrival of ‘The Boys of Ballycroy’!

What caught his interest in self-publishing? “To dip my toe in the water I contacted a number of publishing houses and to be honest, most of them had an ‘auto-reply’ type response saying they would take ‘at least three months to respond’ or ‘we are currently over-subscribed for Irish fiction.’  This ‘don’t call us – we’ll call you’ attitude was not for a good old typically ultra-efficient Public Servant like me (!) so it was such a relief to discover the self-publishing option.”

How did he find the self-publishing process? “Amazingly efficient.  The team in Cork were excellent.  They clearly set out what they do and also (just as important) what they do not do.  As a result, I had a large say in deadlines and in volumes printed, and all of the staff were so adaptable.   They were always ready with helpful tips or advice and were very supportive at all times.  It is a great comfort to know I can always contact them with a query.”

I asked Kieran if this is the end of something, or just the beginning. What’s next? “It is a great source of enjoyment to me to see the reaction to my story,” he replied, “I’ve seen so many smiles in the past few months, so I’m soaking all of that in for the moment.  I am very proud to see my book on display in bookshops that I have frequented for so many years. My only regret is that my grandparents are not around to see it – but I am truly fortunate that my parents are. Nothing definite has yet been decided, but I would like my next book to be about modern day Limerick, the city that has been very good to me.  And of course if I get enough encouragement from people whose opinion I value, I will do a follow-up to what I have just published – perhaps ‘The Girls of Ballycroy’!”

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Irish Poetry with Sean O’Muimhneachan

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Sean O’Muimheachan, a primary teacher in Macroom, printed with Selfpublishbooks.ie a casebound book of his poetry. I had a quick chat with Sean and asked him where it all began.

“I was born and reared in a rural Gaeltacht area, Gaeltacht Mhúscraí,” said Sean, “and received my primary and secondary education in that area; I’ve
spent all my working life there. Very boring you might say! Not at all.
This is an area of natural beauty, steeped in history and culture and with
plenty of sporting and cultural activity throughout the year. We are within
easy reach of bus and train services and within an hour’s journey of two
international airports. But those things never bothered me growing up in
this area as there was always plenty to do.”

Sean was happy to relate how he first became interested in writing: “This locality has long been famous for its writers, poets and singers and
it was only natural that I would become acquainted with their work as I
grew up. Songs and poems were composed about many local happenings,
these being mostly humorous songs, but many more serious poets were
also at work, producing works that were to earn for them national fame.

“Seán Ó Ríordáin and Séamas Ó Céileachair are two who immediately
come to mind. Then there were the writers like An tÁth, Peadar Ó
Laoghaire and Dónall Bán Ó Céileachair, who preserved the richness of
the local dialect in their writings. Perhaps it was only natural that I would
begin to dabble in such pursuits as I grew to understand the importance of
such things in our society.”

How does work fit into all this? “Being a Primary Teacher, I often composed poems to fit in with topics in
the curriculum when suitable poems were not available or for use in stage
shows or drama competitions. Dámhscoil Mhúscraí provided the impetus
to practise my poetry skills and I have for many years participated in
this annual poetry session.

“I’ve been a regular attendant at Oireachtas na
Gaeilge and Fleadhanna Ceoil also, both of which hold competitions for
newly composed songs. This provided the incentive to write and compete,
which I have done for many years with limited success. Having heard
suggestions from many that I should publish some of my works, I decided
the time was right when I retired from teaching and so Gleanntán an
Aoibhnis began to take shape.”

I was curious to know what a reader can expect from Sean’s book. “The reader will find that the songs are predominantly humorous songs
and I must admit to enjoying writing such songs,” he admits with a smile, “When a good line comes
together it gives me a giggle of satisfaction and I hope it also brings a
smile to the face of the reader.

“Having said this, I am well aware that a
serious song or poem is usually of a far better quality than a frivolous
one. I have also written a few of those, both in Irish and in English. It’s
easy to draw a laugh but the song that draws a tear strikes closer to the
heart.”

So once he put all the words together, it was only a matter of finding where to put them between a book cover. Sean has already given a wonderful testimonial, but I was curious as to how he found self-publishing: “This was my first experience of publishing and, having approached Bard
na nGleann in Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh, I was put in touch with Lettertec
in Carrigtwohill. I was facing the unknown.

“However, I was given every
assistance and advice and Elaine Barry, who was in charge of design, was
most efficient, helpful and patient. Anything that needed to be changed or
corrected was attended to without fuss and her advice on layout, font, etc.,
was invaluable. The finished product more than I could have wished for,
a most professional package, and deadlines were met promptly.”

What’s in store for Mr O’Muimhneachan now? “At the moment I don’t have any other plans for publishing,” he says, “but who
knows what the future may hold!”

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Young At Heart

Phil with Minister Kathleen Lynch and Frank Kelly of Lettertec

Young at Heart – a Celebration of Ten Years is a compilation by Phil Goodman which chronicles the activities of a group of volunteers in the Douglas area who meet on a weekly basis and call themselves ‘Young at Heart’. The book was launched at St Columbas Hall, Douglas, Cork on November 26th by Kathleen Lynch, Minister with special responsibility for the elderly, pictured above with Frank Kelly of Selfpublishbooks.ie and Phil Goodman.

This group was formed by Phil ten years ago who saw the need to focus attention on the ageing members of the community in Douglas and has since evolved from the regular weekly social night in St. Columba’s Hall, to the formation of the Douglas Care Ring that has been set up to care for the needs of the elderly people living in the Douglas area.

The book charts the Young at Heart groups activities over the past ten years from visiting Áras an Uachtarán and Dáil Éireann to  Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament in London. It details the various weekly activities that the group enjoy such as Bowls, Bingo and visiting Douglas Community School to learn basic computer skills.  There is no end to what this group can do!

In her own words, Phil explains why the group was formed, “We all need meaningful interaction with other people.  There was a need for this age group to meet and socialise together to keep them young and active.  This was the genesis of the name Young at Heart.”

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Kilclooney Woods by Micheal O’h-Aonghusa

Kilclooney Woods Cover Final

Last week, Selfpublishbooks.ie printed Micheal O’hAonghusa’s new book, Kilclooney Woods,  a brief history of Fenianism and the events of 1867 in East Cork. I had a quick chat with Micheal and asked him if he had always wanted to write.

“I have never been into writing,” says Micheal, “but I have always been into history, and especially local history. I was involved for years in Republican politics, and at the age of 23 (I am now 76) I was organising commemorations of Peter O’Neill-Crowley at Kilclooney Wood. That wasn’t surprising, as I was born just a stones throw from there, and in a little corner of Ireland that always had more than its own share of rebels.”

I asked Micheal who he counts amoung his influences. “In history books, Anthony Beevor is the master. In travel books, I have read everything by our own Dervla Murphy from Lismore.”

How did the book come about? “In 1967 (the 100th anniversary) it was suggested to me that I should write a book on the subject, and I commenced collecting stuff, doing interviews etc. But marriage, five children, and trying to put food on the table was more than sufficient challenge at that time. My interest of course never waned, and I continued to collect anything at all that would be relevant.”

So it is safe to say then, that Micheal has always been an amateur historian. “Oh, yes, I devour books on history,” he says, “At this time, it would only be second to my interest in travel, and travel writing. Last autumn I was rooting about the attic and came across a huge box of paper clippings and other memorabilia about Kilclooney Wood and Peter O’Neill-Crowley that I had collected over the years. Thinking about my age, it dawned on me that if I died that day, the whole thing  would be in the refuse container the following week. So there and then I decided that if I was spared for another year, I would spend 2012 writing the book, and that is what I did.”

I asked Micheal what parts he enjoyed writing the most. “I can’t say that I “enjoyed” any of it! But I was surprised at how easy it came to me once I had laid out the framework. It is my first printed book, but as manager of Mitchelstown Credit Union, I had published a high quality Annual Report every year, for 26 years.”

How did Micheal hear about self-publishing? “From my son, Sean, who lives in Midleton, where
presumably he had heard about Lettertec. Early on, I visited the Lettertec website, and of course it was exactly what I was looking for. It was that, more than anything else, that encouraged me to proceed. It had all the elements that I was looking for, high quality, small print runs and a bit of hand holding.”

How was the finished product? “Even better that I had visualised it. The historian (John J. Hassett) that did the launch described it as a work of art.”

What’s next? More writing? “Six months ago, I would have said “never again”. The one thing that could precipitate
another is how easy the actual production was. With Lettertec, I’m also including Shelley O’Reilly and Joanne Buckley.”

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Radio Blaa Blaa by Brian Kennedy

Brian Kennedy’s first book, Confessions of an Exeter City Nut, was self-published before being taken up by a small publisher in England. His 2011 book, Just Follow the Floodlights was published by Liffey Press and went to No.1 on Amazon’s English Football League Bestseller List on 4 different occasions. I caught up with Brian to talk about his new memoir, Radio Blaa Blaa.

Brian was a man born with a pen in his hand: “I’ve always been writing one thing or another from an early age. I used to do a football magazine called ‘Blow It Up Ref!’ for my Waterford Junior League Division 4 Club, Kilbarry Rangers. It always gave the lads a laugh, which helped after the beatings we used to get!”

So how long has Radio Blaa Blaa been in the works? How did it begin? “I wrote it in about six months,” Brian says, “When I put my mind to something, I keep at it until the project is finished. ‘Radio Blaa Blaa’ was no different to any other publication of mine in that respect. I started the project, set a date to finish and worked within those boundaries.

“It was a disc jockey who had inspired me to write the book. Colin Kennedy is a family friend and happened to have been part of the whole pirate radio scenario in the early eighties. I was a bit iffy about whether it could be done, let alone successful, but to date it’s my fastest selling book ever!”

I asked Brian what he enjoyed writing the most in his memoir and why: “Nostalgia is a wonderful thing. It’s the file that takes the rough edges off of yesteryear. It’s something everyone goes back to time and time again. Sometimes all we have is the past when the future looks bleak. It was for this reason I really enjoyed writing the book, going back to a time that’s brought many, many wonderful memories.”

Brian is no stranger to self-publishing, but I was curious as to why he chose it again. “For Just Follow the Floodlights, I had a publicist, graphic designer and a book distributed all over Ireland by Gill & McMillian, but I actually enjoy the self-publish route just as much. That way you’re judge, jury & executioner on everything.

“To be honest I knew the chances of getting published at first where Bob Hope and No Hope! I just wanted to get my books on the shelf of my local bookstore. I think self-publishing is a lot of fun. You’re dealing with the front cover on your own terms , the content on your own terms, without an editor to say ‘Take this, that, and the other out’. Nobody knows better than the author themselves I feel. Yes sometimes they need a guiding hand but I never liked anyone telling me the way to go. I had a good publisher in Liffey Press who listened to me about the front page, the content and the price. I didn’t budge on a single thing! And it worked as I got my way, which has proven a success.”

So why self-publishing in the first place? “To be honest at first it was a step into the unknown. I’d either had my books published or had used my local printer and that had been a happy union. However, money became an issue which brought me to the lads at Selfpublishbooks.ie. I’ve got an astounding piece of work made, more so for the price which is simply the best in Ireland and trust me I’ve checked. The quality is fantastic.”

Was a writing career always on the cards for you? “I’ve never been to a writing class, barely passed English in my Leaving Cert and hardly ever go to book launches. I don’t run in those circles. It’s just never interested me. I laugh sometimes at the grants handed out to some writers – I remember three Irish writers getting a combined grant of €30,000 euro between them for Irish language books a couple of years ago and selling exactly 64 books between them. There a lot of pompousness involved. There is this need of acceptance. That getting a publishing contract means they have ‘made it’. Did I make it when I got my publishing contract? Yes I did….for 2 euro a copy! That’s the reality.”

I asked Brian what’s next – or has he had enough of writing? “Well if I finish a book before 2014 it will have been 10 books in 10 years. Mind you I’m running out of subject matters! Yes I get tired of writing, and I can’t see myself doing it forever, but when I see the joy it brings to people, who tell me so, then it makes it all worth while.”

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