Thursday 18 October 2018

SiarScéal Festival 2018 featuring Beneath Western Skies exhibition

SiarScéal Festival 2018 brochure
SiarScéal Festival 2018
The annual SiarScéal Festival takes place this weekend (Friday and Saturday, 19-20 October) and, this year, showcases a special photographic and poetry exhibition entitled Beneath Western Skies, celebrating seascapes, lakes and landscapes of the breathtaking County Sligo. The exhibition is already on view at Roscommon County Library HQ in Roscommon Town and will be until Tuesday, 24 October.

Also headlining at this year's festival will be Faye Boland, whose debut collection of poems, Peripheral, takes its title from her overall winning entry at last year's Hanna Greally International Literary Awards, which run, most years, as part of the festival. The Awards are on hiatus this year however, a selection of entries from last year accompanies the photographs featured in Beneath Western Skies exhibition.

A writing workshop with author and poet, Mary Branley on the Friday is another reason to go along while, musical performances and the always popular open mike session to close the festival on the Saturday. The full details for this year's festival have been posted online and also available to download.

The festival is open to the public and anyone interested in performing their work is asked to contact the organisers by text or SMS to Int+353+(0)86 1649756.

SiarScéal is an annual community festival based in Roscommon and Roscommon County Council Library Services have sponsored this event, along with The Manuscript Publisher and AIB. Photographers and poets from surrounding areas have generously allowed their work to be displayed and performed, including Ann Joyce, who has been a friend of SiarScéal since its inception.

Tuesday 11 September 2018

Book Launch: Peripheral by Faye Boland

Poetry with a Power to Connect

Peripheral by Faye Boland is the author's debut collection of poems, to be formally launched at Tralee Library in Co. Kerry on Saturday, 22 September, starting 2.30pm.

Peripheral by Faye Boland
Faye Boland's poetry has been described as "a happy combination of musical lyricism and intellectual subtlety" by well-known Irish poet and novelist, Brendan Kennelly.

The poem from which this collection takes its title was Overall Winner at the 2017 Hanna Greally International Literary Awards, organised as part of the annual SiarScéal Festival in Co. Roscommon. It is also from this that the present volume results, as the prize, on this occasion, was for the winner to have his or her book published professionally by The Manuscript Publisher, an Irish-based publishing services provider.

In her citation of Boland's winning entry, the adjudicator at the awards, Mary Melvin Geoghegan, drew attention to the author's "economy and freshness of language", which she describes as "riveting – words forming as scaffold to arrest the eye and ear" –
My roof is the sky,
the wind my walls.
Every night, it blows
the same words:

Poet, Eileen Sheehan describes Boland's poetry, "recounted from an eclectic range of perspectives", as charting "a restless search for home, for purpose in an era when people feel increasingly disconnected from their own sense of worth."

So, where does one find that sense of self-worth? From our ability to connect is one place to start looking, this collection of poetry might appear to suggest: the ability to receive and to acknowledge human distress signals, rather than trying to shut them out. Also, from the pleasure to be found in the mundane, reminding us that we are all somehow connected, no matter how dispersed and disparate our lives become.

Peripheral by Faye Boland is published by The Manuscript Publisher. It is on sale now and available to buy online, as well as from other outlets. RRP €12 plus P&P.

The book will be formally launched at Tralee Library, Co. Kerry on Saturday, 22 September, starting 2.30pm.

Faye Boland will also be performing her work and giving readings at the following public events and venues during autumn 2018:
  • Irish Writers Centre, Parnell Square, Dublin 1 – Thursday, 27 September @ 6.30pm
  • Carnegie Arts Centre, Kenmare – Friday, 28 September @ 8pm
  • Kinsale Literary Festival – Sunday, 7 October @ 3pm
  • Limerick Writers Centre, The Poetry Circle, Nelly’s Cafe, Nicholas Street, Limerick – Thursday, 18 October @ 7.30pm
  • SiarScéal Festival, Roscommon Library, Abbey Street, Roscommon Town – Saturday, 20 October @ 12pm

Tuesday 22 May 2018

Portraits of the Past by Michael Whelton: a collection of bittersweet tales

Portraits of the Past by Michael Whelton
Life, death and all things in between, including the decisions that we make or have thrust upon us; how we face the consequences and how we allow those consequences to shape our destinies. Such are the narratives that emerge in Portraits of the Past, a collection of short stories and flash fiction from Michael Whelton, which has just been published.

Poignant moments and personal epiphanies are skilfully captured in collection of bittersweet tales that are usually self-contained but often hinting at a larger story. The stories themselves are told with honesty, candour and a sense of humour that always shines through, even as the characters portrayed themselves seem to dwell in a certain twilight.
"She caressed the faded ribbon and thought of returning it to the secret drawer. Realising that this would only perpetuate the dream, she tenderly dropped it. The love knot burned, closing an unfulfilled chapter in her life."
Carefully crafted and written with keen observation and rare insight, the author's style is inviting. In the end, we are left with a powerful sense of the intensity of living in this world, coupled with an understanding of what it means to be alive within the context of it.

Michael Whelton is a retired medical doctor who has lived and worked in Cork for most of his life but, has also travelled extensively. Both of these circumstances are reflected in his writings. It could be said that, much like what Joyce did for Dublin, Michael Whelton does for his own native city, with his naturalistic depictions that allow for time to stand still just long enough to afford the reader a glimpse inside.

Portraits of the Past by Michael Whelton is published by The Manuscript Publisher. It is available to buy online. RRP €9.99 plus P&P.

Thursday 10 May 2018

It's Written in Concrete by Seamus Kelly

Positive News Journalism for the 21st Century

A new book by veteran journalist, Seamus Kelly, soon to be launched, addresses both the challenges and opportunities that modern media presents, not just in terms of the form (e.g. how news is delivered) but also in terms of content (how news is presented and reported).

In a world of spiralling, almost out-of-control negative media, Seamus Kelly tackled the sensationalised press portrayals by creating and producing a more sensitive, positive journalistic style of news reporting. His reporting of positive news stories in Ireland's national and regional press, including his own Ballymun Concrete News newspaper, introduces a new concept in journalism.

Is the modern media world open to Seamus Kelly's new concept of positive news and prepared to steer clear of the sensationalised, negative, grizzly, horrific, front-page, in-your-face tabloid press stories?

His book, It's Written in Concrete, shows his successful journey in battling against the odds to have his positive news stories, not only published in his own newspaper but also accepted and reported in national and regional newspapers. Much of this happened against the background of Ballymun's urban re-development programme, the largest of its kind to be initiated in the history of the Irish State.

Seamus' positive stories, over the years, have been widely publicised. He hopes this book will help to stimulate debate in media circles and lead to a different outlook in the reporting of both negative and positive news, in which consideration for their effects on readers and society in general will be of paramount importance.

"Positive news, incorporated into everyday news reporting," Seamus says, "will have a feel-good effect on readers, acting as a force for community regeneration in the long-term, by presenting to the world a more powerful, positive news media."

It's Written in Concrete by Seamus Kelly is published by The Manuscript Publisher and available to buy online as well as certain bookshops. RRP €14.99 plus P&P.

The book will be formally launched at Axis Arts & Community Resource Centre, Ballymun on 7 June, starting 7pm. Admission is free but those interested in attending are asked to RSVP Axis, who can be contacted by phone – 01 8832100 and 8832120.

Saturday 5 May 2018

The Lesser-Known Karl Marx (1818-1883)

Karl Marx, 1836
Public Domain, Link
Karl Heinrich Marx was born on this day in 1818, in the German town of Trier. As on previous occasions, the anniversary is being celebrated around the world – a reflection of the enormity of his influence, which seems to grow exponentially with each succeeding generation and all the more so every time he is 'ridiculed' and 'proved wrong'.

Taking time out from all of that therefore, we thought that we would use the occasion of his 200th anniversary to reflect on some of the lesser known aspects of Marx's literary output and activities. Just as his writings include subject matter that is wide-ranging and all-embracing, the German philosopher, economist, historian, political theorist, all-round man of letters, lent his talents, during his lifetime, to a variety of literary styles. He was, by turns, an academic, journalist, pamphleteer, in addition to what might be regarded as his primary career, as political agitator and organiser. His literary style is, perhaps, most noteworthy for a unique ability to clarify and demystify even the most complex, weighty and serious of issues.

What might come as a surprise therefore, is that, among his earliest canon of writings, he also found time to work on that which, for someone of his talents, might appear trivial. By 1837, we are told, when he still had not reached his 20th year, Marx was working a short novel, Scorpion and Felix, a drama, Oulanem, as well as a number of love poems, dedicated to his childhood sweetheart and future wife, Jenny von Westphalen.

Scorpion and Felix is described as " A Humoristic Novel", thought to be inspired, or at least influenced by The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Irish novelist, Laurence Sterne (1713-1768). The work was never completed and only fragments of it remain. It has been suggested that parts of the novel could have been burned by Marx himself, along with other of his early works. Those fragments that did survive were included as a supplement to his Book of Verse (1837).

Oulanem is a drama or poetic play written by Karl Marx in 1839, during his years as a student. The action takes place in a mountain town in Italy. It is available to read online at Marxist Internet Archive, along with other of Marx's early writings.

Marx's early writing are also available, in English, as part of Volume 1 of Marx-Engels Collected Works, published by Lawrence & Wishart (a self-described independent and radical publishing house) in 1975. A digital version of this collection has since been made available to university libraries, through Project Muse.

This circumstance however, appears to have given rise to some dispute. In 2014, Lawrence & Wishart required Marxists Internet Archive to take down work over which it claims copyright! Marxists Internet Archive have countered by arguing that "the reaction of the 'Marxist community' at large has been wholly negative to the actions — completely legal — by L&W".

Wednesday 14 March 2018

Irish-born Philosopher, John Toland (1670-1722), Commemorated Online

John Toland (1670-1722)

– Irish-born rationalist philosopher and freethinker –

John Toland image
A new website dedicated to the life and work of the philosopher, John Toland (b. 1670), was launched last Sunday, 11 March (the anniversary of his death in 1722).

John Toland was Irish-born rationalist philosopher and freethinker of the early Enlightenment period. He made important contributions to the various fields of philosophy – in what today would be regarded as both the natural and social sciences. "If you would know more of him, search his writings," he wrote in a self-penned epitaph that appeared following his death.

The purpose of of this web-based project, say the organisers, is to serve as a free, online resource and repository of knowledge pertaining to Toland, his writings, the times in which he lived and to the social movement that he, along with others, spearheaded and represented, with particular reference to the enduring legacy and effect.
There is a lot that has been said about John Toland and probably a lot more that could be said. This web-based project will serve the purpose of ensuring that nothing that should be said will go unsaid. This is also why we are making the material posted to this website freely available and open to anyone who may wish to contribute. Furthermore, we invite those who may wish to contribute to get in touch with us.

The unveiling of the website on the anniversary of Toland's death is not coincidental. "In fact, the date has been deliberately chosen ..."
The 350th anniversary of Toland's birth will be observed on 30 November 2020 and the 300th anniversary of his death falls less than two years later, in 2022. We particularly encourage anyone who has an interest in these anniversaries to get in touch with us, to ensure that they are properly observed and accorded the respect that they are due. We will do our best (without fear or favour) to publicise events that are taking place, using networks and channels of communication within our reach.

John Toland commemoration, Ardagh, Co. Donegal
John Toland (1670-1722) website is owned and managed by The Manuscript Publisher, an Irish-based publishing services provider who have published, or otherwise made available, several works by or relating to John Toland, including J.N. Duggan's short biography Ireland's Forgotten Philosopher, Scholar ... and Heretic.

They go on to specify however that "this is not intended as an advertisement or an endorsement. Furthermore, we welcome correspondence from authors, publishers, educationalists, historical societies, groups and individuals who might see some aspect of their own interest or remit reflected in this initiative."

Persons interested in this web project are invited to keep in touch. Visit the website to subscribe, using the facilities that are available such as, by signing up for e-mail alerts. You can also follow on Facebook and on Twitter.

Thursday 8 March 2018

Book Launch: Would You Believe? by Dezi Jay M

Would You Believe? by Dezi Jay M

– a collection of morality tales told with underlying comedic intent –

Would You Believe? by Dezi Jay M (the author's fourth published outing to date) will be formally launched on Thursday, 15 March at Parnell's GAA Club in Coolock Village, Dublin, starting 7.30pm.

The author's offering is a collection of morality tales, told mostly through verse and delivered with impeccable comedic judgement and effect. The author displays a craftsman-like knack for word play, colourfully illustrating the problems and predicaments drawn from everyday life, which are rarely black and white.

Dezi Jay M says that he grew up in a world that seemed confusing. Neither he, his parents, his teachers, nor anyone else were aware that he was autistic. Today he has come to acknowledge his Asperger's as a gift. He looks at life from a clearer perspective, allowing him to express his sense of humour in a healthy environment.
"Some say life is a gamble. I would prefer to say that in life, one may take risks. Much of my work is about people going through difficult situations and turning it around. Each poem, each story has a meaning to it, has a consequence. It has vindication and most importantly, the essence of Love."

Dezi Jay M is an author, actor, performing poet (AAPP) who lives and works in Dublin, Ireland. His writing reflects themes and personal preoccupations with issues related to alcoholism and addiction, homelessness, church and state and the state of the world in general. Previous publications include, The Day the Poppy Met the Shamrock (2014), The Resurrection of Peter (2015), Legacies (2016). He is currently working on a volume of memoirs that he intends to have ready for publication shortly. Further information about his literary and other activities can be found at his website –

Would You Believe? by Dezi Jay M is on sale now and available to buy online (RRP €12.99 plus P&P), along with the author's other publications. It will also be on sale on the night of the launch (Thursday, 15 March) at Parnell's GAA Club, Coolock Village, Dublin. Entertainment and light refreshments will be provided. Doors open at 7.30pm and everyone is welcome.

A sample or teaser edition has already been published and is available to download for free.

Monday 5 March 2018

Read an Ebook Week Sale Runs March 4-10

It's Read an e-Book Week 2018 all this week until midnight (depending on where in the world you are, of course) on Saturday, 10 March. Once again, thousands of titles are deeply discounted along with some that are free!

To participate, simply visit the Smashwords storefront and look for the titles that are to your liking and being offered at discounts ranging from 25%, 50%, 75% and even 100%. Tell your friends about it too.

Authors and independent publishers who have published on Smashwords can participate in this promotion by following the simply laid-out guidelines and instructions.

If you have not yet published on Smashwords (the world's largest retailer of independently published e-titles), there is still time but you'll want to get moving if you intend participating in this site-wide promotion. Sign up to Smashwords to create an account then, upload your pre-formatted files for e-book conversion – for this, you will want to refer to the Smashwords Style Guide by Mark Coker, which is available from Smashwords (appropriately enough) and also free to download (all year round, not just during Read an e-Book Week).

If you are an author or independent publisher but e-publishing is foreign territory to you, then you are probably facing into steep learning curve. Unless you are fast learner, you may want to talk to the professionals, in this area, many of whom are more than willing to offer you free consultations and advise you on the road ahead. The Manuscript Publisher, to take just one example, is a publishing services provider that has expert advice to offer in this area. (In the interest of transparency and full disclosure, they also operate this website – read more... ).

In any event, don't worry too much if you miss out on this year's Read and e-Book Week promotion. It is an annual event, now in its tenth year (ninth, according to the organisers but it looks like they have lost count) and will surely run again next year, in 2019, most likely during the first week in March.

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Pierre Boulle (1912-1994): Literary Luminary of the Silver Screen

The following article, re-posted from Planets of the Apes website, on the occasion of French author, Pierre Boulle's birthday, also comes in the 50th anniversary year of the 1968 motion picture, Planet of the Apes, adapted from Boulle's original novel, La Planète des singes (1963)

Pierre Boulle.jpg
By Source (WP:NFCC#4),
Fair use, Link
Pierre Boulle, novelist and short story writer, was born on this day in Avignon, France, in 1912.

An engineer by profession, who worked as a technician on British rubber plantations in Malaya during the 1930s, he joined the Free French Forces under Charles de Gaulle upon the outbreak of World War II. He worked with resistance movements in China, Burma, French Indochina until his capture, in 1943, by Vichy France loyalists on the Mekong River. He was imprisoned and subjected to severe hardship and forced labour, which he would later write about in the form of a highly successful autobiographical novel, Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai.

After the war, Boulle resumed his previous occupation for a time but, by 1949, had returned to his native France, living in Paris where he sought to make a name for himself as a writer. The success of his literary output is overshadowed only by the success achieved by adaptations of his work for cinema. Today, his reputation rest chiefly on two works, The Bridge over the River Kwai (first published in French, in 1952, as Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai) and Planet of the Apes (first published in French, in 1963, as La Planète des singes), both of which were made into award-winning films by Hollywood studios.

The Bridge on the River Kwai poster.jpg
By Source, Fair use, Link
The Bridge on the River Kwai (as the film adaptation was called) garnered considerable success, winning seven Academy Awards in 1958. However, this was to prove a mere precursor to the sensation that Planet of the Apes would become – and to the surprise of no one more than Boulle himself, who puzzled over how the book could ever be adapted to the format demanded by cinema and, in any case, apparently considered the novel to be one of his lesser works. The idea is said to have originated with a trip to the zoo, watching and observing how animals and primates in particular, behaved.

By Source, Fair use, Link
The screenplay for the motion picture deviates in many respects from the novel yet, retains all of the essential elements, including what The Guardian newspaper described as "classic science fiction ... full of suspense and satirical intelligence", in its review of the novel when it first appeared.

The planet in the novel is a different planet to Earth although, the ending is not without a wry, sardonic twist [a double twist, in factEditor], emulated only by the climactic finale evoked by Rod Serling and Charlton Heston in the film adaptation. Furthermore, the apes whom the astronauts from present-day Earth encounter, inhabit a civilised milieu though, one that is not without contradictions, including a certain capacity for casual cruelty.

Pierre Boulle died in Paris, France on 30 January 1994, aged 81. His total literary output amounts to some 30 novels and short story collections. A website dedicated to his life and work is operated by «Les amis de l'œuvre de Pierre Boulle».

Friday 16 February 2018

Why Did They Lie? by Jack Kiernan. Shadowy Events of the Irish Civil War 1922-23

Why Did They Lie? by Jack Kiernan

– The Irish Civil War, The Truth, Where and When it all Began –

A new book about the Irish Civil War (1922-23) uncovers shadowy events that took place, shedding important light on the very origins of that conflict, where and when it began. It also offers an assessment that challenges certain assumptions about the course of events, the personalities and leadership dynamics involved.

Most people, with any knowledge of Irish history, know that hostilities in the Irish Civil War commenced with the move, by the Provisional Government, to take the Four Courts in Dublin (held by anti-Treaty forces) towards the end of June 1922. But, most people would be wrong! That is the view of Jack Kiernan, who sets out to investigate the roots of a tragic and bitter conflict, that proceeded apace with the emergence of independent Irish statehood.

Growing up in an Irish Midlands town, Jack Kiernan remembers being told by his teachers that "if anything of importance happened in Mullingar, it would have been recorded."

Bullet holes remnants in the walls of prominent local buildings seemed to give lie to these bland assertions, as did the recollections of older neighbours, alluding to "the shooting of unarmed prisoners during the Civil War."

What he only discovered, much later, was that events of, not just local but national significance had taken place in the town where he grew up. What's more, they had been recorded, only to be buried deep within the archives – almost as if they had been deliberately covered up!

The evidence that he reveals here, confirms that open hostilities between pro- and anti-treaty forces were already in place, throughout the country, early in 1922 and prior to the events in Dublin. Furthermore, gun battles took place in the town of Mullingar during the month of April 1922, resulting in deaths. Evidence also suggests that British forces, though officially withdrawn, may have fired the first shots.

The events of the Irish Civil War (1922-1923) have cast a long shadow over Irish life. This book sheds important light on a dark chapter in Irish history; a contribution towards the debate that surely must accompany the centenaries of these events, which are now just around the corner.

Why Did They Lie? by Jack Kiernan is published by The Manuscript Publisher and available to buy online, as well as from certain bookshops. For further information, visit the author's website.

Saturday 27 January 2018

The New World of Spike and Friends by Samantha Robinson

Prepare to be amazed, shocked and dragged along with one of the most original books written for our world of today. True messages of Divine are brought to us all in this book. Samantha's visions and dreams are all mixed into one of the most unique and clever story lines ever written. A mixed book of fictional and amazingly true events in one woman's life. In our modern of world today one woman brings to life old forgotten Biblical messages.

The New World of Spike and Friends by Samantha Robinson is available to buy online, in print and e-book editions. Further information (including synopsis, sample chapters) is available from the publisher's website.

Thursday 25 January 2018

Reflections by Verona Pentony: popular poetry series now available in Kindle editions

Reflections from the Heart by Verona Pentony The Reflections series by Verona Pentony, two volumes of poetry previously available only in print editions, have just been made published in Kindle. Furthermore, they will be free to download on Amazon this coming weekend, from Thursday 25th to Monday, 29th January.

Reflections of Time by Verona Pentony Verona Pentony is a poet with a love of humanity and of nature: a love nurtured and distilled from her childhood experiences growing up on a farm in north Co. Dublin and from summer holidays in Co. Leitrim.

Spirituality, political events, leadership and world peace are among the chief concerns and abiding themes of her poetry. In making her work available for free in this manner (on a once-off, limited basis), she looks forward to feedback from readers who might be interested in her views on peace and reconciliation in the world today: maybe have their own thoughts and expressions that they would like to share. She is, as she says, inspired by the experiences of life – her own and other people's.

Reflections from the Heart (published in 2012) and Reflections of Time (2014) have gone through several re-prints since initial publication and have received praise from many quarters:
"Verona has truly captured the essence of life in Reflections of Time and Reflections from the Heart. Her words drive home the important things in life and cause us all to reflect and re-evaluate what's right in front of us and what's important."Lesley Everett, Personal Branding Coach and Speaker

Now, both titles are available to a much wider public audience.

Further information about Verona's future writing, publishing and public performances will be posted to her recently launched website. In the meantime, sample her work for free, for a limited time only, by downloading the Kindle editions on Amazon, between Thursday 25th and Monday 29th January.

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