It’s natural, when entering a new year, to look back at the previous twelve months and I must say, 2013 was a very positive year for me.  In January, I took on the role of Clonea and Rathgormack Correspondent for The Munster Express and was also asked to read at Waterford Writers’ Weekend.  In March, I taught some creative writing workshops and prepared for my reading.  Of course, I hadn’t prepared for a cold which weakened my voice considerably.  Luckily, there was a microphone on the day and my voice had recovered a little. Armed with a bottle of water and a wide selection of poetry from my four collections, I embraced the atmosphere of Waterford’s Bishop’s Palace, addressed the crowd and found the whole experience a real buzz!  I often respond well to big occasions.  I do get nervous, but once I make a start, I find the poems calm me and demand my best performance.  I don’t want to let them or the audience down.

The book
It\’s surprising how words, particularly when they have a rhythm, can be calming and carry you through the daunting task of reading them aloud!Dave Heuts / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

June was another great month.  International Flash Fiction Day took place on June 22nd and I had one story featured in The Flashflood Journal and another in Flash Mob 2013 – a blog carnival and competition.  I ended up making it to the last fifteen of the competition and the story, entitled ‘Old and Free’, has since been published in Metazen.

I didn’t have too many commitments in July and August, so I settled down to some quality writing time and enjoyed a visit from my parents, which coincided with the heatwave.  The extreme weather conditions inspired me to write a piece of Flash Fiction called: ‘After the Heat’.  This went on to appear in Number Eleven Magazine.  In August,  I had a short story accepted by ‘The Bohemyth’.  The story had been through several drafts, so I was happy to see it finished and published after all the torment of getting it right!

In September, my husband and I headed off on a West Cork adventure.  We stayed one night in Schull, where we dipped our toes into the Harvest Moon Music Festival.   Our first stop was to see a band called Mongoose, a quirky blend of Jazz and Folk, with a beautifully rich sound.  We also took the opportunity to meet up with one of my Twitter-pals, Elizabeth Rose Murray and her husband Mick, which was delightful.  The next day, Elizabeth showed us around local bookshop, ‘Whyte Books’ before we hit the road and discovered Mizen Head, Barley Cove and Glengariff.  Shortly after our return home, I found out that my flash fiction piece, ‘Words’ had been selected for the 99 Fiction shortlist, and this blog had made the Arts and Culture shortlist for Blog Awards Ireland.  So it was smiles all round!

My sister came to stay in October and we had fun, eating much cake and knocking back coffees (slightly healthier than shots)!  We went to Swiss Cottage and Cahir Castle, where I managed to walk into a stone arch and felt my brain shake!  It was actually surprisingly restful, as my usually rowdy thoughts went very quiet . . .  Later on that month, I met with Grace Wells for a mentoring session and we discussed further involvement in the arts community, submission opportunities and my novel idea.  I found the session very useful for drawing up a list of goals.

November led me home to Wales and family.  It was my Dad’s 80th birthday and I hadn’t been home all year so it was a really special time.  Hubs and I were very good and bought all the Christmas presents for my side of the family, then I wrapped them up and left them with Mum and Dad.  We enjoyed shopping in Hay-on-Wye (which inspired a poem) and in Mumbles.  I love individual shops with pretty bits and pieces, which are often hand-crafted.  I think they make the best presents, alongside books, of course!

Despite getting ill with a cold, throat infection and subsequently, an eye infection, 2013 continued to deliver surprises, right up until the end.  My poem, ‘Shiver’ was accepted by ‘And Other Poems’  and published in November and my poem ‘Off the Rails’ has found a home with ‘Ink Sweat and Tears’ and will appear later this year.  I’m also looking forward to seeing ‘Back Home’ feature in The Seventh Quarry this February.  Ooh, and I almost forgot to mention how much I enjoyed reading at Greyfriars Municipal Art Gallery, Waterford, with Eve Marie Power and Kevin Connelly, just before Christmas.

Now that’s it’s January, I am, of course, full of new plans.  I’m looking forward to teaching more creative writing workshops in Waterford and Clonmel and I hope to attend a few literary events in Cork and Dublin – now that my husband and I have a new (well, newer) and comfortable car, Ireland is our oyster!  I have a list of places to submit work to and a couple of competitions in mind.  I’m also working, very quietly,  on a novel so it looks like 2014 is shaping up to be another wonderful writing journey.  It turns out, you just have to get on board and never give up!

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