We're not Brazil, we're Northern Ireland

Now with just over 9 days left until the World Cup begins is a good time to start reading books about football. Not just any book but a book written by Stephen Rea. Who is Stephen Rea you may ask.
Stephen Rea, from Belfast, is a freelance writer based in New Orleans who has contributed to national and international newspapers, magazines, and Web sites for over twenty years. He has covered a range of news stories, from the Gulf War and terrorist attacks in London to the resignation of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Rea attended Campbell College in his hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland and studied journalism at the United Kingdom's National Council for the Training of Journalists.

Win a trip to Australia

The Daily Mirror competition read...
Win a trip to Australia with Adelaide Insurance Services To celebrate Geoff Hill and Colin O'Carroll's 15,000-mile motorbike ride across Australia, we've teamed up with motorcycle insurance services, Adeleide Insurance Services, to give you the chance to win the trip of a lifetime to Adeleide  Australia.This super prize is a travel voucher to the value of £3,500. For your chance to win, simply answer the question below and telephone or text in your answer, leaving your name, address and daytime telephone number. And it must be won by a reader of the Daily Mirror Northern Ireland edition Q.This prize is brought to you by which motorcycle insurance service provider?
Call 0901 293 0309 Text MIRRORS followed by a space and then your answer to 81108. Terms and conditions Entries cost £1...Lines close at midnight on May 31 2010...

He who laughs last...

Did you know?

The Last Laugh Award  for the best humorous crime novel first published in the British Isles in 2009  sponsored by Goldsboro Books went to top Northern Irish author Colin Bateman  for the book The Day of the Jack Russell

Now you do.

Busier than Cape Canaveral.

It looks like bookshops and cultural centres here in Northern Ireland have and will be busier than usual recently and it's not just because they're selling lots of local books, it's because the books they're selling have and will be launched recently. I am amazed that there are so many book launches by local authors and sadly I can't be at all the launches.

The poet David Agnew has two videos recorded at the launch of "Belfast via Bedlam" the first here and second can be found here. David’s writing is based on his own experience of the journey of recovery, now extending over more than twenty-one years. It is also informed by his long experience of working with the mentally ill, including those suffering from addiction problems.He firmly believes that, in recovery, we all travel a similar road, no matter where we begin.Following on from his previous books - Walking into Eternity and First I Dreamt the Journey - David, in this book, further explores the paths, pitfalls and signposts on the journey.The book is available from his website.

Guildhall Press, one of the mainstays of Derry’s cultural scene, is hosting a literary bash in Derry city centre on Thursday May 27 as part of its thirtieth birthday celebrations. The lunchtime show will take place at the Culture Centre on Waterloo Place, to mark the publishing house’s long-standing support for Derry’s City of Culture 2013 bid.

The debate continues...

As a cross-party group of MLAs take receipt of educators' report aimed at breaking the political impasse over academic selection,here's an opportunity for us to discuss this issue which has been in the news here in Northern Ireland for a while now. To help us get involved in the debate BooksNI.Com are offering a couple of free copies of the book Selection Challenged: The Case Against Selection for 11+.

Guildhall Press; Doing it for #derry2013

This Thursday Derry's City of Culture bid is to be delivered ahead of Friday’s submission deadline.Helping ginormously for this bid is Guildhall Press, who have been promoting Derry as a City of Culture for years now. From publishing novels by Dave Duggan and Felicity McCall and even links to performance poetry and all these stories making an appearance in the blogosphere over the last 5 years, I couldn't help but mention them again.As mentioned in CyberScroll back in November 2007...

...was founded in 1979 as a voluntary educational book-publishing trust by local school teacher, Ms Anne Murray. Its original aims were to research, write and publish all aspects of local history in an objective and factual way and to create a platform for reconciliation through education by publishing material that increased cross-community understanding and acceptance.
Since 1995, the scope of publications produced by Guildhall Press has changed from local history texts, to wider interest books concentrating on the history of the past thirty years in the north of Ireland, giving Guildhall Press the potential to operate in a larger market, whilst retaining its role as an active community organisation.

Hearken ye unto that weak chirping sound

books_ni is on twitter and if you don't like twitter you can keep updated with the books_ni "tweets" on your RSS Reader by subscribing here and if it's the books_ni favourites it's here

Recent tweets...
  • Irish Pages - The Up-and-Coming Reading - Thursday 20 May 2010 7.30 pm - The Black Box,Cathedral Quarter, Belfast. http://ht.ly/1MbLw

King of the Roads

I can't believe it's nearly ten years since the untimely death of Joey Dunlop.Today as the bikes race around the North West I'm sure it's not just bikers will remember Joey Dunlop and also his brother Robert, who also lost his life just two years ago.With the never ending respect and interest of the public it's good to see that the tenth-anniversary edition of the book Joey Dunlop: King of the Roads is packed with new material, including a new introduction by Stephen Davison. There is also a new chapter on the legacy of Joey Dunlop and previously unpublished photographs.
Joey Dunlop was born in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim on 25 February 1952. His ambition was to be a soldier, but all that changed when he purchased his first motorbike at the age of sixteen: he discovered his destiny.

A first for a writer from Northern Ireland.

I'm sure your remember reading last month about Gerry McCullough who was at Number 5 on the 28th April on the HarperCollins (publishers) website: authonomy.com The top 5 books on that list at midnight 2 days later were to be read by HarperCollins, with the possibility of a publishing deal for the authors. I kept checking and kept my fingers crossed hoping  that Gerry would have that opportunity and I'm glad to say she did. I asked her to tell me just what it was like for her...

The Authonomy Experience.
by Gerry McCullough

I got a brand new combine harvester, an' I'll give you the key...

It's that time of year again when the fields are void of farmers and  4x4's in Belfast are driven by farmers and not yummy mummies.Yeah, it's Balmoral Show time again. Coinciding with this is the release of a new book entitled Memories From The Farmyard.The blurb for the book reads...
In this book Paul Callaghan highlights and celebrates the work of notable Ulster livestock breeders who, in the same way as the famous 18th century English farmer Robert Bakewell, were inspired to take up the challenge to ‘breed something better’. Through a fascinating and entertaining series of accounts, that first featured in Farm Week, we explore aspects such as the impact of the Ravenhill herd on the British Friesian breed and the Heyday of the Hereford. We also pay homage to the Large White Ulster breed of pigs and look at some old examples of the ‘veterinary art’.
 image from www.colourpoint.co.uk

Inside Story: A career in publishing [link]

Check out a must read on Creative Choices, the first online service to provide the tools, knowledge and networks to support every individual and business to get in, and get on, in the creative industries and cultural sector.
An article written by  Malachi O'Doherty Susan Feldstein's story and tips about working in publishing. The article includes this tip...

Enjoy what you do - “You have to love this work; it's a tough road if you are just looking for financial reward.  It is a fantastic industry and most of the people are not cut throat and money grabbing. But you need persistence and patience.
Read it in full HERE

Born in Northern Ireland.

Yes we can claim that an author born in Northern Ireland is a Northern Irish author and one who it's been very hard to ignore over the last couple of weeks is Maggie O’Farrell.
Her latest novel opens with...
Listen. The trees in this story are stirring, trembling, readjusting themselves. A breeze is coming in gusts off the sea, and it is almost as if the trees know, in their restlessness, in their head-tossing impatience, that something is about to happen.
The garden is empty, the patio deserted, save for some pots with geraniums and delphiniums shuddering in the wind. A bench stands on the lawn, two chairs facing politely away from it...  
If like me, before buying a book you like to read the opening lines, you'll not want to put this one down. Entitled The Hand That First Held Mine the blurb for the novel reads...

A gorgeously written story of love and motherhood, this is a tour de force from one of our most acclaimed and best loved novelists.

When the bohemian, sophisticated Innes Kent turns up by chance on her doorstep, Lexie Sinclair realises she cannot wait any longer for her life to begin, and leaves for London.  There, at the heart of the 1950s Soho art scene, she carves out a new life for herself, with Innes at her side.  In the present day, Elina and Ted are reeling from the difficult birth of their first child.  Elina, a painter, struggles to reconcile the demands of motherhood with sense of herself as an artist, and Ted is disturbed by memories of his own childhood, memories that don't tally with his parents' version of events. As Ted begins to search for answers, so an extraordinary portrait of two women is revealed, separated by fifty years, but connected in ways that neither could ever have expected.

Roe Valley Tales Re-told.

I'm chuffed to see that the long awaited book by Mary Hayward has finally materialised.I'd the privilege of attending a creative writing group she was in during some of the time the stories for the book  were being written, rewritten and polished off. The book which takes its title from the lyrics of the song, Danny Boy is entitled "From Glen To Glen". It consists of a collection of tales from the Roe Valley.which include the Danny Boy stories: Rory Dall, Denis O'Hempsey, George Petrie, Jane Ross & Jimmy McCurry, Bringing It All Back Home (Fred Weatherly).The Drumcete Convention, Finvola, Cushy Glen, Lig Na Péiste, Broighter Gold, Piper McQuillan and Shane Crossagh O' Mullan.

The book will be launched during the Danny Boy Festival on Sun 9th May from 2 to 4 during the afternoon session of traditional music, song & verse in the Green Lane Museum at Roe Valley Country Park, Limavady.

For more details about the book, how to purchase the book or to contact Mary visit www.haybalepublications.co.uk

“Some books are to be tasted”

David Bowen @ Krakow Artists Book Show

I was recently invited to Krakow to take part in an artists book exhibition called “Some books are to be tasted”. There were books from around the world on display. From books that could take pictures to architecture books reconstructed into mini cityscapes.

My contribution was a book based on ‘the troubles’ in Northern Ireland. ‘Open Book’ is 3,550 blank pages each representing a person who lost their lives in the 35 year conflict. The years are represented by red ribbons and it’s bound in white linen. It was quite poignant to have it shown in a city which has known terrible conflict.

source - www.mccannerickson.ie

and the winner is...

Not just one Northern Irish author, but two winners in the 2010 Spinetingler Awards.

For Best Novel: New Voice The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville

Best Novel: Rising Star Category Fifty Grand by Adrian McKinty

Well done Lads!

Profiles of Eight Remarkable Men from Derry :The Boys of St Columb's.

Today is ‘City of Culture Commitment Day’ in Derry - Londonderry, part of their ongoing campaign  for the UK City of Culture 2013. Showing my support for this bid I'm hoping that the committee who makes the final decision on which city to choose, have either seen the film or read the book entitled The Boys of St Columb's. The Belfast launch of the book takes place on Tuesday in the Bookshop at Queens.

Watching the film version on the BBC I was amazed at the story of how eight men; poets, writers, diplomats, musicians and a socialist campaigner were all at  the same school around the same time and were all so successful. The blurb for the book reads...
The Boys of St Columb's tells the story of the first generation of children to receive free secondary education as a result of the ground-breaking 1947 Education Act in Northern Ireland. This book shows how the political and historical conditions of Northern Ireland altered as a result of the mass education of its population, culminating in the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1960s which drew its inspiration from the USA. The book profiles St. Columb's school in Derry, an excellent example of a school that underwent the shift from the dark post-war years into the more liberal 1960s, as a lens to understand the effect of the 1947 legislation. "The Boys of St. Columb's" consists of interviews with Nobel Prize winners, writers, diplomats, musicians and a socialist campaigner. The eight figures who make up this oral history are Bishop Daly, John Hume, Seamus Heaney, Seamus Deane, Phil Coulter, Eamonn McCann, Paul Brady and James Sharkey. These interviewees, as well as being world figures, are also sharply insightful. They form as fine an example as exists of the watershed in Irish history brought about by educational overhaul. These eight remarkable men first learned to survive in the unionist state, and then to thrive. The considerable momentum that gathered from their endeavours, along with those of others, paved the way for future generations. As Seamus Heaney put it, 'they broke some silences' and opened avenues that had been unimaginable to their parents. Their achievement is still being felt today.
Author's  website - MauriceFitzpatrick.Org 
Publishers website -TheLiffeyPress.Com
The book can be purchased from Amazon