The Jealous Wall, Belvedere County Westmeath

The Jealous Wall built in 14th Century to block the view of Lady Rochford seeing her accused lover.

Shrewsbury, England

Shrewsbury, an old medieval town in the West Midlands of England. It is the county town of Shropshire and River Severn.

Lough Ennell, Ireland

Lough Ennell with shallow waters has the some of the best spawning streams of any Lough in Europe.

The Ruins of Fore Abbey

Fore Abbey (630AD) is a Benedictine Abbey ruin, situated north of Lough Lene in County Westmeath, Ireland.

Tullynally Castle, 17th Century

Tullynally Castle is situated 2 km from Castlepollard on the Coole Village Road in County Westmeath, Ireland.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

The Ozone Cafe - update!

The Ozone Café by Aileen Hawkes  

The Ozone Café 

It's amazing how things can change in the writing world. I was nearly close to self-publishing with Amazon. However, I realize since working with the novel in my critiquing group that it certainly wasn't ready! So it's back to being a WIP (work-in-progress) and to me it is starting to look like a better book. I hadn't filled in the descriptions/traits/looks of my main characters, nor did I outline some of the minor ones. When you're in a group, those writers that are critiquing you are "readers" and obviously they find the gaps, errors, typos, missed character descriptions, etc. Originally the manuscript was only 56,000 words - much too short! So now with a lot of additions I am hoping to get it as fat as 70,000 words by including missing scenes, a little more emotional engagement, back story, and possibly dialogue traits that will describe my characters a little differently than sounding like each other.
    Having other eyes on your work is crucial! I appreciate the help I'm getting as other writers comments are way better than any close relatives or friends saying, 'oh, that's great!' You know very well that it isn't.  
The Ozone Cafe (above) has also been drawn by an OOTA writer/artist Aileen Hawkes. I may be able to use it, and I'm very grateful to her for taking the time to produce such an exact copy. I will be sending the novel to Adelaide Books LLC, New York as they are publishing my debut novel The Last Asbestos Town.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Publishing a Novel - The Ozone Cafe

Writing a novel is one thing, but getting the manuscript published is another. I have sent this novel The Ozone Cafe to all major publishers including Pan McMillan, Allan & Unwin, to writing competitions including the Caledonian Novel Award, Varuna Publishing Programs and to my state's publisher Fremantle Press. I received rejection after rejection or in some instances utter silence.
My latest venture is to self-publish with Imagine to my surprise when I wrote to the History Dept of the Gosford Shire Library, how pleased I was to be granted permission to use the "original" photograph of the Ozone Cafe that occupied the Cnr of Memorial Avenue & Beach Street, Ettalong N.S.W.
Here is their reply:

Good morning Helen,
Thank you for your email.
We are happy to grant permission for you to use the photograph of the Ozone Café, on the proviso that the following attribution be made:

Ozone Café, Ettalong, circa 1945. Sam Hood photograph courtesy Central Coast Library Service

Are you aware of this photograph also in Gostalgia?

This is the view that Café patrons had from the building. I think it has an air of mystery. You can also use this image if you wish, with the attribution

View of Lion Island from the Ozone Café, Ettalong, circa 1945. Sam Hood photograph courtesy Central Coast Library Service

If you can, we would appreciate a copy of your book for our Local History Collection when published.
I wish your project great success,
Best regards
Geoffrey Potter | Local History Librarian | 5/07/2018


Tuesday, 24 April 2018

While I'm away: A great workshop @ Fremantle Arts Centre

Workshop 6: Setting with Mags Webster, Friday 4th May at the Fremantle Arts Centre, 1.00pm - 3.00pm (Print room)
As part of the ongoing series called "Working  the Short Story" Mags Webster will conduct a class on SETTING. The aim is to continue guiding you as to what makes a good story. These Prose classes look at major elements that will have you powering away into your writing. $25 OOTA $30 NON-OOTA

Mags Webster is a poet, freelance writer and editor, and currently a PhD student at Murdoch University in Western Australia. Her poetry and prose have been published in various publications and anthologies in Australia, Asia and America. Her first collection of poetry The Weather of Tongues (Sunline Press) won Australia's 2011 Anne Elder Award for a debut collection of poetry.

Born and raised in the UK, she moved to Australia in 2003. Also living in Hong Kong from 2011 to 2014, she completed an MFA in Creative Writing at Hong Kong's City University.

You can read her prose on her website here

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Writer in Residence @ ARTErra Rural Retreat, Tondela Portugal

Currently I'm in Portugal at ARTErra - a rural retreat for artists of many persuasions. I will be spending three weeks writing prose poetry, traveling to neighbouring towns/villages for added inspiration. So far, there is more inspiration than I have time to write, but basically the muse is happening. There is something about being in another place, in a different environment than your own that gets you motivated. Here is my project, and the following pics show how I include the prose poem on Instagram.

The project is titled “Random” a collection of prose poetry that allows me freedom to choose subjects, objects or unknowns, wherever the muse strikes, thus giving the work a sense of freedom and liberation from theme.  Many poems are inspired by nature, the landscape or simple objects that are often overlooked. As part of this project, I place my work as a cross-cultural platform on Instagram with links to Facebook and my Blog. This is a way of connecting with other poets on a world scale, increasing an online readership and connection. Ekphrastic poems also feature in the collection. A poem titled “Vase” highlights Portuguese pottery. And poems like “Rugs” and “Canvas” are inspired by paintings by disabled artists. Resident artists would also be inspirational for the work. Therefore, the time and space occupied at ARTerra looking at Portugal’s landscape, the environment (nature), its architecture, and other artforms would be invaluable.  Check out my work @   & on  Instagram

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Working the Short Story: a 10-Part Series with Helen Hagemann

Every second year OOTA (Out of the Asylum Writers Inc) conducts a writing competition called Spilt Ink with poetry and prose submissions. To help you produce samples of your stories (hopefully a winning entry), Helen will conduct a 10 Part Series called "Working  the Short Story" (including Mags Webster on 4th May). The aim will be to guide you and refresh your knowledge of what makes a good story. Each Prose class will look at major elements that will have you powering away into your writing. This is a work-in-progress list, however each class will cover one of the following:- Friday 9th February @ 1pm is Workshop 1 - Getting started with writing prompts.
  1.  Getting started with writing prompts
  2.  Writing affirmations for inspiration
  3.  Choosing a different genre ie. prose poetry, science fiction, non-fiction, creative non-fiction
  4.  Grammar
  5.  Theme
  6.  Setting
  7.  Characters
  8.  Point of View
  9.  Plot
  10.  General Tidy-up: Critiquing, Editing and Final polishing
PLEASE NOTE:  Places are available in our Friday morning critiquing session. We meet at 10.00am having emailed our work earlier in the week. Cost is $25 including Prose Class @ 1pm.
Check out the Guidelines for the Friday morning critique group

Venue: Fremantle Arts Centre, Upstairs Room, however inquire at desk. Time: 1-3pm. What to bring: Notepad, pen, laptop or iPad Cost: OOTA $25 - NON-OOTA $30 (ask for membership form to save). For information on joining OOTA and what we do, please visit our website

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

DIY Kitchen Chairs Renovation by Helen Hagemann

I have had my kitchen chairs for over 20 years. Not only do they look good, but also they have a sentimental value that you cannot put a price on. Therefore, when two of the chairs showed signs of wear, ie. most of the spindles in the chair back became separated, I decided to repair them myself. This video is a step by step instruction on the process. After researching many handymen's You Tube videos, I went with the product Gorilla epoxy resin as the strongest glue possible. Many videos suggested that the design of the chairs does not suit a normal wood glue; they move constantly with the sitter leaning on the back. I am very pleased with the result of my efforts and now when the family or friends arrive I am no longer worried about any breakage. They are as solid as a proverbial rock!

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest 2018

Fiction Contest
The 2018 Leapfrog Fiction Contest is open until June 15. Marie-Helene Bertino will be finalist judge.
Past Winners: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009
Click on the links above to read about our past winners.
Marie-Helene Bertino is the author of the novel 2 A.M. AT THE CAT’S PAJAMAS and the story collection SAFE AS HOUSES. Her work has received The O. Henry Prize, The Pushcart Prize, and The Iowa Award for Short Fiction. She is the current Frank O'Connor International Short Story Fellow in Cork, Ireland, and teaches at NYU and in the MFA program at Institute for American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM. For more information, please visit:
Read some interviews with Marie-Helene Bertino:
Read an interview with Leapfrog's Lisa Graziano in Ploughshares' Indie Spotlight. Click here.
We will accept all entries through our Submittable page, which you can find here
Upload your complete manuscript. Use the title as it appears on the manuscript as the file name (or as much as possible, if the title is very long). Please be sure there is no identifying information anywhere in the file (author name or address), including on the title page and in page headers.

Adult, young adult (YA) and middle grade (MG) novels, novellas, and short story collections are accepted. Minimum word count: 22,000. Individual stories in a collection may have been published in journals. Books that have been self-published will be considered "unpublished" if fewer than about 200 copies were printed.  
We look for literary fiction and mainstream fiction, including science fiction. Generally we are less interested in strict genre fiction, but if a manuscript is good and grabs our attention, we don't care what the genre is.
All manuscripts will be reviewed by at least two Leapfrog editors, and those that go to the second round of judging may be read by editors at other small presses as well.
Manuscripts are reviewed "blind": the judges do not know the authors' names or any other information about them. This is important to our judging process and the integrity of the contest.
1. May I submit more than one ms? Yes, you may submit as many as you choose. Each requires an entry fee, and they will be judged separately. The judges will not know they are from the same author. However, our advice is that you use your resources to explore several contests rather than entering more than a couple of mss into a single contest.
2. May I submit to other contests/agents/presses while waiting for the Leapfrog contest results? Yes. We ask that you let us know when you enter what other contests you have entered with the same manuscript, and inform us if your manuscript receives an award elsewhere. Winning another contest does not disqualify a manuscript from being named for an award by Leapfrog. If you receive a publication contract elsewhere, please let us know as that will disqualify the ms from our first prize.
3. What if I edit my manuscript after submitting and want to resend? That is usually fine until the last month of the contest. Just send the new version by email with a short explanation, and we will make sure all judges receive the new version.
4. What if I am unable to send the entry fee through Submittable? If you prefer to pay the reading fee by physical check, please contact us by email at so that we can direct you around the fee system.
5. What if I decide to withdraw manuscript? If you withdraw before your manuscript has been through several rounds of judging, we will refund your entry fee.
6. May I resubmit a manuscript that I submitted to this contest in the past? We do not encourage that. Even if you feel the ms has been through substantial editing, it is likely to be judged about the same as last time, even by quite different judges. If your ms was named for an award in the past, we cannot name it again. We are happy to take new manuscripts from past contest authors, however.
7. Do you ever publish more than one winner? Yes, we have done that several times. There may be two winners, especially if there are enough MG/YA manuscripts to make a separate category.
8. My computer went belly up and I have only a hard copy of my manuscript. May I send it by mail? In an emergency, we will accept a hard copy, but we need to know that it is coming or it will not be processed for the contest. Please email to discuss this with us before putting a hard copy in the postal mail.
9. Does my manuscript need to be formatted a certain way? No. We are not at all picky about that. Just make it readable. If it was a self-published book, be sure to eliminate title and copyright pages, and page headers, so there is no identifying information.
10. What if many of the stories in my collection were previously published in journals? That is fine, as long as much of the collection as a whole has not already been published as a book. A list of acknowledgments is also fine to include.
11. How many manuscripts do your usually receive? It varies between about 400 and 600.
12. What if I live outside the United States? About 10% of our entrants each year are not in the US. We are happy to read manuscripts from any and all countries. Our 2016 winner lives in the UK.
13. My manuscript has illustrations. Is that OK? Well.... if they are essential, it's OK. We do not take picture books, children's or otherwise, and we do not publish in color. B&W images that are crucial to the book may be included. Again, please keep the file size reasonable.
14. Is there a midnight deadline on May 1? We are not concerned about exactly when your manuscript arrives. If we see it when we log in on the morning of May 2, it has made the deadline. Sometimes there are unavoidable delays and submissions arrive after May 1. Please keep to the May 1 deadline unless there is an unavoidable issue.
Any other questions? Please email us at and we will be happy to help. You are doing us a favor by sending us your work to consider, and we'll do what we can to make the process easy.
First Prize: publication contract offer from Leapfrog Press, with an advance payment, plus the finalist awards (see below).
Finalists: $150 and one or two critiques of the manuscript from contest judges; permanent listing on the Leapfrog Press contest page as a contest finalist, along with short author bio and description of the book.
Semi-Finalist: Choice of a free Leapfrog book; permanent listing on the website.
Honorable Mention: listing on the Leapfrog Press website.
We encourage all contest awardees to inform us of any publicity/contracts/reviews of their entries. We will be happy to post that information on our website and in our newsletter.