Sunday 18 March 2012


Some great news from Irish writer Fiona O'Rourke. Fiona is a finalist in the Fish International Short Story Competition, and her story 'Wrong Whisky' will be published in this years Fish Prizewinner's Anthology. It will be her first publication - and when you think of the numbers of great writers who enter this competition each year, that is no mean feat. So, Fiona - here's a pint of Murphy's as a congrats!
Fiona worked with me at Anam Cara Writers and Artists' Retreat last May, on a week-long workshop entitled 'The Short Story - So Much More than it Seems'. We had a great time - the place was abuzz with ideas, writing games, talk about story craft, and writing exercises to practice the theory. There were lots of tips shared, tips that work for me as a writer - with the caveat that of course, they may not work for everyone. But they certainly worked for Fiona.

Fiona sent me this just now: (reproduced here with her kind permission!)

Hi Vanessa,
After a few years of entering short story competitions and not getting shortlisted, I've finally made the runner's up list in The Fish Short Story Prize which is a mighty leap forward for me!
I followed your advice among the gems you shared with us at an Anam Cara workshop last year - I started writing Wrong Whisky at the drowsy point just before going to sleep and the story took over, so there's lot to be said for putting pen to paper in a tired/about to fall asleep state, that's when the story was born. I wrote the bulk of it over a few nights in the sleepy state and I had no idea at any point what would happen next. Also I remembered your other advice about getting stories into competitions way before the deadline which I did for once.
So many thanks for the good advice, I'm glad I followed it, and look what happened - I got shortlisted in a highly regarded competition, made it to the runner up list and Wrong Whisky will be published in the anthology (my first short story to be published), so happy days! I would highly recommend drowsy/sleepy writing to other writers.
All the best,
Fiona O'Rourke (Wexford, Ireland)

That's the best thing, for a teacher - to know that something passed on has made a difference. Good stuff, innit! So here's a second pint...
I'm delighted to be running "The Short Story -so much more than it seems" again this year, at Anam Cara Writers' and Artists' Retreat from June 9th to 16th. If you are interested in finding out more, about this or any of the inspirational workshops and retreat possibilities at this wonderful place, check out the Anam Cara website and workshop schedule, Link HERE In the 30 acre grounds are these cascades - the sound of the waterfalls lulls you to sleep at night, and in the day, you can find a nook to make your own, to write in or dream in for as long as you like... it is just blissful.


  1. Huge congratulations to Fiona! You had a great teacher... :)

  2. Congratulations, Fiona, and big cheers and pints of Murphy's for Vanessa and her advice! xx

  3. Congrats to Fiona - how lovely!

  4. What splendid news for Fiona; reaching the heady heights of finalist!

    Well done, to both.


  5. well done to Fiona and to V too, a good feeling when students start to fly xx

  6. Congratulations to both Fiona and you, Vanessa. It's so easy to get discouraged when all you get is rejection, but perserverance is key.This warms my heart. Well done!

  7. Hi, thanks to everyone for the congrats, all the best, Fiona O'R