This week saw us begin the first of the County stages in Ulster with visits to Armagh, Derry and Donegal. You will find updates on these Spelling Bees below. We are now only a few short weeks away from the Provincial and All-Ireland stages of the Eason Spelling Bee.
Armagh Spelling Bee:
eight spellers took park on Monday in the Armagh Spelling Bee, which took place in Portadown. Ryce McClatchey from Millington Primary School was the winner on the day and will now go on to represent Armagh in the Ulster Final in June.
Derry Spelling Bee:
Five schools took part in the Derry Spelling Bee which was held in the Central Primary School in Limavady. After a closely fought tie-break, Tara O’Boyle from St. Brigid’s Primary School in Mayogall was declared the winner and now goes forward to the Ulster final.
Donegal Spelling Bee:
Our third spelling bee of the week saw us visit Gaelscoil Adhamhnin in Letterkenny for the Donegal Spelling Bee. 31 spellers took part on the day with Jamie Griffin from St. Bridget’s N.S. in Convoy becoming the Donegal Spelling Bee Champion.
Final County Spelling Bee Dates:
- Cavan – Mon 20th May – 11am – Knocktemple N.S., Virginia, Co. Cavan
- Tyrone – Wed 22nd May – 11am – St. Patrick’s Primary School, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone
- Fermanagh – Thu 23rd May – 11am – St. Ninnidh’s PS, Derrylin, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh
- Monaghan – Mon 27th May – 11am – Gaelscoil Ultain, An Cnoc, Muineachan, Co. Mhuineachain
- Antrim – Wed 29th May – 11am – St. Patrick’s & St. Brigid’s Primary School, Ballycastle, Co. Antrim
- Down – Thu 30th May – 11am – Castlewellan Primary School, Castlewellan, Co. Down
Make sure to get into your local Eason store this month for the chance to meet and greet bestselling authors! See below for details of the great events happening around the country throughout May:
Thursday, May 2nd
- Michael Grant launch night for Light – 6pm in Eason O’Connell Street
- Image Magazine promotion, with in-store makeup artists and goodie bag giveaways – 4pm to 8pm in Eason Dundrum.
- Leesa Harker book launch and signing of her new book, Maggie’s Feg Run – 6pm in Eason Donegall Place
Friday, May 3rd
Thursday, May 9th
Friday, May 24th
- Dawn Porter signing of her new book, Paper Aeroplanes – 4pm in Eason Dundrum
- Jamie Laing from Made in Chelsea signing his new book Candy Kittens – 1pm in Eason Dundrum
- Jamie Laing from Made in Chelsea signing his new book Candy Kittens – 4pm in Eason O’Connell St
Monday, May 27th
Saturday, June 1st
- Kirk Norcross from TOWIE signing his new book Essex Boy: My Story – 12pm in Eason Donegall Place
- Kirk Norcross from TOWIE signing his new book Essex Boy: My Story – 3:30pm in Eason Craigavon
Wednesday, June 12th
- Rick Yancey, author talk, Q&A and signing of his new book The 5th Wave – 5pm in Eason O’Connell St. You can get tickets at the O’Connell St Information Desk or by calling (01) 8583800.
Over the last 2 weeks we visited Wexford, Wicklow, Westmeath, Meath and Louth for their respective County Spelling Bees. This now completes the Leinster county stages of the Spelling Bee. Next up is the County Spelling Bee stage in Ulster and dates can be found below. Updates from the last 2 weeks can also be found here.
Wexford County Spelling Bee:
27 spellers took part in the Wexford County Spelling Bee on Wed 24th April which was held in Boolavogue N.S. Evan Kiely from Gusserane N.S. in New Ross was declared the winner and will now go on to represent Wexford in the Leinster Final in June.
Wicklow County Spelling Bee:
St. Joseph’s N.S. in Glenealy played host to the Wicklow Spelling Bee. 11 spellers took part in the Spelling Bee on the day. The contest came down to a tie-break with Laura Creighton from St. Brigid’s N.S. in Manor Kilbride crowned the winner.
Westmeath County Spelling Bee:
11 spellers took part in the Westmeath County Spelling Bee on Tue 30th April which was held in St. Manchan’s N.S. in Tubber. The winner on the day was Aisling Kelly from St. Etchen’s National School in Kinnegad.
Meath County Spelling Bee:
26 spellers took part in the Meath County Spelling Bee on Wed 1st May which was held in St. Columbanus N.S. in Ballivor. A large crowd was in attendance on the day with Rian Mary Kearns from St. Mary’s Primary School in Trim declared the winner after a tie-break round. Mary will now go on to represent Meath in the Leinster Final in June.
Louth County Spelling Bee:
18 spellers took part in the Louth County Spelling Bee on Thu 2nd May which was held in Scoil Mhuire na nGael in Dundalk. This was our last county spelling bee in Leinster. We got a great reception from the host school and coincidentally the winner on the day, was David Alajiki from the host school. David will now go on to represent Louth in the Leinster Final.
County Final dates for the Ulster Spelling Bees as follows:
|Armagh||Mon 13th May||11:00||Presentation Primary School, Thomas St., Portadown|
|Derry||Wed 15th May||11:00||Limavady Central School, Limavady|
|Donegal||Thu 16th May||11:00||Gaelscoil Adhamhnin, Glenn Cearra, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal|
|Cavan||Mon 20th May||11:00||Knocktemple N.S., Virginia, Co. Cavan|
|Tyrone||Wed 22nd May||11:00||St. Patrick’s Primary School, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone|
|Fermanagh||Thu 23rd May||11:00||St. Ninnidh’s PS, Derrylin, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh|
|Monaghan||Mon 27th May||11:00||Gaelscoil Ultain, An Cnoc, Muineachan, Co. Mhuineachain|
|Antrim||Wed 29th May||11:00||St. Patrick’s & St. Brigid’s Primary School, Ballycastle, Co. Antrim|
|Down||Thu 30th May||11:00||Castlewellan Primary School, Castlewellan, Co. Down|
Aimed at promoting children’s literacy throughout Ireland, our ongoing campaign has three main strands:
- The Eason Spelling Bee, which grew from just 12 participating schools in 2011 to a massive 800 schools in 2013
- Get Into Reading – our drive to promote the importance of reading with children, supported by our weekly Story Time readings in every Eason store in the country
- Our partnership with children’s charity organisation, Barnados
Group Head of Marketing David Field was delighted that Eason received such recognition for its focus on bringing the gift of reading to children. “This award highlights the importance of bringing children’s literacy to the forefront in modern Ireland. In our initial research, we were surprised to discover that almost 20% of Irish parents of children under the age of 8 never read to their children. We believe that reading is not only an essential skill, but also a catalyst for expanding young imaginations and creating a lifelong connection with the magic of the written word.”
This IDMA Award comes just six months after Easons.com scooped the ‘Website of the Year’ and ‘Best Customer Experience’ prizes in the 2012 Retail Excellence Ireland Awards.
Mary Beth Keane, author of Fever – about an Irish immigrant battling her way through life in 1900s New York – explains why character detail trumps historical and cultural precision when writing historical fiction.
I never expected to write historical fiction, though some of my favourite novels of all time are in that category. Never great with names and dates, I figured historical fiction was for people whose minds work in a more straightforward fashion. Once, taking an American History exam when I was in high school, I couldn’t remember the exact dates of James Madison’s presidency but I remembered that Dolly Madison, his wife, was said to have a ritual of peeking from an upper floor window whenever his carriage departed their home for the Capitol. I offered up this titbit in exchange for hard facts. I did not get an A.
When it first occurred to me that Mary Mallon, who was better known to history as “Typhoid Mary,” would make a fascinating character, it wasn’t immediately clear to me that I should be the one to write her story. Everything about early 20th century New York was sepia-toned in my imagination. The clip-clop of horses on the avenues, the long skirts of the women brushing the sidewalks – it all seemed too distant, too quaint. I began by reading about the politics of the period, the manoeuvres of politicians and their staff, but how much did that tell me about what the average person thought and felt? Nothing. In order to get my arms around Mary’s story I had to walk alongside the people making their way in this world and not just observe them doing so. I had to understand their worries and their hopes. If they harboured secret ambitions, I had to discover them. Thinking back to high school, I knew that I remembered that detail about Dolly because it I found it moving that even a President’s wife peeks out of windows. I identified with Dolly, saw myself in her, and recognised her vulnerability. I had to get there with Mary Mallon.
Now that the book is written, many of the responses I’ve gotten have been about the research, how it must have been overwhelming, difficult to keep track of. It was those things at times, but research was also a crutch when I didn’t want to do the truly difficult work of writing fiction. I knew, when I was getting too focused on how many buttons a woman might have on her corset, or what route, precisely, the subway took when it first opened, that I was avoiding the task at hand, which was getting to the centre of Mary’s life – the confusion, fear, and frustration she must have felt, and later, a battle-worn sort of peace. The heart of a good novel must always be character, and where is the most important research for character done but inside the writer? Advice to those embarking on historical fiction? Close the books and face the blank page. Begin.
- Mary Beth Keane
Last week we visited both Kilkenny and Carlow for their respective Spelling Bees. Updates for both events can be viewed below.
Kilkenny Spelling Bee:
19 spellers took part in the Kilkenny County Spelling Bee on Tue 16th April, held in Presentation N.S. in Parnell Street, Kilkenny. Kevin Murphy Kennedy from C.B.S. Primary in Kilkenny was declared the winner and will now go on to represent Kilkenny in the Leinster Final in June.
Carlow Spelling Bee:
Ballon N.S. played host to the Carlow Spelling Bee on Wednesday. Eight spellers took part in the Spelling Bee on the day. The contest came down to a tie-break with Jordan Hennessy from Scoil Chomhghain Naofa in Killeshin crowned the winner.
Win your chance to meet and greet Dan Brown at our exclusive Inferno launch event in O’Connell Street on May 20th! Every day this week, we’ll be posting questions on Facebook, Twitter and the Easons.com blog. Get the right answer to the daily questions and we’ll post further instructions on Friday.
Here’s today’s question:
What kind of sciences is Katherine Solomon working on in The Lost Symbol?
You don’t need to post the answer anywhere, just make a note of it yourself and keep an eye on Facebook, Twitter and the blog this Friday!
Best of luck!
With his debut book, Red Sky in Morning, Paul Lynch has made the transition from prolific film writer to novelist in spectacular fashion. Writing exclusively for the Easons.com Blog, he describes how he dreamed up his first novel.
Red Sky in Morning came to me in snatches of dreams: dreams in broad daylight; dreams on the edge of that cliff-fall into the dark of sleep. A book must be dreamed into being. The good stuff in writing comes from those liminal moments when you are held in that timeless space, that mind’s drift outside the present moment. Being a writer means learning to cultivate this. As children we are told by parents and teachers to stop daydreaming. This is nonsense. Tell children to keep dreaming. Some of them will become dreamers for a living.
Novel dreams rise into consciousness like effervescence in sparking water. You must always be receptive to these gifts. You must be willing to write every thought down. This is not without its problems. Often, during the writing of a book, ideas flash into my mind during conversation, a thought sparked by something somebody has said. They arrive during dinner in a restaurant. They arrive while reading a book. They come in the middle of the night when you are stumbling blindly to the loo. It doesn’t matter — you must always be catching those butterflies in your net. To forgo writing them down means you will lose most of them to the white sky of your mind. So I take notes wherever I go. I have walked into bins on the street while putting notes into my phone. I have been almost clipped by traffic. People say writing is not a dangerous occupation. It is.
Red Sky in Morning took just under three years to write. For the first two years I was gainfully employed, so my life then was about time management. I would write on holidays. Write on weekends. Write at night during bone-tiredness, hoping that what I put down would later make sense. I learned that it doesn’t matter what you put down, so long as you put down something. Once you have committed your consciousness to the page, it can always be rewritten. And the art of writing a book is less about that first draft, than it is about the rewriting of it — over and over and over again. And when you think you are finished, going at it again and again until it has found its perfect shape.
I found my best moments writing Red Sky in Morning were often writing in the dawn. To write in that deep quiet is like breathing mountain air. An uncluttered mind is the writer’s best tool. Some say they find it late at night, but most writers agree it is best to write in the morning, to hit the desk with coffee and dream shadow still snaking about you. You must step into that shadow and make it your friend, be guided by its whisperings, before it shrinks from the light of day.
- Paul Lynch
Guest Article: Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World – How the Book Came to Be, by Janet E. Cameron
Last summer I got the news: Hachette Ireland wanted to publish my first novel. I was overjoyed, but dazed – part of me couldn’t quite believe that this was happening. Then gradually everything started to make sense. Of course! The Mayans! The book was scheduled to appear in 2013, and that date would never arrive, in fact my contract with a publisher was probably one of the signs of the End of Days. But January came and went safely and by March I was holding a printed copy of Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World in my hands.
I’ve wanted this for as long as I can remember, but life kept getting in the way. I was a confident child who wrote and told stories because it was easy and fun. (I still have one, a science-fiction saga that was really just Star Trek with cats.) Then I was a miserable teenager who didn’t write at all because I was sure that it would be lousy. Later I became a confused twenty-something who wrote plays as a ‘hobby’ while training to be a teacher, specialising in English as a second language. In my early thirties I moved to Japan, where I taught at a girls’ high school and churned out educational material and adaptations for the school drama club. ‘We need a cast of forty, and everyone must have at least one line and wear a pretty dress.’ That kind of thing.
Everything changed when I met an Irish journalist who was in Tokyo for the 2002 Soccer World Cup. I never could have predicted that I’d one day be living in Ireland, but three years later there I was: married, semi-employed, and looking out the window at a lot of rain. But rainy days and a relaxed schedule are very good for writing, and Ireland turned out to be the perfect place for me. I switched to prose, took part in writing groups and classes, taught English to Chinese students at Dublin Business School. In the first few weeks of 2010 I got up the nerve to apply to Trinity’s creative writing programme. By the time the first semester started I had 70,000 words of a novel finished.
Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World came about through a homework assignment from a class I’d taken in 2006. I started with an image – two teenage boys having a violent argument on a cliff by a river, and the idea wouldn’t leave me alone. I wrote it as a flash fiction piece. I wrote it as a novella. A virus erased it from my computer. Four years later I was at it again, reconstructing the story from memory. Soon it became clear that this was going to be bigger than a novella, in fact it was going to be a book.
I worked on the story obsessively. I’d been a person who enjoyed spending hours in the kitchen, someone who dusted the curtain rods. When the novel took over I left the cooking to my husband, or the microwave. I let the apartment get filthy around me and barely noticed. I carried notebooks and scribbled in them like a maniac, no matter where I was. If I thought of something in the middle of the night, I’d write in the dark. It was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me.
The characters were what kept me hooked. First of all, there’s my hero, seventeen-year-old Stephen Shulevitz – bright, funny, impulsive, sarcastic, vulnerable, and in love with his straight best friend Mark, who grows up dyslexic and abused and learns quickly to be the toughest kid on the playground. Stephen also has to deal with his mother Maryna, who is dreamy, disorganised, and stuck in a dead end job in a small town – the one bright spot in her life seems to be her son. Stephen’s father Stanley is a self-absorbed academic who remains irritatingly calm in a crisis, especially if it’s one he’s created himself. Then there’s Stephen’s big-hearted, Goth-punk friend Lana, with an unfortunate crush of her own. I had to keep going to find out what would happen to them all.
I worked on the novel through the year at Trinity, and when I was sure I’d gotten the manuscript into shape, I entered it in a competition sponsored by the Irish Writers’ Centre and eventually was chosen as one of twenty winners.
The Novel Fair was nerve-wracking, exhilarating and a lot of fun. The twenty of us sat at tables with our stacks of sample chapters and prepared to pitch our stories to a selection of publishers and agents. I can’t remember much of what I said – by the end of the day I’d repeated the same information so many times that I felt like a bit of a dingbat. But I must have been at least partially coherent, because a few months later I got the news that Hachette Ireland were interested in seeing the rest of the book. Now it’s in bookstores all over Ireland.
This still feels like a miracle, and for me at least, a lot more impressive than anything the Mayans could have predicted.