The CAP Awards 2016: Winners!

cap-trophiesThe inaugural CAP Awards

A very important event in Irish independent publishing took place on Tuesday last, 25 October 2016. That was the evening bestselling author, Hazel Gaynor, cut the ribbon for the inaugural CAP Awards (Carousel Aware Prize for Independent Authors) at a gala evening in the Teachers’ Club, Parnell Square in Dublin.

Best Junior Book Award: Aisli Madden with Carolann Copland

Best Junior Book Award: Aislí Madden with Carolann Copland

The brainchild of indie author and owner of Carousel Creates Writers’ Centre, Carolann Copland, the CAP Awards were founded to acknowledge the achievement of indie authors in Ireland and to showcase the cream of Irish independently-published books across a wide range of categories: short stories, children’s books, Young Adult books, novels and non-fiction.

Kevin Doyle: Winner, Best Short Story Anthology with Hazel Gaynor and Gerry O'Brien

Best Short Story Anthology Award: Kevin Doyle, with Hazel Gaynor and Gerry O’Brien of Aware

The standard of the shortlisted authors alone indicates how far Irish indie publishing has come in the past few years and I don’t think any of us present envied the judges – including award-winning authors  Jax Miller, Louise Phillips and Claire Hennessy, and Books Ireland editor, Tony Canavan – their task of choosing a winner from amongst the worthy contenders in each category.

2016 Winners


CAP Award Winners 2016, Aislí Madden, Kevin Doyle and Lorna Sixsmith, with Carolann Copland of Carousel Creates Writers’ Centre and Gerry O’Brien of Aware

But choices were made and congratulations to the five winners of the CAP Awards for 2016:

Best Short Story Anthology:  Do You Like Oranges? by Kevin Doyle
Best Junior Book: Zenji & the Muzzy Bug by Aislí Madden
Best Young Adult Book: Death’s New Lease On Life by Brendan O’Connell
Best Novel:  Her Secret Rose by Orna Ross
Best Non-Fiction: How to be a Perfect Farm Wife by Lorna Sixsmith

Why the CAP Awards are winners for Irish indie publishing

The importance of the CAP Awards to the Irish writing and publishing industry was emphasised by Young Adult judge, Claire Hennessy:

CAP Award for Best YA Book, Anne O'Leary (for author Brendan O'Connell) with Claire Hennessy and Gerry O'Brien

CAP Award for Best YA Book, Anne O’Leary, Books Ireland, (for author Brendan O’Connell) with Claire Hennessy and Gerry O’Brien

“… I do think it’s vital that we have the opportunity to recognise quality work that doesn’t fit into neat boxes; that doesn’t seem like a viable large-scale ‘business’ decision, but that nevertheless, through the vision and hard work and investment of an individual author, is engaging and brilliant and worthy of wider attention. The difficulty for readers of self-published work is the lack of curation, not just from publishers, but also in terms of how tricky it is to get reviews, etc. Awards like this are a way of curating and identifying the brilliant self-published books out there …”

Promoting Indie excellence


Best Novel Award, Lorna Sixsmith (for author Orna Ross) with Jax Miller and Gerry O’Brien

The calibre of all the books on the CAP Awards shortlists make it clear that many Irish indie authors have taken on board and successfully addressed the issue of quality in their work. To paraphrase Laurence O’Bryan, founder of The Dublin Writers’ Conference, the days of so-called ‘vanity publishing’ are over and the era of independent authors who offer readers a high-quality, diverse and exciting range of individual voices and experiences has arrived.

And, if you’ll pardon the pun, the CAP Awards has one more feather in its … ahem … CAP for winning authors. Thanks to fantastic sponsorship of the Awards by Dubray Books and Easons, the CAP Awards winners will see their books on sale in two of Ireland’s leading bookstores. Who knows, maybe there’ll be an Indie Author section in every bookstore in Ireland soon?

Lorna Sixsmith: Winner Best Non-Fiction with Tony Canvan of Books Ireland

Best Non-Fiction Award: Lorna Sixsmith, with Tony Canavan of Books Ireland

In the meantime, the Carousel Aware Prize for Independent Authors will continue to acknowledge and promote excellence in Irish independent publishing and the Committee is already gearing up for 2017. Details of next year’s Awards will be published on the CAP Awards website.

And don’t forget: all proceeds from the Awards go to mental health charity, Aware, which provides vital support and assistance to individuals and their families coping with mental health issues in today’s complicated and complex world. It’s a win-win for all involved!

Thanks to Adrian Taheny and the CAP Awards for the photographs.

The CAP Awards 2016: full Shortlists and Winners

Congratulations to all those shortlisted and to the five winners! 🙂 🙂 🙂


Fiona Buckley –  Better than Gold
Dolores Keaveney  – The Scary Spider
Aislí Madden – Zenji & the Muzzy Bug (Winner)
SP McArdle –  The Red-Letter Day
Caroline Twomey  – The Dream Catcher


Siobhán Davis – Saven: Deception
Drew Darkwood – Link
Brian Kirk  – The Rising Son
Alan Murphy – Prometheus Unplugged!
Brendan O’Connell – Death’s New Lease On Life (Winner)


Kathryn Crowley  – Sweaters and Small Stuff
Kevin Doyle – Do You Like Oranges? (Winner)
Annmarie Miles – The Long & The Short of it


Thomas Paul Burgess – White Church, Black Mountain
James Lawless – American Doll
Pam Lecky – The Bowes Inheritance
Neil Rochford – The Blue Ridge Project
Orna Ross – Her Secret Rose (Winner)


Corina Duyn – Into The Light
Sharyn Hayden – I Forgot to Take My Pill
Lorna Sixsmith – How to be a Perfect Farm Wife (Winner)
Michael Thurlow – The Marley Man
Fiona Van Dokkum – From the Inside: Raising, teaching and loving an autistic child


Resources for Writers: where to find them

‘Self-publishing can be both an exhilarating and lonely experience for an author, so anyone considering it should surround themselves with as much support as possible …’

That was Book Nanny speaking about the role of editing and editors with author Anne O’Leary for her article ‘Self-publishing: say goodbye to vanity and come in from the cold’ which was published in the January 2016 edition of Books Ireland.

The big question for many writers is: where do I find that support?

Professional Editors  

Finding a good editor is a great start. A professional editor can provide a practical source of support and assistance to a writer during the publishing process, not only in terms of helping you to make your finished novel the best it can be, but also as someone to bounce ideas off or answer any queries you might have.

Writers’ Groups

It’s impossible to overstate the benefits of being a member of a writers’ group and the tremendous practical and emotional (don’t underestimate the need for this!) support it provides during the writing and publishing process, helping you to stay positive, energised and focussed during the dark days and lonely hours when all is not progressing as smoothly or as quickly as you would like.

Writers’ Centres

Writing courses, seminars and workshops can be a vital source of networking for writers. They allow you not only to improve your craft, but also to meet other like-minded authors. Many writing groups originate as a group of writers who meet at a course and who share a desire to keep the support going, so check out your local arts or writers’ centre for courses, workshops and networking events – it’s worth making full use of the resources they offer.

The Irish Writers’ Centre in Dublin is the national resource centre for Irish literature and runs courses and events covering all aspects of Irish writing.

Online Resources

One of my favourite online writing resources is, an online magazine packed full of articles, news, events and resource information for all areas of writing and publishing.

Professional Organisations

The writing community is a generous one, with writers willing to share their knowledge with other writers. Listening to and talking with other independently-published authors can give you first-hand experience of the pitfalls of self-publishing as well as many practical tips for success. If you are interested in self-publishing, you should consider joining a professional organisation which gives you access to all that experience on an international level.

ALLI (Alliance of Independent Authors) is a non-profit professional organisation promoting publishing excellence and support for independent authors.

Literary Festivals/ Writers’ Conferences

Speaking from personal experience, there is nothing quite like the positive energy and excitement a writer can get from attending a literary festival or writers’ conference. It’s a wonderful way to meet other writers and industry professionals and we are lucky here in Ireland to have so many great festivals and events to choose from. Here’s a selection of the festival/conference highlights over the next few months from all over the country:

Cuirt International Festival of Literature, Galway

International Literature Festival (ILF), Dublin

Wexford Literary Festival,  Wexford

Dalkey Book Festival, Dalkey, Dublin

Listowel Writers’ Week, Listowel, Kerry

Dublin Writers’ Conference, Dublin

West Cork Literary Festival, Cork

Bray Literary Festival, Bray, Wicklow

Red Line Book Festival, Tallaght, Dublin

Something Wicked Crime Writing Festival, Malahide, Dublin – 28/10/2017