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


Remind me again why I need an editor…

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an author in possession of a good manuscript must be in want of an editor. Or is it? For authors taken on by traditional publishing houses, editors are not optional. And while some authors view editors as a blessing, others are less convinced of their virtues. But not many will claim to be able to completely forgo some form of editorial help on the long road to successful publication.

Picture3BThe fact is that editing is an integral part of the publishing process, regardless of what format your creativity takes.

Take Mozart, for example. Legend has it that he produced completed masterpieces straight out of the ether. Fully formed. No amendments. No changes. No second thoughts. Like the goddess, Athene, emerging from the forehead of Zeus. Let’s face it, there probably isn’t an author in the world who wouldn’t wish the creative process was that straightforward! However, the fact is that Mozart was no more immune to the vagaries of eighteenth century music publishers than other lesser mortals, and, where possible, he used family or trusted friends to proofread manuscript engravings to avoid the pitfalls of poor quality or unauthorised copies. And there is even evidence to suggest that either Mozart  himself or his publisher edited some of the manuscripts from performance copies before publication. Why? Well, presumably to give the music-buying public a better Mozart experience!

Editors are not the bad guys 

dictionary1So where is all this leading? Well, my point is that editors aren’t necessarily the bad guys.  A good editor, whether in-house or freelance, can be a huge asset for a writer. Writing is a very personal process. Publication, as the name suggests, is a public activity. And if you’ve put hours of your time, blood, sweat and tears into your latest novel or short story, it seems rather strange that you would send it out into the wide world alone and unprepared.

A good substantive or copy editor can help a writer with the transition from private to public. They can use their experience and professional skills to support you and identify any problems that may cause you embarrassment or cause difficulties for your readers. Most importantly, they they can encourage you, fight your corner for you and challenge you to make your work the best it can be. And that has to be a good thing, doesn’t it?

For more details on substantive (structural) editing, copy-editing and manuscript critiques, check out Book Nanny’s website at

Why being an Editor is a bit like being a Nanny…

‘In a moment of mental abstraction for which I can never forgive myself, I deposited the manuscript in the basinette and placed the baby in the handbag.’

(Miss Prism, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde)

Keeping it in the family 

Poor old Jack Worthing. No wonder he was really Earnest. Who wouldn’t be rather serious, having been mistaken at a tender age for a three-volume novel of more than usually revolting sentimentality and ending up lost and found in the cloak room of Victoria Station? Luckily for most babies, literary or otherwise, not all nannies are as confused as Miss Prism! Take my grandmother, for instance. She too was a Nanny by profession, doggedly working her way up from lowly nursemaid to Supreme Ruler of the Universe. An exaggeration, perhaps? Depends on whose universe you’re talking about. By the time Nanna retired, she had nannied, amongst others, at least three generations of one family and each post-retirement visit was executed with all the pomp and ceremony of a returning monarch.

A passion for editing

So, what’s the point of my Nanna tale? Well, I believe there are a lot of similarities between being an editor and being a nanny.  Both involve caring for someone else’s precious offspring, helping them prepare to meet their public and be a credit to their proud parent(s). And like my grandmother, I love my job. I love nursing and nurturing my little wordy charges from terrible toddlerdom and unruly adolescence into blossoming maturity. I don’t mind if they’re prosaic or poetic, fictional or firmly grounded in reality, highfalutin or purely functional. I love dotting their i’s, minding their p’s and q’s, wiping their runny grammar and making sure they eat enough literary greens to promote healthy growth and development. All washed down with a generously heaped spoonful of care and attention.

But what exactly does an editor do? And how is it that some authors dedicate gushing acknowledgements to their editors, while others run away screaming at the very mention of the name? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out. So, why not join Book Nanny for an exploratory voyage through all such editorial conundrums? We’ll ask the questions and (hopefully) find some useful answers which will help to make the world of editors and editing a less scary place for all budding (and perhaps even a few seasoned) authors out there.