Thursday, June 28, 2007

One week in....

What a mad ride!
It's one week since RD&T was released from the depths of Baldoyle onto the world and it's has been insanely emotional, scary, wonderful and surreal all at the same time.
The real big moment for me was on Saturday of last week when - while I was sat with my head wrapped in tinfoil for a much needed pre-wedding roots touch up - my work colleague Catherine Spence called me to say the book was in Eason and she had just bought it.
I admit that I've been quite cool about the whole shebang on the outside but I could not hold back the tears at this news. I managed, thankfully, to wait til I got back to my car and then sat weeping like a looney behind the wheel. Christ knows what the car park attendant thought.
And then my two aunties phoned to say they too had seen it, so it was only right that I made my way up myself.
Now, it's a bit strange to see your book on the shelves of a proper book shop. I didn't want to look like "Mrs Precious Author" so I admired from a far and thought I was doing well until my sister arrived at the scene and insisted on taking my picture beside the display..
My cover was blown.

On Monday I received some posters from Poolbeg from the Lovely Niamh who said I could hang them on the wall of fame, but instead I persuaded the powers that be at the Journal to let me hang one at our main entrance. It's all about sales people.
Catherine Spence then came over to tell me the book made her cry and she was now in love with Aidan (Grace's other half) and then I took a phone call from my PR lady who said a reporter in Dublin had also had a good gurn over the whole thing.
Not to mention the fact that Pamela Ballentine off of UTV is now reading it and I've to go one LIVE TV next week. Feck!
On Wednesday Lovely Niamh (I actually think I'll call her Lovely Niamh from now on..) emailed me to say that after just Friday and Saturday of sales the book was number 51 in the Nielson BookScan Original Fiction chart thingummies which is apparantly a very promising start. (And Kate Long who is a vay famous author said it was too- and she knows stuff).

So anyway... mad. I'm sitting here in my jammies- stinking and in need of a shower but waiting for another phone interview call...
It's glamour all the way!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I've only gone and done it...

Rainy Days and Tuesdays. OUT NOW

Monday, June 18, 2007

Check it out Rainy Days and Tuesdays: Books: Claire Allan

21st of June...

21st of June...

That's my birthday that is...

I realise that the closer we get to publication the more these posts become rambling and gibberish-y but that is only because I am living in a surreal little world where it all seems to totally, totally mad.

Oh for the love of God...

I tried to think of a wittier headline for today’s column. I sat and played with words for a good two minutes (it’s close to deadline for this column and I’m very, very busy) but nothing was forthcoming. Or at least nothing that could be printed in a newspaper read by those who may be easily offended by gutter language.
You see despite my ranting last week that the media need to make a concerted effort to try and say positive things about women who are larger than a size double zero, no one seems to have taken a blind bit of notice. On Wednesday my attention was drawn to an article in the Daily Mail about Kate Winslet and her appearance at the Lancome launch party in Paris. (Ms Winslet is the new face of Tresor perfume)
Now to the average person Kate Winslet looked amazing at the Lancome party. She looked toned, healthy but curvaceous. By no stretch of anyone’s imagination did she look overweight but this is what the Daily Mail reporter chose to comment on.
Currently no more than a size 10, Ms. Winslet looked “as though she had put on a few pounds” and the dress “showed off her wide hips”.
I can only hope and pray that one day my hips would be as wide as Kate Winslet and I can only assume the ‘journalist’ Nick McDermott (and I use the term journalist very, very loosely) responsible for the piece was having a particularly bad day or was under the influence of some form of hallucinogenic drugs to come to such a conclusion. Either that or Kate Winslet scorned his advances in a previous life and he hasn’t quite gotten over it.
I’ve always liked Kate Winslet. I think she looks amazing as a woman who isn’t afraid to show off her curves. Although she has toned up and lost some weight in recent years, she has never fallen into the waif trap and always looks healthy and happy (unlike the Victoria Beckhams of this world.). It’s all more remarkable when you think she has had a couple of children. I still, sadly, look as though I’m about seven months gone even though my ‘baby’ is nearly three and a half. (I live in fear of the day where I will be asked when the baby is due and I’ll have to blush and respond: “February 2004”).
And let’s face facts, even if Kate Winslet did put on “a few pounds” she would still be on the skinny end of the weight scales. She’s a size 10 for the love of God. I don’t think I’ve ever been that size in my life (both child and adult)!
What chance do us mere mortals have when we open newspapers and see rubbish like that spouted from sour faced columnists? What does it do for our self esteem? As someone who has had to have her photo taken much too often for my liking recently, and who hopefully will have her photo taken many more times over the coming months, I dread to think what Nick McDermott and his ilk would have to say about me. (As I write this the Daily Mail have just offered to do a photoshoot with me - I kid ye not).
Perhaps it was just a chance remark by him, but the damage it will have done to women struggling with their weight and self esteem will be immeasurable.
He could do well to take a leaf out of Gok Wan’s book and start to focus on making women - no matter what their shape or size - feel better about themselves.
I’ll admit I’m a little bit addicted to his programme ‘How to Look Good Naked’. To say that he transforms how these women look is an understatement but what is most impressive is how he transforms how they think about themselves. He takes women with wobbly tummies, wide bums, childbearing hips and saggy boobs and makes them feel like gorgeous goddesses. He persuades them to go on national TV in their undercrackers (I wouldn’t even walk down my hallway in mine for fear of scaring a passing bird) and by the end of the programme they love themselves.
Gok Wan seems to believe that if you feel good about yourself, the looking good follows naturally. Confidence and beauty comes from within and is not solely based on the size of your waist, the firmness of your hips or whether or not your dress ruches at the side.
I’d very much like to get Gok Wan and Nick McDermott in a room together and have Mr Wan give Mr McDermott a good talking too about how to create positive images of women and how to promote a healthy physical and mental attitude.
And for the powers that be in the Daily Mail, please think about what you publish in the interests of the mental health of all of us.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

My boy is so very, very cute

I've done a shamelessly I'm-so-in-love-with-my-son post in a while, but I took this picture recently and it totally captures his cheekiness.

He really does just make me laugh so much these days...

He's the baby, gotta love him.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

On the radio.. la la la

It's getting closer...
11 days until publication (or seven if you're going by Poolbeg's website).

Paula Campbell (Poolbeg boss lady and supermum) sent me an email today with my radio ad for Today FM attached.

Now we don't have sound cards in our work computers so I emailed the email (stay with me) to my husband and got him to play it down the phone.

It's fabulous and very surreal.

Anyway it's going to be on Today FM in Ireland from June 27.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rainy Days and Tuesdays... literally...

Well yesterday was a Tuesday and I was invited by the lovely people at Poolbeg Press to travel to Belfast to have lunch with them and Alyson Wilson from Waterstones.
After a week of glorious sunshine, the weather broke yesterday and my bus ride to Belfast was through torrential rain.
When I arrived, I made my way to Altos on Fountain Street and ordered a glass of wine to steady my nerves.
According to the lovely Lynda from Poolbeg I've nothing to be nervous about but, as I tried to explain to her, us Derry weemin are born worriers and constantly nervous about something.
The craic was great. Alyson from Waterstones was lovely and didn't freak me out. She must be used to dealing with emotional and highly strung authors.
Mostly however I was proud of not falling into a mad faux Dublin accent. (See my previous posts about my fear of saying 'eejit' and 'gas' a lot).
Anyway, it's 8 days now til Poolbeg release the book from their glorious premises in Baldoyle - which just about ties up with my 31st birthday. What a difference a year makes.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Well slap my ass and call me Gracie...

Had a quiet few minutes in work this morning so did what every self respecting woman would do in the same position and googled my book...
Then decided that since I'm having lunch on Tuesday with one buyers from Waterstones I'd have a wee look-see on their website.
And guess what it said?




Thursday, June 07, 2007

Woman of the Year? Aye right!

Victoria Beckham has been named the UK Woman of the Year. If ever there was a sentence that screamed “What were the judges on?”, there it is.
I know Mrs Beckham has her fair share of fans but I fail to see the appeal. She was famous once for being in the Spice Girls, but what is she famous for now? Being married to a famous hubby? Wearing increasingly ridiculous outfits? Proving that women can survive with absolutely no body fat whatsoever? Making David Dickinson look a wee bit pale?
I hate to bitchy (no, actually that’s untrue, like most women I love a good bitch) but for the love of every thing pure what is it that inspired anyone to name the walking Twiglet their ‘Woman of the Year’?
You see, to me the title of ‘Woman of the Year’ should denote something of substance. It should refer to a woman who has made a positive difference to others. She doesn’t have to be some high and mighty intellectial creature who has brought about world peace, championed the battle against breast cancer or single-handedly saved the NHS from ruin. But surely she has to be something more than a woman who is most famous for wearing a slightly disturbing pout most of the time?
Then again, I’m not sure what I expected from the likes of ‘Glamour’ magazine. I, like many others, enjoy a wee bit of celebrity gossip and if you are going to find out who is doing what, and to whom, you could do worse than pick up a copy of ‘Glamour’.
But their lists of winners at this year’s awards does make painful reading. These are the women that they have deemed worthy of reward and recognition and they include a bag designer, Doctor Who’s assistant and Angelina Jolie for a special ‘Inspiration Award’. (Trust me I am rolling my eyes in an exaggerated “What the fudge is that about’ manner here).
What kind of an example are we giving to women and teenage girls? What are we telling them about what it takes to be successful and/ or popular. Trust me the feelings of inadequacy such awards generate stretch far beyond the remit of teenage girls struggling to find their identity. There are many women of all ages who look at these awards and wonder how on earth they bear any relevance to their lives.
For example Teri Hatcher was named ‘Writer of the Year’. Now I’ve gone on record before as saying I love the bones of Teri Hatcher. I wanted to be her when she was in ‘Lois and Clarke- The New Adventures of Superman’. I had the same bobbed hair cut and based my shoe buying decisions almost entirely on what I thought she would like. If I could swap my mundane existence in Derry for an hour or two on Wysteria Lane in the arms of the gorgeous Milke in ‘Desperate Housewives’ I would jump at the chance.
But the woman can’t write books. I bought her autobiography/ self-help book ‘Burnt Toast’ expecting it to be a funny, moving and scandal laden tome which would inspire further hair cuts, shoe buying expeditions and perhaps contain Dean Cain’s phone number.
It was one of only three books in my life which I have thrown across the room in disgust as I have been so disappointed with it’s content. It was just so mind numbingly bland that I gave up the will to live by chapter 6. It seems Ms Hatcher can’t do witty and quirky unless she has a team of ‘Desperate Housewives’ writers behind her.
There are reams of writers out there worthy of the accolade more than this former Lois Lane. The wonderfully talented Kate Long, the hilarious Marian Keyes - proper writers who’s life ambition and trade is to write, not to throw a book together between love scenes with the gorgeous Mike. But perhaps neither of those women fit into the lollipop headed mould of Ms Hatcher. (Me? Bitter and overweight? You betcha!).
Where were the ‘real’ women in these awards? Was it a pre-requisite to be a size double zero? Against the plethora of aneroxically thin nominees the six months pregnant and curvaceous Charlotte Church looked like an oversized Womble.
Being a part of the media I tend to shy away from arguments which state that our fine institution is solely responsible for a generation of anorexic and/or bulemic girls with low self esteem issues. In this case however, the facts speak for themselves. The women ‘Glamour’ magazine believes we should aspire too are all hold an unhealthy Body Mass Index and their claims to fame are questionable to say the least.
As a woman I demand we get some real heroines. I demand that we have women we can look up to without feeling insecure about ourselves, be it our physical appearance or our intellectual prowess. Where is the UK and Ireland’s answer to Oprah Winfrey- a woman who makes real differences every day between her charitable foundations, book clubs and emphasis on building self esteem?
It’s a sad reflection that the best we can muster up as a nation is Victoria Beckham. So as far as I’m concerned Glamour magazine can keep their Women of the Year Awards. It’s time for some changes.

Friday, June 01, 2007

It's out this month people!

News from Poolbeg is that Rainy Days and Tuesdays should be in the shops circa June 26 or 27, with an official instore date of July 2!

But anyway, this month people! THIS MONTH!!!

Moi? Freaking out? You betcha!
(Oh, and I'm now for sale on the Poolbeg website)

The Battle of the Mammies

A reader forwarded me an article this week about the new war being fought at school gates all over the country. As I started to read, my heart sank because again dear reader we were entering the domain of women fighting in a rather undignified manner between themselves as to who is the better parent. I
t seems, according to Lauren Booth (you know that one who was on I’m a Celebrity... and is a sister of Cherie Blair and.... well....nothing else really) the battle lines are now drawn between the Alpha Mummies and the Beta Mummies.
For those unfamiliar with the phenomenon an Alpha Mummy is the working mother who dashes between work, home and her off-spring’s many extra-curricular activities with military precision. Her children are raised on organic food and designer toys shunning the Tellytubbies and Tweenies for ‘Baby Einstein’ and classical music. She is always perfectly groomed and her children are dressed from the likes of Bennetton and speak several languages before pre-school.
According to Ms Booth the Alpha Mummy sees the home environment as a hot house for raising highly educated, well turned out children and mess has no place in her life. The Beta Mummy on the other hand doesn’t work. Nope she has chosen to stay at home with her children because she believes childhood should be about having fun and (of course) children can’t possibly have fun unless they are hanging off their mammy’s legs the whole time.
The Beta Mummy is wonderfully creative and the walls of her house are adorned with the brightly coloured masterpieces of her free spirit children. Lauren Booth likes to argue that it’s unsightly that parents seem to be arguing amongst themselves about who is the better of the two- but at the same time she shows quite clearly which side her bread is buttered on.
She is a Beta mummy and proud. Her daughter Alex is a free spirit and a “caring, loving child”- those children raised by working mothers on the other hand are destined to be “grade-obsessed, moneymaking machines”. What galls me most about the whole thing is that it’s obvious to everyone that not all stay at home mummies are free spirits who let their children do whatever they want - and not all working mothers are only interested in having perfect children who are prodigies in the making.
I, like many others, fall somewhere between the two. I work full time through necessity but that doesn’t mean I hot house my son or am only interested (as Ms Booth suggested) in having him as a status symbol or fashion accessory. (Which is a damn good thing given that usually he is kitted out in Tesco clothes covered in tomato sauce.)
It most certainly does not mean that I work because I “actually don’t want to spend time at home”. Yes, he did have a Baby Einstein DVD when he was wee, which incidentally he hated and I subsequently sold for a tidy sum on Ebay and yes, getting him out of the house in the morning requires a degree of meticulous planning but that doesn’t mean I don’t spend time with him painting silly paintings, jumping around the back garden or running along the beach letting him enjoy every ounce of his childhood.
I don’t think the fact that I encourage him to read books with me (well I read, he points and asks a thousand questions) means that I am impacting on his childhood in a negative way. If anything, it’s quite the opposite - our storytime is our favourite time of the day when we cuddle together and I get to make a plethora of funny voices without anyone looking at me as if I’ve completely lost the plot.
People seem very, very keen these days to box parents (and mothers in particular) off and call label them bad or good, dedicated or not, selfish or selfless. The reality is that very few of us fit into these neat wee boxes. There are days when I’m in uber mammy mode and I feel virtuous. Those are the days I take the wee man to ‘Toys R Us’ AND swimming, not to mention sitting down and letting him paint my kitchen floor, table, walls and encourage his free expression.
And then there are times when I’m just a normal mammy who raises her voice the odd time, threatens the naughty step, sticks ‘Cars’ on the DVD player for the jillionth time and melts to mush when he gives me a bedtime cuddle.
Through it all, be it a good mammy day or a normal mammy day the one common thread is that I am doing the best that I can. That, I would say, is true of all mothers. Some of us work out of necessity, some stay at home because they have no choice. Some are lucky to be able to make the choice that best suits them but very few of us set out to have a child without intending to love and nurture him or her the very best we can.
I would like Ms. Booth to know that there is no rule book for a happy childhood. A parent staying at home does not necessarily make for a more interested and loving parent, nor does a working parent mean that the child is not loved utterly and without reservation.
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