Sunday, August 31, 2008
Now one of the threads currently on the fledgeling forum is about your favourite books and it got me to thinking of the first Poolbeg book I read, way, way, way back in the very early 90s.
It was 'City Girls' by Patricia Scanlan and it centred around three friends, coming through awful adversity to become a success. It was the first of a trilogy of books by Ms Scanlan on the three City Girls and I so wanted to be Devlin - officially the coolest girl on the block.
Sure she had her tough times - an unwanted pregnancy, a stint in Ballymum (one of Dublin's notorious high rise areas) and a great fecking whack of tragedy. But she pulled herself through it to become a success, find love and launch City Women - a chain of plush fitness and beauty spas.
She had a cool name, funky business suits, a sexy boyfriend and a very nice blonde bob.
So, when you were younger - who did you want to be?
Thursday, August 28, 2008
So now my sister is two weeks off giving birth to my wee nephew and today, when I received an email from her to say she was feeling a little niggly I felt that flutter of excitement again.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
"Leave a message for mummy. It's an answering machine. Say something nice."
"Mummy, I love you."
"Say something else.
"Good mummy. Great mummy. You're the best."
"Okay, say goodbye."
"Say you love her..."
"I love you so much, mummy. See you soon."
I particularly loved the "Good mummy, great mummy, you're the best".
Monday, August 25, 2008
Now being more geared up for plotting over 100,000 of the buggers I'm finding it a little tough.
I'm currently on about draft 15 - this time a story about a red pair of shoes. And it feels a bit like an exam.
A big yay for anyone who manages to write short stories without feeling they are cutting themselves off before getting into full flow. I never realised just how hard it would be.
In other news, I'm now officially 12 weeks pregnant. Whoop Whoop! I'm hoping the sickness eases soon so that I can actually finish the edit on book three which has gone on the back burner due to my general sea-sicky type feelings each evening. Computers make me nauseous - not so good for a writer.
I'm now craving a massage as I seem to be carrying loads of tension in my neck and shoulders. I might just treat myself to one when I'm off in the next two weeks (or better still persuade La Husband to treat me to one - feels even more special then!). (Donna - if you're reading this by the way I will be touch soon about the lavender pack and oils! I promise).
And finally - FEELS LIKE MAYBE IS OUT THIS WEEK!!!
IT SHOULD BE IN THE SHOPS BY THE WEEKEND - AND SHOULD BE AVAILABLE ON THE POOLBEG WEBSITE AND AMAZON IN THE NEXT DAY OR TWO.
BUY EARLY AND BUY OFTEN!!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Now, dear friends, we've spoken at length before about my fear of fish.
They scare me. They make me feel uncomfortable. They make me feel, sorry dear fishy friends, rather nauseous.
And just when I thought I could not feel any less inclined towards fish, my lovely friend Keris sent me a picture of these "beauties".
No, they aren't a joke. They are from designer Christian Leuboutin - ya know a proper fashion designer person.
Now they disturb me on many levels - not most of all because they have eyes and shoes should not have eyes. There is no need for eyes on anyone's shoes - unless you are four and have froggy wellie boots*
The second way they disturb is that wearing them would involved putting my foot inside a fish. This is something I have nightmares about. And yes I know it's not a real fish, but it might as well be. Just thinking about wee fish teeth clamping themselves around my toes makes me feel weak.
So no, Carrie Bradshaw is welcome to these bad boys.
*And yes, the boy had a froggy wellies.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
We're just about all ready in terms of uniform, school bag (which I had to order from frickin' China (thanks to Ebay) because we just had to have a Ben 10 theme), hugely expensive proper school shoes.
The boy is excited. He just can't wait to see his wee friends from nursery again and to learn exciting things like reading and writing.
What I'm not ready for, however, is the emotional leap from having my gorgeous wee man to a big boy who goes to school.
I'm of course delighted that he is independent enough to make these first important steps, but part of me just feels emotional about it. Emotional and proud.
Monday, August 18, 2008
On Friday I got this thing of beauty delivered. I've been having some special alone time with it all weekend - stroking it, cuddling it, leafing through it and marvelling at it. I mean I'm impressed - seriously impress that every word in that book was written by me. It's a year of my life - a story I love and have every faith in and it has a pink cover. What more could a grown woman want.
Ladies and gentleman, I give you Feels Like Maybe. (Available in all good bookshops from August 28).
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Her baby is as yet without a name. She’s knows the gender but has not been able to decided on a name befitting of the bump that has become known to us all as Peanut.
Naming a child, you see, is a pretty big deal. I had umpteen sleepless nights when I was expecting the boy as we tried to find (read that as agree on) a name that would suit our baby. I made my mind up very early on that should young baby Allan appear as a girl, she would be called Grace. However my husband, with his warped male logic, turned that down as it reminded him of John Innman in ‘Are You Being Served?’ (which was set in the fictional Grace Brothers’ Department Store).
Much as I tried to convince him his logic was, at best, completely illogical, he would not budge from his position and very soon we had to abandon the name Grace altogether. Which, in fairness, became less of a problem as I grew to suspect that the baby in my tummy was a boy anyway.
Now, no matter how you try and pretend, boys’ names are generally quite boring. It seemed that with a daughter there were a wealth of possibilities from Phoebe to Faith, Aoife to Niamh. When it came to boys’ names we were utterly stumped. (Being stumped of course being code for “the husband was so blinking fussy we couldn’t agree on anything”).
Eventually, about 10 weeks before he was due, I had a moment of inspiration. A friend suggested thinking of a name which had meaning to me and I just thought it would be lovely to name our baby after my late grandad - who was my childhood hero. Of course his first name was Ernest and we decided that would verging on child abuse so we opted for his middle name which is of course Joseph.
It was lovely, two weeks later, when a scan indeed reveal I was having a boy to have a name ready and waiting. (Although I had a minor hysteria induced moment in the labour ward when I made my husband promise that if the sonographer had been wrong we could in fact call the baby Grace as “she” would be born on a Tuesday).
The sonographer, however, had been right and we soon welcomed Joseph - with the middle names Peter (after my daddy) and David (after the husband’s daddy) into the fold.
Now people’s reactions to the name were mixed. I had one lady tell me off (yes, seriously, tell me off) in a shop for giving my child a name which could be shortened. I just nodded at her before making my escape from her shop without buying anything. My sister (she of the longest pregnancy in the world, ever) declared the name old-fashioned and decided she would be calling him Joe or Joey. (He is so not a Joey, for the record).
A nun visiting the hospital however declared it was lovely to see a baby with a proper name which would she would have no problem spelling or pronouncing.
We knew that we weren’t choosing a name that wasn’t as popular or trendy as Dylan or Jack or Ben but that it would always have meaning for us and that worked. This week (which is still very much part of the silly season as far as news reports go) there have been newspaper reports warning against the possible “extinction” of certain older names which have all but disappeared off the record books.
In fact, Ernest (sorry Grandad) is one of those which has lost popularity, alongside Percy, Herbert, Clifford, Stanley and Fred. For the girls, it seems we have lost favour with Annie, Gertrude, Margaret and Lilian. But if I think of the names of some of my friends’ children there are plenty of more traditional names in the mix.
There’s Lily, Charlotte, Maisie, Elizabeth, Matthew, Harry, Fred and of course Joseph.
A few years ago people would have considered any of these names a little out of favour. So I don’t think we really have anything to worry about. Names come and go in popularity. I swear the year I was born every second girl was called Claire. (I was named after the song ‘Claire’ - the moment I met you I swear...’ for the record). Okay, I don’t think my sister will be rushing out to call her new baby Herbert or Gertrude (see, I’m being very coy and not revealing which gender the peanut is) but that’s not to say that in 20 years time the names won’t see a resurgence in popularity.
And as for me, when the time comes to have another baby, I’m already preparing a plethora of reasons to knock down the husband’s wonky reasoning. I could get a Grace after all.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Thus goes the rejection from a major US publisher today.
While they loved the work *happy dance* and thought I had a great energy *happier dance* they just weren't sure the Northern Ireland sense of humour would translate to the US market and that my humour was too dark.
I suppose we northerners have a certain darkness to us (years of living under the threat of paramilitaries etc will do that to a gal)... but surely someone wants to take a chance on me?
Will keep you posted.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
So anyway I'm flicking through Tik a Brik last night and come across a picture of a lady wearing a lovely purple dress with even lovelier purple knee high boots.
"Hmmm," I think, "I like that. I'd love something just like that for my book signing. If not the dress, then definitely the boots. Oh yes, I love the boots."
So I glance up and notice that the outfit of my coveting is from an ad for Always Envive - which for the non initiated are basically incontinence pads. (Or aids for bladder sensitivity, if we are being pc).
Which leaves me with two problems. The first is that I am no further forward as to where the boots can be purchased from. Should I therefore email Always not about their fine feminine hygiene products but about their ads and ask them nicely where I can get the boots? Would that make me look slightly insane?
The second problem of course if that if I tracked down the boots, and the dress, and dared to wear them would people look at me and say "She's the Always Envive girl. She has bladder weakness! Ha ha ha!"
You can see my dilemma.
It is just so typical of me to be excited by outfits designed to promote people who leak urine.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Anyway, he is the main writer for a group called 'Love the Concept' who are also all very funny.
So I'm sharing this moment with you, from their live show.
It's an Irish traditional rendition of MC Hammer's U Can't Touch This.
It makes me snort in a very indignified manner!
(My brother is the eejit in the Val Doonican stylee jumper on the left, btw)
Monday, August 11, 2008
Click on the link to discover my deepest, darkest, secret!
I can't begin to describe how hard things have been for us - and in particular for him for the last 12 months.
This time last year we heard the company he was working for was "restructuring" (make of that what you will) and he started to look for alternative employment.
He found some, albeit with a four hour commute each day, and settled in. Things were looking good and then in early November his father took seriously ill. We knew that David had been ill for a while but being that he was 81 and stubborn as a goat we kind of thought he would always be there.
It was a shock for us that my husband was called over to his bedside (in England) while I was left holding the fort and caring for the boy at home. It broke my heart more than words can say that I could not be with my husband and comfort him during his father's last days.
And it broke my heart more when he phoned me, in his matter of fact way, to tell me David had passed away.
I travelled over the following week for the funeral - where my husband gave the most impressive eulogy and made me proud beyond words.
We returned home and business being what it was, and the property market crashing, we soon realised the new dream job with the four hour commute was a nightmare. So my husband started looking for work again - taking time to grieve, I suppose in his stoic fashion, and to spend time with our son.
We didn't expect to wait long and things were getting hairy when 5 months down the line he still wasn't working. But he has surpassed himself. Three months ago he set up his own business which is growing nicely (I'm always afraid to say "huge success" for fear that it will fall down round our ears, but we are doing okay.) He works hard to provide for us.
But through all this, there have been times when I've felt like an observer on our life together. My mother in law died just before the two of us met. My husband never really showed that he was upset (I know he was, but he was very much of the stuff upper lip school of thought).
I suppose I just assumed he was the same with his dad died and his career hit a wall.
I know now he wasn't and a lot of that hurt, anger and grief is coming out now and it's up to me to be there and ride out the storm with him.
So I'm publicly promising him, here, that I'll do that. As the song says, Come What May.
Friday, August 08, 2008
He is the light of my life and generally speaking he makes me proud and happy more than he makes me want to tear my hair out and sit rocking in a corner having a wee cry. However at the moment we are experiencing a phase that few and far between parenting manuals warn you about.
We have landed, huffing, puffing and back-chatting into the terrible four-and-a-halfs and boy it makes it terrible twos look like a fun filled afternoon in Bananas.
The child - the son who I have always been impeccably proud of - has turned into a three and a half foot version of Victor Meldrew meets Kevin the Teenager.
Generally I consider myself to be well up on parenting matters, but I was so not prepared for this. I was expecting a glorious final summer with the boy before he started at big school and instead we’ve been spending more and more time issuing warnings, becoming familar with the naughty step and sticking stars on reward charts (or not, as the case quite frequently is).
I’ve had to zip my mouth closed not to make mention that this kind of behaviour won’t be tolerated at primary school as we have been warned not to use the big school as a threat - but the result is that I’m at the end of my tether.
Now when the boy is good - he is very, very good. He remains one of the most affectionate children on the planet who heaps kisses and cuddles on those he loves and is always ready to offer a hug is someone looks upset. He can also contentedly while away happy hours playing with his toys or his friends with not so much as a hint of a whinge.
But when he is bad.... well you know the rest. I wasn’t expecting to deal with the surly response of “Don’t want to. Don’t have to. Not going to. N. O. spells no” just yet. I was hoping to have at least nine years of a nice, lovely, respectable son to look after until that hit.
Nor was I prepared to hear phrases such as “Because I said so” or “Stop whining before I give you something to whine about” coming out of my mouth just yet. I imagined I would stay on my floaty (mostly) calm mammy cloud for another wee while and that we would have spent all spare time this summer skipping hand in hand along the sandy shores of Buncrana Beach or laughing madly as he hurtled down a slide in the playpark.
I suppose I was living in a happy parenting bubble where there were occasional flashes of tantrums and huffs but we more or less got on just fine.
Now I’m told it’s natural and just one of those phase things. I’m told that it’s common for children, just before they start at the big school, to have one major flurry of boldness to push the boundaries and come back from it all feeling reassured that you still love them. I’m told this - but I’ve only been told this in the last week or so.
It seems that this particular phase is yet another one of those parenting secrets that is only divulged on a need to know basis. In fairness if someone had sat me down at the start of this whole foray into the world of parenting and told me exactly, and in graphic detail, what I was letting myself in for I would have run screaming for the hills. Parenthood offers so many surprises that it is most certainly not for the faint hearted.
And yes while it is, for the most part, one of those life choices where the good outweighs the bad there are times when you seriously start to fantasize about it being a job you can take a holiday from. However these joyful little phases, it seems, are something you just have to ride out. But it has given me a glimpse into the teenage years to come and heart is filled with a sort of cold dread.
I remember so well when he was a little tiny baby and mad with colic and generally quite grumpy and I was like the living dead. “You think it’s hard now,” one well meaning ‘friend’ commented, “wait ‘til he’s older. That’s when the real hard work starts.” At the time I resisted the urge to point my puking baby in her direction, but now I think she might have had a point.
With all that in mind, however, it is my job as a parent to guide my child through these storms and remind him, even when he is doing my head in, that I do still love and I will forgive his tantrums and huffs because that is what mammies’ do.
And I knew that before signing up to the whole parenting deal. As many a good Derry mum has done before me, I’m just going to have to take my oil and get my happy child back on track.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
What a refreshingly wonderful read. I personally want to jump to my feet and give Ulrika a standing ovation.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
I'm sharing it because it has a message for everyone and especially for me.
I think sometimes we stop believing that we have a voice worth sharing and that we can make a difference. It feels arrogant sometimes to raise a hand and say "Yup, that's me, touching people's lives", but why should it be?
Anyway, enjoy this please.
Please go out there and do. Live. Don't be the same as yesterday. Don't live vicariously online. Don't use language that has no meaning or talk ideas you don't really live. Don't hide. Don't copy others or live their ideas or life. Don't fear doing your thing. Don't fear doing.
Instead of reading a decorating magazine, paint that room. Instead of thinking of baking, do up a cake. Run, walk, bike. Put that self help book down and pick up yourself.
Let go of the snark, your worries, your anger and fear and give into possibility, action, joy and life. Do. Do some more. Stop thinking about you. Stop blogging about just you and your kid and your pet.
There's a world out there to connect to, really connect to. Being of use is more important than being popular. Think about the lady down the street, the person at the drive through, the man fallen in the street, about politics, the environment, healthcare, another country and then do something about it. Never stop at thinking.
Dream big, work harder. Have lots of fun, lift a finger, do something for someone else. Cheer your friends on. Cheer yourself up. Celebrate as much as possible. Enjoy everything. Right now. It's OK to want more and do more but be present with where you are or who you are with. Don't rush the situation - even if it's bad. Move on when you can. Don't settle. Try everything you can and get over everything holding you back.
Go outside. Go outside yourself. Make a difference, make some change. Don't complain about someone unless you're talking to that someone. Don't complain about a situation you're not willing to make better. They don't have it better and you don't have it worse. Don't make excuses. You'll never see possibility if you do. And you're smart and worth more than settling for a life of complaining and limitation.
Hope. Hope more. Give someone else hope. Get healthy and contribute to a healthy environment. Think about everything you do, you buy, you say. Only be lazy on Sunday and even then, be conscious. Rest is useful, giving up is not.
Play. Remember what it's like to be seven. Remember to listen to a seven year old because you just have more words and life experience, not necessarily more wisdom. Have more questions than answers and don't put everything into words. Sometimes just feel things and be. Be quiet more often, listen harder, talk exactly as you mean to.
Strive for your best and not what you think someone elses' best is. Follow through. Don't let others down. Don't let yourself down. You are better than your circumstances. Ask for what you're worth. Make magic happen don't wish for it. Don't envy others' lives, envy yours. Live it fully. Teach by example how to live well, how to be treated, how to be kind, how to be alive.
Do. I can't stress that one enough. Take action on your life. Make the change. No more sulking, waiting, thinking, reading, talking about.
It's time. You're ready.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
My new MC, that is.
I think it could work - although it's neither funky or Irish. It does however allow me to reference John Denver again which will keep my daddy happy.
The first chapter is forming nicely in my head - just have to do the actual physical work and write the damn thing.
Am hoping one of these days someone will invent some sort of brain reading machine which will allow you think your book and it magically appear on the screen.
However, I know that's likely to be hard - because my brain is a bit distracted generally and I'd probably get three lines of book, one line of random thought about dinner, one line about how Joseph is growing up, a weird thought about how my back/ legs/ tummy/ head is aching and then three more lines of book.
The edit might just kill me on that one.
(And of course I'm not avoiding the edit on Book 3 by thinking of Book 4... not at all).
Monday, August 04, 2008
It's a strange mix of emotions - reading, editing, adding to a manuscript you have ceremoniously declared "Finis" not a week before.
First of all as you read it you weep tears of joy at the bits that work - at the dialogue, sense of place and lovely things you have basically forgotten writing. I some times think the good writer genie has come in and fiddled with my work in my absence like the wee elves from the Elves and Shoemaker. (I loved that book when I was little, by the way - all the fancy shoes with the fancy buckles...).
You also do a fair share of cringing too - at the mistakes, the bad sentence structure, the typos. (I drop small words a lot. I think it's a shorthand thing) Sometimes I read a sentence and wonder what the feckity feck I was thinking. It makes no sense. It has a joyful randomness. I can only think I battered down a line from whatever was on the telly at the time.
And sometimes you just want to cry when you realise there is a glaring plot hole that requires major surgery.
Still I promise myself that when this is done, I get to write the next one - and it's going to be a lot of fun.
Friday, August 01, 2008
So Nadine Coyle has cellulite. Stop the presses. It seems that our lovely local lass’s legs are once again headline news - but the truth is, do we really care?
And do newspaper editors really think that we really care?
The Daily Mail this week (I know I shouldn’t read it, but it helps give me a focus for my anger) published one of those “shock, horror” type exposes about the 23 year old’s “losing battle with the dreaded dimple thighs”.
It makes it sound oh so serious, doesn’t it? There is something in the Mail’s reporting which puts the dreaded dimple thighs up there with Rabies, the Ebola Virus and Bird Flu.
We have to wonder how the stunningly beautiful, successful and talented young Derry wan gets out of bed in the morning. Surely the weight of her dimply thighs weigh her down to the bed? Surely, as she wanders about in her hot pants and designer Uggs the only thought going through her head should be the godawful state of her legs. The shame of it.
Of course when you look at the “shocking” photos of our Nadine, her “dimply thighs” look just fine. She may or may not have the eeniest bit of cellulite or it might just be a bruise.
Either way, I doubt she is losing much sleep over it. She is a fit, healthy and attractive young woman at the top of her game. She is among one of our most successful exports and has achieved the adoration and admiration of thousands of fans.
The pictures of her a week before performing at the Isle of Wight would have the average Derry woman turning green with envy. There wouldn’t be a chance in hell that I would ever, or will ever, fit into any of the figure hugging outfits La Coyle has been wearing, nor is there any chance that even nipping out to the shops I would look half as glam.
If The Mail want to see what real cellulite looks like they should stop off at Buncrana Road some morning where they will be able to see a harassed mammy/journalist/ author with dreaded dimple thighs that could make a grown man weep. (Or indeed a grown woman). W
e’re not likely to be shocked that Nadine has (possibly) some dimples on her thighs. If the average observer is anything like me they will be staring at their own definitely dimpled legs and wishing for a good dose of dysentry to shift a few pounds (or stone) and a year with a personal trainer to sort themselves out.
A few of us may even have started to look at the vacuum cleaner with a keen eye wondering if it would be at all possible to perform a DIY liposuction job.
Now I’m a journalist and I know that the summer season is a quiet one. It has long since been known as the “silly season” when stories which wouldn’t normally make the news seems to find their way to the front of the paper - but I don’t get how - even on the silliest of silly days, one little patch of imperfection on a singer’s legs is newsworthy.
Then again, in the same edition the paper debates whether Catherine Zeta Jones has gotten too skinny, discusses the £11,000 Britney has spent to get back in shape and lambasts Desperate Housewives star Nicolette Sheridan for her bingo wings. Radio One DJ Chris Moyles had an accident with some hair clippers too - so you know the paper has proved they can give men a touch as well.
But I do wish with all my heart that people just didn’t care who had cellulite, or who has lost a bit of weight or put on a few pounds. It’s just boring and all smacks a bit of the school bullies who sit at the edge of the playground trying to look tough and cool by slagging everyone else off.
I didn’t like those kind of girls in school and I don’t like them now as an adult. Surely there is nothing noble about spending your working day spotting imperfections in others and holding them up for the world to see. (By the way, before you write in, I’m aware I’m doing the same - but what I’m criticising here is lazy journalism - what they are criticising is ordinary women with imperfect bodies.)
There are few if any women out there who are flawless and I’m of the firm belief that she without wrinkles should cast the first jar of body firming cream.
I suppose, however, I should be envious - not only of Nadine and her designer pins - but also of those people out there in newspaper land who have nothing more substantial to worry about than which celeb has exposed a tiny flaw that day.