Sunday, May 31, 2009

So anyway, the last few days...

Thanks for the good wishes for Cara and all the prayers. It has been a hard few days - perhaps the scariest of my life - but I'm pleased to report she is home and well, if a little failed by her experience.
Things started on Monday when she developed a cold. That got worse on Tuesday so we skipped baby massage and by that evening her eyes were streaming and she was really rather miserable. She barely slept that night and was still wretched looking on Wednesday.
At around 12 noon she started crying and could not be settled. It was a high pitched roar and you can imagine that I started to worry.
That worry was made worse when I noticed a purple rash on her legs when changing her. I, like a complete loon, screamed at my husband to bring me a glass which he did and when I put it to her skin the rash didn't blanche.
At this stage I was trying to remain calm but feeling more than a little hysterical.
Thankfully our wonderful doctors agreed to see us straight away and he agreed with me that there was indeed a rash and it wasn't going away under pressure so we were sent straight to hospital.
Three days later, three doses of high strength antibiotics, blood tests and all sorts and she is home and fine. It wasn't meningitis, thank God, ut some viral infection. But my heart was in my mouth for the first 48 hours.
The main thing is my baby is home, and I am blessed beyond words.

The fat and the thin of it

The fat and the thin of it.
Driving home from the school run the other day I listened in to a discussion on the Ray D’Arcy show on Today FM about footballer Robbie Keane’s wife Claudine.
Mrs Keane appeared on the Late Late Show.
The loyal listeners to Mr Darcy’s show had quite a lot to say about Mrs Keane and the fact she looked really rather amazing just 13 days after giving birth to her son – also called Robbie.
Apparently Pat Kenny was almost tripping over himself to tell her what a stunner she was and it caused much debate among the listeners to Today FM.
There were a fair number of callers (mostly men) who made all sorts of “Fair play to her comments” and funnily enough they quite enjoyed looking at her gorgeousness.
And there were an equal number of callers (mostly women) who seemed most put out. There were those put out because the baggage had managed not to put any weight on during pregnancy. And there were those put out because she had left her young baby to come and hit the celebrity circle when, really, they said – she should have been holed up at home with her baby attached to her boobs and her hair a complete mess.
The newspapers also went mad with the news. They commended her for looking so great so soon after giving birth and I admit as someone with bags the size of large suitcases under my eyes 12 weeks after going through the same experience I did feel a pang of jealousy.
I was lucky (and when I say lucky, I mean of course I threw up every day for nine months making it virtually impossible to put weight on) not to gain weight with my latest pregnancy.(The first was a different kettle of fish altogether. I’m still trying to lose the baby weight from that one…) .
I was back in my jeans, rather smugly, six days after my little lady was born but there wasn’t a hope in hell I was looking anything remotely approaching glamorous. If anyone looked close enough they would seen my saggy tummy was almost folded into the jeans and wobbled if I so much as breathed. If my hair was washed it was a bonus. My skin became as dry as the Sahara so that any attempt to put make up on ended in a weird orange blotchy skin fiasco and as for having the energy to shave my legs to slip into a skirt? You have got to be kidding me!
It didn’t really bother me though. I mean the orange blotchy skin bothered me – especially when I saw dodgy photos staring back at me – but that was it. Other than that I was, frankly, too busy to really care. If I made it out of my jammies before 2pm it was a rare and joyous occasion. But I think, perhaps because this baby is my second (and last!), I knew that the first weeks and months were going to be tough so I accepted it. And I also knew just how fast it goes (although, admittedly at 3 in the morning it doesn’t feel as if it going fast at all) I wanted to cherish every moment with her.
I couldn’t imagine getting all glammed up to go on the party circuit or have the nation’s media dissect my appearance in any great detail. I was happy enough with the “bring your own bottle” party happening in our nursery at 4am. The dress code was much more forgiving.
But that doesn’t mean I castigate Claudine Keane for heading out on the town in her gladrags. I may be slightly jealous of how she looks and I may be cursing the genetics which mean that no matter how hard I try there is no way on this earth I will look as good as she does – be it two weeks or two years, or two decades for that matter after giving birth.
But I don’t agree that her going on the ‘Late Late’ will have a flurry of hormonal new mothers weeping into their expressed breast milk. I don’t think Claudine Keane looking great will cause a large number of women to plunge into post natal depression because their bodies haven’t snapped back to shape. In fact, it’s not Claudine’s Keane’s fault (or design) that her body has been so kind to her. She is just a jammy cow.
Where the finger of blame (if there is blame to be apportioned) is at the media (and Ray D’arcy’s exempt from my criticism because I love him) to jump on this story and make it news. “Women has baby and isn’t big fat bloater shocker”. It’s not news.It shouldn’t merit headlines. If I’m honest I didn’t even know who Claudine Keane was before this and nor did I care.
So, if the media was a little more forgiving to women who had babies and realised that what some female celebrity weighs or doesn’t weigh isn’t actually news, we might all be happier.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Get well vibes for my Cara Boodles

My baby is currently in hospital. We've had a meningitis scare and it has been awful. I'm home to grab a little rest and she will be in for the next day or so until all her blood tests are back.
She developed a purple rash yesterday after being quite unwell with cold symptoms for a few days, so she is in hospital, on high dose antibiotics and getting great care and attention.

I'll apologise in advance to those expecting their books from the giveaway. I've not been able to near a post office yet.

I'll post more about this all when she is better and home and when I'm feeling less emotional.

For now though, all healing vibes are welcome for my most precious baby girl.

Monday, May 25, 2009

When I look at my daughter


.. especially when she is asleep or smiling, I feel as if I have known her face all my life. She looks exactly how I always dreamed a daughter of mine would look and there are no surprises in getting to know her face because it has been in my dreams for years.

That might sound slightly mental but it is how I feel as if, my whole life, I have been waiting for her and now she is here and life is complete.

The first words I said to her were "Hello baby. We've been waiting for you such a long time.." I'm not sure where those words came from - we certainly didn't have a long and arduous battle to conceive her but now I think it was my way of just saying "Hey you, pretty girl who has been in my heart forever. It's so nice to finally hold you."

Sunday, May 24, 2009

It has dawned on me that this is what I look like in the mornings...


Without the fag and stubble, obviously...
(But I have managed to lose 5lbs now, which is something at least to be proud of. If only I could tackle the sleep deprived scary woman look, I'd be fine...)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Time to get Naked

The lovely people at Naked Body Care have asked me to plug the fact that for the next three weeks you can get a stonking 50% off their products if you order online.
So if you are gutted that you didn't win a copy of Feels Like Maybe then I completely suggest some retail therapy instead...

To get the discount just use the code face09 into the discount code box and they’ll half the price of your purchases until June 14th (offer excludes P&P, because Postman Pat still has to buy cat food for Jess).
To find out more visit Naked at http://www.nakedbodycare.co.uk/ or become a fan on Facebook. It's worth it for the funny updates, if nothing else.

AND THE WINNERS ARE...

Katy24286, Amanda and IrishCat!

If you kind ladies could forward me your contact details to mail@claireallan.com I'll get the books in the post.

Thank you all for your interest and for those who didn't win I'll be running another competition when Jumping in Puddles comes out in September/ October.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fecking brilliant!

Thank you for all responses to the FLM giveaway. I'll post the results tonight or tomorrow (want to give 'Journal' readers a fair shout).
You have all cheered me up no end and I've had a good laugh (in a really childish way) that I've made so many people say the acceptable swear word. (Yes, I am THAT immature!).

To clarify things, this is the paperback (Small format) edition of Feels Like Maybe which is due for release shortly. (Note lovely purple cover and fancy dan review quotes..)

Book three - Jumping in Puddles - is due for release at the end of September/ start of October and I hope to do a giveaway then too. In fact I may even do a triple whammy then and give away my back catalogue!

Anyway - check in on Saturday for definite results to the giveaway and thank you again.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

GIVEAWAY!!! Signed Copies of Feels Like Maybe


I'm definitely doing this time - so have THREE (count 'em) signed copies of Feels Like Maybe to give away to blog readers!
To be in with a shout of winning, just leave a comment (using the word FECK! if at all possible) to this thread and on Friday I'll put all the names in a hat (or probably a bowl, or Tesco bag or the like) and get the boy to pull three out.

Now I'll find out for sure if more than three people read this blog!

For those who want to know, FLM will be in the shops from June 2!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Who was your crush?


I clearly have too much time on my hands at the moment. While moseying (is that spelled right? I have baby brain, big time) I came across a group devoted to former Twin Peaks actor Dana Ashbrook - who despite the girliness of his name is very much a man.
He was the delectable Bobby Briggs in the series and when I was a teenager (many, many moons ago) I was mildly obsessed with him. I watched Twin Peaks on repeat and saw many a dodgy movie (Ghost Dad with Bill Cosby, anyone?) just because he was in it.
I was mad about him. Seriously. Posters of him even replaced those of Matt and Luke Goss on my walls.
I'd love to know what he is up to now (Considering that was about 15/16 years ago) and what he looks like.
Who was your teenage crush? And here's the big question - would you still, as you fantasised at the age of 16, still run away with them if you asked?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Going to the chapel (or indeed the civil ceremony)

That's all the talk in our house at the moment.
My sister gets married in nine weeks. We are currently trying to figure out the appropriate music for her civil ceremony. While she laughed heartily at the suggestion that she walk back down the aisle to the theme from EastEnders (Think about it "I now pronounce you husband and wife" cue dramatic drum roll....) I don't think she will go for it.
Being with child she has herself suggested "Knocked Up" by the Kings of Leon - but perhaps it won't set the right tone.
I'm useless for other suggestions. I had a big old fancy church wedding (eight years ago this month) and my music was largely religious. I walked down the aisle to a string quartet playing 'The Minstrel Boy'. Had everything from The Song of Ruth to Amazing Grace in between and walked out to a very happy 'This is the Day' song which had us all bopping in the aisles. (Canon in D was in there too, while were out in the sacristy signing the register, so I missed it).
All suggestions welcome.

And just for show, this is the version of The Minstrel Boy we had at our wedding..

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Grouchy? Just a little

It's the carb withdrawal, and the chocolate withdrawal.
I swear should I find a stray chocolate button anywhere I will eat it - even if it is covered in fluff and dirt.
But I do feel less bloated already.

I did catch an unflattering glimpse of myself earlier. I was out with the wee woman - who was safely ensconsed in her BabaSling and we were in a lift. As I looked down to check on her I caught the sight of my quadruple chins in the mirror of the lift.
Oh yes, this diet is well timed.

I've even managed to persuade the husband to eat well with me - although I dare not refer to it as a diet in his presence. Men don't diet. They "cut down". He is wandering about like a lost puppy, almost whimpering with sadness when I hand him his diet (sorry, cutting down) sized portions - which are are still twice the size of the portions I'm eating myself!

I think I may have to erect CCTV by the fridge to check he isn't cheating!

Monday, May 11, 2009

It's done...

My third book - rewritten and awaiting the official edit from the publishers.
And I love it.
And I'd forgotten just how much I loved the end and how it all works.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

You know when you see a picture of yourself...

... and you thought you had looked quite good - and it comes as a shock that you actually looked a little eeny bit like Jabba The Hut?
And you want to cry?
Or eat chocolate?
Or cry while eating chocolate?

Well that happened today - just now. A super-de-dooper fat pic of me at the wee woman's christening which was very unflattering and showed off the fact that, seriously, I don't even have a chin. I'm just mouth and neck. Swear.
And it's a fat neck.

Anyway, I'm dieting again. As of the morning. A low GI approach.
Wish me luck. But if I'm really, really crabby the next few days/ weeks you will at least know why.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Eight Things...

I'm delighted to have been tagged by the lovely Sharon McPherson for this 8 things doodah... all pretty self explanatory so here goes...

Eight Things I Like...
  • My family - especially the little ones and that includes my niece and nephew. But perhaps that is a little predictable.
  • White Wine - current wine of choice being a nice Pinot Grigio but sadly cannot think of it without hearing David Hasselhoff say the name of said wine after strange Scott Mills on Radio One type jokey thing a while back.
  • Sleep - except I don't just like sleep. I LOVE sleep. I am also a very vivid dreamer and I get very excited about my dreams. Although hate the recurring 'house is falling down around my ears'/ remember I've not cancelled the lease on my student flat / trying to pack in three minutes dreams.
  • Chinese spare ribs - guess what I'm eating right now?
  • Work - strange as it may sound. We have great banter in the office and I am missing it a lot while on maternity leave.
  • Writing - although it is more of a compulsion than a like.
  • T'interweb. I would be lost without it and I would not have made some of the nicest friends in the universe.
  • Good books - by the likes of Marian Keyes, Sharon Owens, Kate Long and many others.

Eight things I did yesterday

  • Took the wee woman for her first immunisations and comforted her as she looked at me with a kind of "why mammy why?" look on her face.
  • Picked the boy up from school and took him to get petrol - tres exciting.
  • Returned to the school to pick up my niece and had an argument with the lollipop man - yes, really. I was late and hot and bothered and he was being an ignorant fecker with no understanding of my hormonal rage. He won the argument but I seethed the rest of the day. Not my finest hour.
  • Watched the boy play Mario Kart on the Wii - he is addicted.
  • Had my tea in my lovely mammy's house - mammy chips - woohoo!
  • Came home and set about the edit - changed one aspect of the storyline.
  • Emailed my editor about use of the name Chewbacca in book 4 -yes, really.
  • Became mildly addicted to the "Five things" application on Facebook.

Eight things I wish I could do

  • Fly, right up the sky, but I can't...
  • Get a UK book deal, or indeed any book deal outside of Ireland even though I love the lovely people at Poolbeg with all my heart. I long to see "Feck" translated into French. (La Feck?)
  • Lose weight and keep it off.
  • Fix my crooked smile - preferably without the aid of expensive and more importantly painful dental work.
  • Ban the phrase "Credit Crunch" from newspapers and media outlets.
  • Know what the baby means when she says "Aaaaah na, dee dee, gooo aaah"
  • Know whether or not my car will pass the MOT on Monday before I send it down there.
  • Share a glass with my VBF just about now.

Eight things I don't like

  • People who don't indicate. I've even made up a song - honest.
  • Editing books - love the writing, hate seeing all my mistakes glaring up at me.
  • The baby's uncanny ability to start to cry as soon as I sit down to eat/ go to the loo or anything which requires the ability to use my arms.
  • Being pregnant - seriously I'm very crap at it and no use to anyone for the whole of the nine months.
  • Depression - nuff said. Don't want to get all Saturday night maudlin on youse all.
  • The fact that chocolate contains calories and generally lots of 'em.
  • Saying goodbye.
  • Jimmy Carr. He is a pain in the arse.

And now. I pass on this wonderful chalice to these talented bloggers...

Irish Mammy, Stickhead, Keris, Fionnuala, Pierre - Mon Frere and Emily.

Almost there...

... with the edit.
Of course it will then go to an editor who will request a further edit and then a copy editor who will request yet another edit, but I'm pretty confident that the book is now about the best it can be without help from an outside source/ divine inspiration.

Jumping in Puddles will go down in history as the biggest love/hate obsession of my life. I think it's a corking book - but boy has it been hard to write.
I'll liken it to my baby girl. She's amazing in every way, but pregnancy with her sucked the big one. Seriously, it was awful. But the end product was worth it.

And then, when this is done, I can turn my attentions back to the joyful pregnancy that is writing book four.

Anyway, in the absence of anything witty and funny from me, here is a little joyful snippet of the comedy genius that is Marian Keyes.
Sadly at the moment, I would love to have the chance to have insomnia!!!



Friday, May 08, 2009

Accentuate the positive

The very lovely Fionnuala has been, whether she knows it or not, kicking my arse this week about my slump in mood and general meh-ness about my career.
This has been couple with the equally lovely Keris posting on how even Marian Keyes gets the slumps when it comes to edits.
I think editing is classicly the time when you you just think "Feck it, it's all rubbish anyway. Who did I think I was trying to kid?"
So when a reviewer on Amazon (yes, I'm still harping on about that) said just those things it mirrored back my worst fears to me.
But, as Lloyd Grossman would say, let's look at the evidence.
  • I've been published twice.
  • Both books have been Irish best sellers.
  • I have had some corking reviews in the national press.
  • I have had women email me to say RD&T helped them overcome post natal depression.
  • I was able to work with Aware Defeat Depression to help other women.
  • I have been on the telly, and the radio and the papers and not made a complete arse of myself.
  • I have a publisher and an agent who believe in me.
  • I got some lovely emails/ comments after my last self pity post on here which made me smile (Thank you, genuinely..)
  • I have a third book coming out in a few short months.

So while I have a fear that I'm not good enough, I think I have to remind myself of this amazing quote...

‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond imagination. It is our light more than our darkness which scares us. We ask ourselves – who are we to be brilliant, beautiful, talented, and fabulous. But honestly, who are you to not be so?
You are a child of God, small games do not work in this world. For those around us to feel peace, it is not example to make ourselves small. We were born to express the glory of god that lives in us. It is not in some of us, it is in all of us. While we allow our light to shine, we unconsciously give permission for others to do the same. When we liberate ourselves from our own fears, simply our presence may liberate others.’

Gratuitous Friday picture of the boy



Only fair he gets a shout... here he is, and no, that wasn't real champers in his glass.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Random conversations with the boy

J: I can't wait to be a grandad. I'm going to be a daddy first. I'm going take my children out in the car for a drive and they are going to say "Daddy, was that always there?" and I will say "No children. It wasn't always there when I was a little boy."
Me: What kind of car will you drive?
J: A BMW.
Me: And how many children will you have?
J: Two, no ten, no, let me think, seven.
Me: What will their names be?
J: Dave.

A sneaky peek at Jumping in Puddles

... which has been the subject of my ferocious editing for the last few weeks.

The cemetery in Rathinch sat, as all good Irish cemeteries do, on a hill. It was shielded from the wind coming off the sea by a row of tall and sad looking trees which were shedding their leaves all over the gaudy floral displays and stony paths.
Niamh was pretty sure that if she tried she could walk to Sean's grave with her eyes closed. She had been there often since he died just to make sure the flowers were fresh and the stone kept clean. Sean would not have liked a dirty headstone - nor would he have liked wilting flowers. It would have tarnished his image and he was all about the image.
Standing at his grave she thought of all the times she had cried there and all the times she had hidden her tears because the children were there to leave pictures and presents for their daddy. Still there, on the foundation for his headstone, was a little yellow tipper truck Connor had left the last time they had visited. Normally the sight of one of her son's toys on her husband's grave would have made Niamh weep wild and hysterical tears, but today it just made her angry.
"They didn't deserve a daddy like you," she muttered, snatching it and putting it in her bag.
"And I didn't deserve a husband like you. All I ever did was love you," she said, sitting down on the damp grass.
"How could you hurt me?" she asked. "How could you deceive us? Why was I not enough? I did everything you wanted! I was the perfect wife. I cooked. I cleaned. I gave you as many blow jobs as you wanted. I polished your shoes. I never showed you up in front of any one. I never told Kevin to fuck off, even though I wanted to tell him on many, many occasions. I loved you," she said, realising that with every word she had been tearing flowers from his grave.
He loves me. He loves me not.
Standing up, she dusted herself off and looked at the gold lettering again. "Beloved husband and father". She wondered how much it would cost to alter and then, walking away knowing she would only ever come back when her children asked her, she walked through the weeping willow trees and onto the beach.
She didn't feel sad - disappointed maybe, but not sad.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Had my big cry...

... it made my head sore.
And then a few friends sent soothing text messages of support.
I've had some sleep and feel mildly better.. although that said it is 3.34am and I'm awake and online. What is wrong with that?
The lady is asleep. As is the husband and the boy. I'm down washing bottles and doing some general tidying up.
See what you did, nasty reviewer lady? You made me go all OCD and robomum for a bit?
I will however resist the urge to start hoovering. No one will enjoy that - least of all me.
I will try to get back to sleep soon - however so far tonight my dreams have largely consisted of dancing to "It's Raining Men" with the cast of Holby City/ Casualty (including Tom Chambers) and a local, to remain nameless, solicitor.
Oh and then dancing to 'Cabaret' with Liza Minelli and Judy Garland before having breakfast with my fellow site experts on Write Words.
Strange times, indeed.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Just for the record

Reading stinkers of reviews on Amazon is not good for your spirit - especially in a postnatal haze of meh-ness.
How did my my books ever get published? That's the question asked by the latest reviewer.
I know you can't please all of the people all of the time and reviews are part and parcel of the writing world but, you know, there isn't a need for nastiness either.
I have to believe that what I have written has merit. I've certainly had some lovely, positive feedback on both books. But it is at times like these when you wonder why you put your head above the parapet?
I'm quite happy in my own wee world.I keep myself to myself. I write my books, put them out there and hope for the best. I'm not determined to be right in the public eye - I just enjoy writing and the occasional bit of craic.
But there are times when I just get a bit "what's the point" about it all?
Of course I'm very priviledged to have a successful writing career and I should probably just catch myself on. And I will, I promise. Just after I have a big old ugly cry.

It's worth bringing this out again...

For a rainy bank holiday Monday... this always makes me smile.

Random conversations with the boy

J: "Mammy, I feel sick. I think I might have the chicken pops."
me: "Is your tummy sore?"
J: "Yes, I think I might bomit"

Friday, May 01, 2009

Gratuitous Friday baby picture


In the words of Stevie Wonder, isn't she lovely?

Work it, a little - or a lot

I have a new found respect for those breed of women who define themselves as Stay at Home Mummies (SAHMs to get with the internet lingo).
I admit I have on many occasions said I respect whatever decision a woman makes and that raising children is as hard as working 9-5 but secretly – like many a working woman, I imagine – I actually thought SAHMs were a bit jammy.
I mean, get up, slouch about in your PJs, watch a bit of Phil and Fern, stick a load in the washing machine, chat to their kiddies and make the dinner. Easy - or so I thought. I could do that, no problem.
I will admit, here and now, I was wrong – and exceptionally na├»ve. While I’m sure there are some SAHMs who do lounge about all day watching the telly (just as there are some employed people who have the uncanny ability to make doing nothing look as if they are working very, very hard), I have realised it is actually quite exhausting being at home all day.
How older generations of mammies did it – with umpteen wains and no labour saving devices like automatic washing machines and vacuum cleaners did it beyond me. Once again Granny, I take my hat off to you. I would be for the funny farm if I had to live like that. My washing machine broke down four weeks ago and I felt as if my right arm had been cut off. I was like a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown until my shiny new washer arrived. The poor delivery man was scared – very scared – that I might start crying or otherwise make an eejit of myself in thanks for having the power to clean clothes back in my possession.
There was something lovely about leaving the house first thing in the morning and only returning under the cover of darkness. Somehow you could miss the cobwebs in the evening and the fact that the windows needed cleaning could be ignored.
It’s not so easy when you have to face it all the time.
And when you have two children to run after (not that the baby does much running away, mind) it gets even more fun. Who would have thought a small bundle of pinkness could create so much washing. If she is like this now, I dread to think what she will be like in her teenage years.
While, to accompany this, the boy has taken to leaving to things at his rear end because mammy is home and can clean it up and, to be honest, the husband has started doing the same.
If a woman is at home there is an expectation – no matter how far we think we have progressed into the age of equality – that she will keep that house to a certain standard.
When I have complained of being tired or of being sick of housework the husband has looked at me somewhat incredulously and said “But, you are not working at the moment”.
Not working? Ha! Just because I’m not clocking in at a desk that does not mean I am not working perhaps harder than I ever have. And I’m doing something new – something I’ve never done before and never had any training for. I’ve never been a mum of two before and I’ve sure as heck never had the chance to try and keep a house to such a reasonable standard while caring for more than one other human being at any time. And all for no wages, exceedingly poor holiday entitlement and the added bonus of sleep deprivation.
I’m trying to be a little like Bree Hodge from ‘Desperate Housewives’ – all in control and perfectly on top of things but sadly I’m a little more like Susan – destined for a disaster at every turn.
On top of the baby brain (see column a few weeks back) I’ve managed to break a significant number of household appliances, drop a significant number of glasses and other breakables and realise, sadly, that I am never going to be one of those women other people look at with envy because she is such a good housekeeper.
And I’ve yet to see a complete episode of Jeremy Kyle or Loose Women. My house is relatively tidy and I’m become obsessed with finding the perfect cleaning products and hoovering every square inch of the house frequently.
The upshot of it all is that I don’t get two minutes to myself. Baby comes first, then the boy, then the housework and then writing as I’m still on deadlines for books three and four. Staying at home, an easy task? No chance.
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