Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Go forth and feel guilty...

So in less than two weeks time I will officially be re-entering the world of full time working - my maternity leave drawing to a swift close.
I've been off work for 8 months but working, in some capacity, for most of that - be it writing my column, writing my novels or trying to generate publicity. (And contrary to the beliefs of the husband who does actually exist - it is in fact 'work' - not a hobby, or an interest. It doesn't stop being work just because I enjoy it...)
But in two weeks time I'm back to the 9-5 (or the 9-6) and that means, if you believe all you read in the papers  my darling children are hooped. I might as well buy them extra large clothes just now and start stocking up on supplies of insulin and burgers (or something).
Now, this is where I get annoyed. And I know there are those out there who say that the article is actually useful research and will maybe prompt the government to accept that mothers have a valuable role to play in the home (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha..... yes, I thought that was funny too) but the truth is it just feels like another stick to beat working mothers with.
We do our best. I have to work, if I'm to put any food (healthy or otherwise) on my childrens' table. If I want to pay for football club or swimming lessons, or buy a new bike or scooter then I HAVE TO WORK. If I want my child to benefit from such basics as a roof over his/her head, clean clothes and shoes that fit then I HAVE TO WORK.
And I have to work long hours. The industry I work in is not famed for its family friendly approach to working - and while my bosses are as accommodating as possible, I still have to work round deadlines and publication slots and such things and that means I can't walk to school in the mornings. (I chose a school close to my work so I could be there for my son if he needed me during the day - and that means school is 5 miles from our house so not the average morning stroll anyway). It means I can't be home at 4.30 to prepare an organic feast and that I'm not always available for a trip to the park for a run-a-round.
But I (and the husband who does exist) do the best we can to provide a healthy and well rounded upbringing for our children.
So how about these researchers turn their attentions away from working mothers for a change and instead research the impact of a government which does not financially support the right of a mother (or father) to stay at home and parent their children?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Following on from an email I had from a reader...

I'm very, very sorry if my use of the word "feck" offended you. I promise I will try harder.
But thank you for reading and letting me know what you thought - and indeed that you liked the book apart from that.

But it did remind me of this... if I can be so bold...

Random conversations with the boy - part a jillion

So the boy pulled a muscle in his neck this morning and couldn't move his head without screaming out in pain. My heart was breaking into a million pieces for him as there was nothing I could but offer Calpol and some heat to the muscle.
He steadfastly refused both and started to dose off again, only to wake and say

J: "Mammy, mammy, I want some pasta."
Me: "Pasta? Are you sure?"
J: "No, no, not pasta. That other thing.... Calpol..."

So ....eep! The scariness gets scarier

I'm more scared of how JiP will do than I was about any of my other books. I think with RD&T I had no expectations at all. I wanted FLM to just do as good as RD&T (and it did a little better) but with this one, I just want it to do something.
I am acutely aware of how competitive the market is out there and I hope my last two books have given me enough of a readership for Jumping in Puddles to make an impact.
It's not about money, or fame - just about being read and enjoyed and maybe a chart position.
Prozac at the ready folks.. a double dose.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I survived Dublin

And I didn't throw up. Which was good. It was definitely much better than this time last year....
And I signed lots of books and smiled and talked the talk and walked the walk, and ate in a very nice restaurant in Malahide (which I now only hear in my head in a big Dublin accent).
Jumping in Puddles is selling well in it's first week - the first review is in and it's lovely and things are getting set for the rest of my career.
One lovely bookseller (Helen in Easons at one of the M50 stores) even very kindly told me I was already a big name.Which I thought was very kind of her indeed.
And then I came home - and my boy almost imploded with excitement at seeing me. The girl, on the other hand. seems set on making me suffer for daring to leave her. It's gonna be a long 18 years.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Things that I have learned today

  • That I can drive to Dublin without the aid of a Sat Nav and only get lost once - which is half the amount of times I got lost when I drove with the Sat Nav.
  • That I really, really can't sing.
  • That James Taylor's 'Fire and Rain' has mucho two many key changes and I sound particularly bad when singing it.
  • That Natasha Beddingfield's 'Unwritten' remains the perfect song to listen to when on the book promo trail.
  • That I can forget an inordinate amount of things in my car and have to go back to said car (in the bowels of a big car park, far away from my room) at least three times.
  • That my agent is still a big fan. (Thank feck for that.)
  • That hopefully other people will be big fans too.
  • That I actually have no understanding of the value of a Euro and could be very easily ripped off and not know.
  • That even fat calf boots are not entirely wide enough for my fat calves.
  • That hotel hairdryers are shite - which is only compensated for by the joy of a power shower.

Monday, September 21, 2009

This is the scary part

... Knowing that the book is "out there" and waiting to see if people like it.
It's the same kind of feeling I get every day when the boy goes to school and I wait patiently to see if he has behaved for the teacher and done all the work he should.
It's not a nice feeling. It's a kind of sick feeling.
Through everything - housework, baby-looking-after, planning for my trip to Dublin, I am paralysed by the thought that somebody, somewhere just might be reading it. I want to visit them all, and knock on their door and explain the bits they don't get, or nod when they say a bit made them cry, or just beg them to like it.(bribery is not out of the question).

In other news - my washing machine is allegedly fixed. We didn't get a new one but from what the repair man said, he basically replaced every part of it apart from one screw or something...but it's still only a repair.
We shall see - I have yet to build up the courage to switch the thing on and leave the room. It could be a long winter spent in the kitchen watching the washing machine...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Smile - you're on not so candid camera

So yesterday, in our first move for a new publicity campaign championing the very best of Northern Irish writing talent I went to the village of Donaghmore for a photoshoot with fellow authors Emma Heatherington and Fiona Cassidy.
I'm not who is comfortable in front of the camera - the fact that both the other girls are short and thinner than me (Emma is a total vamp, seriously... gorgeous) didn't help. In fact I felt like the BFG in their company.
But the craic was good - we laughed, we talked publishing, we teased each other about our books (Mine is bigger than theirs, just so as you know) and I learned the best lesson of the day.
The photographer was a very lovely man called Jim Hamill and as I tried to suck in my (considerable) belly and complained of same he looked at me, straight faced and said "At the end of the day, it's not about the belly" - and I'm making that my motto from now on, just so as you know.

Anyway - the pics are fab and we Northern girls are ready to take on the world.
Watch this space!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A surreal day

Today was the official day that Jumping in Puddles was release - of course that doesn't actually mean it is in every shop - just that today is the day it was released from a warehouse in Baldoyle to make its merry way into the book shops around the country.
Release days are strange - you wake feeling all excited and then the day pans out pretty much as other days do. Except today will always go down in history as the day my book came out and my (new) washing machine almost caught on fire.
Now before I launch into a rant about my new washing machine and its combustibility (is that a word?) I should say I am grateful that I'm okay - that we are all okay because it could have gone very, very wrong.
This morning I loaded the machine at 4am. I do this sometimes in a fit of OCD insomnia but for some reason I decided not to switch it on - which I normally would and had planned to do so that I could hang the towels out first thing.
Instead I went back to bed and didn't put the machine on til 11. I pottered about, thinking about book launches and such things, and looking after the baby before taking her upstairs for her midday nap.
Now normally, if I can, I would have a wee lie down beside her for this nap and close my eyes but I knew I had things to do so I lay with her til she fell asleep before making my way downstairs.
Which was filled with steam - belching out of my machine. While there was also a foul and mysterious (rubber burning, laundry detergent, dampy icky) odour and when I touched the machine I almost  burned the hand off myself.
This was NOT GOOD. I was pretty sure this was not meant to happen. And when I touched the detergent drawer and it felt off in my hands - kind of melted and warped and all out of shape I kind of freaked.
The whole thing was turned off - just as the water boiled (yes actually bubbled) in front of the wee glass door and I phoned the machine company to rant.
They are sending an engineer. And engineer will be feck all use when it comes to remoulding plastic and I do not trust the machine any more because if I had switched the fecker on at 4am we could have been burned in our beds. If I had gone to sleep beside the baby, as I normally do, we could have been burned in our beds.
Burned in our beds is not my idea of a nice time.
In fact if I were to make a list of things I never ever want to do, I would say being burned in my bed would be right up there.
I fear a battle brewing ...

And when I went into town later, my book wasn't in the shops yet.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

70,000 words down


So this week I HAVE A NEW BOOK OUT!!!

Yes, the release of Jumping in Puddles has been brought forward and it will be starting its arrival into the shops from this weekend.
I got my author copies on Monday and what a thing of beauty they were. I actually think it's the "best looking" book of my three and I would read it if I picked it up (of course, I would say that, wouldn't I?).

Anyway, it really is very good so if you want to read please do so!
Thanking you kindly.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What a swell party that was

So on Friday night I went out. Like proper out. To a place that was not A) A school or B) a baby clinic.
I went out with a proper handbag. It is shiny and purple and gorgeous and I felt all enamoured with myself because it didn't even have one nappy in it. Not one. And no dummies, or bibs, or jars of  mush or random Lego figures or Ben Ten toys.
It had  a purse, some keys, some lip gloss (I remember lip gloss!) and a mobile phone. If someone had stolen it there would have been not one clue that I'm a mammy. Instead I was just a woman. Wearing lipgloss.
And clothes which didn't smell of baby sick.
I went to restaurant with my mum, my aunts and my lovely granny whose birthday it was. And I ate lovely food (tobacco onions, yum!) and had the craic and then I went to my aunt's house where my cousin was celebrating her engagement and I sat there until ..... wait for it..... 3.30am!
Yes, I was awake to 3.30 in the morning AND IT WASN'T BECAUSE A BABY WAS MAKING ME STAY AWAKE!
I was drinking (wine, wine and fizzy wine) and having yet more craic and talking with my cousin's intended who wasn't one bit (obviously) bored by my wittering on about writing and then. because my husband (who does exist) is lovely I was allowed a "dirty stop out" pass and I went back to my mum's where I slept in her spare room and woke up when I wanted to and not at all just because a baby was going meh wah meh wah at 3am (when I was slightly three sheets to the wind anyway).
So I'm delighted to announce that I am in effect still a human being and not just a mammy. And while I love the mammydom- I love the purple handbag wearing, lipgloss slicking on, wine drinking, stop-outing me perhaps as much.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

It has come to my attention...

That some people are not actually sure whether or not I have a husband as I don't mention him all that often.
Now, for the record, I do. I've been married for eight years to a man who puts up with all my madness, is a great daddy to our two kids and who works very hard to provide for his family.
He has been my rock over the last year through a very difficult pregnancy and early days with the wee woman.
From the moment I saw him, 12 years ago, I knew he would be someone special to me and he is.
Sure we have our disagreements but we are together and going strong.

The reason the Mr doesn't get mentioned all that much here is that he's a shy sort. And I used to talk about him a lot - which prompted his friends/ family etc to phone him up and rib him no end. So I kind of don't talk about him too much (apart from a recent article for the Belfast Telegraph in which he is mentioned in perhaps too intimate a detail).
But yes, I'm married. And he's lovely. And I love him.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Reasons why you shouldn't blog while sligthtly tipsy

  • You will most likely have a few typos
  • You have to have to keep re-reading your psot post to correct mistakes (or not... spot the deliberate error)
  • You will wonder why the V and the B key on your keyboard have decided to swap places..
  • You will worry that that what you are saying is a pile o'shite
  • It probably is
  • At least you aren't gusging huushing gushing about your wains/ husband/ friends/ lovely people at Poolbey Poolbeg
  • You will forget why ou syous you started this in the first place
  • You will lose all inhibitions (Bum, arse, feck, boob).
  • You will regret it in the morning

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

It's oh so freezing...

Lovely and sunny here in Derry but by crunchie, it's cold.
I'm sat here curled up in my big cardi usually only worn outside and there are icicles forming on my fingers as I type.
I've packed away my summery sandals and am back in sensible boots and warm socks and I'm on the hunt for the perfect winter coat and long boots to wear with tights and heavy skirts and scarves.
I'll be getting the gloves out soon too for driving - if only I could remember where they are.

Ah Autumn.... don'tcha just love it?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Stolen from Sharon - a few of my favourite things

Band: I don't think I have a favourite. I have reached that age where I no longer know what is cool.

Song: Stevie Wonder - Signed, Sealed, Delivered.

Pop Quote: "Yours is the first face that I saw. I think I was blind before I met you." from Bright Eyes - either that or that Bluffin with my Muffin line from Lady Gaga for the comedy value.

Live Act: I know this is cringeworthy, but Westlife. (I know, you no longer respect me, do you?)

Celebs I fancy: Hugh Laurie, and of the men folk in Grey's Anatomy or Private Practice - esp McDreamy, Dermot 'the eyebrow' Murnaghan.

Secret pop song I love: Shocked by Kylie Minogue

Song that makes me cry: Too many, but Sharon's answer reminded me of  Don't Give Up by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush

Clothes: Jeans, heels, tailoured T-shirts and nice jewellery

Colour: Purple

Handbag: My new purple one which my sister bought me for my return to work.

Magazine: What else but Tik a Brik?

Perfume: Thierry Mugler's Alien or Chanel Number 5

Drink: Pinot Grigio

Actor: What the hell, you no longer respect me after Westlife, so I admit it's Sandra Bullock.

Food: Hot buttered plain bread toast

TV: House, Grey's, Private Practice, Desperate Housewives, Secret Millionaire, Strictly.

TV Character: Lynette in Desperate Housewives - so resourceful and grounded. Phoebe in Friends - free spirited. And Blacche in Corris is hilarious.

Tea or Coffee: Tea.

Biscuits: Chocolate hobnobs.

Crisps: Tayto Cheese and Onion - the crisp that keeps on giving.

Weirdest Dream: I have a recurring dream that I find out I never cancelled the lease on my old flat/ house and owe 13 years of rent - but the flat/ house has all my old belongings still in it and I get to discover them again. Would love to know what the hell that's about.

And it goes a little something like this...

  • 2am: Baby wakes. I get up, replace dummy, stumble back to bed.
  • 4am: Baby wakes. I nudge the husband. He gets up, replaces dummy, stumbles back to bed.
  • 6am: Am paralysed by notion that this is my last hour of sleep. Therefore cannot sleep. Every snuffle from the baby makes me more awake. Lift pillows, leave room and crawl in beside the boy while trying to make sure I wake up before the alarm so that it doesn't wake the baby.
  • 7ish: Get up as I'm physically, if not mentally, now wide awake.
  • 7.30ish: Get the boy up and start the morning "Please, please, please just get ready for school routine" while hubby feeds the baby and does early morning nappy duty (which usually saves me from the first poop of the day).
  • 8.30: Leave house for school run. Takes too long. Get wet in inevitable 9am downpour. You could set your watch by it.
  • 9.15: Get home, clean - bottles, washing, hoovering (baby is napping at this stage... I envy her).
  • 10.15: Sit down to write.
  • 10.20am: Baby wakes up. Needs fed. And changed. And entertained. And encouraged to sit upright and learn new skills.
  • 12noon: Baby becomes tired and cranky but it's too close to lunchtime for her to give into sleep without being fed so I dole out some home cooked mush and heat it, hoping she won't turn her little cute nose up at it or move her head in such a manner that her nose is blocked with all the mush.
  • 12.45pm Clean mush out of screaming baby's nose.
  • 1pm: Try to convince over tired baby to GO TO SLEEP!
  • 1.15pm: Sit down to write.
  • 1.20pm: Start fielding calls from family members wanting to order a taxi from Claire's Taxis/
  • 2.30pm: Baby wakes, taxi gets loaded, messages are done.
  • 5pm: Load baby with more mush - and toast, which I then have to pick up in soggy lumps from around her high chair. Then go and collect the boy and do his homework and make sure he is fed - not mush, thankfully.
  • 7pm: Try to encourage the husband to take break from work to help with the tag-team bed/ bath routine. Start to feel twitchy and crave some wine.
  • 8pm. The Girl sleeps!
  • 8.30pm: Read 'The Wobbly Jelly Hunt' for the 25000 time... and then the boy sleeps.
  • 8.55pm: Dishes, washing, hoovering, packing lunches, ironing school uniform.
  • 9.45pm: Sit down to write. Remember have not actually eaten anything since lunch time. Too tired to cook so eat unhealthy chocolatey thingummy. Write 6 words. Pat self on back. Collapse in coma.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Random Conversations with the Boy - continued

Let it be a lesson to you all - never point out your grey hairs to a five year old with a death obsession.

"Mammy, is this is the start of you getting to be a very old woman? Are you just an ordinary old woman now? I don't like that. Your face will start to look scary and I'll have to move out."

Oh how I love this moment

There comes a time in the writing of each book when the last line pops into my head.
I always kind of know what I want my characters to achieve but I don't always know how I'm going to get them there. I've been crucified with writers' block (which sounds like a bad dose of constipation) for the last few days and my usual tactic of going for a wee lie down and a think hasn't been working - mostly because I keep falling asleep as soon as my head hits a pillow.
But this morning as I wrote, it became clear and it's going to be fab. And the last line is just waiting to be written (in approximately 44,000 words time... eep!)  but now at least I know exactly where Annie is going and there are going to be more than a few laughs along the way.
I don't think I have enjoyed writing a book as much as this one!

And on another note - many thanks and a big hello to all the new readers of this blog! Nice to see you!

Friday, September 04, 2009

So the clinic...

... is a very strange place indeed. I arrived just before 10 and was led to a small room mostly filled with men, which worried me a little as it very definitely the breast clinic.
Shortly thereafter I was invited through to another room where I was given a very fetching hideous blue gown to wear. I had strip to my waist, let the puppies hang free and put the gown on backwards for easy access.
I was then directed to yet another waiting room - this time with no other men but loads, and I mean loads, of women all wearing the same blue gown. This made me feel incredibly sad. Playing the simple statistics someone in that room was going to get bad news - it was like a really dodgy version of Deal or No Deal, except with boobs... and no money.
I looked around at each woman and wondered what her story was. There were women of every age, every boob size and each had a vaguely terrified look on their face though we tried to cover it all up by laughing along with the Jeremy Kyle show on the telly.
I watched as each woman was called one after the other and led away into smaller rooms before coming back, or leaving. It seemed the more times you came back to the room, the more tests you were likely to have.
I was called out, and led to a small room where a kind doctor with thankfully warm hands was waiting to examine me. He asked a few questions, had a quick feel and said that while it was probably hormonal I would maybe want to have a mammogram.
And while I didn't really want to have my breasts squashed in a vice like X-ray machine, I did want to leave the clinic with a definitive answer.
So I went back to the waiting room, and waited and then was called to a side room where a very lovely little nurse squished my boobs into all sorts of weird shapes until they hurt and took X-rays.
And it was back to the waiting room.
Of course being the drama drawers that I am, I then convinced myself that even if the lump I had felt was nothing to be concerned about that there might be something more sinister lurking out of my immediate reach. (I read far too much Tik a Brik, you see... where people always fine something more sinister lurking out of their immediate reach).
Ten minutes, which felt a little like ten hours, passed before I was called in and told I was all clear. Yes, there is thickening of the breast tissue. No, it isn't anything serious. No, it doesn't require treatment and yes, I could go home with my mind at rest.
I degowned, dressed, cast one last look at the women still waiting and offered a wee prayer for them and then I walked outside and burst into tears.
I'm okay and I am beyond grateful for that.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

A day early but.... Happy Half Birthday Baby Girl!

Dear gorgeous precious baby girl,
You have turned my life around. From the moment I first touched the top of your head as you were being born you had me entirely.
From the second you were placed in my arms I knew that I would do anything and everything to protect you, care for you, love you and raise you to be a strong, confident and happy young woman.
You were born into a family filled with love - a mammy and daddy who adore you, a brother who worships you and a host of aunties, uncles, grandparents and cousins who see you only as the gorgeous angel that you are.
I have never known a baby to be so happy - to smile so constantly. I have also never known one so young to talk so much - you have been babbling from just a few weeks old and it's constant (and loud) stream of chatter from morning to night.
One look at you brings on a smile that would light up the world - I hope you never forget that my darling, how your smile can change things for the better.
And when you sleep, your wee hands pressed together as if you are saying your prayers, you make my heart swell with love and pride.
It has been a joy to get to know you these last six months - and I can't wait for happens next - to see your personality grow, your chatter turn into proper little words, your smile grow more beautiful.
Thank you for being my most precious little princess.
Love always,

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

There's a reason I love this fugly photo

First of all there is a thumb in the corner.
And I have at least three chins.
And a very, very, VERY fat face.
It is not a flattering photo - even though it was taken on the one day this year when I was full on glammed up for my sister's wedding.
It is, in fact, on first glance an ugly picture.
But I'm smiling the person who took the photo and I can see the love and joy in my eyes and the warmth of my smile for the photographer.
And the photographer, whose thumb you see at the corner of the picture, is my boy. And I hope he sees that smile (but not the chins) every time he looks at me.

Well, the appointment is on Friday

I'm to bring a friend, and allow two hours for various procedures and tests.
I do not like the word "procedure". I have a sinking feeling it will involve my right boob, a squishy mammogram machine, perhaps a needle and maybe some gentle prodding.
Now I'm all for gentle prodding in the right circumstances... but not by a stranger wearing latex gloves and staring at me intently. (And yes, I am fully aware that there are people out there who would pay for that.)

I have a calmness around me now. I know that things will most likely be just fine.
And I will be drinking the largest bottle of wine on Friday night to get over it all.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...