Thursday, October 29, 2009

RIP - Lappy the laptop

Although technically, she's not dead yet.
Just on life support.
Awaiting a brain transplant (please God).
But I fear she is gone. And I'll have to get a new one. I do remember hearing of one author who burnt out a laptop with every book - this one has served me three novels.
And I'm going to miss her.
And scream if I can't get my book off the harddrive.

Lesson for the day: Back up. Back up. Back up.

Another cracking review!

"Claire Allan is just getting better and better"

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Is it wrong....

That I'm eating a delicious salad for lunch and contemplating what chocolate bar I might treat myself to later?
All that and I'm preparing to interview Donna Hazelton who won 'Musicality' on Channel 4 several years back. I have interviewed Donna before and made an eejit of myself as I was a huge fan of the Channel 4 show. So I have to try and not do that "ohmygodiamtalkingtothatladyoffofthetelly" thing that did last time.
Maybe I'll eat the chocolate after.

Monday, October 26, 2009

She doesn't sleep

I mean. EVER.
She is awake. Always.
And chatting.
And I'm very, very proud that she can say da da da da da da and blow raspberries and just about manage to clap her hands together.
But I would love her to sleep.
Just a little.
And not say dadadadadadadada at 3 in the morning and keep saying it until it is time to get up.
I am very tired.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Random conversations with the boy - the dangers of a silent letter...

Joseph: "Mammy, what's a Hoor?"
Me: (stunned) "A what?"
J: "No, not a hoor....(thinking) What's the word?"
Me: (momentary sigh of relief)
J: "No, not a hoor. A whore. Mammy, what's a whore?"
Me: "Where on earth did you hear that word?"
J: (with a roll of the eyes) "Everyone uses it Mammy. It's an American word."
Me: "Well, it's a very, very bad word. And you aren't to use it."
J: (Rolling eyes again) "It's not a bad word Mammy. It just means an hour later..."
Me: (penny dropping - the boy is learning to read... phonetically) "The H is silent Joseph. It's just pronounced Hour."

Hubby (who does exist) quite rightly pointed out that it could be worse. Joseph could well have told his teacher we were all getting an extra hoor in our beds this weekend.

I'm a viewer, get me out of here

I’m disturbed people. Very disturbed. It seems you see Ireland is getting a bad run of it lately.
As a nation of (supposed) singers and scholars, we seem to be letting ourselves down on a huge scale these days
And by that I mean that we have, to our eternal national shame, inflicted the walking parody that is John and Edward on the viewing public.
It was bad enough when we came up with the concept that was B*witched (really dodgy 90s girl group, for those who have locked that particular memory in the dark recesses of their mind) and put that bloody turkey through for the Eurovision. As if that weren’t enough to eternally mortify us as a nation and question the very foundations on which our cultural heritage stands we just had to push it that one, sad, unbelievable step further and let John and Edward out of the country and on to the public stage.
I’d like to say that they are probably nice boys who never did anyone any harm - but that could not be further from the truth.
They have harmed every one of us - because each and every Saturday night, internet forums, Twitter and Facebook go into overdrive with utter indignation that these two eejits have been allowed airtime on perhaps the highest rated show on television at the moment.
And of course judge Louis Walsh gets the blame because he is Irish (and he put them through) and there are shouts of favouritism a plenty. I can guarantee if John and Edward (who I do have nicknames for but which cannot be repeated in a family newspaper) were from the South of lovely England, Louis wouldn’t have wanted to know and would have laughed them off the stage with the rest of us.
So, the result of their ongoing “success” (and believe me I do use that word very loosely) is that we are damned by association. If they are the very best that this country has to offer in terms of singing talent you can only imagination - with a sickening sense of dread and humiliation - just how bad the worst we had to offer would be.
It is not only their serious lack of talent that has shamed us so, but their staggeringly overinflated sense of self importance. These are two young men who think the world owes them a living. They truly believe that they are talented - that they can sing and dance and perform on a world stage along with the best of them.
Their mammy has obviously never done them the very real favour of telling them to catch themselves on and concentrate on getting a day job (or at the very least not getting a thump for being perhaps two of the most annoying creatures on the planet).
You would have thought at the very least their mammy would have sorted out their hair. Which again brings me to the point that the UK’s viewing public - by dint of X-Factor and nothing else - now must believe we are all walking around this island with hairdos which make us look like demented Tellytubbies but for this, I also point the finger most firmly at Eoghan Quigg. Him and his £15 ‘Quiggy’ cut did us no favours, make no mistake.
Now I know the Xfactor is supposed to really be no more than a bit of craic, and that every year we know to expect one or two jokers in the pack. But one has to wonder why these jokers need to be Irish?
These baffoons may have the comedy factor but that is at odds with that the competition is supposed to be about - and that is finding real musical talent. I’m sure that John and Edward don’t consider themselves the big joke everyone else does - I’m sure they are skating along on their own wee planet congratulating themselves on making it to week three. I’m sure they were deeply proud of their absolutely cringe-inducing performance of ‘Oops I did it Again’ on Saturday night - complete with over-acted Titanic moment. It is perhaps unfair that at the age of 18 these youngsters are being thrown to the wolves like this - but then that would require me to feel sorry for them. And believe me, I don’t.
To me, and many, many others, the joke is just simply not funny. It never was. It was mildly amusing in a “look-at-the-state-of-that” way, but that was all.
These young men should have more self awareness. They should listen to themselves, look at themselves and catch themselves on.
And then they should do the exceptionally honourable thing by bowing out of the XFactor, signing up for a panto somewhere close to home and leaving the rest of us to get on with trying to save our reputations.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Random conversations with the boy

J: Mammy, am I a vegeman?
Me: A vegeman? What do you mean.
J: (frustrated) You know, a vegeman. My teacher is a vegeman. She told us at dinner.
Me: (doing some quick thinking) Do you mean a vegetarian?
J: Yes, that's it.
Me: Well a vegetarian is a person who only eats vegetables. (Wrong I know... but it was the end of a long day).
J: Well I eat vegetables, so that means I'm a vegeman.
Me: But you eat meat too.
J: Okay, well I'm a half a vegeman then.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Writing, writing, writing

In the final chapters of book 4.
Obsessed with it.
Talking to the characters in my head at all times.
Plotting scenes.
Getting inspiration.
Trying to get finished.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Blogging from the newsroom

I forget how to write news.
I'm staring at an article of approximately 350 words which is absolutely perfect length for a newspaper article and yet it feels too short.
Where is the mystery?
Where is the story arch?
Where is the key revelation in the last quarter?
Where is the love interest?
Am I doing too much telling and not showing?
Am I supposed to tell and not show? Or show and not tell? I forget.
Must write in really short and concise sentences.
Must not say feck. Or arse. Or other dodgy words.
Must not make witty observations about serious matters - not actually in the paper anyway.

I have been a journalist for 12 years and a writer of booky type things for 3 years. How can I not know this stuff? Pah!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday night ponderings.

Sometimes I look at my son - and his wee legs which just dangle off the sofa cushions and no more and I feel exceptionally soppy
Does anything look as cute as tiny pair of trainers sat at the end of wee jeans while a boy draws brilliant pictures on a magnadoodle?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New review from author Mary Malone

And another lovely review for Jumping in Puddles is in!
Courtesy of author and reviewer, Mary Malone

Detta O’Neill returns to the Donegal Village of Rathinch, determined to help others in her hometown and make her existence matter. Guarding personal secrets closely, she sets up a support group for Lone Parents. Despite the chagrin and tut-tutting of nosey villagers, Detta’s weekly meetings become an escape for four people who, despite their differing circumstances, take solace in each other and share their innermost concerns.
Niamh Quigley is the envy of many. Her house is the biggest and fanciest in the parish, her two children are perfect miniatures of their parents and her kitchen – particularly her island which plays a significant part in her story – is to die for. But an unfortunate accident kills her husband, Sean, and Niamh is left numb and at variance with the world. Cleaning out her husband’s office forces her to look beyond the image Sean had portrayed and for the first time ever, she sees him for what he truly was – a lying, double-crossing cheat.
Ruth Byrne’s husband has run off with a much younger woman, leaving her to cope alone with three squabbling teenagers. But it’s not all bad and a small part of Ruth is relieved he’s gone. Joining the group for some adult conversation, she’s shocked to see ‘the younger woman’s’ husband is also in need of comfort and unlikely as it is, the two become firm friends.
Liam Dougherty’s mother is suffocating him ever since his wife left him and their daughter. Using the lone parents’ group as a means of weekly escape, he finds it difficult at first to divulge his feelings. He’s determined to win his wife back, seeing her affair as a temporary lapse. But spending time in the company of others shows him another side of life and makes him question the relationship he’d shared with his wife. For the first time in quite a while, Liam is contented.
Ciara Boyle is the youngest of the group. A single Mum at seventeen, she has kept the name of her baby’s father secret – even from her mum. Working in the local shop and serving her friends after school reminds Ciara about the choices her pregnancy forced her to make. And even though she finds it very tough going, she knows in her heart that her baby is worth every sacrifice. Meeting up with other single parents gives Ciara a purpose each week and she finds it easier to open up and take advice in the group environment.
All four and Detta find their lives become more and more entwined and soon the boundaries between group meetings and real friendship blur and their support goes to a much deeper level, dangerously close for a certain few.
Jumping In Puddles is a story tinged with personal grievance and sadness but Claire Allen’s natural ability to inject an appropriate amount of humour into the story - without undermining the seriousness of the trials of single parenting - adds warmth and enjoyment to every page.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

We're oh so tired...

Everyone in the Allan household seems to be going through a serious bout of exhaustion just now.
By the time I finished work today I was as ratty as a bag of cats from tiredness and when I got to my mum's to pick up the children, they were also ratty. The husband (who does exist) was also grumblesome when we got home.
So the boy had a meltdown and I got him to bed promising to do his homework with him in the morning, while the girl has not even stirred since she went down which is very unlike here. I've had a shower and put my PJs on and am watching True Blood before hitting the hay myself.
So if I'm quiet, it's because I'm sleeping, or working or wanting to sleep at work.
Anyone have any hints for staying awake?

Monday, October 12, 2009

I started back to work today

And it was tough going.
It was one of those things that simply had to be done and I love my career, honestly.
But I don't think there is every anything as hard as walking away from your baby knowing that your precious devoted time together is over. Chances are - as I am definitely not planning on any more children - that there will never again be any prolonged time when I'm home with the girl and her brother.
Now it is devoting what time I can after work to them and today was tough. The wee woman (a complete nosey madam) refused to sleep for her auntie today so when hubby (who does exist) picked her up she was almost comatose. By the time I came home she was asleep and woke only very briefly for a quick cuddle before passing out again.
Quality time my hoop.

Anyway - I'm very tired and emotional about it all so will post no more. But they say the first day is the worst. Let's hope "they" are right.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The boy's latest obsession...

is with Star Wars. Here he is as a Jedi, in the Millennium Falcon. Thanks to his Uncle Peter for photoshopping skills.

The mystery of the baby socks

We all know that socks like to go missing. That's pretty much a truth universally acknowledged - Cecelia Ahern even wrote a book about it (in a kind of roundabout way) - but baby socks - they take this disappearing craic to a whole new level.
Since the girl was born seven months ago I have about approximately 26000 pairs of pink/frilly/patterned socks. By my reckoning she should have the best dressed feet in the Northern Hemisphere and yet this morning can I find a single matching pair?
And I've emptied the washing machine, tumble drier and laundry hamper and hunted under the beds, and the cot and the bags of baby clothes she has already outgrown.
But there are none to be found. And it's a cold day.
And the baby is going to be barefooted - and cold.
And I'm going to have to spend yet more of my hard earned cash on socks.

I have a theory that when we eventually move out of this house - and empty it of all our possessions I will find 26000 socks somewhere having a party and looking at me like "What? We were here all the time, for the love of God woman."

Friday, October 09, 2009

Oh my God .... what an amazing review!

I'm actually in tears after reading this....from The Evening Herald (Dublin's biggest daily..)

I need a box of chocs and a girly story.
Look no further: a box of Lily O'Brien's best and Jumping in Puddles, the story of a group of lone parents in a Donegal village putting their lives back together.

Village full of gossip?
You have no idea. Ciara is 17 and won't tell anyone her baby's father's name -- not even her mam, who's helping her bring up the sprog. She has left school to work in the village shop, run by the local dragon.

Worst thing I can imagine.

Maybe, maybe not. Niamh is mourning her perfect husband. He's left her rich and living in their dream home, but she's shattered. And she is about to be more so.

And no one to talk to?

Until Niamh and Ciara -- and Ruth and Liam -- join Detta O'Neill's support group for lone parents, to the fascinated delight of the village. Ruth and Liam's spouses have run off with each other, by the way.


Liam is dead solid, an old-fashioned Irishman who likes his fried breakfast and his traditional values. All he wants is Laura back and his life the way it used to be.
Know the feeling.

Socially ambitious Laura and bossy bank official James, Ruth's ex, seem perfectly suited. But there's more to James than meets the eye. Ruth is a weepy, downtrodden type who's bullied by her bold strap of a teenage daughter, and worried about her sons.

Kids? These poor souls have kids?

The kids are the centre of the story -- the Loony Lone Parents (as they nickname themselves) grow into a strong group who help each other with their children and their changing lives.

Rattling good yarn?
If RTE has any sense, it will buy this and turn it into a fab series and sell it internationally.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Today I went shopping...

... and I'm trying not to feel guilty about buying some things for myself.
I do shop quite well - I'm quite the bargain hunter and have no problem at all buying stuff for my family or my house - but for me? Not so much.
However having just had some unexpected money come my way (just a wee touch mind...) I decided to treat myself to some things.
So I bought the new Melissa Hill novel and the new novel by Sharon Owens, which I can't wait to read. And then I bought a Kimmidoll which is a gorgeous wee thing which is very girly and not at all useful but she is said to promote self belief. And I love the notion of treating myself to something like this - my writer friend Keris treats herself to something similar for every book. So, this doll represents Jumping in Puddles.
And then I bought a lovely purple dress. Which makes me look about 6 months pregnant - but considering I look 8 months pregnant in everything else that's no bad thing.

Ah Strictly....

Yes, I have a favourite already... *swoon*

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

And just another plug...

For those who haven't bought Jumping in Puddles - here is the blurb

When Detta O'Neill returns to Rathinch - a village in Donegal - she is determined to make a difference. Bringing together four lone parents for a support group which has the old biddies of the village scandalised, she tries her best to build bridges and forge friendships among her charges.
Niamh Quigley's dream of a perfect life in the country was cut cruelly short with the death of her husband Seán. A woman on the verge of meltdown but with a kitchen island you might just kill for she has to find her way again without the man she never thought could hurt her.
Ruth Byrne was left high and dry when her husband ran off with a younger woman. But could his desertion have been a blessing in disguise for Ruth and her children?
Liam Dougherty doesn't think so. His wife is the younger woman in question and he would do anything to win her back ... or would he?
Which leaves teen mum Ciara Boyle. Everyone is just dying to know who the father of her child is, but does she have a good reason for keeping her secret to herself? Apart from being parents, can the group find anything in common? Can they find happiness and confidence again? And can Detta really make the difference she wants to make?

It's been a crazy few days

And I'm very, very tired and trying to plot ways to give my house a face lift before Christmas on a very limited budget.
I wish I had the interior design skills of Aoife and Beth from Feels Like Maybe - but I'm just a wannabe.

That said, my big task for the next few days is to try and clear out the boy's toys that he no longer plays with and give them to the charity shop or the dump - but of course I made the fatal mistake of telling him about this plan. Even though he now thinks Bob the Builder is for "bibbies" he does not want to part with his precious toys - and now he will watching them like a hawk.
I'm going to have to be extra, extra sneaky methinks.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Yer wan off the telly...

Just so y'all know I'll be on TV3 on Wednesday, October 7 at 11am on The Morning Show.

Non-Irish fans/ readers/ nose-bags can view it online after 12 noon on the Watch Again link at

Friday, October 02, 2009

I know it's early to say this.... but book 4

All Annie Delaney really wants is her happy ever after. A big dress. A big day. A big commitment. She even has a scrap book filled to bursting with ideas for her dream day, her dream home and – of course – her dream man.

Only problem is, the current man on her arm isn’t so much of a dream as a nightmare and as for the man currently in her bed… that’s a whole other disaster in the making.

With her relationship, and her life, heading into a tailspin Annie realises she has re-examine just what can make her happy, while trying (and failing) not to make things worse.

But it’s never going to be easy – especially when she sees her friend Fionn heading straight towards her own big day with her Mr Right. But then Annie misjudges the difficulties Fionn faces with Mr Right’s very own Little Miss, not to mention the ex waiting in the wings.

Turning to her sister, Darcy, for support Annie has her eyes opened to just what can make you happy – or indeed make you sad. And she ponders that age old question – is there such a thing as the perfect relationship?

The universe says nice things to me...

Today's pearl

You're ready, Claire, to take this show wherever your heart desires.

Damn right I am!
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