Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Random conversations with the girl

We're in the car... she's singing having only recently found her voice and enjoying experimenting with sounds and lyrics...

"Baa Baa black sheep... have you any wool? Yes Yes (she leaves out the sir... that's just how she rolls...)
three bags full.
One for the monster
One for the monster dame (I do not understand it either..)
One for the little girl who lives down the lane.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Rainy days and Mondays...

Isn't it funny, how things happen?
Just last week I started brainstorming about new ways to try and promote myself and my books and came up with a marketing idea (which will all come to light in due course). So I asked around on Facebook and Twitter for people to give me memories of their favourite Claire Allan book.
Now usually when I pose this question I get a mixed bag. There is a lot of love out there for Feels Like Maybe, It's Got to Be Perfect tends to fall second in line and Jumping in Puddles follows suit.
People don't tend to mention Rainy Days and Tuesdays and, as an author, I tend to be okay with that - thinking it was my first book. A book written before I really knew what I was doing. A book that I tend to feel a little exposed talking about because some aspects of it are based (loosely) on my own life.
But having put that little call out there the response has been almost unanimous in favour of RD&T. And it's not just "I liked this book, it was good" kind of stuff. I've had women telling me it changed their lives, it was the best book they ever read, it made them put things in perspective.

All this... from a book I wrote?
It's madness. And then I realised what RD&T lacked in artistic flair it made up for in honesty - true to life, heartfelt, emotional and messy honesty. And I should be be proud of it. The first of my "babies" to be out there in the world.
That's humbling and wonderful.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Random conversation with the girl

So tonight I'm being good and eating a low fat (chocolate muffin) dessert from M&S.
Very cute two year old sidles up to me.
"What's that?" she asks curiously.
"Mammy's chocolate mousse," I answer.
 She eyes it suspiciously. "My try some?" she asks, eyes wide and, well, who can say no. So I put some on my spoon and feed it to her. She tastes it like she is a head chef in a posh hotel checking one of her minions' offerings before looking at me and saying "Hmmmm. My like that."
"That's good, baby," I reply.
She cuddles into me, eyes on the mousse, then eyes on me. "You are my favourite, mummy."

The girl has learned the art of emotional blackmail.
I fear for the future.

Big changes are afoot

Things may have been quiet in blogland but they have certainly not be quiet in the real world. Writing has been continuing apace and, dear reader, I see light from the corners of the bunker for the first time in 10 weeks.
The book has been redrafted - and actually turned into a completely differentl kind of a book. Of the 107,000 words I wrote for the 30 Something Crisis Club, only 10,000 survived the massacre that followed. The setting remains the same. The main characters are largely the same but I added in so many layers that I made myself dizzy.
The book, as it now stands, is ready for launch in just over 10 weeks.
How's that for a turnaround? Eh?
But with the new feel, we decided on a new title and I'm now, excitedly, waiting on a new cover.
The 30 Something Crisis Club has now become If Only You Knew and I'm planning some competitions and interesting marketing ploys to mark it's release.
I feel nervous, fired up, scared, exhilerated, exhausted and relieved.
And the journey is only beginning....

Monday, July 04, 2011

A letter to my 16 year old self

As my 35th birthday last week, and I noticed a few more crow’s feet around my eyes and how certain body parts are definitely on a downward trajectory I have decided to take the lead from a recent trend online for people to write letters to their 16 -year-old selves, imparting the wisdom and advice that only comes with age.

Dear Me,

I’m sorry about the perm. I thought it was a good look at the time but clearly, looking back I realise I have made you look like an eejit. I won’t do it again. Honest. Over the years we’ll try various hair dyes and hair styles and there will be a really rather bad bleaching incident in your early 30s but I’ll never make you endure a perm again.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get on with the more important stuff.

1) Don’t study too hard. I know that may go against the grain, but it really is true. All work and no play will make you relatively dull. Go out more. Live a little. Enjoy yourself because the time will come when you will actually be too old to get away with walking into a nightclub without looking like a very sad cougar.

2) On the occasions you do party like it’s 1999, remember to take it easy and drink a lot of water at some stage in the evening. Never think that fifth Drambuie is a good idea. Your carpet won’t thank you for it.

3) Don’t stop dancing. I don’t mean ever, but I mean when you take those dance lessons in your mid 20s, keep at it. You were quite good at it. And you enjoyed it. It also allowed you to have a waist. You will miss you waist.
4) You know that boy you spend your entire university career pining over? He’s not worth it. In fact he turns out to be a bit of a *insert appropriate swear word which can’t be used in a family newspaper here*. And when he asks you to help him with his coursework, say no.
He isn’t actually doing it because he secretly loves you back. He’s doing it because he is too lazy to do it himself.
5) Smile more. You really do have a lovely smile.

6) See that Celine Dion phase you go through when you are 18 - don’t worry. It’s not fatal and it will pass.

7) Lycra isn’t and never will be your friend. Accept it and move on.

8) Spend more time with your grandad. He won’t always be around - I know he seems invincible but he’s not. He’ll always be a presence in your life though - so try not to worry too much. It will be tough but you’ll get through it.

9) You know that Teri Hatcher/ Lois Lane obsession you have? You’ll make it as a journalist but Dean Cain/ Clark Kent will never work in your office.
10) Stop stressing about leaving school and all your friends. You’ll stay in touch with them and you’ll be there at their weddings and to cuddle their babies and share a (legal) drink with them from time to time. If time passes where you don’t see them don’t panic. When you get together again you’ll be able to drop into easy conversation as if no time at all has passed.

11) You know that sister who gets right on your nerves? Yes. Her! The popular one? There will come a time when you stopping battering seven shades of the proverbial out of each other and become best friends. She will even be chief bridesmaid at your wedding. I know! Mad, isn’t it?

12) You know that other sister? The one that REALLY annoys you? You’ll find you have more in common with her than you think and you will share many strange and emotional moments together as you venture into motherhood. (I’m telling you now, just so you can look forward to it, there will be a day when your newborn son both pees and poops all over her. It’s okay to laugh - it’s one of the funniest things you will ever see).

13) Your parents will become your heroes again. Fact. You’ll realise how cool they are.

14) Look where you are going when you step out of cars/walk down stairs/climb over small walls. You are accident prone. Pay more attention!
15) Travel more. There’s a world outside of BT48 and you will have time enough for weekends in Donegal and breaks close to home.

16) It’s okay to want to wear comfortable shoes and a raincoat with a hood. This does not make you uncool - this makes you sensible.

17) You will get a tattoo. Yes. Really.

18) Becoming a mammy will be the most terrifying experience of your life but it will also be amazing.

19) Don’t worry when you don’t fall instantly in love with the wee creature when they lie on your tummy. It will happen and boy, when it happens, it is something else. Wow! That’s all I’m saying.

20) Yes. You’ll have a daughter some day too. And she will complete you.

21) Trust your instincts. Not with the man from university, obviously, but you know that bloke you meet at Mandi’s 21st birthday party? Give him a chance. It might just be worth it.

22) Believe in yourself. I do.
Much love, Me x

Friday, July 01, 2011

Feels like home to me

Last week the family and I went away to the Downings in north Donegal for a few days to celebrate the husband's 40th birthday. We hired a delightful house on the Atlantic coast and had three blissful days of fresh air, nice wine (three for a tenner from Asda...), good food and great company in the form of my inlaws and associated children.

I can't express how I felt in the house we stayed in. It was a gorgeous house. The kind of house I want my house to be when it grows up. It was the house of open plan living dreams  but it was the setting which took my breath away.

I've been under a lot of pressure recently, with rewrites, work, family and I suppose a kind of breakdown of sorts, but standing in Donegal, looking out of a living room window at the most spectacular yet peaceful views helped and healed.

I sound like an old hippy - but I felt I was home. Where I was meant to be. I felt this is what life is about - not the stress and the worry and the rush, but in simply looking out to see and feeling connected with everything and everything one around you. I was even moved to tears on more than one occasion as if being there had given me permission to breathe out.

When I win the Lotto (the Euromillions is a big one tonight!) I'm buying this house .... and I'm never leaving it.

Victoria Beckham - I never said she was a bad mother...

or that she didn't have her own worries.
Nor did I say my life was worse than anyone else's in the world ever. I'm pretty lucky as it happens.

ALL I said was that she is living in cloud cuckoo land if she thinks the majority of working mothers can relate to her.

It's as simple, or as complicated, as that.

Thank you.
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