Writenowmom's Blog

My ramblings on life, kids and writing.

What are the chances? July 25, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — writenowmom @ 9:59 pm

I keep saying I must set up a new blog, update my website, write a monthly newsletter… but the thoughts of anything remotely technical sends me into a spin.  So for now, I’m just going to write a post here, on my old, neglected blog.  I was tempted to tell the story with tweets but I reckon it would have taken a whole lot of 140 character posts to get it told.

I seem to be the queen of funny/awkward/embarrassing situations, with my friends regularly telling me: “It could only happen to you!”  And today was no exception.  I was dropping my son to work in Easons in Liffey Valley and decided to have a browse while I was there.  I was talking to my friend and fellow author, Michelle Jackson, on the phone as I was looking around.  As we were chatting, I overheard a girl say to her friend: “I wonder if there’s a new Michelle Jackson out”.  I whispered this to Michelle who was, of course, delighted.  “See if they find one,” she said, as I proceeded to duck behind book shelves and pretended to look busy!

But instead of finding one of Michelle’s books, the two girls suddenly pounced on my latest book, The Letter, and proceeded to giggle and

 

Me with the other Maria Duffy

Me with the other Maria Duffy

hug the book!  I was a little startled as I reported the developments to Michelle!  “Go and talk to them,” she said.  “They’d get a good laugh out of knowing you’re there.”  I thought about this for a moment and then decided to be brave!

“Sorry for interrupting,” I said, my cheeks burning.  “But did I hear you say you were looking for a Michelle Jackson book?”

“Yes,” the both said.  “We love her books.  She’s one of our favourite authors.”  I could feel the heat of Michelle’s beam down the phone.

“Well I’m talking to her on the phone at the moment and she’ll be delighted to hear that.”

Then the squeals began!  “Oooooh you ARE NOT!  REALLY?  Are you serious?  It’s really her on the phone? OMG!!”

And just as I thought the situation couldn’t get any funnier, one of them held up The Letter (my book!) and said: “And I’m Maria Duffy - not the real one of course, but that’s my name too!”

I was completely thrown at that since I hadn’t said who I was.  “Em, I’m actually Maria Duffy,” I say, slightly confused by the situation.

“OMG!! Do you know her too?  I love her books.  I read The Terrace and loved it.”

“No, I don’t know her – I am her.  That’s me.”

Then the squeals recommenced.  “Oooooh ARE YOU? NO WAY! REALLY? Can we get a picture? Will you sign a book?”

It was such a funny, surreal moment but we had such a laugh as I signed a book and Michelle chatted to one of them on the phone.  They were sisters, stocking up on books because one of them is going into hospital tomorrow.  The one called Maria Duffy said that her friends often tease her about the books, asking her when her next one is out.  She couldn’t believe she just bumped into me and I was just as

delighted to hear they’re fans of my books.  They went off with copies of The Letter and 5 Peppermint Grove.  The picture is me with the other Maria Duffy – she looked like a model and I’d just slipped out in my rags with no make-up on and hair not done!  Ah well, it was worth it to give me the biggest laugh I’ve had in ages and I know Michelle Jackson is still laughing too!

Maria x

 

Doggie dilemma November 5, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — writenowmom @ 12:51 pm

I may regret saying this, but there’s a possibility that we (my husband and I) may cave in to our children’s pleas and get ourselves another dog. The thought of it fills me with joy, excitement and complete and utter fear. Let me explain the fear bit.

Some years ago, we decided to get a dog. Never having a dog myself, I was shocked and delighted by how he quickly became part of our family. Jeepers came to us as an eight week old pup and grew into a beautiful golden cocker spaniel. We all adored him. He was clever, playful and the gentlest dog you could imagine. Until one day he bit a child. I won’t go into the details because it still makes me sad to think of him, but he was in a situation where he felt cornered and just snapped. We had him examined by behavioural experts and eventually re-homed. Thankfully we didn’t have to put him down, but it didn’t stop us all crying ourselves to sleep for a long time. I never thought I’d feel that way about an animal.

It’s now a couple of years on and we still talk about him and one of my children even has pictures of him on her bedroom wall. My husband and I said at the time that we’d never get another dog but now we find ourselves in a situation where the children are begging to get one. I’m slowly coming around to the idea but my husband still needs some convincing. Here’s an example of the conversation that went on over dinner the other night:

“I want a white, cuddly, fluffy dog,” said Enya. “One that’s little and cute and doesn’t grow big.”

“No way,” said Eoin. “If we get a dog that looks like a rat, don’t expect me to bring it out for walks or anything. I want a big, lively dog.”

Roisin joined in. “I don’t care what type we get – I just want a dog.”

“Well I don’t really care either,” said Conor, “once it’s not one of those you put into handbags and once it’s not bigger than me.”

“Can we get one that doesn’t bite?” asked Enya.

“And one that doesn’t shed?” That was me thinking of my new sofa!

“So who’s going to bring it for walks and clean up after it?” said the voice of reason, my husband. “If we get a dog, I don’t want to be left with all the jobs like I was before.”

There was a few seconds stunned silence. This was the first time he’d shown any interest, albeit a reluctant one, in getting another dog.

Then they all spoke at once. Of course they’d help. They’d all walk the dog and take turns cleaning up. They almost fell off their chairs with enthusiasm and if you were to believe them, they’d be the best dog-owners ever! So anyway, our minds aren’t made up yet (and that translates into ‘we haven’t convinced my husband yet!’) but if we do get a dog, I want it to be the right one for everyone. I’ve been doing some research online, but I know that the best way to get information is from personal recommendation. So anyone who has a dog or knows anything about them, can you please leave a comment below – all advice would be much appreciated. Maria x

 

The Rogue Rose October 5, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — writenowmom @ 6:53 pm

Yesterday I posted a sad poem on here and promised I’d follow up with a much cheerier one. So here you go – and I do apologise for its silliness but I just can’t help my imagination!

The Rogue Rose

The flowers all gathered in colourful style
to witness a ground-breaking fairy-tale trial.
The pansies, the snow-drops, the big and the small;
all wanting to see how the mighty do fall.

“Now listen you all”, came the voice of the Judge.
(a yellow horned poppy who’d come with a grudge)
“I know you’re all angry and I’m angry too.
We need to decide what we’re going to do.

The problem is reaching preposterous scale,
so let me begin and let justice prevail.
So settle down all and we’ll try to expose
the crimes of defendant, the thorny red Rose.”

The poppies, the tulips and snowdrops all booed,
which seemed to add fuel to the festering mood.
The big bunch of daisies who’d come in a chain
began to get restless and shout and complain.

The Judge called the court to an orderly state.
“His crimes will ensure that the law seals his fate.
His circle of lies will now soon be disrupted,
as we prove the Rose is a flower corrupted.

We’ve long since suspected he’s been undercover.
It’s taken this long for us all to discover.
But now on our evidence you can all feast,
contained in the story of Beauty and Beast.

We’re fed up with seeing the Rose as the star;
each fairy tale seems to prefer him by far.
You don’t hear of gardens of pansies or flock,
or heather, or tulips or white lily stock.

You don’t hear of mouths that are marigold shapes,
or buttercups thrown when a princess awakes.
It’s always the Rose in a bunch or just scattered,
or rosebuds for lips where a kiss really mattered.

But now in the story of beautiful Belle,
at last we’ve found someone quite willing to tell.
The Rose has been seen bribing writers galore
to make him the star of the story once more.

Again there’s a Rose in the core of the story,
who robs all us blooms of our moment of glory.
He takes centre stage and it’s really not fair,
as one of us flowers should really be there.

Now Belle could have asked for her father to bring
a tulip or bluebell that blooms in the Spring,
a beautiful pansy or marigold bloom,
a bunch of white freesias to perfume her room.

Because of those bribes, it was him who they chose;
that crooked, dishonest, despicable Rose!
But now let us say that we’ll take this no more.
We’ll shun his false sweetness, his kin we’ll ignore!”

Now everyone cheered for the wonderful judge.
(that yellow horned poppy who’d come with a grudge)
“The Rose is no more,” came a shout from the crowd.
“We’ll now be acknowledged – let’s stand tall and proud.”

So off went the Rose to his garden of hell,
no longer required by the beautiful Belle.
The flowers would now have a wonderful chance
to replace the rogue Rose as the bloom of romance!

Maria x

 

Be free my love… October 4, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — writenowmom @ 6:39 pm

I have a friend who’s very sick in hospital at the moment. She’ll never come home. Two days ago, she made the choice to be taken off all the machines that were keeping her alive. Surprisingly, she’s still with us. As I watched her husband sit by her bed the other night, I was reminded of a poem I wrote a few years ago. It seems strangely apt. I’m no poet so they’re just some words from the heart. When I asked people on twitter earlier whether I should post a sad or funny poem, they overwhelmingly voted for funny. I apologise that I’ve gone for sad – it was just something I felt I wanted to post. I promise I’ll follow up very quickly with a funny one.

Be free my love…

Be free, my darling, fly away.
My selfish dreams for you to stay
here at my side were but in vain.
Set free your soul – release your pain.

Don’t fret, my love, or shed a tear,
for I won’t leave – I’ll be right here.
Your hand I’ll hold, I’ll hug you tight
until you breathe your last tonight.

That light you see beyond this place
is there for you, so turn and face
the beauty and the ecstasy.
No looking back – don’t cry for me.

For I will hold you in my heart;
in dreams we’ll never be apart.
The memories that fill my mind
will help me build the strength I’ll find.

Come dark of night, the end is nigh
when angels come from God on high.
So take those wings and chase a cloud.
How brave you are; you make me proud.

I’m broken now for I will miss
the blessing of your joyous kiss.
Though tears do fall, my fears dispel;
It’s not goodbye, it’s just farewell.

Maria x

 

Twitter, how I love you! September 7, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — writenowmom @ 2:24 pm

I apologise in advance if you’re:

a) not on Twitter and hate reading things about it or
b) on twitter and are sick of listening to me rattle on about it!

Basically, this is simply a post about how wonderful Twitter is. Sometimes 140 characters are just not enough to say how you feel!

A lot of you will already know about my writing journey (I know, I know, I’ll NEVER again mention the word ‘journey’!) but for those of you who don’t, you can read about it (and watch it) here. You’ll see how Twitter has played such a huge part in it.

But on a smaller scale, sometimes it seems that there’s nothing Twitter can’t sort out. In terms of my writing, it’s one of the best places to go for research. If you tweet a question, there’s always someone who’ll know the answer or someone who knows someone who does. No matter where I am in the world, if I tweet my location and ask for recommendations for restaurants, etc, there’ll always be someone to tell you where to go. If it’s a technical question (of which I have many!), the advice will flow in and the problem will be sorted out quickly. But the best bit of all is the fact that I’ve made so many friends on Twitter, many of which have become ‘real life’ friends. When I’m busy and have had my head in my latest manuscript all day, I can take a break and log into Twitter. Even though I’m alone in the house, Twitter is like walking into a room of friends and enjoying a chat over coffee.

Well have I gushed enough yet? Well let me just tell you of two incidents in the last 24 hours that have prompted me to write this post.

Last night, following our telly blowing up and dying, we bought a new one. Now I have a husband who’s brilliant at DIY, a whizz with the iron but when it comes to things of a technical nature, it’s like the blind leading the blind. Anyway, we were reading instructions and trying to set the telly up but no matter what we did, we couldn’t get it to work. My husband was muttering about calling someone out or bringing it back to the shop, when I decided just to tweet about it. Before long, I had a number of people tweeting me suggestions as to how to sort it out. I won’t name them all as there are too many but I will name one in particular, @cathalkeogh, who sent me a message saying he could probably sort it out for me. One quick phone call later and the telly was up and running. And all because of Twitter.

The second thing that Twitter helped me with was only hours later. This morning I was ready, hands hovering over the keys on my laptop and ready to punch the numbers in on my phone – at 9 o’clock, tickets for Ed Sheeran at the O2 in Dublin were being released. Now the plan was that I was buying two tickets for my daughter and her friend – they wanted to be in the standing area. I was also planning to buy tickets for myself and a friend for the seated area, just so we could be there if my daughter had any problems. I’m still not ready for her to go to concerts on her own.

I’ll cut to the chase and tell you that even though I got through at exactly 8.59, the seated tickets were already gone. How can that be? How can tickets be gone seconds before they’re supposed to be released? Anyway, I managed to get two standing tickets, which was great for my daughter, but it left me with the dilemma of letting her go in there without me. So this is where Twitter came in. I tweeted my dilemma and got a whole lot of advice from people. Someone tweeted me that they’d just added an extra date but unfortunately, that date didn’t suit me. Another lovely and generous man, @bazlyons, told me he’d managed to get through online and held three tickets for me but unfortunately time ran out and they were re-released. But how lovely of him to take the time to do that. Then I had a tweet from @B_Garts, telling me that he had two seated tickets for the first date and if I could get any tickets for the second date, standing or seated, he’d swap me. I thought that was such a lovely thing for someone to do. He saw I was in a tizzy about it and said that it didn’t matter to him which date he went. So I managed to book two standing tickets for the second date and he’s kindly agreed to swap his seated ones. So I have a very happy daughter and I’m one happy mammy!

There’s been a lot of negativity around Twitter of late and I understand it’s not for everyone. But I think if we use it properly and make it a two way street, we’ll reap the benefits. Well that’s been my experience anyway. If you don’t already follow me, pop along and say hi. You’ll find me at @mduffywriter.

Maria x

 

One Kind Deed August 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — writenowmom @ 7:57 pm

I feel I’ve been blessed in my life with a great family and wonderful friends. I’ve never had to suffer hardship and I thank my lucky stars every day for my four healthy, happy children.

I know some people aren’t as blessed or lucky as I am and although we can’t change the world, I think each of us can make a difference. Sometimes one tiny gesture can mean so much to somebody. When I was thinking about this earlier, I threw out an idea to my Twitter friends and, within minutes, I was bombarded with positive, enthusiastic replies. Here’s what I was thinking:

On Friday next, 31st August, I’m going to try to get as many people as possible to do something kind for somebody. I’m not suggesting you don’t all do kind things every day, but I want to create a feel-good day, where people make an extra-special effort and share with us their act of kindness. Sometimes when we think of doing a kind deed, we think of big things and we always plan on doing them some day. But sometimes little things can be just as effective. It doesn’t matter how big or small the deed is – it could be something as simple as opening a door for someone who has their hands full or letting someone go in front of you in a line if they’re in a hurry.

I’m aiming this day at Twitter, simply because it has such a wide reach, but feel free to spread the word elsewhere. We’re going to use a hashtag #onekinddeed and tweet things throughout the day. Don’t be shy about it – everything counts. Just tweet anything you’ve done during the course of the day or, of course, if someone has done something nice for you!

So come on and join in the fun and let’s spread a bit of positivity!

Friday, 31st August

Tweet #onekinddeed

Tell us something kind you’ve done or that someone did for you. How many kind deeds can we squeeze into a day?

Maria x

 

A promise of friendship August 25, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — writenowmom @ 9:13 pm

Last night my husband, four children and I spent the night with a friend in Waterford.  It was a lovely night.  We stayed home as our host cooked a delicious meal and the children, both hers and ours, squealed with laughter as they darted around the house playing games.  But there was also a slight tinge of sadness. 

Let me take you back to 1991 and the night I met my husband.  I was with my friends in a nightclub and he was there with his.  I couldn’t help notice him on the dance-floor as both he and his friend were unusually tall and heads above everyone else.  He asked me to dance that night and that’s when it all began.  His friend, I soon learned, was called Brendan and the two were very close.  Fast forward a few years and my soon-to-be husband was best man at Brendan and Marie’s wedding.  Five months later, Brendan was best man at ours. 

The one thing that always sticks out in my head about Brendan’s best-man speech was when he spoke of his friendship with Paddy, my husband, and how he hoped and prayed that both couples would be blessed with children and that they’d also become friends.  The next few years passed in a haze of happiness for us all as we both had two healthy children – a girl and a boy each.  Then shockingly and devastatingly, in November of 1999, tragedy struck and ripped the heart out of us all.  Brendan was heading into his job as a garda one afternoon when he was involved in a horrendous car crash.  I won’t write about any details but he was killed outright.  His daughter was three and a half years old and his son eight months. 

Anyone who’s suffered tragedy in their lives will know how numb it can make you feel.  The few days after the accident were surreal and I remember thinking that if I can feel like this, how must his wife, children, parents, sister and brothers feel?  It was beyond heartbreaking.  His funeral was beautiful and I was very proud of my husband who stood on the alter and gave a eulogy.  It began with: “On this very day six years ago, I stood here at Brendan’s side and watched him beam with happiness as he married the woman he loved…”  Six years to the day.  How things can change in the blink of an eye and so many lives turned upside down.

Image

Fast forward to the present day and my heart soars when I see all our children together and love the fact they get on so well.  I’m sure Brendan was smiling down today, watching them have such a great time – he may have even organised for the ridiculously heavy shower of rain that drowned them all and sent them squealing into the house! 

Brendan lives on in his two children, Jane and Tim, who look so much like him.  But more than that, they’re lovely kids – kind, caring and joy to be around, just like their dad.

Maria x

 

It could only happen to me! January 14, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — writenowmom @ 12:04 am

I shouldn’t be allowed out on my own! Honestly, when I told people my story about yesterday morning (which I’ll elaborate on in a moment) they all said the very same thing: “It could only happen to you!”

It would be fair to say I’ve been fairly frazzled this week. As most of us are, I’ve been trying to juggle work and family, but with the added pressure of my thirteen year old having a minor surgical procedure. She was fine afterwards but it just added to my guilt of heading over to London on Thursday. This was a trip I’ve been planning for a while and had a number of things lined up for both Thursday and Friday.

So back to yesterday morning. Despite just three hours sleep, I woke in a positive frame of mind. I wasn’t going to be frazzled – I had an exciting couple of days to look forward to and I was going to make the most of them. The flight was due to leave at7.40 and although I’m usually the one running like the clappers at the sound of my name being called for final boarding, I was at the airport bright and early.

I had a plan in mind. I’d go through security straight away and relax for an hour over breakfast. I need to mention here that I’m scared of flying! I’d read a book (a rare treat!) and I’d board that plane in a calm and orderly fashion.

Before I even got as far as security, I had to scan my boarding card to go through to the departure gates. I watched as people either side of me got the green light and sailed through, whereas my boarding card was somehow causing the red light to flash.

“Flatten it out,” shouted a security guard, taking a piece of paper and demonstrating the ‘flattening out’ technique.

After applying this technique to said boarding card, I still got the red light.

“Give us a look at it,” sighed the security guard, rolling his eyes at yet another inept passenger.

He took the card and looked at it, then handed it back to me, shaking his head. “Sure that flight is tomorrow. No wonder you couldn’t get through!”

“No, no,” I cried frantically, it’s today. I’m going today. Tomorrow, I’m coming back.”

“That’s not what it says on here,” he replied.

I snatched the boarding card out of his hands and stared at it – departing Friday 13th! I couldn’t believe it. I’d checked – and double checked. Then I’d checked in online and even tutted as the computer asked me to check again before confirming the check in! Every frazzled feeling I’d had all week came rushing back with a vengeance and I began to cry. Yep! I started blubbing like a five year old saying: “What am I going to do?”

There were now two security guards who were lovely and sympathetic but I suspect felt uncomfortable with the scene before them.

“Take yourself over to the Ryan Air desk and see what they can do for you,” said guard number one.

“And if they can’t help you, try Aer Lingus,” added guard number two.

Incapable of making my own decision, I followed their advice and headed to the Ryan Air desk. Despite having only paid sixty euro for return flights, I was told that it would cost me three hundred euro to change the ticket or to just book the flight I wanted. There was no reasoning with them – not even my increased state of hysterics could soften their hearts. I then headed over to Aer Lingus where I managed to negotiate a slightly later flight at a significantly lower price.

So all was well that ended well and I arrived in Gatwick just an hour later than originally planned. I was going to tell you about leaving my case in a shop in Gatwick just after I arrived but I wouldn’t want you to think I’m completely incapable of travelling alone…!

Maria x

 

A bit of magic this Christmas! December 18, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — writenowmom @ 9:27 pm

Today we had our annual family Christmas day out at the shops. It’s often a stressful day with moans of “My legs are sore from walking” and “I’m so hot I think I’m going to faint” and “When are we going to McDonalds?” and always “She/he started it”! But it just wouldn’t be Christmas without it. Despite the usual stresses, it’s always a lovely day where we spend some quality time together and have some fun.

But I won’t bore you with the humdrum of present buying and petty squabbles. I want to tell you about an incident, which may seem trivial to most of you, but really meant the world to me!

Let me first take you back to this time last year. On this very night, a week before Christmas, I was out with some friends and we were talking about our wishes and dreams. I told them how much it would mean to me to have my book published. I had an agent at that stage, but no book deal. I remember one friend in particular saying how cool it would be to walk into a shop and see my book on the shelves, or better still, to even see someone buying it!

Fast forward to today and me with my 8 year old son, standing on a very long queue in a book shop. We’d just admired my book on the shelves and, as always, I had to swallow a lump in my throat at seeing my name up there, right beside some of my favourite authors. That’s when Conor almost squealed with excitement and whispered (very loudly!) to me: “That man behind us has your book – he’s buying Any Dream Will Do!”

The next few minutes saw both of us turn into first class spies, as we watched the poor, unsuspecting man, just in case he’d put the book back down, and tried to listen to the conversation he was having with his daughter. “Tell him, tell him,” Conor insisted, beside himself with excitement. If the truth be told, I was just as excited but managed to contain it a little better!

I tweeted from the queue (as you do!) to share this moment with my twitter friends and I had an overwhelming response telling me to go and introduce myself to him. At that stage, he was already giving me funny looks because I was staring so as we were both leaving the shop at the same time, I decided to take the plunge! I went up to him and apologised for staring at him but told him that I’d written the book he’d just bought and it was the first time I’d seen anyone buying it. I was almost purple with embarrassment but he was lovely. He was totally thrilled. He said he’d bought it for his wife and asked me to sign it for her. He told me it would make the present extra special and he’d have a fabulous story to tell over Christmas dinner! I can’t tell you how that made me beam from ear to ear!

I always tell my children that there’s a bit of magic in the air at Christmas and today, I really felt it. So in attempted to spread a bit of that magic, if you leave a comment below, I’ll pick out a name tomorrow for a signed copy of Any Dream Will Do.

Dontcha just love Christmas?

Maria x

 

DANCING FAIRY December 13, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — writenowmom @ 11:54 pm

Tonight I’m full of Christmas cheer. The big day is fast approaching and I’m loving the excitement in our house. For me, Christmas is all about children. Earlier, I tweeted one of the children’s poems I’ve written and was overwhelmed by the response. I decided to post another one here. It’s just a bit of fun – my children love them so I hope you’ll enjoy too.

DANCING FAIRY

I came into my daughter’s room and sat upon her bed.
‘Oh please don’t read a fairy tale to me tonight,’ she said.

‘But darling, why?’ I asked, ‘I thought you loved this fairy book.
Just cuddle up beside me now and take a little look.’

‘But mummy I just don’t believe in fairies anymore.
You know I’m growing up so fast, I’m eight years old, not four!’

‘Just come with me now darling and I think that you will find
that what you are about to see will make you change your mind.’

We tip-toed to the garden where a moon-beam marked the place
where scenes of utter magic brought amazement to her face:

Dainty elfin dance delight
Acrobatic toes in flight
Nipping here and flapping there
Chasing starlight everywhere
Iridescent precious wings
Nestled in their fairy rings
Glist’ning magic wand in hand
Flutter fairy midnight band
Air infused with moonlight beam
Illustrating dancing dream
Ready now to go to bed
Yawns from fairy sleepy head

My little girl all tucked in tight so happy she’d not missed
the wonder in our garden proving fairies do exist!

Maria x

 

 
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