Writenowmom's Blog

My ramblings on life, kids and writing.

Winner of Tweet Treats competition October 22, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — writenowmom @ 11:12 pm

Thanks to everyone who took part in the Tweet Treats competition by leaving a comment on the blog post. We’ve picked a winner… drum-roll please… congratulations to Londiniensis. A signed copy of Tweet Treats by Jane Travers will be winging it’s way to you shortly.

Maria x

 

Tweet Treats – it’s finally here! October 16, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — writenowmom @ 11:14 pm

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING IS A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT. IF YOU DISLIKE GUSHINESS, STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER NOW! ALSO, LET IT BE KNOWN THAT I WILL NOT BE THIS NICE AGAIN!

It’s no secret that I love twitter. Now there are many reasons for this, but a huge part of the love fest is the fact that I’ve made so many wonderful friends there. One of these twitter friends, who has become a real-life friend, is Jane Travers (@janetravers).

Eighteen months ago, Jane had an idea, which she immediately tweeted to a few of us who were lurking in the twitterverse. Her idea was to put together a book of recipes. But it wasn’t to be any old book of recipes. Oh no it wasn’t! It was going to be a book of recipes that people tweeted in 140 characters. It was going to become Tweet Treats.

“What a wonderful idea,” we all cheered. “How brilliant!” came the responses. “You go for it,” we cried. Then we sat back and thought; that will never work! How on earth would we get full recipes, including measurements, oven temperatures, etc, into 140 characters? But Jane proved us all wrong. Coming up with an initial few recipes herself, she spurred us on and we all rose to the challenge. A team of us went to work to help her collect these recipes from tweeters. Then we took it a step further. We decided to chase (not literally, of course!) celebrities and get recipes from them too.

This was my sort of challenge. I loved it. I loved trying to think of a way to be funny or different so that a celebrity with hundreds of thousands of followers would notice me. I first dipped my toe into the Irish waters and was thrilled to get recipes from Miriam O’Callaghan (@MiriamOCal) and The Script (@thescript) amongst others. Then I thought I’d take my tweets across the water and try some celebs over there. I found the best way to get their attention was to be funny (okay, before you say it, I’m not saying I was funny, I’m just saying I was trying to be funny! Sheesh!). So anyway, back to my funniness. I managed to get recipes from Amanda Holden (@amanda_holden), Heather Mills (@heatherofficial) and even the very lovely Paula Abdul (@PaulaAbdul). I was only one of many, who were chasing up recipes but I may have fallen a teeny weeny bit in love with the process!

The first amazing thing about all of this is that Jane Travers worked tirelessly on the project until she’d defied all the odds by actually managing to compile such a brilliant book and get herself a publisher. The second amazing thing is that, despite giving a year and a half of her life to Tweet Treats, Jane is donating all the royalties to a fantastic charity, Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).

Tweet Treats is a fabulous little book – one everyone should have in their kitchen. It’s not only choc-a-bloc with easy to follow recipes, it’s also a great read for those of us of a nosy disposition! I mean, how does Bobby Ball like his eggs cooked? What does Ryan Tubridy favour for dessert? What does Anthony Cotton like on his steak? Does Philip Scholfield really eat that on bread? Which famous comedian still likes to have toast soldiers with his runny egg and which one has a microwave as a best friend?

Want to know? Buy Tweet Treats. Simples!

Oh and I almost forgot – the lovely (yes, I’m still in gushy mode!) Jane has given me a signed copy of Tweet Treats to give away here. I was going to ask you to predict, to the nearest millimetre, the rainfall in Tasmania for the month of December, but since I’m in a good mood, all you have to do is leave a comment! The winner will be picked at random on Friday.

Maria x

 

My hero – a truly inspiring lady! October 5, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — writenowmom @ 10:10 pm

Tonight I sat watching The Pride of Britain Awards and I’m sure I wasn’t alone in blubbing my way through the whole thing. Awards were presented to brave people who put their lives on the line to save others, children who’d battled illnesses and went on to help others, and not forgetting Supergran, the lady who belted the jewellery thieves with her handbag until they retreated! Heroes each and every one of them and a huge inspiration.

It got me thinking about a lady I met thirteen years ago. I’d just had my second baby and since my first was only fourteen months old, life was hectic. This particular day, I had to bring the baby to the clinic at the hospital for a check up. I arrived, feeling very sorry for myself after a particularly sleepless night. Roisin had been cranky and demanding and nothing had managed to quieten her cries.

While I was waiting (and grumbling!) in the overcrowded waiting room, a woman with a baby in a pram made a grand appearance at the door. I guessed her to be in her fifties and assumed she was the child’s granny. A large woman, with an equally big voice, she commanded the attention of the room as soon as she came in.

“I’m after coming all the way from Bray on the Dart,” she said to nobody in particular. She proceeded to organise herself, taking the rain cover off the buggy and shaking it before folding it up. That made me even grumpier. I was now wet as well as fed up.

She began to talk to the baby in the buggy, who was about five months old. “Look at you, ya big lump, you’re a bonnie thing, aren’t ya? Wait until the doctor sees how much weight you’ve put on.” I found her irritating. I could feel my head starting to pound. I wanted to tell her to be quiet, but I could hear my mother’s voice ringing in my ears mind your manners!

She continued to talk to nobody in particular and in our typically Irish way, we all shifted uncomfortably on our seats and avoided her eye. “You wouldn’t think this fella was only a couple of pounds when he was born, would ya?” she said, lifting a little red-haired bundle from the buggy. “A tiny little thing he was when they brought him to me.”

When they brought him to her? Okay, so now I was interested! There was a noticeable hush in the room as people began to tune in to what the woman was saying. “So he’s not yours then?” asked the woman sitting beside her. I thought it was a bit cheeky, to be honest, but she was only asking what every single person in the room wanted to know.

“No, love,” said the granny-type woman. “I’m just his foster mother. Me own family is grown up and gone and I love to have kids around me.” You could have heard a pin drop in the room.

“That’s amazing,” said the cheeky one, watching the older woman in awe. “So is he your only one?”

She laughed at that – a big booming laugh that could have been heard down at the labour wards. “There’s never only one, love. I have four more at home at the moment. One is severely physically disabled – but he won’t be going anywhere. We adopted him.” A ripple of gasps travelled through the room.

“And how long do you keep them for?” asked a woman who was sitting on her other side. “What about this one?” She indicated the baby who was sitting happily on his foster mother’s knee.

“Ah he’ll be gone in a few weeks, I’d say. He’ll be a hard one to give up. They all are, to be honest. But that’s what you take on. No matter how many we have, we always have a good cry when they leave.”

I wanted to ask her a million questions but I found myself shrinking into a ball of inadequacy. Here was a woman who’d raised her own family but was still giving everything of herself to nurture and care for other people’s children. For me, that alone was a reason to hold her in awe and I promised myself I wouldn’t moan over the small things any more.

Then somebody asked her a question, the answer to which I’ll never forget. “So how many children have you fostered? Has there been many?”

“He’s the eighty-second, love. And I’ll keep going as long as they let me.”

Selfless, generous, inspirational, amazing. She was, and still is my hero.

Maria x

 

Results Not Typical – by Catherine Ryan Howard October 3, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — writenowmom @ 9:15 am

Today I’m hosting my very first guest post. And who better to be my first but Catherine Ryan Howard. Catherine is a 29-year-old writer, blogger and enthusiastic coffee-drinker. She currently lives in Cork, Ireland, where she divides her time between her desk and the sofa. This is a stop on her blog tour promoting her first novel, Results Not Typical, which will be her fourth self-published book. Find Results Not Typical on Amazon.co.uk or, if you’re a Goodreads user, click here for your chance to win one of five paperback copies. Find out more about Catherine and her books on www.catherineryanhoward.com.

Before I hand you over to Catherine, let me tell you a little bit about Results Not Typical:

The Devil Wears Prada meets Weightwatchers and chick-lit meets corporate satire in the debut novel from Catherine Ryan Howard, author of the bestselling memoir Mousetrapped: A Year and A Bit in Orlando, Florida. Through their Ultimate Weight Loss Diet Solution Zone System, Slimmit International Global Incorporated claim they’re making the world a more attractive place one fatty at a time. Their slogans “Where You’re Fat and We Know It!” and “Where the Fat IS Your Fault!” are recognised around the globe, the counter in the lobby says five million slimmed and their share price is as high as their energy levels. But today the theft of their latest revolutionary product, Lipid Loser, will threaten to expose the real secret behind Slimmit’s success…The race is on to retrieve Lipid Loser and save Slimmit from total disaster. If their secrets get out, their competitors will put them out of business. If the government finds out, they’ll all go to jail. And if their clients find out… Well, as Slimmit’s Slimming Specialists know all too well, there’s only one thing worse than a hungry, sugar-crazed, carb addict – and that’s an angry one. Will the secret behind Slimmit’s success survive the day, or will their long-suffering slimmers finally discover the truth? Available now in paperback and e-book editions.

Doesn’t it sound fantastic? So it’s over to you now, Catherine.

Dreaming of Writing a Book? The Right Time and Place is Now and Here

I first decided I was going to become an internationally best-selling, highly acclaimed and stinking rich author who only worked three months out of every twelve and summered on the Cote D’Azur about ten years ago, when I was 19. I had just dropped out of university, having discovered that studying for a science degree wasn’t for me, and was getting used to the first paying job I’d been able to find, that of a sales assistant in a greeting card store. Writing a book that would land me a six-figure deal seemed to be the shortest distance between me and me, rich. After all, barely a week was passing by without news of yet another angst-ridden teenager, working mum or bored housewife who had just signed a 3-book deal for a trillion euro (or pounds, as it just about was at the time) after accidentally dropping the first three chapters of their novel, hand-written in crayon on the inside of a Cornflakes box, into the lap of a literary agent they’d serendipitously crossed paths with on the local bus.

Thanks to a reference library of books on the subject (e.g. How To Conceive, Write, Format, Synopsize & Submit Your Novel, Bag an Agent and Get a Book Deal in 30 Days: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Reason to Use “Summer” as a Verb), I wouldn’t have to resort to dropping pieces of cereal boxes on strangers on the bus. I knew exactly what to do with my book (boil the plot down to a succinct, one-page synopsis), how to format the manuscript (double-spaced, Courier point 12, 1 inch margins all round) and where to send it to (the agents whose listings I’d highlighted in my most up-to-date edition of The Writers ‘and Artists’ Yearbook). I’d be a super star author in no time. Probably by the end of next week, if I skipped a few nights’ TV.

There was just the little matter of writing the book.

One Saturday morning I opened up my laptop, ran the word processing program and typed “CHAPTER ONE” onto a virtual blank page.

Then I deleted it and typed “CHAPTER 1” instead.

Then I deleted that and typed “PROLOGUE.”

Then I went back to “CHAPTER ONE.”

It clearly wasn’t working, and it was obviously the laptop’s fault. It was too old; the keys were just too creaky. It was distracting me from writing The Greatest Novel Ever. There was only one thing to do: buy a new one. Even though I could ill afford it, I splashed out on a brand new, top of the range computer. But again, I was stuck on “CHAPTER ONE.” Perhaps it was because I didn’t have the right desk…

So I got the right desk. Soon after that, I found the right place to put it – in a corner with enough light, but away from the distraction of a window. Then I got the right sort of notepad to make notes on, and the right kind of pen to make them with. Then I got the right books to tell me how to write, and I got the right highlighter to mark the most relevant sections in them. Then I signed myself up for the right workshops, seminars and other literary events. I made the right word count charts and the right scene lists. I read the right websites, subscribed to the right magazines and stuck the right motivational quotes right above my (right) desk.

But I never actually wrote anything.

Then, over the summer of 2009, I got an idea for a novel. A novel which, after a decade of procrastination, I miraculously just sat down and started writing. I wasn’t concerned with what kind of computer I was using or how my notes looked or what reference books I had to hand. I’d worry about the details later, in the second draft. For now, I’d just get the story out, get the first draft down. So I got to it, writing 54,000 words in five weeks. I just did it.

And what I came to realise is that even if I spent the rest of my life reading more of those “How To” books and attending seminars and standing way too close to Real, Live Authors at signings and other events, I would never learn what I learned in those five weeks about how to write a book. Those things certainly helped, yes – especially with motivation – but as for the practicalities regarding how to conceive, plot, write and finish a novel? The only way to learn how is to just do it. Then you not only have the knowledge, but a finished book too.

So if being a writer is on your list of dreams, step away from the Apple website. Put down the stationery catalogues. Stop haunting the reference section of your local bookshop, waiting for the new edition of How To Conceive, Write, Format, Synopsize & Submit Your Novel, Bag an Agent, Get a Book Deal in 30 Days: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Reason To Use “Summer” as a Verb. Instead, spend your time writing a book.

Just sit down, now, and just do it.