Writenowmom's Blog

My ramblings on life, kids and writing.

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

 

Any Dream Will Do – but this one will do quite nicely! November 21, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — writenowmom @ 2:08 am

Well hello there! I thought it was about time I dusted off the blog and told you all a little about what I’ve been up to these last few weeks. Most of you will know what’s been going on because I’ve been screaming it from the rooftops, but I thought that if I write it down, I might actually believe it myself!

Less than two weeks ago, I launched my debut novel, Any Dream Will Do. Now cover your ears for a moment – squeeeeeeeeeeeeee!


The launch itself took place in Dubray Books in Grafton Street in Dublin and it was a fantastic night. At six o’clock I was worried that nobody would turn up because it was pouring rain and Katie Perry was playing in the O2 so traffic was dreadful. Half an hour later, I was worried that if anyone else turned up, they’d have to spill out onto the street because the place was so packed!

For those of you who haven’t read the book, I’ve set a chapter in the Olympia Theatre in Dublin where my characters went to see a Keith Barry show. In a slightly bizarre twist of fiction meeting reality, Keith, who’s a friend of mine, kindly agreed to launch the book. Not only that, but he read out a passage from the chapter he features in. It all seemed slightly surreal but in a fabulous way! He also completely embarrassed me by bringing me up to the podium and reading my mind – but I can’t be cross with him because he’s so brilliant! And also I’m thankful that he didn’t read everything I was thinking!

The week continued with interviews, photo-shoots and even a second launch in my local book shop, Abtree Books in Lucan. It was a smaller launch but just as important because it gave me the opportunity to celebrate with so many people from my local area and of course to recognise the support I’ve had from Aideen, who owns the shop.

On Wednesday, I got a call from my publishers to tell me that Any Dream Will Do entered the Irish charts for original fiction at number nine. It’s like I’m on a treadmill of positivity that’s constantly switched on – the good news just keeps coming and coming! I couldn’t believe that a debut book from an unknown author would figure in the charts at all so I’m eternally grateful to everyone who’s taken the chance and parted with their money to buy it. It was also spotted in the number one slot in terminal two in Dublin airport! How fantastic is that?

Today I just… em… happened to be lurking around the new titles section in Easons, when a woman came along and took down Any Dream Will Do. She seemed to be picking three books for the ‘three for two’ offer. I pretended to be reading the back of another book but had my eyes firmly fixed on her! She chose a few more books and ended up with four in her hands. I knew she was going to put one back. Honestly, the eejit I am, my palms were sweating and I was willing her to pick mine! I held my breath… she spread the four books out on a table… her eyes darted from one to another… she picked mine up, flicked through it and then… SHE PUT IT BACK!! I swear, I was only short of rugby tackling her to the floor and insisting she should give mine a go. But I just stood there deflated, as she took her other three books up to the counter to pay. Then I thought to myself how lucky I am to be able to stand in a bookshop and watch people checking out my book… my book!

There’s so much more I could tell you all about what’s been happening for me but I’ve probably said enough for one blog-post. I’ll just finish up by encouraging you all to follow your dreams – sometimes they really do come true!

Maria x

 

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