Warrior Mums

Warrior Mums

24 December 2012

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Celebrating my two publications with special cakes

Well, it's that wonderful time of the year again! I am sitting here on this Christmas Eve waiting for Patrick and Anna to come home. Marie is carried along with the excitement awaiting her brother and sister's arrival.

This time last year my son and daughter were working over Christmas and I spent most of the festive period writing With a Little Help From my Friends.  And now a year later my book is published and already received some great reviews. I also dropped Authorhouse and published 'I Love Charlotte Bronté' myself. So this year in fact, I became my own woman. Haha, I know most of my friends will laugh at that remark because I have always been bossy and like all my own way and 'my own woman' is all I've ever been. 

Do you like my dolls? They're like Marmite; people love them or hate them but I will tell you how I came to possess them.

Some years ago when I was living in the west of Ireland I was driving through a little town called Castlerea, in the county of Roscommon, when I noticed these five mannequins in the window of a childrens clothing shop. I am one of five girls and they immediately reminded me of my sisters, so I stopped the car and went into the shop. I told the woman how lovely I thought they were and asked if she ever wanted to sell them to give me a call. I left my contact details with her and drove on home. Imagine my surprise when she rang me a couple of weeks later to say she was retiring and her shop was closing down. She invited me to make her an offer on the five mannequins. That kind lady gave me them for next to nothing, saying how glad she was that they were going to a good home. She even threw a baby in for luck! There are four of them in the picture. I have the smallest one and baby in another room beside our 2nd Christmas tree. So that's the story behind them and they remind me of happy times with my sisters when I was little.

I wonder what 2013 has in store? Now that my writing projects are finished I am going to concentrate on getting I Love Charlotte Bronté on  stage. The script is ready, I just need an enthusiastic director. Fingers crossed and let's hope it's up and running this time next year.

Finally I would like to wish all my friends and those on Facebook and Twitter too, a merry Christmas and for those who've lost a loved one this year, I hope you won't feel too sad over the holiday.

Michelle xxx

25 November 2012

WHAT TO WEAR TO THE PUBLISHER'S


     

   Just what do you wear for an interview with a publisher? Oh my goodness, I was stumped! It was the early 90s in Ireland and I was living in County Mayo; a time when the late great Gerry Ryan was entertaining the nation with his RTE radio programme, the Emerald Isle’s football team made it to the World Cup and Mary Robinson was the first female to be elected President.       
Arriving home from a weekend at my friend Anne’s, and where I'd left the children for an extra overnight stay, I had the contents of my wardrobe strewn across the bed. Blue and black – black and blue - were the only colours I ever wore. Should I look smart? Casual? Smart-casual? Then again did it really matter? Yes, I decided, it did, but I needed to wear clothes I felt comfortable in so I could relax and be myself. Not too relaxed though because I had to try and convince this publisher that my story deserved to be published. Yikes, it was a scary thought.
I settled on a light-blue top and gypsy skirt with navy sandals. I thought ‘bright and breezy’ was the best option and reminded myself the most important thing to wear was a smile.
I couldn’t sleep that night. I hoped the weather remained dry. Rain would be disastrous for my curly hair. I only had to go near a boiling kettle and it frizzed up. My biggest nightmare would be arriving at the publisher’s office like a drowned rat or worse still, like I’d had an electric shock.
I arrived in Dublin in plenty of time and strolled up O’Connell Street weaving in and out of the lunchtime crowd, up past the famous Floozy in the Jacuzzi and the Gresham Hotel.
I was excited about meeting the publisher, and pleased too that the sun was shining. So far so good; all was going to plan. 


8 November 2012

A HIDDEN WORLD


            
    My bedroom at the mansion was on top floor in nurses home - 2nd window on the right. 

Sandhill Park Hospital, in Bishop’s Lydeard, Somerset, was built as a country house around 1720. It was later used as a prisoner of war camp, a home for handicapped children and later as a military and civilian hospital.
During World War 1, it was used as a prisoner of war camp for German and Austrian Officers. In 1919 it was converted by Somerset County Council into a home for handicapped children.
It was requisitioned by the military in August 1940 and became the 41st General Military Hospital, providing accommodation in tents and huts. From 1941 the hospital was leased to the Americans as a neurological hospital for over 1,000 patients in 32 new wards which were completed in 1942 serving as the 185th General Hospital. The hospital remained in military use until 1944. The psychiatric hospital reopened under the National Health Service in 1948 and further buildings were constructed. And, this was where a social worker and I were accompanying this little five-year-old mentally handicapped girl; a child I had looked after in Nazareth House in Bristol, until the home closed down and she had nowhere to go. The hospital was 30 miles away.
It was still raining heavy as we drove through Taunton and out into the counrtyside. We arrived in Bishops Lydeard which to me seemed bleak and isolated, left the main road and turned onto a lane which ran through an expanse of green fields onto the 141 acres of hospital grounds. A mansion stood out in the distance. I felt so sad.

25 October 2012

"WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS"

Well, it's finally here - that labour of love that has consumed me for the last two years - that is of course when I wasn't caring for my daughter. I don't mind telling you that juggling writing and being a full time carer to my lovely daughter has been exhausting. I know many of you will understand what I mean because lots of you are also carers. Our priority is to care and nurture a family member that is totally dependant on our love and support, which often leaves us little time or energy to develop our own interests. We become isolated and can easilly forget there's a world out there that still holds a place for  us.  


So last Christmas I made a pact with myself; writing and caring had to somehow be separated and I had to establish some kind of writing schedule or I would never finish my book. I needed peace and quiet, without any distractions.

I decided that when Marie went to bed at 11pm (well, she is 47!) that I would also hit the hay. I set my alarm clock for 2.30 in the morning and crossed my fingers. It was difficult at first. I would fall out of bed at that Godforsaken hour telling myself over and over it had to be done. It was the only way I would ever achieve my goal. I wrapped myself in my pink fluffy dressing gown and slippers (resembling a big fat marshmallow) and headed for the kitchen to make a cuppa. Then I lit a candle and placed that burning flame of hope on my desk, rubbed my sleepy eyes and switched on my computer.

1970 Age 5 Learning to walk
You see my daughter inspires me more than anybody. She has a severe learning disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, dysphasia and scoliosis, yet she goes to bed and awakes with a big smile on her face. If she can cope with all that life's dealt her then I should be able to do anything. No excuses. 

It was hard - so so hard, but I stuck with it night after night, week after week, month after month, until With a Little Help From my Friends was completed. 

I look back now and wonder how I did it. But I didn't do it alone. With my  lovely daughter's courage and inspiration and my determination, I say we wrote that book together.