Wednesday, 29 April 2015

*Generation Squeeze*

'I BOUGHT it two years ago, and honestly, I think I've worn it twice. So I thought of you...'
My mother looks at me. I look at the twinset. Yes, that's right. A twinset. Images of well-dressed, conservative women of the 1950s, boasting said twinset and pearls, spring to mind.
But you know, I enjoyed Mad Men as much as the next person.
'Thanks. I'll try it on,' I tell her. My mother looks pleased.
It is classic but modern. A mix of cashmere and wool, with a funky, dark floral pattern on the bottom half of the tee-shirt and matching cardigan. Floral is in, right?
'It goes well with these jeans, I think.' I gesture vaguely at the ensemble. My mother frowns. Clearly not looking at the jeans.
'What do you think?' I ask. She nods.
'It's lovely. And it'll be even nicer when you lose that little bit of weight.'
Right. She doesn't mean it unkindly, I know. She rarely mentions things like that. And let's face it, I'm old enough to take it. Especially from my mother.
'Is that new?' a couple of friends ask me over coffee the following day. We meet once a week, these friends and I. So they notice these things.
'Yep.' I wait for the compliments. There are none. And then,
'It's unusual, isn't it?' says one. 'I mean, it's a bit different.'
I blink, wondering exactly what she means. It's a twinset, for Heaven's sake. Not chainmail.
'Where did you buy it?'
'I didn't. My mother gave it to me. She'd bought it for herself...' I trail away. Had there been a brief, knowing exchange of glances? Something must have shown in my face.
'It's really nice,' one of them says, quickly. There's that word. Nice. The waitress brings me my usual coffee.
'How are you?' she asks. 'Are you having a pastry with that?'
'Not today, thanks,' I mumble.
I wash the offending articles, fold them, and leave them on the eldest daughter's bed. She's out of her teens. So I figure it's safe enough.
'What on earth are these?' she gasps, when she arrives home from college. Obviously not long enough out of her teens, I realise. 'Who wears woolly tee-shirts? Or cardigans?'
'Lots of people,' I say. 'Anyway, it's called a twinset.'
She sighs.
'You've been watching Mad Men again, haven't you?' She gives it a hard stare. 'Maybe you should wear it, Mum.'
I try for something non-committal, when it suddenly comes to her.
'Actually, do you know who it would really suit?'
I shrug.
'Your gran?'
'Totally,' she says. 'I mean, it's even her size.'

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Have a wonderful week,
Thanks for reading,
Hugs & xx,

Saturday, 18 April 2015

This Spring, fall for a 5***** sparkling, Irish romantic comedy!

What happens when 2 Rival Newspaper Columnists unknowingly fall for their bitter enemy – each other!
This Spring, fall for Charlotte and Derry in the sparkling, 5 Star, Irish Romantic Comedy, GOING AGAINST TYPE.

‘The novel reverberates with authenticity…you won’t be disappointed with Going Against Type. I think it’s the first Irish novel I’ve read that wasn’t historical, which makes it both refreshing and light.’ 
‘The plausibility of such a scenario taking place is part of the appeal!’
‘An utterly charming, clever book. What a great storyteller…’

‘Why are you so nervous, Charlotte? It’s just a date!’
‘Oh come on Helen. The last guy I dated was Mr Uptight conor, and before that I dated sports jocks. Derry is different. He’s Premier League status!’
‘And you’re Scumthorpe United? Take a look at yourself, woman!’
‘I’m not sure what he expects, but I’m not his type, Helen. I’m floundering.’
Helen caught Charlotte’s hands and forced her to meet her gaze.
‘Don’t you dare run yourself down, Charlotte Regan. You’re intelligent and totally gorgeous! But you need to do one thing!’
‘Allow yourself to be a woman! How do I put this without you taking it the wrong way? Don’t talk sport all night. You are incredibly bossy when you start. Let Derry take charge a bit. Allow him to be a man!’
Charlotte blinked.
‘Sorry, I just time travelled to the 1950s for a moment. What were you saying?’


Thursday, 16 April 2015

HBS Author's Spotlight: GOING AGAINST TYPE

GOOD Morning everyone,

Thrilled to be over at HBS Author Spotlight today with another interview. Popping an excerpt from Going Against Type below.


Helen clapped her hands delightedly.

‘Oh Charlotte! Derry Cullinane? Don’t tell me you don’t know his by-line. I thought all you journalists knew each other.’

Charlotte looked bemused.

‘How do you know him?’

‘Well, I always read his mid-week fashion feature. He’s a terrific writer...what?’

‘You read him, but you never read me?’

Helen smiled a little sheepishly.

‘Hey, nothing personal. Sport just doesn’t do it for me...’

‘Anyway, Fiona was obviously playing matchmaker,’ Charlotte continued, ‘but I’m not sure about him...’

Helen frowned.

‘What’s he like? His picture looks really hot! Oh God, please don’t tell me it’s airbrushed! Is he a troll? Oh wait, is he gay? He does write about fashion...’

Charlotte rolled her eyes.

‘That would make the matchmaking a bit pointless. No, he’s definitely not gay.’

‘So, what...three ex-wives? Does he still live with his mother?’

Charlotte bit her lip thoughtfully.

‘It’s nothing like that. We’re just very different. We have nothing in common.’

Helen nodded sagely.

‘No chemistry?’

‘Um well, no. I think there probably was.’

Helen started to laugh.

‘Charlotte, you’re blushing! Let me get this straight: this guy is gorgeous, available and you’ve got the hots for him.’

Charlotte shrugged.

‘It doesn’t matter. I don’t think I’m his type at all.’

‘So you turned him down?’ Helen looked disappointed.

‘He hasn’t even asked me out.’ 


Thanks for reading,
Have a lovely week,
Hugs & xx,

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Interviewed by Author Jane Davis.

Morning everyone,

Delighted to be interviewed today by Author Jane Davis.
Here's the Q & A:

Q: The protagonist in Going Against Type is Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Regan. What five words best describe her?

A: She is best described as feisty, ambitious, positive, kind and vulnerable.

Q: Where is the book set and how did you decide on its setting?

A: The book is set in Dublin, against the backdrop of Dublin newspapers. Because it’s my debut, I wanted to write about something familiar. I had worked as a journalist for a Dublin newspaper, and have always lived in this city, so I know it well.

Q: What were the major areas you had to research?

A: Charlie is a sports journalist, and the story opens in the sports department at her newspaper, where she is given a chance to write a new sports column under the pen name Side Swipe. I had worked as a features writer, and had never written about sport, so I really had to research quite a lot about it. I wanted Charlie’s columns to be authentic and sharp and witty.

Q: At what point in writing the book did you come up with its title?

A: The book was very near completion, after numerous drafts, before the title was picked. I’d had a working title, and then another one. But Going Against Type really fits well, on a couple of levels. First, my heroine is working in what’s still quite a male environment, especially in Ireland. And my hero is a fashion writer, which is largely quite a female world. So they are both going against type. Second, Charlie and Derry, my hero, are polar opposites. Charlie is certainly not the type of woman Derry usually goes out with, and Charlie has never dated anyone like Derry Cullinane! So the title refers to their personal lives too.

Q: If you were trying to describe your writing to someone who hasn’t read anything by you before, what would you say?

A: I suppose I can only talk about Going Against Type, but it taught me a lot. My writing is light, but there is real plot and character development. I think that if you’re good enough to buy a book, you’re entitled to a decent plot. And subplots. It’s also very fast. I tend to keep my scenes short and pacy, with lots of dialogue. Anyone who has read my debut has told me that it races along. Which is good, unless you’re the type of person who never wants a book to end!

Q: Who is the hero of your story? Or your hero within the story?

A: My hero is Derry Cullinane. Born and bred in Co Cork, he now lives by the sea in Dunlaoghaire (pronounced DunLeary), Co Dublin. His mother is a renowned fashion designer and Derry fell into journalism, although he has a healthy respect for the fashion industry and an understanding of fashion writing. When the story opens, it’s clear that the sort of women he dates are quite shallow. Which suits him, because he doesn’t like to get too serious. And there’s a reason for this, which is revealed later on. But beneath that, he’s a decent man. One of his closest friends in work is actually a woman, and because there is no sexual tension between them, readers can see that he can respect that sort of friendship. Of course, when he meets Charlotte (Charlie) he is drawn to her and intrigued by her.

Q: John Irving says that you can’t teach writing. You can only recognise what’s good and say ‘keep doing that.’ Do you think that’s true?

A: I think this is partly true. Certainly I think you can learn about how stories are structured, what your triggers are, where to put your obstacles and climax and so on. And this is hugely helpful because if you’re anything like me, you need storyboards and scenes, even if they change along the way.
But recognising what’s good is vital. This comes from reading other people’s work, and knowing what you like. And it comes from writing every day. When I’m reading back over something, I know if a passage of writing is good. And if something isn’t , I know I’ll have to rethink it.

Q: So how did you come to be a writer?

A: I had written for a long time, as a journalist, obviously. And I’d also had some short stories published, in women’s magazines. To be honest, there wasn’t ever a time that I can remember that I wasn’t writing. I was one of those children who wrote all the time. Later on I attempted to write novels but wasn’t sure about the structure of them, so they always came asunder. After I won a national short story competition here in Ireland, I did a weekend writers’ course to learn the nuts and bolts of novel writing. Plot, structure and so on. That was it.

Q: Do you prefer to write in first person or third person and why?

A: Anything I’ve written has been in third person, and to date I’ve kept it simple. For example, in Going Against Type, it’s third person, and I’m only in Charlie’s head. I didn’t want to get into ‘head hopping.’ But I often enjoy reading other novels, that are written in first person. I think when I become more experienced as a writer, I’d like to try it.

Q: Some writers need silence, others like the buzz of a coffee shop, or their favourite music. Which type are you?

A: Sometimes I like peace and quiet when I’m writing, especially if I am trying to work through something that’s just not coming together. Other times I will escape to my favourite Italian coffee shop in our local village. I will tuck myself into a corner, and write long hand. Everything around me becomes white noise. I have had people coming up and saying my name and I don’t hear them, because I’m completely in another zone. I think that comes from working in newspapers, and having to work with a lot of noise and chatter around me. It kind of suits me.

Thanks for reading,
Have a lovely week,
Hugs & xx,

Sunday, 12 April 2015


THERE'S something strange about Summer holiday shopping in early April. Or at least, there is in Ireland.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not bemoaning our climate. After all, we don't see months of snow in winter, so common in more Northern countries. Nor do our temperatures soar much beyond the mid twenties, (centigrade) on our hottest Summer day.
Windswept, westerly and warmed by the Gulf Stream, we Irish can, at the very least, always begin a conversation by talking about the weather.
But last week, when the rain beat down relentlessly, I found myself in one of our more popular indoor shopping centres here in Dublin. They're relatively new in Ireland, indoor shopping centres.  Twenty years ago, you'd be hard pushed to find one with a roof, despite the fact that it rains nearly every day in this country. I'm not complaining. On the most horrible days, you can leave your coat in the car and enjoy the micro-climate of this catacomb of commerce.
Anyway, there I was. Rain washing the skylights high above my head. Nippy enough outside, that I haven't peeled off any winter layers, thanks very much.
And steeling myself to buy a swimsuit.
Not just any swimsuit, you understand. I'm not twenty anymore. Indeed, at that age, I could nearly buy a swimsuit without even trying it on first, and it'd be perfect. But that's a boast for another day.
A new swimsuit now has to flatter curves. Even the ones that aren't supposed to be there. Especially those. It has to lift bits of oneself. And it has to um, flatten other bits. It has to have invisible panels and generous tucks.
It has to work a bit of magic.
'Are the dressing rooms heated?' I ask the assistant on the way in. She blinks, then spots the selection of half-nothings on my arm.
'Last one on the right is nearest the overhead fan heater.'
Some twenty minutes later I emerge, triumphant. I don't think I've been this happy since I found my perfect wedding dress all those years ago.
And I think it's probably the same price. 
'I'll take this one please,' I smile, handing over the others to the assistant, who starts to hang them on the rail beside her.
'You know, there's a beautiful wrap to match that,' she says, 'and have you seen the sandals over there? Divine. They'll be gone in a few weeks. They get snapped up so quickly.'
I quell the anxiety I always feel when I've been shopping for too long.
'I know. That's why I'm buying a swimsuit today. In April. For my holiday at the end of July.' I can hear a slight edge to my voice.
'Sure by then we'll be starting to get the Autumn ranges in. You won't get the selection you'll get now.' Her tone is even, her smile professional.
I head to the cash desk, determined not to be swayed. But a pair of high, wedged sandals catch my eye. They're beautiful. I hesitate. It wouldn't hurt to try them on.
They add three inches to my height. And they're so comfortable I could practically run in them. For a mad moment, I picture myself, on a beach somewhere, strolling along in my new swimsuit, the sandals elongating my legs.
And for that split second, I am twenty again.
So I'm waiting now for the weather to properly change. No more of this four seasons in a single day lark. At the very least, I want to be able to walk down to my local village. Three inches taller.
Failing that, I'll turn the heat up in my house for a few hours, and freak out my family.

Follow THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE via Email (See Follow by Email to the right of this pg). You will get my fortnightly personal column, plus updates/guest author posts straight to your email. Your email address will NEVER be given to anyone, nor used for ANY OTHER PURPOSE.

Have a wonderful week,
Thanks for reading,
Hugs & xx,

Romance Novel Giveaways: Going Against Type by Sharon Black ♥ Spotlight & G...

Romance Novel Giveaways: Going Against Type by Sharon Black ♥ Spotlight & G...: Some would say Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Regan has it all. Beautiful, smart, athletic and a great job working as a journalist – in the almos...