2016 – Farewell

The last day of 2016 is here and I, for one, am ready to bid it farewell.  It’s been a year of fantastic highs and some hard-hitting lows – a true rollercoaster.  However, there is one thing I achieved this year that I had dreamed of doing all my life and that is publishing my first full length novel – Someone To Come Back To.

STCBT-for-web

Someone To Come Back To  – Book one in the Omega Security Series

I’m a great believer in marking special occasions – as life is simply too short not to – and celebrated the launch of the ebook online with a wonderful party.  A few months later the paperback version was released and the first copies arrived in Brisbane and how wonderful it was to finally hold my baby in my hands!  I decided another party was needed but this time I needed to pop some real corks! Below are a few photos of the event back in August. I’d like to thank all those who have supported me on my writing journey so far – from all over the world!  It means so much to me that you love my stories.  I’d like to wish you all the very, very best for 2017 – much love, Roisin.

Bubbles & Books – A Perfect Combination!

 

The Marketing Director – Getting Ready To Party!

 

Me And A Much More Talented Lady – Brisbane Based Artist Julie Cane

 

My Beautiful Brisbane Book Babes!

 

CK And Me!

 

Feeling Slightly Like Shakespeare As I Sign By Candlelight

 

Looking Slightly Psycho With The Lovely Pauline!

 

My Babies!

 

My Thanksgiving Day

The washed out wintry light of the early morning sun was just starting to peep over the hedgerows.  The road was still damp from the rain that had fallen soft and slow throughout the night.  I looked over at my husband, his face deep in concentration as he wrangled our recently acquired left-hand drive camper van around the twists and turns of the Irish country roads.  I looked back to check on the dogs and I smiled as I spotted Billie peeping out at me from underneath the table and Zara sitting up on the seat, her head resting on the tiny lip of the window – determined not to miss a thing.

black dog on beach

Miss Billie

Zara in snow

Zara

I looked back out onto the road and I smiled some more, this smile warming me from the outside in.  We were doing it.  We were finally calling time on all the shit luck that had plagued us in recent years.  We had already covered the first few miles on an adventure we had planned for months.

We had no idea where we were going.  We had no idea what we were doing.  We had no clue as to what the future held for us but we were throwing caution to the wind and just going for it anyway. The presenter on the radio announced it was Thanksgiving Day in America and wished everyone a happy thanksgiving day. I smiled again, somehow it seemed appropriate that we were setting off on our journey into the unknown on a day when people celebrate that which they are thankful for. At that point in time I was intensely grateful to be physically putting some distance between me and so much that had happened in the years before.

hymer-history-5

The Good Old Hymer!

A few months previously we had sold up everything  – our beautiful home, our cars and anything else of value we’d had.  We’d paid off the tax man and our debtors, glad to finally be free of crippling debt that had arisen from a business deal that had gone horribly wrong.

However, it wasn’t just our business that we lost in those few years but also the dream of being parents.  Our tiny babies lay dead and cold in a grave on a hillside in the west of Ireland. We were emotionally battered and our souls were weary.  We needed to step off the merry-go-round of life for a while and take some much needed time out.

And that’s exactly what we did.  For the next nine months we trundled along the highways and byways of Europe. We ate all manner of wonderful food and we washed it down with cold beers and fine wines.  We walked for miles on golden sands – I don’t think there is an inch of European coastline we missed.  We hiked through sun dappled  forests and swam in lakes the colour of earth and sky.  We gloried in freshly fallen snow and we skied and fell in love with the granite peaks at the heart of Europe which we’d never visited before and at night we warmed ourselves with the heat of a log fire and the local firewater.

triglav_national_park_-slovenia

The Julian Alps in Slovenia

We got lost, gloriously lost and yet somehow managed to find our way.  We met great characters that enriched our journey beyond measure.  Bit by bit we healed and started to feel the joy of life flowing in our veins again.  We dared to believe in dreams once more and we even dared to dream.

A year later we found ourselves back in Ireland patiently awaiting the birth of the child we were told we’d never have.  From one thanksgiving day to another our lives had changed beyond belief and we had so much to be thankful for.  A few weeks later I gave birth to our beautiful baby girl – a precious gift that I will spend the rest of my days being thankful for.

laoise-in-sunglasses-on-hols-in-greece

My Perfect Little Girl

However, on Thanksgiving Day I always remember that wintry morning in Ireland as myself and my husband bumped our way along to the early morning ferry that was to deliver us to Europe and from there to God only knows where.  I remember and give thanks for the small bud of hope that still remained somewhere deep within me.  Sometimes you’ve got to let go of all you think you know and just go – go with your heart and feed your soul.  You’ll be thankful for it more than you can ever know.

The Old Lady’s Lament

I was in a stadium at first, surrounded by concrete and not really sure where I was.  Then, I heard music, quickly accompanied by a chorus of voices.  Soon the voices swelled to that of thousands and almost drowned out the music.  The music changed and I recognised the Italian national anthem, then the French one and finally the Irish.  I turned a corner and there before me were people from all over the world, in various colours signifying their countries and all of them were singing the different national anthems.

I was delighted to hear the Irish national anthem and happily joined in.  Then the music started to  fade and, as is the way in dreams, a door appeared before me.

It seemed to beckon to me so I opened it and walked through.

I found myself in a beautiful riverside setting.  The landscape was verdant and lush.  My feet sank into moss-like grass as I walked along the bank of the gently flowing river.  The water was clear as glass and ran over earthen coloured stones.  Here and there it darkened to the point where I couldn’t see into its depths.  I was mesmerised by its constant flow. However, something drew my attention away from it, a noise, a movement.

I looked up and a beautiful apple tree had sprung up on the far bank, it’s branches laden down with bright red orbs of goodness reaching out and dipping into the water.  Then I noticed a figure.  She almost seemed part of the landscape at first but as she moved the cloths on her aged form became clearer and more defined.

She moved towards the bank of the river.  Another movement caught my attention upstream.  I looked and saw that a bridge had formed.  I knew instinctively  I should cross over the river via the bridge and make my way to the old woman.

I followed my instinct and soon I was only a few feet away from her.  From this distance I could see her ancient clothes were made from some type of sackcloth and yet they moulded to the shape of her body like velvet.

I moved closer and could see she had something in her hands.  It was a primitive style basket woven from reeds.  It was wet and it was obvious she had taken it from the river.

The feeling of overwhelming sadness emanated from her in waves.  She continued to look down at the basket as if it had contained a great treasure and she had lost it.

I was concerned for her and moved closer.

“Are you okay?” I enquired, “have you lost something?  Is there anything I can help you with?”

She lifted her eyes and looked at me and it seemed that her face stayed the same but was constantly changing.  One second she was old, the next she was youthful, the next a little girl, the next a middle aged woman.  Her eyes constantly changed colour – so fast that I only had a sense of them changing  – all the while they looked grey, like that of a wolf.

“No,” her voice sounded inside my head, “there’s nothing you can do.”

She returned her gaze to the basket and her feeling of profound sadness permeated through me.

“If you need food or sustenance of any type, I can get it for you,” I assured her.

She looked at me again and half smiled.

“There was a time,” she told me, in a voice that seemed to wax and wane, “a time when these baskets were full of gifts from those who had more than me – food, clothing, books, even little treats such as sweets and perfumed soaps.  And at one time, for much of my life, I had a great need of these things and I was deeply grateful for the kindness of strangers who would send these baskets of kindness upon the river to a poor wretch like me.  Thankfully I no longer have a need for the items in the baskets.  Life is better now.”

She paused.

I noticed her clothes started to change. The sackcloth was now intertwined with silver and soon her clothes started to shimmer.

“But you are so sad,” I said to her.

She looked at me, her eyes, the eyes of  millennia, sad and resigned.

“My child,” she responded, “I am not sad because I miss the gifts. I no longer have a need for them. I am sad because the kindness behind the gifts is dwindling, it’s almost gone. There are others as I once was and all they can hope for is an empty basket.”

With that she conjured up a kind smile, turned and walked in the direction of the tree. A shimmer now surrounded her and I blinked and she was gone.

I followed in her footsteps and sat underneath the tree and contemplated her words.  I thought about all the times I had benefited from the incredible kindness of strangers – crucial times in my life, times of great hardship and loss. The kindness itself couldn’t change what I was going  through but it was the difference between me making it and not.

I thought about the state of the world and all the sad events in recent times and how much just a little kindness could bring about change.  I resolved to try and open my kindness valve some more and try and be part of the change.

I can still see that beautiful river in my mind, flowing constantly, like life itself.  I hope some day I meet the old lady again and this time she is happy because once again the river is abundant with baskets of kindness.

 

 

Happy Birthday William

As regular followers of this blog will know, I’m rather partial to the odd spot of poetry.  Some keen observers may have noted that one of my favourite poets is William Butler Yeats, who just happened to be born on 13th June 1865.  To mark this legendary poet’s birthday, I’m sharing two of my favourite poems of his with you today.  Enjoy.

NO SECOND TROY

by: W. B. Yeats (1865-1939)

HY should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late
Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great,
Had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?
Black and white photo of yeats the  poet

William Butler Yeats

The Cloths Of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

How Writers Roll

It’s Monday. It’s raining. It’s beautiful.  The kids are gone back to school and I am surrounded by blessed silence tempered only by the drip, drop, pat, pat, pat of raindrops.

School holidays for me mean no writing and as much as I love and adore my children, this causes me a certain amount of frustration, especially because I’m not the type of person who can easily pick up a story, like a piece of thread and just start sewing it together again.  No, I need to ease myself back into it, to pick up the mood and re-acquaint myself with my characters.  That’s just how this writer rolls.

The story I’m currently working on is about a man who has decided love is not for him.  Of course fate has other ideas.  Over the next few weeks I will be dealing with the crux of the story and its main theme – love.  So, in order to “pick up the mood” and find some inspiration for hopefully some decent writing over the coming weeks I’ve been listening to Ed Sheeran and reading love poetry.  Not a bad way to pass a rainy Monday!  In my efforts to find inspiration I came across this stunningly beautiful poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox and I’d like to share it with you.  Its so incredibly beautiful and yet astute in its observation of the physical and emotional state that is love. It blew me away.  Enjoy.

Love’s Language

How does Love speak?
In the faint flush upon the telltale cheek,
And in the pallor that succeeds it; by
The quivering lid of an averted eye–
The smile that proves the parent to a sigh
Thus doth Love speak.

How does Love speak?
By the uneven heart-throbs, and the freak
Of bounding pulses that stand still and ache,
While new emotions, like strange barges, make
Along vein-channels their disturbing course;
Still as the dawn, and with the dawn’s swift force–
Thus doth Love speak.

How does Love speak?
In the avoidance of that which we seek–
The sudden silence and reserve when near–
The eye that glistens with an unshed tear–
The joy that seems the counterpart of fear,
As the alarmed heart leaps in the breast,
And knows, and names, and greets its godlike guest–
Thus doth Love speak.

How does Love speak?
In the proud spirit suddenly grown meek–
The haughty heart grown humble; in the tender
And unnamed light that floods the world with splendor;
In the resemblance which the fond eyes trace
In all fair things to one beloved face;
In the shy touch of hands that thrill and tremble;
In looks and lips that can no more dissemble–
Thus doth Love speak.

How does Love speak?
In the wild words that uttered seem so weak
They shrink ashamed in silence; in the fire
Glance strikes with glance, swift flashing high and higher,
Like lightnings that precede the mighty storm;
In the deep, soulful stillness; in the warm,
Impassioned tide that sweeps through throbbing veins,
Between the shores of keen delights and pains;
In the embrace where madness melts in bliss,
And in the convulsive rapture of a kiss–
Thus doth Love speak.

Wishbones And Backbones

I was all ready to get stuck into writing a post when I came across a poem that blew me away. Regular followers of this blog will know just how much I love poetry, so I can’t resist sharing this one with you all.  I particularly love the last two lines.  No.  I ADORE the last two lines which are attributed to Clementine Paddleford an American journalist and writer.

Enjoy.

FOR MY DAUGHTER

By Sarah McMane

“Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.” – Clementine Paddleford

Never play the princess when you can
be the queen:
rule the kingdom, swing a scepter,
wear a crown of gold.
Don’t dance in glass slippers,
crystal carving up your toes —
be a barefoot Amazon instead,
for those shoes will surely shatter on your feet.

Never wear only pink
when you can strut in crimson red,
sweat in heather grey, and
shimmer in sky blue,
claim the golden sun upon your hair.
Colors are for everyone,
boys and girls, men and women —
be a verdant garden, the landscape of Versailles,
not a pale primrose blindly pushed aside.

Chase green dragons and one-eyed zombies,
fierce and fiery toothy monsters,
not merely lazy butterflies,
sweet and slow on summer days.
For you can tame the most brutish beasts
with your wily wits and charm,
and lizard scales feel just as smooth
as gossamer insect wings.

Tramp muddy through the house in
a purple tutu and cowboy boots.
Have a tea party in your overalls.
Build a fort of birch branches,
a zoo of Legos, a rocketship of
Queen Anne chairs and coverlets,
first stop on the moon.

Dream of dinosaurs and baby dolls,
bold brontosaurus and bookish Belle,
not Barbie on the runway or
Disney damsels in distress —
you are much too strong to play
the simpering waif.

Don a baseball cap, dance with Daddy,
paint your toenails, climb a cottonwood.
Learn to speak with both your mind and heart.
For the ground beneath will hold you, dear —
know that you are free.
And never grow a wishbone, daughter,
where your backbone ought to be.

Remember Me – Inspirations Part Two

The west of Ireland is a place that has inspired writers and artists for hundreds of years.  If you have any sort of creative inkling in you at all then you can’t spend any amount of time there without drawing an abundance of inspiration from its stunning natural beauty and cultural heritage.  I was lucky enough to grow up and attend university here and after a few years working in Dublin, I returned and spent the first ten years of married life in a small, renovated cottage on the shores of Lough Mask.

It was during this time I had the opportunity to acquaint myself with a number of the historical houses of counties Mayo and Galway.  Many of these properties became the ultimate status symbol during the Celtic Tiger and others became the targets of developers, as featured in  the storyline of Remember Me. Practically all of these houses were designed by the most talented architects of the day and all of them are built in stunning locations.  They are beautiful testaments to a bygone era and as the general architecture of Ireland continues to evolve they stand as eternal links to the past.

Two of these houses in particular served as the main inspiration for Carra House, in Remember Me. Carra House is a fictional amalgam of these two houses, which I’d like to share with you.

The first one is Partry House.   It was built in 1667 by Arthur Lynch as a dowager house for his widowed mother.  It’s a stunning property with a wonderful feeling of warmth in it which is missing in so many historical houses.  It also has a beautiful gate lodge, which is the inspiration for the gate lodge in Remember Me.

Historical House

Partry House, Co. Mayo.

The second one is Cloonee House, built in 1775 as a hunting lodge for the Brown family of Westport House and nestled on the shores of Lough Carra, one of Ireland’s best fishing lakes.

Old house on shores of a lake

Cloonee House

During my time living nearby, it was owned by the local vet, who very kindly looked after my dog whenever I was away.  I always loved dropping him off and collecting him from this amazing property.  The private road up to it is hairy, as described in Remember Me but the drive is well worth it when you round the last bend and arrive at this stunning location.  The scene where Flynn arrives at Carra House and makes a dash up the front steps and opens the ancient door, is a scene straight from my own memories.

I arrived one very dark evening to collect Rock and there didn’t seem to be anyone home even though lights glowed all over the house.  The rain was monsoon-like and I didn’t fancy getting out of the car as I usually did and wandering around the property till I found someone.  So, I decided to use modern technology to solve my dilemma and phoned.  George answered and told me they were in the kitchen at the back of the house, just finishing their dinner and that I should come in the front door and go into the drawing room and wait for them there.  So, just as Flynn does in Remember Me, I dashed up the front steps, opened the huge front door and let myself in.  A beautiful, antique brass umbrella holder stood just inside the door and the entrance hall was decidedly chilly.  However, I’ve never forgotten the warmth and intoxicating smell of the log fire that enveloped me as I opened the door to the drawing room.  The fire spit and crackled, an old leather armchair stood empty in front of its flames and the room was full of antiques and history.  I stood there and breathed it all in as I imagined a man sitting in that chair, a man with a past, brooding and plotting as he stared at the flames and fuelled his plans for revenge with a glass of one of Ireland’s finest whiskey’s.

Photo of a bottle of Jameson Whiskey

Jameson – One Of Flynn’s Favourite Tipples

It’s taken me a while to bring that man from the dark depths of my imagination into the bright light of reality but I’m so glad for those few minutes in the drawing room of Cloonee House where the idea of him was born.

As an interesting footnote, I’m not the only writer to have found inspiration at Cloonee House.  D.H. Lawrence availed of its peace and tranquillity to write part of his novel “Women In Love” there.

As I said – the west of Ireland, a magical place that never fails to inspire.

Lakeshore

The Sparkling Waters of Lough Carra