Mother’s Day

In my novel Someone To Come Back To, Dr. Maggie O’Brien seeks the seclusion of the Adirondacks for some peace and to undertake some clear-headed thinking about her life. One of the things she finally faces with brutal honesty is her relationship with her mother and her contribution to that relationship and how she hasn’t always been fair to her mother. She realizes what most of us realize at some point – the breathtaking amount of work and effort her mother put in to ensure she and the rest of her family had a happy and as smooth running a life as possible. I’m sharing the excerpt here in honour of all the Mothers on Mother’s Day – enjoy!

“She remembered her last boyfriend Tim, and his pleas to her to leave the E.R. and get engaged, to become Mrs. Taylor and follow him to a life in the burbs, from where he intended to commute to work every day and leave her rearing their children.  His vision of domestic bliss had only revealed itself under the influence of a lot of alcohol at the staff Christmas party and Maggie had realized there and then their relationship was over.  It had spluttered on for a few more months, mainly due to their hectic work schedules but Maggie had finally ended it.

The idea of her as some sort of housewife, trying to juggle domestic commitments with raising children was the stuff of her own personal horror movie.  She could barely manage her life as a single woman, never mind trying to keep small people alive and cared for.  And there was the rub, the thing she didn’t understand, the thing she wanted to put under a microscope and examine forensically and the thing she was simultaneously terrified to look at.

She was a successful trauma surgeon, a key member of the E.R. team at Hillview.  She was an intelligent, accomplished woman, excellent at her job and committed to her work.  But that’s where her success stopped.

Her apartment was a disaster zone.  It was constantly a mess. She struggled to keep on top of the basics such as washing, ironing and cleaning.  Her bills were consistently overdue and she’d had her phone and power disconnected on more than one occasion.  She barely had time to shop, never mind cook and her diet consisted basically of take-outs and frozen dinners.  And this for a trauma surgeon!  She knew if she kept going in this vein she’d be bringing a major trauma on herself.

Then there was her social life. Apart from the occasional drinks with colleagues and the few times a year she met up with former friends from university, she didn’t have a social life.  She didn’t do anything.  She seemed to remember a time when she used to go for a run or a bike-ride but there just didn’t seem to be any time in her schedule anymore to do those things.  And then there was her sex life.

Hmmmm… she thought to herself, I’m back to that old bogey.  She simply didn’t have a sex life.  Other than a fumble with an intern about a year ago, she had zip, nada, zilch.

No wonder I’m swooning over some guy I met in the woods, she thought baldly to herself.

How was it her life differed so greatly from her father’s? He had worked the E.R. all his life and had always been impeccably turned out, not slinking into work in yet another crumpled shirt and the same pants for three days in a row.  He had eaten like a king and found time for a walk every day, his “constitutional” he had called it.  His bills were always paid promptly and she never remembered a time when their phone or power had been disconnected.  He had always had time to spend with each of his kids every day.  She barely had time to herself.  He had been her hero and she had grown up wanting to be just like him.

Hillview had welcomed her with open arms, delighted to have the daughter of E.R. legend Dr. Dan O’Brien on staff.  And she was doing her best to live up to that legend.  She’d always thought that was what she wanted and in the beginning it had felt great.  She’d been totally buzzed up following in her eminent father’s footsteps but after a few years and the sheer grind of the E.R. the buzz had started to fade.

She loved her job but lately it didn’t feel the same.  Was it the changing nature of many of the cases they dealt with such as the increase in stabbings, gun-shot wounds, and worst of all battered and abused children or was she burnt out?  Did she need to go into a saner part of medicine, to specialize, and work scheduled hours, maybe even just during the day?

Her father had worked E.R. all his life until the day he retired, he could never have imagined doing anything else.  Why then should she not be able for it?  Why was she struggling to balance her work life with some semblance of a personal life?  Why, for God’s sake, was she lucky if she had a clean pair of panties to put on in the morning!

The answer, of course was back in Bay Ridge in the perfectly maintained brownstone she had grown up in.  But it wasn’t the answer she wanted. It was the answer, the truth of which, she refused to acknowledge.  However, here she was in the middle of nowhere, a place she had driven over five hours to get to so she could have some peace and solitude to finally figure out exactly what it was that had been bothering her for months now.  She had promised herself it was a time for brutal honesty, so there was no point hiding behind half-truths and fairytales.

The answer took the form of Kitty O’Brien her indomitable mother and a woman with whom she had a less than straightforward relationship.  She’d always laid the blame for the type of relationship she had with her mother squarely at her mother’s feet but the thought had been slowly formulating over the past few months if that was strictly fair.  And now, sitting here on this glorious morning, looking at the incredible scenery before her and actually spending time alone, sitting and thinking, she had to finally face the unpalatable fact she hadn’t been fair to her mother at all, not one little bit.

Kitty O’Brien had been a doctor in her own right and if any of the comments from some of her father’s colleagues were to be believed, had been a brilliant and gifted physician.  However, her career had been sacrificed upon the altar of motherhood and domestic servitude.  Maggie was aware her mother had kept working for a few years after she was born and even after the birth of her brother Patrick but had never gone back to work after the birth of Lucy.  Maggie always assumed that had been her mother’s choice but now she wondered how much of a choice she’d actually had.

Even nowadays it was difficult to successfully juggle a career with a home-life, she was single with no kids and couldn’t pull it off.  She could only imagine how impossible it would have been for a woman of her mother’s generation, who, after dealing with the general criticism for choosing to be a working mother,  would have been expected to handle all of the child-rearing and housework as well.  As much of a hero as her father was to her, she never recalled him once cooking a meal or vacuuming the floor, much less cleaning a bathroom.

She cringed as she recalled her unadulterated adoration of her father while at the same time all her mother had got from her was grudging acknowledgement at best and snooty disdain most of the time.  No wonder, her mother’s response was a guarded prickliness.  She had kept the cogs of all their lives running so smoothly for so long, none of them had even been aware of it.

The house had always been immaculate, a perfectly cooked meal was on the table every evening, impeccably ironed clothes were ready to wear every morning, homework was supervised every night, football games, swimming, drama recitals and school plays were never missed, bills were paid on time and holidays were planned with military precision and no special occasion went unmissed.

In later years her mother had even volunteered at a local women’s health clinic.  Maggie had been vaguely aware of her mother being highly regarded by local women, obvious in the affection they demonstrated to “Dr. Kitty” whenever they’d met any of these women on public occasions.  However, she had been too focused on her father as the hero to consider her mother might actually be just as equally regarded.

“Damn,” Maggie swore to herself as she shifted uncomfortably in her seat, no wonder her father had been able to pull off a thirty year career in the Emergency Room, he’d had the unequivocal, total and absolute support of his wife who had managed every aspect of his life.

All he’d had to do every day was get up, put his perfectly ironed clothes on, eat the breakfast his wife had prepared for him and go to work.  He hadn’t needed to worry about where the food was coming from or who was going to cook it, how his dirty clothes were going to get cleaned and ironed and put in the wardrobe or who was going to pay the bills.

Of course he could just have fun with his children because the homework was already done and he’d never had to take time out of his busy day to carefully plan something as mundane as a family holiday, much less do all the packing for it.  It was easy to go and be super-doctor every day when you had a whole other human being managing every aspect of your life.

And there was the problem, Maggie didn’t have the equivalent of her mother, or anyone remotely close, to manage her life.  Disgruntled, she got up from the chair and went back inside the cabin.  She had finally faced up to what had been niggling at her for so long but how to solve it?  She was hardly going to find herself a wife any time soon…….”



It’s finally here!  In just a few hours Someone To Come Back To is live!


In honour of the day that’s in it, lets have an excerpt.

“The cabin was illuminated by a number of lamps and the fire was crackling to life in the hearth.  Maggie came around by the side of the fireplace when she stopped dead in her tracks.  Over beside the bed, his back thankfully to her, stood her rescuer, totally naked.  Maggie clamped her hand over her mouth to stifle the gasp that was rapidly making its way up her throat.  She had seen thousands of bodies in her time but never one quite like the one before her now.

Christ, thought Maggie, even this guy’s muscles have muscles.

She knew she should retreat in to the bathroom to give him enough time to get dressed but she stood transfixed.  The breadth of his shoulders and the way his muscles flexed as he reached down to the bed for his shirt held her spellbound.   The perfect form of his back as it tapered flawlessly down to his hips and the tightness of his ass, followed by the incredibly toned muscles in his legs all combined to immobilize Maggie into a state of almost euphoric appreciation.

She had never seen a man quite like this before and she couldn’t help but gape.  However, as she looked closer, she began to notice scars and the more she looked the more she realized the embodiment of male perfection before her was covered in them.  Some seemed a few years old but her medical knowledge told her some were quite recent.  Worryingly, she noticed a few were gunshot wounds.

Oh God, she groaned to herself, who is this guy?

He threw the shirt over his head and she started to back up towards the bathroom when he turned around.

“No need to leave because of me,” he grinned at her.

Maggie blushed the color of her hair.

“I….I….I’m sorry,” she stuttered as she tried to look anywhere except between his legs.

“It’s ok, I’m not the shy type,” he chuckled as he pulled on a pair of boxer shorts and slung a pair of jeans across his hips.  He left the shirt hanging loose and it was then Maggie realized, as she looked into his laughing brown eyes, just how incredibly handsome he was, like Henry Cavill and Eric Bana all rolled into one.  She didn’t think it was possible but she blushed even more.”

You like? Go read some more by clicking the link below and then clicking “buy”!!!


Will You Always Love Me?

The blog tour for my novella, Over Your Dead  Body, is kicking off today and I was doing up some promotional material over the weekend.  This involved me trawling through a number of stock image sites looking for appropriate photos.

Over Your Dead Body - the story of one man's need to resolve the past so he can have a future

Over Your Dead Body – the story of one man’s need to resolve the past so he can have a future.

Over Your Dead Body is the story of Ryan Kennedy and how he came to realise he was gay and the challenges he faced and the choices he made in relation to that realisation.  So, naturally enough I was searching for images that involved some male on male action. It was the weekend so of course the kids were in and out of the office, wondering what I was doing and when I was going to be available to play with them. My seven year old son had wandered in a few times, not particularly paying attention to what I was doing but then he came right up beside me and looked at the images on the screen.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

I explained about the blog tour and that I needed to make up a few promotional images in relation to the story.

“But why do you have photos of a man kissing a man?” he asked.

I explained how the story is about a man who is attracted to men.  (He understands the concept. When homosexuality is referred to in our house it is in the same context as heterosexuality, it’s just a matter of who you want to be with – whether that’s a man who wants to be with a woman or man who wants to be with a man or  woman who wants to be with a woman.  It doesn’t matter. However, he hasn’t yet seen a man kissing a man.)

“What happens to the man in the story?” he asked.

I explained how some people don’t accept homosexuality and that this man’s mum and dad didn’t love him any more after they found out he was gay and this had a huge effect on his life.

Photo of man in emotional pain with quote from a book

One Of The Promotional Teasers Depicting Ryan’s Anguish

My son’s face fell and his eyes became sad.

“They didn’t love him any more? he whispered, like that was the worst thing that could ever possibly happen.

“No,” I replied.

My son turned to me, his little face blighted with confusion and sadness for this man in the story.

“And what happens if I love a man when I grow up” he asked, “will you and Daddy still love me?”

I pulled him to me and kissed his little cheek.

“My beautiful boy,” I said, “whether you love a man or you love a woman, me and Daddy will always love you.”

He smiled, threw his arms around me in a monster hug and walked happily out the door.

Over Your Dead Body encompasses all the pain and suffering I have witnessed over the years of friends and acquaintances who have had to face rejection and even abuse by those closest to them, just because they were gay.  Ryan eventually comes through it all and finds his happy ending, sadly this is not the case for all.

Quote in yellow writing over black and white photo of forest with a path splitting in two

A Many Splendored Thing

All my life I have enjoyed a rich and eventful life at night.  Come the time I close my eyes, I enter my dreamworld and all sorts of wild and wonderful things happen. Sometimes, they haven’t been so wonderful and I’ve had nightmares I’d rather forget but my dreams are always vivid, colourful and powerful.  Over the years I’ve also experienced what I call “auditory dreams” where someone / a voice is saying a word or words to me throughout the night.  These “hearing dreams” are rare and I only need my two hands to count the number of times they have happened but it just so happens I had one the other night.

The words, “love is a many splendored thing” kept being repeated throughout the night to the extent that when I woke up I immediately googled them and to my surprise came across an Oscar winning song that was featured in the 1955 movie of the same name.

Colour Poster of 1955 Movie

The 1955 Movie – Love Is A Many Splendored Thing

The lyrics are beautiful and I thought I’d share them with you today.

Love is a many splendored thing
It’s the April rose
That only grows in the early spring
Love is nature’s way of giving
A reason to be living
The golden crown that makes a man a king

Once on a high and windy hill
In the morning mist
Two lovers kissed
And the world stood still
Then your fingers touched
My silent heart and taught it how to sing
Yes, true love’s
A many splendored thing

Once on a high and windy hill
In the morning mist
Two lovers kissed
And the world stood still
Then your fingers touched
My silent heart and taught it how to sing
Yes, true love’s
A many splendored thing

Interestingly, the sentiment of the song has particular relevance to my current work in progress about a man who decides love is not for him and the line, “then your fingers touched my silent heart and taught it how to sing” perfectly describes what happens to him when fate throws him under the love bus.

Why the title of this song repeated itself to me throughout the night, I have no idea but I’m glad it did. It’s been covered by many artists over the years but one of the best versions I’ve heard is by Old Blue Eyes himself and I’ll let him do justice to it for you today.  Take it away there Frank.

The Smile

I saw this beautiful video on facebook the other day and it reminded me of one of the most amazing days in my life.

It was approximately seven years ago and it was the day my little girl met her baby brother for the first time.  Ah that’s sweet, I hear you say but does it really fall into the amazing category? Well, yes it does when you consider her baby brother had fought for his life since being born at twenty-nine weeks and wasn’t due to be born for another six weeks.  But as amazing as that fact was, it wasn’t the most amazing thing about the day.

I’m not sure how much you know about babies, I didn’t know a whole lot until I finally managed to have one but they don’t properly smile until they are between six and ten weeks old.  Apparently their facial muscles aren’t developed enough to pull off a full-on beam.  They may entertain you with plenty of adorable expressions and attempts at a smile but the main event doesn’t usually come until at least six weeks of age.

So here’s the amazing thing, on setting his eyes on his big sister and hearing her squeal of delight, the baby affectionately known as Scrappy, broke out into one of the biggest smiles you have ever seen. Yup, he pulled off a mega-watt beam of joy that reduced us all (including the battle-hardened NICU nurses) to tears.  The only exception was his sister, who was captivated with him from the second she set her eyes on him and proceeded to smile back.

Little girl holding baby boy in her arms

Sister & Brother Finally Meet

Very often we only recognise defining moments in our lives as we look back and view events with the benefit of hindsight, however, I knew immediately this was a defining moment in my life.  I knew if my son (who wasn’t even supposed to be born yet) could pull off a smile like that for his sister, someone who he innately knew, then he would be okay.  He would make it.

All too often these days we are bombarded with science and it seems someone, somewhere has all the answers but if my son’s incredible smile taught me one thing, it’s that we don’t have all the answers and sometimes things happen that just can’t be explained. At a time when so many seek to break the most incredible events in life, such as falling in love, into their component parts e.g. hormones, pheromones etc I think it’s wonderful that life keeps us on our toes and her mysteries up her sleeve.

So, the next time you smile, think of Scrappy and feel the magic of life.

Love Wins!

Well it’s been a week since Ireland rocked the world and voted yes for gay marriage.  I knew the wonderful people of my country would do it and they did it in spectacular fashion.  So many people have expressed surprise to me stating the fact that the Republic of Ireland is pre-dominantly a Catholic country.  Yes it is but to focus on Catholicism is to miss the point, first and foremost the people of Ireland are Irish and a passion for freedom and equality beats at the very heart of every person in Ireland.  Each scandal involving the Catholic Church over the last twenty years has loosened the shackles that institution used to hold the country in, to the point where many who might have made their decisions before, based on doctrine and liturgical rhetoric, now look into their own hearts. And what they have found there is compassion and love, two precious commodities many religions spout about but so few practice.  Well done Ireland, you displayed your beautiful heart and soul to the world and I couldn’t be prouder to say I’m Irish than I am today.  Below is a beautiful video collage of some of the special moments of an incredible day in our history.  Enjoy.

A Vote For Love

Today, the people of the Republic Of Ireland go to the polls to vote yes or no for marriage equality. That is, they are voting for the right for gay people to enjoy the same marital status as heterosexual couples.

Wedding rings on rainbow coloured cloth

Today Is The Day Ireland Decides On Marriage Equality

Whereas, civil partnerships and gay marriage exist in other countries, Ireland is the first country to hold a national referendum on whether or not to enshrine the legal protection of marriage equality into the nation’s constitution.  Basically, the Irish people are getting to say how they feel about gay marriage.

Art work of two men embracing each other

An Art Installation In Dublin In Favour Of A Yes Vote

The debate in Ireland has been a lively and impassioned one for the last few weeks and has diverted off into areas such as “the fall of the family”, children’s rights, adoption, surrogacy and human rights.

If I was in Ireland today (and I dearly wish I was) I’d be voting YES and my vote would be driven by one simple principle: My vote would be a vote for love.  As far as I am concerned love is sacred and it’s sacred whether it’s between a man and a woman, a woman and a woman or a man and a man. With so much hatred in the world, I feel we all have to do as much as we can for love and to provide a counterpoint to those with hate in their hearts.  Marriage is a celebration of love and I look forward to all people being able to celebrate their love through the medium of marriage, if they so choose, regardless of whether it’s same sex marriage or heterosexual marriage.  I thoroughly believe Ireland will lead the way today.

Poster in favour of yes vote in marriage referendum in ireland

Vote For Love

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.

Fathers, Forgiveness And Acceptance

I logged on to the internet today and saw a story going viral that could be straight out of the pages of my novella Over Your Dead Body.

Over Your Dead Body - the story of one man's need to resolve the past so he can have a future

Over Your Dead Body – the story of one man’s need to resolve the past so he can have a future

It makes me so sad that this boy and so many others who come out have to go through this terrible rejection.  I was also struck at how the son doesn’t hold the father’s cruel words against him and hopes they can still work out a relationship.  I was stunned at how the son is obviously way more mature than his own father!  I applaud Tyler’s bravery and hope he finds as much happiness as he has found support from around the world.  I also hope his Dad finds it in his heart to get over himself and his bigotry in order to work out a loving relationship with his son.

[Reporting from]

“You are so brave, many admire you”: Outpouring of support for 15-year-old boy who was told his coming out was ‘worse than death’ by his FATHER in Facebook messages posted online

A teenager has received support from around the world after he revealed his father had called his coming out as gay ‘worse than death’.

Vancouver-born Tyler, 15, posted the Facebook conversation he had had with his dad on his Tumblr account, in which he is told that news of his sexuality is an ’embarrassment’.

He reveals that he first told his news to his sisters, who were extremely supportive, and then came out to his mother, before telling his father.

Photo of fifteen year old boy who is gay


In response to Tyler’s news, his father wrote back: ‘We took care of you since you were a baby. We loved you, took care of you when you’re sick. Lost many days and nights in all your fifteen years.

‘Now this is what we get in return, shame and embarrassment.’

He continued: ‘If only you didn’t reject God and His teachings in your life you could have been strong enough to stay from evil and scums that surrounds you. Stay away.’

In further messages, perhaps in response to Tyler’s Tumblr post, his father went on: ‘Take out your post from social media.

‘You embarrass me from all the people I knew.

‘I’m going to puke. Whatever you do it reflects on me. People will ridicule me, insult me, and I might turn out to be a criminal. I have enough of all this bulls***.’

Image of social media exchange

Some Of The Exchanges

He concluded: ‘You are trying to ruin me. This is worse than death.’

Discussing his father’s messages in an interview with Huffington Post B.C., Tyler, who lives with his aunts, said: ‘I’m hoping there’s still the possibility that he could change, even if it takes a while.

‘Maybe he could accept me, because that’s all I want… I just want him to be there for me.’

Read more:


I can’t believe it has been so long since I put a post together.  It seems only a few weeks ago I was drowning in the depths of pre-Christmas homesickness and writing about the Candle In The Window and now, somehow, it’s Valentine’s day.  The lack of seasons here in Queensland seriously messes with my sense of time – as in I just don’t have any sense of time passing or the year moving on.

So here we are in the middle of February and at that time of year again in the Western world where people observe various celebrations of love – mostly of the romantic kind.  Admittedly it is an ancient celebration that has been pretty much hi-jacked by peddlers of the tawdry and the tacky but I feel it is no less important for all that.

For me, anything that celebrates love is wonderful.  The world is full of so much negativity and hate that if we can preserve one day of the year where we celebrate love – even if it is for the most part romantic love that is celebrated – then that is a good thing.  Love is the most powerful force on the planet and the more we can celebrate it the better. Not everyone is lucky enough to find true love in their lifetime and for some it is simply a fleeting moment, if you have been so fortunate to find the person you truly love and are spending your life with that person then take the opportunity to observe just how how lucky you are.

Below is a painting by one of Ireland’s most celebrated artists, Frederic William Burton.  The painting is titled, The Meeting On The Turret Stairs.

Man and woman in olden days with man kissing woman's arm

The Meeting On The Turret Stairs

The work itself was inspired by an old Danish ballad of forbidden love between a princess  – Hellelil and one of her bodyguards – Hildebrand.  Hellelil’s father deemed Hildebrand most unsuitable for his daughter and ordered his seven sons to kill him.  The painting is Burton’s interpretation of the last embrace of the ill-fated lovers before Hildebrand goes to face Hellelil’s brothers.

I think it is a stunningly beautiful piece of work and I am fascinated at how Burton managed to depict so much emotion in it.  The tenderness of Hildebrand’s kiss is particularly poignant and gets to me every time I see it.  And I’m not the only one who loves this particular painting.  It was recently voted Ireland’s favourite painting and despite the tragic tale it depicts, it is seen as one of the country’s most romantic paintings and many proposals of marriage have taken place before it.

Wherever you are this Valentine’s weekend, I hope you get to spend some time with the one you love or at least to tell them how much they mean to you because as the song goes, “love is all there is.”