Jeezo! I haven’t sat still

Well, it’s been a crazy kind of time in Nelson Towers lately. Since we’ve been easing out of lockdown in Scotland, my social life has rocketed. I’ve been able to see family (in the garden and in unseasonably warm weather, thank goodness) and friends. The friends part was last weekend when I went for a drink round to our local pub with my friend from next door and a couple of others. Then on Sunday, I joined two others for a socially distanced lunch in La Lanterna (great food btw) in the west-end of Glasgow and had a Zoom call that night with two women I’ve known since school (one I’ve known since I was four, the other since I was about 13).  It was busy, it was mad, but it was great. It killed me that I couldn’t hug anyone, but it was still so nice to actually be around people again.

So how’s your week been? What have you been up to? Are you guys finally getting back some normality in your lives? I hope so. Terrible news about India. My heart goes out to them. I’m afraid we’ll continue to see people dying from Coronavirus for some time yet.

Line of Duty

Anyway, let us move on to better things. Firstly, what was that last episode of Line of Duty all about? It just all felt so flat. I was one of the many disappointed fans. I can get that they were trying something different, but I don’t think it worked. Never mind, the rest of the series were amazing.

I also watched Shadow and Bone. I ‘ve never read the books, they are aimed at children (although that never puts me off, some children’s novels are amazing) and they were brought out well after I completed my childhood! 🙂 However, I did watch the series on Netflix and really enjoyed it. The first episode was a little meh for me, but I stuck with it and am glad I did. Ben Barnes (who as Prince Caspian in The Chronicles of Narnia) is still gorgeous and did a great job, as did the rest of the cast. I don’t want to go into it too much as I don’t want to spoil anything, but it is good.

Talking of good, anyone know when Carnival Row’s second series is coming out? I’ve now watched it about five times (something I rarely do) and I just love it.

Some of the cast from Shameless series 1.

Other tv I’ve been watching includes the UK (and better version) version of Shameless. I’m coming close the the end. There are 11 series and I’m halfway through series 10, and I’ve loved every minute of it. It’s funny, quirky, dirty and a damned good watch.

Reading – currently on my bed stand is still Babylon Berlin by Volker Kutscher. It is similar but different to the tv series (pictured), but very very good. I am halfway through it and thoroughly enjoying it.

What else have I been up to? Well, I’m continuing to write the script and I currently have a novel with beta readers. I’m a bit nervous about the latter, I really hope they enjoy it. Won’t be long till they’re back with their comments. Gulp. No matter how many books I write or how long I do this, I’m still worried that no-one will like my books. It’s the curse of the writer, I’m afraid!

Right, that’s me for this week. I’m actually focussing this entire week on my end of module assignment for my uni degree. But I’ve taken a break and snuck out to chat to you for a bit. Back to the grind.

Til next time,

Dawn xx

Two books down and Volker Kutscher

Hi everyone! How are you? Hope you’re all well. How’s your week been? Well, I’ve got a couple of exciting things to share.

Firstly, I finally finished editing my Sisters of Sin novel. It’s called Greed and is romantic suspense story about a female assassin. As it’s part of a series, it won’t be published until early next year, but I’ll keep you posted. I have another one to write – about an assassin code-named Envy – for the series and plan to start on it next week.

Secondly, my Paisley book is finished and, as part of it, I’m just about to draft up a short graphic novel depicting one of the historical facts from the book. Once I have some images to show you, I’ll do that. The illustrations are being done by my very good friend and fab illustrator, Mandy Sinclair.

It’s so nice to have some good news to share. Something different from the norm. It still feels like Groundhog Day, but at least now I’ve had my first vaccination, I can see a tiny speck of light at the end of the tunnel!

On to TV and film. Well, I have just finished binge watching Call the Midwife and thoroughly enjoyed it, although Barbara’s demise did leave me in tears. The thing I like about this series is that it’s gentle, you don’t have to concentrate too hard to enjoy it, and the styles and music are fantastic. It’s one of my guilty pleasures and I can’t wait for the new series which starts very soon.

On to books, I’ve been trying to read, but I’ve been so busy lately that I’m shattered by the time I crawl into bed and switch the light out. I normally go up at 9pm and read for a while, but I’ve been going up at the same time and going to sleep.   I’ve had a couple of extra clients for my business plus I had to complete an assignment for university, so that’s probably why.

I have got a book to start which is Babylon Berlin by Volker Kutscher. I really LOVE LOVE LOVE the tv series, so wanted to read the books. Got the first one to start and I can’t wait.

I’m also reading Bruce Block’s ‘The Visual Story’ which is about creating the visual structure of film, tv and digital media. It’s useful to know this stuff for my scriptwriting, but it should also feed into my novel writing and maybe even other parts of my working life. Only just started it and am hooked already.

Right, so you are up-to-date on everything at the moment. I’m sorry I’ve not had much to tell you. It’s so difficult to be exciting about writing when most of it is hard slog. However, I’m getting there with my novels and have already started planning my next series – a steampunk, fantasy set in Victorian Glasgow. I’ll tell you more about that in the future, it’s way too early just now.

Til next time,

Dawn xxx

Resident Alien is my new favourite tv show

My new favourite tv show Resident Alien.

Do you ever have one of those weeks where no matter what you do you are always playing catch up with yourself? This week is one of those. And I hate it. I love it when you plan out your day or week (in my case) and it all gets done. However, my inability to get up early (ie at 7am) means I have been chasing my tail all week. Sigh. Never mind.

So, how has your week been? Hope it’s been a good one. I’ve been struggling to keep positive this week. I’m so fed up being stuck in. I yearn to go into Glasgow and meet a friend for lunch. It is a little thing, but I miss it. In saying that, I am extremely lucky. No-one in my family has been seriously ill with Coronavirus, no-one has died. I should be counting my blessings, but it is hard to keep on going.

However, I will. Onwards and upwards as they say.

This week, I have mostly been scriptwriting. I honestly thought this script would be done by now, but it’s nowhere near finished. It’s complicated. And exciting. And funny. And I really hope it gets made one day. If it never gets made, I’ve still learned a lot. I’ve learned more about storytelling, about not overwriting, about cinematic techniques. And it’s been really good fun. I’ll be back into it later today.

I’m still editing my Sisters of Sin book. I hope to have that finished for beta readers next week. In fact, I’m saying it now. I’m going to make sure it’s finished by Saturday next week. Not tomorrow, but a week away. Shit, I now have a deadline to keep.

I’ve finished binge watching Line of Duty and feel bereft. Really enjoyed it. But, oh joy, a new series starts soon.

Have you been watching Resident Alien? It’s on Sky 1 in the UK. It is brilliant. So funny. Really recommend it. It’s about an alien, played brilliantly by Alan Tudyk, who crash lands on Earth. He has to piece together his ship and find his weapon with which he’s been tasked to destroy the Earth with. However, those pesky humans keep coming into contact with him. He likes them. He’s getting emotions.  He’s having relationships with them.  Watch it, it’s brilliant especially the dialogue he has with young Max (Jason Maybaum) and his bestie, Sahar (Gracelyn Awad Rinke). TV perfection.

Right, that’s me for this week. Until next time,

Dawnxx

 

How Good is Line of Duty and Acting (Very Badly)

So, I’ve been channelling my inner actress this week as myself and my compadres work on our script.  We’ve been doing this for nearly a year now, but because of the complicated storyline it’s taken us this long to get this far. We’ve got a fair amount of work still to do, but we are getting there with the story. Anyway, part of our process is reading out the script as we work. That way we can pick up on any issues such as words and phrases that don’t sit well. Some of our characters are non-British which means attempts are made to do the accents. However, none of us are trained actors so the results are often hilarious. Can I just say I cannot do an Australian accent. Not. At. All.

So, how’s your week been? Same old same old? Just like everyone else. I really hope that we can get back to normal soon. I’m sure I’m echoing a lot of people when I say I just don’t think I can do another year of this lockdown. I understand why I have to do it and I stick to the rules, but I want to spend time with family and friends.

Anyway, the biggest event of the past couple of weeks is that I took my son for an eye test. We live in a village, so I took him to one of the nearby town’s for it. It was the highlight of the week, I’m afraid to say. 🙂

Another highlight – and I don’t know why I’ve taken so long to do this – is I’ve finally gotten round to watching Line of Duty. OH. MY. GOD. It’s so gooooooood. So well written, directed, acted, everything. The beat points are perfect, the storylines race along and the twist and turns are inspired. Can I just say Keeley Hawes (who I have mentioned before and I am a bit of a fan of) is brilliant in series two and three. Creepy, but brilliant. Martin Compston (local boy), Vicky McLure (loved her in This is England), Adrian Dunbar and Craig Parkinson are great in it. I loved the character of Dot – he was so sneaky and slimy, but outwardly nice. Yep, I am chastising myself for leaving it so long to watch it. On the other hand, I am desperately trying to binge watch all the series before the new one begins – next week I think. Woohoooo!

So, what else have I been doing? I’ve edited up to and including chapter 14 of my Sisters of Sin novel. That should be finished by the end of next week and going off to Beta readers to read. BTW if anyone wants to be a beta reader for me and the rest of the authors doing this series, drop me an email: dawn@danelsonauthor.com     We’d love to get more people involved.

Reading – I haven’t managed to do a lot of that recently. Been concentrating on getting my uni course work done, so reading for pleasure has taken a bit of a back burner. However, I aim to get back to that soon.

Right, that’s me for now. I will check in again very soon. Til next time.

Dawn x

 

Ten Top Tips for Writers

Okay, so I’m thinking my blog is getting really dull due to me not doing very much. With that in mind, I’ve decided to try and make it more useful to other people who want to write. So, this week I’ve collated some top tips for people who want to be or who are writers.

Before that, a quick roundup of what’s been happening chez moi. Firstly, I’m getting new roof insulation put in today. My old insulation is shot to pieces, so it desperately needs replaced. I’m getting foamy spray stuff put on the inside of the roof. It’s non toxic and extremely good at insulating, but expensive. However, it’ll last for years and should cut my heating bills down, which would be good because it’s been snowy and freezing in Scotland for the past few weeks.

Secondly, I’ve started editing my Sisters of Sin novel. If you remember, I joined up with a group of international writers last  January/February with the intent of writing a book series together. However, the series hasn’t materialised yet due to the circumstances of the individuals within the group (lots of stuff has been going on) and the pandemic which side-swiped everyone (as it’s done for everyone else). The series was put on hold until now and it’s now we’re starting to pull it together with the intention of getting it out next January. I’ll keep you updated. It’s good to be getting back into writing. I’ve hardly been doing anything recently, just didn’t feel like it.

Thirdly, before I forget, how are you? Hope you’re all well. We’re find here, thank goodness, but getting a little stir crazy. The whole of the UK is still in lockdown again, which isn’t great, but it is what it is.

Fourth and final before we move on: did anyone watch It’s A Sin?? It was written by Russell T Davies – who is my favourite tv scriptwriter – and is set in the 1980s. It’s about a group of young gay men and their female flatmate and the impact of the AIDS epidemic. It sounds like it should be an horrific storyline, and it is harrowing and heart-breaking at times, but it’s such a good series. I highly recommend it. Plus the soundtrack (all 80s pop songs) is amazing – am hoping they put it out as a soundtrack you can buy! I’d forgotten how terrifying it was (as a heterosexual woman) when we were told about HIV and AIDS, so I can’t imagine what it was like for gay men at the time who were losing friends or dying of it themselves. I know there are still stigmas  attached to people with HIV and AIDS and prejudices against the LGBT population by some areas of society. However, I am so pleased we are not back where we were in the 80s. What happened then in terms of prejudice and hatred and fear was horrible. Anyway, watch the series, it’s amazing.

Right, now I’m going to go on to the writerly part of this blog post. Hold on to your hat!

  1. Carry a notebook and pen with you wherever you go so when inspiration/ideas strike you’ve got something to write them down in. You can also use your mobile to note down thoughts either as a note or as an audio piece.
  2. Write every day – set apart a time every day, even ten minutes, and write down something. Anything. This will get you into the habit of writing. It will also allow you to practise and develop your writing voice.
  3. Plan your writing – I know there are people out there who like to pants it (ie just write without planning) and I applaud those who can do that. However, I find that I can write every day and stick to a writing schedule if I have planned out what I’m going to say. You can plan your entire book or plan each chapter as you go. It’s up to you.
  4. Read, read, read – people ask me what’s the best way of learning how to write and I will always say read. That’s for fiction or non-fiction. I believe the only way of learning how to write well is to read exceptional writing. Then putting it into practise. Read everything: newspapers, magazines, online articles, short stories, poetry, fiction etc.
  5. On the subject of improving your writerly knowledge, research writing. There are lots of excellent blogs out there full of great tips and, seeing as how you’re reading everything anyway, why not read some of the great books on writing? My favourites include Stephen King’s On Writing, The Writing Gals, Craig Martelle, Save the Cat and  William Zinsser’s On Writing Well.
  6. If you are a fiction writer, write the story that you want to read. There’s no point trying to copy someone else. The best writing comes from a writer being passionate about their subject. The same holds true for non-fiction writers.
  7. Use strong words when writing. Passive, weak verbs make for weak prose. Instead of saying something was done to something (eg The girl had her hair done by the top stylist.) make is stronger by saying the person did the deed (The top stylist did her hair.)
  8. Don’t use cliches. Try to come up with  new ways of describing something.
  9. Get your story or text down and THEN go back and edit. And edit it some more. And edit it again. Don’t waste time by trying to get the perfect turn of phrase on your first go. Get the text down and then go back and zhoosh it up. 
  10. …believe in yourself. You can do it. So, what are you doing reading this blog? Get on with it!

Right, I am off to do more writing. Til next time!

Dawn x

 

 

 

A short post on a few things like watching telly and reading

This is going to be a rather short post this week because I have nothing that interesting to report. My week is like this: work, clean the house, do washing, walk the dogs, feed the kids and animals. And that’s about it. However, last week I did have a Zoom call with my American and Australian writer friends and we’re now about to finally launch into getting our SOS series written and out. We’re aiming to launch the series next January (I know, it’s ages away but the year will go in quickly). So, that’s exciting.

I’ve finished reading my Dorothy L Sayers book and it was okay. I can’t say it was excellent, but it won’t put me off reading another Lord Wimsey story. I guessed who the baddie was halfway through the book and why he had done it. Tonight I’m going to re-read the first Harry Potter. Haven’t read the books for years and I love immersing myself in that world.

The images today have no specific link, but are images I found on Canva that I like so I thought what the hell and used them. It’s miserable outside here in Scotland: icy cold winds and rain. Some parts have snow. Not here, we’re in the lowlands so we don’t get a lot of snow. Anyway, me and the boy took the dogs out to the park today and didn’t stay long it was that cold.

I like the photo above. It reminds me of watching The Borgias. Loved that show.

So, telly hasn’t improved much. I’ve taken to downloading history programmes off the BBC iplayer. I’ve seen some of them before, but they are interesting to watch none-the-less. Started watching Twist on Netflix the other day. Meh.  I prefer earlier versions of it including the musical, Oliver. I love Dickens’ books and Oliver Twist is one of his best. This modern adaption didn’t not grab me at all, so I stopped watching after ten or 15 minutes. Not wasting any more time on it. Have you seen it? What did you think?

Still watching Finding Alice and still don’t know if if I like it or not. I’m giving it one more episode and if it doesn’t improve am gong to ditch it. Was talking to a friend on Zoom about it yesterday and she said the same thing.

 

Am finishing with an image of a castle. It’s Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. One day I will go there.

Right, am finishing up now. Told you this would be a short post. Until next time (and hopefully I’ll have something more interesting to say).

Dawn xx

Nothing new to report…sigh

Royal Exchange Square – stunning at night. We were here today wasting time before the appointment.

I would love to be coming to you today to tell you about all the exciting things I’ve been doing since I last wrote a blog. However, like everyone else I have been stuck inside at home, working, doing housework and moaning about the rubbish things that are on the telly.

The most exciting thing I’ve done recently is take my daughter for an orthodontic appointment in Glasgow. We went this morning (it’s the first time I’ve been in Glasgow since last February, been avoiding it like the plague due to the Covid levels) and I was actually surprised how busy the city is. It’s not as busy as it is in normal times, but there are quite a lot of people walking in the streets or driving its streets. The other thing I noticed is the number of people not wearing the masks correctly. I shall say this only once: WEAR YOUR MASK OVER YOUR MOUTH AND NOSE YOU IDIOTS!! Anyway, we just went to our appointment and then went back home. I’ve spent the afternoon doing social media and watching the second part of Finding Alice.

Keely Hawes in Finding Alice

Talking of Finding Alice, I can’t make up my mind whether I am enjoying it or not.  The storyline is a bit close to home in the respect of the main character’s husband dies prematurely following an accident. As you may or may not know, my beloved and much missed husband died aged 52 of cancer nearly five years ago. I was a bit worried watching this might bring back too many painful memories, but that side of things has been fine. I just don’t know if it’s supposed to be a thriller or a dark comedy (there are comedic bits to it – maybe it’s just my weird sense of humour!) or something else. Anyway, I love Keely Hawse, she’s usually is superb programmes so I’m sticking with it to see how it ends.

Currently reading: Dorothy L Sayers’ Whose Body? It’s a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery and I’m enjoying it. I tried her books before and didn’t enjoy the one I read, but this is good.

Currently watching: apart from Finding Alice, my series of choice at the moment is the UK version of Shameless. So funny.

Right, I’m going to say cheerio right now. Got dinner to make, hungry dogs to feed and then I’m putting my feet up. Til next time.

Dawn xx

Books, walks and a very tired pug

Because life has been so bloody awful recently what with the pandemic and what’s been going on with America, I’ve decided to cheer us all up with some exotic images and blue skies. You are welcome.

So, how have you been? What have you been up to? I can’t say I’ve been doing anything different recently.  Just working away as usual, staying home and avoiding people. I can’t believe we’re still in this position nearly a year on. Anyway, there’s no point in moaning about it because it won’t change things.

Here’s a nice pic to cheer us up some more…

I’ve been watching a South Korean historical comedy drama called Hwarang. The reason why we’ve been watching it is because a member of BTS is in it and the girl loves BTS. I thought it would be rubbish, but it’s actually good and highly addictive. There’s a helluva lot of crying in it, but apart from that I’ve been enjoying it.

Started watching Finding Alice. First episode: pretty good, lots to think about and wonder about. Looking forward to the next episode.

Reading: I’ve been reading India Knight’s The Thrift Book. Read this years ago and enjoyed it then. Really enjoying it again. It’s like reading it for the first time again. Am reading it as I’m trying to be greener and to further cut down on food waste.

This week I’m intending to give baking bagels a go. My mum has sent me a recipe which I’m dying to make. Will share the outcome with you.

Am just about to take the dogs out for a walk, so speak to you when I come back.

It is now 3.30pm and me and girl took our three dogs out for a walk down the riverside and along to the park. We intended to be out for half an hour. An hour-and-a-half later, we’re back. We met a lot of people I know who are other dog walkers so we stopped to have a socially distanced chat with them all. It was lovely to have contact with humans who are not my family members. And it was nice to catch up. The dogs too met quite a few other dogs who are their friends. Yes, dogs have friends too. So, had a bit of a run around with them. It was lovely. The three dogs – we took Bonya our elderly pug with us, I don’t normally, but she was so exhausted – are now sleeping, curled up in cosy wee balls. Except Bon, who is unable to curl up and lies on her front for sleeping. I don’t normally walk her as she’s older (we’re not sure how old) and doesn’t cope well with walks. She’s enthusiastic for all of five minutes and then you have to drag her. We have a large garden for her to run around in so she’s not missing out on exercise if I don’t take her. Not that she’s an excitable, run-around-crazy type dog anyway. Her favourite thing, after eating, is sleeping. I don’t even have to look at her to know she’s asleep now. That’ll be her shattered for a few days.

Right, I am going to finish up here and bid you adieu. Until next time!

Dawn x

Dogs, Chickens and 1920s Actresses

So, it’s been a couple of months since I last wrote a blog and that’s because November and December were pretty busy what with various birthdays and Christmas to organise. Not that we saw anyone over Christmas – my entire family stayed at home in their separate houses. We saw each other on Christmas Day via Zoom, but apart from that we didn’t get together.  I also had a lot of work on before Christmas and had a chicken pen to erect which took a lot longer than I imagined (more on that soon).

Anyway, sorry for not being around. It’s been a weird time recently what with the pandemic, Brexit and what’s been going on in America with people storming the Capitol building.  But, I’m not going to talk about either because they are just too depressing, so I’m going to start this blog off with something funny. Here’s some great animal videos I got on YouTube:

So, how are you all? Hope you’re well. Hmmm let’s see what’s been happening? Well, due to the pandemic I have not been going out. We’re now in total lockdown in Scotland, which means we can only go out for vital things (such as food and exercise).  Even before this lockdown, I was pretty much staying close to home anyway. I have been taking the dogs out for walks though and it’s been lovely to speak to other dog walkers (socially distanced of course) along the way. The dogs have been a Godsend in this pandemic. They are just so full of joi de vivre and ours are such cuddly, loving wee munchkins that they’ve made being stuck inside more bearable.

Red chicken

 

I do still have the aforementioned chickens who have not laid an egg since October (gurn – I miss their eggs, they were gorgeous), so are not pulling their weight!! Ha hahaha. I’ve bought them a bigger, walk-in pen for two reasons: firstly, I had to get them under cover as there’s Bird Flu about and it’s the law that your domestic fowl have to be kept away from wild birds.  They are not enjoying being incarcerated, but there’s nothing I can do about that. They’re original pen was too small, so I bought and constructed a new one. It’s much better, they have far more room.

Secondly, I was thinking about doing it anyway. They had been free range, but they cause chaos in the garden. I can’t plant anything as they eat anything that resembles tasty greens and they make a mess. So, into the pen they went and that’s where they’ll stay.

For the first time, I created and sold a calendar on Etsy. My Amazing Actresses of the 1920s and 1930s was packed full of beautiful black and white images of famous actresses of the time. And they are selling quickly. More coming soon. If you are looking for a calendar and fancy this one, buy it here: Amazing Actresses of the 1920s and 1920s Calendar 2021 | Etsy     

I’m definitely going to do them again for the end of this year along with some other ones. Watch this space for more details!

What else have I been doing? Been back knitting for my Etsy shop. This time it’s vintage tea cosies. Will get those up for sale soon.

Books

Books I have been reading include Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Lady Anne Glenconner. It wasn’t as good as I had hoped. Although, in saying that I don’t know what I expected it to be like. It was nicely written and a great account of Anne Glenconner’s life as Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret, the wife of Colin Glenconner and as a mother of five. She had a lot of good times and some tragedy, but this is not the tell all I’d expected. There aren’t any truly juicy stories, which I’m sure she knows a lot of, but was still relatively interesting.

I’ve started back reading the Harry Potter series and here’s why: my interest in rereading them started up again through watching the entire film series with my daughter. We’ve only just today finished watching them. I really like the films, but the books are SOOOOO much better. So, will be starting The Philosopher’s Stone tonight. For films, we’re starting on the Star Wars franchise.

TV

TV over Christmas wasn’t great. There were  A LOT of reruns. However, I did watch a few things that I really enjoyed including the All Creatures Great and Small Christmas special, Bridgerton (wow, the Duke – you know who I mean ladies) and (oh joy!) the second series of A Discovery of Witches (which only came out on Friday and I’ve watched the entire series). I also watched The Alienist on Netflix and it was really good. If you like Victorian crime drama, The Alienist is for you.

Cooking

Other things I have been doing over the festive period include getting back into cooking again. And it’s been quite enjoyable. I lost my love of cooking around the same time as Ian becoming ill and never really regained it. But I started up again over Christmas and I’m enjoying it again, which is great. I’ve made various dishes – most of which my daughter has turned her nose up at – including a very lovely Chicken Korma curry at the request of my son. Weirdly, he did not eat it, but the girl did. So that was a sort of win.

Right, that’s all I’ve got to say today.  Going to feed the dogs and get the dinner on. It’s sausage and mash tonight…or should I make sausage and mash and Yorkshire pudding? Oh yes! The latter sounds great! Til next time.

Dawn xxx