Plums, Miss Lister and Elizabeth Gaskell

Look at this small haul of beauties. Picked these from one of my plum trees this year. A plum tree – one of two – which was ‘cut back’ more than a decade ago by my late husband who had no clue what he was doing. It’s taken them all this time to recover. And I think tree number two has not produced any fruit. Anyway, I’ve picked this lot and hope to get some more. Need to take the step ladders out to get up to the higher branches, but I’ll do that tomorrow. This is a start.

And what do I plan to do with them? Make plum jam again. Last year, my friend Jane gave myself and our other friend, Tracy, a huge amount of plums from the trees in her sister’s garden. I made them into jam and it was delicious. I couldn’t get enough of it. So am hoping for more plums from that source again (if that’s okay, Jane!) and will add them to my small haul. Will share the results once the jam is made.

So, how are you this week? Fine and dandy I hope?? Hopefully, if you’ve been reading this blog you’ll know that I’ve finally finished editing my latest in the Nina Esposito series. The Jacobite’s Share is the sequel to Dusting Down Alcudi and is set in Perthshire, Scotland. It features our favourite archaeologist and treasure hunter, Nina, her sexy beau, Jay and a whole host of other great characters. There’s an ancient castle, attempted murder and a whole lot more. I am aiming to get the book out early next year, so watch this space!

What else has been going on?

Finally finished the above book. It was really interesting and Anne’s personality shone right through it. However, I was a bit sad that it ended before she met Ann Walker, whom she went abroad with. Would love to read those diaries especially as the TV series is based on her later life with Ann. Still it gives a lovely glimpse into her life in Georgian England and all the manners and expectations someone of her class had.

She lived most of her life in Halifax, which is just over ten miles away from Haworth, home of the Brontes. It is unlikely they ever met. I believe the Brontes would have been too far down in terms of class for Miss Lister, who was keenly aware of whom she should be consorting with.

The Brontes did not print their first book until 1846 (a book of poems by all three), which is some six years after she died. And then Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey came out the following year catapulting these young women to literary stardom. It saddens me that Anne Lister never got to read these amazing books and I would have loved to have read what she thought of them. She was a keen reader and was keen to learn at every opportunity.

Anne Lister.

Anne Lister died at the age of 49 in what is now the modern country of Georgia, with her ‘wife’ Ann Walker at her side. Her body was brought back to Halifax in April 1841 where it was interred within the church.

I feel quite sad that I have finished it now. Oh well, on to my next book which will be Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, who did know the Brontes. Charlotte Bronte was a particular friend of hers. Elizabeth also knew Charles Dickens. Anyway, having enjoyed the TV adaptation of it, I cannot wait to start the book.

So, what else have I been up to? Well, I’ve been forging ahead with setting up my small PR and social media marketing business and hopefully have more jobs coming up. My OU course starts soon, but I’m going to get a head start on it by beginning this week (cannot wait!). I am in the process of writing another stand alone book about the havoc a genie wreaks on an unsuspecting young man. I have a murder book to edit and a young adult book to go over again.

On top of that, I’m busy trying to get the garden in order. The weather has been dry enough and cool enough for me to work on it. However, as I have a back that hurts at every opportunity, I have decided the best way to tackle the garden is by doing a bit every day. And it’s been quite enjoyable except for the fact that Millie keeps trying to escape into the neighbour’s garden due to a hole in the fence made by some stupid young guys cutting down some branches for me. Humph.They knocked some slats off and didn’t even tell me. I only found out about the hole when I heard Millie’s plaintive yelp coming from my neighbour’s garden. Being a small, quick dog she was impossible to catch. We got her eventually. Sigh. Won’t be getting those guys in to do the branches again.

Right, I am going to finish up here and wish you all adieu until next time.

Dawn xxx

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New book title reveal!

Best news ever this week! Myself and the lovely Graham, my editor, have finished the final edits of the new book.

And now I can reveal its name!

The Jacobite’s Share is the latest Nina Esposito adventure and sees our heroine heading home to Scotland to search for a hidden Jacobite treasure as a would-be murderer is at large. The action takes place in and around Dundow Castle in Perthshire and features our favourite archaeologist, Nina, her lover Jay and a cast of new characters.

I am just working on formatting it just now – I literally just finished for the night – and will be getting back in touch with Mia, my book cover designer, to do the next cover. Cannot wait!

In other news, I have finally learned how to make proper tablet. Tablet, for my non Scottish readers, is a very sweet treat made from sugar, milk, butter and condensed milk. It’s incredibly good and very, very bad for you. Put it this way, there’s so much sugar in it, your teeth vibrate when you’re eating it! It’s delicious and can be a bit tricky to make, but I managed it!! Whoohoo!

tablet…yum!

Finally about to finish the biography of Miss Anne Lister. It’s not the book. I am really enjoying it. It’s been several nights of not reading because I’ve been too tired interlaced with evenings when I’ve been binge reading M C Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series. They are quick reads and highly enjoyable. And funny. Next on my list is Elizabeth Gaskill’s Cranford.

This week has been very busy as I’ve been working on building my social media marketing business and formatting The Jacobite’s Share. I’ve really enjoyed networking and meeting other folk in small businesses. Have also signed up for a number of free training courses run by our local Business Gateway. Got a few coming up in the next couple of months, so that should be good.

Right, am finishing up now. Got a book on SEO optimisation to look at. Til next time.

Dawn xx

A short and concise post

This is how I feel right now… zzzzzzz

I had great plans to write an amazing post this week detailing everything that’s been going on at Nelson Towers this week. However, I find myself slumping with exhaustion cos it’s been one of those weeks that have past by in a whirlwind of ‘things I must do or attend’. I swear to God, I’ve not had a minute!

Give me a couple of days and I’ll write a longer post. Promise.

Dawnxxx

Writerly tips #1 – Ideas and Inspiration

thinking

Okay, so I thought I’d share a few writing tips every now and then in the is blog… just in case you might be interested. The first subject we’ll be looking at in terms of writing a novel is: where do you get your ideas and inspiration?

Put quite simply, you get your ideas from everywhere. Here’s what I mean – have you ever found yourself sitting on a bench outside just watching the world go by? Have you watched people as they go about their day-to-day lives? Have you ever wondered about them? Who they are? What they do? If you’re answering yes to most of these, you are well on your way to coming up with an idea.

Look at the man over there and take in how he looks and the way he carries himself. Say to yourself, what if this man was a baddy in a children’s story? What would he do and why?

Ask the questions: who, what, why, where, when and how? Who is he? Where is he from or where is he doing his deeds? Why is he here? What is he up to? When does it happen? And how is he going to do it?

Perhaps the man is an alien from another planet who is looking for something that’s been lost (who, where and why). Maybe he’s searching (what) and is wandering the city looking (how). Maybe he’s an evil genius or a mad scientist (who) who lives next door to your main character (where). He’s building a secret weapon (what) to take over the world (why) because he was bullied at school (why). He’s doing it by stealing children’s trampolines and using the metal to create a weapon (how).

Observation of people (and animals) isn’t the only way you can gain inspiration for a story. You can get ideas from real life (a story of divorce, a child experiencing war, bullying at school or work); history (the story of a chimney sweep or someone working in a mill); a painting, photograph or picture; or the press and  media (perhaps a story that appeared in the news inspires you).

Maybe there’s an author whom you particularly admire and would like to write something similar? Don’t copy but be inspired. Maybe you like Jane Austen, perhaps you could write up from a child’s point of view living in Georgian Britain.

One of my favourite places to get ideas is in my own head. I love to daydream. Of course, having a busy life with many demands makes daydreaming difficult, but there are ways of slotting it in…looking out of the window on the train or bus as you go into work, having a little dream whilst waiting in the line for your coffee, thinking about daft stuff whilst making the dinner.

Often I find the strangest ideas crop up when I least expect them: in meetings at work or in that drowsy lovely time just before I nod off to sleep.

Don’t forget to note down your sleep dreams too! They can often be so weird they are perfect for a great tale. Remember when I said keep your ideas book beside you at all times, this includes having it beside the bed so that you can jot down your dreams before you forget them? Even just fragments of a dream can trigger a story idea.

Perhaps something quite ordinary happens that you can turn into a storyline. How do you do this? Give it a twist! Ask yourself ‘what if?’  Here’s an example of what I mean: maybe your main character is walking down the street going to the shops for his or her mother and a car draws up. The door opens and instead of a human being, it’s a monster/alien who grabs the main character and runs off with them.

Maybe an adult is ironing and the iron suddenly comes to life and attacks. The dog, previously just a normal animal, gets up on to two legs, pulls out a laser gun from nowhere and stops the iron in its tracks. Give it a twist and see where it takes you.

Overhead conversations or mispronounced words are just ripe for turning into a story. Perhaps it’s a character’s name (does anyone remember a cartoon called Kissyfur when they were growing up? It was called that because the main character, a little bear called Christopher, couldn’t pronounce his name properly) or the conversation is only half heard and you can make up your own ending.

Still stuck? Write from a lie. Start your story with something like ‘I can fly’ or ‘I am queen of the world’ or ‘my mum is an alien’ and take it from there. Write down the first word that comes into your head. Write another, then another and build your story.

Jot down a simple sentence – The man walked down the street whistling a tune – and twist it up by changing some of the words – The goblin danced down the street licking an ice lolly.

This then leads to the questions:

•         who is the goblin?

•         where did he come from?

•         why is he here?

•         where did he get the ice lolly?

•         what happens next?

Remember: inspiration can strike at any time. Write them down or lose them.

And don’t forget those important words: who, what, why, where, when and how? Who is that man hiding in the shadows? Where is he going? When will he get there? What will he do when he gets there? Why did he go there? How did he get there?

Add in: what if? What if he’s really an alien who’s been sent down to by his leader to scope out Earth and see if it will be easy to invade? What if he’s having second thoughts because he likes humans? What if your main character befriends this man and together they save the world?

Dawn xx