My love affair with John Boyne and why I’m buying ethical chocolate from now on

Hello from rainy Scotland. Now today’s weather is more like what we normally have for summer. In case you weren’t aware, for the last couple of weeks we’ve been experiencing hot sunny weather…which was nice, but not normal. Global warming at its best. Today, it’s cooler and raining.

Anyway, how are you? Hope you’re well and have had a good couple of weeks. I’m currently nursing red eyes having peeled and chopped a large bag of onions this morning to put in the dehydrator (dehydrated onions are lovely rehydrated in soups, stews and sauces). Anyway, despite wearing onion goggles (yes those exist), the onions still managed to get into my eyes and I had to run out of the kitchen, blinded by tears, to the downstairs toilet so I could wash them out. Yes, I am looking adorable right now!! ūüėČ

My love affair with Irish author John Boyne continues. No, I’m not actually having an affair with him, I just love his books. I’m currently reading The Heart’s Invisible Furies and it’s an amazing book. I’m desperate to know how it ends, but I don’t want to finish it either. Sigh.

He’s the guy that wrote The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

I’ve never read that book nor seen the film as I know what happens in the end and I don’t think I could bear it. Anyway, this is my second John Boyne novel and I am now a lifelong fan. He’s a superb storyteller.

What else have I been up to? Well, I was going to cut our front hedge this morning. It’s a large hedge and desperately needs cutting, but the hedge cutter needs charging. I had actually charged it yesterday – or so I thought. What I had actually done was set it up to charge, but didn’t push the battery into the charger properly, so when I went to start up the hedge cutter, it was dead. Pan breid! So, the battery is back in the charger and I hope (fingers crossed) it’s charging. To my lovely neighbours: yes I know the hedge is a mess, I’m doing it tomorrow. Promise! It’s raining now anyway, so I can’t do it now.

I met up with a couple of friends last weekend for a late lunch. We ate at La Lanterna which is an Italian restaurant next to Central Station in Glasgow. The food was great (I had the mussels followed by lasagne) and the chat hilarious. The two ladies I met – Laurina and Carol – are friends of mind whom I used to work with. We’ve not seen each other for months due to the pandemic and it was great to catch up. We had a right laugh. Can’t wait to see you two again sometime soon.

Glasgow, by the way, was jumping. There were so many people in Buchanan Street (I had to walk down it to get from Queen Street station where my train comes in to Central Station) was heaving. It was so bad, I put my mask back on just to get through it. A few other people did the same, but basically it was back to a normal type Saturday afternoon for everyone else. I’m still concerned about Covid, so I’m still doing my best to socially distance from others particularly in a crowd. What was nice, though, was seeing how happy everyone looked. Just hope this is us on the final stretch back to normality.

I’ve been doing a lot of research over the past week for¬† my Sisters of Sin second novel, Envy. I want to do something on the impact of business on the environment and, when looking into it, discovered to my horror how bad the chocolate industry is. There are people, children, working on African cocoa farms who are basically slaves. This is going to be one of my themes for this novel. I had no idea things were still so bad. And the cocoa is bought by large companies whom we all know and love. I’m going to¬† buy ethical chocolate in future. I can’t keep buying chocolate that’s been harvested by people in forced labour. It’s just not right. Here’s a Washington Post article on it from December last year if you’re interested in finding out more.

Okay, so that’s me for this week. I’m off for another cup of tea and maybe a wee biscuit. Hmmmm. Til next week.

Dawn xx

Storming ahead with writing

Hello and how are you all? Hope you are well. What’s been happening in your world lately? I’ve been enjoying the great weather we’ve been having. I even enjoyed the torrential rain we had earlier…my garden needs it.

Talking of the garden, I have been doing a lot of work in it. I cut the hedge, mowed the lawn and weeded the front garden. I planted some flowers in pots at my front door. I lopped a few branches off a few trees. Yes I have been a busy little bee this week.

I also finished my first draft of my latest book (it’s currently sitting at 75,000 words…the biggest book I have written to date) and am at the planning stage of a sequel for Dusting Down Alcudia.

Yes, I’ve been quite productive this week.

I’ve also set up a new author page on Facebook, which I will share with you on this site and my other, writers’ site, The Fiction Writers Friend Blog (still not sure about the name, but I wanted something that did what it said on the tin…if you catch my drift).

Other news and, well, there isn’t much other news. I have been so busy doing all the stuff I’ve listed that I haven’t had much time for anything else.

Oh, do you like the Monday takeover by Aldiss and Bertie? I hear they have another interview lined up – this time with Aldiss – on Monday.

Right, I am going  to do a wee bit more writing before bedtime. Til next time.

Dawn xx

Discovering Witches, Baking Cupcakes, Writing and Gardening

A Discovery of WitchesShadow of Night

Just finished reading Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness which is the second novel in the All Souls Trilogy. I can hardly wait for the third book, they are that good. It was my mum who put me on to them and I am so glad she did…they are fantastic. Full of adventure, romance, history, magic and more…everything I like in a good read. Would thoroughly recommend them. The story follows Diana Bishop, an historian and witch, who accidentally uncovers a powerful magical book in the Bodeleian Libray. It’s that discovery that leads her into a dangerous world where she comes up against other witches, vampires and daemons keen to get their hands on her and¬†the book. Shadow of the Night continues the story leading Diana back to Elizabethan England. I liked this book in particular for the accuracy throughout about real people of the time, ¬†costume, how people lived, what London looked like, what they ate etc. Deborah goes into great detail about various aspects of Elizabethan life that I loved. Yes, definitely both excellent reads.

So what’s been happening in your world? Everyone returned to work this week and Monday was full of folk groaning and moaning about: being back at work; what miserable weather it’s been; and how dark the winter is this year (dark in the sense that it feels like the day barely lights up at all some days due to the heaviness of the rain clouds). Today there’s been a bit of snow and sleet fall. The snow is lying on the hills surrounding the Clyde and Glasgow, but isn’t lying further down, which is good because – much as I love snow – I hate driving in it.

I’ve had a pretty busy week what with returning to work after the Christmas holidays (to thankfully few emails!) and getting back into the swing of things. The kids are now back in their routine. The boy has been exhausted this week. I forget just how young he is sometimes, but he’s pleased to be back at school – as am I! He and his sister are currently upstairs supposedly tidying their rooms, but I hear too much chatter going on between them for them to be truly tidying! We’ll see!

Been pushing on with my book for adults and I’m close to finishing the first draft. I’ve already edited the first half of the book, but will go back over the whole of the book to ensure it reads okay. I’m pleased with it, I now just need to find an agent who thinks the same thing. Am also going to look into self publishing it as an e-book. I have a¬† couple of friends I’m going to give copies¬† to read and give comments back, which will be useful.

On the DarkIsle 3 front – there is no new news at the moment. What I hope is the final draft is with my publisher just now and I’m just waiting to hear back from him.

Crafting – been a bit quiet on that front too. One of my sewing machines’ feeder dogs are broken and am currently awaiting our local sewing machine fixing man to come and collect it. Lord knows¬†how much that’s going to cost!! Am thinking of finishing that sock I began knitting myself this time last year…hmmm.

Baking Рmy friend Tracy gave me lovely cupcake cases with excerpts from renaissance paintings printed on them. Used them for the first time on Friday.  I baked around 40 small cupcakes. They are now all gone bar one that was saved for hubby. My kids (and me) are proper cake lovers!

Gardening – have gone through my seed catalogue and chosen the seeds I want to buy. Just need to be paid again before I can purchase them! Was out in the garden yesterday weeding the front (the weeds are tenacious there), bin-bagging cat poo from our neighbours’ manky black cats (grrrrr) – I will purchase cat repellent this week, and turning over my veg garden (we put leaves from our garden on the veg plot to rot down).

That’s it from the DarkIsle household this week: nothing exciting, just a normal quiet life which is just how I like it!

Until next time!

Dawn xxx