Short stories update

I had another session at the Meldrum Writers’ Club today and for it I wrote a lovely Christmassy story. I have added it under ‘my short stories’ in the tab at the top of the page. You can’t miss it, it’s called ‘Santa.’

Just in case you didn’t notice, I also added my story ‘The Curse’ there the week before. It’s a free interpretation of what happened to the slave ship ‘Trouvadore.’ I had some help from my good friend Bob Douglas for this as he is a far better sailor than I am (if you could ever call me that 🙂 ).

Get into the Christmas spirit and enjoy! In the mean time I’ll be diving into the books I promised all my author friends to read.

May your house be filled with laughter and your hearts filled with joy  <3 .

 

 

Writers’ Corner update 21/12/2016

Check out my Writers’ Corner update 21/12/2016!

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This week my favourite writers’ article is the one about The Art of Revision, mostly because I recognised so much of what was written there. There’s an article about that Story We Have To Write and one about Why You Keep Dating the Wrong People (according to science). Just in case you need a reason for your protagonist or another character to hang on to the wrong guy/girl.

In Focus on Filming I only have one new article: A Year in 360: Lessons from Shooting Spherical Video Across the Globe. Now I want a GoPro.

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And after reading the last article in Health Herald I will always ask for a female doctor when in hospital. It will give me a greater chance to survive. You should too!

Author Interview with Colin Garrow

A few weeks ago I met Colin Garrow at the foot of Bennachie (the iconic ‘hill’ of Aberdeenshire). Temperatures were freezing, but we had a pleasant walk and a hot coffee afterwards. We thought it would be a fun idea to interview each other and that’s what we did. You can find my answers to Colin’s questions on his web page. Here are Collin’s answers to my questions.

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You’ve mentioned in interviews that you wrote stories when you were young. Can you remember the very first story that you wrote? If yes, what was it about?

The first one I can remember writing was intended to be a novel. It was inspired by ‘2112’ (an album by Canadian rock band, Rush), and was a sort of sci-fi/caveman-type epic. By the time I got to the fourth page, I’d run out of ideas.

Instead of studying literature, like most people think writers do, you went to drama school. What part of drama school influenced your writing the most?

The course I did was more about community drama than acting, so we learned lots of things about running workshops, working with community groups and creative arts, as well as putting on a few plays. Working with other actors helped me to see what worked on stage and what didn’t, and the different styles of theatre (Brechtian, naturalistic, physical etc) all influenced what I went on to write, though it’s more difficult to say how that happened. Basically, my writing suddenly improved, so I can only attribute it to what I learned on the course.

You have written a number of books for children. Did you tell your child/children your own bedtime stories or did you stick to the published ones at the time?

I wouldn’t want to pressurise my son to read my work, though he has read a few chapters from a couple of my books. So, no, when we went through the story-at-bedtime bit, I stuck to books we liked, progressing from the likes of, ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’, to ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks.’

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In the Christie McKinnon stories, your protagonist is female. Why did you choose to write these stories from a female point of view?

The first two children’s novels I wrote had boys as the hero (though both had female sidekicks), so when I started on ‘The Hounds of Hellerby Hall’ I deliberately chose a girl (with a boy for a sidekick). It was also interesting to think about how she would react to the situations she found herself in and how she was influenced by her surroundings – changing attitudes to women etc. Nevertheless, she turned into more of a tomboy than I wanted her to be.

A lot of your stories are set in the past. This requires a lot more research (i.e. time) for writers. What exactly attracts you to write about ‘the olden days’?

Well, research is a matter of opinion – of course it’s possible to do masses of research, but I didn’t want my books to be packed with historical facts, throwing in historically-accurate descriptions just for the hell of it. I wanted just enough detail to give a sense of authenticity. With the ‘Maps of Time’ series, I read a couple of books, the best of which was, ‘Restoration London: Everyday Life in the 1660s’ by Lisa Pickard, as it has loads of info about food, money, jobs and housing. However, I think it’s easy to get bogged down in facts and I didn’t want to bore my readers, so unless I need specific information, I tend to just make it up!

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As to why I write historical fiction – I think it’s that I’ve always had a fascination with the past and how amazing it would be to go back and see what it was like. So I created worlds I hoped would come over as realistic.

Most of your stories are ‘whodunnits.’ Did you ever solve a mystery yourself?

Sadly no. Actually, I’m not at all perceptive and things that’d be really obvious to anyone else tend to go over my head. The only time I can solve mysteries is if when I invent them. (Although, to be fair, since I never know how they’re going to end, I still have to solve them – does that count?)

Besides a number of novels, you have also written a number of short stories and flash fiction. Do you prefer one above another and why?

Short stories are a great way of exploring an idea, so they’re useful exercises if I want to try different writing styles, or genres. I also like them because they force the writer to be concise, throwing away longer passages that might work well if it were a novel, but interrupt the flow in a short story.

I think generally I prefer novels, since they give me something substantial to work on, whereas if a short story isn’t working, I put it aside. At the moment, I’ve got about a dozen stories I’ve started but haven’t yet found interesting enough to finish.

Where/when/how do you get your inspiration for your stories?

In the past, I’ve tried writing exercises as a way of ‘discovering’ something to write about, but now I have a very specific way of working – I come up with a title and use that as inspiration. The first Christie McKinnon book was inspired by Joan Aiken’s ‘The Wolves of Willoughby Chase’, though it was specifically the title that inspired me, because I liked the alliteration and wanted a title of my own that sounded similar, hence ‘The Hounds of Hellerby Hall’. Once I had the title, I wrote the book to discover what had happened at the Hall and why there were hounds involved.

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With ‘Death on a Dirty Afternoon’ it was slightly different, because I also had a first line. In my book on writing, I’d come up with examples of first lines to show how they might be developed. One of them became the first line of the novel, so I had the title and the first line to inspire me. Other than that, it’s just a matter of writing until I get to the end.

 Is there a particular issue you prefer not to write about and, if so, why?

Not sure. I probably wouldn’t write, say, a political thriller, because I don’t know enough about politics to write intelligently on the subject. However, I think it’s important for writers to grow, so I wouldn’t rule anything out.

 If one of your books was chosen to put into a movie, which one would you choose and why?

It would have to be ‘The Architect’s Apprentice’, just because it would be brilliant to see the streets and houses recreated.

What is the ‘most unknown book’ you’ve read that influenced you as a person (not necessarily as a writer)?

I couldn’t tell you the title, since it’s long since vanished into the rubbish tip of my mind, but it was a book I read dozens of times as a kid. It was about a little boy whose dad is missing in Africa, so the boy builds an aeroplane out of bits of junk and flies to Africa to rescue him. It was a lovely book and I still think about it today.

What was the best advice regarding writing you ever received?

It has to be Stephen King’s words of wisdom on the two things you have to do to be a writer:

  1. Read a lot.
  2. Write a lot.

You can find all of Colin’s books here.

A life or death situation

About two weeks ago I read on Facebook that somebody’s friend had died of asthma. I remember thinking ‘do people still die of asthma?’ Apparently they do. My daughter has asthma. Not severely, thankfully, but when she gets a cold, she gets it extra bad and needs to use her inhaler. Again, she’s doesn’t get it as bad as some people do, but enough to worry you as a mother.

Last weekend I went back to Holland to visit my family as my sister turned fifty and her husband had a retirement party. My Mum and I met my sister for lunch and found out she just came from the breast clinic where they found suspicious lumps in her breast. She needs to have more tests done and will hear the results a week later. That means a whole week in anxiety for her (and us). Both my sister and Mum were coughing from the other side of the lunch table as they apparently had a ‘bad cold.’ As I was staying with my Mum for the weekend, I naturally picked up this ‘bad cold.’ It actually was a H1N1 flu strain and had me knocked down within a few days. A sore throat, headaches, snotty nose, muscle aches, vomiting, chills, and sweaty spells. I got the lot.

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I hadn’t had a cold in years and it knocked my off my socks, as a matter of speech next to literally, that I was so susceptible to it. I didn’t have any existing health issues, yet this tiny little thing had me crawling on hands and knees in no time. What would this bug do to people who do have health issues? People who’s immune system is compromised by an illness, elderly people, people with asthma? And then it hit me that it may kill my daughter.

I’m not so short sighted that I think that I can shield my daughter from any outside effects. But what if I’m the one that brings in the rot? What if I contaminate her with a bug that hospitalises her? As we will have no doctor close at hand over the Christmas holidays, I had another issue to deal with. Do I try my best not to contaminate her and keep my distance for a week until I’m no longer contagious or, suspecting that I can’t prevent contaminating her as we’re living in the same house, do I contaminate her asap in order to get it over and done with now we still have access to a healthcare professional? I felt I had become her judge, jury, and executioner. I had to decide whether I actively made her sick or not.

However, you don’t say to your child ‘come here because I want to cough in your face so you can get this horrible illness.’ There is always the chance that she doesn’t get ill at all. Maybe I was not as healthy as I thought. Maybe she had this flu strain before, when she had that awful asthma spell a few years ago in Australia (the strain did start in Australia in 2009). You try to think of all sorts of reasons not to make your child ill. You have got to keep weighing the pro’s against the con’s though. What if she finally picks this highly contagious bug up elsewhere and we haven’t got access to a doctor at short notice? Is it worth the risk? Of course not. So I try to cough as ‘accidentally’ as possible near her. Because I love her.

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Tomorrow is the day that my sister will hear her test results and the last day my daughter can safely show the signs of contamination. If my daughter has a sore throat, she will have a rough time ahead, but will be able to get the healthcare she’ll need. If not, I will have to keep my fingers crossed she won’t show any symptoms for another three weeks. For both a moment that could possibly decide their fate.

Writers’ Corner update 14/12/2016

Check out my Writers’ Corner update 14/12/2016!

I’ve been visiting my family in Holland last week and came down with the flu, but hope I still have enough interesting articles for you. For example, the one that has a cute animation running in the background of Stephen King Talking About the Power of Dreams or the one on the 5 Benefits of Writing Fiction Longhand Versus On A Computer.

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In Focus on Filming there’s a fun article on Superman’s Bulge. A more serious one is about the masterpiece that is the movie ‘The Big Sleep,’ with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. I had heard about the fantastic screenwriting of this movie before and have downloaded it from the internet. Unfortunately I still haven’t had the time to finish it, but the writing is indeed very powerful with a minimum of words.

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In Health Herald fiction seems to become reality with the HoloLens. Soon we don’t have to dig up bodies anymore 😀 . There also is an article that will keep me from doing a ‘shake’ diet from now on.

Movie Review: Belle

– Spoiler Alert! –

Score: 8/10

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Belle is the periodic drama story of Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the daughter of a Royal British Navy officer and a black woman. When her mother dies (Dido is then four years old), her father takes her to live with his uncle, William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, the Lord Chief Justice (played by Tom Wilkinson), and his wife, Elizabeth (played by Emily Watson), who live at Kenwood house, outside London. She grows up with her cousin, Lady Elizabeth Murray (played by Sarah Gadon) and they are as close as sisters.

The main axis of the story is the court case in which insurers refuse to pay out for slaves thrown overboard the ship Zong, presumably because they were diseased. An apprentice lawyer, John Davinier (played by Sam Reid), is vehemently against the maltreatment of slaves and the whole inhumanity of it. He is so stubborn in his fight against slavery that he loses his apprenticeship with Lord Mansfield.

Dido meets John during his initial stay at the house. At first they don’t get along very well. When both realise the other’s intentions, they fall for each other, but status keeps them apart.

As both girls, Dido and Elizabeth, come of age to marry, the two find themselves in want for a husband. However, Elizabeth’s father doesn’t acknowledge her as first born, promising his estate to his new wife’s son, leaving her penniless. When Dido’s father dies, he leaves her with a very generous inheritance, making her a good ‘catch,’ but the drawback is that she’s ‘black.’

The tension rises as the plot drives to the pivot point where Lord Mansfield needs to make up his mind whether he keeps the status quo or changes the world.

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The painting of Dido and Elizabeth. It’s hanging in Scone Palace, Scotland.

I must admit I didn’t think I was going to like this movie, but it had me in tears. The love between John Divinier and Dido was portrayed beautifully. Even though the story is old (it plays in 1783, years before slavery is abolished in the British Empire in 1807), the drive of it is still valid, now more than ever. We can change the world as long as we are willing to make a difference and stand up for our believes. No person is less valuable than others (George Orwell’s Animal Farm comes to mind) and love shouldn’t be held back by status.

What I thought strange was that they chose ‘Belle’ as the title, even though throughout the whole movie she is called Dido. Possibly they wanted to prevent a confusion with the singer’s name. The costumes were beautiful, the locations magnificent, the music very well chosen. I loved the language they spoke, the old English is so very romantic.

I liked the movie because it is a true, albeit romanticised, story of love and perseverance. Writer Misan Sagay and director Amma Asante did a marvellous job. You can watch this one with your kids (no handky panky at all in this one, only one suggested move) and have a good discussion afterwards about ‘ownership’ of other human beings (and by this I mean not only slaves, but also women as wives) and about love between people of different rank and race. There are quite a few characters who’s actions and words can be discussed.

I wanted to give it a 9/10 score, but I’d have liked to see a bit more action in it for that, so 8/10 it is 🙂 .

Writers’ Corner update 07/12/2016

Check out my Writers’ Corner update 07/12/2016!

This week features an article on The Sweet, Savage Sexual Revolution. It’s a bit long, but the message is clear: women are trying to find their sexual identity themselves. Something that isn’t easy in this men’s world. The search has been going on for years and the end is not in sight yet, but we’re getting closer little by little.

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There’s also an article on 10 Top Punctuation Problems, but most of them are no problem at all if you’ve been reading my blogs on that crucial comma 🙂 .

Another interesting article explores the new phenomenon of teenagers ‘reading books’ via text message. I’ve tried the same not so long ago for the story of my book on Twitter (@DahlhausJacky), obviously in a very concise format. I haven’t had a lot of replies, just a few retweets, so I’m not sure if it’s working. I must admit most of my Twitter followers are authors themselves, not so much readers. I also didn’t have a specific time that readers could follow, so still some improvements to be made here.

In Focus on Filming there was a favourite again this week: How to do that Slo-Mo ‘Matrix’ Bullet Time Effect on a Budget. Can’t wait to try that one out myself with Aberdeenshire Film Productions.

I liked the article of today on Female Filmmakers Storming AACTAs Red Carpet in Sausage Suits to Protest Lack of Women representation. Another example of it being a men’s world, where rules only apply when it suits them.

sausageHealth Herald has some positive articles on how, in the future, we possibly can prevent Parkinson’s Disease, Treat Horrible Genetic Disorders, and make infertile women fertile again.

Glasgow Winterland Book Signing

#2DaysToGo
#Sale
Are you looking for something to do with the family on Saturday?

With 2 days left before the big event, we have a HUGE reduction on ticket sales. Grab your tickets now while they are so LOW.

Adults – £4.50
Kids. – £1.50

Tickets are available to purchase on eventbrite and from our page or by Kelly or Suzie.

#Sale

#BlackFridaySale

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

Have you seen what we have coming on 3rd December 2016? We have a multi genre book signing event coming to Glasgow. 37 authors from all over the UK will be landing in Glasgow, to help us raise funds for Clyde Cash For Kids. #ClydeCashForKids

We have an action packed day for all the family.

Make sure you have your tickets. Order via eventbrite or via our page. There will be some tickets available on the door, but we can’t guarantee a lot. It is best to order your tickets before hand.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/winterland-glasgow-book-sign…

VENUE – The Renfield Centre, Bath Street, Glasgow

ADULTS FUN

*10am-11am – Self publishing workshop run by Kim Mcleod @ Indie Author World.

*11am – Doors will open to the main event

11am – 11:45am – We have a panel of authors that write Crime/Horror books
Authors include
*Iain Parke
*Sinclair Mcleod
*Terry H Watson

*12pm-12:45pm – We have a panel of authors that write Romance Books
Authors include

*Caroline Easton
*KL Shandwick
*Lisa J Hobman
*SJ Malloy
*Tracie Podger

*1pm-1-30pm – We have Author Alison Spencer running her Change of Career Workshop

*2pm-2:45pm – We have a panel of authors that write Paranormal books
Authors include
*AK Michaels
*Em Taylor
*Helen Whapshott
*Jacky Dahlhaus
*Katie John

*3pm-3:45pm – We have a panel of authors that write Children & Y/A books
Authors include
*Ela Lourenco
*Sheila King
*Vicki Kinnaird
*Stuart Reid
*MJ Rutter
*Claire Miller

*Doors close at 4pm

If you have ever wanted to ask an author a question now is your chance. Don’t be shy, come along and get to know all the authors and discover your next great read.

KIDS FUN

Over in our kids room we are still working on this at the moment. However, we do have Stuart Reid in to do his acts with the kids. He has several short acts that he is going to do through out the day. We also have the lovely Ela Lourenco that will be there throughout the day with her creative workshop for children and young adults. This will also include a story session by Ela. We also plan on having a Santa and other things in there to keep the momentum going throughout the day.

TICKET PRICES

Adults – £7:50
Kids – £3 (14 and under)

***ALL ticket holders will be entered into a prize draw on the day for a KINDLE FIRE.

We also have a mega raffle . We have prizes galore donated from authors, shops, football clubs, publishers etc etc….all money raised from this raffle will be donated to Clyde Cash For Kids.

A few of our authors have also got something fun going on at their table to raise money for the charity. 😀

We hope to see many of you there to help us make it a day to remember. 💙💝??

#Winterlandbooksigning2016 #Glasgow #ClydeCashForKids #books #Authors
#events #Christmas #

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