Animals, Blog, Equestrian, Horse Riding, Writing

Eira Diaries – Post #2

Hellooo! Welcome to the second post in the ‘Eira Diaries’ series 🙂

So, it has been waaayyy over a month since I last wrote about the adventures of my beautiful pony, and the reason for that is our distinct lack of adventure over the last few weeks. But I’ll get to that in a minute…

At long last, I discovered a gorgeous saddle that fits Eira perfectly. She’s so comfortable in the saddle, that we were actually able to enjoy hacking without napping! And we managed to go for a ride out with Kara for the first time ever, which reminded me why I work so hard and go without a heck of a lot to pay for Eira’s lavish lifestyle; I realised how much I’ve missed being in the saddle, and Eira was delighted to be getting out and about again 🙂

Our schooling sessions were going superbly as well, and Eira finally seemed to feel comfortable as she worked in a lovely outline, showing off her floaty paces and seamless upward transitions.

Then, the weather couldn’t decide what it wanted to do, and switched from sunshine to rain and back again several times a day for a couple of weeks.

One especially sunny morning, I brought Eira in from the field and noticed that she was slightly uncomfortable on her right foreleg. I checked for a digital pulse (a tell-tale signal of laminitis), but couldn’t find one – and Eira was still able to put weight on her sore hoof without rocking back onto her heels, so I assumed it was an abscess.

Since Eira didn’t seem too uncomfortable at that point, I allowed her a couple of hours’ turnout the day after I noticed her minor discomfort – she seemed to improve slightly as I was leading her in. However, the following day, something definitely wasn’t right and both her hooves seemed uncomfortable. So, even though she was still putting weight on her hooves and there was no sign of a digital pulse in any of her legs, I created poultices and wrapped Eira’s hooves in vet wrap. We gave her a thick, fluffy, shavings bed while awaiting the farrier’s response to my attempts to contact him over the weekend.

By Monday, Eira hadn’t improved. The farrier visited and removed Eira’s shoes, which instantly caused her to portray ‘that’ stance. There was no denying that Eira had laminitis – a word dreaded by horse owners the world over. Despite our best efforts to avoid it, and the seeming lack of grass in her field, laminitis reared its ugly head for the second time in Eira’s life 🙁

This photo was taken on the first day Eira started to seem uncomfortable on one of her front hooves. As you can see, Eira developed a ‘crest’ overnight, thanks to the rain and sunshine causing a sudden rush of sugars in the grass of her field.

Eira was stuck in on complete box rest, until the farrier gave his permission for Eira to be walked in hand for a few minutes a day in her hoof boots (which protect the sensitive soles of her hooves from stony ground en route to the soft, spongy arena). Poor Eira hasn’t been able to enjoy much of the glorious sunshine we’ve been having, and hates that she’s now on a severely restricted diet of soaked hay. We’ve tried to brighten up her box rest experience by providing mini haynets dotted around the stable (which also prevents her from standing in one place all day) though she can’t enjoy her usual boredom-breaking toys, such as her Bizzy Bites toy, Likit, and Decahedron treat balls – and the poor girl can’t even enjoy apples and carrots in her haynet anymore. Eira is getting plenty of cuddles and lots of attention from everyone, however. And she’s enjoyed time out of her stable, being brushed and pampered on the rubber matting of the wash bay next to her barn. Though she’s not so keen on having a bath, it is the longest I’ve ever managed to keep her tied up!

We hope to update the Eira Diaries with exciting adventures in the very near future…

Though until Eira has recovered, we won’t be getting up to much unfortunately. I do, however, hope to write some product reviews at some point, so please check back soon 🙂

My Beautiful Eira © D.E. Kendall

Thank you for reading! <3

Best wishes,

Dannika & Eira

Adventure, Author, Book Publishing, Career, Creative, Teaching, Writing

End of an Era?

Hi Everyone, I’m sorry it’s been so long…

How are you? How have you found the last few months? I feel this post is all about me, so please share anything you’d like to celebrate about your own life in the comments!

TL;DR – A lengthy essay detailing recent happenings and life changes. Honestly, I’m not expecting you to want to read the entire post, it’s more for my own ‘journal of life experiences’, so in the future I can look back to appreciate how far I’ve come. If you do manage to read this entire blog post, congratulations! You now know more about what’s going on in my life than most of my own friends and relatives do 🙂

After four years of hard work, my BA (Hons) English Literature & Creative Writing with The Open University is complete! While I longed to achieve a First-Class degree, I may just miss out and am predicted a 2:1 classification – which I’m told is still pretty impressive, considering my status as a mature student who works full time and has a hectic home life. I hope that my experience will inspire others to embark on a degree, if it’s something they’ve always wanted to do, because if I can do it so can you 🙂

However, I have found the last few months – well, last few years if I’m being honest – overwhelming. My schedule has been so saturated with work that I’ve felt time slipping by uncontrollably. While I love writing, adore reading, and enjoy studying, I underestimated how much time would be taken working for myself as a ghostwriter while studying towards a degree full-time. I am still passionate about writing, though recently, I’ve been forced to reconsider my ambitions…

I’ve always been fascinated by education; the science behind it, learning processes, and the incredible opportunities brought about by collecting new skills. In fact, some of my favourite ghostwriting projects have been based in children’s literature.

As a teenager, while I was told by a few of my high school teachers – and high school careers advisor, and relatives, and friends, and basically anyone I discussed careers with – that I’d be a great primary school teacher, I toyed with the idea but never felt confident enough to pursue that career path. Initially, I was training to become a horse riding instructor and equine behaviourist, since – aside from writing books by myself, which, unfortunately, will never guarantee an income – being around horses was the only place I felt truly confident and comfortable. One painful hand injury, seven years, and countless trials in various career paths later, I cannot seem to shake that longing to be involved in the education sector.

Therefore, I re-considered becoming a primary school teacher and sought advice to that affect from wherever I could – I even work as a classroom assistant for a local tutoring company one to two evenings a week, to gain valuable teaching experience and refamiliarise myself with a classroom setting – yet still didn’t feel comfortable with the thought of managing a class of thirty unruly children by myself. My experiences working with young people have, however, reaffirmed that feeling that I should be working with them to make a difference for the better. But I kept wondering how could I possibly do that unless I became a teacher?

Luckily, my love of books led me to read the Guide to Writing for Children and YA, which I discovered in the hope of improving my craft as I work on my own YA sci-fi series. Within the pages of that invaluable book, I learned of an entirely new realm of children’s literature – and it has opened my eyes to the possibilities available to me in the world of educational publishing! I intend to pursue work in a school (preferably library-based or as part of a reading/literacy intervention role, though I’m certain working as a teaching assistant will be equally rewarding), in hope of gaining amazing insight into the young people I intend to write for, before I embark on creating exciting books for reluctant readers and children whose reading levels don’t correlate with their curriculum age groups. I am beyond excited to – after many, many years of uncertainty and deliberation – have finally found a route to utilise my literary skills and experience to support young people in developing a love of reading and appreciation of books. It may take a few years to accomplish, though I am truly looking forward to the wonderful literary challenges ahead!

Therefore, is the completion of my university course the end of an era, or the beginning of an exciting, new adventure? I hope it’ll be the latter 🙂

Anyway, in other news…

Unfortunately, despite the lifting of restrictions, the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for many businesses:

First, I was represented by the fabulous company Top Rated Ghostwriters for two years, though they sadly had to close down due to unforeseen losses caused by the pandemic. It was an honour to have been represented by such a fantastic company, and having the opportunity to work with a team of amazing ghostwriters was brilliant – I cannot thank Top Rated Ghostwriters enough for their support and encouragement.

The loss of an agent is another factor that has forced my decision to limit the ghostwriting projects I take on in future – because I no longer have a ghostwriting support system in place if ever I need help, advice, or encouragement. However, I do intend to continue working on smaller-scale ghostwriting projects when I have time, such as those for charitable organisations or memoir writing, because there are so many fascinating stories out there just waiting to be told – I’d love to use my experiences to bring those stories to life, especially for people who may not otherwise be able to afford to do so 🙂

Second, Wordcatcher Publishing became a victim of the pandemic, too. Not only did Wordcatcher Publishing traditionally publish two of my books, but the company also gave me the opportunity to work as a publishing assistant – which provided me with invaluable experience that I may never have had otherwise. I learned so much while working for Wordcatcher Publishing, from proofreading and working with authors on various editorial projects, to typesetting manuscripts for print and managing book metadata. I am incredibly grateful for the publishing experience I gained at Wordcatcher, and it was a pleasure to work with so many wonderfully talented authors – several of whom have become my friends!

As a result of the closure of Wordcatcher Publishing, however, I now have to re-publish my debut novel – Larry – and series of short stories – Animals’ Guide to the Human Race. Although I have now completed my university studies, my time is still extremely limited, so I have decided to edit Larry and AGTTHR for the very last time in every spare moment I can find, with a view to self-publishing them through either KDP or Ingram Spark in the very near future.

A little bit of good news – for those who enjoy my writing – five years in the making, I still haven’t given up on my series of YA sci-fi novels! I am crafting a dynamic cast of characters for my sci-fi series that, I hope, will help readers feel more confident within themselves, alongside the inspiration to act with greater compassion towards others – my novels will also be packed with mystery, suspense, conspiracy theories, and super-advanced tech that requires significant research to write coherently. So, please ‘watch this space’ for updates…

Thank you, once again, for your continued support! You are incredible, and I am honoured that you’ve chosen to spend your time with me (well, with my words, which is pretty much the same thing) 🙂 <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Adventure, Animals, Author, Creative, Happiness, Life, Mental Health Awareness, Mindfulness, Positivity, Self-Love, Share Your Story, Uncategorized, Writing

Turning Thirty – Life Lessons Learned

Heyy 🙂

Hope all is well with you!

So, I’ve reached the big ‘three-ohh’ :O And I felt it pertinent that I share with you those invaluable pearls of wisdom I wish I’d been privy to before turning 30…

First, however, I’ll just say that my 30th birthday was made so special by loved ones – for which I am eternally grateful! Not only have I received the loveliest birthday wishes, cards, and gifts, but I have been reminded how very fortunate I am to be loved by so many wonderful people (and animals!) – I cannot thank the universe enough 🙂

Here are a few photos from yesterday, when I: ate a marvellous chocolate cupcake for breakfast (because, you know, I’m officially an adult now, so I’m allowed to do that sort of thing); walked through an autumnal landscape on the cusp of transformation with my lovely dog; spent some rare quality time writing for my own literary projects; rode my beautiful pony for the first time in forever, and didn’t fall off when she bucked into canter (#winning); went for a deliciously indulgent meal with my wonderful fiancé, during which time I polished off an entire glass of wine (those who know me know it usually takes me so long to get through an alcoholic beverage, that I rarely have time to finish them!) – then almost fell over on the walk home… 😛

Anyways, to the task at hand…

Please note: these ‘life lessons’ are not in order of importance, though I hope at least one of them will be of value to you 🙂

1.) Love is a life force – never take it for granted.

Whatever form love takes – whether from family, friends, your romantic partner, or your dog – cherish it. I am incredibly fortunate to never have known life without love, though after some pretty devastating experiences in my 30 years on this planet, I have come to realise that love is enough to keep you going when times are tough, and it should never be taken for granted. Tell the ones you love how infinitely you love them every day, make time to spend with the people (and animals) who let you know how important you are to them, and be thankful; you never know what’s lurking just around the corner.

2.) Trust your instincts.

I don’t mean fleeting thoughts or impulsive feelings, I’m referring to those innate, soulful vibes that indicate from somewhere, deep down, whether or not a situation is right. Trusting your instincts requires a significant amount of soul searching, and it doesn’t always lead to pleasing those around you. I’ve made the dreadful mistake of failing to trust my instincts, of ignoring the indicators that something wasn’t quite right, and landing in situations that have not only cost me my sanity, but my sense of self-worth, too.

It can take years to escape a situation if you’re tricked into believing it’s as life is supposed to be, or that your happiness is worth less than the acceptance of people surrounding you at the time. This is your sign to respect the gift nature has bestowed upon you through your instincts – from my own experiences I can tell you wholeheartedly that if something doesn’t feel right, it isn’t.

Likewise, listening to that inner voice can lead to true contentment, if you let it. Sometimes, the right path is not the path forced upon us. Trusting your instincts can be difficult, and can make you feel a cacophony of mixed emotions, but, ultimately, there’ll come a day you sit back and realise that trusting yourself was the best thing you’ve ever done.

3.) Kindness is key – in moderation.

Generations of my family have been documented as having lost everything in pursuit of kindness. I’ve been taught to sacrifice consideration of myself in favour of caring for others. Kindness has brought me so much joy, but it has also led to mistreatment and disrespect.

I implore everyone to treat others with kindness; you never know what someone else is going through. Kindness keeps the world turning, and saves lives every second of every day. However, showering people with kindness, respect, and affection does not necessarily guarantee that you will enjoy such treatment in return. Every aspect of my being has been taken advantage of in the past, which is the reason I recommend that it’s vital to be kind -though it is just as essential to be cautious of whom you help, and how.

4.) Perfection is subjective.

I have wasted countless hours of my life comparing myself to others, worrying about how others perceive me, and fussing over my appearance – yet yielding no confidence as a result.

Life is precious. It may sound cliché, but every moment truly is a gift – yet it’s easy to forget that our bodies are a gift, too. Alright, sometimes our bodies don’t work the way we want them to (I lived with recurring bouts of tonsillitis for 16 years before having my tonsils removed, a hand injury changed the course of my life drastically, my skin is super sensitive so often looks blemished, and suffering with emetophobia can wreak havoc on my perception of my body), but the fact we’re able to continue living despite physical challenges proves just how incredibly resilient we are – and that deserves to be celebrated!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, yet perfectionism steals that acknowledgement from us when we perceive ourselves as anything less than perfection. But do you know what? You are perfect. At this very moment, you are perfect, just as you are. Your unique experiences tell a story through your body, so comparing your story to someone else’s is utterly futile.

Please don’t waste a minute that could be spent feeling good about yourself on making yourself feel unworthy. I admit, I still have some body image issues to overcome, though with the incredible support system surrounding me – in conjunction with a lot of effort on my behalf to change how I see myself – I’m improving every day; so can you.

All the issues I possess surrounding my appearance, alongside my lack of body confidence, stem from various sources – such as being bullied in school, being cheated on, being subject to sexual/coercive abuse, and years of bombardment of photoshopped/heavily edited imagery through all media/social media outlets designed to instil self-loathing that funds the conglomerate gluttony of the ‘beauty’ industry which eats away at our sense of self-worth. My point is, there are so many reasons to feel bad about ourselves and to put ourselves down, but at the end of the day, there are infinitely more reasons to feel good about ourselves; a primary one being that perfection is unattainable. Why are we wasting our time and energy in pursuit of a state that doesn’t actually exist?

Each of us has a unique vision of what we believe perfection is. The only aspect of your life stopping you from being perfect, from feeling perfect, is you.

Practice plenty of self-love, take care of your body and nurture your mind – it helps.

And even if you never feel perfect yourself, I promise there is someone out there who truly knows you to fit their perception of perfection 🙂

5.) Talking is tonic – and animals are the best counsellors!

Communicating your deepest, darkest fears can feel intimidating – not least because we’ve been conditioned to believe that vulnerability equals weakness. As someone who spent years hiding away from the reality of a situation, and failing to tell anyone what I was suffering, I am in a qualified position to say that talking is vital – not only for maintaining your mental health, but in many ways for the good of your physical health, too.

The toll of secrecy devours your soul until there’s not much of yourself left to salvage. Fear held me captive for such a long time that I almost had no route for escape.

If you are going through something, whether it feels harrowing or humdrum, talking about it to a trusted loved one – or even to a professional listener, such as a psychologist or GP – can make all the difference in strengthening your resolve to endure it.

There are sooo many services out there you can reach out to for help, support, and advice; please don’t ever feel weak for talking about your worries – instead, realise just how strong you are for having the courage to share.

I cannot stress enough how wonderful animals are in any healing process. By sharing your innermost concerns, memories, and regrets with a listener whose judgement will never be anything but positive, you’ll feel far better. So, whether it’s a cwtch with a cat, adventuring with a dog, chatting to a budgerigar, or exploring glorious countryside with a horse, connecting with animals can provide a purpose beyond ourselves that can help us realise that there’s incredible beauty to be discovered in every realm of life, if we just learn to let go of our self-limiting inhibitions.

Best wishes,

Dannika <3

Adventure, Creative, Edinburgh, Engagement, Happiness, Life, Magic, Positivity, Relationships, Uncategorized, Writing

Our Edinburgh Engagement!

Hi, hope you’re having a fantastic week 🙂

I am writing this blog post to document our magical holiday in Edinburgh…

I love him, infinitely <3

We travelled to Scotland anticipating a tiresome, lengthy drive and sooo many restrictions, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the drive was pleasant and offered sweeping views of incredible landscapes, and the main restrictions included booking restaurants before eating there and having to book visits to places such as Edinburgh Castle. Despite being unable to book a visit to Edinburgh Castle, we couldn’t help but admire the stunning architecture as we wandered through the streets of Scotland’s iconic capital city.

We arrived at the hotel to a friendly welcome, and settled into our room before freshening-up, booking somewhere to eat, then making our way to the hotel bar to enjoy a drink before walking to the restaurant. It was our first evening in Edinburgh; I had no idea it’d end in euphoria! Gareth and I enjoyed our meal, though it started tipping down as we left the restaurant and we’d forgotten our coats – so we raced through the winding Scottish streets back to our hotel room, where Gareth claimed to have left something in the room’s safe. For those of you aware of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Gareth had joked earlier in the evening that he wanted to put his sandwiches in the safe like Captain Holt did, so, naturally, I expected to open the safe to find sandwiches, socks, or something equally silly. However, Gareth had changed the code on the safe to the date we first met, and, as I opened the door I was presented with a delicate, sparkling engagement ring! I turned around, in shock, and almost tripped over as Gareth was down on one knee. I may be a writer, but there are simply no words to explain how amazing that moment was; I didn’t have to think twice about saying “Yes!” to the most wonderful man in the universe 🙂

The euphoric haze in which we were cocooned was enhanced by the awesome food, glorious architecture, and breath-taking sights spanning Edinburgh’s spectacular skyline.

Gareth and I strolled through the glorious park and historic streets as we soaked in the atmosphere, relishing every moment of our dream engagement without the pressures and expectations of everyday life. We couldn’t have wished for a more magical beginning to our future together 🙂

Happiness is being with him 🙂

After the disappointments, the struggles, the betrayal, and the tragedies we’ve both experienced, we realise how incredibly lucky we are to have found one another. Gareth is my other half, just as I am his. We’re excited to be planning our future together, and we are beyond thankful for the chance to do so <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Book Publishing, Book Review, Creative, Crime Writing, Fiction, Mystery, Reading, Uncategorized

A Book Review: Where Are You Now?

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! 🙂

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post 🙂

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark…

Description:

“How far would you go to keep a secret?

It has been ten years since 21-year-old Mack went missing. A Columbia University senior, he walked out of his room and has not been seen since. Every year he calls his mother on her birthday, on his birthday, and on Mother’s Day. He assures her he is fine, refuses to answer her frenzied questions, then hangs up. Even the death of his father on 9/11 does not bring him home.

Mack’s sister, Caroline, has now endured two family tragedies. Determined to solve the mystery surrounding her brother’s disappearance, she sets out to discover the truth. But with it comes a secret that someone will do anything to protect, leading her to a deadly confrontation with an unexpected enemy…

A fast paced thriller perfect for Mary Higgins Clark many fans.

My Review:

Mary Higgins Clark (a.k.a. “MHC”) is referred to as the “Queen of Suspense” and she has been the favourite author of my Gran’ma for as long as I can remember. Gran’ma had bought several MHC novels for me as birthday presents over the years, yet I never seemed to have time to read them. Luckily, one rainy winter night, I discovered a collection of MHC novels on my shelf and decided to read one. Where Are You Now? is a fantastic, page-turning read that captured my attention and introduced me to one of the best thriller writers of all time.

Every character was masterfully painted, and MHC’s artistry with words illustrated their unique motives; some pivotal to the plot, others turned out to be red herrings. The characters seemed real, which I understand is a well-known skill of MHC.

The story moves along at an exciting pace, never offering opportunity to tire of the plot – which keeps you guessing, right to the end! However, if you prefer the perspective of a novel to remain consistent, this book will disappoint you. The narrative point of view flips from first-person to third-person, which did take a couple of chapters to get used to.

To conclude, I recommend this book if you enjoy mystery, thriller, and crime writing. It’s a great read that has it all; suspense, mystery, and excellent characterisation.

Author, Book Publishing, Book Review, Career, Creative, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Reading, Teaching, Teaching, Writing

A Book Review: Head Over Heels in the Dales

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! 🙂

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post 🙂

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing Head Over Heels in the Dales by Gervase Phinn…

Description:

Join Gervase Phinn in the classroom where he faces his greatest challenge: keeping a straight face as teachers and children alike conspire to have him laughing out loud . . .

‘Could you tell me how to spell “sex” please?’

Gervase Phinn thinks he’s heard just about everything in his two years as a school inspector, but a surprising enquiry from an angelic six-year-old reminds him never to take children for granted.

This year Gervase has lots of important things on his mind – his impending marriage to Christine Bentley (the prettiest headteacher for miles around), finding somewhere idyllic to live in the Yorkshire Dales, and the chance of a promotion.

All of which generate their fair share of excitement, aided and abetted as usual by his colleagues in the office.

Funny, uplifting and joyful, Head over Heels in the Dales is the third in Gervase Phinn’s much-loved series.

My Review:

When I read this book, I had no idea it was the third in a series (despite that being listed on the back cover) – although, to be honest, you really don’t have to read other books in the series to enjoy this book. Full of fun, Head Over Heels in the Dales is a delightfully light-hearted read packed with vivid scenes illustrated by Phinn’s exquisite literary talents.

Despite being non-fiction, Head Over Heels in the Dales reads more like a fiction novel than a memoir – but I imagine the reality of Phinn’s experiences illuminated the hilarity, romance, and stresses of life as a school inspector that are depicted in this book.

Phinn details his time as a school inspector, though reading this book actually made me feel confident that I’d enjoy a teaching profession alongside my writing career.

Having read All Creature Great and Small by James Herriot when I was younger, I definitely felt that Head Over Heels in the Dales had the same vibe. I have visited Yorkshire briefly, but feel as though I’ve spent considerable time ensconced in its rural idyll thanks to Phinn’s marvellous descriptions of the the rugged yet beautiful Dales countryside:

“Willingforth Primary School resembled a prosperous, well-maintained private residence. It was set back from the main road, which ran the length of the small picturesque village, tucked behind the Norman church and the village pond. It was an imposing grey stone Georgian building with high leaded windows, each supporting a pair of white shutters, and a large oak-panelled door with brass knocker in the shape of a ram’s head. To the front was a small, well-tended lawn with a sundial and tubs of bright geraniums still untouched by frost.”

I definitely recommend reading Head Over Heels in the Dales if you’re in search of a humorous, light hearted book that’s undemanding yet entertaining.

Adventure, Book Publishing, Book Review, Creative, Fiction, Reading, Science Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

A Book Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! 🙂

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post 🙂

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams…

Description:

An international phenomenon and pop-culture classic, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has been a radio show, TV series, novel, stage play, comic book and film. Following the galactic (mis)adventures of Arthur Dent, Hitchhiker’s in its various incarnations has captured the imaginations of curious minds around the world . . .

It’s an ordinary Thursday lunchtime for Arthur Dent until his house gets demolished. The Earth follows shortly afterwards to make way for a new hyperspace express route, and his best friend has just announced that he’s an alien. At this moment, they’re hurtling through space with nothing but their towels and an innocuous-looking book inscribed, in large friendly letters, with the words: DON’T PANIC.

The weekend has only just begun . . .

With exclusive bonus material from the Douglas Adams archives, and an introduction by former Doctor Who showrunner, Russell T Davies.

The intergalactic adventures of Arthur Dent begin in the first volume of the ‘trilogy of five’, Douglas Adams’ comedy sci-fi classic The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

My Review:

One of my favourite books, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a work of literary genius. This book is so incredibly ridiculous that I have laughed out loud at the hilarity of it time and again!

If you enjoy straightforward stories with a clear beginning, middle and end, this is not the book for you. This book is about as unconventional as advising the use of a towel in emergency situations, but that is exactly the catalyst of its brilliance.

Where to begin about the plot, storylines, and characterisation? Adams has created an incredibly diverse universe packed with complex detail, yet the complexity of it all is overcome by the ironically down-to-earth style in which the narrative is written. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy follows Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect along a series of misadventures following the destruction of Earth to clear the way for a Vogon hyperspace bypass.

I cannot decide which character is my favourite, as they’re all so wonderfully written, though I can’t help but empathise with Marvin – the Paranoid Android. He’s a fascinating character whose astounding level of intelligence is continually underestimated; in a way, I wonder whether he’s a subtle reflection of the reaction to humanity’s inability to realise their own intelligence…

Dialogue is realistic, scenery is cleverly crafted, and the characters – whilst wildly wacky – are so believable that it’s difficult to imagine that they don’t exist out there, somewhere.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a truly inspirational work of science fiction that I recommend if you enjoy sci-fi, comedy, or out-of-this-world adventures!

Author, Book Publishing, Book Review, Creative, Crime Writing, Fiction, Mystery, Reading

A Book Review: Art in the Blood

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! 🙂

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post 🙂

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing Art in the Blood by Bonnie MacBird…

Description:

London. A snowy December, 1888. Sherlock Holmes, 34, is languishing and back on cocaine after a disastrous Ripper investigation. Watson can neither comfort nor rouse his friend – until a strangely encoded letter arrives from Paris.

Mlle La Victoire, a beautiful French cabaret star writes that her illegitimate son by an English lord has disappeared, and she has been attacked in the streets of Montmartre.

Racing to Paris with Watson at his side, Holmes discovers the missing child is only the tip of the iceberg of a much larger problem. The most valuable statue since the Winged Victory has been violently stolen in Marseilles, and several children from a silk mill in Lancashire have been found murdered. The clues in all three cases point to a single, untouchable man.

Will Holmes recover in time to find the missing boy and stop a rising tide of murders? To do so he must stay one step ahead of a dangerous French rival and the threatening interference of his own brother, Mycroft.

This latest adventure, in the style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, sends the iconic duo from London to Paris and the icy wilds of Lancashire in a case which tests Watson’s friendship and the fragility and gifts of Sherlock Holmes’ own artistic nature to the limits.”

My Review:

Around six years ago, when this book was newly published, I bought the hardback copy and read it whilst on holiday. After lending the book to a fellow Sherlock Holmes enthusiast, it was never returned – so, I bought the paperback version to replace it and thoroughly enjoyed reading this story for the second time!

I’ve enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes novels of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle since I was in high school, so the discovery of a series of Sherlock Holmes novels by a female writer was exciting.

Despite the miniscule aspects of Americanisation in a few of the descriptions (I can’t recall exact quotations, but I remember noticing them as I was reading), the portrayal of Holmes and Watson in Art in the Blood would’ve made Sir Arthur Conan Doyle proud. For those inconsistencies of description or characterisation, I appreciated the thought MacBird attributed to creating a Preface which added a satisfying depth to her story:

Over time, perhaps from moisture and fading, a number of passages have become unreadable, and I have endeavoured to reconstruct what seemed to be missing from them. If there are any mistakes of style or historical inaccuracies, please ascribe these to my inability to fill in places where the writing had become indecipherable.”

My favourite character in this novel has to be Watson, the narrator himself, because MacBird illustrated a character that was both believable and endearing. Alongside Watson, the development of Holmes’ character in possession of various afflictions associated with genius was exercised intelligently, without damaging the sanctity of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. I found the other characters in the novel to be brilliantly written, with unexpected twists and turns that kept me from prematurely guessing their motives, behaviours, and ultimately, their fate.

The storyline was diligently plotted, which allowed little room for inconsistency – something that can ruin an otherwise great read. I am definitely a fan of Bonnie MacBird’s writing, thanks to Art in the Blood, and I look forward to reading the other Sherlock Holmes novels in this series.

Whilst there were aspects of the story that were both disturbing and devastating, MacBird handled the difficult subject matter tactfully, with a literary flare obviously sparked by the inspiration of her muse, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. To be able to elicit such reaction through her words is proof enough that MacBird is a talented author, yet I also believe the way she wove descriptive detail into dialogue made Art in the Blood such a page-turner!

Whether or not you relish novels based on protagonist Sherlock Holmes, if mystery and crime writing are your genres of choice, you’re likely to find this book a gripping read. If you’re already an avid reader of the adventures of Holmes and Watson, you won’t be disappointed by Art in the Blood – thanks to MacBird’s sympathetic storytelling skills, you’ll find yourself immersed in a familiarly mystical world originally envisaged by a literary legend.

Author, Book Publishing, Book Review, Creative, Fiction, Reading, Science Fiction, Uncategorized

A Book Review: Foundation

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! 🙂

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post 🙂

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing Foundation by Isaac Asimov…

Description:

“WINNER OF THE HUGO AWARD FOR BEST ALL-TIME SERIES

The Foundation series is Isaac Asimov’s iconic masterpiece. Unfolding against the backdrop of a crumbling Galactic Empire, the story of Hari Seldon’s two Foundations is a lasting testament to an extraordinary imagination, one that shaped science fiction as we know it today.

The Galactic Empire has prospered for twelve thousand years. Nobody suspects that the heart of the thriving Empire is rotten, until psychohistorian Hari Seldon uses his new science to foresee its terrible fate.

Exiled to the desolate planet Terminus, Seldon establishes a colony of the greatest minds in the Empire, a Foundation which holds the key to changing the fate of the galaxy.

However, the death throes of the Empire breed hostile new enemies, and the young Foundation’s fate will be threatened first.”

My Review:

As an aspiring sci-fi writer, I couldn’t resist buying a copy of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation when I saw it in a bookshop. Upon reading Foundation, I realise why Isaac Asimov is referred to as “the father of science fiction”. The writing is insightful, and seamlessly describes the futuristic world you swiftly find yourself immersed in.

This book is, as defined by the title, the foundation of a series. Therefore, the vast majority of it explains the mechanisms of the dystopian world Asimov is introducing you to. So I’d advise approaching this read with an open mind, because there won’t be the usual ‘beginning, middle, end’ storylines you’d expect in a traditional fiction novel.

I believe it’s also worth noting the time in which Asimov wrote this series, because viewing it from that perspective truly does enlighten you to how incredibly ahead of its time Asimov’s writing was! For instance, Foundation was published in 1951 – when most of the technologies described in the novel were not in existence. An aspect of this novel that I found slightly disagreeable, yet not completely unexpected owing to the time in which is was written, was the lack of female characters. I do understand that the reality of the world in which Asimov resided was unlikely to boast powerful female representation, but, as female reader with an interest in sci-fi, I would have appreciated the novel even more so had the powerful leadership roles and characters depicted throughout Foundation been more diverse.

Asimov was a Professor of Biochemistry, which shines through in the attention he paid to every detail set into Foundation. However, if you aren’t as fascinated by reading the scientific and political detail that provides a backdrop for the novels to come, this novel is likely to struggle to maintain your attention for too long.

I haven’t yet read any other works written by Asimov – although I have seen the film adaptation of I,Robot, one of my favourite films – but I am definitely going to be reading the complete collection of Asimov’s science fiction works as soon as I have time, because Foundation was such an inspiring read.

If you enjoy science fiction as much as I do (i.e. you enjoy it enough to write sci-fi yourself), then I wholeheartedly recommend reading Foundation as the introduction to other works by Isaac Asimov.

Book Publishing, Book Review, Creative, Fiction, Reading, Uncategorized

A Book Review: Heroes

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! 🙂

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post 🙂

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing Heroes by Stephen Fry…

Description:

“Few mere mortals have ever embarked on such bold and heart-stirring adventures, overcome myriad monstrous perils, or outwitted scheming vengeful gods, quite as stylishly and triumphantly as Greek heroes.

Join Jason aboard the Argo as he quests for the Golden Fleece. See Atalanta – who was raised by bears – outrun any man before being tricked with golden apples. Witness wily Oedipus solve the riddle of the Sphinx and discover how Bellerophon captures the winged horse Pegasus to help him slay the monster Chimera.

Heroes is the story of what we mortals are truly capable of – at our worst and our very best.”

My Review:

This book is referred to as “Volume II of Mythos” – though I didn’t read Mythos before reading Heroes, I did note a few small references that would likely have made more sense if I had read Mythos too.

Upon reading Heroes, it is impossible not to imagine Stephen Fry’s voice narrating! I’m not into audiobooks at the moment, though I have discovered that Stephen Fry actually recorded an audiobook version of Heroes that you can find here.

In the interest of being completely honest with you, when I initially took on the Herculean task of reading Heroes, I was disheartened by how challenging it was to keep reading. I became so frustrated that I kept falling asleep whilst reading it that I took a break from it for a little while to read something else. However, upon returning to Heroes, I realised that it isn’t written as novel to be read cover-to-cover, but instead, the book is separated into chapters that focus on specific characters. Therefore, I began to read Heroes as more of a ‘character story guide’ than a novel, which made it far easier to work through – I think it would be an incredibly useful reference book for writers who wish to include characters from Greek mythology in their work. I also liked the sections of colour images of paintings, pottery, sculptures, and other works of art that depicted some of the characters and scenes in the book – it was a great addition, and fascinating if you’re a bit of a history nerd like I am!

I appreciated the “List of Characters” in Heroes that illuminated many of the details I knew nothing about. There were also explanations at the end of some pages that described how to pronounce certain names, the interesting meanings behind names, and other information that provided an insightful interpretation of mythical particulars.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend reading Heroes if you enjoy Stephen Fry’s writing and would like to learn a little more about Greek mythology. However, I believe it may be beneficial to read Mythos before Heroes, in order to get the most out of this reading experience.

Author, Book Publishing, Book Review, Creative, Equestrian, Fiction, Reading, Uncategorized

A Book Review: The Horse Dancer

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! 🙂

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post 🙂

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing The Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes…

Description:

“The 2009 novel The Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes, the bestselling author of Me Before You and two-time winner of the RNA Novel of the Year award.

In a hidden corner of London, Henri Lachapelle is teaching his granddaughter and her horse to defy gravity, just as he had done in France, fifty years previously. But when disaster strikes, fourteen-year-old Sarah is left to fend for herself.

Forced to share a house with her charismatic ex-husband, her professional judgement called into question, lawyer Natasha Macauley’s life seems to have gone awry. When her path crosses that of Sarah, she sees a chance to put things right.

But she doesn’t know that Sarah is keeping a secret, one that will change all their lives forever . . .”

My Review:

The Horse Dancer weaves stories of every character together through a tapestry of events. Moyes’ writing is saturated with such brilliant descriptive detail that it’s easy to become immersed in the story and empathise with the characters. I’m an equestrian enthusiast and horse owner, so I found the level of detail Moyes dedicated to her horse-related scenes absolutely wonderful! Although it’s worth mentioning that you don’t have to know anything about horses to enjoy the equestrian aspects of this story.

All the main characters were adequately ‘fleshed-out’, though my favourite character has to be Boo, the horse – whose bravery was the most believable of all. I think it’s worth mentioning that there were a few plot ‘twists’ that I anticipated, and there were minor aspects of the story that were improbable – for instance, it is highly unlikely that a couple in the middle of a divorce could plausibly live together, and a young girl being invited into the home of complete strangers was difficult to comprehend. However, for any tiny details of the story that were improbable, there were exciting scenes and emotive storylines that made The Horse Dancer so readable it was difficult to put down at times!

The beginning of the book introduces two seemingly separate storylines as it develops the individual backstory of each protagonist – if you dislike stories that are set out this way, it might take you a little longer to get into the story itself; but I assure you it’s worthwhile. There are many well-written chapters in the middle of the story that are compelling – they offer suspense, emotion, and action-packed excitement. As for the ending, I felt it provided a satisfying conclusion and wrapped up the story nicely.

I’d definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for an indulgent read to enjoy of a chilly winter’s evening, cwtched up in a blanket as rain patters against the nearest curtained window.

Author, Book Publishing, Book Review, Creative, Fiction, Mental Health Awareness, Reading, Uncategorized

A Book Review: The Midnight Library

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! 🙂

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post 🙂

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing The Midnight Library by Matt Haig…

Description:

“Between life and death there is a library. When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger. Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?”

My Review:

The Midnight Library is an incredible feat of literary magnificence. It is about the headspace Nora Seed has been forced to occupy by depression – as her soul is suspended between life and death – and the storyline follows her journey through lives she could have lived.

Although Nora’s character is so real and relatable, my favourite character is Mrs Elm (though I won’t go into too much detail about her, so as not to share any spoilers!). The book is written from a third-person limited perspective, which enhances the story’s emotive qualities without forcing the overwhelming intensity of a first-person point of view.

I enjoy ghost stories, and while The Midnight Library isn’t a ghost story, I found the scenes Haig depicted to be ethereal and compelling. In fact, I lost quite a few hours’ sleep as I read the entire book within two nights! It may have been the lack of sleep, but I admit to crying and laughing aloud as I read this book; something I haven’t done whilst reading for a long, long time.

The Midnight Library forces you to consider your own mental health, as well as recognise how deeply another’s mental health could be affecting their life and the decisions they make – even if there’s no obvious sign of that to the outside world. The book encourages empathy for fellow human beings too, without focusing wholly on the negative aspects of mental health that led protagonist Nora to become suspended between life and death.

While reading The Midnight Library, it quickly becomes obvious that Haig truly understands the state of Nora’s mind as she contemplates all aspects of her life throughout the book. It encapsulates the significance of choices, both major and seemingly minor, by highlighting the positive difference we can make to others’ lives without even realising it – as well as reminding us that we aren’t always in control of the tragedies that befall us.

Despite the dark moments depicted within the book’s page-turning story, ultimately, The Midnight Library is one of the most uplifting books I have ever read. I wholeheartedly recommend The Midnight Library to everyone; it is a work of genius not to be missed!

Author, Creative, Fiction, Reading, Short Story, Writing

Short Story Series – The Interview

Welcome to my ‘Short Story Series’ 🙂

I frequently ghostwrite short stories, and I write short stories for university assignments as well as for my own amusement. I’ve decided to share some short stories with you, in hope that you’ll enjoy them – and if you’d like to share with me your opinion of these short stories, I’d be grateful!

© D.E. Kendall

The Interview

What the hell am I doing?

Daisy Miller pulled into the overpriced city car park and plonked her forehead onto the sun-stained steering wheel of her vintage Nissan Micra. Though she still had ten minutes, Daisy couldn’t help but wonder why she was doing this to herself. She couldn’t stop her legs trembling, her palms were clammy, and she wished she’d remembered a drink because she was certain she had the worst case of cottonmouth ever.

Stretching up to examine her teeth for traces of red lipstick in the windscreen mirror, Daisy noticed a pimple rumbling beneath the surface of her nose. Unwilling to allow the thing to erupt and ruin that all-important first impression, the thirty-six-year-old fumbled with her only ‘decent’ handbag in search of concealer. An old tin of cherry lip balm flew out of the tightly packed bag and fell into the abyss of used coffee cups and heaps of takeaway wrappers in her passenger footwell.

A cacophony of expletives accompanied wrapper rustling in search of that tiny tin, until Daisy triumphantly lifted the grubby little pot out of the mess and held it up to the light, recalling fond memories while appreciating how its scratched surface glistened in mid-morning sunshine.

In a moment of panic, Daisy feared that search had made her late to the interview. After wiping grease from her hand along the cloth driver’s seat, a swift check of her battered silver watch revealed Daisy’s fears as unfounded.

Seven minutes.

Leaning back, Daisy nestled into the familiar, time-worn seat and closed her eyes. Although prepared to practise relaxation techniques she’d found online, Daisy quickly gave up on that endeavour and unwisely allowed her mind to wander instead.

After twenty-one years in hospitality, Daisy usually felt she could face any situation; not today. Reciting monologues covering valuable experiences gained working her way to a managerial role, after beginning her journey as a waitress in her grandmother’s café at fifteen, realisation suddenly struck that interviewers may ask about interests outside work. Unfortunately, working every evening, weekend, and bank holiday allowed Daisy little time to pursue anything she might be passionate about.

Flicking through imaginary scenarios, Daisy pondered how plausible it was to claim she worked with rescue animals (after all, she found Tinker and Mittens dumped by the bins at the back of the pub a few years ago and tended to them like children ever since) – then again, she had no free time to volunteer for animal charities, so had no references to support such a claim. Then, Daisy considered how intellectual she’d seem if she claimed to be an avid reader (she spent break times scrolling through social media, reading about the interesting lives of her school friends), but found a plot hole when she imagined them asking about her favourite read; if she confessed her favourite book was Matilda, she’d be laughed out of the room. Finally, Daisy decided to tell them she was interested in film and television, a major asset in advertising; however, she realised that wouldn’t work either – she was constantly catching up months after the initial hype, as she was always working late.

Two minutes.

The hands of her watch ticked closer to her fate, and Daisy could procrastinate no longer. Once she’d awkwardly fought through the broken seatbelt of her cramped eighties car, Daisy clambered out into the chill of that bracing autumn morning in an uncomfortably figure-hugging skirt she’d never worn (yet regretted, despite skipping breakfast). In wrapping the only nice coat she had (that wasn’t covered in cat hair) tightly around herself, Daisy accidentally dropped her keys. Slamming the rusty mustard door shut with a grunt, Daisy bent down to retrieve the collection of fluffy trinkets attached to her flat and car keys, when a heart-stopping rip resounded. Feeling her cheeks heat like coals on a barbeque, Daisy contorted herself every which way to see what had ripped and where. Much to her dismay, those tights she’d found balled up in the corner of her underwear drawer failed in their duty to conceal her muscular thighs; an indiscreet ladder spread across her upper left leg like wildfire. Daisy regretted her choice of skirt a little less when she realised it just about covered her dignity.

Pausing for a moment to take a deep, smog-filled breath, Daisy mustered the courage to march purposefully towards Linx-Sky Advertising; an architectural beast overshadowing the pebble-dash buildings surrounding it.

Here goes nothing.

Trying her utmost not to be intimidated by a receptionist who could’ve moonlighted as a model stationed at an enormous front desk, Daisy asked for directions. She thanked the tall receptionist, then squeaked her new shoes all the way to the lifts.

Daisy gazed around in wonder at the lift, marvelling at the marble walls, golden safety rails, and twinkling spotlights peppered above her like a constellation. During her observations, Daisy didn’t notice the lift fill with three other people and was snapped from her reverie by the melodic tones of a handsome suit, ‘You have to select a floor number if you want the lift to move.’

Feeling her cheeks glow red, Daisy half-smiled at the handsome suit, avoiding eye contact as she selected the eleventh floor. Daisy spent the first four floors fiddling with her fingernails, wishing she’d enough time to re-paint them as flakes of damaged blue nail polish moulted onto her skirt. There was a high-pitched ‘ding’ as the lift doors trundled open, inviting into the mix a rotund gentleman in suit trousers and an untucked paisley shirt, complete with crescent patches. As the lift doors trundled shut again, a powerful hue of body odour hit Daisy and she instinctively stepped backwards to escape it.

‘Alright there?’ The handsome suit, whose Australian accent Daisy noticed for the first time, had been caught up in her clumsiness as she accidentally stepped on his immaculate black shoes.

‘Sorry!’ Daisy’s cheeks lit up like brake lights, again.

‘No worries, happens all the time.’

Braving a brief glance up at the face atop the handsome suit, Daisy discovered enchanting mahogany eyes and tousled dark hair that perfectly complemented his olive skin and chiselled features.

Yes, I imagine women constantly fall over you.

‘What brings you here?’

‘Uh,’ Daisy was shocked by the sudden spark of conversation, ‘the eleventh floor, an interview.’ She averted her eyes, pretending her handbag zip required inspection.

‘I see. Name’s Adam,’ he presented his hand to Daisy.

‘Daisy. Daisy Millam… I mean, Miller.’ Daisy looked up and returned the gesture, her usually chubby fingers feeling delicately feminine as her hand slipped into his.

‘Nice to meet you, Daisy Miller.’

There was a satisfying ‘ding’ as the lift doors trundled open once more, drawing the sweaty zeppelin’s cloud of stench onto the ninth floor, as well as stealing Adam away. Daisy remained in the lift with one other passenger. Despite wrestling with the will to begin a conversation, Daisy didn’t have long to endure awkward silence, as the pointy-toed woman vacated the lift on the tenth floor.

Finally, Daisy reached her destination. Within seconds of stepping off the lift, a glamourous secretary greeted her. The Naomi-Campbell-lookalike led Daisy along a disorientating corridor that had an impossibly slippery floor and enormous canvases of ‘modern art’ clinging to its dull, grey walls.

Upon reaching the waiting room, Naomi disappeared into the executive office. Daisy was left to contend with the geometric carpet, lines of lime green chairs, and floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of a sprawling cityscape (as well as the dizzying visual of ant-sized people going about their lives eleven storeys below).

Not going to stand by the window.

Avoiding eye contact with those she presumed were fellow candidates spread around the room, Daisy clocked a water cooler neighbouring the closed office door. She longed for a cup of water to calm her nerves, though the cooler was occupied by a trembling middle-aged woman dressed for a fifties summer picnic.

Hope this isn’t a group interview; I prefer private humiliation.

To distract herself from nervousness, Daisy stole a glance at the candidates sat around her so she could imagine backstories for them. First, she noted the woman sat directly opposite her staring intently at a smartphone. The bleached-blonde bob cut, smart skirt suit and inappropriately high salmon heels suggested to Daisy that this woman was confident, sophisticated, and knew exactly what she wanted. Daisy decided the powerful-looking woman had to have an embarrassing floral name like hers, such as ‘Violet’ or ‘Hyacinth’, because she’d like to believe that woman had also been born to a single, teenaged mother.

Sarah Smith!’ Naomi’s voice bellowed from deep within the executive office.

‘Hyacinth’ stood up, dropped her smartphone into her vast handbag, then forced a smile en route to the office from which Naomi had beckoned.

Stupid woman with her normal, business-appropriate name.

Refusing to allow jealousy to worsen her anxiety, Daisy shifted her concentration to the male candidate three seats from ‘Hyacinth’. Upon noting his fresh-faced complexion and loose-fitted suit, Daisy was annoyed that a boy (who couldn’t have been more than eighteen) dare be interviewed for the same job she had dreamed of for the last decade. The poor boy’s anxious fidgeting wasn’t enough to appease Daisy; she resigned herself to the belief she’d lost the job to a millennial.

Devon Parker-Moore!

Off he went. Daisy took a subtle side-glance to her right, hoping to find a new backstory in the candidate two seats over from her. Unfortunately, Daisy’s subtle side-glance became a glare of disgust, as a balding candidate with nineties glasses and a pencil moustache draped his elongated arm over the back of the chair beside her. It was his creepy wink that sent Daisy scrambling out of her seat, handbag clutched tightly to her side, as she rushed to the safety of the water cooler where Nervous Nelly still stood. Daisy wondered whether Nelly was nervous because of the creep, or if it was the long wait for an interview that had her shaking so violently the contents of her cup resembled thrashing, stormy seas.

Chuck Bates!

Although she had to endure his passing perverted stare, Daisy was relieved Creepy Creeperson had vacated the waiting room. Little Devon, on the other hand, appeared less than relieved; he stepped out of the office and froze like a rabbit in headlights.

‘What happened, sweetheart?’ Nervous Nelly placed her full cup of water on top of the cooler and wrapped a comforting arm around little Devon’s shoulders, walking him out through the narrow, disorientating corridor as if guiding a toddler.

Wow.

Daisy felt the need for a stiff drink, though had to settle for water. As she bent over to reach for a fresh cup, her hairspray-hardened top bun tipped the cup on top of the cooler, splashing its entire contents over her skirt. The limited space in her handbag meant Daisy decided against squeezing a packet of tissues into it earlier that morning, and there was nobody around to ask where the toilets were.

Awesome.

‘Everything alright?’ In a cruel twist of fate, handsome Adam emerged from the office and Daisy wished the geometric carpet would swallow her whole.

‘Wow, what happened here?’ Adam stifled a laugh as Daisy noticed him attempt to avert his eyes from her sodden skirt.

Naomi sent Creepy Creeperson away with the icy threat of security, before flipping her demeanour and warmly inviting Daisy to begin her interview.

In contrast to the uninviting waiting room outside, Adam’s executive office had extravagant wooden floors with a backdrop of book-laden shelving, and a stylish white desk in the centre surrounded by luxurious turquoise chairs. Adam and his secretary sat across the desk from Daisy, in front of the wall of books. Daisy felt her fears fade as Adam introduced Naomi as Talia, and the interview began.

‘You two know each other?’ Daisy didn’t appreciate the subconscious look of revulsion that accompanied Talia’s question.

‘Sort of,’ Adam shot a sneaky smile at Daisy, ‘I want to know why you want this job. What made you apply?’

I’ve got this.

‘Well,’ Daisy had prepared for this question, ‘I feel it time for a change. Although I’m a creative person, I get little opportunity to be creative in my current role.’

‘I see,’ Adam rubbed the styled stubble of his chin as Talia tapped notes onto a tablet, ‘and what makes you suited for a career in advertising?’

Yes!

‘I have ample experience on the front line of hospitality, so I know what makes consumers tick and can design successful marketing campaigns around that,’ Daisy hoped her answer didn’t sound recited, parrot-fashion.

‘Fantastic,’ Adam placed both his forearms onto the desk and leaned forward, ‘our biggest clients are high-street fashion and cosmetics brands. What is it about fashion you’re most passionate about?’

Uh oh.

‘I, uh, could I get a glass of water, please?’ Daisy stalled, hoping to think of something to say that wouldn’t declare she’d failed to research the company’s clientele.

‘Talia, water please.’ Adam clicked his fingers at Talia, who immediately jumped out of her seat to do as commanded.

Daisy couldn’t believe what she’d just witnessed. In fact, she was so gobsmacked that she couldn’t assemble an answer to the fashion question.

‘Thanks,’ Daisy’s nail polish flaked again as she took the cup of water from Talia’s perfectly manicured hands.

‘What about cosmetics, have you ever undergone a cosmetic procedure?’ Adam eyed Daisy knowingly, as if he already assumed what her answer would be.

I’ll show them.

‘Actually, I haven’t.’ Daisy forced her words through the sweetest smile she could muster, ‘Unless tattoos count?’

‘You have a tattoo?’ The question, laced with disdain, slipped out before Talia could stop herself.

‘I have three.’

‘We have a strict policy on-’ Adam was obviously uncomfortable as he leaned back and shifted awkwardly in his chair.

‘Oh, don’t worry,’ Daisy looked Adam straight in the eye, ‘my tattoos are only visible when I’m wearing a bathing suit, or less.’

Look at them both, writhing in awkwardness; this’ll tip ‘em over the edge…

‘Though it’s not a problem. I mean, it’s not like you’re ever going to hire me as your first size sixteen underwear model, is it?’ Daisy let out the falsest laugh imaginable.

‘I think that’s all the questions we have. Talia?’ Adam stood up, avoiding all eye contact with Daisy as he rushed around the desk to open the office door.

‘No more questions.’ Daisy could see Talia was desperate to usher her out, stood behind her like a collie herding sheep.

‘You’ll hear from us by the end of the week.’ Adam reluctantly offered his hand to Daisy, who had to wipe his clamminess on her skirt as she walked out the door.

Upon returning to her beloved car, Daisy plonked her head onto the sun-stained steering wheel. She sat there in silence, mulling over the day’s events, wondering whether a career in advertising was worth the condescension.

What the hell was I thinking?

Author, Creative, Reading, Short Story, Writing

Short Story Series – Inheritance

Welcome to my ‘Short Story Series’ 🙂

I frequently ghostwrite short stories, and I write short stories for university assignments as well as for my own amusement. I’ve decided to share some short stories with you, in hope that you’ll enjoy them – and if you’d like to share with me your opinion of these short stories, I’d be grateful!

© D.E. Kendall

Inheritance

D.C. Hayley Pearce begrudgingly pulled up outside a grand Victorian townhouse. She was frustrated to be investigating yet another theft involving the upper-middle-class of London – when there were endless cases more deserving of her skills across the East End – Hayley trudged up the several stone steps and approached an emerald door guarded by imposing Roman pillars.

“Good afternoon,” Hayley forced a warm smile as she flashed her detective badge at the immaculately presented red-haired woman who answered the door, “Are you Mrs Spencer? I’m D.C. Pearce, we spoke on the phone.”

Hayley was invited into the lavishly decorated home of Karen and Peter Spencer; she struggled to maintain focus as she gazed in awe at the gloriously high ceilings from which chandeliers, dripping with multifaceted glass gems, were suspended.

“Can I get you anything to drink?”

The pleasant tones of Karen’s voice snapped the detective from her reverie as she politely declined. Perched on the edge of a decadent corner sofa, Hayley removed a recording device from her pocket and placed it upon the glass coffee table in front of her.

“No pen and paper?” Karen’s tone remained casual as she carefully placed a dish of homemade millionaire’s shortbread on the table, beside Hayley’s recording device.

“Thankfully, we’re a little more sophisticated than Sherlock Holmes,” Hayley’s eyes were on the delicious-looking shortbread before her. “Is Mr Spencer going to be joining us? I require witness statements from you both.”

“Yes, Peter will be with us shortly. He’s running a little late at the office.” Karen mimicked Hayley, her eyes devouring the shortbread she’d obviously denied herself for decades.

“Excellent. Do you mind if we begin?” Hayley activated the recording device upon Karen’s acceptance of the terms.

“I’d been helping Norah, my now sister-in-law, prepare for her wedding for the last year and a half. It’s all been incredibly stressful for her, especially since falling out with her closest friend over bridesmaid dresses six weeks before the big day.”

“Did that friend attend the wedding?”

“Unfortunately not. I heard she was turned away from the hotel.” Karen appeared saddened by the revelation, “Norah asked me to step in as chief bridesmaid after her friend refused to speak with her.”

“Could I have the name of that former friend please?”

“Of course,” Karen declared, “Sally Hensworth.”

“Thank you. How would you describe your relationship with Ms Evans?” Hayley couldn’t resist helping herself to a piece of shortbread, cut into a near-perfect cube.

Karen reeled off a twenty-minute monologue of epic proportions covering every detail of the relationship she had with her sister-in-law, within which she illustrated an affectionate friendship that had lasted the two years they’d known one another. Satisfied that Karen’s speech reflected the opinion of their relationship expressed by Norah, Hayley checked her watch, aware that Peter was nearly half an hour late to their meeting.

“Do you recall Ms Evans wearing her engagement ring upon arrival at the venue, the morning of her wedding?”

“To be perfectly honest, Detective Pearce, I was so focused on helping Norah get ready that I did not notice,” Karen prepared for another theatrical speech, “I did, however, remind her that it was customary to wear the engagement ring on her other hand during the wedding ceremony. Although, I am not certain she agreed. That engagement ring was special to her. It was bequeathed to Alan by he and Peter’s late grandmother, Florence, in her will. Norah never let that ring out of her sight, so I am surprised someone was able to steal it. When she discovered it was missing that evening, I helped her search high and low for it. The poor thing was in such a sorry state.”

“Yes, thank you Mrs Spencer, Ms Evans has already informed us of her version of events.” Hayley was desperately hoping Peter would arrive before Karen went off on another conversational tangent.

The front door was violently flung open, only to be slammed shut moments before a tall gentleman in a business suit, with dishevelled blonde hair, rushed into the room.

“Peter, this is Detective Pearce. I’ll make us some coffee.” Karen disappeared, soon followed by the sound of clanging cups coming from the kitchen.

“Mr Spencer–”

“Please, call me Peter,” he plonked himself onto the seat Karen vacated as he ran a hand through his hair to flatten it.

“Peter,” Hayley forced a false smile; she hated being obliged to forgo formality, “I have a few questions to ask regarding–”

“Yes, yes, I know why you’re here. Sorry, don’t have all afternoon. Got to be back in the office by five for a late meeting. What do you need to know?”

“First, I have to get on record your compliance with the use of this recording dev–” Hayley also hated being interrupted.

“Yes, it’s fine. I’m happy to be recorded. Please, carry on.” Peter shoved three small cubes of shortbread into his mouth simultaneously.

“Coffee!” Karen cheerfully announced as she placed a tray on the table, insisting Hayley have a coffee with cream and two sugars despite her repeated attempts to decline.

“If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the kitchen loading the dishwasher.” Karen pecked her husband on the cheek before she disappeared into the kitchen once more – the clashing and smashing about of plates and cutlery suggested her inexperience at loading the dishwasher.

“Alright,” Hayley composed herself, “I understand that your brother, Mr Alan Spencer, inherited an heirloom from your grandmother that he gifted to Ms Evans when he proposed to her. Why didn’t you inherit it? After all, you were the eldest of her grandchildren.”

“Didn’t want it.” Peter’s tone was blunt, “I married Karen fifteen years ago, while Alan only met Norah two years ago. Gran died three months before Alan proposed to Norah, so it made sense for her to have it.”

“Were you angered by that?”

“What, by the fact my brother gave his girlfriend a ring our Gran had worn continuously for sixty years without getting it cleaned first? Of course not.” Peter stuffed a further three shortbread squares into his mouth.

“Did you see Ms Evans wearing the ring on the day of the wedding?”

“Like I’d pay that much attention to her,” Peter scoffed, “I was busy organising the groomsmen, then Karen sent me home to fetch her hairspray. Apparently, she couldn’t cope without it. She had every aspect of the wedding organised, yet still managed to add to my to-do list.”

“So, you left the venue to retrieve your wife’s hairspray from home the morning of the wedding?”

“Yes,” Peter spoke to Hayley as though she were a child, “I left the hotel to collect the hairspray for my wife because, apparently, it’s the only one that holds her hair in place all day. She was too busy helping with Norah’s dress to leave, so, I got it for her. Hotel’s only a ten-minute drive away.”

“I see.” Hayley smiled, though itched to snap at the witness who was more focused on finding a napkin than answering questions, “And did you notice anyone who shouldn’t have been there as you were leaving or returning to the venue?”

“As a matter of fact,” Peter scratched his head as if rekindling lost memory, “there was some woman, dressed to the nines, protesting to a doorman that she was on the guest list as I returned. Apparently, she worked with Norah, which wouldn’t surprise me as they looked identical, but the doorman insisted she wasn’t allowed in. Said her name was Sarah, or Sandra ‘Chickenfirth’, or something like that.”

“Sally Hensworth?”

“That’s the one.”

Hayley thought it suspicious that Peter didn’t know who the woman was, yet he could recall the name when prompted. Peter’s late arrival and subsequent agitation concerned Hayley too; she longed to turn the collection of witness statements into an interrogation, though hadn’t the evidence to do so.

D.C. Pearce thanked Peter for his time, and he sent her on her way – though Hayley couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right.

* * *

Two days later, unsatisfied by the witness statements provided by Peter and Karen, Hayley set up a meeting at the station to speak to Alan alone; the only time they’d spoken was in the presence of his distraught wife.

“Thank you for agreeing to speak to me.” Hayley gestured for the smartly dressed solicitor to take a seat across the desk in her boxlike, cluttered office.

“No problem,” Alan straightened his tie with one hand, holding the other out for Hayley to shake, “I’m keen to find my grandmother’s ring, it means the world to my wife.”

“It states here,” Hayley opened a manila file and ran a finger along its contents to find the information she wanted to confirm, “the ring was worth approximately forty-thousand pounds. Is that correct?”

“That is correct, yes. We had it valued when my grandmother passed away.”

“And how did your brother react when you inherited your grandmother’s ring?”

“He was furious.”

Hayley could see Alan didn’t want to delve into an explanation as he looked down to adjust his cufflinks, though she needed to know more. “You failed to mention that when we spoke previously. Why?”

“My wife doesn’t know.”

Hayley remained silent to allow Alan to elaborate.

“If Norah knew she’d be heartbroken. She’s aware Pete never liked her. He thought she was a gold digger – she’s ten years younger than me and worked in a backstreet salon in Hackney. But Norah had no idea Pete contested the will when he discovered I’d inherited the ring. She thinks she’s finally been accepted into the family. Although Karen has made a real effort with Norah, Pete never hides his reservations. The ring was the extent of my inheritance, while Pete was left Gran’s holiday cottage in the Cotswolds.”

“Is it true that you and your brother fought just two weeks before your wedding?”

“Yes,” Alan looked up from his cufflinks to meet Hayley’s emotionless gaze, “he got dreadfully drunk at my stag party. Pete started slurring accusations about Norah, suggesting she’d stolen Gran’s beloved diamond ring from Karen and that marrying her was a mistake. He refused to believe that Norah keeping her maiden name was a gesture to reassure my family that she wasn’t marrying me for my money.”

* * *

Four weeks later, the three-carat solitaire diamond ring was discovered on an internet auction site, and the profile that posted it was traced to an IP address; Hayley had the proof she needed.

Racing up the several stone steps towards the Spencers’ front door – with backup of two uniformed officers – Hayley was prepared for impending conflict.

Repeatedly bashing on the ruby door didn’t rouse a response, so Hayley threatened to break the door down on the count of three.

“I’m here, I’m here!” Peter emerged with his hands in the air, “Please don’t damage the door, I just had it repainted.”

“Peter Lyle Spencer, you are under arrest for the theft of–”

Wait!” Karen’s voice bellowed from deep inside the Victorian townhouse.

Hayley and her colleagues ignored Karen’s dramatic cries as they span Peter around and slapped handcuffs onto his wrists.

“It was me. I did it. Please, take me instead.” Karen held her wrists together, palms upturned, looking to her shoes as she accepted her fate.

“No, sweetheart, don’t–” Peter’s pleas weren’t enough to prevent his wife from confessing.

Karen admitted to stealing the ring while Norah was panicking about a stain on her wedding dress – a stain Karen had covertly planted to cause a kerfuffle. She then handed the ring, hidden in a hair scrunchie, to her husband to ferry home under the guise of retrieving hairspray. Jealous that Norah had inherited the diamond ring she’d long admired, Karen acknowledged that she could never wear it without being disowned by her family. Therefore, she listed it for sale a few weeks later, without realising D.C. Pearce was still on the case.

Author, Creative, Fiction, Reading, Short Story, Writing

Short Story Series – The Stolen Book

Welcome to my ‘Short Story Series’ 🙂

I frequently ghostwrite short stories, and I write short stories for university assignments as well as for my own amusement. I’ve decided to share some short stories with you, in hope that you’ll enjoy them – and if you’d like to share with me your opinion of these short stories, I’d be grateful!

© D.E. Kendall

The Stolen Book

Lana stole a look at the bar over the pages of Affinity, her latest literary purchase. The bar’s cluttered appearance somehow added to its charm, with rustic cask ale pull taps, mirrored shelves laden with dusty spirit bottles, and her.

‘Good book, luv?’

Snapped unexpectedly from her reverie, Lana dropped her book and accidentally dipped a sleeve of her designer blouse in her latte as she fumbled to catch the paperback.

‘Sorry, luv, didn’t mean to scare ya.’

Rory slapped the back of the ancient wooden chair Lana was sitting on. She scowled at the woodworm-infested oak table her coffee-soaked arm was resting upon before turning to face the enemy. ‘It’s alright.’

Lana was as unnerved by his yellow-toothed, gappy smile as she was by the light bouncing off his balding, middle-aged head. As far as leering men were concerned, Lana was thankful that this one was at the less threatening end of the spectrum.

‘New book?’ Rory almost sloshed his half-a-pint of flat, amber liquid on Lana’s shoulder as he leaned over her to ogle her cleavage under the pretence that he cared what she was reading.

‘Um, yes,’ Lana shifted uncomfortably as the letch’s foul breath lingered, cutting through her personal space. ‘Tt’s by Sarah Waters, have you heard of her?’

Assuming that Rory didn’t read – he may not have been able to for all she knew – Lana hoped that’d be enough to get rid of him.

‘Can’t say I ‘ave, no…’ he seemed briefly contemplative. ‘Say, luv, why ain’t a nice girl like you home with the mister? You gotta ‘ave better things to do on a Monday night.’

‘I like the coffee here, I like the atmosphere,’ Lana vividly recalled having almost the exact same conversation with the man last week, ‘and it’s on my way home from work.’

‘Speakin’ of drinks, can I buy ya one?’

Smooth, she concluded.

‘Need a top-up there, Smythe?’ Alys’ melodic tones were enough to send Lana’s heart thundering, and turn her ears red.

‘Aye, luv!’

Lana felt an increasing sense of relief each step Rory took away from her as he made his unsteady journey towards the bar.

Alys collected a few stray glasses from a neighbouring table. Lana couldn’t help but turn to the source of clinking and clashing, gazing unnoticed while subconsciously tucking her hair behind her ears – as if it’d help her see more clearly, and cool her crimson complexion. Captivated by the cheerful barmaid, everything about Alys lifted Lana’s spirits: those flowy, patterned, knee-length dresses she always wore, even in winter; her brightly-coloured tights; her heavy, deep-soled, shiny black shoes; her half-shaven, half-pixie-cut hairstyle that was currently dyed blue; her shimmering red lips forming the trademark smile that never failed to brighten Lana’s day; and that nose ring Lana wanted for herself but never had the courage to get. The confidence Alys exuded opposed all that society had taught Lana to be – she often wondered whether her conventional fashion sense, tall, slim frame, and high heels ever inspired such a glance from Alys. A moment spent beyond those dark brown eyes and thick, winged eyeliner would make putting up with a thousand leering men worthwhile, Lana frequently thought.

Catching her by surprise, Alys asked Lana if she was enjoying her coffee and whether she wanted anything else. A flustered ‘No thanks,’ followed by an escape to the Ladies’ allowed Lana to avoid any awkwardness and take a minute to compose herself.

Thankful that the bar wasn’t too busy, Lana returned to her seat, only to discover her book was missing. Oddly, if someone had stolen her book for profit, they had completely ignored her expensive, lightweight jacket with her nearly new smartphone in the pocket.

Scanning the area, all she noted was Alys serving Rory another pint from behind the bar as he hunched over in an attempt to invade her personal space. The sizeable stone pillar in the centre of the pub, separating the bar from the tiny restaurant area, blocked her view beyond the small collection of tables dotted around the faded ruby and gold flecked carpet. All Lana could see was a pair of suit-clad businessmen huddled over a hefty-looking laptop.

Just in case the perp might be hiding there, Lana amused herself by checking the imposing fireplace to the right of her table. If the summer weather wasn’t enough to give away the fact, Lana ascertained that the fireplace hadn’t been lit for quite some time – owing to the scent of aged ash it emitted.

Smiling to herself as she enjoyed playing detective for a minute, Lana decided that despite her reservations regarding the floor’s hygiene – and the concern about creasing her palazzo trousers – she had to get down on all fours to clamber under the table in search of her missing book.

‘Everything okay?’

‘Ouch!’

‘Sorry, didn’t mean for that to happen,’ one of those suited businessmen stood beside the table, ‘I saw you dive under the table and wanted to check everything was alright.’

‘I’m fine, thank you.’

He offered a helping hand to Lana, which she didn’t accept, opting instead for the assistance of the nearest chair to pull herself to her feet.

‘I lost the book I was reading, that’s all,’ she smiled politely, avoiding eye contact as she pretended to be checking the floor for any sign of her book.

‘I’m Devon, by the way,’ he reached out a hand once again, ‘Devon Charles.’

‘Lana Myers.’

Subtlety didn’t work, so Lana decided to go for the blunt approach instead. Rarely did men like Devon continue on their path of intrusion if they met with such resistance.

‘I work in the city, here on business.’

Shooting a swift half-smile at Devon, Lana’s eyes darted about the pub as she panned for the best escape route. However, her lack of response only spurred Devon on.

‘I’m staying here for a couple of nights with my colleague, Alan,’ Alan reacted to Devon’s gesturing toward him with a wave, ‘we like the coastal setting. Nice views. So, do you come here often?’

‘Yes.’

If it weren’t mid-summer, icicles would have offered a softer response. Lana started shuffling items around in her handbag as if searching for car keys.

‘Hello, Mr. Mayhew!’

Saved by the belle, thought Lana.

‘Oh, I’m not Mayhew, I’m Devon Charles.’

‘Terribly sorry.’ Alys shot a cheeky smile at Lana, whose knees weakened to such an extent that she slunk into the battered, old chair beneath her. ‘I need to check something; it’s to do with your room. Would you mind popping over to the bar with me a sec?’

Visibly disappointed that his attempt at courtship had been thwarted, Devon reluctantly bid Lana farewell before following Alys to the bar.

Taking a deep, cleansing breath, grateful that she no longer had to share her personal space with a man, Lana engaged in an internal debate as to whether she should buy another latte to drink in the beer garden – away from the testosterone floating around the bar. The search for her purse was disturbed, however, by a familiar voice.

‘I hear you’ve lost a book?’

Turning to take in a rotund figure with a friendly face, Lana was pleased she wasn’t being harassed by yet another middle-aged man.

‘Hi, Cathy! How are you?’

They shared a hug before Cathy continued the interrogation.

‘Never mind that. Can’t have one of my finest patrons losing their stuff on my watch, in my pub. Even if she never buys alcohol…’

‘You know I can’t, Cathy.’ Lana knew Cathy was speaking in jest, though couldn’t prevent that pang of sadness that accompanied any thought of her late father.

‘I know, I know. I’m just messin’ with you,’ Cathy placed a comforting hand on Lana’s shoulder, ‘Now Missy, when did you last see that book of yours?’

Within ten minutes, there was a full-blown, pub-wide investigation into the case of the missing book. Lana couldn’t help but feel embarrassed by the fuss her oldest family friend was making, but then, Cathy was somewhat of a motherly figure to her since Lana’s mother disowned her when Lana was just twenty-one. Sometimes, Lana considered telling Cathy her secret, though the thought of losing her friendship was too devastating to contemplate. Of course, the alternative was Cathy trying to set Lana up with her niece, but Lana had never been much of a gambler.

‘I sha-haw her re-heeding it yonder,’ Rory slurred in response to Cathy’s questioning.

‘I noticed the young lady almost dropping the book in her tea when he startled her.’ Alan answered, with an accusatory finger pointing directly at Rory.

‘Don’t ya go pointin’ those manucurried digeds at me!’ Rory flopped off of the barstool and wobbled to his feet, swaying slightly as he tried his utmost to point a finger at Alan – failing miserably on account of beer-induced double-vision.

‘How dare you threaten my business partner like that?!’ Devon attempted to demonstrate his masculinity by standing up for his slightly shorter colleague.

‘Come on ‘en!’ Rory’s chubby fingers suddenly clasped into fists as he stumbled forward with the effort of his threat.

‘Let’s calm it down, fellas,’ Cathy’s authoritative tone was usually enough to suspend alcohol-addled spats, ‘I just need to know what happened to this young lady’s new book. Now, what did anyone else see?’

As Lana and Cathy turned to talk to an elderly bystander – who didn’t know what happened to the book but wanted to hear the day’s specials – a kerfuffle broke out between Rory, Devon, and Alan.

A chef who had been minding the bar rushed over in attempt to prise the drunken brawlers apart. Cathy got stuck in too, as soon as one of her beloved antique bar stools got knocked over.

‘Where the hell is Alys?!’ Cathy shouted, tactfully dodging an errant hand.

‘She… she…’ Maurice the chef struggled to answer as he almost took a shoe to the face, ‘she went to ch… change a barrel, then she went on b… break. Whoa man, watch it!’

Lana didn’t know what to do. The closest she ever came to such a scene was having to deal with a situation during last year’s Black Friday Sales at the department store she worked at involving two women who fought over the last pair of high-end, bargain-price hair straighteners.

Kicking, hitting, and elbow-jabbing intensified as thudding sounds resounded about the pub, drawing an audience to the scene. Since it resembled something out of an old American western movie, Lana channelled inspiration from that and took the first action that sprung to mind; she grabbed a pitcher of iced water from the bar and threw it over the assailants, accidentally splashing Cathy and Maurice in the process.

Expletives flew about the once quaint pub as all five adults reacted irritably to Lana’s snap-decision.

‘Sorry,’ Lana’s cheeks resembled mini beetroots, ‘I didn’t know what to do and was afraid someone would get hurt.’

The atmosphere calmed as the crowd of spectators dispersed, and those remaining on the scene guffawed.

‘Look, Cathy,’ Lana stepped aside out of earshot of the others, indicating for Cathy to join her, ‘I’m sorry things got so out of hand. It’s just a book; honestly, it’s no big deal. Please let the issue go.’

‘Alright love,’ Cathy put an arm around the shoulders of her unofficial daughter, ‘you get home, and I’ll get this all cleaned up. Seems these gentlemen can’t control themselves around you.’

Very funny.’

Cathy always knew how to put Lana at ease.

‘Thank you.’

‘No worries,’ Cathy started the clean-up operation as she lifted the fallen bar stool, ‘now get gone, before I have you barred from my pub!’

After a final, fleeting hug with Cathy, Lana collected her remaining belongings. Rushing out of the door, Lana refused to cave into the curiosity daring her to look back at the carnage she was leaving behind.

Stepping outside into the refreshingly salty air, Lana admired her surroundings for a moment. Beams of light from the day’s sunset glinted off the calm, kinetic peaks of the sea. Small fishing boats creaked in the harbour as gentle waves lapped against the harbour wall. A solitary seagull cawed overhead as it flew by. Then, Lana lost all sense of her surroundings as she tripped over something left in the middle of the pathway.

Swiftly scrabbling to her feet, brushing remnants of sand from her once pristine clothing, Lana’s embarrassment faded the second she saw what she’d tripped over – Affinity.

Collecting her book from the ground, Lana was puzzled. How on earth did my book get here?

Upon opening the book, Lana discovered an inscription: 06222100723 – Alys <3

Awestruck, Lana shook her head as if to reset her brain, in case what was happening was a dream. Yet to her delight, the inscription was real. Lana turned back to look through a window of The Coastside Inn. There, framed by blossoming clematis climbing the pub walls, stood behind the bar, was Alys – beaming back at her.

Author, Creative, Fiction, Short Story, Writing

Short Story Series – The Keys

Welcome to my ‘Short Story Series’ 🙂

I frequently ghostwrite short stories, and I write short stories for university assignments as well as for my own amusement. I’ve decided to share some short stories with you, in hope that you’ll enjoy them – and if you’d like to share with me your opinion of these short stories, I’d be grateful!

© D.E. Kendall

The Keys

There, on the forest path, lay a bunch of keys. Their metal glinted in sunlight as it broke through the canopy of trees above. I halted my horse, dismounted, then bent down to pick them up.

Suddenly, an inexplicable wave of anticipation overcame me – my horse must have felt it too, as she spooked. Holding tightly to her reins, I comforted her, placed a hand gently on her shoulder so she knew everything was ok. Her muscles stopped tensing, and within moments she’d returned to nudging the pocket of my fluorescent riding jacket in hope of a treat. As she snuffled expectantly at my hand, the keys jangled. I assumed they belonged to someone who’d been hiking or cycling – these were not car keys, they most definitely opened doors of some description.

Judging by how clean the keys were, I assumed they hadn’t been on the forestry floor for more than a few minutes. Though I would have a look around for their owner, first I thought I’d better take photograph in case I’d need to hand the keys over to the police and launch a social media search for the keys’ owner. However, when I got my smartphone out to take a photo, the battery had died. Strange, since it had been on 76% just before we set off twenty minutes ago.

Moments before leaving, I’d reassured my boyfriend I’d charged my smartphone. After getting lost for hours on a ride a few weeks previously, when my smartphone battery ran out and left me without maps or means to contact anyone, he was worried.

I didn’t dwell on the fact my three-month-old smartphone had stopped working and stuffed the keys into one of my jacket pockets, not forgetting to give my noble steed a treat before zipping up the pocket and mounting once more. We trotted quietly along the path in search of the keys’ owner. The footfall in that section of the forest was usually substantial, since the area was as accessible as it was beautiful. I expected it to be busy on a gloriously crisp autumn morning as that one was; however, all was silent. No crowds, no birdsong, no breeze rustling the canopy of browning leaves. Odd.

We increased our speed to a canter as I hoped to find someone near the entrance-exit point of the forestry car park a small incline away. As Belle and I emerged over the brow of the hill, we were perplexed to find nobody there either. I slowed Belle to a walk, and she relished the opportunity to snack on brambles laden with blackberries as I looked around in attempt to find someone.

I managed to direct my horse away from the blackberries, stifling a giggle as I noticed her muzzle was covered in dark purple splodges. Suddenly, something stole her attention. Her every muscle tensed in response to whatever she could sense. As I leant down to pat her neck, I could feel how rigid her muscles had become – something must have really frightened her. Soothing my panic-stricken horse as I best I could with my voice, I tried to urge Belle onwards. Even scratching her favourite itchy spot beneath her flaxen mane didn’t snap her out of it.


‘What’s the matter, girl?’ I asked, hoping for some sort of positive reaction.


The second I sat upright, Belle snorted, spooked, and took off at a flat-out gallop – completely out-of-character for her. My attempts to deter Belle from her determined dash away from whatever upset her were in vain. With knuckles as white as my complexion must’ve been, I held onto the reins more tightly than I ever had before.

Adrenaline coursed through her veins as Belle thrashed her way along paths we’d never encountered. She seemed lacking in her usual sure-footedness, slipping and tripping now and again – almost flinging me from the saddle twice.

Belle’s thundering hooves tore through muddy forest bridleways and crunched orangey-brown carpets of fallen leaves. I ducked instinctively, barely escaping low-hanging branches that came at my head faster than I could think.

We reached a brand-new bridlepath accompanied by the sounds of rushing water – in all the years I’d ridden Belle around the forestry, I’d never come across a river. Fear rose exponentially within me as we galloped onto a terrifyingly narrow pathway with a sheer drop to the left and vertical rock slope to the right. I kept trying to stop Belle, which made the situation worse as she stumbled a few times, almost unseating me. Belle never normally stumbled.

I made the mistake of looking down into the chasm below. Watching water gush alongside us as we continued our uncontrollable charge was like staring death right in the face. That’s the moment I decided to say, ‘Not today.’

Taking deep, cleansing breaths, I chose not to let fear control my actions any longer. I lightened my hold on Belle’s reins and stopped panicking, giving myself time to remember that my horse was initially trained using voice commands.

As if by magic, Belle slowed to a trot, then gradually calmed to a walk. Leaning over to check how sweaty she’d become, it was quite the shock to discover that Belle hadn’t broken a sweat whatsoever.

At that moment, a wind-chime-like sound jingled from my pocket. I rummaged for the keys, and as they emerged, I noted there was one missing – though it couldn’t have slipped from my pocket. So, I inspected the remaining keys more closely.

There was a word engraved on each key; Adversity, Comparison, Doubt. And on the pristine white keyring binding those keys was text that read, ‘For happiness to your life fulfil, inner-conflict you must kill.’ Beneath was a list containing each word engraved on the keys, along with the word Fear – which had a strikethrough.

Adventure, Animals, Author, Ghostwriting, Nature, Uncategorized, Writing

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Hi Everyone,

I’m sorry I haven’t written a blog post for a while, though I have been *super* busy.

I hope you’re enjoying the festive season, despite COVID-19 pandemic restrictions 🙂

There’s been a lot happening in the world of D.E. Kendall!

First of all, the lovely laptop I inherited from my late grandmother sadly stopped working :'( Thankfully, I’d already saved all my work on a back-up hard-drive. Therefore, I had to find the right laptop to replace it. I found a really pretty (pink!) Acer Swift that is performing well so far – though the last couple of months have meant extra hours of work catching up on the two weeks I didn’t have a laptop. I did take the opportunity to enjoy spending time with my boyfriend, dog, and horses; as well as writing my own novels (that have been neglected lately thanks to such a busy schedule) – which helped me take a much-needed break, even though I was anxious because I wasn’t getting any university or ghostwriting/proofreading work done 🙂

I also had my hair cut, then a couple of weeks later added a splash of colour 🙂

I dressed as a witch for Halloween and discovered Mary Higgins-Clark novels…

The weather got freeeezing cold, so I have spent the last two months or so working in a blanket or in the living room near a radiator! I also dealt with some crippling writer’s block and headaches from staring at screens for too long without a break. Thankfully, I took the advice of loved ones on board, and those issues soon resolved 🙂

I also moved in with my boyfriend, so life has been exciting and more positive than it has been for many, many years – for which I am infinitely thankful 🙂 Fast-forward to Christmas – it looked pretty different this year due to pandemic restrictions, though was magical not only because it was my first Christmas living with my boyfriend, but also because I was too poorly to enjoy any of it or see anyone last year when I was struck down with a ‘B-strain’ of flu according to my GP (which I now believe was possibly the coronavirus, it was just misdiagnosed because it hadn’t been as well researched by then!). Here are some photographs of us over the last couple of weeks… 🙂

Aside from my already hectic home life, I plan to complete more writing projects of my own this year, between two second-year university modules and plenty of ghostwriting/proofreading work – I am definitely looking forward to lots of new literary adventures…

Wishing you a wonderful 2021 🙂

Sending lots of love! <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Author, Ghostwriting, Uncategorized, Writing

About My Profession

Hi, hope life is treating you kindly 🙂

I have been inspired to write this blog post after a wave of requests to write for potential clients either for free or for a drastically reduced fee. I love helping others however I can – within reason.

Without writing, almost every form of entertainment would cease to exist. From the films and TV shows you love to your favourite songs and beloved books, writing surrounds us every day of our lives. Who do you think provides you with that content? Please take a moment to consider what your life would be devoid of, without the power of the written word.

Although I am currently studying towards BA (Hons) English Literature and Creative Writing (and thoroughly enjoying it!) to improve my capabilities, qualifications do not automatically determine a person as ‘a professional’. It is the dedication to their craft, their phenomenal work ethic, and the willingness to continuously improve their skills to provide their clients with the highest standards of service that make a person a professional. Whether they are driven to pursue their dreams by passion or to provide for themselves/their families through necessity, a person who strives to do the best they possibly can is a professional.

I am proud to be able to regard myself as a professional writer. While I am capable of completing a range of publishing processes, writing has always been a passion. I suppose I can understand why some people may not acknowledge writing as a profession; after all, it is a seemingly unattainable dream for so many – perhaps even akin to winning the lottery. Though just because you love what you do for a living, that doesn’t make it any less hard work, nor does that make it any less deserving of respect. I have worked for employers since leaving school, and while I have learned countless invaluable lessons along the way, never have I been so happy as when I am writing (aside from when I used to be able to ride horses for a living!). After over a decade of working to other people’s schedules, rules, and targets, I eventually took a leap of faith into the unknown as I decided life was too short not to do something I am passionate about to earn a living.

Loving what I do doesn’t make the work any easier. A myth people seem to be misled by is that the moment you start doing something you love for a living is the day you never have to work again – they couldn’t be more wrong! In fact, despite having a naturally great work ethic, I’ve found I work harder than I ever have since becoming a full-time writer. It is wonderful, I’ll wholeheartedly admit that I relish the opportunity to bring others’ fantastical stories to life – yet writing isn’t without its struggles. It’s normal for me to work in excess of 12 hours a day, every day of the week, often earning far less than the equivalent of minimum wage. Working hours aside, the level of powerful creative energy that goes into forging your literary masterpiece can be physically and emotionally draining. Added to that is a lack of financial stability that accompanies the writing profession; I don’t know what I’m going to earn one month to the next. The prospect of instability is indeed terrifying, though perhaps more terrifying for writers such as myself is wasting precious time in a job that doesn’t bring us joy. For that reason, I work with my clients’ budgets in an attempt to make their literary dreams come true too, as well as completing writing work for charities for free when I have time. I really do try my best to help everyone I can, but I have bills to pay and mouths to feed – I cannot afford to apologise for turning away clients who wish to utilise my skills without paying for my time.       

Millions dream of becoming published authors, whether for fortune and fame or simply the accolade of having accomplished this most impressive of feats. In which case, it is beyond comprehension that anyone who realises how amazing it is to be able to publish your stories, ideas, and memories for the world to read could also feel comfortable requesting a professional in the publishing industry achieves that life ambition for them, gratis.

My “Are you serious?!” expression, which accompanies every request to work for free…

I’m not cold-hearted; I completely understand that lack of money is a barrier for so much in life. Heck, I know first-hand how difficult it can be just to get by, let alone invest in a dream! Which is the very reason I am so flexible regarding my writing services. I realise how significant an impact it can have to be able to share your story with the world, as well as how devastating it can be when it seems an impossibility. I admit I have completed a lot of publishing work for free, simply to see the smile on someone’s face when they see their work in print. I wish I could help everyone achieve this; I really do – because that feeling of holding your very own book in your hands is truly magical. Though until I either write worldwide bestselling novels that provide unlimited fortune and time, or I win the lottery, I have no choice but to charge for my work.

You wouldn’t expect a supermarket to give you your grocery shop for free, nor would you feel comfortable with bartering the price of say a haircut, designer shoes, or bus ride – so why should anyone expect professionals of the arts, literary and otherwise, to provide their services for free?

I would love to help make your literary dreams come true – I will go above and beyond to achieve that for you – but please, don’t expect me to do so for free. Please don’t be insulted if I’m unable to invest time in your project, should you be unable to invest in me.

Please, appreciate the arts and respect the requirement for literary and artistic professionals to be paid fairly for their creative endeavours on your behalf 🙂

Essay complete! Thanks for reading <3

Thank you to all those who support my profession <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Author, Mental Health Awareness, Nature, Writing

About Stress

Heyy Friends, I hope all is well with you 🙂

So, it has been an inordinate amount of time since my last blog post – my apologies to those of you who enjoy them! However, as the title of this post suggests, things have been stressful. You might want to get yourself a lovely cup of tea and some super chocolaty biscuits, because this is going to be one lengthy rant (sorry!)…

Cannot remember whether I mentioned previously the whole car debacle – in case I haven’t, here it is: I purchased a second-hand car six weeks ago. It was mechanically sound, drove nicely, and was reasonably priced. Then, en route home, the damn thing started playing up. I’m definitely not the most confident driver, and I prefer to drive automatic cars because they’re more comfortable with my hand injury, so when the stupid thing kept slipping out of ‘Auto’ mode and getting stuck in first gear, that wasn’t helpful. It broke down at least three times in two days. The lady I bought it from kindly offered to take it back and refund the money, but I’m aware the lady is a single mother with three young children who needed a car – so I didn’t feel it was the right thing to do to burden her with it; I told her I’d keep it and get it sorted out, so she didn’t have to worry about it. To be fair to the lady, she was extremely helpful in trying to contact the previous owner in attempt to get him to pay the repair costs – he didn’t, but she made sure our complaint about the car was heard, which I really appreciated. After having two mechanics look at the car, as a last-ditch attempt to get the damn thing sorted, I searched for a local diagnostics garage; luckily, the one I found has been fantastic. Although they’ve had the car a total of four weeks (out of the six weeks I’ve owned the thing), despite their generosity and doing a lot of work on it for free, after I spent hundreds of pounds getting it fixed, we had a discussion today in which they felt it isn’t reliable enough for me – it just wouldn’t put up with the type of use I’d be expecting of it. The car drives superbly, it’s just more suited to someone wanting to travel around town as opposed to long distances through country lanes and over pot-holed farm driveways. Thankfully, the garage have kindly offered to try selling it on for me, though I am going to have to accept a huge loss on what was supposed to be a positive, lifestyle-changing investment. I am now on the lookout for a pink automatic, because I have decided I’m not compromising on the colour of car I’d love; I’ll let you know when I find my perfect car (which I am determined to do, even if it takes a while!). In the meantime, please enjoy this photograph of the number plate omen that I completely missed 🙂

Check out the number plate omen I initially missed!

Moving on from stressful cars, there was a sudden explosion of ragwort in the horses’ field last week. Probably the hot, wet weather – but ragwort is severely toxic to horses so has to be removed from grazing pasture. Therefore, spent hours pulling ragwort with my family and some friends with horses at the yard; which was stressful when the horses kept trying to nibble at the plants, thinking it was some sort of treat we were shoving into bags! Eventually, after much sweat, blood (from brambles, mostly), and tears (from stinging nettles and having flying insects attack us), we got the job done 🙂

I’ve had a heck of a lot of work lately – which is beyond wonderful! However, I continue to fail at time management. This is a constant strain on my physicality (i.e. headaches from staring at screens non-stop) as well as my mentality (i.e. not taking breaks, even on weekends, which leads to random debilitating anxiety attacks). I love my job, I truly do. I am infinitely thankful to be able to do something I love for a living, especially after the up-and-down experiences of working for companies. I’ve also just received the first batch of study materials in preparation for my uni course re-commencing in October – I adore learning, though my gosh are these some enormous textbooks!

I am failing miserably at fulfilling my own sense of self, in that I am continuously putting myself down and piling on my to-do list – instead of heeding my own advice by taking even a moment to be proud of my achievements and actually reap the rewards I’ve earned. My constant state of stress is stressing out my loved ones too, which is what bothers me most of all. This is where that good old adage “do as I say, not as I do” comes into force! I’m going to re-visit the fantastic advice given by family, friends, and kind social media strangers a while ago when I posted about this sort of thing on my personal social media pages – I am determined to fight my anxious tendencies and will learn to trust in my own abilities, as a writer and as a human being. And I promise to let you know exactly how I do that the second of its discovery 🙂

My attempt at re-capturing a positive sense of self, when I didn’t put any products whatsoever on my face the other day – and realised how much the sun had caught my face whilst ragwort pulling!

Whilst you’re awaiting a positive, life-affirming blog post from me, I hope you’ll be enchanted by these photographs I’ve taken over the last few weeks (the numbered photo collage depicts a change in light over a few seconds, taken during a lightning strike a few days ago). I do love nature, and photography 🙂

If you’ve made it to here, please reward yourself with your favourite sweet treat – thank you! I hope, at the very least, my blog post has given you a human insight into the world of a ghostwriter… 🙂

Take care of yourself <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Animals, Author, Mental Health Awareness, Uncategorized, Writing

On the Importance of Self-Care

Heyy, hope you’re well 🙂

Self-care sounds so indulgent, like it’s some sort of ethereal gift allowed only on special occasions – well, that’s what it seems to me anyway. I take care of my personal hygiene (perhaps a little too much, given my OCD for cleanliness), exercise, eat as healthily as I can and manage my responsibilities, but rarely do I spend time truly enjoying my own company.

Here’s what Google has to say about the definition of self-care:

The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress. “expressing oneself is an essential form of self-care”

I love my family (including the animals!), I love my boyfriend, and I love my friends, so any time I can I spend soaking up their company and making the most of that ‘togetherness’ we’ve all been without for so long (although sadly, we can’t yet see all our family and friends in person). For me, this is a form of self-care, because I relish being surrounded by loved ones.

When alone, however, I am absolutely rubbish at taking breaks whilst I’m working. I get so absorbed by what I’m doing, that I just let time run away with me; then when I’ve stopped working, all I can do is plan and think about work. On the surface, this is great in terms of productivity – because I am a perfectionist, I try my best to create quality, meaningful content, so being able to get projects completed in a timely fashion is a great feeling. Unfortunately, in the long run I find myself physically and emotionally drained all.the.time.

On Monday I decided this is no longer sustainable. I had to get my backside in gear and organise myself properly if I’m to make the most of my life. I’m missing out on a heck of a lot because I’m so damn focused on earning money to keep my animals, and my everyday life, going. I am fed up of living in a constant state of anxious stress. I admit, having my new car stranded in a garage for the last week after it broke down three times within the first two days of owning it has done nothing to help my anxiety or stress levels… Though I took my first steps toward enjoying myself more by making time to enjoy riding my horses and walking my dog instead of just doing so for exercise, I spent quality time cwtched with my boyfriend as we ate great food, watched films and celebrated being together for a whole year; and I actually read a book for fun as opposed to just reading for work or studying.

Taking time to breathe in your life is not a luxury, it is vital.

Making time to nurture your mental and physical well-being is allowed.

Please, don’t ever feel guilty for wanting to make the most of time for yourself.

Self-care is different for each of us. So, here is a brilliant article by Anna Borges that might help you along the path of contentment & if you’d like further advice, you can find some here from mental health charity Mind.

Take care of your self <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Author, Uncategorized, Writing

About Dealing with Rejection

Hi Everyone, hope you’re all well 🙂

Ok, so I’ve decided to write about dealing with rejection. The literary world is absolutely saturated with it, although it tends to be something we don’t prepare for.

You may already be aware that your writing will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but are you ready to be told that by a literary agent or publishing company?

Rejection is horrible, no-matter the circumstance. We wish for our writing to be loved by every reader and we want people to truly enjoy our hard work. However, the unfortunate reality is that not every reader will fall in love with our writing, let alone enjoy our efforts to entertain or educate them. But something society never tells us is that rejection is healthy. If everybody loved your writing, nobody could ever be your biggest fan. Without rejection, we aren’t given opportunity to learn and improve. Given that well-known adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, if everyone believes your writing is awesome, then why would you strive to make it even better? In such an instance, it wouldn’t be long before readers became bored of your work and seek out the next great author – you have a favourite song, though no-matter how amazing its composition is, you aren’t going to keep listening to that song on repeat when there are billions more out there just waiting to be discovered. Keeping your writing fresh is vital to achieving literary success.

Here is my process for dealing with rejection…

1.) Accept your feelings.

There’s absolutely no point trying to be stoic about it. Someone said they disliked a piece of writing you’ve poured your heart and soul into for months, if not years – you are allowed to feel crappy. It is acceptable to address your disappointment with some ice cream, or a walk, or whatever other way you deal with rejection in other areas of your life. Allow yourself time to deal with self-esteem-destroying rejection in the way you’ve found works best for you. We are all human. At the end of the day, if you try to suppress those feelings of anguish and disappointment, they will inevitably pop up later down the line, causing you to feel worse. Let it out, feel however you need to, then let it go. It is important to mention here that absolutely every writer past, present, and future has or will be forced to deal with rejection. You are not alone. Please reach out to a fellow writer if you’re finding rejection too heavy to deal with – I guarantee they will be sympathetic; and if you decide to reach out to me, I will help however I can.

2.) Always be polite and gracious.

Earth is a vast place, yet however infinite the reach of the written word, the world of writing is not. Since there are far more writers on Earth than literary agents or publishing companies, the laws of mathematics dictate that you’re likely to encounter them again at some point in your journey to publication and beyond. No-matter how awful a rejection makes you feel, please be polite and respectful to the person giving you the bad news. Burning your bridges is not only unprofessional and wrong, it is foolish. “Treat others as you’d like to be treated” is certainly applicable to rejection of your writing. I have worked for a publishing company and learned quickly that when our publication schedule was full, we had no choice but to reject writers – it was like removing a tether. Our concern was that leaving writers waiting too long for a response was like tethering them to uncertainty when they could be out there trying to have their work published elsewhere. Whenever a writer responded impolitely, we knew that working relationship would never be successful – so we’d forget about that person’s submission. It was respectful writers who thanked us for taking the time to consider their manuscript that we’d never forget; in fact, when our schedules cleared a little, they were the first to be contacted. Sometimes rejection isn’t down to your writing being of inferior quality, it could simply be that the literary agent or publisher has a full schedule at that moment in time.

3.) Edit your manuscript, again.

I learned this the hard way. If you’re the only pair of eyes to have read through, edited and proofread your manuscript, there will inevitably be mistakes. It is true that you could have the brightest editorial team on the planet work on your manuscript and still find the odd typo or grammatical error – I reiterate that we are all only human – but I advise you always have an editor read through your manuscript before sending it to literary agencies and publishing companies. You’ll find an array of talented editorial professionals in the “Helpful Resources” section of my website if you don’t already know an excellent editor. Even one extra read-through of your manuscript by someone else can help catch plot-holes and errors that might be costing you opportunities for success with literary agents and publishers. As a perfectionist I had issue comprehending that my own abilities were not enough, after all, it was my writing so why shouldn’t I be the best person to edit it? Though rejection taught me that no-matter how meticulous I was with my manuscripts, I’d never find success until I accepted constructive criticism and honest, helpful feedback. Now, I thoroughly enjoy the editorial process – even if a manuscript is rejected, at least my editor enjoyed reading through it! And if an editor doesn’t like something I’ve written, they’re gifting me the opportunity to improve that manuscript until it is of a high enough standard to submit to literary agencies and publishing companies. I’m happy to read through manuscripts and offer advice, though because time is precious, it tends not to be something I’m able to complete free of charge – sorry!

4.) Move on.

It is easy to reside in a spiral of self-doubt and misery after countless rejections, but please don’t. The world needs your writing. So, the longer you spend sulking because a handful of people out of the 7 billion+ on this planet didn’t decide to publish or support your work, the less likely it is your manuscript gets into the hands of readers who will become your biggest fans. Keep writing, revising, and sending submissions, because humanity requires your writing talent – you just haven’t found the right home for it yet.

I hope I have helped you feel better about rejection in the realms of writing. Please feel free to reach out if I can be of any further assistance in your journey to publication 🙂

Wishing you a happy Monday! <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Adventure, Animals, Author, Ghostwriting, Mental Health Awareness, Uncategorized, Writing

Something

Hi 🙂

Apologies for the vague blog post title – my creativity decided not to extend that far today…

**Exciting News Alert** I’m now represented by fantastic ghostwriting agency, Top Rated Ghostwriters 😀 I am honoured to be represented by such a brilliant company, whose work ethic complements my own and empathetic ethos guarantees a compassionate yet successful connection between ghostwriters and clients. They have welcomed me into their dynamic, talented team – for which I am exceedingly thankful!

Anyways, how are you? Now lockdown restrictions are easing across the world, are you coping?

As I am emetophobic, anxiety surrounding hygiene and illness transmission is constantly ongoing. It’s a battle I face every day, and whilst that battle used to be demoralising, I am coming to terms with the fact it actually gives me opportunity to prove my inner-strength time and again. So, if you’d like any advice on dealing with anxiety during these challenging times, please don’t hesitate to get in touch 🙂

On a lighter note, I am delighted to have finally spent some quality time with my boyfriend – it’s been a long few months, though our dog was super excited to finally be able to see him too!

Whilst out and about on walks and adventures, I always take photographs of things I find inspiring. I thought I’d share a few with you… Do you take photographs to help inspire your writing, or is it just me?

I’ve been trying out my metaphorical ‘brave pants’ lately as well, and have been helping exercise horses at the riding school I work for between writing projects. It has been immensely confidence-giving, and I hope to transfer that confidence to riding my own horses more often 🙂 Just a shame the weather is so miserable for July.