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, 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, 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, Book Publishing, Career, Creative, Equestrian, Ghostwriting, Mental Health Awareness, Nature, Open University, Photography, Reading, Writing

Long Time, No See!

Heyy,

Long time, no see – 3 months, to be exact o.O

I’m always apologising for being busy, though this time, I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to include a brief (well, brief in terms of my writing) update along with my hope that all is going wonderfully well in your life – if it isn’t, please know you are not alone 🙂

So, I finally completed my Stage 2 modules as I study for BA(Hons) English Literature & Creative Writing with the Open University. Due to my ridiculously heavy workload, I initially intended to complete one module at a time for the final Stage 3 section of my degree, though I’ve given deep thought into what I’d like to achieve, and have had endless discussions with my loved ones about my terrible attempts to forge a work-life balance – I’ve come to the conclusion that if I am to relieve pressure long term, I’m going to follow their advice and study full time from Sept/Oct this year, so I’ll have less pressure on my time as of June/July 2022. That means I’m going to take a small step back from taking on new ghostwriting clients with lengthy projects – if you’re a prospective client with a lengthy project, I apologise! But I have to focus on improving the quality of my assignment scores, since I achieved 80%-95% for Stage 1 modules (though I did complete them part time, around part time employment) and only 65%-75% for Stage 2 modules (completed around self-employment; the hours for which I spend working I dread to count!). I am still accepting smaller projects, such as blog posts, website content, articles, and short stories 🙂

I am not at liberty to discuss any aspect of ghostwriting projects – as I sign confidentiality agreements for every project – though I can let you know that business has been incredibly busy, for which I am exceedingly thankful! Unfortunately, I did experience my first (and hopefully last) setback in my ghostwriting endeavours, when a client failed to pay the final fee for their project; they disappeared the day after I sent them the final document. I admit that my trust in the basic, moral goodness of human nature was tested, and though I have chalked it up to being a valuable lesson learned, it was also the catalyst for my decision to pursue the completion of my degree full time as I reassessed what I’d like to achieve through ghostwriting. It saddens me that despite my best efforts to help people and make a difference for the better, someone could be so thoughtless as to waste my valuable time and effort – especially since I’d turned down other projects to help the client, as there was a tight deadline and I was told the project meant a lot to them. So, I have decided to focus on completing my degree, and whilst I will continue ghostwriting and proofreading, I am only going to take on projects I know I’ll enjoy, as I am going to spend more time on my own writing whilst I pursue a primary school teaching career (unless, in the meantime, I manage to emulate a fraction of J.K. Rowling’s success with my own novels, enabling me to write for myself full time; which is highly unlikely!).

I have always been driven to make a difference for the better, something I have strived to do through ghostwriting and proofreading – for instance, I’ve taken on many projects free of charge for charitable organisations, alongside my busy work schedule – though have found that my love of writing has been tested on occasion when I’ve had to work 14-hour days while struggling to juggle everything going on in my hectic schedule. Enduring a miscarriage – as well as suffering with my mental health as a result of the constant stress caused by the struggle against the rising pressure of everything – has taught me that life is too short not to do what I love for a living. Whilst I love writing – and have earned more money through ghostwriting than any other job I’ve ever had – I cannot sustain the level of work I have been. I’m not making as much of a difference for the better as I intended through the type of ghostwriting work I do. Although I am going to continue working for several of my fantastic clients, for whom I provide ghostwriting projects regularly, I will be dedicating more of my time to achieving success with my own writing (since I’m able to do so for my clients, I may as well try writing bestselling pieces for myself too!), and I am going to work towards becoming a primary school teacher; following in the footsteps of many amazing female relatives before me, primary school teaching is a career I expect to be as challenging as it is creative, but will allow me steady, structured working hours and the ability to work as part of a team and ‘switch off’ at the end of the day (instead of being immersed in my solitary work 24/7) – enabling me to make the most of my life, whilst still making a positive difference to many young people’s lives 🙂

Moving on from my career aspirations, I created a special book for my niece (whom I hadn’t seen for a year due to pandemic lockdown restrictions) for her 5th birthday. She’s going through a tough time with her health, so I felt it would cheer her up to have a book created specially for her 🙂 Whilst I still have a lot to learn in terms of illustration and typesetting a fully-illustrated document, I thoroughly enjoyed working on Evelyn-Rose’s book around my crazy work/uni/life schedule; it helped me channel stressful energy into something positive. In case you’d like to view it for yourself, the link to the listing for “Evelyn-Rose’s Magical Adventure” is here.

Something I’d been debating for many years was getting a second tattoo. My first experience was traumatic, to say the least, so I’ve spent years researching and pondering whether the benefits outweigh the risks. Though I am pleased to say that I did go ahead with getting a tattoo, inspired by a photograph I’d taken on the last family holiday we went on with my wonderful grandparents – something my late Nan and I talked about for a while was my getting a peacock butterfly tattoo, so I hope she’d have appreciated my decision to finally go ahead with getting it done 🙂 As it happens, butterflies are also representative of the beauty of change, of hope, and of triumph through adversity – a fitting testament to my life experiences.

I have been revelling in the beautiful weather lately, taking every opportunity I can to get Cai walked and ride/spend time with my horses, as well as to delve back in to another of my hobbies – photography 🙂 I’ve not been feeling quite myself, so I’m currently working hard to exercise more and eat healthier, in hope of losing weight, improving my strength, and toning up; I’m pleased to report that it’s only been a couple of weeks since I finished my final end-of-module uni assignments, though I feel better already for spending more time out and about. You can follow some of Cai’s adventures on his Instagram page.

However, as often seems to be the case, my injuries have made being more active far from straightforward. Not only has my hand been more painful lately (due to increased exercise through following YouTube HIIT/Pilates videos, horse riding, Cai pulling on his lead, etc.), but I have discovered that my jaw is dislocated and has been causing me major issues in the form of pain, swelling, and headaches – I had mistaken the issue as being an impacted wisdom tooth for a long time; it was the thought of having another tooth removed that put me off making an appointment with the dentist, but if non-invasive treatments don’t work, I might have to go through some pretty unpleasant surgery on my jaw o.O

My boyfriend, Gareth, and I have a few events to attend this year, as well as a few days away in Edinburgh to look forward to this summer – and I’m working hard on improving my self-confidence – so, I’ve spent a little time practising using make-up. My skin has been terrible lately – which I imagine is largely stress-based – and that hasn’t helped me feel better about myself. Whilst I’m nowhere near as great at using make-up as I’d like to be, I’m hopeful my face painting/sculpting skills will continue to improve…

I’ve been working hard to improve my confidence whilst driving, and am pleased to be making progress 🙂 I even went to the cinema a couple of days ago, for the first time in around 18 months!

Annndd I’ve decided to dedicate as much time as I can to my own writing by taking it more seriously – as such, I’ve signed up for Mslexia and WritersHQ, which will help me gain confidence by interacting more frequently with fellow writers. I’ll be making more time to read books from fantastically inspirational authors too, to improve my writing as much as possible and ‘switch off’ – just received a mega Waterstones order; anyone else love that ‘new book’ scent? 😉

For more regular updates, please feel free to visit my Facebook page, Instagram page, and Twitter account 🙂 I am also updating The Emet. Review as often as I can.

I hope to be more active in terms of content creation for my blog from now on, so you can expect more interesting posts than this – such as a short story series, book reviews, and a variety of posts about all things literary, equestrian, and mental health 🙂

Anyways, I hope all is well with you; I look forward to reading messages about all the exciting things happening in your lives too!

Stay awesome <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

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

Happy St David’s Day!

Hi Everyone 🙂

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus, or, Happy St David’s Day (if you don’t speak Welsh)!

The national flower of Wales is the beautiful Daffodil 🙂

Soooo sorry I’ve not updated my blog in a while, it’s been a busy few months… o.O

I’ve been struggling to manage my time effectively (so, nothing new there) – which has often led to me working until between 11pm and 1am most nights a week. Not only have I been busy with some great ghostwriting projects, I’ve also been working hard to keep up with both of my university modules. However, that has meant I’ve lost out on precious time I could have spent with my boyfriend, dog, and horses (if it weren’t for lockdown that list would be far longer!) – as well as meaning I’ve had to put the writing of my own novels on hold. Two weeks ago I decided enough was enough, I’d hit a metaphorical wall and felt completely burned out. Therefore, I caught up with all the work I needed to and gifted myself 2 weeks off to take a step back from work and enjoy my life. I’m happy to report that I’ve done just that! 🙂

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Despite my mare’s attempts to get herself stuck in a fence whilst trying to remove her own shoe, meaning a few days of box rest and bandages while waiting for the farrier, I have managed to get some schooling done with my horses – which has been wonderful 🙂

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Clipping is definitely not my forte… #oops
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The first time we’ve encountered a jump in years 😀
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What a mess 🙁
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I’m pleased to report that my bandaging efforts were more successful than my attempts at clipping – this bandage lasted the entire night ;P
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I do need to get fitter and lose weight, though I promise I haven’t turned into a marshmallow – I was wearing about a thousand layers in this photo! #itwasfreezing

I’ve spent lots of time cwtched up watching films in the evenings with my boyfriend – who is amazing at keeping me from stress-spiralling and supports me through absolutely everything, for which I am eternally grateful 🙂

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#snowday2021

My dog and I have enjoyed lots of brilliant walks, taking in the beauty of nature as it’s about to blossom into spring – he’s also needed a few baths, thanks to the muddy conditions clinging on after winter 🙂

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#walkies
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Spring if finally here! 😀

And, last but not least, I’ve actually managed to enjoy writing my own novels! I’m in the ‘world-building’ phase at the moment, and am working on tidying up plots and storylines before getting down to business and getting the actual manuscripts written. I’d actually written a manuscript for the first novel around 4 years ago, though have pretty much scrapped that and am starting again. All I’m at liberty to share with you right now is that it’s a YA Sci-Fi series, that will eventually link to a fully illustrated children’s book series I also intend to write… I’m hoping to attain representation from a literary agent when I’ve completed all of the manuscripts, though because I’m so busy I have no set schedule for completion 🙂

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#literarylife

That’s it for my relatively boring blog post today – I will try to get some interesting content written as soon as I have time to, promise! I hope you’re all coping as well as you possibly can with your local coronavirus restrictions, and I hope the arrival of spring is as inspiring for you as it is for me 🙂
Infinite thanks for your continued support <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

Author, Mental Health Awareness, Uncategorized, Writing

About Finding Self-Confidence

Hi Everyone, hope all is well 🙂

I’ve just seen a post on Facebook by one of my friends and I suddenly felt compelled to write this blog post. I honestly have no idea where I’m going with this, but I have had enough of feeling inadequate and I’m fed up of seeing those around me feel less than good enough too.

The post read: When I say “please don’t take a picture of me” it’s not because I’m being bitchy and stubborn, it’s because if I see that picture I will seriously feel so bad about myself and think I am the ugliest thing on earth and sink a little deeper into self consciousness and hatred.

First of all, now I am totally guilty of this, we *must* learn to stop comparing ourselves to others.

Each and every one of us are unique. We are the only one of ourselves in existence. At this very moment in time, we are the only person living our life. You are the only one reading this post, my words, from your perspective. When we consider our existence from such a profound viewpoint, we realise just how precious we are.

How devastating that we spend so much of our time – that should be filled with happiness, contentment and joy – allowing our own image to be destroyed upon the judgements others make of other people. Since if we think about it, we are our own worst enemy as far as self image is concerned – when was the last time anyone said you didn’t look nice?

Even though my family are brutally honest about my appearance (which is wonderful), I cannot remember the last time any of them said I look awful, or fat, or a mess (in fact, they constantly reassure me I do not) – nor have any of my friends ever said anything derogatory about my appearance, unless perhaps those times I slipped in sheep turd whilst helping out with shearing, or when I’ve fallen off my horse and landed in a muddy puddle; after which we all had a great laugh! I can, however, remember that when I looked in the mirror five minutes ago that I acknowledged how bloated I am, how I really need to lose at least a stone in weight because I dislike the fat blobbed over the back of my bra and want to be lighter for my horses to carry, as well as frustratingly sighing at the vision of spots appearing along my jawline. What I absolutely failed to notice was how amazing my body is for reaching almost 29 years so far, being able to write/ride/drive/do everything I do, coping daily with crippling anxiety caused by emetophobia, still managing to get on with everything despite a severe hand injury (that may never heal), still being able to breathe despite having a broken nose, and being recipient of some fortunate genetic attributes as gifted by generations of my ancestors. I forget to be thankful that when I do have a set routine allowing for time to ride my horses and take my dog on rambling adventures, I do get fit, tone up and lose weight relatively swiftly. I am grateful to be in love and whilst I do feel encompassed by every moment I’m able to spend with him, I have to remind myself that he wouldn’t be with me if I wasn’t remotely attractive. I have always had a dream to write for a living, this year I finally found the courage to take a leap of faith and I’m delighted to be able to write for a living, study, and pursue all of my dreams. I am beyond lucky to be loved, and be able to love, so many inspiring, wondrous people.

So, next time you look in the mirror, please cast aside any negative, self-deprecating thoughts. Look through them and see yourself. Appreciate absolutely every positive attribute you have, because I guarantee there will be too many for you to note in one staring-at-yourself-in-the-mirror session!

Secondly, after some lovely long chats with friends, I realised that it is likely one of the reasons I am feeling so negative about my body image is because I am subconsciously being bombarded with images of women with perfectly toned bodies and flawless skin, unlikely to have ever had an unflattering photograph taken of them in their entire lives, their routines in order and achievements projected from social media accounts saturated with followers telling them every day how great they are. It’s like some unspoken competition has been developed, whereby women have to be seen to support one another, whilst behind the scenes setting up images to share that show their lives only from an idyllic angle, as if in some subconscious form of one-upmanship with all other women. I’ve made a conscious effort to try follow more accounts that promote positive relationships with individuality in its natural form.

The truth is, the people behind those accounts that make us feel crappy about ourselves are unlikely to have it all together and probably have brilliant photography or photoshop skills. Because we are all human, there is absolutely no way on Earth anybody has their lives entirely together 100% of the time. We all have low moments. Unfortunately, at some point in our lives we all suffer pain, and loss, and grief, and have to face adversity. But, when we go through something terrible, we are never alone. And all of us possess the power to overcome, the strength to survive, and the ability to help others using our experiences.

Finally, perfection in its purest, true form *is* attainable, because it is subjective. What I perceive as perfect someone else will not. Therefore, those aspects of our self we see as imperfect are exactly what make us perfect in another’s eyes.

I’m not there yet. I wholeheartedly admit that I have a llooonnngg way to go to feel truly self-confident. And whilst I’ll still refrain from posting super unflattering images in which I believe I look disgusting (mainly to save your sight but also to avoid embarrassing myself), I am going to continue to encourage self-confidence in others.

Being a good person is awesome, but remember, in order to be selfless self-care is vital.

Having a goal to become physically healthier is amazing, but please do so to fulfil your own happiness – not to fulfil a vision of yourself you believe others would rather see.

Lifestyle choices involving exercise and diet should bring you joy, not feel like torture. Find activities you enjoy, eat what makes you feel fantastic, and make the most of every moment instead of punishing yourself for not being the size you were when you were a teenager. Our bodies evolve as our lives move along at their natural pace. We should buy clothes to fit us, not change our bodies to make ourselves fit into clothes (after all, sizes are different depending on their manufacture and materials). When photographs are taken of us during good times, we ought to cherish the moment we were captured within, as opposed to regretting having that photograph taken – I’m sure older generations would give anything to have treasured memories captured forever in a timeless form.

Some days you’ll feel positive and productive, you will complete your to-do list then go on to accomplish everything extra you set out to. Other days, you may feel too exhausted to do much more than wear your scruffiest clothes, eat chocolate and simply survive. Do you know what? That is ok. In fact, we all need a rest sometimes – it’s ideal that is enjoyed before our bodies tire.

Despite what you tell yourself at times, you are beautiful.

Embrace who you are and celebrate your self.

We are all doing our best, let’s give ourselves some long overdue credit.

Anyways, that’s it from me for now; my apologies for the essay! Haha.

Sending lots of love and positivity your way right now <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.

Also, I maintain my unbeaten record of achieving last place in every video quiz I have completed since the beginning of lockdown; impressive or what 😉 haha! For the lastest quiz I participated in, we had to wear something sparkly – can you spot what my ‘something sparkly’ was? Oh, and I realised that since I work from home 99% of the time, it was acceptable to wear something sparkly, have crazy hair, and wear fluffy socks 🙂

And I end today’s rambling with a revelation – I can finally wear my fringe down again after ruining it a few weeks ago! 😀

Happy Wednesday <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

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

About Inspiration & Silliness

Two words unlikely to appear in the same sentence, yet have a fascinating connection, are ‘inspiration’ and ‘silliness’.

When we feel inspired it’s supposed to move us, to motivate us, to keep us moving forward in our lives. Whereas silliness seems to have little substance in adult life, apart from acceptance on television or during peer-pressured drunkenness.

So you may be wondering why I have chosen to write a blog post about these words.

Well, now I’ve officially been an adult for over a decade, I have learned many valuable lessons – one of the most interesting being that silliness can evolve into inspiration.

Anyone who knows me knows I love to make people smile and laugh. It drives me to do all I can to make our world a brighter, more cheerful, kinder place. Although it happens frequently, I still get a wonderful buzz when someone approaches me for help or advice. And to be able earn a living doing something I’m passionate about, whilst making other people’s dreams come true, is an honour as well as a privilege.

A lot of the time adult life calls for us to be serious. Whether that’s maintaining professional mannerisms when dealing with clients, or deciding which provider to choose for your mortgage, or even managing the expectations of those around you because even though you love them dearly and know they love you no-matter what, you still don’t want to disappoint them. All this seriousness means we live 90% of our lives in a heightened state of stress – the other 10% is spent sleeping, or trying to sleep. Some people deal with this stress better than others – I am reminded of this on a daily basis, since sooo many people I know ‘have it together’ according to social media, whereas I still forget to eat lunch most workdays, and have been known to accidentally use deodorant instead of dry shampoo.

This got me to thinking, why does life have to be this way? Why must we all be seen to live such bustling lives to be regarded successful? Why do I allow myself to feel like a blob, and want to cwtch up in my baggiest jumper, whenever I see photos of confident women, wearing whatever the heck they want, even when they’re curvier than I am and have already had like three kids? Why do I beat myself up about not being able to ride my horses often enough, let alone compete them like I used to, despite the fact I have a chronic hand injury that drastically limits my capabilities?

Realisation struck today that the answers to those questions lie heavily upon the curse of social media goggles. It’s that ‘rose-tinted glasses’ affect, but far worse. Glasses grace your face and help you see whilst allowing for peripheral vision, yet goggles give you no choice as to your peripheral vision since they’re strapped tightly to your head. So tightly in fact, that when you eventually take them off, you’re left with red marks around your eyes, the effects of which take time to fade.

Maybe it’s about time we removed those goggles and viewed social media in its true light – as a form of media. When you read a fiction book or watch a blockbuster film, you fully expect scenes written to perfection, every detail taken care of, every character the idealistic image of an aspect of humanity. Despite the fact social media was designed to represent our everyday lives, we forget that it is just another form of media. People won’t share what they don’t want us to see (unless they’re really, really brave!). Silliness seems to have no place in a world striving for perfection. But, just as with fiction books and blockbuster films, we shouldn’t trust what we see on social media as being the full story. Behind every book you read there’s been an entire production team, often including authors or ghostwriters, editors, agents, and publishing companies. Same goes for blockbuster films – I guarantee if it’s big budget, there’s an entire team dedicated to each minuscule portion of that film’s development and production. And whilst we’ve been fooled into thinking social media harnesses each individual voice, algorithms working behind the scenes are what determines the content we see. Therefore, it shapes how we feel about social media, as opposed to allowing us to connect directly with the hundreds of people we ‘follow’ or are ‘friends’ with, and making our own minds up about them. That masterful direction means we are being exposed to an edited version of people, even people we see every day in person. For all its awesomeness, social media cannot replace true human connection.

Social media should not dictate that which defines us as ‘successful’. We are unique. Success is different for each of us.

So, actually, life doesn’t have to be stressful in order for us to be regarded successful. If you look back over your life and recognise that you’re in a healthier, happier place than you were a year or two ago, then congratulations – you’re winning!

Social media makes me feel like I should be going to a gym then sharing my sculpted form with ‘followers’ or ‘friends’, and buying expensive clothes that flatter my figure that I should post all over my social media profiles to show off, and I should learn to perfect make-up/camera-angles in order to attract higher-paying clients, and I should be posting 50 updates a day about what I’m doing to reach to a wider audience, and I should have my life in such great order that every day is prosperous. But do you know what, my respect for all these amazing women and men who seem capable of juggling every aspect of their life shouldn’t end with them, it should extend to myself.

I have to stop caring what social media has conditioned me to believe represents success. I am a powerful woman because I have overcome some horrible experiences and worked unbelievably hard to get to the fortunate position I am in today. I shall continue to work tirelessly to inspire an even better tomorrow, so I am going to stop allowing social media to make me feel like I’m not worthy, because you know what? I damn well am! Are you with me? I’d love to hear your success stories – whether that extends to writing a bestselling novel, or running an excellent charity, or something as seemingly humble as being a good person in a self-centred world. Because you, my friend, are marvelous and it’s about time someone noticed 🙂

And just so you know this isn’t empty narrative, I’ll include some of the silliness I’ve participated in over the last few days that inspired me to write this post…

Life can be tough, but it can also be amazing.

Stay well, stay safe, and please, keep smiling… <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Author, Uncategorized, Writing

About Defeating Writer’s Block

Hellooo! 🙂


How are you coping now lockdown is easing?


I have been using this time to inspire myself and my writing. After nearly 30 years of writing, I have learned many things. One is that writing can solve a multitude of problems; whether that’s writing the book you want to read because you’ve never been able to find it, having an outlet for creative inspiration, or helping to work through anxieties by journaling. Another is that writing is as beautiful, breathtaking, and life-giving as it is fulfilling – in my job as a ghostwriter, I love enabling someone to make their dream of publishing a reality, by putting their ideas in writing. Though the truth is, writing can also be exhausting. Writer’s Block can strike at any moment, and it’s with that in mind I am arming you with the skills to defeat Writer’s Block…

1.) TAKE A BREAK
Yes, I did mean to shout that. I know it feels the complete opposite of what you’re supposed to do in this situation, because, if you’re like me, you want to just power through and get that writing done. I get it. But more often than not, that doesn’t work. However, I do have good news for you; walking away from your project works wonders! It gives you time to breathe and think about something other than the undiscovered intricacies of this project circling your sanity. It relieves the pressure, and reminds you that there’s more to life in the moment than clambering over the ever-growing wall of Writer’s Block. You’ll surprise yourself when you step away and allow that wall to crumble, freeing your mind to welcome a return of free-flowing ideas 🙂

2.) Go Outside!
This follows on from the previous point, but I think it’s necessary to highlight this. Going outside is soooo helpful. Take a walk around the block; go eat a picnic in your local park; spend time with your pets; go horse riding; try wildlife or landscape photography; do something outside whilst enjoying fresh air. Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. Our world is inspiring, though you’ll never truly feel that if you never get outside to experience it 🙂 Something doesn’t have to have a divine or profound effect on you to be worthy inspiration – it can be the way a bird splashes in a birdbath, or sunlight dancing through leaves when looking up from the base of a tree, or even seeing a dog sliding on muddied grass to fetch their toy. Inspiration can be drawn from anything if you take the time just to look.

3.) Read.
I love to read. It inspires us to write, because something someone else has written has moved us. Whether that first realisation of this was twenty years ago, or five minutes ago, it is still so important. Ultimately we cannot learn or grow as writers without reading, it teaches us our craft. Don’t feel guilty about reading when you’re struggling to write – just read something you enjoy and fall back in love with words.

4) Write!
This is my final tip. This is one of the most useful tips for me. Forget what you’re currently trying to work through and write about anything in the world. It can be about your day, or your love of hats; or about a word you can’t get out of your head. You can Google search writing prompts, there are so many out there! The great thing about using writing prompts is that no one has to see it. It can be the worst piece of writing ever, but there’s no pressure. It is then that you’ll find writing becomes fun again – that’s the beauty of it 🙂

When you feel like the colour has drained from your writing, please don’t give up. Keep in mind that you are not alone and that wall will break. I’m rooting for you! <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Animals, Author, Uncategorized, Writing

Again!

Hi Friends 🙂

Sooo sorry for taking ages to write another blog post!

I hope you and your loved ones are still staying safe and well 🙂

Having been inundated with (awesome) ghostwriting work, I’ve neglected my blog – for which I apologise. Please remember that if you’d like to get in touch, my email address is d.e.kendall@outlook.com

As I’ve been doing with previous posts, I shall update you on what I’ve been up to – aside ghostwriting work obviously, for I’ve signed Confidentiality Agreements for all ghostwriting projects 😉

I recieved my last assignment score for my second uni module – I am super pleased with my results! I’ve worked exceedingly hard to achieve those scores, so I hope I pass with a good grade when I find out my overall module result in July…

Second Module for BA(Hons)
English Literature and Creative Writing

My certificates finally arrived for the two courses I’ve completed during lockdown! I keep on top of CPD by taking courses to continually improve my knowledge and enhance my skills, to enable me to provide a better service for my clients. Also, I love to learn – so I jump at any opportunity to do so! Since uni isn’t starting again until October (when I shall be embarking on two modules instead of one), I’m either searching for a new course or completing one 🙂

Ohh, and I attempted to cut my fringe again – unsuccessfully… o.O

2 weeks have passed and I have *almost* mustered the courage to leave the house without my fringe flicked away from my forehead!

Realised I needed to find a way to carry stuff around, whilst walking Cai and looking after my horses, that didn’t warrant wearing a gilet with pockets in hot weather. On the recommendation of friends who also have dogs and horses, I purchased a ‘bumbag’ – Cai was not impressed! Haha.

I haven’t managed to ride my horses as much as I’d like unfortunately. Though they were amazing every time I have ridden them lately 🙂

Due to a drastic change of circumstances through changing my job – so I work entirely from home – and the challenges of lockdown, I’ve been feeling rubbish about my weight recently. Turns out I’m 58kg, the heaviest I’ve ever been, and whilst my loved ones kindly say I don’t look overweight, I really don’t feel as fit and healthy as I should. I eat a fairly balanced diet and exercise daily, but because I get so wrapped up in work I can’t help myself and struggle to stop working, so felt I needed some advice. I took to Facebook and my wonderful support network shined once again! In no time I was overwhelmed with tips, diet advice and at-home exercise plans to follow – I am going to complete a small ghostwriting project I’m working on, which should be finished in a couple of days, then I’m getting myself into gear. I am determined to feel fitter, healthier and more toned 🙂

What have you been up to? I hope you’re coping as well as possible right now – we’re nearly there, hopefully not long before we can see our loved ones again 🙂

Take care <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Author, Mental Health Awareness, Uncategorized

For Mental Health Awareness Week

Hellooo 🙂

It is Mental Health Awareness Week (in case you didn’t know!), and I hope that through sharing my own insecurities you may feel more comfortable and confident in yourself 🙂

Later, I will be sharing about emetophobia on my social media pages (linking to blog posts I have already written), something I’ve lived with since I can remember. Right now, however, I’m remaining focused on physical insecurities, since I know that affects everyone – whilst emetophobia doesn’t…

So, I wore braces for years as a teenager – not just to straighten my teeth, but to correct my jaw alignment. I lost my retainer 8 years ago on a camping trip, though foolishly didn’t return to the orthodontic centre as I believed my teeth and jaw issues had been fixed.

My jaw has gradually misaligned again, which affects many aspects of my wellbeing; from eating, to talking, to sleeping. I now have a new retainer. While it unfortunately won’t fully straighten my teeth (I can’t afford thousands in orthodontist fees!), it will prevent misalignment worsening. And as over-the-top as I am with cleaning my teeth, the discoloured marks (again, I unfortunately can’t afford to get my teeth whitened) are from the time I had braces – glue used for my braces wasn’t cleared properly by the orthodontist. My dentist does a brilliant job of cleaning these glue marks from my teeth little by little each visit, though it’s something I am very self conscious of.

Teeth misalignment and permanent glue marks are the reasons you will rarely see me flashing my teeth when I smile in photographs – I also dislike showing a lot of my gums when smiling, which I do naturally when photographs are taken of me unawares! Whilst it is a minor complaint in the grand scheme of things, I imagine others of you feel insecure about this sort of thing too. I do still lack confidence in smiling fully due to the image of my teeth and gums being imperfect, which is silly because there’s nothing more wonderful than being able to smile through sheer happiness! Please don’t ever allow anything to stop you smiling if it has only to do with how the world perceives you – I’m a perfectionist, which does cause me issues like worrying about superficial things such as this, but beauty isn’t founded in perfection, it is founded in joy 🙂

Same goes for body weight. I’ve put on weight since becoming a full-time ghostwriter working entirely from home – the scales say I’ve gained 2kg (equivalent of 4lbs). Following lockdown rules to only exercise once a day initially, which has thankfully now increased to more exercise being allowed, has had an impact. I walk my dog very near my home for my daily exercise, around the local park as opposed to adventuring like we usually do – I also take care of my horses and the sheep, so I do get some exercise there too. However, I’ve been exceedingly careful about riding my horses to avoid as much as possible the risk of putting extra strain on the NHS by getting injured. I already suffer a debilitating hand issue, which does limit how often I’m able to ride and what exercise I am able to do generally – though my horses do need some exercise to keep them healthy too. It’s a delicate balancing act, so, I’m vowing to myself to lose weight and get fit as soon as I have organised a suitable, safe exercise regime and equally sensible diet. I’m not a greedy person, and I do keep to a relatively healthy diet – but there’s always room for improvement (perfectionism creeping in), which is what I am going to do as soon as life is back to some sort of state of normality again – because chocolate is keeping me going right now! One day I will feel comfortable and confident in a bathing suit, I am determined 🙂

Sharing my work-in-progress on insecurities is all well and good, but I feel that I ought to prove it is possible to overcome them. My eyesight is not great – I am rather short sighted. When I was 9 I started wearing glasses – and when I say wearing them, I mean hiding them in my school bag and squinting at the blackboard all day, leaving school with a headache because I was afraid to get bullied wearing glasses. As it happens, I was bullied for wearing glasses – as well as for being short, quiet, and unassuming – in high school. It took until April 2019 when I fell in love with the pair of glasses I have now to feel confident enough to have photographs in them. I wear contact lenses when I can, though they’re expensive so I tend to save them for special occasions. I realised that all I had to do was muster the courage to try a new style of frames, and it made the world of difference to my relationship with glasses; please don’t allow wearing glasses to get you down – I guarantee you’ll look as fabulous as you do without them 🙂

I used to suffer with acne too. Still get breakouts from time to time. But I persevered and sought clinical advice, so am now much happier in my skin than I used to be. Whilst my skin is still not perfect, life experience has taught me that it isn’t supposed to be – we are people not plastic. So embrace your skin; spots, stretch marks, cellulite, scars and all – because you’re an attractive specimen, and deserve to know so!

I know how lucky I am for these insecurities to be relatively minor, for which I am infinitely thankful. Though insecurities only make us insecure when we allow them to…

TL;DR – You are awesome 🙂

Thanks for reading!

We’ve got this <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Animals, Author, Nature, Uncategorized

An Update

Hi Everyone 🙂

I’m sorry it’s been a while, I have been *exceedingly* busy – I hope you’re staying safe and well!

That’s why I decided to write about some of what I’ve been doing the last few weeks. I will admit, however, that I cannot share anything about the ghostwriting projects I’ve been working on, aside the colouring books I produced on behalf of my Mum 🙂

The royalties from these colouring books are being donated to the NHS until 1st June (and beyond if sales remain steady), as even though my Dad works for the NHS, my family wanted to do something more to help toward the pandemic situation. In case you might be interested, Mum’s colouring books are available here.

I’ve spent quality time with my gorgeous dog and beautiful horses. They help me deal with anxieties, stresses and pressures of the current situation, as they’ve helped me deal with so many difficult times throughout my life. Not only are they a comforting presence, their lives are my responsibility – so even if I feel like cwtching up in bed with a blanket and Disney films all day, feeling sorry for myself because I’m missing loved ones, I can’t. Because they need my care and attention no-matter what 🙂

I did have a near-miss when riding yesterday though; I failed to thoroughly check my horse’s bridle, and thankfully I’ve trained her well enough for an insecure bridle not to pose a problem, because I didn’t have cause to notice until I removed her bridle!

Moral of the story = ALWAYS check your tack before riding… o.O

As my family have done for the last decade, we continue to help look after the sheep at the farm we keep our horses at. The girls have only produced one lamb between them this year – though he’s been castrated and the lady who owns the farm decided we’re going to keep him, which is lush! She named the lamb Osian – and he’s *nearly* brave enough to approach us 🙂

I’ve also taken some time to enjoy photography again, an interest of mine I have been tempted to take up professionally though never have. I love the beauty of nature and wildlife, as well as getting used to all the features on my mobile phone camera that I’ve not yet spent the time doing – I suggest having a go at photography if you’re in need of a new hobby during lockdown, it’s fun; I also made friends with geese living at the farm 🙂

I had a go at applying make-up once too; I am definitely not skilled at that! Haha. And whilst I respect anyone able to apply make-up to perfection, it made me realise the finances and time such people must have to invest to be able to do so. I sincerely hope that people applying make-up do so because they enjoy enhancing their features, as opposed to hiding their real self. If confidence is dependent on one’s exterior, that isn’t healthy. So I hope that one day I’ll be able to help people feel more comfortable and confident to be themselves; using make-up as an enhancement to their already perfect features (if at all), instead of a mask behind which to hide with their insecurities.

I have exterior insecurities of my own – my nose, for one. My nose was broken by my family’s horse when I was 10 years old; I remember the pain as though it were yesterday! (#owch) Though in dealing with the feelings of having what I always used to perceive as being a ‘larger-than-average’ nose, I learned that actually, there’s nothing much wrong with my nose. Every person is different, as such, their bodies tell the story of their life. I realise now that I shouldn’t be anymore ashamed of my nose than I should be of the surgical scars I have on my right hand, because they’re part of *my story* – and if I’m honest, when I look back at my story and everything I continue to strive to achieve, I am proud of who I am becoming and how I’m getting there. That’s not to say I don’t have my wobbly moments when I completely lack any sense of self-confidence, I’m human so of course I am naturally self-critical, though I’ve mustered the strength to stare adversity straight in the face as I kick it in the nuts, before making the decision to walk on by – if I can do that, there’s nothing stopping you either 🙂

Something I did that I still don’t do often enough is practice self-care. Obviously I shower every day, brush my teeth, look after my hair, try to eat healthily, exercise, etc. – though self-care is so much more than that. In my case, self-care meant that on a day I felt burdened by pressures I put upon myself, I decided to take a step back to have a relaxing read in the bath, then dress in colourful clothes and remind myself that it is absolutely alright to allow myself time to deal with anxiety, stress, worries, and feelings of alone-ness (not loneliness, however; since I am fortunate to be surrounded by family and able to see friends from a distance at the farm) that accompany being away from my boyfriend for such a long time. I was working in excess of 12 hours a day, and I’m sure it doesn’t take a genius to work out that staring at a screen for that long is bound to have a detrimental impact – for me, that happened to be headaches and dizziness; symptoms I am lucky to have only ever experienced rarely. In attempt to work instead of addressing my anxieties, I accidentally forgot that unless I took care of myself, I wouldn’t be able to give my all to anything – ghostwriting projects, writing my novels, caring for my animals, helping my loved ones through this lockdown, etc.

Lesson learned here was that we are allowed to take time to recharge. One should never feel guilty for having to indulge in proper self-care 🙂

Finally, I try to keep my social media content positive as possible during these turbulent times. Though I tend to neglect social media posting in favour of completing work most of the time, I have created a few posts as my own little contribution toward the sense of community seeing us through this awful pandemic and lockdown. So, in case you needed some thanks for all that you’re doing to save lives, here’s my message to you…

Thanks for reading my latest blog post!

Please stay safe and know that we’re all in this, together <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Author, Uncategorized

Pros & Cons of Lock-down

Hellooo 🙂

I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and well <3

So, my lovely boyfriend gave me the idea to write this blog post.

People around the world are feeling the effects of lock-down. Currently, here in the UK, we’re at the beginning of week 3 in lock-down; which for us involves home-working where possible, restaurants/non-essential shops/pubs/clubs/leisure centres/sporting facilities/event venues etc. closed temporarily, all sporting/entertainment events cancelled for the foreseeable future, non-essential travel stopped, and one form of outdoor exercise a day is allowed with your household only.

There are positives and negatives to be taken from this situation. From my perspective, these are in a kind of balance – with a leaning toward the negative end of the spectrum.

In keeping myself busy I’ve been completing ghostwriting projects, studying toward my university assignments, achieving CPD certificates from online courses, caring for my dog and horses, as well as reading more.

Basically, I’m trying to accomplish inspiration from isolation.

I will share with you a Facebook post I added to my own page (as opposed to my author page) yesterday, which I believe clarifies that the stupidity of a large section of the general public are the reason this pandemic is still in full force…

“** Public Announcement **

LOCKDOWN IS NOT AN EXTENDED BANK HOLIDAY!!!! STAY IN!!!

From Cai and I….

We were quietly enjoying our one form of outdoor exercise for today, Cai remaining on a lead so as to avoid risk of contact with anyone else, though our efforts to keep ourselves, our loved ones and others safe were in vain.

On our very brisk walk (because there was nowhere to go without being within 2 metres of people!) we encountered:

  • A drunk guy downing cans, then peeing in a hedge.
  • Plethora of dog-walkers with every dog – aside one – off their leads.
  • Countless numbers of people, in groups, hanging around the local lake (I understand families will be exercising together, but from what I could see, there wasn’t much social distancing going on between these households).
  • People who had travelled by car to walk around the area (one particular dog walker I’ve spoken to a while ago and know for a fact lives in St Fagans – come on, there’s no way she can claim there’s nowhere to walk around St Fagans!!!).

I am staying away from loved ones, such as my Grandparents and Gareth, to protect them and everyone else around both them and myself. The sacrifices we are being asked to make are challenging, but not as challenging as having to hide in Anderson Shelters, fearing for our lives because of deadly bombing raids.

Come the f*ck on – please Please PLEASE, stop being selfish. All you’re being asked to do is stay in, chilling out on the sofa, to watch Netflix. It’s not difficult. Every person I know is sticking to the instructions given, to them I say – wholeheartedly – thank you. To every person putting thousands of loved ones at risk because they can’t follow simple rules I say, take a good look at yourself. Stay the heck in!!! Read books written by survivors of Auschwitz, study what life was like living in the trenches experiencing untold horrors to protect your loved ones, find out the stories of immigrants going through hellish situations whilst escaping war-torn countries to save their children.

Please, stay in, stay healthy, stay safe. Remain positive and consider others; if you cannot consider others, realise that you are at as much risk from COVID-19 as anyone else.

Rant over! Haha.

Infinite thanks to all who are following instructions and all those working tirelessly to keep us safe, fed and well ❤”

As you can see, my tone was pretty frustrated. I do understand the challenges of not being able to enjoy being outdoors and spending quality time with loved ones, but it is incredibly important that directives are followed, else we are all at risk of losing loved ones.

Sacrifices made during the darkness of today will ensure a brighter, safer tomorrow.

Distancing from loved ones is the aspect of lock-down I am struggling with most. I haven’t seen my amazing grandparents or brilliant niece, nor have I seen any of my other great relatives, let alone any of my fantastic friends. Though, the person I have become closest to, who I am feeling deeply the effects of distance from, is my wonderful boyfriend. We’ve been keeping in touch by telephone and Skype; however, I don’t have to tell anyone going through this that it just isn’t the same. I’d love a good cwtch with him right about now…

However, I saw on a news program last week an interview the UK’s eldest gentleman, who told his story. Having lived in 11 decades, he said the greatest moment of his life was meeting the lady who was to be his wife. They only met briefly, as she was travelling to be a volunteer nurse in Ghana, whilst he was destined for Taiwan to become a volunteer teacher. He told their story of a relationship maintained by the written word, with letters taking as much as 8 weeks to arrive. They maintained this for 4 years, before getting married and enjoying over 60 years of joyful marriage. Having lived through wars and financial disasters, this inspirational gentleman was so full of resolve that humanity will make it through this pandemic by working together, that one couldn’t help but feel inspired.

The Queen’s address to the nation yesterday was poignant, yet empowering.

It seems sometimes, distance gives us opportunity to gain a thankful perspective. Despite the fact I make efforts to be grateful every day for all I am fortunate to have, I for one know that I am going to emerge from this lock-down with a brand new appreciation for absolutely every aspect of awesomeness in my life.

If you’re struggling with lock-down at the moment, here’s a list of resources you can contact, as shared by South Wales Police on Facebook yesterday:

☎️ Mind Cymru 0300 1233393
☎️ Samaritans 116123
☎️ Anxiety UK 03444 775774
☎️ Live Fear Free 0808 8010800
☎️ Age UK 0800 0556112

There’s also a useful list of mental health support services on the NHS website.

Should a telephone call not be your ideal form of accessing help, here are some other ideas for accessing online help:

And for meditation, the NHS provides some useful information, or, you could always try any of the following apps:

Don’t forget to keep in touch with family and friends through FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, etc. – isolation doesn’t have to equal loneliness.

And, as always, please feel free to send me an email at d.e.kendall@outlook.com should you wish 🙂

Please keep washing your hands and staying home as much as possible, follow guidance and we’ll get through this all the stronger, sooner.

You are not alone.

Best wishes,

Dannika

Uncategorized

Lots!

Heyy 🙂

Sorry I’ve been away. I definitely haven’t been idle though!

As you’re able to see from exploring my website, I have worked exceedingly hard to update the services I offer. In this modern world of uncertainty, to be able to diversify is to remain financially afloat. I am absolutely delighted to be able to surround myself in the fascinating world of words.

I imagine you’re wondering what else I could have possibly been doing in a lockdown, to have prevented me from writing blog posts. Well, I’ve worked a little on my own writing projects, worked on a ghostwriting project, studied for my next uni assignment, cut my own fringe, kept up with caring for my horses and dog, as well as completing distance learning CPD courses. Phew! No wonder I am absolutely shattered…

Whilst my poor – already injured – hand is painful from all the writing (the printer ran out of ink and as printer ink isn’t an essential purchase, I chose to hand-write notes instead), I successfully completed a Bookkeeping for Personal & Business Accounting course, along with a CPD (Continued Professional Development) Proofreading & Copy-editing course; for which I achieved 100% on the final test! *High-five myself due to social distancing rules*

I may have square eyes and a broken hand now, but the fact I’ve managed to achieve a lot in lockdown got me to thinking as to why more schools and universities aren’t offering online courses for free. What better way is there to utilise our time than to better ourselves? Education is power. Surely, it’s about time we all had access to opportunities to pursue our dreams? Life is too damn short not to.

I am exceedingly fortunate to be on track to pursuing my dreams, having recently taken the leap into freelance ghostwriting – now proofreading and beta reading too – though some aren’t so lucky.

All I can hope is that everyone finds their own piece of positivity, amidst this time of turbulence. I hope you’re able to find your own peace during this pandemic!

Best wishes,

Dannika

( P.S. In case you needed a laugh, following are two photographs from this evening – ‘before’ and ‘after’. My apologies in advance for not having any make-up on whatsoever, for not using a filter, and for wearing my PJs. Hope my embarrassing attempt at DIY hair-cutting gives you a giggle! <3 )

Uncategorized

Guest Post – Laura Sherman, Ghostwriter

Laura Sherman, also known as the Friendly Ghostwriter, has been an independent ghostwriter for twenty years. She mostly writes memoirs, but also helps clients with business books and fiction.

Interview with a Ghostwriter: What to Expect

Have you decided that this is the year to write your book? If so, allow me to congratulate you. That is a wonderful goal! If you’re similar to many other busy successful people, you may need a little help. If so, you may find you learn a lot just from a simple interview with a ghostwriter.

The initial interview with a ghostwriter

Naturally there are questions you want to ask to determine whether a particular ghostwriter might be qualified to take on your project. I cover this topic extensively in my article, Interview Questions for a Ghostwriter.

However, while you are interviewing her, she is also gathering information which will help her decide if she is the best ghost for you. Through this initial interview with a ghostwriter you will take the first step toward understanding what will be required to complete your book.

The genre of your book

The three most popular book requests I receive are: fiction, business nonfiction, and memoir. Within those classifications, there are many subcategories. For instance, if you’re writing a fictional story, you have various choices of genre: drama, science fiction, fantasy and young adult, to name a few.

If you’re writing business nonfiction, there are a wide variety of subjects as well as a few choices of styles of presentation of the facts and information. Some authors prefer text only, while others opt to include many photos. When I wrote Chess Is Child’s Play, we included many fun text boxes with tips and anecdotes for the reader to enjoy.

Memoirs are pretty straightforward. They are typically written in the first person and look and feel like a novel (even though they are true stories). However, some are presented as a diary or journal.

Keep in mind, there is some cross-over, too. For instance, you can have a memoir that is only loosely based on fact but is primarily a novel. Or a novel that feels like memoir but is actually completely fictional. In addition, many entrepreneurs who have important lessons to impart will write a nonfiction how-to book and sprinkle many humorous anecdotes throughout. Another option is to write a memoir and include many tips and tricks of the trade to educate the readers.

When you interview with a ghostwriter, make sure to know your book’s genre so you can hire the best ghost for the job; most writers specialize in certain genres.

Readership

One of the biggest errors a new author can make is to try to write his book for “everyone.” While some books are very popular with a lot of people, you always want to direct your creative energies to a certain demographic.

For instance, a how-to book giving practical parenting advice for single parents will be written very differently than a science fiction novel aimed at the young adult market. The voice and style will vary depending on the readers you wish to entertain or educate.

During your interview with a ghostwriter work to determine the right readership for your book and make sure your ghost can capture the style and voice required to resonate with them.

Subsequent Interviews

After you complete your initial interview with a ghostwriter, you will probably immediately know if this writer will be your ghost. A rapport and bond should form quickly. If you have to “think about it,” the answer is probably no. Interview another writer.

Once you sign the contract and send the down payment, the next step will be to send all the written information you might have to your new ghostwriter. For me, one of the best sources of research is in written form. This gives me a great foundation to start learning what I need to know to write your book.

Some clients have a first draft that needs a complete overhaul, while others have a lot of detailed notes. Some provide journal entries or articles, while some have notes or documents written on cocktail napkins. Gather up all these pieces so you can send them to your ghostwriter. These written samples are invaluable, as they will help your ghostwriter capture your voice.

After your ghostwriter has reviewed all your written material, she will need to continue to interview you. Please know that these ongoing interviews are vital. They help your ghostwriter get the detailed information she needs to fully and accurately capture your style and written voice.

Getting personal with a memoir

If you want your writer to accurately portray you to your reader, it’s important that you participate in each interview with a ghostwriter fully.

That means if you’re writing a memoir, you must share your most personal experiences, thoughts and feelings sincerely and honestly. While you don’t need to include everything in your book, you can’t hide from all the negative events that happened.

Don’t try to make out that your life is wonderful all the time. You need to show your flaws and share your errors. Readers need to be able to identify with you. They need to see that you’re human. If you portray yourself as perfect, the reader will know that you’re lying.

And your book will be boring.

Just like life, a good story must have conflict to be interesting. So, you must be willing to open up to your readers. That begins with your ghostwriter. Your ghostwriter will help you by asking broad questions. If the questions spark an idea, feel free to elaborate. It’s fine to go off-topic for a bit because that may open the door to more ideas and even bring up interesting incidents which might have been a bit buried. Most of my clients remember many details when they interview with me, their friendly ghostwriter.

One word of warning: if you’re thinking of speaking ill of someone, be aware that he or she may read your book. Consider carefully if you are willing to face the consequences. After all, anything you put in writing is permanent.

Helpful material for a ghostwriter

My clients usually wish to write their book with me. I always embrace this partnership and strive to teach them about the process every step of the way, if that’s what they desire. However, some authors prefer a more hands-off approach. In those cases, I simply write pages and submit them on a regular basis.

There are various key research elements a client can provide that make my job a lot easier.

Biographies of characters

No matter what the genre, it is always helpful to collect biographies of the people mentioned in the book (whether they be fictional or not). If I’m writing a memoir for a client, I like to know the following information so that I can write a truly three-dimensional character:

  • Full name
  • Birthdate (month and year)
  • Birthplace and residences
  • Hair and eye color
  • Body description
  • General mood
  • Hobbies or interests

This is a good starting point, but, really, there is a lot more that can be added to this list. Consider all the things that make this person truly unique.

A detailed list of incidents

Any fiction book or memoir is really comprised of a series of incidents. It’s a timeline of the events that happen to your characters.

In order to get started on your outline, I need to know what happened. This list doesn’t have to include a lot of information. In fact, when you’re just starting out, it can just be a list of key words that triggers the right concept for you. Then, during your interview, your ghostwriter will pull out the relevant details to understand the scene as well as you do.

For instance, if you’re writing your memoir, you might jot down:

  • The time I got food poisoning in LA
  • The first horror movie I attended with a boy
  • The time I flew to Paris to meet my sister

Once you make a giant list of all these incidents, you can even delve in a little further and add a few more pertinent facts:

  • Who was involved?
  • Where did it take place?
  • When did it happen?
  • What was the significance for you?

Enjoy each interview with a ghostwriter. You’ll learn a lot and, through the process, you and your ghost will create an excellent book.

Author, Uncategorized

About Emetophobia

Millions of people around the world suffer this debilitating phobia, yet shockingly few people seem to know what it is.

If you dont already know what emetophobia is, I wont be explaining it here; so as not to trigger any fellow emetophobes. It should take seconds to search on Google though 🙂

I’ve suffered from it since I was around 7 years old. They say it can usually be traced back to one particularly horrific experience. For me, I’m almost certain it was the Christmas my Dad under-cooked a turkey.

For those who cant understand, whatever I am about to write will probably confirm whatever judgements you may have made about me being out-of-the-ordinary. If you happen to think my anxious habits strange, then I totally get it, I do. Heck, I have always stressed myself out over it, but it is part of me now. And I wont apologise for being me, just as no genuine, good, considerate person should – without our uniqueness the world would be a pretty boring place!

Anyways, instances of the phobic variety cause any emetophobia sufferer to go into panic overdrive. No amount of disinfecting, hand washing, starvation or self-isolation seems enough protection. It’s a guarantee an emetophobe will take weeks if not months to recover from being in the vicinity of an incident, regardless of the fact they almost certainly weren’t to experience it themselves. Should anyone around appear to show any sign remotely related to the instance that sends we phobics into a full-power nervous breakdown, we will not only keep our distance – we’ll also obsessively clean ourselves, often avoid food just in case our already anxious stomach is upset to the point of no return, and even lock ourselves away from the outside world for 24-48 hours, until we’ve satisfied the emet-demon that we’re safe from catching anything sinister.

As you can imagine, this makes virtually every activity an anxiety attack risk. Travelling in the car or public transport there’s a chance fellow travelers become a cause for concern – whether on the side of the road or within our immediate breathing space. Going clubbing, or for nights out, or house parties involving copious amounts of alcohol consumption never end well – the resulting effects are usually a source of hilarity for everyone else; whereas it’s the complete opposite for us. Going on holiday and trying new, exotic foods is terrifying enough to put us off going away in the first place. And don’t get me started on the agonizing strength of anxiousness experienced when attending or working in an environment surrounded by children – the majority of whom don’t seem to have a decent grasp on hand hygiene, and tend to find foul happenings funny. Watching films, especially in the cinema when relatives and friends haven’t been able to ‘vet’ it for you first, is a white-knuckle experience akin to jumping out of an aeroplane if you have a phobia of heights. You become superstitious, afraid to wear the same clothes as the day of any given incident – even if it was experienced by someone else – just in case it’s bad omen.

Emetophobia turns you into your own worst enemy, as you are petrified of your own body. Can you imagine living in this constant state of highly pressurized anxiety 24/7? It’s the reality for emetophobics.

Due to emetophobia, I developed anxiety, OCD and depression. However, after attending my GP, therapy (CBT didn’t work for me unfortunately, though I was thankful it helped me understand the phobia a little better) and going through some rather challenging times, I learned that any traumatic experience has potential to be a trigger for emetophobia. For me, being bullied in school, then sexually and emotionally abused as an adult, had a devastating effect on my mental health due to the added strain of living with this life-limiting phobia. Occasionally to the point I wasn’t sure how I could continue to live in this state of constant torture (I have my horses, dogs, family and friends to thank infinitely for helping me save myself).

Over the years I developed many habits a normal person would certainly consider odd. Whilst in school, I’d change my clothes and shower at least three times a day – wouldn’t allow any of my school clothes, bags, shoes etc. to ‘contaminate’ anything related to the rest of my life (most namely that which I considered precious, so primarily anything to do with my horses). If Mum expected me to leave school and go straight to the stables without showering and changing my clothes, I’d have a meltdown. I went through a phase when starvation seemed the best way to avoid the risk altogether. Since I was being bullied anyway, I figured losing weight whilst preventing any threat to my ‘safe’ existence would be a win win. So, I would eat as little as I possibly could. My lunch would end up fed to the seagulls hanging around the high school playing fields, and I’d do all I could to avoid mealtimes – my parents rarely allowed me to leave the table without at least a few mouthfuls of dinner. Even then I’d only eat bland food. I would spend as long as humanly fathomable at the stables, exercising off as much ‘fat’ as I possibly could, content in the knowledge I was safe from my phobia, as well as from bullies. I was never an overweight child, but I was 6 and a half stone until my late teens.

Once I’d left school I learned to manage my phobia far better. Without skipping by my adult experiences, during the couple of years of fighting continuous phobic tendencies, I ramped up my usual OCD handwashing and personal hygiene processes. I started using excessive amounts of hand sanitizer, to the point I developed severe eczema on my hands. I stopped having to change clothes every five minutes, but I ended up trying out many different stomach settling medications and meditation to try calm myself down. I had a few exceedingly wobbly days and took to the drastic measure of staying awake all night when I believed myself most vulnerable to all manner of horrors – worst of all that phobic instance. Quite sad really, that because I was so focused on dealing with the hellish mental state emetophobia forced me into, I didn’t realise the extent to which I should’ve realised how terrible other realms of my life had become. I daren’t risk getting pregnant, for the crippling fear I experienced just thinking about what might happen to me relating to this dreadful phobia. Perhaps that was why my situation was fraught with frustration; I couldn’t bring myself to provide what everyone so desperately wanted.

Thankfully, that phase of my life ended. Divorced from the shackles of fear controlling my every manouvere, freedom seemed all the more wondrous. It took quite a long time to recover, and I’m sure that perhaps deep down I will always be recovering, but I want to assure you there’s light at the end of the tunnel if you suffer emetophobia.

You don’t have to be terrified of your body every second of every day, despite the fact that’s what we end up being.

I get my bad days like everyone does with this awful phobia-demon, though my protective habits mainly consist of:

* Being vegetarian (I admit my phobia isn’t the only reason I chose to be veggie).

* Keeping my hands clean as possible at all times.

* Always avoid touching my face unless I’ve just washed my hands.

* Carrying extra strong mints with me if my stomach does feel a little off (which tends to do the trick by settling such sensations).

* Taking great comfort in learning that the only real cause for a phobic instance is poisoning (even then it could manifest in the opposite direction; through pregnancy or catching something it isn’t a necessity either) – there are people who have genuinely lived their entire lives without remembering an instance.

* Reminding myself that I’ve survived many awful episodes surrounded by phobic triggers, and I’ve been absolutely fine once I’ve looked back – which makes it feel I’ve wasted time worrying and overthinking.

* Working as a vet receptionist and having to repeat trigger words literally hundreds of times a day, means I can say trigger words without experiencing a spike in anxiety levels.

* Having an amazing boyfriend/wonderful family/fab friends who keep an eye out for phobia triggers in films so I know when to avoid them. I’ve improved to the point that I’ll even watch films with phobic instances in, provided I cover my ears and close my eyes until the offending scene is over – something I’d never have done even two years ago (I’d have avoided watching the film at all).

I’ve also been following some Instagram pages that review films and post whether they’re ‘safe’ for emetophobes or not. In fact, I decided to do something to help others in my situation, using the fact I was noting TV programs and films as being ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’ for fellow emetophobics as a sort of self-therapy.

If I get enough of a response, I may well post what I managed to list if I can find it. I may even start adding to it again if there’s demand…

I do really feel it would be worth having films, TV shows, books, magazines, even plays marked with logos such as the following. It would make life a heck of a lot more bearable for those of us with emetophobia – what do you think?

<- Image Copyright 2020 ©D.E. Kendall

(I’m aware it’d be virtually impossible to roll out, as there are countless phobias that could be triggered by any of the entertainment vessels mentioned above, but it may be a consideration for a particularly ambitious collective to create some sort of listing for anyone with varying degrees of different phobias, to make consuming entertainment more comfortable for everyone.)

Now you’re fully aware of my idiosyncrasies, I hope I’ve helped you feel a hundred times better about yourself – regardless of whatever mental health issue(s) you’re dealing with 🙂

Please know that you are never alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you’re struggling. We are all stronger than we believe – the fact we’ve fought our fears up to this very moment prove that; we have no reason not to continue being courageous.

You’ll be fine <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Author, Uncategorized, Writing

About Sheep

Heyy Ewe!

Thought it might be nice to write a blog post about sheep – the underrated heroes of the British countryside.

They graze and fertilize pastures to allow for improved grass growth in the future; they cross-graze land with other livestock such as horses – consuming plants that horses cannot; and, let’s face it, there’s no lovelier sight on a glorious spring day than newborn lambs pinging and springing around our fields.

I confess, I am not fortunate enough to have my own farm. I pay to keep my gorgeous horses at a beautiful (arguably the most beautiful) place around a 30 minute drive away from home. In the spirit of helpfulness, my family and I try our best to assist with the care of the 100-or-so sheep who live at the farm. All baaa (see what I did there?) one are female, with just one castrated male – we helped hand-rear him a few years ago – who blends in perfectly with the girls.

We’ve had countless adventures whilst helping look after the sheep over the last decade; far too many to fit into one blog post! So to summarize, most winters are spent trudging through thigh-high (well, almost – maybe mid-calf to knee level on average) mud in all weathers to feed and check over the girls. Most of them are polite, standing back until their feed is in the trough and we’ve stepped away. There are a few Welsh-breed ewes who were born with attitude, however. They’re the ones we have to watch, because in their falsified state of starvation, their enthusiasm and affection are exaggerated; they’ve been known to knock us over accidentally – we’ve all face-planted the mud at some point. Then there’s lambing – wondrous and stressful in equal measure. Since a serious hand injury 5 years ago, unfortunately I haven’t assisted with any births. Before that, I am proud to say that when called upon I was able to save the lives of quite a few ewes and their lambs. One lamb was named Dannika by the lovely lady who owns the farm, after I saved both the lamb and her mother from what would’ve been an impossible birth. I am pleased to report that Dannika has grown up beautifully, and has since gone on to have twin lambs of her own 🙂

We’ve also helped hand-rear a number of lambs over the years. Again, just as with lambing, there are sad times accompanying that delightful sense of achievement when the lambs you’ve helped raise are able to join the flock. There’s no feeling quite like watching the lambs bounce around with joy in the spring sunshine, after you’ve worked tirelessly to keep them happy and healthy.

They don’t only provide entertainment as lambs though. We’ve encountered an array of colourful characters, the most infamous being Dot. She was the biggest character of all. A seemingly straight-forward, normal, run-of-the-mill sheep with a black dot on her knee, to the average observer Dot was no different to the thousands of other sheep gracing our Welsh mountains. To us, however, Dot was a legend.

Confidence permeated her fluffy white fleece. No obstacle was too much for her to take on. Even dangerous dogs with sharp teeth posed no threat to Dot.

Sometimes we wondered whether Dot actually realised she was a sheep, and not an adrenaline junkie horse-dog.

If Dot had a CV, the opening lines would read something like this: “I have the ability to escape any field. Doesn’t matter how reinforced the fencing is, I will defeat it. I teach my offspring to attack on command; they establish the weakness of their enemy and exploit it (with humans it’s the back of their knees, with dogs it’s their face). If you need a tack shed or barn broken into, I’m your girl. I boast excellent lock-picking skills; I’ve been known to terrify the living daylights out of liveries, by appearing in their tack sheds unannounced. There isn’t a creature on the planet I’m scared of. Dogs, horses, cattle, cars, tractors, cyclists etc. flee at the mere sight of me. I can walk up to any horse on the farm and demand they share their dinner with me – they never refuse. All-in-all I’d say I’m pretty well-rounded, as I work well as leader of a team (sheep seem to follow me everywhere), but even better as an individual. I’m a champion lawn-mower too, having escaped into many a garden to save homeowners expensive gardening fees.”

Sadly Dot disappeared two years ago, never to be seen since.

One of the newest characters in the flock is Janet. Once a shy, retiring type, the day-before-yesterday she waltzed up to me for the first time ever, demanding I feed her.

Janet says, “Hi!”

I will undoubtedly keep you updated on various sheep shenanigans – I’m sure you’ll be introduced to many more characters over this series of blog posts – but for now, I’ll sign off. Leaving you with this photograph of Janet and I from the other day…

Janet & I 🙂

Best wishes,

Dannika

Author, Uncategorized

About The Pandemic

Another grey day here in exotic South Wales 🙂

Though a new day brings with it further panic and confusion about the dreaded COVID-19 outbreak, a.k.a ‘Coronavirus’.

Not only have workplaces, entertainment venues and schools been closed, but people seem to be divided into two types; the helpers and the hoarders.

‘Helpers’ are those who selflessly ensure all around them are safe, entertained and catered for.

‘Hoarders’ are those who have lost sight of humanity and choose to act like raving wild animals, hoarding supplies as if settling down for a year-long hibernation.

From what I have seen, there are thankfully far more helpers out there than hoarders. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by level-headed, sensible human beings, who have put their caring hats on to make a positive impact for their local communities.

Whereas hoarders seem to have pushed any form of thinking hat aside, in favour of useless face masks that will not protect them from catching COVID-19. These are the people stockpiling ridiculous amounts of toilet-roll, hand sanitizer, washing-up liquid, tinned food, pasta and potatoes – though to be fair to them, they have graciously left plenty of Pot Noodles available for the rest of us. It is disappointing to see this in the twenty-first century. A time of plenty, in which more people are aware of goings on in the world than ever before.

I can understand the sense of panic, but what I cannot fathom is the fact they’re leaving vulnerable loved ones at risk – because most people, particularly those who are vulnerable, simply can’t afford to stockpile anything (I know I can’t!). All we can hope is these people see the error of their ways, and share supplies with people in need.

My thoughts go out to everyone affected by this pandemic in any way… <3

I have awesome relatives and fantastic friends working in front-line services, such as the NHS and social care sectors; my infinite appreciation of their efforts will – I’m sure – be echoed by everyone, as they keep the UK going.

In case anyone is unsure of the symptoms of Coronavirus, or protocols surrounding self-isolation, here’s the link to the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

There’s a heck of a lot of false news floating around, creating incomprehensible levels of hysteria. Please be very careful and selective about the information you share on social media! If none of us are careful, social realms will be ruled by dodgy individuals intent only on causing further havoc. Likelihood is, those spreading incorrect information about are the very same people who are selling basic sanitary products, such as hand sanitizer, online for extortionate prices. Let’s not fall prey to their deplorable dealings; let’s keep looking out for one another, focusing on staying positive instead.

Luckily, I have no reason to self-isolate at the moment. Although, because I am not risking contact with my grandparents – as they’re in the highest risk category – I realise how much I take for granted being able to see them whenever I’d like. Which is why it’s so important to keep one another’s spirits lifted right now; despite having to remain 6ft apart, we’re all in this together.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones!

Best wishes,

Dannika

Adventure, Author, Uncategorized, Writing

A Blog!

Hi 🙂

So, given the state of the world right now, thought I’d add some consumable content to the ether…

Welcome to your daily dose of Dannika!

It’s my sincerest hope that you gain something from my ramblings. Whether that’s a smile, a laugh, a new viewpoint (we readers are naturally nosy after all), or simply some entertainment for a few minutes of your day.

I want to ensure everyone remains connected during these uncertain times of isolation and toilet-roll hoarding. My wish is that this is a safe place to go when you’re feeling overwhelmed, alone, or bored. I’d love for you to share your own ideas and stories too, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Together, we can try to turn this devastating reality into an amazing adventure. Are you with me?

If so, please visit whenever you’d like – I will be writing to my heart’s content. Even I have no idea what I’ll be writing about, so I cannot tell you what to expect – all I know is it’ll be a fresh experience for us all 🙂

Best wishes,

Dannika