Knox Box of Miscellany

Dawn Knox – A rearranger of words into something hopefully meaningful…

25th June 2014
by Dawnknox
Comments Off on O is for Outsider – DaffOdil and the Thin Place

O is for Outsider – DaffOdil and the Thin Place

0804Cairo 066_edited-1It looks like she’s locked in but in fact, it was me on the inside and the little girl, was actually outside. I was part of a band of tourists who were visiting the Sphinx in Cairo and she was trying to make a living through the bars. It must have been hard for her to have seen so many wealthy people just a few feet away but to have been kept from them. Being an outsider is hard – especially in your own city.

Many teenagers feel like outsiders. The popular ones are thought of as the elite and the rest think they fall short somehow. I often think it would be great if all those who don’t consider themselves as ‘popular’ banded together and became the majority. Or even better, realised they are valuable people, no matter what anyone else says.

Daffodil started out as an outsider but by the end of her story, she found she no longer cared and because of that, she suddenly became more popular.

“I’d been hanging around the Popular Girls at break last week while they were planning their weekend.

“…an’ after that, we’ll go an’ see a film,” said Marion.

“Ooh, yes,” said the girls enthusiastically.

“You comin’?” she asked me.

The others stared at her for a second, checking they hadn’t misunderstood, and then to my amazement, they all nodded.

I couldn’t believe my luck. I’d been invited out by the Popular Girls. Yay! And then the nightmare began …

“You can’t come out with us because you have to do…what?” asked Marion as if I’d just told her I’d rather stay home doing extra maths homework.

“Go to a wedding,” I whispered.

“My aunt got married in a hot air balloon,” said one of the girls. “Where’s your wedding?”

All eyes swivelled back to me.

I could’ve lied. I could’ve told them my cousin was going to get married while bungee jumping or that I’d be flying off to the Caribbean for a cool, beach wedding. But what was the point? On Monday, they’d be sure to ask awkward questions like, why didn’t I have a suntan? Better to be thought of as boring than as a liar.

“St. Nicholas Church,” I whispered.

“What? That old ruin on the hill?”

I nodded miserably but no one noticed. Was it was too late to lie? Apparently it was. The Popular Girls had already turned away.

“Honestly, you can’t win, can you?” said Marion with a shrug, “You try to be nice to a Nobody and look what happens.”

It was as if I didn’t exist, and of course now, in their eyes, I didn’t. In the space of five minutes, I’d unexpectedly become a Somebody and then been shoved back into the world of Nobodies. And it had all been the fault of the stupid wedding.”

To continue the story, why not check out the book here

24th June 2014
by Dawnknox
Comments Off on The Second F is for Foreign – DafFodil and the Thin Place

The Second F is for Foreign – DafFodil and the Thin Place

CaciToday, I’m thinking about the fourth letter of DAFFODIL, the second F. And this F is for Foreign.

The chap on the left is rather foreign – well, he is to me. To the lady behind the drum on the right of the photo, I was the foreign one. He’s actually a Caci dancer up in the hills of Flores, Indonesia and is just about to start his warrior dance. Not the sort of thing you see everyday in England.

So, is Daffodil foreign? Well, no, not really. She’s a teenager from Basildon, Essex although being a teenager from anywhere, may, in some people’s eyes, qualify her as being foreign. But it’s more what she claimed to be, than what she is. During her first encounter with Mr. Hornsby, the schoolmaster, she has to explain away her twentieth century clothes and as they are slightly gypsy-like. She starts to tell him she’s a gypsy, when the voice, who Mr. Hornsby can’t hear, warns her not to…

““Er, my mother’s foreign, and these are the sort of clothes she wears.

“Foreign, you say?”

Looking down at my clothes, I had a mad flash of inspiration.

“She’s a gy—”

“Don’t mention gypsies,” warned the voice.

“Well, actually, she’s a Roma—”

“No!” whispered the voice insistently.

“Not Romany, I hope,” Mr. Hornsby bellowed. “I will not tolerate those people here, with their spells and curses!”

How was I going to get out of this? It would be difficult to explain why I was dressed gypsy-style if I wasn’t a gypsy. It was lucky I hadn’t worn a short skirt and t-shirt. How would I have explained that?

I needed to invent a believable story or at least one that he wouldn’t be able to prove one way or the other.

I stood up straight, took a deep breath to steady my nerves and said the first thing that came into my mind, “My mother comes from a tiny region in Russia and belongs to a group of people called the Romaneros.””

If you want to know how Daffodil becoming a Romanero, (if only in the eyes of a few) changes her outlook on life, you can find out here in ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’

23rd June 2014
by Dawnknox
Comments Off on F is for Fearful – DaFfodil and the Thin Place

F is for Fearful – DaFfodil and the Thin Place

Scary, sky high stunts at Goodwood Festival of Speed

Scary, sky high stunts at Goodwood Festival of Speed. The only fearful ones were the onlookers.

Being fearful isn’t such a bad thing. I bet the parents of the boys on the left wished their sons were a bit more fearful and wanted to keep both feet and wheels on the ground. But its a problem if fear gets in the way of doing something you’d really like to do.

Daffodil draws on inner strengths to overcome her fear. The voice recognises Daffodil’s fearlessness before she knows it herself and they have the following conversation:

“But that’s not how I thought life in the future would be at all! You sound like a shadow,” said the voice.

“What d’you mean?”

“It sounds like you’re only half alive.”

I thought about it and had to admit she was right.

“If you’re different from everyone else at school, then you get picked on. You can either stand out and get bullied or become invisible.”

“You are not behaving as though you are invisible here. You stood up to Josiah with much courage. I fear I rather misjudged you earlier when I compared you to mashed turnip. My first instincts at the wedding were right. You are strong.”

I’ll tell you on of the things that helped Daffodil to become more courageous next time or you can read it for yourself in ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’ here

22nd June 2014
by Dawnknox
Comments Off on Daffodil – A is for Apprehensive

Daffodil – A is for Apprehensive

St. Nicholas Church

St. Nicholas Church

It’s natural to be apprehensive when you find yourself in new situations. And discovering you’ve arrived back in time, years before you were born could easily be considered one such occasion. Knowing you have a voice trapped in your stomach might be another.

Poor Daffodil finds herself in the churchyard after hearing the voice inside her:

I stood nervously with my back against the knobbly stones of the church wall, imagination in overdrive – heart thumping and eyes swivelling back and forth, searching the silent graveyard for…well, I didn’t know what I was looking for, but if I saw it, I was ready to run…

21st June 2014
by Dawnknox
Comments Off on D is for… Daffodil and Determined

D is for… Daffodil and Determined

Balinese girl fishing using her skirt

No net? No problem! All the boys had nets and were catching fish from the side of the lake but this little Balinese girl hopped in and used her skirt! That’s determination!

I’m not sure what’s worse, an apathetic teenager or a determined one! They both present challenges and I’m sure you have plenty of examples of both.

What type is Daffodil?

Well, she starts her story as someone who is afraid to get involved, but it’s not long, before she finds her tenacious streak.

“…My eyes fell on the bloodless face of Amelia, lying motionless by the oven. She was doomed and so was I, unless I rescued us both.

My legs had as much strength as soggy spaghetti but I’d have to do the final lap, even if I did it on all fours.”

20th June 2014
by Dawnknox
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Daffodil is Unleashed on the World!

Daffodil and the Thin Place 300dpiI can hardly believe my first book has been published! I can’t thank Muse It Up Publishing enough, for believing in me and for being so welcoming. When I received the email that told me they would publish ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’, the message started with ‘Welcome to our family’. I thought it was some sort of spam! Little did I know that the Muse It Up Publishing community is just like a family. Lea and Chris are encouraging and hard working and the other Muse It Up Authors are supportive and helpful. So, I’d like to thank them all.

And if you decide to buy the book, I’d like to thank you too.

You can find details here

19th June 2014
by Dawnknox
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FOGOF

140511LembehRainforest26Admittedly, before I went to Sulawesi, Indonesia, I knew very little about tarsiers. Not least that one of the few areas of the world tarsiers inhabit, is Sulawesi. But they are now amongst my favourite animals.

Jamie and I went on a special trip to Tangkoko National Park in North Sulawesi in order to find one and our guide took us to about six different trees where they often appear. He spotted several but they were so high up, it was hard to see them and as soon as we got close, they shot further up the tree, out of sight. Finally, the light was going and we were about to head back when he saw one high above. I could just make out the enormous eyes shining in the gloom and I found him in the viewfinder of my camera. I fired off about a dozen shots although I wasn’t sure if he was still there, as my glasses had steamed up completely. So, when I got back to our resort and I downloaded the photos, I was amazed to see not one tarsier but two!

A case of FOGOF,  Find One, Get One Free!

‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’ is out tomorrow. It’s not an FOGOF but it’s still very good value and if you pre-order today here, it’s cheaper

18th June 2014
by Dawnknox
Comments Off on How thin is thin?

How thin is thin?

 Looking through the arch from one side of St. Nicholas Churchyard to the other, towards Billericay.

Looking through the arch from one side of St. Nicholas Churchyard to the other, towards Billericay.

What is a ‘thin place’?

Apparently, thin places are sites where the veil between this world and the eternal world is thin. They include places where people have prayed or had positive thoughts for many years, such as some churches or other sites of special religious significance. St. Nicholas Church, Laindon with Dunton, Essex is one such thin place although, I know there are many more.

I like the idea of places being thin. I find it comforting to think that the eternal world isn’t far away. But I’d love to know what it was, that was once thicker and then got thinner.

And how did the prayers and positive thoughts wear away, whatever it is ?

And how thin does it have to be before a place can be described as thin?

And what happens if it gets thinner and thinner? Will it eventually wear away to nothing? And then what happens?

Perhaps I ought to stop overthinking and just be glad I have access to my own thin place at St. Nicholas Church where the peace and serenity just wash over you, – if you let it. If you want to experience thinness, why not find your way to St. Nicholas Church too?

It’s a great place to be and it also inspired a story. ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’ – published  in two days here

 

17th June 2014
by Dawnknox
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Lucky Writing Cherub

My Lucky Writing Cherub  You may recognise the cheeky chappie, who’s on the left (see my banner). It’s my lucky cherub. It’s actually the writing set my dad gave me to bring me luck with my story writing.

I don’t actually use it as a writing set, it’s more of a good luck charm but whenever I pass the cherub, I stroke his head. Silly? Yes, probably. But he’s been quite kind so far and I wouldn’t want to upset him.

A British University showed that more than 30% of those who carried good luck charms felt their luck had genuinely improved, so I’m obviously not alone.

So, if you’re a writer, do you have a lucky charm? Or a lucky ritual?

Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to submit a story to a publisher and there’s a cherub’s head that needs stroking.

P.S. Only three more days until ‘Daffodil and the Thin Place’ is released, a direct result of stroking a cherub’s head. You can see it here (the book, not the cherub!)

16th June 2014
by Dawnknox
1 Comment

The Day After Father’s Day

James and MumIt’s so easy to take your mum for granted.

Those of us lucky enough to have the Best Mum in the World, grow up knowing she’s always there to encourage, mop up tears and make things happen as if by magic. She shows you how to treat those around you – how to be loving, kind and thoughtful.

If your mum is anything like my mum, there’s one thing she wont have done and that’s to teach you that she is a person too, with wants and needs – someone who craves love and needs your respect. It’s a mark of how selfless she is and how shortsighted I am that it took me longer than it ought, to recognise this. She’d always make sure I understood to whom I should show gratitude and always avoid mentioning herself. Of course, I knew she was wonderful but knowing and recognising are sometimes two different things.

It’s so easy when you’re young to take note of all the things your mum tells you and to assume that’s the definitive list. I guess it takes maturity and experience to realise there might be something missing and that thing is your mum’s name, which should be at the top of that list.

So, following on from Father’s Day yesterday, when I celebrated my dad, and being aware that this blog wasn’t in existence when it was Mother’s Day, here’s my tribute to my mum.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Mum. You are very precious to me. Happy Day After Father’s Day.