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#WhateverWednesday A Moment of Clarity at the Passenger Gig

Frankie Av

Last night my sister-in-law and I took my son to his very first concert in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh. We’d been trying for a while to get tickets to go see Passenger, and as a first concert, I think it might have blown my boys mind. It blew my mind and I’ve been to some amazing concerts! But, what started as taking my son to his first ever gig, became a moment of self-realization, and for that reason alone, last night is one of the best gigs I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending.


The thing about Passenger–Mike Rosenberg–is there is always a message to his music. I’ve always felt his music means more than just the beat, tempo or lyrics, and seeing him live proved that even more. The energy Mike has on stage is amazing. He never stops moving, plays the guitar like it’s part of his anatomy and sings like his heart is melting. Even his explanations for the lyrics and his amusing–sometimes sorrowful–anecdotes between songs tell me that Mike really means what he sings about.

There is emotion, amusement, tragedy, energy, amazing arrangements and just pure awesome on the stage of a Passenger gig. There is passion behind the lyrics, true meaning behind the words. His songs are not written with the express intent of gaining fame or money, but to send a message to all who might listen.


But there was one particular part of the show which really resonated with me. He introduced the song Twenty-Seven with a short explanation of why he wrote it. At a time when he was low, fed up, tired and frustrated about his career, he wrote Twenty-Seven to cheer himself up, and to remind himself that if you are passionate about something, don’t be discouraged. Do whatever it is, and do it from the heart. Don’t listen to those who might discourage you, because this is damaging to a creative mind.

The words he used last night were along the lines of feeling frustrated about getting nowhere, about feeling like you are doing something for nothing and no one is interested. As a writer, I often feel this way. There are times I’ve sat and cried frustrated tears and wondered why the hell I waste my time with writing books and blogs and make vlogs no one really looks at.

Often wonder why I bother, or sometimes why I even try. Yet I do it because I want to convey messages, too. I want to spread joy, amusement, my love of people, of animals, of good music and great stories. I want to raise awareness for those in need, want to fight for this world and everything which lives upon it. I want to tell folk how a stupid toy pony can make my day, or how my book sold a single copy and put a smile on my face for a week. I do it because I enjoy it, I love making people smile, and because it means something to me and others.


I wish I’d had my camera running at that moment last night just to remember the exact words Mike said. When I got home I wondered if he said them in another concert so I searched and found the video below, but with slightly different wording. The message is still the same, still means something. So while there are times I get tired, low and frustrated about the lack of interaction or interest, Mike is right–keep doing what you love, no matter what, and I intend to. 

If you ever get the chance to see Passenger live, do yourself a favor and grab tickets and go see him. Amazing!

Passenger Official Site

Twitter: @passengermusic

Facebook: Passenger Facebook

YouTube: Passenger YouTube Channel

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE



#WeCreate My Wacom Cintiq!

Frankie Av

This week, I managed to get hold of something I’ve wanted for a very long time.

I’ve been using a Motion LE1700  tablet PC as a drawing slate, and have loved the art I’ve been able to produce on it. But the screen began to dull, getting progressively darker as the years went on. It got to the point that deciding colours was difficult as they came out much darker than intended. So I decided it was time to replace my poor old Motion tablet, and just keep it for sketching when I’m out and about.
I looked around the internet for a replacement, always gravitating back towards the top of the line Wacom Cintiq drawing slates. Highly expensive, I could never justify such a cost for the amount of hobbyist art I produce. Perhaps if I was a professional I might consider the cost, but then, it really didn’t have to be expensive, nor exactly brand new for that matter.


Therefore I started looking for a second hand Wacom Cintiq, an older model which would suffice my needs. I did a lot of research and looked at recommendations from around the globe and came to the conclusion that the 2007 Cintiq 12wx would be the perfect tablet for me. It has the same size screen as the one I currently use. It is an older model highly praised as a continuing ball player in the display/pen graphics tablet field. Wacom continue to support the tablet with drivers and such, with drivers for Windows 7, 8 and 10.


When I looked on Amazon, this particular tablet costs a fortune. It is still very much sought after and of course, sellers with this knowledge charge inordinate amounts of money for such a prized item. There were also some sites selling the slate brand new, for £1000… So I looked to Ebay, and found a few for sale. As I get too trigger happy when bidding on things, I left the bidding to my husband. He is a skilled bidder!
We were outbid on the first one by £60, but there were three more to bid on. One in particular caught my eye, finishing the following day with two pens. I contacted the seller, asked about the condition of the screen. The seller was good enough to send me a very clear photo of the screen and it appeared to be pristine. As I was working when the auction ended, I asked my husband to bid on it and let me know what happened. I received a text during my break; my husband managed to win the Cintiq, for less than half the price I expected!!

image host

My new Wacom Cintiq was delivered the day before yesterday. I followed its delivery on the courier map, literally bouncing in my seat the closer it came. I ran a running commentary with my friends on the Line app–I’m sure they were fed up with my excited squeals that morning! Then I began to doubt the transaction. What if I got it so cheap because there was something wrong? What if the photo I was sent had been cleaned up? What if I had squandered my money on a useless tablet which wouldn’t boot up when I finally got it?! These are the things you have to consider when buying from auction sites, and I always keep them at the back of my mind. But this was an expensive piece of kit, and one I had been wanting for years. If it didn’t work or wasn’t what I expected, I would be out of pocket and heartbroken.

I needn’t have worried.


The Wacom Cintiq came fully protected in its original box and with all items required to run it. The two pens were included, both of which are worth £160 alone. After being in the courier van and warehouse for a night, the Cintiq was cold and had a sheen of damp from the cold temperatures, so I was forced to leave it alone until it heated up and dried off. My OCD made me clean every single part of it before leaving it to heat up for a couple of hours. It was a long couple of hours. I tried to write and failed, managing little more than 500 words. I kept thinking about the Cintiq and what I would draw!


Finally I was able to set it up. It didn’t take too long, perhaps fifteen minutes by the time I set everything out and found the ports and sockets I needed. When I booted it up, I sat there, staring at this nice, bright and clear screen. It draws perfectly, with levels of brush sensitivity I’ve been unable to enjoy on the Motion due to the nature of its digitizer. The Cintiq is everything I expected, and everything I thought it should be. Intuitive, clear, bright, sharp and easy to use. I sat for an hour or two, just sketching and doodling and finally decided to make a proper first picture. This is it:


It is worth having at look at the second hand market for things you want as, sometimes, you manage to snatch the deal of the century. 😉

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

#FrankieWIP New Shifts, New Routine…All Mucked Up!

Frankie Av

A little update, a little apology and a little explanation…

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

#FrankieWIP Malevolence Ebook, Print Edition and Better Luck!

Frankie Av

So as promised, I have better news this week! I think I will just forget last week ever happened! Blurb print edition now on sale! Click the image! 😀



Music by Kevin MacLeod (

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

#FrankieWIP Happy Dragon Emerges!

Frankie Av

Fixed Malevolence PDF for print and Emergence is definitely emerging! 😀

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

#WhateverWednesday Scores of Scores

It has been a strange week so far. I haven’t even had my laptop on for two days, which is unheard of! It is usually on up to sixteen hours a day! Our heating system has finally been renewed and the workmen are gone, but now we have to decorate the house after ripping up carpets and floors. We also have to re-paper the walls after removal of old radiators, as well as get yet another workman in to quote us for new windows. So, it’s going to be a busy week.

Anyway, I know I gave Wolf’s Rain a right bashing the other day, and while I have not forgiven the awful ending, I have to say how much I love the OST. There is one song in particular which I have had on repeat since I heard it in one of the final episodes. I love it so much, it is now added to my Emergence playlist.
The composer is Yoko Kanno who is well known, respected and much loved in the anime industry for scores of beauty and heartache. Her talent is not wasted on Wolf’s Rain. It provided a score which underlined the harsh and dangerous journey the wolves took throughout the show. One song in particular, Shiro: Long tail’s is just a gorgeous composition.

Another of the songs is Heaven’s Not Enough with vocals by Steve Conte who also did the title song, Stray. Again, it is a haunting song and heartbreaking. This is the one I have placed in my Emergence playlist. It is so beautiful.

So in the end Wolf’s Rain wasn’t a complete loss.

I have so many original soundtracks, every one of them invoking different emotions and I find them so helpful when writing or drawing to enable me to concentrate while stirring my imagination. I couldn’t choose one favourite if I tried, but here are some of my favourite tracks which make it into many of my creative playlists.

1) Advent Children: Divinity I and II by composer Nobuo Uematsu. I use this one often when drawing or painting. It helps that this is from what is probably my most favourite film of all.

2) Caleb Leaves – Marco Beltrami score for the movie Knowing.
This one tears the heart out of me and I use it when I am writing a particularly sad scene. When watching the movie, this song always reduces me to tears as it lends to the scene so well. The slow build to a father’s grief is almost unbearable. It is a great writing song.

3) Flynn Lives – Daft Punk for the film Tron Legacy
This song is so powerful. It builds and builds into a gorgeous crescendo which makes my heart soar. I use this song and others from the OST for various things. Plus, it is one of my all time favourite films and soundtracks.

4) Oblivion – M8 with Susanne Sundfør on vocals, for the movie Oblivion.
I absolutely LOVE this song. I use it when painting and drawing and occasionally when editing. This is from another of my favourite films and soundtracks.

5) Baba Yetu, by Christopher Tin for the Civilization IV video game. I find this song so uplifting, so happy and just a perfect piece to use when creating and editing.

6) Che vuole questa musica stasera by Peppino Gagliardi, used in the movie The Man From U.N.C.L.E. This song is one of my very favourites. I think one reason is that during the scene in which this song is played, we get to see a nonchalant “Superman” eat a sandwich while his partner gets chased around a river XD No, seriously though, it is a beautiful piece of music and lends itself to many of my creative outlets.

Electric Romeo, and Serenata by Immediate Music. This is one of my favourite score orchestras. These guys are amazing and I have listened to them for years–as well as their lyrical band, Globus. Their songs are powerful, ranging from uplifting and joyous to sad and heart wrenching. I listen to their music during many projects.

This is only a tiny, tiny fraction of the music I use while writing and drawing. There is so much great music out there, from epic scores to silly ditties which can help bolster imagination and bring scenes to life in your mind. If I had the time, I would show you all my music faves, but that would take a very, very, very long time!
F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

#FrankieWIP Noise, Laughs and Writing!

Frankie Av

Apologies for no update yesterday. As you will hear in this video, we are getting a lot of work done in the house and it is too noisy to vlog. Even though the house is in a state of upheaval, I’ve managed to get a few things done this week 😀

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fiMALEVOLENCE

#WriteTip Idea Boards!

Frankie Av

Over the past few months I’ve told you about my writing routine. From my writing tools to playlists, bubble and flow charts to character boards. But what do I do with them once I have them ready?

Well, I make an idea board.

Now, I know many authors just write and find things such as I do merely a waste of time or an added unnecessary chore. I can almost hear them shouting “Oh, for crying out loud. Just get on with it!!” But, when you have a memory as bad as mine, combined with the attention span of a toddler, idea boards come in very handy.

While many authors are able to sit and write a book without the need for such a thing, I personally find an idea board invaluable. Writing is not my full-time occupation, and I have a lot of responsibilities in my life–even more so outwith my working hours. You don’t need to know what they are, suffice to say my time is split tenfold in all directions every day. It isn’t easy for me to find hours to sit and write. Therefore, since I often have long periods between writing, I need something to remind me what my goal is and something which can instantly get me back into writing. Yes, I know many authors are not full-time writers, and we all have our responsibilities, but-as with everything in life- we all do things differently. We all have our peculiarities, our rituals and routines. This is part of mine.

A simple cork-board with everything pinned to it helps me when I find my mind wandering or concentration wavering. It helps me when I have forgotten things or have strayed from the original story idea. My idea boards keep everything for my story in one easily accessible place. Once I have the outline complete and any ideas typed up or written down tidily and legibly, I pin them all to my board.  I often use small index cards to highlight main points and pin them to the board. I print out my flow charts and character sheets (printed on draft/economy mode and only once they are ready. I try not to waste paper and ink!) I also pin up my playlist details, chapter list, any photos or items which help me with the story. I only laminate very important pieces as I have accidentally ruined them in the past! I consult my idea board when writing to stay on track and reach targets I’ve set. It helps me remember exactly where I’m going with the story and reminds me of all the important plot points and twists.

I’ve already started the idea board for Emergence, but I need a new cork-board. My old one was damaged in the recent spring clean! No need to worry about spoilers in the photograph, I doubt you could read the print!

It isn’t only just another tool to help me in my writing. I suppose the creation of an idea board is also a sort of ritual to me. It’s similar to how some professional athletes carry out repetitive rituals before heading out to a big match or competition. I feel I need to make one, believe I would be lost without one, so yes, perhaps it is an offshoot of my OCD and has become a ritualistic chore. But, with every item I pin on the board I feel more prepared and ready to write. I feel more confident and believe that by the time the board is finished I am ready to get to work. In other words, it gets me into the zone.

Once the idea board is complete, I am left with a visual representation of the story. Just a glance at it can get me back on track if I lose my way or have been unable to write for a period of time. While I do keep a record of ideas and such in my jotters, I often find myself flicking through pages in search of something I invariably fail to find. I have wasted an entire day just searching for something. I can become quite fixated on one thing and squander  valuable hours looking for it! So I also consider my idea boards time savers!

Like I say, I am already working on the board for Emergence. So far I have my character sheet, story outline, some drafts, writing sprints and ideas. It’s actually nearly finished! I also have my character board set up for Emergence. If you compare the Emergence board with the Malevolence character board, you will see a very obvious difference.


They have very different moods to them and this was intentional. The returning characters are different from what they were in the first book. They are a little wiser, more wary than they were in Malevolence. Emergence character board is also black-and-white. This was also deliberate as every time I look at it I want to remember what happened in Malevolence, what the characters went through and how they were at the end of the story. Also, the mix of black-and-white and colour in the Malevolence board bugged me after a while!  The only one who didn’t get a new photograph was Louise. The reason for this is because I don’t remember the woman’s name so therefore can’t source another photo of her. If you know who she is, let me know!

I should also point out that the people I choose for my character boards are people who I believe are most like the way I imagine my characters. I’m a terrible portrait artist otherwise I would create them from my mind onto paper or canvas.

Anyway, I’m getting very excited about writing again and have already started Emergence with approximately seven thousand words already written. It looks like the sequel to Malevolence will be well on it’s way long before NaNoWriMo even begins!

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

#FrankieWIP Idea Explosion for Emergence!

Frankie Av

Just in the past few days I have been inundated with ideas for my new book Emergence. It is the second part of the Malevolence series and with it solidifying in my mind I feel I will be writing it soon! Very exciting times!

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

#FrankieWIP Emergence at the Starting Line!

Frankie Av

I’m afraid I am unable to make a vlog today due to work being done in the house. It’s too noisy and distracting!

Anyway, this week I have been concentrating on plot points for Emergence and gearing up for writing again. As I explained in this blog post, there are a few stages I go through on the run up to writing a story. I appear to be marching into the first stages now!

I might have a writing OST  for the story. As you know, Malevolence was written to Chad Lawson’s: The Chopin Variations. At present, it’s the X-Men: First Class OST which is making me excited and wanting to write. I love orchestral scores, especially movie scores–I own many and listen to them often. I put this one on last week and felt the familiar pull of ideas and the yearning to write kick in. Since then I’ve had the soundtrack playing on repeat and ideas cementing in my mind. It’s now part of a growing playlist which I plan to use  while writing Emergence.

I’ve began to withdraw from social media. This often happens when I wish to concentrate and it isn’t something which I purposely or consciously do. I just seem to drift away from this particular distraction when I wish to write and I noticed how much I’ve been away from the internet a few days ago and recognised the sign.

I’ve been frequently scribbling down ideas. In the past few months my ideas have been pretty poor and I’ve forgotten too many. But in the past week I’ve managed to come up with some good ones which I think might prove interesting. I have them all written in a Google Doc so I don’t forget them and I must say I am excited over a few.

I appear to be getting into the mindset for writing, at last able to imagine the entire Emergence story just in the past few days. It’s a sign that I’m almost ready to get a first draft charted out. I even have ideas for the Emergence character board and hope to create it over the weekend.

The Malevolence Character Board

I’ve pulled out my jotters for making my bubble charts, created folders for chapters and drafts, and a G-doc folder is ready for backing up documents. I’ve grabbed all my pens and pencils, highlighters and blank pads ready for use. I’m getting my laptop and desktop computer tidied up, organizing folders and programs in preparation of writing. I’ve even managed a first draft of the first chapter!

All in all, it looks like Emergence is at the starting line waiting for the green light to shine! By the time the school holidays are over, I’m hoping to be ready to go!

I might pop up a bonus vlog tomorrow if I get five quiet minutes to make one. But if I don’t, I will speak to you next week! 😀

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE