I have never once thought that blogging could be detrimental to your health, but just lately, I have come to think that it could be.
Surely not, I hear you say, and I will admit it doesn’t seem likely, not on the surface, anyway.
I was nervous when I first started writing/blogging. Could I get to grips with the technology involved? Would I be any good at it? Would anyone ever talk to me?
I had a million questions, which are all very natural when you embark on a new adventure, and although at times it has been a frustrating and difficult journey, overall I have enjoyed every single minute of it.
So what on earth am I on about?
Just lately, a strange feeling has been creeping in, insidiously, like wisps of smoke. The blogosphere is like a mirror, reflecting everything we bloggers do. As a good proportion of bloggers are writers, you get to see what their lives and careers are like and it can be very reassuring if they are struggling just like you, facing the same problems and difficulties, but the more successful ones are an inspiration, showing you what you can accomplish if you work hard.
We have been blogging for nearly five years now, and have met some amazing people, helpful, considerate people, generous with their advice and friendship. You gradually become part of their world, a world where anything is possible and you can afford the luxury of dreaming.
I can hear some of you tapping your fingernails, wondering where all of this is going, so I will try to explain.
Everyone says that with patience and hard work you can achieve your goals. But I have been patient and worked as hard as I can, but no nearer to anything even remotely like my goals.
And this was my epiphany… maybe my goals are wrong?
Something has to be wrong with me, for on a bad day my enthusiasm wanes. All that wonderful optimism seems to leave the building.
I have been thinking about this year and it is clear that I must come up with some resolutions that work before the men in white coats come to take me away!
Not that this year can be the same as before for so many things are different now, starting with my number one symbol of a New Year, Big Ben…
Big Ben has always been a very special symbol in my life. I grew up in London hearing the deep resonant tones of the bell. The imposing majesty of the building is one of my most enduring memories of my time there.
London has many such landmarks and I love them all, but that tall clock tower on the river Thames embankment is by far my favourite. By rights, my favourite should be the river itself, feeling as I do about water, but no. Very close though.
‘Big Ben’ is really just a nickname for the great bell itself, inside the famous clock tower at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London. Built in 1858 and 96 metres high, it is the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world. But the big bell itself is not the biggest. St Pauls Cathedral has a slightly bigger one, weighing in at 17 tonnes.
Scarily, the tower leans slightly to the North West, apparently caused by the tunnelling for the Jubilee Line Underground train.
I came across this picture of Big Ben a few weeks ago, and I was instantly transported me back to another New Year’s Eve so many years ago.
That particular year, my friends and I had decided to celebrate the coming of the New Year in style. We would attempt some kind of pub crawl, visiting as many bars and public houses that we could manage, in spite of the volume of people all doing the same thing; ending up at the embankment for the fireworks and Big Ben’s majestic chimes.
We had such fun that night even though I knew I would not contemplate doing it again, as the number of people all seriously intent on having as much fun as possible, created more madness and chaos than I ever thought possible and a lot of the time I was scared to death.
You see all the crowds on television, but could you imagine being there?
Of course, there could have been so much more trouble that there actually was, that many people, most of them hysterical with excitement and booze could have deteriorated into a riot. But it never seems to. No matter how squashed, drunk or freezing cold you happened to be, there is some kind of reverence going on, as if it would be a sin to ruin that night in any way.
Our journey around London that night was exciting, but I was glad when we found ourselves by the river just before midnight. We had left most of the throng behind and it was almost eerily quiet by the water. The fireworks were further up river and we seemed to have Big Ben all to ourselves.
It was very cold that night, but at least it wasn’t raining. I was one of the few people in our group that didn’t have a partner, something I knew I wanted to change in the New Year. I had no idea of the direction my life would be taking, no plans and not many dreams either, for I had already learned that dreaming was futile.
So that evening ended up on quite a solemn note, and as the hands of the clock above us moved closer to the 12, the tears were not far away.
I had never been that close to Big Ben before and was not prepared for how loud the chimes would be. First came the melody and the vibrations seemed to travel up my legs until my whole body seemed to be humming. When the big bell started to chime the hour, the vibrations became longer and deeper and it felt as though my heart would break.
More than fifty years later, the sound of that bell has the same effect, instantly transforming me back to that lonely young woman who had already taught herself not to believe in dreams.
I obviously knew a thing or two back then, for my life has not been full of the stuff that dreams are made of, rather the opposite. But I am still here, not quite ready to give up. So is Big Ben, although undergoing major refurbishment along with the Houses of Parliament. Seeing all that scaffolding around the tower was worrying. If anything went wrong, we could lose Big Ben forever…
Our year has not started well, but with renewed effort and a following wind, We are confident it will get better…
The last book I read…
Some passwords protect more than just secrets.
Danny Caruso was glad to be back in the United States, back to his regular job. Back to his comfortable routine of all work and no play. But when his friend Mac asks a favor of him, he can’t refuse. He owes the guy everything. So he accepts the job, even though it means a twenty-four/seven protection detail guarding a particularly exacerbating—and beautiful—woman.
Braelyn Edwards is careful to stay out of the spotlight, preferring to hide in the background and skip the trappings of a vibrant social life. But her privacy is threatened when there’s an attempt on her life and a bodyguard is foisted on her. Compounding problems? He doesn’t just want to protect her. He wants to investigate every detail of her life, starting with her top-secret job.
Danny casts his sights on Charlie Park, her co-worker, her partner… the one man who knows all Braelyn’s secrets. She’s frustrated by the distrust until she realizes jealousy fuels Danny’s suspicions as much as instinct and proof. One of them is right about Charlie—but by the time they figure it out, it may be too late to save their relationship. And Braelyn’s life.
Password is my first Staci Troilo book, so wasn’t sure what I would think of it.
I needn’t have worried.
There was brilliant scene-setting throughout, with interesting and vibrant characters, all wrapped up in a totally realistic and believable scenario.
Braelyn Edwards first struck me as an ordinary working girl, hardly someone who would need a bodyguard. But someone had attacked her, so she could be hiding a secret. Danny Caruso has trouble believing she is innocent too, although she seems so ordinary. He is convinced she had to be mistaken for somebody else.
She mysteriously denies knowing of any reason for the attack, and this is when their incredibly fast-paced banter begins. The chemistry between them fizzles with electricity, and I ended up enamoured by the two of them to such an extent that I forgot all about the plot. I just wanted to watch and listen to the two of them together. I suspect we are seeing the birth of a relationship that will sell a lot of books!
The ending was unexpected, with a very clever twist I didn’t see coming.
Staci Troilo has created two masterful characters for this first book in the series, roll on the next one!
The Book I am currently reading…
Aberdeen, 1841. Woodcarver John Grant has an unusual new commission – creating a figurehead to feature onstage in the melodramas of a newly-arrived theatre group. Simultaneously, he’s also trying to unravel the mystery of the death of a young woman, whose body has been found in the filth behind the harbour’s fish sheds.
His loving relationship with Helen Anderson, which began in The Figurehead, has grown stronger but, despite the fact that they both want to be together, she rejects the restrictions of conventional marriage, in which the woman is effectively the property of the husband.
As John works on the figurehead, Helen persuades her father, a rich merchant, to let her get involved in his business, allowing her to challenge yet more conventions of a male-dominated society.
The story weaves parallels between the stage fictions, Helen’s business dealings, a sea voyage, stage rehearsals, and John’s investigations. In the end, the mystery death and the romantic dilemma are both resolved, but in unexpected ways.
The Book I wish I had written…
Looking for a thriller that you can’t put down? Then try this book that everyone’s talking about.
One of the tensest, most gripping thrillers you will ever read. From UK and US best-selling author Taylor Adams.
A KIDNAPPED LITTLE GIRL LOCKED IN A STRANGER’S VAN. NO HELP FOR MILES. WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Darby Thorne is a college student stranded by a blizzard at a highway rest stop in the middle of nowhere. She’s on the way home to see her sick mother. She’ll have to spend the night in the rest stop with four complete strangers.
Then she stumbles across a little girl locked inside one of their parked cars.
There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, no way out because of the snow, and she doesn’t know which one of the other travelers is the kidnapper.
Full of shocking twists and turns, this beautifully written novel will have you on the edge of your seat.
Who is the little girl? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?
The Book I go back to time and again…
J.R.R. Tolkien was born on 3rd January 1892. After serving in the First World War, he became best known for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, selling 150 million copies in more than 40 languages worldwide. Awarded the CBE and an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Oxford University, he died in 1973 at the age of 81.
In dark Mordor, evil Sauron is joining the Rings of Power which will give him total dominion. Only one ring escapes him – and it must be destroyed at any cost. Enter a world of magic and magnificence in Tolkien’s epic trilogy, often considered the greatest fantasy story of all time.
The Book that inspired me to write my first book…
HERE IS A SMALL FACT – YOU ARE GOING TO DIE
1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.
Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.
SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION – THIS NOVEL IS NARRATED BY DEATH
The Most Unusual Book I have ever read…
This book was described as; ‘Dark, twisted and compelling, the most exciting and original thriller of the year’… and was a first for me. Having recently becoming a fan of crime/thrillers, this one came as one hell of a surprise!
‘Normal’…a strange name for a book about a serial killer?
But this is the clever way the author, Graeme Cameron makes you think of the nameless killer in this fascinating different psychological thriller. An anti-hero with an amazing sense of humour that you find yourself liking, despite what you know of him. He should be despicable, deplorable, someone you should despise. Yet do not.
A brand new genre… comedy /thriller. Exquisitely hilarious…
Readers will enjoy this story, it is entertaining in a way most books are not. As a writer myself, I can only marvel at the complexity, the vast array of observation and emotions, the depth of the characterisation. In short, an amazingly brilliant book!
(Graeme Cameron lives in Norfolk, England. He has never worked as a police detective, ER doctor, crime reporter or forensic anthropologist.)
“Hypnotic and chilling — you won’t forget this in a hurry.” – Lee Child
NOMINATED FOR THE STRAND CRITICS AWARD FOR BEST FIRST NOVEL OF 2015
He lives on your street, in a nice house with a tidy garden. He shops at your local supermarket. He drives beside you, waving to let you into the lane ahead of him. He’s the perfect neighbour. But he also has an elaborate cage in a secret basement under his garage.
And he thinks it’s perfectly normal to kidnap young women and keep them captive.
This is how it’s been for a long time. It’s normal…and it works. Perfectly.
But this time it’s different
When I finished reading the last page I realised that I didn’t even know the killer’s name but I knew that I liked him and I really didn’t want him to go.
Normal’s (anti) hero is a good bloke. Women love him, men get on well with him; he is attractive, funny, sweet – everything you could wish for in a friend or lover. The only problem is that he has a slightly unusual hobby, he ‘hurts’ people, kills them, chops up their bodies and perhaps even eats them. Shame.
Like that other loveable serial killer, Dexter, our killer has experienced a childhood trauma which has left him detached from the rest of the human race. He is an efficient killing machine and never gets caught but then it all goes wrong, he starts to form attachments; he makes his first friend, he starts worrying about the comfort of his victims and finally – Big, Big, Mistake – he falls in love.
I really liked this book. In fact I can’t wait to re-read it. Perhaps he does have a name and I was turning the pages so fast that I missed it.
Mr Normal is definitely my new favourite psychopath.