When the appointment letter arrived from the hospital, I assumed it was another check-up. When I arrived, I had an ECG before being summoned to the consultants’ office.
He talked about how clever my heart had been, finding its own bypass solution to the severely blocked artery and how strong and healthy it had become.
Then he said that my breathlessness wasn’t caused by my heart and that something must be wrong with my lungs. He remembered that back in March, my leg and foot had been swollen, and he had prescribed water tablets which hadn’t done a thing to reduce the swelling. When he saw how bad it was now, he looked worried and started talking about blood clots.
This was when worry crept into the office and sat on my shoulder.
In my teens, I had a deep vein thrombosis in my leg after giving birth. I was forbidden to move in case it travelled, so I knew why he looked worried. He didn’t make it clear whether he thought there could be a blood clot in my chest and/or my leg, so I wasn’t surprised when he arranged for two scans to be done urgently.
I had barely reached home when the phone rang. This was the appointment for the first scan. An hour later, another call about the second. Both are to be done on Monday afternoon.
I am all for finding solutions to my problems, but why does it have to sound so serious? Is it possible to be walking around for nearly a year with lethal blood clots in your body? That doesn’t sound feasible, so it must be something else. The only trouble is, something else might be worse…
I have encountered serious before, what with cancer and two heart attacks, but I have the feeling that whatever this turns out to be might test my bravery to the limit…
Anyway, enough of all this rubbish. We are seeing the new baby this afternoon!
I wasn’t expecting a bombshell yesterday, but that’s what I got.
Why is it that every time I think I am getting somewhere, something always happens to smack me upside the head?
This year I have been busy upgrading our books. New covers and blurbs and a thorough pass through Grammarly when it occurred to me that I needed to upgrade the print books on our bookshelf too. So I bought a paperback copy of my first book, Nine Lives. This is something I always used to do as proof positive that our books are as good as I can make them. Good to see them in print anyway.
It arrived yesterday morning, and it looks awful. I was so disappointed. The formatting is all wrong. The text is squashed on the page, and the margins are practically non-existent. Add to this, there are many blank pages.
Now, I know how to format a paperback book and haven’t changed the system I use, so these errors must be down to Amazon.
After nearly losing my mind and my temper, shortly followed by the overwhelming desire to run away and become a nun. All that work for nothing; did I really want to start all over again?
My first question was, if I cannot trust my old method any more, how am I supposed to get it right?
I wondered about Scrivener. They format your books, but I haven’t been able to learn enough about it. And Lord knows I have tried!
Funnily enough, and I’m not laughing, not inside, but just for a laugh, I read Amazon’s guidelines. They were the same as I remembered and how I always formatted our books. So what the dickens was going on?
So, I now have a new list. All I have to do now is find a truckload of patience to go with it…
Sometimes we base our characters on ourselves. Our feelings and opinions manage to transfer to these hollow people, slowly bringing them to life. But what about our baddies?
Does this mean that we all have nasty hidden traits like psychopaths or serial killers?
I love writing about villains, whether they are all bad or just a little. Does that make me inherently bad too?
This is the most important and also the fun part. Our characters need problems. I think about this a lot and have often wondered if this rule applies to us too. When do we feel most alive, firing on all cylinders and bursting with energy? Usually, when we have a ton of problems to solve.
I made this assumption because I have been feeling a bit meh lately, and only just realised it could be because I don’t have any serious problems at the moment.
As soon as I can, I must establish what my characters think they want or need. This will change as the story progresses, of course, as finding the HEA often leads them down unfamiliar roads, doing the strangest things.
Lastly, what is this universal message that books must have?
Basically, characters need to evolve and become better and happier people by the end of the story. Love – death – corruption – heroism. I have been told to consider the theme of my own life. Unfortunately, this didn’t help much for reasons I won’t go into here. Maybe this is why I became a writer, to find solutions that work?
They say that love conquers all obstacles. I know it doesn’t, but often wondered why they say that…
DI David Snow has another killer to catch, a killer as mysterious as the crimes he commits.
Betrayal and lies come to the surface as Snow struggles to find the truth, but is he looking in all the wrong places?
Can he outwit the killer, or will the truth cost him his life?
Excerpt from CrossFire
‘Do you know why we have brought you here today, Ann?’
Ruth thought she would ease her way in rather than accuse her straight off; triggering any hostility wouldn’t get them anywhere.
The woman stared at Ruth, her pale, colourless eyes searching for clues. ‘Nah… but I ‘spect you’ll get to it pretty quick…’
Ruth indicated a brown paper bag on the table beside her. ‘We found a pair of work boots at your house, Ann. According to your husband, they’re not his. Are they yours?’
Ann Taylor glared at Ruth. She seemed to be enjoying the interview, her arrogance showing through her previous nervousness. ‘Dunno, can’t see them, can I?’
Ruth undid the bag and placed the dirty boots on the table. Most of the mud had dried and fallen off but still didn’t seem like the kind of boot a woman would wear. ‘Are these your boots, Ann?’
Without looking at the boots, she shook her head. ‘Nah, I don’t think so.’
Ruth looked at Snow, but not for confirmation. She wondered why he was choosing to stay silent. What was the point of sitting in if he wasn’t going to contribute? Not that she cared, one way or the other. She had only looked at him to signify inclusion.
She looked back at the woman. ‘Are you quite sure, Ann?’
The woman shrugged her shoulders and refused to speak.
‘For the benefit of the tape, Ann Taylor has refused to answer.’
Ruth decided to read out the coroner’s report, detailing every bruise and damage to the child’s body. When she read the part about the boot imprint on the child’s back, she slid the photograph across the table in front of the mother.
‘Did you do this, Ann?’
When the woman didn’t answer, Ruth decided it was time to play the ace card, and she looked forward to it. This cold-hearted bitch of a woman was about to be arrested, but not before Ruth had enjoyed herself. ‘Are you aware that the person who wore these boots would have left significant DNA inside them?’
Ruth paused, watching as the realisation sunk in. ‘And are you also aware that we have tested your DNA, and it has been proved that you are the owner of these boots?’
The fear and shame were beginning to show on the woman’s face, and Ruth watched, wondering what she would do now. She didn’t have to wait long to find out.
Ann Taylor’s face seemed to implode as the terror of being found out took effect. ‘I swear I don’t remember that part… I know I were angry, but when she fell over and banged her head, I thought she was dead…’
‘So what did you do then, Ann?’ Ruth knew what had happened next but not which one of them had done it. ‘Were you aware that Amy was still alive when you dropped her into the canal?’
The horror was all-encompassing as the woman realised the enormity of what she had done. She looked around the room, just once, before she started screaming…
I think this year began badly for everyone, as we were still shell-shocked from all that had gone before.
I thought most of it had gone though, hadn’t it?
This was a brand new year. Time to get cracking and shake off the residue of misery and frustration.
It took nearly three months before something masquerading as enthusiasm turned up, but boy, was it welcome!
There is always a but, isn’t there?
Once I started to enjoy being a writer again, my health slowly drifted to worryville. Various checks later, my heart has been pronounced strong and healthy. Blood tests have checked the rest of my bits, and they’re all fine.
So why do I feel so ill, breathless and tired? I have trouble doing anything, and it’s getting worse.
One last check, a chest X-ray. Surely this must give me some answers?
I had a mini meltdown at my doctor’s appointment earlier this week. I hate bothering the doctor almost as much as I hate feeling ill and hate asking for help. She kept me waiting a long time, and from the look of the usually calm and helpful doctor, she must have had one hell of a day. She looked much older, tired and exhausted. Probably didn’t need me and all my questions that day.
Communication was strained as I tried to convey my worries. She struggled to decide what to do, finally listening to my chest and agreeing that I needed an X-ray. At that point, I think she needed me to stand up, say thanks very much and walk away.
But I had one more question…
What happened next was like a slap around the face. I mentioned my poor swollen foot. She rolled her eyes to the ceiling and said, ‘I suppose you want me to look at it?’
I stared at her, my temper and emotions arguing about what to do next.
Out of nowhere, I stood up and said, ‘No, I don’t think I do….’
She tried to backtrack at that point, apologising (I wasn’t sure what for), and then blamed me for having so many questions. Apparently, I had exceeded my allotted ten minutes!
When I left the surgery, I wasn’t quite sure whether I wanted to scream or cry. I did neither. I felt numb, vowing never to darken her door again. It took two days of sitting around, unable to concentrate on anything, before I started to feel normal again. At that point, I could have lain down on the road and died.
At the end of last week, I summoned up a ton of enthusiasm for my so-called writing life and the future of my current WIP. I say so-called, for it hasn’t amounted to much so far this year. There have been a few lively patches of activity, which I thoroughly enjoyed, followed by periods of other such business.
Commonly called life, although I really wish it wouldn’t bother me as I can do without it. This week, for instance, has filled up over the weekend with repairmen, doctor visits and a visiting relative, culminating in Milo’s vet appointment for the snip and chip.
It could be worse, I suppose, as the minute the weather gets warmer, I will need to show my face out there and go through the motions of being a gardener. It has to happen soon, I suppose.
All this lack of writing progress has happened because I have lost my early morning window. This was when I would be the only one awake, and for at least two hours, the writing world would be my oyster.
I have tried to cultivate an evening slot, but I am so tired by then that it hasn’t happened yet. It is beginning to look like I must choose between promoting and/or advertising to get the job done.
Of course, all of this is most distressing, as I have always managed to cope with as many irons in the fire as needed.
Added to all of this is the certain knowledge that time is definitely speeding up.
This might be a new year and all that, but am I the only one who feels like their magic spark has gone out?
I have been blaming this feeling on health and other problems, but maybe something else is going on?
We are constantly told that reading more will make us better writers and that we should blog with enthusiasm to build up our presence on the web. But I find that some of the things we do seem counterproductive and time-consuming. Confusion is not a happy place to be, so my brain has rooted out its thinking hat. Not sure if that might be an oxymoron!
Don’t get me wrong, reading does make me think and probably improves my vocabulary, but sometimes I end up reading too much, taking time away from my writing. When I first started blogging, I read everything I could get my hands on, desperate to learn the secrets of the black magic box of the blogosphere.
And admittedly, I learnt a lot.
Just lately, though, I have noticed a slight change in my attitude to all things blog related. It suddenly dawned on me that, as bloggers, we are trying far too hard to be the best at what we do with our constant searching for the golden egg. And because we are so busy running around like headless chickens, we are losing sight of our focus, the real reason we blog in the first place. We might even be missing the plot or choosing all the wrong moves.
I have been worried that there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to do everything. With the increasing amount of emails and time spent on social media, there isn’t much left for writing or blogging, come to that. Not to mention any new ideas that need to be explored or any of our other interests.
It could be time to step away and have a long hard look at what we do. Time to prioritise and cherry pick what we really want to concentrate on, or even find different ways of doing it. Don’t ask me what, for my brain hasn’t gone that far, yet. I just know it is time for something new, exciting even. How about that?
Life might be different when the weather settles down, but I doubt it. I think we must concentrate on what we can do and do well, instead of chasing so many rainbows…