|This is my first ever blog, so I'm not really sure what I'm doing . I guess I'll learn as I go along.|
|Whew! Busy week. Lots of Chocolate Emporium orders for everyone's Secret Valentines. I just want to say this community is the best. So many people have joined in with gifting other people. I can actually feel the love . A huge thank you to my Secret Valentine, too. You have been awesome
I've been busy offsite this week. I haven't had as much time to dedicate to WDC as I'd hoped I would. Monday, I had a blood test. These nasty blighters always leave me unable to concentrate for the rest of the day. So, not much achieved then. Then, last night, I had my first Covid vaccination. So (naturally) I spent the whole day freaking out that I'd have an anaphylactic shock and my throat would swell up and I'd suffocate. Not that I've ever been allergic to anything, but, well, you know.
But, it didn't happen. I'm fine, and the only side effect is a bit of a sore and itchy arm. I'll take that! Anyhoo, this morning, I had to collect my prescriptions from the pharmacy, and they lost my diabetes injections, so I had to wait around while they sorted it. Then I got a phone call from the doctor's office saying something about my calcium levels are too high. She said the doctor will ring me. I don't know when. I'm not sure how serious this is. (Please, if you read this and know that it is very serious, don't tell me. It won't help.)
Now, I don't feel inclined to do anything productive for for the rest of the day. So I might just read and cuddle with my dog. That is just about my limit for today.
Tomorrow, I need to write reviews for my Chocolate Emporium, and Sunday, I need to write my poem for Promptly Poetry. It would be good if I could write some reviews the afternoon, but, I'll be honest, I'm exhausted!
So. That's me updated. I'm hoping everything turns out okay.
|I have signed up to do
So, in order to help me do this, I've gone through the themes for each week and found books in my Kindle library or on my physical bookshelves that I haven't read yet that fit with the themes. I am going to list them here and tick them off when they are done. It will be good to see my progress on this list.
I haven't filled in all the slots yet. Some of them are wildcards, so I will see what I feel like reading when I come to them. There are some slots where I've not been able to find books I fancy yet (I'm open to any ideas you may have).
The Big List
Week 1 - 1st January - A book with the first letter of the title being "A".
All The Bright Things by Jennifer Niven
Week 2 - 8th January - A book written in first person POV.
I Spy by Claire Kendal
Week 3 - 15th January - An author's debut book.
The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen
Week 4 - 22nd January - A book set in a country you'd like to visit, but never have.
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Week 5 - 29th January - A book published in 2020.
Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewel
Week 6 - 5th February - A book by your favourite author.
Grown Ups by Marian Keyes
Week 7 - 12th February - A non-fiction book.
Making It Up As I Go Along by Marian Keyes
Week 8 - 19th February - A book with punctuation in the title.
The Ex-Wife by Jess Ryder
Week 9 - 26th February - A book with a number in the title.
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Week 10 - 5th March - A book from Amazon's 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime list
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Week 11 - 12th March - A book with a colour in the title.
White Lies by Lucy Dawson
Week 12 - 19th March - A book with the first letter of the title being "N".
Nothing Hidden Ever Stays by H.R. Mason
Week 13 - 26th March - A book that's been made into a movie.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Week 14 - 2nd April - A book you chose because you liked the cover.
The Corset by LucyPurcell
Week 15 - 9th April - A book written before 1950.
Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
Week 16 - 16th April - A book written by an author with the same first and last initial.
All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
Week 17 - 23rd April - Wildcard! You can choose any book you wish.
House of Correction
Week 18 - 30th April - A book that is also a play/musical.
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Week 19 - 7th May - A book that has been adapted into a TV show.
Anne of Green Gables by Louisa M. Montgomery
Week 20 - 14th May - A book with more than one author.
Secret Smile by Nicci French
Week 21 - 21st May - A book with a weather element in the title.
Flowers In The Snow by Danielle Stewart
Week 22 - 28th May - A book with a title that doesn't contain the letters "E" or "A".
Lying To You by Amanda Reynolds
Week 23 - 4th June - A book with a long title (5+ words).
Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom
Week 24 - 11th June - A book with a one word title.
Lifeless by Mark Billingham
Week 25 - 18th June - A book set in a fictional location.
The lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Week 26 - 25th June - A book set in your home-country.
Because Of You by Dawn French
Week 27 - 2nd July - Wildcard! You can choose any book you wish.
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
Week 28 - 9th July - A book with an animal on the cover.
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
Week 29 - 16th July - A book set in the future.
Futuretrack 5 by Robert Westall
Week 30 - 23rd July - A New York Times bestseller.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Week 31 - 30th July - A book originally written in a different language.
Light On The Sea by Miguel Reina
Week 32 - 6th August - A book with one of the five W’s, or H in the title (Who/What/Where/When/Why/How)
What She Saw Last Night by MJ Cross
Week 33 - 13th August - A book guaranteed to make you happy, for whatever reason.
Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes
Week 34 - 20th August - A book with a name in the title (e.g. Sarah, John, Lorraine)
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Week 35 - 27th August - A book from your favourite genre.
Single by K.L. Slater
Week 36 - 3rd September - A book someone else has previously read for this challenge (check the forum!)
Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner
Week 37 - 10th September - The first book in a series you've never heard of.
A Month of Summer by Lisa Wingate
Week 38 - 17th September - A book not set in the US or UK.
The Blue by Lucy Clarke
Week 39 - 24th September - Wildcard! You can choose any book you wish.
Week 40 - 1st October - A book with food or drink in the title.
Cranberry Bluff by Deborah Garner
Week 41 - 8th October - A book you've wanted to read for a while, but haven't gotten around to it.
Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell
Week 42 - 15th October - A book with a date in the title (day, month, year etc.)
1984 by George Orwell
Week 43 - 22nd October - A book with a title that starts "The".
The Accident by Linwood Barclay
Week 44 - 29th October - A book with horror elements.
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Week 45 - 5th November - A book with an element in the title (earth, air, fire, water)
The Stillwater Girls by Minka Kent
Week 46 - 12th November - A book with a cover that puts you off
The Lingering by SJI Holliday
Week 47 - 19th November - A book published the year you were born
Curtain (Poirot's Last Case) by Agatha Christie
Week 48 - 26th November - A book with the first letter of the title being "H"
Honor The Dead by John Anthony Miller
Week 49 - 3rd December - Reread one of your favourite books
The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer
Week 50 - 10th December - A book published in 2021
The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
Week 51 - 17th December - Wildcard! You can choose any book you wish.
Week 52 - 24th December - A short book, less than 200 pages.
If She Knew by Blake Pierce
|I don't know where to begin. I've been trying to put together a blog entry acknowledging this honour since Thursday morning, but (for once) the words evade me. Well, that's not strictly true because I'm writing something now, aren't I?
I can't describe the feeling of seeing those words: "You're now a Writing.com Moderator." My heart rate increased, I can tell you that! I thought I must have misread it at first. I thought maybe it was an email telling us some people had been promoted and these were their names. But it didn't say that. It said I had been promoted.
It's surreal. I've been floating on air ever since. This is such an honour. Like, wow. Thank you, The StoryMaster and The StoryMistress, for trusting me to fill this role responsibly.
Do you know what the really weird thing is? When I first joined WDC, back in May 2015, I was a little bit afraid of the mod squad. I felt like they were the people who knew everything, and the thought of interacting with these writer-gods made me nervous. But, pretty soon, I realised they are actually normal people. They don't bite, and they are happy to help whenever they are needed. There are a few mods who have really supported me and helped me out over the years, and I am grateful to them. I hope I can be that kind of moderator. I want to be approachable and, while I know I don't know about a lot of things, I want to think I will try to find out if someone needs help.
I just want to say a little about Writing.com and what it means to me. I know I've said it before, but it's important to remember all the ways my life is richer because of it. (I apologise if I'm starting to sound gushing, but I don't do it often.)
When I joined WDC on 21st May 2015, I was in a pretty bad place emotionally. I'd been ill for so long with PTSD, depression, and anxiety. I'd tried various therapies and medications and, at best, they helped me stay alive. Then, my hubby and doctor (on the same day!) both suggested I start to write my feelings. This took me back to my teenage angst-ridden poetry I wrote a long time ago, and something in me shifted. I wrote a couple of poems, and I felt a little lighter. My hubby, though, said I should take it a step further. He found WDC and suggested I share my writing on there. I didn't believe him when he said I was good, so his theory was, if people on a writing website said it, I might listen. And so, I joined. I wrote. I got amazing feedback that brought tears to my eyes. More than that, though, really quickly, I felt part of this community. I made friends and, for the first time in my life, I felt like I fitted in. It felt like home. Within a couple of weeks, I was totally and utterly addicted to this community. Writing was helping to get my feelings out, and reviews were giving me confidence. I felt valid for the first time.
And, so. Here I am; five years later. Promoted to moderator, and so, so proud. And the best thing about this promotion is the awesome group of ladies who were promoted with me:
Shaye GeminiGem🐒 Lilli ☕ Schnujo Jayne Roseille ♥ 💙 Carly - BLUE!!💙 Emily
To be a part of this group is just fabulous!
|I have two things to blog about. Both, probably, not exciting for anyone else. But, for me, both really cool.
On Saturday afternoon, I finally — after three months apart — got to spend time with my two best friends. Not seeing them has been the hardest part of lockdown. The three of us grew up together. We became best friends at primary school, when we were five, and we've stayed that way (except for a few teenage spats) ever since. These two women have helped me through the hardest times of my life. I sometimes think I might not even be here, if not for them. They are the kindest, most generous people, and I love them to bits.
So when Nina shot me a text Saturday lunchtime, saying did I want to meet in Shell's back garden for a catch up, I immediately answered yes! Nina picked me up in her car. We both wore face masks, and I sat in the back on the opposite side to her. It felt a little like we were out to rob a bank! We giggled like schoolgirls and took a selfie.
At Shell's, we all sat two metres apart from one another, as per the government's advice, and we chatted and laughed and set the world to rights. I had such a great time. I have missed them so much. It really gave me a boost to see them.
The other thing I want to mention is a song that has become very special to me in the last few weeks. It's an oldie, and you can see by the video how dated it is, but it really speaks to me. The song is "I'm Coming Home Again" by Dusty Springfield. I adore Dusty Springfield. She was a huge and, in my opinion, underrated talent. I am still so sad that she's no longer with us.
I've listened to Dusty all my life, and I've known this song for as long as I can remember. But, it's only recently that I've really listened to the words. And, wow, they are so much more profound than I realised. There's a line that makes me tear up each time I hear it because it's like it was written for me: "I'm starting to believe my own existence has a right to be." As someone who never believed that until the last few years, that is so poignant. The whole song could have been written about me. I can relate to it so much. And, of course, Dusty's voice is magical. You can tell she feels it in the same way I do. I love it.
It's not cool or trendy (or whatever the current word is), but I love it.
|Well. Five years ago today, my husband convinced me to join a writing website and share my writing with other, like-minded people. I wasn't sure about doing it, but I took that leap. I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
In Writing.com, I have found a place where I can share whatever I write without judgment. I mean, sure, there are reviews, but for the most part, they are constructively critical. I have learned so much from the many reviews I've received (and written). But, this community is not just about writing. Sure, we all have a common interest in being creative with our words. But, I've never known a community like this. People are so supportive. I feel like I've made a whole bunch of friends, and I cherish those friendships more than I can even say.
Without WDC, I don't know where I would be. It's easy to get lost in the fantastic writing of my peers and the creative and wonderful contests people run.
This last year, I've taken part in "CLOSED - The Ultimate Poetry Challenge" . This seemed like a huge challenge when I signed up because I don't "do" form poetry. I don't like restrictions, and I find it easier to express myself writing free verse. But, I wanted to push myself a little and write something out of my comfort zone. A year writing form poetry fits that bill. And it was a challenge. But, you know what? I surprised myself. I've written forms I've always shied away from in the past. And I found some forms I absolutely love.
I've written a few stories in the past year. I completed Musicology Anthology with my book based on the 'Manic Street Preachers' album, "Everything Must Go." I placed second for that, and it was the best feeling because I worked so hard on it.
That's all I want to say, I think. I wanted to write something to mark my five years on writing.com. It feels like a landmark, for sure. I look forward to many, many more years!
|Review of ‘The Burning Girl’ by Mark Billingham
This book started out as a challenge. I ordered the paperback version online a couple of years ago, and when it arrived, it was printed upside down and back-to-front. So, I had to literally turn it up the wrong way, then read from back to front. Because of that, I put off reading it until now. As it turned out, reading it was much easier than I anticipated. Plus, I thoroughly enjoyed the story.
This is the fourth in the DI Thorne series. I read the first three a few years ago. I really like the character of Tom Thorne. He’s a good person who has a slightly black soul.
The plot centres around gangland London and the twenty year old setting fire to a schoolgirl called Jessica Clarke. Carol Chamberlain, Thorne’s friend and ex cold case detective was the detective in charge of the case of the burning girl, and she successfully convicted the perpetrator of that crime. So why, now, when he is coming up for parole, has Carol started to get phonecalls from a man claiming he set the fire? And why does the anonymous caller know details only the killer could know?
We go on a ride through gangland London where three families, the Ryans, Kellys, and Zarifs, wage a deadly turf war where everyone wants control.
I like the ending. There is a scene with Tom, Carol, and the man who made the phone calls, near the end of the novel, where I don’t think I took a single breath in about five pages! Very intense.
Despite my glowing review, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first three. I was going to write, “It didn’t set me on fire,” then realised how terrible a pun it would have been. I think it’s partly that the first three books are outstanding. ‘Sleepyhead’ is pure genius. I did, however, totally enjoy this.
|I could write an essay about the incompetence of our government when handling the Coronavirus. After all, we are entering the new phase of the pandemic this week. Boris Johnson has been (as is his style) as unspecific and contradictory as possible. People should go to work if they can't work from home. But only if their workplace can guarantee it is COVID-friendly. People can exercise as often and as long as they want. They can even drive, cycle, or walk as far as they want to see people. But, they can only see the people one person at a time, outside. People should try to wear face masks in shops. If possible.
You see, Boris Johnson had the Coronavirus. He nearly died from it. Therefore, no one can question his ideas or motives. Never mind his track record for telling lies. Once more, I'm sick of politicians who would sell their own grandmothers if they thought they could benefit from it. I mean, sure, politicians have always lied. They are not, generally, the most trustworthy of people. But, the people we have running the world at the moment disgust me.
Whew! This is not what I wanted to blog about today. What I actually came here to say is I'm tired. So freaking tired. I think it's all of the COVID stuff, isolating without my friends, my diabetes, IBS, depression, anxiety, and the list goes on. I think it's also because I have so much to do. A ton of things. Like, over a hundred reviews. Plus, lots of other stuff. So much editing work. It all feels like a huge weight at the moment, and the result is I'm finding it impossible to do anything. So, I apologise to everyone I owe reviews and stuff. I am good for it. I will get there. But, please, give me some leeway for a few days. I need to drag my behind to work. Once I get started, it'll all be fine.
|I've been thinking about writing in this blog again for a couple of weeks. I guess, all the COVID stuff makes me want to write out my feelings. I've been keeping a journal, but I've read a ton of good blog posts on here, so I thought, why not? Enough time has passed for me to write something in a blog. Next month, I might even join the 30 Day Blog Challenge.
So, COVID ... None of us has ever experienced anything similar. The whole world has closed down and lost too many beloved family and friends. For me, personally, I haven't lost anyone I love (touch wood). However, I had a phone call from my doctor about a week into our lockdown, saying I am on the highly vulnerable patient list, so I should shield indoors for the next twelve weeks. I knew there were issues that probably made me more vulnerable, but to have my doctor confirm it felt like a huge deal. It freaked me out. She told me I mustn't leave the house at all, but then conceded I probably should still walk my dog (duh!). I got a letter confirming everything she said. I now have my prescriptions delivered to my doorstep (which is rather nice), and our groceries are delivered also. That's not a new thing. We've had groceries delivered for years. However, getting delivery slots is ridiculously difficult. You see, everyone is at home, and right at the start of lockdown, Boris Johnson told everyone to do their shopping online. So, everyone is booking slots, making it impossible to book any unless we stay up until midnight (when the store adds more slots to their website) and try to book one of those slots. It's a nightmare. Although I'm on the vulnerable patient list, I don't have any of the most vulnerable conditions (thank goodness!). So, I don't get the priority slots, even though I've been told I must stay home. You see my predicament? I can't even send David to the store with a list because he's hardly got any vision, so he could come back with anything! Oh well. We won't starve.
I kind of went off on a tangent there. Probably because grocery shopping has been the most challenging part of isolation for me. I'm not too lonely because I have David and Alfie. I miss my two best friends, but we video call through WhatsApp and text one another every day. I really miss my aunt. But we speak on the phone at least once a week. But, on the whole, I'm not too lonely. I do get scared when I leave the house. We live in an apartment building with eight flats, and I worry about all the people who touch door handles and breathe out their germs. Especially, when two of them work in a local care home. As someone who suffers from anxiety every day, in particular health anxiety, this is not great. Also, my hubby is still smoking, even after years of encouragement from me to give up, but that means he's always going outside to smoke. So, more germs coming into the house. At the same time, on a completely selfish level, I don't really want him to give up right now. Being stuck in the house with a hubby without nicotine does not sound like fun.
Well, I think I'll leave it there. You can tell I haven't had much time to chat with people by the length of this entry. It feels good to be blogging again.
|I'm meant to be writing a short story for my HSP class right now. I still have my entries for Around The World In 52 Weeks as well. So much to do. But, instead, all I can think of writing is this. You see, it's ten years ago today since Dad died. Ten years. How is that possible? When I think of all that I've lost since then: Mum, Jake, Auntie Gwenda, Uncle Rob, the house in Sherston, my dream of moving to the US. Yes, okay, some of those were my choice. And, yes, I have gained David; the love of my life. I know I wouldn't have met him without, first, losing Dad and Jake (my beautiful rescue dog who was my best friend). What's that phrase? Horses for courses? Something like that.
I'm thinking of happy times with Dad. How he taught me to dance as soon as I could walk. I loved dancing with him, even though all other children/teenagers I've ever met would never do that. But we worked well together. I loved to dance Rock'n'Roll with him. Such happy times. Forever lost. Gone. Emptiness left behind. People tell you to remember the good times, and yes, I agree. You should remember the good times. But it's those good times that break me because they're gone. Where is the comfort in remembering how loved and safe and happy you once felt? When the reality is life isn't like that any more. And it never will be again. I constantly feel like I'm teetering on the edge of oblivion, and it scares the hell out of me.
You know what I hate most? If Dad could see me today, he would be so disappointed. I've done nothing to be proud of. My life is a pathetic mess. (Apart from David. He is the one good thing.)
Okay, I edging into self pity now, and that's not why I started writing this. I wanted to write about Dad. My relationship with him was complicated. I adored him, but I didn't always like him. He was hyper-critical of every part of my life. He was cruel and made fun of me in front of others all the time. But, then we were also really close. He understood me better than anyone. About two weeks before he died, he told me I am perfect just as I am, and he wouldn't change a thing about me. It was, like, twenty plus years too late, but it meant a lot to me. We shared a lot of interests and our mannerisms were similar. I remember Mum saying to me, about six months after he died, that he would never really be dead, as long as I was alive. We shared a passion for music and dancing. The happy times we spent at parties and local dances make me ache deep inside when I think about them. I miss him so much. I miss that part of my life.
This whole week I've been looking back at what happened at this point ten years ago. Remembering every detail of that last week. I know that today, at 8:30 a.m., I had my last ever conversation with Dad. Before I left to go to work (something I'll regret as long as I live) I kissed him and said goodbye, then I told him that if he needed me, Mum could ring me and I'd come straight home. He had lost the ability to say exactly what was on his mind at some point over the least week, so he answered, "But you do need me, Rach." To this day, I'm convinced he meant to say that he needed me, in an attempt to stop me going to work. He knew he was at the end. But I went to work, anyway. That day, I told my boss I wanted to take compassionate leave, so I could be with Dad in his last days. But I was too late. When I got home that evening, he was unconscious. Apparently, the doctor had visited that lunch time and upped his morphine (something Mum didn't tell me until about a year later). Dad died at 10:35 p.m., and I never got to have another conversation with him. Mum and I were both by his side, holding him. I hope he knew that. I hope he wasn't frightened.
The horrible thing is I was angry at him for not holding on just a little longer. You see, it's my birthday two weeks today, and I really thought he would hold on for that. How selfish is that? I think I felt a little betrayed by that. It's crazy and completely unfair and, yes, selfish.
I can't stop the tears today. Today sucks. But I need to get a hold on myself. I have a lot to do. I just don't feel like it.
|Anyone who knows me (both IRL and on here) will know I've been struggling a little lately. However, I've spent the last few days putting together a writing plan of action. Writing helped me to get better before, and it can do that again. I'm feeling more like myself just from making the plan.
I'm going to write my novel, and it's going to be good. I'm going to build my platform (that every article you ever read on writing says you must do). I'm going to enter some off site contests. I'm going to be writingly (I think I just made that word up!) active. I have a timetable for my daily writing, as well as a time frame for all the goals I need to be hitting, and I have to say I'm excited about it. Making my timetables and plans has brought back memories of being at school and uni. I was the only person in the class (maybe, in the world!) who got a kick out of revision timetables. I've discovered I still feel the same way. That quiver of excitement has settled in my heart.
Which is all a bit strange. Because I am hopelessly messy and unorganised. When I write, I lean very much toward the side of pantsing. I mean, I always have a rough plan, but I tend to veer off course and end up at places I never expected when I started writing. This novel, though, is different. Maybe it's because it's about the character who has been trying to get me to tell her story for the longest time. It's the story I've wanted to tell since I joined WDC a couple of years ago. With this novel, I've plotted and planned, and I still have a lot of background work to do before I start writing. I'm exploring all the main characters and getting to known them really well. This novel will be good. It will be. (If I keep telling myself that, I will believe it eventually).
I've started an offsite blog. I've only added two posts so far. I decided I need to take a step back and brainstorm lots of different posts I can make. I also need to customise how it looks. So, lots to do there. I'm on Twitter and Facebook already, so I need to think about a plan of action for both of those. This is the side of being a writer that I'm going to find difficult. Get me! I kind of alluded to myself as being a writer
I will set aside time to log in to WDC and socialise a little, as well as looking after my contests and entering some contests. Of course, the September celebrations are almost upon us, so I'll have to have a look at all the fabulous contests and activities associated with that.
Before I can do any of this, though, I have to get through tomorrow. It is my Uncle Rob's funeral, and I'm dreading it. He was my favourite uncle, and I still can't believe I'll never see him again. His funeral is going to be hard. I'm glad I found a fitting poem to be read at the church service. I feel like I made a contribution.