Bang the drums! Crash the cymbals! Set off the fireworks! I’ve walked 2000 miles since I had my hip replaced on March 22, 2021.
Before I got my Fitbit, I never gave the distance or number of steps I walked in a day much thought. Well, maybe on a trip to Scotland when I was trying to outdo Wendy H. Jones and that was with a bum hip.
I feel so much better and I’ve lost weight. I don’t get winded like I used to, even when I’m clipping along at a good rate.
My daily walks give me time to unwind and relax. My brain has been in lockdown on the writing front so it’s nice to get out and let my mind wander. It’s helped and I’ve come up with some ideas for scenes for the current work in progress. They might end up on the cutting room floor, but they can at least enjoy a moment or two in the spotlight before I kill the darlings.
When I first set the goal of 2000 miles, I didn’t think I would get there before my birthday later in the year so I was pleasantly surprised to achieve it on August 18th.
But I really shouldn’t be all that surprised. I achieved 1000 miles by Feb 20, 2021, and that included my early days of pot-op recovery and very few steps.
I achieved that before the one-year anniversary so I figured what’s another 1000? I should hit 2000 miles by my birthday easily. And yes, it was easy, especially when most days I walk between five and seven miles. And I had fun! I’ve splashed in puddles and slid down slides in the parks. My inner child has come out to play again.
If you follow me on Facebook, since January I’ve posted maps of my daily walks with the number of steps and miles travelled. I’ve had people tell me they get tired just reading and seeing where I’ve walked.
I’m so excited to be able to share the fantastic cover for the latest psychological thriller, Behind Closed Doors, by Carol Wyer.
So without further ado, here it is!
Two kidnappings, thirty years apart. Can Stacey face her own dark past in order to save her stepdaughter?
When Stacey’s ex-husband turns up on her doorstep begging her to help save his kidnapped thirteen-year-old daughter, Lyra, the terror is all too familiar. Stacey’s own violent kidnapping thirty years ago was never solved, and while a severe case of amnesia spares her from recalling the specific horrors, she remembers enough…
Stacey knows her father never paid the ransom—she has the missing pinkie finger to prove it. She knows she was only saved because of an anonymous tip-off to the police. And she knows her captor was never apprehended.
Lyra’s kidnappers have made it clear the police must not get involved. But Stacey can’t shake the eerie similarities between the two cases, and she’ll use whatever she can, from her journalistic powers to her shady contacts, to save Lyra from the same nightmare. Desperate to find any link between Lyra’s abduction and her own, Stacey forces herself to revisit her forgotten, traumatic past for clues.
But can she make sense of the terrible secrets she unearths in time to save Lyra? And if she does, is she ready to face her own tormentor?
Carol Wyer is a USA Today bestselling author and winner of the People’s Book Prize Award. Her crime novels have sold over one million copies and been translated into nine languages.
A move from humour to the ‘dark side’ in 2017, saw the introduction of popular DI Robyn Carter in Little Girl Lost and proved that Carol had found her true niche.
In 2021, An Eye For An Eye, the first in the DI Kate Young series, was chosen as a Kindle First Reads. It became the #1 bestselling book on Amazon UK, USA and Australia. Since then, two further books in the series have been published, with a fourth and fifth due out in 2023.
A standalone psychological thriller, Behind Closed Doors, will be released on December 6th, 2022, and is available to preorder now.
Carol has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’, featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and written for the Huffington Post. She’s also been interviewed on numerous radio shows and on Sky and BBC Breakfast television.
She currently lives on a windy hill in rural Staffordshire with her husband, Mr. Grumpy . . . who is very, very grumpy.
To learn more, go to www.carolwyer.co.uk, subscribe to her YouTube channel, or follow her on Twitter @carolewyer
PRAISE FOR CAROL’S BOOKS:
‘I’m buzzing from this book. I LOVED it. I don’t think I have been this gripped by a book, ever. …Totally terrifying, this addictive read will keep you gasping, guessing and on the edge of your seat throughout …You won’t be disappointed!’ Booked Up Girl, 5 stars
‘OMG OMG OMG! Fantastic these just keep on getting better and better. Fabulous sorry kept me guessing …Can’t wait for the next one’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars
‘Another breath-taking read from Carol Wyer. This book pulled me in from the beginning and didn’t let go!… A heart-pounding read and one you won’t be able to put down.’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars
‘Wow this is another five-star read from Carol Wyer. I couldn’t put this down. It was a roller-coaster of a ride, I highly recommend!’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars
‘Compelling… Remarkable… Utterly thrilling. I read this exceptional book in one sitting. I simply could not put it down. I was hanging onto the edge of my seat as this book reached a crescendo. I definitely cannot wait for the next book in the series.’ Robin Loves Reading, 5 stars
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on my blog, let alone any of my own work. So, if you’ll indulge me, this is the first draft of the prologue from the fourth book in my “It Happened” series – It Happened at Lake Louise.
This book is darker than the earlier books in the series, in that the main character suffered an abusive childhood.
That voice. Lori’s blood ran cold as if ice water coursed through her veins and her heart pounded so hard it threatened to burst through her chest. Only one person ever called her that. Even her parents always used her full name – Abigail. If she was in trouble then it was Abigail Laurie Brownell.
The Great Dane exited a low rumble of a growl. Her left index finger worked its way between the bracelets to the scars on her right wrist. Raised welts from years of cutting and a deep gouge where she’d taken a chunk out of her arm.
This couldn’t be happening. She arranged to meet Wolfgang’s owner near the Chateau Lake Louise to ensure his safe return to him and his home in Fort Mac. People came and went in droves here. The phrase safety in numbers suited this place to a T. No way would she have met a stranger at her apartment in Calgary. Who knew what creeps waited to prey on a single white female? She’d been a victim as a child and into her teens. Not anymore. A steady stream of pedestrians strolled past where they stood. They’d help her if needed. Wouldn’t they?
The person Lori communicated with via text messages and Messenger didn’t come across as the type who would cause such a reaction in their pet. She turned around her movements awkward from an old injury.
“Unc … how?” She stammered, unable to form the words she wanted to say. Her worst nightmare had come true. She thought she put the past well behind her when she finished school and landed a job in Calgary. Moving out of Saskatchewan wasn’t enough.
“Abigail Laurie Brownell. Did you think we’d never find you?”
“My name is Lori Brownlee,” she spat. Those words came out too late. Her momentary sense of bravado disappeared. She had given away her true identity with her first reaction. Gawd, sometimes she was so stupid and trusting.
“Aren’t you just the clever clogs?” he sneered. “I see you still haven’t had that ankle fixed. I offered to take you to the hospital when I found you at the foot of the stairs.”
“Because of you, I fell down the steps in the first place. I was trying to get away from you, you pervert.”
The dog at her side continued to growl, but now the rumblings sounded menacing. Her uncle may have frightened her when she was a child, but not anymore. Yeah right. Her entire body vibrated with fear as his face loomed in front of her and the memories of her unhappy, abusive childhood flooded to the surface.
“Lori! Lori Brownlee?” a man’s voice called from behind her.
Afraid to take her eyes off her uncle, she didn’t turn in his direction. “Are you Chris? Christopher Scott?”
“Yeah. Sorry I’m late. An accident backed the traffic up for miles.”
The Great Dane beside her wagged its tail so hard its entire body shook and tugged on her hand, holding the leash.
“Wolfgang! Come here. boy,” he said.
Lori released the lead, and the dog left. She couldn’t bring herself to turn away from her uncle, despite wanting to see Wolfgang’s owner. She didn’t trust her uncle now and she shouldn’t have trusted him then. Soon, the Great Dane leaned against her left leg, and a tall man sporting a moustache and beard stood next to the dog.
* * *
“I want to thank you for rescuing Wolfgang. I’d seen clips of him on the news broadcasts. No one else could get near him but you.”
“No problem,” she replied, her eyes still held fast on the man before them. “I’d seen him on the news, too. I tried to team up with the other animal rescue groups, but I was too late. Still, I’m happy I got him out of the danger zone.”
There was something in her expression. Sadness? She’d probably grown attached to the gigantic dog in the time she’d cared for him. Returning Wolfgang to his owner? No, not that. It was something deeper. Fear? Possible. Of him or the man facing them? Since his arrival, she hadn’t turned and looked at him once.
“You okay?” he asked.
A barely perceptible nod was the response. Christopher didn’t believe the gesture. Something was amiss. Despite the bright sunshine, a dark cloud of gloom appeared to surround Lori. A breeze caught her blonde-streaked brown hair and blew in her face. When she reached to tuck the errant strand behind her ear, her ice-cold hand brushed against his arm. A scar, visible now that she secured her hair, followed her hairline for approximately two inches. A childhood injury from falling off a bike?
He had quite a few battle scars from his youth, too. Broken bones from playing on the high school football team. Stitches from skateboard accidents and tumbles from bicycles. The worst happened on a night he and his pals, Ron Smith and Nick Jones, spent joyriding in Nick’s father’s car. Nick lost control and the car careened over an embankment. Chris got off lucky because he wore his seatbelt and sat in the back, behind the driver’s seat. The other two were worse off, although they survived. It was hard to say which was worse, the accident, the police involvement or facing his parents after his discharge from the emergency department.
There was a resemblance between Lori and this man — maybe not enough to be siblings, but family.
“Aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?” the man asked.
“Let’s get out of here,” Christopher suggested. He draped a protective arm around Lori’s shoulders and they turned and started for the parking lot where Chris left his truck.
“If you’ve not experienced it yet, she likes it rough,” the man yelled.
“Who is that creep?”
So there you have it. I’d love to know what you think. You can leave your feedback in the comments.
The beautiful island of Ximiu has a plan for a more sustainable future. But not everyone living on the island is on board. Jasira, daughter of the governing matriarch, is determined to uncover the dark forces threatening her home. With the help of her friends, she embarks on a desperate bid to save her island community. When the price is higher than she had bargained for, will Jasira still find faith and beauty in the world around her?
A good mystery was what she needed. And someone to admire her detecting skills. Jasira walked down the path from the ferry office to the harbour wall, her short brown hair glinting blonde in the sunshine. She stared out across the long channel leading to open water. So many exciting changes coming to Ximiu, but she would have to experience them without her best friend. Her dream of becoming a detective seemed to have left with Xandra. After all, every self-respecting detective needed a sidekick.
The sun was too bright for Jasira to see the open sea, but her mind had no problem following the route to the Mainland. She could just make out the small dark shape of the ferry, taking her letter to Xandra.
She leaned over the dark brown blocks making up the harbour wall. Jasira closed her eyes for a moment, feeling the slightly salty breeze on her tanned face, rough stone under her fingers and sighed. She let her eyes wander along the rugged coastline, the hills a green speckled yellow after the hot weeks of summer. Dry. Just like her soul at the moment, she thought. The poetic thought reminded her of Ilori. His mother was the Vice-Xibai and as the Xibai’s daughter, Jasira ended up spending a lot of time with Ilori. If only there was something to work on and practise her detecting abilities.
Jasira looked at the sun. It was time; she’d better go home. She drew herself up, hoping a heroic stance would give her energy to face the changes coming to her island. Jasira spun round, her trainer foot pushing off from the low harbour wall, turning her back to the water. She was in too much of a hurry to notice movement in the shadowy cliff face. Even as she walked, frowning, back to the city, the pale figure watching the ferry launch was too well hidden to catch her eye.
Maressa grew up in the Netherlands and moved to England soon after finishing teaching training college. Married to Pastor Richard Mortimer they live in a Cotswold village with their four children. She is a homeschool mum, enjoying the time spent with family, travelling, reading and turning life into stories, she wants to use her stories to show practical Christians living in a fallen world.
I’m so excited! When I started on my quest, I was trying to reach 500 miles by the time I had my post-op assessment on November 4th. I succeeded at that. It took me 227 days to do it, but I did. Any miles after that was icing on the cake. It was then I decided to shoot for 1000 miles by the one-year anniversary of my surgery.
Could I reach 1000 miles by the first anniversary of my hip replacement surgery? I was sure going to try. I didn’t have as long to do it, but I already had 500 miles under my belt, so what was 500 more? I had 138 days to go, and if I walked 3.63 miles each day, I’d succeed.
Since then, my average daily miles per day was 4.60, so I was exceeding the minimum requirement, so that would get me there in plenty of time.
Drum roll and let the champagne corks pop! I did it! 1000 miles and with 30 days to spare!
What is in the secret place up the attic staircase? When eight-year-old Melissa goes exploring, she finds herself stepping into the pages of a book of Bible stories. At the House on the Rock, she meets Jesus, who takes Melissa to her very own little house. This ‘little house in Heaven’ grows bigger and becomes furnished with ‘treasures in Heaven’ as Melissa walks in the Christian life here on Earth. Then she meets Rufus, the boy next door, who leads her into mischief and danger…
But Jesus is with her all the way, and she learns valuable lessons of trust and obedience in her trials. These profound truths are gently woven into the story as Melissa enjoys times of fellowship with Jesus in her little house in Heaven.
Eventually, Melissa has to grow up and learn to walk by faith and the ‘treasure’ she lays up in Heaven becomes a glorious reward in the end.
This book, aimed at young readers of 8 years or more, has a simple Christian message embedded within an imaginative story that is written with just the right balance between scene-setting, dealing with thoughts and feelings, and furthering the plot. It is a long time since I was 8 years old, but I have enjoyed reading it – Evelyn Wendon, Author
One of the best books I have read, feel good and thought-provoking, creates pictures of heaven – Aylson Smith
Kathleen Watson lives in Littlehampton, West Sussex, and has a son and daughter and granddaughter. Her other published books for children are “Treasure in the Alcove”, “The Secret Blue Door” and “The Little Grey Gate”.
Since I moved into my writing cave, I’ve been using a variety of setups, not all of which were conducive to creativity. The only thing that remained constant was the IKEA desk which measured only 41 3/8″ x 19 5/8″. For just a laptop and a mousepad the space sufficed. But when a second monitor was added to the mix, and a cup warmer things began to get crowded. Plus it made it next to impossible to see my corkboard that was on the wall in front of my work surface.
On New Year’s Day, I got thinking why not go back to the setup I used when I worked from home in the kitchen office? External monitor and keyboard and use the ACER as just the brain. As in, keep the lid closed.
I was spoiled then with a 32″ curved monitor. I could have at least four windows on the screen at one time. Handy when you’re working with spreadsheets and other applications.
The kitchen office setup worked well and we had at least one extra monitor kicking around that was large enough it would allow me to have at least two applications open on it at the same time.
That monitor made its way back into my life and my writing cave. The trouble was, it took up the entire desk. There wasn’t even enough room to put a keyboard in front of it.
Part of the solution to that problem was a sheet of 3/4″ white melamine 60″ x 30″ that would sit on top of the desk. We could get such a beast at the local Home Depot, so off we went to get it the following day. While in the store, we picked up the wall mount for the monitor. It meant my corkboard had to come down and get moved to another location, but that was minor.
It wasn’t so much the huge monitor itself that took up a ton of space, but the stand it sat on. It was big and heavy and took up too much room.
With the new writing cave setup, I have plenty of room in front of the wall-mounted monitor for my MacBook which I use for writing.
There’s even enough room for it and the additional screen I bought for when I’m editing.
And then Windows for all my other tasks – social media, puzzles, weather-watching, etc.
My corkboard was mounted on the wall beside the desk. It meant I had to take the pictures down and put them back up again because it went from its original landscape orientation to portrait. But, the entire thing is visible! I don’t have to stretch or crane my neck to see around computers to see it. The pictures aren’t up-to-date, but I love Quebec City so don’t mind them being there.
And then there’s my reading nook. A comfy chair where I can relax and read, either under the light of the floor lamp behind it
or the under-cabinet lighting. I’ve since brought in a faux fur blanket to cover my legs with when I’m comfortably ensconced in my chair.
And I have lots of furry friends to keep my company while I’m holed away in the writing cave, too.
Now that I’m retired, I’ll be spending even more time in here than I did before.
The Shetland Islands are the backdrop for another murder mystery by Marsali Taylor.
It’s the dark nights in the run up to Christmas, and sailing sleuth Cass Lynch’s first night on dry land is disturbed by strange noises outside her isolated cottage. Tiny footprints in the moonlit snow trail from her front door before mysteriously disappearing. Soon Cass learns others were visited by the same tiny feet in the night.
It looks like ingenious local teenagers playing tricks – but what happens when festive games turn deadly?
Cass soon finds out as a schoolboy disappears, leaving only a trail of footprints into the middle of a snowy field. She’s determined to investigate, but uncovering the truth will also put her in danger . . .
Chapter One Extract One
trow: The trows were Shetland’s “little people”, who lived in mounds in the hill, and could only come out after dark. They liked bright colours, feasting and music (there are tales of human fiddlers being kidnapped underground for a trowie wedding), and were known for working mischief about the croft; sometimes their actions were more sinister, like substitut- ing a baby of their own for a human child (Old Norse, troll)
There was the sound of children giggling, stifled quickly as if they were up to mischief; a group of trainees planning some devilment. Kitten growled and jumped down from the bed. Whoever was on watch would deal with it, I thought, hunch- ing into the bedcover, and the thought jerked me awake. I wasn’t in my cabin aboard Sørlandet but in Gavin’s cottage in Shetland. Our nearest neighbour was a mile away over the hill, and didn’t have children.
I eased my nose out from under the downie and listened. Cat stirred and sat up. Nothing; silence, that dead silence after snow had fallen. There had been the first few flakes as Gavin had driven me back from the airport, followed by a rattle of haily puckles that had covered the ground in white; a good base for snow to lie on. I tilted my head up to look out of the window. Yes, more had fallen while I’d slept. The low hill of Papa Little was blue-white in the moonlight, and the stars sparked with cold light.
I reached for my watch and pressed the button to light up the face. Half past eleven. Naturally the youngsters of the ship’s watch would be up at that hour, but I wasn’t on board ship now. All good land children were tucked up in their beds, sleeping peacefully, or illicitly playing on their computers or texting their friends. They weren’t wandering round a cottage miles from anywhere.
I was thoroughly awake now. Sørlandet had spent the last two months exploring the eastern seaboard of the States, and my body-clock was telling me it was six in the evening. I’d had a short nap to refesh me, and now I could get up and party. Beside me, Gavin was curved over on his side, back towards me, his breathing deep and even.
I slid out of bed and padded over to the window. The sliver of crescent moon had gone down, but the clear sky gave a pale light over the snowy hills and stars gleamed in the depths of the coal black water. There was no sign of move- ment anywhere, yet I had this sense of something stirring in the darkness. Kitten looked downwards from the sill, growled again, then trotted downstairs. I heard the clack of the cat flap.
Whatever it was, I supposed I’d better inspect. Maybe the ponies in the field behind the house had broken into the gar- den. I lifted up my bundle of clothes from the chair, and was tiptoeing out of the bedroom when I heard a car start up, way in the distance. I wouldn’t have heard it at all if I hadn’t been awake, if the back skylight hadn’t been open, if it hadn’t been such a still night. I reached the window just as the sound died away, and thought I saw a brief flash of headlights move across the starry sky. The silence closed in again.
I went slowly downstairs, not switching the light on. The ground shifted disconcertingly under me, as if the land had become fluid. It would take a couple of days before my balance adjusted. Freezing lino under my feet, the air icy on my skin.
Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland’s scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland’s distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women’s suffrage in Shetland. She’s also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.
“I Made It Out” details the raw, uncut, and honest life events of Avishai El. She is 32 years old and decided to write this book to help other people who are going through situations that they feel as though they can’t get out of. She affirms that you can get out of any situation and provides historical context in which she used her mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual capacities to face challenges head on. In order to maintain peace, one has to go through things in life to get there. She has gone through ups and downs. All readers from all walks of life will be able to relate to her shared experiences. On days where you feel low in life and on days where you feel high on life, opening this book and reading it will provide you with the tools you need to succeed no matter what. Some of the imagery is explicit to paint a visual picture for the reader.
If she could get through it you can. You can make it out.
Avishai El is an international best-selling author of the Power of Why Book Series. She is an international, professional speaker, and host of the most blunt holistic health podcast, Avi Unfiltered. She is a Spiritual Medium and Holistic Health Coach who empowers people to fulfil their purpose and destiny on this planet. Teaching others the holistic lifestyle utilising nutrition, lifestyle, and spiritual methods is her passion. Avishai has worked with women all over the world and has helped them lose weight, change their mental health for the better, develop businesses, and reverse several diseases. She has won an award for educating hundreds of people on the benefits of essential oils. Hospitals have entrusted her to be on hospital papers as a holistic nurse for cancer patients. People come to her when they are in a health crisis and Avishai has saved lives using holistic therapies. As an avid vegan she heavily promotes the plant-based, vegan lifestyle. The planet and Human Rights mean everything to her as she affirms everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. She comes from ancient ancestry and is currently in the process of learning her native languages: Latin, Moorish Latin (Modern Day Spanish), Chaldean (Modern Day Hebrew), Arabic, and Amharic. Astrology and medical research on an array of topics geek her out, and is something she thoroughly enjoys studying. Black, white, and grey are her go-to colours and the minimalistic lifestyle brings her so much peace. She is multitalented and when she’s not writing, speaking, coaching clients, or running her many businesses, she is doing some form of interior design, graphic design, honing in on her innate makeup skills, randomly playing violin, singing, doing comedy, and so much more.
On March 22nd, 2021, I had a left total hip replacement. In addition to the exercises I had to do daily, I set out walking not far at first. In the beginning, I did well to walk to the property line closest to the front door with the aid of my two-wheeled walker. However, never in my wildest dreams did I think I could walk as many miles, including that day (lots of steps from the car to the operating theatre) until the day before I saw my surgeon for a follow-up visit on November 4th.
Can we have a drum roll, please…
March 22nd, until midnight November 3rd, I managed to get an astounding number of miles walked!
Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. I walked 500 miles in that time frame. Crazy, eh? It was 502.10 miles. And those are the only ones recorded. Some would have occurred when I was moving about not wearing my Fitbit because it was “charge-challenged” and sat on its charger.
To put this into perspective, it would be approximately the equivalent of walking from the CN Tower in downtown Toronto to Science North in Greater Sudbury and back.
I had good days and bad. My worst was April 16th, when I only had 295 steps or .12 miles. It must have rained heavily that day because I was out every day, even if it was just around the block. My best day was August 23rd, when I achieved 21,339 steps or 8.45 miles.
As a result of all my hard work, I feel better. I’ve likely lost weight, although I’ve not stepped on the scales to see. I know when I returned to work I was asked if I’d lost weight. That’s an added bonus of walking.
My next goal is to reach 1000 miles by the anniversary date of my surgery. I’m a further 12.51 miles closer after yesterday’s multiple treks.
My Scottish roots and writing by Melanie Robertson-King