The World of Blogging: 2013 365 Challenge #207

The world of blogs

The world of blogs

Today has been a day for giving back to blogging. I’ve written before about how hard it is to have a daily blog and still give to the blogging community. Much of my spare time is spent writing and formatting blog posts and photographs and coming up with new dilemmas for Claire. It’s hard to get a balance.

I should read blogs when I’m staring blankly at Facebook in the evening, but that doesn’t seem the right time. I want to do more than visit and like just to be liked in return. I want to give time and thought to the great blogs I see, and take the effort to discover new ones.

So today I gave my whole day to doing that (as well as a pleasant hour reading and reviewing a lovely collection of short stories). In some ways it reminds me of something I read once about children getting upset when they have chosen a sweetie, as it immediately rules out all the other sweeties.

I reached 200 followers

I reached 200 followers

I feel a bit like that with time spent reading posts. There are so many, about parenting and writing, about life, with amazing photographs and poems, flash fiction and craft ideas. I want to read, understand, comment, share, embrace them all, but I can’t. Tempus fugit.

These are my favourites from today.

  • Some great ideas about how to keep children entertained during the school holidays (sarcastic/ironic – hopefully!)
  • Mary Beth Lee explains how she doesn’t mind a weepie book or film, as long as she knows in advance: no surprise deaths here please
  • Chuck Wendig asks, So you just had your book published, now what? A tongue-in-cheek exploration of what happens next. (contains strong language)
  • Tracey Lynn Tobin asks if you are concerned with gender stereotypes, in her post Gender Insignificant. I explained in the comments that my son wears pink and nail varnish!

I might have to emulate (steal from) Annie Cardi, who has a weekly post just listing great links, called Links Galore. Hers are at least all (or mostly all) about YA fiction though. Mine would be a bit more varied. Amanda’s random links. A winner yes? No?

My Blog Map since launch

My Blog Map since launch

I also took a sneaky peak at my blogging world map today (inspired by a post I read by Mary Beth Lee) and was amazed to see how many countries were included (95 different countries since I started the blog last year).

I used to aspire to be a traditionally published author and see my book in the local Waterstones. I still have that dream. But I’m so thankful to my amazing sister, and others who pushed me to self-publish in the meantime. I have learned so much, gained so much, and – best of all – met so many amazing people.

Thank you to everyone who visits and follows the blog. You’re all making one crazy stay-at-home mum with crazy dreams very happy!


Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog: 


“What do you think then?”

Claire looked up with narrowed eyes. “What about?”

“All of it. The town, the job, hell the band even. You’re a gal who keeps her cards close.”

Claire looked up in surprise at Conor’s words. Sitting in a bar with him, she felt exposed, as if her every thought was pasted on her face. Maybe it was the lack of make-up, or the jeans, but she felt more visible outside of the office. Conor kept his gaze on her, waiting for an answer. His features were indistinct in the dim bar, but Claire could still visualise the piercing green eyes, pinning her down.

“What do you love about it?”

Conor laughed. “Oh, slippery lady. I’ll have the truth from you, you see if I don’t.”

She raised an eyebrow and he held his hands up in mock surrender.

“Ah, go on then. What do I love about it? It reminds me of home. The friendliness, the sea, the hills. It has a warmth that closes round you and keep you safe.”

“Where is home?”

Conor twisted his lips as if to say, isn’t it obvious.

She grinned, a déjà vu popping up of her tormenting Mitch. “I mean what part of Ireland. I can just about tell you’re from the South but that’s the end of my linguistic skills.”

“Cork, I’m from Cork. Left when I was young, parents sent me to school over here. Thought I’d have a better chance in life without the accent and the parochial tarnish.”

“Really? You kept the accent, though?” Now she thought about it, the Irish lilt hadn’t been as strong during the interview. Gosh was that only this morning?

“I can produce a school boy accent, should the need arise.” He spoke in clipped tones. “But I find my own fair brogue is best for charming the ladies.” He grinned.

“Is that what this is? A charm offensive? Is that appropriate?”

“I’m not your boss yet.” He winked, then his face became more serious. “If I am attempting to charm you, it’s purely in a work capacity. I could tell you weren’t overly taken with your time with us today.”

“If you mean did I dislike being grilled like a piece of tuna, you’re right. Besides…” She stopped. Conor’s manner was too friendly; it had nearly lulled her into another indiscretion.

“Besides what, Fair Maid?” Leaning forwards, he clasped his hands and turned to face Claire full on.

She squirmed under his scrutiny, well aware she had a bad habit of admitting the wrong things to the worst people.

Thinking furiously, her brain threw up a card. “Besides, I’m not sure I’m ready to bury myself in this backwater, charming as it might be.”

Connor frowned. He looked much older without the grin. “From the sounds of it, you’ve stayed in more remote places than this and found peace.”

It was Claire’s turn to furrow her brow. They hadn’t discussed her travels much during the interview, so he must have read her blog. Funny how you could pour your heart out to invisible strangers but find it so much harder to talk to a flesh and blood person who you’d only just met.

“Who could climb a hill, stand in silence on the summit. and not find peace?” She spoke softly, half hoping he wouldn’t hear.

“Me,” he said with a laugh, making her jump. “Can’t bear to be by myself.” He shrugged. “Don’t get me wrong, I’ll happily sit in a bar on me own, but there’s still the steaming heap of humanity all around. Silence makes my teeth ache.”

He turned to face the band still playing in the corner and Claire breathed in relief. She needed to know her own mind before she divulged anymore of it to anyone, least of all a potential boss. When the song finished she drained her glass and stood to leave.

Conor reached out a hand to lightly grasp her wrist. “Claire?” Frissons ran up her arm from his touch. “Don’t sell out. If they counter-offer – and I’m sure they will; I would if you tried to leave me – don’t be swayed. We can’t compete on salary but you’ll be making a difference here. Not to some faceless corporation, but to real people. Think about it.”

Claire looked down at his hand on her wrist and he dropped the grasp as if her skin burned him. His eyes looked puzzled and Claire wondered how often he met with a rebuff.

Not often enough. With a nod to acknowledge his words she turned and made her way through the punters to the door.

Outside, the cool night air prickled her skin. Josh would be awake, if she wanted to call him. She felt drained and hollow, fit only for sleep. Loading up the map on her phone she traced her way back to the hostel and fell into troubled dreams.