Serious Blogger? 2013 365 Challenge #255

There goes the diet again!

There goes the diet again!

I went into my blog today without realising I wasn’t logged in, and was surprised to see an advert within my text. I guess I knew that WordPress made money somehow from free blogs, but I hadn’t thought much more about it.

Apparently it costs $30 a year to remove the adverts, and now I’m wondering if I should pay it. When I clicked on the advert it said “you may be seeing this ad because the blogger is making money from their site” or words to that effect. Oh I wish I was making money from my blog! Then I wouldn’t feel guilty at the time it takes away from my family or from writing my novels. Not that I would give up writing my blog for anything.

One of the posts I linked to yesterday was When Blogging Doesn’t Work – on the Writing by the Seat of my Pants blog. It challenged the widely held belief that authors need to blog; explaining that it isn’t always necessary, particularly if you are blogging just for the sake of it rather than because you enjoy it. This was my comment:

Baking cookies with my girl

Baking cookies with my girl

“I started my blog without really understanding why, except that I needed one if I wanted to be an author. Then this year I started a daily blogging challenge – writing a novel in daily installments on my blog – and even though it’s been a right pain at times, I have enjoyed it immensely. It probably hasn’t given me a huge surge in blog followers, but it has improved my ability to write to a deadline and copy-edit quickly: benefits I hadn’t envisioned in the beginning. In fact, I may even do it again next year (although I suspect my family may beg me not to!!)”

I forgot to add that, through my blog, I have met such an amazing group of people and that my blogverse feels like a happy place where I enjoy spending time.

So, should I let advertising intrude on my happy place? Should I let you, my followers, think that I’m trying to make money from you, when I’m not (unless you want to buy my books, and then of course that’s just fine!)

Is it worth $30 a year to keep my blog pure? I’ve toyed with the idea of buying the full package and having my own domain name, but until now I’ve been perfectly happy with the free blog. I guess it’s just one more question in the long list of queries associated with self-publishing and being a writer: and one more thing to add to the list “Things I would do if I had more money”!

What do you think? Are the adverts annoying? Do you even see them? Am I worrying over nothing? Do tell.

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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: 

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Claire gazed out the window as the ocean crashed against the shore, raising spray that would envelop the bus were they just a bit closer. She’d heard that the west coast was nicknamed the wet coast, and that seemed about right.

The heavy grey skies and angry sea soothed her, as if their rage forced her to be calm. Rain poured down the windows, enhancing rather than marring the view. Claire could see tree-covered hills climbing upwards from the other side of the bus. She curled in towards the window and let the weather entertain her.

The bus slowed and Claire roused herself to see why they had stopped. The driver explained that they were at a seal colony and anyone who fancied braving the rain was welcome to have a look around.

Claire uncurled herself and searched in her bag for a raincoat. Making her way to the front of the bus she realised she was the only person getting off. She was about to sit back down when a giggling couple from the front also disembarked. With a twisted smile, Claire decided she would run, if need be, to get away from them.

Outside, signposts led her down a walkway, slippery in the rain, towards the seal colony. All around her tall spiky plants stabbed at the sky.

There was no one else around as Claire followed the path to the viewing platform. Wind dragged hair across her face and the rain blew in sideways.

This was a stupid idea. I should have stayed on the bus. Knowing my luck they’ll leave without me.

Blinded by her wet hair, Claire almost walked into the railing. She rested her hands on the wood and searched the rocks for seals.

If they’ve got any sense they’ll be hiding in a cave somewhere out of the weather. Even if they are there I’m not going to see them through this.

Heaving a sigh that was swept away on the wind, Claire turned to walk back to the car park. Her stomach roiled like the pewter-grey waves and an almost overwhelming urge not to get back on the bus swept over her. The rigid routine, the upholstered seats, even Bethan’s unending good humour, felt like a cage that she was finally free from.

Claire pulled her hood tight around her face and leant in to the wind. With no seals to see, she knew there was no option but to go back and get on with her trip. Retracing her steps she didn’t notice the sign until she walked into it.

Who puts a bloody signpost in the middle of the footpath?

She rubbed her head and looked up at the offending pillar. It was one of the tourist signs, like she had seen at Cape Reinga, showing the distances to places near and far.

London 16,286km. I don’t think I wanted to know that. I might as well be on the moon.

It was a long way home

*

Back on the bus, Claire felt like she’d gate-crashed a party. All the passengers who had decided to stay warm and dry were gathered in groups, chatting and laughing. Claire sidled up the aisle to her seat and slid in to skulk by the window.

“Claire, you’re back!”

Claire turned as Bethan bounced onto the seat next to her.

“How were the seals? Nice and dry I see.”

“Ha ha. What did I miss? Feels like a festival in here.”

“Everyone’s discussing their fancy dress costume for this evening.”

“Fancy dress?” Claire groaned. Now she really wanted to get off the bus.

“Yes, apparently we have to source our outfit in town later, before we get to the Poo Pub tonight.”

“Poo Pub?” Claire felt like a parrot, but she didn’t know what else to say.

Maybe I sent Josh away too soon. Fancy dress and silliness are much more his thing than mine.

Claire wrapped her arms around herself and curled into the window. It was going to be a long day.

***

Relentless Revision: 2013 365 Challenge #74

This is me when faced with revision...

This is me when faced with revision…

I’ve been revising Baby Blues & Wedding Shoes all day today.

Well, no, let’s be honest. I’ve been farting about on Twitter and WordPress and getting my head around Hotmail switching to Outlook, while thinking to myself I should be doing revision.

I’ve watched Homes Under the Hammer, dozed on the sofa and walked the dog. I’ve stacked the dishwasher, although I haven’t hoovered or cleaned the floor like I should have (just delegated the hoovering to hubbie but now I feel guilty because domestic chores are my job).

Have I mentioned before I hate doing revision on my novels? Probably once or twice. I’m fine for a page or two but then the sheer scale of the job overwhelms me, or I come across a scene that really stinks, and that’s it. Poof. All motivation evaporates. I really really want to stop working on Baby Blues (it will never be ‘finished’!) but if I release it into the world before it’s ready it will die and maybe take my (currently non-existent) reputation as an author with it.

On a happier note my wandering through the world of WordPress has introduced me to some great new blogs. I thought I should have a look wider than the parenting/writing blogs I tend to follow, and I’ve found some lovely photography sites and other more general ones. When I have time (i.e. when I’m meant to be revising again) I’ll pick out one or two to share.

Anyway, I think it’s time to have something different happen to Claire. I have an idea or two floating around so going to open my Word doc and see what falls on the page.

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Claire pulled her coat tighter and tucked her chin into the collar. After the heat of the pub the night air was bitter. She had stayed longer than intended, enjoying the open fire and the good wine, and now the sky had settled into a dusky shade of blue.

What a stupid idea to walk. I must stop listening to advice. Who cares if it’s only fifteen minutes, I got enough exercise this morning with those horrible brats and the oh-so-charming Pete.

The sun had set behind her and she knew the sky was laced with red and orange. Ahead it was dark, with only a faint glow highlighting the hills beyond the village.

I hope there are streetlamps up the lane. I didn’t think to bring a torch. Claire dug in her bag for her iPhone and used it to light the road ahead. I don’t want to step in anything nasty.

She walked on, concentrating on the pavement directly in front of her in case some careless dog owner had left something behind. These are the only shoes I’ve got that aren’t already crusted with mud. I’d like to keep them that way.

Ideas for her blog post drifted through her mind, floating on a glass of wine and settling into the rhythm of her stride. How am I going to write about this morning in a funny way without getting Pete into trouble? I guess I don’t have to name him. She thought about the weaseling trip and laughed, the sound echoing in the still night air. Too many pies. Cheeky bastard. Patting her tummy Claire thought that maybe her jeans were a little tighter than they had been a few weeks ago. It’s all these pub dinners. Why do they have to make the Fish and Chips look so yummy on the menu? Mind you, it was yummy. But it’s not exactly sushi or noodles. If there was any justice I’d be burning the calories doing stupid things like walking back to the hostel in the dark.

As if the words formed an image in her mind Claire became aware of just how dark it was. The pool of orange light cast by each streetlamp only seemed to highlight the darkness in between. Killing the light on the iPhone she tried to let her eyes adjust to the darkness. Her heart thudded loudly and she twitched at the sound of something scurrying in the hedgerow behind her.

What’s with all these looming walls and rustling trees? It’s spookier than a cemetery at Halloween. Come on girl, you’re not one to be afraid of a bit of black. Sheesh don’t add fear of the dark to your newly found phobias. Josh will piss himself laughing.

Claire opened her shoulders and raised her neck as if she was back in Madame Émile’s ballet class imagining a line pulling her head to the ceiling. It was as she was about to release the inhaled breath that she heard the footsteps. They were steady, unhurried, coming up behind her. She resisted the urge to walk faster. City life had taught her to ignore the approach of others, to remember that not every stranger on the street was out to kill you.

She strode the length of a long wall and saw the turning to the hostel driveway up ahead, past some houses set back from the road. The footsteps behind her seemed to be drawing nearer although their pace matched her own. It made her think it must be someone with a long stride. Or someone intent on catching me up.

Her heartbeat came faster now and the battered fish sat heavy in her stomach. She lengthened her own stride and glanced up and down the road ready to cross and turn up the drive. She deliberated whether to abandon the walk home and return to the safety of village. It was unlikely that the driveway had any lighting and she didn’t remember there being houses between the main road and the hostel.

Silly girl. Why didn’t I drive down for dinner? Or leave earlier. Somewhere between the thump thump of her footsteps and their unwanted echo and the timpani-pounding of her heart Claire knew why she hadn’t bothered. This is Hope Valley. People don’t get attacked out here. People get attacked in cities like Manchester. She thought about all the news stories she had seen with some poor soul sobbing, explaining that that sort of thing just didn’t happen round here. Claire felt the blood drain from her face at the thought that it has to happen somewhere.

The attack came from her right, not from behind. She had been so concerned with the footsteps she had failed to see the shadowy figure lurking on a park bench beneath the trees. Claire felt someone grab at her bag, trying to pull it from her shoulder. She swung out an elbow and let the bag slip free, knowing her phone was in her hand and her wallet in her back pocket. She’d at least learned that much. As soon as the bag was free she ran, hoping the man had what he wanted. She had forgotten about the footsteps, the fact that anyone following her would have seen her phone in her hand.

The first pursuer caught up with her as she crossed the road. Self-defence classes came to her aid and she jabbed the heel of her hand into his solar plexus before he could get a good grip. He crumpled, winded, and Claire span back to the driveway, wondering if her trembling legs would carry her the full distance before the second person arrived.

Her mind screamed at her to do something and without stopping to consider she yelled “Call Michael”. She heard her phone ringing in the pitch black of the lane. The screen lit up as the call connected.

Oh stupid girl.

The light shone bright in the darkness and the running footsteps came straight for her. Something sped through the air and she felt the impact against her temple, as a piercing pain stabbed through her head and blurred her vision.

A familiar voice rang in the darkness. “Hello? Michael speaking.”

Claire felt someone wrench the phone from her hand and then nothing.

***