Mairead Hearne from the wonderful Swirl And Thread blog tells us about her writing life. Thank you for joining us Mairead. x
My Blogging Life
Completely unexpectedly, I received a message from Sharon Thompson asking if I would consider writing a guest post for a new website she was setting up. What was so surprising is that, I am normally the one stalking writers for content posts for my own site. What do I do? I am a book blogger. I have my own site www.swirlandthread.com that I set up in February 2016, as a means to challenge myself and to put myself back out there again. I would never have considered myself a writer, but I do have a huge passion for other people’s writing, being an avid reader all my life.
I studied Commerce in UCC, followed by a Postgraduate Diploma in Computer Science, in the late 1980’s – early 1990’s. Having no real idea of what I wanted to do next, I initially worked in Computer Sales and eventually found myself working in the Telecommunications industry up to 2004. My first child was born. I never returned to the industry, as at the time I felt the hours and traveling weren’t compatible with having a baby, so I left my job.
Over the years I volunteered with charities, I was chair of my local resident’s group and I was also involved in many other activities. I rediscovered my love of exercise, walking and running but something was missing. The world was moving on without me. I had always enjoyed technology but had no knowledge of websites or social media, bar the occasional Facebook post. After starting a sewing course, I decided, with the help of my techie brother, to set up a blog….but what about?? Initially I wrote about my sewing journey, but I soon discovered that, as much as I was enjoying the sewing, I wasn’t passionate about it. I do believe that with any blog, the reader needs to be able to feel the passion of the person behind it. With everyone being so so busy these days, time is a very valuable resource and in order to attract any attention I decided to return to what I knew best….my books!
Swirl and Thread was born out of a combination of these two hobbies ~ the swirl of words threading through a story….it made perfect sense to me.
A chance meeting with Vanessa Fox O’ Loughlin of www.writing.ie was to take me to the next stage of my blogging life. As a newbie book blogger, it is a challenge to get your name out there among the publishers and authors. Having read a few of my reviews, Vanessa asked if I would consider sending them on to her for posting on writing.ie. Of course I agreed! I arranged, very nervously I might add, to meet Vanessa in Waterstones in Cork one evening at a book launch. Vanessa arrived with a big bag of new releases for me to read, in my own time, and to review for both my own blog and writing.ie…..my blog was off the starting blocks.
The difficulty for many bloggers is getting their posts seen on social media, but again through hard graft and late hours online, I chanced upon the fabulous book blogger, Anne Cater. Anne directed me toward a fantastic Facebook group, called BookConnectors, that she had set up years previously, an incredible resource for authors and bloggers alike. It felt like I had found my tribe (as the wonderful Galway writer Evie Gaughan said to me).
My blog has gone from strength to strength, but admittedly, at times, it has been overwhelming. I have been so lucky to attend the Irish Book Awards, as a guest of writing.ie the last two years, an experience that I will never forget. It has been a privilege to meet many authors and folk in the publishing world, something that would have seemed like an impossible dream a few years back.
In 2017, I established a weekly feature on my blog, #IrishWritersWed, which was my way of thanking all the remarkable writers this country has to offer. Every week I look forward to receiving the emails, with guest posts attached, from these published authors, these people who are so willing to take the time out to write something for me, for you all…for my blog!
I still forward all my reviews to writing.ie, but after that initial pile from Vanessa, I now receive ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) in the post direct from the publishers and the thrill of opening one of these packages never ever dissipates.
I have been nominated for the last two years in the Bloggers Bash Annual Awards ceremony in the UK in the category for Best Book Blog and have been honoured to receive second place both years. This recognition for me, and my blog, is just such a thrill, especially as it is coming from my own peers.
The blogging community is the most amazingly supportive group, a group that asks for very little, yet gives so much back in return. I have virtually met so many people on-line, people that I am now so happy to call my friends. As to where my blog will go to, I have no idea. For now I am just going to enjoy the ride!!