Why I Am The Way I Am

 

Well, I really don’t have the answer for the overarching reason of why I am the way I am in general. That’s another topic for another day. More so, I had an encounter this weekend that reminded me why I blog, why I do it the way I do  (read: probably way too open and emotional and sappy for most people). It was definitely one of those life-affirming things for me.

So Will had off on Friday for the 4th of July and we kept throwing around ideas for things to do. We finally decided just to stay around our area. We took a four mile walk (2 miles to this cute neighborhood we love with lots of shops and food stuff and 2 miles back). One of my missions, besides getting coffee, was to find this Little Free Library (which I think is the COOLEST concept ever) that I knew was in the area so I loaded up a backpack with a couple books and we went. It was an adorable street off the main road and when we walked up there were two ladies outside in front of it actually picking out paint colors for it — one being the owner and the other her neighbor. I’m a chatty/friendly person (clearly you know this) and so we got to talking to them for a little bit. Learned that the owner of the LFL used to work with Laurie Halse Anderson who I love so that was pretty cool but then she talked about WHY she decided to put up a Little Free Library. And here comes the life/blog-affirming part.

Little Free Library

She shared that she had gotten the Little Free Library when she was caring for her husband who was diagnosed with ALS. They felt closed off as it got harder to go places for him and so she got one in hopes that neighbors and the community would come use it. It became such an uplifting thing for him (and for her) to have neighbors and others come visit and exchange books and interact with them in such a hard time. I haven’t really talked about it on the blog as much as I’ve talked about losing my mom to brain cancer but Will’s dad passed away from ALS about 5 years ago. So this story really, really moved me and I was so thankful that she shared it.

Here’s the thing. I’ve always believed that reading and books are a special sort of magic. They are there when you are lonely, when you need to feel connected to other humans, when you need to escape, when you need something to uplift you or energize you or don’t want to feel alone in whatever you are dealing with. They have the power to transform and save and do all sorts of things. Words and stories are so powerful.

It reaffirmed for me about how much reading and blogging about what I read is about connection for me — connecting with other readers, hearing their stories and just connecting with humanity in the pages of the books I read. I think that’s why I’m so willing to share the personal things. Why I hope you will trust me with your stories when I share whether that be in the form of blog posts of your own, in my comments or in my inbox. That’s why I might talk more about my experiences related to a book or how a story moved me personally. It’s just important to me. It’s just how I’m wired. Maybe it was losing my mom when I realized how much CONNECTING with other people who went through something hard/similar and hearing their stories made me not feel so alone. How certain books were there for me at the right time.

It reaffirmed why I run my blog the way I do.

 

And this is not to say that it’s the right way (I’ve said it a zillion times before…no right way/no better way). It’s just the way that makes me feel content and makes it fulfilling and worthwhile FOR ME. It’s why I’m okay that I’m not naturally the blogger who can do a wonderful critical analysis and point out all the technical things that just don’t come so easily for me. It’s why I’m okay with featuring books in different ways even though it might not be flashy and get a whole lot of attention. It’s why I’m okay writing more personal posts in favor of  promo posts. All those things that I don’t do are great and needed and important… but the things that I do are the things that align with ME and what I care about/what interests me and the blog gives me an outlet to do that. I’m so thankful for that. When I DO the things that make me fulfilled it’s what keeps this blog going (and everybody’s sense of fulfillment comes from something else!).

Sometimes I’ll get down on myself that maybe I should do this and that and what not. Maybe my blog should have more of this. Maybe it should look more like this. Maybe I should do less of this. But at the end of the day, I’m really happy with what I do. I’m happy with what I put out here and what I focus my time on when I do this. I’m so thankful for all the ways I’ve connected with people who became shoulders to cry on (metaphorical but whew you don’t have to endure the snot on your shoulder), who gave me advice or inspired me, who I may have helped with my words, who reached out to me and shared their stories, who may have felt inspired by my openness, etc. etc.

Today just really reaffirmed why I blog, why I do it the the way I do and why I am the way I am — no matter how the trends shift or what becomes cool. At the heart of this blog will always be the things that are important and fulfilling to me and I sincerely hope, for my fellow bloggers, that it’s that way for you — no matter how that looks! It also reminded me just how vast this book community is outside of my little corner of the bookternet and how wonderful it is.

Thank you for being vulnerable with me these 5 years. Thank you for sharing your stories on your blog, in the comments of my posts/emails or by the books that you write. It’s what has kept me around for the past 5 years — not the ARCs, not the “cool perks”, not the ad money, not the spotlight or anything else.

How To Find Out About Bookish Events Like A Boss!

I go to A LOT of bookish events — conferences, author signings, festivals. Seriously, A LOT, in only 2 and almost a half years of blogging. If it’s got books (and I can drive/bus/take a train..and on occasion, even fly to get there) I’m there!  It also helps that I live in Philadelphia so we get some decent tours and I’m only a train ride away from NYC and DC. So there’s that.  I know not everyone lives in a place where book tours come through often. So I can’t help you on that one but after getting a lot of people asking me HOW I find out about all these tours and this recent question on my My Bookish Calendar post (check out this month’s if you are in the Philly area or DC area), I decided to address it. PS. OMG I’m still freaking out that I got my picture with THE Stephanie Perkins!!

I’m fairly new to the book blogging community and I’m curious, how in the world do you bloggers find out about all these book tours and events? It seems every blog I go to I see that the bloggers are attending all these events, and I’m like geez how much time do you find these things? Like do you look up tours for every author you read, or is it word of mouth, or things you just stumble upon in the blogosphere? It sounds like such a nerd-fest, I want to participate! – C

 

1. Get to know your local bookstores: Every month or so when I’m compiling my list for My Bookish Calendar I go on the website of every bookstore that I know of in a radius that I’m willing to drive or ones that I’ve been to for bookish events and check out their events tab. For me, that’s about 6-8 bookstores that I know have events — two are Barnes & Noble and all the rest are indies. It took me a while to figure out which ones have events but now I know which ones do and don’t so I don’t really waste my time checking out the other ones. Also, subscribe to their mailing list. My local indie always has monthly emails where they talk about books but also announce their tours going on. Total time saver!

2. Stalk your fave authors social media outlets: It would be so time consuming to search for events for every single author I want to see. So I make sure I follow their Twitter accounts, Facebook and blogs to be able to glance and see if they’ve announced tours. It’s saved me a few times to see an author tweet an event or blog about their tour  schedule if the bookstore hadn’t put it up when I looked or if I just was too busy to stalk my bookstores.

3. Get to know local book bloggers: This is another great way to find out about events.  The Philly area book bloggers are always tweeting one another about events so we all know! Some regions of book bloggers even have their own blogs to keep each other in the loop about bookish events (the  Texas bloggers are the best example…DAMN how I wish I lived in Texas because they get ALLLL OF THE GOOD THINGS). So put the call out on your blog or Twitter (people on Twitter are so helpful) and ask who lives in your general vicinity. Someone will point you in the right direction!

4. Check the publisher’s websites & social media accounts: Most publishers have an area where you can search for authors from their publishing house who are going on tour. They also tweet and FB about bigger tours — a la the Breathless Reads tours (Penguin) or the Dark Days (HarperTeen) which all have their own FB pages. (Example: HarperTeen). If you can’t find where they have that info, tweet them or FB them!

5. Goodreads Events: Goodreads has this nifty little feature where you can search for events near your area. It’s helped a few times though I will admit it is NOT the most effective method I have on this list.

6. Find a copy of your local newspaper: Yes, they still exist. And sometimes in the events section they let you know about bookish events going on. This is is my least used method but I have used it before.

7. Use the Google Machine: Sometimes you just have to start googling for events. Search for “Philly book events” (or obviously whatever region you want) and see what comes up. Before I figured out which bookstores did events frequently I was ALWAYS just googling to find stuff. Sometimes it would lead me to another blogger or bookstore. I still do it on occasion to see if I missed anything but sometimes it’s helped me to find a new bookstore that I had never knew  existed or who just started doing book events.  Seriously, there is this local book store that I found doing this and they were new (well old but had been bought out or something) and now they host SO many book events.

Like I said before, sometimes you might live in a remote place that doesn’t bring tours your way..and that just plain old stinks! But if you are lucky to be within driving distance and are willing to drive a few hours, you can still catch a great weekend tour sometimes!

Another tip if your area doesn’t get many book events: Talk to the manager or owner of your local bookstore and tell  them that you’d really like to see some authors visit the shop. When I visited the HarperTeen staff two years ago at BEA, we had a roundtable discussion and one of the questions I asked was how to get all these great authors to your local bookstores. Their advice was to talk to the bookstores, have them talk to the publishers and give them ideas for “hot” authors right now. Also be VERY willing to get the word out online and around your town and help out if they need it.

Anybody else have any other advice?? How do YOU find out about book events?  Does your region have a blogger who handles keeping a list of upcoming author signings and book events??

Letter To My Young Blogging Self

Dear Young Blogging Self on Day 1,

First and foremost, pat yourself on the back for making the decision to join this community. You will learn a lot, make some lifelong friends, meet amazing and inspiring people, find incredible books that you might not have read before and ultimately find even more passion for reading. You’ll struggle and you’ll feel like quitting but there will be this pull that keeps you wanting to be a part of it. Embrace those good days. You’ll need them. Also, remember that this is supposed to be fun.

Don’t let yourself get caught up in the numbers game.

The popularity bug will gnaw at you and you’ll start out believing that followers are the end all and the “way to the ARCS” but remember that you have a library to get “free” books, that fellow bloggers will share and getting ARCs can be a double edged sword (Your TBR pile is going to look like HOARDERS). Being polite and gracious to publishers and working hard to write reviews that are helpful to readers will eventually come together to give you the honor of reviewing books from publishers. Don’t ever take that foregranted. You’ve always lived life with the “quality over quantity” mindset so don’t let blogging be any different. You’ll struggle at first but you’ll quickly learn that there is a big difference, for YOU, between blog followers and blog readers and that will change your outlook on blogging.

Blogging can be hard work.

You’ll initially start blogging thinking that it’s easy — just read and write reviews and talk on Twitter. You’ll see bloggers  who make it look easy but you’ll soon realize how much time and hard work it is. Sometimes you’ll feel like it’s a second job and you’ll feel obligated to do things but remember the fact that it is a hobby. If you don’t want a hobby that requires that much thought and time…take up bedazzling t-shirts. Don’t try to take the easy route on anything. You’ll feel better about it even if you feel like sometimes what you are doing doesn’t pay off as well as things others are doing.

Blogging might be hard work but don’t set yourself up to “fail” by putting unrealistic expectations on yourself and your blog.

You are going to be high strung at first. You’ll panic, stress and be the perfectionist that you are. Meltdowns and threats to quit will abound until you have a blogging epiphany of sorts and you’ll be more chill and relaxed about your blog. You’ll find that what works for others doesn’t work for you and if you don’t feel like posting 7x a week then don’t. If you want to post about your upcoming wedding  (yes it’s coming!) or be completely silly and random…do it. You’ll be way happier when you realize there is no formula to being a book blogger. You do not have to post X amount of times or do anything else that other bloggers do. DON’T STRESS about it. It’s not the end of the world. Do what you can or what you feel like. I promise you that your blog won’t suffer and you’ll be a lot happier when you try not to emulate the way you think blogging has to be done.

Do YOU, girl, DO YOU.

You might not be the best review writer or the funniest person but your readers will truly appreciate who you are. They will love that you are random and silly and they will also love when you are sentimental and share deeply personal things. It’s what will help make your blog stand out. You’ll try at first to emulate other bloggers and their style but very quickly you’ll learn that you aren’t them and it doesn’t work for you. You’ll have way more fun with your blog when you let go and be yourself. And heavens to Betsy, don’t compare yourself. Read the things you want. Don’t read what you don’t want.

Don’t pet the drama llama.

Sidenote: Use that term in your daily life because it ROCKS. DON’T PET THE DRAMA LLAMA. You are going to not like things that people do but keep yo trap shut & leave the snarky comments to the pros.  Yes, you’ll see lame, tacky things that you’d NEVER do but…you don’t have to do them. Find your blogging bffs and have a good bitch session with them. However, stand up for things that you believe in strongly — plagerism, censorship, really bad behavior and bullying. Just think before you speak. Sometimes you’ll just simply want to state your opinion but sometimes you’ll be doing it out of anger and it doesn’t suit you well. Nothing good ever will come out of the times you were being petty. Say something when you need to but don’t engage in every petty thing that happens in the community. You’ll sleep better at night.

Embrace the audiobooks

Listen to April already and get into audiobooks. You’ll stop being such a raging biotch because of your sucky commute and mindless tasks at work and cleaning the house will become bearable.  You’ll also feel like a champ when you can finish more books.

 Lastly,

You’ll stumble and learn along the way but, baby, you’re new. That’s what you do to learn. Be gracious to other newbies and cut them some slack when they do horrifying things because they just might NOT know. You’ll change the way you blog, the things you do on your blog and the way you think about blogging but as far as I can see you’ll be true to yourself. There’s a million things I could tell you to do or not to do (start out with WordPress, don’t eff around with your code, don’t follow for a follow, write a few week’s worth of content before you even begin, etc. etc.) but you’ll figure it all out. Enjoy the journey, enjoy learning from your fellow bloggers and just be yourself. You’ll be proud of how far you’ve come.

Love, 
Your Older Book Blogging Self, At 1.5(ish) Years Old

What about you? What things would you tell your younger blogging self? Things you learned? Things you wish you would have known? I’m sure they will all be different for everyone as we are all different people! I hope maybe this is helpful advice for new bloggers.

Getting Blog Followers Vs. Getting Blog Readers

This post is no judgment on how people run their blog nor is it a post to say what is right or wrong. Rather, it is some thoughts that I’ve been thinking on for some time.There isn’t one right or wrong way to blog. I’m not going to get into anything about if follower counts matter, follower inflation, the right way to gain followers etc. etc. That’s neither here nor there for this discussion. You do what you do. The blogging police is not all up in this post. Rather, I’m going to explore what I feel the difference between getting blog followers and readers is.

Like many blogging communities, there’s always chatter around Twitter and the blogosphere about followers. There are follower hops, giveaways for reaching a certain follower count and many of us are silently (and not so silently) counting follower widgets and Feedburner subscribers. The idea of our followers, subscribers and readers is a big part of our blogging experience in many ways.

For myself, as I’ve waded through the blogging waters, I’ve found that there is a big difference between getting blog followers and getting blog readers and thus varying degrees of importance in my eyes. Now obviously a good chunk of our followers ARE in fact readers. But I’m talking about the times when follower counts are made to be seen as THE “worth” and tell-all of the blog.

It’s easy to get blog followers but definitely takes a lot more effort to get and keep blog readers.I can’t tell you how many blogs I “followed” but have never been back to. It’s a really easy, non-committal thing to do. Readers on the other hand…they come back. They are loyal. They are interacting whether it be via comments, Twitter or email. They respond. They start discussions or keep them going. They make MY reading and bookish experience all the more better. I learn new things from my readers and I honestly cherish every single comment and thought that my readers share with me. They are my GO TO people. My readers aren’t my SOLE reason for blogging but it sure would get old to me if nobody was reading. i might as well just write my thoughts about books in a locked diary.

I consider my follower count as nothing more than a useful measure FOR MYSELF because I know it IS in fact a true indicator of how my blog is growing as I don’t do things intentionally to get followers….followers for the SAKE of the numbers that is. I mean, yes, I want more followers if it means I have more readers…but to me, quality of the follower always trumps the quantity.

I blog for my readers and not for a follower number. When I see blogs that have thousands of followers yet they literally only get 1 or 2 comments on EVERY post, I have to wonder how fulfilling that is? What’s the goal for them in blogging? To have a lot of followers? At what point does that get boring when nobody is reading or responding? I mean, as I’ve said before, getting blog comments is that affirmation that are readers our there and I find that to be satisfying. Obviously I’m not them so I don’t know what makes them tick..this is just me trying to understand.

Now I’m not saying in ANY way that followers or stats or anything aren’t good. I get that they are a way to measure one’s progress and growth as a blogger (if that is something you care about) and give us something to feel good about when we spend time doing it. But for me, there is a big difference between followers and readers and I choose to focus on my readers and not my numbers…because there is fulfillment in that for me which might not be the same for others.

The days I feel the most alive and gung ho about blogging is when I have genuine interaction on my blog or when people seek me out on Twitter to respond to something on my blog. It honestly makes me so giddy. I love genuine comments on my blog and I love stepping off my blog to BE an active reader…despite the fact that wedding planning has made me fall behind!

When I’m perusing blogs, I’m more likely to hit the follow button or add you to my RSS feed if I see a slew of comments interacting with you about something you posted…even if you only have 30 blog followers. I can tell you’ve got something that readers want..and I want to get that from your blog too! If I got onto a blog with thousands of followers and I’m hearing crickets…I’m likely to move on.

EDIT: Thanks to a great comment pointing out something in the paragraph right before this I’d like to clarify. This isn’t the end all of how I “judge” a blog firstly. It’s just a statement that in general..that’s what I’d do. Also, when I am on a blog and deciding to follow it…I don’t judge it based on one post. I actually tend to go back a page or two in older posts and just see the variety of their posts. I see on my own blog that some posts are just not as popular compared to others..so I’d never base my following a blog on one post.

What about you…do you see a difference between getting readers and followers or do you think I’m just splitting hairs? I’d love to know!

What I Lack In Real Life I’ve Found In The Blogging Community – BBAW #1

“While the awards are a fun part of BBAW, they can never accurately represent the depth and breadth of diversity in the book blogging community. Today you are encouraged to highlight a couple of bloggers that have made book blogging a unique experience for you. They can be your mentors, a blogger that encouraged you to try a different kind of book, opened your eyes to a new issue, made you laugh when you needed it, or left the first comment you ever got on your blog. Stay positive and give back to the people who make the community work for you!”

If you’d like to participate in Book Blogger Appreciation Week, click here!

Sometimes when I watch movies like Sister of the Traveling Pants or listen to others talk about spa days or book clubs with their very best girlfriends I start to get a little bit weepy. I WANT THAT. For whatever reason, I just don’t have a solid group of girlfriends in “real life.” I have a girl friend or two but even those have faded since graduating college in 2008. I always thought that it was me…maybe I have this weird genetic mutation that doesn’t allow me to find female companions. I really was convinced it was me until….

I started blogging and I found out what the REAL problem was — I just didn’t find the right girls to be bffs with! Pretty early on in the blogging community I had an instant connection with a great group of girls. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve found many many more awesome people that I consider to be really close blogging friends but I can’t deny the crazy special bond I have always had with a handful of bloggers.

 These girls are the friends I wish I had in real life. Truly, I can talk books, movies, tv and music all day long with these girls. We help each other with blogging ideas and share our “blogging insecurities.” We know how to make each other die laughing or completely blow up a Facebook thread with our hilarious shenanigans. The times I’ve spent with some of them at BEA or elsewhere it has only reconfirmed that these are my long lost girlfriends that I need in my life. But aside from our ability to gab and laugh together or at one another, these girls know how to have a heart to heart. I’ve shared some the most personal things in my life with these ladies and they have responded with support, a cyber shoulder to cry on, words of wisdom and encouragement. My relationships with these ladies go beyond blogging….they are my friends for life.

I hate listing people who have helped and supported me because I always feel sick to my stomach knowing that I couldn’t possibly list the numerous people that I’ve encountered along the way that have truly impacted me, boosted my spirits, made me laugh, or gave me solid advice. If you are reading this and we’ve interacted, I appreciate you. I appreciate every comment, every word of encouragement, every laugh or book recommendation. I say this honestly and genuinely…as someone who doesn’t have girlfriends and values the friendships I’ve made through one of my biggest passions in life — reading.

But here’s a SHORT list of bloggers who have made this year and a few months unique for me. I’d highly suggest you check them out:

Steph from Steph Su Reads: I read Steph’s blog before I met her at PAYA. I had only been blogging for about 2 or 3 months at this point and she was KIND OF A BIG DEAL to me. Her blog was awesome and I always was putting books on my TBR list because of her. I met her at PAYA and she was every bit as awesome as her blog. After PAYA, we met again at a book signing and then had the most amazing time at IHOP talking for FOREVER about everything. After that we made it a point to have book dates and hang out. I value my friendship with Steph like you wouldn’t believe. I look up to her (even though she is  younger than me). She is the voice of reason and always gives me solid, levelheaded advice. She has helped me tremendously in my blogging journey and I appreciate her encouragement about blogging and just life in general. She’s now in China for work and I miss her like crazy as she really became more than “just a blogging friend.”

Jen from Makeshift Bookmark — I’m pretty sure that Jen is my long lost best friend. FOR REAL. It’s disgusting how much we think the same things and have the same sense of humor. I just can’t even tell you the ridiculous things that we’ve found that we have in common. We have lost track and just start saying Number 94038059 of why we are friends. Seriously. She always seems to make me laugh no matter how good or bad my day is. She listens to me bitch about the most RIDICULOUS things and then we laugh at ourselves. We can vent and rant and I know that every secret is safe with Jen. She has made blogging ridiculously fun for me (and EVERYONE ELSE, am I right?) and has kept me SANE during the slumps in my blogging journey or days when I want to give up. Aside from that, this girl has a heart of gold and we always have each other’s backs.

April, Anna, Tara, Ginger, Carla, Capillya, Shanyn & Melanie — THESE GIRLS. I want them all to live near me so we can have dance parties, cocktail hour and BOOK CLUB…which would probably turn into cocktail hour. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants can back the eff up because the friendships I have with these girls is AMAZING. I can’t count the number of LOL moments, conversations to encourage each other with blogging, heart to heart conversations about some really personal things and every other random awesome moment that has brought us all together. I met all of them at BEA (with the exception of Ginger & Capillya) and seriously, I don’t care how corny this was, but that week was one of the best times I’ve ever had. It pains me to not be able to have that all the other weeks out of the year. Every single one of these ladies has listened to me, given me advice, made me laugh and reminded me that having a female friends in my life is something I NEED. Love you all.

Michelle & Danielle  – These two are amazing women and seem to always be there to listen or give blogging advice to a little lowly blogger like myself. The encouragement I’ve received from them helped me tremendously throughout this journey. I respect the hell out of them and find them to be two of the most passionate bloggers I’ve talked to. They are ALWAYS doing something encouraging to add positivity to the blogging community. I’ve received some really great advice from these two and they’ve set some great examples for me when I was new and they instantly accepted me.

Kristi — Guys, I know many in the YA community are  going to say Kristi has inspired them to start blogging (rightly so!) but I’ll be honest…she wasn’t the first blog I read. I can’t say she made me want to blog or inspired it. I found her a little later. WHAT I WILL TELL YOU…Kristi is one of the most GENUINE, nicest bloggers in the world and if you have ever met her you would never know that she is “a big deal” as a blogger because she doesn’t carry herself in that way. She is normal, down-to-earth and seriously makes me laugh. A LOT. From PAYA to BEA, I’ve loved getting to know Kristi and she has really helped fuel my love for YA lit. She does A LOT for the community and I don’t know how she does it all and still has a life. I appreciate all the time she has taken to help me along and listen to me vent or trust me with her own thoughts and problems. She isn’t the “Story Siren” to me. She is Kristi…a dear friend and a WONDERFUL person with an amazing heart. She has shown me what it takes to be a classy blogger as she takes all the good and bad that comes with being “The Story Siren” gracefully. I don’t know how she does it but she has my utmost respect.

Sigh, I almost deleted all of this because I could honestly list SO SO SO MANY more people. I really could. I have all their names in my head. It makes me upset to think I could possibly hurt someone I care about dearly for not mentioning them by name here. Please just know who you are.

Reading And Review ARCS: The One Downside To Me

Just an observation I had regarding my blog…

I know you are probably thinking, “WHAT!? There is a downside to ARCs?” Trust me, I never thought it was true until just this past week or so. Let me preface this with…I LOVE getting Advance Readers Copies, truly. I feel honored to be able to read and review a book early to help the author and publisher get the word out about new books. I love being able to give an opinion to readers to discern whether or not this book is worth their time or something they’d really enjoy. I love having the scoop about early books and, let’s be honest, you feel pretty darn special when your non-blogging friends are amazed and wondering how you get “free books” before they are released. Seriously, once I figured out the mystery of when to post ARC reviews and how to juggle reading them in a timely manner, I just really appreciated the opportunity to do so.

However, I’ve come to find there is one major downfall in my eyes — aside from feeling like I have too many books and not enough time…which seems like a pretty decent problem to have! I’ve been going through my reviews and I’ve been noticing that the more ARCs I read and review earlier, the less interaction I have on my posts. It makes sense…less people have read the books and therefore most feel as though they don’t have anything to really contribute other than “I want to read this” and sometimes people don’t want to read book reviews of books they’ve never read for fear of reading spoilers (which BTW..mine are spoiler free unless otherwise noted!).

Lola and the Boy Next DoorThere are exceptions to this rule — such as my review of Lola and the Boy Next Door  or Where She Went — but I find that it is in certain cases where EVERYBODY and their mom wants to read this book or an ARC that has been heavily circulated to bloggers. But overall, I’m finding that while my readers are certainly checking these early reviews out, there just isn’t as much interaction. It makes sense, I know, and it comes with the territory of reading books and reviewing them before they come out.

I think why it is a downside for me is as I’ve said before that comments really are our daily boost of affirmation as a blogger. My favorite thing about writing reviews is having people tell me how much they loved this book or if they disagree with me or just talking about a point I made. Even better when someone comments that they want to read a book because of my review. I think that is why sometimes I see it as a downfall. I love getting comments, not just for comments sake, but because I LOVE talking books and hearing feedback about the opinions I’ve shared. Some of my best reviews, in terms of feedback and interaction, have been books like Sloppy Firsts or Anna and the French Kiss — all books that I felt like I read WAYYYYY after everybody else.

I don’t really have any solutions or conclusions about it….this was more of just an observation about my own blog.  I will say that it has reaffirmed by desire to read the backlisted titles that I own and balance them with my ARCs because I really love being able to have actual conversations with my readers.  I’m not by any means going to stop reading ARCs because I truly do love to do what I can to help an industry I love so much just by sharing my honest opinion about a book.


Do you guys find the same to be true for your blog? Do you find that more interaction will come later on the post as more people have read the book or does it end up just being forgotten? Do you comment on early reviews or books that JUST came out if you’ve never read it?

Vlogging: I Haz A Face

It’s a pretty ballsy step when you upload your first vlog. I mean, first you have to get over the awkwardness of actually talking to a camera…and seriously…you feel like a complete freak for a while.Not to mention that when you bring up that you vlog for the first time to non-bloggers they think it involves getting naked for some pervy 40 year olds. Ok, not really, but my friends think its really strange. “WHO USES A WEBCAM BESIDES P0RN STARS??” 

Unless you are used to vlogging, you might feel a little bit nervous and find yourself stuttering when you don’t normally stutter, rambling incessantly and just really acting more awkward than you actually are. You all remember my first vlog, right? It was AWKWARD and I kept getting really frustrated at the amount of editing that I had to do because I kept messing up…so then I decided to just make it silly. And to top it off, before you actually release your vlog into the wild, you start to think about all those internet trolls and just generally rude anonymous people who  might tear into you. You want people to like you. You don’t want to look like an idiot. You are putting yourself on display in an otherwise relatively anonymous platform (even if you do HAVE picture of yourself on your blog). You are showing, hey world, I haz a FACE!  It’s scary, really.

I promised myself I would keep trying to vlog to get better at recording them and practicing my editing skills. I feel a lot better about vlogging now but let’s be honest…I’m still hella awkward. But I love it because I feel as though vlogging gives me a chance to actually show you who I REALLY am in a way that my writing might not. My boyfriend always shakes his head when I show him a vlog and says, “That really represents you SO well.” Especially my latest vlog.

Not only do I love vlogging (on my own channel and the Totally Booksessed channel) but I love watching vlogs. I like feeling like I’m getting to know the people I talk to and read their blog. It’s pretty exciting that vlogging is getting more popular and that people are stepping outside of their comfort zone to do it. Although..I typically only keep watching a vlog if it is interesting and engaging…or if I really heart the person.

I’d really love to find more YA (or adult) vloggers so share your channel with me if you vlog in a group or solo. Aside from Totally Booksessed, I know of the Interrobangers (a channel of YA bloggers formed by Pam at Bookalicious coming atcha on September 5!) and YA Rebels (a group of authors). I’d love to get a list together of bloggers who also vlog!

So, do you vlog? How did your first vlogging experience go? If you don’t vlog, why not? And do you watch vlogs or do you find yourself skipping over them?


Thanks to Jacinda for sparking the idea for this post with our conversation on Twitter today!

My personal Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/perpetualpageturner

In Which I Compare My Blogging Problems To That Of Someone Who Makes Millions

I feel like Ryan Howard last year in the middle of his batting slump. I get all ready to write a review, I have major thoughts about a book, I open up Blogger….and NOTHING. 1, 2, 3 strikes and I’m out. And I get so discouraged. SO discouraged. I think that maybe I’m not cut out for book blogging…which I know is just the kind of self doubt you have in the midst of a slump. I’m sure Ryan Howard, or any slugger for that matter, sits there and thinks…”I just don’t even know what it feels like to hit a home run again. How do I do it? Am I capable of it?” And that is the kind of defeated attitude that gets you in your own head and causes you to continue the slump. You have to start small. Stop thinking about hitting it out of the parks or having the winning run in a big game. Think about just getting on base…connecting with the ball.

All this baseball talk aside (sorry guys, I’m a huge baseball nut…and my boyfriend would be really proud of this post lol), that is what I’m doing. In the midst of my reviewing slump, I’m just starting small. I’m jumping back on the blog just to write this post. Because…hey…I’m writing something. Baby steps. Maybe tonight I’ll have the motivation to write a review–albeit shorter than my normal reviews.

I’ve talked about having major reading slumps and how to get out of them before but I’ve never had a reviewing slump this bad. Jen from Makeshift Bookmark and I were discussing this the other day about how we both are kind of in this weird little slump of not wanting to write reviews. I am reading tons but for whatever reason it ends there. Sometimes I just get these urges to read and not analyze the text to death or to just let my thoughts about the book just BE. Sometimes I don’t feel like formulating my thoughts about a book because I just loved it so much and the only thing I have to say is I FREAKING LOVE THIS BOOK. My reviews tend to be a mix of personal reactions and feelings and a bit of analysis like a tradition review…but sometimes I don’t want to think of anything except thrusting the book in other people’s hands! Or sometimes I liked the book but it didn’t really inspire me to say too much. Or I feel like everything has been already said a million times about a particular book and I think, “does anybody really care what I think about this book when everyone in the blogosphere has already reviewed it?”

The other issue is that I’ve been a little bit preoccupied with some other things going on in my life. Good things…that hopefully I can tell you soon! So when I sit down to write a review, I end up doing a million other things related to the other happenings in my life.

What about you guys? Have you ever been in a reviewing slump before? Have you ever felt like sometimes you just want READ and not write about it…you know..just let the book and your thoughts BE? How do you get out of your slumps? Or does it just always feel so natural for you to read and then want to write about it?

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