Blog Hop: Congratulations?

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: What’s your proudest blogging milestone or achievement?

Huh.  So I had to really, really think about this one.  Because I did not (do not) find it hard to point to something.  I don’t think (that I can recall) that I ever got into blogging with number goals (however many comments, readers, page views, etc).  I have been and am proud of some numbers I’ve hit in that regard.  They went on my resume, in fact, but putting them on my blog feels…sort of like sharing my salary?  It’s that kind of weirdness, because I don’t know how other blogs are “performing” and it feels weird to talk about it in numbers.  And those aren’t my proudest accomplishments anyway.

I started blogging to connect with other bloggers, have a place to share about the books I read, and promote my writing.  And I do all of those things, so success!  But they’re ongoing, hard to point to as accomplishments.

I think I’ve worked it out though.  Two accomplishments, sort of.  I’m proud that, when my first book was first out, I contacted a number of bloggers I knew online to ask if they’d help me promote my book.  That was nerve-wracking.  Was I pushy, or asking too much?  And of course they were all lovely, and I got to be on a number of other blogs.  But I’m proud that I asked, and proud that I had built the relationships where asking made sense.

The biggest accomplishment though, that I’m most proud of?  Just that this blog is here.  And it’s still here.  Even in the last few months, at my lowest posting frequency over the entire eight years I’ve been blogging, I feel like I’m still here.  And that’s what I’m proudest of.  That I started a blog to begin with, and that I have stayed on it all this time.

A long while back I read this New York Times article that said 95% of blogs are abandoned.  (That was in 2009, but it probably hasn’t changed.  I somehow must have found it a few years later, because I was blogging when I read it.)  I found this extremely validating.  Staying with a blog, that’s far and away not the norm.  It’s a real thing to do it.

So my proudest blogging accomplishment?  It’s blogging.

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Writing Wednesday: The Grand Escalier

Faithful readers may have noticed that content has been sparse around here lately, though at least I’ve managed to keep the Friday feature going with some regularity.  Life is good and no one should worry, but life is also busy. In the last two months (and a bit) I got married and bought a new house, so life is still very much in transition.  My new favorite phrase has become “it’s a process.”

Since long-form book reviews have not quite worked their way back into my schedule, I’ve been thinking about some other features to explore.  Today launches one of them–Writing Wednesdays, because even though I’m not blogging I’m still doing pretty well keeping on my fiction writing.  So why not tell you some about it?  I’m not sure if this will be a weekly or semiregular feature but…it’s a process!

Right now (and for the last couple of months) I’ve been working on final (?) revisions to what turned out to be Book One of my Phantom of the Opera Trilogy.  I’ve been properly working on this (at intervals) since 2013, and the roots of the story go back almost ten years before that.  So it’s very exciting to be getting close to a final version of…well, a third of the story at least! Continue reading

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Blog Hop: Clutter Everywhere…

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Does a cluttered blog have you not returning? By cluttered I mean too many columns, small type, too many photos, difficult to follow, etc.

Well…the biggest reason I don’t return to blogs is sheer lack of time.  But that’s on me!  When I choose a blog to follow, layout could be a factor, but not a big one.  As long as it’s not so crowded or poorly formatted that physically reading is a challenge, I’m probably okay.  (A nicely formatted blog could be a plus, though.)

If it’s cluttered in a content way–difficult to follow, ideas pinging about, lack of coherence, that would certainly disincline me to continue.  That’s basically just a particular subset of “poorly written” though, and I can’t say it’s one I’ve seen too often.  Occasionally I see a book blogger with a very complex template (specific questions they answer every time, a series of rated categories like characters or plot arc, etc) but I’ve usually seen that done to good effect, not so much in a cluttered way.

The two big reasons I’ve had for not following a blog?  They don’t read books I’m interested in, and that’s just different interests, nobody at fault–or they summarize more than they review.  I’ve seen a lot of “book review” blogs that give four paragraphs of plot summary, then two sentences of what they thought about it all.  And I just don’t find that engaging!  I want to know something of the plot, obviously, but when I read blogs, I want to know what the blogger felt about the book.  I can find plot summaries on Goodreads if I want more detail.  (And sometimes reviewers put up the Goodreads summary, and then go into copious summarizing, which is sort of this issue squared.)  Considering how common this is, I guess that’s a normal review style?  Never one I enjoyed reading, though.

What causes you to not continue reading a blogger?  Is clutter a factor in your choices?

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Blog Hop: Stranded

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: If you were stranded on a deserted island, which ONE book could you not live without?

Ah, the classic question!  Two answers come immediately to mind.  The practical: a book about survival on a desert island, obviously, with detailed instructions on how to make fire.  And the emotional: the Bible, for the inspiration of most passages, its sheer length and re-readability, and all those good stories in there too.

Two true answers, and both kind of cliches, I’m afraid.  So setting those two possibilities aside, I tried to think of #3.  And it’s very hard!  If I could bring one set of books, I’d bring the six volumes of L. M. Montgomery’s journal.  Not the spiritual inspiration of the Bible, but comforting, long, re-readable and very good for reading in brief snatches at the end of a hard day of island survival.

If I was forced to bring just one…  Walden would be a contender, because when Thoreau is good, he’s very good (though when he’s dull, he’s very dull) and it seems in the right spirit for seeking the silver lining in the situation.  Or possibly The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean, about a girl who survived being stranded in Antarctica, mostly by the power of her mind alone.  Not exactly the same as seeking a silver lining, but inspiring in a different way.

And if the question is really just asking what book I can’t live without, apart from the desert island scenario?  Still the Bible, to be honest, which I’ve been reading daily for…hmm, 13 years now.  And…I can’t pick another.  I have many, many beloved favorites, and to choose just one feels impossible.  Partially because, how could I discard the rest?  But also because all my favorites live in my head in some shape or another, and they would even if I didn’t have copies of them on hand.  Though I certainly wouldn’t like to give up my book collection anyway!!

What book would you want on a desert island?  And is it the same as the one book you’d want in your life?

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Blog Hop: How Do I Spend Thee, Let Me Count the Books

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is…do you have an Instagram account?  And since the answer is no, that wouldn’t be much of a response!  So, I thought I’d answer a question I missed from earlier in June: You have just won a $100.00 Visa gift card. Will you spend the entire amount on a rare collector’s edition you have always wanted, or buy several newly-published books? Explain your choice.

Kind of…neither?  I don’t think I could come up with several newly-published books I’m interested in buying (well, until a few friends who are working on their next books come out with them!)  Also, new books usually turn up at the library.  I would probably look through the books I’ve read in the last couple of years (also from the library) and buy several of my favorites.  I’ve done that periodically.  I also might fill out a few collections that currently have gaps, and since they’re mostly very old kids books I would buy used, I could spin $100 into…probably eight or ten books, easily.

As to a rare collector’s edition–well, this will probably say something about my socioeconomic status, but…$100 isn’t going to get me a rare collector’s edition.  Off the top of my head, the ones I’ve been tempted by:

  • $4000 copy of A Fighting Man of Mars, previously owned by the author’s daughter and personally inscribed
  • $3000 copy of Winnie the Pooh, signed by the author (I looked at that in-person at an antiquarian book fair, and felt like I was handling a museum piece by touching it)
  • Anything signed by L. M. Montgomery, can’t recall costs but undoubtedly in the thousands
  • $300 signed copy of Auld Licht Idylls by J. M. Barrie, signed by the author, the only actual possibility and one I wish I’d bought!

So…with $500 to spend on books, I’d hunt up something signed by Barrie.  But $100 would get divvied up into favorites I haven’t added to my collection yet.  What would you do with $100 to spend on books?

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