Archive

Posts Tagged ‘book blogging’

September Updates and August Reflections

September 1, 2015 2 comments
A lovely pond my fiancé and I rested near on one of our hikes.

A lovely pond my fiancé and I rested near on one of our hikes.

Hello my lovely readers!

I hope you enjoyed the variety of genres on the blog this month.  I know I enjoyed reading them!  I also just wanted to let you know not to expect a huge influx of product reviews.  I at most will have one a month, and then only if I’ve won an item from another blog (I like to give them the links back as a thank you) or if I receive an item for review.  Again, though, I will keep it to one a month at most.

The book of the month for September will be:

The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler
First reviewed in September 2011
“Marlowe is someone whose presence it is always worth being in, regardless of whether his surroundings are perfect or not.  I recommend this to noir fans, highly.”

How was my reading, reviewing, and writing this month?

August books read: 4 (1 historic urban fantasy, 2 ya dystopian scifi, 1 historic fantasy)

August reviews: 7

Other August posts: 1 product review

Most popular post in August written in August: Product Review: Squatty Potty

My favorite post of August: Book Review: Anarchism and Other Essays by Emma Goldman. I really enjoyed the discussion in the comments of this review.  It was a difficult review to write, and I was really glad it stirred such a positive response!

Most popular post in August written at any time: Book Review: The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (Bottom of TBR Pile Challenge)

August writing: I put my writing energy into the blog this month, as well as my reading.  This was intentional, as I was very limited on time, and I wanted my blog in tip top shape before fall.

Coming up in September: I have a 2015 ARC with a giveaway to post, as well as reviews for the reads named above.  For the first time in years, I won’t be participating in the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril challenge.  Instead, I chose to participate in the Once Upon a Time fantasy challenge in the spring.  But I encourage you all to consider participating in R.I.P. X!

Happy September and happy reading!

Advertisements

June Updates and May Reflections

View of the Colorado River and Austin, Texas, where I went this month for work.

View of the Colorado River and Austin, Texas, where I went this month for work.

Hello my lovely readers!

I hope you enjoyed the variety of genres reviewed here in May.

The book of the month for June will be:

A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She is Today by Kate Bornstein
First reviewed in June 2013
“I strongly recommend this book to everyone, really, but especially anyone with an interest in GLBTQ history/theory/studies or an interest in the first few decades of Scientology.”

How was my reading, reviewing, and writing this month?

May books read: 5 (2 nonfiction, 3 fantasy)

May reviews: 5

Other May posts: 1 response to current events

Most popular post in May written in May: On Josh and Anna Duggar and the Fundamentalist Christian Culture of Forgiving Molesters and Abusers

Most popular post in May written at any time: Book Review: The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (Bottom of TBR Pile Challenge)

May writing: This was a rough writing month for me.  It was an incredibly busy month, including a business trip that meant I wound up working twelve days in a row.  I also this month really felt the stress of planning my wedding more so than other months.  So that meant a lot of evenings (when I usually write) I was too stressed out to get into the zone.  I hope that this month I can handle my stress better so I can get back into the groove.  I would like to finish the first draft of my current project by the end of June.

Coming up in June: I have three fantasy reads for Once Upon a Time IX to post reviews for.  I also have a review of a nonfiction book I got through NetGalley to post.  I also participated in the book blogger interview swap for Juneterviews over on Book Bloggers International, so be keeping an eye out for a link to that.

Happy June and happy reading!

Waiting For Daybreak Blog Tour: Author’s Wrap-up!

September 1, 2012 3 comments

Wow. It’s hard to believe my first book release blog tour is over.  Overall, this was a very wonderful experience, and I learned a lot about running a tour, which I will share with other indie authors in future posts.  This post though is about Waiting For Daybreak, my future writing, and the wonderful participating bloggers.

I of course was pleased (and relieved) to see that bloggers mostly enjoyed my first novel.  Getting so much feedback and opinions let me see what quips and qualms were personal and what were things to bare in mind for my future books.

So what things did people disagree on?  The ending was mostly loved, although a few people thought it was a bit abrupt.  The length was deemed just right by some and too short by others.  Some people found the level of information about the zombies and amount of horror content just right. Others wanted more.  These are all choices that are ultimately up to the author, and I’m still pleased with the choices I made (or rather with the direction Frieda dictated the story to go).

The one universal quip, and which I admit I have always known is a fault of mine, was a desire for stronger setting/world building.  Although the world is always 100% clear in my mind, I can sometimes struggle to be sure that it is coming through on the page.  I have come up with a few strategies to improve this in future books and appreciate the honest feedback from all the bloggers.

The fact that everyone was so honest means I can trust that the one thing that everyone loved is truly good.  That is character building.  People loved Frieda, and they loved Snuggles.  They found her three-dimensional and well-rounded.  Flawed, aggravating sometimes even, but ultimately understandable.  A few people even mentioned that they came away with more empathy for people with a mental illness.  You guys, this feedback blew me away.  My whole concept and point was to create a main character in a genre book with a mental illness as a way to fight stigma and ableism.  The fact that this worked on any level at all…. Well. It rocked my world.  I hope seeing people talk about relating to Frieda and feeling for her will be an encouragement to people dealing with mental illnesses.  Plus, on a writer’s level, it’s just good to know that I can create deeply flawed characters who are still someone readers can root for.

I couldn’t’ve asked for much more from a blog tour for a debut book.  It’s strong, solid feedback for a first novel.  I know more clearly what I do well and what to keep a closer eye on in my editing process.

In addition to the feedback, I got to get to know a bunch of book bloggers.  I’ve never interviewed an author on my own blog before, and participating in interviews made me see how much fun they can be!  They gave me the chance to explain where my idea came from, clarify some aspects of who I am and how I write, and just connect on a more personal level with my readers.  It was so much fun!  Also having the blogs host giveaways of my book brought it to a broader audience.  It was so nice for me to see who chose to enter the giveaways and why.  I also greatly appreciated the space for guest posts to talk more about my own perspective of my book.  It was all-in-all a very positive experience for me.

One thing that came up repeatedly during the tour was people wondering precisely what mental illness Frieda has.  I honestly didn’t realize people would be so curious about this!  I’ve added an author’s note explaining her mental illness to the ebook versions (although I couldn’t add a note on to the print version).  I will reproduce it here now so those with review copies, giveaway copies, or the print book can satisfy their curiosity. 🙂

Frieda has Borderline Personality Disorder, commonly known as BPD.  The Diagnostic Statistical Manual IV-TR, which psychiatrists use in diagnosing mental illnesses, requires that a person exhibit at least five of the nine symptoms associated with BPD.  Frieda has all except for number one.

The diagnostic criteria are:

“(1) frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.

(2) a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation

(3) identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self

(4) impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.

(5) recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior

(6) affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)

(7) chronic feelings of emptiness

(8) inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)

(9) transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms”

MICHAEL B. FIRST, M.D., ed. 2000. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 4th Ed. (DSM-IV-TR™, 2000). Washington, DC. American Psychiatric Association. ISBN 0-89042-024-6, ISBN 0-89042-025-4. STAT!Ref Online Electronic Medical Library. http://online.statref.com/document.aspx?fxid=37&docid=314. 8/30/2012 12:18:14 PM CDT (UTC -05:00).

For more information on BPD, please see the DSM-IV-TR cited above.

There were two other things everyone wanted to know.  1) will there be a sequel? and 2) what am I currently working on?

I didn’t write Waiting For Daybreak with the intention of it being the start of a series.  But. A few weeks after finishing it, the germ of an idea jumped into my head.  I believe that Frieda’s story is not complete.  There are still many questions, primarily about her family, but also about what she will do with winter coming on.  I do intend to write a sequel addressing these questions.  However, it will require a bit of a road trip or two for research, so it won’t be coming out for at least two years.  It also has to wait for me to finish my current work in progress.

My current work in progress is a dark fantasy.  It is set in the Lovecraft universe and follows four siblings fifteen years after the Dark Ones have taken over Boston.  It will examine many themes, but the primary ones will be sibling relationships and what makes family family.  Each of the siblings will take turns expressing themselves, and I’m very excited about the opportunity to get into four very different minds.  I’ve had a love for Cthulhu for a long time, so I am truly enjoying getting to bury myself in this world.

I think that’s about it for my wrap-up, except for the all-important huge THANK YOU to every single participating blogger!!! Thank you for being willing to accept indie books in general and mine in particular.  Thank you for your honesty in reviewing and positivity in hosting guest posts, interviews, and giveaways.  Thank you for helping my writing to reach a broader audience.  Thank you for everything you did to help make my first blog tour and novel release a success!  There wouldn’t even have been a blog tour without you all, and I look forward to hopefully working with you all again in the future.

Note: If you would like to see the reviews, interviews, and guest posts, please check out the blog tour and reviews page.  It will remain up and be updated with new reviews as they show up, even though the tour is now over.  If you are interested in more of my writing, please check out my publications page.  Thanks!

Africa Reading Challenge! (Hosted by Kinna Reads)

January 19, 2012 7 comments

Map of AfricaI’m super-excited to get to participate in a reading challenge this year that I heard rumblings about and was announced this week.  The Africa Reading Challenge!  Hosted by Kinna Reads.

According to Kinna, the rules are:

Challenge Period
January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012

Region
The entire African continent, including its island-states, which are often overlooked. Please refer to this Wikipedia “list of sovereign states and dependent territories in Africa”. Pre-colonial empires and regions are also included.

Reading Goal
5 books.  That’s it.  There will be no other levels.  Of course, participants are encouraged to read more than 5 books.  Eligible books include those which are written by African writers, or take place in Africa, or are concerned with Africans and with historical and contemporary African issues. Note that at least 3 books must be written by African writers.

Why this challenge?
Getting to know Kinna and Amy in 2011 connected me to African lit and showed me the uniqueness of it.  I enjoyed reading it, so of course I want to read more!  Plus, participating in this challenge will hopefully call attention to this whole other world of books that is so frequently ignored in the book blogging world.  Also, reading is how I travel, and I just love visiting Africa through a writer’s eyes.

My (tentative) reading list:

  1. Music and Dance Traditions of Ghana: History, Performance and Teaching by Paschal Yao Younge (current tbr pile) Ghana
  2. Yellow-Yellow by Kaine Agary (current tbr pile) Nigeria
  3. The Chicken Thief by Fiona Leonard (current tbr pile) Ghana
  4. The Rabbi’s Cat 2 by Joann Sfar (current tbr pile) Algeria
  5. His Treasure (Men of Valor) by Kiru Taye (current tbr pile) Nigeria
  6. The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna (wishlist) Sierra Leone
  7. Twenty Chickens for a Saddle: The Story of an African Childhood by Robyn Scott (wishlist) South Africa and Zimbabwe
  8. Death of the Mantis: A Detective Kubu Mystery by Michael Stanley (wishlist) Botswana
  9. Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi (wishlist) Egypt
  10. The African American Odyssey of John Kizell: The Life and Times of a South Carolina Slave Who Returned to Fight the Slave Trade in His African Homeland by Kevin G. Lowther (wishlist) Sierra Leone
  11. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (wishlist) Nigeria
  12. King Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village by Peggielene Bartels (wishlist) Ghana

I’m hoping to read all of these, but obviously the only ones set in stone are the ones I own.  Suggestions, both from my list and not, are welcome!  I’m excited by the new variety this challenge will bring to my blog and also for the camaraderie innate in reading challenges.  It’s gonna be a fun year. 🙂

How to Successfully and Respectfully Pitch Your Book to Book Bloggers

January 5, 2012 12 comments

So!  You’re an author or publisher who has discovered the world of book blogging and says, “Hey! That’s a cool new way to market my book!”  Excellent.  We book bloggers love books and most of us view accepting ARCs as a mutually beneficial experience.  We love books, and trust me, if we love yours we will yak about it ad nauseum.  But!  There are basic guidelines to submitting your book to book bloggers that you really need to follow or you’ll start the relationship off on a bad foot.  Since I’m in the interesting position of being a book blogger and an indie author, I thought I’d put together a convenient set of guidelines for all those authors and publishers out there seeking to develop some book blog based marketing of their book(s).

  1. View marketing your book(s) via book blogs as developing professional relationships.  Book bloggers are people too.  Most of us do this as a hobby due to our love of reading.  We can tell when an author or publisher views us as a tool.  Take some time to get to know us by browsing our blogs, clicking through to our twitter or facebook or flickr, etc…  Friend us on GoodReads or LibraryThing.  Trust me.  I can tell from the pitch email if the author/publisher has taken the time to do this or not.
  2. Read the review polices before submitting and obey them.  Most established book bloggers have a set of review policies somewhere on their site, either under contact information or on a dedicated page.  Take the time to look at and read these.  We post them to make everything smoother for everybody.  For instance, on mine I say I do not accept YA.  You may read this and think, “Oh, but mine isn’t like other YA books, I’ll submit it anyway and tell her that.”  No. Do not do that.  Trust me when I say, I do not like YA.  I avoid it. Yours is not special. You are not a unique snowflake.  And besides, why are you wasting your time submitting to someone who already has an aversion to your genre?  The beauty of book blogs is they let you seek out and find your own niche audiences.  The review policies help with that.
  3. Do not pitch a book to us in the comments unless the blogger specifically states she prefers that.  Most established book bloggers have a blog email or a submission form that they use to sort out the ARC pitches, since we really do get a lot of them.  Comments are for interacting with our own readers, not for you to pitch your book.
  4. Find out our name we go by on our blog and use it in the pitch email.  The only thing more insulting than getting pitched a book that we obviously wouldn’t want if the person had read our review policies is if they start the email by saying “Dear blogger.”  Unless my name on the site is “blogger,” don’t call me that!  Our names are usually pretty obvious if you take five seconds to browse our blogs.  For instance, on mine on the right-hand sidebar there is both a Creative Commons license with my name on it and my twitter handle, which is my name.  If you can’t take the time to address us by name, why should we take the time to read your book?
  5. Do not contact bloggers until you have the final copy that you want reviewed ready to send out.  I encountered this problem multiple times in 2011 when reviewing ARCs.  Either the author would send me a copy then send me another copy months later saying, “Oh, this is the newly edited version” or when I posted my review the author would say, “But it’s different now!”  We agree to review the copy you send us.  That’s it.  It is not our obligation to seek out new edits.  Do not submit a book to us that you are not 100% positive is the absolutely positively best you can do.  I know it’s exciting to have finished the first draft of your book, but editing is your friend.  Nothing puts a reviewer in a worse frame of mind than a book badly in need of editing and no amount of you saying “But it’s different now” will entice us to change your review.  This is viral, indie marketing.  Use it to your advantage and don’t send out ARCs until you are positive it is the best you can offer.
  6. State in your pitch email exactly what format of ARCs you can offer.  This again is a time-saving technique that shows respect for the book blogger.  I personally primarily accept kindle-compatible ebooks, but I hate having to email back to a pitch and ask exactly what format is being offered, especially since I don’t like giving out my mailing address unless it’s for a reason.  It will take you a few seconds to type out a sentence saying what formats you have to offer.  Doing this will generate more positivity between you and the blogger.
  7. Provide the book jacket blurb of the book in the pitch email and do not include praise for your work unless someone super famous has said it.  Really. We just want to know what the book is about.  We do not care how much praise your work has gotten unless one of our own favorite authors has said so.  (For instance, I instantly accept anything Stephen King has praised).  I know that it’s awesome your first book got a lot of praise, and that’s great for you!  But we don’t care.  This again goes back to respecting that the book blogger knows what she likes.  Tell us the genre and give us the blurb and maybe throw in one or two really awesome praises you’ve received, but that’s it. Seriously.
  8. Compare your work (if it’s true and applicable) to other books the reviewer has read and loved.  This shows us that you paid attention to our blog and creates a positive association in our minds between you and a favorite book or author.
  9. Include links in your email signature to your blog, GoodReads/LibraryThing presence, twitter, etc…  Not all bloggers will look at this, but some of us will and sometimes it will lead to an acceptance of an ARC that otherwise might not have been accepted.  It’s smart marketing for you and convenient for the blogger.
  10. Once the blogger accepts an ARC, send the copy immediately and thank them for their time.  If you are mailing a print copy, email them telling them exactly when you put it in the mail and thank them.  If you are sending a coupon code or a file attachment, also be sure to thank them in the email.
  11. When the review goes live, do not disagree with it in public.  This all comes down to being mature.  Everyone gets bad reviews, even the famous authors.  It’s gonna happen if you market your book.  But responding aggressively to a negative review either in the comments or via email just makes you look like a childish jerk. Every time.  Be graceful and thank the blogger for her time.  That’s it.  If your work is good, one or two negative reviews are not going to kill it.  Now, if the blogger got a detail wrong, like a character’s name or who published the book, by all means politely correct her, but do so via email.  You clearly have it, and it shows respect for the blogger by not embarrassing her in public.  Most of us will be grateful to you for pointing out the mistake!
  12. If the blogger liked your book, maintain the rapport and relationship.  I honestly hate it when I love a first book in the series and the author doesn’t offer me ARCs of the rest of them.  You have found a reader who likes you and has an audience to spread that love of your work to.  Why wouldn’t you offer more ARCs to her in the future?  Some of my best professional book blogging relationships are with authors or agents whose first pitch I loved who then proceeded to continue to offer me more books.  I want to like the books I read and review just as much as you want me to.  After one positive experience, why wouldn’t you keep that positive rapport going?

Before I close I just want to give a few examples of the types of pitches and interactions that worked really well on me as a blogger in 2011:

  • “In addition to the obvious wolf connection, judging by what you discuss on your blog, I think you would enjoy it.”
  • ” I would be happy to add you to the list to receive a review copy once they are available.”
  • “It’s great to meet you. I just read your review, and thank you so much for all the kind words.”
  • “Let me know if you’d like to review the sequels. I’ll be happy to send them to you.”
  • “Thanks again for your honest and evenhanded review.” (in response to a negative review)
  • “I’m not ‘technically’ self-pubbed, but the publisher I work with consists of about 3 people on staff and have released a total of 5 books which mine is the only one released by them that isn’t written by people who work there.” (I accidentally said a book was self-pubbed when it was indie pubbed)
  • “Thanks again for reviewing. YOU ROCK MY SOCKS OFF! SERIOUSLY!”

You can see from these samples that all of these authors and publishers treated me like a person, thanked me for my work, and were personable themselves.

I really hope you find the tips helpful in your endeavors to market your books! Viva la reading!

2011 Reading Stats!

December 31, 2011 13 comments

It’s the last day of 2011, so it’s time to compile and post my reading stats!  It’s so fun and interesting to see how my reading progresses and changes over time.  This year was especially interesting, since it was my first year out of school in…um….forever?  Seeing what I read when all of my reading is for fun was fascinating.  Also, this was the first year I owned an ereader, my kindle, which definitely impacted my reading style.  Anyway, onward with the stats!

Last year, I read a grand total of 70 books, and the year before that 52. This year? That number skyrocketed.

Total books read: 107
Average books read per month: 8.9
Month most read: Tie between August and December with 14 (Interestingly, these were the months I mostly read on my kindle. I’ve discovered I read faster on it than in print).
Month least read: Tie between January and April with 6 each (January was my first month out of grad school, so I was burned out.  I honestly don’t know what happened in April).
Longest book read: It by Stephen King with 1,090 pages
Fiction: 89 (83%)
Nonfiction: 17 (16%) (I really expected this to be higher!)
Formats:
–traditional print: 44 (41%)
–ebook: 46 (43%) (ebooks have officially taken over!)
–graphic novel: 11 (10%)
–audiobook: 6 (6%)
Genres:
–scifi: 16 (Winner for the third year running)
–horror: 13
–dystopian: 11
–humorous: 11
–black lit: 10 (Courtesy of getting to know Amy and Kinna and The Real Help project).
–fantasy: 10
–nonfiction memoir: 10
–YA: 10
–thriller: 9
–contemporary fiction: 8 (This came out of nowhere).
–mental illness: 7 (Kind of embarrassing how low this is, given that I host the MIA Reading Challenge, heh).
–mystery: 7
–nonfiction history: 7 (I want this to be higher next year!)
–european classics: 5
–historic fiction: 5
–postapocalyptic: 5
–american classics: 4
–feminist lit: 4
–paranormal romance: 4 (Way down from the previous two years).
–japanese lit: 3
–short-story collection: 3 (A new genre, yay!)
–alternate history: 2
–chinese lit: 2
–erotica: 2
–nonfiction environmentalism: 2
–poetry: 2
–romance: 2
–urban fantasy: 2
–vegetarianism/veganism: 2
–cozy: 1
–cyberpunk: 1
–nonfiction diet: 1
–nonfiction fitness: 1
–nonfiction lifestyle: 1
–steampunk: 1
Vampires vs. Zombies vs. Aliens vs. Demons:
–zombies: 7 (Success! I wanted them to win this year 😉 )
–vampires: 4
–aliens: 3
–demons: 2 (Poor, poor demons).
Numbers of stars:
–5 star reads: 20 (19%)
–4 star reads: 48 (45%)
–3 star reads: 29  (27%)
–2 star reads: 7 (6%)
–1 star reads: 3 (3%)

What I found most fascinating in assembling these stats was that I apparently read much faster on a kindle than in print.  Why is this?  Maybe the screen makes my brain remember its speed-reading lessons from middle school that I did on a screen?  Maybe the lack of physical knowledge of how much is left keeps my enthusiasm up?  I’m not sure.

I’m really pleased to see that my serious reading went up.  Now that I’m out of school, I can read up on the topics that I myself want to know more about, and I did!  I hope that my environmental and veg reading will increase next year.  I also hope to continue to see a strong showing in black lit and an increased showing in Chinese and Japanese lit.

Overall, this was a great reading year.  My first year getting over 100 books!  Stay tuned for my reading goals 2012 post.  Any suggestions?

Secret Santa 2011 #2

December 24, 2011 3 comments

My second secret santa present arrived!!  This one is part of the Book Blogger Holiday Swap.  The lovely lady who sent it to me said in her card that she’d just started following me on twitter when she was assigned to me, but girl! I couldn’t make out your twitter handle!  So please do let me know who you are!  🙂  She individually wrapped everything in gorgeous paper that I, yet again, do not have a picture of because I ripped the package open as soon as I got it, haha. It contained:

3 books and a card

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly–I remember adding this to my wishlist around the time when I read The Birth House.  Basically, a historic 1906 setting with a young, independent woman and a murder mystery.  This is going to be an ideal winter read!

The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston–I find it utterly fascinating that both of my completely unconnected santas got me the same book from off my wishlist!  I take that as a huge sign from the universe to get at this asap and also maybe to host a giveaway of it!

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon–Wow! This is not only from 2011, but also is a complete audiobook and certainly looks brand new. Thank you so much!  The book covers inter-racial relationships and the world of mental hospitals and mental illness, so basically it’s a cross-section of two topics I read a lot about.  I’m very excited to have this to read while working around my apartment, knitting, or running at the gym.

A beautiful card!  Currently hanging on my fridge.

Thanks for making my swap a wonderful experience, and please do out yourself thoughtful twitter follower!