Friday, September 28, 2012

Bloggiesta - Fall 2012


Not gonna lie. I'm sitting here looking at the clock and thinking TWO O'CLOCK?! Scott took Elle with him to visit his sister today so it's just me...with Mumford and Sons on continual play...and I feel like I haven't gotten anything accomplished.

Ok, so here's what I HAVE done:
1. Updated my Reviews by Title.
2. Changed my "About Me" Picture. Note to self to take updated picture
3. Wrote Gone Girl post
4. Started Drafting Henrietta Lacks and 50 Shades posts
5. Created Operation Use My page and added to sidebar
6. Tested out deleting Trish's Reading Nook. I WILL delete October 5th
7. Took Operation Pictures for fondue/trifle/bundt. Just to have in future.
8. Changed the separator on my sidebar so that it's skinnier and tab fonts so they're smaller

I guess that's a lot.

I'm still pretty unhappy with my sidebars but honestly I have no idea what to do with them. Any suggestions?

The rest of the things on my list are pretty yucky. I mean, how often does someone click on an old link and end up at the old blog? Does it really even matter at this point? Maybe I need to turn something more upbeat on besides Mumford and Sons. Maybe I need to get changed and get some coffee. :)


Trying to explain to someone why you need to work on your blog all weekend while a bunch of other bloggers are doing the same thing is tough. Scott had some major head-scratching this morning. But, here we are. It's not too late to join the fun--the Starting Line is over at Danielle's blog and the Mini-Challenges are over at Suey's. I'm feeling a bit sheepish at my old-fashioned/non-tech mini-challenge, but I'd love if you joined me too. wink wink.

Instead of doing a lot of update posts throughout the event, I'll just be updating this one post. Ole! My very colorful list below...

1. Update reviews page
2. Fix big black signature
3. Clean up/Delete drafts
4. Create Operation Kitchen Stuff page
5. Fix old travel picture posts
6. Trish’s Reading Nook links
7. Hawaii Picture Posts
8. Take Operation pictures (fondue/bundt/trifle)
9. Organize email to one page
10. Condense sidebars
11. Test deleting Trish’s Reading Nook
12. Feedblitz?
13. Blogger Survey

1. Language of Flowers
2. 50 Shades of Grey
3. Gone Girl
4. Henrietta Lacks


One thing I'm thinking about tackling this weekend is deleting Trish's Reading Nook. Does anyone have any experience with deleting a blog that they've exported into a new blog? I'm mostly concerned about losing the images that I've uploaded.

And if you have any other things that you'd love to see here on this blog--whether it be layout or content, I'd LOVE to hear your suggestions.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bloggiesta! Blogging Notebook and Calendar Mini-Challenge

Hola mi blogging amigos! This weekend, September 28-30th, is Bloggiesta hosted by Danielle and Suey. What is Bloggiesta? Well, it's a weekend where oodles of bloggers get together for a little blog improvement. For me it's an excuse to do some blogging things without allowing myself for feeling guilty. Yay me.

Hopefully you're here for my Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Blogging Notebook and Calendar.

Let's back up a bit.

I'm addicted to lists. I'm addicted to pens. Particularly colored lists made from colored pens. Somehow I don't think I'm the only one of us who has this addiction. During last Bloggiesta I posted my very colorful to-do list and apparently it was pretty memorable because here I am hosting a mini-challenge!

THE BLOG JOURNAL - Brainstorming at your fingertips
As a blogger who is constantly on the go or not frequently in front of the computer, I hate having a blog idea pop up and then later I can't remember what that idea was. After losing so many ideas that were so great that I knew I'd remember, I realized that I needed to keep a notebook with me so that I could write down my ideas as they came. This is usually at a stoplight. So my notebook is full of lists--my Bloggiesta to-do list (seen above), my Things in 2012 (and 2011). The books I've read this year. Sunday Salon posts. Lists. Lists. Lists. Even my household chore list. It's not a very neat notebook and I have to use lots of flags to find my various hot lists, but I love having my blogging brain with me at all times.

THE BLOG CALENDAR - Staying organized and always a step ahead
I can't believe that I've only started keeping a blog calendar in the past six months but I can tell you it's helped do wonders for my blogging brain. There's just something about printing off a brand new blank calendar each month. Then adding in the posts I know that I'll have for the month. And then filling in some of the holes with wishful posts. As you can see from the picture above, I do change my mind so nothing is set in stone. But being able to see what I have on my plate helps keep me organized and always thinking one step ahead. I also use the blank space on the back of the calendar to keep a wishlist of posts in case the month looks kind of dry.

Ok, this is tough because my assumption is that you don't already have a blogging notebook or calendar. If you do (yay!) then feel free to work through the exercise using what you already have.

Option 1 (Calendar - aka blog organization)
1. Print an October Calendar (I use Microsoft Publisher but I found a free template here and colored here)
2. Jot down your regular blog features or posts you already have planned
3. Next fill in some posts you would like to write. If you don't want to commit to a day, list these in the white space of the calendar (I do this on the back, you can do this on the front so it's visable).
4. If you still have big holes and want to post more, brainstorm a few more ideas and write them down

Option 2 (Notebook - aka blog brainstorming)
1. Find a piece of notebook paper/printer paper/printable online
2. Create a list of at least five posts that you'd love to write. Having trouble getting started? Well, may I suggest a discussion post? A list post? Maybe a meme you've been interested in joining (shameless plug)? A backlog of reviews you need to write?
3. Feeling really ambitious? Plug those five posts into a blog calendar!

Keep the notebook page close by during the rest of Bloggiesta so you can be sure to jot down any other ideas that cross your path. I have a feeling you'll be adding more than just a few post ideas to that list. Maybe other things you need to do for your blog?

I'm giving away the below notebook with three colored pens. It's not a spiral but it is hardcover and durable. Plus you guys, it's just pretty. In order to be eligible for the notebook and pens, you need to sign up for Bloggiesta and complete one or both of the mini-challenges. How do I know you did the mini-challenge? Show me! Either tweet me a picture (@TriniCapini) or blog about your journaling/calendar. Leave the link to your tweet/post in the comments below. I am willing to ship internationally.

In order to be prize eligible, you must complete the mini-challenge and blog/tweet about it by 11:59 pm central time on Sunday. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments. I look forward to seeing your journaling.

If you are already a journaling/organizing extraordinaire, share your tips with us in the comments!

Happy organizing/journaling/bloggiesta-ing!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Icarus Girl - Helen Oyeyemi #Diversiverse

Title: The Icarus Girl
Author: Helen Oyeyemi
Published: 2005 Pages: 335
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

In Short[ish]: Jessamy is an eight-year-old who never seems to quite fit in with one crowd or another, but when she visits her extended family in Nigeria she meets a new friend Titiola. TillyTilly, as Jess calls her, presents a whole new world where someone knows Jessamy better than even her own self. When the new world begins to show cracks, though, it becomes difficult to know what is real and what is not.

Why I read The Icarus Girl: When looking for suggestions for Diverse Universe, Oyeyemi's name popped up a few times. I actually thought about reading White is for Witching but was turned off by the white girl on the cover when I was hoping to read something non-white for the challenge. And let me tell you how tough it was to find a book for the challenge! I took a long list to my Indie bookstore and struck out on all accounts. I did better at the library but not a whole lot.

Thoughts in General: I was immediately intrigued by Jessamy's story. I don't typically read books about children as young as Jessamy is, especially as the focal character in a story, but I could tell that she was different and was going to be presented with depth. But for me the real star of The Icarus Girl is the atmosphere that Oyeyemi sets for the reader. The mood of the novel is dark and dream-like with haunting imagery and a constant unsettling. Even at when I first started reading the book and was questioning whether this was truly a speculative fiction novel, I could feel the atmosphere settle upon me like a blanket.

There are many great things going for this book but there were also some weak points, but after learning that Oyeyemi wrote this novel when she was nineteen, I think that my complaints are really due to the author's youth and inexperience. Is this unfair of me? Nineteen is awfully young. The complaints? Glib where I wanted depth and focus where I wanted periphery (more emotional depth, less schoolyard plot). I also would have loved to know more of the Nigerian folklore that is hinted at in the book as I believe this would have provided a richer understanding of the story. But ultimately it is a vivid book that mostly had my captive attention.

Bottom Line: I don't think that Oyeyemi is an author to miss—or put in a more positive tone, I think that Oyeyemi is a bright young author to keep your eye on. I'll be curious to learn more about her writing and seek out some of her other books. Oyeyemi is a young author and I could feel her greenness in reading The Icarus Girl, but I can also feel her great potential as a weaver of stories. Care asked me several great questions to help prep for this post, but the most difficult question she asked is who would be the most responsive audience for this book. I'd have to say those with an open mind who are looking to in reading a book that will make you question how powerful the psyche can be.

This post is part of the book blogging event A More Diverse Universe where over 100 bloggers have committed to reading a speculative fiction novel by a person of color. As author Hiromi Goto explains "I’m looking for more than just a skin colour and small gestures. I want a full-blown world that’s rich, diverse and multi-layered with stories and histories." Please make sure to check out all of the other participants this week.

Have you read any of Oyeyemi's novels? Are you participating in Aarti's More Diverse Universe?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Elle Right Now. Seventeen.

Look at me being all johnny on the spot. Had to make up for being kind of lame the past five months!

So, today the chickpea is 17 months old. Here's Elle right now...

Elle loves birds. Might be a little obsessed with birds. When she sees a bird (or an airplane) she points and says "bod bod bod bod" over and over.

Has become quite the parrot when it comes to repeating words. This means I have to be careful what I say, especially when they are single syllable exclamations (use your imagination). We are working on her saying chickpea banana, but so far we just have the nana part. This used to be mamana.

Will one minute scream when I lie her down in the bath to rinse her hair and the next minute dunk herself. While still screaming. I sometimes can't tell if the screaming is for fun or in protest. Ours is not a quiet household so I can never be sure.

Has started to request bows for her hair. Same with the birds except it's "bow bow bow bow"

As soon as we go out the back door to leave for somewhere she says "ball ball ball ball ball" because she knows there's a soccer ball and tennis ball in the grass that she loves to play with.

Belly button is behbuh. Baby is baybay. Bye bye is bay bay. Balloon is bao. Now I understand why only parents can understand their own children's babbling. Uppa is both up and down and open. Eat is eat and light.

Notice the love for B words? In the grocery store the other day she was pointing up saying bah bah bah. Turns out there was a cut-out of a sheep on the wall. Yup, a sheep says bahhhh. A cow says moo. Kitty cat says mee. Doggy says ruh. Though she won't do any of these on command. Ohhhhh no!

She doesn't need toys as one of her favorite things to do is take the items from the bottom shelf of the fridge and move them all over the kitchen. She's also fond of pulling out snacks from the pantry and holding them up for me saying "Mo mo mo mo mo" (more). It's especially cute when she does the ASL for "more," which I think in her mind just means "want."

She does have a few toys that she thinks are funny, but mostly she's not interested. She'd rather pour her puff snacks into one bowl, and then move them to another bowl, and then to another, and then back into the container.

Though every day when I pick her up from school she looks around the classroom for something that she can bring and show me. Every day.

No reciprocal hugs or kisses for mommy yet but she'll give me eskimo kisses. She also thinks butterfly kisses are the funniest.

She still sucks her thumb when she gets hold of her blankie but will also occasionally suck her thumb without when she's really tired. It's always strange to me that she doesn't really suck her thumb when she's upset and without her blankie.

Elle will be so proud of something and get the biggest grin and clap her hands together while she says "yay." Not yay as an exclamation but yay as a statement.

Has become quite the picky eater and will love something one day and refuse it the next but then love it again the next go round. It's frustrating and I'm really not sure how to handle when it seems to be mostly mood related. I hate the idea of having to cater to her tastes but also realize that this is probably typical?

Is so silly. And so serious. And doesn't miss a single beat.

Elle is down to one nap a day. This is tricky as she still gets kind of grumpy around 10:30-11ish but we try to stay busy. When on a two nap schedule, though, her first nap was too long and the second not long enough leaving her really grumpy in the evenings. Plus she's been on one nap schedule at school for almost five months!

Toddler radio is a new discover and while Elle never did the bounce dance that so many babies do, she does her own little groove when there's music playing—usually this involves her shaking her arms or bopping her head.

Elle loves to find her belly button, head, and nose. Also mommy's belly button and nose. Finding nose usually involves sticking her little finger up the nose.

Cries whenever daddy leaves the room.

Grabs my hand to walk me to wherever she wants to go or to whatever she wants to show me.

Nestles her little head into the crook of my neck when I hold her. My favorite.

Never ever a dull moment. Never ever. But that's how we like it.

I'm in total denial that next month she'll be eighteen months.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pin It and Do It: A Pinteresting Challenge - October

October is right around the corner which also means the holidays are going to be here soon. If your Pinterest boards are overflowing with goodness to be made, I hope you'll join us for the October edition of Pin It and Do It.

New to the Pin It and Do It Challenge? No problem! The challenge is simple: Make something(s) you pinned on Pinterest. Doesn't matter if you pinned it last year or yesterday--and no one is going to split hairs if you pin something just so you can check it off for the challenge. The only caveat is the item must be completed in October.

If you're foggy on the purpose of Pinterest, I briefly discuss in the Round 1 intro post. Of course if you have questions, ask away! And to give you more of an idea of how you can use Pinterest, check out my Pinterest Boards.

Pin It and Do It: A Pinteresting Challenge

The Details (shamelessly the same as May and August):
1. To participate you will choose your level and then make (or do) that amount of pins during October 2012. Challenge ends October 31st.
2. Report back on your Pin It and Do It success. On October 1st I'll post a linky for you to link up. Ideally this will come in the form of a blog or tumblr post. Or you can post about it on Facebook or Flickr if you don’t have a blog or tumblr. Or create a board on Pinterest for this challenge. If none of the above, report your success in the Wrap-Up Post comments.
3. Anyone is welcome to join. If you need an invite to Pinterest, let me know your email address and I’ll send an invite.

The Levels:
Timid Pinner: 1-3 Pins
Pinterested: 4-7 Pins
Pin Obsessed: 8+ Pins

Some Pinterest Etiquette and Courtesies:
--If you create a pin from a post, make sure you are pinning the true URL of the post and not the main website so folks can easily find the link again.
--When you create a pin, try to include the website in the description of the pin.
--Do not include the entire recipe or instructions in the pin description.
--If you embed a pinned picture on your own blog, make it clear that it is not your original picture--a link back to the original blog post is always appreciated.

And other little tidbits...this does not have to be a food or crafting challenge. Saw an interesting photography lesson? Click! An outfit you'd love to put together? Yup! Organizing idea for around the house? Go for it! A workout Regiment? Kick butt! Really this challenge is endless--you just need to tell us what you pinned and what you did. Make sure to note the original pin wherever you complete your wrapup (or if you do progress reports) to give the originator credit and make the pin easy for others to find.

Sound like fun? Totally stress-free y'all.

Sign up below and I hope you'll help me spread the word. I'll be using #PinitDoit on twitter.  

Starting lines goes up on October 1st but feel free to get an early start if you can't wait.

Hurrah!! Happy Pinning...and Doing!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Awkward Family Photo

{if this doesn't make you laugh a little then we can't be friends. obviously this isn't what we intended for the family photo. sadly this is the best we got.}

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dueling Monsters is Back!

I'm going to let Ms. Fizzy Jill's button speak for itself. It's fantastic isn't it? I think she made this clay men by herself!

Oh ok, I'll add just a few words.

For the fourth edition of Dueling Monsters (brain child of Heather and Jill), we decided to pit Hannibal Lecter of...well...Hannibal Lecter fame against Patrick Bateman of American Psycho fame in the wrestling ring. This is the type of readalong where you pick a side (Red Dragon by Thomas Harris or American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis) and we determine who is the greatest monster (or psycho) of them all. If you're feeling especially brave, read them both and truly be able to decide. Either way it'll be a bashing duel you won't want to miss.

This year the duel will be hosted on The Estella Society blog and I'll be your Hannibal Lecter ring leader while Jill will be trying to manhandle Patrick Batemen. Ya--I can't decide who you should feel more sorry for either.

So, join us??? It'll be rollicking fun. See all the details and sign up on The Estella Society and follow the madness on twitter with #monstermash.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

#Italong halfway. Or, I'm scared of the dark

This post is my halfway check-in for Fizzy Jill and Princess Clown Nose Christina's readalong (or italong) of IT by Stephen King. 

First of all, let's clear something up. I am not wearing the close nose in the pictures below just for funsies. Though we have established that I might be a little bit insane. No no no...these pictures are part of the #italong propaganda. I'm not the only one with a nose! Just had to clear that up since there was a bit of confusion.

And now my very random thoughts on the book thus far. I'll do a full review when I finish in a month or so.

1. This book is scaring the bejeesus out of me. From the opening scene where Georgie is walking down the stairs to his basement just waiting for get him. Yup. I've decided that it's just way too scary to go running in the morning before the sun comes up. I also cannot read the book after the sun goes down as I've had a few small nightmares (which I'm prone to anyway so no shocks there).

2. The audiobook, narrated by Steven Weber (of Wings fame), is FANTASTIC. Seriously. It's maybe the best audiobook I've ever listened to. Ever.  It's even on sale for $5 right now at audible (for members). I could write a whole post just raving about the audio portion of the #italong. It's intense and scary and passionate. Even when I do have time to read I usually wish I were listening instead.

3. I much preferred when the kids were younger rather than when they were older. And the scary when they were younger felt more real--more haunting. The scary as adults is more horror, in your face, gross, yuck. Although the real horrors seem to be Tom Rogan and Henry Bowers. Double Shudder.

4. How the heck does this Mike Hanlon fit into the picture? I know he's the same age as the other folks but I just can't seem to trust him as he wasn't hanging out at the dam with the other kids ore helping Bev clean up the bathroom. And could his interludes be any more boring?

5. I'm SHOCKED at how much I'm enjoying this book. I have to admit that I even like it better than I liked The Stand. Even though this one is scary as all get out, it's good. King is a windbag (or long winded) but boy can he paint a scene and bring it to life. I could do without the moments of horror but on the other hand I kind of wait for them as well. Such a weird feeling for me!

6. The Turtle. WTF.

A quote:  "No, they were not real. TV monsters and movie monsters and comic book monsters were not real. Not until you went to bed and couldn't sleep; not until the last four pieces of candy, wrapped in tissue and keep under your pillow against the evils f the night, were gobbled up; not until the bed itself turned into a lake of rancid dreams and the wind screamed outside and you were afraid to look at the window because there might be a face there, an ancient grinning face that had not rotted but simply dried into dark sockets; not until you saw one ripped and clawlike hand holding out a bunch of balloons: See the sights, have a balloon, feed the elephants, ride the Chute-the-Chutes!" (207)  

"We all float down here."

Have you read IT? We still have a month until we're slated to finish so it's definitely not too late to join the fun!!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Operation Ice Cream Maker

I think I might have gotten a little carried away with Operation Use My Ice Cream Maker. Not because it was so successful but because at first it was quite the struggle. The first couple of ice cream recipes I tried didn’t work out the way I would have liked and it took about five attempts before I found something that knocked my socks off. And now that my socks are knocked off I want to keep going and going. But, I’ve got to end the challenge somewhere!

Some things that I learned the past two months about making homemade ice cream:
  • Freezer temperatures are colder than the ideal temperature to freeze ice cream which means that homemade ice cream becomes rock hard in the freezer. Luckily setting the ice cream out before serving (or popping in microwave for a few—or 30—seconds helps soften).
  • One must exhibit patience when making ice cream as the process is long. As in plan on 24 hours long. Freeze the maker. Make the custard. Let the custard cool to room temperature. Let the custard cool in fridge to mixing temperature. Process. Freeze. Then…enjoy.
  • Making custard really isn’t as difficult as I thought it was. Must work slowly though!
  • I prefer the ice creams that have a custard base. Although the yogurt based ice creams were delicious, too! The ice creams without dairy were too icy for my taste.
  • The amounts yielded were not enough. Or too much. Not enough to share at work (sorry coworkers), but too much to be at home and remain dangerous.

My Ice Cream Maker: Cuisinart Pure Indulgence 2 Qt.

The Recipe Sources: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz; Recipe of the Week: Ice Cream by Sally Sampson (these are indiebound affiliate links)

The Flavors: (top to bottom, left to right)
1. Orange Pineapple Coconut Sorbet - orange juice, pineapple juice, and coconut milk. Unfortunately needed a bit more sugar/sweetener.
2. Brownie, Coconut, Chocolate Chip, Marshmallow. Yes, it was that good.
3. Chocolate Sorbet. Tasted like frozen chocolate syrup. No, not good.
4. Blueberry Frozen Yogurt. Yogurt, blueberries, and sugar. Yum!
5. Rhubarberry Ice Cream - Tangy!
6. Sweet Cream - Tasted like frozen whipped cream. Wasn't my favorite
7. French Vanilla. ZOMG.
8. Vanilla Frozen Yogurt (picture below)

Vanilla Frozen Yogurt (from The Perfect Scoop)

3 cups plain yogurt (I used whole milk)
1 cup sugar (next time I'll use a little less)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all three ingredients and chill for an hour. Process in ice cream maker according to directions. Enjoy. Tangy and refreshing and yum yum yum.

Where do I go from here?

There was so much more I wanted to do for this challenge. I wanted to make sorbet, granita, and sherbet. I wanted to make an adult beverage. I wanted to make ice cream sandwiches. I also wanted to try to make ice cream without my ice cream maker to give you kiddos tips on how well that worked but then I decided that defeated the purpose of Operation Ice Cream Maker. I did find this post about making ice cream without a maker that you should check out. I might try it for October’s #PinItDoIt.

But in the end, even though I feel like this challenge wasn’t as awesome as I hoped it would be, I’m still calling it a success because I learned the basics of making custard and thus the base to really yummy ice creams. Ice creams that Scott raved about. And he doesn’t rave. So, win for me.  And guess who else used her Ice Cream Maker this past month? Hop on over to Christine of The Happily Ever After as she shares her ice cream making adventures.

Giveaway: one would sponsor an Ice Cream Maker Giveaway (hello universe, not too late!), but I did pick up an extra copy of Recipe of the Week: Ice Cream and would love to pass it on to someone else. The book contains 52 recipes and while some of the ones I tried didn't work out, many of them did and there are so many more I'm dying to try including Triple Coconut, Burned Caramel Gelato, Lemon Vanilla with Raspberry Sauce, and many more. If you're interested, please let me know in the comments by providing your email address and your dream ice cream flavor.

What's next?!  I have fondue maker, bundt pan, and trifle left on my to do list for the year. And...BUNDT PAN is the winner! I'd love to hear if you have any favorite bundt pan recipes, especially if they are non-cakey.

Happy cooking!!

Every weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking.  "Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs."  Hope you'll join the fun!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Where in the World Are You..Waiting?!

Taking a brief interlude from BBAW today to talk about Where in the World I Read...While I Wait! This month Lisa is hosting the September #WWRead (it's ok that I'm the only one using this hashtag, I swear...I know it doesn't make sense but I wanted to keep it short), and she's just in time for back to school where moms seem to do a lot of waiting for kiddos. I don't have a school-aged kiddo so that's out for me. I did however have several appointments in August that required waiting. And then the rest I just kind of stretched my imagination.

So where do I read while I'm waiting?

 Dentist's Office...

Hospital (Real Simple Mag)

More Medical Waiting

I also read in bed while waiting to fall asleep

Or in the car while waiting to get to work

 And on the bike while waiting to get skinny

I try reading to the babe while waiting but she wasn't interested...

I couldn't take great pictures of these because they involved audiobooks but I also listen to audiobooks while I'm waiting for my house to clean itself, while waiting for dinner to cook itself, and sometimes while waiting for my quilt to finish itself.

Do you read while you're waiting? Don't forget to hop over to Lisa's to see some of the other posts and hopefully to leave your own as well!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

BBAW 2012: On Book Blogging

[Book Blogger Appreciation Week or BBAW is the brainchild of My Friend Amy. This year marks the fifth year of the event. This week is all about showering book bloggers with appreciation--it's a blogging event I always look forward to each year.]

Wednesday: Thoughts on Book Blogging

I've been thinking about this topic of what book blogging means to me ever since Amy posted the discussion points. It's complicated because most days I don’t think of myself of a book blogger and I’ve even gone as far as to denounce the title, but deep down I still think of myself as part of the book blogging community and know that others see me as part of that community.

But sometimes this book blogging community feels fractured or even divided, especially as some choose to go a more professional route with blogging and others a more hobby route. And neither one is better than the other, but I sometimes fail to validate myself as a [book] blogger because I don’t fall into that category of “book reviewer.” The bottom line is that there is room for everyone and there is room for us to all blog as we please. And it should be that way, don’t you think? Throw out the rules and do as we please. *throws confetti in the air!* (confession—it has taken me five and a half years of blogging to mostly feel comfortable doing whatever the hell I want).

Over the past couple of weeks, a few bloggers have approached me to ask what makes a successful blog and what makes someone want to return. Funny that they should ask me and not some of the powerhouse book bloggers, but there I go discrediting myself again for no good reason. I’m hoping in the comments below you’ll share with us what makes a stand-out blog is a must read, but here are my tips on how to keep folks coming back for more.

Tips on how to be an awesomesauce blogger:

1. Review books. Or don’t. You could probably just get away with talking about books. Sometimes.

2. Ramble. A lot. People seem to like rambling. Bonus if you can sometimes ramble about books.

3. Blog personally. Not like personal information but…you know…blog from within.

4. Connect with others. Note that this takes time and work but is worth the effort.

5. Don’t skimp on the exclamation points. ! In other words, be passionate.

Ok, so maybe this advice won’t yield you with the most professional blog and I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have publicists banging down my door (nor do I seek them out) or books piled up on my front porch when I return from work. But from my perspective, book blogging is all about finding a community to discuss books. To me this comes in the form of readalongs or other group reads, Sunday Salon type posts that generate and foster discussion, memes and events that bring together like-minded folks, and just plain fun.

I think it’s exciting that so many have been offered some great opportunities in the way of book blogging. But I will always think of book blogging as a community of folks who have come together to share the passion of the written word. My excitement comes from seeing your excitement. I’m sure that at least one or two of you (or most of you) don’t have many people in your lives who understand your extreme obsession with books, and I love that we have created a world that we can all share.

Too often I see bloggers getting burned out because of the pressures of blogging. I’ve been there and I still go there, but my challenge to you is to let go of some of that stress and guilt and pressure. There are enough of us who are here for the fun of it that there is certainly room for more to join the party. And I do think there’s room for both—for professionalism and for personalization—but what makes this place so special are the connections we make with one another.

And we need more of this, don't you think:

So what do you think? What are the characteristics of a blog that you keep coming back to? How do you feel that community fits into book blogging?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

BBAW: Getting to know Lisa's World of Books

[Book Blogger Appreciation Week or BBAW is the brainchild of My Friend Amy. This year marks the fifth year of the event. This week is all about showering book bloggers with appreciation--it's a blogging event I always look forward to each year.]

Tuesday: Interview Swap. My partner this year is Lisa's World of Books.

1. How long have you been blogging and why did you start a book blog?

I have blogging since November 2010, so closing in on two years. I was looking around the internet one day and ran across a book blog, which I never knew existed. It sounded like it was right up my alley, I have always loved reading and talking about books so I decided to just go for it and feel in love with it.

2. What do you want readers to know most about Lisa's World of Books?

This is a really tough question, great one Trish. Lisa’s World of Books is a diverse book blog. I started it with just myself reviewing books, but before long my husband started reviewing his books as well. He does not always review, however it gives us some diversity. My two boys, ages 10 and 11, also review on occasion. I think that it makes it different and interesting. I hope my readers don’t mind. You are always welcome to leave me comments.

3. What has been your greatest blogging triumph?

I think my biggest blogging triumph was moving my blog from Blogger to self-hosted Wordpress blog. Not an easy process at all and getting it all done and not losing anything was huge. Second to that, I would be getting 1,000 followers. I never thought I would have 100 followers so when I hit 1,000 it was a really big deal. Thank you to everyone who follows, it makes my day to hear from you.

4. What advice do you have for bloggers?

Be yourself, you do not have to be like everyone else. Also, remember that this is hobby so if you miss a meme or don’t feel like posting today, it is okay. Don’t lose the fun of it!

And Some Word Associations.
1. Literary crush: Jamie Frasier (Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon)
2. A book blog you read every day: Pages of Forbidden Love
3. If you could only read one more book: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
4. The book everyone must read: The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

So glad to have met Lisa this year through BBAW and I hope that you'll pop by her blog and say hi! Also see her questions and my answers here.

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