Cheater!

Last month, when I participated in Bloggiesta, I had a couple of comments from people wondering about my task to update my cheat sheet.

“Cheat sheet?” they said. “What the heck is that, and where can I get one?”

Fear not, dear friends. I am happy to pass along the wisdom that has helped me out immensely. (Click any of the photos to enlarge them for a closer look.)

When I joined my first Bloggiesta in 2011, I was very new to blogging. I did tons of the mini-challenges, hopped around, and soaked up some really valuable advice. One of the links I stumbled across was for a mini-challenge on creating a cheat sheet. At this point my memory fails as to whether this was the original post I found, but There’s A Book has a great post on how to make a cheat sheet. She even has a mock-up you can use for reference!

There’s no need for me to recap all of her terrific explanations, but essentially the cheat sheet is an easily accessible document you create to store links, codes, and other info you want to keep handy while blogging. I have mine stored in a Google Doc, and it has html codes I copied from how-to posts on other blogs, a list of my page links and social media links for quick copying, and sidebar/design codes that I know look nice on my blog. Since I always compose my posts in HTML view, having these codes handy is a big time saver.

The sheet keeps me from having to reinvent the wheel every time I want to do some editing. Although my primary default these days is to just copy from old posts and sidebars, I’m trying to train myself to get in the habit of using the cheat sheet so I’m not constantly mucking around in my blog. It’s also nice to know I’ve got most of the codes I need in a separate place from my blog, in case something happens and it goes down.

So there you have it. I’m a cheater. Maybe now you can be one too.

Do you already use a cheat sheet? Do you find it helpful?

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Bloggiesta II Wrap Up

Founded by Maw Books Blog, Bloggiesta is a three day marathon of blog prep and catch-up work. This year it was run by It’s All About Books and There’s a Book. Thank you for another great year!

Here’s my (partially) completed list:

  • Update review and other templates
  • Create new feature/meme buttons – Not imperative, but it was a good thought
  • Update review and challenge pages – Still need to update my challenge page
  • Update Goodreads
  • Add name attribution jumps to review pages – Thank you Small Review!
  • Catch up on outstanding reviews
  • Do WordPress switch research – Did get some great links!
  • Practice/learn CSS/HTML coding – Does doing my name attribution jump pages count?
  • Participate in mini-challenges – Major fail here!
  • Update policies Didn’t really need doing after all
  • Prep event posts already scheduled – Still needs urgent attention
  • Update cheat sheet
  • Write guest posts – Still needs urgent attention

I ended up spending all day Saturday relaxing and catching up on my massive comic book pile. They needed some TLC with regard to organization and I feel like a weight has been lifted now that I gave that project some attention. It did mean, however, that I didn’t get to my Bloggiesta tasks until this afternoon. The limited time frame meant some major tasks did not get tackled, but a lot of the general clean-up stuff got taken care of and that’s good news.

I consider this a successful year, despite the fact that I didn’t get through some of the bigger items on the list. I’m just happy I have some reviews scheduled, my pages are looking more organized, and I feel a bit more caught up.

How did you do?

Busting the Newbie Blues 2012

I am so happy to participate again in Small Review’s amazing book blogging event: Busting the Newbie Blues! Last year I stumbled across Small’s blog and this event and every single one of my fellow participants were added to my Google Reader. At the time, I was still firmly entrenched in the WordPress camp (and may be on my way back there, but that’s a story for a different day), so my entry link goes to a page that now has a different permalink. You can read my responses as a brand new blogger HERE.

But now, on to this year’s older, wiser answers (snort):

When did you start your blog?

December 3, 2010. I can’t believe it’s been over a year already!

Do you ever still feel like a newbie?

Only all the freaking time! I don’t think any of us will ever feel like we’ve finally figured out all of the answers. As soon as we think we learn how to get ARCs or the best way to format our blogs, something changes on us and we’re back at square one. Whether it’s moving to ebooks for ARC requests, or losing GFC, technology has a huge impact on the blog world. I find that most of the times I’m feeling like a newbie are because I haven’t quite figured out how to use tech stuff to my advantage.

What has been the biggest challenge youâ??ve faced so far? Did you make any mistakes new bloggers can learn from?

Time management has been key. I tried writing reviews for every single book I read last year, and this pressure on top of the volume of books read really got to me. I kept up pretty well until the end of the year, when it all got to be too much and I had to take a giant leap back and recharge my batteries. Burnout will sneak up on you awfully hard unless you take the time to get organized and figure out how to keep the pressure off.

I think the biggest mistake I made was letting my lust for new releases get the best of me. I signed up for three or four different ARC tour sites, which led to a large influx of new books to read (that I really wanted to read!), but on a schedule over which I had no control. Books would just show up and I had to drop everything and read them RIGHT THEN, which eventually got to be too much. I now try to keep my requests under control, and think long and hard about how much I want to read a book ahead of time versus just waiting to see what other bloggers think before making my choice to read a book. I’ve found that a lot of times I’m just fine waiting and I don’t need to read so many books as ARCs.

What did you find most discouraging about being a new blogger? How did you deal with this?

Not getting comments is always discouraging, no matter how long you’ve been in the game, but it can be particularly frustrating as a newbie. I always felt like I was an outsider trying to get into something that people had been doing for years and I’d never be able to carve my own niche or audience. The nice thing about Small’s event is that it gave me a group of bloggers to mesh with that were on equal footing. I liked being around fellow newbies so we could share tips as we went along.

What do you find most encouraging?

My fellow bloggers! Just when you think no one is listening to what you have to say, someone will pop over and leave a comment that’s just what you need to hear. This community is so supportive and fun and full of people who really love books. I wouldn’t still be doing this if it weren’t for the awesome friends I’ve made.

If you could go back in time and speak with your newbie self, what five bits of wisdom would you tell yourself?

1) When people don’t respond to your comments, it’s not because they don’t like you. They just don’t have time. Someday soon, you’ll understand this.

2) Custom blog designs are worth the expense.

3) One meaningful follower is worth a hundred non-participating ones. Build those relationships!

4) Buy at least one new bookshelf. You’re going to be getting a lot more books now.

5) Practice those HTML/CSS skills. Posting is a lot more fun the more creative you can be.

What do you like best about the blogs you read? Have you tried to replicate this in your blog?

I like blogs with interesting features and content. Don’t get me wrong – I love memes. They’re great for sharing quick bits of info with lots of others, and I rely on them for book recommendations. But the blogs I love reading are the ones that have unique viewpoints or entertaining thoughts about books and publishing. I’m not always the greatest at this, but I do try, and one of my goals for this year is to do more of it with more regular Writing Wednesday and discussion posts.

What do you dislike about blogs youâ??ve seen? Do you try to avoid this?

Short, one paragraph reviews rarely give me enough information and come across at times like they were written by someone who didn’t care. When I started reviewing, my posts were only a couple of paragraphs broken out among my various “impressions” and now my overall impressions are a few paragraphs in that category alone. I’ve learned the value of well thought out reviews and that as a reader I want more than just a brief overview. A review is personal, yes, but it should also communicate something about the book to the audience. Otherwise, why write and publish it on a blog?

How did you bring your blog to the attention of so many people?

Networking through memes, mostly. Follow Friday is a great way to meet new people, and giveaway hops will draw a lot of new viewers to your blog, too. I don’t ever make following a requirement for my giveaways, and you’d be surprised how many people will follow anyway. Try to do guest posts and events with high traffic blog and commenting always helps. I make a point to visit the blog of anyone who comments (even if it takes me a while to do so *gulp*), and I’m sure others do the same.

When and how did you get your first ARC (or first few ARCs)?

I’m pretty sure it was through NetGalley, which is the greatest thing ever. I love it, and the variety of books available on that site has kept me from needing to request paper copies. My first paper ARCs came from Shelf Awareness requests (click on the ads in the daily newsletter), and tour sites are other biggies for me. I was never crazy about needing ARCs, though. I really wanted them at first because I thought it was a status thing, but now I’m content filling my bookshelves with books I want to read rather than with books I need to review.


Thank you Small Review for hosting this fabulous event again this year! I can’t wait to check out the other answers. If you’d like to get involved, or want to check out other folks’ responses, Small has a post explaining it all.

Blech

I have to apologize to you, dear readers. I have been kind of a bum blogger lately.

Sure, the posts are up (because I wrote them all in a flurry weeks ago) and sure, I’ve been keeping up with the steady flow of books flooding my life (I may have gone overboard with the ARC tours), but my online presence has been practically nil. I scan Twitter maybe once a day, haven’t opened Google Reader in weeks, and am largely ignoring my inbox.

I am in a funk.

Work has been stressful, life has been stressful, and I keep getting sick. I haven’t written or attempted to write anything in months, despite the ideas flitting around my head. It has not been sparkly rainbows and magical unicorns in my neck of the woods.

You probably noticed that I stopped commenting weeks ago. I promise it is not you. It’s me. And I’m hoping that by airing my feelings here that maybe I can turn a corner.

Does this happen to you? Do you reach a point when you start questioning how much of your life is getting eaten up by your blog? How do you fix it?

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been reading some incredible books. Books and reviews are not the problem. But I don’t want this blog to be just reviews, or reviews and memes. I want this to have real, proactive content, but the time commitment makes it all seem so overwhelming. I need something to get my creative juices flowing, but that doesn’t require me to give up half my week. That half needs to be reserved for exercise.

I’m going to keep thinking about this, and will be making my way around the blogosphere to say “hi” soon. I miss you. I apologize for being an absentee bloggy friend. I thank you if you’ve made it this far and still care about what I have to say. To make it up to you, tomorrow I’m going to be putting together a giveaway.

Until then, you’ll have to make do with a Paint.


Amazingly beautiful and painstakingly crafted signature courtesy of Small Review

TBR 911!

Dude.

After 7 months of blogging, I finally reached meltdown mode with the pile of books taking over my living room. What once used to be a few precious winnings, gradually became boxes and piles of books won, gifted, bought (damn you Borders closing sales! *shakes fist*), or received for review. I began to fear for my sanity, as well as my marriage.

Bless his heart, the hubs hasn’t mentioned the three piles of books sitting on the floor. Or the pile on the shelf. Or the mail that brings bookish things with increasing regularity. I just had a feeling it was coming.

The talk.

“Listen, honey. I know you love blogging and all, but I thought the Kindle was supposed to reduce the number of books we had laying around.”

In an effort to avoid that little conversation starter, I went on a frenzy this weekend. I organized the books into a “keep” pile and a “don’t need to keep” pile. The “keep” books went on a special shelf in the living room to be gazed at adoringly.

And, erm…the “don’t need to keep” pile? It’s, um, *whispers* it’s still on the floor.

When all was said and done, I counted 67 books that I have acquired over the last seven months. It easily needs its own bookshelf. The pile is cuh-razy. And it doesn’t even include ebooks! I did buy a Kindle to avoid massive piles of books. Blogging has changed that.

Now I crave real books. I want to look at the covers and feel the pages. The only problem is that it takes me forever to read them because I only take my Kindle on my commute, and that’s when I get the most reading done. What’s a girl to do?

I feel a little bit better now that it’s organized, but it still feels overwhelming. I thought about putting myself on a book buying ban, but I know I wouldn’t follow it, so what’s the point? I’m not sure the best way to handle this going forward. Stay organized? Buy a new blogging-only bookcase? Never enter another contest again? (HA!)

Do you have unmanageable book/review piles? How do you handle them? Hit me with your best advice, because I need it!


Amazingly beautiful and painstakingly crafted signature courtesy of Small Review

Graduation filler

YOU GUYS.

I’m done. Well, technically I’m not done yet since I’m writing this on Wednesday, but by TOMORROW, when this mo-fo POSTS, I’ll be DONE.

I’m so emphatically done that I can’t stop overusing CAPITALS.

What am I done with? My capstone project. Grad school. Done, done, donezo. I turned in my final product last night, and barring any problems, I will be officially graduated by next week. Commencement is this Sunday, and I have lots of cleaning to do and family to spend time with, so bear with me just a little bit longer as I stay a bit removed from the blogosphere.

I’m really looking forward to the end of school, the start of summer, and the renewed vigor with which I will attack commenting. I’m all sighs of relief over here and am happy to have tons of free time open for more reading and writing from now on.

Wheee!

And now I use my special Small Review painted wand to wish magical sparkles upon you all.

Book Bloggers and Publishers Online Conference

Book Bloggers & Publishers Online Conference

Today is the beginning of the Book Bloggers and Publishers Online Conference. It’s a five day conference of live online chats covering almost everything you’ve ever wanted to know about book blogging or publishing. The sessions include an audio and chat component, and they are all recorded. If you want to attend live, you can call in with questions for the panel. If you can’t attend live, you can access the recordings of the sessions for 60 days after the conference.

Last night there was a brief opening test session, and there were about 30 of us listening and chatting. I saw some old faces and met some new ones. I’m really excited to see how this conference turns out, and am sure I’m going to learn a lot and make some new bloggy friends.

The conference takes place at a private ning site, and after you register you’re given a link to complete your registration. The forums are already up and running, and there are places to link your blog or individual reviews for critique, as well as discussions about design, publicity, giveaways, genres, and many more.

Registration is still open! The cost is $45 for the conference, and all participants will receive free books generously provided by participating publishers. You send a list of the titles you want to the organizers, they tell you the cost for shipping and you get free books! Easy peasy. There’s also a large selection of ebooks if you don’t want to deal with shipping costs.

Are any of you attending? If so, I’ll see you there. If not, come join us! I think it will be well worth it.

One Lovely Blog Award and Weekly Recap

I’ve been given the One Lovely Blog award by my friend Tabitha! It means a lot coming from her. She’s a superwoman who runs THREE blogs, including the incredible book and writing resource Writer Musings, plus she’s a mom to two kids and an agented writer working on several manuscripts and…I could go on and on. But seriously. Super. Woman.

Thank you Tabitha!

Here are the rules for this award:

  • Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and their blog link.
  • Pass the award on to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
  • Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
  • In honor of Follow Friday and the Book Blogger Hop, here are some of my favorite blogs, and I hope you’ll check them out:

    bibliophile brouhaha
    Books Devoured
    The Lovely Getaway
    Ruby’s Reads
    Small Review
    The Unread Reader
    My Precious
    Gone with the Words
    Paranormal Indulgence
    girl loves books
    Truly Bookish
    aleeza reads and writes
    My Bookish Ways
    Preternatural Primer
    Recovering Potter Addict
    Bloggers, no pressure to pass on the award. I just wanted to spread some love!


    My weekly recap is inspired by the phenomenally talented, kind and generous Small Review. If you are not already following her, you are really missing out.

    If you’re a first time visitor, or just didn’t get the chance to stop by this week, here’s what you missed:

    Features and Memes
    Silly Sunday – Medieval Times
    I love dinner theater. And Paints.

    Writing Wednesday – The language of Teen Text
    I discussed my aversion to teen text shorthand.

    Challenges
    I joined five more challenges. Because I am insane.
    Also, I announced a winner of my giveaway.

    Reviews
    Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz
    4/5 stars
    YA Series Challenge

    Memento Nora by Angie Smibert
    Review and Interview with Angie Smibert
    4/5 stars
    I Read Banned Books ARC Tour
    2011 Debut Author Challenge

    Writing Wednesday (9) – Blogging Personality

    Writing Wednesday 2

    Grab the button and join in:
    <a border=”0″ href=”http://www.loganeturner.com&#8221; target=”_blank”><img src=”http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5127/5325592547_64be446882.jpg&#8221; /></a>
    Welcome to Writing Wednesday, my weekly feature where I discuss my works in progress, project ideas, editing struggles, or anything else related to the world of writing. Feel free to grab my button and post your own thoughts on writing! Leave a link to your post in the comments and I’ll stop by.


    Lately I’ve felt like there wasn’t a whole lot of “me” shining through on this blog. It’s a bit of a balancing act, isn’t it? On the one hand I don’t want to blather on about myself when you came here to read about books or writing or whatever silly thing I feel like bringing up on Sundays. On the other hand, it is so boring to read dry reviews, bare-bones posts, and frivolous content, which is where I fear I’m headed.

    I didn’t start a blog to exorcise my personal demons, pouring my every thought into the blogosphere. I didn’t think this would be an exercise in cold banality either. Yet still I struggle to find the happy medium. Some days I go on frenetic commenting sprees where I leave witty remarks and dazzle myself with my own brilliance. (Shh, just go with it.) Those are the times when I wonder, Why can’t I write posts like that?

    It’s so much easier to engage in repartee than to just mouth off to potential silence. Blogging sure has a way of feeling like that sometimes. What if no one visits today? What if no one comments? There’s nothing worse than feeling like you are talking and nobody’s listening.

    That universal writing fear can strike all of us, whether we are bloggers, authors, or scholars. That thought can paralyze us and keep us from achieving our dreams. When we do connect with readers, via comments, letters, or conversations at conferences, it validates the feeling that we have something worth saying. Not only that, but we say it in a way that someone likes. How awesome is that?

    I want to share myself with all of you so that we can make that personal connection. I’m not sure I’m accomplishing that here just yet. I want my voice to shine through so you can decide whether you think I’m kind, funny, interesting, and most importantly – readable. I’m contemplating participating in fewer memes, or at least less frequently, so I can open up my schedule for less rigid posts.

    What do you think? Want more of me, or should I keep on keepin’ on?

    Why do you read the bloggers you do? What do you expect of them?