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    Random Thoughts: On Fiktshun’s Upcoming 6th Blogoversary

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    In a couple days my blog will turn SIX. I can hardly believe it, though maybe that’s because I’ve been somewhat absent this past year. Between a difficult move, injury, illness, family crises and losses, it hasn’t been much of a bookish year.

    As much as I’ve wanted to escape into the worlds of books and book blogging I’ve had to be present and in the moment. Though in some of my darkest hours I have had some wonderful books to offer me the most lovely of distractions. And for that I will forever be grateful.

    I wish that I could say things will be different in the year ahead, but I still have some family concerns that must take priority. So I’m just not certain.

    But I hope to be more present. I hope to read more books. I hope to review more of the books I do read. And I hope to make more bookish friends.

    In the six years since I joined the book blogosphere things have changed so much. A few of the bloggers I’ve known about since those earlier days are still active bloggers whose blogs I enjoy. A few of those bloggers have become published authors – yay, I’m so excited for them! Several of those bloggers have left blogging behind but still remain a part of the community – book lovers forever! Though, sadly, many of the bloggers I’d “met” along the way have moved on altogether and I just hope they’re still as passionate about reading the books they love as they were when they decided to share their thoughts online.

    It’s been tough to keep up with all the new additions to the community on social media as of interest tweets and posts get buried by things like drama, politics and ads. And with new algorithms in place, it’s not always easy to find the posts I actually want to see. I wish there was an easy way to discover new blogs with similar bookish interests to my own – though I secretly wish people would just start up a convo about books as I’m still too shy to join in.

    If it weren’t for Jaime of Two Chicks on Books I might just have disappeared altogether. But she has kept me in the loop with some of the goings-on, she has invited me on books tours of some of my favorite authors, and she has alerted me to some of the latest “must read” books.

    She has also been a really great friend and listener, even if I haven’t been a very good one at all.

    In the past year of blogging I’ve probably read only about 75 books. In the year ahead I hope to get that number over 100 again. I’ve only posted on the blog about 100 times this past year. I hope to up that number, too.

    I also hope to figure out instagram – or at least learn to take nice pictures of my books – as my posts look so very, very sad in comparison to my favorite bookish instagram account – Bridget from Dark Faerie Tales – whose pics are so very amazing and make me very jealous of every book she owns even if I might have the very same books.

    Fiktshun may not have the most updated blogging technology driving it. It may seem simple and sparse in comparison to some of the more elaborate and interactive blogs out there. But I am still madly in love with the design that Rachel of Parajunkee Designs labored over for weeks. It still makes me happy just knowing I have this little spot on the web to ramble about books when I have the time.

    When I started blogging six years ago I could quickly name every single writer out there who wrote books I love. Now there are so many incredible authors whose books I love or whose books I just know I will love. This has been one of the best parts of being a part of the book blogging community – seeing how much talent there is out there, how many possible stories there are to read, how many characters there are to meet and fall in love with.

    Of course, sadly, there are the drawbacks – witnessing plagiarism (by bloggers and authors), greed (grabby hands at bookish events, selling ARCs), “bullying” or other unfriendly, close-minded, or ungenerous behavior. As huge as this community has become these past six years, it’s unfortunate that the simple love of books isn’t enough to bring and keep us all together, keep us honest, and keep us kind. We are a diverse community that spans the globe – that should be celebrated. We all want our voices heard – that should be tolerated. We all want to discover some amazing authors and books – that should be enough. But instead we battle one another for early reads. We steal others words when we don’t have our own. We shame others for liking something we don’t like. And we shut others’ opinions down when they don’t dovetail with our own.

    But even with all of that to detract, I am so happy to have been and to still be (to some extent) a part of this wonderful community. I still love to follow my favorite authors on social media, get teasers about their writing progress, see their gorgeous book covers. I still get excited when a blogger receives a new book to read, gets to meet one of their favorite authors at an event, posts a gushing review of book I loved just as much.

    Six years is a long time, and yet it feels like an instant. I hope to be here next year to celebrate #7 – I’m sure if I just blink a year will pass, that’s how quickly time seems to be moving these days.

    Fiktshun turns six on Wednesday and while the “event” may not be quite as elaborate as in years past, I will be hosting an international giveaway, so if you’ve made it to the end of this long ramble, I hope you’ll stop back then.

    And…

    Thank You All So Much!

    …for stopping by over the years to my little space on the web, for leaving comments on my posts, for chatting with me on social media. I know there are so many, many sites to visit, posts to read, much more sociable bloggers to connect with, and I appreciate all of you more than you could possibly know.

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    Random Thoughts: Looking Back and Looking Ahead #6

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    For the past five years here on the blog I’ve been taking a look back at the year that has passed and taken a look forward to the year ahead  – 2010-112011-122012-132013-2014, and 2014-2015. And while things have changed quite a bit in the last year and are going to change radically in 2016, I didn’t want to break with tradition.

    Saying Goodbye to 2015

    I made a commitment in 2015 to try and read and review more books than I ever have in a single year since I started blogging. And while I wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped I would be, I definitely exceeded my reading and reviewing goals from previous years. I’d wanted to read 125 books and review 100. I was actually able to read 128 books, but I only reviewed 89. So I was just a bit shy of my goal.

    But it reminded me that this was my goal when I started blogging. To read and share my thoughts about the books I read. And I’m glad I was able to accomplish that.

    In 2015 I stepped back even more from the social, reduced the number of tours and promotions I participated in, and began to step away from the tour promotions at Rockstar Book Tours. I found that while I still loved reading and blogging, I wanted to spend as much of my “free” time doing other things than being indoors, tied to my computer, stressing over deadlines.

    And I’d found a happy blogging-life balance which worked.

    But once again I discovered that a review of mine was plagiarized. By someone who was participating on the same tour as I was. Who also happened to be a host at Rockstar Book Tours. Who then proceeded to tell me that the words were all their own, that it wasn’t theft, when it clearly was. (And judging by their other reviews, they’ve reworked and reimagined other reviewers’ reviews and incorporated them into their own.) I blocked them on Twitter (they followed me), I unfriended them on Goodreads, and they were banned from Rockstar (thanks Jaime!). But it still left that bad taste and made me question whether doing all this was worth it.

    And after five incidents in so many years, I found that it wasn’t. Not really. Because I’m not someone who can just say review theft is part and parcel of being a reviewer and be okay with it. It’s not okay.

    So, as I approached my five year blogoversary in November I decided that I would begin to scale things back significantly with the goal of just finishing up 2015 and quietly reading and reviewing books in 2016 at my leisure.

    Also, as some of you may know, sailing has become a huge part of my life. It became my escape when books failed to do so. It forces me to be in the moment and not dwelling on the everyday stresses, the loved ones I have lost, the mistakes I have made, the missed opportunities. It’s my zen. It’s scary and exhilarating and exciting and beautiful.

    In December I stepped away from the blog, went on another sailing adventure, and realized that that part of my life is one I need to focus on even more.

    As sad as I am that this blog has dwindled in its following, that I’ve become less passionate about keeping it successful, I am not heartbroken, I do not feel guilty.

    On Christmas Eve my cousin passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. We weren’t close, though my Aunt, his mother, is one of the people I love most in the world. She is the best possible person I could know and someone I only hope I could be a fraction as kind and good as. But his passing reminded me just how short life is, how important the people in my life are, and how getting bogged down in the everyday makes me lose sight of the most important things in this world.

    So it’s with all of these experiences that I look toward 2016.

    …Saying Hello to 2016

    I am not just simply going to say goodbye and disappear. I still love reading and reviewing. I still love my blog. And I’ve got commitments scheduled through February.

    But I will be moving again this March – hopefully to somewhere I can stay for a few years – and I will be focusing on learning all that I can about sailing, about the kind of sailor I want to be. And I will also be focused on trying to be a better sister, cousin, niece, friend, loved one.

    If I can find some extra time I also want to focus on writing again – at least to see if it’s possible.

    I still plan to blog when I can, to read and review as much as I can. I still plan on accepting select books for review, though I won’t be actively seeking out opportunities – not that I was ever very good at the latter.

    I will still be sharing my thoughts on Goodreads and Amazon. And I will still be reachable on Twitter. I’m still not the most social person, but if you say hi and start up a convo, I will always write back when I’m online.

    My Goodreads Reading Challenge Goal for 2016 is just 100 books. I’m hoping the actual number is somewhere around 150 by year-end. We shall see. But my fingers are most definitely crossed.

    So…

    I may not be hanging out here at Fiktshun as often as I have been in the past, but I hope to also occasionally blog at Rachel Clarke – once my amazing designer redesigns it (again). I hope that I’ll discover even more amazing reads and characters and authors in 2016. I hope to continue the adventures of some of my favorite characters. And I hope to meet some new blogs and bloggers who love to talk about the books they read.

    And I wish all of the incredibly talented authors and bloggers I’ve gotten the chance to know or “meet” an amazing year ahead.

    Happy 2016!

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    5 Years of Fiktshun: Blogoversary Musings + Giveaway

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    Today is my 5 year blogoversary… well, not mine exactly, but Fiktshun’s. Sometimes it’s hard to make the distinction between the two of us. And I’m kind of surprised I made it this far.

    Five years is a huge milestone. One I didn’t think I would reach as a book blogger. I used to look at those blogs that had been doing their thing for five years and say, “That will never be me.” And yet, today, it is.

    And I’m pretty sure I have the day right. Though for a couple of years I thought it was November 10th.

    Anyway…

    A LOT has happened over the last five years. And if you have a few minutes and are interested, read on. If you just want to see what I’m giving away, scroll down to the Rafflecopter.

    But before you do either, I just want to thank EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU who has ever visited my blog, left a comment, said “hi” to me on social media, loved a book as hard as I have, or made this community awesome.

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    When I first started blogging…

    I never imagined anyone would read my blog. I didn’t know the first thing about being a book blogger. I didn’t know the first thing about interacting with people online. I barely knew how to write a review. (That last one is still up for debate.)

    I made mistakes – I spread myself too thin, I forgot about real life, I became too invested in my blog, I started too many blogs, I was too naive. I learned from those mistakes.

    Now…

    Five years later, I’m somewhat wiser – though I still over-promise, I still agree to read too many books on deadline, I still spread myself too thin. Most of those other blogs are retired – Fiktshun’s Ramblings a.k.a. The Annex, Fiktshun After Dark, My Reading Pile, Book Blogger’s Corner, Reading YA Rocks. Many of my original features are retired, too – Book Watch: Releasing this Week, My Reading Pile, Epic Fail Moments in Blogging, Book Buzz, etc.

    But Fiktshun is still here.

    Even though I’ve wanted to shut it down each and every time I was plagiarized. Even though I’ve doubted my abilities as a blogger/reviewer. Even though I’ve found other things in life that interest me – like writing and sailing.

    And I am still amazed that anyone actually visits my blog, reads my reviews, interacts with me on social media.

    The future…

    Honestly? (As if I’d be anything less than honest.) I don’t know about Fiktshun’s future. Five seems like the perfect amount of time to spend doing one thing so regularly. It would be the perfect time to retire. And I’ve been thinking about it, seriously, for this past year. But it’s just so darn hard to think about walking away from something I’ve put so much time and effort and love into.

    I will likely never shut down this blog completely. It’s become too much a part of my identity. But maybe it will become something else. Maybe I’ll spend less time reading someone else’s stories and spend more time thinking up my own. Maybe I’ll just post reviews, gushing posts about books I’m excited for, and a few random thoughts about my observations.

    I have over 2,000 books on my Kindle, most of which are still to be read. So it’s not like I’ll be lacking for any material.

    Whatever happens in the future, I can say with certainty that the time I have spent (and will spend) I have zero regrets about. And I am so appreciative for everyone who has spent (and will spend) their time reading my posts.


    On Being Five

    5yearsIt’s a bit surreal, actually. In some ways it feels like I’ve been blogging forever. In other ways it feels like I blinked and now it’s five years later. But time has passed and many books have been read, many blogs have come and gone, and here I still am.

    I suppose it’s a pretty big deal, but I’m not one of those people that makes a big deal out of things that are big deals. I tend to do that about things that are meaningless. So if I sound under-enthused or underwhelmed it’s just because I’m not one to jump and scream and call attention to myself.

    They – though I’m not exactly sure who they are – say that people usually have a two-year attention span for things. After two years they get bored and move on, or their life moves on. And over the past five years a lot has changed in my life – some good and some bad – but thanks to my blogger friend Jaime and my extraordinarily talented designer and friend Rachel I haven’t become part of that statistic.

    Five years means I’ve been blogging for 1,826 days. That’s a LOT of days. I’ve moved three times in the past five years and will be moving again in a few months. I’ve lost someone I’ve loved. I’ve met all sorts of amazing people. I’ve read hundreds of books. I’ve bought thousands. I’ve reached milestones, I’ve had achievements, I’ve had disappointments. But that’s all part of life.

    Just as blogging about books for the past few years has been a huge part of mine.

    Being five means that I’ve done something of value for the past five years. It means I’ve committed to something for a long enough time to make it important. It means that I have what it takes to power through the hard times. It means that in this I’m not a quitter, or a failure.


    On Being Fiktshun

    I’ve always been myself – the best version of myself, anyway – when it comes to this blog. I originally wanted to be the kind of reviewer that Bookalicious or Parajunkee are/were. But that’s not me. So I never tried to emulate them, except to the extent that they were being who they were.

    I wanted to be a thoughtful, open-minded blogger. I wanted to post original content. I wanted to be creative and enthusiastic. I wanted to share my love of reading with as many readers as possible. I’m happy to say that I can put a check next to each of those boxes.

    I never wanted to be popular – I’m not good with the spotlight. I never wanted to be the biggest blog – I’m not much for competition. I never wanted to be the “go to” blog for publishers – though I, of course, I love being considered now and then. And I’m not any of those things, nor have I ever been.

    But it’s nice, each and every time, when someone offers me a book for review, when I’m invited to be on a tour, when my eGalley request gets accepted, when someone recognizes my blog’s name, when I get a new follow on Twitter. It’s a little bit of validation that all the time I’ve spent doing this thing has had some positive results.

    I love my little blog, my little space on the interwebs. I love having a platform to talk about the books I read. I love having a few close blogger friends that I can reach out to and who can reach out to me when they need to.

    Being Fiktshun is pretty fantastic, actually. I’m so grateful for every single reader and commentator. I’m so appreciative of every author who has introduced me to their works and I’m so blown away when they connect with me outside of the blog. I am still amazed when I get approved for an eARC or get sent a printed book or ARC by a publisher. It’s a privilege and one I do not take for granted.


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    Blogging has had its share of highs and lows. If I were to list them all I don’t think I’d ever finish this post. But I wanted to share some of those highs and lows that have stood out over the past five years. And *spoiler alert* although the lows may be really, really low, the highs still outweigh them.

    The Highs

    • Meeting so many amazing readers, bloggers, authors and publishers. (Mostly online, as life outside of blogging seems to get in the way of any/all bookish events.)
    • Discovering incredible new books I’d have never otherwise discovered.
    • Getting the chance to read some incredible books in advance of their release.
    • Getting the chance to beta read and critique some freaking awesome books in advance of publication.
    • Finding out my reviews have been blurbed in books, ARCs, author websites.
    • Getting some insanely fantabulous blog designs for Fiktshun.

    The Lows

    • Getting plagiarized repeatedly via copy/paste, re-working, selective word replacement.
    • Drama. From having images stolen, from calling out plagiarizers, from having an original feature stolen, from saying the wrong thing to the wrong person on social media.
    • Feeling not good enough. From having bookish requests go unanswered or denied. From receiving negative feedback. From being overlooked for tours or other promotional events. From having Tweets disregarded. From having posts or reviews getting little to no traffic or interaction.
    • Being overwhelmed. It may be a self-inflicted thing, but it’s almost unavoidable. I can’t avoid it, no matter how hard I try. It’s not easy to say no if it’s a book I want to read, or if I don’t think an invite will be extended again if I do say no.

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    In the past five years I’ve managed to reach a few milestones that I’ve either set for myself or that just kind of sound like milestones. Here are a few:

    • I have over 2,000 published posts on Fiktshun – *pats self repeatedly*.
    • I have read over 500 books since I started blogging – likely well over 500, but who’s counting?
    • I have purchased over 2,000 books for myself since I started blogging.
    • I have given away over 500 books since I started blogging – it’s actually closer to 1,000.
    • I have over 100 book boyfriends – don’t judge.
    • I have had over half a million unique visitors to my site.
    • I have over 5,000 followers on Twitter – though I have no idea why.
    • I have tweeted over 40,000 times – that can’t be right. Seriously?
    • I have over 15,000 comments – not counting my own.
    • Every single post on this blog has some original content or thoughts.
    • I have blogged at Fiktshun for FIVE FREAKING YEARS.

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    I’m not one to flaunt what I consider my achievements. I don’t blog to make others jealous, or feel bad about themselves. I’ve kept some of the moments in blogging that have made me the happiest quiet because I didn’t want to appear as if I was shouting, “Look at me, aren’t I awesome!” or “Look what I got!”

    And maybe the word “achievements” is wrong – but I paid for the graphic and it’s too late to get a new one made. But here are some of the moments in blogging that I considers pretty freaking cool.

    • Getting a review blurbed in a book, an ARC, a newsletter, on a website, on the front cover, on the back cover. (I have to seriously thank everyone for pointing these things out or I might never have known.)
    • Having an author recognize me at an event because of my blog’s name and the review I wrote for their book. (It was in my first year of blogging and it made my entire year.)
    • Having an author sign a book to me via a friend, saying I’m their favorite blogger – even if it’s not entirely true. (I totally fangirled.)
    • Having an author reach out to me during a really tough time, sending me a supportive letter. (It’s something I will never, ever forget.)
    • Being on a book’s acknowledgements page. (It still leaves me speechless that someone like me could be acknowledged by someone who wrote a book.)
    • Getting asked to alpha or beta read an author’s WIP or book and critique it. (Again, so freaking awesome, to be entrusted with someone’s work who is also looking for my opinion.)
    • Having a character named after me – and not being killed off. (Coolest thing ever, from one of the coolest authors ever. The fact that I didn’t die is still such a surprise.)
    • Having a blogger/author/agent reach out to me and invite me to write a short story for an anthology. (It was at one of my lowest moments in blogging, ever. I will never forget this.)
    • Having an author write the most amazing inscription in a book they sent. (It was such an open and honest inscription, and I feel privileged to have been entrusted enough for the author to share those thoughts.)
    • Making a really close friend in the community. (It’s so not like me to be social online or to stay friends with someone for any length of time. So this is probably my greatest achievement in blogging.)

    Wrapping It Up

    Well, I’ve managed to once again ramble on endlessly. But for those of you who have visited my blog over the past five years it should come as no surprise.

    Thank you all again so much for your visits, your comments, your support, your friendship over these past five years. Even if I don’t continue my blog as it currently exists through my sixth blogoversary, I hope to connect on Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, or wherever else I ramble online.

    And maybe by this time next year I’ll actually be actively blogging on one of writerly sites.


    The Giveaway

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    I’m offering up a few prizes for giveaway…

    • To ONE winner – a choice of two SIGNED books (not to exceed $20 each) to be ordered from Books of Wonder – US only
    • To ONE winner – a choice of two books (not to exceed $30) to be ordered from Amazon or The Book Depository – International
    • To ONE winner – an ARC of PASSENGER by Alexandra Bracken – US only

    **For the free entry, please state which giveaways you want to be entered for.**

    As this is for the blogoversary I am adding a couple follow options as extra entries in addition to tweeting about the giveaway and leaving a comment. I’ve also added twitter follows for just a few of the authors that have made an impact on me and my little blog.

    • Must be 13 or older to enter.
    • There will be one winner for each of the three prizes.
    • Giveaway ends on November 30th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific.
    • Winners will be chosen by Rafflecopter.
    • Winners will be announced in the Rafflecopter and contacted by email.

    Enter in the Rafflecopter below…

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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    Random Thoughts: On Doing a Disservice to a Book

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    One of my biggest pet peeves when reading a book is poor editing. A weak storyline, undeveloped characters, mediocre writing will hinder my enjoyment of a book, but those things won’t necessarily prevent me from reading it. But when I encounter numerous mistakes that should have been corrected by a proper proof and copy edit, or inconsistencies and other substantive issues that should have been pointed out by an editor and fixed, I find it nearly impossible to read through a book that might otherwise be quite good.

    I can’t see great characters past poor editing. I can’t get into a story when every other sentence is fraught with errors. I can’t look past the mistakes for the gems. And it’s such a shame.

    Especially when the book has been “edited” by someone charging money for their services or published by someone that should have provided such a service.

    It’s not okay to charge someone to “edit” their book and allow numerous errors through that should have been caught – from grammar, to punctuation, to consistency edits, to plot holes, and on. It’s not okay to be a publisher and allow a book to be published that is bound to garner negative reviews not because of its story but because of its lack of editing.

    It is doing such a disservice to a book that might otherwise be good or great.

    Taking money from a writer for a service should mean that service is provided. Editing a novel should result in numerous line edits and not simply a handful of fixes and a “that’s awesome.” Facts should be checked and not simply glossed over because the editor makes assumptions that they are correct. Just because a statement may sound good, doesn’t mean it actually makes sense.

    Anyone can use spellcheck. An editor should not rely on it to catch all mistakes. Spellcheck is not a service that should be paid for since it comes standard on every word processing program.

    The occasional typo or miss is acceptable and understandable. Even the most diligent of proofreaders, editors, publishers can miss a word here and there. But those misses should be the exception and not the rule. Not if an editor was paid to provide their services.

    And the standard for editing should be higher for publishers. Anyone offering to publish a book for an author should provide them with an editing service. A poorly edited book not only reflects on the book but on the publisher of the book. It will likely result in bad reviews and fewer sales because of those negative reviews. I can’t imagine that any publisher would seek to have fewer sales because they didn’t take the time to provide an editor for one of their authors.

    But apparently it happens. Which boggles my mind.

    I recently read a book that had been “edited” and found innumerable missed edits. The editor was named in the book and it took everything I had not to reach out to them and say something. Because all those errors did affect my ability to connect with the story. And judging by some of the reviews, I wasn’t the only person who felt this way.

    I also recently tried – I’m still trying, actually – to read a book that sounded super cute from its description. It was published by an independent press. But in the first few pages there were over forty-five mistakes, in the first two paragraphs alone there were ten – from spelling, to incorrectly used idioms, to grammar errors, to typos, to confusing or inconsistent statements. In the first three chapters I made 116 notes for errors that I just couldn’t get past.

    And it’s so unfortunate. Because the description sounded so cute. The story itself has promise. But with all these errors that I just can’t see past, even if I were to finish the book, I couldn’t imagine it rating higher than 2-star. And that’s solely because I can’t connect with the story when every other sentence has me pulled away from it.

    An author can be a great writer, but without a proper edit, their story could be the opposite of great. And when said author submits their book to an editor they are looking for that editor to do what they can’t do, having been so close to their story for so long. So when someone takes their money and does nothing more than a light read plus a spellcheck, they are doing great harm. When a publisher puts a book out for the world to see that hasn’t even been given a look by an editor or proofreader, they’re not only hurting the author but hurting themselves.

    Negative reviews can sometimes be positives when the minuses are about the story and characters – everyone has their own tastes – but not one negative review for terrible editing would ever result in someone saying “I have to read this book” unless it’s to see just how horribly edited it is.

    There will always be those out there calling themselves “editors” and putting their hands out for money. Some may even have testimonials or references. Their affordable prices may be very appealing. But just remember, you get what you pay for. Editing is a time-consuming process. Those who do the job that their clients pay for won’t likely promise a quick turnaround or do it for just a few dollars. They are good at what they do and take pride in their work and won’t promise something that is completely unrealistic.

    And while a qualified editor may cost more at the outset, they will give you a finished product that you can be proud of, one that will hopefully result in a greater number of sales, and one that will hopefully result in reviews about the story itself and not about its lack of editing.

    Before relying on testimonials, take a peek at one or two of the books they’ve “edited.” Think twice about handing over your money to someone who is more than happy to do a disservice to something you spent hours, days, weeks, months – or even years – laboring over. Don’t let the merits of what you’ve written be missed due to the “editor” who cares only about the money they received and not about having pride in their work.

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    Random Thoughts: Having Fun With It

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    When I first started blogging I was so excited. I could write multiple posts a day – I had a LOT to say. I was devouring books and spending every free moment of every day reading and writing and thinking up new ideas for the blog. It was fun.

    Around the two-month mark things started getting serious. I started getting books for review. There were deadlines. There were commitments. There were people actually possibly READING the things I had to say – hard as that may have been for me to believe. But my stats proved otherwise.

    And it terrified me.

    I didn’t actually think someone would visit my site or read my posts. I didn’t think I’d have to engage with people. But I tried to step up to the plate. I tried to be social. I tried to make my blog the very best I could make it. But it was challenging and stressful and not quite as much fun as it had originally been.

    I never started out to become the biggest blog, the most popular blogger, the one with the most original content or the best reviews. I didn’t want to be the blogger favored by the publishers or approached by the authors. I just wanted to be able to share my thoughts about the books I loved.

    And yet I found myself trying to check those boxes, because I thought I had to. I thought I had to be noticed and not just be.

    As the years passed I saw blogs become huge successes, I saw blogs crash and burn, I saw blogs doing their thing without the fanfare. I saw drama unfold, I was caught up in drama. I experienced some of the highs (author/publisher/”celebrity” blogger acknowledgement, review blurbs in books, bookish bffs) and many of the lows (plagiarism, image theft, self-doubt).

    I thought about quitting many, many times. I took a few breaks here and there. I changed things up again and again in hopes of finding that spark again, finding what made me so excited about blogging in the first place.

    And I realized that somewhere amidst all the chaos of trying to be the best I could be, trying to get people to visit my site, trying not to get lost in the stampede, trying to follow the rules I laid out, trying to be on the mailing list for the most coveted books, that I forgot what I was doing this for – to share my love of books on this tiny piece of the internet that’s all mine.

    And to ramble. And to gush. And to rant. And to be silly and funny and weird.

    And I reminded myself…

    This is not a chore. I am not looking to be voted book blogger of the year. I am not looking to make inroads into the publishing world. I am not looking to earn money.

    There’s no reason to stress about not posting every day. There’s no reason to doubt my self-worth because my request was rejected or ignored. There’s no reason to feel sad because I wasn’t included in a promotional event. And there’s no reason why I shouldn’t continue to share my random thoughts now and again even though everyone else is doing the same.

    And it seems to be working.

    Because I look at my pretty blog (thanks Parajunkee!) and feel excited when I have to post something. I can write a review without worrying too much about sounding stupid or boring or redundant. I can share my thoughts about all sorts of books without wondering if the genre is not in line with my blog’s “brand.”

    I can take an hour or two to think up a topic I want to ramble about without stressing that someone has probably already posted about the same thing and said it a million times better than I ever could.

    I can be awkward and introverted and outrageous and random.

    I can fall madly in love with books, their worlds, their characters. I can admire and be in awe of the authors of these books.

    I can do all of these things, and be all of these things, and be a book blogger who is having a heck of a lot of fun instead of one who wonders if today will be their last day.

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    Random Thoughts Lite: Blogging and Moving Don’t Mix

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    As you might have heard – because I’ve probably complained about it often enough – I’m in the process of moving. I’m packing up all my belongings and getting ready to load them up in a U-Haul and take them to my next place. As with any upheaval to one’s life, things do not go smoothly, or as planned.

    I should have had the keys by now and been spending my evenings taking stuff over and unpacking. But due to some major idiocy on the part of my new place of residence, I won’t have them until Friday night. And so my belongings remain in boxes, stacked six feet high by eight feet wide by five feet deep in my living room.

    My-Life-In-Boxes

    And what exactly does this have to do with blogging?

    Well, for starters, it’s making me crazy – the not having keys, the fear that they won’t really give them to me on Friday, the fact that I’m running out of space and boxes to pack more things. And it’s been escalating. I’m now at the level deemed batshit crazy. And being on the verge of insanity is NOT a good mindset to have when blogging. I had planned (why? because i’m an idiot) to write and post a few reviews this week so that my blog wouldn’t be completely devoid of content until next Monday. But that did not happen. The one review I started to write is a complete disaster. I think the word “happy” was used.

    Granted, I probably should not have planned any reviews during this week leading up to the move (probably? try, shouldn’t have. but as stated above, i’m an idiot). But I was so certain it wouldn’t be an issue, that I had all the time in the world. I did not anticipate things not going according to plan.

    Secondly, it seems I’ve packed some of those review books I want to be reading right about now. And of course they’re in the box in the back, behind all the other boxes. I had thought they’d already be at the new place, on my book tower, where I could grab one or two of them if I needed. But no. They’re still here. Buried. (and yes i am contemplating trying to dig them out. why? because i’m an idiot)

    Thirdly, changing one’s address for blogging purposes is a complicated endeavor. Especially when you’re a blogger that receives books on occasion from a publisher that you have no contact at to give your new address to. And when you’re not entirely sure your new address will be your address – given the number of times the new residence has already failed you – you are hesitant to update your address with the publishers you do have contacts at. And of course, amidst all the stress, you are living with the knowledge that you will always wonder if there are books sitting at your former residence that someone else is enjoying and not you. (the upside is, of course, that you can con yourself into thinking a book was sent and be spared from the why not me woes)

    Fourthly, the time spent sitting at a computer, checking email, tweeting, trying to keep up with what’s going on in the blogosphere makes you feel incredibly guilty for not getting off your butt and packing that one other thing you’ve been putting off. Blogging guilty is no way to blog. (yes, i’m being eaten away by guilt as i write this post instead of taking the time to haul my dresser downstairs and wrap it in mover’s plastic)

    Finally, it’s forced me to purge books because I don’t have the storage space that my current place has. Saying goodbye to books is always not easy. But saying goodbye to them while preparing to say goodbye to my home of two-and-a-half years has been emotionally taxing. (of course the fact that all of a sudden i’m drawn to watching tear-jerker movies like if i stay while packing does not help with the crying. at all)

    This is not the first time I moved while blogging. (wow, either i move a lot of i’ve been blogging a really long time. huh) That last time I think I took a week’s hiatus. But that time I had little space to pre-pack and knew that the move was going to be a disaster. This time I thought it would be easier. I was so, so, so very wrong.

    So, my advice? If you’re not a blogger who preps posts weeks or months in advance, put your blog on a mini-break. Don’t try and keep up with posting, review writing, email, Twitter, Facebook. You’ll be lucky if you have enough focus to read a book for more than five seconds at a time. Your time will be at a premium. Your anxiety levels will be elevated. You will likely be exhausted. Your home being deconstructed bit by bit will be unsettling.

    Moving is stressful. Blogging can be stressful. The two together do NOT mix.

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    Random Thoughts: When it Clicks

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    I just love it when I pick up a book with absolutely no expectations and not much of an idea of what it’s about, and it just clicks. I love it when I’m not certain of what kind of bookish mood I’m in, yet the moment my eyes roam over those first few sentences I just know that this book is exactly the book I’m in the mood to read. I love it when everything comes together. It feels magical. It feels fated. And I love the story all the more because of that.

    Because a day later, an hour later, a minute later, it might not have been the right moment. My mood could have shifted – it tends to be quite fickle. I could have been too tired or too distracted for that particular book mere seconds later. There would have been no click if I’d discovered it at that moment rather than this one.

    I have set aside countless books that I have come to love when searching for that click. Those set aside books have often been some of my most favorite reads. But without that perfect combination of elements they just weren’t right for me then.

    I sometimes spend hours glancing at book titles on my Kindle, downloading them, reading a few words, and waiting for the click. There are days when no matter how many books I come across, I don’t find it. Which makes it so much sweeter when I do.

    When it clicks I know I’m in exactly the right mood to read that exact book. I know that I’m going to love that book fiercely. And it’s going to leave its mark. If I were to read that same book on a different day because I had to read it, the connection might not be there. I might love that book, but not as much as I would have if I’d waited for the click.

    Some books will never click, because they aren’t the book for me. Some stories I can’t relate to in the way I’d need to in order for there to be that click. Some writing styles don’t suit my reading tastes. Some characters aren’t ones I will ever love. Sometimes it is just not the right time in my life to experience a particular story.

    And sometimes what clicks for me right now might not ever again. Which is why I don’t always opt to re-read my favorite stories. With each re-read there’s always a gamble that some of the magic will disappear. Without that element of the unknown, a story may not be as nerve-wracking, as angst-filled, as deliciously torturous. Every so often there is a book that loses all of its luster on second glance. And I wonder if it was the book or me that is to blame.

    But every so often there is a book that clicks no matter when I read it, or how many times I read it. Some books will always click, because they are “me” books no matter what reading mood I’m in, or what’s going on in my life at that moment. These are the books I know I can pick up at any time, fall instantly back in love with, escape into and know that I will not be disappointed.

    As a reviewer it’s not often possible to re-read those favored books that always click or wait to read a book I know or hope will click at some other point in time. Schedules and deadlines can get in the way of falling in love with a book. They can prevent a book from being loved as much as it might have been had there been no time limit on the read. They can make me wish I wasn’t a reviewer so that I could read according to mood alone.

    But these obstacles and challenges aren’t always a bad thing, because when the click does happen it is more special because of its rarity. It gives me something to look for and hope for as I pick up that next book.

    And it makes me so very glad that I do what I do and that I have the luxury of time to read and discover new books to find that instance when it clicks.

    What about you?

    Do you love books more when they click? Do you only read books that click with you and set aside those that don’t until they do? Does reading on a deadline prevent you from finding books that click? And do you find that when you re-read books that once clicked that they no longer do?

    What gets in the way of a book clicking for you? Is it mood? Is it your non-reading life? Is it your review schedule?

    What books click for you?

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