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Random Thoughts Lite

    Random Thoughts Lite: Reading the Sexy in Public

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    The wonderful thing about being a (mainly) YA book blogger is that there aren’t those scenes that would make you blush when reading them in public. While certain YA authors add a little more heat to their romance than others, getting “caught” reading those romantic moments would hardly cause a blush.

    While my age, versus the age of the characters, might make feel a little awkward were I to be caught swooning, I would never be uncomfortable if someone were to read over my shoulder, or pick up my book or Kindle to see what brought a little color to my cheeks. Romance in YA can definitely be sexy, but not too sexy for public consumption. New Adult on the other hand….

    I don’t consider myself a prude. I am rarely shocked by matters of a sexual nature in books or films. (Though with the discovery of certain reader proclivities on Amazon, I might be just a little bit surprised. Bigfoot… who knew?) But the idea that others are judging me solely based on what I read, or coming to conclusions about me, irks me. And of course others wondering what I might be thinking while reading certain passages creeps me out more than a little.

    Which is why I don’t tend to dive into books like DREAMS OF A DARK WARRIOR or SIN UNDONE in public, whose titles alone imply things about their readers. While I would happily admit to reading such books, getting leering looks that say, “So that’s what you like?” makes me want to run home and take a scalding hot shower to scrub off the ick.

    Being a Kindle reader helps with privacy… sometimes. Sometimes it’s more a false sense of privacy than a real one. Which makes things so much worse when you find someone leaning in close, eyeing the page, with a lusty look. (Gross.) Though it’s far worse when it’s a mom who’s covering her younger child’s eyes and giving you a death glare as she pulls him or her away. (Mortifying.)

    Perhaps reading romance is best left for alone time. But that, too, implies something. Having a stack of books whose covers are filled with bare-chested, headless, men on one’s nightstand definitely raises eyebrows. And leaves visitors to one’s home with a very definite impression.

    Most of the books I read are for review here on the blog. They aren’t for my “guilty pleasure” or for pleasure in any sense of that word. Therefore, I read them whenever and wherever I can, not thinking about the content and its appropriateness for public consumption. And as I tend to read the “love” scenes with a more critical eye and a more clinical look, I’m not swept away by the romance and left feeling all swoon-y and awkward in public. So it’s only much later that I realize that someone’s wide-eyed or judge-y or heat-filled stare had to do with whatever scene I’d just been reading and that my response to them should have been a little more understanding. Oops.

    I think the worst part about reading the sexy in public is that instead of focusing on how well – or poorly – its been written, or how much or little I enjoy it, I’m paranoid that someone is reading over my shoulder, and if I see that they are, I’m wondering what they think of me, and I’m forming impressions of them based on how they react. Which takes me completely away from the story.

    So…

    Do you find it awkward or uncomfortable to read about the Sexy Times in public? Do you find that people like to read over your shoulder and then pass judgment on what you’re reading when it involves sex?

    If reading the “naughty bits” makes you blush regardless of where you’re reading it, does happening upon an unexpected scene in public turn you beet red?

    Have you been book shamed, leered at, or invited to turn what you’ve been reading into a reality? And has their reaction made you angry or mortified or totally skeeved out?

    What has your experience been when reading the sexy in public?

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    Random Thoughts Lite: Never-ending Posts

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    Finding the right balance between posts that are too long and those that are too short can be tricky. You want your posts to be substantive but at the same time you want them to be entertaining.

    Bored-with-FiktshunIt’s not fun to read long-winded posts that just go on and on and on when you’re on your computer, tablet or mobile device. Text-heavy posts can be daunting and can dissuade a potential reader from even beginning to read.

    Posts with little else but images and a few pithy comments can seem trite.  Which might be fine for sites like I Can Has Cheezburger? but maybe not so much for a book blog.

    As book bloggers we want to be informative, we want to express our opinions. We don’t want to bore our readers or turn them off with excessively long reviews, rants or rambles. But some of us – me, me, me – can’t seem to help it.

    I suffer from not only the inability to self-edit but from the fear of being too simplistic. I also worry that if my posts are too short in length it will appear as if I’m not putting in enough effort.

    Of course it’s not that I ever run out of things to say. I could go on, endlessly, just because my brain refuses to shut up. But sometimes I could say things much more concisely and to the point. And yet I don’t.

    Maybe it’s because I used to listen to those bloggers and authors that said it’s not a review if it’s less than X number of words. The same bloggers and authors who would criticize someone’s voice for not being in line with traditional review standards.

    Perhaps it’s because I feel like I’m not doing a review justice unless I say every possible thing I can say about a book in that review. I’m reminded of Steve Martin as Navin R. Johnson in “The Jerk” just needing one thing… and maybe just one more… and one more after that.

    But whether it’s my reviews or discussion posts or tour posts or promotional posts, or even my giveaways, I just can’t seem to stop myself until I see a word count of 1,000. Sometimes I don’t even notice how long I’ve rambled.

    Which shows a definite lack of consideration for my blog’s readers. As someone who has difficulty reading those never-ending posts, I should know better. And I’m going to try and remedy that. Starting now.

    If I was at all concerned with stats I might have done so sooner. But it’s never too late to try, right?

    What about you?

    Do you prefer longer or shorter blog posts or does it depend on the content? Do you suffer from the “never-ending post” post problem or is the opposite true for you?

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    Random Thoughts: Series Obsessed

    RT

    Merriam-Webster defines obsession as:

    – a state in which someone thinks about someone or something constantly or frequently especially in a way that is not normal

    – someone or something that a person thinks about constantly or frequently

    – an activity that someone is very interested in or spends a lot of time doing

    When it comes to reading books in a series I have to admit that all three versions of the definition apply. And I’m wondering if I’m not alone when it comes to being series obsessed.

    ***

    Way back when, before I became a book blogger – yes it was ye olden days it was that long ago – I was obsessed with reading series in their entirety. I’d dive into the first book in the series and wouldn’t come up for air until I finished the last.

    I’d often become so enchanted with a series that I would stay up all night, I wouldn’t leave the house, I wouldn’t remember to eat, I’d barely be able to tear my eyes away to do other important things like spend time with family, work… live. I’d get so caught up in being in the world the author created in their series that I would replace my reality for the alternate – often alien – one being built in my imagination.

    And I’d become so very angry when I had to break away, when the world I’d fashioned around me, filled with characters more interesting than those in my real life, places that I know I could never visit – be they real or imagined – in my lifetime, would be torn away from me because of some responsibility I had.

    As twisted as that sounds, I’ve missed that. Terribly.

    Since becoming a book blogger it’s all about reading for review, reading the latest and greatest, finding books to read that haven’t yet been released and talking about those books. Discoveries are all about books that have yet to hit shelves, an author’s writing yet to be experienced.

    It’s rarely about discovering a gem that has existed, been cherished and loved, been buzzed about for years. It’s about looking forward, not looking back. Because it’s those untested works that need to be promoted, need an audience, need to get their feet off the ground.

    It’s about reading just one book at a time, within close proximity to its release. It’s about anticipating the wait for the next book in the series, not devouring a series in its entirety all at once.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the early reads. I love to buzz about the latest and greatest, or a book I hope will be the next big thing. But I’ve missed being able to start a series that already has most – if not all – of its books ready for the reading. I’ve missed being able to fall so deeply in love with a series because I can exist in that world for well beyond those three to five hundred pages a single book promises.

    I missed being able to immerse myself in worlds like those of the Shadowhunters and connect with its characters on a level I might not have if I had to wait a year between each book’s release.

    And while I have been trying to wait, to read a couple of books in a series back-to-back, it’s still not the same as embarking upon a lengthy series, one that offers the promise of hours upon hours of highs and lows, heartbreak and anguish, excitement, thrills and romance.

    But the worst part of it all, the thing that breaks my heart a little, is that for a long time I forgot just how much I missed it. How much I’ve missed out on. How many amazing series are out there just waiting to be consumed from start to finish.

    I forgot how much I loved my series obsessions, how much joy I got from sitting down with a stack of books that would introduce me to just one world and its characters. A world I could become so familiar with that stepping away from it felt very much like leaving a part of me behind.

    For the past three years I’ve drifted further and further away from this series obsessed version of myself. I’ve made fleeting connections with characters. I’ve visited the worlds in these books I’ve been reading for too short a time for them to feel like my worlds.

    In reading books for blogging I’ve picked up book after book, almost never going back for a second look, and even less frequently devouring a series without interruption. I haven’t allowed myself the indulgence of this obsession of mine. Because it’s time consuming, it’s all-consuming. It’s a luxury that I imagined would fill me with guilt. It’s a line I wouldn’t allow myself to cross.

    Until now.

    I recently gave in to the temptation of discovering a series that I’d been told for the past two years is one that I must read – Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series. I thought it would be the perfect distraction at a time when I was too overwhelmed to read review books. I promised myself that I would sit down, make myself read just one book, satisfy my curiosity, stop the “Have you read it yet?” questions, and walk away.

    I thought it would be that easy.

    I was wrong.

    While the first book in that series wasn’t the strongest, most alluring, it offered the promise of something. Enchanting. Exciting. Dark. Dangerous. Sexy. It promised characters that I would want to get to know better. It promised a world that I would want to continue to imagine myself in. It promised fascinating, deadly lore. It teased with secrets. It was beguiling.

    And I couldn’t help but pick up the next book to discover those answers, to keep building that world, to remain connected with those characters.

    I swore I’d continue my journey for just a few pages. Just a chapter. Just a few more.

    When I blinked, night had become early morning and I’d reached the end of that book. I found that stopping at two was just not an option. I needed that peek into the next book. I needed just a little more time to get to know these characters. I needed to find out “if…” and “who…” and “what…”.

    I had work. I had blogging. I had responsibilities that kept me from being able to read every waking moment. But as soon as those were done I found myself unable to resist the lure of those books.

    I swore that after the third one I would get back to my own story, I’d get ahead on my blog posts, I’d step away. I drew yet another line that I swore I would not cross.

    Yet when I reached the end of that story, without a moments hesitation, without a single thought to the contrary, I crossed it. It was as if it wasn’t even there.

    You see, obsession is not so very different from addiction. They’re like kissing cousins. Well, they’ve kissed. And because of this it was so easy for me to be able to leave that line I would not cross in the dust.

    I’m not even bothering to pretend anymore that when I finish this fourth book in the series I’ll stop before I read the fifth. As much as I have other responsibilities that I have to attend to, reading this series to its conclusion… at least the five books with the current main character… is as necessary to me as breathing.

    I am hooked. I am addicted.

    I am seriously series obsessed.

    And I am so curious if I’m the only one.

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    Random Thoughts Lite: Making Some More Changes

    RTLite

    As I approach my blogoversary marking three years blogging about books, I’ve decided to make a few changes here at Fiktshun… well, a few more. I’ve already started making changes – design, types of books I’m reading, et cetera – but I have a few more changes that I’m hoping to make.

    For the past three years I’ve thrown everything into blogging about books, leaving little time for other things in my life. I’ve invested not only my time, though, I’ve put everything I had into it. It’s been my obsession. And in many ways it still is. But I need to make room for other things, too.

    So I’m going to try and take the occasional day or two off if I have nothing pre-scheduled on the blog. More importantly, I’m going to try not to worry about having an empty day on the blog. That, to me, is the bigger challenge.

    Also, I’m going to retire Fiktshun After Dark. I’ve already closed the Facebook page. But I’m going to delete the Twitter, too. It doesn’t mean, though, that I won’t be reading and reviewing paranormal/urban fantasy. I’ll just be posting those reviews and posts at Fiktshun.

    Fiktshun will still be a mostly YA book blog, but I am now starting to read a few NA books, too. And instead of trying to keep everything separate I’m just going to post it all in one place.

    And finally, I’m going to be making a few changes in how I review. I tried this last year, but it didn’t quite work out, so this is “take two.” The few people I have spoken to about this have suggested I make them shorter, but it’s not about the length. As anyone who has stopped by my blog knows, I could go on and on and on. It’s about the style. Trying to come up with just the right words each and every time while following a specific format isn’t something that comes naturally to me.

    When I read a book I come away from it with either a gushing ramble or a more clinical observation. Sometimes both. Usually both. While my reviews have always been in my voice, they’re my voice tailored to fit a format that feels foreign. Over the years I have gotten used to organizing my thoughts in that way, but it has never quite fit me right.

    Which is why I tend to think that my reviews are dreadful, repetitive, boring. And which is why I find myself reviewing fewer and fewer of the books I read.

    Though I still often wonder if that’s in part due to the fact that there are so few words that will adequately describe my feelings. Most of the books I read to their conclusion are “awesome” or “amazing.” A few “blow my mind” or “tear me apart.” As I love books that are “heartbreaking” or “heartrending” or “gut-wrenching” most all of the books I read are one of those.

    And most, if not all, are “suspenseful” and “nail-biting,” have a “cliffhanger ending” and a “love triangle,” and are “shocking” or “surprising.” So following the format that I do to lay out my thoughts makes me feel like I’m being very redundant.

    So I’m desperately hoping to be able to make a change that makes sense, that doesn’t feel like a cop out, or makes me feel like I’m a quitter. My biggest problem, I think, with this particular change, is that sharing my thoughts about books feels just like that, thoughts, which are not what I would consider my review.

    Even if these changes mean that my audience will dwindle to zero, these are changes that I have to make for me. There are only twenty-four hours in a day and between work and sleep it leaves very little time to do much else.

    Reading will forever be a top priority, as will blogging, but I want writing and sailing and spending time with The Dude to be equal on that list. As far as I know I only get one of these things called lives and I don’t want to miss out on anything.

    Besides, I am just one small voice here in a very crowded blogosphere, I hardly matter, but in my real life my voice needs to be heard, it needs to matter. I need to matter.

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    Random Thoughts Lite: Making Some Changes at Fiktshun

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    In less than three months I’ll have been blogging here at Fiktshun for three years. While I have taken a day off here and there – I think I’ve missed seven days total – I’ve been posting fairly consistently during that time. And that’s not going to change.

    I’ve come to realize that I’m not someone who can take a blogging break. And most of the time I don’t want to. I like knowing that my blog has fresh – if not always exciting – content each and every day.

    But – and I don’t know if you know this about me – I hate routine. I hate doing the same exact thing day in and day out. The idea that life is passing by and that each day feels like one big déjà vu is depressing.

    Which is why I like to change up my environment – a lot – or blog about different things or read different books from different genres.

    But in the past couple of years here on the blog I’ve started to see myself settling into a routine. I have three weekly features, I have tour spots, I have giveaways, and I have a few Random Thoughts posts and review posts in between. And while I have the occasional guest post, participate in the occasional annual event, things are pretty much the same each week.

    I post once a day. I post some features on specific days. I add my thoughts into each and every post I have on the blog, but after 1,350 published posts I am starting to wonder how repetitive that voice is.

    I like to think I’ve always run my blog in a way I consider to be professional. While I have fun with many of my posts, I keep the crazy side of my personality in check. And that, too, is not going to change. While I’ve let loose a bit more on The Annex, the reality is, I am a fairly reserved person unless I’m surrounded by the closest of my friends. And while I do consider many of the people I’ve “met” through blogging friends, this is the internet, and my friends are likely not my only audience.

    That said, I am going to strive to be a bit more casual, have a bit more fun. And I am going to add in a few features that I’d run – or plan on running – on some of my satellite blogs. I may even start posting more than once a day.

    This is not a job and I don’t want it to feel like one. I don’t want to check a box that says “blog post for tomorrow completed” and move on to something that doesn’t feel like work. And I don’t want to feel like I’m censoring myself because what I have to say may not live up to the standards I set for myself here on Fiktshun.

    Not all my posts have to be in excess of 800 words. And not all my posts have to be about me or the books I’ve read. Which is why I’m trying to incorporate other bloggers, readers and authors into my blog. Not to fill a void. And not because I’m too lazy to write a post in my voice.

    This is a community. One I am proud most days to be a part of. One I am grateful that has accepted me with all my flaws. And because of that – and for so many other reasons – I want to feature some of those voices here on my blog.

    My “Epic Fail Moments in Blogging” feature was my first step toward making a few changes here at Fiktshun. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done, not because it pointed out some of my flaws, but because it had the potential to feel gimmicky, attention-grabby, unprofessional. It also had the potential to be an epic failure.

    The jury is still out about its success, but it did break through a barrier. It allowed me the confidence to make some other changes.

    One of which is the “Why YA?” feature I just launched here on the blog. This one is a bit more of a challenge in that it requires that I reach out to bloggers, readers and authors and ask them to write a guest post. And while the question each week will be the same, it lacks that “routine” I so dread because each participant’s voice is different, their reason for reading (or writing) YA is personal to them and it gives me the chance to share someone else’s voice other than my own here on the blog in a non-interview format.

    Another upcoming feature is one I have taken the title of from my former blog, My Reading Pile. I have completely revamped it, though, so the only thing in common with that feature is its name, “Boys on the Pile.” And it is another feature that requires that I reach out to bloggers for a guest post. So its success is definitely TBD.

    And finally, something I’d planned to do on The Annex, is start “Blathering About” posts here on Fiktshun. I love talking about books in ways that aren’t so formal. My reviews tend to be uber formal, even my Book Thoughts posts tend to adopt a formal tone. But, in reality, when thinking about the books I read and love, my thoughts tend to be all over the place and sometimes I just want to gush rather than review. I want to share those spoiler-y “Oh my gosh!” moments with readers who feel exactly like I do. I want to talk about how a particular love triangle filled me with all sorts of angst.

    I want there to be conversation about the books versus just polite curiosity about my review-ish thoughts. I want to hear about readers’ squeals of excitement, exclamations of “WTH!!!” and “Did that just happen?” as opposed to a simple nod of agreement, a polite golf clap. I want to know when someone prefers the best friend to the bad boy or can’t stand the fact that I love love triangles, cliffhangers, villains.

    I love books. And what I mean by that is that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE books. I am swept up by them. Carried away. Those worlds become my own. Those characters become real to me. And when reviewing books that connection, that emotion is stripped away. Which is sad, to me, because that emotional connection is exactly how and why I connect to books.

    Anyway… so much for this being a Random Thoughts “Lite” post. I still think I’m going to have to work on being a tad less verbose.

    The point is that I plan on making a few changes. Getting myself and my blog out of its repetitive rut. Add in a few posts that may be a little less me, me, me. And maybe create a few that reveal more of who I am as a reader. I may even bring back to life a few more features from my other blogs like “A New Pile Add,” “What’s On [YOUR] Reading Pile” or “Choosing Sides.”

    Fiktshun has been my labor of love.  I’ve been very protective of it. Very cautious. It’s also made me a bit greedy, allowing only the closest of blogger friends to share their thoughts here.

    That’s going to change… well… if I can get over my fear of outreach, that is.

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