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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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    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: 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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    Random Thoughts: Looking Back and Looking Ahead #5

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    While I’ve been participating in the Top 10 year-end event for the past few years, I have still always said goodbye to the year separate and apart from that. I’ve taken a look at what I’ve accomplished here on the blog during the year that passed and looked to what I might accomplish in the year ahead – 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13. Last year I did things just a little bit differently as it was a really difficult end-of-year for me – 2013-2014. And while things aren’t nearly as dire this year, I thought I’d once again be a little less formal.

    Saying Goodbye to 2014…

    I’ve made a lot of changes in my blogging life this past year. In the first half of the year I pulled back from much of the social side of blogging, focusing on discovering amazing books, reading and posting. It was a quiet start of the year, but one that made me feel like for the first time since I started blogging my real life and my blogging life were in balance.

    This past summer, however, I got embroiled in some drama in the blogosphere. It was quiet but it really cut to learn that someone I “knew” had plagiarized one of my reviews and also in the process harmed someone else who I respect as a blogger. It caused me to step back even further and announce here on Fiktshun that I was going to be trying to wind things down by year-end.

    It also made me decide to try and change up my review style, become even less social, and be even more wary about the book blogging community.

    While I haven’t quite gotten the chance to completely wind things down as I’d hoped – I still love reading so very much – I have shifted focus, changed my approach, and even have gone so far as to start blogging on a new site – Reading YA Rocks – to mainly share reviews of those YA books I have received for review.

    I’ve also pulled back a lot of myself from my blog here on Fiktshun – with fewer Random Thoughts posts, no personal thoughts on reviews, et cetera. It’s been hard to willingly put myself out there, share my personal thoughts, when I feel like trust has been broken one too many times.

    As horrible as that was to have happened, I am glad that I’ve been able to find a way to blog without all the pressure and stress. I’m glad to still have been able to discover some truly brilliant and amazing authors and to possibly discover more in the year to come. I’m glad that I won’t be walking away completely from this blog that I put over four years of my life into.

    …Saying Hello to 2015

    While I am glad that my goodbye to 2014 won’t be a goodbye to blogging altogether, I will be making more changes to how I blog in 2015.

    I won’t be blogging as frequently as once per day. I will be mainly focusing on sharing reviews of books I read, and the occasional promotional post when I find a book that I fall madly in love with or am desperate to read. I will be trying to catch up on all those reads and reviews of books that I haven’t quite gotten the chance to read. I will read more books I’m in the mood to read at that moment versus ones I need to read on a deadline.

    I am also hoping to vary the types of books I read this year. I’ve started really enjoying mixing up the YA books with a few PNRs and NA contemporaries. I even read a sort-of historical fiction novel that I absolutely loved. I would like to continue mixing it up in 2015.

    And finally, I will also be turning my attention back to writing. I took 2014 off from any kind of writing. I needed the time away. Life kind of kicked my ass and I just didn’t have it in me to be creative, to get lost inside my head. I’m hoping things will be different this year.

    So…

    Things may be a bit quieter here on Fiktshun in 2015 than they were in 2014, though given the number of (mostly) review tours I’ve agreed to be on, it might not be that quiet. I will be spending much of my time lost in a book versus formatting posts for the blog. But as my original goal in blogging was always to share my thoughts about the books I read, it is not necessarily a bad thing. I’ll finally be back on track with my original goals. And… I’m upping my read and review goal to 125 books this year.

    I sort of feel a little selfish by planning on taking more from the community than I will be giving this coming year. But after 4+ years of blogging I think it will balance itself out.

    I am happy that in all this time I have never lost my love for reading. In fact, it has grown. I’ve discovered more books and authors than I would ever have known existed if I never took this chance to blog. And so while things haven’t always been a positive, the good has managed to outweigh the bad – even if only by the thinnest of margins at times.

    And to all you book bloggers who take the risk and share your thoughts on the books you love or not-so-much love, who spend your free time promoting the authors you want to see succeed for little more than the chance to discover that next book that amazes, to the authors who write those books that will forever be in our lives, and to the publishers and publicists who do their very best to get those books out there in front of readers who will love them…

    I wish you all an amazing 2015!

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    Random Thoughts: Is it Compelling?

    randomthoughtsFor the past few months I’ve been trying to review every book I’ve read. The reason I became a book blogger was to be able to share my thoughts about the books I’ve read, and for the past long while I’d lost sight of that goal, getting distracted by all the other things that come along with blogging about books.

    While I haven’t been completely successful in this endeavor, it hasn’t been a total fail. But the more reviews I write, the more it becomes obvious to me just how few words I have at my disposal to describe them all. Perhaps it’s because the books I read are too similar in genre or nature to warrant a different description. Or perhaps it’s because I’m very particular about my word selections.

    I have been known to visit Thesaurus dot com in order to try and expand my brain’s limited vocabulary, but as I am so particular about the words I choose – they have to exactly convey what I want them to – I don’t often find it to be much of a help.

    The books I read are generally those that excite. I like to be engaged with a story, to be thrilled by it, to be fascinated. I love when the writing is beautiful or brilliant. I love when the stories are rich with detail, the plots are riveting, the characters are charming or adorable or swoon-worthy. I prefer my stories to be filled with epic adventure. I must be entertained.

    At times I am mesmerized, spellbound or bewitched. At others I am captivated, enticed, consumed. And on a few occasions my mind is blow.

    But the word that often eludes me, that I see so frequently in other reviews, is compelling. And I’ve often wondered why I hesitate to use that word in my reviews.

    One of the definitions of compelling is “evoking interest, attention, or admiration in a powerfully irresistible way.” I do find books interesting. I do find myself able to strongly connect to them. So, perhaps they are compelling. But yet I still hesitate to describe them as such. Because while I may find them compelling, my mind always jumps to the term “compel” and then I ask myself whether I feel compelled to read them?

    The definition of compel is “force or oblige (someone) to do something.” And I certainly don’t feel forced to read any of the books I read. I do sometimes feel obliged to do so, but not in a way that involves force. So maybe it’s the negative description for the root word in compelling that is giving me pause.

    Compelling is associated with something positive, compel is associated with something negative. In my mind perhaps I’m blending the two. Or maybe not.

    I see both “compelling” and “compel” as very strong terms. And so, while I may be able to powerfully bond with a story or be drawn to read it, I feel like that’s one of those terms that has to be reserved for those once or twice in a lifetime stories with plots that are profound, meaningful, powerful. One of my favorite reads of all time, by my favorite author of all time, is still one I wouldn’t describe as compelling.

    Sadly, it’s not the only word I struggle with using to describe the books I read. It’s one of many.

    I find myself loathe to use “engrossing” when describing books that I actually find engrossing. My reasons for dislike of that particular word are childish and also snobbish, so I am going to refrain from elaborating on that. I don’t like to use “touching” or “moving” as I often worry I’ll sound stuffy or pompous. The list goes on… and on… and on….

    But more often than not, it’s simply the fact that only a handful of words accurately describe the sentiment. As previously mentioned, much of what I read is exciting. If it was boring I’d quickly set it aside. But not all books are enthralling, thrilling or electrifying. Just because a word is a synonym does not make it a word I can supplement for another when I feel like I’ve said something was exciting or amazing or action-packed or epic one too many times.

    I’ve only read one novel since I started blogging that I found to be “sweeping.” I’ve only read a handful of books that provoked thought. Just a select few were brilliant or masterfully written. I don’t believe I’ve read a single book that I could be comfortable describing as profound since 2010. And while that may sound sad, it’s really not. I have read some of the most wonderful, entertaining, suspenseful, chilling, romantic, tantalizing, heart-stopping, breathtaking, gorgeous, gruesome, horrifying, awesome, gripping stories since then. I just wish I had a few more words at my disposal to adequately and accurately describe them.

    I often wonder whether some of the words I see in reviews truly match what the reviewer felt or whether they were just so tired of rehashing the same words over and over again and desperate to utilize something new. Even if it wasn’t as on point as one of those “go to” words in their repertoire. Was that story so irresistible as to compel them to read it, or was it merely fascinating, captivating or engaging? I’d love to know.

    What do you think?

    Do you struggling with coming up with fresh and new words to describe the books you read so that your reviews don’t sound stale or redundant? Do you find yourself using a word outside of your comfort zone simply to make it stand out from other reviews?

    Do you have a hard time using certain words like engrossing, titillating, arousing or provocative because they bring to mind other things than what their definitions actually mean?

    Do you vary your reads just so that you can use different words in your reviews? Or do you not worry about sounding one-note because they are your sentiments and they are your reviews and you’ve come to accept the fact that there are only so many words out there?

    And what do you think about…

    The term “pulse-pounding thrill ride” has been used (some might say overused) to describe films, television shows and even books. Do you believe it when a film/tv show/book is described as such? Do you roll your eyes and laugh out loud? Do you wonder about the reviewer’s originality? Or does it entice you to see or read whatever film/tv show/book could make someone’s pulse pound and give them a ride of a lifetime?

    Just some of the many, many, many pulse-pounding thrill rides:

    • Unstoppable
    • The River Wild
    • Blow Out
    • Gravity
    • Jurassic Park
    • Lincoln
    • Sleepy Hollow (tv)
    • Interstellar
    • Goldfinger
    • Fire & Flood (book)
    • Scandal (tv)
    • Mission: Impossible III
    • Collateral
    • The film formerly known as: Edge of Tomorrow
    • Apocalypto
    • As Above, So Below
    • License to Kill
    • 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded
    • Naked City
    • Blood Rayne
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    Random Thoughts: On Being Yourself

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    It’s so easy to create an online persona that is nothing like who you really are or more like you than you’ve ever shown anyone. Online you’re somewhat anonymous. Online you have the freedom to be completely different. You can be confident, shy, snarky, sweet, clever, simple, mean, nice, pretty, plain. You can be silly. You can be serious. You can be younger. You can be older. You can create the you that you’ve always wanted to be or be the you that you’ve always hidden from everyone. Online you can slip into an identity that is a completely different version of yourself.

    But once you’ve created that online persona or brand it’s not always as easy to walk away from it. Not if you’ve put a lot of time, money and effort into developing that persona and brand.

    As a book blogger and reviewer once you’ve “created” the you that you want to be, found your reviewer’s voice and designed your blog, it’s hard to reinvent yourself when you’ve grown tired of the you that you’ve previously presented to the world. Your readers and those that you work with have expectations based upon the you that you’ve shown them.

    If you decided to be someone fun and silly or someone who tells it like it is or someone who gives a thoughtful and critical analysis of what they’ve read, changing it up, becoming someone different, is difficult. You might lose readership. You might lose professional connections. You might lose trust.

    Starting over isn’t always an option. Especially if you don’t have the time or energy to rebuild your brand or you don’t want to sacrifice all the work you’ve already put into your blog.

    But sometimes it’s the only option if you want to continue being a happy blogger.

    Maybe you were someone who liked to show your playful side online and now you’re feeling anything but whimsical. Maybe you were someone who loved to snark about everything but now find it tough to come up with the clever, witty posts that keep your readers engaged. Maybe you were someone who liked to keep things professional but you’ve gotten jealous of those bloggers that seem to have a lot more fun and take things a lot less seriously.

    Maybe you’ve outgrown the person who you used to be. Maybe you’re tired of putting on the mask you’ve been wearing.

    Being someone other than who you are in real life may seem deceptive, but is it really?

    We all have different sides to ourselves. We all have different faces we put on for the different people we interact with. We don’t act the same with friends as we do with family or with co-workers or with employers or teachers. We don’t act the same in front of those we find attractive, those we like or those we dislike.

    And we aren’t static. We are constantly reinventing ourselves. We aren’t the same people we were five, ten years ago. We don’t necessarily like the same things we once did, enjoy the same books, think the same way.

    We may not want to wear the same masks – online or offline.

    As bloggers we are constantly asked to be honest in our thoughts about the books we read. We’re asked to speak in our own voices. We’re asked to be unique and interesting. But what if our thoughts have changed or the way we wish to express them has? How can we be unique if we feel tied to the brand we developed one, two, five years ago? How can we be interesting if we’re trying to meet everyone’s expectations of us?

    How can we be ourselves if we feel tethered to the identity we created for ourselves long ago?

    The simple answer is that we can’t be.

    The identity we created for ourselves may not have been the one we showed to everyone in our offline lives but at one point it was exactly who we were and wanted to be. But if it isn’t who we are now, then we are being deceptive.

    If we haven’t modified our online selves along the way, if we’re clinging to outdated versions of ourselves, then this once better, stronger, happier, sillier, sarcastic version of us is now just like an ill-fitting pair of pants – uncomfortable and unflattering. If it’s not who we are or who we want to be, we should not still be trying to make it work.

    And yet we still hold on. Tightly. Why?

    Because we’re just as afraid now as we once were that maybe the “new” version of who we are won’t be liked. Maybe our readers will be disappointed in us. Maybe our reviews won’t be as good. Maybe our contacts will ignore us. Maybe… Maybe… Maybe.

    And maybe we won’t be liked. Maybe our readers will walk away. Maybe our reviews will be less trafficked. Maybe we’ll lose some contacts. Maybe we won’t land any “hot” tours. But…

    …maybe we will. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll find new friends and readers and contacts. Maybe those who claimed to be friends no matter what will remain our friends no matter what. Maybe this new version won’t be as surprising as we think it will be, because it is still us after all.

    We just have to be willing to take the risk. Because we have to be happy with who we are online and offline. Even if our online self is just one of the many versions of who we are.

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All reviews on this website are unbiased and reviewers are in no way compensated for their reviews by the author, publisher, or any other agencies. While some reviews may be based on receipt of ARC copies of an authors work, a fair and impartial review is always given by the reviewer. Most of the reviews, however, are based upon books purchased after publication date.