Archive for Discussion Day
A few weeks ago, I was in the worst reading slump I’d had all year. I’d barely read in weeks, and when I did it wasn’t fiction – I was stuck with cookbooks! It wasn’t that I didn’t want to read (okay, that was some of it) but nothing was appealing to me. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong that all these books I was supposedly excited about suddenly didn’t matter. So I started problem solving and asked myself what I wanted to read. All of my answers were along the lines of “something that makes me feel like I did reading Harry Potter the first time around.”
And that brings us to my question – if you had the opportunity to forget everything you know about your favorite series/book so you could experience it for the first time again, would you do it? If you would, but you could only use it once, on a single series/book, what series/book would you choose? (I haven’t quite decided if I would or not – that first time is kind of precious, you know?)
Ah, the dreaded slump! I feel like it’s a dirty word, just saying it. There are many ways to get into them. Sometimes that last book you read is SO AWESOME you can’t imagine reading anything else. Sometimes the indecision about what to read next weighs you down and it’s weeks before you choose your next book. And sometimes you just get so busy that suddenly you don’t have the energy or even feel like reading.
That’s where I am right now. I have a strong tendency to believe I can do, well, anything. The problem is when I think it too many times and end up with way too much on my plate. I’m sure we’ve all been there – if there’s a community of people that are almost all driven and overachievers, I’d say it’s book bloggers! So this week, the idea was and is to re-center myself, find my focus, and find the things that can go so I can get back to doing what I love and loving what I do – chiefly blogging!
I’ll probably still be a little MIA for a while. Once I overload myself it takes a little time for me to find that balance again. I am planning on participating in Bout of Books, but I’m choosing to not involve my blog beyond the goals post – often I find the updates more stressful than the actual event. After that, I’m hoping I’ve found my mojo again (I’ll go sit in a quiet room and have a good think to figure out where I’ve left it ;))
In the meantime, everybody take five minutes to yourself sometime this weekend. If you think you don’t have 5 minutes, take half an hour. Trust me – it’s better than accidentally forcing yourself into a slump!
I have a confession to make: I have a bit of a mental block when it comes to imagining things in books happening differently. This is especially true of “ships” – once an author has made a ship canon, I can’t see any other way for it to turn out. To me the canon of a story is kind of like the spell in Sleeping Beauty – it can be transmuted into something similar (sleep for death) but it cannot be undone. It’s kind of annoying sometimes. Often I’ll have ideas for a REALLY COOL fanfic for a favorite TV show or series and as soon as I think of it, the latest installment comes out and proves my theories entirely wrong and I have to start all over again. GEEZ!
This is a pretty serious mental block too! Remember way back before J.K. Rowling told us that
and everyone was taking bets on who would end up with who? And when Rowling finally did tell us those that lost still tried to convince people that they should have been right? I didn’t get it. It helped that I had guessed before she made the official announcement, but I honestly could not see how those who shipped the couple that lost couldn’t understand how PERFECT they were for each other! And don’t even get me started on Dra-Mione shippers!
It even applies when in real life I would know better. Twilight is a great example – My head knew that Jacob would be a better, more healthy choice for Bella, but I could tell from early on that she was going to end up with Edward no matter what I wanted, so while I was reading all I wanted was for Jacob to GO AWAY so I could get back to more of the “real” story! I wasn’t Team Edward or Team Jacob, I was TEAM STORY! I honestly can think of only one instance in which I might be shipping anti-canon. I say “might” because it’s incredibly unclear at this point and there’s only one book out – I might turn out to be right!
Please tell me I’m not alone in this? I feel borderline OCD for even admitting it! On the other hand, it does give me a little insight into why I like certain kinds of stories and mediums better – the more left “unsolved” outside of the main plot the more room my imagination is willing to work in!
This past weekend saw one of my absolute favorite blogging community events – Bloggiesta! I love it because it’s all about getting to know each other and convincing each other to do all those annoying things we’ve been putting off. When you’re frustrated that you screwed something up or got yourself so behind that it’ll take DAYS to catch up, there’s no bonding experience quite like finding someone on Twitter who is having the exact same problem. It’s incredible amounts of fun no matter how much you get done or time you put in.
But this time, I got a lot of comments in a similar vein – several people said they were impressed with how organized I am! I thanked them, of course, but inside I was doing one of these: o.O.O.O.O.o *looks around the room* “Who ME? Organized? HA! You want organized, you go look at Amanda @ On a Book Bender. THAT’S what organized looks like!”
I spent a lot of time wondering why people would think me organized before I realized that “organized” is just as subjective a word as “beautiful” even though we don’t treat it that way. In most cases, there is no such thing as “more” or “less” organized, just “differently” organized. For example, my own father treats the floor of his study as a big flat filing cabinet – but don’t you dare touch any of the papers, because he knows exactly where each one is!
I would say my particular brand of organized is lists. I could make lists all day. I make lists of things I need to do, lists of ideas I had, lists of all the THINGS related with each project I’m working on – Heck, I make lists of LISTS! You want a list made, I’m your gal! The problem (and the reason I think I’m so disorganized) is I tend to make lists so big that I don’t even manage to cross off half the things on them. I make a list and then start on it… and then remember 5 more things I need to add to it before I’ve even finished 1!
To some people, though, my obsessive list making probably looks organized. And to an extent, I’ve learned some tricks to help it actually be that way – each time I make a list, I make it a goal to get a higher percentage of that list crossed off before I have to throw it away to make way for the next list. So, if you like my system and think it would work for you, by all means go ahead and try it! I will not stop you! If you figure out how to use it to get you ahead in life, let me know – I still haven’t managed to dig myself out of being “behind” (which is also a pretty subjective term, but a discussion for another day). Otherwise, stick with your system. You know what works for you. And that’s the best kind of organization of all.
I have a confession to make, and it’s probably going to make me sound like a terrible person. Please, no judging?
I’ve always maintained that I don’t particularly like contemps. Judging by the stats of my reading, it looks like that’s true – I probably read one contemporary for every 20 or so sci-fi or fantasy novels. I kind of treat it like the apple-a-day theory (or maybe the medieval “bathe once a month whether you need it or not” thing) – every once in a while I feel like I really should read something that doesn’t have magic or super-machines in it, just for the looks of things, so I pull a contemp off my list, order it from the library, and then let it sit on my shelves for at least three weeks before I realize it’s due in a week so I’d better start it and THEN force myself to crack the spine. It’s a sad, sad vicious cycle.
But the truth is, not all of these contemps are that difficult to get through. There are some (Anna and the French Kiss, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares) that I zip through like candy. Seriously, I finished Anna in about 2 hours and that thing is almost 400 pages long! (I’m estimating, but I took it on a 4 hour car ride and read it and one other book before we arrived.) I absolutely love happy books like that – the chick flicks of the book world!
So I realized, what I “don’t like” about contemps really only applies to the sad ones. You know, the ones where they fall in love and then she tells him she is dying from leukemia. The ones where they’re stuck in a hostage situation, and you just know there’s no way both will come out alive. Even the ones where it’s about the main character learning to deal with another character’s death, or leaving, or what have you. I just don’t want to be sad, so I don’t want to read it.
That’s the part that makes me feel like a bad person. Those “sad” books are often the most profound. Take for example, The Fault in our Stars or Second Chance Summer. Both have incredibly poignant, important messages (yes, I have read both of them). Both are beautifully written and important books to read. They were “good for me” and I do think they were good books. But did I like them? Did I enjoy reading them? Not really. (I know, I can see the firing squad lining up from here.)
Is it so wrong of me to not want to be sad? I read as an escape from real life. I read to make myself feel better. Why would I choose to read a book that I know is going to make me cry? Also, am I the only one? So many book bloggers love love LOVE contemp novels that I’ve kind of been afraid to admit this.
The problem, then, is that I paint ALL contemps with that brush, and sometimes, when I want to read a fluffy chick-lit contemp I can’t find one. (And let me tell you, sometimes I crave that kind of fluff like it’s crack!) So, here’s where I’m asking for your help. Many of you love contemps, and you read them all the time. How do you tell the difference between a somebody-dies-at-the-end contemp and a happily-ever-after contemp? Do you have favorite happy contemps that you could recommend to me?
After the fiasco that was last week’s discussion post (which it turned out NOT to be, thanks to you guys! The comments last week ROCKED!) I started thinking – do you prefer to schedule your discussion posts in advance, or do you like to write them just a few days ahead of time?
So far, I’ve mostly been a pants-er: I wait until a day or two before the discussion is supposed to go up, pick a topic that’s currently on my mind and sit down to bang out a few hundred words as fast as possible. Unfortunately this strategy has bitten me in the butt a few too many times – I’ll either not get anything ready and therefore not have a post or have a mental meltdown and end up with something like last week. I’d like to get around that, and my best idea is schedule my discussions ahead of time too.
It’s not a bad idea. I’m all for scheduling ahead on most things. I usually have my features scheduled at least a month ahead (unless it’s toward the end of the month… I’m lazy!) and I schedule reviews ahead whenever I can. But with discussion posts, I kind of like to have my topics be something that I’ve been thinking about recently. For me, discussion posts are the ones to really get excited about, no matter the topic, and it’s harder to get excited when I’m getting comments and saying to myself “now what did I schedule a month ago to post for today?”
So, I’m curious. Do you schedule your discussion posts ahead? If so, how far? Do you have to remind yourself each week what you posted, or do you get just as excited no matter if your topic is 2 months old (for you) or not?
I had every intention of writing a deep, meaningful discussion post for today. I absolutely adore discussion posts, and usually cannot keep myself from spewing word vomit all over my computer (at least in the first draft. Don’t worry, I edit most of that out.) So, I sat down and looked at my handy-dandy list of possible topics… and couldn’t focus. Nothing was interesting, though when I wrote them down I clearly thought they were all interesting enough. I tried to brainstorm some new ones… and nothing still. That’s not like me. I’m an ideas kind of person – I may not be great at follow through, but I love brainstorming ideas! Clearly, something is wrong.
Let me back up a little. I’m in a kind of transition period, hoping to go back to the school in the fall. I’ve sent in all my materials and at this point I’m waiting for decisions of various kinds – acceptance, assistanceships, you name it. And in the midst of all this, I got an email last Friday asking if I had any questions about a letter that I “should have already received.” As of writing this, I haven’t gotten it yet. At first I thought it wasn’t a big deal – the mail can be slow sometimes, so it would probably show up soon.
A few days passed. Then a few more. By now, I’m getting really nervous. From the email, I would guess this letter contained important information. As in, life direction changing information. The kind of information that you’d rather not know was coming because that only makes it harder to wait. What if they mis-typed my address (a fairly common problem for us, though usually it finds its way here anyway)? What if, heaven forbid, it got LOST IN THE MAIL?! Oh God, my future was shredded by a mail sorter! *whimpers in the corner*
So you see, I’m not really in a fit state to discuss things. In the past day or so, I have: read a few pages of a book, crocheted a doily, read a few more pages, trawled Pinterest for a few hours, watched a TV show (giving up on my Star Trek of the past few weeks for something “lighter” – hard to get much lighter than 80s/90s sci-fi, but it’s what my brain could handle), went on a spending spree on my Nook (I bought several cheap eBooks that I know will likely never read, simply because I don’t have time for everything), and read a few pages more. None of that requires much brain function, and the things that did, I didn’t stick to for long. I have four or five different books started and none of them are holding my interest because I can’t concentrate long enough to get anywhere. This whole thing is taking up WAY MORE energy than it should, but I don’t know how to stop it!
Seriously, what I wouldn’t give for THIS, instead of my current problem.
I’m sorry. I know this makes me a bad blogger. But for the moment, this is all I’ve got.
Have you ever been in a situation where something happens and you suddenly don’t want to do anything?
Edit: Of course, I write this post and the very next day I get ALL THE MAIL. Thank you, Murphy. *sarcasm*
Is anyone else a little OCD about book covers and/or editions?
I know I’ve said many times before that I prefer paperbacks to hardbacks, and there are lots of reasons for that, but one of the major ones is my near OCD need to have all my covers match. If I start by buying the hardback, I must buy the rest of the series in hardback to complete the series – to switch to paperback halfway through makes my teeth itch just thinking about it! Same goes for paperback versus mass market paperback size – I accidentally bought the regular paperback of a series I already have 2 in mass-market size, and I cringe every time I look at that shelf! Is that bad? (Yes. Yes it is. I know.)
The thing that drives me nuts the most, though? Different cover styles! If I start buying a series with the original cover set, I want to be able to FINISH buying in that set, no matter which I like better. For example, I started buying the Abhorsen series FOREVER ago with the cover on the left. Pretty cool with the demon and the bells, right?
The cover on the right is the second book in the series, with the re-release cover. Talk about COOL! I love the fire-y character on the plain black background! They’ve re-released all of the covers in the new style and I think they’re so gorgeous with their simplicity. And really, both covers are appropriate. The originals feature the main character of each book, usually along with the tools of their trade (the bells, the book/pipes/etc.) and the new ones feature the glyphs that are often described as the conduits of magic. But, because I started buying with the old series, it almost hurts to think of buying one of the newer ones. Nevermind that it takes twice as long to track down a new (or at least like-new – true new copies of the original covers aren’t available anymore) copy to buy. It wouldn’t MATCH!
I know this seems like a real first-world problem, and I’m just being silly. But, seriously, I’ve got it bad. I have seriously considered buying second copies of books that I bought “wrong” the first time and giving the first one to Paperbackswap or a used bookstore. Considering I don’t spend money unless I absolutely have to, that’s saying something!
Does anybody else have this problem? Please tell me I’m not alone!
I have a confession to make – I am REALLY BAD at spending money spontaneously. I get it from my dad, though I’m not nearly so bad as him – he’s been doing “research” on buying a new car for TWO YEARS now and they still haven’t test-driven anything! I can spend weeks thinking on something, weighing the pros and cons and researching all my options and prices before I finally make a decision. And some of doing research is finding out what others in a similar position think. So today, I want to know what you think about business cards.
For me, it’s weird to think of getting business cards for something that is a hobby. I’m not trying to sell my website or any sort of product. But, then again, more and more recently I’ve wished I had them to at least show someone – it’s more legit if I have snazzy business cards, right? I guess I just have a really old-fashioned idea of what business cards are for – perhaps I should call them calling cards instead? Or, maybe I should consider bookmarks! That sounds much more like something that a) would go with a book blog, and b) I would use! Then again, the main difference between a bookmark and a business card is the size/shape, and the price. Which brings me back to the business card.
My main concern, though, no matter what I get, is whether I would use it. I am in the unfortunate position of being nowhere near any place big enough to host events – I’ve been to ONE author event in my lifetime, and that was before blogging. I don’t have the money to attend conferences at this point, and there aren’t any other bloggers near me. The two main ways I could see myself using business cards/bookmarks are either leaving a stack at the check-out desk at the two local libraries, and seeding my favorite books with them when I return them hoping the next reader will find them. Is it really worth it? If you have business cards, what are some other things you use them for?
And finally, I was wondering, do any of you have recommendations for designers? I know essentially what I want, and it’s fairly simple – if I had ANY design skills I might be able to do it myself and just go get them run off at Staples. On the other side, is there anyone you would warn me away from?
Last week there were three interesting discussions posted around the blogosphere, each with a different take on community. The first I read was on Fiktshun, and it was called “Blogosphere or Battleground.” It talked about how book blogging has become such a big thing that there are sort of two sides to blogging – those that blog as a business, and those that don’t. She argued that bloggers either a) are incredibly successful, b) wish they were incredibly successful and therefore treat blogging sort of like a cut-throat business or c) the people in between, who blog because they love it and kind of get stepped on because they’re too nice. (This is an oversimplification. You really should go read the article in full.) While I’ve seen evidence of this division and I know it exists, having it laid out in those terms was really depressing to me. I would place myself in the third category – I don’t care about getting the latest releases and ARCs, and I’m happy with my own little corner of the internet. I don’t mind if your blog has 50 subscribers or 5,000. As long as you’re nice, I’ll be nice to you (this is generally my philosophy in life too). It saddened and scared me to read that bloggers that share my attitude are sometimes more likely to be plagiarized, caught in the crossfire and/or “forced” to quit. I love my little blog, and I never want to go through any of that – and I hate thinking this, but there are some situations that could potentially make me dislike blogging enough to quit. In fact, every time major drama surfaces, I get a sour feeling in the pit of my stomach and I wonder if it really is worth it.
Then, later in the week, I read this post by Mary (The Book Swarm). In the midst of all the DRAMA going on, she took time to write down why she loves blogging. Why she keeps doing it, and her “rules” for keeping it fun. Suddenly I felt so much better. There are so many reasons to love blogging. I pretty much agree with Mary’s reasons, though some of them are a bigger deal for me than others. But frankly, I don’t know what I would do without a place to rant and rave about the books I read. I REALLY don’t know what I’d do without my blogging buddies. I love all my commenters and readers of course, but there are those of you out there who have kept me going through everything. They keep me sane when real life is driving me nuts, and they celebrate with me when things are going well. That’s why I do it and every so often, especially in times of extreme drama, I need reminding of that. And since I sometimes need reminding, I’m betting I don’t thank you guys often enough. So THANK YOU. No matter who you are, and how big of a part you played, I do it for you.
I’ll leave you with one last thought. The third article was by Amanda (On a Book Bender) on her business blog. While most of the article was about building community there was one phrase that really stuck with me.
“And here’s my secret: community is wherever you are.”
Here was me thinking that I was on the fringes of the community, with my own little corner and doing my own little thing, and the truth is I have a community. I’ve never been one for big crowds, so of course I wasn’t going to have a huge community. But my followers, my friends are my community. And that’s all I really need.