YAckers discuss Unspoken, upcoming Bloggiesta

unspoken by sarah rees brennan

My time as Keeper of the Book this month at YAckers resulted in a lively discussion of Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan. You can check it out over here. I will be writing up my own review and posting it up here soon.

Next month’s book is Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick. This is the second book of a series so I have to get cracking and read the first one (horror? meep). In the meantime, we’re offering up copies of Shadows to followers of the blog (there’s two books up for grabs: one for US, one for UK). For more details, check out the YAckers blog.

Bloggiesta is back again. This is an event hosted this year by There’s a Book and It’s All About Books. It’s an event where book bloggers work on their blog related “To Do” lists. I like to join when I can because it gives me some motivation. Once I put up my list of “To Do’s” on the Internet, I feel more accountable for actually doing them. Here’s what I want to do to improve this blog:

  • Work on my About page and my Review policy
  • Update my Review Index
  • Put more of my reviews on goodreads
  • Catch up on my reviews (I have 5 reviews to write)

For anyone else interested, Bloggiesta is September 28-30th, is very loose on what you have to do (you can do as much or as little as you want), and sign up is here.


Bloggiesta Wrap-up

This year I felt like I got more done for Bloggiesta, although it possibly doesn’t look like it when you take a look at this blog, I did a lot!

All in all, I’m very happy with this Bloggiesta. There is still a lot I want to do with the blog, but I feel like this event kick-started my actually doing those things. So it was a successful weekend!

#Bloggiesta: Goodreads Challenge

For Bloggiesta, I’m hosting a mini-challenge which is about Goodreads. In my mind the reason why this site is pretty popular is because it has a lot of functionality and it has a social media aspect – you can follow what your friends are reading and comment as they read along. As a book blogger, you want to be able to network with readers. That’s my argument for being on Goodreads. 🙂

(My Goodreads profile)

To make things simple, my challenge has two levels – one for first timers and one for old timers. (If you have any questions – email me or leave a comment below)

* * * * *

FIRST TIMERS – If you don’t have a Goodreads account – create one! This is very straightforward: just go to goodreads.com and create an account with a name, email, and password. I found this youtube video that gives a great overview of signing up and using Goodreads to help you go through the steps, and, if you want to do a little more, it explains how to enter a review (you more likely than not don’t need to watch a video to figure it out, but it’s still nice to have the tutorial if you need it).

When you create your account, comment with a link to your Goodreads page!

* * * * *

OLD TIMERS Below is a list of some tips and tricks I’ve learned over years from using the site. These aren’t that secret, but I’ve found them useful.

Your challenge:

  • Leave a comment with a tip or trick of your own OR
  • Tell me what you’ve done for Bloggiesta that involves Goodreads (did you put some of your reviews up there, linked your Goodreads account to your blog, or added a Goodreads widget to your sidebar?)

I encourage you to leave a link your Goodreads account too! This way bloggiesta participants can find and add one another if they want. 🙂

1. Hiding spoilers
This is done by using the <spoiler> OMG, IT WAS THE BUTLER! </spoiler> tags. You can use this in your review, and you can put them in comments to other people’s status updates. Very nice when I’m having a readalong and don’t want to spoil someone that hasn’t read the book. But they don’t work in status updates, so I hide my spoilers in comments now that I discovered that.

Goodreads also allows other formatting (images, strikethroughs, links, etc).

2. General status updates
So above when I talked about status update, I meant when you’ve got a book on your currently reading queue and you click the link to update what page you’re on and what you have to say. Like so:

But did you know you could post a general status update, like say, link to your latest blog post on Goodreads? You just use the “add general status” link which is in the same area! It took me forever to figure this out!

3. Switching from page to percent and back
So along the same lines, it wasn’t obvious that you can switch if you want to record your reading progress in % or number of pages. The word “page” and the “%” character are links.

4. Other thoughts and suggestions

  • Have a link to your blog in your Goodreads profile.
  • Have a link to to your Goodreads in your blog.
  • If you like someone’s review, click “like” next to it in Goodreads. It helps raise it up to the top of the page for that book. That’s the kind of thing that gives someone a skip in their step.
  • Consider going into your account profile and into your email tab and make sure to select or deselect what you want to get emails for. Personally, I removed myself from getting newsletter emails and group updates because I was getting too many emails there, but I asked Goodreads to email me about pretty much everything else.
  • Consider getting the iPhone or Android Goodreads app. I have the Android app on my nook tablet, and I really like it for reading the status updates of my top friends. I don’t love it for adding books though – a little more complicated.
  • As with all social media, it’s about making genuine connections. So keep that in mind when you use the site. And have fun!

I also asked people on twitter about their tips or tricks and I got a couple of responses:

Improving the blog – Bloggiesta is back

It’s spring, time for change. I have recently changed my wordpress theme and changed my blog background (and I changed my sidebars) to be a little less busy. I wanted my posts to be easier to read for people. I hope that’s the case. A small part of me wants it to be busier. You don’t know how much. We’ll see how long I can stand holding myself back.

Some readers may have also noticed yesterday that I’ve mapped my domain name to specficromantic.com. This is a domain I have owned for a while now, but I was on the fence on using. I finally decided to use it because if you saw the website link, you’d have an idea what the link was taking you to versus “janicu.com” 🙂 (I really hemmed and hawed over that one. I also own janicu, that’s how much I debated. It’s set to forward here).

No need to update your RSS feed if you were pointed at janicu.wordpress.com/feed, but I have also FINALLY set up a feedburner feed too. Reason for that one is that I think it gives more choices for people to subscribe.

Also I’ve signed up for Bloggiesta in March:

“Bloggiesta is a three day event where participants will spend as much time as they can working on fixing all those pesky blog related tasks…. all those things that you think “some day I’m going to clean that up, or change that around, or add that thing!” Everyone will post a “to do” list, or goals they want to accomplish and then all of us will work together to get our lists done.”

On my list:

  • putting my reviews up on Goodreads
  • updating my review index
  • Perhaps catch up with my reviews and other posts I wanted to post
  • Also hoping to host a challenge this time.

I hope it happens. Time management is tough for me because work is Craaaazy again.

Bloggiesta progress — distracted but not a total loss

When Bloggiesta #4 was announced I figured that since my weekends are usually lacking in plans, the weekend from the 21st to the 23rd of January would be free. Secure in my not-much-social-life, I signed up with Mr. Linky. Of course, weeks after this, my brother tells me he’s coming to NY for a wedding and plans to crash at my place. This was still not a problem for Bloggiest because dear brother said he was going into the city most of the weekend. Sounded like I’d just see him at night.. great, I can still do Bloggiesta!

My first indication that my weekend plans would not be as I expected happened when the brother called on friday. First of all, the flight was later than he initially told me, so instead of taking the train to our place, he wanted me to pick him up at JFK (easily the WORST AIRPORT in North America to have to drive to).  So. After work on friday, I spent all of an hour improving my blog before I had to drive to @&#&@ing JFK. By the time we got home it was about 10pm. I worked for another 20 minutes on the blog, but that was about it.

Then on Saturday, instead of running off to the city with his girlfriend, the bother brother asked if we could all go into NYC together and check out the Natural History Museum.

These are my brother’s pictures. I am the responsible one in my family.*cough*.

Anyway, silly times were had and also brunch was eaten (quite a good Eggs Benedict), but no Bloggiesta was happening.

I left the city early but got home around 6pm. I worked on Bloggiesta again for an hour or two, but around 8:30, the brother and his girl called to be picked up at the train station. As soon as we did the pick up at the train station became a munchie run to the White Castle in Yonkers.

This led to:

I deeply regretted eating as much as I did right after eating it.

OK, I STILL pulled my laces up and worked on my blog after this! This deserves credit I say! We went to bed at 1am. I worked for an hour.

What I’ve done so far:

  • I’ve created a wishlist 2011 page on the wordpress blog. I also created a wishlists parent page which explains what the wishlists are, and now the child wishlists from 2009 onwards are dropdown from that parent page.
  • On the livejournal blog I updated all the broken image links that happened when vox went down (vox is where this blog originally resided and where my images were hosted until I ported everything to wordpress at the end of last year). In the past 2 days I managed to edit ALL the posts from August 2008 to May 2007 and fixed all the links. Very tedious and I kept sighing deeply. I’m glad it’s over.

What I’d still like to do:

  • Work on my About page
  • Work on a review

I didn’t really have huge goals for Bloggiesta and I’m pretty happy with what I’ve done so far, particularly when I’ve been multitasking. I also had a lot of fun reading through my old entries from the first year of having this book blog. My voice has changed a lot — my first reviews had a more enthusiastic, off-the-cuff voice and now I think my reviews are more formal and diplomatic. My reviewing has definitely evolved. There are some reviews I did that I wish I worked more on (I have a bunch of reviews when I first started where I just started using bullets), or was less snarky. I also forgot that when I first began this blog I rated the books on a scale of 1 to 10. There are quite a few reviews I reread and quite liked though. Like my review of Liz Berry’s Easy Connections and Easy Freedom. And my review of Sherry Thomas’ Private Arrangements which makes me laugh a little bit now. I was obsessed with the hero and heroine being apart for 10 years.

Improving the blog – Bloggiesta

This weekend is the 4th edition of Bloggiesta, hosted at Maw Books Blog, and I’ve signed up! What is Bloggiesta? From Maw Books Blog, it is: “ a blogging marathon.  A opportunity to cross those nagging items off of your to-do list and improve your blog while in the good company of other awesome bloggers doing the same thing.”

I’ve already been working on my blog layout on wordpress, but I plan to do a little more. Working on my about page and updating my wishlist pages are up there in the to-do list as well as continue to fix the images on my livejournal. I’ll probably also work on new blog posts while I’m at it. I’ve been sick for about 3 weeks now, so the posting here hasn’t been as consistent as I’d like. Hopefully I’ll have plenty of time to do Bloggiesta – my brother is coming to visit this weekend, but he will be going into NYC most of the time so I don’t expect to be playing host too much.

While I’m at it — anything you’d like to see on this blog? Suggestions (constructive ones please) are welcome!