Treasure Hunt: My love affair with typewriters…

Much as I like owning a Rolls-Royce, I could do without it. What I could not do without is a typewriter, a supply of yellow second sheets, and the time to put them to good use.

~ John O’Hara

I have always loved typewriters.  Even as a young girl, I would admire them in antique stores (and in some cases, museums), where my parents would find themselves enthralled with a wonderful table, a great print, or sometimes, a rare baseball card.

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The Obligatory (but awesome) New Year’s Post

Can you believe it’s New Year’s already? I sure can’t. It seems like the year just flew by this time, doesn’t it? And actually, before I go any further, I could not believe the amount of “doomsday”-themed graphics for the year “2012″ when I went looking for a graphic. Of course, if it turns out to be right, I’m going to feel totally stupid.

Anyhoo.

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Bookish Girl News: I’m featured on Scene of the Blog!

A couple of months ago, I got a lovely email from Cathy at Kittling: Books, asking if I’d like to be featured in her “Scene of the Blog” series.

Never heard of it? Let me fill you in!

The idea behind this feature is to allow people to get to know their favorite (or discover) bloggers on a more personal level by seeing what their work environment is like. As most people will tell you, spaces like the place you write (or do any other job) can say a lot about you. I thought this was an awesome idea and was flattered that she thought to ask me to participate.

So I took a couple of pictures and wrote a little something about the spaces that I tend to blog from, and sent them off for her to schedule me in.  Today is my feature!

Head on over to Kittling: Books to check out the lovely post she’s written for me and my little blog. To any of you who have come on over here from Kittling…welcome! It’s nice to have you! Feel free to leave any comment you’d like, and I will do my level best to respond in a timely fashion.

Thanks again for featuring me, Cathy!

Read-a-long: Anna Karenina

Over the next few months, I will be participating in a Read-a-Long hosted by Wallace at Unputdownables.net. :)

We’ll dive right into Anna Karenina, a book that I have been wanting to read for years, but I hadn’t had the guts to jump in with both feet until now. If you are interested in joining us for this read-a-long, head on over to Unputdownables by clicking on the above picture and check it out.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a book blogger to participate. Just leave a comment on the sign-up post, pick up a copy of the book for yourself and you’re on your way!

The book will be read in small increments to make it a little easier for everyone to handle, as the planned reading pace for this is about 8-9 pages per day (over a 12 week span in all). There will be weekly discussion posts put up each Friday at Unputdownables.net to foster discussion of the book between all the participants, and I am likely to follow those discussions up with my own take on here from time to time.

I’m really looking forward to it, and I hope a few of you join us!

Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2011: Blogging Advice

Once again, from the Book Blogger Appreciation Week website:

The world of blogging is continually changing. Share three things that are essential tried and true practices for every blogger, and 1-3 trends or tools that you have adopted recently.

Sort of like my post from Wednesday of this week, I don’t feel like I’m in much of a position to give advice on blogging.  However, here are some things that I strive to do (and have noticed on blogs that I like and read regularly):

1. Consistency

Whether it’s in style, focus or just plain regular posting – consistency is the blogger’s best friend. Posting regularly tends to be the biggest culprit for me personally. I discovered that if I wanted to have any kind of audience, large or small, people wouldn’t come back on a regular basis when I posted twice a year.

Nobody says you have to post every single day, or even once a week. If you can post once a month, then do that. Just try to establish some kind of pattern. I am one of the greatest violators of this, although I’m getting much better.

Understand, I’m not advocating posting for posting’s sake. But even if you aren’t ready to review your latest read, chances are there is something that you can talk about. Memes are great for that (Waiting on Wednesday, In My Mailbox, Friday Reads…just to name a few). I admit that memes aren’t really my thing, but I can see the value of having something to write about on a consistent basis.

2. Be Yourself

This can apply to bloggers who focus on any topic really. Whether you’re dispensing dating advice or reviewing books, you should always be yourself.

It can be overwhelming when you start blogging and make connections with other bloggers. Just like parents everywhere will tell you, everyone has an opinion on what the “right way” is. I have found that I take advice where I can get it, and adapt it for my own use. Case in point: I don’t generally participate in memes, and I have no intention (as of right now anyway) of hosting giveaways. Lots of bloggers do participate in weekly memes and do giveaways…but for me…it’s not who I am. And that’s okay. Don’t be afraid to tweak trends in a way that is comfortable for you. Don’t ever let someone bully you into doing something that doesn’t fit your personality. Chances are, the person pressuring you into something that you don’t think fits you has the best of intentions at heart. Just take the compliment that they care enough to want to help you, but stand your ground and do what is best for you.

3. Believe in yourself

This seems kind of off the tracks, but hear me out.

When I had the chance at a pretty big interview last summer, I had a bit of a crisis leading up to it. I kept thinking: Why would they want me to do this interview? What business to I have interviewing this person?! You know what? That was a bunch of crap I was telling myself. I quickly turned around and thought – Why the hell not? :)

I have other friends who blog (not about books) and they have expressed similar self-doubt. Sure, if you think about it too much, you can easily psych yourself out. I try to not think about it when I write for this blog. I come from a place where I’m assuming that pretty much nobody is reading this. I write reviews for other people, but I write other drivel for me. It’s…freeing. I feel like I have something to say…so I go ahead and say it. Of course, I haven’t had any swearing-like-a-sailor trolls comment yet, so maybe my tune will change a bit when that happens. But in the meantime, I will continue to review books and write about travel, stupid things that I do, and my everlasting hatred of Amazon. I am grateful to have the support of tens of readers. :)

So go out there and enjoy writing about the genres, authors, books, and interests that please you. Chances are, there is someone out there who will share your opinion, sometimes disagree with you,  but will ultimately appreciate you for you.

Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2011: Community, Part 2

From the Book Blogger Appreciation website:

The world of book blogging has grown enormously and sometimes it can be hard to find a place. Share your tips for finding and keeping community in book blogging despite the hectic demands made on your time and the overwhelming number of blogs out there. If you’re struggling with finding a community, share your concerns and explain what you’re looking for – this is the week to connect!

I have to admit, unlike the community post from Monday, this one is a little more tricky for me to come up with.  While I feel part of the larger community of book bloggers, I haven’t exactly been active in it locally.  I have made attempts here and there, but more often than not, some other thing comes up and I end up either augmenting my original plans or having to bail out altogether.

I kind of chalk it up to a combination of bad luck, and my own difficulty connecting with people over the last couple of years. To the credit of some great bloggers located in my geographical area, I don’t feel alone. In fact, they still invite me to gatherings and such when I show the interest. Although the timing has yet to really work for me, they keep trying, and I am grateful for that effort.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I have connected with quite a few bloggers who are decidedly out of my geographical area. I have connected to bloggers who live in Utah, New Mexico, London, Germany, various locales on the East Coast of the U.S., and other places I’m blanking on at the moment. These online connections are as strong as the ones that I have begun to form with those that are actually located here in California.

As a result, I don’t feel as though I’m struggling to find a place for myself. What I seem to struggle with most is finding the time to connect with bloggers in my local area on a more personal level, and on an embarrassing note…making time to simply read.

So as far as advice goes, I am probably not in the best position to give any. All I can say is that if a blogger who is struggling to find a place for themselves is reading this – I have found that it can literally take as little as responding to a few tweets to get the ball rolling.  In fact, every single blogger (and yes, I do mean EVERY SINGLE ONE) that I have made any kind of slim connection with is entirely attributable to my use of twitter. Those initial “conversations” have led to chats online and off, and the formation of a few friendships.

Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2011: Community

For those that may not know, this is the fourth year of  Book Bloggers Appreciation Week; a time of year where the vast community of book bloggers honor each other’s writing, style and creativity.  There are awards given in a variety of categories, and a few other events happen during the week to encourage the discovery of bloggers you may not know yet.

It may seem strange to some of you non-bloggers out there, but the sense of community among us book bloggers is strong indeed. I am only intermittently involved, but I don’t feel any less a part of it. The only thing I can say there is that I can be a bit shy (shocking, I know).

Despite my shyness, I can tell you from personal experience that these virtual connections have sustained me in some very dark times, as well as in some very happy times. The best part is – many of them don’t even know that. They’re just there. That’s the best thing about being part of this community. They entertain and inspire me, without even realizing it.

Sure, I could easily wax poetic on various bloggers that I read regularly. But I don’t think anyone wants to read a too-long post…and I don’t have the time to write one. What I can do is this – see that column on the right side of this site? The one titled “Fave Book Bloggers“? Every single blogger on there is well worth a visit. They have all had an influence on me, and I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now without them.

Mission Accomplished!

Well, thanks to Julie at Blogger Boutique, I have a beautiful new banner!

As I announced on my old blog yesterday, by the end of the business day today (for me, 5:00pm Pacific time), my old blog will officially be shut down.  It’s a little bittersweet. But I have all the aesthetic stuff finally finished here, menus working the way that I want them to, and my banner was the final piece of the puzzle. I’m happy and relieved to be finished with all my set-up, and now I can focus on other things for the blog!

For those of you in the U.S., enjoy the Labor Day holiday weekend. I’ll be back next week with an announcement of a new project that’s been on the back burner for about a year.

A Letter to Audiobooks

Dear Audiobooks,

While I have enjoyed our rapport as acquaintances, I think I may have to end things with you.  You see, it’s not you. It really is me.

While that might sound a little too cliché for words, I don’t think that there is any better way to explain why I cannot see you anymore.

You want (and deserve) my full attention. Whether I’m walking, driving, or taking care of various chores, you deserve to know that through my activity I am listening. The trouble is, I cannot seem to do that.

I thought that it would help if I made the effort to stop moving, sit down in a comfy chair and simply listen. But as you know from the unfortunate incident last Thursday, that often ends with me taking an unscheduled nap.

I think I don’t have the proper focus to concentrate on listening to you. Sure, you might try to dazzle me with celebrity readers. You might even try to add in sound effects to draw me into your story. I think I have a strange immunity to those kinds of tactics.

I, like most people in my situation, blame my childhood. I enjoyed my teachers reading to me in kindergarten. But they often would read to me right before nap time. I just don’t know.

The thing is, I should be able to enjoy your company. I figured that I enjoy listening to stories that my friends and family tell me, why not you? I’m at a total loss.

In any case, I think we need to part ways. At least for now. Maybe I need to mature. Or maybe I just keep picking the wrong titles. But that isn’t your fault. I will keep an open mind for later on in my life. For now, I will move right along. No hard feelings, I promise.

Fondly,

Reese

P.S. Please make sure that our buddy iTunes stops sending me emails about this.

Twitter Blues: Updated Review Policy

Funny, I had planned on doing a post all about how much I love twitter, and what it has brought to me.

Instead, my positive sentiments have been reduced to simply stating that twitter opened up a whole world to me. If it wasn’t for twitter, I would never have come into contact with a large community of book bloggers, writers I admire, and a whole host of people in the publishing industry who have been incredibly kind.

Just in the last week, a troubling pattern has emerged.

For some reason, I have been increasingly followed by authors on twitter, who then turn around and spam me with tweets containing little more than “check out my book“, followed by a link to their listing on Amazon or their author bio on their personal website.

Normally, I would not even attempt to address this. I would continue my usual response of simply reporting that person for spam and moving right along.

But last week, I read this “Open Letter to (Bad) Publicists and (Uninformed) Authors” by Jessica Lawlor. I was hoping that I could avoid feeling like I needed to change my review policy. Unfortunately, over the last few days, I have gotten more spam on twitter than I care to admit to. Sure, I have a bit of a habit of calling out spammers there. Even so, I only mention a fraction of what I get.

I have now updated my Review Policy to include a note regarding submissions (if they can even be called that) sent to me on twitter. If you’d rather not read the whole note (which is not long), I’ll make it easy for you.

I do not take requests for review via twitter. Ever.

Thanks for reading this, and I promise I will have something more fun to post in the next day or so. :)

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