Tag Archives: Challenge

Book Blogger Organization Challenge: May 2015


book_blogger_organization_challenge

Welcome to the Book Blogger Organization Challenge!

If you haven’t heard of this challenge and are interested in finding out more, check out the intro post! But basically the concept is simple: Whether you want to dedicate a lot of time to this challenge or a little, I’m here to help you get organized and work on blog maintenance in 2015! Everything is broken down month-by-month so you only have to focus on ONE idea at a time. January seemed to kick us off GREAT! Let’s get ready for May!

MAY 2015 ORGANIZATION CHALLENGE
Spring cleaning!

Okay, let’s talk spring cleaning for May! I actually happened to tackle a bunch of this stuff in April simply because my blogoversary was last month and the giveaways helped clean off my shelves. But May is spring cleaning of all sorts! Books, catching up on things, reading borrowed/gifted books… Now’s the time!

CULLING

  • Epic book culling! Okay, maybe it’s not epic, but maybe your shelves need a bit of spring cleaning. Maybe you have some books on your shelves that you bought/won/requested and you know that you won’t read. Ponder what you want to do with them this month! Hannah from So Obsessed With wrote a great post on culling & a handy set of questions to ask yourself to decide if you want to keep those books or pass on them!
  • What can I do with the books I don’t want? Not everyone can afford to do a giveaway for the books they don’t want to keep (honestly. I went to the PO the other day and it was lots o’ money) but you don’t have to! Aside from hosting a giveaway you can:
    • Sell them to a used book store
    • Donate them to Goodwill/charity
    • See if your library is accepting donations
    • Post them on the YA Book Exchange
    • See if anyone using Have You Seen This needs something you have and wants to trade
    • Ask your friends if they want any
    • See if local schools are in need
    • Peruse other swap sites like Paperback Swap or Book Mooch
    • Put them up for sale on Half.com (But don’t sell your ARCs!!! (of course))
  • Culling doesn’t have to stop at physical shelves either… Did you participate in a previous month where you cleaned up your Goodreads shelves? Is it time to go through your TBR and part with a few? I know I need to go back and delete some series that I had added, books I just lost interest in, or things I had added on whim that I knew I would really read. I’m sure a smaller TBR will make you feel better too!

CATCHING UP ON BOOKS THAT YOU DIDN’T BUY/REQUEST

  • Books Received As Gifts: If you have amazing bookish BFFs or family who knows you very well, chances are you get books as gifts… a LOT. So how many of those books have you read? How many gifted books sit unread on your shelves? I’m not saying read them ALL right away, but maybe pick a couple to try to work on! It’ll make your gifters so happy too!
  • ARC catch-up: Story of our lives, right? But hey, always time to work on some ARC catch up! Take May to consider what you’ll really read — whether before pub date or maybe even at all. If you think you won’t read it soon, pass them along!
  • Borrowed Books: If you’re [a terrible person] like me, you still have books that you borrowed from your friends (*cough*years ago*cough*) and haven’t read them yet. I’m going to make a valid attempt to return these books (damn you friends who keep saying “hold onto them until you read them”) or you know… actually read them. NOW’S THE TIME! Or maybe a time to attempt reading some or at least making plans to get to them soon!

MORE UPDATING AND CROSS-POSTING

  • Do you have more reviews to update? More reviews to cross-post? It’s a VERY daunting task (I just finished after hard work for MONTHS)! Take May to work on those a little bit more. Maybe just one a day and then you have 31 more done! Right? Right!

Resources Mentioned: YA Book Exchange // Have You Seen This // Paperback Swap // Book Mooch // Half.com // Post on Culling (So Obsessed With)

Don’t forget to share what you’re accomplishing this month with the hashtag #BlogOrganization!

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NEXT MONTH: Freebie month!

June is the month to pick anything you need to work on — choose from anything we’ve already worked on, tie up some loose ends, and generally finish some updates!

Book Blogger Organization Challenge: April 2015


book_blogger_organization_challenge

Welcome to the Book Blogger Organization Challenge!

If you haven’t heard of this challenge and are interested in finding out more, check out the intro post! But basically the concept is simple: Whether you want to dedicate a lot of time to this challenge or a little, I’m here to help you get organized and work on blog maintenance in 2015! Everything is broken down month-by-month so you only have to focus on ONE idea at a time. January seemed to kick us off GREAT! Let’s get ready for March!

APRIL 2015 ORGANIZATION CHALLENGE
Graphics, HTML, CSS

April is a SCARY month. Even more daunting than blog maintenance, I think… but it’s a good thing to work on! I make all of my graphics on my blog and have always done my own layout myself…… but it also usually takes me HOURS to do these things (maybe even days) since I’m not graphically inclined. Graphics and CSS are really, really hard work for me but it’s also very rewarding when things finally turn out the way I want them to! So take April to work on some of the scarier things and give yourself the whole month instead of a short time span.

GRAPHICS

  • Pick a program to create your graphics: I bought Photoshop Elements a couple of years ago and it’s really my go-to for everything. I KNOW I do not use it to its full potential because I simply just don’t know how to do everything so I’m going to try to familiarize myself with a couple online tutorials to see if there’s any way I can improve! Photoshop Elements is also cheaper than the whole big package of Photoshop and (I think?) it’s a bit more newbie friendly. A lot of bloggers use PicMonkey to create images for their blogs and I actually use it here and there too! It’s a web-based design program so you don’t have to download anything and can visit it anywhere you can get onto a computer. There are some things that are only available in the Pro version which does cost money, but there’s a lot in the free version too!  Another nice option is Gimp which is essentially designed to be like Photoshop but a free version. I used to use it for a while but it did get a bit tricky because I didn’t really understand how it worked BUT if it’s a free download and you don’t want to pay for Photoshop, it’s worth a shot!
  • Grab some design inspiration: I’ve learned I don’t exactly have the kind of brain that can come up with design ideas out of nowhere so I’ve created Pinterest boards to help me come up with ideas. I’ll pin a logo I like, search for design inspiration, grab a nice color combination, etc. A lot of times we just need a kick start to an idea and you make the rest of it your own. Just don’t totally steal someone else’s artwork, of course. (Honestly, I couldn’t steal a design if I tried. I’m not that good with Photoshop either way haha!)
  • Not a do-it-yourselfer? Research some blog designers! Bloggers like Stay Bookish, Hello, Chelly, and Parajunkie offer blog + graphic design if you’re not up to trying your hand at it. Other companies include Designer Blogs and Creative Whim — bloggers, what do you say? Any other design companies you’ve used or love?
  • Make plans to update: If you want to update some of your blog graphics, try to figure out what kind of styles you want beforehand so you don’t start a graphic and totally switch the design five times because it turns out to be nothing (clearly speaking from experience). If you’re not doing it yourself, make sure you make a nice list for whoever’s doing it for you with desired color schemes + possible ideas (although I’m sure they’ll ask you for that anyway)!

CODING/HTML/CSS

Honestly, I can’t believe how much CSS I understand at this point in time. I really can’t do any major blog design but I have learned SO much from working on it myself and I’m so proud of what I’ve done with my blog on my own! You CAN learn how to code and navigate CSS if you put the effort into it!
And I apologize in advance that most of this stuff probably applies more to WordPress and WordPress self-hosted users since that is what I’m familiar with! If you use Blogger, you may need to consult the interwebs for a few more tips!

  • If you’re a total newbie to CSS, try websites like w3schools.com, HTML Dog, and CSS Tricks. They can help you get an understanding of how CSS works and why things appear the way they do.
  • If you’re going to modify ANYTHING in your Stylesheet on your blog, create a child theme first. WordPress has a tutorial on how to create a child theme and then you can start working on your CSS modifications from there. This is important for many reasons but one of which is that when your themes update as WordPress tweaks them, you WILL lose some of your CSS functionality. I modified on my parent theme and not my child theme and had to do a lot (all? I don’t remember) of my CSS coding allllll over again. It was not fun.
  • Ashley from Nose Graze is an AWESOME resource. She uses her coding knowledge to create many, many helpful things for bloggers. She has:
    • Let Me Help You With Your Blog: Ashley just started a feature offering FREE assistance on simple CSS questions!
    • She has many, many, many awesome posts on blogging in general and it’s VERY much worth your time just hopping over to her blog and checking them out.
    • She created the Ultimate Book Blogger Plug-In which is SO helpful for reviews, a review index, and SO much more. The plug-in currently costs $35 and I personally think it’s so worth the money.
    • She also created the Tweak Me theme which allows you to purchase the main theme and customize it so you don’t have to do ALL of the coding yourself!

HELPFUL BLOGGER RESOURCES

Lots of bloggers like to share helpful posts with their own tips & trick on how to better your blog. Here are some that I’ve visited and ones that have helped me too!


If you have any other resources for anything I’ve mentioned above, PLEASE share in the comments! Any bloggers who give great blogging tips? Any awesome blog designers? Let us know!

Don’t forget to share what you’re accomplishing this month with the hashtag #BlogOrganization!

blog_organization_button

 Grab the button!


NEXT MONTH: Book clean-up + spring cleaning!

  • Culling shelves, giveaways, donations, giving back borrowed books
  • Reading books you were given as gifts, ARC catch up
  • Rearranging shelves, updating Goodreads again, giving back borrowed books
  • More cross-posting & cleaning up GR shelves

Book Blogger Organization Challenge: March 2015


book_blogger_organization_challenge

Welcome to the Book Blogger Organization Challenge!

If you haven’t heard of this challenge and are interested in finding out more, check out the intro post! But basically the concept is simple: Whether you want to dedicate a lot of time to this challenge or a little, I’m here to help you get organized and work on blog maintenance in 2015! Everything is broken down month-by-month so you only have to focus on ONE idea at a time. January seemed to kick us off GREAT! Let’s get ready for March!

MARCH 2015 ORGANIZATION CHALLENGE
Social Media & Review Outlets

March is all about getting your social media organized and updating those review outlets (outside of your blog). Now’s the time to spruce up the info on your social media accounts, delete old ones, add new ones, and work on a bunch of cross-posting reviews!

CLEAN UP SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS

  • Do you have a bunch of accounts that you created that you don’t use? Delete them!
  • Are you looking to try out another form of social media? Wondered if Pinterest can help your blog? Looking to start an Instagram account? Now’s the time!
  • Update your bio section, location, name, profile picture, contact info, you name it!
  • Clean up who you’re following. Are you missing some key friends, authors or bloggers? Do you follow a lot of inactive accounts? I use Just Unfollow for Twitter to check out accounts that haven’t been active in a long time. You can also see who you are following that doesn’t follow you back, recent followers, recent unfollowers, and more!

THE GOODREADS PROJECT

Now’s a good time to focus on cleaning up Goodreads! Here are some ideas on what to look for to spruce up your Goodreads account!
I also created a post a while back all about Goodreads and some tips and tricks I’ve discovered along the way. It’s a TINY bit outdated but still could be a great resource! –> “How to Make Goodreads Work For You

  • Delete duplicates on your shelves: Go to “My Books” and then below all of your shelves you’ll see “find duplicates”. Just MAKE SURE you’re deleting the correct version! I accidentally deleted a version that had all my status updates for a book and I was pretty bummed. There’s no way to get that back if you delete the wrong one!
  • Create new shelves and delete ones you don’t really need: I’m a Goodreads shelf fanatic. If you’re looking to get more organized, create some new ones for genres, star rating, POV, currently own, or where you got them from! Or you can delete some of the shelves you haven’t really been using.
  • Go through the books you’ve shelved and make sure they’re shelved properly! For some reason if I add a book to a shelf and don’t put it on Read/To-Read/Currently Reading, the default is “Read” so I’ve had to go back and swap that around to “To-Read”. I’ve also gone through ALL of the books that I’ve shelved and made sure they’re all in the right place!
  • Update to proper versions: I’m not too huge on having the correct version of a book on my shelves but I know some people are! (For me what matters is the right cover, most of the time) but if you like Goodreads to reflect the proper versions that you own or have read, hop to it!
  • TBR Culling! Go through your TBR and remove books that you don’t want to read anymore. I’m sure we all have HUNDREDS of books on our TBRs so now’s a good time to weed through what you might be able to part with, especially books you don’t already own!
  • Check out groups and friend lists too: Here’s another place to update your friends — make sure you’re not missing anyone or remove people (if you so desire) that you don’t need to follow anymore. Same with groups!

CROSS-POSTING

This is a great place to include cross-posting as well. There are several places you can cross-post your reviews — to reach a wider audience, to give feedback to publishers, and to help out authors!

  • Decide where you want to cross-post: Social Media. As far as social media goes, you can really post your reviews almost ANYWHERE. Most of us do to Twitter but there’s also Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, Bloglovin’ and even places like StumbleUpon (there are obviously more places, but those are my main ones)! You should be able to set your blog up to automatically post your reviews when they go live too!
  • Decide where you want to cross-post: Amazon, B&N, + more. I try to post everything to Goodreads and Amazon. Books I fall in LOVE with, I’ll try to go the extra mile and post to Barnes and Noble and The Book Depository as well.
  • Cross-posting to Netgalley and Edelweiss: As far as I know, you can only post your reviews to Netgalley if you have the book on your shelf (aka, if you’ve been approved) but you can post ANY review to Edelweiss if you search for the book (usually only books that have been published within the last few years — I’m not sure how far back their database goes).
  • Sending reviews to publishers: This is something I am SO BAD AT (aka I don’t do it). I really probably should formulate a game plan of sending my reviews to publishers when I receive a book from them! This is one I’m asking for YOUR help with! Let me know all your secrets!!!!

KEEP YOUR STATS ORGANIZED

It’s hard to keep track of all your stats all the time. I created a doc in my Google Drives just for my stats as an easy place to keep track of everything! It has a little intro about who I am and then the stats for my page views as well as a few social media outlets (I didn’t include them ALL because I’m sure the publishers don’t need to know ALL of them).

  • Page views: I use StatCounter for my blog. If you’re self hosted, there’s a plug-in so you don’t even have to leave your admin page to view your stats! Self-hosted also allows StatCounter to track where your readers are coming from (as in, what website or link directed them to your blog). If you’re not self-hosted, you can still use StatCounter for accurate stats on your page views — you will just have to access everything through the StatCounter website and it will only tell you what people have viewed on your blog and not where the traffic came from. If you’re a WordPress.com user, you can also use Jetpack (which I’m sure a lot do!) but I didn’t find that to be as accurate as StatCounter because it always counted my OWN page views which don’t really count!
  • Social Media Outlets: Besides my blog, I include Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Instagram. I also have a Pinterest and Tumblr account, but I didn’t think those were necessary to include in the stats that I send to publishers when making review requests via Netgalley or Edelweiss. I usually just updated those every once in a while through my Ultimate Book Blogger Plug-In.
  • Finding out how many followers you have: It’s a bit difficult to keep track sometimes. I actually have three different places I go to check because not everyone follows me through the same means.
    • WordPress/Jetpack: Since I started out as a WordPress.com user, many people still follow my blog through the WordPress dashboard. Jetpack’s Site Stats shows how many followers I have through WordPress.
    • Bloglovin’: The easiest way for me to check out how many follower’s via Bloglovin’ is just to sign in and go to Blog Analytics. That will show you how many followers and also your ranking amongst the current category in which you categorized your blog.
    • Feedly: I’m not a regular Feedly user so what I did was create an account and essentially I just check up on my own blog through Feedly to see what the number of followers is.
    • Feedburner: I still use Feedburner for my RSS option and not many people subscribe that way but I check up on it every once in a while. Its stats and analytics are really easy to spot. It feels a bit outdated but I haven’t gotten into investigating other options! Maybe now is the time!

Organization Tools Mentioned

Just Unfollow // Goodreads // StatCounter // Bloglovin’ // Feedly // Netgalley // Edelweiss // FeedBurner


Have anything else you want to get done this March? Let me know! I’d also love to hear any tips or tricks you have to keep your stats, social media, and other things organized!

Don’t forget to share what you’re accomplishing this month with the hashtag #BlogOrganization!

blog_organization_button

 Grab the button!


NEXT MONTH: Graphics, HTML, CSS, Plug-ins

  • Update graphics for posts/memes/events, update button, update header
  • Learn Photoshop/Gimp/PicMonkey
  • Brush up or try to learn simple HTML and CSS (for layouts, fonts, etc). Take this month to delve into the scary world of coding! (Or at least teach yourself one new thing!)

Book Blogger Organization Challenge: February 2015

book_blogger_organization_challenge

Welcome to the Book Blogger Organization Challenge!

If you haven’t heard of this challenge and are interested in finding out more, check out the intro post! But basically the concept is simple: Whether you want to dedicate a lot of time to this challenge or a little, I’m here to help you get organized and work on blog maintenance in 2015! Everything is broken down month-by-month so you only have to focus on ONE idea at a time. January seemed to kick us off GREAT! Let’s get ready for February!

FEBRUARY 2015 ORGANIZATION CHALLENGE
Blog Maintenance

February is all about blog maintenance which may be the most needed and most overwhelming thing in a book blogger’s life. Personally, I TRY to do a good job of keeping things updated as I go, but sometimes things get severely overlooked or you want to change up a design or start a new index or keep on updating those old reviews. This month is the time to do it!

SET A GOAL FOR YOURSELF

Trying to think of all the blog maintenance you want to do may get overwhelming really quickly. Break it down in sections to make it easier on yourself! Maybe draw up a list of everything you can think of that you might need to update on your blog — and remind yourself that THIS DOES NOT HAVE TO ALL GET DONE THIS MONTH — but it’s nice to be able to see what kinds of things you can focus on and what’s maybe less important that can be done later instead of right now.

After you know what you want to update, set some ATTAINABLE goals for yourself. Maybe update two old reviews each day in February or spend a weekend updating your review index. I know I have a LOT that I still want to do but I’ve recently learned that giving myself a respectable, solid number to accomplish or a task to complete in a specific time frame REALLY helps. I feel like I accomplished my goal and it helped me stay on task as well!

MAKE A LIST. CHECK IT TWICE.

I mentioned above to make a list for yourself of what you might want to update/install on your blog. There are any number of things you can choose from (and this is an EXTENSIVE list to intentionally include as many possibilities as I can think of so don’t go TOO crazy):

  • Update indexes and/or pages (reviews, features, policies etc) — if you have the UBB plug-in, you can even finagle it to automatically update for you like my Book and a Beverage page! (Ask me how if you need help!)
  • Update old reviews — update old formatting and/or graphics to current. (I’m in the process of not only updating old reviews to my current format but also all the info for my UBB plug-in so that the index will always automatically update!)
  • Update memes/features — make new graphics to fit your current layout, update your features’ pages, make them more uniform, etc
  • Update your contact info — Do you want to have contact info in your sidebar? “About Me” page? New social media icons? Add more social media links? Remove some you don’t use anymore?
  • Clean up any missing images — Some of my old posts have missing images because I used a URL instead of an image I had saved. If you stumble upon any, remove or update them!
  • Clean up broken links — If you can, install a link checker (plug-in)! Ever see any broken links in your stats? You can start there too! Thanks to Jess for the heads up on the Broken Link Checker plug-in!
  • Update your SEOs — This is another thing I’m constantly doing! Any time I see an old post that I haven’t entered any SEO information for, I go back and update it. I use SEO Ultimate (and it comes with a 404 monitor too!)
  • Search for other plug-ins you may want/need — Want to change your fonts? Check out Google Fonts. Looking for those boxes with similar posts? Check out Yet Another Related Posts Plug-in.  Want a list of your most popular posts in your side bar? Check out WordPress Popular Posts. Looking for that plug-in that automatically posts old blog posts to Twitter? Check out Revive Old Post.

AVOID DISTRACTIONS

I get distracted. Very easily. So if I’m doing blog maintenance and I start to get bored, I REALLY tend to wander. If you’re a wanderer too, try to think of ways to stay on task! Set up a playlist or cue up a TV show (one you’ve already seen so you don’t have to focus on it) and don’t let yourself stop until it’s over! Or maybe you’re the kind of person who has to avoid music and TV and just power through what your’e doing. Either way, set yourself up for success by avoiding those little distractions!


Organization Tools Mentioned

Plug-ins: Ultimate Book Blogger // SEO Ultimate // Google Fonts // Yet Another Related Posts Plug-in // WordPress Popular Posts //Revive Old Post // Broken Link Checker


Have anything else you want to get done this February? Let me know! And don’t forget to share what you’re accomplishing this month with the hashtag #BlogOrganization!

blog_organization_button

 Grab the button!


NEXT MONTH: SOCIAL MEDIA & REVIEW OUTLETS

  • Update social media accounts: bios, who you follow, delete old accounts you won’t use, resolve to use some accounts more
  • Organize Goodreads shelves: duplicate copies, version of books, creating shelves, removing shelves
  • Cross-posting
  • Sending reviews to publishers, sending review requests, Netgalley, Edelweiss
  • Finding all your stats, keeping stats updated

Book Blogger Organization Challenge: January 2015

book_blogger_organization_challenge

Welcome to the Book Blogger Organization Challenge!

If you haven’t heard of this challenge and are interested in finding out more, check out the intro post! But basically the concept is simple: Whether you want to dedicate a lot of time to this challenge or a little, I’m here to help you get organized and work on blog maintenance in 2015! Everything is broken down month-by-month so you only have to focus on ONE idea at a time, so let’s hop into January!

JANUARY 2015 ORGANIZATION CHALLENGE
Reading challenges, scheduling, & resolutions

January is all about resolutions and planning and usually by February, I’ve forgotten everything. I outlined some things to think about in the intro post but here’s a more detailed list of what January will be all about!

First things first. Get into planning mode!

If you want to get more organized this year, you have to start somewhere! First, figure out if you follow ideas better on paper or on the computer. Then, start your organizing! Buy a nice, shiny 2015 planner. Start writing things down in Google Calendars. Open up a Wunderlist account and start making lists!

I schedule my posts ahead of time (or I’m trying to get back in the swing of things), so I use Google Calendars to color code my posts. It’s super easy to drag and move things if I have to reschedule something so I move it on my calendar first and then go back and change it on my blog. It’s easier to visualize and see what I have scheduled this way!

gcalendar

Think about a place to start keeping track of all of your stats too! When’s the last time you updated your stats on Netgalley/Edelweiss? Is there a big difference in your stats since the last time you updated them? I started a Word Doc with my “canned intro”, personal info, and stats for my blog and social media — then whenever the mood strikes me or when I think my stats have significantly increased, I go back in and update. I just make it a habit of updating my stats when I go to request a galley by copying & pasting the Word Doc instead of going back and hunting down those stats each time!

Think long-term!

Did you do Jamie‘s End of 2014 Survey? I did in 2013 and couldn’t remember anythinggggg from the year as a whole. I made a “Best of 2014” shelf on Goodreads to help me remember which books were my favorite so I could keep track as I went along. (I’m also SUPER obsessed with creating shelves on Goodreads so you’ll see that as a lot of my suggestions haha!)

bo2014

I know not everyone likes creating 50 million Goodreads shelves like I do though. There are tons wunderlistof other ways to keep track of things! You can use things like Google Drives or Microsoft Office to make lists as well as Wunderlist (becoming a quick favorite of mine!). Keep track of incoming books for Stacking the Shelves, which books you’ve borrowed or received from an author/publisher, which books are being released soon that you want to read before the pub date, etc. These are also great places to make to-do lists (Wunderlist is also great for this! You can check it off when you’re finished)!

If you do posts like weekly/monthly/yearly recaps, posts from around the blogosphere, or “best of” posts, spreadsheets (or word docs) are also fantastic ways of keeping track of those links and posts that you’ve stumbled upon and loved! Any time you see one, just immediately throw it onto your spreadsheet and you won’t have to go hunting for it later!

Planning 2015 Challenges

Research which 2015 challenges you’d like to take part in. (I listed a few in the intro post!) By now you probably have your intro posts up so now’s the time for scheduling! Lots of 2015 challenges are year-long and that involves some planning to keep up! Go through your TBR and pick a few to read each month. If you’re a mood reader, give yourself a good selection so you can always pass up something if you’re not in the mood for it! My best suggestion would be to go month-by-month to see which books best fit the challenge. (You can sort through your Goodreads by publication date to see which books are out when!)

When in doubt, pick fewer challenges than you think you can handle. I picked way too many in 2013 and ended up dropping out of ALL of them because it was too much work to keep up with! I wanted to be a part of every challenge but trying to read so many challenge books a month didn’t allow me to read what I really wanted to so I gave up on all of them!

Picking 2015 Resolutions

Do you have anything BIG you want to do with your blog this year? Maybe you want to go self-hosted, buy the Ultimate Book Blogger Plug-In, purchase a new layout design, or add a new feature. Maybe it’s something as simple as trying a few books out of your comfort zone. Whatever you want to do this year, reflect on what you want to do with your blog this month!

I honestly haven’t looked at my 2014 Resolutions since I made them. I remember a few vague things but I really couldn’t tell you right now what was on that list. If you really want to try hard at keeping your resolutions, write them down somewhere! Make a list on your computer and put it somewhere you see all the time or draw up a physical list and post it somewhere in your house!

Find a Buddy!

Some people work better in groups or with someone else motivating them. If you read challenge books (or any books) better on a schedule with a friend, grab some people for a group read or a monthly “reading club”. It doesn’t have to be anything big so don’t over do it! This is also great for those big, scary books (like, ahem, A Song of Ice and Fire) because you have someone else “holding you accountable” for reading and they also motivate you to keep going!

Make Plans to Read and Write!

Some of us have such busy schedules that it’s hard to time the time to read. Maybe you’re someone who really does love blogging but have a hard time sitting down to write reviews or posts. Think about what sort of free time you have — maybe a day of the week or even time of day — and block out some time for yourself to read and write! Reward yourself with stickers (or coffee or candy — whatever works!) for accomplishing your goals!


Organization Tools Mentioned: Wunderlist // Goodreads // Google Calendars // Google Drive


Have anything else you want to get done this January? Let me know! And don’t forget to share what you’re accomplishing this month with the hashtag #BlogOrganization!

blog_organization_button

 Grab the button!


NEXT MONTH: BLOG MAINTENANCE

Updating old reviews, pages, layouts, features/memes, contact info, clean up images, broken links, SEOs + more!

2015 Reading Challenges: Intro Post

2014 was the year of me cutting back on a LOT of things, one of those being reading challenges. Now that my wedding is over and I’m getting back into the swing of things, I’m picking up a couple challenges I know I’ll be able to handle!

book_blogger_organization_challenge

First is a shameless plug for my own 2015 challenge which is actually NOT a reading challenge — it’s the Book Blogger Organization Challenge. I want to work on cleaning up my blog this year, getting more organized in my blogging life, and doing some more blog maintenance. It’s totally casual and low-key despite the detailed schedule. You can participate as little or as much as you want to! The details are there for the people who need more of a “schedule” to stay organized but if you’re overwhelmed by how much you need or want to do, just hop in when you can! The challenge is designed to be helpful and not to overwhelm!



I skipped 2014, but this year I’m once again participating in the Debut Author Challenge, hosted by Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl. The goal is to read 2015 debuts and at least one a month. Jana has the full details on her blog (linked above) so I won’t get into all of the rules & regulations but I’m definitely going to participate in this challenge! I decided I’m not going to go crazy and just aim to read at least one debut a month.

  • January: Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff
  • February: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas
  • March: The Story Spinner by Becky Wallace
  • April: Denton Little’s Death Date by Lance Rubin

Other months to come!


The last challenge I’m joining this year is The Re-Read Challenge hosted by Hannah of So Obsessed With and Kelly of Belle of the Literati. I re-read a LOT of books in 2014 and I’m so excited to re-read more in 2015! I already have big plans so this challenge should be no sweat! Here are a few books I want to re-read this year (or possibilities at least):

  • Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Fairest by Marissa Meyer. WINTER comes out in November 2015 so I’d really like to re-read ALL of these before then. Keep your eyes peeled — I have strong plans to organized a read along for these re-reads or people reading The Lunar Chronicles for the first time!
  • The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
  • Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (I want to re-read this every year!)
  • The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
  • Eleanor & Park and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (I’ve been meaning to listen to this audio again for a WHILE!)

I also want to do Flights of Fantasy hosted by Alexa Loves Books and Hello Chelly! I’m a soooomewhat new fantasy reader (as in, I didn’t REALLY start getting into it until last year) and I’ve already dubbed 2015 “the year of fantasy” and have a few reads planned. This is the perfect, effortless challenge for me (I hope!) so I’m really excited to participate! Here are a few fantasy reads I want to finish this year:

  • The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch (Gentleman Bastard #3)
  • The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace
  • Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgewick (almost definitely our January OtSP read!)
  • The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time #1)
  • Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (Sevenwaters #1)
  • The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (The Stormlight Archive #1)
  • The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron (The Legend of Eli Monpress #1)

And oh oh oh so many more!


I decided to add on ONE more challenge. I was trying not to do too many but this is another one I KNOW I will be able to not only meet goals but surpass them! I’m joining The Daily Prophecy’s Fairy Tale Retelling Reading Challenge! I usually read a bunch of fairy tale retellings and I already have some planned for this year so I thought I should officially join the challenge!
We can also read other retellings besides fairy tales, but fairy tales will be my most common ones!

MY GOAL: Magic mirror: 5 – 9 books.

  • The Lunar Chronicles: Original read of Fairest plus re-read of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Fairest + Winter when it comes out (6)
  • A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Well, those are it! Good goals but nothing too wild. I want to be able to easily participate and not have to go crazy trying to keep up. I think it will be a lot of fun!

 

Book Blogger Organization Challenge: Winter/Spring 2015

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Welcome to the Book Blogger Organization Challenge!

I’ve been blogging for about two and a half years now and I always try to keep my blog and blogging life as organized as I can, but sometimes it’s just a LOT to take in all at once. I’m always a big fan of Bloggiesta and using that time to get more organized but depending on what weekends it falls on, I can’t always participate due to my schedule and I have SO many things that I need to work on that I just can’t quite do it all in one weekend. So the more I thought about it, the more I thought it would work well for a six month-long challenge!

To just say “get more organized in 2015” is still pretty overwhelming. I’m sure a lot of us want to work on some specific things but if you’re anything like me, you’ll start to work on updating reviews then somehow end up working on Goodreads and then before you know it, you’re just rearranging your books on your bookcase again which is not even what you meant to do. (Trust me. This has happened MANY times.) Instead of just saying, “Pledge to organize more in 2015”, I wanted to break it down month-by-month and even week-by-week if you so desire! There’s a lot to try to cover regarding “blog maintenance” and to focus on a year even seems overwhelming so I thought six months would be nice! Each month in the challenge will have a different focus with the last month revisiting everything you’ve done so far in the year.

EDITED 12/16: The more I thought about this challenge and how different it will be for everyone, the more I just want to throw in my two cents here for everyone looking to get organized this year — take it from someone who loves to stick their hand into way too many cookie jars — Being organized is NOT about planning every single thing. Being organized is about having a game plan, trying to stay ahead or things (or catch up on things) but NOT overscheduling yourself or stressing yourself out! There are too many times I (for example) tried to plan out my exact TBR or gave myself a strict reading schedule and that not only didn’t work and made me feel like I “failed” but it also discouraged me in many ways. So yes, getting organized does require a little extra work, but it should really be more about figuring the ways you can set yourself up for success and not about scheduling every single little thing. Capisce?

Let’s kick it off with January so you can get a feel for the challenge!

JANUARY 2015 ORGANIZATION CHALLENGE

JANUARY’S THEME: Reading challenges, scheduling, & resolutions

January is the month of resolutions and I know I don’t usually end up keeping many of mine because once the month is over and that resolutions post is written, I never look at it again. It’s also the time when we’re most gung-ho about year-long challenges! Year-long challenges tend to check in monthly but somehow I usually end up dropping all plans for challenges by spring because I’ve over-scheduled myself (even during the year I promised I wouldn’t do that), so I think January is a great time to make some goals and then make up a schedule to keep them! It’s also the time of year when a lot people star to think about the “big picture” of their blog when making resolutions so here’s what January will focus on:

  • Planning 2015 challenges
    • Research which 2015 challenges you’d like to take part in. See below for some ones that I’ve found and if you know of any more, leave them in the comments!
    • Pick a few specific books to read each month. I know some people mood readers and can’t PLAN which books to read (totally me) but last year I picked a few ARCs that I wanted to read in a specific month (or books for other challenges/read alongs, etc) and then I was able to read them within that month but any time I was in the mood for them instead of “read by X” date (which usually made me NOT want to read them).
    • Schedule challenge intro posts!
  • Picking 2015 resolutions
    • Think about what you want to do with your blog in the year to come. (Or even the next few months) Do you have a “big picture”? Anything specific you’ve been meaning to do? (Add a new feature? Finally switch to self-hosted? Add a co-blogger? Try new genres?)
    • Make a list and pin it up somewhere you’ll see pretty often (fridge, office, wall, etc) so it won’t fall by the wayside.
    • Make a Goodreads shelf! Have some books you know you want to read in 2015? Make a list on Goodreads (or a physical list) with new or older reads that you want to read this year.
    • Schedule resolution post!
  • Find a buddy!
    • Work better with motivation? Find a blog maintenance buddy & work on things at the same time!
    • Need someone to help you through some reads? Been meaning to read some big books but are intimidated by them? Grab a friend to do an informal read along!
  • Make plans to read and write!
    • Not everyone does well planning ahead or writing things down with a specific schedule… but if you’re one of those people (or want to try) now’s the time to look for a nice planner. Treat yourself with a nice one and maybe even fun pens or stickers to help keep you motivated to keep track and also stay on track! Pen and paper not your style? Trying using Google Calendars or Wunderlist! (Also super easy to move things around!)
    • Are you someone like me who has a limited amount of time to read or write? Try to pick a day/time to work on blog things or to read. Make a plan so your parents/sig other/friends will know you’re busy and you can schedule around it.

2015 READING CHALLENGES

105 Challenge (hosted by ReadWriteLove28) // Around the World Reading Challenge (hosted by All About Books) // Authors A-Z Reading Challenge (hosted by Samantha Lin) // Book Blog Discussion Challenge (hosted by Feed Your Fiction Addition and It Starts at Midnight) // Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge (hosted by The Book Vixen) // Debut Author Challenge (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) // Dive Into Diversity (hosted by Rather Be Reading and Reading Wishes) // Full House Reading Challenge (hosted by Book Date) // Library Challenge (hosted by Book Journey) // Out-do Yourself Reading Challenge (hosted by The Book Vixen) // Pre-Printing Press Challenge (hosted by All Booked Up) // Put the Library on Hold (hosted by The Emerald City Book Reviews) // The Re-Read Challenge (hosted by So Obsessed With and Belle of the Literati) // Reading Challenge Addict (hosted by Reading Challenge Addict) // Reading England (hosted by Behold the Stars) // Reading Road Trip (hosted by She’s Got Books on her Mind) // Series a Month Challenge (hosted by Love at First Page) // TBR Pile Challenge (hosted by Roof Beam Reader) // TBR Reduction Extreme (hosted by All About Books)

Many others listed at You, Me, and a Cup of Tea and a Pinterest board from The Book Vixen!

 

CHALLENGE “RULES”

I put rules in quotes because really, there are no “rules” to follow. This is titled as a challenge, but it’s more of a way to consistently keep organized. The guidelines are simply this: follow the month’s theme and work on what you can. Not everyone will need each bullet point. Some people will think of more things to add under the theme. (Leave a comment if you think of some so I can update the post!) Work on anything related within the given month. There is no “failing” in this challenge. If you’ve done anything to work on your blog, you’re a success!

  • The Blog Organization Challenge will run from January 1st to June 30th. If all goes well, we’ll start all over in July (blog maintenance is constant!) and even add more things to work on because I know I won’t think of everything as we go along.
  • Participants can join in at any time! It’s never too late to join. I have a linky for sign-ups below (no sign-up post is required but feel free to spread the word that you’re joining in!) and do whatever you can each month. Everyone is bound to have a busier day/week/month so just do what you can when you can! And don’t forget to grab the button!
  • Feel free to make your own “mini-challenges”! I won’t be officially hosting any mini-challenges but if you have a discussion, how-to, or mini-challenge (past, present, or future), send me the link and I’ll include it in appropriate month’s post!
  • Want to chat about it on social media? Use the hashtag #BlogOrganization! Find a buddy, grab some ideas, get motivation, ask questions… Sky’s the limit!

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 Grab the button!

 CHALLENGE SCHEDULE

Want to see what the upcoming months have in store? Here’s a general outline of what we’ll be focusing on each month!

  • JANUARY: Reading challenges & resolutions
    • Picking challenges, making resolutions, scheduling, forming plans, picking reading/blogging buddies,
  • FEBRUARY: Blog maintenance
    • Updating old reviews, pages, layouts, features/memes, contact info
    • Clean up images, broken links
    • SEOs
  • MARCH: Social Media + Review Ooutlets
    • Update social media accounts: bios, who you follow, delete old accounts you won’t use, resolve to use some accounts more
    • Organize Goodreads shelves: duplicate copies, version of books, creating shelves, removing shelves
    • Cross-posting
  • APRIL: Graphics, HTML, CSS, Plug-ins
    • Update graphics for posts/memes/events, update button, update header
    • Learn Photoshop/Gimp/PicMonkey
    • Brush up or try to learn simple HTML and CSS (for layouts, fonts, etc). Take this month to delve into the scary world of coding! (Or at least teach yourself one new thing!)
  • MAY: Book clean-up + spring cleaning!
    • Culling shelves, giveaways, donations, giving back borrowed books
    • Reading books you were given as gifts, ARC catch up
    • Rearranging shelves, updating Goodreads again, giving back borrowed books
    • More cross-posting & cleaning up GR shelves
  • JUNE: Freebie
    • Recapping what you’ve organized, focus on biggest area of need, review TBR list

Hope you’ll join me for the Book Blogger Organization Challenge! If you have any 2015 Challenge links, ideas for blog maintenance, previous organization posts/mini-challenges, or anything else you may deem appropriate for this challenge, please message me or leave them in the comments!

ARC August 2014: I’m participating!

I made a promise to myself (just a couple weeks ago, actually… What planning ahead, right?) that I would catch up on some ARCs and SOON. I’ve had a stack of them growing, especially after BEA 2014 (which always brings a LOAD of September ARCs) and I really wanted to catch up on quite a few before their actual pub dates roll around since I seem to be having issues with that recently. (I do what I can to read before the pub date but I just read so many other things too!)

I decided the last couple of weeks of July and all throughout August, I wanted to start catching up on my ARCs — some pre-pub ARCs (Augus & September mostly) but also ones that I still need to read after being approved on NetGalley and Edelweiss (probably with more focus on NG since I seem to read more EW books for some reason)… When I heard/remembered about ARC AUGUST, that seemed like the perfect opportunity to officially commit to this plan! A big thanks to Octavia for hosting this and I’m really looking forward to kick off here soon!

GOALS

Hmmm. Well, I don’t want to say “THESE ARE THE BOOKS I WILL READ” because we all know I’m a mood reader and that won’t happen. What I WILL do is post some books from my lists that I really need to and want to read SOON and these will be the ARCs I’m focusing on!

AUGUST ARCs:

  • A LITLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT by Sandy Hall
  • MORTAL DANGER by Ann Aguirre (have heard some not good stuff about this so do I still read it?)
  • SIX FEET OVER IT by Jennifer Longo
  • VIRGIN by Radhika Sanghani
  • BLIND by Rachel DeWoskin

SEPTEMBER ARCs:

  • I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson
  • EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN by Lindsey Lane
  • TRIAL BY FIRE by Josephine Angelini
  • FALLING INTO PLACE by Amy Zhang
  • ROOMS by Lauren Oliver
  • THE JEWEL by Amy Ewing
  • BELZHAR by Meg Wolitzer
  • SALT AND STORM by Kendall Kuper
  • WINTERSPELL by Claire LeGrand
  • FIREBUG by Lish McBride

OOPS I AM ALREADY BEHIND:

  • DISSONANCE by Erika O’Rourke (July)
  • THE HALF LIFE OF MOLLY PIERCE by Katrina Leno (July)
  • THE VANISHING SEASON by Jodi Lynn Anderson (July)
  • JUST LIKE THE MOVIES by Kelly Fiore (July)
  • 17 FIRST KISSES by Rachel Allen (June)
  • THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING by Erika Johansen (June)
  • BEHIND THE SCENES by Dahlia Adler (June)
  • MY BEST FRIEND, MAYBE by Caela Carter (June)
  • THE THINGS YOU KISS GOODBYE by Leslie Carter (June)
  • COIN HEIST by Elisa Ludwig (June)
  • THE SECRETS OF LILY GRAVES by Sarah Strohmeyer (May)
  • REBEL by Amy Tintera (May)
  • BUZZKILL by Beth Fantasky (May)

So there you have it! That’s my reading list for August, more or less. I’m hoping to make it to at least… at LEAST six. Upwards to about 10? I’ve been averaging 8-12 books a month lately but that’s also including audiobooks which I won’t have for any of these so six may even be the max. Hopefully I’ll knock quite a few out in August!

Thanks again to Octavia for hosting! See you in August!

Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: How to Make Goodreads Work For YOU!

I first joined Goodreads in 2010 when one of my friends introduced me to this awesome website that let you make lists of books and keep track of what you read. Awesome! In the beginning, I didn’t do much except for add all of the books I read and keep track of what I was currently reading. Then I found out that there were a LOT more features on Goodreads that I didn’t even know about. Back then, they still had their book exchange feature which quickly became my main purpose for using the site. (I do miss it… Although I don’t do a lot of swapping anymore!) Then I found out they had giveaways. I could win free books! Even books that… *gasp* weren’t published yet! (Side note: Clearly this was before I knew about ARCs and a year and a half before I even THOUGHT about starting a blog.) This Goodreads site was AWESOME.

As the years went by, I found more and more features hiding in the depths of Goodreads and once I started blogging, it pretty much became an essential tool for helping me review books, create blog posts, and fill out the weekly memes.

The stars aligned when I saw the blog post about signing up for a Bloggiesta mini-challenge and I had thoughts of Goodreads dancing in my head. I knew a lot of people did instructional-type mini-challenges but just having been blogging for a year and a half, I surely didn’t feel like I knew anything more than those blogging pros (from whom I do pick up lots of tips)! Then it came to me… I could talk about Goodreads! Not so much as an instructional post (despite the fact that I titled it starting with “How-To”) but more of a mass-sharing of how people utilize Goodreads and what exactly we may be missing out there!

Before putting my post together, I went to the best possible source I had to help me gather information: YOU! A huge thanks to everyone who filled out the survey because it was so interesting and great to see so many responses and how different they all were! After crunching all the numbers and gathering all the data, here’s what I got from all of the responses:

GoodreadsInfographic

SHELVES

Shelves seem to be the number one thing you guys LOVE and could not live without. The shelves on Goodreads are fantastic because not only can you add books to the Goodreads-supplied “Read/Want to Read/Currently Reading” shelves. Readers can create ANY amount of shelves for ANY kind of categories they want. Personally, I have shelves for various genres, some to indicate where I got the book, some for the age range (YA vs adult), and any other variation you can possibly think of.
Another beauty of the shelves is that you can create MORE exclusive shelves than just what Goodreads offers. For example, I needed a place to put the books I chose not to finish. I still wanted to keep track of them but they didn’t belong under “read” to “to-read” so I created my own “did-not-finish” shelf and voila! Organization at its finest!

I have TONS of shelves (all of which are necessary).

I have TONS of shelves (all of which are necessary).

Another fantastic feature of the shelves is that you can SORT THEM. Where would I be without this feature!? I’ve found that it’s especially handy for things like Top Ten Tuesday (and other memes). Want to find out what the longest book is you’ve read? No problem. Go to your “read” shelf, make sure you have the “number of pages” column visible (if you don’t, click on “shelf settings” and you can add any columns available there to the shelf you’re currently viewing), sort by page number. VOILA. I use this constantly. Not only for page numbers but sorting by pub date, rating, date added, date read… I’m always always always sorting and re-sorting my shelves to find things. THANK THE HEAVENS that Goodreads has this feature because I don’t know what I would do without it.

shelfsettings

Another fan-favorite is the “Currently Reading” shelf. This was something a lot of people were very vocal about and how much they loved it. I know so many people like to update their page number (or percentage, if that’s the case) as they’re reading and one of the best things is that you can make comments as you read too! Sometimes I even go back to the comments I’ve made to help me remember quotes, specific instances, or OMG moments for when I write my review! Some people even use this instead of a bookmark!

RECOMMENDATIONS

One of the things that the survey participants felt that people underutilized was all of the different ways to send and receive recommendations. Understandably, one of the biggest pet peeves from Goodreads users was people spamming them with recommendations, event invites, and book pushing. I definitely fall into that category myself… I’ve actually unfriended a few people on Goodreads because of over-spammification (the technical term). I had approved a friendship and instantly I got event invites and books suggestions. Unfortunately there isn’t way to reel in the spamming with filters (that I know of… I’ve searched!) so the only option to filter out those spammers is clean up your Friends List.
Reasonably, the recommendation options can actually be touchy subjects… But from your trusted & close friends and by exploring your own personal recommendations, you can probably find some great new books!

One of the easiest places to start is to click on the recommendations widget on your Goodreads home page.

Recs

This takes you to a glorious page that lists TONS of recommendations based on any of your current shelves. (Another reason to make many, many shelves!!!) The more books you rate, the better your recommendations get. Don’t like a recommendation? No problem. Just hit “Not Interested” and you won’t see that one again. When this feature first came out, I spent hours looking through these and adding ALL THE BOOKS to my TBR list. Golden.

Recs2

And here’s a two-for-one picture… Love a book? Want to see books similar too it? There’s a little widget on the book’s info page called “Readers Also Enjoyed”. Scroll through the books listed there and you may find a book very similar to it and see what else people who liked that book also put on their lists!
Want to recommend that awesome book to a friend? Just click “Recommend It” and you can quickly send that recommendation off to your fellow Goodreads friends.

recsandreaders

EXPLORE GOODREADS

Goodreads has an “Explore” menu — some of which I’ve explored, some of which I haven’t — but that’s where we find some of the “hidden gems” of Goodreads, if you will.

Genres: Genres is one I don’t use a lot, but if you’re a subscriber to the Goodreads newsletter, it looks a lot like that format. It lists some books under… well, genres. From “Movers & Shakers” to “Young Adult” to “Paranormal” and of course many, many more. One of the good things about the Genres feature is that you can search for books and get a lot of suggestions for very specific subgenres/related genres. Like science-fiction but looking for something different? No problem. Click on “Science-Fiction”, check out “Related Genres” and hey… There’s a whole page of space operas. Yeah. Goodreads is where it’s at, friends. We get pretty specific here! This feature is probably really similar to the personalized recommendations if you utilize a variety of shelves, but this is a good way to hunt down recommendations if you’re not interested in creating genres for your shelves.
Listopia: Listopia is a user-driven feature full of lists, lists, and more lists. You can browse user-created lists by tags (most often which are different genres), do a specific search, or browse recently updated lists. Some are not as well-put together as others, but most are pretty good! Readers are allowed to vote for books for each list as well, so the more people who vote, the better the lists get. I’ve used Listopia for finding books by a specific publication month (i.e. searching “October 2013”), a specific theme (“Egyptian mythology”), or just a general genre.
Giveaways: Goodreads First Reads Giveaways are a wonderful feature on the site! Giveaways are usually hosted by a publishing house or author. They can be for physical copies, advanced reader copies, or even ebooks and audiobooks. They’re always changing and always being updated. Sometimes hard to win, but I’ve actually won a few here and there (two when I first joined Goodreads and I actually JUST won a copy of Antigoddess… three years later).
Popular: I actually don’t use popular much (or ever), but that’s a good place to see what books are gaining readers and reviewers if you’re looking for a book that everyone else is reading!
Goodreads Voice: I haven’t visited Goodreads Voice in a while but it’s a cool little place! It has everything from Author Interviews to Author Suggestions (Good Minds Suggest) to Debut Author Snapshots and even more literary articles. It’s a great place to read up on some authors and find out what else is going on in the book community!
“Fun”: There’s also a “Fun” section filled with Trivia, Quizzes, and Quotes for bookish fun! (Tailored to the books on your shelves!)
“Community”: Lastly is the community section — which I don’t personally use as often — where you can explore Creative Writing from other users, fellow Goodreads users, and search upcoming events.

PERSONAL NOTES ABOUT A BOOK/REVIEW SECTION

Did you know that there’s a lot more you can add to your personal notes about a book? Besides just writing your review, you can keep tracking of where you purchased a book from, what date you purchased it, who recommended it to you, how many times you’ve read it, and so much more — all under your review of that book.

review

I actually filled in a lot more than I usually do for the sake of example, but if you do a great job on keeping up with your personal notes in the review section, you’ll have TONS of info at your fingertips at all times.
This is a rough example because this is my review of WHERE SHE WENT, which I recently re-read. One thing a lot of people said is that Goodreads should make it easier to show and update re-reads. I originally read WSW in June of 2012 but when I marked it back to “Currently Reading” when I picked it up again, it reverted back to my last page number before I had marked it as complete. There’s also no good way to update the dates on a re-read without wiping out your previous data and starting all over. I chose to just leave my original start date and add my new “Finished reading” date. (The finished reading date is also important if you want that book to count for your yearly Goodreads challenge! All books towards that challenge need a finish date in that calendar year otherwise it won’t count.) I also used the “Number of Times I’ve Read This Book” to help me keep track of re-reads, but the actual progress could be set up better!
In this section, you can also update where you got that book, when and if it was a recommendation, who suggested it to you. If the person who recommended it to you is a Goodreads member, you can tag them in the recommendation. You can also mark specific notes about that book in “Private Notes” that only you can see. (One survey-taker’s absolute favorite underutilized feature!)
This is also the section that Goodreads has for you to mark that you own a copy of the book. I actually don’t use this section so much anymore because I found it hard to keep track of my books through their system. I just created a shelf for my “currently-owned” books because it’s MUCH easier to sort and search, in my humble opinion!

PERSONAL STATS

One of my favorite things — especially for my monthly recaps here on the blog — is personal stats. You can go to “My Books”, scroll all the way down and in the left hand column under a heading called “tools”, you’ll see a link to “stats”. You can see ALL or your reading statistics since you’ve signed up for Goodreads, separated by year. (You can also find this under the Goodreads Reading Challenge widget!) If you click on details, you can get a LOVELY picture that will look somewhat like this:

STATS

PHEW. It was a long adventure discovering all the ins and outs of Goodreads but now you have some good insights to the hidden gems and fun features!

I hope you’ll join in the Bloggiesta mini-challenge that I’m hosting to help Goodreads work for you and make your reading/blogging life easier!

The mini-challenge is simple: Pick anything (or everything) that you’d like to utilize more from Goodreads. It can be linking up your reviews to your blog, investigating Listopia for recommendations, cleaning up your shelves, or organizing… well, anything! The sky is the limit! During Bloggiesta (Sep 20 – 22), designate some time to make those changes, explore Goodreads a little bit more, and get a bit more organized. Then write up a mini-challenge post to let us know what you did to use Goodreads to your advantage and how those changes or discoveries make your life easier as a reader and/or blogger! It can be as simple as cleaning up/creating Goodreads shelves, updating your full reviews & blog links to Goodreads, or really digging in deeper and exploring new features. The choice is yours, but whatever you choose, we want to hear about it!!
Once you’ve got your post, link up to the Linky below so everyone else can see what you’ve accomplished with Goodreads during Bloggiesta time and what new things you discovered!

Before I close this post, I just want to say that I know there’s been a lot of drama surrounding Goodreads and some instances of negative author-blogger interaction… Another survey-taker said that as long as you don’t let the drama get to you or invade your experience, Goodreads can be a fantastic tool for anyone — And I totally agree. When it all comes down to it, Goodreads is what you make it! Don’t let the negatives intimidate you because you’d be missing out on some really great tools, features, and community!

I think Goodreads is a fantastic tool, especially as a blogger, and I completely agree with one person who said that Goodreads is for readers and makes it easier for avid readers and casual readers alike.

UPDATE 9/19: The Bloggiesta list of mini-challenges is now posted! Don’t forget to check out the other mini-challenges for this Bloggiesta and let me know in the comments if you’re going to be taking part in my Goodreads mini-challenge! I can’t wait to see people’s posts!!

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Reading Challenge #1: Mysteries from each US State

So I haven’t really done a reading challenge before besides a goal for how many books to read in the year (so far 2012’s goal is 90 books. I’m hoping to surpass and actually get to 100!). I was browsing in the Cozy Mystery group that I joined on GoodReads and I saw this challenge and thought what a great idea it was! It’ll help me expand on the kind of mysteries I’m reading and give me some distinct goals instead of aimlessly hopping around from one book to the next as well as expanding my horizons on new authors, new settings, and even new time periods.

Rules: Read at least one mystery set in each one of the states. No particular time limit.

Here’s what I have so far:

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California – Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida – B is For Burglar by Sue Grafton (although this only half takes place in FL. Does that count?)
Georgia – Body Movers by Stephanie Bond
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois – Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana – Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts – The Square Root of Murder by Ada Madison
Michigan – A Vision of Murder by Victoria Laurie
Minnesota – Cherry Cheesecake Murder by Joanne Fluke
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire – Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett
New Jersey – Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich
New Mexico
New York – Vengeance in Death by JD Robb
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon – Candy Apple Red by Nancy Bush
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia – Murder with Peacocks by Donna Andrews
Washington – Lye In Wait by Cricket McRae
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

Hmmm, well… It’s not much! Difficult when I read a series and it all takes place in one spot, plus the multiple ones that take place in NY and CA. I’ll have to update periodically when I get some more books under my belt!