blogging, books

Book Bloggers Do’s and Don’t’s

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Not that there are actual rules (nobody panic). (Unless you’re doing something I expressly put on the list of don’t’s. Then wallow in your shame and change your ways.)

No, kidding. But being a book blogger is in fact much harder than many people realize; so here are some tips to help you survive the online jungle, and successfully continue your endeavors for sharing your love of reading.

DO read what you like, and post what you want to. There are few things more frustrating for a bookdragon than feeling compelled to read books they simply have no interest in, just because “everybody else is reading it.” There’s nothing wrong in sticking to your favorite genres. Only write reviews if that’s your preference. Or only post discussions. Whatever — it’s your blog, and most of us are not being paid to do this, so what’s the point of not enjoying it?

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DON’T turn your comments section into Confrontation Central. Yes, you have every right to express your opinion. So do those who comment on your blog. Even if it doesn’t match up with yours. The trick is to maintain a presence that keeps yourself and your readers comfortable. Most people who didn’t like a certain author/series will just say so nicely, and not mind if you loved the minature pandas out of it. If you feel somebody’s really getting out of hand, though, probably the best thing to do is just ignore it, or block it (I mean literally, via technology).

Also, know how much disagreeing is too much for you. If “Mysteries are so retardedly boring, I don’t know how anybody with half a brain cell can read them” honestly doesn’t bother you, then don’t draw the line there. But if you’d really prefer people to stick to, “This one just wasn’t my thing, thanks,” then don’t be afraid to lay down the law. Again, it is your blog, and ultimately your decision.

DO visit other blogs. Especially when you find another blogger who reads a lot of the same stuff you do. Not only can you find some great new authors this way, you build online relationships that may become important and lasting.

DON’T do the “follow for follow” thing. If you really like someone’s content and want to subscribe to their blog, please go ahead. But subscribing only with the hopes that they’ll do the same for you is kind of like only sending forwards of crude jokes to your distant relatives. Most of us do end up following each other, because we build friendships through our common interests. That’s the ultimate hope for a lot of us, not to have 10,000 subscribers (9,000 of which may not even read our posts).

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DO give your honest opinions about books. Yes, I really mean that. And “honest” does not mean the same as “cruel and unusual ways of expressing your personal dislike of a specific novel.”

Of course, it is your blog, and ultimately your decision on how negative is too negative. But personally, as an author myself, I would feel really horrible if I read a review that basically told me to go jump off a bridge (including gory details of what it would look like after I hit bottom), simply because the person didn’t enjoy my book. That’s where I get my guideline from. Tactfully saying, “I just felt this was too dull and I couldn’t relate to the characters since they all seemed not to care that they hurt the old lady’s feelings,” can make the difference between losing and gaining respect among your fellow bookdragons/authors.

DON’T worry about doing ARCs. Now, I may feel a little blue in the face, because this is a topic I’ve covered a lot lately, but it bears repeating. ARC stands for Advanced Reader Copy, and is a free edition of an impending release, sent either by the author or the publisher, in the hopes of getting lots of reviews out before the sale date. Many book bloggers feel becoming someone who gets all the coveted ARCs is the Holy Grail of this venture. However, there are a lot of downsides to having to read a book you may not even like, on a deadline, and needing to post a review that other people are going to make a big deal of. My advice is don’t sweat getting approved for ARCs if it sounds like your seventh circle of hell.

DO become as engaged as you want to be. Jump on the bandwagon for tags if you think they’re really fun. Start accounts on Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, and Pinterest if it makes your little heart flutter with joy. Sign up for blog tours, guest posts (writing and receiving), host giveaways.

And also, never be afraid to step back and disconnect from certain platforms or activities when you know it’s simply overwhelming you.

Remember, all of this only works if you’re truly happy with it.

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blogging, community

Masters and Beginners Updates and Announcements (Read My Book or I’ll Take Away Your Coffee)

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No, I won’t actually take away your coffee (or will I???), but people on Twitter seemed to find this a very sufficient threat. (Since I can’t drink coffee anymore myself, the severity of this hypothetical situation will remain a mystery to me.)

Anyway, recently I a) ran a giveaway for a copy of the re-release, b) suggested starting a book club for my own work (which I swear is not an act of extreme hubris), and c) tried to made serious headway on the revisions for Volume 2.

The results of all this is a) the winner has been selected and notified, and if that happens not to be you, please feel free to acquire your copy through Barnes and Noble’s Nook Press website (https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/masters-and-beginners-daley-downing/1126998956?ean=9781538033111), or I still have copies of the first edition, featuring Toby.

b) I am starting a book club for my own books.

c) My goal is to have Volume 2 ready for publication before November 1st.

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In the meantime, let’s start a book club all about The Order of the Twelve Tribes!

I’m thinking that the discussion date for Volume 1 will be around October 30th. It’s short, easy to get through (I’m not a fan of 17-letter words), and that date also nicely coincides with an important date in the story (no spoilers, moths in the know!).

If you’d like to participate, just obtain or re-read your copy of Volume 1: Masters and Beginners (by the way, either cover, it’s the exact same story), and watch this space for a discussion post that you can all jump in on!

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blogging, community, writing

Two Tags in One (Be Impressed…)

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…because these will be the only tags I do this year. Remember, the thing about time not growing on trees.

But it has been suggested that my readers would be interested in my answers to the Strangest Browser Searches and Writing Rituals tags.

(And I could use an easy post. There are other things going on behind the scenes that are making my life a bit challenging.)

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Honestly, I don’t consider most of my browser searches (for writing) to be that strange. Usually it consists of topics like, “what do you call the daughter of a Countess?” and “depiction of faeries in art”. Once I looked up “which colors to wear if you’re blonde/brunette/redheaded” for a scene where Sophie and Gwen were getting ready for a party, and I was drawing a complete blank on how they would have been dressed.

Most of my searches include things like the correct spelling of Gallifrey (the Doctor’s home planet) and Minecraft stuff (to make sure I get those references right — and even then, I have to double check it with White Fang).

Once I did have to look up Coeur D’Alene, Idaho (because that’s Amelia’s last name, and while I had a general knowledge of the city’s history, I wanted to make sure of the facts.)

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Now the questions for the Writing Rituals tag:

When do you write? (time of day, day of week)

Whenever I can. Though I’ve found better ideas tend to happen earlier in the day.

How do you seclude yourself from the outside world?

Give me a moment to look at this question with the most sarcasm that can be put into an expression. There is no such thing.


How do you review what you wrote the previous day?

With extreme caution. No, it’s usually not that bad. Generally I read the last page or so of what I wrote last the day before, to remind myself where I was and what the plan is.


What song is your go-to when you’re feeling uninspired?

Lately “Meet Me in the Woods” by Lord Huron and my guilty-pleasure-80s-classics (like Def Leppard and The Cure).

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What do you always do (i.e. listen to music, read, watch youtube, etc.) when you find yourself struggling with writer’s block?

Avoid writing, generally (ha, ha). Sometimes I’ll focus on reading or blogging more. Every once in a while, bingeing on a favorite movie or TV show gives me that spark of inspiration.


What tools do you use when you’re writing?

Only the software or the pen and paper, sometimes music, sometimes a movie. (Yes, those count, in big ways, trust me.)


What’s the one thing you can’t live without during a writing session?

TEA.


How do you fuel yourself during your writing session?

See above. Also, the creative input part of music, etc. And taking breaks during the process is very important. Trying to force yourself to sit still and pour forth words when you’re just not feeling it won’t do any good. Taking 10 minutes to throw that laundry in the dryer and empty the dishwasher can make the difference between breaking writer’s block and staying stuck in it.


How do you know when you’re done writing?

I am never done writing, never, mwhahaha… Usually, it’s when the story seems to have reached a natural conclusion. At least for that installment (since I am apparently incapable of writing a stand-alone novel; maybe one day I’ll try).

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blogging, community

The Liebster Award

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Good morning! How are we all? I’m not sure I even remember what day it is! But I do have this post for you! The lovely Susannah Metzler over at A Tea with Tumnus has nominated me for the Liebster Award; I just don’t do the awards/tags circuit usually these days, mostly as a result of time not growing on trees. But I am quite aware that the appreciation for my blog is genuine, and I am very grateful for that.

So I won’t be tagging/nominating anyone else, but I will be answering the questions.

What is your favorite film score/movie soundtrack?

Hmmm. Generally I don’t listen to film scores — well, obviously I’m aware of them when I watch a movie. But otherwise, I don’t really look up the CD or anything. Though I do like the Lord of the Rings score (except I can’t make it through 2 lines of the Annie Lennox song at the end of Return of the King without completely losing it).

What is your favorite band?

Pink Floyd, Adele, Coldplay, and I am utter trash for Taylor Swift’s “1989” album.

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If you could play any fictional character in a movie adaptation of your favorite book, whom would you be?

Do I get to say Avery McKinnon in my own work? Otherwise, probably Sandstorm from Warriors (yes, I am aware she’s a cat), or Susan Sto Helit in Discworld.

Explain what your WIP is about in at least three sentences.

More faeries, talking cats, and geek references. Uncovering a deeper plot (not nefarious, though). Long-lost relatives coming home. More on autism, angels, and background of the Order.

What are your three favorite superheros?

I have to come up with 3? Sorry, folks, I’m just not huge on the superheroes thing. Thor. Doctor Strange. Maybe Logan (circa 2000-2010 in the movie franchise).

What would you name a boat if you had one?

Okay, this will be a lame answer, as I would not have a boat — I’m afraid of deep water. Can I get a toy sailboat for Muffin to use in a kiddie pool? Then I could call it The S.S. Munchkin or something.

Which fictional character would you think would be the most boring to meet in real life?

Wow, I need to beg people not to throw things at me right now! Probably Prof. Trelawney from Harry Potter (although I honestly appreciate that she had a real gift she had to hide). Or the talking tree dude from Guardians of the Galaxy (nobody hit me! — just, how many times can you hear him say the one word over and over?!).

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If you decided to change your name, what would that name be, and why?

Ahh, this is a trick question for me, as Daley Downing is a pen name (but I guard my reasons for assuming this nom de plume with my life — sorry, guys).

What is your favorite genre to write?

Definitely fantasy. Though I’ve tried my hand at contemporary and historical fiction, too.

What are three things you share in common with your main character?

Which one? Since I have several. Also, I don’t tend to have a lot in common with any of them. Well, for Emma or Madison, I am an only child. I definitely agree with Flynn’s love of Pink Floyd and Doctor Who. And like Sophie and Cal, I have read most of the Warriors books.

What is your favorite movie/book quote right now?

“This must be Thursday, I never could get the hang of Thursdays.” — Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

And in one episode of Supernatural, Crowley said something fantastic to his minions — “Under pain of infinite pain!” (I finish my instructions to White Fang a lot with that one.)

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blogging, writing

Why I’m Minimizing My Online Presence

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No, I’m not announcing a hiatus or something like that. By this title, I’m strictly discussing my choice not to use certain types of social media and how much energy I expend on particular sorts of networking.

And there are very good reasons for this.

I am not starting an account on Instagram, Wattpad, Tumblr, or any additional websites on which I do not already exist in some capacity. There are simply not enough hours in the day, sir, ma’am, to throw more into my current schedule, shake it up, and hope that the result is not a hot mess of epic proportions.

While I am aware of the possible benefits to my advertising and marketing that expanding my social media platforms might produce, I am also painfully aware that doing so would require more effort and brainpower on my part. I am not a robot, I cannot come up with amazing content every single day. Hence I don’t want to put myself under that sort of pressure.

Not having my head explode is a bit more important than learning to use my son’s camera or push people to stalk websites hunting down my account.

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I’m not going to fret over the number of Tweets I post per week, how many Facebook things I liked last month, or panic because it’s been 23 minutes since my Goodreads update and no one seems to have noticed. Not freaking out over the fact that you’re not the next internet celebrity is important to maintaining a good self-image. Just because we don’t have 1500 subscribers does not mean we aren’t valuable or worthwhile beings that have beautiful contributions to make to the world.

In some ways, numbers matter. Like, when it comes to book sales. It matters at least a little. Especially when you’re trying to make money. #thestruggleisreal  But it truly is not the end of everything if you never make the NYTimes Bestseller List.

Building a community of readers, supporters, and minions makes life as a self-published author a lot easier. Though we need to keep the crux of the biscuit in main focus as we create our masterpieces — that our sales total cannot qualify the emotional effect our writing may have had on our fans. #drinkingthetearsofmyreaders

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Speaking of writing — I need to concentrate on that more than being on the internet. This is something that all indie authors have issues with: We’re honestly trying to make our word count or page goal for that day. We hit a slight wall (maybe it’s constructed of tin foil?), and decide to take a break. 10 minutes to check our notifications, we firmly proclaim. 35 minutes later…and we’re still on Pinterest.

Sometimes this is all right. Seriously, no one can work ALL the time. However, if this becomes a habit, then it turns bad. Eventually we’ll fall behind on our weekly plans, then we end up pushing back a whole project, and then we’re setting a precedent that could snowball into unfinished works, ignoring deadlines, and just turning our back on something we may regret not finishing.

Anyway, although I am honestly smacking the tin foil wall right now when it comes to completing Volume 2, I am not going to sit around feeling sorry for myself for an indeterminate amount of time. I’m developing a set deadline for being done with the revisions and moving on to the edits, and then to starting a new project.

Because, remember, I have a fear of dying without having written all of my series.

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Unfortunately, there is a lot of negativity around online, and too much of it in my personal space stresses me out. Luckily, I haven’t been the direct target of true nastiness. But some of us have, and we know how ugly it can get. And it makes us want to run and hide (and yes, we are adults). It reminds me of the whole reason I use a pen name and don’t tell anyone exactly where I’m from and indicate that I am actually a Warriors cat in disguise.

Even when I’m not the target, it worries me to see how terrible people can be with each other — when one of the great things about the internet is the chance to connect with one another. Connect, folks, not attack. Aren’t we supposed to be growing in tolerance and awareness? Hint: Yes, we are.

Anyway, I’m trying to avoid unnecessary stressors in my life, and this falls under that.

In short: I have enough on my plate. I should finish my current works in progress. I don’t accept that the haters are gonna hate, and I’d like to be nowhere near it.

Here’s to achieving at least some of this.

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blogging, books

Being a Book Blogger is Harder Than it Looks

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Yes, it really is. Having a book blog isn’t simply read a book, write a review, find some cute gifs, post it and make sure the link uploads to your social media. It is actually much more complicated than that.

Deciding which book to review can be impossible. If you read a lot — which most of us bookdragons do — you won’t have only one finished selection to choose at the end of the week. Plus, there’s absolutely no rule that says the next review you write has to be of something you just read. We’d also like to discuss childhood favorites, assigned classics, and movie novelizations. Unless there’s an ARC that you know you should post soon (because the release date was May 31st and it’s presently June 4th), the best way may just be to flip a coin or throw a dart at a printout of a bookstore flyer.

Let’s talk about ARCs for a minute. They are not all they’re cracked up to be. Yes, it is exciting when you get to be one of the first people to read a new release you’re really excited for. (I do enjoy this part myself.) However, there are also some downsides to ARCs that I think are worth discussing.

They’re time-consuming. It can be difficult to read on a deadline. What if your schedule gets turned upside down and finishing the ARC prior to its sale date just isn’t a possibility?

They may be disappointing. Those bloggers who have been getting ARCs for a couple years now will tell you that just because a book is an advanced reader does not mean it will be the most amazing literary thing ever.

You can feel like you’re reading out of pure obligation, rather than for enjoyment. I know some bloggers have in fact decided to stop requesting ARCs, because it was dampening their experiences too much.

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Striking the right tone is key, and not automatic. Hands up — who here has typed a paragraph of a post, deleted it, repeated this process, and again…and considered throwing yourself off the top of your bookshelves. It is hard to keep producing content that’s interesting, engaging, humorous, insightful, and doesn’t cover the same 14 books over and over.

What happens if your TBR has done away with itself? This actually happened to me. About 8 months ago, I had a TBR that I anticipated would take me the whole year to complete. How wrong could I have been. I finished it somewhere around 6 weeks ago, and am struggling to build up the next. What am I going to blog about?! I feel like screaming from the rooftops.

You hit a reading/posting slump. Your usual genres have become mehhhh. Your favorite authors have swanned off to Costa Rica for a 700-day hiatus. You don’t feel like posting on that fashion magazine you devoured at the doctor’s office out of sad desperation. Send. Help.

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Blogging takes more time than a TARDIS can provide. Oh, the number of instances in which I have begged for a time machine to add 5 hours to my day. After you’ve created the post, searched for images, added said images, re-thought some of the text, edited, changed some of those images, and double checked your facts on book details, you are effectively dead, and only have about 45 minutes in which to clean your house, cook dinner, feed the cat, give the kids a bath, and turn in overdue library DVDs.

Sometimes getting that post up is Mission Impossible. You’re halfway through writing your review, and the kids have devastated the couch. The cat just couldn’t keep that hairball in any longer. Your family informs you the inside of the fridge resembles an uninhabited cave.

Or you realize you just don’t know what to say about that book.

Mixed feelings do not for a comprehensive post make. Haven’t we all finished a novel or biography and just thought, “Well…wow. Huh?!” There were parts of the story you liked, and others that made about as much sense as a peregrine falcon becoming a ballerina, so your overall impression can be summed up this way: !@$#%^&*?! But your subscribers would really prefer: “I liked the character growth between Samuel and Bonita in the early chapters, but once Bonita decided to run away to Hong Kong to raise minature pandas, I felt the forward momentum was lost.”

And there are days when you just cannot form those words.

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blogging, The Invisible Moth

August Recap: Life Events and An Announcement

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So, we are not completely at the end of the month, but in my opinion it is close enough to post the August recap. (Translation: If I wait until the true end of the month, I will forget too much of what happened in the past 4 weeks.)

Let’s start with some general occurences that took place in this neck of the woods (not literally, we live in the suburbs)…

Muffin had his orientation for preschool. He had so much fun he didn’t want to go home. Hopefully this bodes well for the next year or even more.

White Fang completed film camp. He was the editor-in-chief, and learned a lot of valuable software and teamwork skills.

We had company. Which was a big deal because, due to living in a house sans enough space, this does not happen very often. Plus the visitors were two of my most favorite people in the world, so it was all-around exciting.

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In reading:

I finished a few indie titles, and posted reviews on Goodreads. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of The Tomb of the Sea Witch by Kyle R. Shultz, as well as Alexis P. Johnson’s Chivalry’s Children, and I recently finished A Matter of Temperance by Ichabod Temperance. Since I’m currently bingeing on self-published authors, expect to see more GR action on that front in the near future.

In writing:

There has been a disgusting lack of this lately. Or maybe I just needed a break? I did complete a manuscript of Volume 2 as it stands (Mach 3.5 or something), and submitted it to my beta-readers. This was a terrifying but wise decision. I was becoming too blinded by what I saw as the flaws, so getting some outside points of view will be extremely helpful.

Also I selected a new cover design for the re-launch of Volume 1 (happening very soon! *watch this space*), and chose covers for what will be the companion novel to the series (probably a prequel, ’cause I just can’t help myself), and the “field guide” (a sort of mashup of a manual and more backstory on certain characters).

By the way, that’s the announcement — the re-launch of Masters and Beginners (through an online distributor) shall indeed be occurring forsooth! More on that quite soon, I’m sure!

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In entertainment:

The Atlantic Craft released a new Minecraft music video (“Save Our Crown”) that literally brought me to tears. Dammit, guys. Good job.

White Fang and I stumbled on an amazingly-great-surprise movie: The Space Between Us. 

The Space Between Us is SO sweet and touching, I cannot even with all the feels. I checked the rental DVD out for myself, and about halfway in knew I had to share it with White Fang, too. (We also raved about it to our company.) I haven’t been that impressed with a contemporary YA romance in about forever. Highly recommended.

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In random things:

I’ve realized I still don’t like kale, hip-hop, or Star Wars (sorry, fans), and I want to try eggplant fries.

I turned another year older. (No more will be said about that, under pain of infinite pain.)

White Fang and I have watched a nearly obscene amount of The Big Bang Theory.

Oh, yeah, and there was a solar eclipse.

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So, there we have it! (more or less — perhaps going with the less) How was your August, moths? Anything super-exciting for September coming your way?

(Note to the calendar: PLEASE SLOW DOWN. I refuse to accept that it is nearly fall of a year that I swear was still in March about yesterday.)

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