Blogging Skills

Blogging Skills

I’ve been dabbling in the blogging world for years now, and I’d like to think I’ve learned a few things along the way. I’ve learned not to take myself too seriously. I’ve learned to read and review the books that I want to review, not just the ones that are trendy. I’ve learned to be more well-rounded in my topics in order to keep me interested in writing. I’ve been thinking of the more tangible skills that I’ve learned, and also the things I really need to work on.

Things I’m Better At:

Using Pictures

While I might be the best at taking great pictures, I’m more aware of the pictures I take. I’m trying to use better backgrounds and occasionally use props (when appropriate). I’m also incorporating manipulated stock images in my posts (like the picture at the beginning). I think they make posts a little more interesting.

Writing Succinctly

My writing style has always been to the point, but I’m consciously doing it more in blog posts. Sometimes you don’t need the flowery stuff, you just need to get to the nitty gritty of it. And I think it works!

Things I Need to Work On:

Scheduling

Life gets in the way of a lot of things, blogging included. I would love to be able to create a schedule where I could post a couple times a week, but it’s hard when I work a full time job and I have a two year old son. He doesn’t let me go to the bathroom alone, let alone try to write!

Time Management

This goes hand in hand with scheduling. I tend to write what I can when I can. I need to use my time more wisely and create meaningful content.

 

What skills have you improved on recently?

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The Fifty Bookish Questions Book Tag

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I love doing posts like this. I found this from Arctic Books, and I thought this would be a fun way for y’all to understand my reading habit and why I pick certain books. Let’s get started!

1. What was the last book you read?

The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One. I really enjoyed that collection. You can see my post about it here.

2. Was it a good one?

I thought so.

3. What made it good?

I loved how it made me think about current social issues.

4. Would you recommend it to other people?

I definitely would.

5. How often do you read?

Not as often as I’d like. Having a two-year-old prevents that sometimes.

6. Do you like to read?

LOVE.

7.What was the last bad book you read?

I don’t know if it was bad per se, but I wasn’t the hugest fan of Breaking the Glass Slipper.

8. What made you dislike it?

Just wasn’t my jam.

9. Do you wish to be a writer?

Eh? I have a book idea in mind, but I don’t really know if I’m going to go through with it. For now, I’m really happy with blogging.

10. Has any book ever influenced you greatly?

Some books that have really touched me are The Princess Saves Herself in This One, The Alchemist, and Carry On Warrior.

11. Do you read fan fiction?

Nope.

12. Do you write fan fiction?

Nope.

13. What’s your favorite book?

Trying to pick a favorite is like trying to pick your favorite child. It’s impossible.

14. What’s your least favorite book?

Moby Dick. I hate Melville.

15. Do you prefer physical books or ready on a device (like a kindle)?

I love both for different reasons. Physical books are just so satisfying. My Kindle allows me to read with a kid on my lap.

16. When did you learn to read?

I think a little before kindergarten.

17. What is your favorite book you had to read in school?

There were so many! But if I have to choose one, I think it would be The Bell Jar.

18. What is your favorite book series?

Harry Potter for sure.

19. Who is your favorite author?

Fiction: don’t really think I can pick one.

Non fiction: Brittany Gibbons

20. What is your favorite genre?

Either fantasy or historical fiction.

21. Who is your favorite character in a book series?

Hermione and Matilda. I really connected and identified with both of them.

22. Has a book ever transported you somewhere else?

Don’t they all?

23.Which book do you wish had a sequel?

Everything, Everything. It was so sweet!

24. Which book do you wish DIDN’T have a sequel?

Twilight or Fifty Shades of Gray. I was never a fan of either series.

25. How long does it take you to read a book?

If I can be left alone and read, a couple days. If I have a crazy kid and husband to deal with, it could take FOREVER.

26. Do you like when books become movies?

Sometimes. Some adaptations are amazing, while others are just ok.

27. Which book was ruined by its movie adaptation?

I think Ender’s Game. I wasn’t a fan.

28. Which movie has done a book justice?

I feel the Lord of the Rings series were pretty spot on.

29. Do you read newspapers?

No, but I should.

30. Do you read magazines?

From time to time.

31. Do you prefer newspapers or magazines?

Probably magazines.

32. Do you read while in bed?

It’s one of my preferred spots.

33. Do you read while on the toilet?

You gotta do what you gotta do.

34. Do you read while in the car?

If it’s a long car ride, yes. Books helped me survive the 13-hour trips to Michigan.

35. Do you read while in the bath?

Haven’t tried it.

36. Are you a fast reader?

When a book has really captured my interest, yes.

37. Are you a slow reader?

When I have lots of distractions, yes.

38. Where is your favorite place to read?

Probably on my couch under a blanket.

39. Is it hard for you to concentrate while you read?

Sometimes.

40. Do you need a room to be silent while you read?

I would prefer it to be quiet.

41. Who gave you your love for reading?

Probably my dad.

42. What book is next on your list to read?

I’m currently reading Quackery, but after that I don’t really know.

43. When did you start to read chapter books?

Kindergarten.

44. Who is your favorite children’s book author?

Roald Dahl.

45. Which author would you most want to interview?

JK Rowling for sure.

46. Which author do you think you’d be friends with?

Brittany Gibbons. She’s a badass and super funny.

47. What book have you reread the most?

Either the Harry Potter series or The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

48. Which books do you consider “classics”?

Books that have stood the test of time and are still relevant today.

49. Which books do you think should be taught in every school?

ALL THE BOOKS.

50. Which books should be banned from all schools?

NONE OF THE BOOKS.

Do you agree/disagree with my answers? Fill this out for yourself!

Happy Birthday!

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It’s my blogging anniversary today! I’ve been playing with this site for 8 years now. Can you believe it?! It’s certainly grown up along the way, and I think I have too.

I started this blog as What Fiction Means, and I intended it to be solely a book review blog. I got bored with that idea pretty quickly. Now it’s morphed into Meaning Beyond Words, a bookish lifestyle blog, and I’m really enjoying the feel of this more. I’m posting more consistently (although I’d like to do it even more), I’m putting more thought and care into my posts and pictures…I’m treating this like a real thing.

I think I’ve grown as a blogger over the years. I’m trying to be a bit more analytical with my book reviews. I still struggle with finding the balance between research paper and simple review, but I think I’m getting there. Adding more lifestyle posts breaks things up, and I hope you guys can connect to me more this way.

Happy 8th birthday blog! Here’s to many more!

Grad School Decisions

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Something that I’ve wanted to do for a while now is get my Masters’ degree. Although getting a pay bump is a huge plus, the main reason I want to get it is because it’s something that I want to do for me. I had always thought that I’d get it in English, then later pursue a Doctorate degree, but since I’m not in education anymore, I don’t really know how much that would benefit me. Now I think I’ve really decided on what I want to do.

I want to get my MLIS (Masters of Library and Information Science).

I think this is going to be a really fun program, with lots of benefits:

I get to be around books all the time.

Sounds like every bookworm’s dream, right? I can look at books all day long! I can check out all the books I want and fulfill my book cravings.

I can help people.

I love that I can help people find their new favorite book. I can also help them with getting their passport, completing a research project, and pretty much everything else they would need.

I can have more time with my son.

This is the big one for me. I’d like to get the dual certification as a media specialist so I can work in a school setting. I would basically have the same schedule as my son, so I can spoil him rotten and spend as much time as possible with him.

I think the one thing that is really holding me back right now is money. If I just get the MLIS without the media specialist certification, I would save myself about $4000. But at the same time…I don’t know if I’d make it back to school again in order to get my certificate. Plus, I’m trying to go back to school with no additional student loans. I’m still paying off my Bachelors’ degree, and I graduated in 2012! I’ve started a little nest egg for school, so slowly I’ll be able to afford it.

Any suggestions on what path I should take and how to afford it? Leave me some comments!

Bookish Podcasts


As you might know from previous posts, I love listening to podcasts. Usually I listen to true crime podcasts, but sometimes I branch out into different genres…mainly book-related podcasts. Here are the main bookish podcasts I listen to, as well as a few that I might need to start listening to in the future.

wsirnWhat Should I Read Next is the show for every reader who has ever finished a book and faced the problem of not knowing what to read next. Each week, host Anne Bogel interviews a new person and finds out their tastes. Then, she makes recommendations about what to read next.

I’ve been reading Anne’s blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy, for a while now. Truth be told, I think that MMD is what this blog wants to be when it grows up. When I saw that she was launching a podcast, I knew I had to subscribe. I have found so many books to read thanks to this podcast. I have a whole spread of TBR books in my bullet journal (post about that later), and I’m so excited to check them all off soon. The first one I’m trying is Still Life by Louise Penny, and I’m glad I finally picked it up. Thanks Anne!

 

overdueOverdue is a podcast about the books you’ve been meaning to read. Join Andrew and Craig each week as they tackle a new title from their backlog. Classic literature, obscure plays, goofy murder mysteries: they’ll read it all, one overdue book at a time.

I love the tone of this show. It’s just two guys talking about books they’ve read. It makes you feel like you’re sitting in there with them. I jump around with the episodes. I only listen to the ones that feature books I’ve read. There are plenty of books that they cover that I want to read, but I don’t want to spoil them for myself. My all-time favorite episodes are the 50 Shades episodes (numbers 50, 100, and 150). They’re absolutely hysterical.

 

hpatstWhat if we read the books we love as if they were sacred texts? What would we learn? How might they change us? Harry Potter and the Sacred Text is a podcast reading Harry Potter, the best-selling series of all time, as if it was a sacred text. Just as Christians read the Bible, Jews the Torah and Muslims read the Quran, we will embark on a 199-episode journey (one chapter an episode, to be released weekly) to glean what wisdom and meaning J.K. Rowling’s beloved novels have for us today. We will read Harry Potter, not just as novels, but as instructive and inspirational texts that will teach us about our own lives.

I love the idea of this series. I know that the Harry Potter series is important to many people on a personal level, and I like the experiment of reading the series for something more. Vanessa and Casper provide such great points and personal stories throughout their analyses. Not really a spoiler, but at the end of most episodes they try to do a reading activity. Usually it’s picking out a random quote from the chapter and viewing it through the podcast topic’s lens. I’ve tried that on my own, and I think it helps me get more involved with my reading. I want to do it more often!

 

pcJoin PotterCast in a continuing adventure through J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. For eleven years PotterCast has remained your trusted source for discussion, celebration, and interviews with creators and actors from the Harry Potter Universe.

If I can get the backlogs of all the episodes, I’ll think I have died and gone to heaven. Eleven years of Harry Potter podcasts?! Oh man, sign me up! I’m really excited to hear from the actors and see what their experiences were like on set.

 

rgDo you love books? Want to learn how to make the most of your reading life? Join hosts Brea Grant and Mallory O’Meara every week as they discuss tips and tricks for reading better on Reading Glasses! Reading Glasses is a podcast designed to help you get more out of your literary experiences. As professional creatives and mega-readers, Mallory and Brea are experts on integrating a love of reading into a busy lifestyle. Reading Glasses listeners will learn how to vanquish their To-Be-Read piles, get pointers on organizing their bookshelves and hear reviews on the newest reading gadgets. Brea and Mallory also offer savvy advice on uniquely bookish problems. How do you climb out of a reading slump? How do you support authors while still getting books on the cheap? Where do you hide the bodies of the people who won’t stop talking while you’re trying to read? Mallory and Brea engage in a spirited weekly half hour discussion geared towards all kinds of book lovers — nerds, avid bookworms, comic fans and science fiction geeks, literary fiction readers, book hoarders, library users, people who prefer the company of words on a page to a crowded party and casual readers who want to read more.

Based on this description, it sounds like something I would create! I know this is a relatively new podcast (I think there’s only 2 or 3 episodes out), but I’m definitely going to check this one out!

 

tholEnthusiast Jacke Wilson journeys through the history of literature, from ancient epics to contemporary classics. Find out more at historyofliterature.com and facebook.com/historyofliterature.

I love fun history. When I was in college, the introductory lessons at the beginning of literature units were my favorite, because I loved learning the history of the time period and the writing. Now there’s a whole podcast about it! This is right up my alley.

Do you have any bookish podcast recommendations for me?

Use the Force

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In honor of Star Wars Day (you know, May the Fourth…get it?), I thought it was totally appropriate to review this book! I even dressed the part today.

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Have you ever wished that you could be a Jedi and harness the powers of The Force? Joshua P. Warren has uncovered the secret…and it’s probably something you already know about: The Law of Attraction. Warren says you can “improve your finances, health, and relationships by controlling the reality around you”. As a person who doesn’t read self-help books, this seems like a stretch to me. However, going into this with an open mind, I have indeed learned some things and am trying to apply them to my life.

I really loved the idea of weaving Star Wars references into a self-help book. Being a nerd myself, I thought this was a wonderfully creative idea. Also, it really makes me want to rewatch the series. Don’t judge me too harshly on not seeing Episode VII or Rogue One! I need a marathon first!

While I was reading, there was a particular quote that spoke to me:

If you want to attract good things to yourself, you must begin by believing that the universe is a friendly place.

I really like that idea. If you have a negative view of the world all the time, all you’re going to attract is negativity. As the saying goes, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Warren talks about repeating a certain mantra throughout the day, everyday, to reaffirm that thought: I live in a friendly, supportive universe that loves me, and wants me to be happy and succeed. I took it to heart and I now have it pinned to my cube wall at work.

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Warren seamlessly used Star Wars references to enhance his points throughout the book. It didn’t feel as though  he was arbitrarily throwing Yoda quotes around; the references built upon his thoughts and ideas.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. For not being a self-help reader, I’m more inclined to try more books like this. I especially loved the nerdy twist. Give this book a try!

Beastly

Meaning Beyond Words

I am a beast.

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright – a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster. 

You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever – ruined – unless I can break the spell. 

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly…beastly. 

If you haven’t already seen Beauty and the Beast in theaters, I’m going to need you to do that ASAP. It was so good. Emma Watson did such a great job, and the whole movie was magical. *swoon*

I found this book through a great Instagram page, Quoth The Raven Bookshop. They find awesome books and post them so you can buy them! I’ve purchased a few books from them already, and they’re really nice to work with. I suggest you go check them out!

Since Beauty and the Beast is in theaters and is the best thing ever, I decided to read a spinoff of the story! Well, more like a modern retelling rather than a spinoff.

Beastly is a fairly accurate retelling of the classic BatB story. We follow Kyle Kingsbury (I really hate the name) and how he treats other students in his 9th-grade class. One student in particular, Kendra, receives the brunt of Kyle’s arrogance and attitude. After Kendra is jilted at prom, she curses Kyle and transforms him into a beast, with the caveat that the spell could be broken if he finds true love within two years. Kyle starts to believe that he won’t find anyone to talk to him, let alone love him…until Lindy comes along (or rather, until he kidnaps Lindy and forces her to live with him).

Overall, this version of the BatB story is ok. I wasn’t blown away with any of the modern updates. I did think that the use of chatrooms was pretty fun and interesting. Kyle is in the Unexpected Changes support group, which is run by a Mr. Anderson (see what author Alex Flinn did there?) and has participants with screennames like SilentMaid, Froggie, and Grizzlyguy. If you’re a fan of fairy tales, I think you can figure out where they’re from.

Something that I had an issue with was the age group of the characters. Granted, I know this is a YA novel and the characters are geared more toward those readers, but Kendra is expecting Kyle to find true love when he’s in 9th grade. I could barely figure out what to do during school…forget trying to find my one true love! I just feel that that aspect is really unbelievable (even though this story is about a witch transforming a boy into a beast).

In the end, I thought this was an ok book. This is the first in a series that follows Kendra. Will I go and get the rest of the books? Probably not. Do I regret reading this book? No. Flinn does a great job of hooking you from the beginning and I sped through this book. Now I really want to read other BatB books!