Author Archives: What The Cat Read

Armchair BEA 2015 – Blogging Q&A

Design credit goes to Nina of Nina Reads

Design credit goes to Nina of Nina Reads

The next topic of discussion for today is Blogging Q&A. “Blogging 101. All kinds of tips and tricks to get you started or keep you going. Talk about ARCs, reviewing in general, web design, etc.  What blogging platform do you use? How do you network? What are some of your favorite web designs?  Or maybe you want to talk about your own blogging journey, and how you got to where you are now. Either way, we want you to share your knowledge with the rest of the community!”

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I’d like to go on record and say that I’m probably the last person who should offer advice on blogging at this point. Actually, I’m more than capable of providing you a list of things not to do, rather than helpful or positive things to try. Still, even advice on what not to do is helpful, I guess. Okay, yes, I’m being overly hard on myself at the moment, but that’s mostly because during my last 3+ years  of blogging, I’ve made a lot of mistakes and put too much pressure on myself to meet unrealistic expectations. It’s safe to say that my blogging journey has been fraught with ups and downs. Anyway, for what it is worth, here are my Top 5 Things Not To Do When Blogging.

  1. Don’t take on more books than you can realistically review within a given time period. I think this is the bane of most book bloggers. There are SO many great books out there, it’s really difficult to say no or refrain from putting in requests for titles. Some people manage to read/review everything they pick up, and to these people I must say that I admire you a great deal. If you are one of these people, kudos points to you, you’ve managed to do something which I struggle with on a regular basis. But if you aren’t one of these specially skilled individuals, try to limit the number of books you select to review each month and be realistic in what you can take on. Life has a way of getting in the way of things, so take into consideration your other commitments before you say yes to reviewing a lot of titles.
  2. Don’t stress over needing to review the newest released or upcoming titles. One of the perks that comes with book blogging is you have an opportunity to review ARCs (advance reader copies). Yeah, it’s great, and yes, it is exciting to be able to read something before your friends do, but it isn’t the end all to be all when book blogging. Consider reading and reviewing books that are already out in print. In particular books that are more than a year or two old. Sure, you may feel like you are not contributing anything new to the book review world, but trust me when I say, the author whose book you review will greatly appreciate it. And who knows, your review may just be what puts an author’s title back in the spotlight.
  3. Don’t pressure yourself to get posts up every day. The most important lesson I learned since I first took up blogging is that it is okay if you are unable to post every day. Heck, it is okay if you can only manage to post once or twice a week. Do only that which you are realistically capable of doing, and don’t worry about everyone else. This is meant to be fun. If you find yourself stressing out trying to get posts done, take a break. Walk away, go outside and enjoy the sunshine. This is not a job. Now, if you are one of those people to whom this actually is your job and you are required to write-up a certain number of posts per week, then we’re talking about an entirely different situation. And I’d like to speak with you in private about how you got started. But as I said, and I’d like to stress this, this is meant to be fun! If at any time it stops being fun and becomes a chore, stop what you are doing and move on to something else. No one is going to judge you, and if they do, screw ’em. It’s your blog, do what makes you comfortable and happy.
  4. Don’t think that your blog is going to become an overnight sensation. If you want your blog to be noticed by readers, you are going to have to earn it. It takes a lot of effort to create a successful blog that stands out from all the other book review blogs out there. I’m not saying this to be discouraging, and I’m not saying that some people don’t manage to rise to the top right away, but for most folk, it’s going to take time. I’ve had people tell me that it takes a business a solid two years to get established and settled, and I’ve discovered that this is rather true for blogging as well. Make sure you are putting out good, insightful, unique content, and eventually the readers will start coming. And please, don’t consider yourself a failure if you don’t have a lot of followers after blogging for two or more years. It’s better to have a small group of loyal readers than to have tons of “followers” but no one is actually reading what you write.
  5. Don’t do something simply because everyone else is doing it. Okay, this last one is going to probably rub a few people the wrong way, but hear me out. Participating in weekly memes, hosting giveaways, getting involved in all manner of promotional blog tours and big book related events…Yes, these are great ways to connect with other bloggers and gain readers, but they aren’t a necessity. Please note that I am aware of the irony this last tip is generating, especially seeing as I do a lot of promotional tour posts (even more so of late) and I’m writing a series of posts this week for an event that hundreds of other bloggers are also participating in. But seriously, you don’t have to do these things to run a successful blog. If you are putting out unique content, the readers will find you. Your blog should be a reflection of you. If all you are doing is, forgive me for saying this, regurgitating the same series of memes or promotional posts as everyone else, your blog is going to get lost in a crowd of sameness. Giveaways are great every once-in-awhile, but if you do nothing but host giveaways, sure you are going to get a lot of followers, but I guarantee most of them aren’t going to stick around for the other content on your blog. I guess what I’m trying to say is be selective in what you choose to get involved in. Make your blog unique, and don’t be afraid to experiment with ideas. You’ll have more fun it you do, trust me.

So there you have, my top five list of things not to do when blogging. I hope that you found them to be of interest. =^.^=

Armchair BEA 2015 – Character Chatter

Design credit goes to Nina of Nina Reads

Design credit goes to Nina of Nina Reads

Today’s first topic is Character Chatter. “It’s time to give your favorite characters some love! Characters are essential to a story, and they can make or break a book for some readers. Now’s your chance to shine the spotlight on your favorite characters, or maybe your least favorite. Who’s your favorite couple? What are the components of a well written character? What are you favorite or least favorite cliches associated with characters?”

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Hands down, or should I say paws down?, my ultimate favorite character, at this very moment, is Tyrion Lannister from George RR Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire series. He’s extremely intelligent, prefers to use his wit to get out of tough situations rather than brawn, and he enjoys reading about as much as I do. If he wasn’t a fiction character, I’d give some serious thought toward marrying him. I much prefer the intellectual characters over the alpha, all muscle and brawn guys. Not saying that those types of guys don’t have their appeal at times, but after a while they get a bit tiresome. Too much testosterone fighting for my taste.

Sherlock Holmes is another big favorite of mine. Okay, so he’s a sociopath, but he’s a high functioning sociopath. He’s got brains and he’s not afraid to use them. My only hesitation where Holmes is concerned is I worry that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with him. But again, I like intellectual characters. And so that you don’t think it is just intelligent guys that I like, I also am a big fan of Irene Alder (Carole Nelson Douglas) and Mary Russell (Laurie R. King). These women excel in the art of detection and both can/have given Holmes a run for his money.  I’ve greatly been enjoying King’s novels of late, and I loved Douglas’s books and rather wish that she’d write more in her particular series.

Speaking of Carole Nelson Douglas, I’m also a big fan of her character Midnight Louie. It’s not just us humans who are capable of solving grisly murders. This street smart, investigative feline first captured my heart back when I was a middle school student and he’s stayed a favorite of mine ever since.

While these characters are the ones who stand out for me at present, they are by no means the only characters whom I love. If it wasn’t for the fact that I fear I would either overwhelm or bore you, I could talk for hours about my favorite characters. And it’s not just a list full of intellectual characters, either. I’ve got characters such as Charley Davidson, October Daye and Tybalt, the King of Cats, and Elizabeth Bennet on my list of favorites as well. Basically, if I can relate to the character, there’s a pretty good chance that I’ll end up liking him or her. It’s actually a bit of a challenge to pick just one favorite character at any given time. I’m curious to see which character ends up kicking Tyrion off the top spot in the future.

And yes, I have characters whom I have hated with a blinding passion, and characters who I started off liking but ultimately ended up disliking as I continued to get to know them. Sookie Stackhouse in particular comes to mind at the moment. Anita Blake is another, though I still seriously love Jean Claude. Let me put it this way, I don’t particularly care for characters who end up going sex crazy. I like romance novels, and I enjoy reading romance series, but when a character jumps between multiple relationships in a series, I get turned off fairly quickly. Especially if there isn’t a real good reason for it. It’s no slam against the either of these authors, and I will admit that I enjoyed some of the books in their series, but the later books in both not so much.

I don’t know if I’ve answered this writing prompt well, but I’m the type of person who gravitates toward characters who walk a wide range of personality and habits. What will turn me off for one character will often times work for me in another. It really depends on the mood I’m in at the time when I’m introduced to them. And it also depends on the strength of the author’s writing. After all, a character comes to life first through the pen of the person who is writing.

So who are some of your favorite or least favorite characters? Do you have any attributes that turn you off or that you get tired of after a while? Any recommendations on who I should check out? Feel free to share your thoughts with me in the comments below. =^.^=

Armchair BEA 2015 – Social Media

Design credit goes to Nina of Nina Reads

Design credit goes to Nina of Nina Reads

The next topic of discussion for today’s Armchair BEA deals with social media. “How do you use social media to expand your blogging/writing horizons?  Social Media is all about networking and connections, and utilizing today’s technology to the fullest.  Make sure you mention your own social media pages. Do you have another blog, maybe a Tumblr? Have a Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook? Or maybe there’s an underrated social media program that you like.”

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Ah, social media, that wonderful collection of websites which make up the backbone of work and means of keeping in touch with family, friends, and the latest news. I spend more time on social media these days than ever before for work purposes than I do my own personal enjoyment though. And if given a choice between spending my free time on social media or reading a book, watching a movie, playing a video game, or something else entirely, I’d rather not be online at all. It just doesn’t appeal to me as much as it once did.

But since I’m being encouraged to share my social media pages, allow me to direct your attention to the upper right portion of the blog and the three buttons found above my review policy. These will lead you to my RSS feed, the What the Cat Read Twitter account, and the What the Cat Read Facebook page. Feel free to show the felines some love if you are so inclined, though I do want to mention that I don’t use these accounts nearly as often as I probably should. However, I do link my posts to both sites, so if you prefer to follow blogs via Twitter or Facebook, give them a like. Likewise, if you look in the left hand column on the blog I have links to subscribe via email, Blogluvin’, NetworkBlogs, and Linky. And What the Cat Read even has its own Pinterest account.

To be honest, all of these different means of social media came about because either they seemed like a good idea at the time or everyone else had one, so it was probably wise to start one as well. In the case of Pinterest though, I started that one because I use it a lot when looking for possible tasty cooking recipes. As the years have gone by however, I’ve begun to not jump on every new method of social media out there. I just don’t have the time to keep up with them all, especially since part of my work involves handling social media accounts for various authors and publicity work, and I’ve discovered it is rather challenging to maintain some of them when you do not have the proper software to handle the apps. I’m looking at you Instagram. There’s one social media site I can’t use because my phone is what most folks would call a dinosaur.

Yet while I may be becoming old school with my forms of social media, I still greatly enjoy hanging out on Facebook and seeing my friends and family’s posts. And I’ll occasionally lurk around on Twitter to see what discussions or events are taking place in the book loving community. I’m reaching an age though where I’d much prefer to stick to the systems that I know rather than try to learn the ins and outs of the newest social media craze. I will however learn them for work.

Despite my growing aversion to newer forms of social media, I do have to thank it at the same time because without it, I wouldn’t have the jobs that I have today in publishing. It’s thanks to Twitter that I was able to find my position as an editor with Month 9 Books and my former publicity job at Entangled Publishing. And all of them make my job at Barclay Publicity easier. So I can’t really say anything too bad about social media in the end.

How do you use social media today? Do you have any sites that might be worth checking out? Have you, like me, become a bit overwhelmed by all the different types of social media out there nowadays? Feel free to share your thoughts and observations in the comments below. =^.^=

Armchair BEA 2015 – Visual Expressions

Design credit goes to Nina of Nina Reads

Design credit goes to Nina of Nina Reads

The first of today’s Armchair BEA posts has us looking at Visual Expressions by way of storytelling. “There are so many ways to tell stories. Whether it’s comic books, graphic novels, visual novels, webcomics, etc, there are quite a lot of other mediums to tell a story. On this day, we will be talking about those books and formats that move beyond just words and use other ways to experience a story.”

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I’m afraid that this is one post where I’m going to be lacking in what to say. Where once I used to read graphic novels, manga, and comic books, I fear that my interest in this form of entertainment has waned greatly the older I get. It isn’t that I don’t think of them as valuable resources, I’ve just reached a point where I would rather curl up with a good book and let my own imagination create the images for me. Especially since I’ve found that the image I paint in my head often contrasts greatly with the artist(s).

Dani Smith of The Black Dog and Rebel Rose series is only graphic novel writer I follow and support, she’s also a good friend from high school. Her artwork is stunning, always has been and always will be, and she definitely knows how to tell a emotionally moving scene through her drawings. If you are a fan of paranormal erotic books, you’ll definitely want to give this series of graphic novels a try! Skriker is hot, hot, HOT!

Meanwhile there are only two webcomics that I follow currently. The first is VG Cats and the other is the GaMERCat. Can you tell that I have a major love for cats? Heehee. I enjoy both sites immensely because they deal with another of my favorite hobbies which is gaming. Yup, when I’m not reading, or working on edits and/or publicity assignments, I’m most likely working my way through some video game or another. What can I say, I’m a geek. =^.^=

Actually, now that I think about it, I suppose you could consider movie and TV adaptions of books to be a form of visual expression. And when it comes to this form, I engage in it a lot. If Hollywood is planning to make a movie or a TV show based on a book, chances are I’ll see it at some point in time. My ultimate favorite at present is Game of Thrones. George RR Martin is GOD…that’s my story and I’m sticking too it. Just kidding. But seriously, I LOVE the show and the books. I haven’t geeked out this much on a TV show since Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Yes, there’s been awesome adaptations and there’s been some that have made you want to crawl into a hole and cry over how bad a job they did. The great thing about it though is that everyone takes away something different from the movie/show. Some will like it, while others will hate it, and even more would be just “meh” over it. But it gets you talking and seeking out the original content (that is if you are anything like me when it comes to adaptations).

So, what is your favorite form of visual expression for storytelling? Do you have a favorite graphic novel that you enjoy reading? Any webcomics that I should consider checking out? Share your suggestions with me in the comments below. I’m always looking for new reading recommendations.

Armchair BEA 2015 – Library Love

Design credit goes to Nina of Nina Reads

Design credit goes to Nina of Nina Reads

Our second topic for today’s event is: Librarians are awesome. Not only are they helpful, they’re very fun to talk to and give great recommendations. Show your library some love, and the wonderful men and women that run it. Why is your library fantastic? Got any funny stories? Feature your library on your blog? Do an interview with a librarian?

ClipArtI love, love, LOVE my local library. Located in Pine Valley, California it’s one of the smaller libraries in the San Diego County Library system. But don’t let its size fool you. There is a ton of stuff available for patrons to enjoy and the staff is always friendly and ready to help you find exactly what you are looking for.

Pine Valley Library offers a wide range of events for kids and adults. On the last Tuesday of every month we have Bingo. The second Friday of the month is Chick Flick and Chocolate, a women’s only event where we get together to watch a movie and partake in tasty snacks. They also host a quarterly Craft event where participants learn to make four different arts and crafts and are also provided lunch. It’s a fabulous social event and the arts and crafts range from homemade lip balm and bath salts to candles, tile painting, and more. For the kids there are monthly movies with snacks, arts and crafts, guest readers for the younger kids, and games. Every October they host a “Fear Factor” type event where the kids are challenged to try various foods that are Halloween themed: Werewolf toenails (shaved coconut), Brains (sauerkraut), Eyeballs (peeled grapes), etc. It’s always fun to watch the faces the kids make when they try each food. Plus there’s the Summer Movies in the Park where they set up a giant screen in our local park and the community gathers to watch the newest movies that recently released. This year starting in June we get to see The Book of Life, Big Hero 6, Cinderella, and Home.

At the same time, the staff is wonderful. Because Pine Valley is a small town, the library is one of the main social hubs in the community. As such, the librarians make it a point to get to know you and the books that you like to read. It’s wonderful to be able to walk in and be greeted with a smile and a “How are you today?” You won’t get this at the bigger branches in the San Diego County system, which is why I love my small library so much and will miss it greatly once I move.

So what is your favorite library like? Do they offer different activities that you can participate in? If so, what kind? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below in you’d like. =^.^=

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