On falling behind on blogging.

Oct
14

20 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion

As many of you already know, I’m a college student (tackling senior year!). This probably means nothing to you.

But it means everything to me. They tell you college is what you make of it, and well…I’m making the most of it. My schedule is jam-packed. Between classes, work, homework and thesis-writing, I have little spare time in which I feel like doing anything productive. Seriously. I’m all about putting aside the computer and just…not thinking or worrying about stuff.

Because of this, I severely slack on my personal reading and blogging.

But this isn’t one of my typical apologetic, I’ll Be Back Soon! posts.

I was inspired to write this after reading Amanda’s post on the entitlement mentality.

Every winter break and summer, I put a lot of my time into blogging and reading. Not because I have to, but because I want to. After going months estranged from the community, I begin to crave that normalcy and friendship again. In short: I miss you guys! So I throw myself out there. I participate in read-a-thons, try new projects, become a Twitter-holic. In return, I get visitors here. I meet new bloggers. I expand my blog reading list.

Every time I go back to school, I lose visitors. With no new content to draw them in, TGR sits abandoned. The best I can do is offer occasional posts and comments, which is enough to stay in touch with those I’ve grown closer to, but not nearly enough to build and maintain new blogging relationships. Even knowing this, I still, at times, get that nagging entitlement feeling – the one that says, “They know you’re busy. They don’t expect posts. Surely they’ll keep tweeting you as if you’re still around.” Or, “Don’t worry about it. You’ve established a small following of readers. They’ll be here when you return.”

But the truth of the matter is…they’re not. You’re not. You don’t keep visiting a blog that isn’t putting out new content, no matter how often you used to visit. What’s the point in visiting a somewhat-deserted blog?

It’s not that I enjoy feeling entitled. It’s not even like I truly feel entitled. For me, it’s more about knowing I’ve put in so much work, and the thought of it going to waste really bothers me. No one wants their blog or presence to be forgotten, do they?

I don’t know how to manage my time. I have calendar plugins and personal notes to get myself to read and post, but I can’t get myself to ever sit down and do it during the school year.

Is there a way to fix this? Is there something I could be doing to get back on track, to keep blogging while at school? Help!



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When blogging gets personal.

Oct
04

15 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion

This post was inspired by Jamie’s story about the collision of her blogging and personal life.

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This site, although comprised of posts about books, memes and other ramblings, is personal. It’s my space that I choose to share. My posts may not be specifically about me, but they are me nonetheless.  I take the time to read and review the books posted on here.  I read and react and post my thoughts to issues happening in the community or publishing world. This post is personal, too.

But, as personal as this all may be, it’s an estranged, or detached, form of personal. Blogger friends, authors and publishers, while easy to talk to, are not necessarily the same as family or friends you see every day (in person).

For me, The Grammarian’s Reviews is a sort of separate personal life. Yes, my family and some of my friends know about it. But they don’t actively read it, search for it, talk to me about it. It’s more of a “Hey, did you post this on your blog?” or “Hey, you can write about this on your blog!” type of relationship. So when people “in real life” ask about my blog, or find out about it, I’m totally unprepared. And, in all honesty, I become defensive and nervous.

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At the beginning of this semester, on the first day of my media writing class, I had to introduce myself to the class and explain why I’m interested in media (and what aspects of it). Naturally, I blurted out that I’m an advocate of blogging because I run my own website.

“Oh, really? What sort?”

Again, naturally, I said, “A book review site.”

“Oh. Well, you can have a plug. What’s it called?”

I blinked. I shrugged. I stuttered. Then, in a much quieter voice, I said, “It’s called The Grammarian’s Reviews.”

I hoped – I prayed – no one would write it down and find it later. As soon as I got back from work, I logged on and checked my site stats. Sure enough, there was a miniature spike in page views. (What looked like a spike was pretty much just paranoia. But still.) I wondered if I’d receive an anonymous comment, if someone would mention it to me before the next class.

They didn’t.

But what if they had? Why was I so afraid? It’s not like I have anything to be ashamed of. I’m proud of my work, and I’m proud of the YA and book blogging community.  But that’s the thing.

In my world, when people initially discover I’m a blogger, they want to know what kind. “A book blogger,” I’ll tell them. That’s inevitably followed by the question “Oh, what kind of books?”

Which is when it all goes to hell.

“Young Adult,” I’ll say.

“Oh,” they’ll reply. “Like younger books?” Or, sometimes, “Like Harry Potter?”

“No. That’s middle grade.”

I already know it’s a waste of breath because they don’t understand and have already lobbed me into a stereotype.

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Jamie’s story made me not only reflect upon this, but also realize that there’s a major difference. Being thrown into the book blogging community, there’s already an established understanding.  We may not blog about the same genres or same books or same issues, but we all have a mutual respect for what each other reads and thinks about those reads.

“In real life,” there’s no established understanding. When someone stumbles across my blog, they don’t already have a respect for the fact that I read or for what I read or for why I blog. It’s like I have to sell myself using my blog, without warning. It puts me on the spot. Every time. I don’t like it, but I’ll never deny being a book blogger and YA book reader.

I just need to work on my confidence when put on the spot.

Do you ever feel embarrassed talking about your blog “in real life”? How can you overcome it?



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What did I miss? {8/12 – 8/19}

Aug
19

2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Memes, What did I miss?

What did I miss? is a feature here at The Grammarian’s Reviews showcasing weekly updates and highlights from both here and other bloggers. So let’s get on with the recap!

[review] The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa — I wasn’t sold on this at first, but OMG did it end up being wonderful!

Bout of Books mini challenge — It’s time to relocate those characters!

Whip it Up Mondays — Quick prep tips for handling onions and garlic.

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As you’ve probably already noticed, I didn’t post much this week. I blame both my laziness and the lack of action in the blogosphere. Seriously. WHERE IS EVERYBODY?

Meanwhile, in my world, I’m trying to enjoy my last few days home and pretending I don’t have to go back to school next week.

…School? What? What is that?

(See?)

*knock, knock* Anyone there?

No links this week. Sorry!



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Bout of Books mini challenge: relocate!

Aug
14

80 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: News

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Bout of Books challenge is all about relocating.

 

I’m currently finishing up The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa, a story that takes place primarily in the mythical locations of the Nevernever, where all the fey and other mythical creatures reside.

….But not anymore!

Because I am officially relocating this cast to the Andes mountain range. And you know what that means. High altitudes. Cold temperatures. Uneven, thrilling landscapes. And snow!

How are these characters going to fare? Well, I think a lot less easier than they have it now. (Except maybe for the Winter Court. Watch your back.) I know the Iron Fey books tend to already be action-packed, but I think this relocation would only add to the suspense and drama. The Courts would be more chaotic than ever. Situations would be dire; there wouldn’t be nearly as much time to waste.

And really… who wouldn’t want to see Grimalkin have to traipse through the snow/cold? Plus, I sense the oncoming of an epic Ash/Puck snowball fight.

 

What book are you reading, where does it take place, and where is it going to relocate?

Leave a link or leave a comment!



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What did I miss? {8/5 – 8/12}

Aug
12

6 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Memes, What did I miss?

What did I miss? is a feature here at The Grammarian’s Reviews showcasing weekly updates and highlights from both here and other bloggers. So let’s get on with the recap!

Midway Musings {1} — A new feature to highlight my thoughts midway through my current reads.

How to prep for a read-a-thon — I think this title speaks for itself.

A writing dilemma — How I feel about writing.

Whip it Up Mondays — homemade veggie burgers.

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I feel like the blogosphere got sucked into a vacuum without me knowing. Seriously. Where is everybody?

This week was horrible, as far as blogging goes. Barely read any posts, barely commented, barely tweeted, barely ANYTHING-ed. Likewise, there was barely any traffic coming through. I felt like I was a newbie blogger again, trying to get people to come check out my site. It was a bit….discouraging. It still is. These sorts of weeks are the toughest to get through.

In other news, I’m pretending school doesn’t exist and summer vacation doesn’t end.

Get your objectivity out of my reviews — Amanda discusses the differences between objectivity and subjectivity in reviewing.

What makes a good comment? — Anne talks about how commenting isn’t always easy.

Travel Tales — Elena lists the five places she’d like to visit in the world of Harry Potter.



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How to prep for a read-a-thon.

Aug
09

19 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion

With the start of Bout of Books 5.0 just around the corner, I figured this would be entirely appropriate. Especially because I’m horrible at read-a-thon prepping. (Procrastinator alert!)

 

 

 

1. Wake up early. Or late, depending on how you want to tackle this. I prefer to wake up early in order to start early. But I have known some to sleep late and start in the afternoon/evening.

2. Set aside a few hours of time, even if you have to do it in shifts. Just one hour won’t do it. If you’re really good, you’ll go all Harry Potter and block off an entire eight or so hours. (Of course I say this in reference to when the Harry Potter books were still being released and everyone would set aside an entire day for reading the latest release nonstop until they finished.)

3. Keep your books handy! If you finish one book and don’t have the next one all ready to go, you’re going to get up to look for it, get side-tracked, and end up…you know…not reading.

4. Have snacks and drinks handy! It’s no fun when you look up from the page of your book, snap out of your own little world/reading zone, and hear your stomach grumbling and feel like you haven’t had anything to drink for days.

5. Put your computer on lock-down because you will check Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and all the internet has to offer. Only go on when you want/need to update/track your read-a-thon progress or participate in scheduled read-a-thon chats.

6. Alternate between e-books and actual paper/hardbacks, if possible. Your eyes will thank you.

7. Don’t forget advil. Sounds crazy, right? But, if you’re anything like me, reading for hours on end and straining your eyes sometimes results in major headaches (or worse, migraines) that throw off your entire groove and pacing.

8. Don’t forget bookmarks. If you end up having to leave your reading spot while in the middle of a book, you’re going to need to mark your place. Even if you think you’ll remember the page number. (You’ll thank me when you end up being dragged away for a significant amount of time.)

9. Get comfortable. If you’re going to be reading for hours on end, you won’t want to be in a stiff, back breaking chair. Claim a spot and stay there. Or multiple spots and switch it up!

10. Most importantly, have fun! No stressing allowed. Read-a-thons are meant to be fun, not competitions. If you don’t meet your own goals, no biggie! If you end up chatting more than reading, who cares? It’s all about what you get out of it. Maybe you’ll read two, five, ten books – that’s good! Maybe you’ll meet two, five, ten new blogger/reader friends – that’s good, too! There’s no way to lose. You can only win.

 

 



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A writing dilemma.

Aug
07

16 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion

Right now I’m procrastinating on my writing for Camp NaNo. But right now I’m also writing this post, so it evens out.

Writing is a tricky, tricky thing.

In fact, I have a love/hate relationship with writing.

I love that writing is freeing, giving, senseless, overwhelming, strategic, careful, careless, spontaneous, a jumbled mess of emotions and utterly contradicting.

I hate that writing is constricting, strenuous, overwhelming, planned, stressful, toying, and – you guessed it – contradicting.

But writer or no writer, you already know all this.

The biggest issue I have with writing is the fear that comes along with it (or even the lack thereof). Most times when I write, I write for me. I’m a personal writer; I rarely ever share my work with others, unless it’s shared with trusted individuals or forced for a class. Sometimes I think this shouldn’t make sense, because by day I’m also a blogger, and blogging is writing. I share my writing with all of you, with the entirety of the internet, on a daily basis. So why is it that I don’t want to share what doesn’t make it onto the site, my creative writing?

The answer is simple: fear.

But it’s not the fear you might think. As a writer, I’m not afraid of rejection or harsh critiques. As a writer, I’m afraid of the impacts my stories will have on readers (re: again, lack thereof), of their uniqueness (or rather, commonality), of their skill level. Of course, some writing is always meant to be private and for your eyes only. But there’s always writing that’s meant (or intended) to be shared. But I have the hardest time sharing it. I fear a void of reaction. Of course, this is a lose-lose situation. If I don’t show anyone my work, then naturally there will be a void of reaction. And yet I find myself still stuck in this loop.

The hardest part of this for me is knowing that I’m not following my own mantra, my own advice and cause:

I am a writing consultant. Students come to me for any and all writing-related issues. And I take pride in being a writing consultant, for being the one to tell you that you don’t need to be afraid of writing because it’s always going to be there for you, it’s always going to be what you make of it – it’s your words, your style, your voice. Writing is all about you.

(Although this happens almost all of the time) I was once told by someone that they hate writing. They hate writing papers, they hate keeping journals, they hate creating stories, they just hate writing. Period. I asked them why, and they told me it was because they knew they weren’t good at it, because they didn’t want to be told they weren’t good at it. I told them they didn’t hate writing, they were afraid of writing. Then I told them not to be afraid, because every time you write, you get a little better. You still may not enjoy it, and it may not be the thing for you, but you won’t have to be afraid. There’s nothing to be afraid of if you know you’re doing your best writing, if you’re doing the kind of writing you want to do. You don’t have to love it or like it.

I think back to that moment every time I feel the fear. I like to think it helps me get one step closer. After all, writing’s all about discovering and journeying.



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photo credit: slightly everything via photopin cc

When I’m not reading, blogging or doing homework, I’m cooking. Cooking is a lot like reading and writing: it brings ingredients together to create a single dish that tells a story of flavors, family, friends and experiences. And just like with books, you don’t have to be the creator. Sometimes we’re all just looking for a little eye candy. So here’s a little food for thought!

I don’t know if you all know this, but I’m a total foodie. A foodie is “someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food.” Cooking is all about discovery for me – seeing which ingredients work well together, what flavors can be created, and what new foods can be tried. So now I’m bringing this discovery to TGR!

Every Monday I’ll be sharing a new food find, recipe, and of course, some eye candy.

This week: veggie burgers

Hello, I’m Alissa and I may be turning into a vegetarian.

All right – that’s not necessarily true. But I do love my vegetables, and lately I’ve been a severe quinoa junky. (That stuff is SO good!) So naturally if you put quinoa and veggies together, I’m going to start drooling. …Although technically I planned to post about another food find, after stumbling upon this recipe and giving it a go, I couldn’t resist; I had to share.

Do you see these beauties sizzling?

I had my reservations about making these, though. Years ago, when I’d decided to try going vegetarian, it was veggie burgers that stopped me from continuing a meatless path. Those premade, hard-as-rock patties were beyond unappetizing and finding this recipe brought back the memories of eating what might as well have been cardboard. But then I saw that they called for quinoa and I thought, How bad could they really be?

Not. Bad. At. All. (Of course this one looks way more picture-perfect than mine!)

INGREDIENTS

veggie burgers

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 15 ounces can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoned dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small pot, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil. Add quinoa, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until liquid is absorbed, 12 to 14 minutes; set aside.
  2. In a food processor, pulse carrot until finely chopped. Add cooked quinoa, scallions, garlic, beans, breadcrumbs, egg, cumin, salt, and pepper; pulse until combined but still slightly chunky.
  3. Form mixture into four patties. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium; cook burgers until browned, about 8 minutes per side. [note: I found that this made too much of the mixture for only four patties (I didn't want them that thick), so I ended up with six instead.]

 

In the end, these were absolutely delicious. And hey – I didn’t have to feel guilty for eating two because they’re packed with protein!



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What did I miss? {7/29 – 8/5}

Aug
05

4 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Memes, What did I miss?

What did I miss? is a feature here at The Grammarian’s Reviews showcasing weekly updates and highlights from both here and other bloggers. So let’s get on with the recap!

How do you read…classics? — A new mini feature in which I ask you how you read various types and genres of literature. This week it was all about tackling the classics.

[review] Beauty Queens  by Libba Bray — Satire meets pageant girls meets tropical island.

[review] City of Bones  by Cassandra Clare — FULL of surprises!

Whip it Up Mondays — Doughnuts made easy!

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 I really shouldn’t be typing this right now, having just spent seven hours in a car — and about two of those hours in horrendous traffic — but oh well! It was worth it. I finally managed to squeeze in a mini vacation.

Unfortunately there was no time for reading, and I didn’t get in much before leaving. So my slacking streak is at an all-time high. I’m promising myself I’ll read tomorrow while I’m taking it easy and NOT spending any time in the car. Unsure whether I’ll continue with the Mortal Instruments series right now, or start my first Book Sessions book, Second Chance Summer.

Also, if you didn’t know already: it’s August. This is very, very disappointing for me, because that means school is starting again soon. How is it that I always feel like I never really get a summer vacation?

Bout of Books 5.0 — The official BoB sign-up and schedule were posted! I’m super excited to be hosting one of the challenges!

WP Plugins — New to WP? Not utilizing your plugins effectively? Amanda’s got a nifty list of her favorites for you.

[Not much else seemed to be happening in my Reader this week. Did I miss something? Please feel free to leave links in comments!]



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What did I miss? {7/22 – 7/29}

Jul
29

6 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Memes, What did I miss?

What did I miss? is a feature here at The Grammarian’s Reviews showcasing weekly updates and highlights from both here and other bloggers. So let’s get on with the recap!

Blogging for yourself: a response — Amanda @ On a Book Bender posed a really great question about what it means to blog for yourself. This was my response to her question.

Deanna reviews… Future of Us by Jay Asher — Introducing a new co-reviewer!

TGR’s 2nd blog birthday! — That’s right. I’ve been running The Grammarian’s Reviews for two years now. Where did the time go?

[review] Dante’s Girl by Courtney Cole  — A cute, breezy vacation read.

Whip it Up Mondays — Let’s ogle some whoopie pies. Yummm.

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Well guys, I’ve been slacking. I haven’t picked up a book in over three days. I always do this to myself — book burnout. Last week I plowed through a handful of books and felt like I was on a good, productive track. This week? Not so much. But that’s okay! I have time to get back into the swing of things. Plus, Bout of Books is fast approaching, and that will definitely get me in the mood to read.

In other books news, everyone but me has read The Evolution of Mara Dyer. This makes me sad.

The highlight of my week was the start of the Olympics. (It was killing me that I had to wait until Friday for it!) Since it’s started, it’s been taking up most of my time. I’m a sucker for the gymnastic and swimming bits. If you’ve been missing out on any of it at all, check my Twitter feed. I’ve been live-tweeting about a ton of the events with Mandi!

Blogging for you — Amanda hosted a thoughtful discussion about what it means to blog for you.

Team _____! – Nafiza discusses the breakdown of literary romances.

Looking for a good read? — Liz has a long list of awesome Contemp reads to try (picked by bloggers!).

50 Shades of Grey — WORD for Teens discussed in length the issues with the popular erotica book.

Let’s Talk — Melissa discusses book to film versus book to TV adaptations.



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