Tomorrow, I go back to work. I’ve been home since mid-March, but was furloughed as of April 1. So before my life gets back to normal (or as near normal as we can be these says), it is time for reflection, which is what got me to this discussion topic:
What have I learned about my blogging and bookish self while on furlough?
These are my personal opinions. I do not expect anyone to agree with anything here, and in fact, I’m certain that many will disagree and/or even hate many of the things I’ve written below. Sorry, I will not argue with you about them, but you are welcome to express your own opinions – be they contrary or comparable.
With that out of the way…
The first thing I learned was that (as I mentioned last week), I follow nearly 900 blogs on WordPress and well over 100 more through Blogspot, RSS and other subscriptions. That’s one heck of a lot of blogs. I thought maybe I should drop some of those blogs, like those that only review books in genres I never read. But then… I can just delete the emails without reading them, right? And yet… with my going back to work (and until I retire, if I can retire this summer), I think I’m going to have to change from “daily digest” to “weekly digest” again! Because you never know, maybe someone will review something that might get me into a new genre (and I’m not really a genre snob, I just have my genre preferences).
Furthermore, I have some strong opinions about things I sometimes see in blog posts, which include the following:
- I don’t like GIFs, videos, or tons of unrelated pictures in the middle of book review posts. By the way, this could be because I’m dyslexic. These tend to grab my eye, and then I can’t move on to read the text nearby these graphics, but…
- I do like to see the cover of the book early in the post, and even more than one version of the cover art is nice to see.
- I don’t like scrolling through several paragraphs of hundreds of words of the summary of a book’s plot to get to your opinion of the book – one short paragraph should be enough, but…
- I love reading as much as you can tell me about how you felt about the book, what you liked, what you didn’t, and what audience you think the book will appeal to (even why you didn’t like it).
- I will probably skim or scroll past the “about the author” part of your review, but…
- I will happily read a separate interview with them if you do one.
- I think blog tours are awesome but I do not find that those that have no reviews on them, and only contain excerpts of the book and information about the author, to be helpful in my deciding to read a book or not, but…
- Cover reveal posts are fun to look at, they can tell me a whole lot (see below), but you should know that they also might not help me decide to read the book.
- I get very disappointed with giveaways because I don’t live in a “normal” country, so I’m almost always disqualified from entering but…
- I love it when you tell me straight away that a giveaway is open internationally! If you say that, I’m THERE (well, if I’m interested in the book)!
- I have a hard time reading blogs with light colored lettering on dark backgrounds, as well as black print on very bright (jewel colored) backgrounds. I also have a hard time reading really small fonts, but…
- I can just zoom in on them, so that’s not so bad.
- I don’t understand why some posts have dozens and dozens of tags and categories, while others have little or no tags or categories, but…
- I have sometimes forgotten to use these myself, so you’re all forgiven for the latter!
I also realized that I can be pretty judgemental about book covers, and I am bored with, unimpressed by, and/or sometimes disgusted to see book covers that portray:
- The backs of women who almost always seem to be dressed in a really bright color like red or hot pink, or at the very least, have a red/hot pink hat on, or are carrying something red/hot pink, with everything else in grey/black/white;
- Headless women in a tight top that focuses on her cleavage;
- Women swooning or ones who look like they’ve just fainted or passed out, or about to do either;
- Women on the covers of historical fiction novels who look like they were ripped off of last month’s cover of some fashion magazine – either because of their hair style, their makeup, or the style of their dress;
- Women wearing any combination of poofy, lacy, silky, shiny, feathery, flowery, sparkly, ball gowns that look like they came straight out of some 19th century cotillion (but would surely help with social distancing today, since they look easily six-feet in diameter), that are made from such huge amounts of fabric, they could probably clothe a small African village, or;
- Men without shirts on, men in tank-top t-shirts, men in unbuttoned dress shirts, or men only partially wearing something to show off their rippling muscles, with or without grease and/or tattoos (as if that is what makes them attractive), with or without showing anything from the neck up;
- Couples posed together with either of them posed with any one of the attributes noted in points 1-6, and/or grabbing the other’s clothes or some a body part (hair included);
- Titles of books in really small, pale print, while the author’s name is shown in huge, bold lettering;
- Titles of books in almost unreadable, flowery, script fonts, with lots of curlicues and flourishes, where you can’t (or can barely) figure out the words;
- Vampires, especially ones with bloody teeth, as well as monsters and aliens who are slimy, greasy, drooling, or just plain ugly;
- Cutesy puppies, kittens, or other animals that look like they came out of a quickly filled-in paint-by-numbers set, where the artist was forced to paint using something other than their dominant hand;
- Covers that look like they used (at best) Pixabay or (at worse) a low-quality phone camera for the background, MS Office Word Art for the lettering, and then mashed them both together using PowerPoint, by someone who is even less artistic than I am. In other words, if you’re too cheap to pay a proper artist to do your book cover, why do you think I’m going to dole out my hard earned cash to buy your book?
On the other hand, I have also learned that there are many books in genres I would never read that have really beautiful covers! For example, fantasy novels can be terribly creative, and extremely luscious! Case in point – just look at the covers for the novellas from this recent post by Krisha on her blog Bookathon!
I’m also finding that I’m getting sick of books with titles which use the words “wife” or “daughter” in them. Seriously, haven’t we moved beyond labeling women as being only worthy if they’re married to, or born of someone? Can’t we get more creative than that with book titles? More importantly, when was the last time you saw a book with a title that included “husband” or “son”? Isn’t that a bit misogynistic? Okay, yeah, I know, sometimes it is unavoidable, but sometimes it is totally superfluous. Case in point – Kate Morton’s The Clockmaker’s Daughter. I’m absolutely certain that she could have come up with a better title than this, especially because the fact that this character’s father was a clock maker comes up what?… twice during the whole novel, and the fact is, her father’s profession is totally irrelevant to the plot. This reminds me that I also really hate it when a book title tries to mimic the title of a famous book – usually a classic. For example, I recently saw someone review a book called “For Whom Death Tolls” which, is the stupidly, over-obvious rewording of “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. Puhleeez!
Regarding social media, I’ve found out a whole lot.
- I still don’t really “get” Instagram, but I’m still using it, sort of, and probably unsuccessfully (any tips would be appreciated).
- Pinterest is okay, but annoying sometimes, especially when they change their interface every five minutes, or suggest I follow a bunch of boards that lead to illegal sites that give away pirated PDFs of newly released books (and I can’t report them for stealing intellectual property because that property isn’t mine). So, I don’t visit the site much, but I do pin my book reviews, and then use that Tailwind app to (manually) share those pins with other boards, and the five “tribes” to which I’m subscribed.
- Twitter isn’t as frustrating as I thought it was, but I’m still too paranoid to get behind on new tweets to keep the home page open for too long (of course, that means I miss TONS of stuff, I’m sure). Even so… I now have over 1000 followers there, so that’s something, right?
- I’m wondering if I should delete my Tumblr account; I almost never look at it, and I’m not sure what good it does. I’m also still sharing these posts on LinkedIn because… well, why not (it doesn’t cost me anything, even if no one ever looks at my posts).
- I hate Bloglovin’ even more than I did before (which is why there’s no link here to my profile there), especially since practically ALL of my followers are now just porn sites. Plus, you can’t delete your account there for love or money! Don’t use it people, please don’t use it, I BEG of you! I refuse to follow anyone there, so let’s hope you have another way for me to follow your blog.
- Strangely enough, with my Facebook page for this blog, while I’ve continued to post links to my reviews and articles here, I’ve actually reduced the amount of sharing of those posts on other pages and groups. This is probably because I’ve been more active here, and I don’t want to spam all the pages and groups I’m on there. (Okay, so I started cutting down after FB released this blog from a six-month jail sentence, but now I’m doing even less sharing from there.)
- Goodreads is very useful to keep track of my reviews and reading, and sometimes the groups are interesting, so I’m going to keep on using it.
Speaking of this blog, during my furlough I’ve successfully been able to keep up posting three times a week. When I go back to work, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep this pace up, so things like these discussion posts might be the first to hit the chopping block, along with my participation in things like Top Ten Tuesday – SORRY! However, I will do my very best to make sure I put up book reviews on Fridays, and continue to participate in the #6Degrees of Separation meme, as well as do my #ThrowbackThursday posts. I can only hope that more authors will agree to answer my Countdown Questions, since I’ve really enjoyed doing those.
Regarding the pace of my reading, I’ve already upped my Goodreads reading challenge once since being furloughed, and it looks like I’ll be upping it again. Reading really is a way for me to cope with this situation. Plus, with more time to read, I’m less anxious about finishing one ARC in time to read another by its publication date. Mind you, NetGalley hasn’t been terribly nice to me lately (despite my 99-100% feedback rating. Yes, really), and even Edelweiss has been sending me rejections for books that I’m certain to adore.
And finally, on a somewhat personal note, I now know that if I’m ever going to write that novel of mine, I’m going to have to ignore my blog, my subscriptions to other blogs, the news, and most (if not all) of the YouTube channels I subscribe to (mostly late-night TV talk shows), to get my butt in gear! But until I retire (which I hope comes sooner than later), I’ll just let that slide and continue on as I’ve been doing, I think!
So… what about you?
Have you been in quarantine, working from home, laid off your job, or furloughed?
Have you discovered anything about your bookish or blogging self that you hadn’t realized before?
Do you think going back to “normal” will be exactly the same for you as it was before the virus hit, or will it be different for you – bookishly and/or bloggingly?
This post is my 9th entry in the 2020 Discussion Challenge, hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight!