Sunday, January 18, 2015

2015 - Reading and Blogging Goals (Evie)

     2014 has been a very eventful year for me, in many different ways. 

     It's been a great year blogging wise, but that's mostly thanks to my amazing blog team with Andrea, one of my two co-owners, in the lead (seriously, this girl practically runs this place now and without her we would all be in deep.. um, jelly-o?). For me, this has been a really bat-shit-crazy (with capital C) year. I gave birth to Victoria and, with my hubby studying dentistry, I have been running the house practically all by myself (for those of you still living with your parents: appreciate this time, it's bliss! When you're on your own, you're on your own). We faced some hard times, personal problems, heartaches, disappointments and big changes in attitude and expectations, and while I don't talk about my problems openly on the blog, or any other social media, and even my closest friends don't often realize how difficult my life gets at times, I am like any other human being (daughter, wife, mother, reader, designer, blogger...). I live and I face the reality, and every day I try to be the best version of me, and sometimes I realize it's not always possible. Plus, we all know that "pain demands to be felt". And that's that.

     In a way, the hard times I faced made me realize what really matters to me in life. I know now that family will always come first, and my daughter will always be the most important human being on the planet to me. But I also know that blogging, reading and being part of this community will always be an essential part of my life, too. I might not always have the time or energy to accomplish everything I would like, I might not always be able to read as much as I wish I could, but in the end, I am what I am. A reader and a blogger. Oh right, and a designer (really need to get back on the camel here, too!). And I will do my best to be good at what I do.

     That, of course, means coming up with a good game plan. And before you say anything, yes, I know I am almost criminally bad at following my own game plans, sticking to schedules, and keeping promises I make (to myself, of course. Alright, alright, to others, too). But I will try. And I will revisit this little post here at the end of the year to see if I managed to reach all my goals. (Keep your fingers crossed for me, will ya?)

My goals for 2015:

1) Reading ARCs at the very least one month prior to publishing date and scheduling my reviews ahead.

- I've been pretty good at it so far and I won't lie, it's because I try to be more like Andrea. She is the biggest motivation for pushing myself and staying on top of the game. And you know what? The more I have scheduled ahead, the more inspired I am to try even harder! It's like a freaking snow ball, once it stars rolling down the hill, it's unstoppable.

At this point I have reviews scheduled up till May at least 4 per month. For February I have 7 reviews already scheduled to post and I plan to have all my February reviews scheduled before the end of January. It's such a huge load of pressure off my shoulders - plus, if shit happens, I'm covered!

2) Thinking really hard before accepting books for review.

- I am not a book whore anymore. I used to be, really, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. I love books, I love all the books, and I really want to have them all, and read them all, and pet them all before going to sleep every day, and dress them all in tiny book clothes... Um, OK, maybe not the last one, but you get the idea. 

I used to get this huge rush when opening my mailbox and seeing 5 new book review queries every time. Often times, I would accept books for review before actually stopping to read the synopsis and considering if I even want to read this book. So. Not. Healthy. I'm not going to lie, I only recently learned how to control myself when it comes to books and it's mostly due to a) having less time to read, b) being called a book hoarder by my husband (and not in a, "oh she is such a book hoarder *chuckles* but I still love her" kind of way, more like "stop getting all these books, we are running out of living space" way), and c) finally realizing that (insert huge, exaggerated GASP) I don't really have to read them all. I just need to read some of them, and hopefully find the ones actually worth the while.

Here, having blog partners is also really awesome, because, if my schedule is too tight and I know I won't be able to fit any more books, I can always forward them some of the review requests, especially if it's something I know they might enjoy. We got pretty good at dividing books between ourselves, actually. I know what Andrea likes and she knows what I like, so there's absolutely no problem there. Tiffany covers Canada (by that I mean Canadian publishers), Jess likes NA and romance and indie books, and Debbie is really a pro at chick lit and historical fiction. Everyone happy.

3) Keeping up with series already started and limiting starting new ones to absolute must reads.

I don't about you, but I'm pretty bad at finishing series, even if I really want to, because loved the first book. There's, like, a ton of books on my shelf that are part of series I want to read. I need to get cracking on them this year.

Ones I want to keep up with/finish:

Sarah Rees Brennan's Unspoken (1/3)
Ann Aguirre's Enclave (1/3)
April G. Tucholke's Between (1/3)
Kimberly Derting's The Taking (1/3)
Erica O'Rourke's Dissonance (1/3)
James Dashner's The Mortality Doctrine (2/3)
Anna Jarzab's Many-Worlds a Trilogy (1/3)
Lindsay Cummings' The Murder Complex (1/3)
Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone (1/3)
Gretchen McNeil's Don't Get Mad (1/3)
Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me (1/3)
Rachel Cohn's BETA (1/?)

4) Writing book-to-movie reviews.

I watch movies based on books, I have seen some great ones recently, there are more of them coming up soon, so why not. Could be fun!

5) Writing some posts about blogging, sharing tips, answering questions.

I will leave discussion posts to Andrea, she's pretty great at those, but I would like to do some 101 posts, just not the offensive "you're doing it wrong" kind of tips. Only helpful suggestions and insider knowledge! Anything in particular you'd like me to write about? Let me know!

6) Socializing more with bloggers, authors and readers on social media and blogs.

That means reading more posts and leaving more comments. I am so bad at it. Not because I don't want to, or I'm a snob or something, I just can't seem to find time to keep up. But I promised myself to do one hour of networking per day. And I will.

7) Reading one book every two months in my native language.

We publish some fucking good Polish fantasy, so why not.

8) Blogging mostly for myself and not giving a shit what others think.

This is a big thing for me, because I lack self-confidence. English is not my mother tongue, writing reviews requires a bit more effort and time (proofreading, improving sentences and paying extra attention to mistakes and miscommunications). And I would like to say that I know what I'm doing, that I've been blogging long enough to be confident etc, but hell, half the time I'm expecting someone will come and yell at me for something I did wrong (ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but I'm always very self conscious). 

It's particularly hard with so many people in this community always judging others and writing posts about what everyone else is doing wrong. "Too much self-promotion, too many blog tours, too many things in side-bars, too many reviews, too little reviews, too many selfies with books, too many selfies without books, too many selfies, not nearly enough selfies.." It's dizzying. Whenever someone writes a downer post like that, I have to wonder if I'm one of the people they're complaining about. And I shouldn't even care, because it's just someone's opinion and they have every right to express themselves, AND YET, it feels very personal. Am I the only one who feels this way? Maybe I'm paranoid(?)

I just need to let it go. (Cold never bothered me anyway....?)
I won't be able to really express myself, if I will always think about what people will think. Same for reviews, sure I feel bad, but if a book sucks, I'll say it. And if I feel like taking a selfie with my books, I will take a fucking selfie with my books. And if I feel like hosting a giveaway and shamelessly asking for followers for entries, I will do that, too.

So that's that.

9) Doing things differently.

I want to try new things in blogging and see what works best. I started creating Pinterest boards for books, pinning pictures that make me think of something or someone in the story. I want to make more bookish crafts, post more creative entries, keep it fun and exciting all the time. Blogging should be fun and exciting, right?

10) Expecting the unexpected.

I'm leaving this space blank and I will fill it with something awesome in the year 2015. Guess we'll see what that will be.

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