January Wrap-Up

Every month I intend to create a bloggie wrap-up.  I swear to myself I’m gonna do it next month.  Then, the first of the month rolls around and I read Fyrefly’s and DevourerofBook’s, among others, and I say, “Ah CRAP! I forgot to do a wrap-up post!  Dang it!  Okay, I’ll do it next month, I swear…”  And you’ll know how many times I’ve actually followed through on that when I say, “Yay! This is my first monthly wrap-up post!”  LOL.

K, I have ADD bad.  I get distracted so very easily.  Sometimes it’s TV or gardening or doing stuff with the kids, and sometimes it’s computer games like SecondLife or World of Warcraft or the latest, face book apps.  SecondLife pulled me away from everything for about 5 months straight, and now I can’t remember the last time I was on.  With WoW, I’d learned a thing or two from SL, and so I didn’t go so long or so deep, but still I was absent for a while, traipsing through Azeroth.  Facebook games are so getting old, and I’m down to a few that have to be tended daily:  Farmville, the café game and the pet games.  I’m mostly still doing those because my mom is actually on facebook, SHOCK! and the kids play, too, so I play with them.

Where was I even going with that?  Oh, ADD… lol, I swear, that wasn’t on purpose!  Okay, I’m lost now… that was funny, and I laughed, and lost my train of thought.  Oh well, must not have been too important.  That’s why I like to outline things, and why I hate stream of conscious storylines.  I get lost enough in my own thinking, I don’t need to do so in a book!

Moving on…

I decided during Bloggiesta, that the best way to do a wrap-up post was to write it all month long, keeping track of commentors and other things that happen, so I started this post about a week after Bloggiesta, because I got distracted and it took a while to get back to it.  Maybe that’s where I was going with that up there. :-D

Maybe ADD is why I hate long paragraphs?  It feels like being trapped in a room with no windows.  I often skim through the middle of them, or just read the first and last lines of it and move on.

Moving on…

During the Month of January I:

Started my first book challenge, The Welsh Reading Challenge, because I wanted to read more books relating to my own heritage, but needed a little prod to do it and keep on track. The fact people joined the challenge was GRAVY :-)

Joined a total of 13 reading challenges, 11 of which are being tracked on my Reading is Challenging! page, as well as two more at LibraryThing:  The 75 Book Challenge, and the Books off the Shelf ChallengeThe Sookie Stackhouse Challenge was in progress, though I don’t know if I can call it progress, since I have YET to pick up the first book. Actually, I picked it up, read 2 paragraphs, then put it back down… don‘t tell BethFish :-D.  This is the most challenges I’ve ever participated in, and I don’t expect to complete them all, realistically, but I’m hoping!

Spent a total of 21 hours working on blog improvements as part of Bloggiesta.  Thanks, Natasha! And after all the work everyone else did and the mini-challenges I wanted to do but didn’t get to, I now have a longer to-do list than when I started!

Created The Welsh Reading Challenge blog.  After reading how other bloggers who host challenges have found a separate blog is a better way to keep it all organized, I started the blog for TWRC during Bloggiesta, and had it open and ready for visitors about a week later.  We’ve also got a couple sponsors, some mini-challenges in the planning stages and some prizes on the way :-) Too cool!

Started a weekly award called The Kool-Aid Flavor of the Week.  I’m still trying to figure out the exact criteria for this, but right now it’s been for people who are doing something to make the world better.  Presenting Lenore received my inaugral award for her International Book Blogger Mentor Program, and She’s Too Fond of Books received the second for her post about Kiva.org and how micro-lending requires so little of us and can make such a difference in the life of someone overseas.

Joined the Tolkein Readalong.  I’ve been wanting to read the Lord of the Rings for a long time, but just needed the push.

Books read and reviewed in January:

Of Bees and Mists by Erick Setiawan ~ A magical and fantastic adult fable about love, self-respect and self-confidence, about doing what’s right and forgiveness.  I gave it 4 stars.  It counted toward my ARC Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge, and POC Reading Challenge.

Fruits Basket, Volume 5 by Natsuki Takaya ~ I love the Furuba series, and volume 5 introduced Kisa, the tiger, and Hanajima’s little brother.  I gave it 5 stars.  It counted as a food title for my What’s In a Name?3 Challenge, Manga Challenge, and POC Reading Challenge.

Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland ~ Atrocious, far-fetched and just plain BAD. 2 stars.  It counted toward my ARC Reading Challenge and New Author Challenge.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl ~ Filled me with warm feelings of childhood and chocolate, and was a pleasure to read cuddled up with Maggie.  I gave it 5 stars.  It counted for The Welsh Reading Challenge.

Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr ~ I read this one with Mags, and since it was a re-read for me, I had Maggie sit down and write her first book review.  I did help her with grammer and spelling, but the words and thoughts expressed are totally Maggie… lol… including her expressing how much she disliked having to sit and write a review on a snow day from school when she could be outside playing.  Mags gave it 4 out of 5 stars.  This counted towards my We Didn’t Start the Fire Challenge

Islands Apart by Ken McAlpine ~ Interesting reflection on life in our modern world and how our advances in technology are contributing to a decline in interpersonal relationships, as well as a disconnect from nature.  I gave it 4 stars.  This counted for my ARC Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge, and We Didn’t Start the Fire Challenge.

The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine ~ Reading this felt like a prolonged hug from creepy Uncle Stan at the family reunion, but was a necessary evil.  Still, I stand by my 2.5 rating, which is based more on the writing itself than the book’s subject material.  I wasn’t wowwed by Levine’s writing, though it had some beautiful moments.  This book counted toward my ARC Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge, and POC Reading Challenge.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein ~ I finished off this month with a comfort read and old friend.  Even though it was a third read through, not to mention the numberous times I watched the 1977 cartoon of it growing up, it still held my attention and kept me in suspense, a sure sign of a classic book.  5 stars for sure.  This was for the Lord of the Rings Readalong and counts toward my 451 Challenge.

People who Commented:

Bluestocking from The Bluestocking Guide
Kathy at Bermudaonion
Wendy, the Literary Feline at Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Anna at Diary of an Eccentric
BethFish at Beth Fish Reads
Kailana at The Written World
Ita
debnance at readerbuzz
Care at Care’s Online Book Club (Hi, blogging buddy!)
Mona Everett
Aarti at B O O K L U S T
Annette
Sally906 at Sally906’s Reading Challenges
Sharon at Ex Libris
Eibhlin
Lynda at Lynda’s Book Blog
Ladybug at Escape in a Book
Aastacia
Amanda at Life and Times of a “New” New Yorker
Serena at Savvy Verse & Wit
Susan Evans at Well-Mannered Frivolity
Melanie at Cynical Optimism
Shannon at Flight into Fantasy
Sheila at One Person’s Journey Through Books
Janet at Fond of Snape
Vasilly at 1330v
Snowbell
Jack at Slightly off-center
Debbie at Debbie’s World of Books
Amber at Mommy Mania
Zee at Notes from the North
Meghan at Medieval Bookworm
Gina at BookDragon’s Lair
Rebecca at The Book Lady’s Blog
Jennie at Biblio File
Amused at Amused by Books
Michelle at Michelle’s Masterful Musings
Rebecca at Lost in Books
Lenore at Presenting Lenore
unfinishedperson at Unfinished Person
Marie at The Boston Bibliophile
Dawn at She is Too Fond of Books
Rhinoa at Rhinoa’s Ramblings
Traci at Traci’s Book Bag
Laza at Gimme More Books!
Grad at The Curious Reader
Sandra at Fresh Ink Books
BookMoot at BookMoot
Jackie at Literary Escapism
Janelle at Brimful Curiosities
Novroz at Novroz’ Life
Jennifer at Rundpinne
DanaB at Windows Wide Open
Nisé at Under The Boardwalk
Alayne at The Crowded Leaf
Violet at Violet Crush
Angie at Annie’s Home
JDaniel4’s Mom at JDaniel4’s Mom
Ann Marie
Joy at Joy’s Blog
Stephanie at Bad Mom
Emerald Yomi at Emerald Yomi
Debbie at Wrighty Reads (go lefties!)
Pippi at Pippi’s Postings
Memory at Stella Matutina
Petunia at Educating Petunia
Sarah at SmallWorld Reads
Lisa at Online Publicist
Myriam Kross
Guatami Tripathy at everything distils into reading
Ariel at Sycorax Pine
Nicole at Linus’s Blanket
Kay at The Infinite Shelf
jo at attalife
Dawn at For the Love of… Eloquence 
Kimberly at A Child of the King!
Mizhelle at Life Can’t Wait
Amateur Reader at Wuthering Expectations
Keely at The Un Mom
Rebecca Reid at Rebecca Reads
Molly at my cozy book nook
uninvoked at uninvoked 
Stacey at Confessions of a Pastor’s Wife
Lisa at Lit and Life
Vicki at Reading At The Beach
Callista at SMS Book Reviews
Farmlanebooks
Meg at write meg!
Marce at Tea Time with Marce
Jenny F at Have a Happy Day
Irene at Irene’s Desk
Wordlily at Word Lily
Beth at Weavings
Laurel-Rain Snow at Laurel-Rain Snow Creations

And that’s a total of 81 commentors so far (1/25)

Other fun facts:

Kitty Litter Cake (and Cat Litter Cake), Gary Larson (and The Far Side) and qoutes for The Book Thief are the most widely used search terms that bring people by, along with Confessions of a Shopaholic and Vampire Kisses bringing in plenty, too. “erotomania” surprisingly, brings in a fair share. Uh oh, do I have a stalker?

Weird Things From Google Alerts

Okay, I was listening to Natasha on That’s How I Blog! when my connection, or blog talk’s, not sure, crapped out.  I was going to have to listen to it a second time anyway, since the kids decided to have a screaming match and wanted me to referee.  NOW, now that I’m NOT listening… they’re angels.  Better not type too loud, they’ll be in here fighting and fussing and chasing me off the computer!

*sigh*

So, during Bloggiesta, there was a mini-challenge about setting up the Google alerts.  I set up about 4 or 5, and then I get an email once a day with detailed web traffic that used the terms I put in.  So far, most of them link back to either my posts, comments or tweets.  Or they simply link to posts that happened to contain all the words, but not together. “Reading the other team’s stats, the Welsh rugby team has a challenge ahead of them!” has Welsh, Reading, and Challenge, but has NOTHING to do with the Welsh Reading Challenge.  Silver lining, I suppose, I’m learning a LOT about rugby… lol

But once in a while, it turns up a treasure.  There’s a blog out there named Scaling Mt. TBR and I felt an immediate kinship.  She reads a lot of historical romances and not as many books as I, but we rode the same wavelength.  She even has a Mountain pic in her header, like I do, but hers is massive and snowy and intimidating.  I like my green and trees and lake with the mountain.  There’s LIFE around my books.  I like her pic, too, but I like mine better ;-)

I’ve also discovered the Welsh Reading Challenge is sponsoring the Left Coast Eisteddfod.  It’s posted on the Hiraeth page, as well as being in a widget, but I didn’t think of it as sponsoring, since I didn’t give money.  I thought I was only spreading the word.  I do support the event, and would go if I could.

Then there’s Wuthering Expectations.  I had to laugh when I read this:

As a side note, see here for the brand new Welsh Reading Challenge.  Now we just need an Irish challenge, and a Jersey and Guernsey challenge, a Cornish challenge, an East Anglian challenge, etc., etc.

I commented that actually, if we just went with Celtic Reading Challenge, it’d take in Irish, Scottish and Welsh, and the rest didn’t matter anyway :-D  I think Care said she’d like a Celtic one, too, so it’d work out.  I want to read Anam Cara (suggested by a good friend), and I could do that with a Celtic challenge.  Ah well, next year…  By the way, Amateur Reader at Wuthering Expectations is hosting a Scottish Literature Reading Challenge, but I don’t completely understand the instructions.  I do know this, though:  If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap!

So, do you use Google alerts?  Anything interesting come up for you?  Have you ever discovered you were linked somewhere and didn’t know it?  Was it a good or bad thing?

Reading May Be Challenging, But So Is Saying NO!

Literary Escapism New Author Challenge 2010Yeah, yeah… I’m already in book-deep with all I would like to accomplish with my reading this year, especially if I get distracted by some new fancy and forget to read for a couple months, but I couldn’t help signing up for a couple more reading challenges!

Well, one isn’t really a stretch for me.  Literary Escapism is hosting the New Author Challenge 2010, and I figured this would be an EASY challenge for me given the majority of my planned reading this year (and it’s pretty much all planned already) is reading ARCs by authors new to the publishing field and therefore new to me.

I want this to be an easy challenge, so you can pick to do either 15, 25 or 50 new authors.  It all depends on how fast you read and how adventurous you want to be.  For me, I’m trying another 50 new authors.  If you reach your goal halfway through the year, don’t stop.

So, if you’ve seen the ARC-alanche page, which I plan on reading everything on it by the end of this year, then you’ll see that signing up for 50 new authors is an easy thing since there are over 60 titles there ;-)  AND I’ve already finished 2 with Erick Setiawan and Lori Handeland, so I’ve only got 48 more to go!

By the way, if you hurry over and sign up for this one, you could be the 100th person in Mr. Linky :-) (Mr. Monk would love that!)

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Terry Pratchett 2010 ChallengeDuring Bloggiesta, while doing the “comment on a new-to-you blog” mini-challenge, I found out there was a Terry Pratchett reading challenge and squirmed with delight… and pain.  I wanted to do it so badly!  I loved Nation by Pratchett, as well as The Color of Magic mini-series, and wished I could read a few of his books this year.  But, ALAS! my reading schedule is so full already, when and how could I slip in more?

Then I found out I’d only have to read ONE book for it, and surely I could slip in ONE book, right?

Marg at ReadingAdventures is hosting the Terry Pratchett 2010 Reading Challenge

The challenge will start from 1 December 2009 and run through to 30 November 2010. There are several different levels of participation for you to choose from:

1-3 books – Cashier at Ankh-Morpork Mint
4-5 books – Guard of the City Watch
6-8 books – Academic at the Unseen University
9-10 books – Member of Granny Weatherwax’s Coven
10-12 books – Death’s Apprentice

You can either be reading the books for the first time, rereading, or even watching the TV adaptations if you like! As long as everyone has fun I will be happy! Please also do not feel limited to only reading the Discworld books as any books by Terry Pratchett will count for this challenge.

I’m going for the Cashier level, but may end up a little higher, given you can watch the shows, too.  I wouldn’t mind watching The Color of Magic once or twice.. or ten times.. more.  Tim Curry, Sean Astin, that guy from Braveheart who played Hamish’s dad, and Rincewind.. lol.  I have to smile just thinking about Rincewind and Death (who was voiced by Christopher Lee) arguing. 

My planned reading for this so far is:

  • The Color of Magic -already on my “currently reading” pile
  • Good Omens co-authored with Neil Gaiman – I’m dying to get to this one!

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Jane Austen ChallengeHonestly, I’ve felt a bit lazy and guilty for not having a Jane Austen challenge on my list.  I failed miserably on last year’s challenge, but I think that was due to poor planning and organization.  Hopefully that’ll improve this year, so I’m signing up for another go ’round with Jane.  I still have Persuasion to read of her novels, and I have Sanditon, Lady Susan and The Watsons on my to-read list.  Plus Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is somewhere on Mt TBR.  AND I know I’m gonna read her anyway, so why not do it in a challenge.

Haley at the Life (and Lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object (what a name for a blog!) is hosting a Jane Austen Challenge this year.

–Levels:

**Newbie 2 books by J. Austen, 2 re-writes, prequels, sequels, or spoofs (by other authors)

**Lover 4 books by J. Austen, 4 re-writes, prequels, sequels, or spoofs (by other authors)

** Fanatic 6+ books by J. Austen, 5+ re-writes, prequels, sequels, or spoofs (by other authors)

I believe this is a READING challenge, so movie adaptations and such wouldn’t be included, so I’m just going to shoot for Newbie level since, as I said before, my reading planner is already exploding.  My planned reading for this is:

  • Persuasion - already on my currently-reading stack
  • Lady Susan/The Watsons/Sanditon
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies with Seth Grahame-Smith

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Maybe I should change this blog title to “Confessions of a Reading Challenge Addict”?  Though, I KNOW some of you are even WORSE than me.  Y’all are a BAD influence!  LOL  Which is why I love ya ;-)

#Bloggiesta – El Fin

Bloggiesta endOne thing I’ve learned that I already knew but just hadn’t realized and applied to Bloggiesta is… I’m a sprinter.  I got an incredible amount of stuff done on Friday, not so much on Saturday, and then today has felt like a huge brain-ooze.  But, here I am at the finish line, even if I’ve drug butt the last 6 miles… OKAY, 16 miles.

Today has reminded me of the scene at the end of Run, Fatboy, Run! Where he’s at the wall and is ready to quit.  I have to say that it’s definitely the help and encouragement of fellow bloggers that kept me going.  And I still have a few more things I want to get done, but I think I’m out of gas for this weekend.  But I’ve been writing them down on post-its for later.

First off, I want to give a rousing THANKS! to Natasha at MawBooks for organizing Bloggiesta in the first place.  AND to thank the publishers and sponsors who have provided the prizes.  I also have to give a special thanks to everyone who thought of and hosted the mini-challenges.  There are a LOT of things I just would have NEVER thought to do that I found out about on their blogs.  I still want to go through a few more, but again, too pooped out to do it tonight.  Blogging with children is a LOT of stress!

So Natasha asked for the following in the wrap up post:

Let me know how many hours you spent on the challenge, the mini-challenges you participated in, how many comments you left other bloggers, what you accomplished, what you liked best and any constructive criticism you might have.  I also need some ideas for mini-challenges for the next Bloggiesta so let me know!

So here we go:

I spent 12 hours working on Bloggiesta on Friday, 4 hours on Saturday, and 5 hours on it today.  That’s a total of 21 hours of Bloggiesta bonanza!

I participated in the following mini-challenges:

  1. Emily’s Reading Room - set up Google Alerts
  2. Books, movies, and Chinese Food - created an elevator pitch
  3. Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Set Goals for 2010 - firmed up and fleshed out my main goals for 2010
  4. Bloggiesta Mini Challenge:  Footers - Got a copyright doodad widget in the sidebar.
  5. Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Clean Up Your Feedreader!
  6. BethFishRead’s Mini-Challenge - Got a fun rainy-day rant wrote up for later.
  7. Go forth and comment - I’ve commented on more than 10 new-to-me blogs now.
  8. Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge – Dead Links - last minute mini-challenge completed
  9. Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge Sign-In – made tons of comments on several blogs, both old and new
  10. Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Blogging Buddies!! - Hi Care! :-D

As to how many comments I have left, I could NOT even BEGIN to say, because I’ve done my best to keep up with my Google Reader, and to leave comments on the posts as they’ve came up.  Plus the ones that are tweeted.  AND the ones that are posted through Networked Blogs on faceboook.  I’ve gone cross-eyed this weekend from all the montior-reading! :-)  I should’ve grabbed one of those people-counter-clicky things and ticked off each comment.  It’d have to be between 60 and 70 comments.

Things that I accomplished this Bloggiesta that I’m most happy about, besides mini-challenge stuff, is that I’ve updated all sidebars, widgets and pages.  I’ve decided that, for now, I’m going to take a break from Viral Video Wednesday.  It was something for my own pleasure, anyway, and I ended up doing a LOT more video searching and watching than I did reading.  I may still have a random video post, but not a regular meme for a while.  I edited my Mt. TBR inventory page to be just my ARCs and then put a link to my LT Catalogue if people want to see what ALL books I have, which is over 1000 books.

What I’m super-excited about, though, is that I’ve got a separate blog set up for The Welsh Reading ChallengeRhinoa, host of the Manga Challenge, and BethFish, who hosts Sookie Stackhouse Challenge and What’s in a Name?3 Challenge, both had talked about making a separate blog for their challenges so that they can keep things better organized.  Now that I have the Welsh Reading Challenge blog, I can do so much more, like have featured authors, places for the reviews, and list suggested reading.  I’m looking forward to really getting it finished so I can announce it’s grand opening :-)  Maybe I’ll be able to get a few sponsors and prizes then ;-)

Minor adjustments were made to better organize and navigate the blogs pages and widgets were also made.  One thing that may change later is the pages and categories.  I think I’d like to make a page to list the review links for all the books I’ve reviewed.  I haven’t decided whether to list them by author or by title, but I suppose I could do both.  As for categories, I’m thinking “Blog Reviews” may be to broad a category.  I may break it down by genres, that way it’d be easier for someone looking for a specific book or topic to find.  I know that when I was visiting new blogs for the comment challenge, I looked through their categories like Reading with Tequila’s 5 Shots books (now I have Mockingbird coming in the mail) and English Major’s Junk Food’s Jane Austen label.

As for ideas for the next Bloggiefest in June… can’t wait, counting down already!  I don’t know, really.  I’m content with leaving such things to the more experience and learned blogging folks.  By June, I’ll have been blogging for 2 years, which is still a bit young.  THEN, remember all the sidetracks and diversions and breaks I’ve taken, and it probably averages out to me being an 8-month-old blogger, if that much.  I’m just hoping that I won’t get distracted between now and June!  I’ll try to have a better answer by then ;-)

Bloggiesta Progress Update #5

PedroOkay, I’m having a spastic moment.  There’s some weird smell somewhere in the house that smells like maple syrup, hot dogs and Fat Bastard.  I took out the overflowing trash can in the kitchen, which was a challenge.  I had to put a black trash bag over can and turn it over… then sweep up everything that had fallen out.  JOY!  But I’m still smelling it.  Maybe I need a shower?  And now I’m getting  a bit of a headache and SOMEONE has run off with the Ibuprofen. Grrrr….

Oh, and I forgot to eat today, so now I’m in that “Whoever gets in between me and the TWINKIES will DIE!” hunger mode.  And I don’t even LIKE Twinkies!  LOL, but I did love Zombieland.

So I’m just a bit ADD at the moment, and was going through my starred stuff in my Google Reader.  Some of those posts I can’t even remember WHY I starred them.  Some of them were for challenges and to bookmark them so I could blog about it, but then I forgot to unstar them.  But one of them was a fun distraction:

Just for fun: stress test

Dawn at She’s Too Fond of Books had posted Just for fun: stress test last June, a time of year when one kid was gone to Dad’s, another was in summer school, and the third was spending all day outside with her friends.  So it was a LOT less stressful then that it was a few minutes ago when I looked at the not-moving, but “Hey, they ARE moving!” pics.

Apparently, the pictures are suppose to gage your stress level.  The more stressed out you are, the faster the images “move”.  They are, of course, NOT moving.  It’s only an illusion.  But the funny thing for me was how much faster they seemed to be going today than six or so months ago.  That one on the bottom is waving like a flag in a hurricane for me!

So how did you fair with them?  What’s your stress level?

TSS ~ Bloggiesta and a Bitch Slap

The Sunday Salon.com
Good morning, bloggie world :-)  The sun is shining bright and warm… through my window it’s warm, outside the temps are brutal.  I’ve been very productive with Bloggiesta housekeeping, mini-challenges and stuff, this weekend and I feel good.  I even finished a book, went to the grocery store, library and breakfast yesterday.  It’s just been a busy weekend!

Of course, it’s not all roses, either.  I have teenage people living here.  One who’s almost 17 and has recently returned to the mentality of a TWO year old, telling me “NO” and actually trying to stand on that.  Then there’s the 15-year-old who seems to have forgotten how to speak English, but is fluent in WHINE-ESE.  I bought a box of Cream of Wheat for the first time in about 12 or 13 years and she’s dying to try it.  But, instead of reading the box’s directions or waiting for help, she starts making it like instant oats.  She came in with the dessert bowl full of dry mix asking, “Is this how you do it?”  NO, it’s not how you do it… that’s enough to make a pot of the stuff!  *heavy and frustrated sigh* So she stormed off to her room, demanding I let her know when I’ve finished cooking her breakfast.  Grrr…..

Teenagers… dontcha just wanna BITCH SLAP them sometimes?

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Here’s a cool thing I wanted to pass along:

Introducting the International Book Blogger Mentor Program 2010

Lenore at Presenting Lenore is starting an International Book Blogger Mentor Program to help those who live outside the US and Canada be able to read and review the newer books that they’d otherwise not be able to receive as most publishers and blogging contests aren’t open to them.

Any book blogger who blogs in English about books and lives outside the US and Canada can apply. Each month I will pick one blogger to send 2-3 of my most recent review copies to.

I myself have always held my contests open to anyone, anywhere, so long as they have an address to send to, because I know it’s gotta suck to see a book you’d love to have, only to find out you’re geographically ineligible.  So Lenore’s idea is pretty cool :-)

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Random rant….  Why is it that SPAMMERS suddenly think I’m a randy, philandering, inadequately equipped middle-aged man?  Judging by my INBOX… the one’s that my spam filter thinks I WANT to read, I’m in the market for Extenze… GAWD, I HATE those commercials! I want to rip that chick’s face off and monkey-stomp her… grrr……… AND that I’m in need of Viagra or the cheaper substitute.  The latest additions to my inbox are:

I missed you at the bar” – really?  That’s probably because I wasn’t there.

Why Wait have an affair with a cheating wife today” -  K, erm… I like to eat fish at the dinner table, cooked and with tartar sauce, NOT in the bedroom… or any other room they might want to hang it.  And eww… JUST… EWwwwWWWwwww… Not that there’s anything wrong with that, right Jerry?

Engagement Ring. Make your proposal memorable.”  Apparently, not only am I a randy cheater with a tiny willy, but I’m lookin’ to get hitched, too!

I’ve been deleting all these messages, then emptying the trash, but maybe I should keep ‘em for a while, then share them all in a blog post.  WordPress’ Akismet filter seems to work better than Yahoo’s, maybe they should work together and then I won’t get such craptastic emails.  But, then again, what would I have to laugh at?

Listening to Bodies by Drowning Pool

Bloggiesta Progress Update #4

started at 7pm today

Pedro

Well, it’s been a busy day away from Bloggiesta today.  Mags and I went to eat at her favorite restaurant, The White House.  We read a bit of Fruits Basket volume 5, then went to the library for their showing of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.  It was a cute enough movie, but I wanted to leave more than once.  It’s just… IDK… childish? annoying?  I did, however, love the monkey, Steve, as well as the police officer who I think was voiced by Mr. T.  I had to laugh when I said, “Hey, that’s Mr. T!” and Maggie said, “Who?”  I remember a time when the answer would have been to either do my best “I pity da foo’”, or say “B.A. Baracus”, however today my answer was, “You know, the Night Elf Mohawk.”  Ooh, yeah… lol.  I picked up some books for The Welsh Reading Challenge, too, and then we were off to the grocery store for the ingredients for Taco Casserole, which I ended up NOT making because I was too dang tired.  We stopped at Hardee’s for an industrial sized cup of coffee for me and a hot chocolate for Mags.  We sat there and finished Fruits Basket, for which I’ll write a review and schedule it for later.

I’m hoping to manage to get at least 3 more mini-challenges done tonight before going to bed, and then hopefully finish them all tomorrow. 

AND I just realized the mini-challenges I did yesterday were from last Bloggiesta, but it’s all good.  I needed to do them, anyway.  I still want to get through them, too, but that doubles the amount of challenges… not sure I’ll get them all done in that case :-)

So first challenge tonight at Emily’s Reading Room.  It’s about setting up Google Alerts to keep track of trends in searching for topics to do with your blog.  Personally, I wasn’t exactly sure what to do for me, so I set up a couple with “The Kool-Aid Mom, thekoolaidmom, In the Shadow of Mt. TBR, Mt. TBR, and Welsh Reading Challenge”.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens.  According to @pussreboots and @bookladysblog, it also lets you know when the phrases you put in the alert are mentioned on the web, whether they link to you or not.

Next, I went to Books, movies, and Chinese Food‘s mini-challenge to create an elevator pitch for my blog.  Here’s what I came up with: 

In the Shadow of Mt. TBR is a fun and informative blog where The Kool-Aid Mom reviews books, posts humorous memes, occasionally rants, and has fits of ADD randomness.  Come on over and sit a spell in the shade, have a good laugh and contiue on your Web-browsing journey feeling refreshed!

Was kinda tough to write, but I’ll be surprised if I ever remember it when someone asks about my blog… lol.

For my third challenge this evening, I went to The Book Lady’s Blog Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Set Goals for 2010.  Rebecca has sooo many great ideas there, and my main goals that I’ve set for myself this year are:

  • Get back to posting daily, whether a review, meme, or random post.  I had gotten distracted by playing the computer games, and got out of the habit.
  • I plan to make a monthly reading plan and sticking to it.  I made one for January, but I’m already starting to whine and want to cheat… there’s just SoOoOOoo many good books out there!  But I really WANT to make the ARC-alanche pile disappear, so I’m staying with it.

Okay, so now I’m onto my fourth mini-challenge and that’s with Bookalicio.us’s Bloggiesta Mini Challenge:  Footers.  I caught some chatter about this one on Twitter last night and wanted to make sure I got it done.  To be honest, I’ve never done anything copyright related, so this is a completely new thing for me.

*tick-tock… time passes… spring, summer, fall, winter…I now have a headache…*  I don’t know how to do this stuff.  It looks like I have to pay for the copyright thing, and I can’t figure out how to do a footer.  I’ve looked all up and down the control panel in my dashboard, and I can’t find a thing to do a footer.  I can’t figure out how or where the plug-ing for it is, and even if I could, I think I tried to do some WP plug-in once before and found out I had to upgrade my account to use them.

I give up… I think I’ll go lie down and watched Stargate for a while.

***edit*** I added a Copyright widget, so I got it worked out.  I’m gonna do the feedburner, too.

Bloggiesta progress update #3

Pedro

So, after taking a four hour break to eat and relax a little… very little as it turned out, as the kids screamed and fought and fussed until I sent them to bed, which they fought and fussed about with me (When a 17-year-old tells you “No”, it’s a delicate situation.  Diffusing nuclear BOMBS are less dangerous).  But it’s quasi-quiet, and after trying to read, only to fall asleep, give up and decide to sleep, only to have screaming and yelling and fighting start just after I slip into unconsciousness… Well, I’m wide awake now.  So, back to the Bloggiesta fiesta :-)

I decided to go ahead and make a separate blog for The Welsh Reading Challenge, but it’s still some work before linking it up here.  It’s coming along nicely, though :-)  I figure with a devoted blog, I can make all the lists and links that the challenge deserves without turning Mt. TBR into a chaotic mess.  Thanks BethFishReads and Rhinoa’s Ramblings for sharing their wisdom from their first year of hosting challenges :-)

So now I’m doing a few mini-challenges…

First up, cleaning out the reader. The Book Lady’s Blog is hosting a mini-challenge to clean up your blog reader.  I use Google Reader, and currently have 64 subscriptions.  She puts it like this:

If you’re like me, you subscribe to more blogs than you can keep straight. You love some of them, you skim some others, and you might even mark some as “read” without even glancing. This mini-challenge is all about organizing your feedreader to make it work for you.

yeah… sadly, that’s true for me with a couple blogs.  Why I put them in my reader, I don’t even remember anymore.  Maybe they had a funny Friday Fill-In, so I thought I’d love their whole blog, but it always seems to be about rock collections or dogs in tutus… IDK… lol.  Actually, I’d probably read the dogs in tutus *glances over and Missy, looks to her left and sees the camera… wonders where the tutu and princess cone hat went*  Hehehehe.

So I’m cleaning out the reader and I’ve found one blog that’s moved several months ago, as well as a few dormant blogs and a couple whose content I never read.  As I’m going through the blogs that haven’t had a new post in more than three months, the thought hits me:  What if what happened to Katie in Undiscovered Gyrl happened to them?  What if they’re missing or dead, and I’m just callously ticking off their blog to unsub because they don’t post from the Great Beyond? 

So now I’m down to 51.  There is the possibility of 10 dead and missing bloggers somewhere out there and 2 blogs whose content I groan after skimming.  What’s next?  Categories and folders.  Good idea… if I’d have thought of that before unsubbing, I could’ve just made an “MIA” folder incase they’re found before the guy hacks them to bits and they return to blogging to tell their story.  BUT… I think I’m following them on twitter, so it’s all good.  Okay, so now I have a Welsh Challenge folder and a Meme folder, then the rest are regular bloggers that I read in general.

After that, all I need is to catch up on the reading, which I got caught up on a couple weeks ago, and have stayed caught up :-)

Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Clean Up Your Feedreader! DONE :-)

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Next up is BethFishRead’s Mini-Challenge to write up a rainy day post.  Either one of an opinion or a list.  I’ve actually got a half-done post that I started about a year ago… lol.  It’s a Fantasy Island list thing, so I think I’ll go ahead and finish it up for this. 

…… On second thought, after looking at what I thought was a half-finished post that turned out to be two lines of what I thought would be a fun post but I no longer know what I was talking about, I’ll write a new one. LOL.  But what to write… hmmmm…  I pretty much exhausted my opinions with the Festivus posts.  Okay, so it’ll be a list then.  BUT, you know me… it won’t be a dry, sensible list… oh, no… it’s going to be goofy and random.

*Tick-tock… minutes have passed*  Okay, got it done.  I set out to make a list, but it ended up more of a humorous rant, so I guess that’s an opinion… lol.

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And for my last mini-challenge before calling it a night, I’m going to Go forth and comment as commanded by Soft Drink at Fizzy Thoughts.

So for this mini-challenge, I (actually, it’s Natasha’s idea, I’m just channeling her for the moment) challenge you to seek out 10 (yes, ten!) new blogs (from the list of bloggers who signed up for the Bloggiesta) and leave a thoughtful comment on their blog. Saying “Just popping in to say hey ‘cause Softdrink told me to” ain’t gonna cut it for this challenge. Find a book review that intrigues you and tell them why. Look for something you have in common and chat about it. Ask them a question about their blog design. You get the idea, right? Be original…be engaging…be yourself!

Okies… so here’s the blogs I visited and left comments:

  1. Reading With Tequila’s review of Mockingbird by Charles J. Shields lol, ended up ordering the book from PBS.
  2. English Major’s Junk Food review of Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen I’m safe from a new book addition, at least :-)
  3. Books of Mee’s review of The Sandman Volume 1:  Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman Again, another safe, non-book-getter one ;-)
  4. Notes from the North’s The Sunday Salon:  Terry Pratchett OooOOoo… now I’m whining because I want to join the Terry Pratchett reading challenge.
  5. ReadingAdventures Terry Pratchett 2010 Challenge lol, wouldn’t you know it… she’d be a Bloggiesta participant.  Must be fate!  I joined the challenge for the 1-3 book range: Cashier at Ankh-Morpork Mint.  I can add ONE more book to my list this year, right?  lol
  6. Graasland’s The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (The Sunday Salon of December 27th, 2009) safe from another book or challenge :-)  Except… that I want to re-read it and I mooched my copy away… crap.
  7.  Coffeespoon’s review of Slumdog Millionaire (or Q&A) by Vikras Swarup Already have it on Mt. TBR somewhere, and I’ve seen the movie… safe. :-)
  8. Michelle’s Masterful Musings’ review of Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris It’s already on my reading list for this month… or next.
  9. The Zen Leaf’s review of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards Already read it, and found it okay, but the movie version killed it for me.
  10. Bibliofreak’s review of All the King’s Men:  the movie I’ve seen the movie and liked it, but she says the book is even better… and I have the book, Yay!

Wow, 10 was kind of hard.  I got to about 7 and wanted to poop out.  Of course, it IS 3:30 am… and I have put in about 11 and a half hours on Bloggiesta… so I have a good excuse for being tire.

All in all, I think I really got a LOT done today.  While doing the commenting mini-challenge, I came across a few blogs that I always loved reading, but somehow never managed to get in my Google Reader, so my GR sub list is longer now, too :-)

Kk.. I’m knocking off for the night.  The library is having a family movie event tomorrow, so I’ll probably start back on more mini-challenges sometime in the afternoon.

11:10 am – 7:25 pm… took a break… 11:20 pm – 3:45 am… going to bed.

Bloggiesta progress update #2

Pedro

I’m still trying to figure out how to use the Google Reader sharing thinger, and if I make comments there, do they show up on the original post?  IDK… I’m trying to find a more effective way to use the blogroll without it taking up 29 inches long of blogspace.  Meghan at Medieval Bookworm has a nice little widget, why can’t I get one for mine?  *whine whine whine*

Other things I’ve done:

I updated all the links on my I Want More Kool-Aid! page.  Apparently, the BookMooch link there took you to a member’s only page, and was therefore sorta broke.  I also added my Goodreads profile, so if you want to add me on goodreads, now ya can ;-)  And my facebook link is on there, too.

I removed the Giveaways page.  I’ve really been bad about keeping up with that thing anyway.  There was only ONE giveaway listed, and it was for my giveaway of Something Beyond Greatness, which was HOW LONG AGO?

***** ADD break – Since the kids came home and noticed RIGHT AWAY that I was busy and took IMMEDIATELY to fighting like cats and dogs, I put on my MP3 player and cranked it up…. Currently playing:  Mere Saath Chalte Chalte (from the Humko Deewana Kar Gaye soundtrack)

 

 The girls in this video are all so beautiful, and I just love this movie!  AND… It’s hard to listen to Hindi music without dancing!  Okay, back to work :-) ******

Okay, I cut the ARC-alanche list and pasted it over the Mt. TBR Inventory, deleting all the previous mess.  Then I added the link to my LT catalogue, and renamed the new page It’s an ARC-alanche!!  I had went through and updated the list in anticipation of focusing entirely on these books this year, and STILL I had a book that had escaped the pile… lol.  I think it’s complete now.  As I review books, I’ll add the links and strike off the completed titles.  1 down, 66 to go :-/

And now I’ve got my challenge page updated, including the books I plan to read for each challenge so I can strike them out and link the reviews as I finish them.  I’ve retitled the page Reading is Challenging!

Yay!!  Getting soooo much done!

Okay, so one thing I need to do is to go through and check all my images to make sure they have alt titles, as MawBooks pointed out that the ALT title helps the search engines find the images, and by that, my blog :-)

Then I’m good to go on checking out the mini-challenges, I think :-D

Bloggiesta progress update #1

Pedro

So, I’ve spent about the last 5 hours going through my widgets and sidebar contents and arrangements, as well as Tweet about #Bloggiesta and do a few other improvements.  Here’s what I got done:

  • I took all the 2009 and older blogging awards I’d received and made a page for them here:  Past Awards  That way, I didn’t just abandoned them, and now the blog downloads faster.
  • I tried to organize the sidebars so that like information is together.  My contact info, blog button and twitter thing together in the upper corner; blog posts, comments, pages, etc is together. 
  • I’ve also updated the “Currently reading” widget to reflect what I’m reading and for which challenges, which will hopefully help keep me on track.
  • And, of course, the biggest part of my task was going through my blogroll, making sure the links work and they lead to blogs that are currently active.  If it was still a good link, but the blogger hadn’t posted in over a month, I made sure they were in my reader, but removed them from the roll.  If they become active again, I can add them back :-)
  • Also, with the help of @TequilaReader, @neshelf, @jennsbookshelf, and @tanabata2000 on Twitter, I’ve finally got the Mt. TBR set up to tweet updates through Twitterfeed.  I have the RSS feedburner, too, but I’m not up on how to use it.  I think I added that during the last Bloggiesta, and there it’s sat since.

After getting all that done, I ran it through the Website Grader and had improved to 95.2% now.  I’ve got some broken links to address, but it continues to balk over all the images that are on my blog, over 60, with 23 not having ALT text? whatever that is.  IDK, I like images, so that may just be a part that we’ll agree to disagree on.  It’s also squealing about the Metatags as stuff, and I have NO CLUE how to fix them.

I need to go through now and update my Challenges page, as well as Mt. TBR’s inventory page, which I’m thinking about just putting a link to my LT library, as that’s my most accurate list.  I don’t want to delete the page, as people have left comments on it, so taking all those book links out may improve the site, as well.

I also want to visit the mini-challenges when I get everything caught up.

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