Turning the Page: An Update

turningthepageAn Update

I owe you all a little bit of an update. In August, I took a bit of an unannounced break from blogging. I felt like I was spending more time concerned with the blogging part and less with the part that is central to this blog: books and reading. I wanted to spend the time I was spending on writing posts and commenting on getting through the books I had planned for August. I think overall I’ve been successful. I feel a little bit better about my progress through my ridiculously long reading list.

Somehow, this summer is basically already gone. My calendar is getting quite packed. There are some weekends coming up where I have something going on everyday if not multiple things each day.

I say all this because while I know I don’t necessarily owe anyone an explanation or an excuse, I feel like it’s good to share. I’m back, and I am super excited to start making some big changes to the blog. So be on the lookout for those announcements as they come!

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Sunday’s Scribble: A Long Sentence

note“Sunday’s Scribble” is a feature here at Playing Jokers where Michelle tries to motivate herself to not just read, but to write creatively. If you are interested in playing along, please contact Michelle! ”Sunday’s Scribble” in its infancy and open to feedback to help evolve it.

Prompt: A Long Sentence

Prompt:
Someone was just released from prison after having served 1,000 years behind bars. At the time of the sentencing, people weren’t actually expected to survive that long. But due to a new development, they survived and are now out in the world.

My scribble:
The first thing I did was search for a cheeseburger. One with the cheese melted to the wrapper that I could take my finger and peel off. I took that first step and didn’t care that there was no one to pick me up. I was going to find that cheeseburger. It didn’t matter to me what I did next; the future wasn’t something I had been able to plan for a very long time. There was at least one predominant obstacle to that and my new freedom was entirely too new and foreign for me to adapt just yet.

It was on about the fifth step that I realized that my freedom wasn’t going to be the only thing foreign to me. Where the walkway had once led to the doorway, with its mended cracked cement, was now almost a kind of carpet, green and soft. It wasn’t grass, but perhaps more like a sturdier moss. I had heard the others talk about the Bio-Preserve movement and the prevalence of more Earth-friendly sidewalks.

About:
There’s a little scribble. Yes, this prompt idea was inspired by the sentence given to Ariel Castro, the man guilty of holding three women captive and torturing them for over a decade. He was given a very large number of years to serve in prison, making me wonder what would happen if someone actually lived that long? How would the world be different to them once they were released? I’m still curious by this idea, and I might explore it more.

Share!
Comment with a link to your scribble! What prompt should I attempt next?

Turning the Page: Lovin’ Bloglovin’

turningthepageLovin’ Bloglovin’

So with the planning influence of my magical agenda, I have managed to (on occasion) be ahead of posts. Which is awesome. (In fact, I’m going to brag a little here: so far for July, I’ve basically posted everyday, almost all original content!) This ‘extra’ time has allowed me to then connect with bloggers more easily than before. Typically, if I have two hours to spend on the computer and I have blog posts to write and I know I need to visit other blogs and comment, the writing for my own blog will win out. But by planning better, I can now spend some time on other things, which involves more actively following blogs.

When I first started delving into the deep, deep world of book blogging, I tried Networked Blogs. It worked fine but I didn’t like that when I commented on posts there, it didn’t actually link to the post. Additionally, I like looking at people’s layouts and Networked Blogs didn’t allow that very easily.

With the demise of some Google products, bloggers have begun to push BlogLovin’. I claimed my blog on there and created an account, but had generally not even used it until this month. And boy…what a difference!

I really enjoy the ability to click the next button, to view a myriad of blogs with ease and keep track of what I’ve seen and haven’t seen. I like being able to mark an entire blog as read, and easily sort through what is definitely a growing number of blogs.

My only complaint is that sometimes when commenting on Blogger blogs, it throws you out of the Bloglovin’ frame. It’s easy enough to go back to BlogLovin’ refresh, and pull up the next unread post to continue moving through all the posts, but it can get a little annoying if you’re doing a lot of commenting. Also, sometimes it’s a little overwhelming if you haven’t logged in for a while to see hundreds of unread posts, but that’s on me and not on the service.

I would definitely recommend people try out BlogLovin’. And remember to follow Playing Jokers on there! The button to follow is in the side frame. 🙂

Sunday’s Scribble: YouTube Inspiration

note“Sunday’s Scribble” is a feature here at Playing Jokers where Michelle tries to motivate herself to not just read, but to write creatively. If you are interested in playing along, please contact Michelle! ”Sunday’s Scribble” in its infancy and open to feedback to help evolve it.

So I still fail at actually writing anything. I’m beginning to wonder if I should refocus and re-evaluate what my desires are for all my hobbies. Since following the local yarn shop on Facebook, I’ve been struck by the strong desire to knit, crochet and cross-stitch pretty things. It really didn’t help when they started posting cool Harry Potter themed patterns…

But one thing that I follow that definitely steers me more in the writing direction is a new vlog on the Geek and Sundry Vlogs channel on YouTube. I don’t think I’ve yet raved about Geek and Sundry on this blog, but I generally rave about it whenever I can. This summer, they launched a Vlogs channel, where a myriad of geeks vlog about their passions. One of the original vloggers is Nika Harper, a young woman who works in the video game industry, and vlogs about creative writing. Each week, she tackles a new genre or form with the input of viewers. People are encouraged to share their writing in the Geek and Sundry forums. I haven’t yet really participated, but I do enjoy watching the vlogs and they make me feel a little bit more motivated to write (at least until the next influence strikes).

Turning the Page: My Magical Agenda

turningthepageMy Magical Agenda

When I first started the blog, I was doing a lot more blog tour posts (have you noticed that I haven’t done any in a long time?!). Those require remembering when your date for a certain post is due. I would schedule placeholder posts to act as a calender for me. I would see when the date of a certain post was approaching. Then at one point, I felt like I was drowning underneath all those dates so I began using my physical calender at work for a reminder. I would write the name of the book that I was supposed to be promoting or have a review up for on the assigned day. But that was only helpful if I was going into the office regularly.

So in May I bought an agenda from Staples. Of course, the agenda didn’t begin until July, but I was prepared.

And now I am prepared.

The agenda, I have found, has magical properties. It helps me spend at least a little less time in front of the computer writing posts each day. Now I can knock out several days worth of original posts in one sitting because I’ve already thought about what each post needs to be about and when it needs to be scheduled for. So as ideas come to me, I open the agenda and write the idea down on an open day. Before I realize it, I have 2 weeks worth of original posts planned.

It also prevents me from sitting in front of the computer and humming and hawing about what to write. I sit down knowing exactly what I need to be writing about. Of course, sometimes YouTube and food distract me, but that’s okay. I’m working on that.

My plan is to keep using this agenda to help organize my blog life to free up more real life time. It works only when I can knock out multiple posts at a time, but I’m sure I’ll get there eventually. I would highly recommend the use of an agenda for any blogger. It’s quite liberating! (and magical.)

Sunday’s Scribble: Author Panel Motivation

note“Sunday’s Scribble” is a feature here at Playing Jokers where Michelle tries to motivate herself to not just read, but to write creatively. If you are interested in playing along, please contact Michelle! ”Sunday’s Scribble” in its infancy and open to feedback to help evolve it.

Author Panel Motivation

As I alluded to on Friday, I attended a Young Adult Author Panel at Hooray for Books last Saturday. It was the first author panel I’ve gone to in a long time and I am super happy that I made it. Of course, I very nearly missed it because I was sick and was taking a nap to wake up with 20  minutes to get there, but it ended up okay. 🙂

I found out about the author panel through an awesome Facebook group I belong to. One of the authors created an event and I’m just lame enough to not have had anything else going on (just kidding! I am glad I made it.)

The panel was titled, “Love and Legend” and featured the following awesome authors:

Diana PeterfreundFor Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #1)

Diana Peterfreund, author of For Darkness Shows the Stars, a  novel about two people living in a post-apocalyptic society based on Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

April LindnerJane

April Lindner, author of Jane, a  novel based on Jane Eyre with a rock and roll twist.

P.J. HooverSolstice

P.J. Hoover, author of Solstice, an adventure in a global warmed world (certainly feeling like we’re already there this week!) with mythological happenings.

Bennett MadisonSeptember Girls

Bennett Madison, author of September Girls, a novel–as he described it–that is a kind of retelling of the Little Mermaid.

They each talked about the premise of their books, they read excerpts and answered questions. Of course I bought all four and had them signed. (Because of course, I needed more books…right?)

So the reason why I’m putting this as one of my Sunday Scribbles posts is because there is something about being among writers, seeing them proud of their sweat and tears (and perhaps blood, though hopefully not) that is somewhat motivating. I am like that little kid who watches a movie and then decides she wants to be a movie star. I sit in an author panel and think, ‘Wouldn’t it be fantastic to experience the other side of this?’

So I am definitely perhaps a modicum more motivated to write creative than I might have been otherwise. And at the very least, I have 4 new books added to my ever expanding reading queue.

Turning the Page: Balance and Flexibility

turningthepageBalance and Flexibility

Growing up, I used to spend an amazing amount of time on the computer. I would spend hours and hours playing games, chatting, and surfing the web. I even did a lot of that in college.

And then I joined the adult world, where sitting in front of a computer is basically my job description.

Slowly, the idea of sitting on a computer to do anything outside of work seemed completely unacceptable. I know this sounds strange coming from someone is a blogger, but it’s a struggle for me. I really enjoy the rewards of blogging: connecting with people, the sense of accomplishment, and the hobby in general. But what I don’t like is feeling upset that I don’t have a post for every day, that feeling of procrastination when I should be doing something.

It’s that should that I’m trying to shake off. Yes, there’s nothing wrong with goals, but I don’t want to pretend that this is my part time job. It’s something fun and it’s something I do in my spare time. Yes, spare time.

I’ve done well the past week with getting my posts up, but I know that it’s not guaranteed that I will keep up with a post a day. And while I came up with a handy dandy scheduling guide, I know that I need to remain flexible. Things happen: my motivation wanes, I get sick (like for the past week I’ve been decidedly gross), or I get a social life. So while I have my schedule guide, things might not always follow it to a ‘t’.

And you know what? That’s fine by me. I’m happy with where Playing Jokers is going. And while I am always thinking of different things I would like, I know that things take time and evolution happens over time. In short, this is my way of sparing you the excuses of June’s inactivity by explaining to myself that there is nothing to apologize for.

And thanks for your continued support! I really appreciate it.

Did you miss anything this week?

Giveaway: Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop (US/INTL)ending tomorrow!
Top Five Most Intimidating BooksWaiting on Wednesday (4): The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian
Happy Independence Day!
Review: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
Friday 56 (3): The Elite by Kiera Cass
Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass
Sunday’s Scribble: Creation of an Inspiration Journal

Sunday’s Scribble: Creation of an Inspiration Journal

note

“Sunday’s Scribble” is a feature here at Playing Jokers where Michelle tries to motivate herself to not just read, but to write creatively. If you are interested in playing along, please contact Michelle! “Sunday’s Scribble” in its infancy and open to feedback to help evolve it.

Creation of an Inspiration Journal

My new notebook

My new notebook

So last Scribble, I gave myself some homework. I wanted to create a journal with magazine cut-outs to help inspire me. So here’s what I did!

My new notebook is spiral bound and has a cool cover. With random words and a design of a key I figured aesthetically it will motivate me to want to write in it. I got it from Home Goods for pretty cheap so I’m pretty pleased with it.

I took out the oldest issues of Newsweek magazines that I have and started cutting out cool looking pictures, words, and phrases. I used to this to decorate the fronts of my notebooks in high school. I have to admit, there’s something relaxing about doing it. So I created quite a few pages of scrapbook sort of collage.

Prompt collages

Prompt collages

They aren’t anything too spectacular. And I’m sad to report that I haven’t actually written anything yet. Life has a way of getting away from you…

I won’t give myself a homework assignment this time around, instead I’ll just say that I hope to continue to uncover ways to motivate myself to actually pick up a pen and begin to write something creative.

Do you prefer to write in a notebook or on the computer? How do you inspire yourself? Motivate yourself?