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Open Book Blog Hop: How and Why I Started Blogging

This post is in response to the prompt provided by the Open Book Blog Hop. Today’s topic is: How’d You Start Your Business, Blog, Or Freelance Career?

blog

How’d I start my blog?

With fear and trembling. Seriously, it was a challenge to get started but super rewarding once I did. But, in case you want details, I invite you to read on. Then, please me leave a message with your thoughts, or about your own blogging experience.

The Beginning:

I’ve been blogging for a few years, I’d say roughly four, not including last year’s sabbatical. The journey began back when I decided to get serious about writing. I wanted to share my stories with people but didn’t have the means to do it. A blog seemed like a good idea but I was just starting out. I had no major contacts, no experience, had never managed anything like a blog before. And, who cared enough about me and my writing to read my posts, anyway? The whole thing seemed scary and unattainable. That said, the need to try, as well as to take charge of the problem, won out.

So, I had my mission. But how and where to begin?

At the time, I was active on Google+ where I had met many supportive people at various stages in their own writing pursuits. One thing I noticed about most of the successful ones was that they had writing blogs. This made sense, since the marketing wisdom at the time urged writers to develop strong writing platforms. This usually included an active blog. As for me, I was writing stories at an incredible pace, and had become a moderator of two writing communities. Also, I had published my first book, The Purple Morrow. After about a year, I finally felt I had enough experience to take the plunge.

Still, the idea scared me. I mean, nothing is worse than being excited about a piece when no one else is. Worse, what if no one notices my articles or comments on them? In the end, though, I put all that negative thinking aside and got to work.

The first attempt was on Blogspot. The benefit was that it was connected to G+ so, right away, it gained attention and feedback. I named it Purple Pebbles…not sure why anymore, except that purple is my favorite color. I posted stories, poems, and short essays about my writing experience, and was genuinely surprised at the positive response. The blog enabled me to meet and engage many new G+ people, and easily follow and interact with current contacts. Lastly, it boosted my confidence.

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The Middle:

Then came the move to WordPress. People had told me that WordPress was the way to go if I wanted to reach even more people. They also argued that the platform itself was better. So, after worrying about using a new tool and whether or not people would follow me, I made the switch. I named it Dropped Pebbles in reference to the idea that every author has a unique voice, and our words resonate beyond the written page. Then things really took off. Being able to share posts via multiple social media platforms at once, including the vast WordPress community, opened new doors. Then followed blogging awards, requests to guest blog or to contribute to e-magazines, blogging about my writing ups and downs, book reviews, and invited guests. I particularly enjoyed hosting author features and author interviews. I knew how hard it was to get books in front of potential readers, so it was important to me to help in any way I could.

whirlwind

Looking back, the whole thing feels like a blur. After being away for over a year, I am still surprised at the whole experience. Surprised and grateful. People are busier these days more than ever, so the fact that they took time to read, comment on, and share my blog still means a lot.

Not Quite the End:

Dropped Pebbles was closed for a while, but I decided to test the waters again. When I started blogging, my original goal was to establish myself as a serious writer, as well as to use my experiences to help other hopefuls navigate the pitfalls that plague our Great Writing Adventure. This time around, my goals are a little more humble. I’m coming back to the game somewhat out of practice but with more realistic expectations about said adventure.

Still, I’m here now, seeing things with fresh eyes and a different point of view.

*grins* But more on that another time.



Book Review: Glenn Hates Books Vol. 1: Brutally Honest Book Reviews

Glenn Hates Books Vol. 1: Brutally Honest Book ReviewsGlenn Hates Books Vol. 1: Brutally Honest Book Reviews by Glenn Conley

Blurb: 

WARNING: There’s a lot of unnecessary profanity in this book.
Why? Because… Because REASONS!

This book contains over 100 brutally honest book reviews. These laugh-out-loud reviews are offensive in every way possible. There’s so much unnecessary profanity, it’s crazy. But it’s not the profanity or offensiveness that makes this book worth reading. It’s the honesty.

You will find 1 star reviews in this book, that absolutely tear the book to shreds, because the book was really that bad. But you will also find 5 star reviews in this book, because the book was actually that good.

It contains reviews of popular books such as Gone Girl, The Giver, The Maze Runner, and many other popular books. Of course, it also includes plenty of books you’ve probably never heard of.

There’s reviews that urge you to read a book, because it’s so good. And also, reviews that warn you to stay the hell away from certain books, because they’re bad. So bad.

In the end, you’ll laugh while reading this book. And cry. And possibly vomit. You’ve been warned.

The Review:

“Here is my book: Glenn Hates Books Vol. 1. It’s a collection of hilarious book reviews that are sure to amuse you. That is, if you have a sick sense of humor, as I do.”

Well, Mr. Conley warned me. His reviews are definitely not for the faint of heart.
I’ll begin by saying that I found this a hard book to review. How do you review a book containing the author’s feelings and opinions about what he’s read? And, if he chose to express those opinions in the most prickly and colorful way possible, to the point I sometimes feared my reader would spontaneously combust, what of it? People can write what they want, right?

Conley reviews books of all types and genres, from literary fiction to Young Adult, science fiction and some fantasy. There are also a few books included that I wish I hadn’t learned about—there really are some sick puppies out there writing about some sick stuff. There were times when, after closing my reader for the day, I actually felt nauseous. That said, there were a few novels that piqued my interest and, if I run across them while browsing, I just might pick them up.

So, the first half or so of the book was dedicated to the 1-3 star rated novels. These sections were the most difficult to read because of the profanity. Until I read this book, I had no idea there were so many colorful ways to use the F-word–as both an insult and a verb–to express how terrible something was. However, underneath all that I noted that Conley had some valid points: Why would anyone enjoy a novel with no story, or tension or conflict? Wouldn’t I be annoyed if something billed as a novel was in fact only a novelette? Or what about novels filled with characters no one cares about? Or the prequels or sequels that inexplicably have no connection to the original novel—the one I liked so much I decided to spend money on said prequel or sequel? These were all important issues that can make–or break–a book.

Books Conley did like were written up with thoughtful commentary, including why he thought the book was successful. Thankfully, these reviews were presented with less profanity and—this made me laugh–even grudging admiration.

Curious? I’d suggest first checking out the rating system to get a taste of what you’re in for. I read it to my sister and she laughed, saying she would read the book just because of it.

I would recommend this book to someone who is not easily offended and who can appreciate the book for what it is: one man’s very honest opinion about books. I found the last section, where he shares about his background and relationship with books, to be equally interesting. It helps explain the book’s context, which suggests the spirit in which it should be received.

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(image from http://www.prmlibrary.ab.ca)