The Bookshelf Corner

A creative space for all things books and writing….


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Quote of the Day: Supporting Writers

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What I’ve Learned About Blogging

I’ve been blogging on The Bookshelf Corner for more than a year and a half now, but I’ve been learning about blogging and how to blog for the past few years. Today I thought I’d share what I’ve learned about blogging so far.


Royalty Free Image from pixabay.com

*the first two are reposted advice I gave for a previous award

1.Don’t feel obligated to post every day. Post as little or as often as you’re able to and not because you feel you have to. This is something that can make blogging feel stressful and not as fun as it can be. We all have other obligations that will take precedence over blogging, such as work or school. Sometimes life happens – you’re sick, on vacation, have a family emergency, or had a bad day – and you just don’t feel like posting. And that’s okay! People will understand. We’ve all been there. Set a posting schedule that works best for your situation.

2.Find your blog’s niche. It can be one specific thing or multiple things. My passions are books and writing, so my blog’s niche centers around things related to those areas. A blog that has a focus – a niche – is easier to understand than one that’s all over the place.

3.Posts can be any length. Write as little or as much as you want/need for each post.

4.It’s helpful to break up long posts/paragraphs with a graphic/media. This is a visual thing. Too much text can look clunky or get too long-winded (so to speak) to keep the reader’s attention – whether the reader is interested in what you’re writing or not. Sometimes a long paragraph is necessary to fully get your point across and that’s okay. Sometimes you’ll have a long post because there’s so much to talk about and that’s okay too. You don’t always need a graphic or media in a post.

5.Tags and Categories are always helpful for you and the reader.

6.(On WordPress) Remove the Meta from your blog. Honestly, don’t know what it’s for and it doesn’t seem to be useful. Also, I was once told to get rid of it so no one could log into my blog (you never know).

7.Titles should pique the reader’s interest and indicate what to expect.

Royalty Free Image from pixabay.com

8.Using a calendar (of any kind) is a great way to keep track of posts and when you plan to post. I am someone who needs a calendar, planner, sticky notes whatever to function and be organized. It’s good to see what you visually have planned.

9.Use your own words. Cite appropriately (if applicable). Your post. Your words. Your voice.

10.Use royalty free images and/or link back to the original source.

11. Learn basic HTML code. This is useful information for any blogger to know because every blogging site has plans that offer different levels of coding you can do.

12.Interact with others by Following/Commenting on other’s blogs and posts. Blogging offers access to a wonderful community of those who share the same passions as you.

13.Link to other social media sites you’re active on.

14.Links should open to a new tab so that readers can easily get back to your blog.

15. Menu/Sidebars are key to a user friendly interface. Help your reader out by making sure they can easily navigate throughout your blog.

16.Be you. Have fun with it.


I hope you enjoyed today’s post! Again, this is just what I’ve learned during my blogging experience, which doesn’t mean you can’t do what works best for you.

What have you learned from blogging so far? What blogging tips would you add to this list? Let me know in the comment section below.

As always, happy reading and happy writing!


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Additional Skills for Writers

As a writer we need to know how to write professionally, creatively, analytically, and persuasively. We likely seek to earn degrees in English, Creative Writing, Journalism, or any other related fields. But I feel there are additional areas of study that can provide additional beneficial skills to writers of all levels. Of course, you don’t have be an expert in these areas to be a successful writer, nor do you have to learn them. But it never hurts to acquire new skills.

 

MARKETING
Knowing and understanding marketing techniques is key to building a brand, gaining readership, and putting your writing out there. You’ll want to stay up to date on current trends and be actively present on social media to effectively engage/network with others and promote yourself.

WEB DESIGN
Having a website where people can learn about you, your writing, and upcoming works is a good things to have. You don’t need to be a pro to create the perfect website. And knowing the basics of HTML and CSS is good for sprucing up your website and posts. There are plenty of websites – WordPress, Blogger, Weebly, Squarespace, for example – that have great user interfaces and options to building the perfect website/blog for your needs. Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, you can create a website from scratch.

GRAPHIC DESIGN
Making your own graphics can be fun (as long as what you create is of your own creation and doesn’t violate copyright laws). Creating promotional materials/graphics can help “sell” your work. You can create more engaging graphics for social media or your website. You can look up examples of graphic design in use online or search through your local library or bookstore. You can also try sites/programs like Canva, Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign, or Microsoft Publisher.

PHOTOGRAPHY/PHOTO EDITING
Whether for bookstagram or your website or for an article, learning the basics of photography and photo editing can come in handy. To edit photos or graphics you’ve made, you can use software like Autodesk Pixlr Editor (a web application) or Adobe Photoshop.

LAW
Not a skill but something to know and understand: copyright laws (a must), the language of contracts (rule of thumb: never sign something without reading what it says first), and tax information (this can be a tricky area but a must) for wherever you call home.

 

Of course there are probably other skills that could be useful to writers but these, in my opinion, seemed liked the most important. I advise doing your own research into the sites/programs I mentioned above; I’ve used them all except for Blogger and Squarespace (but they seem like good sites to make websites/blogs). I hope this was helpful, even if just a little bit, to you and that it made sense. I’m a big believer in having a variety of skills because you never know when they could come in handy.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed today’s post. What other skills do you think would be useful for writers to learn? What more should people know about the skills I mentioned above? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

As always, happy writing!


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Book Review: Black Moon by Romina Russell

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy
Series: Zodiac, book 3
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

My Summary:
Two months of no attacks has ushered in an “uneasy peace” (book jacket flap synopsis). But Piscians begin to literally drop like flies. Rho’s best friend, Nishi, joins a new youthful political party. And visions of Rho’s estranged and long dead mother begin to appear.

Rho suspects the Marad aren’t as gone as people want to believe and she aims to discover what’s truly going on in the Zodiac and in her own life.

The past is resurfacing. Tomorrow is uncertain. Trust is fragile.

And the choices made now could possibly decide the fate of the Zodiac.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
This series just keeps getting better and better! The plot thickens and the stakes raise higher than I thought possible. Once again I am in awe of Romina Russell’s ability to weave a story, craft a whole new world, and devise a plot so intricate and fascinating.

Something I began to suspect in  last book is answered in this book. I’m glad as was wrong on that theory and pleasantly surprised by what the true answer was. Goodness, you learn so much more in Black Moon and it’s almost disorienting (in a good way). Tension and danger keep mounting and there were several times I wanted the book to end because I was so afraid of what the outcome could be. I feared for Rho and her friends and allies. Tomorrow – the next book, Thirteen Rising, is so uncertain that I have no idea what will happen next.

I am left pleasantly devastated like the book nerd I am after reading Black Moon and need to read the next book as soon as possible. It’s like the saying goes, things will get worse before the get better. And I see that happening as this series progresses.

Few book series have made me feel so invested in the story – a sign of a true work of art in my eyes. I can’t fathom how any of this is possible, which is awesome. The author has me hooked quite thoroughly. Black Moon is definitely a win for me.

My Past Reviews Of The Zodiac Series:
Zodiac (Zodiac, book 1)
Wandering Star (Zodiac, book 2)


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Quote of the Day: Telling Stories

I love this quote! I think this is what every writer strives for: to write a story so compelling that the reader can’t stop reading until it’s over – storytelling at its finest. That’s when you know you’ve written a great story. In a way, I feel myself unconsciously doing this whenever I’m writing a story. I always want my stories to be entertaining, engaging, and enthralling – essentially, perfect but I know no story is ever perfect. It’s very hard to craft a story with “words in their best order…the best words in the best order” as Samuel Taylor Coleridge has said about prose and poetry, respectively, that really click with audiences. But when you do…you’ve done something truly magical.


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Student’s Guide: Academic Writing Reminders

academic-writing-reminders

Happy Monday, everyone!

When we first began doing major academic writing as kids (essays, picture prompts, etc.), we were taught the basics of writing and how to organize it. The rules of writing were simple back then.

I remember as a young kid starting body paragraphs of an essay with “first,” “second,” “third,” so on and ending with “in conclusion” as I was told to do. Well, imagine my kid-surprise when I reached higher levels of learning that this was not how you organized an essay and frowned upon.

But looking back, I attribute those beginnings as a reflection of the level of learning we as children were at in order for us to understand. And the more we learned, the more academic writing we did, the more we had to adapt to changing rules and sophistication of academic writing. There were some consistences but every now and again you’d get a teacher who has their own ideas about certain aspects of writing – which is fine, to each his or her own. In time, we could write successfully and intuitively.

So today I wanted to do a post about all the things I’ve learned from academic writing over the years. You may or may not find this useful if you’re still in some form of school. These reminders apply to one or more forms of academic writing (in no particular order):

  • The most important rule….DO NOT PLAGIARIZE!!!!!
  • Be original
  • Use your own thoughts/words
  • Use textual evidence (primary source and (if required) secondary sources)
  • Cite sources correctly by style (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.)
  • Use credible academic sources (books, databases, journal articles, etc.)
  • Make sure your thesis (if applicable) is consistent throughout
  • For essays/papers, body paragraphs need a topic sentence that supports/is derived from your thesis
  • Don’t write a “laundry list” (no starting paragraphs with first, second, third, in conclusion)
  • Summarize briefly and only if necessary OR assume the reader is familiar with the work you are writing about and get straight to the points you aim to make
  • Use strong, appropriate language (avoid over-the-top or archaic words)
  • Leave out unnecessary words (be descriptive and specific but concise)
  • Avoid run-on sentences (break those up into clearer more concise sentences)
  • Spell check (or whatever your word processor has like it)
  • Revise/edit more than once (because spell check doesn’t always catch grammatical/syntax/tense errors or missing words)
  • Pick a title that hints/indicates what your work is about/what you plan to talk about
  • Double check that what you’re writing follows and incorporates the prompt/topic (if applicable)
  • Double check the grading rubric (if applicable)
  • If unsure of how it reads, then read it aloud to yourself
  • If unsure if it makes sense, then have someone else read it to you
  • If unsure if you’ve made your point and if it’s logical/understandable, then have someone else read it and recite back to you what it’s about/what they’ve learned
  • And, finally….don’t be afraid to ask for help (but NOT to write the piece for you) – even people good at writing need help with it sometimes

Again, these are things that I’ve learned during my studies, which may or may not apply to you.

What has helped you with your academic writing? What other reminders should I add to this list or modify? If you’re a teacher, what reminders have you given your students to help the write effectively? I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments down below.

Happy writing!


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Quote of the Day: Giving Characters Life

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Ever character has a base function within a story. There is the main character(s) who is the focal point of the story and from whose POV we get. There are secondary/supporting characters who are necessary to the story but not the complete focus of our attention. And then there are characters whose roles are minimal, only serving to move the story and main characters(s) along. But no matter who that character is or how long or brief his or her time is in the story, each character still has some kind of purpose – that is, life. Characters without life – realism and energy – have no purpose in a story. It makes the reader question their importance or overlook them entirely. For example, in Carrie Jones‘ Need series there is a secondary character who is wheelchair bound but he is still full of so much energy and life and serves a purpose to the story (it’s been a long time since I read this series so I don’t exactly remember what). His handicap does not limit him at all. Therefore, whether characters have the best of things or the worst of things going for them, be sure to give them life, a reason, a purpose to make the story meaningful.