My Summer Plans

Hello, and welcome back to The Inky Saga! I meant to share my summer plans back in May after my last life update post (Notes on the Last Few Weeks) in which I began to delve into my job search journey and my new blogging priorities. Fortunately I didn’t because a lot has since happened that I wouldn’t have not been able to anticipate at the end of May or even last week! Thankfully, summer has only just now properly begun, so this post is not that late.

SEE: JUGGLING TWO JOBS + AUSTIN DREAMS

While I will be working nearly 40 hours a week now and continuing to apply for full-time jobs, I do hope to make the most of my time off on weekends and in the evenings to pursue my other passion projects, this blog included. I also have one major goal for this year, which is to finally apply to PhD programs, so I will need to find the time to prepare my applications materials over the summer and into fall.

The main reason I wanted to write this post, however, is I want to share what you can expect from this blog for the next few months. I know that people have decided to follow The Inky Saga for a plethora of different reasons. While in the past I have considered myself a book blogger, I’ve not used that title for almost a year now. I will never stop talking books, but there may be periods of time where I don’t have much to share on reading.

Right now I’m more interested in blogging about other things that matter to me, including topics relating to lifestyle, side hustles, and creative projects.

With all that in mind, I will now be working around 40 hours per week at two part-time jobs, while still trying to keep up with my Red Cross volunteer work, at least through August. I expect to be short on time, especially if I want to prioritize my physical health as well as my mental. So what does that mean for reading, writing, blogging, bullet journaling goals? Well, that’s what I’ve been trying to figure out!

1. Redesign my blog graphics. I’ve been excited to do this for a long time! It’s an intimidating process, because I am by no stretch of the imagination a graphic designer. Also I can be impatient when I’m trying to create something I’ve never made before and it’s not happening fast enough! However, I think I have finally figured out how to conquer this task and am finally ready to get started. I’m just going to break it into smaller tasks and document it along the way.

  • Blog header. I was playing around with Canva last month when I made the placeholder graphic I’m currently using for the blog right now, the blue and pink ombre background with a constellation motif. I’m not super happy with it, but I felt I needed something right now that better illustrated what this blog has become over the past few months. I have clear idea of what I want to make and I will likely share my creative process next month as I start to dedicate more time to it.
  • Blog post assets. I use the word “assets” here because that’s the best word I can think to use to describe what I mean. I learned it in a user-experience design class that I took in grad school. For me, it essentially refers to imagery that can recur in your product (i.e. app, website, blog etc.) that is evocative of the “brand” you have. I’ve used some recurring graphics (e.g. my End Note cloud and my Top Ten Tuesday paint-splashed featured image) in the past, but they are not very unified in color or theme.

2. Prepare fall bullet journal content. I also plan on getting back into my bullet journal content this summer after the fail that was June, but I really want to be able to hit the ground running in September as far as bujo content goes. I’d love to be able to post more on Instagram and maybe ultimately YouTube channel, but overall I want the blog to a central place for all my details and tips about keeping a bujo.

If this post had gone up in June, like I originally planned, I might’ve had a writing goal. But considering my work schedule will be increasing, I did decide I needed to put that dream on the back burner. I tried writing a little in June, but I wasn’t able to get very far. Maybe once I’m better settled into a routine and after I’ve moved (either to Austin or somewhere local) I’ll be able to think more about writing.

For anyone following this blog for bookish content, rest assured that will not be stopping! I just don’t feel an urgency to read for the sake of blogging about it. I’m in a big contemporary/mystery mood still this year and would like to make a better use of my library, so expect less polished reviews and lists and maybe more casual reading updates.

My professional plans relate to the job search and potential future career paths. I am a strong proponent of having a back up plan. PhD programs have always been my back up, not because I don’t truly want to do it, but because I didn’t want to jump into a program as fast as I did my Master’s and not have an ultimate goal in sight. So while I work on my application, I’ll have time to research the programs in which I’m interested and also think long-term about what I want to accomplish after a PhD.

1. Prepare for GRE. I took the GRE in February 2017 and did just okay. I think with more preparation I could do a lot better. I don’t know that scores would be a big part of my application, but anything that might help me get into a competitive program is worth working on. So my goal is to retake the GRE in November or December.

2. Polish my Capstone project and writing samples. I am really proud of the papers I wrote the last year of grad school and always knew what I could do make them amazing after I received my feedback on them. There’s also a major chunk missing of my Capstone that I still need to complete, so hopefully I can figure that out this summer.

3. Revamp my resume/CV. I may need to do this first! I’ve used the same resume layout that I designed in 2015 while I was a senior at ISU. I still love the way it looks, but I’ve received more than a few hints that it may not be the best showcase of my experience and skills. I’ve tweaked it over the years, but I think it’s time to start completely fresh.

4. Write a teaching philosophy. I want to apply to instructor positions at colleges/universities, and the one thing that has held me back is my lack of this piece. I’ve always thought I might like to teach at the university level, so this document may be really be a helpful reflective exercise for me. It may be something that comes in handy for other tutoring jobs or even my graduate school applications.

If luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, I want to make sure that I am prepared for future opportunities that come my way. I’m finally in a place where I’m excited to prepare for the future and feel like it might start to look brighter. Maybe it’s because I just discovered Netflix’ Queer Eye and feel so inspired about self-improvement!

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on Twitter and Instagram.

The Wanderlust Tag | Blog Tag

This week I was tagged by Sara @ The Bibliophagist for The Wanderlust Tag! Since I’ve been working on new kinds of blog content this month, I was delighted to be tagged and have another reason for a more relaxed and casual blog post that allows new followers to learn a little more about me and my interest. While this blog tag is specific to books, but I think that book recommendations reveal a lot about a person who put the list together. So hopefully it’s a fun read for anyone who has decided to follow this blog!

I’m also using this post as an opportunity for an informal catch-up. I’ve been so busy this week with helping to get the house ready for the flyer pictures. Now I won’t know with much warning when I’ll be expected to pick up and leave for house viewings. I also met with my Red Cross supervisor this week to find out what is expected of me. I’m going to start preparing social media content for our region at the start of April, so I’ll be figuring out just how long it takes me to do that next week!

Thank you so much for your support this month with all my posts and blog changes! I’m so happy with everything and can’t wait to see what April brings. I plan to publish Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this week, so I’ll be working on these posts this weekend. Hopefully they don’t take too long, because this week I need to set up my April bujo spread!

What Is The Wanderlust Tag?

❝ If you have been following my little blog, you’ll also know that I’m all about the world building. I love how a good setting works to elevate the overall mood and tension. Nothing beats the draw of an eerie moorland, murky rivers, a wind-swept coastal town or even a ruthless, Tolkien-like fantasy world. [This blog tag is] a celebration of immersive settings that transport us to alternative realities  – Alexandra @ Reading by Starlight

The Rules

  • Mention the creator of the tag and link back to original post
  • Thank the blogger who tagged you
  • Answer the 10 questions below using any genre
  • Tag 5+ friends

If you find any of the books listed below fascinating I’ve included links to them on both Goodreads and Amazon. Just so you know, I am now an Amazon affiliate. If you do end up making a qualifying purchase through my one of my links I may make a small commission at no extra expense to you. ^_^

SECRETS AND LIES | A BOOK SET IN A SLEEPY SMALL TOWN

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Pages: Paperback, 288 pages
Published: August 31, 2010 by Vintage Books
Genres: New Adult / Speculative
Goodreads | Amazon

From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, comes an unforgettable edge-of-your-seat mystery that is at once heartbreakingly tender and morally courageous about what it means to be human.

Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.

Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.

Never Let Me Go breaks through the boundaries of the literary novel. It is a gripping mystery, a beautiful love story, and also a scathing critique of human arrogance and a moral examination of how we treat the vulnerable and different in our society. In exploring the themes of memory and the impact of the past, Ishiguro takes on the idea of a possible future to create his most moving and powerful book to date.

Never Let Me Go was one of my first forays into literary fiction as a high schooler. The movie came out around my junior year of high school, which is why this book was on my radar. It’s a beautifully sad tale about what it means to be human. I still remember by frustration and confusion about why they don’t make a run for it and why they aren’t more frustrated with their fates. They were so resigned to it.

SALT AND SAND | A BOOK WITH A BEACHSIDE COMMUNITY

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Pages: Paperback, 227 pages
Published: May 13, 2014 by Hot Key Books
Genres: Young Adult / Family Drama
Goodreads | Amazon

We are the Liars.

We are beautiful, privileged and live a life of carefree luxury.

We are cracked and broken.

A story of love and romance.

A tale of tragedy.

Which are lies?

Which is truth?

You decide.

This young adult novel is one of my inexplicable favorites. It gets me every time. I feel like it’s best to go into this book somewhat blind, so all I’ll say is it’s a great summertime read. The characters have summer vacations a dreamy private island and occasionally visit the nearby beachside town. In my head I picture where the cast of Gossip Girl go at the start of…Season 2 or 3?

HERE THERE BE DRAGONS | A BOOK WITH A VOYAGE ON THE HIGH SEAS

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Pages: Hardcover, 462 pages
Published: September 29, 2015 by Henry Holt and Company
Genres: New Adult / Fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

This book is just…everything. I don’t have time to get into it! I’ll just say that a lot of important moments happen at sea and around docks. The gang travels by sea to get to their heist and then need to return the same way.

TREAD LIGHTLY | A BOOK SET DOWN A MURKY RIVER OR A JUNGLE

City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende
Pages: Paperback, 408 pages
Published: April 27, 2004 by Rayo
Genres: Young Adult / Contemporary
Goodreads | Amazon

Fifteen-year-old Alexander Cold is about to join his fearless grandmother on the trip of a lifetime. An International Geographic expedition is headed to the dangerous, remote wilds of South America, on a mission to document the legendary Yeti of the Amazon known as the Beast.

But there are many secrets hidden in the unexplored wilderness, as Alex and his new friend Nadia soon discover. Drawing on the strength of their spirit guides, both young people are led on a thrilling and unforgettable journey to the ultimate discovery. . .

I reread this book for the first time since I was a teen last year (and reviewed it) and I did not remember how violent and dark this story was, considering its targeted towards young people. It’s very descriptive of the Amazon and the dangers it holds, so it’s a great read for anyone who enjoys high-stakes adventures.

FROZEN WASTES | A BOOK WITH A FROSTBITTEN ATMOSPHERE

Troubling a Star by Madeleine L’Engle
Pages: Paperback, 336 pages
Published: September 2, 2008 by Square Fish
Genres: Young Adult / Contemporary
Goodreads | Amazon

The Austins have settled back into their beloved home in the country after more than a year away. Though they had all missed the predictability and security of life in Thornhill, Vicky Austin is discovering that slipping back into her old life isn’t easy. She’s been changed by life in New York City and her travels around the country while her old friends seem to have stayed the same. So Vicky finds herself spending time with a new friend, Serena Eddington—the great-aunt of a boy Vicky met over the summer.

Aunt Serena gives Vicky an incredible birthday gift—a month-long trip to Antarctica. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. But Vicky is nervous. She’s never been away from her family before. Once she sets off though, she finds that’s the least of her worries. She receives threatening letters. She’s surrounded by suspicious characters. Vicky no longer knows who to trust. And she may not make it home alive.

This prompt was a little hard for me. I almost went with The Golden Compass, but then I remembered this childhood classic. It’s another that I reread last summer and it’s a highly underrated book from the author of A Wrinkle in Time and A Ring of Endless. It’s got a very strong message about environmental conservation woven into this tale of a girl who gets to go visit Antarctica on an educational trip and inadvertently gets mixed up in political intrigue and dangerous plots.

THE BOONIES | A BOOK WITH ROUGH OR ISOLATED TERRAIN

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
Pages: Paperback, 380 pages
Published: May 2004 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Genres: Young Adult / Speculative 
Goodreads | Amazon

With undertones of vampires, Frankenstein, dragons’ hoards, and killing fields, Matt’s story turns out to be an inspiring tale of friendship, survival, hope, and transcendence. A must-read for teenage fantasy fans.

At his coming-of-age party, Matteo Alacrán asks El Patrón’s bodyguard, “How old am I?…I know I don’t have a birthday like humans, but I was born.”

“You were harvested,” Tam Lin reminds him. “You were grown in that poor cow for nine months and then you were cut out of her.”

To most people around him, Matt is not a boy, but a beast. A room full of chicken litter with roaches for friends and old chicken bones for toys is considered good enough for him. But for El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium—a strip of poppy fields lying between the U.S. and what was once called Mexico—Matt is a guarantee of eternal life. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself for Matt is himself. They share identical DNA.

Another really dark read for children, The House of the Scorpion becomes an thrilling adventure story about halfway through the book. The protagonist is treated horribly and unlike the characters of Never Let Me Go, does eventually make a run for it. There are dangerous characters to fend off and the terrain he must trek is not much friendlier.

HINTERLANDS AND COWBOYS | A BOOK WITH A WESTERN-ESQUE SETTING

 Holes by Louis Sachar
Pages: Paperback, 233 pages
Published: September 2, 2000 by Scholastic 
Genres: Young Adult / Folk Tales
Goodreads | Amazon

Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.

Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten- pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnats. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the warden makes the boys “build character” by spending all day, every day, digging holes: five feet wide and five feet deep. It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.

I’ve not read any westerns beyond one that was a little overrated (highly promoted) a few years ago now. I forget what it was called. Anyway, Holes eventually came to mind. The movie came out the year before I started middle school, so I remember that more clearly than I do the book, but this book involves history of the west where the story’s setting is located. There are a collection of interwoven tales that link the protagonist, antagonists, and Camp Green Lake to the past during the time of trains and robbers.

LOOK LIVELY | A BOOK ACROSS SWEEPING DESERT SANDS

Cress by Marissa Meyer
Pages: Paperback, 550 pages
Published: January 27, 2015 by Square Fish
Genres: Young Adult / Science Fiction / Fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

Cress is the third book in the Lunar Chronicles and probably my favorite. I love Cress best of all and her story is the saddest and loneliest. To travel with her on her adventures once she escapes her prison is so much fun. A lot of this book is set in the desert where she and Captain Thorne crash land on Earth.

WILD AND UNTAMED | A BOOK SET IN THE HEART OF THE WOODS

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Pages: Paperback, 438 pages
Published:  March 1, 2016 by Del Rey 
Genres: New Adult / Fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

This book feels like its a few different books all cut and pasted together to make one. It’s a really beautiful and pretty fun read that ends up in a place I really didn’t expect it to go. The corrupt Wood is one of the scariest settings/entities that I’ve ever read. I had some nightmares after reading this book, which I’ve never really had happen with a book before.

WILDEST DREAMS | A WHIMSICAL BOOK SHROUDED IN MAGIC

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
Pages: Paperback, 349 pages
Published: July 11, 2017 by Speak
Genres: Young Adult / Fantasy 
Goodreads | Amazon

Sunny Nwazue lives in Nigeria, but she was born in New York City. Her features are West African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent” with latent magical power. And she has a lot of catching up to do.

Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But just as she’s finding her footing, Sunny and her friends are asked by the magical authorities to help track down a career criminal who knows magic, too. Will their training be enough to help them against a threat whose powers greatly outnumber theirs?

I’ve never read another book that makes me feel the way I did when I first read Harry Potter. That desire to enter the world and experience its magic personally. I know a lot of authors have attempted it, but it’s never really been the same. I love the worldbuilding in Akata Witch so much because it feels so much more real than Harry Potter. It’s set in Africa, which read a lot to me like places from my actual childhood in the more rural hispanic parts of the US. It feels less like of an ivory tower than Hogwarts, more attainable.

I Tag…

Eline | Czai | Charleigh | Olivia | Angelica | Sam

I’ve seen this tag making the rounds, so I don’t remember who all has already done it! I’m just tagging the people I’ve most recently tagged who I think might enjoy it if they haven’t already. Of course, if this sounds like something you’d like to and you haven’t been tagged yet then consider yourself personally tagged by me ^_^

Recent Posts

Well this post took the better part of my Saturday morning and afternoon, with breaks of course! I’m about to call it a day and go start Part 2 of The OA on Netflix! I’ve been anticipating it all month and then I go and forget about it this week as soon as it debuts. Typical.

The last week of March will be dedicated to bullet journal content as I move into my new bullet journal and set it up for April. On that note, some of you may have gotten a sneak preview this week of the post that will go up on Monday! Sorry about that! It was not quite finished, and I forgot to move it after failing to complete it last weekend. There’s a lot more I want to add to it, so that it is as amazing and helpful as possible for newbies to journaling.

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on Twitter and Instagram.

How to Avoid Blogger Burnout + New Blog Schedule

Welcome, one and all, to The Inky Saga! Today I wanted to talk about a topic very close to my heart: blogger burnout. If you’ve been around for a while, you probably already know I have never been the most consistent of bloggers. I’ll either be all about the blog for a few weeks or a couple months maximum, then something will derail me and I’ll take a long, often unannounced break. I’ve never worried much about it in the past, because I’ve never taken blogging seriously until recently.

I’ve been doing a lot over the past month to build my blog into something that may ultimately become profitable, and I know from all my research that’s not something that will happen overnight. Consistency and perseverance is essential. So if I go all out and exhaust myself in the first month of this project, then I’m not going to get where I want to go in the long run.

I’ve been really mindful of how much time I’ve put into my most recent blog posts, including the time spent planning them, writing them, making graphics for them, and promoting them via Pinterest and Twitter. It’s honestly been a lot of time for just 3-4 posts per week. On Friday I estimated that during spring break about 40% of my waking hours was spent creating the blog posts in the screenshot below.

Recent Posts: April BuJo Theme IdeasLeslie Knope & 10 Books on Her TBR | My Favorite … Feminist T.V. Character5 Things I Did to Grow My Pinterest Blog Traffic

So with all that in mind, I decided last Friday that I needed to come up with a better system. I go back to work this week, which means about 25 less hours that I’ll have to fiddle around with blog stuff. That doesn’t even count time that I will put towards Red Cross volunteering, applying for jobs again, or building up a writing portfolio for a freelancing business I want to start!

Out of everything I have going on, blogging feels like the most selfish at the moment. But it’s also the activity I’m hoping will yield the best returns over time.

I do not think my blogging struggles are unique to other bloggers out there, particularly fellow adults with more significant life commitments. We can all benefit from learning how to make the best use of our time and not let ourselves become overworked at something we love to do. The following are my tips for avoiding blogger burnout, plus the blog schedule I’ll be following for the time being.

1. Be a more efficient blogger.

Being more efficient means getting better work done in a shorter amount of time. It doesn’t mean cutting corners or being lazy. It means that you make the most of your time. If you’re making the most of your time, it means you are saving time and energy in the long run.

The first step in becoming more efficient is estimating how much time you need for blogging. It may be easiest to record the time you already use to blog in a notebook or Excel spreadsheet. Write down the Date, Activity (e.g. outlining a post, drafting a post, making graphics, promoting), Start Time, End Time, and then add it all up. You’ll know how much time you spend on average working on your blog posts, and then you’ll be able to decide how well that time fits into your life.

After you’ve done those activities, you can start thinking about what you might’ve done differently to work faster and/or smarter. For example, I’ve learned that if I’m doing a tag or meme, I can work faster and smarter by entering the newer WordPress editor (not the block editor), going to the More Options tab, and copying a similar post to Overwrite.

I’ve also realized that bookish posts are harder to promote on Pinterest, so I don’t waste valuable time creating vertical pin images for them (or blog tags for that matter) unless they’ve got a gimmick to them that I figure will attract readers, like my Leslie Knope & 10 Books on Her TBR post.

I also save time on Instagram by keeping the hashtags I use for bullet journal and bookish content saved in my iPhone Notes folder so that I don’t have to type them out each time and risk forgetting any important ones that help users find my content.

If you know that your making the best use of your time, it will be harder to slip into negative feelings that your blog efforts don’t matter or are not worth it. Anyone can be overworked and exhausted by what they do, but it’s self-doubt that will cause blogger burnout to sink in.

2. Make the blog posts you want to read.

I think most people blog first and foremost for themselves, not to become super popular or rich. Those who have ulterior motives are often easy to sniff out and won’t make it, because it’s easy to tell who is authentic and who is not. If you want your blog to have readers, authenticity should be your highest priority. It takes less mental energy being your authentic self and also produces the best results.

The easiest way I can think of for being authentic is by producing posts that feel the most natural to make. They are the posts that you yourself would want to read. It’s easier to blog with an audience of you in mind, because it’s more fulfilling that way. You feel like your efforts are not in vein when you blog for someone, even if they’re imaginary. It’s also the best way to attract the followers that you want; your ideal audience.

3. Don’t stretch yourself thin.

It’s hard to know when you’re overdoing it until it’s too late. When you’re doing something you love, it doesn’t always feel like work. It’s work that you feel is worth doing, at least until life gets in the way. When something unexpected happens or other life priorities demand more of your time, it’s a mistake to try and keep your regular blog pace. It’ll just make you resent your blog or the other big parts of your life.

A way that you can avoid stretching yourself too thin is by periodically doing an audit of everything you do for your blog. Then decide how much time you can dedicate to blogging and when you can reasonably squeeze it into your life without letting any other parts of your life suffer. Make sure you leave time for self-care (e.g. hot baths, dog walks, exercise), other activities (e.g. bujo, reading, chores), and the unexpected (e.g. family emergencies, power outages, interviews).

Blogging shouldn’t take up your whole life. You need to have wiggle room; time that you can binge-watch that new Netflix show or have that impromptu brunch date with your friend that you don’t get to see very often. If you’re someone who has trouble reigning in the blogger enthusiasm, you may consider implementing a blog schedule.

Blog Schedule

I did the math, and I decided if I don’t want to spend more than 20% of my waking hours working on blog posts each week, then I should only be dedicating 25 hours maximum to drafting, polishing, promoting blog posts. Right now I’ve been blogging whenever I feel like it, but with more things that I need to start doing, I decided to become more regimented with when I do blog work so I know I’m making the best use of my time.

I’ve decided that I want to post no more than 3-4 posts each week, ideally closer to three. I want to write two evergreen posts each week, meaning posts with content that stays “fresh.” These posts are relevant throughout the years, rarely needing updating. For example, this post might qualify as evergreen because people might be searching for advice on how to avoid blogger burnout at any time during the year.

I also want to have at least one personal/fun/miscellaneous post each week in which I can engage with the communities I consider myself a part of. These may be bookish memes or blog tags. They may also just be blog/life updates or event announcements. I used to really enjoy writing weekly updates in my Week in Review format; maybe I’ll find a way to bring those back without taking time away from other posts.

While I don’t want to commit to an actual publishing schedule, I do feel like I need to set up a blog work schedule so that I have other days open for miscellaneous projects. I may need to adjust this schedule a little to accommodate unforeseen problems, but I think I’m off to a good start.

MondayFriday: Promote & blog hop daily
Saturday: Write 2-3 of next week’s blog posts
Sunday: Create horizontal & vertical blog post graphics

During the week I’ll also likely choose a day where I will allow myself to start working on future blog posts, whether that just be planning and scheduling them or actually beginning to draft them. It would be great to get a little ahead of schedule if only for those weekends that I want to do nothing.

I hope you found this post helpful and informative! I plan to write more about how I plan blog content and my blog post workflow in the future, but I felt like this topic was a good place to start my blogging series. It also gave me a great opportunity to explain why I decided to give myself a blog schedule! I feel like it might take a few weeks to get in the routine, but it will save me a lot of time in the long run.

Thank you for reading!
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Mystery Blogger Award | Blog Tag

This week I was nominated by Siobhan @ Novelties for the Mystery Blogger Award! Since I’ve been working on new kinds of blog content this month, I was delighted to be tagged and have a reason for a more relaxed blog post that would allow new followers to get to know more about me.

On an unrelated note, I decided to start going by my real name again on this blog and my other socials because I want to be able to share stuff I write on here with future employers and don’t want there to be any confusion. Sorry for any confusion I’ve caused for you guys!

What Is the Mystery Blogger Award?

It’s an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion. – Okoto Enigma

The Rules

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)

Three Facts about Me

  1. Purple used to be my favorite color and now I can’t stand the thought of wearing it. It brings back negative memories of 8th/9th grade.
  2. I used to be able to tan really dark, but now I just freckle permanently if I don’t wear sunscreen. It’s really annoying.
  3. I’m in the currently in process of moving, so life is a little all over the place at the moment! More info about this move to come…

Siobhan’s Questions

1. Which character would you name your child (human, furbrat, or other) after?

By saying these names, I feel like I’m giving them away! But so be it, there’s plenty of names out there. For a daughter, I really love the name Ruth after the character from the film Fried Green Tomatoes (1991). For a son, I like Remus after Remus Lupin from Harry Potter. For dogs I like Gordo (Lizzie Maguire), Randall (This is Us), and Bosley (Bill Murray in Charlie’s Angels).

2. If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?

I would become a business woman with enough capital and connections to make stuff happen.

3. What is your new favorite book or TV show?

New as in discovered within the last year? I’ve recently been thinking about Sharp Objects, which is a mini-series starring Amy Adams that came out last summer. It was amazing. The female characters were so compelling and the music so evocative. I feel like I might start it up again. I can’t think of a new favorite book beyond The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson, which was a satisfying follow-up to Truly Devious.

4. What is the latest accomplishment you’re proud of?

What a lovely question. I’m really pleased about my new position as a Red Cross digital volunteer! I had to interview for it, and it was a win I needed right now to be honest. It’ll be doing work that I’m proud of and that will give me great experience for the kind of thing I want to do professionally.

5. What book are you looking forward to reading?

Right now, I really want to get to King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo! I’ve been trying to finish up Disrupt You by Jay Samit first so I could mark it off my TBR.

Bonus: If you could be transported into any TV show, what would it be?

I would love to be transported into the 1950s New York City of which The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel paints such a rosy picture. (I think I’ve answered this question before and had the same exact answer!)

My Questions

  1. Do you share your blog with people you know in your real life?
  2. What are your ultimate blog goals?
  3. Do you see yourself blogging when you’re 50?
  4. Who is your role model, fictional or otherwise?
  5. What are some books do you think are underrated?
  6. Bonus: You find out the world ends tomorrow; what do you do?

I Nominate…

Sara| Dani | Eline | Larissa | Czai | CharleighSamanthaMarie | Olivia | Angelica

Recent Posts

I hope you enjoy this light post! I’ve been super busy this week between producing the posts I did, planning future content, and working on job-related stuff. I’ve come to the realization that I really need to scale back on the blog stuff at the moment, so I’m probably going to aim for something of a blog schedule (M/W/F) for the next few weeks so that I can get on top of other responsibilities. I’ll try to use Twitter and Instagram for more personal updates, so check those out if you’d like!

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on Twitter and Instagram.

My 2019 Bullet Journal + January Spread

Over the past couple of years, I have begun dabbling in bullet journalling. I’ve always loved stationary and keeping a planner in school. I’ve also always been highly reflective, creativity-inclined, and goal-oriented, so bullet journalling felt like a natural fit for me. I’m also attracted to the fact that it is something I could make and hold in my hands since so much of my time is spent online.

In total, I had created three monthly spreads before this month, for June 2017, September 2018, and October 2018. Each time felt like an experiment. When I was first starting out, I didn’t know what page elements I would want or need during the month. I didn’t know what was practical and or what would work for me.

I’m not going to lie, I did not complete filling out any of these previous spreads, abandoning each project at some point during the month. But each time I started a new one, I got closer to the right layout and elements for me.

In this blog post, I will share my inspiration, my January spread, and my rationale for what I decided to include in my bullet journal this month.

My Method

I was recently watching AmandaRachLee‘s 2018 Journal Flip Through for ideas when I came to an important realization. While I love her artistic style and creativity in spreads, I do not feel motivated to make my bullet journal a planner. I don’t have many important dates to remember each month and prefer to keep an actual paper calendar on my desk for quick reference.

Rather my aim with my bullet journal to track progress on my projects over time, to brainstorm, to keep a log of the things I want to do and actually do. Some people also make their bullet journal their diary, but I personally am keeping that in a separate notebook. I treat my bullet journal more as a physical manifestation of a online blog, highly selective and curated towards what I want to share and remember.

If you’re interested in starting a bullet journal, I highly recommend:

  1. Immersing yourself in the bullet journal communities in the blogosphere, on Pinterest, on Instagram, and on YouTube. There are a lot of fun ideas to parse through and only you know what spreads will work best for you.
  2. Practicing first in journals you already have. You don’t need to buy special notebooks or pens when you are just starting out! It will most likely just psyche you out anyway if you have perfectionist tendencies; you will be too anxious not to make mistakes.
  3. Using sticky notes to organize your layout. Some people like to create story board-like rough drafts before they start putting pen officially to paper, but I find sticky notes work just as well. After I list all the page elements I want, I go through my journal and figure out where things will fit most naturally.

I went back and forth with the idea of buying a new notebook for my bullet journal this year. The specific one on my wish list was the Scribbles That Matter A5 dotted notebook. It was only $20, but money was tight over the holidays and I wanted to buy gifts for my loved ones instead. *le sigh*

Also, the more I thought about it, I realized using a regular notebook would work just as well. It would be my gimmick if I started dedicating more of my blog-space and focus to journalling. So I looked through my small collection of notebooks I had collected over the years and decided to use a more recently acquired journal, my Target decomposition notebook. It’s a nice size and makes me happy every time I look at it.

One negative to this notebook is that my pen ink (Pilot G-2, fine, ball-point) bleeds through the pages quite easily. My current solution is to tape pages together so I do not need to worry about the visibility of the ink marks. It feels a little wasteful of page space, but I figure I might find better solution later on this year. I know there’s liquid paper I could paint over the back, and I could also start gluing in loose leaf.

My January 2019 Spread

I decided to make clouds my January theme because it’s been a very rainy winter in Texas this year and because I always feel like I always have my head in the clouds, especially around the new year. Clouds carry a lot of symbolic meaning.

I did not come up with this theme on my own. My spread is heavily inspired by my bujo idol AmandaRachLee‘s April 2018 set-up, from the distinct cloud design to specific page elements like the mood tracker. Where I deviated was primarily in the actual layout. I don’t love drawing out calendars, so my spreads have elements that lend themselves better to list formats and brain dumps.

Directly after the main page, I have a page for my mood and habit trackers. I find it enlightening to be able to see at a glance how happy or unhappy I was during a month, particularly since I generally end the month without remembering everything that went on. I’m still working out how I want to visually depict my mood (e.g. via size of rain drop, length dropped, or color shade of blue-grey).

I used to make my habit trackers a simple table that would take up half a page. I decided to try out this mini-calendar design to better be able to see how consistently I was sticking to the daily habits I wanted to nurture.

Next up is my two-column January event planner. I break it up into personal and blog categories for better spatial organization. Personal plans might be related to work, appointments, or social events. For the blog section, I like to keep track of the blog posts I plan to write. Once they are complete and published, I go over the final titles in ink so I can see at a glance what went up that month.

Next to my plans, I like to be able to see the specific goals I set for the month. The ones shown in the picture below (see page on the right) were ideas I had last week before I hurt my back. I plan to get to them once I’m 100% again!

I also like to keep space for brain dump. Here I record any special ideas I might have regarding writing, blogging, or any number of my projects. It’s not a lot of space, but I do find that it’s enough room key ideas that remind me what I was thinking at the time.

The newest addition to my monthly spread a place for weekly notes and to-do lists. Many people allot space for diary-like notes they want to remember. I personally see myself just writing to-do lists and short life highlights. I folded a page in half to reduce the number of times I would have to draw the side-bar calendar. 

I have still been thinking about how I want to use this space, so I’ve not applied much ink beyond the side-bar calendar. I do think it will be a place to keep track of what I end up doing each day or maybe job positions for which I apply.

 ☙ ❧ End Note ❧ ☙

I hope you liked this blog post! I have been wanting to start talking about bullet journalling on this blog for a long time. In case anyone’s interested, I think I will try to share a flip through this spread at the end of the month with some more commentary about how well my set-up worked. I’d also like to start doing more focused posts about the set-up of my bullet journals.

I will be back this weekend most likely with a writing update + 2019 writing plans. I have a post on my recent reads that is nearly complete, but I think that I will not be able to finish the last book I want to talk about until after this weekend.

Do you bullet journal? How do create your monthly spreads? Is your set-up organized entirely differently?

 

The Liebster Award | Blog Tag

Last week I was tagged by Gerry @ The Book Nook UK for The Liebster Award. This award makes me feel really nostalgic, because it was one of the first I ever got nominated for back on my first blog in 2015. I’m amazed that it continues to circulate online and I’m thrilled to be considered for it again after so many years.

These were some pretty interesting questions to think about! I hope my answers were satisfactory, Gerry!


If you opened up a bookshop – what would it be called?

Interlude in Feathers

You’re writing a novel – what are your two main characters names and what kind of novel is it?

I’m not going to share actual names I’ve been using my novels! But here’s two I really love and just thought of, Amelia and Bo. It would be a family drama.

You wake up from a night of heavy drinking to find that you have a tattoo of a fictional character’s name tattooed on your bum. Whose name is it?

I do not drink heavily, but one answer that comes to mind is Woodstock. ^_^

You’re a wizard Harry book blogger. What familiar do you choose?

One of those bear-sized raccoons that wanders around in packs at night

You’re hosting dinner, which four guests (friends, family, famous or fictional) do you invite?

Howell Jenkins, Ginny Weasley, Nikolai Lantsov, and Kaz Brekker

What are you cooking them? Is this your signature dish?

I would cook them beef stir fry with mixed veggies and pineapple served over white rice. It is not a signature dish of mine, but it is something I used to order at a restaurant that discontinued it as a menu item years ago. Not sure why it came to mind just now…

There’s an orchard at the end of the road, one night you hear sobbing from it. Do you go and investigate? If you investigate, who’s there?

I go investigate if it’s not night-time yet and I have my phone handy and someone on call. I assume it’s a woman. Maybe someone who just escaped a potential kidnapping. I call 911 and stay nearby in case anyone else shows up.

Magic has happened and now you’re in the last movie that you watched. What movie is it and how do you fare in this new universe?

I just watched The Shape of Water (2017)! It’s a beautiful movie and world. I think I’d be fine. I could start a new life fairly easily in Baltimore of the 1950s. I feel it was a lot easier back then to make up new identities. I also think American industry was stronger back then, so it’d be easy to find work.

Alien abduction, werewolf bite, vampire attack. One is going to happen to you but lucky for you, you get to pick which one! Go for it and tell me which.

Vampire attack. I think it would hurt the least and be the least lonely. I also think it would be a lot easier to control vampiric urges than those of a werewolf. Alien abduction would be the worst for me. Mars Attacks! (1996) is hands down one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen. I don’t want to be an alien’s science experiment!

Tell me what your perfect Sunday looks like.

Waking up by natural light before anyone else. Having my favorite breakfast tacos from a Mexican restaurant called Jalisco. It’s raining but bright outside. I’d participate in #WritersPatch at 10 a.m. CST and then work on my novel for a few hours, taking breaks for snacks, but otherwise doing exactly as I please ^_^

What plot of a book resembles your life or is most closest to your life?

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

End Note

Thanks for the tag, Gerry! As my mind has been so preoccupied lately, I didn’t feel that I could adequately come up with a list of questions to rival Gerry’s, so I’ve also opted not to tag anyone this weekend. If you would like to answer these fun questions yourself, feel free to do so and link back to Gerry and me so we can see your answers! ^_^

Let me know what you think in the comment section!

Thank you for reading!
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TBR Book Tag | Blog Tag

Last week I was tagged by Gerry @ The Book Nook UK to do the TBR Book Tag! Since I never really keep track of my TBR as listed on Goodreads, I thought this would be a really fun experience to share as I look through the books I’ve added to my “Want to Read” shelf.

Before I get started, I will say that I jump back and forth in between mentioning my physical TBR (books I already own and have access to) and my Goodreads TBR (which doesn’t exclusively list books I am passionate about reading), which are two very different things.

Keep reading to learn about the differences! ^_^

 TBR Book Tag 

How do you keep track of your TBR list?

I don’t keep track of my Goodreads TBR list very well. I don’t really consider my “Want to Read” shelf on Goodreads as an accurate representation of a my TBR. I consider my true TBR the list of books that I actually own, namely the books I’ve spent my money on.

So on my main bookcase, I have one shelf at eye level were I most of my physical TBR is located. If I have any of my unread books on another shelf (for organizational purposes), I actually put a pink page marker on them so I can see at a glance what books I’ve not yet read.

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

Print! I don’t love reading eBooks, but I do buy them on occasion if I don’t like the book cover of a specific book or want to take advantage of a good Amazon deal. If it’s a book I think I will love, I have to have it in print form. I have the entire Throne of Glass series in eBook form because the when I first started the series, the prices of first two books were marked down.

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

I’m a mood reader. I don’t request or get sent any ARCs so my reading choices at any given time are completely up to me and how I feel. I aim to read the books I’ve owned for the longest time but for whatever reason haven’t yet gotten around to. I also try to read books these days as soon as I purchase them.

A book that has been on your TBR the longest

Omitting books I that I’ve bought for past classes and still would like to read, it would have to be The Way of the Pilgrim by Helen Bacovcin. I bought it second-hand in high school after reading Franny & Zooey by J.D. Salinger. It’s a book that affects Franny in a major way in the novella, so I was really interested in reading it for myself.

It’s just never been a top priority for me ever. I don’t consider myself a very spiritual person, so I don’t know what to expect. Now that I’m thinking about it, however, I feel like giving it a try!

A book that you recently added to your TBR

I’m going to look to my Goodreads TBR list for this one and pick the one that most catches my eye right now. Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee is one that stands out! I love contemporaries that are based on really unique premises. I also love when books are heavily influenced by or retellings of classics. I think it’s great when we can see how classics continue to be relevant today.

A book on your TBR list strictly because of its beautiful cover

This is hard! I don’t really add books to my TBR because I’m drawn to the cover. It’s usually the reverse; I’ll like the summary of a book but the book cover will put me off of purchasing it.

But if I must answer, I think The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill might be a more appealing cover to me than the actually story summary is. So it may be doomed to my Goodreads TBR! I don’t know yet!

the-surface-breaks

A book on your TBR that you never plan on actually reading

I try to keep my physical TBR devoid of books I don’t actually want to read. I have no problem unhauling a book if I can see no use to keeping it. If we’re talking specifically about my Goodreads TBR, though . . . maybe Art Matters by Neil Gaiman.

I’m not sure how much I would get from it personally, as I think I already value art pretty highly. It would most likely be one I need to find at a library or heavily discounted if I am to one day read it.

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for

I’m probably most excited for two books that come out next January! First, The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson (January 22, 2019). The first book Truly, Devious ended on a major cliffhanger so I’ve been pining for this sequel practically all year. Second, King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo (January 29, 2019). It will follow my favorite character from the Grisha trilogy, Nikolai after his trauma.

unpublishedTBR.png

A book on your TBR that basically everyone has read but you

Oh, this one’s easy. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor! I’ve been meaning to read it, I swear! I’ve just been sooo . . . scared I won’t like it! It’s been hyped so much. You might say I bought it as a paperback because I love the cover design far more than the American hardcover. I’m also worried I’ll love it and be forced to wait super long until Muse of Nightmares is out in paperback too!

A book on your TBR everyone recommends you

I don’t get a lot of recommendations out of the blue, but every time I mention Strange the Dreamer people tell me I need to read it!

A book on your TBR you’re very excited to read

So many . . . Because I haven’t mentioned it yet, Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas. The series finale has been a long time coming. Even if I don’t end up being blown away by the ending, it will feel so satisfying to know how Aelin’s story ends.

The number of books on your Goodreads TBR shelf

As of yesterday (9/21), there are 283 books on my “Want to Read” bookshelf.

tbr283

I tag:

tag, you're it!

 ☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

I hope you liked getting a closer look at my TBR! Even though I’m not doing them on a monthly basis anymore, I still really love reading them and think they are a great thing to set. I think they can give you structure when you might need it, and they’re so much fun to think about.

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.

July Notes ➴

July is the month I feel like I finally became a true blogger.  I’ve never been prouder of the blog posts I’ve made and how successfully I’ve balanced being both a blogger and a blog reader. Additionally, I started up two new weekly series: Novel Progress (in which I share my writing updates + topic discussions) and Weekly Reviews (in which I summarize the week’s blog posts and reading progress).

That being said, I did feel like I was edging towards burn out. Exiting July I came away with ideas for how to make things a little easier on myself, but I’ll save those ideas for my August Goals + TBR ➹ post, which should go up tomorrow!

Revisiting My Goals

This month all my goals had to do with my blog. I’ve started to take my blog more seriously not just as place to share my bookish thought but also a portfolio of my writing and individuality. I have wanted to treat my blog a little bit as a job to see how I like it.

Here are the goals I set for June:

  1. DEDICATE M/W/F TO WRITING BLOG POSTS
  2. DEVELOP A UNIQUE BLOG THEME
  3. CONDENSE MY BOOK REVIEWS

One of the best things I’ve done for myself is decide to dedicate specific days to blogging. I didn’t stick strictly to M/W/F, but for the most part I think I kept the spirit behind this schedule alive. I didn’t want to feel like my blog was taking over my life, so if I felt like I did a lot of blog work one day I didn’t do that again the next day. I’d like to increase my productivity on these blog days so that’s something I’ll be working on next month.

So this month I wanted to create a unique blog theme for Betwined Reads. By that, I meant blog imagery, meaning reusable blog headers, featured images, and blog logo. Basically, I wanted to work on my blog identity, the stuff that people remember when they think about the blog. I feel like I got a good foundation started. I have some color schemes I like a lot and my use of special characters has become something of staple. Also after writing my blogger aesthetics post, I have an idea of the stuff I can focus on in my future designs.

As for my final goal, I feel like I did find a book review style that I like. However, I’m not really sure I condensed them. Instead I feel like I just broke them up a bit more attractively so they’re less intimidating on the surface level. I think I’m satisfied for now, but I will keep an eye out for cool ideas on how to make them both useful to readers and satisfying on a personal level.

June’s Blog Posts

||      BOOK REVIEWS     ||

||      BLOG TAGS     ||

||      NOVEL PROGRESS     ||

||      MISCELLANEOUS     ||

What I Read

In July I only managed to read three books. I’m not someone who reads a lot during the week, and this month I took a lot of time in between reading books to work on other things. I would like to make reading a better part of my day next month. All the books I read this month had me thinking a lot in between reads, so I don’t feel too bad about how seemingly little I read.

  1. Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter | ★★★★½
  2. Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko | ★★★★
  3. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene | ★★★½

My favorite read was definitely Vassa in the Night, but that was a reread! So I guess I’ll go with Ceremony. I walked away from that book each time thinking about Tayo and his pain. I also felt it was a very spiritual in a way that anyone from any culture could appreciate. My least favorite was probably Summer of My German Soldier, even though it was a perfectly fine read. My biggest critique is that it didn’t resolve everything that goes down in the book in a way I found personally too satisfying.

☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

Sorry this post is coming late! I was out of town last weekend and didn’t prepare much in advance, as I explain in yesterday’s A Quick Update | August 9th. Tomorrow morning I will publish my August Goals + TBR ➹, where I’ll talk about some of my goals for the month and the books I plan to read.

I feel like this year is winding up pretty quickly and I’m excited to see where I take the blog by the end of the year. Fall is my favorite time of year, so I’m getting really excited for what fun opportunities and reads that life will have in store.

Thank you for reading!
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A Quick Update | August 9th

aquickupdate

Hello! I kind of disappeared last week without saying anything or even finishing up blog posts I wanted to go live this weekend. I’d like to chalk it up to blog burn-out, but really it was just that I didn’t get a lot done last week. I was tired all the time (probably because I was working out about twice a day) and watching a lot of YouTube in between naps.

I’ve discovered a lot of new YouTube channels over the past couple of weeks. Shane Dawson has been a favorite of mine since the end of the last year when he started doing more personal, heart-felt videos. More recently through him, I’ve discovered James Charles and Jeffree Star. So there’s been a lot of binge-watching these creators old videos! And I don’t even really wear makeup so let’s just let that speak to their personalities, creativity, and work ethic, which are all reasons I’ve been enjoying and feeling inspired by their videos.

It’s kind of embarrassing how I let myself get derailed from the blog so quickly. That’s actually why I think I was getting a little burned out. I’m on a never-ending quest to strike the right balance between blogging about life and actually living my life. Consider it a theme of Betwined Reads!

So before I left for my trip to the Rio Grande Valley, I had three posts mostly written. The only reason I did not publish them is because I hadn’t created featured images for them. I just don’t like posts to go up without any visuals. I wanted to try something new for this month, but never gave myself the time to work on them.

I’m not sure if it’s worth posting them now. Does anyone want to see super late July Notes ➴ and August Goals + TBR ➹ posts? They’d require some revision at this point…

      Immediate Plans   ➵ 

I was going to go into this in my August Goals + TBR ➹, but since it’s not up yet I figure I’ll announce it here and now: I am seriously going to kick up the job search this month. I feel like this year has been me trying to feel like myself again, without the crutch of school to give me a stronger sense of self-worth or identity. It’s time for me to join the world of the living and working.

I’m not saying the blog is going to take a back seat, but I don’t want to stretch myself thin with everything I want/need to do. That being said, I’m not sure I want to be publishing a lot of blog posts each week. I’m not someone who can start a post and publish it all in the same day. Generally, I like to sit on a blog post for a day or two to make sure I’m happy sending it out into the world like a little fragile little sail boat going into the unknown.

I feel like sometimes I do a lot more work than I need to for things that should be straight forward and simple, so my goal for today (8/9) and this weekend is to make sure everything I do moving forward on this blog I can do with pleasure and pride. I have a lot more free time than the average person, but with so much that I want to do it can still feel like I don’t have enough!

❧ ☙ Final Note ☙ ❧

I don’t want to commit to a schedule in this post, because I’ve not given my posts a serious thought yet. I wanted to do a quick little update just so you know I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth! I think things will be back to normal (or a new normal) by the start of next week! I just need a few days to reflect and establish a new schedule/work flow.

Thank you for reading!
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Some of My Favorite (Book) Bloggers

Here it is! The long-awaited post I’ve been promising for over a month now. Today I’m sharing a short list of blogs that I am currently loving. These are the blogs inspire me to grow and be my best. Originally, I was just going to share the blogs that I discovered specifically in June and were relatively low in their follower count, but I realized early in June that the blogs that I’m most loving are for the most part ahead of me by leaps and bounds!

Making this post was a lot harder than I originally thought it would be. From the beginning I knew I didn’t want to just list blogs and provide no explanation. Also, the more time passed the more that I felt I should include. I even had to reassess the list of blogs I originally intended to showcase because I eventually found I was not as enamored with some of these blogs as I originally thought.

The blogs I share below all share a few factors. I think these blogs are incredibly well written, conversational, and for the most part visually captivating (even if they’re relatively simple). The bloggers post what feels like really authentic and original content (even if they do a lot of memes). I’m attracted to the friendly and thoughtful personalities I detect behind these blogs. And, finally, I feel like I can trust their opinions on the books they read and review.

~ Epitomes of the Bookish Lifestyle Aesthetic ~

I don’t remember how I stumbled upon the first two of these bloggers. It was around the time of BookCon in NYC and I was just finding so many wonderful posts that recapped the event on their blogs. After investigating their blogs, I found these two are good pals and do a lot of collaborative and creative posts that are fantastic. They talk books, but they also talk NYC restaurants and culture. Their blogs and lives are so dreamy.

• Hello, Chelly 

• Alexa Loves Books

~ Co-Blogging Virtuosos ~

Of Wonderland • I don’t know how they work, but I’m amazed when I discover blogs are run by more than one person. My old book blogging pal Ely has jumped from a couple of collaborative blogs in the time I’ve know her, most recently becoming a part of the terrific Of Wonderland team. I’ve since also become friendly with book blogger with Inge, another of Of Wonderland‘s super kind and friendly bloggers. I highly recommend checking out this gorgeous blog.

~ SuperHeroes of Book Blogging ~

I think I was following all of these blogs long before I made my return to blogging this year and I feel like I would be depriving anyone who is not already familiar with these blogs from the greatness that these blogs exude. I call them superheroes because not only do they produce so much blog content on a variety of thought-provoking, interesting topics that also are such lovely bloggers who regularly reach out and comment on others’ blogs, even complete newbies like me. They are literally pillars of this community.

The Orangutan Librarian  •

The Bibliophagist

Drizzle and Hurricane Books  •

~ Voices of Distinction ~

Rose Petal Pages • I love Cailin’s blog aesthetic. I like that the books she talks about are a mixture of new releases and also classics that I would personally be likely to read. I find her writing style so concise and clear in portraying her thoughts about the books she reveals and the way they made her feel. Her reviews are amongst my favorite. I look forward to seeing where she takes her blog (she just started in April)!

Novel Ink • I don’t always like blogs that review a lot of ARCs on their blogs, mostly because I find they sugarcoat books or overemphasis a book’s good or (more often) simply mediocre qualities often while ignoring the bad, but I actually find Madalyn’s reviews really helpful in getting a good sense of a book. Her critiques are really thoughtful and actually useful for me in determining if I might like the book. I really just vibe with her writing style and taste in books.

E, My Narrative • Emma’s blog is a real treat. It’s unlike your regular, standard book blog. She doesn’t rely on blog tags, she isn’t overly hyperbolic. She’s a voice I feel like I can trust. Like many of my favorite blogs, the books she talks about are a mixture of new releases and older/underhyped books (she gets major points for talking about Agatha Christie)! I feel like we have similar sensibilities in our writing (or maybe that’s all in my head), which is why I’m so drawn to her posts!

Flickering Lights • I think she’s been away on holiday, but Kristin’s blog is really elegant and her insights are really precise and thoughtful. Sometimes just reading her quick thoughts on books from her TBR convince me they are worth reading, even if I’d already written the book of as something I wasn’t interested in. I do so hope she comes back! I think she has a great future in book blogging ahead of her.

Reading Peaches • Anna is one of those bloggers who you can just tell is really well read. Her specialty, in my opinion, is her book recommendations based around a specific genre, theme, or miscellaneous element. Her recommendations go beyond your big name, new releases and the over-hyped books that you see pop up in post after post in your WordPress Reader or Bloglovin’ feeds. Chances are you can go her to her blog and find something that is just right for your specific interest or need!

Paper Blots • I adore her long-style blog posts. I like that I often come away with notes about her culture (e.g. food) and interests. She covers a lot of ground in her posts, which makes them super fun reads. And her books discussions don’t get bogged down with too many details; she great at sticking to highlights. I also really appreciate her honesty in calling out problematic books and/or tropes. I really appreciate bloggers who aren’t afraid to share if they don’t like a book (and the reasons why).

Sparkling Letters • Puput is the Indonesian blogger behind this lovely blog. It’s another one of those elegant, well-written blogs that provide just lovely descriptive reviews. It’s clear she puts a lot of work and love into her blog posts and it shows. She took a break from blogging for a little while, but she’s back and with a really healthy outlook towards blogging that I admire. I also hearing reading about her specific perspective as a book blogger who lives on the other side of the world.

~ Personality-Based, Non-Book BlogGERs ~

I feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t share the blogs I follow that I also love and read almost every time a new post of theirs pops up in my feeds. These are not book bloggers, nor are they even known specifically for blogging. They are blogs that I love because I admire the people behind them.

Anna Saccone I discovered Anna through the SacconeJolys’ vlog channel around Fall 2013, when they had just Emilia and Eduardo and were new to England. To be honest, I found her a little cold and mean at first, but then I grew to love her and she’s like the closest thing I have to a role model in my adult life. We don’t have much in common, we don’t even really have the same tastes in fashion or style, but I actually feel like we’re closer in personality than I originally thought and admire her vulnerable side. Also, she’s the first person who ever made me think maybe I’d like to be a mom one day.

Kristina Horner Kristina is an OG YouTuber that I remember from when I was just discovering the breadth of YouTube in college (~ 2012). I’ve love going through her backlog and seeing what awesome stuff she was doing from a young age . (Oh, how I wish I had her confidence and good humor growing up!) I discovered she had a blog a couple of years ago and decided to follow it because she talks a lot more about her writing there, and we share that interest. She doesn’t vlog or blog much these days, but I’m still holding out hope she’ll find a way to come back and have fun.

Marzia Bisognin • Marzia is a Brighton-based Italian YouTube content creator who started her vlog as an alternative place to share more personal things in greater detail than she is comfortable on YouTube where she has a massive following because of her boyfriend Felix (a.k.a. PewDiePie). I love her creative projects and vlogging style. I’ve found a lot of inspiration to write creepy, strange, beautiful stories from her and be creator in a larger sense as well. She’s living the dream!

❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧

In case you missed them, this post is kind of a conclusion to the blog hopping series I did in June (see “Blog Hopping in June” and “The Follow Up to Blog Hopping in June“). I discovered a good many of these book blogs during that time and some in July that I included since it took me so long to get this post together!

I was surprised by the interest in this post, and it intimidated me for a while there. I’m glad I’ve now done it! I even think it’d be nice to do one of these at least once a year, just because I like to think that there are even more great bloggers out there that I’m not yet aware of because they’re still growing and finding their legs.

What qualities do your favorite book blogs share? Do you think you could list some of your favorite bloggers off the top of your head? 

Thank you for reading!
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