2017 Resolutions, Wintersession, and New Ideas

Hi everyone! Last time I posted I was back at home, still on break, cuddling with my cat, and it was still 2016. Now, I’m back at school, just started Wintersession, and it’s 2017.

The first thing I want to talk about is my 2017 reading and blogging resolutions! I mentioned in my first post back after 6 months that I let a lot of release dates slip by me – books unread, reviews unwritten. Well, my friends, my goal for 2017 is to not let that happen again. Before I read anything else, I’m going to move through my pile of ARCs until they’re all read. I also plan to purchase the few eARCs that I’d requested and then let expire so that I can keep my promise to review them for the publishers. Since coming to college my incoming book flow has definitely slowed way down, which I think is actually a good thing. If you asked me if I could name some upcoming releases I’m excited about, I wouldn’t be able to tell you more than a couple. That’s how out of the loop I’ve been. So, considering I’m in college for another 5 months or so, the same will be true for my near future, allowing me to read what I’ve already got.

Second, you’re probably thinking, “Hey, Emily? I though college life is so busy that you don’t have time for anything but work?” Regular semesters: YES. Wintersession: NO. It’s my first Wintersession at RISD so I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect, but I can tell you after a week, it’s about a quarter of the rigor a regular semester. We only have to take one studio class, and can choose to take a liberal (I was going to take Fiction into Film, but it was later canceled, so no liberal for me). Wintersession is the time when RISD encourages freshmen to test out their future major, so I’m taking a Web Design class in the Graphic Design department! I’m so excited about what I’ll learn for so many reasons. One of them is that I’ll finally be able to design and code the blog layout of my dreams for Books & Cleverness!

So now that you know I’ve got some free time, you can expect some posts from me here in the next 5 weeks! I actually just started and finished a book yesterday! I’m planning on writing “review digest” posts, where I feature a few books that I’ve read recently and share my thoughts. I’ve been finding it extremely hard to write full-length reviews for books lately.

That’s about it! I’m so happy that I’m getting the chance to return to the book blogging world again for a short while. While I can truthfully say that I didn’t really miss it while I was engulfed in first-semester work, I can say that now that I’m back reading again I feel like my old self.

Talk to you very very soon!

xo

#Back2BasicsBlogging Chat & My 2016 Resolutions

2016 (1)

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

It’s officially January 1st, 2016. I hope you all had a happy and safe New Year’s Eve, and are ready to start the new year off right! I know I am! 2016 will be a year of lots of new things for me: I’ll be heading off to college in the fall, living away from home for the first time, and all of the new that comes with that.

As always, the new year is the time we decide to make some changes to ourselves, and our lives. For my life resolution, in case you were wondering, is to help my mom more. She’s got a lot on her plate, and I felt like in 2015 I wasn’t doing the best to help her out. She compensated for me for the things I neglected to do all the time, and now, I want to give her the chance to have a break. Especially since this is the last chunk of time that I’ll be living with her. Okay, I can’t think that far ahead yet. I’m scaring myself.

But of course, I also have some blogging and reading resolutions that I want to hold myself to this year. On Christmas Eve, Jenna @ Bookiemoji started a Twitter chat with the hashtag #Back2BasicsBlogging. I encourage you, if you’re a blogger, to click that link if you were unaware of it before now. The chat was amazing, and it was helpful for me to recognize the things about my blog and reading that I want to change this year:

  • not worry about having a posting schedule
  • incorporate posts about my life, and in turn…
  • …let my personality shine through more
  • showcase some of my artwork
  • have more thoughtful discussions
  • recognize that I may have an audience that’s not just bloggers (more on that later)
  • don’t focus on the ARCs, and lastly…
  • …make this blog more uniquely ME!

And as for my reading:

  • read those backlist books I paid good money for!
  • request fewer books
  • don’t sign up for reading challenges or read-a-thons — they never, ever, work for me
  • except for the Goodreads Reading Challenge [I plan to read 60 books this year]

There’s quite a bit for me to do this year, but I think they’re easy changes. As my life got more chaotic this year, I saw myself starting to do them already. These changes seem like they’ll make blogging feel like less of a chore, more of a hobby, like it should be! I’m all for less stress. Plus, as I mentioned, I’ll be heading to college, and who know how much time I’ll have for reading. So, I think the addition of other things (like life and posts, and more bookish discussions) will allow me to keep blogging through it all! We’ll see how the whole blogging at college thing works out later, though…

I mentioned that I want to acknowledge that I may have a readership that includes people other than just bloggers. I never really thought about that before the #Back2BasicsBlogging chat. But now that I have, I decided that this would be a great chance to ask you readers to take my blog survey. It shouldn’t take you too long, and I’m hoping this will help me get a better idea of who reads my blog, and what you love to read about from me.

If you took the time to fill that out, THANKS A TON! YOU’RE THE BEST! That’s all for me today! I hope you all have a great New Year’s Day, and a great year ahead!

xo

Books & Cleverness is 1 Today!

blogiversary celebration

Yes, you read that right! A year ago today I set up my blog and began blogging (under a different name, but only for about a month) on Tumblr. Since then, I’ve obviously switched to WordPress and renamed the blog to Books & Cleverness. I’ve gone through 2 redesigns, but I’ve stuck with this blog and design for a long while now, and I am so happy with the blog as it is now. After one year of blogging there are some things that I want to improve about the blog, and you can see those in my 2015 Blogging Resolutions post as we’re only about a month and a half into the new year. But as I said before, I’m very happy with the blog as it is and where it’s heading.

books and cleverness banner
I’ve stuck with this blog design (well theme — I tweaked it a little bit) for the longest running amount of time yet ever on the blog! Yay for that! 😀

There are some BIG thank-yous in order. To all of my wonderful followers — you’re awesome, and I love getting to chat with you in the comments and on Twitter! To all of my fellow bloggers that have welcomed me into the community or that have joined the community around the time I did — becoming friends with you through our mutual love of books and blogging has been such a delight! I hope to get to know you better in the future and become even closer. I don’t want to mention names for fear of leaving someone out but, you should have an idea of who you are! 😉 ❤

Thank you all for reading this blog, following, chatting, and just being wonderful! Cheers to many more years of blogging to come!

xo

What I Use to Make My Blog Graphics

Canva

Recently I’ve gotten some comments and compliments (thank you!) on my blog graphics and banners, and people have been wondering what site I use to make them. I wanted to share with you Canva, the website, and talk about the reasons I love it, and what it offers!

I discovered Canva right when I started blogging by Googling about free graphic design websites. I am very familiar with Adobe Photoshop from taking an advertising and graphic design course at my school, but I don’t own it for myself as it is outrageously expensive! I’m not very handy at drawing and creating art on the computer either, so premade clipart is a godsend! I’ve found Canva to be a wonderful alternative when it comes to making blog graphics. The user interface is very simplistic, and everything is so easy to use. It’s great for both experienced designers that want to make quick and easy graphics, but also newbies that have never designed before! I particularly like their Design School which offers a bunch of quick tutorials for creating graphics with Canva.

Here are a few of my favorite things that Canva offers!

  • The site gives you the opportunity to choose from preset graphic options such as  Social Media button, Facebook Covers and Posts, Instagram posts, Blog Graphics, Twitter Post, Business Cards, etc.! But you can also use custom dimensions (in pixels, millimeters, or inches) to create things like blog banners so that your graphic will fit perfectly with your site or whatever else you want to use it for!
  • There are tons of free clip art and shapes that are available for use. And if there is something you want to use that is paid, it costs only $1.00. (Every graphic that I’ve made with Canva has been all free elements or my own images, or clip art that I’ve found online for free.)
  • That brings me to another great feature: you can upload any of your own images (like vectors, pictures, etc.) to use in your projects.
  • There are so many different fonts you can use for text, and they keep adding more!
  • For those of you that don’t want to work too hard with your design: there are templates that you can use and customize to fit your needs, but you still have the basics already done for you!
  • When you’re all finished it gives you the option to download your graphic as either an image (png) or a PDF file. I’ve done both and they download just as clear and beautiful as on the site.

Those are just a few of the reasons why I LOVE Canva, but I’m sure if you check it out yourself you’ll find many more reasons to love it too!

What program or site do you use to make blog graphics?

xo

2015 Blogging Resolutions

2015 blogging resolutions

February 7th of this year was the first day that I ever started blogging. I wrote and published my first post on that day, and looking back I can happily and proudly say that I’ve improved since. So since I’ve almost been blogging for a year, I’m reflecting on my almost year of blogging just in time for New Year’s resolutions! Here are the things I hope to achieve and work at during the upcoming year of 2015!!


1. Cut back my blogging schedule, but write better quality posts.

At the moment, my current blogging schedule consists of a post every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. WHAT WAS I THINKING?! I have a real life, too! I have to have TIME to READ the books, too! I went gung-ho over the summer and for some reason thought I could keep up with that schedule. Well, obviously I can’t as you can see from the lack of posts I’ve been writing for the last few months. I’m not sure if I’ll have a blogging schedule next year or not, but I know I want to cut it down to 3 posts a week (review, meme, wrap-up/haul post), and throw in either an extra review or discussion post WHEN I HAVE TIME. Remember that little bit I wrote on my About page where I said I bite off more than I can chew? That old blog schedule was exactly that. With a smaller number of posts, I hope to be able to write better content for the posts and spend more time writing reviews!

2. Break out of the book blogging “mold”

There are SO MANY book bloggers out there. And reflecting on my blog I can honestly say that there isn’t really much that sets me apart from every other one. So next year I want to show more personality, diversify the blog, and become more unique. I’m not sure what exactly this entails (maybe more personal posts, lots more discussions, etc.) but I know that it’s a must. I want you guys to get to know me a little better!

3. Become a better commenter

I wrote a post a little while ago about how I’m a horrible commenter. Since then, I’ve caught up with all of those backlogged comments and replied to almost every one of them! But I still want to make sure that I stick to this and keep myself accountable. I am going to try and reply to the comments as they come in on my phone, and if not, then I am devoting a time of day to respond to comments. This also means I have to keep my end of the bargain commenting BACK. I have to also devote a time of day to READING other blogs and commenting on them!

4. Make blogging a part of my routine

Like I want to devote specific times to commenting and reading blogs, I also want to devote a chunk of time to writing posts and making sure they’re the best I can make them. I think this will have to be either a time during the weekend or a Friday afternoon, when I won’t have the bother of school and homework hanging over my head!

5. Let people know I blog

My parents still don’t know I have a book blog. This is mainly because I pitched the idea a few years ago when I was younger and they were against it for safety reasons. I want this to change. I want them to know I have a blog and what I do. Not only do I want to share the blog with my parents but also my friends. I’ve shown some but not all. And lastly share it with authors I meet at book events, just to start a relationship and friendship!

Those are the things I’m hoping to improve with myself and blogging next year! What resolutions are you making for blogging in 2015?

xo