Beyond the Blurb | How the Stress of Reading Can Kill the Love of It

Happy Monday, darlings,

Since I’ve somewhat taken a short step back from the blogging scene, I noticed many bloggers struggle with reading challenges, marathons, and even book slumps. Now, until recently, I was in the latter. And it took me a while to get out of it. Since I’m out, I realize I’ve put too much pressure on myself to not only complete my Goodreads Challenge but also read quicker.

Have readers and bloggers turned reading into a sport, not kept it a cherished pasttime? I believe we have. And more of us are understanding the adverse effects of that shift.

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Beyond the Blurb | Do Bloggers Need to Use Trigger Warnings?

Morning, everyone!

Let’s talk about trigger warnings. They may be a hot topic in the book community. But they’re important to readers.

I know several people who believe they’re more politically correct. I disagree. People forget why others need them. They’re similar to the film and TV rating systems. You don’t see viewers complain about the system, now do you? Probably not. The systems help adults decide what their children should or shouldn’t watch. So why do people complain about trigger warnings?

Perhaps political correctness does come into play here. Maybe people have had enough warnings and being conscientious of other people’s thoughts or mental stability. Heaven forbid we people try to be, I don’t know, proactive to prevent a trigger. Their primary reason is to inform potential readers of subject matters that may adversely affect them. A good example is sexual assault in literature. I had a hard time finishing Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander because the assault and torture of Jamie Fraser are almost too much. I wish I had paid attention to some of the warnings, but I didn’t.

So in my next discussion post,  I want to discuss why I believe bloggers should use trigger warnings and why they’re essential to the reading experience.

 

Warning Readers Who Have Faced Abuse Can Prevent a Harmful Response

I have a hard time reading about any type of abuse in books, especially sexual. I am dealing with my past, and it’s hard enough to wade through my memories. But when a book contains a trigger, sometimes, I may remember what happened to me. Since I have PTSD, depression, and anxiety, I need to know how severe these scenes are in stories so I don’t need to add another outside force into the mix. I have my mind to do that for me.

Many other readers are dealing with the same issue. And they deserve to have some warning, even if it may have been seen as a spoiler so they can avert a potentially damaging reaction. But what is a reaction though?

Triggers aren’t simply a bad feeling from reading a scene in a book. A trigger can lead to suicidal thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares, depression, relapses, and self-harm. As a blogger, you need to realize that it’s your responsibility and job to tell readers.

 

They Help Readers Decide if They Will Either Read or Purchase a Book

I have followed trigger warnings from other bloggers when I decided on buying a book. They gave me that warning. And if I have more concern than normal, I’ll ask for more details. I appreciate that notice. Sometimes, I don’t immediately read the book I’ve recently purchased. So if I’ve waited past the return policy, I’ve wasted a lot of money when I could have spent it on another book.

 

Not Every Author or Even Publisher Will Inform Readers of Negative Topics in Books

When I first cracked open Girls of Paper and Fire, by Natasha Ngan, I let out a sigh when I saw the trigger warning in the book. I don’t see that in most books. And most of the time, I don’t see authors telling readers about anything. Now, I’m not saying I don’t see warnings from authors at all. In fact, I see them in the reverse harem community. And I love how readers and authors are informing new readers.

 

Trigger Warnings Are Personal, so You Don’t Decide Who Does or Doesn’t Need Them

Yes, when people prevent themselves from seeing/reading triggers because they have a mental illness, that action isn’t always a healthy coping mechanism. They can’t heal from their trauma when they avoid it. However, that doesn’t mean you get to decide when they process and handle their trauma. You don’t give them a deadline. They need to make that decision, not you, the author, or the publisher.

Trigger warnings will always be personal. So do not insert yourself into someone’s decision.

 

They Will Never be a Spoiler

Do you know what a spoiler is? Someone yelling “Snape kills Dumbledore!” Trigger warnings are not. At all. Get that out of your head. They warn readers. No, they do not go into detail about topics or situations in the book.

 

So what is your opinion on trigger warnings? Do you believe they’re warranted, or do you believe readers should go in blind?

Beyond the Blurb | Why We Should Defend Negative Reviews

Morning, bloggers!

Bloggers sometimes dread writing bad or low-rated reviews. Authors possibly fear them more. So why is writing them such a taboo topic? Frankly, it shouldn’t. As reviewers and bloggers, we make some unspoken promise to be honest with our readers. How can we not? But I’ve seen other bloggers face attacks for their honesty.

Jenn from Jenniely inspired me to write this post (thank you, deary!). She discussed the reasons why she doesn’t write negative reviews. And I agree with her. For my next discussion post though, I want to address why they’re important and why we should write them.

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Beyond the Blurb | Recognize and Prevent a Blogging Burnout

Happy Friday!

This summer, I will have blogged for the last three years. I never thought I’d hit this milestone. I’m far from a blogging expert. I’m still small. But I do know a few things. And I hope to pass along at least some knowledge onto new and seasoned bloggers. We bloggers need to offer support when we can. And I hope that my Beyond the Blurb posts provides that for you all. So my next topic will be all about blogging burnout.

How do you recognize a blogger burnout? Sometimes, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly. However, I’ve noticed some of these warning signs:

Lose the Spark in Blogging

You all discover that first spark of blogging, right? You’ve never taken on such a project. And you’re thrilled to start. Occasionally though, when you’ve been blogging nonstop for months or even years, that flicker may disappear. Picking up on this sign is important. If you lose that reason, then it may be hard to find it again.

 

Fall into a Blogging Slump

I’m in one right now. Or at least, I’m in a small one. No, I still love blogging. However, I find writing some post a bit difficult. But my personal life may be the reason why.

 

Ask Why You Still Want to Blog

Sure, I wanted more experience in the blogging community so I could use that for publishing internships. And yes, it helped, quite well, actually. But the thrill in blogging, the community, and the bloggers are the reasons why I’m here. I don’t want to leave. But if you can’t answer why you want to continue, then you may be heading into a burnout.

 

For the second part of my post, I want to suggest some tips to follow:

Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

For several months, I’ve been scheduling per day, and I can’t handle that anymore. Instead, I plan out my week. Which posts I want to publish, what I want to write, and when. However, schedules aren’t set in stone. If you aren’t up to working on a review, because we all know how much work we put into one, swap out that post for a discussion post, book tag, challenge, blogger award, or anything you feel up to. Don’t push yourself into keeping the schedule all the time. You have the flexibility in choosing what you want to publish and when.

And if you design your own graphics, perhaps use your weekend to create them. The weekend is also a great time to catch up on replying to comments, comment on other bloggers’ posts, and reach out to your blogger friends.

 

Find Easier Ways to Blog

I also use a simple format for all of my review posts. You don’t always need to make the most creative post either. Find a formatting layout for each post and stick with that so you aren’t spending any more time with the design part. Use shortcuts your blogging platforms offer as well.

 

Take a Break

It’s perfectly fine to walk away. Take a breather. Don’t let your blog control your every free time. Blogging is more than just a pastime. You dedicate countless hours in building a tiny creation and turn it into a brand. So don’t think it’s just a hobby. Sure, it is, but it’s more than just that though. So take a step back and see what you want to do next.

 

Have you ever had a blogging burnout? What other tips can you offer other bloggers who may be struggling with it? What works for you?

Beyond the Blurb | Dealing with the Guilt of Not Blogging

Morning, all!

I believe you all have felt the unwanted guilt of pushing your blog to the back burner. Life demands your time, it decides to throw you a plot twist, or it simply wants to implode on itself. So how can your blog take any precedence?

It can’t. Or most of time, it shouldn’t. But you’re still stuck with the guilt, you’re worrying over the low stats, and you’re demanding more of yourself. I hate this emotion. But it comes with the territory of being a consistent blogger. So how do handle it? Here are some tips that have helped me over the last few years:

Simply realize that your blog is part-time

Are you getting paid full-time for your blog? Probably not. Even with affiliate posts, you more than likely won’t make a huge profit. Your blog is your hobby. And you must remember that detail. You shouldn’t need to spend the same amount of time with your blog as you give your job.

 

Even if you don’t publish something, work on future posts

If your life wants to prevent you from blogging regularly, then wait for some free time and work on future posts. If you aren’t near your laptop/computer, then write out your posts in a notebook. If you can’t write anything down, use that voice recorder on your cellphone. It comes in handy. This way will help you achieve your weekly deadline. You know you are accomplishing something, anything. And hopefully, the guilt doesn’t rear its ugly head.

 

If you can’t post, blog hop

Let the blogging community know you are around. Even though you can’t work on your own blog, you can easily support other bloggers. Now, lately, as you may tell, I have fallen behind on this task. And I wish that I could be better with it. But reaching out to you has become difficult.

 

Offer guest posts to fill up the days you don’t produce your own work

I’ve rarely done guest posts. However, I have offered spotlights, author interviews, and other book-related posts. These kinds of posts help me put minimal work into them. So my pesky feeling doesn’t usually affect me.

 

If you still struggle to balance life and blogging, prioritize, then take a step back

Your blog isn’t a priority. Your mental wellbeing is. Yes, my life has decided to implode. I’ve been a caregiver for my Mom since I was a teenager. But when she received her diagnosis, I had to prioritize what was important to me. So my Mom, her treatments, and my mental health (even if it hasn’t decided to rip me apart right now) are pivotal to me. Blogging, even though I’ve stuck with a constant schedule, is a secondary priority.

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Blogging will and should always be a hobby for you. Don’t let it control you. Don’t let that little voice in your head demand you to work on posts that suck the life out you. When blogging has become tiring, then you need to step back. Never let it and the guilt associated with it eat away at you. I have taken time away from my blog so I can work on me. And I’m okay with that decision. And so should you.

 

What are some other tips you can give to other bloggers who struggle with the guilt of not blogging? What do you think about the ones above?

Beyond the Blurb | Act Your Age and Read YA

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that young adult readers will always be shamed. I’m not surprised that someone has decided to criticize YA readers, authors, and books.

Since I’m primarily a YA blogger, I thought I’d address this issue in the next installment of my discussion series, Beyond the Blurb. And before we get to the post, let’s give Melissa from The Reader and the Chef a round of applause for addressing this topic. A writer from Fordham Ram, Fordham University’s journal of record, suggested readers read their age. I understand the original poster is an aspiring writer, but antagonizing a potential and a powerful audience isn’t necessarily the right direction to go before starting a writing career.

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Beyond the Blurb | Why Can’t Female Villains Get Better Backstories?

Morning all,

Back in 2018, I talked about female leads deserving equal respect as their male counterparts. I loved that conversation. I opened up about an issue I witnessed while travelling through the blogosphere and Goodreads. And I saw how many female readers see the same problem. Now, I want to talk about female villains.

I love them. They give readers a new antagonist who can offer a refreshing storyline. But I often find many them with badly thought out backstories. So if our leading ladies get them, why can’t our villains receive them as well? For my next discussion, I want to talk about that question.

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Beyond the Blurb | Are Selling, Trading, and Hoarding of ARCs the Next Necessary Evil?

Morning, everyone!

Let’s say this next discussion topic, in my Beyond the Blurb series, branches off from my previous post about the blogosphere fighting over ARCs. They are a controversial topic and a problem that many bloggers, readers, and reviewers deal with.

More and more, I see international bloggers struggle to request them. Even though I am Canadian, and there are several Canadian-based publishers in the country, I may very well be overlooked by American-based ones. Either North American laws prevent them from acknowledging me, or they don’t see the point. And don’t get me started on American giveaways and pre-order contests. However, at least I have some options nationally. But many international bloggers do not.

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Beyond the Blurb | Breaking Up with a Book from Your Favourite Series

Morning, book fam!

Are you that surprised I’m going with the hard discussion topic? I’m not. Not in the slightest. Breaking up with a book is hard, painful, and often heartbreaking. It particularly hurts when the title is one of your most anticipated reads of the year. Sometimes though, you may have set your expectations high and now run into the situation where you aren’t sure if you should DNF that book or suffer.

And right now, I’m in that position. On the 13th, I first started reading King of Scars. I’ve been waiting for this book for a good year, even though, at the time, I didn’t read the Grisha Trilogy yet. And I want to scream at the book gods and demand why I’m not loving it as much as I want to. Yes, I expect this series to floor me just as Six of Crows has done. But I feel Leigh, even though she is my queen, and her books are a bit of a hit-or-miss with me. And I hate that. Hate it more than damaged books. So if you’re stuck, like me, what do you do? How do you move from the literary fork in the road? For my next discussion post, Beyond the Blurb, I’ve come up with these simple tips to live by:

 

If You’re Struggling So Much That You Can’t Focus, Put the Book Down and Move On

What’s the point in struggling? What’s the point in wasting more time on a book that doesn’t capture your attention and draw you in? You shouldn’t have to suffer just because you bought the book. You can simply DNF it.

 

If You Feel as if You’ve Invested Enough Time into the Series, Reconsider

Right now, this tip is where I go back and forth on. I’ve invested a lot of time and money in this series. I’ve purchased the merch, the special editions, and all the books. So why shouldn’t I put in the time for the next addition to this ever-growing world?

 

If You Believe You Can’t Get into the Story, Find Another One, Then Come Back

Perhaps the book isn’t the right fit for you at this time. Some books are meant to be read at the right moment. And others need to be read later on. If you hate DNFing a book, you can always come back to it when you’ve cleansed your palate.

 

If You Need a Pick-Me-Up, Read Your Favourite Genre to Get Back into the Swing of Things

Even though I love YA fantasy, which is one of my favourites, I’m digging the paranormal romance genre right now. And I feel like I need some zing in my dull reading life. Some genres are hard to get into, so always go back to the one that makes you feel happy.

 

If You Still Aren’t Sure, Ask a Reader/Blogger Friend

Friends are there for more than just talking about your favourite book boyfriend or the most hated character you want to see die. If you don’t know what you should do, ask your friends what their opinions are. Outside help is appreciated.

 

So what do you do when you contemplate breaking up with a book? What are your tips that can help readers when they’re stuck in this dreaded situation? What do you think I should do?

Beyond the Blurb | How Blogging Has Saved Me from My Mental Illnesses

Since the #BellLetsTalk campaign, which draws awareness to mental health and illness, begins today, I thought I’d talk about mine. As most of you know, I have two mental illnesses: anxiety and PTSD. I wasn’t diagnosed until last year. I always knew I had anxiety since I was young, but I never knew I had the latter.

My mental illnesses are always present in my life. Something or someone may set them off. And I withdraw from life. Now, some of my blogger friends may have realized that I haven’t been around lately. As you read my post, I will be at a local hospital, waiting for my Mom to go into surgery to remove the breast cancer the doctors have found. I wasn’t sure if I’d want to discuss something this personal on my blog, but it has become an extension of me and my life. And maybe reaching out to other people who have dealt with this situation will help.

I have withdrawn from the blogosphere. And a part of me wants to apologize and say that my anxiety keeps me away. But I feel as if that’s an excuse. So instead, for my discussion post, Beyond the Blurb, I want to talk about how book blogging has saved me from my mental illnesses. I never believed blogging would do such a thing. But here I am, marvelling at how a simple website has given me so much. So here is how:

It Gives Me a Place to Vent

With my anxiety and PTSD, I feel safer in my home, away from the people and the society that have caused me so much anger, rage, and pain. I used to love going out at night, but for years, I feared to do that alone. But now, the night is when I add another post and talk about subjects that have provided me a platform to feel as if people will hear my voice, which is often quiet and unheard.

 

It Allows Me to Reach Out into the World and to Find New People

You may not understand how every single one of my readers and the ones who have become my blogger friends and family has helped me through my dark times. Just talking to me and reaching out have done wonders for my anxiety. For years, I refused to talk about my scars because I didn’t see the point. But the past is a part of me. If I don’t acknowledge it, how can I move past it? So knowing people are there who are accepting is uplifting.

 

Even If It May Be Stressful, Blogging Releases My Built-Up Anxiety

Odd, right? How can something cause stress help relieve it? Somehow, it does the opposite of what I thought it would. Blogging shouldn’t demand all of your undivided attention. If it does, then perhaps you’re approaching it the wrong way. You call the shots. So if I don’t feel up to do a post, I don’t write one.

 

It Shows I’m Not Alone

When you feel isolated, your mental health typically takes a nosedive. We humans aren’t solitary beings. Even if we crave the wilderness and the quiet away from society, we usually find our way back. When I figured that knowledge out, this understanding is when I realized I can’t seclude myself from everyone. I can see that mental illness is shared through everyone. And I am not the only person who feels like drowning sometimes.

 

It Has Also Enabled Me to Give Support Others Who Are Struggling

I truly find one of my callings in helping people. I may be selfish, but when I offer to help another person who suffers from anything in life, I know I’ve accomplished something. I feel empowered. So the major reason why I started Beyond the Blurb was to offer support to new and seasoned bloggers who need that little nudge in the right direction.

How has blogging helped you as a person and a blogger? Has it helped or affected your mental health? Let’s chat!