Tag Archive | blogging

Haiku for you

booksyalove-blogheader-31.pngThree cheers for theme days!
Hooray for Haiku Day!

Yes, we Blogathonners love playing with that 5-7-5 syllabic pattern, especially when a poem gets us that much closer to our goal of blogging every single day of June!

Again, a blank page.
Desperation? Reflection?
Poetry saves us.

My Blogathon haikus from past years are here and here and here and even here.

Do you haiku?
**kmm

Blogging tools – accessibility edition

clipart of eye with global map by cam morris at OpenClipart.org

“Eye Can See the World” by cam morris https://openclipart.org/detail/65845/eye-can-see-the-world

Interesting – check.
Timely – yes.
Understandable to everyone – maybe?

As a blogger or website owner, whether you just dash off a quick daily note or craft a series of longer posts, do you ever think about

…readers with visual impairments being able “see” your images?

…people with color-blindness easily navigating your blog?

To help you reduce potential barriers for your readership, check out some free assessment tools and adopt simple practices for your blog.

For every image, photo, or video on your page, include an alt-text description. This allows screen readers to say aloud what it is. For instance, I use book covers from publishers in almost every BooksYALove post, so I always include alt-text like “book cover of Cool Book by Great Author published by Fancy Publisher” – which also gets picked up by search engines.

Be sure to bookmark and refer to the checklists on the Website Accessibility Project’s site so that you can institute the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines recommended changes one at a time (and monitor how they affect your site for viewers). The very first one is providing text descriptions for non-text elements.

Read a brief background on color-blindness and web design here, then use some of the free online tools listed by Sitepoint here to check your site. Good color contrast when a website is greyscaled also helps older readers better distinguish things there.

Free and easy ways to help more people read what you’ve worked so hard to write!
What accessibility tips do you recommend?
**kmm

Hello, Blogathon!

sketch of book on computer screen by boxfordlibrary on openclipart.org

image courtesy of boxfordlibrary at https://openclipart.org/detail/174651/book-on-monitor

If it’s June, then it’s time for Freelance Success/WordCount Blogathon!

I’ll be posting every day in June to build up my blogging muscles and help clear out my to-be-reviewed bookshelf. On Thursdays, I’ll highlight the new pair of free audiobooks for download, a great service of @AudiobookSYNC.

We should have some theme days (gotta do haiku and word clouds, as in years past!), and I hope to have a guest reviewer or two who’ll share their no-spoilers recommendation of outstanding young adult books that you might have missed.

If you’re interested in writing a guest post, please give me a buzz at Katy@BooksYALove.com.

Happy June and happy reading, y’all!
**kmm

Is it Blogathon yet? Blog strong – every day of June!

sketch of paper wrapped inkpen by Vinsche from OpenClipArt.org

image courtesy of Vinsche https://openclipart.org/detail/148327/paperpen

Is it June yet?
Can you haiku?
Wanna wordcloud?

Long-time BooksYALove readers (or any who show up this time of year) will recall that the WordCount Blogathon in May 2010 was the impetus for starting this book recommendation site. I set up my first Blogger site on April 30, then leapt into blogging on May 1, buoyed by how-to-do-this guidance from Michelle Rafter, some theme days to give structure to the month (31 whole days to fill!), and even guest posts.

Now, for my 6th year participating, I give big thanks in advance to Jeannie Phillips and the Freelance Success crew who are once again leading this supportive and enriching blogging experience, following Michelle’s lead.

If you want to build up your blogging muscles by posting every day of June (your choice of subject, of course), be sure to sign up by May 31 here, then reply to the email that Jeannie sends you. Also, like the 2015 Freelance Success/Wordcount Blogathon Facebook page where participants will share blog post links, find new blogs to follow, and seek guest bloggers.

It’s free!
Participants who post every day of June can win prizes!
And you’ll love the theme days, camaraderie, new followers, and sense of accomplishment that participating in this blog challenge brings.

C’mon over! Sign up here and blog along with us!

**kmm

AprilAtoZ 2015 Challenge is in the books!

graphic of April AtoZ blog challenge 2015 calendarI did it!
26 new books recommended in 26 days this April!
AprilA2Z Challenge 2015 is complete!

Was it worth all the effort? Let’s look at the numbers: Google Analytics says that my April readership was up 15% from March. Hooray! My Akismet site stats give a more detailed picture, showing a huge increase during first week of April, with lower numbers for the rest of the month, but page view total still about 20% above March 2015.

Of course, the opportunity (with deadlines!) to move 26 books from my “to be reviewed” shelf to the “y’all must read this & here’s why” files of BooksYALove is probably the main reason that I jump in to April AtoZ Challenge each year.

I might not have gotten to visit as many fellow participants’ blogs during the past month as I’ would have liked, since April also brings the Texas Library Association conference, but I will be visiting others during May and beyond because I do enjoy finding new ones to enjoy throughout the year.

A huge thank-you to the A2Z organizers who take time away from their own blogging to set up the challenge, visit participants’ blogs, retweet our #AprilA2Z tweets, and give us all a boost.

So, will I be posting 6 days a week from now on? No way! I plan to post frequently, with book birthday Tuesdays and audiobook Thursdays guaranteed, plus 1-2 more recommendations weekly.

You’ll definitely want to stay tuned to BooksYALove this summer, as SYNC and Audiofile Magazine once again will provide 2 FREE young adult audiobooks for you to download each week from May 7 through August 13. I’ll post direct links to each pair on Thursdays, starting next week; you can also sign up for reminders on the SYNC site here.

If you subscribe to BooksYALove by email or RSS feed, please do come over to the site occasionally and comment so that I know you’re out there! I don’t think that the site stats or Google stats can measure your smiles, trips to the library, or visits to your favorite bookstore resulting from my recommendations.

So many more great books coming up in the weeks and months ahead!
Let me know what you’ll be reading.
**kmm

P is photo-vigilante now herself Endangered, by Lamar Giles (book review)

book cover of Endangered by Lamar Giles published by Harper TeenClick! A compromising photo.
Click! A clever caption.
Click! Posted for all to see and mock and condemn.

Biracial ‘Panda’ makes herself unremarkable at school, submitting just-average work in digital photography class, ensuring that no one can link her to the scandalous photo-blog showing the worst sides of hypocritical students who pose as model citizens.

But someone knows that Panda is Gray Scales, and that someone has decided that mere cyberbullying isn’t enough punishment for those students at all!

This sometimes-uncomfortable look at the fine line between justice and revenge will be published on Tuesday, April 21, so ask for it at your local library or independent bookstore.
**kmm

Book info: Endangered / Lamar Giles.  Harper Teen, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher via Edelweiss/Abovethetreeline.

My book talk: Anonymously using her photo skills to expose classmates whose fine reputations belie their true bad behavior, Lauren finds herself being stalked by ‘Admirer’ who threatens to unmask the Virginia teen’s identity.

Mocked in elementary school for her appearance, Lauren was comforted by the panda stories told by her German mom and black father. But her chosen nickname of Panda stems from an attack on her reputation in early high school, which started her quest for justice through her anonymous photo-blog.

Even her best friend Ocie (nicknamed by Panda for her OCD tendencies) doesn’t know that Gray Scales is Panda; they boo the good-on-surface baddies who are exposed there and cheer for their half-black selves (Mei is half-Chinese).

When Panda’s latest post results in more than just the predatory teacher being fired – because the “Admirer” who discovered Gray Scales’ identity physically attacks the girl involved – the stakes suddenly get much, much higher.

Deleting the Gray Scales website doesn’t stop the Admirer…
Listening to the ideas of the first guy she shamed doesn’t seem so bad…
Going from overlooked at school to being held responsible for a death she didn’t instigate is awful…

When does a quest for justice become an excuse to attack? The Admirer makes sure everything is final!  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Almost AtoZ Challenge time!

logo of AprilAtoZ ChallengeAre you ready?

26 book reviews, alphabetically aligned, in 30 days!

This year’s AtoZ Challenge begins on April 1st, and I think that I’m ready…

You still have time to sign up and build your blogging muscles: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/2015/01/the-2015-to-z-challenge-list-is-open.html BooksYALove is number 507, if you’re checking.

I’ll also be digging in to the 2015 Diversity Reading Challenge – 12 book categories to stretch perceptions and horizons (listed here).

And you have till April 10 to register for the great giveaway package at DiversityInYA’s blog here – 20 winners each get 5 books from their amazing list, which includes some I’ve recommended on BooksYALove, some on my upcoming list, and some that I can’t wait to read.

See y’all on the first!
**kmm

A to Z Challenge? Why not? (you should blog all April, too)

logo of AprilAtoZ ChallengeEvery year, I wonder – should I blog AtoZ or not?

Twenty-six posts in just a month? Crazy!
Forcing my posts into alphabetical arrangement A to Z? Like a straitjacket!
Getting a couple of dozen books deserving a review off my TBR shelf and out to y’all? Priceless…

So… I said yes. And there I am as #507 on the April AtoZ Challenge sign-up list.

If you are a blogger (or want to become one), give the AtoZ Challenge a try – 26 posts on your subject of choice, going from A to Z during April (Sundays off, thankfully). You also have a ready-made list of active and interesting blogs to visit (the challenge folks suggest visiting 5 daily and leaving an encouraging comment – you may find new favorites that you want to follow long-term)

There’s a new 2015 AtoZ logo, loads of single-letter badges, banners, even a calendar to set as your desktop so you remember what letter goes on which day – all free here.

My advice after a few years of April AtoZing: Schedule posts in advance, feel free to phonetically pronounce your post title on that darn X day, and include the #AtoZChallenge hashtag and @AprilA2Z Twitter ID when you Tweet out link to your daily post.

See y’all more frequently in April! Let me know if I should be visiting your AtoZ posts then, too.
**kmm

Author, author! Meeting a favorite writer in person!

photo of Terra McVoy & Katy Manck (c)Katy Manck

Terra & Katy at Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, Georgia!

Look!
It’s her,
it’s really her!

So cool to finally meet Terra Elan McVoy in person at Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, Georgia yesterday!

Terra is a bookseller, author, and generally all-around fun gal – be sure to read her novels set in the Atlanta area: After the Kiss (an early BooksYALove recommendation), Being Friends With Boys  (my notes here), and Criminal  (my review here).

I have her most-recent book In Deep on my nightstand right now, but just cannot force myself to turn the page – I don’t want Brenn to make that bad decision!! (But Terra said that we know she’ll do it)

Have you met an author in person lately?
**kmm

DNFs, train wrecks, and award season = reviewer fatigue!

photo of sunlight through aspens (c) Katy Manck

Aspens at Grand Mesa, Colorado, Sept. 2014

Sometimes you just need to get away from it all, right?

But for this avid reader and intrepid book reviewer, the “stepping away for a little while” got a bit lengthier than planned.

A combination of factors is usually the culprit – simple burnout, outside distractions, and so forth.

But this time around, it’s been harder than normal to get back in the book recommending groove despite my best intentions.

Y’all know that I try hard to choose books outside the big bestsellers and copycat stuff for BooksYALove. But sometimes, things just don’t go the way I expect.

Like when… a book gets noticed by the big wide world before I can craft just the right no-spoilers booktalk to post = Revolution  by Deborah Wiles, a compelling novel about young people in Jim Crow days during the summer of Voting Rights activists coming to Mississippi.

Darned if those National Book Award folks wouldn’t wait till I’d finished writing my recommendation before they announced it as a 2014 finalist!  So I won’t write here about Revolution,  but will urge you to read it along with Deborah’s post on NerdyBookClub talking about how some vital things have hardly changed in Greenwood since that pivotal summer of 1964. (Luckily, I already raved here about John Corey Whaley’s Noggin  which is also a finalist)

Like when… books that sounded so good, so interesting, and so worth reading turn out to be flops. I have very wide-ranging reading tastes and am very selective about requesting review copies, so I can almost always think of someone I know who would love such-and-such book (not every book is for every reader, of course).

But a few titles in a row lately have just been flat-out duds, due to writing that needed stronger editing (no, that girl isn’t poignantly introspective; she’s a whiner) or pop references which are already dated. If I knew who’d written the jacket-flap copy on some others, I’d give them a piece of my mind as the book in my hands bore no resemblance to their description of plot, motivation, etc. Yep, I finally have some DidNotFinish titles, despite my best efforts to choose ones worth our time to read.

Like when… I just can’t turn the page because I know that a character I’ve become emotionally invested in is about to do something incredibly stupid – it’s like watching a train wreck about to happen. A couple of books are waiting on me to be ready for the inevitable outcome – great books, but I’m not yet ready to uncover my eyes and let those characters go and live with their bad decisions. I will, and y’all will get the recommendations of these books, but not right this minute.

Like when… I couldn’t get to KidLitCon blogger conference this year, so I missed my current and new Kidlitosphere friends, all the great discussions about Diversity in YAlit and Kidlit, and the refreshed attitude toward blogging that this gathering always gives me.

Like when… we really are on vacation – watching the aspens turn golden or discovering an orchard stand with heirloom apple varieties is more important than jumping into someone’s fictional world.

So… a little breather, some homemade apple pie, some visits with family and I’ll be back. My To-Be-Reviewed pile has some dandy books which will be published in winter and spring, and you won’t want to miss them!

**kmm