MY BEST BLOGGING ADVICE: LET’S HEAR IT FOR BLOGGIESTA!

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Another Bloggiesta is here, and I am addicted to this opportunity to make changes and visit other bloggers.

In April, I will have been blogging for seven years, but my first blog was pretty much dormant for the first year.  Then I met some other bloggers, and realized that a community enfolded us.  And with each new “meet,” I learned that we could help one another.

My first site was on Blogger, but in 2009, I started adding blogs here on Word Press.  Sheila, of Book Journey, had a WP site and was helpful in telling me how to do various things on my blog.  I got so excited by this new adventure, that I added way too many blogs…mostly on WP.  And then combined a few of them.  I now have eleven, and ten of them are on WP.

What advice could I give the new bloggers?

 

DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP

When I reached out to Sheila, with a question about how to do something on WP, I realized that there is no shame in asking.  And in later years, I have been able to pay it forward with other newbies.  There is a forever link when we connect and help each other.

 

FIND CONNECTIONS IN THE COMMUNITY

It begins, perhaps, when you decide to join one of the memes that proliferate on the blogosphere.  For me, it was It’s Monday, What Are You Reading, followed by Mailbox Monday.  Other memes would join the fold.

By visiting other blogs and commenting, I soon realized that people who comment back might continue to visit, and soon a conversation would flourish.  Conversations and communication are the key.

 

 

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DISCOVER YOUR OWN VOICE

As I read the blogs I visit, I realized that each blogger had a unique style, and imitating others would not work for me.  Although I did tend to develop my own style based on what resonated with me in the blogs of others.

My style is conversational, I guess.  And I love finding images to illustrate what I am saying.

I like to think I occasionally poke fun at myself, identifying myself as OCD or a little bit quirky.  That represents me, personally, and others might recognize that in themselves…or maybe find it amusing.  My Potpourri site is primarily my place for quirkiness.

 

 

 

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DETACH FROM THE DRAMA

Every now and then I read and see a link to something dramatic that is taking place somewhere on the blogosphere.  And it’s not that I am oblivious, but I don’t like to grab onto stories that may or may not be founded in fact.  Or situations that may have no relevance to me.  So…I detach.  It works for me.

 

 

 

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DON’T WORRY ABOUT NUMBERS, OR OTHER PEOPLE’S EXPERTISE

Yes, it is good to learn from others, and to discover how to enhance your presence.  So that you can maximize your own experience.  But not to compete…and let’s face it, when you blog for fun, as I do, it doesn’t do much good to compete with the experts.  LOL

 

 

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AND THAT’S ALL, FOLKS! 

Keep it real, keep it true to your own voice, and connect!

 

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What advice do you have?  What makes blogging fun for you?

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BLOGGIESTA: MARCH 23-29 – SIGN UP POST (& STARTING LINE)

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Welcome to my Sign Up Post for this week long Bloggiesta, the first ever.  March 23-29.

Since I have eleven blogs, I usually focus on only one of them.  But because this is a week long event, I will probably do some work on more than one of my sites.

Have fun, and here’s my list:

❏  write two reviews: First Review:  1) What I Remember Most, by Cathy Lamb;   Second Review: 2) Someone Is Watching, by Joy Fielding.  Done!
❏  clean up sidebars in one or two of my other blogs; cleaned up sidebar in Creative Journey; cleaned up sidebar on An Interior Journey.
❏  add a page (about me, contact, policy, etc)Page added under My Books, with Online LinksAdded an About Me page.   Done!
❏  clean up labels/tags  done!
❏  do two mini challenges; participated in Simplify Blogging Mini-Challenge; Pin Author Interviews Challenge.
 change or fix one thing on my sidebar done!
❏  deleted some of my older pages, and combined them into one – combined older bookshelves into one:   2010-2013; TWEAKED the Chat Room pages; edited the main page for Bookshelves 2010-2013

❏  change one thing on my layout and/or look – Header, Background  done!
❏  comment on other Bloggiesta partipants’ blogs-have commented on 20 blogs so far

Revised the Chat Page on my blog Creative Journey;

Created new header at Creative Journey

 

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Revised the Author Pages at An Interior Journey

Changed header on An Interior Journey; Changed header and background on Potpourri

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Make a new Blog Button  Done!

Clean up media library – Oops!  I didn’t realize that by deleting the images from the library, they would disappear from the posts!  My bad.  So some of my posts are missing their images…and because I went a little crazy, it will take too much time to put them all back.  Why did I think this was a good idea?  Epic fail!

Spent several hours fixing the blog posts, inserting some images, and deleting the “numbers” that appeared in place of the images.

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I will probably add a few more things to the list, as the week progresses.

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Here is a screen shot of the pre-bloggiesta layout

 

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REVIEW: HUSH HUSH, BY LAURA LIPPMAN

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Twelve years ago, a young mother named Melisandre Dawes locked her infant daughter in the car on a hot day. The baby’s death led to charges, but after a mistrial and then a retrial with a judge, the mother was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

After years of not seeing her older two daughters, Alanna and Ruby, now 17 and 15, Melisandre is seeking a reunion, facilitated by a filmed documentary that will capture the moment, along with her version of the story. Her story of the severe postpartum psychosis that led to the tragedy.

Harmony Burns, a young film maker, has set the process in motion.

Tess Monaghan has been hired by Melisandre’s attorney, Tyner Gray, to be in charge of security before and during filming. But nowadays, Tess is juggling work and the rearing of her three-year-old daughter Carla Scout, whom she co-parents with her partner Crow. Her insecurities about how she is managing it all add depth to the story.

But before the reunion can take place, the girls change their minds about the meeting, and suddenly other strange events happen, such as the arrival of a series of threatening notes. Both Tess and Melisandre are on the receiving end. The notes seem innocuous at first, but gradually reveal that someone is stalking them, someone who knows way too much about them.

Suddenly everything changes, as one after another near-tragedy followed by a death lead to a whole other kind of investigation for Tess. Who is the stalker, and what is behind it all? Why are Alanna and Ruby seemingly keeping secrets from the past? Who has leaked the news of the notes to the press?

Multiple narrators tell the story, set in Baltimore, and as we see it all unfold, we learn more about the characters and their motives. Melisandre is an unlikable, entitled woman whose wealth and privilege set her apart from most people in her orbit. She hires and fires willy-nilly, and expects others to jump to her every command.

Alanna is a disturbed young woman showing the effects of life’s traumas, and the secrets she keeps are dangerous ones.

Ruby is an eavesdropper who learns much of what is going on in this manner. What she does with some of her secrets brings the story to a crucial point.

Stephen Dawes, the ex-husband, has a new wife, Felicia, and a new baby, Joey. He is very controlling and secretive as well.

And almost behind the scenes in Hush Hush: A Tess Monaghan Novel, Aunt Kitty adds her own special voice.

As the story moves along at a comfortable pace, the suspense ratchets up unexpectedly, followed by a seamless, yet stunning reveal. And then comes a feel-good scenario that left me smiling. 5.0 stars.

CURL UP WITH “WHAT REMAINS”

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by A Daily Rhythm.

Today’s featured book is a memoir by Carole Radziwill:  What Remains.

 

 

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Intro: (Prologue)

Friday, July 16, 1999

Three weeks before my husband died a young couple smashed their plane into the Atlantic Ocean, off the Massachusetts shoreline, well after the mid-July sun had set.  It was reported in the news as 9:41, but I knew the general time, because I had spoken to the woman less than an hour before.  The pilot was my husband’s cousin, John Kennedy.  His wife, Carolyn Bessette, was my closest friend.  She was sitting behind him next to the only other passenger, her sister, Lauren.  A still, hot summer day had melted into a warm and sticky night.  A quiet night, unremarkable except for the fog, which rolls in and out of New England like a deep sigh.

While we were still making plans, before they took off from Caldwell, New Jersey, she called me from the plane.

“We’ll fly to the Vineyard tomorrow, after the wedding.  We can be there before dinner.”

***

Teaser:  There are three places that define my early life, and you can drive to all of them in half a day.  The city, where I live now; the Rockland County suburb where I grew up; and another small town about an hour’s drive upstate. (p. 21).

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Blurb:  What Remains is a vivid and haunting memoir about a girl from a working-class town who becomes an award-winning television producer and marries a prince, Anthony Radziwill. Carole grew up in a small suburb with a large, eccentric cast of characters. At nineteen, she struck out for New York City to find a different life. Her career at ABC News led her to the refugee camps of Cambodia, to a bunker in Tel Aviv, and to the scene of the Menendez murders. Her marriage led her into the old world of European nobility and the newer world of American aristocracy.

What Remains begins with loss and returns to loss. A small plane plunges into the ocean carrying John F. Kennedy Jr., Anthony’s cousin, and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, Carole’s closest friend. Three weeks later Anthony dies of cancer. With unflinching honesty and a journalist’s keen eye, Carole Radziwill explores the enduring ties of family, the complexities of marriage, the importance of friendship, and the challenges of self-invention. Beautifully written, What Remains “gets at the essence of what matters,” wrote Oprah Winfrey. “Friendship, compassion, destiny.”

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I have had this book for a while…and now, for some reason, it seems to be clamoring to be read.  What do you think?

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REVIEW: FEAR NOTHING, BY LISA GARDNER

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Boston, MA, Present Day: Detective D. D. Warren and associates have discovered a murder victim, a woman named Christine Ryan, and the crime scene is astonishing. Post-mortem, her skin has been shredded from her body, and apparently the killer has taken some for a collection.

Forty years ago, a serial killer named Harry Day utilized a similar signature in his killings. And although he is dead, he has left behind two daughters: Shana Day, who has been in prison for thirty years for killing a boy in the neighborhood; and Adeline Glen, a psychiatrist, who was adopted in childhood by a researcher who was open about her background.

Adeline also has a strange condition: she feels no physical pain. A condition diagnosed after her sister Shana took the scissors to her bare arms in one of their foster homes.

Back to the present, we see D. D. checking out the crime scene afterwards, in the middle of the night. And suddenly, she senses a presence…and then finds herself catapulting backward down the stairs. Her injuries are serious, including a very painful avulsion fracture, and they keep her off active duty, but after going for physical therapy and seeing a therapist for pain management, who happens to be Dr. Adeline Glen, she is eagerly helping to find the killer whom they have dubbed the Rose Killer. He/she uses chloroform to kill them, and then strips the skin. A rose and a bottle of champagne rest on the nightstand nearby.

As the killer adds more victims to his list, the detectives search out every possible suspect, narrowing the quest until it takes them back to what was happening in the neighborhood, thirty years before, trying to determine if the past is informing the present.

Narrated alternately in the third person voice of D.D. and the first person perspective of Adeline Day, we also see occasional snippets from the unknown killer, ratcheting up the suspense as we peek inside the “heads” of them all.

What are the connections between the killings today and those enacted by Harry Day? What, if anything, connects what is happening now with Shana Day’s crime? And who, among many possible suspects is “staging” these scenes, almost as if he has a grand plan of some sort? Why is any of this happening now, and does a website for serial killer memorabilia figure into the chain of events? Finally, will D. D. and her crew find him/her before he settles upon his greatest target yet?

Themes of seriously dysfunctional families, foster care, nature vs. nurture, and the prison system are predominant in Fear Nothing: A Detective D.D. Warren Novel, and remind us of the dark side of life that has only intensified with the passage of time.

I like how the author reels in the reader with the multiple perspectives, and moves the story along by building the suspense and adding new red herrings at every turn. Definitely a read for those who love psychological thrillers and this series. 5 stars.

MONTHLY WRAP-UP – FEBRUARY 2015

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February is over today!  And, like January before it, there were some good books read.  Here is what my month looked like; click the titles for the reviews.

 

FEBRUARY 2015:

1.     After the Party (e-book), by Lisa Jewell – 445 pages – (contemporary romance) – 2/18/15

2.    Copper Beach, by Jayne Ann Krentz – 324 pages – (romantic suspense/dark legacy) – 2/5/15

3.    Day We Met, The, by Rowan Coleman – 322 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 2/24/15

4.   Fangirl (e-book), by Rainbow Rowell – 438 pages – (NA/Contemporary fiction) – 2/1/15

5.    Girl on the Train, The (e-book), by Paula Hawkins – 326 pages – (psychological thriller) – 2/7/15

6.     Nell (e-book), by Nancy Thayer – 386 pages – (women’s fiction) – 2/14/15

7.    One Plus One (e-book), by JoJo Moyes – 369 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 2/11/15

8.    Second Life, by S. J. Watson – 415 pages – (psychological thriller) – 2/25/15

9.    Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes, The (e-book), by Diane Chamberlain – 490 pages – (historical/contemporary fiction) – 2/9/15

10.  Three Days to Forever, by Lauren Carr – 461 pages – (murder mystery/political thriller) – 2/16/15

11.    Victims, by Jonathan Kellerman – 419 pages  – (mystery) – 2/3/15

12.  Way Life Should Be, The, (e-book), by Christina Baker Kline – 261 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 2/27/15

13. Wednesday Group, The, by Sylvia True – 278 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 2/6/15

14.  What the Dead Know (e-book), by Laura Lippman – 370 pages – (suspense/murder mystery) – 2/22/15

15.  You Can Trust Me, by Sophie McKenzie – 326 pages – (thriller/murder mystery) – 2/20/15

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BOOKS READ IN FEBRUARY 2015 –   15

PAGES READ IN FEBRUARY 2015 –   5,630

BOOKS READ YTD:                              31

FAVORITE FICTION READ: The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes, by Diane Chamberlain

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What did your month bring?  Any favorite books?

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REVIEW: THE WAY LIFE SHOULD BE, BY CHRISTINA BAKER KLINE

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Angela Russo is searching. Living alone in a Manhattan apartment, but drawn repeatedly back to her grandmother’s kitchen in Nutley, New Jersey, where she has learned how to cook the Italian dishes from her grandmother’s hometown in Italy, she hopes to someday have her own home, her own kitchen.

As an event planner, she has a career of sorts; one she fell into. So perhaps she shouldn’t have been surprised when an error derails that career, and leaves her sorting through options.

So at this particular time, she grabs for what she imagines is a soul mate, a man she met online and who runs a fishing boat on an island in Maine, Mount Desert Island. Driving north to find the life she had dreamed about, she is stunned to discover, after only a couple of weeks, that the man she thought was her soul mate is a player, and has been connecting online with many other women.

But she loves Maine. So she moves into a little cabin nearby and starts to live off of her savings. A friend, Flynn, who runs the local coffee house becomes a guide…even a mentor, and soon Angela is giving cooking classes and dreaming of opening a restaurant.

The Way Life Should Be is an inspirational story of going for the gusto. Starting over. And reinventing oneself. Colorful characters inhabit Angela’s new life and make it possible for her to carve out some new dreams. And as the characters, her new friends in Maine, bond over the classes, sharing their hopes and dreams as they tell their stories, she is reminded of a truth she has known:

“These are the chronicles of legend, the tales we tell over and over, the stories that remind us we are not alone.”

Will she find her dream? Can she connect with someone whose stories will mesh with hers? Is Maine where it will happen?

I enjoyed the colorful and sometimes quirky characters, the settings that came alive for me, and at the end of the book is a section of recipes like those Angela taught to her cooking class; the ones she learned from Nonna. A delightful and feel-good story that earned 4 stars.