5 Ways to Reach Your Reading Goals in 2019

Tis the season to talk about goals–how to set and achieve them. If you have one or two (or ten) goals focused on reading this year, here are five of my best tips, tricks, and tools to make the most out of your reading life in 2019.

  1. Utilize free or inexpensive sources for obtaining books. This is my favorite tip for readers because it removes the restrictions a lack of money places on readers. Utilizing your local public library, little free libraries, and low cost book buying options like Friends of the Library allows you to make more daring choices, get more books at once, and browse without fear of busting your budget. There are also free and low priced eBooks available on Amazon and through Wal-Mart’s eBook distributor, Kobo.
  2. Challenge yourself with reading challenges. Whether you want to read more, wider, in community, or what you already own (and STILL haven’t read *sigh*), a reading challenge might help you reach your goal this year. There are several reading challenges out there to choose from, including #theunreadshelfproject2019 Challenge, the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge, the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge, and a numbers-based challenge like the Goodreads. You can also join a subscription service like OwlCrate (YA books) or Book of the Month, or an online book club like Well Read Black Girl
  3. Develop a group of trusted review sources. A list of reviewers you trust will help you determine whether a book is for you right now. This will reduce the number of books you slog through or set aside. Find readers with similar tastes and search their feeds for book reviews or where they get their recommendations. Follow people with great taste wherever they post about books they love–Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest, their website, etc. “Official” reviewers like Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus Reviews or lists in Entertainment Weekly, Essence, or other publications are also good resources.
  4. Create a habit or routine around your goal.  Schedule reading time. Take books with you to take advantage of wait times. Leave your current read on your nightstand or wherever you read. Participate in #readawholebooksunday. Do something to make reading a part of your routine, and you’ll be more likely to show up and READ.
  5. Get better book recommendations. The best way to reach your reading goals is to read better books. If you don’t choose books you want to read, no schedule, challenge, or price is going to help you. One way you can find good book recommendations is through sites like By Her Shelf. By Her Shelf showcases romance, YA, historical, literary fiction, memoir, poetry, thriller, horror, magical realism, suspense, self-help, contemporary fiction, non-fiction, and Christian non-fiction books. You can also find great recommendations on Modern Mrs. Darcy or genre specific sites. Another great resource for book recommendations is podcasts. Here at By Her Shelf, we’re big fans of What Should I Read Next, First Draft, DIY MFA, and The Librarian is In, along with podcasts that interview authors like The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey and That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!: I’m pleased to announce By Her Shelf with Erica D. Hearns is LIVE on Apple Podcasts and Messy.fm! BHS will be on other apps/sites soon. When I posted about buying a microphone in early November, I never imagined I would have recorded 16 interviews and launched with 3 live episodes less than three months later. For show notes, upcoming guests, featured books, and other exclusive content, subscribe to our weekly Shelf Talk newsletter here. Show notes can also be found by searching the podcast category of the blog.

I’m still scheduling future guests. If you’d like to discuss the books you read, write, or help produce, I’d love to host you! Simply fill out the form here.

Your Turn: What are you reading goals for 2019? How can By Her Shelf help you reach those goals?

Reading Wrap-Up (2018)

book sunglasses old nostalgic
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ve always considered myself to be a rather voracious reader. A devourer of books, if you will. It’s never been unusual for me to read several books a week, to plow through them and then eagerly pick up the next one. I’ve read well over a hundred books a year in the past.

I’m sad to say that 2018 was not that year for me.

Well, what happened? Did I not read at all? Did I abandon books altogether? Did I just not find anything interesting to read? It’s actually none of the above.

I read quite a few books this year, but I didn’t track a single one. I usually keep a running list of books I’ve read and how I’d rate them through the GoodReads Challenge. This year, though, I never made the commitment. So there was no way for me to see if I reached some magical number of books. Or to examine what genre I read from the most. But, I’m not unhappy about it.

What I did read this year was done for the simple pleasure of reading. If I wanted to read a historical romance novel, I read one. If I wanted to read something contemporary, I read one. If I wanted to get lost in a bit of strange poetry, I read those, too. For the first time in a long time, I allowed the books to speak to me. I reached for what I felt like in the moment and if I wasn’t enjoying a book I just put it down for another time. No judgment. No guilt. I didn’t read anything heavy or groundbreaking to my views of the world. I didn’t grab much from the ‘hot off the presses’ section of any bookstore or library. But, I sure did enjoy some happily ever after stories, a few books that made me giggle, some crazy books with my children while snuggled on the couch, and at least one book that made every other craft book about writing look childish in comparison.

 

It wasn’t a stellar year for reading by some standards, but it was a good reading year for me. And, frankly, it was just what I needed.

So, what about 2019? Is it time to set a goal? Maybe so, but the last thing I ever want is for reading to feel like a job. So instead of giving myself a bookish number to reach or a specific goal to achieve, I’m simply going to challenge myself to this:

Read something new…

A new genre. A new author. A new series.

And when I come back at the end of 2019, I’ll be happy to share what newness I found in the literary world.

 

 

Author Interview: Jill Lynn, Author of The Rancher’s Unexpected Baby

Happy Tuesday, Shelfies! Today, I’ve invited contemporary inspirational romance author Jill Lynn to By Her Shelf to talk about her upcoming release, The Rancher’s Unexpected Baby. Grab your coffee (or tea, or beverage of choice) and get to know Jill By Her Shelf!

The Rancher's Unexpected Baby Cover (lower res)
What’s the elevator pitch (short summary) of The Rancher’s Unexpected Baby?

From the back cover:
After his marriage ended, Gage Frasier vowed he’d never remarry or have children—but now he’s guardian of an orphaned baby boy. Thankfully, his friend’s sweet sister, Emma Wilder, offers to nanny while Gage seeks a more suitable family for the child. But soon Gage finds himself bonding with his new son…and with Emma. Parenthood surprised Gage, but will love sneak up on him, too?
The Rancher’s Unexpected Baby is book two in the Colorado Grooms series. How did you come up with the concept for this series, and how many more books can readers expect as of now?

Goodness, I wish I knew better where my ideas come from. 😊 I’m a day dreamer, and I pretty much constantly have book ideas floating through my head. I loved the idea of a guest ranch setting, so the series idea came from that. Each of the Wilder siblings needed their own story, and Emma Wilder and Gage Frasier were the perfect opposites. He’s wounded and she’s giving. He’s lost his faith and she has enough for the both of them. Between the two of them, I hoped for healing and growth and a new future that surpassed what either of them had expected.

Currently there’s three books in the series for the three Wilders. We’ll see if anything else comes of the town of Westbend in the future…

He bought me books quote TRUB

Where did you get the inspiration for your hero and heroine, Gage Frasier and Emma Wilder?
Emma is so sacrificial, and I am not. So definitely not from me. 😉 I wanted to represent a woman who’s always done everything for others…and eventually has to take care of herself and stand up for herself.

Gage was inspired by the idea of a man who’d been through a disastrous marriage. Someone who no longer had faith in relationships. Can God show up even in the roughest of ruins?

What interesting fact(s) did you learn while researching The Rancher’s Unexpected Baby?

After drafting book one, I visited Lost Valley Guest Ranch. Gorgeous place and wonderful people. I learned that they constantly have guests in the summer. Guests leave on Saturday, the staff does the turnover, and the new guests also arrive on Saturday. I’d already written my series as guests leaving Saturday with new guests arriving Sunday (and it fit my storylines) so I left it. But man, do they work hard!

What can you share about upcoming releases?
The third book in the Colorado Grooms series will release in September 2019. It’s currently being titled, and I’m excited to share that news with my readers soon.

Boots quote Emma TRUB

Reading Questions

Lightning round
-print, eBook, or audiobook?
Print is my first choice. I like to read in the bath, so if it’s a library book, I’ll choose an ebook so that I’m not ruining it with any water. And I prefer audiobook for non-fiction. 😊

-Buy or borrow from library?
Both! If it’s an author I know I’ll read again, then I’ll purchase the book. But I read so much that I definitely take advantage of the library. We’re huge library fans at our house—and we go often. Especially in the summer.

-bookmark, dog ear, random paper or other to hold your place?
I would never dog ear, but I rarely have a bookmark nearby, so I’ll use whatever I can get my hands on for a bookmark.

-write/highlight in a book, or leave it pristine?
For non-fiction, I definitely underline or highlight. I don’t think I’ve ever done that with fiction!

-worst reading habit?
Not hearing anyone around me when I’m reading. It drives my husband crazy! I tune the world out.

All wrong for her quote TRUB

What book made you fall in love with or reignited your love of reading?
I can’t remember a specific book as a child, but I do remember books in general. I read the Babysitter’s club series, the Nancy Drew Series. I even dipped into the Hardy Boys once Nancy ran out. I read the Little Women series numerous times. I would come home from the library with so many books. I just loved to read.

What book might people be surprised to find on your shelf?
I struggled with flying for a while, so I have a non-fiction book called Soar that was written by a pilot. An interesting and knowledgeable book.

What are you currently reading?
Cold Case Christmas by my dear friend Jessica Patch.

What book is currently on top of your TBR pile?
Didn’t See it Coming (non-fiction).

Upcoming releases you can’t wait to read.
Becky Wade’s Sweet on You.
Denise Hunter’s Summer by the Tides.
Lee Tobin McClain’s Low Country Hero.

JL Headshot (2)Jill Lynn is an author of small-town romances filled with faith, humor and happily ever after. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Bethel University and lives near the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her husband and two children. Jill loves to connect with readers on social media or at Jill-Lynn.com. Follow Jill on Facebook or Instagram.
Current Giveaway & Newsletter: http://jill-lynn.com/news/

How Do You Measure of a Year? In Books, Of Course!

The last few days while everyone else was sharing their reflections on their year in reading, I was scrambling to complete my Goodreads goal and editing podcast episodes (*cue confetti* *have a nap waiting in the wings*). I don’t like to review a year until I’m in the new year, anyway.

As you’ll see in my stats, my reading for the challenge was heavily weighted one way. While I enjoyed the books I read and look forward to reading more of the same in 2019, I want to make sure I read more of other genres I love this year. I’ll share my new reading goals in a separate post. On the positive side, I upped the number of books I wanted to read in 2018 by 15 books, and I met my goal! Without further ado, here’s my year in books *:

Books read: 65

Library books finished: 3

Read What You Own Books (that I know I owned before 2018): 6

Review/Launch Team Books: 7

Fiction: 58

Non-Fiction: 7

Romance: 54

-Romantic Suspense: 14

-Contemporary Romance: 38

-Historical Romance: 2

Non-Romantic Fiction: 4

Memoir/Autobiography: 6

These stats provide a good snapshot of my year, but for a more accurate picture, I wanted to spotlight some notable books.My affiliate links are included.

First book finished*: The Trophy Husband by Lynne Graham
This was a quick, fun read that reeked of 90’s romance tropes. If you can appreciate it for what it is–trope soup, limited POV, and 90s level of understanding of masculinity/femininity/happily ever after–it’s a fast and funny book.

Last book read: Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston

I really ended the year on a high note. I LOVED this book! This book combines many elements of my favorite reads: Zora Neale Hurston; Anthropological/Ethnographical study; a personal story told in the subject’s voice; a snapshot of an interesting time in history, etc. This story is an important one, and I’m thankful it has finally been published and disseminated.

Better Than Expected: Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

This book had some pretty harsh reviews, but I like Anne Tyler and retellings of classics are some of my favorite stories, so I decided to give this one a try. If you’re a fan of Taming of the Shrew or Ten Things I Hate About You, you might like this retelling set between academia and daycare.

FOMO Reads of 2018: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

I heard these two books recommended several times on What Should I Read Next. I caved to FOMO and read both, and I’m glad I did! Both of these books lived up to the hype. Eleanor is funny and endearing, and Maggie O’Farrell’s memoir is gripping and reflective in an engaging way. I highly recommend both.

Best Book for Book Lovers: I’d Rather be Reading by Anne Bogel

If you love all things books and reading, you must read this book! Anne beautifully portrays many of the joys and dilemmas of the reading life. This book is a beautiful celebration of all the things I love about literature.

Series I enjoyed this year:

The Precinct Series by Julie Miller

I read many books in this series in 2016, but I read the backlist and became current on this series in 2018. If you love romantic suspense, seeing your favorite characters in several different books, mini-series within a larger series, and heroes/heroines with real world conflicts and complications, then I highly recommend this series.

Mirror Lake Series by Kathryn Springer
This inspirational romance series was wonderful. The characters were realistic and made me root for them. Springer made the town and its inhabitants come alive, and the conflicts were just as realistic. If you’re a fan of inspirational romances set in a small close knit town involving a core group of characters, then give this six book series a try.
Get in My Kindle picks I’ve Read: Butterface by Avery Flynn and I’d Rather be Reading by Anne Bogel (I also listened to the audiobook of Remember God by Annie F. Downs, but I’m not counting this as I plan to read the physical copy)


I’ve read a few of Avery Flynn’s other books, and Butterface had the humor and heart I’ve come to expect from her. If you like hot romantic comedies (and the heat level is pretty high on this one), you might like this first book in The Hartigans series. Book two, Muffin Top, is also out now, and book three, Tomboy, will release February 18, 2019.

The books I’m Most Looking Forward to in 2019:

Inheritance by Dani Shapiro
You can read my post on this book here.
The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman
Read my reasons for looking forward to this The Next Right Thing here.

MY BOOK!!!!!
121418_SS Front CoverI’ve been holding this news in for months! If you’re an email subscriber, you might have heard about this book already, but I wanted to officially announce it to my By Her Shelf readers. The Speaking Season: Poems and Pieces, my first poetry collection, will be releasing this month! If you’re a fan of poetry, this book is a must have for your collection. More details to come soon!

*Note: I don’t track my progress/read status for every book I read through Goodreads. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I don’t want to share what I’m reading. This post was created using my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge statistics. It’s by no means definitive, but it’s mostly accurate.

End of Year Wrap Up

Happy Holidays, Shelfies! I hope everyone has been enjoying this season with their families, friends, or adventuring on their own, both through books and in “real life.” Today is the first year end review wrap up post. Up first is contributor Alex of Catfairy Books sharing what she’s read and loved in 2018, and what her goals are for her reading life in 2019. 

Life Update…
I know that this is so typical to say but my mind cannot FATHOM that 2018 is already coming to a close! I would say that 2018 brought so many changes in my life! I started a new grade level (I am an elementary teacher for those of you that don’t know.) and I started working as a college adjunct which was scary for me at the time!

And I have actually managed to write 13,000 words to my novel! This is a huge accomplishment for me since I have been ignoring my WIP for about two to three years now! I am excited to say that it is a YA magical realism novel with latinx rep. My excitement for this novel has no words because I finally feel like I have figured out the missing piece to the puzzle to bring my novel into workable fruition!

Number of Books Read
I have read 33 books this year so far! This has been the year of audiobooks for me! I have gone through sooooo many books due to the fact that I have been consuming most of them through audio. The number of books that I have read through audiobook is 20 books out of the 33 I have read in total! Out of those 20 books that I have listened to there are some that I have combined with reading the physical book as well. Children of Blood and Bone was one book where I actually needed to read the physical book because it’s typically hard for me to digest fantasy books. Although I still combined COBAB through physical and audio due to lack of time and the fact that I was a few weeks away from meeting her in person! EEEK! For those of you that are reluctant to audiobooks, I urge you to give it a try! They are so many books out there now with some AMAZING narration that can just bring the book to life sometimes more than actually reading it physically! Sometimes books have music and different voices! The best audiobooks I have read are definitely the Harry Potter ones! Jim Dale is the king when it comes to narration!

My Year of Books for 2018
My goal for 2018 was rolling along rather nicely due to transitioning to mostly audiobooks with my busy schedule and then October happened! The month of October was pure INSANITY FOR ME! Along with teaching full time, being a college adjunct, I also enrolled myself for an all-day workshop for three Saturdays in order to have an intern for the new school year! The month of October was the hardest month for me and October is my favorite month of the whole year! So it was a major bummer because I am the queen of Halloween and I always look forward to all things spooky!

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via GIPHY

Then came November and November was the time for NaNoWriMo which was just another disaster. I was focusing on my WIP and I DNFed so many books that month it’s not even funny!

Although…there are still 11 days away and I am currently listening to The Afterlife of Holly Black and plan to finish a Hallmark fluffy romance. And I plan to add in some poetry and picture books to my list because that counts as reading too! (First-grade teacher life…don’t judge.) So your girl is going to have 50 books achieved before the year is over!

Goals for Next Year 2019
My goal for next year is to read the same amount of books that I always pledge to read every year which is 50 books! I wanted to increase to 60 books but I am honestly not focused on reading challenges as much. My main reading challenge is to push myself to read more recently released books more than backlisted books. I am the queen of backlisted books and I can never get caught up to the recently released books! Also, I want to continue to read more diverse books since I have read some amazing ones like The Poet X, Analee, in Real Life, and The Hate U Give. And I want to read more books on Netgalley since I have never really given Netgalley a real chance and it would be great to reach out to publishers more for recently released books.

Book reviews have also been a challenge for me this year and my goal is to write at least two book reviews a month. One of my favorite things to write is book reviews and I make my book reviews extremely interactive and over the top with book playlists, book castings, pop culture references, and gifs. I love writing book reviews and delving really deep into the review but it typically takes me about two days to finish a book review. I want to put an end to pressuring myself to always write one book review a week because it’s just not realistic to my life frankly.

The year 2019 is going to be the year where I am going to focus more on the essentials and not add unnecessary stress to my plate if it’s not serving me. I have even finally figured out ways to simplify my blogging schedule and plan to schedule in three posts a week instead of five posts a week which wasn’t working out for me. I am not setting my blog posts to specific days anymore because it just adds too much pressure for me.

BookTube and book blogs have added so much unnecessary pressure to my reading like never before and this is the year where I am tired of comparing myself to other people. Compared to many people in the world reading 30 something books is quite an accomplishment and for the first time in a few years, I am finally ok with that! Let’s take away the stress of reading and start to just enjoy the act of reading for 2019!

You Oughta Know: We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights by Adam Winkler

Happy Monday, Shelfies! I hope you had a great weekend. Mine included recording my second podcast interview, a writer’s meetup, and a Christmas party. Despite all the toing and froing, I managed to read two books this weekend (more reviews coming soon)! Today, I wanted to tell you about one more book from the Miami Book Fair’s National Book Award Finalists in Non-Fiction panel. It’s another surprising pick from me (all the Miami Book Fair books are).

Did you know that American businesses have nearly all the same civil rights as AmericanWe the Corporations citizens? I didn’t before I attended a panel featuring the National Book Award Finalists in Non-Fiction at the Miami Book Fair. Author Adam Winkler (no relations to Henry Winkler) shared some interesting and alarming facts about what he describes as “the most successful but least well-known ‘civil rights movement’ in American History.” For example, did you know the first Supreme Court case on the rights of corporations was decided before the Dredd Scott Case? Did you know the court ruled that a corporation was a citizen and could exercise the rights of a citizen over a half century before African Americans and women were able to get such issues before the Supreme court (and even longer before they received the same protections and provisions)?

In his book, Winkler explores how corporations have used some of the strategies of other civil rights movements to reshape the law, namely through the courts. While I’m not usually one to read a lot of history, political or governmental, the things I learned in the short time Adam spoke on the panel fascinated me. My purse said “no” to buying this book after the session, but I have it on my list of books to read in 2019 as both a book to expand my reading palate but a source of random trivia to pull out at parties (you’re welcome!).

Your Turn: What’s the best piece of trivia you learned while reading a book? Share what book it’s from if you remember.

Author Interview: Kelsey Baldwin, Author of Strong Girl, Brave Girl

Happy Friday, Shelfies! Today, I invited author Kelsey Baldwin to By Her Shelf to talk about her book, Strong Girl, Brave Girl: A Single Mother’s Candid Story of Reconciling a Life Unexpected and Navigating the Messy In-Between. Grab your morning cup of coffee (or tea, or beverage of choice), and get to know Kelsey By Her Shelf!

KelseyBaldwinHeadshot2

What’s the elevator pitch (short summary) for Strong Girl, Brave Girl?
SGBG is about my journey as a single mother, going through a pregnancy and divorce at the same time, and how I’ve reconciled a life that looks completely different than I ever expected since then. It covers a wide range of life changes beyond divorce including dating after divorce, moving to a new city (twice!), giving birth, and becoming a mother without a partner.

Why was it important to you to tell this story? Who is it written for?
The more I shared about my story on my blog in the years before writing the book, the more I knew a book was on the horizon. I’ve always loved writing and always wanted to write a book. Once I saw how my story was inspiring + encouraging people, I felt like I couldn’t not write it! I also wrote it a lot for myself to work through a lot of the seasons I’ve been through (writing is like therapy to me!), and I wrote it for my daughter to read someday to see that her family might be really different than the others around her, but she has extra people who love her and parents who aren’t perfect. And hopefully she can find some encouragement in that.

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Why did you decide to write Strong Girl, Brave Girl, when you were, as you say, still in the middle of this story?
I decided to tell this story candidly, from the middle of my mess, not from the end with a wrapped up bow and rose-colored glasses. When I’m going through difficult seasons, the most helpful conversations were with women who were going through something similar. They were struggling with the same things I was, and they didn’t have it all figured out either. I wanted to be that for other women, because the middle of our stories is where we connect with each other.

How did you make time to write this story while running Paper & Oats and raising a human?
I gave myself plenty of time to write, and worked it into my calendar during a slower season for my business. I wrote mostly at night after my daughter went to bed, that’s when I feel my most creative!

Why did you choose the publishing route you took, and how has it changed your perspective on books?
I didn’t know anything about traditional publishing except that it takes a LONG time to get a publisher to say yes, and then it takes a LONG time to get it released after that. I didn’t want to drag this out forever, and I really wanted to write it on my terms and my timeline. As a former book designer, I knew the design side of things very well (which is a hang up for a lot of self-published authors), which helped make it an easy decision, too. Plus, having an existing audience who was interested in my story gave me a good head start for marketing. Someday I’d like to pursue traditional publishing, but for this very personal book, I knew self-publishing was the right choice to start.

Do you plan to release another book in the future?
Yes! I’d love to write more books! Not sure what they’ll be about, but I really loved the entire process, so I’ll for sure be doing more.

Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
My website — www.paperandoats.com — has all my current projects, teaching, articles, and more about my business. I also hang out on Instagram a lot, so you can follow @paperandoats for some good behind-the-scenes stuff.

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Reading Questions
What book made you fall in love with or reignited your love of reading?
“Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott. I really love all things Anne Lamott — her writing and her teaching on writing was a huge inspiration for me writing my book. It’s effortless, not dramatic, but it sounds like you’re sitting across the table from her.

What book might people be surprised to find on your shelf?
I have a couple books about the LGBTQ community that I got when my brother came out as gay a few years ago. They definitely helped me understand him better and get a picture of what it’s like to be gay in middle America.

What are your ideal reading conditions?
Quiet, in bed or on the couch, fireplace going, warm drink in hand, low lights 🙂

What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading “Finding God in The Waves” by Mike McHargue and “It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too)” by Nora McInerny.

What book is currently on top of your TBR pile?
Anne Lamott’s new book, of course — “Almost Everything” 🙂

What book are you most looking forward to (not yet released)?
I’m really looking forward to Nora McInerny’s new book “No Happy Endings” — how she writes about her story is super inspiring to me!

Lightning Round
Print, eBook, or audiobook?
Print all the way!

Buy or Borrow from library?
Buy — I can’t finish a book before it’s due back to the library, haha!

Bookmark, dog ear, or scrap paper to hold your place?
Scrap paper — usually a little scribble from my daughter or a plane ticket.

Write/highlight in book or leave it pristine?
Maaaaybe write in pencil, but not usually. I like to loan out books, so notes feel too personal to me.

Worst book habit?
Not finishing them in a timely manner! I either finish a book within a couple days, or it takes me months and months, haha!
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KelseyBaldwinHeadshot3Kelsey Baldwin is an author, designer, and entrepreneur. She runs Paper + Oats, an online blog and resource for creative entrepreneurs looking to do business on their own terms. She helps fellow creatives organize, design, and market their digital products, so they can share what they know, and look good doing it. As a single mother, she is also an advocate for women learning to sustain themselves and gain independence through online business. Her first book – Strong Girl, Brave Girl – chronicles her journey through divorce while being pregnant, and is now available on Amazon. She lives in Missouri with her daughter and dog, forever in search of their next ice cream cone.

 

You Oughta Know: That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger

Happy Friday Eve, Shelfies! Today I’m featuring another book I discovered at the Miami Book Fair (was this a fruitful event or what? My TBR pile is crying for mercy!), this time a Young Adult book. Like the others, I’d never heard of it before I stepped foot on Miami Dade College’s campus for this event. This book comes with a trigger warning for all my Highly Sensitive People (HSPs). 

During my time at the Miami Book Fair, I got the opportunity to catch up with my friend and By Her Shelf Contributor Alex, who lives and teaches in Miami. Alex was there with her book club, who had researched and planned for the fair down to bringing a rolling suitcase full of books to be signed by their favorite authors. Their primary focus was YA panels/authors, so I saw Alex in passing, but we did meet up and go to one panel together: Truth in Troubled Times: YA Heroes Speak Up. Kody Keplinger, author of That’s Not What Happened was on this panel. Alex and I were a little late, but the portion of the discussion I caught piqued my interest in Kody’s book.

That's Not What Happened

That’s Not What Happened is set three years after a school shooting. One of the shooting victims, Sarah, has become a martyr, as everyone knows she died proclaiming her faith. Or do they? Sarah’s best friend, who was there when she died, claims this isn’t true. The best friend struggles with her desire to tell the truth in the face of the potential consequences.

I’m adamant about one thing when it comes to reading: if a book has an intriguing premise, I pay little to no attention to the genre. This book’s premise definitely hooked me. When Columbine happened in 1999, I was week’s away from my last summer vacation before I started high school. I vividly remember the news reports Surrounding the shooting. Americans weren’t used to mass shootings at schools. We weren’t in danger of becoming desensitized to this level of violence.

I was one of those teens who bought a copy of She Said Yes: The Unlikely Marytrdom of Cassie Bernall. Bernall was one of the victims in the Columbine shooting who early reports claimed was killed after responding “yes” to one of the shooters when asked if she believed in God. The book was written by her mother, Misty Bernall. Cassie’s friend, who was next to her when she was shot, told a different story.

It’s clear the seed of the idea for the plot of this book came from Columbine, but according to what I gleaned from Keplinger’s comments during the panel, her book is more concerned with how the media covers tragedy, creates “inspiration porn” from survivors stories, and most importantly, how the stories of those involved in these tragedies get distorted in that lens. It’s also about having the courage to speak up. This book was written before the Parkland tragedy, but Keplinger said she was amazed by the way many of those students have stood up and used their voices in the wake of the tragedy. I’m sure my experience of Columbine when I was in the age group of the victims, and more recent school shootings will influence my reading of this book. It will be interesting to see the differences in how Columbine was handled versus how the events of this book are handled 17 or 18 years later in a very different America.

If an examination of what happens in the aftermath of a mass shooting tragedy, the struggle of a teenager trying to speak up and tell the truth when others would prefer she didn’t, or an examination of how our current culture packages tragedy for distribution sounds like something you’d be interested in, then you might want to give That’s Not What Happened a try.

Your Turn: Are you a Highly Sensitive Person? How does this effect your reading life? What iconic event in your lifetime impacts how you view fiction on a related subject?

Note: There could be things I’m not remembering about this book that could be a trigger or turn off for some readers. I haven’t had a chance to read this one myself or spend time discussing it with the author, and when it comes to books, I’m usually OK with material that would be triggering to others, so I can’t guarantee I did the best job identifying the major ones.

Another Small Step and Giant Leap: Podcast Update

Happy Hump Day, Shelfies! Tomorrow, I’ll return to books I discovered during the Miami Book Fair, this time with a Young Adult (YA) selection from a panel. Today, I wanted to update everyone on the By Her Shelf Podcast. So much has happened since I announced my idea to start a podcast 40ish days ago. If you’re interested in how the podcast sausage is made, keep reading. 

On November 2, 2018, I announced I had taken the first step to creating and launching the By Her Shelf Podcast (read all about it here). What happened after I bought the microphone? SO. MANY. THINGS! If you’re thinking of starting your own podcast, here’s what I’ve done to move toward my goal, and what I have left to do.

  • I emailed people I know/have worked with to be potential guests first. Starting with people I knew who were very likely to say yes was a great confidence booster and guaranteed I had at least a few guests. I also made sure to email one person who was a target guest, someone I knew online and occasionally interact with, but who wasn’t guaranteed a yes from. I’ll try a reach guest (or dream guest) once I have more episodes under my belt. I can share more about the content of this email with those who want to know.
  • I signed up for Zoom. I needed to find a good platform to record interviews with people who aren’t in my area. Some people suggested Skype, but through research I found Zoom was easy for me and guests to use and free for what I need it for.
  • I scheduled interviews with those who agreed to be on the show. 
  • I emailed the scheduled guest a Guest Prep Email. I emailed my guest an email before their scheduled show with a brief summary of the show’s premise, preliminary questions (things I like to know about guests before I interview them), questions they might want to think about and prepare an answer for in advance, and a list of things I need from them for promo (bio, picture, etc.). I can also share more about this if anyone is interested.
  • I tested my software, equipment, and “show flow.” Fellow BHS contributor Christina and I recorded a test episode to get rid of some of the butterflies and plan for some worst case scenarios (my enneagram 6 is showing, lol).
  • I researched and found possible theme music. 
  • I researched my guest. I checked her social media, website, books, and etc.
  • I prepared a one page cliff note for the interview. This page included the guest’s bio, questions to ask, and useful bits of information that I can use to follow a line of discussion.
  • I spoke with my guest for a few minutes before hitting record. Although I follow her on social media, I had never spoken to my guest before. I used the first couple minutes to get the jitters out and connect with her a little bit before we started recording.
  • I remembered to press record!
  • I spent a couple minutes after the interview thanking my guest and letting her know my favorite thing we were able to talk about. 
  • I realized I forgot to have her share where listeners can connect with her. Ugh. You live and try and learn to do better the next time.

Here’s what I have left to do with this episode:

  • Write show notes, including all relevant links.
  • Name the episode.
  • Create episode graphic.
  • Prep the newsletter for the episode.
  • edit and upload the episode.
  • Add theme music.
  • Work on preparing show for iTunes.

There are several things here I can elaborate on, and more to tell, but this is the basic gist of what’s going on with the podcast. I have another interview scheduled for Friday, more to schedule, and more emails to send. I want to be able to release a few episodes when the podcast launches, which will be early next year.

Your Turn: What reading/book related podcasts do you listen to? What would you like to hear on a book related podcast? What should I avoid?

Want to be a guest? Fill out the guest form here, email byhershelf@gmail.com, or leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!

 

Get in My Kindle: Meet Cute by Helena Hunting

Happy Tuesday, Shelfies! I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled programming (Highlighting books you oughta know from the Miami Book Fair) to bring you this special Get in My Kindle bulletin. If you’re a fan of romantic comedies that could win trope bingo blindfolded, read on. If not, I promise a more literary book will be highlighted…eventually.  

Title: Meet Cute Meet Cute

Author: Helena Hunting

Release Date: April 9, 2019

Description: Kailyn Flowers was always calm, rational, and controlled-until she ended up sprawled all over Daxton Hughes, the former actor she totally crushed on as a teenager. Then she did the unthinkable: She became a mortifying fangirl in five seconds flat, which may or may not have included professing her undying love. And oddly, he didn’t run away. In fact, their meet cute led to a friendship she never saw coming. Of course, she never saw his betrayal coming, either…

Now Dax needs her help. As guardian to his thirteen-year-old sister, he’s in way over his head. And though Kailyn hasn’t forgiven Dax, she isn’t heartless enough to make him fend for himself, either. Soon their friendly meetings turn into flirty dinner dates, and Kailyn can feel their chemistry is as explosive as ever. But how can she possibly let down her guard again to a guy who has heartbreak written all over him?

Why I Can’t Wait to Read: How cute is this cover? Even though I know you can’t judge a book by its cover, you have to admit this cover kind of nails it for a romantic comedy. I am a rom-com super fan. I will watch or read most offerings in the genre. What can I say; I LOVE love. But there are a couple things that make this particular rom-com my special brand of candy: second chance romance, friends to enemies to lovers, a potential smart mouthed teen, and, from the other description I read, a conflict between love and career. Sign me up!

Affiliate Links:

Paperback:
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Kindle: 
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Your Turn: Meet cutes–love them or hate them? Do you share my love of a good rom-com? Share your favorites with me below!