Book Launch: The Speaking Season

Hello, Shelfies! Erica here. It’s been a while. I’ve been holed up in a corner, hunched over a laptop, printed pages stained with multicolored ink slashes, squiggles, and writing with more in common with Egyptian hieroglyphs than English words. All of my hard work has paid off, and I’m interrupting regularly scheduled programming to bring you this very, very special announcement: 
121418_SS Front Cover*deep breath*

I’m releasing a new book April 23, 2019 entitled The Speaking Season: Poems and Pieces. It’s 40 poems, their origin stories and explanations, and three creative non-fiction essays written to inspire dialogue and discussion, challenge you to look at a topic or issue from a different perspective, or express feelings you can meet with an enthusiastic (or teary-eyed) me, too.

If you love poetry and/or want to help me get this book in the right hands, sign up to be a part of my launch team: https://forms.gle/4jChxnDYqH8hg3Rt6

‘Kay, thanks, bye!

*runs around the corner* *faints*

Seriously, I’m so excited about this collection. It’s thought-provoking, challenging, and vulnerable in ways I’ve never been before, which makes me anxious in good and bad ways for readers to get their hands on it. If you have any questions about the collection, or just want to leave me some encouragement, feel free to do so in the comments section. 
XOXO,
Erica D. Hearns

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.

 

 

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.

One Small Step, and One Giant Leap

Hello, Shelfies! I realize this blog has been dead silent for weeks, and I apologize. It’s not because I haven’t been reading. In fact, I read 2 books more than I needed to for October to stay in step with my Goodreads Reading Challenge. I have quite a few reviews to post and Get in My Kindle recommendations to share, but today I wanted to share a couple pieces of exciting news. 

It is officially fall in Florida right now. I’m sitting in a screened in patio area luxuriating in the perfect weather after a truly exhausting day yesterday. Yesterday, something I’ve been thinking about and planning for months finally took a small step forward, and I’m still basking in the glow of its awesomeness.

In June, I began working through an idea I had for a project I wanted to start working on. I know I have a tendency to bail on things, so I gave myself a few benchmarks of things to accomplish before I would tell anyone about it. Later, an author I was working with specifically ask me if I’d ever thought about pursuing the thing I was mulling over. I reached out to my co-contributors on this site with my idea and they both thought it was a great idea and wanted to know how they could support it. Yesterday, after months of mulling and planning, I took the small step of buying something I need to do the thing: a microphone.

Now it’s time to take the big leap and share with you what I’m working on and how you can help or be involved. *deep breath* OK, here it goes…

I’m working on a By Her Shelf podcast!

The By Her Shelf podcast will feature everyday readers as well as authors, entrepreneurs and influencers who will invite me to peruse their bookshelves to find out the kind of people they are, and add an alarming amount of books to all of our TBR piles. There will also be episodes focused on Upcoming releases and book-related events, publishing news, literary discussions, and more.

Friends, I’m beyond excited to let this cat out of the bag. It’s been killing me to keep this idea between myself, my co-contributors and my mom. However, it’s a scary leap to announce this now because the show isn’t ready to launch yet. I’m at least a couple months away from releasing episodes. So why am I sharing this now? Because I want your help.

I’m looking for guests who aren’t afraid to share the books they love or hate, the works that changed their perspective and shaped their lives. I want to host guests who don’t mind judging and being judged by the books people choose to read, all in the name of getting to know each other. I’m dying to hear about the time you gave in to FOMO and regretted it so hard you might have broken your brain, or the weird way you stumbled upon your favorite author, or your goal to read a specific group of books in a year. I want to know what book people would be surprised to find on your shelves and the book you can’t stop pressing into every pair of open hands you find. Tell me all about what subjects or tropes you can’t help but buy, and which ones you wish would go away for good. And we simply must talk about your TBR pile before your family has an intervention.

If a conversation like this sounds right up your alley, let me know! If you’d like to be a guest, or have suggestions for the content of the show, leave a message in the comments, fill out the contact form, or email me at mz.zeyzey2@gmail.com. Want to keep up with my podcast journey and find out when the show will be ready to debut? Subscribe to the By Her Shelf Newsletter via the pop up, or send me your email address and I’ll add you to the list.

Be on the lookout for a new Get in My Kindle post on Monday.

XOXO,

Erica