Friday, January 30, 2015

Nora Roberts | Weekly Quote 34

Mulluane | Friday, January 30, 2015 | 2 Comments so far

“If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it.

If you don't ask, the answer is always no.

If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place.”

Nora Roberts


Inspirational quote by Nora Roberts on a design by @Mulluane

I was down with a stomach virus this week so did not do any posting. Instead, I'll leave you with this timeless quote. Hopefully I'll be back up to speed by Monday!

About: This is a weekly feature here in the old belfry. The quote is Nora Roberts'. The design, along with any flaws, is mine. 

If you would like to suggest a quote (I prefer it be from a SFF author) let me know in the comments and I'll see what I can do. No promises though. If a quote is too big I may not be able to reproduce it in the space available. I do promise to try though!

Usage: Non-Commercial Fair Use is permitted. The following restrictions apply: Please do not remove or mask the watermark url. Do not sell, print or claim this work as your own and when sharing, pinning, reblogging or posting, a direct link to this post is required. Thanks!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Blogging Tips: Make Sharing Easy | Allow Subscriptions and Why You Should

Mulluane | Friday, January 23, 2015 | 2 Comments so far

Welcome to my Book Blogging Tips Series!

Today I want to start with the very basics of sharable content. Making it possible for folks to track your posts! Before we get started, if you haven't already, please feel free to read my premise for this series and/or my disclaimers

Note: all the links in this post are affiliate free and while most of the advice offered here is aimed at Blogger / Blogspot users, the core principles apply to everybody!

Done? Good! Lets get started!

The Importance of Sharing

Sharing is fun! How to make it easy.

One of the things that I have learned about building a blog following is the importance of content sharing. Content sharing does two things. It builds relationships and it establishes you as someone with authority; someone who is knowledgeable about the book industry.

While I was researching curating sharable content there was one lesson I took to heart. The 80/20 rule. (See #3) This rule states that you should share 80% other's relevant content and 20% your own.

Sounded good to me, so most nights I comb through my feeds looking for interesting content to share on Pinterest and Twitter. I then schedule 10 tweets on Buffer to go out in non-spammy hourly intervals the next day. Anything for Pinterest I pin to a secret board and manually post those in between my buffered tweets, checking the box to crosspost to twitter. 

The results are amazing. If people like what I share they not only reap the benefit of new sources for the things they are interested in; they get curious about the person who found the information for them! I call that a win/win.

How I find content to share

To locate shareable content, I utilize several methods. One is a RSS feed on my Yahoo page. (I have an entire tab devoted to my favorite blogs.) Another is email. A third is Bloglovin. A final source is twitter itself by way of Tweetdeck filtering. Facebook I've given up on but I do check it periodically and Google Plus I'm just now getting around to exploring. (Could use some advice on that one.)

However, much to my surprise, there are some awesome blogs and websites that I'd love to promote, but they don't offer a way for me to subscribe to their posts!

There is no link to their RSS feed. No mention of their twitter account. No option to subscribe by email. No bloglovin button... nothing I can use. Blogger does have a link to atom feeds but not every reader will accept those nor do most people know how to use them.

It makes me sad. All that great content and I have no way to keep track of it. I NEED subscription options!

How I Offer Subscription Options

I use Feedburner for my email subscribers. You do need a google account to use it but it is free. Despite all of the internet buzz to the contrary, I don't believe Feedburner is going anywhere. There are far too many big companies still using it, including major publishers.

As for follow buttons, I personally made my own using Powerpoint and coded them myself. But I'm thinking of remaking them. It's what I do for fun, lol!

Make Your Own Follow Buttons!

If you want to make your own follow buttons there is one site I recommend over all others. Code It Pretty has wonderful tutorials but even better than that, her code is up to date, elegant and it works! 

Click on the link and it will take you to her step by step instructions on how to make ombre follow buttons. 

And they don't have to be ombre. You can choose any colors you want! Even better, her instructions for the buttons apply to self-hosted Wordpress, Blogger and Typepad Unlimited.

PicMonkey is also a fun (and free) choice. There is a great tutorial on how to use PicMonkey to make themed buttons here: Fabulous Blogging. This is how I'll be making my new set of buttons!

"But Mulluane! I can't code!" 

Neither could I at first, but I learned and I'll warn you; it is fun, frustrating, rewarding and addicting! (You've been warned...)

Following any of Code It Pretty's tutorials will teach you alot. Even if you have never coded anything before. She very patiently walks you through every aspect, step by step.

Other Button Methods

Another, easier method is using the individual buttons offered by various platforms. Since they can sometimes be hard to find, I'll link them below. You can get the major ones here:

Pinterest: Follow Buttons
Facebook: Follow Button
Twitter: Follow Button
Feedburner RSS: Blogger Widget List or use "Publicize" in Feedburner (Instructions)
Tumblr: Buttons
Google Plus: Blogger Widget List or Direct (Advanced Options)

Note: I couldn't find any RSS button tutorials I trusted that didn't require either making your own or using Feedburner's. They are likely out there, I just didn't find any.

Feed Readers

If you don't use social media, (and even if you do) you should still provide other ways for followers to easily track your posts. Bloglovin is the feed reader I prefer since it shows your actual blog and not just a text version. Other feed readers strip CSS, and most if not all of your javascript, leaving your blog looking like a mess.

You can add your blog to Bloglovin for free then get a widget to put on your blog.

If Feedly is your thing, (I don't like it myself), you can also get a follow button from them. If you use other feed readers, I'm sure they offer their own buttons. I've only listed the ones I've personally used.

Tip: Subscribe to your own blog in a variety of ways. RSS, feed readers and email. This serves two purposes. First you can see if there are any formatting issues. Email and some feed readers don't "see" your CSS style sheet, strip jquery and javascript plus disallow attributes like "onclick." You may find things misaligned strangely or looking odd. You may even discover that there are elements, like certain divs, that you should wait to add after your blog has been picked up by the readers and email. You'll also know instantly if your blog is hacked. Faster you see it, faster you can get it stopped!

Mobile Friendly Subscribing

Mobile is becoming a huge source of traffic but with mobile there is one huge drawback. No sidebars, so no widgets, so no follow buttons! 

If you are like me, and use a separate mobile template, (something I bless blogger for every day,) you need to make sure that you make following and subscribing available on mobile too. 

What I have done is make a page containing both my email subscription form and my follow buttons. Since I use my pages as my menu, all of my sharing methods are available on mobile!

I can't speak to other blogging platforms but I'd imagine that as long as your menu works in mobile, creating a follow page or post, then adding that to your menu, should work the same. 

Conclusion
Add RSS buttons, an email subscription form and lots of follow buttons!

I love sharing. Doesn't even matter to me if you return the share, though it would be nice. What matters to me is sharing my love of books with as many people as possible. To do that I need to build relationships, be interesting, establish authority and garner followers.

Making your blog post shareable in as many ways as possible will help me and others share our love of books and our appreciation of your quality content. It really is a gift that keeps on giving...

So what about you? Do you curate and share content? Have you seen a positive result? Ever run across great content you couldn't share? Questions? Suggestions? Let us know in the comments!


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Suzanne Collins Song | Weekly Quote 33

Mulluane | Thursday, January 22, 2015 | 1 Comment so far

“Deep in the meadow, hidden far away
A cloak of leaves, a moonbeam ray
Forget your woes and let your troubles lay
And when it's morning again, they'll wash away
Here it's safe, here it's warm
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you.”
Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games


Suzanne Collins Song | Weekly Quote 33


About: This is a weekly feature here in the old belfry. The quote is Suzanne Collins'. The design, along with any flaws, is mine. 

If you would like to suggest a quote (I prefer it be from a SFF author) let me know in the comments and I'll see what I can do. No promises though. If a quote is too big I may not be able to reproduce it in the space available. I do promise to try though!

Usage: Non-Commercial Fair Use is permitted. The following restrictions apply: Please do not remove or mask the watermark url. Do not sell, print or claim this work as your own and when sharing, pinning, reblogging or posting, a direct link to this post is required. Thanks!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Stonehill Downs by Sarah Remy | Fantasy Book Review

Mulluane | Monday, January 19, 2015 | Be the first to comment!


Malachi is the last of his kind—a magus who can communicate with the dead, and who relies on the help of spirits to keep his kingdom safe. When he's sent to investigate brutal murders in the isolated village of Stonehill Downs, he uncovers dangerous sorceries and unleashes a killer who strikes close to home.

Avani is an outsider living on the Downs, one of the few survivors from the Sunken Islands. She has innate magics of her own, and when she discovers the mutilated bodies of the first victims, she enters into a reluctant alliance with Malachi that takes her far from home.

But Mal is distracted by the suspicious death of his mentor and haunted by secrets from his past. And Avani discovers troubling truths about the magus through her visions. She could free Malachi, but first they must work together to save the kingdom from the lethal horror that has arisen.

*Blurb source*HarperCollins
Blurb might contain spoilers, toggle to view.
( Toggle may not function in email and some feed readers.)



Stonehill Downs by Sarah Remy | Fantasy Book Review

| Source: Requested From Netgalley
| Author: Sarah Remy
| Genre: Epic Fantasy
| Content: Necromancy, Ghosts, Magic, Mystery
| ISBN-10: 0062383434
| ISBN-13: 9780062383433
| Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse (December 30, 2014)
| Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
| Rating: 3/5 Stars
| Affiliate Links:
Book Depository Affiliate Link Kindle Affiliate Link Amazon Affiliate Link
Stonehill Downs



♥ Mini Review ♥
This is a story of two souls who were tailor made for each other. Though if you were to ask them, they would vehemently disagree. One is Malachi, who is the last known magus. A man who deals with the spirits of the dead. Then there is Avani who is a refugee witch, a loner and who, as it happens, can see both ghosts and visions.

Together they must fight off a great evil. One that threatens their kingdom. But first they must discover its source.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Book Blogging Tips: Make Sharing Easy | Disclaimers

Mulluane | Friday, January 16, 2015 | 2 Comments so far
Back before the first of the year I promised to write a series of posts on how to make your content more shareable.

But before I do that I want to clarify my intentions, terms and conditions. Instead of including these on every post, I'm going to note them all now. That way I can link to this post instead.
The old bat lays out some guidelines for blogging tips posts
  1. My intention is to help my fellow book bloggers make their sites more sharable and in some cases, more SEO friendly. I am not in any way trying to "steal" business from the professionals. If anything I plan to send business their way.

  2. With that in mind, I want to clarify that I do not make any kind of living, much less one in webdesign, SEO or journalism. When possible, I will link to the experts for clarification of my advice.

  3. I apologize in advance for any slight I give because I can not remember or find the bookmark for the exact source of my information.

  4. I AM an expert in researching and testing. Any advice I give will be about changes I have already researched, instituted and tested on my blogs.

  5. These articles will NOT contain any affiliate links. Any website, service or product I link to will be ones I have tested, like and use. Not because they are paying me. 

  6. These articles are aimed primarily at Blogger/Blogspot users. I don't use Wordpress. I prefer Blogger because it allows me complete control over my template so I can advance my knowledge of CSS3 and HTML5 at my own pace.

  7. For all of your Wordpress needs I highly suggest Ashley at Noze Graze. She really knows her stuff!

  8. No worries though. There will be something for everybody. Some suggestions will be general and apply to all platforms. 

  9. If and when I include any snippets of code, use at your own risk. Sometimes I will change or add to a snippet of code I obtained from somewhere else. I'll always link to the original before I show you my changes.

  10. ALWAYS backup your template before using anyone's code. I can't stress this enough. I use an Awesome Inc. template as my base, though I've modified it well past any resemblance to the original, but all codes do not work on all blogger templates.

  11. As a rule, my widgets, codes, and changes apply only to the PC versions of my blogs. I use a separate template for mobile and let Blogger handle that version of my blogs. A few suggestions may be aimed at being mobile friendly but they won't involve any coding.

  12. Questions are welcome. If you see any element of my blogs that you'd like to use on your own, just ask. If possible I'll include the instructions or source links to the instructions in my next post.
Stay tuned! My first post will be on the importance of having multiple ways to subscribe to your blogs!


Thursday, January 15, 2015

JK. Rowling Quote | Weekly Quote 32

Mulluane | Thursday, January 15, 2015 | 7 Comments so far
“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, 
but just as much to stand up to our friends.” 

-- J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone --

JK. Rowling Quote on Background Design by @Mulluane

About: This is a weekly feature here in the old belfry. The quote is J.K. Rowling's. The design, along with any flaws, is mine. 

If you would like to suggest a quote (I prefer it be from a SFF author) let me know in the comments and I'll see what I can do. No promises though. If a quote is too big I may not be able to reproduce it in the space available. I do promise to try though!

Usage: Non-Commercial Fair Use is permitted. The following restrictions apply: Please do not remove or mask the watermark url. Do not sell, print or claim this work as your own and when sharing, pinning, reblogging or posting, a direct link to this post is required. Thanks!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Robin Hobb | Weekly Quote 31

Mulluane | Thursday, January 08, 2015 | Be the first to comment!
“Home is people. Not a place. 
If you go back there after the people are gone, 
then all you can see is what is not there any more.”

-- Robin Hobb, Fool's Fate --

Robin Hobb Quote on Background Design by @Mulluane

About: This is a weekly feature here in the old belfry. The quote is Robin Hobb's. The design, along with any flaws, is mine. 

Check out my review of Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy. One of my all time favorites!

If you would like to suggest a quote (I prefer it be from a SFF author) let me know in the comments and I'll see what I can do. No promises though. If a quote is too big I may not be able to reproduce it in the space available. I do promise to try though!

Usage: Non-Commercial Fair Use is permitted. The following restrictions apply: Please do not remove or mask the watermark url. Do not sell, print or claim this work as your own and when sharing, pinning, reblogging or posting, a direct link to this post is required. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Gideon by Alex Gordon | Paranormal Horror Review

Mulluane | Tuesday, January 06, 2015 | 4 Comments so far


Preston and Child meets Kim Harrison in this edge-of-your-seat debut thriller—a superb blend of mystery, urban fantasy, horror, romance, and the supernatural.

When Lauren’s father dies, she makes a shocking discovery. The man she knew as John Reardon was once a completely different person, with a different name. Now, she’s determined to find out who he really was, even though her only clues are an old photograph, some letters, and the name of a town—Gideon.

But someone—or something—doesn’t want her to discover the truth. A strange man is stalking her, appearing everywhere she turns, and those who try to help her end up dead. Neither a shadowy enemy nor her own fear are going to prevent her from solving the mystery of her father—and unlocking the secrets of her own life.

Making her way to Gideon, Lauren finds herself more confused than ever. Nothing in this small Midwestern town is what it seems, including time itself. Residents start going missing, and Lauren is threatened by almost every townsperson she encounters. Two hundred years ago, a witch was burned at the stake, but in Gideon, the past feels all too chillingly present . . .

*Blurb source* HarperCollins
Blurb might contain spoilers, toggle to view.
( Toggle may not function in email and some feed readers.)



Gideon by Alex Gordon | Paranormal Horror Review

| Source: Publisher
| Author: Alex Gordon
| Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
| Content: Witches, Ghosts, Mystery
| ISBN-10: 0061687375
| ISBN-13: 9780061687372
| Publisher: Harper Voyager; 
Original edition (January 6, 2015)
| Pages: 432
| Cover Design: Richard L. Aquan
| Read a Sample
| Rating: 5/5 Stars
Book Depository Affiliate LinkKindle Affiliate Link Amazon Affiliate LinkBooksAMillion Affiliate LinkAbebooks affiliate link

Gideon



♥ Mini Review ♥
In the past a mistake was made. An evil was created. An evil that is now stalking Lauren. Secrets, for good or ill, have been kept for generations. Secrets Lauren must now unravel before she too becomes just another victim of an ancient wrong.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Professional Versus Amateur Reviewing | Poll

Mulluane | Friday, January 02, 2015 | 5 Comments so far
Back in 2008, when I first started my blogs, one of the first things I did was write a disclaimer. It went something like this:
The opinions here are all mine as are any mistakes. If I am in any way unfair to my readers, or the authors and publishers of the books I review, I'm sure that karma will exact its due. I am not a publisher, editor or literary genius so my reviews will not be expert critiques on plot, theme, voice, syntax, or writing style, they will be from the viewpoint of one reader to another. The reviews I write are not structured in any way, they come from my heart and are based on my gut reactions. And remember that we are all different, what appeals to me -- or doesn't -- may or may not affect you the same way. All I can suggest is read the books and decide for yourself.

The reason why I did this was a combination of lack of self confidence -- I wasn't sure I could do this reviewing thing -- and intimidation from reading reviews that I quite honestly, did not understand. 
The book by Blumestien on DeviantArt
The book by Blumestien
on DeviantArt

Those technical reviews contain in depth comparisons to other books and authors. They analyze voice, plot, pace, fictionalization, characterization, worldbuilding, themes and style. They use words that I don't know the meanings of but feel like I should.

And their grammar and punctuation is perfect; another thing I know I fail at miserably. It has been a long time since 12th grade English.

But...

They generally have no passion. They do nothing to make me want to read the book. They (the reviewers) would never be caught squealing over a dragon or wanting to comfort a young witch. 

That alone makes me hope that I do fulfill a need in the book reader universe. 

The Difference...


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Anne Rice | Weekly Quote 30

Mulluane | Thursday, January 01, 2015 | Be the first to comment!
“But you love books, then,” Aunt Queen was saying. 
I had to listen.

“Oh, yes,” Lestat said. “Sometimes they are the only thing that keeps me alive.”

“What a strange thing to say at your age,” she laughed.

“No, but one can feel desperate at any age, don’t you think? The young are eternally desperate,” he said frankly. “And books, they offer one hope — that a whole universe might open up from between the covers, and falling into that new universe, one is saved.”

-- Anne Rice, Blackwood Farm --

Book Quote from Blackwood Farm on a background designed by @Mulluane

About: This is a weekly feature here in the old belfry. The quote is Anne Rice's. The design, along with any flaws, is mine. 

You can read my review of Anne Rice's newest Vampire Chronicle here: Prince Lestat

If you would like to suggest a quote (I prefer it be from a SFF author) let me know in the comments and I'll see what I can do. No promises though. If a quote is too big I may not be able to reproduce it in the space available. I do promise to try though!


Usage: Non-Commercial Fair Use is permitted. The following restrictions apply: Please do not remove or mask the watermark url. Do not sell, print or claim this work as your own and when sharing, pinning, reblogging or posting, a direct link to this post is required. Thanks!

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