Category: blogging


Sunday Salon: The One Where ALL THE THINGS ARE HAPPENING

Posted 22 March, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, books and publishing, memes, Reading

sundaysalon1

Time // 9:08 EDT

Place // As if you had to ask, couch perch.

Stuff // TONS of things coming up/happening. Let’s take them one at a time.

The Socratic Salon

 

The Socratic Salon

A collaborative project between me, Monika at Lovely Bookshelf, Catherine at The Gilmore Guide to Books, Shannon at River City Reading, and Jennifer at The Relentless Reader. It’s a new bookish community where our goal is to engender deeper discussions into the books that we read. The site launches in earnest tomorrow (teaser today!) and we’re aiming for our first discussion, on Hausfrau, to go live on Wednesday. Keep your eyeballs peeled because you are probably the most important part of this collaborative effort. (Click on the picture or the title to get to the site.)

 

cloudatlasalong

 

#CloudAtlasAlong

Go get your copy now, because Katie at Bookish Tendencies and I are about to get this ball rolling! You can find the tentative schedule for our fabulous readalong of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas on Katie’s blog here. Can’t wait for you all to join us!

 

Bloggiesta

Bloggiesta

Last but not least, Bloggiesta starts next week. Despite my busy work schedule and all the other stuff happening I’d like to take part as much as I can. So. Goals.

  • Keep plugging my old reviews into the UBB plug-in.
  • Get a few posts written so I have stuff in the queue.
  • Tweak the theme as necessary.
  • Work on some posts for The Socratic Salon with my co-founders
  • Make it to a few Twitter chats!
  • Take a peek at some mini-challenges that might do me some good.
  • Disable Bloglovin’ from posting on Twitter.
  • Backup the blog.
  • Check out and make sure that the blog is interacting with other social media platforms correctly.

 

Whew! I told you there was a lot going on. How’s your week looking, Reader?

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April @ The Steadfast Reader

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The Sneetches: A Lesson

Posted 24 February, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, musings

If you were born after 1961, (or had kids after that time) chances are you have a passing familiarity with Dr. Seuss’s The Sneetches. Just in case you don’t let me refresh you with the first few stanzas of the story.

Now the Star-Belly Sneetches
Had bellies with stars.
The Plain-Belly Sneetches
Had none upon thars.

Those stars weren’t so big. They were really so small
You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.

But, because they had stars, all the Star-Belly Sneetches
Would brag, “We’re the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches.”
With their snoots in the air, they would sniff and they’d snort
“We’ll have nothing to do with the Plain-Belly sort.”

…the rest of the story.

The story ends with this… 

 

And he laughed as he drove
In his car up the beach,
"They never will learn.
No. You can't teach a Sneetch!"

But McBean was quite wrong.  I'm quite happy to say
That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day,
The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches
And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.
That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars
And whether they had one, or not, upon thars.
©1961, 1989 Dr. Seuss Enterprises L.C.

What I want to say is this…

So we’ve been quite unhappy, these past couple months
In the book blogging world and it’s driven us nuts.
It’s time now we each learn something new from old sources
And realize that what we all need is supportez.

Whether new blogger or established
The snark should stop now on Twitter.
Passive aggressive and vague tweets help none of us critters.

Let’s all decide bloggers are bloggers
And respect each other thusly.
Calling out the bad with respect all quite justly.

Upholding the good and respecting our differences
Understanding the negativity is a terrible hindrance.

We can all come together and enjoy
The community again,
If we can ignore all the egos
Can I get an amen? 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Bloggiesta! Let’s Werk.

Posted 17 January, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging

I’m keeping it simple this go round, let’s see what’s on tap.

Goals:

  • Clean up sidebar, change social media icons.
  • Reviews, always write reviews.
  • Update 1001 Books and Review Index
  • Renew domain name
  • Continue pondering that move over to WP, if I want to pay for it and other nonsense.
  • Twitter chat! 
  • Try not to die of The Sickness
Whatcha got, fellow bloggers? 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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In Defense

Posted 8 January, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging

You may or may not know that on New Years Day on Twitter, I publicly outed a blogger that was plagiarizing heavily. While I tried to make my reasons and the facts as transparent as possible we all know that Twitter is not always the best forum for explaining things that take more than 140 characters. So here I shall offer the full facts to all who choose to read them. The screenshots and proof remain on Twitter along with the name of the blogger, so I shall not repeat that information here. I will refer to this blogger as AW.

I was not then, I am not now, nor have I ever been interested in a witch-hunt, a smear campaign, or vengeance against AW. There was no coordinated ‘attack’ to have people comment on Twitter in the rapidity that they did.  I considered her a friend and a colleague, which made the whole thing ever so much more disappointing and quite frankly difficult to do.

Smart Bitches Trashy Books may have put it best in their post: Plagiarism Bingo: O – Hatemail.

This kind of bullshit makes it more intimidating to bring up plagiarism, and if we don’t bring plagiarism up, it won’t stop. But we also have to discuss the intimidating and haterating that follows any revelation of plagiarism, because those reactions also seem to follow a predictable pattern, and probably do plenty to convince those who have been plagiarized, or who have discovered it, to keep quiet because have mercy, it is not pleasant.” (Emphasis mine.)


The Facts
The whole thing started when a blogger (DT) noticed that bits and pieces of her content were appearing in recent posts made by AW. She appealed to a small group of bloggers on what to do about the situation.

Based on the group’s advice, DT emailed AW and requested that she remove the plagiarized content. AW replied with a flimsy excuse (her young daughter had copied and pasted the content). She did not admit wrongdoing, but she did immediately remove DT’s content from the post.

Though the content had been removed, the flimsiness of AW’s excuse spurred a number of us to look deeper into the blog, mostly to ensure that none of our content had been stolen. No fewer than eight posts had full paragraphs cut and pasted from other sources, none attributed. The sources ranged from other bloggers, to NPR, to Entertainment Weekly. Quite frankly, we were shocked, saddened, and at a complete loss of what else to do. 

AW was contacted via email once again upon the discovery of her more egregious plagiarism and again made no acknowledgement of wrongdoing.

The biggest issue, for me, was that AW was attempting to use the credibility gleaned from her blog to start a business representing and marketing to authors.  As I stated on Twitter the pressing reason I felt that this issue had to see the light of day publicly was because at the time it seemed that AW had every intention on continuing on with that business and taking money from authors. This is a practice that combined with plagiarism I find to be wholly incompatible and unconscionable. 

At that point, knowing what I did and having attempted to deal with the situation privately ‘as adults’, but with absolutely no cooperation, change in behavior, or sense of remorse I felt the only avenue left open was to take it to Twitter.

So in defense of criticism that it should have been handled privately, it should be known that myself and the other bloggers involved did in good faith attempt to do just that.

The truth is I take absolutely no pleasure in what I did, it made me uncomfortable, sad, and feel a little like an asshole. That does not change the fact that I still believe what I did was the right thing to do. You can see all my thoughts on how plagiarism makes all book bloggers look bad in this post.

Since the public ‘outing’ AW’s blog is no longer available for public consumption and to the best of my knowledge she is discontinuing her consulting business. All anyone involved really wanted was to hear from AW was the acknowledgement that she had done something wrong and that she would not engage in such behavior in the future. If a private acknowledgement of these things had been made and if there had been any serious attempt to rectify the situation I think the whole Twitter fiasco could have been avoided. 

I fully intend that this is the last post that I will make on this issue. I hope it has been useful in clarifying some points that may have been misunderstood or unknown.

I’d also like to thank the bloggers who know who they are in helping me compose this post. Couldn’t have done it without y’all.

Edit: 19 Feb 2015 the blogger in question finally issued and apology that can be found here.

 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Bloggers Behaving Badly: Plagiarism Edition

Posted 30 December, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, musings

 

2014 seems to have been a banner year for celebrities and authors behaving badly. But there’s not a whole lot that we as bloggers and consumers can do about that except for perhaps abstaining from purchasing their books and availing ourselves of their particular brand of entertainment. We can also be vocal on social media and spread awareness, which is important, but the actions of others is always ultimately beyond our control. 

 
What we can control as bloggers is what we do. Lately I’ve been seeing a rash of complaints from various bloggers about being plagiarized by other bloggers. This, to me, is one of the seven deadly sins of blogging. (Don’t ask me about the other six, I haven’t invented them yet.)  
 
The book blogging community is a relatively small one. The book blogging community outside of YA bloggers is smaller yet. Most of us do this out of a love of literature and reading, the monetary rewards that we reap from our blogs are minimal at best. So it boggles the mind why one blogger would steal content from another. I’m not talking about reblogging or using content with permission. I’m not talking about using ideas from other bloggers, such as interesting takes on year end lists or discussion posts. I’m talking about subversively taking content from a blog and hoping to pass it off as your own work. 
 
Whether it’s a sentence or an entire review, plagiarism is plagiarism and quite frankly it saddens me to see such things happening in our community. If you don’t enjoy writing your blog enough to generate your own content, then perhaps you should turn your energies to another enterprise that is better suited to your interests and talents. Perhaps you shouldn’t be blogging. 
 
Another ill-effect of plagiarism on the whole of the book blogging community is to undermine our power and give further reason for the ‘establishment’ (see: publishers) not to take us seriously as a voice. I know it’s a variation on an old theme of mine – but if we want to be taken seriously it is imperative that we act like we want to be taken seriously as a community. (I know, this is coming from the girl that publishes weird erotica reviews on her blog, but still…) 
 
So what do I do if I’ve been plagiarized?** 
I’ve never (to the best of my knowledge) been plagiarized and I’m no expert in copyright law. But Allison at The Book Wheel has had the unfortunate experience of having 30 – 40 posts stolen from her and she has provided me with a few practical things that you can do in the event that this happens to you.

  • Email the blogger in question. Sternly worded emails can be very effective. By sternly worded I mean stern not insane. Calling names probably won’t get you anywhere, you should be firm but polite. The plagiarism probably isn’t a mistake, but sometimes when called out personally, people will take down or change the language in their posts. Ciska at Ciska’s Book Chest reminds us that when sending the email, no matter what the response is, to remember that you are in the right.
  • Contact Google. Google is not cool with plagiarism. Contact them and they will remove the site from their search engine. No one wants their SEO affected that way.
  • Contact the authors/publishers of any book involved. Name names here. This can be an especially harmful action against people who rely heavily on ARCs/galleys. Inform the publisher that the blogger is not publishing their own review.
  • Contact the plagiarizing blogger’s host, if relevant. Wordpress definitely has a clause within its user agreement that prohibits plagiarism of any kind. Other hosts are likely to have similar clauses. This could result in having the entire account suspended.
  • Contact a digital content lawyer. Obviously this is going to depend on how badly you were ripped off on whether you want to go this route (along with your own finances and how much it really matters to you) but there are experts in the field that will tell you whether you have a case and if you want to pursue it. I’m withholding my own ‘legal thoughts’ on this subject because I am far from an expert. 
So, what about you, Reader? Have you ever had content stolen? What have you done about it? Any further advice here? (Also, Happy New Year if you’re over the International Date Line!) 
 
 
 
 
 
**I am not providing legal advice here, nor should this be substituted as such.

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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A Month of Favorites! With Stats and Covers

Posted 3 December, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging

A December event hosted by GirlxoxoTraveling with T and Estella’s Revenge, that will include fabulous bookish (and sometimes not-so-bookish) experiences from throughout the year.

So, naturally I’m always late to the party and fail to play by the rules.. but here it is! My introduction post! Bahahahaha!
My Reading Year (so far)
  • I’ve already overstepped my Goodreads challenge by 7 books. I’m at 107.
  • 35,600 pages.
  • 56% of the authors that I’ve read are male, which leaves 44% female.
  • 82/96 New to me authors
  • 6 graphic novels
  • 14 YA novels (I feel like there were more!)
  • 65 eBooks… though I WISH THERE WERE MORE!
  • My favorite book for the year?? Hm. It has words in it. 😀 BIG ONES.
Let me display some of my favorite covers… 
    (Mostly) Great books with great covers… what do you think, Reader?

    April @ The Steadfast Reader

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    Bloggiesta: How to Properly Write a Negative Review

    Posted 17 September, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging

    So, a few weeks ago I wrote a post that received some attention entitled The Necessary Evil of the Negative Review. Before I ever started the post I knew that I also wanted to cover how to properly write a negative review, but knowing the attention-span of most internet users I knew that to put it all in one post I would lose people.

    I feel too passionately about this to have your attention wander.

    I received a lot of feedback and I learned that while many people have difficulty writing a wholly negative review and many are much more comfortable with the mixed review, which is great. It’s great because a proper negative review actually should be a mixed review, sometimes that mix is just going to skew more negatively, and that’s okay.

    Without further ado, I want to give you five tips to better negative reviews.

    One: If you take nothing else away from this blogging challenge, please remember this: Never ever get personal about the author. Even if it’s a memoir, stick to the merits (or lack thereof) of the book itself. A wise woman once wrote: “We are not our art.” (How to Build a Girl, Caitlin Moran)

    Two: Maintain balance. There are few books that are entirely awful. Find some little something that you liked and be sure to comment on that as well. This leads me to…

    Three: If all else fails, use the compliment sandwich. This technique can be especially useful with sensitive topics. The compliment sandwich, when executed properly can insulate the worst part of the review between two good things about the book. It’s just what it sounds like. Start by saying something nice, hit the book hard in the middle part of the review, and end on a happy note.

    Four: When possible, be specific. Readers prefer specificity in their reviews. If all you have is, “This just didn’t work for me, I’m not sure why.” It’s not going to be very helpful to the reader. Try to pinpoint what it was that didn’t work for you, was it the world building? The characters? The style or syntax? Point out the problems and give as much specific information as you can. If it’s something personal like you were just in the wrong frame of mind for the book, say that too. It can also be helpful for readers to know who you think might enjoy the book.

    Five: Don’t be afraid. Most people don’t like writing negative reviews. But I truly believe that they are necessary evil for maintaining the integrity of our blogs especially if your blog accepts ARCs. If you’re one of the rare blogs out there that doesn’t, congratulations on your freedom.

    But for the majority of book bloggers out there, my honest opinion is that if you accept ARCs then you need to write negative (or at least mixed) reviews. Because I think that we all read a lot of bad ARCs. But see the original post for my ramblings on that topic.

    Now that I’ve broken it down for you,  I’m going to have little blogging confessional and share with you a completely inappropriate negative review that I wrote and then I’ll link up two negative reviews that I think are well done.

    First. Early on when I started blogging, like so many of us I just didn’t know the intricacies of the publishing world and I didn’t really think about authors as ‘real people’. I wasn’t thinking in terms of their book being something they had slaved over for possibly years, if not decades. So, while I shames me to trot this out in the light of day I’m going to share my review of The Girl Who Couldn’t Say No this is absolutely an example of what not to do when you’re writing negative reviews.

    What’s Wrong With It

    • I clearly violate Tip Number One. I get TOTALLY personal, I even recommend she seek out therapy, not cool, April not cool.
    • There’s no balance and I offer nothing up on what might be good about the book or who might actually enjoy it. I stand by my point that it was poorly written, but there was a better way to say that.
    Now. I feel the next two reviews fall well within the confines of all the tips that I’ve given you. The first one The Atheist’s Fatal Flaw is wholly negative. I couldn’t even compliment sandwich it because I found the book to be that distasteful and poorly written, but notice that I still temper the review with noting past reviews on similar topics that I made, showing my open-mindedness to the issue and maintaining a respectful tone throughout (or at least mostly respectful). I’m specific about what I have problems with and address those issues with concrete examples. Also, I don’t get personal about the authors.

    Second. I have what I consider to be a good execution of the compliment sandwich. Finding Me was ill-written to be sure. I struggled to write the review because of the sensitive subject matter and this is an execution of a negative review that I feel proud of.

    Edit: Kim at Time 2 Read has provided some excellent additional advice. I’d highly suggest you check it out!

    The Challenge: Admittedly, this is a hard topic to challenge you with. But I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments or see examples of your own negative or mixed reviews. Do you have any more tips on how to gracefully write a review of a book that you didn’t really care for?

    April @ The Steadfast Reader

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    Fall Bloggiesta Time!

    Posted 15 September, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging

    Happy Bloggiesta, childrens! I missed out on the mini-Bloggiesta in July because of the bar examination – so I need to hit it hard for tweaking the blog during the Fall Bloggiesta.

    Hopes and Dreams

    • Reconfigure social media buttons – delete what’s unimportant
    • WRITE SOME DAMNED REVIEWS (So far behind)
    • Update review policy
    • Update About Me
    • Update Blogroll
    • Check out mini-Challenges and see what I need to use
    • Try to make at least one Twitter chat

    I know there’s so much more and I will definitely add it as this event progresses (even if just so I can cross it off after I’ve done so).

    Also, keep your eyes peeled on Wednesday for my own little contribution to the event!

    Are you joining in this time, Readers? You totally should.


    April @ The Steadfast Reader

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    How I Really Feel: Sex, Money, Mad Men

    Posted 8 September, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, musings


    Okay, so there’s nothing about sex in this post. That’s unrelated. Also, it sounded good.

    So. Ever since Shannon at River City Reading posted her thoughts on Disclosure, Sponsored Content, and Keeping it Real. I’ve been thinking. Actually, I’ve been thinking since I received my first Influenster VoxBox. What I’ve been thinking about is what kind of blogger I want to be.

    There are a lot of different feelings that I have wrapped up that go a million different ways. Sponsored posts, bloggers feeling as if they’re owed books by publishers, publishers feeling as if they’re owed reviews by bloggers. I’m not trying to piss anyone off, but invariably when you preface statements that way, you’re about to say something pissy.

    In my post on the importance of negative reviews, I talked about the unique voice that book bloggers are gaining within the book world and the importance of maintaining the integrity of our blogs. If we want to continue to expand our credibility and influence as a community, then we must guard our integrity with the utmost care. 

    My problem with Influenster and by extension Klout, further extending to Blogging for Books… (and so it goes) is best explained by a scene from the first season of Mad Men. The good ol’ boys advertising club is having difficulty coming up with a decent way to market lipstick, so they “throw it to the hens” and watch their reaction through a one way window. Here’s a quick video to see what I’m talking about.

     
    Unknowingly, for the price of trying out some new shades of lipstick, the women are turned into a focus group to be used by the men (The Man) to better market a product. 
     
    I fully realize my analogy is far from perfect. After all, as bloggers today we are (or should be) aware that what we’re doing is marketing (to some extent) for someone, so to maintain our integrity we must be selective over what we choose to promote. Is a tube of lipstick the price we put on our integrity? 
     
    If we’re being paid to promote something, (which is fine) the only way to maintain our credibility is to fully disclose any endorsements as such. For me this is less about the FTC and more about the good of the community as a whole. The more bloggers that fail to disclose, the less credibility that we as a community have.
     
    The VoxBox. So initially, I thought that Influenster was a pretty bitchin’ program and was super-psyched when I was notified I was getting my first VoxBox. When it came in the mail I had to sit down and have a long hard talk with myself. Was I willing to sell out my readers for a bar of soap, some paltry makeup, and a carton of ice cream? After a few Instagrams and tweets I started to feel a bit icky with myself, not because the products were bad but because I felt no passion for the products. Sure, I loved the new packaging on the soap, but would I have tweeted about it if not for some silly carrot Influenster was dangling? No way. So I quit. My ickiness receded and I felt better. But the lesson has stuck and I refuse to travel down such a road again. 
     
    My blog and all the social media attached to it is not a platform for giant corporations to advertise their products. My time is worth more to me than to spend it writing a post on ice cream that I feel no passion about, just for the possibility of winning a year’s supply. My reader’s time is worth more to me than that. 
     
    This isn’t a mission statement, a manifesto, or even an announcement of any sorts. This is just me, putting out my thoughts on things that have been trickling into our community, things impacting our community, not always in a positive way, things that aren’t going away that I feel the need to address.
     
    Thoughts, dear Reader? Do you agree on anything I’ve said here? How do you feel about sponsored content? I didn’t really get into the issues of bloggers/publishers each feeling like they’re owed something by the other, any thoughts on that?

     

    April @ The Steadfast Reader

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    Friday Rambling: The Necessary Evil of the Negative Review

    Posted 29 August, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in blogging, musings

    I’ve been looking at a lot of blogs lately, at a lot of review policy pages, and I’ve noticed something weird. Well, weird to me. There seem to be a lot of bloggers out there who don’t write negative reviews. Don’t get me wrong. I (generally) don’t find any thing pleasant or fun in writing a negative review, but I think that it’s a necessary evil.

    There are two groups of individuals that (hypothetically) benefit from a well written negative review. First, and who I’m most concerned about, are my readers. If every review that I write is sunshine and lollipops, how can my readers tell what it is that I actually like, versus what’s just okay – or flat out bad? In other words, for me, it’s a matter of credibility. If I read a book I dislike, but am unable to put my distaste down into words – how valuable are my positive reviews?

    This is not to say that bloggers that don’t write negative reviews lack credibility, but if I don’t know the blogger on a personal level, then I’m more apt to search out another review on a book before making a decision on whether or not to read the book. Michele from Reader’s Respite refers to this as ‘The Squee Factor’. What I’m trying to say is, I look at the positive review with a more critical eye – is the blogger fan-personing? Puffing? Do they feel obligated for a positive review, despite the language saying the review is honest? This is just what goes through my head when I’m on a site that specifically states the individual does not write negative reviews. It’s very possible I’m completely neurotic.

    Second, and I realize by saying this, I’m thinking an awful lot of myself, (but really, it’s applicable to all book blogs). I think that a properly written negative review can be helpful to the author, the publishers, and other people associated with the book. Without feedback, of all stripes, how does one improve the next time?

    It’s undisputed that book bloggers are a growing influence for those reading, writing, and buying books in the book world. Big and small – the internet allows us to have a voice. The question is, do we want to have an authentic, respected voice or do we want to be tools in the marketing machine of the big five publishers? (Or tools of anyone’s marketing machine?) A tool that works for free, no less?

    Personally, the answer for me is an absolute no. So, I will continue to write negative reviews – when necessary. I do this not to be mean or hurtful but for the sake of my readers and my own integrity.

    You’re probably thinking, “Well damnit April, if you like writing negative reviews so much tell us how.” All I can say, is keep your eyes peeled for Bloggiesta. (Sept. 18 – 21) In the meantime, Book Bloggers International ran a post on Negative Reviews: Constructive Criticism is the Key.

    So, Readers, have I pissed anyone off? That’s okay. Let’s chat about it! Respectful dissent is always welcome here! What do you think? Do you write negative reviews? Do you have a policy specifically saying you don’t write negative reviews? If you don’t write negative reviews, why not? 

    April @ The Steadfast Reader

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