Tag «seriesous tips»

SERIESous Tips: Using Trello to Keep Track of Reviews

*I want to be clear that this post isn’t affiliated with Trello in any way, this is just my personal experience!*

I first talked about how I use Trello in 2016 during a Keeping Organized Tips Series I ran. At the time, I mostly highlighted how I use Trello to keep track of ARC Requests and only briefly mentioned my Review Board. That’s about to change here!

Back in university, a co-coordinator for an event I was running showed me Trello as a tool for keeping organized. The list-maker in me loved it and I used it a lot while organizing various things. But I never thought about using it for book blogging until I read a post by Brittany @ Book Bumblings about Trello. After that, everything just clicked and I created my own boards to keep track of things!

>> Check out Brittany’s guide here!

Trello is great for a number of reasons. First off, it’s free (there is a premium version you can buy with more features) and the options are endless for the free version. It is a very fluid web-based program. It’s super easy to move things around and has a ton of customizing features (which I’m going to highlight a little more below). It also has an app for your phone so you can use it on the go if you are so inclined.

Let me introduce my Review Board:

Every post that is created for my blog has a card on this board. I have 7 main lists I use to keep my reviews/posts organized depending on what stage they are at.

What are you looking at?

These are my lists I used to keep track of reviews and blog posts. I’ll break it down for you:

  1. To Do
    • This is my brainstorm list where I keep track of ideas for blog posts I might want to do in the future
  2. ARCs
    • This is where I create review cards for Request copies I have received
      • I’ll detail what’s on those cards below
  3. In Development
    • These are reviews/posts I am currently writing
  4. Started
    • These are reviews that are finished, they just need something else before they can be published
  5. Cross Post
    • This is where review cards go after I’ve finished writing my blog post
    • This is where I keep track of what other review sites I need to post my review to
  6. Pending Sequels
    • These are drafted series reviews that I’m holding off on posting until I’ve read all the available sequels
  7. Done
    • This is where all review and post cards go after I have completed all their requirements

As I’m sure you can predict, when I’m writing a post from my To Do list or from my ARCs list, they get put in the In Development column. After they are complete, they either get put in the Cross Post, Pending Sequels or Done columns depending on their posting requirements.

What’s On a Review Card?

An example of a review card for an ARC request

There are 4 features I use the most when it comes to creating my review cards.

  1. Labels (colour codes)
    • This is great for seeing things at a glance. I colour code all my reviews based on their source (ARC or Blog Tour), if they require a Recap, if I need to Cross Post or if I need to Update a previous review and/or stats. I also have a special colour for Promo posts like blitzes.
    • If a card gets a certain label, it usually has an accompanying checklist (see #3).
  2. Due Date
    • This is the date I plan to post on my blog, not necessarily the book’s publishing date.
    • This is super handy because you can sort lists by their due dates chronologically. I do this for posts that I have to cross post to external sites.
  3. Checklist — My FAVOURITE Feature!
    • We do a lot of repetitive things when it comes to blogging and sometimes it’s hard to remember them all.
      • See the section below for more details!
  4. Comment (not pictured)
    • I use this mostly for post cards for Tags or posts inspired by other blogs and I want to remember the source or ideas for the post

Why the Checklist Feature is the BEST!

Certain reviews require certain things. For example, when I write a series review, I need to make sure I’ve added a recap section (if applicable) to my Recap Page and put the series on my Series Sequel Spreadsheet. If it’s a review for Netgalley, I need to make sure I’ve added my review to the site as well as the links to my cross posted reviews. I even have a list for those cross posts! And the lists go on and on…

What I love about Trello is that you can create unique checklists for every card and you can see at a glance how many items you’ve completed from that list.

But the greatest thing is that you can copy checklists from other cards to your current card!

I have a card I’ve titled Master Checklist. On it, I’ve created all the checklists I use on a regular basis and when I create a new card, I import the lists from this card. If I need to make a change, I do it on this list so that a new cards going forward have this newly changed list.

Other Notable Features:

  • Assign Tasks by Team Member
    • This would be great if you have multiple blog contributors!
    • You can leave notes too for each other on the card and see what others have done.
  • Calendar
    • You can enable a calendar that will put your cards on those respective dates
      • I don’t use this feature as I use a Word Doc do keep track of my dates for everything (posts, library due dates, etc). Learn more here.
  • Tracks Activity
    • Any changes you make to a card (and when) are noted at the bottom

This way, I always know where I am when it comes to my reviews!

While I try to do a little bit of blogging each day, I don’t always get the chance to with my job. But Trello makes it easy for me to pick up where I left off and to see what I need to get done and when. It truly has become an essential tool to my blogging experience.

>> See how Carrie @ Reading is My Super Power was inspired by my other Trello post!

How to you keep track of the reviews/posts you have in the works?

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SERIESous Tips: Keeping Track of Series Sequels

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but book series are kind-of my thing.

When you dedicate your entire blog to book series reviews, you need to be a little organized when it comes to sequels. With this post, I’m going to share some of the ways I keep track of what sequels I have read, what sequels I need to read and what sequels have yet to be published.

>> Tips Post: Learn how I keep track of all my various book sources here!

Method #1 – Goodreads

Like most readers, Goodreads is my go-to for keeping track of my TBR. There are a lot of things to like about the various features of the site. For one, it’s great at listing book series or telling you if a book is a part of a series. That’s actually how I first found the site: I was looking into the sequels for a book series. Another is that it usually has the publishing dates or estimates. And you can’t forget about the shelving feature.

The shelving feature is my main way of keeping track of everything I read…and what I have yet to read. When it comes to book series, I have 3 primary shelves:

  1. “Want To Read”
    • This is the default Goodreads shelf but I’ve always used it more as a “To Read” shelf
    • These are the books that are sequels to series I’ve already started
  2. “Waiting-For”
    • These are books (standalone or series) that have yet to be published
    • While any yet to be published book is here, I use it specifically to keep track of what sequels will be published and when
  3. “Want-to-Read”
    • This is the shelf I use for any book I am interested in reading
    • For the inaugural novels in a series that I haven’t read, they get put on this shelf

I also have some shelves I use for labeling. While most highlight certain book characteristics or how excited I am to read a book, I do have a “best-of-the-series” shelf to distinguish the standout novels of a series.

Method #2 – An Excel Spreadsheet

Until last year, I had an excel spreadsheet that kept track of blog posting types for various series reviews. But that didn’t help me keep track of what sequels I actually needed to read. So I created this lovely spreadsheet to keep track of all the series I have on the go!

I created this file in Excel. Each series gets its own heading and lists all the novels in the series as well as other information. I also use formulas to give me numerical stats.

Let me break it down a bit.

This spreadsheet is divided up into headings for each “Series“. Underneath that heading, I list all the books I have read or have yet to be published (“Novels“) in the series. Once they are read, they get a strikeout or are simply deleted from the heading. I then use the “# TBR” to keep track of the unread novels in that series (more on this later). The “Post” heading is to note whether or not I have a blog review already created for that series. I don’t use the “Source” column that much unless I don’t have a way to access that particular book and I need to remember.

You might have noticed that little table titled “Total Series“. I use that to provide me with a few stats on my reading progress (the scientist in me craves it!). I use the numbers in my “# TBR” column to keep track of how many series have just one book left to go versus how many have 2+ to go.

Is it Hard to Maintain?

This spreadsheet did take me awhile to create but once I had all the information typed into it, it’s been super easy to maintain. Now when I start a new series or finish a sequel for a previously started one, I immediately update this spreadsheet (it’s even a checklist item on my Trello account so I never forget!). For titles I’ve listed as “waiting for”, I go through once a month or so and change the “w” to a “1” or whatever number it is now.

> > Tips Post: Learn how I use Trello to keep track of all my reviews on the go!

So you might be thinking: That’s a Little Extreme, Lauren!

Perhaps. But I have a lot of series on the go thanks to this blog and my need to have fresh content whenever possible. I also love making lists!

This spreadsheet has come in hand for my 2018 Reading Plan to finish more sequels. In case you don’t know, I’ve created a goal for myself to read 1 sequel novel each week for 2018. I use this spreadsheet to help me decide what series I should tackle next.

>> Check Out My 52 Sequels Challenge Progress!

Wait: I Thought this was a Tips Post?

You’re right! It is. We all have such extensive TBRs that it can be hard to keep track of everything all the time. My hope is that by sharing my methods, it’ll inspire my fellow bloggers to think about how they keep track of sequels and perhaps make some positive changes.

Plus, I’m always open to helping people out. If you have any questions about using Goodreads or Excel, let me know! I’m happy to teach you some tricks or come up with a method that works well for you!

How do you keep track of book series you have on the go?

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SERIESous Tips: 5 Ways to Get Into Audiobooks

Last July, I published a post declaring my love for audiobooks.

But it took me a long time to reach that conclusion. As I mentioned in that post, it took me 7 years to get comfortable listening to audiobooks. That’s a long time!

Audiobooks are a growing tend in the publishing industry. In 2017, audiobook sales increased by nearly 30%! That’s crazy! And I can only imagine that they are doing the same (if not better this year). I’ve noticed that a lot of my favourite authors have been releasing audio versions of their new books months before they published versions hit the shelves.

Which is why I wanted to created this post today. I know that for some, audiobooks are a daunting format to even consider reading. But I’m hoping that with some of the tips below, you are encouraged to at least try and see why audiobooks can make a great addition to your reading habits.

Below you’ll find some of the tips that I have tried and tested over the last 8 years. My previous post focuses more on my journey to find that all important first book but the tips below focus more on the actual reading experience.

1 – Start With Nonfiction

This is a tried and true method for me. Nonfiction novels are a great starting point for a number of reasons. Some of those reasons are listed in more detail for Tip #2 and Tip #3, but this biggest reason is their subject matter.

I found nonfiction audiobooks didn’t require me to listen all the time. Seems counter-intuitive I know, but what I mean is that I was able to teach myself to listen to the book but not berate myself when I missed something important. You can easily discourage yourself when you get angry for missing certain parts and in turn, it can make for a horrible listening environment and experience.

For example, celebrity memoirs are great to listen to because you don’t need to listen to every detail. You can zone in and out if you have to and not miss too much. (And you can always use the rewind button if you need to!) I found by listening to these stories, I got used to focusing on the words and putting things together as well as remembering past topics without having the ability to flip back and check the previous pages.

Consider it audiobook training if you will.

2 – Find a Narrator You’re Familiar With

I read of a lot of celebrity memoirs when I first got into audiobooks because I enjoyed the familiarity of a voice I already knew. It’s especially true with actors because you are used to hearing their voices and deliveries on TV or at the movies. With audiobooks, all you’re doing is removing the visual but your brain can do the rest and you can easily visualize it in your head.

>> Tip: Listen to an audiobook sample before taking the plunge. You can usually tell pretty quickly if you will get annoyed by the narration or not simply by listening to a couple of minutes of the production.

But a lot of actors narrate fiction novels as well. When I made the jump to fiction I first picked up Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line because it is narrated by Veronica herself, Kristen Bell. Best decision EVER! Again, I felt like I was watching an episode of Veronica Mars without the visuals and it just really allowed me to immerse myself in the narrative and world.

>> List: Here’s a list of some classic novels as audiobooks narrated by celebrities!

3 – Start With Shorter Novels

If you’re like me, you might have a shorter attention span. I don’t do so well with books that have more than 300 pages because I often find myself getting bored (I’m looking at you Throne of Glass Series). That isn’t always the case but I do get distracted easily.

After listening to a few audiobooks, I soon learned that I didn’t enjoy books that had a length greater than 11 hours. So when I’m contemplating whether or not to choose the audio verison or the print, I take into account the length of the narration.

But, if you really want to listen to the audiobook you can always…

4 – Bump Up the Delivery Speed

I rarely used this feature before I started listening to fiction novels. But once I started using it, I couldn’t stop!

Bumping up the speed can help in a variety of ways. One is that it shortens the amount of time you have to listen to the novel. This is great for novels that are just that little bit too long for my attention span. For example, when I wasn’t totally enjoying Kingdom of Ashes, I bumped of the speed to get through it a little more quickly because I did want to see the ending.

But I also use the increased speed when the dialogue seems a to be a little stifled. Again, I used the speed initially in Kingdom of Ashes to help smooth out the awkward dialogue of the narrator. I did the same thing in West as well. Both times, it increased my enjoyment of the novel as I wasn’t as annoyed or distracted by the slower delivery.

Now, by default (unless it is for review copy purposes) I listen to all audiobooks on 1.25X to help smooth out the dialogue and help me finish that little bit faster.

>> Tip: If you find that audiobooks are too fast, most audiobook applications have a 0.5X speed to slow things down!

5 –  Listen to a Previously Read Series

Finding that first audiobook to dive into can be daunting. I detail how I came to pick my first fiction novel in my post last year–it took me (at least) an hour to whittle it down to one.

Which is why I think returning to an old favourite is a great start. I’ve never done this per say but it was in my mind when I picked up the Veronica Mars series as audiobooks since I was already familiar with all the characters thanks to the show.

In a similar idea, I ended up picking up the audiobook version of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? after not being fully invested in the print version. Again, this goes back to Tips #1 & #2 but I just knew the stories Mindy tells would be much more entertaining if I heard her tell them to me in her voice. And they were!

Returning to a world or story you are already familiar with can help you get accustomed to the audio version. You can teach yourself to listen without having to worry that you will unintentionally miss something (and if you do, you already know what it is!). Familiarity in something that is new to you can be a great asset and that’s what a reread provides when it comes to audiobooks.

>> Tip: If you don’t want to pay to try out an audiobook, try you’re local library or an audiobook subscription service. Read my Service Review of Audible here!

Bonus – Listen to an Audiobook Instead of Music

When I first started listening to audiobooks 3 years ago, I started listening to them while running errands and doing chores because I was tired of listening to the music I had on my iPod. Sure, I could listen to the radio but I hate listening to commercials and music streaming services weren’t my thing. Listening to audiobooks was the equivalent of listening to the TV while it played in the other room and I quickly became engrossed in the story.

Which is why I started listening to audiobooks on my drive to work instead of the radio (which I listen to for my entire shift at work). When you drive by yourself, you can’t really spend that time reading or doing other things because you have to concentrate on your surroundings. And given the fact I was losing 2 hours commuting back and forth, I wanted to do something productive and make up for my lost reading time. Audiobooks were the answer.

Of course, there are times when audiobooks instead of music might not be the best idea. For example, I can’t listen to an audiobook and write a post for my blog at the same time (I can’t even listen to music with lyrics when I write). I don’t mind listening to books while doing cardio exercises but for some people they might need the beat of music to keep up their motivation. But the next time you reach for the playlist, why not try out an audiobook instead?

I hope you found some of those tips helpful!

Be patient as you try audiobooks. They are a very different reading experience and it’s something that takes time to get used to–especially if you are hesitant to try or go in thinking you won’t enjoy them. I had to teach myself to listen (it helps when you are driving by yourself and have nothing else to do but listen) while others can dive right in. Don’t be discouraged if that first book doesn’t work. Keep an open mind and try different things (i.e. genres) to see what works for you. 

Here are some recommendations of audiobooks I loved in the last year:

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda When Dimple Met Rishi The Hate U Give Fragile Chaos Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle, #1)

Do you listen to audiobooks? Why or why not?

Any Tips?

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SERIESous Tips: Picking the Perfect Travel Reads

For me, deciding what books to bring on a trip is just as important as figuring out what clothes I’m going to pack.

While packing for my big international trip back in September (and with the holidays right around the corner), I thought it would be a great idea to share some of my strategies for selecting the titles I take with me on vacation.

Use an eReader!

Before I got my eReader, finding space for books in my suitcase was a massive undertaking. For an overpacker like myself, it was a delicate situation that required a lot of foresight and sacrifice.

I remember on one trip, I brought 3 books thinking that would be more than enough to keep me entertained. It wasn’t. We had more travel downtime than I anticipated and I found myself bored that I couldn’t read.

eReading has solved that problem for me in a big way. Not only is my eReader super easy to pack, but it lets me have 100s of books at my disposal. I never run out of books to read when I bring my eReader and that’s just fabulous!

>> Learn more about eReading!

Now my biggest dilemma is deciding whether to bring my Kobo or Kindle.

Ask Yourself: What Will Your Reading Time Look Like?

It’s a good idea to get a feel for when you might find yourself reading on your trip. Do you have a long flight or lengthy travel time? Are you doing more of a relaxing trip where you will be reading most of the day? Or do you have an action packed itinerary where reading time will be minimal? I always look at what my reading time will be in order to determine what type of books I want to read.

When I go on my more “relaxing” vacations, I tend to pick novels that I can get lost in for hours at a time. I’m talking about the books you want to read in one sitting or books that are better if you read in a shorter time frame thanks to their somewhat complicated plots. For me, these are my YA fantasies or science fiction reads. 

On the other hand, when I know that my reading time will be limited, I pick novels that I can easily pick up and carry on with when I get the chance. These are my Romance and Contemporary reads. I pick these stories because they usually have (in general) fewer characters to remember and a simpler plot line to follow. They’re easier to pick up and immerse myself into even if it has been a couple of days since I last picked it up.

Start a Book Before You Go

I actually learned this tip from my local library and it’s something I keep in mind every time I travel. While I usually have no problem starting a new book, I find sometimes on vacation that it can be hard to get myself to start that new novel. By getting myself invested in the story before I leave, I find myself compelled to finish the book while on my trip because I need to see what will happen next. Being familiar with something–especially when you might be in an unfamiliar place–can really help motivate you to pick up that novel.

Don’t Put Pressure on Yourself (If You Can)

When I go on vacation, I try not to read any request or review copies because I can never be sure what my reading time will be like. As I said above, if I know that I will have lots of reading time because of flights or days at the beach, I might pick up a review copy or two on my trip. But in most cases, I avoid anything that will cause me stress since my vacation is supposed to be relaxing and I don’t want that negatively impacting my reviews.

>> Tips: Ideas for organizing review copies and requests

>> Tips: How to Avoid the “Chore” of Reading

A Note on Keeping Up With My Blogging

Vacations are supposed to be relaxing and so I try to limit all distractions, including my blog. That’s why I schedule everything on my blog so that I don’t have to worry about posting things while away. And it’s like I never left (well, besides the fact that I don’t respond to comments right away).

>> Check out my tips to help start you scheduling your blog posts!

But since I review 98% of the books I read, I do keep notes on the books I read while on vacation. Sometimes I do have my laptop and a WiFi connection so I write up a quick draft of a review and format it once I get home. Other times, I simply type out my review in an email or as a digital note on my phone and send it to myself later once I have an internet connection. That way, I don’t have to stress myself over what my initial thoughts were once I finished the book and it’s fresh in my mind.

How do you pick the books you read for vacations? Any tips?

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SERIESous Tips: My Favourite WordPress Plugins

One of the biggest draws to being a self-hosted blog (besides the graphics freedom) was the ability to add plugins. Plugins are these great little add-ins or apps you can use to make your site easier to run and/or have really cool features. While a lot of the plugins I use are the basic foundations of keeping my site running (like Jetpack and Akismet), there are a few that make my blogging experience super efficient and save me a lot of blog maintenance time.

Below you’ll find some of my favourite plugins, what they do, what I love and what I dislike. When you click on the title, you will be taken to the Plugin homepage where you can learn more.

**These links and comments are not affiliated with the respective plugin creators/companies! It is simply my take on using the services over the last year! I found posts like this extremely helpful for finding plugins for my blog in the past and wanted to contribute in my own way.**

My Favourite WordPress.org Plugins

(in alphabetical order)


What it Does: Allows comment-ers to link-back to their most recent posts when they enter their URL when commenting.

What I Love: I totally thought you had to pay for this plugin and so it was always on the back-burner for what to add next. But it is free for a basic version with minimal features. It’s great for a blogger like me who comments back on blogs who comment on mine so I can immediately jump to their most recent post.

What I Dislike: I get a ton of spam in my comment spam folder now. Which isn’t a huge deal because it is easy to clear but it’s a little annoying.

Featured Image from URL

What it Does: Instead of uploading an image to your own site for your featured image (what appears in the blog roll page), you can use a URL from another site (like Goodreads).

What I Love: Now that my blog theme actually requires me to set a featured image for my blog roll page, I had to find a plugin that would save me time and not require me to upload a ton of cover images daily. I know that there are a lot of reasons why you should upload book covers yourself instead of using the image URL from another site but I find it tedious! Because I already add the image in my review post, it’s so easy to paste it in the side widget on my post creation page.

What I Dislike: I have noticed that the image I set as my featured doesn’t show up when I view my blog on the WordPress Reader. I’m not sure if that is just WordPress itself picking an image at random but I find my featured image varies on my out-sourcing platforms. It also doesn’t format nicely on my blog roll page once I did an update but I think I just have to play with the code a little more.

Hello Bar

What it Does: Creates a pop-up link bar on your blog.

What I Love: One of the biggest learning curves to my self-hosted blog was trying to figure out ways to make it easy for people to follow. Eventually I got a WordPress widget but when you go into the world of self-hosted, email subscribers are your main “follower” crew. But I find few people actually use emails to follow blogs, especially when you have sites like Bloglovin that create a nice feed for you to scroll through. The Hello Bar is created for email subscriptions but it does let you customize it for whatever link you like and so I choose Bloglovin! And since I started using it, I’ve noticed an increase in my Bloglovin’ followers.

What I Dislike: Not much really. It’s super customizable, they send me weekly updates on my stats (which you can unsubscribe to) and it’s FREE!

Revive Old Post

What it Does: Reposts old posts on Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler, etc. with hashtags.

What I Love: I’m all for a little self-promotion on social media but I don’t want to bombard my followers with old posts every hour on the hour. I love Revive Old Post because you can set how many tweets (what I use it for) go out and how many hours between them. You can add hashtags, select what categories get sent out and more.

What I Dislike: You gotta play around with it a bit to get what you want but it’s very easy to customize.

Smooth Slider

What it Does: Creates an image slide show that can be a widget or a feature on your site.

What I Love: I originally had this on my old theme as a way to feature my recent posts on my homepage. Now, it’s a widget on my site for the same thing. I really like that I can set it up when I create the post and it lets me set a date when it will automatically expire from the slider so my most recent content is always on display. It also works really well with my Feature Image from a URL plugin which I worried about at the start as some plugins clash.

What I Dislike: I was having some issues with the expiry aspect but it just took some playing around. I also had to play around with the image sizing but the code is pretty easy to figure out.

Post Index

What it Does: Creates an archive of posts for a particular category on a page.

What I Love: I’m not sure how many people used my old post archive back in the day but it was something I did manually using both cover images and text. It was so tedious to update and one of the first plugins I looked for was an archiving one. This one does everything itself, creating a beautiful list with anchored links throughout the page.

What I Dislike: I title my posts with a “Series Review” or “Fresh Fridays”, etc heading, and in an ideal world, the plugin I use would be able to omit that and sort whatever follows the colon. I did find one that did that, but it was more of a search result listing order than an actual page with the full list of my posts.

404 Page

What it Does: Creates a “broken link” page where readers can learn why that page is unavailable.

What I Love: My old theme had the ability to create my own 404 page but my new one doesn’t. I do keep an eye on broken links but they happen. Especially when you move post scheduling dates around a lot like I do. I think it’s just a nice way to tell people what’s up and why something they want to read may not be available right away.

What I Dislike: This is super easy to use and set up so no complaints.

What plugins do you love?

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SERIESous Tips: How to Start Scheduling Your Posts

Last year, I posted a Tips Post about Scheduling Posts. I’ll admit, it wasn’t the most helpful post ever: I mostly focused on why scheduling works for me and how I keep track of my schedule. Not a lot of sage advice.

I schedule everything well in advance–months usually–and I love it! It makes everything so much easier for me as a blogger. And when I tell people that, I get a lot of questions of “how do you schedule so far in advance”?

So I wanted to create a post with some tips/ideas on how I think you can get started. You don’t need to do all of these but I think one or two can get you on the right track!

Tip #1: Not Posting Everyday

This is just a personal preference for me but there is no way I could create enough content to post everyday (props to those that do!). Part of the reason has to do with Tip #2 below but the other reason is that I like time between my posts. I try to have at least 1 day between posts, ideally two.

One reason is that I don’t check my blog everyday for some reason or another. In turn, that means I only get to browse my subscription feed a couple times a week. When I do browse the feed, I see posts from the last 2-3 days anyways so I don’t see the need for me to post everyday to make sure people see my posts. Again, this is just a personal preference and I know everyone has a different thought of this!

Idea: Keep a calendar of when you plan to post! That way you can see what you are posting and when.

Tip #2: Schedule Certain Posts on Specific Days

This is the main reason why I’m able to schedule so many posts in advance. When I created my blog 4 years ago, I knew I wanted to focus mainly on book series. But I also knew that I wanted to post standalone and new series reviews–just not all the time. And so, I created Single Sundays & Fresh Fridays respectively. That means I only post standalone reviews on Sundays (unless it’s a promotional post) and I try to alternate them every other week. So, if I write 4 standalone reviews in a month, I have posts for almost 2 months (4 posts for 8 weeks). Pretty Sweet!

Idea: Weekly memes are a great way to get some day-specific posts or create your own feature that is weekday specific!

Tip #3: Spend a Day Writing Posts

I know that’s hard to do for some people but one of the reasons I schedule so many posts is that I get these spurts of inspiration and just churn out the posts. I then use my don’t-post-everyday & day-specific guidelines to schedule them throughout the upcoming weeks. I consider it an investment of sorts that pays off later when I go away on vacation (like I did with this post) or am going through a reading slump and I don’t have to worry about posting.

Idea: If you are a lengthy writer, try breaking the post up into segments or separate posts  (and post over a couple of days) to get more content!

Tip #4: Write Posts on Your Hiatus

People go on hiatuses for many reasons. I went on a lengthy one my first year of blogging simply because I didn’t have enough material to be posting consistently. So while on hiatus, I would write posts and schedule them for after my slated return. My reasoning: no one was expecting new posts during that time I was away so I didn’t need to use my newly crafted post immediately.

I know that this can be hard to do depending on your motivation for the hiatus, but this could even be a week randomly in a month where you focus solely on writing posts and not publishing them right away.

Tip #5: Draft, Draft Draft!

The drafting feature on WordPress is my favourite! Rarely do I have enough time to compose a post from start to finish. But I can often spare an hour or less everyday working on something for my blog.

I also like having those drafts started so when I do feel inspired to blog/write, I can just finish something I already started instead of creating something from scratch.

Pro-Tip: Make sure you leave notes to yourself so you can pick up where you left off! It’s easy to forget your train of thought if you write something over days instead of in one setting.

Tip #6: Get Comfortable with Blogging a Week (or more) Ahead

One of the downsides to scheduling posts is that you don’t get that instant gratification from publishing something you just wrote. That post you were so excited to share won’t be out there for days (or more) and it’s hard to contain your excitement sometimes.

For me, it doesn’t help that I have such a crappy memory either. So when that post I wrote two months ago finally publishes, I’m not entirely sure what I wrote. BUT, that gives me a great excuse to read over my post with a fresh set of eyes. I catch a TON of typos and mistakes when I do. Sure, it sucks that I already shared it but I like revisiting those posts and reliving the idea all over again.

My point though with this tip is that you have to focus on the week(s) ahead and not just the current week. That can be a hard change to get used to but it’s worth it. Especially when you can’t guarantee that you will have the time to create fresh content that week.

Pro-Tip: Instead of focusing on my posts for the current week (because they are already done), I instead get to spend more time blog hopping and doing site maintenance when I check on my blog.

Scheduling blog posts is an adjustment that needs to happen over time. Like any habit, you have to do what works best for you and that can mean you have to try a few techniques out before you find one that is perfect for you.

I hope that you find some of these tips helpful 🙂

Anything I Missed? Do You Schedule Your Posts?

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SERIESous Tips: So You Wanna Try New Adult?

Two years ago, I created a Top Ten Tuesday list for people who wanted to try New Adult reads but were reluctant to do so. It was a long list of some of my favourites, but I’ve read a lot more great books in the last 2 years. So, I’ve decided to update that list, get a little more specific and provide some tips on making the transition.

Of course, you can always check out that old list for some more inspiration 😉

What is New Adult (NA)?

No, it isn’t “new” adult fiction novels. It’s a genre of novels that bridges those years between young adult and adult fiction. I think the New Adult Book Club explains it best:

New Adult books focus on the period in life where you are becoming a proper adult. The characters are usually between about 18 – 25 and are generally either at college or starting their first job.

The category fits in-between YA and Adult books. It has a similar coming of age feel as YA books but rather than people experiencing their first kisses the content and issues used are more mature such as first serious relationships and heartbreak.

Tips on making the jump:

  • Pick the right novel!
    • If you are someone who doesn’t like a lot of sexy times in their novels, find novels that don’t have as much sex! Don’t like dark/sad stories, find a lighter one? This genre is so diverse there is definitely something for everyone.
  • See if an author you like has a NA novel.
  • Don’t jump for the contemporaries right away!
    • If you are hit or miss with the YA contemporaries, try a non-contemporary pick. That way, you can get used to the slightly older characters and get accustomed to some of the more common plot themes of the genre as a whole.
  • Look for a trope you like.
    • A lot of the contemporary tropes (like falling in love with the BFF’s brother or fake relationships) you find in adult or YA make appearances in NA. Stick with what makes you comfortable.
  • Find a bridging novel.
    • There are some YA and NA reads that straddle the line. These might be high school characters (what I classify as YA) that deal with more mature themes like mental health or tragedy. Others might start as YA but the sequels may be NA as the characters age and mature.


If you like coming of age stories, try Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


This is often classified as YA but in my mind, it’s the definition of New Adult. A college freshmen trying to orient herself in life and in the world. Throw in first love, new friendships and some family drama, and you’ve got yourself a true coming of age NA novel.

If you like YA paranormal stories, try Queen of Blood by Jill Myles

Queen of Blood

I love a good vampire story and this one meets the grade. It’s got a great plot, a solid romance and a touch of maturity that is often lacking in YA paranormal stories.

If you like YA science fiction stories, try Soulless (Immortal Gene Series) by Jacinta Maree

Soulless (The Immortal Gene, #1)

If you are looking for a great adventure and don’t mind some violence, pick up this series! The plot is thrilling, with twists abound and the world is super cool. Add to it a kickass heroine in Nadia and you’ve got a winner!

If you like YA fantasy stories, try A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR Series #1) by Sarah J Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

Again, another novel that is often classified YA but the age of the characters and the subject matter is more NA to me. It’s grittier and has a mature vibe to it that takes it to the next level.

If you like stories involving mental illness, try Spiral by Mila Ferrera


Characters dealing with a mental illness are becoming more prevalent in YA and that is also the case in NA. This one is a personal favourite for how it realistically handles mental illness in a romantic relationship.

If you like stories that deal with tragedy, try Ten Tiny Breaths (Ten Tiny Breaths Series #1) by K A Tucker

Ten Tiny Breaths (Ten Tiny Breaths, #1)

I’ll admit, I was worried Kacey was going to be an overly angsty given her past but she is so likeable. This story does a great job of showing the effects drunk driving can have on an individual and family. It’s gritty and real and has a strong plot that readers will enjoy.

If you like dark love romances, try Black Iris by Leah Raeder

Black Iris

This story isn’t for everyone! It definitely has mature subject mature in its revenge plot that will make people uncomfortable. But, it is such a unique story that readers will appreciate if they invest the time.

If you like sport romance stories, try The Deal (Off-Campus Series #1) by Elle Kennedy

The Deal (Off-Campus, #1)

There are a ton I could have picked for this but 1) I have a soft spot for hockey players (I’m Canadian, it’s in my blood) and 2) it’s just a really well done NA romance. It has everything: a fantastically likeable characters, a strong plot and a swoon worthy romance. It’s a winner!

If you like fake dating relationship stories, try Charade (Games Trilogy #1) by Nyrae Dawn

Charade (Games, #1)

What drew me to this story was the fake boyfriend angle but there is SO MUCH more to this story! These two have such great individual stories but together, their relationship is AMAZING! You’ll laugh, you’ll swoon and you will most definitely cry. And Nyrae Dawn writes some of the best New Adult stories around.

If you like stories with strong character growth, try Crushed (Redemption Trilogy #1) by Lauren Layne

Crushed (Redemption, #2)

I’ll admit, I didn’t like either of these leads when I first started the book but their individual growth was fantastic. By the end, not only was I rooting for them but I could actually respect them as characters.

If you want a high school-new adult bridging novel, try Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits Series #1) by Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, #1)

Ok, I tried really hard not to repeat any titles from my previous list but I just HAD to include this one. It reads like a NA novel in terms of the maturity but features high schoolers; an unlikely combination. But this story is so compelling and will definitely tug on your heart strings. Warning though, it is a darker read so be sure you are in the right mood!

If you like small towns stories, try the Sea Breeze Series by Abbi Glines

Breathe (Sea Breeze, #1)

The appeal of a small town is that you get to know all the characters in the subsequent novels and that things also move at a different pace. I could have easily picked Glines’ Rosemary Beach series (it was on my previous list) but this one doesn’t have the often soap-opera-esque drama that is in Rosemary Beach. It’s just a really cute series that you will devour as soon as you start.

If you like “loved you since high school” romances, try Just a Little Crush (Crush Trilogy #1) by Renita Pizzitola

Just a Little Crush (Crush, #1)

I love the idea that the person you secretly crushed on in high school was crushing on you at the same time. Now, maybe years later, you meet again and your crushes are revealed. It’s just an adorable premise to me. This one is your typical NA romance, the bad boy player meets his match in an innocent girl. Yes, some aspects were predictable but they characters are likeable and the formula simply works to make an enjoyable read.

If you want a story that starts as YA but ends as NA, try Slammed (Slammed Trilogy #1) by Colleen Hoover

Slammed (Slammed, #1)

To be clear, Slammed is YA and it’s sequel Point of Retreat is NA. But Slammed is a fabulous story about family and first love. It reads like YA but it’s just so well done. Not a surprise, since Colleen Hoover is the queen of fantastically heart-wrenching stories (in my opinion).

If you like stories that are sweet not sexy, try For Everly by Raine Thomas

For Everly

I could have easily picked this for the sports rec, but I thought it worked better for the slow burn, sweet romance. It’s all about the connection for these two and learning to trust. It also has a bit of a suspense element to the plot which rounds out this fantastic novel.

If you just want a really good book, try Until It’s Right by Jamie Howard

Until It's Right

Without a doubt, any of Jamie Howard‘s titles are fantastic for those who want to dip their toes into the NA genre. Her Love Unplugged series is one of my favourites! But this was the first novel of hers I read and I LOVED it. The characters are so real; the romance just melts you heart and the story is just so good. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll feel every emotion. It’s just a beautiful story and one that I consider to be NA at its finest.

Honestly, it was hard to stop this post after 16 recommendations! I have so many lists of my favourite tropes and what novels have them. So if you are looking for something specific, feel free to ask.

Are you a New Adult fan? Why or why not?

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Self-Hosting: A 6 Month Reflection


In February 2016, I made the decision to move my blog to a self-hosted site. It was a big decision for me and one that came with a lot of learning curves.

Which is why I thought it would be a good idea to do a 6-month reflection and see if I am happy with my choice.

What I Love

–Manipulating my Theme–

One of the biggest reasons I switched was the desire to have full control over my theme. I really wanted to be able to customize it however I wanted and after a lot of searching I found the theme that works.

I’m not sure if I totally love it but it’s pretty close to what I want. Over the last few months, I’ve had to work out some kinks (like a grid system that cuts off images or why my images weren’t lining up straight) but I think I’ve got a good handle on it all now.

–The Plug-ins–

There are SO MANY PLUG-INS! It’s a little overwhelming! And trying to find what I’m looking for exactly can be difficult. I’ve tested out quite a few until I found the ones that work best but sometimes, it’s touch and go.

I don’t really have any plug-ins that help with my actual blog-posts though. One reason is the fact that the good ones cost money that I don’t really want to spend. The other is that I enjoy inputting the meta data for my posts and because I follow a pretty specific format, the ones currently out there don’t meet my needs.

–I can have HTML Sliding Galleries!!!–

You might have seen it on my home page but I am super excited I have more freedom with embedded features like video, slideshows and the like!

The Bummers

–Getting Followers–

One thing I wish I thought a little more about was “follow” buttons. I really took for granted the fact that as a blog on WordPress.com, it automatically pops up for users when they view my blog.

Yeah–not so much on a self-hosted blog!

I learned how to get a WordPress.com follow widget and now I have that. I’ve also promoted following my blog on Bloglovin’ more.

Since I made the switch, my follower numbers have stayed the same. Honestly, it sucks. However, I’ve seen growth on my Bloglovin’ followers which is great. But my main concern is that my blog lacks the options for people to follow.

–I Forgot my WordPress.com Blog Still Exists!–

My domain was originally purchased through WordPress.com where domain mapping (essentially rerouted people from my wordpress.com address to my .com address) was a part of my package. So in April (when it expired), my old wordpress.com blog was popping up! What really sucked was that I had a form for contacts and people had contacted me on that and I didn’t know!

So I scrambled to make sure everything was rerouted so people weren’t following a “dead” blog!

–Issues with CommentLUV–

While CommentLUV seems to work on my blog for commenters, I’ve run into issues while commenting on other blogs because of how my blog feed is set on my page. Because my blog opens on a home page and not my feed, sometimes CommentLUV struggles to find my latest post.

Am I Sticking With It?

Well, I paid for a year so yes 😛

Honestly, I’m a little on the fence. We’ll see how the last half of my year goes (I’m going to adulting soon by joining the workforce) and how much of my time I can allot to blogging and reading.

I know I don’t use self-hosting to its max in terms of the tools available for book bloggers so that influences my experience. I’m also really cheap and would rather spend my money on books (especially once I lose my library card for where I go to school).

But at this time it’s a wait and see.

I’m happy to say, I’ve (finally) launched my mini-guide to self-hosting complete with help links!

Check it out here:


What are your thoughts on Self-Hosting?

What problems have you run into?

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SERIESous Tips: Avoiding the “Chore” of Reading


I would categorize myself as a “mood reader”. While what I actually read varies, the cycle I follow is pretty much YA non-contemporary, NA contemporary then back to YA. Sometimes I throw in an Adult Contemporary along the way and if I feel brave enough, I might risk a YA contemporary but I’m a creature of habit.

Still, last year I went through more reading slumps that I ever had before.

While it wasn’t one of those slumps that turned me off of reading completely, it was one of those slumps where I just wanted a book to take me away; to get me so absorbed in its story and characters I would drop everything and read it all day long. Eventually I would find it, but it took longer than I thought and I hated the infrequency in which it would happen.

movies man question frustration taio cruz

So last year, I took a good hard look at my reading practices. I came to the conclusion that I was requesting too many books. Whether these books were from the library or through review programs, I was asking for too many.

It was draining.

Instead of being excited to finally get that book in my hands, I felt obligated to read it and finish it before I had to return it or publish a post. And because I am of the mentality that you should “seize every opportunity”, I had a huge list of books I had to get through on a regular basis. So while the books I had were ones I wanted to read at some point, I felt like I was forcing that “point” to be now.

I wanted to change that.

First, I started by telling myself that it was OK that I didn’t read every book that I could get my hands on. Books will always be there and just because I don’t read it now, doesn’t mean I can’t read it later.

I think that is the most important lesson a book blogger and book addict can learn.

It’s OK to say “no” to requests if you aren’t interested or don’t have the time. It’s OK to not grab that book from the library even though it is staring you in the face and you think it is a sign that you have to read it because why-else-would-it-be-there-right-now-in-this-moment…

Hey, I said it’s OK–not that it was easy!

Next, I did a series of posts called “Tackling The TBR” where I came up with specific goals I wanted to accomplish every two months. Overall, I thought it went really well. I was at the place I wanted to be heading into January this year. I had limited the number of books out from the library, controlled the need to hit the “request” button on Netgalley and shifted my focus to reading more books I had purchased instead of the ones I borrow or get for reviews.

And I needed a new way of keeping track of what I was reading in order to do that.

When I was creating my tracking sheet, I had to have a way to keep track of TBR items for Rock My TBR, my 365 Days of YA Challenge, the Netgalley requests I received and what books I was going to put on hold at the library (as per my 2016 resolutions). I played around with Excel cells until I got what I currently use.

Now, this is how I keep track of what I plan to read on a monthly basis:


By having a limited number of books that I can take out from the library or request, I find that I have more time to read those TBRs I’ve been putting off PLUS I have the freedom to be a “mood reader” and grab what I want to read, when I want to read it and not simply because it is expiring soon.

But by no means is this a perfect plan or system!

January this year went really well but February hit and I seemed to go a little off course. Part of the problem was I signed up to be a Blog Tour Host which meant more deadlines and books to read. School also became a lot busier than I anticipated so my reading time diminished. As a result, my challenges for this year took a bit of a nose dive.

Luckily, the challenges I set or signed up for are pretty flexible and so I planned to have some lull months. Honestly, my summer semester was/is so much lighter (I only have class 3 days a week) that it was easy to make up a lot of my reading.

In Short: What do to if Reading Becomes a Chore?

  • Look at your reading patterns:
    • Are you reading too many ARCs or Library Books?
      • Maybe tone-down the number of requests.
    • Are you only reading a particular genre?
      • Try changing it up!
  • Learn to say “No” or “Not Right Now”
    • Reduce the number of Review Copies or deadlines you request
  • Plan out those reads with a deadline in advance
    • Be sure to include some books you really want to read in that list to keep you satisfied
  • Read multiple books at once or read a set amount of pages/chapters a day
    • If you have a book you can’t get through, set mini-goals for each day


Share Your Thoughts!

How do you beat the “chore” or reading? Do you wing what books you read or are you a planner? How have you tried to avoid reading slumps?

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SERIESous Tips: Scheduling Blog Posts


Why Schedule Posts?

When I see another blogger mention that one of their goals is to schedule their posts, I’m always a little taken aback. I’ve been scheduling posts since I started blogging 3 years ago and have never looked back–it’s just routine for me now!

I get it though. There is something so satisfying about writing a post and immediately sharing it with the world. Your thoughts and feelings are still fresh on your mind and you get that satisfaction of unleashing them on the world.

But sometimes, I don’t have that luxury. School eats up a lot of my time so I don’t always have the chance to write something the same day I would ideally like to publish it. Scheduling posts has saved my ass quite a few times when it comes to making sure I have content regularly on my blog. Especially if I go through a “blogging spree” where I just churn out posts like a boss. (Ironically, this is always around exam time :P)

I don’t like posting something everyday simply for the sake that I couldn’t possibly write that many posts in a year (props to those that do!). I like spacing out my reviews and my features. I don’t like having 5 discussion posts in a row nor do I like scheduling two brand new series reviews on the same day or week. I also have features that I only do on a monthly or seasonal basis so I need to make sure I stay on top of those. It’s also really helpful to know when I can squeeze in a blog tour or two 😉

Basically, I like having a posting schedule to make sure I have a decent number of posts on a weekly (and therefore, monthly) basis. It helps me stay organized and makes me feel better and less frazzled when it comes to my blogging (especially when I know I won’t be able to create new posts during the week).

How I Schedule My Posts:

I know lots of people use a pen and paper method to keep track of posts and books to read, but I found that too hard to maintain. Partly because I always lose my planner somewhere on my desk and mostly because I change my posting dates all. the. time. Since I schedule posts well in advance (usually 2 months later), I often move those posting dates around when I get new requests and the like. My planner becomes a disaster of crossed-out or heavily erased marks and the neat-freak in me can’t handle it.  I needed something that was easy to change when I needed to change it.

And so, I created a Word Document that uses a calendar template:


At first, I just used it to keep track of posts and library due dates. Then, when I started requesting from NetGalley, I had to keep track of those dates as well (see my post on tracking ARCs). So it has definitely become more colourful over the last few months.

Different colours mean different things (ex. purple means it is a post I have to finish writing whereas black means it is good to go) as does the position of the title (ex. centred at the top means a library/request title whereas bottom left is blog post).

I also really like that I can see things as a whole month. It makes scheduling posts so much easier because I can see the bigger picture and not just what I have posting later in the week. AND, it makes meeting reading deadlines a lot easier too. Now that I’ve reduced the number of books I get from the library and my ARCs, I can take a glance at my calendar and see what books I need to read in the next week or so. If you follow me on Goodreads, you might see that my “Currently Reading Shelf” has at least 3 books on it. Normally, I’m not reading 3 books at a time; rather, these are the books that are next on my reading schedule as per my Word calendar.

It’s probably complicated for someone who isn’t me (trust me, it took me a while to get use to it all too) but it really has become a part of my everyday blogging routine. Like I said earlier, I have other methods of keeping track of the particulars (like Trello) but this Word Document is definitely my master list of what is happening for my blog.


Do you schedule your posts?

How do you keep track of everything for your blog?

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