Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday Spotlight #4: Words on Paper

Hello and welcome to the third edition of Saturday Spotlight here at I Write, I Read, I Review. This is the place where I invite fellow book bloggers to chat about all of the awesome things going on within their own slice of the book blogging pie. And do I have a treat for you this week! Please join me in welcoming Tracey from Words On Paper. :)

Kathy: Thanks so much for joining us today. Now let's get right to the good stuff, shall we? So, why did you start blogging?

Tracey: Well, technically Words on Paper isn’t my first blog. I also write about health, fitness, nutrition, and food on my blog, I’m {Not} Superhuman, though I’m on sabbatical. (And by sabbatical I mean an unpaid leave of absence. But sabbatical sounds way more fun, right?)

Anyhow, I started that blog because I’ve been living with chronic pain, which can make you feel kind of alone. So part of the reason was selfish: for me to find other people who could relate. The other reason was that I really wanted to help other people living with chronic pain. Turns out, having online friends in general—whether they were healthy or not—helped me.

So I was all mushy-gushy about the blog friends I’d made, which is why I decided to create Words on Paper when I finished writing my first novel. And, yeah, I was blown so far away by the amazing community of writers and readers that I ended up in Tanzania. (Okay, fine. I gently stretched the truth. But that so would have happened if I lived in a Warner Bros. cartoon.)

Kathy: What do you guys view as your greatest accomplishment as book bloggers?

Tracey: So one of my biggest accomplishments in the writing and reading community really doesn’t have to do with my blog. I’m most proud of helping arrange the Read for Relief auction, which raised over $10,000 for the Red Cross’ relief efforts post-hurricane Irene.

It does have to do with being a blogger, though, since I would never have met the three amazing ladies I worked with on Read for Relief had it not been for my blog. I think that’s what I love most about this community: everyone’s kindness and willingness to help others.

After that, there are a couple posts I most enjoyed. The first came about when I asked my readers to give their best writing advice. I compiled them all into a post (the link:, which is useful for both newbie and longtime writers alike.

Lastly—and I’m picking this one simply because it was fun—my readers and I played a game of what if in the comments. I prompted them: What if there was world peace? And each comment had to add to the last. I went through the comments and created a query letter from the story they created. It was so cool to see that something a bunch of random people had one line of say in could turn out the way it did. Here’s the result:

Kathy: What advice would you give to other bloggers?

Tracey: As someone who reads book blogs, I really appreciate honest reviews. I know that a lot of writers avoid writing harsh reviews because, you know, what if the author’s agent or editor could potentially be yours in the future and, oh, would they find that review? And, besides, that author is your colleague. And I feel the same way. If I really dislike a book, I won’t review it on my blog.

But for those of you who aren’t writers and don’t have to worry about that sort of thing, I think being honest is a great quality in a book blog. I mean, you can only hear so many times that all of the books a person reads are impossibly awesome before you start questioning a) that person’s taste in books or b) whether that person’s telling the truth.

One more tip. This is the part where I wish I were really into HTML or something else mildly useful to you. But I’m not, so you might have to make do with hearing stuff you learned, like, four semesters ago.

I’m going to pretend it didn’t take me an eternity to learn this when I started my health blog. )You should go along with the lie.) Here’s an easy way to add an image to your sidebar—say, a homemade badge or social media icons—and link it to something else.

1. Start a new post.
2. Add an image (or images) to the post.
3. Make the image(s) hyperlink to wherever you want them to go.
4. Copy the HTML.
5. Click over to “design” in Blogger. (See below for Wordpress instructions.)
6. Add a sidebar by clicking “add a gadget” and picking HTML.
7. Paste the HTML into the box and save.
8. Save the design, then check your site for the update.

If you use Wordpress, follow instructions above through step 4. Then:

6. Click over to “widgets.”
7. Look for “text” and then click “add this.”
8. Paste the HTML into the box.
9. Set the position of the link via the pull-down tabs.
10. Save the design then check your site for the update.

Kathy: Care to share some of the blogs you love to visit?

Tracey: I have three, but my most favorite is Phoebe North’s blog (link: Not only does she write detailed critiques of the book, but she loves sci-fi and is as honest as a nun. Basically, she’s got the trifecta of awesome in my book. Before I pick up a new book, I always double check whether Phoebe’s read it or not. Because she won’t just say, “I couldn’t get into this” or “Eh, I wasn’t feeling it.” She’ll explain exactly what’s wrong with the book and usually she’s spot on.

Plus, her reviews are so detailed that I feel like I’m getting a writing lesson (What Not to Do) at the same time. If you don’t already, friend her on Goodreads (link: I love reading her reviews before deciding.

Next up: Forever Young Adult (link: They’re definitely honest—though the reviews are more like something a group of girls or guys might write down while binge drinking. That, of course, makes them absolutely hilarious. Take, for instance, this gem, in which the blogger is talking about SHOUT OUT by Kody Keplinger and, in particular, the main character, Lissa.

“I just don’t particularly like her. We don’t really have anything in common, being that she’s afraid of, well, everything. Plus, I get that she feels like she needs to take care of her brother and father after her mother died in the car accident that left her dad paralyzed, but LORD, Lissa. That doesn’t mean you get to nag your TWENTY SIX year old brother about taking out the trash or phoning home to tell you when he’s going to be late. LET IT GO, CHILD.”

Yeah, pretty awesome even if you don’t agree with the review. I should caution you though, it’s not smart to drink while reading the Forever Young Adult blog. Also, orange juice hurts coming out of your nose.

Finally, I just heard about That Cover Girl (link: a week or two ago—it's very possible you're laughing at the fact that I've never heard of her) but I already love it. The mysterious blogger (she only goes by That Cover Girl) posts YA book covers and dissect them often with humor, interviews authors about how the process their cover went through, and interviews graphic designers about book covers.

Kathy: What fabulous thing(s) are you doing on your blog right now? Got anything awesome planned for the future?

Tracey: Glad you asked. Last month I started the Fall Book Club, which is online. Plus side: Anyone can join, and I’d love to have you. Downside: I’m unable to serve tea and cookies and sandwiches. Sigh.

Right now, we’re still deciding on our October book, so if you’re interested in joining, stop by and vote for what you’d like to read.

Here’s the basic gist of it. Each month I ask readers of my blog to leave a comment with their suggestion for the next book of the month. Once all of the suggestions are in, I create a poll that readers vote on. When I announce the winner, we all start reading. At the end of the month, I host the book club. I write a review on my blog, and everyone leaves a link to their own review. That way we all go blog hopping (sorry, no food provided for this either) and see what everyone else thought of the book.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Kathy: Alright. We've done a lot of talk about blogging. Now let's get to the good stuff. Books! First up: I'm sure you've read lots of books. Is there one you really love? A book you would feel confident in calling an absolute must read? why do you love it? What makes it great?

Tracey: Just one? I’m one of those people who, when a friend asks for a recommendation, lists 15 books and says, “You NEED to read these.” I suppose that could be overwhelming. Not to mention annoying. So if we’re talking YA books and I could only choose one to recommend, I think I’d go with The Hunger Games. Which is actually a three-book series, so even now I didn’t choose just one. I have problems.

I didn’t pick it because I enjoyed the book (which I most certainly did), but because it gets non-readers reading. I can’t tell you the number of times someone has told me they don’t like to read (by the way, every time someone says this, a fairy dies) and I’ve begged that they read the first book. “Just give it a try and if you don’t like it, then that’s that.” I’m sure most of you can guess how that turns out. So I have all of these former reading-haters plowing through books because The Hunger Games let them know that, yes, books can be fun.

Kathy: I definitely agree with you about the broad appeal for The Hunger Games. I got my brother and my boyfriend to both read the entire trilogy. They might be more obsessed with it then I am. (Possibly because I read so many books? Just a guess.)

Tracey: And because I’m already a cheater, I’ll throw out other favorites: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, Chime by Franny Billingsley [link to my review:], If I Stay by Gayle Forman, and anything by Sir John Green.

Kathy: Sir John Green, hm? I enjoyed Will Grayson, Will Grayson and I really need to get a book where he did not write with someone else to see how he does on his own. I'm optimistic. :)

Kathy: As book bloggers we are constantly reading new books and finding those that we really enjoy. Has there been a book that you've read recently that you've loved and would recommend? Why do you love it? What makes it great?
Tracey: I recently read Lola and the Boy Next Door. All I have to say about this is sa-woon.

Kathy: I'm reading that next. It's sitting there waiting for me.

Tracey: Okay, I have more to say. If you liked Anna and the French Kiss, you’ll like Lola. Trust me. Stephanie Perkins’ second story’s just as adorable as her debut, and I’m thoroughly convinced she writes the most crush-worthy boys. But really, this book is great for anyone who loves YA romances. It’s perfectly paced, the setting’s vivid, and the characters are no less than awesome. It gave me the same everything-is-right-with-the-world feeling I got while reading Anna.

I’ve also recently read (and totally loved) Sweethearts by Sara Zarr [link to my review:] and Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler [link to my review:]. As you can see, I’ve been on both a contemporary kick—and a Sara(h) kick.

Kathy: And then there are all of those books that are coming out in the future. It never really stops. So, what upcoming book are you dying to read? What about it has you excited? And what crazy, zany thing would you do if it meant you could have it *right now*? :D

Tracey: Oh goodness, there are so many I’m dying to get my hands on. There are the big ones that have been hyped up for a while: Legend by Marie Lu, Incarnate by Jodi Meadows, and Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, all of which sound really good. I’m also excited to read Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare, Fracture by Megan Miranda, Catching Jordan by Miranda Kennelly, Wintertown by Stephen Emond, and Fever, Lauren DeStefano’s sequel to Wither.

Kathy: Yes, I am anxiously awaiting Fever, too. I must know what happens next.

Kathy: Okay! Now it's your turn to ask everyone a question. :)

The lesser of two evils. ;) Or I just like unicorns?
Tracey: Kathy, I’m not sure you understands the severity of telling me to “be creative” and “have fun” with this question. However, I take no responsibility in the silliness that ensues in your comments section. My go-to question:

Would you rather have a unicorn horn sticking out of your forehead or two little feet dangling from your chin?

Kathy: Definitely the unicorn horn. Unicorns have the bonuses of being cute and their horns often have magical powers. Plus, wouldn't that make me some kind of anthro creature? If I'm really lucky, I might even have the power to transform into a full fledged unicorn -- which depending on whether you get technical, means I might be able to fly. (Some might argue that this is pegasus exclusive, but I'm neutral on that.)

Kathy: So, was there anything else you'd like to say?

Just say no.
Tracey: Well, what kind of guest would I be if I didn’t thank the hostess? (And I didn’t even bring her a bottle of wine. I’m ashamed at my rudeness.) So, thank you Kathy for inviting me here to chat. And thank you, her lovely, lovely readers for reading.

Also, please leave a comment or I'll feel shunned and probably take to the bottle (of chocolate syrup) and that never ends well.

Kathy: Thanks so much for being my guest here today for Saturday Spotlight. :) I think we had a great talk and I think my poor wishlist just got even bigger. (Psst! That's not suppose to happen!)

So, what's your answer to Tracey's totally off the wall and crazy question? :D Are you looking forward to any of the books she is? And have you signed up for the Fall Book Club? (You really should.) I love comments and I really don't think we want Tracey abusing the chocolate syrup, so make sure to share your thoughts. Thanks for reading. :) 


Thanks for visiting my blog. I love comments! Please feel free to tell me what you think about my blog and the things I am posting. I enjoy hearing what others think. :)

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