My First Official Book Blogger Meet-Up

I thought I´d never see the day come when I´d willingly go to a book blogger meet-up. Yet, here I am- having survived what I´d call `Therapy For Book Bloggers`. Ha, just kidding.

 

 

So, yeah, I went to one of those meet-ups. As in- I actually squeezed my derriére in a pair of long-forgotten & unloved jeans and left the comfort of my four walls. Because I was invited. And what do you do when someone asks you to grace their party with your presence? You go.

Usually, when people talk about book blogger get-togethers, all I hear about is how nice they were.

“I had a really nice time.” Is what I get to hear. Now, for me, that statement can mean a lot of things. `Nice` could be the little sister of shit, for all I know.  It could be a genuine response though, as well. Who knows. I was never apart of any book blogger meet-up before.

There´s one reason why I never joined any book blogger evenings. I live in Germany. This country isn´t exactly known for being a book blogger hotspot. I´m sure there are tons of book bloggers here but they´re not as widely spread or make themselves known.

Besides- Me, an older American speaking book blogger fossil who blogs in English about romance novels? Most book bloggers I know are 20-something innovative spring chickens who aren´t dying to spend time with a 37-year-old. Mainly because I´m… old.

 

 

Well, someone I know thought it was a good idea to have me at a book blogger get-together. So, I went. And what happened was far more awesome than I could´ve ever imagined.

  1. Eight book bloggers, myself included. I only knew one person and she was the one who dragged me to the party. All 7 book bloggers blogged about different genres, which was such a relief to know. As I later found out, the others were just as relieved. I was the only romance book blogger.
  2. Book bloggers usually have the reputation of being introverts. Shy, quiet, always reading. The bunch I met with were far from introverted. Jesus Christ and his twelve buddies… I was surrounded by a group of bookish extroverts and I loved every minute of it.
  3. I wasn´t the oldest or the youngest of the bunch. Normally, large age differences don´t bother me. You can always find some common ground with a person. There´s only a problem when a large age gap shows. And this time I was terrified. I mean- I´ll meet with younger book bloggers but 7 of them? What if they´re all still in school? Conversation material will most likely run out quickly since there´s only so much you can talk about ( unless someone is willing to hear about the horrors of adulthood/parenthood and gardening ). This doesn´t mean I think less of younger people. I´m just saying that at some point, an age difference can´t be ignored.  Thankfully, the group I met with was between 29-42 years old. I felt comfortable instead of feeling like a group mother.
  4.  Book talk. We spent quite a lot of time talking about genres and our favorite books. We discussed reviews and discussion posts, stats and followers. The things that mean something to book bloggers. We talked about how we could improve ourselves, our blogs and the community. This happened during dinner.

 

Well, guess what? The minute dinner was over I thought our meet-up was done. It wasn´t. I quickly found out that dinner was only preparation for what was to come- Bar hopping. I had to call the husbutt and tell him there was a good chance the night would have an open end.

To make a long story short: It was 5 a.m when I called my brother to pick me up. He wasn´t happy. But I was ( since he was the only one who picked up his phone at stupid o´clock).

 

 

Where does the book blogger therapy fit into all this? Well, as the drinks kept flowing, the mouths became looser than they already were. The 7 became chattier, myself included. All of a sudden we all complained about nasty comments and crappy books. We developed strategies during cocktail hour on how to eliminate self-proclaimed book editors who cause more damage to self-published authors than not.

Through all the hours spent partying with the book blogger gang I realized a few things:

 

  • German book bloggers are full of surprises ( bookish and non-bookish)
  • Book blogger problems seem to be universal
  • Book bloggers need to meet more often
  • Replacing cocktail names with book titles is GENIUS

 

It´s one thing to vent to your significant other/your parents/your pet. I mean, that works too if no one else is around. Venting online is also good. But to have someone in front of you who actually knows what you´re talking about is something else. I highly recommend book blogger get-togethers because they´re not only fun and informative, they´re also great for your mind´s peace.

One book blogger mentioned a wonderful idea for a blog post and I immediately asked if I could use her idea. I vowed to give credit ( since credit needs to be given ). Her answer:

“Who hurt you?! Girl, you don´t need my permission nor do you need to give credit. We´re only brainstorming. Take the idea. Tweak it, mold it, throw it in the washer and see what happens. Just text me when you upload the blog post.”

 

My reaction.

 

 

That was just one tiny tidbit from the conversations we had. I was also able to take some great advice home to use for my blog.

 

  • Your blog is a reflection of yourself. 
  • If you have an idea get it out there. Don´t waste time overthinking it.
  • You´ll only make others happy if you change your content to avoid hate.
  • Book blog like there´s no tomorrow. 

 

So, yes. I had an awesome time. And yes, I´d gladly participate in another book blogger meet-up, especially with the group I met up with.


 

What about you? Have you been to a book blogger meet-up before? Do you prefer smaller or larger groups to meet? Or would you rather skip the whole thing and stay at home? Let me know in the comments below. Would love to chat. ❤ 

 

As always- Thank you for taking the time to read. I hope you enjoyed.

Share the book love, y´all.

Many hugs,

Morgana

 

The Book Blog Changes

So it begins…

 

I´ve had a good few weeks to prepare for this moment. Many hours of brainstorming were invested into this pimp-my-book-blog project. Now, I think I´m happy with the end results.

Thanks to the harsh critique I received from close friends regarding my blog ( which can be read in my It´s Time For A Book Blog Change blog post ) I was able to see why I was not feeling my online baby. Even if I didn´t like most of the critique that was thrown at me I still understood each point and decided to sit down and think about my blog´s future.

As much as I appreciated the feedback… not everything I was advised to change truly needed a makeover. Which made this somehow a more difficult project than it would´ve been if I were to start from scratch.

Here´s a quick rundown on what the professionals thought needed improvement:

  • everything ( including my blog name ) except my blog content

What a way to kill a book blogger´s mood. So, I began thinking about my blog structure. Since I won´t be changing my blog name I figured I could rethink my setup. The features I currently have are:

Monday:  Mug Monday

Tuesday:  Book Reviews

Wednesday: Discussion Topics

Thursday: Simply Book Covers

Friday: Random

This isn´t a popular book blog schedule as many of the most used themes done by other book bloggers aren´t included ( and probably never will be, but more on that in a future post )

I think uploading five times a week is a lot so I´ve decided to remove a few days. This not only gives me more room for spontaneous posts but also allows more time for research ( should I need to do my homework on certain topics ). Without further ado, my new upload dates will be Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The goal here is not to become overwhelmed by my hobby and to not spam the hell out of everyone.

Good to know is that whatever I deem worthy of uploading on my blog- There will always be a book involved just to keep the connection with the book blog. This means there won´t ever be a post that doesn´t show or at least mention a book.

So without any delay… The new uploading days ( with their touched up features/themes ) will be:

Monday – Mug Feature with either a book-related topic and/or hot beverage & book talk, and/or mentionable stand-out line from a book.

Wednesday – Book reviews. This day will be dedicated to standalone reviews, collective reviews and DNF´d reads. Also, I´ll include a review in a foreign language once a month.

Friday – Book Discussions & Book Findings.

I know. This doesn´t seem like anything ground-breaking. But as I said… This is a touch-up. A rearrangement that fits my schedule a little better. I can preschedule posts better and spread these out more. This, in turn, also gives me more time.

Of course, there will be uploading exceptions every now and again in the future. I´m planning on doing some more Bookstagram recreations and even including book blogger interviews before each major holiday.

Another critique point was the Bitmoji images I´ve been including, with the addition of my self-made graphics. * takes deep breaths * I was told they´re shit. As in shittier than shit. If you want to see me curl up in the fetus position and watch me cry my eyes out just tell me the hours I spent creating banners have been for nothing. Okay. Critique noted. This is why I contacted a photographer friend of mine to help me out a little.

Let´s all bid the Bitmoji´s and self-made banners a farewell and welcome creative book photography ( not the Instagram kind ). I´ll admit that this is the weirdest change for me because these new images that are supposed to represent my book blog will have my face on them. Not every picture but a few for sure. I figured that not many book bloggers like to expose themselves this way so I might as well stand out. If my book blog is going to be judged for its appearance then I might as well expose the face behind it all and have that judged, too.

Now for the blog appearance. I was told that white is the way to go. Simple layouts that offer easy readability. Nothing too flashy. Nothing too dark. Personally, I don´t think I can get things to be simpler than they already are on my blog. So, my layout will remain. The white will stay. The only thing I´ll do is rearrange the menu and clean up the sidebar.

My greatest goal for my “new” book blog is to be as transparent as possible. Aside from spilling a little bookish Tea, I´d love for my book blog posts to help others.

With all this having been said- I think I´m good to go for now. I´m liking the changes I´ve made so far ( they all look fab on paper ). I´m excited to see how they´ll be received. Should all go downhill for whatever reason I can still go back to the same old, right?

Here´s to changes!

 

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. I hope you enjoyed. Get in touch!

Warm book blogger hugs,

Morgana

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I´d Like To See More Of In NA Romance Novels

NA Romance-

If there´s ever been a genre that´s loved and hated in equal proportions then it´s definitely New Adult Romances. NA romance books are often tacky and full of unrealistic, unrelatable fluff no one needs- That´s what I´ve heard.

As a devoted NA Romance reader, I have to agree. There´s often too much of everything often squeezed into 350 pages. These books carry topics any of us would gladly walk away from without batting an eyelash yet we crave these things in our NA romance books. Weird. The usual tropes?  Virgins, rich characters, unrealistic sex, love heals the mentally unhinged, and instalove. In some cases, it´s a combination of all.

 

But do we really crave what NA romances offer?

 

I often wonder what NA romances would be like if there were less drama, less intensity, less cheesiness, less explosiveness. Would it really hurt to give the mountain gorillas disguised as gorgeous and powerful CEOs a break? Do characters always need to have dark pasts for us to love them? No and no.

I also wonder what kind of effect it would have on authors and readers if characters were suddenly 100% relatable. I mean- Let´s take the average Joe. He´s full of flaws and above all- doesn´t have an ass in his weird fitted jeans. He comes home, orders take-out then falls asleep on the sofa before the delivery guy arrives because he just came home after a 12-hour workday. Do authors want to write about your average Joe, who´s life is just as exciting as a slice of toast? Probably not. A reader could mistake them for someone they´re trying to forget while reading. Escapism is a thing.

Authors provide an outlet for readers with their stories. They offer us a way to forget our mundane lives and be a part of something that raises our blood pressure. This is done in the form of exaggeration. By amplifying emotions, reactions, and actions. Things are often so intense that a reader can often thank their lucky stars that average Joe is snoring in the next room.

But, what if…? Is there a possibility people could actually like a romance story they can relate to?  Would it be so terrible to read about an insta-attraction and to watch that form into more rather than being hit with an instalove? Hmm… I think it wouldn´t be terrible at all. Not sure what other readers think, though.

Personally, I like to see less exaggeration and more relatable stuff. Call me dull but sometimes less is more. Less drama can still have a positive effect on readers.

No book character has to lose their job, their best friend since Kindergarten, their left leg and their unborn baby and have to deal with infidelity in 230 pages. Each of these things can be traumatic events on their own if delivered properly and with care. I mean- We often experience chain reactions in life but none as drastic as some authors like to paint out. Or, I´m just a fool living off the grid and have no flipping clue about real-life dramatics. Could be – Who knows. I´m no expert.

Losing your job can have a negative effect on someone´s relationship. This can lead to depression or break a marriage. I can see a second chance romance from this storyline.

You can lose your best friend if that friend has a new relationship that´s toxic. Let a new Hero swoop in and whisk the best friend off her feet.  This can be turned into a New Adult romance that includes abuse.

You can have an accident and be forced to become disabled. This can definitely be traumatic for any romantic relationship. I can see this as a new beginning NA romance.

Pregnancy loss or infertility has been a reason why couples split. Why not include this topic into a romance and draw that cruel event out?

Adultery is another topic that has no problem standing on its own. Cheating isn´t great but authors sure as hell can work this one into a romance and draw it out in a trilogy.

Or how about this: How about writing a  story about a couple who´ve grown apart? Simple. Effective. Realistic. People forget how to love each other if they´ve been together for some time.

 

 

 

I guess what I´m saying is that authors don´t need to stick with the usual tropes. They don´t need to bombard their characters with so much tragedy. One tragic event is enough to send average Joe to therapy.

Speaking of average Joe. He can be a desirable and flawed character if an author´s willing to make their readers see him as such.

Authors don´t need to over-exaggerate events for the sake of wanting to touch a reader´s heartstrings.

Less is often more. Simplicity can have a greater impact on readers than anything too intense.


 

For the record: Yes, I know there are authors who write less dramatic NA romances. Trust me when I say that I´ve read their books. But I think it wouldn´t hurt if more authors tried their luck with something as simple as a simple NA romance.

Also good to know: I´m not fully against overly dramatic NA romances. I´ll still read them if they sound interesting. I prefer simple stories, though. There are quite a few readers who wouldn´t want to change anything about the majority of NA romances… and that´s perfectly fine.

 


 

What do you think? Do you agree? Are NA romances too over the top or do you believe they´re perfect the way they are? What would you like to see more in NA romances?  Let me know in the comments below. I´d love to chat ❤

 


 

As always, I appreciate the time you´ve taken to read this blog post. I hope you enjoyed.

 

Much bookish love,

Morgana

 

 

 

Dear Book Bloggers, It´s okay…

This blog post is dedicated to all the book bloggers out there who feel insecure, unnoticed, misunderstood or wronged by the book blog community. For all the people who just started out and to those who´ve been around for some time… I hope you know that

its okay

 

  • It´s okay to feel frustrated or disappointed when something doesn´t work out. Whether it´s because you were denied the ARC you requested on NetGalley or your name wasn´t picked in a GIVEAWAY you participated in- It´s okay.

 

  • It´s okay if you don´t have a private library or a reading nook. You can still consider yourself a passionate book person and that´s all that counts.

 

  • It´s okay if you don´t have a massive book collection. You´re not any less of a reader if you only own 20 books.

 

  • It´s okay if your reviews aren´t professional. You don´t need an academic degree in order to type up your opinion on a book. Nor do you need any qualifications to be a book blogger.

 

  • It´s okay if you make mistakes. We all mess up once in a while. It doesn´t matter if you have typos/misspellings in your posts or if you accidentally collected incorrect info for your blog posts… It´s not the end of the world.

 

  • It´s okay if you´re not like others. You don´t need to be a carbon copy of someone else. The best you can ever be is yourself. If you copy another blogger you´ll be a shadow- One among many. You are not one of many. You are you.

 

  • It´s okay if your Bookstagram pic can´t compete with other Bookstagram features. Be proud of the content you upload.

 

  • It´s okay if your blog isn´t doing as well as you hoped it would. Growing your book blog can be a tiresome process. Just hang in there. Everything takes time, a little effort and love to grow- So does your blog and online presence.

 

  • It´s okay if you don´t belong to the book clique. Book blogging isn´t high school. You´re doing this for yourself and your following.

 

  • It´s okay if someone doesn´t like your content. You can´t make everyone happy. Besides, that´s not your job.

 

  • It´s okay if you´ve never been to a book signing event. As a book blogger and as a dedicated fan of an author, you´re still relevant.

 

  • It´s okay if you haven´t read any classic literature. You aren´t worthless if you haven´t added Austen to your reading repertoire. You´re a reader with or without the old hams.

 

My dear Book Bloggers,

Always remember- It´s okay. There´s no wrong way to go about book blogging. There are no rules set in stone.

Everything has its advantages and disadvantages. A private library takes up space. If you don´t have a spare room then that´s the way it is. Your reading space is your private comfort zone. Does it matter if your pillows match your cat? No. I don´t give a hoot if your socks are a shade lighter than your drapes and that the book you have wedged between your new fluffy socks matches the bedsheets… So, there´s that.

If you weren´t approved to read an ARC then see that as a blessing rather than a curse. This might mean you can´t have immediate access but it also means you have more time to browse for other books. GIVEAWAYS are often a hopeless case. Believe me when I say that you and hundreds of others are going through the same ordeal.

Many things in the book blogging community are unnecessary and overrated. Find out what works for you and what doesn´t. The important thing is- As long as whatever you do makes you happy then you´re doing something right. If you want to try something new out then go for it. Succeed or fail. Learn from your achievements and mistakes. Read books that make you happy instead of reading what you think others will approve of. Include profanity in your blog posts if you feel the need to or keep things as clean as a whistle if that´s what makes you happy. Don´t let other book bloggers tell you what´s wrong or right. Don´t let them make you feel insecure because they think they have a picture-perfect online presence and you don´t. You don´t need it.

So, it´s okay if your book blogger life has some crooked edges. You´re doing just fine.

Much love,

Morgana

 

 

 

It´s Time For A Book Blog Change

 

Here are a few questions I´ve been asking myself about my blog.

  • Why am I not feeling my blog?
  • Should I change my blog´s theme? 
  • Should I just keep my theme and give my blog a decorative make-over?
  • What about my weekly themes?

 

Was I asking myself these questions because I was slowly getting bored with blogging? No. That´s impossible. Or, maybe it´s not such a far fetched thought. Maybe, deep down, I don´t like my blog. I needed answers. I needed some opinions.

Over the past months, I´ve spoken with a few people about this little first-world problem of mine. People whose opinions I highly value. Some are book bloggers, some are internet gurus who´re basically married to their MacBooks. I wanted to know if they were able to see why I wasn´t feeling my own creations. I asked for each to take a look at my blog and point out what they think needed to be tossed. I asked for them to not hold back with their opinions on my design, my graphics, my layout, and even my weekly themes.

 

I was ready for critique. I wasn´t ready for a full-on bash parade. 

 

What everyone agreed on was the header.  “That´s gotta go.” Of course, I was butt hurt after having heard their critique. “You´re running a book blog. I don´t see any books.”, a few said. I immediately went into defense mode:

“The books are in the content. I have the word `book´ in my blog name.” 

Which brings us to the next critique point. One that had me wishing for a bucket of Ben & Jerry´s chocolate fudge brownie ice-cream.  My blog name.

” Morgana´s Book Box is long. It´s not easy to remember.”, three people kindly pointed out. Okay, fine. I saw their point. Not saying I liked what they said but I got the picture.

“What´s with the bitmoji images?”, a few asked while they took my blog apart. Well, that´s just a smoother version of myself. You know, sans wrinkles, dark circles under my eyes, pimples, skin discoloration, scars… Need I go on? Photoshop is my second worst enemy so… Why not use bitmoji, right?

Needless to say- There was a long list of get-rid-of´s. But why? All I asked for was for them to help me figure out why I wasn´t feeling my blog´s makeup. I took their opinions to heart. My ego was bruised. I bought myself a pint of cookies & cream from Häagen Dasz because I had an emotional emergency. I thought I´d never recover from their honesty. Be honest but don´t fucking slay me.

Six out of six people told me my concept was outdated. Copied, chewed up and dull.

“You´re basically doing what everyone else is doing.” * nod * So is everyone else. Which isn´t a terrible thing. You can only do so much with a book blog.

In hindsight- they were all right.

  • Weekly blog themes work but they don´t work for everyone.
  • Animated selfies are not the real deal.
  • Blogs are personal.

 

The worst part, for me, was when all said they wouldn´t follow my blog if we weren´t close. Which says a lot, if you ask me. They all agreed that my content was decent but that everything else needed more life.

Yes, I´ve been doing this concept for years. It´s a system that´s always worked. Why shouldn´t it continue to work, you know? They had an answer for that, too. One I don´t want to repeat or else I might feel the need to get another pint of ice-cream.

I asked for opinions and that´s exactly what I got. Now, I had two options:

  • Ignore the critique and suggestions on how to improve my blog
  • Think about everything and maybe make a few adjustments

I decided on giving the suggestions that were given to me a try. Some of my friends had great ideas I´d love to try out. Maybe the harsh critique was necessary.

Maybe I have been stuck in an endless book blogging loop. Maybe I need a break. Or a drink. Ice-cream would be good right now.

So, with all that being said, I guess you´ll see some crazy blog changes in the future. It´s definitely worth a try. I´ll probably remove some themes, change my reviews, add some new features… Who knows. Maybe I´ll start feeling my blog again. What I do know is that I won´t be changing my blog name.


 

Let´s chat: Do you think your blog needs a make-over? Have you ever asked for someone´s opinion regarding your blog? Let me know in the comments below. I´d love to discuss this. ❤


 

As always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. I hope you enjoyed.

Have a wonderful day and don´t forget to share the book – love.

Morgana