June 23, 2018

June 19, 2018

I am a HUGE fan of book to movie adaptations.

Sure, there's always the chance of a terrible adaptation, but I still get really excited when I hear a favorite book is being made into a movie. (And sometimes, the book getting a movie deal is what finally pushes me to read it -- before the movie releases, of course.)

The process of turning a book into a movie fascinates me. Everything from costume to storyboarding to casting to script writing. But my favorite thing is figuring out why the writers make the changes they did. (Sometimes the answers are obvious and practical. Sometimes they're baffling.)

That is why I've started "Read the Book", a new video series on my BookTube channel that will discuss a different book/movie pair in each episode. From YA contemporary to high fantasy, I look forward to rereading and rewatching old favorites, as well as discovering new faves.

This month, I'll be discussing Howl's Moving Castle. Next month... Well, that's a surprise, isn't it? You'll have to watch tomorrow's episode if you're curious (it's not what you would expect). I'll also be announcing the next month's book on my Twitter and Instagram. You are welcome to join in on my read/watch-a-long. If you have a copy of the book or movie handy (or both, both is good) there's still time to tackle them before the weekend to catch-up.

If you want to know more, be sure to check out the first episode:

And that brings us to why we're here: I need your help.

There are so many books that have been made into movies, it's a little overwhelming, so I'd love some input about I should go next. As I've already mentioned, July's combo is already decided, but I'm taking suggestions for August and beyond. I want y'all's opinion on what books to read first, so please drop down in the comments and let me know what your favorite book-to-movie journey is.

A couple of quick guidelines:
1. It has to be out on DVD, so no movies from this year. (Don't worry, I'll be getting to those next year.)

2. If it's a book I've already read this year, I won't be rereading it again in 2018. You can look at my Goodreads if you want to double check.

3. There are certain genres and authors I won't be touching. Erotica squicks me out, so I won't be covering any books/movies from that genre. I'm also staying away from any authors accused of sexual assault (Jay Asher, Daniel Handler, Sherman Alexie, etc.) until such a time that they are either proved innocent or they show a genuine effort to change.

Pretty much everything else is game. So, please, suggest away.

And thank you. I always appreciate y'all's presence on my blog.

June 18, 2018

June 16, 2018

I gave Not If I Save You First 4 of 5 stars.

1 badass girl + 1 ex-best friend + 1 creepy dude = Fun times in the wilds of Alaska.

Oh, and watch out for the bears.

June 14, 2018

June 13, 2018

Now, I cannot claim Instagram expertise, but I do know some things.

Nine months ago, I rebranded my Twitter and Instagram to match the YouTube channel I was launching: MargaretTheWordN3rd. (Have you checked it out yet? You should check it out.) Since then, I've watched videos and read blogs posts, trying to figure out what makes Instagram tick. As far I can tell, no one really knows the answer (including the company themselves, to all appearances).

I was tired of the lackluster response I was getting to my photos, so I wanted to know what I could do to grow my following and increase engagement. The answer, for me, was two-pronged: I need to take better pictures and I needed to be better at Instagram. I'm still working on both of those, but I wanted to share some of the things I've discovered.

Today, I'll be sharing five things that I think have helped me jump out of the rut I was stuck in and grown my average likes from the mid-twenties to nearly sixty.

Tip #1: Pick a theme
When I first started arranging my pictures, I tried to theme the entire picture -- from props to backdrop -- to the book I was photographing. Because I don't have a lot of bookish props, that ended up making my feed look messy and inconsistent. And building each photo took forever. So I decided to choose a theme for each month. For me, that means choosing a color scheme each month (purple for May, yellow and orange for June) and buying flowers and props that fit into that spectrum. It allows me to add in other props if I have them while maintaining a cohesive feed. This is probably one of the biggest factors in the increase I've seen in engagement. My photos just look better now.

Behold how sad my pics used to be
Voila! Much better!

Tip #2: Give your days a theme
Whether you take photos every day or you knock a whole week's worth in one go, I think you'll agree choosing which books to feature is the hardest part of bookstagram is figuring out which books to take a pic (or, restraining yourself from posting twelve pictures of the same book). Themed days help me narrow down my choices. For example, I turned Fridays into #freshreadsfridays (an original hashtag thank you very much), for books I read recently and loved. Some Wednesdays I take advantage of the already established #writerwednesday to talk about some of my favorite writers. When I'm not doing a challenge (we're getting there), having themed days are invaluable to planning my feed.

Tip #3: Find your hashtags
I am not a big brand, so hashtags are the main way other bookstagrammers can find me. For each type of photo I do (reading or writing), I have a list of twenty hashtags saved on my phone's clipboard. It hits all the big points but leaves room for me adding specific hashtags for whichever book or quote I'm posting. I do include a few big ones (#amreading, #amwriting, #yabookstagram), but those tags are far too crowded to be of much use. So I find tags where I have a shot at landing (and staying) in the top posts. I did this by searching the larger hashtags and then checking all the related tags until I found a good few that met my criteria.

Tip #4: Interact with people
Hashtags are great, but they only get me so far. I've found the more I engage in the hashtags I'm using, the better response I tend to get. So I always take a few minutes to pull up my most recent post and scroll through a tag or two, liking and commenting as I go. I try to make each comment meaningful. I answer questions if they ask them. Compliment the photo. Gush about the book. I try to dish out the kind of engagement I'm looking for. I also switch over from top posts to recent posts. Partly because I know I'm more likely to have meaningful interactions with bookstagrammers closer to me level. And partly because it's easy to feel unseen when you're smaller (like me), so I make sure to support the little guy.

Tip #5: Join a challenge
Bookstagram challenges provide prompts for each day of the month, making scheduling your feed easier and boosting your engagement. If you're curious what this looks like, check out #BookQueensJune18 and #AllTheBooksJune18. Those are just two of the challenges I'm participating in. I look for between four and six challenges to participate in because I don't do every day for each challenge. Sometimes it's because I don't find a prompt inspiring. Sometimes because I don't have a book that matches that prompt. Either way, don't feel you have to participate in every day to reap the benefits. And once I've posted, I make sure to use Tip #4, it's probably the other big factor in my account's growth over the last month or so.

There you go. That is everything I have learned recently about upping my bookstagram game. It really helped be get out of the rut and improve my engagement with my followers, which is what Instagram is ALL about. Below, you'll find some YouTube videos about this subject that helped me and please, if you've found any tips that work, drop them down in the comments. I'm always looking for ways to improve my feed.

Resources that helped me:

General info- Bookstagram on a Budget 

On recent algorithm changes- Bookstagram Beware

Finding hashtags- Instagram Hashtags

Getting followers- 25 Tips to Get More Instagram Followers

June 6, 2018

June 6, 2018

Happy Writer Wednesday, y'all.

I know, long time no see. Real life and a case of blogger's block kind of derailed last month's blogging routine (or at least my attempts at one). I have, however, made some progress in other writerly departments and I wanted to share some of that experience.

So, if you've been around here for a bit you know that editing my work in progress has been a bit like wrestling a crocodile. Things got messy, all the best-laid plans went awry, frustration abounded. Basically, the human was losing. So out of desperation, I decided to try something.

Something I hadn't done in a looooooooong time.

I decided to go back to writing longhand.

And it worked. I put that pencil to the paper and it was like someone waved a magic wand. Poof! The crocodile became a cuddly bunny. Okay, more like a moody housecat, but you get the picture.

I've heard that changing things up in your routine can help with blocks, so I always look for new programs like novlr or Write or Die, but until last month it never occurred to me to glance back.

All the way back. To high school.

All of my early writing was longhand. Sometimes with a pen. Sometimes with a pencil. Almost always with the notebook upside down because I am left-handed and that inch margin at the top is exactly the number of lines that always ended up unused when the paper was right side up. My family had a desktop (with a floppy drive) and I would type up my stories (and essays) once they were finished, but my writing program of choice was a nice, light, portable spiral bound notebook.

Maybe it was the call back to those early writing days. Or maybe I was accessing a different area of my brain. I don't know. Something about putting that pencil to paper freed whatever was stuck inside me. In a matter of days, the chapter I'd been struggling over for weeks was finished. Of course, then I had to take the time type it all into my Google Doc, but all magic comes with a price. And it still took less time than trying to struggle on my laptop.

For my most recent chapter (a new one that I'm adding to tie a few things together), I did try writing on the computer again, but I quickly was back in my notebook. It just seems to be what is working for me right now.

And yes, it's a little annoying that I'll have to type everything up when I'm finished. But you know what's not annoying? Finishing the darn book.

And, thanks to some old friends, it looks like I might do that sometime this decade.