Crawling Out of Cave Hiatus: What I’ve Been Up to, 2020 Blog Goals (Changes are Afoot…)

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Hello friends!!!

I am crawling out of my hibernation cave like a big grumpy bear in need of more sleep and less stress to say, I’M BACK.

*Poses*

*Scattered applause*

Launching and organizing a book promotion took up much of my time for the past two months (I’ll have to write up my experiences with it sometime in the future), and my energy meter was scraping bottom by the time December was over. Combined with some family drama and mental health issues, and well, 2020 wasn’t exactly off to a roaring start.

But I’ve missed everyone in the community and missed writing posts, and I have some plans slowly cooking up that I’m excited to unveil in the (hopefully!) near future.

So here I am! And with a few 2020 blog goals I’ve set for myself:

 

Healthier Relationship with ARCs and Reviews

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You might recall me moaning about being in a reading slump back in October. Well, the Wendigo quest did NOT go well and my slump continued into early January (ending about a week ago, praise the bookish gods). Zero books were read, ARC or otherwise, and…and it was actually somewhat liberating in a way. At least, it gave me some time to think about what I want as a reviewer/blogger and to remind myself that keeping up with the latest books is not the be-all and end-all. Perspective was kind of, sort of gained.

Here’s the thing. I think ARCs are great. It’s great that publishers are willing to work with reviewers to help promote their authors and form a nice little symbiotic relationship (though sometimes this veers close to less-than-mutual territory–but that’s a topic for another day). And there’s always a feeling of gratification that comes with each accepted request. Like a “You’re #1!” sticker slapped onto my forehead telling me, hey, maybe I’m doing something right with all this.

You know what’s not super great? The stress.

The stress of being behind on ARCs. The stress of not enjoying the ARCs I’m reading and oh god does DNFing 4 books in a row make me a terrible reviewer??Β  I felt guilty about being behind, but didn’t have the energy pick up a different book, and the whole thing started to spiral into a bad cycle. Hence the slump.

And that’s the last thing I want from my blog. I don’t want this to be a space that feeds my brain demons–they’re fat enough already. I want it to be an escape. A place I can feel excited about returning to at the end of the day.

So yes. Healthier relationship with ARCs. The HOW is something I’m still trying to figure out (right now it involves selective requests and reading without taking copious notes), and I’ll definitely have more to say on the subject soon.

 

 

Changes to the Blog and Review Format

*Rubbing hands* There are some changes I’m hoping to roll out in the next few months:

 

1. An overhaul of the blog’s theme

Not the wordpress theme, but rather the foundation(?) of the blog. I guess it’s more accurate to say that I’m going to build the blog’s theme, because right now it doesn’t really have one. At least, not anything cohesive that ties all my posts together.

But there’s an idea that popped into my head a few weeks ago that I just. can’t. stop. thinking about, and I think it’ll be very cool if I can make it work. It’s a little weird and requires some preparation, but I like the challenge and, moreover, I think I can have a lot of fun with it. And that’s the ultimate goal here.

Vague explanations are vague. Stay tuned!

 

2. Mixes of “traditional” long form (word) reviews, and short creative reviews

I love writing reviews. Like…70% of the time. The other 30% is an uncomfortable zone of “What are words?????” and “The only thing I can say about this book is that I have nothing to say about this book.”

I want to stop beating myself by trying to write something I don’t want to write. So I’m gonna experiment with different, less wordy formats. Which means bullet points! Subsections! And art! Because sometimes I can’t dig up 300 words about a book to save my life, but I can think of a dozen ideas for fanart. Which is weird, but hey.

 


 

If there are any posts you wrote in the last two months that you’re super proud of and want to share, please LINK THEM in the comments and I shall do my best to check them out. And I’m not just saying that to be nice. My inbox is in shambles and my reader feed isn’t much better, so please. Help a girl out. πŸ˜›

Wishing everyone a belated happy holidays and a happy 2020! Looking forward to another year of geeking out over fictional worlds with you all~

 

37 thoughts on “Crawling Out of Cave Hiatus: What I’ve Been Up to, 2020 Blog Goals (Changes are Afoot…)

  1. acquadimore says:

    Welcome back!
    I hope you find a balance with ARCs that works for you. I crashed at the end of 2019 for similar reasons and won’t request any ARCs for a while because of that – it all turns into a chore so easily.
    Can’t wait to see what you do with the blog’s theme!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 24hr.YaBookBlog says:

    Welcome back Kathy! πŸ˜πŸ’–πŸŽ‰ I’m on the same page with you about the ARCs, it always feels like release day comes too soon & when I realize that…the stress comes because I haven’t finished it yet! I hope to review in a more timely fashion this year–I’m definitely with you on the goal for review format too, (“What are words???” I agree! πŸ˜‚) I’m hoping to continue improving my reviews! Happy 2020!! πŸŽ‰ *I’m also super proud of this 2019 blog post if you’d like to check it out (It involves animation & YA Adaptations) πŸ˜πŸ“šβœ¨:
    https://24hryabookblog.wordpress.com/2019/08/19/animation-and-its-potential-to-break-the-mold-for-ya-adaptations-book-blog-discussion/

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      Ahhh thank you!! ❀ I've been reading some ARCs that won't be out until March/April, just to get a bit of a head start. So hopefully that will reduce the stress a little.

      And omg I can't believe I missed the animations post???! I wasn't even on hiatus back in August πŸ˜‚πŸ˜… I will DEFINITELY check it out!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sionna (Books in Her Eyes) says:

    I feel you so hard about the book reviews. I don’t always know what to write and then I feel like I need to be vague so I don’t spoil the book, but then the review sounds like it could fit 5 other books!
    I think I’m going to allow myself to just do mini reviews this year if that’s all I’ve got in me. I’m so behind anyhow, why not?? Maybe stressing about it less will help me actually want to write those reviews up.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      Heck yeah Sionna, do the mini reviews!!! I’m pretty sure, in my case anyway, that stress and anxiety is contributing to at least half of overdue reviews. Like, “what if this is too short?” Or “what if this isn’t helpful enough??” So I think just writing whatever you can, even if it’s super short, could help a ton. πŸ˜€

      Like

  4. A Storm Of Pages says:

    Welcome back~!
    I very much relate to the relationships with ARCs, as well as how on earth to keep reviewing fun – both of which have failed me as well in the latter half of last year. Here’s to both of us finding a more enjoyable system! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 2 people

  5. waytoofantasy says:

    So glad to see you back, Kathy! Missed you ❀
    I totally know what you mean about ARCs and it's why I'm cutting down myself. I might request once in a while but even for books I want to read being on a time table takes a lot of the fun out of reading for me. Stresssssss. Definitely not fun.
    Looking forward to the changes you'll be implementing!
    Also, agreed about the reviews. I've done a few different styles now and then to change things up (including a few bullet pointed ones). I also find saving some for a mini-review post works well for me, I can always whip out a single paragraph of things to say about a book where I can't always whip out several paragraphs.
    Good luck and I'm glad you're back!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      Thanks Lisa!! It’s good to be back ❀ ❀ And yeah, I'm gonna try to learn some ARC self-control this year lol. I looked at my edelweiss and netgalley shelf earlier this month and was like, "WHEN did I request all these 2020 books???? slkj;alskdf"

      And ahhh I'm excited to share the blog changes. The first one should be going up today. I figure writing ANY review–no matter how short or unpolished I think it is–is better than not writing at all b/c of anxiety. So I'm hopeful this new format will help take some weight off my back.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Nicole Evans says:

    Eeeee, I am so excited for your new changes and to have you back! I totally understand stepping away and taking care of you (that is *always* important) but I definitely missed your posts, so I’m excited to see what 2020 has in store for you and the blog! Also, I miss steal your idea of doing both long and short reviews, because sometimes these reviews are a bitch to write and that idea sounds heavenly.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      Ahh Nicole, thank YOUUUuuuu. I hope things have been good with you and your doggo πŸ’• And OMG I can’t wait to share the changes. They might be veering a little too close to “holy shit I’m actually making MORE work for myself with this,” but the big thing is that I’m **genuinely** excited for it. So hopefully it’s something that’ll keep me motivated with the blog 🀞

      And yeeessss steal it haha!! Seriously, reviews are a HUGE pain sometimes!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nicole Evans says:

        Ahh, thank you love! Things are looking up, so we can’t complain! EEEP, that makes me even more excited for them! And if you’re feeling that excited about them, then they definitely have to be a good thing!

        Hahaha, thank you, I think I’m definitely going to do just that! ❀

        Like

  7. @lynnsbooks says:

    Glad you’re back Kathy and I really look forward to seeing what all your new ideas are – I imagine they’re all brilliant. I do love the idea of short and long reviews. I try too hard to say things sometimes where I think something short and pithy would do just as good a job.
    And ARCs, I love them, they’re such a privilege to receive, but when you get behind they’re sooooooo stressful.
    Lynn πŸ˜€

    Like

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