Friday, January 31, 2014

My Year in Reading 2013!

Though this post is late in comparison to other peoples' year in review posts, we all love hearing about books people loved at any time of year, right? :)

It's crazy to think that it's already... a month into the new year--2014 is going to be a huge year, in law school things alone (read: I have to take the Bar Exam--eep!). But there will also be other fun things like...Bar Trip (hopefully to Paris!)! But before we get on to 2014, let's take a look back at my favorite books of 2013. I read 42 books this year--and am halfway through many more (Bleak House slowed me down quite a bit, but is SO good).

Author and friend Lauren Morrill did a post with her year in 2013 and awesome book superlatives, which I loved (you should check it out!), so I'm copying her idea and giving you the books that I adored this year and superlatives too! :) (This post became really long, so I'll put the superlatives in a separate post--be on the lookout for part 2 next week!)

First, this is kind of the breakdown of my reading this year in terms of categories:
Number of Adult Books: 12
Number of NA Books: 8
Number of YA Books: 21
Number of MG Books: 1*

*I am counting Stargirl as MG though it's really on the line with YA. It kind of blurs between upper MG or lower YA.

My Favorite Books I Read in 2013: 

  • My Life Next Door: My best friend Megan recommended this book and I just absolutely loved it. It was such a great contemporary YA. I will read everything Huntley Fitzpatrick writes. And can we just talk about how GORGEOUS this cover is?? 
This beautiful cover design available here:
  • A Tale of Two Cities: I admit, I was not a fan of this in high school. I thought it was so dry! But re-reading it now, I found it to be just so incredible. I have been on a big Dickens kick this year, following this up with Bleak House, a tall order. But I have found such a new appreciation for Dickens and his ability to weave a story together. It actually reminds me a lot of what I love about David Levithan, in a way, because his stories are all about connections between people and he interweaves the characters so beautifully. I listened to the audio book and it was just incredible and moving. If it's been awhile, I highly recommend re-reading this because it's great. 

  • Lolita: My English major friend recommended this book to me and I was kind of like hmm because obviously the subject matter is rather controversial, but let me tell you, this book was incredible. The writing was just so unique and it became probably one of my favorite books ever. 
B&N Collectible Edition, available here:

  • Pride and Prejudice: Oh P&P, you will forever be one of my favorite books. This was a re-read, and every time I pick this book up, I find something new in it and love it even more. The characters and story are so familiar and wonderful it's like coming home. 

  • Meant to Be: This book can be summed up in a few words: swoon, London, red hair. Haha. I just adored it. This book is by my friend, Lauren Morrill, who is wonderful and so is this book! I actually had this on my TBR before I even met Lauren. I love travelling, and I took a trip to London with my high school, so it was cool to read about that. It was just such a fun and romantic read :) I love the cover too. 

  • The Evolution of Mara Dyer: Let's just talk about the fact that Michelle Hodkin is kind of an evil genius :) (she's also incredibly sweet). This series is such a mind trip. This is the sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, which was also amazing, and it just brought such another level to the story. I still don't even know what's happening. Also, Noah Shaw--a swoony British character. Just saying. 

  • Allegiant: (No spoilers) This book. If you haven't read it or the rest of the Divergent series, go do that now and then come back ;). It's seriously so incredible, a YA Dystopian coming to theatres near you soon. Admittedly, a good chunk of this installment was a bit slow for many readers, including myself, but it all came together for me in the end in such a brave and bold way that I absolutely loved. Veronica Roth won some major author cred with this one.

  • The Great Gatsby: I did an entire blog post last year on why you should read Gatsby. I did not appreciate it anywhere near enough in high school, but now that I've re-read it, it's one of my favorite books ever. The language! The writing! It's just so gorgeous. What a story. 

  • The 5th Wave: This book was incredible. Gripping, fast-paced, unique. Everyone was talking about this book in 2013, and I was initially off-put by the fact that it involved aliens. I was like ugh I don't like books about aliens...but then I read it and was totally blown away. Don't judge a book on it's subject matter, eh? I seriously recommend this one.  

  • Love is the Higher Law: I will love everything David Levithan ever writes. It's just a fact. This is his book about September 11th, and it is so incredibly moving and heartbreaking. You will probably cry on this one. It took me a long time to read just because I would cry after each chapter pretty much, but it was so incredible and so worth it. 

  • Parallel: I really enjoyed this book because it was set in the Atlanta suburbs at a magnet high school--just like where I went to school! It was so incredibly cool because it literally felt like that school could have been my own. The book was so true to my experience (minus the fact that I was not having parallel reality problems in high school). The main character also went to Yale, where I attended during a summer session, so it was kind of my perfect book. Plus the author, Lauren Miller, is an attorney. She was so nice and came to our book club, where we discussed the fact that I am basically her doppelganger ;) This was such a cool book, and I really enjoyed it. 

What were your favorite books of the year? What books are you most looking forward to reading in 2014? I'm always on the lookout for another great read so please share in the comments below! :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How to Make a Facebook Author/Writer Page: A Step by Step Guide

Hey everyone! Sorry for the sparseness in blog postings--law school finals. Yeah.

I have much to update you on, including the awesomeness of #PitchWars, hosted by the wonderful Brenda Drake, but for now I shall say I made it onto a team and have had the awesome experience of being mentored by Rae Chang! I couldn't be more excited!

My "unofficial mentor" is Dannie Morin who is also incredible and inspired this post because she advised her team to make Author/Writer Facebook Pages if they didn't already have them. I set one up, which you can find HERE (I used to work at an ad agency as a social/emerging media associate) and then saw some tweets that not everyone knew how to make a Facebook Author Page, so I decided to make a post with a step-by-step guide (btw this can be applied to other Facebook Pages as well).

Why have an Author/Writer Facebook Page?

If you're published or already have an agent, it's a no-brainer--to connect with your readers on a platform that they're probably constantly on. Just like you have your blog, your twitter, tumblr etc. it's another social platform that's key to be on. Facebook is great, and in my opinion one of the best social media platforms for authors, because your post doesn't disappear within minutes in a flurry of tweets, and people don't have to seek it out by going to your blog either. Facebook has made it oh so convenient to follow authors without even leaving your home page, the posts just appear right alongside those from your friends. You want to put yourself in front of your readers, and this is an easy and effective way to do it. (*Caveat, of course not all of your readers are on Facebook, so have a social media presence on as many sites as you feel comfortable managing)

If you're an aspiring author, you may be wondering whether you should set up a page now or wait until after you're agented. Dannie's advice is clearly to go ahead and do it now, and I completely agree. You have the option to set it up as a "Writer" page, rather than an "Author" page, which can be changed once you get that publishing deal ;). As to why? Same reasons as above--to connect with other writers, potential readers, and start building your "brand." Same reasons also that you're probably cultivating that Twitter presence and blogging. Agents are mentioning the importance of a social media presence more and more, and this is one of the key elements.

Second, just because you aren't published doesn't mean you're not a writer! Don't think of it as a "fan" page, but as a way to connect with people and share about your writing, your writing process, and the journey. It's not about PR and trying to promote yourself, it's about connecting with people with similar interests and creating value with the content you post--things that will be of interest to people who "Like" your page. Post helpful writing articles, book pictures, what you're reading, pretty much what you post on your other social platforms, and engage with the community.

Ok, so hopefully I've convinced you....on to:

A Step-by-Step Guide to Making an Author/Writer Facebook Page:

1. Don't worry, it's really pretty easy! :)

2. Log in to Facebook or sign up for an account if you don't already have one. The Facebook Author Page is going to be an extension of your existing account so there's no need to make another account unless you really want to for some reason (you'll still be able to post separately from both and it's easier to just have it all in one place in my opinion).

3. On the Facebook home screen there should be a pages tab on the left sidebar with an option to "Create Page" (mine looks a little different now since I've already created one, but below is the example of the sidebar). If you don't see this, alternatively look for the little gear in the top right hand corner. Click on it and select the "Create Page" option there.


4. This should take you to a page like this:

Select "Artist, Band, or Public Figure."

5. You'll be prompted to "Select a category": choose either Author or Writer from the drop down menu. (FYI I chose "Writer" for now since I'm not yet published, and you can modify this later). Below that enter the name of the page, most likely your name (can also be changed later), and click "Get Started."

6. Add a short description and website:

7. Choose a professional profile picture:

8. Add a link to your Facebook profile home screen "favorites" (or favourites if you're using British Facebook) area in the left sidebar, for easy access, which I recommend:

9. Skip the reach more people/advertise option for now. You can always choose to do that at a later time, and it's a bit more complicated + $$.

10. You're DONE! Welcome to your brand new Facebook Author Page!

From here you can customize your cover photo, add posts, pictures, and other content just as you would for your regular Facebook profile. You can easily click to invite your current Facebook friends to "Like" your page as well!

I hope that was helpful! 

Feel free to leave me a comment if you have any questions on other things you'd like to know how to do with your page or if you get stuck! 

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