Wednesday, May 28, 2014

ArmchairBEA Day 3: Expanding Blogging Horizons and Novellas/Short Stories

First, I want to say that I had SO MUCH FUN at the #ArmchairBEA Twitter party yesterday (last night for me, hah). I usually use Twitter as a series of public Post-it notes, like: "This quote is funny!" or "I just wrote a blog entry!" or "Check out this link!". #ArmchairBEA is my first experience with using Twitter as a realtime conversation tool. It got off to a slow start but then we started talking about the finesse of GoodReads reviews (a 3-star review isn't a bad review) and overhyped books and it was like I had found my people.

Second, I want to say that I picked a great week to have a leg injury. If I can't be out and about too much, then at least I have something to blog about while I'm sitting at home.

(I broke my butt doing yoga—no joke. It's recovering, but slowly, because it's hard to rest, compress, and elevate your butt.)

What do you think about when you think about going beyond blogging or expanding your horizons? Is it a redesign of your blog? Have you branched out into freelance writing or even published a novel of your very own? Or, have you moved into a different venue like podcasts or vlogging? This is the day to tell us about how you have expanded on blogging in your own unique way. 

To be honest I don't think of myself as a ~blogger~ because I do it primarily for fun and secondarily as a way to build my jewelry brand. (For those of you who are finding me through #ArmchairBEA: yes, I make jewelry, math jewelry even, but I love books so much I can't NOT blog about them.)

The thing I'd like to do most is redesign the site, and even then not by very much. Maybe switch up the photos in my banner up top (or more accurately, have JV switch them up), and, more importantly, get a slicker, "not-so-obviously-from-Blogger" layout going. But then, to be honest, I read most of my blogs through a reader (first Google reader, then The Old Reader, now Inoreader), so you could have the most beautiful website in the world and it wouldn't make much difference to me anyway. so it's not like I know or care if any of them have very basic layouts.

I am not a big podcast fan—like with audiobooks that I mentioned in yesterday's post, I space out and don't follow the conversation/monologue, no matter what. Right now I'm listening to The History of Rome but I have to set aside time for that, and sit with a notebook and pen to take notes. So why would I start blogging in a format I hate?

Vlogging has the same problems for me as podcasts. The videos I watch tend to be more webseries than actual vlogs, and I might as well take the time now to note a couple I regularly enjoy.

MinutePhysics by Henry Reich is a series of great, well-explained animated answers to sometimes-tough science questions. If there's ever a science question that's had you puzzled, check the archive of videos. Maybe Reich's tackled it already!

Vi Hart has a similar channel with math doodles, though it's mostly focused on pure mathematics (and other things, like net neutrality and 12-tone series). I love the dry sense of humor she uses in every video.

The Tabletop series from Geek and Sundry is a fun way to discover new board games, in addition to just being entertaining to watch.

Now it is time to give a little love to those little stories in your life. Share your love for your favorite shorts of any form. What is a short story or novella that doesn't get the attention that it deserves? Recommend to readers what shorts you would recommend they start with. How about listing some short story anthologies based upon genres or authors? 

I typically don't read shorter pieces. I think that's because, as a writer, I always struggled with keeping my short stories short. Brevity is not my strong suit! Likewise, I like to read things that are like what I (sometimes attempt to) write: full-length novels.

 Of my own free will I've read maybe one anthology of short fiction in my life (Year's Best SF 16 or something like that), and a handful of Sherlock Holmes stories. Most of the short fiction I've read has been for school, and so the results are hit and miss. Ilse Aichinger's "The Bound Man" is a hit. So is "Children on Their Birthdays," or maybe I just liked it because Truman Capote was an author I actually had heard of. I at least remember Jorge Luis Borges' "The Aleph," though I couldn't say how much I actually liked it. I also had to read a lot from Peter Meinke's Unheard Music collection, but none of them really stood out as shining examples of the genre. Needless to say, my copies of The Art of the Tale, The Art of the Story, and Best American Fiction 2007 stayed in my library after college. Unheard Music did not.

If I stretch all the way back to eighth grade, there's also "Star Food," by Ethan Canin, from his collection, Emperor of the Air.

The one and only anthology of short stories I've really loved and enjoyed, in totality, is the Flight series. Tying in to yesterday's collection, it is a graphic novel collection. Or rather, a graphic short story collection. If you haven't read a Flight anthology, you're missing out.

Edit: I totally lied! I forgot to mention Philip K. Dick! Shame on me, I even wrote on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? for my senior philosophy thesis. But his short stories are masterpieces. I've been meaning to re-read "Minority Report" and "Paycheck" for a while, now. They are excellent stories. The movies.....questionable.

What's your favorite short fiction anthology?


  1. I don't really consider myself a blogger either. At least not a professional blogger. Whatever that means.

    I still haven't found a reader to replace the Google Reader. I will check out your recommendation. Thanks!

    Hope you are having a great time at Armchair BEA. Hope your injury (from yoga? really?) heals quickly.

    1. Inoreader is everything I wanted in a free RSS feed reader. I think you can import your old Google Reader list into it? The Old Reader was a great replacement until free accounts were limited to only 100 feeds. While I went through and got rid of a lot of feeds that I had held on to for nostalgia's sake to trim it down, I ultimately decided I didn't want to ever have to worry about a limit on how many people I could follow.

      The injury is feeling much better than it did the first day but it is a bit embarrassing to have hurt my butt, of all things! Oh well. It happens. And it gives me more time to hang out at ArmchairBEA!

  2. I'm so glad you had fun yesterday at the party. This is my first time I have ever participated in a live Twitter chat. I absolutely loved it.

    I feel your pain with your leg injury. I obtained a partial rupture of the Achilles Tendon last year while doing Zumba. It was no fun. Needless to say, my doctor told me no more Zumba for me. EVER. Good thing I'm a writer, huh?

    1. It was great! Unfortunately I had a class during today's chat, but I should be around for tomorrow's. :D

      OOF but that is a bigger thing than a pulled butt-muscle! What a bummer!! But yes, at least there's writing.

  3. I haven't been able to make a Twitter party yet and that bums me out! I did a few of them last year and really enjoyed the real time interaction with everyone.

    Ouch on the injury! I ABHOR Yoga! Yes, really. I enjoy working out, HIIT workouts are great for my limited time and even then I only do them twice a week. Sure hope you feel better quickly!

    Holly @ Words Fueled by Love

    1. I missed today's Twitter party: I did the math wrong in my head and I was expecting to be able to still make it when I got home from class, only to find out that wasn't the case, and I was SO SAD. Okay, well, not HEARTBROKEN but I was more disappointed than I would have expected, given how much of a curmudgeonly hermit I usually am!

      Ahhh, I love yoga! Or at least, the slow series of stretches and poses that count as yoga outside of certain religious practices. I am a pretty mellow, sedate person so that kind of rhythm works for me, plus I can work on my mindfulness and meditation techniques at the same time. I could never do more high-intensity super-exhausting cardio stuff, it just never gets fun for me. Especially with exercise-induced asthma. In all the years I've been practicing (7) this is my first injury, so I'll take it. I totally deserved it, too. I was trying to be a little yoga diva superstar.

  4. Ouch to the yoga injury, been there!
    I always forget about Capote's short stories. Definitely on my list!

    1. Just goes to show when you let pride get in the way of listening to your body! I think I've learned my lesson, at least.

      I've only read "Children on Their Birthdays" but man, it has one of the best opening sentences EVER, in any genre. Hands down!

  5. I haven't been able to make a Twitter party yet this time around, but it do enjoy Twitter chats. It does make it a whole new ball game (although I still put out a lot of static tweets). Thanks for mentioning Inoreader. I've tried Feedly and Bloglovin, but don't like them as much as the old reader.

    1. Yeah, for me Twitter is static by default. I don't think I have the energy to keep up with a chat on any kind of regular basis but once in a while it's great!

      I'm on BlogLovin' and use it to browse blogs in categories, but as a reader I don't use it so much. I'm really happy with Inoreader right now. Knocking on wood that it doesn't go the way of Google Reader or The Old Reader!

  6. First things first - as an avid yoga practicer I need to know exactly what you were doing when you got injured! Also, that sucks. Feel better.

    Is it not great to find your people? That is how I feel about the book blogging community, too!

    I have been meaning to read Philip K. Dick, but never have.

    1. It's going much better now, thankfully. Trying to rest it and being mindful of my posture (I tend to favor one side when I sit/stand.) seems to be doing the trick. It's hard to say if it really was yoga even, it's one of those injuries where I did *something* but nothing hurt until the next day. Based on what hurts, though, it seems like I did it in pigeon pose, with my left leg folded and my right leg extended. (It's the left leg that hurts) What's scary is that while it felt a little uncomfortable, it didn't feel that much more uncomfortable than it normally does when I'm warming up. YOGA: THE HIDDEN KILLER

      Finding your people is magical~. I knew there were other bloggers like me out there but I thought I would never find them! Hahaha hopefully my science and jewelry posts are still just as interesting as my book reviews.

      My first Dick novel (hah) was Androids, and after all I've read I think it's the best introduction to his work. The short stories that have been turned into movies are good too, because they're maybe his best stories. Though if you've seen the movie already, it might ruin reading the story...

  7. I hope your butt feels better soon. I suggest more downward dog in the meantime.

    1. It's doing much better, for which I am relieved. Hopefully within a few days I will be back on the mat. More down dog, maybe less pigeon. ;)

  8. Twitter parties are so much funny. It's hard to explain them accurately if you haven't try one. I tried explaining it to one of my friends and she rolled eyes and called it chaos. LOL!

    I have never read any of Philip K. Dick's works. *hangs head* He is on my list of authors to try this year.

    Thanks for mentioning Inoreader. I am going to give it a try.

    Take care of that yoga injury!

    P.S. Geek and Sundry is AWESOME.

    1. It is a little chaotic and even though I was having a lot of fun, it was also getting a bit hard for me to manage. (I guess I shouldn't have tried to blog and chat with other friends and join a Twitter party at the same time, oop.)

      If you haven't read any Dick (hah hah), then I think "Androids" is a good title to start out with, or any of his short stories. The ones that have become movies are my favorite, though as I think I mentioned elsewhere: if you've already seen the movie than they might have spoiled the story for you.

      I don't watch much on Geek and Sundry, but Tabletop is worth it! I know that Felicia Day was working on an Internet romance/geek girl book club. I wonder if that's still ongoing...