Blogging

A to Z Blogging Challenge 2020 Masterpost

Another A-Z Challenge successfully completed. This year it was all about watching some of the many DVDs that were sat on my shelves and this challenge got me watching and reviewing twenty of them.

Sign Up Post
A –The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
B – Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
C – Carlito’s Way (1993)
D – The Dead Pool (1988)
E – The Edukators (2004)
F – Family Plot (1976)
G – Good Bye Lenin! (2003)
H – House of D (2004)
I – Imagine Me & You (2005)
J – Jarhead (2005)
K – K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)
L – Let the Right One In (2008)
M – Monster (2003)
N – National Treasure (2004)
O – Outlander (2008)
P – Playing It Cool (2014)
Q – The Quake (2018)
R – Ray (2004)
S – Sudden Impact (1983)
T – Troy (2004)
U – Unforgiven (1992)
V – Vertigo (1958)
W – West Side Story (1961)
X – XXY (2007)
Y – You Again (2010)
Z – Zookeeper (2011)
Reflections Post

Reflections on the A-Z Challenge 2020 Edition

Another April gone by, and what an interesting April that was!

I’m thankful I was so well organised this year and had over half of my posts already written and scheduled before April began, because the end of March and April itself was tough. Three of my close family died in March (non COVID-19 related but I don’t know if that’s better or worse) and then there was living life under lockdown. It was good to have this challenge to focus on though and have some structure in an ultimately very confusing time.

I’m very pleased I completed the challenge for a number of reasons. It’s my senventh year of taking part in this challenge and I do like how it’s become a “thing” for me and my blog. I’m happy it made me cut down my unwatched film list by twenty. My updated list of films I own but haven’t watched is on Letterboxd and I’m always looking for recommendations. The six films I reviewed that weren’t part of that list were ones I found on Netflix or similar.

The month started on a high with The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford which I gave four stars but it ended on a low with Zookeeper which I do not recommend and gave one star. The films I most enjoyed watching a writing about were The Quake, Imagine Me & You and West Side Story. Though I have to say it was hard to review so many films in such a relatively short space of time – my brain’s not made to work that way.

My stats for April this year weren’t as good as last year but were better than the 2018 edition, so I’ll take that. The most popular A-Z posts were my reviews of Let the Right One In, National Treasure and K-19: The Widowmaker. Previous years A-Z posts also got a lot of hits including the posts I wrote about for Bucky Barnes and Happy Hogan last year, and Hermione Granger and Kingsley Shacklebolt that I wrote for the 2017 edition of the challenge.

Because of the aforementioned personal and wider world issues going on, I visited very few blogs which is a shame. I mostly did a good job at keeping up with replying to comments and I should have hopefully got to everyone by the time this post goes live.

Every year in my reflections post I ponder whether or not I’ll take part in the challenge next year, and this year’s no different! But I think as long as I have an idea well ahead of time that I can write and schedule posts for, then I think I will. I think it’d be nice to at least do this challenge for ten years in a row – only three more to go!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my A-Z posts this month. This blog will go back to a roughly equal amount of posts and books and films now. I hope all of you who took part had a successful A-Z in April, and sorry I didn’t get to your blog. For more information on the A-Z in April Challenge visit the website.

The Blogging from A-Z Challenge – 2020 Edition

It’s nearly April so that can only mean one thing – the A-Z in April Blogging Challenge! The challenge is to post on your blog every day in April except Sundays. Not including Sundays, there are twenty-six days which matches with the twenty-six letters of the alphabet. That means on 1st April you write something beginning with the letter A, on the 2nd something beginning with the letter B and so on and so forth.

This will be the seventh year in a row I’ve taken part in this challenge and I hope to complete it once again. It’s become almost a tradition to do this challenge and I hope I continue to have ideas for it as the years go by.

This year all my twenty-six posts will be film reviews. More specifically reviews of some of the eighty plus films I have unwatched on DVD and Blu-ray. You can have a sneak peek at what some of the films might be by checking out what’s on this Letterboxd list. I’ve had some of these films for so long, some probably for over five years, so this is just the push I need to finally watch them. For the letters where I don’t have a film on DVD or Blu-ray that begins with that letter, I shall turn to the likes of Netflix to find a film.

In April I will still be posting my weekly book reviews as usual. I’m not sure if there will be “bonus” film reviews that are more modern releases/films I’ve watched that aren’t for this challenge, it’ll depend how I feel and how I keep up with the posts/reviews.

Because watching films and then reviewing them takes more time than the average post I’ve done for this challenge previously (especially as some of my unwatched films are really long!) I’ve been somewhat organised and have already scheduled thirteen posts (which is half of them!) and plan to have more scheduled before April arrives. Unfortunately, those thirteen aren’t the first thirteen days of April because I’m someone who has to be in the mood for potentially more serious or heavier films and I just don’t make things easy for myself.

Hopefully having so many posts scheduled already means I won’t be rushing to get the next post out and that I will be more active in visiting and commenting on other people’s blogs during the challenge.

There’s still time to sign up for the A to Z in April Challenge. I do recommend it; it definitely makes you stretch yourself to think of something for every letter and it encourages you to be organised – something I’m always trying to be better at when it comes to my blog.

My Blogging Resolutions

I’m attempting to take part and complete Blogmas again this year. I know the posts during Blogmas are supposed to be Christmas/Holiday related, and mine will have some of those (there’s going to be Christmas film reviews every weekend till Christmas!) but I also take it as a challenge to write and post about anything for 25 days.

So today is going to be about my blogging New Years resolutions. I’ll talk about my film and book-related goals of 2020 in early January, but I thought now was a good idea to talk about my blog, what I like about it, and what I want to improve.

My main blogging resolution is to be better at commenting – both replying to comments I receive and seeking out and commenting on different posts. It can take me weeks and sometimes even months(!) to reply to the comments people leave on my blog and I’m so sorry about that. Sometimes I’m just forgetful. I see the notification and read the comment then think “Oh that’s a lovely thought/question, I must reply to that when I’m not doing X” but then I forget. Then sometimes I leave it so long to reply to a comment it becomes a whole thing like should I actually reply when the person left the comment like a month ago or would that be weird?!

In the end I do reply, or like the comment, because I think every comment deserves a response because someone’s taken the time to leave their thoughts on my post. So, here is where I say sorry to my readers and commenters who I leave hanging for far too long. I will aim to do much better in 2020 and I’m going to set the goal of replying to comments within a week of receiving them. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

I shan’t lie, I’m really bad at the community aspect of blogging. I started my blog for me, to get writing again and to share my thoughts on stuff. I’ve never been great at reading other peoples posts about things. I think part of that is I don’t read reviews of books/films I plan to read/watch before I’ve had a chance to read/watch them. I like to go into a story knowing as little as possible so avoid reviews of the media I know I’m already interested in and am making plans to engage with. When it comes to books/films I haven’t heard of or have no interested in, I don’t mind reading those reviews – because you never know, I could then become interested and seek that book/film out. So if/when I do read these posts, I really should start commenting more, even if it’s just like “Ooh I hadn’t heard of this before but it sounds great! I’ll check it out.”

Other posts out there like wrap ups, favourites lists, or more general posts I do read more often (though again, not often interact with) because that’s where people can share a couple of lines about why they did or didn’t like something without being spoilery and it can be enough to grab my attention. It is becoming clear that I’m quite the spoilerphobe.

I think I’m going to set myself the challenge to comment on just two posts a day, if I do more than that then great but it’s got to be at least two. Like anything in life, it’s habit-forming and I need to break out of this quite insular bubble I’ve got when it comes to blogging.

My final kinda blogging resolution is not to be so hard on myself when I won’t meet self-imposed deadlines or schedules. For the nearly 5 years I’ve been consistently posting on this blog, I’ve said that there will be a film review on Mondays and a book review (or something book-related) on Thursdays. For the most part I stick to this, but it does kinda stress me out when I haven’t finished a book by Thursday, or I haven’t watched many films or one that I want to write about that week to post on Monday.

Towards the end of this year I’ve been missing the odd day and guess what? My blog didn’t self-combust! I like having a schedule because I like the routine and having goals to meet, but I also shouldn’t stress about it so much. I’m sure people aren’t noticing when there’s only one post one week instead of two, and even if they do, they don’t hate me for it or anything.

So, to sum up, my blogging resolutions are:
1. Respond to comments I receive within a week of receiving them
2. Comment on two different blog posts a day
3. Don’t get worried if I miss a self-imposed blogging deadline as this is supposed to be fun!

Quite simple and supposedly easy blogging resolutions that I will hopefully be able to stick to, and in doing so, will make my blogging experience more fun, stress-free and more community focused.

Do you have any blogging resolutions? If so, I’d love to hear them, and I’ll respond within in a week even though it’s not 2020 and my resolutions haven’t official kicked in yet!

A to Z in April Blogging Challenge 2019 Masterpost

Well this is being posted later than expected – what can I say! Time got away from me. That’s another April gone and with it another A-Z in April Challenge successfully completed. This year it was all about my favourite characters in the MCU. It was certainly hard to narrow it down for some days/letters, but I’m happy with the characters I got to talk about.

Sign Up Post
A – Ava Starr
B – James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes
C – Cassie Lang
D – Carol Danvers
E – Erik “Killmonger” Stevens
F – Frigga
G – Goose
H – Happy Hogan
I – Ivan Vanko
J – Jim Paxton
K – Harley Keener
L – Luis
M – Maria Rambeau
N – Nebula
O – Okoye
P – Pepper Potts
Q – Peter Quill
R – James “Rhodey” Rhodes
S – Shuri
T – Tony Stark
U – Ulysses Klaue
V – Valkyrie
W – Wanda Maximoff
X – X-tras (Clint Barton, Michelle “MJ” Jones, Nick Fury, Hela and Rocket Racoon)
Y – Ho Yinsen
Z – Hemlut Zemo
Reflections Post

Thoughts on… Reading Slumps

I like routines especially when it comes to my blog. On Monday’s I post a film review and on Thursday’s I post a book review and if there’s something else I want to write about it’ll go live on any other day – that’s how I’ve done it for years now. I’m pretty consistent when it comes to that “schedule” but it’s tough to keep up with it when you’re in a reading slump.

I’ve read two books this month and I’m currently in the middle of two more; The Dry by Jane Harper on audio and I’m reading a physical copy of Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi. It’s not unusual for me to be reading one book on audio and another in physical format at the same time, but what is unusual is that it’s two and a half weeks since I started the physical book and it’s less than 300 pages long.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a reading slump.

I think this one has been brought about by life being a bit more busy than usual. I’ve started a new job, I did a movie marathon for charity, and I have family-related things I’m perhaps I’m subconsciously worrying about. I say subconsciously as I’m very much a person who doesn’t think they get stressed, until my body gives up in some shape or form and I realise I wasn’t feeling that great. Time to read and being in the right headspace to read is definitely the main factor. And while I do find the premise of Frankenstein in Baghdad interesting and I like how it has a large cast of characters, I never feel compelled to pick it up even though when I am reading it, I enjoy it. It’s a weird situation to be in.

This long weekend I plan to either finish Frankenstein in Baghdad or consciously put it aside and pick up something else. I can always go back to Frankenstein in Baghdad when I’m more in the mood for it. Because that’s something I’ve learnt about myself over the many years I’ve been reading – I am a mood reader.

That’s why my TBR’s are often pointless as I might read one or two books from them but the rest of that week/month/whatever I’ll read completely different things. With my Read the World Project I do think I put pressure on myself to read certain books and quickly. The plan with that project was to read a book from every country in the world before I turn 30 which is in less than two and a half years now and I have about 100 countries still left to read. While I enjoy reading books from different people in different places, and I’ve certainly found some favourites that I would never have heard of if it wasn’t for this challenge, there’s sometimes an underlying sense of guilt if I’m reading books that don’t fit for the challenge.

I think really for me, reading slumps are something that happens when I’m drained, can’t focus on the physical act of reading, and can’t find a book that suits my mood. To get myself out of reading slumps I tend to go to graphic novels as they are so much shorter and quicker to read than a novel. If I read a couple of graphic novels, I feel like I’ve achieved something and can then attempt to read a novel next.

I’m still learning to tell myself that putting aside a book to try it again at a later date, or just admitting that it’s not for me and DNF-ing it, is absolutely fine. I haven’t “wasted time” on that book and it’s totally OK to just have a break from reading if my mind is not up to it – blogging schedule be damned!

I hope this all makes sense. I was trying to write through how my feelings on reading and how that relates to blogging. I also have a clearer idea of how I’m going to think about my current read, my reading slump, and what kind of book(s) I want to read next. Have you ever had a reading slump? And if you have, how have you gotten yourself out of it? It’s always good to hear other people’s tips and tricks.

Reflections on the A-Z Challenge 2019 Edition

Slightly later than planned, but here’s my reflections on this years A-Z in April Challenge.

This was my sixth year taking part and it was my easiest A-Z in April in years. I think that was down to the topic. I love the MCU and its characters, so I found it really easy to write about them. In fact, I found it so easy that I got all my posts written and scheduled before the end of the second week of April! I haven’t been that organised during this challenge for years.

My favourite posts to write were all the ones in the Iron Man fam; Pepper Potts, Rhodey, Happy Hogan, Harley Keener and, of course, Tony Stark. I had so much fun pouring all my thoughts and feelings about Tony Stark into that post and it’s a piece of writing that I’m proud of. I wrote and scheduled all my posts before seeing Avengers: Endgame so I feel like writing about my favourite characters was almost therapeutic as I was so anxious about what would happen to them in that film.

My post popular A-Z posts were the ones for Carol Danvers, Okoye and Goose. I guess people like strong women and an awesome cat!

I replied to all comments pretty quickly (for me anyway) though unfortunately I didn’t visit that many blogs at all. While I got all my posts scheduled ahead of time, day to day life stopped me finding the time to look around other people’s blogs. I’m even more grateful for the people who stopped by my blog, liked or commented on posts, and even hit that follow button as I did little to return the favour last month.

I feel like the last few years when I’ve written these reflection posts I’ve said, “I’m not sure if I’ll take part again next year” and I feel the same way once again. It’s just that as I take part in the A-Z Challenge again and again, I feel like I’m running out of themes of things I could write about – and enjoy writing about too. I think I enjoyed this years A-Z Challenge more than the last couple because my topic was something I am so enthusiastic about and get so much joy from. If I hadn’t written about my favourite characters from the MCU, I don’t know what I would’ve chosen to write about and if I had thought of something I doubt I’d have had as much fun writing it as I did with this theme.

I hope all of you who took part in the challenge had fun and a successful A-Z in April. Thanks to those who stopped by my blog and liked or commented – it always means a lot. For more information on the A-Z in April Challenge visit the website.

The Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge – 2019 Edition

It’ll soon be April and that means it’ll soon be time for the A-Z in April Blogging Challenge! The challenge is to post on your blog every day in April bar Sundays. Once you forget about the Sundays, that gives you 26 days in April which matches with the 26 letters of the alphabet. So on the 1st April you write about something beginning with the letter A, on the 2nd something beginning with the letter B and so on and so forth.

After feeling like the challenge became a bit of an effort (and not in a fun way) for me last year, I was unsure whether or not I’d take part again this year. But after thinking about it, I’ve thought of a theme I know I’ll enjoy writing about and the A to Z in April Challenge is like a tradition on my blog now and it’d feel weird not doing it.

This year all my posts in the challenge will be about my favourite characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe! Each day will be about a character whose name (first or last) starts with the corresponding letter. I’ve figured out which character is going to be with which letter, though I will say in the case of a couple of them, they’re not necessarily my favourite but their names fit with what I needed. That being said, they will all be characters I like to varying degrees.

For a previous A to Z in April Challenge I blogged about my favourite characters in general and mentioned a few MCU characters there. I’m going to try and avoid mentioning them again this year so it’ll be something completely new.

I’ll still be posting my usual book and film reviews in April they’ll just be a lot of MCU characters making an appearance too. Do you think your favourites will be featured next month?

If you want to find out more about the A to Z in April Challenge visit the website (there’s still time to sign up!) and you can see what I’ve written about for the challenge on previous years here.

Thoughts on… Blogmas

Blogmas is almost over and it’s been an interesting experience. I’ve felt I haven’t really given the blogmas challenge my all, especially in the past week, and that’s been due to life, a lack of inspiration for posts and not being as prepared as I hoped to be.

I’d decided I wanted to try and do blogmas way back in October. I had some blog ideas, had even started drafting some, but didn’t have anything properly written or scheduled. Then I was without a laptop for almost three weeks in November due to mine dying and having to be sent away to fix. I was able to borrow a laptop from work, but I definitely didn’t get as much blogmas prep done compared to if I’d had my own computer.

I took part and completed blogtober last year and towards the end of that challenge I was finding it hard to think of things to write about, so because blogmas is shorter (by six days but still) I thought it’d be easier. In some ways it was. I fell back on weekly posts like Book Blogger Hop and Top 5 Wednesday to help me out, and I had my usual weekly film and book reviews, but that still left three or four other days each week to fill. I did write some posts I’m proud of. I loved writing all my thoughts on audiobooks and how my attitude towards them have changed, and the Avengers: End Game trailer led me writing a trailer reaction for the first time in ages and one that was almost 800 words long.

I do enjoy how events like blogmas gets me to push myself when it comes to blogging. It gets me to think of more creative posts than my usual book and film reviews, but at the same time it makes me appreciate my weekly book and film reviews. I like having a routine with my blog, both because it’s nice for me and, I presume, my readers like the regular mix of film and books and don’t mind my eclectic tastes that much.

Blogmas, like blogtober and the A-Z in April Challenge, taught me that I can write more and manage to post everyday – whether that’s through being organised and scheduling days or weeks ahead, or by getting something up at about 10pm like this post is going to be. But I don’t want the pressure of posting every day if I don’t have to have it. Blogging should be fun, and for me it still is even after having this blog for five years now. That’s an achievement to me and I hope I still enjoy blogging just as much in five more years – if blogging is still something I want to be doing of course!

BOOK BLOGGER HOP: Do you listen to music while you are writing your blog posts?

Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly feature hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, to find bookish blogs and to learn more about the bloggers themselves. You can find more info on the feature here.

This week’s question is: Do you listen to music while you are writing your blog posts? If so, what genre of music do you listen to?

The short answer is sometimes. I like listening to music while I write as it’s sometimes too quiet if I don’t, but I can write without music too. Sometimes it depends on the blog post – if it’s a review when I’ve got a lot to say or the subject is a bit more complicated or sensitive, I might forgo the music to make sure I concentrate.

As I type this post I’m listening to Imagine Dragons latest album (I’m liking it a lot, but I love pretty much all of Imagine Dragons music though so maybe I’m biased) and it’s that sort of music I listen to when I write a blog post. I like to listen music that has guitars and is upbeat but not too catchy because if it is catchy, I’ll end up singing along instead of focusing on what I’m writing. I like listening to music I already know too so it can be a pleasant background noise.

Do you listen to music when you write blog posts? Or when you do any writing in general?