December 17, 2015

2015 Wrap-Up, Holidays Mini-Hiatus and a Look at My Blogging Future...

Hello my sweet Christmas angels! (Erm...too much? LOL).
Welcome to my last post of the year, which will resemble my last post of 2014, in what it will be divided in three sections. Here's where I recapitulate my 2015 in blogging (slower than 2014...), list my upcoming goals (so that I can un-meet them again), and inform you of my little leave of absence (because I need an excuse for slacking, and what better than Christmas holidays?). Oh, and of course, there will be the usual season-greetings-filled space in the end :). So, here goes...

Pt. 1: This Year in Blogging

As of today, I've been blogging for 3 years and a couple of months. Feels great!

This is what happened on Offbeat YA during the year, broken down by number of posts, events I took part in, books I reviewed, authors I interacted with and discussion posts I wrote...

a) Numbers

This is my 41st post this year. I managed to produce an average of 3.4 articles per month (but my lowest was a grand total of 1 post in November!), while my goal was to post at least once a week, like last year. So I totally didn't meet it, quantity-wise : /. On the other hand, I was given a few chances that balanced the scale...see: Author interactions.
Only 9 of my 2015 posts were reviews (and I thought the 16 of last year were few...). On the other hand, I wrote an "awful" lot of general posts O_O. In my defense, I'll say that I barely read new or even newish books this year (and I wouldn't have read any if it weren't for the generous writers who sent me their eARCs/review copies). You all know by now I can't download ebooks, for lack of a credit card; what you probably don't know is that I used to place a substantial book order twice a year to my usual online store, since it's the only way for me to buy books in English (Amazon and the like are ruled out due to the same credit card problem I mentioned before). Well, in the last twelve months I wasn't able to place any order at all :(. So, no new shiny books for me. I still have a few from my old archive to review, but I've been lacking motivation to do that, since no one wants to hear about "old" books when there are so many new ones around...It sounded so futile, you know. I still plan on reviewing them at some time or other, but I need some new ones to counterbalance. And to feel driven to step into the review game again.

b) Events and memes

Not much of a meme gal, but I do like my events :)

In January I reprised my A Reader's Quirks (completely irregular) feature (which reminds me...I never got around to make a banner for it...). I updated an old post called You, Irresistible Afterlife Novel. Since I'm obsessed with the stuff, and it was a pretty detailed article about my favourite subgenre - with zero comments - I wanted to give it a new chance at popularity (and failed. Just one comment so far, two if you count my reply...Well, I suppose one is better than zero : /).
In February I wrote another A Reader's Quirks post, because I felt inspired ;). It was called Why I'm Not Reading Your "Sexy" YA Book. I was getting fed up with the word "sexy" popping up in an endless stream of blurbs for YA books, so I decided to rant write a post about it. This one went a little better than my previous ARQ installment (two comments...). Oh, and February was also the month when I finally caved in and joined Twitter! This is a small event in itself for me, right? ;) And it was the start of a bunch of lovely and/or funny interactions...
In July and August I was involved in the Summer Blogger Promo Tour by The Book Bratz. During the whole summer, I got to swap guest posts with 7 other bloggers, thus being able to avoid what would probably have been a two-months summer hiatus (see 2014), since the hot season deprives me of both physical and mental energy. Here's my recap of the event. Also, in August I did a cover reveal and a book blitz for The Mark of Noba, by my blogger friends GL Tomas.
In September I reprised my own feature about iconic TV shows past and present, Screen Time (see my Features Room), with an article about Heroes. I felt like I was pressed for time, since the sequel/reboot series Heroes Reborn was scheduled for Sep. 24th...I do enjoy writing these posts (regardless of the traffic they generate), but it's a daunting task - so much research involved. This is why I can't keep up with a schedule. I originally wanted to make a bi-monthly feature out of them, and only managed to write a couple before I went M.I.A. for almost a year...
I also have to mention that this year I was able to host my very first giveaway (for Where the Staircase Ends by Stacy Stokes) thanks to a blog tour. I can't afford to have my own giveaways, you see : /. Sorry about that! (Now you can see why this is listed under Events).    

c) Reviews

These are the books I reviewed this year, broken down by genres/Reading Rooms:
Afterlife: Where the Staircase Ends by Stacy Stokes (blog tour) | Four Houses by Victoria Scott (short story) | It's a Wonderful Death by Sarah J. Schmitt (ARC review) | Between by Jessica Warman.
Supernatural: The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones.
Sci-fi: The Foster Children of Time by Robert Schell | Tick by Allison Rose.
Multiverse: Choices by Deborah Lynn Jacobs.
Unwalled: The Bad Rescue of Devon Streeter by B.C. Johnson (review request, ARC review).

d) Author interactions

JL Morin, Erin Callahan, Allison Rose

In January, the author of Nature's Confession, JL Morin, guest-posted of my blog about cli-fi (climate fiction, a branch of sci-fi). It was the very first guest post on Offbeat YA!
In February I was asked by an author who shall remain unnamed to proof-read their new book...and I felt so flattered! Especially since English is an acquired language for me - but the author in question mentioned the fact that I had found a few mistakes in an already published book of theirs. It was another first for me, and I really enjoyed the task (though it was basically work...but of the fun kind. Especially because I got to read a new book!). Of course, this happened off-blog, but it was definitely worth mentioning in my yearly recap!
Now for the sad part. In March I DNF'd my first (and last for now) book. The author had contacted me the month before with a review request for a cli-fi novel. I must admit the short excerpt they sent me wasn't an instance of stellar writing, but I decided to give their book a shot, for a couple of reasons I won't go into. Now, let me tell you this...apart from a romance that was cringe-worthy IMO, the writing just kept getting worse with each chapter, so to speak. I ended up seeking advice from Karen (owner of For What It's Worth), since she's a trusted friend and an experienced blogger. I didn't want the writer in question to get too hurt, but reading on was just so painful, and the book would never have improved anyway (I think I hung on in there till past the middle mark). So, following Karen's advice, I tried to come up with a rejection email that wasn't too hurting, and I offered to the author in question three options: a honest but unfavorable review, a simple DNF rating on Goodreads, or a "let's pretend we never crossed path" way out. Which, alas, they took. Very likely thanks to Karen, I managed to part ways with the author without drama, but I felt like a cheater for not letting the world know what I thought of that book. At least an official DNF, even without any explanation, would have been honest. But it's difficult when you talk with the author without any in-betweens :(.
In June I won my first giveaway at Vicarious Caytastrophe: the book in question was Tick by Allison Rose (see Reviews section above). I befriended Allison on Twitter after that, and (fast forward to September) she was so kind to comment twice on my ageism-in-the-book-blogging-community post, even if I had not gotten around to review her book yet (well, I had mentioned it in a guest post this summer, but still). Another author who commented was Erin Callahan, but I've known her for a couple of years now, so we have a history, so to speak :). Not that it makes her contribution less special, because it's not like she was supposed to comment for some reason - so thank you Erin and Allison!
In July I was asked by the aforementioned Erin Callahan (co-author of the Mad World series) to beta-read her first solo project and to provide a blurb for it, in prevision of a round of submission to the publishers. Again, I feel flattered and giddy with of the reasons being, it was a first for me - not to mention English is not even my first language...honestly, I'd never thought someone would ask me to beta-read for them. Another reason for my happiness? Well, I might have struck up a really small number of relationships with authors, but they sure are meaningful and rewarding! Again, this happened off-blog, but I had to mention it as one of the highest points of my 2015!
Speaking of relationships with authors...I have to point out that at least two of the books I reviewed this year were the result of an email exchange with the authors themselves. I both approached Stacy Stokes (Where the Staircase Ends) and Sarah J. Schmitt (It's a Wonderful Death) via their site contact forms, and they were utterly kind and helpful in making it possible for me to get an eARC copy of their books!
In October I interviewed my author friends Guinevere and Libertad Tomas (GL Tomas) about their path to writing and their first book The Mark of Noba. I also sort of met Christopher Pike. I mean on Wattpad! Read the full story here.

e) Discussion posts

March: 5 Reasons Why Twitter Is not Evil and 5 Tips for Making the Best Out of It (which doesn't sound like a discussion from the title I gave it, but indeed it was meant to be...).
April: Are Bloggers Getting the Respect They Deserve? | YA Trends: Is That All There Is?
September: Confessions of a Senior Blogger: My Take on Ageism in the Book Blogging Community.
All of the above are still open to comments and contributions!

Pt. 2: Goals for 2016

I would like to say I'll stick with a schedule of a post per week (which is not even that much), but I've already failed this year, so it's not like I have any reasons to think next year will be better. Realistically? I can only promise that I'll stick with my blog, regardless of numbers. Because I still want it to stay, if not to grow. I mean, I'd love for it to grow of course, but I know it takes work I can't keep up with, so I'm not making any more promises - not even to myself.
I'm still up for interesting events and temporary memes, though they work better for people who are in tune with what other people like. My blog was born unpopular, so to speak, since I chose to primarily feature books that needed a boost. I found out that, for every meme or tour I join, I only make a friend or two, as in, people I talk to on a regular or semi-regular basis and swap blog comments with after the event ends. But I've accepted it - and it's OK, really. It only hurts a little when you reach out for someone (without any marketing purpose in mind - because hey, you indeed took a fancy to their blog or like their personality) and they don't recognize your little effort...but I was in high school a long time ago, and I was rejected badly in real life back then, so I'm past the time and age for caring too much about that. Your loss, folks.
I don't know how many reviews I'll be able to write next year. It's not like I can buy all those books. And like I said, without a credit card, I can't even shop for ebooks, which would be so much less expensive. Also, I don't have all that time either. Writing a review is an exhilarating but painful task for me, because I have to wear my heart on my sleeve and can't help but being awfully detailed. Again, I'll just go with the flow. But reviews or not, my little opinionated self will be haunting you for a long time ;D.

Pt. 3: Holidays Hiatus

As usual, I'm taking a little time off for the holidays. Not because I'm prepping for a busy Christmas - I'm just using the holidays as an excuse to slack off relax a little ;P. I will be back at the beginning of 2016, and like I said, I haven't made any real plans for the new year, except sticking with this whole blog thing. You know, this was not a bad year for me. Proof-reading, beta-reading, getting a couple of eARCs I had set my mind on, making a few new friends, surprisingly enjoying Twitter...I count them all as successes. If things like those keep coming, even in small numbers, I'll definitely deem myself lucky :).

In the end...

See you next year! Take care :).


  1. Happy Holidays! Have a great time away! - Kenya

    1. Thanks! I'll do my best :). Happy Holidays to you!

  2. I'm glad you're not leaving us anytime soon.

    You had a good year even if you didn't post quite as often as you wanted to.

    Happy Holidays Roberta!!!

    Karen @For What It's Worth

  3. It sounds like you had an amazing year! I am glad that you were able to participate in so many great opportunities, and I hope that next year is going to be even better.
    I know that your numbers might not be at what you wanted, but do not despair. I love all of your posts and I know that this awesome blog will grow with time. As for the reviewing, I know a a lot of bloggers, myself included, who love to read reviews for backlist and older books. I think that as a community we are a little bit too caught up in the latest and greatest books out there and we forget that there are plenty of amazing books that have already been published. I think that reviewing them would be a good reminder to the community that there are other books out there, especially for those who may not be able to buy the newest books or get the latest ARCs.
    Happy Holidays!

    1. Great minds think alike! :)
      Seriously, you are one of the best cheerleaders around - not to mention, just being a Supernatural fan is a symptom of awesomeness LOL. Thank you so much and have a great 2016 in blogging! I hope we both can grow as bloggers next year!

  4. Your year sounds really cool, Roberta! I really hope 2016 won't disappoint either. Happy holidays! <3
    Veronika @ The Regal Critiques

    1. Cool but small LOL. Well, I hope to do better next year...On the other hand, meeting a few new friends this year was a success in itself! Can you think of two? ;)

      Have a "regal" new year!

  5. I'm sorry I'm so late commenting here, Roberta! *smiles cutely* I've been meaning to, but uni has been so horrible- we are technically on study leave, but we still had assignments to submit- and exams in January, so I'm running around like a headless chicken. Kinda. :(

    Anyway, I have to say your year sounds pretty impressive- don't you dare say not! Just LOOK at all you've accomplished!! Here's hoping 2016 turns out to be even more kickass than 2015! *squishy hugs*

    1. What would I do without my small but awesome squad of cheerleaders? Thank you for shaking your pom-poms at me so enthusiastically!

      Exams in January are SO unfair. But I'm cheerleading for you myself right now. Go and kick some asses! ;)

  6. You had a good 2015! I too, was slacking in all the reviews I had planned to post vs. what I actually posted. I don't feel guilty about taking time off though, 2015 was a mixed bag of good and crap, so I took off when I simply just didn't want to blog.

    As for you not reviewing books that are older? I say do it! I read what I want, when I want, and I don't care if the book is new or not- heck, sometimes running across an older title I meant to read but forgot about is the highlight of my day. Dooooo it.

    I'm in awe of your author interactions! I'm just not good at that, and because I'm such a procrastinator I have trouble with deadlines (honestly, the blog tour site I use is sometimes the only reason I had as many posts as I did, because it is a deadline kind of thing). And I think you handled the author/book dnfing with grace (Karen is a wonderful and wise blogger!).

    It's the 3rd day in January, so I'm going to expect a post from you soon!

    1. I am a lucky gal, since I might get few comments, but they usually are meaningful and heartfelt. This is because I have good taste in friends LOL. Thank you!

      New post? I'm working on it!

  7. Hi, I check your blogs regularly. Your humoristic style is witty, keep doing what you're doing!


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