December 22, 2018

2018 Wrap-Up: In Which I Congratulate Myself

Hello my beauties!
Welcome to my last post of the year, where I will wrap my 2018 up. This was my first whole year since I started blogging when I scheduled all my posts and all my reading. And...it worked like a charm! I won't lie to you - it wasn't always easy. Some hard work was involved. Planning ahead was the easy part - it's what I'm best at. I ADORE filling Excel spreadsheets with all the things I mean to do. I REVEL in breaking books into page numbers and assign them to each day. I'm the best time manager I know (when housekeeping is not involved, that is). And I took great care not to overload, though most of the times, I realised that setting small goals meant that I not only was able to meet them, but even to double them. Like, I set my sight on reading 40 pages on a day, and I ended up reading 80, so that I ultimately found myself moving my daily goals up and up in my schedule. That's how, in July, I had FOURTEEN posts scheduled all through October, what with having planned ahead for Halloween (and I only lacked 3 of them to cover ALL the time slot in the middle).


Still, as I said, it was hard work. All through the year, all through the hottest summer in ages (a.k.a. the season when I was used to call it quits, blog-wise), I strove for productivity and consistency. I had set up a goal of one post a week, and even that was able to stimulate me to do better...to the extent that I managed to end the year with a total of FIFTY-NINE posts - which, in my situation, is a MASSIVE achievement. Now, I can't promise I will be able to replicate my success next year. You never know what kind of lemons life's going to give you. It's not always possible to make lemonade out of them. But I've proved something to myself, and now I know that, in normal conditions, it CAN be done. So, I'm ending this year on a proud and happy note, and I hope I can sustain it for the longest time.

Pt. 1: This Year in Blogging

As of today, I've been blogging for 6 years and a couple of months πŸ˜ƒ.

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


As I said, this is my 59th post this year. I'm just one post shy of an average of 5 per month! *throws fist in the air* (But I wrote one for The Regal Critiques' A Winter's Tale event, so it totally counts as my 60th, right? πŸ˜‰). I even posted SEVEN times in August! Though it was mainly because I had too much time and too little life on my hands. Boss on vacation, then staycation time, but more than anything...the darned heat, and me cooling off at home while typing barely four inches away from my fan...Well, anyway, I was going for at least 52 posts this year (that is, of course, one per week), so I'm proud that I was able to surpass my goal!

Only 23 of my 2018 posts were reviews - which is still better than the 16 of 2017...but I also wrote 5 mini-review posts (that is, I posted 15 of my Goodreads pre-reviews on my blog, 3 at a time). And 9 of my books were fresh from the press (5 of them digital ARCs)...thanks to Curiosity Quills Press and the usual suspects, but also to a new-to-me author (Joshua Winning). I know, not the numbers you're used to, but I'm a backlist/buy-when-I-can lady πŸ˜‰.

b) Events and memes


As you may know, I'm not very much inclined to take part in memes and such when they require my weekly attention or are particularly time-consuming, but I do like short events and small memes. Last year I started participating in Tell Me Something Tuesday, a feature of Heidi's blog Rainy Day Ramblings. As its name suggests, TMST is a weekly meme covering a wide range of bookish related themes, but - unlike Top Ten Tuesday and the likes - it isn't limited to lists. Also, without a Linky, it's a laid-back meme with zero pressure. I'm taking part in it only when the topic strikes my fancy and I do have time. It's helped me a lot with blogging content, and I'm having fun with it. (Not to mention, Heidi usually has an early prompt list, so that I can incorporate them in my schedule and write posts beforehand...do you see a pattern here? πŸ˜‰).

As for my own would-be TV-series-related article series, Screen Time, it was meant to be a monthly feature when I first came up with it, but my ambitious project got put in perspective very soon LOL. No way I could adhere to a schedule like that with a monumental non-book-related feature, while I struggle to write actual reviews and bookish posts! So, I decided to do a ST when I felt like, which apparently only happened twice this year. I made a list of my favourite TV shows of all time...or better, two of them. Here's my Top Three, while all the rest was covered in another post.

c) Reviews


One of my resolutions last year was to write less wordy reviews. I only partially succeeded (it still depends on the book, and it probably always will), but I've tried to refine my reviewing abilities, and I think I've been having more luck with that. My reviews are more organised, less rambly, and never exceed three paragraphs anymore. As I said, the length of those paragraphs highly depends on the book, so it follows crazy patterns, but at least there's that πŸ˜‰. Also, it's a massive improvement over those HUGE blocks of text I used to write until two of years and a half ago or so. *shudders*

These are the books I reviewed this year, broken down by genres/Reading Rooms:

Christopher Pike: Thirst No.1 (urban fantasy, horror) | Thirst No.2 (urban fantasy, horror) | Spellbound (supernatural, horror, thriller/mystery)
Afterlife: A Nighttime of Forever by Matthew S. Cox | A Beginner's Guide to Fangs by Matthew S. Cox | Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace | Queen of Nod by C.W. Snyder (ARC review) | Daphne by B.C. Johnson (ARC review)
Supernatural: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire | Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire | Sentinel by Joshua Winning (series review)
Thriller: Vicious Rumer by Joshua Winning (ARC review) | Crash Alive by Christopher Kerns | Burnout by Adrienne Vrettos
Contemporary: The Art of Escaping by Erin Callahan (ARC review) --- Contemporary with a Twist: Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King
Unwalled: Down to Oath by Tyrolin Puxty | More Than This by Patrick Ness | Balance of Mayhem by Edward Aubry (ARC review) | Backwards by Todd Mitchell
Adult: Caprice by Edward Aubry (thriller/mystery, sci-fi, fantasy) | 13 Tales to Give You Night Terrors by Troy H. Gardner at al. (afterlife, horror, supernatural) | Requiem for the Devil by Jeri Smith-Ready (supernatural, urban fantasy)
Also, I posted 5 Review Morsels installments: the first featuring Parker Peevyhouse, Nova Ren Suma and A.S. King, the second featuring Seanan McGuire, Karen Healey and Barbara Stewart, the third featuring Neal Shusterman, Karen Healey and Nova Ren Suma, the fourth featuring Kali Wallace, Karen Foxlee and A.S. King, and the fifth featuring Ilsa J. Bick, Han Nolan and J.R. Rain et al. (please note: some authors recur, but of course, with different books reviewed).

Oh! and not something I did on my blog, but as I mentioned above, I wrote a guest post for The Regal Critiques called Top 4 Underrated Series I'll Never Stop Shoving at People. I experimented with a different format, and had a lot of fun!
 
d) Author interactions

Matthew S. Cox, Erin Callahan, Joshua Winning

REVIEW-WISE

In February and April, Matthew S. Cox sent me the first two installments of his Vampire Innocent self-pub NA series. I had already reviewed one of his YA novels and a couple of collections featuring two of his short stories through Curiosity Quills Press, so he reached out to me asking if I would be interested in reviewing his self-pub efforts as well. (In August he would offer me another YA book for review, but I had to decline because I was already up to my eyeballs in blog stuff, with a tight schedule meant to give me some respite later in the year, and I was afraid I would burn out). Also in April, I was involved in the blog tour for Joshua Winning's thriller Vicious Rumer (he had contacted me at the end of 2017 asking if I would be interested, and since he's a friend of "my authors" Erin Callahan and Troy H. Gardner's, plus I was curious about the book, I said yes). In July, Joshua reached out to me again asking if I would like to review his supernatural series Sentinel, and again, I said yes. He's a really cool guy, very friendly but also very respectful of bloggers. The best kind to work with πŸ˜ƒ.
In December, I got to review an ARC of a novella by B.C. Johnson, called Daphne, where we follow a side (but still major) character in his Deadgirl series in between the events recounted in Book 2 and 3.

OFF-BLOG

BETA-READING:

In March, Erin Callahan (author of The Art of Escaping and long-time friend of my blog) asked me to beta-read the first chapters of her third solo YA effort (mock title: Horror Thingy πŸ˜‚). Since my friend Carrie from Bright, Beautiful Things had read and loved Erin's first book, plus she's sort of a horror expert (despite her blog's name πŸ˜‚), I advised Erin to enlist her help as well (and me and Carrie got to fangirl about that excerpt lately). In May, Erin also sent me a revised version of her second book, tentatively called The Fictionologist's Daughter (but it will most likely get a different title), an earlier draft of which I had already beta-read the year before. And per my suggestion, Carrie was involved again too. We both are very excited about this one, and I hope Erin manages to sell it soon, also because it's SO VERY RELEVANT to the actual political and social climate in the U.S., though its first drafts pre-date the latest election.
Still off-blog: in October, I got another book for beta-read, Weekend Film Wars by Troy H. Gardner. I had already read early drafts of two novels by Troy in the past, but back then he didn't have an agent yet. Now he does, so I hope this baby will go places. It's a YA rom-com on a horror backdrop, which may sound weird, but it actually works!

GIFTS:

In March, after kind of an adventurous journey, my first physical ARC reached my corner of the world - a special gift from Erin Callahan as a thank-you for helping her (too generous...) with beta-reading said book...her YA solo debut The Art of Escaping. I tried to take decent pics of it, and failed πŸ˜‚. But you can still see them and read the story behind the beta-reading and the ARC here.

e) Discussion posts


Last year, I only wrote ONE discussion post. As I've already said a few times, 2017 was a rough year. I mean, same old same old, but I was feeling less inspired and more tired than ever...until, in the second half of 2017, I started scheduling. Amazingly, that helped. But I initially focused on writing reviews more than on coming up with discussion ideas. This year, apart from the prompts the generous Heidi provided us with in her Tell Me Something Tuesday feature, I've tried and conjured a handful of discussion posts - which is better than none! Four of them to be precise. And please don't mind the somehow egocentric titles...there are question prompts for everyone at the end of the posts! Here goes...

February: From Comment-Γ‡a-Va to No-Comment: When Does a Post Make You Talk?
March: Five Things I've Never Said in My Reviews (And Probably Never Will)
June: The Craft of Reviewing: Or How I Amended My Evil Ways Over the Years
August: Offbeat YA's Most Embar(r)assing Moments!

Pt. 2: Goals for 2019


Last year, I vowed to stay, to try being more consistent and posting more, but without turning it into a chore. I can safely say I succeeded. Again, it involved some hard work on my part - more focus, less slacking, no delays or flimsy excuses. But it was sweet, rewarding work - even if my follower number is still low, but hey, I FINALLY GOT OVER 100! after being stuck at 96 or 97 (?) for so long. Anyway, that's not what counts. I'm happy because I was able to do much more than in the last couple of years, still maintaining the same quality level (or even raising the bar, because I used to write the occasional "sorry for not posting" or "I'm on a hiatus" post now and then, while this year I haven't done it - not once!). So, what I hope for 2019 is to be able to write at least a post a week, to make more blogging friends, to help more authors (if possible). I'm not setting higher goals because I don't want to burn out. But, as with my daily reading schedule this year, I might always end up surpassing my own goals and pleasantly surprise myself. And even if I don't? or if I happen to take a step backward? Well, it won't be the end of the world. You need to do what you need to do. On the one hand, I'm afraid to stop being ahead of my own game - as in, having 14, or even 4, posts scheduled at any given time. But what is scheduling good for, if not for taking a silent hiatus and recharge one's batteries - or doing something else for a change? (OK, I don't have many other things in my life than blogging, but still). So...in 2019, I'll still be here. I'll still be scheduling. I'll still be trying to do my best. I'll still be visiting your blogs and liking your reviews on GR and retweeting your tweets and encouraging those of you who are having it rough, blog-wise or (more importantly) life-wise. Those are the only promises I can make, because I know I can keep them. Whatever happens, I'll be grounded. And ready. And still playing this wonderful blogging game πŸ’—.

Pt. 3: Holidays Hiatus


I plan on enjoying a bit of relax over the holidays, and on heading to a couple of friends' house on the 31st (because yep, THIS year the hubs is free! He's a switchboard operator at the local hospital, and last year he had to work the night shift!) . I'll be back on January 5th with a new post about my birthday/Christmas book haul! As you might now by now, since my birthday and Christmas are close to each other, every year in December I treat myself with a bunch of physical books from this Italian webseller that also sports a rather wide selection of books in English. I'll let you know what I ordered!

In the end...

(I bet you're surprised to see this guy πŸ˜‚)

And a Happy New Year of course πŸ˜ƒ.
See you next year! Take care 😘.

30 comments:

  1. Congratulations on having such a successful year! It's been great reading your posts, and seeing things go so well. I love your "monster" posts because they go really in-depth about how you feel about a book, and you definitely don't mince words. I might not be able to read them every week, but I love going back and reading a few at once when time permits. Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday! - Shayna

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    1. Aw, you are so nice. Sometimes I think my posts are just a tad too, you know, long-winded πŸ˜‰. I'm so glad to hear someone loves them nevertheless. Congrats on your two years of blogging and your 85 posts this year! I plan on being more consistent in visiting your blog, because I know I failed at it...

      Happy Holidays to you as well! πŸŽ…☃πŸ’«

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    2. I 1000% love that you took the time to look at my blog to figure out how many posts I've completed (and how long I've been around). And don't worry - I definitely would appreciate you reading things (whether they are old or new posts), but I know that everyone's life gets busy.

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    3. It was my pleasure to look. And I'll look again! πŸ˜‰

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  2. You're a scheduling master! I'm glad the schedules worked so well for you :-) Sounds like you've had a great blogging year! And your 2019 goals sounds very attainable. Happy Holidays!

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    1. LOL, That's probably the only thing I'm good for.

      Thank you, and Happy Holidays to you too! I hope the teeth-gate will come to an end soon!

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  3. I don't think I ever had more than 5 posts scheduled ahead of time. You're a scheduling beast, and I agree, planning definitely makes your life easier. I like TMST, and participate every once in a while, but I love TTT too much to abandon it. Congratulations on a great year, and I hope you have an amazing holiday.

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    1. Heh, I used to have ZERO posts scheduled until mid-2017...also, 14 was a one-time wonder for me, and I don't think it will happen again anytime soon LOL. 5 posts is great! Plus you're always coming up with those amazing discussion posts, while I fail in that department.

      Congrats to you too, and Happy Holidays!

      Delete
  4. LOOK AT CHU GO ROBERTA. Your productivity put me to shame and I even wondered, "WHO IS THIS PERSON DO I KNOW YOU ANYMORE." πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

    And excuse you, I break the rules of Top Ten Tuesday all the time. You know you love them. 😌

    Also like Tessa and me may have said, you should come join us on Discord! I talk too much but you know... Great place for me to annoyingly say good morning as well. πŸ˜‚

    SPEAKING OF WHICH GOOD MORNING ROBERTA. May this comment greet you in the new year if you don't approve it until then. 😜

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    1. Actually, the real me got abducted by aliens, but SHHHHH. You know, watching Doctor Who all the time has its perks πŸ˜‰.

      I read TTT posts sometimes...or I read the ones my closest friends write...but the meme is too popular for me LOL. I could never keep up with all the people and the posts!

      Thank you again, but I'll pass. I can't cope with another social media. But have fun, girls! And you can wish me good morning anywhere, anytime, even if I happen to read your comment/tweet at six in the evening. At worst, it will make for a small time-travel device πŸ˜‚.

      I APPROVE MY COMMENTS IN A VERY TIMELY MANNER OK 😑 😜.

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    2. LISTEN, ROBERTA, YOU SAID YOU'RE TAKING A SMOL HIATUS UNTIL NEXT YEAR. "I plan on enjoying a bit of relax over the holidays." IT DIDN'T SAY POSTS. 😜😝

      And of course I will, because well... WHY NOT. What's a better way to wake up to a good morning across the pond and some grass quite literally? Muahahaha.

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    3. No better way. I swear πŸ˜‰

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  5. Yay! Congrats on such a successful blogging year! 59 posts is quite an achievement, and you had so many exciting things in there as far as author interactions, beta reading, etc., along with some great reviews. It's such a nice feeling to meet (and exceed!) your goals.

    Thanks so much for the lovely shoutout and the wonderful introduction to beta reading! I can't imagine having a better experience with it than I had with you and Erin. <3 I also had a chance to read your Regal Critiques post for the first time! I love your choices! White Space is definitely on my TBR next year. A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you!

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    1. Thank you for being a wonderful buddy reader/beta-reader, for always being there for me and my blog, and for putting a huge smile on my face so many times! Happy Holidays hon!

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  6. Congrats on everything you achieved this year, Roby! I can see scheduling did wonders for you - and can say so myself that scheduling is so helpful and also takes the stress out of blogging, at least for me. Wow, SIX years of blogging - that's fantastic. Hope your 2019 will be just as good - or even better! Happy holidays and have fun on the 31st! :)

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    1. You girls did awesomely as well! And yep - scheduling saved my little blogging ass LOL.

      Thank you and Happy Holidays! Here's to another successful blogging year for us both (or, well, four LOL).

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  7. What an incredibly successful blogging year, Roby! So, so proud of you- it's evident that you've preplanned a LOT and it has obviously paid off because, wow, that's quite a number you've got there! And yes, you can totally count your post for us, in which case your monthly average is a massive 5. Wow! I'm glad you managed to outdo yourself this year- hope the next is as productive- if not even more so! You so totally deserve a break- hope you enjoy the rest of the year! Happy holidays!

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    1. I owe a good chunk of my "success" to all you blogging friends, who have been cheering for me all along, even when you didn't have the time to comment or weren't even blogging yourselves. I knew you were out there, or I saw your likes and RTs, and I felt validated.

      I hope you finally get to slay all your uni commitments and can go back to reading for fun AND posting. Here's to a great new year!

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  8. you are so productive, I wish I can blog more like you. I would like to schedule posts as well but I seem to veer away from it for some reason, I guess I'm more into doing things on a whim as I don't like spreadsheets and looking them makes me think of work and that somehow gets me not to use them. but I do make list of things to do and not do them. but that's something, right?

    congrats on finishing out the blogging year & have a lovely holiday.

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    1. Haha, I have a friend who's exactly like you. If she plans on doing something (especially blogging related), she ends up doing the opposite. Spreadsheets are not for everyone, I guess. I like to fill them...to stare at them...to move things up and down them...I'm hopeless πŸ˜‚. But I totally understand that they can look like work. On the other hand, maybe you can try and set smaller goals for yourself, to see if you can acquire the taste. Or maybe not, because it's not mandatory LOL. As my friends above says, whatever works!

      Happy Holidays to you, and I hope you have a great year ahead of yourself!

      Delete
  9. I am not as organized when it comes to my reading! I'm more of a go-with-the-flow reader, haha. I read when I can, and write reviews when it's convenient. The little ones keep me pretty busy, but I try to make a little time every day.

    I haven't always been fond of spreadsheets, but I do love making lists and crossing things off! I'm happy you've found a system that works for you!

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? πŸ’¬

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    1. I understand that kids prevent you from making plans and sticking to them...but you're doing great all the same! So you're the real wonder woman here πŸ˜‰ πŸ‘.

      Crossing things out provides sort of a perverse enjoyment LOL. I do it with hand-written spreadsheets, but my blogging one is an Excel document. And it took me 4 and a half years of blogging before I started using it, so I'm a late bloomer haha.

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  10. Happy New Year!!!

    I will start off by saying that I am SO PROUD OF YOU! Your scheduling system has worked wonders and I got to read so many amazing posts by you this year. Of course, I hope that you can meet your goal of 52 posts again next year, but I will still be cheering you on regardless of how often you post.

    Also, I loved your reviews this year. I have never thought that they were too long (which could be because I tend to write longer reviews myself anyway), but you always make books sound interesting. Even if I haven't read any of the other books in the series, your reviews are always informative and entertaining.

    You even got me to participate in a few Tell Me Something Tuesdays throughout the year, when I didn't do Top Ten Tuesday. I love your reviews, but I have also enjoyed your discussions. I have always kind of struggled with coming up with discussion post ideas too, so I know how much of an accomplishment writing four really is!

    I am glad that you had a great year and I am looking forward to what 2019 will bring for you and your blog!

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    1. Awwwww. I couldn't ask for a better cheerleader, could I? 😊 😘

      It means a lot to me that you validate my reviews. They're usually the posts that receive less love (well, not mine only), which is sort of counter-intuitive for a book blog but well, that's a topic for another day I guess (A DISCUSSION POST???). I still think that I should keep them shorter (if not sweeter LOL) because not everyone has the patience for reading such long-winded ramblings, but try as I might, more often than not I...seem to have a lot of feelings/thoughts to unpack LOL. But you get me, don't you, my fellow long-review writer? πŸ˜‰

      TMST is a great way to produce content, also because the topics are always interesting (though I skip some of them because they don't meet my blogging needs, I can see their potential for other people). I can't take full credit for those discussion because I didn't come up with the prompts myself (which is HAAAAARD), but I'm glad that the execution is pleasant at least haha. I'm also glad that you decided to participate in the meme if sporadically, and I hope to see more TMST posts for you, because you articulate your thoughts so well.

      Here's to a great new blogging year for both of us! I hope the balance you found between blogging and studying will stick - scratch that, I'm sure it will πŸ‘.

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    2. I think that we both had pretty good years, if I do say so myself. And I don't know if it would have happened without you, MY cheerleader.

      As for reviews, I will always advocate for longer reviews (without spoilers, of course). For me, reading a book can be a large time investment so I would rather go in with a pretty solid expectation. Not to mention that I want to know about any potential representation or diversity issues in a book, which requires a longer, more detailed review. So, that was just a long-winded way to say that I love long reviews. If you are worried about length, you can always have a shorter summary at the end. Personally, I bold the most important sentences/phrases for those who like to skim.

      I am crossing my fingers that I can stay productive as both as student and a blogger. I already have three posts for January, so things are on the right track!

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    3. Quote: "I don't know if it would have happened without you, MY cheerleader."
      AWWWWW. I'm sure it would have, but it's still a lovely thought 😘.

      I prefer long review as well, but I know most people don't have the time and patience to go through them. Then again, sometimes you can say a lot in a short review as well. I bold the most important points too (as you surely have noticed), plus I have my Pros and Cons at the beginning, so...I hope it helps.

      I'm pretty sure you can keep on the right track! Yes, time is a HUGE factor, and sometimes you have to prioritise a thing or the other, but until the inner fire burns, you keep going and manage to multitask. And I can see that fire in you right now πŸ˜‰.

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  11. I had thought I commented on this already but I must have read it but not been able to type because of my hand lol

    I think you did amazing this year and you seem happier?? maybe about blogging in general. Or at least that's the impression I get.

    Here's to a good 2019 of blogging!

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. I hope your hand is better now! Especially since I just approved 3 of your comments. I'd hate to be the reason why you're feeling sore LOL.

      I'm not sure if I'm happier...maybe I just feel like I have a purpose, and I know that a handful of friends will always read my posts, if not always comment on them. Which is what I do myself, so I can't complain LOL.

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  12. I know I'm late, but CONGRATS on a super-successful year of blogging- you've achieved so much! Hope 2019 is turning out to be even better so far <3 I intend to drop by more this time around at least. I've missed you!

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    1. Thank you hon!

      Aw, I'm missing you girls too (but you totally earned your collective hiatus!).

      Delete

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