Daily Archives: June 20, 2009

Bloggiesta: Update THREE

blogiesta

Saturday, June 20th @ 9:30 PM

I accomplished a lot today. I will not hit my goal of 18 hours for this challenge, but at the time I set that goal I did not know I would be working all day on Friday. So given my change in plans, I will be very happy if I get to 14 hours for this challenge. And I am accomplishing a lot…although I had hoped to do more of the mini challenges. I will be getting up early tomorrow to do some more blogging before the deadline of 8:00 AM!

Total Amount of Time Spent on Event TO DATE: 12.0 hours

Total Mini Challenges Completed:

  1. Ruth from Bookish Ruth asked us to analyze our blog using this a website grader. My results were a score of 98.2 which according to HubSpot’s algorithm ‘has calculated that this site scores higher than 98.2% of them in terms of its marketing effectiveness‘ AND ‘www.caribousmom.com ranks 18,020 of the 1,038,724 websites that have been ranked so far.‘ I was pleasantly surprised! But there are some things I could do to score higher including adding a Meta Description to my blog title and submitting articles to digg.com which I will probably do.
  2. Lynn from Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile encouraged us to get our blog listed on one of the many, many social networking sites (she has listed a lot of them with links if you are interested!). I decided to get listed with BlogCatalog. It was free and easy to do!
  3. Jen at Devourer of Books asked us to spend some time updating old posts, fixing mistakes, and correctly bad links. We had to do at least 3 pages. I used a great tool from Firefox which allowed me to quickly identify bad links on each page. Unfortunately I learned a hard lesson while doing this – apparently each time I updated a post and used a new date for the post, it changed the link! So I had a TON of bad links for my 2008 reading journal. I’ve corrected them up through June (most of them are links to the challenge posts) which took me 3.5 hours!!! Yikes! BUT, I have also corrected all links on 3 other pages as well. This looks like it is going to be a long term project…but at least I’ve made a start.
  4. Amy at My Friend Amy challenged us to find ourselves a blogging buddy. Michelle at 1 More Chapter is a great blogging buddy to have…we already share a blog at Notable Books, and I post to Michelle’s spectacular Novels Now blog (along with some other fantastic bloggers). We also seem to share a lot of reading challenges. Michelle is an amazing blog designer and knows code…and she has been incredibly helpful to me on more than one occasion …she made my beautiful header and got me started when I got my own domain, and today she spent a good part of her day creating a new look for me (please drop by and see what you think). We’re not formally blogging buddies, but I feel like we connect in that way…I hope Michelle feels the same way!
  5. Rebecca at The Book Lady’s Blog challenged us to clean up our feed readers. I went in and deleted several blogs which are no longer active and made a nice dent in my numbers. I still need to do more, but I’ve made a good start.

How Am I Doing On My List? (partially complete highlighted in RED, completed are slashed out)

  1. Update and add to my THE LISTS pages (I’m moving lists from this site to here and will be closing that blog at the end of the year)
  2. Create Sunday Salon post for the 21st
  3. Wrote an acknowledgment post on A Novel Challenge blog for an award
  4. Respond to all comments left on my blog
  5. Create Mailbox Monday post for the 22nd
  6. Create Friday Finds post for the 26th
  7. Migrate Women Writers posts from that blog to this one (I will be closing my Women Writers blog by the end of the year since I seem to never post new content to it) – I’ve decided to keep these posts as drafts and re-post them to my blog when it seems the right time to do so.
  8. Create 2 to 3 Women Writers NEW POSTS for a rainy day!
  9. Create a summer reading post.
  10. Create a Noteworthy News post.
  11. Clean up broken links on my blog – Thanks to Lesley from Lesley’s Book Nook who emailed with a Firefox Add-on called Link Evaluator, this part of my list got a whole lot easier. Thank you, Lesley!! I have analyzed the following pages and fixed the broken links on them: Reviews, 2009 Reading Journal, The Lists (not individual lists, but the page where it lists the lists!), and up through June on my 2008 Reading Journal.
  12. Organize my challenge lists.
  13. Update blog links in my right side bar – this is going to take longer than this challenge allows. I am going through my Google Reader and deleting inactive blogs; then I will begin adding new links to my sidebar. There does not seem to be an easy way to link/share my blogroll in my feed reader…which is what I would like to do since I have so many blogs I follow.
  14. Catch up on reviews – I posted a review of my latest read (Love Begins In Winter) to my blog and to Novels Now; and updated all my challenge links, links to other blogs, review page, and Library Thing for Love Begins in Winter AND for What The Dead Know.

Bloggiesta: Update TWO

blogiesta

Saturday, June 20th @ 3:45 PM

Just checking in and letting you all know that I am still participating. I blogged for a couple of hours this morning, then was out doing the yard sales and library book sale in our town for a couple of hours. For the last 3.5 hours I’ve been very diligent…and I am ready to take a short break here! Below are my “stats” thus far!!

Total Amount of Time Spent on Event TO DATE: 7.5 hours

Total Mini Challenges Completed:

  1. Ruth from Bookish Ruth asked us to analyze our blog using this a website grader. My results were a score of 98.2 which according to HubSpot’s algorithm ‘has calculated that this site scores higher than 98.2% of them in terms of its marketing effectiveness‘ AND ‘www.caribousmom.com ranks 18,020 of the 1,038,724 websites that have been ranked so far.‘ I was pleasantly surprised! But there are some things I could do to score higher including adding a Meta Description to my blog title and submitting articles to digg.com which I will probably do.
  2. Lynn from Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile encouraged us to get our blog listed on one of the many, many social networking sites (she has listed a lot of them with links if you are interested!). I decided to get listed with BlogCatalog. It was free and easy to do!
  3. Jen at Devourer of Books asked us to spend some time updating old posts, fixing mistakes, and correctly bad links. We had to do at least 3 pages. I used a great tool from Firefox which allowed me to quickly identify bad links on each page. Unfortunately I learned a hard lesson while doing this – apparently each time I updated a post and used a new date for the post, it changed the link! So I had a TON of bad links for my 2008 reading journal. I’ve corrected them up through June (most of them are links to the challenge posts) which took me 3.5 hours!!! Yikes! BUT, I have also corrected all links on 3 other pages as well. This looks like it is going to be a long term project…but at least I’ve made a start.

How Am I Doing On My List? (partially complete highlighted in RED, completed are slashed out)

  1. Update and add to my THE LISTS pages (I’m moving lists from this site to here and will be closing that blog at the end of the year)
  2. Create Sunday Salon post for the 21st
  3. Wrote an acknowledgment post on A Novel Challenge blog for an award
  4. Respond to all comments left on my blog
  5. Create Mailbox Monday post for the 22nd
  6. Create Friday Finds post for the 26th
  7. Migrate Women Writers posts from that blog to this one (I will be closing my Women Writers blog by the end of the year since I seem to never post new content to it)
  8. Create 2 to 3 Women Writers NEW POSTS for a rainy day!
  9. Create a summer reading post.
  10. Create a Noteworthy News post.
  11. Clean up broken links on my blog – Thanks to Lesley from Lesley’s Book Nook who emailed with a Firefox Add-on called Link Evaluator, this part of my list got a whole lot easier. Thank you, Lesley!! Tonight I analyzed the following pages and fixed the broken links on them: Reviews, 2009 Reading Journal, The Lists (not individual lists, but the page where it lists the lists!), and up through June on my 2008 Reading Journal.
  12. Organize my challenge lists.
  13. Update blog links in my right side bar.
  14. Catch up on reviews – I posted a review of my latest read (Love Begins In Winter) to my blog and to Novels Now; and updated all my challenge links, links to other blogs, review page, and Library Thing for Love Begins in Winter AND for What The Dead Know.

Love Begins In Winter – Book Review

lovebeginsinwinter And then suddenly an arm of sunlight reached through a high window and opened its hand upon her face. I saw her eyes as clearly as if we had been pressed against one another in a very small space. – from Love Begins in Winter, page 41 –

Simon Van Booy’s five story collection, Love Begins in Winter, explores the lives of ordinary men and women who stumble upon love in all its many forms.  From the lonely and grieving cellist who literally bumps into the woman who becomes his lover, to the young gypsy boy who lingers outside the home of two girls who have lost their parents … Van Booy’s characters take the reader on a journey of the heart. Threaded through these simple stories are the themes of self identity, grief, longing, and renewal.

Van Booy is a poet and a journalist who has lived in London, Wales, Greece, Paris and New York City – and these experiences are apparent in his writing. Lyrical and stylistic, Van Booy’s prose is a bit like listening to a complicated musical performance – at once beautiful and elusive. He sets his characters in places like Montreal in the winter, and in St. Peter’s square in Rome, and along the steep cliffs of Ireland – places that invite introspection.

One story in this collection baffled me. Tiger, Tiger is disjointed and confusing, a story about a pediatrician and her boyfriend which draws on childhood memories and behavior. It is the second piece in the collection which,  had it not been for the wonderful title story, I might have put the book down. I am glad I did not.

My favorite story in the collection is the title story: Love Begins In Winter. From the first, the reader understands that Bruno Bonnet, a cellist, holds grief in his heart from the loss of his childhood friend. He carries her mitten in his pocket at each of his performances.

If only one of them recognized me, I could slip from the branches of my life, brush time from my clothes, and begin the long journey across the fields to the place where I first disappeared. A boy leaning crookedly on a gate, waiting for his best friend to get up. The back wheel of Anna’s bicycle still spinning. – from Love Begins in Winter, page 4 –

Van Booy captures the loneliness of the protagonist, even when Bruno is in the bustling city of Los Angeles.

Further north, approaching Hollywood – hot dog stands with neon arrows and faded paint; tattooed women with chopped black hair buying lip gloss at Hollywood pharmacies; a homeless man pushes a shopping cart full of shoes but he is barefoot. He keeps looking behind. His stomach hangs out. Sometime in the 1960s he was delivered into the trembling hands of his mother. If only it could happen again. Los Angeles is a place where dreams balance forever on the edge of coming true. A city on a cliff held fast by its own weight. – from Love Begins in Winter, page 50 –

It is only when the cellist meets Hannah, a woman who still mourns the loss of her brother, that he realizes he is no longer alone in the world. Love Begins in Winter is a touching story about the healing power of love.

I also was delighted with The Coming and Going of Strangers which revolves around a love sick gypsy boy named Walter living in Ireland.

Walter wheeled his hot, ticking motorbike up and down the muddy lane, breathing with the rhythm of a small, determined engine. Fists of breath hovered and then opened over each taken-step. He would soon be within sight of his beloved’s house. – from The Coming and Going of Strangers, page 135 –

In this tale about first love, Van Booy provides a wonderful surprise ending that lifts the story a notch above excellent.

In The City of Windy Trees, a character named George Frack receives a letter which completely changes the course of his life. I loved this story about the renewal of the human spirit through our connections with others.

Van Booy captures the essence of what makes us human, and how love can be found in the most unexpected places. Readers who love poetry will enjoy this collection of stories which often feel like long, narrative poems.

Highly recommended.

4hStars