Tag Archives: Blogging

Movie Endeavors?

Like most others, when I first meet people I tend to hold back some of the more less favorable facts about myself. Like that I enjoy peanut butter and turkey bacon sandwiches, or that I’ve watched nearly every episode of Who Wants to Be the Next Food Network Star? (I’m still trying to catch up from the half-season I missed while moving across the country). And although I know it’s enjoying a surge of immense popularity, I hate red velvet cake and have never much cared for cream cheese frosting, either.

Maybe the most damning is the fact that I don’t really like movies. Sure, there are some that capture my heart enough that I’ll watch them again and again. Miracle, Grumpy Old Men, Wild America, and 27 Dresses all make the list of favorites. But I tend to be very hesitant to try new movies. Halfway through, I’ll find myself looking at the clock, trying to figure out how much longer it will last. You might blame this on a short attention span caused by the instantaneous Internet Age, but I can watch episode after episode of a television show without losing interest. There’s just something about movies that makes most of them drag for me.

I have a special affection for this one after my own cross-country road trip.

But this week I made a discovery bound to entirely shape my vision of cinematic possibilities. I made a visit to one of the last, and undoubtedly the best, video rental stores: Scarecrow Video. Every obscure movie I have ever watched or wanted to watch, they have available. The way they’ve organized their titles made this budding librarian swoon; movies within the adventure section are also subcategorized by type – jungle, knights, swashbucklers. A large selection of foreign films arranged by country. And a whole section devoted to British films, British comedy television, British dramatic television series, and so on.

Wait a second, you might be saying. Isn’t this blog called Book Endeavors? What are you harping on about movies for? (You are probably not actually saying this, dear reader. You are likely far smarter than the rhetorical straw man reader I frequently converse with. But I digress.) Some of my other favorite movies are based upon books. I use the 1980s Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea movies as a frequent point of reference for life. I adore the Richard Harris/Jim Caviezel The Count of Monte Cristo. And one of my favorite movies of all time, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, is based on a novel (which I haven’t read, but the story is fantastic). Sadly, as an independent movie, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont has been difficult to find, but luckily Scarecrow Video has it. It has all of these.

Seriously, if you can find it, watch it. Especially if a) you’re a writer, or b) have ever worked in a retirement home setting.

Even better, the store has a room dedicated to movies based on books and plays. Movies about authors’ lives. Documentaries and biopics about authors, and movies explaining theories and criticism about literary works and worlds. Interviews with authors, and compilations of poets’ readings. Shelves of Jane Austen and Dickens adaptations. Every movie exploring Narnia you could think of. And then in the children’s section they have all of the television series devoted to exploring L. M. Montgomery’s books – Emily of New Moon and The Road to Avonlea (a combination of Avonlea and Story Girl books).

It’s basically an English and Creative Writing B.A.’s dreams incarnated in a video store. Which is not the first place I would’ve looked for enlightenment. Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont was checked out when I went there yesterday, but I’ll be back for it. In the meantime, I rented Vitus – a Swiss movie I watched during college in pursuit of German 200 Culture and Communication Points – and The Way We Were. I have to thank my friend Paige for the latter; if anyone has helped me expand my horizons when it comes to films, she has. Before we became friends, I honestly thought Robert Redford was a fictional character.

What’s your favorite movie based on a book? Let me know in comments.

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To the Library, and Beyond!

As a student about to start her master’s in library and information science, it probably won’t come as a surprise that I, you know, like libraries. Throughout high school and some of college I probably single-handedly kept my public library in business with my excessive fines. I know some people will go to the library, pick out a book or maybe two, then return it and find another. My library style has always been a bit more gluttonous: grab everything that looks interesting off the shelves. A week or two of fines adds up when you have fifteen to twenty overdue items. With the help of phone alarms and e-mail reminders, my on-time return rate has greatly improved in recent years.

The past few weeks have taken my appreciation of libraries on a very practical level. On one of my mom and sister’s last nights in Seattle, we watched Matilda together. While watching the disdain of Mr. Wormwood, Matilda’s father, for reading, libraries, and anything remotely intellectual, I was struck by an important but fleeting thought: I’m lucky to have been born into a family that loves the library as much as I do. One of my earliest memories is my mom doing up my hair for the Beach Day-themed story hour, and the highlight of middle school was the annual system-wide interlibrary “Battle of the Books” competition. So I suppose I’ve taken libraries and easy library-access for granted, just based on their continual presence in my own life.

As I mentioned last post, my apartment for August has no WiFi. I do have a smartphone, for which I’m grateful, but I have a limited data plan and too much impatience to use it for sending e-mails or messages longer than a sentence or two. It’s like trying to live on Ramen after years of dining hall meals – endurable, but hardly satiating. And my first month in Seattle has definitely given me experience in being creative with limited resources, both virtual and victual.

Coffee shops have been my first destination for Internet access. I have a found a few rare gems – coffeehouses with plentiful seating, power outlets, and low prices. But even the cheapest coffee shop still costs a few dollars, and I feel guilty for staying past the end of my tea. While I’m writing this, I’m actually at the coffee shop with the best drinks I’ve had in Seattle yet, but the worst WiFi. I’m lucky if I can get it to work for five minutes. At the moment, it’s not working at all.

At any rate, enter the library. The magical solution to all the world’s problems. Honestly, my dad had to suggest it to me when I explained my dilemma. At first I brushed off the suggestion, thinking that since I’m not yet able to get a library card (as I lack proof of address/Washington State ID), so I can only use their computers for thirty minutes at a time. Then it occurred to me that I could bring my laptop and use their WiFi for free. For as long as I wanted. So I’ve started spending lots of time at the library, either on my computer or reading books. Unfortunately, as I have no card, I can’t check things out. But I can use their Internet to look for jobs, housing, catch up on my Netflix. And just sit there and read books for free, so I don’t fall too terribly far behind on my 2013 GoodReads goal. The possibilities are endless.


So this blog post has mainly been a combo testimonial and public service announcement. Don’t take your local libraries for granted. They’re a brilliant resource that do more than provide written entertainment for the masses. Next time your computer or WiFi or television breaks, if you want something new to read but it’s not in the budget – head to your library. Add them on Facebook, or check out their summer programming. And for those of you that already have, if you’re anything like me, I suggest you check your due dates!

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Getting Tumblr: A Beginner’s Guide

If you’ve read my About Me section, you may have noticed the link to my book tumblr. It originally started as an aid for my thesis project, but it’s grown into much more for me: a way of collecting resources, following book releases and trends, and making connections with people interested in similar topics. Since starting it, I’ve more or less abandoned my personal tumblr in order to devote more of my free-time to one of my favorite hobbies – reading about reading.

Despite what that first paragraph might’ve led you to believe, this post actually isn’t dedicated to shamelessly plugging my tumblr. I’m mostly going to focus on my advice for using Tumblr effectively. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert, but I’ve been using Tumblr for a year and a half now. Hopefully sharing from my personal experience might help get people who’ve been meaning to start tumblrs (but aren’t really sure how) started.

1)      Microblogging: Tumblr is a different kind of blog than WordPress or Blogger. It’s often referred to instead as “microblogging.” Tumblr makes it easy to share and comment on other people’s ideas. This creates more of a dialogue than the typical one-directional blog post you’d find on WordPress. Tumblr blogs, also known as “tumblogs,” are a lot more like the comments section from a traditional blog post– more back-and-forth. Try to avoid writing too many long posts. Post those to a separate site and link to them, or hide them behind a “Read More” cut.

2)      The Dashboard: The dashboard, often called just “the dash,” is one of Tumblr’s main features. It functions a lot like a Facebook newsfeed, and allows you to endlessly scroll through posts – text, pictures, links, and so on – from the tumblrs you follow. This is another reason why you should keep your tumblr posts relatively short.  Imagine if every status update on Facebook was a page long; it would really clog the newsfeed. Ideally, the dashboard allows a user to sort through a lot of material quickly, pausing to click links of interest if they want more in-depth information.

This is a dashboard. On it, you can see all your followers' posts. Notice the search box in the upper right-hand corner. The reblog button appears as the third icon on the upper right of each post as two arrows in a loop (right next to the heart icon.)

This is a dashboard. On it, you can see all your followers’ posts. Notice the search box in the upper right-hand corner. The reblog button appears as the third icon on the upper right (right next to the heart icon.)

3)      Choosing Followers: In order to have an interesting dashboard, it’s important to only follow users who post material of interest to you. Before following any tumblogs, browse its first few pages of posts. Even if their most recent post fascinated you, it’s a good idea to check and make sure that most of their posts are on topics you care about. If you’re creating a blog on a certain topic, only follow blogs that are dedicated to similar ones. This cuts down the time you have to spend sorting through posts for material your followers would be interested in.

Searching the blogs and tags is probably the best way to get started finding blogs to follow. The search box appears in the upper right corner of your dashboard. Type a topic, and you can look through the results for tumblogs with the same interests. Once you’ve found some good tumblogs that way, start looking at where those tumblogs reblog material from. Once you start posting and reblogging, you’ll probably start gaining some followers; sometimes those followers run similar blogs and are worth following back.

4)      Creating Posts: As mentioned earlier, Tumblr offers users a chance to create several different kinds of posts, such as text, links, pictures, and quotes. My first piece of advice is to always try to include a source for information, images, video, etc. that aren’t yours. This is especially important if you’re planning on using your tumblr as a professional or semi-professional resource. It helps establish your tumblog as a more trustworthy source. I think it’s also important to give credit where credit is due.

Secondly, tag your posts. Remember back in step four when I suggested looking through tags for people to follow? Other users also use tags as a means of finding interesting posts and tumbloggers. I usually add five or six tags to each of my posts. For instance, for a post about a book I’d just read, I’d probably tag it with the author’s name and the genre, as well as “reading,” “books,” and “book reviews.” This would help my post be found by people who might be looking for book blogs like mine. I know tagging has been a major way I’ve gained followers. As a devout Melina Marchetta fan, for example, many people have found my tumblog through posts I’ve made in the Melina Marchetta tag.

This shows what happens when you click the "reblog" icon. It allows you to add or remove text at the bottom of the post and add your own tags. If you want to reblog a post without changing or adding anything, you can just hold down Alt when you press the reblog button in order to reblog more quickly.

This shows what happens when you click the “reblog” icon. It allows you to add or remove text at the bottom of the post and add your own tags. If you want to reblog a post without changing or adding anything, you can just hold down Alt when you press the reblog button in order to reblog more quickly.

5)      Reblogging: By now you’ve probably heard me use the phrase “reblogging” a few times. Reblogging is basically the equivalent of sharing someone else’s post on Facebook. All the posts you see on your dashboard, you can easily “reblog” to your own page and spread them to your followers’ dashboards. Aside from just sharing as is, you can also add your own thoughts to the post. This feature makes Tumblr a great channel for discussion between bloggers, allowing that back-and-forth discourse I mentioned earlier. Just make sure that you are not only reblogging others’ posts, but creating your own as well. It is by bringing in outside resources and adding your own perspective that you distinguish your blog from similar ones.

Hopefully this post helped those trying to “get” what Tumblr’s all about. It might not be directly book-related, but it’s a tool I often use to stay involved and up-to-date with the YA lit community. I thought perhaps this tutorial might be useful to readers who haven’t yet joined the lovely Tumblr bandwagon. If there’s interest, in the future I might write a post highlighting some of my favorite book and library tumblr blogs. If you want to elaborate on or disagree with my suggestions for new Tumblr users, feel free to do so in comments! The more perspectives, the merrier!

Here are a few resources with some of the how-to’s of Tumblr, such as using the “Read More” cut and customizing themes:

General Tips For Using Tumblr
6 Tips to Start Creating Content on Tumblr

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