Archive for May, 2010

May 26th, 2010

Booking, Blogging & Balance (The 3 B’s)

by Gwen

I have a few addictions that I need to tell you about in order to help you. That is right, I need to come clean to help me, help you. My name is Gwen and I am addicted to blogging, blog reading, web surfing, crafting, Diet Coke, and most of all, reading.

Before I get out of bed in the morning, I quickly grab the iPod from under my pillow to start reading blogs and checking email. (In case you are wondering, Sleep Talkin’ Man is way I like to start my day) At last count, I subscribe to over 200 blogs and I would guess that about 90% of those update at least once a day.

Once I get up, I do those morning things that we all do, like waking up the kid and getting him ready for school and then it is time to hit the laptop.


My name is Murphy Grace and I will wear a backpack & pose, but flunked out of obedience school.

I could spend all day surfing, writing, and reading. I also work from home. Yet, I rather spend all of my time reading, surfing, and tweeting. The problem with my lack of organizational skills or self-control, I tend to get nothing done. I. Mean. Nothing.

To the rescue comes Charlie at Productive Flourishing. Charlie is a genius at getting your blog and freelance time organized with his planners and he gives you them to try out for FREE. There is one specially for blogging. (just scroll down the planners page to find it)

I still don’t have the perfect system, but I am getting there.

Do you have a great system that will help me more time with that furry baby above?

How do you balance reading, working, living, and blogging? If you share your tips, I promise feature you in a future wrap-up post! (I have already scheduled it on my handy dandy Productive Flourishing calendar.)

Run over to the ArmChairBEA to see all of the brilliant ideas and bookish things posted today.


May 24th, 2010

How to Get an Author Interview

by Gwen

So, your blog is growing and you want to start having some interaction with authors. Congratulations and I bet you are wondering how to go about getting the authors to clamor at your inbox for interviews, right?

You want in on the secret? The big secret? Come over here, I don’t want the person sitting next to you to hear…….You have to ask. It is often that simple.

Now, hold on dear book blogger, you have to ask nicely and tell them a bit about yourself and your blog. Don’t gush, telling them that you would dance naked, just die if they agree, or that you sacrifice animals nightly on the altar where you store their book. Authors, for the most part, like to hear from readers/bloggers. Point out something that you really liked about their book; what touched you. Then tell them about yourself and your blog and ask if they have a few minutes to do an interview. It shouldn’t be a long email, just a few sentences. After all, we want them to be working on their next book, not our novel of an email.

**Big learning note here-It is a good idea if you already have some basic questions in mind before you ask. I can’t tell you how many times I have not been prepared, assuming that they would say no, only to have them say yes, get the questions to me ASAP.

Oh, are you like me? Not so sure what to ask?

Well, what do you want to know that someone hasn’t already asked them? Do your research. Look at their website, FAQs if they have them, bios, other interviews they have done, other books that they have written. You are a cub reporter now. You must do your research.

For the best interview, in my opinion, you MUST be original and flexible. An interview that I read recently at Rose City Reader with Audrey Braun has fast become one of my favorites. It was fun to read and made me feel like I was sharing drinks with friends. Even better for the author, I wanted to go out and buy her books.

A Note on Timelines

Authors, just like us bloggers, have lives and can’t drop everything to respond to you immediately. If they don’t respond right away, give it some time. It isn’t all about you. Also, once they agree and you send them questions, give that some time too. They often have book tours, kids, laundry, writing contracts, etc., and all of those things that take a back seat to answering your insightful questions. I suggest to them that they get back to me within 3-4 weeks. They often come back much sooner, but this allows me some time to schedule it in my editorial calendar and them some breathing room.

Let’s recap before we move on and tell you to stay tuned for the rest on Thursday

  • What interviews? Don’t be afraid to ask.
  • Keep the request simple and succinct.
  • Do your research & be original without being weird or campy.
  • Let the author take their time. Don’t expect it to happen overnight.
  • Remember to leave out the creepy gushiness that you are really feeling. You are a confident semi-pro blogger, not a crazy woman at a rock concert tossing your underwear at them.

Still with me? Let’s chat again on Thursday and don’t forget to check out the other great participants in Armchair BEA!

May 23rd, 2010

What Are You Reading? 5/23/10

by Gwen

Books completed last week:

Books on tap for this week:

Posts/Reviews last week:

Books I Still Need to Write Reviews On:

  • So many that I wannna cry. I keep telling myself that I won’t pick up the next one until I have written at least one review…..seldom happens. I have NO self control.

My Good News:

Still working out a lot of kinks with the conversion to WordPress, so many options, so much of a learning curve. Learning something new everyday, I hear, is the best way to stay young.

May 22nd, 2010

Show Your Love of Books

by Gwen

Better late than never….This week I wanted to focus on bookends. I have a love of bookends, but usually I have so many books that they are superfluous. Not any more, I have donated to the bone and it is time for some snazzy jobbies to hold up the precious books that I have left!

Arched Bookends, by Jeff Fetty Designs, $296

Arched Bookends, by Jeff Fetty Designs, $296

Salvaged Red Oak Bookends, by Salvaged Soul Studios, $75

Salvaged Red Oak Bookends, by Salvaged Soul Studios, $75

Acanthus Leaf Bookends, by Fernwold Reproductions, $20

Acanthus Leaf Bookends, by Fernwold Reproductions, $20

That is all my budget can stand this week.

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May 18th, 2010

Hard Time at Tehachapi: California’s First Women’s Prison by Kathleen A. Cairns – Review

by Gwen

I picked up this book in a totally random way. It sat calling me from the shelf of fairly new books at my library. Thought, hmmm, isn’t Tehachapi a men’s prison? So I read the flap, it says……

The California Institution for Women, Tehachapi, once stood in the stark and windswept Cummings Valley, 130 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The state’s first prison for female inmates, the facility served, between 1933 and 1952, as a “laboratory” where penologists and reformers–mostly women–aimed to rehabilitate formerly “bad women” via a combination of tough love, education, hard work, and recreation.

This approach drew strong support and equally strong condemnation. Throughout its nineteen-year existence, the institution served as a political battleground. It pitted those who viewed rehabilitating female inmates as crucial to creating strong community bonds against critics who derided the “coddling” of hardened criminals, no matter what their gender.

The controversy ultimately doomed Tehachapi as a women’s prison, but Kathleen Cairns argues that this failure does not negate its historical importance. The Tehachapi experiment posed crucial questions about crime and punishment and about society’s treatment of individuals who do not fit neatly into cultural stereotypes–questions that remain unresolved to this day.”

My degree is in Psychology, and the interplay of emerging suffragist women’s movement interests me. The time that Tehachapi Women’s Prison was being bandied about was a big time of change in the county. There was the Progressive Movement in power and women were also starting to crack hole in the glass ceiling.

A Large group of club women felt that women prisoners needed to be cared for differently in order for them to return and survive in polite society. With training in jobs, exercise, respect and learning, the woman felt that they could indeed rehabilitate the prisoners. The politicos agreed, but they still wanted to control every aspect of the new women’s prison.

Some very strong female crusaders got together and got that prison built only to beset by a lack of budget, a few almost scandals, continual negative press and finally an earthquake in 1952 that leveled the dream. Even with all of the setbacks, The Tehachapi Women’s Prison had an outstanding 10 % recidivism rate.

My Thoughts: While most people would see a book about a women’s prison and pass, it you have any interest in women’s issues through the years, this is a great book. It is a short read, 177 without all of the biographical notes. I learned a lot about the struggles of women after the got the right to vote. As we know, suffrage wasn’t like a magic wand, it didn’t make men and women equal from the day it was signed. Hard Times, exemplifies this in the context of a Women’s Prison in the grand state of California.

Hard Time at Tehachapi: California’s First Women’s Prison by Kathleen A. Cairns

  • · Hardcover: 224 pages
  • · Publisher: University of New Mexico Press (April 16, 2009)
  • · ISBN-10: 0826345727
  • · ISBN-13: 978-0826345721

The Author, Kathleen A. Cairns, is another local for me and a Professor in Women’s History at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I am going to try and contact her as soon as the move settles down.