Reading Challenge Progress – January

2013 Reading Challenge ProgressAre you taking part in my 2013 Reading Challenge? It’s not too late to join in.

If you’re blogging about your progress, feel free to add your post link below – it’ll stay open all month. Or you can leave a comment on the post.

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What I’m Looking Forward to Reading in 2013

This doesn’t just include books to be published in 2013. My list includes books that I’m waiting on the library holds list because they’re still fairly new and popular. It also includes books that are new to me. And it also includes books that I simply haven’t gotten to, because my to be read list is out of control, but I am very excited to finally have a chance to read them.

So, in random order, my most anticipated books to read in 2013:

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Blog Break

I’ll be taking the week off from blogging, but I’ll be back next Monday with a post on the books I’m most anticipating reading in 2013.

Enjoy your week! And I hope you’ll come back on Monday to let me know what books you’re excited to read next year.

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Planning for 2013: Starting a Blog? (or Trying to Improve a Blog?)

If you’re not a blogger or planning on becoming one, today’s post won’t be all that relevant. How about a great biography instead? Or just come back Dec 31 for non-blogger-specific content.

Now, if you are a blogger or wanting to start a blog in the new year, there are some terrific ebooks out there to help.

Planning for 2013: Starting/Improving a Blog: 31 Days to Build a Better BlogIf you’re brand new to the blogging world, ProBlogger’s Guide to Your First Week of Blogging is excellent. While I don’t think I’d truly try and start a brand-new blog and immediately begin blogging through the book, this is a great resource for walking you through some of the steps you’ll take as you begin publishing and promoting your blog.

Once you’ve passed the initial stage, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog is another ProBlogger resource that is very helpful. The tasks are all simple enough that they’re doable in one day, and they all are worthwhile tasks too – it doesn’t feel like they’ve tried to pad the book to reach 31 by including meaningless ideas.

Planning for 2013: Starting/Improving a Blog: No Brainer BlogIf you need help with the bigger-picture aspects of blogging, Hayley Morgan (The Tiny Twig) has a new ebook out that may be just what you’re looking for. The No Brainer Blog is designed to help you cast your vision, define your voice, and refine your (virtual) space.

What does that mean exactly? It means figuring out why you’re blogging – what’s your purpose and motivation for spending your time blogging instead of all the other things you could be doing instead. Figuring out your writing style – are you serious or silly? Do you write rants or thoughtful insights? Your style needs to match your content, but most importantly it needs to be you. It also means figuring out your (virtual) space. Design matters, and the look of your blog needs to fit your content and style. Yeah, I’m still working on that last one.

Planning for 2013: Starting/Improving a Blog: Simple BloggingIf you read Rachel Meeks’ blog Small Notebook you’ll have a good idea if you like her style. I do, so it’s no surprise that I enjoyed her ebook Simple Blogging so much.

My biggest issue with the ProBloggers books is that they can sometimes feel like they don’t get the whole blogging-during-spare-moments thing. Meeks gets it – her book’s emphasis is yes, on helping you grow your blog, but recognizing that you may be blogging in your spare time and that’s not going to change. A focus on making the most of the blogging time you have, and recognizing what your core message is? Perfect.

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Planning for 2013: Meal-Time Help

If you’re wanting to make some gradual improvement to your diet or kitchen routines in 2013, there are several ebooks that can help.

Planning for 2013: Meal-Time Help: Easy HomemadeWanting to stop relying on premade mixes or other processed food? Easy Homemade by Mandy Ehrman is a super-useful compilation of homemade recipes for lots of kitchen basics – drinks such as lemonade and smoothies, seasoning mixes like taco or chili seasoning or Italian dressing, condiments including ketchup or barbeque sauce, and lots more.

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Planning for 2013: Getting Organized

I always love the fresh start that the new year provides, and this is the season when I’ve already begun to look ahead and make plans for what I want to accomplish in the upcoming year. If you’re like me and enjoy tackling improvement projects of all sorts, I’ve got three suggestions for e-books that may help:

Favorite Books for Getting Organized: One Bite at a TimeIt’s not a new ebook, but if you’re at all interested in tackling various home and personal projects in 2013, I highly recommend Tsh Oxenrider’s One Bite at a Time.

Last year I worked my way through the ebook, one project at a time. Some were really successful.

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Favorite Ebooks

Need a last-minute gift for a book lover? While most books are available in a digital format, there are some books that are only available in an electronic version. They might not provide anything to wrap, but a printout of the book’s cover could slip into a card or stocking. Surely I can’t be the only one who would be delighted to find a book in my stocking?

Later this week I’ll post about some of my favorite ebooks related to goals you may have for the new year. Today it’s all about the ebooks that I would have been the most excited to have gifted to me.

Favorite eBooks - That Works for MeThat Works for Me by Kristen Welch and Jennifer De Groot

I love tips and tricks and genius ideas that make me smack my forehead in a “why didn’t I think of that!” moment.

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Favorite Books of Hope and Redemption

As part of my “Favorite Books” series that’s been running, I’ve asked some other bloggers to share some of their favorite books. Today’s guest post is by Darcy of Message in a Mason Jar. She’s become a friend-in-real-life, and if you didn’t read her 31 Days to Preserve Your Story series, you really should.

When evil shows its face in the world like it did at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary last Friday, I slip in to seeing the world in shadows. Waking up in the night, I can almost feel the dark. When I talk it out with those around me, I gain insight and perspective, not necessarily in making sense of the tragedy itself, but in turning my focus to the redemptive stories that show up in the midst. This happens when I read good books, as well. Below are a few of my favorite books of hope and redemption. I hope they’ll encourage you in these dark days to look for every good and perfect gift “coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”

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Favorite Historical Fiction Books

I’m a former history major, so I’m no stranger to reading dense historical texts, and I do love well-written, engaging history books. What I also love is well-written, engaging historical fiction. My favorites are books that can pull me into the time period described and give me characters that I care about and want to discover what happens with them. I’m not a complete stickler for perfect historical accuracy (not that I really believe there can be such a thing in a fictional book), but I don’t like books that make egregious errors or have glaring anachronisms.

In all honesty though, if the book has gotten me to care enough about the characters, I may be caught up in the story and gloss over things that might normally drive me bonkers. (That’s my disclaimer that I’m not guaranteeing the following books are perfect in their historical research and application.)

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Favorite Books for Budding Writers

As part of my “Favorite Books” series that’s been running, I’ve asked some other bloggers to share some of their favorite books. Today’s guest post is by Anne of Modern Mrs Darcy. I’ve read her blog since soon after it began, and while I love all of her posts, I admit to being especially fond of the ones about books and reading.

Do you have a budding writer in your life? These books feature characters who dream of growing up to write one day, too. These books are wonderful in their own right, but will be especially appreciated by young authors.

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