"What I know is, is that if you do work that you love, and the work fulfills you, the rest will come." Oprah
Maybe it is lame to quote Oprah, but I'm desperatly hopeful
that she's right. This blog is really to try to deter the premature insanity that was beginning to emerge while I am learning web design, and following my passions. If you have a strong stomach, and good sense of humor, or are one of my friends or family (not optional for that group) please enjoy the ride.
The story starts with post #1, and continues to present day. I will keep you posted (pun intended), with the lasted chapter daily. Also, I will share my reviews of the books I escape with along the way.
Please, read, enjoy, comment, link, or message me. I'd love the feedback, it makes it seem less like I am just talking to myself.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

IJustFinished's Book Reviewers Made My Day!

For those of you that follow this blog, you already know that this blog/website(Ijustfinished.com) and start-up are all the pursuit of my dream. For those of you just landing on this page, or just finding Ijustfinished.com for the first time you may see a nicely polished book website. Regardless,in reality there are a lot of blood, sweat, and tears behind the site. Last night was I had a "Thankful Gratitude" which was again rekindled this morning.
Here's what happened...
Last night, (Sat) I had a lot of business to do in Austin. I still consider Austin home, and all my friends are there as well, and a couple of Ijustfinished.com's team members. We (SilverBack and I) were with Luvyaduvya, and out of the blue one of our oldest friend calls and invites everyone over to have dinner, and hang out. After debating the luxury of a social life, since we are at least three weeks behind with work for Ijustfinished.com, we decided to stay for a while and you know, socialize.

Although we had a great time, I felt very guilty that during this 'free time' I should have been working, and the site was being neglected. We drove home (about 2 hours) and just got settled to bed, and my phone chimes (hey Renee, you have new email), so I check my email on my phone. Yes, I do know that I have issues, thank you very much. There in my in box on Sat night, two new reviews submitted for the website. I was so excited that people think enough of Ijustfinished.com to go there and write and post a review, even on Sat night. I went to bed thinking, "the site is going to make it after all, the people we have are just amazing".

So then this morning, I began to manage the reviews that have accumulated over the last 24 hours, and here is the really cool thing. We also had a new reviewer register yesterday, and she (Alexis88) submitted a review. Her review was in response to another review posted on the site previously, giving "All Ye Zombies" a 1 rating, and the newest reviewer loved the book. So she was compelled to write a dissenting review of the first review. HOW COOL IS THAT!! That is the conversation of books! That is the whole point of the site, for people to talk about what they like and hate and how books affect them. That is the reason why the site was founded in the first place, and today I feel like a very proud parent.

I cannot begin to thank all of the reviewers enough. Since Aug 1st, 2008 when the redesign, and the ability to upload reviews went live, the amount of reviews, and quality reviews posted is amazing. Reviews are posted everyday, and we are nearing 100 reviews posted. There are sites with years behind them, whose numbers we are gaining. I cannot thank you all enough!

We are continuing to schedule authors to interview on 'Coffee with an Author' and working to bring authors and readers together for the conversation of books. The reviewers are amazing, and I spend a large amount of my time working to get more books from publishers, which I can in turn send out to this amazing, ever growing community of book reviewers. I am honored to so for you all, and am humbled by the passion and intelligence demonstrated on Ijustfinished.com everyday.

Thank you so very much!

(Forgot to mention the last trip to Barnes & Nobles 18 books that we have reviews posted were being featured, 5 on the first table when you walk in!)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Young Adult Series Trend

The biggest trend that the entire publishing industry seems to have embraced is the young adult series'. Fantasy series seem to be the favorite. Maybe since youth have great imaginations, I am not sure.
Here is my observations. I distinctly remember my parents mentioning Harry Potter as is was just beginning to gain momentum in the US, and I thought 'why are they so excited about a kids book'. Then they went on and on about how I needed to read the book, so I did. Needless to say, we all would go the first day or pre-order the books as they were published. We had to each get our own copies since no one wanted to be the poor schlup who has to wait until everyone was finished to read the book.
For me, and the rest of the book world it seems, that was liberating. Not only have I picked up many more YA books and series, authors were able to write to that audience that was youth, crossed over to adults. The YA genre is one of the biggest requests that we receive from Ijustfinished.com's reviewer profiles. Not only that, it is an almost sure fire hit for publishers. Many of the series have such a loyal following, that people (note I did not say kids) pre-order and line up for the next in the series. To follow that up, they seem to translate to the big screen quite well. Many YA series have been become movies. Many successful movie series actually started as successful book series, including "The Princess Diaries" by Meg Cabot, and of course the latest due out this Dec is "Twilight".
That brings to mind the down side of the trend. Series are nothing new, even the James Bond movies that are books first and then became movies. The pressure to continue characters and story lines has to be difficult, but keeping YA readers happy is a challenge in itself. Teenagers are a fickle bunch anyway, and just in the way that characters evolve and grow and present themselves differently through their experiences, so does the YA demographic. I clearly remember the tone and mood change of Harry Potter in book 5, when he became a full blown teenager. He was darker and more brooding. As an adult reading, you know that is part of the process, but as a teenager, that might be enough for them to put the series away. That pressure has to be tough, along with the leaking of plots and rumors of story lines.
The great thing about the trend, however, is that it allows for the most creative worlds, and stories. Marie Rutkoski author of "The Cabinet of Wonders" dropped by 'Coffee with an Author' a few weeks ago, and the world she created is so original and creative that it takes you back to childhood. Maybe that is the attraction for those of us adults that enjoy YA so much.
I really hope this is a trend that finds a permanent place in the publishing industry, and doesn't flicker out.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Go to the Bookstore

My new favorite way to regain focus and feel great about the site is to go to the bookstore. Yes, I know you are saying, I am sure trips to the bookstore are not a new found thrill. (And, yes I buy all books on the site through Amazon now anyway.)
It has taken on a whole new meaning. I used to go to the book store to pick out books to read, like normal people. Now I only go to the bookstore to take a mental health break, and count all the books that we have posted on Ijustfinished.com. It has become a new game. I go to all the "New Arrivals" "New Fiction" and "Best Sellers" areas, and any other cool displays and look to see how many of 'our' books are there. I really got excited to see Kathleen McCleary's book House and Home displayed on the "New Fiction" shelf the other day. I thought, hey I know her, she just interviewed on our site!
Today I counted 11 books that have current review on the site, and I was just passing through the store. It is so exciting to follow along the life of a book, and know that I am participating in it's journey. It feels like the tiny parts of a dream coming true.

Speaking of my dreams, we are planning on attending the Texas Book Festival as press, so any of you readers and writers alike please let me know if you will be there, we want to meet you! It would be so great to have the members of the site participate in the "Conversation of Books" video series. Look for lots of great info to follow regarding the Texas Book Festival (Nov 1 & 2).

Thursday, September 4, 2008

New book trends: The Digi Novel

A perk of becoming a book world insider is that you get tons of info on the book world. I really had no idea, although I am not sure why it never crossed my mind, books are like any other industry, there are behind the scenes things going on all the time. One of the cool things that I have begun to notice are the cool new trends in the publishing world, and I thought instead of just making a note in my head, "oh, that is a cool idea" I would make them a new segment here. That way you all can enjoy the new trends as well, or at least become aware of them and decide what you think. I'd love to hear either way, what you think about them, and if you are buying in or opting out...

Here is the latest on that has gotten my attention:

The Digi Novel
This is ever book lovers fantasy, the mystery novel (series) will be accompanied with movie footage. Not in the usual way however. You read the book, then you have codes to unlock the footage on a website to watch the movie, and get more of the story. Kind of like the old choose your own adventure books, but much more. Then there will be interactive communities built around the books. Both Dutton, and Scholastic are launching their own type or version of the idea, but I can tell you that id done well, these could be a really cool new trend.

Here is an article explaining more details in Publishers Weekly about the Dutton deal.

I will keep adding new trends installments along with the Ijustfinished.com story, thanks for following along!