Blogging, Giveaways

My Fifth Blogiversary!! With a Giveaway, Of Course!

As I was lying in bed last night, it dawned on me that I’d missed something important–the anniversary of my very first blog post! Yesterday marked five years of blogging, and I completely forgot to mark it. Oops! And the funny thing is, I completely noted it last week and planned to pull together all my statistics in time for Tuesday, but it slipped my mind with the lack of internet on Monday. So it’s happening a day late. Here are some fireworks to celebrate!

One of my favorite things about my blogiversary is pulling together statistics about my top posts and searches for my blog. I don’t know if anyone else cares, but it’s fun for me, so stick with it, because I’m doing a giveaway at the end. Since I want you to at least skim this post, I’ll make you wait for it. (I may have a bit of evil in me.)

Top 10 Posts/Pages in the Past Year

10. MMGM: SAMMY KEYES AND THE HOTEL THIEF – I wrote this review ages ago. It’s the first book in a series of middle grade mysteries. I think perhaps it gets assigned in school. Great book, though!

9. Subjectivity and Why You Should Get Multiple Opinions – One of the only writing posts that made it on this list, but it’s a very important point–get MANY opinions on your manuscripts!

8. Series Recommendation: DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth – I think perhaps because of the movies, this series review was visited a lot.

7. YA Series Recommendation: The Selection by Kiera Cass – LOVED this series, and a lot of other people do, too, apparently, as they’re searching out reviews.

6. Before the Draft: Outlining in Scrivener – An older post, but it’s linked to on a Scrivener board somewhere :).

5. MMGM: ONCE UPON THE END by James Riley – The finale in Mr. Riley’s HALF UPON A TIME series. I highly recommend it!

4. What I’ve Learned in Five Years of Querying – My annual roundup of what I’ve learned from the querying process. Still hoping to avoid a six-year post in July :).

3. A Glimpse at My Agent Spreadsheet: Middle Grade Books I’ve Read – The post that started my page listing middle grade and young adult books agents represent (see No. 2 below).

2. MG/YA Agents & Their Books – I created this page a few years ago because I couldn’t find anything like it, and apparently others can’t either since it’s so popular. I maintain it as a resource for writers who want to read up on agents’ books before querying.

1. Remembering a Friend Lost Too Soon: Ashley Gammon – A year ago January, my friend and former colleague Ashley passed away unexpectedly. I wrote this post as my own tribute to her, and for the second year in a row this post has been the most visited on my blog. Sadly, I noticed a spike on a particular day this year and discovered it was because another young woman who shared her name died unexpectedly and people who were searching for answers ended up on my blog. My heart goes out to the other Ashley’s friends and family.

Top 10 Posts/Pages of All Time

Many of these are the same, but humor me :).

10. MMGM: WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME Trailer Reveal, Interview and Giveaway! – Oh, a different one sneaked in! An excellent MG book!

9. MMGM: ONCE UPON THE END by James Riley

8. Series Recommendation: DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth

7. MMGM: THE UNWANTEDS: ISLAND OF SILENCE – Another popular MG series.

6. About – Thanks for reading about me :).

5. MMGM: SAMMY KEYES AND THE HOTEL THIEF

4. Before the Draft: Outlining in Scrivener

3. A Glimpse at My Agent Spreadsheet: Middle Grade Books I’ve Read

2. MG/YA Agents & Their Books

1. Remembering a Friend Lost Too Soon: Ashley Gammon

Top 5 Searches of the Past Year

There were 615 unknown search terms. I really want to know what those people searched for to land on my blog, but oh well. Here are the top five searches WordPress can tell me.

5. Writing/Querying – Although it didn’t show up in my top posts for the year, several people were searching for answers on re-querying agents after a major revision. You know, I still can’t give you a definitive answer on that one, but you can check out my post.

4. Searches for me! – And I think they actually were all for me this year, since they tagged blog on the end or put an I in the middle, but who knows for sure?

3. Books I’ve reviewed – I’m sure you can tell which books top these searches based on the books listed in my all-time stats above.

2. Agents who represent middle grade/young adult books – Agent searches edged out searches for books I’ve reviewed this year. Most were searches for particular agents, but there were several searches for agents who represent YA fantasy, and they definitely can find that on my list of MG/YA agents and the books they represent!

1. Searches about Ashley – While some of these searches were for my friend, mainly they were for the other Ashley.

So that wraps up my statistics. On to what you’ve been waiting for–the giveaway! Since I don’t have a pile of books–signed or otherwise–sitting around this year, I’m giving away a $25 Amazon gift card! Because all anniversaries deserve celebrating! Yay! (Is that enough exclamation points yet?? To enter, simply click on the Rafflecopter link below and follow the instructions. Easy peasy!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ba24b44a16/

And as always, let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like me to cover on the blog. I’m open to suggestions!

Blogging, Giveaways

My Fourth Blogiversary! With Giveaways! Signed Books! (enough exclamation points?)

I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for four years. It offers me a fantastic outlet to discuss my writing journey, talk about books I love, and on occasion share a deeper story from my life. I love taking a look back each year to see how others have interacted with my blog. This year–particularly in the past few months–it’s a bit bittersweet because of the post that has brought the most visitors to my blog. But at the same time, I’m glad that post has impacted so many who loved my friend.

On to the statistics I love. (I totally could play with spreadsheets all day.) But stick it out to the end because I just returned from the New England Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Spring Conference (more on that later this week!), and I have two signed books to give away from authors I was privileged to meet there.

Top 10 Posts/Pages in the Past Year

10. MMGM: YOU’RE INVITED by Jen Malone & Gail Nall – Oh, I loved this book, so I’m glad people are still coming to read about it! Also, I met Jen in person this weekend, and she’s absolutely delightful.

9. What I’ve Learned in Four Years of Querying – Every year I learn something more about the querying process. Assuming I haven’t found an agent before I reach five years, look for the next one in July!

8. MMGM: ONCE UPON THE END by James Riley – Another awesome book. I read it on my own and then read the whole series out loud to my kids. Go read it!

7. 5 Signs You Should (or Shouldn’t) Be Tweeting Tomorrow – An updated version of another post you will see even higher on this list. This post is targeted specifically to writers considering pitching during Brenda Drake’s quarterly #PitMad on Twitter.

6. Before the Draft: Outlining in Scrivener – An older post, but it’s linked to on a Scrivener board somewhere :).

5. About – Thanks for reading about me!

4. A Glimpse at My Agent Spreadsheet: Middle Grade Books I’ve Read – The post that started my page listing middle grade and young adult books agents represent.

3. 5 Signs You Should (or Shouldn’t) Be Submitting/Tweeting Tomorrow – The original post from No. 7, this one included #PitMad and another contest from Authoress, On the Block.

2. MG/YA Agents & Their Books – Aside from what I’m reading, my most updated page. Whenever I finish a book, I check the acknowledgements for the agent and add the book to this page, maintaining a resource for writers who want to read up on agents’ books before querying.

1. Remembering a Friend Lost Too Soon: Ashley Gammon – In January, my friend and former colleague Ashley passed away unexpectedly. I wrote this post as my own tribute to her, but I’ve been humbled by the outpouring of Ashley’s other friends who have reached out to me and said it meant so much to them as well. The statistics for this post are so high it’s likely to stay on my stats for many years, but I’m ok with that because it will keep Ashley’s memory strong.

Top 10 Posts/Pages of All Time

Many of these are the same, but humor me :).

10. Series Recommendation: DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth – Maybe because of the movies? I see a lot of searches for DIVERGENT come through.

There’s actually a tie for No. 9. How random is it that there are two posts with the exact same number of hits? It makes the mathematical corner of my brain light up with giddiness. Both are repeats from last year, just down a couple of spots.

9. Why It’s So Hard to Get Your First Novel Published

9. MMGM: WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME Trailer Reveal, Interview and Giveaway!

7. MMGM: THE UNWANTEDS: ISLAND OF SILENCE

6. About

5. MMGM: SAMMY KEYES AND THE HOTEL THIEF

4. Before the Draft: Outlining in Scrivener

3. A Glimpse at My Agent Spreadsheet: Middle Grade Books I’ve Read

2. MG/YA Agents & Their Books

1. Remembering a Friend Lost Too Soon: Ashley Gammon

Top 5 Searches of the Past Year

We’re not going to count the 797 unknown searches as No. 1, although I really want to know what they were! I’m sure the known searches are a representative sample.

5. Searches for me! Or maybe not for me :). I’m thinking the person who searched for “michelle mason, lost love of my life, where are you?” probably wasn’t looking for me–particularly since that’s my married name–but it still made me laugh.

4. Writing/Querying – I didn’t have quite as many writing/querying searches that led to my blog this year, so I’m going to think about that for the coming year. I’m not sure if that’s because I had less content or the searches weren’t finding me.

3. Agents who represent middle grade/young adult books – Interestingly, the most common search was for middle grade agents. I’m not surprised by this as it’s why I started the list in the first place–because I struggled to find a good list of MG books with the agents who represented them. Many searchers also landed on my blog by searching for specific agents.

2. Searches about Ashley – Many people were seeking answers about Ashley’s death in the weeks following it–and still are. I don’t have all of the answers, but if you end up at this post because she’s mentioned here, feel free to reach out.

1. Books I’ve reviewed – As always, by far the most people end up at my blog by searching for a book I’ve reviewed. Although you can probably tell from the list of popular posts above, I thought I’d highlight a few of the most searched:

  • Divergent series by Veronica Roth
  • THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND by Kasie West
  • Half Upon A Time series by James Riley (most searched)
  • The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer
  • PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen (totally homework questions)
  • SAMMY KEYES AND THE HOTEL THIEF by Wendelin Van Draanen (also specific questions and the second most searched)
  • The Unwanteds series by Lisa McMann

So that wraps up my statistics from the past year. Is there anything else you’d like to see more of in the coming year? I’m always open to suggestions!

On to the giveaway! So, in January of 2015 I posted about the 2015 debuts I couldn’t wait to read, including MONSTROUS by MarcyKate Connolly. It’s a gorgeous middle grade now out in paperback (plus MarcyKate’s next book, RAVENOUS, is in hardback), and I have a signed copy. We’ve been chatting on Twitter for years, and she’s so lovely in person. But that’s not all! Also included in the giveaway is a signed paperback of THE SECRETS WE KEEP by Trisha Leaver. I was lucky enough to be included in a dinner group with Trisha and had several discussions with her. I’m excited about her other projects, too, but since I had already gushed about this book on the blog, I wanted to share it with one of you. So, to enter the giveaway for these two books, click on the link below. North America only, please.

Click here to enter to win signed paperbacks of MONSTROUS and THE SECRETS WE KEEP

Blogging, Giveaways

Celebrating Three Years of Blogging! (and giving away books, of course)

I’ll pretty much take any excuse to celebrate, but this blog merits celebration for me anyway. I started it on May 2, 2012, to participate in The Writer’s Voice contest, and it’s been a fantastic outlet for me to talk about books I love and share my writing journey.

I’ve been storing up a few of my finds from the Scholastic Warehouse Sale to give away all at once, so there’ll be a giveaway at the end of this post. But first, I love statistics, so I’m going to take a look at what was most popular on the blog both in the past year and over the past three years, as well as the top searches that led people here.

Top 10 Posts/Pages in the Past Year

10. Why It’s So Hard to Get Your First Novel Published – One of my earliest posts and I completely understand why people are still landing on it.

9. About – It’s nice people want to read about me :).

8. MMGM: WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME Trailer Reveal, Interview and Giveaway! – Hey, Kimberley, check it out!

7. A BOY COULD #BLOGPITCH Logline and First 250 Words – Thanks for the signal boost, Authoress! (And in case you’re newer here, A BOY COULD is the old title for CATCH HIM BY DISGUISE.)

6. MMGM: SAMMY KEYES AND THE HOTEL THIEF – Kids must be reading this in school because it was in the top ten last year, too.

5. What I’ve Learned in Three Years of Querying – These annual posts on my querying experiences are always popular.

4. Series Recommendation: DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth – Movie connection, anyone?

3. A Glimpse at My Agent Spreadsheet: Middle Grade Books I’ve Read – A post from 2013 that is still getting hits!

2. Before the Draft: Outlining in Scrivener – Someone linked to this post on a Scrivener site, so thanks!

1. MG/YA Agents & Their Books – BY FAR the most popular feature on my blog, and I do keep this page updated, so check it out!

Top 10 Posts/Pages of All Time

I’m betting a lot of these are the same since so many of my top posts in the past year weren’t from the past year. Let’s see, shall we?

10. My Thoughts on SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN (Spoilers!) – Oh, I forgot this was so popular.

9. Series Recommendation: DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth

8. YA Review and Giveaway: PERFECT SCOUNDRELS by Ally CarterAnd everyone wanted to win this one.

7. MMGM: WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME Trailer Reveal, Interview and Giveaway!

6. Why It’s So Hard to Get Your First Novel Published

5. MMGM: THE UNWANTEDS: ISLAND OF SILENCE – And there must have been assignments on this book, too.

4. MMGM: SAMMY KEYES AND THE HOTEL THIEF

3. Before the Draft: Outlining in Scrivener

2. A Glimpse at My Agent Spreadsheet: Middle Grade Books I’ve Read

1. MG/YA Agents & Their Books

Top 5 Searches of the Past Year

Although there are 1,190 “Unknown search terms,” I lumped the rest into categories to see what searches most often direct people here. Even with those missing statistics, I bet these are representative of the whole.

5. Searches for me! Although I barely eked past searches for the Scholastic Warehouse Sale and questions about what happened to the huntsman’s wife in “Snow White and the Huntsman.” I don’t know, either, guys. That’s why you ended up at my blog–because I asked that question, too! Oh, and for the person who searched for “michelle human bean” … well, I’m not sure what you were trying to find there, but it made me giggle, so thanks.

4. Writing – Yay! I’m so glad people have found my blog through craft-related searches.

3. Querying – I grouped all querying-related questions into this category. My favorite was “is it really that hard to get published” (emphasis mine). I’m thinking they didn’t like the answer they found here …

2. Agents who represent middle grade/young adult books – This would be why that page listed above is No. 1 for the past year and of all time on my blog. When people search for agents I have listed or just for agents who rep MG/YA, it sends them here.

1. Books I’ve reviewed – This category wins by a long shot, probably thanks to school book reports. I spied a number of theme and character searches. I don’t think my reviews will do their homework for them, but I’m happy to be a resource.

It’s always helpful to see what’s working on the blog. I am curious to know if other bloggers see the same phenomenon, where older posts are getting more hits in a given year than new posts. I’m not worried about it as my statistics show more people are coming to the blog; it’s just fascinating.

Ok, on to the giveaway! I have four books from the Scholastic Warehouse Sale to pass on to one lucky winner. Here they are:

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan The Dirt Diary by Anna Staniszewski The Swift Boys and Me by Kody Keplinger

I was in a bit of a review slump when I read these, but I highly recommend all of them. To enter, click on this Rafflecopter link. North America only, please. Good luck and thanks for reading my blog!

Blogging, Giveaways

My Second Blogiversary–with Giveaways!

Last year I forgot my blogiversary until two weeks after the fact. I had it more on my radar this year, perhaps because it’s once again the date for The Writer’s Voice, the contest for which I started this blog.

The reasons I gave last year for why I love doing this blog remain true in the second year. I continue to develop relationships with other writers, and many of those have carried through to beta reader and critique partner relationships. For example, The Writer’s Voice? I met five of my beta readers through it. Yes, it was a great contest, but the relationships I developed through it were the most valuable benefit of the experience, and it all started with my first blog post.

I also still value the record this blog gives of my writing journey. I’ve grown so much in the past two years, and I believe that shows in my posts.

So, I thought it would be fun to look at some statistics on my top posts and how people get to my blog. If you stick with me, I promise to give something–actually multiple somethings–away at the end!

Top 10 Posts in the Past Year

10. MMGM: SAMMY KEYES AND THE HOTEL THIEF

9. Before the Draft: Outlining in Scrivener

8. How to Stalk WriteOnCon Ninja Agents – Apparently people need stalking advice :). I may need to pull this one out again in August.

7. Remembering My Grandma: Life Goals Accomplished – One of my rare personal posts, and it warms my heart she got so many visits on my blog.

6. Why It’s So Hard to Get Your First Novel Published – One of my earliest posts and still one of the most popular!

5. MMGM: THE UNWANTEDS: ISLAND OF SILENCE

4. MMGM: WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME Trailer Reveal, Interview and Giveaway! – My first trailer reveal! Thanks to Kimberley Griffiths Little for entrusting me with her reveal.

3. What I’ve Learned in Two Years of Querying – Apparently other writers feel my pain! I’ve already started writing my “What I’ve Learned in Three Years of Querying” post, but I’m still hoping it can be turned into a two years and xx months post :).

2. MG/YA Agents & Their Books – This is actually a page that I continually update, inspired by the No. 1 post below. If you want to help me expand it, click on the link and read the guidelines.

1. A Glimpse at My Agent Spreadsheet: Middle Grade Books I’ve Read – I’m not at all surprised this was my top post. One day I just decided to share my own list, and I’m so glad it’s become a much-used resource.

Top 10 Posts of All Time
Several of these line up with the top posts of the past year, but it’s still fun to look.

10. My Thoughts on SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN (Spoilers!)

9. MMGM: SAMMY KEYES AND THE HOTEL THIEF

8. 10 Tips for Titling a Manuscript

7. What I’ve Learned in Two Years of Querying

6. The Writer’s Voice

5. Why It’s So Hard to Get Your First Novel Published

4. MMGM: THE UNWANTEDS: ISLAND OF SILENCE

3. YA Review and Giveaway: PERFECT SCOUNDRELS by Ally Carter

2. MG/YA Agents & Their Books

1. A Glimpse at My Agent Spreadsheet: Middle Grade Books I’ve Read

Top 5 Searches in the Past Year
I also analyzed the search terms people use to get to my blog. There are so many combinations, but here are the top five categories.

5. Searches for me – My favorite was the one that said “michelle mason what I do next.” I hope they found an answer! Interestingly, there was also a search for “dexelon.” Since this is a planet I made up for my MG sci-fi, they must have been looking for me.

4. “Snow White and the Huntsman” – Apparently this movie left others with as many questions as I had when it was over. This little post where I expounded on my issues with the movie is still in the top 10 of all time!

3. Why is it so hard to get published? – This post also remains in the top 10 for the past year and all time.

2. Agents who represent middle grade/young adult books – I’m so glad this resource is helping people. This category included searches for what specific agents represent as well as a general search for agent/book matches.

1. Books I’ve reviewed – By far the most common searches that lead to my blog are for books I’ve reviewed. Strangely, many of them are looking for free copies of the books–which they won’t find here! I suspect many are doing school research, as there are questions about themes and characters. Although I don’t do spoilers, I expect some of my reviews would help students.

So, this look back is very helpful to me as I consider where to focus my blogging efforts. Have any of you analyzed your blog/website to see where it’s most useful to people who don’t already follow you?

And now to the giveaway. To celebrate my blogiversary, I have a few books sitting here that I’d love to pass along to new readers. They’re kind of random, but hey, so are my bookshelves :). To enter, comment by noon on Thursday, May 8, with which book you’d like to win–or all of them! Depending on how many enter, you could win more than one book. North America only, please. I will announce the winners next Friday, May 9.

The options are:

  • Paperback copy of NO-NAME BABY by Nancy Bo Flood
  • Hardback copy of THE SEVEN TALES OF TRINKET by Shelley Moore Thomas
  • Paperback copy of THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins
  • Signed hardback copy of PROMISE OF SHADOWS by Justina Ireland

 

Good luck!

Blogging, Writing

A Year of Blogging, Including My Top 10 Posts

So I should have done this post a couple of weeks ago. I started my blog on May 2, 2012, in order to participate in The Writer’s Voice contest. I’d debated for about a year whether to start a blog, mainly because I wasn’t sure what value I could add to the conversations already out there. The Writers Voice forced me to do it because I couldn’t participate without a blog. I’m so glad I did! Here are a few of the things I love about blogging.

The relationships. I’ve met a number of new people, especially through contests and Marvelous Middle Grade Monday. I might have met some of them on Twitter or in forums, but through this blog we can have conversations we couldn’t in 140 characters or might not in a forum somewhere.

A forum for my thoughts. There are so many times before this blog I had something I wanted to share and didn’t have a way to do it. And I mean this in reference to my publishing journey, because in general I don’t use the blog or Twitter for personal opinions. They might slip in every once in a while, but mainly I want to talk about my path to publication–a path I’m still on. It helps to talk about what I’m going through and hear from others who are in the same boat.

The record. I like being able to look back and see what I’ve read and where I was earlier in this journey. Like when I was about to blast out DUET queries and then received the R&R that changed my focus for months. Or what I thought about querying a year ago versus now. It shows how I’ve grown, and the blog has become its own body of work.

The reference. I love that when people ask me about where I am in this publishing journey I can say, “Go read my blog!” Or when friends ask me about books for their kids to read, I can send them here. It gives me a way to update people without having to repeat the same thing a million times.

So, I was curious about what posts received the most views over the past year, and here are the top 10 with some comments from me about why I think they were so popular.

10. MMGM: SAMMY KEYES AND THE HOTEL THIEF – This book is popular in my searches, too, so I think kids must be reading it for school.

9. MMGM: KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES with a giveaway! – Obviously, it was a giveaway, and it was for Shannon Messenger, who started MMGM, so that makes perfect sense.

8. MMGM: THE UNWANTEDS: ISLAND OF SILENCE – I also see a lot of searches for this one. Either they’re reading this one in school, too, or readers are trying to find out what happens in the sequel. No spoilers here! Well, unless you haven’t read the first one…

7. Why It’s So Hard to Get Your First Novel Published – I think this must be a very popular search term. Someone’s starting out and wants to know why it’s so hard. I’m always hopeful someone will learn from my mistakes, although I’m not sure you really can.

6. What I’ve Learned in a Year of Querying – I’m only two months away from doing a What I’ve Learned in Two Years of Querying post. Come on, agents! I’d love it if one of you prevented me from writing that post :).

5. My Thoughts on SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN (Spoilers!) – A rare rant about a movie, but it gets so many hits. At least once a week I see “what happened to the huntsman’s wife” in the list of searches that led to my blog. Clearly that movie left too many things hanging.

4. MMGM: THE WESTING GAME – My highest rated MG review, and since it’s a classic, I’m sure in this case that kids are researching it for reports.

3. 10 Tips for Titling a Manuscript – This is the most recent post on the list of top 10. Another blogger linked to it, and she gets a lot of hits, so now I do, too. Thanks!

2. The Writer’s Voice – When you enter a contest that requires people to go visit all the blogs involved, you’re bound to get a lot of hits. I’ve had a bump recently with the current contest going on. By the way, best contest ever! Half the people from #TeamKrista are now my CPs or betas.

1. YA Review and Giveaway: PERFECT SCOUNDRELS by Ally Carter – This one is a no-brainer. Ally Carter retweeted my giveaway, and her fans flooded my blog.

Even though it’s interesting, knowing what gets the most hits won’t affect my blogging efforts too much. I don’t host this blog for the purpose of getting followers, although I love all of you who do follow! I do it to connect with other people and to have an outlet for my opinions about the books I read and what I’m going through. That being said, if there’s a topic you want me to cover, let me know! I’m always open to suggestions.

If you’re a blogger, why do you do it?