August 1st, 2020
In some ways, yes! This is absolutely a Weekly Wrap. It’s summarizing my life in the last week, blogging and beyond. Same old, same old, yada yada yada.
But let’s face it: this is also a hiatus wrap. Hail & Well Read is officially back now that I’ve had a chance to get my head on straight, and there’s a lot of ground to cover. Let’s get started! ✨
Life Beyond the Blog
If you’re just here for the short version, I’ve spent the last two months working on me. Not the blog. Just me.
But if you want the long version, I’ve been working on managing my mental health, my future, my finances, and so much more. This hiatus was sorely needed, and I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer to take it. It also allowed me to pay more attention to the way my new meds affect me (spoiler: they make me a functional human being!), and to spend some time on hobbies other than blogging.
For one thing, I spent a little more time stitching, which actually led to a Pondathon inspired piece that I’m extremely proud of!
Remember the joy of the #Pondathon? Simpler days, tbh. But I loved it so much I used some of my quarantine time to embroider the H&WR Pondathon mascot! The original art is by @artfromafriend (one of the bloggers @thequietpond), and I drew the base sketch for the embroidery! 🥰 pic.twitter.com/cm1er7hAeN
— Meaghan @ Hail & Well Read 💛 (@hailandwellread) July 24, 2020
For another thing, I’ve started to teach myself Excel, not only as a blogging tool, but as a handy bit of professional development. It’ll be useful in my work life and personal life, which is an exciting prospect! So far, I’m not particularly talented, but I’m taking it a couple short lessons at a time to make sure I completely understand the concepts.
(Of course, I didn’t finish everything I intended. My personal writing fell a little by the wayside, and my desk still isn’t done, largely due to factors outside of my control. Fingers crossed I can get the desk done by my birthday later this month, though!)
Overall, I feel much more focused and prepared for the future, even though there’s still quite a few things ahead that strike me as intimidating. It’s refreshing not to feel like I’m in 100% over my head, and to have something of a plan for the future. Nothing is certain right now, but about a million reasons, but that’s okay. I’m going to manage it.
Books and Blogging: Hiatus Edition
Okay, so it’s not like I forgot my blog existed over hiatus. After all, you probably saw my reviews for Burn Our Bodies Down, Shielded, Mayhem, and Cinderella is Dead! But I’ve also written a couple batches of mini reviews to share this month, along with a couple longer reviews that will go live over the course of the next couple months. I may have only read 7 books in July, and less than that in June, but I read good books, and I’m excited to share reviews that reflect that!
And in case you’re interested in the full reading list, I got through I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, The Good Luck Girls, Chosen Ones, A Song Below Water, The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal, Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy, Reverie, Burn Our Bodies Down, Shielded, Mayhem, Cinderella is Dead, and Red, White, and Royal Blue! Overall, it feels like a solid list, with even more to come.
New and Coming Soon on Hail & Well Read
Like I said, there’s mini reviews coming this month, along with some full size ones to really dig into the heart of things. More than that, though, I’ve got plans for this month! Strange to put them in the middle of a Weekly Wrap, but shhhh. Let it happen.
First of all, Top 5 Tuesday returns, now with Meeghan Reads as the host! I’m so excited to see her tenure as the T5T leader begin, and to share my posts for the new prompts! It’s an exciting shake-up, and it appeals so much to my list-loving brain. A win on all counts, quite frankly!
Second comes a change you might have already noticed. I’m now including links to The StoryGraph and Bookshop.org in my reviews! The StoryGraph is an alternative to Goodreads created by a Black woman, and it has excellent features to explore, like tailored recommendations, porting over your Goodreads info, and more descriptive tags than just genre and audience (like pacing, character vs plot focus, and more). Meanwhile, Bookshop.org allows you to purchase from indie bookstores rather than big name stores, and even to select which indie you want the money from your purchase to go toward! It’s a great alternative to B&N or Amazon, provided you have the money and an address compatible with their shipping policies. Obviously, that means it won’t be for everyone, but it is a great way to support indies if you can’t buy directly from an indie to begin with.
And third is the review index! It isn’t live yet, since I need to finish backtagging some reviews that weren’t tagged properly in the first place, and eliminate some cross-tagging that complicates it, but. I’m expecting to see it live by the end of the month, and I’m planning to include lots of options. Once it’s up, you’ll be able to view reviews by star rating, genre, target audience, finished copies versus ARCs, author, and LGBTQ+ reads. I’d like to also go back and tag reviews by inclusion of mental health rep or POC rep, but that may not go live with the initial index, since it requires combing through every review I’ve ever written and tagging it all accurately.
It’s my hope that this index will allow readers to comb through my reviews more easily, especially if they’re looking for recommendations or outside opinions.
Coming…Eventually to Hail & Well Read
Naturally, there are also some things that still aren’t ready. For one, my Etsy. Since my desk still isn’t done, and I don’t want to ruin my back sewing on the floor (it’s the only space available to me for sewing for the foreseeable future), booksleeves are still on hold. It’s not ideal, but again: a bad back will NOT help me in the future. I’d rather be patient and finish the desk than send my spine to hell in a handbasket and regret it afterward, you know?
Still in Etsy news, I’m planning to also offer embroidery through my store! Unlike sewing, it doesn’t require me to sit at a desk, and as I develop my skills and speed, I also develop my confidence. I have some bookish embroideries in mind (as well as lots of non-bookish ones), and hope to share them by the end of the year in an easily-viewed format.
Finally, there will be some new additions to Hail & Well Read’s lovely artwork! Schedule allowing, the super talented Caroline Schlegel is going to expand on some of the art you see here, giving me some wiggle room to introduce new categories.
Yes, you heard that right. New categories. One of which will feature our beloved mascot Angus, the dragon you see on Dragon’s Den Discussion posts! He’s a lovely lad and deserves more attention than a rare discussion post. What those categories are, though, are under wraps until Caroline and I finalize the designs we’re going with.
The Week Ahead
Truthfully, there’s nothing much this week. For all my blathering on, I have a heavy work schedule this week and an upcoming family obligation. There just won’t be time for a bunch of reading or blogging or bookish interactions in general.
But looking at the month before me? I’m excited about where H&WR is going, and even more excited to bring you along for the ride! I hope you love the new features ahead, and that you’re willing to humor my blogging experiments as time goes on. I’m likely to test some new self-imposed limits to prevent another burn-out, like x number of reviews per month, tops, but I’m also considering some challenges, like reading every day (even if it’s not an entire book every day).
One thing’s for sure, though. H&WR is back, and that’s what matters. 💛❤️
So, how have you been the last couple months? What’s the best book you’ve read? What would you like to see me stitch? What features sound coolest for H&WR’s future? Catch me up on the things I’ve missed, and tell me which direction you think it’s most exciting for my blog to go, because I want to hear from you!
And I promise, future Weekly Wraps won’t be this long! 😂