Posts Tagged ‘Goodreads’

I swear this is not an advertisement! I’m just an advocate. ;)

When I finally got an iPhone last year, I did it because 1) I needed a new phone, and 2) I knew it would help me stay on top of things like my e-mail and various social media notifications. Plus, I’d be able to surf the internet. Because, you know, I don’t do that enough as it is already.

What I didn’t realize was that it completely revolutionized – and I use that term very specifically – the way that I manage everything I do. It really was like a revolution. Suddenly I had a one man army at my fingertips, allowing me to keep tabs on everything I do. And I do a lot. I became more efficient and was able to interact on social media a lot easier. This was important to me because it’s not just fun, but also good when you want to build a readership and make connections with other writers.

There are cons, of course. Anyone with a Smartphone will tell you that they can become addictive. I check mine constantly, though I try not to do it when I’m around other people. The internet can suck a lot of our time and energy without us even realizing it. And it can cause tension on relationships. I try not to let that happen.

As with everything, there needs to be balance. And one of the best things about the iPhone is that it actually gives me more time to do other things – namely writing, but also spending time with my family and friends. Instead of having 50 e-mails waiting for me at the end of the day, I can keep an eye on them as they come in and read or delete them sooner. I can respond to tweets instantly, or check Facebook when something comes up with Hypable.

It’s hard to pick just five, but I’ve narrowed down my favorite apps and why I like them so much. These are the ones I use most often, and the best part about them is they’re FREE! We all like free.

ONE. Notes

The notes app is just a simple little application designed to look like a yellow legal pad. You just open it up and start typing. You can use it for reminders, to keep your grocery list, or to write down ideas as they come to you.

I tend to use this for the last option. I have background information on my characters written out, lists of blog ideas, outlines for stories, and so much more. The best part is that it’s so portable. You don’t need to drag a laptop around with you just in case an idea strikes. And those ideas never strike at opportune moments, do they? Who doesn’t carry their phone on them at all times these days, especially given the fact that most bloggers/writers are so dependent to the internet.

TWO. WordPress

The WordPress app is one of my favorites (don’t tell the others). Instead of sitting down each night and replying to a dozen comments on a blog post, I can just respond to each person as they come in. And it’s so easy to keep track of it, as they end up in a queue in the comments section of the app.

For the longest time, I was only half using this application. I never used the reader portion – which is where new posts from the blogs you follow end up. Until recently, I would just go to my email and open up each one to read them, sometimes having to click through to the actual site. It wasn’t a pain in the slightest, until I realized there was a much, much simpler way to go about it.

When my inbox backed up to about 150 e-mails – most of them being blog posts – and I was drowning trying to keep up, I finally had the brilliant idea to check out the reader in the app. I flew through those blog posts like you wouldn’t believe. I could now do it anywhere – not just when I had my laptop on me. Of course, I could have done it from my e-mail on my phone before, but I’d have to log in each time to leave a comment and that was just such a pain.

Keeping up with blog posts now is a breeze. I hardly have any lying in wait in my e-mail because I can get to them whenever I have a few minutes. And the best part is that the app always has you logged in. You don’t need to constantly input your information, which can be frustrating on such a small screen when your fingers never quite hit the keys you intended.

The only problem I find with this part of the app is that I have to click into the blog post from the reader, then click into the person’s site, and click into post again in order to leave a comment and be able to mark it to notify me of any further replies. (I do this as an easier way to see when an author replies to me, but there’s also some hidden gems when other people leave comments. Plus, I’m a sucker for notifications/e-mails. Sue me.) But it’s a problem I’m willing to work with if it means I won’t be staring at an inbox of 150 blog posts any time soon. Hallelujah.

THREE. Twitter/Facebook/E-mail

Okay, I know I’m cheating here by giving more than one app, but these sort of go hand in hand for me. They’re ways I keep in touch with people – Twitter for writers (mostly), Facebook to keep an eye on our Hypable group, and e-mail for, well, e-mails. As with the WordPress app, these other apps keep you constantly signed in, which is one of the perks for me. (And I realize this makes me sound like someone who is too impatient to even sign in each time I want to go on these things. You may or may not be right…)

Twitter makes for great distraction. I keep to my lists, which I’ve broken down into categories for why I’ve followed certain people. I’ve followed a lot of people on Twitter, and so it can be a little overwhelming at times. Having it broken down like this is much easier to handle (though sometimes I still avoid certain lists because – WOW – so many things to read). Twitter is, unfortunately, inundated by an incredible amount of people all sharing links. I see this a lot with many of the writers I follow. Twitter is a great place to share information like this, but it’s hard to get through a list when there’s hardly any “real people talk” and it’s mostly just links. But it is what it is, and I still enjoy it. It’s a place where I can share my thoughts and be more of myself than I can be on Facebook (sad isn’t it?). The only thing I wish would change is the ability to add people to lists directly from the application, rather than having to jump on my computer to do it.

The facebook app is a great tool, and I mostly use it to keep an eye on the Hypable group (where we share ideas and make sure all the news is being covered) and my writer page. I hardly do any “real” Facebook-ing, but I don’t mind. I generally keep my thoughts to Twitter. ;) The one problem I’ve noticed with this app is that I don’t always get notified when there’s new activity. But so far it hasn’t been much of a problem, and I just make it a point to check in on everything once in a while.

FOUR. Goodreads

The Goodreads app has so much potential, I’m sure, but I don’t really use it to its fullest extent. I’m not super active on Goodreads anyway, so I’m not bothered. It makes it much easier for me to update which page I’m on in my book – something that has no real use (because I don’t my friends on there really care I just read 15 pages), but makes me happy anyway. I also use it to quickly add books to my TBR pile or to add to my already-read list. It’s nice for when I’m suddenly struck with a memory of having read a certain book, or see a book in a store that I’d like to eventually read. I can just whip my phone out and input the title. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

FIVE. Pocket Frogs

Yep, this is a tried and true app, and one that I am so glad I found. If you’re unfamiliar with the game, it’s pretty simple. You have a bunch of frogs that you breed and can either keep or sell. The game is super simple, but incredibly addicting. It’s fun to see what combinations you can come up with and to try to obtain all of the awards.

Smartphones can be distracting, and this is one instance where I can get sucked into a game like this (or Fruit Ninja, which I recently discovered and have a fondness for). When your main goal is to write and not be distracted while typing away on your computer (which sometimes feels like an impossible feat), having games on your phone isn’t always the smartest decision. But, I’ve also found it to be a nice break. A game like Fruit Ninja doesn’t take long (if you’re not too great at it like I am, that is), and it’s a good way to reward yourself once you’ve accomplished something on your to-do list. For someone who tends to reward herself with food (bad, bad habit), this is a much healthier alternative.

Do you have a Smartphone? Do you use any of the apps above? Which are your favorites? Got any good ones that aren’t on my list?

There are a few websites that I visit on a daily basis. I literally just can’t get enough of them. One of them is Hotmail – for my e-mail. Another one is eBay – because that’s a part of my job. I also visit WordPress (that goes without saying) and Hypable. I also just added another one to the list:

Goodreads

This is one of the most amazing sites that I’ve ever come across. I heard about it for the first time the other day in that way that the internet seems to tell you about things: I was looking on WordPress for other blogs about writing. I found a blog and read it. Then I visited the Twitter of the author. She just happened to have tweeted about how she was reading The Hunger Games and linked back to Goodreads.

Whew.

Yep, that’s the internet for you. Anyway, I decided to click on it and – whoa – there I meet my new best friend. Maybe I’m just behind the times and you’re all up to date on these things, but I feel like I have to rave about this website anyway. If you’ve never heard of it…good! I hope I can turn you into a fan.

The first step on Goodreads is to make a free account. All you need is your first name, your e-mail address, and a password and you’re in. When you activate your account you fill in some more information, but I’m sure you can leave a lot of it blank if you want to.

The next step is to pick out the genres that you’re interested in. I chose art, fiction, young adult, fantasy, and classics. They have a whole bunch to choose from, and you can always add or get rid of more later. Once you pick those, you have to choose about twenty books that you have already read. This part is my favorite! You can pick from their suggestions based on the categories you chose, or you can go up to the search bar and type in the name of the book or the author. It will bring up a lot of choices, and usually the one you’re looking for is right at the top. You give it a rating out of 5 stars and it is added to your “read” bookshelf. This is a PERFECT way of keeping track of all of the books that you’ve already read.

Once you complete this step, the site gives you suggestions for books based on what you’ve already chosen to read. This is good for two reasons. The first is that it allows you to find more books that you might have already read and rate them. The second reason is that it is wonderful for finding other books that you might be interested in, based off of the ones that you’ve already liked. These might be books by the same author, with similar plotlines, or just ones in the same genre.

Once you’ve exhausted your memory, you can start adding books to your “to-read” shelf. These are ones that you’ve had your eye on for a while, or ones that you’ve found via Goodreads suggestions and think they sound interesting. You can also order these so that you know which ones you want to read first.

Lastly, you have a “currently-reading” bookshelf where you can add the books that you’re reading right now. There’s also a cool feature that you can use to update the status of the book, like which page you’re currently on. Goodreads also has a feature where you can choose how many books you want to read this year, and it’ll help you keep track of the goal. How cool is that?

There are a bunch of other features, too!

+Friends – catch up with your friends and see what they’ve read or are currently reading
+Listopia – view lists made by other members and see if you’ve read or want to read any of the books found there
+Giveaways – you can try your hand at winning some free books!

Goodreads even has a community of readers and writers right at your fingertips. Authors can make a page for themselves, which includes a short bio and a list of the books they’ve published. You can become a fan of their page and stay up to date!

I didn’t even list half of the things you can do on this website. There are a lot of features and a lot of great books listed. I love the site because I can keep track of all of the books that I’ve read and find more that are similar to them.  Hope you guys have a chance to check out the site if you haven’t already heard of it! Let me know what you think of it in the comments below.

Happy reading!