Hello! I have been meaning to share a personal post for a while now, but it just hasn’t happened. I have had a hard time focusing on much of anything “extra” lately and I have noticed that things that used to feel easy feel very daunting now…maybe this is pandemic fatigue? I have found that when I do have a little downtime, I “waste it”, either mindlessly scrolling or cleaning and organizing a house that never stays that way for long because we are here pretty much 24/7 now…maybe because it gives me some sense of control?
Q&A Part I
I get certain questions on DMs and emails quite frequently that I thought might make for a fun blog post! These are some of my favorite things to read online because I like knowing random things about the people I follow along with!
I thought I would be able to answer all of these in one post but when I shared I was going to do this on Instagram stories, I received some more questions, so I am going to do a Part II soon!
Q: What kind of photography do you do?
A: I work for my friend Kristy who is a family portrait photographer! She specializes in family photos, lifestyle newborn sessions, high school senior portraits, and professional headshots. I do a lot of her behind the scenes work including culling and editing her sessions. It’s the best! We also teach photography classes in the late fall through early spring when the photography season in Vermont is a little quieter!
Q: Did you go to school for photography?
A: No! I majored in psychology and had no plans for going back to school after. I ended up learning DSLR photography kind of by trial and error and a lot of watching YouTube videos and searching things online when our first son was a baby. I am a visual learning and I learn best when watching others so this was great for me. I fine-tuned some things later on through the workshops on Clickin Moms which is a great resource!
Q: What kind of camera do you use?
A: While I do have a “professional-grade” DSLR (a Canon 5d Mark III) that I use in our workshops, I primarily use my iPhone!
I am a huge “documenter” and I like that I always have it with me to capture daily life. I do edit them a little, usually, by bumping up the exposure, and adjusting the temperature (warmth) and contrast a bit..all these things you can do right from your phone (I use Lightroom for regular editing).
Q: Do you have a book that you’ve tried to read multiple times and just can’t get through it?
A: I usually just DNF (do not finish) books that I am not able to connect with. There are too many books to read one that you aren’t enjoying!
I do have a harder time with this when it is a book that has come highly recommended. I have tried multiple times to read Harry Potter and Recursion because they have been recommended to me SO many times…but I just can’t get into them! I keep trying though…
Q: Do you read any books you don’t like? It seems like you mostly rate books 4 & 5 stars!
I think I kind of answered this one above but I have no problem giving up and moving on to my next book if I am not enjoying something. I also do a lot of research with my book selections and have a lot of a book reviewing friends that have similar tastes in genres so that information helps with my success rate with books!
I do try and finish books that I have chosen to review so that is where some of my lower ratings will come from. You can read more about how I rate books in my FAQs section HERE.
Q: What made you start a blog? I want to start but it seems like it is so much faster(easier?) to just share on Instagram!
That’s a great question! I started my book blog a year ago because I was feeling like I wanted a centralized location for sharing reviews, recommendations, photos, etc. I had previously just been sharing on @genthebookworm on Instagram. I think because I am someone who likes to write with a lot of details, I really liked the idea of not being restrained by a maximum amount of text and photos.
I also used to be a blogger and I started a decade ago! Some of you were around for that, but I spent the first 5 years of pregnancy and parenting blogging all about my experiences as a new mom. I stopped blogging (and also made it private) once our older son started Kindergarten. It just didn’t feel like it was my story to share anymore.
So blogging isn’t “new” to me but this format is very different than my old one which really was more of an online journal. Blogging has also changed so much in ten years, and so have our kids who are obviously much older now.
I love having a place to share that is devoted to my specific interests (reading, podcasts, favorite products, LL Bean sweatshirts…) and I like that it is my space to do whatever I want even if it is totally random.
And while I LOVE social media, I am fully aware that it can (and does) change all the time. I love the consistency of having your own spot on the internet that you can direct people to no matter where the internet tides go with algorithms, etc.
Blogging does take a lot of work. It isn’t particularly hard(and I kind of love doing it!) but it time-consuming. I have also been trying to implement SEO which takes me forever but I think it is worth it!
My Life Motto…
I try not to overthink things too much because when you do that, you end up never doing anything! I am terrible with typing too fast and spelling a million things wrong so I often have to go back and revise these posts a bunch of times. I do use and love Grammarly and it helps a lot!
Q: What are your favorite books from childhood?
Ohh this is a tough one! My favorite childhood picture book is Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. I also loved Matilda and The Witches by Roald Dahl! As I got a little older I loooooved The Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley High and basically every book by Judy Blume.
Q: How do you have time to read so much?
I get this question A LOT, and I totally get it, I do read quite a bit. I think it is just like any other hobby or interest, I just really prioritize it. I bring my books (or Kindle) everywhere, and I do a lot of reading while I wait. I also read every night before bed instead of watching TV.
I don’t have any problem with TV, I would just rather read! And when I do watch something (Lucas and I get into documentary series sometimes) I ended up reading less because it is hard to do both!
I also listen to audiobooks when I am working on the computer, doing things around our house (like cleaning or folding laundry) or commuting to and from work, so this really adds up.
Q: What percentage of your monthly reading are audiobooks?
This depends a little (I listen to a lot more audiobooks during the school year because in the summer I am never commuting alone!) but I would say I listen to 3-4 audiobooks a month and read the rest!
Q: What are your favorite sweatshirts?
This makes me LOL because I don’t think there has been a time that I have posted an IG story video without someone asking about my sweatshirt or pullover. My goal in life is to basically be able to wear a sweatshirt or pullover everywhere I go so this makes me so happy that there are other sweatshirt lovers out there. LLBean is my GO-TO!
I also LOVE my Goodthreads Sweatshirts from Amazon and I am wearing my Pale Grey Heather one right now! I posted about these on my Bookworm Gift Ideas post but I have to share about them again because the light blue, medium grey, and charcoal grey are on sale! They are the coziest and I have been wearing them around the house like loungewear, over my tank top on the way to barre and out and about with jeans.
Q: Where do you shop? (I know you want to answer this!)
Ha! I do love talking about Talbots. But seriously, I do buy most of my clothes at Talbots(The T by Talbots collection is THE BEST!) I also get my jeans there and I love that they have petite lengths in the store!
Q: What is your favorite book?
The Most Fun We Ever Had was my favorite book of 2019 and probably ever. I also LOVED American Dirt (publishing on 1/20/20). If you pre-order any 2020 books, this should be it, it was amazingly powerful and I also COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN.
Q: How did you start reviewing books?
The #bookstagram community is very active on Instagram and that is where I first started writing about books (around 2015). In 2018 I started my public IG feed @genthebookworm as well as this blog so I could have a more organized and specific place to share my reviews. You can review books on many different social media outlets but I have found that Instagram is the most interactive and really feels like a community.
As far as how to get books to review, for a few years, I just reviewed books that I either purchased or borrowed from the library or the Libby app. As my readership has grown, book publishers, publicists, and authors now send me books to review which is such a great honor.
In 2018 I also became a member of NetGalley and that is how I get many of my ARC of E-books. Anyone can join and you just request books and you are approved individually by the specific publisher of the book.
The more exposure you can provide the more likely you will be approved. I will say that I was approved for many books just by posting on my @genthebookworm account on Instagram so you definitely don’t have to have a blog to get started. The more you do the higher your reviewing percentage is so that helps too when they are looking to approve you as a reviewer.
It is such an amazing way to read books before they are published and I love providing feedback that not only is helpful to the publisher and author but also helps other readers when they are deciding what to read next.
Q: How do you grow a following online?
I am not sure if I am super qualified to answer this but I really feel like slow and steady is the way to go. Consistency is key and finding your audience. I would rather have people that are really interested that are following along than just high numbers so I really think quality over quantity wins here.
I also love engaging with others and I think it helps when it feels like it is a conversation. Everyone handles this totally different but I will say that the people I know that DO have a large following, put A LOT of work and energy into it.
Q: How do you monetize a blog? Do you make a lot of money with your affiliate links?
I also don’t think I am the person to ask about this question, haha. There are many ways to monetize a blog. When I started blogging in 2009, sidebar ads were the way to go. Now sponsored posts and affiliate links are king and there are blogs and social media feeds that make A LOT of money.
I did add affiliate links this past spring because I was linking to everything anyway and figured, WHY NOT? Of course, it totally depends on what you are affiliate linking, but my links generally are for books.
The commission rates are higher for certain items and lower for others. For instance, higher end fashion and beauty products can have a commission of around 10% of the purchase price! Books are lower, I think around 3 or 4% so this means that if you do buy a book through one of my links, I will make around $.25-.50 as a commission on that sale(it does not change the price you pay!)
So on average, I make around 10-15 dollars a month. While I appreciate it, I definitely am not doing this to try to replace my regular work income. My goal right now is to cover the costs of my WordPress site, hoping this will happen in 2020! 😉
Alright, I am going to do the rest of my Q&A is another post next week, so stay tuned. And thank you for taking the time to send a question, I appreciate it. <3
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission that helps support this blog at no cost to you. Thank you!
Good morning and happy Tuesday! I am working from home today so I thought I would prioritize checking in here. September has been jam-packed and it has taken a bit to get back into a routine. The boys are happy at school and Kristy and I are adjusting to our regular work hours again which has been nice!
Fall Photographer Life…
This time of year, work is filled with editing lots of school photos, high school senior portraits and lots and lots of family sessions! It feels nice to have our longer workdays back again as this is definitely our most hectic work season. Our family has also made a big transition that has added 30 minutes to my own workday…the boys are now taking the bus home from school!
Our kids started at a new school last year so it was a lot of new things all at once so we took our time making all of the changes at once. This year they were ready and it has been wonderful and also a time saver.
Buzz and our neighbor dog Mason love meeting them at the end of the driveway. I am trying to prioritize walking to the bus stop instead of just grabbing them in my car on the way home if I have the extra time. It is nice to have that quiet transition period between my workday and full-on family mode again and the weather has just been amazing. I even grabbed an iced latte one day for my walk and it was pretty much perfection.
Currently Enjoying…Fall in Vermont
We have had an amazing month of weather and I am hoping fall hangs on a little longer than last year! Fall in Vermont is amazing when the stars align, but often it ends up being super warm or freezing! We have had that perfect September sweatshirt weather for the most part which is my very favorite.
Sweatshirt & Highschool Shopping Memories
I grabbed this fleece pullover from Abercrombie the other week for $25 (I used the Honey plugin and the sale codes stacked!) and it is so cozy! It also makes me giggle to think about shopping there because I remember when we got an Abercrombie store when I was in high school and I haven’t shopped there since. We don’t have one of these stores anymore but I will never forget how you could smell it from a mile away…yikes!
While I don’t plan on doing my regular clothing shopping there (don’t worry Talbots, I still love you the most!) this fleece pullover is awesome! I ordered a size large and it is a roomy and comfortable fit.
Peaches & Beeswax Wraps
A couple of weeks ago we went peach picking. It was fun and we just picked enough to eat. We didn’t make anything creative with them but they were amazing sliced and also on top of overnight oats. I have been trying to be better about having a filling breakfast and these are great. I soak the oats with some milk and chia seeds overnight in our fridge and I have been using these reusable beeswax food storage wraps to cover the bowl instead of saran wrap. I thought this 6 pack was a great deal and we use them for covering everything!
So we didn’t bake anything with our peaches but we did have great luck with this Carrot Apple Bread! Me actually baking is a lot like capturing a butterfly with your iPhone, it doesn’t happen a lot! I find it incredibly frustrating because you have to measure everything so accurately and I always make the biggest mess. But after some inspiration from The Kitchen Table restaurant, I knew I needed to try and recreate their dessert bread from their Fall Harvest Dinner. This was a great duplicate and was super moist and include the perfect flavors of fall.
Currently Loving…Ursa Major!
Speaking of more eco-friendly options, I was so excited to see that they having Ursa Major products at The Lodge at Spruce Peak. I loved that they have reusable containers and are featuring a great Vermont product!
I normally use my own shampoo and conditioner when we travel because I am picky, but I couldn’t wait to use this! The Daily Shampoo & Conditioner are amazing. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Body Wash but the body lotion was awesome! It makes me happy that so many hotels are continuing to get rid of single-use containers too!
Currently Loving All Things Stripes…
Speaking of favorites…I will never stop loving anything with stripes. The other week I shared about my love for the Striped Funnelneck Pullover from LLBean on IG stories because it was on sale. So many people DMed me back and said they loved it so much too! Then a few days later I ran into my buddy Katherine who was wearing it at the grocery store! It’s the best, seriously.
Currently Loving…Beyond Booked Book Sleeves!
I love being able to support my friend’s small businesses when I can and my Bookstagram friend Tancy recently opened a book sleeve shop on Etsy! It has been a great way to safely transport both my paperback and hardcopy books around and I especially love the Rifle Paper Co. fabric choices!
Pure Barre in the Wild…
I love bringing my books just about everywhere and a few weeks ago they visited the Pure Barre Pop Up class at Perkins Pier. I have never taken an exercise class outside before and it was the perfect cooler weather and cloud coverage for doing Pure Barre in the wild.
Currently Loving…Fall Soccer!
Fall soccer is in full swing and our younger son still isn’t sure about actually playing soccer but he loves running around with his buddies…If you have ever seen a 1st-grade soccer game, it is something else!
I am not super competitive and I wasn’t ever great at sports myself, but I always loved being part of the team and community of the sports teams I was a part of. It makes me happy they love this part of it too.
Pure Barre Socks & Milestones
Speaking of communities, a few weeks ago I celebrated 750 Pure Barre classes since I joined the Pure Barre community in August of 2015. While I love the workouts, I love my friends there even more. It has been such an incredible source of support and a great way to make adult friends.
I still find the classes incredibly difficult but I love seeing how much progress I have made, personally. When I first began my core strength was zilch and now I can (usually) do a plank for 90 seconds, which is huge for me. Like many people, I have certainly had body image and eating issues in my life and I love that there is a wonderful focus there about being your best self and working out to be healthy and strong.
I also have found my new FAVORITE barre socks. They just started having them in our local studio as well but I found one of my pairs on Amazon HERE. I wasn’t sure if I would like the criss-cross straps but they are super comfortable and they stay sticky month after month! I am size 8.5 in women’s shoes and I have the size small socks.
Last week I finished The Dearly Beloved on Audible and I highly recommend it!! I am little behind on my book reviews on here but if you are looking for an audiobook suggestion, this one was fabulous! And hopefully, my full review will be up soon.
On my Kindle, I have been catching up with some of my NetGalley & Edelweiss advanced reader books because there are so many books that will be published in October!
Alright, I think I have chatted on long enough here but I hope you enjoyed this random assortment of things I am currently loving!
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small percentage that helps support this blog at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.
Hello! How is your week going? I can’t believe it is Thursday already! Holiday weeks always throw me off and they also tend to be more hectic with 5 days of work fitting into 4 days. This is my busy work season now that it is nice out (Vermont photography season is in full swing) and I am trying to fit in as much as possible before school gets out in mid-June when our childcare will be pretty limited.
Currently listening to…
With the increase in photo editing, it means I have officially entered “audiobook” season! I am lucky to have a job that is in the creative field, which enables to listen to things while I edit photos. For weddings, I tend to choose audio books since they often are about the same amount of time it takes to edit a whole wedding…and regular sessions I tend to listen to a podcast episode or two.
I haven’t made it that far yet but I am just loving The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates. It is so powerful and she is a wonderful orator. The news had been hard lately and as important as I think it is to know what is going on around us, I also love something that motivates to be more proactive and supportive of others in our own daily lives.
I know I mentioned the docu-drama Chernobyl last week, but this week I learned that there is also a podcast that goes along with of the episodes. I talk about this more on my IG stories earlier today but it is amazing to hear the thoughts behind the making of the series and the choices that went into doing a show about this real event that affected thousands and thousands of people. If you haven’t checked it out I highly recommend it!
There is NOTHING better than book mail! This week I was excited to receive packages from Berkley Publishing and St. Martin’s Press. Kristan Higgins is one of my favorite summer authors and Life and Other Inconveniences was just amazing! I have included it on my summer reading lists and think it would be a great one to toss in your beach bag. Higgin’s writing is funny and relatable but her characters are also relatable and multidimensional. Have you read any of her books before?
Friends who read together stay together:
Speaking of Kristan Higgins, I happened to show up to work on Tuesday with the same book as Kristy and we were wearing the same color sweatshirt. We obviously had to take a selfie to document this.
In addition to being my co-worker, Kristy is also my wonderful friend and reading buddy. We love discussing our current books at lunchtime but we normally aren’t reading the same one at the same time because we share most of our hard copy books…so this was really exciting! Do you have friends that you share books with? It’s the best!
If You Only Knew came highly recommended from my Bookstagram friends and Kristy already finished it and I am almost done and am loving it. It’s the perfect book for this more hectic time of year. <3
Back to book mail & a Diane Chamberlain update!!
St. Martin’s Press was kind enough to send me the paperback release of Dream Daughter which is being published next week on 6/4! If you haven’t read this yet, this will be the perfect summer book to add to your reading list. Dream Daughter was in my top 10 books of 2018 and it might be my favorites Diane book ever and I have read A LOT of them.
I will have to do a whole post about my favorite Diane Chamberlain books but she rarely lets me down and her books are always unique and super engrossing, while also being total page-turners. I have read a lot of them while on vacation and they are the perfect books to just get lost in.
AND the most amazing exciting news of all, they announced that Diane will have another novel published in early 2020 (January 24th to be exact!) Big Lies In A Small Town!
While I would like to say that I have parted ways with antiperspirant deodorant, I have tried and I just can’t do it. I think it has come from a lifetime of having that feeling of “dry” armpits but I just can’t get used to that “sweaty feeling”, especially while I work out.
I am all about compromise, so I have decided to use my “regular” Tom of Maine antiperspirant in the mornings and then putting on a more “natural” one, specifically Lavanila, when I get dressed for the day after class.
I don’t like to recommend things until I have really given them a fair shot but this stuff is pretty amazing! I have very sensitive skin and in addition to not cutting the sweat(deodorant just masks the smell of sweat but it doesn’t stop it like antiperspirant), it would make my underarms break out in a painful rash.
A lot of “natural” deodorants have baking soda in them which I think was the culprit. Lavanila is super gentle, smells amazing and really keeps you smelling quite fresh! And it lasts a long time. I first ordered it last May and each stick lasts 3+ months for me of daily use.
Have you made the deodorant switch?! Or are you meeting in the middle like me? 😉
Alright, that is all for this morning! I hope you have a wonderful rest of your Thursday. <3
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, it helps support this blog. Thank you!
Last week Kristy and I taught our first round of Your Life, Your Memories, a new workshop in our photography series. The goal of our new class is to teach our students a system that enables you to continually sort, save and print your photos. The digital age has many benefits, but it also means that a lot of us have an overwhelming amount of digital photos and memories that we aren’t sure what to do with.
During our class, I talked about my favorite place to print photo books and square prints that are affordable and easy to display…Chatbooks! I first learned about Chatbooks a few years ago and I have been printing with them ever since. I am a little behind on printing my monthly books and teaching our class was a great reminder of what a simple process it can be as long as you keep it a habit.
I shared on Instagram that I was going to catch up on my books during our “staycation” and Chatbooks was kind enough to offer a discount code that I could share with my fellow photographers, friends, and blog readers. It $10 off your first Chatbooks order with the code: BOOKWORM that you can enter at checkout. My friend just ordered a set of 24 cardstock prints and they were around $9 with shipping after this discount!
I have been working away on sorting my images and I am excited to soon have some more Chatbooks prints and photo books on the way.
I order each photo book individually because I like to make them each month but there are also ongoing book series that you can set up that makes it automatic either from your social media accounts or from your favorite photos on your phone. How cool is that?!
The 5″x5″ prints are printed on cardstock and are the perfect matte finish. I love displaying them around our house and on my desk at work.
It is always so exciting to find that little turquoise envelope in my mailbox and it is so fun to actually have updated photos in our house to share and display. Our kids always enjoy looking through the books and we keep them right on a shelf in our kitchen so they are easy to access.
If you haven’t ordered from Chatbooks before, I highly recommend it! And I would love to hear what you get if you do! <3
Your Life, Your Camera a South Burlington, Vermont Photography Workshop…
This past weekend we taught another run of our introductory DSLR photography workshop, Your Life, Your Camera. Kristy and I wrote and began teaching this course in 2014 and it is exciting to see how much it has grown and the amazing local photography community that has been built as a part of this. We have met many so many amazing people along the way and love connecting with others who share the same passion for photography as we do.
We always ask for detailed feedback after each workshop and so much appreciate with our participants take the time to respond because it helps us make this workshop the best and most helpful it can be.
I get a lot of questions about our class and so I thought I would give a brief summary of what a day in the life of our workshop looks like…
What Does A Day In This Workshop Look Like?
Kristy and I spent a lot of time discussing how we could best use our four-hour workshop to educate and also allow for lots of hands-on assistance and practice. Our goal is for everyone to leave feeling more knowledgeable not only about photography but also about their own unique camera.
Kristy and I both shoot with Canon cameras but we are familiar with many brands including Nikon, Olympus, and Fujii We have some participants that come having some experience using their camera and some that have never even opened the box and we are able to work with both of these situations.
We start the class with introductions and a conversation about what makes a “good photo” and the emotional connection behind them. We then move into the more creative side of photography composition and engagement with your subjects.
A Presentation, Group Work & Hands-On Learning!
We have a powerpoint presentation that helps us explain this information as well as small group discussions to really make sure everyone is understanding the concepts. This part of the class is fun because these topics relate to any type of camera you are shooting with, even if it is your phone. Learning DSLR photography is a process and we love that this information can be taken away and used immediately to improve your overall creativity with photography as a whole.
The next part of our workshop discusses the more technical aspects of DSLR photography. We break down the exposure triangle and then discuss metering and how to choose your manual settings. Choosing your settings allows you to have full control over your camera versus letting your camera decide for you in automatic mode.
After discussing these topics we move into a visual demonstration and then allow all of our students to follow along as we set up different shots and then decide together what settings would work in different lighting situations. It is very important to us that this section of the class has enough hands-on practice to allow everyone to get comfortable with their own cameras and the concepts of metering. Due to our small class size, we are able to help each student individually as needed.
We gather together again to finish our presentation which includes a discussion on different types of natural light situations, choosing your ideal location, white balance, lenses, focal lengths, storage and editing program tips. This class does not cover a lot of discussion about editing.
Our Goal For Your, Life Your Camera
Our goal for Your Life, Your Camera is to teach you how to get the results you want so that when you do eventually move on to editing you are able to enhance your photos instead of trying to fix them. Choosing your manual settings allows you to take control over what your camera does instead of letting it guess on automatic mode. We want you to leave with the knowledge and confidence to keep shooting in manual after our class is over. Our class ends by talking about what’s next and then having more hands-on camera practice in small groups.
We do offer an intermediate and advanced DSLR class that many of our YLYC participants have taken. We are teaching another run of our intermediate class in March and I will make sure to share those details then. I hope you enjoyed hearing more about our class and please let me know or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in a future workshop. <3
*** The 1/26/19 is SOLD OUT but due to popular demand we have added another class on 4/13/19…please contact email@example.com if you are interested in joining us!***
Did you get a new camera this holiday season? Is 2019 the year you’re going to learn how to use the one you already have? We have only TWO seats left in our upcoming beginner DSLR workshop and we would love to have you join us. We will cover everything you need to know to start taking pictures you’ll love. We have been teaching this class for five years and are excited to meet more people who are looking to take their photos to the next level and join our photography community.
Our four hour workshop includes:
- Getting off automatic mode
- An introduction to natural light
- Beginner composition
- Tips for genuine and fun images
- Hands on practice and lots of Q&A
- Taught by two experienced educators and photographers
- Participation in an ongoing YLYC alumni Facebook group.
The Details: January 26th, 12-4PM, South Burlington Vermont $150
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your seat!