Just about everyone in my offline life knows Florinda. Or at least has heard her name when I can't avoid sharing some tidbit of wisdom or experience she has shared on her blog. I wouldn't be surprised if Florinda thought I was a stalker, as often as I visit her blog, The 3 R's Blog: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness and tell her how wonderful she is. The truth is that she is wonderful. She is witty and thoughtful--and always honest. She is an inspiration to not only me, but other bloggers as well. I only wish some of her organization skills would rub off on me.Please join me in welcoming Florinda to Musings of a Bookish Kitty!Literary Feline: Let's go straight to the important question. How do you like to start off your morning?Florinda:
I usually get up early - 6:30 is sleeping in for me. I spend some time working out with the Wii Fit (I like the Rhythm Boxing, strength training and yoga), check my e-mail, eat breakfast (accompanied by the book I'm currently reading), and get ready for the day. If it's a weekday morning, I'll be up at 4:30, my workout will be shorter, and the order of things may change a little - I try to be on the road before 7 AM. My drive to work is around 40 miles one way into Los Angeles, and most days it takes a little over an hour - not usually much less, sometimes quite a bit more.
The activities on weekend mornings are pretty much the same, but I start later, I spend more time on the Wii Fit, and the rest of it goes at a slower pace. But I always
get some reading in during breakfast.Literary Feline: You fit quite a bit into your mornings. I'm lucky if I have time to eat breakfast before I run out the door. I hang onto that last vestige of sleep for as long as I can during the week. It's sad really. 5:30 a.m. is as early as I can manage on a work day.I am always interested to know what motivates a person to start blogging. How did you get started blogging?Florinda:
Just last week, I marked my third year of blogging! I'd actually played around with it in the fall of 2006, but killed off that first blog because I really wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it. Around the same time, I began keeping a record of my reading for the first time ever, and after a few months it occurred to me that a blog might be a better place to do that. But I was already reading a few blogs on a range of topics, so I had a feeling that I wouldn't just blog about books, and it actually took me a few months before I started to find other book bloggers (there weren't nearly as many back then!).Literary Feline: Happy anniversary to your blog! It's hard to believe we're old veterans in this game now. You have done an amazing job with your blog and in encouraging a community atmosphere. You've carved out a niche for yourself, with your toes in quite a few different arenas. Quite a few bloggers out there juggle multiple blogs to represent different aspects of their lives. You've chosen to keep it all in one place. Did you ever consider having separate blogs or did you know from the start one was enough?Florinda:
Keeping up with one is quite enough, although every now and then I do kick around the idea of splitting things up and making each blog more focused. However, I do like posting nearly every day, and since I don't read fast enough to put up reviews three times a week, I'm probably going to stick with my mix.
In all seriousness, I don't see branching out unless I want to do more product reviewing, as my agreement with the BlogHer Publishing Network limits the dollar value of the items I can post about as long as I'm running their ads on my blog; higher-value items need to be discussed on a separate blog that doesn't have the ad code. Fortunately, most books are below that limit, and I'm not all that interested in reviewing anything else, so there's not a lot of incentive to change things.Literary Feline: I admit I think of you as a book blogger even though clearly your blog is much broader in scope than that. I love that you tackle so many topics, and you clearly are active in the blogging community, participating in different forums and community building activities (Los Angeles Moms Blog, Weekly Geeks, Book Blogger Appreciation Week, hosting read-alongs, Blogging Authors Reading Project, Tuesday Tangents, and that's just for starters). What motivated you to join in on all these activities? How do you juggle all of that along with work and other of your life priorities? Do you have any advice for other bloggers looking to get more involved in the community?Florinda:
Yikes - I really AM that busy, aren't I?
Starting at the end of the list: thanks for the plug for Tuesday Tangents, Wendy - and
for the fact that you participate every now and then! I'd like to see that catch on a little more, and I enjoy doing it; in a way it's filler, but it's fun, and it usually gets good comment participation unless I've talked about really lame stuff that week.
I've gotten involved in different activities for different reasons. I had the chance to sign on with the LA Moms Blog in its early soft-launch stage, and I looked at that as an opportunity to do more straight-out writing
than I do here, with the possibility that it could attract notice and possibly lead to other things. So far that really hasn't happened, but I do like the outlet, and I've been introduced to some fine writers and terrific women through my participation there. I've gotten involved in other things partly to gain visibility for my blog, but never just
for that reason; if the activity didn't genuinely interest me, I wouldn't volunteer or participate in it.
I'm so glad that you do think of me as a book blogger, though, because with my mix of topics, I'm not always sure I'm seen that way - but it's definitely the place in the blog world where I feel most at home, and that motivates a lot of the "extra-blogular" (did I just invent a new word?
) things I do. For example, when Dewey passed away, I was part of the early conversation about continuing some of the great community-building activities she'd started in the book blogosphere. Weekly Geeks actually wasn't my first choice; I was originally interested in the Bookworms Carnival, as I'd really enjoyed hosting one of those, but the WG team had more room. I'm really glad to be part of it - it's a great group, and not a lot of work for me since I just do wrap-ups (coming up with themes is the hard part!).
As to how I juggle the blogging and related pursuits with family and work: honestly, sometimes I don't do it very well. I spend most of my lunch hours working on posts, and I'll slip in some blog reading when I need a break in between tasks at the office. I work with numbers, and sometimes the change in focus can be useful. Most evenings, I'll do blogging stuff on my laptop while watching TV with my husband (but not always - it depends on the show. I never do it during Lost
). But it's really not that hard to manage, usually - as long as I stay off Twitter.
Speaking of Twitter: since you asked if I had any advice about community involvement, Twitter can be an excellent
way to get more involved in the blogging community, which makes it hard for me to stay away for long. Follow other bloggers and feel free to jump into conversations - book bloggers really are pretty welcoming! Weekly memes like Booking Through Thursday, Mailbox Monday, Friday Finds and the rest - and Weekly Geeks, of course! - can be a good way for newer bloggers in particular to find other blogs and attract visitors, but I'd recommend choosing them carefully and not letting them take over your blog content, which I see happen all too often. I resisted reading challenges for the longest time, but now that I've tried a few (and am hosting my own, the Blogging Authors Reading Project), I appreciate them for both the focus they can give my reading and the connections they can build among participants. But my favorite ways to become active in the community are old standbys. I love putting together my link round-ups twice a week - being generous with the linky love is worth the time it takes. And a blogger can never
go wrong by leaving comments on other blogs, and encouraging them to be left on yours!Literary Feline: That is very good advice, Florinda. Getting involved in the blogging community through memes and commenting on other blogs definitely can help a new blogger develop a following as well as make friends. I still struggle with Twitter, but I know you and others have put it to good use in helping build on the book blogging community there. Getting back to books, has blogging impacted your reading? If so, how?Florinda:
I used to have a fear of running out of books to read. Thanks to blogging, I've (mostly) gotten over it. My official "to read" collection includes only books I actually own, and according to LibraryThing - another thing I learned about through book blogging! - I currently have over 270 books with that status. Books I'd like to read but haven't bought yet (or been offered for review) get put on my wishlist.
But aside from the sheer number
of books that blogging has exposed me to, it's also raised my awareness of books in genres I rarely read before and introduced me to new authors. Blogging has influenced me to read more thoughtfully and critically, and I'm pleased with that development. Blogging has also given me a place to talk about my reading, the tools to talk about it more articulately - and people to talk about it with.
The worst thing that blogging has done to my reading is take away from the time I spend doing it, or divert it from reading books
to reading other blogs - it's The Great Book Blogger Conundrum, I believe.Literary Feline: Oh, yes! I think many bloggers can relate to the struggle of finding a balance between blogging, reading and visiting other blogs, including me. And I do think writing reviews for a blog does make us more critical of what we are reading. Plus, book discussions are among my favorite aspects of blogging. I'm still working on the being more articulate part! It can't all be about books though, can it? Besides reading and books, what are some of your other interests, hobbies or passions?Florinda:
I enjoy cooking and baking, but I like it more when I'm not rushed, like on weekends and for holidays - I really like making the special meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I like to experiment in the kitchen and I'm pretty comfortable tweaking recipes. I also enjoy eating
my own cooking, which is both good and bad.
I love traveling, whether it's a road trip to another part of California or a cross-country flight. I really haven't been outside the US much, but there's so much to see and explore right here. My family is planning a two-week trip to the East Coast in June: a week in Washington DC and a week in New York City, and I'm really excited about it! I was born in NYC and grew up nearby, but I've never really been there as a tourist, and I've never visited our nation's capital (where my son lives now). My husband and I want to make a "Route 66" road trip one year, LA to Chicago - he likes exploring too.
I don't watch a lot of TV, but I'm pretty devoted to the shows I do watch. I will really miss Lost
when it ends in May! Some of my other current favorites are Burn Notice
, White Collar
, The Amazing Race
, 30 Rock
, The Office
, The Big Bang Theory
, and Smallville
; I'm also a "TV on DVD" collector. Maybe I watch more TV than I think I do!Literary Feline: Your trip to the East Coast this summer sounds like it will be a lot of fun. Maybe I'll hide in your suitcase!
Lost is one of my favorites too.
The Big Bang Theory has grown on me. I watch that on DVD and so am behind, however. I find I prefer to watch TV on DVD nowadays. It's so convenient. No commercials and you can watch whenever you want, as many episodes or as few as you want. It's also given me a chance to catch shows I might have wanted to see at one time but hadn't been able to. You are even more of a movie and music lover than I am. Do you prefer to see the movie or read the book first? Or if you do one, you'd rather not do the other? And on the topic of music, do you listen to music while you read? Do you ever have soundtracks in your head to match the book you are reading or is that just me?Florinda:
I don't have a hard-and-fast rule about whether the book or the movie comes first, really. I've noticed that if I see a movie that's based on a book, I'll usually want to read the book afterwards, but sometimes reading the book first means I won't be as interested in the movie (or I'll be too apprehensive that the movie won't do the book justice).
I don't listen to music when I'm reading, oddly enough, but it's usually because I just don't think about turning it on - it's not that I find it distracting. (I play music in my office all the time.) I really don't have mental soundtracks to what I'm reading, though; I think I need more of a visual stimulus to do that kind of thing, so maybe it IS just you, Wendy :-).Literary Feline: It wouldn't surprise me! I always seem to have a song in my head. I used to listen more to music (outside of my head) when I read, but in recent years, I prefer the quiet. As for movies, I find I'm the opposite. If I read the book first, I almost always want to see the movie; while if I watch the movie first, I do not always want to read the book. Of course, it depends on the book. On a similar topic, do you have any reading routines, rituals or habits?Florinda:
I read at breakfast and at bedtime, every day. Sadly, some days those are the only times I spend with a book, which is why I don't read or post reviews at the rate some bloggers do! (I blame reading other blogs and watching TV. Oh, and needing to go to work, and sleep.) On weekends, I like to take myself out to breakfast and spend an hour at Starbucks with a coffee and a book; that's become a reading ritual of sorts, and my favorite reading time of the week.Literary Feline: Sleep and work are always getting in the way. How do you pull yourself out of a reading or blogging slump or what steps do you take to avoid that from happening?Florinda:
I don't really get into slumps - I can't remember the last reading slump I was in, to be honest. Feeling indecisive about what to read next because you have too many great options isn't exactly the same thing as being in a reading slump, and I've experienced that much more lately! My blogging slumps tend to be pretty short - no more than a few days at a time, usually - because I start to miss it if I go a few days without writing, but sometimes I need a few days without it, especially if I've been on a tear and have several days' worth of posts prepared already. I really don't
like writing and posting on the fly - I try to have a post ready at least a day before I want it to go up, most of the time.Literary Feline: I envy you these traits. If I'm lucky, I may be able to plan a couple of days ahead, but most of the time I am posting on the fly. I find myself needing blogging breaks about every couple of months, which often helps me fend off a blogging slump.Now to put you on the spot (you have 20 seconds to answer each of these questions--I've got my stop watch ready!):Book you'd most like to be trapped with in a broken elevator for several hours: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
, even though I've read it before - it's long enough that I won't finish it before I get out of the elevator, and it will definitely hold my interest!It's storming outside, you're alone in the house, and the electricity has gone out; what book do you turn to pass the time?
I'm probably not going to pick out a particular book for that occasion, to be honest - I'll just keep on with whatever book I'm reading at the time.The storm has passed and it's a beautiful day outside. The temperature is just right. Will you read outside or inside?
I'll stay inside because that's where the sofa is, but I'll open the windows and the screen doors.You're picnicking by the lake and have an hour to yourself while the family is off exploring. What book did you bring with you to read?
Same answer as the "storm" question, basically - either the book I'm currently reading, or whatever is next on the TBR stack! (Sorry, I'm boring like that.)Name one book I absolutely must read at some point in my life: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
, by Anne Lamott. It's like a great conversation with a smart, down-to-earth friend.Literary Feline: Thank you, Florinda, for being my guest today! I hope all of you who are visiting will stop by The 3 R's Blog: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness and check out Florinda's blog.Florinda:
Thanks so much for inviting me to be part of your Page in the Life feature, Wendy, although this may be one of the longest Pages you've posted! I'm not known for keeping it short - except for my height. Thanks for indulging my rambling!