What craziness is this? How can it be one year already?? Holy shit, time indeed flies. This past year had been the most chaotic, rewarding, exciting I ever had. And that’s mostly thanks to the people I got to know. But I’ll get back to this.
Last March I decided to give a try to blogging. I was full of doubts and honestly had low expectations, because who the hell would be interested in what a little nobody from Hungary had to say? Or in that little nobody period. What prompted me was that I wanted to help awesome people like Benedict Patrick, Damien Black, A.J. Norfield and Mike Shel to spread a word about their books – or upcoming books in the case of the latter two. The former two were among the first appearing on my blog both with review and interview. Damn, I was so nervous asking Benedict if he was up for it!
Despite my doubts – mostly in my language skills even though I have an advanced language exam at hand – I set out to build my blog. It took WEEKS to come up with a fitting name and I drove that few people I talked to at the time crazy with my constant ideas and sudden changes. I settled with RockStarlit BookAsylum because it reflected everything I love – music, books – gives away that I’m not completely sane – hence the asylum – and honestly, just sounded good in my head. In retrospect, I could have chosen something simpler people could remember, but then that wouldn’t be me.
So, I had my name, I had the website sorted out but I absolutely had no idea how blogging – especially book blogging – worked. I never followed any blogs, always sucked at networking – I’m not the team player type if I want to be honest – never really wrote reviews before except for a handful and generally had no fucking clue as to how to reach as many people as possible. I’m still learning, but if I look back at this past year, I can’t deny I had come a long way already.
In this post I’d like to look back at my favorite memories, all the milestones, happy or sad moments and say thank you to those who helped me to get where I am today.
I’ll start with this because probably this will be the only category which focuses on the blog purely.
The First Review Request
It was about a month after I set my blog up that the first official review request landed in my messages. Twice. Ulff Lehmann contacted me through my facebook page asking me to read Shattered Dreams. Then he sent me an e-mail through my blog asking the same. I declined his second request due to already accepting it. I said sorry and we had a good laugh out of it. Since then we eased into a routine where I read his book and we keep chatting about it making it into an interactive reading experience. It’s fun, especially when he asks, if I made the connection between x scene and the first scene in the book and I have to go back and check what the hell he talks about. But I swear, it’s fun!
Since then several other requests found me, and I still have a backlog, trying to catch up. Once it’s done I probably have to come up with a better system to manage things.
The First Acknowledgment by a Traditionally Published Author
Now, during this past year I largely read self-published books, but it happened that I ventured out. My GoodReads friends kept throwing Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames at me and I finally relented. I was still in my first or second month into blogging and that review got really good stats – well, good for me anyway. It was the first time that an author I had no connection with before reading their books not only retweeted my review, but also said he loved it and qouted it! I was over the moon. And honestly, that early review is still one of my favorites to date.
Contributing at Big Sites and SPFBO
As time went on, I started to build connections. The very first was James Tivendale from Fantasy Book Review. One day he asked me if I want to write a review for them. I was like, well, why not? And so, my relationship with FBR started by Red Season Rising. He also asked me to join their team during SPFBO – Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off, read more here – as an advisor. Which is funny, because practically we got to know each other trough the SPFBO facebook group. I had the luxury of picking whatever books I wanted to read from our assigned 30 and help them choose our finalist. Which turned out to be Symphony of the Wind by Steven McKinnon. For the finals I had become an official judge alongside Emma, Adam and James and honestly, I just love this competition. I was determined to get the word out as much as possible so I reached out to those 30 authors and later to the finalists to ask them to be featured on my blog. You can check every post out on my SPFBO 4 Phase 1 and SPFBO 4 pages.
It was also thanks to James that I got to know Adrian Collins, chief editor of Grimdark Magazine. When they had open positions for reviewers, I decided to jump on that wagon too. Thankfully he liked my review for Devouring Dark by Alan Baxter and I got in. And this leads me to another milestone.
The First Proofreading and Beta Reading
It’s not much of a secret that one of my life goals is to switch careers and find my place in the publishing world, as freelance editor – or something like that. Naturally, I was really thrilled when within a few weeks (I think), two author whose work I adored already asked me to help out. Did I say yes? You can be damn sure I did! One of the projects is still ongoing and he gave me a pretty good feedback when we last met, so I’m hopeful 🙂
The First Book Cover Blurb
Sometime in October, I got my hands on an ARC of The Lore of Prometheus by Graham Austin-King. I’ve been meaning to check his books out, especially Faithless but didn’t get the chance yet, so when he offered his new book, I was all in. Then mentioned it to Adrian too and he agreed to post my review on GdM. Since then the hardcover copy of The Lore of Prometheus has been published and my qoute appeared on a book for the first time! You gotta love this reviewing business. The next goal is to have my blog’s name right next to my name on a cover 😉
The Growing Asylum Staff
Toward the end of last year I started to think I should have someone else on board to have more content. I can read only so much – 1 book a week – and my aim was 2 reviews a week. So I looked around my GoodReads friends and reached out to Jen who is also known as Bunnyreads. Things turned out better than I expected and we had become fast friends 🙂 I still struggle sometimes with having a partner, because I’m just so used doing everything by myself… So, Jen, I’m sorry if you ever feel like I leave you out of things, and please feel free to kick my ass and remind me that I’m being an ass 🙂 I also promised to put up an About Us page, but… uhh… I will do it, I swear! And since we are talking about promises: we have goals for 2019! You can read all about them in the linked post. This one is long enough as it is, I really don’t want to ramble on that as well, lol.
The Magical Numbers
I recently reached 500 followers on Twitter! Once again let me thank everyone who shared, followed, gave a shout out. You are all awesome and I love you! I’m still amazed how many friends I made over the last year, bloggers and authors alike. I can’t mention you all here, but you know who you are! And I promise you all will get your little spotlight by the time I finish with celebrating the one year anniversary!
As for other numbers: this post is the 233rd I published. The monthly number of views are growing steadily – with a few exceptions when I had extra high views like in December or August/September – and I’m hoping to keep this up 🙂 Because it means I’m doing something right, and let’s face it, I’m loving this little corner of the internet. So far, the most popular review was Symphony of the Wind by Steven McKinnon, the most viewed page is SPFBO 4, and the Advent Book Calendar was a huge success too 🙂
From here on things will get more personal – not that they weren’t up to this point, but I promise they are still blog and/or book related!
Technically this shouldn’t be here, as it happened before I launched the blog, but it’s book related and one of my favorite memories from last year, so I hope you’ll forgive me, if I leave this.
February is my favorite month as it means I can celebrate my birthday. In the last few years I started to travel around that day so I wouldn’t have to feel pity for myself not having friends to spend the day with. Instead I visit awesome places. In 2017 I went to Naples, Italy and in 2018 my favorite city, London. I went for a day trip visiting Stonehenge, Windsor castle and Oxford. Then on my birthday I went to the Harry Potter studio tour – where I got to open the door to the Great Hall!! – then met with Damien Black for a drink and a nice long chat about fantasy and books 🙂 I took a look at Camden and the London Bridge Experience. Plus, I met my cousine who lives in London and whom I last met when I was a small child. I had a great time, though London for some reason started to pick on me… More about that later. Anyway, here, some pictures about my adventures:
My First Tattoo!
In May I had a week off and headed to one of the historical cities in Hungary called Eger. Which also happens to be the place where my favorite Hungarian novel is set, Eclipse of the Crescent Moon. The story revolves around the events in 1552 (and before) when the Ottoman Army tried to siege the city – and the fortress. And since I was there, I decided to FINALLY get my first tattoo which I wanted to have for years. I choose ‘Handwritten Story’ because 1) it’s the combination of two songs I love: Handwritten by The Gaslight Anthem and The Story by Fivefold. 2) I believe that everyone has their own story, namely our life. It’s up to us how we write it, and we can’t let anyone else has the control over it. 3) And since we all have a story, some people like to share their own through art, be it music, fine arts, or writing. I personally chose writing and I’m a bit old school too as I LOVE writing by hand.
I Met With Barry Kerch!
The summer brought a few pretty awesome concerts to Budapest. I’ve got to see Nothing More, Stone Sour and one of my most favorite bands, Shinedown! Thanks to my friend I had the chance to make an interview with Barry Kerch, drummer of Shinedown. That guy is a real sweetheart and tried to calm my overly anxious self. I was a bit of a disaster as this was my first interview ever and all, but holy shit! I got to talk with Barry Kerch for half an hour! The whole interview can be read here!
How Blogging Changed Me
I was already a few months into blogging by August, but I already felt how much I changed during that short time. I also opened my eyes about how many people suffers from different mental illnesses and it got me thinking. It also prompted me to open up about my own issues regarding anxiety. A shitload of things happened since then, I went through some experiences and learned a thing or two about myself. Probably I’ll write up another post to see how far I’ve got. But for those who are interested, here is How Blogging Changed Me.
BristolCon and Other Adventures in the UK
October rolled in, and I prepared myself to go back to London to head to BristolCon from there. My first con ever. And I was bound to meet someone – well, okay, everyone, but he was special – for the first time, and oh hell I was soooo nervous that only the little toy panda kept me from vomiting on the train. The con was great of course and I met so many awesome people in person! Mark Lawrence, Lee Conley, Laura M. Hughes, Dominic Murray, Damien Black, Anna Stephens, and many others among them. What was surprising is that everyone welcomed me with a hug and I totally didn’t expect that. The antisocial me was absolutely shocked but James kept me sane and dragged me over to everyone to introduce me 😀 That weekend was the beginning of something as well, and though since then things fell apart, I still cherish these memories 🙂
Read about all (well, almost, I kept some things to myself) of my experiences and my (mis)adventures in London in my BristolCon and Other Adventues in the UK post. Or look at more pretty pictures:
Yet Another UK trip
As I said, Bristol was the beginning of something, and that led me to spend Christmas in the UK, thus making it my third trip. It was mostly a fun week and I got a decent book haul of it all as well as some other memories. We spent a day in Dudley, sleeping in a supposedly haunted hotel, met a nice old couple – the man was English the woman German and when they met they didn’t speak each other’s language. They were sweet. We went into town to a pub called Ye Olde Foundry, and the next day we took a walk in the Dudley Zoo and saw the castle. During the week we also walked around in Stourbridge which is a charming town, but now I regret my choice of walking by the canal at night… That was…. scary.
My Break Down and a New Start
January and the first half of February was a mess. Things didn’t go as I planned, I was emotionally and physically exhausted, and the yet another UK trip I was looking forward to was canceled. Which forced me to stay at home for my birthday. In retrospect, I kept my week off and spent it trying to get myself together. I went to see the Murder Exhibition and catched up with a friend I haven’t met in a year. That helped a lot. Also the new awesome coloring pencil set which got me into the habit of coloring.
I needed changes. I needed goals. I needed something that would keep me going. But before that, I needed to let my feelings out. So the day after I was supposed to travel, I had a melt down. I expected that weekend won’t be easy for me, but didn’t expect the flood of emotions that washed over me. I’ve been down a few times, but this was probably the worst. I also planned to delete that post I wrote in the spur of the moment, Let’s Talk About the Importance of Self Care, but then decided to keep it – that was also me, and I think it’s important to sometimes address our own problems to help us moving on. I can say, I’m in a much, much better place since then.
New friends and grand plans
In the last few weeks I made some new friends and set in motion some new plans. I practically have my whole year planned out – I’m going to see awesome concerts, a friend probably coming to visit over the summer, I’ll be going to Dublin for WorldCon (I’ll be so damn nervous… why am I doing this to myself???). I can’t wait to meet Devin Madson, Sam Hawke, Dyrk Ashton, Ben Galley, my BristolCon buddies from last year and a ton of other people who will attend! I probably will head to BristolCon as well. Then maybe a short trip to Vienna to meet another friend and see pandas in live for the first time. I’m also thinking about having a series of posts in which I’ll show you lovely people my beautiful hometown.
As for the near future, during the next few weeks, I’ll have two posts a day in an event I named The Questioning. This is going to be my way of saying thank you all those people who played some part in my life this past year – wether by being my friend, or supporting the blog. I’ll also take part in a project which is currently under organisation, so I can’t talk about it yet. 😉
All in all, this past year was full of new experiences, and I grew a lot as a person. I can’t wait for new challenges to come and see where I can take RockStarlit BookAsylum 🙂 Thank you for being with me and I hope we will have many other adventures together!