"Keeping it real" is one of four topic discussions, and "Children's/Young Adult literature" is one of four genre discussions. Here's the complete listing of topics.
What exactly does "keeping it real" (on your blog) mean?
For me, "keeping it real" means a personal and thoughtful touch. Sharing how I see the world - through books, or writing, or experiences - but also constantly striving to see the world in new ways, from other perspectives. Which is a main reason why I'm such an avid reader; stories help me see in new ways. I also blog about what strikes a chord with me. For instance, following the Moore, Oklahoma tornado, I saw a family interviewed who had lost their house. The brothers and sisters were so thankful for each other, whereas before they weren't. Things like that really stick with me: when people undergo radical events and changes in attitudes.
How do you not only grow an audience, but how do you keep them coming back for more?
Other than commenting faithfully on other people's blogs, I really don't know how to grow an audience. I know there are several methods to draw people back: humor, controversy, and content that readers relate to. I'd like to develop these more. A huge part of my enjoyment with blogging comes from interacting. Comments are the core of it all to me, especially when I can strike up a "conversation" - connecting with people about subjects I love or subjects that challenge me. This is why I struggle with posting book reviews because it's hard to connect with people about a book unless they've read it too. I've thought about raising questions to go along with a book review, to stimulate discussion, but it turns out it's harder to do than I thought.
If you have been around for years, how do you keep your material fresh?
I've been blogging for three years now. I used to blog a lot about writing, but this year I've struggled to come up with any fresh content on writing on a regular basis. So I've gravitated toward my other, closely related favorite thing - reading. I love to share books and characters and how they've impacted me or made me think.
How do you continue to keep blogging fun?
By blogging about what I love, what gets me excited, or what makes me pause and think or wonder.
What are the top 5 (or more) books that every child should have on his shelf?
The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
Anything by Madeleine L'Engle: A Wrinkle in Time; The Austin family series
To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Anything by Mary O'Hara: My Friend Flicka; Thunderhead
Anything by E.B. White: Stuart Little; Charlotte's Web
Anything by L.M. Montgomery: Anne of Green Gables
The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
These are all books I read over and over as a child and young adult, and am now re-reading with my own children and still loving them and appreciating them just as much! It's so neat to revisit childhood favorite from the new perspective as a parent.
If you are an adult who reads YA, why do you keep going back for more?
I think because it's about characters who are just discovering some of the big issues and difficulties in life. My favorite characters are those who are struggling, but are excited and hopeful; they view the world with fear and but also with potential and possibilities. I'm prone to depression, and I've found that adult literature often takes a depressing turn, at least for me; YA literature on the other hand feels uplifting. Another big reason is that YA doesn't shy away from troublesome issues, but the books don't get too graphic, either. I've done a fair share of reading with explicit sex and violence in the past, and I don't appreciate graphic details anymore. It messes with my head too much.