Saturday, June 1, 2013

Thoughts on blogging and keeping it real

Celebrating our love for all things literary, Armchair BEA is for everyone who would like to go to Book Expo America, but couldn't make it. 

"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.


  1. The blogging thing is something that a lot of writers are struggling with right now. I've been seeing "experts" telling us we no longer need to worry about the "writing" platform because it doesn't translate to selling books. Duh. But most of us are not terribly extroverted, which makes sharing our personal selves difficult. (Like pulling teeth. Without drugs.) It's great that you found something that still excites you and ignites your passion to share. Passion and joy are always going to be rewarded!

    And at the risk of writing a way TMI comment, I want agree with your assessment about YA lit. Apart from the mix of real problems and the potential for firsts, I can't think of another category of fiction that consistently delivers content as beautifully delivered and felt as YA lit. YA authors and editors seem to be able to marry lovely prose with fast pacing and genuine emotion in a way that speaks to readers young and old.

  2. At one point, two summers ago...I blogged about more controversial things and my blog hits and retweets were sky high. But then I realized that's not how I wanted to build a platform. I didn't want to be that kind of blogger, even when my hits went down.

    I also got tired of blogging about writing and once I started self publishing I did realize it had nothing to do with my platform or what I was selling, so I stopped.

    I think the smartest thing is to blog for SEO. Especially once you have a novel coming out. it might get less hits, but hopefully, the ones that come are interested in the topic or friends commenting which is great too.

    I slowed down blogging. I blog more like once a week. And like you, since I love to read, I focus one post on my favorite reads from the month, I share my own news if I have some, one post a month goes to promoting friends and their new covers.

    With Heist coming out late summer, I plan to do a series on the heist involved behind the book to draw in readers/build SEO.

  3. Awesome. I'm totally there with you. I've been playing with my blog since 2008, but only got on a serious path as of 2011, and my enthusiasm for it has waned and waxed through the seasons, moves, the pull of promoting a musical, and several other GINORMOUS projects. Finally, I've decided the only way to keep it consistent and really find my pace is by using memes that fit with my platform/personality. Since this last A-Z challenge, that's working for me. I find personal stories and experiences come out with each meme.

  4. I, too, mix personal with what I love. It works for me, and it's what keeps me coming back here, to you.



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