Tag Archive | Blogathon 2011

Whoosh! 11 years of BooksYALove, a decade of April A2Z!

text reads: reflection- Blogging from A to Z April (2021) Challenge http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

Like that snowball rolling downhill toward a cartoon character, growing larger and faster as it goes, time seems to pass more swiftly as the calendar pages flip over.

Eleven years ago today, I stepped out into the then-new world of blogging, thanks to the encouragement of Michelle Rafter’s Blogathon in the early 2010s and the repository of book recommendations that I had written for Barb Langridge’s awesome kids’ book discovery site www.abookandahug.com (still going strong – be sure to take the Reader Personality Type quiz here!).

Ten years ago today, I looked back at a whole month of posts (every day but Sunday) pegged alphabetically from A to Z – wow, I really could create content on a daily basis… for at least one month of the year during the April AtoZ Challenge!

At the end of March every year since, I’ve pondered whether I could really complete another AtoZ, not missing a single alphabetical day (X is so hard). And for 10 years straight, I’ve decided that I should try, and I have succeeded!

Book bloggers don’t get medals or awards for our work promoting books, authors, and illustrators.

Most of us don’t get any money for our writing, some of us get review copies from publishers (thank you, thank you!), and many of us pay out of pocket to host our sites.

We all spend innumerable hours reading, deciding which books to write about, looking at our growing TBR (to-be-read) piles of books…and the books waiting for a review.

Book reviewers may never know whether our recommendation of a specific book led someone to read it… but one review and one book may be what makes life better for one reader – and that is enough for me as I begin my 12th year of BooksYALove.

Have you read any of the 1000+ books that I’ve recommended?

If BooksYALove started today… (reflective) – blogging lessons learned in a year

old catalog drawing of manual typewriter

not my typewriter

Today, the 2012 WordCount Blogathon theme asks us to consider what we’d do differently with our blogs: “If I started blogging today I would….”

Hmmm… I’d compare WordPress and Blogger more closely before deciding which one to use. I started BooksYALove just hours before the 2011 Blogathon began, so I went with Blogger where I already had a personal blog for an online technology update course and it was a snap to add another blog.

From reading other bloggers’ experiences with plugins, going to self-hosted blog platform, etc., it sounds like WordPress has an edge over Blogger once it’s time to take off the blogging-training-wheels. But I have gotten used to Blogger’s interface (even when it changed right in the middle of a blog challenge for me) and really like the theme colors and layout that I selected, so I’m staying with Blogger for now.

I wish I’d had enough time and confidence to register my domain name from day one so that all my outreach, publicity, and business cards had pointed to that web address from the very start. I probably will go self-hosted soon to give me more control over my own writings, since BooksYALove is meant to be a searchable archive of great books for young adult book fans.

Some things that I wouldn’t change: I was immensely fortunate in finding my first choice of blog name available; the “YA” in the middle can mean “young adult” which is the book category that I cover or “ya” like the casual “you” since I’m writing recommendations directly to young adult book readers (rather than to librarians or those who purchase books for others).  And every book has to be one that a significant group of readers will love – I don’t review every YA book that I read – so only the books that would rank 4-5 stars get the nod for BooksYALove.

During my first month of blogging in May 2011, I settled on a blog format that suited my writing style, taking some of my YA recommendations posted on Barb Langridge’s www.abookandahug.com website and adding commentary with relevant subject links. Since I hate reading reviews that give away the ending or significant plot twists, I vowed to never do that to my readers – so, no spoilers, ever!

Longtime followers/subscribers have probably noticed some stylistic changes on BooksYALove in recent weeks, as I adjusted font sizes for better readability, added a new logo and blog background (courtesy of my talented daughter, the graphic designer), and started some easy-click book lists in tabs at the top of the page.

And I’ll continue to participate each May in WordCount Blogathons, where I’ve found community (some of us posted in the Blogathon GoogleGroup for an entire year, not just the month of May!), advice, support, and the spark that set me off on this blogging adventure in the first place. Thanks, Michelle & the whole Blogathon crew!

(clipart of antique typewriter courtesy of Florida Center for Instructional Technology, University of South Florida)

A glance back at month #1

Whew! Time to step back and look at the first month of BooksYALove…

So many firsts = first posting on May 1st as WordCount’s Blogathon2011 gets rolling. Followed by first book recommendation, first comments, first subscribers, first tweets – and lots of friendly feedback from fellow Blogathonners.

Most of my recommendations were for fiction books, with some cool nonfiction thrown in, all books that young adults (and young-at-heart adults) will enjoy reading, but might not find in the big displays at booksellers or on best seller lists.

Worth looking at again:
Scary books: Stolen and The House of Dead Maids
High school drama (but funny): Flawless and Ten Miles Past Normal
Futuristic books: Awaken and Across the Universe
Graphic novels: Smile and My Boyfriend is a Monster
Across the sea: Warriors in the Crossfire and Saraswati’s Way

I have a big stack of books that I;ve read and just cannot wait to share with y’all, this summer I’m planning to post several new book recommendations every week (though perhaps not one a day), with occasional reflective musings and some guest posts that highlight “forgotten gems” of YA lit from earlier years.

So, grab a book and take your mind somewhere else this summer – you’ll be glad you did! And let me know of any books that I need to read and recommend here, too.

Blogathon 2011 recap Wordle

A book a day, all through May!
Thanks, WordCount Blogathon 2011 for setting me on this mindful path of daily posting.

Happy Memorial Day, for US readers – and everyone read Dogtag Summer by Elizabeth Partridge, today’s great YA book beyond the bestsellers.


My 5 favorite places to write…about

Today’s WordCount Blogathon theme is “My 5 favorite places to write.” And here I am, hands flying across my computer keyboard. But I really don’t do my writing at my desk at all. That’s just where I rearrange the phrases and paragraphs that I’ve mulled over and polished and discarded and remade as I’m out walking in the mornings, crafting my book recommendations so that they’re just right.

And I find that the books I recommend often come from certain places that resonate repeatedly with YA readers. So here are my five favorite YA lit places to write about (with some BooksYALove recent and upcoming featured titles):

1) The future: Whether it’s the just-around-the-corner days of Awaken (5/23/11 post) and Trickster’s Girl (5/7/11 post) or the rocket-ship-in-the-driveway far-future of Ender’s Game (5/19/11 post) and Across the Universe (5/4/11 post), “speculative fiction” can be the ultimate in escapist literature.

2) Fantasy: but no rehashes, please! If the cover blurb is overrun with difficult character names or boy wizards or disparate friends on a quest for an obscure object, then it’ll get passed over. YA fantasy readers want real story in an unreal place (Green Angel and Green Witch), real feelings and questions in possibly unreal beings, like Kristin Cashore’s Fire who is a beautiful monster, and Lenah, a 500-year-old vampire who longs to be human again to end her Infinite Days.

3) Around the corner: realistic fiction that could be happening over on the next block (Zen & Xander Undone 5/8/11 post), where young people and families face difficult questions (Dancing Through the Snow 5/17/11 post), have to live through unfair situations (Blindsided 5/9/11 post), or just put up with everyday life together (Ten Miles Beyond Normal posting on 5/26/11).

4) A long time ago: historical fiction that explores life in another era, especially if young adults are featured, as in Julie Chibbaro’s Deadly typhoid epidemic and Celia Rees’ The Fool’s Girl set in Shakespeare’s day. Warriors in the Crossfire (5/3/11 post) and Heart of a Samurai are amazing, heartstopping.

5) Far away, in another land: fiction that brings us into another culture as an outsider sees it (Mamba Point) or as residents live it (Saraswati’s Way 5/15/11 post), books that give us perspectives on teens’ lives to inform our own, sometimes humorously (Sequins, Secrets & Silver Linings 5/12/11 post) and sometimes as a matter of life and death (This Thing Called the Future).

Hmmm…so my walks aren’t just strolls around the neighborhood; they’re writes and rewrites to invite readers to fascinating places through outstanding YA books.
See y’all later – it’s time for my walk!

Dark Is Rising Sequence, by Susan Cooper (book review) – Guest post on classic fantasy series

Today I’ve invited fellow Blogathonner Stephanie Suesan Smith to talk up her favorite YA books for WordCount Blogathon Challenge 2011 guest post day. She’s selected a great fantasy series which has withstood the test of time – Enjoy!
Recommendation: There are many books that were published well before Harry Potter that contain magic, quests, and the fight between good and evil. One such series that was published starting in 1965 is as vibrant today as when it was written. Although the settings contain no computers or cell phones, The Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper takes us to a world within our world just the same.

Written for preteens, the stories are so ageless that I still re-read them when I need to remind myself that it is up to each of us to do our part in order that the end result comes out all right. The stories are set in Britain and are an arc of Arthurian quests without that being the overwhelming feature of the books.

Over Sea, Under Stone
is the first book and is more of a prequel than a part of the series. Start with it, but know that even better things are coming. Three children go to Cornwall with their parents to vacation with a distant relative. While rambling in the home, the children find a map to a treasure. With the dark trying to obtain the map on one hand, and the light trying to help the children, it is a race to see who reaches the object first.

The Dark Is Rising is one of my favorite books to read on a bad day when the rain is coming down and the shadows won’t go away. The British celebrate Christmas differently than Americans, and perhaps that is part of the magic of this book. It is set to the tempo of the twelve days of Christmas as a young boy, Will, becomes an adult in the world of beings who fight for or against the Dark. He is the last of his order to complete this task, and failure means the fight is lost.

Greenwitch is a book dealing with a pre-Christian ritual and belief about the sea and powerful spirits leaving there. It is well known fishermen are superstitious and believe in things others do not. The children from the first book are joined by the one from the second to recover a lost object held by one of these spirits. No force can compel this spirit to part with the needed talisman. Can friendship?

The Grey King
is the gathering. The Grey King is a powerful evil spirit working to keep the Light from winning. Will goes to Wales to stay with relatives after an illness. He must overcome the evil and help the light as the last gathering of forces begins. The final battle looms as time grows short.

Silver on the Tree
is the last book in the series. Will and all his kind go on a final quest to rid the earth of the Dark and leave it safe for mankind. Each child, Will, his three friends from the first book, and a fourth from the fourth book, is tested by the Dark and the powerful earth magic that governs how the quest must be followed. Will they succeed? Will it be enough?

People who like the Harry Potter series will like these books. The violence is much less obvious in this series. The books can be read again and again as more is discovered in each reading.

Book info: The Dark Is Rising boxed set, by Susan Cooper. Paperback: 1088 pages
Publisher: McElderry (August 21, 2007) [author’s official website] [publisher site]

Guest blogger bio: Stephanie Suesan Smith mainly uses her Ph.D. in clinical psychology to train her dogs. She is also a master gardener, member of the Garden Writer’s Association, and woodworker. Stephanie writes on almost any nonfiction topic and has had some unusual experiences that contribute to that ability. Getting pooped on by a rattlesnake probably ranks tops there, but things just seem to happen to her. View more of them at www.stephaniesuesansmith.com. View her photos at photos.stephaniesuesansmith.com. View her woodworking at wood.stephaniesuesansmith.com.

Blogathon 2011

badge for WordCount Blogathon 2011 Participant
Yes, I signed up for the Blogathon 2011 challenge as set forth by http://michellerafter.com/the-2011-wordcount-blogathon/ to blog every single day in May.

Why? So we bloggers can make our communication a habit, so we can be intentional about creating that good habit, maybe so we can make sure we really have something to say after all!

But the best thing for me is that nudging from comrades-in-arms who’ve also signed up for Blogathon – we’re all trying to keep each other on track and posting daily.

So, away we go, in the merrie, merrie month of May, with good books just ahead….