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Ready, set, blog! (reflective) – blog challenges ahead

Did you ever get a “little set in your ways”?
Is it time to push your writing muscles a bit?
A blog challenge may be just what you need!

With over 150 book recommendations, BooksYALove heads into its 12th month with a wow, as I participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge in April.

Rather than just posting 3 books a week, I will be posting on 26 of April’s 30 days according to the Challenge’s alphabetical schedule, starting with A on Sunday, April 1 (no fooling).

Naturally, trying to align the alphabet with the stack of great YA books that I want to recommend isn’t as easy as I’d hoped. Using book titles would be simple – if I had some that began with X or didn’t have multiple titles that all start with the same letter. Ditto for authors’ names, last or first. So, there will be a few entries that get shoehorned into a letter slot because of their subject or a major character.

But why do a blog challenge in the first place? You’ve heard that it takes 30 days to acquire a new habit, so a month-long challenge with a set framework and some coaching will make your success more likely, as will being accountable to the challenge organizers and fellow bloggers as we exercise our blog-writing ‘muscles’ and encourage each other.

On April 30th, my blog’s first birthday, I’ll take another deep breath and plunge into the full 31-day Wordcount Blogathon, with a big thank-you to its host Michelle Rafter. Yep, I finally began blogging so that I could participate in the 2011 Wordcount Blogathon. Lots of excellent advice, a forum to share our posts, guest post exchange – you should sign up for the 2012 version, too! It’s free, you won’t get any sales pitches, and your blogging muscles will get great exercise. Sign-ups will begin soon, so I’ll remind you!

Ready, set, April!
(photograph of lichen on oak branch (c)2012 H.B. Massingill Jr. – thanks, Dad!)

Whose Internet is this, anyway? (reflective)

If today (January 18, 2012) is “Internet Blackout Day” to protest SOPA/PIPA bills under consideration by the US Congress… then why am I still online? Why are you online, if you’re reading this post on the 18th?

Is it because we cannot go a single day or hour or minute without our entertainment and news and communication? Perhaps – but there are still movies and print newspapers and telephone calls that can fill those voids.

More likely, we’re online – now and any time – because we must share something. I mean that we are truly driven to share good news, bad news, cute kitten pictures, tidbits of information, and titles of books that someone else will just love; we are humans, and our culture of sharing is part of what makes us human.

To me, giving credit to the originator/creator/performer of a painting, a song, a book, a charming and witty sentence is a moral obligation, according to my upbringing and my education as a librarian. This was much easier when books and paintings were “one-off” and there was only one original with no easy way to copy it. Then along came the printing press, camera, tape recorder, photocopier and so on. Thank goodness for US copyright laws.

Yes, piracy of intellectual property is a real and growing problem. Yes, there do need to be legal ways to stop and punish intentional internet piracy. But I agree with many others that SOPA/PIPA is the wrong way to accomplish this.

This tweet today from Erin Bow (author of Plain Kate, which I recommend) puts it in perspective for me: “I’m an author; I make a living because of copyright, and piracy takes its toll. But SOPA would stop piracy by poisoning the ocean.” @ErinBowBooks

Google has started a petition to protest passage of SOPA (the House of Representatives version)/ PIPA (the Senate version); you can sign it here.

The bills are scheduled for Jan. 24th vote, so you have time to read them yourself (PIPA here, SOPA here) and contact your Representative and your Senators to help them understand that censoring the Internet through SOPA/PIPA will not stop piracy of intellectual property online.

If we do not speak out, how can we help our lawmakers decide?

The Big Picture (reflective)

Have you ever WORDLED? I used their free app to create the nifty word cloud here, using my initial blogpost about MotherReader and Lee Wind‘s annual Comment Challenge for kidlit bloggers, 2012 edition.

What fun it’s been to “meet” illustrators, authors, and book bloggers through the Challenge! Getting out of my “writing silo” where I see only my computer screen and the books that I’m recommending so that I interact more with the diverse and supportive kidlit community online – priceless!

Since BooksYALove is a fairly new blog, I’m grateful for new visitors (and new followers – yay!) who will help spread the word about the wonderful YA books from debut authors and smaller imprints that I’m discovering.

After all, I’m writing these recommendations (no spoilers ever! I promise) for YA readers… right book for the right reader!

Reading beyond the box (reflective)

A new year and a new challenge: Read and thoughtfully comment on 5 blog posts a day for 21 days…

Since it takes about 3 weeks to solidly acquire a new habit, MotherReader and Lee Wind have once again teamed up to help book bloggers get into the good habit of reading what other book bloggers are reading and writing about and (most importantly) joining in the conversation about the kidlit that makes us all so happy with their Comment Challenge 2012.

And there will be prizes for folks who register their 100 comments in 21 days (with 1 day off, just in case), too! We’ll be checking in with Lee on Wednesdays to update our totals and get a bit of encouragement along the way.

So, a new year, new blogs to read, new books to discover – onward…

YA saves! YA books cover every subject & emotion

I wasn’t gonna post today, but yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article about YA books “Darkness Too Visible” has me and lots of other folks pretty steamed up.

Check the Twitter conversation #YASaves for reaction from authors, readers, and librarians; we gotta wonder about the article author’s qualifications as a book reviewer… (search her name and tell us what you think)

Did she ask any independent bookstore folks about what books they would recommend to the worried mom in paragraph one? How about her child’s school librarian? Or their public librarian?

Maureen Johnson (whose 13 Little Blue Envelopes and The Last Little Blue Envelope are bestsellers and won’t get the full BooksYALove treatment – so just go read them!) has a new favorite picture, by Anastasiy Gorbunov, which illustrates exactly how books lead to new interests and visions and experiences. (The caption translates as “Reading isn’t dangerous. Not reading is.”)

Dr. Teri Lesesne, “the goddess of YA literature” and major expert in the field, was explosively ticked-off by the article, as her LiveJournal today shows. The points that she notes there are exactly why YA books are so important, and why I’m trying to get the word out about the great titles that you’ll miss if you don’t dig past the big display stacks at the big-box bookstores or the “you’ll like this one” lists at the big online retailers.

Too bad that the mom in the WSJ article didn’t have someone to help her find that great book for her 13 year-old daughter… like Smile and Dancing Through the Snow and Sequins, Secrets and Silver Linings… sigh…

At least the #YASaves hashtag is trending high right now (#3) so the conversation continues! C’mon over to Twitter and join in.