Monday, June 4, 2012

Armchair BEA: Introductions First!

Today kicks off the first day of Armchair BEA, an online virtual convention event that was organized in ... um ... 2010 (I think) as a consolation prize of sorts for those of us who were unable to be at the real life BEA.  (That's Book Expo America, currently underway this week in New York City.) Armchair BEA has come into its own, however, and is now an event that complements BEA quite nicely.

Like any conference, it's all about the networking and building community, so the Armchair BEA team asked us to start things off on this first day by selecting 5 interview questions to answer about ourselves and our blog.

Forgive me for being a tad chatty. I like talking about books. (Obviously, or else we wouldn't all be here, right?)

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?
I'm Melissa and I've been blogging here at The Betty and Boo Chronicles for almost 4 years ... since August 14, 2008. In those days, I had a very long, dreadful commute to and from work and I was feeling the passing of time.  (And literally seeing it rush by as I sat in traffic, which felt like a metaphor for my life.) I wanted a way to capture the everyday moments with my kids (they're the "Betty" and "Boo" in the blog title) and also to get back into writing, which was something I missed.

I started by writing personal essay type posts - about just whatever was on my mind that day. Some idiot I saw in traffic, a memory conjured up from a song I heard on the radio, the latest craziness from Sarah Palin. (The 2008 presidential campaign was in full swing, providing ample blogging fodder.) I discovered the world of book blogging in Fall 2008, when I was delighted to find a passionate community of readers like me who liked reviewing books and sharing their opinions.  I can't remember the first book blog I read. I'd like to think maybe it was Dewey's. I thought, what the hell, I could do that on my blog too .... and so, for almost 4 years and 1,377 posts, I have.

2. Where do you see your blog in five years?
That's an interesting (and timely) question because it kind of ties into some changes I've been recently contemplating - namely, in regards to my blog name itself.  A blog name change is very likely, possibly in the near future.(You heard it here first!) I still plan to write about my kids, but I'm finding that as they get older, their stories are becoming theirs. At the same time, though, the issues (especially Boo's autism and our journey as a family with this) are ones that I want and need to continue writing about. I have a new name in mind, but the thought of changing and the logistics in doing so ... well, let's just say that if YOU'VE been through this, I would love some advice and your suggestions.

(That's what's cool about this community. There's always someone who has paved the way before you who is willing to offer advice to you.)

I'm also in the process of writing a novel, and in five years, I'd like for that novel to be DONE. More than done, actually. Published in some form would be nice. I'd like to be onto a second book. So, in that regard, I'd like for the content here to take the form of some more writerly posts. Excerpts and the like.  Photos from my worldwide book tour.  (A girl can dream, right?)

3. What literary location would you most like to visit? Why?
This might come as a surprise to some people but London would top the list. I say a surprise because I'm not much of a classics girl (I like the idea of them) ... but I think I would become one either shortly before or after such a trip.

And South Carolina would be a close second. Every time I finish a Pat Conroy novel or anything in the Southern literature genre, I want to find the nearest wraparound porch and pour myself a glass of sweet tea.

4. What is your favorite part about the book blogging community? Is there anything that you would like to see change in the coming years?
I could write an entire post on this question alone - because in a way, my favorite part about the book blogging community and what I want to see changed are the same exact thing.

Allow me to explain.

Nearly four years into this blogging thing, it still thrills me to no end when an author comments on a book review I've written or friends me on Facebook.  My day can easily be made if Beth Kephart likes a photo I've posted or if Rachel Simon comments on a Facebook post of mine. It's yesterday once more and I have time traveled back to my overjoyed 6 year old self because my favorite author, Carolyn Haywood, has written me a personal letter.

That, to me, has been the best part about the book blogging community - how it has brought authors and readers together in a way that is unprecedented. But like many good things, we've seen a dark side with all too many instances of Authors Gone Wild when faced with a negative review.  I'd like to see that sort of behavior change and all of us try to get along.

I'd also like to see self-publishing gain more respect. As someone who will likely be self-publishing her first novel in some way, shape or form, it distresses me to see how hard authors like my friend Melissa Luznicky Garrett work. I'd like to see that change.

5. Have your reading tastes changed since you started blogging? How?
I'm definitely reading more Young Adult books, absolutely.  Before book blogging, I would have never picked up the likes of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness or Okay for Now, by Gary D. Schmidt, two YA books that I recently enjoyed tremendously.  At the library on Saturday, I checked out Jay Asher's The Future of Us, which I was delighted to see back on the shelf. (I had to return it unread, because another patron had it on hold.)  The circulation clerk looked at me and then looked at Betty, who is 10.

"Which one of you is reading this?" she said, holding up the book.

A fair and legitimate question, I thought.  "Me," I proudly answered.  "I'm one of those adults who reads Young Adult books."

She smiled. "Me too."

Another point for book blogging.

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Karin Perry said...

So glad you've joined the Armchair BEA fun! WOW! Writing a book. Good luck!

Julie@My5monkeys said...

I would also love to visit London and totally understand the need to change the blog name. Congrats on the novel.

Ryan said...

I think a lot of us need to take your desire of giving more respect to self publishers a little more respect. We have all read books that are badly edited so I think we tend to lump them all in together, which isn't fair.

Hope you have a great week

Jeanne said...

I love the way you put this--as your kids get older, "their stories are becoming theirs." I feel that, too. Change is good.

I switched from Blogger to Wordpress a couple of years ago and didn't have a lot of trouble. The name stayed the same, though, so I can't speak to that. The person who helped me the most with the switch was Anna, at Diary of an Eccentric.

RhiannonPaille said...

Hey Melissa!

First to comment today! I hope more people come along!

4 years is a long time and I commend you for sticking with it. :)

And I agree with you on the self published aspect, it's got a weird rep in the blogger community, some turn it down, others embrace it, it's very awkward. I think it's more about getting burned on books than anything else. Book bloggers have become the new slush pile or something like that.

Anyway, good to meet you and hope to read you soon!

Sue Jackson said...

I enjoyed reading your BEA introduction, even though I knew much of it already. I didn't realize you were working on a novel, though, so good luck with that! I would love to travel to BEA in person one of these days.

The BEA Armchair thing sounds like fun, but I have no extra time this week - one graduation down and one to go, with a very brief respite today in between out-of-town guests!

Enjoy the festivities this week and your books -


Great Books for Kids and Teens

Book By Book

Suey said...

Yay for Dewey! I was around then too, and read her blog all the time. :)

Good luck with the book. I do hope you finish it as planned!

I totally agree with you on the author/reader connection like never before. It's so very awesome.

Happy ABEA!

Kailana said...

Oh, a novel is cool! I hope it is successful. :)

Lisa said...

Oh, my goodness, yes - I'd love to visit the South Carolina of Pat Conroy. Although I think my political self might be a bit out of place there!

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, I'm now a new follower of yours :)

I'm from London but for our honeymoon we went on a tour of the Southern states of America. One place we didn't get to go was South Carolina, which was a big shame as like you I would like to go.

Good luck writing your novel!

LBC said...

Good luck with your novel goal. I made a lot of progress on my novel last summer by committing to writing two pages a day and not to spend too much time revising while writing. It was really effective, but the second I went back to work in the fall I put it down and haven't touched it since.

Lisa said...

I love that library story. I wish I could get behind self published books, and this is SO shallow, but the covers turn me off.

My Armchair BEA intro post is here!

Chrystal said...

I started two different novels and bailed on them both, but would love to get back to one of them soon.

Good luck with your writing and it's great to have that "in 5 years" i'd like to have it finally written. :)