September 2008


I have some highly fantastic things to share today! First of all, in my non-blogging life, there is excitement in the air. For as I write this, I am sitting at the airport using the free wi-fi as I wait for my flight to Detroit where I will change planes and go to Boston! I’ve never been to Boston before, so this is extremely exciting for me.

And then, the blogging awesomeness! For there’s a good bit of that, too. First of all, the Cybils. A quick overview for those of you not familiar with them: the Cybils are book awards given out by bloggers to children’s, middle grade, and young adult books of all types. The nominations can come from anyone (you can nominate one book per category starting October 1). The nominated books are read by panelists, who then choose a shortlist, and then judges choose the best book off of the shortlist.

Last year, I was a Middle Grade Fiction panelist, and it was great. This year, I have the opportunity to be a panelist for Young Adult Fiction! I’m so excited about this. I love YA fiction, in case you hadn’t noticed. I’m so thrilled to be a part of this, and with such awesome people! The people being:

Organizer: Jackie Parker Interactive Reader

Panelists (Round I judges)

Leila Roy Bookshelves of Doom
Rebecca Laney Becky’s Book Reviews
Amanda Snow A Patchwork of Books
Trisha Murakami The Ya Ya Yas
Kate Fall Author2Author
Jocelyn Pearce Teen Book Review
Abby Johnson Abby (the) Librarian

Judges (Round II)

Jackie Parker Interactive Reader
Sarah Stevenson Finding Wonderland, Readers’ Rants
Allie/Little Willow Bildungsroman
Lili Wilkinson Inside a Dog
Casey Titschinger Avid Teen Reader

Awesome, right? Anyway, for more about the Cybils, check out the website. And start thinking about which fabulous books you want to nominate! Books published between January 1 and October 15 of 2008 are eligible.

Semi off-topic and speaking of YA fiction–I’ve been mentioning my book reviewing and my blog in some of my college and scholarship applications. I wonder what colleges think of it. It’s certainly different. At first, I was a bit nervous that they’d think I should be reading more classics, more literary fiction, or that they’d think YA is all fluff and Gossip Girl. But you know what? This is important to me, and if they think that one of the major parts of my life is fluff and Gossip Girl, I don’t want to go to their college, anyway. Although I do have to work on making my college essays less conversational and blog-like.

And now, for the final bit of total awesomeness (for now): Trisha of the YA YA YAs, one of my favorite blogs (and also a fellow Cybils YA panelist), has honored this blog with an awesome award of blog love. The rules:

1) Add the logo of the award to your blog

2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you

3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs

4) Add links to those blogs on your blog

5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs!

And now, the blogs….This is a seriously difficult choice. But I made a choice, and hopefully these are all new people who haven’t won the award before. Also…It doesn’t say anything about strictly book blogs, does it? I hope I didn’t miss something even though I think I’ve seen this only on book blogs, because I nominated awesome non-book blogs.

Miss Erin is a fantastic blogger who is good at pretty much everything bloggish. Including interviews, reviews, deep thoughts, all sorts of things!

Life, Words, and Rock’n’Roll is Stephanie Kuehnert’s blog. Stephanie wrote one of my favorite books, is a really cool person, and has a marvelous blog.

Kidliterate is a fairly new and totally awesome blog. I love the reviews.

Bildungsroman is amazing. Little Willow is amazing. She has a screen name from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is involved with Readergirlz, works in a bookstore (dream job!), reads more books than I’d have believed possible, writes reviews, interviews authors, builds websites, creates themed book lists….Does she sleep?

Girl Jordyn is the blog of one of my fellow Red writers and good friends. She has such talent with words!

Melissa Walker’s blog has interesting posts on books, fashion, writing, and lots of other great stuff. And cool giveaways! Also, Melissa is just a totally awesome person who writes wonderful books.

The Story Siren really has it all. Giveaways, link round-ups, books to pine for, reviews, author interviews…Add her to your blog reader immediately!

If you’re not on here, it’s not because I don’t love you, it’s because this post is already incredibly long. And also, I don’t have time for step number five, leaving a message for my nominees on their blogs, because my laptop battery is running out, but I’ll do that later. For now, I’m signing off.

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I am a very political person. Interested, aware, and active in politics. And today, I was surprised and thrilled to learn that two major spheres of my life–YA books and liberal politics–are brought together on YA for Obama, a fabulous site created by the fabulous Maureen Johnson. If you’re for Obama, go and join! Also check out this really awesome post at A Curiosity Shop comparing Barack Obama’s candidacy to a YA novel.

And if you are liberal, conservative, or undecided–read up on the candidates. Read up on the issues. Figure out where you stand and why you stand there. Register to vote (if you’re eligible). Make sure that eligible voters around you are registered and informed. Those who don’t vote (and are eligible) have no right to complain. Get engaged in intelligent debates to strengthen your opinions. Don’t let yourself be ignorant, and don’t just stand by and watch history happen around you. Put your money or your time where your mouth is, and, if at all possible, donate or volunteer.

This is your country, and there’s a major election coming up, one that is pivotal in determining our futures, in my view. Will the American empire of the last century come fully crashing down, or will it become better and stronger? This is a pivotal point in our nation’s history. In these last eight years, the economy has gone downhill and preemptive war has become acceptable foreign policy. What will happen in the next four years? The next eight years? The next twenty years? The coming century?

In these coming weeks and then most of all on election day, we all have the chance to impact our futures. Make your voices heard, no matter where on the political spectrum you fall.

BBAW Day Two is about blogger interviews. I’m not a part of the official interview swap, and I’m also a day late, but I thought I’d join in anyway, and Jordyn, of Page Numbered and Girl Jordyn, kindly agreed to be interviewed. Jordyn keeps two fantastic blogs (a book blog and a personal blog), wrote an awesome essay in Red, and is just a great writer, great friend, and all around fantastic person.This interview is the first interview I’ve done in real time (over IM instead of a list of questions in an email), and I’m pretty excited about it–Jordyn, with her awesome word skills, gave some amazing answers. Enjoy!

What attracts you to books and to writing?

I have this idea that we’re all trapped inside our own realities and rarely, if ever, get to truly see the lives of others, which is sad really because it’s a very limiting way to live. Through books and through writing we get to relate to other people and see more than just our own reality.

Very well said. Why did you decide to start blogging?

Originally I starting blogging because blogs were set up after the Red book was published, but after I began and realized I might have an audience, no matter how small, I wanted to keep going. Blogging is a way to work out my feelings and my life while at the same time letting other people step into my reality and see things from my perspective. If that makes any sense.

It definitely does. You have a real way with words, written for your own benefit or for an audience. How do you feel about putting your thoughts out there online? How does it affect your writing if you know that what you say is going to be freely available for anyone with an internet connection to read?

To be honest, having strangers read my words isn’t that scary – it’s my family and friends that worry me. I know my mom reads my blog, but after the essay I wrote about her being published and available at all kinds of bookstores, I figure it’s pretty silly to worry about offending or upsetting her. And as for everyone else, I just figure if they don’t want to read it they won’t and that nothing worth reading is completely inoffensive anyway.

When I know people are going to (or at least have the ability to) see my writing, I like to think it comes out better than what I write for myself. I’m very self-conscious when it comes to my writing (believe it or not) and if people were to read personal notes i write to myself (um, yes, I write notes to myself…) I would definitely be freaked out. But my blog is meant to be read so I have the mindset when I sit down to write that, though it’s very personal, it’s not private.

Writing is obviously a big part of your life. What are your dreams for your writing career?

I want to write young adult novels. I want to be a success at it – maybe not Stephanie Meyer success (though of course I’d love have the sort of fans and success she has), but to have a fan base, to be able to walk into a bookstore and see my books on the shelves, to make money at it. Those are my goals with it all.

Most great writers are also great readers, and you’re no exception! There are lots of great books out there, but perfect books are nearly impossible to find. What would make a book perfect for you?

I’ve always been a more character-driven reader (and writer) than plot-driven. The perfect book would have to have really strong and realistic characters. I’m also attracted to, not purple prose, but words that flow together in a pretty way. I love authors like Sarah Dessen who can say things so seamlessly and effortlessly and beautifully. I’m not sure of the specifics of my “perfect book” because I’m sure there wouldn’t be just one, but it would have those characteristics.

What do you think books, blogging, and writing bring to your life?

Um, sanity? Without being able to write (I gave up writing and reading for a few weeks awhile back), I go crazy keeping all my emotions inside; all the over-analyzing tendencies I have lend themselves well to writing. And as for reading, in addition to learning things, it broadens my reality and helps me realize how alike a lot of the thoughts and feelings people have are. It might sound crazy, but reading fiction (really good fiction with strong characters) helps me understand myself better.

That doesn’t sound crazy at all. And now, I’d like to ask about a few of your favorites. First on the list: favorite books/authors that you’d reccomend to anyone. All of us book lovers have a few of those!

My absolute favorite novel ever is Gone With the Wind (fell in love with it in eighth grade), but it is a mammoth of a book I wouldn’t ever ask another being to read. That being said, I WOULD recommend the following authors: John Green who is hilarious and deep all at once, and Sarah Dessen who writes so pretty I can’t even describe it. I also love E. Lockhart and Sharon Creech, who writes middle grade. But that’s enough name dropping. Books you should read include: Freakonomics, Blink, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Flipped, and the Uglies Trilogy. Apologies for not knowing the authors of all those books.

A great list! I’ll have to check out the ones I haven’t read. Next up: Favorite way to beat writer’s block.

Here’s the thing….THERE IS NO WAY. It’s an evil menace out to get my soul. All I can do is whine about it and fall into a deep-but-brief funk over it, or get up the courage to go through my novel and figure out what part is ruining the whole thing so I can fix it.

I guess there isn’t a magic trick or quick fix to writer’s block, no matter how much we wish for one, is there? And, now, what’s your favorite part of the writing process?

I just love the feeling of knowing what I’ve written isn’t bad. I like being able to read my own writing, either finished or in progress, and not cringe. That’s usually a sign I’m doing something right. And for the record, that RARELY happens.

And now, we’re done. I wish you all many awesome moments where you love your own writing (they’re few and far between for me, too!).

Today is the beginning of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, over at the fantastic site My Friend Amy. Today’s assignment to start the celebration of the awesomeness of book bloggers is to post about great bloggers who didn’t end up being nominees for any of the BBAW awards. I read a ton of book blogs, and this is by no means a comprehensive list of the ones I think are awesome (check the sidebar for more), but it’s a nice starting point, and, without further ado…

Reviewer X! She always has something great going on–reviews, discussion, contests, interviews…It’s all pretty awesome. And I’m not just saying that because she was kind enough to mention me in her BBAW post :-)

The YA YA YAs are pretty much the most awesome librarians ever, and there are some pretty cool librarians out there.

Jordyn at Page Numbered has some great thoughts on books. She’s also a great writer in general, a great friend, and just an all-around awesome person.

Miss Erin is a wonderful blogger who’s been doing this for quite some time, and commitment is definitely admirable. I love her reviews.

Little Willow at Bildungsroman is pretty much who I’d love to be when I grow up :-) She works at a bookstore, which is in my opinion the most awesome job ever, and keeps one of the most awesome YA lit blogs around! She has reviews and interviews and booklists, and she also gets to design cool author websites. And on top of that, her username is from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, my favorite TV show ever in the history of TV.

Kidliterate is a relatively new blog, and it’s already super awesome. The reviews are great, and also many of them are about books I haven’t heard much about yet.

nineseveneight has awesome reviews, but what I love more than anything is the rating system!

And that is a sampling of awesome blogs for the moment, though I may highlight some more later. All of these are well worth being added to your blog reader of choice, and while you’re waiting for new content, explore the archives if you don’t already read them.

When she is kidnapped from a school field trip at age ten and renamed “Alice,” she starts her transformation into a living dead girl, instead of the real, alive girl she used to be, living at 623 Daisy Lane with her family. Now fifteen, Alice has been abused by Ray for five years and it has understandably taken its toll. It has been drummed into her head that escape is impossible; if she runs away, Ray, her kidnapper, will kill her and her family. All Alice can hope for is death.

And then comes a different kind of request. Alice is getting too old for Ray, and he wants a new girl to be what she is. He wants Alice to find her for him. And then, she hopes, she’ll be free. But can she do it? And what will this new exposure to the world outside of Ray do to what is left of her humanity?

Living Dead Girl is very different from Elizabeth Scott‘s previous books, but she has done a wonderful job with this disturbing story. It’s dark and intense, chilling to think that while Alice’s story is fiction, terrible things like this do happen in the real world. It’s a short book, but one that strongly affects the reader. It’s not something that’s a joy to read. It’s not supposed to be, though. It’s thought provoking, and, well, as I said before, disturbing. Elizabeth Scott is an amazing writer, and she makes this story into exactly what it is supposed to be.