Saturday, June 28, 2008

Tale of 3 Blogs (and 4 Bloggers)

I'm a relative newbie to the Kid-Litosphere here at The Imaginary Blog. So I wanted to learn a bit more about other kid-lit bloggers, their quirks, their voices, their blog-o-reasons-for-being. Please join me as we venture deep into some of the best cyber-minds of the Kid-Litosphere. What can we glean from the hearts and creative personalities of the real people behind these blogs?

I'm imagining this experiment as a sort of literary, slightly random, Word-Association-Rorschach-Blotty-Blog-Interview, so come along now and please welcome our 3 blogs and 4 victims, I mean participants:

1. Cynthia Leitich Smith, Grandmommy of all KidLit Bloggers at Cynsations. Cynthia is a children's and YA author, faculty member at Vermont College's MFA program in Writing for Children & Young Adults, and a Web Goddess Guru. She's been blogging since July 2004.

2. Elizabeth Bird, Children's Librarian at NYPL and Blogger
Extraordinaire at Fuse #8 Productions. Elizabeth has been blogging since February 2006 on her old site and since June of 2007 on her new one.

3. (and 4). Eisha & Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, Librarians & Amazing Blogger Team.

Jules describes their blog as follows: "We set out to blog about books for any age, but thus far, 7-Imp’s been 99% children’s lit. And then about 70% or maybe 71.67834% picture books, ‘cause I loves me some good illustration. Eisha might summarize the blog differently. Who knows. We've been blogging since August 2006."

Lynn here again. I noticed a trend with numbered lists at Fuse # 8, & Seven Impossible Things, so I asked our four bloggers to please indulge me in the following:

Please think (but don't think too much) about the voice, intent, and surprises of your blogging experience and without showing your responses to any other guests please sum up your blog with a nifty list pyramid. In 8 separate lines with one less word in each successive line, please tell us...

8 Words: About Why You Blog
7 Words: About What You Blog About
6 Words: About What Makes Your Voice Unique
5 Adjectives: Used By You or Others to Describe Your Blog
4 Adverbs: About How You Write/Blog
3 Words: Culled From Your Comments
2 Words: Any Words
1 Noun

Imaginary readers, do you want to know the fun thing about these Kid-Lit Bloggers? They all joined in. No questions asked like, "Huh?" or "What?" or "Are you crazy?" And they made up some fun words, and long hyphenated words. I'm rather fond of made-up, imaginary, and long hyphenated words, aren't you?

Their responses are as unique and interesting as they are! Please take a look.

From Cynthia Leitich Smith at Cynsations:

From Elizabeth Bird at Fuse # 8 Productions:

Elizabeth adds:
"Fascinating stuff. I can certainly say that I haven't done an interview that required this much pure unfiltered thought on my part in a long time. I'm afraid that this won't look like much of a pyramid since my adverbs throw it all off (I learned Adverbs from the Mad-Libs school of writing). This was fun."

(a note from Lynn: I played with the spacing, size and formatting to get their lists a little more pyramidy and to fit into the confines of Blogger, especially the mad-libby-adverby-hyphenated-made-up-words :-)

From Eisha at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast:

From Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast:

And now for a few more thoughts that didn't fit into the confines of the pyramids:

Jules explains her pyramid & predictions:
"My first line is what it is because, if I’m really honest with myself, my true reason for blogging is ‘cause I have strong opinions about children’s lit and don’t want children to read what I consider craptastic literature. Is that arrogant or what? I can tell myself it’s to keep up with children’s lit while I’m temporarily away from children’s librarianship, etc. and all that---and that’s partly true---but, honestly, it’s because when I read what I think is a fabulous book, I can’t keep my big, fat mouth shut about it. Barbaric yawp. Rooftops of the world. And all that.

The last line is an inside joke between me and Eisha, so I should explain: This really fabulous, hysterical blogger emailed us when he was starting out and asked us for tips as to how to increase traffic (which is funny, because I don’t even know how to follow our reader stats, nor do I really care to know. Shoot, as long as one person is reading, I’ll run my mouth). He said he was asking us, because we’re “juggernauts.” About a week later, that finally registered with me and Eisha, and we stopped and laughed about that. Not at the blogger for saying that. He’s a sweetie-pie punkinhead. But at the notion that we’re juggernauts, which we certainly don’t think we are. But we’ve been having fun creating new words, such as “juggertabulous” and “juggerninja” and “juggernads.”

I have no future predictions for kidlitosphere blogging. I like to sit back and watch trends, but ultimately I just wanna talk books and their creators. I’m happy I can be a part of it. I particularly love that Blogistan has no rules."

Cynthia says:
"For time-sensitive information—-like award or event announcements—-a blog post works better than the main site. I can only highlight, but I’m on my own schedule (hello, back list and paper releases). The credit goes to those book professionals who’ve been so generous with their thoughts. I’ve been wowed by the tremendously enthusiastic response of the youth literature community. Sharing news and interviews from the publishing world feeds my inner journalist. I offer a positive haven, a place of information and inspiration. I don’t have the budget to have interviews professionally formatted. Cynsations is a teacher, and I’m its devoted student...I suspect the next wave will be live, streaming blogging, but I much prefer the current incarnation."

Lynn: Wow, that was fun, wasn't it? We've seen the blog-essence of Cynthia's, Elizabeth's, and Eisha & Jules' blogs. Now does anyone care to analyze any trends or coincidental overlaps in wording (or lack thereof) in our four bloggers' pyramids?

Oops! That was so interesting, I forgot to ask my last question and post my forecast...

Forecast: Increased likelihood of a few more juggernautastic words from our bloggers...

Lynn: Since this is an Imaginary Blog, I'm curious to hear what you imagined the blogging experience would be like when you first started, and how that compares to your current reality--what's different, better, worse than you imagined? Anything you'd have done differently if you had known what you now know?

Eisha responds:
How I thought it would be: just me and Jules, talking about books we'd read, and maybe one or two friends chiming in occasionally in the comments. Maybe once in a while a friend would say something like "Hey, I read that book you were raving about - it was awesome!"

I really had no idea what the kidlitosphere was, or that there were so many other people talking about books out there in cyberspace. I never imagined that I'd actually make new friends through the blog, some of whom I've never met in person but still feel like "friend" is the right word. I never imagined that we'd ever get up the gumption to interview published authors and illustrators. I never imagined that authors and illustrators and publishers would be contacting us to see if we were interested in their books. I never imagined that I'd go to a book-related event and someone would say to me "Oh! You're Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast!" like it was my name. Those things have been surreal, but in a good way.

One thing that's maybe a little harder than I expected: the actual writing. Since it turns out some people actually do read our blog, I often get... I dunno, blog-fright, I guess... when I'm trying to write. It's intimidating, especially when there are so many talented, insightful, hilarious bloggers out there (like our lovely co-interviewees, for example). Also, as anyone who knew me in school will tell you, I occasionally have just a teensy little problem with deadlines: specifically, with starting a writing project before it's due. I never imagined I'd be pulling all-nighters for a blog, just to get stuff up for blog tours and other deadline-ish things we sometimes participate in.
Thanks again for the interview - it's been fun!

Cynthia says: I jumped on so early that I wasn't sure what to expect. It came as a pleasant surprise to me how easy it was for people to subscribe and read the blog each morning. Many Cynsations readers--especially librarians--have told me that it's the newspaper with their morning coffee. The only downside is that my schedule (and lack of organizational skills) means that I'm not as participatory in group efforts as I'd like to be. I'm a huge fan of several of the community blogs and poetry/non-fiction days, but it's all I can do to juggle the features within my own focus niche.

Jules adds:
My answer is easy: I never expected to be the recipient of review copies when we first started blogging, and---in fact---Eisha and I turned them down at first. After deciding to accept them, for different reasons, and coming up with a review copy policy, blogging changed dramatically. In good ways, interesting ways, challenging ways. Ultimately, I'm grateful for them, though, as our focus has always been to keep up with what's new out there and share our thoughts on those titles.

Would I have done anything differently if I had known what I know now? I don't think I even think about that. I've said before: I love that Blogistan has no rules. We're flyin' by the seat of our pants, taking it day-by-day. It's fun. Woot!


Jules at 7-Imp said...

This is some good juggertainment right here, Lynn. Those were fun to read! Fuse summarized her blog well, I think, and I'm enjoying her venturing into v-blogging. And I like how Cynthia describes her blog as a teacher. Word to that. I think I know what she means.

Thanks for having us!
Jules, 7-Imp

Andromeda Jazmon said...

This was fun! I think you should call it a meme and make everyone do it. They really are juggernauts.

Lynn E. Hazen said...

Okay, I'll call it a meme. Now, please tell me what a meme is, as it's not in my almost-as-old-as-me dictionary.

And how does one "make everyone do it?"

Feel free to give it a pyramidy whirl or pass it on. I'd be curious to hear about other kidlitosphere folks' blog-o-reasons-for-being.

And if you can save your nifty pyramid into a jpg image that will fit into my blogspot column, let me know. I'll be happy to post a few more.

Thanks for taking a look.