While the awards are a fun part of BBAW, they can never accurately represent the depth and breadth of diversity in the book blogging community. Today you are encouraged to highlight a couple of bloggers that have made book blogging a unique experience for you. They can be your mentors, a blogger that encouraged you to try a different kind of book, opened your eyes to a new issue, made you laugh when you needed it, or left the first comment you ever got on your blog. Stay positive and give back to the people who make the community work for you!
While cruisin' 'round the internet, looking for It's Monday, What Are You Reading posts, I kept coming across these BBAW posts. Now I saw some of these bloggers last year using BBAW on quite a few of their posts, and I think I even responded to some of the posts regarding voting for blogs. Always happy to vote for blogs I enjoy, after all. But I really didn't even know what BBAW stood for, or even who 'THEY' were. It's all so mysterious to me. So this year, I actually CLICKED on a link - that's right. I actually hovered my mouse and clicked away to find out something on my own. LOL. I rarely do this, preferring to idly just ask questions. I thought I would make one of my own posts - especially with today's topic. So here goes...
Back when I first started exploring on the internet, I had just bought a computer - a laptop that was on clearance - (meaning it was already "old" for a computer). I paid around $200 for it. But for me it was the bargain of the century. Now remember, I had NO computer experience, no knowledge of even computer slange, terms, practices...NOTHING. I knew nothing. But I was interested in reading, so I concentrated on websites that featured writers or books that I enjoyed. Remember that I knew NOTHING. I had no idea what archives were, what history meant in relation to computers, what a blog was, was confused by many terms...especially the yahoo groups, or threads, etc. So I'm happily stumbling along making all kinds of mistakes and not even knowing I'm making them etc. I even went as far as trying to start an LJ page. I started the LiveJournal page because I wanted to post a comment on a LKH_lashouts site and you had to be a member and to be a member you needed an LJ presence. A short time later I started this blog - I can't remember why - probably to be able to post comments on other people's blogs. Remember I knew nothing - not even enough to ask questions, or even to know that I might have questions.
One of my first posts was on my live journal - and it happened to be a bit of a rant about banned books. I hate the thought of banning books. I personally think that there should be no banning of any books (except for pro-nazi type shit, but then that's still freedom of speech, even though those people are ignorant asshats) I was very surprised a short while later to actually have a comment on my post. Someone had actually READ IT, not only READ IT, but took the time to leave a comment. I was very surprised because I have this shyness syndrome, I think if I had ever been taken to the doctor when I was a kid, in these times I might have been diagnosed with Social Anxiety Syndrome, I used to get so nervous with strangers or even people I didn't know very well, that my hearing would shut down, I couldn't look anyone even in the FACE, there would be a roaring in my ears, my tongue would seem to swell up in my mouth and I couldn't for the life of me say a thing. Even in a restaurant, the thought of getting up and walking to the bathroom would devastate me. I just knew that someone would watch me and then I would fall. Of course, whenever I did have to walk across any room in public or even a party my feet didn't seem to work right and I would stumble. Get the idea? Very shy, so shy I couldn't function. Time has helped, as well as having children. I still have some issues that pop up here and there, though.
Anway - the thought of someone commenting on my post gave me a mixture of pride, surprise and absolutely freezing TERROR. That person who both made me feel validated and yet scared the shit out of me was phoenixfirewolf. Now this was way back...must have been in 2007 or before. I know it was quite a while ago, but strangely I can't find my original post. I know LJ has been having some problems with hacking and I think some posts might have been lost. But I remember when phoenix answered me, and I remember I posted infrequently, yet everytime I did post, she would leave a comment. Made me feel very welcome and it was so good to have a friendly voice. Around this time I was also having a bit of hard time on an author's yahoo group. The people there were extremely judgemental and would react so strongly and rudely to those who made comments or points that they didn't agree with. They were so unpleasant - I once made the mistake of making a joke to the author about something and though I thought is was a simple joke (nothing rude or crude or even insulting-nothing to be upset about) these people came unglued and were so rude that I almost stopped making any comments anywhere. I think the only reason I continued was because phoenix was so great as an online friend. Really, if it weren't for the fact that I felt like I could write anything to her without being attacked - unlike this other group - I really would have just gave up on the whole online experience. Anyway, when I first started commenting back and forth with Phoenix, I saw a few of her posts that mentioned writerly things, and was able to read some of her writerly things. I was impressed - here was this young lady, friendly with this talent for words who continued to talk to me. I was impressed with her writing, and as the months passed I was also impressed with her continued presence - not just the presence, but she was supportive and never made me feel like an idiot when I asked about some of the seemingly simplest internet things - things the other group were so rude about me not knowing (one of the things was the knowledge that there were archives to search for - apparently I should have known that this joke I made had been talked about before, and should have known to search for this info, and then never bring it up - weird. Even though at first I was mortified, I now think these people might have had a screw loose, and I think the author herself should have put a stop to the behaviour of her guests on her forum. Turns out, that the thing I had joked about came out in the open as being true now, and it wasn't even a horrible thing, or anything to be embarrassed about. A pseudonym. To this day, though I might read one of her books -she is a good writer, I won't even mention her novels or name online. the whole experience left a bitter taste for me) I don't like even including this group in the same anecdote as Phoenix - but it underscores the behaviour of one, with the better behaviour of the other. If it weren't for "meeting" people like Phoenix online, I would never have had the courage to continue to even THINK about making comments on blogs. I never would have started this blog, and I never would have even approached one of the other people who have made my blogging experience fun. And I'm happy that Phoenix is now enjoying some success as a writer. Early on I thought she was a great writer, and if I thought she was good then, she can only get better and better with experience. Even in 2007, the snippets that I was able to read from her read much better than many of the published novels that I've read over the years. So watching her work and grow as a writer is made even sweeter knowing that she's such a great person who helped one very shy, insecure middle aged (haha, I was around 46/47 then, so young compared to now) woman feel better on the internet. You can read some of her online fiction here, and keep an eye out for her e-books. Arabian Dreams - fantasy - will be her second full length novel to be published. Don't have a publishing date yet, but keep and eye out for J.A. Campbell, a truly wonderful human being with a great writing ability. Besides writing, she is branching out, with a group of other writers she has started a website titled Fabulously Young ePubs - a website that contains fun things for e-book lovers and fiction. I'm so happy for her and she truly deserves success at this, she's been working very hard at writing along with keeping a horse, raising a puppy and being the slave to a few cats.
This brings me to the second person that has made my experience on the internet better than it could have been. After my experience with the never-to-be-named-by-me-personnally author, combined with my still frequent bouts of insecurity and extreme shyness (sometimes I really have doubts about even posting my reviews, or even putting my own thoughts out there for others to read and possibly ATTACK!, lol - but I try to laugh and do it anyway) I think twice about approaching other writers, especially already established writers. But a few years ago, I was intermittently reading Karen Mahoney's blog (another sweet person and good writer) and saw a comment by a UK commenter. I forget why I originally followed her link - an impulse, possibly her comment impressed with her wit. But I clicked on her name link and came across her blog - where I read some of her entries, and then noticed that she had a book out and was releasing her second book, or had just released. I noticed that this was an author who put excerpts up of her work (LOVE when an author does this - nothing better than to be able to get a taste of their work before you buy) and read the excerpt to her first novel (The Sweet Scent of Blood). and thought....WOW. This is great, I have to get it. So I looked all over for a copy...no copies over here. After a while, I took a chance and wrote her an e-mail asking about her books, were they in stores yet, etc. She actually wrote me back. Now this may seem an obvious thing to do, but really - not every author that you write to writes back. Now I understand that many are very busy, or maybe they're shy like me, etc. But not only did she take the time to READ my mail, she took the time to respond. Turned out her books were not available yet in the U.S., but down the line they would be. I couldn't wait. I tried to have patience, but after reading the excerpt to the second book, I just couldn't wait and ordered them online from The Book Depository. A move that I never regretted. Over the years, I took a couple more chances, writing to her and she always wrote back. One day, or night, I was feeling especially garrulous and wrote what I call an EPIC e-mail. Kind of like this blog post, it's become rather epic. She not only took the time to read this, but responded. Not only did she write back, but she took the time to start commenting on my blogs, not just e-mails. So this particular writer, restored my faith in established writers. She's one of those already published authors that takes the time to respond, makes you feel like welcome to write to her, answers questions and is a wonderful human as well as being an amazing writer. She is now working on her fourth novel, getting it very close to publication and the fifth in the Spellcrackers.com series. She is a British writer, so her books don't come out here on the same schedule - for instance her third book (The Bitter Seed of Magic) has already come out in the UK, while her second novel (The Cold Kiss of Death) came out in April here in the States. But thanks to The Book Depository, I don't have to wait until they are released here, I can order them as soon as they are published in the UK - another great thing about the internet. Suzanne McLeod - writer of fantastic urban fantasy and all around good person. Glad to have met you online.
There are a few others who have helped to make my online blogging experience a good one, of course. Not only have they restored and maintained my faith in online people, authors and bloggers - these are the two that really stand out, the two that I feel comfortable writing epic e-mails to, leaving silly comments or just knowing that even if I don't write to them regularly, I know they're going to be there - supporting me when I'm feeling blue or insecure, and enjoying my happiness when I'm feeling good about things. When I was a young girl growing up, so afraid to even look at another person's face when first meeting someone, too nervous to walk across a restaurant in front of the other customers, still nervous to comment at times I never thought that there would be a time that I would be a penpal of sorts to people across the world from me. But Suzanne McLeod and Julie Campbell are two women that I feel confident enough to send books to, to let some of my weirdness shine through and know that they're just going to laugh along with me and they're also the type to understand why I might feel more comfortable with my dog and another person. LOL. They've introduced me to new-t0-me writers, sent me books and friendship. These are the two women who have enhanced my internet blogging experience and I hope we never lose touch. There's not many people I feel like this about - LOL. It's also rare that I gush on about people, so enjoy this while you can.