Thursday, September 18, 2008

BBAW Guests: Ann Dayton and May Vanderbilt

(A shout out to those who blog about Christian fiction...)

The Virtual Body

When we started blogging, a little over two years ago, we didn't have any grand plan. We talked about the idea of blogging, and we both thought that at first we'd just hop on now and then when we thought of it. We weren't sure if it would be worth the time investment. We weren't sure anyone would care. But it seemed like good discipline to have to come up with topics and write about them regularly, and we thought it might be a good way to share a little bit more about ourselves than would fit in an author bio. We took the plunge. We started small, and our little blog sort of stumbled into this world instead of proclaiming its presence loud and proud. Two years later, our blog has not only changed how we connect with our readers, it's completely changed our lives.


When we started blogging, I was hoping people would read our posts, but I kind of suspected only my dad and a few close friends would follow it. What I didn't expect was to find friends. Real, genuine people I care about. I guess I always thought the nature of the virtual world set up a kind of distance between bloggers and readers, but it's actually been the exact opposite experience for us.

I've found myself powerfully drawn into the lives of people I never would have met otherwise. I've been surprised how easy it is to get drawn into someone's life, to care about them and their family and their world, and to make a real connection. I never really understood how powerful it can be to share your life with someone, but that's something we do—all bloggers do—every day. I've found friends all over the country, and all over the world, who are a part of my life now, whether or not I ever meet them in person.

I think my favorite unexpected thing about blogging is when readers write to us and suggest a blog topic. Maybe they've been wondering about how other people feel about yoga, or they found some crazy apocalyptic video, or some hilarious Christian art (for some reason the apocalypse and bad religious art seem to come up on our blog a lot, now that I think about it…) that they know will make us laugh. It constantly amazes me how people who we've never met know what amuses us and what we like to talk about, and it makes me realize I am a part of something much bigger than I ever imagined. It feels good.


Sometimes it's hard being a Christian who lives in San Francisco proper, loves America's Next Top Model, and lives a very human, utterly flawed life. What I hadn't anticipated about blogging, and what has been the biggest gift it has given back to me, is the feeling that I'm not alone, that there are other Christians like me. Too often on TV and in books, Christians are 100% holy and perfect--and I don't always feel that way in my personal journey. But with blogging, I've discovered that so many people struggle. It never fails, every time I blog about something like how I hate passing the offering plate without putting something in, even though I know that I give electronically, our readers will chime in and say, "Me too, May!"

In the early years of the church, a huge emphasis was put on building a body of believers and living as a community. In today's modern world, it's harder than ever to accomplish this. I work in a little cube all day, I go to the same church each Sunday, and frequent the same cafes. Blogging has given me the opportunity to vastly expand my community and connect across thousands of miles, many different age groups, and extremely different backgrounds.

As much as we put into the blog, I have come to believe that we get so much more out of it in return. It's really fun to share our struggles, triumphs, and woes with a vast body of people. Plus, we have many readers who are not Christians, and to me, that's very exciting. It's important to be welcoming to all people and to learn how they see the world and what issues concern them.

Anne Dayton graduated from Princeton and has her MA in Literature from New York University. She lives in New York City. May Vanderbilt graduated from Baylor University and has an MA in Fiction from Johns Hopkins. She lives in San Francisco. Together, they are the authors of Emily Ever After, Consider Lily, and The Book of Jane. Read more about them at their blog

They also wrote The Miracle Girls, which I loved a lot. You can read my review here.
Hachette Book Group is giving away two copies. I think you know the drill by now with Hachette giveaways, open through Friday, United States or Canadian mailing address. Leave a comment and tell me about a unique friendship you have in real life or through blogging.


Anonymous said...

I have this friend that no matter how much time goes by or how long it's been since we last spoke, it seems like we can just pick up right where we left off. It's nice to have friends like that!

Anonymous said...

I've been lucky to make two very special friends when I was in graduate school. We all live far away now, but we still keep in touch and whenever we do get the chance to talk or meet, it's like no time has passed.

As for blogging friends, I feel a little attached to Fuzzy Cricket. Until I read this post, I felt a little strange about that. But, I love to read her blog about what she's up to with her family and what books she's reading. I'm glad I'm not the only one out there who has found "friends" out there.

Anonymous said...

One of my very best friends I met through the internet (this was before blogging) in a message board group. We were moving to the same town she lived (1300 miles away) and she didnt know me from Adam but jumped in and offered to help us find a place to rent. We finally met IRL after we moved and we've been best buds since! Who knew?


Unknown said...

My unique friendship with with my best friend. We may not see each other as much as we used to, nor do we even talk every day. But we each have a knack of knowing when the other is down or depressed and we take immediate action. Our friend bond goes very deep!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you really enjoyed the book in your review.

A unique friendship I have is with my mom's best friend's daughter. She's only 7 months older than me and we've known each other literally all our lives. The thing is, because we were so close when we grew up, I ended up resenting her for a few years when I was a kid. But today, she's the person I tell everything to. She's like my best friend, and a sister as well.

Carmen T

Rebekah (monkeygirlsmama) said...

Great blog! I have been there before, but I forgot the name and forgot to bookmark it. Today I rectified this situation by bookmarking you as soon as I saw this post. YAY!! :D

As for friendships... I don't know as any of my friendships are really all that unique, but they're rich, fulfilling, and priceless. Some of my best friends in life are women I've met online. One of my friends and I met through a mommy match up site (a site that you can use to find other mommies in your area so that you can have playdates, etc) when our kids were just 6-8mos old. Today our kiddos are 5+, and we're closer than ever. I can't imagine what life would be like without her or my other friends I've met online.

littleminx at cox dot net

Anonymous said...

I guess I'll agree with RebekahC, I'm not sure my friendships are very unique. I am fortunate, though, to be able to be close friends with my mom and my sister. I know that doesn't happen all the time.

hannah DOT free AT gmail DOT com

Anonymous said...

A have a college friend that I only see every few years. And each time we are together, we both feel like no time has passed and we mesh back together just like we did in college.


Alyce said...

I have a great set of friends (five ladies) who are all moms that I met when my son was in kindergarten, two years ago. We got to know each other by volunteering on field trips, and in the classroom. I think it had something to do with my son having a very special kindergarten teacher who made it a joy to volunteer, so that all of the adults were having just as much fun as the kids. After that we met at each kid's birthday party. This year the district opened up a new school, and half of the kids went to the new school. I hope all of us moms are able to keep the friendships just as close, now that our kids are at different schools.

Nise' said...

Both my mother and my daughter are my best friends. My other best friend and I grew up in the same neighborhood, she is a few years younger than me and my brother was her first boyfriend in middle school. We both collect teddy bears and the gal at the post office would mention to each of us you should call this other lady who collects the same bears. She called and we found out our connection and have been friends ever since.

Lindsey said...

I have a friend I've known since I was 16, we stay in touch through blogging/facebook/email. We lost touch for about five years and now are back in touch, thanks to the net! She's my only friend who reeeally understands my bookishness. :-)

ladyufshalott at

Anna said...

Serena from Savvy Verse & Wit and I have been real life friends for 13 years! We met as college roommates, and now we're co-workers who actually share an office! Amazingly, we don't get too sick of one another!

--Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)

Laurie Wood said...

I met a wonderful critique partner online through a writing chapter called "Kiss of Death" for mystery/suspense/romantic suspense writers. Her name is Toni, and we critiqued each other for three years, and through two of my major moves across country. Now we live in the same city and it's lovely - although we're both so busy with writing and our families, I have to admit we spend just as much time emailing each other personally or through our blogs, as we did before.

CherryBlossomMJ said...

I cannot tell you how much I agree with everything you both just said about blogging. It is all so true. I'm going to link back to this post on my blog because I love every word!

Deena Peterson said...

Amen. This is how I feel. My little blog threw open great big doors for me, and I have met SO MANY wonderful people through. It's allowed me to pray for those in need, to laugh, to cry...and to find kindred sisters who are just. like. me.

I am not alone. I am in WONDERFUL company.

Tracee said...

I actually met one of my best friends over 20 years ago and we lost touch for over 8 years. We are friends again and even though we don't live close we are closer than ever before.

Anonymous said...

One of the owners of a book blog I found when just discovering them was so particularly warm, inviting and friendly to me. When I had a death in my family she actually mailed me a book as a surprise and a gesture of kindness. It really touched me and meant a lot to me and I'll never forget it. She's a true gem.

darbyscloset said...

I have a unique relationship with Carol of "Bookreporter". She and I write emails to each other and love to red her blog reviews.
darbyscloset (at) yahoo (dot) com

windycindy said...

My sister is my best friend. She is 10 years older than me and is also like a mother figure. Thus, I have a sister, mother and best friend all rolled into one! Thanks, Cindi

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