Friday, March 27, 2009

You Asked, I'm Answering: Blogging and Everything Else

Jen asked,
"I'm going to put on my travel agent hat and ask you a couple vacation questions. Where is the best place you have ever visited? What is your dream vacation? Tell us where it would be and what you would do there."

This is really hard. I have sincerely loved a lot of the places I've been, but I think the best place I've been was Mont St. Michel in France...absolutely gorgeous and so totally fascinating. I highly recommend it. That little mini trip (I was teaching English just north of Paris for a summer) was also the first time I stayed at a Bed and Breakfast. I wish I could go again right now!

I also, of course, recommend Kyoto, Japan which was my second choice.

As far as a dream vacation, I really want to go to Italy before I die. I thought about choosing someplace more exotic and less cliched, but if you told me I was going to die in a month and could only go one more place, I'd choose Italy. I would of course want to eat a lot, and visit all the beautiful museums and historical places, and go to Venice before it floods or whatever is bound to happen.

Beth asked,
"I don't participate in Faith in Fiction because I'm not a Christian and because I participate in a ton of memes already. But I'm impressed with the questions and tasks you come up with each week. What's your inspiration? How do you come up with 52 topics a year?"

Thanks Beth! It's actually really hard sometimes. I have a list of possible topics, but I am a blogger that needs to be struck by inspiration. Thankfully, there are just so many ideas to explore in the world of Christian fiction. Plus the participants are all very different in their approach to both faith and fiction that I enjoy seeing what everyone has to say!

Shelly asked,
"How do you juggle your online time vs. reading time?

My reading pile seems to be growing as I spend more time on Twitter, blog commenting etc. Anxious to see what you say."

It's possible I could read blogs all day. I think reading blogs is a valid form of reading...and an important one despite the naysayers. But I also love reading books.

My first tip, so to say, is to make sure you always have a book with you. There are a million unexpected little places during the day you can sneak in reading. I read everywhere possible...I hate waiting in line, so I read. (why waste the time?) I read during my lunch and on my breaks. I read before sleeping. And yes, I read at red lights, in drive thrus and all other manner of dangerous places.

Secondly, sometimes I just turn off the computer and go someplace to read. Otherwise I get tempted by e-mail or twitter or google reader.

And lastly...I have my google reader organized. I have about 20 blogs I try to read everyday. (I usually read more than that, but they are my "can't miss!") That way, if I have a day where I can't really spend time on the computer, I usually can read their posts. Then, I generally spend Saturday mornings catching up on sleep and my google reader.

As far as can really be a time suck. It's so much fun to chat with everyone through the day and I absolutely HATE to miss anything. I usually leave Twitter on at home, and check in a few times during the workday.

Beth asked,
"How do you define beauty?"

Wow! Honestly, I had never really thought about it before. I guess beauty is something that gives me hope or makes me believe that there is always something better. I say this because the one thing beauty always does is fill me with longing. Whether it's the beauty of nature, or of a kind act, or piece of music...if I choose to define it as beautiful, it has made me ache inside with hope and longing. Or homesickness. Of course if I'm saying beautiful man it's not quite that deep ;)

Marta asked,
"What is 10 + 6 + 5 +10?"

Marta! I said no math! Erm, um, I think that's 31.

Wordlily asked,
"Why do you like vampires?"

Oh, I wish I knew! I tend to be dramatic. I love tragic stories. It really doesn't get more tragic than being doomed to wander the earth in an undead state drinking blood, does it? There is so much symbolism, so much possibility for redemption, so much angst. I just love them! I've said it here before, but my mother absolutely hates that I do! Every time I've fallen in love with another vampire story she worries for the eternal condition of my soul. :) (just kidding) So as you can see, I prefer vampires with some personality...I'm not as much into the "vampires as monsters or demons" myths.

Bermudaonion asked,
"What has been your proudest moment in your life so far?"

This is also a difficult question. I'm going to cheat and tell you a moment that made me feel proud and like I was doing something good that happened recently. I tutor adults in reading improvement and from the very first day it was an uphill battle. It is not at all a glamorous job. I have seen several adults turn their reading around, though, and even get promotions at our workplace! But the moment that filled me with joy was when I was at the bookstore and bumped into a former student. "I never used to come here but now thanks to you I read all the time!" he told me. These moments...they are so few and far between. Most of the time, I'm plugging away just like my students. But when they happen, when I remember that what I'm doing does make a difference in the best possible way...well it's very sweet, indeed.

Euphrony asked,
"What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?"


No one asked this question, but here it is since it seems appropriate for this week:

Who are your blogging influences?

The first blog I read was the blog of Shaun Groves. It is still a daily read for me, though I don't comment as much as I used to. I didn't even really understand what a blog was, but I read Shaun's and ended up creating my own. In any case, Shaun is one of the best writers I've ever read. And for a few years there, his influence through his blog was profound on my life. That little community there at the time wrestled through a lot of issues together. If I could inspire and influence people through my blog a fraction of the way Shaun influenced me, I would be very happy indeed.

Kat Jacobs. It's not her real name, but Kat's blogging was a model to me. I learned a lot from reading her blog about blogging itself, including that you can have blogging activities! Before I thought of blogs as merely places where you wrote about what you were thinking, but Kat organized a collaborative blog event called the 40 Day Fast where 40 blogs chose a social justice issue to blog about and fasted on their day. It was a great experience. The reason I mention this is because if I hadn't known that you could do fun things like that, BBAW (Book Blogger Appreciation Week) would never have happened. Sadly, I don't think Kat reads my blog anymore (probably since I post 50,000 times a day) but I still look forward to when she has time to post.

Booking Mama. Julie probably doesn't know it, but she influenced me a lot in learning how to write reviews. I was terrible (or more terrible) at it before but I learned through reading her reviews. She's still ten thousand times better than me. I wanted to mention that I found her blog through Megan Crane! When she reviewed Names My Sisters Called Me, Megan linked to it and that's how I found her! And I'm so glad I did!

Thanks everyone for asking me questions and for bothering to read the answers! After I started this, I thought...oh my gosh, this is really self-centered. But I've had a ton of fun answering the questions and next week we'll get back to book reviews with an autobiographical slant.

I'd like to do another giveaway...please leave a comment and tell me about one of your blogging influences! If you don't blog, just tell me about a blog you enjoy. Or if you like just leave a comment relevant to the post. I'll choose one winner for their choice of a ten dollar gift certificate to Amazon or iTunes. Be sure to have a valid email address as well.

I have an insane amount of other giveaways at the moment don't forget to check them out!
Buffy Seasons 1 and 2
The Kitty Norville Books
LOST season 1
Don't Let Me Go
The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived



bermudaonion said...

This was so much fun, Amy. Thanks for answering my question. I'm proud of you for helping to create new readers as well. I agree with you about Booking Mama's reviews - they are awesome. One of the first book blogs I discovered had a big influence on me. It was Literate Housewife, so I was thrilled when I got to meet Jennifer in January.

Julie P. said...

You made me cry! I was just reading through this learning more about you (we should go to Italy together b/c I'm dying to go there too); and I see what you said about my reviews. I almost fell over. I don't consider myself a good reviewer at all -- I'm actually more of a numbers person. I can't even begin to tell you how much your kind words mean to me b/c I think you are the Queen of Bloggers and Reviews. I also think you are the most amazing person! Can't wait to meet you in May!!! :)

Shelly B said...

First off, thanks so much for answering my question. I am going to take to heart your suggestions and really try to prioritize myself before the stacks of books swamp me! LOL!

I would have to say that in my short blogging journey, there has been more than one influence, so it's hard to choose, but anytime I've had questions or concerns about my blog, writing reviews, or finding books, it's always been Kathy, Julie, and Beth that have been right there to answer and inspire me. They are each exceptional women in their own way and ones whose blogs I read daily! I hope to be able to meet them face to face in the near future.

Gwendolyn B. said...

First, please DO NOT put my name in for the giveaway! I'm commenting because I've just read this series of posts and really enjoyed it. I'm incredibly crunched for time and don't get to spend as much time as I would like actually reading blogs, but I'm getting better organized and that helps. (Finally understanding how to make Google Reader work FOR me!) I appreciate all the work you do and how generously you share your knowledge. You are right about Julie - she's terrific - but please, don't sell yourself short! You are an inspiration too!

Anonymous said...

These posts are so much fun! One of my first influences was Cornflower, I found her when I was searching for info about Persephone Books. Thanks for the contest.

euphrony said...

Amy, the appropriate answer to "What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?" is What do you mean? An African or European swallow?

It's a running joke in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Anonymous said...

I'm sad you didn't recognize the Monty Python question. :p

Thanks for trying to answer my question, though! :)

WordLily AT gmail

Florinda said...

I loved your answer to Shelly's question, since that's an ongoing struggle for me. I'd have said some of the same things you did.

One of my biggest blogging influences is Wendy (Literary Feline) from Musings of a Bookish Kitty, both in review style and interaction with readers. I'm looking forward to meeting her - and you, Amy! - at the LA Times Festival of Books next month!

cheryl c said...

I enjoy a lot of blogs that I visit daily. Author Jill Shalvis' blog is always full of humor and observations of daily life.

I also enjoy Petticoats and Pistols because I love historical fiction. Not only do I discover wonderful books, but I also get a daily history lesson!

I love your blog because of your insightful comments.

Stephen said...

True story: I once read most of a John Grisham novel on the two-hour drive from Nashville to Chattanooga. And I was driving.

S. Krishna said...

Loved this post, and the swallow question! (It's a Monty Python joke). I really want to go back to France, but I want to go with someone who speaks French. If you ever go back, tell me and I'll tag along :-)

tanabata said...

I've really enjoyed reading your ask and answer posts (just getting round to it today).
I adore Kyoto! I often wish we lived there instead of Tokyo, but H's job is here so there's not much I can do about that. I also dream of visiting Mont St. Michel someday. I've been to France a few times but haven't yet made it there. Ah, someday... :)

Ana S. said...

I love your answers to the proudest moment question! And I always carry a book with me for the exact reasons you mentioned. There are always lots of unexpected reading opportunities during the day. And they add up!

Blogging influences... Dewey was a huge one. Also, Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings and Chris at Stuff as Dreams. Not only because theirs were the first blogs I discovered, but also because like me they blog about fantasy a lot. Almost everything I know about blogging I learned from them!

Another one is Quixotic, who doesn't update very often anymore but who is still a huge inspiration for me. She was also one of the first to comment on my blog regularly and to make me feel welcomed in blogland. I'll always be grateful to her for that.

Alix said...

I've really enjoyed reading all your answers. The proudest moment was lovely, as a teacher that really does make it worth while doesn't it? And I hope you make it to Italy someday. Lake Como is one of my favourite places.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

What a fabulous way to get to know you better. I've thought about doing something like this on my blog, but such fun and interesting questions (and of course your answers).

Anonymous said...

these are graet questions very nice.


Beth F said...

Great answers! Thanks for sharing your week-long celebration.

Dawn- She is Too Fond of Books said...

This has been a great series of posts, Amy!

Were there any questions you *didn't* answer (besides math!). I'm not asking you to list them, just wondering if anything was outside the limits (or unanswerable)

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

How fun! It's great getting to know you better. I like the proudest moment question.

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