The Never Heard Before Genesis Story
It was a rainy afternoon (I actually don’t remember but the default fall/winter weather here in Vancouver is rainy) when I got an Idea! If you know me, I often get ideas and some of them are actually not nonsense. We were sitting, I believe, in the fancy grad lounge (we MACLers share a lounge with the library school) and I put forth the idea of a collaborative blog to my friends and cohort of whom there were six at the time. Two have, since then, fallen off the wayside, called to greener and less fun pastures (because what could be more fun than being with us?). We even got Janet who is no Luddite but has less than warm and snuggly feelings towards technology to agree to be a fellow blogger.
Then we planned. We had a whole slew of emails going between us trying to decide the name of this blog. It was a pain and then Stephie and I arbitrarily decided through a series of texts that it was going to be The Book Wars (and we didn’t want to hear or see any kerfluffle about this executive decision). (That was on a rainy afternoon too.)
So The Book Wars was born. Over the summer, we started work on it. We talked, and by talked I mean emailed a lot, discussing the platform, whether we’d be themed and if so, what our first theme would be. We decided to launch on September 1st because hey, school starts then and procrastination becomes a need.
In the year we have been active, we have amassed over 400 posts, gotten a post (Stephie’s) freshly pressed, interviewed 25 authors, gathered a following of 5760 (!!!) blog followers, 241 Twitter followers, 96 Tumblr followers and 117 Facebook followers. (Note: we do post different content on Tumblr and Facebook if you are interested in following us on those platforms.)
Currently, we have had around 73k hits on our blog. We have also won a couple of awards, the most prestigious of them being the 2014 YA Web Awards!
I have enjoyed being a part of this team tremendously. Having this platform to sound off my views on children’s literature has been invaluable because it has helped me to formulate my own tastes about what I like and dislike about not just children’s literature. The comments and interactions I’ve had on this blog have challenged my perceptions about children’s literature and helped me see the world through different eyes.
The second year of The Book Wars will be full of fun things and hopefully we will be able to take you further into the world of children’s literature and literature in general. As we move out of academia and go into the real world, maybe our perceptions of literature will change. We’ll see!
Tell us what you think of The Book Wars! Is there any post you’ve enjoyed tremendously? Is there anything you wish to see on the blog? Is there anything you dislike about our posting and organization? Let us know! Would you like to contribute a post to the blog? We welcome contributors so just drop us a line. All information on the Contribute! page.
I think what I have liked the most about the blog is what I was initially trepidatious about – – the commitment. In the beginning we were all beginning our thesis writing year, I was the co-chair (with Nafiza and Chris Owen) of a Children’s Lit conference and a reviewer already for a couple of other sources and overextended in the volunteer quarter as well. It is true that there have been times when I’ve scrambled to come up with a post, there have been times when I’ve fallen off the band-wagon (particularly around my defense, the conference date and when I moved across the country) – but for the most part, it has been the commitment that is the real joy. I kind of love scrambling for a blog topic. When I haven’t got a book to review and I have to come up with something to say, well that’s when I think I really blog. Sharing ideas, thoughts, speculations and opinions with my fellow book warriors and our ever-growing audience has been a real treat. I love the comments and discussions which keep cropping up and I love that the blog gives me motivation to keep reading and writing about Children’s Lit. Actually, because we have been doing themed months it has been forcing me to read outside my normal stack of books – which has been both a challenge and refreshing. With the blog I have interviewed some favourite authors, visited a couple of publishing houses and made some online friends. I’ve also had the opportunity to exercise that creative thread in me, even when it is only to opine.
I look forward to the second year. There is a lot to come that has been planning, but also a lot of unplanned stuff. We are waffling about upgrading the site, starting up a linked youtube channel and adding a more continuous stream of guest posts and interviews/ publishing house visits. We are constantly getting books to review now and I’d like to be able to balance review books with what I want to read and with the monthly theme and with also posting those opinions so – well, there’s lots to think about and to work on.
We’d love to know what you readers have liked from this first year of blogging and we’d love more suggestions – do you like our Cover Wars? Do you prefer the reviews or the opinion/speculation posts? Got any theme ideas? Let us know :)
Wow. One whole year. If our blog went to Hogwarts, it would be a second year student now! With new textbooks! So exciting! I, admittedly, did not believe that we would make it past a month, let alone a whole year. As Steph mentioned, the commitment to a (more or less) regular posting schedule seemed impossible to contemplate last September. But we took it one week at a time and here we are! I am so glad to be here, at this virtual location, at this point in time, with this particular team of readers, writers, and friends.
Over the past year, we’ve made some interesting reading choices (ones we might not have made without the monthly themes and comments from our audience), we’ve made some lovely friends (through posts, interviews, contributions, and odd requests), and we’ve gained a fair few followers/readers (I am still not sure how). However, most important for me, is getting to learn a great deal about (and from) each other, not only as a team but as friends. The Book Wars is basically like a human-shaped machine; full of contradictions and yet impressively functional!
Of course, we do aim to improve. Let us know in the comments section (or through Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook) if you have any particular changes you’d like to see, or simply ideas you’d like to share with us.
Apart from that, here’s to another year of awesome, unicorns! <3
Really, if I’d known what I was getting into when Nafiza pitched the original idea, there is no way I would have been involved, which would have been a shame. Er, for a while during the planning stage, I was under the impression that we’d post each week, meaning that I would post once a month. Definitely a good thing I was that oblivious.
Aside from the manifest overt benefits of blogging with friends and fellow children’s literature scholars (i.e. the blog ensures we stay in touch and that regular exposure to a wide variety of perspectives, writing styles, and literature inoculates me against stagnation), one of the best things being part of this blog has done for me is prompted more discipline in writing. Whatever else is going on, the post must be ready for Thursday morning, and Tuesday, and Saturday. Knowing that a certain amount must be written by a set time every week and that I am accountable to my friends (no less, any readers!) is almost pleasingly predictable. It is a measurable, scheduled, and largely enjoyable task, one which allows a lot of space for creativity within certain parameters. Learning to blog has been a learning curve (and not just in terms of how much snark is reasonable, if a critical and unimpressed eye can ever be said to be reasonable). I have developed great respect for bloggers who do this all on their own. And Nafiza is quite right about my (lack of) computer techie skills; figuring out WordPress has doubtless been good for me.
The completion of our first full year (!) snuck up. I have high hopes that the second year will be even better – do, please, let us know what you find most interesting, helpful, inspiring – anything – and what we could do better. We really do adore long responses, by the way, so send some in!
And, as ever, happy reading!