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After the announcement of the BBAW shortlists and the resultant confusion (see a slight roundup with links over here and more on last week's controversy over one of the shortlisted sites charging for reviews here) I've been thinking about what makes me want to read a blog and how hard my favorite blogs are to classify. Guys Lit Wire is straight forward and we purposely designed it that way. If you want to visit a site with book recommendations for teenage boys then that is the site for you. We rarely stray from our mission and everything posted over there is designed for our specific audience. But here at Chasing Ray? Well, it's not so easy.

When I was notified by the BBAW folks that I was shortlisted for a few categories and had to provide five posts to fit those niches, it posed some questions (and in most cases I didn't try too hard). Do I write on YA here? Sometimes. But also sometimes I cover polar titles or environmental titles or war titles or hell - even picture books. Chasing Ray was designed for me, not for an audience so much and as such it is very personally directed. I don't think about posts garnering a big response among a readership, I think about what I'm reading and thinking (and writing) NOW. I imagine that this is a similar way that Jenny D., or Gwenda or Maud Newton or Tanita & Sarah (or so many others I read) operate. Is this the right or wrong way to blog? Oh please. It is however a nonclassifiable way to approach the blogosphere, and that gave me plenty of food for thought while reading over the BBAW shortlists.

For me a successful blog is one that engages my attention and, in the case of a book recommendation, makes me want to read the book. On that score, Jenny D. and Gwenda are consistently the "best" blogs I read. I have easily purchased/check out a dozen books over the past year based on recs from the two of them and I'm sure I will continue to seek out titles they mention. I have found that we have a lot in common when it comes to literary taste and so they have become significant blogs for me. But on the BBAW judging scale they clearly did not measure up. Which just goes to show that one person's clear winner is another's also-ran.

This also explains why I take the Oscar winners with a grain of salt every year.

After trying to parse my blog down to certain categories and certain posts, I have realized that I just don't write that way. (Which I think should have made me a shoo-in for "Most Eclectic Blog" ha!). It reminds me of the discussions we had in the bookstore where I worked over how to shelve certain books. This is why I love that Powells shelves in multiple areas - sometimes you have to accept that you don't fit securely in one place and that's all there is to it.

Is this a criticism of BBAW? No. It's more a personal revelation. I like not knowing before I get to Maud's site if I will find a book review or a post on her ancestors (if you've read those posts you'll know why they're so fascinating). I like that Gwenda covers SFF for adults and all sorts of books for teens. I like that Jenny D. can swing from academic criticism to running to mysteries. I like that Liz B. quotes Buffy while also discussing ALA or YALSA, and Jessa's snark commentary on the literary world and what Tanita and Sarah and Jules and Jen and Leila and Betsy and Pam and Doret and Susan and Little Willow and Erin and TEV and Beth Kephart and Lee and Greg and on and on all bring to the table. I just simply like several specific blogs that have broad interests (even beyond books). They are, to be blunt, my best in the lit blogosphere.

You're all part of my shortlist which will not result in wide accolades or even a button for your sidebar. However there is also no drama here either. And you've got me plus a lot of other dedicated readers who have been there all along and will continue to enjoy your thoughts, literary and otherwise. Awards come and go but faithful readers, we're the real achievement. I know I have a few and I appreciate you all, each and everyone. That's who I'd like to give an award to - the ones who have been with me all along and keep coming back to support my writing. I appreciate my readers, and I hope all of you do too.

comments

Colleen,

I love what you do here. And I'm stoked you listed me. Thanks.

I come here because you always have something interesting to say and you say it well. I love reading reviews but I love talking about books more and we do that here. That's what I want at Color Online. I want interaction and connection and the blogs I visit daily are spaces where folks connect.

I come to you for the reasons you reach out to us. Because I never know what I will find. And I like that.

Colleen, I'll second Susan's thoughts: I love what you do. Many a day I've "walked away" after reading one of your posts still thinking about the ideas and perspectives you've offered. You've got a very thoughtful, no-holes-barred-AND-professional approach to sharing ... and I appreciate that more than words can express!

I think you summed this up well, Colleen. I've always been resistant to those blog awards where you get the award, and then you're supposed to pass it on to 5 people or 10 people or whatever. My standard answer to that is "if I ever mention you in one of my link roundup posts, or I comment on posts at your site, then you're one of my favorite blogs". That's what matters to me in the blogs that I follow - the people who write something that inspires me to respond, or to share what they've said with other other people. Those are the people I feel like I've come to "know", even if I haven't met them yet face to face. And you, of course, have been one of those people for me since I started blogging. Thanks!!

Colleen, its an honor to be shortlisted by you. I blog to get books some attention. Sometimes I forget this and get caught up. When I check my site hits, and notice someone has found their way to my site by searching African American children's book, I rememeber why I started blogging in the first place. I am doing what I set out to do. The fact that people return is wonderful prize all on its own.

Colleen, You've grounded me with this post. Thank you.

I'm just happy to be doing what I do and reading what you guys have to say. Whenever something like the BBAW comes up and seems to galvanize so many people I wonder if maybe I should do more or if I'm not working hard enough at this blog. Then I remember I'm a writer and this is just - and always will be just - extra.

And that's okay. Because I've got you guys and you've got me and we keep finding good books through each other which is plenty awesome enough.

I agree with a lot of what you said, I know of many people within my internet circles who were nominated, but as you say what group and then what 5 links can you send.

The YA blogs I know quite a bit about having some of the bloggers as guests on my radio show, but some of the other shortlist people have never appeared on any links I've found, which of course does not mean they are not worthy winners.

Back to the contents... My own blog was entered for funniest or most humor or whatever the subject was. I was pleased it actaully got an entry, but like yourself. Mine is about humor every day, I write on writings, guests from my radio show and many other things.

I try and mkae things interesting and as on "A BOOK AND CHAT" (blog radio) I always try and bring a smile or two, but it's not written all the time as a funny blog.

Thank you for a great read.

Barry Eva (Storyheart)
http://acrossthepond-storyheart.blogspot.com

Thank you for this inspiring post, Colleen. As usual, you have given me food for thought. I need to remember why I am blogging.

Thank you for a beautiful post, Colleen.

Colleen - I've just discovered your blog. Thank you for a wonderful post.

Colleen, yours is one of the few book blogs I read and I get 99% of my book recs from you (I have many nieces and nephews very satisfied with their literary birthday presents). You read so widely and have such a fluent, natural style in writing reviews. Please keep doing exactly what you're doing and know that you are very appreciated.

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