BBAW, the Final Send Off

It has been a crazy week of book blogging and celebrations, and I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who voted, participated, commented, read, and brought the giveaways and posts to the community.  You’re all fantastic people and your voices have been heard.

I also want to thank you for voting for my blog as Best Poetry Blog.  I appreciated that more than you know.

Three Tips for Blogging:

1.  Be Creative:  Come up with your own events, challenges, review formats, weekly features, and interview questions.  Take inspiration from other blogs, television, your neighbors, strangers on the subway, and wherever else you find it.

2.  Try it Out:  Even if you try out an idea and it doesn’t work, you gave it a chance.  You should also give it more than a few weeks.  Keep the events, formats, and other stuff you try going for a month or more because the blogging world is so big, it takes more time to get noticed.  You can help that along by following tip #3.

3.  Spread the Word:  Facebook, Twitter, and commenting are your friends.  Its how you make connections, how you build a following, and how you inform others of what you are doing.  This works for your reviews, your interviews, your giveaways, your events, and more.  If you are starting your own challenge, you should submit the information to the Novel Challenge blog.

One of the latest things I’ve done is make a Facebook page for the blog, and use it to spread information about poets, interesting articles, and publishing updates and trends.  It’s been a great way to keep discussion going, and you don’t need to constantly watch it like you do Twitter.

I hope everyone had a great time this week and found some more blogs to follow and enjoy.  Take the time to read through these new blogs and get to know the people behind them.  You’ll be richer for it.

What are your tips?

Since I received a second copy of When She Woke by Hillary Jordan, I’m going to pass one along to a book blogger. I haven’t read this yet, but it sounds fantastic.

All you have to do is comment and leave a link to your blog so I can visit.

This International giveaway ends Sept. 16, 2011, at 11:59PM EST.

Reading Changes…

As any reader can tell you, your reading habits will change with your mood or with the place you are in your life.  When you’re younger, you’ll probably read more about relationships and friendships, but as you age, your reading may take you into deeper topics about the environment, humanity, socio-political issues, war, and more.  This may not always be the case for some readers.  But reading also is driven by mood, like when you are in a bad mood and need a book that will pick you up out of the doldrums.  For instance, right now, I’m glad that the books I’m reading next — To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell, One Day by David Nicholls, and Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star by Heather Rigaud — are expected to be full of humor, romance, and fun since I’m in a poopy mood.

On a broader scale, has blogging influenced what I read?  Yes, somewhat.  Would I have still read poetry?  YES!  Would I still have read the wide variety of books I do now? YES!  However, would I have read the specific books I have in the last year?  Maybe or maybe not; it would have depended on if I found them in the bookstore through browsing or if they would have been recommended to me by others.  I’ve always been an eclectic reader, but some of the more obscure or specialized books I’ve read, ranging from photography to nonfiction war books, probably would not have made their way into my hands without bloggers.

Found this crazy snow whale photo on the Web and couldn't resist.

In that same way, my giveaway today has to do with recommending what I think is a great book, published by one of the local D.C. area presses, Atticus Books. 

I already read this gently used ARC, and now I want to pass it onto one of you to read and enjoy.  Remember this is a parody and you need not have read Moby Dick to enjoy it because I’ve never finished that “great” Melville work, and I loved The Snow Whale.

You must be a book blogger to enter and leave a link to your blog.  Deadline for this international giveaway is Sept. 16, 2011, at 11:59PM EST

BBAW Community Connections & Giveaway

Building community connections among book bloggers takes time, no matter if you are a blogger whose been on the Internet for one minute or three years.  From commenting on other blogs to participating in memes or in reading challenges, book blogging is time consuming, exhausting, and daunting, especially when you first start out.

Imagine being a reader, writer, and lover of poetry and wondering where to find all the poetry bloggers? That can be difficult, just as its difficult finding readers in the “real world” who read poetry.

I would love to provide other poetry lovers with a space they can use to share their poetry recommendations, reviews, and questions.  Wouldn’t that be fun?  I’ve met a few wonderful readers of poetry, but there are certainly more out there.

So if anyone has some tips they’d like to share to bring this part of the community closer together, feel free to leave it in the comments.  I’m all ears.

Beyond finding your own like-minded readers, its also good to participate in community events like BBAW and the Indie Lit Awards.  The Indie Lit Awards are particularly important because readers and book bloggers are gaining a voice, and in an effort to make that voice more powerful, the awards will be given to those books that WE feel are worthy of recognition.

I’m chairing the Poetry committee this year, and love getting the word out about awesome poetry books.  We’re looking for some great 2011 nominations, and hope that you’ll stop by between now and the end of the year to nominate your favorite poetry books published this year.

Now, for today’s giveaway.  I have 1 copy of Women Know Everything! by Karen Weekes, which I received from Quirk Books and want to pass along to someone else to enjoy. 

You must be a blogger to enter and leave your blog link in the comments.  Deadline is Sept. 16, 2011, at 11:59PM EST and is open internationally.

BBAW Interview Swap: Gautami of Everything Distils Into Reading

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that one of my favorite activities is interviewing other bloggers. For this year’s interview swap as part of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gautami of Everything Distils Into Reading.

She and I share a love of writing and reading poetry, and I love to check out her poems from time to time, which she posts online for her readers.  She’s very prolific, and wouldn’t it be grand if another blogger were to publish a poetry book, like Sandra of Fresh Ink Books?

Without further ado, here’s my in-depth interview with Gautami:

1. Everything Distils into Reading is not your first book blog, but why did you decide to keep going and how did you come up with the name for the new incarnation?

I lost my blog, My Own Little Reading Room, to malware in April 2009. It was a very big loss. I kind of felt as if something was cut of from my body. I decided the only option was to keep going. My life revolves around books. I am a teacher, so my work too is reading related. That is how the name of my blog came up.

2. How do you determine which blogs to read on a regular basis and how often do you read them?

I have stuck to the old bloggers. I like to read Crime Fiction, Literary Fiction and poetry. So I kind of only read those blogs and a few others which are mix of all. I read via Google Reader!

3. I know you recently went through a reading slump (and may still be), but could you provide readers and bloggers alike with some tips on how to overcome that slump?

My reading slump persists. I am unable to read novels. But I am reading a lot. Scientific papers. Poetry. Global news. Non-fiction. Short pieces hold my interest. I say, do what works best for you!

4. As a writer of poetry, do you keep writing for yourself? Do you submit to magazines (online or print)? And what keeps you inspired?

I write poetry only for myself. I do have a blog, rooted. I write from writing prompts. Never submitted my poetry any where.

5. If you had to choose one book (of poetry or otherwise) from the 2011 publication year to nominate for the Indie Lit Awards in September, what would it be?

I can’t answer that. Mainly because I have not explored. Being an Indian, all those awards don’t have much meaning for me!

Thanks, Gautami, for sharing a bit of yourself and your blog with us.  Feel free to leave a question for Gautami or myself or leave a link to your BBAW interview swap.

Want to check out Gautami’s interview with me, head on over to her blog.

Today’s giveaway is for Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles. You must be a blogger to enter and you must leave your blog address. Open internationally; deadline ends Sept. 16, 2011, at 11:59PM EST.

Mailbox Monday #143 & BBAW Welcome

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch.  This month our host is Amused by Books.  Kristi of The Story Siren continues to sponsor her In My Mailbox meme.  Both of these memes allow bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received this week:

1. Little Black Dress by Susan McBride, which I won from The Girl in the Ghetto.

2. The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove by Susan Gregg Gilmore, which I won from Booking Mama

3. The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson from Shelf Awareness.

What did you receive this week?

Today is also the first day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, so be aware that there will be multiple posts from me this week, which we all know is not the norm. Please click on the button to find out this week’s daily topics.

I’d like to talk a little bit about community. Online communities like that of the book blogging community inevitably grow, but in our case, we’ve grown exponentially. There are so many great people from real life friends who blog together, people who became friends and work together on a variety of projects, to those of us who have never met in person.

While Dewey of The Hidden Side of a Leaf encouraged me to keep with my blog and spread the poetry love, the rest of you have kept me going through the years. While I haven’t met everyone in the community, not have I seen your blog before, just knowing you are there is a comfort to me.

I encourage people to leave your blog link in the comments, and I will try to visit and comment if I haven’t done either before. Thanks again to everyone.

Today’s giveaway is for Operation Blue Light by Philip Chabot and Laurie Anne Blanchard.

You must be a blogger to enter and you must leave a link to your blog. Open Internationally and deadline is Sept. 16, 2011, at 11:59PM EST.

Appreciating Bloggers

Book Blogger Appreciation Week starts Sept. 12 and runs through Sept. 16 with a variety of giveaways and activities for the blogging community.  Each year, I take the opportunity to visit bloggers I don’t really know or have never seen before, and that’s how I find gems, like Unabridged Chick.

In appreciation of my fellow book bloggers, I’m going to offer up some books for giveaway throughout the week, starting tomorrow.  You must be a blogger to enter, which means you must leave me your blog address in the comments to be entered.

So you can plan ahead, these are the books I’ll be offering this week:

1.  Operation Blue Light by Philip Chabot and Laurie Anne Blanchard, which is a memoir and I didn’t feel interested in; I want to pass this along to someone who would enjoy it.  Here are the details from Amazon:

In Operation Blue Light: My Secret Life among Psychic Spies Philip Chabot reveals for the first time the powerful story of his growing psychic ability and the government s growing interest in him. Mr. Chabot details a type of psychic ability he calls spoken telepathy and tells how it came to steal away a summer of his young life. Philip Chabot recorded his memories of the experience three years after the story ended but kept those tapes private until after he retired. After forty years of keeping his and the government s secret he now tells what lead to that hot summer afternoon in Lebanon, Missouri. He reveals how his psychic abilities had grown to such a state that he was actually interrupting intelligence efforts around the world.

2.  Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles, which I recently read and reviewed for the U.S. Civil War Reading Challenge at War Through the Generations.  Here’s part of the description from Amazon:

For the Colleys of southeastern Missouri, the War between the States is a plague that threatens devastation, despite the family’s avowed neutrality. For eighteen-year-old Adair Colley, it is a nightmare that tears apart her family and forces her and her sisters to flee. The treachery of a fellow traveler, however, brings about her arrest, and she is caged with the criminal and deranged in a filthy women’s prison.

But young Adair finds that love can live even in a place of horror and despair. Her interrogator, a Union major, falls in love with her and vows to return for her when the fighting is over. Before he leaves for battle, he bestows upon her a precious gift: freedom.

3.  Women Know Everything! by Karen Weekes, which I received from Quirk Books and want to pass along to someone else to enjoy.

With more than 3,000 quotations on everything from fashion and feminism to men, marriage, friendship, history, technology, sports, and more, this massive compilation proves once and for all that women know everything! Each page offers wisdom, wit, and inspiration from a host of legendary women—from Jane Austen and Colette to Madonna, Marilyn Monroe, Toni Morrison, Liz Phair, Ellen DeGeneres, and Naomi Klein.

4.  The Snow Whale by John Minichillo, which I reviewed earlier this year.

When John Jacobs, a mild-mannered suburban office worker, takes a DNA test and discovers that he is part-Inuit, he so embraces his new identity that he declares it his Inupiat tribal right to set forth on a whale hunt.

So begins this postmodern satire, a seriocomic, quirky adventure set in the oldest continuously settled town in North America, in the North Slope of Alaska, on the frozen Chukchi Sea, literally at the top of the world, where the inhabitants and their ancestors have depended on subsistence whaling for thousands of years.

5.  When She Woke by Hillary Jordan, which I received 2 copies of and have an extra copy to pass along to one of you.

Hannah Payne’s life has been devoted to church and family, but after her arrest, she awakens to a nightmare: she is lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown, with cameras broadcasting her every move to millions at home, for whom observing new Chromes—criminals whose skin color has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime—is a new and sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red; her crime is murder. The victim, according to the State of Texas, was her unborn child, and Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the father, a public figure with whom she’s shared a fierce and forbidden love.

I hope you’ll all be stopping by and entering the giveaways, but most of all checking out new blogs this week and most of all enjoying the community.  Don’t enter here, but on the posts throughout the week.  There are also 2 other giveaways in the sidebar for all readers.

Also, please take a moment today to remember the people who died on Sept. 11, 2001, and who died after helping people out of the rubble and more.

Virtual Poetry Circle #114 & BBAW Shortlist

First, I want to thank everyone for their nomination of my blog for the Best Poetry Category in this year’s BBAW (Book Blogger Appreciation Week).  I’m so glad that the work I do with poetry and poets is reaching people and that they appreciate my efforts.  I hope that I can continue to keep everyone’s interest and bring new exciting events and projects to the Internet.

Please take the time to vote for the short list candidates, if you haven’t already, because voting closes today.

There are some great blogs nominated, and there are some great books and memes nominated as well. BBAW is about bringing the community together and all it needs to be a success is your participation.  I’ll be participating in the Interview swap on Tuesday, Sept. 13, and I’ll have some BBAW-related giveaways this week…so stay tuned for that.

Welcome to the 114th Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s books suggested. Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Also, sign up for the 2011 Fearless Poetry Reading Challenge because its simple; you only need to read 1 book of poetry. Please contribute to the growing list of 2011 Indie Lit Award Poetry Suggestions, visit the stops on the National Poetry Month Blog Tour from April.

Today’s poem is from Nazim Hikmet:

Things I Didn’t Know I Loved (translated by Mutlu Konuk and Randy Blasing)

it's 1962 March 28th
I'm sitting by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
night is falling
I never knew I liked
night descending like a tired bird on a smoky wet plain
I don't like
comparing nightfall to a tired bird

I didn't know I loved the earth
can someone who hasn't worked the earth love it
I've never worked the earth
it must be my only Platonic love

and here I've loved rivers all this time
whether motionless like this they curl skirting the hills
European hills crowned with chateaus
or whether stretched out flat as far as the eye can see
I know you can't wash in the same river even once
I know the river will bring new lights you'll never see
I know we live slightly longer than a horse but not nearly as long as a crow
I know this has troubled people before
                         and will trouble those after me
I know all this has been said a thousand times before
                         and will be said after me

I didn't know I loved the sky
cloudy or clear
the blue vault Andrei studied on his back at Borodino
in prison I translated both volumes of War and Peace into Turkish
I hear voices
not from the blue vault but from the yard
the guards are beating someone again
I didn't know I loved trees
bare beeches near Moscow in Peredelkino
they come upon me in winter noble and modest
beeches are Russian the way poplars are Turkish
"the poplars of Izmir
losing their leaves. . .
they call me The Knife. . .
                         lover like a young tree. . .
I blow stately mansions sky-high"
in the Ilgaz woods in 1920 I tied an embroidered linen handkerchief
                                        to a pine bough for luck

I never knew I loved roads
even the asphalt kind
Vera's behind the wheel we're driving from Moscow to the Crimea
                               formerly "Goktepé ili" in Turkish
the two of us inside a closed box
the world flows past on both sides distant and mute
I was never so close to anyone in my life
bandits stopped me on the red road between Bolu and Geredé
                                        when I was eighteen
apart from my life I didn't have anything in the wagon they could take
and at eighteen our lives are what we value least
I've written this somewhere before
wading through a dark muddy street I'm going to the shadow play
Ramazan night
a paper lantern leading the way
maybe nothing like this ever happened
maybe I read it somewhere an eight-year-old boy
                                       going to the shadow play
Ramazan night in Istanbul holding his grandfather's hand
   his grandfather has on a fez and is wearing the fur coat
      with a sable collar over his robe
   and there's a lantern in the servant's hand
   and I can't contain myself for joy
flowers come to mind for some reason
poppies cactuses jonquils
in the jonquil garden in Kadikoy Istanbul I kissed Marika
fresh almonds on her breath
I was seventeen
my heart on a swing touched the sky
I didn't know I loved flowers
friends sent me three red carnations in prison

I just remembered the stars
I love them too
whether I'm floored watching them from below
or whether I'm flying at their side

I have some questions for the cosmonauts
were the stars much bigger
did they look like huge jewels on black velvet
                             or apricots on orange
did you feel proud to get closer to the stars
I saw color photos of the cosmos in Ogonek magazine now don't
   be upset comrades but nonfigurative shall we say or abstract
   well some of them looked just like such paintings which is to
   say they were terribly figurative and concrete
my heart was in my mouth looking at them
they are our endless desire to grasp things
seeing them I could even think of death and not feel at all sad
I never knew I loved the cosmos

snow flashes in front of my eyes
both heavy wet steady snow and the dry whirling kind
I didn't know I liked snow

I never knew I loved the sun
even when setting cherry-red as now
in Istanbul too it sometimes sets in postcard colors
but you aren't about to paint it that way
I didn't know I loved the sea
                             except the Sea of Azov
or how much

I didn't know I loved clouds
whether I'm under or up above them
whether they look like giants or shaggy white beasts

moonlight the falsest the most languid the most petit-bourgeois
strikes me
I like it

I didn't know I liked rain
whether it falls like a fine net or splatters against the glass my
   heart leaves me tangled up in a net or trapped inside a drop
   and takes off for uncharted countries I didn't know I loved
   rain but why did I suddenly discover all these passions sitting
   by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
is it because I lit my sixth cigarette
one alone could kill me
is it because I'm half dead from thinking about someone back in Moscow
her hair straw-blond eyelashes blue

the train plunges on through the pitch-black night
I never knew I liked the night pitch-black
sparks fly from the engine
I didn't know I loved sparks
I didn't know I loved so many things and I had to wait until sixty
   to find it out sitting by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
   watching the world disappear as if on a journey of no return

                                                     19 April 1962 Moscow

Let me know your thoughts, ideas, feelings, impressions. Let’s have a great discussion…pick a line, pick an image, pick a sentence.

I’ve you missed the other Virtual Poetry Circles. It’s never too late to join the discussion.