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The move to our self-hosted site is complete!  You’ll find the post you’re looking for at

www.sheIsTooFondOfBooks.com

Thanks for your patience!

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… to a self-hosted domain.  My blog will look essentially the same once the change is complete, but I may be “unavailable” for a few days.  Think of it like I’m busy unpacking and hanging pictures in my new place, and I’ll get back with you as soon as I can!

Right now your shortcuts or links point to www.sheIsTooFondOfBooks.wordpress.com (even though you might not type wordpress into the address bar).  After the move you’ll find me at simply www.sheIsTooFondOfBooks.com.

I’m hoping the process will be fairly painless (crossing fingers!), and that I can get my links straightened out in short order.  Soon I’ll be back posting and commenting … pop over anytime, I’ll roll out the Welcome Mat, and no housewarming gift is expected 🙂

The entries in this contest were so fun to read!  Here’s a sampling of the answers to “Home is ….”

  • wherever you’re happiest
  • where my kids are
  • where my fiance is
  • where you can always feel like you and where memories are made
  • full of cats
  • where my family is

There are 44 other submissions, find them here.   And if you haven’t yet had a chance to, check out author Kathleen McCleary’s guest post.

 

I used random.org to choose the winner…

Here are your random numbers:

48	

Timestamp: 2008-09-20 13:32:00 UTC

melanie!  Her answer was “Home is where my husband and I are, together.”  Congratulations, Melanie!  Please use the “contact me” tab to send me your mailing address and I’ll get your package in the mail.

Each day this week, Amy has asked us to write about a specific topic; I’ve been in bed since Tuesday afternoon (one of those crazy New England sinus infections stemming from weather in the 80s one day and the 60s the next.  TMI, I know, sorry about that … It beats “the dog ate my homework” for an excuse of why I’ve been MIA this week!).  This is today’s assigment from My Friend Amy: today take whatever direction you want. Share some of the new blogs you’ve discovered, things you’ve learned, what you got out of the week, or what you plan to do on your blogcation (I have one coming up…:)

The blogs, oh my!  I had 120 blogs in my Reader last weekend, I’ve added about another 40 since the week began.  What a great group of people – sharing ideas, book recommendations (of course!), interesting conversations about world events and how they affect us, author sites, even blogs that focus on genres I’m “not into” got added!  Thru the daily postings I was introduced to other readers and writers with similar general interests, but diverse enough to not be the “same old, same old.”

I loved the interviews that Amy arranged!  I haven’t worked my way through all of them yet, but I so enjoy reading them.  I always like to read/listen to author interviews, and hey, bloggers are just as interesting!  It’s fun to find out the back story as to why/how they started, challenges they’ve overcome, fun they’ve had, and the niche they cover.

The giveaways have been spectacular!  My TBR pile is so tall that I entered a limited few, but, boy were there a lot of books and other goodies to be had.  Amy made great connections with publishers, publicists, authors and other bloggers who spread the word and arranged many giveaways of their own.  What a generous group!

The awardswere well-deserved!  Many of these blogs were new to me, so they were dutifully added to my “must read” list as well.  The categories ran the spectrum and covered every nook and cranny of the book blogging world!  I think everyone who was nominated was worthy – maybe we need a “BBAW Nominee” button as well as the “winner” button, so the runners-up can show that off, too.

Since I’ve been under the weather this week I have been posting only minimally (and still have “homework” to catch up on, the “thank you” assignment and blogging tips will come over the weekend).  On Monday I had a review and giveaway of Kathleen McCleary’s House & Home (enter by midnight tonight!).  Tuesday was my interview with Amy and a wonderful guest post by Kathleen McCleary.  If you haven’t read Kathleen’s post, please take a minute to click over – she talks about the inspirations for one of the settings in her novel, combining IRL bookstores and her creative talents to form the Hole in the Wall Bookstore; it’s neat to read about the writer’s process.

Many thanks to Amy for being the creative force behind this eventful week, and to all the others who stepped up to lend such a huge helping hand!  From where I sit (and lay, and nap this week!), it’s been a phenomenal success.  I have a lot of reading and writing to catch up on over the weekend … Amy, enjoy your well-deserved blogcation!

Winner of *Matrimony* giveaway

As usual, I used random.org to select one winner from the 35 comments that were left on the post.

Here are your random numbers:

28	

Timestamp: 2008-09-16 11:24:51 UTC

Shonda is the lucky winner of the paperback of Matrimony, personally inscribed by the author, book-group-friendly Joshua Henkin.  Joshua, thanks for your generosity!  Shonda, please send me your mailing address so I can pass it along.

Not a winner?  Go out and buy the book; you’ll enjoy it!

I’m so pleased to be matched with My Friend Amy for the Book Blogger Appreciation Week interview swap!  Amy is the powerhouse creative force behind BBAW, the one who brainstormed, e-mailed, posted, designed, contacted, organized, networked, etc. this amazing week of swapping stories, awards, giveaways, interviews, acknowledgements and camaraderie!

Amy managed to sneak away from the laptop for a little chat, here she is now …

She Is Too Fond of Books:  Sit down, make yourself comfortable, enjoy some green tea or fresh-squeezed lemonade, or whatever you’d like to go with these yummy ginger snaps I made for us to enjoy while we chat. 

I’ve had your blog on my reader for a few months now, and I’ve explored a bit more since we had this interview scheduled … I see that you’ve been blogging for about 3 years, and that My Friend Amy is not your only blog.  Can you tell us a bit about how you got started, what you blog about, and your other online ventures?

Amy:  I started blogging because I’ve moved around a lot and it seemed like it would be an ideal way to keep in touch with friends…unfortunately, it seems like someone gets the concept of  blogging or they don’t.  Many of my friends would rather stay in touch via facebook.  I’ve been blogging for three years and have met some wonderful people while blogging.  I enjoy it so much, that I agreed to help with the site Inspired to Action, which is a collaborative social justice blog.  The Friendly Book Nook came to be because books were taking over my personal blog.  Actually, I had a short lived book blog a couple of years ago, but I found that it was just easier to keep posting things on my main blog.  Other online ventures?  Um, I really enjoy LibraryThing and Twitter.

Your blog is not just about books.  You also share insight about God and your faith, popular culture items such as television shows and movies, as well as personal travel experiences and the random thought that grabs you.  With such great diverse subjects, do you consider your blog primarily a book blog, or is it more “Amy’s World”?

I consider my blog to be a personal blog with a healthy dose of books. 😉  I do find that I enjoy reviewing books, talking about book related subjects and TV and movies, because they are common experiences for us all.  I am a person of faith, so everything in my life is filtered through that lens. 

Tell us a little more about the blog you co-author with your mom and sister

The Friendly Book Nook!  I wanted to have a blog that was primarily books, and really make it something special!  So I asked my mom and sister to help out with it.  We are all at different life stages and I thought we’d bring a unique perspective to what we read.  One of the things I love that we’re doing right now is a series called Saturdays in the Nook (I’m not terribly creative with names!)  where authors and other book bloggers come and share pivotal early reading memories.  We are passionate about reading, and want to celebrate the culture of reading.  I’d love to get celebrities and other people of recognition involved one day.. ha.  So if anyone is reading this, email me!

Where do you blog? Any special desk or place you take a laptop to write?  What about your favorite place(s) to read?

I have a laptop and I sit on my bed and blog!  I actually really enjoy reading out in public…at a coffee shop or restaurant as well.  But truthfully, I can read anywhere but in the car (if I’m not driving)

How long have you worked in adult literacy (and English language acquisition … is that the same as ESL?)  Do you work in a classroom setting or one-on-one?  can you share one “life lesson” you’ve learned from your work?

I’ve been working in adult literacy for three years.  Prior to that, I taught English in Japan for a short while.  I work one on one..and yes ESL is the same as language acquisition!  The most important thing I’ve learned for myself is that there is no shame in failing.  In fact, failing is an important part of the learning process.

Now, what everyone wants to know … how did you come up with your great idea for BBAW?!   When did you start planning it?  What has been the most challenging and the most rewarding parts of BBAW?

You know, I spend a lot of time on blogging and reading, and work really hard to try to do my best for both the authors whose books I review and the people who read my blogs.  I even feel stressed out about it sometimes, trying to get things done in a timely manner and still giving it all a good effort, while also learning about the technical aspects of blogging.  I know that other book bloggers feel the same way!  I stumbled across an online discussion that was criticizing the rise of blog tours that charge authors to organize the tour.  The discussion was a bit condescending towards blogs and wow did I ever want to speak up!  I was mulling over that conversation when the idea for BBAW came to me.  I don’t want to argue with the people who don’t see the value of blogs, but I do think book bloggers deserve to be recognized and celebrated.  For the most part, book bloggers do this on their free time and it takes significant time.  Yet, in a culture where reading is on the decline, book bloggers are taking things into their own hands…sustaining a culture of reading, developing community around our love for the written word…investing our hours and dollars into this hobby, I don’t understand the fear. 

I think I got the idea in May or June and started planting the seeds for it to other bloggers in July.  When the infamous Huffington Post article was published and being discussed everywhere,  I outright asked on my blog if other book bloggers would support the idea.  The response was really positive, so I went forward.  I’ve been blown away by the response.  It really has enforced how positive this community is.  Apart from a few minor things, everyone has been really supportive, helpful, and kind.  And publishers, publicists, and authors have come out in support of the idea as well, which is such a blessing.  I’m amazed at how many excellent book blogs are out there with so many different specialties.

I think the most challenging thing has been to keep up with email and my other blogs during the process.  I have to admit I was relieved once the nomination process was over so I could have time to read books and blogs again!

The most rewarding has been meeting so many fantastic new bloggers and seeing everyone really come together around this idea.  What a wonderful community it really is.

OK, grab another cookie while we finish off the rest of these quick questions:

  • How much time do you read each week?  Great question.  3-4 hours a day, so um, at least 20?
  • How much time blogging?  Writing my posts, responding to comments, and doing technical stuff…maybe 10 hours a week.
  • How much time reading blogs?  Too many!  1 hour a day at least.
  • How many subscriptions in your Google Reader // how many different blogs do you visit regularly?  This is mortifying.  I don’t read all of the blogs in my reader carefully, some I just like to keep up with now and then.  I also read blogs across a wide spectrum of interests.  Ok, having said that…368. 
  • What are you reading now?  I’m about to start The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen.  She is hands down one of my favorite authors.  And she’s a blogger, so she’s tops!
  • Your favorite book – so far – that you read in 2008–Ugh, I’ve read a lot of really good ones.  Can I pick two?  The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson and A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman.  Two totally different books!

Let’s close with the most rewarding experience you’ve had in regard to your blogging 

I think the most rewarding experience has been to meet so many other people who love reading as passionately as I do, from many different walks of life, and areas of the world.  I think the most surprising thing has been how accessible authors are and how down to earth (usually) and very nice and gracious.  I’ve met some wonderful authors via e-mail like Julie Lessman and Pamela Binnings Ewen who have absolutely made my days with their kindness and the fact that they answer email!  Let me be clear…I’m not surprised that they are nice, just that they take the time to really know you.

Amy, thank you so much for taking the time to sit with me, I know how busy you’ve been with planning all the BBAW events.  Please let me extend my thanks, on behalf of the hundreds of bloggers whose lives you’ve touched!

In an interview on the Voice website, Kathleen McCleary indicates that Coffee@home, Ellen Flanagan’s coffee-and-home-funishings shop in the novel House & Home, is based on a local independent coffee shop in Virginia.  I wondered if “Hole in the Wall Books”, a setting in the novel,  had roots in a real bookstore.  Kathleen offered to write a guest post for She Is Too Fond of Books, sharing how real-life observations and her creative imagination combined to form this inviting bookstore (that I’d love to visit, if only it existed outside the novel!).  Read what she has to say about creating this fictional shop:

Several readers have mentioned that one of their favorite scenes in my novel is the scene that takes place in a little independent bookstore in Manning, Oregon, somewhere between Portland and Cannon Beach. While many of the places mentioned in the book are real (the Lazy Susan Restaurant, Paley’s Place, etc.), Hole in the Wall Books is completely a figment of my imagination. But as a lifelong bookstore aficionado, I used many bits and pieces of real bookstores in creating it.

I got the name “Hole in the Wall Books” from a used bookstore right here in Falls Church. I’ve never actually been inside Hole in the Wall, but I love the name. The exterior of the bookstore in my novel looks exactly like an antique store I used to visit in the Adirondacks, in upstate New York. The interior of the store, with comfy chairs for reading and little nooks of books, was taken from my memories of Annie Bloom’s, a lovely independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, where I used to live. My kids and I used to spend hours in Annie Bloom’s sitting on the floor and looking at books.

Another inspiration was Crawford Doyle bookstore on Madison Avenue in New York City, from which I took the old wooden floors, mix of new and used books, and friendly, knowledgeable sales people. Dottie, the bookseller in my novel, is based on my aunt, Dorothy McCleary, who has worked at Crawford Doyle for many years. (I gave Dottie some peculiarly northwest touches, though, like the nickname “Dottie” and wearing clogs!)

The idea of grouping books by place was entirely my own. As someone who has always been profoundly influenced by place – be it my house, the view out my window, my town, or my state – I loved the idea of categorizing authors by geography. The work of many writers is absolutely inseparable from the places those writers loved, in my mind. There are many authors who are so profoundly tied to places that I can’t think of them without their settings: Willa Cather (Nebraska), Isak Dinesen (Africa), James Joyce (Ireland), Mark Twain (Mississippi) – you could go on for forever. More recently, Stephanie Meyer and Washington’s Olympic peninsula seem forever intertwined now that I’ve read Twilight.

I’d love to hear about your favorite bookstores. And, I’d love to hear about the authors you associate strongly with particular places. Maybe they’ll provide fodder for my next novel!