Armchair BEA: Surprise Giveaway

Thank you Armchair BEA!  I was notified yesterday that I was one of two winners of a surprise giveaway.  I will receive a blogger’s conference tote with swag.  Yay me!

Thanks again to all the organizers.

Armchair BEA: It’s a Wrap!

It’s a wrap!  My first Armchair BEA is over.  I had a fantastic time – even though my participation was limited to the daily posts.  I read so many new great blogs and met great people.  I was tentative about this event when I first came across it and am so glad I decided to participate.  It was well organized, the topics provided much room for writing, and everyone was enthusiastic and supportive.

Overall, this was a very positive and encouraging experience.  I look forward to participating in more events next year.  Thank you to the organizers and all the people that took the time to visit, read and/or comment.

Armchair BEA: Ask for Advice and Give a Tip

Today’s Armchair BEA post is designed for less experienced bloggers (like me) to ask a question about blogging and for more experienced bloggers to share advice.

I feel like I’ve read so much information already throughout this conference, that I’m finding it difficult to formulate questions.  But, there are a few:

1.  How do you know that the questions at the end of your post will prompt discussion?

2.  Does a blogging schedule work for you or do you post at random, whenever fancy strikes?

3.  Do you tend to return a “follow” automatically, or check out a blog before doing so?

4.  How do I create a cool button and header image?

I am by no means an experienced blogger, but I have learned to stay true to me, find my own voice/writing style – a phony is easy to spot.  And, read what I like. This was a tough one at first because I thought I had to read what was current and all the rage.  Not so – that’s what makes this so much fun.  These same pieces of advice have been echoed in other blogs, particularly, Heather @ Between the Covers and A Bookworm’s Life.

Thanks for everyone who visited this week.  Hope all of this back and forth won’t end with the conclusion of Armchair BEA.

Armchair BEA: Beyond the Blog

Yesterday’s topic:  Beyond the Blog.  At this point in my blogging venture my gains have been entirely personal.

Books: I find myself reading things I would not have normally read.  I teach many classics during the day…so I certainly would not have sat myself down to read classic literature in my free time.  I am doing just that and (for the most part) am enjoying it…I have found a few books that I would love to bring into the classroom.  I am reading literature I never would’ve tried before: historical fiction and thrillers. 

Blogging: I had always heard about blogs.  I knew people wrote blogs.  But I had no idea what this whole business was about.  I felt like an infant blindly navigating wordpress and becoming giddy when I discovered how to insert images or add hyperlinks.  It was a peculiar mixture of exhilaration and feeling pathetically outdated.  Nonetheless, I happily continue in my writing and blogging journey.

Blogs: In my real life, I discuss teaching strategies, classroom management strategies, literacy scores, and of course, the books we teach.  Rarely, do we get the chance (or, create the chance) to truly discuss the books we’ve read that we love – it’s always about the job.  I am learning so much from this community of book bloggers and writing bloggers.  There is a wealth of knowledge in every blog I read.  I love hearing the passion in your writing about books and writing.  I’ve always felt like a bit of a nerd for my love of literature, reading and writing…but in this space it feels fantastic.

Social Media: I only started on Facebook a year ago. The main purpose was to keep in touch with family in Colombia and U.S. I realize that linking facebook to my blog is probably a good idea, but I’m not comfortable with having my two worlds collide.  I may have to start a facebook page just for writing and blogging – perhaps when I have more time (because of course more time will just spontaneously arrive).  I started with Twitter about a year ago as well.  I wasn’t really sure how to use it or what the purpose of it was.  Honestly, it wasn’t until my husband began to tweet that I understood its potential.  I love reading Twitter, catching up on tweets and all the interesting news and information posted.  My own challenge is to tweet more (again, when more time is magically created for me).

The Courage to Write More: creating my blog brought me back to my first love: writing.  I love teaching; adolescents are hilarious and make for some pretty fantastic stories, but my real passion lies in writing.  My blog has proven to me (if I may), that I’m good at it, that I can reach others with what I write.  And, so it has given me the courage to call myself a writer, to start sending out queries and familiarizing myself with the writing game.  Perhaps it might turn into a career change or at the very least, an opportunity to do more of what I love in different arenas.

 How have you moved Beyond the Blog? Looking forward to reading responses here and on your own blogs.

Armchair BEA: Networking

This discussion of Armchair BEA is all about Networking.

This is a new experience for me…not just blogging, but networking.  I am a friendly, outgoing person who strives to make all those I come in contact with feel comfortable and at ease.  However, when it comes to putting myself “out there”, when it comes to promoting myself or what I love to do (read/write), when it comes to asking others for help in getting me “in the game”…I am absolutely terrible.  Terrible. 

Starting my blog nine months ago was step one.  Finding other bloggers and commenting on their posts and sites was step two.  And then, they responded…I heard back from like-minded people and I was floored.  Other people actually cared about what I had to say…I loved it.  So, my “networking” just sort of happened.

I am motivated to continue networking when I see increased traffic to my site and I come across awesome people online.  I’m concentrating my efforts by joining weekly memes, seeking out other blogs and commenting, being more active on Twitter, and just generally getting my blog seen.

In my career as an English teacher, I discuss books and writing all day long without “plugging” my blog since I want this to be separate from my teaching career.  I tried joining a book club a while back, but everyone was so busy there were never any meetings, and it all just fell apart.  So as far as “real” people are concerned, my networking is essentially non-existent.

Having said that, I’ve met and am meeting people that I highly respect and admire online.  There are so many versatile, fresh, inspiring book and writing bloggers that I feel this is the forum for me.  

I was inspired by all the little bits on networking I’ve read at Armchair BEA, so I contacted a book blogger I love to see if he will feature me on his “Friends” page.  Haven’t heard back yet, but the lesson is…it never hurts to ask!

My only tip for networking as of yet is not to stop blogging, reading and commenting.  And, Tweet often.  I’m sure there are other more efficient ways to network, for now this seems to be working for me.