105 Ways to Give a Book

Click vs. Clique

Let me tell you a little personal story.

As a teen, I went to a private school for a couple of years, and then transfered into the public high school in tenth grade. A lot of the friendships were already signed, sealed and delivered by then — especially as my community generally involved people who had never ever moved. I may have been the only new girl out of two hundred tenth graders. Having trouble finding my people, I ended up with a unique crowd of artsy folk. And things were okay.

But in eleventh grade, I found that my group didn’t really fit me anymore. Some of them had gone from artsy to druggy. Some were heading to the VoTech school for half the day, while I was staying after for music and theater.

So I set my sights on a group of girls who were also into music and theater. It wasn’t necessarily easy. I’d talk to them in homeroom, but if I walked out to our lockers with them, they’d start leaving me out of the conversations. Then I could walk to the lockers, but if I walked down the hall with them, they’d talk about people I didn’t know. Then I could walk down the hall, but I knew I couldn’t sit at lunch with them. I just knew. But by the end of my private campaign, I was not only in the group, but a trend-setter within it.

Additionally, each day I’d go home and tell my mom of my progress in a detached way. I didn’t get bent out of shape that they didn’t embrace me from day one. Why would they? They didn’t even know me. If I wanted to be part of the group, then it was up to me — not them — so I made the effort. I remembered to cut out the article from Seventeen about the cute actor that one of the girls liked. I always had an extra pencil on hand to share. I may have made a mix tape.

Didn’t my feelings get hurt sometimes? Sure. But that’s life. These girls weren’t actively mean. They didn’t say nasty things to me, but they weren’t going to make me their new best friend just because I wanted it. I had to prove that we had something in common, that I’d add something to the equation, that I was... worthy, I guess. It didn’t hurt that I was talented in our shared interests of music and theater, but that wasn’t enough really.

There had to be that “click factor.” Not “clique factor.”

Now put that whole experience in with the blogging world, and you’ll get my point. It parallels my own experience in blogging almost perfectly. Instead of “music and theater,” it’s “books and reading.” Instead of “talk to them,” it’s “comment.” Instead of “my mom” it’s “my husband.” Instead of “article in Seventeen,” “extra pencil,” and “mix tape,” it’s “emailed them about something kid-lit-related,” “linked to a great post,” and “started the 48 Hour Book Challenge.”

And you know what? I’m still doing it. I keep up with my kid-lit peeps, but I still reach out there. I comment on Surburban Turmoil, though she’s never mentioned me. When Defective Yeti — an A-list blog — had a contest, I played and I told people about it and he mentioned me for it and I probably got some new readers.

Now when I opened up my interview question meme yesterday, one person said they’d do it. ONE. What a great chance that was for a blog who wanted some face time to get attention, because I went over to Zee Librarian to look at her blog. And lo and behold I saw this cool thing she had done with her young adult display. I found she writes about movies too, which I love, and I’ll certainly be back to visit her. That’s how you do it, people.

Am I saying that the kidlitosphere is like high school? Noooo. I’m saying that all of life is like high school — in a way. Things become more refined, sometimes. But if you need proof, look at who society pays — athletes and actors (beautiful people).

I bring this up, because Monica brought it up and wanted some feedback. I commented there, and at Fuse#8, where I originally saw the post. She didn’t mention my article on how to be a B-list blogger specifically, but she did reference the A-list, B-list status thing. My idea in writing that article was to tell other blogs how to get out themselves out there — assuming that’s their goal. It doesn’t have to be.

As for Monica’s related point of how to teach our children within classrooms and literature and parenting about not excluding people, I’ll teach my daughters not to depend on everyone else being nice and fair, because life isn’t nice and fair. However, be nice and be fair. I’ll teach my daughters to be proactive about their destiny, not reactive. Oh, and that friendships — even blog and literary friendships — take effort, time, and often that “click factor.” And that’s not the same as “clique factor.”


Robin Brande said...

What a great story. Obviously you were far more self-possessed than many high schoolers. I admire you for how you handled this.

It's good you are a mother and not just a reader, because these are the kinds of lessons children need to have passed along.

Kelly said...

MR: Excellent post. In general, all your comments also have been reasoned and smart. Thanks!!

Susan said...

hey, MR. Good post! I just said something much less coherent but similar at another blog.

jules said...

This is great. Excellent. I've started about three different responses to Monica's original post this morning, all eventually deleted. Not angry, mind you. I'm just baffled, esp. with the Poetry Friday thing. Poetry Friday is a glorious thing, for anyone who wants to participate. It has been or could be seen as clique-ish? Huh?

Anyway, thanks. Good discussion.

Barbjn said...

Pam, I thought about responding to your request. I actually love to answer questions. Don't ask me why. Just always have.

But I tend to go back and forth with feeling confident enough in this blogging world to do things like that and still feeling like a newcomer who watches things from the outside. Part of that is because I am much older that the average bear, and this web world still mystifies me and makes me feel like a dummy. An old dummy.

Here is an honest confession: I don't get all of the terms that people use. Like Meme. Like how to do labels and tags. Hell, it wasn't too long ago that I finally figured out how to get that whole link thing down in the body of my post. I have found that I LOVE blogging. It reminds me of when I was keeping a diary back in the middle ages. But computers and web stuff are like a car to me--I can drive it around like any fool, yet I wouldn't have a clue how to change the damn oil.

So maybe there are some like me who are minimally web savvy and who would like to participate, but we need younger, hipper bloggers like you to walk us through things a little. Or to bolster our confidence.

Hey--that is not unlike watching the "cool" girls in High School, but not having the confidence enough as you did to walk right up and jump in.

So here I am. The new girl in school. No, wait. Too old. The new something else. Teacher? Secretary? Well, you know what I mean. OK, so maybe I can't sit at the lunch table. Maybe I have to be the cafeteria lady or lunchroom monitor.

I want to dance, too. I just don't know all of the movements (and I don't want to look foolish out on the dance floor).

You can throw me the questions. I think. Still. What the hell is a meme?

Jennifer Schultz said...

I think a lot of this has to do with why you blog and what you want to accomplish with your blog. Those site meters and Technorati stats can be tbe devil if you rely heavily on them to judge your success.

Participating in Poetry Friday and the Carnival is easy. If they accept my posts, they'll link to anyone! ;-)

MotherReader said...

Thanks guys.

Robin, I was pretty self-possessed, I suppose, but no less full of angst. I did get my feelings hurt when I was excluded or ignored. And I can see how someone could equate it to blogging. Why, just the other day I commented at Brotherhood 2.0 and I was the only one to actually answer the question about possible fund ideas, and did John answer in the comments? No. Were my feelings hurt? No. Well, okay, yes. A little. But maybe he didn't see it or didn't like the idea or wanted to think it over or tons of other things. I'll keep going back there to visit because I like what he's got going on, even though it feels like a YA club over there. A little bit. But that's my deal, not his.

I love answering questions too. I'll send you some.
Per your question, meme's are basically series of questions that get passed from blog to blog. You can "tag" someone with a meme (like "tag, you're it), though it seems to be generally Not Done that way in the kidlitosphere. (Why? I think because meme's have tended to be personal and many kidlit blogs shy away from personal info. Me, I love personal info.) Where is your blog, because it's not linked from your comment?

Kaz, you didn't comment here (yet) but I apologize for saying that only ONE blog had asked for my questions. I hadn't seen your comment then. My bad.

Jennifer Schultz said...


Recently, there's been a rash of books published on blogging. Several of the more recent ones have been focused on the corporate world, which is really embracing the importance of blogging. However, there are lots of things in them that are very helpful for the nonprofit or personal blog.

These are the ones I found very useful when starting my blog:

Buzz Marketing With Blogs for Dummies by Susannah Gardner

Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That's Changing the World by Hugh Hewitt

The Everything Blogging Book by Aliza Sherman Risdahl

The Rough Guide to Blogging by Jonathan Yang

Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing the Way Businesses Talk to Customers by Robert Scoble

The Corporate Blogging Book: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know To Get It Right by Debbie Weil

Not very useful, but funny:
The Lost Blogs: From Jesus to Jim Morrison, The Historically Inaccurate and Totally Fictitious Cyber Diaries of Everyone Worth Knowing by Paul Davidson

If you're using Blogger, Publishing a Blog With Blogger by Elizabeth Castro is very helpful.

Barbjn said...

Pam, my blog is:


Blogger used to link to it, but now it won't.

Jennifer Schultz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer Schultz said...

Sorry, that was my deleted comment. I wish Blogger had a way to edit comments, instead of having to delete them.

Barbara, your blog is great-I'm bookmarking so that I can go back and read it.

Re: tags. I think many of the kitlit bloggers use Blogger, which makes it very easy to use tags. You just type in the description, and it automatically creates it.

Becky said...

As for Monica's related point of how to teach our children within classrooms and literature and parenting about not excluding people, I'll teach my daughters not to depend on everyone else being nice and fair, because life isn't nice and fair. However, be nice and be fair. I'll teach my daughters to be proactive about their destiny, not reactive. Oh, and that friendships - even blog and literary friendships - take effort, time, and often that "click factor." And that's not the same as "clique factor."

This is my third comment on the whole issue...but I'm writing different ones at each site...I just wanted to voice my agreement. You can't live life waiting for others to come and seek you out...draw you out...befriend you. Sometimes you have to make the effort and say "Hi" first. You have to be the one to start conversations. And compared to high school and real life, it's relatively easy to do in the blogging world.

Perhaps I'm just older and wiser than I was in school, but the online community doesn't seem as intimidating as the real-life high school crowd did. Anyone else find that true??? While I admire your personal determination, there are many that are just too shy or too insecure to handle themselves like that. (Better to be alone by choice than to try and to fail.)

And if you're looking for more volunteers to throw interview questions to...count me in.

Keetha said...

Very apt - thanks for sharing. Another interesting blogging book is "No One Cares What You Had for Lunch," by an author whose blog I read only now I've lost the name! I haven't read it but plan to buy it before NaBloPoMo.
I've just discovered your blog and am enjoying it!

Mrs. K said...

As a middle school teacher, I often reflect on the intersection between teen anxiety and adult identity. I once wrote an essay on the subject that read, in part:

"Seeing young teens can conjure up emotional memories of our own awkwardness; our first unrequited crush; our first period; that rumor that raced through homeroom. I happen to love the company of thirteen-year-olds -- their developing sense of justice, their dramatic identity shifts, their intellectual excitement, their barely masked hope that you will like them and take them seriously as people -- but even I don't want to be resurrected as a pubescent.

Last year I took a group of students camping. The contracted wilderness instructor acted brusquely almost immediately toward one of my girls – a unabashed fashion diva. The counselor dripped with sarcasm at every encounter, until the girl asked me, “Why does she hate me? What did I do?” Alone on a canoe with the woman, I gently probed, and almost before my eyes she became a thirteen-year-old herself, threatened by a “popular” girl, feeling desperately uncomfortable in her own skin. How much of our adult insecurity is rooted in our middle school selves?

. . . I felt guilty for years about an event or two from 8th grade. Nothing note-worthy – but what seemed big at that age imprinted and remained life-sized in my consciousness. Until one day a few years back . . .

. . . I was on a Washington DC trip with my 8th graders. On our third day – a 70-degree, blue sky, cherry blossom day – two girls approached me nervously. “We think Z is cutting. Actually, we know she is. She did it last night in our room.” And they spilled out all that they knew. I thanked them -- it takes courage to come to an adult in these moments – and I told them it was off their plate now. I spoke to Z, called her mom, arranged for a flight home. The cab ride from Bethesda to Dulles has its own soundtrack in my memory: achingly fragile. Z sat next to me, reluctant to talk but not so reluctant for my company. And as I looked at her, she became me – thirteen and yearning for an adult to talk, to take me seriously, to help carry my worries. Look how small she is, how new, how complex, how beautiful. And I thought the Deborah of thirteen wouldn’t want me to still be carrying around her insecurities – she expected more from the promise of growing up. Somehow that night, I began to embrace her, and I began to let her go.

Barbjn said...

Jennifer, thanks for the nice comments and the great book ideas! Those suggestions should continue to support my amazon habit very nicely!

And thanks, Pam, for the answer.
Well, I didn't get much work done today, but I feel like less of a web dummy.

Kelly said...

Oh, Becky, how I agree with you! As someone who was totally a "geek," I find the kidlitosphere to be a welcoming, fun place to be. To talk about books and life and whatnot.

bookbk said...

MotherReader, I really liked your B-list article and what you're saying here. I commented at Monica's but I'm not sure how coherent it was (or how coherent this one is, for all its length!)

I agree with all the people who are saying that bloggers (kidlit or any kind) need to think about what their goal is. I've had a personal blog for a few years; it's never hit it big, and at this point I don't have many readers, but I've gained a huge amount of confidence in my writing and made some real friends through that blog.

I do think Monica brought up some important things to think about: aside from the plain human importance of being kind to people, blog communities can get insular, and that ultimately hurts the "in-crowd" bloggers as well as the newbies. Fresh voices keep a community strong. Your article felt more like it was about helping those fresh voices get heard than about keeping things insular.

As a new blogger in the kidlitosphere, I don't expect to have a lot of readers right away; I expect to have to work and post steadily and participate in conversations if I want people to connect with what I'm writing. But I've been surprised and really happy to feel welcomed as quickly as I have. I think this is a pretty inclusive community. (Of course, there might be people who don't feel that way; I don't know enough yet to know them, though.)

Kate said...

MotherReader, first I have to say I LOVE your blog! You can probably tell I check it several times a day (I check blogs while I nurse my son, so it's a fairly regular thing). But, here's something funny. Maybe this will lighten things up a bit.

My brother is a college student. For them, apparently, blogging isn't as popular as it is here in the kidlitosphere. Here's a conversation we had this week:

I asked my brother if he reads my blog, and he said yes but not in the last couple of weeks.
I said, "So you know how good it is and how I update it a lot."
He said, "Yeah, you're one of the few people who still updates their blog."
I said, "Oh, so the fad is over amongst the college kids . . . maybe that makes me more hip since I update my blog."
He said, "I think the hip thing now is not to update your blog."
I said, "You know that part of Entertainment Weekly, where they say "In, Out, Five Minutes Ago?"
He said he did, and according to him:
In: Letting your blog die
Out: Starting a blog
Five Minutes Ago: Updating your blog

gail said...

Kelly said, "I find the kidlitosphere to be a welcoming, fun place to be."

I've been a real member of other on-line "communities" that were no where near as interactive as the kidlitblogger community has been this last year or two. (There weren't a great many blogs before that.) And this is very much an ad hoc community that just sort of grew up. As MotherReader said in a comment at Fuse#8 today, there is variety and readers can pick and choose what they want.

Liz B said...

My two cents in terms of blogging "how tos". In addition to what everone else said. What I did (and assume others do) was read blogs (I read for months before starting mine), including going into their archives to get an idea of depth. I'm self-taught (and self making tons of mistakes) for a lot of this.

If you're not sure about some of the tech things, try a class. I used to teach "how to" blogging classes that were about six hours long (time commitments have made me temporarily stop). While that may sound too long, it covered a ton of stuff, both about "why" blogging and "how to" and blog mannes and the like. Let me plug the local library: find out about your library's computer classes, see if they offer blogging, if they don't, request it

Bill Coughlan said...

Hey, wait a minute... letting your blog die is in?

Woo-hoo! I win!

Chris said...

I found your blog through Bookseller Chick yesterday. The thing about blogging is that you have to 'find' people. Sorry I didn't comment before, but I didn't know you were there! I guess I'm not hip b/c I'm a new blogger. Never was a trendsetter. I liked your "B-list" post. I thought it was very helpful for the new blogger. You don't want to be yelling into the wind. You want SOMEONE to read it. But, you're right, you have to put some effort into it.

Oh and I added my "C-list" widget to my page. I'm not ashamed of it!

PJ Librarian said...

As with most things in daily life these days, I'm a bit late in reading and commenting. But, I do have to say what a balanced way of looking at blogging and life. Well said.

Nancy said...

MR, as always I am in humble awe of how you express your thoughts.

I agree with your points. But I can also see how it can be intimidating for new bloggers, or for bloggers who don't feel they can be as witty or in-step as many of the others they admire, to feel like they're part of a blogging community. It's not the fault of the community! -- but that doesn't make it easier for the shy blogger.

zeelibrarian said...

MR, Thanks for visiting Zee Says! I am going to post some new pictures of the green display when I get the chance.

I liked your story, and I am still agreeing with you. If you want to get noticed you have to put forth the effort.

But . . . hopefully we are blogging because it bring joy to our lives and not to achieve fame. I know I am repeating what others have said. But I did find it kind of sad that you kept trying to get the attention of these girls. Did they value you? I know you are trying to make a point, and I am getting all emotional over it. But I hope you found friendships that required less work later on:-)

Jennifer said...

This is great. I relate to this on many levels--yes, today, making contacts/friends/deeper contacts with those in the blogworld, but the greater idea of making friends as well--whether you are in high school or a 36 year old mom of two. It takes effort, and the effort is usually quite worth it.

MotherReader said...

To everybody, thanks for commenting and for the kind words. Some particulars I need to say:

Jennifer, you rock! What great resources for new bloggers! (I owe you an email. sorry.)

Barbjn, Oh, that Barb jn! I know you. But I didn't recoginize your signature. Thanks for playing.

bookbk, I'm glad that you found the article helpful and I'm also glad that you could see that my whole point was to tell fresh voices how to get heard.

Nancy, you're actually a good example for me of someone who made her way into the community by commenting, participating, and starting discussions. Shy or not, that's how you do it.

ZeeLibrarian, I agree with you about blogging for the joy of it, but for most people that involves being read. My article offered basic strategies for being a bigger part of the community and getting more readers. The B-list is just an arbitrary bench-mark. It's certainly not fame. Believe me on that. And as for the girls of my high school days, yes they did value me and we became best friends. They weren't giving me a hard time because they were mean. They were wary because I was new to them, they had been a group for a while, and we lived in an area where new people were rare. I just had the presence of mind to realize that I had to most into the situation slowly and not take offense so quickly. The story relates very well to moving into the blogging community, or any group really.

Jennifer Schultz said...

MR, you are too kind.

Barbara-try the library for those books! All of those books were available at my library and a neighboring library system. Actually, most of those books came from a neighboring library system (Prince William County).

Robin Brande said...

Mrs. K, wow. What incredible experiences. Thanks for sharing. I love the company of the young, too. It's so easy for some adults to dismiss them as unformed. But as your stories showed--and as most of us know ourselves--we hold on to so much of the thirteen-year-old version of us even when we're older and can pass for wiser.

And Mother Reader, thanks again for your story and for getting this topic out there so we can hash it out.

adrienne said...

I love this story.

I also enjoyed your original article immensely. If one wants one's blog to be read by a large number of people, one must do work. There's no question, and your article offers great advice to bloggers who are trying to get more attention.

What I keep meaning to say about your article -- what I think is truly the most interesting bit -- is that I love how you've got things worked out with your editor. I’ve GOT to get this figured out in my own life….

cloudscome said...

I love this post. You are absolutely right, it takes work to develop a readership. And it is worth it to be part of the conversations! It's not about popularity but about making friendships and networking with other people who love kid's lit. There are so many voices/blogs, no one has time to read them all. I have really appreciated the advice you've given me. Thinking over what you've shared with me and working on it has made my blog and my writing much better over time. I've never experienced any cliques or mean spirits of exclusion in the kidlit blogs. From what I see newcomers are always welcomed. Learning the technology is often daunting but learning with other people is fun... It just takes courage and enthusiasm.

Anonymous said...

I found you by accident. I was looking for a personal story about cliques for a high school advisory curriculum I'm in the process of developing. But, as a mother and an avid reader, AND a blogger, I was quite taken with this post. Similarly to Barbjn, I feel rather incompetent when it comes to the technical aspects of blogging. I appreciate the subsequent comments that shed some light on this. Thanks, MotherReader. I'll be back....Melissa

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Anonymous said...

Interesting. I'm in the same situation as you were before. I'm in grade 11 and I'm trying to make new friends because I feel that my group doesn't fit me anymore either. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!