Lovely loot from the Fall Friendship Swap


I love wandering around the cozy corners of the blogosphere and discovering spots like Kristin’s Vignettes; it’s exactly the type of warm, inviting blog I like to frequent when I’m de-stressing on my lunch break.

When I noticed Kristin was hosting a Fall Friendship Swap — a chance to connect with other bloggers and send/receive a package of fun autumn-inspired loot — I was in. I’m all about these blogger-connecting events, you know? I look forward to the Book Blogger Holiday Swap every year (and that’s how I “met” Andi)!

My partner was the lovely and talented Katie at Dusty Window Panes, a young lady who shares my passion for caffeinated beverages and photography, and I’ve enjoyed getting to “know” her since we were paired up in September! My package arrived last week bearing delicious Trader Joe’s pumpkin bread and muffin mix; green kitchen towels; awesome lavender and honey Lollia hand cream; vanilla soap; and two pieces of home decor that will be going straight in my boyfriend’s windowsill!

Thank you so much, Katie, for the thoughtful gifts — and thanks for organizing, Kristin! Hoping everyone is having a fun and fabulous fall.



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BBAW, day one: Community

You know, I never would have imagined I could find a group of people — strangers, initially — with whom I could talk about books and life and cupcakes and form these lasting friendships that have already sustained me through challenging times.

Here’s the thing about book blogging: we’re not just reviewing books. We bring to our environment a shared passion for the written word — whether that’s fantasy, romance, science fiction — and never let it go. We connect with each other over novels but come together with so much more. In fact, when I imagine the major milestones in my life — marriage, children, a new job — I often fantasize about how I’ll share the news with my book blogger buddies.

Is that weird? Maybe. But I love you guys.

Today, the first day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, we’re asked to recognize the people who have made book blogging a unique experience for us. I long consider Rebecca of The Book Lady’s Blog to be a mentor of sorts — mostly because she’s awesome, and she’s one of the first book blogs I discovered. We got our sites up and running around the same time and both worked for corporate booksellers back in 2008. A friendship blossomed and I’ve been overjoyed as her range of influence has only widened, and she’s a darn hilarious and fine person. So rock on, my friend.

Over time, you may have noticed that the quality of my photos is slowing improving . . . and I’ve worked harder to make write meg! visually pleasing. I’ve always been interested in graphic design and enjoy the coding aspects of blogging, but it’s Kay from The Infinite Shelf who really inspired me to step up my game. Her blog is both interesting and beautiful, and her photos are incredible achievements. She inspires me with her cute comics and awesome book thoughts, and I feel motivated to make changes here every time I visit.

And who do I credit with turning me onto my favorite book series of all time? Natalie of Book, Line, and Sinker, who is also a stellar friend. A few years back she encouraged me to read Megan McCafferty’s Jessica Darling series, and it wasn’t long before I rejoiced in my new book crush. I’ve remained devoted to Marcus ever since. Sloppy Firsts was probably not a book I would have picked up on my own, so I’m eternally grateful to Nat for contributing to Marcus’ and my blossoming romance.

The first person to get me to crack open a graphic novel? Credit goes to Lu from Regular Rumination, a blogger I adore. Her recommendation that I read Craig Thompson’s Blankets was perfect, and I fell in love with Thompson’s tale of first love and the way it affects the rest of our lives. His illustrations paired perfectly with the book’s emotional content, and I never thought a graphic novel could make me cry. But it did.

In January, I read several awesome works of literary fiction for the Indie Lit Awards — including Safe From The Sea, which is one of my favorite reads this year. It was a novel that surprised and moved me, and another book I wouldn’t have read if I hadn’t gotten involved in the awards process.

My friendships with book bloggers have impacted my life in countless ways, and I’m grateful for the way they’ve inspired me to try new books and branch outside my vanilla reading life. My bookshelves are heaving beneath the weight of their recommendations — and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Book Blogger Convention, year two

After much preparation and a few anxiety-ridden nights on behalf of yours truly, the Book Blogger Convention in New York City was another success! Bloggers from around the world met on May 27 at the Javits Center to meet, chat and share our passion (obsession?) with books.

Spencer and I arrived in the city the night before and, like a timid 4-year-old en route to her first day of preschool, my boyfriend was kind enough to walk me from our hotel to Javits. Shaking like a leaf, I tried to contain my nerves as he dropped me off with a reassuring hug before my 10 a.m. panel. I was nervous, as I shared — and I’ll make no bones about it. Despite feeling like I know a bit about this crazy thing called blogging, the morning was colored with my anxiety over saying something ridiculous in front of you kind people.

But it didn’t go down that way — it never goes down that way. For the many, many times I’ve sat around freaking myself out regarding public speaking, I’ve never blanked out, humiliated myself or gone on a terrible coughing jag the way I do in my imagination. I just had the morning to stew about it.

After enjoying breakfast, where I was found by the lovely Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness, I reconnected with friends and met one of my favorite publishing ladies (hi Lydia!). It’s always nice to start the day in a social way (hey, that rhymes!) — chatting with everyone is my favorite part of any blogger meet-up. Putting a face to a name (or email, or avatar) is what makes something like the BBC such a good time — it reminds us that we’re all . . . well, people. Real people. Real people who really, really like books.

Our event’s keynote speaker was Sarah Wendell, the queen blogger at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. I’ve been reading SBTB for years (and even won a David Hasselhoff prize pack from a contest there), so I was excited to hear her speak. I loved Sarah’s overall message and am kicking myself for not having paper handy (what kind of writer am I?), but it was all about keeping perspective. On one hand, she said, remember that “you are but a grain of sand.” Wise words — especially online. It’s also true, though, that “the world was made for you” — and we all have something important to say. Though millions of blogs are updated daily, no one has a truer voice — a “you”-er voice — than . . . you.

The first panel of the day was up next, so I popped out of the main room long enough to get acclimated for our “Practical Challenges of Blogging” set. Joined by Raych, Jenn, Lenore and Kristen, we discussed topics that perplex all of us — how much personal information to share online; how to manage review copies; how to interact with authors, publishers, publicists — and, I hope, provided some useful ideas. Once I got on a roll, my nerves calmed considerably — and I had a great time talking with the ladies and audience about blogging and reading, two of my favorite topics. Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful comments and questions, too; once folks started raising their hands, I knew we would be okay.

Lunch was a good sort of blur after I came down from my adrenaline high, and the build-your-own-swag bag portion of the day was up next. I was a good girl and only walked away with one book at first; I’ve been making a concentrated effort not to be a total book glutton. If my caving bookshelves weren’t enough to dissuade me from bringing in more novels, the stress of accepting slews of review copies — and the accompanying guilt — would be. This year’s bags were really cute and perfect for — you guessed it! — carrying books. Love them.

Author speed dating was my next adventure — and oh, what an adventure. Overall, I really loved this chance to meet new-to-me authors and discuss their work — and I’ve never been happier to have Alison, the friendliest and sweetest person ever, sitting across from me at an event. Without her wit and easygoing demeanor, we could have had quite the mess on our hands. Some of these authors were not playing around.

Among the many writers that took a seat at our two-blogger-team table were Chikota Webb, Anna North, Laurie Boris, Alafair Burke and Jim Higley — and it was Jim’s story that had me riveted, the one shared in the forthcoming Bobblehead Dad. By the time he finished telling us about his family and experiences with cancer, I was practically racing out of the room to grab a copy of his book. That was the fun of this event: being “sold” a book by none other than the creator him/herself. While Bobblehead Dad isn’t a book I would have chosen on my own, I read half of the memoir on the train ride home and am loving it. Life is very surprising.

And, of course, I was beyond excited to meet Krissy Gasbarre in person. Last month, I fell in love with her debut memoir How To Love An American Man , promptly decided to become her best friend and sent her a very fan-girly email. After trading notes, I decided she was one of my new favorite people. Meeting her — and gushing like a maniac — was a definite highlight of the BBC, and I can’t wait to see what else she has in store for us. I was delighted to learn that she’s just as sweet and sincere as she seems in her book, and I’m hoping great things are afoot for her. (Seriously, get that book in August — it cut right to the core of me.)

The day was wrapped up by a series of panels on blogging for a niche market and technology for blogging, and I tried to bounce between the two and snap as many photos as I could. I settled in with Heather and decompressed while reminiscing about Ireland with she and Gabriela. It was a great, chill way to end a fun and demanding afternoon, and I was thrilled to have met so many interesting people, passed out every single one of my business cards and survived my first public speaking opportunity in years. When Spencer arrived to collect me out front, I practically sagged with relief into his arms.

I’m not as fearless as I used to be. I guess huddling around my computer for hours each day has made me tentative.

But it’s made me bold, too, which shouldn’t make sense — but it does. As I shared on the panel, projecting myself as a friendly and confident person through writing has made me a friendly, confident person in real life. Sharing my life and favorite reads with you has transformed me from a bit of a stalled-out writer to a young woman ready to get out there, network and tackle the world. I’m thankful for the opportunity — and loved spending the weekend in New York. Here’s to many more bright, bold and bookish adventures!


Preparing for the BBC: Practical Challenges of Blogging

Now that I’m not coughing myself into oblivion, friends, I think it’s high time I got back on the blogging wagon and began pondering the Big Projects I have going on this spring.

After a somewhat frantic 2010, I was looking forward to cooling my jets, relaxing and not overextending myself too much in 2011. Three months in and I can already tell you, for sure, that my jets are far from cooled. They’re on fire. And one of the biggest, most exciting projects I’m planning involves the upcoming Book Blogger Convention in New York City.

Were you there last year? Was your mind blown by the informative panels and  face-to-face time with folks we know only by Gravatar or Twitter handle? Did you tweet live from the event and then write a blog about blogging, all meta-style?

I did. It was awesome.

I’ll be going this year and bringing Spencer with me to the Big Apple, and I can’t wait to visit the city again and meet so many of you — whether for the first, second or third time.

And not only that. In addition to attending this year’s BBC, I’ll actually be speaking on one of several panels happening Friday, May 27.

Gulp.

Together with the lovely and talented Raych, Jenn, Lenore and Kristen, we’ll be leading the Practical Challenges of Blogging panel from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. (lunch!). I’m very, very excited but also very, very nervous, so I’m trying to plan this methodically so I don’t stand up in front of everyone with the glassy, terrified expression of a slack-jawed nut. I mean, this is two hours, friends. Two hours of us talking to you. About things. About blogging.

Blogging.

We all have an opinion on it, obviously — we’re here doing it. Night and day. Day and night. Regardless of the weather, we’re talkin’ books and reading and authors and it’s fun.

But what happens when life keeps us from our keyboards? We all have families, spouses, children, full- or part-time jobs. We have other hobbies. We travel. We have to make dinner.

How do we accomplish it all?

As our panel puts together the topics we’ll cover at the BBC, I’d like you all to take the floor now:

Bloggers, what do you find most challenging about maintaining a book blog?


Is it managing review copies? Finding time to write thoughtful reviews? Fielding emails from other bloggers, authors, or publishers? Writing negative reviews? Or, you know, justifying to your family why you’re checking your blog stats again?

In New York, we’ll be talking about how we blog — but I’d like your input before we set foot in the Javits Center.

And just to sweeten the pot, leave a response before Tuesday, March 22 and I’ll enter you in a giveaway for Melissa Ford’s Life From Scratch, one of my favorite recent novels about — surprise! — a blogger. Just make sure I have a way to contact you!

Thank you — and see you in May?

Get holly and jolly — and join some holiday swaps!

Maybe I’m feeling flush with cash — or am just completely insane. (Probably the latter, as the former isn’t quite accurate.) Either way, I’m definitely getting into the holiday spirit early this year by participating in not one but four holiday swaps, all designed to spread good cheer to fellow bookish friends and bloggers! I had such a great time last year (and met Andi!) that I knew I had to get involved in 2010.

It’s just, you know. I can’t do anything halfway.

In addition to the Book Blogger Holiday Swap, the Broke and Bookish Secret Santa and The Neverending Shelf’s Booklovers Secret Santa, I’m going to be getting even more up close and personal with my local post office. Plus, I’m participating in a Book Bloggers Holiday Card Exchange — and will soon be offering holiday cards to write meg! visitors (details to follow!).

Yes, friends, it’s going to be a very merry holiday. Receiving boxes in the mail is tons of fun, yes, and I can’t quite express my level of excitement over getting last year’s package, but more than that is the joy of giving a gift — of figuring out what my Santee will enjoy, then getting a beautiful bundle all ready to mail to them. Mail is an obsession of mine. I mean, I send approximately 10 billion postcards a week to Postcrossing users and have joined book swap programs like BookMooch. It’s just . . . fun.

Sign ups for all four activities are still open — so jump in and participate! If money is tight, no worries at all; sign up for the holiday card exchange. You’ll pay just the cost of a card (a few dollars) and a stamp (44 cents, or 98 cents if headed to an international locale). It’ll be rewarding, promise.

 

Reading and roasting at the National Book Festival ’10

It was with no small amount of enthusiasm that I bounded up to this year’s National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., an event I’d been eagerly anticipating since having so much fun last September. But unlike last year, I didn’t go into this year’s events with a carefully-scheduled game plan. As per my recent realignment in thinking, I wanted to just play it by ear. See where the wind took us. And, you know, where we could avoid the blazing sun by ducking into one of the massive tents before the U.S. Capitol.

But because I can’t totally shy away from my OCD-like tendencies, Spencer and I wandered over to an information booth to grab a program and create a semblance of a plan for the day. Every event requires some planning, friends, or you wind up wandering aimlessly. And doing nothing in particular.

Suzanne Collins, esteemed author of The Hunger Games and, most recently, Mockingjay, was the first writer I wanted to catch. We arrived at the Teens & Children tent in time to see author Brad Meltzer finish speaking, and he was totally hilarious. Humble, self-deprecating — and he even had me in tears while recounting the story of sharing his recent children’s read, Heroes For My Son, with the very child in question.

Collins was the main event here, though, and Meltzer acknowledged that with chagrin. When she appeared following his talk, gaggles of kids began to scream as if a rock star was rising from beneath the stage in a haze of smoke and screaming guitars. A little boy and girl a few rows ahead of us cheered while waving copies of Mockingjay in the air.

It was definitely an event.

Though she never seemed visibly ill at ease, Collins didn’t exactly come across as warm and fuzzy. And while I can’t say I’d be completely comfortable, witty and charming while sweating on a stage in front of hundreds of eager faces, she didn’t really seem eager to chat with fans. While taking questions after her talk about writing life and the dangers of being too much of a voyeur — particularly in regard to reality television — she almost came across as flip, though I can’t really cite a specific example of why. As we discussed later at a book blogger dinner, I don’t think anyone walked away feeling like she’d endeared herself to them.

Since I was already sweating like a pig and it wasn’t even noon, Spencer and I decided to duck into the nearby National Gallery of Art, one of my favorite places in D.C., to cool off before seeing the main man of my hour (and day): Jonathan Safran Foer. We fortified ourselves with plenty of fluids, some turkey and soup and wandered around the gallery, taking in the sights and people watching. Lord knows some interesting folks wander those hallowed halls, and I cringed after catching a glimpse of a star-spangled fanny pack.

Not to go off on a tangent here, friends, but what’s with the fanny packs? Scores of people circled me with the ugly bags around their middles on Saturday, and I’d really believed — up until that point — that it was some myth, a total stereotype, about Americans. But not so. And I honestly don’t fancy myself some holier-than-thou fashionista, but fanny packs really make me want to gag.

But I completely digress.

I was anxious to get to the Contemporary Life tent in plenty of time for Jonathan Safran Foer’s 2 p.m. talk, so Spence and I braved the heat again after a solid two hours in blessed air conditioning. And we did — in the third row! Seating at the National Book Festival is always an adventure, especially since there’s rarely enough of it for every audience member who shows up for each author. If you resign yourself early to the fact that you’ll probably be standing most of the day, things seem to go smoother — and if you do get a seat? All the better. And getting a seat for my man Foer? Priceless.

After catching the end of Gurcharan Das, author of India Unbound, I felt an elbow nudge me. Foer had arrived on a golf cart driven by one of the festival volunteers, and he looked exactly the way I expected: in a collared shirt, casual but still classic; fitted jeans; loafers. His signature glasses and artfully unkempt hair rounded out the look, and I went all stalker/paparazzi on the poor guy by zooming in as close as possible with my point-and-shoot before he even stepped out of the sunshine. Cute, I thought. Definitely cute. Definitely still my literary crush.

But buddy was short.

Your position as Man I Most Love and Want to Smooch is safe, Spencer. In addition to being awesome in a hundred different ways, you’re taller than 5’6″. This works well for me.

I’m a tremendous fan of Foer’s fiction — which includes the stellar Everything Is Illuminated and haunting Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close — but I haven’t picked up his latest work, Eating Animals. The latter is non-fiction, see, and I’m used to Foer the Novelist — an adept guy who really pierces you in the heart through prose. Eating Animals is “a characteristically brilliant memoir-investigation, boasting an exhaustively-argued account of one man-child’s decade-long struggle with vegetarianism,” according to Amazon.

And me? Well, I like meat. Chicken, beef, turkey — you name it, I can probably ingest it. Gladly.

I wanted to gaze upon Foer’s gorgeous mug but didn’t want to be lectured like a 2-year-old, told in no uncertain terms that the way I live is immoral, unhealthy or both. I’m open to new ideas, yes, but I was afraid that given the controversial nature of a book dealing with, well, eating animals, I was in for some uncomfortable talk.

But that wasn’t to be, thankfully. Nor did my fears that he’d be aloof, condescending or “above it all” come to pass. I found Foer to be interesting, which I expected — but also approachable, which I did not. Hearing him read passages from the book regarding his grandmother, a survivor of the Holocaust, was moving — and, as always, I was sucked right in by his language. With one foot crossed over the other at the podium, Foer seemed remarkably comfortable and happy to engage in “conversation,” as he called it, when the crowd was prompted for questions. He answered each thoughtfully, especially when asked by a woman in the audience for the meat industry’s reaction to Eating Animals. His response? There was no response from the industry, actually, which disappointed him.

And I’m pretty sure Foer could read me the street names from a road atlas and I’d be all ears, panting and embarrassing myself in front of my own boyfriend.

But now, now — I was a good girl. No panties were thrown. It was tough, friends, but I managed to not act like a raving lunatic. And though I probably won’t be converting to vegetarianism anytime soon, Foer stressed that stopping the practice of eating meat is not what he’s advocating; it’s ending the cruelty of animals, limiting our intake of certain foods that could harm us, and so forth. Basically, stuff that pretty much everyone can agree is a good thing — whether you’re carnivore, omnivore; male, female; human, robot.

Or, well, not robot; robots don’t eat. But let’s roll with it.

So basically, Foer was awesome fun — and I even spotted Jamie of The Broke and the Bookish in the crowd after seeing her updates on Twitter! She snagged a great place in line to meet Foer later at his book signing and recapped her experience here. Yeah, that sickly green tint to my skin? It’s jealousy. Pure jealousy. Outshone only by the slight sunburn I got that day.



Spencer and I veered off the beaten path after Foer’s talk, winding our way over to E Street to check out Penn Camera. Back at the festival an hour or so later, we snagged seats in the Poetry & Prose tent for authors Allegra Goodman, author of The Cookbook Collector, and Jane Smiley, well known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Thousand Acres, among others. Goodman was funny and sweet, talking about her writing process and inspiration behind her latest novel, and even copped to being a collector of cookbooks while never actually cooking any dishes. Smiley was interesting, too, though her very long reading from Private Life, her latest novel, began to melt my brain after a while. It was really hot. I was really tired . . . and getting confused. But it was fun all the same.

We wrapped up our day downtown by hoofing it over to the Elephant & Castle, where we met up with some fabulous book bloggers and partook in some “adult beverages,” as Swapna put it! My skin finally cooled while talking books with some lovely ladies and fellow book bloggers, and again I was struck by how immediately comfortable I am with my bookish friends. Conversation flowed easily as we talked about everything under the sun: our own blogs; our “real” jobs; our families; our homes. Audio books. Favorite authors. Modern-day “classics.” It was wonderful seeing Celeste, Cecelia, Candace, Deborah, Heather, Sondra, Swapna and Julie, and I was equally excited to introduce Spencer to the group. Now he knows this whole “blogging” thing is for real! (See photos of all of us at dinner.)

Thanks, ladies, for a great evening — and thanks to the Library of Congress for a great event. By the end of the day I was sweaty, sticky and exhausted, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Thanks, too, to my dad for driving us all the way downtown — then picking us back up at the end of the night! He’s a trooper, just like my patient boyfriend. Thanks for spending a humid, book-filled day with me, Spence. I know I still owe you for The Pioneer Woman, but you know I’m good for it.

Many (many!) more of my photos from the event are up on Flickr.



 

How blogging has made my life pretty awesome

When I started write meg! in June 2008, I was a quiet(er) 22-year-old working for three newspapers in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. As an assistant editor, my duties were relegated to putting together a variety of sections for my employer, including but not limited to pieces on real estate, automotive trends and local businesses.

Now, I still do those things — but I do about a hundred other things, too. Creative things. I now write a biweekly column that reaches tens of thousands of people in my community and has been, to date, one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Beyond that, I can now walk into a room full of people I don’t know and barely break a sweat. I’ve shaken the hands of countless folks whom I “know,” and who know me, and have had some truly awesome conversations — online and off. I speak and walk confidently; I write more, and better. I feel like I’m making a difference, even if it’s small.

And yes, I’m going to attribute it all to blogging.

Because we have not the time nor interest to discuss the changing nature of the newspaper business, a subject that has been covered by far more intelligent and braver people than me, I’ll give you a short synopsis of what the changing nature of my newspaper business has meant: with the expansion of the Internet and online resources (which are great), we still need a way to bring readers back to the print editions of our publications and keep them viable.

And a columnist position opened up in our company.

I’ve made no secret of my blogging activity, though I didn’t used to go out of my way to advertise write meg! with friends, family and associates. Once upon a time, I thought my blog would be like an online diary — a place I stored my thoughts anonymously, and definitely not something I would want my “real life” cohorts to know about.

Well, I was wrong — on many levels. Blogging has never been a private pursuit for me, just in the way that writing has never been a private pursuit for me. Quite frankly, I love an audience. I’m a drama queen. I enjoy having a place to write about whatever I wish and then get feedback — mostly positive, some negative — on what I’m saying.

I write because I love it, yes, and because I can’t imagine doing anything else. But I don’t write in a vacuum. And though I like the sound of my own voice, more than that? I like the sound of my own voice in conversation. I love talking. I love feedback. I thrive on discourse.

And I swear I’m not as cocky as I sound right now.

When the columnist position opened up at work, I was doing some enjoyable but decidedly non-creative things at the papers. Because one of my coworkers knew I was a blogger who wrote regularly, this got reported back to one of our managers. And one of those managers, presumably, checked out my site — this site. And thought I’d be a good fit for the job.

A job I now have — and love. In addition to my editing duties at work, I get paid twice a week to write about things I love — anything and everything, but mostly myself, growing up and learning. I get “recognized” in the community, have stories hanging on the wall of my old elementary school as a “notable alum,” and field phone calls and emails from folks who call themselves “my fans.” Some of those are real letters, handwritten and addressed. To me. And what do they say? They look forward to my column. It brightens their day. It makes them think differently.

That makes me feel incredible.

I’m not going to tell you a sob story about how I was stuck in a rut before blogging, before my column, before Spencer, before this life. But I will say that I was struggling mightily to find a place to channel my creativity and do something more. I talk about that often: doing something more. And if I’d never started blogging for myself, I wouldn’t now be writing publicly for anyone else. At work, I might still be in that quiet vacuum. I might still be the old me.

Book Blogger Convention was a really big step for me — I mean, I went to New York City for the weekend! To meet people face-to-face with whom I’d only ever emailed! And everyone was really nice and exactly the way I expected, which was awesome. (And I met Jessica from Cover To Cover when we were both randomly in San Diego. And countless other lovely folks at last year’s National Book Festival. And the list goes on.)

And my social anxiety didn’t cripple me, threatening to keep me locked up in a tiny space for all eternity. I branched out and talked. I made introductions. I tried not to look awkward. And I hope — hope — it worked. (Y’all are still talking to me, so I guess I didn’t freak you out too badly.)

The confidence I’ve gained through meeting people online and forming friendships is what allowed me to join OkCupid, the dating site through which I met Spencer. With the encouragement of friends and my parents, I realized that no, not everyone on the Internet is a raging psychopath poised to shank us. I mean, look at all of us! We’re awesome! We talk all the time, friends, and all on the Internet! It’s crazy. It’s amazing. And it was the knowledge that people are often the same “in real life” as they are through the web that allowed me to push my anxiety off and meet Spence. (And I’m darn happy, let me tell you.)

This is a long post and I apologize — but this is all to say that basically, blogging has made my life awesome. Thank you for the countless emails, Twitter replies, comments and shows of support, large or small. It’s through the people I’ve met, the experiences we’ve shared, the things we’ve accomplished and the confidence I’ve gained that has enriched my life in countless, countless ways.

And thanks for these, because I don’t know if I said it boldly enough early; I get teary-eyed looking at them. Congratulations to Jen at Devourer Of Books and Steph Su of Steph Su Reads, the winners in our categories — y’all rock, as do the many, many talented folks who contribute to our wonderful book blogosphere as a whole! Happy Book Blogger Appreciation Week to everyone. Here’s to the happy, bookish and delightful years to come.