Walrus Publishing, Inc.

Books & Blogging

Tif SweeneyBy Tif Sweeney

It was the year 2007.  I was living in a small town, preparing myself to move a few states away.  Many of my friends began to blog in order for us all to stay updated on our lives.  I was not keen about putting personal details about my family and in particular, my children on the web for all to see.  However, I was very keen on writing about something.  After all, I have been writing for as long as I can remember … short stories, poetry, newsletter articles … and I was interested in expanding my writing skills in a new medium.  When I began brainstorming what I wanted to write about, I went with the one thing that I can talk about for hours and hours:  books.

On that afternoon in late May, I wrote my first book review for Tif Talks Books (http://www.tiftalksbooks.com):  Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling.  I had just finished teaching an elective course on the book at the local university and the final installment of the much-anticipated series was soon-to-be released.  I could not think of a better book to start with than a series that I fell so deeply in love with from the start.

Since then, I have written a number of reviews.  I have shared discussion articles related to books, reading, and literacy in general.  I shared my love through children’s picture books, young adult novels, literary and genre fiction, and graphic novels; essentially, stories for the entire family.  I then began participating in other bookish events around the blogosphere, even assisting in creating one of the largest events for book bloggers on the web (Armchair BEA http://www.armchairbea.com/ — an event founded in 2010 for bloggers around the world to experience Book Expo America from the comfort of their own homes).  I even expanded into freelance writing and began connecting to my local authors, all thanks to that fateful day in late May.

Today, it has been almost six years later, and I continue to write on my site.  I still write reviews, but focus on only those I love and will encourage you to read.  I still love to talk books in whatever ways I dream up.  However, my focus has expanded.  I now also talk about writing.  I assist in sharing the love and importance of literacy in general.  My Armchair BEA team will be celebrating its fourth year of helping to connect others in the blogging community, from bloggers to authors and publishers, shooting for more than 750 participants in 2013.  With a focus on the younger crowd, I will also be a daily host this year for “Share a Story, Shape a Future” (http://www.share-a-story-shape-a-future.net/), an annual online event that is celebrating five years of spreading literacy love to all those with children in their lives.  And, I have a lofty goal to finish my first novel by year-end.

In those six years, I have lived in three different locations.  My family has grown.  I went from a working mother to a stay-at-home mom, and back to a working mother.  I have grown as a writer.  I have learned the ropes of the online community.  I have established connections in the writing world that have changed me forever.  And, I have discovered that writing is an essential part of my life that has helped to ground me in an ever-changing world.  I found support, encouragement, inspiration, and camaraderie.  I have found that I am not alone in my passion for books, writing, and all things literary.

I look back on that first review I wrote almost six years ago with bittersweet memories:  bitter at the horridness of the writing, but sweet where that piece has taken me since.  I look forward to seeing where my love for blogging and books will take me from here.

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