Friends of the Embassy, July 2012
It’s been almost a month since I first launched the Embassy, and getting settled into the discipline of blogging has already been a draining, intimidating endeavor. Had I taken on this challenge alone, I likely would have burnt out within days. Fortunately, my awesome friends, dedicated coworkers, amazing family, and a few veteran bloggers have tirelessly supported me. So, this week I’d like to recognize the blogging superstars who have coached me, advised me, helped me get noticed, and generally shown me how to rock the blog—Lindsey McGuirk, Connor Griffin, and Rachel Hanley.
In addition to serving as our Digital Marketing and Publishing Manager, Lindsey admins the Village Books blog, a compendium of local reflections on books, reading, authors, business, events, and literacy. Most recently, she posted a feature on author Cheryl Strayed, who has recently been in the public spotlight for her advice column, Dear Sugar, and her two recent books. As one can expect from the rest of her writing, Lindsey is not so much concerned with the novelty of a certain topic, but rather seeks to extract the reasons why a topic is worth paying attention to. Recently, the blog Northwest Book Lovers made the wise decision of asking Lindsey to join their team as a contributor. Want to get a taste? Last week she conducted a fantastic interview with Pauls Toutonghi, author of Evel Knievel Days (a book that I certainly expect to review when it’s released in paperback). Lindsey’s infectious wit, which plays well off the charismatic Toutonghi, is reason enough to follow her versatile online presence.
Lindsey was my mentor back when I was just a starry-eyed intern at the bookstore; since then, she has taught me many tricks of the trade, connected me with many fellow book fanatics, and encouraged me to pursue my goals, all the while keeping my ego in check and keeping me laughing. When I asked her for advice on getting my blog rolling, she without hesitation began filling my toolbox with ideas and suggestions—her lessons ranged from keeping a clean visual appearance, to surprising readers with unique material, to the alpha priority of blogging, discovering your own voice. I owe her an enormous debt for inducting me into the world of book business and convincing me that wearing your passions for all to see is the only decent way to live in that world.
Connor A. Griffin is the intrepid trailblazer behind the blog Adventures of a Wanna-Be Writer, where he channels his skills as an experienced blogger into honing, expanding, and reflecting on his craft as an aspiring writer. His post about adapting writing habits to the college lifestyle (which I certainly grappled with myself in school) is an excellent example of his candor, commitment, and chutzpah. To read his more personal record of enlightening miscellany, check out Redlight Philosophies. Spanning from cinema, to marketing, to DIY, both of Connor’s blogs illustrate a genuine delight in creative endeavor.
I found Connor by surfing WordPress tags back when I got started, and his style immediately appealed to me (along with his blog’s visual theme, which I promptly commandeered). Since then, we’ve been in contact and plan to be active contributors on each other’s blogs. This guy even went so far as to feature me in a post about boldness in self-marketing—needless to say, I was beside myself. So far, I’ve only dabbled in the kind of bold networking he writes about, but he’s absolutely right that boldness is essential for a healthy, growing blog. And when it comes to that kind of boldness, confidence, and outgoing approach, Connor’s got it in spades. While I struggle with sounding mechanical in my writing, Connor voices a conversational tone with ease. While I overmanage myself with schedules and categories, Connor posts at will with a liberated, approachable attitude. One might chalk this up to my relative newness to this wacky blogging thing, but any way you slice it, I have much to learn from Connor’s familiarity with his medium. Every blogger worth his salt needs allies, and I am lucky to count Connor among mine.
Rachel is another of my coworkers at Village Books, whose responsibilities include managing our book group newsletter and helping customers with ebooks. Her blog, titled Rachel Anne Hanley, features a new post every Friday at 7am sharp, balancing frequent book reviews with book-oriented discussion topics and author interviews. With her dominating grasp of the fantasy genre and stellar analytical language, Rachel stands as a perfect example of a book reviewer who has found her niche and excels at it. Her talents for speaking resonance into stories was recently noticed by the bloggers at Random House, who asked Rachel to be a contributor on their blog, Random Acts of Reading. Most recently, Rachel and her cohorts pieced together a collection of their favorite re-told fairy tales, many of which may surprise you and/or fill you with nostalgia.
Clearly, Rachel and I share a kindred pathology—we constantly read books, talk about books, read about talking about books, talk about talking about books, ad infinitum. Indeed, her pattern of Friday postings was a major inspiration for my Tuesday book review rhythm. Her success at what she does gives me hope for my ability to uphold what I want to do. Right now, one of our greatest differences is Rachel’s impressive experience, preparedness, and discipline. She has her lineup of books read and squared away several months ahead of her projected review date; I, on the other hand, am still at the stage of scrambling like a maniac to finish my weekly book and review it within the same afternoon, just barely grinding up against my own deadlines. Believe me, there are few things I currently look forward to more than the dream of being ahead of the game. I’ll get there in time, but I’ve got a long haul ahead of me. Good thing committed bloggers like Rachel prove that it can be done!
Ambassadors, please take this opportunity to show these three heroes some love and give them some clicks. As the dust of this genesis month settles and as my network grows, I hope to post more of these features in the coming months, touting my allies as the prime specimens of human artistry they are. I’m now speaking to you directly, random blogger. If you dig what I’m posting and think I’d be interested in your blog (let’s be honest, I ain’t picky), please get in touch with me via email! (email@example.com) Who knows, perhaps you could you could be featured among the next “friends of the Embassy”… More importantly, I’d treasure the opportunity for us to swap ideas and participate in each other’s discussions.