Friday, July 24, 2009

Writing Journey: Part XXII

So here was this giant, hidden Mormon Woman blogging community I knew nothing about even though I'd been blogging for a long time, and the only person I knew for sure who knew where it was, was the woman who'd made the comment on that blog.

And that would be Sue over at Navel Gazing at Its Finest. Ever wonder what sparked her post that asked her readers who their favorite Mormon bloggers were? Um, well, that would be my e-mail to her saying basically, "Who in the heck ARE these people, and where can I find them?!" She said, bascially, I'll ask my readers. So she did.

I didn't even know Sue at the time. Yet Sue is one of those big Mormon women bloggers she was talking about. That's just how in the dark I was.

She got something like 84 comments to that post listing favorite bloggers. Many comments were from people who are not LDS and said things like, "Why is it you Mormon people are so dang funny?" and the like. A lot of the same bloggers' names cropped up several times.

I started blog stalking several blogs. I started commenting. I started clicking from their blogs to brand new ones. I found ones that were good fits for my personality. I added subscriptions to my Google Reader. I deleted ones that didn't feel like good fits even if they were big. For months I felt like I was on a massive treasure hunt to find this secret world I hadn't known existed before and to figure out where I fit in it.

The journey started out as a way to find places to do a blog tour. But it turned into something else entirely. I developed dear friendships during those months, friendships I now cherish. I have had opportunities open up for me. I've shared dear experiences with people. I've learned some of the greatest lessons simply by reading their words and sharing comments with each other.

No wonder there's this giant blog world of LDS women. It's like Relief Society on steroids.

I have no clue if my question to Sue sparked the idea or whether the timing is coincidental, but very shortly after she asked her readers about their favorite Mormon bloggers, she created Mormon Mommy Blogs, and now we have a giant forum and a place where we can go find one another. It's all thanks to her and Motherboard and MomBabe, but there's this teeny tiny part of me that likes to hope I had something with sparking the idea in the first place.

Even though I had created all this great relationships, I still had a blog tour to do. I made a real point of trying to do a tour not all in the same circle. Yes, I knew that some of the stops would overlap. I knew that Erin's and Lara's and Lisa's readerships overlap to some degree, but I was pretty sure that they didn't overlap at all with the LDSWritersBlogck group and their friends, and Annie is in an entirely different circle and so is An Ordinary Mom. And so on.

So I like to think that even if some readers saw several blog tour stops, that there's no WAY anyone saw anywhere near half of them (unless they were deliberately linking over from my blog). Plus, I was just happy that superstar KristinaP was willing to include my book on one of her giveaways, because everyone and their hamster knows her.

Generally with a blog tour, the blogger gets a copy of the book to read beforehand. I knew that my publisher financially wouldn't be able to do that (I had nearly 50 tour stops. They would have laughed me out of the room). So I asked if I could send out PDF files of the book to the bloggers. They were thrilled with that idea (because it was FREE). So that's what we did. It wasn't ideal; it's not so fun to read a book on a screen or use a ream of paper to print it out.

My publisher also agreed to provide 15 copies of the actual book to use as giveaways on some of the bigger blogs. I ended up doing around 22 giveaways, so I gave away some of my personal author copies. I paid for postage on all of them.

I also knew that weekends tends to be the lowest time for blog readership, so I planned my tour stops to hit Mondays through Fridays, with a couple of exceptions when the person doing the stop had to post on a Saturday for whatever reason.

I also ended up with a few people coming to me asking if they could be part of the tour, one of whom was a biggie blogger. Like I was going to say no to that. As a result, there were several days I had more than one person posting about the book at a time.

A week before, I sent out a reminder e-mail to everyone for their week with their dates with instructions. They could do anything they wanted: a review, a Q&A with me (provided I had a couple of days to get answers back to them), or something entirely different. Their creativity was awesome.

Erin lifted some of her favorite quotes from the book. Jenn talked about the memories that the smells described in the book evoked in her. And so on. It was a lot of fun.

Because they all went to so much trouble for me, I felt like the least I could do for their efforts was post when they did and link over to them. So for six weeks straight, I blogged every single day, Monday through Friday (and a couple of Saturdays). It was a serious marathon, but in some ways so rewarding and fun.

Meanwhile, for the previous several months, I'd had friends constantly e-mailing me with questions along the lines of, "Is this the correct usage of lay/lie?" Or, "Which do I use in this sentence, was or were?"

On the LDStorymakers list, similar questions were flying at me all the time.

Finally someone on the list said, "You should just write a book about this stuff so we can all stop pestering you. I'd totally buy it."

The idea was seconded and thirded and fourthed. (If those are words.) :)

I'd thought about doing that exact thing for a long time, but I'd never really gotten around to it. But I was between projects (not that I wasn't always busy). During the blog tour, I started tinkering with a grammar/usage/punctuation book.

Halfway through the tour, I looked at the calendar and realized that the LDStorymakers conference was a month away. And I was teaching a class on grammar and usage. Having a book at the conference bookstore on that very topic might be a good thing.

If I were to write something like that, it would be a self-published venture anyway; I wouldn't expect a traditional publisher to take it and distribute it through regular channels or sell thousands of it. It would be be labor of love, something I'd sell to friends and colleagues at events . . . like, um, conferences.

I got my behind in gear.


Randi said...

Oooo! Mormon Mommy Blogs is one of my very favorite places in the blogosphere! So thanks for planting that little idea. ;)

I'm so glad I found you and your blog! Getting to know you a little bit has been fun, and for sure brushing up on my grammar has been wonderful.

Not that that last paragraph is a stellar example.

Kristina P. said...

I think that some people's guinea pigs even read my blog.

And I'm so glad we found each other! You are so delightful here and in person.

Plus, I can now say I'm 2 degrees from someone who beat up Superdell.

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

So glad you found that community otherwise I wouldn't have been so lucky as to find you!

Anonymous said...

I so grateful for the blogging community too. Some of the world's finest women I have met through the blogosphere. I found you through Heidi Ashworth. Though I knew your published name (saw it on books all over the place) I never connected it with your blogger profile. For some reason, I was particularly dense. I can't even remember the reason I finally decided to check out your blog (I'd read your comments at Heidi's for ages and ages) but I'll never forget the day I did.

You were sharing your "writing journey" and had all the links up at the top. I decided I wanted to hear it all from top to bottom. And something pretty amazing happened. I read something you'd written about the journey (I even remember exactly what it was) and it was like God literally whispered in my ear. I connected. In a huge, profound way. I'd been waiting forever to hear another writer say what you did. I remember tears filling my eyes and an easing in my heart. I'd waiting so long for you--and finally I'd been led to a woman that I truly believe is one of the finest, most upstanding, most genuine women I've ever met.

I'm so, so glad you went a-hunting in the blog world. You'll never know what a treasure you've given me and how much I truly respect and admire you. Thank you for your kindness, friendliness, and honesty. You are all that is exemplary and good in womankind.

Oh, and the word-nerdiness is gold too! ;)

C. Michelle Jefferies said...

Thanks for all the information you have given to us. I enjoy all of your posts. Also, thanks for your grammar book. I use it all the time I have a freind who is taking English right now and everytime she calls I grab that book.

I was at the library on Wednesday and I met a woman that checked out all four of your Temple books. some she was reading again and some she hadn't read yet but loved you as an author. Just thought you'd like to know.

Don said...

"Relief Society on steroids." Of course - now everything makes sense.

I've always wondered at all of the comments you ladies get. I know my blog has readers, but only a few faithful commenters.

It's just like High Priests. And steroids wouldn't help.

Laura said...

After reading this, I decided that I'm blog handicapped. I really need to start working harder. There are all these amazing people out there- and so few that I've been able to connect with.

But the few have been priceless. You're an inspiration.

Heffalump said...

Hey, a heads up. Where you have a link in this post that says Annie, it links to Kim's Temporary Insanity blog. I wasn't sure if that was correct since I have never known Kim to go by Annie...

CB said...

LDS Women Bloggers = Relief Society on Steroids!

I think you nailed it!

Friendships, sharing info., and connecting with other LDS women who have the same interests = Blogging rules!!

Erin said...

I loved hearing how you decided to put together a (very popular) blog tour! And then the idea to write this new book. Brilliant!

Lara Neves said...

Relief Society on Steroids is such a perfect way to describe it. I was blogging for nearly three years before I discovered the amazing LDS mommy blogger community and I am so glad I did.

Especially since that meant meeting you! You're right...lunch the other day really was just like catching up with an old friend I hadn't seen in a while. Thanks again for coming, and hopefully we'll be able to do it many more times since my roots will always be in Utah Valley. :)

Melanie Jacobson said...

I started blogging because I went to a CFI conference that focused on the business of writing. I'd never even read a blog and suddenly I left feeling terrified that I didn't have one and somehow any future author endeavors were doomed.

I dove into the blogging thing for one reason, but like you, it morphed very quickly into something different for me. The friendships I have made through blogging have filled a gap in my life that opened when I left teaching and the close female bonds I'd formed there. I enjoy the women in my ward at a very surface social level, but blogging friends have allowed me to reconnect at that deeper level that I crave.

Anonymous said...

I just found out about an upcoming writers conference that you will be teaching at. I am going, and it will be my first conference. I'm very excited to take your class on grammar. I hope you will have copies of your "There Their They're" book to purchase.

Heatherlyn said...

Your posts are always really interesting. :)

Jessica G. said...

I love Sue! I think if I ever got to meet her in person, I might faint or possibly drool on myself...or quite likely, both.

Carolyn V. said...

I've never been to Mormon Mommy Blogs. You'd think I would have after all this time. opps. I'd better get over there and check it out.

I love your posts too by the way. =) You are very genuine. I love that about you. =)

Wonder Woman said...

I had no idea about the LDS women blogging community until I got a random comment from a stranger, telling me if I didn't like my dogs I should give them to someone who did. To this day I don't know how she found me. But I went to her blog, wondering who in the heck she was, and saw a button that said, "Calling all LDS Women Bloggers!"

It has honestly changed my life.

And I'm glad I got to be part of your tour! Though I still feel kinda dumb that the thought of reading the book beforehand never occurred to me.....

Luisa Perkins said...

Your tour was awesome and inspiring. It really set the standard for my dream blog-tour-of-the-future.

Julie Wright said...

relief society on steroids. . . light, I am still laughing.

An Ordinary Mom said...

I adored your book tour ... and I love your apt description of Mormon mommy blogs, Relief Society on steroids :) !! I am thrilled that we found each other. You have sucked me in, your blog is fabulous. (OK, yes. I will admit, though, I have kind of been missing in action this summer. Too much going on, although right now there is just too much heat going on!)

annie valentine said...

I never did figure out how to find that other circle of mormon mommies. I think I might be a little too irreverent.

And yes, hamsters read Kristina's blog. And I'm sure she'd leave them a comment if she could only find the right URL.


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