Friday, November 07, 2008

Blog of the Week:
Cuppa Jolie...

Jolie Stekly answered a few questions about her blog, Cuppa Jolie, in the midst of a Western Washington SCBWI Retreat. (She was about to walk out the door to pick up Patti Lee Gauch when I emailed her.) Jolie, a former elementary school teacher, is currently a Regional Advisor for the Western Washington SCBWI and has just finished revising a NaNoWriMo rough draft.

Tell me a little about your blog?

I have a What the Buzz? section on my blog where I say: “In this blog I chat with baristas about books, interview authors, buzz about coffee spots, and blather about writerly issues and the other stuff on my mind.” Really, I mostly blather. This is actually a great personal reminder that I need bring some more focus to the first three.

When I started Cuppa Jolie, I decided to combine all the passions that collide in my writing life: books, coffee, and people. Plus, I had some sort of delusion that as I started to interview authors at cool coffee spots, they’d start to invite me to get together with them at their favorite places. Crazy, I know, but one can dream. Really, I dream about one day chatting with Judy Blume over lattes and pastries as I secretly pinch myself because I was talking to my childhood fave. Hey, crazier things have happened.

Cuppa Jolie debuted in August. Wy did you decide to start blogging?

Peer pressure. Really. It started with the cutest couple in the children’s book world, Laini Taylor and Jim DiBartolo. For a good year, every time I saw them, they’d ask me when I was going to start a blog. They wouldn’t leave me alone about it and it became quite obsessive—okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but they convinced me I should do it. Laini and Jim couldn’t say enough about the ways it’s helped them connect with the larger children’s book community. And, you know, they were right. I’ve been amazed at the connections and friendships I’ve made in a few short months.

What would you say is the purpose of your blog? As a new blogger, did you learn anything helpful at the Portland conference?

A purpose? Yikes. That makes it seem like what I’m doing, what I’m saying/writing, is important. Like it might matter to someone else. Well, actually, I hope it does, even the silly stuff. If I can make someone say, Hey, I do that, too! or I have days like that! or even if they just laugh or nod their head, then good deal. Not only does it make me feel good, but I hope it does for those reading.

A purpose not intended but has been great: Letting my family (across the country) get a glimpse into my writing life which is quite separate from my personal/family life. (Hi, Grandpa! Love you.)

As for the Kidlitosphere Blogging Conference in Portland, I almost didn’t attend, but I’m so glad I did. One of my biggest takeaways from the conference—comment on other blogs. Before I started blogging myself, I read many, but never commented. I mentioned in one of my posts that I almost felt like a stranger peering in a window, not wanting to get caught, not wanting the blogger to know I was curious. I have a completely different attitude as a blogger. I LOVE when people leave me comments, not only that, but if you’re a blogger yourself, it’s a great way to start getting to know others in the industry. So comment!

Can you give any advice to writers just beginning to create a presence in the blogosphere?

That’s a tall order! But the first thing that comes to mind is to dive in and go for it. Also, be yourself. This actually makes me think about a session at the conference presented by the wonderful and very successful blogger, Mother Reader. While I may have just said to dive in, do think it over a bit (just not too much or you might never do it). Find your niche; find your purpose and what will work for you personally. Another huge piece of advice Mother Reader shared was to consider a group blog so that the responsibility can be shared. But now that I spilled all that very well-intended information, I’m not sure if I’ve followed a bit of it (other than being myself).

Blogging is fun. I think it was one Miss Alice Pope who commented early-on in Cuppa Jolie’s history and told me it’s addictive. You’re right, Alice. It really is.


Cuppa Jolie said...

Thanks, Alice. So fun to be featured here!

Kim Baker said...

Great pick, Alice! Jolie is inspirational.

holly cupala said...

Oh, hooray! How nice to stop by and see the lovely Jolie featured here. And especially nice because yesterday she finished her novel and posted a pic. Inspiring!

Donna McDine said...

Great post...I agree...blogging is addictive...I have to stop myself at times!

Donna McDine

Unknown said...

Great pick, Alice!

I ADORE the Cuppa Jolie blog. Jolie is -- I'll be the 3rd to second it -- a real inspiration.