This blog is going to be about my professional life, mostly, but I’m lucky that my professional and personal life interests dovetail pretty nicely, so there will probably be more overlap than I anticipate. (In that you’ll learn about some of my personal interests/causes I champion through books and issues I decide to write about on the blog).
I like bullet points sometimes, but I’m a mass of contradictions because I can also be really wordy. No one is simple, right?
I love exclamation marks!! Hate that? You don’t have to read my blog. I also like parenthetical asides. You also don’t have to read my blog if you hate those. Thankfully I have not yet fallen in love with footnotes. So you footnote haters are at least safe on that count (for now)!
I’ll try hard, but punctuation isn’t always my strong suit. And I’m not going to force my husband (best writer EVER) into becoming my copy editor for every blog post. That’s no fun. Should I be better at punctuation? Yes. Have I tried hard but it’s a challenge for me? Yes. Should my fear of some people’s judgement on some misplaced commas keep me from having fun on my little blog? I’m hoping not. See mistakes and want me to correct them? Share with me, I’m fine with that! Really! Let’s help each other– I’ll give you book suggestions, you give me punctuation suggestions. [And just to alleviate your fears, when I write professionally I do ALWAYS use a copy editor, and a gloriously smart real editor who gives me feedback to make not only my punctuation but also my general writing much, much better (shoutout to the incredibly smart Vicky Smith at Kirkus). Modifying my editing process, to me, is like when I wear high heels to weddings, but not to walk my dogs. Different purposes require different behaviors.] And, P.S., I don’t glory in my punctuation struggles, I don’t think I’m above damn punctuation rules, or that properly using semicolons is “the man’s” effort to hold “us” all in chains. My whole life I’ve just had trouble internalizing the particulars.
Why do I blog? Well, my absolute favorite part of being an English teacher was helping my students find books that made them passionate about reading. It’s still my favorite part of being a high school librarian (besides just getting to spend my days with some pretty kick ass teens!) And when I’m really lucky I develop relationships with my students– and teachers– where they start to trust my book suggestions and I can gently cajole, trick, manipulate, blackmail, and encourage them to spend a little more time with the printed word. This is my little attempt to make some of those suggestions available to my community of readers, even when I’m not available in person (like school vacations, weekends, and 3am when the insomnia hits and an ebook is only a few clicks away!)
What makes me nervous/reluctant to blog? I don’t quite feel important enough to believe that anyone wants to spend any time reading my musings– book bloggers are a dime a dozen. It feels a bit like an ego trip to try and subject anyone to my ramblings. So, again, why do it? Just the hope that it will help some readers find some books and authors that I really love. And lots of the blog posts will essentially be little public love letters to the authors who work so hard to create works that bring entertainment, joy, and meaning to the world. And who doesn’t love a love letter?
I also love getting book suggestions, and just generally being involved in great conversations about books. It’s why I spent the last five years on American Library Association book award committees— Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011, 2012), The William C. Morris (2013) award for debut author, Quick Picks for Reluctant Teen Readers (2014), and the Michael L. Printz award (2015) for best young adult book of the year. This also, partially, explains my previous lack of online book suggestions– it’s considered good form (and now required for certain committees) that members keep their book opinions off of social media until the book awards have been announced- a policy I think makes sense. But as of July 1 of this year I’m officially done with my committee work, so I figure it’s time to try the whole social media/blogging thing again. My first blog post tells the FULL story behind what jump started this endeavor.
Comments are welcome, but I value kindness. You’ll soon see that this is a place where I only celebrate books I love. If I think something is only so-so, or even downright awful, I’m keeping my mouth shut. So you are welcome to disagree with my opinions in the comments, but please do so in a thoughtful and constructive way that is gentle to both me and the authors I choose to showcase. In other words, vitriolic comments will be moderated.
End of disclaimers, here’s a quick professional bio:
-Former English teacher (middle and high school)
-Now high school librarian (dream job!)
-Experienced member of various American Library Association book award committees
-Reviewer of books for Kirkus Reviews (dream job!)
-Married to Charlie, also a high school teacher, and the smartest guy ever. He makes my book life possible by listening to me, feeding me, and tolerating my skewed priorities which often include finishing a novel before containing the chaotic mess of shoes and clothes I leave scattered around the house.
-Lots of pets who are my pampered little children.
Oh yeah, I forgot, my name’s Shelly McNerney. Nice to meet you. I’m also trying Twitter @macstackbooks