Friday, September 24, 2010

The End of An Experiment. And The Beginning of...

So this will be my final post here at The Zen Of Blogging Blog. It's been a grand experiment, and 7 months ago, when I started this blog to talk ABOUT blogging - I wasn't sure where it would go.

I heard something the other night at a Start Out LA Event that gave me some clarity about my path forward. Oliver Luckett, Co-founder and CEO of DigiSynd Inc., a social media agency, and Corporate SVP, The Walt Disney Company, was speaking about the road to success, and he said,

"You're gonna fail a lot. So fail fast."

The idea being that you have to get through and past the things that aren't working - that aren't getting you where you want to be - and try something else to see if that will work.

Which makes me think of that story about Edison and how many ways he found out NOT to perfect a lightbulb before he figured out how to actually do it. He famously said (and there are many different versions of this quote):

I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.

And then he figured it out, went on to pioneer the entire electric industry, and changed our world forever.

And that's the amazing thing about our new social media like facebook and twitter and blogs - this new way we're all connecting. Innovating and experimenting as you shape your path forward has never been more accessible, or more doable.

And part of innovating, and experimenting, is knowing when you need to end one venture and move your focus to something else.

There's a part of me that doesn't want to say this blog was a failure. But if I'm being honest, it isn't taking me where I want to go. And I couldn't have discovered that if not for taking the Zen of Blogging Blog journey over these past 30 weeks. While I enjoy talking about blogging with others and sharing blogging secrets, I understand now that my true passion lies with my original blog, I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?

I'm also truly passionate about the books I'm writing, the essays I'm crafting, and the empowerment I see taking place in the vast community that I'm lucky enough to be part of - the community of Children's Literature, and the community of Teens (GLBTQ and Straight Allies) and those who care about Teens.

Where those worlds come together is my "sweet spot," and while I really believe in the insights I distilled in "The Zen Of Blogging" e-book, and the secrets of how to blog successfully here at The Zen of Blogging Blog - it's time for me to move on from the meta-conversation (about how to blog) and focus on the content of teen empowerment - through my main blog, where I talk about GLBTQ Teen Books, Culture and Politics, through my fiction and non-fiction writing, and through my work in high schools teaching SMASHING STEREOTYPES! workshops.

I'll be sharing lots more about all these continuing and new ventures over at I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read? in the future weeks, but for now, let me thank the thousands of readers who've found value here. Thank you for being part of my community.

The Zen of Blogging e-book will continue to be available (And hey, I've put it on sale through the end of the year, as a finale present!) And I'm sure there will be times when I can't resist talking about Search Engine Optimization and other fun blogging stuff... And when that happens, hopefully I can do those as guest posts and videos at other wonderful blogs about social media.

For now, I'm declaring the END of this experiment, and I look to the future with a true sense of excitement and hope. After all, I've successfully figured out that this blog is not going to take me where I want to go. And there's so much I want to do!

I thank you, each of you, for sharing this part of the journey.

I hope to see you on twitter, facebook, and my main blog!

Namaste, and Remember to keep it Zen,

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Special Friday post: My New Author Photo! (And what your Profile Pic can do!)

So I just hit my three year blogging anniversary over at "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?" and I felt that while I liked my old author photo,

it was really just a candid shot, and maybe it was time to update it a bit.

As Alice Pope and Greg Pincus advised in their breakout session on moving your career forward with social networking and blogging at the SCBWI Summer Conference, an author photo is a way to "brand" yourself across platforms. Their advice was to use the same photo on facebook, on your blog, on twitter... everywhere people would see those little profile photos - and it's true, I've had people walk up to me at events and ask, "Are you that guy that does the Zen of Blogging?" and I'm sure it's because I'm recognizable from my profile photo on this blog.

So I got my amazing writer friend and photographer Rita Crayon Huang (she takes the professional photos at the SCBWI summer conference - check out her flicker feed here! and incidentally took that original candid shot I used for the last few years) and we talked about what the new photo would be.

We were really trying to capture the spirit of empowerment (which is my underlying meta-theme of pretty much everything I do on-line and in my writing.) Heck, even this blog's theme is all about empowering you, my fellow bloggers!

So we decided to try something a little bit crazy. I'm leaping through the air, and Rita snapped the photographs mid-leap. Yup. I'm flying...

Kind of like the logo for my main blog,

we wanted the new photo to say "I'm Here To Empower YOU!"

And I think we accomplished that. Here's the original:

And the close-up:

That's what great photography (and a great photographer) can do.

I'll be changing this to be my new profile pic all across the social media landscape!

Another thing to take into consideration is how Ellen Hopkins handles her profile pic - it's not a photo of her at all - it's the cover of her newest book! Here's her twitter profile, and you can see how she's used the cover of her lastest book, Fallout, as her profile pic.

The way Ellen does it, little pictures of her book cover are popping up everywhere she comments on the internet - on facebook, on twitter on blogs... and it reminds people "Hey, Ellen has that new book out! I want to read that!"

So I encourage you to think about what your profile pic says to the world. Is there a chance to be more consistent? More inventive? A picture, the saying goes, speaks a thousand words. What does your picture say?

Namaste, and remember to keep it Zen,

Thursday, September 9, 2010

This Week's Blogging Secret: Showcase Others ...and the "I Love My Librarian 2010 Award"

I think in the realm of blogging and social media, there are times when you can be at a loss for what to talk about. Do people really want to hear more about YOU? About your book/project/recipe? Again?

Unless you're a celebrity, the answer is probably 'not really.'

You can't repeat yourself endlessly about your new article, or book, or recipe... people will stop coming to your blog to read it if that's all you offer.

The best way to solve this is to talk about other people doing great stuff... Showcase people and projects you can celebrate, and that your blog readers will be interested in as well.

Take my world of children's literature. I talk about books and censorship and the world of GLBTQ teenagers (and teens in general) a lot on my blog - but I don't often focus on librarians.

So there's this cool contest called "I Love My Librarian" - and it's all about celebrating librarians who make an impact for the good on their communities. You can check out last year's winners (I loved reading their nominations!)

And you can nominate your own librarian who has made a difference to you and in your community - the deadline's September 20.

So go toot someone else's horn. It will make you and your blog more of a resource of cool stuff... and it will make you feel awesome.

Namaste, and remember to keep it Zen,

Thursday, September 2, 2010

It's a New School Year... What Are You Doing That's NEW On Your Blog?

Ahh, the school year calendar. Even though it still feels like summer outside, the idea of back-to-school resonates for me - sharpened pencils, notebooks with crisp blank pages, a new backpack to hold all my stuff...

And so, for my "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?" blog, I've been thinking about a slight re-design. A stream-lining. A make-it-more useful and easier-to-find-what-you're-looking-for re-thinking.

So I'm experimenting on a private test blog. Trying new things out.

Feeling a bit like a mad (but friendly) scientist.

Einstein -
Just what is the relation between genius and silliness?

Tabs here. No, here.

Add a button. Maybe two.

Move those links...



Simplify some more.

And I'm having fun!

It's all work happening behind the scenes, but I groove on the idea that I'll be unveiling something fresh, something new and cool and awesome for the new school year...

And I'll be revealing it to everyone coming up on Sept 15, 2010.

So I challenge you to think about it, too - whether you're in a field that relates to children in school or not, we all went to school once, and the rhythm of the school year is imprinted on most of us. How can you make YOUR blog feel fresh and new for the new school year?

Namaste, and Remember to Keep it Zen,