Four Brilliant Back-to-School Books

I lied on Friday when I said this would be the last post of the Big Blogging Bonanza. Just not on purpose. It is the last-but-one post, and I realised that when I looked at my schedule yesterday.

Yay! You get one more daily post than you thought you would! (I'm not going to stop blogging after these Summer Holidays have finished, by the way. It'll just be a little less regular.)


So today, I would like to talk about going back to school. I don't know about you, but I've got my pencils sharpened, my bag packed and my P.E kit ready - I can't wait. My favourite thing to do when getting ready for the new term is to pick out my reading book, which always seems to help me calm down and get back into the school routine. I also like to pick something reasonably classic / well-known, so I can impress my English teacher!

Here, therefore, is a list of four books which are brilliant 'school reads'. They're really interesting, but won't get you too emotionally involved, so you'll hopefully be able to put them down when it comes to actual lessons. However, we are all bookworms. I can't promise anything.

#1 - The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

Miss Marple novels are about a little old lady called Jane, who solves crimes using her knowledge of human beings. She's lived in the small town of St. Mary Mead all her life, and she's met almost every type of person, so she knows what her suspects are likely to do. She'll need to: The Body in the Library is not your typical Cluedo-style murder. Because no-one knows who the victim is.

I love Agatha Christie, particularly Miss Marple, and this book is my favourite of all of them. They're hard-boiled, thrilling crime novels which won't distract you while you're studying, but are enthralling the moment you crack open the spine. As classic British novels, they're bound to impress your English teacher, and the other great thing with both the Marple and Poirot series is that all books are stand-alones, so if you don't like the look of a particular plot, or your school library doesn't have the next one (which has happened to me more than once) then you can chop and change as much as you like. Plus, there are twenty Miss Marple novels and short story collections. TWENTY!

#2 - GingerSnaps by Cathy Cassidy 



Ginger Brown always suffered at school. People bullied her for her red hair, unfortunate name and her weight, so she was dreading starting Secondary school. But then she met Shannon.

Fast forward to the beginning of Year Eight, and Ginger's popular. All the boys tag after her best mate Shannon, and she's just happy to be along for the ride. After all, no-one bullies the confident girl. But then she meets Sam, a saxophone-playing, trilby wearing enigma who seems to hate everything she's become. Mix in an old friend, Emily, who knows who she used to be, and Shannon's new crush, a teacher, and things soon become complicated. . .

I love this as a back-to-school read because the characters themselves are starting a new term, and the popularity-isn't-everything vibes really gave me a confidence boost when I read it. We could all do with reassurance at this time of year.

#3 - Carrier of The Mark by Leigh Fallon



This is one of those books that was so fabulous I can barely speak coherently about it, so you will probably get emotionally involved, but it's so amazing I can't resist. ADHNHDT! DITYJ B!

I told you I struggled to speak coherently.

Carrier is about Megan, a sixteen-year-old American girl who moves to Ireland, thanks to her Dad's ever-changing job. She's already dealing with a new country, a new school (see what I did there) and a new crush, but then she realises everything isn't as it seems. Her feelings for Adam are more to do with fate than simple teenage attraction, and her mark ties her to a power as ancient as Ireland itself.

#4 - Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

College! FanFiction! Twins!

That's Fangirl in three words, but if you'd like a longer summary, I'll try my best to oblige. It's basically about a new-to-college girl (Cath) who's always been in the shadow of her twin sister (Wren) and is now struggling to step into the limelight, so she writes FanFiction instead. It's good for back-to-school because although she's starting college and not school, there's still anxiety, timetables and a popularity hierarchy. Sounds like school to me!

Gah! Just read it!

Read all of these when you get back to school. You'll love them, I promise.

***
What books do you guys recommend for when you get back to school? And are you as excited about returning as I am? (I joke, of course. No-one is as enthusiastic about school as me.) 

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The Insider's Guide to Blogging

Guys! GUYS! I've just realised that today's post is the penultimate instalment of the Big Blogging Bonanza. How crazy is that? I think I've done pretty well, too, because I only missed two days (one of those was yesterday, but let's skip over that...).

Now, I wouldn't call myself an expert blogger, but I have learnt quite a bit over the last few months, and I figured I'd share some of that knowledge. Here are a few handy tips, brought together in what I call the Insider's Guide to Blogging.


(Don't expect too much, I'm only a simple munchkin.)

Tip #1 - When choosing a name for your blog, always search the internet for it first. Using a couple of different engines, preferably. I've noticed a few quite well-known blogs with similar names recently, so if you do discover something that might be a problem, you don't always have to go back to the drawing board. Here's an example:

Say you wanted to call your blog Confessions of a Book Lover. It's a good title, sure, but after a quick Googling session, you would discover that there's a book by that name, and you're unlikely to get very high up search engines with that happening. However, you could play with a couple of synonyms. Admissions of a Book Lover would work, as would Confessions of a Bookworm. Or, if you don't like the different words, you could rephrase it. How about A Book Lover's Confessions?


Sometimes, when you play with words like this, you can end up with an even better name, and blog names are definitely important. It's worth noting that I learnt this one the hard way - if you Google Another Teen Reader, you'll find IMDb listings for Another Teen Movie instead.

Tip #2 - You don't have to blog every day. Trust me when I say that blogging every day is hard. Unless you really, truly think you can do it, and know you'll have time no matter what, it'll just make you stressy, and you'll want to give up. For the first few weeks, at least, I'd recommend posting when you feel like it. You can always update more regularly later on, or create a schedule for yourself at times when you know you won't be busy.

That's why I did the Big Blogging Bonanza in summer, when I knew I wouldn't be distracted by homework or anything else. My advice is to write when you feel like it: if you make yourself do it once too often, it'll become like a chore, and you're more likely to give up.


Write for the love of it, and your blog will be just as you want. I promise.

Tip #3 - Talk! Communicate! Comment! The blogging world is a friendly place, I promise, and you'll learn a lot from interacting with other people. Posts from other blogs will often inspire you, and comments will help you to get to know other bloggers. Knowing other bloggers makes it easier to arrange guest posts and link-ups, and they can help you through writing slumps and other tough spots.

The comments space on your own blog is very useful, too. Pay attention to your followers, and always reply if you can. Even if it's just a 'glad you liked the post' sort of thing, people love to know that their contributions have been read.

Tip #4 - Social media, in particular Twitter, is insanely useful. If you post links to your blog posts whenever you release one, your readers can easily keep track of new updates by following you, and you can follow famous authors, too! If you want to use Twitter to publicise yourself as a blogger, then make sure you put your URL on your profile. There's a little space for it, look:


There's also Bloglovin', which is an awesome sharing system intended just for keeping all your favourite blogs in one place. In fact, if you want, you can follow me! The widget's just over there. >>
(They also have Bloglovin' Academy, which has some great tips for publicising your blog.)

Tip #5 - Feel free to ignore any of my tips, if you want. That's right, I said it. A blog shouldn't represent your reader's opinions or another blogger's style. It's your thing, and the most important part of blogging is that you enjoy it. If any of my ideas would get in the way of that, then don't listen to a word I'm saying.

***
Bloggers, do you have any tips you want to share? What helped you in your blogging journey?
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Words for a Wednesday: I Am Malala

I just re-read I Am Malala, the autobiography of a teenage education activist who was shot by the Taliban, and was struck again by how inspiring and poignant it is. I've spoken before about why everyone deserves an education, but the quote I noticed this time was more about her nature and immense personal strength. Just. . . just read this. She's talking about the days before her shooting, when threats were multiplying and she would often wonder what she would do if someone came to kill her.
"Maybe I'd take off my shoes and hit him, but then I'd think if I did that there would be no difference between me and a terrorist. It would be better to plead, 'Okay, shoot me, but first listen to me. What you are doing is wrong. I'm not against you personally, I just want every child to go to school.'"
Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala

So many things about this make me realise how amazing she is, and every time I read it, I find hidden within the words a new strength. Firstly, she has no thought in her mind about self-defence, while so many others with much more life experience have used it to justify killing others. Her morals are so strong that they easily conquer the fear which could make her want to attack.

Second, in a not unrelated way, she doesn't truly worry about death. She dismisses the possibility of it in three short words - 'Okay, shoot me' - and spends the rest of the paragraph talking about forgiveness, how she isn't against the shooter as a person, just how he is acting. She is willing, and fully intending, to spend her last breath fighting for other peoples' futures.
I wonder how many of us would be able to do that. I wonder how many of us could wish for others' lives instead of our own.

And, on top of all this, Malala got her GCSE results last week. Although half of her school life, maybe even more, has been overshadowed, and sometimes even broken up by wars, those who misinterpreted her religion, and threats to her personal safety, she got six A*s and four As.
To those of us who think our lives and our exams are impossible, Malala should give us the confidence to stand a little taller. I leave you with the speech she made at the UN on her sixteenth birthday:



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I Wish. . .

I am not an easily satisfied reader, blogger or person. I will trawl through many, many blurbs on Goodreads until I'm willing to spend my hard-earned money on anything, or mentally dismiss dozens of post ideas before I find what I want.

I was completely overexcited when I thought of this one. Because it's about not being satisfied. How perfect is that?

I wish there was a law that meant series had to be released all at the same time, instead of one by one. So I wouldn't have to wait six to eighteen months for a sequel.

I wish that, as soon as a new book is released, a copy was always sent to every library in that language. I know that, space-wise, this would be quite problematic, so I'm okay if this rule only applies to YA.

I wish library fines did not exist. As bookworms, we do not take stealing books lightly, and money is not needed to make us take them back; strongly-worded emails and threats to our personal book collections would probably do the trick.

I wish characters would do what I say, and not be stupid. I am currently very annoyed with Ray from Gangsta Rap for this reason, but I have not finished yet, so no spoilers.

I wish film adaptations always involved fans at every stage of the process. Could we have some sort of fandom consultant? You probably wouldn't have to pay them, because they would kill to meet the author in the first place.

I wish my favourite characters would survive at least some of the time, but I am probably being unrealistic.

I wish my friends would just hurry up and read the books I recommend them. They might not think they will like them, but I AM THEIR OVERLORD AND I KNOW BETTER.
I wish blogging was easier, but I know you can't take shortcuts.

I wish books did not take up physical space, so I could own tens and thousands of them without ever needing to buy a new bookshelf or fear bookshelf collapse. It would also help if they were cheaper.

I wish some people valued YA as much as adult literature. Just because we're younger doesn't mean we're less.

I wish all authors earned money enough for their art, because I know some really struggle. That means that no-one should pirate ebooks, in particular.
As you can probably tell, I am a girl with a lot of wishes, most of which are infeasible. But I will always hope beyond hope that those last two will come true. After all, the bookish world deserves it.

***
What annoying parts of the bookish world do you wish would go away? And, all jokes aside, what wish would you most like to come true?
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Extraordinary Means: A Tag

Hello! Before I start today's post in ernest, I would first like to say that I am writing it on my phone and I don't know how it's going to turn out format-wise on the blog. I'll fix any niggles once I get back to the hotel and regain computer access.

I have completely lost track of where this 'Extraordinary Means' tag comes from (someone said it was originally a video tag?) and I do way too many Blog Tags anyway, but I have limited time here, and I like memes.

So there.

Also, these means really are extraordinary. HOW CAN ONE EVEN GIVE UP THE INTERNET? They're all hypothetical, of course, but in truth, I doubt I'd even pull the easiest one off. They're darn near impossible for us bookworms. But the rewards are great, so I would try my best.

I would give up the internet for a month for a signed first edition of this book
Are we talking all-holds-barred here? Like, regardless to practicality or it even being possible? Because giving up the internet would be pretty much impossible for me, especially since I use it for school, so I need to get something that's worth it.

Black Beauty, a book signed by an author that I not only love, but is long dead, would make me the envy of bookworms everywhere. Because it would be impossible for them to get their own. MWA HA HA!

Just so you know, I'm not in this for the money. I love this book and it is mine, so you cannot have it. NEVER!

I would give up pizza for a year if I could sit next to this author on a long plane ride
J.K. Rowling. Because a plane ride is practically the only situation where I could ask her all the questions about Harry Potter without her running away from me / backing away slowly. She would be TRAPPED and have to put up with me.

I really am evil today, aren't I?

I would sit through a thousand hours of ADVERTS (I am British, they are not commercials) if it would ensure Hollywood made this book into a movie
I can only choose one? What is this? I did a whole post that involved five!

I must say that I am absolutely outraged, but if I had to plump for one, it would be Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. Firstly because I adore it, and was already a play, so would work visually. But also because the message is incredibly important, and must reach as big an audience as possible.

I would never read a new book again if I could live inside this book
No. No no NO! I can deal with some of these because they're for a limited time, but there is no way I would do this.

No change in environment makes up for a lack of reading.

I would let my internet search history be made public if I could become best friends with this author
Hmm...my internet history is certainly pretty embarrassing. And I have a pretty awesome bestie (hi, Katie!). But I would get along very well with Alison Cherry, judging by her twitter feed.

I would donate everything I own to Goodwill if I could date this fictional character in real life
Ooohh,  tricky. I would hate to steal any boy away from his girl, because that would make me an awful person and wreck the entire book. Mind you, I think Fabian from The 13 Treasures series is pretty adorable...

Would you guys even consider these Extraordinary Means? I'm not so sure...
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A Letter to my Older (and Hopefully Better) Self

So, I've been poking around the bloggersphere a bit more lately, and I've noticed that everyone is writing 'letter posts'. You know, letters to the people they used to be, letters to the person they want to become (just take a look at the title) and the people they might someday meet.

I'm not one to ignore a trend, and this looks like a fun bandwagon to jump on. I therefore present to you, the loyal followers of Another Teen Reader (and whoever else happens to find it) A Letter to Me When I Leave School.
Hi, Year Eleven Lara!

Do you have any idea who I am? Probably not - I'm barely a Year Nine yet and you're probably far too cool to have people like me on your radar. But I know an awful lot about you.

Provided I don't go through a complete personality change in the next three years, you're obsessed with reading, writing and musical theatre. You're probably still a blogger, but it doesn't matter if you aren't, because I've told everyone who'll listen that you should only blog if you want to, if you love it.

You got your GCSE results this week, didn't you? I'm sure they were fantabulous, and my Mum keeps saying you'll do well, but don't fret if they're not exactly what you wanted. You tend to have overly high expectations of yourself anyway. Heck, I don't even know what you took those exams in, which doesn't bode well.

I'm supposed to choose them at the end of this year.
Ooh, what did you read last? I'll tell you I just read Playlist for a Broken Heart, because I'm curious to see if you still remember it. It was good but not life-changing (or maybe it turned out to be . . . please say more!) and I'm still thinking a bit like the main character. Have you dived into Lord of the Rings yet? Or finally ventured properly into the scary world of Adult Fiction? I'm so jealous, because you'll have read so many more books than me!

I wrote this letter so you remember who you used to be, and therefore who you are, in case you're feeling lost. You are Lara. Reader, writer, singer, weirdo. Just because the years might have made you a bit different to me, we're still the same person. So do me a favour and follow your dreams. I want to know that I won't be stuck in some dead-end job that I hate when I finally grow up. I am here to remind you of all the things you wanted to be when you were little: horse-rider, singer, novellist, Agony Aunt, psychologist, computer programmer. . . the list is as endless as it is unrelated. I'm hoping by now you'll have some idea of the direction you want to take, but it's okay if you don't. You're only sixteen.
I hope you are a better person than me not because I am bad now, but because a person should always want to improve themselves. I hope you help people more, have less prejudice (have learned how to spell prejudice) and have the determination to find your true passion.

Hoping that you'll give me a good life to look forward to,
Year Eight (Nearly Nine) Lara

***
Thank you for indulging me with that, guys. I know it's very personal - but letters to future and past selves are actually really good fun to write? What would you say to yourself in three years? And do you have anything to say to future ME?

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A Bookworm's Worries

I lost my library card yesterday. It was really, really scary - mostly because I couldn't renew my books and that meant I got a fine. FORTY-FIVE WHOLE PENCE. WASTED! And now I've found it, so everything was okay, but it did get me worried.

Us bookworms worry an awful lot. About library cards and overdue fines and loads of over things. Things like these:

#1 - Overdue fines.

 Aargh. I miss the good old days, when my county council wouldn't charge them for children's books. No luck any longer, I suppose. But what's really annoying is that libraries only send reminder emails a few days before the books are due, so if I'm away or busy. . . there's probably a setting I can change somewhere, but I haven't figured it out. So for now, I just have to keep track as best I can and rely on my worries to keep me on track. 

#2 - Books that have not been published yet.

 As an incredibly impatient person, I hate waiting for books to be released. I fret. It's so bad I try not to add pre-orders to my Amazon or Goodreads list, so as not to tempt myself: the longest I ever kept one was Life by Committee, and I'm pretty sure that it stayed for over eight months.

The last week was the worst. By far.

#3 - Having to request books from the library.

 See above.

#4 - Books not doing what you want them to.
 Mind you, even we impatient folk can cling onto certain things. I've been known not to start a book because I'm worried finishing it will ruin everything. And sometimes, especially with trilogies, the ending of the first one is so perfect I won't start the next because I know it's going to fall apart. *cough* Angel by L.A Weatherly *cough*.

#5 - Damage.
And I worry terribly about bad things happening to my books. Or anyone else's. Once, I sort of threw up on a library book, and it was horrid. Just cut me some slack, okay? I was in hospital on medication. You can, however, blame me for that time one got ripped.
I feel awful.

#6 - Loss.
Losing a book is like losing a part of your soul. If you borrow one and don't give it back, I will quickly become your worst nightmare. If you value my friendship, give it back NOW.

#7 - Fates unknown.
I am constantly, constantly aware that other things may happen to my babies. I'm always worried. So don't do anything to them. I am oddly possessive of the library's things too.

***
I wonder: what do you bookworms like to worry about? And do you EVER lend people your books?
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Words for a a Wednesday: Star Crazy Me

Star Crazy Me by Jean Ure is officially my favourite 'sugar' read. It's sweet, meaningful and a little bit girly, but has a lot of brilliant boy characters too. So anyone can read it - and you must!

I adore all of this book, from start to finish. But this sentence is the best:
"My dear girl, if you had been hit over the head by some young thug late at night, I doubt you'd be able to identify them either. All I was able to tell the police was that it was a black thug rather than a white thug, and I can't really see how that is going to be much help, considering there are countless young thugs of both shades roaming the streets."
When I first read it, I laughed so, so hard. The woman speaking is an elderly lady called Mrs P, who is so spunky it's almost untrue. She coaches the main character, Carmen, in her singing, managing her almost daily diva fits, and I love that she's both posh and hardcore. The phrasing of this quote is brilliantly characteristic of her well-spoken sarcasm.

Another thing I like is how it handles the potential racism of the situation: it's matter-of-fact, and doesn't tiptoe around the terms 'black' or 'white', yet it is completely equal. Later on in the paragraph, Carmen thinks about what a shame it is. That she's sorry people will say it's "one of them" again.
I conquer completely with everything Star Crazy Me says about life.

***
Do you? I suppose you'll have to do some reading to find out. . .
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Dear Readers...

As I have been reading for most of today, your post is instead a short service announcement, which I present for your enjoyment (and also so you do what I want). Read Boy Meets Boy by David Leviathan. It's a glitterball of surreal amazingness. Sophie McKenzie's Girl, Missing is also absolutely hardcore brilliant.

Now, could I have a new recommendation or two? My To Read list is dwindling. 

Thank you, minions.

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Fictional Couples: The Mailbag

As per usual, I found the idea for this post on someone else's blog. This is a very late, unofficial part of Teens Can Write Too's April 2015 Blog Chain.
***

Here are a series of letters to my favourite fictional couples, from books, films and TV. I do a lot of shipping, let me tell you (especially when it comes to Potter), but before any angry fangirls/boys stab me over my ships, I would like to remind you that everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I really don't mind if you disagree (really, I promise) but please play nice. I am a sensitive little munchkin. *sniff sniff*

Dear Viodore,
You don't seem to have an official ship name, which is exceptionally annoying, but I've come up with the best I can, not being very good at creating them.

Your book (All the Bright Places, if anyone hasn't been paying attention) snapped me in two. It was brutal, but necessary, for sure. You're two broken kids, but together, you're whole. You might be lost, but together, you don't exactly want to be found. I have never known two people more deserving of a happy ending.

Dear Christill,
Again, not an official name. Christina and Will from Divergent.
Yes, Four and Tris were good. But I always had more of a soft spot for you, mostly because it wasn't a slow-burn romance. You knew your feelings for each other straight away, and you admitted them. It's so refreshing to know people who admitted they were in love, instead of being forced together.

I cried at other deaths in these books. But there was one I cried at because I knew what it meant for you. (Notice, those who have read the book, how skilfully I avoided spoilers?)

My Luneville,
I wish you were canon. I do know that not everyone meets their soulmate in Secondary (not high) School, but IT WOULD HAVE BEEN SO PERFECT. Two outcasts, finding their place together.

Summing up my thoughts entirely. ^^^

Dear Hugh Collins and Dot Williams,
Anyone who knows who these two are gets a mound of chocolate. They're from an (I think) Australian TV show called Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, which isn't very well known, hence why I can't find a ship name for them. If you guys watch this, you'll get some idea of the cuteness going on. Aww!

Anyway, on with the letter:

Guys, please stop being so self-conscious - you wouldn't know romance if it bit you in the face. You're a perfect couple and you deserve a life together, so don't hold back. Hugh, you're going to need to propose to her at some point, so just man up and do it. Dot, please believe that you're beautiful. Please believe that, no matter about the difference in your upbringings, he will love you more than any other man can.

(Also, can you guys introduce your parents at some point? The scene between Hugh and his in-laws would be absolutely hilarious.)

Dearest, dearest Ronmione,

You guys are my favourite couple in the entire world. I love the way that, way before you were in love, you were friends. And even before that, you hated each other.

I love the way that you got mad sometimes, and your feuds were that we all knew you'd fall in love some day. The Yule Ball broke my heart, and Ron, you broke Lavender's (we might not have liked her, but it wasn't cool). Harmony makes sense sometimes, it really does, but I always liked the fact that the girl didn't fall in love with the main character.
Thank you for showing me that sometimes, just sometimes, stereotypes don't always fit. And that's okay.

***
Which fictional couples do you ship REALLY hard? And what would you like to say to them?
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Does Popularity Make a Blog Successful?

You amazing people may already have seen my excitable tweeting about this, but Bloglovin' is holding an August Follower Challenge - any blog with less than 10,000 Bloglovin' followers can enter, and the three who grow their fanbase the most will get featured on the website. It's halfway through already, but it sounds like a fun idea. And, if you want to, you can follow me! *puppy eyes*.
***
Urgh.

For some reason, I do not feel like blogging today. But I shall, because I'm a good little person and I'm actually starting to like you minions (just kidding, I always liked you). I also have this thing going on called the Big Blogging Bonanza, so I will write words. About blogging.

Does popularity make a blog successful?
The internet seems to think it does. I mean, have a look at this - I Googled 'How to Make Your Blog Successful', and here are the results. They all mentioned something to do with popularity (although one then says it isn't everything).

Fluke? I think not. Take a look at a Yahoo search with the same keywords, especially the bottom:


Ask.com:

Aol search (I've scrolled past the ads):

And, after looking at some of these posts, I can see their point. I'll probably be book-marking some for future use, when I want to meet some more fabulous people. The problem is that we seem to have mixed up the words 'successful' and 'popular'. To me, a successful blog makes its blogger and readers happy; it doesn't matter whether those readers are a group of ten or ten thousand.

Of course, we all want as many people as possible to read our stuff, which is why we spend a lot of time publicising and search-engine-optimizing and organising bloggy link-ups. But I think it's important to remember that readers are not the be all and end all. A blog is your thing. A blog should make you happy. That's why, when you see a piece of advice you don't feel like following, because blog memes aren't your thing or pictures make you frustrated or you don't have the money for your own domain name, don't follow it.

If someone else wants to have complete control over a blog, they may as well write their own.

I know that blogging makes us all want to tear our hair out sometimes (see the top of this post, where I basically complain about having to write it) but that shouldn't be because of dwindling pageviews or because you're only fourth up on a keyword search.

If you're having one of those days, when you curl up into a ball and sob because no-one seems to care about the stuff you are ripping your soul out for, don't feel ashamed. I was having one of those days today too. Just try and remember what you started blogging for, what got you excited about it in the first place. Remember that feeling of power and relief when you wrote your first post.

The fact is that somebody does care. You care.

Make sure you keep caring, because I can guarantee that, no matter how few readers your data says you have, there is someone out there who will eventually read your posts. As long as you keep trying, keep commenting on other blogs and meeting new people, it'll happen someday.

A successful blog is the best online presence its blogger can come up with, and publicising is a part of that. It's just not the most important part.

***
Why did you guys start blogging, if you blog? And non-bloggers - what support do you have for us? We're a sensitive bunch, and sometimes we need it.
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