Friday, July 30, 2010

All Eyes On: One Big Adventure

I am a failure with my blogger spotlight, but I'm going to work on bringing it back! If you're interested in being featured, email me.

As of right now I've changed the name of this feature from Blogger Spotlight to All Eyes On. What do you think of the name change? I needed something catchy and this is all I can think of at the moment.

Today all eyes should be on Najela who blogs at One Big Adventure. I first met Najela through her comments. She is a rarity in that she comments and when you reply she actually replies back and then *gasp* you are having an ACTUAL CONVERSATION. That's what I want my comment format to be. I admit sometimes I don't reply to comments all the time, but I'm working on it and sometimes I'll email you or visit your blog and comment there. Anyway, that's how Najela and I became friends, through her comments which led me to check out her blog. She is creative, fun and ambitious. To get a look at how ambitious she is, check out her 101 in 1001 in which she lists 97 goals she has, ranging from serious to fun. The goals must be completed in 1001 days. It's a great list and I plan to do one too and post it here.

Without further ado here's Najela!

To be blunt: Why should we care about your blog, how is it special?

I suppose what makes my blog special is that it's not strictly a book blog, I like to talk about other things too, like my life, school, guys (or the lack thereof in my case), opinions, writing in general, and things concerning my works in progress...a little something for everybody. The book part of the blog came in when a couple of friends of mine were passing books they normally wouldn't read back and forth and keeping a journal about them. I thought it was cool, but I had no one to pass books to so I decided to blog about the books instead. I typically read the things I enjoy, so that could range from historical fiction of the South to YA paranormal romance and everything in between. The title comes from my high school graduation essay in which I referred to life as a grand adventure, but using grand in a blog title seemed a little pretentious, so I used One Big Adventure instead.

There are so many guys out there, I bet that will change! I love that your blog covers every topic and is so honest. What 2010 debut are you most looking forward to? Non debut?

They debuted already, but I really liked Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez and Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves. Non-debut, definitely Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins,(the last book in the The Hunger Games trilogy). Authors should be tarred and feathered for ending books on such huge cliffhangers.

Hmm maybe not tarred and feathered but some other form of punishment is deserved! I love Bleeding Violet, one of my favorite books of the year. I still need to read Catching Fire, I'm trying to wait so that I can read it with Mockingjay beside me :)

What are your top five favorite POC books?

My top five favorite PoC books are Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (this is the number 1, everything else is in no particular order), A Sung Flung Up To Heaven by Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, Orange Mint and Honey by Carleen Brice, and it's a tie between Highwire Moon by Susan Straight and The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow

Ooo good books! I love Their Eyes Were Watching God and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I need to read Orange Mint and Honey since I really liked Carleen Brice's second novel, Children of the Waters. I just got The Girl Who Fell From the Sky!

Tell us about yourself, anything you want.

I'm a 4.5 year undergraduate at a state college in Southern California. I was a Neuroscience major, but changed my major to psychology. I decided to double major in Creative Writing after chickening out about graduation and graduate school. I plan on finally graduating in Winter 2011 and hopefully taking a low residency MFA for creative writing in the spring (don't tell my mom about that last part). I have had about a million jobs, my favorites of which are Developmental teacher for autistic children and Mad Scientist. I love anime and manga, I play the sax and do taiko (Japanese drumming). I like to read and write and tried my hand at drawing.

Whoa you've been through a lot! Those all sound like great experiences that have helped shape you in some way. I love the saxophone, wish I could play.

If you could have dinner with two POC characters from any book, who would it be and why?

Hmmm, I'd have dinner with Jeremiah Roselind from If You Come Softly and Behind You because he's so smart, intuitive, and so self-aware for his age. I'd also like to talk to Shay from Orange Mint and Honey because we are exactly alike (I never connected with a character so much). It would be so much fun to just chat about life or *spoiler alert for If You Come Softly, highlight to read* The lack thereof in Miah's case)

Miah would be amazing to talk to! I want a real life Miah, be sure to invite me to this dinner ;)

Do you have any advice for people who want to start reading by/about POC but aren't sure where to start? Also what advice would you share with new bloggers?

I didn't start focusing more on PoC books until I read other blogs that focused on them. (sadly, I didn't know anything about book blogs, much less PoC ones) This was after analyzing my reading reviews from the year before and noticing that majority of the authors and/or characters were white. There's nothing wrong with books written by (most) white people or about white characters, there's just an over saturation in the market and frankly, I needed some variety.

Do your research and make sure you read authors who don't resort to stereotypes. These are few and far between, but they're out there. I get a lot of recommendations from blogs such as Reading in Color and research that I do on my own. Just google in what you're looking for, check out the blogs, reviews on amazon and if possible, read a sample page. Also do some reading challenges that others are hosting or that you set up for yourself. Here's a great place to start.

As for tips on blogging, if you want to start a blog, just do it. I started my blog with intention of just keeping track of things, but it's been fun letting it progress into something more. Being a former web fiction writer, comments were my livelihood, it let me know that people were reading. As a blogger, if you want to get comments, you have to open a dialogue and ask your readers questions. And also know that just because people aren't commenting, doesn't mean they aren't reading. If you're going to be a hardcore blogger realize that it's going to take time to build an audience. Read other blogs and see what you like and don't like about them, then create your own voice and blog about the things that interest you. Don't try to be someone you're not. Most of all, have fun with it. Try to blog regularly, but don't burn yourself out trying to keep to a set schedule or it'll be like having a job.

Thanks for talking with me.

Aw thanks for the mention =) I couldn't agree more with this advice, when I started out, I got discouraged by my lack of comments and even today I still have posts with no comments. At first I was discouraged, but sometimes I'll get emails about posts or Tweets. This lets me know that even if people don't comment, they are lurking and reading! Thank you so much for joining us Najela!

Because Najela rocks major socks, she is hosting a giveaway right now so stop by One Big Adventure to enter! (major rhyming right there, heehee)

*I will be out of town from July 24-August 1st and will have no Internet access. I look forward to reading all comments and emails when I return :D


  1. I loved The Girl Who Fell from the Sky! Heidi Durrow was in my hometown twice to do readings, and I didn't get to go either time. :( I'm hoping she'll be back. The scoop is she's wonderful in person.

    Great interview, Najela and Ari! Najela, I'm very glad to find out about One Big Adventure--I've got it bookmarked.

  2. She has really energetic readings. I do hope you get a chance to see her, she's so nice.

    Thanks. I hope you enjoy the blog.


I love to hear from you!! Thank you for sharing :) And don't be Anon, I try to always reply back and I like to know who I'm replying to ;)