Lauren and I go way back. Seriously. To give you some idea, when I met Lauren, the biggest thing in social networking was…wait for it…MySpace. Yeah. It was, like, 2008.
It started when I saw a call for submissions for Shooting Stars Mag. I think it turned up in my email inbox, but I don’t know exactly how. I just remember that it was for an upcoming LGBT issue. So I offered something having to do with Becoming Chloe, but I can’t remember if it was a review copy or some kind of related content. Yeah, it was a while ago. And I’m old.
Here’s what I remember very well. My agent was encouraging me to get out on MySpace, but I had no social networking experience, and I just wasn’t quite sure where or how to jump into that pool. So Lauren made a MySpace page for me. And hooked me up with initial friend requests to other writers and book people. Not for money. Just to be helpful and nice. Then I got the hang of it, and expanded it on my own, and moved on to Facebook. (And later Twitter, which didn’t even exist at the time, that I know of.) And now social networking feels like breathing. But none of that is the point. The point is that Lauren is a very caring and giving person, who has reached out to me—and many others—again and again.
Let me segue from there straight into a first question.
Me: You do so much giving on the Internet. You held those auctions to benefit First Book. And you did those fundraisers for two young people with medical needs. And the Living Beyond Tolerance Scholarship. And I expect this is part of a bigger pattern, but I don’t know every instance. Will you please tell me, and my readers, what all you have done that is not for profit? Also, what does it bring into your life that makes it worthwhile?
Lauren: Thank you so much! I love doing anything I can to help people out, even if what I get in return isn’t so obvious. Honestly, my greatest reward in giving or helping other people is their reaction. I love to see that I’m helping or that they appreciate it. They don’t need to pay me or do anything back. If I know it means something to them, then it means something to me. All the items you mentioned are the biggest things that I’ve done not for profit, at least online. In my “real life” I volunteer with the teen programs at my local library and have been doing so for the past two years. I’ve also helped out with my college in random ways when I’m able; the most recent was judging middle school essays for a BookFest my school puts on every year.
Me: Shooting Stars Mag is, I guess, not exactly a blog. More of an online Zine, based on the name. I see many similarities between it and a book blog, but are there also differences? What sets it apart?
Lauren: I came up with the name Shooting Stars Mag in 2007, when I first started the blog. At the time, the idea really was to create mini online zines for each issue, with a large focus being music. The blog changed as we realized what did and did not work for us, as well as founding members going off and doing their own things. I’m the only original member of Shooting Stars, as it was my creation, but I couldn’t have started it off without a lot of help from people like Keaton (who created the blog I have now) and Braxton (who worked with me on getting band interviews in the very beginning). Nowadays, I’m trying to get back into the music side of the blog and make it more an entertainment site instead of a pure book blog, which I suppose does set it apart.
Me: According to Blogger, the following is a list of your blogs:
- · Bridge the Gap
- · All Grown Up Parties
- · Getting to Know Willow
- · Let's Get Beyond Tolerance
- · Shooting Stars Mag
- · Ya Blog newsletter
- · Leave a Mark
Holy cow, that’s a lot of blogs! Are some of them group efforts? Anything you want to tell us about any of them?
Lauren: The YA Blog Newsletter was a group effort that I was asked to join a long time ago, but I’m pretty sure it’s no longer active at the moment. Bridge the Gap was a blog I started to focus on foreign entertainment. I eventually decided all of that could be added to Shooting Stars and the blog is still there, with all the posts I made, but I recently used it for the Let’s Get Beyond Tolerance scholarship auctions. Finally, I’ll mention the All Grown Up Parties blog because it’s my newest creation. Hopefully by the time this interview is posted, I will have a lot more posts, but it’s really just an area for me to share the parties my friends and I throw (and we’re in our twenties) and the crafts/gifts that I make.
Me: I actually know something about Let’s Get Beyond Tolerance, because you involved Lee Bantle and me from the start. But will you tell my readers, who may not know, what you hope to achieve with this blog?
Lauren: The theme of the blog is LGBT entertainment (music, movies, books, news, etc.) that is mostly focused on the YA age group…or those that love it! I hope to build it up more this year, but the point of the whole blog is really what the title says (courtesy of Lee Bantle): Let’s Get Beyond Tolerance. People talk about tolerating those that are different from you, but who really wants to be tolerated? Wouldn’t you rather be accepted? So I hope to showcase things that will hopefully enlighten, start smart discussions, and just simply entertain!
Me: I have to ask it: Where do you find the time?
Lauren: Oh, gosh, I don’t know! I’m definitely focused more on the Shooting Stars Mag blog in terms of that, but like I said above, I want to build up Let’s Get Beyond Tolerance more and hopefully work on the All Grown Up Parties blog too. I guess it’s just something that I love, and when I get comments that show people are reading, then it pushes me to do more. I just try to prioritize as much as I can and in terms of book reviews, I’m always reading!
Me: I know you fairly recently branched out into offering publicity and marketing services for authors, which is brilliant, because you know the online book world so well. Are you still doing that? How is it going? How can authors contact you if they are interested?
Lauren: Yes, I am still doing that, and it’s going well. I’m actually working with a picture book author right now, Allyn Stotz (The Pea in Peanut Butter). Summer is always the best time to start working with someone, so I’m definitely seeking out new clients right now if anyone is interested! If authors wish to contact me, they can go through the email on my blog or just go through the Contact Me button on my website: www.laurenashleybecker.com. The site gives a list of what I do, possible prices, testimonials from people I’ve worked with in the past, and a current/past client list.
Me: What are your plans for the future, and how do books fit in?
Lauren: Right now, I have about a year left in undergraduate school and I hope to get into graduate school for Library Science. I would love to be a Young Adult librarian at some point in the future, so books will definitely play a huge role in that. Not so much career-wise, but another goal I have is to publish a book and then hopefully be able to continue doing so.
Me: Will you recommend a few other book blogs you think are worth visiting?
[Me, note: John of Dreaming in Books is going to be featured in an upcoming Blogger Wednesday post.]
Me: Please write your own question, and answer it.
Lauren: What is your latest music love?
Ed Sheeran, because he has an amazing voice (and he’s British), writes incredibly beautiful lyrics, and is just wonderful live!!
As I noted last week on Adam's interview, Adam and Lauren have teamed up to do a giveaway and blog hop devoted to my work. Which I did not know they were going to do when I asked them to be part of this series. I chose bloggers I know and like, and whose work I enjoy, not the ones who can do the most for me. But it is a great example of what's so wonderful about them!
Next week on Blogger Wednesday I'm interviewing Nikki-ann of Notes of Life, a UK-based blogger. You'll like her! See you then!