Hello hello hello!
I’m baaaaaaaaaack — just in time to celebrate five years of Alphabet Soup!
Wow, it’s very hard to believe it’s been that long and that I’m still here after 1400+ posts on 2 different platforms,
348 15 pies, 569 a few cupcakes ☺, 145 book reviews, and many, many days when I asked myself, “Why am I doing this again?”
Who’d have thought a very private, non tech-savvy introvert who’d never even read a single food blog (gasp!), could somehow keep finding something to say week after week?
Wonders never cease.
I named the blog, “Alphabet Soup,” because at the time I was writing my first chapter book about an alphabet collector who acquires a miniature uncle via mail order for the letter U, and included, “soup” because of my first picture book, Dumpling Soup. I was intrigued, and still am, by blogging as an art form, a unique creative outlet that allows me to indulge my love for journaling and creative nonfiction, letter writing, children’s literature, photography, culinary history, typography, food art, food memoirs and baking.
I have learned SO much in five years, only to realize how little I actually know about everything. I have new respect for professional book reviewers, renewed love for teachers and librarians, even have a new appreciation for editors, i.e., “inappropriate submissions.”
Having said that, as a blogger and a person who reads many, many blogs, nothing is anything or more important than connecting with good people — listening to, supporting, sharing, reciprocating, respecting and being humbled by. It’s a delicate balance – establishing a voice intimate enough to make the reader feel you are speaking directly to him/her when in fact it’s a public forum where you have to carefully balance the personal with the professional, and have to constantly second guess at what people actually care about.
5 Things I Wish I’d Known at the Start
- Evil interlopers like Twitter and Facebook will lure away some of your blog readers, and some of the “friends” whom you’ve invested years in getting to know through their blogs will instantly disappear.
- People like what they like and who they like. You can’t please everyone.
- If you want to blog about cupcakes, then you have to eat more than a few cupcakes, and at some point all your clothes will magically shrink all by themselves.
- It would have been so much easier to have learned CSS, html, and digital photography in grade school. Of course, even better if any of that stuff had even existed when I was in grade school.
- There will be stress, insecurity and angst about reviewing books or interviewing authors whom you admire a lot. You will worry about doing them or their work justice, but you can only do your best and often it won’t be good enough.
Five years ago, I didn’t know where my blogging journey would take me. I listened to my heart, followed my instincts and some things surprisingly took on a life of their own (the blog was called Alphabet Soup before I ever made my first bowl).
5 Stages in “Soup of the Day” Evolution
- 2007 – 2008: A casual mention of a new book’s release in a post. (Time: 5 minutes)
- 2009: A short post dedicated to a book’s release, including balloons, cover image, and a few extra rah-rahs. (Time: 30 minutes)
- 2010: A post that’s a review and recommendation of a new release, including at least 6 images and a custom bowl of alphabet soup. (Time: 2-4 hours)
- 2011: A post that’s a review and recommendation of a new release, including at least 10 images, 3 interior spreads, a custom bowl of soup, additional foodie photos, and links to other blog reviews and interviews. (Time: 3-4 days)
- 2012: A party-oriented thematic post that’s a review and recommendation of a new release, requiring finding or making props, including 20+ images/spreads, a custom bowl of soup, extra foodie photos and links to other blog reviews and interviews and lotsa proofreading. (Time: 4-6 days).
Soup of the Day posts take a bit of time, but they are worth every minute of effort if it makes at least one person smile.
5 Best Things About Blogging
- Tasty research, reading wider and deeper, learning to write faster for a target audience, great brush-up on discipline.
- Going on foodie field trips, trying new restaurants and recipes.
- Being able to write extended, candid, personalized “reviews” with cool images and no word restrictions, and getting to choose which books you want or don’t want to feature.
- Being able to meet online or interview people you admire, whom you’d never have the courage to speak to in person, or the opportunity to connect with otherwise.
- Learning learning learning — about the people who read, write, illustrate, sell, publish and promote books, and, who’s eating what, when, why, and how.
5 Highlights of 2012
- Interviewing Maira Kalman with Jules of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast (thanks again, mrs. b!)
- April Poetry Potluck
- 118 Author Recipes!
- Moving to WordPress and meeting some wonderful new friends and bloggers (and the auto-backup feature really works!)
- Ahem, Amen!
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* * * Alphabet Soup 5th Birthday Giveaway! * * *
Since we are celebrating Julia Child’s 100th Birthday all next week, I thought you might like a chance to win a copy of Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz (Knopf, 2012), which is officially out today! It’s been receiving rave reviews (including *starred reviews* from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly), and I cannot wait to devour every word.
You don’t even have to have an interest in cooking to appreciate Julia’s remarkable achievements — she lived life large on her own terms, showed how important it is to follow one’s passion (regardless of what age you discover it), never stopped working, continually strived for excellence and perfection, and always put people first. And how she made us laugh!
Along with the book, you can win one of these adorable soup necklaces created by Catrina’s Toybox in California. The ceramic bowl is approximately 6/8″ in diameter, the soup is made from resin, and the letters are handmade in polymer clay. It comes with an 18″ silver-tone chain with a ring clasp and a wee spoon. Catrina has agreed to personalize your soup.
If, on the off-chance you aren’t into soup (ahem, ahem!), feel free to choose any necklace from Catrina’s Etsy Shop. She specializes in food miniatures — here are a few other options:
To win a copy of Dearie and a necklace, simply leave a comment at this post telling us what your favorite kind of soup is, no later than midnight (EDT) Saturday, August 18, 2012. Extra entries for blogging, Tweeting, FBing, etc. (mention in your comment).
You can also enter by sending an email with “BIRTHDAY” in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please.
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Wait — there’s more! We’re also giving away copies of these two children’s picture book biographies about Julia Child next week. Read the interviews for all the details. I hope you enter all three giveaways!
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♥ 5 Reasons to Love Alphabet Soup Readers ♥
- sooooooo smart
- perky and polite
- always hungry
Thanks, Everyone, for your continued support!! It’s been a great first year at WordPress ☺!
♥ This post is brought to you by the number 5 and the letters, A, B, C, D, and E. Chew on them; they taste so good.
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This post is being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share any food-related posts (recipes, fiction/nonfiction/movie/cookbook reviews, photos, musings, etc.). Come join in the deliciousness!
Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.