Another Half-Happy Birthday: Our Blog Story

What does it take to make a blog?  Besides a computer, internet connection, and credit card, of course?  Some might say passion, intelligence, computer saavy.  But for me at least, I think the key ingredient is this: I’ve got nothing better to do.

In Janie’s case, she could be working on essays and novels that would add a few digits to her checking account.  In my case, I could do laundry.  Or mop la cocina.  Or review our Spanish vocabulary so I’d know what I just said.  But when it comes down to it, Janie and I just think writing scorching reviews of popular books and buddying up with kids’ book authors is more fun!

I’m joking, of course.  But truthing as well!  Yesterday, I read World Magazine’s crisp and refreshing interview with Tullian Tchividjian, Billy Graham’s grandson.  In it, he said that he had once run from God because he was afraid God would deny him the fun things in life.  But when he finally gave in, God didn’t merely take things away.  “I saw He doesn’t take away your excitement, He changes what you get excited about. The things I used to hate I started to love, and the things I used to love I started to hate.”   And that’s something of the reason Janie and I have nothing better to do.  Speaking for myself, it’s not books per se that get me jazzed.  But seeking God and His thoughts through kids’ books…now that is worth going mopless for an hour or two each day!

Janie gave some background yesterday as to how we got started.  Click here to read it, as well as her top ten posts.  Maybe on our real birthday I’ll give my side of the story.  I certainly don’t feel that I’ve done most of the work.  Like any happy partnership, our contributions have been complementary and suited to our strengths.  Yet I don’t take for granted that Janie is much more seasoned in the writing life, and for the most part, I consider myself a Timothy working under the wise hand of a Paul.

Now for a summary of how we got from launch to here.  Here being six months into the blog with over 10,000 visitors, over 20,000 reads from 20 countries, and (BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!!) an invitation for Janie to appear on Moody Radio’s Chris Fabry Live! to talk about YA books!  (Watch for the live link tomorrow afternoon!)

In short, in February of 2011, we loaded the site with 7 or 8 posts and sent out a few invitations.  Susan Olasky of World Magazine was one of those early initiates, and she would turn out to be our first big connection with readers.  Here’s what she kindly wrote about us in her March 26 column:

WORLD columnist Janie Cheaney and former children’s book editor Emily Whitten have launched a good book blog for Christian parents and teachers called Redeemed Reader…. Both are experienced homeschoolers aiming “to help… kids and grown-ups with the task of ‘thinking Christianly’ about what they read—as well as evaluating and selecting good literature.

If we didn’t know the Lord was sovereign over email, our next big connection proved it.  Tim Challies was kind enough to read an email I sent him (the cold call of the internet), check out our site, and give us his stamp of approval.  He was kind enough to put his reputation on the line and do a podcast with us—the second one I ever attempted.  In fact, it was he who actually gave me advice (in a very gentlemanly way) on the technology I needed to make the podcast better…and for that, all the authors I’ve interviewed since are thankful!  In his interview, he said, “I can’t possibly read all the books my kids will want to read, so it’s great to have sites like yours that will do some of that screening.  Just like …Plugged In.com does a lot of movie screening for me.  It’s a great service and I’m very grateful for it.”  (You can hear the rest of the interview with Tim Challies here.)

We then had the great joy of writing many posts in relative quiet—reviews,  cultural analysis, and more.  Four to six each week, building the library we have now of over 100 posts.  I’m not sure why I didn’t anticipate that many of our posts would connect to the season—Easter, mother’s day, father’s day, summer reading.  Another thing we soon learned: if you have no marketing budget, author/speaker interviews are not only fun but a great way of finding like-minded readers!  From our first interviews with Simonetta Carr and Kevin Twit, we had the joy of meeting new folks and benefiting from their encouragement and advice.

By the time summer rolled around, Janie and I felt like we were hitting our stride, and we were able to run several contests.  Our Mom with a Blog contest was my favorite, since we got to meet so many of our readers by reading about them on their blogs.  (Definitely planning to run that one again next year!)  New interview opportunities continued to open up, this time with authors Dr. Gene Edward Veith, Douglas Bond and Jonathan Rogers.  Oh, and we added more color in the form of book-based activities like our Thomas the Train post and free book links like this one.

One of the main differences in blogging verses essay writing is that it offers an opportunity for dialogue.  About this time we ran another of my favorite series, this one about graduation, including a question to you regarding the raising of your kids—What Would You Do Differently?  And I was so blessed by the responses of our readers to that question!  Responses like this from Lizzie, “My advice is to keep a humble heart and dwell daily in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, realizing the only ‘perfection’ you or your children will ever experience is through the blood of Christ.”  (If you need inspiration regarding child-rearing, I highly recommend the comments on this post.)  

As we go forward, I hope we can do more of that—lean on the experience and wisdom of our readers.  We certainly hope for more sparkling author interviews to inspire and entertain.  (Spoiler: we have one coming up with Sherry Early soon of semicolon.com.  Watch for that in the next couple of weeks!)  And Lord willing, you can count on us for more book reviews and analysis of publishing trends as well as issues of the heart.

In summary, thank you for your support over these past months!  We promise to continue seeking the Lord’s wisdom in regard to stories for our kids.  Because, as I said before, we really have nothing better to do.

I know I promised to compile my top ten list for today, but I think we’ve got enough meat as it is already.  Maybe Thursday or Friday I’ll have room…Also, don’t forget to check back tomorrow for the link to Janie’s interview!  I’ll post the time on our Facebook feed, www.facebook.com/redeemedreader, as soon as I find out when it will be.  See you all then!

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2 Comments

  1. Marlo on July 18, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Nothing better to do! Heehee . . . I bet. Glad you don’t (wink), and happy half-birthday!

  2. Marlo on July 18, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Nothing better to do! Heehee . . . I bet. Glad you don’t (wink), and happy half-birthday!

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