Armchair BEA 2012: Introductions

I love books and reading, so when I discovered (this morning) that I can participate in the Book Expo America (currently happening in New York City) through the glory of the Internet, I was just thrilled.  Honestly, I’m all about experiencing humanity through the buffer of my computer, and it’s about books!  (Yes, that is an absolutely appropriate use of the exclamation point.)  Anyway, being rather neurotic, I’m all aflutter with nerves.  Am I doing this correctly?  Am I supposed to wait for a confirmation email before I jump on the bandwagon?  Did I make the right decision in choosing this moment to pop my Twitter cherry, having carefully avoided it (Twitter, that is) for so long?  Will my utter ignorance of Twitter and/or blogging culture be immediately obvious to everyone (well, now you know…)?  Enthusiasm overcomes caution, however, so I proceed.

What’s Armchair BEA?  Click on the link and read all about it.  You may even feel compelled to join up.  The first activity in this event is an introduction.  The folks at Armchair BEA provided a list of 10 questions (click here to see the full list) from which participating bloggers can choose 5 questions to answer.  Keep reading to see which questions I chose to answer and how I answered them!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

My name is Kelly, and I always have a really hard time answering these types of questions.  I’m just too literal.  I know how I’m supposed to answer (I’m a reader, writer, and mom, not necessarily in that order), but then I get distracted by all the different meanings that question could have–Who am I, really?  Do I know?  Is it possible for me to know who I am?  Can I truly be identified by the things that I do, or does my concept of self go deeper than that?  Would I actually be the same person if I did not do the things that identify me?  Do we really know ourselves better than other people know us because we are privy to our internal dialogue, or does that internal dialogue actually distract us from who/what we are?–and I spin off into crazy land.  So here are some things that are true about me:  I never stop reading.  I love romance novels and classic literature, but I read far more of the former than the latter.  I am completely neurotic (but you knew that).  I get unaccountably annoyed by homonym switch-ups (e.g. “She had the reigns in her hands!”).  I’m a mom, and I love my kids.  I’m a wife, and I love my husband.  I drive my husband nutty.  I work full-time.

I’m very new to blogging, having just started this blog in February of this year.  A good friend of mine started a blog two years ago about drugstore makeup, and, since I was in desperate need of a creative outlet, I decided I should get one going as well.  I’m very glad I made that choice, but it cracks me up that my blog is essentially a celebration of neurosis.

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?

I just finished (this morning) One Week as Lovers by Victoria Dahl.  I enjoyed the book, but I’m still working through what I really think about it.  It’s strange: there wasn’t anything about the book that put me off, precisely, but I’m not sure that it’s accurate to say that I liked it.  Have you ever experienced that before?  My favorite reading discovery (so far) of 2012 has been Elizabeth Hoyt’s canon.  Golly, her books are good.

Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.

I was a cheerleader for one awful year in 1992-93.  It was horrifying (both for me and for any spectators, honestly).  I have (had, even then) too much self-awareness to have a good time prancing around in a short skirt pretending an enthusiasm for men and sports when I’d much rather be reading a book in a corner of the room.

What is your favorite feature on your blog (i.e. author interviews, memes, something specific to your blog)?

I really love how scattered my blog is.  I try to plan out my posts, but I usually fail.  I know I should be a wee bit more specialized, but I really enjoy thinking that a wide audience could find enjoyment in my blog (the potential is there, anyway… time will tell if I am able to follow through).

Have your reading tastes changed since you started blogging? How?

My reading tastes haven’t changed at all, but I started out viewing my love of the romance genre as a guilty pleasure, a quirk of my character about which I was supposed to feel ashamed, and I’ve decided that it’s a waste of time and energy to feel ashamed about something that I really love.  Romance novels are fabulously fun, and my blog has helped me to be a bit more honest with myself and with the world.

The Exclamation Point – a discussion and guide to usage

I’ve always been a bit exuberant.  I just have so much to say, and there never seems to be enough time or space to say it all.  I talk quickly, and I tend to be parenthetical.  I write quickly, and I am tangential.  I have this horror of being misunderstood, and I somehow think that tangents and parenthetical thoughts will help me to communicate exactly what I mean (will provide the context of my thoughts) in the least amount of time (if I’m speaking) or the fewest number of words (if I’m writing).  In my early school years, my teachers always had the same thing to say: “Kelly, you write well and with great enthusiasm, but you must limit the number of parenthetical references you include.”  When writing, I have to constantly battle my impulse to include a parenthetical thought (or two) in every damn sentence.  So if, while you read my blog, you think that there are perhaps a few too many tangents or parenthetical comments, you have no idea what I’m capable of bringing to the party.  This is me being restrained.

One could not be as exuberant as I without occasionally overusing that strange punctuation mark: the exclamation point.  I used to wonder why it even exists if there are such stringent rules limiting its use.  To me, the exclamation point (and all of the rules that attend/restrict it) is rather like a wooden spoon and a giant pot that one would hand to a toddler.  They’re obviously meant to be used as instruments of joy, to be banged upon in an explosion of obnoxious, creative energy, but the adults never like it when the children are so unconstrained, do they?  Instead that pot and spoon just sit there, taunting the child with their unusable potential.  That’s how I feel about exclamation points.  As a serious adult, I’m not supposed to use them, but, oh, how I want to!

Well… I don’t think anyone could confuse me with a serious adult.  I self-identify with toddlers…

Anyway, for all my enthusiasm for the dear exclamation point, I do think it’s possible to use it in ridiculous ways, and it really annoys me when my favorite punctuation mark is so misused.  To be honest, the main reason I haven’t bothered to read the 50 Shades of Grey series is that several book review blogs mentioned the author’s outrageous exclamation point use.  Ana entered the elevator and pushed the button for the fourth floor!   Sebastian was so angry!  (not actual quotes from the book(s).)

So I decided to write a quirky little guide to the exclamation point, and I’d love to hear/read feedback on whether I’m right or cracked in the head (could be both, honestly).

The Exclamation Point – A Guide to Usage

Correct usage:  to punctuate an exclamation, to denote enthusiasm, to provide commentary on questionable behavior, to convey silliness, to creep people out with inappropriate enthusiasm (workplace use).

Incorrect usage: to punctuate statements that are neither enthusiastic, ironic, nor silly.

Examples of Proper Usage

Look out!  There’s a bear coming right for you!
I can’t wait for dinner tonight; I’m going to eat a steak the size of my head!
While I was out on my walk last night, I saw a dude who was out jogging wearing nothing but his running shoes and a sweater (because it’s cold)… !!?!!
And then they fell in a ditch and died!
Thanks for responding so quickly and helping to coordinate this visit!!

Examples of Improper Usage

Jonathan was wearing jeans! (exception: if it’s completely bizarre that Jonathan would wear jeans, that exclamation point could justly indicate the writer’s surprise at encountering denim in connection with Jonathan.)
Betty made a stop on the way home to get some coffee. She added two sugar packets and some cream! Armed with her coffee, she headed home and planned to spend the evening watching Dancing with the Stars.
I went to a funeral yesterday! (This one is just a socially unacceptable usage… we aren’t supposed to be excited about death and its various celebrations.)

Exception

An exclamation point is an appropriate terminal mark to any sentence that references bacon (e.g. I ordered a BLT! or That macaroni and cheese has bacon in it!).  Bacon is always a reason to celebrate(!).