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I have a confession, and it's a bit embarrassing only because I'd like to believe I'm pretty astute when it comes to cutting edge...well, cutting edge everything. I'm the guy who tries to know it all about whatever's awesome, and one thing that I've always kept my finger on is blogging and the effect it has on pop culture. I follow a series of fashion blogs, art blogs, music blogs, news blogs, even bicycle blogs, subscribing for daily updates, scrolling through comments and often contributing my own to the muck. A true blogophile. But it never crossed my mind that there are YA book bloggers, jotting about the latest stories to hit stands for teens.

Well, sometimes the best education comes in the form of barbecue chicken skewers, silver dollar crab cakes, and fancy apple brie crustini. Oh, and a room full of bloggers in a swanky event space, complete with bathroom attendant and black-tie, silver-tray waiters interrupting every single conversation to offer another finger's worth of paradise.

The event was the Simonteen Blogger Preview Party. What was I doing there? I was one of the authors being "previewed" which sounds really cool (and it was) but when I sat in the green room (did I mention there was a green room? There was totally a green room) I started thinking about the bloggers I know in other arenas. For instance, if a reputable fashion blogger says she hates a sweater, guess what? That sweater becomes an instant sale item right before it's sent to Ross. And if a famous music blogger gives you a rating of one out of five stars, you can kiss that dream concert at Madison Square Garden goodbye, and get comfortable with being an opening act for an opening act at a dive bar in the Lower East Side. So as I sat there nibbling on some kind of quiche, I thought to myself, what if these bloggers — these YA book reviewers, with thousands of readers, hate my work? What if their sweet demeanors and delightful faces are all masking drooling jackal-mouthed snarls waiting to eat me alive? What if this is all fun and games for them, fodder for internet bullying and teenage trolling? Oh no. Oh NO!

"Ladies and gentlemen, I now introduce to you, Jason Reynolds.

I walked slowly into the spotlight and took a seat across from the host who was prepared to interview me for twenty minutes while the bloggers sat, ready to tweet and blog and "socially mediate." Ready to make me, or break me.

The first question. "So, Jason, I know this is a tricky way to start, but if you could sum up what your book, When I Was the Greatest is about, what would you say?"

Talk about pressure!

I looked out at the crowd, surveying the faces, some friendly, some curious, some absolute stone. I licked my lips, swallowed hard, and took a deep breath (in that order.) Then, knowing that the fate of my first book, my debut novel, the biggest accomplishment in my life thus far, was in the hands of about forty book reviewers, I opened my mouth, and spoke.

(Okay, so it really wasn't this ominous. As a matter of fact, it wasn't ominous at all. These bloggers were amazing and I had a fantastic time! But, I really was floored and a bit blind-sided by the fact that bloggers in the YA book world hold just as much weight as bloggers everywhere else. I'm not sure why I didn't assume this to be the case, especially since I am a YA writer and I know how awesome this whole world is. Maybe I've just been too busy reading fashion and music blogs. Yikes. Lesson learned.)


Jason Blog


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