Introducing Paper Gains: A Guide to Gifting Children Great Books from Modern Mrs Darcy

paper gains a guide to gifting children great books from modern mrs darcy

Today I’m thrilled to introduce something new. It’s called Paper Gains: a Guide to Gifting Children Great Books from Modern Mrs Darcy. It’s meant to be a fantastic resource for any of you who have wee ones on your gift list this holiday season.  

There’s an expression I’ve heard my dad say a hundred times: “paper gains, paper losses.” He likes to keep an eye on his investments, and as he watches their value rise and fall, he likes to remind me (and himself, I suspect) that you haven’t truly won or lost anything until you cash out.

This guide is called “Paper Gains” because you can’t lose with the books listed here. There are no losses. And these days, that’s a rare investment opportunity.

This guide will steer you towards good books for the young people on your gift list. It’s full of books that they’ll love reading–again and again. Books that will turn them into readers. (Hey, it’s full of books you’ll probably love, too!)

book guide modern mrs darcy children's christmas books

My budding writer is getting her very own copy of Emily of New Moon this Christmas, per the book guide here. Here she is clutching her library copy.

Categories include:

  • Books That Belong in Every Family’s Library
  • Series Kids Love (and Their Parents Love, Too)
  • Books for Young Creatives
  • Delightfully Silly Books
  • Books to Fire Young Imaginations
  • Books for Young Adventurers
  • Books for the Transportation-Obsessed
  • Books to Pour Over
  • and more information on gifting great books to your young reader!

This list certainly isn’t exhaustive–but it doesn’t have to be. Because once a kid develops a taste for good books, they’ll be able to find plenty more of them. The challenge is in learning to recognize what makes for a good book in the first place.

By reading great books, kids learn to recognize great literature. Help out a young reader by gifting them a good book this year.

Here’s wishing you–and the young readers in your lives–a very happy holiday.

Download the free guide here.

paper gains a guide to gifting children great books from modern mrs darcy

What’s your favorite book to gift to young readers?

The Future of the Internet

As I told you before, my husband and I spent last weekend at Jon Acuff’s Quitter Conference. (It was great.)

In the post-conference Writer’s Workshop, Jon said that the heyday of New Blogs is over. The days when a new blog can garner overnight success–like his did–are through. The market is saturated, the competition fierce. The End.

Which leads one to wonder: where are things headed in the online sphere? My husband and I discussed this issue much of the way home. Here’s what we came up with (with some help from Jon).

1. The Internet is going Niche

When the blogosphere first blew up 5 years ago, there were a lot of blogs that appealed to everyone. That’s not true anymore.

More and more, blogs–and everything else online–are serving micro-demographics.  Blogs are going niche. The successful blogs of the future won’t appeal to everyone–they can’t. They will appeal to tiny subsets of the population who are drawn together around a shared, uncommon interest.

Jon Acuff predicted (at the Quitter conference) that the future of the internet doesn’t lie in the way of Instagram. Instagram, he says, is a cul-de-sac. On Instagram, you follow people. You’re stuck following all of the photos from a person. You can’t follow certain interests or categories, and sharing is difficult.

The future of the internet will be a lot more like Pinterest. You don’t just follow people on Pinterest. You can follow specific boards, specific categories. You can customize. Pinterest is very niche, and sharing is simple. Sharing is the very idea behind Pinterest. In the future, the Pinterest model will be the norm online.

2. The Internet is going offline.

The internet will remain the internet, and the internet exists online. But in the future, real, live, in-person meetings brought about by the internet will become increasingly important.

The future of the internet? I humbly suggest to you that the future of the internet is offline.

The future of the internet consists of live events and in-person meetups. The internet will explode as a connector of people–not just digitally, but live-and-in-person.

In the future, we will use the internet to find our people–but once we’ve found them, we’ll continue those relationships in the 3d world. Because digital relationships are great, but trust is built in the real world.

Where do you think the internet is headed? Do you think my predictions are spot-on, or way off-base? Share your thoughts in comments!

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How to Grow Your Blog (While Having Fun and Staying True to Yourself)

how to make friends onlineWhen I asked last month on the MMD facebook page what you all wanted to know about blogging, I got a lot of questions about growing your blog. Getting comments. Increasing pageviews.

I understand. When I began blogging, these questions were at the top of my list, too.

And it wasn’t because I cared a lot about numbers, or because I cared (much) what people thought. But I have found that the most satisfying aspect of blogging–for me and countless other bloggers-is the relationships formed online. And it’s hard to find relationships online if no one’s reading your blog. Personally, I’ve found blogging to be worthwhile for its own sake: I love the process of taking the thoughts out of my head and putting them down on paper (or a computer screen). But it’s the engagement that makes the whole thing sing.

So how do you get there?

I am not an expert. I’ve only been at this thing for a little over a year. But I can tell you what’s worked for me–and I’m confident that you can do it, too. In my experience, the key has been to…

Make friends online.

I’ve racked up 18 months or so of blogging wisdom–which isn’t a lot. But it’s long enough for me to know that the key to my personal blogging happiness has been the relationships I’ve built online. And I’ve made those relationships in 3 ways:

Comments

An easy way to make some friends online is to comment on other blogs. I know the common recommendation is to make friends with bloggers “in your niche,” but I didn’t think the niche I was aiming for was well-established when I started blogging. I wasn’t sure it even existed. So instead, I just committed to regularly reading–and commenting on–blogs I liked.

I didn’t really read blogs before I started blogging myself. Some of my first internet finds were Moxie Wife (f/k/a Betty Beguiles), Already Pretty, and Simple Mom’s network. I hung out on those established blogs as I was figuring out how this whole blogging thing worked, and I commented on them–regularly. I wasn’t expecting it, but I was thrilled when they all linked to me at about the same time. I remember how excited I was on those days! Those links–and the readers they sent over–gave me the traction I needed to establish a regular readership and consistent engagement: the things that make blogging worthwhile.

Carnivals

When I started blogging, I relied heavily on carnivals to drive traffic to my blog and build a readership. My favorites were the Works For Me Wednesday carnival hosted at We Are That Family and 7 Quick Takes hosted at Conversion Diary, because the readers were smart, literary-minded, and likely to enjoy my blog. I got tons of visitors from those carnivals, and many of them stuck around.

I’ve learned a few lessons about carnivals: a catchy title is important. Early linkers get more traffic. And blog-hoppers won’t come back unless the content is interesting. If you play by these rules, a good carnival can drive a lot of traffic to your blog–for the long-term.

Social Media

Social media can also drive lots of traffic to your blog. In my experience, facebook helps you connect with your readers, Pinterest brings in lots of browsers, and twitter helps you form new–and often lasting–relationships. I was a latecomer to Twitter: I only connected late last summer, and I was shocked at how much I enjoyed it. If you want to form new relationships, don’t wait: get yourself on twitter.

I know twitter can be overwhelming to new users, but it doesn’t need to be. Just set up an account and wade in slowly. Becky at Weaving Influence has created a 31 days of Twitter Tips Ebook, and she’s offering it for free during the month of August. I highly recommend you go pick up your free copy now, and work through it at your leisure.

Now that I’ve shared how I got started online, would you share how you got your start in comments?

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The 5 Rules That Shape Every Post I Write

As promised, today is the first post in a short series on blogging. I’m not going to cover it all in this tiny series, but I will offer a few thoughts and answer a few questions. Thanks for reading!

Not long after I started blogging, I stumbled upon 5 rules that have shaped nearly every post I’ve written on Modern Mrs Darcy.

I got them from Sports Talk Radio.

Rule 1 (and 2): Have a Take. Don’t Suck.

My husband loves Jim Rome’s call-in sports talk radio show, which works–even to the ears of half-hearted sports fans like myself–because of the cardinal rule for callers he announces at the start of every show: “Have a take. Don’t suck.”

Why? Because if you don’t have a take, and you can’t express it well, it’s not worth saying on the air.

The same rule applies to blogging: it took me a while to believe this as a blogger, but people want to hear your take. When you’re sitting down to write a post, don’t run around the internet to see what other bloggers have said. Don’t repackage the experts’ opinions. Don’t give us bland, or wishy-washy. Give us you.

Readers are visiting your blog because they want your perspective. If you don’t have a take, you don’t have anything to write about. If you don’t have anything to write about, you don’t have a blog. Give us your take.

You don’t have to know the answer, or propose a solution, but you do have to have a take. And it has to be yours. You might have to voice an opinion, and people might disagree with you. Yeah, that can be scary, but that’s why I loved this advice from Jessica’s Guide to Beginner Blogging ebook: “Speak the truth in love, and let the hater cards fall where they may.”

Rules 3-5: Don’t be Unfunny, Uninspired, or Unreadable.

Jim Rome wraps up each show with the Triple U Text Contest. The winner gets … blocked.

The Triple U rules the blogosphere: if you consistently violate it, we–the readers–will unsubscribe, delete your bookmark, or just wander away. You don’t have to be funny, but don’t try–and fail. Don’t bore us.

And whatever you do, don’t be unreadable. Give us easy-to-read fonts and plenty of white space. Keep your paragraphs short. Keep most posts to 800 words or less (and many readers say they prefer 500). We’ll forgive a typo or two in a blog post, but not more than that.

These rules from sports talk radio have guided my blogging from (almost) the beginning. I was very conscious about following them for 9 months, running each post through the Sports Talk Radio Test before hitting “publish”–but now they’re internalized. I’m not saying every post is great, but I do know what I’m aiming for.

To be a better blogger, think about what you’re aiming for before you publish that next post.

Do your posts have to pass a test before you hit “publish?”

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As I mentioned above, Jessica of Bohemian Bowmans fame released a brand new Guide to Beginner Blogging today! According to Jessica, this ebook is for newbie bloggers:”this book will calm some of your fears, answer some of your questions, and help you get to the very heart of blogging one baby step at a time.” She provided me with a preview copy and I was impressed by her many nuggets of blogging wisdom. I’m an affiliate for the book.

I’ll be sharing some of my favorite posts about blogging on the MMD facebook page this week. To follow along, you can “like” the page here.

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