by Liz Adair
In a speech given to at BYU-Hawaii’s graduation on 15 December 2007, M. Russell Ballard spoke about conversations going on around the world about what our church teaches. Some are well informed; others are not. While some conversations have audiences in the thousands or even millions, he observed, most are much smaller. However, all conversations have an impact upon participants, and conversations on the web, moreover, don’t disappear, but stay as archive material that can be pulled up long after the conversers have moved on.
Elder Ballard asked faithful members of the church to start conversing. He urged the graduates (and, by extension, us) to participate on the internet and find ways to explain what the Gospel means to them/us. He asked us not to let other people define us. He suggested we use the interactive aspects of the internet to correct erroneous information we find. He further suggested that we learn to blog and let our lights shine in the blogosphere.
I’m reminded of his talk as I scan the list of names attached to the sidebar in this blog, noting the names of new sisters taking the electronic plunge. And, I smile as new bloggers venture out on their own, thinking about the force for good that is growing out there. Talk about leaven. This is Cyberleaven!
In the name of leaven, I’d like to suggest one step that Brother Ballard didn’t cover as far as something we can do as a force for good in the internet. We can use whatever platform we have to review and spread the word about our sisters’ books. How many of us are published? How many of us have read the books published by ANWA members? Marsha Ward has published two books with a third on the way, Cecily Markland has published a children’s book, as has Anna Arnett. Kerry Blair, Jeanette Rallison, Gayla Wise, Joyce DiPastena--who am I leaving out? Me. I’m there, too. Who else? Jennifer Stewart Griffeth. Cindy Williams, Rebecca Talley, Christine Thackeray. Please help me by posting comments adding names of our other sisters with books out in the marketplace. I’m having a senior moment, here and know I’m forgetting more than one.
If you don’t have a blog where you can post a review, you can join Goodreads or Shelfari and post reviews there. These are like electronic book clubs. After you join, you can look around and see who else is there that you know and collect ‘friends’. Friends are people who will let you know what they’re reading and people with whom you will share what you feel about the books you’ve just read. See how this is a natural place to share about ANWA authors? By the way, when you join, look me up and ask to be my friend. I’d love to hear about what you’re reading.
Another thing you can do is go to Amazon.com and write reviews of ANWA sisters’ books. (Also, read a few of the ones posted there, and if you agree, mark that the review helped you. Someone wrote a scathing review of one of my books on Amazon, and because a single person said that review helped them and no one said the positive review was helpful, the terrible, awful, nasty review is the one that pops up first.)
I hate for someone to give a talk and then issue a challenge, so I’m not going to do that. But I am exhorting you all to set a goal to read X (your own number) of books written by LDS writers (and particularly ANWA Sisters) and put information about that book out on the web. I myself pledge to read and post about at least one book from each of our published ANWA sisters this next year. (If you’re one of them and have a druther about which book or where it’s posted (Amazon, Goodreads, my blog, this blog) let me know by email and I’ll oblige.)
Sisters, this is a small service we can render. Like any service, we can’t know just how far the reach of our offering, but let’s do it in faith.