It’s been awhile since you’ve visited the Pond.
As you pass through the Pond’s magical boundary, you notice that things here look… different. Pickerel weeds, lavenders, and rosemary now adorn the Pond, and it looks like cattails and cardamine now grow by the Pond’s water. But, you realise, even though the Pond looks a little different, you can still feel the gentle and calm energy in the air – it’s still the Pond, after all.
“Friend!” calls a familiar voice. “Come over here!”
As you approach the voice, you see Xiaolong and the Pond friends sitting by the Pond on a picnic blanket. You see baskets overflowing with food – Cuddle’s favourite fish biscuits, Varian’s favourite scones, berries and lettuce for Gen, and bags of Sprout’s nuts and seeds. But at the very center of the mat is a birthday cake with purple and green icing and a ‘2’ candle.
“Surprise!” the Pond friends cheer when they see you. Cuddle says she missed you and Sprout tells you that it’s been a long time since they’ve seen you. You feel your heart swell, and by the laughs and their smiles, you can tell that they are really happy to see you.
Xiaolong pats the spot next to her. “Come join us!”
You place yourself next to Xiaolong, and ask what the surprise is for.
“Well, it’s been two years since we first became friends,” says Xiaolong. “All of us were talking, and we really love having you visit us, friend. It’s always the highlight of our day and we always look forward to whenever you visit us next. You are special to us, friend.” Xiaolong beams. “And we are so happy that you are here.”
You smile back, feeling the warmth of their love and friendship in the comfortable silence that follows. You feel like you belong.
“Now!” Xiaolong jumps up, magically brandishing a plate in one hand and a cake server in the other. “Who wants some cake?”
It’s The Pond’s Birthday!
Today is a very special day, friends. As you have read in the story, today is the Pond’s 2nd blog birthday – but it is also the day where, two years ago, we first became friends with the Pond friends.
We’ve got some really exciting stuff to share with you all today. I’ll talk briefly about the Pond’s third revamp before moving onto a really fun Q&A that Joce, Skye, and I did – questions given to us by all of you!
Welcome to The Quiet Pond v.3 – we revamped!
The Quiet Pond finally has a new look! I’ve been working on this revamp for some months now, and I’m thrilled that I can finally show you all what I’ve been working on. I’m currently in the process of writing a ‘guide to revamping’ – where I’ll also talk about my revamp process – for anyone out there who is wanting to revamp their blog! – so you’ll learn a little bit more about my thoughts behind the revamp process then.
Aside from the aesthetics themselves, here is what’s different:
- Did you notice our new post banner? All post banners are now have a fresh look that’s more fitting to the Pond’s aesthetic!
- We’ve added ‘Book Reviews, Listed by Genre!‘ – so if you’re thinking of what to read next, you can find our book reviews depending on its genre
- We now have a ‘Work With Us!’ page, your one-stop page for information on how to collaborate/work with us.
- On your right-hand side, you can find Sprout on their little perch and an easier link to the Book News.
Q&A With CW, Joce, Skye, and the Pond Friends!
Last month, I tweeted out, asking you all to send us questions for our blog birthday Q&A. This is a blogging convention that I always thought was really cool, and now that I have two wonderful co-bloggers who could join me in a Q&A, I thought, why not?
I hope you have fun reading our answers – and maybe you’ll find our blogging tips helpful. A huge thank you to those who sent us questions!
favorite reads of 2020 so far? (@bookdragonism)
CW: Ooh, this is so tough. 2020 has been an amazing reading year for me and I’ve honestly found so many favourites. I’ll stick to three though: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong, Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez.
Joce: I have LOVED Lobizona by Romina Garber, Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore, and One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London.
Skye: Oof I resent having to choose, but I’m seconding These Violent Delights; Chloe has truly and wholly wrecked me and I still haven’t recovered from reading it. I’m going to give a little of a cop out here and pick the Poppy War trilogy by R.F. Kuang instead of a single book, as well as the Foreshadow anthology edited by Emily X.R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma—my latest read that I also reviewed here!
Which book have divided you 3’s opinion the most? (@readatmidnight)
Joce: Have we ever read the same book? One book I disagree with CW about is Autoboyography (it’s one of my favorite books in the entire world), but I also definitely acknowledge that a lot of it is my transference with any book that involves forging a romantic relationship through writing, so I own that and her opinion is probably the one you should listen to, haha! In all cases, just because one person who identifies with a marginalized group likes a novel with that rep, doesn’t mean that it’s not hurtful to others and you shouldn’t take that person’s opinion as gospel.
Skye: OH I know what to answer for this now. Joce and I haven’t actually read books that we’ve disagreed strongly on yet, but CW and I have both read Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao, and if you’ve read her review of it you’ll probably know that she wasn’t super taken by the villain origin story, but I genuinely loved it! Forest was one of the very first non-white fantasy books I had ever read, and I’m very fond of how it turns the fairytale on its head and gives us this dark and relentlessly macabre version of the rise of the evil queen.
What is one trope you all love and one you all dislike? (@theslothreader)
CW: I love any romance that transcends the physical plane – red string of fate, reincarnation romance – give it to me! (In saying that, I also love friends-to-lovers; the idea of growing to love someone is so beautiful to me.) I’m not a fan of the ‘Not Like Other Girls’ trope; it’s just hackneyed and tired.
Skye: CW and I actually once had a long late-night talk about why we love this trope so much—it’s the only romantic trope I have any strong feelings about. The idea of finding someone over and over again no matter how many lifetimes it takes, of a destiny being written in the stars, and the connected idea of there always being a person that’s home for you in the end… I get emo thinking about it. On the flip side, ‘miscommunication’ is always the one that turns me off. I understand that we are all messes and talking to people is hard, but it always feels so contrived in romances where a couple is supposed to trust each other!
Joce: I love The One That Got Away or second chance romance. I also love queer sports contemporary novels (although not a trope, a very specific niche). I have a strong dislike for thrillers where the main plotline is the reveal of a character’s (usually a woman’s) mental health diagnosis or hysteria. Miss me with that.
Favorite part of the blogging community? (@readbytiffany)
CW: The people! The book community is not perfect – and I know; I’ve been around for five years – but I don’t know a group more supportive of each other than book bloggers. We have each other’s backs and we work so hard to help each other whilst loving books too.
Joce: I love that I can look like shit and do it. Coming from a primarily Booktube-only platform, it took me HOURS to put myself together for a video. While that was definitely my choice, it is also widely known that conventionally attractive folks with well-lit videos get the most views, so this causes a lot of pressure. Other than that, for sure the friendships I have formed through it and the kindness people exude. I am constantly shocked and awed at the compassion folks have.
Skye: Honestly? That I feel safe here. I joined the (diverse) book blogging community after some really unpleasant experiences in a mostly-white online fan community, and the amount of daily relief I feel now from being able to exist in a space that holds the same values that I do and that actively fights for BIPOC authors and other marginalisations…. It’s more soul-affirming than I could ever articulate.
What do you wish nonbloggers would know about blogging? (@readbytiffany)
CW: That book blogging takes a lot of work and a lot of time – and that time is more than just ‘writing reviews’! Formatting, collating all the information, creating graphics or banners for the post require a lot of time. It’s a labour of love, but that labour is often taken for granted.
Joce: Definitely the same as CW, that blogging is so much time and effort, but I love all of this and I love my co-bloggers, and it’s worth it. Also, someone has to say it, but book blogging is the most accessible yet the least appreciated and recognized in the online community.
What have been some of the most rewarding moments for each of you personally? (@gabhimartins)
CW: Getting to work with some really awesome people! Asian Heritage Month, Pride Month, and Latinx Heritage Month were a lot of work, but so fun to put together. We got the chance to work with some wonderful authors whose work that I love, and I got to work with some really great individuals in the community too. Oh! And hosting the cover reveal for These Violent Delights and Counting Down With You!
Joce: I am super grateful for all the opportunities that I have had to work with authors, but at the risk of being super cheesy, the most rewarding moments have been super late at night when I’m talking to Skye and CW and we are laughing super hard about some dumb shit that has nothing to do with blogging.
Skye: Definitely the interviews for me too! Also it’s really sweet when authors are delighted by their announcements being featured in the book news, because it always makes me feel like we’ve achieved our primary goal of celebrating emerging writers.
What’s your favourite review you’ve written? And your favourite interview you’ve done? (@anniekslibrary)
CW: I like my reviews for different reasons, but the one that takes the cake for me is We Are Totally Normal by Rahul Kanakia. I felt like my review wasn’t really a review, but a response to the ongoing discussions in the community. I vividly remember writing it too. My partner had come over to hang out, but I ended up neglecting him while I wrote my review. There would be these funny moments whenever I’d just flop on the bed whenever I got stuck. And just as my partner would come over to console me, I’d bounce right back and continue writing. I think I wrote for four hours straight; I wrote it all in one sitting.
As for interviews – Oh gosh, I’ve loved all the interviews I’ve done. I really love the interview I did with Wai Chim – mostly because I felt really engaged in the discussions we had and I really loved how Wai gave such thoughtful answers that really resonated with me.
Joce: My favorite review will probably never see the light of day but I wrote a review of Front Desk by Kelly Yang for my Pond audition, and I was super hopped up on pain meds two days out of the hospital after having my daughter. But perhaps that’s how I should write all of my reviews because damn it was good.
Skye: Xiran Jay Zhao’s interview is still truly one of the highlights of my entire blogging career. I love how she just went off and ran with my questions—it was so unexpected and so inspiring to read her insightful thoughts about her upcoming book. I also owe so much to my interview with Christina Soontornvat, the first ever author feature I worked on from wayyyy back when I first joined the Pond. She is the warmest and kindest author to work with, and working with her genuinely shaped how I approached my interviews from there on out. As for my favorite review, probably this one I did for Nina Varela’s Iron Heart!
How do you co-blogging together and have you found any quirks in the way you each blog? (@happyindugence)
CW: Joce, Skye and I co-blog really symbiotically, actually! It doesn’t feel like a difficult process – which is a blessing, because I feel like that’s what co-blogging should be about. I think one of my quirks that they have to deal with is that I always have a lot of ideas and I commit to these ideas like I’m on a rampage – sometimes they have to veto my ideas and sometimes they have to rein me in – which is definitely what I need.
Joce: In my humble opinion, I think we co-blog very smoothly and seamlessly. My role is the hot mess who doesn’t know how to format and CW and Skye have the actual blogging skills. I am the clown in the group chat so that’s probably why they keep me around. And I don’t really have quirks. I’m “just like other girls” 😉
Skye: CW has so many ideas. The Pond has been around for about two years, and we’ve already gone through two revamps. If we were to get down to the process of co-blogging, specifically, we have a Notion board that we use to schedule our posts now! CW and I mostly coordinate when our posts will go up through a calendar on the Notion, and we keep boards tracking upcoming features we’d like to do and guests we’d like to invite (to go back to the point about CW having a lot of ideas, she already has Asian Heritage Month and Black History Month for next year planned out). The Pond Book News feature has a spreadsheet of where we keep track of upcoming releases, and CW and I just DM each other announcements and cover reveals throughout the week.
CW, again: (Yep! I’ve already started planning our next guest features but, uh, to any authors, especially debut authors who want to be part of Asian Heritage Month and Black History Month at the Pond in 2021… please reach out. 👀)
what advice would u guys give to urselves 2 yrs ago when u first started the pond?? :’) (@peachnace)
CW: That every post does NOT have to be a masterpiece! I often fixate on making sure every post is something worthy of millions of views, but – book bloggers will know – you can put hours of energy and love into a post and it might flop. I’ve come to accept that some posts will be “bigger hits” than others, but I need to remind myself that it’s important to look at the ‘hours spent:worth your time’ ratio – and that getting the post out, free of typos, and is something that I’d be interested in reading, is good enough.
Joce: The hardest part for me is to just get the words out of my body so I would tell myself to STFU and write!
Skye: I started book blogging with my own self-hosted blog at first—old friends here will probably remember when I wrote at The Sparrow’s Perch. Honestly I think my advice for my old self would probably be: firstly, to not fuss too much about getting things perfect during the first pass, because growing into a blogging voice takes time and experience; secondly, to know your capacity (and to not sign up for too many blog tours at once that reading then becomes a chore, no matter how tempting the ARCs are).
how do you motivate yourself to write blog posts? also, tips for other bloggers? (@sunshinenjoonie)
CW: I motivate myself by only really blogging about things that interest me! For instance, I really like writing reviews, putting together book recommendation posts, and having guests visit the Pond. When I started book blogging, I thought that I had to follow blogging conventions like making ‘tag’ posts – which I just did not enjoy at all. My advice is to blog about the things that interest you – then it won’t really feel like a chore.
Joce: Writing is emotionally draining for me in a way that is extremely personal so I literally have to make a romantic setting for myself. I light a candle, eat some hot Cheetos, put my feet up, put some sad music on, and go to town. I agree with CW in that if you’re not blogging about things that you’re passionate about and truly care about, it will eventually just feel awful and you won’t want to do it anymore.
Skye: I think a lot of my own posts get done out of a genuine desire to celebrate and uplift the authors I love, because I truly believe in what I want to say. Having deadlines really helps too — God knows that some of my reviews only get done when I’m staring down the barrel of a blog tour deadline. :’) As long as you set firm boundaries surrounding the amount of work you take on, I think aiming for hard deadlines is a good way to prioritise the posts you really want to put out into the world.
What were the things that surprised you the most when you started a blog? (@BetsyMiller_)
CW: The Quiet Pond is my second book blog, but the thing that surprised me the most with this blog was how… much people would grow to love the Pond friends – just as much as I love them. When I started The Quiet Pond, I didn’t have a goal to create a space that people would love or feel connected to. I made it for me and for my own peace and joy – so it’s really lovely – and surprising! – that people love the Pond as well.
Joce: I learned that I have a lot of work to do on myself with creative expression. I sometimes don’t feel emotionally connected to some things I write and I know that it’s a roadblock that I have mentally and emotionally. It’s hard and complicated, but I hope to find a balance between using my last drop of energy when I put words down on paper, and sounding like a robot.
Skye: I’ve always personally struggled with consistently sticking to hobbies, especially ones where I have to use my single brain cell to come up with creative content, so the fact that I write a weekly book news column now still feels so gratifying and mind-blowing. Because here is concrete evidence that I can create routines for myself, and that I am indeed capable of creating on a consistent basis! There are still weeks when I have to take breaks, of course, but more often than not, I’m able to get the book news running by Sunday night when the posts go up for me. I’ve also honestly never really gotten over the fact that I interact with authors frequently now! As someone who has always dreamed of writing a novel, it is immensely cool that I get to be a part of the process of bringing a book out into the world while learning so much first-hand knowledge about how the publishing world works.
What advice would you give bloggers who want to start co-blogging? (@CamilleaReads)
CW: I’ve actually got a post lined up about tips for choosing co-bloggers, but my biggest advice: Pick people who are a good fit to your personality and the goals of your blog. I think there’s a desire to pick people who would be beneficial to your platform, but fit is so important. That’s why, when I had co-blogger applications, Joce and I asked people to write a ‘story’ about their own pond character, if they visited the Pond. This really helped me get an idea of who understood the feel and goals of the Pond – and to be honest, Skye’s story was what made her an effortless choice to be my co-blogger.
Joce: Much like CW said, apply to blogs where you truly understand and are passionate about the feel and energy of what they have going on. Make sure you truly love your co-bloggers. I only know this because I love mine.
Skye: Also! I think one big thing we learned while working with different people at the Pond is that you can be really good friends with someone and not necessarily vibe with them as co-bloggers, and that’s totally okay. All of us here at the Pond lucked out because we work well as both friends and co-bloggers, but collaborating on a project together is a really different dynamic from just chilling and hanging out. Sometimes good friends don’t make good teammates, and this is perfectly natural.
Another absolutely critical factor of a successful co-blogging experience is open and honest lines of communication! We all know that blogging can be really taxing on days when you’re just not up to the task, but when you’re working in a team, you have to be accountable to your friends as well. Make sure your co-bloggers are people you feel comfortable confiding in when you’re going through a rough time, and will be there to support you if you need help figuring out your posts.
how do you juggle real life (school, work, etc.) and blogging? (@stringofpages)
CW: I work full time – sometimes more than 40 hours – so it can feel tough sometimes. I juggle work, my social life, and blogging by doing stuff that interests me. Blogging is fast-paced; we churn out a lot of content that has an activity life of 1 – 2 days. So I make sure that the content I do is something that either means something to me (so I can be proud of it), interests me (so I’m engaged), or is something that I have fun putting together/writing, so it doesn’t feel like a chore.
Joce: Do I juggle? Or do I really just drop the balls? No, but seriously, the two keys for me are lowering my own expectations of myself, and using Google Calendar. Google Calendar is the shit. I work full time and my job is very mentally and emotionally taxing, and I also am a mom to a rambunctious and excitable toddler, along with maintaining my role as contributor at the Reading Women podcast, and managing the Lutz Get Down to Business podcast with my cousin. If you’re tired from reading that sentence… I am very tired acting upon that sentence! I just have low expectations of myself and laugh it off. Finding humor is also key.
Skye: God, I’m the only one here still in college. I’m—Honestly I’m also struggling most days. For me it’s also an issue of wrangling my own mental health too, because I struggle with executive function disorder and anxiety. I think my only concrete, actionable advice at this stage is just the boring stuff: lists are a godsend, I use Notion and Google Keep; have friends that you can commiserate with, and have enough compassion for yourself to keep on forgiving mistakes and hang-ups over days when you aren’t as productive as you would’ve liked. Set boundaries over what is work and what is play, and try to keep hobbies as stress-free as possible—life is already hard enough without the extra anxiety over that one unwritten blog post or overdue ARC review.
What is the most challenging aspect of running such a large and beloved platform? (@gabhimartins)
CW: Saying ‘no’ to people! I get a lot of requests – which is a huge honour and I don’t take any requests for granted! – but I physically don’t have the time to be have everyone visit the Pond (guest features require a lot of time and work!) – and I struggle with that a lot because I want everyone to be included. I want The Quiet Pond to be welcoming and inclusive of everyone, but I can’t always say yes to anyone and everyone who wants to visit us. And that’s really tough for me.
Joce: I feel pressure to learn and do things I am truly not good and naturally inclined to doing. I find HTML really anxiety inducing and it makes me feel bad about myself because I have tried to teach myself SO MANY TIMES (even before blogging, for other stuff). This is why I love our co-blogging relationship so much. It’s because where I’m shit, my co-bloggers are wizards. They aren’t ever shit though so that really means that they help format my posts and I try to make them laugh. Lol. Thanks, you two.
What brought you guys together to start The Quiet Pond? (@agentthao)
CW: I started The Quiet Pond in October 2018 – two years ago today! – and Joce and Skye joined later. When Joce applied, I felt like personalities fit together and that we could work together. Our goals and our reading choices aligned quite well, and that’s why I wanted her to be my co-blogger. With Skye, I chose Skye as my co-blogger because I felt like she, more than anyone else who applied, really understood The Quiet Pond and its feel. That’s really special – when someone really clicks and gets your work. Now, both of them feel like family to me and I genuinely cannot imagine my life – or even my day – without them.
Joce: I was two days out of the hospital after giving birth to my daughter, bleeding into a diaper, and writing a thinkpiece that I needed to get ABSOLUTELY PERFECT for CW because I was just THAT into the Pond. Almost two years later now, here I am screaming profanities at CW and Skye at 4am while they roll their eyes at me. It works. I love them. I love it here.
Skye: The Pond was one of the very first book blogs I found way before I started book blogging on my own, and it has always just been this space of wonder and joy for me—an example of what book blogging can look like at its very best. I loved the little stories and the lore that surrounded the Pond, and when CW put out a call for co-bloggers to write the book news, I had to shoot my shot. It’s all history from there!
how did you come up with the idea of the pond? (@stringofpages)
CW: I talked about how I came up with The Quiet Pond in Fantasy Cafe during Women in SFF Month. But in essence, The Quiet Pond was a completely spontaneous idea, but it was ultimately my way of trying to find joy amidst a lot of emotional and psychological turmoil and struggle.
Who are some dream “friends” you’d still love to come visit the pond? (@perpetualpages)
CW: I actually feel like I’ve already had some of my dream friends visit – Aiden Thomas, Alechia Dow, Wai Chim, Sangu Mandanna, Hena Khan – but I’d love to have Fonda Lee, Cindy Pon, LL McKinney, Ellen Oh, and Camryn Garrett visit the Pond one day.
Joce: Carmen Maria Machado, Celeste Ng, Yaa Gyasi, and Taylor Jenkins Reid. One of my dream friends who came to visit was Henry Lien and I was over the moon and so honored to interview him.
Skye: AHHHH okay. Personally, my current dream authors I’d collapse if I got to work with: Elizabeth Lim, Roseanne A. Brown, Elizabeth Acevedo, Zen Cho, Natasha Ngan, as well as comic artists such as Wendy Xu, Jen Wang, and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell. 🥺
What’s a blog feature you’d love to have in the Pond but haven’t been able to do yet? (@voyagerarina)
CW: I’m actually very happy with the features we have and I don’t think I’ll do anymore at the moment. I’d love to do more ‘Story Time’ posts though.
Joce: I could make so many jokes in the group chat about features I’d want to do, but I’m definitely going to say that I have been wanting to write a discussion/review post about One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid, my favorite book in the universe that I never talk about because it rips me to pieces every time I read it. Conquering writing that post would require me to tackle a lot of stuff and it will come one day… that day is not today, and probably not tomorrow either lol.
Skye: I actually have a few post ideas percolating in my head that I will hopefully get to explore next year! I don’t want to give away too much yet because all of it is still at the ideation stage, but I will say that it involves BIPOC readers and the books/authors they’re ownvoices for. C:
Has your vision and mission for The Quiet Pond changed since its inception and if so, how? Where do you want to go in the future/what kinds of projects do you want to tackle? (@theshenners)
CW: In retrospect, I don’t think that I really had a ‘vision’ when I started The Quiet Pond. I was just so happy to blog again. I never imagined The Quiet Pond would grow to what it is now, but I am really satisfied with where it is today.
In the future, I definitely want to do the second Pondathon (and make it WAY simpler) and Black History Month!
Joce: My vision for it was to show up as a nude otter with a stuffed animal that looks exactly like me, so I’m pretty content with the way things are going. Truthfully, I’m just grateful my co-bloggers put up with me, but in the future I would love to do more storytime posts, and I really look forward to having more of my favorite authors, and more debut authors, visit the Pond.
Skye: YES TO MORE STORYTIME POSTS!!! I keep saying this in the Pond groupchat but I also really want to do more story-related community events like Pondathon. I just love roleplay and writing stories!!!
Who’s your favourite Pond character? (@anniekslibrary)
CW: I know it’d be cheap to not answer this question – because I genuinely love ALL my babies – but I really do love Xiaolong. She’s the best thing I’ve ever created.
Joce: Amina. For REASONS.
Skye: I really love Gen and I wish we could see more of him and his garden. 😦 Yes this is a plea for you to make more art, CW.
if you each HAD to change your pondsona to a different animal, what would y’all choose? (@blondewithab00k)
CW: I think everyone knows I’d say ‘duck’, and you’d be correct.
Joce: Oof, this one hurts me. When I thought of what I wanted my Pondsona to be, I was between Cuddle/Party, and a Divine Intervention Cow. There was a day that I can pinpoint that truly and quite literally saved my life, and had this cow never existed in my mind and memory, I don’t think I would exist right now, and I can definitely guarantee that none of my participation in the book community would exist. So that.
Skye: A rabbit, possibly! I was born under the Chinese Rabbit zodiac, and they feature prominently in Chinese folklore in the Chang’E myth. And they’re also really really cute too.
QUESTIONS FOR THE POND FRIENDS
I would love a piece of advice from Pond friends on what to do to make a bad day a bit better when we’re feeling blue (@aqueda_veronica)
Xiaolong: When I’m feeling a little blue, I like to talk to my friends. Maybe I’ll go up to Cuddle and share some fish biscuits with her, or maybe I’ll go to Sprout’s stump and just sit in peace with them. Sometimes when you feel blue, you feel like you have to be alone – but I remind myself that I need to give people the opportunity to show that they care for me. That always helps.
Cuddle: I love hugs! I know not everyone does though, so I always ask first and will gladly give and accept hugs to those who do like them and want one from me and Party! If there is no one around to hug, I will just give Party a hug and crawl under my weighted kelp blanket.
Sprout: Sometimes when you’re sad and it feels like nothing is going to make it better, it’s okay to just be sad for a while. Sometimes taking care of yourself means sitting with your feelings and patiently waiting for them to pass. I also like having a list of things on-hand that I know will help lift my mood a little—like gardening, reading hopeful poetry, or drinking tea with a good book curled in a corner of my stump—giving myself permission to take a day off to just take care of my mental health. It’s important to know that resting only prepares us for the longer journey ahead!
What would be at a Pond picnic? (@cliwrites)
Xiaolong: Why haven’t we done a Pond picnic already!? Well, I’d bring fish biscuits for Cuddle, I’d bring Sprout’s favourite seeds and nuts, I’d bring Varian’s favourite tea, and I’d bring berries for Gen. AND, I’d bring a big cake so we can all share.
Cuddle: Lavender is truly the best because it’s both calming and beautiful. I would probably bring a fresh batch of lavender ice cream, or lavender lemonade using the lavender around the Pond, and lemons from our lemon tree! Sometimes I fall asleep under the lemon tree and get bonked by lemons. One must have knocked out the part of my brain that does FishTML, hmm.
Sprout: Some bread with the most scrumptious berry jams and nut butters! I’d also bring fruits for us all to share—there’s nothing quite like sitting under a big tree, sunlight filtering through the leaves, with honeydew juice dribbling down your feathers. That’d be such a comforting afternoon for me!
If Xiaolong & co. has a Neopets acc, which pet would they each have? (@readatmidnight)
Xiaolong: I’d want a Peophin! Then we can swim together and they can take me to Maraqua.
Cuddle: A KACHEEK. Because being the host of the Potato Counter game is 100% my energy..
Sprout: Oh, I think I’d love to make friends with a Chomby—they look so big and gentle, and I would be able to see so much of the world from on top of their heads!
My questions would be what are each of the pond characters fave books and the food they would pair with the book? (@CamilleaReads)
Xiaolong: My favourite book is Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai… and I’d pair it with a big rainbow cake!
Cuddle: I would for suuure pair The Bride Test by Helen Hoang with a big steaming, fragrant pot of Bún bò Huế.
Sprout: It’s so hard to choose, but I think I’d pair The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho with a bowl of tang yuan—sweet, nostalgic, and full of possibility for different modern variations, reflecting how this book also takes traditional settings and makes them more diverse and colorful!
Who is the most chaotic? (@bookevinnnnn)
CW: Joce. DEFINITELY Joce.
Joce: Skye. Just kidding, it’s me.
Who is the mum of the group? (@bookevinnnnn)
CW: My nickname in our Pond GC (group chat) is ‘Axolotl Mommy’. So I’m definitely the mum.
Joce: I am a mommy, but CW Is MOMMY.
Favourite cute animals? (@theshenners)
Joce: Bunnies. My daughter calls them “munny munny munny”.
Skye: Hedgehogs, guys. Hedgehogs.
Joce again: Oh yes, right! Skye and I are hedgehog rights activists.
CW again: *puts head in hands*
Do you have a Pond playlist? Please share if yes! (@readatmidnight)
Joce: I am ASHAMED OF YOU CW for not including this song. I’ll do it instead.
CW again: I can’t believe I forgot that song. (Context: This was the song that inspired one of the Pondathon quests!)
Thank you, thank you, thank you
The last year has been an interesting one. We have run three Our Friend is Here guest features for Asian Heritage Month, Pride Month, and Latinx Heritage Month; we invited an array of wonderful guests and had so many friends visit us at the Pond; we ran our very first Pond-themed readathon called the Pondathon; we started #StartOnYourShelfathon; and we won Best at Promoting Diverse Books and Most Creative at the Fourth Annual Book Blogger Awards – two huge honours that perfectly represent our vision for the Pond.
For me, The Quiet Pond feels like I only started it yesterday, but it also feels like it’s been in my life since forever. But, I’m excited to see what the next year will bring, and I am so happy and just honoured that so many of you will be right next to us, going on our journey with us.
Thank you all for your support, thank you all for your love, and I’m so excited to see what the next year holds for us.
Have a slice on cake with us!