This week I was excited to receive a Liebster Blog Award, bestowed upon me by fellow science blogger, Paul Norris at AnimalWise.

AND .. as exciting as that is (and it really is!) .. it also means that I get to bestow the award on 5 other bloggers!

In the interest of not reinventing the wheel, I’m going to take the award description directly from Paul’s post:

“Liebster” is a German word meaning dearest, beloved or favorite, and the Liebster Award is sort of a chain letter among bloggers that’s intended to showcase exceptional up-and-coming blogs (typically, those with 200 or fewer followers). Now, there’s no evaluation committee or formal award process for the Liebster, but in a way it’s even nicer – it’s recognition that a peer has noticed and appreciated your hard work.

This is exciting for me!  I really appreciate Paul taking notice of my little corner of the blogosphere.  The blogging universe is a big one and hard place to get noticed.  Some days you feel like your only readers are your friends and family (hi mom!) and you wonder if your visitor count will ever regularly hit the triple digits .. much less the thousands. So being recognized by a more established blogger like Paul is important in building buzz and gaining readers. (plus it feels soooo good!)

The Liebster Blog Award is based on peer recognition, and in that light there are rules that go along with it. Most importantly, recipients have to pass on the love:

1. Show thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Post the award on your blog.
4. Bask in the love from some of the most supportive people on the internet—other writers and artists.
5. And best of all – have fun and spread the karma.

I’ve put a lot of thought into my selections. As I said in an early post, my readership is divided between science writers and the literature and fiction-writing community so I wanted to recognize people in both of those areas.  I think at least one of my choices is a blogger who falls well above the  “under 200 followers” parameter, but I think it’s worth promoting the blog anyway.

So .. <drumroll>.. my selections for the next round of Liebster Awards go to:

Cheryl Rainfield

“I know that as a teen being sexually abused, I would often give someone a passage to read from a book to try to help someone understand. I wish I’d had such a book to help others understand about self-harm. That is part of why I wrote Scars.” — Cheryl Rainfield

For an author and blogger who covers some of the most decidedly un-fun topics a person can imagine (child abuse, incest, self-harm and suicide) Cheryl’s blog is a place of surprising excitement and energy.  Blog posts flow from her keyboard almost daily, each one filled with enthusiasm, love, and, more often than not, links to free (!) stuff  – all of it geared towards her young adult readers.  On her blog and via Twitter, Cheryl hosts a dizzying array of contests, prize drawing, live chats, Q&A sessions, and mental health support information for teens.   As near as I can tell, every single commenter gets a sincere response from Cheryl, and it’s clear she appreciates her young readers as much as they admire her.   Follow Cheryl on Twitter.

Cheryl’s books:

Jess Lahey: Coming of Age in the Middle

“It’s part of my job to teach my students to be brave and view their failures as learning opportunities. To buck up and return to the place of their defeat and ask for help.  I’m just grateful I get to be in that place when they show up.”  –Jess Lahey

If you are completely fed up with the education system, certain that teachers care more about contracts than students, and you figure it doesn’t matter anyway because “kids today” are a distracted and apathetic lot, then I challenge you to spend 30 minutes on Jess Lahey’s blog and not come away changed.

Jess blogs on her trials and successes teaching English and Latin to middle-grade students. Never disparaging or complaining, Jess speaks of her young students with consideration and respect. She carefully analyses their failures, rejoices in their successes, and reflects on her role as more than just a teacher of language.

Jess is a gifted writer and her blog posts are thoughtful, compassionate and solidly-grounded in the good earth of her New Hampshire gentlewoman farm. In her capable hands, even a cat story becomes a lyrical reflection on life, writing, and teaching.  Now, if she would just finish her book…

Follow Jess on Twitter

Lindsey Fitzharris: The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice

“This website is dedicated to a study of early modern chirurgeons, and all the blood and gore that comes with it.” — Lindsey Fitzharris

What’s not to love about that?

Chirurgeon (that’s ki-RUR-jun according to Webster’s audio clip) was the 17th century word for surgeon, the early body explorers who were more like tradesmen than doctors.

Lindsey’s eclectic collection of posts spans the gamut from the realities of the dissecting theatre to the concepts of death in the 19th century,  to the horrors of vivisection on living animals.  A Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Queen Mary, University of London,  Lindsey is available to answer readers’ questions and provide professional consultation.  Follow Lindsey on Twitter.

Brenda Schmidt: Alone on a Boreal Stage

“Nov 24 – No wind today. No waxwings so far. Another deadline met, another to go. I just uncovered the big box of books and journals now parked beside my desk. The flagged pages will have my attention until the new year.” — Brenda Schmidt

Photo: Brenda Schmidt

Brenda is a poet, author, bird watcher, painter and taker of pictures.  She’s not new to blogging but she’s new to me and so maybe there are others out there who aren’t familiar with her and her little corner of the blogosphere.

I like what Brenda does on her blog with photographs, especially those of books – showing us what she’s reading or announcing where she’s been published.  It’s a nice visual way to present information that most people just plop into a list.  (I might even steal the idea!)  Brenda’s fine eye for art and ear for poetry and literary form come together nicely on this simple, but elegant blog. Follow Brenda on Twitter.

 Felicity Muth: Not Bad Science

“…I’ll not only tell you about dog behaviour, but also all the hot-off-the-press research in bees, rooks, ravens, humans, elephants, fish, chimps, and just about anything else capable of behaviour (which you’ll be surprised to find stretches farther than you’d imagine- see the irrational slime moulds).”  Felicity Muth

Felicity is a newcomer to the science blog community. She is PhD student researching animal behaviour and cognition.  Her blog, launched in June 2011, presents clear, straightforward explanations of recent discoveries and research in those fields.  She tells us that spiders can smell us (ewww), fish change their behavior depending on who’s watching, and that dogs may be trying to tell us more than we understand.  Whatever the animal or the behavior, Felicity seems to have her finger on the pulse of the science behind it. You can follow Felicity on Twitter.

Again, thank you Paul for the Liebster Award. Besides making me feel good, it really got me thinking about other blogs that I like. I’m glad to have had the chance to make my own nominations. And now, I am going to commit myself wholly to Liebster Blog rule #4: Basking in the love ….