I’m a pretty straight shooter and I’m not going to lie, I did some fan-girling when Ash agreed to come on the blog. I know it really should be fan-maning, but that just doesn’t have the same ring to it. I assure you though, it was totally manly…but I digress.
Ash over at Smash Attack Readers is one of my favorite bloggers. And one of my favorite things about her blog is the World Building Wednesdays, where she invites authors to talk about World Building (one of her favorite aspects of a novel). She always has a full line-up of posts on her blog, and has become so busy she now works with a team of reviewers on her site. So now that she’s agreed to be my Blogger Alert for the month of May, I get to do one of my favorite things, and turn the interview spotlight on a blogger. Let the DOOM begin!
1. For the sake of starting out simple, tell us how you got involved with blogging, and what made you decide to start your own site?
I’ve actually been blogging for about 15 years. I started out a personal journal on LiveJournal and moved to Blogger. My friend back home, Brooke, was really involved in blogging and reviewing books about 5 years ago. I’ve always had a love for reading so I became really interested in this new world she introduced to me. I noticed my personal blog started to become overrun with bookish posts, so I decided to take the plunge in 2010. I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for almost 3 years. I sometimes feel like I just started. 🙂
2. As a busy blogger, sometimes you lose the opportunity to read what you want, when you want. You have a stack of books to be reviewed that is constantly staring back at you, and you have commitments that you’ve made to them. Now, sometimes we pick up a book that sounds interesting, but later we put on our shelves because we’re not in the mood for it. I imagine this is the same thing that happens with review books, only you don’t always have the opportunity to put them aside. So tell me, are there any books you had to read because of a review deadline that ended up taking you by surprise and completely captivating you?
Um, YOUR books. All of them, but I think I loved Shift the best. That was the book where I noticed growth in your writing. Not to say you don’t grow with each book, but that book left me hella impressed. And no, I’m not kissing your bum. You already know this, maaaaaan.
Obviously, Ash gets me. 🙂
3. Smash Attack Reads started with just you, but as you became overloaded with requests, you took on some associate reviewers. But even now, you’re so busy that you don’t take unsolicited review requests. There are a lot of bloggers out there that have come to this point, and I think it’s a sign of great success for what you’ve done. But for an author you’ve never worked with before, it might be disheartening. If there are any new or aspiring authors out there, is there any advice you could give them on how to break in and get your attention?
Personally, I think there are plenty of blogs out there that still take review requests. Also, get on Twitter and promote your arse off. I discovered most of the authors I have relationships with now that way. After I’ve gotten to know authors on Twitter, I’ve reviewed their work even though I’m not taking requests. I think Twitter is where you need to be. Also, I stopped taking review requests because I found myself not wanting to read the books I accepted. I think this is purely psychological, like when kids don’t do what their told because you told them. I know there are other bloggers out there with this very problem, but there are plenty who still want to review. And as far as indie authors go, I feel like there is a solid network of bloggers who support you guys. I didn’t think I would read as much indie work as I have, and I’m glad that I took the plunge. Some of my favorite authors are indies. 🙂
4. Tell us three things that you love about blogging, and three things you hate about it.
Since I’m a total Type A personality, I love the scheduling, organization, planning piece. A lot. It’s kinda like how I would rather reorganize my bookshelves or my scrapbooking stuff than do the actual hobbies. Thankfully, I can push that impulse down into the darkest depths. I also LOVE the camaraderie and community. Book bloggers are the nicest, most generous people, not to mention ridiculously fun and entertaining. This is the highlight of it all, for me. I love discovering new reads! Of course, my wallet nor my husband appreciate this too much. I just read an epic YA high fantasy series that I had never heard of until ladies in my book club started talking about it. I don’t have bookish people around in real life often, so I just love being able to interact with other book whores.
What I dislike is the drama that seems to ebb and flow. I’ve learned to stay out of it and if it involves me, deal with it offline. I try my hardest to stay out of that mess though. I get enough drama with the middle schoolers at work. My drama quota floweth over. I also dislike not having the right type of thinking to come up with awesome discussion posts on the regular. I am envious of blogs who do this well, because discussion posts are my favorite type of post to read. I also dislike the amount of books there are to choose from. Not to say I want there to be less people writing, but holy crap. I have almost 600 books in my home or on my Kindle that I have not read, and that is after 3 years of blogging. If I stay at it, my arse will be broke (or kicked out). They only highlight to this is I will be able to build a home out of the books!
5. Hypothetical #1 – You’re trapped in a basement with three characters from three different books. One is a secondary character, one is a protagonist, and one is an antagonist. They’re all ready to profess their undying love for you. The problem is, if you don’t get them back in their books, those stories will be unwritten, tearing the fabric of our reality, and our world could be destroyed. Who are the characters, what books are they from, and how do you break their hearts and still convince them to get back onto the pages?
Holy awesome question, Batman! I think the protagonist will have to be Adam from Where She Went by Gayle Forman. He is a broken soul in this book and I would love to heal his heart. Of course, he only has eyes for Mia, so I guess I would convince her to do her magic to lure him back to his destiny. Besides, I wouldn’t want to break up a happy home. 😉 The antagonist will definitely be The Darkling from the Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo. I simultaneously love and loathe this character. He intrigues the crap out of me. He is a charmer so I would just need to flip the script and throw some of my charm his way. *snicker* My secondary character will NO DOUBT be Roar from Veronica Rossi’s Under The Never Sky series. I have put that guy on a pedestal that he will never, ever come down from. Ever. His perfection is in his imperfection. One of the most real characters I’ve come across. Unfortunately for me, Liv is his true love so I think it’s my heart that will be broken.
6. For any avid readers out there who might consider getting involved in blogging, what kind of advice could you give them for starting out?
- BE YOURSELF, and they will come.
- Do not take more requests than you can handle. I repeat, do not take more requests than you can handle.
- Be clear about the genres you review, not only for your followers, but for yourself, too. But also don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and try new genres. I’ve discovered amazing books that way!
- I 100% support self-hosting. It takes some knowledge, so read up and choose a good blogging platform. I recommend WordPress. They have plugins out the wazoo to help streamline the process for you. Plus, you can buy Ashley’s Ultimate Book Blogging Plugin, which is the BOMB.
- Go to author events in your area. Not only because meeting authors is SO FUN, but it’s prime time to network.
- Buy Amanda’s Blog Smarter tool.
- Lastly, don’t let the pressure get to you. Set a schedule that is comfortable and doable for you. If you only post 2 times a week to start, that is fine! I think quality is definitely more important than quantity.
7. What kind of things do you enjoy doing when you’re not reading?
I love to scrapbook. That comes in waves because it is just as time consuming and expensive as being a book review blogger, but it is the one area I can be creatively successful, in my mind. Plus, I get to use my hands and be a kid again. I also scrap with another book lover and blogger, Mandee, and I think I love that girly time with another crafter. It can get pretty boring doing it all by your onesies.
8. Hypothetical #2 – You come home from a hard day at work, and find your house ransacked. There is a small goblin lying sprawled out on your floor. His belly is swollen, his feet are warty and blistered, with long nails curling under his toes and skin flaking onto your floor. He has a half-eaten book cover hanging out of his mouth. You realize he’s eaten every book in your home, and your heart breaks. With a swift kick to his belly, he wakes up and offers to use his goblin magic and bring back three of your books. What books are they?
This goblin reminds me of Grizlemor from J.L. Bryan’s Songs of Magic series. LOL. It seems like something that sneaky goblin would do. This question is so difficult and would likely change with my mood. Right now, I would ask for Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor and Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.
9. You host World Building Wednesdays on your blog, giving authors the chance to talk about your favorite aspect of a book. What is it about world building that makes it your favorite, and can you share with my readers one book that has done it so well, it blows you away?
Well, world building definitely stands out more in the fantasy and paranormal novels, to me. It’s the creation of the world, from the culture, setting, government or kingdom, supernatural aspects, etc, that just blows me away from a creative standpoint. World building is a major reason I love the dystopian genre so much. We get a power-hungry, immoral power entity, a harsh situation, people struggling to survive and losing their humanity. I love the fantasy world because the authors create such vivid and imaginative other-worlds. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor is one of the best fantasy world-building I’ve come across in all my reading days. I am also high impressed with Thea Harrison’s world-building in her Elder Races series.
10. You’re open to reading a lot of different genres. Is there any genre(s) that you just can’t for the life you pick up and read? Why?
Western Fiction, Religious fiction, Chick lit, Literary Fiction (save a few), Poetry, Self-Help, and most contemporary fiction/romance, though I’ve started reading more YA contemporary, which I am enjoying.
11. Owls are your things in a big way. Can you explain what started that obsession and what it is about them that you love?
We can all blame that on scrapbooking. Some years back, they started creating wicked cute owl embellishments and stuff. It spiraled quickly form there. I LOVE how so many people I come into contact with via blogging tell me they think of me when they see anything owl related. I’ve also gotten owl gifts from bloggers!! I’ll be honest and tell you I have no clue why I love them so much. They are just cute and it’s that one thing I get giddy about.
Okay, before we get to the quickie questions. Ash showed me an owl video, and it’s CRAZY. Check out this owl which can transform itself into a menacing-looking owl. Hilarious. That video is messed up, am I right? That owl is creepy. For the record, I’m all about birds of prey. I love falcons, but for me, eagles are where it’s at. I have a bit of an obsession for them.
What’s your preference?
Paperback, Hardcover, or eBook: ALL. Honestly, I only buy hardcovers if I love the cover. I LOVE to display covers on my shelves. Most of the PNR and UF books come in mass market paperback form, which is ok, but I’m not a fan of how it looks on the shelf. And well, eBooks are just wicked convenient.
Dream Vacation or Dream Car: Vacation, all the way. I want to travel the world. I am so very interested in learning about other cultures and ways of life.
Cats or Dogs: Well, this is hard. Right now, I’m going with cats since I have 3 of them and I adore them to cuddly bits. I did have a chow chow for 15 years, however, and I look forward to having one again one day. Hopefully, a shiba inu. 🙂
Spiders or Snakes: SNAKES. I like reptiles. I’m in Georgia, where spiders like to visit me intimately in the summer. Thank the lawd for my cats!
Chocolate or Caramel: Toffee?? 😛
Food: PEANUT BUTTER. I think. J
Color: Orange and Hot Pink
80s Movie: *flails* This is an unfair question! I might have to go with Labyrinth. Or The Neverending Story. Or Cant Buy Me Love. Or The Breakfast Club. Or Footloose.
Reading spot: My bed. It’s about the only spot I gots.
Thanks for shining your awesome spotlight on me, Matty!! ♥
Okay I’ve got some things to add. First, Shiba Inu is a wicked breed of dog and I can’t wait to have one. Second, the fact that you have spiders getting up close and personal with you makes me never want to visit. And lastly, this was a great interview. Thank you to Ash for stopping by and giving us some insight into the awesomeness that is her!
If you want more of ash (who am kidding, of course you do), find her EVERYWHERE: