Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The shoe is on the other foot. . .the book reviewer/blogger foot.

The shoe is on the other foot. . .the book reviewer/blogger foot.

You've read what book reviewers write on blogs, how they interview the authors of the books they read.

Have you ever wondered about the person behind the book review and blog? Have you ever wondered about the book reviewers/bloggers out there who talk about your books or recommend books you read?

Of course you have!

Now is your chance. Learn how one book blogger does it and why. Sit back, grab a cup of coffee, or in my case a Mountain Dew, and enjoy the interview of April from Cafe of Dreams.

Not only can you read the interview, but feel free to post a comment or leave a question. April will pop in off and on throughout the day to answer any feedback.

If you haven't visited April's blog, please hop over to Cafe of Dreams and see what you are missing.

First, let me thank April for taking the time to answer my questions and share a little of her world with us.

On with the interview:

What made you start a book blog?

The biggest reason behind starting a book blog was to simply keep track of books that I read. I had kept a written journel for a couple of years and thought doing the blog might be fun. Plus with the blog, I gave more detail into my thoughts on the book, rather than just a title and a rating number. It's amazing how the blog has taken off since I began. It's been a very exciting and fun journey. I have to say that it is also quite interesting to go back into Cafe of Dreams' beginning reviews and compare them to the present review. The growth, I would like to think, has developed well.

What are your aspirations for your blog?

I would love to see Cafe of Dreams continue to grow and become better and better. I love that I am able to participate in the Virtual Blog Tours - Dorothy Thompson at Pump Up Your Book Promotions has really sent that aspect of my blog soaring. Meeting authors, doing interviews, guest blogs and giveaways has been so wonderful and fulfilling. One thing that I would like to do is add some of my own writing - short stories, poems, etc. Perhaps that may be better suited to doing on another blog, but we shall see.

Where do you get your books you review?

In the beginning, the books that I reviewed were simply ones that I had on my personal bookshelves. Now, however, after getting my name out there a bit more, I get requests from publishers and authors to do reviews for their books. I cannot tell you how exciting and humbling that is. Also, I will request book periodically from publisher through Shelf Awareness and Bostick Communications. Through book tours, such as Pump Up Your Book Promotions and Kidz Book Buzz, I am able to obtain books for review and tour stops.

How many books do you read and review each week? Year?

Oh jeez, now there's a question. You know, that is one of the reasons that I began keeping track of my books, to see how many I could read. I am waaay behind on my yearly running list on my blog, but if I had to venture a guess, I would say 2 - 3 a week right now. Before summer hit, I was doing probably around 3 - 4. That's not including audiobook reviews. I usually manage 2 of those a month. It really depends on how well my kids get along so that I can read and how willing my eyes are willing to cooperate and stay awake after I put the kids to bed, lol. My goal is to get 100 books read and reviewed this year, so hopefully I will hit that mark. I also do reviews for Children books, so those are pretty quick reads and reviews.

Do you have a blogging philosophy?

Have fun! If you don't have fun doing it, what's the use of doing it? Blogging is such a creative outlet for me and truly relaxes and de-stresses me. I have fun sitting down and searching around the web for fun little tidbits to post about. Holidays are especially a blast - I try to post trivia, recipes, etc. Blogging is also such a great way to meet other people that share your interests. When ever someone says that they are picking up a book that I reviewed because it sounded so good, I feel great.

Do you write?

Well, you told me to be sure to put YES to this question, so I better, lol. Actually I have written since I was a child. I have many of the little stories that I wrote from when I was age 7 and up. I had my very first story published in our city newspaper at 7 and a few throughout the years, so that's always fun to look back on.
I think that first story consisted of one REALLY long sentence, lol.

Playing with words is so much fun for me. Writing out my feelings is also so theraputic for me. Poetry is a great outlet for me in this respect. Also by writing short stories, it's like being able to play God in your own little world. My dream has always been to write a full length novel, however, I have not even begun that journey yet. I have a few outlines and ideas, just need to get my butt in gear and swallow that lump of fear of failure and get to it.

How do you keep your book reading and blogging fun and fresh so you don’t burn out?

Honestly, I do get burnt out. When that happens, I just take a step back and take a break. Every now and then you will notice a few days lapse in between posts and that is usually what I am doing - taking a break (or going crazy insane from my kids, lol)That is one of the reasons I backed off a bit on the Virtual Book Tours during the summer - between the stress of keeping the kids busy and not killing each other and my inablity to get as much reading done. I am always happy to do guest posts and book spotlights, however. Those are always fun and easy to post. I do worry that my blog gets tendious to readers, so my hope is that if that is the case, someone will speak up.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Other than my addiction to reading and being on the computer?! lol I guess it would be a couple of yummy men that I like to invite into my home by the names of Ben & Jerry. Yes, as a child I never had much of a taste for ice cream, but now as an adult I am addicted to Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream! My favorites are Karmel Sutra, Americone Dream and Twisted with choco chip cookie dough and brownies - YUMMY!!! When they are on sale, I stock up, when they are not, I pout, lol!

What are the fundamentals to success in your blogging and building long-term traffic?

I think consistancy. You want to have topics and posts that are interesting to your readers. Also adding the fun of giveaways, trivia, quizzes, etc, makes things interesting and does a bit to liven things up.

What makes a book amazing to you?

If a book draws me into it's pages and refuses to let me go, that is amazing. A story whose characters I think about when not reading the book and long after I have finished the final page is amazing.

Any last comments, April?

Please visit my book blog at: http://cafeofdreams.blogspot.com/
Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

18 comments:

Lori Brighton August 12, 2009 at 7:56 AM  

Interesting interview! I have a ton of questions, I'll try to contain myself. lol.

Has an author ever emailed you, angry over a review?

Do you ever feel guilty about doing reviews if you giving a low score?

Thanks!

April August 12, 2009 at 9:06 AM  

Hi Lori! Please ask away - no need for containment here, lol. So far I have not had an author email me angry over a review. It is usually an "I'm sorry that you did not enjoy my book" which leads to your next question. It's not really guilt that I feel over a lower rating, as much as the fact that I feel bad. I know how much work an author puts into their work and how important that work is to them. Truth is one of the most important things about reviewing - though everyone has different opinions/takes/likes/dislikes. So what I may consider not a great book because of the topic, etc, someone else may love. I do state this fact in my reviews and am always sure to point out positive aspects as well as any that I may feel are negative.

April August 12, 2009 at 9:07 AM  

Hi Denise!! Thanks so much for having me on your awesome blog!! This is going to be tons of fun!

Jacqueline Seewald August 12, 2009 at 9:08 AM  

Denise,

Thanks for posting this interview. For those of us who write, reviews are often what make us or break us.

Jacqueline Seewald
THE DROWNING POOL, Five Star/Gale 2009
PMS: Poison, MURDER, SATISFACTION,
L&L Dreamspell anthology 2009
THE INFERNO COLLECTION, Five Star hardcover, Wheeler large print 2008

Jim Colombo August 12, 2009 at 9:23 AM  

April,
What is your favorite type of book to review? Mystery? or Romance? or Biography? etc.

Jim Colombo
Author-The Keys to the Vault

April August 12, 2009 at 10:03 AM  

Hi Jim! How are you? I have to say that your question is almost as bad as asking me what my favorite book is, lol. I truly have a very fast range of genre favorites. If I did have to pick one, I would probably say romantic suspense. Though I have so much fun reviewing Historical Fiction (which ironically is a genre I didn't read much of until I started reviewing.

April August 12, 2009 at 10:04 AM  

Thanks for stopping by Jacqueline! I'm going to check out your titles that you have listed under your name!

Denise August 12, 2009 at 10:05 AM  

April,

Authors have certain times of day where they do their best writing.

What about a book blogger?

When is the best time for you to read and then to write a review?

Pauline B Jones August 12, 2009 at 11:13 AM  

What a great interview. Your blog has a lovely, relaxing look to it. Very classy and elegant. Thanks for taking the time to talk about your blog!

April August 12, 2009 at 11:19 AM  

Denise, I think doing my reviews in the morning are the most productive. I love to spend time reading in the afternoons - though I take every chance I can get to read, so often times have little snippets throughout the day. I do also do reviews whenever I get the chance, but mornings seem to allow my brain function to work a bit smoother.

Question to authors - what do you look for/like to see in/from a reviewer?

April August 12, 2009 at 11:21 AM  

Thanks so much, Pauline! Also, thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read and comment!

GinaL August 12, 2009 at 11:33 AM  

April, as a book hoarder myself, I have to ask... Do you keep your books, pass them along to friends, or donate them? With as many books that you read/review I'm imagining the stacks of books piled throughout your house.

Gina Leuci
A Lesson In Love (2010)

Denise August 12, 2009 at 11:41 AM  

April -

I'm not shy so I will be the first to answer your question. BTW - liked the way you turned the table!

April's Question to authors - what do you look for/like to see in/from a reviewer?

I look for a reviewer who as you stated earlier, even if they don't particularly care for the subject of the book that they will give merit on the writing.

Liking or not liking a book is an opinion and we all have them, but acknowledging the writing effort and that while the reviewer does not care for bloody violence can say, "the descriptions of the decapitation were so real." shiver!

April August 12, 2009 at 11:44 AM  

Hi Gina! I have to be honest that as I read your comment, I had to laugh out loud. My house looks like an explosion in a bookstore - I kid you not. I have stacks upon stacks on my bookshelf, stacks upon stacks next to my bookshelf, as well as in every room (literally) It drives my husband INSANE!!! The clutter does get to me, but I adore my books! Last year I did go through and box up a bunch of books and put them up on paperback swap. Though they were ones I've had around for years and it was painful, lol. Being surrounded by books is like a warm cloak on a cold winter's night - very soothing and reassuring. I do lend books to family and friends, but always get them back eventually. I truly treasure my signed books and can't see ever parting with them. This was one of the hurdles that I had to overcome to get comfy w/ebooks and audio books. In these formats they take up no room, but that reassurance of having the print copy there is gone. Yes, I am on the side of being an obsessed nutcase, lol! By the way - I have done the same thing with books for my kids - they are surrounded, lol.

April August 12, 2009 at 11:49 AM  

LOL, glad you liked the table turning thing. I'm always curious what authors think when they read reviews. Do they like them to be short, quick and simple, or more lengthy and specific. I, for one, have mile long posts/reviews, as you know, lol, so am curious if this format is too much sometimes.

I think that a person/reviewer can look for something positive in any book, while at the same time being honest with their thoughts. I love the term constructive criticism not destructive criticism. Also, not many reviewers will take on a book if they greatly dislike the subject matter, topic, or genre of a book. If you think you are going to hate it from the start, why put yourself and the author through that.

April August 12, 2009 at 8:10 PM  

Thanks so much, Denise, for this fun experience!! I will be sending my questions for you your way soon, so watch out!! lol

BronzeWord August 13, 2009 at 8:57 AM  

Hi Denise, Thank you for having April on your blog. You couldn't have picked a nicer person in the world. I know that everyone at Pump Up Your Book Tour absolutely love her! Thank you April for the insight into how book review bloggers look at books. I would be excited to read your writing. Please post your stories!!!!
Jo Ann Hernandez
BronzeWord Latino Authors
http://authorslatino.com/wordpress

April August 15, 2009 at 9:40 PM  

Hi Jo Ann!! Thank you so much for your kind words and for stopping by! You are just the sweetest and most awesome person and always warm my heart. I will have to get to posting some of my own works. Also, I owe you a couple of emails and will be digging through my gmail to find them.
Hope you are having a wonderful weekend!!
April

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