Today is Book Blogger Appreciation Week’s interview swap day! This was my very first time participating in the swap, and I was paired with the lovely Lena from Everyone, say hi!

So, tell me about Lena. Who are you off-line and how did you start blogging?

Okay, I may get long-winded here. Off-line, I’m a mother of five beautiful, yet sometimes annoying kids that I truly adore. My two oldest are in college this year. So in the meantime between being a taxi, nurse, writer, blogaholic, mediator, and the sock and shoe finder, I daydream of the final moment when I pack my last kid off to college and my husband and I run out and spend all our money on eating out, comfortable walking shoes and matching bedside refrigerators filled with snacks and wine.

I got started blogging while preparing for my novel’s release later this year called Waiting on Heaven, along with an anthology titled, “If I Had My Way,” that will be available this October. A friend who was assisting me said, “you should blog.” At the time I had no idea how to do it. But I went home that day and started blogging. I had no idea what to blog about but I have five kids and nothing really scares me, so I jumped right on in. The friend later said, “you know I’ve told so many people to blog, but you are the first person that ever listened.” And I’ve been a blogaholic ever since.

Do you only blog about books or do you like to mix it up?

I blog about anything book related. So it can be a review, an interview, a writer’s conference, the literary industry, the publishing industry, book marks, sometimes I just blog about nothing in particular and get a little personal. Like the other day I posted about My Lordt Hammercy moment. It had nothing to do with books, but it was how I was feeling at the moment, so I wrote about it.

As a writer, how do you see the role of book blogs effecting the publishing industry?

I think book blogs are vital to the publishing industry and its growth. In order for books and writers to be as relevant as possible they need an audience. Most books are bought by the recommendation of others, whether they saw it in a bookstore or heard about it in the hair salon. Someone, somewhere helped in spreading the word. I believe book blogs are like the hair salon, we chat amongst ourselves about what we think is important and other people listen, whether it’s good or bad, a recommendation has been made. I would like to see the publishing industry give more credit to book bloggers. It’s a very time consuming activity. It pays in dividends of paper we can’t cash and most of the time we pay for the paper ourselves. It would be nice to see a publishing company hold its own meme or book giveaway for book bloggers; linky list and all. Wouldn’t that be great? [It really, really would. Any publishers listening?]

Do you write negative reviews? If so, why do you think they are important? If not, why not?

I have written negative reviews. I hate to do it. It doesn’t feel good. I love books and I want people to read them. So it’s the worst feeling for me to have to tell someone “not” to read a book. I have read several books that I thought were awful by authors I truly admire and I couldn’t bring myself to write the negative review. That has happened only a few times, but it’s still not a good feeling. But if my review is negative amongst a sea of positives reviews or it’s in a reading environment where the reviews are divided, then I’m more apt to write my negative review. If a majority of the reviews are already negative, then I see no point in adding another. As a writer, rejection stings. So I’m sensitive to that aspect, yet as a reader, I want my bang for every single buck. There is a way to do everything properly. Just because I don’t like a book, doesn’t mean I have to be disrespectful towards the hard work that someone put into it. I have written posts that I thought were absolutely fabulous that I look at now and dread reading. And it’s obvious to me that the night before I must have had insomnia, but other people loved it or perhaps it didn’t get any comments at all. So in regards to writing, it’s subjective and everyone has an opinion. In the end we all just want to be validated and heard. But if I can’t make my validation about a book meaningful or relevant then I won’t post it. At the end of the day I’m really just trying to please myself because followers come and go.

What are your top five favourite authors?

Darn…just five. I could have come up with fifty quicker than I could five. I think I need a moment of Zen while I ponder this…

1. Bernice L. McFadden

2. Toni Morrison

3. Octavia E. Butler

4. Amy Tan

5. Diane McKinney Whetstone

I know I’m going to read this and wish I had added someone. I’m leaving out 20 or so authors I know it. I know it.

And your top five book blogs?

Again? You’re sending me back to a moment of Zen. You know this is exhausting thinking of favorites. Okay, here it is in no particular order. And I decided to choose book blogs that were the most useful to me in my blogging journey instead of blogs I personally love.

Sort of Beautiful ~ This is actually a helpful blog and a personal favorite. Written by an authentic blogger who is always consistent in her book reviews and her comments, with a touch of personal flair. When I first began writing book reviews, I modeled mine after hers and then begin to formulate my own format. I think when we don’t know how to do something we emulate what we like most. So I read her reviews and learned what best suited me and eventually got comfortable in my own style.

The Story Siren ~ The information she provides on her blog is essential to any new book blogger. When I started blogging, I stayed on her blog for hours just combing through information and utilizing it.

Jody Hedlund ~ She doesn’t know I exist although I’ve gone to her blog probably everyday in the past week. She is a published author. Her blog is informative and offers assistance to aspiring writers with great articles and posts.

Book Blog Directory ~ It’s a directory of blogs by genre. It’s a wordpress blog with host of information, especially if you want to network or find blogs in your own niche. And you can add your own blog to the directory as well.

Parajunkee’s View ~ Another blog I really enjoy, who’s owner probably doesn’t know I exist. But there is great information on book memes and blogging 101. She has a great meme called Feature and Follow Friday.

Thank you so much for the great answers Lena!

If you want to check out more great blogger interviews, check out this post on the BBAW website. And, as always, happy reading!

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