12:30 am 11 August 2016
I was tagged by Murder by Death – thank you very much! – for this Q&A brought to BL by Grey Warden.
How long have you been a blogger?
A blogger only since I moved to BookLikes in the fall of 2013 in the throes of the Goodreads censorship debacle. I started reviewing on Amazon in 2000 or 2001 and moved to GR in 2008. Would never have thought I’d take to blogging this much, but there it is, I do! 🙂 Which has a lot to do with the great community and great interaction on BookLikes, too, though. Even on Amazon, I always said I wanted my reviews to be starting points for a discussion (and I moved away from there when the climate went positively poisonous). The same was true on Goodreads, though admittedly the most fun I had there was in creating Listopia lists (some of them, of the decidedly goofy variety) and with the interaction in the lists’ comments section. (Again, this was before things got a bit uptight with regard to “list rules” and similar stuff.) BookLikes is by far the most congenial, open-minded and just overall nicest book community I’ve belonged to.
After Leafmarks lamentably took a dive earlier this year I also created a WordPress blog, which I’d never have done without the great experience I’ve made on BookLikes in the first place. My experience on WordPress has so far been positive as well, but I haven’t been there long enough yet to say anything more, I’m afraid.
At what point do you think you’ll stop?
Err – when it stops being fun, I guess?
What’s the best thing?
Feedback / discussing great books, meeting so many wonderful people who love books as much as I do (plus who also share, between them, a fair amount of my other interests), and the terrifying and completely out of control explosion of my TBR pile.
Add to that, on BookLikes, the near-total absence of whiny and just generally badly behaving authors and other trolls, and the community’s joint response whenever such folks are actually stupid enough to show their faces here.
Also, I totally love the design powers we’ve been given with regard to our BookLikes blogs. (Even if it typically takes me eons to successfully implement even the tiniest feature.)
What’s the worst thing? What do you do to make it ok?
On BookLikes, nothing bad as far as the community goes; period. In terms of site features, the longstanding and annoying disfunctionality of the reblog feature and the pitifully poor librarian features (also more recently, the site’s general hickups and lacking staff response). About all of which I tend to bitch and moan on occasion in the hope that someone somewhere will finally listen (so far however, alas, to no avail).
Pretty much everywhere else, the fact that interactions ultimately have a way of turning poisonous before you’ve even realized what’s going wrong; regardless whether you’ve run into a BBA or some other troll, or because the community just isn’t as tight-knit to begin with, or for whatever other reason. My response to that typically is to walk away: certainly from a discussion that stops actually being one, but ultimately also from the site in question. I neither have the time nor the inclination to expose myself to that kind of aggravation; though if it’s aggro from a BBA or someone (else) gaming the system, I’ll engage long enough to make it clear to everyone else what is going on, and I may very well also flag the discussion in question for site admin review.
On Goodreads and Amazon, what I also find totally unacceptable is the fact that reviews are being censored (and not even subtly, either). If I can’t actually say what I think in a review, what’s the point of reviewing to begin with? Definitely only one response to that sort of thing – walking away.
How long does it take you to create/find pictures to use?
Finding them is hardly ever the issue – either I already have saved them somewhere, or Google and someone else’s hopefully public, free-use collection obliges at short notice. I tend to obsess over design issues, though – where exactly to place images, how large to make them, etc. As a result, finalizing a post may easily take me twice the amount of time (compared to just typing it up) if I use a lot of images. Also, I find that I use images on non-review posts a lot more than on reviews (on those, only if I decide that illustration greatly enhances the review). For most non-review posts, though … just bring ’em on! 🙂
Who is your book crush?
I am polygamous (well, when it comes to book crushes – and anyway, isn’t that the point of reading widely?). Remember Sundance? “I’m not picky. As long as she’s smart, pretty, and sweet, and gentle, and tender, and refined, and lovely, and carefree …” Pretty much that – just read “he” instead of “she”; unless obviously we’re also defining “crush” as a heroine I can identify with, look up to, or otherwise consider a role model. In that case it’s women, too.
Brains are important; I can’t stand characters who are TSTL. As is honesty, standing by who you are and what you live by, and a certain amount of openmindedness and generosity. But basically, as
I, err, Sundance said, I’m not picky …
What author would you like to have on your blog?
To interview myself? William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Hillary Mantel, C.J. Sansom, and Salman Rushdie.
Also, Hodder (I think) recently had several of their authors interview each other – I’d love to be, or have been able host something like that … say between Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and P.D. James; or Jane Austen and Elizabeth Barrett Browning; or George Eliot and George Sand; or Christine de Pizan and Moderata Fonte; or William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, Ben Jonson, and Christopher Marlowe; or Hillary Mantel, C.J. Sansom, Michael Jecks, Iain Pears, Ellis Peters, and our own Samantha Wilcoxson; or Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, and Henning Mankell; or … or … 😀
What do you wear when you write your blog posts?
Ummm … whatever I’m wearing that particular day? On weekends, most likely jeans or comfy slacks and either a T-shirt and a sweatshirt; on work days, something suitable for the office – approximately 3 days out of 5, some combination involving a no-iron cotton, silk or wool top and black dress pants.
How long does it take you to prepare?
I tend to make it up as I go along, so no structural drafting / preparation at all. That said, if I decide I’m going to review a book (which I don’t always do), it’s often because there is something particular that has occurred to me while I was reading the book and that I want to comment on. Only very rarely do I read a book specifically with the pre-existing idea of reviewing it in mind; though if I do, again, I’ll most likely already have thought about what I want to say at least in general terms before I even sit down to write my review.
How do you feel about the book blogger community/culture?
See answers to the first questions above! 🙂
What do you think one should do to get a successful blog?
Be courteous, honest, and appreciative of / responsive to the people who read your blog. Keep things varied and diverse. Say at least a little bit about the reasons why you like / dislike a given book, or care about a given topic, etc. And most of all, in a community like BookLikes: Participate!!
And in that spirit: If you haven’t done this Q&A yet and you’ve made it all the way to the end of this post, consider yourself tagged! 🙂