Book Blogger Appreciation Week, for me, is all about getting to know new blogs and new bloggers, so of course I was really excited at the prospect of participating in an interview exchange. I chit-chatted with Margaret of Creative Madness. Margaret just welcomed a new addition into her life (yay, new baby!) and has added a few reviews to her site which spotlight products which might be of particular interest to moms, but mostly she is all about the books, and boy does she love her historical fiction! Please welcome Margaret to Linus’s Blanket. Congratulations on your new baby! How are you doing it all?
Thanks for the wishes! I am still excited and cannot believe it has been six weeks, everything is still so new. As for doing it all, well I feel completely overwhelmed and fully behind. I have stacks of books to read as promised for reviews and even more books that I am just desperate to read because they just look that good and have not a clue when I will get to it all. I used to read a book in a day or two, but now I am lucky if I get one in a week with all of AppleBlossom’s little demands. She is very snuggly and quite the attention hog, but so worth it.
If you had 4 sentences to describe your blog, what would you say?
A new SAHM who reads a lot, quilts occasionally, gushes over her newborn, and from time to time does genealogy research putting it all into an electronic format makes up my blog. It is not so much a diary, as a place to share what I am currently attempting to be creative with in my madness. My blog is a comfy cozy place to find out about the latest Christian Historical Fiction as well as almost every other genre Christian or General Market. Now, it is also a place of reference for Cloth Diapers and other baby/family products that are must haves.
You have a very eclectic blog. How did you get into blogging about books? Did you know that’s what you wanted to do from the start?
Creative Madness was started so that I would have an easier way to show my sisters and my mother pictures of quilts and cross stitch that I was working on. It was much easier to up load and send a web address than to send the big picture files. I was reading lots too and got involved on Goodreads at the same time and started writing book reviews, and then just started blogging the book reviews and I have been addicted ever since. So I probably blogged a few weeks before being bookish. Then books have been my main theme until a few months ago when I started reviewing maternity products as well during my pregnancy. In the future, I definitely plan to be mostly books, with a few reviews, opinions, and craftiness thrown in from time to time.
How long have you been blogging?
I have been blogging for just shy of two years now. October 18th will mark my two year blogoversary. My celebration this year is a huge book giveaway going on all month and maybe then some…
From the beginning of your blogging until now, in what ways has the experience of blogging changed for you?
At first I did not know nor care about followers. But as time went on and I started wanting more specific titles I needed a larger readership to impress the publicists. I have worked harder at getting more followers. When in the first year of blogging, I am shocked in retrospect about how many posts I have without trying. In the past few months it has been more difficult to post, but then can be related to my new addition. My blogging experience has really changed in the matter of it is more of a networking community to share things when before it was just my talking to myself hoping my sisters were listening. The funny thing is now, when I had made things for three sisters and my mother, I find out only one sister actually reads the blog. *Grin*
Who were some of the bloggers that you got to know blogging?
My first blogging buddies are the people I am still closest to in the blogging realm. That would be Deena of A Peek at My Bookshelf, Rel of Relz Reviewz, and later Ruth of Bookish Ruth and my closest blogging buddy Lindsey of Kindred Spirit’s Thoughts and Reviews. It seems every week I am making another blogging acquaintance, and I am pleasantly shocked at how close of friends my blogging buddies can be.
What’s the most useful piece of advice that you have ever gotten blogging about books?
I do not know if it is necessarily anything that someone out right told me as advice, but the best advice that I have gathered from watching and reading other bloggers is to write a book review, not a book report. People are for the most part going to read blogged book reviews to get an idea whether or not they should read the book and they do not want to read the entire plot and ending in a post, because then there is no purpose in reading the book. That has become a huge pet peeve to me as well, when I see so many “supposed” reviews that are just detailed synopsis.
It looks as if you read a lot of historical fiction, is there a special appeal in the genre for you?
My daddy is very much into history. All my life I can recall his explaining one piece of history or another, whether from something we passed driving down the street to just a picture we saw somewhere. My fondest memories are of his anecdotes on one thing or another. From there he also taught me a love of genealogy. In school, I may have never been that good of a student in history, but in researching genealogy with my dad, I could never get enough of the events surrounding the people. From there it just sort of blossomed. In my love of historical fiction, I prefer the escape to a time and a place elsewhere, when I can imagine the clothing, speech, and lifestyles. I try to avoid the historical stories of realistic pain dealing with war and hardships and pretty much stay in the realm of romance and fairly happily ever after within reason.
What do you look for when choosing a book?
Covers play a big part in my book choosing, but would not deter me completely if a book blurb sounds just that good. I look to see if I know the author and have read them and liked them or not. The endorsements are something I glance through, and I only read the ones from people I have heard of, either other authors I appreciate or what is really influential to me is when an endorser is a fellow book blogger. Another thing that can influence me about choosing a book is what the publisher is depending on the genre. Some almost always have good books in one genre or another.
What authors have you read this year are authors you would read again? Does anyone stand out?
Goodness, let me think. This year I have read dozens of authors in the last nine months. Authors that I have read and would read anything else they published would be Michelle Moran, Mary Connealy, Julie Lessman , Deanna Raybourn, Tracie Peterson, Deeanne Gist, Rebeca Seitz, Julie Klassen, Stephenie Meyer, Tamera Alexander, Kathleen Y’Barbo, and Kaye Dacus. Some I have know about a few years, some I have only discovered this year. New authors that stand out to me that I will look for future books from are Catherine Gilbert Murdock, Craig Parshall, Matt Bronleewe and DiAnn Mills. There is also a billion others, but I know you do not have all day. *grin*
What’s your review process like? What do you think are key elements to include in a book review?
As soon as I finish a book (almost always) even at two AM, I go write a review on Goodreads. Then I blog it. Then I post it on Amazon, BN.com, Borders, PaperbackSwap, Shelfari, and Google Reader. If it is Christian, I also post it on CBD.com, and if it is Christian Fiction I also submit it to be posted on ChristianBookwormReviews.com and NovelReviews of NovelJourney. Automatically from my blog, my reviews are also posted on my various ning accounts, Facebook, and Twitter too.
My actual process for writing the review is different for each book. At one point I thought about making myself a rubric to go by, but really each book calls for different things to be mentioned. I talk a little bit about a basic book blurb and then give my opinion. The good and the bad. Why I read the book, why I think others would like it and so on. My purpose is to convince others about the quality of a book so that they’ll go buy a copy and I hope some of my reviews achieve that.
Do you plan out your reading or do you prefer to be more spontaneous?
It was spontaneous, although I get in kicks. Meaning, I will crave historical fiction, and probably spend a week reading four of five books of historical fiction in related eras and areas. Or maybe I read a chicklit and then after that I will crave other contemporary romances. I still live by this habit, but it is a bit more structured now as I read books by deadline for various publishers. Sometimes I am just not in the mood for a certain genre, but the non-mood usually passed once I get started and then I can sway myself to just about anything.
What are you top five favorite books, and have they changed or stayed the same over the years?
Goodness. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, by Avi. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer. Scarlet by Stephen R. Lawhead. Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner. Most of these just came out in the last year or so, but The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle has been a favorite since I first read it at age twelve or so. It is the book that I read and after that loved reading. I list these as favorites, but so many others come to my mind, it is hard to just leave it there. Pretty much anything by Michelle Moran, Deanna Raybourn, Mary Connealy, and Julie Lessman are considered pure favorites as well.
What does your next year in book blogging look like in your head?
The next year may not be as full or exciting as previous because of less time to read with AppleBlossom in my life, but I definitely plan to have a minimum or a book review a week and have many more book suggestions and announcements through out the weeks. I absolutely love to find out about the coming soon books and post about them to let my friends now. Truly, as the C.S. Lewis quote on my header states, there is never a book long enough. Yet at the same time, there are so many books and too little time.
Nicole, Thank you so much for doing this with me! It feels great to go through all this stuff, and really makes me think. There are so many good authors out there and I love reading. I cannot wait to find more authors to become addicted to as well. It is great having many favorites, because then while one is writing and waiting to publish, I can read another to keep me busy and patient!