I first met Maggie through John of Dreaming in Books (who I interviewed in a previous Blogger Wednesday). I mentioned in that interview that I’d done a giveaway on his blog. It was a copy of my novel Jumpstart the World. And Maggie won it. And that was a lucky thing for me. Because Maggie has a great blog, Maggie’s Bookshelf. And Maggie liked Jumpstart a lot. Not just enough to write it an incredible 5 out of 5 stars review, but enough that it kept turning up on her yearly favorites and such. Which was fun.
Face it. That’s a sure-fire way to my heart.
But it wasn’t just because Maggie raved about the book (though, granted, that’s lovely). It was the level of personal honesty that came through in that review. I was blown away. Impressed in a way I wouldn’t forget. I guess I’ve mentioned that I value emotional honesty. Don’t be surprised if I mention it again.
So that’s how Maggie got to be one of my favorite YA book bloggers.
Now. For the interview part of the interview.
John and I go way back. In fact, I really have to work hard to remember how our paths first crossed. But I’m pretty sure it had to do with YA Litchat, or a similar Twitter chat. I think I saw your comments, John, and started following you. Since then I’ve been on your blog Dreaming in Books for a review, an interview, a giveaway, and a guest post. But I believe this is your first visit to mine.
Now. Some questions.
You are one of the teens I admire for being frankly out, and for making a contribution to the health and availability of LGBT fiction. Can you tell my readers a little about why the genre is so important, especially for young adults? Have you paid a price for your openness, or have you mostly received support?
For anyone who reads my blog regularly, you’ll know that Anne and I are buds, and have been for quite some time.
For those of you who begin to read this interview of her blogging skills and think, “No fair. She’s every bit as much an author as a blogger,” have I got a post for you! Anne is the only “double dip” between my Author Friday and Blogger Wednesday series. For just that reason. She’s the only person I know who seems to be equal parts blogger and author. And she is enjoying a great measure of success in both fields. If you didn’t read Anne’s Author Friday interview, it’s right HERE.
Anne had five books published in three and a half months in 2011. Yes, you read that correctly. Five in less than four months. FOOD OF LOVE , THE GATSBY GAME , GHOSTWRITERS IN THE SKY , SHERWOOD, LTD , and THE BEST REVENGE. This year, she launched the boxed set, THE CAMILLA RANDALL MYSTERIES and a Kindle single, BETTY JO STEVENSON RIDES AGAIN.
Her blog has become one of the most respected sources in the industry.
And...drum roll, please...I said Anne and I have a big announcement. Here goes: It is here! It is live! How to be a Writer in the E-Age...and Keep Your E-Sanity! is here in ebook format for both US and UK readers. Paperback soon to follow. But the ebook is live on Amazon now. Don't take my work for it. Click for yourself.
On to the second interview.
Melanie is another example of a book blogger I’ve known since my first blog tour, which was for Jumpstart the World. She hosted a guest post by me, then did a lovely review. We kept in touch on Twitter, which has a surprising way of making you feel like people have been hanging around your house or bumping elbows with you on a daily basis.
Later we actually met in person, because we were both in New York, Melanie for BEA and me for the Lambda Literary Awards. So we sat down and had a cup of tea. Well, I had tea. I think. Not sure what Melanie had. Talk about digressing.
I think one of the reasons Melanie and I get along so well is that we both maintain a big space in our lives for our dogs. And, in case you don’t know this, Melanie, I am also reclusive. (You probably knew.)
Now here goes with the interview stuff.
Me: Melanie, first things first. Tell my readers, please, about Wiki the Weimaraner, the dog who holds as big a place in your heart as Ella does in mine. Anything goes. Funny stories, bragging, overall expressions of love. I wave The Flag of No Shame over your head. Go.
Melanie: Oh my goodness. You should never give a dog person permission to go on and on about their dog. I grew up in a zoo. I mean, not literally, but my house was always packed with animals. My parents had an aviary in the backyard, bred dogs, and kept a rotating cast of cats, snakes, geckos, chameleons, fish, frogs, hamsters, etc. I developed a love for all creatures great and small
Nikki with James MarstersNikki-ann is a great example of how a book review can start a good friendship. I believe it began with her review of my novel Second Hand Heart. Then I noticed that she stayed close to my blog, and often left comments. And I appreciate that. But I appreciated it most when I was having a serious (and unfortunately public) problem with an estranged relative, and Nikki-ann left a comment saying she was having similar family troubles. It’s amazing how comforting that kind of support can be. Reminds us that we are not alone, and our problems are not unique.
Now we follow each other on Twitter and Facebook, and if I had more money I’d be on a hiking vacation in Wales right now, and we’d have a cup of tea face-to-face. This can still happen.
So. On to the interview.
Nikki-ann, I just happen to know that today, June 13th, is your birthday. So let me start by saying happy birthday to you!
Now, I notice on your blog, Notes of Life, you have categories for a couple of Transworld Reading Challenges. And, of course, Transworld is my UK publisher. Can you tell us more about these challenges? I know you explain them on your blog, but maybe you can say a bit for my readers. Am I right to think this is how you first found one of my books? What made you select it? (This answer does not need to be an advertisement for the book. I’m more interested in how you choose, or what catches your attention as a reviewer.)
Lauren and I go way back. Seriously. To give you some idea, when I met Lauren, the biggest thing in social networking was…wait for it…MySpace. Yeah. It was, like, 2008.
It started when I saw a call for submissions for Shooting Stars Mag. I think it turned up in my email inbox, but I don’t know exactly how. I just remember that it was for an upcoming LGBT issue. So I offered something having to do with Becoming Chloe, but I can’t remember if it was a review copy or some kind of related content. Yeah, it was a while ago. And I’m old.
Here’s what I remember very well. My agent was encouraging me to get out on MySpace, but I had no social networking experience, and I just wasn’t quite sure where or how to jump into that pool. So Lauren made a MySpace page for me. And hooked me up with initial friend requests to other writers and book people. Not for money. Just to be helpful and nice. Then I got the hang of it, and expanded it on my own, and moved on to Facebook. (And later Twitter, which didn’t even exist at the time, that I know of.) And now social networking feels like breathing. But none of that is the point. The point is that Lauren is a very caring and giving person, who has reached out to me—and many others—again and again.
Let me segue from there straight into a first question.
Me: You do so much giving on the Internet. You held those auctions to benefit First Book. And you did those fundraisers for two young people with medical needs. And the Living Beyond Tolerance Scholarship. And I expect this is part of a bigger pattern, but I don’t know every instance. Will you please tell me, and my readers, what all you have done that is not for profit? Also, what does it bring into your life that makes it worthwhile?
I confess I had not discovered Adam’s blog, Roof Beam Reader, until I found a review he’d written for my book Jumpstart the World. Then I was so blown away by the thoughtfulness, balance, and detail that I had to learn more. I have a great deal of respect for a number of book bloggers, but I personally do not know anyone who takes his or her responsibility to reviewing more seriously.
I promise you, the more you read his blog, the more words like “respect” will fill your head.
So. Adam. Thanks for visiting my blog for this interview.
Adam: My pleasure! Thank you for having me.
Me: Until I began writing these interview questions, I had read only your reviews. But I just read your post Book Blogging: a Breakdown (The Empathetic Reader and the Effective Reviewer). I think the world would be a better place if everyone read this post in its entirety before reviewing a book. And I don’t just mean bloggers. I feel a lot of old-fashioned print reviewers have dropped the ball. Do you get the sense that this piece has been widely read? I would think it would be a link worth passing around. What kind of feedback have you gotten? Can you describe the moment when you felt compelled to write and post it? I can only imagine the observations you hoped to address, and I’d like to hear your thoughts on that.
I first met Danielle (though not immediately in person) when I signed up for my initial blog tour. The book was Jumpstart the World, and Danielle was one of the bloggers who signed on to host a tour stop. I made it a point to follow all the tour bloggers on Twitter. That’s how I learned “the big coincidence,” though I don’t remember when, or how it first came out. In the international setting of the online book world, Danielle lives less than 45 minutes from me, a couple of towns down the road. So she joined me in one of my workshops, and we’ve met a couple of times to exchange information, books, etc.
When it comes to helping get the word out about my novels and other news, or even standing up for me online when I faced opposition, I couldn’t ask for a more supportive friend.
Her blog There’s a Book has won awards and garnered a great deal of respect. If you’re not familiar with it, this is your chance.
Now. Danielle. Your blog is devoted to juvenile literature, but that’s a wide field. You review books that are appropriate for your own pre-schoolers, and also books like Jumpstart, that are geared toward the mature high school age—or older—reader. Is it ever hard to bridge this gap? Do you ever have doubts or fears that a cutting edge YA review might seem discordant to someone who came to the site to read about picture books? Or do your readers seem able to appreciate the full range?
My first experience with Brent was a simple one. He sent me an email, asking if he could review my forthcoming (at the time) Young Adult novel Jumpstart the World for his blog, The Naughty Book Kitties. I contacted my Knopf publicist, had a copy mailed to him, and that was that.
Except it wasn’t.
Just days later, a Facebook friend left a post on my wall. It was about a teen book blogger who’d gone viral with his criticism of school and public librarians and their handling of LGBT literature. For those who haven’t read the post, I’ll offer the short version. When Bent was in middle school, he asked his school librarian where all the LGBT titles were hiding. She told him: “This is a school library. If you are looking to read inappropriate titles, go to a book store.”
(Or better yet, read the whole post HERE.)
Photo by Marco van Hylckama VliegAmazing how much I think of Pam—creator of the popular Bookalicious blog—as a friend, considering we’ve never met face to face. But we’re only three hours apart by car, so I expect this will happen eventually. Meanwhile, when I needed more exposure for my books, and Pam put together a scavenger hunt giveaway on four popular books blogs, that sure was being a good friend. (By the way, the link was just so you can see how cool it was. Sorry, the contest is over.) This to me is a great example of how helpful bloggers can be to authors, and why authors are wise to hold them in high regard and treat them with respect.
Hell, with a following like Pam’s, even a retweet on Twitter can be a great boon. Which is not to suggest that I only love bloggers for their retweets. More that I like the fact that those of us in the book business really can be a community and help each other out.
So. Pam. A few questions to help my readers get to know you better.
Me: Will you start by briefly explaining the difference between Bookalicio.us and Bookalicious.org?