New Treasure – Interview Swap

Today it’s time for the BBAW interview swap, and my partner for this is Jenners from Find Your Next Book Here.  Rather than speak for her, I’ll let her do the talking, in response to a few questions I dashed off to her last week – enjoy 🙂

How would you briefly describe yourself for the blogging public reading this post?
The Fantasy: Witty and winsome, this wildly popular blogger has been charming the pants off her fellow book lovers for almost two years. Known for her astute analyses of an eclectic mix of books, Jenners is currently at work on her own novel, which has been optioned by Harper Perennial.

The Reality: Chubby and mildly humorous on her best days, this beleaguered stay-at-home mom could stand to lose about 25 pounds, clean the house more often and read less. Yet she manages to spend more time working on her blogs than she does planning and preparing nutritious meals for her family. Although she’s dreamed of attempting to write a novel for almost her entire life, laziness and a lack of confidence have so far kept her from even trying.

When and why did you start your blog?
I started my personal blog, Life with a Little One and More, in November 2008 after seeing a friend’s blog and thinking “I could do that!” I’d been seeking a creative outlet to offset the monotony and tedium of being a stay-at-home mom/housewife, and nothing had been a good fit. I’m not crafty AT ALL so sewing, needlepoint, scrapbooking and all the various other projects I’d attempted had quickly been tossed aside to molder in a closet. But blogging … well, blogging was what I’d been seeking my entire life! I realized quickly that I wanted to write about books as well as my personal life so I decided to start a dedicated book blog, which ended up as Find Your Next Book Here. Since then, my love affair with blogging has never wavered (much to my husband’s chagrin and surprise).

What is the main focus of your blog, and what type of posts are most common (reviews, chatting, giveaways)?
I don’t really have a defined focus for my blog other than to write about the books I’m reading. The majority of my posts are book reviews, but I do have a monthly giveaway and occasionally write chatty book-related posts if the mood strikes me.

How much time and energy do you put into your blog?
Way more than I probably should … and much much much more than my husband feels I should! I estimate that I spend at least 2 hours a day every day blogging, which includes writing posts and visiting other blogs. Left to my own devices, I would probably spend even more than that but I realize I do have other responsibilities. Sigh.

What would you change about your blog and/or your blogging if you had the time?
I’d love to move it to WordPress, but I’m unsure how to do this without losing my domain name and screwing up the feeds. (Any hints or advice would be greatly appreciated.) The main reason I want to move to WordPress is for the threaded comments–that is one of the things that really annoys me about Blogger. How hard is it to develop a better commenting system, Blogger Powers-That-Be????? And I’m always futzing around with my blog look. I try to leave it alone but at least once a year I get all crazy and change it around. I’d also like to finally get caught up on my book reviews. Right now, I have a list of 11 books I still need to write reviews for, and it drives me crazy.

Do you think you read enough books from outside your home country?
No … but I don’t really focus on that as a reading goal. In thinking back over the books I’ve read this year, almost all of them are by American or British authors. I did read Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Series, and I’m painfully working my way through Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov right now. And I’m hosting a read along for Eiji Yoshikawa’s Musashi later this month, so I guess I’m branching out a bit.

If you had to choose three books everyone should read, what would they be?
Wow … that everyone should read? Impossible to answer! How about three of the best books I’ve read in the past year or so? The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon, The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, and Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri.

E-books: the next big thing or spawn of Satan?
The next big thing! I’ve had a Kindle for about a year or so (and just upgraded to the new Kindle 3 … they did a really good job improving it!), and I love it. I love its portability. I love having a gadget my husband doesn’t hog. I love being able to take 10 books on vacation without having to figure out how to fit them in a suitcase. I love that I can get more books for my money. I love that I don’t have to find more room on the four shelves I’m allowed to fill with my books. (Unfair, yes?) I really don’t think paper books or bookstores will disappear any time soon so I fully embrace e-books as an enhancement to my reading addiction.

Do bloggers deserve free books from publishers in return for reviews?
Well, “deserve” is such a loaded term. I think the relationship between publishers and book bloggers can be a mutually beneficial thing, but I think both sides need to adhere to a few guidelines. First, publishers SHOULD NOT expect, demand, or imply that the books they send to a blogger should receive positive reviews. All they should expect is honest and timely reviews. Second, bloggers SHOULD read books they receive for review in a timely manner and write a thorough, honest and considered review. By this, I think if a blogger receives a free book from a publisher, they should read it relatively soon after receipt and take the time to write a review that gives their readers an idea of what the book is about and what they thought of it.

Personally, I try to limit the amount of books I accept for review from publishers so I don’t feel overburdened. I do provide my honest opinion of the book, but I also try to present basic information about the book so my readers can decide whether this book might be of interest to them or not. I think that is all I can be expected to do by a publisher. I do also disclose if I got a book for free from a publisher so that my readers know and can decide whether that matters to them. Also, I don’t think it is fair to accept a book for review and then regurgitate the book jacket description and write just a few lines such as “I really liked it!” or “Not so good!” In exchange for the free book, I think a blogger needs to put a little honest effort into their review.

What is the future of book blogging?!
Darned if I know!

*****
Thanks for the chat Jenners 🙂 
If you want to hear what I had to say, you can find my half of the interview over at Jenners’ site…

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28 thoughts on “New Treasure – Interview Swap

  1. I'm so happy to have discovered you, Tony, from over at Jenners' blog, because I really related to your comments except for the not reading vampires part! :–)

    Jenners is one of my very favorite people and bloggers, and the weird thing is, this is how almost everyone feels who starts reading her blogs. Well, not weird in the sense of non-deserving, but weird in the sense that this seems to be proof that she should be writing that novel she has dreamed of and getting published and more widely read! And then we can all try to scrounge free ARCs, and we can blog about how “we knew her when” and so on, and it will be great!

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  2. Only four shelves? That's brutal!

    I have only read one of Jenners' must reads, but have the other two on my shelf and hope to read them soon.

    Jenners is one of my favorite bloggers too! I find her posts endlessly entertaining. We're also both ex-wannabe-crafters turned bloggers, and that's just one more thing that endears her to me.

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  3. I love the comment about having a gadget your husband doesn't hog! Mine even steals my phone! I'm betting that my husband would steal an e-reader if I got it though. He just can't avoid playing with new gadgets 🙂

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  4. Great interview! I like the question about getting review copies.

    I'm pretty sure it is possible to transfer to WordPress from blogger. By owning a domain name you can set up the blogging system on your own site, which as far as I know should let you import all your old posts from Blogger.

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  5. Thanks for dropping by everyone 🙂 Hopefully, Jenners will stop by too to address some of your comments!

    Charlie – It's a question (review copies) close to my heart (and many other Aussie bloggers' hearts too!). It appears to us that U.K. and U.S. bloggers virtually get books foisted on them unrequested most days, something which does not happen here – well, not to me, anyway! It's fascinating to see how blasé book bloggers elsewhere can get about something which I would love to see happen to me 😉

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  6. Oh, I do love my Jenners. She was one of my featured bloggers on yesterday's meme even. She makes me laugh, and we have alot in common as far as our reading interests. I'm glad I'm not the only one who is behind in writing reviews!

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  7. Rhapsody: When I “hit it big,” I will give you unlimited chocolate forever … as well as 10 ARCs of all my books (before they get remaindered.) HAHA!

    Alyce: I know … only having 4 shelves is a horror, isn't it? I need to enter those CSN giveaways to score myself another bookshelf!

    Jackie: What is it with men and their gadgets?!? I guess this was one of the SOLE advantages to being married to a non-reader … he won't steal my Kindle!

    Petty: Isn't Tony's blog something else? It is like going to a wonderful literature review course with a witty and responsive professor!

    Charlie: I've actually been working on transferring my posts to WordPress (and successfully did that) … but then I get flummoxed on the whole domain mapping thing. I think I need to call in my husband (the computer expert) for assistance.

    Chasingbwa: Yes … Musashi is a chunkster — 970 pages!! I actually hosting a readalong for it starting on 9/20 … we're reading about 100 pages every 9 days, which should make it more manageable. Amazingly enough, I've convinced at least 4 other bloggers to join me! Once I finish, I'd be curious to seek out the story in other forms. I've never tried manga before.

    Tony: I do get offered some books for review but I haven't hit the nirvana of getting unsolicited books in the mail from publishers yet. That is the Holy Grail of book blogging I think! You should check out LibraryThing Early Reviewer program … they have started offering lots of international books for review. Not sure about Australia though.

    Jeanne: Can you please come and talk to my husband for me? He doesn't quite see things with the wisdom that you have!

    Amanda: Aw, shucks. I'm blushing!

    Serena: Well, I shall work on being more conceited and full of myself!

    Sandy: Want to have a competition about who can get more behind in their reviews?

    Beth F: Of all the bloggers, I thought you would know the answer to the future of book blogging!!!! : )

    Thanks everyone and thanks for having me Tony.

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  8. Jenners is truly my favorite book blogger and source for laugh-out-loud pleasure! I respect & thoroughly enjoy her reviews of books, finding that most are spot on! And Tony, I am happy to have been introduced to you as I too am so NOT into vampires!

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  9. Jenners is one of my favorite bloggers, too! It's nice to have discovered your blog through hers — this was a good interview swap.

    I switched from blogger to wordpress, but I can't really help since I had someone do it for me!

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  10. I'm a little late getting here, but I thoroughly enjoyed your interview with Jenners. She is one of my favorite bloggers!

    I'm not much on reviewing books (when I feel I have to I'm more of the “share a quote from the cover and say whether I liked it or not” type), but I certainly enjoy reading what others say about the books they're reading.

    It was nice visiting your blog. Very interesting!

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  11. Wonderful interview of Jenners, Tony! You won the blogger lottery getting Jenners for your interview swa! She's a terrific blogger, with great taste in books (and reads serious ones too), she writes creative,smart review posts and has a wacky, fantastic sense of humor!
    Love your 3 “must read” books, Jenners – I really want to read The Book Thief!

    Thank you Tony & Jenners!
    ~ Amy

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  12. Thanks again for dropping by our little chats 🙂 Jenners has been wonderful, and I've had more comments to deal with today than in a normal week!

    Watch out for tomorrow's (today's)post on a blogger-inspired recommendation…

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  13. I'm back again … it is confusing about responding to comments when they aren't on your own blog! Plus every blog I visit, I feel like I have to visit both interviews!! It has been one crazy day! : )

    Stacy: Right back at ya!

    Valerie: I'm beginning to think that perhaps I need to ask for a blog transfer to WordPress (plus a new template) for my birthday or Christmas!!!

    Kelly: You should review books more and stop tempting me with all your recipes!

    Brooke: The “devil” works in mysterious ways … at least people might be reading more! HAHA!

    Miz Tipsy: It was fun exploring your blog today for the first time. You have an interesting approach by pairing drinks with books.

    Amy: Did I pay you money or something for those kind words!!!? Wow! I'm blown away.

    Bermudaonion: And if I do ever write a book, I'm sure you'll win it in a giveaway! : ) If I'd interviewed you, I would have asked how you manage to win so many books each week.

    Nicole: It would be neat of the future of blogging somehow included pay and health insurance wouldn't it?

    Tony: Thanks again for having me. I hope you had fun getting your vampire hating rep! : ) Haha!

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  14. Nice to meet you Jenners. I am with you in wanting to move to WordPress, but I am doing so because I just do not know how to pull it off. Besides, I don't have the time or inclination to learn another system at this point in my life. If you do discover some tips on how to transition over, please share.

    I am glad that I have come across both of your blogs. I look forward to reading your posts.

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  15. ibeeeg – I too have thought about moving to WordPress – I too have run away like a big scaredy cat after floundering around for half an hour!

    feministtexicanreads – Thanks 🙂 It was pretty much a one-scene wrap too 😉

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  16. Now Tony, knowing that you too are a scaredy cat and have run away from WordPress has m brought a smile to my face. Yeah, I roll like that…finding comradery and some sense of pleasure in knowing that another feels some of the same trepidation as me. LOL.
    I am fairly certain that I will not be moving to WordPress any time soon. Maybe one day, in my old…old age when I have the time to spend hours, and maybe days trying to figure it out. 🙂

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