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Armchair BEA: Introductions First!

Design credit goes to Nina of Nina Reads

This is my second year participating in Armchair BEA and I’m even more excited to participate this year than last year!

For day one of the week-long event, we were asked to introduce ourselves by answering five questions. So here goes….

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Q. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

Well, my name is Rachel. Yes, that’s my real name. Though some people do call me by my blog’s name, Fiktshun. I wasn’t clever enough to come up with a cool online screen name when I started out. And the likelihood is that if I did, I would have forgotten it at some point. So real name it is, and has been.

In the real world I have a full-time job that keeps me busy for ten or more hours a day. I like to go to the movies almost as much as I like reading. And as far as reads go, I have been hooked on so many different genres, but these days it’s mainly young adult and non-YA paranormal/urban fantasy.

I have been blogging for just over a year-and-a-half. Some days it feels like I’ve been doing this for just an instant, other days it feels like decades. I haven’t hit the two year mark quite yet, but it’s coming up and I’m kind of excited about it.

As readers of my blog may already know – so they may want to skip this part – I started this blog in November 2010 in order to be a beta reader for Amanda Hocking’s book Torn. I needed a place to post a review of the book and I just so happened to have a domain name and dormant website that I had originally intended to be a sort of writing/reviewing blog for myself, friends and family. Though I quickly discovered – once I learned how to – that I didn’t particularly like writing reviews and my friends and family weren’t too keen on committing to blogging, so I gave up.

But beta reading that book was one of the more exciting experiences I’d had in a long time. And so I decided at that moment to give reviewing one more shot. And I’ve been blogging daily on this blog ever since. And occasionally on the one or two other blogs I’ve managed to create.

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Q. What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?

I am currently reading a couple different books. I have been devouring the Chicagoland Vampires series by author Chloe Neill and just finished Hard Bitten, which has torn me to shreds. And which is part of the reason why this post didn’t go up at midnight as planned.

I had intended to start reading The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead, but after the way things ended in Hard Bitten, I just had to start Drink Deep. I am definitely still in shock after what happened so I can’t possibly walk away from that series just yet.

I’m also reading City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare. Finally. Because I’m dying to find out what happens in City of Lost Souls.

As far as favorite books go, though… well, there are already too many to choose just one.

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Q. Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.

Hmm. This one is tough. I think I’m sort of an open book – pun really not intended. Really. But maybe not everyone knows that I love all things mid-century. Okay, well… maybe not all things. But I love mid-century architecture, furniture, art and design.

My dream home would be a fully restored Eichler. My favorite designers are Charles and Ray Eames, Mies van der Rohe, Eero Saarinen, Arne Jacobsen, Isamu Noguchi, Jens Risom, George Nelson, and I love Knoll, Heywood-Wakefield, Vitra and all things case study.

I love Mark Rothko’s art. But these days I am hooked on a local artist, Campbell Laird, whose work is very much in the style of mid-century.

And I love, love, love the films and music of the fifties. And no, I wasn’t alive in the 1950s. But I probably should have been.

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Q. What is your favorite part about the book blogging community? Is there anything that you would like to see change in the coming years?

My favorite part is, and has been, getting to know the authors, bloggers and readers in the community. When everything else about blogging starts to weigh me down and makes me question why I’m still doing this, it’s the people I’ve “met” online that keep me going. It would be so easy to walk away from all the late nights, stress and drama if it weren’t for the people in the community who, for the most part, are absolutely amazing.

I have met readers who are just so incredibly enthusiastic and bring a smile to my face each and every day. Just knowing that books give them such joy is a constant reminder of why I do this.

And I like to think I’ve made some great online friends. I’d never had online friends before, since I was never a part of the online social experience until I started up my blog. But now there are several people who I look forward to “talking” to each day. And a few I feel close enough to that I would try to help out in any way I can if they ever needed me.

And then there are the authors. Ahhh… those amazing rock stars. They have been, still are, and always will be, my idols. Just getting the chance to interact with them is like a dream come true. I am humbled and honored, and I sometimes totally go all fangirl when “talking” to an author I admire and respect. Being a part of the community gives me the chance to interact with authors in a way that being an outsider never would. So, this, too, is one of my very favorite things.

So, what would I like to see change? Quite a few things. Though I doubt they will. At least not right away. But there are two things I’d love to see change sooner rather than later….

I’d love for book blogging to be all about the books and not about who gets the most ARCs, the most attention from publishers, the most followers. Envy, jealousy and poor self-worth are all things that just bring the community down. They lead to cruelty, dishonesty and drama. When bloggers start to wonder what they’re doing wrong, why they’re not good enough and why they’re not getting the notice that other bloggers get, it takes away from all the positives that the community has to offer. It puts the focus on the wrong things. The material things. And not on sharing the love of reading with others who love to read.

I’d also love for there to be a higher standard of professionalism. Seeing all the author-blogger and blogger-blogger drama this past year has left me shocked and dismayed. While I don’t expect everyone to like each other, respect each other or always get along, choosing to act professionally is a standard that everyone has the ability to aim for or to meet.

If authors and community leaders achieve that standard, those that look up to them may try to model themselves after those behaviors. But when those that are held to a higher standard can’t even meet the standard, how can the rest of the community be expected to?

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Q. If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?

Okay, I chose this question because it was the least difficult of the remaining ones. Sort of. But as I am so not comfortable with praising my own posts and blog, that was out. And as my reading tastes haven’t changed, it left just this one question.

Though I definitely think it would have to be coffee or a drink and not dinner. I would be way too nervous and probably end up with a plate of food in my lap. And I’m sure the author or character would not appreciate the metallic clanging of fork on plate as the nervous shakes took hold.

So, while there are a ton of authors I’d kill to meet and hang out with in real life, grill for all the details of their upcoming books, their characters’ futures and their writing process, I think I have to go with Stephen King.

I have loved that author for way more than half my life. His books have been with me through so many different stages of my existence. He’s terrified me, tormented me, broken my heart and put me in a malaise that lasted for months on end. He is a creative genius. He has an imagination that stretches farther than any author I’ve read more than ten books of.

And he has written a character who I refer to only as my fictional heartbreak. A character I had followed for over a decade only to be left totally decimated by.

So, yes, I would die, literally die, if I could have even a fraction of an hour to sit with this man. To rattle off question after question. To hear what he has to say about anything writing related.

But it would not be at a Chinese restaurant. I still cannot eat fortune cookies without tearing them to pieces to be absolutely sure there’s nothing but the fortune inside thanks to this author.

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So, I think that’s five. Phew. Boy was that tough. Fortunately the rest of the week’s posts are a little bit easier. And for all of you not attending the NYC event, I hope you have a happy Armchair BEA experience!

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