I am totally stoked that Me, My Shelf and I and Two Chicks on Books decided to host this event AND that I got to post on my actual blogoversary. Things have been just so crazy IRL that I haven’t had much of a chance to think up something clever like I have in years past. And while I did post a little something, which includes a giveaway, it’s more low-key than I wanted it to be.
I mean five years is a pretty big deal. I never thought when I started out that I’d have been a book blogger for five years. I tend to give up on things pretty quickly because I get bored. But (*pats self on back*) I somehow made it. And I owe a LOT of that to Jaime of Two Chicks on Books who virtually slapped me on more than one occasion and told me to stick it out.
Thanks Jaime! (I think…)
Anyway, as part of this event we were FORCED (yes, forced) to answer a few interview questions AND list our five favorites of various things. And so, here goes… I apologize in advance for the long, ramble-y answers.
The Fantastic Fives Interview Questions
- Tell us a little bit about yourself.
If you didn’t already know this, my name is Rachel, I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, I’ve been blogging about books for five years (obviously), I have a full-time job that keeps me busy during the day, and like to spend as much time out on the water in a sailboat as I can.
I love reading about all things fiction. I’m a mood reader. But I’m open to reading almost all genres of books.
And I do not love talking about myself, which is why I really wish they kept with the 5’s theme here, versus making us answer 7 questions.
Oh… One other thing: I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase “long story short.” Well I have a bit of the opposite problem, I’m more of a “short story long” kind of girl.
- How did you get started blogging?
As I’ve talked about this way too many times since I started blogging I’ll really try to keep it brief.
But I started blogging about books because I was given the chance to beta read a book by Author Amanda Hocking, and one of the requirements was having a blog to review the book on. I’d been a huge fan of hers after discovering her My Blood Approves series on Amazon, had been following her blog online (one of only four blogs I read at the time), and jumped at the chance. I’d purchased the blog name Fiktshun several months earlier, had planned on it being a community blog for friends and family to write stories, book reviews, etc. but gave up after a couple attempts at writing book reviews – I sucked. But to get the chance at an early read of Amanda Hocking’s book I brought it back to life, and have been blogging ever since.
- How did you pick the name for your blog?
The Dude always told me I needed blog names that weren’t similar to others as that was a “no no.” So ever since 2005 when I bought my first domain name for a non-book blogging site, I had that in mind.
I wanted a play on fiction for this particular blog that was supposed to be about writing and reviewing. So I thought, how else can I spell fiction? (Because there wasn’t a chance in hell I’d get Fiction.com.) And of course I didn’t think of the phonetic “fikshen” at the time, though I own the domain now. And I wanted Fikshun, but that domain was already taken though there wasn’t a site associated.
So I thought Fiktshun with a T. I Googled it and found only one random person who used the name Fiktshun on some social networking site called 43 things years earlier. That account wasn’t active and no one else seemed to use the name Fiktshun, so I bought the domain in April 2010 and just so happened to still have it when I re-launched Fiktshun as a book blog.
So, aside from the original spelling, the name isn’t exactly original…or clever…or easy to spell. But hey, it is an adequate descriptor, and not too tough to remember, so it works. And now I misspell fiction all the time.
- If you could go back in time and tell your newbie blogger self 1 thing what would it be?
Only one thing? Hey, where’s the 5 in all of this???
Okay, so only one thing…hmm….
I think I would tell my newbie self to remember that life exists outside of blogging. Going full-throttle will just result in burning out quickly. So, always strive for balance.
I became totally consumed with the blog the first year to year-and-a-half I was blogging. I spent every free moment of my life obsessed with the blog, the books I could read, the original content I could post. It was over-optimistic of me to think I could handle it all. And my total obsession eventually became too big a part of my life.
- What have you learned in your 5 years of blogging?
Be yourself and blog your way. The only way you’re going to be able to keep doing this thing is if you’re not trying to be who you’re not.
When I first started blogging I used to wish I could be as clever, or as concise, or as friendly, or as BETTER as some of those bloggers that I looked up to. But I realized in the first five minutes that I could never be someone other than myself. And while I always strive to be the BEST version of myself I can be, I never try to be someone other than me.
Be realistic in your expectations. You can only do so much. There are no shortcuts. You have to do the time if you want to reap whatever “rewards” you are hoping to get – whether it be an audience, attention from authors and publishers, friends in the community, early reads, an “in” to the publishing world.
I never looked for a shortcut. I was raised to believe that you have to bust your a** if you want something in life. But my expectations for myself were sky high and I couldn’t possibly have hoped to reach those lofty goals with the limited amount of time I had to blog.
Be realistic in your expectations part 2 – keep your envy in check. It sucks getting rejected for books you desperately want to read, especially when every blogger you know has gotten those same books. But you have to do the time. And even then you won’t necessarily get everything someone else does.
After five years I still don’t see those stacks of books from Harper at my door. I don’t get invited to be on all the latest and greatest tours from the pubs. My blog doesn’t have automatic name recognition because of its longevity. But I’m okay with that 99.9% of the time. And when I’m not, I spend a few minutes feeling sorry for myself and then just dive into one of the many fantastic books I have at my disposal.
Be prepared to be plagiarized. You might not think it possible, that book lovers would ever think of plagiarizing. But it happens. Pretty often. And no matter how proactive you are, it’s likely you won’t discover every time you’ve had your words or ideas stolen.
I never thought that someone who loved to talk about the books they loved would be a thief. I thought the idea of sharing your thoughts about books meant just that – sharing YOUR thoughts. I never imagined that someone would want to post someone else’s ideas – whether word-for-word or “cleverly” reworked so as to appear their own by using thesaurus or other means – but it happens. It’s happened to me, more than once. And it sucks each and every time. It does NOT get any easier.
Be prepared for negative feedback. Whether you love or hate a book you will have detractors. Some may quietly dislike your views and move on. Others may be more vocal about it. How you choose to respond will dictate how much it escalates into drama and how people will view you and your blog.
When I first started blogging, a negative review I posted led to the author privately reaching out to me. While the tone wasn’t overly aggressive, it wasn’t wholly positive. I felt horrible. I hadn’t known authors read my reviews, I hadn’t realized I made an impact. And it, for a time, made me very selective in the books I chose to read.
I’ve since been called all sorts of things (on Amazon). I’ve been criticized for the length of my reviews, for the fact that I write positive reviews, for the fact that I like a book that everyone hates, for the fact that I hate a book that everyone loves. I’ve been criticized for my blog’s style, the amount of content I had in my sidebar, for not commenting back often enough on my comments, for not responding to requests for reviews. I’ve been called a b**ch by someone who plagiarized me.
It’s hard not to let these things weigh on you. If I’d been prepared for all of it, I might have been more ready to let it just wash over me instead of making me feel defeated.
Be prepared for drama. Whether it’s your own, or drama in the blogosphere, or author/blogger drama, it’s good to be prepared. Because it can be a huge time-suck. It can make you say something you wish you could take back. It can completely kill your reputation.
I’ve been caught up in a few – when I broke a large plagiarism situation by a couple of bloggers, when I had some of my paid-for graphics stolen and used. They blew over quickly in the blogosphere, but not for me. Each instance took away some of my love for book blogging.
And the scandals that I am not involved in I try to avoid. But someone always inevitably calls my attention to them. And they either rile me up or dishearten me. Again making me question why I’m doing this.
If I had known this is part and parcel of book blogging I wouldn’t have been so affected by it.
- What was the first ARC or book you ever received from a publisher?
From a publisher? Hmm… technically it was the one I won from Goodreads, as it was sent by a publisher – and that was BORN AT MIDNIGHT by C.C. Hunter.
Otherwise, I’m not sure. (Wow that sounds so bad!) But for the first six months of blogging I only received books via NetGalley. I was told not to even attempt a request before I put in my time. I’d also received a bunch of ARCs through charitable donations I’d made and ARCs that I traded for finished copies of books. So I’m totally hazy on the first ARC I received from a publisher.
I’m going to guess it was a title from Harper as I’d had found a contact there in 2011 and I recall requesting a couple of titles before I made it a policy at the end of that year to never request physical books because I couldn’t stand rejection. (So you can imagine how much I love the Google forms that publishers now have! Not getting a title feels so less personal.)
I never had that “OMG I made it!” feeling to associate with receipt of my first ARC (and I still don’t feel like I’ve made it). Though I was totally thrilled when I got approved for my first few eARC with NetGalley and they were – THE IRON QUEEN by Julie Kagawa, MY SOUL TO STEAL by Rachel Vincent and ANGELFIRE by Courtney Allison Moulton.
- When you’re not reading or blogging, what can we find you doing?
Sailing. I started in October 2013 and have been obsessed with it ever since. If I could find a way to read and skipper a sailboat at the same time it’d be a total bliss situation for me.
Geez, you guys are asking the impossible!
- Five Favorite Books
WIZARD AND GLASS by Stephen King, THE LONG WALK by Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman, PAINT IT BLACK by Janet Fitch, WATERSHIP DOWN by Richard Adams, REPLAY by Ken Grimwood, DUNE by Frank Herbert.
(Gah, I should probably have listed some classics, or some of my new favorite reads!)
- Five Favorite Book Boyfriends
Roland Deschain from King’s Dark Tower series, Tod Hudson from Rachel Vincent’s Soul Screamers series, Paul Atreides from Frank Herbert’s Dune chronicles, Death from Kresley Cole’s Arcana chronicles, Eric Northman from Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries.
(Of course I love Ethan, and Bones, and Barrons, and Dimitri, and Cole, and other Cole. I hate that I could only choose five. You guys are evil!)
- Five Favorite Book Quotes
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” – litany used by Paul Atreides in Frank Herbert’s DUNE
“He just kept picking them up and laying them down.” – about Ray Garraty from Stephen King’s THE LONG WALK
“You’re the brightest thing I’ve ever seen, Kaylee. You’re this beautiful ball of fire spitting sparks out at the world, burning fiercely, holding back the dark by sheer will. And I always knew that if I reached out — if i tried to touch you — I’d get burned. Because you’re not mine. I’m not supposed to feel the fire. I’m not supposed to want it. But I do. I want you, Kaylee, like I’ve never wanted anything. Ever. I want the fire. I want the heat, and the light, and I want the burn.” – Tod from Rachel Vincent’s IF I DIE
“Love fades. Mine has.” – Dimitri from Richelle Mead’s SPIRIT BOUND
“I realize now that dying is easy. Living is hard.” – Mia from Gayle Forman’s IF I STAY
- Five Blogging Tips For New Bloggers
- Don’t over-promise. It’s understandable to want to say yes to every new ARC, every new tour, every new request. But you’ll only be setting yourself up for major stress, and ultimately for failure.
- Be honest. If you can’t read something in time, own up to it. People will understand. If you can’t write a review, don’t steal someone else’s, just say you can’t meet the deadline, that life got in the way. The “my blog’s scheduler” lie will only work the first time, if at all. It’s better to tell the truth – you forgot, life was crazy, than to be dishonest.
- Blog your way. Don’t listen to what others say about how you should blog, what content you should or shouldn’t include, how you should write your reviews, what you should or shouldn’t include in your sidebar. While some of those tips may be helpful or informative, if they don’t work for you and your blog, don’t feel obligated to follow someone else’s rules or guidelines. It’s your blog and you should blog in a way that makes you feel good. As long as you’re honest then it doesn’t matter if you express your thoughts in gifs, with tons of exclamations, post pics of your favorite book boyfriends, et cetera.
- Have fun. Contrary to what it feels like a lot of the time, blogging is not a competition. There are plenty of books out there looking for love. Read what you want, in a timeframe that works for you, post when you want, and post about the things that make you happy. Blogging can be fun and not a giant ball of stress. Seriously.
- Be social. I know, I KNOW. I’m like the most anti-social blogger out there. But this blogging thing will be way more fun if you have friends and people to talk to, to commiserate with, on a daily basis.
- Five Blogs You Want The World To Know About
Two Chicks on Books – though if you’re following this event you probably already know about TCOB. Jaime is my best blogger friend and I adore her blog. She’s THE most enthusiastic blogger I know. She has never once thought about giving up the blog in all her five years of blogging. She goes after what she wants without hesitation. She befriends authors (am so jealous). She attends events (even more jealous). She knows everyone (dying of jealousy here). She rocks.
Parajunkee – though if you’ve been in the blogging community for two seconds you’ll already know all about Rachel a.k.a. Parajunkee. She has so many talents – blogging, designing, writing. She’s funny and snarky – her Dishing Junk posts are the BEST. Her reviews are honest but not brutal. Her voice is her own. So, I may be one of her most regular – and obnoxious – clients (I love blog design), but I’d like to think we’ve become friends (and not just because I pay her).
Good Books And Good Wine – I may not socialize much with April but I love reading her reviews and checking out her blog. She is refreshingly honest, her reviews are personal and enjoyable to read, and she reads a nice variety of books. Her blog is substantive and not a “filler” blog. If you haven’t yet discovered it, you should definitely check it out.
Bewitched Bookworms – I’ve followed Bewitched Bookworms for a long while now. I love their features. They are so enthusiastic about books, and it shows in everything they post. Also, their blog is so pretty, you can’t help but want to take a peek at it every day.
Reading with ABC – Liza’s blog is one I believe I became familiar with through Rockstar Book Tours. I love her blog’s design, I love her authenticity, and I love checking out her reviews. I also love that she has discussion posts, and if I wasn’t always constantly in a state of stress about meeting deadlines I’d be way more active in commenting and participating in discussions on her blog. That’s my bad. Her blog is great, so you should totally check it out.
I am offering up for giveaway…
$25 in Books of Your Choice to ONE (1) winner
- Must be 13 or older to enter
- There will be ONE winner
- Giveaway is open to anywhere The Book Depository ships
- Prizes will be ordered from Amazon or The Book Depository depending upon location
- Giveaway is open until November 23rd at 11:59 p.m. Pacific
There are no requirements to like or follow this blog, though it is appreciated. Extra entry opportunities are included for tweeting about the giveaway, leaving a comment, and for following the hosts of this event and my five favorite blogs on twitter.
Enter in the Rafflecopter below…
- Nov. 8th | Books Etc.
- Nov. 9th | Fiktshun
- Nov. 10th | Two Chicks on Books
- Nov. 11th | Me, My Shelf and I
- Nov. 12th | Bewitched Bookworms
- Nov. 13th | Novel Novice
- Nov. 14th | Book Angel Booktopia
- Nov. 15th | Maer Wilson
- Nov. 16th | Taking it One Book at a Time
- Nov. 17th | YA Book Shelf
- Nov. 18th | Musings of a YA Reader
- Nov. 19th | Bookish Lifestyle
- Nov. 20th | Once Upon a Twilight
- Nov. 21st | Stories & Sweeties
- Nov. 22nd | Bookaholics Anonymous