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Meet Book Blogger Nicole Santana



Welcome to the Inkwell, Nicole! 
Debra asks…how long have you been reviewing and how did you decide on the theme for your blog?

Nicole- I am a newbie blogger! I started at the end of last May, and I absolutely love it. I decided to call my blog The Christian Fiction Girl because I love Christian Fiction and wanted to share my love with others. Honestly, I thought nothing would really come of my blog other than it being a space for my thoughts, but God has had other plans. I have met, and been welcomed by, an amazing community of like-minded people. It’s been a true blessing!

D-. Wow! I didn’t know that. I thought you’d been blogging for longer than that. You certainly have been busy! 

So tell me, what’s the best part of being a reviewer?

N- For me, the best part of being a reviewer is the community I have become a part of. The bloggers, authors, publicity teams, and publishers that I have met and worked with over the past few months have been so welcoming, helpful, and kind. And, the support of the people who read my blog regularly is unlike anything I could have imagined. I really feel like I have made some excellent friendships over the past few months. I am truly blessed.

D- I agree. And you know what? When I first started writing, I only knew of one or two people who had review blogs. I was busy trying to get to know other authors. Then, with my first release (Surprise, books don’t review themselves!), I slowly started to meet reviewers and bloggers. It’s double the fun. After all we are all readers!
What’s the most difficult part of the ‘the job’?

N- I think the most difficult part of the “job” is saying “No.” I genuinely want to read for every author who asks, but as just one person there really is no way for me to get to every book. I have a hard time telling people that I can’t read for them. I also have a hard time saying “No” to myself. I need to learn to give myself a little wiggle room in case a book takes longer to read and review than I think it will initially. I have a tendency to really fill my reading schedule, then I feel overwhelmed. But, these are all things I am learning to navigate as a new reviewer.

D- I appreciate when reviewers say no because it means they want to take the time to review without feeling rushed.

What was the last book you read that you couldn’t put down?

N- I just finished Love’s Bright Tomorrow by Naomi Rawlings. What an amazing read! I highly recommend it. And, Roseanna White’s A Song Unheard is UH-MAY-ZING!!! Willa, the main character, is my soul sister. I cannot recommend that book enough. I think I read it in about 36 hours.

D- Okay, your enthusiasm allows you to have two answers!  I love both these authors too. I first read Naomi’s writing with her Love Inspired Historical series!



What keeps you busy or entertained (beyond reading and reviewing!)?

N- My five-year old daughter, Isabella, is my absolute joy! My most favorite time of day is when I walk through my front door after a long day at work and see her adorable face as she lights up with excitement to see me. Working with her on her homework, making dinner with her, cuddling on the couch as we watch PBS Kids, and doing our night-time routine is the highlight of my day.

D-  isn’t that the truth! I have to warn you this enthusiasm wanes. But then… there’s grandchildren. Finally! Someone is happy to see me again! Haha.

What is your fiction favorite…setting? Place and time? Genre’?

N- I really love Historical Christian Fiction and Biblical Fiction. I love the Regency-era novels of Julie Klassen, Kristi Ann Hunter, and Carolyn Miller. I love anything Civil War era, so authors like Tamera Alexander and Jocelyn Green are go-to authors for me. And, anything Laura Frantz writes regardless of era. She is an outstanding writer. I also love Roseanna White’s works, and will read anything she releases no matter when her books take place. And, as far as Biblical Fiction goes, I will devour everything by Mesu Andrews and Tessa Afshar. I think they are brilliant researchers and excellent storytellers.
Recently though, I have begun appreciating Contemporary Christian novels. Courtney Walsh, Cara Putman, Bethany Turner, Becky Wade, and Lynette Eason are a few of my favorite Contemporary Fiction authors. I will read anything these fabulous ladies produce!

D- Just keeping up with these alone will keep you busy! (and I had my big fangirl moment this summer when I got to meet Laura Frantz in person after so many years of chatting online!)

If you had a rainy afternoon alone to watch a movie what would it be? And what meal would you have delivered if that afternoon included a quiet evening as well? I’m paying with my virtual bank account!

N- This is a very difficult question for me as I adore Classic films. I will watch anything starring Cary Grant, Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, Katherine Hepburn, or Ingrid Bergman. They are fantastic actors and actresses. If I had to choose just one film, it would be Notorious starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains. It’s an Alfred Hitchcock film, and it is brilliant. It has everything you could want in a movie: a dashing undercover agent, a beautiful but damaged damsel in distress, an evil villain who is really just a puppet to his mommy (scary!), romance, intrigue, suspense. It’s excellent!!!


I love food! Give me a taco and tamale any day. However, I don’t usually eat a meal when I am watching films because I get so absorbed that I forget the food is there. Typically, when I watch a film I like to have snack food and tea! Tea is my drink. I love it hot, cold, black, or herbal. It’s so soothing!

D- I’m glad you feel that way because I think a lot of ‘young people” (sorry, I had to use that awful phrase) don’t care for black and whites! I grew up with them. We used to have movies on the local tv channels at 1 and 4 pm when I was a kid, so I grew up on westerns, gangsters, and the great classics!

If you could wiggle your nose and be in a new career, what would it be?

N- I would love to be in a career where I could work with authors and publishers on a full-time scale. I enjoy the PR-side to writing the reviews, interviews, and cover reveals that I do now on my blog, and wish I could turn that into a full-time job so I could support my author, blogger, and publicity teams better.


Here is the perfect Virtual Assistant for an Author!
D- I guess my dream career would be hiring someone like you so I don’t have to clone myself! 

What piece of advice would you offer authors who are just starting out?

N- I’m not in any way gifted at creative writing, so I can’t give advice on writing practices or the publishing industry as I don’t really know how that side of things works, but I would advise prayer. I am a firm believer that working with God on our dreams and hopes gets us to achievement far sooner, and with better outcomes, than working without Him ever could. It is my practice to pray before I write every post, take on every review job, and work with any author/publisher. If I’m not doing this blogging for God, I shouldn’t really be doing any of it at all.

D- Same for new reviewers—

This I can talk about! Prayer is definitely my first piece of advice. Nothing will succeed as well as it could if we ignore God. He wants a relationship with us, so allow Him into this endeavor. Then, I would recommend making friends with fellow bloggers and asking them questions. Don’t be timid! So far, I have not met a “mean” blogger who wouldn’t answer my questions. I recommend joining Facebook groups for readers/bloggers/authors so you can begin networking and seeing what is out there and what people are doing. I suggest going to the websites of the publishers you like and see if they have any review programs you could apply for. And, follow lots of different types of blogs. You pick up great ideas for how to write various types of posts, how to set up your site so it’s visually appealing, etc. 

D- thanks so much for indulging my questions. And thanks for visiting! I wish you the best with your blog and  I'll be following along!

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Comments

  1. Thanks for visiting and answering my questions, Nicole. I'm so happy to have found you out there in cyberspace and it's been great fun to get to know you, and even more so now that you've been our guest!

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    1. Oh my, Debra, thank you SO much for your support. Thank you for asking to interview me. I'm in awe that you noticed me and my blog. 😊❤

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  2. Once again, loved reading this - these reviewer-interviews are so much fun and so clever!
    And I love all the authors you listed, Nicole! Amen to devouring anything by Tessa Afshar and Mesu Andrews - love their work!! And Connilyn Cosette - those three are my top favourite Biblical Fiction writers!! :)

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    1. Connilyn Cosette came out of nowhere. I heard about her book and didn't even realize it was biblical fiction. She's certainly made a lot of fans in a short period of time! And thanks for stopping in, Raechel! I love seeing 'my girls'!

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    2. Rachel, thanks for commenting. I agree! Connilyn Cossette is an amazing writer. I just got her latest novel. I can't wait to read it!!!

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  3. Hi Nicole & Debra *waving*
    I'm so happy to see Nicole here today! This is such a fun interview. I too enjoy the older movies! I'm super excited that we get to meet up this May at the Fiction Readers Summit!!

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    1. I'm a bit pouty as I just can seem to make it to this retreat in May. Too much going on and its a long drive. If I didn't have two books due June 1, I might give it a try, because it was just amazing to meet reviewers and bloggers in person last summer in Cincinnati. (Truly it was more rewarding than the ACFW conference because them it's just a bunch of authors. phooey!) And we like to grumble. While Reviewers are so full of encouragement!

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    2. Trisha!!!! Thanks for reading, and thanks for all of your support. You have been a big blessing to me. I'm very excited to meet you in May.

      I'm sorry you won't be there, Debra, but two books due June 1 is a great, reasonable excuse.

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  4. I think I have found a "soul sister". We love all the same kinds of books and movies, Nicole! And " A Song Unheard" is my favorite book so far this year and I have read nearly 40 already. It's a stand-out for sure! Good luck with your blog!

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    1. REBECCA!!! 40! I'm only listening to audiobooks so I'm at about three for the year. sigh. I take pleasure in the fact I get to read books before they come out! That's the joy of being a critique partner with someone like Susie Dietze! Thanks for commenting. I too was excited about Nicole's choice of movie! I wish TCM was an Amazon App. Well, maybe it is and I should go check it out. It was the hardest thing to give up when we went to basic cable years ago. My mom loved the old ones and so do I.

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    2. Rebecca!!! Thanks for your comment. I'm uber impressed by your 40 books read already. Wow!!! Are you a blogger, too?

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  5. Hi, Nicole! I just recently found your blog and really enjoy it! I can't wait to get to know you better! :-)

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    1. My goal this year is to find all the bloggers. HA! good luck, right? but I see so many faces and names and sometimes I don't know that a particular person is also a blogger. Some bloggers don't share their names so it's a bit of a hunt for the information! Like I said in the blog post, Nicole is so active with her blogging and promotion that I thought she'd been blogging for years!

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    2. Hi, Karen!!! I'm so glad you are enjoying my blog. I appreciate your support!

      Debra, I love hearing you think I'm a seasoned blogger, but honestly I don't have a real clue about what I'm doing. I'm just letting God lead me!!!

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  6. Hi guys!!!! This was a great interview :) Debra asks the best questions! I loved learning more about Nicole. Love her blog!

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    1. I had planned to ask a variety of questions but I like hearing how each blogger answers the same question with something so unique to her! Thanks Jessica!

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    2. Thanks Jessica!!! I'm a big fan of your blog. And, your new site is gorgeous! I love the look and layout. 😊

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  7. Frantically waving hi to everyone! What a fantastic interview--I was blessed to meet Nicole in person a few weeks ago! She is one sweet lady and I hope we can hang out again!

    These interviews with reviewers are awesome, so fun and informative. Love getting to know new friends!

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    1. Susie!!! You're amazing. It was an honor meeting you. I can't wait to meet up with you again. 😊

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  8. So good to meet you, Nicole! I absolutely love B&W movies. The cinematography in some of them is just delicious. And I love that (even though it was often out of necessity) they managed to have sizzling romance and gripping drama without explicit language or activity. Filmmakers now could learn something. :)

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    1. True. It's much more romantic ! And I liked the fact that people dressed well. Even if they had very little, they dressed like they respected themselves and others. Of course, I dress as casually as possible, but maybe if I had to pick hats and gloves for my outfits, (and not ski hats and winter gloves), I'd enjoy wearing a dress once in awhile! The fashion is part of the fun of those movies!

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    2. DeAnna!!! Thanks for commenting. I agree about B&W. I love the respect aspect, too, Debra. Whether people had money or not, they still carried themselves with respect and dignity. I know we all do, but I wish more of our society did.

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  9. Hi! Hi!Hi!
    This was a fun interview read. Congratulations on the success of your blog Nicole!

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  10. Hi Nicole! It's so nice to "meet" you. I'm the same way about reviewing, I hate saying no but I'm learning to. It's not because I don't LOVE reading, but like you said, I'm only one person and can only read so much. I've been in the overwhelmed position way too many times & totally of my own fault! So, I'm learning to curb that urge to read & review for every author who asks and am taking more time to do "for fun" reads...those books I don't have to review but just read for the pleasure of it. I often find myself reviewing those books anyway because I enjoy them so much :-) But I don't feel obligated...if that makes sense.

    I hope to see you again in here! I can relate so much :-)

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