Thank you for visiting the Inkwell! I'm so happy to have you here, and we'll get right to it!So...how long have you been reviewing and how did you decide on the theme for your blog?
Katie says...I’ve been reviewing for about eighteen months at FictionAficionado (http://fictionaficionadoblog.wordpress.com) but I kind of crept onto the reviewing scene quietly, testing the waters for a little while, not making much of a splash and generally finding my way. But once I started connecting with authors and other bloggers, things really started taking off. I love the way those in the book-blogging community support each other.
There was never any question that my blog would be about fiction and my
love of reading. My official tag line is ‘The power of fiction, the beauty of
words, and the God who made us to wield them for His glory.’ One of my favourite stories in the Bible is when Nathan comes to confront King David about his affair with Bathsheba. Does he launch into a catalogue of David’s sins? Does he ask David what he has done? No. He tells him a story about a poor farmer with a single, precious ewe lamb, and a rich man with a large
number of sheep and cattle. When a traveler came to stay with the rich man, he did not take one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare for his guest. He took the one precious ewe lamb belonging to the poor man. David is outraged and declares that the rich man should die. Nathan’s response is short and to the point: “You are that man.” How convicting! That is the power of fiction. It allows us to step back from ourselves and see a broader picture. It invites us to explore the rich and complex palette of human
emotions from a place of safety, but then every so often, looks us in the eye and whispers,“You are that man (or woman).” And it celebrates life! The gifts from God our creator, like love, forgiveness, grace, joy, comfort in mourning…
*Ahem* I’ll stop now. J I can tend to get a bit passionate about this topic!
Stories, like songs, connect to our brain in ways that just seem to sink in! Who but God would know better than that? I am usually listening to multiple audiobooks (one at work, one in the truck, one on my kindle at night) and reading a few stories when I can catch the time. Oh, and writing at least one or two at any given moment. Wouldn't it be nice if all that word juggling burned calories?
OR... trying to figure out what time it is in Australia versus New York?
So add these hours to Greenwich Mean Time and divide it by the fact no one knows what's going on. Then there's Daylight Savings Time. In other words, Katie is trying to sleep when I'm trying to be awake. Maybe. Then add five children. Sigh.
So Katie, if you're still awake, what’s the best part of being a reviewer?
There are so many good parts! I love being able to support authors—when I started, I didn’t realize just how important reviews are for authors now that Amazon is on the scene—and, of course, there’s being able to indulge my reading addiction without breaking the bank. But I think the best part is being part of the author/reader community. I don’t know about anyone
else, but after I’ve read a good book, I’m just bursting to talk about it, and although Hubby is a reader as well, it’s not often that we read the same things, and . . . well, he tries to be interested, but then his eyes glaze a little and I can tell he’s just indulging me! ☺ Now I have this wonderful community of on-line friends who are more than happy to share my
enthusiasm! Although, Hubby still doesn’t get off completely scott-free . . . J
I was pretty clueless myself. I just wanted to write and be published. I didn't
know just how ridiculous it was to think that anyone would notice--just because it was there. I've heard there are more than 500 a day. This is why I'm excited about this new feature promoting book bloggers. Without reviewers, the other two-thirds of the publishing industry (authors and publishers) aren't going to survive.
What’s the most difficult part of the ‘the job’?
Saying ‘no’! There are so many good books to choose from, and nowhere near enough hours to devote to reading. I have a TBR to last me from here until the next century!
What was the last book you read that you couldn’t put down?
Well, not being able to put a book down is kind of a frequent problem for me! ☺ Let’s see . . . The most recent book I finished (at the time of writing these responses) was ‘Out of Darkness’ by debut author Erynn Newman. It’s a romantic suspense that really tugs on the heartstrings as well as delivering great suspense.
(Deb quickly makes note of that and moves on...) What do you do when you aren’t making authors happy? aka writing reviews!
I try to keep my husband and children happy, fed, and in clean clothes! We have five children aged from 11.5 years down to almost 5 years, and we’re homeschooling, so there are lessons to teach, books to mark, and students to motivate. Oddly enough, I often have to pull their noses out of books...
What would you like to share about yourself that few people know?
Hmm . . . Okay, are you ready for a story? I still can’t believe I did this, but in 2008, a choir I was involved in was on a nation-wide TV show here in Australia called ‘Battle of the Choirs’. I don’t know if you’ve ever had anything like that in the States, but it was kind of similar in feel to shows like ‘The Voice’ or ‘So You Think You Can Dance’, just with choirs. And a much smaller pool of contestants.
Each episode featured four choirs who battled it out before a panel of four judges, firstly with a piece they had prepared themselves, and secondly, with a piece that was given to them on the day of filming that was part of a medley with the other choirs. After performing these, one choir would go straight through to the next round, one would be immediately knocked out, and the remaining two choirs would have to sing a second prepared piece to battle it out for a spot in the next round. Now, The University of Newcastle Chamber Choir is a serious chamber choir. You know, standing in two rows on the stage, singing serious music from the 1500s all the way up to music written by contemporary composers. We weren’t strangers to competitions—had actually been quite successful in the ones we had entered in the past—but this competition was going to require us to choose popular songs (eek!), which would then be arranged for choir and were to be performed WITH ACTIONS, otherwise known as choral-ography! I think my exact words to our conductor were, “Are you nuts? This is so not us. We’ll embarrass ourselves!” I should also mention that by this stage, Hubby and I had three kids—our eldest daughter was a bit over two years old, and I had recently given birth to twins—so I wasn’t actually singing in the choir (although Hubby still was, and they asked me to join back in for the competition). The twins would only be 5-6 months old at the time of filming, which would be an all-day affair in Sydney (two hours south of us), but I thought, “We’ll be dropped after the first episode anyway. I might as well agree.”
Ha! Little did I know…
To cut a long story short, we made it through to the next round. And the round after that. And to the semi-finals. AND TO THE FINALS! They were absolutely crazy days, at the studio for twelve hours rehearsing and filming. (There were a couple of weeks between the filming of earlier episodes). Luckily the backstage crew were completely enamoured with our kids, and there were frequent breaks in filming for the tech crew to go over what was
recorded and make sure they had all the camera angles and that there were no technical difficulties and what not. Those breaks were breast-feeding breaks, play with the toddler breaks, make sure they’re having a nap breaks!
I look back now and wonder how on earth I did it. WHY on earth I did it. But it was a once in a lifetime experience. And . . . we actually won! Out of an original pool of about 24 choirs, we won! If you want to get a feel for what it was like, here are the three best clips from YouTube.
Singing ‘Purple Haze’ by Jimi Hendrix (yes, we really did that!)
Singing ‘Straight to my Heart’ by Sting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvzVDh8jByY
(yes, that’s me with one of the twins at 1:37 and then my sister sitting with our eldest on the floor in the next frame. I’m on the far right of the choir when we perform).All three finalists singing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5QZn2iiazc – watch out for the tenor who totally rocks the ‘mama!’ at 1:26. That’s our Paulie!
That's something to look back on and treasure! How cool is that? I'm very impressed--not surprised--but impressed with how much of a time commitment that must have been at such a crazy time of parenthood! I'll be paying close attention to see which of your five starts to excel in musical performance!
What is your favorite setting? (We're back to fiction, by the way). Place and time? Genre’?
Oh, I couldn’t possibly pick just one! One of the things I love about reading is that you can experience so many different times and places. And I love mixing up my genres—although a little romance is always welcome, no matter the genre! J
What’s your favorite movie to watch if you had a rainy afternoon alone? When the afternoon drags into the evening and you had a catered meal coming, what would it be? (Don’t forget dessert!)
If I had a rainy afternoon alone, I would probably go for the BBC Pride and Prejudice mini-series. I have long been a Jane Austen fan, and I looooooove the Regency period (big Georgette Heyer fan!). If I had a catered meal coming in I would be going for a roast with all the trimmings, even a good old Yorkshire pudding. For dessert, I’m thinking sticky-date pudding. Mmmmmm!
public domain. Author's Note: all the photos I found online for
Sticky Date Pudding
were from Australian Sources!
Katie, besides doubling as Jane Austen... if you could wiggle your nose and be in a new job, position or career, what would it be?
I actually have a good friend who is living my dream life in the UK. She lives in the grounds at Windsor Castle (because her husband is a lay clerk [professional chorister] at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle) and works as a free-lance professional singer (classical), travelling the UK and Europe
singing the most magnificent music of the last 500+ years in the most
magnificent places. If a wiggle of the nose was all it took to get that kind of job, then I’m there! (She’ll tell you it’s much harder than that!)
What piece of advice would you offer authors who are just starting out?
Oh, that’s a good question, and I’m going to assume you’re already working on honing your craft. ;-) Just getting your name out there can feel like such an uphill struggle when you’re starting out, whether you’re publishing independently or trying to get that first contract. I’m not sure whether this would be the same for authors in the general market, but for those writing for the Christian market, I would say get involved in the author/blogger/reader community—and I don’t mean advertising yourself. Join Facebook groups, visit book review blogs, comment and interact. Build
up relationships, and you will have an amazing network of people who can support you, answer questions, and point you in the right direction when you’re feeling lost and overwhelmed.
I absolutely agree. I would have quit long ago if it wasn't for my blog-mates helping me along as we all went from barely published to so busy we barely have time to blog!
Any advice for those readers who are considering becoming reviewers?
I’d love it if all readers became reviewers! You don’t have to have a blog to review books, and authors really rely on those reviews for visibility, particularly on Amazon. Other than actually buying the book, it’s probably the single most important way you can support them. It doesn’t have to be a long review. Just share what you enjoyed or didn’t enjoy about the book—politely in the latter situation!
If you’re thinking about setting up a blog, get involved in the author/reader/blogger community. (Hmm… that advice sounds familiar… J ) Facebook groups are great for. Visit other book bloggers and interact on their pages. Get a feel for what sort of things readers respond to. But above all, be yourself. Bring something uniquely you to your blog.
Oh. And learn how to say ‘no’, even when it almost kills you. Because at some point you will find the number of books you want to review exceeds the time you have available. I guarantee it!
I'll second that! Due to the dreaded algorithm structure at Amazon, reviews are sometimes more important than sales. For additional bits of wisdom from book bloggers, check out my other guests at Debra's webpage and click on the Book Bloggers menu!
For any reviewers who would like to start out small (ha ha), I'm happy to help. Yes, without shame, I will always be courting reviews and reviewers. Contact me at Debra (at) debraemarvin.com. Or here in comments! I'm offering a giveaway of Saguaro Sunset -ebook or paperback to one reader/reviewer!
Thanks so much for indulging my nosiness, Katie! You have such a great blog and you are much appreciated!