Debra here... and today I have one of those reviewers who has been 'around' the book blogger world from 'the beginning'. At least it feels that way, because AusJenny has been blogging...well, I should let her tell you:
AusJenny: I started reviewing in 2007 and started my blog December 2007 after Camy Tang had a meme which I answered. I wanted to review books and then joined a couple of blog alliances. I also started "getting to know you Thursday’s" with authors. The past couple of years I haven’t been as active due to health issues. I choose my name because most people have come to me as Ausjenny and added Come Meet AusJenny. Blue is my favourite colour which is why it’s the background colour. In the past few years I have added health updates. The address is http://ausjenny.blogspot.com
Deb: I also got to know so many authors and reviewers back at that time, when I was checking the Seekerville blog every morning! That's where I first saw your name! What’s the best part of being a reviewer?
Jenny: The best part is being able to create a short summary of what I like about a book along with different aspects that appealed to me. I also want to let others know how a book made me feel and I also enjoy being able to support authors.
D: In my opinion, that one sentence is exactly the way to go with a review! The blurb tells us what we need to know so I read a review to find out what the reviewer liked (and hope it resonates with me.)
What’s the most difficult part of the ‘the job’?
J: Not offending authors. I sometimes feel the pressure by some authors to always give 5 stars. This is unrealistic as if every book I read is 5 stars I feel it devalues some books. 5 stars should be reserved for the top reads in a year rather than every book read.
The other issue is when I review a book based on what I thought the book was due to labeling for instance reading a book thinking it is inspirational romance, making a comment in the review that I was disappointed in the lack of romance only to have the author publicly tell me I had it wrong and it was women’s fiction so I shouldn’t be expecting a romance. The author contacting me privately would have been so much better thank in a public forum.
D: Absolutely! This is why I'm thrilled with fives but love fours and hey, I'll take a three (okay reviewers, not a lot of threes, please.) For me a five is a book that has me telling everyone I know about it. I know reviewers who rarely hand out fives, while others use them all the time. Not even the same as a 'great book' which could be a four. I'm also not comfortable seeing authors review each others' books, so I hesitate to do it.
So, what was the last book you read that you couldn’t put down?
J: It was a novella by Darlene Franklin called “The Mermaid’s Song”. It may have been only a novella but it packed a lot in. It also deals with a subject I have read a couple of books about but not many. A heroine from Arcadia who ends up shipwreck. We see a heroine who speaks French and the Hero speaks English but we see how love can concur. The book is packed with other issues as well.
D: Darlene is a legend, so I'm not surprised! She just celebrated her 50th release. SIGHS DRAMATICALLY! I know she'll be thrilled to hear this, Jenny!
What do you do when you aren’t doing all those great reviews?
J: I would love to read more but due to health issues which includes head pain 24/7 I have periods where reading is a real struggle. I love doing jigsaws. I also love watching cricket although the past few years it’s mainly on tv due to the health issues (noise). I like to do a little gardening also. I have some scrapbooks I am trying to get organized so I can continue with putting photos into them. I went to a class this month and want to do more.
D: That's plenty of things! From what I hear, you have to deal with two large gum trees in your yard, which is totally 'tropical' to me!
J: I have also won Champion adult exhibit for embroidery/needlework.
D: Ahh... lovely. The old arts that so few young women know anymore. Yes, I'm complaining! I learned all those things that we learn from our grandmothers. (like who darns socks anymore...) But it's a rare child who has the interest and patience to sit and do hand crafts. At least cooking will never go out of style!
What is your favorite fictional setting? Place and time? Genre’?
J: This is a really hard question for me. I am not sure I have a favourite setting, place and time. I do like Civil War era, Revolutionary War and Oregon Trail Era, along with the post Civil war era. I like small town or country rather than bigger city as well. To be honest I like most of the eras besides Regency. I enjoy Historical but also contemporary, Mystery and light suspense and even Amish. I think you should have said what don’t I like which would be horror or heavy suspense, Regency and Women’s lit.
D: It was interesting to hear you mention only periods of American History. What are the similar periods in Australian history?
J: The gold rush period began around the 1850's. We call our ranches, sheep or cattle stations, these started around the 1780's they started around the time of the convicts. We still have huge stations which would be bigger than many American states but I wouldn't really call it a period. We were always part of the Commonwealth as we started with the first fleet which brought both settlers and convicts, and began as a penal colony when they could no longer transport prisoners to America due to the revolutionary war.
D: I have to admit I'm rather influenced by The Thorn Birds and Australia (with my boyfriend Hugh Jackman, of course) and find the extreme size of Australia (with so much of it wild) is pretty interesting!
What’s your favorite movie to watch if you had a rainy afternoon alone?
And when that afternoon became a quiet evening, what could the caterers bring for your dinner? Money is no object!
J: Ok now here is another tough question as I live alone! It depends on my mood. It may sound strange but I do like the movie Gettysburg, but also like the Janette Oke series When Call’s The Heart and enjoy watching the series which we have in movie form. I think I would still go simple and have Spaghetti Bolognaise followed by some Black Forrest Cake.
|(Deb says... I was in my fifties before I know that spaghetti the way my mom made it was... her version of Bolognaise)|
|(Okay, I'm ready for some cake. Thank you https://food52.com/recipes/32106-black-forest-cake)|
D: I'm a big fan of Gettysburg (since I first fell for historical fiction via Gone with the Wind!) But I've stayed away from writing it. I was also a bit confused when I watched two different versions of When Calls the Heart, but I know it's a huge 'fandom'. I don't have Hallmark Channel which leaves me out of the running for a lot of movies!
If you could wiggle your nose and be in a new career, what would it be?
J: Well if professional cricket follower where you get paid to follow the cricket and give a daily report I would do that otherwise working as a Virtual Assistant.
D: I can't help you with the paid Cricket Watcher, but this is a nice place to start advertising your Virtual Assistant position! There are definitely more and more of those these days!
What piece of advice would you offer authors who are just starting out?
J: Write, make sure your work is ready to be published, don’t just publish cos family and friends tell you it’s good, get professional advice. Join groups that will offer support and advice. Also most importantly when looking to publish beware of vanity publishers. The other piece of advice making sure you have your book in the right genre with the right sort of cover. Many reviewers will mark a book down if the genre is wrong. (I am not one unless its say women’s fiction, when I thought it was inspirational romance).
D: Yes. Family and Friends. God Bless 'em. The encouragement is good but they may be the only ones to buy the book if it's not really ready!
D: What advice would you like to give readers who’d like to write reviews?
J: Don’t be afraid to write a review even if it’s only a few sentences. Only review on the first three chapters of the book so you do not give away too much of the story. One other thing would be if the author has hidden gems in the story that are unexpected do not mention them in a review. They are there for the reader and it’s nice to have surprises. If you put in spoilers mention there are spoilers in the review.
D: Part of the reason I started this feature was to help encourage readers to become reviewers. Not everyone wants to blog, but with the huge number of authors 'going hybrid', there is such a need for reviewers. I'm afraid all you lovely reviewers will be so overwhelmed that you'll have to stop or cut back. It's such an important part of the fiction industry, and I'm thankful that you've been leading the way for all of these years.
check out her blog - Come Meet AusJenny
I also have a feature on my website and Pinterest board where I 'collect' all the wisdom from my book blogger guests. One or two new reviewers will visit the Inkwell each month, so stay tuned!