Kate SeRine: Congratulations on reaching this major milestone, Laura! So, tell me, what made you want to start your own book blog in the first place?
Little Red: Well, I had been thinking about it for a while, and finally decided to take the plunge after one of my favorite authors was having a giveaway, where one of the entries was talking about her upcoming release on your blog. AND I COULDN’T ENTER! *sad face* And, well, here I am a whole year later!
KS: I can see how it would be frustrating to have to pass up that kind of opportunity. I’m glad you decided to take the plunge! And, I have to say, I absolutely love the blog. As you know, I’m a little partial to the story of Little Red Riding Hood. 😉 Is there a story behind why you chose this particular theme?
LR: We are two peas in a pod J. I am actually pretty short and have red/auburn hair, so I thought it would be fun to tie that in somehow. My husband and I tossed around names for days; I probably would have started the blog a week or two earlier except I didn’t have a name for it. I wanted to call it Little Red Reading Hood, but that was taken. I am happy, because in the end I like Little Read better anyway.
KS: I love the play-on-words—very clever! So, in the beginning, you had your domain name, your theme… It was official! But there still had to be some nervousness about actually putting yourself and your opinions out there. What would you say was the most intimidating part about starting your own blog?
LR: The most intimidating thing? That’s easy – authors. You hear so many horror stories where an author “attacks” a reviewer, and pretty early on I got a nasty email from an author. But that email actually did me a big favor, and led me to a group of wonderful bloggers, and showed me the support system is massive.
KS: I’m so sorry to hear about the nasty email you received! That had to suck big-time. But I’m glad to hear that at least it led you to such a supportive network of friends! Are there particular bloggers who were your mentors and who helped show you the ropes as you were building a name for yourself?
LR: As far as bloggers who have helped me – The first and probably most influential is Christen from Goldilox and the Three Weres. She somehow stumbled across my blog, and I mean really, our blogs are like sister-blogs. She reached out to me, and invited me to several groups, one being The Terrible Girls (named after the best hero in a series ever, Stacia Kane’s Terrible in Downside Ghosts) and all the girls in there have been a major influence. But yeah, Christen is probably my “best blogging buddy” as far as that goes. But others that should be mentioned – Jen at The Book Nympho, who intimidated me for a long time, but is actually hilarious and VERY nice. Jenese at Readers Confession who not only stated blogging around the same time I did, but also happens to live in the same town I do! Kara at Great Imaginations who from the beginning has taken her time and answered ALL my questions with the patience of a saint. Good lord I just realized how long this is getting, and there are SO MANY. Pretty much everyone I’ve met has been great. I love them all.
KS: I’m definitely familiar with a few of these ladies, and I agree they’re awesome! I imagine it’s been quite an adventure during this first year as you try to learn the ins and outs of running your blog, even with such a great group of mentors! What do you think is the most surprising thing you’ve learned? Did anything come as a total shock, or did you pretty much go into it with your eyes open?
LR: I went into this with not only my eyes closed, but my ears closed, and my hands tied behind my back. Lol. I knew nothing about blogging when I started. I only knew I wanted a way to talk about books. I figured only my mom and a handful of friends would read it, and that’s how it was at first. But then authors started emailing me, ME! And asking if I would review their book. Color me shocked at that point! I didn’t know that happened. Or at least when it did I figured you had to be a big name. So yeah, I didn’t realize that authors would contact me, and that eventually several would even call me friend. That still makes me giddy. 🙂
KS: And I’m sure as more and more authors get to know you and contact you to request reviews and promo spots, things are going to get even busier for you! Most people probably don’t realize how much work goes into running a blog—especially a book blog that involves reading and reviewing numerous novels each month. Could you give folks an idea of what your schedule is like and how you juggle your blogging responsibilities and the other areas of your life?
LR: My husband would say I don’t juggle things well. 😉 I usually have 3 books going at any given time. I drive a lot for work, so audio books have become my new best friend. I’ll also have one on the kindle app for my phone, and one (usually the one I am reading for review specifically) on my actual kindle. Most books on my kindle take me 2-3 days to read, then I sit down and write reviews on the weekends. By the end of March, if I am on schedule, I should have read over 40 books for the year.
KS: I’m impressed! If I could get through even half that many books in a year, I’d be thrilled. Sadly, my TBR pile is overflowing. So, aside from getting to read so many books, what do you think has been the most gratifying part of running your blog?
LR: The most gratifying has got to be when I meet someone, either in real life or online, and when I tell them the name of my blog, they say they’ve read it and loved it! The first time that happened, I nearly fell over.
KS: That had to be a great feeling! (Well, you know—the being recognized part, not the nearly keeling over bit…) But I’m guessing it hasn’t been all sunshine and roses this year. What has been the most frustrating part of running your blog?
LR: The most frustrating is probably having to set my own schedule. I’ve never been very good at the self discipline. And you didn’t mention it, but the most terrifying is contacting authors; you guys are intimidating! And don’t even get me started on publishers, I have yet to reach out to them!!
KS: What?!? Authors? Terrifying? Okay, I’ll admit I’m a little scary before I get my first cup of coffee in the morning, so you might be onto something there. But I think most of us actually enjoy being approached by bloggers and are flattered that you think enough of our work to reach out to us. So cast those fears aside! We’re not all bad—and most of us are even pretty cool. 😉 In fact, I’m betting you’ve met some incredibly amazing authors in the past year. What has been the most interesting/exciting/mind-blowing moment for you so far?
LR: Oh gosh everyone I’ve met so far has been amazing! Though I have to say my favorite moments all took place at the Olde City New Blood con back in Feb. Jennifer L. Armentrout recognized Christen and I from a signing of hers we attended last summer; and Karina Cooper and Delilah S. Dawson both squeed and hugged us when they recognized our twitter handles. Like THEY were fans of US. And then when Jennifer Armentrout sought me out to invite me to dinner … AND THEN RODE IN MY CAR. *dies*
KS: LOL! Don’t worry—I think I would’ve been just as giddy if I’d had the chance to meet those amazingly talented authors! Speaking of fan-girl moments, if you could pick an author you’d loooooove to interview, who would it be?
LR: Oh gosh, that’s a toss up. Stacia Kane is my hero/idol/fan-girl crush and if I ever get the chance to meet her in person, I know I will make an ass of myself. And Anne Rice is who got me into the genre, and I’ve always thought her books so beautiful with sadness mixed in. I don’t think I would even have the guts to approach her. I’d probably die.
KS: Those would be some seriously awesome interviews! For those authors who haven’t quite reached Anne Rice stardom yet and are just starting to network with book bloggers, can you offer any tips on etiquette? Any pet peeves they should be aware of?
LR: Just be real, be yourself, and for crying out loud, if the blog has a review policy, it’s there for a reason – READ IT. Also understand that for many of us, this is in addition to a full time job, families, and other responsibilities, so things happen and we may not get to your book in the time frame we thought. It’s not (for me & the people I know anyway) anything against you, your book, or anything personal. Life happens.
And don’t read the negative reviews. Not everyone is going to like your book, and not everyone will be nice about it. But as a reader sometimes that is part of the fun – there are many times I read a scathing review that actually makes me want to buy the book. Remember, the review is for other readers, not you. So don’t read them. Life will be better for you J.
KS: Some very good advice! So, for those authors who’ve just dashed over to read your policy and who would like to request a review, could you give a little insight into what is guaranteed to make you fall in love with a book?
LR: A character’s realistic reaction to a given situation.
KS: Definitely important! But, as you’ve mentioned, unfortunately, you just won’t fall in love with every single book you read. So, if you could, tell everyone what will make you hurl a book across the room in frustration.
LR: Inconsistencies. I am a beta reader for several authors because I am good at catching those things. They drive me up the freaking wall.
KS: Beta readers and critique partners are invaluable for that very reason! It’s great to have a second (or third) set of eyes to look over a WIP and help identify anything that needs to be smoothed out.
Okay, now that we’ve chatted about all the weighty, serious stuff, here are a few questions just for fun! Laura, give us all some idea of what characteristics are must-haves for your ideal fictional hunk of hotness:
1) Vampire or Werewolf? Easy – vampires. Mostly immortal, strong, fierce, and blood doesn’t freak me out. Plus, I always imagine werewolves smell bad.
2) Angel or Bad-boy? Hmm, Angel I guess. They always seem so … sad. They bring out in me that horrible (in real life) instinct I think most women have to help fix what’s broken.
3) Alpha or Poet? We are talking fictional characters, right? Then definitely Alpha. There is something eternally sexy about being dominated …
4) “Fair and Fabulous” or “Dark and Mysterious”? Dark & Mysterious. I like a mystery, and am not a fan of blondes 😉
5) Big & Beefy or Secret Inner Strength? You know, there is a fine line between sexy muscle and too much muscle. So I’d have to say inner strength. Though I wouldn’t kick big & beefy out if you know what I mean 😉
KS: LOL! Yes, I know exactly what you mean! Well, I guess I’ve kept you from your TBR pile for long enough and should let you get back to it. But one last question before you go: What advice would you share with others who might be considering starting their own book blog?
LR: Be smarter than me, and don’t do it blind. Research, have a few posts written ahead of time, and make friends who can help with all the technical questions (not me, I am the person asking all those questions!)
Awesome advice! Thanks again for chatting with me and for sharing your experiences! I know you probably don’t hear it often enough, but we authors sincerely appreciate the time and effort bloggers put into reviewing our novels and helping us spread the word about our books. Congrats again on your blogoversary, and here’s to many more years of success! Happy reading!
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