Let’s get right to it - please meet Charlie from The Bitsy Bling Book Review Blog.
Charlie, please tell us a little about your blog and what we can expect from you in the future?
My blog focuses mainly on book reviews, but does feature author interviews, giveaways and special book related events. I’ve been gearing up to increase my giveaways, primarily for indie or self-published authors. My giveaways also include a growing variety of ebooks. So, those who use ereaders can benefit from entering my simple contests.
Why did you start blogging? And how long has it been?
I’m an avid reader and author. I started blogging because I honestly was tired of going to bookstore after bookstore and viewing the same ten authors on the featured shelf. Unfortunately, I have little interest in the dribble most of these ‘best-sellers’ put out. I began my search for other options online and as I breezed through the ‘…witty, entertaining, intoxicating and riveting…’ one-liner reviews I saw a marketing trend that was useless in encouraging me to buy a book. I decided that I wanted a writer’s opinion about what to read. Light blub! Of course, I want to be entertained, but I realized I evaluate my reading choices based on my experience and learning from my years at the university. I don’t buy a book solely on ‘plot’ or popularity of trendy content. Some might think I’d be more critical of written works, but I’m not a literary snob. I’m well aware of my own flaws when it comes to writing and have a clear appreciation at how difficult mastering the craft can be. Instead, I look at various elements of the book. Nothing is simply good or bad, and all is subjective.
I’ve been blogging about books since September 2009.
How much time and energy do you put into your blog?
Now that I have the template, links and widgets up and running I can post easily. However, Bitsy Bling Books is actually two sites linked together (which is a lot to manage). I have connected the wordpress with the eblogger because I didn’t want to give up certain features that each offered. Now I have the best of both worlds. The time I spend varies depending on what is happening. Of course, a great deal of time is spent actually reading. I have a routine. I check in the morning to see how it is running and update posts. Then in the evening I dedicate time to browsing through all the blogs I follow, comment, and read reviews. Even though I may not visit every site, I do browse what each site has posted in a (24 hr) period. I don’t simply follow and forget. I’m truly involved in the book blogging community and love the interaction.
Do you enjoy doing memes? Which ones can be found on your blog?
I’m not a big fan of memes yet, but if I do find one that interests me I’m open to joining in. The only meme type thing that can be found on my site is the Friday blog hop. I usually post the question and answer each Friday.
How would you describe your review style and how do you handle reviews when you didn't enjoy the book?
As I mentioned above, my review style comes from a writer’s perspective. I focus on elements of writing as well as entertainment value. Typically (but not always) I break up my comments into two groups: Gems and Flaws. I approach material like I would if I was sitting in a writing workshop. What worked, what stood out, what did I like ect. Then, I think about the other side, what can be improved, what didn’t work, what questions do I have or weren’t resolved. Also, what bothered me might not be an important quality for another reader. I never say ‘this is terrible, don’t buy it.’ I try to support my viewpoint. Hopefully, each reader won’t simply take my word for it, but use my opinion as a guide to determine if the book is truly a read for them or not.
What advise would you give new book bloggers out there?
Never read other reviews before you write your own. It’s too easy to be influenced. Also, a review is not the same as a synopsis, over view of the book or recapping of the story line. It’s an opinion. Be honest, but be open-minded. Some book reviewers who rant or rip on a book only tend to embarrass themselves by exposing their lack of insight or actual knowledge about creative writing techniques and style. Nothing irks me more than a review fixated on punctuation or sentence structure. I can name numerous of famous works that divert from the conventional. To these people, I suggest giving up book reviewing and taking up an editing service.
Well, there you have it – a bitsy interview with author and blogger, Charlie Courtland! Next week, I ask some more questions focusing on Charlie's writing. And maybe we will have a giveaway . . . maybe . . .