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BBAW: An interview with Melissa of Scuffed Slippers and Wormy Books

Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2012I always enjoy the interview swap portion of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, but this year’s is my favorite of all the interview swaps! So much easier to interestingly interview someone you already know and have blogged alongside for years. So, without further ado, here’s my interview of Melissa of Scuffed Slippers and Wormy Books, or @BalletBookworm, as I like to think of her:

Chaucer, front, and Dante look up to see what Melissa is doing with the camera. Photo courtesy.

You work at a bookstore? How does that impact your reading?

I’m not sure anymore. I was always a an omnivore reader — a bit of this and that. I had just finished grad school when I started working at the store so I was catching up on a lot of things I’d meant to read or re-read: classics, award-winners, etc. I’ve come back around to genres that I’d burnt out on in high school — mainly SF and romance novels — and working as a bookseller means that not only do I have a feel for what’s good/popular in a genre, I also work with other book-loving people who offer suggestions. For example, right now we’re having a buy-two-get-one-free sale on DC Comics — I’ve always meant to catch up on graphic novels so a few fellow booksellers gave me suggestions on where to start (I went with Fables, Sandman, and Watchmen — I actually read Watchmen back in junior high and it was sooo over my head that it was suggested I give it a re-read). The best part of being a bookseller, though, is getting to recommend books — that never gets old!

I love that you’re from Iowa (I lived there for 9 or 10 years growing up). Have you been there your whole life? What do you like/dislike about where you live?

I’ve lived here since I was almost 2 years old. My dad took a job at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids so we moved from Ohio (both my little brothers were born in Iowa). I went to college at the University of Iowa, just down the road in Iowa City, and since I work there, too, I’ve never really been too far from home. Which is nice — close enough to see my family often but not so close that they would ever come stay. Living in a college town means that there’s a lot of bustle for most of the year, good coffee shops, lots of different people — so like a larger city — but without all the major problems of urban areas. The UI is a major part of the City of Literature designation recently bestowed on Iowa City by UNESCO so there’s always a reading or a signing going on. It’s the best combination of quiet and busy!

I love living in a college town! I miss it, actually. How do you find time to read (and knit) and blog with all your work / the rest of life?

Sadly, the blogging has suffered a bit of late. Writing up a book is never so much fun as reading it! But I usually get about 20 minutes or so each way from the hospital job (I try to take the bus) to either knit or read (usually read since knitting seems to make the nosiest people want to talk to me, oy), I knit during conference calls, and I usually read when I get home from work. I’m a singleton — who wishes she had more of a life. Le sigh. (If I had more time I would just fill it up by reading more, of course, so I don’t know what I’m sighing about.) I’m actually a pretty fast reader if I’m just reading fiction. I can polish off a 250 page mass-market-sized novel in about two hours (less, if I’m reading on my NOOK since I don’t have to turn the pages).

That sounds pretty fast to me, yep. 🙂 Do you enjoy the same genres in movies and/or television that you are consistently drawn to in books?

Dudes, if it’s an adaptation of a nineteenth-century British novel I am so down for watching that (double points if it’s a BBC miniseries): North and South, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wives and Daughters, and on and on and on! I collect Criterion Collection DVDs — current favorites are M, Topsy-Turvy, and The Third Man — and try to see indie films when they hit the Bijou. Rom-coms like You’ve Got Mail and The Holiday are always favorites. [So let’s see … that’s classics, literary fiction, and romance novels (regencies, contemporaries just don’t it for me) …] James Bond movies are some of my favorite action films but the books aren’t favorites of mine (I’ve read them all, and I think they’re fine, but I have an abiding fondness for Sean Connery and Daniel Craig). Criminal Minds is still one of my favorite TV shows (along with the cancelled Numb3rs) but thrillers have never been a big draw for me in books.

Ooh, I really liked Numb3rs, too. What’s the best book you’ve read this year, and why?

Oh, no! It would almost be easier to tell you which ones I didn’t like (seriously, do not read The Husband Hunt by Lynsay Sands — such a disappointment)! [Cheating and looking at my Goodreads stats page for help …] The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King (the first in the Mary Russell series) is one of the best mysteries I’ve read in a long time — very intricate, a mystery for inquisitive people. Devil’s Cub is one of Georgette Heyer’s best works (although it’s best to read These Old Shades first for storyline) — champagne bubbles with solid historical research underneath. The knitter in me has to recommend Clara Parkes’s The Knitter’s Book of Socks because it dovetailed so well with her previous books and provided even more sock patterns to peruse. And since I fell headlong back into Regency romance this year I discovered the wonderful Eloisa James — so many things are woven in with her plots (chess masters for the six Duchesses, Jacobean and Shakespearean drama for the Essex sisters, and her new Fairy Tales series is wonderfully inventive) that I have to recommend them for anyone looking into the genre.

Ha, I totally had to look at my books-read list to answer that question, too. Totally not cheating. I’ve been meaning to read the Mary Russell series for ages! Glad you liked it. And I’ve been drooling over that Clara Parkes book, also. How long have you been blogging, and what’s been your most meaningful blogging experience?

I started SSWB almost exactly six years ago but didn’t really do much with it. I was all over the map — a book review here, a movie/DVD review there, some random news tidbit, then a post whining about life in general. I became more serious about “the Blog” in 2009 — I got pitched my first ever book (The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club) that spring and joined the time-suck-that-is-Twitter — and found a whole community of like-minded readers, bloggers, and generally enthusiastic book people. I probably overdid it that year (oh, the memes, too many memes) but I really found things that resonated with me like BBAW, Dewey’s Readathon, and writing about Banned Books Week. A much-appreciated personal experience came through reading Havi Carel’s book Illness (review) — it was the first book I’d ever requested and reading/reviewing that slim volume led to a very nice email conversation with the author. However, all this blogging and thinking and finding new books to read finally unlocked the place in my brain that used to write — I finally wrote a book! It’s nowhere near done/readable — I’m still working on a seventh draft and trying to iron out a major plot SNAFU — but it’s finally out of my head for the first time since high school.

That’s awesome about getting a book written, Melissa! So excellent. Thanks for being my interview swap partner, it was fun!

And be sure to check out Melissa’s blog for her interview with me — including a photo with me and the not-so-little one.

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Interview with Louisa of Words I Write Crazy

I’m pleased today to welcome Louisa of Words I Write Crazy to Word Lily! She’s pretty new to the blogging scene (and she lives in Canada).

Word Lily: What’s the best book you’ve read so far in 2011?

Winky, with Dobby in the lower right corner

Louisa: The best book I’ve read this year is Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon, just loved to see Nick (the MC) as a kid. Plus it had SK’s regular humour. 🙂

Word Lily: Which of your blog posts are you most proud of, and why?

Louisa: The blog posts I’m most proud of are my author interviews, because I want to show off these authors, and so that I can say when they get published, “Hey, I interviewed this author back when…” and that’d be a nice feeling to feel. 🙂

Word Lily: You write, and I’m not talking about blogging. What are you working on now?

Louisa: Right now, I have 30 Word docs open. Of them, 24 are the WIPs I’m writing at the moment, and of those 24 are short stories, and one of those is done, and I just have to spell check it, like “Since who didn’t like being the big bad man that they coudln almost, soorparte guy, who would do things that people didn’t want beenot think about ,adn that woudl be the boobyg many of money? The one that people wcould warn their chilgren about?” Yeah, there are a lot of spelling mistakes. But I wrote it in 10 min, so that’s ok 🙂 But the main book is May’s book, Killer Road Trip, which is about this girl who gets kidnapped, and these 3 guys take her on a road trip across the country, commiting crimes, until she gets bored, and then she starts to kill them off one by one 🙂 yep 🙂 she’s evil, and I love it!

Word Lily: What are a few of your favorite blogs to read (bookish or not)?

Louisa: The Story Siren, of course, but since I’ve only been blogging for about 2 weeks, I really only have 1 that I check every day, and that’s my friends’ The Magick Pen.

Word Lily: I see you watch several crime-solving television shows (Bones, NCIS, CSI …) (me too). What, do you think, is the draw of this type of show for you?

Louisa: I dunno. I like how they solve crimes — I really love mysteries. I don’t know why. I just do 🙂

Word Lily: Hey, I have a dog, too! Tell me about yours.

Louisa: I actually have 2 dogs — Dobby and Winky! They are 3 year old Boston terrier beagle crossbreeds, and they are named after the Harry Potter house elves because my dad is a weirdo and liked the name Dobby. They love giving “kisses” AKA licks, they have no respect for personal privacy, they love to beg, they are very warm when they sleep like space heaters, and their paws smell nice when they sleep. Yep 🙂 I love my doggies!!!

Word Lily: You have very vibrant colors in your blog background. What makes those the right choice for you and your blog?

Louisa: I just kinda picked a skin that they had up in the choices, since I would mess anything else up, and I just liked all the colours — they are so colourful, and I like them 🙂 yep. 🙂

Word Lily: Thanks so much, Louisa, for taking the time to drop by Word Lily, even if we were a late getting this put together. 🙂 Have YOU checked out her blog yet?

ETA: You can also read the interview Joy of Edgy Inspirational Romance did with me!

BBAW interview swap: Rachel from Under a Star-Studded Sky

This is, I think, my favorite part of Book Blogger Appreciation Week: The book blogger interview swap! This year I’m pleased to interview Rachel Star from Under a Star Studded Sky (@UnderAStarSS). She’s a teenager from England, and she blogs mostly about young adult (YA) books.

Word Lily: Under a Star Studded Sky is actually your second blog. Tell us about your first blog and why you decided to ditch it and start afresh.

Rachel Star: Well, I discovered book blogging in June ’09 and I started my own blog pretty much straight away. I didn’t really know what I was doing, and I didn’t do it very well! I then moved house in October ’09 and I lost my internet, and then I was very distracted by other events that were happening in my life at the time, and I felt that it wasn’t fair to just leave it, so I closed it down. Then, in January ’10, I started Under A Star Studded Sky, with a three month break between March and June, where I focused on my GCSE exams, and I feel as though I know so much more about what I’m doing now, although of course, I’m not claiming to be an expert!

Word Lily: What’s the origin / meaning of your blog name, Under a Star Studded Sky?

Rachel Star: I love the sky. I think it’s beautiful, especially at night, when the stars are out, and I find it fascinating; astrophysics/cosmology is something that I find incredibly interesting. And right now, I’m sitting at the window, Under A Star Studded Sky.

Word Lily: I love that! You just moved and were away from the internet for a couple weeks. What did you miss most?

Rachel Star: OK, this is going to sound awful, and teenagerish, but Facebook and Msn. I wasn’t at college, and I didn’t have a phone signal and I couldn’t chat to people, or arrange to meet up with them, which made me feel very isolated, to be honest. It’s kind of scary how much I depend on it, and it’s made me much more grateful for it!

Word Lily: What do you do when you’re not reading/blogging?

Rachel Star: Books are a pretty big part of my life, but the other stuff that helps keep me busy includes climbing, studying, volunteering and acting, as well as the occasional bit of cooking and looking after my newly acquired bonsai tree (I’ve named it Beryl. It was house-warming gift).

Word Lily: Why did you start blogging? What keeps you blogging?

Rachel Star: Well, I happened to chance across a book blog, and I thought, this person is like me; they read. A lot. And then I found loads, this massive linked up community of people all reading, and it just seemed the sort of thing that I’d love to be part of. And I was right; I love it.

Word Lily: That’s awesome. Tell us about a bookish pet peeve.

Rachel Star: SEQUELS THAT AREN’T CLEARLY MARKED AS SUCH. Gosh, that really, really annoys me.

Word Lily: Oh, ugh. Me too. Turning your hardest question back to you: What’s the first book you can remember reading, or having read to you?

Rachel Star: Agreed, that’s a pretty hard question! I guess the first book I can remember being able to read on my own would be a book called The Giant Jam Sandwich. It might not have been the first, but it’s the one I remember the most. It was awesome, about this town that was plagued by wasps, so created an enormous jam sandwich to trap them.

Word Lily: Describe your perfect/ideal book (genre, length, characters, setting, etc.).

Rachel Star: About 500 pages, completely gripping plot, not too many characters and beautiful writing style, would be the ingredients for my ideal book, I think. But so often I am surprised and pleased by books that I read for review purposes, ones that are perhaps different to what I might normally read, that I don’t really have any definitive “recipe” for an amazing book.

Word Lily: Thanks so much, Rachel, for being my BBAW interview swap partner! I’ve enjoyed getting to know you a little.

To see Rachel’s interview of me, visit her blog: http://underastarstuddedsky.blogspot.com.

BBAW interview swap: Meet Nora St.Laurent

BBAW09_Celebrate_BooksAs part of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I interviewed fellow blogger Nora St.Laurent and she interviewed me.

Nora, of Finding Hope Through Fiction and Beyond, has been running two book clubs for the Christian bookstore she works at for nearly 3 years. She also helps run the ACFW online book club. She enjoys writing a book club column for the Christian Fiction online Magazine. Everyone other month she interviews book club leaders. She writes book reviews that regularly appear on Novel Reviews. “I’m all about book clubs — as if you couldn’t tell,” she said.

bbaw_interview_swap

Without further ado, here’s my interview with Nora:

1. How did you get started with book blogging, Nora? Why do you blog?

I originally started a blog so that I could share pictures from several author visits that we had at book club. I thought a blog would be a great way to share them, and the ladies could comment on the photos, etc. Soon after starting my blog I discovered two book alliances. My blogging changed dramatically after joining these groups. I was exposed to a wide variety of books and authors. What a great tool for the book club selection process.

This year I started doing author interviews. I interview the authors in a book club style. The authors and my readers have had fun with the interviews I’ve done. Once the interview is complete I enjoy telling everyone about it being on my blog. I tell my friends on Facebook, Twitter, book club loop, and anyone else that will listen. Ha!

2. Has your taste in books changed since you started your blog? Do you read more genres than you did previously or do you specialize more?

I have to be honest with you I wasn’t a huge reader before starting book clubs and belonging to these book alliances. I’ve been on a very interesting quest to discover books and the authors that write them. I mostly read to find books that would make good book club selections. I’m checking out books that are fun, interesting, powerful and have something in them to discuss.

The book clubs I run read a variety of authors and book genres. My ladies have joined book club to broaden their horizons. They agree with me that variety is the spice of life. I also do not read sequels in my clubs. I have introduced the ladies to a series but we don’t take up book club time to read every single book in that series.

3. What’s your favorite thing about blogging? Do you have a least favorite thing about it?

I’ve enjoyed doing author interviews the most. It’s been fascinating to get to know the authors behind their books. What I enjoy the least are reading books under a deadline. I find it difficult to hurry up and read a book so I can review it and then post my review with the author blog tour. I like it when I have lots of time to read and review the book. This way I can enjoy the book and not rush through it.

4. What are the best books you’ve read so far this year?

I have a few books that have really touched my heart deeply this year:
Never the Bride by Cheryl McKay and Rene Gutteridge (fun and funny)
June Bug by Chris Fabry (powerful story of a father’s love for a child)
If Tomorrow Never Comes by Marlo Schalesky (one couple’s struggle with infertility)
Vanish by Tom Pawlik (a very different story, powerful and moving story)
Rose House by Tina Ann Forkner (a cozy mystery, filled with love, forgiveness and adventure).

I’ve read some of those books! 5. How do you feel about series books? Are you more or less likely to pick up a book that is part of a series?

I feel overwhelmed sometimes to sign up to read a series of books. I am deterred about reading the first book in a long series, for sure. Three books in a series is doable for me; anything longer than that I just won’t read. I’m less likely to pick up a book that is part of a series. I don’t want to be committed to something that long and/or buy that many books.

6. Where do you get most of your book recommendations? How important are reviews to you when you choose your reading material?

I belong to two book alliances and I work at a book store. Both alliances have the author’s first chapter included in the blog tour. I keep my eyes and ears open at work. When I see a book flying off the shelf or being frequently requested I pay attention and check it out. I really don’t take the time to read reviews often.

7. Do your family and friends know about your blog? What do they think of it?

Yes, my family and friends have checked out my blog. They even leave comments on my blog, especially when I have book giveaways. Ha! Ha!

8. If you had a $1,000 gift card to your favorite book store and only half an hour to spend it, which section of the store would you head to first?

Where I start in the store would be determine by what time of year I got the gift certificate. If it was right after Christmas, the first place I would go would be the children’s Christmas picture book section because they would be on sale. I love to read these books to my kids every year. After that I would go to the DVD section and then finally the cook book section. The books I read normally I can get at the library or borrow.

9. Do you prefer to read one book at a time or are you a multiple book reader?

I’m dyslexic so for me reading one book is absolutely essential for remembering what is inside. I can only enjoy and remember one book at a time. Not kidding! Ha! Ha!

10. Do you have any reading rituals (taking notes, favorite reading spot, etc.)?

I write book reviews and pre-read for the book clubs that I run. So I mark up my books in pencil so I can remember what parts to share with my ladies. I also mark parts that will help me with the book reviews that I write.

Thanks so much for swapping interviews with me, Nora! (You can check out my answers to Nora’s questions on her blog, http://www.psalm516.blogspot.com.)