About Me

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I read, write, craft and home educate. My debut novel Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase was published in 2014. My second novel, A Life Between Us, was published in 2017. I live in Northamptonshire. My website can be found at louisewaltersbooks.co.uk

Friday, 21 April 2017

From The Other Side: Book Blogger Anne Williams

Welcome to the fourth in my series From The Other Side, in which I turn the tables and interview book bloggers on my author's blog. I'm really enjoying hearing from the bloggers and finding out more about them. One thing that's struck me so far is the time and commitment it takes to be a serious book blogger. So much reading... and then the writing and organising of reviews and blog posts. It's quite mind-boggling! 

This week it's a great pleasure to be chatting to the one and only Anne Williams, whose blog Being Anne is pretty famous in the publishing world, and for good reason. I know I was thrilled when Being Anne recently featured my book! 

OK, no further introductions necessary...let's have our minds boggled by Anne...

All book bloggers are surely book lovers. How and when did your love of reading begin?
I can remember starting primary school and wondering why the other children found it all so difficult. My mum introduced me to books at a very young age, and from that point on I was always the one found in the corner at parties, nose in a book, oblivious of everything. My love did falter a bit - taking a degree in English Literature (had to be, really!) nearly killed it forever, and there were years when I was working that it was easier to collapse in front of the TV. Thank goodness, I got over that!


Anne


When did you start your blog?
Just over four years ago, but at first only in a small way, to capture my thoughts on the books I read - it’s only taken over my life since I retired…!

Is there a particular genre you enjoy reading and reviewing?
I’m never sure how to define what I enjoy. Probably “women’s literature” sums it up best. I’ve developed a bit of an instinct in choosing books that I know I’ll enjoy, and when I agree to review I’ve usually spotted something that makes me think the book has “me” written on it. Above all, I like a book that makes me feel something - engaging my heart is the best guarantee for an enthusiastic review.

Do you have a “day job” (work, children, and/or caring responsibilities) - and if so, how do you fit in all your reading, reviewing and blogging?
I don’t work any more - I took early retirement just over three years ago, and never regretted it for an instant. Family issues have been something of a feature over the last couple of years - more difficult because I was in Yorkshire, the family in North Wales - and I have had to take occasional breaks. Now my 91 year old mum is living near me, things are very much easier. I spend a few hours a day putting the blog together, writing interview questions and reviews, dealing with emails, catching up with social media - and the reading fits into my every spare moment.

If I don’t like a book, I usually don’t review it on Goodreads, Amazon, Netgalley or on my blog. For me, that’s the kindest thing to do. As a writer, I know how disheartening negative reviews can be. I also appreciate not every reader enjoys every book. How do you stand on this issue?
I never review a book I haven’t enjoyed - my reviews are my personal reaction, and I only want to share the positive. I sometimes think - in my self-critical moments - that  people must think I love everything I read. I choose well most of the time, but if my negative feelings outweigh the positive, the book will quietly disappear. While I haven’t enjoyed a book, others might love it - I’ll leave the reviewing to them.

Have you ever had a negative response from an author after reviewing their work, and if so, how did you handle it? (No names needed!)
I don’t think I ever have. If I’ve included criticism amid the positive - something about the book that maybe didn’t work as well for me - people have always reacted well, and we’ve sometimes discussed it further (in a friendly, supportive way!).

If you are a member of the Amazon Vine programme, can you tell us a bit about that? Is it a big commitment? Do you have certain obligations to fulfill as a Vine member? 
I am an Amazon Vine reviewer, but very rarely review books through the programme - I prefer to stick with other things, and the stringent timescales for book reviews don’t really work for me. If you exceed the deadline, it blocks your list - nothing else to review - until you do it. And I really dislike the culture of “book bashing” that seems to have evolved within the group. I’d rather stick with my stationery and household equipment…

How do you feel about indie authors? Do you consider self-published books?
I choose to read and feature indie and self-published authors above any others. I’ve discovered some absolute gems that way, and made some lovely friends. Let’s face it, those big blockbusters are going to sell whatever I choose to say about them - but if I can help a small indie publisher or a self-published little star sell a few more books by reviewing or running a feature, I think that’s far better use of my time. I just wish I could support everyone who asks, but I do need to sleep occasionally.

On the other hand, how do you feel about those over-hyped books from the Big 5 publishers?!
I do review and join blog tours for the Big 5 - and I’m lucky enough that they ask me to do so.  There are good and not-so-good books from big publishers and indies/self-published alike - I review the ones I enjoy. And I do rather prefer reviewing books that everyone else might not have read and enjoyed yet - hype and over-exposure does put me off a little.

There has recently been some negative stuff on social media about book bloggers. I know how this feels, as I am self-publishing my second novel, and lord knows how indie authors get looked down upon in some quarters! So - how do you respond to that negativity?
I haven’t really engaged with it, but it made me both sad and angry. It’s so insulting when it’s said that book bloggers aren’t “real readers” - I certainly am, and so are all my blogging friends. If I promote books without reading, I do so because I know I would enjoy them, and because I want to bring them to people’s attention. I do it for love, and have never made a penny from my blog - I work very hard for no financial return, as do all bloggers, and when misguided people imply we have some other agenda, it hurts.

Have you made “real life” friends as a result of your book blog?
So many! Nothing gives me more pleasure than getting together with blogging and author friends - and I’m really lucky to be invited to so many launches and get togethers to meet up with friends old and new. The only little problem is that most meet-ups are in London, and I live in Yorkshire - but I do get to as many as I can (and I’m very grateful for my Senior Rail Card!). 

Tell us about the art of writing a review. How do you avoid spoilers but manage to convey the sense or feel of a book? I find it difficult, so any tips will be gratefully received! I’ve seen some fantastic reviews, which I suspect were pretty tricky to write…
Goodness, I can’t give advice on reviewing - and when I read “how to” articles, I think I probably do it all wrong. But - other than the cardinal sin of spoilers - there really is no right or wrong. I rarely repeat much of the story, only a flavour - and always focus on the impression the book made on me. Did it move me, make me cry/laugh/angry/happy? Did the dialogue work well? How about the characters? The setting - did it come to life? Did I look forward to picking it up? What feelings did it leave me with? I don’t know about you, but I’d always prefer to read a review where a reader clearly loved every moment of their experience (those are the books I buy) than those where I’m told the story.

Big question: Have you ever been tempted to write, or have you written, a novel (or any kind of book) yourself?
When I retired, I had great plans. I’ve always been comfortable in the world of words, I signed up for an OU writing course, and a couple of writing groups, looked at the RNA New Writers’ scheme, and really wanted to make a serious attempt - until life and those family problems made me take my eye off the ball. At the moment, I’m happy to be blogging - but never say never…

Quick fire: E-reader or print?
Ebooks (almost) all the way. I still love the smell, feel and look of print books, but have started to struggle with reading them, mainly because of my age and deteriorating eyesight - the back-light of my Kindle Paperwhite and the ability to increase print size makes life so much easier. And my handbag and holiday suitcases are far lighter…

Finally, what are you reading at the moment?
I’m just finishing (and thoroughly enjoying) The American Girl by Rachael English - then I’ll be starting The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull (and really looking forward to it!).








Anne blogs at Being Anne

Anne tweets @Williams13Anne

Many thanks to Anne. It's been lovely, and enlightening, to hear from her. My mind is truly "bloggled"!!

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On Thursday 4th May I'll be talking to The Wild Air author herself, Rebecca Mascull! 



Thursday, 13 April 2017

From the Other Side: Book Blogger Nicola Smith

Welcome to the third in my series "From the Other Side" in which I interview book bloggers here on my author blog. This week I'm delighted to hear from Nicola Smith, AKA Short Book and Scribes. (Great title!) Nicola is quite new to book blogging, but she is racking up a lot of reviews, and a reputation to go with them. Here she is...

All book bloggers are surely book lovers. How and when did your love of reading begin?
I can't remember a time when I didn't read and love books. I could read before I went to school and just couldn't leave them alone from then on. I started off with Topsy and Tim, I think. My mum used to read to me and later on I started reading aloud to her too. I remember reading The Wizard of Oz to her. Even as a child I clearly remember having a mini TBR pile at the side of my bed. It's grown considerably over the years!


Nicola... and a book!


When did you start your blog?
Very recently, at the end of October 2016. I can't imagine not having it now though as I love it.

Is there a particular genre you enjoy reading and reviewing?
I love contemporary/literary/women's fiction, crime and psychological thrillers, time slip and time travel. I can't resist books about books, or stories set in Scotland or Italy.

Do you have a “day job” (work, children, and/or caring responsibilities) - and if so, how do you fit in all your reading, reviewing and blogging?
I have a three year old son called Daniel who is just wonderful. After I had him I went back to work part time and so I work 10 hours a week as a church administrator (that's not my proper job title but it's easier to explain it if I say I'm an administrator). I work half of it at the church and half at home. In a way it's easier to fit in bits of reviewing and blogging during the day in fits and starts than it is to find time to read, which I tend to do mostly in bed. I need quiet to read and I don't get much of that!

If I don’t like a book, I usually don’t review it on Goodreads, Amazon, Netgalley or on my blog. For me, that’s the kindest thing to do. As a writer, I know how disheartening negative reviews can be. I also appreciate not every reader enjoys every book. How do you stand on this issue?
Reviews are subjective and one of my biggest bugbears is when people say things like "this book was rubbish" in their reviews. It can have an immediate effect on the person reading the review and put them off something they might actually like. I always like to try and stress that it's my opinion but that just because it wasn't for me doesn't mean that others wouldn't like it. Chances are that if I don't like a book then I haven't finished it and therefore I wouldn't review it (unless I absolutely have to that is. For instance, when reviewing for Amazon Vine you have no option not to review, whether or not you liked the book). If it's one of those books I thought was just OK, I always try and say something positive - I don't want to hurt an author's feelings!

Have you ever had a negative response from an author after reviewing their work, and if so, how did you handle it? (No names needed!)
No, not yet!

How do you feel about indie authors? Do you consider self-published books?
Of course. I wouldn't have read your lovely book otherwise! {Thanks!} I think more and more writers are choosing the less conventional publishing route and so to dismiss all of them would be unfair. I consider each book on the same criteria, i.e. is it something I would like to read?

On the other hand, how do you feel about those over-hyped books from the Big 5 publishers?!
I love them. I must admit I'm a bit of a sucker for a bit of hype.

There has recently been some negative stuff on social media about book bloggers. I know how this feels, as I am self-publishing my second novel, and lord knows how indie authors get looked down upon in some quarters! So - how do you respond to that negativity?
I'm not really bothered about it. Some people genuinely don't understand what a blog is and some people just don't want to read it - that's fine, I'll just keep plodding on.

Have you made “real life” friends as a result of your book blog?
I haven't met anybody in real life but the blogger community has been so welcoming so I have some great virtual friends now.

Tell us about the art of writing a review. How do you avoid spoilers but manage to convey the sense or feel of a book? I find it difficult, so any tips will be gratefully received! I’ve seen some fantastic reviews, which I suspect were pretty tricky to write…
Well, I'm no expert! I think people reading reviews want to know how the book made the reviewer feel so I try and say something about that. I think the biggest difficulty is trying to avoid saying the same sorts of things in each review. Everybody has their own style and it's very easy to end up using the same words and thoughts over and over again. The challenge is to find new ways to say what you feel.

Big question: Have you ever been tempted to write, or have you written, a novel (or any kind of book) yourself?
I seem to remember thinking I would have a go many years ago, but what I wrote was utter rubbish. I've never been tempted since. It's strange - although I have a vivid imagination I'm no good at dreaming up scenarios for a book.

Quick fire: E-reader or print?
E-reader because it's so much more convenient and you can store thousands of books on it. Win-win!

Finally, what are you reading at the moment?
I'm just about to start Death of a Cuckoo by Wendy Percival.




Nicola blogs at Short Book and Scribes

She tweets @ShortBookScribe

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Big thanks to Nicola for chatting to me today. I'm really enjoying discovering more about how book blogging works. I'm awed by the amount of reading bloggers get through, and the time and effort they put into their reviews. 

Next time, join me as I chat to blogger Anne Williams of "Being Anne" fame...


Tuesday, 4 April 2017

From The Other Side: Book Blogger Linda Hill

Welcome to the second of my "From the Other Side" interviews, in which I chat to book bloggers on my author blog. My guest today is the lovely Linda Hill. I've been following Linda on Twitter for some time: I've noticed she reads a lot of books and writes a lot of reviews on her award winning blog! I was keen to find out what makes Linda tick, and it was fascinating to find out. Here she is...

All book bloggers are surely book lovers. How and when did your love of reading begin?

I was actually a bit of a late starter as I have terrible sight but it wasn't picked up until I was 7. I got glasses at 8 and a whole new world was opened up to me when I realised the smudges on the page were actually words and could take me on all kinds of adventures. I also have a sister who is almost 9 years older than me so she used to read to me, making me lazy!


Linda 

When did you start your blog?

I began on 7th February 2015.

Is there a particular genre you enjoy reading and reviewing?

I find this a tricky question to answer as I have quite eclectic tastes and enjoy all kinds of books. It's probably easier to say what I don't like and I'm definitely less keen on horror, dystopian fiction and sci-fi. If pushed I'd have to say literary fiction is my favourite, but I like historical fiction, women's fiction, crime, chick-lit and I love a psychological thriller.

Do you have a “day job” (work, children, and/or caring responsibilities) - and if so, how do you fit in all your reading, reviewing and blogging?

No! I am 'self-retired' which means I simply decided not to work any more so I can do what I like and this means spending around 4 hours a day blogging! In fact, I spend so much time organising blog posts that I'm actually reading less so I'm going AWOL this April to catch up a bit and just read and review. I also garden, write a little bit, drink a lot of tea, eat chocolate and love travelling.

If I don’t like a book, I usually don’t review it on Goodreads, Amazon, Netgalley or on my blog. For me, that’s the kindest thing to do. As a writer, I know how disheartening negative reviews can be. I also appreciate not every reader enjoys every book. How do you stand on this issue?

If I don't like a book, or it won't be 3 stars or more on the different sites, I don't post on Goodreads, Amazon and so on. I do blog about it, but I always try to be polite and constructive because no writer sets out to write a bad book and what may not appeal to me might be the perfect read for others. That's why I also try to say who the book would appeal to even if I'm not keen. That said, when I've had books that I think are truly dreadful and badly written I just don't post a review on the blog either because I probably won't have finished it and I never review a book I haven't actually read. 

Have you ever had a negative response from an author after reviewing their work, and if so, how did you handle it? (No names needed!)

Fortunately not! (I expect I'll get one tomorrow now!)

How do you feel about indie authors? Do you consider self-published books?

Always. I actually feel pretty guilty as I have a huge pile of indie books awaiting review and I can't get through them quickly enough. I would say that often I've read an indie book and can't see why it hasn't attracted a conventional publisher too. There's some wonderful writing out there. The odd one isn't as good but that's true of big names in writing and publishing too!

On the other hand, how do you feel about those over-hyped books from the Big 5 publishers?!

It depends. I have a couple on my TBR (not mentioning names) that I simply can't get into no matter how hard I try. I understand how books need the hype, but I always like to make up my own mind. There are some like Girl on the Train I haven't even bought, let alone read. At other times I've read what I thought was an over-hyped book and have been absolutely blown away by it.

There has recently been some negative stuff on social media about book bloggers. I know how this feels, as I have self-published my second novel, and we all know how indie authors get looked down upon in some quarters! So - how do you respond to that negativity?

I ignore it! Bloggers do a brilliant, unpaid, job and try to support one another and authors of all kinds. I've made some fabulous real and 'virtual' friends as a result of blogging and there will always be those in any sphere of life who are negative or jealous and try to put others down. I actually feel a bit sorry for them. It must be awful to spend your life being nasty about other people. How sad.

Have you made “real life” friends as a result of your book blog?

Oh - yes! I have made friends with both bloggers and authors, some of whom have been to my home and others I meet on a regular basis at different events.

Tell us about the art of writing a review. How do you avoid spoilers but manage to convey the sense or feel of a book? I find it difficult, so any tips will be gratefully received! I’ve seen some fantastic reviews, which I suspect were pretty tricky to write…

I'm not sure I'm qualified to give advice here! I only give a couple of sentences to set the scene of the book at the beginning and then don't reveal anything else about the plot. I'm one of those who hates spoilers of any kind and I even slide post-it notes onto the final paragraphs of books so that I can't inadvertently see the last few lines. When I write a review I concentrate on the quality of language, character, theme and setting and I always try to convey how a book made me feel. Reading is a really personal experience for me.

Big question: Have you ever been tempted to write, or have you written, a novel (or any kind of book) yourself?

I am part way through my first novel. I intended writing it during NaNoWriMo in 2015 but my husband was diagnosed with cancer on 6th November and that rather distracted me. So, I thought I'd crack on during NaNoWriMo 2016, but my father was dying and passed away on 9th November so I didn't have the emotional energy. Maybe NaNoWriMo 2017 will be my year. I have it all planned and 26000 words written but I doubt I'll ever show it to anyone. {26,000 words is a terrific start. Good luck with this Linda, how exciting!}

Quick fire: E-reader or print?

Yes to both! But print really!

Finally, what are you reading at the moment? 

I'm just starting Dawn O'Porter's The Cows but have only read 10 pages so far.




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Linda blogs at Linda's Book Bag, and she tweets @Lindahill50Hill


Many thanks to Linda for this fantastic interview. I don't know about you, but I'm curious about that novel she is writing...!


Join me again soon for another "From the Other Side" interview. I'll be chatting to Nicola Smith, AKA "Short Book and Scribes".