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Bookish. Publisher at Louise Walters Books. Reader, writer, and editor.

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


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...