This is one of my favorite Blogger’s interviews! Amy is a super friendly blogger with a very active blog loaded with good authentic content and… she is also a pretty good writer! unbeatable combination! 🙂
This interview was so, so long overdue! [sorry Amy!] I had interviewed Amy back in August, 2015 and then I took a second job and couldn’t blog that much for a while. So without further adieu… Please meet Amy@ a Novel Start!
I’m Amy Heaney, I’m 25 from Yorkshire in England. I’m a croupier, avid-reader, flower gardener, cross-stitcher, scrapbooker, and a big Star Trek fan!
I used to love reading as a kid but the size of a book really used to intimidate me. Now I have a kindle and it’s amazing! It’s my preferred way of reading because I no longer have that intimidation problem. If it’s available I use the text-to-speech feature, it means I can read books faster and produce more reviews!
I want to share reading experiences with you so please comment, I want to know what you think! I’m always up for a new read so please feel free to recommend a book you think I might like or that you would like reviewing.
D: Amy, What made you start blogging?
A: The very first reason I started blogging is because I wanted to document the reasons why I liked or disliked a book. I wanted a recorded copy. This way it’s easier for me to look over it and see if I want to re-read a book! With the amount of books I read, a file just wouldn’t do, so I decided on a book blog. This way, I was hoping (though not confident), that I could help others decide if it’s worth reading these books too.
D: What blogs and bloggers inspired and mentor you?
Parajunkie all the way 🙂 When I was looking into self-hosted websites, I read quite a few of her articles – amazing. It made me realise exactly what a blog could be if I set my mind to it.
Ashley from NoseGraze also inspired me a lot with her UBB plugin. Your blog doesn’t have to be plain and boring (like mine was for over two years!), you can make it really pretty AND practical. Doing this made me have more incentive to blog.
And of course, Lexxie from (un)Conventional Bookviews. Seeing what she did with the UBB and how she’s totally owned it and made it her own, just inspiring. It lead me to tinker with it quite a bit until I feel like I had something original and to be proud of. She’s helped me discover new things with the UBB and how to use them on my blog, such as wrap-up shortcodes and how to get images showing on related links. It sounds like such small things! But I found it quite confusing at the time, lol.
D: I have to say… it is amazing how productive you are as a blogger! Please share some tips with us the not so prolific bloggers. How on earth do you manage to post more than once a day? every day? how do you read so fast???
Most of the time I don’t even notice how many posts I do per week. It’s only when I look at my Sunday Post meme that I realise how many I’ve done! Here’s what I do:
- Create templates for each post. This contains the title and essential information. Save it and come back to it later.
- If it’s a review, write it as soon as it’s convenient so it’s still fresh in my head. The template is already done so I don’t need to faff about. Schedule it.
- If it’s a meme, I can do some in advance. E.g. Wishlist Wednesday I can do weeks in advance, because I know which books I REALLY want to read. Other memes, like Thursday Quotables and Book Beginnings on Friday, I need quotes from books I’ve read that week. This is where creating the post templates in advance comes in handy. I highlight the quotes in advance as I’m reading (I use a Kindle). When I’ve finished the book I just go into my “notes” on my kindle, and type them up! All done, dusted, and scheduled. It’s easy to do memes this way if you don’t have a lot of time, you can do it bit by bit and just keep saving the draft. If you can’t use drafts, you can do it in Microsoft Word of the equivalent instead.
- The articles and creative writing posts take the longest. I can’t keep coming back to them after I’ve written a little bit. I have to wait for my days off to do these and write them all in one go. What I usually do to save time is write lists of possible topics during the week (when I can). This way I just skim through it until I find one that inspires me and just blog about it! Easy!
The key to doing as many posts as me is not to do it all in one go, make the most of your drafts and schedule your posts. Seeing scheduled posts lifts a weight off my shoulders (seriously, it does), because it means I’m on top of it all. For a more in depth guide, please visit my article on Book Blogging for the Busy Person: http://www.anovelstart.com/book-blogg…
As for the question on reading so fast… I cheat. It takes me FOREVER to read a book! Probably about a month. I haven’t read a paperback book in years – they intimidate me, the size… everything! Instead, I “read” on my Kindle Fire. It has a feature called “Text-to-Speech” which I use ALL the time. It basically just reads the book to me, like an audiobook. The difference is I can actually read it at the same time. It’s extremely handy because I listen to it when I walk to work, when I’m out shopping, you name it. The time you usually waste not reading that hard copy because you can’t cross a road and read a book, I can because I listen to it instead. Whoop! It’s my favourite feature of the Kindle Fire 😛 Also, you can change the reading speed. Personal, I use the x3 speed, but that’s too fast for some people. What you do is get used to the x1 speak, bump it unto x1.5 after a while, and so on. You “read” the books faster 😉 *cough* ok ok, so I cheat!
D: You have been blogging for three years now. If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?
A: I’d get in contact with the community a lot sooner. I waited two and a half years to get in touch with the blogosphere and I regret that. I missed out on meeting some amazing people, making friends, missing opportunities (such as chatting with authors via email), memes! I missed out on memes 🙁 lol. If I could go back I’d change all that. I’d blog more regularly straight from the start instead of once a month if I was lucky. I feel like I’ve missed out by not doing all of this sooner.
D: If you could change something about the book blogging community, what would that be?
More how-to guides and explanations of simple blogging terms for beginners. This is why I started to write articles on my blog. Google just wasn’t good enough! After all, I’m a person who’s been blogging for almost three years and didn’t know what a blogroll was until you told me, I mean come on! lol. It’s just embarrassing! It’d be really handy if people had a space on their blogs that explained what a meme is, a blog tour, a blog roll, etc. etc. The list goes on. It’d make it a lot more beginner-friendly and welcoming 🙂
As for experienced bloggers, I wouldn’t change a thing. Once you know what’s what, I actually really like it.
D: You know I’m a big fan of your creative writing feature. I think you are a pretty good writer! What book would you like to write? What would be the title and a twitter size blurb?
My dream for the last ten years has to write an epic fantasy novel (trilogy) called The Days of the Phoenix.
The kingdom is in turmoil after the assassination of the king. The kingdoms last hope of peace comes in the form of a teenaged girl who, unknown to her, holds the power of the Phoenix. Can this despised girl unite the nations in time to stop the pending war?
D: If you could ask any author to write a book for you, who would that author be? and again… title and twitter size blurb?
A: I don’t know, I really don’t know! I’d like to see Nora Roberts take of my life with a contemporary magical or supernatural twist. I think we all secretly want to know how our life would look based in our favourite genre, that’s what I’d like her to write. I don’t know what the title or synopsis would be though.
D: What are you drinking in your about page picture?
A: A spritz! I have no idea what’s in it, but it tasted orangey and fruity, and was quite sweet! When we were in Venice we saw locals and tourists drinking them and caught on that it must be the local speciality, so we just called a waiter and pointed at the drink and ordered two! Needless to say the waiter chuckled. I never actually finished the drink, before I could finish it I had the most astounding headache! It’s the one and only time I touched it.
D: Who is your favorite book character and why?
A; I think Lirael from the Garth Nix series Abhorsen/The Old Kingdom. She keeps to herself, feels like an outcast among her own people. She’s a huge book worm and looses herself in the books so she can gain all kinds of useful knowledge. She even makes her own friend/pet, The Disreputable Dog. She comes into her own later on in the book and all of this puts her in good stead. She’s both shy and confident. I love her, she’s such a relatable character. If I could have a book BFF, it’d be her.
D: What makes a five-star book for you?
A: The characters have to be realistic and relatable. The storyline believable but unexpected. Great description without being over the top! I want to know how the characters think, feel. I want to know their reactions, their emotions. I want to feel their love and their pain. A five star book shares these experiences with the reader. You feel like you’re totally submerged in their world, like you’re living it. A five star book makes you yell, laugh, and cry. And above all – it never makes you want to skip pages out of boredom, only out of anticipation. It makes you gripped throughout it and you literally can’t put it down.
D: What usually makes a DNF for you?
A: Not in my vocab! I don’t do “DNF”. There are books I don’t want to finish, but I do. If I don’t finish the book I feel like I may miss some redeeming quality. The only exceptions to this are non-fiction self-help books. I’ll put the book down if I feel it’s complete and utter rubbish, that the author is making stuff up and may as well be writing what a pink elephant looks like.
D: Any new features coming up on your blog that you can share with us?
Yes, after you (Daniela) kindly explained what a blogroll was, I’m going to add one to the sidebar of my blog! I can only hope it all goes well, lol.
Recent changes include a review index, you can now search book reviews by looking under different categories (e.g. title, genre, author, series, publisher, etc).
Not too long ago I also created my own button and banner for my blog! Whoop!! I never thought I’d be able to do it – but I did!! 😀 so proud
Aside from that, nothing much. I usually just go all whimsical, get an idea and just do it lol. Obviously with the use of a lot of how-to guides (provided by Google) and a lot of patience!
D: And finally, who should I interview next and what should I ask this blogger?
Lexxie at (un)conventional Bookviews! I’d love to know how she makes her reviews look so unique. For example, the synopsis’s in her reviews are a different shade of purple, I’d love to know how she does it. Her blog is so beautiful and, for me, the ultimate 🙂 I’d really like to know her journey and how she’s managed it.
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