First Year of Writing Reviews
As my blog turns one year old, I thought I would write about how it all began and I have included photos of the books I have reviewed below.
I was at the Edinburgh Book Festival sitting having coffee with author Wendy H. Jones when someone approached us. I figured the mysterious person and Wendy knew each other. It turned out she did and was introduced to me as being Kelly Lacey and she wrote a book blog. I vaguely knew what a blog was, it just wasn’t something that was totally on my radar. Kelly joined us for coffee. I was then asked if I reviewed books, if I wrote a blog and if I was on Twitter. My answer to all of these questions was a firm no. I then found myself being persuaded by both Kelly and Wendy. Kelly informed me how it was fun and all easy to set-up and there was Wendy telling Kelly how I support authors and would be good at reviews. Kelly then gave me her card with all her details, just in case I said yes, with instructions to contact her if I decided to set-up a blog.
I later went home, not feeling entirely sure whether a blog really was for me or not. I put the card somewhere safe, not sure whether I would actually need it or not. Night after night I thought about it. A few days later I had decided it would do no harm to do some research into blogs and on how to set one up, since I had no idea how to. I give Kelly and Wendy credit for getting me into blogging and to Kelly for giving me a couple of pieces of instruction when I needed. I also give another friend of mine credit for looking over it for me in the early days too at the design that you see in my reviews. Nicely she was complimentary and assisted in the gallery of photos. Although being a friend, I will say she is very honest in her opinions and friendship doesn’t come into it. As for the rest, I taught myself how to blog and review and very quickly I seemed to discover that I had a style. I also taught myself about the world of Twitter and how to set up a page on Facebook and decided on a name for my blog and for my Twitter account, which I played around with, with another creative friend until I was happy with how it sounded. I remembered I had made my mother a cross-stitched bookmark and decided that should be the profile picture to go with the Bookmarks and Stages name.
I started blogging essentially at Bloody Scotland. I wrote two reviews to try it out. I then went to the Morecambe and Vice Book Festival after conversing with Poirot and Sharpe actor Hugh Fraser, who was promoting his latest Rina Walker book – Stealth. So, I essentially went there to meet him and figured I might as well try and make myself useful, since it wasn’t until near the end of the second day I was going to meet him, so I started to take notes on the panels I saw at the festival. Once home again, I started to write it all up, first with an overview and then the individual panels. I remember also being really nervous that no one would read my blog. I needn’t of worried about that. Between the time of Bloody Scotland and Morecambe I started to introduce myself to some bloggers and they started to converse and to follow me. After Morecambe and Vice, the organisers started to follow and retweet on Twitter and I started to gain some author followers too, who still follow to this day. I am always so grateful to those who take the time to read what I write, often from a small room. Well, only need room for books, a laptop and tea or coffee.
I started to see more and more about Blog Tours and after asking a few folk what one was, I started to join them as organisers started to get to know my work and accept me. I now answer that question for other people starting out.
A group called Write Reads took a look at my blog and I joined up. What they do is feature blogs and decide on what and who makes it to blog or review of the day, which does wonders for blogs and for spreading the word about great books, essays etc. I have been featured as review of the day a few times and each time I am still amazed, mind you, it still makes me smile a lot when I discover I have new followers and/or nice comments to read about my work. I’ve had some of the most wonderful compliments from readers and authors about what I write. I am told that my reviews are well-thoughtout, thorough, understanding and thorough amongst other nice comments. One author said he was honoured to be reviewed by me too. I never take anything or anyone for granted though and I always hope the authors do well, after all, I only promote their work, but they’ve done all the work in creating a book, whether it is fiction or non-fiction.
No process is completely in isolation. An author may write alone to begin with, but then there’s the contact with their agent, publisher, editor, the publicity etc. Writing a blog isn’t completely in isolation either. If it is being invited to join a blog tour, there’s a bit of contact with the blog tour organiser and the author at different times and sometimes the publisher too. Sometimes I have had authors approach me to ask if I can review their book. Sometimes if I see a book I like the sounds of, I contact the author and ask if the person would like me to review their book. It’s about getting their book out there with and honest review. When they retweet, it can sometimes also nicely lead to adding followers, often, very nicely from the author and publisher too, so everyone concerned can benefit. There’s also other fellow bloggers who decide to follow too. I can’t say for other bloggers, but I certainly look to see what those I have had contact with are also doing in their blogging or writing careers and comment at times. It’s quite an extraordinary world really and not one I ever thought I would be part of at any point of my life and now that I am, I get such pleasure from what I am doing. So far the feedback has been positive from both fellow bloggers and authors alike, so I am happy to see where the next year in blogging takes me. It always feels like a priviedge to be able to review for authors. It is also always a pleasure to see people from all different parts of the UK and the world reading my reviews.
Thank you to all who give me such wonderful opportunities to review and who send me wonderful gifts of books to review from to those who share my reviews on their pages/social media and to those who read my reviews.
Adult Fiction Books
Children and YA
Extracts and Cover Reveals:
Theatre Shows and Festivals
Edinburgh Fringe, Morecambe and Vice,
Essays – Books and Music and an Interview