Ellie Holmes brings us another in her excellent series, Book Bloggers and Reviewers.
We are delighted to welcome Linda Hill to the RNA Blog’s monthly series where we speak to book bloggers and get an insight into their world. Welcome Linda, tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog.
I'm a blogger over at Linda's Book Bag. I used to be an English teacher and local authority adviser
I live with Steve, my husband of almost 34 years, in the Lincolnshire Fens where it can feel like being in a Tupperware box at times with vast grey skies. I adore cats and used to have four at one time, including a diabetic one we had to inject with insulin twice a day, but have none now as we go away so much.
I'm mad about Bryan Ferry, having met him twice and been to 21 of his concerts and you won't find me more than a few feet away from chocolate, fudge or toffee and preferably all three.
When I'm not blogging or reading I'll be planning a holiday! Thanks so much for inviting me to appear on this wonderful blog.
What made you start to review/blog?
I've always been a bookworm - or rather, I was once I got glasses at the age of almost 8 and realised those strange smudges on a piece of paper were actually magical words that could transport me somewhere else. I loved inspiring youngsters to read for pleasure when I taught English and then when I left teaching and became an Educational Consultant I was asked by Hodder to read and review KS3 aged children's books with a view to them being used as class readers. Imaging my delight at being paid to read!
After that I looked for online reading groups and found Love Reading who were looking for review panel members so I applied and was taken on as one of their reviewers. At the same time, I retired (life is too short to work!) and joined my local University of the Third Age (U3A) reading group where the members encouraged me to share my thoughts. It suddenly dawned on me in 2015 that I could actually blog and so Linda's Book Bag was born.
What’s your review policy?
I don't have one! I've thought long and hard about it and whether I ought to have one and although I avoid anything offensively sexual, racist, homophobic etc, I'll consider most things for review. I don't much like horror as I'm a wimp and don't like being scared. If an author would like me to consider a book for review I'll always do a bit of research and see if I think it's for me.
Trouble is, the TBR is now huge so my current 'review policy' is that I have to decline an awful lot as I know I'll never get to the books.
I saw on your blog that you won the Best Book Review Blog Award 2016. Congratulations! Tell us a little bit about how you came to be nominated and what it was like to receive the award.
I'm not sure how I came to be nominated and it was a complete shock to me and even more that I actually won! A few people since have told me that they nominated me and I'm so grateful. I was in a field at Burghley House waiting for Bryan Ferry to perform (which is why I wasn't at the award ceremony) when I got a Facebook message from fellow blogger Shell Baker telling me I'd won. I was so thrilled.
How many times a month do you blog?
It varies. I'm trying to cut back as I spend too much time blogging and not enough time reading. Last year which was so awful for me personally meant I didn't have as much time as I would have liked, but I still blogged most days.
Unless I'm on holiday, or taking a break as I did in April this year I rarely have a day when I don't blog and many days have two posts.
What’s the best and worst thing about running a blog?
After the sheer joy of reading, the best thing has to be the people. I have made real and virtual friends including other bloggers, authors and publicists. We all try to support one another and it is a delight when I get to go to events and meet these people face to face.
The worse thing is the time it takes up and the occasional lack of understanding about what goes in to setting up a blog post that some people seem to have. I wrote a bit about that when I explained my reasons for going AWOL in April and I'll be doing the same and being absent in August too.
This week, for example, I didn't receive the extract I was supposed to have for a blog tour on the Monday, even though I'd reminded the publisher to send it. I really didn't have time to read the book but I didn't want to let down the author so I got up at 5 on Sunday morning and read solidly for five hours to be able to write a review so that I had something to post. If I'm honest, I was very annoyed and could just have posted a spotlight but I felt it wasn't the author's fault and they still deserved as much coverage as possible.
You are a Netgalley member – can you tell us a little about that.
Honestly? I try to avoid Netgalley if I can. Partly it's because I always seem to get in a pickle when posting reviews and feedback but mostly because I tend to forget I have e-books. I have over 900 physical books that have been sent to me unsolicited and awaiting review so I rarely request a Netgalley book unless I have been sent a specific widget for a blog tour.
What do you like to do in your spare time when not reading?
I love to be outside. I love walking and I garden as much as I can and have an allotment so I can grow our own fruit and veg. I run a local U3A gardening group. I write a little bit and have a novel lurking in the background. However, my biggest passion is travel, especially if it combines with wildlife. One of the most exciting things I've ever done was snorkeling with sharks in the Galapagos. My husband and I have been all over the place from Antarctica and Australia to Zambia and Zanzibar. We are going to Uganda in the hope of seeing gorillas and India to look for tigers in 2018 and I haven't quite decided what we're doing this year although we've already been to Wales (very exotic), Lapland and Spain.
We often ask agents and publishers what they consider to be the next 'big thing' - what do you hope to see in 2017?
I'd like to see some of the quiet books that get overlooked picked up more. One of the books I've really enjoyed this year so far is The Words in My Hand by Guinevere Glasfurd as it is exquisite but I've hardly seen it mentioned.
Thanks for having me Ellie. I've really enjoyed taking part.
Ellie Holmes writes commercial women’s fiction with her heart in the town and her soul in theJonquil Jones Mystery Series
Thank you, Ellie and Linda for such an informative interview.
Would you like to write for the RNA Blog? Do you have a book about to be published and want to tell members of your journey? Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org