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A Place Where All Book-Likes Things Happen

 

The discovery paths on BookLikes can lead you into various book-likes places: new books, reviews, authors, reading lists, reading challenges, great blogs and shelves. From now on you'll have more opportunities to explore BookLikes places and community and decide where to go first. 

 

 

The upper part of your Dashboard presents the discover boxes with the most recent activities of BookLikes Community and places worth visiting, like Book Catalog, Reading Lists and Discussion Rooms. We wish to encourage new and our regular members of BookLikes Community to explore all BookLikes' spots and find new friends with a similar reading taste and interesting books. 

 

 

To boost the discovery experience we're also showing you valuable BookLikes blogs as well as books and reviews worth your attention. 

 

 

Warning! You TBR pile might get bigger with the Daily Deals, Free Ebook and Giveaways sections.  

 

 

The discovery box display will change when you refresh your Dashboard page. If you're BookLikes' regular blogger and know all our places by heart you can hide the discovery boxes. However, we highly encourage you to glimpse once in a while at the discovery hints as we have a great bunch of new cool options to launch and reveal. 

 

 

We also plan some further development on the discovery boxes. The personalized settings for each discovery box are on their way as well as more hints and guidelines what's worth discovering on BookLikes. 

Add More to Your Reading Lists

 

 

Don't pick up random books. Plan you reading ahead with the reading lists which are great for sharing book series, book recommendations and presenting a reading guide for other book lovers. 

 

Your reading list guide can present an endless number of books. You can choose the book order to suggest where to start or show the titles according to your preferences.

 

 

When you find a reading list that works for you, you can not only Sign in but also Like it and add all listed books to your Shelf page. The books will be added to a thematic shelf named after the List and will include the reading status if selected.

 

 

This will help you to stay up to date with your reading plan and keep you on reading.

 

You can easily reach your lists on the Reading Lists page which presents now your lists, lists that you've liked, and the BookLikes community's reading guides.

 

 

Author Talks: Nina Milton

 

Please welcome Nina Milton to Author Talks!

 

Nina Milton is a British writer of children's books, short fiction and now crime stories. She's won many literary competitions, including the Crossroads Competition, Kent Festival Prize, and the Wells Literary Short Story Competition. 

 

You can visit her blog and follow her at BookLikes: Sabbie Dare and Friends, and win her title on BookLikes. 

 

 

Have you always wanted to become a writer? How long have you been writing?

 

When I was five, my infant school teacher Mrs Marsden read a story to the class. It might have been the fable 'The Mouse and the Lion', but I can't really remember. Then she asked the class to write a story. I was dumfounded. For the first time I realized that the books I loved had actually been written by real human beings. Before that, I believe they must have fallen from some sort of story heaven. It was a revelation - from then on I was scribbling down stories all the time.

 

I started to write a novel at the age of fifteen. It was chock full of angst and I never finished it. I then took to writing short stories, which I began publishing a few years later in women’s magazines. Once my children were at school I made a big push to start some children’s stories.

 

 

Your first published works were books for children, you also enjoy writing short stories, and now you focus on crime novels. What’s your favorite genre to write?

 

I do love writing crime. I love the mystery aspect, trying to puzzle the reader while keeping them on the edge of their seat. I stay awake at night, trying to sort out all the permutations of each novel. I’m not sure I value that as much as the actual writing, though...the creating of strong characters, for instance, or the creation of a lyrical ‘voice’ for the narrative, but perhaps I should.

 

A revelation has been writing a series; the characters become so entirely real, and their lives, past and present, open out. I’ve had such fun writing my shaman ‘sleuth’, Sabbie Dare. She’s like a younger sister to me now.

 

 

The second installment of your mystery series is out, Unraveled Visions has been released in UK on October 5. Congratulations! Can you tell our readers more about the title and A Shaman Mystery series?
  

In the Moors was the first of the Shaman Mysteries published by Midnight Ink last year and available online and from bookshops and libraries as a paperback or hardback large print book. It’s   also an ebook and available on Kindle. Unraveled Visions continues to follow Sabbie’s adventures as she runs a therapeutic shamanic business in Bridgwater. She’s still seeing Rey Buckley, the maverick cop she sparked with in book one. And she’s still as cock-eyed and gutsy as she was in the first book, even though, yet again, her investigations hurtles her towards a dark and menacing place.

 

The idea for my Shaman Mysteries, and In the Moors in particular, came to me when Sabbbie Dare. She walked right into my head and  spoke directly to me - sort of - ‘hi, Nina, I’m Sabbie, I’m 28 and I’m a shaman, which means I walk in the spirit world to help my shamanic clients. I love my job, but sometimes very strange people come into my therapy room...’

 

Sabbie gains the strength to get through life with her pagan beliefs, but still struggles over the memories of her difficult childhood which left her as a very angry young teenager. But she has an open heart, and is adept at inviting trouble into her life. In Unraveled Visions, a gypsy is looking for her missing sister and a neighbour is terrified of her husband and as aways she has a hard time keeping away from danger. As she says in In the Moors I’m the sort of person who has to poke their finger into all the holes marked, ‘do not insert’.”

 

 

Before A Shaman Mystery you wrote books for children. Was it difficult to switch to another genre and audience? A Shaman Mystery is quite dark.

     

I loved writing for children, and, once I’ve found the voice to my main character, I don’t really notice much difference between writing for adults and children - apart from the amount of swearing! I’m certainly hoping to write more for children and young people in the future. In my books for eight to thirteen year olds, I still have a central mystery to the story.

 

The Shaman Mystery series will continue to have a dark, atmospheric edge. Sabbie has a mysterious past herself, which she’s only just beginning to unravel.

 

 

How do you invent the story? Does it happen spontaneously or is it a long lasting process?

 

Like most writers, I’m fascinated by the way ideas, characters and entire scenes drop into a writing place in our heads, which becomes increasingly real to us. Characters seem to appear from nowhere, or from a muse, as the ancients would have it. They have conversations in houses that don’t exist, or stand gazing out from headlands, the salt spray on their lips, while the writer is actually under the shower.

 

I call it ‘walking in your imagination’, because you can travel to any place or time or the mind of any character you chose. In this slower state of thinking, you naturally enter the relaxed, twilight world where vivid imagery flashes into the mind’s eye and we become receptive to information. To create this sort of trance state, hypnotists use a swaying crystal, therapists use a soothing voice, and shaman use the beat of a drum - Sabbie Dare uses a drum to enter her otherworld.

 

Writers, on the other hand, mostly use their legs. As far apart chronologically as Dickens and Drabble, writers are known to swear by the afternoon walk, disappearing after lunch to walk in the woods, allowing the beat of their stride and the beauty of the surroundings to let their minds drop into the world of story.

 

In my experience it doesn’t much matter where you walk (although scenery can be inspirational in the most surprising ways), but it’s important to walk alone. I have beautiful Ceredigion countryside to walk through, and I use that a lot when I’m creating new stories. Once the characters are talking to me, I start serious plotting; making charts and lists and timelines and investigating possibilities. I also spent time plotting carefully. I don’t dry up half as often as I used to nowadays.

 

 

Do you consult the crimes you want to put in your books with the police, detectives, doctors?

 

I have two very friendly and helpful relations who are in the police force and keep me up to date with things. And I know a lot of shamans, as I’m a druid myself. I’m also in touch with people in the medical profession and have a good grounding to start with as I was a nurse before I became a full-time writer.

 

 

Which authors influence your writing and your works?

 

I actually like reading contemporary fiction which contains mystery at the core, like  Kate Atkinson, Patrick Gale, Ian McKewan, Sarah Waters, David Mitchell and Kazuo Ishigor.

 

But I also love crime, of course, especially Raymond Chandler, PG James Francis Fyfield and Elly Griffiths, to whom my work has been compared (Library Journal).

 

 

Do you prefer writing novels or short stories? How is the process different?

 

I’ve just been writing a degree-level course about writing short fiction for the Open College of the Arts. But yes, writing short stories is very different indeed. You need a tighter timeline (hours, preferably) less characters (two, preferably) and a single core theme - the cleverer the better.

   

I have to say I’m more comfortable writing 100,000 words than 1000, but inbetween my crime fiction I can’t help be drawn back to the genre. My favourite short story writer at the moment is Geoffrey Ford and my most recent short stories can be found in the anthology Unchained (Tangent Press) available from Amazon uk.

 

 

What are the best and the worst things about being a writer?

 

The best thing is the sheer creativity and the way you can lose yourself in the writing when it’s going well. The worse thing is sitting on your butt for so long! (Especially when the sun’s shining.) It’s good to get out, meet other writers, go to events.

 

 

You’re participating in “Books Are My Bag” which supports local bookstores and writers. Is it easy to be a writer nowadays? How can readers support local authors?

 

Yes, if you’re in the UK on the 11th October, I’ll be launching Unraveled Visions the 2nd Shaman Mystery Novel from Midnight Ink in a Bristol bookshop - Foyles in Quaker’s Friars - as part of the Books are my Bog weekend. I'll be there from 2pm to 7pm at this drop-in event, signing my new book, and reading from it. I'll also be holding a short workshop for writers. So if you’re around do come to meet me, check out my writing, and also meet a lot of other Bristol writers.

 

 

 

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not writing?

 

Gardening. I love growing veg and I would love growing flowers, if I could get the hang of it! I also love transforming the things we grow into food, and I’ve just been part of a project for writers who bake. The book is out now on Amazon; it’s called Bake, Love, Write.  

 

 

If not writing than what? Who would you like to be if you couldn’t be a writer?

 

I would have loved to be a dancer. Maybe a ballroom dancer. The idea of swirling gracefully around a floor to a rush of beautiful music is tantalising. Sadly, I don’t swirl gracefully. I trip over my feet and crash onto the parquet. 

 

 

What are you reading now?

 

I’ve just finished The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt, which deserves every bit of praise - characters who are real and unforgettable and deep, clever Theme with a brilliant twist towards the end. I’m now reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which carefully explores themes of race and belonging. Not such an exciting read, but a very meaningful one.

 

    



Paper books or e-books? Why?

I do own a Kindle and I do use it, but you can’t beat holding a book in your hand.

 

 

What are your favorite books?

Please recommend some must read titles for our readers.

 

I couldn't put The Hours, by Michael Cunninham, down, It's the perfect accompaniment to Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. It is also a great achievement in itself. Written somewhat in the Woolf style, it moves deftly, never making a shortcut, through a single day in the lives of three women. 

 

In 1923 Virginia Woolf, living in countryside Richmond, but longing to go back to London, is setting out to write the first words of her new book, about a woman holding a party. In 1951, in Los Angeles we meet a woman with a small son and one on the way. Laura Brown is reading Virginia Woolf, struggling with her husband’s birthday cake and contemplating suicide. In 1990  in New York, Clarissa Vaughan a middle-aged woman with a grown daughter and a female partner, is planning a party for her friends, to celebrate her early love’s recent literary award. But Richard has AIDS and doesn’t want a party in his honour. I saw the film before reading the book, but the book itself is the revelation. Stunning.

     

 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

 

Get yourself a writing buddy; someone who can read your work and comment honestly, and someone who has fallen into all the writing pitfalls you’re likely to encounter. It should be someone who can buy you a consolitary drink when there’s bad news and join you in champaign cocktails when there’s good news!

 

What are your favorite quotes?

 

Show, don’t tell - Chekhov said…

Don’t tell me the moon is shining;

show me the glint of light on broken glass…

 

Characterization - Ernest Hemingway said…

A writer should create living people; people not characters. 

A character is a caricature.

 

Description - Proust said…

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes,

but in having new eyes…

 

Follow those three pieces of advice and you’ll hit the ground running.

 

 

What’s your favorite writing and reading spot?

(our readers would love to see some photos).

 

My garden (the bench where I sit is just out of the picture), my office, and the countryside I walk in.

 

 

Thank you, Nina!

 

And here's a surprise from Nina Milton: 

enter the giveaway to win Unraveled Visions!

You can find Nina Milton's books on BookLikes:

        

and more on Nina Milton's author page. 

 

Read other talks on BookLikes

Author Talks on BookLikes: 

Author Talks: Tony Talbot

Guest Post by Warren Adler: The Title Dilemma

Author Talks: Libby Fischer Hellmann

Author Talks: Lauren B. Davis, Part One

Author Talks: Lauren B. Davis, Part Two

Author Talks: John Biggs

Author Talks: Ned Hayes, Part One

Author Talks: Ned Hayes, Part Two

Author Talks: Elizabeth Watasin, Part One

Author Talks: Elizabeth Watasin, Part Two

Literary Inspirations of Rayne Hall

 

Blog Talks on BookLikes:   

Book Blog Talks: Parajunkee

Book Blog Talks: The Happy Booker, Part One

Book Blog Talks: The Happy Booker, Part Two

Book Blog Talks: Happy Books, Part One

Book Blog Talks: Happy Books, Part Two

 

Photos courtesy of Nina Milton.

Book Blog Preview

 

Your BookLikes' Dashboard presents blogs you follow, people you want to stay connected with, and friends with similar reading preferences. Now you can peek into your friends' shelves and compare your books on the go thanks to Book Blog Preview. 

 

The Dashboard keeps on moving, the bookshelf updates changes from minute to minute, new posts and reviews are published - sometimes it's easy to overlook the book information. We don't want you to miss anything so in case you have forgotten or haven't noticed what your friends are currently reading use the new quick book blog preview.

 

To have an immediate access to the blog's teaser hover over your friend's avatar on your Dashboard.

 

The book blog preview will present you the following information: blog name, number of books, followers and followings, and books on the currently reading shelf. You can also check how many similar books have you read by clicking Compare books.

 

The book blog preview works for all kind of activities on your Dashboard: posts and reviews as well as on single book activities. 

 

 

 

P.S. Who wouldn't like to have such a wonderful bookshelf necklace?!? You can have it here <3

Author Talks: Tony Talbot

Please welcome Tony Talbot in BookLikes’ Author Talks!

 

Tony Talbot is a British Young Adult author. Inspired by the novels of Australian author John Marsden, he took up writing in 2008 and hasn’t stopped since. You can find Tony's books on BookLikes, follow his blog at: Tony Talbot and win Tony Talbot's book! Read on to know more. 

 

 

It is said that our dreams reflect our lives. In your situation it was a dream that made you become a writer. Could you tell our readers more about it, and have you ever thought of becoming a writer before that dream?

 

There was a film made in the 1970s – Capricorn One – where the first mission to Mars is faked in the desert. There's a scene where feet approach the capsule, seen through the window. In the dream I had, it was someone's face through the window when they're re-entering earth's atmosphere from a moon landing. That didn’t really work, so I changed it to someone without a helmet or spacesuit appearing in a moonwalk. Back in mission control, two reporters are there and happen to catch it on camera.

 

 

I'd thought about being a writer before then, on and off, but never had the nerve to get started. I'd dipped into a few writing books, most notably Stephen King's On Writing, (which is the best writing book ever written. Read it!). I decided to give my story a go and see if people liked it. Which they did, which gave me confidence to keep going.

 

 

You write mainly short stories. Why have you decided to choose short fiction?

 

Short stories are a blast! I love writing them, making everything small and compact and neat. It appeals to me to work small as well as on novels…and not every story has the potential to be 60,000 words. Just walking through a short story with one character can be a lot of fun, and it's a great way to keep things interesting.

 

 

We can read in your bio that your wife is an American, and you’re from UK. Do you experience any cross-cultural differences which then become inspirations for your stories?

 

Not differences, but when I was casting around for a book, my wife suggested Japanese-American internment during World War Two. She's from Washington State, one of the places affected. I didn't know anything about that part of American history, and was shocked at the number of Americans who don't either – and the result was American Girl.

 

 

Your writing is a mix of various literary genres with the majority of YA. How do you know in which genre the story will end up? How does you writing process look like?

 

I try and make a decision what genre the book will be before I start, but I don't try to follow the conventions for it. Whatever writing style works best is what I try and go for. Writing in sci-fi or historical fiction genre are really secondary to what's going on to me...which is the characters in that world and how they interact.

 

My writing process is very seat-of-the-pants. I don't pin a character down and demand to know what their favourite colour is or what they're going to be doing in chapter four. I like to let them get on with it and make their own mistakes.

 

 

Your first science fiction book Medusa is out. Congratulations! How did you come up with the idea for the book? Was Sci-Fi difficult to write?

 

I subscribe to a science magazine full of speculative ideas, and one article was about immense floating cities. An image popped into my head of a girl riding a jet-ski towards one a few weeks later. I didn't know anything about her or her world until I started writing.

 

SF wasn't really difficult to write, but it was important to me to get the details right – so my characters don't use days or weeks as a measure of time, and the science in the book is grounded in reality...just a far future reality. I asked some friends to come up with some new swear words as well, which was a lot of fun.

 

 

How long does it take a write a novel / short story for you?

 

It takes about a year from draft zero to finished product, including the cover and beta-reads and endless, endless edits!

 

 

Can you point one favourite character from your books, and tell our readers why?

 

It would have to be Jenna from Over the Mountain, my first book, because she's very much like me: Loves rainstorms and is quite reserved.

 

 

Do you have any writing habits which help you keep the story going?

 

I try to work on a story as often as possible when I get rolling, or self-doubt starts to set in. Sometimes I have to walk away when I get blocked with it though...I start to write slower when I can feel one coming on.

 

 

Could you tell our readers which authors inspire you and your works?

 

I've read a lot of Stephen King and Dean Koontz, and from them, I learned characters and the trials you can put them through. All the cards are on the table with   those two, they don't hold anything out of their reach. My wife told me about Australian author John Marsden, and I'm always blown away at how good he is, even on a re-read. I've been digging into Patrick Ness recently; When a Monster Calls beguiled me with its simple language and then sucker-punched me to tears with the ending.

 

There are so many good authors out there, and I learn something from all of them.

 

 

In your recent post you write that the author’s imagination is a gift but also a curse. What are the best and the worst things about being a writer?

 

I love being to create a world from scratch and make it believable enough that it feels like you've been there. To step into someone's fictional shoes and to walk around, and then translate that onto a page. Worst part is thinking that I'll never write anything that good again. The weight of my own high standards!

 

 

What are you working on right now? Do you have any new books in development at the moment?

 

I'm thinking of a coastal sea-side town, quite isolated, as the galaxy comes to an end: The stars are going out, millions every night, and for some reason Earth is being left until last...

 

 

What are the characteristics that each author should have? Any advice for aspiring writers?

 

Patience and persistence! No one expects a pianist to be able to perform Mozart overnight, and writing is an art like any other: don't expect to be great first time. Keep practicing, and you'll get better. Read everything you can, good and bad. And read On Writing by Stephen King, the most encouraging book on writing out there.



 

What are you reading now?

 

My wife wanted to buy "Kenobi" by John Jackson Miller, because she liked the cover! She read it and enjoyed it, and I'm about seventy pages in and feel the same way.

 

 

Paper books or e-book? Why?

I love them both. I love being able to carry the complete works of Dickens in something so slim as a Kindle, but the weight of a hardback is reassuring as well.

 

 

Some authors cannot read books when they are writing.

Do you read books while writing a novel or short story?

I couldn't read when I wrote my first book, but then I realised I'd probably never be able to read again if I stopped every time I started writing!

 

 

What titles won your heart? Recommend must-reads for our readers.

Most recently, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. As I said, it suckered me with its simple language and powerful ending. Old classics work best for me: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Diary of Anne Frank. Must reads for everyone.

 

      

 

 

Your favorite quotes?

Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. – Allen Saunders

Books are a uniquely portable magic. – Stephen King

 

What’s your favorite writing and reading spot?

(Our readers would love to see some photos ;-))

 

I read everywhere I can find a spot, so here's my writing space in the spare room:

The little TARDIS beside the computer is a USB hub that makes the "materialisation" sound when you plug something in. And the light flashes on the top. ☺

 

All those toys on the upper shelf...

 

My wife makes these business cards for me as a little matchbook:

 

...and my work in progress!

 Thank you, Tony!

 

 

And here's a candy from Tony Talbot: 

30 e-book copies of Medusa!

 

You can find books by Tony Talbot on BookLikes: 

    

 and more on Tony Talbot's author page

 

Read other talks on BookLikes

Author Talks on BookLikes: 

Guest Post by Warren Adler: The Title Dilemma

Author Talks: Libby Fischer Hellmann

Author Talks: Lauren B. Davis, Part One

Author Talks: Lauren B. Davis, Part Two

Author Talks: John Biggs

Author Talks: Ned Hayes, Part One

Author Talks: Ned Hayes, Part Two

Author Talks: Elizabeth Watasin, Part One

Author Talks: Elizabeth Watasin, Part Two

Literary Inspirations of Rayne Hall

 

Blog Talks on BookLikes:   

Book Blog Talks: Parajunkee

Book Blog Talks: The Happy Booker, Part One

Book Blog Talks: The Happy Booker, Part Two

Book Blog Talks: Happy Books, Part One

Book Blog Talks: Happy Books, Part Two

Compare Books with Your Friends - Reading stats, Part Two

 

Check out if you and your friends have the same reading taste. Now you can compare books with your friends on BookLikes. 

 

You’ve been asking about reading stats and book comparison, and here they are! Recently we’ve launched reading challenge statistics and now it’s time to explore if your BookLikes friends are keen on the same books as you are. The book comparison will also allow you to sneak a look at your new followers' shelves. 

 

New feature Compare Books can be found in the new tab, Apps, which presents now three features: Reading Lists, Reading Challenge and Compare Books. If you wish to update your challenge or create a list make sure to go to the new place in the menu, Apps.

 

You can compare your shelved books with any of your Followings or Followers, just type in a blog name or a username to see the results.

 

 

The Compare Books page is divided in the following sections:

  • total number of books
  • books in common
  • book category compatibility 
  • total number of reviews and ratings
  • reviews and ratings in books in common


When you choose a blog to compare all data will be counted and presented on the page with the book details, reading status, rating stars and reviews.

 

Book Blog Talks - Parajunkee

 

Please welcome Rachel from Parajunkee blog in BookLikes’ Book Blog Talks! 

 

Rachel is an experienced book blogger, book reviewer, and talented designer. She has received many awards for her writing, blogging, and design works. 

 

You can view and use her works in BookLikes Theme Store, and follow her on BookLikes at: parajunkee.rocks (we must say we love Rachel’s new domain name on BookLikes!)

 

 

Could you please tell our readers a little more about yourself?  Have you always been keen on reading & reviewing? 

 

Hi, I’m Rachel and this is always the most awkward of questions. How to sound both interesting yet not so narcissistic. But, basically, I’m in my 30s, a freelance designer and have been reading voraciously since I can remember. I got into reviewing about five years ago, kind of by accident. The blog just also sort of happened, but since it happened, it has taken over my life.  Which was good, because then it gave me two hobbies. Reading and blogging.



How did your blogging adventure start? And why blogging, and not cooking, paragliding? ;-)

 

This is not a very romantic story, as I mentioned, I’m a freelance designer. It wasn’t always the case. I once worked for a big evil corporation. I was a medium sized peon in the Marketing Department. The idea/problem girl. If our clients wanted something, they came to me and said “figure it out.”  Well, a large group of our clients attended a con, where a speaker mentioned that everyone needs a blog for their company. So, they all looked at me and said “we want a blog.” We designed 50K web sites for these guys and they wanted me to figure out how to do a diary type free web thingy? Yea. So, I began researching and I figured out, to actually learn how to blog, you actually had to blog. Get your feet wet, just do it. I could read all the posts I wanted on “how to blog” and I wouldn’t learn anything until I jumped in. So, I had to start blogging. I wasn’t going to blog about Marketing or Health Care, that was just boring - so I decided my experiment would be my own hobby. Books.

 

I commenced to learn how to blog. And then I taught some of my clients how to do it, but it didn’t really catch on with them. Because, they didn’t realize, you had to really “own” the blog, you just couldn’t do it halfway, or it would just seem like a promotional outlet. But, because I would use my blog, Parajunkee’s View, that I created as an example in my presentations, they saw that mine was doing well. They saw I had all these people following me. They saw that my twitter account had blown up. And their blogs, just sat there. Stagnant. They fired me. Because obviously, my attention was somewhere else. Told you it wasn’t a romantic story. But, that is why I started blogging. And why I continue to blog. Also, I can’t really cook and paragliding - well I’m accident prone and I won’t regale you with the story of my tries at adventure - which usually leads to a hospital visit.

 

 

You’re a wife, mum, reviewer & designer, you’re active on your blogs, and in various social media: Twitter, Facebook, BookLikes. Does your online life affect your offline life? And how do you manage to schedule all your tasks?

 

Yes. And yes. Luckily, I’m a freelancer, so that means, I work at home. Which gives me a lot more leeway to update blog posts, social media etc. I also have a very supportive husband, who likes having me home and taking care of our one child, which I have the freedom to do, working from home. He also understands that all my business is drummed up from online interactions. So, he only tells me to “unplug” every now and again. The one way I do try to keep things even though, is by making sure that I do “unplug” on occasion. On the weekends, you won’t see me online a lot, unless I have a big project. Also, I try and stay off in the evenings - just like if I were to work at a 9 to 5. I don’t always succeed, but my first priority will be my family.

 

I also find that automating a lot of menial tasks really helps, I use plugins that promote my posts, organize my reviews etc, which has done wonders for time management.

 

 

You read & review a lot. How do you pick books to read? Book covers, reviews, family recommendations, book lists?

 

All my book choices are from books that are sent to me for review, I haven’t read a family recommendation in a long time, even though they love giving me suggestions. I usually choose from a list the publisher sends me, or just grab the next one on my TBR spreadsheet. Books will make it on my TBR after I read the synopsis, look over a few recommendations from goodreads.com or booklikes.com and then agree to review it. I have a little more leeway in my reading repertoire for audiobooks, so if I’m looking to use up an audible.com credit, I’ll run to twitter and ask for recommendations from a group of ladies that I know are also audiobook fans and we like similar things.



You’re an advanced reviewer, what book aspects make you love or hate the book?

 

I think of myself as a logical person, so the plot has to make sense. I don’t give the book “credit” for being a young adult or romance or some other genre - so the plot doesn’t have to come together realistically. I like things to make sense and feel real. Then I want to like the characters.  Reallly relate to them and like them as people, or hate them as people, because any kind of emotional response makes for a great read. Finally the writing technique of the author. It can’t be sloppy, or amateurish. Other then that, there isn’t much that I’ll read that will make me instantly hate or love a book. I have noticed though,that there is one thing that will push me over the edge with a book into the hate - and that is when characters fall within an insulting stereotypical box. Like the token GBF there for comic relief, or the old judgmental Christian republican is the traditional Southern bad guy, ex-girlfriend nemesis…those sort of things.

 

 

Is blogging always fun or do you experience hard time, such as reviewer’s block, a never ending tbr pile, complaints on negative reviews, pushy authors etc?

 

Honestly, no, there are some times when I ask myself, “why am I doing this?” Usually it happens when I come across complaints about me, or the times when I was plagiarized, that was pretty debasing. I can deal with the TBR pile and the work, I just get frustrated with the negative people or people that do malicious things to promote themselves seem to be circling around me. Luckily this doesn’t happen often.

 

 

Apart from being a blogger and reviewers, you’re also a designer (also on BookLikes). Was it a hobby at first? What made you start a professional design business?

 

No, it wasn’t a hobby. I went to design school, it is actually where I met my husband. I’ve also worked as a Graphic Designer, Web Designer and Marketing Manager for the last decade (I’m showing my age). Only in the last few years, because of the aforementioned axing (see question 2)…did I start just doing it on my own. Why get a real job, when I can just hang out here with you guys?

 

 

What are you working on right now? What are your plans when it comes to blogging and designing?

 

I’m working on a few cover designs, both for great authors that I’m so excited to promote. Along with a few pet projects that I hope to get done soon. The 2015 Book Blogger Organizer is something that has been a work in progress for awhile, I hope everyone likes it when it comes out. And to answer the second part of the question - to take over the world?

 

 

What are the best and the worst things about being a book blogger?

 

The best things. It has to be when you finally meet an author in real life and they recognize you from your blog or twitter. It is both embarrassing (especially when they call you out in a panel or signing after you tweeted that you were there) but thrilling, I wouldn’t have had the guts to really have a conversation with an author that I loved before I started blogging. They are my celebs, my rock stars. Worst things. Some of the drama that pops up with the authors. If you write a negative review and they have a negative reaction. There was an author that I really liked and I wrote one mediocre review about one of her books and she got pretty nasty with me. I planned on reading any book that she published - but after that, I never wanted to read her again. Those kind of things are the down times and make me second guess any negative reviews that I publish.

 

 

What advice would you give to people who would like to start blogging? Are there any golden rules to follow?


Make a plan before you begin. It makes things a lot easier to have a guide. And have fun.

 

 

What’s on your nightstand right now?

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

 

Your favorite author(s)?
Karen Marie Moning, Jeaniene Frost, Illona Andrews, Julie Kagawa,  Kresley Cole…oh my the list can go on and on.

 

Your favorite literary genres?

I prefer Urban Fantasy, Paranormal type novels,

I really enjoy any kind of Young Adult though

 

Do you have books that totally won your heart?
The first book ever that won my heart - I think I was 10 - Where the Red Ferns Grow. Still all emotional about that book.

 

 

Could you think of literary character that you would like to meet face to face?

What would your ask him/her?
Jericoh Z. Barrons, what he eats?

 

Paper books or e-books? Why?
Both! I usually am reading a paper book, an eBook and have an audiobook on my currently reading shelf.

 

Favorite reading place? (we’d love to see some photos :) )

When it isn’t so hot - my favorite place is to read outside - in my little crazy garden: 

 

Any favorite quotes?

 

    There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

 

One of my favorites from Hitchhikers.

 

 Thank you, Rachel! 

 

Read other talks on BookLikes

Author Talks on BookLikes: 

Guest Post by Warren Adler: The Title Dilemma

Author Talks: Libby Fischer Hellmann

Author Talks: Lauren B. Davis, Part One

Author Talks: Lauren B. Davis, Part Two

Author Talks: John Biggs

Author Talks: Ned Hayes, Part One

Author Talks: Ned Hayes, Part Two

Author Talks: Elizabeth Watasin, Part One

Author Talks: Elizabeth Watasin, Part Two

Literary Inspirations of Rayne Hall

 

Blog Talks on BookLikes:  

Book Blog Talks: Parajunkee

Book Blog Talks: The Happy Booker, Part One

Book Blog Talks: The Happy Booker, Part Two

Book Blog Talks: Happy Books, Part One

Book Blog Talks: Happy Books, Part Two

BookLikes Opens Affiliate Programs for Book Bloggers

A lot of BookLikes members have been asking about the affiliate programs. And here we are, launching them! Now you can earn by doing what you love: reading books and sharing reviews.  

 

Your Affiliate Programs

 

If you are already cooperating with bookstores, like Amazon or Book Depository (more bookstores to come) you can connect your affiliate IDs with your BookLikes account. Getting started is easy and requires only several clicks. Simply add your IDs in Settings/Affiliate Programs and start shelving and reviewing. 

 

 

When you connect your affiliate IDs with your BookLikes account in Settings, all books that you put on your shelf, and add to your texts and reviews on your BookLikes webpage will use your affiliate ID. This means that whenever someone clicks the book from your virtual bookshelf or a book review and buys it, you get 100% of the commission set by a particular bookstore.

 

You don’t have to stick to one program, you can choose several to increase your profit rate.  

 

Affiliate programs selected by you are highlighted with your avatar in the book windows on your blog and your virtual bookshelf.

 

 

If you've been using your Affiliate Programs IDs on BookLikes previously, your affiliate preferences should be saved in Settings/Affiliate Programs

 

 

Bookstores on Book Pages and in Book Windows

 

The book pages on BookLikes and the book windows has also received information where they can be purchased.

 

 

If you'd like to acquire the title, click the link and you'll be moved to a given bookstore. 

 

Guest Post by Warren Adler: The Title Dilemma

 

 

by Warren Adler

 

 

Like every author on the planet, I've spent endless hours mulling over creating titles for my work. One strives, of course, to be both memorable and honestly descriptive of the content.

 

There are also marketing aspects to be considered. The marquee value cannot be neglected since the book, especially fiction, must compete in the market place and be "discoverable" to the searching eye of the browser and the impulsive book buyer who scans bookshelves of those bookstores still remaining and interminable book cover images that clutter the e-reader "shelves."

 

Another wild aspiration that motivates the author is the possibility of a movie production of their novel and the limitations of the actual movie marquee. Anything more than a four-word title could be a dream killer. Imagine any great movie or TV adaptation based on a novel where the title of the novel is changed. I have been lucky in that regard with three of my works The War of the Roses, Random Hearts and The Sunset Gang.

 

      

 

The title's suggestion to a cover artist was, and perhaps still is, an aspect that had to be taken into account. The book cover design and illustration has always been an integral part of the marketing process and many fine prize winning designs have been an essential marketing tool for books in both fiction and non-fiction categories.

 

For books in categories such as romance, science fiction, mysteries, fantasy, zombie and vampire stories, young adult and children's books and all their sub-categories, the titles and covers must reflect the specific genre to clearly designate its content.

 

But for the author of mainstream fiction whose story line is not in any genre category, he or she must face the agony of choice. Many famous authors chose to name their books after a main character, and one can point to many successes such as David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Jane Eyre, Anna Karenina, Daniel Deronda, Nana, Mrs. Dalloway, Lolita, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, Rebecca, Tom Jones, Clarissa, Robinson Crusoe and the most enduring of all, Don Quixote.

 

 

Some authors have chosen place names, countries, houses, streets, neighborhoods, destinations, bars, modes of transportation and myriad other categories as titles, too numerous to mention; Wuthering Heights and Tales of the South Pacific are typical.

 

    

 

Many of these, obviously, are classic novels that have stood the test of time but there are many character named titles that have passed on to obscurity.

 

 

Then there are the titles that are lifted from lines of poetry that the author believes are an apt choice to illustrate a theme of the novel, some of recent vintage like The Lovely Bones. Among the better known are A Handful of Dust, Of Mice and Men, Far From the Madding Crowd, Remembrance of Things Past, Endless Night and many others.

 

        

 

One title that always intrigued me was Catcher in the Rye, which takes its inspiration from Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet whose "Comin' Thro' The Rye" was a poem with obvious sexual overtones, a subject  much on the mind of the main character in the book. Another is To Kill A Mockingbird, which takes its title from a snippet of dialogue from its main character declaring that to kill a mockingbird is a sin. That title truly encapsulates the theme of that novel.

 

Believe me, I have had many sleepless nights trying to come up with titles that accurately nailed the content of my work. I've taken them from snippets of poetry and quotations from Shakespeare whose work is a gold mine of fantastic possibilities. Indeed, I found the title of my latest work, The Serpent's Bite, in that famous quote by Lear, "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!" It hits the mark about the content of this novel with deadly accuracy.

 

I've always admired the titles of Hemingway, masterpieces of accuracy, nuance and subtlety. Few are better than A Farewell to Arms and For Whom The Bells Toll, and an all-time favorite of mine is Gone With the Wind, which is beautifully said and chillingly accurate. Another all-time favorite of mine is The Red and the Black, by Stendahl, subtly delineating the central focus of the main character's ambitions, the red of the Army and the black of the clergy.

 

        

 

Thomas Hardy was a master of titles: Jude the Obscure and The Return of the Native to mention just two of many. Some wonderful titles stick in my craw, not because they are not brilliant but, for some reason, I could never fully master their content. They are One Hundred Years of Solitude and Under the Volcano.

 

        

 

 

But then, by and large, a great title is an art form unto itself. Indeed, a great title does not necessarily signify a great book and vice versa.

 

It has always been a source of great curiosity to me to understand the psychology of "titling." Do titles really help in making reading choices or are they merely identifying pointers? I'd like to hear what you think.

 

 


Treadmill by Warren Adler 

Published: September 15th 2014 by Stonehouse Productions

 

Jack Cooper is an unhappy man; mind, body, and spirit. In the blink of an eye, he lost his job to the bad economy, his mother to a fatal illness, and his wife to her secret lover. Beaten, broken, and crippled by tragedy, he withdraws into total isolation, maintaining the simplest of routines in order to block out his pain. Cooper’s day begins with a strenuous workout at the Bethesda Health Club—his personal oasis where his mind and body are free—and ends inside his bare apartment, where Cooper escapes into his library of novels until he finally loses himself in sleep. Nothing more, nothing less. That is, until he meets the enigmatic Mike Parrish. 

 

Stolen from the hospital as a newborn, and passed around from household to household, Parrish has no official identification. To the government and the world at large, he

does not exist. He is an anonymous drifter, but also the first person who breaks through Cooper’s emotional confinement. Cooper finds solace in his friendship with Parrish, a man who understands his plight and is sympathetic to his pain. 

 

But then Parrish suddenly disappears, leaving Cooper to search for a virtually invisible man. As he looks for clues as intangible as ghosts, and chases leads as fleeting as shadows, his search leads him back to the one place he called his refuge: the Bethesda Health Club.

 

How much can be taken from a man before he has nothing to lose?

The book is available at Amazon

 

 

 

TREADMILL Giveaway 

 

Stolen from the hospital as a newborn, and passed around from household to household, Parrish has no official identification. To the government and the world at large, he does not exist. He is an anonymous drifter, but also the first person who breaks through Cooper’s emotional confinement. Cooper finds solace in his friendship with Parrish, a man who understands his plight and is sympathetic to his pain.

 

Win Treadmill by Warren Adler

 

 

 AMERICAN QUARTET Giveaway

 

AMERICAN QUARTET is the first book in the Fiona Fitzgerald mystery series. soon to be made into the new TV Series CAPITOL CRIMES.

 

When a string of inexplicable murders rocks the hallowed streets of central D.C., Fiona finds herself charging through shadows of a mysterious conspiracy. Faced with an investigation with no leads and a rising body count, Fiona's reputation as top investigator of the Miami Division is called into question.

 

Win American Quartet by Warren Adler  

 

 

 

         

        

 

  view all book on Warren Adler's author page

 

Announcement - BookLikes Down for Maintenance on Monday

On Monday BookLikes will be down for maintenance for several hours. Don't worry and don't go far. We'll be back packed with new energy and ready for new book adventures.

 

To survive Monday stay safe and sound in bed with your books.

 

Reading Challenge Redesigned - Reading Stats, Part One

We’ve polished up your Reading Challenge, now you can compare your annual goals, check which book was a page turner, and keep track of your reading history week by week. More reading stats are coming soon. 

 

You can find your Reading Challenge Page by click the headline of the reading challenge timeline visible on your Dashboard.

 

If you haven’t set up your goal for 2014 yet, there's still time. Go to Reading Challenge tab in Goodies, set your reading goal, and be prepared for the intensive 4 months of the reading pleasure.

 

 

Your new Reading Challenge page presents

several reading information:

 

1. Fast read & page count - you’ll always know how many pages have you read so far, and which book was a real page turner.

 

 

 

2. Your challenge books list presents your reading history with re-read dates, your rating stars, and links to the reviews. 

 

The list is updated according to the read dates, remember to fill up the Dates to make the book count to your challenge. You can easily update the dates on the Reading Challenge page. 

 

  

3. Reading chart allows you to keep track of your reading achievements per months and per weeks.

 

 

4. Reading Challenges Year by Year compares your goals and achievements in the particular years.

 

 

You can easily switch between the years - your reading challenge years are visible on the top of the page, at the bottom, and on the right.

 

 

Discover Reading Challenges of Other Bloggers

 

You can also check how other BookLikers are doing. There are several ways to check what others are reading in their Reading Challenges. 

 

1. Go to Reading Challenge tab in Goodies to view the most recent challenges and their reading history. Press view challenge books to go to Reading Challenge page. 

 

 

 

2. To view other's challenged books click the Reading Challenge widget on the blog.

 

 

 

Then you'll view the blogger's reading history:

 

 

 

Add Reading Challenge Widget to Your Blog

 

If you haven't added the widget to your blog yet, it's high time. It's a great way to show your reading goals, and share your reading history with your blog guests. 

 

To add widget to your BookLikes blog follow the steps:

1. go to Widget tab (in Goodies)

2. copy code for the Reading Challenge Widget

3. go to the customization tab (the link to the tab is right under the widget code)

4. paste the code in the Widget Area

5. save

The Reading Challenge Widget will be added to your blog. If you want to add other widgets (Shelf, Profile etc...) follow the same steps. You can add as many widgets in the Widget Area as you wish. 

 

If you wish to add the widget to your other webpage, copy/paste the HTML into your other website code. 

 

 

P.S. We love the idea of the book bricks. Click here to see more lovely DIY bookends and bookshelf accessories. 

Seven Books With Cool Schools

Hey, it's back-to-school time! If you cannot stand this thought, read the books under the desk (hush, hush), and visit 7 schools from books that make yours look boring.

 

 

 

1. Hogwarts

  

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a school of magic for children aged eleven to eighteen. Hogwarts is divided into four houses, each bearing the last name of its founder: Godric Gryffindor, Salazar Slytherin, Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff.

 

              

 

 

 

 

2. Hecate Hall (Hex Hall)

 

Hecate Hall (also known as Hex Hall) is a three-story reformatory school built in 1854 for Prodigium children ages twelve to seventeen. Once a student has been sent to Hecate, they are not released until their eighteenth birthday. It is located in Graymalkin Island, just off the coast Georgia. The classes are based on some found at other boarding schools: Prentiss is a boarding school for witches, Mayfair a boarding school for faeries, and Gervaudan a boarding school for shapeshifters. A new program allowed vampires to attend Hecate. Every year Hecate would take in a young vampire to study with Prodigium in hopes they would reform. (via)

 

       

 

 

 

 

3. Battle School

 

Battle School is a school where young, brilliant boys and (rarely) girls are sent to be   trained to become officers and commanders of the International Fleet. Battle School is in space, and only few children are chosen to go there. Children are taken to Battle School at very young age of 5 or 6 years old. They are taught academic subjects, like heavy grounding in mathematics and science, a setup for work in space but the real evaluation is in battle simulations. 

 

 

 

 

 

4. St. Vladimir's Academy

 

St. Vladimir's Academy is a boarding school where Moroi and the guardian novices are educated. It is located in the deep forests of Montana and protected with charmed wards placed just outside the school grounds. St Vladimir’s Academy is named after a Moroi saint who was dedicated to spiritual practices and went to particular lengths in order to further the special bond between Moroi and their guardians. (via)

 

            

 

 

 

5. Welton Academy

 

Welton Academy is a conservative school in Vermont. Welton, like many prep schools, admitted only boys. The boys create a secret club, Dead Poet's Society. They met in a cave to discuss poetry, philosophy and other topics.

 

 

 

 

 

6. Wayside School

 

Wayside School was supposed to be composed of thirty classrooms, on one story. However, the builder constructed a thirty story building with an extra large playground. The higher one climbs, the stranger the people and the weirder the incident.

 

 

 

 

 

7. The Xavier's School

for Gifted Youngsters

  

The Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters is a special institute created by Professor Charles Xavier to train young mutants in controlling their powers and help foster a friendly human-mutant relationship. 

 

 

headline picture via

Show Your Book Blog In a Nutshell - Profile Widget

 

A new profile widget can be your calling card, business card, and an invitation. Let your readers hear you, let them see you, let them read you. Show you blog info in a nutshell.

 

A new widget has been added to Widgets Page (Goodies). First decide which information would you like to reveal, just tick the boxes and the details will pop up on the preview widget on the right.

 

 

Once your widget is ready, copy the code and paste it into the Widget Area in a customization tab on BookLikes (Settings/Blog->Customize), or copy/paste the HTML into your other website code.

 

 

What's even more cooler is the fact that your readers can explore your BookLikes blog, and your activity. By clicking the details on the widget, your guests will be moved to your BookLikes places, e.g.

 

- by clicking the Reading Challenge Note, your guests will be moved to your Reading Challenge Page,

- by clicking the number of shelves, they will visit your BookLikes Shelf page,

- by clicking the number of your Discussion, they will see your Discussion stats.

 

Each data/number is a link that reveals something about you, your books, and your book blog on BookLikes.  

 

 

Update

 

We're added a report button to BookLikes' author pages.

 

 

If you notice that the information on the page should be added or corrected, let us know by using the form. Thank you. 

 

 

 

Author Talks: Libby Fischer Hellmann

Author Talks: Libby Fischer Hellmann

 

Please welcome author Libby Fischer Hellmann in BookLikes' Author Talks. 

 

Libby Fischer Hellmann is a fiction crime writer known from gripping thrillers and strong female characters. She has published 12 novels and 20 short stories. On BookLikes Libby talks about her writing path, her inspirations and the most recent release. She also explains why writing a fiction novel is the hardest thing.  

 

You can find Libby Hellmann on BookLikes, follow her blog where she shares the publishing and bookshelf updates: Libby Fischer Hellmann

 

And one more thing, to win one of Libby's books, just read on. 

 

 

It wasn’t always about the writing. You’re graduated with a BA in History, worked in television and in the PR, since 1985 you’re the owner of Fischer Hellmann Communications. How did it happen that you’ve become a fiction writer?

 

Funny about that. I was always a voracious reader. Mostly for escape. But sometimes for information. My mother was and continues to be a big mystery reader, so of course, I never wanted to read mysteries. But I did read a lot of thrillers, and eventually I started reading mysteries too. Some novels were so good I’d say to myself, “If I can write a paragraph as well as James Lee Burke, I’ll die happy.

 

And there were others I’d throw across the room and say, “I can do better than that.” Ultimately those two attitudes came together, and I started to write. Actually I just blogged about the “spark” that lit the fire…it’s an amusing story. If readers are interested, they can find that blog right here

 

 

Your first novel released in 2002, And Eye for Murder, features Ellie Foreman, a video producer. You’ve also worked as a film editor, assistant director, and producer. How does you life experiences influence your work and your book characters?

 

They say write what you know. And I did know a bit about video production. So I figured, let’s make Ellie a producer, and at least I won’t have to do too much research about that. Of course, since I started writing Ellie, video production has changed dramatically (everything is now digital) so I ended up having to do the research anyway.

 

All kidding aside, though, one of the major benefits of having been a film/video producer is that I see things visually. Every chapter is a scene, and I have to see it in my mind’s eye, complete with establishing shots, close-ups, pans, and dollies, in order to write it. If I can’t see it, it doesn’t get written.

 

 

How long does it take to write a book? Can you tell our readers about the writing process and its phases?

 

I’m a slow writer. It takes me about a year. Mostly because I second-guess myself all the time. Writing fiction is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I want to make sure I’m doing it right. Plus, now that I’m pretty much retired from my day job, I’m in no hurry.

 

The phases a writer goes through—or at least this writer does— are circular:

 

-- This is going to be the best story in the world

-- Hmm. How am I going to do this?

-- Who did I think I was? I can’t write. Everyone is going to see through me.

-- Well, maybe that chapter wasn’t so bad.

-- Jeez… when is this dog going to be finished?

-- It’s done! Now I can edit! Yay!
-- I love this story.

 

 

Today is the official release day of your newest crime thriller, Nobody’s Child. Congratulations! Can you tell us more about your brand new novel and what are you working on right now?

 

Nobody’s Child is the 4th installment in my Georgia Davis PI series. It’s a dark book – in it, Georgia discovers she has a half-sister she never knew about. But that sister is in big trouble.

 

I explore sex trafficking, baby farms, the Russian mafia, and more. It actually took me years to write this book. I started 4 years ago, but then put it aside and wrote 3 stand-alone historical thrillers instead. It was finally time to come back to Georgia. Next is going to be a new Ellie Foreman novel! As soon as I finish a novella about the Manhattan Project.

 

 

Your books are mainly thrillers, suspense mysteries and crime stories. Why have you decided to explore & describe the crime world?

 

They are the type of books that interest me as a reader. I love to explore the depths of evil to which humans can sink, and I also love the fact that in most cases, the “bad guy” is caught at the end, and justice is served. But there’s another compelling reason I love crime fiction.

 

At the beginning of a story, the world of the story is in order. Very quickly, though, that order turns into chaos as a crime is committed. It’s the job of the protagonist (whether a professional or amateur sleuth) to restore order. I love that concept, and I enjoy presenting a puzzle that needs to be completed so that the protagonist can restore order and serve justice. In that sense, mysteries aren’t that different from Westerns, which share the same dynamics. I’m not drive to write a Western, however.

 

 

Can you tell our readers where the ideas come from and how do you develop the plot? Do you consult the crimes with a police, detective, a lawbreaker?

 

I ALWAYS consult with the police, detectives, and other law enforcement people. For example, I’ll talk to defense lawyers and/or prosecutors if I’m writing a trial scene or need to understand procedure; I’ll also talk to a medical examiner, doctors, stockbrokers, car hobbyists, anyone I need to in order to get it right. Still, every once in a while, an error creeps in, and it’s painful. I never want anymore to throw my book across the room and say “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”

 

As for ideas and where they come from, the best explanation I can give is a video I made several years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A12QZfoxOKA&feature=youtu.be

 

 

Do you have any writing habits, like working with your favorite coffee mug, writing the drafts with your lucky pencil, or inventing the plot under the shower?

 

Not really. I write anywhere and anytime I can. But I’m not as disciplined as I used to be.

 

Years ago I used to write for an hour or two every morning when I was fresh. Now, unfortunately, the demands of marketing and promotion tend to overshadow the writing. I wish that wasn’t the case. The problem is, as I mentioned before, that writing fiction is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

 

It’s much easier for me to whip up a blogpost, answer interview questions, or create events than to write a paragraph of fiction. I honestly don’t know how I wrote the last three novels. I can’t remember writing them. All I remember is the promotion before during and after I wrote them. Sad, isn’t it…



Have you ever experienced or witnessed a dangerous situation, similar to the ones described in your novels?

 

Thankfully, no. I live a sheltered life in white picket fence land and hope I always will. The worst thing that happened to me was being mugged in downtown Chicago. I wasn’t injured, fortunately. Now I keep fraud alerts on all my credit cards and have a burglar alarm.

 

 

You grew up in Washington but most of your novels and stories are set in Chicago, and you’re even called a Chicago mystery writer. What’s between you and Chicago? ;-)

 

I moved to Chicago in 1978, so I’ve lived here over 35 years. It’s home now, and always will be. DC was more or less a unrealistic city where the only industries are government and international relations, plus the people who serve them. Chicago is a REAL city, with real crime, real graft and real corruption. It’s a city of light, but often a city of dark too. I love the contrast between the two. That’s one of the reasons I edited the wonderful anthology CHICAGO BLUES – to explore the light vs the dark.

 

In DC, it’s who you know and the old boys’ (or girls’) networks that run the city. But in Chicago I’ve always had the sense that if you have a good idea and you’re willing to work for it, you can make it. Plus, have you ever tried to live through August in Washington? It’s Dante’s hell. I wrote an essay about Chicago, called “I Moved to Chicago for the Weather,” and readers can find it here.



So far you’ve written book series (The Ellie Foreman Mysteries, The Georgia Davis Mysteries), stand alone thrillers (Set the Night on Fire, A Bitter Veil, Havana Lost) and many short stories. Which format is the most comfortable for you, and how do you choose what to write next?

 

The story dictates the format. Sometimes I realize that a story is better suited to being short; other times it naturally expands into a novel. The trickiest format is a novella – I’m never sure whether it should expand or contract.

 

 

You’re a successful writer. Your books were highly acclaimed by critics, and what’s the most important, the readers. What would be your advice for aspiring writers, and those struggling to get published? How to be successful, and does it mean that you’re fulfilled as a writer?

 

That’s a difficult question, because writers have different reasons for writing. I like to tell stories, and when people enjoy them, I’m happy. I hate the process of writing, though (I said earlier it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done).

 

Still, when I hold a book in my hands after it’s published, it seems like a miracle. And when I think that I’ve done this 11 times, now, I’m amazed. I never knew I had it in me.

 

 

 

What are you reading now? 

       

 

 

Paper books or e-book? Why?

Both. Depends where I am, what I’m in the mood for. I love the convenience of my Kindle, and I love the feel of a book. I am listening to a lot more audiobooks too.

 

 

Can you choose one favorite book character from your books? Why?

My favorite character from my books – it’s hard to choose a favorite, so instead I’ll choose the easiest.

 

It’s Jake Foreman, father of Ellie Foreman (my first series protagonist). I’m not sure what it is but whenever he jumps onto the page, he practically writes himself. I never know what he’s going to say, but it’s always the right thing. He’s funny too, and can’t help stealing whatever scene he’s in. I’ve always wondered where he came from since he’s nothing like my own father. I suppose he’s the father I wished I’d had.

 

 

What titles won your heart? Recommend must-reads for our readers.

      

 

 

Your favorite quotes?

I think a lot of quotes are meaningful, but my all time favorite is attributed to Maya Angelou but really was coined by novelist  Pamela Redmond Satran:

Every woman should have a set of screwdrivers, 

a cordless drill, and a black lace bra.

 

What’s your favorite writing and reading spot?

Our readers would love to see some photos ;-)

 

  

 
Thank you, Libby. It was a real pleasure. 
 
And here's a candy from Libby Hellmann to BookLikes bloggers: Nobody's Child Giveaway! You can't miss it! Enter to win giveaway :

 

Giveaway: Libby Fischer Hellmann

 

You can find books by Libby Fischer Hellmann on BookLikes:

           

and more on the Author Page  

 

 

Read other talks on BookLikes

Author Talks on BookLikes: 

Literary Inspirations of Rayne Hall

Author Talks: Elizabeth Watasin, Part One

Author Talks: Elizabeth Watasin, Part Two

Author Talks: Ned Hayes, Part One

Author Talks: Ned Hayes, Part Two

Author Talks: John Biggs

Author Talks: Lauren B. Davis, Part One

Author Talks: Lauren B. Davis, Part Two

 

Blog Talks on BookLikes:  

Book Blog Talks: Happy Books, Part One

Book Blog Talks: Happy Books, Part Two

Book Blog Talks: The Happy Booker, Part One

Book Blog Talks: The Happy Booker, Part Two

Discover Books and Plan Your Reading with Reading Lists

 

Who doesn’t like reading lists? They are great to discover new titles, plan your reading ahead, and help complete reading challenges. So... don't wait up. Create your reading lists and schedule your reading with your friends' listings.

 

Each BookLikes member can create a reading list, compare books on the list with the titles on the shelf and sign up to a given list. 

 

The new section, Reading Lists, can be found in the main menu just under the Book Catalog. Creating a list is easy as a book search: add your list's title and select books.

 

 

If you like the list, you can check how many books have you already read from the list and sign up to complete it. 

 

 

 

The new Reading List page will show several views: lists added by you, the most recently created lists, lists added by people you follow, and your friends' picks.

 

The list directory will help you to explore trending lists and decide where to start your reading, and what to read to finish up your annual reading challenge

 

 

If you decide to create a private list, the listing will be visible only to you, other members won't be able to look it through or sign up. 

 

 

The following quote from T.S. Eliot is perfect for today:

I love reading another reader’s list of favorites. Even when I find I do not share their tastes or predilections, I am provoked to compare, contrast, and contradict. It is a most healthy exercise, and one altogether fruitful.

 

Author Talks: Lauren B. Davis, Part Two

 

It's time for the second part of the interview with author Lauren B. Davis. Are you ready for great book recommendations, quotes and advice for aspiring writers? Let's get started. 

 

If you missed the first part of the interview, go here: Author Talks: Lauren B. Davis, Part One

 

 

 

You write mainly literary fiction. Do you read books from the same literary genre?

 

I read just about everything.  Literary, memoir, thriller, essays, history, fantasy, poetry, horror – in fact I just finished a marvelous collection of horror short stories called Lake Monsters of North America by Nathan Ballingrud, in which all the monsters are really some psychological aspect of the characters’.  

 

I care not a fig about genre limitations; I care only about great writing.

 

 

Do you read books during your writing process? Do they influence your work?

 

I read masses for research.  Against a Darkening Sky demanded a very long reading list, well over a hundred books.  But apart from that, I don’t ever stop reading.  My Best Beloved laughs at me, since I always have a book by the bathroom sink, to read while brushing my teeth, applying body lotion and drying my hair.  Short stories are excellent bathroom reads.  

 

Does my reading influence my work?  I hope so, since I love reading writers I admire.  

 

 

What are you working on right now?

 

My novel, Against A Darkening Sky, will be out with HarperCollins Canada and ChiZine Publication (US) in April 2015, and so I'm fiddling around with the last bits of that.  

 

All the major editorial work has been done, but there are always last minute things, and the cover and publicity and so forth.  It's an exciting phase, and at the same time utterly psychosis-inducing, while one waits. . . the book is set in 7th century Northumbria and is the story of Wilona, a seeress and healer whose life and way of being in the world are threatened by the coming of Christianity; and Egan, a young monk from Eire whose visions may have brought him to Christ, but whose experience of the sacred puts him at odds with the Roman church.  

 

It's full of magic and mystery, and explores what happens when one’s experience and beliefs clash with those of the people in power.  It was great fun to research, and involve a trip to England that My Best Beloved refers to as The Angle-Saxon Forced March Northwards.  You can read a little bit about it here and here and here and here.  Hard to believe it's really been six years since that trip.  Books take a long time to write.

 

I'm also completing a third draft of another novel, called (for the moment) The Grimoire.  This one's inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen as well as the deaths of my brothers (they both committed suicide, which I've written about here.) I can't say much more about it just yet, as I haven't handed it off to my agent.  But I will say that it involves a woman who is the guardian of a bookstore no one goes into unless they are fated to do so and the name of the bookshop is The Grimoire.  I suspect this mirrors my belief that readers find the stories they're meant to find.

 

I'm also making preliminary notes on another novel, about which I cannot speak.  It's quite dangerous, I find, to talk about a novel until at least the first draft is out.  If I talk about it, it diffuses the energy of the words on the page.  I've watched in horror as a book or two slipped through my careless fingers this way.

 

On top of that, I'm working on two short stories.  I can't talk about them at all, since they are still so unformed. I just got back from the 13th Annual International Short Story Conference in English (the longest name in conferences), and I have a head full of stories all pushing and shoving and trying to get out.

 

 

You run a writers workshop - this sounds like a hard work and a lot of fun. What have You learnt during your workshops?

 

Teaching keeps me connect to craft, and it gives me a community of writers.  Having to explain to an emerging writer why their piece isn’t working forces me to consider the same things about my own work!  

 

And I also enjoy reading books about the craft and preparing the lecture notes – all that contributes to my own development as a writer. Besides, it’s inspiring to see emerging writers improve, to watch their work take shape and mature.  

 

 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

 

If you can NOT write, you should probably do that.  But if you MUST write, then approach it as a concert violist approaches music, or an Olympic athlete sport; in other words, expect to study long and hard and practice long and hard.

 

Don’t be in a big rush to publish. I know it feels urgent, but it’s not. There’s time, and publishing too early, before the work is ready, can be so discouraging you might never publish again. Then who knows what might have been lost because you rushed.  It’ll say it again: study your craft.  Practice.  

 

Focus on the writing, not on the publishing.  Publishing is an entirely different beast than writing.  One writes because it is a way of living, a way of processing experience, of making meaning and, at least in my case, of staying sane.  Publishing is business.  

 

And you must read. I can’t tell you how many students come to me and when I ask them what they’re reading, they tell me they don’t like reading.  They are unlikely to become writers. Read. Read. Read.

 

To be a writer, you must be disciplined.  You must get yourself to the page and you must fill the page with words and do that over and over and over again.  There is no magic ritual to help you with this.  It’s your desire, our self-discipline and perseverance that will make the difference.  

 

Expect to edit, edit, revise, revise, revise, often for years.  If a student tells me they only like writing the first draft and then don’t want to be bothered with a story or novel again, just like the person who doesn’t read, they are unlikely to become writers.

 

Lots of people publish books.  Few people are writers. Being a writer is a point of view, a way of being.  Writing is a practice, like meditation or prayer. You have to keep at it day after day, even when it seems like absolutely nothing good is happening. Perhaps especially then. 

 

 

Are you a book collector or a book giver?

 

Collector and recommender. I want people to buy books. It supports authors and publishers.  

 

 

What books won your heart?

Which titles would you recommend?

 

So many wonderful books out there – here’s a smattering of books that have impressed me in the past year or so…

 

  Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.  A debut novel set in Iceland, about the final days of a woman about to be executed for murder.  Yes, it’s dark, but it’s also beautifully written and psychologically complex, drawing the reader in as an active participant to the moral quandary at the novel’s heart.

 

A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon by Anthony Marra.  Another debut novel that introduces a terrific writer.  The setting here is Chechnya and the moral dilemmas are profound.  The point of view ought not to work – digressing as it does for even the minor characters – but it does work, in part because it makes the book much larger than the narrative itself, almost turning it into a work of philosophy, or theology. Impressive.

 

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy – Although I originally read this a very long time ago, it remains one of my favorite books. Perhaps the greatest depiction of the repercussions of untreated alcoholism and the 'dry drunk' I've ever read.

 

The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative By Thomas King --It should certainly be required reading for anyone who cares about stories, First Nations people, history, religion or politics (and particularly the #IdleNoMore Movement).

 

Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese -- A wonderful book. Subtle, profound, deeply moving and beautifully written. It should be on everyone's reading list. He has a new one coming out in 2014, which I can't wait for, and I've another of his books on my to-read list.  What can I say?  I'm a fan.

 

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating: A True Story by Elisabeth Bailey -- As astonishing as it may sound, reading about seriously ill woman finding companionship with a wild snail who lives next to her sick bed is an experience both profound and moving. It is a meditation on life with the microcosm of a gastropod's life serving as the symbol for the majesty, mystery, tenacity and downright lushness of existence itself. A slim volume which is far greater than the number of its pages, it's a book I will no doubt read again. In truth, I became surprisingly attached to the little snail.

 

My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer by Christian Wiman -- This is an utterly astonishing book -- complex, thoughtful, elegiac, Wiman's book of essays are a profound medication on faith and poetry and the search for meaning. 

 

All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West -- Beautiful book. Just as inspiring and relevant today as when it was first published in 1931. 

 

 

 

 A Lost Lady by Willa Cather -- Cather's perfect novel. Not only a portrait of a disturbing, complicated woman, but also a vivid, haunting evocation of a disappearing vision and way of life.

 

The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin - There's no doubt this book will offend some folks, but that's a pity. What a glorious, earthy, REAL woman Toibin has created in this Mary. She's so much more than the bloodless virgin of myth.

 

The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy -- Every library should include a copy of The Death of Ivan Ilyich, every serious reader should read it, at least once. 

 

 

 

Any favorite quotes?

 

Many, but for now, I’ll stick with two:  

 

 

 

 

Thank you Lauren! It was great. 

 

 

You can find books by Lauren B. Davis on Booklikes:

   

 

Read other talks on BookLikes

Author Talks on BookLikes: 

Literary Inspirations of Rayne Hall

Author Talks: Elizabeth Watasin, Part One

Author Talks: Elizabeth Watasin, Part Two

Author Talks: Ned Hayes, Part One

Author Talks: Ned Hayes, Part Two

Author Talks: John Biggs

Author Talks: Lauren B. Davis, Part One

 

Blog Talks on BookLikes: 

Book Blog Talks: Happy Books, Part One

Book Blog Talks: Happy Books, Part Two

Book Blog Talks: The Happy Booker, Part One

Book Blog Talks: The Happy Booker, Part Two