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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 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?
One of my favorites from Hitchhikers.
Thank you, Rachel!
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