Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Blog Interview: Bitten by Books

Posted by Simcha 4:04 PM, under | 23 comments

If you are a fan of Paranormal Romance or Urban Fantasy then Bitten by Books is the blog for you. The provocatively sexy banner will be sure to draw you in while the large variety of book reviews, interviews and contests will have you coming back again and again.

Rachel Smith, the founder of Bitten by Books, has taken some time from her busy schedule to answer a few questions for us about herself and her blog.


Hi Rachel. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with us.


Can you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself?


I have been an avid reader since the early 1970’s, and after my family, I'd have to say reading is my next big love. I mostly read paranormal fiction, although I also enjoy non-fiction, chic lit and books on esoteric subjects. In addition to running the Bitten by Books website, I create custom perfume blends for Fragrant Soul and blog about my favorite products at weirdstuffinmydesk.com. I have also worked as a spiritual counselor and teacher for many years.


Please tell me about your blog and what it is that makes it unique?


The focus of the Bitten by Books website is to provide book reviews for all types of paranormal fiction, urban fantasy and horror. Our reviewers share an avid love of all things paranormal, especially books! There's also the occasional fantasy or science fiction review, as sometimes authors overlap genres, or the genres incorporate one another. We take pride in offering our readers honest book reviews, author interviews, interesting guest blog spots and fun contests. I think the one thing that really makes the site unique is our large selection of author based events . Sure, the book reviews are great, but there is nothing quite like getting to "meet" an author and learning about the things that make their minds tick and drives them to create the literary selections we all love.


When and why did you start this blog?


I started Bitten by Books back in the spring of 2008, primarily so I could review books of my choice, in my own time frame. Of course, I am completely hooked on paranormal fiction, so that became the main focus of the site. I had no idea that the site would explode into the community it is today. There are lots of great review sites that focus on all kinds of genres, but there are not many that are specific to paranormal fiction and urban fantasy.


Is there a specific book that first got you interested in reading paranormal fiction?


There are several, but some of the very first were Kim Harrison's Hallows series and Keri Arthur's Riley Jensen series. I was very sick at the end of 2006, and basically couldn't leave my bed for almost a month. My husband, bless his heart, brought home the first two books in Keri Arthur's series and I was hooked. I can honestly say without remorse that he is the creator of the book-reading monster that I have become! My wishlist on bookmooch.com still has over 450 titles that I want to read!


From your blog, I can see that you have a very wide and diverse group of reviewers. How do you find the reviewers for your site?


We have people inquire all the time to be reviewers, and we have a standard procedure. Recently we put out a call to our readers for a limited amount of spots that have opened up. The response was overwhelming, and we are adding 12 new reviewers to our team this week! Our reviewers come from a wide variety of backgrounds, which really makes our site stand out because you won't see the same cookie-cutter reviews over and over. With over 50 reviewers, there's just about any style of review you can imagine. You can read more about our review team at http://bittenbybooks.com


From where do you get the books that you review?


The books come from publishers and authors. We do sometimes read and review our personal books, but that is much less common these days. At any given time we have over 1000 (yep that's right) reviews in process to be published on the site. We sometimes have a longer turn around time for reviews, but we feel that the end result is a better quality and well thought out review.


Have you ever had an author get upset with you for a negative review? If so, how did you deal with it?


This situation is bound to happen on any review site, and has only happened a few times with us. We have very clear Terms of Review that the authors agree to prior to us even accepting their work for review. That really helps keep things on an even keel. If an author is upset with a review, I simply remind them that we are each entitled to our own opinions and perceptions of body of work, and that there is no guarantee that every person who picks it up is going to like it. We don't remove reviews because an author doesn't agree with the reviewer, nor do we suppress freedom of speech. We do however make a concerted effort to provide constructive feedback and not bash an author to bits. We recognize that writing is an art form, and that much time and effort goes into creating a story. In the end, we feel that the readers of the site respect us more for being honest than for sugar-coating and potentially risking them spending money on something they may not like.


That being said, I have seen comments from readers on not-so-positive reviews that stated they would give the author the benefit of the doubt and try the book for themselves. This clearly shows that people are going to make up their minds to read what they want and are able to do so with or without our help. I don't necessarily believe one or two negative reviews to be the death knell of a novel. I have picked up hundreds of books that had bad reviews, only to find I really liked the books. In my opinion, review sites are really meant to be more of a tool to measure the merit of a book, versus a "you must or must not read this novel" kind of scenario.


What do you enjoy doing when you are not reading?


When I'm not reading or reviewing books, or generally hanging out online, I enjoy spending time with my husband, playing with my gaggle of doxons, and listening to music. I'm a Pacific Northwest native living in Kentucky, so I also spend a good amount of time pining for drive through coffee and Greek food!


If you could go out for coffee with any book character, who would you choose and why?


This week, I would say the vampire Merit from Chloe Neill's Chicagoland Vampires series. Merit and I have the same kind of snarky sense of humor, and I relate to her on many levels. I think we would have a good time, deliver some well deserved verbal smackdown, and paint the town red. (no pun intended)

Thank you so much for inviting me to your site and for your interest in BittenbyBooks.com!


And thank you Rachel for speaking with us. It was wonderful getting to know you and learning more about about your blog, Bitten by Books.

If you have any questions for Rachel, or would like to solicit her professional opinion on some good books to read, feel free to ask them here.





23 comments:

Thank you so much Simcha for having me and for this great opportunity to chat with folks. :)

I love your site and hope that you keep up the great work!

Rachel, I'd like to know how you first met the Prize Goddess who plays a prominent role at BBB.

Hi Heather!

As you know the Prize Goddess aka PG is a very ancient and powerful being. I met her in the spring of 2008 when we first started the site. It has been love ever since. And loudness. LOL

Thanks for stopping by!

Hey Rachel,
Just dropped by to say that I love your sight. I have found so many good books and authors since I started watching your sight. My questions for authors suck but, oh well. I love your sense of humor and you are sooooo nice. Thanks for all you do.

Good interview. :) A very interesting read.

And Rachel curious question...

What do you mean by "loudness"?

Hey Deanna H!

I think you ask great questions. :) It is so wonderful to hear that you like the site. I couldn't keep it together without all of our awesome reviewers and management team. And of course the support and encouragement from amazing readers like you.

Thank you for stopping by!

Hi Carmel!

It was good of you to stop by. :) The PG has a way with words on the written page that come across LOUD and clear.

he he he

Thanks for stopping by!

I'm one of Rachel's authors who have been reviewed by BBB and is currently having a contest/chat/interview on BBB.

Rachel, you have done so much for the Paranormal community (fans, writers, authors, publishers, etc), thank you!

I want to ask, besides taking care of BBB, what else do you do to fill your days (besides reading.:)

Cheers,

Karen Dales
http://www.thechosenchronicles.com

Hi Karen!

Thank you so much for stopping by, what an honor! :)

Lets see, that would be sleep. And not much of that!

I do enjoy spending time with my fur kids and watching some tv shows.
Current favs are:
Warehouse 13
Heroes
Survivor
Biggest Loser
True Blood
Medium
SVU Special Victims
Criminal Minds

We are pretty much (that would include my husband/son not a mouse in my pocket) geeky homebodies. LOL

Thanks for stopping by!

Doxon?

Hi, Rachel!

I'm another of Rachel's fans, and an author recently interviewed on BBB. What a lot of fun that was!

As you know, I think you and your site are great. I'm astonished to learn BBB has been around for just over a year. You have done an amazing job on it.

I'm pleased at last to know what you look like. (You're the one on the left, correct?)

My (second) question: You've read a lot of different kinds of books in your life. What is the underlying appeal of paranormal fiction for you? Not just what do you like in terms of fangs, but what does it speak to/satisfy/inspire in you? (Please don't say it inspires you to maim and maul.)

Hi Casey!

Doxon: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dachshund

Zee Veenaaa Dog! You can see pictures of mine on my Facebook photo album. We have uhhh 5. LOL

Yep BBB celebrated our one year anniversary in May. I can't believe it either. It has been a wild and wooly ride, but worth every minute of it.

I am the one on left, the bald guy with the beard. LOL (OMG you should see that beard now)

As to your second question, paranormal fiction appeals to me because I am a person who believes in the what if? My spiritual faith system (or whatever you want to call it) calls me to believe in the unbelievable, to have faith in the things around me. To be in touch with the elements and the earth to embrace the unknown to recognize the core center of truths in creation mythos and history. Of course this is just a small part of my belief system, but hopefully that conveys the general idea. :)

The maim and maul isn't a big part of it, but it is a balance of the yin/yang the darkness and the light. Paranormal fiction takes me those extra few steps into the what if's and right into the midst of "here we are". I love it on many levels.

Thanks so much for your kind words and for stopping by.

Rachel

Hi Rachel!

Love the site! And what a great interview. You have a fantastic team of reviewers! With everything that goes on with the site, how do you find time to get everything done in a day? :)

(and I think the Prize Goddess is cool! She's NEVER yelled at me! ;)

-Virginia

Hi Rachel,
How do you and Mark Henry know each other?

Hi Virginia!

We do have an amazing team of reviewers and an even more amazing review coordinator and management team. There is NO way I would get anything done without them.

Because of this team, I am able to get many of the things I am supposed to get done each day.

BBB is a full time job for me, not just a hobby. (not that there's anything wrong with hobby blogging). It is crucial to have people with you that believe in what you are doing and LOVE it as much as you do.

I think that is what makes BBB so special. :)

You are lucky that PG hasn't yelled at you. She's mad at me right now. LOL

Hey Cyd!

How are you? Got candy corn? ;)

Mark Henry....it is a long sordid story...okay maybe not. We just met through BBB. His book Happy Hour of the Damn with Glam Zombie Amanda Feral was the first book I reviewed on BBB when we opened our virtual doors.

We worked together on several events over the last year and a half. I did have the opportunity to meet him in person a few times along with other members of Team Seattle.

Mark is a riot, and is one funny man. He LOVES to take pictures by the way. The picture here in the interview is one that he took of us when we were having dinner in Seattle, just be fore we moved to KY.

Thanks for stopping by!

Great interview Rachel!

I'm wondering since you have done such a fantabulous job with BBB, have you ever considered doing a convention somehow featuring reviewers? I'm sure you could get some of your review minions to help! ;-)

As a bonus, if you did, you would be able to actually meet all of your reviewers!

Hi Becky!

Thanks for stopping by. :)

I have thought about doing a BBB get together of some kind. Maybe next spring?

The cool thing is a lot of them live in the same kind of area. Midwest/east coast. So maybe it would be doable.

Now that would be one big party! :)

Hi Rachel,
Do you have any specific good books or series that you recommend to start someone off on paranormal fiction.
tks!
~ahuva

Thanks so much Rachel for doing me the honor of being my first blog interview. I could see that it was a great choice (patting self on back) as the People obviously love you.

It was great getting to know you!

Simcha

Hi ahuva!

Thank you for stopping by.

Here are my must read series for Paranormal Fiction/Urban Fantasy

Jim Butcher - Dresden Files
Charlaine Harris - Sookie Stackhouse series
Jeaniene Frost - Night Huntress sereis
Yasmine Galenorn - Otherworld series
Kim Harrison - Rachel Morgan series
Julie Kenner - Kate Conner series
Chloe Neill - Chicagoland vampires series (she will be at our blog tomorrow for an interview if you want to stop by: http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=11412)
Keri Arthur - Riley Jensen series

That is a pretty healthy start. There are so many more great series/ and authors out.

Hope this helps!

Simcha!!

Thank YOU for having me. I have to tell you that my aunt loves your site and was thrilled to find so many links to free sci-fi books. So, keep up the great work. Love your site and you are awesome to work with.

Thanks again for having me!

Rach

Wonderful interview Simcha and hi Rachel. I am also a fan of BBB. I was told once to avoid hyperbole in a book review, what does that mean?

Hey Ana!

Thanks for stopping by. What a great question. ;)

Hyperbole is used for emphasis or humorous effect. With hyperbole, a writer makes a point by overstating something to get the point across and
evoke strong feelings or impressions.

One example is "I could eat a horse." (I'm really hungry) here's an extreme example of hyperbole. "The neighbors dog is so ugly they had to pay fleas to live on it."

I think some hyperbole in a review is okay. You would want to avoid overuse of it.

Thanks again for coming by!
Rachel

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