Please welcome Sandy to Musings of a Bookish Kitty!
Literary Feline: Welcome, Sandy! I am excited to have you here today. I thought I would start off with an easy question: how do you like to start off your morning?
Sandy: Well, I’m usually the first one up each morning, which is usually around 5am. My one and only goal is to get to the computer! This gives me a good 45 minutes to an hour to read e-mails, do my blog socializing, work on a post, and do a little Facebooking before everyone starts to stir. Once the kids get up, I am making lunches, ensuring all appropriate things are in the backpacks (homework, projects, canned goods for donation, etc.), throwing a load of laundry in the washing machine, and sometimes reading to the kids while they eat their breakfasts.
Literary Feline: Besides reading and books, what are some of your other interests, hobbies or passions?
Sandy: I absolutely LOVE to cook. This has been a newly-acquired passion, since I quit working four and a half years ago. I never had time to bother with it before, but now I am able to experiment and try some exotic things. Unless the kids have a late activity after school, I will cook a meal each night. And what goes hand in hand with cooking? Wine! My husband and I are a couple of glasses short of being considered winos. If we are anywhere near California when we travel, we always make time for a quick stop in Napa/Sonoma. We have a couple of wine fridges, and we collect as well as drink. It doesn’t hurt that a very good friend of ours owns a wine shop! We also love to travel (sometimes with the kids, and sometimes not), and we like to play golf.
Literary Feline: How did you get started blogging about books?
Sandy: If you would have told me a year ago that I would have a book blog, I would have said “No. Way.” Too intimidating! I love to write, but am a little shy about it. However, my sister has had a movie blog for awhile, and I’d always been impressed and envious of her moxie. Via e-mail last October, I mentioned to her that I wanted to be a part of a book club, but there was nothing viable near me. Most of the book clubs that I am aware of spend most of their time gossiping and eating, and not near enough time on the book itself! I swear, I would rip my hair out! Anyway, my sister said, “Well, why not start your own book blog? It’s free. You read like a maniac and always have recommendations. What do you have to lose? I’d read your blog!” I sat there at my computer, chewing on that for awhile. I got butterflies in my stomach. But once I started thinking about it, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I launched myself into the project with an almost religious fervor.
Literary Feline: Has blogging impacted your reading? If so, how?
Sandy: Yes it actually has. Before I started blogging, I was much more relaxed about reading. I could never NOT be reading a book, but never felt any sense of urgency. Now I do, a little. I know this isn’t good! It’s not that I’m not enjoying the reading, but I’ve found that if I stumble on a book that takes longer to read, I get very twitchy. I guess because I am new at this, I worry that I need to keep the posts coming, and always have something fresh going on. I acknowledge I need to chill out! On the positive side, I am reading a way more diverse spectrum of books than I used to (see the next question!). I am also more aware of the different elements of a story and its characters, because I’m going to have to review it. Before I gave very little thought to writing styles, technique, character development, etc.
Another impact that blogging has had on my reading involves my kids. They are 11 and 9. My daughter, the 11 year old, has always been an avid reader. My son, not so much. He can’t sit still long enough. I had quit reading to them ages ago, back when they were able to read themselves. However, I recently started following Carrie’s blog (@ Books and Movies), and saw that we had kids the same age, and that she read to them all the time. This was like an epiphany for me. I started not only reading to my kids aloud, but also listening to audio books in the car. They absolutely love it. They even help me sometimes with the reviews. I can see that this has truly enriched their lives, and even lured my son back to books again. I’ve exposed them to some fabulous books and authors, and I think will be something that they look back on with fond memories.
Literary Feline: What types of books do you like to read? And do you blog about every book that you do read?
Sandy: Before I started blogging, I would get most of my recommended books from friends and Entertainment Weekly. For the most part, I read murder/mystery/thriller books, particularly series. I did stray off the path, but not much. About the time I started blogging, I had decided I needed to stop reading trashy paperbacks and start reading some “real” literature. Perfect timing! It is amazing how the wonderful blogging community has open my eyes to genres I’d never touched before. I read just about everything now, with some exceptions. I don’t think I’ve ever read a graphic novel. And very few short stories. I need to work on these genres. I may sign up for some reading challenges eventually that will push me in those directions. I do review everything I read, because I signed up for the Read and Review Challenge! Sometimes it is hard to keep up, but so far, so good…
Literary Feline: Do you have any reading routines, rituals or habits?
Sandy: I have a few, but my life is pretty crazy so I have to read when I can. I do love to take walks several times a week with my audio books. Sometimes I don’t want to stop walking, when I get to an exciting part of the story! I also will always be listening to an audio when I am cleaning the house or doing my yardwork. (I’ve fallen into the pool with my iPod on before, so I have to be careful!) This is a great way to forget that I’m doing a undesirable chore. And I almost always read before bed. Rarely does that last very long, but I try to keep my eyes open for as long as I can. If I get a moment to sit down, I have a reading/drinking chair…a big overstuffed thing that two people could fit into…in my living room, where I will curl up and read. This is also where I sit when my husband and I share a glass of wine and talk about our day.
Literary Feline: How do you pull yourself out of a reading or blogging slump or what steps do you take to avoid that from happening?
Sandy: This is a tough question. As far as reading slumps, the only ones I have is when it takes too long for me to get through a book. I get anxious. But I try pretty hard to alternate short books with long ones, WWII ones with lighter reads, just to make sure I don’t get burned out. If I stumble across a book that I don’t like, I’ll drop it and move on. I just did this actually, about a week ago. This does not happen all that often though. I put time into researching what I want to read, and will rarely just grab something without knowing what I’m getting into. As far as blogging slumps, I haven’t hit one of those yet. I’m too new I guess! I just can’t shut myself up…a problem I’ve had since I was young!
Literary Feline: Do you have any advice or tips for your fellow bloggers?
Sandy: Honestly, I don’t feel qualified to give advice. I need tips from everyone else! But if I must…I have found that the more social you are, visiting blogs and leaving comments, the more activity you will get in your own blog. People are innately curious, and will come check out this chatty person that won’t go away! It does take time, and I have trouble balancing my time away from the computer. I also try hard to respond to most comments that people leave on my blog. I’m not at the point yet where there are too many, so usually I can keep up. When you are a new blogger, try hard not to get your feelings hurt when it seems everyone else is getting awards. This I found very distressing at first. I felt left out and unloved, and when I got my first award I was over the moon. The awards will come with time.
Literary Feline: What are you reading right now? Do you have any book or author recommendations?
Sandy: I have four books going right now. I am very close to finishing “Before Women Had Wings” by Connie May Fowler. She is a favorite author of mine, a Floridian, who is the essence of the South, and an extremely talented writer. This particular book is very sad, about two girls growing up in an abusive household, but the book is still fabulous. I’m also in the middle of the Outlander Series (Diana Gabaldon) on audio, the current one being “Drums of Autumn”. This is a phenomenal series, but very lengthy. The current audio book is 39 discs, and I think the entire series is well over 200 discs. It is a commitment! The kids and I are reading the 39 Clues series in hard book, and we just finished an audio this morning called “The Kind of Friends We Used To Be”. Review forthcoming!
Literary Feline: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Sandy. It's been a pleasure having you here.
Be sure to stop by and visit Sandy over at You've GOTTA Read This!