Interview with Caroline Barker, A Reader’s Review Blog by Mystery/Romance Author, Saylor Storm

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00017]A Reader’s Review Blog took part in author, Saylor Storm’s virtual blog tour of her recently released mystery, contemporary romance, Sue’s Seduction! During this Saylor Storm was interviewed by myself, and in turn posted an interview with me on her website. The interview covers, blogging, reviewing, inspirations and an insight into how it all began! Enjoy!

Caroline 🙂

CarolineAuthor, Saylor Storm’s interview questions for Caroline Barker of A Reader’s Review Blog, with regard to book blogging, in return for the blog tour for Sue’s Seduction!

How did you begin blogging?

After reading paperbacks quite heavily over 2010 and 2011, I decided to keep track of my reads, and later my opinions, on Goodreads – purely for personal reasons. When I bought my first Kindle I became a little obsessed in downloading some of the free reads by self-published authors, one of them being Tim O’Rourke. I became engrossed in his Keira Hudson series, and to my surprise, he had ‘liked’ some of my reviews of his work on Goodreads. After reading his early books of the series he suggested that I set up a book blog. As well as the suggestion from Tim, my close friend, Tina Williams (now co-blogger) and I used to meet up weekly and discuss our reads. Between us we thought a blog would be a great idea – we could keep tabs of all our reads and preferences as well as assist authors to promote their work. We did some research on book blogging and in October 2012, very late one evening, I decided to take the plunge and A Reader’s Review Blog was born!

Do you have a special time to blog or how is your day structured?

Most of my blogging is done late at night and in the early hours. I have three young children, my youngest still at home for the best part of the week, and therefore I do tend to juggle my time. I usually spend the daytimes corresponding with authors, publishers, bloggers etc, and also making many to-do lists. Whilst my youngest is at nursery, and during evenings, I spend my time reading. Even once I have scheduled posts, I retire to bed at 2 or 3am with my Kindle in hand to read before I drop off!

What motivates you?

First and foremost are probably the authors/publishers that request reviews. Once I have agreed to review their work I would hate to let them down. It can easily go unnoticed just how much time and effort it takes to write, and even though I do not currently write myself, I can imagine. And even once the book is written, it is a completely different task to promote it. I would then have to say the great stories themselves – I feel that people miss out on so many wonderful and brilliant characters and storylines. Reading a book is so much more than just watching a movie sometimes. As a reader you can visualize and interpret most for yourself and live in that book for a few days, opposed to just 2hrs with a movie. I also belive that Tina and myself motivate each other. Every time we meet up we both have new characters to talk about and share our take on different outcomes and maybe what we would have liked to have read, or simply go off on a tangent and create even more fantasy-like ideas!

Why do you blog?

See questions 1 and 3. We always hope we can introduce readers to something different to try and read, or something more within their favourite genres. At the same time, it is supporting authors and helping to promote some great reads. And, I enjoy keeping a log of what I like to read, my thoughts and what I will be reading. I like the idea of bringing authors and readers together and we have made some fantastic friends in doing so. It also provides another sense of purpose, as I am a stay-at-home mum currently, and blogging also allows me to express my feelings in regard to the books I am reading.

How do you use Facebook?

We use our Facebook page to link to posts we have added to our blog, to communicate with authors and readers and to help promote other author/publisher Facebook pages and their posts/works/books.

What challenges have you set for yourself?

Maybe the biggest challenge that I have certainly set for myself is the ever-growing reading list I have. I do hate to turn authors down (in regards ro review requests), however we have had to have a break of adding more to our lists until they have become a little lighter. I like to spend time focusing on one book at a time so that the author has my undivided attention. However, I have realized this is almost impossible. I also set a certain number of books that I like to read within that year with the Goodreads challenge.

Are you a brand?

I suppose one could associate us as being a brand as we do provide a service, we do have a distinctive logo (design Dark One, Shutterstock Images) and we have recently designed our business cards. However, the term brand hasn’t been one that has entered my mind. Maybe at a later date this may change.

What do you read, and how do you read it?

I like to read books from almost any genre. I like to adapt as some reads can be quite heavy, whilst some are light and refreshing. I think its good to have a change and it broadens my mind further. I like to read paperbacks and mobi (Kindle) copies. Paperbacks are more of a daytime/evening read for me, whilst I can read a Kindle any time, anywhere and even in bed with the lights turned off! I have read a paperback in the day, whilst reading my Kindle at night in the past. I can differentiate between the two books in this way. The Kindle, being compact, certainly helps if you are expecting to be in waiting rooms, or are a passenger on a long journey. I dislike reading pdf’s as they never look quite right on the Kindle, and my laptop can give me headaches if I stare for too long. Lucky I have a pdf converter to mobi!

What are you grateful for?

In life, I am grateful for my wonderful family and friends. I consider myself extremely lucky to have close people around and they are very supportive. In terms of blogging, I am always grateful for the books we receive in return for our reviews. I also appreciate it very much when authors respond positively and share our links. We have made some amazing author/blogger/reader friends along the way and for this I am also very grateful.

What are you good at?

It is always difficult for me to answer this one. I have never been very good at praising myself up. I like to think that I have an open mind and can empathize with situations. I love writing my reviews about the characters and the inter-relationships they have – probably moreso than the main storyline. I am a people person, even though it can take me some time to open up. I enjoy finding out what drives people. I also like to ensure that I reply to people, whether it be texts, e- mails, Facebook/Twitter comments. When writing reviews I do like to be honest, but at the same time (if it happens to be a story that I find difficult to read) I like to be fair and try to choose the good and the bad points to make a well-rounded review.

What would you most like to learn on your own?

Well, I would probably need some help along the way, but in terms of the blog, I would love to be able to display more graphics and artwork. I am not so arty and also not too good when it comes to web design. These are two areas I would love to learn. I also think that later on, when my little one is older, I would love to learn to write a novel myself and going through the self-publishing process.

Who inspires you?

Inspirations in the author world have to be Enid Blyton, Tim O’Rourke and J.R. Ward (amongst many others).These authors keep momentum, build strong characters for their audiences to love and create action and adventure superbly. I am also a huge fan of TV and movies. I am a fan of John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles). I love the characters and how they react towards one another – how they affect each other’s lives and the emotions involved. Shane Black (screenwriter – Lethal Weapon) is also another favorite. I always appreciate two strong characters forming a bond like no other, even if they are from opposite backgrounds. And, again, the action, adventure and even comedic value is brilliant. Not only that, but there is the tragic element of character Riggs having just lost his wife, and his whole attitude comes across as though he has just given up. Many of his colleagues feel he is mad and not up for the job (he’s a detective for those unfamiliar with the movie). And yet, he still goes to all lengths to ensure his partner’s safety and the safety of the public. Another one of my inspirations is Kurt Sutter (creator of tv series, Sons of Anarchy and writer on The Shield). I think Sutter is an absolutely amazing writer for the screen and never ceases to shock the audience at the same time as build up the drama from strength to strength.

What have you done to earn money?

In terms of A Reader’s Review Blog, we do not currently earn any money. Tina and myself volunteer our services for the sheer love of reading, reviewing and creating some great relationships with our authors and fans. It is possible that at a later date we may try different avenues in which earning may be a part but for now we are a non-profitable service.

Where is the line between truth and fiction?

Interesting question. I don’t feel there is a line. It’s kind of a grey area. Many fictional works have been based on fact, whether it be loosely or not. Authors may even add elements of their own experiences in there. Plus, in reality there have been some amazing events take place that you simply would never have imagined to write about and that can completely baffle people.

How productive and organized are you?

Depending on how much I have on in my private life does depend on how productive and organized I am with the blog. I am a stickler for writing lists and use these regularly to organize my reviews and posts for the blog, and even correspondence. I do have to use my time as and when I can. Therefore, it is quite common for me to have a quiet week and then reel many posts out in a short space of time – I do this sometimes as when my mind is 100% focused on the blog I can be like an express train and just keep on typing. However, as we have begun to schedule blog tours and similar posts over the past year or so, I am beginning to schedule my posts around these and prepare for them in advance much more than I used to. Tina and myself work closely to ensure we can accommodate as many authors posts as possible and we do try to work around each other. This way the blog is continuously busy and a high volume of posts and messages are sent out, making out for an interesting blog and hopefully something for everyone.

When have you ever failed at something? What happened as a result?

I feel lucky to say that I don’t feel that I have failed at much – but please don’t mistake this for arrogance. Maybe it is my approach that makes me feel this way. If I don’t quite reach something that I hoped I would, I will persevere and continue to try. Sometimes I decide to go down a different path by either trying in a different manner or trying something different altogether. Sometimes one failure can lead to other opportunities and it always is a great learning curve that makes us stronger – even if we don’t feel like this at the time.

How full is your glass?

Usually around two thirds! I do feel positive most of the time and will try to work my way through negative periods. There are, of course, days when I don’t feel quite so positive but I see these as short phases and tend to overcome them reasonably quickly. It always helps to have an incredible other half and some fantastic friends to talk my troubles out with. That is usually the best medicine – as long as I don’t feel alone I feel I can get through most things.

What do you want out of life?

As simple as it sounds, happiness. It would also be nice to explore the big, wide world, however I am a homely person and like to settle when I am familiar with my surroundings. Although, I do tend to surprise people sometimes with my more adventurous side.

What will make you feel successful?

If my children grow up to be the best they can be, that will make me feel successful. I feel successful every time I receive a positive comment with regard to our blog or a review I have written. It would be amazing to write my own book one day and maybe have a few good reviews and some sales. But that is a dream for now. Another avenue I have considered is training to become a counselor. If I made that, I would feel like I had achieved something great as I do like to help people, especially with their outlook.

What makes you happy?

My better half and my children make me happy. Knowing that they are all doing okay is the be all and end all. But it’s also nice to have a snuggle on the sofa with a cup of tea, either watching some great TV or reading a fab book. A simple life really.

Thank you! Caroline Barker, A Reader’s Review Blog

We would like to say a big THANK YOU to Saylor Storm for her time! If you would like to find out more about her novel, Sue’s Seduction, you can check out our post here. There is also a fantastic giveaway that she is hosting at the moment so don’t miss out!!

Caroline 🙂

 

About Caroline Barker

I am a happily engaged mother of three and I absolutely love to read and write. Therefore, I am setting up a book blog in the hope to influence some readers out there!

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