Welcome to Beyond the Blog, where we'll not only be featuring some amazing blogs but also the creative people behind them. Today we have an interview with Laurie from Bitten by Paranormal Romance. Laurie's site is one of the first we started following when we started blogging a few years ago and she's one of the first bloggers we started communicating with. I've lost count of how many books and new authors I found thanks to her reviews and think her site is one our followers will enjoy. Let's get to Laurie's interview so you can meet her for yourself.
Why did you start blogging?
To tell you the truth, I didn’t really know what blogging was about until I got in too deep and couldn’t quit. For some reason I thought Blogger was a good place to add my reviews and just share with friends, but then it turned into something I had no clue what to do with.
How has your blog changed since you first started it?
A LOT! I started out just reviewing books I bought, and then I started receiving author requests. As time passed, I found I couldn’t keep up with all the requests. I turned to my Goodreads friends to help out with reviews. As of now we have thirteen reviewers with about eight of us posting reviews regularly on the blog. At first, there were only a couple of reviews posted each week. These days we can post up to three reviews and one guest post a day. As you can tell, I can’t keep up with the pace, so I rely on my wonderful reviewers, many of whom I call my best friends, to help out with reviews, and they do a fantastic job.
When you run a blog something is always changing. As of the first of the year, we’ll be scaling back some. I’m afraid a lot of posts are not being noticed like they should because of the large number of posts every day. Plus I really need to slow down myself. I know it is going to be hard to do, but I just can’t keep up anymore, even with the help.
Can you tell us about your reviewers?
Oh my, there are so many… Before I get into this, I want to say each one of the reviewers here at the blog is different in so many ways. I believe our different personalities make our blog stand out from the rest.
Okay so here I go.
Cynthia (AKA Artemis) was one of my Goodreads friends before she joined the blog. She is one of the few who have been with me through thick and thin, since the early development of the blog. I would say I consider her one of my best friends, but our relationship runs so much deeper than that. I would say she is more like a sister to me. Artemis loves historical romance and hard core paranormal romance, and of course, Paul Marron. Her reviews can be sometime more on the snarky side. Although our sister-ship runs deep, there are times when Artemis is a totally slacker… Oh yeah, she lets life get in the way of reviews, so Artemis knows there is a whip. LOL!
Ollie was also one of my Goodreads friends. Like Cynthia, she has been with me through thick and thin and has helped me out a great deal with things on and off the blog. I also consider Ollie more than just a friend. No one knows how much she helps me with different things on and off of the blog.
Ronda (aka Queeentutt). She had her own blog named Queentutt’s World of Escapism, but Ronda started out reviewing for me and still does some today. Here again, Ronda is more than just a friend.
WildAboutBones is another Goodreads friend I picked up. When WildAboutBones first started, she took reading and reviewing to a whole new level. I think she posted a review every day, but she soon became tired as her workload started taking over. She now reviews every once in a while because she is so overloaded with editing for publishers and authors, but she still makes time for me on Skype. :) Again, our relationship runs really deep because we have done so much together with the blog and apart from it.
Kris, again one of my Goodreads friends, has been with me for a long time too. She helps out in any way she can. She loves erotic romance but don’t give her any stories featuring any children LOL. We all have our quirks and children are Kris’ pet peeve, so I try not to send them to her.
Caroledee joined my blog not more than a year ago. Sadly, I don’t remember where I picked her up from. I’m thinking she filled out a ‘reviewers wanted’ ad I posted. Anyhoo, she is now the one I rely on the most to help out with the blog. She helps in any way she can and goes above and beyond. I also consider her more than just a friend.
I met Cerridwen at a book signing in my hometown a few years back. When we met we became friends on Goodreads, but I never thought to ask her to review for me because I knew her work kept her occupied. This year she finally got a job that allowed her to free up her time, and I was ecstatic when she wanted to come aboard.
Twigs, was one of my Goodreads friends. I decide a couple of months back to just ask her to review on the blog. I was thrilled when she said she’d give it a try. Since then she has been working very hard between work and friends to learn as much as she can about the blog world.
Jasmyn responded to a ‘reviewers wanted’ post a couple months back. She learned the ropes fast. She loves urban fantasy and is very new to the paranormal romance world, but you can’t tell it from her reviews.
Emi also came to the blog from a ‘reviewers wanted’ post a couple months back. Emi is the quiet one; she’ll take the request and add them to the blog without any hassles.
Ms Liz Pink is another ‘reviewers wanted’ post responder from a couple of months back. She is single and helps out with reviewing whenever she can.
Douglas was one of my Goodreads friends who came to us from a ‘reviewers wanted’ post a couple of months. Douglas reads more urban fantasy and paranormal romance.Douglas has his own style of reviewing on the blog and helps out in any way he can.
Revolutionary Riot Gyrl is an author who reviews every once in a while.
Annie is from Booked and Loaded. She guest posts every once in a while too.
As you can see I love each and every one of these reviewers. They are family to me. The blog would be nothing without them, period. I rely on them as much as I hope they rely on me. So, keep this in mind when you go to read the answer to the next question, because if it wasn’t for the blog, I would not know a single one of these wonderful people. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to make a run for it before I start getting emails from some of the above people. LOL.
What advice would you give to someone who is new to blogging?
My advice is more depressing than uplifting, but it’s advice that needs to be heard because most people have no idea what review blogging involves.
I would tell them to stop and think about what they are doing. Review blogging can be a lot of work. I spend five hours out of my day doing just blog maintenance alone. This time doesn’t include any reading and reviewing time. Additionally nowadays it also costs to run a blog. If you have Photobucket for your blog graphics and you get a lot of hits on your site, you have to pay a fee to Photobucket. There are fees for designs and Linkys, etc. Things are not free like they use to be a few years ago. One would think you could just post a review a week or so, but with so many new authors out there now, you can get bombarded quickly, and then things become tricky.
My first suggestion is to talk to a few different bloggers they know before opening one. Make sure you hit small, medium, and the large bloggers. I started out blind and learned quickly this is a hard job, but with the benefits of learning from and working with fellow bloggers, it can be fun – if you’re willing to put in the work.
My second suggestion is for anyone starting a blog, or even thinking about doing it, is to find a good friend to share the blog with. The best way is to find a reputable blog and see if they need a reviewer. That way you can post your reviews as well as get the free books without all the hassles of running a blog.
My last suggestion is to make sure you don’t consider other review bloggers as competition. If you do, you won’t make it. All the bloggers I know are in it to help and better each other, anyway they can.
Where are you from?
I’m from Michigan.
What is your favorite thing to do (aside from reading) in your down time?
I love playing The Sims 3 on my PC and with my friends on my PS3. I also love baking.
It’s noon on Sunday, what are you up to?
I would be working on the blog. See, boring I know. Nowadays I have no free time :-(
A lot of people credit Stephanie Meyer and her Twilight series for kicking off their reading addiction. Have you always been a reader or is there a book/series that got you hooked?
I have to give her credit for turning me onto reading again. I use to love reading as a teen. I would devour those Sweet Valley High books, but as I grew older I quit. You know how it goes – the job, the husband, and kids all come first.
You just won your dream vacation, all expenses paid. Where are you going?
Oh, we forgot to mention you get to take your fantasy man with you. So, who are you taking?
Er… I’m guessing a fantasy car is out of the question then? Rat’s, I have no fantasy man, I have a car. Oh yeah, it’s the new ZL1 Camaro. Think I’m kidding? Not! You can even ask my hubby, he’ll tell you. I fell in love with the Camaro when I was a teen and have never strayed. LOL! I have even pictured myself in the Camaro driving in the Outback. Sad, I know, because I know the car wouldn’t be a good choice for the Outback, but in my dreams it rides over the terrain like a dream.