Tuesday, February 28, 2012

1/2 Dozen for Joshilyn Jackson

I love Joshilyn Jackson's wit and fire,
her devotion and heart.
I love that she goes deep and brings back to us
what we might just need to carry on.
She is a wonder on the page
and in life.
So ... here is a 1/2 Dozen
with the astounding

Buckle Up...

Some writers hate to write. Other writers love being engaged in the creative process. How would you describe your relationship with the page?

I hate to write. I LOVE having written.

The hardest part is making myself begin to do a thing I know very much that I will hate. Once I actually force myself to put my butt in a chair and my hands on some keys, I resign myself to it. Before I know it I am all engaged and I struggle and froth and foam and push. Time disappears.

Once a chunk of the drafting is done, it becomes wonderful. I live for the revise. I love to take a heaving tangle of prose, as ugly and unorganized as a bag of muddy snakes, and wrestle around looking for delicious fangs or pale overlapping under-scales. I love to find the thick curve of something truly muscular in all the silt and crap. I throw away more words than I keep.

At some point, the characters begin to feel like they are taking over, things I did not plan seem to spontaneously happen, and even though intellectually I know it the book is coming from me, experientially it feels like something alive and more than half wild that is kindly letting me ride it.

That’s the best part.

Have you learned to strike a balance between your writing life and the other aspects of your life?

No. I have no balance at all. Life feels to me like an alive teeter totter. I have zero organizational skills. I breed chaos. Which leads me to....

What's your advice to a writer who's looking for a lifelong partner? Any particularly useful traits to suggest in said partner? (Do you want to tell us a brief love story here?)

Scott, my husband, is ballast. I used to feel SO sorry for him, because he had married me. I am dreadful. I maelstrom around. Yes, that’s a verb. I know because I actively do it. If I had married me, I would have mercy-killed me long ago. And I used to genuinely feel bad for him sometimes, because my LORD he MARRIED me; he was LIFELONG STUCK.

But you know, I later realized, we had been friends for years before we married or even dated. I had met all of his significant girlfriends. And when I looked back, every single freakin’ one of them maelstromed about in a positive hail storm of mental illnesses and chaos. They were all viperous, loony bitches. Like me. I was his TYPE.

Since he was going to marry one of us, I was the best one out of his possible pool of loons, because I freaking adore him. I like how he smells. I like his dumb jokes. I like the sound of how his big heart goes thump-thump. He is my best friend, the person I like most, my favorite one. And he likes me back exactly that way.

Writer or no, that’s the person you should marry. The one you LIKE the most. I fall in and out of love with Scott romantically about twelve times a year. Thanks, hormones! But I always like him best of all people on the planet, enjoy his company the most. Marry that one.

Faith. Do you consider yourself religious? If so, how does that manifest in your work and/or your process?

Hugely. Hugely religious. Trying to be, anyway. It’s difficult. I lose my way and my faith a lot. I depend on liturgy and service to find my way back, but then, I am so deeply Christ-bitten that I always come back to it, the faith thing. I feel defensive about saying I am a Christian but not about being one... Like I have to say, “I am a Christian but I super like gay people and I don’t think we should go explode all the Muslims, good grief!”

I worry I have to say things to define it, as it is a huge spectrum and can mean so many many many things, some of them abhorrent to me, and meanwhile, some of my definitions and deepest beliefs are abhorrent to other people who call themselves Christians, too. I lean HARD into universalism, for example, which some Christians think will put me directly into hell.

To me, faith means I have to try to make the world better and softer; I have to try to be a better kinder gentler version of myself; I have to judge less, to listen more, and when I fail and am an unbearable little petty snot-wad, I am still beloved and worthy of love, and thank God for that, because I have my moments. Don’t we all.

What's your worst writerly habit?

Inconsistency. I wish I wrote every day, or at the same time every day, instead of in great heaving fits that leave me behind on everything, so then I do everything, and then I am behind on the book, and then I write again in a great heaving fit, lather rinse, repeat except add weeping and panic attacks as the deadline approaches. I never learn.

What project of yours was the easiest writing of your life? And, flip-side, which one was the most like wrestling bears? (And could you tell before you started or did they turn on you, for better or worse?)

A GROWN UP KIND OF PRETTY was SO easy. At first. It had two narrators, Big and Mosey, and one was charming and falling in love for the first time in her life (at 45!) and one was fifteen and red hot hilarious mess, and I was just...having fun.

Lydia Netzer, a member of my writing group pointed out I was having...too much fun. She said to me, “Yeah this is funny, and charming....and absolutely heartless.” She said I was being a coward, letting only Big and Mosey speak. She said I was so scared of letting Liza speak that I had given her a stroke to shut her up.

She was right. As a writer, I am constantly interested in the finding the tipping point for grace, tracing the paths that lead even those farthest out in the black to redemption, in how ruined people living in a broken world model their imperfect version of sacrificial love. What is home, and what gets you there, and what do you do when you return to it and find it a smoking hole in the rubble? Can you remake it? Can you redefine it? What does it mean to experience transformative love, which in my books is often parental in nature rather than romantic. I had shut most of that up inside of Liza.

SO! I tore the book open, structurally, and let Liza speak. Then it went suddenly from being the easiest thing I had ever written to the hardest. I had to let Liza’s themes and Liza’s narrative infest the narratives charming Big and funny Mosey wanted to tell, letting the book have its underbelly.

It got hard because all at once I was writing about the things that drive me, that matter to me as a human being. I was writing a book that I loved instead of one that was ONLY fun. Then it was hard. But you know what? Hard is good. Sometimes the hard way leads to the thing you wanted all along.

New York Times Bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson lives in Georgia with her husband, their two children, and an ever-expanding cast of animals. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages, won SIBA’s novel of the year, twice been a #1 Book Sense Pick, and twice been shortlisted for the Townsend prize. She blogs twice a week at Faster Than Kudzu. She is the author of five novels, most recently A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

1/2 Dozen for Thomas Mullen

I had the pleasure early on
of reading
It's a genre-blurring
I think you might just love it.
But first,
a 1/2 Dozen
with Mullen himself.
(I like the title Mullen Himself
for something memoiresque
actually -- by Mullen, of course,
not me; a memoir by
Baggott called Mullen Himself would
be weird.)


I despise the pervasive myth of inspiration – the idea that an entire book can exist simply because of an accumulation of inspired ideas – but I don’t deny that inspiration exists. There are things that have no other explanation. Was there a singular moment of inspiration for this book?

This one both had discrete, singular moments of inspiration as well as more vague, accumulated ones. Because I was living in Washington DC during the post-9/11 years, a time of scary Orange Alerts and anti-war marches and news stories about government surveillance and CIA black sites, there was a lot of paranoia in the air. The right was paranoid that another 9/11 would appear unless we started new wars first, and the left was paranoid that Bush and friends were becoming totalitarian leaders. I had to do something with this attitude, this new vibe, that seemed to pervade American discourse.

Also, a few stories about journalists or civilians who broke stories of government corruption, and were then punished for it, struck a chord in me. I wanted a character in a similar predicament. Finally, the local NPR station covered a story about foreign diplomats who bring their maids and servants to DC, keeping them imprisoned in their homes as slave labor. That gave me another character, and a way to link a few stories I'd already been toying with.

Some writers hate to write. Other writers love being engaged in the creative process. How would you describe your relationship with the page?

I love writing. The best feeling is to be in the middle of something, when it's really going well and the pages are flying. I sometimes juggle multiple projects, which can be confusing but is overall a good thing so long as I'm not blocked on any of them.

My least favorite part, by far, is right after I finish a book, and I have to figure out what to do next. It's always tough to decide, and as the days go by without my actually writing something, I feel like a loser who's frittering away his time.

Criticism. It’s part of the territory. How do you handle it? Is this the way you’ve always handled it?

It really is very difficult to hear negative things about your work. The Internet age makes this much worse because a) I can instantly read any negative thing a newspaper says about my book, even if the paper in question is in, say, Edmonton, whereas back in the day I only would have known this if I badgered a publicist into sending me every clip she had, and b) the Internet allows anyone at all to post their opinion, even people who aren't at all diplomatic or professional or kind about their negative opinions, in the way that a critic (you hope) would be. There's no way around it: it's tough.

Two things help. One is the knowledge that I have been, by all rights, very lucky in this regard. My books have been widely reviewed and critics have largely applauded them, which is so, so fabulous. The other thing to remember is that no one, ever, will have universal acceptance. I recently read a Hemingway bio, and he was always fuming about negative reviews and evil critics. Hemingway! So if even he was knocked, clearly I will be too.

I'm a big sports fan, and I hate how an athlete will vent how "nobody respects me!" when in fact thousands of people respect him, but there just happened to be one columnist who predicted he'd lose the game. The athlete treats that one measly criticism as a sign of massive disrespect. Which means that when the athlete claims he wants respect, really what he's asking for is complete and universal praise. Well, that just ain't gonna happen, not to Kobe Bryant or Tom Brady or me. Phrasing it that way makes an occasional negative review or mean Amazon comment go down easier.

People always talk about the writers they aspired to emulate. I’d love to know the writers you most hated as you were coming up and how those tastes shaped you.

I'm far from an anti-elite populist, since I went to a prep school and then a pricey private college. But when I took Contemporary Literary Theory my junior year and had to read impenetrable essays by the likes of Foucault, Derridas, and Barthes, I found myself getting increasingly enraged. The weird in-jokes and jargon, overly obtuse writing, and clear attempt to make their arguments dense and unreadable for anyone who wasn't also an academic made the whole affair seem like some awful intellectual chain letter sent amongst tweed-coat-wearing, tenured professors, happily detached from the concerns of real readers. I've always enjoyed odd novels, even difficult novels, but the experience of reading these postmodern "masters" of the critical essay provided me with a well-timed reminder of what I do not want to be. I want my writing to be smart and challenging and I want to push readers, yes, but I don't want to repel them, and I certainly don't want to erect barriers that only those possessing certain clubby degrees can get past. I'm one of the few people left who believes it's possible to write things that MFA-holding academics can admire but that non-academic readers can enjoy too.

What's your worst writerly habit?

Baked goods and caffeine. I had a job with a very bad office culture, and the office was in a bland office park with nothing interesting nearby. One year I won a bunch of gift certificates to a coffee house a short drive away, so even though I wasn't a coffee drinker, I would take breaks there just to get out. My love of scones and bagels and croissants eventually led to me getting a coffee, and eventually it became a habit. Now that I have two kids I NEED coffee, but I frequently find myself putting off a certain task "until I have a coffee," or maybe a scone. Which means I spend too much time and too many calories by procrastinating. A few years ago, I laughed out loud during the opening narration of the movie, "Adaptation," when Nick Cage's character has that exact debate with himself: write now and get coffee later as a reward, or have a coffee first? The eternal dilemma.

But, as bad habits go, I guess that's not so terrible.

What project of yours was the easiest writing of your life? And, flip-side, which one was the most like wrestling bears? (And could you tell before you started or did they turn on you, for better or worse?)

My new novel, "The Revisionists," was by far the hardest. I put it aside twice, once thinking it was totally dead. Only the chance meeting with a new editor helped me figure a way out. Part of the difficulty was the fact that it was my first novel set in the present, and I wanted to make sure it had a strong plot (unlike some contemporary fiction) without seeming so plot-based as to be a straight thriller. And I wasn't sure how to handle the politics. Finally, because it has elements of espionage and sci-fi, which are two genres I don't read very much, I had to read a lot, and wrestle with how to structure the book. It finally worked out, but, man, it was tough. Never would have thought my third novel would be the hardest (my next one, in contrast, has been a breeze!).

What’s your advice to someone who’s fallen in love with a writer?

Get a good job, with health insurance.

Thomas Mullen is the author of “The Last Town on Earth,” which was named Best Debut Novel of 2006 by USA Today and was awarded the James Fenimore Cooper Prize, "The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers," and his new novel, "The Revisionists." His books have been named to Year's Best lists by such publications as The Chicago Tribune, USA Today, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The San Diego Union-Times, The Onion, The Cleveland Plain-Dealer, and by Amazon.com. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and sons.


The New York Times Book Review Takes on PURE

Here it is. A great review of PURE in The New York Times Book Review today.

The reviewer loves the book for the reason I want the book to be loved, which is what we all want when it comes to love, isn't it?

Friday, February 24, 2012

I will not be AWP-ing this year ... but for you who are: GEAR UP!

Okay, little bit of stuff going on life-wise this year and so I will not be making it to AWP (the Associated Writing Programs' annual convention, otherwise known as AWP! AWP! -- shouted out in a background-noise-to-an-early-hip-hop-band kind of way -- or, in song, "I'm off to go a-awping, a-awping, a-awping...") FYI: I think that I might actually be the only person who says "otherwise known as AWP! AWP!" ... and no one sings that song... but that's neither here nor there.

Will I miss it? I will. All the while it's going on I will pine for panels and hotel bars and elevators crammed with sweaty writers. I will pine for the spasms of writers dancing at the AWP dance. (Yes, this is true: there is a dance for writers and it is something that's really deeply experiential. You could try to tape it but the tapes themselves would self-destruct. Seeing is believing.) I will miss tiffs and spats and people trying to dodge old nemeses and, dear hearts, those of you who are looking for the perfect nemesis with whom to start a life-long relationship worthy of both of your talents. (Easier said than done, my friends. Trust me.)

Alas. Because I cannot be there, I am offering you THIS LINK to a beautiful moment from PORTLANDIA -- the perfect pre-AWP pick-me-up.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

1/2 Dozen for Amber Dermont

Lordy. Get out paper and pen.
Take notes.
Here are some beautiful lessons
on the craft of writing
the art of comedy
the importance of poets
(for fiction writers)
and on and on...
Dig in.
(And, after, buy the stunner of a debut novel

And now
A 1/2 Dozen for Amber Dermont


What kind of child were you, inside of what kind of childhood, and how did it shape you as a writer?

What a beautiful question! I was a silent, sharp-eyed child. To this day, my mother still asks, “What were you thinking?” My parents are rare book dealers and, throughout my childhood, books served as my constant and loyal companions. Mom and Dad were always happy to place books in my hands and neither believed in dumbing down their recommendations. As a kid, I read stories that were well beyond my immediate comprehension. When I was nine years old, my dad suggested I read James Kirkwood’s P.S. Your Cat’s Dead, a sexually charged romance between an out of work actor and the man who keeps robbing his apartment. The book is wild, exuberant and Kirkwood became the first author I can remember calling my favorite. I went on to read his novels, Some Kind of Hero and There Must Be A Pony, then lucked out and saw the musical, A Chorus Line, for which Kirkwood won both the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Kirkwood’s fascination with the mutability of human desire and the trappings of glamour and wealth made a lasting impression on me as a writer. I’m forever grateful that my parents weren’t afraid to expose me to stories that challenged my imagination.

I despise the pervasive myth of inspiration – the idea that an entire book can exist simply because of an accumulation of inspired ideas – but I don’t deny that inspiration exists. There are things that have no other explanation. Was there a singular moment of inspiration for this book?

I totally agree with you about the myth of a singular inspiration. Books arrive from so many different impulses. Lucky for me, I grew up on Cape Cod, and so if I’ve been inspired by anything, it’s the ocean. One of the great memories of my adolescence is of standing out on a pier during a hurricane and watching the tidal surge. The power of the wind and water always remind me of what it feels like to be young and out of control. That feeling has never left me. As I began work on my novel, The Starboard Sea, I kept returning to that emotion as a way of understanding why my characters are drawn to risk and misadventure.

Some writers hate to write. Other writers love being engaged in the creative process. How would you describe your relationship with the page?

I’m a huge fan of revision. Once I have words on the page, I’m ready to play. But arriving at that first draft is a glacial and painful process. I always enter the world of a story by sketching out notes in a blank book. I can’t write on lined paper. Something about staying within those lines makes me anxious and so I scribble and draw and rewrite the same sentences over and over again. Then, here’s the funny thing, I can’t read my own writing. The notes I make are totally useless. Somehow, I know when I’m ready to abandon the notebooks and begin typing. For me, the joy of writing a first line is that once it’s written, I know I can rewrite it. A minor victory that leads to a second and third sentence—all of which, I know, I can also rewrite. I’m a big fan of the sentence as a unit of measure, as an inhalation and exhalation of breath, as a precise architecture. I love to study other writers’ sentences for their structure, length and syntax. If I can fill a single page with sentences, coaxing the next page feels, if not inevitable, at least possible.

Current obsessions—literary or otherwise.

Though I’m drawn to dark subject matter, in my heart, I’m a comedy fiend. My favorite comedian is the British standup Stewart Lee. He may be the smartest and purest artist working today. He has this incredible ability to deconstruct the artistic process and call out artifice and hypocrisy without seeming self-righteous. His comedy doesn’t excerpt easily into snippets or sound bites and in order to fully appreciate him, I had to step up my intellectual game and study his prolific catalogue of work. I soothe my insomnia by hunting down videos of his BBC Two show Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle. In addition to his standup, Stewart Lee is also the author of the comic novel, Perfect Fool, and Faber & Faber recently published two annotated collections of Lee’s comedy routines, How I Escaped My Certain Fate and If You Prefer A Milder Comedian, Please Ask For One. All three are among the most entertaining books I’ve ever read. It’s fascinating to follow his development as an artist. When he was young, Stewart Lee was very beautiful—he looked like a handsome Morrissey—and his hard-edged humor wasn’t taken seriously. He’s still handsome—like a rumpled Morrissey—but now that he’s older, his cynicism feels grounded in experience. He’s married to the brilliant comedienne Bridget Christie and I imagine that the two of them must share the wittiest of witty banter.

I’m especially drawn to Stewart Lee for the way he tackles the subject of class privilege. A staunch liberal, Lee was a student at Oxford at the same time as the current Tory Prime Minister, David Cameron. In one of his routines, Lee tells a fantastic shaggy dog tale about becoming friends with Cameron at Oxford and subsequently being exploited and mistreated by him. The story serves as a clever indictment of the Hooray Henrys of British government. Cameron was a member of the Bullingdon Club, an elite social club at Oxford comprised entirely of teenaged boy millionaires. Members of the Bullingdon Club wear these ridiculously expensive custom suits with velvet collars and sky blue bowties and are known for flagrant abuses of privilege—epic bouts of public binge drinking followed by profound destruction of private property. I first heard of the Bullers in Evelyn Waugh’s novels Decline and Fall and Brideshead Revisited. In fact, this club was a minor source of inspiration for the insouciant preppies in The Starboard Sea. At the end of his routine, after detailing how the young David Cameron has misled and insulted him, Lee addresses the audience and says, “Now, that story about David Cameron is not true but I feel what it tells us about David Cameron is true.” Right there, Lee sums up the power of fiction to reach a deeper and more precise truth through art.

What’s your reading life like? Do you have any current favorites or sleepers that may have flown under our radar?

I crave poetry. Sabrina Orah Mark’s The Babies and Tsim Tsum are among my favorite collections. I’m dazzled by Sabrina’s use of mysticism and by her ecstatic and sublime imagery. Caryl Pagel is one of the most daring poets I know. She has a chapbook, Visions, Crisis Apparitions, & Other Exceptional Experiences, with Factory Hollow Press and another full-length work on the way. Jericho Brown’s, Please and James Allen Hall’s Now You’re the Enemy are both necessary reading—their books will make you weep and roar. In terms of fiction, I am a sucker for a short story collection. Mark Jude Poirier’s Naked Pubelo and Unsung Heroes of American Industry are two I return to time and time again for their ruthless humor and surprising vulnerability. Reading Holiday Reinhorn’s Big Cats and Andrew Porter’s The Theory of Light and Matter will teach you everything you need to know about comic timing and human longing. Reginald McKnight’s The Kind of Light That Shines on Texas will shatter your heart.

What’s your advice to someone who’s fallen in love with a writer?

Be the first word, be the subplot, be the plot twist, be the whole story, be the final word.

Amber Dermont is the author of the novel, The Starboard Sea, and the short story collection, Damage Control, forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Dermont received her PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston. Her work has recently appeared in American Short Fiction, Crazyhorse, TriQuarterly, Zoetrope: All-Story and in the anthologies, Best New American Voices, Best American Nonrequired Reading, The Worst Years of Your Life and Home of the Brave: Stories in Uniform. She teaches Creative Writing at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia.





Monday, February 20, 2012

Open Letter to the Catholic Church: I am the 98%

Dear Catholic Church,

Hi. You don't believe I exist, but I am the 98%. I am the 98% of Catholic women who, during the course of their lives, use birth control. (Wake up, fellas.) And let's get this straight: I'm a mother of four. I'm that straight, non-divorced, from a big-family, procreating woman you seem to be so keen on.

And I've left you -- in large part because you seem so keen on straight, non-divorced, big-family, procreation -- to the detriment of others -- while, at the same time, being pretty anti-woman. That, and you try to tell me how to vote.

AND ... there is the sex abuse scandal and the incredible lack of honesty. We've discussed this.

At the end of the above NPR piece I wrote:

I feel adrift, homeless. My Catholic imagination allows me to see the soul as a lit breath, seeking the divine. It persists.

And, in the end, I remind my mother, it isn't the church that calls us home.

Our hearts are broken, but our souls aren't.

And now I have to tell you I still believe in God. I just no longer believe in you, the Church -- or should I say the Institution? And maybe it's because you don't believe in me.

(What would happen if you started to believe in me again?)


Julianna Baggott -- who will always be Catholic, wired-so.

P.S. For more on this, read Sheila Curran's piece here.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

1/2 Dozen for Jenny of Supernatural Snark

The NEW Feature: The Blogger's 1/2 Dozen

What's this now? Well, Baggott is turning the tables and here's the back story.

While on this mad blog tour, a simple realization hit me. I read interviews of novelists by bloggers all the time, but when have I ever read an interview of a blogger by a novelist? (Maybe I just don't get out in the blogosphere enough.) As soon as I had this thought, a bunch of questions for bloggers appeared in my head.

At the heart of it all, I wanted to know who the people are who've changed the way we hear about books, talk about books, and create online communities around literature. Bloggers surely have done that. It's nothing short of a revolution.

And so I've reached out to some prominent book bloggers with a list of questions from which they each will choose six to answer.


How does your persona as a blogger differ from your own personal identity?

Honestly, I’m not sure blogger-me and me-me are all that different. I really love the blogs (whether it’s an author’s blog or a book blog) where the blogger’s personality shows through and I get to feel like I know them as a person rather than simply an online identity, so I try to make sure to do that with my own blog. I’m a sarcastic person by nature and I often have to stretch my mouth to accommodate my foot, so I created the cover critique feature as a way to let my snark out and (hopefully) make people laugh. I like to think those people who read my blog regularly feel like they’re reading Jenny’s blog, not just a blog called Supernatural Snark.

If you don't post for a while, do you feel guilty? Does it sometimes feel like a complex relationship -- between you and the blog, as well as you and your readers?

YES! Even if I post one day but don’t make it around to return the comments everyone left I feel guilty. Logically I understand that the world will not cease to spin should the blog be down for a day, but it’s become such a huge part of my life and my daily routine that I can’t escape the guilt when I’m not able to attend to it for whatever reason.

Do your family and friends -- from the real world -- also read and comment on your blog? Does that ever get blurry -- in terms of boundaries?

My family reads the blog each week and every once in a while they leave a comment. My mom and my mother-in-law are really the ones who check it the most given they share my love of books and enjoy the recommendations I throw their way. For me, there’s no definitive boundary between my real life and my blogging life at the moment. Like I said in question one, I think I’m the same person online and off even if there a number of facets of my life I don’t share online, so if my family wants to share the blogging experience with me and join in the book-loving fun, I’m all for it! The more the merrier.

Current obsessions -- literary or otherwise.

Um. This could be a potentially embarrassing question. I would say right now my literary obsession is with fictional men in general. I tend to get obsessed with the sexy boys setting my book pages aflame, and I often carry my torch for weeks, months, and even years. I have a ridiculously lengthy list of delicious book boyfriends-I-would-run-away-with-despite-being-married, but luckily for me, my husband takes it all in stride. He understands he’s at least in the vicinity of the top of the list and therefore just shakes his head when I inform him of a new addition to the harem. Win.

Writing Tip #17 for Aspiring Bloggers – or #47 or #2. Your pick.

Be yourself. I know that probably sounds really cliché and you’re probably going “that’s quite possibly the least helpful advice ever, thanks Jenny” but I think it’s really true. The number of book blogs has exploded in the past couple years, and I think it’s incredibly easy to get swept up in measuring your blog against the other ones in your genre of choice – number of followers, number of comments, number of page views, ARCs received, etc– that it’s easy to lose track of yourself as an individual. I know I went through that particular phase when I started out, and if I’m being completely honest, the need to compare myself to others has only recently abated now that I’ve finally gotten comfortable with my blog and myself as a blogger.

My best advice is to find a way to make your blog your own. It’s perfectly okay to be inspired by other bloggers (the way they write their reviews or the layout of their blog) but I think readers can feel when a blogger is genuine and just being themselves rather than trying to emulate the things they love about someone else’s blog, and are probably more likely to continue reading that blog as a result.

What's your worst writerly habit?

I don’t know that I have a worst writerly habit, but I certainly have a worst readerly one, does that count? My worst readerly habit is flipping to the last page of the book and reading it first. I KNOW! It’s bad. I’m ruining the suspense and the tension and the mystery and all that, but it’s a compulsion I can’t ignore. In my defense, I usually only do this with books I know are going to be extremely intense or emotional, and in an act of self-preservation, I read the last page so I know what to expect. I tend to get very attached to the characters about whom I read, so if something terrible happens to that person, I need to know about it going in so I can prepare myself for the heartbreak ahead of time. Don’t judge me, it’s a sickness!

Blog: http://supernaturalsnark.blogspot.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/sprntrlsnark