Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Chris at Wildmoo Books!
1. How long have you been blogging and how did you get into blogging?
This is my third year. January 19, 2014 will be my four year blogiversary! Once upon a time I was a sales manager and district marketing manager for Borders. After stepping down as a manager to attend massage school I continued to work as a part-time bookseller, but I missed not only the daily engagement with books and book people, but also writing about books (I used to write newsletters, press releases, event signage, etc.). I loved writing reviews on Goodreads and discovered the world of personal book blogging through Goodreads after noticing that some users had links to their blogs.
2. How did you come up with your blog name?
Wildmoo is a nickname that I acquired in the 90s. I talk about how I got the nickname on my about page and include a photo of me wearing a once fashionable cow-patterned sweater that started it all. When thinking about what to call my blog I wanted a name that was fun, that would remind me not to take things too seriously. As a recovering academic, I’m prone to fits of pomposity. (Not that all academics are self-righteous or arrogant types…I’ve personally just had some…moments.) Over the years I have thought about changing my blog’s name to something more literary sounding, but thus far have resisted that temptation.
3. How has your writing style or how you write posts changed over the years?
I was really comfortable writing blog posts my first two years, but feel like I lost some stride this year, due, perhaps, to focusing on getting our house ready to sell and then jumping into selling/moving. Once I’m settled in our new place, I’d like to get back to my original intention of writing about books: how and why I came to read the book, what I thought about it and why, what it may lead me to next. I’d like my blog to be a bit of a journal for me, but contain thoughts and information that might be of interest to others. There are dozens of other places people can find straight reviews of books, so I might as well write what I want to write about a book and not worry about it being a proper review. I plan on getting back to regular library visit posts, too.
4. What do you most enjoy about blogging? What do you least enjoy?
This year I’ve really enjoyed connecting with other bloggers. For the first two years I blogged in isolation, but this year I’ve ventured out and met more book bloggers online and even in person. BiblioSue and I have gone to a few book events together and I met Emma in person after discovering via email that we actually worked at the same library!
5. How do you schedule posts and manage your blogging time?
I haven’t been! LOL. My life has been full of purging my house and now packing it, interspersed with visits to New England to look for a new house. We have movers coming later this week to pack everything in a POD for us and I’m no longer working, so I’ll get back to more of a routine soon. I am usually happy with one meaningful post a week. In the new year, in a new home & new part of the country, I might even try to stick to a posting schedule. We’ll see.
6. What memes, events, or reading challenges do you participate in? Do you host any yourself?
This year as part of my effort to be a more social book blogger I participated in Armchair BEA for the first time. It was fun (and a bit overwhelming!) to connect with so many bloggers and it was where I first met Emma—she was my cheerleader! I also signed up for reading challenges: the Australian Women Writers Challenge (which I also did in 2012 and need to get going on this year), War Through the Generations‘s Revolutionary War challenge (I did their WWI challenge in 2012 and nailed it this year), and then Roof Beam Reader’s Off the Shelf Challenge (which I have not done a good job on, but did read A. Scott Berg’s biography Max Perkins: Editor of Genius which has been my favorite nonfiction read of 2013). I have only hosted one reading event so far and that was last year’s Willa Cather Novel Reading Challenge. I am thinking it might be fun to host an author focused challenge every other year. I’m tossing around a few ideas for 2014. Next year I’ll also participate in the Australian Women Writers challenge again and I also plan to participate in Bloggiesta events for the first time.
7. How hooked are you on your blogs statistics and why?
I checked stats obsessively for the first two years I was blogging because it was fascinating to see what books/authors/topics got more readers. I have been keeping a monthly hand-written stats sheet so I can see the ebb and flow of various categories—number of visitors, time on blog, number of pages viewed per visit, etc. Its interesting to see what resonates with readers. I’d like to use stats as a way to challenge myself in the future and would love to know how other bloggers use stats.
8. What have you learned about yourself through blogging?
I am now 100% certain that I am resistant to reading from lists of books. I thought this was just a high school/college/graduate school thing, but apparently even when I make my own lists of books to read I end up having resistance! I love making lists, its just the follow-through that’s problematic. However, this has not stopped me from making a list for The Classics Club. I’ve also learned that my biblio-querks are not all that weird—bibliophiles all have a bit of oddness about how/why/what we read, how/why/where we acquire our books, how/why/where we keep our books, etc. There is no normal in the world of readers (as if there’s normal anywhere, right?). I’ve learned just how much I love talking about books with other people, be it books we’ve read in common or books only one has read and we’re sharing our love of a book. Readers are my favorite animals.
9. What types of books do you like to read and review the most?
I might get caught up in a particular genre or subject for awhile, but I usually crave change in my reading selections. I enjoy literary fiction, classics, mystery/thrillers, biography, history, and some horror. I’d like to read more graphic novels and SciFi. For a while I made it my goal to review every book I read, but that got somewhat tiring either because there are some books that I don’t have much to say about or because I’m reading obsessively and don’t want to stop to blog (like when I finally go around to reading Louise Penny—I went through her books like a wood chipper to catch up by a release date).
10. How has your reading changed or evolved due to blogging?
I was going to say that I am more willing to take a chance on a book by an unknown author or a book that doesn’t have a reputation yet, but I actually learned that while working at Borders for over a decade. Unboxing the new releases on Monday night for Tuesday morning laydowns was like Christmas every week and I found new-to-me writers that way regularly. But being a blogger and a bookstore employee can make a reader feel overwhelmed by choices. At this point my experience as a blogger is helping me to refine the books that I want to read, in whatever genre. I no longer need to read the “in” book (although those can be good) or the book that no one else is blogging about in an effort to stand out (there’s often a reason for that lack of interest). I am back to wanting books with heart and soul, books that tell a good story with warm blooded characters. I also took a hiatus from review requests this fall due to moving and its been a bit of a vacation.
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