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I’m pleased to interview today professional reviewer and blogger Carly. Despite her managing it all by herself, her blog is one of the best and updated I’ve seen. She reviews books of all genres including m/m, features author interviews, runs book promotions, and more. If you’re looking for a site filled with valuable content, I highly recommend you check hers out!
Tell us about you and your gay romance blog. Where can we read it?
Hello to everyone waves happily and thank you Jamie for having me here today. A little bit about me then… I’m 33 (but don’t tell my husband or I’ll have to kill you,capisce?) I love to ride my Suzuki M50 Black Boulevard. I live where I grew up, in rural Minnesota, and am mother to the two most amazing, talented, beautiful, funny and intelligent children ever. I also like to look at the glass as half full, because most of those characteristics don’t run in my family. I’m the oldest of 7 children, and we’re all loud, opinionated, can be a little bit clumsy, and lot obstinate… on our good days. However; we also laugh often, love fiercely and stick up for each other no matter what, so maybe they take after me a little bit after all.(Lord knows it’s rarely quiet enough around here from me to write! 😉
Now; about my blog, because that’s really what I’m here to talk about today. (At least that’s what Jamie said, but I’ll talk about almost anything if given the chance!) “That girl could talk the ears off a brass monkey.” ~My Dad
Sooooo, this is me. (You may have noticed, also have a great affinity for all things purple.)
I primarily read romantic fiction and am partial to contemporary, paranormal, sci-fi & fantasy. I review love stories. I won’t turn a book down because the characters are asexual, bisexual, heterosexual, homosexual, or choose to define their sexuality in their own. For me, reading a book is about the journey; experiencing life, finding ourselves and hopefully (but not always) finding love. Sometimes that journey is joyful, other times it can be heartbreaking. I connect emotionally to the characters that I readand they become a part of who I am because,for a moment in time, I looking through the world with their eyes and am always discovering wondrous things.
What got you started as a m/m blogger or reviewer?
When I was 12 I won a dictionary from our local library for checking out and reading the most books that summer. I was named after a character my mom read about in a harlequin romance novel when she was expecting me. Books run in my blood, I’ll read just about anything I can get my hands on, and it was simply a matter of time before I discovered the world of LGBTQromance. I started my very first blog when I was fifteen. If you do the math you will figure out that was back in 1996. I didn’t have much traffic, but I DID learn a lot about what to do, and what not to do. It was my own mini experiment, and from those extremely humble roots there was nowhere to move but up! The first M/M story I read was a paranormal romance about wolf shifters that I bought as an Amazon ebook because it was near the top of a list featuring shifters and was 99 cents. I tend to be a bit impulsive as a book shopper. I liked the cover, it was written by an author I’d never read before (Oooh, new author!!) and it was on sale. It wasn’t until I started to read the story a few days later that I discovered it was a M/M romance.
“Huh. I didn’t know people wrote books where bothlove interests are male.” shrugs shoulders; keeps reading
The rest, as they say, is history.
Why are you passionate about reading and reviewing m/m books?
I think we already covered that I’m passionate about books in general, but just in case anyone missed it so far. I love to read. Always have, always will. If I was an Egyptian they’d have to mummify me with my kindle and a power source or Osiris would not be happy. Part of the reason why I review so many M/M books out there is because I realize that it’s a niche market and I think there is a real need for people who will objectively review a story and not focus on the character’s sexual preferences. Many of the books I’ve reviewed have never been reviewed before. (Because “It was too short; 2 stars” and “It had gay people in it; 1 star” does NOT count. It’s also a market that is full of indie authors, which I’m a huge supporter of, and there are a lot of really talented authors and writers out there. I love to read good books and share those discoveries with my friends! Hey look, over here, see what you’re missing?!?
Many of my readers love reading m/m blogs but what makes yours unique compared to others?
I get frustrated with blogs who only feature one genre, one type of book, one gender paring, one age group, or one genre. If I only read Paranormal, Erotic, M/M, Upper Adult books I’d run out of stories to read real fast. So I guess what I love most about my blog is that it’s a really mixed basket of genres, subgenres and types. Sometimes I’ll have feature weeks. I did a “Boy Meets Boy” week recently where I did feature reviews on some really great new M/M titles that were released that month. I’m just starting to put together “Tied up With Ribbons and Bows” week which is going to feature BDSM themed books between Christmas and New Year’s. So far I’ve only lined up one author (M/M) but will be putting out a call for authors to submit their new or upcoming books to be featured during that week and that’s going to be lots of fun! I’m working decking my blog’s halls with some great graphics too. Some people are turned off my by blog and that I don’t focus on just one topic but that’s not me, not the books I read, and not the world I live in either.
Define success as a m/m blogger and reviewer.
I recently got randomly tagged in a FB post by a reader commenting on a M/M book that I’d reviewed quite some time ago. It said I’m so glad Carly reviewed this book because I trust her. That reader just made my week!! That people trust me is so awesome. (And a little bit scary if I think about it too hard!)
When authors come back and ask me to review for them again. Especially if I’ve given them a 3 or 4 star review. That also means success to me,because they think that I’m fair and honest and do a good job. Reviews are supposed to be unbiased. They’re not. We all have our favorite authors. They’re supposed to be honest. Usually they are, but always consider the source when reading reviews. They are supposed to be objective. Sometimes, but they always contain a bit of the reviewers own personality and preferences. It is what it is.
What are some of the best m/m books you’ve read this year?
Well…. In January I will be releasing Carly’s Top Ten but I’ll give you a sneak peek at some of the titles I’ve really enjoyed recently!
There are also some really good books coming out soon that I’ve had a chance to read and will be reviewing soon. grins widely
What would you like to see more in m/m literature you don’t see now?
The same thing I’d like to see in the world. More creative expression, more acceptance of each other and our differences. More laughter, adventure, fun and love. The only thing you can take with you through this life is your memories and so make sure the books you read and the people you love are both chosen for the right reasons, and that you are someone that others want to choose. So authors, keep writing books that have characters people like me wish they could hang out with. Recently my kids were watching the new Mr. Peabody and Sherman movie. (I liked the old characters from the Focky and Bullwinkle show better.) There’s a line in the move where one of the character is asking something about “What kind of Cake?” and it immediately made me think of Dex from Blood and Thunder by Charlie Cochet. My goodness, does that boy love to eat!!
What advice can you give to aspiring m/m reviewers and bloggers?
Start with reading the books you love and sharing them with your friends. I run my blog 100% on my own. I don’t have a reviewing team and I do all the formatting and writing myself. I like it that way. I’ve reviewed for groups and publications in the past, and still do sometimes, but prefer only answering to myself. If that’s not for you, find a blogger that you like to follow and contact them about guest reviewing and see how it goes.
Don’t take anything too personally. No one is going to love all your reviews, and if you choose to read LGBTQ titles, be prepared to get spammed with hate mail occasionally. It happens. Just don’t react to it by brining yourself down to that level.
Most importantly, do it because it is fun. Do it because you love books and because you are passionate about reading. Carly’s Book Reviews has only been around 8 months, but I’ve been around a lot longer than that. I just lost the joy in reviewing for awhile. I eventually decided to start again but to do it my own way this time. I’ve stayed true to myself and have never been happier.
Links to where you can find me online:
I have been writing stories for years but up to this point I’m the only person who has ever read them.
I’ve decided to bite the bullet, take the plunge, or perhaps I’ve simply lost my mind!
Whatever the truth is, I have two books scheduled for publication in 2015.
‘Lucky Like That’ is a M/M romantic comedy that will be available on January 19th.
‘Awakening Tohren’ is a M/M romance/science fiction novella that will be available on March 10th.