Friday, November 15, 2013

Indie Author Champion - Rosemary Montgomery


Rosemary Montgomery is the second book blogger guest  here on Watery Ways and is someone I am particularly pleased to have met as she comes from my beloved South Africa. I 'met' Rosemary through another of my long time writing and blogging friends, Anne Marie Klein, and started following her book blog regularly. So when I decided to start interviewing book bloggers, she came quickly to mind, and I'm so glad she agreed to come down from her Cape mountain scenery to join me on the barge in Rotterdam. Our chat about her blog turned out to be very interesting as Rosemary is a real champion of Inidie Authors.

Rosemary and her husband on a road trip
in South Africa where she lives



VP:  Rosemary, how long have you been blogging about the books you've read and reviewed?

RM: The first review I wrote and posted on my blog was Killer Instinct by Zoƫ Sharp on March 20, 2013.

VP: So that's pretty recently then. I came to your blog through our mutual author friend, Anne Marie Klien, so there's lots I don't know. Could you tell me what inspired you to start your book blog.

RM: It was Elle Casey, and Indie authors. When I first ‘discovered’ Elle Casey and other Indie authors, I realized how important it was for them to have readers reviewing, and talking about their books.  I started the blog primarily as a place to keep all my reviews together as my main aim was, and still is, to post the reviews of my favourite books on to as many platforms as possible.  I currently post each and every review I write to 12 different platforms.  It is time consuming, but it is my way of trying to help the Indie author, and to thank them. 

VP: That's fantastic, Rosemary. As an indie myself, I can say we really appreciate what you are doing. But you live in South Africa and you say you've always loved reading. What books did you read when you were growing up and what was it you loved about them?

RM: My earliest memory of ‘reading’ was when my parents bought an encyclopedia set of Fairy Tales.  There were 12 books in total packed with the most amazing stories and illustrations.  I loved and treasured those books.  When I got too old for fairy tales, I secretly read whatever my father was reading, mostly cowboy novels by Louis L’Amour, and thrillers.  I loved them all.  Other than the fairy tales, I never read books aimed specifically at children or young adults. The first book I bought for myself was The Clan of The Cave Bear by Jean M Auel, which I still have.

VP: Ah the affection for old books. I still have some of mine too. But in this digital age, do you read paperbacks or e-books mostly?

RM: Because I read as much as I do, it is cheaper to buy e-books.  Storage is also a huge problem for me as I am a bit of a book hoarder, and there is a limit to the number of bookshelves my husband thinks I should have.  We disagree on that point, so the kindle is great.

VP:  I'm guessing you must have reached saturation point on the bookshelves then! You read so much, though, I'm curious about what your favourite genre is and how you decide which books to buy or read.

RM: I don’t have a favourite Genre.  The only books I do not enjoy are erotica and politically motivated books. I have a very strict book budget so I never, ever buy a book without doing the research first.  I have a notebook next to my computer where I make a note of any interesting books I come across.  When I am ready to buy, I do my research and read reviews on various sites.  I do not buy according to star ratings, as they are seriously flawed and mean nothing to me.  I look for the reviews that are honest, and have often bought books because of an honest 1 or 2 star review. 

VP: That's very open-minded of you. I think a lot of people would be put off by a poor review. But since you are such a reviewer yourself, what do you think is important when writing a review?

RM: I think it is important that you stay true to yourself when reviewing as it is about your personal take on the book.  To me it is about how the book made me feel and the impact it had on me.  I try not to think about the author or the reader when I review a book.  The review is about me, and the book.

I think I should say that I am not a very good writer, and I really struggle a lot when writing a review, but I do the best I can. For example, I read Noble Lies by Stephanie Andrassy, and for months I tried unsuccessfully to write a review.  I tried over and over again and eventually (months later) posted the review, but I have always felt the review did not do the book justice.  I struggle with that – a lot.

VP: Maybe you are also a perfectionist! So what do you do if you don't like a book you've read. Do you still review it?

RM: If I am not enjoying a book, I will not force myself to finish it, and will not review it either.  If a book is just ok, I will probably not review it either.  I just don’t have the time to review every book I read, as I would end up spending more time writing reviews than reading. 

VP: That's a good point, because I know how much you read as well, so it must take a lot of time. I just wondered then. Do publishers or distributors ask you to review books for them?

RM: I do receive requests from representatives, as well as from authors who contact me through the blog.  I very, very seldom accept an ARC (Advance Review Copy? - VP)  for review.  If the book has already been published, I will look into it, and if it is something I am interested in reading, I will buy the book.  The only ARCs I do sometimes accept are from authors I have reviewed before, and even then I still prefer to buy the book myself when it becomes available rather than accept an ARC.

VP: I'm guessing that also helps you maintain your own 'indie' status as well! By the way, your blog is stunning. Very professional and well presented. How much time do you spend on blogging yourself and how many views do you get on average?

RM: Thank you.  The look of the blog has changed twice since I started, but I am happy with it as it is now. I try and limit the time spent on the blog to an hour a day.  Sometimes it is a bit more, but not very often. The daily views are up and down, depending on what I review.  If it is a romance, the views are high, but thrillers, horrors, etc, get lower views.

VPDo you follow many other people's blogs and do you know how many people follow yours?

RM: This is a difficult one for various reasons.  I am not very good with the whole social media ‘follow me and I will follow you’ thing, I tend to avoid it.  At first I followed quite a few blogs to learn from them, but I have cut down on that.  I mostly follow the authors I admire, and the review blogs that interest me personally. Most of the people who follow my blog are readers, not bloggers, and I am happy with that, especially as the majority are South Africans who are new to e-readers and Indie authors in general. 

VP: Rosemary, I think you're doing a real service to the indie book writing community, so if any of the readers here want to start a book blog, would you have any tips for them?

RM: If I was starting out, I would start with a Tumblr Blog or a BookLikes blog.  They are easy to set up and you are ready to go within an hour.  You have the added bonus of not having to worry about backups and everything else that goes with a regular blog. 

I have both a Tumblr blog and a BookLikes blog.  BookLikes especially is fantastic.  I sometimes spend more time there, than on my own blog.  It is a great community of readers and they discuss books as well as their cats, dogs, and anything else that interests them. I love it. 

VP: I've never heard of BookLikes. I'll have to look for it. But lastly, Rosemary, and before you fly away from our wetlands and back to your lovely sunshine, what do you do in your free time when you aren't reading, writing reviews and blogging?            

RM: My Siberian Huskies take up a lot of my time.  They are a lot of work but I adore them and could not imagine life without them.  I also have a stained glass / engraving studio at home which my husband set up for me, and I spend a LOT of time in there.

Other than that, my husband and I are Harley Davidson enthusiasts – the Western Cape (South Africa) with its sweeping mountain passes and beautiful valleys is the perfect place to tour on a Harley, even if it is only a day trip.  We are currently Harley-less as my husband is looking for the ‘perfect’ bike – sigh, but I am sure we will be back on the road again soon. 

VP: You have no idea how jealous I am of that thought. And how lovely to have Huskies and an art studio. I love my barge here, but I miss South Africa like crazy. One day, I'm going to come and visit you there! Thanks so much for joining me on Watery Ways, Rosemary!

Rosemary's Fun with Books Blog can be found here:
http://funwithbooksblog.com/

Rosemary and Husband in the beautiful monument of a town
Maatjiesfontein, Cape Province, South Africa

  

8 comments:

  1. What a great interview - thank you both.

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  2. I love this interview as well, and have really admired Rosemary for her support of the indie authors. I can only add that I wish I could read one-tenth of the books she does. Where to find the time is always the question, and I've not yet found the answer!

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  3. Thanks, Jo! It was a lovely one for me to do too!

    Anne Marie, she's really so dedicated, isn't she? I also wish I could read so much! So nice to see you back here!

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  4. Lovely to meet you Rosemary. Your hands must be full with the Huskies an art studio and reading and blogging.

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  5. Thanks Anne! You're next dear :-)

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  6. Wow, what a great interview. I love Rosemary's reviews. I've found quite a few good books from her blog site and met her at Elle Casey's FB page. She's pretty awesome and definitely an inspiration to an aspiring blogger like myself.

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  7. Thank you, Jamie! That's a lovely tribute to Rosemary's reviewing skills, and I agree with you too! Thanks for dropping in to comment.

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  8. Thank you :) I loved doing this interview Val, it was a lot of fun.

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