Tuesday, September 15, 2009

BBAW Interview Swap with Debbie of ChristFocus Book Club

One of the things that I enjoyed most about last year's BBAW is that I discovered so many new-to-me blogs! This year, thanks to the BBAW Interview Swap, I've already found not one, but three new blogs to follow! Debbie, my interview partner is not only the blogger behind ChristFocus Book Club, but she also runs Genre Reviews and Different Time, Different Place! I am in awe of her because I have a hard enough time managing one blog.

I know that Debbie and I have only shared a few e-mails, but I can just tell that she is extremely sweet and a very special person. I hope you enjoy "getting to know" Debbie (and her blogs) as much as I have. So without further ado, I'd like to welcome Debbie to Booking Mama.

Booking Mama: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Debbie: I'm a 33-year-old, never-married gal who lives on my parent's farm in the Ozark mountains of northern Arkansas. I'm the farm manager, and I put in an hour or two of hard labor each day (working in our garden, very small orchard, etc.) to pay for my room and board. Of course, I also have to do my own housekeeping and such, but otherwise my time is free to write, do prison ministry work, and read books for my book blogs. I also mentor a 12-year-old girl who's been a part of my life for two years. I refer to her as my goddaughter on Twitter since that most effectively conveys our relationship, but technically I'm her mentor.

Booking Mama: You write and maintain 3 separate blogs -- that's amazing! Why do you blog? Would you briefly describe these blogs? What made you create these different blogs rather than one big blog?

Debbie: I'm a published author of three non-fiction niche books that are now out of print, but I've always wanted to write fantasy or historical fiction. Fiction writing is a lot different from non-fiction instructional writing, though. After reading armloads of "how to" writing books, I realized my fiction writing still wasn't good enough to get published. I needed to see how to better apply the advice in those writing books, so I decided to read as many novels as I could while carefully noticing how the writers effectively created suspense, engaging characters, etc., or how the story could have been written differently to create these things. I'd never heard of book blogs, but I thought, "I should put what I find out on a blog so other writers can discuss the topic with me."

I also like to read "clean" fiction novels. I like mainstream novels as much as Christian fiction, but it's hard to tell, sometimes, if a book is clean before you read it--especially if you live in the back of no-where and have to buy your books online. So I decided to combine my two ideas: create a blog were I put all the information I'd like to know about a book (a picture of the cover, the back cover description of the book, the first page or two of the novel) and my review discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the novel. Thus Genre Reviews was born on March 29, 2008. I read widely because I like to see how suspense novels create suspense, how mystery novels create a complex who-done-it, and so on, so my blog covers most genres.

But I also love to read nonfiction, especially when researching information for my (currently unpublished) novels. I enjoy learning how people lived in other times and in other cultures, especially first-person accounts (diaries, memoirs, etc.). That didn't really fit Genre Reviews, though, which I intended for novels. I hadn't even started thinking about building up site traffic and attempting to get ARCs, so I simply started a new book blog on Jan. 5, 2009: Different Time, Different Place. It made perfect sense at the time.

A few months later, several Christian publishers decided to give review copies out to book bloggers, and I signed up. I love reading certain types of Christian nonfiction books, but not all of them fit my Different Time, Different Place book blog. When I saw a publisher start a Twitter book club, I thought, "Oh, I'd love discussing Christian nonfiction books with people all over the world!" So I set up ChristFocus Book Club on March 29, 2009. (I didn't even realize Genre Reviews had been going for a full year on that date). Unfortunately, not a lot of people found Twitter--or even a blog post--an easy way to discuss books, so my book club has mostly moved offline (where it's got 4-6 steady members). I'd still love to get the online discussions going stronger, though! I've also started doing book reviews on ChristFocus.

I've started doing author interviews on Genre Reviews, and giveaways of my favorite books on all three book blogs. I'm sure they'll keep changing and growing, but one thing's for sure: I won't be adding any more book blogs! Three is enough. :)

Booking Mama: With three blogs, how in the world do you do it all? How do you balance work, play and your blogs?

Debbie: I already read a novel or two every week, but I need more time to read three books each week. So I've given up watching movies or TV shows every night (since I was getting bored of them, anyway), and now I spend every evening reading until bedtime. Since I'm not a mom or a wife and only have a two hour work day, the rest of my time is pretty flexible. This means I can make time for my book blogs if I over commit due to "Oh, so many wonderful books!" But it also means I have to carefully schedule my time or I'll spend all of it on reading and book blogging. Sometimes my fiction writing gets shoved by the wayside in favor of spending more time with my goddaughter or reading books or whatever, so I try to re-evaluate my priorities and time management every morning so they don't get out of balance.

Booking Mama: I think most bloggers agree that blogging has had a major impact on their life. How has blogging changed your life? What do you enjoy most about blogging?

Debbie: I read more books? I certainly read more widely now that I don't have to carefully decide which book to spend my budgeted "book money" on. If a publisher offers a review copy and it sounds interesting, I get to read it! (Oh, how I love this part of book blogging. The downside is not having time to read all the great books I'm now aware are out there.) I also Twitter more so I can keep up with what other book bloggers and the publishers are doing. If someone follows me on Twitter and I don't following them back, it's not because I don't want to. It's simply that twittering will take up too much of my book blogging time if I follow everyone I want to.

Booking Mama: I always ask this question when I have the chance because I am constantly looking for new reading ideas. Who are some of your favorite authors and what are some of your favorite books?

Debbie: My favorite authors seem to change as their writing changes, but Janette Oke is one of my favorite Christian historical fiction writers. Tasha Alexander is now one of my favorite historical suspense/mystery writers. I love a lot of Sherwood Smith's YA fantasy novels (especially Crown Duel and Court Duel). I love the YA fantasy novels Goose Girl and Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. In non-fiction, I enjoy many books but have very few favorites. My ChristFocus Book Club picks are favorites, though: Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus; Because He Loves Me; Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow.

Booking Mama: This is one is tough and I'm not even sure how I would answer it, but here it goes...What book has had the most impact on your life?

Debbie: You're asking a gal with a blog called "ChristFocus" to answer this! ;) The Bible has most impacted my life. It's got a lot of great stories with romance, adventure, etc., but it also contains a message that has transformed my life and given me a hope for the future. Can't have much more impact than that.

But if you mean which book of the more mundane, I guess I'd pick Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. I depicts a romance where both people are better for having known each other, and it's spoiled me on any other type of romance novel.

A huge thanks to Debbie for taking the time to answer my questions. It was such a treat to meet a new blogger friend! And if you want to see my answers to Debbie's question, you can click here.


Meghan said...

Wow, three blogs! I'm not sure I could do that even with a two hour workday. I also love the idea behind Debbie's blog, trying to provide others information she'd want herself. Great interview!

Beth F said...

Even if I had a housekeeper and a cook, I don't think I could manage 3 blogs! Wow. Nice interview.

Brooke from The Bluestocking Guide said...

Debbie that's amazing. I have two blogs and it nearly kills me. BBAW Interview

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful interview. Debbie really does sound like a great person. I'm amazed that she manages to do all that she does.

bermudaonion said...

Nice interview. I can't believe she maintains 3 blogs and does all the other things she mentioned!

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

What a wonderful life Debbie seems to have – very different than anything I’ve experienced!

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

UPDATE TO MY PREVIOUS COMMENT: um, I wasn't trying to say that my life is horrible or anything ... :)

ibeeeg said...

Great interview!
I am glad to have "met" Debbie. I am going to head on over to her blogs.

Anna said...

Interesting interview! I have to admire someone who can manage so many blogs. I don't know how you do it!

Diary of an Eccentric

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Wow, Debbie, you have a lot going on! It seems to flow so smoothly for you.

Thanks for introducing me to this multi-tasking new-to-me blogger, Julie!

Debbie of ChristFocus said...

Thanks, everyone, for all the kind comments. It's been great to see some of you commenting on my blogs--so nice of you to drop by!

Here's a funny: My mom announced on my birthday (which was a few weeks ago) that she wanted to take me on a vacation to the ocean. I LOVE the ocean, but my first thought was "just how am I going to schedule a vacation in?!" *snicker* (Don't worry, I've got it figured out now!)