My guest today is Stephenie Sheung, also known as “Mogsy”. She began her blogging career writing video game reviews and chronicling her adventures through online worlds before becoming part of the team at The BiblioSanctum, a book blog for speculative fiction.
SCy-Fy: Tell me about a typical blogging day, Stephenie.
SS: These days it’s pretty much touch and go. We just welcomed a new baby to the family, so between juggling a rambunctious three-year-old and a newborn, I don’t get much time to blog. I’m only maintaining the illusion of “keeping up” because I write and schedule my reviews at least two weeks in advance! I also feel I need that buffer, because the truth is, writing doesn’t really come easily to me; between struggling to find the right words to put down and having to constantly run around putting out fires, sometimes it can take me several days to write a single review.
SCy-Fy: What are your future initiatives?
SS: I can’t speak for The BiblioSanctum, since the site is a labor of love not only for myself but also for my two wonderful friends and co-bloggers Wendy and Tiara. From the day the three of us set out to do this, we decided that reading and reviewing books would be a hobby, something we want to do for fun and keep it fun. I suppose that has always been and always will be the main goal.
SCy-Fy: What do you think will be the major future challenges for SFF blogging?
SS: As a community, we engage in a lot of critical dialogue looking at SFF. Having these discussions is important, but it’s equally important not to forget why we’re reading and reviewing these books in the first place – for the love of the genre! I have to remind myself of that on the personal level as well when I find myself becoming overwhelmed with review books. Like I said, blogging should be fun. Whenever I find myself starting to feel stressed, I always take a couple steps back until I find my comfort zone again.
SCy-Fy: Tips for bloggers?
SS: Read what you love, but also don’t be afraid to try new things. Write reviews with honesty, but also with respect and civility. I could go on, but in general those two have worked well for me over the years.
SCy-Fy: Just between us – your secret list of useful resources?
SS: I rely heavily on Goodreads, but that’s no secret! I use it to track my reviews and ratings, as well as what I’ve read and what I still have to read. Publisher catalogs on Edelweiss are also good for seeing what’s coming out.
SCy-Fy: Traps in SFF blogging?
SS: I take it you’re not talking about traps in the Mon Calamari sense. Well, I’ll say this: beware of blurbs and descriptions comparing a book to ______, or claiming it’s “perfect for fans of ________”, or that the story is “like _______ meets _______” (especially if any of those blanks are filled with Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games or Harry Potter). It’s marketing jargon and I rarely find them to be all that accurate. I also try my best to avoid making any direct comparisons to other works in my own reviews, not only because each reader perceives something differently, but I also believe every novel deserves a chance to stand on its own merits.
SCy-Fy: Things that have kept you going in hard times?
SS: My co-bloggers! Wendy and Tiara are amazing and I can always rely on them to hold the fort and keep the blog active when I get too busy. The BiblioSanctum is a team effort so we pretty much do that for each other.
During stressful times I also love spending time with my husband and my kids.
And when I can fit it in, I like playing MMORPGs. I have so little time for gaming these days, so I relish it whenever I do get the chance. I love my online gaming community, and there’s just something so cathartic about playing a healer.
SCy-Fy: Posts of yours that have had the most impact or controversy?
SS: I don’t think I’ve written many controversial posts, but impact-wise, we’ve gotten tons of great feedback and compliments on our “Most Anticipated Science Fiction & Fantasy Books Written by Women” feature that we do every year now. The goal was to expand our scopes and explore the genre to see what amazing books are out there. Clearly we’re not the only ones who want to see more diversity in SFF.
SCy-Fy: What have been the best books you have read recently?
SS: Let’s see, within the last several months: Touch by Claire North, The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis, Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Bach, Evensong by John Love, Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear, Firefight by Brandon Sanderson. I also recently discovered the awesomeness of Juliet Marillier with her book Dreamer’s Pool. I can’t believe I waited so long to read her stuff! So now I’m playing catch up with her lovely Sevenwaters series. I’m sure there are a ton of other great books that I’ve read recently that I’m neglecting to mention, but those are the memorable ones or those that have stood out.
SCy-Fy: Which upcoming releases are you most looking forward to?
SS: So many. In the short term I’m really looking forward to Uprooted by Naomi Novik, Day Four by Sarah Lotz, Sword of the North by Luke Scull, and The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu. Also When the Heavens Fall by Marc Turner. That one was a complete surprise when the ARC landed in my mailbox a while back, and I knew absolutely nothing about the book at the time. But the more I learn about it, the more excited I am. Hope it’ll be good!
SCy-Fy: Thanks, Stephenie. And good luck to you and your colleagues on The Bibliosanctum.