It’s interval time at the local Imax theater and I’m chatting with Wendell Adams, the overwhelmed blogger from Bookwraiths.
SCy-Fy: Your blog has a good following now, Wendell, but it was a struggle at first, wasn’t it?
WA: Honestly, the first nine months of my blogging experience were brutal. I’d spend hours tweaking my site, studying how to craft a proper review, and then finally writing what I hoped was a decent critique of these great SFF novels. The only problem was no one ever read them. If not for my family and friends giving my site mercy visits, my page views would have been zero most days. Even with those visits, my site stats were still horribly depressing.
The only thing that kept me going was the belief that I was going to find some really great books out of all of this. Hence the “Books! Where are the great books?” slogan at the top of my blog; a mission statement that announced to the world my motivation for not giving up.
SCy-Fy: I’m glad you kept with it. On the other side, what have been some of the best moments?
WA: Two posts led to my coolest blogging memories. The first was my less-than-stellar review of Kameron Hurley’s The Mirror Empire, which was discussed on a fairly prominent SFF podcast. Sure, Ms. Hurley very eloquently trashed my review when questioned about it, but I sat there in amazement that she was even talking about it for four or five minutes!
The second was my post “Literary Snobbery is Bad, but How About Fantasy Snobbery?” which was posted to Reddit by a fantasy author. (Without me begging him to, I have to add.) The post had a great deal of discussion for several days, even sucking in a few of my favorite authors. No, most of the comments didn’t agree with my opinion, but I didn’t care, because these SFF people were talking about something I wrote in fifteen minutes during my lunch break as if it actually was worthy of serious consideration! Just an absolutely cool moment.
SCy-Fy: Tell me about a typical blogging day.
WA: I typically check my email as soon as I wake up, see if there are any comments needing a response or cool blog posts I have to read, then I go over my mental lists of the reviews I’m behind on and the blog projects I really need to finish up – projects are usually fantasy lists or author interviews or general articles I’m trying to write. After doing all of that, I sit down to write, hoping something I type might be worth posting. After editing and re-editing numerous times, I post to my blog and other sites before turning to real world concerns.
After work, I’ll usually check my stats, because I do like to see what actually gets people to view my blog, and then I read other people’s stuff, which usually results in me getting new ideas on what I need to post in the future or what SFF novels I have to read next.
SCy-Fy: What are your future initiatives?
WA: I really like the weekly themes I have currently (Funday Monday, Indie Wednesday, Tough Traveling Thursday, and Flashback Friday) but would love to add a feature with author interviews or guest posts. Giveaways would be a cool feature as well, but that is merely wishful thinking at this point.
SCy-Fy: What do you think is the biggest challenge for SFF blogging?
WA: Getting yourself noticed. There are just so many great blogs out there it is going to be a struggle to not get lost in the multitude.
SCy-Fy: Tips for bloggers? For reviewers? Writers?
WA: For bloggers, write everyday and consistently post. To me, those are the foundations of building an audience. Once you have that down, then you have to put yourself out there in the blogging community, make friends, be supportive of your contemporaries, and be respectful to everyone – even the people who trash you. I personally believe kindness (even on the internet) works better than harsh words.
For reviewers, I would hazard to suggest the same thing as above. At least, reviewers on blogs.
For writers, I believe they should spend more time talking about their wonderful literary creations and less time talking about their personal life. I mean, writers write to give life to the amazing people, worlds and stories drifting around in their mind, hoping to touch a few hearts, and, perhaps, make some money. So shouldn’t the focus be about the creations rather than the creator? I think so, which is why I adore reading author blogs focusing on their books or SFF in general.
SCy-Fy: Do you have a list of useful resources?
WA: As silly as it might sound, Goodreads, Netgalley, and my favorite blogs are my most useful resources. Goodreads is my go-to source for general book information. Netgalley is where I get most of my advance reading copies. And I spend lots of time studying how the great SFF blogs do things, so I can try to emulate them as much as possible.
SCy-Fy: Traps in SFF blogging?
WA: The worst one for me was agreeing to review too many books in the early days. The fact that someone wanted me to review their novel was such an honor that I found it hard to say no, even when I didn’t know how I could fit it in to a limited reading schedule. Even today, I still hate declining a book review. I mean, I might be turning down the next Stephen King, you know.
SCy-Fy: What have been the best books you have read recently?
WA: Tough one. Each book is a cool experience in itself, even if I didn’t ultimately love the story. So far this year I’ve spent a lot of time reading fantasy books I’ve always wanted to try but never gotten around to sampling: novels like Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series and Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn. With that in mind, I’d have to say Mistborn is my favorite fantasy read of the year so far. It really lived up to the hype.
As for novels that were just pure fun to read, I’d have to say Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp. No, it might not be serious literature, but Lords of the Sith was pure sugar-coated, scifi fun. I’m a sucker for good Star Wars stories, and this one was like sitting down at my favorite Imax theater with a bucket of buttered popcorn and a large Coke watching a Star Wars film.
SCy-Fy: And here we are! Which upcoming releases are you most looking forward to?
WA: Knight’s Shadow (Greatcoats #2) by Sebastien de Castell. When I picked up Traitor’s Blade last year, I didn’t expect a lot. Other than a few early reviews I knew little to nothing about this story, but I instantly fell in love with the Three Musketeer-esque characters, the swashbuckling grimdark story, and the sheer fun of this tale. I can’t wait to start reading it, and I’m desperately hoping Mr. Castell has caught lightning in a bottle twice!
SCy-Fy: The lights are going down again, so we better finish up. Anything to add?
WA: I hope you realize that this request for an interview is now on my list of the coolest things that have happened to me while blogging!
SCy-Fy: Thank you, Wendell.