How did you get started with Literary Rambles?
I knew I wanted to start or join a blog in 2010 and secretly wanted to be Casey McCormick’s blog partner, but was too scared to ask her about it. When she put a call out for a blog partner, I jumped at the chance. I’ll have been on the blog for five years on March 7th.
How has the blog grown and changed over the years?
Casey made a name for the blog with her fantastic agent spotlights that have helped many aspiring authors find an agent. When I joined the blog, I knew I wanted to spotlight mostly debut middle grade and young adult authors with book giveaways. That has really grown, and I am able to offer a spot to many fantastic debut authors each year. I’m glad we’re getting known for this as well as the spotlights.
The focus on debut authors has really helped the blog grow. Since I’ve been on the blog, I’ve mostly been the one blogging, and we’ve grown from about 1000 followers to over 5000 and have many more comments by followers on the blog posts.
I’ve also started to offer a regular feature where authors and their agents do a guest post, often with a query critique by the agent as well as a book giveaway. Casey just went on sabbatical—maybe permanently—and I am also taking over the agent spotlights because they are such a great service to writers. I’m starting to do them in an interview with the agent with a query critique giveaway instead of Casey’s format.
What are your hopes for the blog down the road?
I hope to maintain what I’m doing—the Monday debut author series, a book giveaway hop with book blogs most months, agent and author guest posts, and the agent spotlights. For me, my hope is to keep some sense of balance where I don’t blog too much. It already takes quite a bit of time each week to do what I’m doing, and I don’t want it to take up more of my free time. I know it could grow into a big book review blog where I would work with more authors and publishers like from Penguin and Harper Collins, but I really do not want the work. I want to provide a good service while maintaining a good balance in my personal life.
I love how you share just a little bit of personal information at the beginning of your posts before getting down to business. Regular readers have learned about joyful times with your daughter as well as difficult times such as the loss of your longtime legal job and your husband passing away last year. In addition to this sharing, you've also grown many relationships by regularly visiting and commenting on other blogs. How do you manage your time to accomplish all of this on top of full-time employment and parenting?
Well, I’m a total work in progress with all of my life changes. I have had to be really purposeful and hard-working to accomplish everything I’ve done, especially when I worked full-time as an attorney, was a swim mom and almost single mom, and a caregiver to my husband before he died. Basically as soon as I get up in the morning, I start my computer and coffee. I read many blogs before I start my work day. I squeeze in reading more blogs when I can and work on the blog after work and on weekends. I have cut back my reading of blogs to mostly Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays because I wanted more of a limit on how much blogging overtakes my life.
Since the fall, 2015, my daughter is in college at University of Michigan, and I live alone and work part-time. For the first time in over 40 years, I have free time and less stress. I’m slowly trying to figure out how I want to use this extra time.
You do such a wonderful job supporting authors, tell us more about your own writing. What are you working on?
I have a part-time job writing non-fiction articles for attorney websites and write 15 to 20 articles a week. Like any writing job, it takes more time than it should. Between that and my blog, it takes all of my writing time. I haven’t written creatively since my husband died, and I’m not sure if I will.
I like providing the service I do through the blog. I don’t want a second job and more writing deadlines with all the writing deadlines I have every week. Plus I’m going through the challenges of working at home alone that any writer has with the added challenge of living home alone after the heartbreak of losing a spouse. I’m thinking of doing some volunteer work where I work with people on a regular basis may be a better use of time than writing a manuscript, especially with all the other writing I do daily. I’ll have to see what I decide to do as I go through this changing journey of my life.
Thank you for sharing your time with us, Natalie. You have a large team of appreciative supporters cheering you on!
Coming up on the Mitten blog: Illustrating Book Covers, a YA Success Story, and much more! To be included in our next Hugs and Hurrahs feature, please send your good news to Patti Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org by March 20th.
Have a great weekend!