The Secret Life of a Book Blogger…

Oooh, I’ve been tagged!




And it didn’t hurt a bit! Phil over at reviewsrevues has nominated me to take part in the Secret Life of a Book Blogger tag – thanks, Phil! 🙂 I was terribly worried at first that I might have to reveal what I do when I’m not blogging. But phew! It appears I don’t have to tell you about either the sumo-wrestling or the rehearsals for my famed role as back end of the cow in the Christmas panto! And of course if I revealed my true identity you’d never believe me anyway…


catwoman 2


So here are the actual questions…

* * * * * * * * *

1. How long have you been a blogger?

Since the dawn of time or March 2013, whichever came first. (576 posts! Good grief!)

2. At what point do you think you will stop?

To be perfectly honest, I fantasise about stopping constantly, every time I stare at the blank screen trying to think of something even remotely interesting to say. But then I read a great book – or a terrible one – and my enthusiasm for reviewing is restored!

3. What is the best thing?

Free books!!!

Actually that’s not true at all – it might have been a major reason when I started but now it’s the bloggie chit-chat that keeps me going. So, you – yes, you there at the back – you’re the best thing!!!


you talkin to me


4. What is the worst thing? What do you do to make it OK?

Somewhat problematically for a book blog, it’s writing the reviews that’s the worst thing! Especially the crime novels where I feel I repeat myself on an endless loop – can’t understand why anyone reads them myself (the reviews, I mean, not the books).

So… I pick books that I might not usually read but think will be fun or interesting to review. The Barsoom books for example, or the Great American Novel Quest books. Or I do a silly post about tennis, or eyebrow raising techniques. And I’ve enjoyed doing my little Tuesday short story series – detectives, horror, sci-fi


david tennant


5. How long does it take you to find/create pictures for your post?

Varies from 5 or 10 minutes for a crime novel to maybe half an hour or more for a fantasy novel, a classic or a factual book. Searching for images is one of my favourite parts – especially for fantasy and sci-fi. There’s so much great fan art out there! And then, of course, I have to spend hours and hours sometimes searching for just the right picture of Rafa… or George… such a hardship!



6. Who is your book crush?

Ha! Hands up anyone who doesn’t know the answer to that one! Welcome, stranger!


darcy gif


7. What author would you like to have on your blog?

Seriously – none. I don’t like to have too much contact with authors in truth. I might have raved about their most recent book but I might not feel so enthusiastic about their next one and, while I love getting a bit of feedback from an author I’ve raved about, in reality having any kind of personal contact with them makes me feel very uncomfortable about reviewing future books. Hence, I seldom review books of authors I chat to on the blogosphere or elsewhere (though I often buy and read them!) and I never do author interviews or blog tours or guest posts or such-like, or set out to make contact with favourite authors in any other way. It’s not a rule that’s set in stone, though – it just kind of works out that way. And I’d make an exception for Charles Dickens

charles dickens


8. How long does it take to prepare?

Hmm… depends. Half an hour for a TBR Thursday post up to approximately 6 weeks for The Grapes of Wrath! Excluding reading time. I probably read for 2 or 3 hours a day, but it varies. And I don’t count that as preparation, since I’d be doing it whether I blogged or not.

9. What do you wear when you write your blog posts?

A pale green silken ballgown embroidered by the fairies at the bottom of my garden with a myriad of butterflies in threads of fine-spun gold and silver, and sprinkled liberally with the finest diamonds and emeralds. Matching shoes and handbag, of course, and for the more serious reviews, I also wear my crown.


scottish crown


10. How do you feel about the book/blogger community/culture?

I hate them all! Before I got to know them my TBR was a feasible 50 or so – now it’s close to 150 and rising! They should all be banned and have their chocolate taken away!

(OK – actually I love the community and they’re the reason I blog. But not just book bloggers – I adore the variety around the blogosphere and love all the talented and creative people out there spending their time entertaining others just because they can…)

11. What do you think one should do to get a successful blog?

Define success. Originally I thought I was blogging to a) get free books and b) inspire other people to read the books I love. I now get so many free books I can’t cope and I think Jilanne once read a book I recommended! But now I know that really I do it for the civilised discourse, intelligent debate and sparkling repartee – i.e., chit-chat, and if you want people to chit then you have to be willing to get out there and chat, and provide chat-inspiring content. I don’t care if my blog is ‘successful’ so long as being part of the bloggie community is fun! It amuses me endlessly that I always get more visitors and comments for silly posts than for serious book reviews – I might not be the most ‘successful’ book blogger in the blogosphere in terms of bookish influence, but I have met up with a lovely group of expert chit-chatters – for me, that’s success! (Wouldn’t it be totally embarrassing if nobody left a comment now…?? 😀 )



* * * * * * * * *

Now I’m supposed to tag some of my favourite book bloggers, but I can’t possibly choose! So if you’d like to answer these questions, consider yourself tagged! It’s as much fun as eating chocolate cake, I promise!

84 thoughts on “The Secret Life of a Book Blogger…

  1. Love the responses, FF! And, of course, I love your blog. Not only because you always have something interesting to say, but your voice is wonderful and your taste in man crushes is impeccable! Summer has been too busy, but I always find time for a visit to my favorite bookish spot. Now I’m off to eat chocolate in your honor. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to take…


  2. You must – you absolutely must – share a ‘photo of you in that ballgown. Seriously. I want to see it, and I know the rest of your adoring public does too, FictionFan! In all seriousness, though, you’ve hit on one of the things I love best about blogging – the discourse. I love learning from what you write and what others say in response to it. You have such an excellent blog and I, for one, hope you’ll be blogging for a very long time to come.


    • I would, but I suspect it would make you all wildly jealous! 😉 Aw, thank you, Margot! Yes, I love the chit-chat on my own blog and other people’s – both the fun stuff and the more serious… it’s what keeps me going when gazing at that blank screen. I’d love to be able to make it all look as effortless as you do, though…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a lovely post! It is so nice to hear a bit about you. I am very envious of the ballgown, I must say. I can’t remember when I fist started reading your blog but now I wouldn’t miss it for the world. The reviews are great and the silly things and chit-chat superb as well – the occasional blog party is surely a unique thing to any book blog!
    Also – thank you for the lovely pictures 😉


    • Aw, thanks, Lucy! 🙂 Yes, I understand why you’d be jealous, but I admit that the dress really needs a little something to set it off – I wonder if one can get green silk bowlers? For non-crown days…

      Hehe! That picture of Rafa is exceptionally special, isn’t it? And I’ve spent waaaaayyy too much time watching Darcy telling me he loves me…


  4. I enjoy reading the books and especially the Rips! But best of all is the chit-chat. “Had we but world enough and time.” And she has some friends that are great as well.


  5. What I want to know is how you keep the cats off the ball-gown, etc. a huge issue in my life, I assure you (wink, wink – okay, so I don’t know how to do a winkie – there’s a surprise!).
    I guess you are as enthralled by the ladies tennis as I am, if you are blogging – role on tomorrow.


    • It was a problem, but I got round it by making matching little mini-ballgowns for each of them! Tuppence likes it – Tommy’s not so keen, but frankly four-legged pantaloons were beyond my skill. (Easy – just like a smiley only with a semi-colon instead of a colon 😉 )

      Yes, I fear the ladies is going to be the usual Serena walkover. The William’s-Sharapova game induced new heights of boredom… Hope tomorrow’s better!


  6. I love how you managed to weave in all your favourite gentlemen into that Q&A- I knew you could do it, FF, well done! I’m pleased to hear you are appropriately attired when tending to your reviews, although maybe the heavy crown is what makes you think that reviewing is harder than reading… No, seriously, I know what you mean about tearing ahead with the reading and then not being able to think of anything interesting to say for a bunch of so-so books.


    • Haha! Thank you! I feel one can never have too many pictures of gorgeous men! Yes, at the moment I have about eight books waiting for me to write reviews and though I mostly enjoyed them, my mind goes blank each time I try to write reviews of them – hopefully my brain will recover once the tennis is over!


  7. FF, you had me with Rafa’s lovely photo!! And the mental image of you in that jewel-encrusted ball gown, complete with a crown, is an added benefit!

    Seriously, I admire anybody who can read several hours a day, then share their thoughts on what they’ve read. As a writer-wannabe, I’m counting on readers to one day peruse my pages and enjoy the fictional worlds I’ve dreamed up.

    Everything’s better with chocolate, right? Well, everything except Lima beans and broccoli (*shudders* )


    • Isn’t it a fabulously swoonworthy picture? Haha! I like to be prepared at all times in case the Professor finally cracks and asks me to dance… 😉

      Sometimes I find it easy – if I really love or hate a book, or the factuals. But a lot of the time even if I’ve enjoyed a book I find it hard to review without constantly repeating things I’ve said in a million other reviews. Oh well! I usually manage in the end…

      Haha! A very good point! (Though I might try dipping my broccoli in chocolate next time just to see…)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. *laughs* I didn’t know you sumo-wrestled! And…George does look semi-cool, I’ll admit, in a cat uniform.

    And now that I look at them together…I do believe George is Rafa’s grandfather. Oh come on! You see the resemblance, I know!

    Now, FEF, you should at least make your ballgown red so it can match that king crown, you know.

    You do have the best reviews, and I’m glad you’re still blogging, that’s for sure.

    I love Morecambe and Wise!


    • I only do it ‘cos I like the outfit! Hey!! How dare you be rude about my George! Sheer jealousy!

      D’you know – and I really mean this – don’t you think that all FF’s favourite men have a certain similarity to a certain Professorial-type person? I was thinking last night that a little collage of Rafa, George, Darby and the Professor would be a) gorgeous and b) so well-matched! Maybe George is your great-grandfather! Or your son…

      Queen crown if you don’t mind!! But you have to watch the last thirty seconds of Morecambe and Wise to see why my dress is green! And when we’re dancing together green will go so much better with the colours in your kilt…

      Awww, thanks, C-W-W! See? You are a sweetie pumpkin pie!


      • Wait…you like the sumo outfit?! *laughing lots and lots* Now that’s some mental image right there.

        No, what a silly you are! For instance, we don’t have one aspect in similar, do we? George has gray hair, Rafa obviously dyes his, and I have…dark hair. So there you are.

        That’s a king’s crown, dadblameit! *laughs* Yes! I saw. So, did you steal it from her, then? My kilt? Those things are too…revealing to wear, you know, you know.

        *holds ears and thinks about worms*


        • *laughs too* It’s a discombobulating thought, isn’t it? I wish I hadn’t thunk it…

          Intense brown/hazel eyes, lovely dark hair, sweet smiles, and look! Rafa and Darby have copied your kiss-curl! You could be triplets! *faints at the very thought* With George as your Daddy! (Amer. trans. – Paw)

          It is not!!!!! It’s…unisex! I did – and her tiara! Oh, pshaw! They only reveal your knees! Unless there’s an exceptionally high wind blowin’… *faints again*

          You have worms in your ears? Euww!!


          • I’m…gardoobled! *laughs*

            *laughing* Well, it would just be ‘Pa’, can you believe. Hmm… George is an indian, I can’t look too much like him.

            Now, I don’t think I’d wear a kilt. Because, only ladies wear skirts. *nods*

            I bet I do!


            • Oh, you do! And you’ll probably go grey soon – dark hair does that – and then you’ll be his double!

              And Hector… and it’s good for knees to get a bit of air every now and again…

              Yucketh! Still – better than earwigs!


            • I look like George Clooney? Now that is a first. I always thought it’d be cool to have white hair.

              That’s what shorts are for, don’t you know!

              I hate earwigs. There’s lots of those things over here.


            • Actually you’re much better looking than he was when he was young – he’s improved a lot with age. Partly because of the fashion back then for men to have curly perms. (Promise you’ll never do that!!).

              If you think I’m dancing with you wearing shorts you are sadly mistaken sir! Pantaloons or kilt – take your pick!

              I can’t actually think of an insect I don’t hate…


            • A curly perm?! Ew…never, I fear. Too much work. I miss having real short here as it is. I’m an orc, and you know it.

              Yep. Board shorts! It’s the future dance!

              Umm…how about…centipedes?


            • Nah, I’m not going to do it. It used to be shorter than it is now. This is long to me, see.

              He died, didn’t you hear?

              They’re awesome to have in the house, though! They kill all sorts of pests.


            • Yay! I’m secretly overcome with relief!

              Even dead I bet he’s a great dancer…

              Do they? They’d have to be pretty yucketh pests to make having earwigs in the house worthwhile though!


            • I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a goat sigh. They have nice beards though.

              *laughs* Was he in Star Trek then?

              Oh… yes… sorry! I didn’t stay around long enough to count their legs. (Can you imagine how long it must take them to buy new shoes?)


            • I need to grow a beard like a goat. Then, we’ll be equal, the goat and I.

              I knew you were going to say that!

              Well, they go barefoot everywhere, you should know. They never wear socks either.


            • Not unless you also wear a bell round your neck, and grow horns…

              Beam me up!

              No wonder, poor little souls! By the time they got the last socks on, the first ones would need washed!


    • It was a fun one to do! Don’t forget you’re tagged… if you’d like to be! 🙂

      Aw, thank you! I’m very honoured. 😀 I’ll pop across soon to see your post…


  9. *Nods* That explain a lot. The pale green silken ballgown is the perfect choice. After all, Mr. Darcy probably hangs about, gazing at you with puppy eyes until you consent to dance.

    I do hope Dickens will pop in. He’s one of my favorites. I can dream, can’t I?


    • Haha! Now you know all my secrets! Ooooh… what a lovely thought! *drifts off into a happy daydream…*

      Just as soon as I complete my time machine (only need to find the space-time widget-thingy and I’m done), I’ll pop back and invite him over…


      • If you need the parts, I can spare some. I dismantled my time machine. It broke after I kept going back to buy up stock in a fledgling company called Microsoft.
        Be careful of Mr. Wickham. I hear he charms and then abandons people.


        • Haha! Brilliant plan! But these pesky time paradoxes always seem to get in the way…

          *shakes head sadly* Men, eh? Oh well, so long as he gives me chocolates before he leaves…


  10. Ha! I’ve read more than one! More than I can count, I believe. Plus, you forgot about the book I read that you DIDN’T recommend, the one that tried your and my patience (unlike LF’s). The book that must never be named, or dire things will happen.

    You’ve really got to stop with the moving widgety things. I’m getting twitchy.

    Oh, and I’ll be scarce from tomorrow on. Heading off to a lovely writing conference. Have fun while I’m gone. And please save some chocolate for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hurrah! I knew I could count on you, my best – perhaps only – customer! Sssssh!! Ms Tartt might hear you and write another one! *shudders*

      Haha! I know! They provoke a weird mixture of hypnosis and migraine in me – I reckon they’re sending subliminal messages but I’m not sure what of…

      Ooh, is this your Squaw Valley thing? Have fun! I’ll try to keep all the good books till you come back…

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Brilliant. Just brilliant. Though I am a little worried, in view of the chocolate eating activities, as I suspect your ball gown and crown sound MUCH more elegant than they are in real, as they must be liberally smeared with the chocolate you have to wipe off your fingers in order to stop getting it on the keyboard.

    Not to mention that I’m afraid you have now outed your true identity, with the crown. Happy 90th birthday next week, your Majesty


  12. How did I know you would rise so superbly to the challenge of answering those questions?! Well done! You have made me laugh out loud and got my brain cells whirring with your responses. I found it very interesting to read what you had to say about authors. It’s an area I want to develop but I’m still very wary of inviting authors in for the very reasons you mention. I’m glad I tagged you….I was tempted to sneak in an extra question where the only possible answer could be “George Clooney” but you have managed to have the man in question make an appearance anyway!!


    • Haha! Thank you very much, and thanks for the tag too – I had loads of fun doing it! Yes, I find the whole author contact thing quite difficult, but that’s partly because I’m actually quite shy (I know – I hide it well!). But once they become ‘real people’ to me I find it hard to be even a little bit critical, and yet at the same time I hate falsely glowing reviews! It’s tricky… but plenty of people seem to be able to get the balance right.

      Haha! You can be certain I’ll always find a way to get my three favourite men in – they’re the main reason half the girls visit me… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  13. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire…your reviews! This was particularly entertaining, loved the little peek into your life. I think you could probably write an entertaining shopping list!


  14. Generous and good-natured replies to all the questions, as I would have expected.

    It is nice that I can visit a book blog where the reviews are intelligent and sincere–two qualities that are not that often found together. I don’t always share your book interests and appreciations, but I am not the most tolerant in my artistic tastes, and that is one of the reasons I would not do a blog, because I would love 10% of the books and rave about them, and hate nost of the other 90%, which would ultimately lose me all but a small and devoted coterie of followers.

    I am still trying to read “Fallen Land,” because I owe it to you to finish it, even though my interest dropped off once we got to the apparently psychotic builder. I used to finish everything, but am less inclined to do so now. But if you recommended it, I know there is some value in the work.

    I was thrilled when I read about the green ball gown, but then I thought that you were perhaps being a tiny bit facetious. My very first literary crush, at about six years old, was Ozma of Oz, so you can see why the gown and the tiara sounded very appealing. Actually, I think you probably look like the heroine in “Outlanders,” which I am just starting to watch. I am sure that Bonnie Prince Charlie is going to show up before too long, along with James of the Glens and the rest of the clansmen.

    You didn’t like Donna Tartt’s book? I remember reading the first one, “The Secret History,” which was touted like crazy; which the owner of the best indie bookstore in Los Angeles told me was his favorite new book, as it was “byzantine,” but which I found became repetitive, self-indulgent, and frankly all buildup and little payoff. She could turn a good sentence, though; and many people confuse that with good writing. So if you did not like that one, I am much impressed. You probably were alluding to the second one, which I never looked for.

    I do hope that you continue to do book reviewing and blogging; and perhaps a few pirate stories and David Goodis noir novels will creep in, along with more classics. Did you take the online class in noir? I love noir, and hope that you managed to watch some of the TCM “Summer of Darkness” noir movie festival, still ongoing.


    • Aw, thank you, William! 😀

      Yes, I do have rather strange unstructured tastes and blogging has made that worse, ‘cos quite often now I’ll read something – like the fantasy novels – not for the enjoyment of the book as much as the fun of doing the review and attempting to amuse. I gave up quite early on the idea of really influencing people because I find lots of people, like you, and like me, actually tend to read the reviews of books they’ve already read to see what other people thought of them. Actually, I’m nearly always more attracted to reviews of books I’ve read than endless ‘new’ books which I know I’ll never have time (or often inclination) to read. And I so often dislike new crime and fiction that my reviews are as likely to put people off as inspire them. As a result I have a much more varied and less ‘bookish’ bunch of visitors than most book blogs.

      I’m sorry you’re not enjoying Fallen Land. It’s interesting – most of the Brits who’ve read it have been far more impressed than the Americans, it seems. Flanery is American but has lived and worked in London for years and I’ve come to wonder if what he’s reflecting is the British view of America, hence we recognise it and find ourselves saying ‘Yes!’, whereas it may not reflect how America sees itself. For me, it was a bit like American Pastoral in that I don’t think of the characters as real people, but as representations of different ‘types’ in America or parts of the culture – the East Coast liberal, the black land ownership history, the post 9/11 obsession with security to the point of intrusion. To me, the psychotic builder is a representation of that section of American society that fears Big Government, defends its liberty with the gun and is likely to hole itself up in a backwood cabin and die in a shoot-out with the FBI.

      It was the first review I did for the blog and I was still at the stage of trying to keep to a low word count – I’ve abandoned that attempt now! – but if I was writing the review now, I’d talk about all the historical references that led me to believe that what Flanery was doing was showing how present day America is the direct child of the somewhat unresolved dichotomy at the heart of the constitution – simplistically liberty versus government, if you like. Noailles being the officer who seved under Lafayette and was prominent at Yorktown, the hotel that they stay in (forgotten its name) having been a place that over the centuries had provided accommodation for lots of the Presidents etc etc. It seemed to me that what Flanery was saying was that the aftereffects of 9/11 and the global crash were in danger of shattering the already fragile links holding the differing parts of US society together – the fear of terrorism leading to greater government interference leading to further alienation of the extreme supporters of liberty and individualism. And the boy is modern America, the child of all these different strands, disturbed and broken… which is how it seemed to us over here at the time the book came out…

      Haha! Sorry! One day, I’ll read it again and do a ‘proper’ review and see if I can persuade you. oddly, I have an urgent desire to read it again right NOW!

      Vis-a-vis blogging, I’m sad to say (though it makes me laugh too) people vastly prefer my reviews of books I hate to books I love – so I wouldn’t let that aspect put you off blogging! 😉

      I did like The Secret History – sorry – but I was much younger when I read it. The book Jilanne and I were talking about is her most recent one The Goldfinch, which I thought was dreadful and Lady Fancifull (my long-term friend and sparring partner) loved – and poor Jilanne got caught in the middle! I did say at the time that I wondered if The Secret History might now have the same effect on me as The Goldfinch – I’m a much more critical reader now – but I have no real desire to re-read it to find out!

      Ooh, I wish I did look like the Outlanders heroine! *laughs* Yes, please go on believing that! Now if you’ll excuse me, must go don my ballgown – reviews to write!


  15. I enjoyed your responses. And the eye candy, save perhaps Dickens! 😉 Most of all I enjoy reading your writing. Even if a book you review isn’t something I’d be likely to read – your writing, your voice, your humor — so fun to visit here. I’m glad I have some time to read my favorite blogs again! 🙂 Perhaps I’ll have to go find some chocolate cake! 🙂


    • Ah, but I suspect in real life, Dickens probably had a wicked twinkle in his eye – and I’d persuade him to ditch the beard – or at least trim it! 😉 Aw, thank you, LR – very kind! And I’m glad to see you around and about and blogging again too… I missed you! 🙂 Chocolate cake sounds good…always!


  16. Very interesting – I like this one and I might pinch the idea (consider myself tagged), although I have THREE blogs, so which one would I write about … ?


  17. Some fantastic answers here FF and I will now be able to visualise you in that green ballgown which is far more fancy than the tatty pyjamas that I am often wearing while pondering what words to add to the blank page! I love visiting your blog for the reviews as well as the silly posts and I’m so glad I’m not the only book-blogger that has decided that the reviews are the bit that is the hardest!! Thanks for another entertaining post 🙂


    • Haha! But keeping that ballgown ironed and ready really eats into my reading time! 😉 Thank you! And if I remember rightly Phil nominated you too (and if he didn’t, I do!) so I’m hoping I’ll get to read your answers too… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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