Sunday, October 13, 2013

Interview with Reviewer/Blogger Chris, from Stumbling Over Chaos


While author interviews are fairly common, there are so many others supporting GLBT fiction: readers, publishers, artists, editors, reviewers, and more. Without them, where would our genre be?

I met blogger/reviewer Chris a few years ago after she’d made some insightful comments on one of my books, and asked her if she’d mind beta reading the next one. Long story short, she’s beta read four or five now, though how she has time I’ll never know, what with her blogging duties at Stumbling Over Chaos. Please welcome Chris, blogger and proud pet parent to Chaos and Mayhem (who have a dedication in my The Match Before Christmas, as they inspired Barry’s cats, Tom I and Tom II).

If you were writing a blurb for your site, how would you describe it?
The strange intersection between m/m romance and cat pictures.

Wanna tell us a bit about Chaos and Mayhem, the kitty “stars” of your site?
Chaos will be 10 in a couple weeks. My friend Jeanne describes him as my psychotic stalker ex-boyfriend who lives with me. He's, um, a little overattached. May's 7 1/2 and not related to Chaos at all. She's got really soft bunnyesque fur.

When and why did you first start blogging? Did Stumbling Over Chaos begin life as a M/M book information site, or did it evolve?
I started blogging at the end of November 2005. It started as a knit blog, although the cat pictures have always been a constant. Back then it was just Chaos. Blogging was quite the thing in knitting land at the time, which I think is what got me going. Everyone else was doing it... ;)

Many blogs start with good intentions with regular posts, but later fizzle. Not yours! I have a blog that I post to fairly regularly, but that can be a chore sometimes. How do you manage to post consistently week after week? Between the lovely captioned pics of the kitties and all your regular installments, plus reviews, plus book giveaways, how much of your time per week does blogging take?
Probably 5-6 hours, with Linkity taking 2+ of that. Sometimes it's hard to be excited about blogging at all and it feels like a huge chore. I definitely took some time off from the Misadventures and Linkity over the summer when I was buying and moving into a new condo.

Advice I give any author who asks me about marketing: arrange a giveaway at Stumbling Over Chaos. (Thanks for that. I know it’s made a tremendous difference for my own books). I’ve never counted, but how many books do you give away, on average, each week, and what’s the normal number of hits for each. (New authors, take note!)
Aww. J On average, three contests/books each week, Tuesday through Thursday. Hits vary widely, depending on how familiar people are with the author and also with the subgenre - scifi has a hard go of it sometimes! I'd say 30 - 80 is a normal range.

I love, love, LOVE your series, Misadventures in Stock Photography. How did that start, how hard is it to amass those weekly covers, and how do you come up with those clever lines to link them all together? (here's an example, for those of you who haven't yet discovered this hilarious weekly post).
Well, if you were go back to the very first Misadventure, it didn't have the, erm, "narrative" structure it has now - I was mostly posting a few covers with the same cover model and discussing them. It's not that hard to amass covers - I have this freaky pattern matching skill that really makes the matches jump out at me. Plus people send me covers they find, although I can get kinda overwhelmed by that. I stash covers by model in a pretty out of control Evernote folder, so that I have stuff on hand. Right now there are 320 notes in that folder, each with multiple covers - some with 30+ covers. I'm not even sure how I come up with the lines - I just pick 8 - 12 covers and then desperately try to connect their titles into a narrative of sorts.

Let’s talk Linkity. Once again you seem to scour the Internet for the choicest bits of news to share. Do you go it alone, or do folks send you links?
Both. During the week, I star things in my feed reader that strike my fancy, then wade through those on Thursday to put together Linkity.

Between reviewing and beta duties, how many books would you say you read in an average week?
Well, I'm not doing much, erm, any reviewing right now and virtually no beta reading. Almost exactly a year ago, I fell into the world of hockey rpf (real person fic) fanfiction and have been mostly (happily) stuck there.

I know you just bought a new home (congratulations!). What’s next for you?  
Thanks! Selling my old home is a big priority right now. J

Outside of your online presence, what’s a normal day like?
MWF I work from home, going into the office on Tu & Th. I'm a senior systems analyst for a telecommunications company and have worked there for over 17 years. There's nothing else I can tell you about my job that won't make everyone's eyes glaze over instantly, but I enjoy it. Most days.

You obviously adore fiction and give a lot of thought to your reviews. Have you ever considered writing your own stories?
LOL! I've jotted down a few random paragraphs here and there, mostly fanfic stuff. But I'm not really that sort of creative. Creative nonfiction would be more my speed, if I got the itch to write.

What words of advice would you give a new writer?
Don't churn out the same things everyone else is churning out. I think there's a lot of frustration among m/m readers about how much m/m follows the same overused formulas.
Oh, and everyone needs an editor, no matter how long they've been writing. Really. It's important.

What is one thing about you that might surprise your fans?
I ran away from home when I was 16 and lived in Florida for a year, working at Burger King and waiting tables at a pizza place.

What other hobbies do you enjoy besides reading and blogging?
I knit, although not much at all over the past few years - I'm almost done with my sister-in-law's Christmas socks... for Christmas 2012. I like walking, but the whole new home/selling old home thing has destroyed my exercise schedule this year.

If I were planning a visit to your city, what recommendations would you make for me to see while I was there?
Mostly things from my neighborhood, other than the Mall of America (because who doesn't enjoy a good spectacle?).The Sculpture Garden. Get on a bike and check out all the trails. Walk around a couple of lakes. Go to a show at First Avenue (made famous by the movie Purple Rain). Have a pizza delivered by a superhero in an electric car.

Where can people find you online?
Besides the blog...
Tumblr - stumblingoverchaos.tumblr.com
Booklikes - stumblingoverchaos.booklikes.com (we'll see how this one goes)
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/99747-chris

Thank you, Chris, for joining us today at Magnolias and Men. 

Folks, for book news, Misadventures, book giveaways, and Chaos and Mayhem, be sure to visit Chris at Stumbling Over Choas. 

6 comments:

  1. I guess that wasn't so bad. :D Thanks, Eden!

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  2. Good recommendations for your area (I've added them to my list>> thanks!). Interesting interview... though I disagree I think you're very creative Misadventures in Stock Photography takes some wonderful turns and spins.
    Hugs, Z.

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    1. Aw, thank you! I could probably be more clear on that - I'm not the sort of creative that can write original fiction. :)

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  3. Great interview, ladies, and long overdue. Chris does a lot for us and It's nice to see her featured for a change. I enjoyed learning more about her.

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