Meet Book Blogger Sandra Valente: Part Two

If you missed Part One of the interview with Sandra, click HERE.

You give in-depth and insightful reviews. Do you enjoy the review process? Are there ever days where you think “that’s it. I’m done with reviewing?”

Thank you, Emma; it makes me really happy you think so! 🙂  I do enjoy the review process, most of the time. By this, I mean that some reviews are just so easy peasy – they flow from my mind to my fingers, like a leaf floats down to the ground on a gentle breeze. I can sit here and bang away (on my keyboard!) for half an hour to an hour, by which time my review looks like a story all its own. It feels pretty much the same and just as pleasurable, as having eaten a slice of decadent, lemon cheesecake! LOL These reviews give me instant gratification. Others take longer and not solely because I didn’t enjoy the book, but because I want to add something in particular which takes more time as I go through my highlights, or because what I want to say needs to be just right. I’m pedantic, and it’s not something I can help either. If I’m to continue with this (give me strength) this honesty I can’t seem to tamper down, I’d have to say, yes… there are days I want to get up and walk away. However, these are few and far between, luckily. I find it best to leave reviews that irk me and get back to them later on in the day, instead of trying to forge on while my frustration levels hit the roof.

What’s your favourite genre?

This is a toughie! I’m very open-minded, so enjoy a wide variety of genres. However, I was a terrible introvert growing up. Seriously, it was so bad my poor parents were at a loss as to what to do with me. They begged me to go out! Usually parents want their children to stay home. 🙂 I still refused as it wasn’t my scene, so, as you may have guessed, I literally lived in books. Romance books. Oh my word, I loved romance books and devoured them like nobody’s business. I still do. I’d have to say romance, and not just purely romance – any book encompassing romance, be it romantic suspense, paranormal romance, contemporary, anything – makes no difference.

I love the paranormal romance genre, as well you know or anyone who visits my blog. Tell me, when you’re not reading and blogging, how do you like to spend your time?

I do know! Hehehe! All I want to do is read and blog, but that’s not possible. 🙂 I love meeting up with girlfriends for some fab downtime where we drink copious amounts of coffee (or margaritas), talk about whatever takes our fancy, and of course we inevitably chat about – no brainer here – books. I also love spending a good hour or more, if I have the time, in a book store. I love book stores so much, I could, quite happily, set up a camping bed in one corner with a bedside lamp and live there permanently!

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I’m the same with book shops, especially second hand ones. When you read a book you don’t like, how do you handle the review? 

I love second-hand ones, too!

As you know, one thing I do not do on my blog as I refuse to bash authors and their work, is review books I would rate below a 3 star. Not all books and not all stories are for everyone, so I don’t see the point of hurting someone and their feelings just so I can author/book bash. This is actually one of the things I had up on my Review Request page. Something along the lines of, “If you’re looking for this type of review, best you go somewhere else as you won’t find it here.” But in keeping with my honesty and feelings towards a book, I will mention (not always, only if it gets to a point where there are way too many wrong things) repetition, typos not only in spelling but the use of both US and UK spelling. Not everyone knows the difference, but it’s something everyone should take the time to Google when not sure. It’s very distracting, and often considered flat out typos.

Just because I don’t review books I’d rate below a 3 star, doesn’t mean I didn’t have an issue or two with any book I’ve rated from 3 to 5 stars. I can love a book to bits but if something bothers me, I will say so. What I’ve done in the past, and will still do should I come across the same issues, will be to contact the author personally. I will not tear an author to pieces on my blog, on Amazon, on Goodreads or wherever. My conscience would kill me. Believe it or not, I’ve been thanked for taking the time in letting authors know about any inconsistencies in their book. I even go as far as to type up certain lines or passages from their manuscripts, so they can see exactly what I’m talking about. I’ve done a guest post where I mentioned this exact thing. An author I’d e-mailed was quite shocked at what I had to say. No, not because I was horrible or nasty, far from it – I’m never that – but because she has quite a huge following and not one single person who’d read her book (some of which she considers friends) mentioned a thing. They told her the book was great, which by the way it was as I’ve read it, and most rated it 5 stars. Now, it doesn’t matter what it was rated because the story was really good, but if you call this person a friend then tell them. Don’t let them think all is hunky dory! You are not doing the author any favours. Are you doing your ‘friend’ any favours? I don’t think so.

I am honest in every single review I write. I don’t sugar-coat anything, whether good (you’ve seen how ‘teenager’ I can be when I love a book to bits) or not so good. I just do it with class! *wink* Those who take great pleasure in slamming authors are more than welcome to do so on their blogs. I truly believe that there are ways and means to write a non-favourable review. I’ve seen downright nasty ones, which have made me cringe on an author’s behalf. I won’t put my name to those. If you are looking for a particular review on a book you’re interested in and don’t find it on my blog, it’s either because I haven’t read it, or because I did and didn’t like it. No further discussion is necessary. Remember, in these types of situations, I contact the author privately. Whether an author takes what I have to say into consideration is totally at their discretion. Simple.

I’d say authors appreciate getting that email from you. Particularly when they’re indie and most of their books are in ebook format, it’s easy enough to correct a few typos and republish.

I completely agree with you, Emma, e-book formats make it that much easier. Some authors have gone back, fixed up what was wrong and re-published.

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You beta read and edit also. How did you get into that? (And thank you for all your help with my stuff)!

You are very welcome, and it’s always a pleasure, Emma! Oh gosh, I can’t believe I even got into all of this. I first beta read for a very well known, traditionally published, American author (she’s so good!), who e-mailed me regarding a story she’d written way back when. It had spent far too long in her drawer, gathering dust. She wanted to self-pub this one. As you can imagine, I was over the freaking moon. I took it on and gave her feedback. She was very pleased with what I had to say and in thanks for beta reading for her, she sent me a box of autographed books! YAY! Made my year.

As far as editing goes, it all started with a fellow South African author. I’m currently in the process of editing her second book. We met on Twitter. She’d sent me an ARC of her book, and shortly thereafter I started reading it. However, it got to a point where I asked if we could meet in person. I loved her book so much, but there were typos. It was on the verge, I kid you not, of being published, so I panicked as I had to say something! It was killing me. We met, and as hard as it was for me to tell her what I’d come across, I worked up the courage and got it out. I must mention, though, that she’s very intuitive and had already gathered what I wanted to talk about. She was sad due to having had the book professionally edited. Out of the blue, she asked me if I’d work on it. I was shocked and told her I wasn’t a ‘professional’ editor (and I was scared), but she wasn’t phased in the least because she couldn’t believe what I’d picked up, so was more than happy for me to fix what needed fixing. It’s been an amazing journey, and we work so well together. We just get each other. I was touched and because she’d already paid someone to edit, I refused to be paid for it. And that is how I came to edit! 🙂 I’ve since edited for a UK author (also free of charge), and for another author based in the US. I only edit for indie authors, for a minimal charge, and only when I’ve managed to swim my way up to the surface where reading and blogging are concerned.

During the above, this happened. I’d become friends with another author (fellow South African as well, although I’m up in JHB and she’s in CT) on Twitter, who by the way is a professional editor and runs her own business. There were certain words I wasn’t sure should be capitalised and so on while editing, so I would ask her a few things. She’s fabulous, and always got back to me with suggestions and answers to my queries. She’s truly top notch! She asked me one day to take an editor’s test. OMW. I just about fainted, and became very nervous. When I replied, I told her I couldn’t possibly do it as I was nervous and didn’t want to look like a right troll! Also, I didn’t have a piece of paper stating I was an editor. She laughed this off, told me I’d be surprised by how many people with qualifications (said piece of paper) failed the test miserably and persisted, dared me, persisted some more, told me she knew I could do it, and I eventually gave up and took the dreaded test. Of course, for the next day or so, I bit my nails, paced up and down; bit whatever was left of my nails and waited in anticipation for the return e-mail and result. When it came through, I freaked out some more, was desperate to look, but didn’t want to at the same time. It was awful to say the least. She said, “I told you so!” LOL She was impressed, especially when I told her English was not my first language. I’m Portuguese. I guess being an introvert and living in books from an early age (10, as this was how old I was when we immigrated to South Africa from Mozambique) helped. For some reason, I can pick up on typos (always easier when they are someone else’s, of course), I can tell the difference between US and UK English, re-construct sentences in order that they make sense, so on and so forth – all that lovely stuff. Let me tell you, it’s darn, hard work! I love it though. But, it’s darn, hard work. The best part? I learn something new every single day.

I’ve now edited a book for this author/editor, and it happened to be non-fiction. That was scary, but I did it. She checked my work and I got the thumbs up. I’m not saying I’m perfect and wasn’t, far from it, as nobody is, but I’m willing to learn as I go along. That always counts for something.

I’d never have guessed you’re Portuguese! One last question, and I’ll let you go. What’s the part of blogging you enjoy the most?

Good! That means I at least make some sense when I write, hahaha.

Everything! I love meeting people from all walks of life, some of which have become very good friends. If I had to pick one though, besides doing reviews, it’s the joy of putting my posts together, and the freedom to be creative. I can, and do, spend hours making things. 🙂 If I can help someone by making them something, then I will, and I’ll smile all day long.

Thank you again, Emma. Although I’ve ranted – you asked – it’s been loads of fun. 🙂

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Thanks for sharing with us, Sandra. Best of luck with your blog. If you’d like to check out Sandra’s online home, visit Simply Sensational Book Fanatics.

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About Emma

Buffy fan, avid reader, writer.
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23 Responses to Meet Book Blogger Sandra Valente: Part Two

  1. What a treat to get to know you better, Sandra! Great questions, Emma!

    You are the second person I’ve unofficially met from South Africa, Sandra. What is particularly interesting to me is that, even though you live more than half way across the world from me (I’m in Utah, US) I can so easily relate to you. I’ve seen this quite a bit lately, how similar we all are, no matter where we live or were born.

    It’s kind of neat. I love your honesty, and your review policies are top notch! I actually did a post a while ago on my blog saying why I would never post below a 3 star review (for the same reasons you have). Just because a book doesn’t resonate with me doesn’t mean it won’t with someone else.

    I enjoyed reading your post, and I’ll be checking your blog for your latest reviews.

    Best,

    Christie

    • Aw, thank you so much, Christie! 🙂 I feel the same, though. That’s absolutely true, and quite awesome how we can relate to someone we’ve never met face to face. I think we just get a feel for a particular person. This never would have happened had I not starting blogging, though, so it’s opened up a whole new world for me.. I wasn’t even on Twitter until about a year and a half ago, and after all the horror stories I’d heard about FB, I refused to even be on there, lol. It’s all changed now. I guess we eventually suss out the good and not so good. I’ve met truly salt of the earth people, for which I’ve very thankful, and some are right here on Emma’s blog!

      Thanks, Christie, but I can tell that you are of the same mind. Really? I’m going to go and look for that post. Do you know how happy that makes me feel, knowing that I’m not the only one who won’t rate below a 3 star? Precisely! How many times have I seen people rave about a book, I buy it and I think it’s just okay? But turn the tables, and I know there must be loads of books I’ve raved about, and someone else will think I need my head read! LOL We are all different. It’s what makes life interesting. We just don’t have to be nasty about it.

      I’m so glad to have met you, Christie, and it’s all Emma’s doing! So, thank you, Emma. 😀

      Take care. x

    • Emma says:

      Hi, Christie.
      Glad you enjoyed the interview. I love how the blogging community spans the globe. We get to talk to people from all over the world.
      And Sandra – thanks for agreeing to the interview. I know everyone is busy all the time, so I appreciate you fitting this in.

  2. Sandra, I enjoyed your first interview on Emma’s blog, but I enjoyed this one even more! I’m glad you feel the way you do about not reviewing something you can’t give at least 3 stars. I’m that way, too, in the reviews I’ve written. I just CAN’T do it. I think it’s very classy that you contact the author privately. I’ve had a couple of bad reviews where I could tell the reviewer ENJOYED slamming the book. I just don’t get why people like to do this.

    I followed your blog so I can see all your reviews. I love to find new books to read! Thanks to you and Emma for another great interview.

    • WOW! Thank you so much, Lauralynn. 🙂 Oh my word. I’m so glad you are also of the same mind where rating below a 3 star is concerned. How awful would we feel then? Nope, I can’t do it either. I appreciate you saying that, so thank you.

      Lauralynn, I’m not going to hold back – I’m on a roll here – there are most definitely people out there who slam authors for their own sick ‘enjoyment’. I’ve put that in quotes, because sick and enjoyment are so not in the same sphere it’s laughable. I don’t get why people do this either, and I’m sorry you been on the receiving end of nastiness.

      Here’s an example of what I call absolute nonsense, and it’s taken me over half an hour while I debated with myself if I should include this example. I just hope Emma doesn’t rap me over the knuckles for leaving such long comments! LOL I love J.R. Ward. She’s my number one paranormal romance author. Just yesterday, I popped in to Amazon out of curiosity to see how many reviews had come in for her latest novel, which I’ve read of course. Lo and behold, keeping in mind that there will always be 1 star reviews, I found one that made me laugh out loud due to the ridiculousness of it. As I’m on a roll, I’m going to actually post it here, but won’t name names. Firstly, the series is called the Black Dagger Brotherhood, so shortened, it’s BDB. I don’t know what series BBC is, but clearly it’s not the same one. Also, I don’t know what she means by ‘true BBC’ – like did someone kidnap the author and the novels are now being written by someone else? (Meow – I sound awful here!) Secondly, the rest of this ‘review’ is obviously made up. The series has not ended, what needed to be completed in this latest installment was completed, and if this person HAD truly read any BDB books, she’d know that the next one has been announced by the author on FB, including the cover reveal. And, thirdly, of course she won’t go into all details, she can’t, because she hasn’t read the book. Why, oh why, do this? This one isn’t even one of the nasty ones. I’m just making a point, because most of the time these people don’t even read the book, some just skim through them, pick out what they want and make up nonsense about it. So, here is what I found:

      “Ok, so we’ve all loved the novels of true BBC…..this is the last one of them, and this one so let me down! I won’t go into all the details, but let’s just say nothing in this book was completed. and the ending was rushed and all around I was just not happy!!!”

      I won’t comment on this ‘review’ any further. And yes, this was it.

      Thank you, Lauralynn! YAY. And, you are very welcome. 🙂

      • At least J.R. Ward was probably laughing all the way to the bank. LOL. Incidently, I’m currently on book 9 of BDB. 🙂

        Speaking of not reading the book, I had one review that Amazon took down for me. The reviewer clearly stated she had only read the sample, but that I had “stolen” the character from another book because he had the same name and urged readers to read that one instead of mine.

    • Errr, sorry, I obviously clicked on the wrong reply button when answering Lauralynn’s last comment.

    • Emma says:

      Hi, Lauralynn. I don’t think I’ve left any 2 star reviews around the place. I’d feel quite bad about it. If I didn’t like a book, I generally don’t rate it on Goodreads. Take those bad reviews with a pinch of salt. Even the most popular authors get them. People can be anonymous on the internet and that allows them to be vicious. Just check out any video on YouTube. Some of the comments are so bad, you wonder if they’re just writing to get a reaction.

  3. LOL. She probably was too! Whoop! I hope you are loving the series as much as I do. 😀

    OMG! Are you serious? Just when I think I’ve heard it all, I haven’t. ROFLMAO. I hope all authors are on their toes, ’cause God forbid you use a name someone else has in their book or vice versa. It’s totally ridiculous, Lauralynn. I’m glad Amazon took it down, though. Sheesh!

  4. I’m not spamming, I promise! Christie – loved your book rating post and left a comment.:) Lauralynn, loved your cheese post and left a comment. 🙂 I’ve also followed your blog. And, Emma. I can’t thank you enough for interviewing me, and having me over on your blog. It’s been an absolute blast. xx

  5. Great interviews, ladies! Sandra, authors need more of your kind! I live that you contact the author and let them know of any mistakes you’ve found. I had a similar incident happen to me with my 1st book. Sometimes we can read over our work thousands of times and skip over that mistake millions of times LOL. I happened to have a good friend who was a book review blogger and he emailed me with page numbers and lines of those mistakes after reading the already published copy. I was amazed and so appreciative of the fact that he took the time to write it all down for me! I quickly fixed the mistakes and republished. Honesty is always the best policy unless you are using it to hurt someone. Thank you for the service you give to authors!

    • I’m going to try this again for the third time – believe it or not – because after typing up a replies, I lose connection and my messages vanish! *sob* The Internet is so no co-operating with me today. Growl! LOL

      Thank you, L.J. I’ll turn what you’ve said around, and say that bloggers need to work with more authors, such as those I’ve met right here on Emma’s blog! 🙂

      It’s true. We always miss our own typos. I think it’s because once we’ve read what we’ve written time and again, our brains and eyes read what we intended in the first place, lol. I always says that both of these very useful and amazing ‘tools’ we’ve been blessed with, are very sneaky buggers!

      Now that, L.J. is a friend indeed. I’m so happy that you have a friend who went out of his way to not only let you know what he’d found, but went as far as to add page numbers, which must have helped you tremendously. How awesome of him. 🙂

      Thank you, L.J. I appreciate that you took the time to read, and comment.

      Go well!

    • Emma says:

      It’s hard to edit and proof our own work. We know our book by heart so we don’t always see what’s right in front of us.
      Thanks, L.J.

  6. Shah Wharton says:

    What a fabulous interview Emma and I must say, what an interesting blogger / editor / beta reader (all rounder). I must shoot over to her blog ! 😀

    Shah X

    http://bit.ly/1abAxaR

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