Diva Interview: Vilma Gonzalez of Vilma’s Book Blog
Today Write Divas welcomes Vilma Gonzalez of Vilma’s Book Blog. I have interviewed book designers, authors, and now bloggers. When I was searching for a blogger to interview, Vilma’s name was the first to come to mind. I follow her reviews and enjoy her commentary on books and her appreciation of authors in general. Vilma has gained much popularity in the last year with her blog and other social media she posts on. Her Facebook has reached eight thousand likes already! That’s pretty impressive!
So without further ado, let’s get into the mind of Miss Vilma.
1: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you start your blog? What sparked the idea? How fast have your grown since you’ve started?
First off, thank you for having me! A little bit about me… I’m a mother and wife. I married my high school sweetheart, and we’ve got two boys, ages 8 and 4. I work full time. I’m a perfectionist. I take on too much. I thrive when I’m busy (which is all the time these days). And I will never say no to a lovely glass of red wine.
I’ve been writing and reading avidly since I was very young and over time, my friends continuously asked me what they should read next. About a year ago I started to keep track of what books I read on an excel sheet. The file included main characters and some notes on the book itself. This excel sheet was being passed around and after a while, I decided to start blogging about books! I had absolutely no idea what to do and didn’t follow a single book blog at the time. I didn’t know what to expect, nor did I imagine the amount of blogs already out there. Thankfully, my blog began to grow slowly but surely with the help of some amazing authors who took a chance on me. It’s been about 9 months and I just celebrated 8,000 likes on my blog’s Facebook page this week! I’m very lucky to have the nicest, coolest, most supportive followers.
2: How do you find the time to read so many books? How do you juggle blogging and your family?
This is absolutely the most difficult aspect of blogging. There is no such thing as balance, I think. Just a constant, well-orchestrated juggling. I read and write reviews after homework is done and my kids go to bed and I work late every single day. Some nights it’s until 1:00 a.m., other nights it’s as late as 3:00 a.m., and then I wake up at 6:00 a.m. and start the day all over again. It’s exhausting most days, but at the same time, I enjoy the quiet time with a book and the cathartic process of writing. I’m also very thankful to have made some pretty amazing friendships that support me on the days that are particularly stressful. But I do it for the love of reading and for the high I get from having a follower thank me for a great recommendation. I think the best advice I could give is prioritize daily, keep organized and if it all feels like too much, take a break.
4: Do you find authors support book blogs more now than in the past? Do you think the support is more positive than negative? Which social networks do you think help the author the most?
I think authors have realized that bloggers can have significant influence. At the same time, the community is rather saturated with bloggers right now so I imagine it’s particularly difficult for an author to respond to all the bloggers out there. I often remind myself that authors have to manage writing, social media promotion and responding to bloggers and authors alike, and it’s certainly an overload. On the flip side, us bloggers do what we do to support them and as a whole, most everyone I’ve come across has been incredibly supportive. An author friend of mine once said that the blogger/author relationship is symbiotic. We both need each other and that is very true. There just needs to be a mutual respect and understanding of each other’s time.
In terms of social media, it’s a total time suck… but a necessity. I’m an absolutely incompetent tweeter, so I tend to stick to Facebook! I try not to overload my followers with information, and try to keep it as useful as possible. As a reader, I also prefer Facebook when looking for author news. I love the interactivity and quick response.
5: What are your guidelines on reviewing books for your blog? Do you feel comfortable being critical with books that need some work? I know on my blog, I try not to review anything under three stars, do you have a similar policy?
I spend a lot of time on reviews. A LOT. I write more than a quick paragraph and try to be really thoughtful about the elements that make a good book. Admittedly, I’m not an easy reviewer. It’s a subjective art, and for me, I tend to base my evaluation on 4 elements: (1) writing, (2) storytelling, (3) character development, and (4) enjoyment factor. I never like giving a negative review, but I am always honest and I try to focus on not only identifying the aspects that fell short, but also how those elements could have been improved. I will always contact an author if my review is a 3 or less. Sometimes I will publish and sometimes I will not. I focus on talking about the books I love.
6: You go to many book conventions. Who are your favorite authors to work with? Do you think these conventions help the author meet more bloggers and readers?
I love attending events, although I get really nervous!!! I am actually not the most extroverted person, and so I get anxious about interacting with everyone. However, I have once again been very lucky, and I feel I’ve been well received by the authors I’ve come to know. Events give readers and bloggers a really good opportunity to meet everyone. Particularly for bloggers, it gives an author a face to a blog and that face time is invaluable. There are too many amazing people to name, but I’m constantly blown away by the authors who take the time to send me a thank you message, comment on my Facebook or blog post, or send me a book as a thank you. The impact of a simple gesture is significant. This past weekend I had the opportunity to meet Jennifer L. Armentrout, one of my favorite authors, and she was just the coolest person ever!
7: A tough question: What do you do when one of your friends has a poor book? Do you try to help as much as you can with a kind review? What crosses your mind when this happens? Or do you speak truthfully and hope the criticism is productive for the author?
Tough, tough, tough. While I do believe I am as objective as possible, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that my experiences and personal tastes do influence what I write. And yes, as a blogger you do end up forging friendships with others authors, and one must be careful to basically, keep it real. I think in the end, authors respect reviewers who are honest and respectful in their assessments. In the end, honesty is always the best policy. And yes, I’ve had to tell friends that their book didn’t resonate. My reviews are entirely my opinion, and I will always call out what made the book great and/or what could’ve made it better.
8: What up and coming authors or books are you excited about?
Ah!!! So so so many! Here are some that are high on my list:
- Gabriel’s Redemption (#3, Gabriel) by Sylvain Reynard (Dec 3)
- Before We Fall (#3, Beautifully Broken) by Courtney Cole (Dec 3)
- The Redhead Plays Her Hand (#3, Redhead) by Alice Clayton (Dec 24)
- Come to Me Quietly by A.L. Jackson (Jan 7)
- Iniquity (#5, Premonition) by Amy Bartol (Early 2014)
- Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Apr 15)
- Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover (Mar 18)
- City of Heavenly Fire (#6, Mortal Instruments) by Cassandra Clare (May 27)
- The Book of Life (#3, All Souls Trilogy) by Deborah Harkness (Jul 15)
Thank you, Vilma, so much for your time.