Friday, November 13, 2020

from Blogger To Bestseller

I've always been rather intrigued by the world of the blog.  And even more so  by the world of bloggers. 

In fact I have no idea how I even started blogging on this site. Somebody must have trapped me in a darkened room  and forced me to listen to 'This is my World' by Kanye West  until I submitted.

It wouldn't have taken long.

But in this blog, Murder is Everywhere, we are a number of miscrea.... people who are connected by the writing of fiction and the possession of high intellects (?) and are geographically  widespread so we can blog about many things which may be of interest to others.

So what of the bloggers who blog about books?  What happens on the blog tour? Why would you blog about crime fiction when you could be writing the fiction yourself?

To answer these questions is Sharon Bairden, super blogger ( she blogs as ChapterInMyLife),  in November she'll be a published author and is generally all round good egg. In her spare time she spends time with her yellow lab,  and a very small grandson.


 Here's Sharon being grilled by my good self.

How did your love of crime fiction start?
I suppose I was always a bit of a weird child, while other girls were lovingly tending to their dolls and teddies, I set up my dolls hospital for mutilated toys… Combine that with my obsessive reading habits and it really was never in any doubt that crime fiction was going to be my go to genre! What was the book/author that sparked your interest?
Probably like millions of others my age, Enid Blyton and The Famous Five were part of my staple diet. My dad’s aunt had a cottage in Ferryden near Montrose, it was called Smugglers Den, a tiny little cottage with a recessed bed and resident ghosts. My aunt always had books lying around and I remember picking up Agatha Christie’s Sparkling Cyanide at around ten years old and from then on I was hooked and quickly moved on to Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Then when I was a little older (I’m not telling you how old though!) I discovered Lin Anderson and then my love of Scottish Crime Fiction blossomed! What started you off blogging?
Social media taught me that I wasn’t the only obsessive reader in the world and through a number of book groups on Facebook I got to know some book bloggers and learned just how important reviews are to authors. I started my blog, Chapter in My Life but didn’t share anything until it had been up and running for about a year. I was terrified that folk would think my reviews were awful!

What makes a good book review? Indeed, if you think a book is awful, do you still review it? For me a good book review is one that tells me how the reader felt reading the book; how did they engage with the characters, did they feel they were living the story, could they imagine themselves in the place where the story takes place, did their heart pound, were they afraid. It’s all about the feels for me. Definitely NO spoilers and no rehash of the story or the blurb! Ah, the age old question. I set up my blog to talk about the books I love. I wouldn’t review a book I didn’t enjoy because a. I know how much blood, sweat and tears goes into writing a book and who am I to perhaps destroy someone’s confidence just because I didn’t enjoy what they had written? What is an awful book for me may be the best book someone else has ever read b. it can take ages to write a review and I don’t have time to write reviews for something I haven’t enjoyed. I’m also pretty good at picking my reads and I know what makes me tick so it’s less likely I’m going to pick up a book that I won’t enjoy. Say a few words about how lovely the Scottish crime writing community is, or how awful they are?
Just a few words? There are millions of words to describe how lovely the Scottish crime writing community is! The support is tremendous. I remember going to Bloody Scotland when it first started and just slipping in and out of panels, too shy to get a book signed or to talk to anyone. I was completely in awe of everyone. Then I began blogging and volunteering at festivals and got to know authors, readers and bloggers and that’s when my super stalking began! I’ve been amazed and overwhelmed by the support shown by the crime writing community, not only in Scotland (but obviously the Scottish crime writers are the best!) From pep talks about believing in yourself; to imparting knowledge and wisdom, to sharing on social media. And now that my book is out there, the support from other writers has been fantastic. There is definitely a very real feel of community, of family and a sense that other writers want you to succeed. Do you want to tell us about your secret twin?
Ha, like my imaginary friend one or the one I commonly refer to as #Twinnie! I’m definitely not telling you about the voices in my head so I’ll stick with Noelle. Noelle Holten is blogger turned super author and we met through blogging around 5 years ago. We both have very similar tastes in books, we both had labs and we both loved to author stalk and quickly folk started referring to us as the Twinnies. We finally met in person four years ago at Harrogate (and we were both worried we would hate each other in real life!) and we just clicked. Since then we have had brilliant fun travelling to festivals, stalking…I mean supporting….writers and generally just having good times! We are both very alike, we are actually really quiet and shy in real life, honestly, we are! And of course, if it wasn’t for the accents, Noelle is Canadian, then nobody could tell us apart! Were you interested in crime fiction as a reader and then you thought ‘maybe I could write a book’, or have you always had the ambition to become a published author?
I always wanted to write as a child and loved to create my own little books, you know the kind, sheets of paper stapled together and lovingly illustrated with weird squiggles! I grew older and still thought that I’d love to write a book but believed that writing books was for “other people”, the kind of people who lived in secluded mansions and gazed out of the window seeking inspiration before effortlessly producing literary masterpieces! And then I began to hang around book festivals and events and quickly realised most writers were just ordinary people, living ordinary lives, following their passions outside of work and the humdrum of life! I went along to a few writing workshops and courses and even got funding to set up a Creative Writing Group in my work for people who use our service. We were lucky enough to have been able to employ Donna Moore as our writer in residence and she really ignited my passion. Then Noelle told me all about Crime and Publishment, a Creative Writing Course, that takes place over a weekend and run by Graham Smith and Michael J Malone. Noelle totally sold it to me, so I went along a couple of years ago and came away thinking, maybe I can actually do this! Tell us about the moment your book was accepted for publication?
You mean, you didn’t hear me scream! I had a bit of a strange journey to publication. I submitted my book to agents and publishers and got lots of lovely rejections. However, I also got a couple of offers and at the same time was invited to Liverpool to the Pitch DHH event to DHH Literary Agents. I didn’t want to turn this opportunity down and off I went down to Liverpool to pitch my book! While, I wasn’t successful in my pitch, I was given some fantastic advice by Broo Doherty. So I returned home and turned down the offers I’d been given and decided to do a massive re-write! For ages I cursed myself upside down but by the time I’d finished the rewrite I was much happier with the work I’d produced! So I went back to one of the publishers, Red Dog Press, who had initially offered me a deal, and prayed they wouldn’t think I was a diva for rejecting their initial offer! Thankfully they didn’t! I ugly cried with happiness and don’t think I’ve stopped since! And now you’ve seen writing life from both sides, the writer and the reviewer, has anything surprised you?
I think the biggest thing for me, is the realisation, that almost every writer, suffers from a crippling anxiety when it comes to people reading and reviewing their books. I am absolutely dreading reviews coming in and have already been warned to stay away from Goodreads which can be the darkest place for writers to venture! And I suppose the other surprise for me was, finding out that most writers, write a first draft and it isn’t perfect! I was so embarrassed by mistakes I’d made through the editing process and was relieved to find out it isn’t just me! And of course tell us about the new book!
Ok, So Sins of the Father explores the impact of trauma through Rebecca’s eyes. We meet her first as a child and then again as an adult and discover that she has married, not out of love but in a bid to destroy her husband. But there’s someone else out there who is messing with Rebecca’s head. As secrets are unearthed, Rebecca fears for her life and her sanity. Tell us a wee bit about your blog. Chapterinmylife is where I share my love of all things criminal from book reviews to coverage of book launches and festivals. It’s a great platform to talk about books I’ve enjoyed and hopefully encourage others to buy and read them. I also enjoy sharing book launches and festivals as I think it helps take the fear some people might have about going along to some of these events, because, as we all know, they are not a bunch of literary types standing around nibbling canapes and being all intellectual! As a blogger what annoys you about publishers and indeed, what do some writers do that annoy you as a blogger?
Haha, nothing really annoys me about publishers or writers, except where people are pushy and rude. I’m lucky though, I’ve had great experiences with both and have found them to be super supportive. I remember you interviewing some authors at Bute Noir, how did it feel to be on the stage rather than looking at it?
Terrifying! If you talk to anyone in my day job, they will tell you that I point blank refuse to give presentations or talks to audiences as I hate being up on stage and standing in front of an audience! But there’s something quite different about interviewing writers, because it’s all about them, not about me. People in the audience have come along to see the author, not me, so it doesn’t feel quite as scary anymore! I feel you’re pretty committed to your day job, do you ever see yourself giving it up, or would you always try and do the balancing act?
Depends what day you ask me that question! Some days I think I’d love to give up the day job and write full time but in my heart I think I need my job to keep my sanity and to keep me grounded. I think if I was to write full time, I’d not be as disciplined as I try to be now and I’d find myself navel gazing way more than is helpful! Plus, I am committed to what I do during the day, I’m Services Manager of a small independent Advocacy Service, which is all about ensuring that people have their voices heard and that their rights are upheld. We work alongside some of the most marginalised people in our communities and sadly the need for independent advocacy is greater than ever in the current climate. So I guess, even if I was to write full time, I think I’d need to be involved in the movement some way or another.

Sharon Bairden
a day ago

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations, Sharon. Welcome to the world of perpetual uncertainty. And thanks for your blogs.