By Jeanne Adams and Cassondra Murray
ROOSTER CROW!!! DRUM ROLL!!!! TRUMPET FANFARE!!! DRAGON ROAR!!!
Please welcome, the one, the only
Cassondra: Jeanne, you're going to scare her off.
Jeanne: Barbara? No way. That woman has nerves of steel. She took on Publisher's Weekly, after all. And has now become the personality behind one of the top reviewer sites on the 'net. Barbara's Beyond Her Book Blog is the "go to" spot for information about the top books in Romance today. She's always got positive reviews. She's always going to a conference or event and sending back pictures and live streaming video and interviews to keep everyone "in the know" about the latest in romance, in books, and in what's up in our industry.
Cassondra: Yes, Barbara ROCKS. However, didja really think we needed a trumpet fanfare?
Jeanne, looking abashed: Well, maybe that was overkill. But I do so love a good trumpet volley. Figured if I was going to dust off the trumpets, and trumpeteers, then we might as well have a good blaring welcome blast, don't you know.
Cassondra shakes her head and turns to our guest: WELCOME to the Lair, Barbara! Jeanne and I have met up with you all over the country, at RWA events, Thriller events and more, but this is the first time the two of us, together as a team, have had you join us in the Lair. We're so glad you could make it.
Barbara: Thanks, Cassondra and Jeanne. And thank you to all Romance Bandits and friends.
Cassondra: So how did you get started doing what you do, Barbara?
Barbara, laughing: That's the very first question I always get asked is, “How did you get this amazing job?” I guess the easiest answer is by being an avid reader. Because I was reading a book a day (at that time) I kept noticing an ad at the back of the books called “Get Caught Reading at Sea.” Turns out there was going to be an author/reader cruise with about 30 authors and all I could think was that I would be on a ship for seven days with authors who had no where else to go.
Jeanne: Oh, noeeesss! No escape! Haha! Actually, I'm teasing. As an author, I think that would be fabulous to be on a ship with dozens, if not hundreds of avid readers. Not only would I get my extrovert fix, but I'd get to enjoy being both a writer and a reader too! I take it you went on the cruise?
Barbara: Oh, yes! I made my reservation and immediately started reading a book by every author. Then I emailed the author to say I enjoyed their book and looked forward to meeting them on the cruise.
Cassondra: That was courteous. And how like you, Barbara.
Barbara: Thank you! Once on the ship, I got to meet every author and one morning, while breakfasting with Marjorie Liu, I saw a woman all alone and asked her to join us. She turned out to be Karen Holt, Deputy Editor of Publishers Weekly.
Now, being a reader, I thought Publishers Weekly was a publisher, so I told Karen to sit down and I would tell her everything that was wrong with publishing from a readers point of view.
Jeanne: Good heavens! That's awesome! What did she do?
Barbara: Well, she took notes and wrote a story about me in Publishers Weekly that included my picture. A few months later, Karen contacted me and said PW was starting an online magazine and thought I would be perfect to write a blog from a readers point of view. I declined and told her to send books instead.
Cassondra: More books to feed the habit, right? But if you declined....
Barbara: Exactly, I loved the books. As to the blog, thankfully, Karen kept calling and after my son showed me a blog and explained that I should write it like I was talking to a friend, I accepted for a 3 month trial. Well, it’s been over 4 years and I’m still at it.
Jeanne: OMGosh, I had forgotten that you didn't, at the time, even know what a blog WAS, much less how to write one. You're such a natural at it, it doesn't seem possible. But you absolutely write it as if you are talking to a friend - me! - and that warmth and fun come through in every posting of Beyond Her Book.
Barbara: Thank you, Jeanne. It was an experience! I’ve learned many things along the way. Remember, being a reader I had no clue to how publishing worked. I now know so much more! Here are some key things I learned that I think most people don't know:
There's a difference between an editor and an agent.
An author doesn’t pick their own cover.
There are many imprints under one giant publisher.
An author isn’t necessarily responsible for all the editing mistakes in a book.
Publishers have certain criteria that writers have to follow. (I just thought they could write whatever they wanted.)
Writers actually have to work hard at writing a book. (I thought they sat around in sweats eating junk food and the stories just magically came to them.)
There’s a lot more to publishing a book than any reader ever wanted to know.
Cassondra: Amen to that, Barbara! The sheer number of steps in the process boggles the mind. What else has happened for you since you became the woman behind Beyond Her Book?
Barbara: I’ve been blessed to meet my favorite authors and discover many new ones in all my travels and traveling is one of my favorite parts of what I do. I get to go all over the United States and talk to amazing people and then write about it. How cool is that?
Jeanne: Have to say, that is TOTALLY cool! What's been the most exciting thing you've done so far?
Barbara: My first Comic Con in San Diego was overwhelming, but when I was invited to interview some movie and tv stars, I thought I was dreaming. I went to press junkets where you sit in a room and the stars and director of a movie come in and go table to table to talk to the press and all of a sudden I found myself one of the press.
Not knowing the rules, I asked for pictures and hugs from Dakota Fanning, Chris Evans, Richard Dean Anderson (and the rest of the cast of Stargate), Joss Whedon, Stan Lee, the entire casts of Burn Notice, Fringe, White Collar and Psych. I had lunch with Stephen Collins at the Hard Rock Cafe and talked about 7th Heaven and First Wives Club.
I met Bruce Campbell and had my picture taken. My son posted it on Facebook and declared me the “coolest mom ever.”
Cassondra: This is amazing, Barbara! I'd agree with your son. And kudos to him for helping you find the confidence to take that first step to blog, and big kudos to him for recognizing that his mom is an outstanding part of our Reader/Writer world!
Jeanne: Well said, Cassondra! So, what's coming up for you next, Barbara?
Barbara: I'm very excited to tell you about that. Next year I’ll be hosting my first Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Luncheon in the Milwaukee area. This has been a dream of mine for years. Thirty-eight authors have agreed to come in to meet, greet, eat with and sign books for almost 300 readers. This is a real coup for the midwest.
I don’t know what else is in store for me, but I look forward to each new adventure.
Jeanne and Cassondra: Barbara, thank you SO much for being with us today!
So Banditas and Bandita Buddies, have you ever done something wild and crazy, like jump into a new career? What was that like for you?
Barbara has an outstanding blog in Beyond Her Book, what questions do you have for her about the blog and how she got started?
Would you have had the courage to hug Joss Whedon? What about the guy from Burn Notice? Grins.
As a reader, which authors would you love to sit down to lunch with, like at Barbara's upcoming luncheon, and chat about books?
Don't forget to check back for a big announcement on October 14 as we kick off Trick or Treat. The best treat of all will be awarded during the Duchesse's Halloween party on October 31. If you're not in the know after the 14th, you might miss the treat.