On this episode we interview Deborah Ainsley Apodaca a good friend and great Book Reviewer.
We ask her:
What made you decide to blog
What kind of books can’t you put down.
Do you get a lot of Book Review Requests
Deborah discusses interviews and requests from narrators.
Do you have a favorite sub-genre?
Deb discusses elements of dark romance that she is drawn to.
A book that took you by surprise?
Deb discusses how blurbs can be completely different than the book. They discuss covers as a reader and an author.
How do you find new authors to read?
Deb discusses ARC’s
Are they sent to you?
Do you have an author that you automatically work with, buy and/or review?
What aspect of all the services that you offer do you enjoy the most?
Discuses authors feedback. Learning stories from the authors perspective and behind the scenes with stories was born. And is doing well. Discusses views and blogging. Additional reading outlets to interview and review.
Check out Deborah Apodaca's blog Reading by Deb and don't forget to sign up for her newsletter!
Skylar West/Rogue London
Hi, I'm Ann Jensen coming to you from the east coast of New Jersey. Hi, I'm Skyler West coming to you from the west coast of Canada. We are two Romance Writers using our life experiences to break down and share with you all things romance, how you find your next book, boyfriend, discovering genres and tropes and looking at what works and why. What doesn't work and why. Hey, welcome back to coast to coast romance. And we have a special guest today. This is our first time interviewing the famous Deborah. And they say famous because Deborah is really killing it with her blogging, and with her author interviews, she is in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. So welcome, Deborah. Hi. So glad to be here. Thanks for joining us. odd to have you. So how about we just jump right in? I know that we sent us some very specific questions because we really wanted to tailor this podcast to you. And because you work directly with readers. You know, as authors, we try and write our stories and hope they connect with readers, you as a reader are connecting other readers with our work. So we're very excited about that. So my first question for you is what made you decide to blog for the last few years, I started doing reviews. And I had an author who I have no don't remember who in February, contacted me through Goodreads and told me how much they loved a review I did, which happened to have been on another author and asked me if I would review one of her books. So at that point, I decided to transfer all of my reviews that I had done on Amazon into a blog and just write my reviews and have them and share them. So that's how it started. I just, you know, I realized that somebody that were actually seeing my interviews on Goodreads and BookBub I'm like, why not? Do it in a different format? Get a wider readership. Yeah. So that it's you know, that's what it is. It's reviews, you know, that that's what you're going to see is a review book that I liked. Oh, that's great. Now, do you review just romance? Or do you review all sorts of genres? There, it's all romance. That's my reading choice, although I have read Caterson and load long and suspense novels, but romance has always been my lease, you know, from reality. So I don't see that changing. Although I did have somebody wanting me to review of like a how to book which I thought was kind of bizarre. I think I saw you talking about that actually, in our conversation. Yeah, it's like, I have no clue how they even found me. But needless to say, I did not do that. But yeah, I mean, I don't see it being anything other than romances unless something you know, special comes down out of the works. Right. Awesome. Well, I know for both Dan and I, we both read romance to like not just our own obviously but lots of other authors and it's like my dirty or guilty pleasure get away from reality. Yeah, I actually just finished Sasa Daniels second cleaned book last night, actually, not last night at four o'clock this morning when I woke up for no apparent reason. Yeah. You know, the books are good if you're picking it up before I am. Right. Exactly. Yeah. Put it down. Don't put it down and stay up all night. Yeah, well, I have to admit, oh, go ahead. Sorry. I was just gonna say SAS is claimed to mate series is there's something about her writing that reminds me of you. And it's it's not like there's this Don't Don't all massive Polen there's this slick kind of, oh, and then this happened. Oh, and then this happened and don't so you really it's like a subtle tug a rope and it's constantly drawn. Yeah. And so yeah, it was at four o'clock this morning. It was either go dark and get in the hot tub or read Sasa. So I went for the book. Yeah, I think I think one of my favorite view views that I've ever written was like, so it was like, I missed two appointments and ended up staying up all night just to finish the book. And it was like, yes, yes. Yes, I'm haunting them. Now it worked. Oh, gosh. Okay, so that takes us to our next question, which is do you okay, why she kind of answered that because we the next question was do you review all genres or just, yeah, you know what? You're doing so well. It would not surprise me in the slightest if you continue to get interesting requests. Yeah, you're gonna have to expect to know. Yeah, I actually just had since I've started the author interviews. I mean, they really gone since, you know, former scorching hot night, decided we needed to get these 95 authors into our group inactive. In the interviews have taken off, I've had people contact me and I had two narrators contact me, which I thought was kind of cool that they wanted me to interview them. They wanted me to review their books from a narrator's perspective. They aren't the writers. So the narrator's so. So that is cool, that they saw my interviews to start with, but it's a different outlet to go to. Yeah. Now, I know I'm going through the process of having my books put into audio right now. And I've only areas are. I've only read a listen to a chapter of these people. It is the first audio that I've ever heard with sound effects. Oh, that's awesome. It is so cool. So yeah, that's a new trend that I've seen. I'm not sure how I feel about it. Because part of it. It's awesome. Yeah. But I, I think part of what I love about books is the ability to put my own imagination in. And as soon as you start adding, not just voices and everything like that, when you add the audio effects, I think I almost treat it in the same as I do TV. Instead, like it goes into a different part of my brain. So proportion that I heard it was more like he's in a church. And he sees a priest and the places punching a boy. So you kind of hear you know, that he's punishing because you can kind of hear thing and the voices of the boy and the priest are kind of echo form. So you know, it's, it's different than his main character. Right? I grew up listening to audio tapes. So my mom thought I was one of those kids that I was too. Too much of a Livewire. And so instead of putting me on drugs, they said she has to mentally and physically be exhausted in order for her to sleep. So I played every sport, and I basically was in sports to line o'clock at night, and then I'd come home and I'd listen to all these audiobooks, so I could have the lights off and just kind of pass out when they ended. But like Hound of the Baskervilles, like we're talking old stories, and those had sound effects in them. And I always found them interesting to hear the knock on the door, right? And you like, Oh, yeah. I thought it was kind of neat. But I was also a kid. And so I don't know, I've never listened to one sound effects as an adult, but I have with my children, and watch that impact on them. And they quite enjoyed it. Next question, do you have a favorite sub genre within romance, that something that will always drag you in or that you prefer? I like romance of any kind, as long as it's got a happily ever after. But I'm finding that the darker books and the power exchange books are, they're a little bit more interesting that it seems like the backstories are a little bit deeper. So I think that's where I tend to, most of my reading is landing in that direction. Now. Although, you know, I love rom coms and everything else. But the the darker seems to be more interesting. The the MC clubs, the the VDM s, and, you know, all of that kind of thing. And I think we go in cycles. I know, when I'm reading by read a book, and I enjoy it, then I'll look for a couple more just like it. So absolutely. Me too, though, that does go interestingly into Have you ever been asked to read and review a book that you just didn't like? Yes. Which you do? Well, I had to review it. Because, you know, you're when you're asked to review it. The book didn't make sense to me. They basically are friends of two friends who come to a restaurant together and they meet. But then she goes to the restroom and she's accosted, but instead of waiting for the police to get there. He leaves with her. And then it's just a thing and then like the next week, they're married and it's like there was no there was no story. It was like what? So in my review, which I gave them a three I hated it. I basically stayed in my review that I was really confused. I didn't attack the writer. I just basically said the story making sense to me. And then I felt like maybe I didn't give her a chance. So I read several more of her books, which weren't any better. I mean, she's, there's a child, they go to the beach, and yet they go to the restroom and the child's at the beach. And all I'm thinking is the child's going to drown. You know, and then, and then several, you know, chapters later, this child has more better grammar than I do. So it just made it has made no sense. Totally, you're so funny. So, and then on the other realm, I don't usually read reviews. But somebody posted in one of my authors groups, this one star, and this lady, ranted and raved and tore this author down. And she only read three pages of the book. Oh, I was livid, you know, for this author who I hadn't read. So I went and got the book, to leave a better review, because it was just it upset me that much. I love the book. I actually love the whole series. And, and I left my whole rant in the review about why I had gotten the book to start with. So so that was on the other realm. But I, I will never put a bad book review on my blog. My blog is to share books I like so if I don't like it, unless I'm required to read it and have to put it on Amazon. I won't put it on my blog. Right? Well, no. Another thing. Like when I wrote under my original name, one of the ways that I gained reviews was to do a review exchange with other authors. So I did that quite a bit. And I've actually cut and pasted all my ones from Goodreads, just because I find it interesting to look back on them. And what I had to wear I said to them, okay, look like I messaged them privately before I posted. And I said I think you would prefer me to not post. So I'm not going to because I don't like affecting personally, as an author. I don't like affecting other authors ratings, right? Yeah, exactly. And so if I, if we're doing this as a mutual benefit, that's not going to be a benefit. It's just, I just messaged her in advance and said, You know, I'm gonna give this to you, and you can do what you want with it. Yeah, no, I mean, scholar you and I both know, like, there is a buyer beware. When you're looking at reviews, we had an author friend who got a one star or no, I'm sorry, a two star review. And it was horrible. It was just completely attacking the author, not the writing. And when you click on this reviewers name, it had 700 Plus text reviews, average rating 1.5 stars. Oh, oh my god. So that means that this person never liked any book ever. Korea or never really read any book ever. Just enjoy it. Yeah, portraying people. I mean, I've had a few books that I didn't connect with the character, but it wasn't a badly written book. So in my review, I would put that it was well written, you know, the characters, whatever, but I just couldn't connect with you know, if I can't put myself in that story. Then it doesn't get a five star but I've never gone under a four except for the one time when I did state that it was well written. It just wasn't for me. Right, right. No. Okay. Do you have a favorite book? Oh my god. I have so many. If I have to pick out of all time my favorite book, it would be Diana Gabaldon Outlander. Right 1991. I read her from the beginning. And I'm sorry just love Jamie on her series three times like the I've got those fat books. Oh yeah, those series three times because I there was one book in there I find really slow and I can't remember it's book three or four. Hmm, but yeah, highlight are Outlanders is an awesome series to read for sure. Well, now it's the only books I have period because everything's on my tablet. But it's the only books I've ever had in hardcover. Yeah, I just really love. I love that series. I also bought them for my adult daughter. So she's got the whole series too. But you know, I find it I remember when they put the season one of Outlander on Netflix or on TV or whatever it was. When they did the the stars I think it's on stars. And I was really surprised? Like, I guess now that I understand literature from a romance purse like from subcategories better, it makes sense to me. But I remember them putting it under sci fi. And I'm like, this is historical, how the hell? The underside? I don't understand. But I think time travel time travel time travelers sci fi what but the whole thing I mean, so much of it takes place in history, and she does a great job of making those historical references very accurate. So she's got a fictitious story. Yes. And a very real part of history, which is why I like it. Yeah, I used to only read historical romance for that, because it was researched. I mean, I'd read some contemporary stuff. That was just totally, the information was wrong, and it kind of turned me off for a long time. Yeah. Now, with them being like fake cities and real areas it makes it's better. But, you know, in the past, they were they were brutal. Yeah, I agree. I have a question for you, Deb. Yes. Can you think of a book that took you by surprise? In other words, you kind of like you were just talking about how you read primarily historical. I was the same I start off with historical romance. And if it didn't have a kilt on the cover, I wasn't interested. Give me a Highlander in a kilt. They're talking to Sasa Daniels. She's told me that that is strictly fantasy. And I'm like, I don't care. Don't tell me any different. Oh, my fantasy? Yeah. Yeah. But um, but maybe like, it could be strictly that the cover or the blurb didn't match the book at all. But have you ever been taken by surprise and went oh, maybe pleasantly or otherwise? I don't remember specifics. But I've seen covers that. It's like the whoever did the covers, didn't read the book, didn't read the blurb and be a blonde guy who had dark hair. I mean, it was just totally didn't jive. For the most part. I don't do covers that much of you know, I read blurbs. For the most part. It's an author I like and I'll read everything in their library. But I've kind of gotten out of the cover thing, because some of the guys just don't hit me. Yeah, I think if you're going to go with that ad, and I've talked about this, too, where if the covers a draw and the blurbs a draw, then it's a win win. Yeah. Right, you're there's a pretty good chance that they're going to read the story. But you're right, if if the cover doesn't grab you. Pretty good chance that they're going to get missed out, for sure. And when when you're picking out a cover, whether to read or as an author, you have to remember that different people are going to react differently to different body types, different expressions different, you know, exactly, exactly. You know, but yeah, so I don't pay too much attention to the covers, because the guy just may not be who attracts me. And sometimes you see the guy and you get it in the book isn't anything like the guy? So are in vertising? Exactly. He doesn't have this eight pack and stuff. But so you know, so I, personally, I don't really take the, you know, the book is the cover. How do you find new authors to read? Is it just through Amazon recommendations, or currently, it's a RFCs that are being thrown at me. And I really, really am liking them all. I haven't found any of those in the last two months that I don't like and I really wish on a few of them that I have more time to spend on more of their books. But that's how they author sending you arcs or they through, say booksprout or something like that. Oh service. Originally, it was through books route and books siren. And, and like styler a few of the authors I've gotten into messaging and gotten to know them better. And so they've sent me things directly. I joined a, a bloggers group on Instagram. And through that, authors I guess are going through that they know that we're bloggers and stuff and then somehow I get invited to a PR group. Good. And that's to where you see all of my covers and from through them. And it's in, you know, the book, also, you know, for the review, there's actually a lot of things that you do that would be covered under a PR, for sure. And so I think it's great that you are involved in more than just a blogging or reviewing groups because you're a promoter. Yeah, it's gotten when I first started my blog, it was no hope. And I think I told you, Skylar, it was in the hope that one person, just one person saw a review. And they went and read the book. That's all that's all I wanted was one person, to not just like my review, but they they were interested in the book. And it's gotten to the point that the authors who I'm following, I try to make sure that I follow them on social media, and when they have new things come out that I, you know, I posted everywhere that I'm posting, and it has it has gotten into supporting authors who, you know, a lot of them I haven't read, but you know, to get their word out there, I figure, if you're gonna send me a book, for free, I feel an obligation to promote you as much as I can, is appreciation. And we appreciate it too. Yeah, 100%. Yeah. And it's got into the feedback I get back is just is, I don't know, it just makes me feel really good that it's being that authors are seeing it, and they really appreciate it, you know? Well, I think you're gonna have to change your goal, because I know for a fact that your words are actually driving traffic to people's books. Especially when you're me that Sasa told me that when I started her spotlight, from book one, and this is an older series, and I have put it online to be you know, to be read list. But she told me that as soon as I started my spotlight, and shit that she's noticed on traffic going to these books, yes, she's noticed an increase in traffic. I heard that too. Yeah. But also you yourself said, I think when the Savior was releasing, and you did the series, I think I was the blessed to be the first person to have the in depth look at the series. Yes. And I think it was our first interview too. Yeah, oh, my gosh, and I, I just love our partnership that way. And I think that you get what is trying to be created. But I know for a fact that people were noticing that series interview the behind the scenes with angels and demons, and that that sparked some increase in activity as well. And so I'm always so grateful for the attention that you give to my work. I love your work. And the series spotlight is is a fun thing to do. Because it's something you wouldn't necessarily think to put out there. But I'm sure readers love it. When I first started my interviews that was kind of, I always read and to the point that my daughter and different they're like, why don't you write and I'm like, yeah, not putting my name on a book. I don't think of a new one for you. I mean, if if people get a hold on my on my tablet, oh my god. But I wanted to get into the author's heads because it really, really interests me, how you come up with your stories and how and that's why I started the interviews. And then when you had asked me what I thought about doing a spotlight, it really was exciting, because then I get to actually see why you created this character and in behind, not behind the author, but I actually got to see behind these characters and and how they came to be. And I actually have six spotlights that are ready to go just waiting for their dates. Nice. And one of the authors with her new book will leases in November. It's a 15 book series. So this is the most in depth one that I did so that one's kind of really exciting. Nice, good for you. Do you see anything else in your future? Expanding the blog, maybe doing your own podcast or blogs? Yeah, I don't like listening to my voice. I think I mean, I started my blog in the middle of February. Tyler has been my biggest cheerleader egging me on and stuff and I just last week has 7000 Viewers, yay. Tomorrow, I'm going to hit 8000. Congratulations. That is so exciting. Yay. I, besides the reviews, the interviews, I'm really liking the spotlights, if I can get more narrators, also to get interviews. That's mean, that's a handful. I don't know what other reading outlet I could do. But the interviews, I actually had one lady who had saw my interviews, I guess, popping up on Instagram and asked how she could get on the list, which is really nice. So, so basically, whenever I'm reading a book, and I have a new author who comments and says, Thank you, or whatever, I asked him immediately if they'd like an interview. So I that's what I see is me reviewing the books, continuing to promo, the authors, and just put out as many interviews and spotlights and you know, behind the scenes for the readers, you know, so you can get to know the authors. I mean, some of these are very intimidating. The backgrounds of these authors, you know, they've got so many degrees and masters and oh my gosh. But, you know, that's where I don't see it going any further than, you know. Well, and I just want to add to that, that we brought Deborah on as an admin in scorching hot romance on Facebook. So for those of you that are listening, if you're on Facebook, joins, you can join the scorching hot romance group. It's a private group, and Deb uses that as a launch pad for a lot of her work. And because she's done that, we have had a lot of traffic. And it gives all of us an opportunity to learn and get to know new people. What's amazing. All right, I think that yeah, it's a wrap. Where's that clapper? Cut, it's a wrap. Thank you so much for coming on. Coast. Thank you for having me. Have a great day. Thank you for listening to coast to coast Romans. I'm Ann Jensen, and I'm Skyler West. If you'd like to contact either of us. Our links are located in the show notes. Have a great week. Thanks so much for joining us.