Friday, June 1, 2012

Fun Fridays Q&A with The Girl From The Ghetto (aka Nerdy book blogger who loves pop culture, fat cats & comfy pj's)


The Girl from the Ghetto
The great thing about social media for me as a reader/author is that it has allowed me to discover new authors to read, new book review websites to browse and new blogs to steer me toward great books I might otherwise miss. That's how I discovered the blog from The Girl from the Ghetto - the blog of a nerdy book blogger who loves pop culture, fat cats & comfy pj's. Oh, I know a kindred spirit when I see it, folks, so I invited the Girl from the Ghetto to chat with me for today's Fun Friday Q&A. Despite having had a run of bad luck lately, she totally took pity on me and agreed, for which I am sure I owe her many cyber cupcakes (or something). We discuss blogging, books and advice for authors on capturing the attention of book bloggers.

Angela: Welcome to my blog, and thank you for being my Fun Friday guest today! For those who aren’t familiar with your blog, please tell us how you got started blogging as The Girl from the Ghetto? (BTW, you really don’t seem to fit the stereotype of a girl from the ghetto. Just sayin’)

TGFTG: If I had any idea that I'd end up a book blogger, I would have never picked it! I have three reasons why I picked that name, and none are because I like to pretend I’m black or claim to have grown up in the hood. Granted, I grew up close to Detroit, my mother is an undiagnosed bipolar, and my neighborhood was a little rough; but at least I lived in a house north of Eminem's 8 Mile. Sure, mice slept in my bed, I was raised on welfare cheese and wonder bread sandwiches, I had a step-father who was an abusive sociopath and alcoholic, and my brother grew up to be a probable serial killer, but at least I had a social worker to look after me in the suburbs to keep me safe. This is why you'll see a picture of me, the little white girl whose mother desperately wanted her daughter to look like Laura Ingalls, on random pages of my blog, rather than some gangsta logos.

But, I digress. Reason one for the Ghetto Girl name is simply that I wanted to pay homage to my Italian relatives who first settled in the Little Italy ghetto of South Philly many years ago. Even though I am a blond with blue-green eyes, I grew up Italian and as much as I try, I can’t hide or change who I am, or who my family was. The second reason is that I needed something sarcastic yet approachable, because that is who I am in real life. But the main reason behind my choice of The Girl from the Ghetto name is from the night I first met my husband. For reasons unknown, I flashed him a gang sign when he asked me where I grew up, and the joke stuck between us. Hubby has teased me for years during my rare moments of crazy by telling me “you can take the girl out of the ghetto, but you can’t take the ghetto out of the girl.”

Angela: Let’s get this clear up front for any authors who are already typing you a “Will you please review my e-book” email — you DON’T review e-books. But you do review books — lots and lots of books. In your opinion, what makes a book a great read?

TGFTG: A book doesn't even have to be "great" for me to enjoy it--it just has to be about something I am interested in, or about a place I want to learn more about, or about a culture or a way of life I can't get enough of. I love to read fiction, and I love to read non-fiction, but what I really look for in a book is good old fashion heart, soul and emotion. I like being able to relate to one of the characters, or, I can read about a character so completely different from me that I end up learning something fascinating. While I love to read a book written by someone with a M.A. in Fine Arts, I'm just as happy to read a book by someone without a high school education, just as long as they know how to write a great story, like Augusten Burroughs. Honestly, as long as I can tell the author worked hard on their book, and made it personable, or full of fun or interesting accurate facts, or they at least make me laugh or cry, I'd call that book a great read.

Angela: For any authors reading this who have books in print, what advice would you give them to catch your attention when they email and ask you to review their book? Shoot — what advice would you give ANY author when querying any book blogger for a review?

TGFTG: I have seen some crazy requests in my four years of blogging. Authors, never send out generic emails, especially when your pitch is just one short paragraph that tells me nothing about your book. Never send me a link to find out what the book is about. I get thousands of pitches a year, so I like to see some effort by the person asking me to devote hours of my time to their book. Is it that hard to cut and paste a good description of it? Personalize the pitch, don't call me by the wrong name, or worse, call me blogger. Tell me why you think I'd be a good match for your book. I can't tell you how many times I've said yes to unknown, first-time authors just because we are from the same state, have the same problems in life, or have multiple random odd things in common, like a love of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE and fat cats. At the very least, all authors should check out the type of books the blogger writes about. Then read one review, to see if the blogger is a decent reviewer. Most of us bloggers have posted review policies, yet I still get hundreds of requests to review book genres I dislike.

Angela: I have and love a plus-sized kitty, too. Does your kitty ever climb onto your keyboard when you’re blogging? Mine does (In fact, she’s doing it now. I just had to delete a bunch of crazy characters she typed).

TGFTG: My Main Coon Beatrice loves my laptop, but she uses it to rub her chin, rather than sit on it. She's rather lay on my bed, or in the laptop bag.

Angela: What are some of the worst mistakes you see writers make when you’re reading a book?

TGFTG: I hate it when authors write about the '70s or '80s and get the pop culture facts wrong. I am a pop culture fanatic, and I remember everything from those 20 years. It is sad to me someone can't be bothered to do 10 minutes of Internet research, just to check their work. I am also sick of fiction books that are based on actual living celebrities, because I already know how that story ends. Just because a writer changes names, sexes and a few details doesn't mean I am willing to hear a story that has already been beaten to death. I am also sick of celebrity writers who write about hobbies, rather than write about themselves. Why would I want to read a book by an actress who likes design, architecture, or cooking? I also hate it when authors write the same exact book over and over again, only changing small details and locations, just because they are famous and anything they write sells. I guess what I am trying to say is that I like it when authors put in effort in their writing, not just time.

Angela: Are you still accepting sponsors to fund your trip to the 2012 Book Expo in New York this summer? (Any rich and generous readers of this blog, please sponsor TGFTG for the 2012 Book Expo). If so, how can people contribute?

TGFTG: No, unless someone can pay for my entire trip, which I don't expect anyone to do. After being out of work for so long, and having horrific health care expenses, my husband told me there was no way we could afford to even charge any part of my trip. I pulled my post for sponsorship just days after I posted it, because I didn't want to accept money from partial sponsors, and not be able to attend.

Angela: I know you’ve been to Book Expos in the past. What’s your favorite author memory from a past expo? Give us the details please. A lot of us are living vicariously through you right now. :-)

TGFTG: Oh, hands down, it was when Simon Van Booy recognised me at BookExpo in 2010, and he told me he was a fan of mine, and how everyone in the office (at his publishing house) loved my blog and my book reviews. I could have died, I was so embarrassed, but pleased and totally flattered. Here is a man with such great talent, and he knew who I was! It was a little surreal.

Angela: Simon Van Booy! How awesome! Okay, now let’s get to know TGFTG the person with these questions. Are you a diehard member of any TV show/film/book fandoms? (If so, which ones and why?)

TGFTG: Not anymore, but I used to be a huge LOST fan, and wrote about the show every single week it aired. I miss those days!

Angela: What’s the last book you read?

TGFTG: This morning, I finished Jennifer Weiner's upcoming novel, THE NEXT BEST THING, which comes out July 3, 2012. I loved the book, read it in one sitting. I am so bummed that I won't get to meet her, since I'm not going to BookExpo or the BEA Bloggers Convention in June.

Angela: If you could spend one day as any fictional character, which one and why?

TGFTG: What a great question. Hmmmm. I wish I could pick someone who has lived a charmed life, but never having lived like that, I'd feel weird being so happy and carefree. I guess I'd pick someone who suffered, but found great love in the end, like Jane Eyre.

Angela: Celebrity crush?

TGFTG: Ewan McGregor. Oh, my gosh, how I love that man, and not just because he was in three STAR WARS movies! He sings, he dances, he is a great actor. He should have been nominated for an Oscar several times, but especially for BEGINNERS. Plus, McGregor has that fantastic Scottish accent.

Angela: Hobbies?

TGFTG: Besides reading, blogging, and slowly writing a book, I love music, movies, and the occasional reality television show. Can't get enough of those Jersey Housewives and the Sister Wives! I also love to cook (I'm Italian, so food is in my blood), and enjoy photography, gardening, walking, volunteering at local nonprofits, going to local art and history museums and the Detroit Zoo, traveling (I've been to 40 states and 10 countries), genealogy research, and self-diagnosing myself with weird diseases (After seeing 20 doctors who missed my rare autoimmune disease, I finally had the guts to tell my eye doctor I thought I had Myasthenia Gravis--and I was right!).

Angela: Wow!Those are some hobbies! I want to thank The Girl from the Ghetto for being my guest today and sharing her insights into books and pop culture and other fun things. Please visit her blog and show her some love, people. Find her at http://thegirlfromtheghetto.wordpress.com/ and on Twitter @NerdGirlBlogger.
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