The Magic Lasso of Jill Celeste

Day 2 of Writing in Metaphor and Imagery for Book Blogger Appreciation Week

As part of Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW), many of the participants were asked to interview a fellow blogger, and it was my honor to interview Jill of The Magic Lasso. (That’s her on the right after donating her hair.)

1. What prompted you to start a book blog?

One of my friends that I met through Library Thing has a book blog on LiveJournal. I liked how she could document her thoughts about her completed books. I often read books but don’t remember details, and more importantly, how I felt about the book once I was done. So, I followed her lead and started The Magic Lasso in May 2007.

2. How would you describe your blogging experience?

Therapeutic, intellectual, compelling and downright fun. When I look back at all of my posts, I sometimes can’t believe that I wrote this stuff. As I reread a review, such as my one for Middlesex, I can remember how angry I was that I wasted my time on a book that I didn’t like – and how therapeutic it was to bang out those mad feelings somewhere.

It’s also been interesting to “meet” other book bloggers. There are some wonderful people out there with book blogs. It’s my pleasure and honor to cross paths with them.

3. Can you describe your reading and review process? Do you have a specific routine or questions that you keep in mind while reading?

As an English Lit major, literary tropes and devices are engrained in my brain. When I read for pleasure, it’s understandable how my brain wants to dissect a book for literary criticism. For that reason, I try not to read with any design. Just read, enjoy and reflect.

When writing reviews, I typically have a standard format: book summary, my thoughts and then my recommendation. Most of my reviews are 3-5 paragraphs in length.

4. Do you find that the reading challenges you accept play too large a role in your book blogging?

In a way, I am a slave to reading challenges. They determine the order that I read books and put some pressure on my reading habits.

Next year, I need to commit to less reading challenges so I can enjoy non-challenge books without the guilt of reading a book that is not earmarked for a challenge.

5. What are your favorite things about blogging?

a.) Meeting other book bloggers
b.) Getting comments from people, including authors. I have received comments from Anne Rice, Alan Brennert, Chris Bohjalian, which was absolutely thrilling
c.) Participating in The Sunday Salon – a group of bloggers who blog every Sunday about what they’re reading
d.) Just the ability to write. I like to think of myself as a writer. I write at work but not in a creative way. My blog gives me an outlet to write something besides Web copy and ads.

6. Are there any features that you think are unique to your blog, such as challenges, giveaways, contests, etc.?

I have never hosted a contest or an official challenge. I did start Orange July, which was a personal challenge where I read books that have won or been nominated for the Orange Prize throughout the month of July. The idea caught on, and I think about 25 people participated with me. We’ll be repeating in January.

7. Do you find it difficult to juggle your blogging pursuits with motherhood and your other obligations?

No, in fact, I would argue that my reading and blogging hobbies make me a better mom because I have a hobby that’s my own. My kids are a bit older and self-sufficient, which helps.

8. How did you come up with the title of your blog and why or what does it signify?

I grew up watching Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman. I was intrigued that a woman could be a superhero of equal strength as Superman or Batman. One of Wonder Woman’s weapons was The Magic Lasso. When someone was ensnarled in The Magic Lasso, they must tell the truth, could remember repressed memories and was protected from others.

My Magic Lasso is a place of truth. At least that’s always my goal.

(I used to love watching Wonder Woman myself, and I’ve even ordered Season 1 on DVD.)

9. Who are your favorite authors?

Margaret Atwood, Geraldine Brooks, Dan Brown, Sarah Dunant, Khaled Hosseini,, Margaret Mitchell, Anna Quindlen, Anne Rice, Mary Doria Russell, Diane Setterfield, Shel Silverstein, Nicholas Sparks, Anne Tyler and Markus Zusak

(Seems like Jill and I have similar tastes in authors; I also enjoy Zusak, Sparks, Brown, and Silverstein)

10. What are some of your hobbies and what need to they fulfill?

Being married with two sons; working a high-pressure, full-time job; driving long commutes – it doesn’t leave a lot of time for hobbies. Obviously, my biggest hobbies are reading and writing on my blog. That just leaves my vices, which are my favorite TV shows: Prison Break, Lost, American Idol and Survivor. I always make time for them!

(We may have more in common than I realized. My latest favorite television show is Prison Break, and this season is shaping up to be even more twisted than the last. And readers should know I have loved and LOST! LOL Ok, that joke was lame, but you get my point.)

11. Why did you join Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW)?

When I read about BBAW, I thought: “Well it’s about time!” Not only does it celebrate us as a community of like-minded people, it also recognizes our contributions to the book industry. How many of us heard about a book through a review on a book blog? If I was not a book blogger, I probably would never read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak or The Colour by Rose Tremain – and my reading is certainly more enriched because I’ve read both. I like to think that in some small way, I am influencing readers to select their next books too.

I know that many professional literary critics look down their noses at book bloggers. However, I would argue that we’re a force to be reckoned with. Just like those literary critics, I have a stack of ARCs directly from publishers that reinforces my point. Grassroots marketing can be powerful if used effectively. I am glad that many publishers see it that way too.

Thanks to My Friend Amy for hosting BBAW and special thanks to Serena for being my interview partner!

I also want to extend a thank you to My Friend Amy for hosting BBAW and to Jill for answering my questions.

***Today’s Contest: You can win 1 Copy of “A Coney Island of the Mind” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti by leaving a comment on this interview post and an additional entry by commenting on Jill’s Interview post or another of her blog posts and leave a comment here with the link to your comment.***

DEADLINE: Sept. 19, midnight EST.

Another friendly reminder about these contests:

1. Diary of an Eccentric is holding a contest for The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold and The Choice by Nicholas Sparks Deadline is Sept. 30

2. Savvy Verse & Wit is holding a contest for Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg as the first contest for Book Blogger Appreciation Week Deadline is Sept. 19

3. Book Club Girl has a new contest today as well.

Please also double-check the list of giveaways that continues to grow at My Friend Amy’s blog.