I’ve often said that book bloggers are the “Fairy Godmothers and Godfathers” of the literary world – and I really believe it. Therefore, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to interview some of these wonderful bloggers and shed a little light on why they undertake this epic labors of love!

This week’s interview is with Barbara Hightower, who runs Babs Book Bistro as well as being a mom to four boys, a beta reader for The Wild Rose Press, and Promotional Director for Lyrical Press! Babs was also one of my hosts on an early book tour and has provided a immense amount of support, so it’s wonderful to interview her today!

Every blogger interviewed will be asked to nominate a charity for the day. For every copy of In Leah’s Wake sold via this page between 8 a.m. (EST) on Friday and 8 a.m. (EST) on Saturday I will donate a $1 to the charity of the blogger’s choice! Keep an eye out for our huge September event – the Celebrating Bloggers Charity Blog Hop – which will be raising even more funds!

Babs’ chosen charity is the American Cancer Society and you can read more about them after her interview. Complete the entry form at the bottom of the blog to register your purchase of In Leah’s Wake and be entered into a draw to win a $200 Amazon voucher! So far $100 has been raised towards our September target of $1000 for charity!

Babs, thank you so much for joining me, and for all your support! Could you please tell us about yourself?

I am in my 40’s and married to my best friend. We have 4 boys ranging from 18 months old to 15 years old.

Four boys! They must keep you pretty busy! Could you please describe a typical day ?

My husband works out of town so during the week I am a single mom. My oldest and I wake up at 5:30 am. We get a few things done before we wake up everyone else. Once I get the 2 oldest to school the toddlers and I come back and they watch Disney and PBS. I get the house chores done and sit at my laptop and see what I am scheduled to do for the day. It can range from book reviews, interviews, blog tours, editing etc. Then it is back for the kids, dinner and reading for the rest of the night.

It’s a real feat that you can run your site on top of that schedule. Could you please tell us why you started the site and how you’ve built your following? What other projects are you working on?

I started my original site in 2008. I was posting my book reviews and recipes for my friends to see as they would ask me about the books I was reading. One day an author friend of mine told me I should make a blog. I took her advice and started Babs Book Bistro. I started posting my old reviews and asked authors to be guests on the blog. I started hosting blog hops, giveaways and tours. People started to follow more on Twitter along with Google +. I would like to think it is my reviews that draw people in as I am honest and if I like the book I tell why, if I do not I also tell why without bashing the author. Let’s face it all authors have good books and a few bad ones. It doesn’t make me stop reading more books by them.

You’ve just been made Promotional Director for Lyrical Press – congratulations! Can you tell us a little more? What’s on the horizon? 

Thank you. I was happy when Renee hired me on. I love helping authors promote their work and this was an excellent way to carry on the process besides my blog. The authors are all willing to take part in the promotions. We have Meet the Author Monday. Which is every 3rd Monday on the Lyrical Blog. We also have blitz days every other week for a few authors at a time. We are going to start doing blog tours in a few months. I also want to do some podcasts and some parties on Twitter and Facebook.

You’re also a beta reader for The Wild Rose Press. What does that involve? Is it rewarding

Being a beta reader for The Wild Rose is exciting and rewarding. I get to read romances with suspense before they are rolled out. I get to tell my opinion of the book and if I think others will like it. I do have to explain why or why not. The process of evaluating the book makes you think outside the box and not just what one person would think. I like the fact they ask for examples with page numbers to prove your point.

Do you find that beta reading, reviewing and reading for pleasure differ? If so, how?

I do think they differ as a beta reader you let the editor, author and publisher know what you think about the book before it goes out to the world. You also catch mistakes, which might have been overlooked. With reviewing it is after the fact as the book is already published. Of course you can still tell what you think about the book, but you can’t do much if there are mistakes. You hope there aren’t that many. Reading for pleasure, I don’t feel so rushed per se. These are books by some of my favorite authors and I look forward to seeing how the characters continue on. I read a lot of series.

You have so many projects that good time management must be essential. What are your tips for achieving balance?

Barbara and familyI do most of my work while the kids are in school and after everyone is in bed. I also divide up each day what I am going to work on. If I have more time that particular day I will start on the next day’s work and try and get ahead.

What do you enjoy most about reviewing books? 

Meeting new authors and sharing their work. I hope some of my reviews let a reader also find a new author for them to try.

When reviewing, do you often find real gems? What, for you, says a book is a gem?

I do find some gems that I otherwise might not have found especially with indie authors. There are so many books out there I would not have known about if I did not start blogging. For me a gem is a book that takes you to a far away place. Is realistic in ways, has a bit of mystery and romance. It doesn’t always have to be a happy ending but it is nice. It has to hold my attention and not let me stray. I want a book that will make me want to turn the pages and not put it down.

What do you enjoy most about blogging? Least?

I enjoy sharing my ideas and opinions for others to make a decision. If I can have one reader, read a new book that makes it all worthwhile. The least? I don’t know if I have one, the first thing that comes to mind is when you have a guest on and they don’t send you what you need until the day after the post is to go live.

You must get hundreds, if not thousands, of feature requests every month for reviews, guest posts, interviews etc. What makes a great blog guest? 

A person who will send me what I need on time before the post date. I have had several who don’t and then I scramble to find something to post or post a review.

Do you feel there is a stigma against self-published writers? If so, do you feel it’s deserved? Why or why not?

I think there is. It has gotten a bit better the last year or so. I do not think the stigma relates to everyone. Yes, there are a few authors out there that really need some editing done to their books before they publish them. The majority have quality work from great authors most of us might not have known about. I can’t tell you how many books I have read by indie authors and think wow why are they not published through a publishing house. Most people they think if you are not published the old fashioned way; your book is no good. That is simply not true! If you give an author a chance you might just be surprised.

For indie authors in particular, getting reviewed is one of the biggest challenges. Do you have any advice?

Get on the Internet and look at blogs. Read their review policy and contact them if your book fits the policy. Some authors do not read them and send emails that will not be read or deleted. Do not send out a form letter. I know this is easy to get yourself in to, as time is an issue for most of us. Trust me when I say your email will be deleted. Please make sure you type our right name that is a big turnoff as well.

Are there things authors do that make you say, wait, don’t do that? Or maybe that turn you off altogether? 

Most of what I said above please take a look at our review policies. If your book fits, great send us an email. If not please don’t waste your time. Please use our correct name and look at our blog. If you like something about it let us know. A good way of letting us know you did take the time to look at our blog. We take pride in our work.

Do you have anything you’d like to add?

It was a pleasure to be here with everyone. Thank you Terri for the questions and allowing me to take part today.

Thank you so much for your time and amazing responses!

About Babs

Babs Book BistroBabs is a stay at home mom to 4 boys ranging from 17 months old to 15 years old. She loves being able to work from home and help everyone in the process. She is a laid back kind of gal who loves to read, write, crafts when there is time and working out in her flower and vegetable garden.

Barbara HightowerBabs says: “There is a lot about me most people do not know. I am very shy until I get to know someone. I do not like crowds as they scare me and always have. I am more of a loner than anything. I have been through a lot in my life, but I came out stronger than ever. I have survived cancer when I was younger, lost two babies Morgan and Kincaid, my dear angels, watched my husband fight his cancer, and him losing sight in his right eye, to taking care of us all. I would not change a thing. I adore my life and my family.

A big thing most people do not know, I love to write. I have written 2 novellas and a children’s book in hopes of getting them published. One of these days I hope that dream will come true. I did have one poem published a few years ago. One of the novellas is a mystery of course. The other one is a romance/mystery about one of Jane Austen’s characters. How could anyone think otherwise? You will have to stay tuned as I am working on my 3rd novel which is a sequel to the first book I wrote. You can click on the my regular website section and see what they are all about.

I also enjoy working on my crafts, cooking, baking, gardening along with my reading and writing of course.”

Babs nominated the American Cancer Society

American Cancer SocietyTogether with our millions of supporters, the American Cancer Society (ACS) saves lives and creates a world with less cancer and more birthdays by helping people stay well, helping people get well, by finding cures, and by fighting back.

The American Cancer Society is a nationwide, community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the ACS has 12 chartered Divisions, more than 900 local offices nationwide, and a presence in more than 5,100 communities.

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