John: Before we start and before Ionia gets here, I have to tell you I am as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I have the opportunity to ask Ionia Martin a series of questions which have been designed to gain additional knowledge about this talented and beautiful person’s decision to become a reviewer. So why be nervous you ask? Why not be nervous? Can you imagine having the opportunity to ask really good questions of an icon and then come up short? . . . Er . . . let me rephrase that. Can you imagine having the opportunity of asking really good questions and then falling flat on your ass because the questions are too mundane or have been asked one hundred times before? To prevent this catastrophic situation I did extensive research and memorized every single interview Ionia has done over the last two years. I will not ask the same questions, so maybe I will be okay. Now let me give you some information about Ionia and then I will call her out of the sound proof Green room and we will get started.
Ahem. What do we think about when we hear the name Ionia Martin? If you are like me I think of great and extensive reviews of hundreds of books on her blog Readfulthings, Amazon and Goodreads. I think of a generous person who is ready to help a struggling author with her time and more importantly her energy. I think of a person who is raising a family and who is in love with a wonderful man. I think of a person who has seen more than her share of tragedy and yet has the resilience to cheer up a fellow human or adopt another stray pet. I think of all this and in addition think of a person who takes time to see the funny and weird in the world and add her own special sauce to make it even better. Ionia is the kind of person others want to be, but don’t have the courage or charitable nature to pull it off. She inspires, entertains, develops, nurtures, and befriends those who should forever be grateful for knowing her. If you know Ionia, you know what I am saying. If you don’t know Ionia you are missing a lot and you should try to correct that as soon as possible. I have taken too much time and I think it is time to introduce Ionia Martin.
John: Welcome Ionia to Fiction Favorites. I am so pleased to have you with me today.
Ionia: Thank you John. While I was walking from the Green room I heard some of your introduction. Did you really mean all that?
John: Of course, I did.
Ionia: You know I’m engaged.
John: Yes and to a lovely person.
Ionia: Thank you for saying those nice things, but you may be a little overgenerous.
John: I don’t think so. Are you ready to begin the interview?
Ionia: Yes. I must say your Green room is quite unusual.
John: You mean because it is a screened porch, not air-conditioned and it is ninety degrees here on this coast?
Ionia: That’s a start all right. I was more thinking of lovely sounds of the insects out there.
John: Yes they’re quite relaxing and I’m glad they are on the outside. I actually wrote my first book out on that porch.
Ionia: Yes the atmosphere had a distinctive author funk about it.
John: *laughs* Tell me Ionia. You are a mom, reader, blogger, writer, poet, gardener, classic pianist, outdoors person, animal rights activist, editor, thespian, student and now wife to be. How do you manage it all?
Ionia: To me, living is not a matter of managing things it is a matter of loving things. I find I love doing many activities during my day, so I pick those things to do that I actually love doing. It just so happens that at the end of the day I have had a rich experience and have covered a lot of ground. I also have a very simple sense of organization which is along the lines of “needs done, do it.”
John: What is your most enjoyable thing to do? Um let me rephrase that. What activity of those I mentioned do you enjoy most?
Ionia: *smiles* It’s really hard to pick one, but hands down the time spent as a mum and fiancé are tough to beat.
John: Speaking of fiancé, have you and Julian set a date yet?
Ionia: We have, but need to work out matters with the immigration service before we can make it public.
John: For those who don’t know, Julian Froment, Ionia’s fiancé, lives in London and Ionia in the US and so far Julian can only get limited visa’s to stay in the US. Sadly he has not been able to get a permanent one yet.
Ionia: Yes and Uncle Sam does not have a romantic bone in his body.
John: How did you become interested in doing book reviews? Yours are so to the point and extremely helpful to both readers and authors.
Ionia: One day I was reading a review written by someone who obviously had not a positive thing to say about the book being reviewed. I more or less felt sorry for the author who I’m sure went through hell reading the same words. I thought at the time such a vicious review was totally unnecessary and more importantly did not serve any purpose other than to vent a rant of some dried up reviewer. I thought then and still think now there is a better way and have tried to do honest reviews which have as goals to inform not injure. That is how I got started reviewing. Also, I needed a hobby besides collecting animals. I didn’t want to be on hoarders. Get down, Howell. Good boy.
John: Again for you who don’t know Howell is Ionia’s adopted boxer puppy. Named Howell since she is aware our family volunteers for a Boxer rescue organization. He is a good boy. Now where was I? Oh yes. Not to put you on the spot and you don’t have to mention names, but is there a review you did which if done over again would not turn out the same way.
Ionia: Oh yes. I have done some reviews where the author had some problems with the plot or the writing was extremely unusual. In a couple of cases, I actually gave the author the benefit of the doubt and rated the book a three star given the good or redeeming value of the book totally. The two authors I am thinking about became highly incensed and weren’t very nice in their comments. Today they would have gotten a two star rating and probably I wouldn’t spend the time writing a review.
There are also a couple of cases where I wish I had been a bit less harsh with an author than I was. When I first began reviewing, there were a couple of times when I let my hostility toward plot holes or bad endings get the best of me.
John: So there are occasions when you will finish a book and not write a review?
Ionia: I try to be efficient in selecting books that have the highest probability of being good enough to read. Occasionally this fails. When that happens I either stop reading, or I go forth with the intent of finding at least a few redeeming qualities about the book. Rarely do I ever dislike something enough that I can’t find anything good to say about it. If I don’t finish it, usually it is because I find I don’t know enough about the subject to write an objective review, or because I see that the book is not going to be worth recommending to anyone.
John: Would a critic to this notion be able to say, “Yes, but how can you protect the reading public by not reviewing stinkers.”
Ionia: Number one, the reading public has a lot of information available on books of all kinds. If they are waiting for me to tell them what to read they are in a sad situation. Number two, really poor books are found out quickly. It doesn’t take a serious reviewer to expose them. Word of mouth or maybe I should say, word of Internet carries a lot of weight today.
I do write negative reviews. I just try to do it with a measure of grace and remember that it is the book I am after, not the author. I see no point in finishing a book if I absolutely hate everything about it. I don’t review books that I haven’t finished. I see nothing wrong with a one or two star review if the reviewer is honest and has reasons to support their star rating.
John: How does an author get a review from Ionia Martin?
Ionia: I no longer accept unsolicited books for review. I don’t accept requests directly from authors not represented at this time. If I have worked with an author previously this does not apply. Whilst I love indie authors and appreciate all of the hard work they do, there are many, many books out there and I am but one (really short) woman. It got to the point where I couldn’t reach the top of the stack anymore.
This is always subject to change, but for the immediate future, I choose to protect myself from emails that begin with “Dear Reviewer, read my book, I need the review by July 1st. Thanks.” I am always open to working with authors that truly care about their craft and understand the time constraints on reviewers.
John: You mentioned not represented. How about those who have an agent or publisher?
Ionia: If a publisher or a publicist would like me to consider the author’s works for review, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am also willing to arrange dates for interviews, press and promo through this blog. If the author is interested have the agent, publisher or publicist contact me at the email listed above.
I do still feature indie authors prominently on my blog, taking part in promos, blog tours, interviews, etc. I’m just not currently accepting review requests unsolicited.
John: Is there one piece of advice which you think if followed is critical to the author’s career?
Ionia: With risk of sounding like a Hallmark card: Remember why you did this and apply the golden rule. If you have a good product, you can still kill it with a sour attitude. Some reviewers are kind and thoughtful, some not so much. For every glowing review, there may be a less stellar one that may even come off as rude or insulting. Ignoring the truly distasteful ones will get you farther than starting a battle you can’t win. Write them into the next book and give them a hell of a sendoff. Being the bigger person will win in the end.
John: I see it is time to stop now. I have enjoyed having you visit my little writer’s cottage here by the sea. I hope we can do this again sometime. Before we go any final thoughts?
Ionia: I am still trying to figure out how to live up to the introduction you gave me. I’m pretty sure that my cheeks are redder than the arse of a baboon. I really appreciate you giving me space on your blog to appear here. You are an excellent example of what authors should strive to be.
John: I’m the one blushing now, Thanks again Ionia