Thursday, June 14, 2012

Literary Circles: Blogger Interview with Ruth Lauren Steven!

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Today I’m interviewing Ruth Lauren Steven. Ruth is a YA writer repped by Julia Churchill of The Greenhouse Literary Agency. Ruth’s blog is full of wit. Whether she’s blogging about her recent reads, writing advice, or her own writing journey, Ruth inevitably delivers a perfectly timed one-liner that leaves me laughing or snorting at my computer. Ruth lives in Stourbridge, England with her husband, four kids and their pets. She has been blogging since April 2011 with her first post found here, followed by her second post found here. If you haven’t already done so, check out her blog and follow her!

Ruth, can you tell us a bit about your blog’s concept and what inspired you to start blogging?
started writing my second book just before I started the blog, and I knew by then that I was serious about becoming a writer. I wanted to talk about it with other people and join in with the writing community. Plus all the cool kids have one, you know?

As you can see, I was insightful and confident right from the start. Ha! It took me months to loosen up and understand that if I was uptight and worried about the content of my blog, then readers would pick up on that and no-one would be interested. So I accepted that I’m a newbie writer and I don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Now I try and give a balance between things that are useful to the blog’s followers – like my thoughts on YA books, and agent-judged contests – and posts that I have no choice but to tag self-indulgent-dicking-around. I have fun writing them, and I hope that shows.

What networking strategies have you used to build the lit community surrounding your blog?
I joined Goodreads at the same time I started blogging, so I have my details up on my profile there. I also belong to the online critique sites Scribophile and Query Tracker and I’ll post there if I’m doing a competition. Writerly friends of mine were nice enough to be my first followers when I was billy-no-mates in the beginning (thank you!), and I’m a big fan of Twitter.  I think a lot of people have entered my contests and stuck around the blog afterwards because of Twitter.

What lessons have you learned from blogging? Good or bad?

I’m not uptight about it anymore, but I’m conscious of writing for an audience, and that’s a good thing. It reminds me that I should consider that more with my books! (You’re all very lucky that you didn’t have to read the first draft of my first book. And possibly the final draft of it too). 

When you blog, you have to think about why your followers are there. What are they looking for? How can I help them?  - be it with something about writing that I’ve learned, or giving them the opportunity to get their work in front of agents.    

I also think that there’s no point in pretending to be something I’m not. I’m not an expert, but I can share my own experiences with readers. I am horribly flippant, and I’m afraid it’s incurable. My blog isn’t going to appeal to everyone, and I shouldn’t try to make that so. The best way for me to approach it is to amuse myself and hope I amuse other people too.

What types of posts do you feel attract or engage readers the most?
Well if I take a quick look at the stats, the most popular posts are the ones about agent-judged competitions, and the one where I show everyone my query letter. And I don’t blame people – those things are fun, and they’re also a very real opportunity to learn and get your work in front of agents.

So I’d say that those posts attract readers. But those aren’t the posts that engage readers. That’s a different animal, and one I’m still working on. I think the best posts make you consider the subject matter in a way you haven’t before, or offer you the chance to put forward your own opinions with other people reading the post so that there’s a discussion going on. How often I achieve that, I don’t know. It’s something I’d like to do more. 

What is one of your favorite blogs? What makes it one of your favorites? 
I still read and love Query Shark. Because I’ll still need to write pitches, even though I have an agent. I’m still fascinated with the elusive perfect query. And yes, I know, it only has to do the job of interesting someone enough to request pages, but I love a good pitch. 

Of course, I love my critique partner’s blog too. She’s funny and she does great query crits and insanely enthusiastic book reviews. Check out Michelle Krys

Can you share a little bit about a current project you are either promoting or working on? 
I'm working on a YA sci-fi at the moment which is kind of like Blade Runner for teens told from the point of view of the replicant. If that means nothing to you, then GO AWAY AND WATCH BLADE RUNNER. Also, BUY MY BOOKS. 

I’m kidding (I’m not). The work that I got signed with is a YA contemporary which is currently in the editing process with my agent. 

The other thing keeping me busy is a big summer agent-judged contest coming up on my blog. I’m working on it with Michelle, and we’re calling it Christmas in July. 

Thanks for inviting me onto your blog Kimberly. It’s been fun!

And now you know why she cracks me up on a weekly basis. Thank you so much for a wonderful interview Ruth!


  1. Great interview. I'm looking forward to Christmas in July!

  2. I enjoyed this interview, Kimberly. Ruth, I enjoy posts that are "self-indulgent-dicking-around" the most. :)

    1. Glad to hear it. There will undoubtedly be more of those : D

  3. Terrific interview. I love that way of thinking about blogging - that we are here for our readers and owe something to them to write well and to write often. Looking at a blog as a way to help others is sending good karma out there!

  4. So glad you stopped by Ruth! Like Jackie and Tonja, I'm excited for Christmas in July! And Scarlett and Julie both commented on two of my favorite parts of the interview. I love the lessons you share about blogging as well. Thank you again for answering these questions and letting us get to know you a bit better!