Blogger Interview: Ambitious Ambigue
The Ambitious Ambigue is dedicated to reading, writing, and the joy of blogging. It offers aspiring writers a variety of tips about the writing process and developing one’s platform, and hosts interactive features such as weekly writing prompts and contests and a Writer Karma critique forum. Readers are challenged to delve into the classics with Emlyn as she attempts to review every book on Boxall’s “1001 books you must read before you die.” Live twitterviews are conducted every Tuesday and Thursday at 4 PM EST with authors and literary bloggers on #emlyn
Brief Blogger Bio:
Emlyn Chand is a hardworking would-be novelist, ready to remove the would-be from her calling card. She also works as the lead book contributor for annarbor.com using her plebeian name, Melissa LR Handa.
Longer, but more entertaining, Blogger Bio:
Let’s not skirt around the issue. It’s not that I haven’t taken a few modest steps towards disguising my true identity. I have, in fact, updated my homely, Midwestern name to something that has a bit more of an exotic flair. I’ve even converted my self-portrait to grey-scale–the missing hues make it much more difficult to ascertain my true identity, I know.
Doubtless though it seems that I would be able to conceal my real day-to-day persona, I’d rather avoid the whole song-and-dance of my Clark-Kent self doing a quick change-a-roo in a phone booth and then bounding back on the scene breathlessly, as you pretend not to notice that I’ve forgotten to remove the glasses that cover-up my heroic secret. Let’s not do that, shall we?
If I lose your trust now, how will I ever recover your respect? In the interest of saving time and a fair number of awkward encounters, I’m going to lay all of my cards out on the table before you.
Emlyn Chand is my writerly identity. There. I’ve told you.
By day I play the part of humble linguistic validation research analyst, wife, and book club organizer, Melissa LR Handa. But, by night–ahh, by night–I put on my flashy costume and become the elusive writing hero known as Emlyn Chand.
Well, I would be a hero, I suppose, if anybody wanted to publish my work. Hmm…
I guess what makes me a hero, in the end, is my inability to take “no, thank you” for an answer, my perseverance in the face of faceless rejection (yes, I’m talking to you, literary agents), and my boundless love for the craft.
Ambitious, I have always been, I will always be. But I won’t be an ambigue forever…
1. How long have you been blogging?
I’ve been pseudo-blogging through my work for the News site, AnnArbor.com, for almost two years now. My private blog, The Ambitious Ambigue, went live on December 21, 2010.
2. Why did you decide to blog?
As funny as this may sound, I was discovered much in the same way that models or actresses are discovered. When the Ann Arbor News went out of business and the planning phase for its replacement AnnArbor.com (a pioneer in the multimedia news platform) began, I was contacted and asked to work as a community contributor for the site. They found me through my large and active book club and deemed me a book expert. I began writing pro bono, and after a couple of months, they liked what I did enough to promote me to the lead books contributor and began to pay me. Pretty cool, huh?
3. What books do you blog about and why?
I blog primarily about classic literature. The book club I run is based off of Boxall’s anthology “1001 books you must read before you die,” so naturally I blog about the books I read. I also do a fair number of author interviews and have recently begun reviewing more contemporary literature. I’m quite excited to have an advanced reviewer’s copy of Jodi Picoult’s next novel, “Sing You Home” sitting on my shelf.
4. What memes can be found on your blog?
I’ve taken a number of steps to make my blog interactive, and I’m continually brainstorming new ways to foster a community on The Ambitious Ambigue. I conduct live twitterviews twice weekly at 4 PM EST (audience participation is welcome an encouraged)—on Tuesdays, I twitterview literary bloggers and on Thursday authors. You can learn more about that (or sign up to have your work featured) here: http://emlynchand.com/interact/twitterviews/
I’ve also recently begun a weekly writing contest. Every Saturday, I give a prompt and a set of rules, encouraging all that are interested to submit an entry. The winner gets a special badge to put in the sidebar of his or her own blog. I also feature winners on a special “Winners’ Page” with their pictures, bios, winning submissions, and links to their blogs, plus I promote their work via my Twitter and Facebook networks. The contest page is here: http://emlynchand.com/interact/contest-winners/
5. What is your review style like?
I have two ways of doing a review. The first is to secure an interview with an author and incorporate that into a combo review-interview piece. The second is by providing a plot preview along with a list of reasons why potential readers might like or dislike the book in question.
6. If you can describe your blog in one word, what would it be and why?
Interactive. What’s the point of shouting into an empty drum? I’m on the web, because I want to touch base with other writers, I want to meet new people, learn new ideas, and hear new voices.
7. What advice can you give other bloggers about blogging?
I have so, so many tips I want to give other bloggers, that I’ve started a weekly series. Every Wednesday I post social media, blogging, and tech tips for writers. So far, I’ve written “11 steps for getting the most out of your blog in 2011” and “Is WordPress or BlogSpot the better choice for your blog?” If you can catch me on Twitter (@emlynchand), I’m always happy to provide a quick answer to any tech questions you may have. http://emlynchand.com/category/blogging-and-social-media/
8. What kind of promotion techniques do you use to get followers?
I’ve found that Twitter is the best way to get new people to visit your site and Facebook is the best way to get returning customers. I have RSS feeds that post regularly on both sites (and I make sure to keep my post titles enticing and feed-friendly). I’ve also added my blog to a number of directories and to StumbleUpon.
9. If there was something you’d want your readers to take away from reading your blog, what would it be?
You’re not alone. My blog is dedicated to both reading and writing—two very solitary activities. It’s easy to forget that there is a whole world out there, that there are other people who share your passions and interests and who would love to talk to you about them. My number one bloggerly goal is to foster community.
10. What can readers look forward to from your blog in the future?
You can look forward to even more ways to interact. I’m trying to figure out a way to incorporate a live Twitter component into my real-life person-to-person book club meetings. I also plan to feature bookish quizzes on my Facebook Author Page, to host Book Trivia on Twitter, and to create a Book Blog Scavenger Hunt. You can look forward to lots of new content every week, both from me and my existing site contributors. I’m always looking for new people to help spread the literary love.
I would like to thank Em for indulging me and my little site. I've been a total flake when it comes to these interviews of late. But I promise that will change. Must post all interviews. So, take a little detour to Em's blog. I promise, there's a little bit for everyone there. Until next time, Happy Weekend!