Meet the Reviewers: Anne Payne

I’m delighted to have Anne Payne as my guest. She’s a book reviewer who writes heartfelt reviews on her lovely blog Stuff and Nonsense II. That makes sense, because she’s a woman with a big heart. I’ve been blessed by her many times.

Anne wears many hats. In addition to avid reader and book reviewer, she’s a busy wife, mother and home educator. She and her husband live in the beautiful Foothills of North Carolina. They have four children and two delightful grandchildren.

When Anne isn’t reading or teaching, she can often be found crafting. She is a scrapbooker and cardmaker who’s taken a recent interest in altered art.

I asked Anne three questions about her reading and review process. After that, you’re in for a treat, because you get to learn three fun things about the woman behind the reviews.

Reading and Reviewing

What led you to start reviewing books on your blog? When did you post your first review? How has the site changed over time, and what can readers expect in the future?

I wanted to be part of a book club. Since I live out in the boonies, and there wasn’t one out here (call me “duh” but I never thought to start my own), I started searching online. I mean, you can find everything else online so why not a book club, right? After many hours of surfing the web, I came across The Book Club Network (YAY!) and joined right up. Then I found out there were free books out there. Free?! So I started entering contests to win those books. I won a lot of books! After awhile, another reviewer that I visited on a regular basis encouraged me to sign up with WaterBrook Multnomah’s Blogging for Books program.

I requested my first book, When Sparrows Fall by Meg Moseley, and posted my review on March 31, 2011. At the time, I was on Blogger because it’s free. They started having some real frustrating issues last spring and summer. If you’re on there you’ll remember. After hearing me complain (yes, I did so loudly), my husband encouraged me to purchase my own domain name and build my own site for book reviewing. That’s a whole other venture that makes me crazy sometimes! I am always changing small things with the site, but I do try to have a little consistency. I’m still finding my niche but hopefully as this year progresses I will be a little more consistent. That’s my main challenge. I mean, I have two blogs now, take care of a fairly large family and must get in my baby holding time 🙂

My friends, Judy & Rebecca, have recently begun contributing reviews so I think that will add some dimension. Plus, Judy is also using it as a personal ministry and offering her books for giveaways. Combining interesting author interviews and giveaways with well written reviews, our goal is to be a blessing to others who are looking for good books to read!

If there’s an aspect of a story you don’t care for, you address it, but you do so in a loving way. How do you balance a reader’s desire for an honest review with your heart for the author of the work?

I’m a firm believer that there is something good to find in any book I’ve chosen to read. I just have to look for it. I try to concentrate on that first then address anything else, while keeping in mind that reviewing is subjective. It’s my opinion. Plain and simple. Someone else may read the book and have a totally different one.

Being a crafter, even though I’m not a great one, I know that when I create something, I have put a part of myself in that piece. When someone doesn’t like it, I’m ok with that, but if they slam it, it hurts. I don’t want to hurt anyone like that, and see no reason to, so I don’t criticize the author’s writing ability. My goal is to only give thoughts on the story itself. The publishing houses have some great guidelines to go by as well, so that helps in structuring my reviews. I also learn from other reviewers.

When and where do you do most of your reading?

Anywhere and everywhere! I always have a book with me, whether it’s a “real” one or a digital one on my Kindle Fire that my husband gave me for Christmas. 🙂 I even stand at the stove and cook while reading. Now that’s a skill!

Three Fun Facts About Anne

I enjoyed reading your post about how your love of McDonald’s led to you meeting the love of your life. When your former burger-building guy takes you out to eat these days, what are some of your top restaurant choices? I’m curious. Is McD’s one of them?

LOL! No, McD’s is not one of them. 🙂 We love Japanese. There’s a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant we frequent that serves some pretty good Spring rolls and Yaki-Soba noodles. Tuesday evening is a regular date night at Atlanta Bread while our boys are at the Civil Air Patrol. I love the time my husband and I spend together no matter where it is, but those nights we enjoy sipping on coffee and sharing a cookie…or two.

Cardmaking. Scrapbooking. Making altered books. Wow! You’re one talented woman. Of all your creations, which are your favorites?

Baby mini albums, hands down! Especially if it’s for a girl…lots of pink and lace and delicate papers! So y’all be praying this new grandbaby is a girl, ok? ’Cause I need a real good excuse to get all my craft supplies back out! Right now they’re in boxes due to a kitchen renovation project, but that’s another story for another time.

If we were to sneak a peek in your purse, what are three things we’d learn about you?

Oh, Keli! You’re a sneaky one with this question (pun intended). Hmmm…what do I want to admit to?

I’m not organized. My oldest son calls my purse “the Abyss!” Even with compartments, everything ends up in the bottom because I’m always in a hurry.

I like pens. Need one? I have standard black, a teal blue, or bright pink. Take your pick.

And even though I love being a grandma, I would probably be categorized as a bad one because I have no pictures of my adorable grandsons in my purse. In my defense, it’s the age of digital. They’re all on my computer!

Anne’s Question for You

What keeps you coming back to a particular blog? Is there anything that will make you stay away? Because…you know…I want to avoid that. 🙂

• • •

Connect with Anne on Goodreads.

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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46 Responses to Meet the Reviewers: Anne Payne

  1. gillian says:

    I appreciate your digital delimma…I realized I have no pictures on me, either! Most blogs are done so nicely… I do prefer that bloggers take the time to respond to comments. Other than that, simply a positive tone to posts works for me! 🙂

    • Anne Payne says:

      Hi Gillian,
      If I could just carry around my laptop, I could show everyone thousands of pictures of my adorable grandsons 🙂
      It took me awhile to figure out, but I finally was able to put a reply thingy just below each person’s comment. I like being able to reply directly to the commenter like that 🙂
      I hope you’ll stop by sometime and visit.

  2. I absolutely love this series, Keli! This was a great interview. So fun to meet you, Anne! I can relate to the Abyss comment!

    • P.S. Just saw that you review for Waterbrook Multnomah and participate in the blogging for books program! How fun! My debut novel is available through Blogging for Books. 🙂

      • Keli Gwyn says:

        Katie’s too modest and didn’t mention the title of her awesome debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter. This is one book I expect to see garner zillions of rave reviews. I posted mine on Goodreads and look forward to posting it on the booksellers sites when the book releases in May.

      • Anne Payne says:

        Alright!!! another book to read! I will have to check it out! Thanks for giving me a head’s up 🙂

    • Anne Payne says:

      Hi Katie,
      Yes, the old purse is in sad need of some organization! Kind of like me, if you ask the right person…or I should say question 😉

  3. It was a pleasure getting to learn a little more about you, Anne. I admire your desire to review books honestly while being not only an encouragement to your readers, but to the author as well. I love the lavender on your blog. It’s so cheery 🙂 Its smart that you carry around so many pens. I’m notorious for needing one, even at critique group. If we ever meet, I’ll remember to sit next to you!

    • Anne Payne says:

      Hi Joanne,

      It’s nice to meet so many of Keli’s loyal fans and friends as well! I changed to the lavender theme for Easter but it’s kind of hanging around until I find something else to strike my fancy. I carry so many pens because I am always losing them! Or one of my children hijacks them 🙂

  4. Erica Vetsch says:

    Thank you so much, Keli, for doing this series on book reviewers! I have not had the pleasure to meet Anne before.

    What keeps me coming back to a blog is an easy conversational style that leaves me feeling positive and gives me a little bit to think about. 🙂

    • Anne Payne says:

      Hey Erica,
      Nice to meet you. I still feel fairly new to the blogging world. That’s the main reason I asked that question. I want to interact with those who take time to come by my blog because I know they are looking a good book, and there’s nothing I like better than sharing my love for books! Well…except getting all those sweet baby kisses & hugs 🙂

  5. Anne Payne says:

    Hi Keli!
    Thank you SO much for asking me to be on your blog! There a big silly grin on my face right now 🙂 This was fun being the one asked the questions and really made me think about how you authors might feel! It’s been a pleasure getting to know you too!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Anne, I’m delighted to have you as my guest and to give my blog’s wonderful visitors the opportunity to meet you.

      I used to make cards and to scrapbook before I began writing. These days I don’t seem to have time for those hobbies. Too bad you live so far apart and can’t schedule some craft days. I’d have a blast working alongside you and chatting up a storm.

      • Anne Payne says:

        I would jump right on that craft day, Keli! It’s always more fun with a partner, and we could have tea 🙂

  6. Ronie says:

    Anne is AWESOME! So sweet and such a delight to know. Thank you so much for featuring Anne, Keli!

    • Anne Payne says:

      Oh Ronie! You’re the sweet one! I have had the best time getting to know my favorite military suspense author 🙂

  7. Nice to meet you, Anne! My purse is definitely an abyss as well!! I come back to a site because of the author of the site…if someone has a great personality that’s open and warm, I’m hooked. And of course, if the content is something I’m interested in (books, writing, faith), I’m TOTALLy there.

    • Anne Payne says:

      Hi Lindsay,
      It’s a pleasure to meet you! I’m glad I’m not the only one with a messy purse 🙂 I just can’t seem to buy one that has MORE compartments though. Nothing would ever go in them except maybe those awful dust bunnies that somehow make their way in there!
      I hope you’ll come by and visit me some time.

  8. Diane says:

    Love you Anne and your reviews are lovely and fun to read. I’m with you, there is some good in every book, so why not focus on that. :O)

    • Anne Payne says:

      My friend Diane! You are such a staunch supporter of us bloggers! I appreciate you coming by here today. I know how busy you are 🙂

  9. Melissa Tagg says:

    Great interview! Love it. And it’s always good to know I’m not alone in my purse messiness. I just don’t understand how men can carry a wallet and NOTHING ELSE?!

    What keeps me coming back to a blog is the personality of the blog – fun/quirky or encouraging/challenging – or if I know or want to know the blog author. 🙂

    • Anne Payne says:

      Hey Melissa,
      I know how they only carry a wallet…the rest of my husband’s stuff has been handed to me with the request “Could you put this in your purse?”

      I appreciate you coming by! Hopefully, I’ll see around the blogosphere 🙂

  10. Anne and Keli, Great inteview and interview questions!
    Anne, I was shocked to see that you mentioned me. You are much too kind!

    It is fun visiting blog sites and read what is posted and all the little advertisements, book giveaways, etc., but I must say Anne, I am partial to yours!

    Good job ladies!

    Blessings!
    Judy

    • Anne Payne says:

      Hey Judy,
      How could I not mention you and Rebecca?! Y’all are such a blessing to me and I hope to our readers. Thanks for your encouragement! It is fun hopping around and seeing what’s new in books, plus getting to know some really great Christians! You’ll have to keep coming back here to Keli’s because she has great fun over here, especially her Friday Fun Victorian Style posts 🙂

      • Anne, speaking of blogging issues. I can’t seem to get into the comments section, so I tag on to someone else’s. I am determined to respond to this post. Keli, first thanks for another great guest. Anne, I think the process of reading and reviewing a book is a serious and daunting one and we all owe you a debt of gratitude for putting some much of yourself into that process. That is what I love so much about Keli and her blogs. She is 100% sincere, always has great posts and truly engages her readers.

        I do believe that in the blogging world that responding to comments left on a post is something we should extend to our readers. I bounce in and out and it really doesn’t take that much time to show you readers you appreciate their opinion. The quality of writing and the tone of a blog is what keeps me coming back for more. I like carefully done posts and positive attitudes. That is why I subscribe here 🙂 BTW just in case I flubbed … I am totally careful with my own posts because I can’t spell and hate the idea my readers might find a typo or a spelling error 🙂

        • Keli Gwyn says:

          Florence, I’m sorry WordPress is still being pesky. Have you tried contacting their Happiness Engineers to discuss the trouble you’re having? I’ve found them to be quite knowledgeable and helpful.

        • Anne Payne says:

          Hi Florence,
          Thanks so much for your sweet and encouraging comment! believe it or not, some reviews are easier to write than others. I have agonized over the right words many a day, and am constantly making use of the thesaurus! Not being a writer or English major makes it doubly challenging for me. I wasn’t bad at English, just not great. But I can spell!

          Electronics are not always my friend and I’m convinced that some days the internet has a mind of its own, and so does my blog! I get highly frustrated at times because I’m really NOT technologically minded 🙂

  11. candidkerry says:

    Thank you, Keli, for this helpful series on book reviewers!

    Anne, I feel a special kinship with you because of our messy purses, large and unique collection of pens, and our fast-food love stories. 🙂 I read your Mickey D’s story and smiled ear to ear because the way I met my hubby is very similar. Trevor and I went to the same high school, but never met until we worked together at Burger King in ’93. We still joke about making googly eyes at each other over the whopper board. 😉

    I enjoy blogs that aren’t too busy, but warm and welcoming. I look forward to visiting your blog soon!

    God Bless,
    Kerry

    • Anne Payne says:

      Hi Kerry,
      At least fast food is good for something besides giving us high cholesterol 😉
      I look forward to seeing you on either one of my blogs, or “GASP”, maybe both 🙂

  12. Great interview, Keli. Nice to meet you, Anne. I return to blogs that are entertaining and informative. It really shows if the blogger cares about her readers, or if she’s simply talking at them. Keli, you do a great job of showing us how the industry works as you go through it 🙂

    What would make me turn away? Politics. There’s nothing worse than reading your favorite author’s blog only to find a post where he or she goes off on a tangent about how bad candidate so and so is or how such and such party is better than the other, lol. It’s alienating, and should be reserved for a different type of blog. That’s just my two cents.

    • Anne Payne says:

      Hey Brandi,
      I love Keli’s blog for the diversity factor and the fact that she is such a caring person toward her readers. I am learning a lot from her!

      Well, I haven’t talked about politics yet and have no plans to in the near future. I reserve that for my Facebook 🙂

  13. jeanniecampbell says:

    hello anne! loved the interview. and the purse question is fairly genius, keli. i got to thinking what mine would say about me. very interesting.

    i like thought-provoking posts and good, fun posts….alternating, preferably. i won’t go back to an offensive blog, but offensiveness is something that can be pretty subjective, depending on who is saying they are offended. hmm….that doesn’t help much, does it?

    • Anne Payne says:

      Hello Jeannie!
      Yes, I kind of sat with a real dumb look on my face when I saw that question, but it didn’t take long to know the answer 🙂
      I won’t say I have thought provoking posts, as I just focus on reviews and interviews, but I do try to ask some interesting questions of the authors. Well…hopefully they’re interesting enough to have folks come back again!
      Your’e right. We all have different levels that we take offense at. I sure hope I don’t offend anyone, but if I do, I pray they will contact me privately and not take it public.

  14. Anne Payne says:

    Ok. My daughter came over here to read the post and pointed out a mistake I made. The first book I reviewed was When Sparrows Fall (no apostrophe). She’s such a stickler!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Thank the Lord for helpful daughters. I, too, have just such a daughter, Anne. Please convey my thanks to your gal for catching that typo. I certainly didn’t. 🙂

      I made use of my nifty gelifty (yes, I make up words) “edit” feature, and that apostrophe is history.

  15. How fun to meet Anne! I love that you cook and read at the same time. I can totally relate to that! 🙂

    • Anne Payne says:

      Hi Sarah,
      I try not to do it with books that I’m giving away, though. I don’t think spaghetti sauce spots would be too welcome 🙂

  16. Sherrinda says:

    I’ve always wanted to make an altered book, but it looks like it would take forever to make one! I’m kind of impatient that way. 😉 Thanks for a great interview!

    • Anne Payne says:

      Hi Sherrinda,
      It’s really not hard and surprisingly doesn’t take all that long. I usually scout out some of my favorite paper crafters to get ideas. There’s so many great places to find inspiration! Then it’s time to take a beloved trip to Hobby Lobby 🙂

  17. Casey Herringshaw says:

    Yay! Anne is here! I adore Anne. One of my very first blog visitors and now one of my favorites (if a blogger can have favorites. ;-))

    Things I don’t like about a blogger? Design. Oftentimes there is too much to look at and no where to look first. It overwhelms me and I click out. I know, I’m a horrible person…. 🙂

    • Anne Payne says:

      Hey Casey!
      Your blog was one of the first I discovered in my foray into the blog world, and is absolutely one of my favorites too!
      I agree with you on design. I have really streamlined mine, maybe too much so, but I don’t like one that has too much to look at on each page either.

  18. Beth K. Vogt says:

    Such a fun post. I connected with Anne because a) she’s not organized and b) she loves pens, but the connection broke down over crafts. I’m craft-challenged. Oh, well.
    What brings me back to a blog? The content, for certain — but also the feeling of being connected.

    • Anne Payne says:

      Hi Beth,
      Nice to meet you. Thanks for coming by. It’s ok that you’re craft-challenged. That’s all on a different blog anyway, so maybe I’ll see you around the book one 🙂

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