Hello, and welcome to “WHO’S ON THE SHELF?” with yours truly, Nonnie Jules! Since we are a book club, you know we had to offer something that included a book shelf. A lot of interviews merely cover an author’s work or an individual’s career stories. Here on this “SHELF,” we get down and dirty and ask the questions no other interviewer dare ask. We ask the questions that you want to open up a book and find the answers to on your favorite authors and fellow book club members, but, no one has dared to cover them. WE get personal! Because when you sit on this “SHELF,” YOU are an open book! Even if I have to pry you open!
Today, we have a very special guest on the SHELF with us, member, NATALIE DUCEY! Natalie is our “SPOTLIGHT” Author for the month of September and we have been celebrating her all month long. This week, she gets to sit on the shelf with me!
NJ: Before we get started, how do you like the design and feel of my new shelf? We’ve made it more comfortable in 2017, in that we want all of our guests to feel at home…that’s if they’re coming from a nice and neat one, and we also wanted the lay out to be a bit safer….you know, we’ve had a few accidents up here on this shelf? So, are you comfy?
Natalie: Yes, it’s quite comfy up here. I love the décor, too!
NJ: Why, thank you, Natalie! I wasn’t sure about these colors, but you have just affirmed that my choices were the right ones! Let’s get started by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name?
Natalie: Natalie Ducey is my married name.
NJ: Tell us where you were born? Do you still live there now? If not, what city and state are you calling home these days?
Natalie: I was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. My husband and I moved to Petawawa, Ontario, Canada in 2005, when he was posted as a serving member of the Canadian Armed Forces.
NJ: Interesting! I see that you’re married…how long now?
Natalie: We just recently celebrated our 14th Anniversary.
NJ: Impressive! And, a hearty CONGRATS, too! Any kids?
Natalie: No children.
NJ: Any pets? If so, what kind?
Natalie: Our little dog, Bella, is our baby girl. She is a Lhasa Apso and Poodle mix.
NJ: She sounds confused. And, I imagine her looking like this:
(Am I off base? Just a little?)
Natalie, what’s the food that’s so good to you, you go to bed dreaming about it, and you forego breakfast just to get to it?
Natalie: Chicken Pad Thai.
NJ: Hmmmm, sounds interesting (also sounds like something I wouldn’t eat. My taste buds are just so particular and finnicky). What’s your favorite color?
Natalie: Teal blue.
NJ: I like teal, too! Do you have a favorite sport?
Natalie: I love kayaking. Hockey, however, is my favorite sport to watch.
NJ: How about your current favorite TV Show:
Natalie: I just discovered the new show “This is Us.” I absolutely love it. The narrative and cast are just fabulous.
NJ: Favorite Actress/Actor:
Natalie: Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson.
NJ: Both legends, aren’t they? Do you like to exercise to stay fit OR do you not mind just letting it all go?
Natalie: Due to my disability (Spinal Cord Injury of C5 & C6 vertebrae in 1992), regular exercise is essential to maintain my strength and flexibility. I really enjoy using a rower, as it feels much like kayaking.
NJ: OK. Good for you on keeping up on exercise so that you don’t let your disability rule your life. Natalie, what is your biggest pet peeve that makes you want to spit nails? (For the record, NJ does not condone violence, but she does believe in being honest so she admits that there are those times and there are those people, who do cause her to want to spit a few nails in the direction of their foreheads. Hey, just being honest. It’s the only way I roll).
Natalie: Negativity. It’s exhausting to be around negative people.
NJ: So, are you neat or messy?
Natalie: Definitely more on the neat side.
NJ: Natalie, you don’t know just how happy that makes me, hearing that you’re a neatie! So, Facebook or Twitter?
Natalie: I use both, but I prefer Twitter for the interaction and engagement.
NJ: Me, too, Natalie. Not a FB fan but am in love with Mr. Twitter. (I hope he’s a Mr.) We’ve come to realize that the internet is giving way to tons of budding friendships. Who would you say is the one person you’ve connected with the most…your internet BFF or buddy?
Natalie: I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with so many incredible people via online. All are such warm, compassionate souls.
NJ: Who do you favor most: Nonnie Jules or WonderWoman? Be honest.
Natalie: Nonnie Jules, of course!
(Oh, Natalie, you’re tickling me! And I’m blushing!)
NJ: We all know that Wonder Woman has her truth lasso and Nonnie has…well, just her truths, in the no-nonsense way she forces us to be honest and tell it like it is, whether it makes others uncomfortable or not. In your opinion, which one does a better job of making the world a better place? You can be honest here, too.
Natalie: Nonnie, your dedication and generosity of spirit has enriched so many lives in a multitude of ways. That’s a remarkable achievement. Cheers to you!
NJ: Oh, Natalie, don’t stop! I mean, stop…
Name two favorite INDIE books that you’ve read.
Natalie: Just two? Oh dear… Acts Beyond Redemption (Unintended Consequences Series) by Suzanne Burke is a nonstop, intense thrill ride. I have the second book in the series on my Kindle and can’t wait to delve in. Also, Letting Go into Perfect Love by Gwen Plano is a deeply moving, penetrating story.
NJ: Now, ONE good INDIE book you’ve read that was so good you wished the entire world would read it:
Natalie: The Point Pleasant series by Mae Clair is a must read!
NJ: What was so great about it?
Natalie: In this three-book series, Mae seamlessly weaves folklore, paranormal, suspense, thriller, and a little romance in a highly engaging story. The character development is exceptional and the pace is intense! In true form, Mae never falls to engage all our senses. As a reader, it’s impossible not to be immersed in her stories. I highly recommend it!
NJ: After you read books, do you post reviews?
Natalie: Absolutely! But it wasn’t until I published my first book that I really understood how essential reviews are. Reviews are vital and they can, essentially, be the gatekeepers of an author’s success. A book without reviews can be a hard sell, especially if you’re an unknown author. Reviews entice readers in one of two directions: to read or not to read. An author’s goal is to entice readers to purchase their work, and, hopefully, return with a positive review. And purchase another book!
NJ: What do you think readers should base their reviews on?
Natalie: I base my reviews on whether or not I thoroughly enjoyed the story and/or have been deeply moved by it. Great reads stay with me, and that’s powerful. A book that doesn’t quite hold my attention may be a good book, it just didn’t pull me in fully. Another reader may love it. So, in my reviews I often refer to how it made me feel and why. It could be the eloquent writing style, well-developed characters, intricately woven plot and subplots, perfectly paced, an unforgettable story, etc. I should note, however, that if a book is riddled with spelling and grammar errors it’s impossible to thoroughly enjoy it.
NJ: Are you one of those who are afraid to be honest in their reviews lest the author gets upset with you, or is honesty your best policy, especially in reviews?
Natalie: I’m always honest with my reviews. I refer to how the book made me feel and why. I may not love the book, but it may be a good story. There’s always something I enjoyed, and I highlight this in my review.
As authors, it’s our responsibility to publish polished work. There will always be someone who doesn’t thoroughly enjoy our work because of personal preference, style, etc. That’s okay. Constructive feedback can be invaluable and help us gauge our writing. But, it’s also important not to let the “haters” skew our voice. I have yet to meet one, but I think it’s inevitable in this anonymous online world. So, let’s support one another in our shared passion of writing with honest, constructive reviews!
NJ: There’s always something you enjoy? In every read? WOW! You’re an angel! I can honestly say that as many books as I’ve read, there were many that left a horrible taste in my mouth, so unfortunately, I can’t say the same. This brings me to my next question, though…have you read any poorly written books lately?
Natalie: Not lately.
NJ: Lucky you! How many poorly written books have you read that you gave a high mark to in your review, when you knew it was horrible? Be honest, I won’t ask you to name the books here in public.
Natalie: I see no value in this at all. It’s a disservice to the author and the industry as a whole. Also, as a writer, this practice could easily tarnish my integrity in this profession.
NJ: Good answer! I wish everyone felt the same way when it came to reviews. Unfortunately, we live in a world of “nice” and “fear.” I find that these two should never be the guiding factors in reviews. You can be kind in reviews, and you don’t have to tear anyone down, either, but, in the end, honesty is the only thing that will help the author improve as a writer. There’s a place for nice and it’s on the playground. There’s a place for fear, and it’s on the battlefield. I cannot stress enough that with reviews, HONESTY is the only way to go.
Natalie, there are some INDIE authors who have come onto the scene and have given our literary playing field a new look. Can you name two INDIE authors who have done this in your eyes? And, how do you think they have changed the field for us?
Natalie: Some of my favorite books were written by Indie Authors. The talent in this industry (community) is incredible. I believe the path of publication should never dictate an author’s success. As a whole, I think we’re moving in a positive direction.
As writers, I believe it’s our duty to honour the craft of writing. Producing poor quality work is a disservice to the craft, the industry as a whole, and most definitely the readers who expect and deserve a product they can ultimately enjoy.
NJ: Are you an author? Are you a good one? C’mon, we love honesty here.
Natalie: I am an author of two collections of poetry, and both have been well received.
Poetry is such a subjective form of art; I leave it up to the readers to decide. It is my hope that readers will connect with the verses in a way that is cathartic and soothing. I hope they can travel back with welcomed reflection, find solace and wisdom in the present, and feel inspired for the journey that lies before them. This is what I aspire to achieve.
NJ: Well, poet to poet, keep on writing. Natalie, how long have you been writing?
Natalie: I penned my first poem in January 2014. It was cathartic and liberating. I felt lost in the chaos of life. Writing was/is my saving grace; it was the light that guided me home.
NJ: Are you able to take constructive criticism of your written work?
Natalie: Yes, of course. I believe constructive feedback can be invaluable and help us gauge our writing.
NJ: Natalie, that is awesome, especially as a member of RWISA. There, we have to all be willing to hear things about our work that might catch us off guard, but ultimately, will make us better writers. Name two books that you’ve written?
NJ: Which one do you think is the best?
Natalie: This is a tough one! Every poem is unique to a specific emotion and place in time. It’s real, raw, and poignant. However, in THE HEART’S LULLABY, I delve deeper and explore/translate the intricate beauty that lies within our hearts. My journey as a self-published author has been a remarkable one. The freedom to chart my own course, thus taking ownership of every step is liberating and a precious gift for a creative soul.
NJ: Do you have a blog or website? I love GREAT blogs, so would you say that yours is written well enough for harsh critics like me to enjoy?
Natalie: I do have a website/blog. I think it’s a must for every author. A place that welcomes and engages readers and reflects a writer’s style. Nonnie, I’d love for you to drop by for a visit.
NJ: And I shall do that very soon! Thanks for the invite! Which online resource or organization has helped you as an author the most?
Natalie: RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!
NJ: How were you helped by them?
Natalie: Joining Rave Reviews Book Club is the best decision I have ever made as a writer. Soon after I joined in 2015, I was the recipient of a #PUSHTUESDAY slot. The flood of support I received from fellow members was incredible. I have since been featured as MEMBER of the MONTH, and in April 2016 my first book of poetry, The Heart’s Journey Home, was selected as one of the three BOOKS of the MONTH. Also, I was interviewed on the RAVES WAVES RADIO broadcasts: BEHIND the PEN, BUY the BOOK, and most recently BRING ON THE SPOTLIGHT! To be chosen for these spots is a huge honor, and I assure you it will never be forgotten.
The support has been tremendous and continues to be. The results are tangible: sales and reviews of my books are steadily climbing, and I have seen an increase in followers (and engagement!) on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest. But wait, the support doesn’t end there!
Writing is such a solitary process that we need to connect with others, interact, engage, exchange ideas and learn from each other. The talent within RRBC is extraordinary and the level of peer support is undeniably inspiring. But here’s the key piece: you have to interact and engage.
By observing and engaging with fellow members, I learned how to effectively use social media and discovered the wonderful world of blogging. I’m ecstatic to say I host fellow authors on my blog now. There is a strong community framework within the world of blogging. It’s all a learning process, but a fun one. A lot of what I’ve learned is directly linked to my interaction with fellow writers. I immersed myself into the wealth of knowledge that exists within RRBC. I believe, wholeheartedly, that I’m learning from the best, and I’m elated to say so.
I’ve met so many talented authors and have the privilege of reading and reviewing their work. It continues to be a remarkable journey of learning, friendship, and gratitude.
NJ: WOW! What kind words you have to share, Natalie. That was amazing! Since you’re sitting on the SHELF, you’re obviously a RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB member, so what do you think of the club?
Natalie: RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB is a community like no other. Whether you are an author or an avid reader, RRBC is a place you’ll feel at home. Quite simply … RRBC is the place to be! If you’re not a member already, I highly recommend joining.
NJ: Have you come across any other online entities like it?
Natalie: No. It’s unique for sure.
NJ: Thanks, again for those kind words, Natalie. Would you recommend it to your friends and family?
Natalie: Absolutely. I’ve been encouraging others since I joined in 2015!
NJ: What’s your most favorite program or place here within RRBC? (#PUSHTUESDAY, RAVE WAVES shows, Block Parties, WRITERS’ CONFERENCE & BOOK EXPOS, BOOKS OF THE MONTH discussions, “ON THE SHELF” interviews, etc.)
Natalie: This is another tough one! I enjoy it all, but for unique reasons. I love the enthusiasm behind #PUSHTUESDAY. I love the interaction and engagement during the Block Parties. I love hearing the voices of fellow members during RAVE WAVES shows and learning more about them. I really enjoy the BOOKS OF THE MONTH discussions. And my gosh … this month as “SPOTLIGHT” Author has been truly amazing, and I’m most grateful and humbled by this honor.
NJ: Well, Natalie, this shelf is getting hard on my hiney, so we’re going to wrap this interview up. Any final words for our guests today?
Natalie: I just like to send out a huge THANK YOU to you, Nonnie, for providing such an amazing opportunity for authors to join together in a shared goal and united passion. To fellow members, I thank you for your kindness, encouraging words, and generous support. You are awesome!!
NJ: Thank you so much for hanging out on THE SHELF with us today, Natalie! And, thanks for being an awesome member! You have definitely given us “great” interview and we’d love to have you come back again some time. We mean that!
To my guests, please pick up a copy of one of Natalie’s books or both of them.
Have you joined RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB yet? Well, here’s your chance! And, since Natalie was on the “SHELF” today, tell them she sent you. Make it a great day, my friends…or not. The choice is all yours! We’ll see you next month, right here on the “SHELF” with another INTERESTING GUEST!!