Author Archive: RaveReviewsbyNJ

Mary Adler in “WHO’S ON THE SHELF” w/@Nonnie Jules – #RRBC #RWISA @MAADlerWrites

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 bookshelf. 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, RRBC member and RWISA Secretary, and also our first “SPOTLIGHT” Author of the year, MARY ADLER! We have been celebrating her all month long and today, she gets to sit on the shelf with me!

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NJ:  Before we get started, how do you like the design and feel of my new shelf?  We updated it in 2017 and in all honesty, I can’t recall any accidents lately, so I think this redesign is working.  Are you comfy, Ms. Mary-on-the-swing?

Mary:  “You can’t recall”? My trained legal mind notes that you did not say there have been no accidents lately. Just that you can’t recall any. Remember those congressional hearings? I don’t know how I can get comfy after that statement. Isn’t there a seat belt?

NJ:  Seatbelt?  Where would the fun be in having those around?  I mean, I didn’t build this 30-shelf bookshelf for nothing!  So, let’s get into this interview which is starting a bit late because our dear guest wasn’t properly attired.  Mary, will you start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name:

Mary:  Mary Adler is not a pen name. Nor is it my birth name. (It is my birth first name and married last name.)

NJ:  Well, that’s nice to know,  So, tell us where you were born?  Do you still live there now?  If not, what city and state are you calling home these days?

Mary:  I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I live in Sebastopol, northern California, and love it. Sometimes we go into San Francisco to see “real” people because Sebastopol is a bit counterculture and rooted in the sixties and we have to remind ourselves that not everyone everywhere wears tie-dye and Birkenstocks. Although lately San Francisco has become a bit strange with the influx of Silicon Valley tech workers who are changing the beautiful, diverse culture of old San Francisco as they push out less affluent people.

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{Huh?}

NJ:  Mary, are you married or single?  (…And, have you driven him to start drinking yet?)

Mary:  I am married to a wonderful man who encourages me to write and supports my writing career even though it probably soaks up more financial resources that a sailboat would.  (For non-sailors, a sailboat is a hole in the water surrounded by wood into which you throw money.)

NJ:  OK.  Do you and this wonderful man who encourages you to write, have any kids?  What kind? And, do you like them?

Mary:  Three kids. All human. They are wonderful people, so, yes, I like them (as well as love them, which we know isn’t always the case with kids.)

NJ:  Really?  We don’t always love our kids?  I thought it was the other way around…you know, sometimes you don’t like them, but Mary, since I don’t want you to be in any legal trouble, I think it’s against the law to not love them all the time.  FYI.  Now,  if you’re not there already – when you’re old and cranky, which one will keep you at home to care for you themselves, and which one started seeking out the A PLACE FOR MOM franchise facility in your area when they were 9?

Mary:  Nonnie, I’m way past old enough to be cranky.  I’m old enough to tell younger people to appreciate their knees while they have them.  They have no idea what I’m talking about or what the future has in store for their nimble selves. Back to your question: After a dear friend had to put his mother into a home, I asked my 14-year old son if he would put me in a home when I was old. He answered, without missing a beat, “That depends on how you get along with my wife.” I immediately answered, “I love her!!”  I think our daughter who is a principal at a school for autistic children has the patience and skills to deal with me when I’m old. Maybe. Besides, I’m not going anywhere without my dogs.

NJ:  Well, aren’t you sharp in the wit department with that swift response to your son’s bold statement?    Mary, do you guys have any pets?  If so, what kind?  And since they tend to act like kids, too, I have to ask the same question…do you like them?

Mary:  At the moment, we have Lily, a 12-year old Rottweiler with serious health issues, and Charley, a 25-pound mixed breed affectionately known as a “Mexi-Mutt” by the rescue organization that goes to Mexico to save these dogs from horrible lives. I love them both but do wish Charley would stop closing my laptop on my hands. Ouch!

NJ:  Well, that’s not very nice, Charley,  but moving right along…Mary, 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?

Mary:  I hear the siren song of caramel-pecan turtles in my dreams, on walks, while cleaning the house … you get the picture. That said, if I had to eat only one kind of food for the rest of my life, it would be pasta.

NJ:  Really?  Pasta?  Not pizza?  WOW!  So, what’s your favorite color?

Mary:  Blue.

NJ:  Favorite sport…

Mary:  Canine Nosework which my husband says is as exciting as watching paint dry, but the feeling of teamwork with my dog as I support him while he does all the work with his extraordinary nose is deeply satisfying. My least favorite aspect of all sports on television is overtime.

NJ:  Hahaha!  Would that be overtime in anything?  LOL.  OK, your favorite TV Show…

Mary:  Commissario Montalbano, an Italian detective series starring Luca Zingaretti — that’s my pounding heart shaking the shelf, Nonnie.

NJ:  OK.  Never heard of that.  Who’s your favorite Actress/Actor…

Mary:  See above for tv actor. I loved Raoul Julia, too. Favorite actress: Audrey Hepburn for her elegance, the way she caressed the English language, and for her dedication to helping children in war-torn countries.

NJ:  She’s one of my favorites, too.  Mary, do you like to exercise to stay fit OR do you not mind walking around with a beer belly?

Mary:  I don’t drink beer (unlike Elizabeth Warren) so I don’t have a beer belly. However, remember my answer about the caramel-pecan turtles?  Walking is my only exercise. It takes too long for me to get back up off the floor for me to do exercises. Half the day would be shot!

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NJ:  We’re going to take that as a NO.  OK.  What’s 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).

Mary:  Do I have to pick just one?

NJ:  Yes.

Mary:  I suppose it’s people who won’t accept responsibility for their own happiness. I learned a long time ago that we can “give up our suffering.” It seems to be impossible for some people to do that, and they go around whingeing about their first world problems instead of doing something to help people with real problems, like homelessness or hunger. Of course, I can’t tell you what I want to do to people who abuse animals or children.

NJ:  Good.  I already feel as though I should have an attorney on stand-by when you leave my shelf.  Are you neat or messy?

Mary:  Both. It depends on which one of me is in charge that day.

Shocked looking dog

{She is freaking me the hell out right now}

NJ:  I’m almost afraid to ask this but Mary, are you nice or mean?  And would your response be your perception of you, or what others think of you?

Mary:  People think I am nicer than I am. (You probably know about that.) But I am kind and would never intentionally hurt anyone. Except those people who abuse animals or children or anyone too weak to stick up for themselves.

NJ:  I know you better than most here.  You are nice and sweet but I also know better than to get on that other side of you, too. I mean, in a WonderWoman to WonderWoman catfight…you just might be able to get “a” punch in.  {Notice I only gave you one}. Now, which do you prefer…Facebook or Twitter?

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Mary:  Oh, dear. I am completely incompetent where both are concerned, but because of RRBC I do use Twitter more.

NJ:  {Snarky laugh}  Hahaha, oh look, you mentioned little ‘ole RRBC.

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Mary, 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?

Mary:  When my first Rottweiler was diagnosed with bone cancer, I found an online group — BoneCancerDogs– that had more helpful information than the vet did. Because of them, my Emma had a good life for a full year post diagnosis.  (She had been given six weeks.) I formed online friendships that have lasted twenty years and I have been lucky enough to meet some of my buds at actual real-life reunions. There are four of us who are there for each other no matter what. I treasure them.

NJ:  That’s awesome that you found the type of support you needed, at just the right time.  Good for you for doing your research.  Mary, who’s the one person that you’ve met online who makes you laugh the hardest?

Mary:  Denise Fenzi, a marvelous dog trainer, whose dog takes over her Facebook page. I suppose I should say Denise Fenzi’s dog. (Not really a person.)

NJ:  Who do you favor most:  Nonnie Jules or WonderWoman? Be honest

Mary:  You mean they are not the same person?

NJ:  Do you think that they are?  We all know that WonderWoman 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, as well.

Mary:  WonderWoman and Nonnie really aren’t the same person?

NJ:  Name two favorite INDIE books that you’ve read by RRBC members:

Mary:  I loved Harriet Hodgson’s book, The Family Caregiver’s Guide. I have bought and given away multiple copies because I think everyone who is being cared for or is a caregiver would benefit from Harriet’s plain speaking commonsense and wisdom. I have a copy for my children because I want to be treated with the respect and dignity Harriet advocates, and I want them to take care of themselves, too, and her book explains how to do that.

I also loved The Alternative, by Suzanne Burke, A Heaven for Toasters, by Nicholas Rossis, and Finding Billy Battles,  by Ron Yates.

Really dog

{Here goes another one who can’t count…1, 2…STOP!  It ain’t rocket science, people}   

NJ:  ONE, ONE, ONE, ONE good INDIE book you’ve read written by an RRBC member that was so good you wish the entire world would read it…

Mary:  Once again, Harriet’s The Family Caregiver’s Guide.

NJ:  What was so great about that book, Mary, that you were moved to buy copies for other people…even your own children?

Mary:  It is a blueprint for compassionate care for loved ones.

NJ:  {Yeah, I don’t like those kinds of books…I’m joshing} After you read books, do you post reviews?

Mary:  Usually, now that I understand how much authors need them.

NJ:  What do you think readers should base their reviews on?

Mary:  First, the quality of the storytelling and writing. Second, whether the book exposes the reader to new ideas, new ways of seeing the world.

NJ:  OK.  Are you one of those afraid to be honest in their reviews lest the author gets upset with you, or is honesty your best policy, especially in reviews?

Mary:  I am honest in my reviews, but I don’t review everything.

NJ:  Read any poorly written books lately?

Mary:  Yes, but not all the way through. Life’s too short.

NJ:  How many poorly written books have you read that you gave high marks to in your reviews when you knew they were horrible reads?  Be honest, I won’t ask you to name the books here in public.

Mary:  I don’t review poorly written books. If I think the authors would be receptive, I will write them a note in the hope that it will help them.

NJ:  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 have they changed the field for us?

Mary:  I can name a woman who sometimes thinks she is WonderWoman who has changed the literary playing field by encouraging writers to support each other and strive for their best. She has also created a  number of forums for people to interact and learn in. Maybe I won’t name her. Her head might swell and knock me right off the shelf.

Blushing dog

{Whoever could you be speaking of, Mary Adler?}

NJ:  Are you an author?

Mary:  Yes.

NJ:  Well, since we’re being honest (and big-headed here) are you a good one?

Mary:  Absolutely!

NJ:  {Now, I could take that response and run with it one of two ways….but what the heck, I’m running with it both ways!}

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{I can’t hear you, I’m busy blasting my quads…} AND

Dog drinking

{I’m too wasted to care that she just said that}

Well, okey dokey!  Mary, how long have you been writing?

Mary:  It seems I have been writing my whole life, but much of what I wrote was nonfiction.

NJ:  Are you able to take constructive criticism of your written work?

Mary:  With the emphasis on constructive, yes. I welcome criticism from people who know what they are talking about.

NJ:  Well, let me criticize you just a little here, Missy!  Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot my mic was still on.  Anyway, share the name of two books that you’ve written?

Mary: 

In the Shadow of Lies: An Oliver Wright WWII Mystery (Book One)

In The Shadow of Lies by Mary Adler

Shadowed by Death: An Oliver Wright WWII Mystery (Book Two)  

Shadowed by Death by Mary Adler

’18 KCT ILA Top Finalist – Blue “Treat” Award

NJ:  Which one do you think is the best?

Mary:  I learned a lot about craft while writing In the Shadow of Lies,  and I listened to what some readers said about its complexity. So after I wrote Shadowed by Death,  I revised the first book. Oliver now tells the story in first person, and I simplified some of the plot complexity. I also resurrected a character I regretted killing.  Yay! I love both books for different reasons.

NJ:  I’m sure you do.  They are good books.  Mary, 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?

Mary:  I have a website, but I don’t write on it regularly. However, what is there is GREAT and written well enough for even harsh critics like Nonnie to enjoy.

NJ:  Since you’re sitting on the SHELF, you’re obviously a RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB member, so what do you think of the club?

Mary:  I love being part of RRBC. I feel as if I have found a wonderful community of friends who are also writers and readers.

NJ:  Have you come across any other online entities like it?

Mary:  Absolutely not. It is unique.

NJ:  Would you recommend it to your friends and family?

Mary:  Yes.

NJ:  Mary, what’s your most favorite program or place here within RRBC?  (#PUSHTUESDAY, RAVE WAVES Shows, Block Parties, Writers’ Conference & Book Expo, BOOKS OF THE MONTH discussions, “ON THE SHELF” interviews, etc.)

Mary:  I love Rave Waves shows. It’s great to hear people’s voices and listen to them talk about writing and their books. I appreciate that they are archived because I sometimes can’t make the live broadcast. I also love the Writers’ Conference & Book Expo because I “met” people, discovered their books, and learned many things about writing.

NJ:  This shelf is getting hard on my hiney, so we’re going to wrap this interview up.  Any final words for our listening audience today?

Mary:  I have loved being Spotlight Author this month. I want to thank you, Nonnie, for creating it and for choosing me. I also want to thank each and every member who commented on the blog tour and responded to the Rave Waves show. We have wonderfully compassionate and articulate members and I loved getting to know many of them better this month.

Whoops, I seem to be slipping off the shelf. Whip out that magic lasso WonderWoman!

NJ:  Mary, thank you so much for joining me here today and thank you for being such a supportive member, the route that landed you in this beautiful hot seat this month.

To my guests, please pick up a copy of either of Mary’s books.  I assure you, you will enjoy both.

Have you joined RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB yet?  Well, here’s your chance!  And, since Mary was on the “SHELF” today, tell them she sent you.

Until next time, take care.  We’ll see you next month, right here on the “SHELF” with another INTERESTING GUEST!!

***

DISCLAIMER:  RRBC does not alter the writing of any guest who has participated in our interviews.  We post material exactly as it is submitted to us.
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The Birth of a Wonder – The Short History of #RaveReviewsBookClub #RRBC

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(Image by All-Free-Downloads.com)

On Sunday, December 8, 2013, I remember sitting at my dining room table and staring at my computer monitor…surfing thru my Twitter feed.

After having finished reading a book that had been tagged on Twitter as “#GreatRead!” and being sorely disappointed and wanting to then tag a more truthful review – “#WorstReadEver” (as it was poorly written, in need of a professional edit and proof and so much more), the wheels of my brain began to spin rapidly.

“I’m going to create a forum where I can post honest reviews of the books that I’ve read,”  I said, half out loud.

After creating the forum and giving more thought to how I could make an even greater contribution to the literary world by posting honest reviews of books, I decided that it would be a great idea to offer more under the umbrella of what I had initially planned; more in the sense of creating a community of readers and writers who could also offer and benefit from honest book reviews.

There were a handful of authors on Twitter who I had developed a special rapport with, and the first one that I reached out to was Bruce A. Borders.  Bruce and I had been supporting one another for quite some time and I had read one of his books and knew that he was a good writer, and also a strong reviewer.

“I’m going to form a book club under the umbrella of Rave Reviews By Nonnie Jules.  A forum where authors will come together to support one another, and also a place where readers can expect that the reviews of books will be honest.  I’d like you to join me and serve as my VP.”

“Sounds like a great idea.  I’m all in,” Bruce said.  “Just let me know when you’re ready to start.”

After the site was fully established with the book club and all that it would offer, I reached out to a few more that I had been reciprocating support with, and, who I also knew would be assets to the club.  The late, Kathryn C. Treat was next on my list and she would serve as our first Membership Director up until two months prior to her death.

In the first month of formation, we added over 300 members to our roster.  By month 5, we had over 600 members.  Membership at that time was really inexpensive: it was FREE.

Since one of the asks of the club was that members #Follow one another on Twitter, we soon came to realize that many were joining us simply to grow their Twitter following.  It soon became abundantly clear that they had no desire or intentions to support their fellow members;  they merely wanted to #follow so that they in turn would be #followed.

In our 6th month, we instituted a $25 annual membership fee, which in my eyes was still FREE, especially when you think about all that the club offers.  The advent of the fee was our way of keeping the riff raff off our roster as we sought to add more of those who were serious about what we were working towards.

I had a TEAM of 7 at the time, and sadly, now I can’t even remember everyone’s name as they weren’t on our roster long (for their own personal reasons)…although we continued to support them off the roster.

Contrary to popular belief, Beem Weeks and Marlena Smith (Marlena Hand at that time) were not original TEAM members of the club.  I noticed Beem, as he was one of the few supporting other authors on Twitter just as much as I was.  I knew that he would be a great asset to the club and he has never proven me wrong.  (After the 7 TEAM members, Beem was the 2nd member on our roster in January of 2014.)

Marlena was also a great supporter of others, and there was something about her persona on Twitter that made me KNOW she would be the best Secretary ever – and for all these years, she has been.  When I asked her to join and serve, she stood back and watched for a couple of days before she said “YES!” (This will surprise many of you, but Marlena was the 174th member on our roster in January of 2014.  And, that was before January 14, 2014! The club was a little over one month old!)  So, as you can see, our membership was growing by leaps and bounds – when it was FREE.

Although Shirley Harris-Slaughter was among my core group of those I reciprocated support with on Twitter, she didn’t come aboard immediately.  Her name was added to our roster shortly after Beem joined, and she has never wavered in her support of RRBC.

Fast forward 5 years and many changes to the faces on my TEAM.  We have had some awesome authors to serve on the RRBC board.  There are some who hold Lifetime Memberships, who have given and who continually give of their time to serve the community of RRBC, who I’m sure will be around until the very end.  Some faces joined our TEAM much later, yet have proven to be committed to serving the RRBC community and our agendas of support.  They’re so awesome, I often wonder how I ever got on without them (Wendy Scott, Jan Sikes, Michelle Abbott, Eric Halpenny, and Mary Adler to name a few).

Although some of the names on our roster have changed over the course of these 5 years, the goals and mission which I established on day one, have not.  We are a community of support.  We are committed to being recognized as an establishment of Indie authors, who take very seriously the business of writing and publishing great works.  We believe in lifting as we climb and we stand by the policy that “honesty” in book reviews, is always the road to travel.  We strive daily to ensure that we put forth our best and most professional “author” face ever, so that we are one day placed in the history books alongside other literary greats.  And, with the inception of RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), we aim to be the very best.

Other long-timers also remain on our roster.  Members like:  Bette A. Stevens, Karen Ingalls, Kim Taylor, Peggy Hattendorf, Ernestine Rose, Bill Ward, Nicholas Rossis, John Howell, Larry Hyatt, Robin Leigh Morgan, Karl Morgan, Carol Marrs-Phipps, Micki Peluso, Marcha Fox, Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko, Rhani D’Chae, Yvette Calleiro and so many more, are all part of this amazing family that we’ve created online.  This list is too extensive to go on, but, these are some of the early joiners. I appreciate each and every one of them for their staying power and loyalty to RRBC.

As with any organization, we have lost members over the years, but, I never concern myself with those who have moved on.  We accept that not everyone understands or subscribes to the theory of commitment and dedication.  If everyone did, that wouldn’t be real life, now would it?  My attention and focus is always reserved for those who remain.

For those members who have left our roster for things out of their control, (i.e. LIFE, etc.) we wish them all the best and we always welcome those members back into the fold, if and when they decide to return.  Many who have left our roster, later realize the importance of RRBC to the literary world and do return, by the way.

And, for every member who we have lifted, promoted and given name recognition to, yet in the end, moved on to try and compete with RRBC, as opposed to remaining and offering the same support to others, they’ve only made room for those who were actually designed to be here;  and, for that, I am grateful.

Until there is no more breath left in my body, RRBC/RWISA will continue to thrive and grow into the powerhouse it was destined to be, and, it will continue on as the most supportive arena for serious writers that it has grown into and that it is known for.

We don’t believe in looking back or dwelling on the past here at RRBC.  Our success lies before us…in the minutes, days, weeks, months and many years to come.  We know that as long as we remember that it’s not about self, but more about community that helps us succeed, we’ll do just fine.

I will end here by saying, “Here’s to another very successful 5 years, RRBC/RWISA!” 

HAPPY 5TH BIRTHDAY!!!

Mark Bierman in “WHO’S ON THE SHELF” w/@Nonnie Jules – #RRBC @MBiermanAuthor

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 bookshelf. 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!

We have a very special guest on the SHELF with us, RRBC member and November’s “SPOTLIGHT” Author, MARK BIERMAN! We have been celebrating him the entire month of November and although a little delayed, he gets to sit on the shelf with me today!

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NJ:  Before we get started, how do you like the design and feel of my new shelf?  We’ve made it more comfortable in 2018, 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, comfy?

Mark:  Yes, I’m totally chilled. Thank you.

NJ:  Chilled?  Huh?  OK.  Well, let’s start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name?

Mark:  Birth

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?

Mark:  I grew up on a farm, about a half an hour from a small city called Brockville, in the beautiful province of Ontario, Canada. We had almost three-hundred acres of land, some of it forested, so my siblings and I were always outside. Sadly, in 1991, my Dad decided he no longer wanted to run a farm and he sold the place. Before he sold it, he asked me if I wanted to take it over. If I’d said ‘yes’ he would have held onto it for me until I was a bit older. But, hey, I was nineteen at the time and had no desire to be a farmer . . . there was a big world out there to explore and I didn’t want to be tied to a farm. I admit, looking back on the opportunity that I’d had of being my own boss, there are regrets. Well, fast forward to 2004, and after years of moving about, living in cities, and being apartment dwellers, my wife (also raised on a farm) and I decided it was time to return to quiet roads and green spaces. We bought, and still occupy, a small bungalow with ten acres of land just outside of Napanee, Ontario. It’s about one hour from my old farm.    

NJ:  What an amazing story, Mark!  Maybe one day you’ll have the opportunity to buy your dad’s old place.  We’ll pray on that.  Well, we know that you’re married so tell us how you two lovebirds met.

Mark:  I’m married to an amazing woman named Tanya. She’s been my rock. Always supportive, with my writing as well.  We met via a friend of mine back in 1997. In 2002 we were married. She’s very creative and used to run her own interior design business. I can’t say enough good things about her.

NJ:  That’s awesome and you’re my kind of husband…the kind that never runs out of good things to say about his wife.  I have one of those at home.  Are you parents?  If so, to what species…animal or human?

Mark:  The human kind.  But, if you’re going by gender, two girls. That’s about where the similarities end. The two are polar opposites. The oldest, she’s our budding engineer. Analytical and perceptive, this kid knows her stuff when it comes computers. Last Christmas, we bought her a small robot that she could program to perform simple moves, the program was meant for older kids, but she managed to get that thing working in no time. I don’t know where this ability came from, not from me! The one thing she did inherit was my love for reading. She devours books.

Our youngest is also very bright, but not as academic. She loves dance (cartwheels everywhere, even in malls), wearing glittery dresses and snakes. Yup, snakes. No fear of handling the reptiles, large or small (definitely did not get this trait from me!). I’ve said to her on more than one occasion, “You’d put glitter on a boa constrictor and wear it like a scarf.”            

NJ:  Hahaha!  I love your stories and since I’m a girl-mommy, I love these daughters of yours, too!  Mark, clearly you’re not old enough to even be considered for what I’m about to ask, but let’s fast forward a few years.  When you’re old and cranky, which one will keep you at home to care for you on their own, and which one will immediately throw you into a nursing home and only visit you at Christmas?

Mark:  Ummm . . . that depends. You know, I sometimes think about that when I say ‘no’ to their demands. The youngest, especially. Oh, she’s sweet enough, but this has me picturing my future self leaning against my walker, with all remaining earthly possessions stuffed into a zip lock freezer bag and sitting on the front stoop of ‘Helga’s Ranch For Really Old Dudes’ or known locally as the HRFROD. My false teeth clatter against the stoop as I watch her cart wheel across the parking lot towards the convertible she bought with my pension cheques. “The kitty was nice, Old Man . . . but when I was ten, you should have bought me the pit viper instead.”

The older one . . . she’d probably look after me, as long as I agreed to be nurtured by the robot she built to look after me. “Obey the ‘bot’, Dad, and we’ll get along fine. Listen to Xena.”

This thing has a name, now?” I’d ask as oatmeal dribbles down my chin. ‘Xena’s’ aim with a spoon is still a work in progress.

Xena, rules.” She’d answer, just a hint of threat in her voice. “Now open your mouth, wider.”

Naw, just kidding. I’m sure, I think, that either one would let me occupy their attic.

NJ:  Mark, I think you’re penning for a job doing stand-up, ‘eh?  OK, moving right along.  Any pets?  What kind?

Mark:  As of three month ago, fish only. They are mollies, five of them live in harmony together, along with one zebra snail. We did have a lovely yellow lab (passed away at the age of 12) and a cat named Marble (age 14 when she died). Tanya and I are not currently excited for more furry pets, but the pressure is on to get another cat, so one is in the future . . . at least they’re not asking for a snake.

NJ:  That’s nice.  Let’s move away from the cat-chatter.  (Nonnie doesn’t do cats…or snakes).  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?

Mark: No bake cherry cheesecake’ . . . love the stuff!! I’m pretty health conscious, so it only comes around on my birthday and Christmas. I’d trade an entire chocolate cake for just one piece.

NJ:  WOW!  You must really like that stuff.  Believe it or not, most people don’t, I have never tried cheesecake.  I’m weird in that fashion.  You see, in Nonnie’s mind, there are some things that just shouldn’t be paired….even in the naming sense.  Like, I can’t wrap my mind around cheese and cake (my sister would kill for this stuff)….I can’t stand to eat catfish because it has whiskers (and we know how Nonnie feels about cats)…I think that cheese only belongs on hamburgers and nachos (my family puts cheese on EVERYTHING…chicken included)…I’m sure you get the picture.  But, I’m happy for those people with open minds, like yours.  But, moving right along, what’s your favorite color?

Mark:  I love the golden color of ripened corn stalks. When the sun hits them just right . . . can’t really explain it if you have never seen it. Probably harkens back to my childhood on the farm.

NJ:  Probably.  What’s your favorite sport?

Mark:  Down hill skiing. I know, I’m Canadian and hockey is supposed to be king, but not for me.

NJ:  Favorite TV Show…

Mark:  I’m not really a big television watcher, but there’s a documentary on Netflix called, ‘Paranormal Survivor’. The supernatural has always fascinated me. I’m a pretty logical individual, but I’ve had a few crazy experiences that neither myself, nor anyone else can explain away.

NJ:  Interesting.  How about a Favorite Actress/Actor…

Mark:  Morgan Freeman

NJ:  Hmmm.  He was once a favorite of mine, too, but he allowed his personal life to get in the way of our relationship.  Mark, do you like to exercise to stay fit OR do you not mind just letting it all go?

Mark:  I workout about an hour and a half everyday. I lift weights, run/walk, and try to remember to stretch after

NJ:  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).

Mark:  Employers who think they “own” employees. Ya, I get it, we need your money to help us live, but I think you’re forgetting that it’s a two-way street! Sheesh! They boil my blood! See my comment in question one about wishing I was self employed.

NJ:  WOW!  I hope this doesn’t lead to some workplace retaliation.  But, I can understand what you’re speaking of.  I haven’t worked for someone else in thousands of years, thank God, but I do remember the time.  So, are you neat or messy, Mark?

Mark:  Neat . . . messes drive me crazy! Though I’ve learned to tolerate a bit more because of the kids. My favorite saying that I once heard was, “Trying to clean up your house when you have small children, is like trying to brush your teeth while eating Oreos!”

NJ:  Not true.  My house was just as sparkly clean and neat when my babies were babies, just the same as it is today and they are young adults.  It’s all in your discipline.  Facebook or Twitter?

Mark:  Used to be Facebook, now I’m leaning towards Twitter.

NJ:  Yes, RRBC will convert you quickly to a Twitter-ian.  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?

Mark:  I have a friend who is a paramedic, we send each other funny video clips and jokes, and because our professions take us to the darker side of humanity, our humor follows.

NJ:  You’re married so I hope this friend is male…hahaha!  Mark, we all know that WonderWoman 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.

Mark:  I declare it a tie for now, until I can set up a competition between the two of you (lassoing bad guys . . . I know where to find a few) I’ll just let them go in a field and we’ll see who gets the most. Oh yes, it will be against Lynda Carter, she’s still got it!

NJ:  Name two favorite INDIE books that you’ve read.

Mark:  Another tough one. I’ve read so many good ones. I really enjoyed ‘The Alternative’ by Suzanne Burke, and ‘Finding Billy Battles’ by Ron Yates.   

NJ:  So glad those were books by two RRBC/RWISA Indie Authors!  Good choices!  Now, how about ONE good INDIE book you’ve read that was so good you wished the entire world would read it.

Mark: The Alternative’ by Suzanne Burke. Maybe not suitable for younger audiences but should be mandatory reading for high school level and beyond.

NJ:  What was so great about it?

Mark:  Aside from the excellent writing, my years working the correctional system has left me, oh let’s just say, a bit cynical and jaded towards some things. Just being honest here.  

NJ:  Mark, after you read books, do you post reviews?

Mark:  Only if I like them. Yes, maybe I am being a bit soft, but I understand the hard work it takes to write a book and have a hard time trashing someone’s efforts. If an author came to me and asked me to proof read their book, well, then I would oblige. I know, tough love and all, but my mother always said, “If you can’t . . .” ah, you know the rest.

Really dog

NJ:  In my opinion, being nice when it comes to offering your honest opinion on a read, helps no one.  But, hey, to each his own.   Mark, 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?

Mark:  Well, I know that honesty is the best policy, but as I mentioned earlier, I don’t post bad reviews, I just stop reading the book and plop it on the ‘NA’ (Never Again) pile. I know that it’s not fair to the author and readers, but for now, I just can’t bring myself to do it.

NJ:  You know, they have classes for that.  Nonnie Jules teaches them, by the way.  LOL.  So, read any poorly written books lately?  Guess we should ask you that here since we know you’d never tell us in an actual review.

Gum popping dog

Mark:  Yes, and I’ve stopped reading after the first three chapters.

NJ:  (I know, I’m beating a dead horse here, but I’m leading up to a point that I must make).  How many poorly written books have you read that you gave a high mark to in your review, when you knew they were horrible?  Be honest, I won’t ask you to name the books here in public.

Mark:  Zero, but there are a few on the ‘NA’ pile.

NJ:  Here goes, Mark.  So, you have this huge NA pile.  I’m curious…how is the author being helped by you stashing their book in a place where you have thrown all the other books that you felt needed help?  Because, that’s what poor reads mean…”need help.”  And maybe, just maybe, they need one person to step out there and tell them the honest truth.  Life isn’t about everything always being pretty.  There is help in ugly at times.  How will these authors grow and become better if you keep throwing their books into your never again pile?

OK, I think I made my point whether it changes anything or not…I had to get that out.    Mark, are you an author?  Are you a good one? C’mon, we love honesty here.

Mark:  I get up early in the morning and type (sometimes successfully, sometimes I need a bit more java) words on the ‘glowy screeny’ thing. So, I guess that makes me one. Oh, there are some who would consider me good. Doesn’t always feel that way. I always feel the need to push myself to be better. I guess that’s a good thing.

NJ:  How long have you been writing?

Mark:  I have been writing seriously for about six years now.

NJ:  Are you able to take constructive criticism of your written work?

Mark:  Yes, but sometimes it’s like ‘Buckley’s Cough Syrup’. It can taste awful, but it works. I try to approach it with this mentality. I tell myself this, “You are writing thousands of words, constructing events that never existed, and characters that never lived, do you really think you are going to get everything right the first time? Do you really expect everyone to like your writing style, story line, genre, (there’s more, but I’ll spare you)?” The answer is, “Of course not.” It’s unrealistic.

When I’m given ‘feedback’ I’ll consider it and weigh it, then make a decision whether I believe it to be valid or not. There are many factors that influence this decision, but a key one, for me, is if the same issue is mentioned by more than one reader. That can carry some weight. There is a common denominator there that may be more than just an individual’s preferences.

NJ:  Give us the name of your book, please.

Mark:  Vanished.

Vanished by Mark Bierman

Though I am currently working on my second. Time is not always on my side and there is limited amounts of it. 

NJ:  Out of this one and the upcoming one…which one do you think will be considered the best?

Mark:  Vanished. Though I think the next when will appeal to a greater audience, whenever it is finished.

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?

Mark:  Yes. Here is the link  markbierman.com. I also have a blog  wordpress. I am not sure if my blog would do well under the microscope, I’m still learning.

NJ:  Which online resource or organization has helped you as an author the most?

Mark:  At the risk of sounding obsequious, Rave Reviews Book Club has been my biggest ally. I honestly had no clue how to market myself. I was writing reviews for other authors, in the false hope that maybe someone would take notice, but it never happened. Let’s face it, this is a tough market, a vast ocean of voices that are trying to find a shoal or an island that they can use to stand above and have their stories heard (too much? Ya, maybe) But you get the idea. I found Rave Reviews when I was searching for yet another author book club. Sounds okay. I’ll give it a try, I thought. I have been pleasantly surprised and impressed.

NJ:  Mark, that’s great to hear!  We always like knowing how we have helped our author members.  So, more specifically, how has RRBC helped you?

Mark:  Well, I actually get reviews, for one thing. Not to mention speedy and great advice on several occasions when I really didn’t have any answers. It’s a great network too. I’ve met people from all back grounds and walks of life with different perspectives from my own. I’ve even been invited into some of their homes, should I ever be in the area (please memorize my photo, should you ever see a strange man standing on your front step . . . if he’s holding a large aquarium full of mollies, you know it’s me and I’m moving in)! Then there’s what we’re doing here, where else can you get this?

NJ:  Since you’re sitting on the SHELF, you’re obviously a RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB member, so what other great things can you say about the club?

Mark:  Everything I mentioned above and more. I’m glad I stumbled onto the site that day. It’s been a great experience and I love the camaraderie.

NJ:  Have you come across any other online entities like it?

Mark:  No, I can’t say I have. It is certainly unique, in a good way!

NJ:  Would you recommend it to your friends and family?

Mark:  I already have. I only (other than online) know two dedicated writers like myself, and I recommended it to both. I don’t believe either one has taken my suggestion yet, but I hope they’ll come around

NJ:  Good! Sometimes it takes a minute for those we offer advice to as to what might be good for them.  They may just need to sit back and watch your success within the club first.   What’s your most favorite program or place here within RRBC?  (#PUSHTUESDAY, RAVE WAVES shows, Block Parties, Writers’ Conference & Book Expo, BOOKS OF THE MONTH discussions, “ON THE SHELF” interviews, etc.)

Mark:  At this point I would have to say, Books Of The Month. I really enjoy reading the work of my fellow writers. I find it relaxing and a nice break from having to be in the pilot’s seat . . . just going for a ride in the imagination of another. I’m frustrated at myself for not getting the second book done as quickly as I’d like and being able to read, review, and help others get that one step closer to their goal is very therapeutic. I was recently on the receiving end of the Book Of The Month, and I was honestly overwhelmed by the amount of support I received, and continue to receive. As I have already mentioned, where else are you going to get this? I’ve yet to find it.

NJ:  WOW!  You’ve been a BOOK OF THE MONTH author and now you’re a “SPOTLIGHT” AUTHOR!  Go, Mark!

Well, this shelf is getting hard on my hiney, so we’re going to wrap this interview up.  Any final words for our guests today?

Mark:  Final Words: I just want to thank everyone for being so supportive and for the opportunities you have given me. I hope I offer you as much, I will continue to try and do so! Keep up the great work!

NJ:  Mark, thank you so much for joining me here today and my apologies for the delay in getting your interview up.  It’s truly been my pleasure to chat with you.

To my guests, please pick up a copy of Mark’s book above and do support him with reviews, no matter how you feel about the read.

Have you joined RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB yet?  Well, here’s your chance!  And, since Mark was on the “SHELF” today, tell them he sent you.

Until next time, take care.  We’ll see you in 2019, right here on the “SHELF” with another INTERESTING GUEST!!

 

Marcha Fox in “WHO’S ON THE SHELF” w/@Nonnie Jules – #RRBC #RWISA @StartrailsIV

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 bookshelf. 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, RRBC member and October’s “SPOTLIGHT” Author, MARCHA FOX! We have been celebrating her all month long and today, she gets to sit on the shelf with me!

halloween2

NJ:  Before we get started, how do you like the design and feel of my new shelf?  We  made it more comfortable in 2017 because we wanted all of our guests to feel more at home…that’s if they’re coming from a nice and neat one, and we also wanted the layout to be a bit safer….you know, we’ve had a few accidents up here on this shelf?  So, comfy, Marcha?

Marcha:  {Silence}

NJ:  Since Marcha chose to not tell us if she’s comfy or not, I think this would be a great time to crank up the old jukebox to break up this awkward moment:

Now, let’s see if she’ll answer the next question.  {Nonnie, leaning over and tapping Marcha on the knee to get her attention.}  Uh, Marcha, let’s start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name?

Marcha:  Married name, actually. My maiden name was Unterreiner. You can see why I married someone with an easy last name.

NJ:  {Uh, no I can’t.  I’m still trying to “see” why you didn’t answer my first question}  Tell us where you were born?  Do you still live there now?  If not, what city and state are you calling home these days?

Marcha:  I was born in Peekskill, NY. My parents moved to California when I was going into 8th grade. In 1973 my then-husband and I moved to Utah, then to Houston, Texas in 1988. I currently live in the Texas Hill Country out in the boonies where I retired in 2009. The nearest town has about 5000 people and it’s 15 miles away. I’m in a small resort/retirement community on the shores of Lake Buchanan.

NJ:  How very interesting!  So, are you now married or single…since you mentioned your “then” husband?

Marcha:  Married 37 years, currently single.

NJ:  Any kids?  If so, what kind?

Marcha:  What kind? Fortunately, the grown kind. I have six kids (4 daughters, 2 sons) who have provided me with 17 grandkids. Two of my granddaughters have provided me with 5 great-grandkids. I don’t remember when I got old enough for that, but what really freaks me out is thinking of my two daughters as grandmothers! Yikes! How could that be? They were just teenagers!

NJ:  {I can see now, we’re about to have an accident.  I can feel my skin itching}  If you’re not there already, when you’re old and cranky, which one will keep you at home to care for you themselves, and which one will immediately throw you into a nursing home and only visit you at Christmas?

Marcha:  Don’t tell them, but I think I could probably count on my younger son and his wife to help me out. On the other hand, one of my daughters considers me her “retirement plan”. So if she plans to move in with me, then I assume she’ll take care of me. On the other hand, maybe she plans to throw me into a nursing home. My mother, who lived to be 96, was in a nursing home for 5 years and I told my kids if I was ever in that position to just shoot me. So, there’s also that possibility…

NJ:  Marcha, be careful what you ask for?  Anyway, any pets?  If so, are they also of the ‘grown’  kind?

Marcha:  The spoiled kind. Two Bengal cats and one sassy tuxedo share the house with me, and I feed three feral cats, two of which were born in my garage and are now tame enough that they let me pet them. The indoor cats are as bad as having children, as far as interrupting me when I’m trying to write.

NJ: OK, enough conversation about cats.  Marcha, 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?

Marcha:  On the rare occasions when such is in the house, that would have to be cheesecake.

NJ:  Yeah, I don’t like cheesecake at all.  Something about putting cheese and cake together sort of blows my appetite.  What’s your favorite color?

Marcha:  Black, mainly because it takes off a few pounds. I also like royal blue, turquoise, hot pink, and magenta.

NJ:  WOW!  I love royal blue and hot pink and black are one of my favorite combination colors.  How about a favorite sport?

Marcha:  To watch: ice skating.   To do: swim

NJ:  I can’t do either, but I do love watching them both.  Favorite TV Show?

Marcha:  “The Big Bang Theory”

NJ:  Hmmm, what are you going to watch when it goes off the air?  It is in its final season, correct?  Oh, nevermind.  You can answer that question later.   Marcha, do you have a favorite Actress or actor?

Marcha:  Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones

NJ:  Harrison Ford is one of the most phenomenal actors around, although I’ve never watched Indiana Jones.  Do you like to exercise to stay fit OR do you not mind just letting it all go?

Marcha:  I have a stationary bike I get on almost every day for about a half-hour. It has 895 virtual miles on it and I’ve done a lot of reading while pedaling away. I love being able to multiplex.

NJ:  Well, good for you.  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.}

Marcha:  Robocalls, especially when they “fake” the caller ID to make you think it’s a local call. Grrrrrr! You don’t even get the satisfaction of telling them where to go since it’s a recording! (But I usually do, anyway.)

NJ:  Well, okie dokie, then.  So, are you neat or messy?

Marcha:  A little of both. My office is an organized mess because there is too much in it, but the rest is pretty neat. I had to downsize 50% when I retired, which was quite a challenge. I had to have a shed built to accommodate some of it. My intention is to get to it someday and clean it out. Yeah, right…”Out of sight, out of mind” is quite effective for avoiding that.

NJ:  OK.  Your preference:  Facebook or Twitter?

Marcha:  Ugh. All social media is a major time-suck, but a necessary evil to an indie author.  If I had to choose, I’d probably go with Facebook.

NJ:  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?

Marcha:  That would be my “cosmic twin” and fellow author, Dawn Greenfield Ireland. Yes, I’m working on her to join us at RRBC. I met her through my astrology work and noticed she was approximately 3 weeks younger than me. We found out our backgrounds were remarkably similar: technical writing, science fiction, self-published–we’d even lived in some of the same towns or areas. Our furniture even looks alike, including an identical vanity chair! What are the odds? She has definitely become my internet BFF.

NJ:  Well, good for you.  Everyone needs an internet BFF.  Who do you favor most:  Nonnie Jules or WonderWoman? Be honest.

Marcha:  You mean they’re not the same person?

NJ:  Well, I think the real WW chain-smokes and NJ, she just likes using chains when people get out of hand, so, I guess the answer is NO.  But moving right along, Marcha, we all know that WonderWoman has her truth lasso and Nonnie has…well, just her truths, in the no-nonsense way she forces us to be honest and just 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.

Marcha:  That’s easy. Nonnie is real while WonderWoman isn’t. Nonnie has definitely made my world a better place through her hard work with RRBC and RWISA. No contest there, folks. WonderWoman is entertaining, but Nonnie rocks!

NJ:  Awwww, that was so sweet of you to say.  Hold on a second…let me push your seat back closer to the safe zone.  Now, there.  Marcha, would you share with us two favorite Indie books that you’ve read?

Marcha:  Only two?

NJ:  Yes, only two, dear.

Marcha:  That’s a tough one, there are so many. Thus, I’ll go with my most recent favorites: Mary Adler’s “In the Shadow of Lies” and Eichin Chang-Lim’s “Flipping.”

In The Shadow of Lies by Mary Adler

Flipping by Eichin Chang Lim

NJ:  Both are amazing RRBC members!  Now, ONE good INDIE book you’ve read that was so good you wished the entire world would read it:

Marcha:  That would be Eichin’s “Flipping.” Loved it, totally made me cry, which isn’t that easy to do.

NJ:  Well, OK.  Do tell us what was so great about it?

Marcha:  Everything! The plot, characters and how they were intertwined, the heavy-duty adversity, the love that bound them together, the research into the medical and gymnastics angles, her silky writing style, and the fact that English is her second language, yet, she can write like that! It had so much substance and originality, I was enchanted as a reader and very impressed as a fellow author.

NJ:  Well, I sure hope Eichin is tuning in to this interview for all of those beautiful accolades you just bestowed upon her and her writing.  Marcha, after you read books, do you post reviews?

Marcha:  Definitely, if I finish the book. If I don’t, usually not, depending on why I didn’t read the whole thing. If it just wasn’t my kind of book, I leave it be as too subjective. If it was poorly written, I’d probably give it a bad review while acknowledging I didn’t read the entire thing and why.

NJ:  What do you think readers should base their reviews on?

Marcha:  Fairness to the book for what it is, considering the genre and intended audience. YA books should not be held to the same standard of complexity and detail as an epic historical novel. There will always be a certain level of subjectivity to any review, but there should be some rationale for the ranking other than unsubstantiated opinion. If I give a book a poor review, I usually specify why. Sometimes I’ll even break it down to components because some are good in one way and dreadful in others. I make an effort to justify my rating in a logical way.

NJ:  Are you one of those who is afraid to be honest in their reviews lest the author gets upset with you, or is honesty your best policy, especially in reviews?

Marcha:  I try to be as honest as possible. It can be difficult if it’s someone who has given you good reviews or they’re a friend of sorts, but generally, it seems “birds of a feather flock together” and we’re on the same basic level. For people I know, I like to participate as a beta reader. Then I can be honest without making it public. It also gives them a chance to fix or explain it.

NJ:  Read any poorly written books lately?

Marcha:  No, gratefully. Fortunately, there are enough excellent writers out there these days whose work I know will be well-done if not enjoyable, I no longer have problems in that area. Every now and then I’ll get one that just isn’t my type of story, even if it’s well-written. I usually don’t advertise what I’m reading for that reason. I wouldn’t want to announce I’m reading something, then quit for purely subjective reasons that could reflect badly on the story when it simply wasn’t what I prefer. Since we’re being honest, I’ll admit that I’ve bought several RRBC books just to be supportive, yet never read them or didn’t get through them.

NJ:  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.

Marcha:  LOL! I’m afraid if something is horrible it’s not going to get a high mark. I might not review it at all, but wouldn’t give it a high mark undeservingly. When I first got into the Indie world, I did a reciprocal review with someone on LinkedIn. She blew right through mine and gave each of them five-stars. Hers was horrible! There must have been three or four typos on every page and the plot was loaded with holes and inaccuracies! I gave her five or six pages that listed the mistakes and issues, an editing job that would have cost her hundreds of dollars. After that, she asked if I was going to leave a review! I apologized and told her I just couldn’t do it, given the quality. She definitely wouldn’t have liked the one or two-star rating I would have given it.

I’ve inflated ratings from time to time, but if it’s truly horrible, I couldn’t do that. I want people to have some level of trust in my reviews. It can get complicated, though, when several elements of the story are well-done while others are lacking. That’s when I have to break it down into its components, rank each separately, then find the average.

NJ:  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 have they changed the field for us?

Marcha:  I think Ron Yates is one candidate for that as well as Mary Adler with their respective works of historical fiction. I’m a detail-oriented person who appreciates good research backing it up, and they both do an outstanding job.  The high quality of their work raises the bar for everyone.

I must admit, some of the books I read early-on from the RRBC selections were pretty unprofessional and were a chore to get through. RWISA has helped with that a lot. I can count on a high level of quality and professionalism from anyone who’s a member. I do know a couple authors who aren’t in there whose work I enjoy, but the guesswork isn’t nearly as painful as it has been in the past.

NJ:  Are you an author?  Are you a good one?  C’mon, we love honesty here.

Marcha:  I’m trying to be. There is always something to learn and ways to improve. When I read works from the author’s I’ve mentioned, I’m always a bit awed and humbled. I tend to analyze what makes them stand out and figure out how I can incorporate new techniques into my own writing. I’d like to think I can always do better.

NJ:  Marcha, your response to that question above was my best one yet.  Perfect!  So, how long have you been writing?

Marcha:  I remember writing my first story when I was in 1st grade. After that, I wrote science fiction stories to entertain my classmates in 6th grade. I loved to write letters to relatives and pen pals, even as a young child. I could read before I went to kindergarten, loved books, and always wanted to write one. I LOVED essay questions in school. I also learned the truth of the statement “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull.” I could write a copious amount on just about anything, often without really saying anything substantial, but the teachers’ eyes would apparently glaze over and they’d give me a good grade based on quantity. I didn’t actually produce anything of novel length until around 1978.

NJ:  Interesting and I definitely love that quote.  Thanks for sharing it. So, are you able to take constructive criticism of your written work?

Marcha:  I am now. I definitely learned not to get my feelings hurt when I was a technical writer at NASA. The engineers would figuratively bleed all over your work, which could be pretty annoying. However, at a certain point, I realized that their changes made it more accurate and therefore better. I learned to look at us as a team with their edits helping me produce a better product. I may not always agree with what someone says, but I always consider it.

NJ:  Name two books that you’ve written?

Marcha:  My most recent ones would be “The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51”

The Terra Debacle by Marcha Fox

and “Refractions of Frozen Time” 

Refractions by Marcha Fox

NJ:  Which one do you think is the best?

Marcha:  That depends on what constitutes “best.” “The Terra Debacle” is a side story to my series, so it doesn’t have the plot depth that “Refractions of Frozen Time” does since it was the concluding volume to my Star Trails Tetralogy. There’s a fair amount of humor in “The Terra Debacle,” which makes it a lighter read, plus a lot of research went into it, which took as long or longer than writing the book itself. “Refractions” required tying up the loose ends from the previous three books and providing a satisfying ending, so that was a major feat. “The Terra Debacle” is quirky sci-fi, “Refractions…” fairly heavy drama and hard sci-fi, so it’s not easy to compare them.

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?

Marcha:  My blog is Marcha2014. I post a writing tip each day, book reviews, author interviews, and occasionally other things that catch my attention one way or the other. For example, I did one a while back on spirit animals. I also have what I call an “astroblog” on my astrology site where I look at various events and so forth along with how the astrology fits. Most of it’s in the “you can’t make this stuff up” department.

An occasional typo might slip through since I often write them rather quickly and off the top of my head, not giving them the scrutiny I do fiction, so they might be a target-rich environment if you’re looking for things like that. I like to think the content is reasonably substantial.

NJ:  Interesting.  Now, which online resource or organization has helped you as an author the most?

Marcha:  Hahaha, loaded question! As an organization, no doubt RRBC/RWISA. It’s undoubtedly the most comprehensive and pervasive. None of the others come close. RRBC/RWISA has everything imaginable and is always expanding and adding new features and help. If anything, sometimes it’s mind-boggling, there’s so much there.

As far as online resources are concerned, and I don’t know if this would count, but I would have to say Hootsuite. Being able to post tweets as well as Instagram and Facebook posts in advance is a huge help.

NJ:  How have you been helped by the RRBC/RWISA orgs?

Marcha:  Getting honest reviews is always a plus and the majority of mine are from fellow RRBC members. I’ve also been able to connect with other authors, which has been great. Some of us have done beta swaps, interviewed each other on our blogs, and so forth. There’s definitely a comradery amongst members, especially when you’ve been onboard for a while.

NJ:  Knowing all the ways that RRBC & RWISA benefit you, Marcha, makes my heart extremely happy.  Thank you!

Since you’re sitting on the SHELF, you’re obviously a RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB member, so what do you really think of the club?

Marcha:  I think it’s amazing. As previously mentioned, it has done me more good as far as getting reviews and connecting with fellow authors than any other. Plus, there’s all the other benefits like radio interviews, writing conferences, blog tours, and so forth, just to name a few.

NJ:  Have you come across any other online entities like it?

Marcha:  Not even close. If they’re out there, I don’t know where. I’m also not shopping for one, since I’m more than happy with RRBC/RWISA. I can hardly keep up with everything going on here.  To do so would take all my time and I’d never get any writing done.

NJ:  Would you recommend RRBC/RWISA to your friends and family?

Marcha:  Definitely. I try to recruit folks whenever I can. Some are in the “starving author” category, which keeps some of them away. However, I’m somewhat in that spot myself, being retired, but I also believe you get what you pay for and I have no problem saying I’ve always gotten my money’s worth from RRBC/RWISA. I’ve spent plenty of money on promotions and advertising that turned out to be a complete waste; not the case with RRBC/RWISA.

NJ:  What’s your most favorite program or place here within RRBC?  (#PUSHTUESDAY, RAVE WAVES shows, Block Parties, Writers’ Conference & Book Expo, BOOKS OF THE MONTH discussions, “ON THE SHELF” interviews, etc.)

Marcha:  I love the block parties and the WC&BEs as well as the various blog tours. I really enjoy getting to know my fellow authors. I’ve discovered so many with whom I have something in common.

NJ:  Marcha, this shelf is getting hard on my hiney, so we’re going to wrap this interview up.  Any final words for our guests today?

Marcha:  It’s been a true honor to be here and I appreciate it, more than you know. This is about the third time that I was in a bit of a slump or discouraged about writing when, out of the blue, RRBC comes along with some honor or validation of my hard work. I don’t consider it your job to maintain or bolster my morale, but definitely, appreciate it when it works out that way. RRBC/RWISA rocks!

NJ:  Marcha, thank you so much for joining me here and thank you even more for all your kind words.  I’m sorry that in the beginning of our interview I ‘accidentally’ bumped your seat closer to the edge of the shelf, where you could have easily and ‘accidentally’ fallen.

To my guests, please pick up a copy of either of Marcha’s books.  Based on what she’s shared with us, I’m sure you’ll find them enjoyable reads.

Have you joined RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB yet?  Well, here’s your chance!  And, since Marcha was on the “SHELF” today, tell them she sent you.

Until next time, take care.  We’ll see you next month, right here on the “SHELF” with another INTERESTING GUEST!!

What It Really Means To Be an #RRBC KCT Int’l Literary Award Winner, Runner-Up or Finalist

In 2017, the KCT International Literary Award Writing Contest was born out of a need for the recognition of truly good and well-written books.

The KTC International Literary Award

After having read some of the worst written books that I’ve ever seen my entire life… being awarded by entities which I had previously held in high esteem for many years, I knew that it was time for RRBC to throw its hat in the ring.  The need was great for a contest where the winners (grand prize, runner-ups and finalists) would be truly deserving of award-winning accolades.

Here are the things that our judges look for in a KCT ILA read:

-Written works that have been properly edited and proofed;

-Great story-lines (we don’t want to fall asleep by page 6);

-Well-developed characters;

-Believability (perfect example: “A PERILOUS THIRST” is about a vampire, but while reading it, I thought he was just an average Joe who had walked into a bar. The author made me believe…)

-Story-lines that flow easily;

-All-in-all, we are searching for reads that, after having read Chapter one, compels us to continue reading to the very end. We don’t want to have to stop to jump over typos and misspelled words.  Nonnie writes in Nonnie-tongue, and I often share that “I write the way that I speak, and I speak very well,” so we are not opposed to you using your own language, but it MUST make sense!   We’re also not freaky about the rules of who follows who or what in the varying parts of speech (i.e. nouns, pronouns, adjectives, conjunctions, prepositions, etc).  I mean, c’mon, seriously? This is 2018.

Although no book is perfect, the member titles that you will find sporting a KCT ILA badge of honor, well, they come pretty close.

So, what does it really mean to have KCT Int’l Literary Award Winner displayed next to your book or a book that you might find listed in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs?

1 (1)

3

2

It means that the book is a good or even an amazing read that will keep you continually turning the pages in hurried anticipation of finding out what’s going to happen next.  Simply put, you won’t want to put these reads down, so when you see KCT ILA winning titles in our catalogs (RWISA or RRBC), be sure to snag your copies!

Here are the 2018 Winners:

2018 GRAND PRIZE WINNER – TREAT AWARD “GOLD!!!

“THE ACTRESS” by Michael Hicks Thompson

The Actress by Michael Hicks Thompson

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*1st Place Runner Ups – TREAT AWARD “SILVER

“PASSING THROUGH” by Jenny Sundstedt

“FLOWERS AND STONE” by Jan Sikes

“RUBY SLIPS AND POKER CHIPS” by Heather Kindt

“JAZZ BABY” by Beem Weeks

“DETACHED” by Wendy Weiss

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*Top Finalists – TREAT AWARD “BLUE

“SHADOW OF THE DRILL” by Rhani D’Chae

“HOME AT LAST” by Jan Sikes

“ELIZABETH’S WAR” by D. L. Finn

“DAVIDA” by Karen Ingalls

“THE LOST YEARS OF BILLY BATTLES” by Ronald Yates

“IN THE SHADOW OF LIES” by Mary Adler

“LODESTONE” by Wendy Scott

“THE ONE AWAKENED” by Yvette Calleiro

“SEVEN DAYS TO GOODBYE” by Sheri S. Levy

“FINDING BILLY BATTLES” by Ronald Yates

“UNBRIDLED” by Young

“STARTING OVER” by Sheri S. Levy

So, there are our winners for 2018!  Please be sure to check out these entertaining reads just as soon as you can.  I must say that 6 of the titles under the FINALIST category, should have been part of the 1st Place Runner-Up group, but unfortunately, we could only list the Top 5.  (I won’t say which titles…you’ll just have to read them all to see what I mean!)

These reads will get a full year of promotion beginning early 2019 and ‘KCT ILA’ will be proudly displayed in the catalogs, next to each of them.

Remember, you earn MEMBER REWARDS POINTS when you read KCT ILA winning titles!

If you’ve never entered your book into the KCT ILA, get ready for the 2019 competition.  You could be our next Grand Prize Winner, 1st Place Runner-Up or Finalist! Contest opens in early January.

 

 

#RRBC 3rd Annual WC&BE18 FACT OR FICTION Answer Key!

Welcome to FACT OR FICTION!  Which statements are TRUE and which one is FALSE?  Let me give you a little assist here.  Only ONE of each statement is FALSE!!!

WE HAVE A 4-WAY TIE! 

These members have been sent a series of questions.  The member who returns their answers in a timely fashion, with the most answers correct, will win the FACT OR FICTION game!  Tune in by 11:59 PM CT on Monday, 11/1/18 to see who the winner is!

Below you will find a list of members.  Listed under each member’s name, you will find 3 statements.  You must determine which statement is FALSE.

***

The correct answers are highlighted in bold/red.

The person with the most correct answers will win a nice prize but you must have AT LEAST 16 of the 33 correct!  This game is open to the general public.

***

1. ALEX BAILEY
a.I have a small organic farm to feed the needy
b. I am a multi-genre author under different pen names
c. All 3 of my children graduated from my alma-mater, University of MD

2. AMIE O’BRIEN
a. My favorite hobby is snorkeling
b. As a child, I dreamed of living in California
c. The most bizarre food I ever ate was crocodile soup

3. BEEM WEEKS
a. I spent time as a lead singer in a heavy metal band
b. I’m a former competitive rider in horse shows
c. As a child, I appeared in a series of television commercials for a local (Michigan) grocery store

4. D. L. FINN
a. I’ve seen a UFO
b. I refuse to eat mushrooms
c. I’m afraid to touch a live dolphin

5. ERIC BORGERSON
a. I have trekked in Nepal
b. I love cultivating trees from seed
c. I considered a career as a chef

6. ERIC HALPENNY
a. I learned to ride a bike at age 19
b. I have never had a cavity
c. I have never broken a bone

7. FLOSSIE BENTON ROGERS
a. I majored in history in college
b. I played drums in a garage band
c. I love broccoli and brussel sprouts

8. FRANK KELSO
a. I taught monkeys to fly airplanes
b. I met my wife on a video dating service
c. I climbed Mt. Shasta last year

9. GRACIE BRADFORD
a. I have self-published four books about relationships
b. The 2018 academy-award winning movie, LADY BIRD, was based upon the beagle character, LADY BIRD from the book “JUNE THE PRUNE AND LADY BIRD”
c. I have over 300 collectible frogs securely displayed in my garage, although I am afraid of live frogs

10. GWEN PLANO
a. My first book was focused on finding my soul mate
b. My second book was inspired by a dream
c. I recently walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and visited two sons living in the area

11. HARRIET HODGSON
a. I took yodeling lessons in high school and still love doing it
b. When I was a CNN hookup from Chicago, there was a small fire in the studio
c. I have appeared on more than 185 radio talk shows

12. JOHN HOWELL
a. I don’t know how to swim
b. I love to cook
c. Wyoming is the only state in the US that I have not visited

13. JOY GERKEN
a. I do not have great grandchildren
b. My blood cells take 60 seconds to travel around my body
c. I am a traditionally published author

14. JOY NWOSU LO-BAMIJOKO
a. My first book: Cinema E Africa Nera, was published in Rome in 1968
b. My bio titled: Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko – The Saga of a Nigerian Female Ethnomusicologist by Godwin Sadoh, was published in 2012
c. In 2010, I got a movie deal for my book, “MIRROR OF OUR LIVES: VOICES OF FOUR IGBO WOMEN”

15. JOYCE SHAUGHNESSY
a. I love to play blackjack and win money in Vegas
b. I have been married 3 times
c. I like to explore in caves

16. KARL MORGAN
a. I worked for 5 companies without changing jobs or the factory where I was located
b. As an author, I plan and outline my plots and research all historical facts
c. I have been to 6 of the 7 continents

17. KAREN INGALLS
a. I caught a 6-lb bass just off our dock
b. I was born at the hospital my grandparent’s owned
c. My twin sister was born 2 minutes after me

18. LARRY HYATT
a. As a child, I always wanted to be a disc jockey
b. When I worked for the Houma Regional Arts Council, I was put in charge of the local Big Read
c. I started singing opera at age twelve

19. LARRY LANDGRAF
a. I live along a piranha and alligator-infested river in Texas
b. I write award-winning children’s books inspired by my eight grandchildren
c. I spent the night of Hurricane Harvey outside in 140 mph winds

20. MARCHA FOX
a. I’m a professional astrologer with over 240,000 answer views on Quora.com
b. I have a Master’s Degree in physics
c. I’ve lived in New York, Cali, Utah and Texas

21. MARY ADLER
a. The German shepherd in my Oliver Wright books is named after my pet hamster
b. Emma in my Oliver books is the spitting image of my dog Andy
c. I played on the painter’s scaffolding on the Richmond-San Rafael bridge

22. MICHELLE ABBOTT
a. I used to play guitar in a band
b. I got married at age 17
c. I worked as a house painter and decorator

23. NICHOLAS ROSSIS
a. I have accidentally taken a photo of what just might be a ghost, during a photo shoot in Edinburgh
b. I am half-English, born in Greece but grew up in the UK
c. I served two years in the Hellenic Navy. One of my fellow sailors turned out to be a notorious serial killer

24. NONNIE JULES
a. My car is sometimes messy
b. I took a year off from college to hitchhike around the world
c. I love the smell of gasoline and mothballs

25. PATRICIA GUTHRIE
a. I sang opera in Germany and Switzerland
b. I love to exercise
c. I hate to exercise

26. RHANI D’CHAE
a. I have one biological child
b. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a Queen. Instead, I’m an Empress
c. I love clothes with bright colors and wear them often

27. RON YATES
a. I was nominated by the Chicago Tribune three times for a Pulitzer Prize for my work as a foreign correspondent;
b. In order to write Book One in my trilogy which is set in my home state of Kansas, I traveled the 60 miles between the Cimarron and Arkansas Rivers known as the “jornada del muerte” (the journey of death) by horseback, so I could accurately describe the hardships that Billy Battles and his men experienced;
c. The locations in Asia and Mexico that I describe in Books Two and Three of the Finding Billy Battles Trilogy, are all places where I lived and worked

28. SHIRLEY HARRIS-SLAUGHTER
a. I was invited to speak at my own book event after someone spotted my book online
b. I belonged to a girls singing group that played around the city
c. I had a photo op with President Barack Obama

29. SUSANNE LEIST
a. My fave chicken soup recipe includes chicken necks and feet
b. My fave tv show is MURDER SHE WROTE
c. I love to read historical fiction books

30. SUZANNE BURKE
a. I spent many years living in the U.S.A
b. I have been married twice
c. I have swum with Dolphins

31. WENDY SCOTT
I’m a thrill-seeker who has:
a. Bungy jumped
b. Paraglided
c. Parachuted

32. VASHTI Q
a. I was married in Paris, France
b. I went snorkeling in subzero temperature water in Alaska
c. I’ve never eaten pork

33. YVETTE CALLEIRO
a. I attended 7 different schools in 13 years
b. My father was in the Army, and I have lived in four different countries
c. I am highly allergic to shellfish

34.  Jan Sikes
a. I was born in the New Mexico desert
b. I have lived in 5 different states
c. I am an expert swimmer

***

The winner of the SCAVENGER HUNT Game will be posted shortly!

Karen Ingalls in “WHO’S ON THE SHELF” w/@Nonnie Jules – #RRBC #RWISA @KIngallsAuthor

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 bookshelf. 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, RRBC member and September’s “SPOTLIGHT” Author, KAREN INGALLS! We have been celebrating her all month long and today, she gets to sit on the shelf with me!

IMG_1441

NJ:  Hi, Karen! Before we get started, how do you like the design and feel of my new shelf?  I redesigned it last year for more comfortability so that that our guests would feel more at home…that’s if they’re coming from a nice and neat one, otherwise my set up won’t matter to them.  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?

Karen:  The shelf is big and roomy so there should be no accidents. I am comfy in this overstuffed chair with an ottoman to rest my weary feet. I love the relaxing ambience, floral arrangement on the table, and the big window looking out at nature in all her beauty. Thank you for the cold iced tea with lots of ice…perfect!

NJ: {Wondering what shelf Karen is on}  Uh, Karen, we don’t serve tea on this shelf, only beer – and that floral arrangement is Lucky’s stuffed bear that he chews and then flings around so that it lands all over the place.  And, nice view?  Nature?  Our view is the back of Miller’s dirty parking lot, but hey, if you gotta go their in your mind to feel safe up here, go for it!  Now, let’s start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name?

Karen:  Yes, Karen Ingalls is my name by marriage; Karen Clark by birth. My name is a story in itself…someday I will write a short story about that.

NJ:  {Thank goodness it will be short.  I can tell already she has a lot to say today.  Geeez, I haven’t even had my morning cup-o-joe yet}

Blank stare boy

(Courtesy of TENOR.com)

Karen, tell us where you were born?  Do you still live there now?  If not, what city and state are you calling home these days?

Karen:  I was born in San Diego, California. FYI from the Scavenger Hunt, I was born in the very hospital that my great aunt Helen built, owned, and ran. Lived in San Diego/Los Angeles areas for 28 years; moved to Minnesota to get out of the insanity and heavy drug culture of California; and after 40 years there, I retired in Tavares, Florida with lots of sunshine and no snow.

NJ:  Interesting.  So, are you married or single?

Karen:  I am very happily married. It is my second marriage and he’s my soul-mate.

NJ:

Blank stare boy

Do you lovebirds have any kids, Karen?  If so, what kind?

Karen:  I have three sons, who are all married and have children of their own. Have you heard the saying, “There is a special place in heaven for the mothers of three sons?”

NJ:  No, Karen, I can’t say that I have, but tell us, if you’re not there already, when you’re old and cranky, which one of those sons will keep you at home to care for you themselves, and which one will immediately throw you into a nursing home and only visit you at Christmas?

Karen:  Oh, my goodness!! That is quite a question. I truly believe that any three of them would keep me at home despite my crankiness (unless I had special health needs). I think my middle son might be the first to volunteer.

NJ:  Well, aren’t you lucky. I think even our dogs are planning my trip to “A PLACE FOR MOM” these days.  Speaking of dogs, do you guys have any pets?  If so, what kind?

Karen:  No pets. I have had every pet imaginable in my life, but cats are my favorite. I even had a white lab rat for a pet one time. He was really sweet.

NJ:  A lab rat?  You know, saying rat around me is just like saying cat.  They have traps for those things, don’t they?  Uuugh!  My skin crawls just thinking of them…both of them!  Let’s move away from your choice of pets.  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?

Karen:  My favorite breakfast is Eggs Benedict, I love BLT’s for lunch, and Enchiladas and Tacos are a favorite dinner, but my favorite food of all time is: POPCORN!

NJ:  Really???  Popcorn as a favorite food?  I’ve never heard that one before.  How interesting!  So, what’s your favorite color?

Karen:  Teal

NJ:  Teal’s good.  Your favorite sport?

Karen:  Golf to watch and play.

NJ:  You don’t even want to get me started on golf.  It is the most confusing game ever in my world, and for sure, I’d be the person standing there screaming every time someone got ready to hit a ball;  just so they’d kick me out, because I’m sure I wouldn’t have gone there willingly.  I have an avid golf person in my world…golf instructor, to be exact.  But, no thank you, it’s not my game.  Karen, what’s your favorite TV Show?

Karen:  Jeopardy and Amazing Race are tied.

NJ:  OK.  Since you mentioned Jeopardy?  Did Vanna have some work done?  Her and what’s his name…the Pat guy.  I’m curious to know so maybe we can discuss that after the show.  Karen, who is your favorite Actress/Actor?

Karen:  I have so many it is hard to just give one. I really do not know current stars, so I will date myself and name my four all-time favorites: Jennifer Jones, Susan Hayward, Gregory Peck and Jimmy Stewart are in the top ten. Can you tell I love old movies?

NJ:  Nope, can’t tell at all, Karen. {Sigh}

Dogs watching clock

(Courtesy of 1zoom.me}

Do you like to exercise to stay fit OR do you not mind just letting it all go?

Karen:  I do like to exercise, but I am out of the routine right now. Golf is my only form of exercise now, but I do need to get back into going to the gym and doing Yoga.

NJ:  OK.  Yoga’s good.  Karen, 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).

Karen:  People being rude or just plain mean to others.

NJ:  {Well, I guess you’re no fan of hers, then}.

Judge Jugy gif

(Giphy)

So, are you neat or messy?

Karen:  I am definitely neat. Clutter drives me crazy.

NJ:  {Suddenly sees Karen in a new light!}

Shocked dogs

(Heavenlydogs.net & e.ritt photography)

Karen, which is your favorite…Facebook or Twitter?

Karen:  Twitter

NJ:  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?

Karen:  She will remain anonymous, but she is also an ovarian cancer survivor who I have never met in person. We are in close communication and deeply share with one another.

NJ:  It’s always good to have someone, especially one who is traveling a similar journey.  Karen, who do you favor most:  Nonnie Jules or WonderWoman? It’s OK to be honest here with no fear that the shelf might begin to shake a bit and you could accidentally fall.

Karen:  I favor Nonnie Jules because that is the name you go by as an author and founder of RRBC.  I am assuming (such a dangerous word) that it is your given name. Wonder Woman does have super powers, but I believe you have super gifts of writing, organization, creativity, and kindness which are more important.

NJ:  Thank you, Karen.  Very kind words that are much appreciated.  Well, we all know that WonderWoman 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, as well.

Karen:  Nonnie makes the world a better place because she is real…demands honesty, integrity, professionalism, cooperativeness, and friendliness to be a member of RRBC. She uses a lasso through confronting anyone who does not abide by these traits.

NJ:  Karen, you have been watching very closely and paying attention!  I love it!  If everyone viewed it that way, it’d be so much easier for us all to get along.  Thank you for your very clear, and most accurate assessment of me.  Now, please name two favorite INDIE books that you’ve read.

Karen:  This is difficult because I have read many great books by Indie authors. The first ones that came to mind were Milele Safari and Jazz Baby.

NJ:  I’m so glad you stuck to only two. Now, ONE good INDIE book you’ve read that was so good you wished the entire world would read it.

Karen:  Vanished

NJ:  Hmmm, I wished we knew who the author of VANISHED was so that we could check out the book.  We do know who authored your other two favorites above (the late Jan Hawke and Beem Weeks). But, tell us what was so great about that book?

It was very well-written and the story-line is a powerful one. It is a subject that everyone should not only know about, but help find answers to this horrible fact of our society as well as other countries.

NJ:  OK, good to know.  After you read books, do you post reviews, Karen?

Karen:  Absolutely.

NJ:  What do you think readers should base their reviews on?

Karen:  They must be honest. I believe how well the book has been written and edited is integral to the review. Even if the subject matter or genre is not the reader’s favorite, one must ask “Did it hold my attention and was it well-written?”

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?

Karen:  It is hard to write a review about a book that I did not care for by an author-friend. I just recently had to write one about a short story by one of my favorite authors. I gave my honest reasons why and I hope he read it with an open mind.

NJ:  Read any poorly written books lately?

Karen:  Yes, the one I described above and another one I just finished.

NJ:  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.

Karen:  No, I have not ever done that.

NJ:  Good for you.  Karen, do you know that we have had members to quit the club because of reviews that I’ve given of their books?  Yep.  I sent the reviews to them personally, but you know, when someone is constantly being lied to….“You’re good, you’re great, etc. etc. etc.,” you start to buy into that nonsense.  Then, when the truth comes along, sometimes it hurts.  (Baby, I’m Sorry – Not Sorry) 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 have they changed the field for us?

Karen:  Ron Yates has written powerful blogs, articles, and books which I believe challenges us to do due diligence when we create a story. Do the research, have an interesting and absorbing story, and an excellent editor.

Suzanne Burke has brought exciting, interesting, and heart-wrenching stories. She is creative, willing to take risks writing about “uncomfortable” subjects, and at the same time write scary, skin-tingling murder stories. I admire how far she has come and her confidence in providing such powerful stories.

NJ:  Both, great choices.  Karen, are you an author?  Are you a good one?  C’mon, we love honesty here.

Karen:  Yes, I am an author. I believe I am a good one though it took most of my life for me to accept that I had a talent for writing. I have had only one bad review and it was due to the set up for the Kindle version – was a mess! I offered the reader an updated and professional version, but it was declined. I do wish he/she would reconsider because I respect the author and would like honest feedback.

NJ:  How long have you been writing?

Karen:  Since I was a preteen.

NJ:  Are you able to take constructive criticism of your written work?

Karen:  Yes. How else can I improve and learn?

NJ:  Name two books that you’ve written?

Karen:  Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens

davida

Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir  

Outshine by Karen Ingalls

NJ:  Which one do you think is the best?

Karen:  Davida

NJ:  I think many of us feel that the books following our first one, are better.  That’s because we’ve learned from the mistakes of the first one, right?  Karen, 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?

Karen:  I have two blogs, one for avid readers and authors, kareningalls.blogspot.com and the other one is about health/wellness, spirituality, and relationships at outshineovariancancer.blogspot.com. I believe they both are well written. I would love your expert critique.

NJ:  I’ll have to drop by them both just for that reason, Karen.  I’ll send my feedback.  Which online resource or organization has helped you as an author the most?

Karen:  RRBC in all honesty

NJ:  How were you helped by them?

Karen:  Support, encouragement, reviews, and challenging me to write short stories to be entered into the anthology book.

NJ:  Since you’re sitting on the SHELF, you’re obviously a RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB member, so what do you think of the club?

Karen:  I love it. I am grateful to The Late, Kathryn Chastain Treat who invited me.

NJ:  Our dear Kathryn brought a lot of folks into the club because she believed in it and loved it, as well.  Have you come across any other online entities like it?

Karen:  There are many book clubs, but none even close to RRBC.

NJ:  Would you recommend it to your friends and family?

Karen:  I would and I do.

NJ:  What’s your most favorite program or place here within RRBC?  (#PUSHTUESDAY, RAVE WAVES shows, Block Parties, Writers’ Conference & Book Expo, BOOKS OF THE MONTH discussions, “ON THE SHELF” interviews, etc.)

Karen:  Book of the Month discussions and On the Shelf. Both of these provide opportunities to get to know authors at a deeper and more personal level. I had to put them together. I could not choose one over the other.

NJ:  This shelf is getting hard on my hiney, so we’re going to wrap this interview up.  Any final words for our guests today?

Karen:  I just want to say that it has been fun, and at times challenging, to answer the questions. I wish this was in person. I love to look into people’s eyes, hear their voice, and watch their body language. However, I have enjoyed myself and I hope everyone has learned a little bit more about me. Many thanks to you, Nonnie for taking the time out of your busy schedule to interview me.

NJ:  Karen, thank you so much for joining me here.  It’s truly been my pleasure!  And, if I haven’t thanked you properly for my prayer square, I LOVE IT!  Gwen Plano sent me a Prayer Shawl that I use every single day!  It sits in my office downstairs, on the back of my chair, and my prayer square is kept in my purse, so I’m covered all over the place.  Thanks so much, again!

To my guests, please pick up a copy of either of Karen’s books.  You’ll find them enjoyable reads.

Have you joined RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB yet?  Well, here’s your chance!  And, since Karen was on the “SHELF” today, tell them she sent you.

Until next time, take care.  We’ll see you next month, right here on the “SHELF” with another INTERESTING GUEST!!

Joyce Shaughnessy in “WHO’S ON THE SHELF” w/@Nonnie Jules – #RRBC @AuthorJoyceS

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 bookshelf. 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, RRBC member and July’s “SPOTLIGHT” Author, JOYCE SHAUGHNESSY! We have been celebrating her all month long and today, she gets to sit on the shelf with me!

image

NJ:  Before we get started, how do you like the design and feel of my new shelf, Joyce?  We’ve made it more comfortable in 2018, 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 ya’ comfy?

Joyce:  {Silence}

NJ:

Really dog

Well…this is going to be a fun interview.

Uh, Joyce….how about we try another question then.  Let’s start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name?

Joyce:  Birth name

NJ:  Blushing dog

Yayyyyy!  She speaks!

OK, now we’re getting somewhere!  Joyce, now how about sharing with us where you were born?  Do you still live there now?  If not, what city and state are you calling home these days?  Married or single?

Joyce:  I was born in Brownwood, Texas. I live in Midland, Texas with my wonderful husband. We’ve lived here for twenty-six years.

NJ:  Any kids?  What kind?

Joyce:  I have one daughter, and Dennis has one daughter.

NJ:  I assume Dennis is the wonderful husband who has lived with you for twenty-six years in Midland?  OK, moving on from that…if you’re not there already, when you’re old and cranky, which one will keep you at home to care for you themselves, and which one will immediately throw you into a nursing home and only visit you at Christmas?  Your daughter or your step-daughter?

Joyce:  I think my daughter, Heather, will throw me in the nearest nursing home she can find. She’s pretty busy being a lawyer, and she might not even visit me at Christmas. Bridget might let me live with them- actually it would be her husband who might. I must not be a very good Mother – at least not a very sociable one.

NJ: 

English bulldog funny face

You don’t say.

Joyce, do you have any pets?  If so, what kind?

Joyce:  I have a very neurotic black Cocker Spaniel.

NJ:  Neurotic, huh?  Hmmmm……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?

Joyce:  I love, love cookies. But if forced to, I will eat other food.

NJ:  What’s your favorite color:

Joyce:  Blue

NJ:  Really?  I would have taken you for an (Oreo cookie) brown kind of girl.  Let’s see if I can get it right with this next one.  What’s your favorite sport?

Joyce:  None. I don’t like sports. I watch Notre Dame football with my husband, but I don’t like it. I just pretend I do.

NJ:  Favorite TV Show?

Joyce:  Movies on the Hallmark Channel. I don’t have to think when I watch them and they make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

NJ:  Favorite Actress/Actor:

Joyce:  Tom Hanks

NJ:  Do you like to exercise to stay fit OR do you not mind just letting it all go?

Joyce:  I have been forced to exercise in the water because of a bad back problem. All of the people are over sixty.

NJ:  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).

Joyce:  When people say “where it’s at” or “where we’re going to.” We have many people who say that here in West Texas, and it does make me want to run them over with my car. I’ve managed to resist so far.

NJ:  Uh, so what’s wrong with “where it’s at?”

disgusted-dog

Joyce, are you neat or messy?

Joyce:  Neat. Very neat. Drives my husband crazy. Maybe that’s why my daughter won’t care for me in my old age.

NJ:  I’ve known children to chunk their parents into elderly care facilities but none of the reasons given were because they were too neat.  I’d wager that she has another reason.  So, which is your vice….Facebook or Twitter?

Joyce:  Twitter definitely. I hate Facebook.

NJ:  Who do you favor most:  Nonnie Jules or WonderWoman? Be honest

Joyce:  Oh, I thought Nonnie Jules was Wonder Woman.

NJ:  Good answer!  Joyce, we all know that WonderWoman 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.

Joyce:  Well, since I always thought they were the same person, I’ll have to think about that one. Nonnie makes the writing world a better place, so I think the answer has to be Nonnie.

NJ:  You’re on fire now, Joyce!   After you read books, do you post reviews?

Joyce:  Almost always.

NJ:  What do you think readers should base their reviews on?

Joyce:  How well the book was written.

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?

Joyce:  I try to be honest in my reviews but not rude. There’s a big difference.

NJ:  Read any poorly written books lately?

Joyce:  Oh, yes.

NJ:   How many poorly written books have you read that you gave a high mark to in your review, when you know it was horrible?  Be honest, I won’t ask you to name the books here in public.

Joyce:  None. I will give it better than it deserves, but if I can’t give it at least 3 stars, I won’t write the review. Luckily, it doesn’t happen very often.

NJ:  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 have they changed the field for us?

Joyce:  You have, Nonnie. You’ve created something here that changes things for a lot of Indie writers.

I can’t think of the other.

NJ:  Well, that was kind of you to say, Joyce.  Thank you 🙂 Are you an author?  Are you a good one?  C’mon, we love honesty here.

Joyce:  I think I’m pretty good, but definitely not the best. At least I don’t say or write “where it’s going to.”

NJ:  How about “Where is that box going to?”  LOL!  Joyce, how long have you been writing?

Joyce:  About ten years professionally. I’ve been writing for years.

NJ:  Are you able to take constructive criticism of your written work?

Joyce:  Yes, I can.

NJ:  Name two books that you’ve written?

“A HEALING PLACE”

A Healing Place by Joyce Shaughnessy

“THE UNSURRENDERED”

NJ:  Which one do you think is the best?

Joyce:  A Healing Place has always been my favorite, but I don’t know which is the best.

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?

Joyce:  I have a blog. You won’t laugh out loud or gasp with astonishment at my brilliance. It may not be up to your standards. It is:  http://joyceshaughnessy.blogspot.com

NJ:  Which online resource or organization has helped you as an author the most?

Joyce:  You’ve definitely helped me with promotion and simply enjoying being an author by visiting with other authors.

NJ:  Thanks, Joyce.  How exactly have we helped you?

Joyce:  RRBC made me feel welcome. I’ve learned by reading other members’ books. Also promotions – things like this interview.

NJ:  Well, making our members feel welcome and as if they are part of a huge extended family, is our first goal.  Helping you to promote and putting your name out there via our support, is also extremely important to the members of this club.  Joyce, since you’re sitting on the SHELF, you’re obviously a RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB member, so what do you think of the club?

Joyce:  I think it is a great, great, great club!

NJ:  WOW! 3 ‘greats!’ That’s awesome!  Have you come across any other online entities like RRBC, Joyce?

Joyce:  No. I’ve certainly never been made to feel as welcome as RRBC does.

NJ:  Would you recommend it to your friends and family?

Joyce:  Definitely.

NJ:  What’s your most favorite program or place here within RRBC?  (#PUSHTUESDAY, RAVE WAVES shows, Block Parties, Writers’ Conference & Book Expo, BOOKS OF THE MONTH discussions, “ON THE SHELF” interviews, etc.)

Joyce:  BOOKS OF THE MONTH

NJ:  This shelf is getting hard on my hiney, so we’re going to wrap this interview up.  Any final words for our guests today?

Joyce:  Thank you for listening to me.

NJ: 

Dog with ear muffs

I’m sorry, Joyce, I can’t hear you.  LOL!

To my guests, please pick up a copy of either of Joyce’s books.

Have you joined RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB yet?  Well, here’s your chance!  And, since Joyce was on the “SHELF” today, tell them she sent you.

Until next time, take care.  We’ll see you next month, right here on the “SHELF” with another INTERESTING GUEST!!

Jan Sikes in “WHO’S ON THE SHELF” w/@Nonnie Jules – #RRBC @Rijanjks

Jan_Sikes_Signing_Books

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 bookshelf.  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, RRBC & RWISA member, ASPIRE TO INSPIRE Co-Host and June’s “SPOTLIGHT” Author, JAN SIKES We have been celebrating her all month long and today, 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?  Back in 2017 I tried to make it more comfortable, so I’m curious to know how it’s holding up in 2018.  I also wanted the lay-out to be a bit safer….you know, we’ve had a few accidents up here on this shelf.  Between you and me, I think the majority of those falls were because the guests were a tad-bit clumsy, but, nevertheless, I’d like everyone to know that you fall here at your own risk.  I was laughing so hard at my girlfriend’s the other day that I almost fell off her sofa, so I’m going to share with you what she shared with me and the way she shared it:  “Fall if you wanna.  We ain’t got no insurance over here!”  I’m still laughing at that!  So, are you comfy?

Jan:  Yep, I’m feeling right at home, Nonnie. Thanks for helping me up. You know at my age, climbing isn’t easy.

NJ:  Oh, I’m sorry, Jan.  You mean they didn’t offer you my medi-Lift to get up here?  Poor things.  They think I’m such a bear all the time that they even made this 97 year old grandmother walk up the stairs to see me.  They said they didn’t think I wanted anyone else using my Lift, because then I’d feel like I was using public transportation.  But, again, Jan, my apologies.  So, since we’re a bit delayed with this interview, let’s start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name?

Jan:  My birth name is Janice Kay Smith, but when I was eighteen, I shortened it to Jan and Sikes is my married name.

3 Shocked dogs

NJ:  Well, Okie Dokie, Ms. Janice Kay Smith.  You people will never learn.  Y’all give away waaaaaaaayyyyyyy too much information in these interviews and you know the internet is nothing but a cesspool of stalkers…AND crazy folks.  But, I keep warning and y’all keep ignoring so let’s move on.  Tell us where you were born? Do you still live there now? If not, what city and state are you calling home these days?

Jan:  I was born in Hobbs, New Mexico.  I left home when I turned eighteen and never looked back and at the moment, I live in Plano, Texas!

NJ:  At the moment?  Janice Kay, that sounds as if there might be a moving van in your future.  Hmmm.  OK.  Make sure you let us know when you’re moving.  Oh, and don’t forget the address and zip code and phone number, too.

Dog researching on the computer

(Psycho internet troll dog tracking you down cuz you made it easy for him)

So, Janice Kay, married or single?

Jan:  Widowed

NJ:  I’m so sorry to hear that.  Any kids?  What kind?

Jan:  Two beautiful, smart and kind-hearted daughters.

NJ:  Don’t you just love those kind?  I have two of those myself.  So, Janice Kay, if you’re not there already, when you’re old and cranky, which one will keep you at home to care for you themselves, and which one will immediately throw you into a nursing home and only visit you at Christmas?

Jan:  That’s a tough one. I can’t see either of my girls throwing me in a nursing home, but if they did, you could rest assured it would be the nicest one they could find. No, I think they’d probably work out a share system and I’d be at each house for periods of time.

NJ:  As much as I love my babies, I feel a nursing home, a remote control and some books in my future.  I have to tell the truth.  Any pets?

Jan:  I live in an apartment, so “No.”  But, I have had dogs, cats and fish in the past.

NJ:  Janice Kay (I just love that name!), 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?

Jan:  That’s a tough one. Food is low on my priority list, but there is one food that I’ve only had three times in my life and my mouth still waters when I think about it – homemade Baklava. Yummy!

NJ:  Hmmm, never heard of Baklava, but I had a feeling that you would mention this, so I had my cook to whip you up a little.  Hope you like it.  For those of you who are ignorant to this food that keeps Jan’s mouth watering, this is what it is:  a dessert originating in the Middle East made of phyllo pastry filled with chopped nuts and soaked in honey.

Baklava

They had me when they said “pastry.”  Nonnie = pastry-lover.  So, Janice Kay, what’s your favorite color?

Jan:  Any shade of blue

NJ:  OK.  How about your favorite sport…

Jan:  I love watching my grandsons play soccer and baseball, but I don’t watch any sports on TV.

NJ:  I wasn’t a sports fan at all until my daughter began playing volleyball.  Now, that sport dominates our world.  Love it (but only to watch her play it!).  So, do you have a favorite TV show?

Jan:  Right now, I’d say hands-down, “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Wowzer!

NJ:  OK, never heard of that, either.  Who’s your favorite Actress/Actor?

Jan:  I’ve always loved Meryl Streep. If I ever get my story made into a movie, and she’s still alive, she could play my part. Male actors – That’s a hard one. I’ve always loved the bad boys. I think Sam Elliott would win. I loved him in Roadhouse.

NJ:  Meryl Streep in “Bridges Over Madison County,” was it for me.  And that soundtrack?  I listen to it even now, a few times a week while I’m working.

Janice Kay, do you like to exercise to stay fit OR do you not mind just letting it all go?

Jan:  My favorite form of exercise is walking. I also love exercise classes because they push me. But, I do struggle with consistent exercise. It’s hit and miss.

NJ:  I love to exercise!  It really does make you feel so good.  So, Janice Kay, what’s the 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).

Jan:  As an apartment dweller, my biggest pet peeve in life is people who don’t pick up their dogs’ poop. That is disgusting!

NJ:  Thanks for the heads up, Janice Kay.  I was about to have lunch, but, that’s OK.  It can wait a few hours now (thanks to your visual).  So, are you neat or messy?

Jan:  Mostly neat. I like keeping my workspace organized, but around magazine deadlines, it can get pretty messy. I think I need a cork board.

NJ:  OK, that’s understandable.  I may have a bit of dirt in my car every now and again.  But, that’s my car…never my home!  So, Facebook or Twitter?

Jan:  Facebook for personal fun stuff and keeping up with friends and family. Twitter for business.

NJ:  You know, I’m amazed at the number of folks who feel the same way you do about these two mediums.  I don’t use Facebook much, so all of my online time is definitely work related but, if I did spend personal time online, I would separate them the very same way.

Janice Kay, 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?

Jan:  That’s a hard question to answer because there are several, but I’d say Wendy Scott is at the top of that list.

NJ:  Yes, that Wendy Scott is amazing, isn’t she?  If I could only get her to do this one thing that I want her to do.  Janice Kay, do you know any hypnotists?  Maybe I can get her that way.  But, we’ll come back to Wendy later…off air.  So tell us, who do you favor most:  Nonnie Jules or WonderWoman? Be honest

Jan:  WonderWoman for fantasy, Nonnie Jules for reality.

NJ:  Good answer.  We all know that WonderWoman 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?

Jan:  Nonnie, of course, because she’s real. Nonnie is making a difference in author’s lives around the world.

NJ:  Name two favorite INDIE books that you’ve read…

Jan:  Oh! That’s an easy one to answer. “Shadow of the Drill” by Rhani D’Chae and “Jazz Baby” by Beem Weeks.

NJ:  Good choices, Janice Kay!  So, how about sharing ONE good INDIE book you’ve read that was so good you wished the entire world would read it…

Jan:  Empty Chairs by Stacey Danson

NJ:  What was so great about it?

Jan:  This book is extremely well-written. It’s gritty and honest exposing child abuse horrors most of us can’t imagine. The fact that this book is a true story is its strongest and most powerful aspect. I have so much admiration for Sooz (Stacey) for laying it all out in such a way that it can’t help but bring awareness to a world-wide epidemic. If everyone would read this book, perhaps there would be more proactive people combatting child abuse, while also finding ways to help children living on the streets.

NJ:  Janice Kay, after you read books, do you post reviews?

Jan:  Yes

NJ:  What do you think readers should base their reviews on?

Jan:  To me, a review is simply my opinion of the book. I think it needs to express what I thought about the author’s writing ability, grammar, punctuation, etc, the plot, but especially for me, most of all the characters. I am a character driven writer and reader.

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?

Jan:  No. I believe it is my duty to be honest with my reviews.

NJ:  Read any poorly written books lately?

Jan:  Yes. One.

NJ:  (Well, Janice Kay, I would have hoped that you wouldn’t have mentioned my book publicly.  I’m working on correcting it, you know!)

Angry dog

(Photo by AnimalWised)

Moving right along from the ugly part of the interview… Janice Kay, how many poorly written books have you read that you gave a high mark to in your review, when you knew they were horrible?  Be honest, I won’t ask you to name the books here in public.

Jan:  Zero. I won’t give anything above two or three stars for a poorly written book. To be honest, I rarely read a poorly written book because I don’t have time for such nonsense. Most of the time, I just put it aside and forget about it.

NJ:  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 have they changed the field for us?

Jan:  Nonnie Jules and Nicholas Rossis.  Nonnie has changed the playing field by challenging Indie Writers to grow and be better and providing a platform for that growth to happen. The RRBC Writers’ Conference and Book Expo is a good example. Nicholas provided us a wonderful tool to help authors bring the reader inside their character’s emotions with his “Emotional Beats” book. It is one of the best reference books I own, and I use it often.

NJ:  Why thank you, Jan!  Very kind of you to say.  Nicholas and I are sometimes joined at the hip in projects and lately, in these interviews, you guys have been linking us more and more.  I now think we’re starting to look alike and you should hear my Greek accent – and his is turning a bit more Southern by the day! LOL!  So, Janice Kay, are you an author?

Jan:  Yes, I am an author. It took a couple of years before I was comfortable saying those words.

NJ:  Well, good for you!  Are you a good author?  C’mon, we love honesty here.

Jan:  I am a good author who is still learning the craft. I think my willingness to learn and grow helps make me a good author. I’m always striving for better.

NJ:  Janice Kay, you know, there could not have been a better response to that question.  And, you are so right!  That is what makes us good authors:  the willingness to continually learn the craft so that we are continually improving and also, the ability to listen to the critiques of those who are clearly more skilled than we are in certain areas.  Good response.  I loved it!  How long have you been writing, by the way?

Jan:  Really, since I can remember. The first thing I can remember writing was a gospel song. But, I wrote my first book in 2012.

NJ:  Are you able to take constructive criticism of your written work?

Jan:  Yes. I welcome it. I won’t accept personal attacks or destructive comments, but I am wide open to constructive criticism.

NJ:  Name two books that you’ve written?

Jan:

FLOWERS AND STONE

Flowers and Stone by Jan Sikes

THE CONVICT AND THE ROSE

The Convict and the Rose by Jan Sikes

NJ:  Which one do you think is the best?

Jan:  That question is impossible for me to answer. They are both such vastly different books. I recently pulled Flowers and Stone down, revised and re-edited it so I know it is much better than it was when I originally published it. On the other hand, The Convict and the Rose has all Five-Star reviews, so many thought it was good.

NJ:  Yeah, I don’t put that much stock into reviews.  But, Janice Kay, 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?

Jan:  I have both a blog site and a website. I think you would thoroughly enjoy my blog, Nonnie. I strive to keep it clean and well-written, whether it’s a book review or a short story.

NJ:  I must stop by there today!  Which online resource or organization has helped you as an author the most?

Jan:  The RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB

NJ:  You know, Janice Kay…I hear that a lot.  It must be true!  How have you been helped by the club?

Jan:  I’ve been embraced, encouraged and uplifted by my peers and I had not found that anywhere else I had looked. I’ve had one of my books featured as a Book of the Month. I’ve been on a RAVE WAVES radio show talking about one of my books. I’ve enjoyed many Blog Tours and other RRBC events.  Many members have read and reviewed my books. It was due to one member’s book review that I decided to re-write Flowers and Stone. The RRBC Writers’ Conferences have helped grow my writing and marketing skills through the many workshops offered. I’ve made friendships that I treasure. I’ve found a sense of belonging to a community of like-minded people. We are all in this together and there is no competition. When a member does win an award, like Ron Yates did in the KCT Literary contest, I get excited and want to help promote them. Ron didn’t know he’d won until I posted something on Twitter congratulating him. 😊

NJ:  Since you’re sitting on the SHELF, you’re obviously a RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB member, so what do you think of the club?

Jan:  I think you already know the answer to that question, Nonnie. I love the RRBC and RWISA family that I’ve found. Writing and marketing your books can be a lonely existence and it is so encouraging to find others in the same boat. Then, you can climb on that boat and sail together. That’s when you gain strength. That’s what I’ve found.

NJ:  Have you come across any other online entities like it?

Jan:  None. There are some organizations who offer one tiny aspect of the many things offered at RRBC, but NONE that give the whole ball of wax like RRBC.

NJ:  Would you recommend it to your friends and family?

Jan:  Of course, and I do.

NJ:  What’s your most favorite program or place here within RRBC?  (#PUSHTUESDAY, RAVE WAVES shows, Block Parties, Writers’ Conference & Book Expo, BOOKS OF THE MONTH discussions, “ON THE SHELF” interviews, etc.)

Jan:  That’s a tough one. I suppose if I had to choose only one, it would be the RRBC Writer’s Conference and Book Expo.

NJ:  This shelf is getting hard on my hiney, so we’re going to wrap this interview up.  Any final words for our guests today?

Jan:  It is an honor and privilege to sit in this seat for the month of June. I appreciate all the shares, comments and camaraderie from our members. If you are reading this and are not yet a member of RRBC, or maybe you are a member but haven’t fully “jumped-in” yet, I encourage you to do so. This is a book club, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a community of kind-hearted giving people who enjoy promoting each other. But, you have to give to receive. It’s the law of the Universe and Nonnie’s law as well. Thank you everyone, for all your awesome support!

NJ:  Jan, we can always count on you for such kind words.  Thank you!  Audience, for once, there were no “almost” accidents today!  Jan was the most perfect guest!  That’s a little disappointing actually.  I know most of you only come here for the drama.  (That’s OK…it’s the only reason I show up, too!  And also for the cookies!)

To my guests, please pick up a copy of either of Jan’s books.

Have you joined RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB yet?  Well, here’s your chance!  And, since Jan was on the “SHELF” today, tell them she sent you.

Until next time, take care.  We’ll see you next month, right here on the “SHELF” with another INTERESTING GUEST!!

Maretha Botha in “WHO’S ON THE SHELF” w/@Nonnie Jules – #RRBC @MarethMBotha

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 bookshelf.  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, RRBC member and May’s “SPOTLIGHT” Author, MARETHA BOTHA We have been celebrating her all month long and today, she gets to sit on the shelf with me!

ROXIE ME SELFIE_2064

NJ:  Before we get started, how do you like the design and feel of my new shelf? We’ve made it even more comfortable in 2018, 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, comfy?

Maretha:  Yes, feeling a bit more comfortable!

NJ:  Good, well let’s start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name

Maretha: (nickname) and my married name, Botha. My birth name is Margaretha Menichini

NJ:  Tell us where you were born?

Maretha:  In Montagu, Western Province, South Africa

NJ:  Do you still live there now?

Maretha:  Sadly not

NJ:  What city and state are you calling home these days?

Maretha:  Blackburn, Lancashire, United Kingdom

NJ:  Married, single, kids?

Maretha:  Married with kids

NJ:  What kind?

Maretha:  The in-between ones

NJ:  Never heard of the ‘in-between ones,’ but OK.  Maretha, if you’re not there already, when you’re old and cranky, which one will keep you at home to care for you themselves, and which one will immediately throw you into a nursing home and only visit you at Christmas?

Maretha:  I’m confident that there might well be a toss-up between the two of them as to who would want me. So, I’ll be diplomatic and share my time between them, that is, if I have time to share – what with all the travelling and writing I want to do.

NJ:  Well, how kind of you.  Do you have any pets? If so, what kind?

Maretha:  Indoors, not any more. Outdoors – I view all the stray cats as my pets, and the garden birds think I’m their Godmother.

NJ:  Another cat lady, huh?  There are just too many of you around me!!!

Pug dog face

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?

Maretha:  Fruit and Nut Cadbury Chocolate Bar

NJ: What’s your favorite color?

Maretha:  I don’t have one, but I feel happy in an autumn inspired interior and wearing winter colours such as dark blues, greens and maroons.

NJ:  How about a favorite sport?

Maretha:  Tennis

NJ:  Favorite TV Show

Maretha:  Alan Tichmarch’s Gardening Make-overs

NJ:  Favorite Actress/Actor

Maretha:  There are a few great ones, but I like Cameron Diaz and Morgan Freeman.

NJ:  Mr. Freeman is in the news right now, and not for anything good.  Maybe you wanna come up with a second choice, but, I like Cameron Diaz, too!  Do you like to exercise to stay fit OR do you not mind just letting it all go?

Maretha:  I don’t like to do any formal exercises these days other than to garden, walk on the moors (occasionally) and do cleaning when I must.

NJ:  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).

Maretha:  When someone drives right in front of me, whether to steal my intended parking spot or cutting across to take the next exit, even though there’s nothing behind me . . .I want to scratch their car – something like they did in that movie, Fried Green Tomatoes.

NJ:  Oh, my!  You’re a feisty one, Maretha!  I love it!  Now, here’s the million dollar question…the one that determines whether you’re on Nonnie’s Christmas list or off.  Are you neat or messy?

Maretha:  Neat, except when I’m in the middle of an illustrating project and then the world can cave in around me.

NJ:  The jury’s still out on that one.  Facebook or Twitter?

Maretha:  Twitter

NJ:  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?

Maretha:  At RRBC I love connecting with so many wonderful folks that I’ll refrain from naming any, since I’m limited to only one.

NJ:  Who do you favor most: Nonnie Jules or WonderWoman? Be honest

Maretha:  I’ve not discovered the difference, but I think they might well be one and the same person.

NJ:  Good answer, although Wonder Woman isn’t as cute as Nonnie, just for the record.  Maretha, we all know that WonderWoman 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.

Maretha:  WonderWoman uses her lasso to get what she wants; the very thought of it scares me. So, I’m going to go with Nonnie, because she says it as it is and I’m either going to take it or not, but before I do, I’ll weigh up the consequences of a making a bad decision.

NJ:  OK.  Name two favorite INDIE books that you’ve read:

Maretha:  I’ve read several great books over the past two years, especially when I think of the high standard reached in poetry. Gwendolyn Plano – “Letting Go Into Perfect Love”, Nonnie Jules – “If Only There Was Music”, D.L. Finn – “No Fairy Tale . . . and many more.  Sorry, N.J. it’s difficult to count when I must choose.  Besides, I’ve now counted way past two. Sorry!

Letting Go Into Perfect Love by Gwen Plano

’17 KCT ILA 1st Place Runner Up – Silver “Treat” Award

If Only There Was Music

No Fairy Tale by D L Finn

NJ:  ONE good INDIE book you’ve read that was so good you wished the entire world would read it…

Maretha:  “Empty Chairs” by Stacey Danson

Empty Chairs

NJ:  What was so great about it?

Maretha:  It is brutally honest, and I admire the author for having had the courage to write about the terrible abuse she suffered as a child.

NJ:  It is definitely on my TBR, although someone once close to me said that I shouldn’t read it, because it would anger me too much. Some books do that to me.  Maretha, after you read books, do you post reviews?

Maretha:  Yes

NJ:  What do you think readers should base their reviews on?

Maretha:  On how much they enjoyed the contents, its message and that which they took away from it – having a great reading experience, rather than being weighed down by the weight of having to write a top critical review. Not everyone could possibly like each story, but if it meets the criteria as far as target market and genre are concerned, I will give it a good review and star rating.

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?

Maretha:  No, but I don’t consider myself such an expert that I would tear a perfectly good book to pieces just because the reader, in this instance me, that I didn’t like the author’s writing style or voice.

NJ:  Read any poorly written books lately?

Maretha:  No, All the stories and plots were good. Sometimes punctuation or lack there-of could stand in the way of a book being great and perfect, which it could be in any event, even if it’s not a subject/genre I would normally read.

NJ:  How many poorly written books have you read that you gave a high mark to in your review, when you know it was horrible? Be honest, I won’t ask you to name the books here in public.

Maretha:  Only one, and I wrote a kind note to the author. That was the first book I ever reviewed, but I see it hasn’t been corrected. So, an effort wasted.

NJ:  Are you an author? Are you a good one? C’mon, we love honesty here.

Maretha:  I’ve had a love affair with reading ever since I could make out words, and sometimes such avid readers progress to becoming writers and finally, published authors. I think my writing is descriptive and not bad most of the time, but I can only go by what my readers say, and they mostly tell me that I’ve got what it takes. Only time will tell whether I’m an enduring, good author. Unfortunately, I cannot follow trends just to make my work profitable. If I have only one reader who loves my work, I will view myself as successful and good.

NJ:  Really?  WOW.  OK.  Please tell us how long you’ve been writing?

Maretha:  Ever since I went to school, I began to make notes and write down little rhymes. I was published in my school’s year book in my final year at school, but my writing career took off in April 2012.

NJ:  Are you able to take constructive criticism of your written work?

Maretha:  Yes, if the person giving the critique knows what they’re talking about, otherwise I just move on and view the review as a bad experience.

NJ:  I’m curious, Maretha.  How would you determine if the person knew what they were talking about or not?  In the meantime, would you name two books that you’ve written?

Maretha:  Flame and Hope: An African Adventure

Flame and Hope by Maretha Botha

Trails and Trials

Trails and Trials by Maretha Botha

NJ:  Which one do you think is the best?

Maretha:  Trails and Trials: An African Adventure is book four in the Fauna Park Tales Series. Writing Flame and Hope taught me much and assisted in making me a better writer by the time I finished the fourth book.

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?

Maretha:  I have two – one suitable to be read by younger readers, dealing with children’s literature and related matters, and the other – a general blog which I use for all things to do with authoring, books and authors. I’ve not asked for my blogs to be vetted by RRBC yet, but I feel ready to do so now.

NJ:  Well, good for you.  Maretha, which online resource or organization has helped you as an author the most?

Maretha:  I’ve tried a few who offer limited help, and I still support one of them occasionally. I’m not sure if I can name them, but I spent many months during this time just reading Nonnie Jules’ WHOSE ON THE SHELF and then I decided to join her Rave Reviews Book Club. Since then, I’ve not seen the necessity to join any where else.

NJ:  That’s always great to hear!  Thank you!  So, how have you been helped by the club?

Maretha:  Meeting serious and professional indie authors, reviewing and being reviewed, getting wonderful support, encouragement and exposure.

NJ:  Yes, RRBC does offer all of those things to its’ members.  Since you’re sitting on the SHELF, you’re obviously a member here, so what do you really think of the club?

Maretha:  Unless RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB throws me out, I don’t intend looking anywhere else.

NJ:  Now, why would we ever do such a thing?  You’re one of our amazing members that we just adore!  But I’m curious, have you come across any other online entities like RRBC?

Maretha:  There are some that try, but they lack the commitment to tweet fellow members work, let alone do a special mention/ presentation for them, so in my opinion, their members remain isolated.

NJ:  Would you recommend the club to your friends and family?

Maretha:  I have done so, and will continue to do so.

NJ:  That’s also good to hear!  What’s your most favorite program or place here within RRBC? #PUSHTUESDAY, RAVE WAVES shows, Block Parties, Writers’ Conference & Book Expo, BOOKS OF THE MONTH discussions, “ON THE SHELF” interviews, etc.

Maretha:  I try to support all of them, because each of these individual programs support authors and their work. So, I don’t think one has more value than the other.

NJ:  This shelf is getting hard on my hiney, so we’re going to wrap this interview up. Any final words for our guests today?

Maretha:  I appreciate your support, interest and commitment very much!  Thank you so much for having me and giving me such incredible support! Where would I be without you?

NJ:  Maretha, that’s so very sweet of you to say.  Thank you!  Audience, for once, there were no “almost” accidents!  Maretha was the perfect guest!  That’s a little disappointing actually.  I know most of you only come here for the drama.  (That’s OK…it’s the only reason I show up, too!)

To my guests, please pick up a copy of either of Maretha’s books.

Have you joined RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB yet?  Well, here’s your chance!  And, since Maretha was on the “SHELF” today, tell them she sent you.

Until next time, take care.  We’ll see you next month, right here on the “SHELF” with another INTERESTING GUEST!!

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