Tag Archives: Authors

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, 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, 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 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 are 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!!!

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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!!

 

Vashti Quiroz-Vega in “WHO’S ON THE SHELF” w/@NonnieJules – #RRBC @VashtiQV

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, VASHTI QUIROZ-VEGA Vashti is our  1st “SPOTLIGHT” Author of the new year!  It’s January and we have been celebrating her all month long.  This week, she gets to sit on the shelf with me!

(Just as an FYI:  This year I will not be editing the responses of my guests.  I will post their responses to each interview question, just as they have written them.)

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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, and I’ve added a few bars to make it a bit safer.  Some of my guests in the past have had some very unfortunate accidents and I don’t ever want that to happen again.  So, are you comfy?

Vashti:  I’m extraordinarily comfy and cozy. I feel right at home on your shelf.

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

Vashti:  Vashti Quiroz-Vega is my real name. Vashti Quiroz is my maiden name. I took my husband’s name when we married. It’s a bit scary to use your full real name but I went ahead and did it anyway.

NJ:  It really is scary giving out so much information on this world wide web.  But once you’ve given that much, your full name, I think everything else should be limited.  Notice how Nonnie has no photos swarming around this place.  That’s to keep all the “crazies” at bay.  Vashti, tell us where you were born?  Do you still live there now?  If not, what city and state are you calling home these days?

Vashti:  I grew up in NYC. As a teen, my family and I moved down to Florida. I still call Florida home. I’d like to live in North Carolina someday. I visited once and fell in love with the people and I always said I would live there someday.

NJ:  Married or single?

Vashti:  Married. My husband is amazing. He’s very loving and supportive and someone I feel proud to call my partner in life.

NJ:  That’s awesome news on the hubby front!  Any kids?  What kind?

Vashti:  We have a fur baby named Scribbles. He’s a very sweet and smart Pomeranian.

NJ:  I think I saw a photo of Scribbles.  Cute kid!  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?

Vashti:  I love pizza. I know I should have outgrown it by now, but I could live on it (I don’t, don’t worry). I try to eat healthily, and for the most part, I do. However, occasionally I do indulge with a couple of slices of pizza.

NJ:  Haha!  We own pizza parlors so I don’t eat much pizza, although I do enjoy it on occasion.  Vashti, what’s your favorite color?

Vashti:  When I was very young it used to be green. In my twenties, it was red and gold but now it’s blue––specifically turquoise.

NJ:  OK.  How about your favorite sport…

Vashti:  I enjoy watching basketball. The movement on the court, the size and speed of the players, it’s mesmerizing.

NJ:  Basketball is the favorite sport in our home (loved by hubby, not me).  Right now I can hear the Boston Celtics and The Golden State Warriors playing.  (I love Kyrie Irving and I love Steph Curry, by the way).  Vashti, do you have a favorite TV show?

Vashti:  Game of Thrones. Duh.

NJ:  Duh? I don’t even like the title of the show so you know I wouldn’t even attempt to turn it on to watch.  But, I hear a ton of folks talking about it so there must be something there (just not my cup of tea).  Who’s your favorite Actress/Actor?

Vashti:  Kevin Spacey, Viola Davis, Natalie Portman, Emma Stone, Russell Crowe, Morgan Freeman, Julia Roberts, Al Pacino, Denzel Washington, and Sigourney Weaver.

NJ:  Seriously?  We’re going to mention Kevin Spacey here on my show?  I’ll pretend as if I didn’t hear his name.

Judge Judy rolling eyes

Moving right along…do you like to exercise to stay fit OR do you not mind just letting it all go?

Vashti:  I’m an outgoing person. I enjoy being active. Although I haven’t worked out as much as I used to in the last couple of years. I’m going to improve on that this year.

NJ:  That’s awesome that you’re making your health a priority this year, Vashti!  Good for you!  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).

Vashti:  I’m pretty laid back for the most part. There are certain things that really bug me, like when people don’t cover their mouths when they cough. I fantasize about stuffing cloth (or something) in their mouths. I worked in the medical field many years and I know what comes out of that mouth, so please cover it!

NJ:  OMG, Vashti!  One of my biggest pet peeves is when people yawn without covering their mouths!  I hate that and I find it horribly disgusting!  Every time I see it, no matter the age of who’s doing it, I always think “What poor home training that must have had.” 

Vashti:  I also think it is terrible manners when someone says “ew” to the food on your plate.  Line cutters drive me nuts. Were you raised by wolves?

Okay, last one. My husband is a compulsive door opener. I think he was a doorman in a past life. I can’t stand it when he opens the door for someone and not only do they not say thank you, they also glide straight past him as if people should open doors for them. Makes me want to pull out a cane, hook it to the back of their shirt/blouse and yank them back through the door so that they can open it themselves.

I think you opened up a can of worms here.

shutterstock_29964307Are you OK?)  

NJ:  So, are you neat or messy?

Vashti:  For the most part, I’m neat. I can make a mess, but I do clean up after myself quickly.

NJ:  Good response although I felt you for a minute, leaning towards the left.  That’s the direction of that island I recently purchased to send all messy folks to.  So, Facebook or Twitter?

Vashti:  I use both but prefer 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?

Vashti:  This is a tough question because I’ve met so many wonderful people online in the last four years since I began blogging. Since I joined the RRBC I’ve met so many talented, kindhearted, inspiring and supportive people, many of which I consider friends. It would be too difficult to name them all and I would feel terrible if I left someone out.

Handclapping gif

(When you realize she’s going to pass on the question because she doesn’t know how to name just one.)

NJ:  Vashti, who do you favor most… Nonnie Jules or WonderWoman? It’s OK to be honest.

Vashti:  I’ve never met WonderWoman, so I’d have to say, Nonnie Jules. 😉

NJ:  Oh, thank you, Vashti, how sweet of you to say. (Although it seems I won the toss by default… “I’ve never met WonderWoman.” Yeah, right!)

eye rolling gif.gif

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, especially in our reviews of books we’ve read,  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.

Vashti:  I believe in being honest and being your true self and not whom others deem you should be. Since Nonnie is a real person I’d have to go with her.

NJ:  You’re awfully kind, Vashti.  But, WonderWoman IS a real person, too!  Now, ONE good INDIE book you’ve read that was so good you wished the entire world would read it.

Vashti:  EMPTY CHAIRS by Stacey Danson (Suzanne Burke) is a must-read.

NJ:  What was so great about it?

Vashti:  EMPTY CHAIRS opened my eyes to many things I didn’t know and taught me many lessons. I’m a fan of books that teach me new things.

NJ:  After you read books, do you post reviews?

Vashti:  I do most of the time. If the book has a lot of issues and I can talk to the author and communicate my concerns to him or her, I’d rather do that then give them a bad review.

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

Vashti:  A book review is an opinion that someone has written about another written work. I base my reviews on whether the work I’ve selected fit well within the genre chosen for it. A horror book that doesn’t give you a single chill is disappointing. I also review a book based on the plot, characters and writing style. Is the book entertaining or boring? Are the characters interesting and well developed? Does the story have a good pace or does it drag? Does the book have something unique to offer or have I read this same story a dozen times? There is no book liked by everyone. It doesn’t matter how well written it is.

NJ:  That’s true, but you can’t beat a well-written book, no matter how many dislike it.  Every time, I’m supporting the well-written book!  Vashti, are you one of those who is afraid to be honest in their reviews lest the author becomes upset with you, or, is honesty your best policy, especially in reviews?

Vashti:  I’m never afraid to write or speak the truth. However, I believe that if a book is well-written for the most part but has many typos I can better help the author by talking to him/her via email, Skype––whatever, rather than give him/her a 1 or 2-star rating on Amazon. If a book is poorly written from start to finish and makes no sense I have no choice but to give it a low rating. I rarely come across a book like that nowadays, because I’m very selective about the books I read. The books I’ve read lately have been highly recommended.

NJ:  Vashti, I’m going to have to offer my opinion here which is a far reach from yours, just to offer clarity.  If a book is well-written, there won’t be many typos, if any at all, and yes, I’ve read books from start to finish where there was not ONE typo found.  And, I went back to make sure!  Typos, missing words, confusion in a story…anything that slows my reading pace when I’m in a story, I can’t label as well-written.  Just as the wind is blowing thru my hair as I round the bend of a long stretch of beautiful road, is just the feel I want when I’m reading a book.  I want it to just flow.  Now, there’s my two-cents.  Now, Vashti, 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.

Vashti:  I’ve never done that.

NJ:  Well, Kudos to you!  Tell us, are you an author?  If so, are you a good one?  C’mon, we love honesty here.

Vashti:  I am an author. It’s what I was born to do. Yes, I am a good writer but I can always be better, so I will continue to learn and improve. It’s in my nature to always strive to be better.

NJ:  That’s good to hear!  How long have you been writing?

Vashti:  I’ve been writing since I was a kid.

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

Vashti:  Yes, if a critique will help me improve my writing I’m all for it.

NJ:  What’s the name of one of your books?

VashtiTHE FALL OF LILITH

The Fall of Lilith by Vashti Q

 

NJ:  Vashti, 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?

Vashti:  Well, blogs are all about personal preferences. If you enjoy short stories in the fantasy, horror and thriller genres, poetry and occasional articles about issues that I’m interested in such as, bullying, teen depression, child abuse, elderly abuse and animals then you will like my blog.

NJ:  (All I wanted to know was is it well-written.)  Vashti, which online resource or organization has helped you as an author the most?

Vashti:  The Rave Reviews Book Club has been an enormous help to me as an author.

NJ:  We’re always super happy when we hear that!  Thank you!  Why don’t you share with our guests who may not be members, how you’ve been helped by RRBC.

I have met so many inspiring, supportive and like-minded people in the RRBC. They’ve become my online family. I have received so much support in the form of book reviews, social media growth, interviews, podcasts. I believe my author brand has grown more in the last six months since I’ve joined than in the last four years that I’ve been blogging. It’s been great!

NJ:  What an amazing testimonial, Vashti!  Good for you!  But, you know what?   I will say, you weren’t just given all that amazing support.  You had to do something to get it.  In short, you’re an amazing supporter here and when you wear that title in RRBC, so many great things are placed at your feet and so many wonderful opportunities just seem to fall in your lap!  Good for you!  Is there anything else you’d like to share about RRBC?

Vashti:  The RRBC is a community of talented and supportive readers and writers and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.

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

Vashti:  Not at all.

NJ:  Neither have I.  Lots of copy-cats but none successful or sustaining, it seems.  Would you recommend RRBC to your friends and family?

Vashti:  I have been recommending it to my writerly friends and bookish friends too.

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

Vashti:  I enjoy the Rave Waves shows, the Writers’ Conference was a lot of fun and I got to know members I didn’t know before, and it’s been pretty cozy up here On The Shelf! Can I stay a while longer?

NJ:  Vashti, although I’d love to hang out with you here all day, this shelf is getting hard on my hiney, so we’re going to wrap this interview up.  As they say, you don’t have to go home, but you have to get the heck off of my shelf!  LOL!  Any final words for our guests today?

Vashti:  It’s been an honor to be invited to sit On The Shelf with you Nonnie, thank you very much. I’m excited about being selected as Spotlight Author too. Thank you, everyone, for stopping by and for your fabulous support. I appreciate all of you.

NJ:  Vashti, thank you so much for hanging out on THE SHELF with us today!  And, thanks for being an awesome member! This has been so much fun!  Not once did you come close to having an accident!  That’s an amazing feat.

To my guests, please pick up a copy of Vashti’s book.

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

I’ll see you next month, right here on the “SHELF” with another INTERESTING GUEST!!

@WendyJayneScott in “WHO’S ON THE SHELF” WITH NONNIE JULES – #RRBC

Hello and welcome to “WHO’S ON THE SHELF?” with yours truly, Nonnie Jules!  Since we are a book club, you know we had to offer something that included a book shelf.  A lot of interviews merely cover an author’s work or an individual’s career stories.  Here on this “SHELF,”  we get down and dirty and ask the questions no other interviewer dare ask.  We ask the questions that you want to open up a book and find the answers to on your favorite authors and fellow book club members, but, no one has dared to cover them.  WE get personal!  Because when you sit on this “SHELF,” YOU are an open book! Even if I have to pry you open!

Today we have a very special guest on the SHELF with us,  member, WENDY SCOTT.  Wendy is our “SPOTLIGHT” Author for the month of June and we are celebrating her all month long.  This week, she gets to sit on the shelf with me!

Scan_20170527 (2)

(Now that looks just like Wendy, doesn’t it?)

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

Wendy:  I don’t have a great sense of balance so I appreciate the addition of the padded stirrups. Wonderful view of the RRBC book shelves, filled with highly acclaimed authors like John W. Howell, Gwendolyn Plano, Harmony Kent, Beem Weeks, and a few signed copies by Nonnie Jules.

NJ:  WOW!  Impressive!  (That’s a sure way not to ‘almost’ have an ‘accident.’ … throw my name in there, too).  

English bulldog funny face

Wendy, Let’s start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name?

Wendy:  I use different versions of my name for various genres. Wendy Scott for Fantasy, WJ Scott for Children’s, and Wendy Jayne for Romance. So I suppose that makes me a split personality.

Dog rolling his eyes

(A split personality?  Really, Wendy…don’t you think I get enough of dealing with ‘personalities’ on a daily basis, as it is?  I’m gonna need you to keep that in check during this interview, OK?)

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?

Wendy:  I was born in Invercargill, (the frozen bottom of the South Island), New Zealand. When I was nine we moved to the tropics: Blenheim, (top of the South Island). In 1999, I crossed the ditch and lived in Adelaide, South Australia, for five years (wine country). Currently, residing in Hokitika, West Coast, New Zealand on our 3 ½ acres of paradise.

NJ:  Married or single?

Wendy:  My partner and I have been best buddies for over 25 years. One day we may wed on a Hawaiian beach or a Vegas Elvis Chapel, but hey you can’t rush these things.

NJ:  Any kids?  What kind?

Wendy:  Two kids; the one with hooves, horns, and startling blue eyes is Iron the goat (mother’s name Maden, sister’s name China). The human kid, our preteen birth child is Layk, named after our favourite lake: Lake Kaniere.

NJ:  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?

Wendy:  Layk has All Black (NZ rugby team) aspirations so here’s hoping he can keep us in the style we wish to become accustomed to. He has offered to build us our own shack.

NJ:  Any pets?  What kind?

Wendy:  Many four-pawed friends. Two dogs, Boss (SPCA well behaved dog) he’s the size of pony with the heart of a teddy bear, and we inherited Zuki, a Bichon Frise, the size of a teddy bear, with the mentality of a Rottweiler (who barks when people are leaving???). Two SPCA rescue cats (reject Russian Blue brothers), Zippy and Zappy.

NJ:  Zippy & Zappy…Hahahaha!  I love those names.  So, Wendy, 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?  I expect that this is also the food you’ll be sharing in our upcoming RAVE SOUP FOR THE WRITERS’ SOUL “Good Eats” Cookbook, right?

Wendy:  Raspberries and chocolate. Mmmmmmm.

NJ:  OK.  That, you will never have to worry about coming up missing out of the board member lounge fridge.  So, what’s your favorite color:

Wendy:  Purple, of course.

NJ:  Of course?  That one went over my head, Wendy, but let’s move on to your favorite sport.  I hope there’s not an ‘of course’ attached to that, too.

Wendy:  Watching my son’s rugby. I still don’t understand all the rules, I’ve been barred from running onto the field, but I can wear the team’s hoodie and yell from the sidelines. Go Kiwis!

NJ:  Favorite TV Show…

Wendy:  SciFi Geek: Firefly /Stargate (yes, I’ve watched all 10 seasons more than once, and Stargate Atlantis).

NJ:  Yep, you won’t have to worry about me calling to talk about that show with ya!  So, how about your favorite Actress and Actor…

Wendy:  Morgan Freeman and Jodie Foster.

NJ:  I like Jodie Foster, too.  She is such a star!  I used to like Morgan until he did that ‘thing’… now, I don’t care to watch him in anything anymore.  But, anyway, do you like to exercise to stay fit OR do you not mind just letting it all go?

Wendy:  I believe you lose it if you don’t use it. I hike, bike, and hit the gym for Body Combat and Box Fit (something very satisfying about putting on boxing gloves and smacking things).

NJ:  Wendy, I so agree.  My pink ones keep me out of the slammer, for sure!

Boxing gloves

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).

Wendy:  Some people’s inability to master the engineering feat of changing a toilet roll. Seriously, it’s not that difficult, and it’s just plain good manners.

Puppy and tissue

NJ:  Uh, is this how you do it?  Wendy, be careful who you ask to change the toilet roll, OK?  So, are you neat or messy?

Wendy:  I’m a writer not a domestic goddess. I thrive in chaos.

 NJ:  OOOOOOOOK, so you weren’t at all bothered by the puppy and the mess above?  Got it.  Facebook or Twitter?

Wendy:  Twitter, I love the randomness.

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?

Wendy:  I’ve reconnected with a girl friend from our teenage years and it’s like the missing years never occurred.

NJ:  Well, good for you!  Wendy, here’s the most serious question of the entire interview…who do you favor most:  Nonnie Jules or WonderWoman? Be honest, now.  You don’t have to worry about Wonder Woman…she’s at the movies right now.

Wendy:  Is this a trick question?  I was under the impression they are one and the same. Wonder Jules!

NJ:  Hahaha, Wonder Jules!  I love it!  I like that one better, let’s start using it instead!  We all know that Wonder Woman has her truth lasso and Nonnie has…well, just her truths, in the no-nonsense way she forces us to be honest and tell it like it is, whether it makes others uncomfortable or not.  In your opinion, which one does a better job of making the world a better place?  You can be honest here, too.

Wendy:  I suspect Nonnie’s truth lasso is like an electric dog collar. Wander too far from the truth and you get zapped!

NJ:  I love it! And you’re so right.  I do like to remind folks when they act as if they’ve forgotten.   Name two favorite INDIE books that you’ve read:

Wendy:  Jazz Baby by Beem Weeks, and Finding Katie by Harmony Kent.

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

Wendy:  Silvana The Greening by Belinda Mellor.

NJ:  Great!  Written  by an RRBC member, too!  What was so great about it?

Wendy:  I wish I’d written it! Fantasy literary story telling at its finest.

NJ:  Oh, my!  I may have to pick that one up!  Wendy, after you read books, do you post reviews?

Wendy:  Yes, for those books I read through to the end.

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

Wendy:  Their reading experience of how the story and the characters engaged them. I expect well edited books with believable 3 dimensional characters, a gripping storyline, and a satisfying ending.

 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?

Wendy:  I choose books to read that I expect to enjoy, and I’ll often check out the opening sample to review the writing style. I believe you can tactfully state improvement suggestions. I don’t award 5* lightly, to gain my 5 stars the story has to be exceptional. My reputation as an author is on the line.

NJ:  Read any poorly written books lately?

Wendy:  My time’s too precious to waste on poorly written or edited books, I abandon them, and read books that capture and hold my attention.

NJ:  So you see, people, some of us don’t even waste our time reading books all the way through if it’s clear that they haven’t been properly edited or, they’re not reads worthy of even having been published in the first place…because there was no care given to how important those issues would be to a reader.  How many poorly written books have you read that you gave high marks to in your reviews, when you knew they were horrible?  Be honest, I won’t ask you to name the books here in public.

Wendy:  I don’t review them as I didn’t read them past the opening pages. If it was a specific request by an author I will send them a summary of the issues I encountered that stopped me continuing i.e. POV lapses. telling rather than showing, repetition, information dumps, too much backstory, pace, dialogue tags ,lack of character development etc. Usually this is obvious within the first chapter.

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?

Wendy:  Texas author, Jan Sikes, as Marketing Director of RRBC, is actively out there continually promoting RRBC books online and she and Nonnie are working to get RRBC books into bookstores.

Nonnie Jules created RRBC from scratch and within a few short years has steered RRBC into a dynamic and thriving author support network where honest reviews are encouraged.

NJ:  Well, thank you, Wendy.  It’s not every day we get to hear that folks think so highly of us.  Are you an author?  Are you a good one?  C’mon, we love honesty here.

Wendy:  I’m a multi-award winning author who strives to lift the bar with each successive book.

NJ:  Well, good for you!  How long have you been writing?

Wendy:  My writing journey began in 2003 when I attended a six week course on ‘How to write a novel’.

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

Wendy:  Yes, it’s part of the editing process, and with reviews I look for common themes to address with future works. I’ll always be a student of writing, continuing to grow my literary skills.

NJ:  Name two books that you’ve written?

Lodestone, Book 1,

Lodestone by Wendy Scott

Hieroglyph, TC’s Adventures Book 1

ws

 

NJ:  Which one do you think is the best?

Wendy:  Hieroglyph has won multiple international book awards.

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?

Wendy:  I have several websites and blogs catering to my different readerships.

My main website: http://www.wendyjscott.com/my-blog

Fantasy: http://www.authorfantasy.com/fantasy-author-blog

Children’s: http://www.authorchildrens.com/childrens-author-blog

http://www.hieroglyph.ws/

http://www.tails-wjscott.com/

Please come and visit you are always welcome.

NJ:  Thanks for that open invitation.  I think I will drop by each one.  Wendy, which online resource or organization has helped you as an author the most?

Wendy:  Drum roll …… and the winner is …..RRBC!

NJ:  Noooooooo!  I never would’ve ‘thunk’ it!  LOL! How were you helped by this amazing club that I keep hearing so many great things about?

Blushing dog

Wendy:  So many different ways. At first I was blown away by all the features – there’s always something new on the go (interviews, tweets, awards, blog parties, trailer parties, book conference, RWISA, anthology etc). But the best part is the people, real authors, real stories, and real connections. This is a community I’m proud to support.

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

Wendy:  No, RRBC is a unique global community.

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

Wendy:  Absolutely! I’m always encouraging authors to join RRBC.

NJ:  Wendy, but we’re not just for authors.  You should encourage readers to join, as well!  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.)

Wendy:  How can I choose? I do love listening to all the RAVE WAVES shows and I’m honoured to join in as a host for BRING ON THE SPOTLIGHT.

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?

Wendy:  Thanks RRBC, Nonnie Jules, and the RRBC Board for befriending me!

NJ:  Thank you so much for hanging out on THE SHELF with us today, Wendy!  You are one of RRBC’s finest!  If you all haven’t, you should take notice of how Wendy shares all the pages of our online catalog onto social media.  I mean, there may be others doing it, but I’ve not seen anyone else doing it, so, we should all thank Wendy for sharing our books (and also, follow in her footsteps).

To my guests, please  pick up a copy of one of Wendy’s  books or all of them (you will not be  disappointed!).

Have you joined RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB yet?  Well, here’s your chance!  And, since Wendy was on the “SHELF” today, tell them she sent you.  Make it a great day, my friends…or not.  The choice is all yours!   We’ll see you next month, right here on the SHELF” with another INTERESTING GUEST!!

What Does a Good #RRBC / #RWISA Member Look Like?

Funny Face Dog 1

(Well, close…but not exactly.)

I receive so many email messages asking: “Nonnie, what does a good RRBC Member look like?  I want to know because I want to ensure that I’m wearing that same look.” Well, the words may not come out exactly that way, but in a gist, that’s what they’re trying to say.

RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB is a book club, unlike any other book club you’ve ever seen.  We’re different, and where I come from…different is a really good thing!  If you’re a new member, you might wonder how we’re different, OR, what separates us from the one million, five hundred thousand, thirty-two and a half other book clubs out there. (Whew! Breathe).

Since I am the Founder of this club, I am the perfect person to answer that question, but, I’m going a step farther…I’m going to tell you just what an AMAZING RRBC Member looks like.  So, cop a squat (as they say), and prepare to be enlightened.

An AMAZING RRBC Member…

*…takes the time to engage in the RRBC forums, introducing themselves and meeting as many of his/her fellow members as possible.  They want to know who is who, so they’ll know who to throw their extra-special support behind;

*…doesn’t join to see what we can do for him/her.  They join to see what they can offer to others;

*…doesn’t come into the club clueless, take all that they have learned from us and then run off to try and start their own club to compete against us.  No, they take that knowledge that we have unselfishly given to them and they use it to help us grow and grow and grow.  You would be shocked at the sheer number of members who didn’t even know how to log onto Twitter, let alone send a tweet, before they joined RRBC, but boy, once we got them up to speed, we never even see them anymore (because of course, they’re off doing their own thing…I mean, who wouldn’t, though?  We’ve equipped them very well!).  Yes, this is the perfect example of forgetting the hand that fed you…and, the hand that literally taught you how to walk;

*…participates in as many club activities as their little heart can muster!  Block parties, contests, blog tours, book club discussions…you name it…they’re there!

*…ensures that he/she is doing his/her part by remaining compliant within the club.  That entails supporting fellow members by reading and reviewing their books;

*…supports his/her fellow members when they are on blog tours, by following along each day, actually taking the time to read posts, sharing on social media and then, leaving comments.  And, they don’t just leave comments when there are prizes to be given away;

*…takes the time to become familiar with our club calendar, so that they don’t miss out on any of our amazingly fun and supportive events;

*…can be found in the #RRBC #PeanutGallery during our RAVE WAVES BlogTalkRadio shows, sharing their comments and questions for the guests and the hosts;

*…doesn’t just pop up when there is something in it for them specifically…like when their books can be promoted or their blogs can be promoted.  Amazing RRBC members are there all the time;

*…doesn’t only read the BWCU (Bi-Weekly Club Updates) to ensure that the book promo info that they submitted, is included.  They read it all the time because they’re truly interested in what’s going on in our club, as well as being genuinely interested in the good news shared by other members;

*…doesn’t re-tweet only the tweets with their own Twitter handle included.  They take the time to seek out their fellow members’ tweets to show their support of them.  (This is easily done by searching Twitter for #RRBC or #RaveReviewsBookClub);

*…doesn’t keep their name on our roster just to continue to sell their books.  They remain because they believe in our mission and our goals here, and they are dedicated to helping to further the cause of building community support;

*…continually helps us to spread the word of RRBC and all that it offers, so that we are always growing.  They realize that the greater our membership, the greater the support we give and receive;

*…is fiercely protective of RRBC and all that we stand for, and just might challenge you if you try to smear our good name;

…and lastly, an AMAZING RRBC MEMBER is here for the long haul.  The excitement that they felt about our club when they first joined, is the same excitement you will find them with today.  Look around, members like Beem Weeks, Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko, Jan Sikes, Wendy Scott, Shirley Harris-Slaughter, Peggy Hattendorf, Rhani D’Chae, Karen Ingalls, Karl Morgan, Patricia Guthrie, Harriet Hodgson, D.L. Finn, Marlena Smith, Michelle Abbott, Karen Ingalls, Bernard Foong, Stephen Geez and so many more…quite a few of these members have been here practically since the very beginning and they are still here, giving and giving and giving.  But, don’t be mistaken, their giving continually pays off for them.  Don’t believe me?  Well, why don’t you ask them.  I’m sure they’re somewhere wandering the halls of our AMAZING club!

Remember the crazy-faced dog above who looks so excited?  Well, we staunch supporters of RRBC and its members, tend to look like that on occasion, too, as we are so “loopy” for all things RRBC!

So, are you on the fast track to AMAZING within RRBC?  I sure hope so because that’s when all those AMAZING doors begin to open up for you!

#RRBC Book & Blog Block Party – Quizzing The President

Blog Party 1

Location:  ALL OVER THE WORLD!

# of Giveaways today:  2

(1) FREE Membership or Membership Renewal

(1) $5 Amazon Gift Card

***

Good Morning!  My name is Natasha Know-It-All and I’m a reporter with the Raving Reviews News.  Today, we have tracked down the extremely busy President & Founder of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB, Nonnie Jules.  We asked if she could spare a few moments for a quick Q&A and surprisingly, to our delight, she said “YES!” Although she has limited this to only a 6 Q&A session, we’re happy to have that!  Any little bone she’s willing to throw at us, we’re willing to run after it!  Ms. Jules rarely gives interviews so sit back, relax and take it all in!  Here is her take on quality vs quantity.  #Winning

***

Natasha:  Hello, Ms. Jules!  Sharing that I’m so excited to be sitting down with you today would be a great understatement!  I am ecstatic, so thank you, thank you, thank you for this!

Nonnie:  Oh, you’re very welcome.  ‘Tis my pleasure to chat with you, as well.

Natasha:  OK, I know how busy you are, so let’s get right down to business;  just a few questions that came to me last night while doing my research for this sit-down.  I have followed your organization since its inception and if I can remember correctly, at one point, your membership was well over 600.  Can you tell us why you’re around the 400 mark today?

Nonnie:  I’d love to share that with you, Ms. Know-It-All…or, would you prefer that I call you Natasha?

Natasha:  Natasha would be fine, thank you (as she rolls her eyes).

angry dog

Nonnie:  Great!  When I started RRBC, our membership was FREE.  At that time, we were pushing heavily the fact that when you added your name to our roster, every other member on the roster was strongly encouraged to #follow you on social media.  It got to the point that folks were joining us simply to grow their followers list.  It was disheartening to know that there were unscrupulous people out there who would go to such lengths just to grow their followers.  Well, they’d come on board, do absolutely nothing for the club or within the club, show no support for their fellow members and then they’d leave.  When I was completely fed up with these characters, we decided that we would begin charging a fee for membership, a small one, but one nonetheless.  I knew that this would weed out the riff-raff from the serious authors and readers who wanted to truly belong to a community of support, so our fee of $25/annually was instated.  We had much email from members (new and old) who said they would gladly spend more for all that they received, or was offered here. We still have those today who choose not to renew their membership, and for a great majority of those, they joined, put their name on our roster, did absolutely nothing within the club, then looked around one day and said “Hmmm, what is this club doing for me? No one is reading and reviewing my book.”  Well, if you put absolutely nothing in, you probably weren’t getting much out.

Natasha:  OK.  Were you disappointed to see your numbers fall?

Nonnie:  (Laughing) Not at all, Natasha!  Actually, I was excited!  I’m all about quality and not quantity.  I’m not the author who wants to be known for writing MANY books, I’m the author who wants to be known for writing GREAT books, and if that is only ONE great book, I’m happy with that!  All organizations go thru change in membership and if you’ve ever belonged to any, you would know that this kind of change is typical.  I want only the best in my organization and if that means I have only 10 great members as opposed to 100 bits of riff-raff, I’d feel blessed that I had the 10!

Natasha:  It’s pretty evident that you have some folks who have been with you for quite some time.  Why do you think they stick around?

Nonnie:  I have a great many board members, ex-board members, and members who have been here for a very long time, some since day one.  These authors (for the most part) realize the importance of community, and they’ve never found anything like RRBC before.  Authors supporting one another instead of competing against each other?  That’s unheard of!  But, it’s what we do and it is why our core of supportive members remain.  AND, they also see the great benefits to membership here…and those benefits are numerous and all GRAND!

Natasha:  Would you mind sharing the names of some of those awesome members you speak of above?  We’d like to get to know them ourselves!

Nonnie:  Of course!  Bruce A. Borders, Shirley Harris-Slaughter, Beem Weeks and Marlena Hand have been with me practically since the very beginning and you could count them among the founding members group.  Bruce and Shirley are now retired, LIFETIME Board Members, but they are always willing and ready to jump in whenever they are called upon.  I can’t leave without mentioning some of our other awesome-tastic members, as well:  Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko, Peggy Hattendorf, Bette A. Stevens, Nicholas Rossis, Michelle Abbott, Rhani D’Chae, Linda Mims, Jennifer Hinsman, Jan Sikes, Gordon Bickerstaff, Karen Ingalls, and so many more, and a great big shout-out to those especially supportive newer members, that I’m sure I’ve failed to mention (but you know who you are, and I want you to say so down below!)

Natasha:  Well, OK! That’s quite a list!  What makes these members stand out from some of your past members who you would tag as riff-raff?

Nonnie:  Natasha, these members stand out in my mind because they are so supportive of everyone else.  Their timelines are filled with support of others.  If you’re on a blog tour, you can find them at the door waiting, even before your tour begins (and you don’t have to even offer a giveaway for most of them to follow along), and they make themselves known in the RRBC community…they engage with their fellow members.  That engagement is one of the most important factors to having a successful membership within RRBC.  Our supportive members have to really know you to throw the full weight of their support behind you, so don’t just slap your name on our roster, put your books in our catalog and then expect to be supported in grand fashion.  It doesn’t work that way here.  When you give a little, you get so much more in return!

Natasha:  Everyone knows you’re a no-holds-barred kind of person.  Does it bother you that you are perceived as such, or do you not mind that label at all?

Nonnie:  I’m not a label-person, Natasha, and sticks and stones…right? I learned long ago that I cannot control the actions and thoughts of other people, so I don’t try.  Anyone who follows me anywhere, knows that I don’t live my life based on how I am perceived by others, or what others might think of me.  If you like me, great!  If you don’t, well, that’s your problem…I love me!  And me loving me, is all that matters.  There are too many people who live their lives based on the feelings of others, and when you live that way, you can’t truly be happy.  I mean, if someone is angry with you, you can’t sleep, if someone doesn’t like you, you can’t eat, if someone isn’t your friend, you have a bad day…let me make this crystal clear:  I sleep, eat and have great days so I guess it’s safe to say I’m not one of these people.  I have said, and will go to my grave with this, I will never give ANYONE that kind of power over my life.  For those of you who have relinquished your power to others, take it back.  It’s not at all worth it in the end.

Natasha:  Well, that wraps up this interview!  I wish we had more time with you, Ms. Jules, but we do understand that any moment away from the RRBC Corporate Offices, is a moment lost on supporting your membership, and we wouldn’t want that.  Any final words?

Nonnie:  Natasha, thanks for the interview, I really enjoyed it!   I’d like to thank everyone who is following along and partying with us on our block party this month!  Be sure to leave a comment below to get entered into our daily drawing and there are also two other stops today, so don’t forget to visit the lineup to find out where they are.

If you haven’t joined RRBC, ask yourself “What am I waiting for? Am I being truly supported out here alone or with these other clubs who offer more lip service than actual service?”  I assure you, the sooner you take the leap, the better off you’ll be with the power of RRBC standing behind you!

***

HAVE YOU REGISTERED FOR THE WRITERS’ CONFERENCE & BOOK EXPO YET?

Your Attitude Determines Your Altitude at RRBC!

In honor of Governing Board Appreciation Month here at RRBC, there will be a special episode of ASPIRE TO INSPIRE on Monday, June 27,  where musings from our board members will be shared by host, Gwen Plano and her co-host, John W. Howell.

Author and “SPOTLIGHT” Author Co-ordinator, Rebecca Reilly, has written a post which needs to be shared in its entirety, therefore it is being posted here, for all to “take in.” I, Nonnie Jules, am only the author of the title and Yes, I Said It!

attitude

Attitude is everything. The amount of joy, or frustration, we feel each day largely depends on our outlook. For example, a trip to the grocery store can be an adventure, or drudgery, depending on our mindset. It has nothing to do with what we need to buy, or the condition of the store, or any other thing. The way we anticipate the excursion, our choice to enjoy the task or dread it, causes the level of pleasure or pain, in our experience.

I’ve found this to be true within the walls of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB. People join our highly supportive community with one of two attitudes:
Attitude Number One: I am joining RRBC to GET as much support as possible.
Attitude Number Two: I am joining RRBC to GIVE as much support as possible.

Let’s take the member with Attitude Number One. They are always on the lookout for their name to be chosen as a #PUSHTUESDAY Winner, or their book to be touted as the BOOK OF THE MONTH. Their time and energy is used trying to get more for themselves. Some go as far as emailing the leadership to complain or ask for special treatment. Their experience with RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB becomes a frustration. They may tweet and retweet in hopes of garnering the attention they desire, but their heart is not in it. They are too focused on GETTING the glory and they miss the true heart of RRBC.

Now let’s look at the RRBC member with Attitude Number Two. These people join the club to be part of a community. They want to meet authors. They desire to learn how to be supportive. They fill their Twitter feed and Facebook pages, promoting others. They thank those who promote them, and thus forge relationships. They put the RAVE WAVES shows on their calendar so they can tune in and support and thereby learning more about their fellow members. These members celebrate when other authors are chosen for the seats of honor, because those other authors are not strangers—they are friends. Members with Attitude Number Two are blessed by their experience with RAVE REVIEWS  BOOK CLUB, and their relationships with their fellow members. They do not worry about when they will be honored. It just happens because when you are supportive of others, your support is being noticed and noted.

The great thing about life is we have the power to choose our attitude. If you have been focused on “GETTING,” and frustrated with the results, try GIVING. Take your eyes off of yourself and put them firmly on your fellow members. You will enjoy the RAVE REVIEWS BOOKS CLUB experience so much more!

LIZZIE CHANTREE in “WHO’S ON THE SHELF WITH NONNIE JULES?”

Hello, and welcome to “WHO’S ON THE SHELF?” with yours truly, Nonnie Jules!  Since we are a book club, we had to offer something that included a book shelf.  A lot of interviews merely cover an author’s work or an individual’s career stories.  Here on this “SHELF,”  we get down and dirty and ask the questions no other interviewer dare ask.  We ask the questions that you want to open up a book and find the answers to on your favorite authors and fellow book club members, but no one has dared to cover them.  WE get personal!  Because when you sit on the RRBC “SHELF,” YOU are an open book!

Today, I have with me on the “SHELF” Current “SPOTLIGHT” Author, Lizzie Chantree

Lizzie Chantree photo 10

NJ:  Before we get started, how does the “shelf” feel to you, Lizzie?  Is it comfy?

Lizzie:  It feels warm and well supported! Is there a radiator underneath this shelf? I don’t like heights, but I was hoping someone might have left some food up here for me.

 NJ:  Food?  There is absolutely no eating allowed on this shelf, Ms. Lizzie.  Now let’s start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name?

Lizzie:  It’s my married name, which is Elizabeth Chantree. My closest friends and family have always called me Lizzie. I also paint under the name Beth Juniper, which is an abbreviation of my maiden name.

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

Lizzie:  I was born by the coast, in a town called Southend. I don’t live there now, but it is only a short drive away. I live on the outskirts of London.

 NJ:  Yes, we could tell from your interview earlier today that you were mighty “Brit” as we say on this side of the pond.  (At least the side that I live on).  Are you married or single?

Lizzie:  Married.

 NJ:  Kids or no?  If yes, how many?  Sons or Daughters?

Lizzie:  I have two beautiful daughters, who are energetic and fill me with inspiration every day.

NJ:  Oh well,  you must read THE GOOD MOMMIES’ GUIDE TO RAISING (ALMOST) PERFECT DAUGHTERS by that uber-Mommy, Nonnie Jules! (By the way , I shall remain in this uber state until my children write that tell-all, they keep threatening me with.)

b7a351c92f470a90c7b8b2.L

So, Lizzie, out of those two amazing daughters, which one is your favorite? (And be honest…I’m sure they’re not reading this interview):

Lizzie:  I really don’t have a favorite. They are both so different. One was poorly for many years when she was very young and still smiled through it all, and the other went through long periods of worry about her sister, but stayed strong and has grown into an amazing young woman. They amaze me!

NJ:  Young woman?  You look like the young woman!  I imagine you to have toddlers!  My goodness, you girls age so well.  OK, moving right along…any pets in the Chantree household?  If so, what kind?  (I sure hope it’s a dog).

Lizzie:  A very fluffy dog named Pepper. She is a cross between a Poodle and a Spaniel. She is an allergy dog, which means she doesn’t drop hair or cause breathing problems for anyone. She carries stones around with her all day and sleeps on my feet, even if I stand still for just a few minutes! I have fallen over her many times. She follows me everywhere.

Gorilla clapping

(Woo Hoo!  She has a dog!)

 

NJ: Lizzie, what is your favorite food?

Lizzie:  All food! My absolute favorite is nachos with chilli con carne, sour cream and cheese.

NJ:  You are much too tiny to love all food.  Honey, this is me loving all food…

Big belly wonder woman.jpg

So, I think it’s safe to say that I definitely don’t love all food.  What’s your favorite color?

Lizzie:  Blue. Every tone of blue.

NJ:  OK.  What about your favorite sport?

Lizzie:  Athletics. But I enjoy lots of different sports.

big eyed confused dog

 NJ:  This next round of questions will go really fast.  You have to be quick in your responses, or you’ll miss something.  Favorite TV Show…

Lizzie:  I love reality TV. I find it all so funny!

NJ:  Favorite Actress/Actor:

Lizzie:  Meryl Streep.

 NJ:  Couch potato or workout nut? Be honest .

Lizzie:  I’m not a couch potato, I move around too much. I love working from anywhere, so I walk to a coffee shop, or go to sit by the sea to write. I love exercise, but I should do more than I currently do.

NJ:  Biggest pet peeve that makes you want to stomach-punch somebody?: (For the record, NJ does not condone violence but she does believe in being honest so she has to admit that there are times when she feels like some friendly stomach-punching is a little necessary).

Lizzie:  People who put other people down. This really, really, annoys me! I don’t believe that kindness is a weakness. In fact it makes you stronger. You don’t have to drag anyone else down to get where you’re going. Lift others up and help them along on their journey. A little kindness goes a long way.

 NJ:  Good response.  Are you neat or messy?

Lizzie:  I’m a neat, messy person. I’m creative! Are there any obsessively neat creative people out there? I love clean surfaces, as I then have a lovely space to sit or work, but open a drawer and you will either find an array of papers, paints and goodness knows what else, or my various flavors of bubblegum, which I hide from the children in my office.  I love bubblegum!

 NJ:  Obsessively Neat?  ME!  Creative?  ME! ME! & ME! So there!   Facebook or Twitter?

Lizzie:  Twitter. I think it’s fabulous. Plus, with 140 characters, you have to be creative about your wording or photos. It’s a brilliant way to connect with readers and authors. I have met so many people who run businesses, sculpt, photograph, travel, design and simply enjoy interacting with others on Twitter. I rarely automate my account as it is full of things I discover daily that interest me. It is time consuming, but productive.

NJ:  Yes, Twitter is my thing, too.  Name two of the most supportive people you’ve met on either Facebook or Twitter? Hurry and tell us so we can become their friend.

Lizzie:  Only two? There are so many great people out there! Gordon Bickerstaff / @ADPase is a huge support.  I met him through RRBC, and he’s  friendly and gives his time to tell the world about other author’s work, mine included.

 NJ:  Nonnie Jules or Wonderwoman? Be honest.

Lizzie:  You are a bit of a Wonderwoman to be honest, Nonnie! My sister and I used to love watching Wonderwoman as we were growing up. She represented a strong woman with a busy life, who still took the time to help others. Sound familiar…..

 NJ:  Of course, it does.  Thanks, Lizzie!  I also watched her as a child and whenever there are re-runs on of the show, I still stand up (look around to make sure no one’s watching) and I spin and spin and spin, until I have on my imaginary WW attire!  Takes a lot more spins than it did when I was younger, and could spin faster but… anyway.  So, everyone knows the names Mark Twain and Stephen King but how about you give us two names of some INDIE authors that you favor:

Lizzie:  I must admit my kindle is jammed packed with indie author’s books I have not tried before, from RRBC. Before joining, I used to pick my favorite genre, which is ChickLit. Now I have stories from all walks of life that I haven’t read before.

I really enjoyed Rebecca Reilly’s, Into Dark Waters and am looking forward to reading more of her work.

 NJ:  After you read books, do you post reviews?

Lizzie:  Yes. As long as I finish reading the book. As an author I know how important it is to have reviews.

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

Lizzie:  Their enjoyment of the story and how they connect with the characters or theme.

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?

Lizzie:  Lol! I’m not afraid of being honest. I won’t review anything I don’t enjoy, though. I don’t see the point of putting someone else’s work down. I just don’t say anything. I know many people feel a bad review is constructive, but some people take this to the extreme and I don’t think it’s necessary. A good review for a book you loved is just as honest as saying nothing for one you don’t.  If I gave a book I was bored with a top review, then I could see the issue.

 NJ:  Yes, some people do take this to the extreme but you don’t have to tear anyone down to give a poor mark on a review.  I think all are necessary, as long as you’re being honest. Read any poorly written books lately?

Lizzie:  Yes. I have read a few that I started and then didn’t finish.

NJ:  Are you an author?

Lizzie:  Yes!

NJ:  How long have you been writing?

Lizzie:  I started writing as a teen and I have loved reading since I discovered The Hobbit at school. I wrote my first novel, Babe Driven when my daughter was unwell, to keep myself awake at night. I didn’t publish it until her health started to improve, five years later. I didn’t approach any publishers at that time. I read an article about an author who had self-published and the whole process fascinated me. Babe Driven is full of the sunshine and laughter I didn’t have in my life at that time. I was just a whole ball of stress!

NJ:  WOW.  I can’t think of a better way to pass the time, or to relieve stress than writing, myself.  So, what books have you written?

BABE DRIVEN

Babe Driven by Lizzie Chantree

LOVE’S CHILD

Love's Child by Lizzie Chantree

FINDING GINA

Finding Gina by Lizzie Chantree

NJ:  Which one do you think is the best?

Lizzie:  I love them all, but BABE DRIVEN holds a special place in my heart because I was under so much pressure when I wrote it, but I still finished the story. I may have been a hysterical wreck by that time though!

NJ:  Lizzie, do you have a blog or website?

Lizzie:  I do.

My blog is: https://lizziechantree.com

My website: https://writewithsydney.co.uk

NJ:  Name three great online resources or organizations that every author should belong to…

Lizzie:  RRBC! I’m sure everyone must say that!

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

Lizzie:  RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!  I cannot thank the enough the person who for introduced me to this book club, just as I had published my first book, Babe Driven. I was trying to learn as much as I could about publishing and months later had been offered my first book deal, but meeting so many inspirational authors was just what I needed to stop me feeling isolated from people by working alone.

NJ:  RRBC has helped so many and been a constant source of inspiration, as well, but how have you been helped by them?

Lizzie:  It helped me to decide to stick with being an indie author for now. I was worried that taking my book down from Amazon for months or a year without another of my books being ready to print, would mean the loss of all of the wonderful people who have enjoyed my first novel and supported a new author on her journey. Who knows, I may have found more book lovers via a traditionally published book, but I didn’t want to loose the readers I already have. There were other factors involved, but it was a really hard decision. I learnt from the experience and the publisher involved was patient, kind and helpful, giving me some breathing space to decide what was right for me at that time.

 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?

Lizzie:  I have met so many talented people and I love to see what they are up to next! I often look at the RRBC website to see whose book I can find and which one to tweet about.

NJ:  Lizzie, have you come across any other online entities like RRBC?

Lizzie:  No.

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

Lizzie:  I have! All of them!

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

Lizzie:  RRBC is a place of mutual support. It’s not here for anyone to sit by the window in the drizzling rain, watching the party from outside. Dive in and tell everyone about yourself. Wave your arms around and tell us who you are. Join the forums and stop by blogs. Raise a glass to your fellow members and shout out about their work. Most of all, enjoy being part of the RRBC family!

NJ:  Very well said!  Lizzie, thank you for joining me ON THE SHELF today!  And thank you for those very kind words of me and RRBC.  And on a personal level, thanks for checking in on me.  (You know what I’m talking about).  It was very thoughtful of you.

To my guests, please support Lizzie by picking up a copy of one of her books above.   You can also support her by visiting the blog stops along her tour which ends on Saturday.  You can find the tour line up here.

Have you joined RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB yet?  Well, here’s your chance!  And since Lizzie  was on the “SHELF” today, tell them she sent you. Take care and we’ll see you next time, right here on the shelf, with another AMAZING RRBC member!

#RRBC, DO YOU FEEL SUPPORTED HERE?

Well, are you being SUPPORTIVE?

English bulldog funny face

Some of you might not like what I’m about to say in this blog, but you know what I say to that?  Too bad, get over it and if the shoe fits, then you wear it. (If the shoe doesn’t fit, then sit back, prop your feet up and enjoy the refreshments).

During our  BACK TO SCHOOL BOOK & BLOG BLOCK PARTY last September, and THE HOLIDAY TRAIN “BOOK TRAILER” BLOCK PARTY which was last December, every day tons of prizes were given away and all you had to do for a chance at winning, was to stop by a blog and leave a comment.  During that time, you all showed up in droves.  Many of you, every day, I might add!

Now, our BACK TO SCHOOL BOOK & BLOG BLOCK PARTY and THE HOLIDAY TRAIN “BOOK TRAILER” BLOCK PARTY have ended (until the next time), and although we still have  blog tours going on for our members, such as the bi-monthly blog tours for “SPOTLIGHT” Authors, we already know before the tours begin, who’s going to show up to support.  It’s always the same people, the core of RRBC, the uber-supportive, the few, super-awesome members of the RRBC family.  Why have I labeled “these” members so highly?  Well, they show up and leave comments when there are prizes to be won and they also show up and leave comments, when there aren’t. 

We work hard supporting each other here and we also work hard putting these awesome programs into place for ALL members to enjoy, yet, it’s almost like pulling teeth when we go looking for those members deserving of the seats in the RRBC house.  Sadly, they’re very hard t0 find.

For those of you who are wondering HOW members are selected to fill these seats, well, let me make it crystal clear for all.  We look at each member’s support level.  We look to see how they’re supporting on social media, we look at how they are doing in the reviews department, and we even take notice of how often they are supporting the blog tours and events of their fellow members.

Now, before some of you jump on your high-horse with, “Well, I work every day!” and “I’m too busy with life to just…”  Notice I didn’t finish that sentence because I didn’t want to take that away from those of you who want us to know what you’re too busy with, to drop a little support every now and again around here.  Once you get down, then watch me climb on my high, high horse.  Now that I’m seated here comfortably,  guess what?  I’m pretty sure we all work every day.  I know I do, and although I never leave my home for work, I spend probably 15-18 hours PER day, working here to make this place great for all of you!  Any member of my board can tell you that on a good day, my days begin around 5:30 a.m. and they don’t end typically sometimes, until the next morning, between 1 a.m and 2:30 a.m…sometimes even later.  I’m not asking any of you to work or even function on a schedule like mine because it’s crazy,  but, if you sit in that knowledge for just a moment, then you can appreciate how much time I don’t have, yet, I still find the time to support my fellow members.  I’m just one example.

We have members in our midst who have serious disabilities, but you know what, they are among our elite and our most supportive.  Members who are blind, who are losing their eyesight, who have missing limbs, in wheel chairs, with brain injuries, those who suffer with debilitating diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinsons, Lupus, etc., and yet, they are among our core of usual supporters.  And if they can do it, then there shouldn’t be a hint of excuse in the rest of us.  You know, the rest of us who are extra blessed to have our eyesight, to have all our limbs, to be in total control of our faculties…if they can do it, what excuse could we possibly have, for not?

Some members are even honored with RRBC seats and after they’ve taken all they can, they leave!  After we have pushed them, supported them, BOUGHT THEIR BOOKS, they don’t even stick around to return the support!  That’s infuriating but, we’ll save that for another blog.

Just because we’re not advertising that prizes could be won when you support a “SPOTLIGHT” Author blog tour, doesn’t mean that you won’t be a winner.  You see, when you support a “SPOTLIGHT” Author blog tour, by simply stopping along the tour a couple of days during that week (you don’t have to show up every day), when you support our Member of the Month by dropping by their page and congratulating them and then joining in their #MemberOfTheMonth Monday support day on social media;  when you support our Books of the Month by joining in a monthly discussion, when you tune in to our RAVE WAVES BlogTalkRadio shows and join in the conversation on Twitter during the shows, even when you drop by to show your support of a “SPOTLIGHT” Author’s “WHO’S ON THE SHELF” interview,  then you are positioning yourself to hold your own  fabulous RRBC seat, such as: BOOK OF THE MONTH, “SPOTLIGHT” AUTHOR, MEMBER OF THE MONTH, MEMBER OF THE WEEK, RAVE WAVES BLOGTALK RADIO GUEST, and so many more wonderful opportunities to be supported, that I wish I had the time to list here.

I’m getting off my soapbox now, because I’m getting dizzy being up so high (I really don’t know how some of you do it every day) but, let me leave you with this:  RRBC is an international organization of support.  You couldn’t be in the company of a more loving and giving community.  Why not jump right in, get to know these people who can “push” you, “propel” you and who can be your greatest support system, already in place, when and for whatever you need.   You are the only one standing in your way.  We say this over and over and over again, but I guess it’s just not clicking with some of you…so, we’ll say it again and again and again…to be supported here, you HAVE TO be a supporter here.  Let me put it another way:  those that are most supportive here are the ones who are MOST SUPPORTED here.   I really hope you got it that time, but in the event you didn’t, check out these tutorials on how to become more supportive here at RRBC:

*Writing the Almost Perfect Book Review by Beem Weeks

Take care, RRBC, and we’ll be looking for you to help us close out the month by showing your support at some of our club events, as well.

*BOOK OF THE MONTH CLUB DISCUSSION on Wednesday, 3/30/16, 11 AM Central Time (see sidebar widget for location)

If you can’t or won’t help your fellow man, then please remember, it is within your power to not hurt him, either.

JAN HAWKE in “WHO’S ON THE SHELF WITH NONNIE JULES?”

Hello and welcome to “WHO’S ON THE SHELF?” with yours truly, Nonnie Jules!  Since we are a book club, we had to offer something that included a book shelf.  A lot of interviews merely cover an author’s work or an individual’s career stories.  Here on this “SHELF,”  we get down and dirty and ask the questions no other interviewer dare ask.  We ask the questions that you want to open up a book and find the answers to on your favorite authors and fellow book club members, but no one has dared to cover them.  WE get personal!  Because when you sit on the RRBC “SHELF,” YOU are an open book!

Today, I have with me on the “SHELF” our Current “SPOTLIGHT” Author, JAN HAWKE!  Jan comes in slowly, like a Tiger, tipping up on its prey…to the tune of CIRCLE OF LIFE from the “LION KING,” as we know how much she likes jungles! I just want her to feel comfortable…and at home here. 

warhag

(I will definitely let Jan explain this one)

NJ:  Before we get started, Jan, how does the “shelf” feel to you? Is it comfy?

Jan:  Very! Although I hope it’s sturdy too – if we hear creaking we’d better evacuate as I’m no lightweight!

NJ:  Well, I did hear a little something, but I didn’t want to say anything…(NJ puts on her life jacket.  Tells Jan she’s a little cold).  Let’s start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name?

Jan:  It’s my married name. However, I’m about to start using another nom de plume for my fantasy writing – Sîan Glírdan, which is Welsh and Elvish for Jan(e) the Bard (literally a wordsmith) after my fantasy elven role-playing persona – the wordsmith aspect does reflect my birth name a little, as that’s a Scottish variant of the clan name ‘Gow’, which was traditionally associated with the occupation of metalsmithing.

NJ:  (You know, when I saw that this interview ran into twelve pages on paper, I thought…no, let me retract, I hoped it was because she had hit the return key too many times, accidentally.  Already I can tell this lady’s got a lot to say).

English bulldog funny face

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 Plymouth in south-west Devon – the last port of call for taking on European passengers for the Mayflower before it crossed the Atlantic in 1620.
I moved away to the outer London area (when I got married) for nearly 30 years, but we moved back to the South West in 2003 and I now live in a tiny village near Launceston in north-east Cornwall.

NJ:  We were all very sorry to hear of your loss last year.  Would you like to share a bit more with us?

Jan:  Yes, I am recently widowed – 2016 would have been our 40th wedding anniversary so I may do something special to mark the day with some close friends and family.

NJ:  Again, we were, and all are, still here for you, Jan.  You’re not alone.  So, do you have any kids? If yes, how many? Sons or Daughters?

Jan:  No human children – I do have 2 fur baby sons, Toby and Benji who are English Springer Spaniels (well, Benji’s a collie cross-bred, but his nature’s all spaniel!). They’re a handful, but I love them dearly.

NJ:  Which one is your favorite? (And be honest…I’m sure they’re not reading this interview)…

Jan:  LOL! No, they won’t be reading this! I have to say that it’s Toby – even though he’s the youngest, and the one who gets into trouble most. He’s been with me longest, since he was just out of puppy-hood and is still just a big baby. They’re both rescue dogs, so they came to us with those names, but they do suit them.

You have an answer for that already! Before we moved back to Cornwall we always had cats as we didn’t have the space or time to look after a dog properly (I had a minimum 3-hour round-trip commute on a good day!). That meant cats won because they’re a lot less work and see to walking themselves! I couldn’t have a cat now as Toby loves to chase them too much, and hasn’t got the intelligence to take on board that cats are meaner and much more intelligent than him – and I couldn’t stand to see him scratched up…

NJ:  Uh, Jan, I’m sorry that my people didn’t inform you that we’re not allowed to even say the word “cat” on this shelf.  (Somebody’s head is going to roll for this one!)  Jan, what’s your favorite food?

Jan:  Ahhh – well I have a sweet tooth, but my big vices are for chocolate, strawberries and meringues. I do love Italian cooking as well, so pasta and pizza are favourites. I like most things really, although I’m not keen on leafy green veggies – that’s mainly due to my upbringing, though. My mum used to boil anything green to death – with bicarbonate of soda, so it all tasted like stinky green slime! I still have to swallow sprouts whole – if I try to chew them, they just won’t go down!

NJ:  Jan, I’m a green veggie lover and was about to run and enjoy my green smoothie that I have chilling in the fridge now, but you may have ruined that for me.  Try not to ruin this next one for me, OK?  Tell us what your favorite color is, please.

Jan:  Cool colours – blue-greens mostly

NJ:  Before I even heard your response, I said it was green!  #Promise!  WOW!  I’m really good!  So, do you have a favorite sport?

Jan:  Ugh! Not a sporty person at all. Most team sports are anathema to me – although I sometimes indulge in watching large, muddy, muscular men playing rugby during the wintry UK months… I quite like the gladiatorial spirit of tennis occasionally, but that may have more to do with the tradition of eating strawberries and cream (and possibly drinking fizzy wine) while I watch the Wimbledon finals.

big eyed confused dog

Huh???

NJ:  Jan, you’re going to make my eyes pop right out of my head with these responses.  Can you give me a simple one to my next question?  What’s your favorite TV Show?

Jan:  Very, very difficult one (looking nervously in Nonnie’s direction…) It’s a toss-up between The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones – so, whichever’s running the newest series.

NJ:  OK, that was a lot less confusing than your response to my sports question, that’s for sure!  Who’s your favorite Actress/Actor?

Jan:  One of each? (shuffles into the deepest recesses of the shelf, away from that edge…) Meryl Streep and the late, great Alan Rickman.

NJ:  I love Meryl!  You can scooch back over now.  Are you a couch potato or workout nut? Be honest.

Jan:  No hedging – physically I’m a couch potato with extra honey-butter and full metal recliner with reiki massager… Mentally and emotionally, I’m Lucy Lawless in full-throttle Xena-mode!

NJ:  So, basically, this is you…

Dog sleeping on treadmill

(SMH = Shaking my head).  OK, Jan, tell us your biggest pet peeve that makes you want to stomach-punch somebody? (For the record, NJ does not condone violence but she does believe in being honest so she has to admit that there are times when she feels like some friendly stomach-punching is a little necessary).

Jan:  Hmmm – have to think about this one a bit. Inconsistency of the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ variety. Particularly people who behave like spoiled little kids, but get antsy when other people do the same to them…

NJ:  “People who behave like spoiled little kids?”  Have you been speaking to my husband, Jan?  Don’t believe a word he says!  So, are you neat or messy?

Jan:  Messier than neat, so long it’s not dirty? Constant and meticulous neatness creeps me out to be honest – I prefer things ‘homesy’ and comfortably casual, rather than leaping around with a duster and plumping cushions the whole time. Plus, Toby and Benji like to make forts out of cushions, so I’d be fighting a losing battle trying to keep them in one place – it’s their home too, after all! 😉
… (I’m still getting the island banishment, aren’t I? 😉

NJ:  Darn tootin’ you are!  Facebook or Twitter?

Jan:  Twitter – it’s simpler and less time-consuming, plus you can ignore it quite easily (well I can). Facebook is a little too much for me really, although I admit it’s quite useful to have an author page on there to point non-bookish friends to, and for random link ups.

NJ:  Twitter’s my choice, as well.  Jan, name two of the most supportive people you’ve met on either Facebook or Twitter? Hurry and tell us so we can become their friend.

Jan:  You already know them…

NJ:  I do?

Jan:  Yes, Nonnie Jules and Harmony Kent.

NJ:  Oh, scooch back over here, Jan.  That was so sweet of you to say, and there’s no way you could ‘accidentally’ fall from way up here after that!  Just no way.  Now, here’s a hard one…Nonnie Jules or Wonderwoman? Be honest.

Jan:  Wonderwho…? Has to be Nonnie – Wonderwoman’s an ad myth (or is that the Wonderbra?).  Anyway, WW and her bra are both over-inflated and I hate wires in undergarments…

NJ:  (Looking up and down at herself in the mirror) I don’t see any underwires there.  What are you talking about, Jan?

Fat Wonder Woman

Anyway, everyone knows the names Mark Twain and Stephen King but how about you give us two names of some INDIE authors that you favor:

Jan:  Ted Farrar and Harmony Kent.

NJ:  What is it about them that you’ve come to like?

Jan:  Ted’s debut novel ‘Dreamers’ is a dark contemporary fantasy that’s at once brutally down to earth and ethereally quixotic, with a large slice of originality. He gave me my very first 5-star review (the first 5-star review he’d ever written too!), because it took him back to smoky campfires out in the bush with a beer in hand, after looking for strange toads and newts all day!

Harmony’s just awesome and always a pleasure to read because she doesn’t get pinned down into any one genre, unless there’s one for quirky! FINDING KATIE is my favourite of hers to date, simply because it’s got the ring of truth about it all the way through, even though it’s subject matter is so dark.

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

Jan:  ‘A Glimmer of Guile’ by my friend Mary Patterson Thornburg.
I’m also a fan of RRBC’s C.S. BoyackPANAMA was another quirky ‘wee small hours’ book. Any writer that can put Billy the Kid and hoodoo together convincingly has to be a good bet and, as I read more of his titles, I’m turning into this big fan girl

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

Jan:  Dreamers by Ted Farrar.

NJ:  After you read books, do you post reviews?

Jan:  Eventually, yes. I was quite organized up until spring last year and always reviewed right after I finished a book, but since my husband died I seem to need to read more and get to the reviews as and when. I’m trying to get a little more disciplined again because I have about a dozen titles I need to write up now, so it’s getting too unmanageable.

NJ:  Jan, what do you think readers should base their reviews on?

Jan:  How much they enjoyed reading the book. If the story’s good I can forgive bad grammar and typos up to a point, especially if it doesn’t keep tripping you out of the ‘moment’.

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:  Definitely to be honest, but keep it polite and constructive. If it’s a gut thing and I can’t say for definite WHY I didn’t like it (usually because I couldn’t finish it) then I most likely won’t leave a review at all, as it’s not worth the effort to try and analyse it to death. If I do know why I gave it the thumbs down and it’s more to do with editorial, than stylistics, and if the storyline had some merit, then I might contact the author with some constructive comments, rather than saddle them with a snarky, destructive 1 or 2-star review.  If a book’s just not your thing and you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything – especially if it’s got lots of positive reviews. Why rain on their parade, just because I happen to not like their genre, or using present tense (or whatever) particularly…

NJ:  Read any poorly written books lately?

Jan:  Oh, yes – more than one!

NJ:  Where’s your review so I can go and check it out?  No, seriously.

Jan:  They’re not written up yet – they’ll be polite as they weren’t totally awful, and one had quite a good concept that had been mishandled, rather than completely botched. Also too much telling and not enough showing, but everyone struggles with that at times, of course.

NJ:  Are you an author?

Jan:  Yes

NJ:  How long have you been writing?

Jan:  Seriously, since 2005 on Milele Safari, but I’ve always written for my own amusement on and off since leaving high school – way back in 1974 (you can do the math – I can’t say it!).

NJ:  What books have you written?

Jan:  MILELE SAFARI

Milele Safari original cover by Jan Hawke

Dreamless Roads – a fantasy anthology – (3 short stories in that, BUT THIS TITLE IS NOT IN THE RRBC CATALOG); and 2 shorts in the first RAVE SOUP FOR THE WRITER’S SOUL Anthology:

Rave Soup

NJ:  Which one do you think is the best?

Jan:  MILELE SAFARI – I put a lot of myself into that and much of it was written when I’d had some tough times, so I was drawing on some really dark stuff I’d been going through. Plus, it’s about Africa, which I’m just enthralled with.

NJ:  Do you have a blog or website?

Jan:  My blog is Jan Hawke INKorporated –  and my old website that has a lot of my poetry and artwork displayed, is Jan the Diva

NJ:  Jan, I’ve seen photos of you wrapped in your fancy furs and the first thing that came to mind:  DIVA! LOL!  Would you name three great online resources or organizations that every author should belong to?

Jan:  Of course, RRBC is top of my list, simply because there’s so much you can get out of being a member, as well as helping other folks out, which is always good karma!
LinkedIn’s been useful in a very selective and deliberate way, in that I connected with several people on there (like Ted Farrar) who’ve been instrumental in the learning curve of becoming an indie author and publisher, finding a really good POD supplier, and in fact, referring me onto RRBC too.

As a pure resource, I’m split between Wikipedia and Google Earth as research tools – Wiki’s not always reliable of course, but it’s great for getting ideas on where to go and look for proper sources. Google Earth actually helped me map out an overland trip for my characters from Mwanza on Lake Victoria to the Rwandan border in Tanzania, which was really fun to do and gave me lots to work with, including coffee plantations and a gold mine, as well as the beautiful lake and mountains!

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

Jan:  Definitely RRBC!

NJ:  How were you helped by the club, Jan?

Jan:  I’m unbelievably hopeless at marketing and promo, so joining has helped me to learn how not to be terrified of Twitter, FB and blogging and also got me into making book trailers, which I hadn’t even heard of before I joined.

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:  Online communities can be scary places so I’ve always been drawn to more creative ones and even then the ‘clique-ism’ you can encounter is very draining. None of that with RRBC – you find friends and help everywhere and it quickly gets to feel more like a family scene, especially once you get into the support avenues.

NJ:  I totally agree, Jan.  I’m curious to know, have you come across any other online entities like RRBC?

Jan:  No – certainly not any book clubs, on or offline.

NJ:  Yes, RRBC is truly one-of-a-kind!  Many will try and duplicate but they won’t be able to get it just the way we have it here.  Would you recommend it to your friends and family?

Jan:  Whenever I can decently bring it up in conversation!

NJ:  That’s great, Jan!  Everyone should remember that RRBC membership is not just for authors, it’s for readers, too!  Well, Jan, this shelf is getting hard on my hiney, so we’re going to wrap this interview up. Any final words?

Jan:  Apart from a huge thank you for having me over, Nonnie, just to say to writers who’ve yet to get themselves published (indie or no), keep doing what you love most and take pride in your achievements, even if the reviews and sales don’t come quickly, or at all. You do a remarkable thing in creating something from nothing every time you pick up a pen, or sit down behind that keyboard. If you feel discouraged and need some company and/or help, then RRBC’s there to give it to you – all you need to do is reach out and you’ll find all the understanding, support and, best of all, friends you’ve always dreamt of!

NJ:  Jan, thank you for joining me ON THE SHELF today.  I’m sure you had a good time (being as though you didn’t end up on the floor…hehehe).  To my guests, please support Jan by picking up a copy of her book above.   You can also support her by visiting the blog stops on her tour which ends on Saturday.  You can find the tour line up here.  

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. Take care and we’ll see you next time, right here on the shelf, with another AMAZING RRBC member!

**Please join Jan for her RAVE WAVES BLOGTALK Radio interview on BRING ON THE SPOTLIGHT, today at 11 AM CST!  Here’s the link to the show page and you can also tune in directly to the interview by clicking here!**

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