Tag Archives: On the Shelf

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!

20180717_085039

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!!

 

Natalie Ducey in “WHO’S ON THE SHELF” w/NonnieJules – #RRBC #RWISA @NatalieDucey

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

Today, we have a very special guest on the SHELF with us,  member, NATALIE DUCEY!  Natalie is our “SPOTLIGHT” Author for the month of September and we have been celebrating her all month long.  This week, she gets to sit on the shelf with me!

Natalie Ducey - My first catch in 25 years

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

Natalie:  Yes, it’s quite comfy up here. I love the décor, too!

NJ:  Why, thank you, Natalie!  I wasn’t sure about these colors, but you have just affirmed that my choices  were the right ones!  Let’s get started by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name?

Natalie:  Natalie Ducey is my married name.

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

Natalie:  I was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. My husband and I moved to Petawawa, Ontario, Canada in 2005, when he was posted as a serving member of the Canadian Armed Forces.

NJ:  Interesting!  I see that you’re married…how long now?

Natalie:  We just recently celebrated our 14th Anniversary.

NJ:  Impressive!  And, a hearty CONGRATS, too!  Any kids?

Natalie:  No children.

NJ:  Any pets? If so, what kind?

Natalie:  Our little dog, Bella, is our baby girl. She is a Lhasa Apso and Poodle mix.

NJ:  She sounds confused.  And, I imagine her looking like this:

Confused dog

(Am I off base?  Just a little?)

Natalie, what’s the food that’s so good to you, you go to bed dreaming about it, and you forego breakfast just to get to it?

Natalie:  Chicken Pad Thai.

NJ:  Hmmmm, sounds interesting (also sounds like something I wouldn’t eat.  My taste buds are just so particular and finnicky).  What’s your favorite color?

Natalie:  Teal blue.

NJ: I like teal, too!  Do you have a favorite sport?

Natalie:  I love kayaking. Hockey, however, is my favorite sport to watch.

NJ:  How about your current favorite TV Show:

Natalie:  I just discovered the new show “This is Us.” I absolutely love it. The narrative and cast are just fabulous.

NJ:  Favorite Actress/Actor:

Natalie:  Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson.

NJ:  Both legends, aren’t they?  Do you like to exercise to stay fit OR do you not mind just letting it all go?

Natalie:  Due to my disability (Spinal Cord Injury of C5 & C6 vertebrae in 1992), regular exercise is essential to maintain my strength and flexibility. I really enjoy using a rower, as it feels much like kayaking.

NJ:  OK.  Good for you on keeping up on exercise so that you don’t let your disability rule your life.  Natalie, what is your biggest pet peeve that makes you want to spit nails? (For the record, NJ does not condone violence, but she does believe in being honest so she admits that there are those times and there are those people, who do cause her to want to spit a few nails in the direction of their foreheads. Hey, just being honest. It’s the only way I roll).

Natalie:  Negativity. It’s exhausting to be around negative people.

NJ:  So, are you neat or messy?

Natalie:  Definitely more on the neat side.

Smiling dog

NJ:  Natalie, you don’t know just how happy that makes me, hearing that you’re a neatie!  So, Facebook or Twitter?

Natalie:  I use both, but I prefer Twitter for the interaction and engagement.

NJ:  Me, too, Natalie.  Not a FB fan but am in love with Mr. Twitter. (I hope he’s a Mr.)  We’ve come to realize that the internet is giving way to tons of budding friendships. Who would you say is the one person you’ve connected with the most…your internet BFF or buddy?

Natalie:  I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with so many incredible people via online. All are such warm, compassionate souls.

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

Natalie:  Nonnie Jules, of course!

Chi dog smiling

(Oh, Natalie, you’re tickling me!  And I’m blushing!)

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

Natalie:  Nonnie, your dedication and generosity of spirit has enriched so many lives in a multitude of ways. That’s a remarkable achievement. Cheers to you!

NJ:  Oh, Natalie, don’t stop!  I mean, stop…

Cheesing dog

Name two favorite INDIE books that you’ve read.

Natalie:  Just two? Oh dear… Acts Beyond Redemption (Unintended Consequences Series) by Suzanne Burke is a nonstop, intense thrill ride. I have the second book in the series on my Kindle and can’t wait to delve in. Also, Letting Go into Perfect Love by Gwen Plano is a deeply moving, penetrating story.

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

Natalie:  The Point Pleasant series by Mae Clair is a must read!

NJ:  What was so great about it?

Natalie:  In this three-book series, Mae seamlessly weaves folklore, paranormal, suspense, thriller, and a little romance in a highly engaging story. The character development is exceptional and the pace is intense! In true form, Mae never falls to engage all our senses. As a reader, it’s impossible not to be immersed in her stories. I highly recommend it!

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

Natalie:  Absolutely! But it wasn’t until I published my first book that I really understood how essential reviews are.  Reviews are vital and they can, essentially, be the gatekeepers of an author’s success. A book without reviews can be a hard sell, especially if you’re an unknown author. Reviews entice readers in one of two directions: to read or not to read. An author’s goal is to entice readers to purchase their work, and, hopefully, return with a positive review. And purchase another book!

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

Natalie:  I base my reviews on whether or not I thoroughly enjoyed the story and/or have been deeply moved by it. Great reads stay with me, and that’s powerful. A book that doesn’t quite hold my attention may be a good book, it just didn’t pull me in fully. Another reader may love it. So, in my reviews I often refer to how it made me feel and why. It could be the eloquent writing style, well-developed characters, intricately woven plot and subplots, perfectly paced, an unforgettable story, etc. I should note, however, that if a book is riddled with spelling and grammar errors it’s impossible to thoroughly enjoy it.

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

Natalie:  I’m always honest with my reviews. I refer to how the book made me feel and why. I may not love the book, but it may be a good story. There’s always something I enjoyed, and I highlight this in my review.

As authors, it’s our responsibility to publish polished work. There will always be someone who doesn’t thoroughly enjoy our work because of personal preference, style, etc. That’s okay. Constructive feedback can be invaluable and help us gauge our writing. But, it’s also important not to let the “haters” skew our voice. I have yet to meet one, but I think it’s inevitable in this anonymous online world.  So, let’s support one another in our shared passion of writing with honest, constructive reviews!

NJ:  There’s always something you enjoy?  In every read?  WOW!  You’re an angel!  I can honestly say that as many books as I’ve read, there were many that left a horrible taste in my mouth, so unfortunately, I can’t say the same.  This brings me to my next question, though…have you read any poorly written books lately?

Natalie:  Not lately.

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

Natalie:  I see no value in this at all. It’s a disservice to the author and the industry as a whole. Also, as a writer, this practice could easily tarnish my integrity in this profession.

NJ:  Good answer!  I wish everyone felt the same way when it came to reviews.  Unfortunately, we live in a world of “nice” and “fear.”  I find that these two should never be the guiding factors in reviews.  You can be kind in reviews, and you don’t have to tear anyone down, either, but, in the end, honesty is the only thing that will help the author improve as a writer.  There’s a place for nice and it’s on the playground.  There’s a place for fear, and it’s on the battlefield.  I cannot stress enough that with reviews, HONESTY is the only way to go.

Natalie, there are some INDIE authors who have come onto the scene and have given our literary playing field a new look. Can you name two INDIE authors who have done this in your eyes? And, how do you think they have changed the field for us?

Natalie:  Some of my favorite books were written by Indie Authors. The talent in this industry (community) is incredible. I believe the path of publication should never dictate an author’s success. As a whole, I think we’re moving in a positive direction.
As writers, I believe it’s our duty to honour the craft of writing. Producing poor quality work is a disservice to the craft, the industry as a whole, and most definitely the readers who expect and deserve a product they can ultimately enjoy.

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

Natalie:  I am an author of two collections of poetry, and both have been well received.
Poetry is such a subjective form of art; I leave it up to the readers to decide. It is my hope that readers will connect with the verses in a way that is cathartic and soothing. I hope they can travel back with welcomed reflection, find solace and wisdom in the present, and feel inspired for the journey that lies before them. This is what I aspire to achieve.

NJ:  Well, poet to poet, keep on writing.  Natalie, how long have you been writing?

Natalie:  I penned my first poem in January 2014. It was cathartic and liberating. I felt lost in the chaos of life. Writing was/is my saving grace; it was the light that guided me home.

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

Natalie:  Yes, of course. I believe constructive feedback can be invaluable and help us gauge our writing.

NJ:  Natalie, that is awesome, especially as a member of RWISA.  There, we have to all be willing to hear things about our work that might catch us off guard, but ultimately, will make us better writers.  Name two books that you’ve written?

*THE HEART’S JOURNEY HOME

The Hearts Journey Home by Natalie Ducey

*THE HEART’S LULLABY

The Heart's Lullaby by Natalie Ducey

NJ:  Which one do you think is the best?

Natalie:  This is a tough one! Every poem is unique to a specific emotion and place in time. It’s real, raw, and poignant. However, in THE HEART’S LULLABY, I delve deeper and explore/translate the intricate beauty that lies within our hearts. My journey as a self-published author has been a remarkable one. The freedom to chart my own course, thus taking ownership of every step is liberating and a precious gift for a creative soul.

NJ:  Do you have a blog or website? I love GREAT blogs, so would you say that yours is written well enough for harsh critics like me to enjoy?

Natalie:  I do have a website/blog. I think it’s a must for every author. A place that welcomes and engages readers and reflects a writer’s style. Nonnie, I’d love for you to drop by for a visit.

NJ:  And I shall do that very soon!  Thanks for the invite!  Which online resource or organization has helped you as an author the most?

Natalie:  RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

NJ:   How were you helped by them?

Natalie:  Joining Rave Reviews Book Club is the best decision I have ever made as a writer.  Soon after I joined in 2015, I was the recipient of a #PUSHTUESDAY slot. The flood of support I received from fellow members was incredible. I have since been featured as MEMBER of the MONTH, and in April 2016 my first book of poetry, The Heart’s Journey Home, was selected as one of the three BOOKS of the MONTH. Also, I was interviewed on the RAVES WAVES RADIO broadcasts: BEHIND the PEN, BUY the BOOK, and most recently BRING ON THE SPOTLIGHT! To be chosen for these spots is a huge honor, and I assure you it will never be forgotten.

The support has been tremendous and continues to be. The results are tangible: sales and reviews of my books are steadily climbing, and I have seen an increase in followers (and engagement!) on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest. But wait, the support doesn’t end there!

Writing is such a solitary process that we need to connect with others, interact, engage, exchange ideas and learn from each other. The talent within RRBC is extraordinary and the level of peer support is undeniably inspiring. But here’s the key piece: you have to interact and engage.

By observing and engaging with fellow members, I learned how to effectively use social media and discovered the wonderful world of blogging. I’m ecstatic to say I host fellow authors on my blog now. There is a strong community framework within the world of blogging. It’s all a learning process, but a fun one. A lot of what I’ve learned is directly linked to my interaction with fellow writers. I immersed myself into the wealth of knowledge that exists within RRBC. I believe, wholeheartedly, that I’m learning from the best, and I’m elated to say so.

I’ve met so many talented authors and have the privilege of reading and reviewing their work. It continues to be a remarkable journey of learning, friendship, and gratitude.

NJ:  WOW!  What kind words you have to share, Natalie.  That was amazing!  Since you’re sitting on the SHELF, you’re obviously a RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB member, so what do you think of the club?

Natalie:  RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB is a community like no other. Whether you are an author or an avid reader, RRBC is a place you’ll feel at home. Quite simply … RRBC is the place to be!  If you’re not a member already, I highly recommend joining.

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

Natalie:  No. It’s unique for sure.

NJ:  Thanks, again for those kind words, Natalie.  Would you recommend it to your friends and family?

Natalie:  Absolutely. I’ve been encouraging others since I joined in 2015!

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

Natalie:  This is another tough one! I enjoy it all, but for unique reasons. I love the enthusiasm behind #PUSHTUESDAY. I love the interaction and engagement during the Block Parties. I love hearing the voices of fellow members during RAVE WAVES shows and learning more about them. I really enjoy the BOOKS OF THE MONTH discussions. And my gosh … this month as “SPOTLIGHT” Author has been truly amazing, and I’m most grateful and humbled by this honor.

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

Natalie:  I just like to send out a huge THANK YOU to you, Nonnie, for providing such an amazing opportunity for authors to join together in a shared goal and united passion. To fellow members, I thank you for your kindness, encouraging words, and generous support. You are awesome!!

NJ:  Thank you so much for hanging out on THE SHELF with us today, Natalie!  And, thanks for being an awesome member! You have definitely given us “great” interview and we’d love to have you come back again some time.  We mean that!

To my guests, please  pick up a copy of one of Natalie’s books or both of them.

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

@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!!

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