Tag Archives: Rave Reviews Book Club

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

Jan_Sikes_Signing_Books

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

Today, we have a very special guest on the SHELF with us, RRBC & RWISA member, ASPIRE TO INSPIRE Co-Host and June’s “SPOTLIGHT” Author, JAN SIKES We have been celebrating her all month long and today, she gets to sit on the shelf with me!

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NJ:  Before we get started, how do you like the design and feel of my new shelf?  Back in 2017 I tried to make it more comfortable, so I’m curious to know how it’s holding up in 2018.  I also wanted the lay-out to be a bit safer….you know, we’ve had a few accidents up here on this shelf.  Between you and me, I think the majority of those falls were because the guests were a tad-bit clumsy, but, nevertheless, I’d like everyone to know that you fall here at your own risk.  I was laughing so hard at my girlfriend’s the other day that I almost fell off her sofa, so I’m going to share with you what she shared with me and the way she shared it:  “Fall if you wanna.  We ain’t got no insurance over here!”  I’m still laughing at that!  So, are you comfy?

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

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

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

3 Shocked dogs

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

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

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

Dog researching on the computer

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

So, Janice Kay, married or single?

Jan:  Widowed

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

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

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

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

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

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

NJ:  Janice Kay (I just love that name!), what’s the food that’s so good to you, you go to bed dreaming about it, and you forego breakfast just to get to it?

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

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

Baklava

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

Jan:  Any shade of blue

NJ:  OK.  How about your favorite sport…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NJ:  I love to exercise!  It really does make you feel so good.  So, Janice Kay, what’s the biggest pet peeve that makes you want to spit nails?  (For the record, NJ does not condone violence, but she does believe in being honest so she admits that there are those times and there are those people, who do cause her to want to spit a few nails in the direction of their foreheads.  Hey, just being honest.  It’s the only way I roll).

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

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

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

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

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

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

Janice Kay, we’ve come to realize that the internet is giving way to tons of budding friendships.  Who would you say is the one person you’ve connected with the most…your internet BFF or buddy?

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

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

Jan:  WonderWoman for fantasy, Nonnie Jules for reality.

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

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

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

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

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

Jan:  Empty Chairs by Stacey Danson

NJ:  What was so great about it?

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

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

Jan:  Yes

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

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

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

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

NJ:  Read any poorly written books lately?

Jan:  Yes. One.

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

Angry dog

(Photo by AnimalWised)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NJ:  Name two books that you’ve written?

Jan:

FLOWERS AND STONE

Flowers and Stone by Jan Sikes

THE CONVICT AND THE ROSE

The Convict and the Rose by Jan Sikes

NJ:  Which one do you think is the best?

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

NJ:  Yeah, I don’t put that much stock into reviews.  But, Janice Kay, do you have a blog or website?  I love GREAT blogs, so would you say that yours is written well enough for harsh critics like me to enjoy?

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

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

Jan:  The RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan:  Of course, and I do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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!!

Mike Lynes in “WHO’S ON THE SHELF” w/NonnieJules – #RRBC @woodheat

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, MICHAEL LYNES Mike is our “SPOTLIGHT” Author for the month of November and we have been celebrating him all month long.  This week, he gets to sit on the shelf with me!

 

Shore-2016-HS

NJ:  Mike, 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?

Mike:  Hi NJ! The RRBC book shelf has always been more like a pedestal than a shelf. It’s an honor to be placed upon it and I will strive to live up to the standard set by my predecessors.

NJ:  Well, OK, you smooth talker!!!  You’re starting this party off right!  Don’t wanna take any chances, do ya?  Well, I don’t blame you, Mike.  Sometimes, this place is downright dangerous!  Let’s start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name?

Mike:  My birth name is Michael Lynes.

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?

Mike:  I was born and raised in Madison, New Jersey, USA – originally grew up in the suburbs but Margaret and I have lived in Sussex County NJ, the New Jersey Skylands region, for the last 30 years.

NJ:  Awesome!  Married or single?

Mike:  Married

NJ:  Ok, good, good.  I assume to Margaret, correct? OK,  moving along before she pops up and we’ve just no room for extra-hineys today.  So, Mike, do you and Margaret have any kids?  If so, what kind?

Mike:  We have four sons, Ian, Christopher, Devon and Caelan.

NJ:  OK, and 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?

Mike:  Well, that’s a disconcerting question!

NJ:  I know, Mike, but it’s what we have to look forward to….a pat on the head every now and again.  Yep, I hear they don’t even allow tricks at that age, either. It’s a hard knock life, I tell ya!

Dog being stroked

Mike:  LOL! I would say that we have a great relationship with all our guys. I am (crosses fingers) going to say that we’ll be welcome with any of them, but our oldest son lives closest to us right now. (No pressure ‘E’….)

NJ:  No pressure?  Hahaha, E is changing his phone and address right now…you just wait.  So, Mike, any pets? What kind?

Mike:  One crazy tortoise-shell cat named LEET, right now. She is a loveable PITA and makes sure to jump in my lap whenever she determines I’ve spent enough time writing and need a ‘pet’ break.

NJ:  Hmmm, yea, Mike, we don’t talk much about cats up on this shelf.  Please, the peanut gallery is begging you not to mention LEET again.

disgusted-dog

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

Mike:  Well, I’d have to say one of my favorite dishes is chicken aroz-caldo – Philippine style. Not sure it’s a ‘forego breakfast’ kind of deal – I almost never eat breakfast and only rarely eat lunch. One meal a day is plenty for me…

NJ:  Mike, as a Certified Personal Trainer AND A Fitness Nutrition Specialist, I can truthfully tell you that one meal a day is not plenty for you, but I digress.  So, tell us, what’s your favorite color?

Mike:  Black

NJ:  OK.  How about your favorite sport?

Mike:  I love to play tennis. I’ve not been playing lately but it’s my favorite sport for sure.

NJ:  I love tennis, too.  I don’t play it much, but it’s definitely a fave to watch.   Any favorite TV shows?

Mike:  Currently ‘Forged in Fire’ on the History channel. It’s a great show – wonderful in that there is a real chance of someone losing a thumb at almost any instant… Love it! Also love watching SYTYCD and The Voice. Some of those dancers and singers have amazing talent!

NJ:  Favorite Actress/Actor?

Mike:  John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn – also a Bogie and Bacall fan for sure.

NJ:  Any who might still be alive banking a paycheck or acting gig?  Never mind.  Do you like to exercise to stay fit OR do you not mind just letting it all go?

Mike:  I like to stay fit, not to say that I couldn’t stand to lose a few pounds, but I am an active type, never sit still.

NJ:  Good for you, Mike!  What’s the biggest pet peeve that makes you want to spit nails? (For the record, NJ does not condone violence, but she does believe in being honest so she admits that there are those times and there are those people, who do cause her to want to spit a few nails in the direction of their foreheads. Hey, just being honest. It’s the only way I roll).

Mike:  My pet peeve from the author POV is poorly written prose or inconsistent plotting. Nothing makes me want to stop reading a story more than seeing a misplaced metaphor, or an ill used word, or tortured sentence construction. From an overall life POV…crazy drivers that weave in and out of traffic annoy the heck out of me!

NJ:  WOW!  Finally, another soul who understands that those things can mess up a story…and fast!  So, Mike, are you neat or messy?

Mike:  I believe in organized chaos.

NJ:  (People, I do know that means you’re messy)  Facebook or Twitter?

Mike:  Both. I have a very active twitter presence and multiple Facebook pages for my personal, business and two books.

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?

Mike:  I have a few authors to whom I’ve connected to online and whom I would consider friends. Chatting with folks with whom I share common interests and whom I’ve never met personally has become so familiar and common place that I hardly give it a second thought anymore. The power of social media is amazing, really life changing, compared to only a couple of decades ago.

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.

Mike:  Well, Wonder Woman is a fictional superhero in a fictional world and NJ is a real-life whirlwind of positive energy so there is really no comparison! I would have to come down on the side of NJ here…

NJ:  That was kind of you to say.  Thank you, Mike 🙂  Now, please name one favorite INDIE book that you’ve read by an RRBC member.

Mike:  “Mercy’s Prince” by Katy Huth Jones.

Mercy's Prince Kindle cover

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

Mike:  Yes, almost always.

NJ:  Good for you, Mike!  What do you think readers should base their reviews on?

Mike:  Their honest opinion of the story…story-craft, appeal, emotional impact etc. A good review should be fair, positive and spoiler free.

NJ:  I agree on all points, except when you say that all reviews should be positive reviews.  There’s no way that you can always be honest and also always giving positive reviews.  Now, if you mean they shouldn’t tear the author down or rip the book apart, figuratively speaking, then I agree.  But, otherwise, we have to be careful when we say that all reviews should be positive, as some might take that to mean they should all be rated favorably (3 to 5 star).  OK, Mike, 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?

Mike:  I always give my honest opinion. I will not trash an author’s work but I have only rarely given a two star or one star review. If a story is poorly written I will generally not finish it and give no review. If I finish a story and feel that it needs a low review I will post it. Constructive criticism is as important as praise.

NJ:  There again, we agree on constructive critiques!  Read any poorly written books lately?

Mike:  Lots…usually just the sample chapters are enough to convince me to not go further.

NJ:  Now I know you really are my twin!  That’s it for me, too!  You never get a second chance to make a great first impression and the beginning of books, definitely serve as that first “Hello.”  Mike, 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 publicly.

Mike:  I don’t do that. It’s a disservice to the author and to myself.

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

Mike:  My books have been very well received, over 100 reviews for There Is A Reaper (4.9/5.0) and The Fat Man collection is also doing well and winning awards. I would say that there is always room to grow and improve. I look at the stuff I wrote a year or two ago and see that I’ve gotten better with my prose and story-craft since that time. The best answer is ‘I am always striving to improve my author skills’ and leave it at that.

NJ:  Mike, you’re impressing me more and more by the minute!  How long have you been writing?

Mike:  All my life really…specifically, ‘There Is a Reaper’ since 2010, and ‘The Fat Man’ since April 2016.

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

Mike:  Yes.

NJ:  Name two books that you’ve written?

Mike:

THERE IS A REAPER

There is a Reaper by Mike Lynes

AUDIBLE Version

***

THE FAT MAN GETS OUT OF BED

The Fat Man Gets Out of Bed

NJ:  Which one do you think is the best?

Mike:  I don’t have a favorite between the two. I like them both for different reasons.

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

Mike:  M Lynes Author is my website. I do have a blog there but I’m not sure if meets the NJ level for excellence.

NJ:  I’ll just have to drop by to see for myself!  Mike, which online resource or organization has helped you as an author the most?

Mike:  Probably the exposure with social media, twitter and Facebook, has helped the most. Next, being able to take advantage of programs and promotions on Amazon, and other large ebook sites. Not the least of course would be the authors and friends I’ve met on RRBC!

NJ:  How were you helped by them?

Mike:  Twitter for promotion and presence. Facebook as a contacts and exposure resource. Amazon to sell and promote my books, and other ebook sites to help sell and advertise. And, clubs like RRBC to connect with authors and friends for information, shared interests and reviews.

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?

Mike:  A very good resource for connecting with other authors, sharing information, getting reviews and promoting oneself. The value received is far greater than the cost of membership!

NJ:  I so agree with you, Mike.  Authors don’t realize the value of this amazing club until they really sink their teeth into it, or until they leave, and then actually feel the loss of what they had here.  For many, this is the ONLY place their books are being purchased, read and reviewed, and many are smart enough to stay here for that reason alone.  Mike, have you come across any other online entities like it?

Mike:  There are other online organizations – many are less effective than RRBC. I have found a lot of folks who are just in the business to sell you some ad packages. RRBC cares about its members and it is focused on integrity. I’ve not found another online club like it.

NJ:  Thank you, Mike.  I could not have said it any better than that.  Would you recommend RRBC to your friends and family?

Mike:  Yes – but more importantly to other authors.

NJ:  That’s right, Mike.  But, readers are just as important here as writers.  We want them all and that’s why we always should introduce RRBC to our family and friends, so that our catalog is where they do they book shopping.   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.)

Mike:  I would say the Block Parties are the most fun. I also like reading the BWCU and catching up on everything that is happening at RRBC in one convenient place.

NJ:  They’re all faves of mine, but I totally agree on those block parties!  And, our WC&BE is starting to blow all out of the water!   Mike, this shelf is getting hard on my hiney, so we’re going to wrap this interview up. Any final words for our guests today?

Mike:  Just to say thank you for the honor and all of the great work that you and your team do to keep RRBC rolling along. I’m sure at times it must seem to be a thankless task, and a mountain of work, but your efforts are appreciated and I will take the opportunity to publicly thank you NJ for the great work that you do. Thank you!

NJ:  Mike, thank you so much for hanging out on THE SHELF with us today!  And, thanks for being an awesome member! This has definitely been one of my all-time favorite interviews…and I mean that sincerely.  Not once did you come close to having an accident!  Because of that, we’d love to have you back again some time.  We mean that!

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

Have you joined RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB yet?  Well, here’s your chance!  And, since Mike was on the “SHELF” today, tell them he sent you.  Make it a great day, my friends…or not.  The choice is all yours!   This is my final interview for 2017.  But, we’ll see you bright and early in January, 2018, 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!!

5 Simple Editing Tips by @RiJanjks #RRBC

5 SIMPLE EDITING TIPS

by Contributing Writer, Author, Jan Sikes

Jan Sikes

You’ve finished your manuscript and joyfully written ‘The End.’ Now that you are there, the tedious work of editing is next. I know. I hear you groaning, but it is the most important and necessary thing you can do to your story. Experts tell us to let our manuscript rest a week or two before we attempt to edit it.

EDIT

I’m going to share with you FIVE simple tips that can make the process of editing a little less painful.

1. Download and open Grammarly:
There are other free apps out there besides Grammarly, such as Evernote that are programmed to find simple typos and grammatical errors fast. Does it catch all of them? Of course not. But, it’s a good start.

2. Do a search for Filter Words:
What are Filter Words? “Julie looked out the window and saw a small dog. She realized that the sight of it made her feel happy.” Examine every paragraph and cut these types of filtering words out of your writing. Consider instead: “A small dog appeared outside Julie’s window and she swelled with happiness.” Not the most eloquent revision, but still much better than the first version. An even better change would be to add a physical reaction that shows her emotional reaction. Cutting the majority of these types of filters out of your work will improve it dramatically.

AVOID FILTER WORDS

If you don’t know what filter words are, you can’t avoid them.
Here is a partial list of filters and their close relatives. Some words could appear in multiple groups.

See: appear like, become aware of, detect, discern, distinguish, give the impression of, identify, look, look like, note, notice, observe, perceive, realize, recognize, reveal, seem, sense, sight, spot, watch

Smell: detect the smell of, diagnose, get a whiff of, scent, smell like, whiff

Hear: catch, eavesdrop, overhear, listen to, sound, sound like

Touch: feel, feel like

Taste: appreciate, delight in, enjoy, like, relish, savor, take pleasure in

Know: ascertain, assume, believe, bring to mind, decide, deem, discover, gather, get, glean, guess, infer, intuit, learn, posit, regard, remember, suspect, think, understand, wonder

Experience: be subjected to, face, go through, live through, suffer, take in, undergo
Be able to: be capable of, be equal to, be up to the task, can, could, have the ability to, have what it takes to

3. Stop Starting and Beginning:
“What do you mean?” you ask.
“She began to walk toward the bus stop.”
“He started to clean his gun while she looked for ammo.”
“She put her head in her hands and started to cry.”

Here are some suggested changes that make for stronger and more descriptive writing:
She sprinted, sauntered, ambled, or shuffled to the bus stop. It all depends on what is happening with the character and her attitude toward the bus stop. The next one would be better fixed with dialogue. He opened the cleaning kit on the table and reached for his gun. “Will you find the ammo while I clean the gun?” He asked.
‘Starting’ or ‘beginning’ is usually unnecessary. Find any use of the words ‘starting’ or ‘beginning’ in your story and eliminate them, unless the action being performed is delayed in starting, or interrupted somehow. For example, “Jimmy started loading the wagon, but Maria drove away before he could finish the job.”

4. Eliminate or Replace Repeated Words:
We all do this. We fall in a rut and tend to use the same words over-and-over-again to describe action, characters, and settings. One of our RRBC members, Nicholas Rossis, has written a book, Emotional Beats: How to Convert Your Writing into Palpable Feelings.
I cannot say enough good things about this book and how invaluable it is when it comes to finding new ways to say the same thing in a stronger and more descriptive way.

5. Read your Manuscript Out Loud:
This is an excellent technique to find echoes, redundancies, filter words, weak verbs, and stilted dialogue. Yes, your family might think you’ve truly lost it this time, but I promise this technique is highly effective.

BONUS TIP:
Our eyes are trained to see words that aren’t there, gloss over misused words and even convert numbers into letters. And, our brain sees words differently on the computer screen than printed on paper. So, my bonus tip is to print out your manuscript and do a line-by-line edit.

**This is only a partial list of editing tips. Adverbs and Adjectives are biggies and I’ll do another post to focus on them.**

But, for now, here are five plus one tips to help with editing your magnificent manuscript!!

Happy Editing!

***

Check out Jan’s author page and books on Amazon!

(If you’d like to be considered for a Contributing Writer spot with RRBC, please contact us at RRBCInfo@gmail.com)

 

Carol Marrs-Phipps in “WHO’S ON THE SHELF” W/NONNIE JULES – #RRBC @Car01am

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, CAROL MARRS-PHIPPS!  Carol is our “SPOTLIGHT” Author for the month of August and we have been celebrating her all month long.  This week, she gets to sit on the shelf with me!

RRBC Carol New

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?

Carol:  I must say it is wonderfully so, Nonnie, and it really does have a “homey” feel, though I’m much more used to standing in front of book shelves than actually being on one. 

NJ:  I like that, Carol!  Good one!  So, let’s start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name.

Carol:  My author name is a combination of my birth name and 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?

Carol:  I was born in Trenton, Missouri, but currently I live in Illinois.

NJ:  Married or single?

Carol:  Married.

NJ:  Any kids, Carol?  If so, what kind?

Carol:  Yes, I have two children and two step-children. They are all human…oh…I mean my two are girls, both grown now, and my step-children are a boy and girl, also grown, (and all flown).

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?

Carol:  Either of my daughters would definitely take care of me. My step-children would probably condemn me to a nursing home…and I’m not sure about the Christmas visit; probably not.

NJ:  Well!  That sounds like a book!  Wicked Step-Mummy, maybe?  LOL!  Any pets?  Girls or boys?

Carol:  Yes, I have a green cheeked parrot, a cock-a-tiel, a raven, five cats and 3 kittens.

NJ:  Oh my! That doesn’t exactly tell us if they’re boys or girls, but it does speak to the fact that you you should only have as many as you can comfortably send off to college.  You can afford to send all these to college, right?  Oh, wait a second!  You’re talking about your non-human babies! Pardon me…I’m a bit sleepy today.  Carol, 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?

Carol:  Cheesecake

NJ:  Yea, I don’t like cheesecake.  Mostly because I don’t think that cheese and cake go together, but, to each his own.  What’s your favorite color?

Carol:  Red

NJ:  Your favorite sport…

Carol:  Hiking

NJ:  How about your favorite TV Show…

Carol:  I don’t watch TV

NJ:  disgusted-dog

Now, Carol, I find something mildly disturbing about folks who don’t watch TV or eat Honeycomb cereal.  (Better keep my good eye on her).  Favorite Actress/Actor…

Carol:  I don’t really have one.

NJ:  Carol, now this mild feeling is turning into an almost excruciating pain in my left eye!  Let’s move along from this topic quickly.  Do you like to exercise to stay fit OR do you not mind just letting it all go?

Carol:  Definitely exercise.

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).

Carol:  Know-it-alls

NJ:  They annoy me, too…mainly because I’m aware that they know nothing at all.  So, are you neat or messy?

Carol:  I admit, I am immensely comforted in my little corner of happy disarray. However, overall, I prefer my surroundings to be neat and tidy.

NJ:  Great response…I was gathering up oars for that boat ride.  Facebook or Twitter?

Carol:  Twitter

NJ:  Me, too!  Carol, 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?

Carol:  Theresa Snyder

NJ:  Who do you favor most:  Nonnie Jules or Wonder Woman? Be honest, now.

Carol:  At the risk of people thinking me a ‘brown –noser”, I have to be honest here and say, Nonnie Jules. I mean, Wonder Woman is pretty amazing, sure, but what has she ever done for me? Nonnie Jules, on the other hand has introduced me to this fabulous book club and all its very many benefits, great books and amazing authors. Yeah…Nonnie Jules for sure…

NJ:  Thank you, Carol!  And who cares what these people think!  I’m grateful for this amazing club just as much as you are, because without it, we’d never have come to know amazing members like you!

Now, 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.

Carol:  Wonder Woman is larger than life, and with her truth lasso she can make anyone “fess up”, but I’m not sure how much that really changes things in the end. Nonnie Jules has her standards and principles, and as she goes forth living them to the best of her ability and expecting no less from others, I believe she encourages and challenges them to do likewise, thus making a real and lasting difference in the world.

NJ:  Carol, that’s the nicest thing anyone has said to me today!  Thank you so much for your kind words.  I’ll do my best not to disappoint by doing my best to live up to them.

After you read books, do you post reviews?

Carol:  I admit, I don’t always, but I have been trying to improve on that and leave reviews, if only a few lines, more often than not.

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

Carol:  The quality of the story the author has written rather than concentrating on format irregularities and typos. However, there are, sadly, times that these things are so bad that it affects a person’s ability to read or enjoy the story, no matter how great the tale may be otherwise and one simply has no choice but to take the errors into account.

NJ:  Carol, as much as I love and adore you, this is where we differ greatly.  First, I won’t give any life to the issue of format irregularities as sometimes, this is easily lost when dealing with Amazon. That can be overlooked at times.  But, if there are so many typos and other written errors in a read, it loses me…and it doesn’t take long to do so.  A lack of typos and other errors are all part of good writing, and an abundance of so, sadly can cause a reader to be turned off to a story.  Contrary to popular belief, quality is definitely lost in the face of typos and other errors.  (I’m staying away from including grammatical errors in this, because I believe a writer can create his/her own lingo for his/her characters, and should not be expected to conform to someone else’s standard in doing so).  If the grammatical errors are not intentional (you’ll know), then forget I said this.

OK, so let me get off my high-horse here and move on.  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?

Carol:  Well Nonnie, honesty is the best policy, of course, but if I read a book that I feel does not deserve at least 3 stars, I will not post the review unless the author requests I do so.

NJ:  Read any poorly written books lately?

Carol:  Sadly, yes, but I honestly think there are less of them out there now than there used to be. (Or perhaps, I’ve just been lucky lately?).

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

Carol:  I have written a lot of reviews over the years, and I can honestly say that there have been only two. To be fair, though, the stories themselves were both stellar. In both cases the books had serious formatting, grammar and spelling errors.

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?

Carol:  Nonnie Jules, who has taught us to simply tell it like it is, no sugar-coating allowed and Kathryn Treat who taught us to keep going, giving it our all, no matter the circumstances,right up to the end.

NJ:  WOW!  Both were powerful statements, and Carol, and I thank you for the both of us.  Are you an author?  Are you a good one?  C’mon, we love honesty here.

Carol:  Yes, I am an author and I believe a good one, though I have yet to reach a state of perfection, a goal which I forever strive to achieve.

NJ:  A goal we should all strive for, Carol.  How long have you been writing?

Carol:  Since I was in 8th grade (and no, I will NOT put that into years for you…sorry). LOL

NJ:  That’s OK.  If you don’t ask me to, I won’t ask you to.  Deal?  OK, Carol, are you able to take constructive criticism of your written work?

Carol:  Certainly, I welcome it. 

NJ:  Good for you, Carol!  Now, name two books that you’ve written?

Carol:  WHAM!

Wham by Carol Marrs Phipps

HEART OF THE STAFF: COMPLETE SERIES

Heart of the Staff Complete Series by Carol Marrs Phipps

NJ:  Which one do you think is the best?

Carol:  WHAM!

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?

Carol:  Yes, my blog/website is http://niarg.com. If you like to read a lot of fantasy excerpts, you might enjoy it.

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

Carol:  That’s the easiest question you’ve asked, Rave Reviews Book Club most definitely!

NJ:  How were you helped by them?

Carol:  RRBC has helped me get reviews, meet a great number of fantastic authors and make a lot of new online friends. The club has featured me as the #PUSHTUESDAY Winner of the Day and now as the Spotlight Author for the entire month of August, all of which has boosted my sales. Not to mention that Nonnie has gone out of her way to personally lend me  a helping hand when I was in need of one. There are so many wonderful things going on in this book club and a myriad of amazing people involved that I can’t think of a better group on or off the web to become a part of.

NJ:  Carol, we always go above and beyond for our (RRBC) family members who go above and beyond when they show support for the club.  Since you’re sitting on the SHELF, you’re obviously a RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB member, so what do you think of the club?

Carol:  It is the best book club available anywhere for indie authors. (For more detail, see previous answer).

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

Carol:  Never

NJ:  Well, that means we must be doing something right!  Would you recommend RRBC to your friends and family?

Carol:  Absolutely, and I have.

NJ:  WOW!  Thanks, Carol!  Nothing like those word-of-mouth referrals!  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.)

Carol:  Hard choice, and I can’t quite decide between the RAVES WAVES shows and ON THE SHELF interviews, so I’m going to say it’s a tie.

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

Carol:  Just that I’d like to thank everyone who has joined us here today and you, Nonnie, for inviting me. It has been grand fun!

NJ:  Thank you so much for hanging out on THE SHELF with us today, Carol!  You have definitely given us “great” interview and we’d love to have you come back again some time.  Your responses to our questions were just phenomenal, and who doesn’t love being “stroked” from time to time?

Dog being stroked.jpg

I’m sure most of our listeners will be sorely disappointed that you didn’t get close to ‘accidentally’ falling off my shelf.  Some of them live for those kind of shows.

What the funny face dog

(“Well, we never!”)

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

Have you joined RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB yet?  Well, here’s your chance!  And, since Carol 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!!

ROBERT FEAR in “WHO’S ON THE SHELF” W/NONNIE JULES – #RRBC @FredsDiary1981

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, ROBERT FEAR.  Robert is our “SPOTLIGHT” Author for the month of July and we are celebrating him all month long.  This week, he gets to sit on the shelf with me!

IMG_0713

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?

RF:  Yes, thanks Nonnie. I’m a little nervous, but thanks for inviting me to be a guest on your new, very comfortable shelf. It’s a real honour!

NJ:  Thank you, Mr. FEAR…what a perfect name when you’re sitting up here with me.  Let’s start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name?

RF:  Robert Fear is my birth name.

NJ:  And I love it each time you say it!  Tell us where you were born? Do you still live there now? If not, what city and state are you calling home these days?

RF:  I was born in a city called Leicester in England. My family left there when I was 11 and moved south to a village in Surrey called South Nutfield. My teenage years were spent growing up there. I now live in a town called Eastbourne on the south coast.

NJ:  Married or single, Robert?

RF:  Married.

NJ:  Any kids? What kind?

RF:  No, although I have two grown-up nephews and a niece. Also a 5 year-old great-nephew.

NJ:  Those will do just fine, too!  Aren’t nieces and nephews grand?  If you’re not there already, when you’re old and cranky, which one (if they had to) would keep you at home to care for you themselves, and which one would immediately throw you into a nursing home and only visit you at Christmas?

RF:  I will be 62 this year so not old and cranky yet, or I don’t think so! I haven’t really considered the rest of your question, maybe I should.

NJ:  I think you should.  When your mind starts to leave you, you never know which family member is going to draw that short straw (aka YOU) and what they’ll do with you (or to you) when it happens, so if I were you…I’d start pondering.  Any pets? What kind?

RF:  We are cat people. Over the years we have looked after a succession of rescue cats and enjoy their company. At the moment we have three: Floyd, Hazell and Jet.

How Nonnie feels about cats…

NJ:  Uh, yea.  OK, so 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?

RF:  I can’t say that I’ve ever felt that way about food to be honest.

Whaaaaattttt????

NJ:  WOW!  OK.  #Shocking.  What’s your favorite color, Robert?

RF:  Blue

NJ:  Yea, I think blue’s kinda boring, but OK.  Live and let live.  How about your favorite sport.  Have one of those?

RF:  Soccer

NJ:  Yeeeeeessssss, I can totally see you in a soccer game!  So, any favorite TV Shows?

RF:  ‘Have I Got News For You’ – it is a satirical panel quiz show on UK television. Very funny!

NJ:  You’ll have to tell me more about it after the show.  As you can see, I LOVE funny/humor!  So, who’s your favorite Actress or Actor?

RF:  I think it would have to be Tom Hanks. He is such a versatile actor and I’ve enjoyed many of his films.

NJ:  I just hung up the phone with Tom (yes, we’re on a first name basis), and he told me to tell you…

I know, you didn’t know that I knew him. Oh, stop…I see that you’re gushing all over yourself.   I know tons of folks.  I know folks in high places …

…and low places, too

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

RF:  I enjoy walking to stay fit. Eastbourne is a great place for that, with a 4 mile promenade and it’s close to the South Downs National Park as well.

NJ:  I love walking and running, too!  Your place sounds like heaven! Robert, 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).

RF:  Readers who leave 1 star reviews and get very personal and cruel about the author. I don’t think there is any need for that and it can be very upsetting.

NJ:  Robert, here is where you need to become really tuned in to your last name.  You see, I have no problem with a reader who has taken the time to read a book, who has spent their hard-earned money on said book, to give that book a 1-star review if they feel that it deserves it.  I don’t believe in attacking an author or getting personal in reviews, EVER,  it should always be about the book, but I believe in total honesty in reviews and regarding writing, for that matter.  So, you might be upset with me one day when I post a 1-star review.  But, that’s OK.  So, are you neat or messy?

RF:  Neat.

NJ:  Yayyyyy!  I like you again!  Facebook or Twitter?

RF:  Both.

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?

RF:  This would have to be Frank Kusy, the well-known travel memoir author. Frank has been incredibly supportive and is always there when I need advice. He also introduced me to a Facebook group which has helped me tremendously.

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

RF:  I thought they were one and the same person!

Oh, shucks…you’re such a flatterer!

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

RF:  It would have to be WonderWoman Nonnie Jules!

Robert, stop it! You are tickling me pink!

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

RF:  Kevin and I in India by Frank Kusy and That Bear Ate My Pants by Tony James Slater

NJ:  OK, can’t say that I’ve heard of either.  ONE good INDIE book you’ve read that was so good you wished the entire world would read it…

RF:  One of its Legs are Both the Same by Mike Cavanagh

NJ:  What was so great about it?

RF:  This is probably best summarized by my 5* review:
Engrossing memoir

I had the privilege of being able to beta read this wonderful book. It is a treasure trove of memories, woven together in a vividly descriptive life tapestry.

With the knowledge of a recent diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, Mike Cavanagh shares his innermost feelings, reflecting on his younger years and why he was so ‘different’. Things he knows now make these reflections even more poignant and provide an additional layer to his many weird and wonderful recollections.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is an engrossing memoir and highly recommended.

NJ:

Yea, uhhhhh, never had that happen here before, you know, someone just ‘reading’ a review like that.  For a minute, I thought this was SPOTLIGHT HONORS with John Howell.

So, Robert, after you read books, do you post reviews?

RF:  I always mean to and do so more often than not, especially if I know that the author does not have many reviews for the book yet.

NJ:  Good for you, but I’m going to need you to do better and go beyond “meaning to.”  Let’s get those reviews posted!  Robert, what do you think readers should base their reviews on?

RF:  Quality and content of the book.

NJ:  OK.  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?

RF:  No, not at all, although all my reviews are 4 or 5 stars for one reason – I tend to be very choosy as to which books I read. If I start reading a book and am not getting on with it, then I would leave it and not review it. My time is too precious!

NJ:  OK.  Read any poorly written books lately?

RF:  No. Well, not beyond the first twenty pages anyway.

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

RF:  I am not a particularly good author. This may come as a bit of a shock as I am in the ‘Author Spotlight’ this month, Nonnie, but I do not see myself as a ‘proper’ author. I am more of a diarist or memoirist. My other skills include proof-reading and editing. It is only with my new book that I am aspiring to become an accomplished author.

NJ:  You have the write attitude, Robert, which means you are going to go far…and, as a good/great author!  How long have you been writing?

RF:  I have had an interest in writing and editing since my early teens. My earliest endeavor was the ‘Library Times’ which I laboriously wrote out by hand and distributed amongst family and school friends. Next came the ‘Crusader Comet’ which lasted for over twenty monthly editions. This was for a local Crusaders group that I attended. As this was in the early 70’s, before word processors, I used a typewriter and produced stencils for use with a duplicator. In the sixth form, when I was 17-18, I studied English Literature for one of my Advanced Level exams. My dream at that time was to become a journalist. I was also appointed as Editor of the school magazine, ‘The Pilgrim’, and I helped produce four editions of this professionally produced periodical. After that my writing lapsed as I took a different career path and then went off on my travels. It was not until 1981 that I embarked on my Asian trip and recorded everything I did in a handwritten diary. This formed the basis of ‘Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia’, which was published in 2013.

NJ:  WOW!  Interesting.  Are you able to take constructive criticism of your written work?

RF:  I like to think I can. What I find difficult to accept is negative and unreasonable criticism.

NJ:  That’s good to know, Robert, as so many can’t take any type of critiques regarding their writing.  I literally beg for folks to point out any mistakes they find in my writing, because I want to be able to hold my own against the best.  You can’t grow unless you learn to listen and take in those things that you may perceive to be negative…take notes and learn so that you can turn them into positives.

Robert, name two books that you’ve written?
RF:  The first is an edited version of the diary I referred to previously:
Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia

The second was mostly written by my father when he was alive. I wrote the forward and did most of the editing, while my younger brother, Alastair, wrote the final three chapters:
Exclusive Pedigree: My life in and out of the Brethren

NJ:  Which one do you think is the best?

RF:  They are both very different types of books. Mine is in a diary format and covers the 158 days of my travels around Asia – this style and the drug use throughout is not appreciated by some. My father’s memoirs cover a much longer period and are written very well. They cover various aspects of his being both inside and outside the Exclusive Brethren religious sect, while holding true to his faith in God. I think Exclusive Pedigree is the better book because of its wider appeal and the way it is written. My father was a very good writer and worked as a journalist in his later years.

NJ:  I can’t wait to read  both!  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?

RF:  My blog site fd81.net has been around for over two years. It is different to most blogs and is very travel-orientated. The earlier sections contain the daily serialization of my diary, during the time it was being prepared for its second edition. Since then I have featured many travel stories and travel highlights that have been entered in the annual competitions. In addition there are guest blogs from fellow travel writers and bloggers. I think you would have to check it out but hopefully you will find it interesting and enjoy reading it.

NJ:  Which online resource or organization has helped you as an author the most?
This would definitely be the Facebook group.

Really, Rob?  (Where’s my beyhive?  Oh, I forgot, I’m not Beyonce so I don’t have a Beyhive to sting him.  Darnit!  Gotta get me one of those!)

NJ:  Robert, I’m a journalist so I’m going to remain professional here.  (Mumbling) How were you helped by this group?

RF:  It is a very supportive group of authors and readers…

NJ:  I changed my mind.  I can’t do it…I can’t remain professional and sit thru this!!!!!  You answered the question wrong above and so, we don’t want to hear your response!  Right, Nonnie-hive?

(Birds chirping)

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

RF:  I have only been a member since late last year. Although I felt a little overwhelmed at first, I am slowly getting more and more involved. There are so many great activities and the club is very supportive of members when they actively participate in the club.

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

RF:  No, not really

Guess you forgot about your Facebook group then…

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

RF:  Yes, definitely.

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

RF:  I wish that I had the time to participate more in all the different programs organized by RRBC. The area I have used the most is the BOOK CLUB SELECTIONS page and I am always interested in the BOOKS OF THE MONTH discussions. In addition I check out the #RRBC Twitter hashtag on a daily basis, re-tweeting and liking posts where I can.

NJ:  Well, good for you, Robert!  Those are great areas to participate in.  This shelf is getting hard on my hiney, so we’re going to wrap this interview up. Any final words for our guests today?

RF:  Thank you very much for having me as your guest ON THE SHELF today. It came as a real surprise to be invited and I hope that my answers have been of interest to you and all your guests.

NJ:  Thank you so much for hanging out on THE SHELF with us today, Robert!  You have definitely entertained us all and made this one memorable interview, right gang?

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

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

#RRBC, It’s Lonely at the Top …

You know, GOD has a way of making us take stock of our lives – even our time and how we are spending it.  Just today, I thought to myself, “Just as soon as Mar gets back from her vacation, I need to take a little hiatus myself.”  Well, just as soon as that thought entered my mind, it left…quickly.

How will the club manage without me?  How will ALL the million and one things that I do every day, get done?  Who’s going to make those hard and very important decisions that I have to make on a daily basis?  If not me, who?

Then, I opened my phone (to my Twitter account) and there was this article that was meant just for me to see.

Please, read on…

‘IT’S LONELY AT THE TOP – OR, IT SHOULD BE’

Man on top of mountain. Element of design.

Leaders need time for reflection and hard analytical work, just like everyone else.

***

Solitude has been instrumental to the effectiveness of leaders throughout history, but now, they (as with everyone else) are losing it with hardly any awareness of the fact. Before the Information Age – which one could call the Input Age – leaders naturally found solitude anytime they were physically alone, or walking from one place to another, or standing in a line.

Like a great wave that saturates everything in its path, hand-held devices deliver immeasurable quantities of information and entertainment, that now have virtually all of us instead staring down at our phones.  Society did not make a considered choice to surrender the bulk of its time for reflection in favor of time spent reading tweets or texts.

Yet, with an awareness of what we have lost, each of us can choose to reclaim it.  And leaders in particular – whose actions by definition affect not only themselves – have more than a choice.  They have an obligation.  A leader has a responsibility to seek out periods of solitude.

The assumption, unless the leader says otherwise, is that he is constantly accessible – if not in person, then electronically.  But the task of changing that assumption requires only an act of will.  A leader can designate a certain number of workdays each month as no-meeting days, as Endgame CEO, Nate Fick does.  A leader can mark off 60 or 90 minutes each day for time to think.  A leader can make it known that he does not text or check his email only intermittently or at certain points in the day.  (One has to wonder what leaders who make a point of responding to email within minutes, are otherwise doing with their time.)  A leader can declare weekends off-limits for work email, as Wendy Kopp did at Teach for America.

There is a price to be paid for changes like these. Email will go unanswered for hours rather than minutes, subordinates might have to wait 60 minutes to speak to the boss, and meetings might get pushed back a day.

So be it.  Scheduling a leader’s time is a zero-sum game, and fundamentally a manager must decide whether reflection and hard analytical work are important enough to warrant perhaps a third of his time.

There is another price for changes like these, namely the usual social levy upon nonconformity.  Left unexplained, these changes will lead others to say the leader is arrogant, aloof, unapproachable.  But there is a reason to leave the reasons for solitude unexplained.  The leader can simply make clear, in as much or as little detail as he sees fit, that doing the organization’s work requires time to think.

And he can bear out that explanation during the times when he is accessible – by providing subordinates with clear comments on their work rather than vague ones, thoughtful answers rather than platitudes, and otherwise performing like a leader who has thought through his guiding principles rather than made them up on the fly.

(This article taken from THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)

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RRBC, if we are to continue to grow as we have in years past, I need time away.  My job is a HUGE one here, and although I am not complaining, I’d like the time away to regroup so that I can do my job better (just as you all get time away to regroup)…and when I’m doing my job better, when I’m at the top of my game, we all benefit from that.

So, it won’t be today, maybe not even tomorrow, but sometime soon, I will be taking a much-needed rest or mini vacation.  It will only be for a week, and, I’ll probably still work during that time, but at least I won’t feel so bad when I turn on my computer to write and ignore the hundreds of email that have popped into my email box within minutes of my waking.

I also hope that during my short time away, that all of my wonderful RRBC family members will continue to do what they would normally do when I’m present – supporting each other, lifting each other up, recruiting, engaging, welcoming, and don’t forget, leaving honest reviews…all in all, just playing nice, so that those standing in my stead won’t have so much to deal with in my absence.

I hope you all have enjoyed this “peace.”  I sure did. 😉

#Motivational & Inspirational Friday! #RRBC

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Today is our Motivational & Inspirational Friday and we want all of you to help us lift someone up!  But, today it’s more than just leaving an inspirational comment.  Today, we want you to share with us how you handle a specific situation, because maybe, we’re not handling it as well as we could or even should be.

TODAY’S TOPIC:  THE ‘OLDER’ GENERATION

(Before we get started, let me make one thing clear, I’m not speaking of members of the older generation who are suffering from mental illnesses or dementia.  They are definitely not apart of this discussion.  I’m speaking of the ornery class of the older generation).

Yes, leave it to me to touch on topics that others shy away from.  Sorry, folks (not sorry, really), but, today we are going to discuss (honestly, I hope) the older generation.  We spend copious amounts of time talking about the younger generation…and most of that conversation always leans in the direction of their failings…their wrongs.  Well, you know what, the older generation isn’t all that grand at times, either.  Now, I’m going to say that I fall somewhere in between both groups, so my opinion won’t be biased at all.

Pug dog face

(That’s the most neutral looking face if I ever did see one!)

In honor of full disclosure, though, I must own up to the fact that I’m closer to 60 than I am 50.  I’ll let your minds wander from there.

I have a general saying that goes:  “I have zero tolerance for poor behavior.  Doesn’t matter if you’re 3 or if you’re 73…I can’t and I won’t deal with it.”  I’ve heard people say so many times, “Well, she’s older…she gets a pass” OR “At 75, they don’t know what they’re saying.”  I don’t believe that’s true.

My dad’s mom was 90 years old when she passed away and NOT ONCE did I ever see her misbehave or hear her speak in such a way that she might have to be forgiven, for not knowing what she was saying.  The same applied to my beloved grandmother who just left me, at the tender age of 89.  Because of this, I give no passes for poor behavior when it comes to age.  If my dear old grannies, at their ages and wisdom level, could behave as women whose ages and wisdom levels dictated that they should behave, then, again, I will give no passes for poor behavior, or, for not knowing what you’re saying because you’re in your 60’s, your 70’s, or your 80’s.

In my opinion, I feel that some of the older generation feel entitled to misbehave and be rude.  I’ve heard some say that “At my age, I just don’t care what comes out of my mouth.” I’ve also heard others say this in regards to those of the older generation.  And to that I say, “I hope you care when you’re speaking around me.”  

My friend’s dad is 75 years old and she often asks him: “Should I charge this to your head or charge it to your age because if I charge it to your age, you’re gonna get a pass,” she says with a smile.  The response she always gets is “charge it to my head.”  I know why she gets this response, too.  Her dad doesn’t want to be perceived as “old” (for falling asleep with the door wide open, or leaving the keys in the car ignition at night, or forgetting to take care of his personal hygiene) so, he would rather she thinks he just made simple mistakes.

Some of you might not agree with me here and that’s fine.  This is my opinion of this situation and I am entitled, just as you are.  This is also why this topic is being brought up because I want to know how others feel about the subject.

I am no walk in the park, and although my husband lives that reality but would never say it, my daughters would give you an earful.  Knowing how I am now, I can only imagine the horror that I will be as I get older, and in true-Nonnie fashion, I have said to both my daughters, “If mommy EVER behaves that poorly, you do not have to put up with it.  Throw me in a home with a nice television for my Lifetime movies, a slew of books, and a nice young aid with good eyes to read them to me, and I’ll be just fine.”  And you know what, I mean every word of that from the bottom of my heart.  Do I think they’ll oblige me?  NO, but I have put it out there that they do not have to put up with my poor behavior (which I know is coming in my older age).

Our club is filled to the brim with those of the older generation and they’re all loved dearly!  I’m not going to go so far as to say that they are all always on their best behavior, but, they are still loved.  So, whether you are 23 or 93, let’s hear your (honest) thoughts on this subject.  I mean, we all share one very important other thing aside from us all bleeding red…we all have our very own opinions about things.

Remember, we want our community to get inspired and feel uplifted by simply reading the comments left by YOU.  This is our year of better, and maybe your take on a situation will help someone else to see it more clearly, and also cause them to think and grow from what you have shared.  The person who leaves the most inspiring and motivational words of wisdom in the comments section below, wins our SURPRISE OF THE WEEK!

Listen, you never know just how impactful your words are, until a life has changed because of them. – NJ

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