Are You a Tweeter-dee, or, are you just a Tweeter-dum-dum? @RRBC_Org @RRBC_RWISA @Tweets4RWISA @nonniejules #RRBC #RWISA

Hello, Tweeters!  I woke up compelled to share this brief but very important tid-bit on tweeting today.  But, first I need to know – are you a tweeter-dee or, are you just a Tweeter-dum-dum?

Many of us (myself included) hopped onto social media and found ourselves in a deer in headlights moment.  Some of you joined Twitter years ago, and you are still standing in that very same moment today. C’mon, just admit it.

Confused dog pic.jpg-

Well, it’s time to stop staring at those headlights and get your butt on across that road!

selective focus photo of deer
Photo by Aenic on Pexels.com

Before I just jump right in, for those of you who don’t know the difference between a Twitter handle and a Twitter hashtag, here is a quick legend:

@RRBC_Org is a Twitter handle

#RRBC is a Twitter hashtag

Now, here are just a few of my tips on “how” to tweet effectively…

  1. If you’re tweeting from someone’s blog post or a page on your site or someone else’s site, and you want others to retweet (share) the information as well, always include some Twitter handles in your tweet (i.e. @nonniejules @jacktheripper @canthandlethetruth, etc.).  It’s so easy to do and really increases the chances of that tweet getting more attention than little ole’ you can give it.  Merely add the Twitter handles of your followers.  They pop up as soon as you click the tweet icon from someone’s blog and begin typing with the “@” symbol;
  2. If you’re creating a blog post, ensure that your Twitter handles and hashtags are already included in the heading of the post.  That way, when someone tweets your page, the most important handles and hashtags are already there and ready to draw attention to your post.  Tweet out my RRBC Author Page and notice the information there, which I’ve included in my heading.  Now that’s an effective tweet!
  3. When you’re promoting someone else on your blog site, or just on Twitter, always include their Twitter handle in the heading of the blog post, OR if you’re sending out a tweet on someone’s book, etc., include their Twitter handle in the tweet.  If you send out a blog post or a tweet directly from Twitter in support of another and you don’t include their Twitter handle, they will never know you’re supporting them;
  4. Include hashtags in your tweets.  Now, don’t go stealing someone else’s hashtags.  For instance, if you’re not a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB, don’t include the #RRBC hashtag in your tweets, or, our many other hashtags specific to our club.  It’s just plain rude, especially when you know better.  That doesn’t apply to just RRBC, though – that’s for any organization that has created a specific hashtag for their group.  (Some organizations might not mind, but extend the courtesy of asking first if the hashtag looks specific to an organization).  At RRBC, our members get credit for the books they read from our  catalog.  That’s the purpose of using those hashtags to bring attention to those books… so to make it easier, we ask that if you’re not a member of the club, please refrain from using our hashtags;
  5. If you’re sending out a quote, try using hashtags like #quotes #quotesdaily #quotestoliveby, etc.  When you do that, those hashtags bring greater attention to your tweets as there are people who search Twitter for such hashtags;
  6. If you’re an author and you write under specific genres, always include your genre in your tweets when promoting your book.  For example, poetry is one of the genres I write under, so when I’m promoting one of my poetry books or even a poem I’m sharing on Twitter, I always use the #poetry hashtag;
  7. When you’re promoting your book(s) or an event, create a hashtag for your book(s) or your event.  For instance, if you search Twitter for #NoPedigree, my short story, you will find a stream of tweets on my book.  If you search Twitter for #NJ12DaysOfAuthors, you will find a stream of tweets for that event, as well.  How about you try searching both and supporting both right after you leave here?  I’d greatly appreciate that and so would the authors in the “12 Days” series!  When I’m tweeting others, I tend to create tweets for their books, as well.  This is a great method when others are looking to support just your book or your event, and they can’t find any tweets on your timeline of your stuff, because you’re so supportive of others!  By the way, being that supportive of others on social media, is an awesome thing!
  8. Lastly and most importantly, before you retweet anything on Twitter, take the time to read the tweet first.  If someone is asking you to support their book, support their cause, or visit their blog, by all means, please do so.  No one succeeds in this world alone, so let’s all help each other out.  Another reason you don’t want to retweet something without reading it first, is you just might be retweeting porn, and if you’re not into porn or you’re a pastor of a church, I can see that mistake turning you beet red and leaving you open to a lot of questions when you realize the huge mistake you’ve made.

I hope this post will help you to become a better tweeter and yanks you right out of tweeter-dum-dum status.  It’s really not hard, at all, especially when you implement the tips above.  You don’t want to be on social media spinning your wheels for naught, do you?  Utilize these tips and watch your Twitter status improve immensely!

Until next time… let’s Tweet!!!

WELCOME TO #RRBC’S ’20 WC&BE SPONSORS BLOG TOUR! @RRBC_Org @nonniejules

Every year, the sponsors of our annual WRITERS’ CONFERENCE & BOOK EXPO, contribute to our event in such a huge way, that we want to take this time and other times throughout the year, to show them just how much we appreciate their kindness and generosity!  We ask that you support each book along the tour by visiting every stop and picking up a copy of each author’s book.  For each stop that you leave a comment at, your name will be entered into a drawing for a $20 Amazon gift card!  The more you follow along and comment, the more times your name goes into the pot! Lastly, before leaving each stop, please like the page and share to your social media platforms!

Thank you for your support of our Sponsors!

***

WINNER OF $20 AMAZON GIFT CARD: 

ANNETTE ROCHELLE ABEN

***

Monday, 4/12/21

“Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River Story and Cookbook”

Tuesday, 4/13/21

“Appassionato”

Wednesday, 4/14/21

“The Altar Boy”

(Please pardon the break in the tour.  Day 4 will resume tomorrow)

Friday, 4/16/21

 “Crazy! Hot! And Living On The Edge!!” 

Saturday, 4/17/21

“Breathless”

Sunday, 4/18/21

“The Enigma Ignite”

Monday, 4/19/21

“When Can I Stop Running?”

Tuesday, 4/20/21

“Apollo’s Raven”

Wednesday, 4/21/21

“Open, Shut”

(Please pardon the break in the tour.  Day 10 will resume tomorrow)

Friday/4/23/21

“The Enigma Wraith”

Saturday, 4/24/21

“The One Discovered”

(Please pardon the break in the tour.  Day 12 will resume tomorrow)

Monday, 4/26/21

“Sir Chocolate and the Strawberry Cream Berries Story and Cookbook”

Tuesday, 4/27/21

“No Pedigree”

Wednesday, 4/28/21

“Cherries”

Thursday, 4/29/21

“The Enigma Beyond” & “The Enigma Threat”

Friday, 4/30/21

“Amulet’s Rapture”

Saturday, 5/1/21

“Bravura” & “Cadenza”

THE END!

The winner of the $20 Amazon Gift Card will be posted here on Monday, 5/3/21!  Good luck, everyone!

Robbie Cheadle in “WHO’S ON THE SHELF” w/ @NonnieJules? – @bakeandwrite @RRBC_Org #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 bookshelf. A lot of interviews merely cover an author’s work or an individual’s career stories. Here on this “SHELF,” we get down and dirty and ask the questions no other interviewer dare ask. We ask the questions that you want to open up a book and find the answers to on your favorite authors and fellow book club members, but, no one has dared to cover them. We get personal! Because, when you sit on this “SHELF,” YOU are an open book! Even if I have to pry you open!

Today, we have a very special guest on the SHELF with us, RRBC  member and our March “SPOTLIGHT” Author, ROBBIE CHEADLE! 

Picture for Whose on the Shelf

NJ:  Before we get started, are you comfy?  We’ve made a few changes since you were last here, and I want to ensure they are to my guests’ liking.  

Robbie: I love the design of the eagle carrying a book. The eagle signifies inspiration, victory, speed and pride, all of which are important qualities for writers.

NJ:  Well, thank you.  I’m glad you like our new logo.  I designed it myself!  Let’s start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name.

Robbie:  I use two versions of my name for publishing purposes: Roberta Eaton is my maiden name and Cheadle is my married name. I use Roberta Eaton Cheadle to publish my YA and adult books and Robbie Cheadle to publish my children’s books and poetry.

The reason I use two versions of my name is to prevent confusion. I wouldn’t like someone to purchase an adult book under the mistaken impression it was for children.

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

Robbie:  I was born in Knightsbridge in London, UK. My biological father died of a heart attack when I was three months old, and my mother decided to move to South Africa. Her sister, Wendy was living in Johannesburg and she offered to take care of me while my mother worked.

NJ:  I’m so sorry to hear about your father, Robbie.  I, too, lost my father early.  Actually, I’ve never met my father.  He died while my mom was carrying me.  So, are you married, single, happily divorced?

Robbie:  I was married for 20 years on the 9th of February 2021.

NJ:  Robbie, we have so much in common already.  We’ll have to chat after the show.  Any kids?  What kind? Do you like them?

Robbie:  I have two sons, Gregory and Michael.  I am very fond of my children … most of the time.

Gregory is a loner, very academic and introverted. He gets these characteristics from me. He is also mathematical, scientific, and logical – he does not get those characteristics from me. He always asks me to test him on his IT, science, and maths. I concede, but I have told him that I think the person who donated the maths gene should suffer through testing him on these subjects – and it’s not me!

Michael is artistic and creative. He is also a last-minute Joe. He takes after me in the first instance and after someone else – maybe the milkman – in the second instance. It causes some interesting clashes to have a laid-back child like Michael living in the same house as three obsessive workaholics. We are lucky to have him to make the sun shine for us.

NJ:  They both seem extra special, Robbie!  But, that being said, if you’re not there already, when you’re old and cranky, which one will keep you at home to care for you themselves, and which one started seeking out the A PLACE FOR MOM franchise facility in your area when they were 9?

Robbie:  At the moment, Michael is planning to live in our house. His brother may continue to live in his bedroom [Michael, his wife, and four diverse adopted children will live in the other rooms]. My husband and I will live in the cottage where my parents currently live.

NJ:  Haha.  Well, at least there’s a plan in place already.  Any pets?  What kind?  They act like kids, too, so I have to ask the same question … do you like them?

Robbie:  Two cats reign on our property. Queen Push-Push bestows a visit on me when she feels she needs some petting. The rest of the time she ignores me and resides on my mother’s couch.

Queen Smudge only has eyes for my dad and follows him around like a dog. When he goes out, Smudgy cries for him until he gets home again.

NJ:  Robbie, I could coo and say something clever like, “Oooooo, how cute,” but, they’re cats, you know?  By the way, my daughter now has a cat and whether or not I’m moving over to the other side, is still up for debate in my home.  I can look at this cat, sometimes.  I still can’t look at other cats … so, there’s that problem.  Robbie, 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 know it’s not a food, but I dream about coffee and would probably go on a hunger strike if I couldn’t have any.

Robbie:  I am very fond of tea and would struggle to get going in the morning without it. I am not much of a foodie and sometimes I forget to eat if I am doing something very absorbing like writing. I enjoy making cakes for the artwork involved, but don’t have a very sweet tooth.

NJ:  WOW!  A cake maker with no sweet tooth?  That is so odd to me!  But good for you – can you imagine the pounds you pack on if you ate everything you made?  Robbie, what’s your favorite color?

Robbie:  Sunshine yellow

NJ:  Honestly, Robbie, you do remind me of sunshine!  That should be your nic-name – Sunshine!  Your smile is so warm and bright, it lights up the room for us virtually so I can imagine what it does for a real room!  Do you have a favorite sport, Robbie?

Robbie:  I am not very sporty, but if pressed would choose tennis.

NJ:  Oh, tennis is for me, as well.  How about a favorite TV Show?

Robbie:  I don’t watch TV, but I used to watch Friends. I would still be my favourite as I haven’t watched another series since.

NJ:  I loved Friends!  Phoebe, Rachel, Monica and the rest of the gang!   Favorite Actress/Actor?

Robbie:  Oooh, such a hard question when you don’t watch TV or movies. I like Olivia Newton-John in Grease. I wanted to be just like her when I was a girl.

NJ:  No way!  One of my favorite musicals – “You’re the one that I love, the one that I love, woo hoo hoo!”  We have way too much in common!  Do you like to exercise to stay fit OR do you not mind walking around with a beer belly?

Robbie:  I like to walk. Since the pandemic started, I have walked around my garden every day. I like to see the changes in the flowers, trees, and birdlife. I listen to audio books while I walk. I am currently nearly finished A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.

NJ:  Good for you!  I am one of the few humans in this world who absolutely LOVE EXERCISE!  I’ve a full gym right inside my home so I never have to leave to take up any new anything in the exercise realm.  Robbie, during this pandemic which we are all still living through right now, what is the one thing you find that relaxes you and calms your mind and spirit, aside from walking?

Robbie:  I like to write; it is a meditation for me. I am transported away from my work and home and disappear into a past situation and life.

NJ:  OK, what’s your favorite kind of music?  

Robbie:  I like Broadway music

NJ:  Favorite song?

Robbie:  Open a new door by Angela Lansbury as performed in Mame

NJ:  Slow dance or jumping around the floor making a fool of yourself?

Robbie:  Jumping around the floor, although I did attend months of ballroom dancing lessons when I was in high school.

NJ:  In 15 words or less, what is the most common thing that the people who really know you,  ALWAYS say about you?  For instance, everyone who knows me all say:  “You always know where she stands on things,” OR, “There’s not another like her in the world,” OR, the one I’m most proud of, “God broke the mold with that one.”

Robbie:  How do you fit in all the things you do?

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.  Just being honest.  It’s the only way I roll).

Robbie:  I am a perfectionist, so I get upset about small things that don’t bother other people, especially on the work front. My job is pernickety and detailed, and I get upset when people think it takes 5 minutes to update an entire spreadsheet and the related documentation for a stock exchange filing.

NJ:  Perfectionist, huh?  I resemble that remark!  So, are you neat or messy?

Robbie:  Neat

NJ:  Me, too!  The only messy place in my home is my office, but you have to remember that a clean, uncluttered desk is the sign of a sick mind and my desk is way messy!  Robbie, are you nice or mean?  Is that your perception of you, or is that what others think of you?  I’m mean and I know it.  There’s no sense in denying it, because if I did, it would be a lie.  I doubt that many refer to me as nice and I’m OK with that.  Quite often, people mistake your directness for something else anyway, and, I’m OK with that, too!

Robbie:  I can be both. I try to be nice, but I am sometimes mean. This is usually when I am stressed and overworked. I try to help people and am patient when showing people how to do things at work and at home. I get annoyed if people are lazy though, and aren’t motivated to embrace learning and personal improvement.

I have been called a philanthropist by my colleagues because I like to help people in need. I am part of my firm’s outreach programmes and my family also do our own private outreach for select organisations.

NJ:  Good for you, Robbie!  Some of us have been encountering people lately who appear to be sweet, kind and gentle sheep on the surface, but then, there comes a time when they make the mistake of letting their real self shine through.  Have you run into any of those kinds online?

Robbie:  I try to be understanding about people, and not judge them when they do something out of character or that I don’t like. As an outsider, I don’t know what is happening in someone’s personal life that could make them lash out or be upset about something that doesn’t bother me.

Social media doesn’t reflect the truth of peoples lives as people don’t hang their dirty washing out for others to see. They share pictures of the good things in their lives, but rarely the negative things. I had a friend who got divorced and never once had I seen any hint that all was not well between her and her husband on social media. All the photographs were ‘happy family’ types.

It is also much easier to write doubled edged comments on social media when you don’t have the person you are hurting visibly in front of you. These are the downsides of social media, but there are also lots of positives. Like everything in life, you must apply your mind and make your own decisions about things you see and read.

NJ:  That sounds sweet.  I just have a knack for seeing people for who they really are and not for who they would love for the world to believe they are. I call that my “gift” and it serves me very well.  Now, Facebook or Twitter?

Robbie:  They have different purposes and strengths and I use both. I believe I get the best from both too.

NJ:  OK. Snapchat or Instagram?  By the way, I use neither.

Robbie:  I have never tried Snapchat. I do like Instagram. I like the small peeps into peoples lives that photographs offer. I enjoy seeing pictures of flowers, places, and even food and drinks.

NJ:  Now we’re getting into the hard questions – Coke or Pepsi, Robbie?

Robbie:  It has to be Coke. Pepsi isn’t big in South Africa.

NJ:  Diet soda or regular?

Robbie:  Diet, but only 1 a day. I can’t say I limit myself with my tea though. I have about 5 cups of tea a day.

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?

Robbie:  Oh, Nonnie, I can’t give you one person. I have so many wonderful supportive friends in the blogosphere. I have found the writing, author, and blogging community to be a generous and supportive one and I have met many wonderful people.

I am in email contact with some of my blogging friends. I especially enjoy older people who have the time to share pictures and fun bits of information about their lives. I like that.

NJ:  Good for you, Robbie.  And you know what?  I enjoy the company of much older people than I do any other group of folks.  They have so much to share and their stories are always so interesting.  Who do you favor most:  Nonnie Jules or Wonder Woman? Be honest.

Robbie:  Ha! Well isn’t Nonnie Jules Wonder Woman?

NJ:  Well, I know that she used to be but, she’s getting way older now – not sure how much wonder is still left in that woman! 

Robbie, 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.

Robbie:  I think that Nonnie Jules and Wonder Woman appeal to different groups of people. Wonder Woman is a fictional cartoon person aimed [I think] at influencing mainly young people to discover their truth and live a better life.

Nonnie, on the other hand, could positively influence young people, but her reach would be more among adults who have experienced more of life. I believe it is harder to make an impression on, and change the thinking of, people who are older as they have often been influenced by hardship and bad experiences. Young people are of an open mindset and embrace change with great passion. Older people are cautious and more difficult to shift in their ways. Of the two, Nonnie’s job is harder than Wonder Woman’s.

Robbie:  Thank you, Robbie.  By the way, I have mentored young girls since my eldest daughter was in 3rd grade – so, for about 25 plus years, I’ve molded young minds, believe it or not.  Name two favorite INDIE books that you’ve read by RRBC members.

Robbie:  Of my recent reads [end of last year and this year], the books by RRBC members which have impacted me the most are Mennonite Daughter by Marian Longnecker Beaman and The Jewel, a short story by Breakfiedl and Burkey.

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

Robbie:  From a content perspective, it would choose Vanished by Mark Bierman.

NJ:  What was so great about it?

Robbie:  Mark deals sensitively, but revealingly, with the shocking topic of child trafficking. This is a terrible scourge in southern Africa and close to my heart. I can’t bear to think of children being mistreated like this.

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

Robbie:  Yes, always

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

Robbie:  I can’t comment on other readers review, but I base mine on the following 5 points:

  1. Uniqueness / importance of the topic and content. If it’s a fictional story, it should be unique and different. If it is a book with a non-fiction topic, like child trafficking or war, or a memoir, then it should be relevant and meaningful.
  2. Characterisation – How did I relate to the characters? Did I care about them and feel their pain?
  3. Use of language – Was the writing interesting and passionate? Did the writer care about the characters and themes of the book? Did this come across well?
  4. Research – Are there historical or other errors in the book? Was the author able to suspend my disbelief and keep me engaged in the story? Did the behaviour of the characters ring true?
  5. Formatting and editing – Were there errors in the book and was the formatting poor. These are things that distract me as a reader and are correctable. I feel it is necessary to mention poor editing or formatting as a warning to other readers who may find them more distracting than I do. This being said, if a story is engaging, I may miss these sorts of things as my eye jumps over them or automatically corrects them.

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?

Robbie:  I do my best to be honest. As mentioned above, I read quickly and become very absorbed by stories. Things that may annoy other readers may not even blimp on my reading radar. My main objective when reviewing a book is whether I enjoy it and it kept me entertaining, informed, and engaged.

NJ:  Read any poorly edited or poorly written books lately?

Robbie:  No, none that have been very badly edited. Most authors seem to have ways of reducing editorial errors through writers’ groups, the use of private editing services, or Beta Readers. I have read a few books that have been disjointed and difficult to follow. The author has jumped around from scene to scene randomly with no common thread. It disturbs the flow of the book and sometimes the scenes never come together. This is more of a developmental editing point.

*How many poorly written or poorly edited books have you read that you gave high marks to in your reviews, when you knew they didn’t deserve the high marks?  Be honest, I won’t ask you to name the books here in public.

Robbie:  My ratings are largely driven by the quality and uniqueness of the story and the characterisation. I read for pleasure and rarely read a book that doesn’t teach me something new and interesting. I do not read with a writer’s hat on and things that might upset other author-readers do not bother me. I read a lot of classic books and those don’t follow modern writing rules. Many of them go into lengthily descriptions and do lots of telling and not showing, but that doesn’t deter from my rating or enjoyment of the story. Every person’s enjoyment of a story is individual and no two readers will express the same opinion about the same story.

NJ:  Robbie, I beg to differ on that last statement you made – I feel that readers can absolutely have the same opinions of one book.  Either they all notice the hiccups in a story, or they all notice none.  Either they all found that a book was a great read, or they didn’t. 

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?

Robbie:  I think Nonnie Jules has provided an excellent platform with RRBC for Indie authors to learn and develop, meet other like-minded individuals, and also learn from reading and reviewing other writers’ books. RWISA is an extension of this platform for writers who have taken their involvement and learning to a higher level within the club.

There are a number of individual bloggers who have helped me significantly with learning how to blog and respond to comments, put together blog tours, and meet other authors, writers, and bloggers through participating in writing prompts.

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

Robbie:  I am an author, but I am new to fiction writing having published my first children’s book in August 2016. I am learning and can see the progress and development from book to book. I have only recently launched my first adult novel about the Second Anglo Boer War (Great South African War). I am good at research and my pernickety job has stood me in good stead in the genre I believe is my niche which is paranormal historical. I have written several non-fiction publications for work purposes and learned a lot through the editing and publishing process these large volumes went through.

I believe my story ideas are good, my research is excellent, and my writing skills such as dialogue and showing not telling have improved significantly so I think I can now say my books are an entertaining read. I believe writing is an area where you never stop learning and improving.  

NJ:  How long have you been writing?

Robbie:  I have been writing fiction since about June 2015 and published my first children’s book in August 2016.

I started writing non-fiction publications in 2012. My job, however, has involved writing circulars, pre-listing statements, announcements and other formal documents for companies listed on the JSE Limited (Johannesburg Stock Exchange) since 2001. Prior to that, I wrote due diligence reports for use by transaction companies. Reading this over, I see that I have always written large documents.

NJ:  This is the most important question that you’ll get here today.  Are you able to take constructive criticism of your written work?

Robbie:  Yes, as mentioned above, my work has always involved a lot of report writing and documentation and have always been subject to scrutiny and commentary from other advisors including more than one set of lawyers and tax advisors as well as the regulators at the stock exchange. I have learned to accept feedback and comments as a necessary part of learning and personal growth. These same benefits apply to fiction writing and constructive criticism [or in my case developmental editing] from others.

NJ:  How do you handle negative reviews of your work?  Are you able to shake them off and move on?

Robbie:  Yes, negative reviews fall into two categories in my opinion. Comments and criticism that I can address and use to improve or comments and criticism that relate to aspects that are outside my control.

If the comments relate to editing or writing methodologies, then I take them on board and either correct my book [editing issues] or try and improve in the identified areas going forward.

If the comments relate to the genre of the book, its themes or plot, or things like late delivery by the retailer, then I consider them, but generally accept that not everyone will like my book and I can’t control all aspects of its sale.

NJ:  Good answers.  Name two books that you’ve written? 

Open a new door, a collection of poetry 

Open a New Door by Robbie Cheadle

Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook 

Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River by Robbie Cheadle

NJ:  Which one do you think is the best?

Robbie:  They are not comparable as one is for adults and one is a picture book for children. I like to think they are both enjoyable. The poetry book is special to me because it is specifically about life in South Africa and the poems discuss poverty, corruption, beauty, corporate live, and family life. They are quite personal and meaningful to me.

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?

Robbie:  I have two blogs and I have been trying to ensure I read my posts more carefully before sharing. I am making an effort to avoid silly writing mistakes and spelling errors caused by hasted. I was given some advice in this regard and an endeavouring to implement that advice.

NJ:  Good for you, Robbie!  Which online resource or organization has helped you as an author the most?

I belong to a few on-line organisations including:

RRBC

A writer’s group; and

An on-line book club

NJ:  How were you helped by them?

RRBC is a supportive club for authors and writers and provides a platform for learning about writing through its on-line writing conferences, and other programmes. Members can also meet and engage with new authors and learn about their books, as well as participate in on-line meetings to discuss reviews of various books. There are all useful opportunities and I have benefited from them all.

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?

Robbie:  As mentioned above, I think RRBC is a supportive community of talented writers who work together, under the excellent leadership of Nonnie Jules, to provide a lot of interesting discussion groups and learning opportunities for members. As I’ve mentioned before, the opportunities are there for the members to grasp and make the most of, it is up to individuals to do that and become involved to the extent possible for them, given their own life situations and circumstances.

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

Robbie:  No, I think RRBC is unique.

NJ:  We definitely are.  Many have tried to copy our model but there’s only one RRBC!  Would you recommend it to your friends and family?

Robbie:  Yes, definitely!

NJ:  Why, thank you, Ms. Robbie!  Are you a member of the prestigious RWISA?  If so, what do you think of it?

Robbie:  I have not yet achieved membership of RWISA.

From my perspective, RWISA is an extension of the comradery and support provided by RRBC, offered to people who have worked hard at fine tuning their writing and taking it to a higher level.

NJ:  I like your “not yet” …  that means you will one day join us.  I know of no other organization like RWISA where the standard of your writing is first and foremost regarded as top priority, so, I am extremely proud of RWISA

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

Robbie: I liked the writers’ conference best. I learned a lot of new things during that period and met more members of RRBC.

NJ:  Robbie, it is our most anticipated event of the year.  Now, this shelf is getting hard on my hiney so we’re going to wrap this interview up.  Any final words for our audience today?

Robbie:  I hope that readers of this interview have enjoyed learning a bit more about me and my books and also the on-line platforms, like RRBC, which have helped me develop as a writer and learn about the craft of writing and about publishing and marketing.

Thank you, Nonnie, for this lovely interview and opportunity.

NJ:  Thank you, Robbie, for joining me here today – it was such a pleasure to have you again.  You were with me last October so it was a treat to see some of your changes .  Visitors, I ask that you pick up a copy of either of Robbie’s books above. Please be sure to leave her a comment below as she loves to chat!  

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

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

***

DISCLAIMER:  RRBC does not alter the writing of any guest who has participated in our interviews.  As we do not know the author’s intent in their writing, it is not our place to make any changes, therefore, we post material exactly as it is submitted to us.

ARE THEY ALL ‘REALLY’ 4 & 5-STAR REVIEWS? @RRBC_Org @RRBC_RWISA @Tweets4RWISA #RRBC

This was a post we ran in January of 20202 but I felt like it was a good time to dust it off and present it again.

We complain about Amazon a lot, don’t we?  Belonging to a community of writers and reviewers, the number one gripe that I hear most is, “Amazon has removed another one of my reviews!” Although Amazon has never been this nasty to me, I can fully understand someone else’s frustration with this issue.  I would be upset and frustrated, too, if it happened to me.  But, am I the only one noticing that some reviewers only read 4 and 5-star books?  I mean, how do they always get so lucky?

When I became a book reviewer, not even half of the books that I was asked to review came close to being worthy of 3 stars, let alone, 4 and 5.  And, although I had taken a break from reviewing the past couple of years because of my busy schedule (I’m reviewing again now), my review queue still never fell short of books for me to flip through.  Lastly, no matter how much I preached HONEST REVIEWS around my community, I continued to see that some weren’t grasping the sermon.

By now, the entire world knows how I feel about everyone being given the opportunity to publish any and everything.  Just as everyone wasn’t born to write or perform open-heart surgery, everyone can’t review books properly.  And, no matter how many times you hear otherwise, there is a right and a wrong way to do everything … even review a book.  Yes, I said that!

Some of you love to say, “But, what one views as trash, the next person might find to be treasure,” and although that might be true in some areas, it will never change the fact that if a book isn’t well-written (98% error-free) with realistic dialogue, believable characters, and a powerfully crafted storyline (an engaging story that won’t allow the reader to fall asleep while reading it), it doesn’t warrant a 4 or 5-star review.  Truth be told, if any of what I just mentioned is missing from a book, it doesn’t deserve even 3 stars from where I sit. So, why are more and more of these books being given such high marks?

The truth of the matter is … those who freely dole out these high marks aren’t any more special than you and me.  They are reading the very same books we are, but the only difference is, they haven’t quite learned how to review properly, OR, they are afraid of posting honest reviews.  Notice how I didn’t leave room for any grey area there – I didn’t, because there isn’t any.  This is a black and white issue – either you don’t know how to review properly, OR you’re afraid of telling the actual truth publicly about books you’ve read.  For some of you, I’m leaning towards the latter. It saddens me that there is terror behind being honest in a review.

When these so-called reviewers leave their 4 and 5-star reviews of every or almost every book they’ve read, it hurts all of us – and then we wonder why Amazon decides to pull or delay the posting of some of our reviews.  Maybe they’re seeing a pattern that doesn’t make much sense to them, either.

Maybe, like me, they question those reviews that are all 4 and 5 stars.  Maybe, like me, they know that there is no way on God’s green earth that every book we read can fall into this rating class, especially with any and everyone being allowed the honor of publishing a book today.

I may come across to some of you as being really harsh in regard to this topic, but, I make no apologies about the passion that I feel regarding this issue.  Why?  Because this affects all of us, not just some.  If you’ve been lucky enough to not have been a target of Amazon (yet), just keep breathing.  As long as there are those who continue to post reviews under the reasons that I have listed above, we’re all just sitting ducks waiting for the hammer to come down on our heads.

We all have negative feelings about Amazon, and especially about the power that they have and how they wield that power, but, I think they are catching on to the fact that a lot of these reviews are bogus as heck, and I for one, am excited about that.  Hooray!  Finally, I can point to something that Amazon is doing right!

When you review under the umbrella of non-truth or ignorance as I’ve laid out above, you’re also jeopardizing your reputation as a writer.  I can’t tell you how many authors who I once admired because of their remarkable acumen into the written word, have changed my opinion of them simply by a review that they have posted.  Now, because I admired these authors for their own written works, that led me to believe that they know what good/great writing looks like, but, it saddened me that they just couldn’t find it in themselves to be honest in certain reviews.  Out of fear? Fear of what?  Retaliation against their own work?  Fear that they would lose an internet-buddy?  Fear of an adult throwing a tantrum on social media over a review they received? Well, we’ve all seen it all. Whatever the situation, if you resemble the picture that I have painted throughout this piece, know that you’re causing irreparable harm to your reputation when you leave such reviews.

Have you noticed a trend of high marks in reviews lately? And do you feel that dishonest reviews hurt authors?

Well, If My Friend Can’t, I Won’t, Either! @RRBC_Org @RRBC_RWISA @Tweets4RWISA #RRBC #RWISA

Being President of the amazing RRBC & RWISA, I have no shortage of material to blog about daily. If only time would allow me the privilege. But, do know that once I commit my thoughts to this virtual paper, there’s a real lesson that’s about to be delivered.

How many of you can recall being in elementary school and refusing to play at recess because your friend who had been so disrespectful to the teacher, was made to sit out as punishment?

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I remember those kids, but for certain, I wasn’t one of them. If my friends got into trouble for behaving badly, you better believe they were on their own. I wasn’t missing out on hopscotch for any reason!

I have never been a follower. Leadership is in my blood. I came from a place where poor (bad) behavior was never rewarded, and that is the exact same way that I taught the many kids who have come up under my charge over the years. It’s also the way I lead my club of adults. Let me repeat that louder … my club of ADULTS. You see, when poor behavior is rewarded, it sends the message that it’s OK to continue behaving poorly, without having to worry about any consequences.

Once learning that their classmates were troublemakers, or unkind, or even taking part in bullying another child, my daughters would quickly move away from those kids, without Mommy or Daddy having to instruct them to do so. You know the spiel … “I don’t want you hanging around that little girl…”? Nope, not once have I ever had to have that conversation with my kids. They just knew.

Since jumping on social media, what I am seeing more often than I’d like to admit because it’s so embarrassing for the ones involved, is how some adults behave just as the elementary school kids I reference above. {Reference the black and white header photo above}. You notice that they are great followers, sometimes even blindly. But, what is mind-boggling, is how they will almost jump to their deaths to follow their “internet buddies,” committing professional suicide, all because of their “internet buddies'” poor behavior. Some of you are shrugging your shoulders at this because your reputation as a Professional doesn’t mean that much to you, right? Or does it?

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When you choose to not participate in, leave, or quit something because you’re following your “internet buddy” whose poor behavior forced them to go, that is weakness in its finest form. That shows that whatever your “internet buddies” do, you’ll do. It also shows an inability to stand on your own morals and on your own two feet. Lastly, it shows a lack of courage to stand in your own truth, lest your “internet buddy” chooses to stop being your “internet buddy.” (How old are we again?) And, are we really willing to risk it all for someone who exhibits that which we have repeatedly professed to stand against? If the response is YES, I suppose we stood against those ideals up until such time they began to clash with the sudden onset of poor behavior displayed by our “internet buddy.”

How about if your “internet buddy” said they were jumping off a cliff – are you jumping, too? Believe me, they are counting on you to follow close behind and it is comical when some of you do. (Take a lesson from this guy – he’s watched his friend jump and is looking down, shaking his head at the stupidity he’s witnessed).

Man looking over cliff

What about if you learned they failed their college courses and wouldn’t be graduating – are you going to turn down your degree, as well?

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Yes, this is how foolish it looks when you choose to lose or give up something good because of someone else and their poor behavior.

After having served as President of RRBC & RWISA for the past 8 years, there isn’t much that surprises me about some people anymore. At this point, I have seen it all and am able to call “it” before “it” even happens – “it” being the behavior and actions of some.

My daughters are adults now, but I still like to model the behavior I always want to see in them. That’s why you’ll always see me standing in my truths, and always deeply grounded in my Professionalism. And although I love you all dearly, I’m never walking away from, giving up, or leaving a good thing just so you’ll continue being my “internet buddy.” I would be embarrassed for anyone to look at me as being that weak.

I’m no longer a child, therefore, I packed away my childish ways along with the other nonsense from my childhood many, many years ago. Can you say the same, or are you also preparing to follow your “internet buddies” right off the cliff? It won’t be hard to recognize the ones who do.

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How The Professionals Handle Negative Book Reviews #RRBC @RRBC_Org @RRBC_RWISA @Tweets4RWISA

If you follow my blogs, you should know by now that when I post, there will always be a lesson to be gleaned from each post.  This one will be no different.  By now you should also know that I don’t sugarcoat things.  I’ll leave that to those who don’t know how to appreciate a world of truths. 

We’ve all been there … on the dirty end of a negative book review. And although negative book reviews cut some deeper than others, they all leave us with a special feeling – the need for a good cry, or they might even give us a hearty chuckle – that’s if you don’t feel that reviews “define” you, which clearly they do for some.

RRBC was founded almost 10 years ago because of a strong need for a place to go and get truly honest reviews of your books;  a place where the courage to be honest in reviews, was and still is, strongly encouraged;  a place where readers of all backgrounds could read reviews and know that they had come from a place of pure truth – ugly warts and all.

If you’ve ever sat in on an episode of RAVE WAVES “RATERS NOT HATERS,” you know that Shirley Harris-Slaughter is a really great reviewer in that she gives an honest opinion of the books she has read.  And what makes her great at what she does as host of that show, is her courage to be honest about the books she’s read.

Since the inception of RATERS NOT HATERS, many books have been profiled on the show … even mine.  And although we may not like it when the host points out issues in our books, here are three awesome things about this show and its host, that you can always take straight to the bank…

  1. The host never discusses her reviews with anyone before the show.  What you see when you get there is not Bravo reality TV – it’s honest reality, in typical RRBC-style;
  2. Her reviews are always honest and unbiased.  It doesn’t matter how much she loves you, she is going to be truthful about what she has read.  Whether your book was amazing, and even if there were too many hiccups for her to get through the read smoothly, she will always share that truth;
  3. And here is the most important factor that I’d like for you to stew in for a long while:  The integrity of Shirley Harris-Slaughter is above reproach…

…and when I know that her integrity is being questioned and is under attack because someone didn’t like the review she gave their book (especially as host of RATERS NOT HATERS), that’s when you get to hear from me, and hearing from me via this format, is not always a comfortable place.

When we review books, we don’t have to take the time to share with the authors privately the issues we may have found in their books.  If someone does that for you, be grateful for that gift, but expecting that everyone is going to do that, is your entitlement on full display.  I’m the President and Founder of RRBC & RWISA and I’m not entitled to that privilege, so, if someone extends to me that courtesy, I am deeply honored, but in no way at all do I feel it is my right to have it.  No one owes us anything.  We should just be thankful that there are those who are brave enough and who care about us enough, to be truly honest about issues they find in our books, as opposed to walking around with a chip on our shoulder because we’re not being praised (and because someone’s truth hurt our little feelings). 

If you’re going to survive and thrive in this business, you need a thick skin – no, I don’t mean talking the talk about thick skin, I mean walking the walk, and showing the world that you have what it takes to be here and remain here.  If you’re upset about editing issues found in your book, the person or persons you need to take that up with and be upset with, is the person or persons who edited your book!  Please, thank the messenger – don’t attempt to disparage them.

A member recently felt compelled to send Paula a message stating that they didn’t want to post their review publicly of a book they’d read, but wanted to know if they would still be credited for the review.  Yes, they were afraid they might get attacked if they posted their 3-star review with mention of editing issues found in the book.  Is this what we’re being reduced to?  Adults professing to be Professionals yet throwing tantrums, causing some to be afraid to share their truth publicly?  WRONG ORGANIZATION FOR THAT NONSENSE!

So, let me get to the gist of this post and tell you what true PROFESSIONALS do and don’t do when they receive negative reviews or reviews pointing out issues found in their books:

  • If the review was clearly not posted by a “troll,” they thank the person for taking the time to read and review their book and they do it with a sincere heart;
  • They don’t go around trying to drum up support from others stating that someone gave them a bad review because “they must be jealous of me.”  What do you think you have that others might be jealous of?  I’m just curious;
  • They don’t take to social media with passive-aggressive posts about the reviewer, under the guise of only trying to help others get past bad reviews.  No, let’s be honest here, you’re trying to drum up sympathy for your hurt pride when you stoop to that level;
  • They don’t go around seeking validation from others (those they know will only praise them), asking, “Did you find anything wrong with my book?”  Seriously?
  • And after all of the above is said and done, they do absolutely nothing!  They let it roll off their backs and they go about their merry way without nary another word of it.  Professional status, still intact.

That’s how real Professionals handle negative book reviews, comments, or even being profiled on RATERS NOT HATERS – where they rate, not hate! They don’t let it consume them.  They don’t lose sleep over it.  They recognize that a review is only someone’s opinion and they move on from it.  And if they must vent, they do it privately, so as not to alert the world that they can’t handle the truth about their books.  That’s it!  That’s how the real pros handle these situations.  They don’t turn it into something messy, ugly, and divisive.

When you behave in such a manner, all you’re doing is keeping readers away from your books, especially those who you can be assured will be “honest” about your book and its issues.  Who’s going to waste their time purchasing, reading, and reviewing a book when they know the author throws tantrums when they read or hear something they don’t like?  Who in their right mind would bother? 

I want everyone to hear me loud and clear.  I’m not here to win any popularity contests and I’m sure I have more nay-sayers than I do fans.  Why?  Because I stand in my truths and I have no cowardice in my DNA and those two combinations are lethal to some in our literary community.  Actually, Nonnie only cares about the opinions of those who feed, clothe, provide shelter, and love and support her.  If you’re in that class of people, thank you!  So, with that being said, I’m going to always give it to you straight with no chasers, and if you don’t like it, well, eventually, you’ll get over it.  When I am witness to ugly behavior, unprofessional behavior, and adult tantrums, expect that I will speak out about it and call it out for what it is.  Enough is enough.  If this post feels like it’s directed at you, then maybe it is, and you should do a better job of trying to convince others that you are this Professional who can handle constructive critiques of your work, because what you are displaying, is shouting the total opposite of that.

I don’t know how many times I can say that I removed my first novel from Amazon over 4 years ago.  Why?  Not because someone pointed out any issues (but, I wish they would have) – no, it was the opposite.  I looked at it through eyes that have grown considerably since I penned that book and it wasn’t worthy of sitting on Amazon for anyone to purchase. It hasn’t been returned to Amazon and it won’t be until I have the time to give it a proper re-edit.  Now, if I can say that about my own work, know that I, along with the host of RATERS NOT HATERS, will always be honest about what we recognize as issues with yours.  

We’ve had many leave our beautiful club because they couldn’t handle hearing the truth about their writing, and all I have to say to that is, it’s their loss and I wish them the best of luck.  We only grow when we’re being fed the truth and continually challenged to put our best foot forward in our writing.  And by the way, RRBC & RWISA will only cease to function when Nonnie walks out the door.  

What does it make you when you can point out the problems in the work of others, yet you throw a tantrum when the truth of issues with your own work are presented to you as a gift and you scoff at it?  I call it a gift because when someone is honest with you about your work, it is a gift and you owe the donor a huge amount of gratitude.  Stop professing to be and actually work at being.  I’m quite certain that the best version of you, professionally and personally, is waiting to be introduced to the world.

Stop shouting, “You know me, I can handle the truth…” when you really can’t. Stop saying that you want to be told about issues found in your books when you really don’t.  How many of you really do, though?  I don’t want to waste my time bringing something to your attention, only to find out later I’m the subject of one of your tweets.

Thanks for dropping by and I wish for you all a lifetime of Happy Reading and nothing but HONEST REVIEWING!  That’s all that we want to be shared here in our forums – honest reviews.

Lisa Kirazian in “WHO’S ON THE SHELF” w/@NonnieJules – #RRBC @kirazian

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 have to be an open book! Even if I have to pry you open!

Today, we have a special guest on the SHELF with us, RRBC / RWISA member,  Author, LISA KIRAZIAN!

NJ:  Before we get started, how do you like the design and feel of my new shelf?  We updated it in 2017 and in all honesty, I can’t recall any accidents lately, so I think this redesign is working.  It’s time for another new update but maybe later in the year. Are you comfy?

LISA:  Yes — it’s clear and clean, a nice refresh! Like a sunroom or peaceful patio with a comfy chair.

NJ:  Oh, it’s definitely clean and clear of clutter … otherwise, I’d have to ban myself to that island where messy folks are sent.  So, let’s jump right in since we’re running a little behind and start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name.

Lisa:  My pen name, Lisa Kirazian, is my maiden name. My married last name is Kradjian, which is very similar. So there is sometimes confusion. I was publishing before I was married so it made sense to keep my maiden name as my pen name, but for everything else, I’ve changed my name to Kradjian.

NJ:  How funny that your two last names would be so similar!  Is it a cultural thing – the K – zian?  You can answer that later for me.  Tell us where you were born?  Do you still live there now?  If not, what city and state are you calling home these days?

Lisa:  I was born and raised in San Diego in an Armenian American family. I have also lived in Palo Alto when I was a student at Stanford, in the Bay Area, and in Los Angeles, but San Diego was home from birth to age 24 and then from age 29 until now. I came back to live in San Diego when I got married and have been here ever since. You never think you are going to end up back in your hometown, but I am glad for it.

NJ:  Sounds awesome.  For me, I never assumed that I’d leave my hometown and I didn’t, of course, but others are clearly braver and more adventurous than I am.  So, you’re married.  To whom and for how long?  

Lisa:  Married to my husband Steve for 20 years.

NJ:  20 years – unheard of during these times, would you agree?  Good for you!  Any kids?  What kind? Do you like them?

Lisa:  2 daughters, ages 11 and 15. Yes, I like them. And I love them.

NJ:  Well, of course, we have to love them, but, I’m told sometimes there are some that aren’t that likable.  OK, if you’re not there already, when you’re old and cranky, which one will keep you at home to care for you themselves, and which one started seeking out the A PLACE FOR MOM franchise facility in your area when they were 9?

Lisa:  The jury is still out on this one :).

NJ:  See!  Again.  We have to love them…  Hahaha.  Any pets?  What kind?  They act like kids, too, so I have to ask the same question…do you like them?

Lisa:  Australian Labradoodle named Zoe who is 2. Our fluff ball – yes, we love her.

NJ:  Oh, I’d love to see a picture of that one!  She sounds gorgeous.  Maybe have one posted to your RRBC Author Page.  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?

Lisa:  Too many to name! Five rolled tacos with guac from Roberto’s. Very San Diego. 

NJ:  What’s your favorite color?  

Lisa:  Red and Black

NJ:  Favorite sport…

Lisa:  Baseball (I used to play softball)

NJ:  Favorite TV Show…

Lisa:  SNL

NJ:  Really?  I never fell into that like everyone else did.  OK.  Favorite Actress/Actor…

Lisa:   June Allyson.

NJ:  Do you like to exercise to stay fit OR do you not mind walking around with a beer belly?

Lisa:  Clearly, I don’t mind the pudge. But I am working on getting back in shape!

NJ:  During this pandemic which we are all living through right now, what is the one thing you find that relaxes you and calms your mind and spirit?

Lisa:  Praying, number one. Also journaling, watching favorite movies, watching baseball, listening to music.

NJ:  In 15 words or less, what is the most common thing that the people who really know you, ALWAYS say about you?  For instance, everyone who knows me all say: “You always know where she stands on things. You’re never left to wonder.”

Lisa:  “You are funny without even trying.” (6 words)

“Loving for sure.” (3 words)

“You are selfless, kind, hardworking, understanding.” (6 words)

15 total 😉

NJ:  Well, OK!  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).

Lisa:  Too many pet peeves. Gotta work on that. But given that we are in a book club, I’d say people who say “irregardless!” AGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!  STOPPPP!! IT’S NOT A WORD!

NJ:  LOL!  I’m on the floor with that one, Lisa!  But, irregardless of how you feel about the word…it looks like a word to me.  Hahaha!!! 

…So, are you neat or messy?

Lisa:  Messy.

NJ:  Well at least you didn’t beat around the bush about it.  Thank goodness!  Here’s another – are you nice or mean?  Is that your perception of you, or is that what others think of you?

Lisa:  Nice. Amazingly, other say so. I’m not sure I am…

NJ:  Facebook or Twitter?

Lisa:  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?

Lisa:  An awesome gal and former literary manager named Jenny Frankfurt. We’ve spoken for years, she has given advice on my work, we send each other birthday fundraiser gifts and books, vote the same way, etc., but have never met!

NJ:  How cool!  I have one of those.  Who’s the one person that you’ve met online who makes you laugh the hardest?

Lisa:  The author Anne Lamott, so witty and down to earth and insightful. Love her.

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

I’m sorry but I’ve been a Wonder Woman fiend since elementary school. I was obsessed with Lynda Carter and wanted to be her. I collected all things Wonder Woman. I went to the early days of the Comic Con in San Diego when it was just a little hotel room with cardboard boxes of comic books and movie stills, looking for Wonder Woman comic books. I practiced twirling like her. I made my own “bullet proof” wristbands and truth lasso. I have the whole TV series on DVD and can still sing the theme song. I’m still obsessed even now in the Gal Gadot era.

NJ:  That Wonder Woman?  Name two favorite INDIE books that you’ve read by RRBC members:

Lisa:  “Rave Soup for the Writer’s Soul: An Anthology, 1st and 2nd Editions.” To see the breadth and depth of the writers in RRBC is inspiring and motivating — it keeps me on my toes to see not only how dedicated they are but how prolific they are, and how supportive they are of each other.  I love immersing in multiple forms as well, because I’m a hybrid writer myself, working across genres. The anthologies are true snapshots of the club.

NJ:  Glad you like those anthologies.  Give us the name of ONE good INDIE book you’ve read written by an RRBC member that was so good you wished the entire world would read it.

 Lisa:  My favorite piece of writing by RRBC in recent memory is Karen Black’s short story, “A Candle in the Darkness.” (A recent RWISA U grad, no less!)

NJ: What was so great about it?

Lisa:  I don’t want to give anything away in “A Candle in the Darkness,” but I have not been able to stop thinking about it — slow and steady and then taking the reader in an unexpected direction. It affected me because I did not expect the outcome, and it has fascinated me ever since. Plus, it was very visual, very ethereal. And I can’t drive by and look at a roadside motel in the same way again.

NJ:  I’m sure Karen will be pleased to hear that.  Moving on, after you read books, do you post reviews?

Lisa:  Yes.

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

Lisa:  The quality and “heart” of the book, the distinct elements of the author’s craft, and the uniqueness of the story/idea.

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?  

Lisa:  I don’t know them so I can’t be afraid of them getting upset 🙂 But I always season with lots of grace. My father was a professional literary and music critic, as well as a literature professor, and he was always surrounded by people who loved to hear the sound of their own voice in their critiques and lectures and loved putting other authors or artists down to somehow elevate themselves. He always said that no matter how awful a book or play or film was that he was reviewing, he would ALWAYS find something good or noteworthy to say about it, so that the review was balanced. As a writer and a composer himself, he knew how challenging it was. I try to do the same.

NJ:  Read any poorly written books lately?

Lisa:  No. I don’t have enough time to read as much as I’d like, such that I would read so many books where a clunker would even be in there. I haven’t even read all the classics I want to read — and I was an English major!

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?

Lisa:  If you’re talking in the context of RRBC, I would say you and Jan Sikes. You challenge us to raise our game. And you both motivate me to take ownership of the ENTIRE process — not just the writing and revising, but the marketing and social media/web content as well. I do think that’s how writers have to be now, and from now on: they have to take the reins of the entire process but still allow others to come alongside to help, advise, and give needed feedback.

NJ:  No, actually I was speaking generally.  There are some innovators and trailblazers outside of RRBC, but, moving right along – are you an author?  Are you a good one?  C’mon, we love honesty here.

Lisa:  Yes and Yes.

NJ:  How long have you been writing?

Lisa:  Since age 5. I had my first stage play produced when I was 18.

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

Lisa:  Yes. 

NJ:  Name two books that you’ve written.

Lisa:  Bravura and Appassionato 

NJ:  Which one do you think is the best?

Lisa:  Not sure. Bravura is the strongest world-creation. Appassionato is the most relationally raw and honest. 

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

Lisa:  Stanford Alumni, UCLA Extension. RRBC

NJ:  How were you helped by them?

Lisa:  Mentorship from Stanford, practical coursework from UCLA, and opportunities/reviews/exposure from RRBC!

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?

Lisa:  It’s fantastic. I am writing about it in one of my guest blog posts this month and have loved writing about it before. It is totally unique in terms of the support and the exposure for writers. And it is ahead of its time in terms of being online and international long before COVID demanded book clubs and writers’ conferences and arts organizations transition their programming online. The fact that we can be online or on a radio show talking with fellow writers from England, Africa, the U.S. and more, is remarkable.

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

Lisa:  Nope. For the reasons I shared above. And I go more into detail about that in one of my guest blog posts this month.

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

Lisa:  I have! But they are not as fully active in their writing yet as they hope to be. Hopefully soon!

NJ:  Are you a member of the prestigious RWISA?  If so, what do you think of it?

Lisa:  Yes. Also a great honor. As writers we always want to be getting better, pushing ourselves more. RWISA represents that for me. It challenges me to keep up my writing and revising on a regular basis. I have a ways to go!

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.)

Lisa:  Writers’ Conference and Book Expo. Hands down. I love all the radio shows and twitter chats, but the conference really shows ALL of what RRBC is and does. The resources, the workshops, the posts, the exposure for writers and folks providing professional services, the feast available to readers, the camaraderie – the prizes LOL! And embedded in all of it is the dedication to encouraging each other. Seeing it all on full display at once is truly exciting.

NJ:  Well, Lisa, I’m so happy to know that you enjoy the WC&BE.  Early-bird registration is open now.  It is an amazing event so we hope to see you there. 

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

Lisa:  Thank you, thank you, thank you! Onward!

NJ:  Thank you, Lisa, for joining me on the shelf today! 

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

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

***

Pearls of #Literature on #Marketing, #Blogging, #Community & #Support, Pt. 10 #RRBC #RWISA

During our 4th Annual Writers’ Conference & Book Expo, I was scheduled to present a session on my “15 Pearls” of Literature on Marketing, Blogging, Community, and Support.  

This session on my “PEARLS…” will be shared here for all our members, in hopes that it will help in our quest to become more successful and better at marketing our work as we make connections that will benefit us professionally as well as personally.  These will be posted in separate parts.

Welcome to Part 10!

ALWAYS BE WILLING TO GROW AND BECOME BETTER

To date, I am a published author with several books under my belt. As a new author, back in the early part of 2012, it took me only 17 days to pen “THE GOOD MOMMIES’ GUIDE TO RAISING (ALMOST) PERFECT DAUGHTERS!” I was so excited about it, I went back and forth over it with a fine tooth comb. Then, I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could write a novel.  You see (in my mind), the only way to prove that you are a really good writer, is to try your hand at Fiction because that’s where the real creativity comes into play.

Well, I did write that novel, and it was pretty good – or so I thought. Fast forward a few years with a lot more literary knowledge and writing skill under my belt, and I looked back over both books and cringed.   Yes, I wanted to hide my face in disappointment and shock, so, putting a bag over it so no one would know me while I was rushing over to Amazon, was what happened in the end.

The novel, although a really good story, fell short in my expectations of what a well-written story should look like.  Although it had a myriad of 4 and 5-star reviews, I pulled that book down from Amazon over 4 years ago and it’s not back up yet.  And it won’t be until I have had the opportunity to re-edit it and make it (almost) perfect based on my skill and knowledge of today.

One of the many reasons I’m glad to be a self-published author, is that we have the ability to improve on our work at any time – we can pull our work down from Amazon and other retailers and make corrections or changes on a whim, which I know some traditionally published authors aren’t afforded the luxury of doing.  To me, this is a major asset in our field.

I am a stickler for (almost) perfect writing.  I know, I can hear some of you saying out loud as you read this, “But there’s NO such thing.” Wait a second, I said (almost) perfect writing.  No one is perfect, I’m aware of that – but let me tell you, I strive for it in everything I do. And when you strive for that which some say is unattainable (I beg to differ, by the way), you set yourself apart from the others who would be just like the masses … purely regular. I don’t ever want to be known as just regular. I always want to stand out, be known for the un-norm, because, why would you want to be just like everyone else? Where’s the fun in that?

If you are a follower of mine, you know that I speak (a lot) about this market of ours being flooded with junk. Well, let me tell you where junk comes from. Junk comes from the writers who publish work that needs major attention in the editing and proofing department – they are aware that it needs major attention, yet, they leave it out on Amazon for purchase anyway. Is missing out on a couple of bucks really more important than your professional reputation as a writer?  You will never get another chance to make a great first impression.  I have come across tons of these kinds of writers; some who I have even taken aside to share that it would be in their best interest to take their work down and clean it up a bit, or to even start over from scratch.  Yes, I’ve seen some books so bad that they should have been scrapped long ago. 

Some have taken this advice and have “cleaned” up their mess and turned their messes into something amazing; something worth me spending my hard-earned money on, and something worth reading.   The others who can’t be ‘advised’ … well, you can spot them a mile away.  These are the ones who don’t take critiques very well and will defend their junk to the end –  and to those I say, “Why don’t we just talk about the weather,” as I refuse to spend my time trying to convince someone that they are truly adding to the litter that’s flooding the market, if you know what I mean. 

Always being willing to make your work better and better, and always looking for ways to improve on your writing, are the strategies that will separate you from the masses. If you want to be {average} just like everyone else,  or sometimes considered even worse than that, then go on and hit publish and send your junk out into the airwaves, in hopes that someone will accidentally trip over it and buy it.

But, if you want to be taken seriously as a writer and if you want to be known for putting out THE ABSOLUTE BEST WRITTEN WORK, then always be willing to listen, heed the advice of those with very skilled eyes who are willing to advise you, and never sit back and rest on your laurels, playing the wait and see game – waiting to see if your book is going to sell.  You see, I don’t write for me. I write for the world, in hopes that my books will forever grace the bookshelves (virtually or otherwise) of those who collect and appreciate the classics, along with good, strong (clean) writing.

After many a “take-down” and “put back up” of some of my books, if someone shared with me today that they found one comma out of place (and please do tell me if you find such horror in one of my books) I would take them down again in a heartbeat just to make them better for you, my readers.

It’s OK to always want to do, and…

So, there you have my two-cents on ALWAYS BEING WILLING TO MAKE IT BETTER AND BETTER. You can take my advice or you can leave it, but don’t expect me to run out and purchase your work if you don’t care enough about me as a reader, to want to continually improve upon it. Again, that’s just my two-cents, and in some places, it’s worth a whole lot!

***

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Looking to belong to an awesome community of support where HONESTY and DECENCY in all things are strongly encouraged and highly valued?  Then, JOIN the Rave Reviews Book Club where you’ll never feel alone on your writing journey, the place always feels like home, and your professional reputation doesn’t decline by association!

 

Blog Post Comments – First or Last? #RRBC @RRBC_Org @RRBC_RWISA @Tweets4RWISA

When you’re creating a blog post, how many times do you consider the order of your comments in that creation?  This post won’t be news to some of you, but for others who have never given the order of your comments any thought, this quick tip is just for you.

When someone comments on your posts, most often, if they are voracious readers like I am and will read absolutely anything, they will return again and again to continue to read the comments, if there is an interesting discussion going on about that post.  If that’s the case, no one wants to have to continually scroll through all the comments they’ve already read, to get to the latest ones.

It is for this reason that the order of your comments do matter.  In your Settings, there is a feature that asks which order you prefer your comments to display as.  This is a common feature with WordPress blogs and I’m pretty sure it’s standard across the board with all blog forums.   

If you value return visits and busy chatter on your blogs, it’s always best to display the most recent comments first.

If you don’t have yours set up this way already, then hurry and correct that (writing) faux pas.

Until next time, remember…

The more you learn, the more you earn!  Let’s keep soaking up that literary knowledge, RRBC!

WAIT!  Before you leave, tell us, how do you have your comments displaying right now?