WHO’S ON THE SHELF w/Nonnie Jules? #Author, Karen Black @KarensStories #RRBC #RRBC_Community

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

Today, we have a very special guest on the SHELF with us – RRBC member and July’s “SPOTLIGHT” Author, Karen Black!  We have celebrated her the entire month of July and today, she gets to sit on the shelf with me – a little late, but, she’s here so that’s good!

Dream Racing

NJ:  Before we get started, how do you like the design and feel of my new shelf?  We updated it in 2017 and now, I’m thinking of giving it an overhaul again.  We’ll see.  Are you comfy?

Karen:  The redesign is great, and the shelf is quite comfy!

NJ:  That’s great to hear, Karen.  Just be careful and say only the right things as this shelf has a mind of its own.  It might start shaking, and you might take a tumble.  I don’t know, I’m just sayin’, so just watch yourself.

adult black pug
Photo by Charles on Pexels.com

Now, let’s start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name.

Karen:  I don’t use a pen name.

NJ:  Well, I guess that took care of that question.  So, tell us where you were born?  Do you still live there now?  If not, what city and state are you calling home these days?

Karen:  I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Pittsburgh Pirates! Although I don’t live in Pittsburgh anymore, I still call it home.  Halfway between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia is a tiny municipality called Highspire. You can find me in the center of that little borough.

NJ:  Awesome! Although, I tend to stay away from boroughs in tiny municipalities, so, no worries about me randomly dropping by because I was “in the neighborhood.”  Karen, are you married or single?

Karen:  Married to the most wonderful husband imaginable

NJ:  I doubt that because that husband lives here with me in Louisiana!  But, now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s move on –  do you lovebirds have any kids?  What kind and do you like them?

Karen:  Two kids, one of each. I usually like them.

NJ:  You know, the older they get, the like for them is on a day-by-day basis.  My daughters often jokingly ask:  “Mommy, is today a day that you like me?”  I respond:  “I don’t know, what day is it?”  And no matter the day that comes out of their mouths, I always say, “Nope.  Not today.” 

Karen, 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?

Karen:  They’d probably draw straws and the winner (loser?) would get to decide. That being said, I cannot imagine living with one of the kids, and would never even consider letting either of them decide the best place for mom.

NJ:  Well, you’re certainly a better mom than I am.  I have demanded that both of my daughters share custody of me and their father, by moving back home and caring for us and dealing with all of my old-crankiness.  I say to them quite often:  “I’m the mom and you don’t get to tell me what to do … yet.  Now, when you’re changing my diaper, then, you’re in charge.”  They roll with laughter each time I say it.  I tend to think the laughs are nervous laughs and they are secretly praying that I’m only teasing.  (I’m not, by the way).  Karen, do you and the hubby have any pets?  If so, what kind?  They act like kids, too, so I have to ask the same question … do you like them?

Karen:  Yes, I adore them, but you won’t. One is a Devon Rex cat who claims to be ET’s second cousin, although that hasn’t been confirmed. The other is a former, feral, feline ninja, now a spoiled house princess, who appreciates everything domestic and doesn’t miss hunting for food.

We also have a variety of wild critters, some that live here year around, and some that migrate. Rabbits, squirrels, ducks, opossums, more birds than you’d want me to list, and an occasional skunk or raccoon. We feed everybody who wonders by and there’s always fresh water for them.

NJ:  You’re right, Karen – I don’t want to hear about your cats, thank you very much!  Now, on to something that really interests me – what’s the food that’s so good to you, you go to bed dreaming about it, and you forego breakfast just to get to it?

Karen:  Pizza. Even bad pizza is good.

NJ:  Go figure.  I’m pretty familiar with pizza – but, only good pizza.  What’s your favorite color?

Karen:  Vibrant orange that fades into a subtle pink.

NJ:  OK.  Your favorite sport…

Karen:  Horse racing and Football

NJ:  Ooops … careful.  I felt the shelf rumble a bit.  (Probably because I asked for a favorite sport not sports).  Karen, what’s your favorite TV Show?

Karen:  The Walking Dead

NJ:  Never got into it.  How about your favorite Actress/Actor?

Karen:  Barbra Streisand. She was brilliant in “Prince of Tides” and hysterical in “Meet the Fockers.” I also love her music.

NJ:  Now you’re talking!  I loveeeeeee everything Barbara!  She’s what I listen to most in my office when I’m working.  I think she’s brilliant at everything, even her tweets against the person sitting in the high chair of the White House right now.  And Meet The Fockers, with that all-star cast (DeNiro, Danner, Streisand, Stiller, Hoffman and Wilson) how could it not be great?!

Karen, do you like to exercise to stay fit OR do you not mind walking around with a beer belly?

Karen:  I am allergic to formal exercise, but I manage to do some yoga and I move around a lot. As for the beer belly – well, mine is a wine belly, and since it means I don’t have to exercise, I don’t mind it.

NJ:  Haha, that’s too funny 🙂 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).

Karen:  It’s irritating when people fill their gas tank, and then leave their cars in front of the pump to go inside the store and shop around, when there are only a few pumps available and other drivers are waiting.  Spitting nails into their tires would make me smile. Of course, then their car would sit there longer, so I guess that would be counter productive.

NJ:  Karen, if I ever come out of the gas station and there are nails in my tires …

So, are you neat or messy?

Karen:  If stacks of books everywhere aren’t considered messy, I’m neat.

NJ:  Oh, I don’t even think you’re a real author unless you have stacks of books lying about (which I do, by the way … everywhere). Are you nice or mean?  And, is that your perception of you, or is that what others think of you?

Karen:  I’m nice. But if a mean person confronts me he/she will meet his/her match. Those who know me can confirm.

white shih tzu puppy on fabric sofa chair
Photo by Dominic Buccilli on Pexels.com

NJ:  Sure. Yeah.  Uh-huh.  Karen, Facebook or Twitter?

Karen:  Facebook

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

Karen:  I don’t have one. There are several people with whom I interact almost daily. Most of them are old like me and we don’t care to travel any more so we stay in touch online.

NJ:  OK, that’s fine, too.  Who’s the one person you’ve met online who makes you laugh the hardest?

Karen:  I didn’t meet him online, but the person who makes me laugh the hardest is my husband.  He’s a riot!

Untitled design (12)

NJ:  Uh, yeah … that’s what happens when you don’t answer questions as asked on this shelf.  I did ask for the person “online,” didn’t I?  Karen, maybe you better hold on a little tighter.  Now, who do you favor most:  Nonnie Jules or WonderWoman? Be honest.

Karen:  Nice try, but you can’t fool me. I realize Nonnie doesn’t change in a telephone booth, like Clark Kent did. Of course there aren’t any more telephone booths, or maybe she would. In any event, I know who’s on the shelf with me. She just exchanged her lasso for the spoken/written word.

NJ: 

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Photo by Nancy Guth on Pexels.com

NJ:  {A telephone booth?  Kent Clark?  Can she not understand the words that are coming from my mouth???  I said WonderWoman! I guess all super heroes look alike to her.}

{Deep breath} Karen, 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.  {Now watch she responds with Tweety Bird or something}

Karen:  Truth does make the world a better place. Who does a better job? See my previous answer.

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

Karen:  Yes.

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

Karen:  I think a review should reflect the reader’s opinion of the characters, the plot and the overall storyline. Was the book entertaining, educational, funny, sad, thought provoking, etc.?

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

Karen:  Honesty is the best policy. However, if I’m reading a book and don’t enjoy it, or can’t get into the story, I don’t read it. There are so many books to read that I won’t spend time plodding through something, if I have to force myself to turn the pages. If I don’t finish a book, I don’t review it.

NJ:  Fair enough.  Read any poorly written books lately?

Karen:  I’ve started a few, but haven’t read them to the end.

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

Karen:  None. I can’t get through a horrible read. On several occasions, however, I have given four stars when it probably should have been three. Since I read for pleasure, I can ignore some editing mistakes or typos, when I really enjoy the storyline.

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

Karen:  Yes.  Am I a good one? Well, I finish reading all of my books.

NJ:  Okie Dokie.  So, how long have you been writing?

Karen:  I wrote my first story in grade school, but didn’t start writing with any intention to share my work until about ten years ago.

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

Karen:  Yes, even if it makes me sad.

NJ:  Good for you!  Name two books that you’ve written? 

“Mountain Justice” 

Mountain Justice by Karen Black

“Treacherous Love” 

Treacherous Love by Karen Black

NJ:  Which one do you think is the best?

Karen:  Both deal with domestic violence. “Treacherous Love” is probably the better written overall, but I like the “Mountain Justice” storyline best of the two.

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?

Karen:  I do have a website. I seldom blog, so I don’t think my website/blog would qualify as GREAT, but your harsh criticism is always appreciated.

NJ:  Oh, that’s kind of you to say, Karen.  I’m humbled.  Which online resource or organization has helped you as an author the most?

Karen:  Without question, it was RWISA University!

NJ:  How were you helped by them?

Karen:  Through discussions and critiques, I figured out how to overcome occasional writer’s block. Editors often refer to it as “showing, not telling.” I was a technical writer for over twenty years and found it difficult to move on from “just the facts.” I would labor over details to bring a situation to life, but didn’t understand why I was having trouble getting to where I wanted to go. RWISA U turned the light on. Once I realized what I was doing, or not doing, the problem disappeared.

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

Karen:  It is my favorite resource. The comradery and resources are second to none.

NJ:  Karen, I agree whole-heartedly.  Have you come across any other online entities like it?

Karen:  There are other groups and resources, but nothing like RRBC.

NJ:  Ha!  I so agree with you there!  RRBC is often imitated but never duplicated or equalled.  Would you recommend it to your friends and family?

Karen:  I’ve recommended the club to a number of people.

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

Karen:  The “On the Shelf” interviews are great, and I love the Books of the Month I always enjoy reading the reviews posted on the RRBC site. #Push Tuesday is an extraordinary benefit and the book discussions are fun. Are those too many favorites?

NJ:  Karen, the interview is almost over – it doesn’t matter at this point (insert NJ’s famous eye roll).  Well, 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?

Karen:  Thank you RRBC members for taking the time to read this interview and for your ongoing encouragement and support. It is truly appreciated. (That thank you includes you, Nonnie. By the way, I think I know why your hiney isn’t as well-padded as mine; you probably exercise.)

NJ:  Karen, I am a fitness fanatic!  I received my Fitness Trainer certification in 2009.  I’m probably in a very small, but special class of people who wakes up every day, dresses in workout attire, raring to exercise.  I actually have a timer on my cell phone that goes off once an hour when I’m extremely busy, to remind me to go and have a run on my treadmill for 20 minutes, so, yeah.  I think I’m still pretty well padded, though, but I work hard to keep it properly padded. Haha!  At my age, it’s easy to go in the other direction.

Karen, it was a pleasure to have you join me today.  Do drop in again!

To my guests, please pick up a copy of either of Karen’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 Karen was on the “SHELF” today, tell them she sent you.

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

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DISCLAIMER:  RRBC does not alter the writing of any guest who has participated in our interviews.  We post material exactly as it is submitted to us.

Pearls of #Literature on #Marketing, #Blogging, #Community, #Support, Pt. 3 #RRBC

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.  As it has worked out in the past (but won’t be the case anymore), I wasn’t able to get this session up in time but did get it done eventually – just not published.  Those who registered for that session will be getting 3 new sessions FREE during our upcoming 2020 WC&BE! 

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 under our posting schedule of Mondays & Thursdays each week, in separate parts.  

Welcome to Part 3!

IN WRITING, WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA IS REALLY FOR

I came on the social media scene over 9 years ago, and although many tried to tag me as a “newbie,” I quickly shed that tag after two months of being online. Back then, many would ask how I managed to learn as much as I did about social media (namely Twitter) as quickly as I did. Well, I’m not one to sit around on my laurels waiting for anything, so I jumped right in and learned all that I could … as fast as I could.

I noticed a lot of people on Twitter (as I still do) offering what they brand as support by tweeting or RTing things that matter not to anyone. I notice RTs of food (you know, what someone had for lunch), I notice RTs of funnies (on some days these do come in handy,  but mind you, I said some days … we can do without your funny emojis filling up our timeline every minute on the minute), and, I see full-blown conversations about absolutely nothing taking place on Twitter. You know, aside from allotting only 140 characters per tweet, I’m told Mr. Tweet-Man is still today, sitting, watching and waiting for you to tweet more tweets than he has allotted you for the day. Once you’ve broken his rule, he calls the tweet-cops on you! And what do they do? You guessed it – they arrest you and put you in Twitter-Jail! Now, Mr. Tweet-Man’s policy on how long you have to stay in Twitter-Jail is something I know nothing about.

In writing, social media is for a certain purpose … and that is to get the word out about your writing, whether on your blog site or via the books you’ve written.  And, although bonds are formed and friendships are made while on social media, it still remains a marketing tool for us, and we must never allow the personal part of it to interfere with our real reasons for being there.  I am on social media for ONE reason and ONE reason only … and that is to Profile, Promote and Propel my books and my writing, while also doing the same for my fellow authors. Because I’m a serious writer, I cannot afford to log onto Twitter for daily socializing.  I get on there, I do what I need to do, and then I get back to writing, which bears repeating, is the reason I’m on social media in the first place.

Now, don’t get me wrong … I’m not saying that you should not socialize on social media;  what I am sharing is that there is a way to spend time on social media, getting to know those you support and the ones who support you, while ensuring that the time you’re spending on Twitter, Facebook, etc. is not wasted time. Remember, we can’t get that time back and we are working hard to become bestsellers here, right?

If by chance there is the occasional second where someone has engaged me in a not-so-work-related tweet-chat, I utilize that time to the max.  90% of the time I tend to always include some type of marketing bit, even in those personal tweets … either at the beginning or at the end of the chat.  Here’s an example of one such tweet: “@sharrislaughter Thx 4 the plug. How’s ur day going? #DaydreamsDaughter… amazon.com/dp/B00GLM2VVM.” Notice how even in the midst of a quick personal chat, I have injected the title and purchase link to my book.

Even though the person you are tweeting may not click the link, imagine how many times that tweet will travel around the world and somebody who you might not ever have the chance to make direct contact with, just might see it, and click it.  I call that “not wasting a tweet!” You should look at it the same way and follow my lead.  You never know who might happen to notice that tweet, click on the link and then purchase your book or become a follower of your blog.

Social media is about support. We get on there, we engage and we garner support for our work, as others are doing the same for theirs. If it is your goal to be a true supporter of others, take the time to RT something of substance for your tweet-colleagues. Don’t RT the first random thing you see on their timeline.  When I see a RT of, say for instance a BlogTalkRadio interview that is clearly marked with a date and time in the distant past, my blood begins to boil.  That says to me the person behind the RT is not someone who even knows what they are sending out into the world because they didn’t take the time to read the tweet.  If they had, surely they wouldn’t have retweeted it, right?  They could be retweeting child pornography for all they know;  they saw “a” tweet, and hit their RT button without even reading the tweet first. 

If you want to at least give the illusion that you are being supportive, take the time to find a tweet that will do the person you are RTing, the most good – one in which their work is being promoted. It’s not a hard thing to do at all, and I assure you, they will greatly appreciate you for going that extra mile for them.

If you don’t want to just give the illusion that you’re supportive, step up your game and do more than just RT someone.  When you happen upon their tweet of substance, actually take a moment and click the link to see what it’s all about.  If they are sharing their blog post, read it and then leave an engaging comment, LIKE the post, FOLLOW their blog, and then share the post onto your social media forums before leaving.  They’ll probably be so appreciative of you that they’ll take the time to seek you out and support you in the same manner. 

If someone is sharing their book link to Amazon, B&N or some other online retailer, click the link and support by picking up a copy of their book, whether by purchasing it or snagging it as a FREE copy.  Whatever you do, do it better than the person who is only giving the illusion of being a real supporter.  There are too many of those common folks on social media merely hitting a RT or share button – that’s all they’ll ever do and as my mom used to say, “that’s all they’re good for.”  Just as you want to be known as a social media substance supporter, those are also the kinds of supporters you want backing you.

Always utilize every marketing tool that you have at your disposal to promote your work – don’t allow one second of it to go to waste. We don’t know when Mr. Tweet-Man is going to change his mind and maybe decide to start charging us a hefty fee to use his service, or when he might decide to retire and just shut it down for good. Let’s make the best of social media while we can and wherever we can. 

**I’ve mainly used Twitter here as my example but know that there are many other social media forums for you to promote your work via, while also engaging in building those relationships online that will benefit you well into the future.  Best of luck!**

What kind of social media supporter are you?  Leave us a comment down below – we’d love to know!

By the way, I’m looking for some really good books to read while on my upcoming two-week reading vacation.  If you have a book that you’d like for me to dig into, leave the title and your author name down below, and I’ll be purchasing and reading it soon!  

If you’re also feeling that generous, drop by the RRBC catalog and check out some of our awesome member-reads there!  They’d love your support!

~Nonnie Jules

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Looking for a supportive community to belong to?  RRBC is the best around!  Join Us and you’ll see!