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!

***

Before you leave, would you mind hitting the LIKE button above, leaving a comment, and sharing the page onto social media?  Thanks in advance!

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? 

INDIE PUBLISHED AND DARNED PROUD OF IT! #RRBC @RRBC_Org @Tweets4RWISA @RRBC_RWISA

It looks like we made it out of 2020 alive – all in one piece – none of our teeth are missing – and we still have all our hair (albeit whiter than it was in 2019).  I will bet my bottom dollar that we all welcomed 2021 with open arms.  

RRBC has landed in its 8th year of formation and we are so PROUD to say that!  Talk about staying power!  Well, clearly it lives here!

As we usher in a new year, we’d like to take this opportunity to first welcome Indie Authors from around the globe to join us.  There is no other community quite like ours, and our loyal and dedicated membership will attest to that.

Today marks the first of many posts that we will be sharing for you throughout the year, to learn from, and take the information and implement into your writing life, if you so choose.  We hope that every post proves to be beneficial to you in some way.

I received an email notification the other day from a forum that I subscribed to years ago, where someone inquired as to why Indie publishing was so frowned upon by the traditionally published industry.  I didn’t respond (as I sometimes do) because I wanted to tackle this topic here within RRBC.  One young lady did respond and I have posted her reply to that question below…

“You’re right that self-publishing is still looked down on by a lot of people. There are many reasons why—not all of them justified or accurate I might add. Common reasons I’ve noticed include:

  • The perception that self-published authors couldn’t get a traditional book contract (rather than they didn’t try), and therefore that their book isn’t good enough to be published.
  • The low barrier to entry for self-publishing, meaning that people can publish practically anything, and not all of it is of high quality.
  • The fact that many self-publishing authors don’t hire editors, proofreaders, or designers (because they can’t afford to or didn’t realise they needed to), leading to issues with content, language, formatting, and typos.
  • The reputation of traditional publishers—in having a very long and respected history—while self-publishing is still relatively new to the party and so is seen as the poor man’s publishing.
  • The marketing clout of traditional publishers in promoting their books, vs. self-publishing authors who struggle to market their book, and therefore it goes unnoticed by readers, awards panels, and so on.
  • The notion that you’ve made it as an author when you can physically see your book on a shelf in a bookshop, vs. when you can only download an e-pub version.

That said, as a nonfiction book editor, I’ve noticed that self-publishing seems to be looked down far less in the world of nonfiction than fiction. There’s plenty of respected self-published nonfiction books. I also think the tide is turning a little, and self-publishing will become accepted as the norm.

The sad thing is that I’ve worked with many nonfiction authors who have self-published brilliant books, but they still fail to get many readers due to lack of knowledge about marketing—while some traditionally published nonfiction books catch on with the public despite being pretty average.”

The comments to her response and also to the original poster’s question, were varied and wide-ranging.  Some were credible… while others were just plain ludicrous.

I’d like to make something crystal clear.  The RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB began as, and will end as, an Indie Author organization.  When we began back in 2013, traditionally published authors came knocking on our door and we decided to accept their requests to join, because I knew then, just as I know now, that they have to work just as hard (if not harder) than we do to get their work promoted, noticed, acknowledged, and read.

I quite often complain about the fact that Amazon gave everyone the right to publish anything – and that is where the problem lies – ANY AND EVERYTHING is being published.  It doesn’t matter if the book is riddled with typos or errors of every imaginable (and clearly noticeable) kind, Amazon says, “Hey, we can make money off of you, so, of course you can become an Author here,” which ignites the trickling of litter being repeatedly dumped on our literary horizon.  I take issue with this.

It is for that very reason that the traditionally published world looks down upon Indie publishing and doesn’t take it seriously.  It’s not because they are better, because nothing about being traditionally published speaks to that, and nothing could be farther from the truth.

Some of us are Indie because we choose to be.  I personally have never sought out a publisher or dreamed of having a publishing contract, and although I can’t speak to what I might dream in the future, I know for a fact that I’ll never go seeking a publishing contract.  That is by choice, not by chance.  Do I think I’m good enough to be traditionally published?  Well, since I don’t put the same amount of credibility or stock behind being traditionally published as others might,  I’ll just say this – I am good enough to be tagged as, and do proudly wear the label of being a Professional Author.  That’s a “real” author, Indie or traditionally published,  with writing talent.  A Professional Author cares about their contributions to the reading public as well as their reputation as a writer.  

Now, here’s my two-cents on the question that was posed on that forum (and we all know just how much I love sharing my two-cents):

Contrary to what some might believe, being traditionally published does not promise you a more thorough edit.  There are thousands of traditionally published books that sit on the shelves of Barnes and Noble and the virtual shelves of Amazon, that are proof of that.  I also know this first-hand because many of those books are in my own home library (that I’ve purchased from the shelves of Barnes and Noble, poorly edited and all.)

Being traditionally published won’t make your book covers any better than the ones I design on my own, and being traditionally published doesn’t mean that your books will sell better than any of mine.  Lastly, that coveted marker – being traditionally published is not the only way to get your books onto the shelves of brick and mortar bookstores.  In the past, two of my books have graced the shelves of Barnes and Noble, and of course, I am and have always been, an extremely PROUD INDIE AUTHOR.  (By the way, I didn’t go looking to get my books into Barnes and Noble.  Someone on the inside felt that’s where they belonged.)

There is one thing that stands out that separates my coveted Indie Author status from that of the traditionally published – I have TOTAL AND COMPLETE CONTROL over my entire body of work.  I make every decision just the way I want, down to where I’d like my commas to go, or how I’d like my paragraphs to be spaced, what I want my titles to be, and especially how I want my covers to look.  I also establish the costs of my books and  can sell them anywhere, at anytime, and however I please.  I’m not locked in under someone else’s thumb for something that I put in hard (mind) labor to create. 

So there!  Those are the reasons I am an Indie Author and I suspect my reasons are the same for many of you awesome writers.

RRBC is Indie-land!

We don’t promote traditional publishing here.  Now, listen carefully – I did not say that we don’t promote traditionally published authors, because we do.  We don’t promote traditional publishing.  If it is your desire to be traditionally published, we wish you well on that journey and stand behind your desires 100%, but what we will not allow, is for Indie publishing to be trashed, dismissed or diminished in any manner.  It is our way and it is our way by choice.  The traditionally published world has enough backing out there, so here in RRBC is where you can find that Indie backing and support that all authors, Indie and traditional, seem to rest and rely upon.  We have traditionally published authors who have been on our roster since the very beginning and they will share with you, they receive the same amazing treatment and support as our Indie published authors.

When I started this post, I invited Indie Authors from around the world to join us.  Now, since I have made our position clear, I invite more of those authors who are traditionally published to join us.

We are well aware that your struggle is equally as real as ours.

Until next time…

#RRBC … More Than Just A #Book Club & Heaps of #Gratitude

Happy belated Christmas, RRBC-ians and friends! The following post is personal but since it’s related to RRBC and also includes a peek at the newest release of one of our most awesomely supportive members, I thought I’d place it here on the RRBC site where it would get maximum exposure.

The RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB is, as of 12/13/20, moving into its 8th year of formation. We started out as a small community of literary like-minds and quickly morphed into the huge family of writers and readers you see blanketing the airwaves of social media.  

We hear quite often that we are unlike any community ever seen before.  We love hearing that, but, if we never hear the words spoken, it is something we already know.

When I formed this amazing community, standing out in an already crowded arena of literary clubs was part of my plan, and it was clear from day one, that we would be that community where you would find more than just a place to list and discuss books.  RRBC has always been more than just a book club; it started out as, and remains today, in a class all by itself.  

We are a family (not the dysfunctional kind, by the way) and that shines through with:  every bit of support given via social media, supportive book purchases, reviews posted, relationships formed, and every shoulder extended when one of us is riding the waves of  a “personal” storm.  What you find here, you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.  Why is that?  Well, although many have attempted to model their clubs/groups after us, there is so much more that they need to even remotely resemble who we are.  I don’t need to say it – we all know what those special ingredients are, and we ain’t going anywhere.  We, the most loyal and dedicated members of RRBC, who strive to ensure that our organization is the most unique, and also the best there ever was, we are staunchly planted right here, proudly and joyfully roaming the halls of RRBC.  What we bring to this smooth sailing vessel is a spirit of giving, decency, loyalty, dedication to the service of others, and oneness – that strong feeling of closeness that you miss when you’re away from it for too long, which none of us ever are.

It should come as no surprise that during this season of continual service to others and giving, that I’d be blessed with the amazing gift below! 

It’s so beautiful, isn’t it?  Designed in the shape of a heart,  it embodies all the special and unique avenues RRBC & RWISA implements to push our members along on their constant journey to success.  It was too beautiful for me not to share with you.  As a matter of fact, I believe it was designed for all of us!

The beautiful, Jan Sikes, placed this underneath my tree this Christmas, and before I sent my huge THANK YOU over to her, I wanted you to take in this special gift, which I will proudly display in my very own “RRBC Treasures” display case that I am having built.  This beautiful monument of all things RRBC & RWISA, will house your books that you’ve sent to me, your coffee mugs that you’ve gifted me (because you know I collect coffee mugs), and all those extra special treasures you’ve lovingly sent my way – yes, they’ll all be on display in my home-office very soon.  I’ve received some beautiful gifts from you all throughout the years, and one day, when I decide it’s time to hang up my RRBC/RWISA handbag, I’ll get to enjoy this beautiful display of treasures, with memories you helped create.   (And when you become rich and famous, I’ll already have my very own copy of your autographed book, to show off when I’m boasting how we’re such old friends!)

I’ve received many special “gifts” this Christmas from my wonderful members, but I was moved most by your words of gratitude and simply knowing  you care.  Your kind messages brought tears to my eyes, and in one moment, I stood and said aloud, “It’s just so nice to feel appreciated.”  It truly is the most special feeling there is, second to knowing you’re loved.  So, thank you Phil Stephens, Maura Beth Brennan, Shirley Harris-Slaughter, Peggy Hattendorf, Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko, Robbie Cheadle (who was also my VIP Lounge Secret Santa this year), Jan Sikes, Wendy Scott, PTL Perrin, Sam Polakoff, Linda Mims, Karl Morgan, Pat Garcia, Heather Kindt, Eichin Chang-Lim, Linnea Tanner, Randall Krzak, John Podlaski, John Fioravanti, Bette A. Stevens, Robert Fear, Yvette M. Calleiro, Guy Worthey, Rox Burkey, Joy Gerken, Susanne Leist and Marian Beaman.   At the end of a most difficult year, each of you made it so much better, and there are no words to truly express the depth of my gratitude for you. 

Before I go, I’d like to also share two other very special gifts that Jan sneaked under my tree…

Jan, thank you so much for the beautiful coffee mug…

…and I’m elated that it’s been added to my collection! 

If you haven’t picked up a copy of Jan’s latest release, GHOSTLY INTERFERENCE, you can find it on Amazon now!

Every night before bed, when I get on my knees to pray, I ask God to bless my RRBC family and to keep them safe from harm – the same prayer that I pray for my own family here.  This year, I also prayed that every member of the RRBC family would have a joyous holiday, in spite of all that 2020 had thrown at us.  We’re a resilient bunch for sure, and if anyone can turn lemons into the most delicious lemonade ever, it’s our fabulous bunch of RRBC family members!  (So, before you go, please share with us how good your Christmas lemonade was!)

Thanks for allowing me to share my gratitude publicly and to go on and on about our this club that brings me, and so many of you, pure joy.  RRBC is more than just a book club, and if you haven’t joined, you’re really missing out on a lot!   

Welcome to the #RRBC ROCKIN’ 2020 AWAY Book, Blog & Trailer Block Party! #Giveaways #DoorPrizes @NonnieJules

I think I’m speaking for the great majority of us when I say that “2020 has been a pretty sucky year.”  We’ve been stuck at home, some of us under quarantine, some of us have lost our jobs, graduates were not allowed to walk across the stage this year, weddings were put on hold, and sadly, many of our loved ones were taken away from us by the horrible coronavirus – many without loved ones by their side.  I’ll repeat, “2020 has been a pretty sucky year,” but in spite of that, we’re going to continue living as best we can through the most trying of times.

Welcome to RRBC’s “ROCKIN’ 2020 AWAY” Book, Blog & Trailer Block Party!!!

STOP!!!

Don’t you go any farther without hitting the button below to party while you’re browsing!

LET’S ROCK, ROCK, ROCK!

For the next 25 days, we will be rockin’ around some of the most awesome RRBC member blogs!   We’re going to show our support of our fellow members by purchasing their books, enjoying their book trailers, reading their blog posts, then sharing them to our social media platforms.  Before we leave each blog, we will Like, Share and #Follow!  

People dancing

RRBC is known for its amazing events and awesome door prizes that are gifted during our events.  Be sure to leave a comment at each stop as each night, new winners will be announced here, as well as on each member’s blog post.  Winnings will be sent out the very next day!

At the end of the tour, there will also be GRAND PRIZES awarded, as well!

*1st/Grand Prize:  $50 Amazon Gift Card – Winner:  ROX BURKEY

*2nd/Grand Prize:  3-day Blog Tour sponsored by 4WillsPublishing – Winner:  ROBERT FEAR

*3rd/Grand Prize:  Book Bundle {10 books of your choice from the Kathryn C. Treat Book Giveaway Treasure Chest} – Winner:  WANDA FISCHER

*4th/Grand Prize:  A *LIVE* interview on an upcoming segment of a RAVE WAVES “EYES ON THE BOOK” or a BOOK OF THE MONTH slot. – Winner:  SAM POLAKOFF

Each day, a new link will open on the blog that’s on tour that day and we want you to spread the word of that blog everywhere you can!

Are you ready to rock?  Well, here we go!

Monday, 10/5/20

WJ Scott Children’s Author Blog

(Winner:  Charles Jones)

Tuesday, 10/6/20

Susanne Leist

(Winners:  John Podlaski, Rox Burkey, Wanda Fischer, PTL Perrin, Pat Garcia, John Fioravanti, Marian Beaman)

Wednesday, 10/7/20

Bette A. Stevens

(Winners:  Shirley Harris-Slaughter & Pete Springer)

Thursday, 10/8/20

Marian Beaman

(Winner:  Charles Jones)

Friday, 10/9/20

John Podlaski

(Winners:  Rox Burkey, John Fioravanti, Robert Fear & Susanne Leist)

Saturday, 10/10/20

Flossie Benton Rogers

(Winners:  Bette Stevens & Wendy Scott)

Sunday, 10/11/20

Robbie Cheadle

(Winners:  Pat Garcia and Acflory)

Monday, 10/12/20

Jan Sikes

(Winners:  PTL Perrin, Flossie Benton Rogers, Balroop Singh, Karen Black, Sam Polakoff  & Bette Stevens)

Tuesday, 10/13/20

Wendy Scott

(Winner:  Robbie Cheadle)

Wednesday, 10/14/20

PTL Perrin

(Winners:  Jan Sikes & NJ)

Thursday, 10/15/20

Shirley Harris-Slaughter

(Winners:  Yvette Calleiro & Robbie Cheadle)

Friday, 10/16/20

Robert Fear

(Winners:  Sam Polakoff & NJ)

Saturday, 10/17/20

Phil Stephens

(Winners:  Robbie Cheadle & Linnea Tanner)

Sunday, 10/18/20

Wanda Fischer

(Winners:   Sam Polakoff & John Podlaski)

Monday, 10/19/20

Nonnie Jules

(Winner:  Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko & Wanda Fischer)

Tuesday, 10/20/20

Rox Burkey

(Winners:  PTL Perrin, Flossie Benton Rogers, Susanne Leist & Robert Fear)

Wednesday, 10/21/20

Wendy Scott

(Winner: Rox Burkey)

Thursday, 10/22/20

John Fioravanti

(Winner:  Bette Stevens)

Friday, 10/23/20

Yvette Calleiro

(Winners:  Susanne Leist, Marian Beaman & Rox Burkey)

Saturday, 10/24/20

Robbie Cheadle

(Winners:  Shirley Harris-Slaughter & Judeitakali)

Sunday, 10/25/20

Sam Polakoff

(Winners:  Wendy Scott, NJ, Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko, Bette Stevens, Yvette Calleiro & Wanda Fischer)

Monday, 10/26/20

Books by Nonnie

(Winners:  Phil Stephens, Wendy Scott & Jan Sikes)

Tuesday, 10/27/20

4WillsPublishing

(Winners:  John Podlaski & Wanda Fischer)

Wednesday, 10/28/20

Shirley Harris-Slaughter

GRAND PRIZE WINNERS ANNOUNCED ON 11/7/20!

THE END! 

THANKS TO ALL WHO SUPPORTED THIS EVENT!

You rock, rock, rock!!!

Robbie Cheadle in “WHO’S ON THE SHELF” w/@NonnieJules – #RRBC @bakeandwrite @RobertaEaton17

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,  Author, ROBBIE CHEADLE! 

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.  Are you comfy?

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 write under the name of Robbie Cheadle for my children’s books and Roberta Eaton Cheadle for my adult books. Most people, including my work colleagues, know me as Robbie Cheadle. Roberta is my full name and Eaton is my maiden name. I use to variations of my name to clearly separate my children’s fiction from my adult fiction.

NJ:  Wendy Scott uses that technique, as well.  Good for you all!  I don’t think I’d be able to keep it all straight.  Robbie, 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 the UK. My father died when I was three months old and my mother moved to South Africa. Her sister, my aunt, offered to take care of my while my mother worked. I still live in Johannesburg, South Africa. I have lived in George, a small town in the Western Cape for two years and in Cape Town for two years, both in South Africa.

NJ:  Robbie, I like to ask the hard questions here and I look forward to the honest answers.  Since you mentioned being from South Africa, I must say that I’ve found South African women to be a tad difficult.  You, on the other hand, appear to be such a gentle sweetheart, but, we know that there are those times when the folks behind the keyboard aren’t what they appear to be.  I mean, I’m not as nice as I seem (when I’m forced to go in another direction, if you know what I mean).   Is the picture that I have of you in my head accurate or would you fall into that category of those others I have encountered that I found to be difficult?  

Robbie:   I think how one develops as a person depends a lot on upbringing, position in society, economic standing, and your own character. As with all countries, South African women vary and there are some who are difficult and demanding. I suspect this is to do with being brought up to think they are entitled. This, of course, is not the case with all, or even most, South African women and there are lots of wonderful, kind, and caring women out there. I work in a multi-cultural environment and there are representatives from all eleven of our national language and cultural groups, including English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, and the other seven main African ethnic groups in South Africa. There are also Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Christian people and foreigners from other African countries including Ghana, Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. Everyone I work with is nice and most people are helpful and committed to their jobs. I like to believe I am a kind and helpful person. I know that my colleagues, friends, and family all rely on me to help them with difficult situations and personal problems. I am a good listener and don’t offer unwanted advice, so people often confide in me. I also don’t break confidences. I hope this answers your question.

NJ:  Interesting.  Robbie,  are you married or single?

Robbie:  I will have been married for twenty years in February 2021. My husband and I are both chartered accountants and met at work in 1997.

NJ:  That’s amazing!  I love February for weddings.  I’m not sure why, though.  So, do you two lovebirds have any kids?  If so, what kind? And, more importantly, do you like them?

Robbie:  I have two sons, Gregory and Michael. They are both great lads and they both help me with my books and marketing. Michael is my co-author for the Sir Chocolate series of children’s books. Sir Chocolate, a little man made of chocolate, and Chocolate World, where you can eat everything was his idea. We wrote the first book together when he was six years old and later added the fondant, cake and biscuit illustrations and the recipes. These additions were at the suggestion of my brother-in-law who is in advertising.  I am proud of my boys and I do like them … most of the time.

NJ:  Robbie, they sound like awesome ‘lads!’ 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:  My parents live in a cottage on our premises. Both my sons think this is the norm and seem to have a plan to live in the house and move my husband and I out to the cottage in the future. They make me smile when they discuss their future plans.

NJ:  Uh, not sure that I’d be smiling while they were discussing putting me outside in the outhouse and taking over my house.  Any pets?  What kind?  They act like kids, too, so I have to ask the same question…do you like them?

Robbie:  I have two cats which I share with my dad. Smudge is more his cat and Push-Push is more mine. She comes to visit me for cuddles every morning. I do like my cats but when they bring dead rodent or bird gifts into the house, I’m not very grateful.

NJ:  What cute names! (But I still don’t like cats.)  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?

Robbie:  Oooh, that’s tough. I’m not a big foodie even though I bake a lot. That started as an endeavor to give my boys healthier food that wasn’t full of chemicals and where I could control the sugar content. I always reduce the sugar in recipes.

I do like prawns but don’t eat them often because they are on the orange list – partially endangered.

NJ:  I love prawns and eat them as much as I can!  Sorry.  What’s your favorite color, Robbie?

Robbie:  I like yellow, pink and orange in that order.

NJ:  I love to attach colors to people and you look like a yellow, pink and orange kind of girl!  Love it!  Favorite sport?

Robbie:  I am not sporty and never watch sport. My boys play tennis so I’ll pick that as my favourite sport.

NJ:  Oh, but your photo above … I imagined you hiking through the mountains.  Oh, well, do you have a favorite TV show?

Robbie:  I never watch TV. I watched The Addam’s Family [movie], two weeks ago with my sons at their request. This is the first movie I’ve watched in two years. I do like to read.

NJ:  No … No … No  TV?  Like, no Housewives of anything?  No BRAVO of any kind?  Uh, how does that work?  Robbie, that’s almost sacrilegious.  OK, let me move on from that place of absolutely no understanding.  Do you have a favorite Actress or Actor?

Robbie:  As mentioned, I haven’t watched a movie for a while, but I do like Helen Bonham Carter. I think she is a great actress.

NJ:  Yeah, I get it, but I still don’t understand it.  Do you like to exercise to stay fit OR do you not mind walking around with a beer belly?

Robbie:  Haha, no beer bellies for me. I’m not much of a foodie and sometimes forget meals. I don’t do organized exercise in a gym or sports facility but I walk every day and I do housework and gardening. I’m a bit obsessive about cleanliness.

NJ:  Cleanliness!!!  Now, I like you even more!  So, 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?

Robbie:  I like to keep to my routines. It is part of my obsessive personality. Lack of routine is very tough for me and makes me distressed. I have done my best to keep to my work and home routines as much as possible during this pandemic. My workload has been enormous due to the financial fallout created by the lockdowns, but I have tried to keep work boxed within its hours and not let it take over my life. I have been moderately successful with that, but have still had to delay the publication of my new adult paranormal historical novel because of timing issues.

NJ:  OK.  I wish you success in completing that next book baby.  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 says:  “You always know where she stands on things. You’re never left to wonder with her.”

Robbie:  Haha, People always say to me that they don’t know how I do everything I do with working full time, raising a family, writing and blogging. I’m always left wondering what other people do with their time.

NJ:  I’m with you – where do people get so much free time and down time?  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).

Robbie:  I also can’t abide dishonesty. It can cause so much heartache and pain to other people when someone lies. Lies can be very destructive.

NJ:  Lies are deadly at times, Robbie.  So, are you neat or messy?

Robbie:  I am neat.

NJ:  Yes, I know … I just wanted to hear you say it again!  I love it!

Are you nice or mean?  And, is that your perception of you, or is that what others think of you?

Robbie:  I believe I am nice, and I often overcommit myself as a result. I can take a hard line in my work environment thought. It is necessary to get the correct outcome.

NJ:  Facebook or Twitter?

Robbie:  Facebook

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

Robbie:  I am only vaguely familiar with Wonder Woman, but I do know Nonnie Jules and how hard she works to support other writers. I’ll definitely go with Nonnie.

NJ:  Robbie, I knew I liked you for various reasons!  LOL!  Seriously, thank you for your kind words.  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 am a big believer in the truth and the need for people to acknowledge the truth of situations. That is one of the reasons I write historical fiction, so that people can remember and appreciate the truth of historical events. Here again, I have to go with Nonnie and her belief in the truth.

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

Robbie:  No Pedigree: A Really Short Story by Nonnie Jules

Vanished by Mark Bierman

I enjoyed these books because they both highlighted a specific issue in society and they both had good outcomes which, although not always the case, allows the reader to believe people can make a difference.

NJ:  Why, thank you, Robbie!  So happy you enjoyed NO PEDIGREE.  It is one of my personal favorites.  After you read books, do you post reviews?

Robbie:  Yes, I post a review of every book I read.

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

Robbie:  I have a formula for my reviews. I comment on the overall plot and story line. I comment on my favourite, or least favourite, characters and the character development by the author. Depending on the nature of the book, I may quote a few lines or stanza’s if the book is a poetry book. I try to appreciate a book based on its nature. For example, I am not a reader of self help books, but if I do read one, I will analyse it from the perspective of a self-help book and not let my personal genre likes and dislikes influence the review. In other words, I try to be fair and balanced when reviewing a book.

NJ:  How interesting.  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 believe I am honest in my reviews. I do look for the best in a book as well as the weaker elements. A book may have a great plot idea but be badly written. In a case like this, I will mention both points i.e. that the plot has a lot of potential but the book needs editing.

NJ:  Hmmmm, ok.  Read any poorly written books lately?

Robbie:  No, if a book is really poor, I will put it aside and not finish it. I don’t review books I haven’t finished reading.

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.

Robbie:  I don’t do that. I usually read books that are written by people whose blogs I’ve followed and read for a while, so I know I like their writing style. Most of the Indie or small publisher books I read are well edited. There is usually the odd error but I find errors in books published by large publishing houses too.

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?

Robbie:  I have only been in the writing world for a few years so I can’t really comment extensively on this. I am fortunate as organisations like RRBC have always existed since I started writing so I only have to make the effort to find people like you and embrace the help and advice offered. I know it hasn’t always been like that and I realise that I have benefited from other people’s efforts to gain recognition for Indie and small publisher authors.

The author community on WordPress has been welcoming and helpful and I have learned a lot from posts about writing, marketing and publishing. I have recently started attending on-line sessions and workshops to improve my writing skills.

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

Robbie:  I am an author. I believe I have good story ideas, but I am still learning how to convey them well and to use the available writing tools to build tension and provide for a professionally written story. I attended a few of the sessions at the recent RRBC writing conference and I learned some new things, especially around filter words and composing short stories.

NJ:  How long have you been writing?

Robbie:  I have always written, but I’ve only been writing fiction for four years. As a girl I wrote poems and descriptive passages and I have written several non-fiction publications about investing in Africa. The most difficult challenge I had with moving from non-fiction writing to fiction, was learning to show and not tell. In non-fiction writing you mainly share facts so it is a different mindset.

NJ:  Robbie, are you able to take constructive criticism of your written work?

Robbie:  Yes, I get feedback from my mother and she is a surpringly good critic. She is a huge reader and is good at picking up areas where I get to bogged down in detail or to convoluted in my story telling. She also picks up typos and that sort of thing for me.

My last two books, as well as my work in progress, have gone through a developmental editing processes which has been hugely useful to me. I have tried to ensure I implement previous advice in my new work and I think I am starting to get it right as the feedback in respect of my new book was much less invasive than the two previous books.

I work with public documents in my day job, so I am used to having a number of people, including lawyers, work through my sections with a fine-tooth comb and send back a lot of changes and edits. I am used to criticism but prefer it to be constructive rather than just negative.

NJ:  Usually when I ask questions like the last one I asked above, I close it off with “…and don’t include your mother.”  LOL.  Name two books that you’ve written? 

While the Bombs Fell 

Through the Nethergate written under Roberta Eaton Cheadle

My books are all available from Amazon US here: https://www.amazon.com/Robbie-Cheadle/e/B01N9J62GQ

NJ:  Which one do you think is the best?

Robbie:  They are very different genres so I can’t really say which is better. They are also aimed at different age groups.

While the Bombs Fell is a fictionalized autobiography of my mom’s life, growing up as a small child in an English town during World War II. The idea for the book was a cross between the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and My Naughty Little Sister by Dorothy Edwards. Each chapter in the book tells of a different event in my mother’s life such as Christmas Day or going swimming in the manner of My Naughty Little Sister.

Through the Nethergate is a supernatural fantasy and is my first darker novel. It followed on the heels of a number of horror and paranormal stories I wrote for various anthologies. Writing these short stories planted the seed that I could write a supernatural book and so I did. It also includes historical and political elements all tied together by a common thread.

NJ:  And who didn’t love the LITTLE HOUSE series?  They sound interesting.  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.

Robbie’s Inspiration shares posts about baking, poetry and fondant art as well as reviews of poetry and children’s books.

Robertawrites shares posts about writing, extracts from my adult and young adult books, photographs of places my family has visited and reviews of classic and adult books.

I often do things in a rush and sometimes run out of time when writing posts. When this happens, I make typing and other errors. I am trying to slow down and read my posts over more critically before publishing them.

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

Robbie:  RRBC has helped me and also a number of my blogging friends.  Blogs like  Nonnie Jules’ three blogs and several others all share writing tips and ideas for marketing books. It all helps and I read as many as I can.

NJ:  Robbie, I’m happy that you find my blogs helpful.  My apologies that I’m behind on my publishing schedule.   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:  I enjoy being part of an on-line book club and I especially enjoy the live sessions especially when they are on a Saturday and I can easily join them. I like interacting with other writers and reviewers and hearing their views about books. I learn a lot that way. 

I am more of a listener than a speaker when I attend but that works for me and I gain a lot from hearing what others have to say.

NJ:  That’s good to hear.  Have you come across any other online entities like RRBC?

Robbie:  I have not come across another organization like RRBC. It is a huge undertaking to run an organization like RRBC and for Nonnie to have her fingers in so many pies. I know there are a limited number of people involved. I can see how much hard work it is, and I don’t think there are many others who would be willing to do this. Or who would be able to organize it all as successfully.

NJ:  Thank you for noticing the hard work that goes into running such  a huge, well-oiled machine like RRBC – and you’re right, I haven’t found any who would be willing to do what I do here (believe me, I’ve looked and tried to recruit them to take over!) but although many have tried to mimic the successful growth and organized processes of RRBC, none have come close to scratching the surface of what goes on here. (Even when they were entrusted with the RRBC kitchen sink and then ran off with it, they still couldn’t do what we do here.)  I’m so grateful to my right-hand Paula, who is the absolute greatest at what she does, to John F. who handles Membership and helps me with anything I need help with daily, to Wendy and Jan for their awesome and selfless contributions to RWISA, and to the hosts of RAVE WAVES (Shirley, Joy, Wendy, Rox, Guy and Sam) who are the ultimate show hosts and who we look forward to getting “good show” from every month – we are grateful to all of them.  Lastly, we wouldn’t be who we are without the amazingly supportive “core” group of members who have taken up residence here within RRBC.  I could go on and on about those dedicated and committed members who proudly wear the label of  RRBC Author, but, this is your interview and I’ve taken up enough of it, Robbie.   Yes, very few hands keep this huge machine going, but you wouldn’t know it unless I told you, because it all flows so well together.  Robbie, would you recommend RRBC to your friends and family?

Robbie:  Yes, I would recommend RRBC to other authors and writers. I do try to participate in promotions and blog posts that tell others about its benefits when I can. I also juggle a lot of balls so I can’t always do everything.

NJ:  That’s awesome.  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.)

Robbie:  I have only been a member for nine months, so I am still learning about all the things on offer in the club. I really did enjoy the writing conference and I like the live sessions and join when I can. I also have a six-hour time difference which makes evening sessions difficult for me.

NJ:  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?

Robbie:  I’d like to thank you, Nonnie, for this opportunity to showcase my books and thank you for all the hard work that goes into running RRBC.  I appreciate the time and effort the team goes to under her leadership.

NJ:  You’re too kind, Robbie, and it was such a pleasure to have you join me today .  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 November, 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.  We post material exactly as it is submitted to us.

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: 

photography of three dogs looking up
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.

#AUTHORS, WHAT’S YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION AND DO YOU EVEN CARE? #RRBC #RWISA

Reputation is everything

…and if it isn’t to you, then Houston, we have a problem.  Your reputation – is it reputable or is it dishonorable?  Well, so that you have a clear understanding of what a reputation is, let me give you a little refresher on the word.

The estimation in which a person or thing is held, especially by the community or the general public;  the way in which people think of someone or something.

As an author, regardless of what others think or how I am perceived, my reputation is of extreme importance to me.  I have worked hard to build my name and standing in the literary community, therefore, I guard it, and the perception of it, with great care.

Because we interact with our peers and our “communities” without the comfort of solidarity, yet, in an anonymous world behind keyboards, there are those that feel these situations offer a green light to behave poorly and recklessly.

We’re all familiar with online “trolls,” aren’t we?  The ones who go around the web wreaking havoc on everyone’s lives and enjoying every moment of it?  These people tend to hide behind fictitious names so that no one knows who they are, and their steps can’t be easily traced.  After the demise of those fake identities, they simply create new ones to continue along their senseless paths of destruction.  (Wait – let’s not focus on these trolls too much, as I have not the time or the energy to spend on them, even in my writing.  So, moving right along …).  And then, there are those who cause similar chaos online under their real names or Pen names…they just don’t care what others think about their poor behavior, and truth be told, these are the ones I worry about most. The fact that they DON’T CARE ABOUT THEIR REPUTATION OR HOW THEY ARE PERCEIVED, is a very scary thing.  Trust me when I say that if they don’t care about their own, they will lose no sleep over trying to destroy or taint yours.

You see, when I hear someone say that they are an Author, I tend to hold them to a certain level of esteem, and I’ll admit, I also expect a certain amount of professionalism and decorum from Authors.  Why?  Because although change is good, there are some things (in my mind) that should never change.

I remember as a child, dreaming and wishing that I could one day meet my favorite Author (Louisa May Alcott), but deep down, knowing that would never be possible.  Not because she died in the 1800’s, but, when I was but a young lass, Authors just weren’t so “accessible,” and there was this mystery surrounding them.  (And in my opinion, a little mystery always makes life more interesting – wouldn’t you agree?)  We didn’t have the luxury of interacting with them on Facebook and Twitter the way it’s done now, and you know, that wasn’t such a bad thing.  The way they carried and conducted themselves, it was clear the Authors of old cared about their reputations and how they were perceived.  (Kind of reminds you of the Authors on the current RWISA roster, as well as those members of RRBC who also greatly value their professional reputations in this literary arena.)

Today, we have many who display attitudes of nonchalance of decent behavior all over social media.  This is evident when you see the kinds of conversations they carry on on Twitter, the types of images and videos they choose to share on Facebook, and lastly, the behavior they choose to exhibit publicly, period.  Sadly, I’m not only referencing the younger generation. I’ve seen the most unprofessional behavior recently from those who are in grandparent and great-grandparent seasons, that have shown me exactly the behavior TO NOT EXHIBIT when I’m in that same season of life.  I’ve witnessed with my own eyes, two adult women (Authors) in knock-down-drag-out cat fights (aka … war of words) on social media, and as an adult, a mom of daughters, and a professional Author … I was embarrassed for them.  Never in a million years, would I behave in such a manner!

In my embarrassment for these adults, I wondered, Do they not care that others are watching them?  Watching this?  Who would want to run out and purchase their books after witnessing such disgraceful behavior?  I surely wouldn’t.  I imagined seeing the both of them (in the real world) standing outside of a bar, brawling, pulling each other’s hair.  I experienced such embarrassment for them, just watching this play out online – because clearly, they weren’t embarrassed at all.

Engaging in this type of back and forth war-of-words publicly, seals the deal on your online reputation.  People who were friendly with you before, start to become quiet in your midst.  You’re now noticing the ones who once called you “friend,” are now moving away from your inner circle.   Still confused as to why?  People who hold themselves in high esteem, are smart enough to know that you can quickly be tagged as “the company you keep,” and I’ve never once heard that reference used in a good way. These people, professionals who care about their reputations, do not want to be aligned with amateurs who are clearly not in their league, nor are they on the same level.  I personally, tend to quickly move away from people who display such volatile and indecent behavior, as you just never know what they’ll do next.   When it’s displayed once, once is enough for me.  {Note to readers:  I’m the lady who believes what people show me … not so much what they tell me}.

As I wrap things up here, my advice to you is this: Think before you speak and think even harder before you act, lest you do or say something which you might regret later.  If, in the past, you have found yourself guilty of any form of public juvenile behavior, you can still turn things around, if you work hard enough.  Your online reputation is and should be, just as important as your reputation in the real world.  Let what yours say about you, be a true reflection of who you are and how you want to be perceived and received.  And, when others are behaving at a level that you would never stoop to, please, decline their invitation to that party.  There are some who have nothing better to do but spend their time “attempting” to bring others down and ruin lives, and that’s because their lives are so sad, they can’t stand the thought of others living in happy-land.  (FYI, Nonnie is the Mayor of Happy-land – just in case anyone wants to move closer to me … LOL)

What does your online reputation say about you? Is it reputable or is it deplorable?  What do you think others are saying about you, based on this kind of reputation?  We’d love to hear from you via the comments below.

Thanks for stopping by!

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt.

~Anonymous

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RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB

Building Your #Author Platform #RRBC #RWISA

We are 18 days away from our 5th Annual Writers’ Conference & Book Expo and if you haven’t registered to take part in any of the planned book promotions, sessions, games, etc. for this event, you are really doing yourself a grand disservice.

We have 23 sessions being presented in this year’s conference and you still have time to register for them.

Today, I’m giving you a FREE sample of the quality of the sessions and information that will be presented at this year’s #WC&BE20.  This session is in blog form format and I hope that the information contained within proves to be super-beneficial to you and your writing career!

BUILDING YOUR AUTHOR PLATFORM

Nonnie Jules, Presenter

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As writers, we blog about many different things. We blog about our family and friends, how much we do (or don’t) exercise, politics, and even the food we eat. But, unless you’re a family therapist, a fitness guru, a politician or a foodie, none of these are your platforms UNLESS they are all you speak about, the majority of the time.

Many writers pop onto the scene and want the world to know them as being “good at everything,” and although there is a strong possibility they are, readers don’t care to know this. Readers want to believe that they are reading material from EXPERTS, and although we’d love to be, we can’t be EXPERTS at everything. So, that is when you need to establish your author platform.

I actually have two main platforms:  CHILDREN & SUPPORT (although I must admit, that I’m pretty good at writing about a multitude of things). If you were to mention my name to any number of people and ask: “What is her platform?” they would probably respond with “Parenting and children, but she’s always trying to teach the importance of support, as well.”  Now, although they might name one as my main platform, notice how the other is also tied into their response.   WHY? Because these two areas are what I write about, talk about and live the most.  (I should also add Living Decently to my platform, as that is an issue that I tend to lend a ton of focus to, as well).

I am known as THE GOOD MOMMIES’ Mommy.  Its typical for me to stand in line at the market and a parent or someone who recognizes me, walks over and asks:  “Aren’t you the good mommies’ mommy?” My first book, THE GOOD MOMMIES’ GUIDE TO RAISING (ALMOST) PERFECT DAUGHTERS, placed me in that position online.  What everyone may not know is, I am also that mommy in the real world. Raising great kids is typically ALL that I talk about;  it is what I am passionate about, it is what I live and breathe, and so, it is my main platform.  Of course, there are other things I tend to go on and on about, but not as much as this!

Now established, I am consulted by parents, print media outlets, parenting bloggers, and other organizations who recognize me as an “expert” in my field, and wish to use my advice for articles, interviews, and speaking engagements.  Parenting organizations in schools use my parenting guide as a fundraiser in their communities, and humbly, when I speak on the subject, many ears listen.

It’s an art to be able to write well under more than one genre, but first, become known for that one area that solidifies your place in our writing culture, so that readers are easily able to recognize and identify with you.  You’re not being put into a hole or a box, you are just carving out that special place, where your name recognition keeps your foot in the door for a wider range of opportunities.

Here are just a few tips to get you started on the road to building your author platform:

  1.  Pick a subject and become knowledgeable on the topic;
  2. Blog on your subject matter and build a following.  If your content is interesting, it will keep them coming back for more and they’ll also begin spreading the word of your blog to others;
  3. On social media, ensure that you use the appropriately dedicated hashtags for your main area of interest.  I tend to use #Parenting, #Kids, #Children in all of my tweets related to the subject of parenting.  For my blog posts on #support, that is the hashtag that I use. This draws those searching for information on these topics, to my info-filled tweets;
  4. Network with other entities, agencies, and bloggers, etc. in your field, so that you are able to offer guest contributions to their successful websites, blogs, and periodicals.  It’s OK to ask if you may contribute via guest articles and blog posts;
  5. Register and reach out to organizations in your area of interest so that they know who you are, and will keep you in mind when they need authors to speak at their engagements;
  6. Never turn down any media invitations, whether they are in print, radio or television;
  7. Join organizations in the area of your platform focus.  You will learn more from those who are traveling the same road as you are;
  8. Lastly, spend time sharing interesting material on your platform, via your social media forums.  This will increase your following, as well as pique the interest of those who find your social media content worth reading.  They’ll want more and will begin seeking out other areas of your writing, such as your books, blogs, etc.  They will also begin to associate you with that particular field.

If you’re not already, I’d like for you to follow me at WATCH NONNIE WRITE as I will continue to offer more tips to help you begin establishing and building a strong author platform.  What is it that you’re most passionate about? What is the one thing you’re actually KNOWN for? That could very easily serve as the medium you need, to establish your credibility with your new-found platform.

Thanks for spending this time with us.  If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out to me directly at nonniejules@gmail.com.

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SESSION ACCOMPANIMENT
(Here is a list of 7 questions you should ask yourself, to ensure that you are serious about building your author platform).

  •  What am I good at or what am I most interested in?
  • Am I passionate about this field or subject matter?
  • Am I willing to work hard to increase my knowledge of this subject matter?
  • Am I willing to further my education on the subject at an institution of higher learning?
  • Do I feel comfortable speaking intelligently on this subject matter to individuals and organizations, if asked?
  • Am I willing to spend the time building a blog which is focused on my platform?  This would include posting scheduled content, as well as growing my followers;
  • Am I willing to go beyond social media contact to reach out to those in my field who might be able to help grow awareness of my platform?  This means, am I willing to actually pick up the phone and make direct contact?

This is the quality of information you’ll find at our upcoming WC&BE.  Information that will help you to grow in your writing and the marketing of your books and blogs, etc.

Have you registered for the 2020 5th Annual RRBC WRITERS’ CONFERENCE & BOOK EXPO yet?

Have you JOINED RRBC?

Let us know your thoughts on this content and thanks for dropping by!  Please share and LIKE the page before leaving!