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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lisa:  Married to my husband Steve for 20 years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

NJ:  Oh, I’d love to see a picture of that one!  She sounds gorgeous.  Maybe have one posted to your RRBC Author Page.  What’s the food that’s so good to you, you go to bed dreaming about it, and you forego breakfast just to get to it?

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

NJ:  What’s your favorite color?  

Lisa:  Red and Black

NJ:  Favorite sport…

Lisa:  Baseball (I used to play softball)

NJ:  Favorite TV Show…

Lisa:  SNL

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

Lisa:   June Allyson.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Loving for sure.” (3 words)

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

15 total 😉

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

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

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

…So, are you neat or messy?

Lisa:  Messy.

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

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

NJ:  Facebook or Twitter?

Lisa:  Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NJ: What was so great about it?

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

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

Lisa:  Yes.

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

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

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

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

NJ:  Read any poorly written books lately?

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

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

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

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

Lisa:  Yes and Yes.

NJ:  How long have you been writing?

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

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

Lisa:  Yes. 

NJ:  Name two books that you’ve written.

Lisa:  Bravura and Appassionato 

NJ:  Which one do you think is the best?

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

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

Lisa:  Stanford Alumni, UCLA Extension. RRBC

NJ:  How were you helped by them?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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? 

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!

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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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Pearls of #Literature on #Marketing, #Blogging, #Community, #Support, Pt. 4 #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 4!

BUILDING YOUR BRAND AS AN AUTHOR

While processing membership applications for the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB, I come across so many authors who don’t have consistency in their brands, or, have given no thought to establishing a brand at all. If I have utilized someone’s email address for some reason, and then I go back to try and find them later, I can’t because their email address is different from their actual name.  This tells me that they have no established author brand.  But, the person whose name is “Lucy Lunchmeat” with an email address of lucylunchmeat@meatmarket.com, is easily found and makes my job a whole lot easier. (By the way, thanks, Lucy!)

In establishing your author brand, you have to be consistent across the board, no matter where you are, no matter what you’re doing, and no matter who you’re talking to.

This is a prime example of someone without an established author brand:
Name: Laurie Primer
Email: readabookgirl@yahoo.com
Twitter Handle: @DontBotherMe
Facebook: L. Psssst
Blog: Come On Over

Now, take notice of someone with an established author brand:
Name: Nonnie Jules
Email: NonnieJules@
Twitter Handle: @NonnieJules
Facebook: Nonnie Jules – Author
Blog: WATCH NONNIE WRITE!

Did you pick up on the recurring theme in the example where the author has established her brand? My name (Nonnie Jules or Nonnie) is the glue that holds my brand together. Anytime someone is seeking me out, they can probably find me based on one factor: MY NAME!

The example above without an established brand is a person all over the place. You’d have to pick up the phone and call them if you wanted to follow them on Twitter, friend them on Facebook, read their blog, or even send them an email. And, what if you don’t have their phone number (which you probably won’t) – then what? Well, that author has missed out on a possible fan, follower, or reader.  That’s pretty unfortunate in my book.

If you’ve hopped onto the writing scene and your twitter handle is still @CharliesMoma, unless the name of your book is “CHARLIE’S MOMA,” and unless you’re planning on being a one-book-author, I’d look towards creating a bit of consistency (and professionalism, for that matter) …. as some of you have Twitter handles and email addresses that are good for one thing – tickling our funny bones.

I’m an author and I pride myself on my professionalism in this industry, therefore, I want to be taken seriously at all times. It’s never too late, or too early as I mentioned above, to start working on establishing your author brand. 

By the way, when I met awesome RRBC member, Shirley Harris-Slaughter, her Twitter handle was @motorcitywriter, her blog site’s name was Gallery By Leslie (who is Leslie?) and don’t even ask me what her email address was at the time, but it wasn’t even close to anything having to do with her name.

After I had a conversation with Shirley about the importance of her establishing a brand with consistency and one that was easily recognizable and tied to her, she ran with the advice she was given.  Now, there is no mistaking who this beautiful face belongs to and it’s not because she owns so many RRBC tee-shirts:

RRBCPhoto2

Her brand is crystal clear today!

Author Name:  Shirley Harris-Slaughter
Email: sharrislaughter@
Twitter: @sharrislaughter
Website: Shirley Harris-Slaughter

So, what does your brand say about you?  Does it lead readers straight to your door or does it send them on a scavenger hunt just to find bits and pieces of you everywhere? 

Get your brand established and in order.  You’ll be so glad you did!

~Nonnie Jules

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