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?
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 the hosts of RAVE WAVES (Shirley, Joy, Rox, and Guy) 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.