Congratulations to Jenny LM who won Susanne Dietze's My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho Prize pack!

Congratulations to Elise Jehan who won a copy of The Secret Admirer Romance Collection!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Meet Book Blogger Raechel of "God's Peculiar Treasure Rae"

Today I'm hosting Raechel, who might be the youngest book blogger I know. This gives her a unique viewpoint on today's Christian fiction.

Welcome Raechel! How long have you been reviewing and how did you decide on the theme for your blog?

R: Hello Debra! I’m really excited to be here. :) I’ve been reviewing for about 7 years, I believe. As for how I came to decide on the theme of my blog, it started out just being an All-Purpose blog when I was about 14 years old - I really loved the verse and concept of being God’s Peculiar Treasures, so I adopted that into the name and kept with it. I do still use my blog for all-purposes, but reviewing is the primary posts because...well, I love books. :)

“Peculiar Treasure”

"Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine" - Exodus 19:5

D: I think that progression from a broader to a narrower focus for a blog is common.  So, what’s the best part of being a reviewer?

R: Definitely getting the chance to read (sometimes even advance read) amazing books! For free, too. That’s pretty great. I am a book-lover through and through, so starting new adventures is always a joy.

D: Free books are a great reason to start blogging, but writing reviews is not for everyone! I'm all for simple reviews, but some of you bloggers are incredible! What’s the most difficult part of the ‘the job’?

R: Hmmm...probably having to have reviews posted on time. There are some publishers that require you to have a book read and reviewed on a certain date, and that can be hard when life intervenes. Usually the required date is far enough out that it doesn’t cause too much of a problem, but still, it can be difficult. And I have an immensely hard time when I have to review a book I didn’t necessarily care for. It’s rare, but it happens, and I hate to give a ‘bad review’, so I try to be as gentle as I can, always. I know how much work an author puts into their stories!

D: I think we all know that everyone's tastes are different. Look at ice cream! So, I agree and absolutely appreciate what you're saying!  Speaking of... What was the last book you read that you couldn’t put down?

R: Well, I’m sure there’s actually been several, but I think I’ll go with “Bread of Angels” by Tessa Afshar. I love her books and never want to put them down. :)

D: Without trying to sound all woo-woo here, I'd say that Tessa has a special calling and anointing to write Biblical fiction. Absolutely! (I just finished Land of Silence, myself!) Here's Raechel's review!

D: What do you do when you aren’t making authors happy? (I assume you have a life outside of fiction. Maybe not!)

R: There’s a life outside of fiction?! Hehe, just kidding. Besides reading, I also enjoy writing my own stories, growing more in Jesus, and being with my family, to name a few things. :)

D: What would you like to share about yourself that few people know?

R: I have sensory-integration-dysfunction. I’ve struggled with it since I was four or five years old. It’s hard to explain what all it entails, but for me it is primarily how clothing feels against my skin, and some emotional issues. It’s not an ‘issue’ I hear about frequently, but I think there might be quite a few people who do deal with it, knowingly or unknowingly, and I’ve always wanted to let others know that they’re not alone in this struggle. God brings His presence, and I believe He will bring His healing in time. :)

D: I think sensory dysfunction is much more common that people realize, but thankfully it's recognized more now and children are given ways to deal with it than say, ten years ago. Not understanding the symptoms means a label of 'behavioral problems'! I have a special young man in my life that deals with something similar. Thank you for talking about it!

D: What is your favorite fiction setting? Place and time?  Genre’?

R: Oooh, hard question. I like a lot of different things in fiction! I guess Medieval/Magic-less Fantasy and Biblical Fiction would be a close tie, but I also love books set in the 40’s, and contemporary clean romances have become a recent hard to choose!

D: Which gives me a chance to say I want to sit down someday and read through all of Sarah Sundin's books! (She's such a sweetheart, too!)

The truth is... I went snooping and saw that you also like knife and tomahawk throwing, so I'm going to ask you more about this in the comments.  GOTCHA!

What’s your favorite movie to watch if you had a rainy afternoon alone?  What if that afternoon rolled into a quiet evening alone…  What catered meal would you like delivered to your house? Cost is not an issue!

R: I think I’d have to choose…”Wives and Daughters” or “North and South” (both Elizabeth Gaskell adaptations), but Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” (with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds) would be a close one too. Mmm,  a catered meal sounds fabulous, especially with cost not being an issue. ;) I think I’d have to go with a small buffet - I’d want a little of everything. :D

I'm whipping cream. I'll be right back!(photo courtesy of Pixabay)

D: How funny!  Kav Rees, my last guest, chose Wives and Daughters too.  Elizabeth Gaskell, if you're listening,  We Love You!  I own it and both Persuasions. Ciaran Hinds is a bad guy in a Thomas Hardy series and it's hard to not picture him as Capt. Wentworth! oh my!
Meanwhile, I've ordered that buffet. We'll start with strawberry cheesecake!

D: If you could wiggle your nose and be in your dream career, what would it be?

R: That would be a missionary. I’ve known that’s what I wanted to ‘be’ since I was 13, and God has only strengthened that desire over the years. Just waiting on His timing!

D: I think you have a very good chance of that happening, as opposed to professional fabric hoarder (my choice).  I'll be watching for updates! 
What piece of advice would you offer authors who are just starting out?

R: Focus on God and what He’s guiding you to write - critiques and reviews are definitely important, but God’s heart in a story is the most important thing, I believe!

D: I have to remind myself of this all the time! Some of my stories are closer to the center of Christian fiction, (we call that Preaching to the Choir), but I try to just write the story that I need to tell at the time, and hope they find the readers they were meant for.

Raechel, I love what you're doing with your blog and we all appreciate the role of book blogger/ reviewers. Thank you so much for helping us all out, and for visiting the Inkwell!

Here's another fun way to follow Raechel - Twitter! @raechel_95

I'm also doing a summer promotion on my newsletter.  (This might help someone buy that Wives and Daughters DVD now.. heh heh). One of the new subscribers during June, July and August will receive a $25.00 Amazon gift card. This will not include those who come in through other promotions such as BookSweeps, so the numbers will be in your favor if you sign up!

SIGNUP for Debra's Newsletter

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Canada 150th Birthday Celebration

Hopefully, a person cannot go anywhere in Canada these days without seeing something that says it's Canada's 150 birthday year. Wave those flags, people! Wear those pins! Sing the special song written to commemorate this wonderful year!

I was in Grade 5 when Canada celebrated its centennial year in 1967 with a special Confederation Train that traveled across the nation showing the history of our country in its cars. I remember walking through the low-lighted cars filled with posters, objects and wax-like people created to bring history alive. I loved every bit of it, especially the horn that blew the first 4 notes of our national anthem, O Canada. (Train horn audio courtesy of The Canadian Railway Hall of Fame)

The 1967 Centennial logo was a stylized maple leaf which was shown in mixed colors, or in a solid/white combination. The logo was everywhere. I don't know who came up with the idea but we used to draw it on the ground during recess and play hopscotch on it. It was my favorite variation of the simple schoolyard game.

For Canada's 150th, the logo we are seeing everywhere is similar, but with more variation, much like our diverse multi-cultural country. Much like the 1967 logo, its triangles stand for the state of our country today, as shown on the right. If I was younger, I'd be playing hopscotch on this one too.

As for a special celebration song, I still remember this one because it was easy to sing along. This video is a simple batch of photos showing 1967 centennial images, but the women's fashions make me smile.

There isn't an official Canada 150 song, but songs and videos have been written for the occasion, including this one by Walt Disney Studios in celebration of Canada's contribution to the entertainment world, and let me add that there is a very good mix of clips on this reel:

Bryan Anderson wrote a celebration song with 150 Canadian mentions and challenges you to find them all:

Which reminds me that Participaction has a Sporting Challenge going on that challenges you to complete 150 sports this year, provides a playlist to keep you on track, and offers chances to win prizes.

And finally, Canadian Pacific has announced that a CP Canada 150 Train will cross Canada this summer with special cars, including a pixelated car called Spirit of Tomorrow that needs the help of children writing down their wishes to make it come alive.

Click the CP Canada 150 Train page for the train schedule and more information.

This is an exciting year for Canadians with the upcoming July 1st being the biggest celebration day EVER! And I've only touched on a few of the topics concerning Canada's 150th, so if you know any others, please let us know in the comment section of this post.



Anita Mae Draper's historical romances are woven under the western skies of the Saskatchewan prairie where her love of research and genealogy yields fascinating truths that layer her stories with rich historical details.  Anita's short story, Here We Come A-Wassailing, was a finalist for the Word Guild's 2015 Word Awards. Her novellas are included in Austen in Austin Volume 1, The American Heiress Brides Collection, and The Secret Admirer Romance Collection. Readers can check out Anita's Pinterest boards for a visual idea of her stories to enrich their reading experience.  Discover more at:

Monday, June 19, 2017

Book Blogger Kav from Best Reads

Debra says: Hi Kav! Thank you for visiting the Inkwell! I’m pleased to host you and show my appreciation for the important part that reviewers play in an author’s life! We’re nothing without you.

Kav replies... Thanks for asking me to stop by…and making me think really hard in order to answer your questions. 

D: Ha ha! I was successful, then! So- how long have you been reviewing and how did blogging come about? For example,how did you decide on the theme for your blog or the process you'd use? 

K: I have been reviewing Christian Fiction for seven years now and it started by accident.  I began my blog as a way to keep track of the books I read – kind of an online reading diary with very sparse reviews meant just for me. I liked the fact that I could tag books by author, genre and subject (that’s the librarian in me.) I never thought it would get any notice! But then I got a few followers and a comment or two and it slowly grew from there.
I fleshed out my reviews and started posting them on Goodreads, CBD, Amazon and Chapters as well. It’s still a very modest blog. No bells and whistles. It’s not pretty. (I’m a technology dunce.) My focus has always been on reading and reviewing…and in the last several years, giveaways too. So I review a different book a day from Monday to Saturday and each book includes a giveaway opportunity. Sunday I announce the winners and post what I’ll be reviewing and giving away in the coming week. 

 Here's the Link!

D: I bow to your abilities! Wow. I find reviewing difficult. It's like trying to come up with a short blurb to explain a 60k story! 
Besides eye-strain, what’s the best part of being a reviewer?

K: Reading Christian Fiction!!!! (Well, that’s a given, I guess.) Love connecting with fellow readers, chatting about books, sharing what new release we’re looking forward to next.  And supporting authors in a tough industry. Love it when someone tells me they tried a book after reading a review that they might not have picked up otherwise.

D: Word of mouth is still the best!  What’s the most difficult part of the ‘the job’?

K: So many books, so little time!!!!!!!

D: What was the last book you read that you couldn’t put down?

K: That happens to me a lot because I’m a book addict – so I’m going to say With You Always by Jody Hedlund which is sitting on my desk waiting for a review. Historical details are so fascinating…and appalling…and I cared about the characters and didn’t want to leave them hanging which meant I had to keep reading.

D: What do you do when you aren’t writing reviews and making authors happy?

K: So, funny thing is I don’t do a whole lot. I have been on disability from my job as a school librarian (and my part-time job as a college reference librarian) for several years now. I have a chronic pain condition which makes it really hard to do a lot of things. I can’t even go to the movies! Even visiting with friends in a restaurant can be debilitating. So I read a lot.  And books have been my saving grace – not only for the stories I get to live through vicariously but for the online connections I make with authors and readers.

But – in my before pain life – I loved to garden for hours on end, quilt – mostly memory quilts for friends – and I was crazy into furniture upcycling. And crazy painting cast off chairs. (Think Mary Englebreit.) And I’ve always had high energy dogs that I liked to walk and train. 
I’m still enamoured with all of that, but unable to do to most of it. Right now I’m working towards getting mobile enough to adopt a senior dog. And I’m very slowly (very, very, very slowly) putting together a memory quilt for my daughter out of her grampa’s old plaid shirts. I also garden…really pared down though – just ten or fifteen minute stints a couple of times a day.

D: Besides sharing ancestral names (we'll keep that a small mystery) I think it's clear we are related. Quilting, Upcycling, Gardening. This is cool! I did used to work in the library in middle school, but didn't make it a career!  But you, my dear, are in a league above with all that reading. Thank God for books, right? 
What would you like to share about yourself that few people know?

K: Hmmmm……it’s not a secret that I love animals but lots of folks don’t know that I raised 2 orphan raccoons in my downtown city apartment! And my parents never let me have pets when I was a kid so when I moved out on my own I kind of went overboard and had a budgie, two dogs, one dwarf rabbit, a rat, and a couple of mice all at the same time! 
This is Kav's new form of transport. DO YOU LIKE THE SHOES?

D: I think raccoons would be fun, but busy! I'm also wondering how you got any sleep. With a crew like that, "someone" must have been making noises in the night! Aren't raccoons chatty?

What is your favorite fictional setting? Place and time?  Genre’?  What would you like to see less of?

K: Oh, this is hard. I’m an eclectic reader. I love historical, contemporary, Amish, Suspense even some speculative. It definitely has to be Christian Fiction and I adore romance so I prefer that to be a focal point. I have a certain fondness for Regency though. I get a tad shy of giddy when I get one of those.  Oh and I love the mix of suspense and historical or Amish and suspense. 
One era I’m not super thrilled over is…gasp…the Civil War era. Might be because I’m Canadian. Might be because I’m…double gasp…not a Scarlett O”Hara fan…I dunno…it’s just not the first time period I would choose to read. 

D: GASP IS RIGHT!  But you are forgiven. Gone With the Wind probably started my big interest in historical fiction and history, but it's not everyone's cup of tea! We'll have to talk about the War of 1812. Later.

What’s your favorite movie to watch if you had a rainy afternoon alone?

K: I have been getting a lot of DVDs from the library and I tend to watch BBC television series over movies but one BBC movie I adored was Wives and Daughters so I definitely want to watch that again, though technically, I think it’s a mini-series made for TV. Does that count?
Deb says...My favorite Scientist is missing from this cover!
D: I have a bunch that I watch over and over. I do happen to OWN Wives and Daughters because I love it so much! So well done and exceptional characters. 
If you could wiggle your nose and be in your dream career, what would it be?

K: Author!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (and dog whisperer would be a close second.)

D: Author, huh? Seriously, after reading your reviews, I'm not at all surprised. Your love affair with words shows!
What piece of advice would you offer authors who are just starting out?

K: Make sure your website or blog (or both) is up to date. It amazes me the number of times I discover a new-to-me-author and I rush to their website to find out if they have other books out or when the next book is coming out and….nada. Nothing. Zilch. So frustrating. 

D: Oh crud. I'm guilty of that. My website was a dud. It's actually active now, but totally self-managed and therefore fighting for priority.

Kav...ahem...ignored my question about food and dessert so I'm going to just pop this up here. Blueberry Torte. Cause I love the colors. And I love food. She doesn't actually have time to eat, because it 'eats' into her reading time!

Thank you, Kav, for hanging out and chatting and for all you do to promote Christian Fiction and authors and reading and...wildlife!  It's been fun getting to know more about you, and I hope we can send more readers over to your blog.

Tea will be served with the torte and there'll be a viewing of Wives and Daughters tonight!
As always, if anyone is thinking of becoming a reviewer, we at the Inkwell would be happy to give you a start! wink wink.  Have a great week, everyone!  Please leave a comment for Kav. We're here to chat and talk fiction and British costume dramas and raccoon-keeping!

(PS, I'm running a newsletter promotion this summer. New subscribers before Labor Day will be eligible for a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card or blueberry torte. your choice.  The Torte doesn't travel well, though... so here's the link: Debra's Newsletter )

Friday, June 16, 2017

Tall Ships

by C.J. Chase
Norfolk Harborfest was last weekend here, so I took my best camera (and the two boys who wanted to come along) to the "parade of sail." Five years ago, I put up some of my pictures from touring tall ships here at Inkwell when they were moored, but this time I hoped to catch the ships sailing. Unfortunately, we were too far upriver to get the full feel of the "Age of Sail" as the largest ships have to "shorten sail" (reduce the amount of sail so they catch less wind) when they get that far inland. If I'd known that, I'd have driven to a different vantage point. Still, I think I got some pretty good shots.

At certain points, the ships sailed in front of tall buildings on the other side of the Elizabeth River (in Portsmouth, Virginia). I'm going to put in pictures with the same buildings in the background, so you can use them as a reference point on the size of the various ships.

Are you ready to learn some cool nautical terms?

This is the Virginia, a replica of earlier ship that carried the same name. She (ships get a female pronoun in English) is a schooner.

What is a schooner? Glad you asked. Schooners have two or more masts and "fore-and-aft" sails. Fore-and-aft is a description of the orientation of the sails. See how they are parallel with the length of the ship? The Virginia is 126' long and her mainmast (the tallest stick thing) is 108' high. Schooners were popular in the 19th century. The famous "Baltimore clippers" were schooners.

For some contrast, this is the USCGC Eagle. She is a barque.

A barque is a ship with three or more masts and "square rig" sails. On a square rig ship, the "spars" (those cross bar things on the masts that the sails are attached to) are perpendicular to the keel. The keel is the long lower portion of the ship -- you know, the part you'd ride in if you were a passenger. The Eagle is operated as a training ship by the US Coast Guard, and she is 295' long. Her foremast (the tall stick thing by the bow, er, front) and mainmast (the tall stick thing in the middle) are 147' high. Can you see the sailors standing on the spars? They couldn't do that on the Virginia.

I zoomed in here to get a shot of sailors standing on the spars of the BAP Union.

The BAP Union is a 379' long training ship operated by the Peruvian navy. I haven't been able to find a height for her tallest mast, other than that they must be over 200'. She is supposedly the second largest tall ship operating today. Here's a picture with the same building in the background and some other boats to give you an idea of her sheer size.

As you can tell from the building, I couldn't zoom in with the camera lens as I did for the Virginia. You can barely even see the sailors on the spars from this view.

Here's a smaller square rig ship. The Godspeed is a brigantine, a two-masted ship common in the 16th - 18th centuries. You may have read stories with brigantines as they were a favorite of pirates.

The original Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery were the three ships that brought the original English settlers to Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. With a mere 88' length and a main mast less than 72' high, the Godspeed replica was the smallest of the tall ships, but her namesake has been on both a US postage stamp ($0.41 denomination in 2007) and US currency (on the reverse of the 2000 Virginia quarter).

Oh, and don't blame the photographer for the poorer picture quality. The fireboats were approaching when the Godspeed sailed by. There was no fire. They were just showing off, and they throw a lot of water into the air! (But the mist blowing in felt good on a sunny June day.)

This is the Godspeed sailing the other direction after she had shortened sail. Her bow (forward part) is on the right side of the picture and her stern (rear) is on the left. (She also sailed closer to my side of the river, which is why the building in the background seems smaller.)

Flying the flag of Spain, El Galeon is a replica of another famous type of ship from the same era. 

Galleons are square rig ships with three or four masts. Spanish galleons transported New World riches like gold and silver from the colonies to the mother country in the 16th and 17th centuries. They were more heavily armed than other ships of the time because they were a favorite target of pirates.

After a day watching tall ships. I have a terrible craving for a nautical-themed movie. But how to decide among Gregory Peck

Ioan Gruffudd

and Russell Crowe?

You know, I shouldn't play favorites. I should just watch them all.

Monday, June 12, 2017

What's Your Favorite Time Period?

By Niki Turner 

Everyone has a favorite fictional time period (or a few) to read about, whether it's medieval England or America's wild west. The Inkies have covered multiple time periods in the last eight years. 

In the last few years I've noticed a move in fiction toward exploring new eras, ones which haven't been the subject of as much romanticization in fiction... World War I and World War II, the Great Depression, and so forth. 

I'm at work on my next Christmas novella. The setting lends itself toward a western-themed romance, but I'm leaning toward something later... 

As I write this post, my husband and I are watching the first episode of a television series about Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and we've just had a conversation about which war they're talking about. At my "other job" every week I peruse our local newspaper from 100 years ago, so I'm entrenched in the early years of WWI and dreading next year's Spanish Flu epidemic. These were eras I never would have considered writing about a decade or so ago, but now it feels like everything is an option. 

So what's your favorite time period? Why?

What time period would you like to experience in fiction?

Niki Turner is an author, newspaper publisher and editor. You can find her at or visit her Facebook page at All her books are available on Amazon at

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Screwtape Letters

There are several stories I enjoy revisiting from time to time because, no matter how old they are or how many times I’ve read them or seen them acted out, they never fail to resonate with my spiritual self. The Christmas classics How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life are three of the best. I know them well. I could practically quote them, but they somehow always manage to work their way past the hardness of my heart to remind me what’s true and what’s important about this life. They aren’t technically Christian, but they do say a lot about the importance of love and grace and relationships rather than material successes, which is quite Christian indeed.

Another story at the top of my list is C. S. Lewis’s immortal The Screwtape Letters. Previously, I have listened to the audio version as narrated by John Cleese of Monty Python fame. He is a delicious reader and gives his Screwtape the ideal touch of bureaucratic sadism that makes the character come alive. But just recently I became aware of this audio-dramatization by Focus on the Family:

“From the award-winning audio drama team that brought you Radio Theatre’s Amazing Grace and The Chronicles of Narnia. In his enduringly popular masterpiece The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis re-imagines Hell as a gruesome bureaucracy. With spiritual insight and wry wit, Lewis suggests that demons, laboring in a vast enterprise, have horribly recognizable human attributes: competition, greed, and totalitarian punishment. Avoiding their own painful torture as well as a desire to dominate are what drive demons to torment their “patients.”
The style and unique dark humor of The Screwtape Letters are retained in this full-cast dramatization, as is the original setting of London during World War II. The story is carried by the senior demon Screwtape played magnificently by award-winning actor Andy Serkis (“Gollum” in Lord of the Rings) as he shares correspondence to his apprentice demon Wormwood. All 31 letters lead into dramatic scenes, set in either Hell or the real world with humans―aka “the patient,” as the demons say―along with his circle of friends and family.”

Andy Serkis aka Screwtape

I’ve only had time to listen to two of the four discs, but I’ve enjoyed it tremendously. Not only is it full of dry and dark humor, the acting/reading from Screwtape down to the minor players is excellent. Serkis is clearly enjoying the part, and that makes it a treat to listen to. And, as always, I always find things in this epistolary novel that make me consider my own life and how I live it in light of God’s eternity.

Highly recommended.

Have you read or listened to The Screwtape Letters? What is your favorite of Lewis’s works? Why?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Meet Book Blogger Katie of Fiction Aficionado

Hi Katie!
Thank you for visiting the Inkwell! I'm so happy to have you here, and we'll get right to it! long have you been reviewing and how did you decide on the theme for your blog? 

Katie says...I’ve been reviewing for about eighteen months at FictionAficionado ( but I kind of crept onto the reviewing scene quietly, testing the waters for a little while, not making much of a splash and generally finding my way. But once I started connecting with authors and other bloggers, things really started taking off. I love the way those in the book-blogging community support each other.

There was never any question that my blog would be about fiction and my
love of reading. My official tag line is ‘The power of fiction, the beauty of
words, and the God who made us to wield them for His glory.’ One of my favourite stories in the Bible is when Nathan comes to confront King David about his affair with Bathsheba. Does he launch into a catalogue of David’s sins? Does he ask David what he has done? No. He tells him a story about a poor farmer with a single, precious ewe lamb, and a rich man with a large
number of sheep and cattle. When a traveler came to stay with the rich man, he did not take one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare for his guest. He took the one precious ewe lamb belonging to the poor man. David is outraged and declares that the rich man should die. Nathan’s response is short and to the point: “You are that man.” How convicting! That is the power of fiction. It allows us to step back from ourselves and see a broader picture. It invites us to explore the rich and complex palette of human 
emotions from a place of safety, but then every so often, looks us in the eye and whispers,“You are that man (or woman).” And it celebrates life! The gifts from God our creator, like love, forgiveness, grace, joy, comfort in mourning…
*Ahem* I’ll stop now. J I can tend to get a bit passionate about this topic!

Stories, like songs, connect to our brain in ways that just seem to sink in! Who but God would know better than that?  I am usually listening to multiple audiobooks (one at work, one in the truck, one on my kindle at night) and reading a few stories when I can catch the time. Oh, and writing at least one or two at any given moment. Wouldn't it be nice if all that word juggling burned calories?
OR... trying to figure out what time it is in Australia versus New York?

So add these hours to Greenwich Mean Time and divide it by the fact no one knows what's going on. Then there's Daylight Savings Time. In other words, Katie is trying to sleep when I'm trying to be awake. Maybe. Then add five children. Sigh.

So Katie, if you're still awake, what’s the best part of being a reviewer?

There are so many good parts! I love being able to support authors—when I started, I didn’t realize just how important reviews are for authors now that Amazon is on the scene—and, of course, there’s being able to indulge my reading addiction without breaking the bank. But I think the best part is being part of the author/reader community. I don’t know about anyone 
else, but after I’ve read a good book, I’m just bursting to talk about it, and although Hubby is a reader as well, it’s not often that we read the same things, and . . . well, he tries to be interested, but then his eyes glaze a little and I can tell he’s just indulging me!  Now I have this wonderful community of on-line friends who are more than happy to share my 
enthusiasm!  Although, Hubby still doesn’t get off completely scott-free . . . J

I was pretty clueless myself. I just wanted to write and be published. I didn't
know just how ridiculous it was to think that anyone would notice--just because it was there. I've heard there are more than 500 a day. This is why I'm excited about this new feature promoting book bloggers. Without reviewers, the other two-thirds of the publishing industry (authors and publishers) aren't going to survive. 

What’s the most difficult part of the ‘the job’?

Saying ‘no’! There are so many good books to choose from, and nowhere near enough hours to devote to reading. I have a TBR to last me from here until the next century!

What was the last book you read that you couldn’t put down?

Well, not being able to put a book down is kind of a frequent problem for me!
  Let’s see . . . The most recent book I finished (at the time of writing these responses) was ‘Out of Darkness’ by debut author Erynn Newman. It’s a romantic suspense that really tugs on the heartstrings as well as delivering great suspense.

(Deb quickly makes note of that and moves on...) What do you do when you aren’t making authors happy? aka writing reviews!

I try to keep my husband and children happy, fed, and in clean clothes! We have five children aged from 11.5 years down to almost 5 years, and we’re homeschooling, so there are lessons to teach, books to mark, and students to motivate. Oddly enough, I often have to pull their noses out of books...

What would you like to share about yourself that few people know?

Hmm . . . Okay, are you ready for a story? I still can’t believe I did this, but in 2008, a
choir I was involved in was on a nation-wide TV show here in Australia called ‘Battle of the Choirs’. I don’t know if you’ve ever had anything like that in the States, but it was kind of similar in feel to shows like ‘The Voice’ or ‘So You Think You Can Dance’, just with choirs. And a much smaller pool of contestants. 

Each episode featured four choirs who battled it out before a panel of four judges, firstly with a piece they had prepared themselves, and secondly, with a piece that was given to them on the day of filming that was part of a medley with the other choirs. After performing these, one choir would go straight through to the next round, one would be immediately knocked out, and the remaining two choirs would have to sing a second prepared piece to battle it out for a spot in the next round. Now, The University of Newcastle Chamber Choir is a serious chamber choir. You know, standing in two rows on the stage, singing serious music from the 1500s all the way up to music written by contemporary composers. We weren’t strangers to competitions—had actually been quite successful in the ones we had entered in the past—but this competition was going to require us to choose popular songs (eek!), which would then be arranged for choir and were to be performed WITH ACTIONS, otherwise known as choral-ography! I think my exact words to our conductor were, “Are you nuts? This is so not us. We’ll embarrass ourselves!” I should also mention that by this stage, Hubby and I had three kids—our eldest daughter was a bit over two years old, and I had recently given birth to twins—so I wasn’t actually singing in the choir (although Hubby still was, and they asked me to join back in for the competition). The twins would only be 5-6 months old at the time of filming, which would be an all-day affair in Sydney (two hours south of us), but I thought, “We’ll be dropped after the first episode anyway. I might as well agree.”
Ha! Little did I know…

To cut a long story short, we made it through to the next round. And the round after that. And to the semi-finals. AND TO THE FINALS! They were absolutely crazy days, at the studio for twelve hours rehearsing and filming. (There were a couple of weeks between the filming of earlier episodes). Luckily the backstage crew were completely enamoured with our kids, and there were frequent breaks in filming for the tech crew to go over what was 
recorded and make sure they had all the camera angles and that there were no technical difficulties and what not. Those breaks were breast-feeding breaks, play with the toddler breaks, make sure they’re having a nap breaks!
I look back now and wonder how on earth I did it. WHY on earth I did it. But it was a once in a lifetime experience. And . . . we actually won! Out of an original pool of about 24 choirs, we won! If you want to get a feel for what it was like, here are the three best clips from YouTube.
Singing ‘Purple Haze’ by Jimi Hendrix (yes, we really did that!) 
Singing ‘Straight to my Heart’ by Sting 
(yes, that’s me with one of the twins at 1:37 and then my sister sitting with our eldest on the floor in the next frame. I’m on the far right of the choir when we perform).All three finalists singing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen – watch out for the tenor who totally rocks the ‘mama!’ at 1:26. That’s our Paulie!

That's something to look back on and treasure! How cool is that? I'm very impressed--not surprised--but impressed with how much of a time commitment that must have been at such a crazy time of parenthood! I'll be paying close attention to see which of your five starts to excel in musical performance!

What is your favorite setting? (We're back to fiction, by the way). Place and time?  Genre’?

Oh, I couldn’t possibly pick just one! One of the things I love about reading is that you can experience so many different times and places. And I love mixing up my genres—although a little romance is always welcome, no matter the genre! 

What’s your favorite movie to watch if you had a rainy afternoon alone? When the afternoon drags into the evening and you had a catered meal coming, what would it be? (Don’t forget dessert!)

If I had a rainy afternoon alone, I would probably go for the BBC Pride and Prejudice mini-series. I have long been a Jane Austen fan, and I looooooove the Regency period (big Georgette Heyer  fan!). If I had a catered meal coming in I would be going for a roast with all the trimmings, even a good old Yorkshire pudding. For dessert, I’m thinking sticky-date pudding. Mmmmmm!

public domain.  Author's Note: all the photos I found online for 
Sticky Date Pudding 
were from Australian Sources!
Katie, besides doubling as Jane Austen... if you could wiggle your nose and be in a new job, position or career, what would it be?

I actually have a good friend who is living my dream life in the UK. She lives in the grounds at Windsor Castle (because her husband is a lay clerk [professional chorister] at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle) and works as a free-lance professional singer (classical), travelling the UK and Europe
singing the most magnificent music of the last 500+ years in the most 
magnificent places. If a wiggle of the nose was all it took to get that kind of job, then I’m there! (She’ll tell you it’s much harder than that!)

What piece of advice would you offer authors who are just starting out?

Oh, that’s a good question, and I’m going to assume you’re already working on honing your craft. ;-) Just getting your name out there can feel like such an uphill struggle when you’re starting out, whether you’re publishing independently or trying to get that first contract. I’m not sure whether this would be the same for authors in the general market, but for those writing for the Christian market, I would say get involved in the author/blogger/reader community—and I don’t mean advertising yourself. Join Facebook groups, visit book review blogs, comment and interact. Build
up relationships, and you will have an amazing network of people who can support you, answer questions, and point you in the right direction when you’re feeling lost and overwhelmed.

I absolutely agree. I would have quit long ago if it wasn't for my blog-mates helping me along as we all went from barely published to so busy we barely have time to blog! 

Pixabay Free.
Any advice for those readers who are considering becoming reviewers?

I’d love it if all readers became reviewers! You don’t have to have a blog to review books, and authors really rely on those reviews for visibility, particularly on Amazon. Other than actually buying the book, it’s probably the single most important way you can support them. It doesn’t have to be a long review. Just share what you enjoyed or didn’t enjoy about the book—politely in the latter situation!

If you’re thinking about setting up a blog, get involved in the author/reader/blogger community. (Hmm… that advice sounds familiar… J ) Facebook groups are great for. Visit other book bloggers and interact on their pages. Get a feel for what sort of things readers respond to. But above all, be yourself. Bring something uniquely you to your blog.

Oh. And learn how to say ‘no’, even when it almost kills you. Because at some point you will find the number of books you want to review exceeds the time you have available. I guarantee it!

I'll second that! Due to the dreaded algorithm structure at Amazon, reviews are sometimes more important than sales. For additional bits of wisdom from book bloggers, check out my other guests at Debra's webpage and click on the Book Bloggers menu! 

For any reviewers who would like to start out small (ha ha), I'm happy to help. Yes, without shame, I will always be courting reviews and reviewers. Contact me at Debra (at) Or here in comments!  I'm offering a giveaway of Saguaro Sunset -ebook or paperback to one reader/reviewer!

Thanks so much for indulging my nosiness, Katie! You have such a great blog and you are much appreciated!