Friday, February 22, 2019

Eliza Gordon Interview @eliza_gordon #amreading #amjoy

Eliza Gordon is with us today.  Eliza  a writer, editor, mom/wife, and bibliophile. Eliza writes
light, fun-filled stories to help you believe in the Happily Ever After; Jennifer Sommersby, her other self, writes YA and is repped by Victoria Doherty-Munro at Writers House.

Eliza, what inspired you to write Dear Dwayne, With Love?

Mmm, Dwayne Johnson, of course! LOL … no, seriously, though, I’d have to say that the book was born after my own experiences with trying to get my butt in gear. Because my job is rather sedentary and I’m not an outdoorsy adventurous type (a travesty considering I live in a beautiful province where outdoorsy adventure is just outside my door!), I developed Baker’s cysts behind my knees. They’re annoying and can make working long hours rather uncomfortable, so my doctor said the best way to treat them was to GET ACTIVE. For Mother’s Day 2015, my kids and husband bought me three sessions with a personal trainer—yes, this was a welcome gift!—and I hit the gym. I still work with my awesome trainer, Shelly, now three years later, whenever my workout routine needs refreshing. (Plus she’s become a dear friend, so it’s nice to have an inspiring, positive cheerleader in your corner.) For folks getting into exercise for the first time or after a long time away, I can’t recommend enough the importance of hiring someone who knows that they’re doing. Prevent injury! Save your knees!

During the subsequent year to 18 months, Shelly and I worked together regularly, and I began to see major changes in my fitness profile.
Every time I would add more weight to a lift or master a new skill, I would joke that I should tweet my buddy Dwayne Johnson and let him know how awesome I’m doing. 

That’s how the idea for the book was born. If Dwayne inspires me to work harder and not give up when I’m wanting to curl up and take a nap on the gym mats, then maybe he would be able to provide the same inspiration for others via Dear Dwayne, With Love. With a little help from Dani and Miraculously Beautiful Marco, of course.

If you could live as a character in any one of your novels for a day, which one would it be and why?
I’d spend a day as Dani because hanging out with Marco would be awesome. OR I would wait until it was race day and then I could see Dwayne Johnson in real life! Ahhhh! I’d faint! Otherwise—I’d be Hollie Porter. She lives on a gorgeous island off the coast of British Columbia and teaches kids about otters and sea life, and her hunk of a man, Concierge Ryan … yeah, I could spend some time as Hollie, I think. *wink*

Did you research Dwayne Johnson so that your fictional character could be close to the real Dwayne?

I did a TON of research on Dwayne. I even watched wrestling for the first time—spent lots of time on YouTube and on the wrestling wikis online getting the tiniest details right. I watched every film he’s done, including the most recent, Skyscraper; I read every book I could find on him, and there are a surprising number in the kids’ department at the bookstore (LOL). I watched Ballers, his HBO show, as well as every interview I could find with him (the Oprah Master Class interview is terrific, as is every film junket setup with Kevin Hart, and oh, the Under Armour stuff—he’s their spokesperson—I’ve spent a lot of money on Under Armour in the last few years as a result). I regularly purchase the fitness magazines that profile him and talk about his workout routine; I follow him on all social media platforms, though he’s definitely best on Instagram; and I follow what he’s doing via IMDB Pro.

I’m pretty intense when it comes to research, but I draw the line at prying into his family life. I made sure that I included information that was available via public channels, i.e., I didn’t go past the line that would otherwise be considered appropriate. Even a public figure needs privacy.

Bottom line, though, I just didn’t want to get him wrong. Readers would certainly let me know if I did! We had to get permission from his legal team to use him in the book, so I needed to make sure that the details were completely accurate and not at all disparaging. I think I got his voice down—at least that’s what readers have told me. I would love to meet him in real life one day—he was up here in BC filming Skyscraper last year and a lot of people stalked the set to see if they could get a hello, but I was chicken. Actors and crew are there to work, and they don’t need me hanging around for a photo op. I am still sorta kicking myself about that …

Recently I’ve been struggling with writer’s block. What strategies do you use to help with writer’s block?

Writer’s block sucks. Like so many things in life, the only way through it is through it. When I’m stuck, I spend time reading and watching movies to give my brain a chance to rest. I will also start writing something else—something as simple as a letter to a friend—just to take the pressure off. Take up a different form of art completely—drawing, sculpting, or even painting those silly plaster Christmas ornaments the craft stores sell every year. Or, go to the gym! Get outside! Get some fresh air and let your brain have a moment to resituate itself to the writing task at hand.

Another approach that sometimes works is skipping to a different part of the story and trying to come in through a back door where you’re not feeling the pressure to get that next scene perfect. Or start writing something completely new! Sometimes our internal editor is blocking us from putting new words on the page because there is something fundamentally out of place with the current story, whether it be weak characters or shoddy structure or a flimsy plot. Sometimes a block can happen when your subconscious is trying to tell you, “Hey, this isn’t working. Take a step back for a second.” As hokey as that sounds, I truly believe it, and a little distance can bring clarity.

Last question Eliza, have you given any thought to writing a series?

You know, I have. I’d love to write a series along the lines of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series—something where the characters are well loved by readers and the comedy is terrific. I don’t have a lot of experience with writing series, though my young adult novel, Sleight, which came out in April under my real name, is a duology (two books), and I’m currently revising the sequel (comes out fall 2019). It’s a ton of work because it’s a huge story, but for the Eliza Gordon books, a series could be fun.

Must Love Otters wasn’t supposed to be a series, but people asked for a sequel, so I wrote Hollie Porter Builds a Raft. Folks have asked for a third book, but since Raft came out in 2015, I think there are just too many years in between books to make it work. I’m currently toying with a spin-off to Must Love Otters with a new character as well as early plotting for a series about an undercover journalist whose personal life is a gong show. We’ll see if I can pull it off. I have three other Eliza books in the early stages, but they’re all standalones, so it’ll be a real feat if I can write a series and actually make it work. I have mad respect for writers who can write five, ten, or more books in a single story vein. Impressive!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Jonas Salzgeber @NJlifehacks #amreading #amjoy

Jonas Salzgeber is with me today to discuss his new book. Jonas is the author of The Little Book of Stoicism and blogs for a small army of remarkable people at He’s an expert in Stoic philosophy and passionate about self-made dark chocolate and buttered coffee with collagen.

Jonas, what makes your work special?
I’ll tell you something about the four luminaries whose works build the foundation of Stoicism: Seneca, Musonius Rufus, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius. It’s said that over a thousand books had been written on Stoic philosophy but only a handful survived—mainly the ones from these four Roman Stoics.
Luckily, these brilliant (but also flawed) men did not live in caves somewhere in the mountains, but all of them were fully engaged in society and worked hard to make the world a better place. In the book, you’ll meet an incredible wealthy playwright and equivalent of the modern-day entrepreneur, an early feminist, and a crippled slave who should become teacher and the main influence of the Stoic Roman Emperor and mightiest person in the world.
If you could drop in on a book you read as a kid which book is it?
I didn’t read many books as a child. I only discovered reading as a young adult. I do remember enjoying the novel The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera. The Maori girl Kahu communicates with dolphins and whales – would be great to drop in there.


What was the hardest thing about writing your current book?
My inner resistance monster holding me back. It took perseverance and strength accepting this daily fight with my inner resistance.
What were you like in high school?
Good grades came easy. So I had a lot of time to spend with sports and friends. We had an amazing class and I was grateful being able to enjoy quality time with classmates. I wasn’t eccentric and was on good terms with everybody. I tried to support the mobbed, helped the struggling getting better grades, and was always in for leisure time events.
Do you find feedback from writers’ critiques helpful?

Absolutely. I want to improve my writing, so honest feedback is always helpful.

Reach Jonas at the links below:

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Sunday Post And Stacking the Shelves #amreading #amjoy @kimbacaffeinate

Sunday Post @kimbacaffeinate #amreading #amjoy

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted  @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things  received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme


Happy late GALentine’s day! Today I'm doing the first combined blog hop, Stacking the Shelves and Sunday post and info. can be found above.

I had my Young adult play,Oh Brother, read at the Playwright center by actors. There's a little snippet from the playwright below. It was nice hearing different voices behind my work and I got a lot of feedback.   I wasn’t able to get out a lot because of the snow which was a bummer. I started reading this book called “A Window Opens” by Elisabeth Egan.  It’s about about this woman, whose husband is a lawyer and lost his job, and the wife has to become the bread winner.  She’s stalked on Twitter by a bookseller who wants her to sell ebooks instead of hard cover or paperbacks. So she goes back and forth about her morals and selling out to the big ebook traders.   I like this book, it doesn’t have the soulful, literary feel of other books I’ve read recently. Books like Touch, Neon in the Daylight, and The Answers, but it does have intrigue and I like  characters who are lawyers because their work seems so intense and continuous. I’m also reading a thriller called “An Anonymous Girl’ which has great potential.

I’m also in a race against time, with Google, to get all of my documents in a safe place before Google removes things ,Google plus (which I've already lost every single comment that I've received on my blog). I learned how to download my photos from the Take Out option, and then I saved them to a flash drive. I thought I could save a lot of the photos to Flikr, but no such luck.  I don’t have a lot of free space left on there, and will only be able to save 700 more photos on there. I’ve been syncing my photos from my android phone to google photos since 2008 when I got my first smart phone so I’ve got a lot of photos to save. If you guys have any idea or know anything that I don't know, shoot me a comment below.
I hope you guys have a great week and read some good books if you have time.
Tell me about the books you read in the comments below.


Reading:  Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey, A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan, The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, An Anonymous Girl By Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen


Watching:The Masked Singer 


Sunday: The Sunday Post

Up Coming:
Interview with Writer
snippet from my playwright
Zion:Where were you?  You're late!
(Amelia shuffles behind Zion to the clubhouse. She holds up her hand in oath style before reaching a fence.)
AMELIA:I shall not let any of the words I hear today pass outside of our weekly meetings.
(Zion nods and opens a gate.  Amelia goes up the porch stairs and Zion follows. )
(Trish is seated at a table, her hands together in prayer fashion, her mouth twisted in a clownish grin)
(Amelia takes a seat and Melanie sits next to her)
Zion:(pounds his hand on the table to get everyone’s attention).  I call this meeting to order to address a new member of the Radtke home.
(Everyone nods)
TRISH:And who is this newest person?

(Trish looks at Zion.)

Readers if you want to comment, please do so below.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Book Fair New York #amreading #amjoy

Hop on over to Kotobee's blog,( learn about the International book fairs that will be happening in 2019.  I listed the details for the one in New York below:

From March 7-10, 2019 book lovers will find a fascinating treasure trove at the Park Avenue Armory. Over 200 American and international dealers will exhibit at The ABAA New York International Antiquarian Book Fair, bringing a vast selection of rare books, maps, manuscripts, illuminated manuscripts and ephemera. The diversity of specialties includes art, medicine, literature, photography, autographs, first editions, Americana, and much more.

This book fair is officially sanctioned by the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers. This means that the consumer can rely upon the experience and professionalism of participating dealers and the authenticity of the items available for purchase. Simply stated, all books, manuscripts and related material have been carefully examined for completeness and bibliographic accuracy.

Produced by Sanford L. Smith + Associates

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Sunday Post #amreading #amjoy

Sunday Post @kimbacaffeinate #amreading #amjoy

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted  @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things  received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme


My brother(above) with the snow blower.
This week it snowed all over again.  When you live in Minnesota, every snow is your first, even though you’ve been through so many winters.  Every year seems to have a different impact. One year, I remember my car had to be jumped, three times. Another year the snow reached higher than my head 😄and I had to get to an appointment but I got stuck in the alley and there were dozens of my neighbors trying to help shovel out the snow because they knew the plows wouldn’t get out there fast enough.  

One year, there were icecles on every tree branch and every surface it seemed. One year, my car got stuck on the 169 bridge and it started slipping downward. and if it had slipped anymore it would have been greeted by a hundred cars that were all backed up-waiting to go over the bridge.


Reading:  The Spite Game by Anna Snoekstra, The Adults by Caroline Hulse, The Answers by Catherine Lacey,The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, The Ghost Notebooks by Ben Dolnick,The Only Story by Julian Barnes, The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose, Touch by Courtney Maum, Sunburn by Laura Lippman

Listening: Listening Haunted nights by Ellen Datlow, All Aunt Hagar’s Children by Edward P. Jones, The Heart goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Watching:Nothing this week 


Sunday: The Sunday Post

Up Coming:
Interview with Writer

Readers if you want to comment, please do so below.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Brittni Chenille #amreading #amjoy

Britti Chenille is with me this morning to talk about herself and her new book.


 1. She lives in South Korea. It's true. She does most of her updates in the morning or at night to account for the time difference. She also infuses most of her novels with her observations about Korean culture. 
 2. She's a Type 1 Diabetic. She uses an insulin pump for survival and refers to her diabetes as "Beetie" which is what inspired her children's book "Life with Beetie". When she wants something from her parents she tells them, "My Beetie hurts." It's a trick that has never failed her. 
 3. She doesn't really BELIEVE in fiction. Despite all the; Dragons, Elves, and Magic present in her novel "Involuted the Tale of the Red Ribbon Tree", Brittni INSISTS that it's a true story. 
 4. She's OBSESSED with dark chocolate. She made me put that in and would also like me to inform you (on an unrelated note) that her birthday is in May.
5. Sorry guys, she's married. If you ask her, she'll tell you her husband saved her life but every time someone asks "how?" she gives a different reason. I've overheard her give about 4 different reasons, but I bet she has more. He must be an amazing guy.

What makes your main character special?
 She has no idea who she is or what she is capable of. Her sense of self is earned throughout the trials she faces. Her first impressions of every character she encounters is wrong and that goes for her impression of herself. 

If you could drop in on a book you read as a kid which book is it?

 Harry Potter. They could use a bit of diversity at Hogwarts. 

What is the hardest thing about writing your current book?

 Crippling self-doubt. 

What were you like in high school?
In high school, I was a barrel of contradictions. I was the captain of the varsity basketball team but hung out with the "goth" kids. I admired the theater kids most of all. I never felt like I really belonged anywhere as most kids feel at that age. 


Do you find feedback from writers’ critiques helpful?
ABSOLUTELY. Critiques are amazingly helpful. I definitely learn and grow from criticism. It's one of the reason editing is my favorite step in the process, HOWEVER, that doesn't mean I don't cry myself to sleep whenever I get a bad review. ;) 

Book trailer (above)

Links to reach Brittni:


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Sue Seabury #amreading #amjoy

Sue Seabury is here with me to talk about her newest novel, Pop Goes the Weasel.  Sue enjoys writing, reading,chocolate and her kids, although not always in that order. For some reason she lives near Baltimore, where she divides her time between her desk and the kitchen. Sue's newest novel Pop Goes the Weasel is available Free, for a limited time only: May 17, 2019 on Amazon.  So please click This and I do not Love Thee Dr. Fell is also available from May 17-19 check it out by clicking on This

Sue, what are your ambitions for your writing career?
To hit the top of the New York Times best-seller list and stay there for long enough to buy a private island, of course. 
I once had dreams of getting on the Oprah show, but that's off the air, so then I thought, maybe Letterman would be charmed by my rapier wit, but then he retired. In case there's a conspiracy afoot, I won't mention my next hopeful, but her name rhymes with 'Melon DeVeneris.'

Which writers inspire you?
I'm an omnivore when it comes to reading. I love fiction, non-, memoir, you name it, so: Erma Bombeck, Dave Barry, Christopher Moore, Mary Roach, Agatha Christie, Nora Ephron, Jane Austen, Alan Bradley, Helen Fielding...So many, it's hard to know where to stop.

Where did you get the idea for your latest novel?
I went on vacation to Maine and the town was so darned cute with its overflowing window boxes and cedar-shingled houses, I just had to turn it into a crime scene. I also miss Murder, She Wrote, and I think it's time someone brings it back. I'm willing to take the starring role. I've got a bike. I just need a cute wicker basket to stick on the front and then I'm ready to go.

What drew you to write in this genre?
I love a good murder mystery but never thought I was smart enough to write one. But then I said to myself, Self, what kind of self-limiting trash talk is that? And so I gave it a shot. It's even harder than I originally thought.

How much research do you do?
Tons. Google is my best friend. Sometimes he lies, but that just keeps things interesting.

Last question Sue, what is your editing process?
What editing? I use Jessica Fletcher's method of tapping it out in my spare time on an old-fashioned typewriter and then just handing off the first draft to the publisher. 

Seriously, I go through 3 distinct phases:
1) Exhilaration. This phase lasts from the moment I type the words 'The End' to when I start rereading from the beginning, then it quickly moves to phase II which is:
2) Despair. Hair-pulling and crying are usually involved. Phase II can last for months or years. At some point, either when I'm cried out and/or bald, I can advance to the final phase:
3) Teeth-gritting. Get it done at any cost, including a broken neck (feels like).

Thanks for joining us Sue.  

More about Sue:

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Sunday Post

Sunday Post @kimbacaffeinate #amreading #amjoy

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted  @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things  received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme

           LOOKING FORWARD TO February

This week has been incredibly cold. ⛸🍨❄⛄🏔 Schools were closed throughout Minnesota.  In Princeton, they were sending their residents to hotels with the promise of a space heater. There was an increase in Uber rides and I picked up a good dozen people this week.  And saw a few on the side of the road in a need of a jump. I remember driving one person from Minneapolis to Maplewood and I got the campus sized tour of 3M.
 It’s crazy how the cold brings people together.  In our building, talks of the weather was the norm as residents gazed outside with weary faces.  
I managed to get out one night and stay at the Holidayinn, (Eagan) and soaked in the hot tub where the only sounds from the outdoors was wind and planes taking off every ten or so minutes.
Lastly, I went to an art exhibit last night with a group of friends and we got all dolled up and it had feminist art at place called Artbox .

Readers, if you enjoyed the holidays or got an interesting gift, let me know in the comments below.


Reading:  The Pisces by Melissa Broder, Red Clocks by Leni Zumas


Watching: The Crown (on Netflix)


Sunday: The Sunday Post

Up Coming:
Interview with Writer

Readers if you want to comment, please do so below.


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