Hobbies with Sherry Perkins

First, tell us what your hobbies are.

 I like to think of myself as a Renaissance Lady, with interests in many things but my go-to hobbies are collecting sea glass and seashells, organic gardening, and following the Dave Matthews Band around the East Coast.

Cool hobbies! How did you get interested in them?

I come from a family where learning, especially life-long learning, is important. Reading, hand-on participation, asking questions, storytelling and skill sharing, no matter what your age, was a big deal. It was considered a waste of your time and life if you weren’t interested and learning.

How did you learn to do them?

The seashell and sea glass bit, that was a natural outgrowth of my love for the seaside. I began collecting all sorts of organic things (think fossils) and detritus. Then, I set about learning what those things were scientifically. The intricacies of shells, ocean ecosystems and how the broken pieces of tumbled glass came to rest on that particular beach were fascinating to me as a young girl. Dave Matthews Band? That’s a mystery. Except I love the words to the songs. The melody, harmony and palpable connection between the band and audience certainly was appealing to me—if not personally meaningful.

Do you prefer some hobbies to others, or does it depend on your mood?

Not really. If I’m on the beach, I’m in the mood for shell and sea glass collecting. Every day, I try to go out to do something in the garden, even if it’s only to walk around it. I generally listen to the Dave Matthews Band when I’m in the garden, the car or when I need some background noise or inspiration while writing.

What do you do with the things you make?

I’m not making things with my hobbies per se, except, I suppose, for gardening. I do cook with the fruits and veg—or sometimes preserve, dry or freeze it for later use. I save seeds to replant or share. But I also have a flower garden. I like to do cut flowers or dried arrangements or even paint watercolors or take photograph the flowers and garden as still life.

I know a lot of people who collect sea glass have “secret” places where they find good sea glass. Do you have a spot like that?

I do. But it’s a secret. No, West Onslow Beach in North Carolina, and the East Strand in Portrush, Northern Ireland, are particularly good spots.

My husband has been to Portrush and loves it there.

Portrush was probably the best vacation I’ve ever had. The scenery was fantastic. Everyone I met was kind and had a story to tell.

Where have you visited following the Dave Matthews Band?

Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina; Bristow, Virginia Beach, and Norfolk, Virginia; Columbia, Maryland; New York; Augusta, Maine. 

Did someone introduce you to gardening, or did you discover it on your own?

My dad is a master organic gardener. So, I grew up learning how to garden, save heirloom seeds, companion plant and compost. When he began organic gardening, it was to supplement our family diet, and because he felt a stewardship with the land.

What special equipment do you need as a gardener?

I’m always looking for things that will make the experience easier on my hands and back. You don’t necessarily need any special equipment but if you have cheap tools, they’ll break or do a poor job. Invest in what you can afford. Take care of it with routine cleaning, sharpening, maintenance. Try to find tools that are multi-taskers. Make sure they fit your reach—garden tools do come with handles that fit your ability, height, and size. For instance, if you get a rake meant for someone tall, you’ll have a sore back and arms because of its disproportionate reach! It’s ok to take a stool or sturdy bucket into the garden to sit while you plant, weed or harvest. No need to stand or crawl. 

Is there any hobby you’ve tried to do but either didn’t like it or it just didn’t work out?

Once upon a time, I used to like to powerwalk…but I don’t think that counts, lol. I did try making poppet dolls as a hobby for a while. I had great fun with them but it was very time consuming, so I put those on the backshelf (I used to stuff them with herbs from the garden for good luck. I probably should have mentioned that in the section about “what do you make” because it was enjoyable and relaxing for me and the people who bought them)…

Now tell us about your latest writing news…

Several of my books were nominated for Best Book at the Paranormal Romance Guild 2020 Reviewers Choice Awards.

Congratulations! I want to know more about These are for Tears and A Girl and Her Dog.

These are for Tears was nominated for Romance/Fantasy/Paranormal/Suspense/Time Travel/Historical/Magical/Western/Native American/ Gothic BOOK OF THE YEAR and the series that it comes from (The Will-‘o-the-Wisp Stories) is nominated for the same category but SERIES OF THE YEAR.

A Girl and Her Dog placed second in the BEST NOVELLA OR SHORT STORY category.

Congratulations! That’s fantastic. 


Thanks very much for sharing your hobbies and your writing with us, Sherry. This has been a fun post, and the photos are wonderful!

Until next time,

Amy

Hobbies with Bob Spearman

In this second installment of hobbies shared by readers, I’d like to introduce you to Bob Spearman, fellow mystery writer and avid hobbyist. Bob likes to golf, beach-walk, play and collect guitars, make stained glass, and camp.

Whew. It makes me tired just writing that.

Instead of me asking Bob questions, he graciously provided me with some anecdotes about his hobbies, so I’ll share them below. He also provided photos, which are great fun. I think you’ll enjoy this.

Before we get to that, though, I want to tell you about a book Bob has coming out. I’ve read Bob’s other books and they’re very good. I’ve read an early version of the new book, Then She Was Dead, and I really enjoyed it.

Here’s a quick blurb:

Software genius, Tom Santos, wakes up in a hotel room next to a dead woman. He remembers nothing from the night before. In two hours, he is scheduled to give the product presentation of his life.

His performance might determine the success of his startup company, financial freedom for his family, and the award of a government contract valued at more than 3 billion dollars. What to do next? Run from the room or call the police. The moral dilemma haunts him.

Sinister international forces work to steal Tom’s new quantum-based security software. He becomes the prime suspect until other people start to die. And just when the police think they have solved the mystery, captured the killer, and closed the case, a twist will come that takes you back to the start.

Take it away, Bob!

Golf

Walking on the golf course keeps me healthy and gives me quiet time to think about story lines for writing. If you know a golfer, you know that most of them like to tell you about their game. If you make that mistake of a cordial comment, like, “How was your golf match?” You expect an answer like, “Okay.” Or “It was fun.”

But no, that never happens. Any true golfer will go into a detailed recap of how they almost made a certain putt, or they hit this huge drive down the middle, or they won the bet, or blah, blah, blah. The harsh reality for golfers is that few people want to hear about their golf game, so, I won’t dwell on this topic or how my handicap is dropping even as I get older, that’s for another story.

A moose joins Bob on the golf course

***

Beach Walking

We live at the beach on an island. Even in the winter, I put on my headphones, select a good audio book, and walk. I’m currently listening to Outlander. Typically, I stroll four to five miles each day, ending with a few pictures of the sunset on the west shore of our island or a herd of deer on our golf course. Walking is less interesting than golf, so I should probably proceed to more entertaining topics before your audience falls asleep.

Doesn’t this look relaxing?

***

Guitars

When I was twelve, my parents bought me a guitar and amplifier for Christmas. God bless their merry souls, we were a family of nine living in small house. You can imagine the ear-splitting squeals when I cranked the amp up and scraped a pick across the strings, all while my five brothers and one sister raced around the house playing with their toys.  Ah, good times on Christmas morning.

Given a little time with a basic guitar instruction book, I taught myself to play a few chords, and with more time, a simple song or two. I discovered that I could listen to others playing on the record player and be able to play along. Now that I can play music, I hate the formal training process. I’ve purchased the guitar theory and music theory books and videos but can’t get passed the first lesson. I’d rather just play.

My first and only live performance was with a group of college buddies that joined together to play in a college talent show. Five thousand people attended. Talk about going from zero to warp speed. I suppose the stodgy professors judging the contest didn’t recognize the genius of our music because we didn’t win the event. However, to our joy, the college students in the audience gave us a standing ovation and that seemed to make the effort worth it.

My parents attended the event. Maybe they wanted to see if their ancient investment had paid any dividends. After our performance, I took my guitar and went into the audience to sit with my parents. My dad took the guitar and put it his lap and strummed the strings a few times. He looked at me and said, “I didn’t know you could play.”

I thought, “dah,” maybe all those years he had been using a good set of earplugs.

A few years later, married with two kids, a time came when I finally had enough money to consider a new guitar, a real, big-name, quality guitar. I told my wife that it was time. It would be my Christmas present: a beautiful sunburst Charvel electric guitar with a pearl pick guard and lipstick tube pickups. Insert Tim ‘Tooltime’ Taylor sound here. If you don’t know Tim, never mind, not important.

Committed to make this purchase, I strolled into a music store, looked up at a full wall of guitars. I fell in love immediately. This guitar stood out like a bright light on a dark night, sparkling, calling my name. With my resistance down, I bought it along with a complementary Fender amplifier big enough for playing in medium sized arenas just in case I was recruited to play in another talent show. My kids said that I played too loud. I told them they were too old. I’ve only played this guitar in the house but just in case the Stones or John Mellencamp need another guitar player, I’m ready.

Since that second Christmas guitar, I’ve purchased a limited edition Fender Stratocaster, a limited addition Epiphone (Gibson) Les Paul Custom, and four acoustic guitars. I consider each guitar a work of art; each produces a different sound. The guitars all hang from the walls of my office or sit on a guitar stand for easy access throughout my house.

I have augmented the guitars with harmonicas. With a neck yoke, you can play the guitar and the harmonica at the same time. Or I hand out a tambourine and harmonicas to my grandkids and let them play along.

I’ve got a couple of favorite songs memorized so I don’t require sheet music to play: “Little Pink Houses” by John Cougar Mellencamp, “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” by Tom Petty, and “Road House Blues” by the Doors.  The harmonica sounds sweet with each one of those tunes so I can adlib to my heat’s content. Probably my favorite guitar player, my idol I should say, is or was Stevie Ray Vaughn. Unfortunately, the good, they die young.

Sometimes I play for my grandkids, they dance or play along, but my wife is my primary audience. Before retirement, some days I would come home from work and sing the happenings of the day to my wife. If bad things happened, I would use sad chords and happy chords for happy things. It was a better way of getting the hassles of the day off of my chest versus grabbing a beer and complaining half the night. Even though my singing is not up there with Elvis or Frank Sanatra, I think she appreciated my light-hearted approach to personal therapy.

Every now and then, when I least expect it, a jam session magically appears by happenstance. I’ve enjoyed those at family gatherings, guitar stores, and campfires. I love those spontaneous occasions.

My most recent acquisition is a new type of amplifier that connects via Bluetooth and an application on my iPhone. With this device, one can assign the beat, play a few chords, and then the amp will provide a background band with drums, bass, and other appropriate instruments allowing me to play lead and compose my own songs. The amp will also generate different background tracks for different genres of music like a blues track or a rock track. The amp has about a million features for adjustment of sounds and music creation. I’m using it like most people use their brains, at 10% or less.

A couple shots from Bob’s man cave

***

Stained Glass

In the late 1970’s, I decided I wanted to add stained glass windows to our new house. As you may know, stained glass windows are terribly expensive. I quickly discovered why. Besides the art and craft skills required, the work is time consuming and the glass, the quality hand-blown glass is expensive.

Being an Electrical Engineer, I knew the basics of soldering for electronics and thought, ‘how hard can it be.’ I went to a small shop in Atlanta and picked up some supplies. I soon learned to cut glass fit it into lead channels and created some small, boring pieces, but nothing worthy of mounting in the windows of our house.

I set up a shop in our garage and worked to perfect my techniques. About six months later, I invested in the small glass shop with the original owner and another fellow. We expanded, bought some serious supplies of stained glass and started teaching others the craft. We made a very little bit of money, enough to fund our stained glass addiction and keep the shop open. As I taught others, I learned more about different types of glass and how to work with soldering techniques and glass structure.

In the process, I also learned how to work with etched glass; the type you might find in restaurant windows or as standalone art. We started a class in that art as well. Etched glass, the best etched glass art, is performed with a thick piece of clear glass and a sand blasting machine. The work is strenuous, hot, and can be dangerous due to the potential of breathing in microscopic particles of sand and glass.

Soon, people were purchasing my work for their homes. I joined the Stained Glass Art Guild in Atlanta and met some really famous artists in this field who lived in the Atlanta area. These people had studied world-wide with Monks, in old European churches, and under masters who had learned the art with techniques passed down through centuries of the art. It was truly a unique group of people, or I should say artists.

As I learned more about these people, I felt like a fraud, or a pretender for even being at these meetings, but I was learning. The greatest thrill came at a guild meeting, where they had asked me to show a piece that I had done using a copper foil technique to join the glass. Most people use an H-shaped lead strip to join the glass with solder at the joints. Copper foil requires a strip of copper to be wrapped around each piece of glass and a bead of solder left in a rounded bead. The glass cutting tolerance is much more significant and the solder technique is difficult. Hot solder flows like water so one must have a certain touch.

One of the masters told me that he really admired the work and the technique with the copper foil. He then asked for advice on how to accomplish a few of the details. For the first time with that group, I felt somewhat confirmed.

In my latest works, I’ve gone for the art more than just building a window to a pattern. Picking the right colors that blend properly, using jewels or other items inlaid into the window is also fun.

We have most of the special tools now: a diamond tipped router, carbide glass cutters, lead stretchers, copper foil tools, soldering irons with rheostats for temperature control, pliers to help snap difficult hard glass, patina solutions, and more.

Most people don’t appreciate the amount of work, the hours, or the material cost for a quality window. The process is probably akin to writing; unless you have gone through the process to create a novel or a stained glass window, you might not appreciate the effort required to produce a quality piece.

I taught my wife how to do the work and she has become quite handy. Now some, 40 years later, she has probably created more pieces than I have. We have had stained glass in all of our homes since then and we often make a window for a friend or someone in the family. It’s a hobby. Making a living at this art is ‘no place for the weary kind.’

***

Camping

I’m an Eagle Scout from a family that loved camping. I’ve camped outdoors with only a tarp over my head, tents, pop-up campers, and now we have a thirty-five foot 5th Wheel. Most people tend to go larger over time. Especially, if you go camping for two years and your camper becomes your home.

My wife and I got married in the late ‘70’s. As a young engineer, I traveled with the Federal Aviation Administration installing air traffic control towers. I was on the road 100%. After two weeks of leaving my young bride in a hotel room all day, we decided to change the situation and bought a 28-foot camper.

We were the rare, pink-cheeked, young couple at campgrounds inhabited primarily by retirees as we traveled around the southeast. For almost a year, we lived the RV life. We learned a lot about the art of finding a campsite and how to set up camp with sewer hoses, water hoses, LP gas, etc. One day, we discovery that our first child would be born in a few months and that put an end to our blissful life on the road.

Later in life, with two kids, we went camping in tents. Hiking, cooking outdoors, cooking under the coals of a campfire, and telling ghost stories are all good memories, at least for me. I tried to teach my kids about nature and how to survive in the woods with the simple things.

In 2018, when I decided to retire from engineering, my wife and I worked on the idea of a dream to travel the United States and see the wonders offered in this great land. We sold our house, put many of our belongings in a storage facility, bought a 5th Wheel and hit the road.

Except it wasn’t quite that simple. If you are not familiar, a 5th Wheel trailer requires a large truck to pull it. 5th Wheels are the very large trailers you likely see on the highways that connect in the bed of the truck, not on a trailer hitch.

With our first trailer, we found out quickly that a car will not pull a large trailer up a mountain. We had to buy a vehicle capable at that time. So, this time, I was going to start out correctly, I was going to make sure we had the beef to pull us around the country. We bought an F250 Ford diesel pickup, a beast with enough power to pull two of what we were buying.

Actually, we were going to purchase a pull behind trailer, one like the one that we had lived in as newly-weds. We had convinced ourselves that the huge 5th Wheels we had seen on the Interstates were just too big. We had searched the camping trailer lots in our area for over a year and had decided on one particular pull-behind trailer. We went to purchase it, I was in the final negotiations, my wife was wandering the trailer lot, and she calls to me, “Wait a minute. I think I’ve changed my mind.” She was beaming and standing in the doorway of what would become our 5th Wheel trailer.

Now, with the change of plans, I had to get a hitch installed in the bed of my brand new truck. I felt like I was taking my baby to surgery. It was painful but necessary. We got this fancy super glide hitch that slides back and forth as you turn so the trailer will not attack the rear cab of the truck. This issue is quite prevalent, and we meant to avoid it.

There is one little problem with connecting and disconnecting the trailer to this fancy hitch; you must have the trailer at just the right height, with just the right amount of pressure on the hitch or it will not disconnect. This stubborn hitch can be quite inconvenient at a campsite late at night. But we learned, as a team to solve the problem; me in the truck putting forward and then backward pressure on the hitch, my wife standing on a small stool pulling on the hitch release until she shouts out, “Got it.” Sounds a little more dangerous than it really is, or what we thought it was.

Before we sold our house, we took our first trial-run camping trip to Myrtle Beach State Park. Blissfully uninformed, we arrive at our site at dusk, no flashlight, little training, but with a desire to start our days on the road. There was only one site left and it was difficult to back the trailer into the narrow space.

Many campgrounds are like this one. Small one-lane roads, trees, cars, other campers, and I had over 45 feet of truck and trailer to maneuver. If you watch the movie RV with Robin Williams, you will see that other campers are typically helpful in the process of other campers as they move in, set up, or depart.

On the second approach to turn into our site, we quickly drew a crowd of well-intended gawkers, fatherly figures, a swirling batch of kids, and quasi-experienced campers with a multitude of suggestions. All of them had a dog or two running around in the mix.

The sun was down and darkness engulfed the wooded campground. Other campers moved their cars, their picnic tables, and stood watch over large pine trees that I couldn’t move even with my big diesel truck. Finally, we got the trailer in the site; now for the hitch.

The hitch was persistent in its desire to stay attached to the truck. When we tried to lift it, we had no electricity. One helpful man discovered that the state park power box intended for our trailer had blown a circuit. The previous camper had melted the 50-amp circuit and that’s no easy task. Twenty minutes later a State Park Ranger arrived. An hour later, he had the entire power box replaced. We continued.

Eventually, successfully disconnected, and our utilities partially connected for the night, we were applauded by the large crowd. They went back to their campfires, and we went to our trailer. After two nights, it was time to go home, a week of rain was predicted and we didn’t see that as fun.

As we started to pull out, we noticed the overhanging tree limb. It was a stiff Live Oak, about 8 inches in, and was not moveable. To stir the pot, my wife and I had not perfected all of our signals for “Stop Idiot,” “More to the left,” or any of those things required to maneuver in spaces too small. My shy wife did not yell in time to keep me from getting into a bind almost under the oak limb. If I went forward, there was a chance of brushing the tree limb. If I went backward, I would scrap the front of the truck on a pine tree. We went forward.

As I got out to see the damage, many of the people in the peanut gallery had ceased to speak; most were looking at nothing on ground, kicking the sand around. That’s when the Ranger said, “I should have shut down the one way road and helped you do out that way.” He wanted to pull the words back into his mouth after he saw my look. I replied, “That would have been a good idea about twenty minutes ago.” An uncomfortable silence wafted through the oak trees. An elderly camper patted me on the back and went to the toilet house next door.

The trailer had sustained a rip on the roof about 24 inches long. With nothing to be done but get it fixed before the rains hit, we hauled it back to the dealer. The maintenance man inspected the scar, scratched his scruffy beard, and said, “Can’t patch that, you’ll need a new roof.”

5th Wheels have fabric roofs coated with a beige tar like material. I was disturbed to find out that if you have a significant tear on an edge, the entire roof must be replaced. Four thousand dollars later, I called the insurance company. The lady said, “So, you bought it on Wednesday and you are filing this claim on Saturday?” I asked if there was a better day to file the claim.

The insurance company paid the claim, the trailer was repaired, we sold our house, and hit the trail. We went down to Florida to visit our kids. Then we headed west straight up through Georgia, Tennessee, Iowa, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and eventually back to South Carolina.

This country is blessed with beautiful landscapes that are not located along the Interstates or near towns with four-star resorts. This country is best viewed with a camper on the back of your truck. You must get away from the bright lights, and take the roads less traveled. Many of these roads are well-maintained four lane highways with no traffic.

Yellowstone, Carlsbad, the rocky coast of Oregon, the western wilderness of Montana, Lake Tahoe, the red rocks of Utah, the redwood forest of northern California just to name a few. Some of the locations that I didn’t mention don’t jump out at you. The people who live in some remote ranches and small towns are key. Meeting the people will set you back to contemplate how much we are alike but yet how different we live.

When camping, if you find a town with a Dollar General store, you know that supplies are available and the town might also have cell coverage. If a town has a Walmart, well that’s just the ‘bees-knees.’ You learn to appreciate the little things and how some people live in our country without the convenience of everything you want at the corner store. But in this lonely land, the beauty abounds.

When camping off the beaten path, you will learn about which conversion plug is required to get electricity if it’s available. You learn about where to get water, how much to store in your camper, and you also learn how to get reservations at the next stop. It’s not easy to plot out two months of camping sights. Camping has become so popular, especially near our national parks, that one must reserve a site six months, or sometimes a year in advance.

We did succeed in plotting our way but only with much effort and a large calendar to mark down our days and locations. We also kept a Road Map Atlas with us because, as I said, sometimes we had no cell coverage to get a GPS electronic map.

We found our way back to South Carolina and Edisto Beach campground where you can hear the ocean roar from your camper. We landed at this little paradise just as Covid-19 sunk it claws in our carefree world. Suddenly, campgrounds began to shut down. Noting was available and you have to be somewhere.

We had been looking at the possibility of buying a home at Edisto and Covid cinched the deal. After almost two years on the road, changing locations every three to six days, we were forced to settle down. Our trailer is parked and waiting for our next adventure.

If you are interested in pictures of some of the beautiful locations along our trail, please go to my Face Book page and look at pictures and comments from August 2018 through May 2020. You might also have fun reading a short story about our escape from a grizzly bear in Montana on Booksie.com. https://www.booksie.com/portfolio-view/bob-spearman-269105/page-1

***

Thanks so much for being my guest this week, Bob. This has been fascinating and I love all the photos.

Until next time,

Amy

Interview with Stefanie Gouviea

Several weeks ago I put out a call for readers to share their hobbies with all of us as we all continue to spend more time at home than in previous years. Several people responded with their favorite pastimes, and I’m thrilled to share my interview with reader Stefanie Gouviea.

Welcome, Stefanie!

First, tell us what your hobbies are.

I like to read, paint and make homemade candles.

How did you get interested in them?

I only recently became interested in reading when I learned about the “Cozy Mystery” genre, and now I’m hooked. I became interested in making candles because I like to make things with essential oils and I wanted to make more homemade gifts, so this year I decided to make candles for everyone and I really enjoy it. I became interested in painting because I have attended a few paint nights in the past and found them very therapeutic, but since COVID they’ve been cancelled, so I had to figure out a way to still paint even though I am not a professional artist.

A great way to display tea cups and saucers

How did you learn to do them?

I learned how to make candles through Pinterest (love Pinterest), I reviewed a few different recipes and articles until I found one that resonated with me, then I came up with the idea to make teacup candles and looked up some ideas on Pinterest. The paintings I am doing now I discovered through Facebook events, this artist does live tutorials and records them, or you can just buy the recording and follow along like I did so I could take my time and pause as much as I needed to. This was the first time I’ve ever used a recorded tutorial to paint since my previous experience was in person paint nights.

How long did it take you to become proficient?

I don’t think that I am proficient in painting at this time, but I have added additional tutorials to try and suspect I will get better as I keep practicing. I became more proficient in candle making after making several test candles using different types and amounts of oils. I still don’t add color to them, but they smell good.

Do you have certain times when you prefer to paint and certain times when you prefer to make candles?

Not really, I generally prefer to do them on the weekends because I am too tired to focus during the week at the end of my workday. It breaks up my weekend nicely, especially since we can’t really go anywhere.

What special equipment do you need to paint and make candles?

The tutorials I use for painting only require us to have paints, paint brushes and either a canvas or multimedia paper. The artist teaches you how to mix colors and blend, so you don’t need extra equipment. For candle making you need, wax (I use soy wax flakes), a kitchen scale, essential or fragrance oils if you want them scented, a heat safe measuring cup or tin for candle making (I use a tin), a pot with water (candle making uses a double boiler method), wicks and a candle holder/container. Most wax kits online come with wicks, so I didn’t have to worry about that and you can get creative with the candle holders.

Do you have a favorite painting? Would you be willing to share a photo of it?

I’ve only done two paintings so far, but the one I like the most is titled, “Midnight Snowman” and I will share a picture of it.

Isn’t this adorable??

How about a favorite candle scent/color? Do you have photos you can share?

I don’t add color to mine because I feel like it doesn’t burn right when I do, and I don’t have a favorite scent since I like all of them for the most part, but if I had to choose, I’d say the fruity ones smell the best (strawberry, mango, honeydew melon, cucumber melon). Yes, I can share two pictures of two types of teacup candles I made.

I love the see-through cup.

Does anyone in your family help you with projects?

No, I prefer to do these projects alone. Although, I think my husband is going to do a painting with me one night, so I’m looking forward to that.

Is there any hobby you’ve tried to do but either didn’t like it or it just didn’t work out?

I’ve tried watercolor painting and jewelry making, but I didn’t like either one.


Thanks so much for sharing your interests, Stefanie. It was a pleasure hosting you here this week.

Until next time,

Amy

Working Without Play?

Do you have a hobby?

Something you love to do in your spare time? Something you have a passion for? Something you love to share with other people?

I have lots of hobbies. I know I’ve mentioned here on the blog that I’ve recently taken up quilling, which is the art of paper filigree. I’m still an amateur, but I love to do it and I find it relaxing and a great way to let my mind wander. I also like to do counted cross-stitch, a hobby I’ve had since I was young. And you all know I love to read and cook. I also love to make gift tags.

There are other things I love to do, too, but these are some of my favorite ways to spend free time.

What do you love to do?

I’d love to spotlight some of my readers’ hobbies. Do you paint? Draw? Write poetry? Swim? Do Pilates? Play the ukelele? Do you do some other cool thing that I haven’t even thought of?

This year I’d love to start a series of blog posts about hobbies. We all learned in 2020 that having a hobby not only helped pass the time when we might have been out doing other things, but it could also mean the difference between happiness and depression.

It doesn’t have to be something that costs a cent. It doesn’t have to be something that requires a membership or a bunch of fancy equipment. All that a hobby requires is that it’s something you can do in your spare time that makes you happy.

Once a month, I’d like to write about a reader’s favorite hobby. If you’d like me to interview you, that would be great. If you don’t want me to mention your name but still want to introduce people to your favorite hobby, also great.

My hope is to introduce readers to things they might never have tried.

Will you join me? I’d love to hear from you! Please let me know in the comments below or email me at amymreadeauthor[at]gmail[dot]com and tell me about your favorite things to do!

I’ll leave you with some photos of quilling projects I’ve done since August, when I started the craft.

Until next time,

Amy

Two Readers in the Spotlight Today: Karyne Corum and Jennifer Pero

Today I continue the series of interviews in which I introduce my readers to each other. Since these interviews were completed a few months ago, the books these women have read most recently are out of date, but hopefully they’ll each have time to stop by to update us. Welcome to two readers, Karyne Corum and Jennifer Pero!

Karyne:                                                       Jennifer:

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*I tried to get these pictures to be the same size, but I couldn’t figure it out!*

First question: How often do you read?

KaryneAs often as I can. When I’m working on my manuscript, it tends to be less because I get so sucked into whatever I’m reading that no only will I not do any writing but dishes will go unwashed, clothes will pile up and frankly, family members will starve.

Jennifer: I try to read everyday, it relaxes me and keeps my mind active. I try to be a role model for my children to read everyday (only I don’t have my hubby sign a reading log for me).

What is the name of the last book you finished?

Karyne: The Book of Beloved (Pluto’s Snitch 1) by Carolyn Haines

JenniferDebbie Macomber’s Christmas Wishes

What are you reading now?

KaryneI’m usually dipping in and out of several books at the same time depending on my mood. Currently lined up is The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King, A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught me About Love, Friendship And The Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewics and, to keep up with my ten year old son, Lockwood and Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud.

JenniferActually I teach nursing school and I am reading their textbook, but I did start Danielle Steel’s A Gift of Hope.

What is your preferred genre?

KaryneMystery and Paranormal (as in ghost stories) are my top two favorites, but they run close to Suspense/Thriller.

JenniferFiction, life is too short to read all non-fiction!

How often do you venture outside your preferred genre?

KaryneIf I see a subject or an author that intrigues me, I’m always eager to try something new.

JenniferOccasionally I will if someone recommends a book to me.

What was the last book you read outside your preferred genre?

KaryneThe one I’m reading now, A Jane Austen Education. I’m a huge fan of Austen but normally I’d steer clear of non-fiction books about her because they tend to be dry and often clinical. So far this one as is funny and very clever.

JenniferSecrets of Hallstead House by Amy Reade.

Note from Reade and Write: I think we can all agree this answer gets extra points. 🙂

Are you in a book club?

KaryneNo. I have a hard time finding one where I live and online ones have tended to be very cliquish. If someone knows of a good one, I’d love to hear about it.

JenniferNo, if I had more time, I would enjoy that “me” time.

Where do you obtain most of the books you read- from a bookstore, online, the library, borrowed from a friend, etc.?

KaryneAnywhere and everywhere, from second hand bookstores and Amazon to Biblio.com, which is a used library book recycler. You can get great books for really cheap, but a lot are hard cover so you have to be ready to make that sort of space commitment. I also have the Kindle App on my iPad so I will get some there but I’m more of a paper and ink kind of woman.

JenniferI go to the library often and borrow from my mom or mother-in-law. If I see an interesting book at the book store I will buy it and share with my family.

How do you decide which books to read?

KaryneIf it’s an author I love, I will pretty much read anything by them unless the subject doesn’t grab me. If the synopsis of a book really sounds good and the first couple of pages hook me then it’s going home with me. But I have been known to leap blindly and find a real treasure or a clunker. I’ll also go on recommendations by friends or fellow writers. I’m recommending the heck out of Book of Beloved right now because it was just such a phenomenal book.

JenniferHonestly, the title, if it is inviting, I will give it a shot. I also look at known authors’ work and read that book

What is in your To-Be-Read pile?

KaryneAlong with the books above that I mentioned I also have The Red Dahlia by Lynda La Plante, The Burning Man by Christopher Fowler and Finders Keepers by Stephen King.

JenniferIn my home office on the floor and the titles are a laundry list in length……….

Do you pay attention to especially bad reviews of books when deciding whether to buy or read them?

KaryneI don’t think that reviews have ever played a huge role in what I choose to read. If I read a review by someone on Amazon, I’m less likely to take it seriously because of all the scandal that’s been going on with paid reviews and revenge reviewing. I tend to be skeptical in general with professional reviews. Reviews in the paper or through a celebrity book club can be manipulated by the prestige of the author or the house publishing the book. I don’t mean to disparage them entirely it’s just that there are too many non-impartial forces in motion behind them. Personal recommendations are more likely to get my attention because the person giving them is usually someone I can trust. Word of mouth can sell a book far better than anything else, in my opinion.

Note from Reade and Write: Amen to that!

JenniferNo, I try to make my own opinion of the books that I read.

Lots of people don’t have a favorite book for a variety of reasons. Do you have a favorite? What is it?

KaryneI could never be pinned down to one but there are several that stand out because of how they impacted me at the time I read them. My new favorite, Book of Beloved (Pluto’s Snitch #1) by Carolyn Haines, is a creepy, spine-tingling ghost story set in 1919 America amidst racial tensions, a dark and titillating legacy and a heroine who simply shines like no other. Raisa spoke to me as a woman on the cusp of voting rights struggling to find a career at a time when women were so oppressed. She never gives up or gives in, and considering how much women are fighting today for rights that should be a foregone conclusion, it’s very timely in its power and emotion. It will also scare the heck out of you. Pride and Prejudice because of how it affected me as a young woman in high school. Elizabeth Bennett became my favorite role model as I was beginning to flex my feminist muscles. Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, a powerhouse story of emotion about a small community of friends during glory days of San Francisco. Requiem for a Glass Heart by David L. Lindsey for intricate and exceptional female friendship story amidst chaos and espionage with a heart wrenching ending that will stay with you for a long time.

JenniferNo, it depends on the mood I am in, the season we are in, my life events that year.

Where is your favorite reading spot?

Karyne: On the couch, with a cup of coffee, and no one to disturb me.

JenniferAt the beach, on the deck, by the pool.

Anything else you want me to know?

KaryneI’m a writer, a mom, and a photographer. I love to offer up my services as a beta reader and interviewee.  Anyone who’d like to take me up on that just email me at karynecorum04@gmail.com.

JenniferI enjoy your books and look forward to more in the near future. Thank you for the opportunity to participate!!

Thank you both very much for participating in my reader interview series. I liked showcasing two readers today because it’s so interesting to see the differences in the books people read, how they choose those books, and their reading habits. I appreciate you both being here!

Until next time,

Amy

Reader Spotlight: Angela Holland

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As promised, this week I am featuring another reader here on Reade and Write. Welcome, Angela Holland!

How often do you read?

Every day.

What is the name of the last book you finished?

Newton & Polly by Jody Hedlund.

What are you reading now?

A Carol Christmas by Sheila Roberts.

What is your preferred genre?

Historical Fiction but I also enjoy cozy mysteries, romance and biographies.

How often do you venture outside your preferred genre?

Often.

What was the last book you read outside your preferred genre?

I am reading one now that is not historical fiction.

Are you in a book club?

Yes.

If so, what book did your club read last?

Sting by Sandra Brown

Where do you obtain most of the books you read- from a bookstore, online, the library, borrowed from a friend, etc.?

From Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

How do you decide which books to read?

First my genre and then by subject.

What is in your To-Be-Read pile?

I have many books in my TBR I am working my way through: Patience Griffin’s Quilts and Kilts Series as well as Laura Childs’s Tea Shop Mystery Series. 

Do you pay attention to especially bad reviews of books when deciding whether to buy or read them?

No. It seems that is people don’t like things, then I tend to like them.

Lots of people don’t have a favorite book for a variety of reasons. Do you have a favorite? What is it?

The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon is one of my favorites.

Where is your favorite reading spot?

Anywhere and everywhere.

Anything else you want me to know?

I have loved reading since I was little girl and never leave home without a book.

Thank you, Angela! I’ve enjoyed getting to know more about you and your reading habits!

Until next time,

Amy

Reader Spotlight: Carol Thompson

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Today on Reade and Write I welcome a dear friend, Carol Thompson. We sing in the choir together and play in the bell choir together, and she and her husband are very special people.

How often do you read?

I read everyday although sometimes it’s just a short devotional.

What is the name of the last book you finished?

The last book I finished was The Covenant by Beverly Lewis.

What are you reading now?

I am currently reading Broken Identity by Ashley Williams.

What is your preferred genre?

It’s hard to pick a preferred genre but I always like Romance or Cozy Mysteries. I stay away from books that are extremely violent or graphic. I always like to read books about the Amish as my mother’s family originated in Lancaster, PA, and many of them still live there today.

How often do you venture outside your preferred genre?

Since I have more then 1 preferred genre I rarely venture outside of it.

What was the last book you read outside your preferred genre?

Since I don’t usually read historical fiction the last time I ventured out side of my preferred genre was several months ago when I read The Red Tent.

Are you in a book club?

I am currently in a book club.

If so, what book did your club read last?

The last book my book club read was The Happiness Project.

Where do you obtain most of the books you read- from a bookstore, online, the library, borrowed from a friend, etc.?

I usually obtain my books online.

How do you decide which books to read?

When I’m deciding on books to read sometimes I go by friends’ recommendations but many times I go by price and the online description of the book.

What is in your To-Be-Read pile?

I have lots of books in my to be read pile. Hester on the Run, Seek Me With All Your Heart, and Dying to Read to name a few. Of course The House On Candlewick Lane is on my to read list and I’m just waiting for it to come out. Please note, I did not pay Carol to say that!! And I’m thrilled to hear it!

Do you pay attention to especially bad reviews of books when deciding whether to buy or read them?

I really don’t pay attention to reviews when choosing a book unless someone I know has read it and gave it a bad review.

Lots of people don’t have a favorite book for a variety of reasons. Do you have a favorite? What is it?

My favorite book is The Bible but in fiction there are too many for me to choose just one.

Where is your favorite reading spot?

My glider in my living room is my favorite spot for reading or on the beach.

Anything else you want me to know?

I think it might interest you to know that I got my love of reading from my mother. She always read to us even after we learned to read. She would read 1 chapter of a book to us each morning before we went to school. Usually it was a chapter from Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, or The Boxcar Children. When I was a child I wanted to live in a boxcar. Lots of mornings other neighborhood children would stop by to hear the story. What a great way to start the day. I agree. What a wonderful memory!

Thanks for stopping in to talk today, Carol. I enjoyed having you here!

Until next time,

Amy

P.S. My publisher is giving away two copies of The House on Candlewick Lane on Goodreads! If you’d like to enter, click here.

Spotlight: Rabbi Ilene Schneider

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Today on Reade and Write I welcome Rabbi Ilene Schneider, who is both an author and an avid reader. I had the pleasure of meeting her at a Malice Domestic convention in Bethesda, Maryland, and I’m thrilled to finally host her here. Ilene answers my questions for readers today, but I hope to have her back soon to answer my questions for writers, too!

Welcome to Reade and Write, Ilene!

How often do you read?

Constantly. When do I not read is easier to answer: when I’m talking with someone, when I’m driving, when I’m sleeping, when I’m in the shower, when I’m at the movies or a play or concert, when I’m at religious services … I can’t think of any other times I don’t read. I even read while watching TV. 

What is the name of the last book you finished?

The Cat in the Living Room, a natural and cultural history of house cats.

What are you reading now?

I just started Alexandra Sokoloff’s Huntress Moon.

What is your preferred genre?

Cozy mysteries, with ventures into natural history books (recently reread John McPhee’s Pine Barrens for the umpteenth time) and popular history (anything by Erik Larson).

What was the last book you read outside your preferred genre?

The Cat in the Living Room.

Are you in a book club?

No.

Where do you obtain most of the books you read- from a bookstore, online, the library, borrowed from a friend, etc.?

Kindle. I’m addicted to it. I realized a while ago it’s not books I love but reading.

How do you decide which books to read?

Recommendations, reviews, new releases by authors I’ve enjoyed in the past, books by authors I’ve met.

What is in your To-Be-Read pile?

How much time and space do you have? 28 on my to-be-read list, 39 on my “classics” (books I may reread, including such books as Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Maltese Falcon, as well as Sherlock Holmes, Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, etc.), 26 nature, history, biography, and research.

Do you pay attention to especially bad reviews of books when deciding whether to buy or read them?

Yes, I want to see if any of the negative reviews contain criticisms of things I dislike, like excessively gory or gratuitous violence, explicit or gratuitous sex, lack of character development, stilted dialogue …

Lots of people don’t have a favorite book for a variety of reasons. Do you have a favorite? What is it?

Whatever I’m currently reading. Assuming I like it to begin with.

Where is your favorite reading spot?

Wherever I am.

Anything else you want me to know?

If I have to lose a sense, I’d prefer anything but sight. I am a visual learner, so audio books won’t do it for me.

 

Rabbi Ilene Schneider, Ed.D., one of the first six women rabbis ordained in the U.S., has finally decided what she wants to be when she grows up. She retired from her day job to devote full time to writing. She is the author of the Rabbi Aviva Cohen mysteries: Chanukah Guilt, which was nominated for the Deadly Ink David Award for Best Mystery of 2007, was one of My Shelf’s 2007 Top Ten Reads, and was a Midwest Book Review Reviewers Choice Book; and Unleavened Dead, which won First Place from the Public Safety Writers Association, and was nominated for the Deadly Ink David Award for Best Mystery of 2012. Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine called Unleavened Dead “… a solid, funny mystery that provides an insider’s look at Jewish life.” A resident of Marlton, NJ, near Philadelphia, she has completed  the third book in the series, Yom Killer, and is also the author of Talk Dirty Yiddish.

new-cg-front-cover          unleaveneddead-cover

Please visit her website/blog: http://rabbiauthor.com or email her at rabbi.author@yahoo.com.

Thanks for stopping by, Ilene!

Until next time,

Amy

Reader Spotlight: Dru Ann Love

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It is my pleasure to welcome Dru Ann Love to Reade and Write today. If you follow any mystery writers online, you may have heard of Dru. She hosts a blog, Dru’s Book Musings (more about that below), where she reviews many of the books she reads and where authors regularly contribute posts about a day in the life of one of their characters. I’ve had the honor of meeting Dru several times at Malice and Bouchercon conventions.

Welcome, Dru!

How often do you read?

I read 2-4 books per week.

 

What is the name of the last book you finished?

The Queen’s Accomplice by Susan Elia MacNeal.

 

What are you reading now?

Literary Dead by Lois Winston, the second book in the “Empty Nest” series.

 

What is your preferred genre?

Cozy mysteries.

 

How often do you venture outside your preferred genre?

For every 10 cozy mystery books I read, I’ll read another genre. That’s a great way to get out of a comfort zone!

 

What was the last book you read outside your preferred genre?

The Queen’s Accomplice by Susan Elia MacNeal.

 

Are you in a book club?

No, I’m not. I used to be.

 

Where do you obtain most of the books you read- from a bookstore, online, the library, borrowed from a friend, etc.?

I buy most of the cozy mysteries I read. If not, I get from the library.

 

How do you decide which books to read?

If it’s a first book in a new series, I’ll read that first and then it’s whatever mood I’m in for the other books. There are some people who like to read series in the order in which the books are written, then there are others who don’t really care. I have to say for me, it depends on the series. Sometimes I read in order, sometimes I jump around.

 

What is in your To-Be-Read pile?

Too many books to count (cozies, thrillers, suspense and women’s lit).

 

Do you pay attention to especially bad reviews of books when deciding whether to buy or read them?

No, I do not. I know what I like to read.

 

Lots of people don’t have a favorite book for a variety of reasons. Do you have a favorite? What is it?

My favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird.

 

Where is your favorite reading spot?

The love seat in my living room.

 

Anything else you want me to know?

I’m owner of Dru’s Book Musings (https://drusbookmusing.com/). I’m an avid reader and I love attending author/reader fan conventions. I also love meeting other readers and sharing our love of books.

Thanks for being part of the Reader Spotlight series, Dru!

 

I’ve gotten a great response from people who’d like to be included in the Reader Spotlights. One of the things I like best about interviewing readers is learning about books and authors that are new to me. I also love to know more about people’s reading habits.

Until next week,

Amy

 

 

Reader Spotlight: Fiona McVie

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In the second installment of my Reader Spotlight series, I’d like to introduce everyone to Fiona McVie, probably the most prolific author interviewer I’ve ever known! Fiona lives in Scotland and has an impressive portfolio of interviews on her website and Facebook page. Welcome, Fiona!

How often do you read?

I read every day, I always take a book when travelling on the bus to work or train to the city.

 

What is the name of the last book you finished?

Gabriel by M.A Abraham

 

What are you reading now?

Marious’ Story by M.A Abraham and Temptation in a Kilt by Victoria Roberts.

 

What is your preferred genre?

I read all genre as long as the book is well written I will read it.

 

Are you in a book club?

No.

 

Where do you obtain most of the books you read- from a bookstore, online, the library, borrowed from a friend, etc.?

I buy my books from book shops, supermarkets and Amazon.

 

How do you decide which books to read?
Cover most times.

 

What is in your To-Be-Read pile?
Too many to count I have over 200 on my wish list at Amazon and slowly buying a few each month.

 

Do you pay attention to especially bad reviews of books when deciding whether to buy or read them?

No everyone has a different thought about a book. One person might hate it while another will love the book. I make up my own mind.

 

Lots of people don’t have a favorite book for a variety of reasons. Do you have a favorite? What is it?

I don’t have any favorite book. I like so far all the books I have brought over the years.

 

Where is your favorite reading spot?
Nope I read anywhere: bus, train, bed, on a hill.

 

Anything else you want me to know?

I love reading so much I started a blog where I interview authors. You can check it out here: www.authorsinterviews.wordpress.com. I also write poems. Here are 2 of my poems:
Hero

You are my hero, Dad
You’re my secure foundation.
When I think of you, I’m filled with love
And fond appreciation.
You make me feel protected;
I’m sheltered by your care.
You’re always my true friend; and Dad,
When I need you, you’re always there.
You have a place of honor
Deep within my heart.
You’ve been my superhero, Dad,
Right from the very start.

2ed of June 1940 to 31st of December 1991 RIP

 
My little angel above
My little angel above
My heart sinks when I think
That God took you away from me
At 12 hours old

He must have something special for you
As it is just the good he takes
And I know your dad
Will look after you up there

I know you are looking down on me
On your angel cloud
But it does not stop me
Being heartbroken

John-Andrew 24/12/1980 – 25/121980

 

Those are beautiful. Thanks for being on Reade and Write, Fiona.

Until next week,

Amy