Keli Gwyn
Meet the Reviewers: Amber Perry

I’m honored to feature Amber Perry. I recently discovered her blog, the The Historical Christian Romance Review, and am impressed by her reviews, her support of historical romance authors, and her appreciation of the faith element in the books she reads.

Amber earned a BA in Liberal Arts from Portland State University. She’s a performer and voice teacher. She and her busy family live in Washington State.

Amber describes herself as a “happy-go-lucky homemaker with a passion for historical Christian romance.” If she’s not feeding her baby or coloring with her three-year-old, she’s reading. Her biggest concern each day is making sure everything she does is for the glory of God. She loves the Lord and is grateful to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The thing she loves most about the inspirational historical romances she reads is that they help her draw closer to the Lord.

I asked Amber three questions about her reading and review process. After that, you’re in for a treat, because you get to learn three fun things about the woman behind the reviews.

Reading and Reviewing

What led you to start reviewing books on your blog? When did you post your first review? What can your visitors expect in the future?

As you will notice from my site, I just started blogging a few months ago! I discovered this genre of books last year, and from then on I could not get enough! I kept talking about the books I was reading to my friends and family—how I felt about the stories, the author’s styles of writing, etc. They enthusiastically encouraged me to blog. I’m not sure if their motivation in suggesting it was so I would stop bugging them, (teehee!) but either way I am glad I started!

I know I have only a small number of titles reviewed right now, (considering that there are MANY historical Christian romances out there!) but believe me I will be reviewing books as long as the authors keep writing! I like to do at least one or two reviews a week, which is about all I can manage with my other “mommy chores,” as I like to call them. It’s a personal goal of mine to read every HCR (historical Christian romance) out there, so I hope that my blog will grow over time and that people really enjoy it!

I will be starting an “author of the month” section on my blog next month, which will include a book give-away. Those who “follow” my blog will be instantly entered to win!  Yay! Keli will be the featured author in October, so be sure to check back then!  It’s gonna be fun!

If there’s an aspect of a story you don’t care for, you address it head-on but with thoughtfulness. How do you balance a reader’s desire for an honest review with your heart for the author of the work?

I have so much respect for authors!  It takes a great deal of hard work, sweat and tears to get something published, so I have a hard time being too critical of someone’s work. Also, I think that a lot of what I feel as a reviewer/reader is personal preference.

I try to focus on what I enjoyed and just touch briefly on the things that didn’t appeal to me, etc. I feel like it’s also important that my readers get a clear idea of when they can expect from the book, but I always want to be respectful of the authors.

When and where do you do most of your reading?

I do most of my reading when my kids are sleeping!  It’s really the only quiet time I have, so I make the most of it. When my kids take their naps, I like to pop onto my stationary bike and workout while I read…it helps to make the workout less tedious! Teehee Or, after I have done all my “mommy chores” and everyone is sleeping soundly, I like to get “snuggly” in my reading corner and read until I can’t keep my eyes open any more!

Three Fun Facts About Amber

Since you love historical romance, I have a hunch you’re interested in history. What three historical sites have you most enjoyed visiting?

Ooooo! Fun question!!! I do LOVE history, that’s for sure. Many years ago I visited Gettysburg and it was life-changing for me. It’s so humbling to think of what those people suffered and ultimately sacrificed for our country! I hope to go back some day.

Another one of my favorite historical places is Williamsburg, VA! Man, oh man, oh man! I felt like I had died and gone to Colonial heaven! It was like I had stepped back in time—I would go there again every year if I could!

I can never read too many cowboy stories! While I lived in Oklahoma City, I enjoyed the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (not really a historic site, I know, but I had to mention it! Hope that’s OK!) It was SO much fun for me, and I think that’s where I really started to work-up a “hankerin’” for all things Western!

Since you say on your blog that you dreamed of being a homemaker, I’m guessing you love to cook. Am I right? If so, what are your signature dishes? If not, which take out food could your husband bring home that would make you the happiest?

Heeheehee! Well, yes, I have always wanted to be a homemaker and I love my job like none other! But, one of the areas I have less natural ability, (eh-hem) is in the kitchen. I am getting better though, and my hubby is a very good cook, so I like to learn from him. But if he were going to pick something up for us it would be Thai food! Yum!

Since you’re a young mom, I’m sure you’ve watched your fair share of children’s movies. Which Disney princess is your favorite, and which Disney villain do you most like disliking?

Wow, it’s like you have visited our house or something! With two little girls you know we watch our share of Disney! I think my favorite is Rapunzel. I love her sweetness, her tenacity, and her strength. My favorite villain? Oh boy, I think I would have to say Lady Tremaine from Cinderella. She is pure evil!

Amber’s Question for You

So readers, I am curious what it is that you look for in a review? Also, do you think that it’s important for my “site” to be on FB and Twitter too, because currently it’s not? Let me know your feelings!

• • •

To learn more about Amber, “like” her Facebook group page:
The Historical Christian Romance Review

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Keli Gwyn
Talking Romance with Katie Ganshert

I’m delighted to have Katie Ganshert as my guest today. She’s a talented author with her debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter, just beginning to hit shelves across the country. She’s also my agency mate and a treasured friend.

In addition to being a published author, Katie is a busy wife and mother. Because an empty nest romance is a lot different from that of a young mom, I invited Katie to talk about what romance looks like in her chapter of life. (Lest you think I bribed her to say good things about me by offering her a shipment of chocolate, let me assure you, that is not the case. However, I think she deserves some anyhow. :-))

Take it away, Katie. . .

Keli Gwyn has been a source of inspiration. A wonderful reminder that romancing the one we love is an important part of marriage. A wonderful reminder that just because he’s a dude, the romantic responsibility does not rest on his shoulders alone.

But I will be the first to admit…

In the midst of the craziness that is launching my debut novel and planning an adoption fundraiser and taking care of my wild-child of a son, finding time to romance my hubby can get lost in the hustle and bustle of the daily grind.

I don’t think this romantic challenge is unique to women with a book coming out. I don’t think it’s unique to women who are adopting. I think any woman who has a young one (or two or three or four) at home struggles to find ways to keep the romance alive.

But like I said, Keli Gwyn has been an inspiration.

Thanks to her, I’ve been much more cognizant of romance. Much more intentional about searching for ways to show my husband that I love him, that he means the world to me, that I couldn’t do this thing called life without his love and support.

And as I search for opportunities, I’ve realized romance doesn’t have to be big. Grand gestures are great, but equally so are an accumulation of small ones.

Like pausing to give my husband a good kiss. Not a mindless, habitual kiss that happens when I’m running out the door or he’s off to work. But a good kiss. The kind of kiss Jennifer K. Hale talks about on her blog.

Like leaving my husband quick little love notes in his lunch. Sure, those Post Its are great for plotting. But they have other uses too.

Like texting him in the middle of his work day to let him know how much I love him and respect him and appreciate him. What a wonderful husband he is. What a wonderful father. Or sometimes a simple, “U R hot” works too. 🙂

Like picking up one of his favorite treats at the grocery store, then surprising him with it after dinner.

Like taking the time to flirt.

Not only are these small gestures super beneficial for our marriage, they’re great for our son too. The other night, Ryan and I got into a very playful wrestling/tickling match. We were laughing hysterically while Brogan observed from the couch.

When I glanced over at my son, he had the most precious smile on his face.

Our children want to see us acting “in love.” They also need to see that staying “in love” doesn’t just happen. It takes effort. It takes intentionality. And it’s totally, 100% worth it.

• • •

I featured Katie on my blog not long ago. I invite you to visit that post,”Welcome Author Katie Ganshert,” to learn more about her and her debut novel. And if you haven’t read her moving story, Wildflowers from Winter, I highly recommend that you get a copy and find out for yourself why readers are posting rave reviews by the dozens.

Katie is hosting a blog hop this week, which she explained in her post, “Creating Buzz and Spreading Hope.” Since she does just that in Wildflowers from Winter, she’s invited bloggers to share “beauty from pain” stories from their real lives.

I debated joining Katie’s blog hop, because I like to keep my blog upbeat. Not only that, but I’ve suffered some real hurts in years past and don’t like to dwell on them. However,  because I want to support Katie, I’ll be sharing one of my “wildflowers from winter” stories in a rare Thursday post. It’s my hope that hearing how the Lord led me through a tough time and blessed me beyond belief afterward will serve as an encouragement to others.

So, until tomorrow. . .

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Keli Gwyn
Meet the Reviewers: Anne Payne

I’m delighted to have Anne Payne as my guest. She’s a book reviewer who writes heartfelt reviews on her lovely blog Stuff and Nonsense II. That makes sense, because she’s a woman with a big heart. I’ve been blessed by her many times.

Anne wears many hats. In addition to avid reader and book reviewer, she’s a busy wife, mother and home educator. She and her husband live in the beautiful Foothills of North Carolina. They have four children and two delightful grandchildren.

When Anne isn’t reading or teaching, she can often be found crafting. She is a scrapbooker and cardmaker who’s taken a recent interest in altered art.

I asked Anne three questions about her reading and review process. After that, you’re in for a treat, because you get to learn three fun things about the woman behind the reviews.

Reading and Reviewing

What led you to start reviewing books on your blog? When did you post your first review? How has the site changed over time, and what can readers expect in the future?

I wanted to be part of a book club. Since I live out in the boonies, and there wasn’t one out here (call me “duh” but I never thought to start my own), I started searching online. I mean, you can find everything else online so why not a book club, right? After many hours of surfing the web, I came across The Book Club Network (YAY!) and joined right up. Then I found out there were free books out there. Free?! So I started entering contests to win those books. I won a lot of books! After awhile, another reviewer that I visited on a regular basis encouraged me to sign up with WaterBrook Multnomah’s Blogging for Books program.

I requested my first book, When Sparrows Fall by Meg Moseley, and posted my review on March 31, 2011. At the time, I was on Blogger because it’s free. They started having some real frustrating issues last spring and summer. If you’re on there you’ll remember. After hearing me complain (yes, I did so loudly), my husband encouraged me to purchase my own domain name and build my own site for book reviewing. That’s a whole other venture that makes me crazy sometimes! I am always changing small things with the site, but I do try to have a little consistency. I’m still finding my niche but hopefully as this year progresses I will be a little more consistent. That’s my main challenge. I mean, I have two blogs now, take care of a fairly large family and must get in my baby holding time 🙂

My friends, Judy & Rebecca, have recently begun contributing reviews so I think that will add some dimension. Plus, Judy is also using it as a personal ministry and offering her books for giveaways. Combining interesting author interviews and giveaways with well written reviews, our goal is to be a blessing to others who are looking for good books to read!

If there’s an aspect of a story you don’t care for, you address it, but you do so in a loving way. How do you balance a reader’s desire for an honest review with your heart for the author of the work?

I’m a firm believer that there is something good to find in any book I’ve chosen to read. I just have to look for it. I try to concentrate on that first then address anything else, while keeping in mind that reviewing is subjective. It’s my opinion. Plain and simple. Someone else may read the book and have a totally different one.

Being a crafter, even though I’m not a great one, I know that when I create something, I have put a part of myself in that piece. When someone doesn’t like it, I’m ok with that, but if they slam it, it hurts. I don’t want to hurt anyone like that, and see no reason to, so I don’t criticize the author’s writing ability. My goal is to only give thoughts on the story itself. The publishing houses have some great guidelines to go by as well, so that helps in structuring my reviews. I also learn from other reviewers.

When and where do you do most of your reading?

Anywhere and everywhere! I always have a book with me, whether it’s a “real” one or a digital one on my Kindle Fire that my husband gave me for Christmas. 🙂 I even stand at the stove and cook while reading. Now that’s a skill!

Three Fun Facts About Anne

I enjoyed reading your post about how your love of McDonald’s led to you meeting the love of your life. When your former burger-building guy takes you out to eat these days, what are some of your top restaurant choices? I’m curious. Is McD’s one of them?

LOL! No, McD’s is not one of them. 🙂 We love Japanese. There’s a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant we frequent that serves some pretty good Spring rolls and Yaki-Soba noodles. Tuesday evening is a regular date night at Atlanta Bread while our boys are at the Civil Air Patrol. I love the time my husband and I spend together no matter where it is, but those nights we enjoy sipping on coffee and sharing a cookie…or two.

Cardmaking. Scrapbooking. Making altered books. Wow! You’re one talented woman. Of all your creations, which are your favorites?

Baby mini albums, hands down! Especially if it’s for a girl…lots of pink and lace and delicate papers! So y’all be praying this new grandbaby is a girl, ok? ’Cause I need a real good excuse to get all my craft supplies back out! Right now they’re in boxes due to a kitchen renovation project, but that’s another story for another time.

If we were to sneak a peek in your purse, what are three things we’d learn about you?

Oh, Keli! You’re a sneaky one with this question (pun intended). Hmmm…what do I want to admit to?

I’m not organized. My oldest son calls my purse “the Abyss!” Even with compartments, everything ends up in the bottom because I’m always in a hurry.

I like pens. Need one? I have standard black, a teal blue, or bright pink. Take your pick.

And even though I love being a grandma, I would probably be categorized as a bad one because I have no pictures of my adorable grandsons in my purse. In my defense, it’s the age of digital. They’re all on my computer!

Anne’s Question for You

What keeps you coming back to a particular blog? Is there anything that will make you stay away? Because…you know…I want to avoid that. 🙂

• • •

Connect with Anne on Goodreads.

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Keli Gwyn
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