Friday Friends: Katie Naughton & LuLaRoe

Happy Friday, Friends! I started interviewing authors, bloggers and creative entrepreneurs on Fridays as I was so inspired when the creative community welcomed me, back when I published my first book. This year we are featuring creative entrepreneurs. I know you will enjoy meeting my friend, Katie Naughton. She’s fun, friendly, and sells fabulous clothes. Katie has a knack for pattern-mixing, too! “What is that?” you ask? Read on, LuLaFriends!

Welcome, Katie!

1. So, can you tell us about your business? 
I own a retail clothing boutique of LuLaRoe brand clothing. I sell the clothing from my home, in-person and online, and have been in the business almost 3 years. LuLaRoe brand is known for its fun patterns, comfy fabrics, and styles that flatter all shapes and sizes. I carry tops, dresses, cardigans and kimonos, skirts, and children’s clothing. I became a customer, got hooked on the cute, comfy clothes, and the rest is history.
2. Do you have a favorite style or pattern?
The two LuLaRoe styles that I first fell in love with were the Madison skirt, a pleated skirt with pockets, and the Perfect tee, a swingy tee with slits on the side. I love the combination of florals with stripes, as well as fun novelty prints, like raccoons. #patternmixing Have fun with your clothes! I am looking forward to LuLaRoe adding jeans to our brand in the coming months.
3. How do you balance work and family?
Since I make my own schedule and work from home I can usually plan my business activities around our family schedule. I do a lot of my work (i.e. photographing inventory, shipping, live sales) while my kids are at school or after they go to bed. Since my inventory is in my home I can have sales whenever our family is home and it’s convenient for us. It means my customers occasionally see my family life in action, but I’m comfortable sharing some of that. 
4. What do you like to do for fun?
I love watching movies, going to concerts, spending time with friends and family, trying new places to eat, and going on adventures, big and small. I recently joined a book club and have started reading for fun again, after a very long hiatus.
5. What is one unusual thing about you?
I don’t have my ears pierced. I never did it as a kid and once I got older it just didn’t seem that important. I considered having them pierced for my 40th birthday, but that came and went and my ears remain intact.
6. What music inspires you?
Depends on the moment. I’m a wanna-be 90s grunge groupie, raised on Motown and MTV music videos, who married a rock drummer/engineer. Bjork’s greatest hits are currently playing on my Amazon Echo. A few albums that come to mind that I’ve listened to on repeat are the “Singles” movie soundtrack, Muse “Black Holes and Revelations”, Alice in Chains “Jar of Flies”, Perfect Circle “Mer de Noms”, and Toad the Wet Sprocket “Dulcinea”. Whatever is playing, I’m definitely singing along.
7.Which ethnic restaurants have you visited?
Lots, I’ll try anything at least once! Locally I’m a repeat customer at Southern Comfort Kitchen(Cajun), Aroma Cuisine of India, King Kong Chinese Restaurant, Pho Play, and Pokeatery.
8. Ranch or Blue Cheese?
Blue cheese, no doubt about it. Ranch ranks very low on my cravings list.
9. What instrument did you play in marching band?
Clarinet (bassoon in symphonic band and orchestra). High school marching band is where I met my husband.
10. What tv shows/ movies are you watching these days? 
I just finished binge watching the 2nd season of “Westworld”. I’m currently watching the new seasons of “Barry” and “Documentary Now” and looking forward to the return of “Game of Thrones”. The last movie I saw in the theater was “Captain Marvel”. 
11. Do you have a theme song?
No theme song, but I’ve typically got a soundtrack going in my head.
12. What is one thing you would tell your younger self? 
Take some risks, nothing too outrageous but color outside of the lines a tad. 
13. Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?
Travels! Our family loves traveling, near and far. We will occasionally take off on little day trips or overnights around the Bay Area. We are lucky to live near so many amazing places! But we are also up for an adventure farther from home. My husband and I have visited 33 US states together, including a few Western states with the kids. We also borrowed an idea from friends, to celebrate each 5th anniversary abroad. For our 5th anniversary, pre-kids, we meandered around Munich, Hallstat (Austria), Venice, Florence, Rome, and Paris. For our 10th we took our boys (aged 4 and 2 at the time) to Edinburgh, London, and Dublin. For our 15th our family visited friends in Valencia, Spain, then went to Barcelona, Lyon (FR) and Paris. Our 20th isn’t decided yet….Tokyo? Costa Rica? Macchu Pichu?
Follow me on Facebook for new inventory, special sales, live videos, and more:
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View select inventory at goshopkatie.com

Thanks for being here, Katie!

Tune in in two weeks for our next community interview with author Sarah Boucher.

Catch our other #FridayFriends interviews with Your Writer Big Sister , MeganReneePlans, Dolce Planner, Tomi & Cleo, Yancy Lael and Jenipher Lyn.

Friday Friends: Katie * Your Writer Big Sister * Masters

Happy Friday, Friends! I started featuring the writing community on Fridays as a thank you to those who helped launch my first book. And I found I just loved it so much, I wanted to keep doing it! I’m delighted to feature Katie Masters today. Read on to meet Katie!

So, what have you written/created?

I mean, if you wanted to go back far into the archives in the life-of-Katie, you’d find sailor moon fanfiction and whole spiral notebooks full of stories written from the age of twelve onward! But since I’m pretty sure you don’t want to read those (and really, you probably shouldn’t), I can thankfully point you to the things I have had published! 

 

The first (literally, my very first!) book I wrote was picked up by Fire & Ice YA, a modern-day Irish mythology book entitled, Brenna Morgan & the Iron Key. It’s kind of my baby and while I do intense research for all of my books, this one is near and dear to my heart as it’s part of my heritage. Most recently my modern-day sci-fi thriller Beacons, got picked up last year by Pandamoon Publishing and is slated to come out this year! I’ve also self-published a novella that’s the first in a series I’m creating entitled The Bone Dancer.

Currently I’m working on my lesbian Victorian romance and hoping to pitch it soon. I’m also probably the worst person in the world to ask what I’ve created or what I’m working on because I’m always creating and my answer today might be different tomorrow! I’m also juggling two different  Middle Grade series, and a lesbian slice of life graphic novel (done in Japanese manga style). 

 I’m also writing full news articles on my Patreon page for my Enchanted Forest News updates that I do on twitter!

…..Yeah. That sounds like a lot even to me. 

I don’t know how I haven’t gone insane either.

Where can we find you on social media?

You can find me practically everywhere but especially on twitter! I also have an Instagram and authortube channel on youtube! I’m pretty sure the links to them all will be down below.

What inspired you to start tweeting as Your Writer Big Sister?

 

Oh man! I think you’re the first person to ask me that! As it happens, I’m in fact, a big sister in real life! But as I went on twitter I realized I was spending a lot of time (worthwhile time!) cheering on a lot of writers on twitter, and giving a lot of advice and doing a lot of beta reading and I realized—all of these wonderful people didn’t have a ‘big sister’. They didn’t have someone to cheer them on in their life, or tell them they weren’t crazy and to not listen to their close minded parents who put padlocks on their dreams.

 

So I took it upon myself to be everyone’s Writer Big Sister. 

I was lucky that as a teen, I had the opportunity to be coached by some writers and I wanted to do the same thing—to be the cheerleader for the writer who doesn’t have someone to do it  forthem in their life.

 

What subjects and causes are near and dear to your heart?

 

SO. MANY. Note the cap locks! But I know I should narrow it down to two. LGBTQ is right on the top of my list—right there with conservation. I’m an ally, always have been, always will be. But I would like the world to remain habitable so that we can all still be alive to read books, explore nature, and love whoever the hell we want. Which is why I so strongly support conservation. I spent half of my childhood in apartment and the other on boats on the ocean and a tipi on a lonely mountain. Nature and keeping it around and leaving it better than it was is huge for me.

 

What’s the first piece of writing that you remember being proud of and why?

The first piece of writing I was ever truly proud of was a fantasy book I was writing in Jr. high. I was very serious about it and it was the reason I learned to type so fast on a computer! I wanted to write it as fast as it was running around in my head! I was proud of it because I wrote a truly great villain and even my mom (who is the hardest person in the world to impress) was impressed with her. 

 

Looking back at it now I can say “oh yeah, I was definitely thirteen” and even pinpoint what author influenced my word choices or plot development. But even now, it’s still something I’m proud of, since I was so young and taking on a huge world building project.

How many books did you read last year?

 

I um….I didn’t keep count exactly but maybe 30? I felt I wasn’t reading enough though and I’m trying to fix that this year!

 

Which of them stood out?


Well, I’m sure not everyone will count it, but The Prince and the Dressmaker, which is a graphic novel by Jen Wang. The art is freaking gorgeous, the story doubly so. It’s just such a wonderful blend of fashion and heart! I just wish it could’ve kept going!

 

How did you get the idea to tweet Enchanted Forest News?

 

I honestly don’t know! It was just sort of something that kind of lighting flashed into my brain one day. I wrote one news flash and it took off like crazy on twitter and people started asking me if I was going to do it daily—so I did! Initially (and to this day) I was using for a fun background/easter egg plot drop to my Enchanted Forest middle grade series I’m working on. It’s meant to take place a few years prior to the start of the first book, andsets the stage for a lot of the plots in the series! 

It’s honestly grown to be so much more than I thought it would be, mainly due to the many people who comment on it and tell me how much the updates mean to them! It’s really kept me going, to be honest!

 

What is your theme song?

Oh that’s so hard! It depends on the day and the mood I’m in! But I would say overall my theme song is “keep your head” by Andy Grammar. Although lately it’s been “high hopes” by Panic! At the Disco. Pretty sure you can see a theme forming at this point right?

What is your all-time favorite movie?

 

Okay firstly, you need to know something about me. I love movies as much as I love books. I’ve grown up watching silent films, old film noire, musicals…you name it, I’ve watched it. Soto pick only one is impossible for me! I don’t think I could even pick one in one genre! But I’ll say one of my favorite movies of all time is the 1990’s version of Pride and Prejudice because they did that book so much justice and to this day it’s the best book-to-film adaptation I’ve ever seen.

Fight me!

 

What songs can you play on the ukulele?

 

I can play all kinds of songs! I love playing Rebecca Sugar songs (I mean, really who doesn’t?!) on it, but I also write my own songs, and I like learning modern day songs too. I think one of my favorite bands to play from is Of Monsters and Men (from the Little Talks album).

 

What plants do you have growing in your garden?

 

Asking that is like asking a booktuber how many books they have on their shelf. You’ve entered dangerous ‘list’ territory my friends! To those who don’t know me, by the way, I garden! I’m like…maybe a little obsessed with gardening. I don’t want your eyes to glaze over, so I’ll give you the shortened version! I have seven different kind of berry bushes, an apple tree, plum tree, 2 kinds of grapes, rhubarb, strawberries, and three raised beds filled with seasonal veggies (and onions and garlic).

Fun bonus fact: all of my berries and trees are in pots because I rent and can’t plant anything permanent in the ground!

 

Ranch or Blue Cheese?

Ranch. Always ranch.

 

Name one faraway place you would like to visit.

 

My life goal since I was twelve years old is to go to Japan. I’ve literally learned to read and write and speak the language since I  was a kid and I still haven’t gotten to go. I’m hoping to fix that someday soon (I say that, by my book sales just laugh at me).

What’s your favorite tea?

My favorite tea is the Private Reserve from the Los Rios Teahouse (they sell their teas online too, bless them!)!

 

Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?

Yes There is! This writing business is tough. If you’re writing a book right now, you know that. But I want you to know you’re not alone. The worst things you can do are withdrawal when you’re stuck, and give up. If you’re having a hard time, there’s a community on twitter for your going through the same thing—or have gone through it and lived to tell tale.

You are not alone, and people want you to reach out. I know that can be scary because a lot of you might be introverted or feel you don’t have the right or the ‘standing’ to ask for help or advice.

I’m here to tell you, you are. You are worth the time people invest in you. You are worth the time you invest in yourself. And your books are worth the time you’ve put into them. If you feel stuck or lost or frustrated, reach out. Reach out to me, or to the writing community.

But you are not alone. Please keep writing!

 


Thanks, Katie! I’ve always wanted a big sister!

Here’s where you can find Katie and her books!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Katie_Masters29

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katie_masters/

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/KatieMasters

Brenna Morgan and the Iron Key

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAKV7lMmK10

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2GBnEzY

The Bone Dancer: https://amzn.to/2E7gTnT

Friday Friends: MeganReneePlans

Happy Friday, Friends! On Fridays I like to feature individuals who are creative. Hope you enjoy this week’s spotlight on MeganReneePlans!

I discovered MeganRenee via Etsy as I searched for decorative stickers for my planner. I fell in love with her Beauty and the Beast Kit, which includes inspiring quotes. My daughter and I also use her sports stickers in my planner for notating practice and games. I particularly appreciate these because they were customizable. I chose the hair color as well as team color for the stickers.

Read on to meet MeganRenee!

1. So, what have you created and produced? 
For the past three years now I have been creating planner stickers and inserts for my Etsy shop. 

2. What subjects & causes are near and dear to your heart?
Autism Speaks has been my number one cause since college. They are my sorority’s philanthropy and I’ve tried to keep them on my donation list since then. 

3. Can you tell us a bit about your creative process?
It varies and changes all the time. I usually try to work on at least three or four projects at a time. Sometimes I’m just burned out with all the mom life duties that I rarely design. I try to find artwork that hasn’t been used too much in the planner community and then put my spin on putting it together. 

4. What do you like to do for fun?
Designing sticker kits is actually fun for me. Other than that I love reading, going to the ballet or just out to dinner with my husband. 

5. What is one unusual thing about you?
I hate mustard! With a passion. I don’t know why exactly. But just thinking about it makes me nauseous. 

6. What music inspires you?
I love music! Almost any genre, except country. Lately I’ve been finding more inspiration from contemporary Christian. 

7. How many books did you read last year?
I think I only read 10 or 11 last year. 

8. Ranch or Blue Cheese?
Definitely ranch!

9. What are you working on right now?
I am working on prepping for my shop’s 3rd anniversary sale. Also finalizing details to being foiled stickers to the shop. 

10. What tv shows/ movies are you watching these days?
I don’t watch much as my sons usually take over the tv. But I make sure to keep up with Arrow and The Flash. 

11. Do you have a theme song?
I don’t think I do. There’s always multiple songs running through my head during the days. 

12. What is one thing you would tell your younger self?
That it’s ok to let yourself be who you are. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. 

Website : http://www.meganreneeplans.com
IG : http://www.instagram.com/meganreneeplans

Friday Friends: Mo Quintana & tomiandcleo

Happy Friday, Friends! On Fridays I like to feature creatives and entrepreneurs. Allow me to introduce you to a very special friend: Mo Quintana from tomiandcleo ❤️ I met Mo in the eighth grade, can you believe it? She had the best book recommendations. I’m so excited to follow her successes and adventures. Read on to meet Mo~ and at the end you will find a link to her Etsy shop as well as a special discount code for my readers. Thanks, Mo!

  1. So, what have you created and produced? 
I am a designer of things. I was trained as a graphic designer, and in college (and after) got into designing for live theater, specifically lighting, costumes and sets. And a little more than a year ago, left a corporate job to design and make art jewelry.
Currently I make jewelry in small batches from polymer clay and sterling silver.
2. What subjects & causes are near and dear to your heart?
I feel strongly about animal welfare. Art and music education are essential to a well rounded human as well. Not to mention continuing education and practice keeping that human sane and engaged.
3. Can you tell us a bit about your creative process?
My creative process follows two paths. If I’m designing for either a client or a theatre production, it’s mainly about problem solving. For instance, designing a set for a production of “Cabaret” is very collaborative. If designing and building costumes for the same, then there is much collaboration with not only director and producer but also actors, prop designers, musical directors and choreographers. Theatre design begins with research, drawings, mood boards, production meetings, then build and making changes. It’s pretty satisfying to see a production I’ve worked on. It’s also pretty fleeting. Live theatre productions (amateur) only last for maybe 2 months. I will usually work a show making repairs if I did costumes, but otherwise, what is created doesn’t live long.
The second path is creating something by myself. This is interesting for me, since I’ve worked collaboratively for most of my working life. This path usually starts with research. I decide what I’d like to create, make sketches and do research, then plan out the pieces, get supplies, make the pieces, fix the pieces or scrap them if they aren’t turning out well and finish them. Then I either wear, give them away, or sell them.
I found when doing the graphic design for my own jewelry brand that I badly missed having the feedback of other designers. The worst part of design school and indeed working as a designer was the critique. When others tell you that what you’re doing isn’t working, that becomes stressful and causes anxiety. However, to be a good designer, you can’t work without it. So I found some colleagues to give me feedback. Talk about growing up.
4. What do you like to do for fun?
I like to crochet, read fantasy books, and watch special features in my favorite movies, over and over and over. I like to sing and play Sims 4.
5. What is one unusual thing about you?
I’m very organized. Since I’m an artist, most people will think I’m the messy creative type, but everything in my world is alphabetized, color coded, and sorted by size and use. It’s helpful when one has a bajillion beads and too many art supplies. I spent a lot of time in my previous job figuring out how to produce many things in the most efficient way possible, and that has permeated every part of my life. From baking to painting to making lots of post earrings, there’s always a workflow exercise involved.
6. What music inspires you?
Normally I play chill vibe music on Pandora when actually making things. I prefer ambient music without lyrics for creating. If i’m producing things and doing repetitive work, I’ll listen to big band, pop music, funk and R&B, and usually sing along.
7. How many books did you read last year?
Probably, counting audio books, 30+.
8. Ranch or Blue Cheese?
Ranch for most things, blue cheese for buffalo wings.
9. What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a new type of earring set design which is gender neutral. I’m learning how to make post earrings so that they won’t break when adhering sterling silver to polymer clay.
Next up is making some larger statement pieces, necklaces/pendants, and bracelets
10. What tv shows/ movies are you watching these days?
As for TV, I normally wait for whole seasons to come out. I also rewatch shows multiple times. 
Some of those are:
The Great British Baking Show, Battlestar Galactica, Scandal, Sanctuary, Eureka, Person of Interest, Travelers, Game of Thrones, Marvel’s Agents of Shield, and anything about science and history. And castle building. 
I’m looking forward to the Episode 9 of Star Wars, and to Mortal Engines.
11. Do you have a theme song?
Great question! I probably have several. Looking at my favorite playlist, what jumps out are:
Harder Better Faster Stronger, Daft Punk
Happy, Pharrell Williams
Make Me Feel, Janelle Monae
I Like it Like That, Pete Rodriguez
Jump In The Line, Harry Belafonte
Amado Mio, Pink Martini
Sing, Pentatonix
Uptown Funk, Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars
Everybody Needs A Kiss, Benny Benassi and Sofi Tukker
12. What is one thing you would tell your younger self?
Definitely that critique and feedback are painful but necessary.
13. Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?
I think that having a creative outlet is more important than ever. It helps keep you sane and hopeful. It matters not one bit if a person thinks they need to know how to draw or whatever. It’s never too late to start creating things.

Find Mo’s creations at tomiandcleo on Etsy

Click here to go to tomiandcleo on Etsy

Here is the special coupon code for my readers: DEEREADERS25

Friday Friends: Sapira Cheuk & Dolce Planner

Happy Friday, Friends! On Fridays, I like to feature creatives. I am delighted to spotlight artist-entrepreneur Sapira Cheuk of Dolce Planner. I personally have found her hand drawn designs to be the perfect enhancements for my daily planner. Her work is inspiring, literally inspiring us to do more, and to love our lives. Be sure to check out her online store! I hope you enjoy the interview. Welcome, Sapira!

1. So, what have you created and produced?

  1. I have 2 main creative outlet, first is my contemporary art practice and the second are my planner stickers. They are very different from each other and serves different purpose. I don’t see these two outlets as contradictory even tho they look and represent very different things, rather, I see them as different ways of expressing.
  • My contemporary art practice are mostly ink paintings on paper influenced by traditional Chinese brush paintings, the subject are usually about women’s embodiment and subjectivity. 
  • My planner stickers theme usually revolves around different girl themed activities or identities. 

2. What subjects & causes are near and dear to your heart?

  • Most of the works I produced have the female experience in mind. While I identify as a feminist, that identity is rooted in the believe of equality. 
  • 3. Can you tell us a bit about your creative process?

    It’s magic! Sometimes it feels like making a half-remembered dream real, sometimes I just start drawing and whatever takes shape, takes shape.

    4. What do you like to do for fun?

    I love to eat! I know it’s not good to link food with reward, but it’s sometime I look forward to mostly. I also love to draw, play Switch, drink wine, and go to museums/galleries.

    5. What is one unusual thing about you?

  • I love Star Trek, my favorite is TNG
  • 6. What music inspires you?

    My music taste is kind of all over the place, I would describe as indie electronic/pop. I keep a playlist on spotify specifically for painting. 

    7. How many books did you read last year?

    20ish – mostly audible 

    8. Ranch or Blue Cheese?

    Both!!! Both I especially love Ranch with pizza

    9. What are you working on right now?

    March Passion Planner Sticker subscription designs 

    10. What tv shows/ movies are you watching these days?

    I don’t watch a lot of TV, on weekends I like action movies. 

    11. Do you have a theme song?

    No… not yet

    12. What is one thing you would tell your younger self?

    Do what you love and don’t give up! 

  • Thank you for letting me share a little bit of me today!
  • Websites: 

    www.sapiracheuk.com

    Friday Friends: Jerry Dwyer, Reader

    Happy Friday, Friends!  I interview authors, bloggers, and readers on Fridays. We are #humanswholovebooks. Today I am delighted to share a very special interview with you: my own dear father, who instilled in me my love of reading and writing. Welcome, Dad!

    img_4570

    1. What are you reading right now?
    Restless Hearts: Walking the Camino de Santiago by Roy Uprichard

    2. What did you read last?
    Who We Were Before by Leah Mercer (literary fiction I found on Kindle Unlimited)

    3. What do you look for in a book?
    I like to research before traveling – fiction, history and travel guides. Before going to Barcelona last year I read Barcelona by Robert Hughes, The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series (three books) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The South: A Novel by Colm Toibin, and Rick Steves’ Pocket Barcelona.
    See # 12 below for more examples.

    4. What book has most influenced you?
    I can only narrow it down to three books: one from my youth, one from my middle age, and one from my senior years.
    When I was 18 I read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and my love for great literature was kindled.
    When I was in my 40s I read Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy and my love for western Americana took a big hit.
    The most thought-provoking book I read in the 21st century was Atonement by Ian McEwan.

    5. How many books did you read in the last 12 months?
    41 (I just had to add up the titles on my iPad!)

    6. What book would you recommend for your younger self?
    Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

    7. What book have you disliked?
    Ian McEwan is one of my favorite contemporary authors. I thoroughly enjoyed Saturday which I read prior to our trip to London in 2013 and since then have read six more of his novels. All of his books are well-written but I did not like some of his surprise endings and one book, The Comfort of Strangers, I didn’t like at all.

    8. A popular book is becoming a film. Do you read the book first, or see the movie first?
    The book. We usually wait till a movie is on TV. I read Girl on a Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins a couple of months ago and the movie isn’t out yet!

    9. What are your favorite travel books?
    Rick Steves’ travel guides. We take these along for our walks when we visit places in Europe. Most of the other books I have read lately are ebooks. For our trip to Paris in 2014 we also made good use of a delightful little book called Forever Paris by Christina Henry de Tessan. Its subtitle tells it all: 25 Walks in the Footsteps of Chanel, Hemingway, Picasso, and More.

    10. What is one thing you have learned from books?
    It’s a great big world out there! I love to read about people traveling somewhere, meeting other people and seeing historical sites and then go there myself.

    11. Is there a book that you once loved, but can’t stand anymore?
    No.

    12. Is there anything you would like to add?
    Before our trip to Paris in 2014 I read A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway and The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough. On our return from Paris I read The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo.
    Before, during and after our recent trip to Scotland I read a total of four Isabel Dalhousie mysteries by Alexander McCall Smith.
    Before our trip to Italy in 2009 I read A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, Michelangelo’s Mountain by Eric Scigliano, and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown.
    Before our trip to Spain in 2010 I read For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway and Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving.
    Rick Steves doesn’t publish guide books on Australia; so in 2011 I read In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson before going to Australia.
    Finally, I would like to add that I never travel without a camera and I like to read photography books, too, especially those on the history of photography.

    Friday Friends:Eachan Lee, Reader

    After interviewing writers and bloggers for almost a year,  I decided it might be fun to interview readers, as well. I find it fascinating to hear what booklovers have to say about their books. Don’t you?  Welcome, Eachan!

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    1. What are you reading right now?
    Hollow City by Ransom Riggs. It’s the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The basis for his characters/story are old black and white photographs that have been rigged to twist the images in some way, like photoshopping back in the days before anyone could buy a camera, much less a digital one. It’s a bit hard to explain but for example there’s a photo that shows a kid apparently lifting a huge boulder, so the corresponding character is a kid with super strength. It’s set around the world wars, so it’s kind of an old timey, kid super hero deal. He’s a relatively new writer and it’s a pretty good effort.
    2. What did you read last?
    I went back and re-read the Man-Kzin wars series. The universe was created by Larry Niven, who is a big hard science fiction writer. The books themselves consist of short stories written by both established and up and coming writers who are, as he puts it, “in his playground”. It’s mostly good storytelling with differing tones/styles but all in the same setting.
    3. What book has most influenced you?
    When I was in my teens I read The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman as well as Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (very cliché). I wouldn’t say they changed my lives, but some of the themes and concepts related to the human experience and human nature I’ve found true to life even to this day. The original Dune books by Frank Herbert were interesting in a similar way that spoke more collective human nature that also speaks to me.
    4. How many books did you read last year?
    Who knows? I kill off a book in a matter of days, so maybe 50?
    5. What book would you recommend for your younger self?
    Oh that’s really hard to say. I’ve been an avid reader ever since I figured out how and I don’t really have any regrets when it comes to how my tastes have evolved. Maybe I’d tell myself to avoid books that later became movies, does that count? Although the cinematic experience is sometimes great, I’ve always felt the storytelling and character development suffer in those conversions.
    6. What book have you disliked?
    That’s an odd one as even if I don’t particularly like a book, I usually finish it to complete the experience and see where the author is going. There’s really only one book I only managed to get only a few chapters into and that was Hunters of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. I was always wary of their writing as they opted to pursue prequels to the original Dune books rather than the sequel that was cut off after FH’s death. I tend to look down on sequels in general as it’s often a case of “write the characters before they became the hero/villain” and “match the ending to the beginning of the original books”. It’s honestly very fluffy work in my opinion and had none of the deeper themes or gravitas that underlay his father’s work. The characters were changed drastically in nature and motivation, which was ridiculous considering that they were very well established characters.
    7. Do you prefer to read fiction or non-fiction? Do you prefer a genre?
    I do enjoy a good history book, but I mostly read fiction. I think the vicarious experience is more complete as a fiction writer can take liberties that need to be treated carefully in non-fiction. I tend to lean towards sci-fi as I do enjoy what some people like to call speculative fiction where they fast forward existing science to create a more plausible world, then use those altered aspects to frame what should still be a human(esque) story. It’s like the difference between the Martian vs Star Wars.
    8. Do you prefer fast-paced plot advancement or world building exposition?
    I prefer world building over the fast read. As I tend to re-read books quite a bit, I like finding new bits or call backs/forward within a larger narrative universe. Unfortunately those quick moving plots don’t have the same fascination when I go back to them as the payoff is in the ending versus in the build up.
    9. Do you prefer to read an actual book, or e-books?
    I’ll read an e-book, but I prefer physical books. It just feels more soothing to me than swiping through pages. Also I have a habit of flipping back to look at previous foreshadowing and that’s a huge hassle for e-books.
    10. A popular book is becoming a film. Do you read the book first, or see the movie first?
    I always see the movie first. I tend to go into those movies annoyed at alterations or things that are flat out cut. There are some good adaptations, but some movies are obviously just taking the name to draw in a guaranteed audience. I Robot and World War Z are two egregious examples that pop into my head.
    11. What would be the title of your life story?
    Ha! I lead a decidedly mundane existence. It’ll borrow one from the bard and say Much Ado About Nothing
    12. What is the ideal environment in which to read a book?
    Ideally? On a beach with the breeze and the light just right. But I do a read a lot in bed.
    13. Is there anything you would like to add?
    Harry Potter and JK Rowling are overrated. They’re tasty bits of pop fiction, but not particularly deep or inventive. If you want your kids to experience a British author that creates interesting world, stories and characters, hand them some Roald Dahl.