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text 2017-04-12 07:09
"Smashwords Questionnaire / Interview"

I asked a friend to come up with some questions for my 'Smashwords Interview' and these are what he came up with. I've written my answers to each of them. https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/reneepaule


You have written five books - one for children - and have a sixth in the pipeline on the human condition. What drives you to write?


What makes a flower grow, a heart beat or the sun shine? I don’t know the answers to these questions or to what drives me to write. I only know that I’m driven and that the ‘drive’ grows stronger with each book.


Many people who read your books are looking for answers yet your books provide none; isn’t this rather a contradiction to being a self-help book?


No it isn’t. If I provide answers to questions people have then some of them will listen to me and I may be wrong - it has never been my intention to become a ‘guru’. Self-help means just that; we need to help ourselves and not rely on others to find solutions for us - which leaves us none the wiser; our strength can only be found within. We must look for our own answers and I can only show you how I’m looking for mine. Having said that, I actually have no answers - just fewer and fewer questions and this has made my heart less heavy to lug around.


What age group are your books aimed at, if any?


When I wrote ‘On The Other Hand’ I thought my audience would be in my own age group (over 50s). I was surprised to discover that younger people like them very much too, so my answer is from around 15 or so upwards.


Why did you start to illustrate your books after ‘On the other hand’ and how did the idea of ‘Dilly’ come about?


I never thought about illustrating ‘On the Other Hand’. Quite frankly, I didn’t even know I had the ability to draw so it never occurred to me - I wasn’t artistic in my youth. When I was writing ‘Just Around the Bend’ an idea popped into my head of a ‘thought bubble thinking’ and I decided to draw it - it was just a bit of fun. From then on Dilly - a thought form that thinks - became a character in his own right and he was good at demonstrating points that I made in the text. I use ‘he’ when I talk about Dilly but I really don’t think of him as either masculine or feminine - it’s just for the sake of convenience.


You do your own illustrations; how do you decide what aspect to illustrate? Your earlier books have fewer illustrations than ‘Stepping out of time’, which has 27; one short of the previous two books put together. Why is this?


Sometimes the Dilly illustrations pop into my head before I’ve even written the point I want him to demonstrate, and sometimes the ‘point’ comes first; I have no hard or fast rules about this and let the illustrations develop as and when they want to. For this reason I can’t really answer the second part of this question. I can tell you however, that the images for ‘Stepping Out of Time’ came to me so quickly that I began to wonder whether my next book would be in comic strip format - as it turned out it was to be a children’s picture book.


Why did you write a children’s book and do you have plans to write more of them? Again, an idea just came to me and I shared it with a friend and we decided to write and illustrate this book together. Yes, I have plans - and ideas - for more. Our children need to learn to think independently (outside the proverbial box) as much as we do. They learn from us and will become the future leaders of our world, so it’s important that we teach them not to be afraid of it.


The latest book you are working on; is this in the same tone as your previous books; will it have more or less illustrations?


I don’t believe that my tone changes, so my answer to the first part of this question is ‘Yes’. To date, I’ve not yet made any illustrations for it or designed the cover, so I can’t answer the second part of this question yet.


Is there much more that you can write about on the human experience before you run out of ideas?


I’m far from short of ideas. If anything, there’s a problem writing them down fast enough before I forget. Because the genres of my books are ‘self-reflection’ and ‘observation’ it follows that my ideas will only run out when I do! But, who is this ‘I’?


If you had to sum up your books in a ‘Hollywood pitch’ for example, ‘Sci-fi Meets Supernatural’, how would you describe it?


‘Beds of Nails and Other Comfortable Places’.


Where do you see yourself five years from now?


I can’t answer that question - I may not be around.


Your books have no mantras to repeat, no exercises or meditations to perform and no means of tracking progress made; in fact, on the face of it there is nothing for the reader to do. How do your books work, how do they help people who read them to help themselves?


Oh but they do have a mantra to repeat - ‘Who am I?’ Ask it and keep asking it. There are three ‘do’s in this question and this ‘doing’ has got us into enough trouble already. There really is nothing to ‘do', as such. We make life so complicated when it should be simple. My books aim to help people to think differently and to let go of all that holds them back from being the best person they can be - from becoming a responsible and mindful person in society. I’m told that my books are both a mirror and a lens, and I believe that to be true. If my books teach anything at all then they teach us the truth about ourselves - steering us inwards - and this is all too often a difficult place to visit.

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text 2016-08-10 23:30
Well, if these are all the secrets I'm being made to share here ...


I was tagged by Murder by Death – thank you very much! – for this Q&A brought to BL by Grey Warden.


How long have you been a blogger?


A blogger only since I moved to BookLikes in the fall of 2013 in the throes of the Goodreads censorship debacle.  I started reviewing on Amazon in 2000 or 2001 and moved to GR in 2008.  Would never have thought I'd take to blogging this much, but there it is, I do! :)  Which has a lot to do with the great community and great interaction on BookLikes, too, though.  Even on Amazon, I always said I wanted my reviews to be starting points for a discussion (and I moved away from there when the climate went positively poisonous).  The same was true on Goodreads, though admittedly the most fun I had there was in creating Listopia lists (some of them, of the decidedly goofy variety) and with the interaction in the lists' comments section.  (Again, this was before things got a bit uptight with regard to "list rules" and similar stuff.)  BookLikes is by far the most congenial, open-minded and just overall nicest book community I've belonged to.


After Leafmarks lamentably took a dive earlier this year I also created a Wordpress blog, which I'd never have done without the great experience I've made on BookLikes in the first place.  My experience on Wordpress has so far been positive as well, but I haven't been there long enough yet to say anything more, I'm afraid.



At what point do you think you'll stop?


Err – when it stops being fun, I guess?



What's the best thing?


Feedback / discussing great books, meeting so many wonderful people who love books as much as I do (plus who also share, between them, a fair amount of my other interests), and the terrifying and completely out of control explosion of my TBR pile.


Add to that, on BookLikes, the near-total absence of whiny and just generally badly behaving authors and other trolls, and the community's joint response whenever such folks are actually stupid enough to show their faces here.


Also, I totally love the design powers we've been given with regard to our own blogs.  (Even if it typically takes me eons to successfully implement even the tiniest feature.)



What's the worst thing?  What do you do to make it ok?


On BookLikes, nothing bad as far as the community goes; period.  In terms of site features, the longstanding and annoying disfunctionality of the reblog feature and the pitifully poor librarian features (also more recently, the site's general hickups and lacking staff response). About all of which I tend to bitch and moan on occasion in the hope that someone somewhere will finally listen (so far however, alas, to no avail).


Pretty much everywhere else, the fact that interactions ultimately have a way of turning poisonous before you've even realized what's going wrong; regardless whether you've run into a BBA or some other troll, or because the community just isn't as tight-knit to begin with, or for whatever other reason.  My response to that typically is to walk away: certainly from a discussion that stops actually being one, but ultimately also from the site in question.  I neither have the time nor the inclination to expose myself to that kind of aggravation; though if it's aggro from a BBA or someone (else) gaming the system, I'll engage long enough to make it clear to everyone else what is going on, and I may very well also flag the discussion in question for site admin review.


On Goodreads and Amazon, what I also find totally unacceptable is the fact that reviews are being censored (and not even subtly, either).  If I can't actually say what I think in a review, what's the point of reviewing to begin with?  Definitely only one response to that sort of thing – walking away.



How long does it take you to create/find pictures to use?


Finding them is hardly ever the issue – either I already have saved them somewhere, or Google and someone else's hopefully public, free-use collection obliges at short notice.  I tend to obsess over design issues, though – where exactly to place images, how large to make them, etc.  As a result, finalizing a post may easily take me twice the amount of time (compared to just typing it up) if I use a lot of images.  Also, I find that I use images on non-review posts a lot more than on reviews (on those, only if I decide that illustration greatly enhances the review).  For most non-review posts, though ... just bring 'em on! :)



Who is your book crush?


I am polygamous (well, when it comes to book crushes – and anyway, isn't that the point of reading widely?).  Remember Sundance? "I'm not picky. As long as she's smart, pretty, and sweet, and gentle, and tender, and refined, and lovely, and carefree ..."  Pretty much that – just read "he" instead of "she"; unless obviously we're also defining "crush" as a heroine I can identify with, look up to, or otherwise consider a role model.  In that case it's women, too.


Brains are important; I can't stand characters who are TSTL.  As is honesty,  standing by who you are and what you live by, and a certain amount of openmindedness and generosity.  But basically, as I, err, Sundance said, I'm not picky ...



What author would you like to have on your blog?


To interview myself?  William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Hillary Mantel, C.J. Sansom, and Salman Rushdie.


Also, Hodder (I think) recently had several of their authors interview each other – I'd love to be, or have been able host something like that ... say between Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and P.D. James; or Jane Austen and Elizabeth Barrett Browning; or George Eliot and George Sand; or Christine de Pizan and Moderata Fonte; or William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, Ben Jonson, and Christopher Marlowe; or Hillary Mantel, C.J. Sansom, Michael Jecks, Iain Pears, Ellis Peters, and our own Samantha Wilcoxson; or Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, and Henning Mankell; or ... or ... :D



What do you wear when you write your blog posts?


Ummm ... whatever I'm wearing that particular day?  On weekends, most likely jeans or comfy slacks and either a T-shirt and a sweatshirt; on work days, something suitable for the office – approximately 3 days out of 5, some combination involving a no-iron cotton, silk or wool top and black dress pants.




How long does it take you to prepare?


I tend to make it up as I go along, so no structural drafting / preparation at all.  That said, if I decide I'm going to review a book (which I don't always do), it's often because there is something particular that has occurred to me while I was reading the book and that I want to comment on.  Only very rarely do I read a book specifically with the pre-existing idea of reviewing it in mind; though if I do, again, I'll most likely already have thought about what I want to say at least in general terms before I even sit down to write my review.



How do you feel about the book blogger community/culture?


See answers to the first questions above! :)



What do you think one should do to get a successful blog?


Define "successful"?


Be courteous, honest, and appreciative of / responsive to the people who read your blog.  Keep things varied and diverse.  Say at least a little bit about the reasons why you like / dislike a given book, or care about a given topic, etc.  And most of all, in a community like BookLikes: Participate!!


And in that spirit: If you haven't done this Q&A yet and you've made it all the way to the end of this post, consider yourself tagged! :)



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text 2016-05-23 12:57
Ten Bookish Questions (meme)

Apparently originally posted by Bookloving Writer, though the first post I saw was by Olga.


1. What book is on your nightstand now?


Depends which nightstand you're talking about, for arguments sake let's say the one closet to my bed, in which case it would be Sacrificial Magic & Chasing Magic by Stacia Kane


2. What was the last truly great book that you read?


I've been reading quite a few good books of late, some of which were re-reads (Mistborn) But I think my favorite would have to be The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, and part of the magic I think was because I haven't read it before. Plus it was about flesh-eating-horses!!


3. If you could meet any writer – dead or alive – who would it be? And what would you want to know?


I really haven't thought of this before, and to be honest couldn't be bothered putting in too much time contemplating it, so therefore I'll just go with the easy answer and say my favorite author, Ilona Andrews.
What would I want to know..... nothing and everything. Maybe get her to tell me a story in person, learn more about her Russian culture and history - probably not where she got the idea's for her characters, as i wouldn't want it to take away from the magic of her stories. Just whatever comes to mind I suppose.

Also Jackie French, I think would be a good person to chat with.


4. What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves? 


I don't think many would be a surprise to anyone who knew me, except for maybe these few:

Tortured by Amanda McIntyre - because it's mainly historical romance, and not like me at all.
The Across The Nightingale Floor series by Lian Hearn - I'm not sure why, but people tend to be surprised when seeing this series on my shelf.
The Elephant Whisperer - Lawerence Anthony - Just something I wouldn't usually pick up, though i do love animals. (Haven't read yet)
Beyond Ugly by Constance Briscoe - Just because I tend to avoid Biographies. This one sounded fascinating, though in truth wasn't great.

The Empress of India by Michael Kurland - Doesnt sound like my type of book, but vaguely mentions Sherlock Holmes, and anything related to him I'm all over. (Haven't read yet)
The Exploits and Adventures of Miss Alethea Darcy by Elizabeth Aston - Also because it's Historical Romance. (haven't read yet).


5. How do you organize your personal library?



Hahaha I have a rather strange way or organising everything, First off I Currently have 3 main shelves: read, un-read & favorites.
My Read shelf tends to be bunched into series, and random books. With favorite's up the top, and least favorites either down the bottom or behind the others.
My Un-read shelf tends to be random, with a few up the top I really want to read soon (usually has a few recommends in there, as well as borrowed books from friends) and they tend to bunch into the groups I bought them in. 
My Favorite shelf, is whatever, everything I really enjoyed that excludes the whole series (I have them on the read shelf, why? no idea)

Then I have another pile between book holders which are my Library borrows.

Yea I'm not really sure how my system came about, but it works for me.


6. What book have you always meant to read and haven’t gotten around to yet? Anything you feel embarrassed never to have read?


I use to feel embarrassed about having not read a lot of classic's, but after trying to read a bunch & hating everything except Sherlock Holmes, I just really don't care anymore. I find them lacking compared to today's standards.

There's a few I've been meaning to read and haven't quite managed to get around to yet, such as Eat Pray Love, Harry Potter, Wheel of Time, etc.


7. Disappointing, overrated, just not good: what book did you feel you were supposed to like but didn’t? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?


Hahaha I've had so many of these. So many popular book/series I just really did not like, such as Fever, Green & Shadow and Bone.
Recently I've put down quite a few as well, to name a few: Tomb Raider: The Ten Thousand Immortals, The Diviners, Lair of Dreams, The Tiger and The Wolf, Fields of Glory...... really I could go on..... lol.


8. What kinds of stories are you drawn to? Any you stay clear of?


I'm drawn to action & fantasy. I like to read about make believe. I'm not really interested in stories where I could in theory go out and do what I'm reading about (which tends to cross off both Romance & Erotica - plus they don't really float my boat) I enjoy books with character development, but who also don't start off insanely annoying. My most read and go to genre would probably be a sub-genre of fantasy, maybe Dark or Urban?
Oh and I tend to avoid mind-fuck books, I don't really enjoy my brain being screwed with. Or something that keeps me up most of the night, shuddering with disgusts. No thanks.


9. If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?


I've never really read anything that I think a president should read (says something about me huh?)... expect maybe something from 'a little person', not the big picture, but pain from a personal perspective. Like..... Reason to Breathe (A good perspective about the problem with Domestic & Family Violence - how children need to be educated to see harm like this differently) Little Wing (Mental Illness & how it makes you view the world & yourself) Over a Thousand Hills I Walk with You (The horrors war refugees have to go through to get to where they are today) Sold & No Laughter Here (Both of these are terrible tragedies that happen in not just 'other countries' but here as well) And lastly The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices (which was incredibly difficult to read, and utterly painful, but something I think everyone -who can- should try. It's something that will stay with me forever).


10. What do you plan to read next?


Chasing Magic by Stacia Kane. In fact I'm just about to start!!

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text 2015-03-17 11:26

About Me



A - Yes and No, its a complicated answer. though technically im single atm.
B - 3-6-1991
C - No one atm.
D - Coffee.
E - hmmm, probably Nikki.
F - Do i just have to have one? can't i just choose a band?... could i even do that? mmm probably Imagine Dragons.
G - dono... probably 8?
H - Noosa - leas i think of it that way.
I - choc-chip peppermint for sure
J - ummm the pink one?
K - frequently...in my mind. lol no.
L - 4 years, or friendship 11-12 years.
M - Banana (real banana) or chocolate.
N - 3 half siblings? possibly more (who knows really) and 1 step brother, Grant. (technically i have a few more, but i only speak with him.)
O - Super Powers.
P - Some career person. before that work.
Q - What am i up to?
R - life.
S - hmm something on the radio, i think it might of been that church song about same sex? good song.
T - 3am, 5am, 9am then 11am, lol. i had a terrible sleep.
U - lady birds? red and black?
V - don't really have one, i have good friends i think of as my best friends.
W - hmm David Anders? oh or Jessie Pavelka? possible Simon Baker (though he's a bit old) hard choice really as i don't actually know any of them. ohh and Jenen Akcles!!! I've decided i want all four based soulfully on shallow urges and wants.
X - neck, foot, shoulder, shin and i believe my thigh.
Y - like actually tears? hmmm dono was a while ago. if we're just talking just upset i was actually upset at work just the other day, it was very embarrassing, which made it so much worse. lol.
Z - Gemini's rule!!

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review 2014-11-15 17:22
The Questionnaire: Or Prayer for a Town and a Friend by Jiří Gruša, Peter Kussi
The Questionnaire: Or Prayer for a Town and a Friend - Jiří Gruša,Peter Kussi
bookshelves: hardback, one-penny-wonder, published-1974, translation, czech, newtome-author
Read from November 12 to 15, 2014


Description: In completing a standard employment questionnaire, narrator Jan Kepka manages to write a beautifully impressionistic history of his life, his family, and his hometown as he obeys - with mock solemnity - the handwritten command on top of the form: "DO NOT CROSS OUT."

From the front cover: When 'The Questionnaire' was first circulated in a samizdat[**] edition of ninteen typewritten copies in 1974, the Czech authorities arrested Jiří Gruša, accusing him of "initiating disorder". He was released two months later and the charges against him were eventually dropped, but Gruša has since left Czecholslovakia and is now living[*] and writing in West Germany.

*He died 28 October 2011, in Hannover
**Samizdat was a key form of dissident activity across the Soviet bloc in which individuals reproduced censored publications by hand and passed the documents from reader to reader. This grassroots practice to evade officially imposed censorship was fraught with danger as harsh punishments were meted out to people caught possessing or copying censored materials.

Chlumec (Kulm)

Opening: On September 19, 197-, in the city of Prague (i.e., right here, not in the town of Chlumec), I visited the enterprise GRANIT, the sixteenth organization I had contacted over the past two years, and I recieved my sixteenth Questionnaire (in room 102, second floor), from the hand of Comr. Pavlenda (Comr. = Comrade; i.e. friend, mate, companion, fellow member of Communist society).
In contrast to those previous questionnaires, this one was marked in the upper right hand corner, in blue pencil, most probably by Comr. Pavlenda himself, DO NOT CROSS OUT! - an exhortation I considered highly significant, since nothing like it had appeared on any of the previous forms.

Sometimes, abstract is the bee's knees, however if it isn't of ::the:: abstract that appeals, then the book is not appreciated. I have a strong feeling that in the right hands: ·Karen·, Fionnuala, Kallipe, Traveller etc., it will be well received.
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