Authors in Bloom Blog Hop

Dianne Venetta_AIB Logo_2015

Hello, everyone! Thanks for visiting the Authors in Bloom Blog Hop! Spring has sprung, and we’re celebrating! Visit all the authors on the tour for great gardening tips, recipes and a chance to win some fantastic books and prizes!

Here’s my tip:

Location, Location, Location!

My tip is more about how to enjoy your garden than growing or protecting it. If you’re considering a water feature, here’s something you might want to think about:

yellow birds

Birds love water features. Now, you may love birds, but do you want them on your patio? Trust me. You don’t.

My husband and I installed a water feature a few years ago. We thought we had the perfect place for it –– a small cut-out in our patio, at the edge, near the house. We’d be able to see the feature and birds from inside the house. And, of course, we’d hear the water bubbling pleasantly when we were outside on the patio. We like the birds, and I love the sound of the water.

The problem? It’s not a good location. A couple of times a year there must be something the birds eat that makes them very thirsty. They converge on the water — and patio — in great multitudes. And they leave a little something behind. Yep. Bird poop. Everywhere. On the patio, the chairs, the pillows, the cushions . . . ugh.

I was prepared for the annual winterizing and refilling. But I wasn’t prepared for the constant clean-up detail. Consider placing your feature a little farther out where birds can perch on trees or shrubs rather than patio furniture. Choose wisely, friends! And enjoy your outdoor space!

 

PRIZES!

Leave a comment (and your email contact info in case you are a winner!) to enter the giveaway drawing. To be eligible for the Grand Prize, you MUST visit and comment on each participating author’s site!

GRAND PRIZE: We are giving away a Kindle Fire or Nook (winner’s choice) along with a 2nd prize of $25 gift card. Woo-hoo!!

DARLENE’S PRIZE: I’m offering two prizes:

  1. a signed paperback copy of one of my novels plus author swag. Please note, will be mailed to U.S. resident only.
  2. a digital copy of one of my novels — international eligibility

For “extra” entries in my giveaway, follow my blog or my Facebook page!

Darlene’s Facebook

The Tour ends April 16th at 11:59pm EST. Tell your friends!

 

Visit all the participating authors, and leave your comment!

Good Luck, and Happy Spring to all!

Click on the link below to see all authors

AUTHORS

 

 

Re-visiting old friends

rereadHere’s an interesting topic (at least for a bookworm) I’ve seen on social media in the last week – the question of re-reading books you love. Do you, or don’t you? With so many books to read, why would anyone spend time reading something they’ve already read? You know the ending, so there’s no suspense, right?

For me, re-reading a favorite book is like curling up with an old friend. Even though my to-be-read list seems miles long, sometimes I want to revisit characters I love, and a story I know I can count on to give me a satisfying plot and ending. Though there isn’t an element of surprise, I often find little nuances in the story that I missed or had forgotten about when I re-read. For me, there’s comfort and pleasure in re-visiting familiar characters. I kind of miss them!

I have several books that I occasionally re-read.

Here are ten of them (in no particular order).

  1. The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells.
  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  3. Plainsong by Kent Haruf
  4. Lake News by Barbara Delinsky
  5. Crow Lake by Mary Lawson
  6. Montana Sky by Nora Roberts
  7. Paradise by Judith McNaught
  8. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  9. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  10. The Mitford series by Jan Karon

Occasionally, I’ll even go waaaay back and read an old favorite from childhood like These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder. 🙂 And I always keep an oldie-but-goodie in my car for those periods of unexpected down time.

Do you re-read? What is your go-to book that you can always count on?

A Valentine for you!

free Risk

Ah, love is in the air! It’s Valentine’s Day weekend — and I have a gift for you! Like romance? Hunky book boyfriends? Stories that feel real? Here’s your chance to try a Darlene Deluca contemporary romance for free (digital edition) on Amazon.

Clashing over the fate of a historic building, Jennifer Aukland and Michael Reynolds are on course to become adversaries. She’s an architect devoted to green building and restoration. He’s a developer hell-bent on ripping down the old hotel she’s racing to save to make way for a new casino.

Chemistry leads to compromise, and for a time, they’re on the same team. Jennifer adds Michael – and marriage – to her safe and steady plan for the future. But when Michael throws caution aside and lands in a life-threatening situation, Jennifer’s world comes crashing down. In her family, she’s learned that recklessness leads to tragedy. She must decide if she can commit her life to someone who takes unnecessary risks with his. Will she take control of her own destiny, even if it means leaving Michael behind? Or will she risk everything for love?

Whether you’re enjoying a night on the town or a cozy evening at home, happy Valentine’s Day to all!

Get your copy of Her Greatest Risk here!

 

Something for Everyone!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00031]I hosted book club last night, and, as usual, some people liked the book. Others, not so much. There was a difference of opinion on whether the book was well-written, whether the characters were fleshed out and well developed, and whether the plot was believable or too predictable.
That’s the way it is with books. One woman’s trash, is another’s treasure. There is rarely a right or wrong, good or bad. There are only opinions!
In my book club, some of us like real life-like dramas. Others like fantasy or science fiction. Some like cozy mysteries or non-fiction best. That’s one of the cool things about books – there’s something for everyone!

I enjoy reading slice-of-life books, and that’s what I tend to write. I recently created an ad for a couple of my romance books using the tag line “Romance that feels Real.” If you’ve looked at the homepage of my website, you know that I portray my characters as “someone you’d want to be friends with in real life.”
Other slice-of-life books that come to mind are Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner, Plainsong by Kent Haruf, and The Woman Next Door by Barbara Delinsky. These are all books about people, their lives, relationships, jobs, issues, etc. Like my stories, they present everyday situations that a vast number of readers can relate to. Some people hate that kind of book. It’s too close to reality, they say. They read to escape reality. They want to be transported to another world.
Luckily, like I said, there’s something for everyone out there!

I’ve recently received several new reviews for my novel The Storm Within. It’s about a woman living in a small town who has trouble coping with the death of her son and her husband’s request for a divorce. Her world is crumbling, and she turns to alcohol for relief. For some people, this is a depressing dose of reality. Even if the book is well-written, the characters seem believable, and the depiction of alcoholism is accurate, they can’t enjoy that kind of book. For me, the author, that’s unfortunate.
But, as reading goes, everyone has a different perspective and their own opinion. What one person found depressing, others find dramatic and realistic, and they form an emotional connection with the character and story. Whew! For me, the author, that’s an incredible affirmation.
It’s humbling and gratifying when readers write in a review things like this: “What I liked about this book was the fact that the way the two main characters were feeling was totally normal and the inner thoughts they had were similar to what we, normal people/not book characters, would have. It was as if was listening to my friend telling her story and the hard times she’s going through…” And, “the struggle to pull herself out of despair and depression and to stop drinking with the help of friends and her daughter is honest and touching.”

Basically, these readers found the story realistic. That makes me happy. I accomplished my goal. I made a connection. I know it’s not what everyone likes. Some readers will hate the book and feel the need to share their opinion with everyone. That’s part of the system. I’m just so grateful for the readers who take the time to let me and others know that the book seemed “real” and made an impression.

Here’s to finding the type of book that suits your moods and needs. Happy reading to all!

Dream job . . . found in a high school library

IMG_0802Hello, everyone! Happy Friday!

Today it’s my pleasure to introduce you to an amazing lady. She runs the library at my kids’ high school – a school with more than 2,000 students. I love libraries. I’ve been to many, and I can tell you, this librarian makes a difference. How? She encourages a love of books and learning by making the library a happy place! Nooks to check out, Cappuccino Fridays, Blind Date with a Book . . . she’s got it all! Please welcome Kathi Knop, librarian extraordinaire!

Tell us a little about your job. And yourself . . . what were the steps to becoming a school librarian? Was that always your intended career path?
I graduated from William Jewell College with a degree in Elementary Education and taught elementary school in the Hickman Mills School District for 10 years. During that time I got married and had 2 daughters. I stayed home for the next 15 years to raise Megan & Elizabeth. When Megan was an 8th grader, I decided it might be time for me to go back to work. After some soul searching thinking about what I really wanted to do I decided to get my master’s degree in Library Science, which was a wonderful decision. I spent four years going to Emporia, KS one weekend a month getting my degree. I don’t think I originally ever thought about being a librarian, but when I became one, I realized it was a dream job.

What’s your favorite part of being a school librarian?
I love the teaching part of being a school librarian. I love giving book talks and just being around and talking to the students.
And least favorite?
Because of our new 1:1 initiative, technology has become a large part of my job. The least favorite would be having to take time out to deal with computer problems, issuing new computers and chargers that have been lost or damaged, etc.
How many students do you interact with on a daily basis?
My days are always varied and I can interact with anywhere from 30-300 students.
How do you encourage kids to read?
I think just talking to kids about books encourages them. Every year I have the young adult librarians from Johnson County library come gives book talks to the freshmen classes about current books during Teen Read Week in October. I also do book talks to the freshmen at the beginning of the year. I have also book talked different genres, such as biographies and non fiction books. This always gets kids to read something that they might not have before. I display new books as they arrive and books that bring awareness to a specified month, such as Black History Month, etc. This month we have a display called “Blind Date with a Book.” The books are wrapped in brown paper with a few key words on the front telling a little bit about the book. The first day we did the display, 10 students checked them out. I also have 15 Nooks that the kids can check out and take home. They might want to read a particular book, but end up reading lots more because so many are available on the Nooks.

Are you seeing any trends in reading/literature at the high school level?
Dystopian novels are still pretty big. I have also been ordering more GLBT books and have seen an increase in these books being checked out. Fiction books are definitely the most books that get checked out. Nonfiction books rarely get checked out any more. Students would much prefer to find their information online, which I can’t argue with, as I too like to have the most up to date information when doing research!

Who are some of your favorite authors?
John Green, Rainbow Rowell, Pat Conroy, Jodi Picoult, Harper Lee

What are five books on your to-be-read list right now?
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, The Orenda by Joseph Boyden, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel and The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

How many books do you read in an average month?
I usually have three books going at once. I listen to a book in the car or when I walk, always have one on my ipad and one “real” book that I read on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Name some of your all-time favorite books.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, My Antonia, Jane Eyre, Prince of Tides, The Woman in White, The Tortilla Curtain.

Is there one book you think every high school student (or every person) should read?
It would have be To Kill a Mockingbird. I think it is a timeless piece that has something in it to appeal to everyone. It is a moving novel that has life lessons.

You’ll be retiring at the end of this school year. What will you miss the most?
Most definitely the daily interaction with my colleagues and the students. The students give energy to every day! I will definitely NOT miss getting up at 5:15 every day.

Tell us a favorite memory/story of being a school librarian.
Wow. There are so many, it’s hard to choose one. Probably my best memory is having started cappuccino days in the high school library. When I first started at East, it was apparent that we needed to find ways to bring kids into the library. We started Cappuccino Fridays and sold cold cappuccinos and cookies. So many kids started coming in saying “So this is the library!” We would have about 3 classes in the library about every 15 minutes and make between $1,000 and $1500 each month. This also was very timely since our budget was taken away and we were still able to purchase new books for the library. Once a year we gave all our proceeds to an organization such as Habitat for Humanity, Heart to Heart International, the Red Cross, etc. This was definitely a rewarding, fun thing to start in our library. And of course there was getting to accompany a group of students to Italy and opening a brand new beautiful library at Mission Valley Middle School!

Everyone who knows you knows that you’re one of the coolest school librarians ever: How would you like to be remembered?
Ha!! I think just as a person who really enjoyed students and provided a comfortable environment for them to come to, whether it was to find a book, to study, or just to hang out and eat lunch.

When you aren’t working/reading, how do you spend your time? Any hobbies?
In the spring and summer it’s definitely gardening and working out in my yard!

What’s next on your journey?
I’m just going to give myself a semester to see what happens. I will definitely be gardening and also volunteering. I want to volunteer at the Childrens Center for Visually Impaired and also Children’s Mercy Hospital.

One of Kathi’s favorite quotes:
“[Librarians] are subversive. You think they’re just sitting there at the desk, all quiet and everything. They’re like plotting the revolution, man. I wouldn’t mess with them.”
― Michael Moore

I love this quote because to me it says that we’re always thinking up new ideas, events, and the next new thing!