Bold and Strong: Coffee Chat with Author Katherine St. John

I am thrilled to be chatting with Katherine St. John, author of The Lion’s Den (June 30, 2020) and The Siren (May 4, 2021). Katherine has led a varied career including working in the film industry for more than a decade. Join us as we talk about compliments from readers, writing what you know, contending with the blank page, and some of Katherine’s recommended vacation spots.

Me: Are you a coffee drinker? What is your go-to beverage when writing?

Katherine: Yes! I am an iced latte drinker. I like a double espresso with either coconut or almond milk over ice. Rarely do I drink it hot, I much prefer it cold!

Me: How old are your children? What do they think about your writing? 

Katherine: I have two girls, ages 5 & 7. Though they are much too young to be allowed to read my books yet, they are my biggest fans and convinced I am the greatest writer in the world, bless their little hearts. I have caught the 7-year-old sneaking off with a copy of The Siren or The Lion’s Den multiple times, trying to read it without my knowledge. I have promised her when she’s sixteen, she can finally read my books. 

Me: Describe the feeling of holding your book(s) in your hand for the first time.

Katherine: Holding my books in my hands for the first time is such a feeling of accomplishment! The finality of it is satisfying as well. As an author, you do so many edits, and seeing the book in print you know that you’re finished with this one and can finally let it go.

Me: With The Siren following so closely on the heels of your debut novel, this process must feel like a whirlwind. Can you describe what some of these months have been like for you? How do you transition from the “writing” part of your work to the marketing aspect?

Katherine: It’s interesting because while it has been somewhat of a whirlwind timing-wise, it’s all taken place during Covid-19, so I still haven’t gotten to do any live events or have a launch party. Los Angeles, where I lived until recently, was so locked down that I never even got to see The Lion’s Den hardcover in a store! The other day I went into a bookstore to sign copies of The Siren, and it was the first time I’d actually signed in a store. It felt so great to be in the same room with the booksellers. I’ll tell you, signing books in my living room to mail back to stores was pretty anticlimactic. I’m super grateful for the online community of readers I’ve found on bookstagram, who have been so enthusiastic about the books and generous with their reviews. As for writing vs. marketing, because I’m writing a book a year, I am always doing both. I definitely have to devote more time to marketing around launch, but I always make sure I have at least a couple of hours to write every day. It’s how I stay sane.

Me: I love reading an interesting author biography, and yours definitely is. Of your previous professions, have any made their way into your novels? Aside from writing, what is the most interesting job you have held?

Katherine: Oh yes! Acting, which was what I studied in college and spent most of my time and energy on before I began writing, has obviously made it into both The Lion’s Den (Belle is a struggling actress) and The Siren, which takes place on a movie set. I find my training as an actor indispensable as an author, often using acting techniques to get into a character’s head and write from her point of view. 

I’d say that my most meaningful job outside of acting and writing has been as a yoga instructor. I am a strong believer in the power of yoga and being able to help other people find joy and freedom in their practice was really rewarding. 

At the opposite end of the spectrum, I also worked as a bartender for Redbull, which could mean getting splattered with mud while mixing Redbull vodkas at motocross races, or trying not to act starstruck while backstage at Coachella mixing drinks for the bands.  

Me: So far, what is the best comment or compliment you have received from a reader?

Katherine: Oh man, I am so grateful for any compliment, but I think the one that gives me most pleasure with this second book coming out into the world is when people say that I’m an “auto-buy” author for them, because it means they liked the stories I’ve told and my writing enough to trust me to take them on the journey of the next book, whatever that may be!

Me: Writing instructors often advise writers to “write what we know.” What did you already “know” when you began writing The Siren? What did you discover along the way?

Katherine: Having spent over a decade in the film business, both in front of and behind the camera, I knew the film industry incredibly well, and also knew so many different personalities and issues that fit within that world. A film set can be so insular with everyone working long hours with a common goal in a remote location, and that can be either great or awful, depending on the people involved. Add secrets, lies, and ulterior motives, and you’re bound to have an interesting story emerge!

Me: How do you choose character names? Do any of them hold personal significance for you?

Katherine: I put a lot of thought into character names, whether to make them meaningful or simply to make them memorable enough that the reader doesn’t get confused, which can be a challenge when you introduce as many characters as I do! To that end, sometimes I choose names with alliteration (Summer Sanderson in The Lion’s Den) or that make the character easier to remember (Amythest in The Lion’s Den has amethyst eyes). In The Siren, Stella means “star,” Cole is similar to “coal,” a color that represents him I think, with the last name “Power,” for obvious reasons. Felicity means luck, and the name she was born with, Phoenix, is the mythical bird that rises from the ashes. 

Me: If someone close to you said that they were going to begin working on a novel, what advice would you give them?

Katherine: To quote Nike, “Just do it.”

If you spend too much time thinking about it, you’ll never do it. That doesn’t mean that every idea is worthy of an entire novel (believe me, I have a folder full of ideas that didn’t make the cut), but once you have a story you are passionate about, a story you really want to spend the time and energy to turn into a book, stop thinking and write. There’s something to be said for “destroying the power of the white” by putting words down!

And hold off on self-judgment. Some genius once said that “writing a first draft is like scooping sand into a sandbox knowing that later I will make castles.” I love that because any time I’m writing a first draft I always think it’s garbage. Then I go back and reread and edit, and discover it’s not garbage at all, but clay that I can shape into something beautiful.

Me: Who are your major literary influences?

Katherine: That’s a tough one because I’m such an avid reader that my influences are always evolving! I am a big fan of Hemingway’s bare bones style of writing. For thrillers, I love Ruth Ware, and for romance, Abby Jimenez. Other favorite authors include Joan Didion, Brit Bennett, Sarah Waters, Jack Kerouac, Celeste Ng, and Margaret Atwood. 

Me: As a former travel coordinator, what are some must-see locations? What about specifically in the Caribbean?

Katherine: I have missed travelling over the past year and can’t wait to get back to it! Some of my favorite places in the world, in no particular order: Mykonos, Greece; Bellagio, Italy; Koh Samui, Thailand; Palm Springs, CA; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 

I’ve spent a lot of time in the Bahamas, and really love Harbor Island. Getting there requires a tiny plane or boat (there’s a ferry from Nassau), but the pink sand beaches and quaint little town are totally worth the trip. 

Me: What are your literary goals and how do you measure your own success?

Katherine: I don’t have specific numbers or anything, but I want to share my stories with as many readers as I can reach! Like every other author on the planet, I would love to hit the NYT bestsellers list, and to see my books made into movies or whatever would be cool, but really I just want to keep writing. I feel so fortunate to get to do what I love for a living, and hope I can continue to do it for the rest of my life.

Purchase a copy of The Siren; it’s the perfect summer read!

***If you would like your book (or one you represent) considered for an upcoming Coffee Chat, please email melissaface2008@gmail.com.

Purchase a copy of I Love You More Than Coffee.

Happy Mother’s Day! A Special Coffee Chat with Author Rachel Medel Cabalse

Rachel Medel Cabalse

It’s May, the month for celebrating moms, and I am thrilled to have a coffee loving mom with me for this special coffee chat!  Rachel Cabalse and I met through social media when we teamed up for a fun coffee-themed book giveaway. Since then, Rachel and I have been cheering each other on from across the country as we spread the word about our debut books. Grab your favorite mug; fill it with something delicious, and join Rachel and me as we talk about coffee, motherhood, and enjoying the writing journey. 

Me: Describe your relationship with coffee. What is your go-to beverage? What about if you are relaxing? (haha!)

Rachel: My relationship with coffee is an ongoing love affair.  We have grown together over the years –  from being a child who just enjoyed the aroma as her parents brewed a pot every morning, to a young adult who used it solely for the caffeine element, to a budding entrepreneur who opened a kid-friendly coffee shop (Java Mama) back in 2013, and now full- circle as the parent whose children learned to pull a perfect double shot of espresso during the distance learning days of 2020 lockdown. My go-to coffee is usually black, unsweetened cold brew – or if I’m feeling frisky a cafe au lait. I don’t comprehend the last question.  😉

Me: When do you feel like a good mom?

Rachel: Very rarely. I am always worrying if I’m not enough, or at other times too much.  But maybe if I have to pinpoint those moments, it’s probably when I hear my kids giggle. Or, when I see them help each other out. Those moments where I am fully present, away from my phone or work, and could just focus on them are probably when I feel good enough.  

Me: What has been most surprising to you about motherhood?

Rachel: How much I learn from them. My kids have taught me to be patient and compassionate. Above all, they have made me a better listener which doesn’t come naturally to me. They see the world so pure; and, as they discover and ask questions, I gain new insight to things I would have never even wondered about before.  

Me: Ask your kids to describe you. What did they say? 

Rachel: 9- yr- old – “Kind, hard-worker, a never give up kind of person…yah like that.”

5 -yr -old – “She is so much fun and likes to play with me. I love her because she’s the best mom ever.”

Awww…thank you for making me do that exercise.  I’m feeling a little teary-eyed now – let’s go back to question 2.  My new answer is right now.  

Me: When did you first feel like a writer? When did you first refer to yourself publicly as a writer?

Rachel: I didn’t actually refer to myself publicly as a writer until my book was published and available for purchase.  That was November 3rd, 2020.  Honestly, I’m not certain I even feel like a writer now! 

Me: What was the first thing you ever wrote/published? How did you feel?

Rachel: The first thing I ever wrote was probably my Senior Honors Thesis on a study I did back in 2004.  It was titled, “IM Online: Instant Messaging Use Among College Students.”  Looking back now, especially knowing how much computer-mediated communication and social media has taken over our livelihood, it feels exciting to know I wrote about it nearly 20 years ago. My mentor actually utilized my findings and got published in the Communication Research Reports shortly after I graduated. It makes me feel accomplished, but not quite finished.  

Me: How did your current project move from idea to actual, tangible book?

Rachel: Lockdown 2020. With all of the extra time on my hands, and with the kids getting older, I wanted to complete the book while they could still relate and appreciate the story. I had been sitting on the manuscript for nearly 4 years (after Java Mama closed) – so if there was a time for this to become tangible, it was now.  

Me: Who is your book for? 

Rachel: My family and all the Java Mamas.

Me: What do you want to work on next?

Rachel: My book, This Mommy Needs Some Coffee, was such a heart story for my love of coffee and my kids (who I love a little more as Melissa Face puts it!) that it’s hard to even think about another project. If anything, it’d have to be something as enjoyable for the parents AND kiddos like this one was. Until then, I’m just going to enjoy this next stage of life with my “babies!”

Connect with Rachel:

You can find me on Instagram @thismommyneedsomecoffee; Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thismommyneedssomecoffee/ or online at linktr.ee/MommyNeedsCoffeeBook

Order your copy of I Love You More Than Coffee for Mother’s Day.

Bold and Strong: Coffee Chat with Author Trisha Faye

Trisha Faye

Trisha Faye and I have never met in person, but we connected years ago when she was editing an anthology, and I sent her a submission. Since then, we have floated in and out of the same writing circles, and this month we both have stories in the same Chicken Soup for the Soul collection! Grab a delicious drink, make yourself comfortable, and join us as we chat about story inspiration, justifying purchases, and much more!

Me: What are your earliest memories of being a writer?

Trisha: Let’s not talk about my earliest memories of being a writer. It wasn’t pretty. I remember an early college creative writing class. I don’t recall what I wrote about, but I entered class with my first story, and it got ripped to shreds! Young college students are not always the kindest with their critiques – at least these weren’t. And I was very bashful and had very thin skin. I never returned to that class. 

It was probably about twenty years later before story nuggets began pestering my brain. But I still didn’t feel confident. So, I settled. I started a little newsletter about herbs – growing them, using them in the kitchen, and crafting with them. I think the nonfiction element of the topic made it safer for me. I didn’t feel like I was venturing out into dangerous waters.

About 12 years ago, I moved to Texas. And the stories kept prodding me. Since they wouldn’t leave me alone, I decided that I’d better start following that writing muse and see where the journey took me. I ended up submitting some articles to our small local newspaper. As each one was accepted, my confidence slowly grew. I joined a local writer’s group. And with the practice, and the monthly feedback and critique (in a much friendlier manner than the early class experience) my skin gradually thickened and I kept writing and growing.

Me: Tell us a little about your writing routine and your workspace. What is essential for you?

Trisha: I don’t have a regular routine because I also have a part- time job, with hours that vary from week to week. So, I juggle writing around that. Early morning, before I head to work, I use some of that time to interact on Facebook or work on planning. I find that I write better in the morning – but not too early. I need that first hour or so to clear the cobwebs, so it works best to use that for tasks that I don’t need all the circuits working in unison.

Since I don’t work on the weekends, I try to use those two days to accomplish a lot. Sometimes I’m successful; sometimes I’m not. I think one thing I’ve learned over the past few years (with a lot of reminders about it from a dear friend!) is to be easier on myself and not beat myself up if I don’t accomplish everything I set forth to do. Sometimes we are harder on ourselves than we are on anyone else.

One thing that is essential for me is semi-quiet and peace. It doesn’t need to be absolutely silent, but when others in the household are blaring a TV all day long (I’m not mentioning any names!), it disrupts my thoughts. Once we cleared out a room for my ‘office’, so I wasn’t working in the main part of the house, my writing focus improved, and I became better at chipping away at all the projects I wanted to work on.

Me: What is the most unusual topic you’ve written about?

Trisha: I have a collection of journals that I’ve created. Three journals have been out for a while: My Historic Home Journal, My Museum Journal and My Family Heirloom Journal. Two others just became available last week: My Gratitude Journal and My Blessings Journal. But probably the most unusual topic I’ve written about will be in two others scheduled for this fall – My Cemetery Journal and Cemetery I Spy.

Yes, I’m the oddball in the family – the one that loves to spend time in old cemeteries, whether I have family members there or not. Luckily, here in Texas I fell in with a group of friends who also love to explore these remnants of our past. I’ve had an idea for a few cemetery books in relation to this, but I have a feeling that they may find themselves on the ‘B List’ of books that I don’t ever seem to find the time to work on. We’ll see. Time will tell on that topic.

Me: What is it like to publish an anthology? Any unusual experiences working with other writers?

Trisha: I’ve published four anthologies: In Celebration of Mothers, In Celebration of Sisters, Mothers of Angels and Mothers of Angels 2. That experience has been most interesting. What I’ve enjoyed most about it is meeting so many other phenomenal authors. I’ve been blessed and many have become treasured friends. You and I met through the Sisters anthology, with your story, A Sibling Thing, about your sister that you lost due to a car accident.

The Mothers of Angels anthologies are stories about losing children, in honor of my stepson that we lost to cancer at 23 years old. Those two books hold my heart, as it goes out to all the people who shared their pain and heartache with us in their stories.

Me: You have a story in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book that will be out later this month. Can you give us some hints about your story?

Trisha: Yes, I’m in the Be You volume that is releasing April 6. My story is ‘Seventeen Words’. It’s about how a phrase entered my life and ended up shaping many of my actions.

“Let go of anything inauthentic and all activities that do not mirror your brightest intentions for yourself.”

In my story, I talk about how this phrase entered my life and how it came to mean so much to me. I started using these seventeen words as a magnifying glass for what I wanted. Those words changed so much in my life. It ended the five virtual farms I had going at the time – Farmville, Farmtown, and I don’t recall all the names. But I sat on the computer so many hours of the day, farming, farming, farming – while a whole yard in back sat dormant and ignored. These words forced me to look at my life and examine so many aspects, measuring them against this yardstick of authenticity.

Me: What do you like about Chicken Soup and other story collections?

Trisha: As a reader I enjoy the Chicken Soup collections because they have such a variety of stories in each volume. Plus, they’re short enough that you can sit and read a few stories, and then sit the book down and continue on with other tasks, not needing large segments of time to read.

As a writer, I like the topics that they have. In my venture to get more acceptances (I’m still far, far, far behind how many stories you’ve had accepted by them!), it keeps my mind spinning to think of ideas to write about, and it keeps me striving to improve my writing.

Me: What are your biggest sources of inspiration?

Trisha: What I’ve been having a lot of fun with is writing historical fiction short stories based on items from the past. I’ve gathered items from different antique stores, such as books with the flyleaf inscribed by the owner of one hundred years ago. Or I have a collection of letters written by a soldier in World War 2 to his then girlfriend, who he ended up marrying until their deaths many years later. Sometimes it’s a photograph, or an embroidered dish towel and I simply think of who might have owned this, or who might have sat and lovingly stitched the dish towel or quilt square. And then I spin a tale about who I think might have been connected to this piece from the past, and what might have happened. And the story grows from there.

Or, am I simply trying to justify all the wondrous items that I purchase in antique stores and flea markets? Possibly.

Me: What do you enjoy outside of writing?

Trisha: Oh – so many ways to spend the days. I never get bored. There are grandchildren to visit (that I haven’t seen since Covid entered our lives). At home there’s the yard and the masses of flowers to tend to. I’ve given up on vegetables since moving to Texas. They just haven’t cooperated with me here. There’s crafting – stitchery, weaving, glass fusing, papermaking, soapmaking, so many things I enjoy creating. Although the past few years I think I’ve crafted more with words than fibers.

Me: Tell us about some upcoming projects or a piece you are currently writing. 

Trisha: I’m excited about a Christmas book I’m planning for 2021. I’m still researching and developing the characters I want to use to tell the story. I should begin writing it by the end of the month. It’s a story that I ran across while researching a short story that was set in Iowa. In Algona, Iowa, during World War 2, there was a POW camp there that housed several thousand German soldiers.

Several of the German POW’s created a nativity scene their first Christmas there and held a special Christmas Eve service, singing to God in their native tongue. The camp commander asked them to make a larger nativity scene for the next year. Four POWs worked all year on it. The war ended before they were quite done with it, so they stayed several months longer to finish it up. When it was completed, Christmas 1945, there was a special service, and they left the nativity scene to the town of Algona. All these years later, the nativity scene is still there and still viewed every year. Last year, 2020, was the first year that the display wasn’t open to the public because of Covid.

Me: What else would you like readers to know about you? What is the best way for them to find your work?

Trisha: I often joke that I was born on the cusp of Gemini/Cancer. My heart loves and nurtures with a true Cancer spirit. But my writing – my writing is pure flighty Gemini. Sometimes I wish I had one interest and passion and all my writing efforts went into that. But, alas, I don’t. There are so many things I like to dabble in with my writing. A little inspirational, a little bit for children, a lot about pieces from the past, a dab of this, and a smattering of that.

You can find out more about me at www.trishafaye.com. Or you can find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/trisha.faye.5/

I have a monthly newsletter – Trisha’s Tidbits – where I share publication news and story snippets. You can sign up for that here and get a free copy of Following Your Dreams, a workbook with reflections and affirmations. https://my.sendinblue.com/users/subscribe/js_id/2r4s4/id/2

Thank you for having me here today, Melissa. You asked some of the most interesting questions and I’m excited to be able to share with your readers.

Order a copy of I Love You More Than Coffee in time for Mother’s Day.

Bold and Strong: Coffee Chat with Author Heather Weidner

Author Heather Weidner

I am so happy to be chatting with Heather Weidner this month. Heather writes the Delanie Fitzgerald mystery series set in Virginia. Her new cozy series with vintage trailers and tiny houses, the Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries, launches in October 2021.

Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, and Deadly Southern Charm, and her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries.

She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Sisters in Crime – Chessie, Guppies, International Thriller Writers, and James River Writers.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

Through the years, she has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. Fill your mug with something delicious and join us as we chat about productive writing schedules, character inspiration, and research questions that you probably shouldn’t Google.

Me: When did you first feel like a writer? When did you first refer to yourself as one? 

Heather:I really felt like a writer when the first anthology arrived with my name and picture on it. That’s also probably when I first thought of myself as a published author. I’ve been writing since elementary school; I’ve always enjoyed writing.

Me: What was the first article or essay you published?

Heather: I had technical manuals and articles published for the day gig, but the first big article (with my byline) was a Christmas story published by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. About the same time, I sold some clues to a trivia game, and that had a byline, too.

Me: Describe your writing schedule.

Heather: I am a binge writer. I know that I am more productive if I write every day, but life often gets in the way. I try to do some writing (or revising/book marketing) every day. I decided when the work-from-home mandate went into effect because of the pandemic, I would use my commute time to write. It has been a productive year. I finished two novels, started a third, finished two short stories, and finished a novella. I also get up at five every morning.

Me: What are some items you must have in your work space? 

Heather: My dogs. They are the fuzzy muses. We have two Jack Russell Terriers (Disney and Riley). They help me plot murder, and they listen as I work out dialogue. I also have to have chocolate, Dr. Pepper, and iced coffee.

Me: What do you enjoy about being a member of different writing groups?

Heather:  I love my writing groups. Writing is mostly a solitary effort. My writer friends are so generous with their time, energy, and encouragement. It is so helpful to know that you’re not alone.

Me: You have written many mysteries. What is your inspiration for those? Have you ever faced a real-life mystery? Unusual or unexplainable situation? 

Heather: I’m a CK (Cop’s Kid). I thought everyone talked about murder and mayhem at the dinner table. I didn’t realize that wasn’t the case. My dad is a retired police captain, but he’s still my best resource. There are just some things you don’t want to Google. “Hey, Dad, what does a meth lab smell like? How long would a body stay submerged?” I have loved Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew since childhood, so I’ve always been on the lookout for mysteries. When I was four, I uncovered reindeer tracks in the snow on our front porch. (Sadly, the culprit was the German Shepherd next door, and not Santa’s crew.) I work in IT (software testing and governance). Software testing is rife with mysteries that have to be solved daily.

Me: I love your character Delanie. Is she based on anyone you know in real life? 

Heather: Most of my characters are based on traits or characteristics from multiple sources. Delanie’s a sassy PI who runs toward danger. She does things that I would never think to do in real-life. I like to imagine her as a grown-up Nancy Drew. (All of my sleuths are redheads because I write what I know.)

Me: What is the best advice about writing you have ever received? 

Heather: Don’t give up. If you want to be a published author, you need to persevere. Writing is work, and you have to put the time in to build your skills and your audience.

Me:  What is the nicest/coolest thing a reader has ever said to you? 

Heather: “I read your book in one night. When does the next one come out?”

Me: What are you currently working on?

Heather: I have a three-book deal for my latest cozy mystery. It’s set in a vintage trailer park near Charlottesville. The resort also has tiny houses. Jules Keene, the owner, turned a traditional campground into an upscale resort for the glamping craze. This launches in October. I’m working on the fourth Delanie mystery and an idea for a new cozy set at the beach. I have a new Mutt Mystery (dog-themed) novella coming out this year, and I’m working on a short story project with a bunch of cool authors called Mystery by the Glass.

Me: What is the best way for readers to connect with you and find your work? 

Heather: My books are available at your favorite book store or retailer. My website is http://heatherweidner.com. Hop over to my website and blog and drop me a message. I’d love to hear from you.

Purchase a Delanie Fitzgerald mystery here 

Order your copy of I Love You More Than Coffee here.

Bold and Strong: Coffee Chat with Zibby Owens

Zibby Owens, host of Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books podcast

In recent months, Zibby Owens, creator and host of the award-winning podcast Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books, has offered book recommendations on Good Morning America and had her upcoming anthology included in Town & Country’s list of 28 Must-Read Books of Winter 2021. Zibby is a fan of strong voices and excellent writing, and she is an advocate for busy moms everywhere. She recently created Moms Don’t Have Time To Lose Weight  – a podcast and private support group on Instagram for women who simply want to feel better about their bodies.

I am so happy to have spent a little time chatting with Zibby this month about the power of a good book, what she would do with an extra hour each day, and her upcoming anthology that will be raising money for a cause so close to her heart. Fill your mug with something yummy, and find time to read our interview!

Me: Are you a regular coffee drinker? What is your favorite beverage?
Zibby: YES. Three cups a day. Hard to admit it because in my head I only drink two a day, but I almost always make an exception for that third cup, so….  I prefer k-cup produced coffee at home to store-bought, although I typically drink Starbucks Breakfast Blend. Coffee is my favorite beverage. By far! 

Me: You’ve been called a book influencer and a top literary podcast host, among many other impressive titles. Which professional accomplishment are you most proud of? 
Zibby: I’m most proud of being able to help 60+ amazing authors create original works during the pandemic. While I released them on my website at the time, I’m now getting them out into the world in anthology form in Moms Don’t Have Time To: A Quarantine Anthology. I’m also proud of the fact that I could interview Alicia Keys without being so star-struck that I clammed up!

Me: Describe an early childhood experience or relationship with a book that influenced your love of reading.
Zibby: I remember finishing Charlotte’s Web, hiding in my bathroom after my parents had put me to bed, and crying. I didn’t realize how much books could make me feel until that moment (at age 8!), and I haven’t stopped craving that connection since.

Me: Moms barely have time to go to the bathroom, much less find long stretches of time for uninterrupted reading. When do you make time to read? How do you prioritize yourself and other activities you enjoy?
Zibby: Who says my reading time isn’t interrupted?!?! I’m interrupted constantly! But I just have to get back to it. I don’t lounge on the sofa mid-day reading. It’s more that I’m pacing outside the kids’ rooms while they protest bedtime each night for about an hour with a book in hand, reading as I walk in circles, or I’m listening to an audiobook in the car driving them somewhere, or I read at my desk while they’re in school. I also treat myself to a book before bed every night once they finally fall asleep. And, I’m divorced and remarried, so every other weekend I have a lot more time to myself to read. 

Me: If you were gifted an extra hour of free time at the end of each day, how would you spend it? 
Zibby: Replying to more emails. I hate when they pile up, and I wake up to an overflowing inbox. But if I’d gotten everything done (ha!)…. I’d spend it cuddled up next to my husband watching a movie or TV show. I can’t even remember the last time we did that!

Me: Why is the anthology important to you? What would you like readers to know about it?
Zibby: First of all, I’m donating all the proceeds to the Susan Felice Owens Program for COVID-19 Vaccine Research, so I’m trying to get the word out to get us all a vaccine option. My mother-in-law passed away from COVID last summer in a horrific six-week battle with it, and I want to spare other families from going through that. Also, it’s a work I’m really proud of. The words of these authors will help other readers out there connect, feel less alone, and, perhaps like the young me crying in my bathroom, feel emotions that sustain them. It’s a deeply personal work that exemplifies why I do everything I do: to connect readers to authors, to help the right person find the right story for them at the right time, and to help busy people –like moms! —  fit more reading into their lives. 

Moms Don’t Have Time To: A Quarantine Anthology will be available February 12, 2021. Order your copy here.

Purchase I Love You More Than Coffee by Melissa Face here.