I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Lavern Winters (aka Grandma Peachy) to talk about life, liberty, and other such things.
LW: I want to thank you for inviting me here to talk with you. I’m so used to interviewing authors that it’s exciting for me to have someone want to interview me.
MED: It’s my pleasure, Lavern, I’ve always admired your dedication and involvement in the Indie Author movement. Please, tell me a little about your book reviews.
LW: Peachy’s Insights on WordPress is the place I review books I enjoyed reading plus I take requests for reviews. Check the Book Review Policy page for details. If I can’t give a book a 3 out of 5 rating I won’t post a review, instead I will contact the author personally and tell them why I couldn’t give it a better review.
MED: That’s generous of you. Are there excerpts from any particular reviews that you’d like to share with us today?
Excerpt from Grandma Peachy’s review of Taken by the Huntsman by Mistral Dawn:
“The two main plot lines revolve around finding the pixie child killer and convincing Cassie to remain in the Faerie realm. There is a lot of romance and intrigue in the book. One might wonder at the actions of Cadeyrn and the ethical nature of kidnapping a woman then trying to convince her that she really belongs in the land of fae rather than mortal earth. Adventures in attempting to escape have a profound effect on Cassie. I felt for both the main characters on both sides of a dilemma. Ms. Dawn did a wonderful job developing the characters and the world. I love her main characters and felt they were well matched. The two plot lines were skillfully interwoven and made for an entertaining and captivating read. The book is a stand alone story, complete without that niggling cliff hanger.”
Excerpt from the review of Blade of the Destroyer by Andy Peloquin.
“One of the first things I noticed was the technique the author used to describe the setting. The main character’s impressions and reactions to his environment set the scene while developing the character himself. Instead of just describing the filth and stench of the poorest parts of town we read how the Hunter feels about his surroundings. We feel his reaction of disgust for the filth and stench, yet having compassion on the very poorest people who inhabit this part of town. He appreciates the beauty and sweetness in the air of the wealthiest neighborhoods, while despising the wealth and wealthy. ”
Excerpt from the review of The Sacrificial Wolf by S. Richard Ehredt
“The main character, Agent David Callen, is a spy and assassin working for the U.S. government. Political corruption goes to the highest levels and in David’s line of work few people can be trusted. The story takes you from Washington, DC to Columbia, Mexico, and Jamaica. The Sacrificial Wolf was exciting and captivated my attention from the very first chapter through to the very end. There are a number of twists in the story that kept me on the edge of my seat. At one point I was telling the characters, “no, no, you can’t do that he’s on your side.” I really was drawn into the story. There are heart pounding scenes, heart breaking scenes, and scenes that just made me angry.”
MED: Please take 5 minutes and tell us your life story in as much detail as possible.
LW: Five minutes! How can anyone tell their life story in five minutes? I grew up an only child with parents from two generations. My dad was 22 years older than my mom. I was a happy, well behaved child, and a good student. I married my first husband right out of high school and those were the darkest years of my young adulthood. After divorcing him and a second husband of 5 months, I went back to college, and found the true love of my life. We married, I took 8 years to finish my degree, in that time I had 3 of our four kids and as soon as I graduated discovered I was pregnant with number four. I worked to support our family and my husband was a stay at home dad. He raised the kids and it was a good arrangement for us. He was the third of four kids in his family and I grew up an only child. There is no way I would have done as good a job as he did. They’ve all turned out to be exceptional adults. We used to have a joke that whoever left had to take the kids. They’re all grown up and now, he works, and I’m retired. I found hobbies that I love and keep myself quite busy quilting, reading, and blogging doing my part to help and support indie authors.
MED: Where are you from?
LW: Are we talking about now? I live in a small town in eastern Nebraska, but I’m not from anywhere. I grew up in four states having attended two elementary schools, two junior highs, and two high schools. As an adult I’ve lived in four different states. So there is no place that I call my hometown. I’m from wherever I happen to live and for now I’ve got roots right here in Nebraska.
MED: What does friendship mean to you?
LW: Friendship is special to me. I have three women I consider true friends. I’ve also recently been in touch with a gentleman that I worked with years ago and have always considered a good friend. I don’t easily make friends in face to face relationships. It takes a lot of work and trust but I’ve always treasured those friendships I have. There is a short poem that I believe is quite true. I don’t know the author. “True friends like diamonds, are precious and rare. False ones, like autumn leaves are found everywhere.” True friends do not judge you, even if they don’t agree. Their love is unconditional and they will be there for you if at all possible. Sometime life can prevent being there in person. When one of my closest friends lost her son I couldn’t travel because I was still recovering from surgery, but I would have been there if I could have. Definitely with her in prayer. She was there for me when my mom died.
MED: Please tell us a little about yourself: What are your favorite flowers? What is your education and family life like?
LW: I refer to myself as a perpetual mom and chronic grandma. I adopt people as family easily. I love people and though I am actually an introvert, I’ve learned to not let my shyness rule my life. Almost all of my socializing is virtual. I don’t care to be in a crowd of people. I prefer just one person at a time and even then I don’t have friends that I regularly meet up with.
I love flowers of all sorts, but one of the flowers I really like is lilacs. We had lilac bushes behind one of the houses we lived in when I was child and loved the smell, I still do. The last couple places I’ve lived and the where I current live have all had at least one lilac bush.
Education, I really got the wrong degrees. I have a Bachelor of Accountancy and a Masters of Business Administration and Accounting. I was good at math and numbers so went for that degree. It requires more organization skills than I’ve been able to muster. I never wanted to be a CPA, hours are just too long, so I did audit related jobs for most of my career. It was stressful but I muddled through and was good at it. I should have gone into counseling, I’m a good listener and quite empathetic, people tend to tell me their troubles, even strangers.
Family life if good. My second oldest child, Jen, has lived with us since her oldest was just a few months old. She now has two children and has remarried to a wonderful man who fits in so well with our family. We’ve known him since he was a youth, he is her cousin’s best friend and spent a lot of holidays with the Winters family. I knew even then that he wanted to be part of my family. It just took a few years and false starts for both of them to realize that they were meant for each other. I love having the extended family all in one house like used to be common in generations past.
Another thing about myself, I’ve taught myself how to quilt in the past 8 years. I never knew it would be such an enjoyable hobby. For all of my working life I never had a real hobby, I read, voraciously, but nothing else. Then I decided to make a quilt for my granddaughter, knowing virtually nothing about quilting. After the first one and a lot of reading and watching videos I was hooked. My quilts aren’t show quality, but, I love making them just the same and my family love getting them even if they aren’t professionally made.
MED: How long have you been reviewing or blogging? What inspired you to review your first book / write your first blog?
LW: I’m pretty new to blogging and book reviews. I started my blog in June of 2015 as a place to express my opinions. It didn’t take long before I started writing posts about indie authors and by August first I posted my first review on my blog. I’d been reviewing on Amazon the books I read but wanted to have my reviews reach my friends and acquaintances and anyone else I could get to read my blog. Once I decided to do book reviews on my blog I joined a review team for Scarlett Finn and her book Take a Risk was the first one I published on WordPress. It was a genre that was new to me and I wanted to expand my repertoire.
MED: Please tell us, what are the Top 5 books you read in 2015?
LW: I’ve read so many good books by indie authors this year that it’s hard to pick just five. But here in no particular order than as I can remember them are five that I really enjoyed. Some are part of a series that I read or am looking forward to reading the rest. I won’t include any of my resident author’s books, that would seem a little too biased.
- Spirit of the Lone Horse by Ani Manjikian
- Blade of the Destroyer by Andy Peloquin
- The Sacrificial Wolf by Scot Ehredt
- Fallen Angels series by Julie Nicholls (Demon Within, Angel Within, Ascension Within)
- Taken by the Huntsman by Mistral Dawn (Also Intrigue in the Summer Court and Bound by the Summer Prince)
MED: And please, what are the Top 5 books you want to read in the New Year (2016)?
LW: Not sure that top read is the best term but here are five that I do want to read this year.
- Crown of Stones series by C.L. Schneider
- Captivated by the Winter King by Mistral Dawn
- Handbook for the Criminally Insane by B.K. Brain
- Hedge King in Winter by Michael Dellert
- Reluctant Suspicion by Scarlett Finn
I’m also hoping that Andy Peloquin publishes the second book in his Last of the Bucelarii series.
MED: What book are you reading now?
LW: I’ve just started a mafia book called Miles Away by Addison Kline. (Actually I’ve finished it now 🙂 )
MED: As a book reviewer, do you have any advice for writers?
LW: Never stop writing. Don’t be discouraged by bad reviews. If they are honest and give you good reasons for not liking your book, use that information to improve your writing. Ignore the uninformative rude, hateful reviews because there is going to be a few of those now and again but they aren’t helpful. Someone will appreciate your work so keep on letting those characters talk to you and tell their story.
MED: How long have you been a member of Author Promo Co-Op?
LW: I don’t know exactly when I joined APC, I do know that it was earlier in 2015.
MED: What do you like most about being a member of Author Promo Co-Op?
LW: When my resident author introduced me to members of APC through a couple of FB events for authors I found the indie author community to be much like my quilting groups. They were supportive and helpful of other authors and I love that about the group. They’ve accepted me, a non-author, as part of the family and I’ve adopted them into my family. I like being the adoptive mom of so many talented story tellers. I like being a part of promoting and finding things to share that someone can use to improve their story telling.
MED: What is your most treasured memory?
LW: My most treasured memory is of the last time I saw my mom. She had beautiful long hair that I loved to comb when I was a child. The last time I saw her I combed and braided her hair before I left because she was going to a dance at the senior center. I lived 3 hours away so didn’t get to see her very often. She died the week before we had planned a trip to visit her for the Labor Day Weekend. Remembering the last thing I did for her was something that I had always loved doing is very special. To me it was a God arranged moment that He knew I would treasure.
MED: How can we follow your book reviews? (links to blog, twitter, facebook, amazon author, and other pages)
I can be found on Twitter @GrandmaPeachy
On Facebook, I have a new profile just for authors to post promotional and other things (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010522063800)
And a page on my personal FB profile that I use as well (https://www.facebook.com/grandmapeachy/?ref=hl)
I really appreciate the time you took to speak with me, Lavern. Best of luck with your reviewing, and thanks so much for your support for the Indie Author movement!