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Challenge Host Interview Series: What’s on Your Bookshelf?

Always Write Challenge Interview Series #20

Welcome to Always Write. I am your hostess, Marsha Ingrao, creator, and editor of my blog, Always Write, a blog to reach and befriend like-minded bloggers.

Today I welcome Debbie – Deb’s World, Donna –Retirement Reflections, Jo – And Anyways, Sue – Women Living Well After Fifty as my guest challenge hosts of “What’s on Your Bookshelf?” Good thing they don’t want to know “What’s in My Wallet?” That could be embarrassing.

“What’s on Your Bookshelf?” Photo by Jo

What’s to Love About Challenges?

The benefits of joining writing, reading and photo challenges are:

  • Showcase your photography and writing.
  • Be inspired to create more diverse posts.
  • Challenge yourself to get creative with the weekly prompts.
  • Make new blogger friends.
  • Build a blogger community.
  • Find great books to read.
  • Form relationships with the authors.

Welcome Debbie, Donna, Jo, and Sue

Please make our four guests, listed in true teacher form – alphabetical order, feel right at home here by leaving them lots of comments and following the links to visit their blogs.

Blogging friends cooking together based on the books they read by Zoom

Let’s meet our guests.

Donna Connolly lived in Beijing, China, for fourteen years. Leaving international life behind, she and her husband retired to Vancouver Island, Canada, in June 2015. To document this transition, Donna initiated Retirement Reflections. Her favourite part of blogging is the interaction with others.

Donna and Sue

You can connect with Donna in the comment section below or via the following social media sites. She would love to hear from you.
Blog •  Twitter • Linked In • Pinterest • Instagram

Sue Loncaric is an Australian Over 50 lifestyle blogger, certified health and life coach for women and the founder of Women Living Well After 50.  She is a qualified Personal Trainer & Group Fitness Instructor and takes classes for Over 50 Women in the Strong Healthy Women Virtual Studio.

In 2020 Sue fulfilled a dream of starting the Conversations with Women Living Well After 50 podcast interviewing and sharing stories from women who are Living Well.

Sue is passionate about living a full and active life. Her mission is to encourage and inspire women Over 50 to live a fit, fabulous, healthier and happier lifestyle by guiding them to realise their full potential.

Sue’s motto is ‘Make it Happen because life is too short to wait”.

You can meet up with Sue on the following platforms.

Blog   Facebook Group   Instagram   Podcast

Debbie Harris suffered a tragic accident at age 17, resulting in a Bravery Award from the Queen. That didn’t deter her from travelling the world.  A young retiree, after being made redundant from her 22-year career managing education programs in a men’s correctional centre, she now loves reading, blogging, riding her e-bike and a good cup of tea! Her four grandchildren call her Granny Debs.

You can find Deb here:

Blog  Facebook  Instagram Twitter

Jo Tracey is an unapologetic daydreamer, eternal optimist, and confirmed morning person and juggles a day job in the financial sector with writing contemporary romance, women’s fiction, cosy crime, and what she likes to call foodie-lit.

When she isn’t writing or day jobbing, Jo loves baking, reading, long walks along the beach, posting way too many photos of sunrises on Instagram and dreaming of the next destination and the next story.

Linking up with Donna from Retirement Reflections and her co-host Deb The Widow Badass Blog in their #whatsonyourplateblogchallenge. Check out also contributions from my stunning bookclub buddies Sue and Deb.” Jo

Jo’s life goals (apart from being a world-famous author) are to be an extra on Midsomer Murders and to cook her way through Nigella’s books.

She’d love you to drop by at:

Blog Foodie Blog  Author Website  Facebook  Instagram

How did you connect? 
            We all met through our blogs. Sue previously co-hosted a weekly blog linkup          series, Midlife Share the Love. Most of us connected there.

We are all spread out across a large geographical distance. Jo and Sue live 170 km (nearly 106 miles) apart in south-east Queensland (Buderim and Surfers Paradise, Australia). They live 1400+ km (870 miles) away from Debbie (Tumbarumba, Australia, and Donna’s located over 11,900 km (7,394 miles) from there (Vancouver Island, Canada). Jo, Sue and Debbie have all met in person. So far, Donna has only met Sue in person but has big plans to meet Debbie and Jo in real life as well!

Deb’s idea of a white Christmas for Sunday Stills. I could live with this, couldn’t you?

At the beginning of the pandemic, we began to have regular Zoom calls together. This branched out to us taking an online group photography class together. We found that we spoke a lot about books in our online meetings, so hey presto, an online book club was formed. In our book club, we’ve been reading our way through the Brontë sister’s catalogue. We all read a section of the book, meet to discuss, and repeat.

At the end of each book, we do a Zoom-baking session inspired by the book. We’ve just finished Charlotte Brontë’s The Professor and baked Yorkshire Parkin. Jo always publishes the recipes on her baking site.

I couldn’t find Yorkshire Parkin, but this delicious looking salad “Lucy Snowe eats upon her arrival in Villette is a baked pear…,” Jo’s recipe

Why did you begin hosting ‘What’s On Your Bookshelf (WOYBS)?’ 
In August 2021 we started WOYBS is an online opportunity for readers to share their favourite books, recent reads, or anything bookish-related. Participants can join in via the comments, social media (#whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge) or by linking a post of their own.

We just published our sixth post in this series (links are in the introduction). The four of us have been delighted by the engagement and the quality of responses. We have all received great book ideas and have had extra opportunities to discuss novels that we love. For all of us, it’s about promoting the enjoyment of books and encouraging others to do the same – and maybe even to read outside their usual genre.

photo by Jo from And Anyways

How did you decide to create/host this challenge?
This challenge piggybacks on ‘What’s On Your Plate’ hosted in part by the Widow Badass. As the four of us each have a deep love of reading, are in a book club together and enjoy a new challenge, it was a natural fit.

Mushroom and Spinach Quiche. Sue added mushrooms. They look gorgeous, but I’d have to take them out.

Tell us about your bookshelves? Do you buy books, shop at antique stores, order Kindle copies, go to the library, borrow from a friend, or acquire them some other way?

No wonder Donna goes to the library. I wonder how they read the titles from the upper shelves, not to mention getting the books down!

We each have slightly different styles. Sue predominantly downloads online books. Donna typically borrows from the library. Jo is a combo of all of the above and owns more cookbooks than anyone else that we know. Deb also employs a combination of all of the above, including the occasional audiobook thrown in for good measure – sometimes even at 1.3x speed!

Comfort reading by Jo

What is your purpose in hosting the challenge? What’s on Your Bookshelf is not just for book reviews, the goals of WOYBS are to keep it simple, share the love of books and reading and inspire others with great book recommendations.

Cookie the Pom Joins Book Club (photo courtesy of @cookiethepom).

How do you follow up with your participants? We have recently added InLinkz to make post sharing even easier. Click link to read some of our contributors’ posts.

quote from Sue’s post explaining their Link Party.

Shout Outs to Blogging Heroes

Did any other bloggers influence What’s On Your Bookshelf?
Absolutely. As mentioned above, ‘What’s On Your Bookshelf’ is partly a spin-off of ‘What’s On Your Plate,’ hosted by Widow Badass and Retirement Reflections. What’s On Your Plate was inspired by A Virtual Tea Party hosted by Curls & Skirls and Zimmerbitch. There is now ‘What’s In Your Glass‘ hosted by Picture Retirement and ‘What’s on Your Christmas Menu‘ hosted by Grammy’s Grid. The connections have been awesome!


What: What’s On Your Bookshelf (#whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge).
When: Third Thursday PM (Northern Hemisphere)/ Third Friday AM (Southern Hemisphere).
Why: Share a love of reading.
Where: Blog, Blog Comments, Instagram or other Social Media.
Who: This linkup is open to everyone.
How: You can share in the comments, with a blog post, or on other social media of your choice. Include the hashtag #Whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge so that we can find you and include your link in our posts.

Be a proud contributor to #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge

To show our appreciation to all participants, contributors are welcome to display this badge on their blog, website or social media.

What's on your bookshelf contributor badge

Thank You for Joining Today

It’s been a pleasure getting to know the four of you better through your blogs and over Zoom. I’ve been honored to have you all as my guests today and I look forward to participating in more of your challenges in the future.

Now it’s your turn

Please leave a comment for Deb, Donna, Jo, Sue, and me, Marsha your humble, can’t-live-without-you hostess. Be sure to follow some of the links to meet their favorite people. They would love for you to join in this fun challenge and inspire others to read great books. Thanks so much for all your comments.

119 replies »

  1. Hi Marsha – great to meet you and I do know some of the others … I love the idea of books and cooks – then creating ideas from them … I’ll enjoy future posts – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a terrific post and such wonderful women! How great that they’ve all become blogging friends It’s nice to learn more about Donna, Sue, Debbie and Jo and I enjoyed reading their stories. Also, thanks to Donna for bringing me to your blog! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah Marsha, what a great talent you have in bringing people together like this for all of us to get to know more too. Thank you! I have been following each of the bloggers for at least 5 years if not more…and being an Aussie blogger with my link up (life this week) which you kindly shared a while back, it’s another way of getting to know people even more.

    I have not met any of them in person, the Australian one would be more likely for me…sorry Donna, but we are all on-line friends in a number of mediums.

    I do believe, as with you and Terri and others, I could have a conversation with no awkward pauses at all because of blogging to connect.

    That is my motto still.

    Love your work, Marsha…and of course, the work of Jo, Deb, Donna and Sue as blogging connections and friends.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the great comment, Denyse. yes, these are great friends that we have in common. I’m going to get back and share links ASAP. You are so kinds. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy to be the 100th comment! Much enjoyed this post. Music to MY ears. Lovely to read the background to it all and how distance matters naught when like minded people get together.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a wonderful, creative bunch of women (you, too, Marsha) and such a fun interview! I feel like I know them all personally as they all have contributed to Sunday Stills with their creative photos and posts over the years. Sue and I have been guests on each others’ blogs and we both have a deep love for fitness and wellness. I met Donna in person a few years ago in Palm Desert with two other bloggers, Janis and Kathy. Jo and I haven’t interacted too often but her blog is amazing. If Debbie and I ever met in person, we would be fast friends since we seem to have just about everything in common. I love and admire all of their creative energy and ideas that help bring bloggers together and forge relationships we never expected. A talented group of women you curated together, Marsha! Bravo!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hi Marsha – what a wonderful post – fully occupied me as I happily read through. Love the books, and the food … and I’d love to do more but I’m always happy to see and learn … I will join you anon … cheers and great to see Donna, Sue, Jo and Deb here too … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you so much, Hilary. I’m so glad you joined in. It was a joy to get to know all four of them better. Debbie wrote a story for my Story Chat Writing Event last year as part of her being BOLD. I have known Donna for a while just doing challenges. I didn’t know Sue or Jo before, and was delighted to get to know them better. They are an amazing foursome. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  7. It’s lovely to see all five of my blog friends in one post: Marsha, Donna, Sue, Jo and Deb. Your Q and As made me smile. The WOYP and WOYB blog challenges are fantastic ideas. Good books, good food, good company on a regular basis. I try to join when I can. Thank you all for hosting. Have a wonderful week!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Thanks so much for having us Marsha and I’m loving all the comments! I know I’m enjoying this phase of my blogging with my co-hosts and meeting people like you from all over the world makes it even better. I agree challenges have so much to offer and we can all learn from each other. As you know random connections can move into something so unexpectedly good sometimes.I have shared your post on my blog today.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It was great to meet some of your blogging buddies and learn how you’re interconnected. I have met some incredible bloggers in my nearly three years in the blogosphere.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I love how enthusiastic Donna, Jo, Deb and Sue are about their various challenge and link parties. While a lot of us are slowing down with our blogging, they’re picking up the pace – and also sharing the love by encouraging others to participate. Blogging’s all about community and they’re certainly modelling that big time!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. That was such a fun interview! I have only met Donna IRL, but I feel as if I know the others as well (isn’t that the fabulous thing about blogging?). I admit that I’m a reader – not a writer – of book reviews, and really appreciate when others take the time to write them. I’ve discovered so many great books to read from their link-up. I love the enthusiasm these four bring to their blogs and the creativity they inspire. Well done!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Janis, I feel fortunate to have met all of my three blogging partners in crime but the wonderful thing about blogging is that you can get to know someone just as well through their blog as in IRL. I’m not very good at writing reviews but I’m giving it a try. I love our link party because I find so many new books to discover, although it might take a life time to read them all! I hope you join us next month for WOYBS. We are also having a WOTY link party last Friday of each month. To keep the focus on our WOTY or if you don’t have one our goals/intentions for the year. Hope to see you there. x

      Liked by 1 person

  12. What a fun post and introduction to the wonderful woman you always talk about! IMPRESSIVE and it makes me want to drop everything, pick up the phone and grab a cuppa and book and chat with y’all! Thanks sharing your friends in such a creative way! Nice job!💖👏👏👏

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Hi Marsha, thank you for the shout-out. That was very kind of you. I piggybacked off the group’s success with WOYBS and WOYP with What’s In Your Glass for the holidays. I don’t know if I will turn it into a regular ‘thing’, but I’m definitely considering it. These gals are each an inspiration in their own right, but when they put their heads together, watch out!

    Good food, good book, something good in a glass. Who could ask for more? Thanks for sharing your interview with these lovely ladies.

    I’m guessing that library is in Vancouver. It looks very familiar.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are so right about the synergy going on in that group. They are an inspiration. You should all join forces! Of course, regular challenges mean lots of work following up and responding to all of them, but it does make for a dynamic representation. 🙂 Sort of a Lens Artists effect for food, drink and books!

      Liked by 3 people

    • Hi, Suzanne – I hope that you do post more ‘What’s In Your Glass’ adventures. They are fun and inspirational! I absolutely love libraries and old book stores. The photo here is a free download from Unsplash. I believe that it was taken in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (althouogh there is a very similar looking library shelf structrure in Seoul, South Korea). I make it my mission to visit unique librarries and bookstores whenever I travel.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Suzanne, I missed your What’s In your Glass for the holidays but it shows there are endless possibilties with these types of challenges. Perhaps you could do one for each season?? Just a thought. Enjoy your week, Suzanne and thanks for the lovely comments about our group. x


  14. Lovely interview, Marsha – I adore that Zoom photo! These four are such creative souls sharing the fun, informative, interacting, satisfying, and inspiring passions of blogging and reading. I hope to join in challenges at some point in the distant future, when I manage to read (or cook, well, uuh, eat) more! 🙂 Right now, I try to stick to creating one blog a week and I have plenty of material to share.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Wonderful post! Love all these challenges…it can be difficult to find blog inspiration during these times of shutdown and lockdown and I look forward to the WOYBS challenge posts, even if I don’t always have something to contribute.


    Liked by 4 people

  16. Reblogged this on Retirement Reflections and commented:

    Thank you to Marsha Ingrao from Always Write for including ‘What’s On Your Bookshelf’ in her Challenge Interview Series. It was great fun sharing our stories with her. Marsha’s continued support/recognition of other bloggers is so appreciated.
    Comments are closed on this site. Please drop over to Marsha’s. I’d look forward to chatting with you there!

    Liked by 2 people




Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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