Archive for ‘ArmchairBEA’

June 7th, 2012

Beyond the Blog- The Blog Inspires One to Write About a Convicted Murderer.

by Gwen


Today’s topic asks what we are doing beyond the blog, whether it be monitizing, writing articles for pay, going to events or whatever crazy places you blog has led you to reach out.

Chew & Digest Books and my other blog have given me so many opportunities. There have been blogging conferences, wonderful books, sponsored posts, relationships with people I never would have met in real life, new career paths, etc.

What I never thought a book blog would do was bring me face-to-face with a man sitting on death row for the murder of his brother and parents.

Let’s back up a minute.  I love non-fiction, especially historical crime like the work of Erik Larson.  The idea of writing history as riveting as he does seems so daunting. The guy not only has writing talent, but amazing research skills. Still, there is one story that has stuck out in my mind for years. It was a story that I had a tangential connection to and no one has written about it.

You see, I grew up across the street from a boy that later went on to brutally murder his family. It is easy to look back now and say he was a bully as a boy and something about him wasn’t right, but none of us would have thought he would go that far. Most of us had moved away, grown up, been long gone by the time it happened.

Still, when I read the story in the news over a decade ago it hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew him. I grew up with him. My dad almost throttled him when he knocked me off my powder blue banana-seat bike.

Over the years, there has been this tug to learn more about this story. Earlier this year, that tug turned into something stronger, a sort of this is the story that you need to write yank. That yank has led to research and talks with lawyers, clerks, other neighbors, an editor, an agent, and one day soon, it will lead me into a maximum security prison to meet the boy that used to call me runt that grew into the man that did horrible things.

This is where your blog can lead you. It can lead you to the story that you were meant to tell.


June 4th, 2012

Blogaversary and Welcome to Armchair BEA

by Gwen


While many are in New York at Book Expo America, some of us are having our own conventions from the comfort of our armchairs. Check out more on Armchair BEA or settle back and let me answer a few questions that the we have been asked so that everyone can get to know each other a wee bit better.

murphy n me2

Howdy my name is Gwen. That’s me, the one above the dog. (The dog’s name is Murphy Grace if you are interested) Four years ago yesterday, I decided that my book reviews were too scattered all over the internet and I really wanted to be able to find them in one place. A bit later I realized that I wasn’t the only book blogger out there and haven’t really looked back since.

Chew & Digest Books was chosen as the name in tribute to my high school English teacher, Sister Anne, who always started the class with, “Chew and digest the following…”

Insert awkward segue to something you might not know about me here Smile

Lately, blogging has sort of taken a back seat to a new craze with gardening. You may have read about it with my review of Mini Farming. The thing that you may not know about me unless you really get to know me….I get a little crazy about animals. Growing up in Southern California, I just didn’t get to be in tune with nature. Once I moved out of the area and got to see so many wonderful creatures with my own eyes…well, I have never gotten over it. I squee with every squirrel, Elk, goat, and woodpecker.

Lately, this fine family has taken up residence in my yard.

3 owls


I have been glued to the bedroom window for over a week now and the excitement hasn’t worn off. The only time I really take a break is when ordering Owl books to try and confirm which kind they actually are. We still don’t know for sure, but if you ever need books on Owls, I am your source.

Let’s see, I am meant to be answering questions, not going on about the owls again. Which I can see out the window as I type this, just saying.

Next question- What literary location would you most like to visit?

That is an easy one. I have always wanted to go to Ireland, never was specific, just Ireland. Earlier this year, I read On an Irish Island by Robert Kanigel and he focused on the cultural and literary history of the Great Blasket, an island off the west coast of Ireland. Ever since I have dreamed of going there. The writers that came out of that tiny island were amazing and the story of the Great Blasket itself is enchanting and sad. (note: I would have loved to post my review here, but since it hasn’t been published in the paper yet, I can’t)

I’ve blabbed on enough, one last question- Where do you see your Blog in five years?

I love reading, so that won’t change. Love talking about books with others, so that won’t change. Hope to get more consistent with reviewing, that would be nice. However, the big change will be location. We are plotting, planning, and attempting to get ducks in a row in order to move to Italy or Spain. I want the Abruzzo region of Italy and he is still open to Spain. I am more vociferous than he is, so let’s just go with Abruzzo.

Neither of us have ever been there and don’t speak Italian. Still it’s like one of those why not sort of things. We do speak Spanish. Well, he is fluent and I can understand it…most of it.

So I predict, that for the Armchair BEA in 2017, I will be reading books that most likely aren’t in Italian in Abruzzo, Italy. Where will you be?


May 23rd, 2011

Welcome Armchair BEA Guests

by Gwen

My name is Gwen and I have been haunting the book blogging world for about three years now from the sunny Central Coast of California.

A majority of the books I review here are non-fiction, not only because I like them, but  I feel that they don’t get enough play in the real world or the blogging world. I also review books for a few print publications.

Going to BEA this year wasn’t really an option.  Since January  I have been undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer.  Between the costs of treatment, the people-have-cooties factor, and the basic fact that I feel like gum on the bottom of a shoe, I just couldn’t go.

If you have never tried non-fiction or been scared off by some that you have read, you might want to try any book by Erik Larson. He writes narrative non-fiction that will suck you as if you have never heard the story before and don’t know what happens in the end. He humanizes his subjects in a way I have never read another author do.

Can’t wait to visit with you all this week.

September 16th, 2010

I Want to Blow the Roof Off Chew & Dig in the Upcoming Year!

by Gwen



Photo Credit- DavidRphoto Flikr

So, BBAW is pretty much leaving me as pumped up as ArmChairBEA did. I am filled with motivation and ready to make some changes. I don’t know about you , but I cruised so many blogs, made new friends, and got loads of ideas for how I want to kick it up a notch around here.

Me thinks it be time for a Bloggiesta of sorts in a couple of weeks. Anyone with me?

Here are some goals that I want to work on:

  • Make my reviews easily searchable by author
  • Maybe add some cover art to my books read list
  • Actively work on selling ad space to book related items (this is to cover host costs)
  • Toying with the idea of splitting off into two blogs, one for nonfiction, one for fiction
  • Working on a few new series ideas and have lined up some great author interviews
  • More giveaways, I am drowning in ARCs and the library is starting to give me the evil eye!
  • Put on my new snazzy robe to judge the Indie Lit Awards with a great group of panelists.

My question for you is this, What is Chew & Digest missing? Are there ways you would like to search that you can’t? What plug-ins, buttons, or whathaveyou  do you really use on other sites that you would like to see here?

My other question for you ……… did the whole BBAW experience make you feel? What are you really excited about? Are there any changes that you want to make? Anything I can help with?

I love these events because they get me all pumped up! Move over Arnold, cuz I am the one that “will be back”!

Viva BBAW!



May 28th, 2010

Showing My Virtual Love for The ArmChairBEA Organizers

by Gwen

Many of us were given a great gift this week by attending the #armchairBEA. 5 wonderful women had an idea and it not only came to fruition, it dazzled many of us all week.

Personally, I met  more bloggers that think a lot like I do than I have come across in all the years that I have been doing this. There were so many times that I said to myself, “Why have I never met this blog or person before, I really like them!”

I learned, I laughed, I explored all of the wonderful different paths that brought us all to having a similar passion. I am energized, pumped up, and maybe just a wee bit tired, but mostly just grateful that I was included and astounded at what they created.

I have very little to give in thanks other than words, but to go along with my usual Showing Your Love Of Books post, I would give these gifts to you if it were in my power,

For Danielle from There’s A Book…………

a SLO made Downtown Brown Bag, by Modepopulour, $ 50 from

Writing Letters - Signed Print 8x10

For Emily from Emily’s Reading Room…..

Writing Letters Signed Print by Illustrations by Kecky, $15 from

For Florinda from The 3 R’s……….

Wolf on Vintage Page Print, by CrowBiz, $10 from

For Michelle from Michelle’s Masterful Musing……

Remembrance Hardwood Journal, by V E T R O K, $60 from

FREE SHIPPING Guardian of the Forest Tote Shoulder Book Bag

For Tif from Tif Talks Books……

Guardian of the Forrest Tote Bag (to go with those fairy tales) by Something Else Studio, $61 from

That is it. Those are the beautiful handmade things that I would love to give to you if only I could. Instead you will have to take my gratitude for my best blogging week ever.

Thanks to all of the participants as well, you rock!