Review of Champion Chocolatier #3 and Amanda Zieba Author Interview
The third installment of the Champion Chocolatier series (Champion Chocolatier: For Better or Worse) is as fun as the first two! I really loved Emmy from the first time we met her as she heads to Duluth to run a chocolate shop. In book two, Champion Chocolatier: Reality Bites, we join Emmy as she competes in a reality TV candy-making contest. That story had some fun twists and turns! Now, she’s getting married and convinces her fiancé to take part in a couple’s contest to win a honeymoon. This book is the perfect story to read while we are sequestered away from the world. The characters are well-developed (and we already know and love them from the previous books). The author writes dialog with an easy banter that makes the reader feel like they’re right there with the characters. She’s also a master at throwing tension into the story as we find Emmy’s fiancé acting distant and being unusually unavailable in the days leading up to their wedding. Something’s up! But what?? You’ll have to read to find out. I highly recommend this book!
ABOUT THE BOOK: Two years ago, Emmy left her big city life in St. Paul to run Sweet Shores Chocolate Store, along the North Shore. Soon after arriving, she met handsome Eddie, who ran the store next door. Last year Emmy traveled to North Carolina to be on the EatTV Valentine’s Day Candy Making Competition and now, in this third installment of the Champion Chocolatier series, it’s finally time for Emmy to get married. It's a moment she’s waited for her entire life, but surprisingly, her attention is diverted in several directions. While half of her is busy planning her wedding and running her successful business, the other half is consumed with winning the Golden Honeymoon Giveaway. She and Eddie are so focused on their own businesses and separate goals that the contest seems like the perfect way to bring them together. Except that suddenly Emmy’s solution seems like it might be pushing Eddie away for good!
I’m so glad Amanda Zieba was able to hang out with us for a little while. Welcome, Amanda!
Q. First, tell me how you’ve been coping as you work at home during the coronavirus outbreak?
A. I was already used to working at home several days a week, but now I get to do it with my husband and sons right alongside me. It’s been a little harder to get big chunks of uninterrupted work time, but luckily I’ve been a master at stealing pockets of productive time long before all of this.
One thing that did surprise me was my lack of ability to focus. I’m usually a DOER and at first, I just WASN’T DOING much. My brain was wandering. I switched tasks frequently. I wasn’t accomplishing things the way I wanted. Rather than feel bad about it, I changed gears. I wrote all about choosing “bite sized writing projects” on my blog a couple of weeks ago. You can check it out here and maybe find some helpful tips for yourself!
Q. It’s definitely hard to launch a book when you can’t do in-person events as I’m sure you planned to do. Tell us about how you adapted your book launch.
A. It would be easy to be bitter about the way this virus wiped out my spring author calendar (usually my busiest presenting time of year) but I think that because EVERYONE in the WHOLE WORLD, is in the same boat, it’s easier to let it go. Of course, I’m bummed, but there’s nothing I can do about it. So, again, I changed gears.
The week prior to launch I did a 10 Day Countdown on my Facebook page. There were contests and giveaways and live events. I had so much fun. And honestly, it forced me to do a few things, like sell my books directly from my website (www.amandazieba.com/products) and do live videos on social media, that I should have done a long time ago. What’s that saying? “Necessity is the mother of invention?” Maybe for me it was “necessity is the mother of good business decisions”. Even if I am able to do in person events for future book launches, I will still probably do all that I’ve done these past weeks… just to add to the fun, hype, online presence, etc.
Most of the live events are done now, but you can still get your copy of the book and also participate in the Virtual Book Club events I have coming up. (Keep an eye on announcements for those by joining my mailing list or following me on social media.)
Q. You’re probably super busy with your book launch activities, but I enjoy your writing so much that I’m always curious what we might expect next from you. What are you working on?
A. THIS is an excellent question. I’ve really been thinking about this. I’ve promised readers a sequel to Close Quarters before the year’s end, so I will likely start to dig into the Ames’ cousins’ next adventures soon. But I’ve also felt a tug to explore a middle grade story idea based on a high school gymnast in foster care. And then there’s Champion Chocolatier #4, which already has ideas buzzing around in my brain. So, who knows? But something. I promise, I will be writing something.
Kelly, Lindsay, Mia, and Harper grew up not only as cousins but as best friends. Kelly has always been the dreamer and Lindsay the one with all her ducks in a row. Mia claimed the role of wild child the day she was born, and Harper will forever be the baby. Separately they are flawed, but together, the Ames cousins are convinced they can do anything.
Then, without warning, their grandmother, the infamous Midwestern literary critic, Ingrid Ames dies. Suddenly, they each find themselves unsure of how to move forward without her guiding presence in their lives. As they attempt to pick up the pieces after the funeral, the cousins come together to open a bookstore in her honor.
Unfortunately, their vision of tribute seems to be jeopardized at every turn. A surprising pregnancy, mysterious deliveries to the store, a deployment, and — most unexpected — time with each other, threaten to collapse the entire operation.
Q. Many readers here might not know that you do a lot more than write books. You also teach about writing and help other authors with their careers. Tell us more about this.
A. Gosh, thanks for the opportunity to share this. Recently I’ve combined my loves of writing and teaching to share successful strategies with other writers. I’ve been leading in-person workshops and also selling independently paced courses on my website. (Which is probably the better option right now that we are all stuck at home, I mean, safe at home!) If you have been wanting to start a blog or write a novel, my bundles are the perfect, bite sized place to start. I also have writing services in my website shop for graphic creation, blog writing and self-publishing coaching. You can check them all out here: (www.amandazieba.com/products)
Q. So, just for fun . . . what’s the best book you’ve read during the pandemic so far?
A. I read Free Verse by Sarah Dooley and really enjoyed it. It’s about a girl in foster care that uses poetry to cope with her grief. I’m also, in my business reading time, really finding a lot of good stuff in Level Up by Rochelle Melander.
Q. Where can readers discover more about you and your work?
My website - www.amandazieba.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/amandazieba/
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/wordnerd_amandazieba/
Thanks so much for visiting us, Amanda!