Author Interview and Review of Simply Wood

Simply Wood: 40 Stylish and Easy To Make Projects for the Modern Woodworker

Product Details

  • Pub. Date: November 2010
  • Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing Company, Incorporated
  • Format: Paperback , 200pp
  • Sales Rank: 254,635

Interview with the Author:

1.  Tell us about  your background.  Where are you from? 
I’m  from Cape Town, South Africa and I have been in BC, Canada now for 15  years. I have a background in Fine Arts and Design and have recently graduated  from the Fine Furniture Program offered at Camosun College in Victoria  BC. 
2.  Why  woodworking?  This is not a typical profession for women, what made you  decide this is for you? 

It’s funny I never really thought that I couldn’t do woodworking  because I am a woman. I found my passion while exploring the fine arts and  its’ different mediums ranging from oil painting to ceramics to  sculpture. It was actually in a sculpture class that I got to use a  table saw for the first time and I was absolutely hooked. I also chose  woodworking, because, call me practical, but I wanted people to use my art  on a daily basis. I wanted people to run their hand along a freshly  finished hand-rubbed table top or sit in a curvy chair that  fits your back just so. I think the face of woodworking is changing and all  I have to do is look in the mirror. Many more women are getting out into the  workshop and are not afraid to jump in and turn on the router or the table  saw. A diamond necklace is not the only gift to give to a woman on  anniversaries anymore 🙂  
3.  Why did you  decide to go into book writing along with your woodworking? 

I  was given this amazing opportunity to put all my thoughts and processes onto  about 200 pages and I jumped at the chance. Writing is another outlet for me to  explore this wonderful medium and to share it with other people and at the same  time learn a few things myself. I just feel overwhelmed with pride when I  get a heartfelt message from someone who has bought my book and is enjoying it  and actually putting it to work. 
4.  Tell us about  the process you went through to write Simply Wood. 

Since I had to cover so much over the pages of the book I had to  come up with an organization tool just to keep my sanity and the deadline in my  sights. Since this was also my first attempt at writing a how-to book, I  really had no idea of where to start, so it did get a little overwhelming at  some points. The first thing I did was bring out my 18″ x 24″ sketch pad  and draw out columns and boxes on what I now call my legend, and I  just started putting all the projects, ideas and patterns in these boxes.  Since I am also such a visual person I actually printed  miniature versions of each pattern and taped them to the corresponding box  to see how everything would lay out. I also taped my legend to the wall, so that  I could see it everyday and make changes as needed. As for the in-progress  photography, I came up with a visual story board, to ensure that I  have completed all the steps needed for each project. This was a  tremendous aide to keep everything organized and on  schedule. 
5.  What is your  favorite project in this book and why? 

I  would have to say my favorite project in the book is the magnet board project in  the office accessory section. I love it because I brought 2 very dissimilar  materials together and I think it turned out quite well. I’m always on the  look-out for new materials that I can combine with wood or just to cut on  the scroll saw.  
6.  What do you  think is the most challenging project in the book and why? 

I  think the most challenging and most time consuming project in the book would  have to be the accent lamp project. Although the joinery I use is quite simple,  it must be precise for all the pieces to fit and there are many pieces to deal  with. I also think most people would be a little intimidated when it comes  to wiring a lamp, but it is easier than you think. With a little patience  and organization I am sure anyone can have a successful outcome…and  a gorgeous lamp to be proud of at the end.  
7.  What would you  tell someone who wanted to get started in woodworking? 

If  you do want to get into woodworking, start with using a few basic hand tools to  really get the feel for it. I started out with just some chisels, a mitre box  and handsaw and a hand drill. I made a much needed coffee table with just these  tools about 9 years ago and it is still standing and getting used everyday. 
8.  What  challenges have you had working in a career dominated by men? 

I  have been very fortunate that I have not had any major issues or  challenges so far. Although, I think as a woman in woodworking you have to  work twice as hard to prove that you are just as good or even better in  some cases than the guy next to you. At woodworking school I proved to be a  worthy peer among the men in the class and at the end of it we had and  still have a great respect for each other.      
9.  What advice do  you have for those of us who are going to try to do some of your  project? 

Please, if it doesn’t work out the first time, try again. Patience  is key. And also prepare for each and every project. Gather your tools and  materials and always have your cutting list on hand…and this is very  important… also know where your pencil is at all times!   🙂 
10.  What is your  favorite part of woodworking? 

I  would have to say cutting the joinery and as you bring the two mating pieces  together and it fits like a glove…wow that  is a great feeling!  But overall I would have to say  the process of designing…from a scroll saw pattern to a piece of  furniture.   
11.  What is the  most challenging project you have take on? 

The  most challenging project would have to be the chair I made for my graduation  from the Fine Furniture Program. It had very strict design guidelines. For  example, it had to be shippable and fit a certain box size. If it went over  and beyond those dimensions you had to make it so that it could be taken  apart and be shipped that way. It also had weight constraints and material usage  limitations.  And of course I had designed my chair with tapered curves and  very difficult dovetail joinery that landed on those curves. I call it my  “Chou” chair. The word Chou is the Kanji or Japanese translation for  butterfly. This name is fitting because of all the double dovetail or  better known as butterfly joinery I use in the chair. I am  still so amazed at the outcome and also of the sheer fact that I have  completed such a challenging project in a very short amount of time.   That’s the beauty of working with wood… you always find new ways to amaze  yourself. 
Now just some fun  questions 
Night owl or Early  Bird? 
Night owl 
Cake or  Cookies? 
Coke or  Pepsi? 
Coke all the way! 
Summer or  Winter? 
Black or  White? 
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and shed some new light on woodworking for my readers!  I wish you the best of luck on all of the project you undertake.

My Review of Simply Wood:

I found this to be a very well written woodworking book.  I enjoyed that before even getting into the projects there is background about not only the author but woodworking in general.  I was very drawn to the cover and the projects in this book.  In reading the chapters prior to the actual project, the author’s love for woodworking and safety shine through.  There is personality and a lightness that I have not see in other woodworking books.  I also like that the projects are beautiful and seem like projects that anyone would love to have in their home or office.  The directions and tips for the projects are extremely well written and broken down into manageable segments.  I like that it is written in real world terms and not made more difficult that it has to be.  My favorite projects in this books are Celtic based.  I love them!  Overall, this is a great books full of fun projects!  Please check it out!

*Thank you to NetGalley and Traci Niese at Fox Chapel Publishing for the opportunity to review this book.  I was provided no compensation other than the copy of the book and all opinions are my own.

Author Interview: Jennifer Laurens

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview Jennifer Laurens after reading her book, Heavenly.  Please watch for my review to this book very soon (Most likely before Friday). Thank you Jennifer for taking the time to let me get into your head.  

Readers – if you have any questions for Jennifer, please let me know and I will see if I can get you answers.  Without further delay – 

What inspired you to write this book? 

A couple of things: First, my family struggles to live with a child with autism are a daily challenge we still live with, but also one that has taught us so much and unified us in ways I thought might be of help to others. Also, I hoped, in a small way to educate people about what living with autism is like. Lastly, I wanted to put something on the market that offered light and hope in a world where so much entertainment revolves around vampires and dark creatures that don’t really have a redeeming value.

I learned that you have a daughter with Autism, what assumptions do you think people make about Autism?  What would you tell people about Autism to help them understand? 

People are afraid of people with autism because of the unpredictable nature of it in each person. Anytime someone isn’t conforming in a social setting, people notice. I hope folks won’t stare, that they’ll be more tolerant and even reach out to parents and caregivers of children with autism.

How much of your personal experiences make it into Heavenly?

 Um, ALL. Literally every thing  that happened to the family has happened to us. Including the partying teenage daughter and drug addicted son.

If you could describe Heavenly in just one sentence – What would it be? 

Uplifting literature with a redeeming message.

If people want to learn more about Autism and how they can help, what would you tell them? 

Read: Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin – a fascinating story inside the head of a person who grew up with autism. Also: a person IS NOT autistic. It’s not WHO they are. A person HAS autism. They are still an individual with their own likes and dislikes, personality, interests, etc.  I never refer ( except on the book back, in the blurb – and that was for space – to someone as autistic.

What about this book was the hardest to write? 

Luke, because my son was deep in the middle of his using at the time I was writing.

What books have influenced your life the most?

 Scripture. Some fiction: Endless Love is beautifully written. 

Who has encouraged you the most in your career? 

My two daughters hands down. They always believed I could do whatever I chose to do.

What are you currently working on? 

A book I wrote years ago that I’m re-writing for the YA market.

What have you learned the most from having an Autistic child?

  You mean a child with autism??? lol.  Well, that’s another fifty blog posts. Seriously, you can’t nutshell the layers and layers of learning here. It’s been one of God’s great gifts to us: patience, compassion, real, unconditional love, service the list is endless.

Is there anything you would like to tell our readers? 

I write to lift the heavy hearted, to open eyes and to make you smile. And sometimes cry. Thank you for reading my work. I give away copies of Heavenly on Facebook to all my friends for their birthday. Join me there if you’re on FB.

Where can people find out more about your books? 

I’m on Facebook all day while I’m writing, and I have a website:, and

Please offer that any blogger who wants to host a party, chat, interview can read Heavenly for free!
Now a couple of fun questions –
Night owl or early bird? 

Early bird.

What is your favorite snack? 

theater popcorn

What do you need to write (music, food, ect)?

 A tall glass of Vernors Ginger Ale atm

What book is currently on your nightstand? 

My NOOK has: Endless Love by Scott Spencer and Honest Illusions by Nora Robers – my two fav books.

What would be your dream vacation? 

Going on a cruise around the world with 2-3 days per port.

If you could have any wish come true, what would it be? 

In-store distribution for my books, so more readers could have access to them.

Thank you, Jennifer for taking the time to answer my questions.  I can’t wait to read more of your books as this one touched me very deeply.  I could not put the book down.  

Author Interview: Heather Wardell


Growing up, I was an avid (rabid?) reader. I am a natural speed reader, regularly clocked at about 1200 wpm (I read Harry Potter 5 in just under three hours), and always have several books on the go, nearly all in e-book form on my iPhone.
I have always made up stories in my head, but never considered becoming a writer. Instead, I intended to be a high school music teacher. I was sidetracked by my enjoyment of my psychology courses in university, and ended up with a psychology degree with a concentration in computer science.
This took me to a major Canadian bank as a software developer. I stayed there for just over four years, and then went back to school to become an elementary school teacher. After four years teaching elementary school computer science, I took up the National Novel Writing Month challenge and attempted to write a novel in a month.
I succeeded, and the first draft of "Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo" was the result. I realized I love writing. I left teaching, and I haven't looked back since!
In my non-writing time, I read, run, swim, crochet (I am on Ravelry and would be happy to add you as a friend!), take care of my 55 gallon aquarium and my cat Sapphire, and play clarinet. Generally not all at once.

This picture shows me wearing a sweater I crocheted and holding the finishers' medal I received at my second half marathon, May 13/08.

You can find my review of Life, Love and a Polar Bear Tattoo here.  Please look for reviews of Go Small or Go Home and Stir Until Thoroughly Confused very soon!  Also, check out her books on her website each book is only $0.99 - WHAT A GREAT DEAL!
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Cereal. Nearly any kind, although not the wildly sugary ones because I
feel sick later. I also sometimes (like today!) eat it for lunch too.

Night owl, or early bird?
Early bird by a long shot. I start to fade around 10pm.

Where is your favorite place to read/write?
To read is probably in the bathtub. 🙂 To write is any Starbucks
location. I don't know why, maybe there's something in the air, but
all my best scenes have happened at a Starbucks!

What are your other hobbies?
I run half-marathons and shorter races, crochet, play video games,
play clarinet, and last year I started taking drum lessons and now
play with the concert band where I used to play clarinet.

What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?
I most vividly remember reading Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" when
I was about seventeen and just being stunned by it.

How much of your actual life gets written into your fictional stories?

The big plot elements are nearly all fiction. The smaller things are
frequently from my life. A few of my real-life events that have made
it into books: hanging wallpaper that refused to hang, wiping out on a
sidewalk and ripping up my cheek and knee, and flying with an ear
infection. (If you're thinking I'm a bit clumsy on occasion, you'd be
right. 🙂

What books are on your nightstand right now?
None! But don't be shocked... that's because they're all in my iPhone
and it's right beside me. I keep my to-be-read list at Goodreads
(, and you can see there that I
hardly ever read in paper any more. I just so prefer the convenience
and freedom of electronic reading.

What's the most interesting comment you have ever received about your books?
That would have to be the argument I had with my sister over whether a
certain character would actually do what I'd implied in the book he
did. She was adamant that he never would, and I kept thinking, "You
know he's not real, right?" But she almost didn't, and I loved that
because it meant I'd brought him to life.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
I much prefer a piece of dark chocolate over ice cream, but I have
never said no to cookies and cream ice cream. 🙂

Who is your favorite fictional character?
Of my own characters, I think it's Forrest Williams, the hockey player
from "Go Small or Go Home". From other books, I loved (even when she
frustrated me) Rachel from Marian Keyes' "Rachel's Holiday". A drug
addict might not seem a likely candidate to be a favorite, but she was
just so REAL!

If you could tell my readers anything, what would it be?
I didn't know until I began putting my books out there just how
wonderful an author feels when a reader sends a "I loved your book"
note. If you like something and feel like telling the author, go for
it. It makes my day every time!