Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #50:
Sheila of Wands and Worlds

h1 October 24th, 2007 by Eisha and Jules

{Note: Please see the post below this one for today’s Robert’s Snow schedule —
and Ashley Bryan’s ’07 snowflake}

Hello, all, and thanks for joining us. We are privileged to be featuring an interview with Sheila Ruth, the Very Busy Blogger behind Wands and Worlds. She’s also the Organizer of the Fantasy/Science Fiction category and Henchwoman for Independent Publishing for the 2007 Cybil Awards.

If you’re new to Wands and Worlds, then know this: it is THE blog to read if you are a science fiction and/or fantasy fan. Seriously. The woman reads a lo-o-o-o-ot of YA and middle grade sci-fi and fantasy books, and she writes the kind of reviews that really tantalize the potential reader, while giving insightful and detailed commentary. Check out this review of The Sight by David Clement-Davies for an example. When asked about the blog’s title, Sheila told us:

I wanted a name that would convey both fantasy and science fiction, and I think “Wands and Worlds” does that, with wands representing fantasy and worlds representing science fiction. Plus, I like the alliteration. The name really just came to me fully-formed when I first proposed the idea of the site to my son.

There’s more: Wands and Worlds also has a Book News blog, a huge, searchable Directory of fantasy and science fiction books for children and teens, and a Fansite with various forums for sci-fi/fantasy readers.

Oh, and that “Henchwoman for Independent Publishing” thing? It means she’s the one who contacts all the independent publishers whose books have been nominated. This is a field that Sheila knows a little bit about, because she started her own publishing company, Imaginator Press.

Are you intimidated yet? Yeah, us too. But Sheila keeps it real, and is fairly modest about her blogging efforts:

I don’t have any special features and haven’t started any new trends. Mostly I just publish reviews, news, and commentary related to kids and YA fantasy and science fiction. I also try to support independent publishing whenever I can through reviews of independently published books and news about independent publishers.

She’s pretty modest about her organizational skills, too, as you’ll read below. She’s really on top of things as one of the organizers and henchwomen for this year’s award, constantly amazing us with her communication skills and attention-to-detail. She doesn’t miss a thing, and she’s a pleasure to work with, too.

Thanks to Sheila for taking time away from her blogging/publishing/Cybilling to chat with us. Enjoy the interview!

* * * * * * *

7-Imp: What do you do for a living?

Sheila: I’m supposed to be making a living? Uh, oh, don’t tell my husband that. Before my son was born, I was a computer programmer working on publishing/typesetting software. I quit work when he was born, intending to go back to work after six months. It’s now twelve years later and it’s never seemed like the right time to go back to work, so here I am.

My son attended an excellent Montessori preschool for a few years, and I’ve been homeschooling him ever since then. Homeschooling gets easier as he gets older and becomes more independent, so I dabble in lots of things. I started developing web sites as a way to keep my technical skills up, and those web sites now generate some income, although not enough to live on. When my husband wrote a children’s fantasy book, I was so amazed with it (I didn’t know he had it in him!) that I started a publishing company to publish it. I’m also the President of the MidAtlantic Book Publishers Association, mostly because no one else wanted the job.

7-Imp: How long have you been blogging?

Sheila: I started my blog in June 2005, so it’s been a little more than two years.

7-Imp: Why did you start blogging? Why do you continue to do it?

Sheila: My son and I started Wands and Worlds together as a web site before I started blogging. We both love to read fantasy and science fiction, and it was a way to connect with each other and share our interest with the world. The main Wands and Worlds site is a directory of books searchable by subject, author, series, or title, and we both review books on the site. It’s a database-driven site that I programmed.

I was inspired to start blogging by Tasha’s Kids Lit blog (it seems she inspired a lot of people!). I thought it would be a good way to get a wider audience for our reviews and also to allow people to subscribe to get the newest reviews.

What I didn’t anticipate was that, through blogging, I would become a part of a wonderful community of people. Being involved in the community is one of the things that keeps me going, even when I sometimes get busy and think it would be easier to just forget about the blog.

photo of author Sarah Beth Durst7-Imp: Which blog or site would you take to the prom to show off and you love it so much you could marry it?

Sheila: I love author Sarah Beth Durst’s blog {Sarah is pictured to the left}, because she is so sweet and funny and it’s a pleasure to read. One of her features that I love is when she posts a fairy tale with humorous commentary {Ed. Note: Here’s one example}. I’ve given advice to some authors about starting a blog, and Sarah’s is a perfect example of what an author should be doing. She provides interesting content to keep people coming back, she writes the blog with a unique and consistent voice, and she promotes her books, but not excessively, and in a way that is entertaining.

7-Imp: What are your other favorite things to do, other than reading and blogging?

Sheila: I’ve trained in Aikido for 17 years, and I still go to the dojo once a week. I’m fascinated by swords and I love a movie with a good fight scene. My family recently started geocaching, and I enjoy that, although I’m not very good at it. One time, I got frustrated and was ready to give up. My son and I sat on a stump while my husband went back to the car to get the printout with the hint. It turned out that we were sitting right on the cache! And — I had looked in that stump and told everyone it wasn’t there. I also love going to see live theatre, especially musicals.

7-Imp: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Sheila: I’m really pretty disorganized. I have piles of papers all over the place.

7-Imp: What’s in heavy rotation on your stereo/iPod lately?

Sheila: Mostly I listen to Broadway-style musicals. “Wicked” is a particular recent favorite, as is “Oliver,” which we started listening to because my husband and son are performing in a local production. I’m also listening to “1776,” an old favorite that I was inspired by our American History studies to pull out and listen to again.

I also listen to audio books in the car when I drive up to the Aikido dojo (it’s an hour each way). I recently finished The Alchemyst: Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, a Cybils nominee, and I just downloaded another Cybils nominee, The Land of the Silver Apples. My son and I are also listening to a great music history program called Classical Genius. It talks about the life of the composers, and each section is accompanied by music from that composer. Right now we’re listening to the section on Handel.

7-Imp: If you could have three (living) authors over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose?

Sheila: I wouldn’t want to invite anyone too big or famous, because I’d be too intimidated to know what to say. I’m an introvert and don’t always know what to say around other people, so I’d invite authors that I know would make good conversation. First I’d invite Vicky Holmes, who is the editor of the Warriors series and has written other books under pseudonyms, because I’ve met her and she’s really nice and fun to be around. Second, Sarah Beth Durst, because she seems like such a fun and interesting person. Finally, I’d invite Gail Gauthier, because I think we could have some really deep and interesting conversations (and she’s pretty funny, too!)

The Pivot Questionnaire:

7-Imp: What is your favorite word?

Sheila: I‘ve always loved the word “synergy,” both because I love the way it sounds, and because I think it’s such an exciting concept, that two or more people or things working together can create more than the sum of what they would create separately. I think the Cybils are a great example of synergy.

7-Imp: What is your least favorite word?

Sheila: The “F” word. It’s just so unnecessary most of the time.

7-Imp: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Sheila: My family

7-Imp: What turns you off?

Sheila: Prejudice

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Sheila: I don’t really like curse words, sorry. “Darn” is about the worst I use usually.

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you love?

Sheila: My son singing.

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you hate?

Sheila: Someone doing yard work or construction early on a Saturday morning.

7-Imp: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Sheila: I studied photography for a while as a teen and really enjoyed it. I thought seriously about becoming a photographer, but decided it wasn’t a very practical career choice. I’d love to be a photographer for National Geographic, and travel around the world taking amazing pictures.

7-Imp: What profession would you not like to do?

Sheila: It’s a tie between an embalmer and someone who cleans the spot-a-pots at festivals.

7-Imp: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Sheila: Nothing original here, I’m afraid. I’d go with something similar to what others have said: “You did o.k.! Your family is waiting for you in the library.”

23 comments to “Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #50:
Sheila of Wands and Worlds

  1. Yeah. If I hadn’t already had contact with Sheila, I’d totally be all scared of her. In an intimidated sort of way. Crazy smart. Massively talented. And she could totally kick my butt. Probably for saying the f-word so much. Luckily, I’ve reached more of the “in awe” stage. SHE is the one that did the linky magic on the YA Cybils Spreadsheet. I don’t know exactly how, but it’s beautiful.

    On other topics: 1776! I LOVE THAT MUSICAL!!! I have the DVD. Keep going with the geocaching; eventually, you can predict most of the hides. I once had to find coordinates that were hidden behind magnetized bark. So don’t forget to look up once in a while. lol

  2. I meet the most AWESOME PEOPLE doing the Cybils!
    I’m just sayin’… AWE INSPIRING. Totally. I’m all about the awe.

    I wanted to be on SF/F last year, because I lurk on Sheila’s site a lot going “Wow. Oh, snap! I’ve got to read that. And that! And THAT!” This woman, she makes my TBR stack heavy! AND she home schools!?


  3. Magnetized bark?

  4. Hey, I just want to point out that there probably wouldn’t even be a Cybils if Sheila hadn’t jumped aboard early on. Disorganized? Don’t believe it.

    And I grew up listening to 1776 — loved it. Yay!

    Great interview.

  5. Sheila, I am so with you on the Sat. morning yard- work racket. ugh. Can we puh-leeze ban leaf blowers?

    Great interview, y’all.

  6. Sheila is A-MAZING. And she earns extra points for being a fan of musicals.

  7. …and she’s my daughter!! She can kick my butt also but is truly the sweetest person.


  8. Hi, Sheila’s mom!

  9. Hi Jules!

  10. I also liked the lawn blower response – I feel the same way. Even when I’m up and out walking and people are making loud noises at 7 am, I’m still annoyed. Like, let your neighbors sleep already.

    I think Sheila is a perfect example of someone who combines other skills (like the spiffy web links) with a passion for books, to all of our greater benefit. Thanks for the interview. (My Mom enjoyed my interview, too, though she didn’t comment publicly).

  11. Oh wow. I checked out the database AND the fansite AND her blog, of course. That’s like a whole UNIVERSE of information.

    And then there’s her answer for her favorite sound: her son singing. I love that so much.

  12. I completely agree about early-morning construction/yard work. Luckily, the guys working on our house don’t usually show up until 9 am.

    Adorable kitties! Great interview! Thanks, J & E.

  13. What a lovely interview…

    I’d love to meet Sheila in person one day, but I wouldn’t be able to say a word because I’d be too awed…

  14. Thanks for the interview – great – learned a few things. I always suspected she was amazing.
    And so many others who hate leaf-blowers (any time in the day or night). Maybe we need to organize.

  15. I’ll join the anti-leaf blowers club. Enthusiastically.

  16. Yay, Sheila! What a great interview. And, Sheila is terribly organized, don’t let her tell you otherwise.

    I’m working closely with Sheila this year and it’s a dream. She’s wonderful 🙂

  17. Aw, thanks, everyone. You guys are the best! And thanks, Mom. My mom actually asked if it would embarrass me if she posted. Isn’t that thoughtful?

    Thanks for the geocaching encouragement, Jackie. I’m glad to know it gets easier. Magnetic bark? Whoa! That’s some serious geochacing! I’m not sure I could ever find a hide like that!

    I’m glad to see so many other people love 1776. It really is an awesome musical: great songs, great storytelling, and it really brings to life just how much those men were risking by signing the Declaration.

    Michele, I feel the same way about you! In fact, I feel the same way about all of you. If people only knew the caliber of people who are attracted to children’s literature, they would never dis us again!

  18. Michele, I feel the same way about you!

    Oh don’t ! I’m not in the LEAST scary – except when I start babbling about “Doctor Who” – and then, you know, you just nod and smile and wait to run away…

  19. Hi Sheila! You’re the coolest! 😀


  20. I just found this site. Hi Sheila!! XD

  21. Wow, I just found this O-o
    Hey, Sheila! You’re awesome!!!

  22. u rooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooock on

  23. Nice! 😀
    Awesome interview, Sheila

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