Blogging superheroes: Laura Hartness

   This superhero would consider borrowing Wonder Woman’s costume…or Elsa’s….Read on and find out more…

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The origin episode of The Calico Critic? Most important scenes: The opening scene would include my invitation to be an Amazon Vine reviewer. Next: Reading The Hunger Games, and discovering the book blogging community while trying to win a copy of the sequel. Reading Austenland and having my eyes opened to the world of Austenesque fiction.


My early efforts? A lot of learning from other bloggers, and probably copying a lot of their post/meme ideas, like “In My Mailbox”, which I have pretty much abandoned. I’m still finding my way, though. There are others who have been blogging for fewer years, but have more developed sites because of the time they’ve put into the venture. I’m a busy wife, mom, and part-time Content Specialist at, so those interests get my attention first.  And yes, those initial posts are still out there– I’m not proud of all of them, but I know that each was a labor of the heart.


I suppose if I was a super hero, and had to present a mild-mannered identity (because I’m far from mild-mannered), it would have to be a librarian for sure!


Partners in crime… Definitely my husband. He’s a pilot, so his super power would have to be flying.  Another partner would have to be my dear friend Carol. As a home schooling mom of NINE, I think she’s already a super hero, but if she had an extra power, it would have to be mind-reading, because she’s 031314 LH Boys EPCOT cr 1020already doing that with me anyway. An extraordinary friend.


If I could have any super power, I’d love to have the ability to rewind, pause and fast-forward in time.  There are so many historical figures I’d love to meet (Jane Austen– hello?!?) and do-overs I’d like to get (that horrible wedding reception DJ). In the present day there are little people that I want to keep small, and delicious moments in time I never want to end.  As far as the future, I just want to see if my boys are going to be okay.  Where does this super power come from?  Well, my super hero husband with the flying power would take me on an around-the-world flight that was so fast, we would spin the earth into reverse rotation for a bit. Then he would accidentally drop me in a vat of radioactive chocolate.


Super-power training: I say, you use it, or you lose it. Regular trips. At least one a week. How would it be reined in? I’d get a piercing migraine if things were going south, and I’d immediately get thrown back into the present. 


My secret lair is a 19th century English cottage, not far down the road from authors Jane Odiwe and/or Monica Fairview. It’s filled floor-to-ceiling with books. There’s a small room with enough space and equipment for doing my workout videos, but it also converts into a mini movie theater. It’s got lightning-fast, sipper reliable WiFi, too. And in the front bay window, a gorgeous cat like Abigail Reynolds’ cat Snowdrop.  (Maybe she’ll let us use a photo for this post?  Snowdrop is SO beautiful!!)


Super hero costume? For warm days? Wonder Woman’s for sure. If I had the gams to pull it off! Cold days? Elsa’s ice princess dress from Frozen.


Biggest challenge in book reviewing– I never thought I’d say this, but learning to only say “yes” to a small percentage of review requests I get.  As you well know Maria, my TBR pile is about a mile deep.  My 2014 new year’s resolution was to cut down on accepting review requests and make a dent in my TBR pile.  I think I’ve been doing well on the former, but not so much on the latter.


The super villain that threatens to stop my latest project— definitely the video screen.  My husband and I love to watch movies, and most of our television viewing is done online.  I alternate between wanting to read everything in sight, and watching many films and television shows. 

Important lesson:  If I don’t like a book, I try to not be too harsh in my review.  Under no circumstances do I see myself as qualified to critique a published author.  I’m merely stating my opinions as a humble reader.  Authors put their hearts and souls into their work, and far be it for me to write a scathing review.  If I really really don’t like a title, I’ll even give the author/PR rep/publisher a heads up before posting, in case they would rather I not share those thoughts at all.  For some, any press is good press, even negative reviews.  But for others, they might prefer that I keep my disapproving opinions to myself.

The most memorable experience so far?  Without question, it was recently when I finally had the opportunity to attend my first Austen-related event at Latta Plantation in North Carolina.  There on September 27th my mother and I attended a Jane Austen tea, and I had the pleasure of meeting Regina Jeffers, one of my favorite Austenesque authors. We had such a great time as mother and daughter, and I find myself thinking about obtaining my own Regency dress someday as well! 

If I could use that time-travel super power, what would I change about this and what would I not do differently?  If I could, I wish I’d spend more time developing the website. I’ve been online for over 5 years, and there is so much more I could be doing with it.  But alas, other things vie for my attention.   What would I do the same? …I’d continue to stick to my guns as far as my preference for clean writing, promoting authors who know how to write well, without resorting to alot of R-rated material.  And I’d continue to give much of my attention to Austenesque fiction.

Best advice?  This applies not only to blogging, but for all of life.  I don’t know if it’s the all-time best advice EVER (I’m sure something my parents taught me would get the #1 slot, but there are so many…), but in 2006 I was going through an overwhelming life change.  Long story.  And a friend (who had recently also gone through the same thing) really helped me to accept the simple concept of not worrying about tomorrow and everything that it could hold.  And when things before you seem insurmountable as you contend with the present day, just do the next right thing.    That “next right thing” might be as simple as doing the laundry.  Or it could be as complex as packing up and moving the family to a new residence (which I seem to do often).  I haven’t mastered these concepts, but I try to work on them with God’s help.

Tell you about the “new” blog… well, at age five, The Calico Critic isn’t exactly new… and I can’t even say that it’s worthy of dropping everything to read it.  I just know that there is a certain population out there that shares my enjoyment of the kinds of books I read, the movies I watch, and even the occasional workout video or two.  I’m not just a book nerd– I enjoy alot of different things, and I think that’s true for many of my readers.  One minute we’re intrigued with the latest Austenesque novel, and then another we’re thinking about how to get in shape for a special event.  So my interests on The Calico Critic might be a bit scatterbrained, but I think there are those out there that can relate to that.

Future plans… I’m about to pack up and move again.  This time we’re changing our residence from Savannah, Georgia to the Greensboro/Winston-Salem/Triad area in North Carolina.  So the biggest project on the horizon is boxing up all my beloved books and other belongings to once again change addresses.  Such is the life of a pilot’s wife.  I have an amazing husband, and am happy to follow him anywhere.   But in the meantime…I have plenty of reviews scheduled, and many delicious pages to read!


    You can find Laura at:

Facebook Group~Website~GoodReads~ Pinterest~Twitter@LHartness



  • 1 comment

    1. Thanks for letting me be a part of this series– there are all sorts of writing/blogging superheroes here who I admire. I’m going to go check out some of their posts, too.

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