Guest Post with Author Rook Winters


Today I am pleased to share a guest post from author and fellow tea drinker, Rook Winters. He published The Branch Office on January 15, 2018, which offers a humorous and heartfelt exploration of that office and tech  life so many of us are familiar with!

branch officeThe Book

The Branch Office
By Rook Winters
ISBN: 9781775235903
Pages: 310
Genre: Humor & Satire



There’s a story in every cubicle.

A novel that is part tribute and part lampoon of office life. You’ll nosedive into absurd behavior, quirky personalities, Silicon Valley excess, 80s nostalgia, personal loss, frustration, unrequited infatuation, company softball, and, of course, doughnuts.

Luke is young and stuck at the bottom of the career ladder but he doesn’t intend to stay there. The grizzled programmer in the next cubicle has been working on the same software for decades and just wants to stay off the radar of the executives.

Unfortunately, the corporate agenda is at odds with their hopes and dreams.

You’ll love the perfect mix of humor, despair, and satire. Get your copy of The Branch Office today!

Purchase Links:  Amazon UK

Guest Post

This guest post was written by Rook Winters, author of The Branch Office, a novel that is part tribute and part lampoon of office life. After seven years working for a tech company, he’s more than a little familiar with the absurdities of corporate life.

I used to be an IT consultant. (How’s that for the start of a riveting tale?) Back in my consulting days, I visited a client site where factory workers on their lunch break were subjected to video loops of the CEO hobnobbing with celebrities. Nothing helps a plate of cafeteria chicken fingers go down in the middle of a Canadian winter like seeing the boss on a tropical island with his arms draped around scantily-clad fashion models…

image1.jpgPhoto Credit:

When people say things like “Don’t tell anyone but I’d do this job even if they didn’t pay me,” I mostly think they’re full of bovine dung. There are exceptions, of course, but people work because they need the money. The lucky ones experience some level of fulfillment in the process. The unlucky ones are miserable sacks of flesh dragging their feet through the aisles of big box stores or down the hallways of corporate offices wondering how bad the consequences would really be if they had a full-blown meltdown right then and there.

A surefire way to beat that workaday humdrum feeling is a free low-fat mocha frappuccino from the onsite barista then a quick company-sponsored massage in the relaxation space, am I right?

image2Photo credit:

If you’re laughing at the preposterousness of that suggestion, you’re not alone, but it’s very real if you land the right job. And by the right job, I mostly mean in tech. And by tech, I mostly mean Silicon Valley.

After joining a California-based tech company, I was introduced to office snack programs with gourmet tea blends, all-natural energy drinks, and more food options than I can remember, including seaweed crackers. Interesting fact: in employee surveys, the most requested snack was always Doritos, never seaweed crackers. Shocking but true. Remember, you heard it here first.

I was fascinated (and disturbed) by how quickly people would become indignant about changes to the snack program. A perk became an expectation and then morphed into an entitlement. The baby carrots are being replaced with crackers and hummus? That calls for an angry email. No more coconut water? Outrage in the hallways. The sparkling water machine is broken again? How can we be expected to work in these inhumane conditions?

This passage from my novel, The Branch Office, references a number of perks that are common in tech companies. None of them are made up.

A foam football lands in Luke’s cubicle and a contrite-looking support agent arrives a moment later to retrieve it. He apologizes quietly before hurrying away.
The interruption reminds Luke to check the time. His 7pm deadline looms and he decides he can’t spare the time for Beer 30 today.
Each programmer, tester, and documentation writer makes commitments for the week and they take those commitments seriously so they’re usually heads down on Friday afternoons as penance for overly optimistic estimates. Today is no exception, although Luke’s deadline was imposed on him because of the upcoming release of Doxtronix upgrades that Connie and Fish coded.
In contrast to the dev teams, the customer support team gets very few phone calls in the dwindling hours of the week. Fish once compared it to ants that perform complex tasks when each colony member makes decisions based on its instincts. All these workers in many different companies unwittingly collude through individual choices based on self-interest and ensure that each and every worker gets out the door by 5pm on Friday. Better to wait until Monday than risk being in the office when the week ends. And so the customer support folks are usually tossing Nerf balls and watching YouTube videos on Bill’s oversized computer monitor by mid-afternoon. Until Beer 30.
At 4:30pm (give or take fifteen minutes), faithful adherents respond to the call to worship of the tech industry’s popular religious sect of Drinking at Work. In Silicon Valley, the war for talent compels companies to offer an embarrassing array of perks and creature comforts. There are micro-kitchens with free snacks; full-service cafeterias with made-to-order grill stations; onsite massage therapy; laundry service with at-work pickup; game rooms; meditation rooms; napping pods; full-service barista bars; in-building daycare; and even in-building doggy daycare. Everyone has their favorite perk but it’s the company-sponsored booze fridges and craft beer kegerators that draw both introvert and extrovert alike from their desks for an end of week happy hour.
Middlesworth does not have a corporate cafeteria, onsite massage therapy, daycare, laundry service, or most other perks used to keep the company’s hook sunk deep into the flesh of corporate carp in the Valley. It does, however, have Beer 30. At 3pm every Friday, Sirine accepts delivery of two small kegs of craft beer and taps them in the office kitchen. The customer support folks are tipping up red Solo cups by 4:15pm and within thirty minutes, everyone is lined up at the taps.
Connie slams his laptop shut at 4:41pm, gives his hands a clap, and proclaims, “Beer 30 time.”
Luke stands and they meet eye-to-eye over the cubicle wall.
“Hey, you know how you promised Polly earlier in the week that we’d review the support case data for Doxtronix? We haven’t really done that.”
“We did a bit.”
“But not enough to make any conclusions. That was Tuesday and it’s Friday now.”
“I know it’s Friday, that’s why I just said ‘Beer 30 time.’ ”
“I’m serious, Connie. I feel like we made a commitment to have answers this week.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was going to work in the evenings but I kind of felt guilty doing that with my parents just sitting around the house doing nothing.”
“What’s that? Did the impermeable Connie Sherlock just admit to feeling guilt about his parents?”
Connie gives him the finger. “They leave tomorrow. I’ll work on it on Sunday and we’ll talk to Polly on Monday.”
“Fine. If Polly asks, I’m blaming you.”
“I would expect nothing less.”
“What time on Sunday? I can come in for a while. I’m behind on Vortex stuff anyway. I had to spend all day finishing Doxtronix 49 edits.”
Connie makes a noise somewhere between a grunt and a snarl. “Come in? Seriously, why don’t you have a laptop?”
“Dunno. Over my pay grade.”
“Which is saying something since the guy who gives out computers barely makes minimum wage.”
“No, of course not. He probably has more stock options than you.”
Luke curls his lip. “Time?”
“Before lunch,” Connie says. “Then we can get out of here early afternoon.”
“OK, Beer 30 time for real. You coming?”

I repeat: none of those perks are made up. That’s right, even doggy daycare in your office building can be found at some companies. People from outside of tech, and even people in tech but outside of Silicon Valley, find it hard to relate to the lavishness heaped upon employees of tech giants and startups alike. When I wrote this passage, I worried that people would think my list was over the top and unbelievable!

These days, I usually write at home. Working from home has its own perks. The tea is always my preferred brand and there’s no competition for the kettle. I can blast orchestra music, 90s alt-rock, or nature sounds at whatever volume suits my mood. I have control over when and how collaborators can interrupt my productive time. My office mate, a miniature Australian Shepherd, is low drama as long as he gets a couple short walks. And I have complete control over the office snack program. You’d probably just call it “getting the groceries.”

17626141.jpgAuthor Bio

Rook Winters has worked as a software developer, corporate trainer, and technical writer so he is well-acquainted with the ups and downs of spending day after day in an office. His first novel, The Branch Office, isn’t autobiographical but it taps into the humor and despair of office life in a way that’s only possible after spending thousands of days in the land of cubicles.

Rook is also the author of several short stories based on the same characters in The Branch Office.

Follow Rook: Website  Twitter  Facebook  Goodreads

I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to  Rook for his time and the wonderful post featured today!

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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Stop Stalling – A Year After “Keep Her” ~ A Guest Post by Leora Krygier


Leora Krygier came into my life unexpectedly when I received a copy of her novel Keep Her last year. You can read my review here. Since that time not only did I find myself moved by this endearing and thought-provoking story that was a 2016 silver medal winner of the Moonbeam Chidren’s Book Award, but I was continually touched and inspired by my correspondence with Leora. It is an honor to have her share her journey after writing Keep Her here today. So without further ado..

Stop Stalling – A Year After “Keep Her.”

By Leora Krygier

Stop stalling! That’s what I kept saying to myself every morning for a year after the publication of my novel “Keep Her.” But somehow that well-worn imperative didn’t give me enough of the nudge I needed. Sure, there were some understandable reasons – my dad’s illness and his eventual passing away, and a new, delicious baby in the family. There was a lot going on – birth and death and everything in between, still I knew. I was stalling. And this stalling became my “bête noir,” roughly translated, my “dark beast,” or the nagging thorn in my side because every time I sat down to write at my desktop computer, ten minutes later I got up and found something else to do instead.

Life after publication is both exhilarating but also downright nerve wracking. I’d been through it before – the excruciating wait for reviews, the readings, the mentions in the press, and the PR and marketing push.  I did a lot of fun things this time including a SnapChat story, Instagram bookstagrams, a trip to the Book Expo in Chicago and meetings with environmental organizations like Heal The Bay, but still, writing and even publishing can be an often solitary road.

So now – thirteen months later, where am I? I’m still zigging and zagging on that road. I’m aching to write a sequel to Keep Her, to write the next life chapter for my beloved fictional characters Maddie and Aiden, whom I kind of left hanging at the end of the novel. But there’s another book – one that’s three quarters written, a memoir of sorts, and so much harder to write because it has to do with me, and who in the world wants to read about a year in my life?

But that non-fiction book needs completion, an arc closed, if not for others, than for myself. It’s about the year I made a left turn on both my writing and life roads. I spent a year researching a random W.W.II postcard I found in a thrift store in Los Angeles, then tracked down the owner and ran half way across the world to return it to its rightful place. And I say left turn because I should have been doing something else – figuring out my own family history, the whys and wherefores of my father’s past, his secrets and how they oozed into my life. But sometimes you have to make a left turn to get onto the right road, right?

I recently looked up the origin of the word “stall.” The noun refers to a compartment in a stable or shed that houses an animal. The verb is about delay, putting things away, i.e. putting them out of sight and out of mind. That definition made me realize that my “bête noir,” my own little beast was waiting for me to let it out of its stall.

And so, I did. I stopped stalling. Well, kind of. I reorganized my office space and put away a lot of my distractions. I bought a new chair. I finally opened up the computer file with the mostly written book and I’ve actually added and subtracted to the manuscript. It’s a start, I guess.

Meet Leora Krygier

leora.jpgI think I wrote my first story at the age of eight, a micro-autobiography. Micro? Because, well, how much can you say at the age of eight? But I guess I was hooked. I also love to take photos with my cameras and iPhone, which is always snug in my back pocket.
For me, every photo has a story, and every story is a snapshot.
I’m the author of “When She Sleeps” (Toby Press) a New York Public Library Selection for “Best Books for the Teen Age,” and about which Newsweek said, “Krygier’s luminous prose transports the reader.”
I’m also a former Los Angeles Superior Court judge and the author of “Juvenile Court: A Judge’s Guide for Young Adults and their Parents” (Scarecrow Press).
I live in Los Angeles with my husband. When I’m not writing, I love to go to the beach, walk the Santa Monica Mountain trails, and snap lots and lots of photographs.

Untitled design Leora enjoys a good English Breakfast tea and a blackberry infused tea and says “Nothing like a good cuppa”.

Follow Leora: Website Twitter Instagram

Leora’s Books
(click for Goodreads info)

I want to extend a special thank you to Leora for sharing this experience and her time today.

Happy Reading ❤


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An Ever So Slow But Happy Return


First and always foremost! Thank you all ❤ I never could have anticipated the amount of concern, support and care I received during this hiatus. I even managed to acquire some new and very understanding followers during my month away from social media and the blog. I also discovered that I was added to Reedsy’s Best Book Blogs of 2017. This all stands as a true testament to how wonderful this community and readers are. Everything that BVT has become is a direct result of you! I know I have said it before, but I simply love you all so much!

I know I have a few of you who have messaged on social media and sent emails that I have yet to respond to. I will be doing my best to reply over the next week. I greatly appreciate the letters and thoughts. I  simply have not been online. I will also be responding to all of the comments as I am able. You can only imagine how behind I am!

With all of that said, I will be returning at a somewhat slow and more limited pace. I plan to remain active weekly, however the current goal will be about 3 posts a week when able. Unfortunately, I really need to continue with reduced screen time. I will not be able to blog hop and share as frequently as I once did (although I will still do so when able). If I want to write, read and blog; it will not be possible to keep up with my past routine at the same pace. This does sadden me a bit, but I am happy to be returning and will continue to support you all of you the best that I can. I will not be opening back up for reviews this month. I need to allow myself time to catch up on my backlog of current books and pending reviews/spotlights. I will however, post another You Choose, I Read soon 🙂

So the brief health update that some have asked about: I am currently scheduled for hearing aids and then a follow-up with the specialist later this month. The hearing aids are rather expensive and I have had to apply for assistance, but am in need with the moderate to severe loss in both ears. The new meds seem to have had little effect at this time, but I am not writing them off yet. The last visit concluded that the current symptoms are all neurological, so surgery is out. It was my original hope that some of the underlying causes were related to inner ear as this opened up more options in regards to treatment. I imagine the next step with the specialist will be to discuss where we go from here. I am having to reduce screen time due to increased migraines and vision changes. I was also told I suffer from reader’s fatigue due to the vision issues. But I simply cannot force myself to reduce my reading 😉 On the plus side, this was a somewhat better month in terms of vertigo. That is huge for me! So overall, I am calling my rest a success.

So now it is your turn! Let me know what you have been up to and what you are reading. I am itching to catch up with you all. How has the remainder of your summer been? Fill me on all of the good stuff I have missed. A month felt so very long to be away!

Danielle ❤

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