Iconic Wisconsin Cheeses, Wine & Beta Readers with Author Joy Ribar



Why is Wisconsin the most famous state in the US for its cheeses and what do they produce? Which iconic, delicious Wisconsin cheeses should you try? What is a beta reader and why would you want to become one?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with Joy Ann Ribar, author of the Deep Lakes Cozy Mystery series.

You can find the wines we discussed here.


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Three listeners are going to win a personally signed copy of Joy Ann Ribar’s fabulous mystery books set in wine country.


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To qualify, all you have to do is email me at [email protected] and tell me that you’d like to win a copy.. I’ll select the winner randomly from those who participate.

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  • What’s Frankie Champagne’s favourite type of wine?
  • Which surprising insights has Joy discovered in her wine research?
  • Why should you consider Wisconsin for your next visit to wine country?
  • How did Joy end up doing over 80 events online and in person to promote her Deep Lakes series?
  • How big is the Wisconsin cheese industry and why are the number of dairy farms on the decline?
  • Which iconic and innovative Wisconsin cheeses should you try?
  • What are some of the fun celebrations you can participate in around Wisconsin during Dairy Month?
  • What’s a beta reader and why are they important?
  • Why are beta readers still essential when you have a professional editor?
  • What’s behind the recent rise in reading and popularity of book clubs?
  • Why are stories such a catalyst for deep conversation?
  • Which aspects of my upcoming memoir did Joy connect with the most as a beta reader?
  • What can beta readers do beyond reading?


Key Takeaways

  • I had no idea just how much cheese Wisconsin produces and the range and variety of cheeses. Seven thousand dairy farms, wow.
  • I love Joy’s suggestions for which cheeses we should try from the state. I’d love to try the cave cheddar with its earthy notes and compare it to traditional British cheddar. I’d pair the cheeses with a firm cabernet or vintage port.
  • I hope our beta reader discussion will encourage you to become one. Just let me know.


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About Joy Ann Ribar

Joy Ann Ribar pens the Deep Lakes Cozy Mystery series at home in central Wisconsin. Joy’s life history is a cocktail of careers, including news reporter, paralegal, English educator, and college writing instructor. Her hobbies include baking, exploring the outdoors, and wine research. Joy infuses this mixture into her main character, Frankie Champagne, adding a special blend of sass and humour. Her writing is inspired by Wisconsin’s four distinct seasons, natural beauty, and kind-hearted, but sometimes quirky, people.

Joy holds a BA in Journalism from UW-Madison and an MS in Education from UW-Oshkosh..She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Blackbird Writers, and Wisconsin Writers Association. Joy and her husband, John, someday plan to sell their house, buy an RV, and travel around the U.S. spreading good cheer and hygge!

Joy is currently working on the next mystery in the Deep Lakes Cozy series: Deep Dire Harvest, coming in 2022.



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Joy Ann Ribar 0:00
We have almost 7000 dairy farms. Our state enters cheese contests worldwide. And we’ve won prizes for our cheeses. The cheese varieties here. I mean we have like Cave Cheddar.

Natalie MacLean 0:13
Cave Cheddar. How is that different from regular traditional British cheddar?

Joy Ann Ribar 0:18
They will take the cheddar and they will wrap it in cloth and then it’s actually aged in a damp cave at different levels. Sometimes they’ll age one year, all the way up to I’ve had 12 year but it has a very unique flavour. I mean, not only is it sharp, but it also has taken on like a little bit of the flavour of the fabric, almost a very earthy flavour coming out of the cave. You would think it would maybe have a mildew or mouldy type flavour, but it doesn’t.

Natalie MacLean 0:55
Oh, sounds fabulous.

Natalie MacLean 1:03
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine? Do you love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places and amusingly awkward social situations? That’s the blend here on the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie Maclean. And each week, I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here. Now pass me that bottle please. And let’s get started. Welcome to Episode 193. Why is Wisconsin the most famous state in the US for its cheeses and what exactly do they produce? Which iconic delicious Wisconsin cheeses should you try? And what is a beta reader and why would you want to become one? You’ll hear those stories and tips in Part Two of our chat with Joy Ribar, the author of Cozy Mystery Novels set in wine country. You don’t need to have listened to Part One from last week. But if you missed it, I hope you’ll go back and listen to it after you finish this one. Now on a personal note before we dive into the show with the continuing story of publishing my new wine memoir Wine Witch on Fire:  Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Defamation, and Drinking Too Much, my publisher and I continue to refine the title, subtitle and back cover blurb. These are so critical for the success or failure of a book. So recently, we removed the word depression from the subtitle so now it’s just Rising from the Ashes of Divorce Defamation and Drinking Too Much. I think eliminating depression positions the book as less of a downer. It’s not a misery memoir, even though it does have serious themes. It also has humour because I can’t help myself. Also depression and drinking too much strike me as both reactions to divorce and defamation. And so we figured we did make both. We’ve also revised the back cover blurb or that small summary that captures the book. I’ll share that with you too. But I think I should use a movie trailer voice like in a world where blah, blah, blah. Anyway, I won’t do it. So here goes: a powerful memoir of how one woman resurrects her life and career in the glamorous but sexist wine industry. Natalie MacLean, a best selling wine writer, is shocked when her husband of 20 years a high powered CEO demands a divorce. Then an online mob of rivals comes for her career. Wavering between depression and determination, she must fight for her son, rebuild her career and salvage her self worth using her superpowers, heart, humour and an uncanny ability to pair wine and food. Natalie confronts her inside, her role in the slick marketing that encourages women to drink too much, while she battles the wine world’s veiled misogyny, facing the worst vintage of her life. She reconnects with the vineyards that once brought her joy, the friends who sustained her and her own belief in second chances. This true coming of middle age story is about transforming your life and finding love along the way. So you see it as a happy ending? Let me know what you think. I’ve posted a link to a blog post called Diary of a Book Launch in the shownotes at NatalieMacLean.com/193. And this is where I share more behind the scenes stories about the journey of taking this memoir, from idea to publication. If you want a more intimate insider seat, this guide me on this journey please let me know you’d like to become a beta reader and get a sneak peek at the manuscript. Email me at [email protected] Okay, on with the show.

Natalie MacLean 5:17
Does Frankie have a favourite type of wine that she drinks personally?

Joy Ann Ribar 5:22
She does. She has a wide variety that she makes called Dark Deeds. It’s a red Lambrusco actually with kind of notes of cherry and berry and frizzanté. She gets the Lambrusco. Yeah, I mean, we can’t grow Lambrusco grapes here. So she gets her Lambrusco. Yes, it’s the Italian but she’s able to get that out of Indiana, which is just, it’s not that long of a drive. It would probably take her about five hours to go and get those grapes. So we have a lot of different grape juice suppliers here and a lot of them even supply. Some supply juice and some supply the must version of it. So you know more of the I guess I would call it a chunky, juicy. You probably have a better way of putting it than that.

Natalie MacLean 6:11
Oh, that’s fine as long as they’re filtered and fined. Get the chunks out. But does she drink too much like Sam Spade and the Maltese Falcon, you know, the Dashiell Hammett novel. He’s always got his whiskey or gin or rum or whatever it is he drinks. Does Frankie have a drinking habit?

Joy Ann Ribar 6:25
I haven’t given her an occasion yet to have gone overboard. She’s a lightweight, so she has to pace yourself. So usually in my books, you will see her she’ll have a glass of wine and a glass of water. And I’m sort of similar to how the author me. And it’s similar to me, I have to drink the same way. You’re lightweighter. I have seen her many times I’m writing and you know, she brings out when she’s doing Girl Talk. She’ll be doing Girl Talk at Bubble and Bake. And it’s during closing out. The wine bar isn’t even open at that point. And I’ll be writing it and she’ll bring out a bottle and they’ll be talking and I’ll think oh my goodness. It’s only like 10 in the morning. Oh, I might have to change the time. People are gonna think she wakes up in the morning and goes right from coffee to wine.

Natalie MacLean 7:18
Right. My kind of woman. Has there been any surprising insights about wine, wine industry winemaking that you’ve discovered while you’ve been doing your research?

Joy Ann Ribar 7:30
Yeah, a couple of things. One thing that I always read about rivalries, you know, in the wine industry and rival wineries, and I keep thinking, you know, geographically, Wisconsin is not a very big state. And we don’t have a lot of big cities here. And to have 100 wineries is that’s a lot really for a state our size. And so I kept thinking, well, there must be a lot of rivalries between these wineries. But I found out that not only do they have a winery association, but they have a winery co-op. And these growers actually work together, and they support one another. And I thought, how great is that? I was very surprised that there was so much encouragement, and they have a wine trail map that you can stamp and then they encourage you to go to the next winery and they’ll tell you about it. They seem to have this genuine, collaborative spirit about them which I thought was really interesting about the wine industry. But as far as other wine insights, I have to say, in Wisconsin, I haven’t been to a winery yet where they encourage you to do a tasting where you spit out the wine. So I never understood. I thought I don’t understand why people spit out wine. If I didn’t. No one had ever explained to me what the purpose of spitting was all about.

Natalie MacLean 8:58
Staying upright.

Joy Ann Ribar 9:02
Yes, staying upright. It wasn’t actually it was when I read your wine guide and you talked about the purpose of spitting and how you can actually absorb alcohol through the palate. And I’m like, oh now I know why when I’m done with the tasting, I can’t even always have a glass of wine afterwards because I’m already too far over the edge.

Natalie MacLean 9:27
Yes. Oh, that’s true. It sounds so collegial there with the wineries and even though it’s a small industry, it sounds like it would be a beautiful vacation spot. I think you’ve talked previously about how green and lush it is that the Irish settled there and thought it reminded them of their home. It is a beautiful state, isn’t it?

Joy Ann Ribar 9:46
It is. It really is. We have so many rural areas. We have a lot of wildlife preservations. We have a lot of state and county park. One of the mayors of one of our cities calls Wisconsin the Fresh Coast, which I absolutely love, because of all the fresh water. We have a lot of lakes and rivers. So people come here for fishing. They come for boating. There’s a lot of hiking. There are different kinds of landscapes. We have rolling hills. We don’t have any mountains at all. So I can’t even try to sell that. But we have some good climbs though. We have escarpments and limestone cliffs and bluffs. A lot of trees. So yes, as you said, we have Lake Michigan on one side, and then at the top, we have Lake Superior, and then over on the other side of the state are boarded by the Mississippi River. So there’s a lot of water, and a lot of green areas to just relax I think is one of the things that people come here for. We have a lot of people that come to camp, but a lot of people that just come to relax. And I think that’s where wine tourism has just been such a great benefit to our tourist industry in Wisconsin.

Natalie MacLean 11:07
Yeah, absolutely. Those things go hand in hand. Now to promote your Deep Dark Series,  you’ve done 80 events for your book online or in person. How on earth did you do that? Holy smokes, I know what it takes to do a book event, even online? How did you swing that? First, how did you line up so many events?

Joy Ann Ribar 11:29
You know, I had the audacity to be naive enough to just call libraries and call wineries and call bookstores and introduce myself and just say, you know, what can I do for you? How can we make this work? How can we partner together to make a funny event? What could I do that would help draw people in. And you just be surprised. First of all, we’re a really nice state. They’re really nice people in Wisconsin. I’m getting that. So the whole state sometimes feels like a small town and that people just respond well to each other. And they have this openness about them and friendliness about them. So really, it was just a lot of cold calling. Hi, this is who I am. And you would just be surprised at how many people, how many businesses and libraries and bookstores were receptive. And wineries who said, Ah, I’ve never had an author here. Wow, that’s really interesting. Okay, let’s try it. And that is really it. It’s a matter of spending time and putting on your confidence persona and saying, I’m just going to call this place, what’s the worst thing that can happen? Somebody will say no. Okay, I’m going to be okay. If they say no.

Natalie MacLean 12:55
That’s true. That’s true. Good attitude. Now, the other thing about Wisconsin that I want to talk to you about was the cheese. They’re the largest producer of cheese in the whole of United States, despite being as you said, a small state. Is it about 6 million people? population wise, something like that.

Joy Ann Ribar 13:12
Oh dear, I am not sure. That’s probably sounds about right. That sounds about right. I know we produce over I think it’s almost 2 billion pounds of cheese a year.

Natalie MacLean 13:25
2 billion pounds of cheese. It’s wild. It is wild.How many farms are there, dairy farms?

Joy Ann Ribar 13:32
There’s about 7000 dairy farms, and then between 1200 – 1300 cheese makers? Yeah, I mean, we’ve been a dairy state for centuries already. A lot of people that immigrated here, they immigrated here for farmland and to start their own farms. And dairy farming has been with us forever. In fact, dairy farming, unfortunately, is on the decline just because of the way the dairy industry has gone and how and milk prices and all of that. All the economics part of it and kind of the dwindling of the family farmers were the next generation would always take it over. And now the next generation doesn’t want to take it over anymore. But still, we have almost 7000 dairy farms. And that yeah, cheese production. Our state enters cheese contests worldwide. And I can’t tell you how many times we’ve won world prizes for our cheeses so and to have the access to the cheese varieties here. I mean, we have like Cave Cheddar. I mean we have cheese that is just very unique. People are doing really fun things with cheese here.

Natalie MacLean 14:44
Cave Cheddar. How is that different from regular traditional, say British cheddar?

Joy Ann Ribar 14:50
Yeah, they will take the cheddar and they will wrap it in cloth. It might be burlap and then it’s actually aged in a cave. It is in a very damp, but well regulated cave conditions. And they aged at different levels to like sometimes they’ll age one year all the way up to I’ve had 12 year that’s as much as old up cheddar as I’ve had as 12 year cheddar. But it has a very unique flavour. I mean not only is it sharp, but it also has taken on like a little bit of the flavour of the fabric and the flavour of this almost a very earthy flavour coming out of the cave. You would think it would maybe have a mildew or mouldy type flavour but it doesn’t. It doesn’t.

Natalie MacLean 15:43
Oh, sounds fabulous.

Joy Ann Ribar 15:44
Yeah, it’s beautiful.

Natalie MacLean 15:47
Go with that Frontenac you mentioned. Indeed, and are there other famous types of cheeses in Wisconsin that’s we can look for either here, you know, when we’re shopping for cheese, or if we visit the state?

Joy Ann Ribar 15:59
There is a Danish cheese that is called Havarti. I don’t know if they have already everywhere or not. In Wisconsin, they will take a Havarti and they will add in various herbs so that will change all the flavours of the Havarti too. But it’s a very melty, melt in your mouth. I would compare it a little bit to a brie. But the flavour is much different. It’s more of a consistency of a brie, but the flavour is much different. It’s just a beautiful light, very light cheese that pairs really well with a fruit. And then again, if you do, we like to do cheese and apple slices and grapes and nuts, and then and sometimes some dried apricots, and then we just break out, whatever. We just try all different kinds of wines and decide oh, yeah, this goes well together with this particular type of cheese and fruit and nut combination. There’s also a Brick. I don’t know if you can get Brick cheese anywhere besides Wisconsin. I’m just not sure. It’s also a white cheese. And it’s very mild.

Natalie MacLean 17:06
Wow. I often see like sometimes at sporting games not that I watch a lot but they’ll have the cheese head and you know Wisconsin’s playing. Big cheese head. Yeah. But you also celebrate your dairy and cheese. You have a dairy parade each year?

Joy Ann Ribar 17:21
We have. Okay, so we’re just rounding the corner of June. June is Dairy Month. I can’t tell you how many times you’re going to hear that. If you come to Wisconsin, you will see that slogan everywhere June is dairy month. We can’t even have one day to celebrate dairy in Wisconsin, we have to have an entire month. So just about every county has breakfast on the farm. A lot of different communities have dairy parades with a dairy princess and have ice cream eating contests. And a lot of times people dressed in their kind of alpine looking outfits like the little swiss dairy made outfits and the little alpine lederhosen. Just yeah, we do some fun, quirky things.  People even in cow costumes, or they just parade their cows down the street. Oh, well. And tractors. Oh, my goodness you can’t come to a parade in Wisconsin without seeing an entire string of tractors going through town in the parade. Its great.

Natalie MacLean 18:25
I love it. It’s so folksy and yet so of the earth and I don’t know. I love that idea. And there’s even a butter festival.

Joy Ann Ribar 18:34
There is there was a butter festival that’s about 45 minutes away from me. And one of the things well and of course they pick Miss Butter every year. And they do a lot of it is a lot of same things. They do tractor pulls, but they do a run for the butter where they have four or five different categories like you could run. They have a kids run and then they have different like they have a 1k and they have a 5k and they have a 10k. But anyway, the prize is butter. That’s your prize. All right, I love it. Oh, and I just want to say they sculpt. They will sculpt butter and they will sculpt cheese. If you go on and Google cheese sculptures or butter sculpture, it is amazing. You’ll be shocked at what people can do and how they can create art from cheese and butter. Fascinating.

Natalie MacLean 19:29
I love that. Oh my god. When I was three, we went to visit one of our relatives down in Cape Breton and I wasn’t eating dinner. He asked me what do you want and I said butter. He gave me a whole slab of butter. And I didn’t eat the whole thing but I ate a lot of it and from then on I called him Danny the Butter. I always wanted to go back and visit Danny the Butter.

Joy Ann Ribar 19:56
What a great memory. What a great memory.

Natalie MacLean 19:58
I love butter. Love, Love butter.

Joy Ann Ribar 20:01
Oh, yeah.

Natalie MacLean 20:03
All righty. So, I did want to talk to you about first of all to thank you joy for being a beta reader of my book, my memoir, the Wine Witch on Fire:  Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Depression and Drinking Too Much. So for those who are not familiar, beta reader reminds me of my old high tech days where you’d be a beta tester of a software programme. But what’s a beta reader when it comes to books, because you’ve been a beta reader, and you’ve had beta readers read for your own mystery novels.

Joy Ann Ribar 20:33
Right. So when you first write your manuscript, first you’re going to give it to somebody to just kind of do the general cleanup. And that’s going to be your alpha reader. But once you’ve gotten your manuscript through at least some copy editing and taken out some of the obvious errors for sure, then you can move on to your beta team. And here and some of the writers in the writers group that I’m in, they call that their street team, that’s then the new lingo that’s been used for their beta group. And it’s usually people that you trust, but they’re from a variety of reading experiences. And you want them to look at your manuscript as a whole. And say, you know, is this gelling? And, you know, you’re not asking them to fix punctuation or to fix grammar or maybe even word choice, but you’re really asking them to look at the whole picture on where is their continuity? And what are my characters doing? And am I consistent? And do things make sense? And so they’re the people that are on the ground level, kind of your response team.

Natalie MacLean 21:49
Right, no that’s a great description. And, you know, you’re talking about characters and so on. But it also works for a memoir, which I find is the closest thing to fiction there is. And I don’t mean that you make it up, the story still has to be true, but the techniques of a memoir are closer in alignment with fiction than they are with a lot of How To books or nonfiction. In that you have to have character development, the people in a memoir should be as fully developed as the characters in a fictional book. There should be a narrative, like there should be a plot line. There should be, you know, the all is lost moment and the climax and all the rest of it. So I’ve been learning that in writing this memoir. It’s a first memoir, last memoir. But yeah, I just find beta readers can be so so very helpful when they bring a whole diverse experience to the book. So does a beta reader have to be an English major have a writing background?

Joy Ann Ribar 22:51
Absolutely not. I mean, I think beta readers are coming from every walk of life. And they’re bringing in perspective, and they’re also bringing in. The really important relationship between a reader and a book is, can you identify with this book? Does it resonate with you? And in what ways does it resonate with you because every reader is different. And to respond to my voice? And is that a story worth telling? And it’s so important because they become your audience, and they become a representation of your whole audience that is possible to exist. And they’re just that microcosm of the whole audience that you hope to reach.

Natalie MacLean 23:39
Exactly. They’re so important. And I find, you know, because people get nervous. Well, I don’t have the expertise. But that’s actually, personally ,what I’m looking for. I don’t want someone who’s an expert editor. I want someone who is an average reader. And you know, there was one person who started editing it, or like commenting as a beta reader on the book. And she said, Oh, I should go back and fix my comments, because you answered my question later. And I said, please don’t do that. Because I want to know your reader experience. If you are confused at a certain point, tell me. The fact I answered it may be later in the book. That’s a problem I created. You know, so don’t edit those comments. Just tell me what you’re thinking and feeling where you got lost? What worked? What didn’t? That kind of thing.

Joy Ann Ribar 24:25
I agree. It’s so important, because that makes that reading experience authentic and organic. And it’s very helpful to know how are things going along the way. You don’t necessarily need to know how did they end up which is what your reviewers do for you, but you want to know about the journey.

Natalie MacLean 24:46
Yeah, exactly. So do you usually pay your beta readers, Joy?

Joy Ann Ribar 24:51
I do not. I’m always give them a lot of gratitude. If they happen to also be authors and they might be and some of my beta readers are authors, but they’re not in my genre. So we’ll sometimes do a swap. So, okay, I know you have a book coming out next, and I’ll read yours next, and you’ll read mine now. So sometimes we do exchanges, but no, usually they’re happy to do it to kind of be on that front end of the part of that writing process. I think a lot of those readers really feel honoured or respected to do it.

Natalie MacLean 25:29
Exactly. And they’re part of the process, they are shaping the book. Like it’s not done, there’s still time for changes. Their input can make it a better book, a stronger message, which I think is kind of cool to be involved in something from the beginning. I mean I would love to be part of like, one of my favourite TV shows or movies from the beginning and say, Well, I think the character should do this, or whatever. I think that’s kind of cool. And even though you have an editor at your publisher, again, who’s a professional, who’s paid, I think there’s still a really important role for beta readers. Because I think sometimes even professional editors, you know, they bring a wealth of experience, but sometimes they’ve almost seen too much. Or, you know, I’m tired of that trope, or I, this is just overdone. But if your readers are responding to something that’s pretty powerful, in terms of knowing kind of how the book might be received.

Joy Ann Ribar 26:23
I totally agree. And that’s why, I mean there’s that place and that role for that professional editor. But because that is their profession, they’re going to definitely look at your writing from a different angle and different experience. And the readers will be bringing all kinds of different experiences and different perspectives into how they relate and respond based on their own likes and dislikes and life experiences. So I agree that those are two very different entities. Having that professional editor and then having that team of people who have the chance to give input and have a chance to respond, like having conversation with the book as the book is in process.

Natalie MacLean 27:11
Yeah, absolutely. I found from your comments, Joy, you are an amazing beta reader. A close read is what I called it. Kike, Yes, you are an author. So you do bring special skills to it. But I found we were in conversation to use perhaps a cliche now, but I felt we were talking back and forth. Even though we weren’t talking, you were commenting on the book. I was getting to know you as you commented through your comments, which I felt was really cool. So you had a dialogue with the book, I also felt I had a dialogue, conversation with you as you went through it.

Joy Ann Ribar 27:45
Oh, thank you. That’s a really nice thing to say. But I just felt like, based on your writing style, and your voice and how personal you were able to tell your story. It was so authentic. And it really resonated. And it really resonated emotionally and a gamut of emotions. It’s a very authentic dimensional story to tell. And I don’t think you could help but feel responsive to everything that was happening within that story.

Natalie MacLean 28:21
Oh, that’s great. Thank you. I’m glad to hear that. You know, I think people do as we talked at the beginning of our conversation, people do want to escape, especially emotionally. Like they want to have a journey that, you know, they may not have gone through the same things, but they felt the same things at certain points in their lives. And they can bring those emotions to the book and say, okay, yeah, I have felt sort of whether it’s, you know, depressed or afraid, or joyous, or in love, or whatever. All the feels. I think that’s what makes us resonate with anything a book, a movie or a TV show, is if we could put ourselves in the place of the main character in a memoir, that’s the author, but our Frankie Champagne and think, oh, yeah, I want to go along for this ride. I want to see the world through this lens and see if I can learn a bit about myself, too. I think we always kind of turn it back and think, what can I discover about myself, whether it’s thoughts, feelings, things I’m going to change in my life, whatever.

Joy Ann Ribar 29:26
I wholeheartedly agree. And I think that’s why reading conversations are so important. And maybe that’s why we have so many book clubs. I think book clubs are on the rise. I think people are turning back towards reading. And it’s such a different experience to read alone or to read in a group. And I don’t mean that the group’s reading, you know, oral aloud together or anything like that. But the fact that you are in this connected group of people and you’re all reading the same thing, and then you can come and have conversations and includes your takeaways and your surprises and the characters you relate to and what you responded to within the story. Those are just the greatest conversations to have.

Natalie MacLean 30:17
They are and they kind of elevate the conversation with your friends, not to get snobby. But to have a deeper, more meaningful conversation, because you know, you think, what would I do in that situation? Or do you think she made the right choice or that kind of thing. And it’s one of the reasons why, you know, I’ve created a free companion guide for book clubs, wine clubs, or just getting together with friends, if y’all are going to read the book. Of course, I suggest wines, because why would I, but I also have discussion questions for each part of the book. A lot of this, too, has been post pandemic, realizing we need that connectedness, and we had to do it via Zoom. Now we can get back together in person. But you know, instead of just talking about the latest Netflix series, which is fine, I think this can just lend itself to a whole deeper conversation when, especially when a book has issues that you want to see how others think and feel about them.

Joy Ann Ribar 31:13
Exactly. And those are conversations a lot of times that can’t happen or don’t happen, even among friends, or people who know each other, whether co workers or, or whatever. Those conversations don’t happen. But a book is the entry point to those conversations. And then you learn things about each other, as well as yourself, but you would not deep dive into those conversations without an entry point. So I think that’s one of the best things that books can do for people.

Natalie MacLean 31:48
Yeah, that’s such a great point, too. Because, you know, it would feel weird to just begin a conversation with, well, I got divorced here’s what it felt like. Right?

Joy Ann Ribar 31:59
Most people don’t do that, right?

Natalie MacLean 32:02
No, exactly. But if you’re reading a book about a woman who went through a divorce and how she handled it, that might open you up. I know it certainly when I shared my story verbally with friends, I heard all kinds of stories they’d never told me about relationship issues, about tough times.  One story can open so many more, I think. To your point, it can just be the entry point for those conversations. And so as you are going through my memoir, I’m just curious about any observations you had in terms of, I don’t know: did you learn anything about wine that surprised you? Or about non wine related things? You know, you’ve given me lots of feedback, which is wonderful. But I’m just curious. And also for those who are listening, what kind of things that a beta reader can get out of the experience, the benefits, apart from all the feels and being part of the process.

Joy Ann Ribar 32:58
There was so much to learn, because I didn’t know anything about the wine industry. And I didn’t know anything, really about what exactly a wine critic does. So there was so much to be educated on there. And it was very interesting. You never went off the deep end into the technicalities, where people would all of a sudden say, okay, now I’m going to tune out. So I’ve never felt like I wanted to tune out at all.  It was just amazing to know that there are days, I don’t remember how many days but I know when you were saying that a typical day you might have to taste 30 wines. And all I could think of is oh my gosh, it just seems like not only is that a lot of wines to taste, and then to get your palate to adjust to all that tasting. But then you have to write cleverly about them, which I really appreciated your wine descriptions. I just oh my gosh, they were like a work of art in and of themselves. I loved your wine descriptions. And I love the sarcastic humour that you used in your voice in many places where you’re telling your story. But I also, you know, again, what I think resonated a lot with me is just how it can still be very difficult for women in different professions, and that some of the things that you went through in your profession are still out there in so many professions, as hurdles for women to have to try to kind of almost invent their own persona to be like, who do I need to be in this profession in order to be professional and to be respected as a professional? And so I just think that that is something that every woman no matter what they’ve done in their life can relate to that on some level.

Natalie MacLean 34:56
That’s great. Yeah, the industries are different but the theme are the same, you know. A lot of people are curious about the wine industry think it’s perhaps a glamorous job writing about wine and make no mistake, it’s a privilege. I know, no one’s playing little tiny violins for me who has to taste 5o Cabernet or whatever, I get that. But they’re always curious. And behind the scenes, what really goes on, but then the larger, more universal themes of trying to be respected, to deal with, you know, to be a woman in a traditionally male industry. There’s all kinds of things that go along with that, that are very universal to other industries and women, of course. And but I’ve also had lots of good men read the book, by the way. I just want to say that, you know, really good men. And they’re not always only reading it because they have daughters, wives and mothers. They brought a really good perspective, too, because I wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to sound like a, you know, a bitter fest against men. Because it’s not. There’s been so many good men in my life, too. So anyway, I just want to say that because we’ve been talking about these themes. Yeah, that’s really great.

Joy Ann Ribar 36:02
I’m really glad that you shared that because, of course, when you do beta reading, you don’t know who the other readers are. So I think that’s great that you also have men involved in the process, you know, who are willing to be those readers and maybe read something that doesn’t feel like it’s, you know, necessarily their story or something that they may or may not be able to relate to but relate in a very different way. But it brings a whole new perspective. So that’s great, because what a way to create that well rounded narrative.

Natalie MacLean 36:36
Yes, exactly. Because they can comment on those aspects, too. Because you know, the message will go farther, if I’m not alienating people. And at the same time, you have to take a stand. You have to say, this is my story. These are my points. So it’s that thin red line of why do you have to kind of walk between taking a stand, but also not unnecessarily alienating people. You know, you can make a point without it.

Joy Ann Ribar 37:01
Right. It’s very brave to put yourself out there on the page and in print for the world. It’s a brave thing to do.

Natalie MacLean 37:10
People keep telling me that Joy. I’m getting more scared, was so brave. Don’t tell me that. You’re terrifying. No, no, that’s okay. It’s all good. It’s all good. You have to be all in or not when it comes to memoir. So you take the plunge or you don’t. And one thing just as we wrap up on the beta reading, you mentioned is that beta readers are also your street team. What else can beta readers do as a street team as the book moves along? After they finished beta reading?

Joy Ann Ribar 37:41
Wow, that’s a really good question. For one thing, I think sometimes, they will then know somebody that they could say, hey, this person might make a good beta reader too if if there’s still time. I know, you know, and if you have a street team and then they all know, one or two people, pretty soon, your world got a whole lot bigger, and the perspectives just grew and your audience grew and your potential grew. And I think that that’s one of the nicest things that probably a beta reader can do.

Natalie MacLean 38:17
I agree. And then when the book comes out, I know, I’ve had some enthusiastic beta readers who want to support when it’s published, which for me, I just recently got my published date. It’s May 9 2023. So anyway

Joy Ann Ribar 38:32
Congratulations, though. I mean, I saw that when you got your publisher, I saw your publisher announcement. And that was exciting. It’s always it’s such an exciting process, but it is painstaking.

Natalie MacLean 38:45
It is, It’s long, but it’s kind of good in that you work at it.

Joy Ann Ribar 38:49
What do you want beta readers to do? I would want to enthusiastically support your memoirs. So besides doing reviews and social media posts, those are typical things that my people would do.

Natalie 39:03
That’s very important reviews. Especially, love him or hate him, but Amazon sells you know, majority of books, at least especially online. And reviews are so important on Amazon, but also you know, other bookstores in Canada. Our chain is Chapters Indigo, very important bookstore chain, and then all of the independents I mean, we need to support our independents. And so you know beta readers can do a world of good by requesting the book be ordered from you know their local bookstore, doing reviews reviews on Goodreads if people are part of the Goodreads reading community, which is a great site. It is owned by Amazon, but it’s a wonderful site for connecting to readers, other readers who are passionate. Social media posts, as you mentioned, and just spread the word. Like people are getting more and more creative. But if you have maybe a small posse squad of really passionate beta readers. Among them, there might be someone who knows someone, again, who’s in the media who might want to do an interview. Or maybe you should do an event here because I know the librarian or the bookstore owner, that kind of thing. So I think with that network, you never know who knows somebody or who actually runs a bookstore, something like that, that there’s all kinds of possibilities the way beta readers can support a launch because as you know, Joy, there’s so much clutter. A thousand book are published every day. A million a year. It’s like, oh my God, how does one breakthrough? And so the way is word of mouth, because marketing budgets are gone for publishers and writers. 100%. Absolutely.

Joy Ann Ribar 40:45
100 percent. Absolutely. And I know in your beta reader, you had one of your questions was do you have any creative ideas for different ways to connect readers? And I know, I mean, we’re always trying to come up with what’s another cool way to reach my audience? Or to connect with readers? And how do I do it? And where do I do it? And I’ll just tell you, I still don’t have an answer. But I think it’s a really great question. So I would love readers and listeners to give shoutouts. I mean, so many people have these clever ideas. And you know, if they have them, they should share them. Because it’s worth trying almost anything, you know.

Natalie MacLean 41:22
Absolutely creative ideas to reach new beta readers. Of course, word of mouth referral is going to be important. And also launching a book like are there creative ideas for launching a book and I assume Joy, you’re also still looking for beta readers, either for your upcoming book or the next book. There’ll be a stage where you’ll want people to contact you if they’re interested.

Joy Ann Ribar 41:44
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. They can do that on Facebook. I’m on Facebook as Joy Ribar Author, and I’m on Instagram as Author Joy Ribar. They’re just the opposite, I don’t know. And my website, JoyRibar.com. They can send an email through that website and get in touch with me that way, too. And I’m very receptive. I’m very open toward. I’ve met so many readers from all over the country and in Canada, even I have a couple of new Canadian friends along with you. So it’s great. No, it’s fantastic. It’s a big world of readers out there. And the more the merrier.

Natalie MacLean 42:27
Absolutely. When it comes to books and bottles, or vines and spines, the more the merrier in sharing it. And Joy is there anything that we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention?

Unknown Speaker 42:39

Natalie MacLean 42:42
We’ve covered a lot.

Joy Ann Ribar 42:45
So I feel like we got to talk for hours of which is fantastic. I do, too. I think that I think we hit a lot of great conversational points. And I think it’s good. It was a great conversation. I really appreciate it.

Natalie MacLean 42:59
It was. It was. Thank you, Joy. And so people can contact you through JoyRibar.com. And I’m going to put a link to your website in my show notes as well as your social media handles. And if anyone didn’t catch that, you can always email me. And I’ll put you in touch with Joy. You know, if you are interested in being a beta reader, just buying her books. They sound so wonderful. So, Joy, we’ll wrap it up now. But thank you so much for chatting with me. It’s been a delight.

Joy Ann Ribar 43:27
Thank you, Natalie. And I hope I hear from some of your listeners and readers. I love that kind of interaction. And it was so great to be with you and such a privilege to read your memoir. I truly, truly. You are very gifted. So I wish you nothing but the best.

Natalie MacLean 43:46
Joy. Thank you. Thank you, you too. All right, To be continued. We have many more things to talk about in the future.

Joy Ann Ribar 43:52
Sounds great.

Natalie MacLean 43:54
All right. Bye for now. Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed our chat with Joy. Here are my takeaways. Number one, I had no idea how much cheese Wisconsin produces, and the range of variety of cheeses as well. 7000 dairy farms. Wow. Number two, I’d love Joy’s suggestions for which cheeses we should try from the state. I’d love to try that Cave Cheddar with its earthy notes and compare it to a traditional British cheddar. I’d also pair that cheeses with the firm Cabernet, or maybe maybe a Vintage port. And three, I hope our discussion on beta readers will encourage you to become one. Just let me know. In the show notes, you’ll find my email contact, the full transcript of my conversation with Joy, links to her books and website and where you can find the live stream video version of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube Live every Wednesday at 7pm. You’ll also find a link to my free online class called the Five Wine and Food Pairing Mistakes that can Ruin Your Dinner and How to Fix Them Forever. That’s all in the show notes at NatalieMaclean.com/193. Email me if you have a sip, question, or want to be a beta reader of my new memoir at [email protected] You won’t want to miss next week when I chat with Kerith Overstreet the winemaker at Brulian Wines in Sonoma, California and a former medical doctor. She has some fascinating stories to share. In the meantime, if you missed episode 95, go back and take a listen. I chat about cheese and wine pairing with cheesemonger Janice Beaton. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.

Janice Beaton 45:43
I think cheese is very sensual. The visual, the smell, such simple ingredients can yield such profound variety.

Natalie MacLean 45:53
Yes that sounds so much like wine. They both start with liquids. They’re both fermented. And they both get more complex as they age, at least the best kind do. So what similarities do you see with wine and cheese?

Janice Beaton 46:05
I think you’re absolutely right, Natalie. There are so many things. So why didn’t she sat on comment and the whole concept of terroir, that environment in which grapes are grown or animals feed. We often talk about the fact that when you think of grape vines growing in soil that is also providing the grasses that goats are grazing on, there’s no big surprise that there’s a similar flavour profile between the wine and the cheese from that region.

Natalie MacLean 46:35
If you liked this episode, please email or tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who’d be interested in the wines and stories we discussed. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week. Perhaps a wine that pairs well with Wisconsin Cave Cheddar.

Natalie MacLean 47:00
You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full body bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at NatalieMacLean.com/subscribe. Meet me here next week. Cheers.