Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Interview with Celebrity Impersonator Rich Little

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with celebrity impersonator Rich Little about his new book People I've Known and Been: Little by Little

FQ: You note that one of the things that separated your impersonations from others was that you came up with a "rapid fire" method of going from one impersonation to another. Would you explain this to our readers? Was this an intentional method, taking months (years?) of practice?

LITTLE: I've always had the ability to switch from one person to another. Most of the people before me used to turn around, get into character and then turn back to the audience. I didn't need to do this.

FQ: Did your parents support your career choice before you "made it big," and were they impressed when you made it to "The Judy Garland Show"?

Rich Little with Judy Garland

LITTLE: My father passed at the time. My mother was very supportive, but she was more interested in what I was going to wear during the show.

FQ: I absolutely loved the Jack Benny/NBC Chicken Soup story. What was going through your mind when that was happening?

LITTLE: Jack was very finicky. He was more interested in the little things in life, like food and the weather, than he was in his career. I was just happy to be in his company. He was not a stingy man. In real life, he was very generous.

FQ: You mention in your book how generous Alan Ladd was to you and your brother, and how Richard Todd had no time for two kids who wanted his autograph. When you've had a long day and just want to relax, but a fan comes up for just one more autograph, does that day so long ago with Mr. Ladd keep you going?

LITTLE: Always be nice to your fans, even if you're not in a good mood. It means a lot to them, and I never forget that they're the reason for my success. To be fair, Richard Todd might not have even known that I was out in the hallway waiting. That may have come from his manager.

FQ: It was so enjoyable to read about celebrities who lived up to their "nice" image. Was there a celebrity who enjoyed such a reputation but who you found to be less than what their image projected?

Rich Little with George Burns

LITTLE: Paul Lynde was not the man everybody thought he was. He was very unhappy in his private life. His attitude off the set was not very good.

FQ: In your book, you talk about impersonating Richard Nixon - and the day you had to do the impersonation right in front of President Nixon. Would you tell our readers what that was like?

LITTLE: I don't think President Nixon knew what I was doing. He had no sense of humor. He wore the same dark suit for his whole career and never took the hanger out of it.

Rich Little with Johnny Carson

FQ: Was there ever a person who proved too difficult to impersonate? Somebody whose voice or mannerisms you just couldn't get right? Or, that you did get right, but it took longer than usual?

LITTLE: I could never do Robert Redford, Harrison Ford, or Michael Douglas. They were all great actors, but not very distinctive voices. If ever I could have done Marilyn Monroe, I would have jumped myself.

Rich Little with John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart

FQ: In 1976, you starred in "The Rich Little Show" (not that somebody else would star in the show), a weekly television show. Was the pressure intense to put out a weekly show? And did your other appearances suffer because of it? Any fond memory of the show you'd like to share?

LITTLE: When you do a weekly television show, you're always in a hurry. Sometimes because of the time element, you're not completely happy. I liked working with Charlotte Ray, but I think my shaggy sheep dog Dudley stole the show. He was hoping for a spin off.

FQ: You have "hobnobbed" with both celebrities and politicians. Which do you prefer to hang around? Are both groups equally happy to have you impersonate them? (I realize this could be a vast generalization but thought it would be fun for our readers).

LITTLE: Politicians are more fun to impersonate because they think they're smarter than they are. When you make them say silly things, people like it. It was the same with my teachers.

FQ: Is having "Rich Little Drive" in Ottawa, Canada a highlight of your career?

LITTLE: No, it was not the highlight of my career - it was a dead end. But Paul Anka Drive was shorter.

FQ: You're quite active, currently appearing in Las Vegas. Would you share with our readers a little about your current show?

LITTLE: I'm now doing a show in The Laugh Factory at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino. It's based on my career. I use film clips of the actual stars, and I show a lot of my art. I started drawing before I ever did impressions.

FQ: Mr. Little - I'd like to thank you for your time and for writing such a fun book that brought back so many fond memories of both movie stars I've adored for years, as well as watching your impersonations of them. Thank you for bringing so many smiles to so many faces over the years. - Ellen Feld

LITTLE: Thank you for your kind review. I'm very appreciative. Unfortunately, many of my friends have not read my book.They can't read.

To learn more about People I've Known and Been: Little by Little please read the review.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

#AuthorInterview with Lin Wilder @LinWilder

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Anita Lock is talking with Lin Wilder, author of Finding the Narrow Path: Patterns, Faith and Searching

FQ: Several years went by before you “remembered the promise made to” your friend regarding writing your personal spiritual journey. This came at a time when you experienced writer’s block while attempting to work on your next fiction novel. In retrospect, would you say the writer’s block was happenstance, or divine intervention? Explain.

WILDER: There is no doubt that what felt like writer’s block was instead a shove from the Holy Spirit. I say shove because I believe writer’s block to be a myth. If the words don’t flow, there is something going on...usually, fear. However, in this case, I was eager to begin on the revisions for my 3rd novel, I had gotten over the initial hemorrhaging from the editor’s very critical review and was ready to work. By nature, I’m a perfectionist. And can be obsessive about deadlines. The fall deadline loomed in front of me. The fact that this was taking place during Lent finally dawned on me. And I began to pray...ask for help. It was then that I remembered the promise. And then the mental version of...”Oh no, you have got to be kidding, really?” hit like a ton of bricks.

FQ: In chapter four you state, “most of my listeners have been lifelong Catholics or Christians and have not experienced living life without faith.” How do you define faith? Explain.

Author Lin Wilder
WILDER: St. Paul uses this definition: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen.” A far more poetic definition than the one I used to use. During the years when I was invited to speak to Catholic audiences about my conversion, I would use the ground I stood on as an analogy. Early in the talk, I’d stomp my foot very hard on the floor (It worked best if standing on an uncarpeted one.) Without fail the echo woke up my listeners. Once I had their attention, I said, “life without faith is like living without gravity. We float in the air without boundaries, all things are permissible.” Quoting Dostoevsky.

FQ: How do you maintain a balance between Jesus as your friend and a healthy fear of God, or is such a balance even necessary?

WILDER: What a great question!

Early in the book, I quote a Legionary of Christ priest who opens the weekend retreat with this prayer. “I pray that if Jesus Christ is not now your best friend, that by Sunday night, He will be.” And then I write about the terror evoked by that comment. That terror I felt is, of course, an unhealthy fear. But facing it and the darkness in us is an essential first step in establishing a friendship with the three persons of God. Over time, the fear evolves and becomes what the writers of the Old Testament had in mind with the phrase, “Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” A fear comprised of love, fervent desire to please, to obey.

FQ: You mention that you personally embrace the Roman Catholic’s stance on abortion. In your public lectures, how do you address hard questions, such as impregnation as a result of incest and rape?

WILDER: I cannot speak to those questions because I have not experienced any of those things. I can speak about abortion because I had one. Did it despite knowing I was killing a baby. Yes, I believe in the stance of the Catholic Church on these things, including contraception. To be a Catholic means that I obey the Church’s teaching in all things. However, what all too frequently gets lost in the polemics of ideology is the reality in which a person chooses sin...knowingly because they feel they must. Over ten years ago, I had a conversation with a priest I believed should be my spiritual director. But I did not know him. Looking back, it is clear that I was testing him.

Fully aware of the Church’s teaching on contraception and of my fear that were I of child-bearing age, I could not comply with it, I asked the priest what he would do if I came to talk with him about my desire to use contraceptives at thirty- something years of age, “What would he tell me?”
He answered that his job as a priest was to make sure that I understood the teaching of the church and the reasons behind it. But that my decision was between me and God. Indeed.

What isn’t understood by those looking in at the Catholic Church is that we know we’re sinners, that is why we are there. But these ideological arguments dissolve into silly divisions and labels and blur the truth. Most of us have no idea of what we would do until faced with the decision, decisions of consequence like abortion and contraception. Only then do we really think about it, because we must.
In a way, these ‘issues’ are kind of like the gun control argument. Until I listened to a good friend describe her experience with two men breaking into her apartment one night, I believed that no one should have a gun. In lurid detail, my friend described that night. Each man took his turn with her, over and over. Knowing that her two little boys were asleep in their room, she was unable to scream for help. My anti-gun control ideology died during her horrific tale. Ever since I have owned a hand gun-just in case.

FQ: You describe three significant encounters with the Holy Spirit in the form of a brilliant light. Have you had any further encounters since the publication of Finding the Narrow Path? And if so, explain.

WILDER: Since then there have been no visual images. But not infrequently what St. Teresa of Avila terms locutions or words heard in my psyche, fully formed. The most dramatic was several years ago while exercising on my Precor in my garage. A command to spend time at a mission outside Tijuana with a priest friend. The internal argument was somewhat lengthy because each time I have visited Mexico as a tourist, I got progressively sicker. You know, the kind of illness that makes you afraid that you won’t die? But the ‘voice’ was insistent. I went. More recently, this last April, I was walking with my dogs saying the Rosary. And was lingering on the interchange between Pontius Pilate and Christ where Pilate asks, “What is truth?” Unlike all the homilists I’ve heard speak about this interaction, I’ve never thought his question sophistry. Instead, I’ve identified with the guy. And for the thousandth time since I learned about Pilate, stuck there. And heard, “Your next book will be about Claudia.” Again, the inner argument, “What? That’s historical fiction! I don’t write historical fiction!” I heard, “The title is, I, Claudia.”

FQ: A priest remarked to you, “We are redeemed, sinners. Bought and paid for by the blood of Christ.” I find your response interesting: “I find there are two kinds of Catholics. The first type emphasizes the redeemed part of that equation by ignoring sin, the other, usually converts, like you [the priest], focus on the sinner side of that equation.” Do you believe this type of thinking is limited to just Catholics?

WILDER: No, probably not. I suspect all converted Christians feel the weight of their former sins far more than do those who have lived their lives – or tried to- according to the commandments.

FQ: One aspect that you briefly cover is the area of “forgiveness.” What importance would you say forgiveness has in one’s life as he or she is searching for spiritual truth?

WILDER: Forgiveness is imperative. We are incapable of movement without it. Learning to love ourselves begins there, forgiving ourselves. Just looking around shows us that despite all the medications, increasingly sophisticated ways to distract ourselves, many of us – perhaps most - dislike, maybe hate ourselves. That 2nd commandment, “Love your neighbor as you love yourselves,” is so weighty. But we focus on the first part. The movie, The Shack brilliantly demonstrates the strange paradox that our inability to forgive another rests on our inabiltity to forgive ourselves.

FQ: What one piece of advice would you give to a person to get him or her started in their search for spiritual truth?

WILDER: Wow. I guess it would be one phrase, admit the need for it...something more, Someone greater. Maybe on your knees somewhere. Then write it down. Then don’t stop until you get there.

FQ: Do you have any writing projects in the works?

WILDER: Yes, I am working with my editors on the revisions for the 4th novel in the Dr. Lindsey McCall medical mystery series, Malthus Revisited: The Cup of Wrath. The book will be released within the next several weeks.

FQ: Do you foresee writing any other nonfictional works?

WILDER: Yes. I write non-fiction articles weekly at my blog and publish articles regularly at Occasionally I also do guest blog posts. I like non-fiction, it is lots easier than fiction!

To learn more about Finding the Narrow Path: Patterns, Faith and Searching please read the review.

Monday, November 13, 2017

#AuthorInterview with J. Michael Dolan @dolan1951

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with J. Michael Dolan, author of The Trumpets of Jericho

FQ: When it comes to a book as large as this one, readers are always interested in knowing how you did the incredible amount of research to bring it to fruition. Can you tell us a bit about the process of gathering the information?

DOLAN: You could say I’ve been researching the Holocaust my whole life. Even as a child I was reading adult books about it, and continue to be fascinated by the most monstrous crime ever committed.

For my own book I spent many an hour in the library of the Holocaust Museum Houston, filling notebooks by day from works in the reference section, taking home what books I was allowed to, and buying others online. 80% of my material came from these, the rest from the Internet and even a few movies. Most of that 80% ended up in my notes, or when whole pages were called for I’d scan them on a copy machine. As if all that wasn’t laborious enough, I had to organize what amounted to a small mountain of data so I could find what I needed when I needed it.

FQ: What first brought about your fascination with this particular subject?

DOLAN: I was in the HMH about six years ago strolling the exhibits when I came upon one honoring the young Jewish heroine Roza Robota. That was my introduction to both her and the 1944 revolt at Auschwitz she played so big a part in. Intrigued, I was soon investigating the latter, only to discover to my surprise it lacked the book it deserved. Inside of a week I began correcting that woeful state of affairs.

FQ: After reading your novel, I must say I’m amazed the name Roza Robota is not more well known. Do you have any idea why that is? Have you come across any other books that even touched on her or the revolt?

DOLAN: Touched on them, yes, but little more than that. Mine is the first devoted in its entirety to the Auschwitz uprising. As for Roza and the general public’s unfamiliarity with her, I believe it but a reflection of not only that surrounding the Holocaust but history in general. I mean, save for Spielberg and their local cineplex, how many people would know who Oskar Schindler was? It’s a phenomenon, I’m afraid, emblematic of the times: readers of serious writing are becoming harder to find, none more than those with an interest in history. Sad, very sad. Dangerous, too. The written word is and always has been a bulwark against tyranny. Ask Orwell.

Author J. Michael Dolan
FQ: Of all the amazing characters in The Trumpets of Jericho, do you have a favorite, a man or woman you most admire?

DOLAN: Roza and her best friend Noah Zabludowicz, of course, rank at the top of my pantheon of the book’s heroes, but I must admit to having a soft spot for Kapo Kaminski, one of the architects of the rebellion and de facto leader of the Sonderkommando, those mainly Jewish wretches forced to work the crematoria. As the few survivors who knew him have all attested to, beneath the man’s rough, irascible, bulldog exterior beat a heart as big as they come.

No prisoner did more to try to ease the suffering around him, and given his high place in the inmate pecking order, with considerable success. How much do I admire this Kaminski? His granddaughter in Israel told me his name came up 247 times in my novel.

FQ: Writing the roles of the evil characters in the book must certainly have taken a toll on you. Was there a way you were able to “step away” from the project when need be? How did you handle all the scenes of darkness you had to put on paper?

DOLAN: The hardest part here was putting myself inside the heads of those evil characters you mention, seeing things through their eyes—in essence becoming them for a while to make them more real to the reader. There were long stretches where I had to say some loathsome things, “perform” loathsome deeds, and you’re right: it wasn’t easy having to crawl inside the skin of a baby-killing mass murderer.

Then again, the vast majority of my book’s characters are sympathetic to the extreme, and I always had them and their nobility to offset the barbarity of those others. I can only imagine the weirdness Brett Easton Ellis must have gone through while writing American Psycho. I don’t think I would have wanted to be around him then.

FQ: Apart from the Holocaust, are there any other periods/locations/historical events that might interest you enough to be grist for a future novel? What can your readers look forward to down the road?

DOLAN: As a matter of fact, I’m researching a novel now that has nothing to do with the Holocaust yet remains rooted in the fertile ground of Jewish history. It’s set in the Roman-occupied Palestine of the 1st century A.D., and is a book I’ve wanted to write for a long time. Beyond that, though, other than telling you I anticipate it provoking no end of controversy, I’d rather keep its narrator and plot secret for the present (you’ll have to pardon my paranoia) for fear of some other author stealing the idea. And no, that narrator isn’t who you might be thinking it is—but close.

FQ: The world, unfortunately, seems to be in a constant state of turmoil these days. After taking on a subject that is, for lack of a more fitting term, nightmarish, do you see a way in which the writer can maybe help to change things: open minds somehow and at least lessen the negativity that’s out there?

DOLAN: I think Holocaust books, fiction and nonfiction, are particularly valuable in this respect, the more nightmarish the better. Based as they are on an event that actually happened as opposed to, say, some writer’s dystopian invention gives the agenda underlying them that much more credibility. And to me, what with the racism that seems to have found renewed vigor in not only this country but others, that agenda should be this: to show people how easily the tiniest flame of prejudice can grow into a forest fire of deadly hate and persecution.

FQ: Do you believe your book, focusing as it does on this particular event, might be therapeutic to people, make them more tolerant, understanding?

DOLAN: See my answer to the previous question. I will add that works like Trumpets aren’t going to change the perceptions of any die-hard racists, but might very well help prevent the ordinary citizen from succumbing to extremism.

FQ: Readers love to know what “A Writing Day in the Life of ___________” is all about. Do you have a certain time set aside to write, a certain way of writing, in a certain location? Are you one who needs complete silence or perhaps prefers music, etc., in the background? What does a J. Michael Dolan writing day consist of?

DOLAN: I’ll try to keep this brief, as I honestly don’t see it fascinating anyone other than my mother. Once I start actually writing the novel, the following applies seven days a week (insofar as that’s possible) until the first draft is done:

Coffee in the morning to wake up, retiring to my office where, yes, I require total silence, editing what I wrote the day before to get back into the flow of things, then working all day only breaking for meals. After dinner I’ll review what I wrote earlier and either edit or add to it for a while, then make every effort for the rest of the evening (all too often unsuccessfully) to put it out of my mind and stop brooding over the damn thing.

Once that first draft is done, and under the same regimen, I can tack on another six months or more for rewrites. All of which, obviously, translates to me having no life when in the death grip of the Muse. And, I like to think, accounts for why I’m no longer married. Ah, well... “C’est la vie, c’est la guerre,” said the Frenchman to the judge at his divorce hearing.

FQ: Is there a way, in your eyes, to make sure a new Holocaust doesn’t occur? Do you think we’ll ever be free of the possibility of another?

DOLAN: Another Holocaust? Unlikely, not to the extent the Nazis perpetrated it anyway. Theirs was a program of genocide unprecedented in history, a meticulously planned, rigorously systematic, industrialized form of mass murder with the full power of a modern European state behind it. It would take a very special and extreme set of circumstances for anything approaching it to be repeated.

On the other hand, variations of it can all too readily crop up, have cropped up, in fact, both before and after the Third Reich: the Turks’ slaughter of their Armenian minority in the 1920’s, that against the Ibo peoples of Nigeria during the Biafran tragedy of the 1960’s, and more recently the wholesale massacres in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. Something of a lesser sort even happened right here in America, the internment camps in WWII California and Arizona, in which U.S. citizens of Japanese origin—men, women, and children—were incarcerated for years in frightful conditions. These weren’t death camps, but were harsh and racially motivated.

What can you, I, or anyone do to make sure genocide doesn’t occur again? The question should be, What are we going to do, how are we going to fight it, who do we hold responsible when it does?

To learn more about The Trumpets of Jericho please read the review.

#AuthorInterview with Dana Ridenour @ridenour_dana

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Diana Buss is talking with Dana Ridenour, author of Beyond the Cabin

FQ: You seem to really know and describe the "Lowcountry" of South Carolina - it seems you have a deep love for it. Why did you choose South Carolina?

RIDENOUR: I do have a deep love and appreciation for the Lowcountry. My family vacationed on the South Carolina coast from the time I was six years old. I spent most of my summers as a teenager and young adult living and working in the area. During that time, I worked as a First Mate for Captain Sandy’s Tours in Georgetown, South Carolina. We provided boat tours of the majestic old rice plantations, shelling and lighthouse tours, and, at night, ghost tours. Captain Sandy taught me everything I know about the history, mystery and romance of this area. That is why the character of Captain Meade plays such an important part in Beyond The Cabin. I retired from the FBI on April 6, 2016 and I loved the area so much I retired in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.

FQ: On behalf of all of us wishing for a bit of romance with our mystery, is there a reason that made you bring Logan into this?

RIDENOUR: My main character in both novels is FBI Special Agent Lexie Montgomery. Like most of us, Lexie is searching for that one special person in life. Lexie’s love life is complicated by the fact that she is an undercover agent in a full-time, deep-cover assignment. She struggles with her attraction to Logan because she isn’t allowed to disclose her true identity to him and knows that it could become a huge problem when she came out of her undercover role. By witnessing Lexie’s internal turmoil over Logan, the readers are able to see and understand the psychological toll that working undercover takes on an agent.

Author Dana Ridenour
FQ: Why is there such a brief but detailed description of the Gullah people? Does it have to do with the fact that you can't judge a book by it's cover, and that prejudice can be misleading?

RIDENOUR: Since my days of working on the boat with Captain Sandy, I have had a fascination with the Gullah people and their customs. I find it interesting that in this region stretching from Sandy Island, South Carolina, to Amelia Island, Florida the Gullah people were able to pass from one generation to the next so much of their ethnic traditions from West Africa dating back to the mid 1700s. I wanted to give my readers a glimpse into the rich, beautiful culture of the Gullah people. I was thrilled to learn that after reading Beyond The Cabin, several book clubs in the area wanted to learn more about Gullah life and traditions. A couple of the book clubs even organized visits to some of the historical South Carolina sites I wrote about in the book. I was quite flattered to know that my book triggered an interest in people that went beyond the pages of a book.

FQ: Would you recommend reading the first book before this, in order to get a better look into who Lexie is?

RIDENOUR: If you have a chance, I would definitely recommend reading Behind The Mask before Beyond The Cabin. Lexie takes on her first undercover mission in Behind The Mask so you get to see how she develops as an undercover agent. Also, if you read the first book, you will understand Lexie and Savannah’s relationship more and see how they became friends. The books were written as stand alone books, but it certainly helps to understand some of the nuances if you read the books in order.

FQ: Did your personal experience influence Lexie's story?

RIDENOUR: Definitely. I spent most of my career as an FBI agent working undercover. I spent several years infiltrating domestic terrorism cells, many like the ones portrayed in my novels. Both novels are fiction, but they are based loosely on real cases and real people that I encountered during my twenty-year career. The character of Lexie came about because of emotions that I experienced as a new undercover agent. Undercover agents have to learn to compartmentalize their emotions, which takes practice. When an agent is new to working undercover, it can be difficult to not get lost in the role. I wanted to give the readers a look into the emotional toll a role can take on an undercover agent. So, in a way the character of Lexie is based largely on my experiences as an undercover agent.

FQ: In the first few pages of Beyond the Cabin, you thank your own personal and real-life Captain Meade. Did he perhaps once keep you safe from danger? Is that part of what inspired you to use a version of him in your story? Would you tell our readers a little bit about him?

The author with Captain Sandy Vermont
RIDENOUR: Captain Sandy Vermont was a naturalist, a storyteller, and a wise man. I worked on his tour boat off and on over many years and we became very close. Captain Sandy shaped and influenced my life in so many ways. His passion for the history, mystery and romance of the area was contagious. My love of the South Carolina Lowcountry came from the countless hours that I spent on the boat with Captain Sandy, listening to his stories and learning about the area. Captain Sandy taught me to throw a cast net, made me laugh, and brought great comfort to me in troubling times. When I was a young adult, facing a crossroads in life, I turned to Captain Sandy for advice. He put me on his boat, took me to a deserted barrier island, and told me to walk the beach and the answers would come. He helped me to find my own way in life and to this day, if I’m in need of answers, I walk the beach and ponder the question until the answer comes.

FQ: Why did you choose to reveal the suspense on the island in the prologue?

RIDENOUR: I wanted to drop the readers directly into the action and give them something to ponder while reading the book. As a reader, I love prologues. As an author I like to give readers something to anticipate and to let them know that they are in for a thrill ride...but they won’t know the outcome until it’s revealed.

FQ: Will you bring Captain Meade back in future books?

RIDENOUR: I dearly love the character of Captain Meade. I enjoyed writing Beyond The Cabin because the setting and the characters were so close to my heart. I think Captain Meade will definitely make an appearance in future books. In fact, I wouldn’t rule out another novel completely set somewhere in the Lowcountry.

FQ: Do you have any more stories in the works?

RIDENOUR: I’m currently working on the third Lexie Montgomery book as well as a spec script for television. The novels are in development for television so there is no slowing down at this point.

To learn more about Beyond the Cabin please read the review.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

#BookReview - The Trumpets of Jericho @dolan1951

The Trumpets of Jericho

By: J. Michael Dolan
Publisher: Monochrome Books
Publication Date: August 2017
ISBN: 978-0-9987008-0-9
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: November 7, 2017

Roza Robota. Chances are high that you do not recognize that name. After reading this incredible book, however, that name and others will be ingrained in your memory as you wonder why on earth you’ve never heard of them before.
We begin in a train car...a horrific scene where people are mashed together with less room than a herd of cattle would be given. Riding the rails, most are wondering when the journey will end and they’ll be brutally murdered. It is the autumn of 1942, and we meet Noah Zabludowicz and his family members on this particular train. Noah is a young man striving with all his might to believe that the train has continued on its path toward this new “death camp” called Auschwitz for a purpose; he’s praying that the people he loves are still breathing because the Nazis have an actual use for them.

As the train moves forward, Noah thinks about a moment that changed his life; a meeting he had with his best friend Godel and Godel’s love, Roza Robota. The trio spoke about the Resistance growing stronger. How they wanted Noah to join the other rebels who were rising up against the hideousness of the Nazi plan. An underground newspaper had been established; people working to get out of the ghetto were fighting for their absolute right to live. This was the beginning. And as the train enters those well-photographed gates to hell, the need for that unbreakable will grows far greater.

Horrors occur: games being played by men who’ve erased the second syllable of the word ‘Mankind’ from their dictionary. Noah experiences a bit of luck in this world that brings him back into Roza’s line of sight. A new uprising, one that took its place in the annals of history as the 1944 uprising at the SS death camp Auschwitz, is what readers get to see, get to be a part of, as they meet the creators of the rebellion and the beasts who fought to bring it to an end. Key players, such as Kap Kaminski and his group are introduced. It is here that “The Trumpets of Jericho” are explained. People who wished to risk it all to stand up and fight are found; people who had jobs in strategic locations within the camp – from the crematoriums to the munitions factory – who are able to place their hands on everything the Nazi’s own. People who garner the rightful disdain or long-awaited praise they justly deserve come together as this book progresses. And when Roza is brought in to help, her confidence and strength causes her to become a true heroine with her own female friends aiding in the fight.

Even without the constraints of length, a review is not a large enough stage to deliver the numerous battles and journeys in this novel. Putting it clearly, J. Michael Dolan not only has done the exorbitant amount of research needed to tell this event to the world, but also has the innate talent to make tears fall when his characters speak of having even their names ripped from them and replaced with numbers tattooed on their skin to mark them as mere property. The author has the skill to make the skin crawl as the SS play games and uses torture in order to syphon the last bit of will from prisoners before ending lives by disgusting and embarrassing means. This author has most definitely placed on paper the highest moral values a human can have, while showing in full-color the maniacal levels one can and will sink to if choosing to follow beliefs that only Satan would have placed on the table as a choice.

Quill says: Do not miss The Trumpets of Jericho. This is the book that proves the human spirit is a very real entity that cannot, in the end, be destroyed.

For more information on The Trumpets of Jericho, please visit the author's Facebook page:

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

#AuthorInterview with Madhu Bazaz Wangu @Madhu_Wangu

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Lynette Latzko is talking with Madhu Bazaz Wangu, author of The Last Suttee

FQ: Most Westerners are not familiar with Indian culture and practices, especially ones that have been outlawed quite some time ago like suttee. What did you hope to accomplish when you began writing The Last Suttee?

WANGU: I wanted to let people of India and the world know that rituals like suttee and similar social traditions, that suppress women, continue to persist in many cultures. I wanted to write socio-economic and cultural reasons of the ritual, put it within the context of modern India and give voice to the ritual murder of a widow. Even one such horror is one too many.

FQ: I read a bit about the suttee of Roop Kanwar in 1987, and was surprised to discover that eleven people were originally charged with glorifying this ritual, but then nearly seventeen years later, in 2004, all were acquitted of the charges. What is your opinion on this new ruling that caused a total reversal of charges?

WANGU: No opinion, just rage! It is good that I channelized my anger and exasperation into the creative act of writing The Last Suttee. Otherwise I would have been living a life of unease with my anger and frustration. I am better at writing than at protesting or staging a sit-in.

FQ: What was the most difficult aspect you were faced with when doing research for The Last Suttee?

WANGU: Meeting and questioning the perpetrators of the ritual murder of Roop Kanwar, including her father-in-law, brother-in-law and his wife.

FQ: Do you believe that the funeral ritual, suttee, will ever be completely eradicated, and if so what do you believe needs to occur to make that change?

WANGU: Eradication of suttee and similar rituals is as complex as eliminating sexual exploitation or drug abuse in a society. They are deeply embedded in people’s psyche. But speaking optimistically, if government intervenes, provides education for free, if people use the internet to make their friends and family aware of social evils and perils of injustice and discrimination so that perpetrators as well as victims are exposed, things are bound to change for the better.

FQ: As a woman I really enjoyed the main character, Kumud Kuthiyala, and appreciated her courage and tenacity, especially when attempting to change the centuries-old beliefs about women (especially widows) in Indian society. Do you have any plans on writing another novel that would include her future endeavors?

WANGU: Not until I read this question! Currently, I am writing a non-fiction book and my second collection of short stories. But you have given me an idea. I might write a novel about Parvati’s work at SGSO with abused and abandoned women, or Alka’s work with girls who flee homes to become actresses in Bollywood.

FQ: In the foreword of your book you mentioned that you participated in National Novel Writing Month (a nonprofit that encourages writers to complete a 50,000-word novel in the month of November) in 2009. Do you think participating in this helped motivate you to continue editing and rewriting, and would you recommend that new writers participate in it to help kick start their writing aspirations?

WANGU: Absolutely! Without NaNoWriMo challenge I may never have written novels. Writing extempore without any inhabitation or fear I poured out 66,000 words in November 2009. The feeling that thousands of other writers around the globe were also participating was a propelling force. Motivational posts by renown authors and by previous participants who had become published authors kept me going. Their pep talks not only stimulated while I was writing in 2009 but inspired me to write drafts of two more novels in 2010 and 2011.

FQ: According to your biography, you were a professor of arts and religions in several universities before deciding to become a full-time writer, and then in 2010, you founded the first Mindful Writers group. What inspired you to move towards a life of writing, and can you explain to readers what mindful writing entails?

WANGU: Teaching Hindu and Buddhist art did not fulfill me the way writing fiction does. In my novels, I can express my thoughts and pour out my emotions. However, teaching taught me significance of being aware of myself, delighting in simple joys of life and treating life’s trials as passing events.

Thirty years ego my daily routine was set: Meditation, journaling and writing my work in progress. The days I did not follow this routine, I couldn’t write with as much gusto as when I did. I felt as if there was a brick wall separating me from my creative flow. And the days I practiced my routine the fount was fluid.

I knew how writers complained about facing writing obstacles and blocks and how they were unable to complete projects. I realized what I practiced was a surefire but secret method that needed to be shared with as many writers as I could. So, in 2010 I started the Mindful Writers Group and called the practice of combining meditation, journal with writing as Writing Meditation Method. I made two CDs “Meditation for Mindful Writers: Body, Heart, Mind” (2011) and “Meditations for Mindful Writers II: Sensations, Feelings, Thoughts” (2017). These CDs are intended solely for this purpose. The method never fails to work. One Mindful Writers Group has now extended into four groups. From January 2018, I plan to start Online Mindful Writers Group on the internet.

FQ: Are you currently working on any projects that your fans can look forward to reading in the future?

WANGU: I’m working on my second set of stories and a non-fiction book, Writing and Living Mindfully: A Guidebook. If you would like to stay informed about this or any other details please visit my website:

To learn more about The Last Suttee please read the review.

#BookReview - Beyond the Cabin @ridenour_dana

Beyond the Cabin

By: Dana Ridenour
Publisher: Deeds Publishing
Publication Date: August 2017
ISBN: 978-1944193942
Reviewed by: Diana Buss
Review Date: November 5, 2017

Lexie Montgomery, an uncover agent for the FBI, has been called to duty in the South Carolina Lowcountry. It appears that a series of terrorist attacks by the Earth Liberation Front have occurred near a big bridge project and she is needed to go undercover to get to the bottom of it. From the beginning, nothing makes sense including the fact that The Earth Liberation Front generally targets the West Coast, not the East. Worst of all, there’s barely a contact agent to ensure her safety and her apartment was not rented by an undercover agent. As much as her head is screaming that something is wrong, she continues with the case. Upon getting acquainted with the general area, she befriends a boat captain, Captain Meade, with whom she is able to get an inside look at the island. Unsure of whether she can trust him, she decides to take a chance, after all, who else is she going to be able to trust out here? She has to start somewhere.

On her travels with Captain Meade, Lexie notices two islands, one filled with traditional Gullah people, and one that a mysterious plane flies to. Tipped off by Captain Meade, who states that she should stay away from that island, she decides to look further into it, however, she can’t get anywhere without a boat. Striking up a deal with Captain Meade, Lexie begins boating classes with the goal of renting a boat and checking out the forbidden island. During her classes, Lexie becomes close to Captain Meade, and she hates knowing that she used him to get what she needed from him. Once her classes are completed, she rents a boat from a young man named Logan Burkhart, with whom she becomes involved. After a few dates, it’s clear they could eventually become much more than friends, but business comes first, relationships will have to come after. After securing the boat and making her way out to the island, she is met by Captain Meade, who issues her a final warning. Ignoring him, she goes to the island, only to find much more than she bargained for and putting herself, and everyone she knows, in harm’s way.

Beyond the Cabin is not a typical book that I would read, but the description drew me in. Not only is the location described beautifully, but the suspense is truly life-like. In addition, Lexie actually has feelings and weaknesses, which was beyond what I expected. I truly thought she would be a tough, hard-as-nails undercover agent who would be difficult to get to know. Perhaps if I would have read the first book, and I wish I had, I might have known more about Lexie and her journey as an undercover agent, as it’s mentioned a few times throughout the book. Her past is referenced and she even meets up with a previous friend from another undercover job, but it isn't necessary to have that background knowledge before reading Beyond the Cabin, as their relationship and Lexie's experiences carry through seamlessly. I really loved this book, and while it may seem a bit backwards, I can’t wait to read the first in this series: Behind the Mask.

Quill says: While suspenseful, this book wasn’t an "over-the-top," extreme thriller, making it perfect for those who love a good a mystery but get slightly unnerved when there’s too much suspense.

For more information on Beyond the Cabin, please visit the author's website at: