Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Five Tips for Writing in a Literary Collaboration @BenedicteRouss

Five tips for writing in a literary collaboration
by Bénédicte Rousseau

As a writer, I believe that the quality of my work is directly linked to my ability to engage entirely with the project I am working on. This is a challenging process, one of rawness and authenticity, that requires dancing with the unknown, and each writer has to find their own way to handle it. For that reason, writing in a literary collaboration is demanding, maybe even excruciating at times. It can nonetheless become an exquisite experience of friendship and growth — if you learn to navigate this collaboration like a pro. 

TIP #1: Create an alliance 
When co-writing a novel, the alliance is an intentionally and consciously shaped partnership that is focused on co-creation. This implies becoming allies in both the doing and the beingwithin the framework of this process of co-creation and understanding that successful partnerships are dynamic and change over time. An alliance is more than a formal agreement or a set of rules. It is a partnership container that integrates the agreed intention (co-writing a novel), the complexity of human beings and interactions (with their full range of emotions), the changeability of circumstances, and principles of evolution and closure. The stronger the alliance, the more efficient your collaboration.

TIP #2: Practice conversation
This one might seem obvious, but it is not. Conversation is not just talking — it is an art form. Moreover, the first level of conversation one should have is with oneself. The truth is that we often are in conflict with different parts of ourselves. In other words, how are you going to get along with your writing partner if you cannot get along with yourself? Human beings often interact with others based on assumptions of what others are feeling, thinking, and wanting. This is part of human nature. Question your assumptions of your writing partner and of your collaboration. Learn to host yourself and to be in conversations that matter, i.e. conversations that foster the process of literary co-creation.

TIP #3: Deal with conflicts   
Relationships are challenging; they involve ups and downs. A literary collaboration is no exception to the rule. Of course, conflicts and moments of chaos can hurt and be destructive. However, the beauty and truth of them is that they bear seeds for individual and collective growth, and they are an opportunity for speaking what really matters from a literary and/or collaborative point of view, in the process reinforcing the alliance. Learn to see conflicts as opportunities. This will improve the quality of your novel and also increase your personal well-being. 

TIP #4: Be flexible 
Life does not happen to you, it happens for you, said Jim Carrey in one of his famous speeches. I believe that is true. Life is in constant movement and happens for you when you go with the flow. This does not mean being passive. On the contrary, it means actively adapting to permanently evolving circumstances and inner changes. Both you and your writing partner are going to change during your collaboration. Therefore, you have to be willing to adjust your alliance whenever appropriate and to build on each other’s ideas, even when it takes you to uncomfortable or uncharted territory. 

TIP #5: Nurture kindness
We may be writers, but we are more fundamentally human beings — I should hope so, anyway. What is there at end of the day but the love that we have given and received? The world does not need another novel or literary genius. The world needs kindness. Writing is a work of emotional nakedness and humbleness in front of the vastness and mystery of existence. Accept being a tool for the sacred to be expressed. Shift your attention to the story that wants to be told at this moment. If you are going to dive deep, kindness and friendship towards yourself and your writing partner are essential. In any case, this partnership will take you where you need to go. And now find yourself a writing collaboration and enjoy the ride! Because it is all about enjoying oneself, isn’t it? 
--



Bénédicte Rousseau is the co-author of the new book, Shaman Express (May 2018). She has a Master’s degree in philosophy. After an unfulfilling corporate career, she quit her job and began traveling the world. She now is a student of the Foundation of Shamanic Studies, and is an active writer and explorer of diverse realities.

For more information, visit www.benedicterousseau.com and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram at @benedicterousseauauthore and on twitter at @BenedicteRouss

Book Review - The Separation. @auctionguy28

The Separation

By: Thomas Duffy
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: January 2018
ISBN: 978-1983520877
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: June 20, 2018
In the year 2075, life in the United States had unfortunately evolved into a chaotic mess. Crime and unemployment was at an all-time high, while teenage pregnancy was out of control. Higher education was almost nonexistent, forcing schools to shut down due to lack of enrollment. By the time the year 2090 arrived, the future of our country was so bleak, the government had decided to take control of the situation by forcing underachieving high school students to be separated by sex and enter into rehabilitation programs, and then, upon completion of the programs, return to their families for further vocational education until the age of twenty-five. However, this decision to separate the sexes did not seem to remedy any issues, and only further frustrated the young into more rebellion. In 2163 it was then voted upon by the citizens of the United States that children born would be immediately separated by sex and raised in same-sex States by same-sex educators until the age of twenty-two and completion of their education. The young adult would then be introduced into mixed sex society where they would be further educated with regards to the opposite sex, and begin gainful employment and integration into society.
The Separation, by author Thomas Duffy, follows the story of Finn Parker, a male separated from his parents at birth and strictly educated by all-male instructors until he turned twenty-two. Finn excelled in his education and became not only a model student, but a model citizen once he was placed into mixed-sex society where he eventually marries Angela, and together they have a child of their own who is also taken away at birth. Though Finn tries to maintain a relationship with Angela, he struggles with his place in society, and ultimately makes several decisions that drastically change his future.
The author does a good job presenting a dark, dystopian story of an oppressive government-controlled society that focuses on education and career advancement at the expense of basic human needs of truth, freedom, and love. The Separation has the potential to be an excellent book, specifically for book clubs, because despite it being set in the future, critical topics, especially related to gender in society, are very relevant today, and will be sure to spark hours of debate amongst members. However, while the story itself is a compelling one, exposing readers to heavy topics such as gender roles, freedom and religion, there are some issues in the writing, mainly in spelling and grammar, that cause some unnecessary hiccups and distractions to the overall flow. Also, while the main character, Finn, is presented in an excellent and likable manner, allowing readers to not only connect with his character, but to root for him throughout the story, the interactions of other characters and the dialog feel a bit flat and forced at times. With that said, the core of the story is presented well enough to hook readers’ curiosity right from the opening lines, following through with a few interesting plot twists, and successfully carrying them towards the ending.
Quill says: The Separation provides readers a good glimpse into a dystopian future that will leave readers thinking about this story long after they have finished reading.

Win A Book!



Have you entered our monthly book giveaway contest yet?  It's quick and easy and you could win a brand-new SIGNED book!  This month we're offering "Wild Wild Weasel" by Salvo Lavis & James Munn.  Just go to our main page and scroll to the bottom and you'll see the entry form.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

#BookReview - Sniper: A Frank Renzi Crime Thriller

Sniper: A Frank Renzi Crime Thriller

By: Susan Fleet
Publisher: Music and Mayhem Press
Publication Date: May 2018
ISBN: 978-1-7321-3010-4
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: June 15, 2018
For those who have enjoyed these books since the word “go,” it is a pleasure to state that even though this is the 8th tale in the Frank Renzi series, this is among the “best of the best” in the crime fiction realm that’s appeared in 2018, thus far.
We head back to the great city of New Orleans and find it to be as provocative and colorful and…dangerous as it was before. The true evil that citizens are putting up with at the moment is a deadly sniper who seems to be picking his victims at random. This is the type of villain who causes the streets to go dead as residents hide behind closed curtains, terrified of the day this person might set his sights on them. Police, unfortunately, are as confused as they possibly could be. The clues are not showing up and the leads are few and far between.
On top of all this, a female has been walking through the doors of the unique shops located in the French Quarter and walking out with highly expensive items. You’d think this thief could be taken in easily, but that’s not happening either. In fact, not only does she have the owners of these shops up in arms, but she’s also garnering headlines that “call out” to the sniper who now wants to set up a meeting with the young woman.
Enter, Frank Renzi. It’s no surprise that this gritty NOPD cop takes the reins of this tale, considering he has shown himself to be the best. His intuition leads him to discover and uncover important information that others just can’t find. Which is good, considering that this sniper’s targets might not be random at all, and with a VIP coming to visit, Frank Renzi may be the only hope there is to stop this crazy killer before the tag “sniper” transforms into “assassin.”
Renzi’s words and thoughts are compelling, and watching him come up with solutions while the plot twists and turns faster than the sniper’s bullet once it leaves the gun, is action at its finest. There is so much intrigue and “sidebars,” so to speak, in this book that the mind constantly races. Various characters’ viewpoints are given by Susan Fleet who has most definitely proved to be a master at the art of writing crime fiction. And with this latest challenge, it is easy to say that if a “Hall of Fame” for beloved detectives existed, Frank Renzi has certainly earned his place.
Quill says: There is not a moment in this book where you will not be completely hooked!
For more information on Sniper, please visit the author's website at: www.susanfleet.com

Thursday, June 14, 2018

#AuthorInterview with Mario Dhingsa @MarioDhingsa

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Holly Connors is talking with Mario Dhingsa, author of High Office Whispers: Pleasure. Power. Pain.
FQ: High Office Whispers is definitely a unique book.  How did you come up with the idea for writing it?
Rory Bremner as Tony Blair
DHINGSA: Growing up in England, some of the funniest programmes were political satire. My favourites were Spitting Image,and the impressionist Rory Bremner. Just before I began writing High Office Whispers, I remember following a lot of news at the time, and just began to imagine the events in between the news headlines.
Ronald Regan on Spitting Image
FQ: There are a lot of political figures you could have written stories about.  How did you decide on those in your three stories?
DHINGSA: It all started with Berlusconi! His headlines were becoming more sensational and increasingly startling. The corruption allegations were mounting, and the debauchery details were soaring. Pope Benedict was also making headlines (though not quitefor the same reasons), and given how close the two of them live in Rome/Vatican City, it seemed natural to assume that the two of them would have to interact at some point on a personal level.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard (left) and the Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott
Silvio Berlusconi and Pope Benedict XVI
Living in New Zealand gave me greater exposure to the acerbic scuffles between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, during her leadership of Australia. The headlines of Putin’s machismo seemed like a natural conclusion to the story’s arc.
Russian President Vladimir Putin
FQ: On your website, you mention that the book was originally written as a radio play.  Was it ever performed?
DHINGSA: I received a really nice letter from Radio New Zealand politely declining it, but they suggested I write something similar on NZ politics. I have always been more excited by the implications of international politics, but I appreciated Radio New Zealand’s consideration.
FQ: All three stories take place in 2011.  Why 2011? Was there something, or some events, that drew you to that year?
DHINGSA: 2011 had so many dramatic and controversial politicians/leaders, six of which are described in High Office Whispers.But it was a fascinating year in its own right: The Arab Spring was unfolding, and the stock markets were unravelling. Osama bin Laden was shot in Pakistan; Prince William married Catherine Middleton; and The Artistwon five Oscars. All in all, an eventful year.
The Occupy Wall Street movement began in September 2011
FQ: This book is quite a departure from your previous works.  Was it more difficult to write?  Or perhaps more enjoyable?
DHINGSA: It was more difficult and more enjoyable! Writing comedy is difficult enough, but political satire requires a certain level of credibility and fact-checking for it to function. However the finished project always brought a smile to my face, and seeing someone genuinely laugh from something you’ve written is one of the warmest feelings in the world.
FQ: Do you have any plans to write another series of short stories dealing with political figures or events?
DHINGSA: My next book, Maps of Bliss and Rage,will be published next year. One of the chapters has a similar High Office Whispers exchange between Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. The more you research such characters, the more you grow to understand them in many unexpected ways.  
Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger
A few friends of mine have asked if I would write something on President Trump. But he doesn’t need me to write his satire; he crafts his own material.
FQ: I understand that you are currently working on a children’s book.  Would you give our readers a sneak peek?
DHINGSA: It’s Blade Runner for children! My son has read some of it and as long as I keep making him laugh, then I have enough of a reason to continue.
FQ: I have to say that my favorite of the three stories was the last, with Putin and Medvedev. I could easily picture Putin acting/reacting the way you imagined. And the ending, without giving it away, was quite funny.  Was it fun to write?
DHINGSA: Everyone seems to love the Putin/Medvedev conversation the most!
Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin
I’m glad that readers finish the book on such a high, even if the characters themselves don’t. It was certainly enjoyable to write. If you can make yourself laugh when you write, then you’re already halfway there. But it was also a little melancholic too; you do wish the characters could break the cycles that they are stuck in.
Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin
FQ: If you wrote another short story about the current Pope, Pope Francis, who do you think he would be meeting with?  
DHINGSA: Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. She was President of Argentina from 2007 – 2015. There were several corruptions scandals during her presidency, some of which are ongoing. Pope Francis is also Argentine, and had campaigned so effectively against corruption in his home country that Kirchner considered him a political rival. If the two of them did meet to talk about the old days and old wounds, it would be a conversation worth listening to.
Pope Francis and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
FQ:  I see that you’re a member of The New Zealand Society of Authors.  We have a lot of authors reading our pages – would you tell them a bit about this organization?  Has it helped you promote your book?  Would you recommend that authors seek out author/writer groups to help promote their works?
DHINGSA: I am a member of the New Zealand Society of Authors, and – when I lived in England – had joined the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain. Both organisations were invaluable towards my development as a writer, and I would strongly recommend any aspiring writers – of any age or ability – to join a similar organisation or author/writer group for at least one year. Anyone who wishes to develop, like so many things in life, are never able to develop on their own.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

#AuthorInterview with Jo Ann Bender

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Barbara Hamburger Scott is talking with Jo Ann Bender, author of Casanova Cowboy: Where the Old West Lives on in the Rusty Springs Valley.
FQ: If you live in Montana, how much comes from the nearby region.
BENDER: I have lived and worked in Montana.  Now, I make my home in Eastern Washington in a very remote area near the Canadian border.
FQ: Do you have a sequel in mind?
BENDER: Yes, the third in the Wild West series is Ladies of the Ti-Pi.  There are five chapters already written.  It takes place right where the Casanova Cowboy leaves the valley to go find Alexis in California. He’ll return for his saddle he left high up in the Oliver Barn in the next book.  Readers will meet Leigh from the first book, Rusty Springs.  She came from Florida, rented the Sheriff’s cabin and returned to live in the area, but in the town of Rusty Springs, not out in the country.  She raises and trains search and rescue dogs now and will be needed to find a person who is missing from the Stitch N’Bitchers.  The underlying theme: best use of time.
FQ: Why did you make Lance such a lover?
BENDER: The cowboy leads the same style of life as the original Casanova of the l7th century.  Both are creative individuals who have many unique qualities and skills, lead adventurous lives and are remembered for their daring feats.
FQ: Do you have knowledge of Viet Nam Vets and PTSD? 
BENDER: In my career with two American Red Cross Chapters (Iowa and Montana), there were many situations in which, as pr director, I had a need to know.
FQ: Why did you decide to make Alexis unresponsive to sex?  Why did you decide to make Lance such a lover, and yet, almost envision him as a monk?
BENDER: The first on a list of a man’s need is for sex.  Next is his need for a woman who shares his recreational passions (football, hiking, other sports, shooting, traveling, etc) and in this case it was a woman unlike any he’s ever known.  She has things to teach him and he is eager to learn.
Lance has the ability to make any woman (or man, too) find him irresistible.  His eyes focus upon the person like a warm shot of Jack Daniels.  He is a hero to many throughout a lifetime, perhaps because he was the only child of a single mom who he felt he had to help in so many ways. He learned about taking care of himself, and others, until his mother had to reluctantly part with him at the early age of 12 and send him off to work at a ranch in Texas.  She was dying and wanted to save him the heartache and not to feel so helpless watching her deterioration.
Woman chased him no matter that he usually found himself working at remote ranches.  But his for love for dancing brought him into contact with so many females.  In this story, when he sees Alexis, in a place in the forest. wise, tiny, standing in the circle of people who want her wisdom and counseling, the sunlight aglow behind her, cupid and his arrow is ready to strike his heart.
Alexis, though she never says so, needs him, whereas others never do in the same way.  He must be with her to protect her as she is dying.  Other women, such as Stormy, pursue him.  His feelings for Alexis are righteous, strong, steady and gentle.  His men friends try to steer him away from Alexis, but, cupid’s arrow has done its job, has penetrated and gone deep.
My novel looks at the powers of seduction, from the unlikely standpoint that this time they are those of a male.  Even the novel’s title, Casanova Cowboy, is flirtatious.
But, so is the prequel: Rusty Springs, a fact that was brought to my attention by a man. “Really?” I asked.  “I guess it could be thought of as sexy.”
Many men want to let me know they’ve read one of my books.  Even my memoir, Snowbirds, non-fiction about an RV trip with problems, has been touted by several guys as my best prose.
Meanwhile, the first two books are now audio books, and so Lebensborn.
Writing audiobooks must be my legacy.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

#BookReview - Casanova Cowboy

Casanova Cowboy: Where the Old West Lives on in the Rusty Springs Valley

By: Jo Ann Bender
Publisher: Bender & Associates
Publication Date: April 2018
ISBN: 978-1882384051
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: June 10, 2018
There’s a new man in town, and he’s a cowboy. This is the underlying theme of the latest novel by author Jo Ann Bender (Rusty Springs, Lebensborn Secrets).
Joy Ann Oliver can hardly wait to tell the Stitch’n’Bitcher club the news: her husband Larry has engaged the services of a cowboy to help out on their Montana ranch for a few months. Lance Turbyfill, it turns out, is a rugged, blue-eyed 50-something cowgirl’s dream, and he is soon ensconced in his self-built tipi (he calls it a lodge) on the Olivers’ property. As he reunites with an old love, and considers a new one, Joy Ann is observing the new ranch hand, and wishing Larry was just a little bit more like Lance.
During his time on the Oliver homestead, likeable, hardworking Lance will join the local scene. He attends a nearby gathering for folks who think the US is headed for a fall and are saving up provisions for that fateful time, and later goes to a meet-up for former Viet Nam vets where he hopes to get some relief from the PTSD that riles up inside him periodically. There he meets a strong-minded, soft-voiced woman named Alexis who has the power to take his bad dreams away.
Lance finds himself needed most when wildfires start up and the winds are carrying the blaze to Rusty Springs. He volunteers to go with a young man named Cole to do some emergency work near an abandoned mine. Neither man realizes that old enemies of Cole are stalking the area, waiting for a chance to exact some long-festering revenge.
These dynamics and more make Bender’s book a fast paced adventurous read with some intellectual and spiritual overtones. Lance is not “just a cowboy” – he helps Joy Ann save Larry’s life and keeps Cole from breaking down when the two of them are in grave danger. Bender seems to have an eye and ear for Americans who break with tradition, whether it be those getting ready for the end times, or vets haunted by the horrors of war, or a cowboy who chooses to live like a Native American. She also displays a pleasant way with language; early on Lance realizes he is losing his enjoyment of the simple pleasures of life: “There is no music in the soul of a man who cannot see the freshness of an early morning after a rain, or a night sky beginning the day.”
There is plenty of action here, and romance, and some sexy interludes. There is also the thread running through the narrative of Joy Ann’s mute longings for a more fulfilling relationship; yet she will not let these feelings destroy the bond she and her husband have been building for so long.
Quill says: This is the modern West at its complex best. Lance is a well-drawn hero with an eye for the ladies and the guts to take on Mother Nature and some nasty bad guys. In the end, he’s off again to chase a new kind of dream. Does this alluring story beg a sequel? Bender’s readers may well hope so.
For more information on Casanova Cowboy, please visit the author's Facebook page at Facebook.com/BenderAssoc