Thursday, June 22, 2017

#BookReview - The 5 Manners of Death


The 5 Manners of Death

By: Darden North
Publisher: WordCrafts Press
Publication Date: June 2017
ISBN: 978-0998941608
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: June 22, 2017

In his newest book, author Darden North has penned a mystery in which the bodies keep piling up, and the reader is kept guessing about who/why all these people died and whether their murders might be connected.

Doctor Diana Bratton is having a bad day. People around her just keep dying. It's true that she's a surgeon, working in a hospital, but it's definitely disconcerting. As the story opens, Diana has come to her Aunt Phoebe's house to check up on the sixty-plus year-old woman. Phoebe has been ill - with the flu perhaps? - and Diana decides it's time to take her to the hospital. As they're getting into the car, Phoebe's neighbor, Carvel Eaves, approaches and greets the ladies. Carvel likes to pick up trash during his walks to help keep the street clean. He tells Phoebe that he found an old piece of paper, apparently written by Phoebe, about "The Five Manners of Death." Phoebe shrugs it off, saying it was just an old college English writing assignment. Phoebe isn't concerned (about her health or the paper) as Diana hustles her to the hospital, but that English composition will come back to haunt Phoebe...

While Phoebe is in the hospital being treated, Diana's ex-husband Alex brings his current wife Blythe in for an exam. Blythe hasn't been feeling well and Alex wants his ex to check her out. While they may be divorced, Alex and Diana do have a daughter so they stay in touch. When Blyth dies, followed by a pharmacist Diana knows, she starts to worry. When a construction worker discovers the remains of a man who died in the 60s on the edge of the University of Mississippi campus, and it turns out the young man was a friend of Phoebe's, Diana's concern turns to outright worry. She has connections at the police station that she uses to try and help clear her aunt's name. But when yet another body is found, it looks like Phoebe may just be guilty...

Set in Mississippi, with a cast that includes not just the characters but the environs around the University of Mississippi, The 5 Manners of Death was a story that kept me guessing throughout. Phoebe was definitely the star of the story as a strong-willed woman with a dash of Southern humor thrown in - she's a woman most people wouldn't want to mess with. A unique twist to this mystery was that there wasn't just one, or two murders to solve, but a whole slew of deaths. And they all fit nicely into Phoebe's "5 Manners of Death" college English paper. Trying to figure out if the deaths were natural or homicides, if they were connected, and if they truly all (or some) pointed to Phoebe was a challenge. While the author does reveal a partial "who-dunnit-it" near the middle of the story (I can't say more without giving too much away), it only adds to the mystery of who killed Phoebe's college friend back in the sixties. In all, The 5 Manners of Death is a satisfying mystery that brings those five manners of death - natural, accidental, suicidal, homicidal and undetermined - to light in a new and unusual way.

Quill says: The 5 Manners of Death is a great read with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing until the very end.





Wednesday, June 21, 2017

#AuthorInterview with Simon Plaster

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking about the book Opry: A Semi-Musical Tale of Honky Tonk Lifestyle,by Simon Plaster.

NOTE: Because Simon Plaster is again under a gag order related to ongoing marital litigation, legal counsel advises that he speak as an anonymous third person.
* * * * *
FQ: Not only is this a great mystery but, as with all your books, your wit keeps a reader both engrossed and having a great deal of fun all at the same time. Does satire come easy to you? Is this a gift - the ability to laugh without coming off as cynical - or is this a learned skill? If so...how the heck do you learn it?

Answer: Plaster has not learned anything about anything since kindergarten, as can be seen by his current studies in wood, in particular his carvings of apples that are usually mistook for radishes.

FQ: What brought you into the writing world?

Answer: With a knife he received on his sixteenth birthday, Simon began carving his name and/or initials on household furniture, tree trunks, a friend's foot, etcetera. At the state reformatory only chalk was allowed, but he carried on with his writing, and later found a pencil in a garbage can.

FQ: I would have to assume you are a country music fan, because you make sure to never "put down," so to speak, the country music and/or honky-tonk lifestyle. If so, do you have a favorite country music star? If there was one you could sit down and speak with, past or present, who would that be and why?

Answer: They're all great, but if he had to pick one, it would be Waylon Jennings, who was a good ol' boy from West Texas and had some lively times, along with John Anderson, Roger Miller, Conway Twitty, George Jones, John Conley and a bunch of others.

FQ: The inspiration for all your plots and characters must come from somewhere. Do you take snippets from the surrounding world or are they really just "out of the blue" thoughts?

Answer: Out of red wine "sippers" would be more like it. Heh, heh.

FQ: Is there a particular genre you would like to write in that you haven't yet explored?

Answer: Plaster would like to explore writing his full name in snow, but the opportunity hardly ever arises in his part of the country, and when it does the wind is usually fierce and cold enough to cause frostbite.

FQ: When it comes to events or even blogs/letters from fans, is there a fan moment that perhaps sticks in your mind that you care to share with readers out there?

Answer: Plaster doesn't have a mailbox, but a moment that sticks in his craw was sight of his soon to be third ex-wife fanning flames in a fireplace kindled by a woodcarving-in-progress of one of his first ex-wive's boobs, that actually did resemble a radish.

FQ: Is Honky Tonk based on a real bar or perhaps a conglomerate of several you have visited? For those of us from other parts of the country, would you share a bit about how these clubs in/around OKC are distinct?

Answer: Most such bars in OKC don't open 'til after dark, so like Maestro Kornhoffer in the book, Plaster has never been inside a honky tonk. He just wanted to make the point that country music is a lot like highbrow opera from overseas, though unlike Kornhoffer, he has never actually seen or heard any longhair music show.

FQ: What comes next? Is there a new mystery headed our way?

Answer: Simon is just now finishing up a new one, titled SPOTS: A Tale of Misfame and Misfortune that is sure to have readers scratching their heads more than usual.

To learn more about Opry: A Semi-Musical Tale of Honky Tonk Lifestyle please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.
















#BookReview - Opry: A Semi-Musical Tale of Honky Tonk Lifestyle


Opry: A Semi-Musical Tale of Honky Tonk Lifestyle

By: Simon Plaster
Publisher: Mossik Press
Publication Date: May 2017
ISBN: 978-0-991448081
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: June 16, 2017

We begin with a line that sums up life, as well as the writing community: God Bless Satire! And, most definitely, those who bring it. Among these few greats is author Simon Plaster. Taking readers to the Oklahoma City stockyards, here he opens the door to a massive joint where the beer is flowing and the KaraOkie contest is heating up. A place aptly named, Honky Tonk.

We begin with Henrietta, who’s sitting inside the building of the OKC SCENE News Group. She’s there for a job opening, and feeling just a little bitter about it. After all, she’s young, has a heck of a resume, and had, up until recently, a big job with a TV network, a boyfriend, and a really cool apartment. Now fired, her boyfriend has run off to Wyoming to be a real cowboy, and she can no longer pay rent. So she finds herself wondering how on earth she’s going to deal with being nothing more than an entertainment reporter covering the nightlife of some small-scale OKC district. But, beggars can’t be choosers. What she gets, however, makes her drool. She is into serious reporting and likes danger, so when she gets appointed to the Stockyards City scene, her pulse races at the thought of covering the news in an area where dark and shady creatures can be found.

There is one place called Honky Tonk which isn’t one of those “happy” party clubs, yet everyone wants to go. The owner, “Moon” Mullins, is currently running a contest which allows all wannabe country stars to have their shot. Jewel McAdoo is basically a shoe-in to win it all, but that becomes difficult to do when she up and disappears under seriously mysterious circumstances.

Once Jewel’s singing partner (as well as a partner in the bedroom), Chad Puckett is dying to win this contest in order to head to Dollywood. But would he eliminate his own past lover to do just that? What about a City Councilwoman who seems like she will do anything to get rid of Honky Tonk for good? We even have a suspect sibling of Jewel’s who literally hates her sister (not to mention her own husband’s cheating ways). But whoever has 'dunnit' (whatever ‘it’ may be), Henrietta the reporter will stop at nothing to solve the mystery and unmask the most evil being of them all.
Broken up into an overture and acts instead of those hum-drum prologue and chapters, every character gets their moment in the sun and time in the shadows, which creates a memorable story. No reader will know what the author has up his sleeve, but all will be singing with glee when everything is brought to light. Perhaps you’ll even head to the closest “honky-tonk” you can find to grab your own brass ring. Of course, if you happen to be living in a state like Maine, locating one of those establishments may be harder than finding the Lost Ark. Advice: Move South.

Quill says: As it was in the beginning...God Bless Satire!

READ THE INTERVIEW!







#BookReview - Harris Estate: The Aftermath

Harris Estate: The Aftermath

By: Stacey Cotter
Publisher: 3L Publishing
Publication Date: July 2017
ISBN: 978-0996677639
Review by: Jennifer Rearick
Review Date: June 17, 2017

Leah Murphy is trying to get her life back to normal, with her husband Kevin and two children, Kayla and Ethan. They've been dealing with some family issues for the past couple of months (see the author's first book Harris Estate) and it's time to get back to living a normal life. One morning Leah decides to start cleaning the house since she has been gone for so long. While she is cleaning the bathroom she notices some unused pregnancy tests from her last pregnancy. Even though she knows what the outcome will be, that she isn't pregnant, she decides to take the test anyway. While she is waiting for it to finish processing, she continues cleaning. When she comes back to the test, she is surprised to see that it is positive.

Leah decides, knowing that there must be some mistake since her husband cannot have anymore children, to go to her doctor for a check up. After her doctor's appointment, she heads off to pick something up before meeting Kevin for lunch. On her way to lunch, she receives a call from her doctor saying that her test results came back and she was in fact pregnant. After hanging up with her doctor, she becomes very panicked thinking about how this could have happened. The stress she experiences causes her to black out and she gets into a car accident.

When Leah doesn't show up for lunch, Kevin starts to get worried. He calls around and ultimately hears about the car accident. When he arrives at the hospital he finds that Leah was placed in a coma and is in critical condition. The doctors also mention that the baby is doing fine. Since Kevin did not know that Leah was pregnant, this comes as a shock to him. As the days go on, and Leah still isn't able to be removed from the coma, Kevin decides to get tested to make sure that he can't have any children. While Kevin is waiting for his results, he learns that there is more to his wife's family issues than he originally thought. Kevin begins to wonder what actually happened while Leah was gone.
Once Kevin receives his results, it is clear that something happened while Leah was away (see the previous book Harris Estate to see what that might be). Since Leah isn't able to answer any questions for him, he must take matters into his own hands. Knowing that this secret could potentially ruin his family, he must figure out a way to make things right.

Harris Estate: The Aftermath is a well written and interesting read. Although it is a sequel, you can still follow along with what is happening. As you start reading you learn a little about what happened in the previous book which brings the reader up-to-date on the action in this book. As the story goes on, the plot starts to come full circle and really connect. Continuing on you get an idea as to what is going to happen, but in the last couple of chapters, a huge bombshell happens. I had an idea as to how the story was going to pan out, and I was completely surprised. Although it was something that I wasn't expecting, it was very good. It made me want to go back and read the fist book.

Quill says: Harris Estate: The Aftermath is a great read that will draw you in and leave you wanting more.






Monday, June 19, 2017

7 Deadly Mistakes Authors Make

7 Deadly Mistakes Authors Make — And How to Avoid Them!
by Tanya Hall, CEO of Greenleaf Book Group 



Perhaps you have thought of writing a book, or you have the beginning shape of your book outlined in a notebook, or you just know it’s something you want to tackle one day. Writing is a book is challenging, and publishing it is even more so. Most every author I meet looks back upon the process and tells me about something they wish they had known up front. 

You can save yourself a few headaches by approaching the process like a writing veteran. Here are seven common mistakes authors make when writing and publishing a book (and how to avoid them):

  1. Writing Without an Audience in Mind The most successful books build an audience over time through word of mouth recommendations. For your book to reach that status, don’t skip the prep work of defining the specific readers you want to reach. It helps to construct reader profiles with demographic and lifestyle details filled in so you always remember who you’re writing for and remain focused on serving that audience.
  2. Freaking Out About Grammar, Syntax, etc While Writing
    Worrying about where to put that comma or when to use “who” or “whom” will pull you out of a writing mood in no time flat. When writing, your job is to get ideas onto paper with a focus on content over execution. There are plenty of editors who will clean up those commas for you so that you stay focused on your best, highest use: delivering your message to your readers. Just get the words down to get started!
  3. Working in a Vacuum
    Writing a manuscript is a huge commitment of time and energy. Many authors refuse to share their writing until it is “done-done,” and when they inevitably get constructive feedback on their work after that point, they are frustrated at the notion of picking the pencil back up and reworking sections. It’s more productive to share your work with a qualified editor or book development coach as you go. Doing so will help you avoid the double-work of rewriting sections that lack clarity, flow, or purpose down the road. 
  4. Not Hiring Professionals 
    Many authors will try to save time or money by leaning on friends and family for editorial and design support. Unfortunately, despite their good intentions, people not trained in the specific art of editing and designing books are not the best people to edit and design your book. You’ll probably end up paying to redo it once a publisher or distributor gives feedback on the end product– so invest in quality work the first time to save yourself the headache of redoing any part of your book.
  5. Shotgun Publishing
    Writing a book well takes time, and launching it to a retail market requires a fair amount of strategy and collaboration. Sometimes authors rush their books to market without regard for retail buying cycles or publicity lead-time requirements. For multiple reasons, it’s much better to launch correctly the first time than to rush it, make some mistakes, and try to re-launch later. Interview a few publicists, publishing professionals, and/or book distribution experts to better understand the timelines they need to boost your chance of success.
  6. Underestimating the Importance of Author Brand and Platform
    It’s hard to over-emphasize the competitive landscape authors face when promoting their books. Today’s authors are competing with other book launches as well as a fire hose of media including blogs, podcasts, tv, film, and all of the other content trying to find an audience on any given day. Marketing and publicity support are critical to for a successful book launch, and that often requires heavy involvement from the author. Plan your schedule in such a way that you have enough time and energy to properly promote your book around the time of its release – but also commit to building your audience early and intentionally through your own platform development efforts.
  7. Flawed Expectations
    It takes a certain amount of confidence to publish a book; writing your ideas out for the world to critique is an admirable act of vulnerability. But don’t let your confidence get in the way of rational thinking. Some authors expect to sell millions of copies in year one without having done any research on the book market, or worse, without having done anything to build their own author platform from which to promote. Realistic expectations will help you maintain your energy during the launch phase and stay focused on why you wrote the book to begin with.  Consult with a publisher or distributor to better understand what “success” might mean by retail standards for your genre. (But it’s fine to have a stretch goal, of course!)
Writing a book certainly involves creativity and artistry, but for it to succeed in retail, the book needs to be treated as a product and developed with the same care, feedback loops, and subject-area partners as any other product being brought to a national market. Invest some time on the front end to ensure that you don’t find yourself trying to unravel one of these common mistakes. 



As CEO of Greenleaf Book Group, Tanya Hall drives the company’s growth efforts and fosters a culture built around serving authors. Prior to her current role, Hall worked directly with Greenleaf’s authors to develop publishing strategies (including multiple New York Times bestsellers); spearheaded growth strategies including Greenleaf’s eBook program and the River Grove Books digital-first imprint; and built Greenleaf’s distribution organization, working directly with retailers and wholesalers to develop one of the fastest growing distribution businesses in the industry. She is a columnist for Inc.com and regularly speaks at business and publishing conferences. Before joining the publishing industry, Tanya worked in digital media and as a television producer. Learn more about Greenleaf Book Group at www.greenleafbookgroup.com and connect on Twitter (@GreenleafBookGr & @TanyaHall) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Greenleaf-Book-Group/).

New England Authors Expo @NEauthorexpo



Contact: Chris Obert
Phone: (978) 372-5825

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Attend the largest New England literary event this summer.
Meet and greet over 75 of your favorite authors & illustrators!


New England Authors Expo was created for die-hard readers who love, eat and breathe books. With over 100 authors, illustrators and publishers invited from all over New England, you are bound to find books you love and cherish the conversations with your favorite authors. In addition to the expo we will be having panels and lectures in the downstairs ballroom.

Here’s the best part - The Expo is FREE for the general public. New England Authors Expo will take place on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 at the picturesque Danversport Yacht Club located at 161 Elliott Street (Route 62) in Danvers, MA. Doors will be open to the public for the panels and lectures from 11:30 AM to 9:00 PM. Doors will be open to the public for the book sale from 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Doors are open for librarians, bookstore owners and the media from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM.

In addition to authors, the Expo also invites service providers to the literary community. It simply creates a win-win situation for everybody. Whether you are a fan, an established author or a new-and-upcoming author, you will find value at the New England Authors Expo. In our experience, New England Authors Expo has always been much more fun when attended with a friend.


About the New England Authors Expo

New England Authors Expo started eleven years ago hosting author events and this is their sixth year hosting the large summer expo. NEAE events quickly gained notoriety and today their events are recognized as some of the best events in New England’s literary world. The summer expo has a national audience with visitors coming from as far as New York, Texas, California and Alaska.

To learn more visit www.NewEnglandAuthorsExpo.com or visit our Facebook and Twitter pages.


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Friday, June 16, 2017

#BookReview - Time Without @veronicatabares


Time Without

By: Veronica R. Tabares
Publisher: Sun Break Publishing
Publication Date: July 2017
ISBN: 978-1-60916-017-3
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: June 14, 2017

For those lucky enough to have read Veronica Tabares’ last title, Gray Zone, about a cyber-prank gone wrong, you’ll absolutely LOVE Time Without.

Vanessa is a woman who just happens to have the ability to travel through time. Once, she even traveled through time and the scientists in the future wanted to keep her there in order to protect the time line. But when they found out she was to be the mother of the eventual creators of time travel, they had no choice but to send her back to the 21st-century. Giving an oath, Vanessa swore to keep quiet about what she’d seen.

Thus far, this morning, Vanessa has been “lost in a dream” about a castle made of cake with towers of white icing. She had been arguing with the stingy owner about which parts she could eat when the ringing of her telephone pulls her from the scrumptious dream. When she answers this annoying ring, she finds a doctor on the other end telling her that her husband, Tony, has been in an accident.
In 3027, a loving couple by the name of Philip and Annabel Jensen are living their own lives. Philip loves his wife but right now is really angry that he has been turned down for the job position of Chief Scientist of the DTA lab (Department of Temporal Adjustment), even though he’s the most qualified applicant they have. He believes he’s being penalized for his “Adonis-like” looks. (It’s rough to be the smartest of all yet your stunning high cheekbones stop your road to success, isn’t it?) Very upset, he asks his super-intelligent wife to make a small ‘jump’ into the past to ‘tweak’ the course of his future so that he will land the job. Annabel is frightened of doing this, considering any small hiccup could alter the entire time line, but she loves her husband. Besides, what he’s asking her to do is miniscule and shouldn’t really have any effects if done both quickly and correctly.

Once again we are with Vanessa in her delightful dream. The phone rings in her 21st-century house and a very odd doctor who will only talk to the “man of the house” because those are the “rules,” needs to tell someone that her husband, Tony, has been in an accident. Seems that a small ‘tweak’ made by a loving wife in 3027 has completely altered Vanessa’s life. She must suddenly embark on a journey to change things back to what they’re supposed to be. Because if she and her children fail, it’s very possible the eventual creators of time travel will end up working at KFC instead.

Quill says: This author continues to write stories that are fun, uplifting and highly, highly intelligent. You’ll have a ball with this one!

For more information on Time Without, please visit the author's website at: veronicatabares.com