Sunday, January 14, 2018

#AuthorInterview with David Litwack @DavidLitwack

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with David Litwack, author of The Light of Reason: The Seekers (Book 3)

FQ: As an entrepreneur who developed several successful businesses...when, exactly did you have time to write?

LITWACK: The short answer is, I didn’t. Between building businesses and raising a family, I gave up writing for many years, until my two sons were grown and I had more time.

FQ: According to your bio, you wrote exactly five pages a day. I have to ask: How many do you get to write now? And, as in the past, are you a writer who makes sure to set a certain number of pages to complete each day?

LITWACK: In the early days, I needed the discipline of completing five pages. This was especially true when producing the Seekers trilogy, which was a daunting task. Now, I write when the ideas swirling in my brain compel me to—less frequently than before, but with better results.

FQ: Orah and Nathaniel are a fantastic duo. Where did the idea for this tale come from? Are the characters based on people in real life, perhaps?

LITWACK: I suspect all fiction has an element of real life experience, but for me the characters evolve with the story. I get to know them as one gets to know close friends over a period of years, constantly discovering something new about them. Many times, I attempted a plot turn, but Orah and Nathaniel resisted.

Both of these characters sprouted from a seed, planted during a long walk along Falmouth Heights beach near my home on Cape Cod. This path along the ocean passes two inlets: Little Pond and Great Pond. I imagined growing up in Little Pond with a sense that there was something greater out there waiting. My main characters are two sides of this feeling: Nathaniel is idealistic but impulsive, willing to take any risk to fulfill his adolescent vision of greatness; Orah wants just as much from life, but is more cautious. She approaches each challenge with careful planning, although she’s no less passionate than Nathaniel.

FQ: As a writer, how difficult was it to say so long to characters that have been with you for so long? Is there a time of depression that comes after the final edit has taken place and it’s off for publishing?

LITWACK: The parting was harder than I thought. I’d lived with these characters for more than four years, my mood rising and falling with their successes and failures. Like them, I struggled to find solutions to their seemingly insurmountable problems. The good news is that I can visit them anytime I wish and share memories.

FQ: So what is being planned for 2018? Do you already have a new series in mind, and, if so, can you give readers a sneak preview of what’s going on in that creative mind of yours?

LITWACK: I’m hoping to release a couple of books by the end of 2018. The first will be a new edition of one of my favorites, Along the Watchtower. Like many of my works, this one crosses genres, but more so than the others. It takes place half in the world of a wounded Iraq War vet rehabilitating in a VA hospital, and half in a fantasy realm concocted by his damaged mind, where he strives to overcome demons he’s unable to confront in the real world.

The second is a work-in-progress, and has been tough going, due to a variety of factors: needing a break after the four-year push to complete the Seekers trilogy; some family health issues; and a shift in the kind of novel I wanted to write.

I’ve completed fifty thousand words, but will require some effort to publish by the end of 2018. Like Along the Watchtower, this next novel is a mix of fantasy and reality, but in this story, the protagonist actually crosses into a fantasy realm, thanks to the power of magic.

Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone, gave the classic definition of Science Fiction vs. Fantasy:
“It is said that science fiction and fantasy are two different things. Science fiction is the improbable made possible, and fantasy is the impossible made probable.”

My latest work moves further into fantasy than any of my others. In an increasingly chaotic world, sometimes even the possible seems too remote. Time to step through that door and use magic to make the impossible probable.

Stay tuned.

FQ: Is there a certain genre you have not yet written in which you would like to try one day? Is Sci-Fi/Dystopian your favorite realm?

LITWACK: I like to claim that I write literary speculative fiction, which lets me explore my major themes without the constraints of reality. In some cases, this requires an alternate or dystopian world. In others, it may be a alternate view of reality as seen through the eyes of my main character. With my next effort, I’m adding the dimension of magic.

The “literary” label tries to distinguish my works from pure genre fiction (scifi or fantasy). I always aspire to create strong characters, explore thoughtful themes, and tell a good story.

FQ: Considering all that you have done in life, was there ever a time when that “dream” of becoming a writer disappeared? If so, what encouragement/event allowed you to resuscitate that dream?

LITWACK: I wrote throughout my twenties and then stopped as career and family intervened. But truth be told, I also stopped because, as an insecure twenty-something, I needed some positive reinforcement. They say to become a good writer takes ten thousand hours and a million words. After several years, I was less than halfway there. My writing also suffered from some of the pretenses of youth, having not yet learned the most important skill of a writer—to tell a good story.

Of course, I wish I had all those years back to allow me to write more books, but I believe that the passage of time—with so many new experiences (good and bad)—was needed to get me to where I am today.

FQ: Authors are always asked to give a piece of advice to those who are just beginning down the writing path; something they should do that will help them on their journey. But if you could give one piece of advice on what not to do, or what to avoid, what would that be?

LITWACK: On the craft side, read, read, read, and write, write, write. There’s no shortcut and no substitute. On the emotional side, if you love it so deeply that you have no choice but to write, keep at it and never quit. If not, give it up. It’s not an easy path.

To learn more about The Light of Reason: The Seekers (Book 3) please read the review.
























#BookReview - A Deadly Ecliar


A Deadly Éclair: A French Bistro Mystery

By: Daryl Wood Gerber
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: November 2017
ISBN: 978-1683313410
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 15, 2018

Agatha award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber gives her new "French Bistro" mystery series a strong start with the first book in the series, A Deadly Éclair.
As the series opens, we meet Mimi Rousseau, a seasoned chef, who has been forced to leave San Francisco by her husband's untimely death and his enormous debt. She returns home to Nouvelle Vie in Napa Valley, where her best friend Jo introduces Mimi to Bryan Baker. Bryan, a wealthy entrepreneur who loves to help young people who he thinks hold promise, sees something in Mimi and quickly agrees to finance her dream - a bistro and right next door to it - a cute little bed and breakfast. Both businesses are in need of "love" and Mimi quickly gets to work to build both businesses and work off her debt to Bryan.

The first event at the inn is the wedding of Angelica Edmonton, a famous talk show host who also happens to be the daughter of Bryan's half brother Edison. No pressure to pull off the perfect event...

Mimi and her devoted staff get to work to cook up some amazing, memorable food for both the wedding reception as well as the dinner the night before the wedding. While the food is amazing, some of the guests could use some lessons in manners, including the bride's father Edison, who gets drunk at the dinner and causes some problems. Mimi is able to get the guests, and the dinner, back on track and the evening finishes up on a strong note. But the real trouble is about to begin...

The next morning, Bryan is found dead with an éclair stuffed into his mouth. Mimi is just as stunned as everyone else but when the evidence starts pointing to her, she knows she's going to have to work hard to clear her name - and find the real killer. Shortly after Bryan's body is found, Sergeant Tyson Daly, a childhood friend of Mimi's, arrives to question her. It seems that somebody called Bryan shortly before he was killed, and the call came from Mimi's cell phone. And then when it's discovered that Bryan left a letter in his office that said if he should die, his estate would forgive Mimi's debt, things go from bad to worse for Mimi. Strong motive indeed!

Told in the first person by Mimi, it was easy to get drawn into the story quickly. The author brings Mimi to life and makes her a likeable character, and the reader can certainly feel the pressure she was under, hoping her first event would be a success. Background information is introduced quickly so that the story can gear up and get going. There were a few spots in the book where the story slowed a bit, but overall it was a very enjoyable read. It's not the sort of mystery where I have to stay up late into the night to finish the book, but rather an easy read over several days. Note that when you read this book, you'll likely get hungry over and over as Mimi is always cooking up something delicious. Fortunately, the author has included numerous recipes at the back of the book so readers can enjoy some of the same delicacies that the protagonist created at her bistro.

Quill says: A Deadly Éclair is a strong start to a new cozy mystery series.







Thursday, January 11, 2018

#BookReview - A Penny for Your Thoughts @SherrillCannon


A Penny for Your Thoughts

By: Sherrill S. Cannon
Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing
Publication Date: November 2017
ISBN: 978-1946540560
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Review Date: January 12, 2018

Award-winning author Sherrill Cannon has a knack for turning feelings into words in her latest book of poems on love and loss.

Cannon’s newest has been a long time in the making. A collection of one hundred plus poems geared for a wide range of ages (middle school on) who have experienced the joys and sorrows associated with love, Cannon’s writing reflects many, many years of creativity that didn’t just pile up in notebooks. According to her website, the former teacher applied her gift of wordsmithing to help others: "As a teacher, I used poetry to help counsel many troubled teens and friends, and have continued this pattern throughout the years."

Now in book form, and appropriately divided into three poignant sections, Cannon invites readers to embrace her words of wisdom through this marvelous journey called life.

Subtitled Poems of Love and Loss (Feelings Into Words), Cannon goes a step further by adding Coin Toss? in her Table of Contents. Each carefully weighed section—Heads...Of Love and Friendship; Spinning—Of Related Emotions; and Tails...of Heartache and Anguish—begins to make sense...one poem at a time.

Keeping largely but not exclusively to first-person narrative, her first section centers on light issues, such as friends, lovers, parent and child relationships, God, music, and even the beloved Teddy Bear. But as she moves on to sections two and three, the timbre slowly darkens into areas of loss, such as loved ones moving away and death.

Cannon’s assortment of mellifluous poetry, many sprinkled with puns, is replete with free verse, blank verse, couplets, simple 4-line rhymes, alternating rhymes, quatrains, haiku, and concrete poems, just to name a few. Amid the bulk of Cannon’s work, though, are sonnets.
While the various poetic forms in A Penny for Your Thoughts do admirably to translate “feelings into words,” Cannon capitalizes upon her love theme by using a potent structure to verbalize this amorous mien: the Shakespearean sonnet.

Audiences familiar with The Bard’s works will immediately recognize how Cannon effectively captures the varied expressions of this commanding yet fickled four-letter word that is known as “love.” Perfect examples of the Shakespearean sonnet include “Music,” “Sonnet to Friendship,” and “The Road.”

(From “Music”)


“Stop and hear the music in your life— A melody for you to sing along; For it will soothe your heart and ease your strife. If you would only listen to its song...”

Second to the Shakespearean sonnet usage is the Petrarchan. Examples include “A Memory,” “Tentative,” and “The Transplant.”

(From “Transplant”)


“It really wasn’t very long ago, My plant was set into this strange new ground Where everything was different. But it found That even in new sunlight, it could grow...”

There is no vulgarity. Every word spoken is straightforward, intentional, and from the heart. If the reader follows judiciously, he/she will discover that the poems provide plenty to ruminate on and are very therapeutic for those who have unresolved conflict.

Quill says: A Penny for Your Thoughts is so much more than another compilation of poems; it is indeed a book of healing.

For more information on A Penny for Your Thoughts, please visit the publisher's website at: www.sbpra.com/sherrillscannon
















#BookReview - The Light of Reason @DavidLitwack


The Light of Reason: The Seekers (Book 3)

By: David Litwack
Publisher: Evolved Publishing LLC
Publication Date: November 2016
ISBN: 978-1-62253-438-8
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: January 9, 2018

What began in the spectacular book, The Children of Darkness, and then continued in the equally-spectacular, The Stuff of Stars, now concludes with this, The Light of Reason. Let us just begin with the fact that this author has most definitely created a memorable ending for this great series that speaks to readers. In fact, this is one of those rare series that do the genres of Science Fiction, Dystopian Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, and even Religious Fiction, proud.

First, a quick recap: This journey stars childhood friends, Orah and Nathaniel—two kids who grew up in the very small village of Little Pond. Like most who are born in areas that are limited when it comes to things to do, Orah and Nathaniel always wanted to see the world and experience life outside the borders of their town.

Little Pond was not always considered a “nice area.” In fact, a thousand years ago the “Darkness” came upon the village; a world ruled by fear and violence commenced, where technology brought about evil. It was the vicars of the Temple of Light who introduced peace and kept it for centuries by utilizing what they called “temple magic.” When Thomas—Orah and Nathaniel’s pal—returned from the Temple after his teaching, he was a depressed, broken young man. And when Orah received her summons to go to said temple to receive her instruction, Nathaniel rushed to save her from becoming just as broken.

This journey went into the prisons of Temple City, and allowed readers to join Orah and Nathaniel’s escape as they kept one step ahead of lies and secrets in order to find the forbidden keep. Now, concluding their story, this couple has finally accomplished what they sought out to do...and so much more. They are now on a ship headed home in order to bring about a better, kinder life for the people of Little Pond. They have missed their family and friends terribly, and can’t wait to see their village once again. They are also no longer just friends: Orah and Nathaniel return to Little Pond as husband and wife.

The ship they travel aboard was designed by the dreamers, some of which have accompanied them home. The first glimpse of their past comes in the form of a bright light cutting through the fog; a light that blazes from the top of a wooden tower on the seashore that had never been there before. Nathaniel’s father is waiting for their arrival. But instead of being the vibrant man they once knew, he is now a weary soul who looks as if death is only a short distance away. The reason for this comes with a tale that includes the disappearance of a loved one, and a mighty, evil grand vicar (AKA: The Usurper) who has literally strived for power and has been crushing anyone and anything that gets in his way or attempts to usurp his reign.

Orah and Nathaniel planned for a fabulous homecoming, where their newly acquired wisdom, combined with a “special treasure” they have brought with them, would usher in a new age for Little Pond. Unfortunately, a horrific battle lay in front of them instead. The seekers are about to become leaders of an army that will have to fight evil in order to see the days of enlightenment begin.
In a nutshell: Start with Book 1 and immerse yourself in these incredible seekers, dreamers, keepmasters, and more. You will be completely pleased with this author’s incredible writing, the flow of the dialogue, and will ultimately fall in love with two young people who grew up to be incredible adults.

Quill says: Make room on your bookshelves because this is definitely a trilogy you will want to read again and again.

For more information on The Light of Reason: The Seekers (Book 3), please visit the author's website at: www.davidlitwack.com









Monday, January 8, 2018

#BookReview - His Grandfather's House @ronfritsch


His Grandfather’s House

By: Ron Fritsch
Publisher: Asymmetric Worlds
Publication Date: November 2017
ISBN: 978-0997882933
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: January 6, 2018

One of the few consistent parent figures in Kurt Reinhart’s life was his grandfather Henry Reinhart. Kurt’s actual parents were Johnny Reinhart and Lorelei Juergen, who married quickly at eighteen years old in a shotgun wedding at the Justice of the Peace. Five months later Kurt was born and then his father Johnny quickly enlisted and went to fight in World War II. During those times Lorelei became more and more distant from her son, and when Johnny returned from the war she quickly ran off with a gentleman friend from California. The trauma from the war and then the betrayal of his wife was too much for Johnny to handle, and he took his own life just after his son, Kurt, had turned four.

Now, with both parents gone, Henry takes it upon himself to raise his grandson and teach him all about running the farm. Kurt is eager to learn and takes pride in doing everything his grandfather teaches him, and he even decides against doing sports to make sure he is there to help his grandfather on the farm. However, there have always been accusations surrounding Henry Reinhart that suggest he only acquired the land he has by committing murder. The rumors all started when Henry’s brother Conrad was found drowned in a creek when they were children. Henry was the only one who saw what happened, and even though there was no hard evidence against him, the entire town instantly assumed that Henry killed his brother in order to obtain their father’s farm.

These accusations never made any sense to Kurt, because the man he saw and had come to love was not a murderer. Sure, he was a tough businessman who worked toward his goals, but Kurt never believed he would have actually killed someone, especially his own brother. As Kurt grew up he wanted to know the truth about his grandfather, so he would inquire with other members of the family and friends of his grandfather, trying to get to the bottom of these accusations. For, the man who had raised Kurt from childhood couldn’t be a cold-blooded killer, could he?

The plot of this book is quite intriguing as it is filled with secrets, small town gossip, and also a little action. The new developments that emerged as Kurt began to learn more and more about his grandfather’s past was exciting, but I did find this book a little hard to follow at times. It is not written in the first person from Kurt or Henry's point of view, but rather it's told by several of the characters. All the different "voices" and points of view often made the story confusing. There are numerous times where the author writes about something that happened in the past, and at those times I found that I had to stop and figure out what was happening in the story. Still, the plot was absorbing and I found myself eager to discover the truth about Henry Reinhart.

Quill says: While the writing style holds the characters back a bit, His Grandfather's House has an interesting plot that will keep you wondering what really did happen all those years ago.

To learn more about His Grandfather's House, please visit the book's website at: www.hisgrandfathershouse.com






#BookReview - Obedience @vgkilgore


Obedience

By: V.G. Kilgore
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: April 2017
ISBN: 978-1546343301
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: January 5, 2018

The story of Noah, the Ark, and the flood is one that many people know well, but little is said about what happened in the time after the flood. After all, life had to find a way to continue after the rains had stopped and author V.G. Kilgore gives us a glimpse into what transpired when the Ark finally hit land again.

Noah’s youngest son Ham has never been the most obedient child, but he has always been a hard worker and became a huge help to his father. However, when Ham fell in love with Lita, the daughter of a fisherman, his whole outlook on the world changed. Suddenly, she was all he could think about and he would go down to the shores to buy fish from her father just to catch a glimpse of her. With feelings this strong, Ham could not help but think that this type of passion could only come from God. Unfortunately, Noah did not share Ham's view on the romance, and wanted Ham to marry someone of Noah's choosing, and a woman who held a higher rank in the community. Knowing that his feelings for Lita would not let him be happy with another woman, Ham told his father that if he did not give his blessing for their marriage he would leave, and Noah would then lose his hardworking son. With a grumble Noah agrees and allows Ham and Lita to marry.

After their marriage, Ham and Lita were extremely happy. A very loving couple, they had seven children together.

When Noah tells his family of God’s command to build an Ark, Ham begins to question his father's sanity, for why would God ask a farmer to build a boat? Even though he is not sure, Ham does what he is asked and helps to build this boat and is surprised when pairs of all the animals come forward to board, just as his father said they would. As Ham and his wife cling to each other when the flood waters come, they both grieve over the people who are lost and hope that wherever this journey is taking them, it will bring a better life. Over the course of the forty days they are aboard the Ark, Lita finds out she is pregnant and the pair are elated that their child will be the first born in the new world. When the rains stop and the Ark hits land, everyone on board is ready to start their new lives and establish rules and traditions for a new future. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes both Ham and Lita, leaving them wondering if this life is really any better than the one they left behind; the one that was devoured in water.

This book was quite fun and intriguing to read. When I first read the book's summary, I was worried the writing would be too structured - much like a history book instead of a novel. Fortunately, author V.G. Kilgore writes in such a way that it was just like reading a good dramatic story. Each of the characters were developed fully, as their unique personalities were shown allowing the reader to relate to each one. This is not a book that is simply restating a famous story, but one that dives deeper into the emotions, the fears, and the joys that each character would have felt and that made for a great story.

Quill says: This was a wonderful book, giving the reader a great addition to a well-known story.
For more information on Obedience, please visit the author's Facebook page.







#BookReview - Walking with the Enemy


Walking with the Enemy: A Testimony

By: C. Read
Publisher: True Light Publications
Publication Date: June 2015
ISBN: 978-0-9672825-7-2
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: January 5, 2018

In the world we live in today, it is not that difficult to come across a news story that is pure evil. What is amazingly difficult, however – as well as frightening – is the fact that because of so many horrific events, people are hardly batting an eyelash when the next one hits the headlines. It is rare to find that glimmer of hope...a story that, although wrapped in horror relates how a person walked through darkness in order to see the light through the power of her faith in God.

Not unlike the Branch Davidians who suffered death and destruction by following the teachings of a demon by the name of David Koresh (who, unfortunately will live in all of our memories for a good, long time to come), this woman discovered her faith only to find herself immersed in a Bible study group that was all about lies. A collection of people who most definitely fell under the definition of “cult” and not an actual loving group.

C. Read is not a flighty woman, by the way. We are talking about a member of the United States Marine Corp. who found her way and committed her life to the Lord in the fall of 1979. A Marine, whom she had never met, came up to this woman, handed her a Bible and walked away. This was the moment in time when C. Read began studying Jesus and walking down a path that had everything to do with living a life based on faith. For three years Read was a part of a Bible study group with members and “leaders” who she had grown to love and respect. When lies were uncovered, however, and the truth was revealed about evil things these people were doing and saying, that respect and trust was lost.

In this book, readers are given her testimony. She explains various meetings and offers up a variety of letters that went back and forth between her and the leaders/members of the group, as well as letters that her husband penned when it came to his outlook of what was going on. She shows how Bill and his ministry strived to get her back within the confines of the group, and how much they wanted to get her back under their control so she would not release the truth about them and their teachings to the rest of the world. She offers up many experiences; she also includes a section of End Notes that give extra information on the events she talks about, as well as the scripture she quotes.

Readers will note that this testimony – the unveiling of secrets, etc. – takes a while to be told. For approximately the first 100 pages of this book, the reader is given many of the letters to read that do not exactly get into the facts. Instead, these are letters stating who was right and who was wrong, and why. There are also apologies by the author to friends and family, as well as a great deal of scripture references before getting to the exact details of what occurred.

In the end, this is all about one woman’s enlightenment, and she does a good job of bringing hope and restoring faith to readers who perhaps have misplaced theirs along the way. Whether you are a believer or a critic, C. Read’s testimony is something you should “listen to.”

Quill says: This author should be commended for bringing her struggle to light in order to make others aware of the evil that is still, unfortunately, operating among us.

For more information on Walking with the Enemy: A Testimony, please visit the publisher's website at: www.truelightpublications.com