Wednesday, May 22, 2019

#AuthorInterview with Simon Plaster



FQ: As a master storyteller who has some strong points, to say the least, talk about politics of 2019. Readers and fans want to hear what you have to say about the “world of Trump” and the “path” the U.S. is on as we speak.
PLASTER: Readers and fans ought to buy my latest books if they want to know what...Excuse me, Amy, could we just skip ahead to that question you mentioned about the publishing business. I have to get on a Greyhound Bus in a matter of minutes.
FQ: Your views on today’s authors: Who is doing it right, and what would be the one thing you would change if possible when it comes to the world of publishing?
PLASTER: What I would change is my own dang publisher, from Mossik Press to someone who is a heck of a lot better at marketing; that’s what I would do. The Mossik bossman out there in California, Marty Lowry; he talks a good game on the phone, but...Well, here I am, in Del Rio, Texas, for a book signing event that the sumbitch set up. I had to pay my own way to get here before finding out that the Mercado Poco convenience store only had two books in stock; neither one of them mine and both in Spanish. I went ahead and signed them, but won’t make a penny off the deal.
On the other hand, I guess I should be thankful not to be stuck in a kibbutz over there in Israel, where Marty also wanted me to go, on my own dime. He says Plasterworks sell like hot knishes in the Holy Land, but shekels coming my way have been sparse.
I know, I know; I should have checked into Marty Lowry’s background before I got in bed with the sumbitch, but...Only long after the fact — I had already sent nine or ten typed-up tales out there — did I find out that the word “mossik” is Yiddish, and means “prankster.” So I guess the joke’s on me.
FQ: What’s up next? Are you working on Henrietta’s next tale? Or is there a different book in the works? 
PLASTER: My latest tale is already in Marty Lowry’s hands, and — dang it — I only typed up that one copy. Henrietta rides again, alright. I can’t tell you the title, ‘cause I forgot to make up one, but I can tell you this: The tale replays a big event that took place almost a hundred years ago — one of the most important events in American history that led directly to the election of Donald Trump — though not ten out of a hundred people now living have ever heard of it; nine of which have a misunderstanding based on a motion picture account. Henrietta snouts out a couple of villains patterned after sumbitches thought of by most to have been heroes. I have not yet heard back from Marty Lowry on the matter, so can’t say if or when...Sorry, Amy, I’ve got to get on that bus and head up the road to Odessa for a book signing at an Arturo’s convenience store. Hasta la vista, my dear.
FQ: Thank you once again for bringing Henrietta and her wit into my world. Have a great day!

Friday, May 17, 2019

#BookReview - The Boy Who Grew A Forest

The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng

By: Sophia Gholz
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: March 2019
ISBN: 978-1534110243
Reviewed by: Gina Montanha
Review Date: May 8, 2019

This wonderful little story briefly outlines the life of a young Indian boy named Jadav Payneg and his home near Majuli Island in northeastern India. As a young teenager in 1979, he became quite distraught when the annual floodwaters would steal away the land, little by little. He knew how important trees were for so many reasons and as the trees washed away, animals went with them. When he saw hundreds of dead snakes he knew he had to do something to help.
The elders of his village were able to provide him with bamboo saplings, which he painstakingly planted, watered and nurtured, all on his own for many years. Even after the bamboo was a great success, he continued to do everything in his power to assure there would be plenty of food and shelter for the wild animals of the land. From his 20 original saplings, he eventually fostered a 40-acre forest that has since been named after him!
The beautiful illustrations of Jadav growing from a boy to a man accompany the development and maturity of the forest, as it goes from barren browns to lush greens. All of the animals depicted are simple, yet realistic, from bunnies and birds to rhinos and tigers. The author even includes instructions at the end of the book on how to “Plant a Forest of Your Own.”
Quill says: The Boy Who Grew A Forestis an incredible true story of how one small boy’s big dream literally grew into a thriving reality. It is possible for a single person to make a big difference in the world!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

#BookReview - BROKLA: A Tale of Things Falling Apart

BROKLA: A Tale of Things Falling Apart

By: Simon Plaster
Publisher: Mossik Press
Publication Date: March 2019
ISBN: 978-0-9994-1852-9
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: May 13, 2019 
We begin with the ever-vigilant—and slightly angered by the establishment when it comes to granting her a story that will win her the Pulitzer—reporter by the name of Henrietta. For those who have been reading this series, leap for joy that this amazing female protagonist is back and better than ever. For those not following Henrietta, the heck with you. No, just kidding, jump on board so you don’t miss this one!
From a small town, she is pure Oklahoman when it comes to her spirit and desire to “be all that she can be” in the journalistic world. This time around, she is filled with glee, considering that her boss, Nigel Fleetwood, at the local newspaper she works at – SCENE – has offered her what she feels is a juicy assignment, one that will perhaps bring her the fame she has longed for all this time. Readers sit beside Henrietta at a Town Hall Lecture Series (one that will bring back memories for all small-towners, like myself). Her assignment? She is to cover the Lecture Series and soon finds herself delving into the life of a “top secret” colonel who has a resume of monumental proportions. We’re talking about a “think tank” expert from a foreign government who’s using his time in the ‘spotlight’ to speak about a variety of subjects that include prophesies about how the United States will fare in the future. But he is not the only one Henrietta meets up with. Sitting at the table with Colonel Top Secret is Agent X; his job is to interpret the horrendous and dastardly predictions that this foreign military leader is voicing. 
We proceed on a trip of monumental (and extremely humorous) proportions, as the author—through his memorable cast of characters—takes on a great deal of issues and makes them not only more interesting, but also sheds new light on points of view that need to be heard more often. To name a few: the U.S. headlines that have brought about controversy since Trump has taken office; a possible secession of one pretty large state that would make the U.S. map look more than a bit ridiculous if it were to happen; and even sports subjects, such as the intense rivalry between the Lone Star State and Oklahoma when it comes to their shared passion of football.
From Henrietta’s never-ending fight to be the best at what she does, to the never-ending Sooner fight song which is prevalent in this tale, every “battle” Simon Plaster takes on makes you want to stand up and salute. Webster’s defines satire as a “trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm to expose and discredit vice or folly.” Some reviewers, readers, and others call Simon’s work satirical. I believe that doesn’t fully fit the bill. For me, there are authors who are so good at what they do they have become kings or queens in their specific niche (i.e., the ultimate King in the realm of horror). When it comes to Simon Plaster, to me, he has become the King of satire, and no one should miss a word of it.
Quill says: Sarcasm (done well) equals a happy life. By reading the unforgettable Henrietta’s stories, you are on the right path to absolute happiness. 
For more information on BROKLA: A Tale of Things Falling Apart, please visit the author's Goodreads page at: Goodreads.SimonPlaster.com

#BookReview - Royal Blood

Royal Blood: A Paulette Monot History

By: Bruce Woods
Publisher: Penmore Press LLC
Publication Date: March 2019
ISBN: 978-1946409843
Reviewed By: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: May 2019
A strangely gifted, eerily elegant young female joins forces with a well-known literary character and some historical figures to play her part in Africa, and war, in this well-honed fantasy by author Bruce Woods. 
Paulette Monot is an American, a lady of sorts, a world traveler, and...a vampire, one of the “kin” whose numbers are unknown, but who, she will learn, are as populous in Africa as in Europe and America. She will make this discovery at the behest of none other than colonialist Cecil Rhodes. Rhodes is in London plotting with the legendary if fictional investigator Sherlock Holmes, and, importantly, with Ellen Terry, the celebrated actress who, it seems, is also one of the kin. Terry has shared a friendly quaff of hot blood with Monot as a way of welcoming her to London, and all involved are aware that the two females are indeed among the undead. Monot is asked to trek to southern Africa, locate more of her vampire kin, and organize them to aid Rhodes in quelling a rebellion being fomented by Lobengula, Chief of the Matebele. Lobengula has no firepower, but can command vast numbers of warriors to subdue a small garrison of British soldiers. Monot accepts the challenge and travels to Africa partly by newly devised airship, taking along her beloved spring-powered Coilcycle and a new Gibbs-Farquaharson-Metford rifle, the latter to promote the illusion that she is on safari. 
Once on the ground in the British colonial lands, Monot meets famed hunter Frederick Selous (like Rhodes and Terry, a real person) whom she gradually takes as a lover. The two, aided by many loyal native tribespeople, do indeed locate her vampire kin, particularly prevalent among the Bush people, whose leader Xam is convinced of Monot’s good will. All will play a significant role in a violent historical fray known as The First Matabele War. But as the dust settles, Monot is slowly developing opinions of the African indigenous peoples that differ greatly from those of Rhodes or even her cherished Selous. 
For those not familiar with the “steampunk” genre, Woods, editor and nature lover, offers a hearty immersion, mixing fantasy and history with vampiric deeds and desires in a setting laden with the latest quirky inventions of that era. Woods, who has published nonfiction in the past, has composed this well-plotted, imaginative work as part of a series. He has penned Monot’s saga with verve, seeing everything from warfare to wardrobe through her eyes - the eyes of a bloodthirsty, erotically attuned yet strangely idealistic young female vampire. It’s clear that the author has done his research carefully, demonstrating an intelligent understanding of the many dynamics at play.
Quill says: Royal Blood is an eerily enjoyable mix of romance, danger, vampire love and lore, 19th century colonialism, and a thoughtful look at Africa – its multi-faceted cultures and the greater aspirations of its people. 
For more information on Royal Blood: A Paulette Monot History, please visit the publisher's website: www.penmorepress.com

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

#AuthorInterview with Geanna Culbertson @gculbert14

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Geanna Culbertson, the author of Crisanta Knight: To Death & Back.
FQ: As a long-time fan of your series, I was wondering if you can tell our readers what it’s like to write a series; what it’s like to be with these characters for so long and find a way to continue to create such amazing paths for them to follow? Was the original concept and all of the books laid out in your mind beforehand; or, with time, have they just “appeared” in the story without being pre-planned?
CULBERTSON: It really is amazing and strange to spend so many years with the same characters. They feel so real to me, like they’re actual humans I created. It reminds me of that quote from the last Harry Potter where Harry asks Dumbledore if this is all real or it’s just happening inside his head, and Dumbledore responds, “Well of course it’s happening inside your head, Harry. Why should that mean it’s not real?”
It has been incredible to watch these characters grow and help them do that, Crisa in particular. As I write her journey I am continuously surprised by her and proud of how much she has changed. I don’t always know everything that’s going to happen to her or my other characters when I’m writing, and letting those internal arcs and external arcs develop—flow from my mind onto the page into existence—is wonderful and kind of surreal.
I always knew this was going to be a series and had many of the main plot points, character growth trajectories, and twists worked out from the beginning. However, filling in the areas between those events happens organically as I go on writing the story.
FQ: Throughout, is there one character in the series that found a larger part or took on a larger role than you first assumed they would? If so, who would that be?
CULBERTSON: There are some characters that may have started with smaller roles (like Chance and Girtha) that I always intended to make more important parts of the series. In terms of involvement most of my character arcs and roles have been in my head since the start. If I had to pick one example though . . . I suppose I would say Merlin. I always knew he would matter, but once I created him and saw his interactions with Crisa, I knew this was a relationship I wanted to continue to highlight and push because he brings out both bad and good in her and they have an interesting dynamic.
FQ: Have you thought of the day when the series comes to a close; how do you think it will be to let go of the characters you’ve been with for such a great length of time?
Author Geanna Culbertson
CULBERTSON: Honestly, I don’t know how I’ll react. It’ll definitely be weird. And sad. By the time the eighth book comes out in 2021, I’ll have basically spent 10 years with this world and these characters. I’m only in my twenties, so that’s a huge portion of my life so far LOL. But I have so many other stories I’m itching to write (ideas come to me constantly and I have to put them aside for later). So I’ll probably dive into another series immediately and devote my heart, mind, and soul to the creation of new fantastic worlds and fascinating characters.
FQ: Are you interested in one day creating standalone novels, or do you feel that another series is already stirring in the back of your mind?
CULBERTSON: Oh, I have a lot stirring back there. I currently have three other book series and a couple of standalones I intend to write. Who knows what else I’ll think of in the coming years in addition. So the real question is, which will I focus on next?!
FQ: Is there a genre that you’ve never written in before that you truly wish to tackle one day?
CULBERTSON: As mentioned in the previous answer, there are plenty of books I am eager to write and characters I can’t wait to give life to. These span across multiple genres and they’re going to be epic!
FQ: Can you speak a little about social media and how you believe it negatively or positively affects your marketing, promotion, etc.?
CULBERTSON: Social media is a finicky thing. I actively employ many platforms to publicize events and promote my series as best I can. A negative, I guess, would be the time that takes. But a positive is the ability to connect with people all over the world through more outlets. I’ve definitely had some great engagement with fans via social media in the past.
FQ: Can you give readers a sneak peek into what, perhaps, other famous locations will be seen before the series comes to an end?
CULBERTSON: Hmm. Well, I don’t like spoilers. But we’re definitely going back to Earth. We’ll return to some other places we’ve been before too, like Camelot. And (Sneak Peek Alert) – in Book Seven we’re going to spend some time in Chance Darling’s kingdom. But that’s all I’m saying.
FQ: Lastly, what do you hope readers will take away from this series?
I always intended for my series to connect with readers on a fundamental level—both relating to and inspiring them.
I want my readers to learn about things like the profound value of change, friendship, taking fate into your own hands, self-acceptance, and the power of choices. I hope this series will encourage people to think about the deeper questions, like in regards to the morality of taking life, what it means to be strong, tough choices about identity, and so forth. Additionally, at the core, I truly hope that as my readers grow with Crisanta, they are inspired by her hero-princess archetype to be the strongest, boldest, most honorable versions of themselves as they fight for the change they want to see in the world and in themselves.
And (of course) I want people to close the last book in my series with a smile—feeling good and feeling fulfilled with all that has come to pass.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

#BookReview - Badger's Perfect Garden

Badger's Perfect Garden

By: Marsha Diane Arnold
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: March 2019
ISBN: 978-1534110007
Reviewed by: Gina Montanha
Review Date: May 1, 2019 
Badger's Perfect Garden is a great accompaniment to planting your spring garden! While teaching your child about the work that goes into an actual garden – the planning, weeding, seeding and waiting, you can also make some teachable moments about patience, expectations and when planning just doesn’t go as planned! There are an adorable array of animals, including Red Squirrel, Weasel and Dormouse, who help a very diligent Badger plant his huge variety of vegetable and flower seeds, excited for the most perfect garden.
When Mother Nature decides to dump a deluge of rain down on poor Badger’s garden for days, he is very discouraged that all of his seeds have washed away and his perfect garden will never come to fruition. But his friends are hopeful and encouraging, trying to convince him that there will be many new seeds to collect again and start over. But Badger is sad and disappointed. Weeks later, his friends discover the most wonderful surprise and can’t wait to show Badger.
Illustrator Ramona Kaulitzki does a lovely job combining beautifully colored landscapes with the furry little creatures scattered throughout the pages. Even the inside of Badger’s tree-house is cute and colorful, with just enough detail to not overwhelm small senses. I particularly loved the whirling mix of wildflowers and vegetables near the end. You could almost smell them in the air!
Quill says: Badger’s Perfect Garden is a charming little story with a great lesson to be learned. Sometimes you just have to let go of your idea of “perfect” and let nature take its course...you never know what wonders may await!

#BookReview - The Forgiving Jar

The Forgiving Jar (The Prayer Jars)

By: Wanda Brunstetter
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press
Publication Date: February 2019
ISBN: 978-1-62416-748-5
Reviewed by Diane Lunsford
Review Date: May 1, 2019
With the release of her latest book in her Prayer Jar Series, The Forgiving Jar, Wanda Brunstetter delivers yet another heart-warming and insightful story.
Sara Murray never knew who her mother’s parents were. It was only after her mother passed that Sara learned she had grandparents and to compound such a surprise, they were Amish and living in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. After sorting out the loss of her mother and the fact she was raised Amish, Sara realizes it’s time to venture to Pennsylvania to meet her relations. Little did she know there was a greater surprise awaiting her arrival. How was it possible an imposter had beat Sara to the punch of meeting her extended family and was living under their roof? Not only was she an imposter, but she was also someone who thought it was okay to pose as Sara’s grandparents’ flesh and blood.
Willis and Ruth Lapp were kind and simple people. They embraced life in their humble Amish community of Strasburg and were devout in the practice of their Amish ways. Although their daughter chose to step away from her Amish upbringing and venture out into the English community, they never lost hope that one day they would meet the unborn grandchild their daughter carried when she left. Even though their daughter was gone, the prospect of the day they hoped and prayed for to meet their granddaughter had been fulfilled. It was an affirmation that yet another prayer had been answered for Willis and Ruth Lapp. When the truth rises to the top, as it often does, imagine the Lapps’ surprise when they learn the young woman who was living with them wasn’t Sara at all. Rather she was Michelle Taylor and it would seem Michelle had also been in search of a family connection, even if they weren’t blood relations.
The joy of reading one of Wanda Brunstetter’s novels occurs within the first handful of pages. She takes her time to develop the lay of the story and as it gains momentum, it is the rich characters that complement the storyline. I’ve been a fan of Ms. Brunstetter’s work for quite some time and The Forgiving Jar doesn’t disappoint. Rather, it accentuates the talent further of this woman’s ability to carefully craft a beautiful story with fantastic nuances and subtleties throughout when it comes to the importance of faith. As I’ve said before, never have I had a sense when reading one of Ms. Brunstetter’s books that it is rife with Amish pulpit pounding. Rather, the story pulls you in because of Ms. Brunstetter’s fantastic ability to plant a seed of the importance of faith and family and allows her audience to watch it grow as the tender tale unfolds. Ms. Brunstetter has created characters capable of standing in their own light as much as they complement and contribute to the uniqueness of their fellow characters. I applaud Ms. Brunstetter for delivering another terrific read. I am a fan for the long run with this author and look forward to the next installation in her Prayer Jar Series.
Quill says: The Forgiving Jar is a wonderful depiction of how life consistently delivers the real story that swoops in to replace the fictitious film that played in the imagination.