Monday, October 16, 2017

#AuthorInterview with James and Charlotte Golden

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Kristi Benedict is talking with James and Charlotte Goldin, authors of The 18th Rune: (The Aesir Kids, Volume 2)

FQ: What was most useful in your research for the Norse Gods?

JAMES: The primary research was my childhood copy ofNorse Gods and Giants by the D’Aulaires (reissued as D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths). Plus Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Thor stories from the 1960’s.

CHARLOTTE: I always read them growing up and we would sometimes make up stories about the different gods. Then one day I just randomly created Fire since I was also reading the Thor comics and thought there should be more super-heroish stuff; he has flame powers. And he has the three Norns for moms – because, why not?

JAMES: We made up games about the Aesir Kids before we started writing. As far as primary sources, I’ve read the Eddas of Snorri Sturlusson (in translation, of course). Parts of Tacitus’s Germania inspired our presentation of Vanaheim, the realm of the other or rival Norse gods. I’ve found some food for thought online in the videos of Maria Kvilhaug and Dr. Jackson Crawford. Oh, and going to Viking festivals was great! One time when she was 12, Charlotte hurled six spears in a row into a target. That helps make everything real for both of us.

CHARLOTTE: I threw axes, too. And a fish.

JAMES: But where we went off from mythology in a new direction, that was usually you.

CHARLOTTE: Right. In the myths, Fenris the giant wolf is a monster. I wanted him to be a lovable giant puppy since I always wanted a dog. And I made up the groblins (the beings who live underneath Vanaheim).

JAMES: And you didn’t name Skogurvegg and Tryggvin (the Vanaheim counselor and his teenage assistant) but you invented the characters and how they looked. And Ice (the frost-wielding jotun girl) was your idea, too. One of the main characters, Gersemi, isn’t much more than a name in the myths. You gave her a character, and that special vine in her hair. The key myth that inspired “The 18th Rune” was the war between Asgard and Vanaheim, a warrior culture versus a more Nature-oriented one. Neither side could beat the other, but Asgard, home of the Aesir, clearly got the better deal in the truce. The best gods from Vanaheim moved to Asgard and Odin’s brother Hoenir ended up ruling Vanaheim. The myths suggest there might be some lingering resentment in Vanaheim, so that’s what we based our book on – kids going to a place where they’re resented because of things that happened in the previous generation. Can you overcome that? If so, how?

FQ: All of the children characters are quite unique, especially when compared to their famous parents - what was the process for developing them to keep them so unique?

JAMES: Thank you! First, we tried to figure out who these kids were based on a very few clues in the myths. A kind of reverse-engineering. Take Thor’s daughter Thrud. Her name means “might,” so you figure she’d be super-strong. Her name is on a list of Valkyries, so we figured that would be her career goal. If you want to be a Valkyrie, you like horses (flying horses) and armor and you want to be decisive; but you’re not interested in romantic relationships.

CHARLOTTE: So she and Fire are just friends. Forseti is the son of Balder, the non-violent god of light, and according to the myths, when Forseti grows up, he’ll be a great judge among the Aesir. So he had to be “the smart one,” who tries to reason things out a bit more than the others.
JAMES: Everybody’s character is based on where they come from.

FQ: Where did the inspiration for the two mortal children Tjalfi and Roskva come from?

JAMES: They’re real! That is, they’re mythological. Their origin is told in the Prose Edda—long story short, Tjalfi accidentally hurt one of Thor’s goat’s legs, so he and his sister left their farm to become the thunder god’s sidekicks. It’s part of the story of the giant Utgardsloki. In that story Tjalfi is said to be an extremely fast runner, so super-speed was obviously his power in Asgard—and he’s clearly a little impulsive, but always well-meaning and totally loyal to Thor. In other Norse stories or poems, Tjalfi helps Thor fight a kind of stone robot and some werewolf-women – we may have to re-tell those sometime! There are no surviving stories of Roskva, though. So we had to give her a character and a power. I thought about super-hearing, which at first may not seem like much, but in “The 18th Rune” she can not only keep track of events miles away, but focus on a person’s breathing and heartbeat to tell whether or not they’re lying.

CHARLOTTE: I was kind of forcing him to find as many kids in the Norse myths as we could – it’s a lot harder than Greek because there you can just say “Oh, well, this god had a half-kid.” That really does not happen here so we got most of them from myths. I de-aged some of them by a few years.

FQ: With all the lineage of the characters in this book, did you have to keep your own log book to keep it all straight?

JAMES: For me, who was related to who wasn’t as tricky as remembering who was doing what where! I re-read The Hobbit again just to see how Tolkien handled 15 characters at once! Not to mention some close readings of The Avengers and The Legion of Super-Heroes.

CHARLOTTE: I can usually keep track of like 10 characters at a time and I come up with about 80-85% of what each character will be doing and where, and who might be related to who and then my dad does the rest.

JAMES: I didn’t use a log book, but there were a lot of post-its!

FQ: Did you plan for this to be a multi-series project when you wrote the first book?

JAMES: Nope! We did think we’d put out a few smaller stories in the “Aesir Kids” universe, but about a year after we published Book 1, Charlotte informed me that “everything has to be a trilogy.” And we got to work. And Vanaheim hadn’t really been used very much in other books, so that seemed like a good way to continue the adventures in a different world.

CHARLOTTE: Yeah it was definitely not in the plan.

JAMES: But then you changed the plan.

CHARLOTTE: Well, I read a bunch of novels that were all trilogies so I went “DAD OH MY ODIN WE HAVE TO WRITE 2 MORE BOOKS!!!!” and he basically went “Yeah, okay.”

FQ: Which character did you enjoy writing about most?

CHARLOTTE: Probably Thrud. It’s like a perfect girl who doesn’t have to be feminine and can still kick monster butt. I was a Viking (I always thought it was her) for two straight Halloweens.
JAMES: You’re a lot like Thrud. But you have a better temper.

FQ: The landscape in Vanaheim is very important in your story - was there any specific inspiration for that land?

JAMES: Nothing is directly copied from life, but I remembered the woods and fields when I was a kid going to summer camp in Maine. But the scene where everyone rolls down a hill actually comes from a much smaller spot where I used to do that behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The Chieftain’s Hall was somewhat inspired by a huge wooden lodge Charlotte and I saw in Yellowstone.

CHARLOTTE: it is not really so much being inspired but being in what is quintessentially the perfect forest. There can be a connection be we have to remember that this is not Midgard. We can mash up stuff, but at the same time, it has to be completely new, it’s the world of the gods after all.

FQ: What is the easiest part of a story for you to write, the beginning or the end?

JAMES: I find that it always helps to have the ending in mind before you write. In the case of The 18th Rune, Charlotte had a version of the last line of the book in her head from the beginning – and Charlotte can be very insistent on some things. So from the time we started writing, everything had to build towards that last line. I think we rewrote the last two or three chapters more than any other section, to get to the end fairly. It’s the unraveling of a mystery, and so we had to have the clues laid out, and we had to have more than a dozen characters figure out the mystery together. AND – because it’s also a cliffhanger, we wanted to make sure that Book 2 was satisfying in itself while still making readers want to go on to Book 3...which will be out in 2018.

CHARLOTTE: In all the trilogies I’ve read the first book has to be what could be a standalone, the second has to end with a cliffhanger, and third has to have an epic battle. I really wanted that to be the ending before we had even written the plot, characters, anything. Sometimes there is that one line you know has to be in the book and you find a way to make it work.

To learn more about The 18th Rune: (The Aesir Kids, Volume 2) please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.
































Interview with Author Simon Plaster

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Simon Plaster, author of SPOTS: A Tale of Star-Struck Misfame and Misfortune

FQ: Let us begin with this: You are either an AVID TV-watcher or you have done research to the nth degree on TV advertising. How on earth did you get all of those brands and slogans for these companies wrapped into your mystery? And for fun...if you had to pick a favorite, which brand/slogan would it be?

PLASTER: Thank you, Amy, thank you very much for reading my book. Most folks out here seem to prefer old Farmers Almanacs. Like most folks everywhere tend to click off TV commercials that interrupt the shows. I my own self will take a Geico spot over a Saturday Night Live skit any ol' night of the week. That contrary inclination, I suppose, goes back to my favorite TVC of all time: The one for Buster Brown Shoes that hooked me with its opening line, to-wit: "Plunk your magic twanger, Froggie!"

FQ: Finish this sentence: If I had not become a writer, I would be a __________ .

PLASTER: I would be a less big-bottomed ol' boy, less broke, with more time on my hands to court gals. Writing books makes the days go by way too fast and tires you out.

FQ: Commercials and ads have taken over our lives, especially with the internet "popping" up advertising campaigns all the time. Even authors get wrapped up into having to do internet campaigning with blogs, websites, tweets, etc. How do you personally feel about that area of the writing world? Would you prefer it if it went back to more book signing events where you meet people in person and move away from the digital realm?

PLASTER: Not liking those ads popping up makes you your own self sound like one of the "whack-a-mole" TIVO types I mentioned, Amy. I my own self would druther chat online with a purty gal like you than go to a book signing, where the few who come are big ol' boys wanting their money back.

FQ: I am a lover of humor/satire/sarcasm, although there are many who may not "get it." Upon saying that, do you ever worry about backlash that could come from some of your words?

PLASTER: Yes, I hardly ever leave the house due to backlash by a neighbor's dog, who took offense at me calling her ---- the neighbor ---- the b-word after she about chewed off my right foot.

FQ: It seems that everything is either a "platform" or a "debate" in these modern times. Which usually always leads to an argument. Do you have any ideas on how we can get the world to lighten up a bit?

PLASTER: Well, like you say, there are those who stubbornly argue for low carbs and those who debate lard versus vegetables. I my own self follow the "drinking man's diet," even though I have yet to lose any weight.

FQ: Are readers going to stay with Henrietta in OKC for awhile? What do we have to look forward to in 2018?

PLASTER: Henrietta her own self would like to be stayed with by a boyfriend who has a steady job and can afford to pay half the rent on an apartment. Readers can look forward to a next tale about a docudrama film getting made in OKC, which has high hopes of becoming the Hollywood of the Plains.

FQ: Do you have a personal mentor when it comes to writing?

PLASTER: Yes. Though he has repeatedly demanded that I not to tell anyone, Marty Lowry ---- a jack of all trades at Mossik Press ---- is largely to blame for my penmanship.

FQ: Is it possible the citizens of OKC will run you out of town? (LOL) Or do they have a sense of humor when it comes to your writing?

PLASTER: Like I say, OKC citizens who I know pretty much stick to the Farmers Almanac ---- or at least say that's all the reading they have time for --- and seem not much interested in my writing. For entirely other reasons, however, several locals ---- mainly gals ---- have told me to go away.

To learn more about SPOTS: A Tale of Star-Struck Misfame and Misfortune please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.















#BookReview - Seducing the Defendant


Seducing the Defendant (The Conflict of Interest Series Book 2)

By: Chantal Fernando
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: November 2017
ISBN: 978-1501172366
Review by: Jennifer Rearick
Review Date: October 2017

Jaxon Bentley may seem like your typical high class lawyer, but in reality there is more than meets the eye. Jaxon works and partly owns one of the best law firms in the city. Although he seems tough on the outside, he does have demons of his own. Jaxon was taking a break after the death of his sister Olivia, when he receives a phone call about a case that will change his life forever.

Scarlett Reyes is charged with the murder of her husband, Officer Darren Melvin. Darren went missing two years prior, around the same time that Scarlett left the country to take care of her sick aunt. Since his body was never found, no one was ever charged with anything. Two years later, Darren’s body is found in the river with a gunshot wound to the head. With Darren being one of their own, the police will do anything to solve the case. Upon searching their home, the police find the same kind of gun that killed Darren in their house. After finding Darren, Scarlett is asked to return home from Paris. She is then charged with the murder of her husband. Scarlett, claiming her innocence, seeks Jaxon to take her case. While Tristan, Jaxon’s business partner, works on getting Scarlett out on bail, Jaxon begins looking over her case.

When Jaxon initially meets Scarlett, their meeting does not go very well. Scarlett is very standoffish and does not provide Jaxon with much information. Although Jaxon agrees to take her case, and promises to do everything he can to keep her out of prison, he feels that there is something that she is not telling him.

Jaxon and his team begin working on Scarlett’s case immediately. While they are looking into phone records and credit card statements to find anything that can help, they see a name that continues to turn up - Valentina Sullivan. Jaxon’s team continues digging and to find out as much information about Sullivan in order to see if Darren was living a double life. Ultimately they find that not only was Darren living a double life, but that he was doing so with the money and property that Scarlett’s father left her.

Jaxon and his team continue investigating and throughout this process Jaxon finds some unexpected information. With enough evidence, Jaxon goes to court with what he has. Although the case is solved, the outcome is a little unexpected.

After Darren’s case is solved, Scarlett and Jaxon start seeing each other more. Scarlett also becomes friends with Valentina, bonding over everything that they went through with Darren. Although Jaxon does not like that Scarlett is friends with Valentina and the motorcycle gang she hangs out with, Jaxon and Scarlett begin dating each other. Even though Jaxon and Scarlett’s relationship is going well, she feels that there is something that Jaxon is not telling her. Eventually Scarlett gets the courage to ask Jaxon about it, but first, she wants to talk about it to Valentina. When Scarlett never shows up for their meeting, Valentina knows that something must be wrong. Soon Jaxon finds that Scarlett was abducted and he joins forces with Valentina and her gang to find her. When they finally figure out who took Scarlett, everything with Darren comes full circle and they find that although the case was solved, it was never really over. Soon Jaxon and Valentina are in a race against the clock to find Scarlett before she has to pay for everything Darren did.

Seducing the Defendant is a really great book. It is a good mix between crime/mystery and romance. It begins immediately with the crime aspect and leaves you going back and forth between thinking that Scarlett did it/didn’t do it. Then once the case is solved, it leaves you thinking that everything is going to be fine and they are finally going to live a happy life. Although things are going well, you still get this feeling that Darren’s case really isn’t over yet. The book leaves you thinking that something completely unexpected is going to happen. Then more of the crime aspect comes back and really brings the story full circle and ties it all together. It truly was a great read.

Quill says: This is a great read if you love crime/mystery and romance.








#BookReview - Addicted to American


Addicted to Americana: Celebrating Classic & Kitschy American Life & Style

By: Charles Phoenix
Publisher: Prospect Park Books
Publication Date: October 2017
ISBN: 978-1945551192
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: October 15, 2017

Charles Phoenix, the "Ambassador of Americana," is at it again with a fantastic collection of all things "Americana" in his latest book, Addicted to Americana.
First, a little background. What exactly is "Americana"? Loosely defined, it's anything (buildings, advertisements, license plates, etc.,) that are vestiges of an earlier time in America, a time people associate with small towns and happier days. With seven books to his credit, all focusing on various aspects of Americana, Charles Phoenix is addicted to finding cool nostalgic things that trigger wonderful memories of those times from the 50's and 60's. In this, his newest book, Phoenix has amassed a great collection of "things" from that long ago era.

Addicted to Americana is divided into several sections - "Themeparkland!," "Let's Eat," and "5-4-3-2-1...Blast-Off!" (travel related things). Themeparkland! includes the early days of Disneyland right through to the Las Vegas strip. With numerous pages dedicated to Disneyland, it's easy to see that this is one of the author's favorite places to visit. Check out the all-plastic house of the future built in 1957 at Disneyland, and learn its history - how, when Disney tried to demolish it, the wrecking ball bounced right off the house! The author managed to track the house to a landfill and suggests we all get together and dig it up. Sounds like fun!

Let's Eat is full of all those vintage restaurants you might expect to see along an old highway. There's so many little eateries to check out here, some even designed to look like the food they serve, such as the "Tail of the Pup" that looks like a hot dog in a bun.

In the Blast Off! section, as expected, there's an homage to various monorails, with, of course, the Disneyland monorail leading the way. There are also some lesser-known monorails such as the Pink Pig featured here. In addition, this section includes trains, planes and automobiles. The author, a big classic car collector, has included a nice assortment of cool cars, from the 1958 Edsel to the 1956 Astra-Gnome.

Addicted to American is, simply put, a fun book. Primarily a photo book, with short factoids about each item, the book is a visual funfest for those who love nostalgia. For those who remember the 50s and/or 60s, the book will be particularly enjoyable. It's also the sort of book that you may want to read by flipping around to those items that catch your eye, rather than read from front to back. With retro colors and fonts that help set the mood, the book is definitely a tribute to all things Americana.

Quill says: Yes, Addicted to Americana is classic, it is kitschy, and it is definitely a lot of fun.







Sunday, October 15, 2017

#BookReview - Spots


Spots: A Tale of Star-Struck Misfame and Misfortune

By: Simon Plaster
Publisher: Mossik Press
Publication Date: September 2017
ISBN: 978-0-991448098
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: October 13, 2017

The satirical master who last brought you the mystery OPRY has done it once again. He has written a great mystery, while also reaching the apex of great satire...which is a tough mountain to climb. Henrietta is our lead; a fantastic character who has starred in Simon Plaster books before, and one that readers need to get to know because she’s one of the best in literature to-date.

We begin by sitting beside Henrietta, one of the reporters for the OKC SCENE News Group. She is a reporter who wants more than anything to “get that story” and win herself a Pulitzer. Unfortunately, even with all the great work she just did by unwinding a mystery involving a beer joint named Honky Tonk, Henrietta finds herself outside her boss’s office waiting to be fired. Instead, she’s given a job to cover the “Academy of Television Commercials Arts and Sciences” awards for the year’s best in TV commercials. It also seems that anonymous death threats have been made against (no one really knows who) people who end up attending these festivities.

Deano DeBoffo, famous Hollywood director/producer, arrives in the city on a mission to get his own career back on track. He wants to make friends with the right people and put together a TV docudrama called, “What’s in Your Wallet?” He runs into a pair that may just help him out. Flo, the famous star of those Progressive commercials has an estranged sister named Chloe or “Clo.” The sister does a lot of work, yet Flo has a better career. But Deano may just get Clo as the female lead for his docudrama. And if he generates some gossip at the event about Clo, he may just bring in a few more money men to help with his project. As you know, bad publicity is still publicity!

There’s an actor named Jimmy who attends; he ends up falling to his death from the hotel where the event is being held. A moment that Henrietta just happens to see. However, Jimmy also appears in new ads after he has supposedly died. There’s also a woman named Shirley who loves her Harley, but is having a mid-life crisis that makes it look like she could be the person who has delivered those anonymous threats.

We meet up with those famous boys who appear in all the SONIC commercials; the Mayor of OKC is worried about the fate of one of these guys...but not the other. We even meet the woman who has fallen down and hasn’t been able to get up for years when she’s apparently poisoned by Alka-Seltzer.
It must be said: When it comes to this author and his ideas, he would definitely get my vote for being “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” So, pick up a bottle of Dos Equis, sit down in a leisurely spot, and read this book!

Quill says: This is most definitely an author who needs to have 9-Lives (get it?) so that readers can enjoy his words for the next thousand years!

For more information on SPOTS: A Tale of Star-Struck Misfame and Misfortune, please visit the book's Goodreads page.








Tuesday, October 10, 2017

#AuthorInterview with Steve Zell @SteveZellTales

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Steve Zell, author of Running Cold.

FQ: How did Running Cold come about? I know you love Jerome, AZ (which I am a huge fan of, by the way), did that play into the landscaping of the novel?

ZELL: The idea of something as fun as creation going terribly wrong is always on my mind. With a quiet, German engineer dad, and a gregarious Italian mom, I identify with Michael’s (main character in Running Cold) “half-halfs.” I was the first interdisciplinary studies graduate from the University of Arizona where Chemistry and Fine Arts were more or less my majors. I love creating, and I really love using technology to do it! But creation is always an experiment, and experiments don’t always yield predictable results...

As far as Jerome goes – I have a story that might explain the direction I’ve taken in writing. When I was a kid, a lot of Jerome was still abandoned – you could walk right into the old buildings and explore. I was combing for souvenirs inside a crumbling, old hotel where the only light came from broken out windows and holes in the walls. In one of the furthest rooms in, someone had scrawled a message on the far wall, “Stop me before I kill again.” Scared the hell out of me.

Jerome & Tombstone, AZ, and Bodie, CA, all figure more into my first novel, WiZrD – where the town of Pinon Rim literally cycles through periods of euphoric boom and deadly bust – but La Vista in Running Cold is also a place that “use to be” something other than what it seems to be when Michael and Brit arrive.



FQ: It would be interesting for readers to hear about “A Day in the Writing Life of Steve Zell.” What is that like? Music in the background? Prefer to write outside or inside? Is writing time set aside each and every day, or do you just sit down and begin?

ZELL: The day always begins with coffee – loads of it! My favorite place and time to write is in a coffee house before the sun comes up. I like to write while I’m still partly in a dream state, which keeps the images flowing and I don’t tend to edit my thoughts, and I like the chatter in the background. I wrote quite a bit of Running Cold in a great little coffee house called Sponda in Hermosa Beach, CA, which, sadly is gone now (the coffee house, not the town – I guess I need to be clear on that...). A lot of Sandy’s dialogue actually came from the surfers who were regulars there – and one in particular, whom I picture when I see Sandy. If I write in my office at home, I tend to have Steely Dan playing. I tend to jump back and forth between drawing, music, and writing.
One other odd bit about writing in coffee shops. I love to build computers out of odd things like briefcases and paint boxes, and use those to write with. I’ll try to include a picture or two. The only bad thing is they don’t run on batteries so I need to be near an outlet to use them.

FQ: What is the best ghost town you’ve ever explored, and why? Will it (or has it) appeared in one of your books? Is there one ghostly location you are dying to explore, like your own “Overlook Hotel” that King made so famous?

ZELL: Tombstone is great (go there in October for Helldorado Days – they recreate the shootout at the OK Corral) – I was the cartoonist for The Tombstone Epitaph while at UA. Tombstone was famously, “too tough to die” so it probably never was technically a ghost town, although a lot of people were killed there for really dumb reasons (including mishandling a package at the post office). I’d say my favorite so far is Bodie, CA. I haven’t been there in a while, but the townspeople left in a hurry - there are still books sitting on the desks in the schoolhouse – it really IS a ghost town.
Part of the actual Overlook from Kubrick’s The Shining is Timberline Lodge here in Oregon – and I’ve yet to go through it. I understand it’s been remodeled which is sad. What I’d most like to do at this point as far as haunted experiences go is spend some time in Gettysburg at night. The ghosts of the Civil War must have a lot to say.

FQ: Your resume is long and varied. Can you tell readers about being the “Voice of Doom” for Baywatch? Can you also share a bit about the Intel Audio Alliance and the work they do?

ZELL: Yeah, if a lifeguard died or had a bad day for whatever reason, you’d hear me singing the sad rock ballad in the middle of the show while they ran a montage of his/her Baywatch life. In one of the more “famous” situations, Mitch (David Hasselhoff) fell in love and proposed to a character who contracted and died of cancer within two episodes. I’m singing over a montage that includes Mitch kidnapping her from the hospital and carrying her to the Santa Monica cliffs for one last sunset. I’ll include the YouTube bitly link for that one YouTube). The set on Will Rogers Beach was fun, and the people (and food) were great! These were the Pamela Anderson, Yasmine Bleeth, Nicole Eggert (whom I’d first met when she was a kid while warming up the audience on the Charles In Charge set days), and it was pretty lively. Robin and Judithe Randall were the songwriting team and they did really nice work there and in general. I sang their original demo for a song called, “Tomorrow Doesn’t Matter Tonight” which was the third single on “Knee Deep in the Hoopla,” the Starship album featuring, “We Built this City,” and “Sara.” That song sadly “stiffed” (quit rising up the charts) when the payola scandal hit the industry.

The Intel Audio Alliance was a great group of folks. I was hired at Intel for my experience with 3D animation and I began our Dreamworks partnership. What I found was that although video was being taken seriously, audio was being ignored on the “serious” workstation side despite being recognized as important on the consumer PC side. I had to argue that animators didn’t animate in silence – we almost ALWAYS animate to audio cues. I found a couple like-minded folks in different divisions, cobbled together a budget, and worked with my friends at Cakewalk, who created music software that ran exclusively on Windows-Intel based machines at the time, and put together the Intel Audio Alliance with their help and the help of Rory Kaplan – an amazing keyboardist who worked with Michael Jackson among others. We essentially went everywhere from Skywalker Ranch to Zoe Thrall’s Las Vegas, Studio at the Palms, with folks like Billy Bob Thornton (who roadied for Blood, Sweat, and Tears as a kid and is actually an accomplished songwriter and drummer), Graham Nash, and some amazing engineers and producers – convincing folks you didn’t HAVE to use Apple machines to make music! Eventually even Apple converted over to Intel based processors (I’m not saying we did that – but we played a part). And...the Intel Audio Alliance was responsible for one of the greatest nights in my life – after an incredible music video party/demo at Zoe Thrall’s studio, I spent an amazing night at the V-Bar with Billy Bob, Graham Nash, Billy Gibbons, Rory Kaplan, Lisa Roy...and a bottle of Grey Goose.

Author Steve Zell enjoying one of his hobbies -
tinkering with computers
FQ: You write music, blog, run your own publishing company...where do you get the time? If you had to choose, is there one artistic path you like more than the others? Or is it nice to get a break from one to do the other?

ZELL: The truth is, I never have enough time, and likely won’t. When I was also working full time I literally felt as though my instruments and workstations were under twelve feet of water – and I could only use them as long as I could hold my breath. That feeling hasn’t completely left me.

I really do love doing anything I can creatively – and yes, I jump back and forth. It helps keep things fresh for me. It’s also the great thing about technology – you can easily hop from one activity to the other without a lot of extra setup (although I’ve built separate workstations for each thing I do, have named them, and I treat them more or less as pets). I really have fun “painting” the covers for my books – but I haven’t actually used physical paint or a pencil to draw in a couple decades. Not sure what the policy is on links here, but I’ll include one more to a song called Hero I wrote right after narrating, Running Cold ( http://bit.ly/ZHero). Narrating is fun too – I love acting and I do community theater whenever I can here at the Hillsboro Artists Regional Theater (HART) – but producing audio is a major chore! That song is a good indication of my state of mind while editing audio (combined with all the craziness in the country right now). Getting better at audio production…but it really is more necessity than fun at this point.

FQ: Along those same lines, when it comes to music, you offer up a lot of ‘odes’ to the Beach Boys in your books; is this your favorite band? What about their music speaks to you?

ZELL: I love their harmonies, and the painfully innocent and heartfelt lyrics. Songs like Warmth of the Sun, In My Room, and God Only Knows, in particular, still break my heart. My favorite band, hands down, is Steely Dan. I find something new in their songs every time I listen – so glad I got to see them live once! Very sad that Walter Becker is gone, and happy that Donald Fagen continues to create! More often than not, they’re playing in the background while I write. One of the coffee houses I wrote at quite a bit would even switch to Steely Dan while I was there.

FQ: A cartoonist is also a part of your background. Where and when did you become interested in animation? Are you still involved in that area?
A hobby of Steve's - building "odd things" from computers


ZELL: I’ve actually been interested in animating ever since I first saw Felix the Cat on a black and white TV as a kid. I’ve always drawn and sung. Writing came later. I used to try to copy John Romita’s style of Spiderman, and drew my own comics as a kid. I became interested in computers through what began as a temp job that became permanent at Digital Equipment Corporation, and when computers hit the animation world it was as if the heavens had opened for me! I got my first animation job (actually as a digital animation tools instructor for traditional cell and stop-motion animators), literally because one of the heroes of the industry, Ray Feeney, found me passed-out (I had pneumonia) at one of his workstations. He knew I was sick, but gambled that I was dedicated and not insane – and offered to teach me for free if I would then teach other artists.

I own a seat of Maya (an Alias, now Autodesk, 3D modeling and animation software package), and still work with it from time to time – but I’m very rusty. The griffon silhouette on the cover of Running Cold is a 3D model I built in Maya and then rendered flat.

As a side note, the eyes on the cover actually belong to my daughter...it still creeps her out whenever she looks at it…

FQ: What is next for Steve Zell? Can you tell us what projects are on the horizon for 2018?

ZELL: I’ve got three novels that I’m working on right now in degrees, with one that has most of my attention. Without giving too much away, it does have parallels to Running Cold. I’ve already begun working on the cover. On the music side, I’ve been producing (if you can call it that...my keyboard skills are limited at best) an album – hope to have that out in early spring with the next novel to hit in December 2018 or early in 2019. I’m also resting up to narrate WiZrD – lots of characters...aaiiieeeEEEE!

FQ: Last, but not least, readers like to know...If you could sit down with one writer or musician for a chat, who would it be and what is the one question you would love to ask?

ZELL: Man – there are quite a few. I’d love to sit down with Flannery O’Connor before she became gravely ill, and just let her talk. She had to be a hoot!

To learn more about Running Cold please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

























Monday, October 9, 2017

#BookReview - The 18th Rune @JamesGGoldin


The 18th Rune: (The Aesir Kids, Volume 2)

By: James Grant Goldin & Charlotte Goldin
Illustrated by: Treehouse
Publisher: Basiliak Books
Publication Date: June 2017
ISBN: 978-0-9854553-3-0
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: October 7, 2017

The children of the Norse gods have done well in all of their training in their home city of Asgard, but now they face an even greater challenge. They will travel to Vanaheim and attend a camp where they can work on strengthening their skills. There is one catch to this adventure, the gods of Vanaheim and the gods of Asgard have had disagreements in the past and do not get along well. Many times those disagreements have turned into destruction and war, so it is not surprising that the Aesir children are feeling a bit apprehensive about their trip.

Among the children going on this trip are Thrud, daughter of Thor, her brothers Magni and Modi, Fire, who has amazing abilities with flame, Ull, who is an expert with skis, and Forseti, an expert archer. There are also two mortals that serve Thor who are allowed to go as well, Tjalfi, who has the ability to run at amazing speeds, and his sister Roskva, who has the ability to hear even the faintest sound. Even though this is usually a camp strictly for children of gods, both Tjalfi and Roskva are thrilled with being allowed to go. However, it does not take long for trouble to start...

When the children reach camp in Vanaheim they are greeted by the head camp counselor, Skogurvegg, and his assistant Tryggvin. From the beginning, all of the Aesir children could tell that something was wrong about the way Skogurvegg treated them while getting settled into camp. The first thing he has them do is play a game with the Vanir campers and it did not take long for the game to become violent. For starters, it seemed as if the entire forest, including the grass, trees, and roots, were working against the Aesir team as they used all of their skills to try and win. However, what started out as a simple game became terrifying when Roskva got pulled into a lake by a vicious looking vine and nearly drowned before being saved in the nick of time by Thrud. Utterly surprised that the camp counselors were not more concerned with this attack against their teammate, all the Aesir children agree that everyone should be on guard while they are at the camp.

Unbeknownst to all of them, the playing of a game will be the least of their worries, as a dark evil resides under the land of Vanaheim and it is waiting for its chance to escape. With all of their strengths working together, will the Aesir children be courageous enough to defeat this evil or will it be too much for them to handle this time?

This is a book that will thrill any adventure or fantasy enthusiast, as I could not put it down after I started. Every chapter had suspense and action in it that had me turning pages as quickly as I could. The authors do a great job of developing each of the characters as well, and that creates a bond between those characters and the reader. I will definitely be looking for the next book to come out and will snatch it up when it does!

Quill says: Loved this book from the beginning, and could not ask for a better adventure story!

For more information on The 18th Rune: (The Aesir Kids, Volume 2) , please visit the book's Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/TheAesirKids







Wednesday, October 4, 2017

#BookReview - Running Cold


Running Cold

By: Steve Zell
Publisher: Tales from Zell, Incorporated
Publication Date: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0-984746835
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: October 4, 2017

Think about the King classic Stand by Me and you’ll understand the feeling that comes over you at the onset of this read.

Michael Helm and his mother are racing to California in their Plymouth Fury to start a new life. Once there, Michael investigates their new town and basically sees a whole lot of dust, and a riverbed framed in ice plants that had managed to produce a “sprinkling of red flowers; enough to make the riverbed look like some giant with a bloody nose had run across it.” (Just one of many spectacular explanations!) The place also has a store called Big Jerry’s; a dilapidated building that would fit perfectly into any ghost town.

They’ve moved from the Helm House in Phoenix. It was there that Michael would play with his older brother Nicky – an artistic soul who is now dead. In addition, Dad has “left” the family, and now Michael and his mom (a woman who suffers from blinding headaches), have gone to his grandparents’ bungalow. This is a shoebox filled with mold and dirt that smells putrid, like old nicotine that came from Gramps Helm’s constant chain-smoking.

The first oddity about Michael is seen on that walk through town when he has a “run-in” with a very large seagull. But instead of the normal “fiery” anger that most people experience when they get mad, Michael turns cold. The feeling of horror that runs through his veins is like ice...and let us just say that bad things occur when Michael “turns cold.”

Soon he meets up with others who are enjoying the end of summer before school starts up again. Sandy Randall is a girl coming of age, so to speak. She has dealt with a growth spurt that has slowly turned her body from that of a tomboy into “girlfriend” material, and her buddies are starting to notice. Meeting and befriending Michael turns Sandy’s world upside down.

With Michael trying to fit in, and Mom getting a low-level job in order to create some kind of future for Mikey, readers set out on a path that includes everything from a kid’s fort that’s destined to be the spot of nightmares, to a monumental mystery involving a group “tracking” the Helm family.
The only downside to Running Cold, which does not negatively affect the story, are the editing/formatting issues. Putting that aside, author Steve Zell is always extremely gifted at mixing thrills with sci-fi, YA, mystery, and the darkness and fear that raises goosebumps to the nth degree. With Running Cold, he has done it again.

Quill says: You’ll need to sleep with the light on for more than a few days in order to shake the feeling that Michael Helm ignites within your imagination.

For more information on Running Cold, please visit the publisher's website at: www.talesfromzell.com









#BookReview - The Future She Left Behind


The Future She Left Behind

By: Marin Thomas
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: September 2017
ISBN: 978-0451476302
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: October 3, 2017

Marin Thomas quashes the notion of ‘you can never go home again’ in her latest novel, The Future She Left Behind.

Katelyn Pratt has it all—a beautiful set of twins, a more than adequate home filled with lots of expensive possessions and a hard-working husband who sustains all the finer things in life she’s grown accustomed to. When her husband of twenty years decides to trade forty-year-old Katelyn in for a younger model, little did Katelyn know her departure would entail inheriting the company of her judgmental and serene mother-in-law. It was time to leave St. Louis and travel back in time to Little Springs, Texas—a place Katelyn vowed she would keep in her rear-view mirror for the rest of her life when she left for college long ago. Little Springs wasn’t just a small and suffocating town with a one-way ticket to nowhere. It was the home and place she left her first love Jackson—the man she traded love for money when she married Don.

Katelyn was a gifted artist and when she received scholarships to college for her abilities, it was her ticket to freedom from uneventful Little Springs. Of course, she loved Jackson. He was her true love, but he would never have the money to provide the life Katelyn wanted. Sadly, during the twenty years she was married to Don, Katelyn rarely (if ever) picked up her sketch pad or paint brush. Rather, she spent the years convincing herself her children needed her, and the charity functions and dinners were important for her husband’s steady and successful climb. When her twins prepare for their new life in college in the coming fall and her marriage implodes, it is her return to Little Springs and the reconnection with Jackson that guilt Katelyn into realizing the only obstacle that kept Katelyn away from what she loved most all those years was Katelyn.

Marin Thomas maximizes on the precious real estate of the first handful of pages to draw her audience into this engaging story. She has a natural flair toward conversation and complements it beautifully with tangible scenery and set up. Ms. Thomas clearly gets the concept of taking a fictitious character and applying life and personality to him/her. There are plenty of whimsical and witty exchanges between Katelyn Pratt and her overbearing mother-in-law that are beyond relatable. The humor and tasteful sarcasm of the constant banter between the two will have the reader willingly turning each page to experience the next showdown. Ms. Thomas has taken the age-old premise of ‘you can never go home again’ and more than dabbled with the premise of ‘...or maybe you can.’ I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Ms. Thomas’ previous novel, The Promise of Forgiveness. This body of work is as exceptionally satisfying to read as her previous novel was. Ms. Thomas has proven again she has an ample war chest filled with a bevy of stories to pen; each more delicious than the last, without question. Well done! I look forward to the next read.

Quill says: Sometimes we must travel back in time to salvage the ‘future we left behind.’





#BookReview - Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Shatter Your Senses!


Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Shatter Your Senses!

By: Ripley's Believe It Or Not!
Published by: Ripley Publishing
Publication Date: August 2017
ISBN: 978-1609911782
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: October 3, 2017

Ripley's Believe It Or Not! has just released the 2017 edition of the annual series and it is just as fun as all the other books in the series.

Feathered Quill Book Reviews has been reviewing each new release in this series since 2009 when my then fifteen-year-old son grabbed it off my desk and spent hours going through it. Now that the 2017 edition is out, I'm the one who has spent hours reading through the book and enjoying every page.

The weird, bizarre, funny, cool, and yes, those things that make you go "ewwww," are divided into six chapters: Believe it!, World, Animals, Pop Culture, People, and Beyond Belief. These books always start out with several pages of background information - typically a bit about Robert Ripley, the man who started it all, along with some neat things he did or discovered. Next it's on to discover all the interesting things Ripley's has found to highlight this year. In the first section, Believe It!, there are oodles of cool facts such as how many dead birds, mammals, fish and plants are stored at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC; that there are people who actually suffer from a condition known as "Alice in Wonderland Syndrome"; as well as how doctors in Brazil treated severe burns by covering them with dressings made of fish skin! Of course, there are lots and lots of fantastic photos that accompany these snippets of odd facts.

The section on "Beyond Belief" will definitely be quite popular, especially with young readers as they scour the pages. A goofy picture of "The Isolator" accompanies a description of this odd 1920s mask that was used to keep the wearer focusing on only that thing directly in front of him/her. In the "World" section, there's several pictures of the Yiwa International Trade City in China that has 60,000 vendor booths within its 46 million square foot building. Burger King perfume anyone? Yup, in the "Pop Culture" section, you'll read all about how Burger King Japan sold a limited number of bottles of the fragrance for April Fool's Day, 2015.

There's so much here to look at, read about, and wonder at, that you'll be kept busy enjoying this newest edition of Ripley's Believe It Or Not! for a very long time. With a very attractive layout, as well as page after page of lavish photographs, Shatter Your Senses! will do just that. Don't miss it!

Quill says: Another year - another in the annual Ripley's Believe It Or Not! best-selling series. And like all the other volumes before it, the 2017 edition does not disappoint.






#BookReview - Old MacDonald Had a...Zoo?


Old MacDonald Had a...Zoo?

Written and Illustrated by: Iza Trapani
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Publication Date: September 2017
ISBN: 978-1580897297
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: October 3, 2017

Old MacDonald may have a farm, but now he also has a zoo! And watch out because things are about to get pretty darn crazy!

The day starts out well enough for Old MacDonald. With a smile on his face, he begins to milk his cow. His cow is happy, his dog, rolling in the hay, is happy, and even the three tiny mice are having a good time. But when he heads out to feed his pigs, Old MacDonald sees something he has never seen before on his farm...a kangaroo! And that kangaroo isn't just hopping by his fields. That sly kangaroo is hop, hop, hopping through the pig pen, sending mud everywhere, including right onto Old MacDonald. Eeek!

Covered in mud, Old MacDonald heads to the nearby water trough when what does he see but an...elephant! When the zebras show up, Old MacDonald's smile turns to a frown. Something is up...
Old MacDonald Had a...Zoo? is a laugh-out-loud funny tale that kids will absolutely love. The author, Iza Trapani, takes a very familiar song, and turns it into a very, very, silly story/song that kids will want read, or sung, to them over and over.

Old MacDonald heard a crunch, E-I-E-I-O.
Zebras helped themselves to lunch, E-I-E-I-O.
With a chomp above, and a chomp below,
Here a chomp, there a chomp,
Everywhere a chomp chomp,
What a hungry, messy bunch, E-I-E-I-O.


Iza Trapani has written numerous picture books where she takes popular nursery rhymes and gives them new life with ingenious re-imaginations. Her newest, Old MacDonald, has to be one of my favorites. Clever, funny, and beautifully illustrated, this is definitely one book you'll want to add to your child's bookshelf.

Quill says: Old MacDonald is having a rough day when he's visited by all sorts of lovable zoo animals. Laughs will be numerous as you turn the pages and you'll be reading this book over and over at bedtime to your little ones.







Tuesday, October 3, 2017

#AuthorInterview with Ron Singerton

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Ron Singerton, author of A Cherry Blossom in Winter

FQ: Even if it was not known from your biography, readers can tell immediately that historical research is a slight obsession of yours. Where and when did that love come into play? In addition, are you a traveler at heart, or do these ideas, these certain moments in history, just come upon you out of the blue and make you want to research and then write about them?

SINGERTON: Answer: I was a history major at Cal State University Long Beach many years ago but even as a youth as far back as elementary school I steeped myself in reading about ancient adventures and such epic writing such as Winston Churchill’s “The Gathering Storm” and “Triumph and Tragedy.”

Travel to foreign lands broadens one’s perspective and appreciation of other cultures, so I was able to develop some understanding of Japan, which became so important in writing Cherry Blossom when I was stationed there with the U.S. Army in the late 1960’s. Since that time, I have visited St. Petersburg, Russia (also vitally important to the novel) as well as the U.K., the Baltics and Eastern Europe.

When searching for a time period to write about, whether it’s the ancient world or a period closer to our own time, I look for settings and events of unique and critical importance rarely traveled in historical fiction. Then my fictional characters are allowed to play out their roles as the historical elements churn about them adding elemental crisis to their lives.

FQ: You have written stand-alone books as well as series fiction. Can you speak a bit about the positives and negatives that go with both forms? Do you find it palette-cleansing or necessary to break away from a series to write a stand-alone, or do you stay with that particular “moment in time” until the end before taking on another project?

SINGERTON: There is a particular value in writing a series when having memorable characters and a story line that easily leads seamlessly from one period of time to a contiguous one or one that is generational. Villa of Deceit and its sequel, The Silk and the Sword are representative of the latter in which my fictitious lead character, Gaius, an ancient Roman centurion in Villa dragoons his son into an historically epic adventure in Silk and the Sword. My third novel, A Cherry Blossom in Winter, takes place during the Russo Japanese war of 1904-5. The sequel to that continues the family’s story as brother fights brother on opposing sides during World War II, the working title is The Talons of the Eagles.

However, I did visit Cornwall, England for research for a stand-alone murder mystery novel that I look forward to writing when, like in my previous books, need a new vista for a story. So yes, a truly compelling story must be allowed to play itself out to its ultimate conclusion.

FQ: Your character in this book, Alexei, has amazing skill when it comes to the saber. I believe this is a particular talent you have, as well. Can you speak about what first brought you to want to learn that craft? As well as speak about the reenactments you are part of.

SINGERTON: My father was a fencing master and I, having an historical and romantic inclination, found the saber to be an exciting sport in which speed and agility can determine the outcome of a match in the blink of an eye. Of course, the fencing saber, as mentioned in Cherry Blossom was the practice weapon for the military saber during earlier centuries.

For a number of years, I was a Civil War reenactor with Union cavalry (I heard the sound of the guns and was drawn in as if I had lived at that time) and the saber as a weapon was of particular importance in that conflict since a horseman might expend his six pistol rounds very quickly and be forced to either leave the field of action or draw that saber.

FQ: Is there a particular period or civilization that is now gone that you would like to study or focus on for a new novel? Is there a certain subject (s) that you crave to learn more about and bring back to life the people and cultures that once “stood” in that location?

SINGERTON: There was a period of time during graduate years when I thought of becoming an archaeologist. Like so many others upon visiting an ancient site, be it Anasazi or the city of Samarkand, I truly wonder how people lived and thought. Perhaps someday I might visit and write about now forgotten cities and empires on the fabled Silk Road, many having vanished during the Mongol conquest or simply covered by the sands of time. I did explore this great trading route as it wound past the Taklamakan Desert (meaning the one you go in and never come out) and the Pamir Mountains in The Silk and the Sword. And indeed, there are stories to be told whenever great winds uncover the gold embossed sarcophagus of a long dead princess who might have attempted to journey the road between East and West.

FQ: Moving into more modern times...as an author in this age of social media madness, can you talk a bit about the difficulties with marketing in this day and age, as well as what aspects you particularly like about the social media/marketing process?

SINGERTON: Marketing a book in years gone by was almost entirely the responsibility of the publisher. Not so today. Whether one is self-published or, as in my case, has an excellent and professional publisher (Penmore Press, Tucson), the weight of marketing has progressively fallen upon the author. Once the creative writing process is complete, the book becomes a product which (to the disdain of “THE AUTHOR”) who only wants to put quill to paper and fantasize about being another Tolstoy or Faulkner. And though marketing will take time away from writing the next great American Novel, it can be enjoyable if one likes to speak to literary groups, or explore sales possibilities on social media such as the Feathered Quill. A discussion of the book on NPR (which I have so humbly suggested) as well as newspaper interviews might be quite rewarding in bringing the work to a far greater audience than simply being placed on a store bookshelf for ninety days, unless of course, it is a best-seller. Or it becomes a film and I am having a “treatment” and script of Cherry Blossom being prepared for a possible TV or feature film. We can all dream.

FQ: A great many historical authors are also movie buffs. Is this one of your likes? If so, is there a particular historical classic, perhaps, that you love watching? And one that after all your research, you wish would have been done differently?

SINGERTON: I gravitate to films of historical content like a moth to the flame. But as an author and necessarily a researcher of historical material I find myself quite critical of films that either attempt to save money by altering history (in Braveheart the epic battle was fought on Sterling Bridge, not an open field) or where costumes or warships are of the wrong period.

I can’t count how many times I watched Masters and Commanders on the Far Side of the World or Dr. Zhivago, one of the finest historical films ever made. Often bias and point of view have determined the way we see previous periods whether in Plutarch’s Lives or revisiting events as close as World War II or Vietnam. Gone with the Wind written nearly eighty years ago, just like the original Birth of a Nation, is a horrifically biased and warped illustration of the Civil War. Revisionism is a tool that posits a period of time to the social and political desires of a later period, often warping the image of that particular time in a very skewered light. Thus, the real challenge to a writer of historical material is to erase the board of revisionist impulses and investigate life as it truly was, not through moral values or precepts of the Twenty First Century.

FQ: Is there a particular book of yours you would love to see on the screen? Who would be your choice to play the lead? Personally, I think Alexei and his tale would make a great flick.

SINGERTON: I can’t agree with you more! A sweeping epic film or even a series taking place in decadent St. Petersburg, militaristic Japan and finally in the decisive and disastrous battle of Tsushima in which the entire Russian navy is destroyed, would, along with the entwined lives of Alexei and his love, Kimi-san, would make a most compelling film. And the previous book, The “Silk and the Sword” takes the reader on an epic journey of survival from Rome to the Great Wall of China. (And yes, Roman survivors of the Battle of Carrhae, 53 B.C.E., did march to the Wall where they lived out the remainder of their lives).

There are so many fine actors who could play Alexei. Perhaps John Bowe of Poldark or Jake Gyllenhaal, James McAvoy, Ben Affleck or Benedict Cumberbatch. Are any of them listening?

FQ: It would be a thrill to hear about a “Day of Writing” in the life of Ron Singerton. Can you tell us-and all the other wannabe authors out there-what gets the imagination flowing and how you go about putting it all together?

SINGERTON: There is nothing like a long walk on a virtually deserted beach or through a wind-tossed mountain glade as the sun comes up (and a sliver of moon is still high) to conjure up images of half-maddened warriors on charging steeds a thousand years ago. I think the mind has to be devoid of all the mundane things we have to do each day. Do your research, find those unsung epics upon which history turned and let your mind wander the close winding paths and broad fields where lives carved themselves in the stones of time. Can one imagine a Roman legion looking down with mystified horror of one million Visigoths, driven by the Huns, about to force their way into the ancient world’s greatest civilization? What does your hero, a legionnaire in the first rank, the most vulnerable think, and will he live to see the sun go down?

Sitting on my veranda with the aid of a black Russian, the terror of my legionnaire as he tears back to the consuls and Senate is the stuff that makes me get up at four in the morning, turn on the light, and frantically scribble lines that I hope I can read come dawn. But it takes writing, rewriting and even a good listener to put it all together so coherent, so exciting, that the reader cannot wait to turn the page. That is what it is all about.

Author Ron Singerton

FQ: On a personal note can you tell readers a bit about your gallery, and what types of art you create?

SINGERTON: My wife, Darla, and I owned and operated a gallery in Idyllwild California, a small mountain community about thirty minutes west of Palm Springs, California, for eight years. She did exquisite jewelry and I did bronze, stone, ceramic, glass and paintings, both representative and abstract. Although we closed the gallery last November, I still do commission work, mostly painting and stone. Some of the work can be seen on my website: www.ronsingerton.com.

Since closing the gallery, I have really been concentrating on writing and the marketing that goes with it. If however, a film enters the picture, I will have a whole new world opening up. Not a bad thing at seventy-five. As we said in the army, “Fix Bayonets!”

FQ: What’s next up for readers to look forward to?

SINGERTON: I am into chapter eight of some forty chapters of The Talons of the Eagles and hope to finish the first draft in about eight months. Although I do a rather thorough read through twenty or so non-fiction histories of the Second World War both in the Pacific and Japan, I engage in specific research for each chapter. If I get it wrong, somebody out there will most assuredly will know! But of course, just like in a court of law, you have “experts” who have written about such things as the Battle of the Coral Sea, who have different impressions, biases and points of view. It is up to the author to wade through those and determine which is most credible, while working it into the loves, fears, lusts and hopes of the characters you determine will people your novel.

To learn more about A Cherry Blossom in Winter please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.



























Tuesday, September 26, 2017

#BookReview - A Cherry Blossom in Winter


A Cherry Blossom in Winter

By: Ron Singerton
Publisher: Penmore Press
Publication Date: June 2017
ISBN: 978-1-942-756-92-7
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: September 24, 2017

There are many tales when it comes to war; some memorable, some a regurgitation of information that has come before. Chances are, with all the titles you have read over time, there are only a sparse number you’ve liked so much that they reached the hallowed bookshelves—finding their niche among those other few that were so good you read them again and again. This is one of those books.

Told with a passion that speaks as if the writer was actually a character in this time period, readers are introduced to Alexei. He is competing in St. Petersburg, Russia, at the Invitational Fencing Competition. It is 1897, and Alexei has already eliminated some of the best there, and is now competing against a man who is older than he but is also the one responsible for teaching him this skill. Alexei is seventeen years of age, which makes him one year shy of being able to attend the prestigious Naval Academy where this competition is taking place. Upside is, that the superintendent of the Academy, Admiral Kochenkov, knows Alexei’s ambassador father and can perhaps get him enrolled a tad bit sooner.

Following in the footsteps of his father, Alexei sees his future as a military one, full of heroic scenes and a wealth of honor that is well-earned. There is a huge part of him that wants to make his father proud, although good old Dad is not exactly the nicest of all men. Life, of course, is never an easy one, especially during an age where war is constantly being spoken about and two cultures are scrambling to be the first to fall into the future “super-power” category.

There is a great deal of anguish at home for Alexei, in his beloved Russia. However, Alexei finds an even greater wall to climb in the country of Japan. When he travels with his father (who hates all things Japanese) to this rich and vibrant country, he meets the girl of his dreams, beginning a journey where love will be his greatest test of courage. Her name is Kimi-san and she has the distinction of being the daughter of a Japanese war hero. She and Alexei find themselves falling head over heels with one another, even though the threats are more than real when it comes to these two particular nations joining together.

As the talk of war grows, Alexei returns to his homeland in order to become the naval officer he has always dreamed of being. What Alexei is not ready for is the family secret that could destroy him, an angry comrade who becomes a rival, as well as a best friend who leans toward revolution, joining with Marxist rebels who want nothing more than to overthrow the regime.

Alexei will find himself fighting for a country that is basically exhausted, attempting to stand up against his true love’s homeland that is far more eager, young, and much more modern when it comes to its weaponry. The end result will be a battle of monumental proportions, and two hearts that will work diligently to find a way to be together even if the world around them is falling apart.
Everything focused on in this book is done with such exhilaration that all of the romances – and, yes, there are more than just Alexei and Kimi-san – as well as the family battles, the battles on land, at sea, and in the minds of these young people who are hoping to be seen as the honorable ones when the smoke clears, are vibrant and emotional to the nth degree.

Quill says: This historical wizard has once again penned a tale that speaks to readers on every level, inspiring both the heart and mind.

For more information on A Cherry Blossom in Winter, please visit the author's website at: ronsingerton.com









#BookReview - Colors of Christmas


Colors of Christmas: Two Contemporary Stories Celebrate the Hope of Christmas

By: Olivia Newport
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press
Publication Date: October 2017
ISBN: 978-1-68322-335-1
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: September 24, 2017

Olivia Newport delivers two stories that invoke the celebration and hope of Christmas between the covers of Colors of Christmas.

"Christmas in Gold" begins with Astrid facing life’s next chapter. The home where she and her departed husband raised their two children, Alex and Ingrid, is more than she can manage alone. When Astrid fell and fractured her leg, her son Alex put his foot down. It was time to sell the house and move mom to an assisted living facility. With the demands of his job and extensive travel, he wasn’t around much and it was only a matter of time before something would go seriously wrong—or so Alex believed. And he wasn't the only one who felt this way - his sister Ingrid agreed. Besides, she had her own family and two young children to worry about without having the constant fear of something happening to her mother. When Astrid arrives at her new home, reality hits hard. Gone were the many rooms and years of character in the home she and her husband made together. Astrid’s new home had been reduced to the equivalent of a loft with a bedroom, with a kitchenette that transitioned into a small family area with little to no storage throughout. Now the holidays are around the corner and it’s the first year her home will be absent of the strapping Christmas tree adorned with the special gold ornaments—treasures that had survived Nazi Germany and many feats beyond. Astrid’s gravest concern is the whereabouts of her ornaments. In the move, the box is nowhere to be found and her fear is that they are lost forever.

"Christmas in Blue" takes the reader on a journey of loss and new beginnings. Angela is a piano teacher and while her bevy of adolescent students would much prefer the great outdoors to the confines of a piano bench and foreign keys, their respective parents continue to send their children to her for the infusion of culture. In the small town of Spruce Valley, the holidays are looming. With the passing of her dear friend, Carole, Angela is looking forward to skipping the fanfare of the holidays and jumping into the new year. However, the annual tradition of A Christmas to Remember is upon her—a painful and bittersweet reminder of her dear friend Carole’s passing. The planning committee for the event assembles in their first meeting. Chairwoman Rowena Pickwell thinks it is a brilliant idea to nominate Angela to take the lead this year. Recognizing the nomination is more of a mandate than option, Angela processes the tall order and has more than a few mental expletives before graciously accepting the appointment. Angela faces resistance, challenges and downright obstacles along the way. While past events are reminders for the people of Spruce Valley to have something to look forward to thanks to Carole; this year could be the first year it is remembered as the event nobody will ever forget.

Olivia Newport pens the realities of life experiences and how their melancholia is personified during the holidays in both stories. In "Christmas in Gold," even though Astrid’s mind is sharp, her body is not as strong as it once was. Through thoughtful dialogue, Ms. Newport addresses aging with a realistic, positive approach and does not paint her character as a victim and paint her into a corner of utter and complete dependency. Rather, she uses her savvy wordsmithing to develop a character who is strong and willing to accept the new path in her journey of life. In "Christmas in Blue," Ms. Newport continues to stay true to her pen and audience and delivers another faith-based tale. This time, she focuses on the acceptance of loss and the importance of carrying on. Both stories are not preachy diatribes of hellfire and brimstone fraught with religious pontification. To the contrary, they are two light-hearted, feel-good renditions of looking beyond the unfair moments in life and embracing the joy and gift of the present through faith. I applaud Ms. Newport for delivering two charming and warm stories.

Quill says: Colors of Christmas is a great read for that someone special on your holiday list this year.





Sunday, September 24, 2017

#BookReview - A Strange Scottish Shore


A Strange Scottish Shore (Book 2 of the Emmeline Truelove Series)

By: Juliana Gray
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: September 2017
ISBN: 978-0425277089
Reviewed by: Diana Buss
Review Date: September 24, 2017

A mystery, time-travel and interesting characters combine to make for an intriguing read in book number two of the Emmeline Truelove series.

In August of 1906 at King’s Cross Station in London, we find researcher Emmeline Truelove preparing to board a train to north Scotland. Truelove, after being summoned for an urgent matter by Max, the Duke of Olympia (one of her closest friends and a fellow researcher), sets off straight away with her leather portfolio in hand. In the Orkney Islands, Truelove is not exactly sure what mysterious objects and artifacts she is going to find, but one thing is for certain, the train hasn’t even left the station and she’s already faced with some strange events and familiar people - including someone from a past expedition in Naxos, which leaves her with an ominous feeling. As the train embarks to their destination, Truelove is met with a ghost from the past warning her of danger, as well as Lord Silverton, sent by the duke to ensure her safety and well-being. As night arrives, they settle in at a hotel. After sharing dinner together and settling in for the night - Truelove taking the bed and Lord Silverton at watch on the couch - Truelove awakes with a distinct feeling something is very wrong. She is, of course, correct. Lord Silverton is gone, and so is her portfolio.

The Duke of Olympia is waiting for Truelove the next day at the Thurso terminus and immediately senses trouble. Lord Silverton’s disappearance and the theft of Truelove's portfolio only seems to heighten the mystery of what is going on. It’s clear that they have an awful lot of work to do. After finally getting to see what brought her to Scotland - a mysterious trunk with a hidden pocket holding a Selkie suit - it’s time to find the connection and get to work. Before they can dig too deeply, however, a man from Naxos, named Hunter, appears, clearly with a mission to get something or hurt someone. Hunter can’t harm the duke, because the duke has what Hunter needs - the ability to travel through time - so right now Truelove is his way of getting what he wants from the duke. After a battle that leads to Hunter falling out a window into the rocks and water below, they believe they are safe and carry on with the mission. After much contemplation, they come to the strange discovery that perhaps Silverton has travelled back in time and that the Selkie suit, just maybe, might have to do with an ancient legend. Truelove, deciding to travel back in time to find Silverton and explore the mystery at hand, may have found a bit more than she had bargained for. Fortunately, Silverton’s skills and Truelove’s mind help to guide them around every mysterious and dangerous turn their travels take.

This book was slow to start, mainly because it was a little confusing. The story is very clearly a part of a series, and frequently references events from the first book, A Most Extraordinary Pursuit. For this reason, I recommend reading that book before diving into A Strange Scottish Shore, as I believe a good deal of character development is in book one - although you can generally figure out what must have happened between characters before. As the story progresses, it becomes clear what is going on and pieces begin to fall into place. The connections between people, places and time are not exactly obvious, but it is possible to put the pieces together as more information is presented. A Strange Scottish Shore is full of action, excitement and love, all while not being overly romantic or cliche. In fact, very little about this book is cliche. I look forward to the next in the series - I hope there is one after what appears to be a cliffhanger in this story. Stick with this book, if you are thinking of putting it down, you’ll be oh so glad you didn't stop reading.

Quill says: A Strange Scottish Shore is a captivating mystery that will leave you guessing at every turn.





Friday, September 22, 2017

#BookReview - Pretty Powerful


Pretty Powerful: Appearance, Substance, and Success

By: Eboni K. Williams
Publisher: Viva Editions
Publication Date: September 2017
ISBN: 978-1635966626
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: September 23, 2017

As an attorney and now a media legal analyst, Eboni K. Williams has strong opinions on how a woman's appearance can help, or hinder, her professional career. In Pretty Powerful, she presents her case using examples from her own life mixed with experiences from other successful women.

Having worked as an actress and model before turning to the world of law and politics, Ms. Williams well understands how women struggle to play up their looks to help move along the corporate ladder. She too, struggled, particularly after having that modeling career. But she uses her legal background to make a strong argument for using "Pretty Powerful" to one's advantage and will have you re-thinking how you want to present yourself to the world.

Ms. Williams starts her book with an introduction that recalls her interviewing at Fox News to become a legal and political analyst. This was a position she'd been working toward for a long time and she was going to do all she could to secure that job. In addition to knowing what she wanted to tell the executives who would be interviewing her, Williams also paid careful attention to how she dressed. The way her hair was styled, the dress she wore, and her makeup, would, she believed, convey to those executives that she was a serious contender for the coveted job. While many of us don't want to think that how we dress/look affects our professional career, Williams argues that the first impression we make is still based on physical appearance. But, she argues, beauty and a perfect appearance alone are not enough to succeed, and to make her point, she delves into the 2008 presidential campaign and the woes of vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin. A well-dressed, attractive woman, Palin initially seemed to be a welcome addition to the Republican ticket. But once her lack of substance became apparent, she was torn apart in the press.

Williams tackles numerous aspects of "Pretty Powerful" from "Fat-shaming" to "The Bimbo Effect," giving her opinions on each as well as including interviews with well-known and successful women to get their views on the topics. From Meghan McCain, to Marcia Clark and Judge Jeanine Pirro, these ladies have some strong views and they're not afraid to share them. The interviewees give great insight into how using their appearance/dress (or not using it) helped or hindered their careers. For example, when Judge Pirro was beginning her career in law, she was one of only a few women lawyers and felt strong pressure to downplay her feminine side. Today, she argues, it's a different world, and by the time she had risen to being a judge, she felt comfortable about dressing up her wardrobe a little. Marcia Clark too, remembers when she was thrown into the limelight during the O.J. Simpson trail. She was too busy to worry about her looks and the media had a feeding frenzy because of it. In contrast, Desiree Rogers, who was the White House social secretary for President Obama, was criticized for being too flashy and that played a pivotal role in her job. Williams analyzes these various experiences to show how looks and brains must be used together, and that one over the other can have negative effects on a career. The author concludes her book with a look at sexual harassment and "The Bimbo Effect," where women who are very attractive can be stigmatized as being less capable.

In today's world, women are taught that we should advance in the work world (and indeed, in all aspects of our lives) by using our brains and not our beauty. But Ms. Williams makes a strong argument for using both to help us achieve our goals. Whether you have natural beauty or not, how you present yourself (your hair, your dress, your makeup), will say a lot about who you are and how serious you are about your job. Williams cautions, however, that too much of one over the other will likely have a negative effect. How to achieve that perfect balance is something Williams addresses throughout the book. Women, she argues, will be empowered once they realize that it's okay to use both their substance and appearance to fast-forward their careers. Pretty Powerful is an easy and interesting read, well researched, and it may well start some interesting discussions around the water cooler.

Quill says: In Pretty Powerful, Eboni K. Williams makes a strong argument for how and why to use one's appearance to help succeed in the work world.






Monday, September 18, 2017

#AuthorInterview with Helena P. Schrader @HelenaPSchrader

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Helena P. Schrader, author of The Last Crusader Kingdom: Dawn of a Dynasty in Twelfth-Century Cyprus

FQ: You speak about one day putting together a history of the Iberlins. Can you tell us a bit about this particular project?

SCHRADER: I’m an historian by education and the first books I published were non-fiction: a biography of a leading member of the German Resistance to Hitler, a comparative study of women pilots in WWII, and a book on the Berlin Airlift. However, I have not published a non-fiction book on the crusades or medieval history. I started playing with the idea both as a means to keep my brain active and to lend credibility to my historical fiction set in the crusades.

When researching for my current novel, I was amazed by just how powerful Balian’s descendants were in the 13th century. His sons were regents of Jerusalem and Cyprus. Other descendants were constables and seneschals of both kingdoms at various times, baillies for the Holy Roman Emperor, barons of Beirut, Sidon, Caesarea, Arsur, and Counts of Jaffa and Ascalon. Daughters of the House of Ibelin married Kings of Cyprus six times! The Ibelins were scholars, whose legal opinion dominated the highly sophisticated courts of Outremer, and they were patrons of the arts. John d’Ibelin, Balian’s eldest son and the hero of The Last Crusader Kingdom, built a palace that stunned visitors from the west for its polychrome marble, realistic mosaics, fountains, windows and extensive gardens — and that in the early 13th century. In fact, no book about the history of the Holy Land can avoid reference to the Ibelins, yet no one has pulled all the fragments together to write an account of the rise of the House of Ibelin. That is a challenge I have set myself. It should keep me busy and intellectually challenged in retirement! The working title is: The Uncrowned Kings of Outremer.

FQ: Cyprus, for a small island, has always played such a major role throughout history. Can you tell readers what drew you to this particular locale? Have you visited Cyprus in person?

SCHRADER: One accidental trip to Cyprus literally changed my life. My husband and I had planned a holiday in Egypt when a terrorist attack made us cancel our plans. On short notice, we had to find an alternative destination — far from the cold and gloom of a German winter. We found a cheap package-deal to Cyprus and arrived without knowing anything about the island. I fell in love almost instantly — we landed in balmy temperatures just as a large copper sun slipped into the sea behind the palm trees. In the following week, I was astonished to discover that Cyprus had been ruled by Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, Crusaders, Venetians, and Turks. The layers of history fascinated me (I’m a historian remember), and the relics of these various periods are enticingly set in some of the most entrancing landscapes imaginable.

Because of this one trip, my life changed in two ways: First, my husband and I decided to retire to a Mediterranean island and spent the next fifteen years choosing the right one for us. Second, I became fascinated with crusader Cyprus and did extensive research leading to a series of novels set in crusader Cyprus of which The Last Crusader Kingdom is the second to be published. St. Louis’ Knight was the first of my Cypriot books to be published.

FQ: As an expert in this area, when you look at history – from Roman rule to others attempting to take over lands for their own treasure chests – how is it that the people of Cyprus have such extreme loyalty to their land? Do you find it unique that they constantly stood up against far bigger enemies? Is there another particular kingdom you would compare them to?

SCHRADER: I don’t think their love of their country is unique. It is quite natural. However, large islands have two natural advantages: 1) clearly defined borders (that foster identity), and 2) natural defenses (which deter many would-be conquerors). Palestine has been over-run by every civilization in recorded history because it has no defenses. The mixture of so many different invaders and settlers, undermines identity and unity. Cyprus, Sicily and England, on the other hand, evolved strong and unique identity as a result of having immutable borders and the ability to resist many attempts at conquest. Despite which, they have all been invaded from time to time.

FQ: As a diplomat currently serving in Africa, can you tell readers a bit about your current post? Is it a good place to be a writer?

SCHRADER: I’m currently serving in Ethiopia, which is an amazing country with a history that stretches back to Biblical times. Ancient Ethiopia maintained trading ties from Ancient Greece to India. Ethiopians claim that Balthzar was Ethiopian, and Ethiopia was the second country to make Christianity the state religion. Ethiopians were in Jerusalem in the 12th century, took part in the defense against Saladin, and to this day maintain a chapel in the Church of Calvary in Jerusalem, a gift of Saladin after he gained control of the Holy City. Today, although roughly 40% of the population is Muslim, Christians and Muslims live together in admirable harmony. Ethiopia has its own script dating to ancient times, a rich, written history and literary, artistic and musical traditions hundreds, if not thousands, of years old.

My experiences here have enriched my understanding of human nature, which is critical to writing good fiction set in any period. Indeed, my descriptions of refugees, insurrection, the impact of female genital mutilation, and much more are based on my personal experiences here.

Ethiopia has also been evocative of the Middle Ages in a number of ways. Just living in a profoundly religious society, for example, helps me understand the mentality of medieval men and women better. Likewise, being extremely rich and privileged in a country dominated by subsistence agriculture and poverty provides insight into the roles and responsibilities of as well as the responses to royalty in medieval Europe. Encountering donkeys, camels, and livestock on the streets or watching plowing and threshing with oxen makes it easier to visualize daily life in the Middle Ages too. I think rural Ethiopia is closer to medieval Europe than anywhere in the entire United States.

FQ: Jumping to the industry, itself, can you share a “day of writing for Helena Schrader?” Such as, do you need to work in a specific area, have it completely quiet, work better in the morning than the afternoon, etc.?

SCHRADER: I like to work at a large desk with a pleasant view to the outside world and lots of natural light. I need to be surrounded by book cases filled with my research books. Immediately to my right are the books I refer to most frequently on my current project, including a dictionary and thesaurus. These books include primary and secondary sources, biographies of key figures, art books, books on the architecture, diet, fashion, and atlases and tour guides of Cyprus and the Holy Land.
I also need blocks of time to work, because I always reread the previous 2 chapters/sections before starting work. It generally takes me a while to get back in the mindset necessary for stepping into the shoes of my characters and telling their story. This means that as long as I have a full-time day job, I can only write on weekends and holidays. Because I need time to “prepare” to write, I do my best writing late afternoon and early evening.

FQ: As an author, is there one industry issue you feel should be addressed? What are your personal views on digital publishing?

SCHRADER: Digital publishing has been liberating for both authors and readers. It is wonderful to be able to have books to read loaded on an e-reader and be able to keep that in a purse and read them anywhere/anytime. That said, I hate the inability to rapidly flip back and forth between text and end-notes, maps or other supplementary material in an academic work. I no-longer buy non-fiction books in ebook format. In fact, I prefer reading paperbacks, but for travel I still download some books to avoid carrying heavy paper around.

In terms of industry “issues,” I’m inclined to think that the flooding of the market with 4,000 (or is it more?) books per day is, like a real flood, damaging. There’s way too much worthless trash out there and it’s almost impossible for quality books to find their way to readers’ attention. There is a need for a filter of some sort — but not a return to the system of agents and publishers preserving their individual, arrogant and narrow-minded vision of what is “literature” or should be “popular.” I believe that there must be some way to filter out patently sub-standard books without interfering with freedom of expression or effectively imposing censorship.

FQ: Along those same lines, your books are so well put together – substance, as well as editorially – could you share your views, if any, on how the editing “arm” has dwindled over time? What would be a piece of advice you would give to the new author out there who is also a fan of history, research and learning?

SCHRADER: First, thank you for the compliment. Editing is critical to quality, and finding affordable editing is a huge challenge for the independent novelist.

As for advice: With respect to research, when writing historical fiction it is not enough to get all the “facts” right. Fiction requires more research than non-fiction. You need to know about the architecture, art, cuisine, clothing, social structure, legal norms, religious practices (not theology or theory!), and more. I recently read a book set in the late 12th century in which the writer talks about lace garments and capes, neither of which were features of 12th century fashion. I’ve read other books set in the Middle Ages that feature carriages. Nonsense. That kind of stupid mistake jars your reader out of the story, and detracts from what might otherwise be a brilliant work of art. Worst of all, of course, are “medieval” characters with modern ideology and behavior. Superwomen riding around in armor and besting men in combat, priests questioning the divinity of Christ, kings suggesting democracy would be more fair and the like. That kind of thing completely discredits you as a novelist and guts the novel itself of any value.

Good historical fiction addresses universal themes (like the suffering of displaced humans, greed, passion, ambition, compassion etc.) without introducing anachronisms. In good historical fiction, anachronisms are unnecessary precisely because human behavior has hardly changed in 5,000 years, and so many of the challenges we face today were challenges to people in the past too. My motto is: understanding ourselves by understanding the past. The emphasis is on understanding — not trying to retroactively impose modern ideas on the past, much less altering the past to suit our current concepts of “correct” behavior.

With respect to writing: plan to re-write your book at least three times and, if at all possible, leave the book alone (don’t even look at it) for a month or two — or better six! — between each re-write. You’ll see many more flaws and be able to make more valuable corrections.

With respect to editing: if possible, have two different editors look at your manuscript. They will see different problems and correct different weaknesses.

FQ: Could you tell readers about the current works you have in progress?

SCHRADER: In the second quarter of the 13th Century, Friedrich II Hohenstaufen, the Holy Roman Emperor, attempted to impose authoritarian government upon Outremer based on his vision of himself as a “Roman Emperor.” He attempted to remove vassals from their fiefs by royal decree without due process, for example. His ambitions were opposed by the majority of the barons of Outremer — led by the hero of The Last Crusader Kingdom, namely John d’Ibelin, more commonly known as the “old Lord of Beirut.” The conflict is recorded in detail in a history written in the mid-13th century by a participant (and partisan of the Ibelins): Philip of Novare. The events described are dramatic and exciting with sieges, battles, negotiations, hostages taken, and dramatic escapes in small boats, amphibious landings, daring rescues and more — perfect material for a novel, or two.
The novel I’m currently working on will cover the events of the 6th Crusade (Friedrich Hohenstaufen’s crusade 1228-1229) largely through the eyes of John d’Ibelin’s eldest son and the latter’s future wife, Eschiva de MontbĂ©liard. I’m a little nervous about it, because the principals are young, a little hot-headed, and not as heroic historically as Balian, Maria, and John d’Ibelin, but I wanted a change of pace and hope my readers will enjoy a new cast of characters.

FQ: Thank you for your time.

SCHRADER: Thank you for this opportunity to talk directly to readers! I hope readers will feel free to send me their personal questions either via my Goodreads questions page or by writing me directly at: hps_books@yahoo.com

To learn more about The Last Crusader Kingdom: Dawn of a Dynasty in Twelfth-Century Cyprus please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.