Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Five Tips for Writing in a Literary Collaboration @BenedicteRouss

Five tips for writing in a literary collaboration
by Bénédicte Rousseau

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

Book Review - The Separation. @auctionguy28

The Separation

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

Win A Book!



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

Sunday, June 17, 2018

#BookReview - Sniper: A Frank Renzi Crime Thriller

Sniper: A Frank Renzi Crime Thriller

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

Thursday, June 14, 2018

#AuthorInterview with Mario Dhingsa @MarioDhingsa

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

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

#AuthorInterview with Jo Ann Bender

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

Sunday, June 10, 2018

#BookReview - Casanova Cowboy

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

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

#BookReview - High Office Whispers @MarioDhingsa

High Office Whispers: Pleasure. Power. Pain.

By: Mario Dhingsa
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Publication Date: December 2017
ASIN: B078H48FN1
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: June 9, 2018
Author Mario Dhingsa delivers an interesting, and entertaining, read in his newest work, High Office Whispers.
Available only as an ebook, High Office Whispers is a collection of three short stories that were originally written as a radio play.  As such, it reads like a play with notations such as "Choral orchestra heard as scene introduction," or "Door closes. Mobile phone rings," to help set each scene as well as better explain various actions.  For all three stories, the year is 2011, and the place is...well, each place is somewhere very important to world events.  Now on to those stories...
The first story takes place at the Vatican and as in all three stories, revolves around just two people.  For this one, we're taken to a private meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister of Italy.  The real Berlusconi served as Prime Minister for nine years and had a controversial career with many "highlights" including a prison sentence for corruption.  In this story, Berlusconi meets with the Pope at the Pope's request. The Pope, it seems, is bothered by Berlusconi's lifestyle and his apparent ability to spread "...the seeds of sin."  The Pope wants Berlusconi to confess his sins, but will he?
In the second tale, we meet Julia Gillard, the Prime Minister of Australia and Tony Abbott, the Leader of the Opposition (he became Prime Minister in 2013).  On opposing sides, Gillard is hopeful that the two can find middle ground from which to agree.  But Abbott is far more interested in having Gillard call him "Tony A."  Apparently, it's very important to Abbott...When Abbott starts talking about what he does to "...perform in this damn theatre of politics," things really get going.  It sounds a lot like what is happening currently in the U.S.
The final story takes place at the Kremlin between - who else - Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev (President of Russia).  Putin has called the meeting between the two, at 6 a.m., as a "catch-up" meeting to learn of recent events that he, as Prime Minister, needs to address.  Medvedev does his best to update Putin, but Putin is far more interested in manly things like taking his shirt off.  This meeting is not going to end well...
High Office Whispers is a quick read, one that you could easily do over a leisurely lunch.  The stories are quirky - definitely a bit offbeat and unusual.  They also all made me laugh, roll my eyes numerous times (in a good, "oh my" sort of way), and picture those famous people in the circumstances the author created.  It is definitely interesting to imagine what the Pope or Putin might do behind closed doors and author Mario Dhingsa has given us a humorous look that may also get you thinking about what might really go on when the cameras are gone.  As a very reasonably priced ebook, High Office Whispers is a good investment for a fun afternoon read.
Quill says: If you've ever wondered what happens with powerful people behind closed doors, check out High Office Whispers - you're sure to get a laugh.
To learn more about High Office Whispers, please visit the author's website at: authors/org.nz/author/mariodhingsa/

#AuthorInterview with Ann Crawford @ann_crawford1

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Ann Crawford, author of Life in the Hollywood Lane.
FQ: Tell our readers a little about yourself. Your background, your interests, and how this led to writing a book?
CRAWFORD: My background is allllllll over the place -- literally! I've lived in all four continental time zones...from sea to shining sea to the prairie to the mountain (and, yes, I totally know I'm mixing my patriotic songs here). I've traveled to 65+ counties (and counting) as well as all 50 states. I try to bring the fascinating people I've meet and places I've been into all of my books, and they especially show up in this one.
I feel like just about everything I've done in my life prepared me to write this book. I lived in California for many years and worked for a while as a documentary filmmaker and as a talent manager. The devotion my group of actors showed to their craft and how hard they worked -- and how hard "the industry" is -- left a profound impression on me.
As I was reading through the book to finalize it, I realized that not much in my life could've been different in order to make this book the way it is. Lots of the travels I've done, people I've met, filmmaking and screenwriting classes I've taken, myriad jobs and plays and movies I've been involved with, fellas I've dated (not quite as many as Trish, though), plus a lifetime of books and articles I've read and movies I've watched, not to mention the tragedies I've faced and mistakes I've made all make an appearance in this book. It's quite a conglomeration!
FQ: Have you always enjoyed writing or is it something you’ve discovered recently?

Author Ann Crawford

CRAWFORD: I've enjoyed writing since I could hold a pen. Books were a revered item in my household as I was growing up, and I knew I'd be a writer someday.
FQ: Tell us a little about your book – a brief synopsis and what makes your book unique.
CRAWFORD: In Life in the Hollywood Lane, Trish, a 40-year-old actor, travels the journey of grief with dedication if not always grace, learns the ins and outs of how "the industry" works, follows her dreams, and finds that this crazy life might not be as bad as she'd convinced herself it was. While this is a book about a woman whose best friend commits suicide, it's funny, quirky, wise, and inspirational--not a downer.
Taking a true tragedy and giving the path of grief its full due, while still being considered a humorous book, makes my book unique. I also provide a lot of insights into the movie industry from an insider's view.

Author Ann Crawford recording an audiobook

FQ: What was the impetus for writing your book?
CRAWFORD: I worked in talent management for a bit, and one of my actors committed suicide. A dear friend also committed suicide a number of years ago, so it's certainly something that's been on my mind. The other inspiration was falling in love with (I love very easily, LOL) and admiring all of the actors I worked with...they work so hard, are so dedicated to their craft, and are amazing being. Hollywood -- both the place and the industry -- can be so tough on people.
FQ: Please give our readers a little insight into your writing process. Do you set aside a certain time each day to write, only write when the desire to write surfaces, or …?
CRAWFORD: I find having a routine helps the writing process more than anything. I also have a special playlist that I develop for each book. So as soon as I sit down at the appointed time and turn on the appointed music, I'm like Pavlov's dog and the writing flows (well, usually...some days it's just not there and I'll go do something else).
Ideas come to me at all times of the day or night, so I keep a notepad handy. That can be a little challenging in the shower, a place where ideas really tend to come for some crazy reason. But I just summarize the idea to one word, and I can usually remember that word to write down the whole idea. If I don't do that, the idea often dissipates like a dream.
FQ: Are any of the characters based on real people you know? If so, how closely does your character mimic the real person?
CRAWFORD: As I mentioned, I worked in talent management for a bit, and one of my actors committed suicide--an utter shock to everyone who knew her. About a year later, I started writing the book based on that event and from the point of view of her best friend, but the characters are completely from my imagination and aren't based on the real people involved.
FQ: Tell us about your favorite character and why that person is your favorite.
CRAWFORD: I love Trish, the shero of this story...although Cyndi, her BFF who died, is a shero of her own journey and I definitely love her, too.
Trish is quirky, funny, playful, passionate, and dedicated to seeing her dreams come true. She's been compared to Bridget Jones more than once...so she's weepy, loopy, silly, and bit all over the place, as well. She's real, and that can be messy sometimes. But she also has a phenomenal power inside that she discovers and allows to make an appearance in her life.
I have family in Wisconsin and have spent a considerable amount of time there. When I told a family member that my book's star is from Wisconsin, she said, "And of course you made her virtuous and perfect!" (Actually, she didn't say "perfect," but something close.) I said, "Of course not! Who would want to read about someone who's totally perfect?" Trish has her faults and foibles, but she takes on her challenges and carves out a remarkable life for herself in one of the toughest industries and places to succeed. I adore this person!

Ann Crawford, also an award-winning filmmaker, on location for a movie

FQ: What was the most difficult scene to write and why?
CRAWFORD: Well, after writing about a crucifixion and a burning at the stake in other books, this was a breeze! Well, maybe not quite a breeze, but this book was far easier than those two others were.
I lost my mom at a young age. I went through a divorce. A dear friend committed suicide, as I mentioned. My brother has a terminal neurological illness and is very slowly winding down his life. Drawing on the memories of grief and adding the current grief about my brother helped me write about Trish's pain in a very real way. There are a couple of scenes where Trish is overwhelmed with her pain and screaming at the world and at her friend, and those were the hardest to write in this book...but, still, this was nothing compared to some scenes from previous books!
FQ: Was it important to you to have a plot that would keep readers guessing about the outcome?
CRAWFORD: If I'm writing a book, it's bound to be a love story! So anyone who's read a previous book knows falling in love will probably be an outcome. Many of the other elements of the outcome happen gradually throughout the book, so it wasn't too important to keep folks from guessing what would happen.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Meet Author Jo Ann Bender!


Meet the author of "Casanova Cowboy" in our new
"Meet the Authors" section!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

#BookReview - Galahad's Fool

Galahad's Fool

By: Conrad Bishop & Elizabeth Fuller
Publisher: WoodWorkers Press
Publication Date: June 2018
ISBN: 978-0-9997287-0-3
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: June 2018
In Northern California, a place that offers the colorful growth of flowers, a stage blossoms as well. Or, at least, it did. Here is a place built by a husband and wife team that allows others to enjoy the world of imagination. The male part of this duo, a puppeteer and writer by the name of Albert Fisher, is dealing with pain and loneliness. His wife, Lainie, was lost to him, passing away in the early morning hours while in a coma. Albert is currently working on putting together a new play and attempting to mold the puppets that will be the stars of the show; although one is giving him a great many problems. He heads down to the local coffee shop where he 'people watches,' and he continues to write about one person who was a hero to a great many. A hero who appeared on paper doing incredible things, which calls for a true hero’s soul to “show” through the eyes of this puppet.
Sir Galahad is that character and, a bit like the beloved “Monty Python,” Albert’s attempting to write a humorous tale in regards to Galahad and his new quest. As much as Albert utilizes this new show that he’s putting together as a form of healing – now that the anniversary of the death of his wife is almost upon him – Albert also uses this play and this character as something to throw himself into…something that allows him to almost “be” the aging Galahad in this tale.
Sir Galahad, to Albert, has given up the days of horsing around and is now settled, married, growing older, and living in a ranch-style castle with his beautiful wife. Albert “lives” through Galahad, giving the hero who was one who never lost faith, a look at real life and the traumas that can come from it. What he doesn’t know right off the bat is that Sir Galahad, in return, will be the path that brings the spark of belief back to a man who has been hurt by life, itself.
Readers take quite a trek with Albert and Galahad, learning about Albert’s “Lost Boy” moments and his days while growing up in Iowa. They will see Albert wrestle with his feelings, try to regain the imagination and need for both his life and the play, while Galahad forms an army and a Fool switches places with a woman in order to help form a kinship between the characters. You also meet a costumer by the name of Jeanette that adds yet another layer to Albert.
The writers of this tale, a husband and wife duo, offer scenes of perfection when it comes to backstage life, making the scents and sounds of the playhouse world jump off the pages. Not to mention, the nuggets of wonder provided by characters when asking questions such as whether or not people have to be fools in order to believe in the magic of faith. Galahad wore armor and Albert wears irony, which is certainly a form of armor many of us clothe ourselves in. And watching Albert relieve himself of burdens and learn how to bring back the soul in both a puppet’s eyes as well as his own can and will take your breath away.
Quill Says: There is emotion in this book that is done so well, there’s no doubt you will read it again and again.
For more information on Galahad's Fool, please visit the website www.DamnedFool.com.

#BookReview - The Summer Sail

The Summer Sail

By: Wendy Francis
Publisher: Touchstone
Publication Date: May 2018
ISBN: 978-1501188916
Reviewed by: Jennifer Rearick
Review Date: June 2018
Every year three college roommates, living completely different lives, get together for a vacation, to remember the good times and make new memories. Abby, the housewife, married to a professor named Sam, spends her time raising their twin boys Chris and Ryan. Lee is a preschool teacher and single mother to college student Lacey. Caroline, the extravagant one, living in New York with her boyfriend Javier, works for a magazine. This year their vacation will be a little bit different. Abby and Sam have invited everyone on an all-expenses paid cruise to Bermuda to celebrate their twentieth wedding anniversary. Everyone is excited and is ready for the cruise. Although the main reason is for Abby and Sam's anniversary, each family has their own hopes for the vacation.
Caroline is heading on this vacation hoping that her boyfriend Javier will propose. Caroline and Javier have been dating for three years. Although she isn't sure whether she wants children or not, she knows that she wants to take this next step with him. She doesn't want anything extravagant, just something small and simple, but she does want something that will bind them together forever. Before the cruise she left subtle hints and she has left little hints on the cruise as well. Although she hasn't told Javier about it, she does plan on giving him an ultimatum, either he proposes or they move on. As the cruise continues, and still no proposal, Caroline's concern continues to grow about where her relationship will go from here.
Lee is hoping that the cruise will help get her daughter back. Being a single mother to Lacey, they have always been close. When Lacey went off to college, so far away from home, they began to grow apart. It has gotten to the point where Lee feels like she doesn't even know her daughter at all. When Lacey comes home for the summer and they are both surprised with the cruise, Lee thinks it will be the perfect trip for them to reconnect. Lacey, excited to get away, has a huge secret that she must share. Although she is nervous about talking to Lee, since it could change their lives forever, she has to come clean to her mother.
For Sam and Abby, the whole reason for this cruise is to bring together their friends and family and have a vow renewal for their twentieth wedding anniversary. With their sixteen-year-old twins Chris and Ryan off enjoying the activities on the cruise, Sam and Abby are enjoying their time lounging by the pool and spending time with their friends. Although everyone thinks that they are here for a vow renewal, Sam and Abby also have news of their own that they have to share with everyone. Not wanting to spoil the renewal, they decided to tell everyone after the renewal. Since the vow renewal isn't until the middle of the week, Abby has to try to act normal, so no one catches on.
As the vow renewal gets closer, no one has shared their secrets. With three families and three completely different secrets, each affecting the others, they must come clean since it will change their lives.
The Summer Sail was the perfect summer read. It was very detailed so it made me feel like I was on the cruise as well. It was like a true family book where I could relate to each person and the secret they kept. The reader will start out knowing Caroline's secret of wanting a proposal, but it leads you on because you're constantly wondering how she will break this ultimatum to Javier. With Lacey, you learn her secret later, but knowing what her mother went through, you again are led on with wondering if it is true or not and how will she break this to Lee. Finally, with Abby's secret, the book leads you on with multiple ideas of what her secret is but ties it all in at the end.  It was a great book that anyone can relate to.
Quill says: If you're looking for a great summer read, this book is for you.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

#BookReview - The Griffin's Feather

The Griffin's Feather (Dragon Rider #2)

By: Cornelia Funke
Illustrated By: Cornelia Funke
Publisher: Chicken House
Publication Date: July 2018
ISBN: 978-1-338-21553-3
Reviewed By: Kristi Eldridge
Review Date: June 1, 2018
In Cornelia Funke's first book in "The Dragon Rider" series, she introduced the beautiful silver dragon Firedrake. This fascinating dragon goes on a quest to find a safe home for the herd of dragons he has lived with, as humans were infringing on their home. Accompanying him on his journey was a brownie named Sorrel, a unique furry cat-like creature, and a human boy named Ben who becomes Firedrake’s dragon rider. Together they find the mythical place called The Rim of Heaven, a place thought to not exist. However, through their unrelenting friendship they find The Rim of Heaven, which will become the home for the dragons. They also manage to defeat the dragons' mortal enemy, a fierce golden dragon named Nettelbrand.
Now, Firedrake and Ben are faced with another challenge, to help save the lives of Pegasus foals, the last ones known to be on this Earth. However, Pegasus' eggs are extremely delicate and these young foals had unfortunately lost their mother. It was her care that would help the eggs to grow, but now without her Ben and Firedrake have to find another way to help these foals. A family called the Greenblooms, who had helped them search for and find The Rim of Heaven, come to their aid once again to find a solution.
After all of their research they find only one remedy, to use the golden feather of a griffin, as these feathers have the unique ability to make the Pegasus eggs grow, and in turn save the lives of the foals. Unfortunately, griffins are really not at all friendly animals, and they have a particular hatred for Pegasus in particular. They fancy themselves as the ultimate master's of the sky, so they do not take kindly to any other winged creature flying in what they deem as their territory. Of course, this presents another obstacle as Firedrake is a winged creature as well, so the griffins may have double the reason not to help them. No matter what, however, Firedrake and the others must try, or risk losing the species of Pegasus forever.
This story has so many wonderful characters that are perfect for a pre-teen book. From the mighty dragon, to a mouse that pilots her own plane, this book is filled with characters that fill the imagination. I loved being surprised in every chapter as Ben and Firedrake would meet someone new and author Cornelia Funke would then expertly weave a unique background for each of them, creating a fantastic series.
Quill says: A fantastic read and I can't wait for the next installment.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

#AuthorInterview with Reilly DeVie for Author Daniela Bronzy

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Reilly DeVie, representing author Daniela Bronzy, author of Roots, Rumors & Wrath.
FQ: Mr. DeVie, can you speak to readers about how and when you met Daniela Bronzy and what your first impressions were of this obviously creative individual?
DeVIE: The story of meeting Ms. Bronzy or ‘Dee,’ is one of my favorites to tell. At the tail of the 90’s there was really only one art store in Boise. I was hanging flyers advertising the start of my furniture and metal business while she was picking up supplies before returning home to her residence two hours north of Boise. She happened to be accompanied by a priest that I had known and we began talking. This would all come out later on in the story of her life, but she had rethought the idea of the novel by including imagined products integral into the manuscript and then physically producing those products to be available to readers. I am guessing at this time she had already written her first novel, roots, rumors & wrath and she was looking for someone capable of realizing her ideas. She ended up asking me if I could figure out how to make an Ida-Hoe, which was a garden hoe in the shape of our state of Idaho.
I didn’t know what to think about her when we first met. Later in my mind she would became a grandmotherly figure and memories of her have become intermixed with my real grandmother, even in appearance.
FQ: When did you receive Ms. Bronzy’s work, and what made you take on the task of getting her words out to the public?
DeVIE: Our story takes a turn in March of 2017 when I received a box from a lawyer’s office in McCall, Idaho. When I talk about Dee and this story of our relationship, it almost seems implausible. Our relationship was mostly through phone calls and an occasional visit to her home. I would not say we were close, but that it is my opinion. In her mind perhaps we were closer than I realized. Why else would she send me the box?. I did not know she was a writer. I just knew she had a vivid imagination. We never spoke about her writing. The box from the lawyers held several unpublished manuscripts and a half dozen illustrated children’s books in various levels of completion. I still do not know why she sent them to me. Together we had made prototypes of several of her ideas and we had several fun conversations both in person and over the phone, but I didn’t think we were that particularly close. But you just never know what kind of influence you have on someone’s life when you take the time to get to know someone. I just wish I would have spent more time with her. There are several unanswered questions.
I have spent the last year getting the first novel of hers ready for publication. There is a lot to putting a book together, but the experience has been both cathartic and incredibly satisfying. I am working on her second novel now which will be released in October and the first of her children’s book should be out for Christmas. The coolest thing is people are reading her words that no one knew even existed and really enjoying them. I just wish she could have been at her book launch. We donated the funds generated that night to a local charity, The Learning Lab, and sold out of books. I think she would have really loved that.
FQ: Can you tell us a little about your own creative talents? It is said that you are an artist, a welder, and actually created something for Ms. Bronzy?
DeVIE: I don’t know about talent, but I enjoy being creative. I think the secret to Dee and I’s success together is that while they were most certainly her ideas, she gave me creative license in making them. It was a nice partnership. Before I ever knew she was writing, we made several of her products come to life. A few were introduced in the first novel, and there are many to come in the proceeding releases as well. Because of her, I have had a chance to hone my welding and wood working skills as well as step out of my box and enter the world of technology. Bringing her worlds that she created to life and hearing how people have enjoyed reading them has been especially great. To better get her name out there, I have been attending book clubs that have read her first book roots, rumors & wrath and being part of the discussion. I take with me book themed snacks and drinks and several of her products and spend the evening discussing Dee’s ideas. It is a thrill. And I have learned a lot about the book from these discussions.
FQ: Tell us a bit about the next book by Ms. Bronzy that you are looking at publishing? What the plot/characters are all about?
DeVIE: Dee left notes behind. Not written to me, but I think to herself. She saw the writing process as a potential business. A means of making money. She had researched the most popular genres of novels and she found thrillers and continuing character development throughout multiple novels as the key to creating followers and financial success. All of her novels exchange characters but are ‘stand alone’ books as well and can be enjoyed without reading the preceding releases, but in reading the others, you delve deeper into the characters. The next novel, signs, sushi & psyche continues to follow several of the characters as well as introducing a few new faces. It is several years later and world is following the launching of a land train capable of incredible speeds. We follow the characters lives as they are brought on board and are challenged with solving several mysteries at once which in Dee’s style somehow brings them all together at the end tying together all the loose ends. There is a bank robbery, drug dealers, plagues; characters deal with dementia, fist fights, parenting, bad decisions, and love. There are political and social commentaries that challenge our ideals and there are new ideas that have you visiting her website (www.danielabronzy.com) to see if the ideas really exist.
FQ: It was stated on the back of the book in the bio that Ms. Bronzy also penned children’s books. Can you tell us about those projects and whether or not you will be looking to publish them as well?
DeVIE: So besides writing novels, Ms. Bronzy illustrated and wrote several children’s books. They are each in different stages of completion. Some were simply sketched out, others were colored and ready to be scanned and formatted. I have decided to release them over the course of several years. For one, it gives me the chance to get them ready for publication while still continuing to pursue other projects. And second, I want her name to become known and slowly releasing her works over the course of time, building her reputation and brand recognition, will keep her in the zeitgeist and hopefully expand her readership.
FQ: Are you, yourself, interested in becoming a writer after all the work you have done in the industry bringing these books to fruition?
DeVIE: Having an idea is the easy part. Putting the idea on paper and building characters and formulating a plot and executing a climax is beyond me. My job is to help Dee realize her dreams of getting her books in front of people. While perhaps we all have the desire to write a book, I do not possess that ability. I think just brining Dee’s work to life will take me the better part of a decade to accomplish. And taking it slow has made it possible for me to really enjoy the whole process. No extreme time pressures. Of course if a big name publisher came to me with an offer of purchasing the rights to her remaining works, I would consider it, but it would be tough decision. The whole goal is to get her books in front of people and a big publisher would most definitely broaden her readership.
FQ: Do you feel, personally, that any of the characters in this book were based on real people that affected Ms. Bronzy’s life? If so, who would that be?
DeVIE: The question of who her characters are based on is one that comes up at every book club. The priest I am fairly certain is the same priest I knew. The hardware store I think is based on the store that first sold the Ida-Hoe and still does. The rest, if only we knew. I hope as readership grows, people will come forward with stories and theories of just who these characters might be. They may be no one and just products of her imagination.
FQ: If Ms. Bronzy were still with us, what do you think she would say about this book and your incredible passion as a friend to see it through to the end?
DeVIE: If Dee was able to hear what people thought of her book, if she was able to see her book on shelves, well I know I am thrilled, so I think she would feel the same. My only hesitation to guess is perhaps she didn’t want to know and this is why she sent me the box after she was gone. The subjective world of art or anything creative and our social media’s current love of cruelness, perhaps she didn’t want to endure criticism. I know that a dozen kind remarks or reviews are often erased with one negative. Perhaps she was happy with just the process itself. The cathartic release of creativeness?
FQ: Is there one thing you would like all readers to know and remember about Ms. Bronzy?
DeVIE: If Daniela Bronzy is remembered for anything, it will be her written words, her products, her ideas, her social commentaries. The story of Daniela Bronzy will continue because of our relationship. Her story will continue to grow long after her obituary was published, and I am glad that I can help that happen.