Tuesday, May 14, 2024

 #Bookreview of Sunny Gale by Jamie Lisa Forbes

Sunny Gale
By: Jamie Lisa Forbes
Publisher: Pronghorn Press
Publication Date: May 30, 2024
ISBN: 978-1-941052-72-3
Reviewed by: Kathy Stickles
Review Date: March 12, 2024
Sunny Gale is a wonderful book by author Jamie Lisa Forbes that follows the life of Hannah Brandt, a woman who loves horses and, despite every obstacle thrown in her path, continues to fight to have a successful career in rodeo.
Hannah Brandt, who, at the beginning of the story, is living a very hard life in Nebraska, is not truly happy. Her mother and stepfather have brought the family to a desolate place, hoping to create a better life for themselves. Hannah is not one for this hard life and spends her days working the farm and dreaming of something bigger and better. When she finds a horse roaming the countryside, her love for these animals and her desire to have one of her own changes the way she looks at life. This horse, that she names Zephira, will alter the course of Hannah’s life.
Against her mother’s wishes, Hannah turns her love of horses into a stunning career as she transforms from a sad and unwilling farm girl into a very accomplished rider. After participating in the very first rodeo in Cheyanne in the late 1800s, Hannah changes her name to Sunny Gale and moves her focus to bronco riding, hoping to become the first woman to be successful in this male-dominated sport. The story also takes the reader on a wild ride through this woman’s life, including her marriages, her children, and her budding career filled with numerous successes and many terrifying and heartbreaking dangers.

Sunny Gale is a wonderfully written story that is filled with action and wonderful family moments along the way as well as historical accuracy of the time period. Sunny is a very strong and interesting protagonist and shows that strength throughout the story in the losses that she suffers and her ability and determination to never give up on her dreams. This author has presented readers with an excellent main character and so many secondary characters who are just as well-developed and important to the story. Even those characters who the reader may dislike are extremely well-written and have a place in this story. The dialogue is excellent, and the descriptive writing makes one feel that they are really in the wilderness trying to survive or in the rodeo ring trying to win, right alongside Sunny and the others.
Sunny Gale is exciting, well-written and developed, and will make the reader laugh and cry throughout. While this is the first book that I have read by this author, it will definitely not be the last. I was extremely impressed with the whole story and cannot wait to see what else is out there for my reading pleasure. I would highly recommend the story to all.
Quill says: Sunny Gale is a wonderful example of a story that will pull readers into a new world, in this case, one of rodeo riding and the entrance of women into the sport. With its wonderfully descriptive writing and historical accuracy, I am sure that it will be a great success and of interest to many.
For more information on Sunny Gale, please visit the author's website at: www.jamielisaforbes.com

 #AuthorInterview with James Robinson, Jr.

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Diane Lunsford is talking with James Robinson, Jr., author of Death of a Shrinking Violet: Nice Guys Finish First.
FQ: I’m not sure how I’ve gotten this far in life without the pleasure of reading one of your books. Thank you for the opportunity to chat today. You have a wonderfully witty way of writing infectious satire, and I have to ask, of the many titles you’ve written, which one was your personal favorite to pen (and why)?
ROBINSON: You are so kind. I’m not sure how I’ve gotten this far in life without someone like you reading one of my books. Of course, I paid you to read it. I was tempted to say, “I bet you say that to all the boys,” but I resisted. I hate to say it but…family is the worst. I told a cousin of mine that I had just written a book and that he was mentioned in it. I took the time to mail the book to him because, you know, he liked the feeling of a book in his hands. I never heard from him again. Oh well.
I have written 3 books of fiction and 6 books of non-fiction including one book about my father who was somewhat of a famous man here in Pittsburgh. My last book of 25 essays entitled, I Injured My Foot Doing the Mashed Potato: I Should Have Stuck With the Twist, was probably my favorite book because some of the essays still give me a chuckle. Yes, I laugh and I wrote the book. Isn’t it a bit strange to giggle at your own humor? Kind of like taking a step back and admiring your own artwork.
Anyway, one essay, entitled “Poker Night,” is one of my favorites despite that fact that it is probably considered extremely dark humor. I may be the only one who likes it. In the piece, its poker night in the depths of hell and Charles Manson and Ted Bundy are running the game. Adolph Hitler as one might expect, is cheating, continuing to be caught with 5 aces. However, the Fuhrer is getting karma bigtime. He is snatched up every hour or so by vengeful demons and hauled off to the gas chamber to be given a taste of his own medicine. Other evil entities such as John Wayne Gacy and Jack the Ripper are on hand. It’s humorous in a dark sort of way. I swear it is.
FQ: I enjoyed learning in your bio that your writing career began at age 45 when "…the Effects of Gravity kicked in…" Your humor drew me in immediately. Do you suppose much of your humor needed time to evolve and the magical age of ‘45’ was your moment to start capturing those ‘life experiences’ on the pages for many to read?
ROBINSON: Definitely. I tell everyone that I had to live to write the style material that I was destined write. I had to live and marry and have children and work alongside both kind and pain-in-the-butt employees. I wanted to be a writer when I was 22 but I was a babe in the woods in terms of experience.
FQ: In line with my previous question, if you were asked to write a book on "…one topic that requires some humor around it…" what would that topic be for you (and why)?
ROBINSON: I have two parents—one 94 and one 96—who live with my wife and I. Both suffer from dementia and, and my father suffers from a bad case of sundowners. You talk about someone who doesn’t know if it’s day or night, he’s one. My mother was having terrible bouts of anxiety until her geriatric physician prescribed the oft television advertised drug Cymbalta. Prior to the Cymbalta miracle, we were beginning to look around for nursing facilities, but the aforementioned Cymbalta performed miracles for her issues. So we decided to bring in home health care workers during daylight hours.
The costs are outrageous for either choice--$15,000 month for nursing facilities, $47.50/hr. for home health care. Getting old is expensive. Sure, I find myself changing my father’s soiled undergarments at bedtime but it’s a small price to pay.
FQ: Your take on Vampires was intriguing. I enjoyed your analogy toward "…somewhere along the line the modern vampire seems to have become hardwired to resist the power of the Church…" (pg. 123). It’s difficult for me to cite the plethora of examples you provide throughout your book with the sublime coaxing to think about what I just said… It is clear to me that you have a strong faith. Is there a time in your life when your faith was the saving grace to carry you through to a lighter time? If so, are you able to share that experience?
ROBINSON: During the last job I ever worked at age 58 (“remember, the only shrinking violet here is Jim Robinson”), I got so fed up with the job I simply quit, walked out the door without so much as an interview. Blasphemy! Such a thing was taboo when I was deeply entrenched in the work world. It was extremely difficult; I had always been told never to quit a job unless you had another job waiting and you had six months’ salary saved. I always figured if you said the words, “I need the money,” indicating that money is the only thing keeping you at that job, you’re screwed. But in this case, I stepped out on faith and trusted that God would lead me through it. (I wish God would help me sell more books.)

FQ: What is one of the most rewarding times you can recall on becoming a grandfather?
ROBINSON: As I said in the book, hearing them call me Pap is a rewarding experience. But one little thing I often relate to people is that it’s interesting to watch your grandchildren when they’re still young and they don’t know you from Adam and as they grow older and begin calling you by your new grandmother/grandfather elderly title. They don’t really get the connection at first but then they start to realize that their parents are at one level of the hierarchy then there’s these 2 older people above their parents who are really nice to you but you don’t see as often.
FQ: I thoroughly enjoyed reading your views on the many iconic movies you cited. How do you feel about movies that are being made today?
ROBINSON: I enjoy some of the movies being made today but it seems like they’re sequel driven with a few quality movies thrown in. And streaming has changed everything. I talk about Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s edition of A Star is Born in the next question, one of my modern-day watch overs. But my favorites now include several science fiction offerings. The Marvel movies: Avengers, Captain America, The Hulk, Iron Man, and their many sequels. The problem is, sequels abound and it’s profit driven. Movie moguls figure, “well that made money, let’s make another one.” I think we’re up to Scream VI and eight Friday the 13th , Jason movies. In the last one Jason took Manhattan. And there are now—are you ready for this—13 Jason inspired, Halloween films. When you make this many movies in the same genre they call it a “franchise”—like a grouping of hamburger restaurants.
FQ: In line with my previous question, why do you suppose Hollywood has this insistence to take old movies and reinvent them to fit today’s climate?
ROBINSON: Why not? Why not take an old movie like A Star is Born first made in 1937 with Frederick March, give it a fresh boat of paint, put Streisand in it and, unfortunately, Kris Kristofferson, and run it up the flagpole again in 1976. Unfortunately, that remake sucked.
But then in 2018, modernize again. Give Bradley Cooper a shot at acting and directing along with Lady Gaga. I’ve watched that one several times. The music and acting are much improved given almost 50 years of technology.
Prepare for the next version in 2075. I doubt if either one of us will be around for that one.
FQ: I spent more than thirty years in the ‘corporate arena’ and (finally) departed the madness three years ago. Now I do what I want to do and my days are devoted to working for a charitable organization that supports Veterans. I had to chuckle because I could relate when you described your ex-boss: "…was what most people would label as insecure. Insecurity—and its twin brothers envy and jealousy—is a terrible emotion to have to deal with when running amok, unchecked in one’s psyche…" (pg. 98) Do you think that type of personality equates to the young pup who was bullied one too many times growing up (and he/she finally gets to be the bully)?
ROBINSON: I don’t know if they become bullies, but it definitely has a profound effect on their psyche. Sometimes they never quite get over the trauma. This might be a bad example but on some of the old Maury Povich Shows (I talked about this in one of my essays) Maury would bring young woman on his show who was an unattractive girl in high school, bullied mercilessly by classmates—often by one bully in particular--but had transformed into a beautiful young woman in later years. As part of the he invited the tormenter to come onto the show to marvel at how the “ugly duckling” that he had tortured had turned into a beautiful swan.
Mostly, you could tell the bully hadn’t really changed much. You could tell he hadn’t made much of himself. Sadly, she may have had the last laugh but she carried the bully’s mean attacks around in her spirit all those years.
FQ: I could go on with many more questions, but I’ll leave it here. I want to thank you very much for the opportunity to read this treasure. My only hope is you are working on your next book and if so, could you share what we can expect next?
ROBINSON: A touchy subject. I started working on a 4th installment of the Johnson Family Chronicles, my fiction series, and I struggled mightily. I guess I got a little spoiled with the other three because, unbeknownst to me, they followed a certain formula. So I’ll be struggling with that and cobbling together more essays. Thank you very much for your kind words and for the interview. See you after the next book.

Friday, May 10, 2024

#bookreview of R&R: A Feast of Words by Maria Giuseppa

R&R: A Feast of Words
By: Maria Giuseppa
Publisher: Christopher Whisperings
Publication Date: May 10, 2024
ISBN: 979-8988464327
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: March 14, 2024
Debut author Maria Giuseppa has created a lengthy, languorous letter exchange between a man and a woman trapped in their separate lairs during the Covid era in R&R: A Feast of Words.
The two letter writers are of Italian descent, she named Rachelina and called Rachi by her correspondent, and he is Raffaele, whom she addresses as Raffi. The two have been acquaintances since their youth, he a close friend of her now deceased husband Matt, and she an observer of his several failed marriages. R and R write to each other often, beginning with conventional paper texts and later by email. In their communications it becomes readily apparent that they are closely aligned in thought and feeling, both revealing knowledge and understanding of the other that seems to surge past mere friendship. As close friends who need each other’s contact and approval, they have a further need – to express their moods both clearly and subtly through mutually recalled memories and current life interests. One such interest is their enjoyment of fine food; he is an experienced taster, and she is a well-acknowledged home-based chef. This commonality inspires him to suggest a collaboration on a recipe book, to which Rachi happily agrees. Then the idea takes a stronger hold, as they decide to travel together to Portugal and Italy to sample the foods whose flavors they so appreciate. Emailing allows for faster, tighter connection - but then comes news from Rachi that may make old resentments spoil their seemingly positive partnership.

Giuseppa is a native Italian who has made the United States her home for many years, pursuing various career paths and marriage to “an amazing man” with whom she has “three awesome children.” Looking back and meshing her own life experiences with those of her central characters in this lively letter exchange, she proves her talents as a wordsmith as well as her intellectual and empathic strengths as an artist who can look inside the people she depicts and bring their smallest proclivities and emotions to light. Readers will find themselves enwrapped in the plot lines that emerge as they absorb the perspectives of Rachi and Raffi, recalling too the rigors of the Covid restrictions and the introspection that it evinced for many stuck in limited lifestyles. Once the book’s climax has been reached – in the final email exchange – Giuseppa’s audience will be hoping for further novel works from this imaginative creator.
Quill says: The ins, outs, ups, and downs of a relationship are depicted with loving care by Maria Giuseppa in this epistolary portrait of two romantic souls discovering themselves in the words of each other.
For more information about R&R: A Feast of Words, please visit the author's website at: www.christopherwhisperings.com

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Kathy Stickles is talking with Larry and Rosemary Mild, authors of Kent and Katcha: Espionage, Spycraft, Romance.
FQ: First, I want to say that I really loved the story, and it was so much fun to read. Is this the first spy novel that you have worked on together, and what made you choose to go in this direction?
LARRY: Thank you! Yes, this is our first spy novel. It received a five-star review! We chose the spy novel genre because I had a bundle of anecdotal experience in this area. In my career as a design engineer for several prominent defense contractors, I came across contract managers who were former spies forced to come in from the cold. Because their faces were too well known to go back in the field, they had settled for desk jobs.
FQ: The details seemed to be right on and I am wondering how much time had to be spent doing research? Also, how difficult was it to get just the right tone and actions for all of the characters, not to mention the right tone for the countries and how their governments were run in this story?
LARRY: We spent quite a lot of time on the research: Russia’s geography; train, bus, and ship routes; Russian or Finnish names; ethnic foods; and an occasional word in both languages for flavoring. I’ve been reading the Washington Post every morning at the breakfast table for the last half-century, so I’ve gained a pretty good understanding of the political and cultural workings inside Russia. Also, there are stories about the dissidents almost daily.
ROSEMARY: I researched the weather in both countries and the clothes they’d be wearing; the cars in Russia and Finland in 1992; what the Helsinki harbor looked like back then; and some of the monuments they’d be noticing. But we take our cue from Elmore Leonard, author of Get Shorty. He warns, “Even if you’re good at descriptions, too much will bring the flow of the story to a standstill.” Instead, Larry and I concentrate on finding every character’s motivation. To arrive there, we must put ourselves in that character’s shoes and ask how we would react in a similar situation.
FQ: I personally thought that all of the characters were really well-developed and that made it so much more interesting to read. Are all of the characters created from your imaginations or is there anyone in the story that is based on someone you know?
LARRY: Thank you again. I’d like to think all our characters do come out of my head, although when I shop around for traits, qualities, and flaws I can’t guarantee they’re not composites of people I’ve met somewhere. Once I have my main characters I count on them to lead me through the plot.
ROSEMARY: In Locks and Cream Cheese, our first Paco & Molly Mystery, our main characters are based on real people—our only novel where they’re not imagined or composites. Larry patterned Detective Paco on a police inspector he met in Barcelona, Spain (when Larry was a field engineer for RCA). The wise Dr. Avi Kepple is based on my psychoanalyst father in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His housekeeper/cook became our lovable Molly. Even my father’s golden retriever plays a role, tackling a thug who steps in his dish of pot roast. In Copper and Goldie: 13 “Tails” of Mystery and Suspense in Hawaii, Larry makes use of a crucial personal trait. Ex-cop Sam Nahoe is disabled and becomes a private investigator. Larry gave him his own disability, requiring him to use two canes. Auntie Momi asks Sam, “You still walkin’ wit’ dem giant chopsticks?" And yes, we have another golden retriever, who partners with Sam to chase down the bad guys.
FQ: I know that you have written numerous other types of books (some of which are continuing characters in a series), and there are so many interesting characters in this book like Katcha’s parents and Kent’s father. I have to ask, at this point, if Kent and Katcha is just a one-time story or if there might be more adventures in store for the couple and the others in the book?
LARRY: I’m toying with a sequel to Kent and Katcha, tentatively titled, Kauai Spy. Four years have passed and Kent is a partner in a law firm in Honolulu, Hawaii. This time there’s a mole, an enemy spy in the ointment, and Kent is asked to investigate on the island of Kauai. I’ve only written six chapters so far, so we’ll see if the story goes the limit or not.
FQ: Are there any characters in the story that you are very partial to?
LARRY: Usually it’s the protagonist. In this case it’s both Kent and Katcha, because we devoted the most time and care to their development. Besides, we’ve cheered them all the way through the plot to the climax. But if you’re asking who we had the most fun developing, it’s our villains, Dmitri and Sasha. Pitting Katcha against Sasha was an exciting touch.
ROSEMARY: I agree. An author friend of ours said it best. “While I rooted for the good guys, I must admit that my favorite bad guy was Sasha. At least she went out on her own terms.”

FQ: Can you tell the reader about some of your other books/series for those of us out there, like myself, who have not read any of them but are definitely going to change that very quickly going forward?
LARRY: An out-of-work schoolteacher in 1936 takes you on the ride of your life in On the Rails: The Adventures of Boxcar Bertie (our other newest novel). A wily detective and a gourmet cook, who fractures the English language, solve the Paco & Molly mysteries in Locks and Cream Cheese, Hot Grudge Sunday, and Boston Scream Pie. An engineer and editor give up their careers to invest in the Olde Victorian Bookstore and solve the Dan & Rivka mysteries: Death Goes Postal, Death Takes a Mistress, Death Steals a Holy Book, and Death Rules the Night. Two generations of a Hawaiian family sizzle with their joys and harrowing experiences in Cry ‘Ohana: Adventure and Suspense in Hawaii and Honolulu Heat. We’ve also published four books of short stories: Murder, Fantasy and Weird Tales; Charlie and The Magic Jug; The Misadventures of Slim O. Wittz, Soft-Boiled Detective; and, as we mentioned, Copper and Goldie. I also published my autobiography, No Place To Be But Here, My Life and Times.
ROSEMARY: I also have my personal writing life: essays (many award-winning) and four memoirs. Miriam’s Gift and Miriam’s World and Mine are about our beloved daughter, Miriam Luby Wolfe, whom we lost in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988. My third memoir is Love! Laugh! Panic! Life With My Mother. My newest is In My Next Life I’ll Get It Right, essays and anecdotes—quirky observations on everyday life, from the hilarious to the serious. I’ve published three inspirational essays in the column “Chasing the Light,” in MidWeek, a Hawaii newspaper. And we’ve both published articles about our writing in Mystery Readers Journal International.
FQ: I wonder if you could explain a bit about how you write as a team (it seems very rare to me). Do each of you write particular characters in the story or collaborate and then one of you does the writing? How difficult is it to write together, and do you sometimes have differing opinions about what should happen?
LARRY: It’s not as rare as it seems. We’ve been on mystery-convention panels with other writing teams. A reporter once asked me, “How can a husband and wife write in the same room without creating real-life mayhem?” Well, we do! That starts with a solid marriage. How do we write together? We contribute in different ways working on the same chapters and the same characters. Rosemary believes I inherited a creative gene from my grandfather. The real reason is that I have the more devious mind, so naturally, I’m responsible for plotting—counterplotting, twists, turns, and the black art of the red herring. I also write the first drafts. As the plot requires new characters, I alone retain the divine right to create them.
ROSEMARY: Our second bedroom is our office, so squished that I’m always bumping into things. I’m practically sitting on Larry’s lap (yeah!). When he finishes his first draft, he hands it over to me. I approach it as if I’m carving a marble sculpture, molding flesh-and-blood characters, sharpening dialogue, adding scenes. I also streamline passages to pick up the pace and add suspense. I call it “judicious pruning,” an expression I learned as an assistant editor at Harper’s Magazine. Larry calls it “Slash and burn!” Then we calm down, massage each other’s egos, and come up with a version we’re both happy with.
LARRY: It’s during this process that our individual writing styles blend into a single seamless product. The best part of writing with your spouse is that we’re never working in a vacuum. We always have each other to bounce our ideas off. After we finish our final draft, we read the book aloud to each other. The typos and inconsistencies jump out at us. It’s so necessary to hear what we wrote, what it sounds like. We’re an Indie—Independent—Publisher. So I take the final step. I format the manuscript for print and e-book publication.
ROSEMARY: We’re lucky. We never have to ask ourselves, “Well, what’re we gonna to do today?” We have our “jobs.” It’s really cool! Writing together gives us daily structure—and the joy of seeing our books in print.
FQ: What do Larry and Rosemary do when they are not writing? Do you have any particular hobbies that you enjoy and spend a lot of time doing?
LARRY: Some years ago, my answer would have been tennis, swimming, and walking. Today at age ninety-one, I’m confined to a three-wheeled walker in our apartment, and two different wheelchairs when we go out. One is powered, so at least I can tool around a bit. We do New York Times crossword puzzles together at the kitchen table. I save time for reading my favorite authors. We attend meetings as members of Hawaii Fiction Writers and the National League of American Pen Women, and attend or Zoom weekly religious services. Best of all, we have the joy of family: two loving daughters, five adult grandchildren, and three precious little great-grandchildren. We spend delightful time with our Honolulu daughter and our granddaughter and grandson-in-law. The rest of our family is on the Mainland, on both East and West Coasts. If they can’t come to visit, we all do Facetime.
ROSEMARY: I’m eighty-eight, but that doesn’t stop me. I’ve been going to Jazzercise for forty-six years—since COVID via Zoom. It satisfies my suppressed desire to be a Rockette! I’m grateful that I can be Larry’s caregiver. We’re obsessive NFL fans. Go Commanders! (We used to live in Maryland.) We also like the Dolphins because their quarterback is Hawaiian. We watch other teams’ games, too. After the Super Bowl, we always go through withdrawal. Right now, as consolation, we make do with the United Football League D.C. Defenders.
FQ: Now that you have a spy novel under your belts… what comes next? Are you working on anything in particular right now that you would like to share with our readers?
LARRY: The Kent and Katcha sequel, Kauai Spy, is occupying much of my time. We have participated by invitation in five short story anthologies in the past. Currently, we have three mystery stories accepted for the upcoming Hawaii Fiction Writers’ anthology Lost in the Stacks and Other Library Stories. Maintaining and updating our website, www.magicile.com
, takes some of my time, too.
ROSEMARY: I’m having a great time working on The Moaning Lisa, our fourth Paco & Molly mystery. They discover strange and sinister happenings at the Next to Heaven Retirement Home.

Thursday, May 9, 2024


#AuthorInterview with Jeff Turner

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Katie Specht is talking with Jeff Turner, author of The Horseman Who Came From the Sea.
FQ: This is the third novel focusing on the story of Henry Cameron. Do you have more stories planned that will follow Henry’s adventures, or was The Horseman Who Came From the Sea the conclusion for Henry?
TURNER: I set out to craft a trilogy about Henry Cameron and planned on ending the series with The Horseman Who Came from the Sea. But Henry Cameron has created quite the stir among his readers. This, in turn, has caused me to pause as ponder my future writing plans. When we left Henry, he was still a young man and he’ll be experiencing many historic events as he gets older (e.g., prohibition, women’s suffrage, the Great Depression, World War II). Lots going on to write about, yes?
FQ: You taught for over 40 years at Mitchell College. What types of courses did you teach over the duration of your career there?
TURNER: I was trained in human development and family studies. I carried this training to Mitchell College and taught a variety of courses, from child and adolescent development to adulthood and aging. My favorites were courses focusing on counseling, family dynamics and crises, parenthood, and moral development.

FQ: Your recent novels include a focus on horses, both war horses and otherwise. It is obvious from your writing that you know a great deal about horses, including everything from breeds to how to care for them. Do you or have you ever personally owned horses yourself?
TURNER: My father was a horseman and taught me everything I know about horses. We owned two quarter horses and participated in lots of horse shows. Once I learned the ropes about routines and care, I saw to their daily needs, exercise, and grooming.
FQ: All of the Henry Cameron novels include a military component, with Henry and Mickey enrolling at Camp Dewey and the Lieutenant having served in the First World War. Do you have any military experience personally or within your family?
TURNER: I’ve never served in our armed forces but honor those who did. My father was a B-17 airman in World War II and served as a radio operator-gunner. His plane was shot down on a bombing mission. He was luckily rescued, although injured. I also had a grandfather who fought in the trenches in France during World War I, and a cousin who served with the 101st Airborne during the Vietnam War. Several distant relatives fought for the Union army during the Civil War, two in cavalry regiments.
FQ: You have published a book every two years since 2013, which is quite an impressive feat. What plans do you have for writing future novels?
TURNER: I’ve had success with a two-year cycle for some time now. When I finish a book, I’ll take a break from writing for a few months, then construct a rough outline and story board for my next novel. I devote a great deal of time mapping out a cast of characters, plots, subplots and what not. I’ll leave a trail of post-its everywhere. Of course, historical research is critical, such as knowing the time span that enveloped the life of Henry Cameron. All of this occupies that first year. The actual book is written during the second year, a time when I’ve finally gotten some words down on paper and feedback begins. Drafts are widely circulated, and this becomes a time when I receive objective remarks and ideas from my posse of readers. Then, a revised draft is sent to several professional critics. I’ve taken a few lumps from this gang, but nothing fatal. So far, I haven’t been run out of town. Yet.
FQ: You have published both academic textbooks as well as novels during your career. Which type of book would you say you prefer writing and why?
TURNER: No question, fiction is my preference. For my entire academic career, I taught and wrote books with an extremely gifted and talented co-author, a fellow named Don Helms. Together we wrote over two dozen popular psychology textbooks. The money was excellent but the pace and pressure exhausting. When Don passed away, I left academic publishing and began writing fiction. I never looked back.
FQ: I was intrigued by the down-to-earth nature of the characters, as well as the tone of the entire story of The Horseman Who Came From The Sea. It is not too often these days to find a book that has a genuine, feel-good quality about it. What prompted you to develop your characters and story in this way?
TURNER: There’s always some degree of friction and conflict in my works, but a protagonist always emerges and never wavers in his/her role as a crusader and defender. I believe the feel-good quality of my characters and the story line originate from the character traits I seek to embed along the way: kindness, forgiveness, compassion, and hope. I try to live my life according to such standards and embrace positivity. There’s too much hostility in the world today, a spate of bitter, unkind, and spiteful feelings toward one another. I’d like to be remembered as an author who sought to capture a feel-good quality in his stories and someone who offered readers different ways to erode negativity.
FQ: You have earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees at three different Connecticut universities. What field of study did you earn your degrees in?
TURNER: I hold an associate degree in liberal arts, a bachelor’s degree in communication, a master’s degree in counseling, and a doctoral degree in human development and family studies.
FQ: If you had to recommend just one of your books to someone who had never read any of your work, which book would it be and why?
TURNER: I’d recommend Lost Boys of the River Camp. Given the popularity of the Henry Cameron series, this book is where it all begins, including Henry’s arrival at Camp Dewey, his connection with Lieutenant Cooper, his budding friendship with Mickey, his romance with Lily, and why he felt such friction with his uncle. My gut tells me if you read this book, you’ll want to read the entire series.
FQ: Between your multitude of published textbooks along with six novels, you have had a very successful writing career to date. Can you share with your readers one of your favorite aspects of being an author, as well as one challenge that you have faced along your journey?
TURNER: One of my favorite parts of writing is when a newly published book arrives on my doorstep. You marvel at the feel of it, its heft, scent, and cover. Everything about it brings glee and a state of giddiness. I’m convinced most authors have similar reactions to a new book, and it would surprise me if they didn’t. After so many hours devoted to its completion, there’s nothing like holding your creation for the first time.
As far as a difficult challenge is concerned, I have lots of trouble mentally saying goodbye and letting go of my literary characters. I truly miss them when my time with them is over. But then there are characters like Henry Cameron, who keeps hanging around with those beautiful horses of his, itching to take part in an encore performance. You know they’re just hankering for an invite.

Sunday, May 5, 2024

#bookreview of Wyvern's Plague: From the Annals of Dorophin by A.K. Bryce

Wyvern's Plague: From the Annals of Dorohin

By: A.K. Bryce
Publisher: Bryce Novels
Publication Date: April 15, 2024
ISBN: 979-8989852505
Reviewed by: Lily Andrews
Review Date: May 2, 2024
A. K. Bryce's book Wyvern's Plague: From the Annals of Dorohin recounts the incredible tale of a fifteen-year-old girl named Iris who becomes the honorable Lady of Sagesse after being a thief on the streets and after surviving a dreadful plague.
The plot centers on the interactions of ten clans on the island of Dorohin: Dragon, Ryu, Wyvern, Quetzalcoatl, Amphithere, Cockatrice, Drake, Lindwurm, Hydra, and Wyrm. The main character, Iris, is an outsider who comes from a lower clan and who gets entangled in the fallout from the decision that resulted in her pregnancy. One of the story's central plot points is a fierce conflict between the ruling clan and a clan that claims the emperor's throne. The main adversary is skillfully portrayed by the author as Ryu, the Dragon's fiercest adversary, who will do anything to cut short the life of anyone who stands in his way, including the fifteen-year-old protagonist. As further details emerge about the vicious rivalry and the desire for retribution for a mistake the protagonist is innocent of, the seductive proposition she is offered is a moment that will undoubtedly spark many readers' imaginations.
Iris's only ally is her blade, which she wields in the city of Sern to hack open the pockets and purses of unsuspecting people. One unfortunate occurrence includes her robbing a stranger of a diamond ring, which leads to her being apprehended by a guard and imprisoned. She spends several weeks being held in the cells until a strange woman from Sagesse named Wakana arrives one day to free her. However, before securing her freedom, Wakana offers an unexpected proposition that totally perplexes Iris.
Elsewhere, Lord Senbi of Sagesse urgently wants to resolve a succession issue. His wife recently passed away, leaving him childless, but remarrying is out of the question due to the urgency of the circumstances. Sagesse is a strategically important territory, and the absence of a successor complicates matters. He is a Wyvern Lord, and therefore only a Wyvern is suitable to succeed him, which brings Iris into the picture.
Iris, like her mother, was descended from Cockatrice, but she had no idea of her father's background. Her freshly found savior, Wakana, however, asserts that she is a Wyvern descendant. She further offers that, in exchange for her much-needed freedom, Iris must accept being taken to Sagesse under the guise of Lord Senbi's unknown daughter, and therefore, the rightful heir to the Sagesse region. With her experience rendered unimportant and her acceptance the only requirement, Iris wonders if this is just a pipe dream. However, the truth of her father's background, the true reason she was chosen, and the potential consequences if she is discovered are still unknown to her as she makes this difficult decision.
This is a story with a lot of high emotional peaks and relatively few flat spots. It is impossible to forget the characters' remarkable transformations, mind dialogues, and striking appearances. The world-building is incredible, and the rags-to-riches storyline has been executed flawlessly. A thorough introduction is included at the beginning of each chapter to help draw in and hold the reader's interest. This is a fantastic writing concept that also provides a summary of the chapters' key points.
Quill says: Wyvern's Plague: From the Annals of Dorohin by A. K. Bryce will immerse you in a sultry and enticing new universe with a cast of compelling new characters who will seduce you and make you want to stay a while. It has all the best elements of science fiction, including adventure, suspense, action, mystery and—most importantly—dragons! Choose this book to marvel at one of the most captivating dragon tales ever penned!
For more information on Wyvern's Plague: From the Annals of Dorohin, please visit the author's website at :https://www.brycenovels.com/

#bookreview of Quiet Quit and Fully Live by Matthew Hess

Quiet Quit & Fully Live: Take Back Your Time, Energy, and Life Through Ethical Disengagement

By: Matthew Hess
Publisher: Pebbity Books
Publication Date: May 9, 2024
ISBN: 979-8-89403-000-5
Reviewed by: Diana Coyle
Review Date: May 1, 2024
The work-life balance is just a dream for many workers, but learning to say “no” to extra work doesn’t have to be a death sentence. In Quiet Quit & Fully Live: Take Back Your Time, Energy, and Life Through Ethical Disengagement by Matthew Hess, achieving the coveted work-life balance is thoroughly explored.
Quiet quitting is a term that many people may not know. A quiet quitter is someone who holds firm to the boundaries he sets of what he will and will not do in his work or personal life. They know when to say “no” to someone asking them to take on more tasks than they should be doing. These people shouldn’t be considered lazy or not team players, but instead they should be seen as individuals who have clear goals and boundaries set for themselves and want a balanced life at work and home.
All people have unique stories and face unique challenges in their lives. That means that one person may have to adjust his quiet quit game plan a bit differently than another might need to, but nonetheless, once you set your goals and boundaries, you can start following the steps to achieving a work-life balance. As you’re sitting down planning what your new goals and boundaries will be, you must keep in mind that it is important to understand that successful quiet quitting should always include you continually performing the minimum job tasks that is required for your position, while always completing these tasks at a satisfactory level, as stated by Hess. If you are fully committed to achieving these necessary prerequisites, then you are properly prepared to plan your quiet quitting game plan.
A major issue for everyone is stress and all the negative consequences that it may cause. We all face stress somewhere in our lives, some even in multiple areas of their lives. Long term stress can lead not only to burnout, but also to many health issues down the road. Stress has such a negative impact on your brain, and you need to be aware of what your body is telling you. You need to act and prevent any future issues and by quiet quitting, you are on the road to helping yourself heal and making healthy adjustments to your work-life balance.
The author offers an abundant amount of suggestions and advice to help in your quiet quitting journey, advice that is helpful and interesting. He provides ideas that you can apply to all aspects of your life, no matter whether you are working or not. It's interesting to note that you can be retired and still incorporate these valuable techniques in your personal life. Quiet Quit and Fully Live is one book that all readers can adapt to their own lives no matter what stage of life they are currently experiencing.
Quill says: Quiet Quit & Fully Live: Take Back Your Time, Energy, and Life Through Ethical Disengagement is an excellent read for anyone considering an adjustment to their life to find a healthier work-life balance. It is highly recommended by this reviewer!