Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Reviewer's Tip - How NOT to Impress Reviewers

Like any good review site, Feathered Quill is inundated with requests for reviews on a daily basis.  Instead of writing about something you should do, I thought I'd be different today and write about what NOT to do.  When sending a query/press release to a review site, you've got just seconds to impress before I go on to the next query.  Here are actual opening lines from queries (they didn't work/we did not request review copies):

  • Hey how are you, I hope you had an amazing Thanksgiving...
  • PLEASE CONSIDER OUR BOOK FOR REVIEW (my comment - why are you yelling at me?)
  • Hi there, How are you?
  • Attention please
  • [Name Removed] here from [Name Removed] Publishing. Just following up on the previous emails we sent you regarding our newest title... (my comment - nope, you never sent any other emails - this is a common tactic to make - hopefully - reviewers think they've had previous conversations with the publicist)
  • Another common ploy - sending the same query to every single reviewer listed on the review site, all sent to the same email address.  Do you really think I'm going to forward each and every email?
I do want to read a short, succinct email/press release telling me why readers will want to learn about your book.  I want to see cover artwork (a small jpg inserted into the press release is fine) and I want to know the publication date, publisher, page length, and a little about the author.  That's it.  A link to a page on your website where there is further information is fine but only as additional information.  If I'm curious and considering the book, I may follow the link to learn more.  If, however, you simply send an email with a link and a "check out my new book," email, you've lost me.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Author Interview with Bob Brink

Today we're talking with Bob Brink, author of Breaking Out

FQ: At a fairly young age, Britt, the protagonist in Breaking Out, is labeled the “black sheep of the family” for what most would consider innocent, childish behavior. Later his teenage angst, which offended his “parents’ religious piety,” led to incarceration in a mental facility. It’s obvious you have studied why young people might end up is such situations with a misdiagnosis. Was this a common occurrence in the 1960s and if so, can you give us your thoughts on the subject?

As with all novelists, I wasn't drawing on a blank slate. There was a background on which I expanded and created, so that Britt's misdiagnosis may not have been a common occurrence. Britt presented a puzzle to the psychiatrist who admitted him to the sanitarium, in that he didn't hear voices and wasn't delusional, salient symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. But he was agonizingly self-conscious and sensitive, with regard to both his own feelings and those of others. So the psychiatrist made a snap judgment that Britt was schizophrenic. The medical profession operated in a manner similar to the judicial system: It relied on precedent. The misdiagnosis was forwarded to psychiatrists in the next hospital, who, reluctant to question their peers, propagated the mistake. There probably is no way of knowing how often this kind of thing occurred.

FQ: The Rutgerses were apparently descended from a long line of Calvinists, a group whose theological beliefs apparently hung a continual cloud of “irrational feelings of guilt and shame” over Britt’s head. Can you describe your reasoning for selecting this type of socio-familial background for Britt?

Again, I wasn't drawing on a blank slate. I was familiar with this background.

FQ: Britt and many of his other peers in the hospital lived in fear of electroconvulsive shock therapy (ECT). What made you interested in learning about this process and what types of material did you read before writing about it? In between the lines we read of injuries and learn of the mysterious “disappearance” of a fellow patient.

In college in the early 1960s, I considered a psychology major and took a course in abnormal psychology. Watching an old filming of a prefrontal lobotomy performed on a patient, and then one of a shock treatment, the patient convulsing violently, I was appalled. Though I pursued a career in journalism, through the years my eyes were alert to stories by investigative journalists of patients who had undergone shock treatments, and I discovered that some were rendered unable to perform such skills as playing the piano with as few as 10 or 15 ECTs. Broken bones or vertebrae were another side effect for some patients. And what seems incredible is that psychiatrists admitted they didn't know how the shock treatments worked. Furthermore, despite the abundant accumulation of analytical and anecdotal data to the contrary, they insisted, and still insist, that ECTs don't cause brain damage. ECTs are administered differently these days, but some ECT opponents, notably psychiatrist/author Peter Breggin, still condemn their use as barbaric and harmful.

FQ: After several treatments with ECT, Britt’s painful memories of the incident at the bowling alley had disappeared from his memory. At the time he “broke down sobbing” as he was devastated that his friends had hidden his shoes. Much later he discussed that night with Professor Bregman. Does “shock therapy” wipe out some memories in their entirety or just suppress them for a time? Did this therapy actually damage the brains of those who received many treatments?

Most of the memories eliminated by shock treatments return later, but not all. Each patient is different. Some lose their memories of periods up to several years. For some, as with Britt, their memory tends to be scattershot for the rest of their lives. And, as I already noted, some people have reported permanent loss of ability to perform tasks that they previously executed with aplomb.

FQ: Britt was oblivious to the fact that once he had stepped over the threshold of a mental institution he would be forever branded. It was a stigma that he would unfortunately carry for the rest of his life because of a mistaken diagnosis of schizophrenia. Society now claims that mental illness is no different from any other physical illness. This obviously does not ring quite true. Have we really come very far in our view of the mentally ill since the 1950s and 1960s?

I think there has been a greater openness about mental illness since those dark days of the '50s and '60s. For a time, it even seemed to have become something of a status symbol among intellectuals and artists, especially movie stars, to undergo psychoanalysis, which they would banter about at cocktail parties. A number of prominent persons helped remove the curtain of shame by revealing they had undergone shock treatments: Dick Cavett, Kitty Dukakis, Ernest Hemingway, Carrie Fisher, and many others. A host of luminaries have admitted suffering serious bouts of depression, and Mike Wallace confessed to being nearly paralyzed with it. Nonetheless, I think it will always be regarded differently from physical illness and carry a stigma.

FQ: As a journalist you most likely have written about many diverse topics. What in particular drew you to the fictitious town of Mayfield in Midwest Iowa, a town the Calvinist Christian family, the Rutgers, had settled in?

I happen to have grown up in the Midwest, and the religion also was part of my background.

FQ: The background stories of both Miriam and Milton Rutgers were fascinating and give the reader a lot of insight as to why Britt experienced so many problems with his peers and with his parents. This book could easily be the first in a series, but most authors prefer to delve into another topic. Can you give us a hint as to what you are working on now?

I actually did consider writing a novel based on one of the characters in Milton Rutgers' background. However, the opportunity to write an entirely different kind of novel was more pressing because of a time element involved. In 2001, while working for a magazine, I inadvertently discovered shocking information about the 1976 murder of a prominent Palm Beach man, the most sensational murder in the town's history. What makes it especially stunning is the alleged involvement of a very high-ranking national politician at the time. I don't have proof of that, however, so I am writing a roman à clef. I have just finished the first chapter.

To learn more about Breaking Out please visit our website and read the review at:Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

What's Next? Robot Writers???

Check out this NYTimes article about the future of sports writing.  It's not the sort of thing I want to read!

NYTimes Article

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Author Interview with Jill Shure

Today we're talking with Jill Shure, author of A Clause for Murder.

FQ: Courtney Farrow is one of those women who every woman loves to hate, but secretly would enjoy having all the attention thrown her way. Did you pattern her character over someone you know? No names please!

Courtney is an amalgam of narcissistic women I've known. But basically, she's an exaggeration because it makes her outrageously annoying and funny.

FQ: Lisa, Arlene, and Tabitha felt a tad ghoulish when Aunt Perdith gave them the go sign to clean out Courtney’s condo. If you were there and all kinds of designer clothes galore were available to you, what would you choose? Burberry, Dior, Prada, Georgia Armani, Kate Spade?

Wow! I suppose I'd go for the Dior and Prada. But I'm not someone who worships designer goods. Although I love fine purses. But I'd behave more like Betsy did under the circumstances. I'd probably feel weird about going through a dead girl's things.

FQ: Betsy had a marvelous sense of humor that emanated from the pages of this book. Even the name of the insurance agency she worked for, “Aloss,” will elicit a few chuckles. You do have a little twinkle in your eye. Tell us about your own sense of humor.

I believe that laughter and a good smile can help us through the toughest times. And it's the most gratifying thing in the world to know that I made someone laugh and feel good.

FQ: A Clause for Murder has all the elements people love in cozy mysteries. Was it an easy task to write this mystery or did you have to “study” the work of other authors? If so, which ones?

I guess I've always been a good reader, so maybe I've been studying my whole life. I like all good books, including mysteries, so I can't say I studied any specific writer's work. I just had the idea and managed to make it work.

FQ: Speaking of authors, if you were browsing the shelves of your local bookstore, which genres would you make a beeline for?

I love mainstream fiction, thrillers, mysteries, and historical romances. I'm a huge fan of Nelson DeMille, who writes fast-paced novels which always intrigue me and often make me laugh.

FQ: Dr. Spunkhoffer claimed Courney’s “honey exterior hid the morals of a dangerous sociopath.” She was an intensely complicated, interesting character. How were you seamlessly able to integrate her hidden lives into this book without giving away too much? The clues were there, but I for one missed many of them!

Hard work, lots of luck, and a character with a past she felt ashamed of. In a world where image is so important, Courtney Farrow just took it to the next level by creating a fantasy others could believe, because she seemed to have all the things money can buy.

FQ: Several of your characters were very appealing and some of them downright hilarious like Consuela Alma Tranquillo, the wronged wife set on revenge. Will we be seeing the likes of her in the follow up to A Clause for Murder? Mmmm, perhaps I should ask if there will be a follow up!

I am working on the next book in the series. No easy thing because I want it to have similar elements yet be very different.

FQ: Success seems to be coming you way these days. You released two other books this year in addition to A Clause for Murder: Night Caps, Night Glitter, the sequel to the award winning, Night Jazz. You must be very pleased with your accomplishments. Tell us a bit about these books and your plans for the future.

I wish I could say I feel accomplished. But I need to enjoy the work and sell plenty of books. Writing requires so much time and isolation. And some days are more productive than others. So I work and work and then I finally get results which please me. But every book is a unique challenge.

To learn more about A Clause for Murder please visit our website and read the review at:Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted

Hope everybody had a WONDERFUL Turkey Day! Here's our list of new books for this week. Check them out and then return soon to read the reviews.

Death by Wall Street: Rampage of the Bulls, a murder mystery, is based on real events. It is the story of how the oligarchs of Wall Street, doctors and others in the pharmaceutical research profession having significant conflicts of interest, and employees of two 'captured' US government agencies-the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-by design as well as by simply refusing to pursue the evidence of malfeasance provided to them, deny patients life saving treatments that are demonstrated safe and effective in FDA-approved drug trials. When the severed head of a Wall Street stock analyst turns up spiked on a horn of the Wall Street Bull, Detective Louis Martelli of the NYPD is assigned to track down the murderer. But why were this victim and the victims of two similar murders that followed singled out for execution? Martelli eventually learns the answer to this question and tracks down the killer, but not before uncovering some of Wall Street's and the US government's darkest secrets pertaining to the US financial markets and the nation's health care practices.

End Game: Irrational Acts, Tragic Consequences, is Book III of the Antarctic Murders Trilogy. In many ways, it brings to an end three things: the sagas of Captain Roberto Muñoz of the Lientur, the hunt for the millions of dollars in U.S. and British cash, negotiable securities, gold coins, and jewelry stolen from the Banco Central de Chile following the Chilean Earthquake of May, 1960, and the murders that followed the robbery. Book I: Frozen in Time: Murder at the Bottom of the World, introduced American scientists Ted Stone and Grant Morris, who, while performing geological and geophysical field work with the assistance of Captain Roberto Muñoz of the Chilean auxiliary tug Lientur, were caught up in the hunt for the robbers and the spoils from the robbery, and murder. Unfinished Business: Pursuit of an Antarctic Killer, introduced Captain Mateo Valderas and Lieutenant-Commander Antonio Del Río of the Chilean Navy's Office of Internal Affairs. Initially assigned to solve a murder in Arica, they soon found themselves facing perhaps the most vicious, cunning thief and murderer they ever encountered. The return of American scientists Ted Stone and Grant Morris to Santiago for the purpose of helping personnel of the University of Chile prepare for the 20th Chilean Expedition to the Antarctic, beginning in December 1965, jeopardizes the lives of both scientists. What irrational acts will elicit the tragic consequences that finally bring everything to an end? For the answer, read Book III: End Game: Irrational Acts, Tragic Consequences.

The Bialien Trilogy A New Sci-fi, Space, Action, Adventure and Romance novel. Bialien - Where fiction, science, religion and technology collide. Some of the topics bialien covers are: Dark energy, dark matter, exotic matter, nanotechnology, future green energy saving technologies, plasma fusion, string theory, quantum mechanics, future relationships, space exploring, UFO theories, future government weapons, gravity manipulating and human body evolving. Evolve your Imagination to the Bialien trilogy.

Hollywood Stories: Short, Entertaining Anecdotes About the Stars and Legends of the Movies! by Stephen Schochet contains a timeless treasure trove of colorful vignettes featuring an amazing all-star cast of icons including John Wayne, Charlie Chaplin, Walt Disney, Jack Nicholson, Johnny Depp, Shirley Temple, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, Errol Flynn and many others both past and contemporary. A special blend of biography, history and lore Hollywood Stories is full of humorous tales often with unexpected endings. What makes the book unique is that the reader can go to any page and find a completely engaging and illuminating yarn. Sometimes people won't realize that they are reading about The Three Stooges or Popeye the Sailor until they come to the end of the story.

The Darkslayer "Do as they say or die in the dungeons," the poor storekeepers would say. "Do as they say or disappear," the commoners would warn. But Venir and Melegal could not have cared less what anyone had to say. They had been this way since their childhood. As the underlings rally all of the evil forces they can muster to destroy the mystical and legendary Darkslayer, something unexpected has upset the delicate balance between good and evil on the world called Bish, making the Darkslayer a pawn in other insidious disputes. Strife and turmiol are constant features of life as humans struggle to survive among a wide array of creatures, including orcs, ogres, and the most evil race of all--the underlings. When recklessness provokes a Royal household, Venir is forced to flee the city, along with his great two-headed dog and his companion the skinny thief Melegal. The Royals and underlings soon unleash some unusual powers against him and start to close in. Facing the final showdown, nothing unfolds as it should.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Turkey Week Break

To celebrate Thanksgiving, we'll be spending lots of time with our families and hope you will too!  So, we're taking a bit of a break from our blog.  We'll keep reading and posting reviews, tho, so be sure to stop by Feathered Quill Book Reviews to check out new reviews.  And, oh yes, we WILL post our weekly "Friday Finds" column to our blog on Friday, November 26th.  Have a great week and see you soon. - The Folks at Feathered Quill Book Reviews

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted

Here are the books that came in this week. Check them out and return soon to read the reviews!

50 Lessons on Leading for Those with Little Time for Reading For more than 20 years, Steve Boehlke has helped people develop their leadership skills. He has worked globally with senior corporate executives and front line supervisors in large industrial plants as well as volunteers in nonprofit organizations and rural community workers in developing countries. This book contains 50 lessons on leading Boehlke has culled from his experience. Both simple and profound, each lesson is brought to life through a visual treatment of the text. Boehlke's 50 Lessons on Leading will inspire both reflection and conversation. It's a great business gift for the current and emerging leaders you know.

Did Not Survive: A Zoo Mystery Iris Oakley, pregnant and still recovering from her husband’s murder, wants only to carry on as a keeper at Finley Memorial Zoo in Vancouver, Washington. But she is confronted by a terrifying situation: alone and with no elephant expertise, she must rescue her boss, Kevin Wallace, from being mauled by a zoo elephant. Though she gets him to safety, he dies of his injuries. No one understands why reliable old Damrey attacked the foreman, and Iris inadvertently misdirects the investigation. As zoo staff descend into anxiety and animosity, the welfare of the animals is threatened, as well as the lives of keepers. Rattled coworkers nominate Iris to find out what’s going on. She finds a surprising number of motives to kill the foreman, but Damrey, the elephant, doesn’t have one. Despite the distraction of trying to construct her new life as a single mother, Iris discovers that the elephant keepers are locked in a bitter feud, the new veterinarian is keeping secrets, and an old flame still hates Wallace. New-born clouded leopard cubs cheer up the troubled staff, but even that has its dark side. Adding to the chaos, animal rights activists are picketing the zoo. They want the elephants sent to a sanctuary, but is that a better option for them than the improved exhibit that is on the drawing board? Why isn’t that exhibit under construction as planned? A new foreman shows up with alarming ideas, the police keep dropping by, and animals are disappearing into thin air…

Haunted Echoes Sarah Reddington traveled to far-away Maine to escape the chaos of the windy city. She wanted to concentrate on completing her novel and enjoy the peaceful quiet of the Atlantic's craggy shore. Although she was the only registered guest staying in an elegant, but quaint Victorian Inn, subsequent events quickly placed her writing on hold. The haunting cries that echoed around her made her question not only her own mortality, but made it difficult for her to decipher between fiction and insanity. This is an old-fashioned ghost story through-and-through that will keep you guessing until the last written word.

How the Moon Regained Her Shape Influenced by Native American folktales, this fascinating story deals with overcoming adversity, self-confidence, and understanding the phases of the moon. After the sun insults her, the moon gets very upset and disappears - much to the chagrin of rabbits who miss their moonlight romps. With the help of her many friends and admirers, the moon gains self-confidence each day until she is back to her full size. The For Creative Minds section explains the phases of the moon and answers those pesky questions like why is the moon up during the day? , and why does the shape of the moon change?

Wild Hoofbeats Wild horses: bold, elusive, independent. Above all, free. Or are they? Most of us consider wild horses honored emblems of our Western spirit, but some see them as a resource to exploit or even a pest to eliminate. Which are they? For Carol Walker, the photographer and author of Wild Hoofbeats, the answer begins not in abstract argument over symbols and statistics, but with the horses themselves. In images that move fleetly from the pages straight into our hearts, Walker brings to brilliant life the horses of the Adobe Town herd in Wyoming's Red Desert, and we gain a priceless perspective on these graceful, courageous animals.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Author Interview with Lindy Davies

Today we're talking with Lindy Davies, publisher of The Alodia Scrapbook: Vol. 1: Creating a New Paradigm, 2001-03.

FQ: Recreating the economic principles of Georgism by utilizing the fictitious country of Alodia is a very interesting concept. Can you tell us about how you came up with the idea and how Alodia came to be?

The "Third World Debt Crisis" was — and still is — a devastating problem. It has much to do with the "race to the bottom" and the many complaints about globalization and its effects. Nobody else — as far as I know — has proposed any solution that could be effected independently by a poor debtor nation. All the other so-called remedies either have to do with austerity, "structural adjustment" programs that take resources from basic education, infrastructure and medicine (and how can they fight poverty on those terms?) or rely on charity. It occurred to a few students of Georgist economics that the "single tax" could provide a workable remedy for the Alodias of the world.

FQ: The first step in General Akuopha’s economic reform was to “unilaterally cease making payments on its external debt.” He viewed outside loans from the IMF and its sister organization, the World Bank as being detrimental to Alodians. Do you see this process as being a factor that impoverishes people in “real” life? If so, why do you feel it does?

There was a confluence of historical factors that left third-world nations in a bad cycle of dependency. Some may argue a grand "capitalist" design in this, but I'm just observing the results. In the 1970s, Arab nations had a lot of oil-boom surplus to loan. Developing countries were convinced, following standard "development" models, that borrowing for infrastructure (such as the Alo dam, an exact copy of Ghana's Akosombo Dam) was a good idea for them. Unfortunately, a good deal of the borrowed money was squandered on cronyism, or paid for military hardware. Then, facing high inflation in the early 1980s, the Reagan administration increased interest rates very sharply. This was a disaster for the developing nations, most of whose development loans were contracted at variable interest rates. Now, it seems to me that the Reagan administration could have mandated a blanket forgiveness of those loans at the time, before they ballooned into monstrously unpayable burdens over the next two decades, but — they didn't. Living standards and per-capita production declined sharply, from that point onward, in most of Sub-Saharan Africa and much of Latin America and East Asia. In return for the "favors" of debt restructuring and/or relief, developing nations had to accept the "structural adjustment" programs I mentioned. That created a vicious cycle that still goes on today.

FQ: Akuopha’s surprising military junta gently introduces the reader to Henry George, a political economist who introduced the land value tax or “single tax.” How were you introduced to his philosophy and what contributed to your sustained interest in Henry George and his work?

There's a story there. To keep it as short as I can: Henry George's political economy was once — during approximately four decades beginning in 1880 — quite influential and popular. His Progress and Poverty was a runaway best-seller and George was a household name. But a number of factors, including the first World War, the Great Depression and the rise of Fascism, Communism and Keynesianism, shoved Georgist analysis out of the mainstream. But, a dogged group of teachers and activists kept George's ideas alive. I was taught basic Georgist economics by one such zealot. I was an apprentice tree-surgeon for a while, and worked under a fellow named Mike Curtis, who brought out his charts and maps and taught the course to his crew for two weeks during our lunch hours. My sustained interest is basically predicated on the fact that, try — and study — as I might, I could find nothing wrong with Henry George's basic analysis and remedy. If that's the case, then it is a message that today's world sorely needs to hear. (Also, I fell 30 feet out of a tree in 1985, broke quite a few bones, and had to shift my career goals.)

FQ: Even Mark Twain claimed that “The earth belongs to the people. I believe in the gospel of the Single Tax.” Most people have never even heard of this tax. Can you briefly explain it to your potential readers?

I'll try. "How to do the elevator speech" has long been debated among Georgists. The role of government — the public sector — in a modern economy is an item of great controversy right about now. But, even the most strident Tea-Partier acknowledges the need for some public revenue. So how do we get it? Conventional wisdom holds that since all taxes are bad, we should spread the burden around among every possible source of revenue. This leads, over time, through the political sausage-making process, to systems of taxation that are wasteful, inequitable — and deeply entrenched. But Henry George held that there is one ideal source of public revenue. The value of land isn't created by the land's owner, but by the entire community. It increases along with the size of the population, and the community's need for revenue. And if it isn't taken to fill the community's needs for infrastructure and services, it will be taken nevertheless, by private landowners — and the community will then be compelled to place tax burdens on the workers and capital goods that actually produce the things we need. Herny George's solution, the "single tax," was to remove all taxes on production, income and sales — and collect the rental value of land for public revenue. This would lead to profound economic benefits and efficiencies, about which I could go on and on! I'll tell you, below, where to learn about them.

FQ: In Sebastian Mallaby’s THE WORLD'S BANKER: A Story of Failed States, Financial Crises, And the Wealth and Poverty of Nations, he states that the initial purpose of the bank was to reconstruct countries devastated by the ravages of WWII. It later went on to help countries such as the fictional Alodia to conquer poverty. Do you feel the IMF and the World Bank have failed in their mission? Could Geolibertarianism worked better?

That's a good question, and my answer here would have to be somewhat glib (but I'll offer it anyway). I'd suggest, given the systems of taxation and land tenure that prevail under "capitalism" today, that their success was ultimately impossible. This would be so even in the best possible scenario, without the corruption and fraud. Let's suppose the loan was used to provide rural highways, which let to improved mobility and increased production. It would also lead to drastically higher land values where the new roads intersected. Would the landowners' windfalls be tapped to help repay the loans? Historically, this never happened. Instead, productive activity — particularly, sales and imports — were taxed to repay the loans. Even if the loans did increase economic output, a large portion of this increase was pocketed by landowners — whose economic and political power increased apace — and the nation as a whole got a zero-sum, or worse. Certainly, the policy of Geolibertarianism (as good a term as any) would have worked better, because it would have enabled the country to pay off the development loan out of the receipts of increased productivity, and then to equitably enjoy the benefits of economic development.

FQ: In The Alodia Scrapbook we meet a character, Monique Sassafras. She is an outspoken, right from the streets representative of the people. Would someone like this have a real role in governing a country that adopted Georgism philosophy or would its structure consist of what we now call career politicians?

The emergence of Monique was a fun part of our "collaborative" way of creating this story. I doubt that Akuopha and his team wanted to deal with her; they were not feminists, and didn't seek market-woman input. But, she developed a public following, egged on by a number of shouting matches with Mr. Jobe, who had announced himself as a spokesman for the interim government. So, having announced (and practiced) a policy of 100% unlimited free speech, the Akuopha team was compelled to deal with Ms. Sassafras, or face a serious shellacking in the press. Giving her a place in the "inner sanctum" was the best way out of a sticky situation for them. But in terms of the broader question: what we're proposing is first-and-foremost an economic policy, and in actual practice much would depend, of course, on local norms and mores. Henry George himself was certainly an egalitarian — for example, he was an outspoken supporter of women's suffrage in the 1880s.

FQ: Would you prefer to live in a “single tax” society and why? How would it benefit you personally?

Absolutely! Personally, I am more interested in creative fulfillment and family time than in financial or material success; I'd be happier to get by on a smaller income than the demands of taxes and mortgage payments compel me to seek. And I think a just and prosperous economic order would afford many more educational and cultural opportunities to my children.

FQ: The Alodia Scrapbook was a collaboration of sorts, with you doing most of the writing. How long did it take to compile this fascinating montage and are you now in the process of working on a continuation? I’d really be interested in knowing which direction the Alodian people went.

The initial telling of the story went on over a period of about a year and a half, but most of the action was composed during a core period of about four months. After the Henry George School in New York used an earlier version of the story in one of its classes, I added some material, such as the Rolling Stone article and the updates regarding 9/11. But alas! There's no way we can realistically continue the story — not until it comes to pass in real life. This book was called "Volume I" out of an effort at verisimilitude, but the sequel can't be written yet, because Alodia's new direction, in continued, would have such a profound effect on its neighbors. We started to see some of that effect, in the wave of immigrants — the seasonal workers who never went back home, and then invited their families to join them. My dearest hope is that a country who undertook the program that Alodia did would be the start of a virtuous "domino effect" that would transform the global economy in waves emanating from, of all places, those "basket case" deeply-indebted nations!

FQ: Briefly tell us about the Henry George Institute and the course work you have to offer to those who may be interested in learning more about economics?

The Institute, a not-for-profit organization, offers distance-learning courses, via the Internet and regular mail, in political economy. Our motto is "You CAN understand economics!" Our most enthusiastic students are those who perceive themselves truly abandoned by the established economic paradigms of both the "left" and the "right" — indeed, it was the enthusiasm of our many students in West Africa that motivated the Alodia exercise in the first place. Henry George himself noted that economics is, of all the sciences, most important for all citizens to understand, because its principles affect everyone's lives. Following his lead, we offer courses that require no prior training or background, yet provide conceptual tools that allow people to make sense of today's economic policy questions. Currently, we are undergoing a process of review to certify our courses for college transfer-credit recommendation; we hope to complete that during the coming year. Graduates of our program are now teaching eager students Nigeria's Niger Delta region, and in Managua, Nicaragua. Our home on the Web is: www.henrygeorge.org.

To learn more about The Alodia Scrapbook: Vol. 1: Creating a New Paradigm, 2001-03 please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted

Here are our offerings for this week. Check them out! Reviews will be up shortly.

Cute Eats Cute: If Holden Caulfield had grown up in an age of environmental politics he might sound like Cute Eats Cute's 15-year-old narrator. Set in a Midwestern town at the turn of the millennium, Sam's mother embraces Wicca, his dad dials in talk radio, and his eco-warrior friends shift into hyper-drive as the community goes up in arms when deer are slated for culling from a large urban park.
Organically wrapped in paradox and irony, Cute Eats Cute explores the many false utopias its characters embrace. Sam discovers the human condition is really about finding out which tribe you're in, and in doing so, learns to navigate the turbulent waters of this so-called life. Cute Eats Cute -- the title taken from a speech Sam's dad makes at his high school defending the urban deer hunt-- encapsulates how animals eat one another for survival and defense. And the food chain never sleeps. The satirical jabs at the men's movement, the deafening but impressionable rhetoric of the gun-toting Christian right group, The Hunters of Men, and the fragile friendship of Sam's school chums (who are each facing down their own personal issues against their blind ecology crusade) all conspire to make Murphy's novel a page-turning delight. But it's not without its carefully constructed messages.

7 Scorpions: Rebellion: The world was turned upside down by the swift and brutal attack of a dictator known only as Zodiac. Planting flash bombs in every major city across the world, he detonated them simultaneously, sending the survivors into chaos and anarchy. In the wake of the destruction, Zodiac unleashed the dreaded Seekers, a group with the ability to radiate an aura of intense fear, which would complete the enslavement and extermination of humanity.A former vigilante, turned government super soldier experiment, emerges from his self-imposed exile to challenge the new status quo. Can Vincent Black, with his makeshift team of unlikely allies, overcome the demons of his past to help preserve the future of humanity?

Did Not Survive: Iris Oakley, pregnant and still recovering from her husband’s murder, wants only to carry on as a keeper at Finley Memorial Zoo in Vancouver, Washington. But she is confronted by a terrifying situation: alone and with no elephant expertise, she must rescue her boss, Kevin Wallace, from being mauled by a zoo elephant. Though she gets him to safety, he dies of his injuries. No one understands why reliable old Damrey attacked the foreman, and Iris inadvertently misdirects the investigation. As zoo staff descend into anxiety and animosity, the welfare of the animals is threatened, as well as the lives of keepers. Rattled coworkers nominate Iris to find out what’s going on. She finds a surprising number of motives to kill the foreman, but Damrey, the elephant, doesn’t have one. Despite the distraction of trying to construct her new life as a single mother, Iris discovers that the elephant keepers are locked in a bitter feud, the new veterinarian is keeping secrets, and an old flame still hates Wallace. New-born clouded leopard cubs cheer up the troubled staff, but even that has its dark side. Adding to the chaos, animal rights activists are picketing the zoo. They want the elephants sent to a sanctuary, but is that a better option for them than the improved exhibit that is on the drawing board? Why isn’t that exhibit under construction as planned? A new foreman shows up with alarming ideas, the police keep dropping by, and animals are disappearing into thin air…

The Skinny on Networking: You've probably heard the expression "It's not what you know, it s who you know." Well, there's a lot of truth to it. Of course you always need to work hard at your endeavor of choice ("what you know"). Your value in the business world depends on what you can do for people. Therefore, you must have a skill, information or expertise that others will consume that people will pay for. BUT, having that skill, information or expertise is often not enough to maximize your potential. You need people a network to help you distribute your skills. You need people to help you find a job, a loan, customers, or the right partner. The Skinny on Networking: Maximizing the Power of Numbers is about creating and maintaining your network. Illustrated, narrative and easily read in about one hour, this book condenses the thinking of experts, authors and celebrities alike and presents them in an entertaining and engaging format. In The Skinny on Networking yo uwill learn how to: maximize your reach on the internet; get to the people you need; create networking gravity; employ the principle of weak ties; think like a boomerang; expand your social capital; build a reciprocity field; utilize connectors; move beyond your comfort zone; cold call; leverage initial meeting.

The Skinny on Success: In Jim Randel's distinct and unique format of telling a story through skinny stick people, readers will see success in a new light as they learn the tools that will help them to become victorious or, if they want to flourish even more, how to take their dreams about achieving to the next level. The Skinny on Success will explain how to: Identify the three steps in the process that leads to success that triumphant people take; See the importance of passion, action, & persistence; Decide how big a role talent plays in becoming successful; Be inspired by the examples of Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, John Grisham, and others, who went from rejection after rejection to huge triumphs; Benefit from the author's synthesis of the key findings from illuminating books on success, including Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, Daniel Coyne's the Talent Code, and others.

The Skinny on Creativity: The Skinny on Creativity ... Wow, what a big topic!
And such an important one too, because no matter what you do, or where you are in your life, the ability to think creatively is crucial for your survival and your success. In short, the more you develop your skills at creative thinking, the more likely you will be able to master your environment whatever it might be. Creative thinkers are all around you. People who are juggling responsibilities and obligations. People who are finding ways to get a lot done with minimum help or resources. People who are using their talents to maximum effect. Creative thinking is the skill you need to overcome whatever stands between you and what you want to accomplish. Creative thinkers will have an edge in the years ahead. Whereas once analytical thinking was paramount, today machines can perform analysis better than most humans. But machines can t imagine; machines cannot think creatively. And so, to compete and prosper you need to enhance your abilities at creative thinking. So, give us an hour of your time. That's about how long it will take for you to read The Skinny on Creativity. By the end of this book you will have a better understanding of the rules of creativity and an enhanced ability to think out of the box.

Haunted Echos: Sarah Reddington traveled to far-away Maine to escape the chaos of the windy city. She wanted to concentrate on completing her novel and enjoy the peaceful quiet of the Atlantic's craggy shore. Although she was the only registered guest staying in an elegant, but quaint Victorian Inn, subsequent events quickly placed her writing on hold. The haunting cries that echoed around her made her question not only her own mortality, but made it difficult for her to decipher between fiction and insanity. This is an old-fashioned ghost story through-and-through that will keep you guessing until the last written word.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Google Instant

Have you heard about this?  Google promises it will change how searches are conducted.  Others claim it will change the rankings of sites.  What do you think?  Here's the article from Google.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book Trailers - Too Long?

Book trailers are a popular mechanism for advertising books.  For those unfamiliar with the concept, think "movie trailer" except that they are used to advertise books.  Music, voice-overs, pictures and moving video are all part of the game. 

Recently, I came upon a site offering book trailer production.  There were several "packages" available for authors/publishers to purchase, starting with one minute videos and going all the way up to five minutes.  Wow!  Five minutes?  Really?  Would you sit and watch a five minute video about a book?  Particularly one with no moving video?  Then again, even with interesting video, I don't think I'd sit through a five minute ad (and that's what these are, ads).  How many movie trailers are five minutes?  What about commercials?  If you can't get your message across in a minute, you've lost your audience.  In fact, if you can't get your message across in a minute, maybe you've got the wrong message!  Or, maybe you're going about it all wrong.  Your target audience IS NOT going to watch a five minute video so don't waste your time.  Go back to the drawing board and re-think your ad!

Author Interview with Ricky Bray

Today we're talking with Ricky Bray, author of  Rendezvous Rock.

FQ:  Rendezvous Rock is a tightly woven, imaginary tale. What was your impetus for writing about the “mysterious world of The Three Circles?”

The tale originally began as a love story revolving around a ten-year separation.  While I was pondering what could possibly bind two young people tightly enough for their love to endure such a lengthy separation and still rendezvous in ten years, I came up with the idea of The Three Circles.  As the story progressed, this sect actually grew into the compelling force of the novel.

FQ:  Ned, Eric’s uncle, questioned the very existence of witches and warlocks saying, “How could a race exist in absolute secrecy, especially one that supposedly lives twice as long as everyone else? Such a group couldn’t possibly coexist with normal people and not be noticed.” Do you believe such a race could now coexist with us?

With a little imagination this is plausible since there are many clandestine elements within our society today– the covert operations of the FBI or CIA, secretive societies such as the Skull and Bones Society, the drug and crime underworld, and even some individuals that lead double lives.  Although not probable, the concept of “hiding in plain sight” could be taken several steps farther and an ultra-secretive group such as The Three Circles might exist.

FQ: Wicca is a large Earth-centered religion and many of the characters names such as Wind Storm are obviously drawn from nature. Can you tell us about how you went about choosing them and if any of them have any special meaning to you?

I actually modeled The Three Circles after some of the Native American religions and borrowed heavily from some of their traditions, specifically the tradition of a name day or Naming Ceremony.  The names chosen had no personal meaning for me but rather symbolically reflected the character’s traits as they emerged.

FQ: Rendezvous Rock, an epic fantasy which you call a “romantic drama,” is fairly open ended. The book can stand alone, but Little Moon Wind, Terra Fey reborn, is still young at its conclusion. Are you planning a follow-up book?

My original concept left room for two more stories, and I hope to someday complete the trilogy with both a prequel and a sequel.

FQ: Personality wise, we see a wide array of familiars, halflings, and of course, the Warlock, Night Bane. If you were to pluck a character from your own book, which one would you like to be and why?

Susan’s father, Russell, is probably the closest to me in general character.  Most of the characters in the story are larger than life.  I can relate to Susan’s father, an ordinary man who cares deeply for his family.

FQ: Sci-Fi and horror have captured the imagination of readers everywhere, but so many more have recently been captivated by fantasy. Some of the best fantasy writers have been men with some notable exceptions such as J.K. Rowling and Marion Zimmer Bradley. Do you have a favorite or favorites who have influenced your writing?

Actually, many writers in many different genres have influenced me.  In the field of fantasy, my favorites were Stephen King, Robert E. Howard, and Edgar Allen Poe.

FQ: You indicate that you penned several more manuscripts “using only a pencil on yellow legal pads.” Do you think this tedious process made your work better in the long run? Will we be seeing any of the other manuscripts you wrote?

I’m a believer in the old method of hand writing manuscripts and believe that it keeps the author more immersed in their work.  Sometimes slow is better.  And, yes, I do expect to see my other manuscripts in print at some point.

FQ: Your writing seems to have changed your life in a positive, life-altering direction.  Would you care to tell what it has meant in your life.

Beyond simply filling a void during an empty period in my life, writing extensively for a number of years actually changed the way I think.  I am more able to set goals for myself and achieve them than in the past.  Among all the things I have been and now am, there is also an accomplished novelist there.  Believing this gives me a brighter outlook on myself.

To learn more about Rendezvous Rock, please read the review at Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Car Stuck in Barn

Um.... what does this post have to do with books?  Absolutely nothing!  It's just funny and I thought we could all use a good laugh.

Here's the story...Several days ago, my husband needed to add some clutch fluid to his baby "Bumblebee," a little, bright yellow Honda convertible.  It was pouring out and he didn't want any water to get under the hood so he came up with the bright idea of driving the car into my horse barn.  Big mistake!

Bumblebee went into the barn fine.  Fluid got added and it was time to leave.  That's when the problems started.  It seems that Bumblebee is very low to the ground, and the cement tiles at the entrance to my barn are coming loose.  When the car's tires hit those tiles, up flooped the tiles and they wedged themselves very nicely between the tires and base of the car.  Bumblebee was stuck.  No, Bumblebee was very, very stuck!

Here's another view of Bumblebee, the car that got stuck in a barn (note the missing tile near the tire - it's there, just wedged into the bottom of the car):

So, how do you get a car out of a barn?  First, apparently, you try to lift it out with the farm tractor, using its forklift to brilliantly lift the car.  Well, that didn't work.  At least, tho, it didn't damage the car.  Next, you let the car sit there for a few days so the horses can make a new friend. 

Finally, it's Jimmy to the rescue.  Jimmy is a neighbor with a "floor lift."  First, place that lift in the right spot and then lift that sucker!:

Bumblebee was raised up and released from his tile prison. 

Oh, and my barn?  Let's just say we're replacing the entrance tiles with cement and new rule - no cars allowed!  Here's what my barn entrance looked like after Bumblebee's removal:

More on Copyright Infringement

Recently, I posted about an editor who allegedly took an article from a blog, without permission, and printed it in her magazine.  Her reply to the author, when questioned, was that the author should be happy her article was reprinted.

>>"But honestly Monica, the Web is considered 'public domain' and you should be happy we just didn't 'lift' your whole article and put someone else's name on it!... If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than [it] was originally.... For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me... ALWAYS for free!"<<   (from the author)

Wow!  Well, the incident went viral and there's now even a Wikipedia entry about it!  Will be interesting to see what happens to the editor.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Award for Food Writers

Linda Radke, Five Star Publications
Phone: 480-940-8182, 866-471-0777
      E-mail: info@FiveStarPublications.com
High-res logos available by request
"Dragonflies are reminders that we are light and can reflect the light in powerful ways if we choose to do so."



            CHANDLER, AZ (November 5, 2010) – Hot on the tale of the successful launch of the Purple and Royal Dragonfly Book Awards comes the unveiling of the most delectable contest of them all: the Chocolate Dragonfly Book Awards, which honors the very best in food-related literature – fiction and nonfiction.
            There are 40 categories for book entries including cookbooks, diet and nutrition, food history, fictional books that revolve around food, travel books that focus on food, dining guides and many more. As with all other Dragonfly Book Awards contests, there is no restriction on publication date as long as the books entered are still available for purchase. Entries from across the globe are welcome as long as they are submitted in English.
            "Our judges are industry experts with specific knowledge about the categories over which they preside," says Linda Radke, president of Five Star Publications, the company sponsoring the Chocolate Dragonfly Book Awards. "A Chocolate Dragonfly seal on a book's cover tells foodies they are not only in possession of a book that appeals to their specific taste in reading, but one that is also worthy of praise in literary circles."
            One grand-prize winner is selected from all first-place winners to receive $300, and all first-place winners of each category go into a drawing for a $100 prize. In addition, each first-place winner in each category receives a certificate commemorating their accomplishment, foil award seals to place on book covers and mention on Five Star Publications' websites. A publicity campaign announces all winners and first-place recipients are placed in the Five Star Dragonfly Book Awards virtual bookstore. In addition to the aforementioned, the grand prize winner receives one hour of marketing consultation from Five Star Publications and $100 worth of Five Star Publications' titles. Second-place titles are recognized, too. Although the deadline to enter is August 1, 2011, entries postmarked June 1, 2011 or earlier qualify for the Early Bird Special and receive their choice of award-winning e-book: "The Economical to Guide to Self-Publishing" or "Promote like a Pro."
            The Chocolate Dragonfly Book Awards are part of the family of Five Star Dragonfly Book contests, which includes the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards, honoring literary excellence in 50 categories; Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, which recognizes exceptional children's literature and will announce its winners at the November 6, 2010 Arizona Author's Association banquet in Phoenix; the Dragonfly eBook Awards, saluting exceptional eBooks and to be launched later this year; and the Green Dragonfly Book Awards, which rewards books that create awareness of the environment and eco-friendly living. To learn more about the Chocolate Dragonfly Book Awards, visit www.ChocolateDragonflyBookAwards.com. For more details on any other Five Star Dragonfly contests, access www.FiveStarBookAwards.com. Five Star Publications, which celebrates 25 years of publishing expertise, can be reached at info@FiveStarPublications.com or by calling 480-940-8182 or visiting www.FiveStarPublications.com.