Monday, January 31, 2011

Travel Writers and Publisher are in the Crosshairs of Hawaii Legislature

This came from a publisher that Feathered Quill has worked with in the past (Five Star Publications).  They are trying to get word out about what is happening in Hawaii with travel writers/publishers.

– you may or may not wish to write any of the Hawaiian legislatures – or just the governor – or send press releases. The legislature deals with this Monday: HB 548. So if you or any of your authors are concerned about this and the precedent it sets you would need to respond with your politicking ASAP. This could easily become law in other states if this is pushed through. 
If one of your authors mentions a site, location, event, beach, etc in Hawaii (or possibly other states)– someone reads about it and decides to visit it and for some reason that person has to access private property (by mistake or otherwise) and gets hurt --- the property owner is not liable – the PUBLISHER is! At the very end is what I wrote everyone on the lists below: 
Travel Writers and Publisher are in the Crosshairs of Hawaii Legislature 
Hawaii is trying to revise their statutes to make all publishers open to liability if their readers get hurt or killed. Here are the bills:

There are people in Hawaii who resent tourists being in places "they don't belong." To some, this means anywhere other than by their resort pool or on Waikiki Beach. A bill has been introduced and is being rushed through the legislature that would open publishers to liability if a reader got hurt on private land and the publication "encouraged trespassing." It sounds so reasonable. They say it's to shift liability away from private landowners if someone uninvited gets hurt on their land and was "encouraged to trespass" by an irresponsible guidebook, web site, magazine article, Twitter, blog or any other form of publishing. But that's a red herring because Hawaii Revised Statues section 520 already protects private landowners. In reality, this bill is aimed squarely at the publishing industry.
 The way this bill is written, every guidebook to Hawaii encourages trespassing, even if they don't know it.  Here's an example:
On Maui, every publication, even the Hawaii Visitors Bureau, encourages people to visit Honolua Bay. It's incredibly popular. Most people assume it's a beach park. In fact, most of the surrounding land is privately owned by billionaire Steve Case. Case permits public access, always has. But inside his giant parcel are smaller parcels (called kuleana parcels) and their owners don't want anyone there. They post NO TRESPASSING signs that everyone simply ignores, because no one actually walks through their tiny kuleana parcels to get to the beach. But this law means that by sending a reader to this location, even though the landowner allows access, if someone gets hurt they can sue the publisher because someone (not even the landowner who controls the land) posted a sign. There are literally countless places like this with complicated access issues that few writers or publishers would even know about. But they would now be liable for injuries or deaths.
 Also, even if publishers stopped doing any publications for Hawaii altogether as a result, it wouldn't matter. Someone could have a five year old publication, go to a place, "trespass," and sue the publisher for injuries the way the bill is currently written.
Lastly, even if a publisher never even mentions a place, they could still be liable. Many publishers have blogs and other means for their readers to express their thoughts to the publisher and each other. If these thoughts are on their web site, they are "publishing" according to this bill and therefore liable. This law would open the floodgates to limitless litigation for publishers who, until now, have been protected by the first amendment. It would effectively kill the travel publishing industry to Hawaii.
This bill was introduced by James Tokioka. If you want to give him your thoughts, here is his contact information.
James Kunane Tokioka
phone: 808-586-6270
fax: 808-586-6271
Below is the link to the contact info for every member of the house:
 Here is the senate:
 The Governor:
What Cass Foster wrote ALL of the above:

My name is Cass Foster and I'm a recently retired theatre professor who moved to Kauai from Arizona. My wife and I are unquestionably one of the most fortunate couples on this planet. We could not be happier with Hawaii and Kauai specifically.

I would like our situation to remain that way so I’m seeking your assistance. This is in reference to the legislative matter of HBs 548 and 552 – where if (552 – to paraphrase:) the reader trespasses onto private property to access an attraction that the publisher (not the land owner) will be held liable for injuries sustained by the reader on the private property. And at the same time 548 would exempt the property owners from liability should they be in any way negligent. And unless I'm mistaken,  Hawaii Revised Statues section 520 already provides protection to private landowners.
I am in the midst of writing a 90-minute comedy about the history of Hawaii. The play will include references to sites and locations on many of the Islands that could easily result in the readers visiting these places - since it is the intention of increasing tourism to Hawaii and showing off our great state.
All published works related to Hawaii would need to be revisited and all future publishing plans could be terminated if they have anything to do with writing or photography or possible film work about Hawaii. This has the potential to be a staggering economic nightmare to Hawaiians overall.
But worse, and I speak quite selfishly, my script can in no way be published or staged. Three actors portray nearly 60 characters telling the past 1500 years of Hawaii's history in a way that is informative and (we can only hope) endless laughter. This legislation will prevent this or anything related from being published, staged or aired. This is truly Big Brother in 2011 leading the charge in censorship.
If those of you who introduced the bill are rightfully concerned about protecting land owners from lack of control over a publisher or author possibly sending someone to their property that eventually gets hurt please revisit Hawaii Revised Statues section 520 protecting private landowners.

I hope the newly elected governor and the entire legislative body will be cautious about any influence to legislate in a manner that prevents or fears a free and open discourse to air and explore all perspectives. I have no doubt good thought has already gone into this matter. I'm just suggesting too little has been made public to believe.

I thank you for your time and look forward to your assistance.
Cass Foster

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Author Interview with Christine Sunderland

Today we're talking with Christine Sunderland, author of Hana-lani

FQ: You obviously know and love Hawaii. What is your connection with Maui?

I have had the opportunity to visit Hana, Maui and other locations in Hawaii many times over the last twenty years, and have been impressed with the welcoming spirit of the people, their sense of family, history, and faith I have found there.

FQ: Nani-lei is such a warm and inspiring character. Is she based on someone you are lucky enough to know?

Nani-lei is a blend of many elderly women I have been so very fortunate to know, primarily, I would add, in my church life. These women have given me so much and I continue to learn from these generations that go before me.
Flying to Hana

FQ: Meredith's experience at Hana-lani causes her to think about what truly matters in life. What is at the top of your list?

I would say family, faith, church, and making every day count, searching for what is true and not merely fashionable or politically correct.

FQ: Meredith's story is too familiar these days. In what ways can all of us be like Nani-lei and her family, bringing hope to those who, like Meredith, are alone?

I think we can all slow down and take the time to listen to and love one another. We begin with our family members – husband, wife, children. Then we consider friends and those who cross our path day to day. Every person is worthy of respect and love, and the gift of time, of paying attention, is probably the greatest gift to those alone. Of course giving one's time means sacrificing one's own time, being a little less selfish, a little more self-less.
Hana Bay
FQ: Henry and Maria's project, A History of Ethics, seems to be a topic you have thought much about. Is this a side project of yours?

Wananalua Congregational Church
I have long been concerned about how we decide what is right and wrong. With the demise of the Judeo-Christian ethical influence in the public square, our culture has been hard pressed to determine what authorities to use to decide right and wrong. Abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia, cloning, the definition of marriage, are questions of serious moral impact for many of us, as well as the boundaries of free speech and the parameters of artistic expression.

Fagan's Cross, Hana

FQ: Do you share Henry's love of poetry? Which poets, along with T.S. Eliot, do you admire?

I love the poetic more than poetry itself – the phrase or metaphor that catches some otherwise indescribable truth about our humanity. I admire greatly Gerald Manley Hopkins, Shakespeare, Elizabeth Browning, among others. The Psalms are wonderful expressions of man's yearnings and angst as well as joyful and thankful moments. Poetry helps express who we are, gives us voice. My sister Barbara Budrovich is developing into a fine poet, catching unique family moments we experience as women and mothers.

FQ: Without giving away the ending of the book, I will say that it was not the “happily ever after” ending I was expecting. Did you know as you were writing the novel that it would end this way?

Hasegawa General Store, Hana
I knew it would have to end with a degree of realism, since I didn't want to write a "romance." I wasn't sure about the specifics, but the ending became clear as the characters became more real, and I soon knew what they would do, even what they needed to do, to reflect the themes of the novel. So I wanted the ending to be both challenging and yet hopeful.

To learn more about Hana-lani please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted

Life with Ben: A Story of Friendship and Feathers College was supposed to be a time of excitement and freedom. For one young woman, however, it became the source of entrapment when her anxiety disorder spiraled out of control and threatened to end her life. Desperate for a way out, she turned to an unusual place for help and ended up discovering the one thing that would allow her to find happiness...a parrot named Ben. Through the challenges and laughter of living with a parrot, Jessica found a way to live life once again.

The Passover Zoo Seder How would the animals celebrate their Seder? There's mayhem at the zoo when not a single animal can find a Haggadah that isn't too worn to read. Then, Shari Elephant remembers the ceremony and soon each animal has its own role in the Pesach celebration. This fanciful and funny Passover verse invites all to share a tongue-twister, chant the Dah-yaynoo with Horsey, steal the Afikoman with a Baboon, and end the meal with Lion's Ma-Roar.

Quick Fall of Light Quick Fall of Light is a novel of a bird flu pandemic, a woman and an "extinct" bird who are caught in its deadly approach, and the extraordinary relationship between them. The bird in the story is America's passenger pigeon, historically extinct for almost 100 years. Yet, in Quick Fall, a colony has been harbored safely and secretly for many years in the Olympic Rain Forest of Washington State. It is here where the story begins, and the mystery of the bird's survival becomes the key to saving mankind. I've been told the premise is profound and moving with advance praise from writers and naturalists, including Sy Montgomery, Jeffrey Masson, and Rachel Carson's biographer, Linda Lear. Highly recommended for readers who've considered the probabilities of a biotechnical disaster up against the unpredictable turns of nature--this time a spellbinding bird. I hope you find it an interesting, inspiring read.

The Long Tail from SmarterComics Based on the The NY Times bestseller and Winner of the Gerald Loeb Award (Best Business Book of the Year), The Long Tail from SmarterComics is the Graphic version of the most important business book since The Tipping Point. Anderson shows how the future of commerce and culture isn't in the high-volume head of a traditional demand curve, but in what used to be regarded as misses--the endlessly long tail of that same curve.

Mi Barrio from SmarterComics Don't let where you came from dictate who you are, but let it be part of who you become. Successful entrepreneur Robert Renteria grew up sleeping in a dresser drawer. This hard-hitting comic memoir traces Robert's life from a childhood of poverty and abuse in one of the poorest areas of East Los Angeles, to his emergence as a business owner and civic leader today.

Shut Up, Stop Whining & Get a Life from SmarterComics: A Kick-Butt Approach to a Better Life This book forces all responsibility for every aspect of your life right where it belongs-on you. Internationally renowned success philosopher, business speaker, humorist, and NYT and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Larry Winget won't let you escape to the excuses that we all find comforting. Larry attacks the importance of a positive attitude, the sanctity of marriage, sex, religion, fitness, friendship, money, stress, and happiness.

How to Master the Art of Selling from SmarterComics After failing during the first six months of his career in sales, Tom Hopkins discovered and applied the very best sales techniques, then earned more than one million dollars in just three years. What turned Tom Hopkins around? The answers are revealed in How to Master the Art of Selling from SmarterComics, as Tom explains to readers what the profession of selling is really about and how to succeed beyond their imagination!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

100 Books in 2011

I've just added a button to our blog that links to a reading challenge for 2011.  We're all big readers here so come on and join in the challenge.  Just click the button and you'll land on the site that has all the details.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Author Interview with Gareth Crocker

Today we're talking with Gareth Crocker, author of Finding Jack

(Note: All photos reproduced courtesy of the U.S National Archives)

FQ: You mention getting the idea for Finding Jack while visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. What originally brought you to the memorial?

I was visiting the memorial during time off from a writing seminar and was crouched down on my haunches when a Vietnam veteran, dressed in full military gear, pulled up alongside me. After a few emotional minutes he saluted, reached into his jacket, and withdrew an old dog harness which he placed against the foot of the wall. As he began to walk away, my curiosity got the better of me and I asked him about the harness. He explained that he had been a dog handler during the war and that his dog had saved not only his life, but those of his entire platoon on no less than three occasions. He told me that not a week passes that he doesn't think of his loyal and brave friend and what became of him. When I asked what he meant by that, he told me the harrowing story of the Vietnam War dogs. He described how, at the end of the war, the government declared the dogs 'surplus military equipment' and ordered that they remain behind in Vietnam. It was simply costing too much to repatriate them. Some of the dogs were handed over to the South Vietnamese, but most were left to fates unknown. Many would have succumbed to hunger and disease while others would have no doubt been captured for food. It is widely estimated that the dogs (approximately 4000) saved the lives of more than 10,000 US and Allied troops. Yet barely 200 of these K-9 soldiers ever made it home. Unfortunately, and regrettably, I never asked the man's name. His account, however, and the Vietnam Memorial became my inspiration. Finding Jack is a simple and pure story about one man's love for his dog and his refusal to abandon him in Vietnam. It's also a metaphor for the healing powers of hope and that no matter how lost we become in this world, we can almost always find our way back to the light.

FQ: What sort of reactions did you get from friends when you mentioned your desire to write a tribute to these wonderful dogs?

To be honest, I kept it largely to myself. Until I was sure I had done a reasonably fair job of it, I didn't want anyone to know. Fortunately, friends who have since read the book have been very kind in their feedback to me. But friends are like that, aren't they? They'll seldom give you a completely honest response. I much prefer the feedback I get from general readers.

FQ: What sort of research went into writing this book? Did you meet/interview any vets who had worked with dogs during the Vietnam War?

Together with my father, we spent months doing typical academic research before we approached formal institutions and soldiers for more personal accounts of the war. I've tried my utmost to create an authentic Vietnam but, if I'm honest, what was more important to me was understanding the emotional bonds that existed between the soldiers and their dogs. I dedicated many weeks to this, downloading stories from War Dogs sites and interviewing as many dog handlers as possible. As a South African, born only in the mid-seventies, I tried to be as 'respectful' as possible in dealing with the facts and emotions surrounding the conflict. I tried also to be as non-judgmental as I could when it came to the decisions that ultimately
sealed the fate of the Vietnam War Dogs. That was very important to me. It was not my war. I was not there. Who am I, a voice kept telling me, to point fingers?

FQ: While reading about war dogs in the book, we learn that German Shepherds were the most commonly used breed during the War. Why then did you decide to make Jack a Yellow Labrador? 

Well, partly because there were many Labs working in the war, but mainly because the 'Jack' in the novel, is the same yellow Lab that lay at my feet every night as I wrote the book. I own two Labradors - or they own me, I'm not terribly sure on that point - and they are simply proof that there must be a God somewhere, probably with his own Labrador at his feet. They are remarkable animals and I adore them. Sadly, Jack is 11 now and starting to struggle with his joints. I cannot tell you what that is doing to me. To know that Jack's clock is running out is almost unthinkable. I'm doing everything medically possible to try and keep him comfortable, but I can hear the clock ticking in me head. It's murder. Plain and simple.

FQ: There are some very powerful (and realistic) scenes of searching out the enemy in the jungles of Vietnam in Finding Jack. Were these scenes a product of your imagination or were some (all?) based on various veterans' experiences?

I suppose it's a bit of both. While the narrative thread and the subplots stem from my imagination, much of the emotion and dialogue style comes from what I picked up from the soldiers. I tried to convey that one of the worst aspects of Vietnam was not the fighting, but waiting for something to happen. Waiting for a bullet to be fired, a trap to be sprung. The wait was torture for the soldiers.

FQ: Part of what really moved me in your book is the profound effect Jack had not just on his handler, Fletcher, but on the whole unit. Would you tell our readers a bit about how the real war dogs helped save so many, not just physically, but emotionally, during the Vietnam War? 

The Vietnam dogs were more than just tools of war. They were daily reminders of the soldiers' lives back home, of their own dogs that were waiting for them. They were loyal companions who never judged their handlers, never tired of them and were literally willing to lay down their lives for them.
In real terms, they were classified as either tracker, sentry, scout or combat dogs and they were used to sniff out the enemy (patrols, installations, etc), detect booby traps and explosives, to engage the enemy
directly, to protect bases, etc. It's estimated that they saved the lives of more than 10,000 US and Allied soldiers. Based on my interviews and the accounts I've read, I suspect the number is a great deal higher. Either way, the Vietnam Wall, carrying the names of the 60,000 or so American soldiers who were lost in the conflict, would have been at least another 100 feet long were it not for the dogs. That's a hundred feet of wives who would never see their husbands again, fathers who would never see their children and, most poignantly, children who would never again see their dads.

FQ: While the protagonist, Fletcher Carson, was a character I truly enjoyed, I admit to favoring tough, hard-as-nails Lieutenant Rogan. Without giving the story away, I loved what you did to him as the story progressed. Is he based on a real person?

If I'm honest, Fletcher is based loosely on myself - a pretty normal family-orientated guy who would be absolutely lost if anything happened to his family. I needed a strong character to initially bump heads with Fletcher, and Rogan just emerged. In many ways he is a composite character. Don't laugh, but he is part Sylvestor Stallone, part one of the soldiers I interviewed and partly my father, from whom I drew his inner resolve.

FQ: Finally, fess up - do you have a dog? If so, would you tell us a bit about him/her?

We have four dogs. Jack, as mentioned before. His sister, Jill (Jack and Jill ... get it?). A third 'pavement special' named Rusty and a tiny Yorkie which my daughters have named Hannah. They are all very precious to us. Jack and Jill love swimming and can often be heard doing laps in our swimming pool in the middle of the night while the rest of the world is lying beneath layers of duvets and blankets, teeth chattering. They seem entirely oblivious to the cold. They are two of the finest creatures I have ever had the honor of knowing. They are strong and protective, yet as gentle as lambs with our small children. They allow my girls to dress them up, balance toys on their heads, cover them with bright pink blankets and generally do with them what they will. Rusty, a kind of Lassie meets Benji, has one job in life - that of watch dog and family protector. She patrols the front gate every hour of the day and, even when it rains, refuses to seek shelter in the garage. This will sound crazy, I know, but my wife and I rescued Rusty from quite a nasty situation and I can't help but think that she feels indebted to us. That she has to somehow repay us. And, sadly, I think she feels it's a debt for which she has to spend her life trying to pay us back. I keep trying to pull her away from the gate, from her duty, but she always returns. As soon as I'm not looking, she's back there, her nose twitching, her eyes scanning the road. It saddens me, but I love her to bits for it as well. Hannah, the mighty Yorkie, could easily fit in my pocket and is a delight. Growing up we never had small dogs and, to be truthful, they were never my favorites. But she has wormed her way into my heart, that much is for sure. Weighing barely three pounds she often launches off the couch and barks bravely at some large predator trawling across our television screen. We can all learn a great deal from our dogs. Hannah is probably the size of my shoe, but she acts and lives entirely without fear. There's a lesson there, I can sense it...

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

Monday, January 24, 2011

Author Interview with Elizabeth Lang

Today we're talking with Elizabeth Lang, author of The Empire
FQ: I see in your bio that you have a background in the IT industry. Did you pull this story or draw on your background to create the very interesting dialogue regarding the scientific aspects of this novel?
Being in the IT industry and a computer analyst has a great deal to do with how I think and write. Being analytical, or over-analytical, is a blessing and a curse.

FQ: Have you been or are you attending the local, regional sci-fi conventions? I know that Dragon*Con, which is the largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy will be held Labor Day weekend. Will The Empire have a booth?
Surprisingly, I've never attended sci-fi conventions, though I've always been a sci-fi fan. That is about to change. A friend of mine, who is familiar with the convention scene, and was involved with Ad Astra in Toronto many years ago, will be introducing me to a few this year. I will be attending Ad Astra in April in Toronto and Polaris in July in Richmond Hill. Whether I will have a booth…not at Ad Astra, but I will be checking out Polaris.

I am also scheduled for a book-signing at BEA North America in New York this year at the IFWG Publishing booth.

FQ: In a way this book is extremely political and mirrors some of our own real every-day problems (i.e. Republican vs. Democrat). Such as when the Admiral speaks about the fact that humanity cannot afford mass freedom, does this ring a bell with you politically in our own culture?
When I wrote the book, I didn't have any particular political agenda, but I was interested in exploring the idea of 'the end justifies the means' from various angles. Perhaps, unconsciously, I was influenced by what was happening in our world.

FQ: When Adrian is speaking about the project, it is very Oppenheimer-'esque.' Were you thinking that perhaps Adrian was the next...bringer of death?
Certainly. Oppenheimer and other scientists who advance humanity's understanding of the world around us, but their research is used for terrible things. In the pursuit of progress, do we think about the implications of what we're doing? In the book, Adrian was brought in to finish the neutron wave project, but from the beginning he personally objected to its purpose. Unfortunately, in the Empire, scientists have no say in how their research is used, so he decided to do something drastic.

FQ: How did you decide to go for the sci-fi? What do you find especially rewarding about writing in this genre?
I've always been interested in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. I like the freedom to create alternate worlds in order to explore different themes. For instance, the Empire isn't an evil regime, at least it didn't start out as one. The people behind it had the best of intentions because of the situation they found themselves in. But in fighting evil, issues arose and they chose a certain path, slowly and inexorably.

The leaders didn't wake up one day and decide to oppress their own people. The decisions started subtly, unavoidably and for the purpose of saving humanity, but centuries later, that slide has resulted in the Empire that Adrian knows.

FQ: You were able to weave so many different characters into this book, from romantic (Kali and Adrian) to hysterical (Bryce), to frightening (Sester)...can I assume that you are an avid reader to include so many genres?
I used to devour books as a kid, but when I write, other than for a sci-fi backdrop, I never have any specific genre in mind. I create the characters and the scenarios and drop them in and see where they lead me.

FQ: Your characters and dialogue, theme and plot, were so engaging I have to know when Book II will be on the shelves!?
I am actively working on Book II, which is called, The Rebels, and Book III, The Andromedans. I am aiming to finish The Rebels by the summer and The Andromedans by the end of the year. As for when they will be published…that will depend on my publisher.

Each sequel will explore the Empire from different perspectives and through the eyes of the three main characters, Adrian, Kali, and Bryce. One new main character will be introduced in The Rebels who will be at loggerheads with Adrian. But, of course, who isn't he at odds with…

FQ: Thank you for your time. Again, I was very much pulled in like a tractor beam to your story from page one and I wish you the best of luck with the continuing Empire saga.
You're very kind and thank you for your interest. It was a pleasure.

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

Friday, January 21, 2011

Author Interview with Steve Boehlke

Today we're talking with Steve Boehlke, author of 50 Lessons on Leading for Those with Little Time for Reading

FQ: To whom or to what do you credit your own insight into leadership?

Human behavior never ceases to amaze me. What motivates or inspires others and how it happens has always intrigued me. I have gained the most insight into leadership by observing individuals’ behavior in diverse settings from top tier executives in global corporations to volunteers in rural communities of developing countries. I have learned the most by simply watching how people respond, seeking to notice and honor differences. While there is frequently the tendency to assume that leaders will have “answers” (and we often want or need our leaders to have all the answers), I have concluded from observing peoples’ responses, that more trust is established and deeper bonds are created by a leader asking powerful questions. I have always been curious, especially about leadership.

FQ: Being a good leader and helping others become good leaders are clearly different callings. How did you first become interested in teaching leadership?

For me interest in “teaching” leadership grew out of my experience of feeling like an “outsider” when I was younger. I doubt that many people who knew me perceived me as an outsider. While it was not an intentional decision in any given moment, over a period of years I began to realize that by definition a leader is often something of an “outsider”. I was curious how leaders establish the proper balance or tension between being “connected” to followers, and being “different”. Some measure of “distance” is necessary to see the possibilities and have the perspective that others do not share. Also, I was perplexed how leaders I knew could have so many “blind spots,” something which, of course, is human-all-too-human.

FQ: How can ordinary people, who do not find themselves often in leadership positions, benefit from the lessons in this book?

First, to confirm and reiterate what I write in the book, leadership is not a matter of position, though we are often conditioned to think that way. Mindset is the attitude or mental model that we bring to a given situation or set of circumstances. Anyone can make a difference if they choose to do so. That requires a mindset that is intentional and open to unexpected opportunities. Choosing to read and reflect, even meditate, on just one lesson a day can help establish a new mindset. Pick one lesson for a week (there are 50 lessons which just about carries the reader through a year). Write it on a post-it note and put it on your mirror. Watch for how others embody that lesson as you move through the week. More importantly notice how you could practice that lesson for yourself. If you actually try this, I suspect you will be quite surprised with results.

FQ: This is a great list of insights, and I can understand that you would want to share it with others. How did you first get the idea to present the list in this format?

Several related “nudges” took me in the direction of this format. The tipping point was when I received a book in the mail one day from Blurb, a self-publishing website. I had not ordered the book nor created it. I opened the package only to discover a proto-type of 50 Lessons, one lesson on each brightly colored-page. A good friend had submitted some of the lessons I had shared with him and had the proto-type published and sent to me. While it had none of the graphic elements now embodied in the book, I saw for the first time what it could be. A very talented graphic artist and his staff collaborated on the graphic representation. Friends and creative partners make all the difference.

FQ: Was it a difficult process to arrange the 50 Lessons visually? Were there some that were harder than others to create images for?

At one point I was thinking of using photographs to illustrate each lesson, but then I realized that would restrict or limit the reader’s imagination or associations with a particular lesson. In working with the graphics firm, we agreed we would work only with type face and lay-out as opposed to drawing pictures or using photos. Some lessons took more “drafts” than others; others just “popped”. The substantial amount of white space on most pages is aligned with our hope that the reader will create space to reflect and ponder on the lessons, maybe even jotting down notes and ideas on the pages of the book itself. Sometimes less is indeed more.

FQ: What do you see as the benefits of developing leadership skills?

Leadership skills cannot be developed and practiced in a vacuum. A compelling purpose or a higher cause prompts the aspiration to lead. At the same time, a crisis can become the occasion for one to exercise leadership skills that a person may not have even realized he or she possessed. The benefits are having the capacity to move others toward a common goal or achieve some purpose that is important, if not critical, to accomplish. Developing leadership skills is very much the art of self-development. It equips and empowers individuals with greater capacity to confront and embrace whatever life throws at them.

FQ: Do you believe that some people are born leaders? Or can anyone learn?

Some individuals indeed seem to have more natural ability to influence others or to lead. Everyone, however, can benefit from attending to their “blind spots” and honing their skills – whether communication style, work practices, or self-discipline. The greatest obstacle to learning leadership is limited self-awareness. Individuals who refuse or do not continue to grow in their understanding of themselves as a unique person cannot and will not develop as leaders. I believe anyone can learn leadership skills if they have the intent and willpower to grow and to practice. Leading one child may make all the difference in the world.

FQ: When is the right time to begin teaching leadership skills?

Being attentive to “teachable moments” whether a child’s behavior on a baseball diamond, a manager’s poorly communicated message, or a national tragedy is more important in terms of “timing” than chronological age. Leadership skills can be taught from the time a child learns the potential benefit of sharing toys. Parents are very powerful role-models and inevitably have an impact on how individuals relate to the world around them, across one’s life-span. Exercising curiosity and practicing creativity are very important aspects of continual growth as a leader; the groundwork for such activity is established at a very young age.

To learn more about 50 Lessons on Leading for Those with Little Time for Reading please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted

The Story of Moses From surviving the wilds of the Texas Hill Country to a devastating battle with cancer, this is the story of Moses -- a beautiful, big, white dog who, from all indications, began his life as a livestock guard dog on a ranch in Texas (as do many dogs of his breed, the Great Pyrenees). Moses was taken in by a pet rescue group after having wandered onto a ranch in central Texas...homeless. After a few short months in foster care, Moses found his forever family and the road to immortality through their love and devotion. But, Moses' story is much, much more. It is the story of joy and hope and sorrow. It is the story of the wonderful dogs that came before, opening the door for Moses to walk through. It is the story of those left to remember and cherish. It is the story of survival in the midst of great loss-- of loving again, sheltering again, and living in the moment. It is knowing that, however painful, love remains and is the ultimate blessing.

Confessions of a Househusband is a comic account of the struggles, insecurities, and joys of being a stay at home father. It's the story of a man trying to maintain his masculinity while carrying a pink diaper bag over one shoulder, and staying sane after having watched his two hundredth episode of Barney. It asks the questions, When can a stay at home father have his first drink? Is SportCenter considered educational television? And most importantly, can a wife respect a man who makes no money, wears flip flops all day, and smells like Lemon Pledge?

The Absent Embrace is a shocking account of adolescent neglect, and yet, perseverance. At the impressionable age of twelve, Braedon Kuts was introduced to drugs by her mother, who tormented the household with her tyrannical outbursts, leaving Braedon relieved in the shadow of her neglect. She refused to buy food because "the pig" would eat it, Braedon's older brother Chancy, who brushed the face of death when starvation nearly claimed his life. Fighting sickness and hunger, Braedon resiliently trudged onward to survive. Her descent into an unsupervised life meant illiteracy, then deeper into drug addiction and delinquency. Ultimately, she finds solace and a certain measure of adult influence from an eclectic group of drifters who gather at a local coffee shop. Confused by push-pull emotions, she struggles with the desperate need to feel her mother's love, yet terrified of being verbally abused. In a voice far wiser than her years, Braedon recounts her story not to induce sympathy or amass pity, but instead to spread understanding and hope. Despite others' attempts to help her, Braedon broke free from her mother in her own way, in her own time. With this first book, Braedon relentlessly pedals the reader to every corner of her heart and mind-both the bruised and the untouched. This sobering story will awaken you to the privilege of every day conveniences, the corruption of drugs and an unforgettable spirit-a matchless account of resilience and bravery that you won't forget.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

CPSIA Update

CPSIA Update: Testing Requirements Go Into Effect in February Unless Stay Is Extended 
Reprinted with permission of Publishers Weekly

As the children’s book industry approaches the two-year anniversary of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which was enacted in August 2008 and went into effect February 10, 2009, it continues to face many unresolved issues.
The most pressing is that a one-year stay of enforcement of the Act’s third-party testing requirements is set to end this coming February 10, even though the Consumer Product Safety Commission has not yet clarified how that testing should be accomplished. “We’re very concerned about that,” says Dan Bach, executive v-p of the Book Manufacturers Institute. “No clear guidelines have been given about what is a reasonable testing program.”
After launching the process of developing testing and certification requirements last December with a working session attended by industry representatives, the CPSC has issued two rule-making documents, which were followed by many comments and suggestions for changes from industry groups. However, it has not issued its final rule yet. Several industries, including the children’s book publishing and printing industries, have petitioned for an extension of another year to allow not only for a final rule to be published but for the industries involved to understand that rule and put systems in place to implement it.
“If the stay isn’t extended, it will be complete chaos, not only for us but for all manufacturers of children’s products,” says Gary Jones, assistant v-p, environmental, health and safety affairs, Printing Industries of America. “We would have to rely on the legislative language, which leaves a lot to be desired.”
“This has been an issue that has been recognized and anticipated by the regulated industries for some time,” says Allan Adler, v-p for legal and government affairs at the Association of American Publishers. “By Thanksgiving it became clear that even if the regulations came out, there would be no time to adapt and comply. Whichever side you’re on politically with regard to the Act, the extension is only a question of fairness now, since the major regulations haven’t been issued.” The stay was one of the main topics of a Senate Subcommittee hearing on CPSC oversight in December.
If the stay is not extended, publishers of novelty and book-plus formats for children 12 and under, as well as some “ordinary” ink-on-paper or board books—including those featuring spot and PMS inks, film laminates, foils, plastic coils, saddle-stitching wire, or accessible non-animal-based adhesives—must be able to show a Certificate of Compliance for each batch of books printed. The CoC is meant to prove that an independent, accredited lab has completed tests to determine that the products contain acceptable levels of lead (100 parts per million as of August 2011).
Children’s books printed after 1985 and consisting of paper or board, process inks, threads, and animal-based and non-accessible adhesives are not required to test, as those components have been deemed unlikely to contain lead; the books still must be “safe” as outlined in the Act. As of last August, all children’s books (ordinary and novelty) must feature permanent tracking labels on the product and packaging to verify product origin.
In practical terms, publishers of toy-like book-plus and novelty titles already have testing procedures in place—many retailers, especially on the mass/discount side, have their own stringent requirements—and most say they are as ready as they can be, given the lack of direction from the CPSC, for the requirements to go into effect. But publishers of ordinary paper books have never been required to test. “We were not regulated prior to CPSIA,” Adler points out.
Another issue that remains open is the fact that books printed in 1985 or earlier are also included under the law, and testing these older books is impractical and prohibitively expensive. Libraries and sellers of used children’s books continue to lend and sell older books and have been told by the Commission that they do not need to test, although they could still face liability under the Act as it now stands. “The Commission has said that libraries are not the target of the Act, but we would like this to be resolved,” says Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association’s Washington office. “Libraries are not interested in endangering children, but we’re also not interested in endangering their minds by not having books available.”
The industry continues not only to lobby the CPSC to exclude the remaining components of books from the testing requirements, but to push Congress to change the law. For example, it could exclude books entirely due to the low risk of lead contamination or give the CPSC more flexibility in granting exceptions. “The legislation needs to be fixed to give the CPSC the authority and comfort to exempt products in certain cases,” Jones says.
The new Republican-majority House of Representatives is likely to be more open to changing the Act. Rep. Jeffrey Fortenberry (R-Neb.) recently reintroduced House Resolution 272, which would amend the Act to exempt ordinary children’s books and printed materials. The proposed amendment was assigned to Committee on January 12. “We would be supportive of that,” Adler says of the amendment, “but we have no great expectations that it will pass.” He and other observers note that the Congress may be more apt to make legislative changes that improve the Act for all the myriad industries involved, rather than moving to exclude specific products.
Earlier this month, House staffers met with industry groups about the CPSIA. The staffers represented the new Republican members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which oversees CPSIA and is now headed by Fred Upton of Michigan, as well as staffers for former Chair Henry Waxman and Mary Bono-Mack, incoming Chair of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade. If the House were to revise the Act, many observers believe the Democrat-controlled Senate might follow suit.
However, the House Committee has stated that other issues under its jurisdiction, notably health care, are priorities, meaning it may be difficult to get the CPSIA on the agenda in the near future. In addition, the timing of any hearings on the Act would likely depend on when the Commission issues its final rule on testing, as well as whether the stay of enforcement is extended and for how long. “Having a hearing on the implementation of the Act probably wouldn’t make sense until we have the final rule on testing and certification and until we know the time frame we will have to adapt and comply,” Adler says.
For more on the history of the Act and its ramifications for book publishers, click here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Reviewer's Tip - How NOT to Impress Reviewers, Part 4

In our continuing "How Not to Impress Reviewers" tips, here are some more suggestions from another of Feathered Quill's reviewers.

What I hate - and it's not only coming from self-published books - I recently bought a Vince Flynn and a Clive Custler with this problem - there were SO many spelling and punctuation errors.  I think editors must have been fired lately.  It completely kills the reading experience for me.
Also, I know there are a lot of classes out there that tell writers to please be descriptive but some authors get carried away.  I read a book recently that used three pages to describe furniture in a room.  (And it wasn't a ghost story or a treasure hunt where you NEED to know what the room looks like.  It went on and on and on.)  Description is fine, but editing, again, would help.
One more - sometimes I think people use their synonym tab on Word or have a dictionary next to them because they'll say in one sentence - interesting, compelling, beguiling, etc.  Pick just one or two.
I hope this helps.
**By the way, I totally agree with imitations.  I know about Twilight but PLEASE stop with the vampires already...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Author Interview with Linda Boyden

Today we're talking with Linda Boyden, author of Giveaways: An ABC Book of Loanwords from the Americas

FQ: Let me start out with the fact that this book was the perfect match with the reviewer – a celebration of words…I love that! I noted that you read the dictionary for fun and entertainment, wasn't it hard narrowing down which words to use? How, exactly, did you pick just one for each letter of the alphabet?

Great question, Amy, and you are right…I did have a wrestling match on my hands with this issue. However, my primary resource book for this project was not the dictionary (though it was a vital secondary reference). What piqued my curiosity initially was a lovely and geeky book, O Brave New Words by Charles S. Cutler. This delightful read turned me on to the vast contribution Native languages have made to American English. As a “recovering” teacher, I knew very well that many of our place names and state names were derived form Native words, but I did not want to use any of them. I had to resort to one, though, Fani Lusa Bayou, for the “F” page because the sound of F is not contained in most Native languages.

Further, I selected words that reflected the vast geographic diversity I was working with, plus I wanted to vary the categories from animals and food to weather patterns and myths. BTW, readers will notice I have two S entries: I couldn’t chose between them, so I sent both to my editor, Clark Whitehorn at the University of New Mexico Press and his team for final approval and they surprised me by allowing both!

FQ: I realize that you live in California now, however you were published by the UNM Press. Have you ever lived in the Land of Enchantment? Living here, myself, I find that the Native American culture inspires people a great deal with their writing.

Sadly, I have never been lucky enough to live in New Mexico. I did get to visit Albuquerque for a weekend during a Wordcraft Circle (an international Native American writing organization) writing conference a few years ago and was utterly enchanted. I agree the Native influence there is strong, as well as the Hispanic influence, of course. By coincidence, the illustrator of my first book, The Blue Roses (recipient of Lee & Low Books’ first New Voices award, 2000), Amy Cordova (who recently won a Pura Bupre Honor Award for Fiesta Babies, written by Carmen Tafolla) lives in New Mexico. Her Southwestern style of illustrating brought my words to life.

FQ: Frank McCourt once said that when he came to the US and walked into the NYPL, that was “it” for him. He couldn’t believe they would allow him to sit and read all day. In your bio I read that you had a similar experience with your first library card…showing you your path…could you tell our readers a little about that?

At a 2010 storytelling performance at the Barnes & Noble, Reno NV. for
Powwow's Coming. Ms. Boyden is in her Cherokee Tear dress,
showing a sage bundle.
My hometown library is the Richards Memorial Library in North Attleboro, MA. It is still in operation and I visit when I go back east. I was a loner as a child and the library was my refuge. I’d walk there after school and on Saturdays and camp out in the Children’s Room to read, read, read! At that time, I read mostly fairy tales (The Red Fairy Tale Book, etc.) with a side order of the Bobbsey Twins and Little Women or anything that caught my eye. Every summer break my BFF and I would race to see how many library cards we could use up. This was in the late 1950s--60s when the dates of the checked out books were stamped on our library cards. I think one summer we each read over 50 titles and probably used up two or 3 cards.

As an adult, I still haunt my local library a few times a week. Nothing is more soothing than to wander the stacks and smell the good book smells. As author, Gary Paulsen says, “Read like a wolf eats.”

FQ: You write and illustrate children’s books, can you let us in on what the next one might be, or what project you’re working on now?

I am trying to cross genres and one of my current works-in-progress is a Middle Grade novel (for kids ages 8 & up) starring a twelve year old Cherokee boy who resents having to learn traditional Cherokee ways until he discovers he is the only one who can save his family, and maybe the whole world from dire circumstances. In it I weave contemporary Cherokee kids with traditional Cherokee customs and mythology. I also have an historical fiction biography and any number of picture book manuscripts in my queue. What I don’t have yet is an agent…sigh.

FQ: The research of these indigenous loanwords from North, South, and Central America was quite in-depth – even adding climates, first settlers, etc. Is your love of history as large as your love of words? (i.e. are you a history geek, too?)

Absolutely. I think in a previous life I was either an historian or a reference librarian. I love historical fiction and biographies of famous figures from the past. Did you know Richard the Lion-Hearted was wed to Berengaria of Navarre? She was reported to be of amazing beauty, though history records her as the queen who never set foot in England (there were crusades and Richard’s philandering to keep them separate). I wanted to give a daughter her beautiful name, but alas that got vetoed. Instead, one of our dogs received it.

FQ: On your website, and from your previous books, Native American culture is of great interest to you. Is that part of your own genealogical background?

Yes, though not enrolled in any Indian Nation, I am of Cherokee, Irish and French Canadian ancestries. I am a long time member of Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers & Storytellers, a great group of Native artists who work hard to keep Native storytelling traditions alive and well, as well as to provide a forum for Native writers. One of our goals is to return the gifts we have been given to others and particularly to the younger generation. Wordcraft Circle is committed to mentoring and supporting each other.

FQ: Book signings must be especially fun, because children are so inquisitive by nature. Can you tell us any stories about the kid's feedback? Is there something especially rewarding about writing for this age group?

Giveaways signing in Redding, CA
I spent the first half of my life as a primary teacher, and so helped set many kids on their paths to literacy. Moving into children’s literature was a no-brainer for me because I love both the field and the age group. The rewarding thing? Kids are honest readers: if a book doesn’t engage them, bam, it’s history! On the positive side, if a kid loves a book, s/he will tuck it with them under their blankets, read it till the pages wear out and share it with friends.

Giveaways is still so new I haven’t had many school visits with it yet. However, last year I took a few illustrations along as a sneak peek. One little guy kept touching the I is for Iguana picture and complained, “But it’s flat? What? Why? How come?”

I explained my medium, cut-paper collage, produces a 3-D effect that copies in flat 2-dimenson. Copies do have shadowy edges. Because kids are all about touchy-feely, when their fingers feel the flat surface, they become flummoxed.

A poignant feedback happened after I read my first book, The Blue Roses (Lee & Low Books, 2002) to a group in Hawai’i. A little girl came up and hugged me and said, “I love this book, Aunty, because Rosalie (my protagonist) looks just like me. See?”

Traditionally, books about Indians have not portrayed us in a positive light. I am proud that my works do two things: 1. They help to dispel the old stereotypes about Native Americans that are still prevalent today so non-Indian kids gain new knowledge and 2. Native kids read them and feel more positive about themselves and their traditions (e.g. my second book, Powwow's Coming (UNMPresss, 2007) introduces the powwow tradition to young readers).

FQ: I have to ask, because you certainly opened the door, do you have a favorite word?

So hard! It’s like asking me what’s my favorite book or movie! Probably the one word that has changed my life most is: IF…that tiny word contains a vast world of possibilities.

To learn more about Giveaways: An ABC Book of Loanwords from the Americas please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Advice on Finding a Reviewer

Excellent advice on finding reviewers on the internet.  Written by Irene Watson of ReaderViews.  10 Criteria for Finding Book Reviewers

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted

Healing and Transformation Through Self Guided Imagery Tapping into the heart's wisdom through creative visualization is an ancient practice, but today guided imagery is used as an adjunct to conventional medical therapies for health issues ranging from cancer and heart disease to post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction. This inspiring guide provides contemporary techniques for using it to transform moments of pain, emotional turmoil, and interpersonal conflict into opportunities for growth and self-realization.

Zor: Philosophy, Spirituality, and Science "Zor" explores the relationship between philosophy, spirituality, and science by asking one simple question; where do you turn when life's core beliefs become suspect? That is the dilemma confronting Jonathan Brewster, a middle aged money manager from Boston, whose "chance" meeting with a Haitian dwarf named Zor, spirals out of control. Forced to defend his life in a series of intense debates concerning negative ch'i, emotional addictions, neuron networks, placebos, vipassana meditation, the collective unconscious, laws of attraction, sub-atomic entanglement, Nietzche, metta, God, and happiness; John is reluctantly drawn to a new reality. Rising above his crisis of conscience he restructures his life for the greater good, only to be challenged by the ultimate betrayal.

Gift of the Magpie When Max falls in love with Regina--a magpie with a fetish for shoes--he thinks of the many ways to make her smile. The two spend the summer together, searching for food and footwear, while laughing until their feathers shake.
From cowboy boots to penny loafers and pearly pumps, Max hopes to find the perfect shoe for building a nest. But after he surprises Regina with an old sneaker, she takes flight. Brokenhearted, he joins a new flock, and Regina wonders if he will return. Will these two lonely love birds ever reunite? Janeen Mason's vibrant illustrations, set to warm backgrounds of blushing pinks and reds, are the perfect complement to this sweet love story.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Today Show Ignores Caldecott/Newbery Winners

For regular readers of this blog, you may remember I recently lamented the publication of books by celebrities, many of whom are not exactly known for their writing skills.  Case in point was a book by  "The Situation" of Jersey Shore fame.  But now the Today Show has overlooked winners of both the Caldecott and Newbery in favor of, are you ready?  Snooki from Jersey Shore!  Okay, this young lady can barely form a coherent sentence, now she's a writer?  And she's more important than winners of two very prestigious awards?  Puh-leeeese!!!!
Here's the article from Publishers Weekly:

Reprinted with permission of Publishers Weekly
No 'Today Show' for Vanderpool or Stead

It’s become a tradition that, the day after the Youth Media awards are announced at ALA’s midwinter meeting, the Newbery and Caldecott Medal winners, along with an ALA representative, are interviewed live on the Today Show, at NBC’s studios in New York City. But this past Tuesday, those hoping to catch the first nationally televised interviews with Clare Vanderpool and Erin Stead were disappointed. For the first time in 11 years, there was no special coverage featuring the Newbery and Caldecott Medalists. 
With the national television news outlets providing wall-to-wall media coverage since Saturday of the tragedy in Tucson, it’s not surprising that two children’s book award winners would be overlooked during a week of breaking news. But, to some who tuned into the Today Show on Tuesday morning expecting to see the Newbery and Caldecott Medalists, insult seemed added to injury. The program did indeed take a break from its coverage of the shootings during the second hour to interview an author. But it was an author who's not likely to win a prestigious literary award any time soon: Nicole Polizzi, better known to the world as Snooki, the Jersey Shore star more famous for her trash talk and wild partying rather than her literary chops.
The eight-minute interview in no way could be mistaken for an interview with a typical author, with host Matt Lauer asking Polizzi such questions as whether she actually wrote the book herself, and the meanings of some of the slang words used in the text, such as “weenis” (part of elbow) and badonk” (a large posterior).
What happened? Did—as the January 12 headline on Monica Edinger’s blog post on the Huffington Post suggested—Snooki bump this year’s Newbery and Caldecott winners from the Today Show’s roster?
In response to the growing number of bloggers and Twitterers posting complaints and asking questions on Wednesday, ALA/YALSA communications specialist Stephanie Kuenn posted a statement Wednesday evening on the ALA’s YALSA blog, disclosing the ALA had pitched a segment featuring the Newbery and Caldecott Medal winners, together with YALSA president Sarah Debraski, and that they’d been turned down, because of a “lack of interest and scheduling problems.”
For their part, Megan Kopf, a Today Show spokesperson, explained that a segment could not be scheduled this year, because “the show was booked the entire week.”
In what perhaps was a subconscious effort to soothe the ruffled feathers of publishers and readers who might be annoyed with the Today Show’s passing up the Newbery and Caldecott Medalists in favor of Snooki, Kopf added that the show “does more book segments in a given year than any other television show,” and “supports the publishing industry with initiatives like Al’s Book Club for Kids and Read for the Record.”
Reaction to Today’s decision is mixed among book publishing industry publicists. One publicist, who wished to remain anonymous, told PW, “It makes me sick as a children’s book person, that the Newbery and Caldecott Medal winners segment was scrapped, and Snooki got on [instead]. But as a publicist, I understand — Snooki equals ratings.” Another pointed out, “The media love to write that people aren’t reading any more, but when they overlook Newbery and Caldecott winners and interview Snooki, what do they expect?”
It’s traditional that Newbery and Caldecott Medal winners travel to New York City immediately after the ALA’s announcement for media interviews and publisher celebrations; this year’s two winners were no exception. Vanderpool flew into New York City from her home in Wichita, Kans., and Stead from her home in Ann Arbor, Mich.; both expected to drop by the Today Show’s studios Tuesday morning.

“We were particularly anxious to make the travel arrangements because of the pending storm,” explained Liz Hartman, executive director of publicity and institutional marketing at Macmillan Children’s Publishing, who coordinated Stead's impromptu flight Monday. Although Stead didn’t get to be interviewed live on national television as her publisher and she had anticipated, Hartman said, “It all worked out great. “We had a special lunch for her, with a Champagne toast. And Erin did a lot of phone interviews.”