Monday, February 28, 2011

Author Interview with Nick Trout

Today we're talking with Nick Trout, author of Ever By My Side: A Memoir in Eight [Acts] Pets

FQ: In your book, you talk about your grandmother's nasty little toy poodle, Marty. Your grandmother obviously adored that dog while he tended to show you another side of his personality. Did your parents ever catch him being mean to you?

My parents were wary of Marty from the get go, warning me to keep my distance, to look but don't touch. Marty instilled fear in all children with his shrill bark and throaty grumble if you went near him. Consequently I tried not to get too close and there was nothing for my parents to catch. I did learn a useful lesson - what's the point of having a pet you cannot pet?

FQ: Any idea why your mother was so against having a dog in the house? Was it something from her childhood or did she just not want the mess that goes along with having a dog?

Her first reason was the cost and responsibility of keeping a dog - my parents were broke, she worried they couldn't afford another mouth to feed. Then there was the fact that her husband conspired with her mother-in-law to get a dog without her consent. My mother needed to save face, to maintain a fa├žade of disapproval, and all the while she was falling for our first dog, a wonderful German Shepherd named Patch.

FQ: I was touched by how your mother slowly came around to the dogs and in the end, I think, secretly love them. Did she ever admit her affection to you or your dad?

I have caught my mother being proud of her dogs, concerned about their health and physically affectionate to them but to this day, she still says "no more dogs, Duncan!" Four dogs later I don't know why she bothers!

FQ: You include some very touching/sad events in your book, such as dealing with Patch's slow decline and death. Was it hard reliving these episodes as you wrote the book?

Yes, it was sad writing about the last year of Patch's life, but for me it provides an important lesson I try to pass on to so many pet owners who face similar end of life decisions with their animals. My father and I (I was still a teenager) conspired to keep this dog alive, when he was in decline and losing his dignity. Sometimes it is not the things you do but the things you don't do that leave a lasting impression. I remember too much of the last year of Patch's life and not enough of the first twelve. Patch stays with me as a constant reminder that after all our pets do for us, sometimes we have to accept some pain so that they no longer have to.

FQ: You also include some personal family trials such as your daughter's illness. Was it a difficult decision to include such personal struggles?

No, it wasn't. My daughter has cystic fibrosis, an incurable, genetic disease. For any family it is a life changing diagnosis. It has also changed my perspective on so much of what I do for a living (hopefully for the better), so it had to be included. Besides, it was a big part in why we got a crazy yellow Labrador named Meg.

FQ: We learn in the book that you had the honor of meeting the real Dr. Herriot. Would you tell our readers a little about that experience?

I met Alf Wight at his practice in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, while I was waiting to hear whether or not I was going to be accepted to veterinary school. I was one of several fans hoping for a brief chat and a signature. What amazed me was the way he seemed to be astounded, almost embarrassed by all the attention. This common touch, this ability to be so ordinary, only made him seem even more extraordinary to me.

FQ: Are you working on another book now and/or concentrating on your veterinarian practice?

Ever By My Side is my third book and now I find it hard to stop writing. I still work full time as a surgical specialist at Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston, but I am working on a new project involving a fictional veterinarian.

To learn more about Ever By My Side: A Memoir in Eight [Acts] Pets please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted

Point Deception In August 1956 a troubled teen-age boy runs away from home, seeking the grand adventures he has only read about. Lying about his age he enlists in the Coast Guard at fourteen. A decade later, his career takes him to Vietnam where he is awarded the Silver Star Medal for gallantry. Returning home, he begins a new career as an undercover narcotics agent. Undergoing torture when his cover is blown, he prays for rescue.

The Iron Butterfly: Memoir of a Martial Arts Master Choon-Ok Harmon was born soon after the Korean War, when South Korea was experiencing extreme poverty. This memoir describes the hardships she tried to overcome to achieve a better life. She moves to the U.S. and, through patience and perseverance, pursues her dream of becoming a martial artist.

Someone Will Be With You Shortly The candid and comical Kogan is willing to admit that she has never once thrown a decent dinner party, aced a confrontation with her evil neighbor, or worn a tankini in pubic.

Abandon Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can't help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she's never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back. But now she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid. Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back. She knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven, yet she can't stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most. But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

Dog Walks Man John and his dog Pete transform the dog walking experience from being a grind to serving as an inspirational return to boyhood and its "fringe places" like woods, abandoned lots and railroad right-of-ways.

Inside New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak has penned over 40 novels. A two-time Rita nominee, she's won The National Reader's Choice, The Bookseller's Best, The Bookbuyer's Best and many other awards. She runs an annual on-line auction for diabetes research every May at To date, she’s raised over $1 million. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life.

Simple, Fresh & Healthy: A Collection of Seasonal Recipes At the end of the day, gather around the table for a simple, fresh, and healthy meal. That's Linda Hafner's no-fail formula for a thriving family. With her farm-fresh focus and divide-and-conquer strategy, it's entirely do-able, even for those with the busiest schedules.Linda has developed a repertoire of simple, delicious, and visually stunning recipes that celebrate local seasonal produce. She's a master at cooking in easy increments, so that meals come together in a flash at the end of a busy day. In the time it takes to cook a pound of pasta, Linda can prepare her vibrant Pure Plum Tomato Sauce from scratch. Her signature After-Dinner Salad is much easier, and more nutritious than a prepackaged salad mix drenched in preservatives and processed salad dressing.And, while fresh, healthy meals are Linda's priority, she's also famous for fabulous, indulgent desserts such as her Sublime Strawberry Trifle and Happy Birthday Chocolate Cake. With Linda, it's all about finding the balance between nourishing the body and fueling the family spirit.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Author Interview with Jennifer Talbot Ross

Today we're talking with Jennifer Talbot Ross, author of The Story of Moses

FQ: You mention early in the book that it was important to introduce the reader first to the other dogs in your life before meeting Moses. What made you decide to include all your special friends rather than simply write a book about one dog?

I actually did not start out with the intention of writing a book at all. Initially, I was just journaling through Moses' illness. As his death became imminent, I kept journaling simply as a means of channeling the grief. Then, I began to experience a desire to find a way to let Moses' life and death make a difference to others, to allow him to live on in some way. As this desire came over me, I realized that I may never have even looked for Moses if there had not been Odin in my life and how all of the dogs in my adult life were truly related. I could not tell the story of one without the others. Even so, it was several months after the manuscript was finished that I made the decision to publish and put the story out in the world.

Cleo and Odin
FQ: I loved the story of Cleo and her big rawhide bone vs. the doggie door. After that first incident, did she ever try that type of exit again?

Ah - that was a funny scene. Though we did spoil her with the large chews a few other times in the future, we gave them to her outside so there wouldn't be the problem of getting them through the doggie door. However, she would try to come back inside with the chew ... though not as humorous, as the drive to come inside was not as strong as that drive to initially run outdoors with the newly prized possession. She would just turn around and decide to stay outdoors to enjoy her prize.

FQ: In addition to all the anecdotes, you include a fair amount of information on each breed, including AKC standards. Was it important to you to include this factual information? What do you hope the reader will gain from it?

Sometimes people get stuck on one breed, or they don't even realize the differences in the many breeds that are out there. I felt it important to present the reader with the factual breed information in addition to my opinions, feelings, descriptions of the breeds -- to reinforce, as well, that there are resources on which to base decisions concerning choices in pets and what those resources provide.

FQ: There are several mentions to spending time searching the Internet for puppies/dogs. Do you still find yourself searching popular sites for dogs in need of love?

Yes, I'm afraid I'm very afflicted. I have to force myself to turn away. The people that work with the rescue groups and handle multiple fosters are truly angels. I wish I could do more. I am gravitated to every pet adoption event I see, knowing I cannot add another dog to our family at this point. I still want to see them, look in their eyes, speak sweetly to them, say a prayer, try to come up with someone I know that might want to adopt. And, of course, make a donation. I also watch every dog show I can on television and cheer on my favorites!
Bess and Moses

FQ: I was very touched by the story of how Samantha helped you through your panic attacks. Would you share with us a few other examples of how your dogs helped you through hard times?

Before I met my husband, George, Cleo was my constant companion. When I was sick, she would not leave my side. Even after George and I married, there was a rough patch in my life where I was not working and having a very difficult time with that - such that I did not want to get out of bed for a few days. Again, Cleo was there, my ever-present, non-judgmental friend. Each of my dogs has been a source of joy and inspiration. Every day that I would come home from work feeling like a Mac truck had been run over me and backed up and done it again, when I walked through the door and was met with smiling faces, wagging tails, and sloppy, dog kisses, I knew everything was alright. Still, to this day, being greeted so enthusiastically by my crew grounds me like nothing else I know.

Pax Getting A Kiss
FQ: Reading about Moses attending his first "Pyr Picnic in the Park," I felt as if I knew him and was quite proud of his achievements that day. What was that day like for you?

Well, my parents had a kennel, raising show-quality German Shepherds. It is, of course, somewhat "elite" in the dog world to be involved in that realm. As a dog lover, and being exposed to what "showing" is about, I had always wished, fantasized about having a dog that I could groom and show and would be awarded these special titles. They are special. However, spending the money on a purebred with just the right qualities and going through all the competitions, etc., was something I'd never do. That "Pyr Picnic in the Park" gave me the opportunity to "live the dream." It was a very special day for me and for Moses. I was so proud of him -- not only how he "handled and moved" in the ring, but getting his therapy dog certification was the absolute pinnacle! What an honor. And, he certainly was the man-about-town for that day. He loved the attention so. And his ribbons are still proudly displayed in my home.

FQ: You talk about the importance of rescue groups in your book. What would you tell our readers today who are looking to add a dog to their lives?

Bess and Samantha vs. a Giant Paper Roll
I would say to do your homework -- read up on the various types of dogs and their needs, understand your lifestyle and what you want from a dog and what you're willing to do. I would also say, if at all possible, get two dogs so that they have company apart from their humans. The dogs will be much happier, which means a lot less headaches for the owner. If you are stuck on a particular breed, there are many breed-specific rescue groups - many. Otherwise, there are also many pet rescue groups that have dogs of "colorful" backgrounds. These dogs can be just as loving and wonderful as the purebreds. My veterinarian told me that he often felt that mixed-breed dogs tend to exhibit the best of both breeds - which we saw in our Odin. At that point, it's best to decide if a small, medium, or large dog is what you're after. The volunteers with the pet rescue groups will also offer advice. But, know that a dog is a responsibility to be taken seriously. Also, if someone is not quite sure, they can offer to foster a dog through one of the pet rescues and in that way get to know the dog(s) better before making the forever commitment of pet ownership.

FQ: Captain, the little neurotic terrier, vs. Moses, the laid-back, giant Pyrenees. How funny they must have looked together. Did they ever have any further run-ins after that first, loud roar from Moses?

The Whole Gang Waiting for Their Walks
This was a very interesting dynamic. As described in the book, Moses truly did not get involved in the "drama" of Captain until Captain forced it. After that one encounter, Captain never again challenged Moses in any way. When Captain walked in our home it was as though he had blinders on (like a race horse). He would look forward and pretend not to notice Moses, which was just fine with Moses, too. Moses did not hold a grudge, he really didn't want to have to insert his dominance, he just wanted to co-exist. When they were together, Captain respected Moses and his space, and Moses left Captain alone.

FQ: As a horse owner, I know that white horses are more susceptible to certain cancers than their darker colored stablemates. Is it the same with white pyrenees?

I'm not sure about cancers. But, I do know that Pyrenees, because of the pigmentation, are very susceptible to sunburn. Many people, unadvisedly, will shave the Pyrenees down to the skin in summer, intending to help with the heat. However, because of their light, skin pigmentation, it only serves to expose them to extreme sun damage. It is better to allow the hair, especially on their top-side, to provide cover to their skin. Shaving the under-belly can help to make them cooler without exposing them directly to the sun's rays. The Great Pyrenees is susceptible to luxating patella issues with their knees and to hemangiosarcoma (like Moses) and bone cancers (like many large-breed dogs) but I'm not aware that any of those issues are directly related to their pigmentation.
Moses, Pax, and Bess

FQ: What would you tell anyone thinking of adding a pyrenees to their household? Cautions? Pros. vs. cons?

I would say first and foremost that you must be ready to enjoy dog hair as a condiment (and not be into black - or be ready to have your beloved black pants covered in long, white hair). You must not be the type of person that has to have everything in their house in order and perfectly clean. These are large dogs with lots of hair. Leaves and brush attach themselves to the dogs and get carried in. It's a fact of life. You need to be aware that these dogs are extremely intelligent and strong-willed. You do not force a Great Pyrenees into submission. It doesn't happen. However, they are extremely gentle, loving and devoted. If you earn their respect, you have a friend and protector for life.

We have our dogs in Texas - which can be brutally hot. They certainly love the air-conditioning, however their coats actually act as insulation to the heat. Though they are white, their coats shed dirt naturally, so there is not a lot of "cleaning" needed -- just let them dry off and the dirt falls off. Brushing, though, is important to avoid matting in the coat. We generally brush at least once/month when they are bathed.

Pax and Samantha Getting Loved

Most Great Pyrenees are great with other dogs, cats, and children (though there are exceptions). Also, as with any large dog, left unattended and untrained they can be very destructive. I found with several of my dogs that it was almost a competition, that I was going to outwit them each step of the way so that they couldn't destroy the yard, destroy the furniture, etc. If you truly are in tune with your dog and one step ahead and patient (like with a child), you can ensure that all will be well between you. Also, to contain a Pyrenees you need to have a tall, secure fence as these guys tend to roam if they find freedom. It's in their blood, being livestock guard dogs they wander the country-side watching over flocks. But, I can tell you there's nothing like a big, Pyr hug. There's nothing like those soulful eyes. There's nothing like a massive, strong companion who's got your back because he knows you've got his.

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

Monday, February 21, 2011

Author Interview with Dan Goeller

Today we're talking with Dan Goeller, who has put a fresh spin on Oscar Wilde's classic tale, The Selfish Giant.

FQ: You offer such a unique and interesting perspective on the retold tale of Oscar Wilde’s, The Selfish Giant.  What inspired you to choose this particular tale to work on?

I remember hearing this story when I was a child.  I rediscovered it after reading it to my two young daughters.  I thought the beauty of Wilde's narrative and the compelling nature of the story would make it a perfect choice for adaptation as a musical composition for symphony orchestra and narrator. 

FQ: This entire work simple oozes perfection with its musical adaptation, illustrations, and narrative.  How did the collaboration between you, Chris Beatrice, and Martin Jarvis come about?

Illustrator Chris Beatrice
As I began composing the musical score, I thought that original illustrations would perfectly complement the musical adaptation.  So I began looking online through children's picture book professional illustrators' portfolios and was astounded by the artwork of Chris Beatrice.  His illustrations jumped off the screen and stood out among other illustrators' work.  I contacted Chris' agent, who put me directly in touch with him.  Just a week before my contacting him, Chris received a collection of Victorian fairy tales that included The Selfish Giant.  Although he was not previously familiar with the story, when I contacted him, Chris was intrigued by the prospect of illustrating the story.

In addition to having illustrations to accompany live orchestral concerts of The Selfish Giant, I thought creating a hardcover picture book with audio CD would provide more children with an opportunity to experience this unique fusion of literature, art and music.  So I began an exhaustive search for the perfect narrator for the recording.  Martin Jarvis' name kept appearing as one of the best known and well-respected talents in the audiobook genre.  So as I did in contacting Chris Beatrice's agent, I took a chance and contacted Martin's agent.  Martin graciously accepted.  I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to collaborate with these two incredibly gifted men on this project.

FQ: Are there any upcoming books planned for Noteworthy Books?  If so, can you give us a little hint as to what we might expect?

When and what we are able to offer in future releases largely depends on how The Selfish Giant goes.  I started Noteworthy Books as a way of offering high-quality picture books with audio CD recordings that cultivate an interest in literature, music and visual art in children of all ages.  If The Selfish Giant does well enough to provide the financial resources for future projects, I envision doing a series of symphonic pieces and illustrated books based on characters from American folklore.  These tall tales characters would offer Chris Beatrice and I some interesting characters to bring to life.  I am also interested in exploring the various musical styles that could help illustrate some of these classic characters: like Blues and African-American Spirituals for John Henry or Latin American dances and percussion for Pecos Bill.

FQ: You are the composer of the music for this book.  Can you tell us a bit about yourself and in particular, the music for this work?

After college, I spent almost 12 years in Nashville where I worked as a composer, arranger, orchestrator, conductor and producer on print music and recording projects. My work in the music business also included national tours with artists like Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Nickel Creek and others.  When our second daughter was born, my wife and I decided that we wanted to move closer to family.  So we resettled in the Midwest and I established my music publishing company.  I compose mostly print music for choirs and orchestras and also travel to guest conduct my works.  The Selfish Giant is my first extended orchestral work designed specifically for educational outreach and family concerts.  But with publishing it as a picture book and CD, I am hopeful that I will have the opportunity to continue composing these types of pieces that can be enjoyed by children of all ages.

FQ: The work on The Selfish Giant was obviously a labor of love.  Seldom does any work such as this one come easy.  You told me you send out more than two hundred books to reviewers and others who could promote your work.  Would you like to tell us about some of the “glitches” you had in the process.

Author Dan Goeller

I established my independent music publishing company a few years ago, so some of that experience prepared me for my work with Noteworthy Books.  But the music and book publishing industries are very different.  I continue sending out many books to people who I think might be able to generate interest in this unique project.  The amount of time and money I have invested in marketing and promoting this project, in addition to the production cost, is a bit unexpected.  But if you create something that you believe in, you want to see it connect with people who might appreciate it, so that's something you have to plan for in advance. 

One of the best decisions I made was hiring a fantastic consultant, a very talented and knowledgeable author named Darcy Pattison from Little Rock, Arkansas.  Without her, I would not have been able to navigate through the complicated and challenging world of book publishing.

FQ: At times there is not enough time in the day to thank all the people who help us in our ventures.  Perhaps you’d like to take the opportunity to tell us about a few of them here and extend your thanks.

My wife, Heidi, has been my biggest encouragement in this process.  Without her, I would not have taken on this tremendous challenge.  My two girls helped inspire this effort, and they are thanked on the dedication page of the book.  Darcy Pattison, who I previously mentioned as my consultant, has helped me make wise choices and also encouraged me to follow through (every step of the way) on this worthwhile endeavor.  I'm also greatly appreciative to Bob Clark, the audio engineer who recorded and mixed the audio CD, and his wife Joanie who have been so enthusiastic about the Giant.  In addition to these, there are so many friends and family members who have been supportive.... too many to name.  I am blessed to have so many people who are genuinely willing to help support my effort to share a love of music, art and literature with others.  

To read Feathered Quill's review of The Selfish Giant, please visit our website.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted

Berried in Chocolate: How I Built a Multimillion-Dollar Business by Doing What I Love to Do and How You Can Too With no business education or experience, twenty-five-year-old Fitzpatrick had only a $1,500 cash advance and a passion for chocolate-dipped strawberries when she started a home-based business. Today, she is the founder of a multimillion-dollar company and the owner of the Berry Factory, which provides the nation with her brand of gourmet berries. She has built a lucrative career simply by doing what she loves, and now she shares her secrets and tips so you can too. In this accessible and enthusiastic guide, Fitzpatrick reveals her triumphs and failures, offering useful strategies and skills to create and maintain a business.

How the West Was Drawn: Cowboy Charlie's Art From the time he was a small a child, Charles Marion Russell loved cowboys and Indians. He grew up to become the first Western artist to actually live what he painted, and it shows in his art. Even historians turn to his work when they want a visualization of the Old West. This artistic journey is filled with the rather unusual stories of the cowboy artist who carried paints and pencils in his saddlebag and sculpted animals out of beeswax and mud. Russell's incredibly realistic representations of Montana in the 1800s are accompanied by questions and prompts, allowing children to crawl into his paintings through imagination and their senses. The history also includes a timeline of Russell's life and encourages parents and teachers to use Cowboy Charlie's work to help teach writing, history, and art.

Irish Alphabet Rickey Pittman, 1998 grand prize winner of the prestigious Ernest Hemingway Short Story Competition, is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Camp Thomas McGuire, in West Monroe, Louisiana. He is also a Civil War reenactor, a public speaker on issues and topics related to the War Between the States, and a musician who travels and performs original and Civil War-period music. He lives with his wife in Bastrop, Louisiana, where he works as a freelance writer and editor.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

IndieBookMan Show podcast #9: Amazon

This week, we take a trip to the Amazon. Well, to, anyway. The book-selling giant, not the South American jungle.

Join us as we explore the ins-and-outs of using Amazon. Is it good for indie publishing, or is Jeff Bezos and his gang greedily enriching themselves on the backs of writers and publishers? To find out, we speak this week with:
  • Jeff Waxman, founder of Against Amazon. Find out why he is against Amazon and why he is convinced that — once you know what he knows — you will be too.
  • We speak with a publisher and 2 authors about their feelings about using Amazon’s services to sell their books:Each weighs in on how Amazon is working for them
  • And we close things out with our weekly call to Karl Brown, who gives us his thoughts on “The Big A,” and if it’s good for an indie author or not.
    Special thanks this week to Kenobi for the use of their music.
  • We will be off next week, but back on March 2nd with our 10th episode, “Guerilla Marketing.” We will explore techniques and tactics for marketing your book using sweat and creativity instead of a huge marketing budget. Make sure you catch us on March 2nd for that.
    And now, please enjoy Amazon: iTunes:
Brad Grochowski
The IndieBookMan

Which Borders Stores Will Close?

Will it be a Borders near you?  Here's a link to a list of the stores that are closing.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Borders Files for Bankruptcy

It's official - Borders has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  The news is all over the net.  Does this mean the beginning of the end of mega-bookstores?  Barnes&Noble is rumored to be in trouble too.  Will this help the Mom&Pop small bookstores?  Or are they all destined to go away in favor of Amazon and other online sites?  Personally, there's something about spending an hour or so browsing in a bookstore that you just can't get from Amazon.  Anyway, here's one of many articles on Border's problems, this one from The NYTimes.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Author Interview with Dianne de las Casas

Today we're talking with Dianne de las Casas, author of There's a Dragon in the Library

FQ: As the daughter of a career librarian this was an absolute joy to read for me. Were you a "constant" in the library when you were a kid?

I lived all over the world as a child and didn't always have access to American television, which was probably a good thing. It encouraged me to fuel my imagination by going to the library and immersing myself in books. It was the discovery of books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, and Dorrie the Witch that began my insatiable appetite for children's books.

I even began my storytelling career in the library. First, I was a volunteer, doing Saturday story times. As my repertoire and boldness grew, so did my audiences. From there, I branched out into the world of professional storytelling. My book, There's a Dragon in the Library, is an ode to the fantastical world of libraries, books, and imagination.

FQ: I realize that you also are a recording artist. Do you perform at various children's events?

I have recorded three award-winning children's storytelling audios. You can say that my storytelling has taken me places! I perform at events around the world. I feel very blessed that being an author and storyteller is my full-time job. How cool is that?!

FQ: Your website is incredible. What got you into storytelling and artistic literacy programs for kids?

Thank you for your kind words regarding my website. I have a fantastic web designer, Heidi Hafner, who does AMAZING work on my site. I love how the arts can change the way children perceive learning and literacy. Knowing this, I decided to make it my mission to reach children through the art of storytelling. In this capacity, I perform storytelling programs and author visits for kids. I am passionate about my work and feel a special connection with children. I would love for every child to grow up not only knowing how to read but LOVING the act of reading.

FQ: I also see that both your daughters have their own websites? You must be amazingly proud of their talents!

My 20 year old daughter, Soleil, is in her third year at Louisiana State University as a graphic design and illustration major. She is very artistic. She's a talented illustrator and make-up artist. Soleil has illustrated several of my professional titles as well as done graphic design work for me. I can't wait to see where life takes her.

My 10 year old daughter, Eliana, is a kid chef. She has authored a cookbook for kids called Eliana Cooks! Recipes for Creative Kids. She has a website, a Facebook fan page, and she tweets. She's always in the kitchen and is working on her next cookbook. She performs cooking demonstrations for families and signs lots of books - at ten years old! My girls are phenomenal and I am very proud of them.

FQ: You travel all over the globe. Is there a certain place that you love visiting again and again?

I tend to visit the Philippines pretty often. My mom is from the Philippines and it is the country of my birth. I have a great fan following in the Philippines and I love seeing my family when I visit. There are so many places in the world I haven't visited! My bucket list includes: Africa, Australia, Greece, and China.

FQ: I see you also have a line of professional books for the teacher or librarian. Encouraging literacy and helping students achieve better grades and higher goals through art and creativity is an amazing goal. Has this always been your dream?

I love teaching educators and librarians about the power of storytelling. My professional resource titles use storytelling as a foundation to teach across the curriculum. What is incredible is the exponential power of teaching educators. If I train 30 educators in a single workshop, they will, in turn, use the techniques with a class of 30 kids. They may use the techniques throughout the course of their teaching career. When I think of my "legacy," that is what I think about. I had a teacher who encouraged my gifts and loved me unconditionally. Now I want to pay it forward. Maybe I can touch a teacher in way that helps her reach a child. That kind of power is the gift that keeps on giving.

It has always been my dream, since the second grade, to write books for children. I am living that dream now and am very grateful for the many blessings bestowed upon me.

Please also check out my blog about our book launch party for There's a Dragon in the Library this past weekend:

There are also a ton of fun book activities to accompany our book, There's a Dragon in the Library.

To learn more about There's a Dragon in the Library please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

How to get into a hassle-free routine on twitter with Buffer [Review]

Guest post by Leonhard Widrich of :

Different to many posts I have read on this blog, the following will not review a book. Instead, let me introduce you to a new tool that will make your tweets consistent, without any additional efforts in your daily routine.

Buffer is different to many other tweet scheduling tools you might know, a more intuitive approach to be efficient on twitter. A core characteristic of Buffer is that you remain a genuine person on twitter, not turning into an automated bot, that floods your followers with tweets.

What is different about Buffer?

With this tool all you do is add tweets to a queue in your Buffer. Buffer then has pre-set times for you at which your tweets will go out to your twitterstream. Of course you are able to adjust these times if you wish.

The most intuitive solution to do this is right there from the page or article you want to share with your followers.  You can do this with the neat Chrome Extension or Bookmarklet that exist, sparing you the hassle to go back to your dashboard.

If your Buffer is topped up with tweets, it will tweet for you at your pre-set times during the day.
See Buffer in action (36 sec video):
Fitting Buffer into your browsing routine

With all the buzz going on, when you are online, it is good to know of one part that will be well managed and planned out in the future.

By making Buffer part of your browsing routine, you will be able to create a consistent stream of content for your followers on twitter. Alongside reading posts or watching videos, you give it one click on the Buffer icon, if you think this content is worth sharing. This means no extra effort for you, yet you let your followers know, which great sources of content you came across.

Buffer is one of these tools you just have to try.

Leave a comment with your views, I make sure to reply to every single one :).

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted

Friends 2 Lovers Strong relationships come from well-bonded friendships. The best foundation for relationships to grow, flourish, and succeed is a deep-rooted friendship. This is the time when two people get to know each other and accept each other despite and in spite who the person is. In an emotive and touching story that will surely evoke a gamut of sentiments and thoughts, author Jonathan Anthony Burkett portrays how friends can end up as lovers and how that can last a lifetime. From Friends 2 Lovers, you will experience how exhilarating and wonderful the ride can be, even if there are challenges and obstacles along the way. In a compelling narrative that will touch your heart and make you think dearly of your friends and loved ones, you ll surely experience an overwhelming ebb and flow of emotions as you leaf through its pages.

Ghost Over Boulder Creek When Run Through Fire, a half-white, half-Cheyenne boy, is captured in the aftermath of the Battle of the Washita, he makes a daring escape. Run Through Fire leaves his mother and the other prisoners and sets out to find his white father in a place he has heard about called Boulder, in the Colorado Territory. Along the way he meets General Custer, Buffalo Bill, and a brave and funny friend, a girl he calls “Orange Head,” and changes his name to Billy Tull, son of William Tull. In Boulder, a ghost appears and then disappears as he uncovers the secret the town thought was buried.

Someone Will Be With You Shortly Filled with self-deprecating humor and a deep appreciation for what really matters, this book is for anyone who has ever been unnerved by pleather pants, lunch meat, or ambivalent men, and believes that life is a fragile bit of luck in a world based on chance.

Multiply and Divide with Sticks and Steps Math concepts can seem very abstract, but in just a short time, literally in just 5 minutes, students can learn how to multiply. This book concretely shows what multiplication is, instead of just having students memorize the times tables. It gives step-by-step instructions as well as sample problems showing how the process works. A natural flow occurs throughout the book as concepts get more difficult. Also included are easy ways to divide, find least common multiples, and square roots. This simple, hands-on method will help students achieve a better understanding of mathematics and boost self-confidence as well. Students will become so proficient they will be able to teach Sticks and Steps to others who struggle with multiplication and division. Multiply and Divide with Sticks® and Steps is easy to learn, easy to teach, and so logical, it's easy to remember. An essential resource for parents and educators to carry with them in their bag of tricks.

Bad Girls Why do millions of smart, savvy, successful men fall helplessly in love with women who are destined to break their hearts? Who are these "Bad Girls," poised to pounce o the next nice guy just waiting to become their prey? And ho can good girls learn to become man-magnets without becoming 'bad'? Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Ca Learn Their Secrets by Dr. Carole Lieberman is a no-holds barred, provocative look at the dangerous damsels who steal the hearts of men everywhere. They take what they want---money, sex, drugs, or other objects of desire---and leave these unsuspecting men in the dust.

Blotto, Twinks and the Ex-King's Daughter It's that glorious period between the two world wars, and the exiled king of Mitteleuropa is visiting the ancestral home of the Duke of Tawcester. When the ex-king's daughter is kidnapped, noblesse obliges the Duke's handsome, brave, and rather stupid son (known to all as Blotto) to drive off to the rescue. Luckily, he's aided by his brilliant sister, Twinks. Plus, he's got a really swell car.

Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigy's Story of Survival, 1941-1946 Zhanna, a young Jewish girl from Ukraine, also happens to be a gifted piano prodigy and is giving concerts by the age of six. When disaster strikes her hometown and her family is condemned to exile and execution, Zhanna manages to escape the famed Nazi death march to Dorbitsky Yar and uses her rare musical gift to help her survive. Performing and giving concerts for the occupying German troops as they move throughout Europe, Zhanna keeps her true identity a secret until a young American soldier with ties to Julliard adopts her. Upon her emigration to America, Zhanna’s gift flourishes and she becomes one of the first Jewish refugees to enter Juilliard.

Neverland: J. M. Barrie, The Du Mauriers, and the Dark Side of Peter Pan The untold story behind Peter Pan: The shocking account of J. M. Barrie's abuse and exploitation of the du Maurier family. In his revelatory Neverland, Piers Dudgeon tells the tragic story of J. M. Barrie and the Du Maurier family. Driven by a need to fill the vacuum left by sexual impotence, Barrie sought out George du Maurier, Daphne du Maurier’s grandfather (author of the famed Trilby), who specialized in hypnosis. Barrie’s fascination and obsession with the Du Maurier family is a shocking study of greed and psychological abuse, as we observe Barrie as he applies these lessons in mind control to captivate George’s daughter Sylvia, his son Gerald, as well as their children—who became the inspiration for the Darling family in Barrie’s immortal Peter Pan.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Author Interview with Dori Jones Yang

Today we're talking with Dori Jones Yang, author of Daughter of Xanadu

FQ: Your exploration of Asia sounds like a remarkable experience. Can you tell us a little bit about how you felt standing in the middle of the ruins of Xanadu? What was it like?

Author Dori Jones Yang
Finding the ruins of Xanadu took some effort; most Chinese tour guides know nothing about it. Although it is only 200 miles north of Beijing, driving there takes all day, over some winding back roads. In Marco Polo’s time, Xanadu featured a marble palace, with gilded rooms painted with exquisite images of men and beasts and birds, as well as lovely gardens with fountains and rivers and brooks, beautiful meadows and woods stocked with wild animals for hunting. Today, only a few stone ruins remain in a wide plain covered with long grasses and wildflowers. Standing there, though, I could feel the magic of history. This was where Emmajin got to know Marco Polo!

FQ: Was this when you first experienced the idea for Emmajin and her quest to be a solider?

No! That happened several years earlier, when I read Marco Polo’s book. He told a story I had never heard: about a Mongolian princess who defeated all her suitors at wrestling and thus won the right to control her own life. I decided to create a different princess, one who excelled at archery and was struggling to win respect in a male-dominated world.

FQ: On that note, you speak very well about the customs requiring Asian women to be more "background" jewelry than anything else in that day and age, which Emmajin remarked on because her ancestors actually had women who worked a great deal beside their male counterparts. Was there a specific time in history when this custom changed, or do you feel that even in the present day and age females are still set in a very particular place in their social network?

The author in a field of wildflowers in Xanadu
Emmajin grew up in the 1260s and 1270s, a time of transition. Before that, the Mongols were fierce warriors who conquered most of the known world, and their women had many rights and freedoms. Afterwards, women were expected to settle into traditional female roles at the imperial court. I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, another time of transition, but in the other direction. Before that, women’s roles were rigid and traditional, and afterwards women had many rights and could participate in the larger society. Today’s young women live in the best time of history, where they have many options and don’t have to stay in the background like jewelry.

FQ: The research done on Marco Polo and his journey to the heart of the Mongol Empire was fascinating. What was the catalyst to use him in the story as the romantic counterpart? I know Emmajin is fictional, but were there any documents, letters, diaries, etc. of his travels and who he met while there in Xanadu?

Marco Polo traveled to China and wrote about it for readers back home; so did I, centuries later, as a foreign correspondent. So I could relate to him. Most of what we know of Marco Polo comes from his own book, which he wrote after his return to Venice. He stayed in China from the age of 21 to 38, yet he never mentioned any love interest. So I imagined one for him! But in his book, he did describe the Battle of Vochan, with elephants, and the hunt for ‘dragons’ (crocodiles). I borrowed a lot from his book and imagined the rest. 

FQ: With your obvious love of historical research, are there other time periods that hold a particular fascination for you?

Yes, many – especially China in the 1920s and 1930s and 1940s.
The author inside a yurt in Mongolia, playing the horsehead fiddle

FQ: Working for Business Week magazine as a foreign correspondent must have been a true blast, to say the least. Is this when you toured the Forbidden City? Were there artifacts there that were inspirational in the telling of this novel?

Yes, working as a foreign correspondent in China was a blast! Although, like any job, it involved hard work, too. I spent a lot of time in Beijing in those years. The Forbidden City was built on the site of Khubilai Khan’s palace, with almost the same layout, so I could easily envision the scenes that took place there. Northwest of the palace, I discovered an old part of the Mongol city wall that remains to this day. In Khubilai Khan’s day, Beijing was called “Khanbalik,” or Khan’s capital. Marco spelled it Cambaluc.

FQ: Thank you so much for your time. It isn't often that YA novels are blessed with actual history that has the ability to teach teenagers (and adults) about the fantastic Empires that have gone before. I really look forward to reading your next novel.

And thank you, Feathered Quill! The Chinese and Mongolians wrote with brushes and ink, an equally lovely image.

I welcome you and your readers/followers to visit me on my website at - and to view my book trailer video on youtube at:

To learn more about Daughter of Xanadu please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Author Interview with Alan Tapley

Today we're talking with Alan Tapley, author of Confessions of a Househusband

FQ: So, how’s life in Stay at Home Dad Land these days? How are the kids?

Life is really good. I’m not sure whether it was when both kids mastered potty training, started school full-time, or my new margarita recipe, but I have finally learned to accept and embrace my stay at home dad status. I don’t care what your job is, everyone needs time to learn their trade and become comfortable with their environment. And the kids are great. It is extremely gratifying to see how well my kids are doing and what terrific children they are. As I have said before, take personal credit for all the success your children have now, because when your children are adults, and in therapy, you’re going to get most of the blame.

FQ: You’re a funny writer, Mr. Tapley. Who are your role models for humor writers? Who are your favorite comedians?

For me, comedy writers, as well as comedians, have to be smart, edgy, and honest to capture my attention. Steve Harvey, Jon Stewart, and Chelsea Handler have writing styles that mirror their comic abilities. I think, in retrospect, I probably should have become a well-known comedian before writing my humor book. That could have helped sales.

FQ: What was your process for writing the book? Did you take notes during playdates? How much of Confessions of a Househusband was written during naptime?

Naptime was too inconsistent. I had plenty of opportunities to write during naps, but it is hard to write when the occasional baby monitor, diaper incident, or fussy child takes priority. My process was to write down notes on Starbuck napkins, random sheets of paper, and a journal, then hit my office with a computer and a bottle of wine after the entire family was asleep. And I had to make sure the house was clean, quality time was spent with my wife, and the dishwasher was running for the next morning. Hardly a quiet villa in Tuscany.

FQ: What was your wife’s reaction to your book? Was she surprised by any stories? Does she have a newfound appreciation for your job?

My wife was extremely supportive of the entire writing process. She was proud of the fact that I had completed the project, and realistic enough to know that the book was simply sketches of my life as a househusband, and not a reflection of who we are as a whole. As for the stories, my wife simply laughs at all the frustration and negativity I portray. She appreciates all that I do, but it’s real hard to feel sorry for a man who spends two hours a day at the gym, and all summer long by the pool.

FQ: Any funny anecdotes that happened after your book was published that you would have included had they happened prior to publication?

Girl Scouts is one area which would have been added. I attended my first Girl Scout meeting recently, and depending on my wife’s schedule, could be a co-leader if required. Can you earn a badge for channel surfing or beer brewing? I’m walking around the neighborhood in the middle of winter with two kids, unemployed, selling cookies door to door, describing the difference between the Lemon Chalets and the Dulce de Leches and I don’t get a cut? My kids are crying because they need to sell 72 packages to earn a badge that I can’t get to stay on their uniforms anyway. Where does it say in the handbook that you have to iron or stitch those things on? What’s wrong with duct tape?

FQ: What would you tell any fathers considering staying at home with their kids?

I would tell them it’s a risk. Understand that the gap in your resume is going to be difficult to explain when you go back to work. Cleaning toilets, changing diapers, folding sheets, and not getting a paycheck is depressing. Daytime television is not really targeted towards the male viewer. Your wife will be wearing the pants in the family, and all your friends, neighbors, and in-laws will remind you of it. You have to have an immense amount of patience, anger management, and the ability to laugh at yourself. Finally, I would tell them to enjoy every minute of it. As a father, you have the opportunity to build a relationship and help shape your child’s future. In a world where fathers are often absent, you have a real chance to make a difference.

FQ: Tell our readers about your upcoming novels, A Grape Off the Vine and Hampden County.

First of all, it’s a nice relief to write novels. I shared more than enough about my life in Confessions of a Househusband, it’s time to hide behind some fictional characters for a while. A Grape off the Vine is a comic novel set in rural town Nebraska. It’s the story of a thirty-six year old metrosexual with a taste for fine wine, scented bath salts, and InStyle Magazine who finds himself alienated in a town full of beer-in-the-can drinking, tobacco chewing, Wal-Mart employees. In an attempt to deal with the death of his mother, multiple failed relationships, and his search to belong, Kevin Doolidge finds himself in the care of Dr. Sally Hagan, the only therapist within twelve counties, who is also a fugitive with faked credentials, a good heart, and a dependency on anti-psychotic drugs. Hampden County is another comic novel that takes place in a small Southern town filled with retired mafia, corrupt politicians, undercover agents, and three friends involved in a dangerous game. There is no release date on either novel as of yet.

To learn more about Confessions of a Househusband please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Author Interview with Angela Beach Silverthorne and Tia Silverthorne Bach

Today we're talking with Angela Beach Silverthorne and Tia Silverthorne Bach, the mother and daughter team/authors of Depression Cookies

FQ: Why did you decide to write a book as a mother & daughter writing team?

Tia: We both love writing and thought it would be interesting to tell a coming of age story from a mother and daughter perspective. It made sense to use our mother and daughter voices to accomplish that. Plus, how many people get to flesh out their relationship in such an intimate way? It was a gift to write this with my mom.

Angela: I had just finished writing a book on poetry when Tia approached me about collaborating on a book. At first I thought she was kidding, but when her reaction didn't change, I knew she was dead-on serious. Immediately we began to brainstorm. I was intrigued from the beginning, truly not knowing how it would come together, if ever, but enjoyed the idea of working with my daughter.

FQ: Did each of you assume one role - one writing Abby's part and the other Krista's? or did you both write portions of each character's segments?

Tia: We each strictly wrote “our” part. I wrote Krista, 13, and my mom wrote Abby. We certainly were in constant communication about where the story was heading, etc, but tried to keep the voices authentic and focused for our characters.

Angela: Tia and I fell into our specific roles of mother and a daughter without discussing an option. Oh mercy me, I don't know what I would have done if Tia had looked at me and said, "You write the teen part." Trust me, the project would have died at that moment. I had a hard enough time with Abby's teen flashbacks!

FQ: I'm guessing that the two of you must be very close - how else could you write a book together? Were there any particularly difficult times working as a team on this book? Did some things/topics come much easier than others as you wrote?

Tia: Life kept getting in our way: babies born, moves, health problems, etc. We were respectful of these life events and had to put the book on the back burner from time to time. The mother/daughter banter came easily from our own relationship, but I found it hard to write the babysitter scene and the scenes about Alyssa. I had to remember to be a teenager when the mother in me wanted to come screaming out in Krista’s voice.

Angela: Tia and I have always had a special relationship. I tried to foster a forum of open and honest discussion in our home, which made it easy to write without feeling I had to couch Abby's reaction, thinking Tia might have a negative reaction to it. Like Tia mentioned, the only difficult times in writing the book centered around life getting in the way. The topics I had the hardest time writing were Abby's struggle to answer life's questions and manage its fast balls. Writing the chapters at the end with Nadine and Abby were also difficult.

FQ: Is any part of Depression Cookies autobiographical?

Angela: There are bits and pieces of who I am and what I think in every character. When writing, reality and fiction often merge, expanding the known into blended worlds that defy ownership. It's all about the joy of letting your imagination go wild!

Tia: Krista is my teenage voice. I wanted her to be authentic and brutally honest. But the situations I put her in, although steeped with my own life, were embellished and fictionalized for the story.

FQ: Abby's husband Bob was a difficult person to like. While he occasionally showed some redeeming characteristics (coming to Krista's aid during the babysitting incident) for the most part I wanted to strangle him. What were the reasons for making him such an unlikable character?

Tia: First of all, Krista needed to have a 13 year old perspective, and all too often teenagers see the world as very one-sided (his/her side, of course). But, more importantly, this story is about women and how women do or do not handle life. This isn’t Bob’s story. I’m sure if he could tell it, the readers would be privy to a vast amount of information left out in the female interpretation.

Angela: Bob and Abby were born in the '50's in the South. In most families, there was a clear demarcation between the sexes. The husband worked and the women cared for the children and everything else. As we moved with my husband's job, I saw other couples from all over the country fall into the same pattern. In writing Bob's character, I truly pictured him working twelve hours a day, thinking he was giving his all to company and family. Like a lot of us, Bob didn't know how to balance life.

FQ: Krista really matures during the span of a few years. Do you think if she hadn't met Alyssa things might have turned out differently?

Tia: Meeting Alyssa and seeing her pain and struggles was incredibly formative for Krista. Alyssa saved Krista from a devastating social time in her life, yet Alyssa was the one who needed saving. What could force maturity quicker than seeing your best friend slowly killing herself? It’s hard to stay a child in the face of such sadness.

FQ: Alyssa's dad, Mr. McConnell, was a domineering presence who frightened just about everybody. And yet Krista stood up to him to help her friend. Was this a turning point in her life?

Tia: The advantage to being a teenager as well as writing as one is the ability to live with blinders on. Krista didn’t see it as standing up to him as much as caring for her friend. It’s what we hope all teenagers choose: stand up to the bully. Caring about her friend more than herself was the true turning point, the maturity required to begin the process to adulthood.

FQ: The "incident" with Cindy, in which Abby and Krista have to confront Cindy, Kerry and their moms about Krista's "misbehavior" was a tense time. Was it hard to write?

Tia: I am one of three daughters as well as having three girls of my own. I have already faced mothers of hateful girls from both ends. The hardest part of writing those scenes was to hold back the mother in me from the teenager in my character. Girls can be so cruel and all too often they learn it from the adult women in their lives. It’s a sad commentary. More than anything, it made me sad that times really haven’t changed.

Angela: It was extremely hard to visualize, not only the actual confrontation, but the discussions with Bob before the meeting. I was drained after writing them.

FQ: I loved the "aunties." Are they based on a real group of older women you know?

Angela: I wish so much I knew the "aunties," but I don't. What I wanted to create was a mismatched group of women who came together out of pain, disappointment and rejection to form a camaraderie based on genuine acceptance. There is a tremendous power and vitality women can offer women when they allow themselves to drop their competitive nature and truly love one another.

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

Reviewer's Tip - How NOT to Impress Reviewers, Part 5

Here's another entry in our series on how NOT to impress reviewers. These comments come directly from our reviewers.  This entry is short and to the point:

The more I think about it, the more I realize that the main thing for me is grammar, punctuation, and word choice. I don't care how good someone's story idea might be, if they don't have the command of language to write it well, then I don't want to read it. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted

How to Interview Like a Pro If you can't seem to get the interviews and job offers you want, it's time to learn How to Interview Like a Pro. Written by longtime human resources director Mary Greenwood, the author of How to Negotiate Like a Pro and How to Mediate Like a Pro, this guidebook offers strategies and practical tips about the interview process. Learn how to prepare for your next interview and how to answer the difficult questions that leave other candidates stuttering. You will learn forty-three rules that will help you get your next job. Here's a sample of the types of tips you'll get:


This guidebook is the perfect mix of reference materials, case studies, state and federal resources, and checklists. Discover the edge you need to produce results and learn How to Interview Like a Pro.

The Price of Candy A prominent Congressman gives a beautiful hitchhiker a ride to Florida. His fascination with her becomes an overpowering obsession as he mistakenly projects her romantic acceptance of him. When her naked body is subsequently found on a Florida beach he risks having his misdirected passion exposed and his reputation and prosperous way of life devastated. An almost-too-clever young law student must unravel the mystery surrounding the unidentified dead woman on the beach, and solve an ancillary kidnapping, to clear herself of a murder charge. Along the way, she realizes she has fallen victim to a sensuous passion of her own. In this dramatic fast-paced mystery.

Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption-from South Central to Hollywood Ice-T offers his hip-hop generation's Horatio Alger story: the narrative of an orphaned child, drawn inexorably into a harrowing life of crime, who ultimately turns away from the streets and through self-discipline and a single-minded work ethic forges a path to international fame as a musician and film and television star.

Angelology Sister Evangeline was just a girl when her care was entrusted to the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. Not, at 23, she discovers a 1943 correspondence between the convent's late mother superior and the famous philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller that plunges her into a secret history stretching back a millennium: an ancient conflict between the Society of Angelologists and the monstrously beautiful descendants of angels and humans, the Nephilim. Blending biblical lore, the Miltonic fall of the Rebel Angels, the apocryphal Book of Enoch, and the myth of Orpheus.