Thursday, March 31, 2011

Author Interview with Brenda Novak

Author Brenda Novak

Today we're talking with Brenda Novak, author of Inside

FQ: I like the idea of Virgil and Peyton being the main "tough" characters and also romantically involved. Do you plan to use them in Parts II and III, or will each book stand alone?

Virgil and Peyton definitely play a role in In Seconds, which is Virgil’s sister’s story. Laurel moves to a small town in Montana under an assumed name to start over—but just when she thinks she’s safe, The Crew manages to find her. So the first two books are closely related. The third, In Close, features a little of Laurel but none of Virgil and Peyton (who live in New York by the time the story opens). In Close is Claire’s story (Laurel’s best friend, who lives in Pineview, Montana). Claire’s mother went missing when she was sixteen. It’s the biggest mystery this small town has ever faced, and Claire is convinced someone knows more than they’re saying.

FQ: I have a close relative who is a writer, and she was encouraged to write by a wonderful teacher she had in high school. Did you have a mentor when you decided to write?

I’m afraid I don’t have a mentor. I never dreamed I’d become a writer until I was forced into a situation where I had to figure out something I could do to earn money from home. But I consider all the authors of the fabulous books I've read mentors, of a sort. They’re who inspired me and showed me how it’s done. Even today, if I get stuck, all I have to do is fall into a great story and it excites my imagination enough that I can pick up with my own book.

FQ: I read about the shocking experience that you had in your family that made you decide to work from home. Was that particular person taken out of employment so that other mothers would not have to experience the same?

The person who drugged my children to get them to sleep while I worked wasn’t a professional childcare provider. She was a woman who was a very good friend of the family. We could not press criminal charges because we couldn’t prove criminal intent. It was over-the-counter stuff. Her excuse was that she thought they had a cold.

FQ: I admire the work that you have done and are doing for Diabetes research. Do you include any characters in your books with Diabetes, and the struggles, etc. they must face?

The beautiful location for Inside
Thank you! Last year was such an exciting year for me because it was the year my annual online auction for diabetes research broke the $1 million mark. This year, we’re gearing up again, hoping to hit a new annual record (it starts May 1st at for anyone who’s interested in registering ). I have indeed written a story (called Every Waking Moment) where the mother of a young child with diabetes must go on the run. Using a child with special needs increased the tension in the suspense plot, which is one reason I did it, but I also included this element because it creates more awareness of what it’s like to live with this very difficult and life-threatening disease.

FQ: How do you find the time to write your great books and still run your business from home?

Ah…time. There’s never enough of it. Like most moms who work, I simply juggle. I get up early, hit the ground running and don’t stop until I drop into bed late at night (and then I get up three hours later to test my son’s blood—LOL).

I treat my writing just like a full-time job. As soon as I get my kids off to school (I have five but only two are still at home), I sit down and get to work.
The author with her family

FQ: Thanks so much for the very exceptional book, and I will definitely be on the lookout for the next two.

THANK YOU! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

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

Author Brenda Novak with some of her books

Brenda signing one of her book - she'll be doing a lot of that with her new series!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Envy the Rich? Wait Until You See Their Wallpaper!

by Amy Lignor of The Write Companion

Growing up in the Litchfield Hills I was an avid audience to a great many humorous moments.  I was part of a wonderful family, living in horrific winter weather that made me feel like I was constantly starring in Kramer vs. Kramer, in a small unheard-of New England town.  This community was filled with people who, depending on the day, would laugh together, cry together, or gossip behind your back so badly that it felt a lot like Freddy Krueger was behind you shoving his knives into the back of your skull.  I know…I know…it sounds just like a Little House on the Prairie episode, doesn’t it?.  But…hey, that was our perfect Norman Rockwell world. 

One of the most abundant things we had in our small town was pretension.  And this pretension usually came from the influx of outsiders who descended on our quiet town on the weekends.  Our lovely visitors were the type of people who had their noses so far up in the air that it gave them whiplash when they had to unlock the doors on their Cadillac’s.

The Deep South always refers to our slice of the country as Yankees.  Setting the record straight, there is only one state that can actually claim Yankee-‘dom,’ and that’s Connecticut.  Our neighbors are The Northerners, but the Connecticut Yankees own the title.  You know?  The ones that England let out of prison and sent across the Atlantic on really big ships that were ready to spring a leak?  I guess that’s how our state became so pretentious.  We apparently survived that Mayflower trip, and the ones who decided to form Connecticut made sure that they were the one-and-only Yankees. (New York only has the team).

Now, infiltrators of Yankee-‘dom’ were the wealthy weekenders who’d bought the million-dollar homes in order to escape all the trials of the Big City.  There, in the lush, green fairytale land the weekenders (and, in the fall, leaf-peekers) could walk through nature and feel as if they were a true part of “country life.”  Who knew that they would also bring all their little quirks with them that changed Yankee-‘dom’ to Yankee-‘dumber.’

When I walked to the “Big House” Friday nights with my Dad as he was “readying” the mansion for the arrivals of the royalty, I was always amazed by the “new” things that’d appeared from the weekend before.  One of the most amazingly grotesque sites I will ever see - even if I take up the job of serial killer - was the interior decorator skills of the mansion’s female occupant.  She’d decided to cover the dining-room walls with a highly-expensive wallpaper that can only be purchased from a very prestigious company located across the pond.  The wallpaper was an ode to the very British sport of fox hunting.  Each  and every panel showed majestic riders atop beautiful animals who looked like they could escort the Queen’s carriage, or carry Heathcliff across the moor.  This sounds elegant for a dining room…aye?  Well…the artist - let’s just nickname him The Ripper - wished very much to drive the point of fox-hunting home, and made sure that on each horse was the body of a very cute and cuddly fox.  There was no sign of a serene smile as if he’d passed through Heaven’s gate and was now prancing in the field beside St. Francis.  No, no.  These foxes were shredded to within an inch of their lives; bloody entrails spewed out of them like lava from Mount Vesuvius. 

The owner came to my mother and complained that her guests wouldn’t eat a thing when they sat at her dinner table.  All they seemed to want to do was stay in the den and get loaded.  Hmmm…I wonder why?  Was all of small-town Connecticut suddenly on a diet?  Or, was it simply the fact that it’s hard to choke down food when staring at a massacre.  I have a feeling it would be a lot like being invited to The Ripper’s final kill, and having him offer you tea and crumpets to dine on while enjoying the one-of-a-kind performance.

One weekend a beautiful table appeared in the front hall under the chandelier.  Remember that part…a massive, bright chandelier hung above the table.  This gorgeous piece of furniture rivaled that of any Stickley in existence.  (No, not sickly - we’ve left the dining room.)  The owner felt the need to put a lamp on the table, but seeing the cord was out of the question.  It would look tacky.  (Hello??  Dining room??)  So she drilled a hole straight through the center of the table - turning the hundred-thousand dollar antique into an item that wouldn’t go for more than two dollars on Cash in the Attic.  Heck, even Pawn Stars would’ve laughed this one out the door…and they buy everything!  Why would you even need a lamp with the chandelier up above?  Just another one of those quirks, I suppose.

The outside also took a beating.  The man of the house was an older, mature individual who liked to play country farmer.  One day he decided to plant flowers in one of the fields.  He could never understand why they didn’t grow.  My father understood.  After all, when you plant bulbs upside down growing tends not to be an option.  He also decided to buy a truck.  This was the truck of a twenty-year-old boy who desperately wanted to mud ‘bog,’ drink beer, and pick-up chicks in order to show them how well he could belch the alphabet.  Suffice to say this brilliant businessman wasn’t extremely adept at the way water congeals with soil.  He learned this when he drove his truck across the lawn and, when the wheels started to spin, hit the gas harder.  He ended up completely upset and a bit confused by the huge gouges that appeared in his well-manicured property.  Dad got the tractor and pulled him out.

Cooking skills were also a bit frightening.  (You can’t blame them really, their chef was an hour away by train).  When Thanksgiving came round one year the woman of the house purchased a twenty-eight pound turkey and wondered aloud if a couple of hours would do the trick.  Considering her guests would be sitting in the “killer” dining room to eat the raw bird, salmonella would probably have been a gift.  The ambulance would have offered them a much quicker exit.

Don’t get me wrong, some rich knew their limitations and simply hired the right people to take care of things.  Others I am truly grateful for, because some of the funniest lessons in life came from their attempts at good-old country living.  Nowadays people consider the rich to be the Housewives of Beverly Hills, but diamonds were definitely not what we saw.  No matter how you look at it, being a true Connecticut Yankee is fascinating.  Our so-called pretension is actually just good-old American sarcasm, honed by the weekenders who were kind enough to share their real wealth.  Good, old-fashioned, stupidity.

Next Week:  From the Mouths of Babes

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Author Interview with Gail Bernice Holland

Today we're talking with Gail Bernice Holland, author of Love Each Day: Live Each Day So You Would Want to Live it Again

FQ: I really enjoyed the fact that many of the stories in your book were about enjoying the simple things in life, from a special event with a loved one to overcoming a particular fear or health issue. Why did you decide to go this route rather than write a book with more "earth-shattering" events?

Author Gail Bernice Holland
A few of the experiences described in my book are extraordinary, such as the day an astronaut walked on the moon, or a day couple visited the White House, but most of the days illustrate normal situations that could even happen in the reader’s own life. I asked each person I interviewed to describe one day in their regular routine at home or at work that gave them special pleasure – a day they might wish to live again. I stressed that I didn’t wish to write about a wedding day, birthday, or common noteworthy days because the goal of my book was to focus on different kinds of occasions. I felt the reader would gain more inspiration from my book Love Each Day if they read about authentic and realistic experiences that could change a person’s outlook on life. My intent was to help readers understand how crucial it is to treasure all types of days, all kinds of different experiences. I believe authentic true stories offer valuable lessons about how to spend time treasuring what really matters in life.

FQ: How did you find the people you included in your book and how/why did you pick these 40 over others you may have considered?

As a professional journalist and author I have developed many contacts. With the help of business colleagues and personal friends I was able to able to interview Nobel prize scientist Dr. Burton Richter, baseball player Huston Street, George Zimmer, the founder of the Men’s Wearhouse, plus a comedian, bus driver, teacher, police officer, college student, tugboat captain, musician, and many other men and women in different careers, with different lifestyles. I deliberately chose forty individuals from all walks of life. As I mentioned in the book’s introduction I believe that one of the best ways to learn about life is to discover how other people have lived, especially when they describe days that have been particularly meaningful to them. I would like to emphasize that as an author and journalist I also learn a great deal from these interviews. I consider the art of writing and journalism the quintessential art of learning about life.

FQ: Would you tell our readers a little about the process of committing to paper the stories included in your book? Did you travel to meet with people, converse via email or?

I initially contacted people by email to see if they would be willing to talk to me about their lives. Since Love Each Day includes stories about individuals from all over the United States, I then arranged a telephone interview with each person rather than traveling to meet them. I used a tape recorder during these telephone conversations and, of course, always told the individual they were being taped.

FQ: Have you stayed in contact with any of the people featured in your book?

I have remained in contact with some of the people featured in my book. For instance, Jason Jones, the police officer I interviewed, often sends me The Rap Sheet, the official newspaper of the Portland Police Association.

FQ: I was touched by the story of Kimberly Ball's desire to try out for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleader squad, ignoring the advice of her boyfriend. While reading, I remember thinking, "She better break up with that no-good...." She also had some of the best, most insightful quotes in the book. What in her background, do you think, made her such a remarkable person?

Clearly Kimberly Ball has a positive, strong personality. One of the reasons Ball’s life continues to be successful is her experience as a cheerleader. In my book she explains, “The whole experience as a cheerleader gave me such a sense of strength. I know from personal experience that you can do anything when you set your mind on a goal. It is essential to have a high level of expectation for yourself, and not accept other people’s opinion about you.”

FQ: I have to ask - the cow poop story - so funny and yet, like the others, so beautiful in its simplicity. Did you have a hard time deciding whether to include the story in your book?

I never know in advance what people are going to reveal during an interview. When Michael Dupee, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, told me how a cow pooped in front of him during a visit to a farm I was surprised. However, he then explained how this incident transformed his perspective on nature and life itself. For this reason I felt his story was inspiring.

FQ: While many of the stories were of every day events, you did include several such as walking on the moon and winning the Nobel Prize, that are quite extraordinary. Do you think the two types (simple and truly amazing) teach the same lessons?

In many ways all these stories teach us the same lesson. And that lesson is the subtitle of my book: Live each day so you would want to live it again. Whether a person is a Nobel Prize scientist or a bus driver, school teacher, or a polio survivor, we can all try to live our lives so we love our lives.

FQ: Have you heard from any of those featured in the book? Their thoughts about "going public" with their stories, how their friends have reacted and what they hope others will gain from their experiences?

I believe (and hope) that the people mentioned in my book are pleased that their stories have been included in Love Each Day. Tales about real life experiences can be inspirational.

To learn more about Love Each Day: Live Each Day So You Would Want to Live it Again please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Interview with Actress/Author Mary McDonough

Today we're talking with Mary McDonough, actress and author of Lessons From the Mountain

FQ: Your memoir is the first written by one of the child stars of The Waltons and you mention that you hesitated "in deference to my beloved cast..." What sort of feedback have you gotten from other cast members now that your book is out? Do you think we might soon see books from some of the other actors?
Mary on the set of The Waltons

The feedback has been wonderful so far. The book isn’t out yet so most “family” members have not read it . Michael Learned read the parts about her while I was writing the book. She smiled and was very supportive. Richard read the book and loves it. He said he was proud and enjoyed reading all the stories. It brought back wonderful memories for him.

FQ: We hear so much about "child stars gone bad." But the young cast of The Waltons avoided all those problems. Any idea why?

The cast of The Waltons

We are like a real family. We had extended family in Will, Ellen, Ralph and Michael. They watched over us like parents and grandparents. I think having all of us together as “siblings” was part of the reason we came out the other side so well. We are a family. We had each other to love, support and guide us. We were a bunch of kids and no one was the star.
Making ice cream
we were never stars or treated that way. We were treated as “the kids” and never like we were special. I think shows with one or two kid stars can make it more difficult. There’s a lot of focus on that one kid and conflicting messages in the industry can be tough to deal with as an adolescent.

FQ: I was happy to read that Will Geer was very much like his character of Zeb Walton - freewheeling and funny. Is there a favorite story about him that you'd like to share with our readers?

There are so many stories of Will. I think the best ones are in the book. Will was a force. His energy could fill a room and life spirits. I loved his lesson to me about appreciating the show best of all. He taught me to appreciate all things in life and not take anything for granted.

FQ: You mention the need to separate yourself from the character of Erin Walton and yet, I suspect you still have many fans who identify you as Erin. Is it hard to separate the two this many years later?
It’s funny someone just called me “Erin” the other day and I answered. I answer to both Mary and Erin sometimes. In a sense, I am both. Erin is such a part of me and always will be. There are similar elements. A lot of me is in her as I created her and lived her for so long. These days it’s not hard to separate the two. Hindsight and growing up help tremendously.

FQ: You were very honest with readers about your poor self image ("hog body," etc.) while growing up. Being in the spotlight certainly made it difficult. Today the media throws all sorts of messages at young girls, telling them how they should look. Do you think kids today have a harder time with body image issues or were we just not aware of the problems back in the 70s?

Body image issues are common and I think we didn’t talk about them back then. I know I didn’t and that was part of the problem. Now we have open discussions about anorexia and bulimia and have lost people to those diseases. The media does throw so many images at teens today. More sexualized images than when I was growing up, but there was pressure to be perfect and unrealistic media models then too.

Hog Body is such a big part of my life and who I am. It was hard to share how warped my own body image was. But I know so many women and girls feel the same way. I have three teenage girls and would never want them to feel so horrible about their bodies, so I shared Hog Body in my book.

In my work as a coach and my Body Branding, Getting Comfortable with the Skin You’re In workshops, I see the same feelings, thoughts, fears and judgments that I felt back then. I speak out on this because it’s still present for women and young girls. I don’t want any person to feel as alone and scared as I did back then. We need to talk about it, see how it holds us back, know we’re not alone and find a way out.

FQ: Life after The Waltons - in your book you mention that you sometimes wondered what it would have been like to grow up "normal," perhaps attending a college back east. If you never got into acting, what do you think you might have chosen as a profession?
With the cast of "Will and Grace"
Interesting question. I imagine myself tucked away at a school back east. Living in a dorm and studying English and history. I may have taken a similar road to my path now and been a writer, therapist, social worker or teacher. When I was young I wanted to be a nurse. Helping people and connecting them has always been forefront in my mind because of my upbringing. I may have even joined the Peace Corps.

  With Julia Louis-Dreyfus
FQ: You deal with the very personal and painful issue of breast implants and related health concerns. Did you struggle with the decision to include this in your memoir? (and thank you for including it!)

(You are welcome thanks for that!) My struggle with breast implants was a tough one. I never wanted to be a poster girl for a bad boob job; all I wanted to do was act. But life had other plans for me and I include that struggle in the book because I want women to have the information I didn’t have. I didn’t have that option, it wasn’t available. I share it because it is my experience. It’s not a popular one, there’s a lot of controversy in the implant issue, but I feel women deserve to have all the information to make an informed choice about their bodies. Education is key and women need to take charge of their lives and health. They can do that with proper research and facts.

With Candace Bergen
FQ: Public speaking has always frightened you and yet you got up in front of 100s of people repeatedly to speak on behalf of women's issues. Obviously you feel strongly about the issues to get up to that podium and educate others. What do you see as the issues today? The national media attention has died down regarding implants. Should women still be concerned?

Yes, women should be concerned. The FDA has recently reported an increase in Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma for women with implants.  The numbers are low right now but this is a preliminary study. If the FDA actually took action to report this, you can bet there is something to it.

Women should know that implants don’t last a lifetime. A woman choosing implants is looking at surgery every ten years if she has no complications. That is expensive. Some women lose their medical coverage because of implants. There is also the mammography issue for early detection of breast cancer. The implant is opaque and can hide breast cancer. Women with implants need to have extra angles shot in a mammogram. That costs more and is not covered by all insurance plans. It also exposes her to more radiation. She will need to find a technician who is trained to perform these extra angles as well. I could go on and on. My hope is that women take charge of their health and choices before they make decisions. Do the research and educate yourself.

FQ: Are there any upcoming television or movie roles you'd like to mention?

I just finished a movie called Lake Effects. I also produced a Walton Reunion for INSP which airs the show daily. I am hoping to do more specials.

To learn more about Lessons From the Mountain please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted

Too Far Under Mirabel Townes has her share of enemies. But when the wealthy heiress and lapsed Scientologist drowns in her backyard hot tub one August night, the police pronounce it a tragic accident. Her daughters, who suspect murder, refuse to accept that ruling. Determined to unmask their mother's killer, they beg grief therapist Cleo Sims, to accept them into her Contact Project that helps people communicate with dead loved ones. Unable to resist the pleas of ten-year-old Angelica Townes, a self-professed Indigo child, Cleo ignores warnings from her police-detective lover and agrees to help contact Mirabel. In the new-age mountain community of Boulder, Colorado where reality is often up-for-grabs, Cleo finds herself entangled in a perilous and perplexing search for truth. As she explores Mirabel's life and death, she confronts serious issues of trust, tough ethical dilemmas, life-threatening challenges, and questions about the influence of money on family loyalty and love. In the process she makes a personal discovery that will change her life forever.

Bombs Away! The World War II Bombing Campaigns over Europe Bombs Away! covers strategic bombing in Europe during World War II, that is, all aerial bombardment of a strategic nature which took place between 1939 and 1945. In addition to American (U.S. Army Air Forces) and British (RAF Bomber Command) strategic aerial campaigns against Germany, this book covers German use of strategic bombing during the Nazi’s conquest of Europe: the Battle of Britain, Operation Barbarossa, and the V 1 and V 2, where the Luftwaffe targeted Warsaw and Rotterdam (known as the Rotterdam Blitz). In addition, the book covers the blitzes against London and the bombing of other British industrial and port cities, such as Birmingham, Liverpool, Southampton, Manchester, Bristol, Belfast, Cardiff, and Coventry bombed during the Battle of Britain.

The Megasaurus What's the King of Beandom to do? The tiny, multi-colored bean-shaped bears of Beandom are under attack by a monster. Even the King's wisest advisors seem unable find a solution. Who will save Beandom? Can an ordinary tiny bear step forward with a plan that works? Welcome to Beandom! It's a great place to visit. Or, it will be — just as soon as we get rid of that pesky monster! The message of the story is: Follow your convictions even when others think differently. In the series entitled The Lima Bear Stories, as the basic characters appear and reappear, each has a distinct personality that shines through in every story. While the children have no idea what twists and turns the story may take, they come to know the characters and have a pretty good idea of how they are likely to act in different situations and settings. In essence, the children become friends with the characters. There is a form of bonding that develops. Each story carries an important overriding message (such as courage, tolerance, honesty), and we believe that this bonding creates a more profound understanding and appreciation of the message.

Making Rounds with Oscar Dosa, a geriatrician with a strong aversion to cats, tells the endearing story of Oscar the cat, the aloof resident at a nursing home who only spends time with people who are about to die. Despite hearing numerous stories about Oscar's uncanny ability to predict when a patient's time is nearing.

Ciao (On the Runway series) The sweet life might just turn sour. After the events in the Bahamas, Paige's engagement to designer Dylan Marceau is about to fall apart---and so is Paige. Erin's state of mind isn't much better. In addition to keeping Paige in check, Erin is dealing with Bryce's new TV career, as well as having to care for Fran during her chemo. A trip to Milan might be the break both girls need, but things only seem to get more complicated once they land in Italy. Dylan is also in Milan, and Paige's rekindled romance, combined with a new director, leaves Erin with more work on the show. Just when Erin can't take any more, she discovers a secret that could crush Paige. Clinging to God for direction, Erin must find the power to make a difficult choice, one that could not only hurt her sister but throw the show into turmoil.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Writers Conference to Champion Women Playwrights

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 23, 2011) − The Kentucky Women Writers Conference (KWWC) will award $500 and a full theatrical production to the winner of its new Prize for Women Playwrights. Balagula Theatre in Lexington will produce the winning script as a world premiere in early 2012.

"The purpose of this prize is to bring more scripts by women to the stage, and we hope to award it annually," says Kentucky Women Writers Conference Director Julie Kuzneski Wrinn. "We chose Balagula as our partnering theater because of its impressive track record of producing socially conscious, thematically ambitious plays, both new and classic repertory. We also liked their mission as an actors’ theater, since we are especially seeking new work that creates compelling roles for women actors."

Quality roles for women will be judging criteria, though literary merit and theatrical potential are the foremost considerations for the new prize. A judging panel of theater professionals and representatives from both the Kentucky Women Writers Conference and Balagula will select semifinalists, and the panel hopes to secure a renowned woman playwright to choose a winner.

The Kentucky Women Writers Conference is a program of the University of Kentucky and is the longest running event of its kind in the country. Playwriting has not been a significant focus of the conference since its first decade, when it featured Women’s Experimental Theatre (1983), Split Britches Theatre Group (1984), Theatre Workshop of Louisville (1986), and Spiderwoman Theatre (1990). The Prize for Women Playwrights aims to revive a commitment to professional support for female playwrights. "We view this contest as a return to our roots," explains Wrinn.

"Playwrights often find themselves straddling both the literary and theater worlds, never wholly belonging to one or the other," says Candace Chaney, contributing theater critic to the Lexington Herald-Leader. "The KWWC Prize for Women Playwrights corrects this unintentional marginalization by welcoming women playwrights into the fold of writers it supports and encouraging a unique collaboration with the theater industry."

"What’s more, it is a laudable regional effort to counter a troubling national phenomenon—the theater industry’s dearth of productions by female playwrights," says Chaney. "A New York Times report about a 2009 Princeton study revealed that not only are male playwrights writing more plays than their female counterparts, but they also enjoy more productions and longer runs, even in theaters led by women artistic directors. We still don’t know all of the reasons behind this disparity, but partnerships like KWWC’s and Balagula’s make important inroads toward remedying it."

Natasha Williams, the only female artistic director of adult theater in Lexington, emphasizes the contest’s collaborative nature as an artistic boon for both the winning playwright and the producing theater. "The exciting process of co-creating will start in September after the winner is announced and go through a series of workshops and rehearsals, culminating in the early 2012 production. It is the kind of collaboration that feeds the talent and creativity of the artists’ ensemble in the most inspiring way possible," says Williams. "For an ambitious theater that aims to contribute to the overall development of the art of theater, this is a dream come true."

The competition is open to all women playwrights, with no restrictions on age, residence or experience. One-act or full-length scripts with a running time of between 45 and 90 minutes that have not been published or produced are eligible. Submissions must be postmarked by July 1, 2011, and should be sent to 232 East Maxwell Street, Lexington, KY 40506-0344. For guidelines and entry forms, visit A winner will be announced Sept. 1, 2011.

Balagula Theatre is a professional company dedicated to delivering intelligent, innovative and inspiring theater to audiences in Kentucky and beyond. The company was formed in 2003 from a collective of local actors and artists seeking new direction and autonomy of artistic expression, and it has produced more than 50 plays. For more information, visit

The Women's National Book Association Panel Discussion

The Women's National Book Association New York City
Presents a Panel

Digital Books, E-books, Enhanced E-books and Apps


Peter Costanzo, Director of Digital Content at F+W Media, Inc.,

Andrea Fleck-Nisbet, Digital Publishing Director, Workman Publishing,

Ami Greko, Senior Vendor Relations Manager, US, Kobo,

Evan Ratliff, Editor, The Atavist,
Writer: Wired, The New Yorker, National Geographic
Author of Lifted, a Kindle Single book, on the top five nonfiction best seller list on Amazon

Susannah Greenberg
Organized and moderated by Susannah Greenberg, Susannah Greenberg Public Relations and Publicity Chair of WNBA-NYC,

Join us, in person or online, for a discussion of the biggest revolution in reading since Gutenberg's printing press, digital books. 

E-book sales are up 127% in April 2010 vs. April 2009, to $27.4 million.  And E-book sales in the US comprised 23.5% of all trade book sales for the month of January, according to statistics published recently by the Association of American Publishers. The digital book has arrived and  and its market share is growing.  And the book business is busy reinventing itself to keep pace with the change.

Come listen to experts and innovators in the field of Digital Books.  Learn about the new amazing features of Digital Books, and about how the book industry is working to build a sustainable and profitable strategy for its digital future.   Bring questions or send your question in advance to

WHEN: Tuesday, March 29, 2011.  5:30-7:30 PM

Association of American Publishers, 71 Fifth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10003

$10 to non-members.  You may join at the door or online.
$5 to students with valid ID.
Free to WNBA and AAP members.

(Use subject line "digital books")

MEDIA CONTACT: Susannah Greenberg, Phone: 212-208-4629; 

Twitter: @wnbanyc
Hashtag: #ebookswnba

Watch live streaming video broadcast of this event on the internet and participate in chat live via Twitter and Facebook too, at:

An Ode to Dad - Part 2

by Amy Lignor of The Write Companion

This is part 2 of Amy's article.  Part 1 was run yesterday.

My dad was a hard-working man, but inside he carried the most romantic heart I’ve ever seen attached to a male. He worked an extra job once just to send my mother some roses at work. It wasn’t Valentine’s Day, nor her birthday; when she opened the card it simply read…Just Because. (I’d cut my own arm off for ‘Just Because’) When we sat in the living room at night Dad would be working at his desk, while Mom sat on the couch reading Every once in a while I would see one of them raise their heads and stare at each other from across the room. They said that they were checking on each other…always. Mom loved to move the furniture, and poor Dad ended up walking into the closet one night when he got out of bed because he’d forgotten that the bedroom had been “re-invented” that day, and when she moved the living room furniture around, Dad would come in and trip over the couch. But he always nodded his head, gave that grin, and headed back out the door to work some more. Dad was a husband.
 Dad proved his psychic ability once when I came to the house and sat down with Mom. He walked by us, looked at me, and announced my pregnancy before I could. He said that he knew because of all the cows he’d worked with on the farm (not exactly sure if that was a compliment) When his darling Shelby came into the world she was always on his lap watching television, or curled up with him staring into his eyes like he was literally the safe island in a world full of chaos. They would sit at a table doing crossword puzzles together, and when they concentrated, their tongues would sneak out of their mouths and move back and forth like pendulums; their foreheads would pinch, and they would solve their puzzles…together. When Mom and Dad were walking down the sidewalk, Shelby would run past Grandma with a great big smile on her face and race into his arms. Mom wasn’t upset. She knew that he was the prize pick in our family. In Shelby’s eyes…Dad was King.

 I gardened with my dad. I sat by his side pulling weeds and we were…quiet. We’d talk when we wanted to but mostly felt safe and secure in the knowledge that we were by each other’s side. I walked with him a lot around the property. He taught me how to use a weed-whacker without ending up with the nickname “Stumpy.” We would go to the “Big House” and go down to the basement and paint before the owners showed up that weekend, to make sure that things were ready for their arrival. From the basement on up, Dad wanted to make sure that everything was in its’ place. I never told anyone this, but when nightmares would overcome me, I caught Dad crying once - upset that I was hurting. But we talked that day. He taught me that imagination was a fantastic thing to have; to be able to “see“ places that went far beyond what I lived in every day…but with the good, also came the bad. He attended the graduations, my sister’s wedding, Shelby’s baptism…and he always wore those glasses that turned dark when a few bits of sunlight hit his face, making it easy to spot that fountain of support no matter where you were or what you were up against. Dad was a true father.

When the Lord took him, or more to the point, when Dad realized that he, too, needed his Mom, a huge part of our family left this Earth. But his soul remains. The stories, the memories, and the spark of wit and love that he carried can still be found in my daughter’s eyes. I still have my dreams, but I revel in them now, because at night I can go "up" and see my dad. I walk with him in the gardens and update him on life down below. He talks to me as we pick the weeds, and I have to tell you all…Heaven has NEVER looked better than it does now. It absolutely shines. Dad is my Guardian Angel.

Robert Lignor: Artist, comedian, trouble-marker, intellectual, friend, husband, King, father, and angel…Dad is my hero.

 Next Week: Do You Envy the Rich? Wait Until You See Their Wallpaper.

Google Settlement Rejected

Hot News! - A judge in the Google case has rejected the book copying settlement.  Over-simplified, his basic stance is that the settlement needs to be "opt-in" rather than "opt-out."  I think all authors can agree that that should be the case!  Where in copyright law does it say that  you have permission to copy somebody else's work unless they opt-out of your project?  Nope, it's the user's job to get permission.  Good going, Judge!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Author Interview with C.S. Lakin

Today we're talking with C.S. Lakin, author of several books including The Map Across Time: Gates of Heaven Series (Book 2)

FQ: When you were raising your family and running a bed and breakfast you somehow found the time to write “three novels and a cookbook.” Many people would consider that to be an extraordinary feat. How did you manage to sneak in writing with all your other obligations?

It’s like finding time to do anything you love. I am constantly amazed at author friends I have that pump out books and hundreds of magazine articles each year while raising four or more small children. I know a lot of it is time management and getting little sleep! That’s how it was for me writing my first three novels. Now, with my kids raised and working at home, I have so much more time to write and the books get done quicker, which is such a blessing. But it also reminds me not to squander precious time.

FQ: Since those first few attempts at writing you have suddenly burst on the scene with several amazing novels, including Someone to Blame, winner of the Zondervan First Novel competition in 2009. You mentioned that this story is being considered by Lifetime TV for a TV movie. Can you tell us a bit about this story and the impetus behind writing it?

I kicked around the idea for years of turning Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express into a contemporary psychological suspense, so I set the story in a small coastal town rather than a train. I loved the theme of blame, and at first intended to have the whole town turn on the antisocial drifter Billy Thurber with good reason. The story morphed into more of a look at how we so often judge on appearance, without knowing someone. My books are heavily thematic, and my aim is to get people to think about themselves and how they view the world. By presenting Thurber from a multitude of viewpoints—the locals who interact with him—I hoped to show that each person brings judgment to the table based on their own insecurities and inner fears. Each person who encounters him reacts to him differently, and Thurber’s antagonistic behavior pushes them to respond. At the end of the book, though, I hope the reader sees how he or she has also done a bit of hasty judging, and gives pause for some self-reflection.

FQ: Another series you have begun to develop is The Gates of Heaven series. Two installments, The Wolf of Tebron and The Map Across Time, have been published and are attracting the attention of a wide audience. You claimed that Map was your best book to date. Perhaps you’d like to qualify that statement and tell us about this series.

Map across Time is my favorite book in all the world because it so much touches on what I struggle with in my heart. Adin is the teenage prince who feels unloved and inadequate to do anything special with his life. He has physical deformities as well as a father (the king) who despises him for his flaws. Yet, as the story unfolds, Adin learns heaven does not have the same flawed human value system. Adin feels throughout his quest to find the Keeper (as he travels back 300 years in time to his kingdom’s infancy) that he keeps failing. It is not until the end does he realize everything that happened had God’s will and purpose in mind. We so often look at the surface of things and can’t see God in it. I believe God means our good and does accomplish amazing things through us, even if we are completely unaware.

The Gates of Heaven series is a collection of fairy tales for adult readers. They take elements of traditional tales (like wicked stepmothers and magic mirrors) but they are brand new storylines and characters. My aim is to create tales in the classic tradition but, as you know, most fairy tales are only a few pages long and don’t go deep into character. So I wondered what it might be like to write such tales hundreds of pages long, but still following the “rules” of fairyland.

The premise behind the series as a whole is that there are seven sacred sites or gates of heaven that had been established on earth ages ago meant to prevent evil from getting a stronghold in the lives of men. But over time these gates have been torn down, desecrated, fallen to ruin, and that has allowed evil to spread. Each of the seven books features one locale of a “gate.” And each book reveals the “Keeper” of the gate—the one appointed by heaven to watch and protect and direct events so that evil cannot prevail. The books are slotted to come out about every six months, so watch for the next installment this fall—The Land of Darkness.

FQ: Everyone has a little once upon a time story where they can pinpoint exactly when they began to write. You claim that you come from a family of writers, but what is your story? Were you one of those little girls who had a diary and wrote little stories for fun and entertainment?

I’ve been writing poetry, short stories, screenplays (bad ones!), and songs for as long as I can remember. I never intended to become a novelist but stories just swam in my head and I had to write them down.

FQ: You do have one, as of yet, unpublished mystery entitled Conundrum. You said it was a “grueling” novel to write. Few people know about this mystery, but perhaps you’d like to give us a privileged upcoming preview of the plot.

I actually have six unpublished novels I am trying to sell right now. Conundrum is mostly autobiographical although a mystery. But it delves into the betrayal my mother fomented against me and my family and I had to draw a lot from that to write the book. I didn’t want to write it but after I had prayed hard about what to write next, God gave me the entire book idea, the first chapter, title, themes, and motifs in a dream, then confirmed it right after with a second dream. I’ve never had that happen before but I guess God knew I would never have written the book if I had thought of doing it. I was faithful to the task although it took me through a year of depression and pain.

Author C.S. Lakin
FQ: Most writers seem to stick to a single genre, but you seem to float with ease between several, yet all are Christian based. We’d enjoy hearing about your faith and what part it plays in your writing.

Our faith is our life and it spills into everything. I hadn’t planned on writing fantasy, since I’d been writing mysteries. But I took ten years off after being discouraged at not getting published. Then I prayed to God to revive my love for writing and asked him to show me what to write for him. Without going into the long story of it, he made it quite clear he wanted me to write fairy tales. Okay, that was a surprise. No one was writing fairy tales, let alone ones Christian –based. Yet, traditional tales are full of Christianity since most of those writers were coming from that place of faith. Often in fairy tales characters cry out to heaven or angels aid them. So I thought I would now just write fairy tales. Yet, in the last few years, I’ve had other stories burn in my heart to write, so I wrote them too. I just completed a huge family saga, a contemporary story of Jacob and Joseph, which has been a wonderful journey of writing. I’m trying now to figure out what publisher might actually be interested in it, as I wrote it in literary style for the commercial market, yet it is strongly about trusting God to lead you out of the wilderness to his promised land.

FQ: If you could step into the future and enter a bookstore to catch a glimpse of a display of bestselling books and one of yours was among them, what would that book be about? How do you feel you can improve your work in order to reach such a goal?

Wow, I would love to see all my books there, but I have to trust God will get my books into the hands of those who need to read them—whether that means they sell big or not. As far as improvement, I always feel I have so much to learn and improve upon. I’m about to take the week-long writing intensive with agent Donald Maass to see how I can write better. I think everyone who feels called to any task should make it their imperative to always improve upon their skills—whether it be writing, surgery, or parenting.

To learn more about The Map Across Time: Gates of Heaven Series (Book 2) please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

To learn more about Someone to Blame please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.