Friday, April 29, 2011

BISG e-book survey

The BISG (Book Industry Study Group) has just posted results of a new survey on consumer attitudes and changing buying habits when it comes to e-books.  No surprise, consumers are embracing e-books and sales are increasing.  To read the full report, head on over to the BISG website.

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted

Breaking Silence The Slabaugh family are model Amish farmers, prosperous and hardworking, with four children and a happy extended family. When the parents and an uncle are found dead in their barn, it appears to be a gruesome accident: methane gas asphyxiation caused by a poorly ventilated cesspit. But in the course of a routine autopsy, the coroner discovers that one of the victims suffered a head wound before death—clearly, foul play was involved. But who would want to make orphans of the Slabaughs’ children? And is this murder somehow related to a recent string of shocking hate crimes against the Amish?

The Elf Queen When Jelani tries on a real glass slipper left lying on the sidewalk, it splits in half and out pours dozens of two-inch high creatures who scurry away into the shadows. As if that's not bizarre enough, she is soon approached by two men claiming (of all things) to be elves who need her help to rescue their queen.

The Gods of Greenwich Jimmy Cusack is the tough kid from a blue-collar neighborhood who made good on Wall Street. Well, almost. After a sterling start to his career, things have soured. His hedge fund has collapsed. The bank is foreclosing on his upscale condominium. And his wife is two months pregnant. That's the good news. When Cusack takes a "must-have" job with Leeser Capital, a Greenwich fund impervious to the capital market woes, his real troubles begin.

Abandon New from #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot, a dark, fantastical story about this world . . . and the underworld. 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.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Author Interview with Sam Moffie

Today we're talking with Sam Moffie, author of The Book of Eli

FQ: Let’s start out with the fact that your ‘look’ into Heaven was extremely hysterical. Now, I have to ask, you write that when the reading and writing of a culture goes down the toilet, so will the culture. Tell readers what you truly believe about the school systems nowadays, and the fact that penmanship and reading seem to have taken a backseat to the electronic world?

First you're extremely nice to me with your comment about Eli being 'hysterical' and then you hit me with the haymaker - making fun of my penmanship. How did you know that my hand writing was terrible? I for one would have loved to have had access to the technology that we have today way back when I went to high school and college (Boardman Senior High and Wittenberg University). Why? Because at both those schools - most of my grades and tests were of the essay variety and my grades would have been better because my penmanship stunk. My teachers/professors would have been able to read my answers and my grades would have been better and my parents would have been happier....

Now public (and probably most private/charter schools) seem to be about babysitting and not educating. I have to base this upon a gut feeling as my kids are way out of the school systems and graduated college. It's all about college for a child to be educated - and only if the child and his/her parents can afford the damn institution. But we must not blame the kids but blame our system that spends gazillions on schools and DOESN'T educate. The return on the investment is terrible.

Technology is getting better every second. People are reading and writing - but it's texting! Did you ever think that texting vernacular would make the dictionary? Great patience is needed everywhere.

FQ: Along those same lines, the arts truly show the intellect of a society. Do you believe that we are, perhaps, headed for the same outcome as the Romans had?

All great civilizations fall from within. History does repeat itself over and over and over again. There are over 300,000 books published every year. And not all are about teen wizards, werewolves, vampires, diets or the celebrity of the month's biography. Unfortunately those are the books that sell - because they have the marketing dollars behind them. What I could do with Eli and one of those high priced marketing plans! Thus, in the world of books, we have diversity, genre and style - we don't have the mass readership that all these books require. Blessedly, we have blogs like yours to help the little guys/gals. Reality TV and movies about comic books have really insulted our collective culture and intellect. The art world is for investors - not painters. Music can be summed up in the fact that Bob Dylan went to China to play and when asked to see his song list, he didn't tell the government to stick it where the sun doesn't shine - he showed them the list! To sum up, it's all about greed. When arts and entertainment are all about the dollars - it's a very bad sign for the culture. Don't get me wrong, capitalism is a good thing. It's just been way out of whack for a while.

FQ: I’m sure, because of your particular subject matter, there are fans out there who ‘protest’ about your books. Do you believe that being dull and conforming is bad for the society? And how should we go about teaching the next generation to appreciate the arts…not to mention humor?

My coffee cup reads 'Conform and be Dull'. But it is way easier in today's world to be an ass-kisser than a rebel. Political correctness has gone crazy and brought near ruin to the humor business. All we can do is keep on trying and never give up. I will always try to make my points with satire and good old fashioned laughter.

FQ: Celebrities and comedians are certainly nothing like Groucho Marx nowadays. Do you wish that comedy could go back to real satire without all the swearing?

Anybody can swear. The f-word doesn't mean what it did years ago. At some point it was important to say the f-word and not be jailed for saying it. Now all they say is 'f-this'. 'f-that', etc. Heck in the movies Scarface, Goodfellows and Casino I don't think one line in each DIDN'T have a f-word in it. Some might say 'those are gangster movies. That is how they talk'. I don't remember The Godfather having any any f-words in it. Anyways... in today's society, when it comes to comedy The Three Stooges should be making a huge comeback. Slapstick, no deep thinking required and the story is very short - perfect for the attention span less America.

FQ: As a personal question - If you were up there, whose line would you most want to stand in to get to speak with them?

I am a patient man, but I wouldn't stand in a line that wasn't moving. I'd go see my Dad if he hasn't gone back to Earth as a dog or a cat. Moses, Ayn Rand, Lincoln, anyone who was deeply involved in leading the French Revolution and of course Groucho!

FQ: Can anyone live by the ten commandments anymore?

Sure, if they are in a coma! I am sure that some people do, I just don't think I will ever meet them or have known them.

FQ: I love the fact that up there Groucho is always surprised when politicians make it through the Pearly Gates. Do you believe any of the ones in the past few decades will be there?

I am surprised that we haven't had a revolution in America. One that brings back the blade of justice. I can't think of one politician (isn't that terrible?). My muse - my wife Juliette said I was too kind to the politicians in the book. But I wanted to blast today's professional athletes and that is what I did. In my next book - the politicians from the 1950's do not fair too well.

FQ: James Lipton is known for his specific questions, so I would like to borrow one. When you reach the Pearly Gates, what would you like to hear God say? (And, whose voice would it be?)

God will say "Samuel... I was just kidding! Go back and have more fun. But remember, I will be watching!" Most likely the voice of God to me will be my Mom. She is still living and I am only 51. I do not want to hear that voice for a very long time. (I will be hoping for John Wayne's voice though).

FQ: I want to thank you immensely for the books you create. Humor is so needed in this difficult and sedate world, and I can honestly say I wish there were more authors like you.

To learn more about The Book of Eli please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted

New and Selected Poems Cherie Burbach's poetry has been described as inspirational, uplifting, lyrical, and diverse. She regularly writes about empowerment, self-esteem, and the power of faith. In New and Selected Poems, she includes several new poems combined with the most popular works from her books The Difference Now, A New Dish, and Father's Eyes.

Vivian's Song In the spring of 1998 the residents of a small Missouri town are alarmed to learn that a New Age cult from California has bought land nearby. The leader of this so-called cult is a former champion bull rider, Cadillac salesman, and Viet Nam vet from Texas named Duke Tanner. Duke built his group on the concept of creating wealth through the power of thought, and he proved his theories by investing in the red hot dotcoms of the San Francisco Bay Area. However, it turns out their nearest neighbor is Senator Charles Wentworth, one of the most conservative members of Congress. The local clergy, outraged by Duke's iconoclastic ideas, organize with Senator Wentworth to oust him. The animosity intensifies when Duke befriends Jimmy Hollingsworth, the grandson of one the wealthiest men in Missouri and the heir to MidWest AgPro, the largest corporate backer of Senator Wentworth. It all comes to a head during a massive protest rally in the tiny town in which supporters of both sides clash.

The Palomar Paradox Each of the characters in 'The Palomar Paradox' deals with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) in their own way. As in real life, some believe; others don't want you to believe. 'The Palomar Paradox' sees Luper Beauchamps, a brilliant scientist, back in an astronomical observatory searching for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence. He finds himself working with Leila Keiler, a young student recovering from leukaemia, and Karina Lowenhaupt, an experienced astronomer. Other characters include, Trent Foresyth, a senior Pentagon official, and his intern, Rihanna Sørensen. They are charged chiefly with quashing all reports of, and evidence for, extraterrestrial activity.

The Burning Lake Another prominent journalist is found murdered in Putin’s Russia, shot to death on the banks of the Techa River near the radioactive village of Metlino. Katarina Mironova, known around the world as Kato, could simply fade from the public eye, one more journalist killed during Putin’s war on the free press, one more statistic in a grim tally. But to Russian agent Alexei Volkovoy, Kato’s murder evokes far more emotion. It summons too many memories, haunts him in too many ways for him to allow her death go unavenged. Volk's investigation takes him from Moscow to Mayak, the site of a nuclear reprocessing plant where a massive explosion occurred in 1958, then to Las Vegas. All the while the life he has known with his long-time lover, Valya, and his patron, the General, slowly unravels as details about his secret ties to Kato begin to emerge. Meanwhile, American contract agent Grayson Stone and shadowy French assassin Jean-Louis have secrets of their own to protect. Secrets born in the Afghan desert and the streets of Fallujah. Secrets about the tragic consequences of a nuclear alliance among venal Russian, American, and French politicians. Secrets the American and the French governments will pay anything to protect. In the end, Volk becomes both the hunter and the hunted in the glittering neon jungle of Las Vegas. Equally at home in the snow-covered woods of the Ural mountains and the seamy alleyways of Industrial Boulevard, Volk tracks his prey across the world trying to learn the truth about the story Kato died trying to report.

A Dog Name Slugger The true life story of a dog who changed everything for one woman. For the first time in my life, I didn't need to pretend, I didn't need to be tough: I only needed to be honest. "I have cerebral palsy. I walk funny and my balance is bad. I fall a lot. My hands shake, too. That means I'm not so good at carrying things. And if I drop stuff, sometimes it's hard to just bend down and get it." I waited anxiously for the interviewer's response. She smiled. "It sounds like a service dog could be great for you." So began Leigh Brill's journey toward independence and confidence, all thanks to a trained companion dog named Slugger. The struggling college student and the Labrador with a "a coat like sunshine" and a tail that never stopped wagging became an instant team. Together, they transformed a challenge into a triumph. Together, they inspired and educated everyone they met. Now, Leigh honors her friend with the story of their life, together.

A Friendly Life S. Prestley ("Pres") Blake and his brother Curtis Blake started the Friendly Ice Cream Company in 1935, in the midst of the Great Depression. Their parents gave them their initial capital, their mother kept the books, and Pres and Curtis worked day and night in their tiny shop. This small family business kept expanding, and over time grew to a 500 plus restaurant chain. The brothers eventually sold their business to the Hershey Corporation. This autobiography of Pres Blake's life starts with this humble beginning. It shows how the brothers invoked straightforward business principles to guide their growth, and by dent of hard work and good advice from other business people, they were able to rapidly grown their restaurant chain. The book also shows Pres' adventures after retirement, including his fascination with cars, with exploring, and with giving back to people and educational institutions. But just as Pres was enjoying his retirement, he was roused to come back and save his "baby" from the management team that had bought the company from Hershey. The last third of the book is devoted to the amazing saga of Pres' fight to liberate his old company from mismanagement. Pres began the fight at age 86, and it took him seven years and tremendous legal fees to make the current ownership say "uncle." This is a fascinating portrait of a man who fought for principles. Age was not going to be a barrier to Pres Blake, who was motivated to make sure his creation continued to be managed properly.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Just Because

by Amy Lignor of The Write Companion

A Touch of Humor Blog:

I have always harbored a dislike of the incredible Joanne Woodward.  Not as an actress or a person, mind you, simply because of an interview that I saw long ago where Joanne was speaking about all the nice things that her husband did for her - even commenting on the fact that they still have the same bed in their bedroom that they’d purchased in Las Vegas (where they were married.)  There was just something about that which irked me.  Now, before anyone gets their hackles up, I believe Joanne Woodward was an amazing talent and one heck of a lady.  But ever since that interview, when women come to me and say how sweet and kind their spouse is, I put them in the “Joanne Woodward” category.  Of course, my wording is not as nice when I mumble it, but this blog is public, after all.

In the simplest terms, I am speaking for all single women out there with my attitude.  Oh, come on…there must be some!  I’ve spoken briefly in the past about my father taking a second job (a secret lawn-mowing gig) so that he could get extra money to send my mother flowers.  Not because it was her birthday, their anniversary, or a super-duper-holiday like Valentine’s Day, where history (and, Hallmark) demands men to give gifts.  No, no.  The card my mother received with her bouquet read simply, ‘Just Because.’  To be honest and state it plainly, I would cut my own arm off for ‘Just Because.’  I also don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility for me to swim with sharks for ‘Just Because,’ if that’s what it takes.

And, speaking of sharks, my daughter who is nineteen and wants more than anything to save all the sharks on the planet through a career in marine biology, has a young man who is extremely respectable and hard-working.  He gave her roses for Valentine’s Day.  I know, the ‘norm.’  However, the card read that he would love her until the last rose died.  I thought.  Hmmm.  Does he realize that roses die quickly?  Is this some kind of warning?  Will I have to rip HIS arm off soon for breaking my daughter’s heart?  No, no.  In the middle of the bouquet was a plastic rose.  Hence, the message in the card.  Yup.  I would rip my leg off for that one.

There was also a necklace given lately that is a key on a chain - I know, key to your heart and all that.  Fluffy?  You bet!  A little on the shtick-y side?  Absolutely!  That one I’d only give up my hand for.

Apparently, I have not yet found the club where these men hang out, but these ‘Joanne Woodward’ women seem to be crawling all over the place like roaches.  The clubhouses I’ve seen are comprised of romantic beings that think “Get in the truck, woman” and then belching loudly in your ear, is the same as taking bended knee and saying, “Will you marry me, sweetheart?”  Also in the clubhouses I’ve seen are true intellectuals who can’t seem to understand why I don’t have a British accent if I’m from New England.  Nope, not kidding.

You know what I think?  Joanne Woodward made a pact with Fate to make sure that when I used her name in vain, I would be delivered the most UN-charming Prince in the kingdom.  Bitter?  Heck, no.  I still have all my body parts, after all  AND I get more time to clean the house  In fact, this past weekend I scrubbed my shower so clean that it shines like it just came off the Home Depot floor.  Of course, I sprayed so many chemicals that I am still recovering.  I felt very much like a cross between a Marilyn Manson follower and a Jack the Ripper wanna‘-be for a time.  But I suppose once in a while it’s good to see vapor trails as people pass you by.  Makes almost everyone you see look like Mr. Darcy.  Ahh…Mr. Darcy.  He could be buried in a pile of pride and prejudice and I’d still stand in the corner and drool.

So, for all you Joanne Woodward’s out there, I just want to let you know how lovely and wonderful it is that you have a sweet, kind man at your side.  And the only thing I can say is, I hope beyond all hope that they at LEAST leave the seat up once in a while…just to even things out.

Until Next Time,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Book club contest winners to receive personal visit by New York Times bestselling author Andy Andrews

One lucky book club will be selected to receive a personal visit from Andy Andrews. 

Andy Andrews, author of the New York Times bestselling novels The Traveler’s Gift and The Noticer is giving book clubs across the nation the opportunity to win a personal visit from him at their book club.

Though he was once living under a pier on the Gulf Coast, Andy Andrews has since written numerous bestselling self-help and personal growth novels.  He is a popular speaker who is highly regarded for his masterful story-telling, family-style humor, and life-changing advice. He has met personally with four U.S. presidents and the Department of Defense regularly flies him to hot spots around the world to speak with members of the armed forces before they are deployed. He walked the golf course with LPGA Hall of Fame golfer Nancy Lopez as she played her last tournament as a touring professional.

The contest is free and open to the book clubs anywhere in the United States. To enter, a book club member simply needs to register online. Any book club with five or more members can enter. The entry form is located at:

The deadline for entering the contest is June 14, 2011.  One book club will be selected at random at 1 PM Central Time on June 15, 2011.

The winning club will be contacted and Andy Andrews will schedule an appearance with the book club IN PERSON, at a time and location to be determined.

All members of the winning book club will also receive a copy of The Final Summit autographed by Andy Andrews in person.

Andy will come to a book club meeting and be prepared to discuss his books and answer any questions the book club members have.

This book club contest coincides with the release of his latest novel, The Final Summit, available nationwide April 12.

The Final Summit
By Andy Andrews


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Author interview with Dr. Fred Bortz

Today we're talking with Dr. Fred Bortz, author of numerous books including Seven Wonders of Exploration Technology and Seven Wonders of Space Technology

FQ: When you were a young man you received your Ph.D. in physics from Carnegie Mellon by the age of twenty-six. That in itself is an amazing accomplishment. When did you make the shift from teaching and research to writing science books for children? Perhaps you’d like to tell us about the transition.

It wasn't a transition as much as a series of discoveries. To succeed in college teaching or research, you need to find an area that you can study more and more deeply and more more narrowly. In other words, you need to be a specialist. I was, and still am, always interesting in finding something completely new.

Another important ingredient in success is focusing your written work on an audience of other people who specialize in the same area that you do. I always preferred to interact with people who were doing something else.

My children's writing began with silly verse and picture-story magazine fiction, because I was looking for a change from my day-to-day work. I finally realized that the more important change was not to get away from science but to write for young readers, especially those who were curious and liked to challenge ideas like I did when I was around 11 or 12.

I didn't become a full-time writer until I was 52 years old and in a job at a university that was about to disappear. I could have looked for another job and ended up with a lot more income, but instead I decided I could afford to follow my creative side. Reviewers tell me that my books are solid scientifically and have some good story-telling. When I visit schools, I can also see that my books change my readers' lives and their way of thinking for the better. That makes me feel richer than I ever could if I had decided to get another job working for someone else.

FQ: Your transition was obviously a successful one as you are still writing books. You seem to have a knack for relaying difficult science concepts to your young audience in a manner that is easy for them to understand. Is this easy for you to accomplish? Can you tell us how you might talk to them about something like a quark?

It depends how you define success. I just loved what I was doing too much to give it up, even though it has been a struggle to earn enough money.

Thank you for saying that I have a knack for connecting to my readers so they can understand some ideas that might seem difficult. Other reviewers seem to agree. The fact is that ideas that seem difficult are usually only different. The greatest ideas in physics, for example, are not difficult if you find the right perspective to view them from. I'm able to figure out what wrong assumptions were standing in my way before I figured something out. Sometimes I have to help my readers get past the wrong assumptions, and sometimes I can just place them on the right path so they never get trapped by a common misconception.

Quarks aren't that difficult to understand if you follow the history of how physicists came to understand matter. The path seems clear when you leave out all the false steps and backtracking that happened while trying to discover that path. Of course, a lot of the fun of learning is to try out a new direction, discover it is wrong, and backtrack until you find a better way. I try to include some of that if I can.

FQ: You are now considered “one of the nation’s leading writers of science and technology for young readers.” It must be enormously gratifying to have become so accomplished in this field. If you were to choose one and only one of your books that you are the most proud of, which would you choose and why?

You're reading my self-advertising, though I think I have actually come close to that level of ability.

Since I'm in the business of changing lives for the better, the books that I am proudest of are the ones with human as well as scientific stories. Beyond Jupiter: The Story of Planetary Astronomer Heidi Hammel is part of the "Women's Adventures in Science" biography series, and some of Heidi's personal struggles certainly arose from the fact that she was a young woman making her way in a male-dominated field. But her triumphs and her science have lessons for both boys who are becoming men and girls who are becoming women. She knew what she wanted out of life, recognized her strengths and the obstacles in her way, used her strengths to reach her goals, and then didn't waste any time figuring out what she wanted to do next.

I also wrote a book of profiles called To the Young Scientist: Reflections on Doing and Learning Science. It is a set of in-their-own-words profiles of successful men and women who worked on remarkable projects. No one had it easy. I related to Frank Asaro who, like me, helped his father earn a high school diploma at age 65. He also was a nuclear chemist who helped figure out that an asteroid impact wiped out the dinosaurs. Carolyn Shoemaker, who has discovered more comets than any living person, was in her fifties before she became involved in science professionally. She became famous when one of the comets she discovered crashed in Jupiter while the whole world was watching. And Richard Smalley, who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry the year after I interviewed him, told me that when he was in high school, no one thought he would amount to much--and neither did he!

Dr. Fred presents "Our Next Planet," August 7, 2002
Photo courtesy Ron Paarmann, Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory

FQ: In 2002 you were the winner of the American Institute Physics Science award for your book, Techno-Matter: The Materials Behind the Marvels. You’ve won many awards, but without a doubt this is one of the more prestigious. This is one award every children’s science writer would love to win. Would you like to toot your horn about this award? We’d love to listen!

The best part of the award for me was the fact that my fellow physicists recognized that my unusual career path had produced something worthwhile. I think they gave it to me more for the subject matter than for how well it was written. Materials science and engineering is a very important field for technology, but even a lot of high school students who are going to college for science or engineering have never heard of it or considered it.

Unfortunately the company that published it soon went bankrupt, and the book never got the attention the award should have brought it. Still, it probably influenced a few students to discover materials science and engineering as a college major or career, and it will continue to influence others as long as it remains in libraries. There's that theme again: changing lives for the better. That's something worth tooting about.

You can find my acceptance speech for that award on line at

FQ: You say that “science in not about answers but rather about questions and the way we follow them to discoveries.” Can you expound a bit on this statement and give us a couple of examples?

The best answer way to answer this is to point to my book Martian Fossils on Earth? The Story of Meteorite ALH84001. It is about a meteorite that came from Mars and that some scientists think shows evidence that life started on the Red Planet at about the same time it did on Earth. The title of the book and each chapter is a question, including a chapter that asks, "Do All Scientists Agree About the Meaning of These Findings?" Discovering signs of present or past life on Mars would be exciting, and that meteorite certainly is interesting, but we still have many questions left to follow about that rock (and other pieces of evidence) before we can say for certain that Mars is or was a living world.

FQ: In addition to writing, you also make school visits. One of your programs, Our Next Planet: Why, When, and How People Will Settle Another World, is very intriguing. Can you tell us about this program and how it excites your young audience?

I first developed that program when I was invited to keynote the second annual Science and Engineering Expo for the Idaho National Environmental and Engineering Laboratory which was combined with Snake River Roaring Youth Jam in Idaho Falls in 2002. They asked me for something that might interest all ages, so I thought about something that would fire the imagination in the same way that planetarium shows did for me when I was the age of my readers.

I was just beginning to explore planetary science in my books, and I thought back to the way travel to the Moon inspired me in the mid-1950s. That was before a single satellite had been sent into orbit, but the planetarium director, Arthur Draper, was already looking ahead to people landing on the Moon. I quickly realized that by the 2030s and 2040s, when the children in my audience would be building their careers, the US and other nations would be preparing to send people like them to Mars!

I also knew that some engineers were thinking of building Mars bases after that. Even later in the century, the grandchildren of the Mars pioneers might begin the process of terraforming--using technology to make Mars more Earthlike. After 500-1000 more years, Mars might have breathable air, Earthlike weather, lakes and rivers, forests, farms, factories, and cities.

Meanwhile, rocket technology would be improving and people from both planets might start working together to send spacecraft to other solar systems, which we were just beginning to find in the late 1990s. By the year 2500 or 3000, we will certainly know a lot of Earthlike worlds, and we might have the technology to visit one and perhaps even settle there.

I recently updated that talk because we now know about more than 500 other planets, including one that might be a lot like Earth. We are also starting to test new kinds of rockets that could send spacecraft to the stars.

As much as I enjoy giving that talk, I have a new one that might be even better. It is based on my "Cool Science" book called Astrobiology, which is the science of life on other worlds. It includes and goes beyond the question of life on Mars to life elsewhere in the Solar System and on planets and moons in other solar systems.

I call that talk The Truth About Space Aliens: What We Know and Don't Know About Life on Other Worlds. I presented it for the first time in Johnstown, PA, in March 2011, and the school bought copies of Astrobiology for all the 3rd and 4th graders. We had an out-of-this-world good time!

FQ: You have garnered several fans with your work and many of them would like a sneak preview of your next work. Have you got something in the works and would you like to share with us what we can be looking for?

I have completed a manuscript and selected the illustrations for a book based on my "Our Next Planet" talk, but the publisher is slowing its pace of putting out new books, so I don't want to predict when it will appear or name the publisher.

I just wrote a proposal for a book about nuclear reactor accidents. I am hoping some publisher will accept the idea so I can feel comfortable spending a lot of time to do a careful analysis of the news from the Japanese Fukushima Daiichi reactors that were damaged in the recent earthquake and tsunami. In my 1995 book Catastrophe! Great Engineering Failure--and Success had a chapter comparing and contrasting the reactor accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. I ended that chapter by saying that nuclear power would become an issue again in my readers' lifetime, and that people will argue about what lessons we should learn from those accidents.

The arguments happened about the way I predicted. The Fukushima reactor failures are changing what we know, but not as much as people think. Those reactors were built according to an old design, and people knew that there was some risk in not replacing them. The new design might not have been damaged as badly and certainly would not have released nearly as much radiation.

I'm starting to study the lessons from Fukushima, and I am hoping that a good publisher will be interested in having me share what I learn with middle graders or young adult readers.

To learn more about Seven Wonders of Exploration Technology please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

To learn more about Seven Wonders of Space Technology please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Blank Book Becomes A Bestseller

Funny story about a self-published blank book that topped the Amazon charts.  Click here for the story.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted

Wow! It's been a busy week at Feathered Quill. Check out all the great books that came in for review!

Big Cat, Little Kitty Big cats are fierce predators that roam the world from the mountains to the deserts. How are these wild cats that hunt for their food the same as pet cats that might chase a mouse or ball of yarn? How are they different? Children learn the days of the week as they travel to seven different world habitats to meet the big cats, and then back home to compare and contrast the domestic cat's behavior to that of its relative. The award-winning prequel to this book, One Wolf Howls, introduces children to counting and the months of the year as they watch the seasons change.

Deep in the Desert Catchy desert twists on traditional children's songs and poems will have children chiming in about cactuses, camels, and more as they learn about the desert habitat and its flora and fauna. Tarkawara hops on the desert sand instead of a kookaburra sitting in an old gum tree. And teapots aren't the only things that are short and stout just look at the javelina's hooves and snout. Travel the world's deserts to dig with meerkats, fly with bats, and hiss with Gila monsters! Whether sung or read aloud, Deep in the Desert makes learning about deserts anything but dry.

Brother Jerome and the Angels in the Bakery The angels love to visit Brother Jerome's monastery bakery, because it's the place that smells the most like heaven. But when the abbot asks Brother Jerome to open his bakery to the public, the young monk doubts that he can get customers into the shop to try his breads. With the encouragement of his abbot and a little angelic assistance, he gains the self-confidence he needs to have a successful bakery. Brother Jerome and the Angels in the Bakery is a charming children's book from public television's popular baker monk, Father Dominic Garramone. Young readers will relate to Brother Jerome's anxieties about failure, and Richard Bernal's detailed artwork offer a unique vision of monks, angels, and baking.

The Glaciers are Melting! Chicken Little may have thought the sky was falling but Peter Pika is sure the glaciers are melting and is off to talk to the Mountain Monarch about it. Joined along the way by friends Tammy Ptarmigan, Sally Squirrel, Mandy Marmot, and Harry Hare, they all wonder what will happen to them if the glaciers melt. Where will they live, how will they survive? When Wiley Wolverine tries to trick them, can the Mountain Monarch save them? More importantly, can the Mountain Monarch stop the glaciers from melting?

Habitat Spy Let's spy on thirteen different habitats and find out who lives there. Told in rhyming narrative, Habitat Spy invites children to search for plants, invertebrates, birds, and mammals living in North American habitats: backyard, beach, bog, cave, desert, forest, meadow, mountain, ocean, plains, pond, river, and swamp. Children will have fun discovering the characteristics of each habitat as they find and identify the resident plants and animals, while learning about what living things need to survive.

Meet the Planets Soar into the Solar System to witness the first Favorite Planet Competition, emceed by none other than the former-ninth planet, now known as dwarf planet Pluto. The readers become the judges after the sun can't pick a favorite and the meteors leave for a shower. Who will the lucky winning planet be? Could it be speedy-messenger Mercury, light-on-his-feet Saturn, or smoking-hot Venus? Readers learn all about each planet as Pluto announces them with short, tongue-in-cheek facts. Children of all ages will spend hours searching the art for all the references to famous scientists and people of history, space technology, constellations, art, and classic literature.

To Begin Again TO BEGIN AGAIN is a collection of short stories and essays that focus on the subtle realizations we all come to that, often unexpectedly, lead to life-altering circumstances.

The Book of Eli Eli Canaan is a believer. And, like many, he believes himself to be a principled man. Well, for the most part anyway. But, after a series of misteps, sins, some would say, Eli's life is suddenly and unexpectedly altered forever. A spurned wife, a gypsy, a hex and spiritual intervention may all be at the root of Eli's unexpected, deep and earnest introspection.

The Biggest Loser Flavors of the World Cookbook Pizza. Huevos Rancheros. Pad Thai. Enchiladas. Some of America’s most-craved foods aren’t “American” in the traditional sense—they’re the international foods we love to order at restaurants or have delivered to our homes. But most renditions of these beloved ethnic dishes are full of fat and calories. How can dieters get the flavor they crave, without buying one of those reduced-calorie frozen meals that are full of salt and other preservatives? Now, with The Biggest Loser Flavors of the World Cookbook, they can have their lasagna and eat it too! With more than 75 recipes for favorite ethnic staples as well as legendary regional American cuisine created by Chef Devin Alexander and The Biggest Loser contestants, healthy eating has never been more exciting.

Soulistry - Artistry of the Soul: Creative Ways to Nurture Your Spirituality This book encourages readers to re-connect with the intangible soul-essence of life and experience rich spiritual growth. Through a series of over 80 inspirational quotations from ordinary and extraordinary human beings around the world living in different centuries along with accompanying Soul-Questions, this creative book challenges, nurtures and nourishes spirituality. In today?s culture, more and more people are becoming aware of the importance of balance in their lives: physically (body), intellectually (mind) and spiritually (soul/spirit). There is a growing indefinable awareness that being spiritual is a vital component of being human, not only for those with a religious belief/practice, but also for those for whom there is no discernible connection with organized religion, no acknowledgment of the existence of God/Holy Other/Creator/Higher Power, no awareness or understanding of themselves as having a purpose in life.

Among the Departed: A Constable Molly Smith Mystery Fifteen years ago a young girl by the name of Moonlight Smith went to her best friend Nicky Nowak’s house for a sleepover. Moonlight joined the family for breakfast the following morning and was then picked up by her mother. Shortly after, Mr. Nowak went for a walk. He was never seen again.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Author Interview with Robert Orfali

Today we're talking with Robert Orfali, author of Grieving a Soulmate: The Love Story Behind "Till Death Do Us Part"

FQ: Most of us are as you claim, “death virgins,” and don’t think about the actual process of death until it is almost literally knocking on our door. What are some of the preparations people should make before they find themselves in a crisis mode?

The short answer is that we need to familiarize ourselves with the workings of our byzantine “end-of-life” system. It’s a bizarre system that combines high-tech medical interventions with a medieval view of death. In the age of slow dying, this combination can be extremely toxic. About 80% of us will not leave life the way we would like to: at home and without needless suffering. The bottom line is that we have a very complex end-of-life system that requires a lot of skillful navigation. There are tons of gotchas that can result in big-time suffering. I touched on some of this in Grieving a Soulmate (see Chapter 3, “The Good Death”). This is the chapter I wish I had read before Jeri’s death.

FQ: You talk about the love you felt for Jeri as she was dying by stating “It’s impossible to imagine two people being more intimate and close.” Can you tell us about these cherished moments?

Jeri and I were always madly in love. The love grew deeper during the ten years when we fought her cancer. It peaked during the last three or four days: it was very tender. It’s a great privilege to help someone die—especially your lover. It’s like helping give birth except in reverse. Of course, the survivor has to deal with the enormous pain of grief. In a soulmate relationship, it’s much easier to be the first to die.

FQ: “Grief bursts,” or “unexpected waves of grief,” can be incapacitating and extremely painful. You described it in part as your “own private holocaust all in my mind.” How and when did you begin to realize that you could help yourself?

The “holocaust” in my mind first began on the day after she died when I woke up the next morning in a world without Jeri. During this immediate period, the grief bursts can sometimes be very intense and even suicidal. Luckily, I went numb for a while dealing with the ocean funeral and all that stuff. The grief bursts resumed after the funeral. They just kept coming and coming with short lulls in between. I used these lulls to organize my thinking—to understand what was happening to me. It took me a month to come up with a plan on how to beat back these grief bursts. I used “divide and conquer” to break down the grief. I divided my grief and assigned it to five different buckets. Then I was able to separately deal with the grief in each bucket. The trick is not to take on the grief in its totality—it’s too overwhelming.

FQ: Can you briefly describe how you would “tally up your grief bursts” and describe how you used your “grief burst buckets” and what they are?

Each one of us will have our own buckets, the triggers of grief bursts. You can use mine as templates. In my case there were five buckets: 1) the flashbacks of the last days—the trauma of watching Jeri die, 2) survivor's guilt—I was alive but Jeri wasn’t, 3) she’s gone forever—the yearning cycle, 4) self-pity—I would have to recreate my world without her, and 5) the deep existential questions: where did she go? what was her life all about?

Each of my grief bursts fell into one of these categories. I learned how to recognize them. At first I just noted them. Later I devised methods for eradicating them. Once you pop a grief burst it never comes back. I measured my progress by tracking the number of daily grief bursts.

FQ: At one point you talked about how a village supported the bereaved and its absence in today’s society, yet you have many emails to others in your book. Perhaps you did have your own “village.” How did emailing help you in your grief process?

A modern soulmate relationship replaces an entire village. Consequently, it encapsulates many of the bonds that were once distributed across a village. If you think about it, we put all our eggs in one basket. When that basket breaks we’re left alone to grieve. It’s the nature of soulmate grief: it can’t be shared. Friends were helpful but it was my grief to carry. I had to learn how to deal with it. Jeri’s girlfriends were with her when she was dying, and they experienced flashbacks of those last days. We could share that grief. We were all in shock trying to make sense of what had happened. My first e-mails were addressed to the girlfriends. They dealt with my grief bucket from “the last days.” We were trying to help each other. Later, my e-mails were sent to a larger group of friends. I tried to keep them posted on what I was doing about my entire grief. I found writing therapeutic, and it helped me organize my thinking. I wasn’t expecting responses: the sad truth is that my friends couldn’t bring Jeri back to life, however much they would have loved to. Finally, I used some of these e-mails to communicate with my grief counselor. We used them to go over my “grief work” strategy. By the way, this grief work is what I found missing from grief theory. The theorists describe grief—including its stages and phases—but don’t tell you what to do about it. They do not provide a recipe for grief work.

FQ: Everyone has lapses of one sort or another. Have you had any grief bursts since the completion of this book and if so, how did you handle them?

The red-hot pain stopped after four months of hard work. I’ve stopped experiencing these horrible grief bursts that took full control over my being. Now, I can control them and deflect them. Remember, it’s all in the mind. My “cure” worked for me. I miss Jeri's physical presence, but I can function. Our love relationship continues, in absentia. It’s like a long-distance love relationship. I talk to her all the time. This continuing love bond is a very important part of healing—again, you won’t get much of that from grief theory.

To learn more about Grieving a Soulmate: The Love Story Behind "Till Death Do Us Part", please read the review at Feathered Quill Book Reviews

Author Interview with Chris Albert Wells

Today we're talking to Chris Albert Wells, author of Jesus: God, Man or Party Label? The Dead Sea Scrolls’ Messiah Code

FQ: I must begin with the in-depth research done in producing your book. May I ask if the ‘journey’ is over? Or, is your personal quest going to continue - unveiling even more about the Dead Sea Scrolls?

The “journey” is certainly not over. I would even say that the road has just been freed. Connecting the two Dead Sea Scrolls’ messiahs with the two messiahs in the Gospels opens more perspectives than any of the previous historical and/or mystery interpretations. 

FQ: You state that the public’s interest in the Scrolls was lost over time because of ‘unclear conclusions due to intense scholarly debates.’ Do you believe - or, hope - that this book will re-ignite that passion?

The passionate academic debates attempting to link the Scrolls and the Gospels had not figured out the messiah-mediated connection.  We can now expect a renewed interest, not only in the Dead Sea Scrolls but also in the Gospels.

FQ: You speak about how religion is a pattern: A charismatic leader who leaves behind a split community, who is then executed, and expected to return. Could you please go into this ‘view’ a bit more for our readers?

When closed communities, such as a religious sect, lose their founding guru, a new leadership is a risky affair that predictably ends up with discussions, contesting, and divisions.  That is what happened after the execution of the charismatic Qumran leader. An initial community consensus developed to save the sacred alliance and survive as a group. Consensus was later followed by a split within the community ranks.

The sectarian writers expressed their party divisions by using two distinct messiahs. Both Qumran messiahs were separate comeback identities involving the Teacher’s arbitration and each messiah represented a different community strategy.

FQ:There are many who’ve stated that the Bible IS a ‘Good Book,’ in the fact that it has the good guy/bad guy, a plot…almost like a play. Do you believe this to be true? That, perhaps, Mark was not the only one to ‘create characters?’

The Bibles reflect community history, ethics and strategies. They can be valued as human documents. Characters and stories are often made up but have roots deep in the past. King Solomon is typical of the good guy – bad guy plot.

Evangelist Mark belongs to the Old Testament culture. He uses the same writing methods and also invents his emblematic characters: Jesus and John the Baptist stood for two rivaling factions, this time competing within a divided Essene community. Jesus, symbolizing the avant-garde takes over from the Baptist who is no more than a caricature of the Essene traditionalists.

FQ: I like the fact that you address many views where religion is concerned. When you state that some people ‘turn a blind eye’ when it comes to the ‘proof’ of the Dead Sea Scrolls, is it possible that this ‘blind eye’ could, quite simply, be faith? 

Revising established religious ideas is generally met with skepticism, sometimes with interest. But the “blind eye” is not only a matter of faith.  

Habits of thought and intellectual laziness can be just as blind. It may surprise many that university teachers are rarely very open-minded. They are even terribly allergic to ideas that they have not personally formulated and will weigh on their reputation to destroy them. That's however a normal reaction. We can unfortunately give endless examples of brilliant ideas that were rejected for decades as being extremely foolish by influential and self-righteous university stars.

FQ: I agree that there are a great many ideas that show Christianity to be a “blend” of other religions. But aren’t there also other ‘directions’ that, over time, have become ‘unbelievable’ by people? Such as the fact that astrology was once highly revered in religious and scientific circles but is now simply a carnival attraction. Do you believe that the quest for truth should continue for the faithful? 

In the world of religions, truth is what one accepts to believe. Liberal Christians are criticized by apologists because they tend to reject the mysteries and retain a moral code taught by an exeptional man. 

The quest for truth can go one step further, abandoning faith, and focus more realistically on the community strategies behind the sacred texts. 

Why was “Jesus” so successful? The group behind Jesus essentially offered eternal life on a new and democratic basis suppressing a privilege that was previously reserved only to an elite. Jesus’ prime product was just as important in the first centuries as today debates on paid holidays for all, social security for all, and retirement pensions for all. No exclusions if you only would join our party!

FQ: On a personal note…per your words: “Religions last longer than Empires, but all eventually collapse.” In this day - with so much negativity in every area of life - do you think that the power of faith is just as important as the questioning of it? 

Religions being imposed onto us within a given society, the very idea of a personal faith should be handled with care. So what are we really questioning or accepting?  

Faith has the power to make us accept many ready-made and collectively shared answers. Faith can enable us to live in communities and help to face individually the negative areas of life. People can also live without faith, or with different ones. 

Questioning faith really means revising established rules and eventually creating a new institution. The quest has often been instrumental in making societies progress and accept new moral codes.

To learn more about  Jesus: God, Man or Party Label? The Dead Sea Scrolls’ Messiah Code, please read the review at Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Author Interview with Lin Pardey

Today we're talking with Lin Pardey, author of Bull Canyon, A Boatbuilder, a Writer, and Other Wildlife

FQ: Many people would find that sailing on the Seraffyn would be a challenging, somewhat daunting adventure of a lifetime, yet somehow when reading Bull Canyon, I sensed that building a boat in the middle of nowhere seemed more daunting to you. Not all your time in Bull Canyon was peaches and cream. Aside from those pesky packrats, what was the hardest part of living in Bull Canyon?

Managing my time was definitely made much more difficult by the remoteness and lack of communications. In order to have the materials Larry needed for boatbuilding, the supplies we needed for general living, I often had to be away searching the timber yards and supply houses of Los Angeles and Orange County for two days at a time. Then there was the day each week I spent in the local town making phone calls, picking up the post, doing laundry. Finding time to get my writing work done, help Larry and still set some aside to relax and enjoy friends, family and each other was the most challenging part of life in the canyon.

FQ: Everyone has marvelous qualities, but we all have those that sometimes make the next guy roll his eyes. You claimed that Larry's determination was "his biggest strength," but was "also at times his fatal flaw." What is his most endearing quality? Was your time in Bull Canyon one of those periods of time in life that brought you together more closely as a couple and how? Of course Larry is welcome to chime in about one of Lin's most endearing qualities and fatal (if he dares).

One of Larry’s best qualities definitely is his willingness to acknowledge and encourage me to develop and use what he calls, “the skills you have that complement mine.” As close as we had been before we moved to the canyon (remember we often spent weeks at sea in the confines of a 24 foot sailboat) we definitely solidified our relationship in the wide open spaces of the canyon because he cheered me on as I explored my writing skills, tried my hand at woodworking and went on to challenge the bureaucrats we encountered.

Larry laughed when I asked what he considers my strongest point and at the same time my fatal flaw. “That’s easy, you are generous as can be with your time and energy. Sometimes you give too much to everyone else and end up with none left over for you or me.”

FQ: Everyone in the sailing world thinks of you and Larry as "sailing legends." Your time in Bull Canyon seemed like a pleasant interlude, a time where memories were created. What do you miss most about living there? The least?

Just last week, (early spring) when we were in California, we took time to drive out to Bull Canyon. Surprisingly, very little has changed since we left. In fact fewer people live there now. The old stone cottage is still lovely but has gone into foreclosure so is deserted and neglected looking. As we walked among the trees that still shade the yard and tower over the remains of the old boatshop I found myself yearning to finish restoring the cottage and its grounds. I really did enjoy making the place look lived in and loved. But then I thought of dust and heat of summer, the roughness of the long dirt road and remembered what I liked least about life in the canyon.

FQ: You and Larry had dreams that turned to schemes. Your life in Bull Canyon gives your audience a wonderful glimpse inside your lives and the couple who were behind your series of highly popular sailing books. Any more dreaming and scheming in your future? Another book perhaps?

I couldn’t imagine life without schemes and dreams. But we learned an important lesson by listening to potential voyagers telling their friends they planned to sail around the world. Those folks got their life together, set off for a voyage and maybe went down to Mexico for six or eight months. Then something happened, a parent became ill, finances changed, what ever. They had to return home and now all their friends asked, “What happened? Thought you were going around the world,” in effect implying they failed. They hadn’t really failed; they’d had a fine time. But, they had set themselves up for failure. So now we warn potential voyagers, and potential writers, never tell anyone what you plan to do. It is far safer to keep that information to yourselves just in case something changes.

FQ: Together you've sailed more than 200,000 miles, some of it on the Taleisin, the boat that was born in Bull Canyon. For the audience new to your work and the world of sailing, perhaps you could briefly talk about a memorable time when you and Larry were on the seas with her.

Taleisin scurried quickly before warm caressing tradewinds a few months after we’d rounded Cape Horn. It was my watch. Larry slept soundly in the pilot berth as I climbed out on deck. The moon had just set and the full darkness of night made the green bioluminescent glow of the boat’s wake seem even brighter. I’d checked on the chart and noted that we should soon sight the navigation light that marks the southern end of the big island of Hawaii. So after checking around the deck to make sure everything was as it should be, running lights shinning brightly, lines neatly coiled, sails steady, I stood on the cabin top to scan the horizon ahead of us. Then I spotted it, a wink of light far ahead. I watched for a few moments and realized the light didn’t seem to be bright white; it didn’t seem to flash in a regular pattern. I climbed quietly below, careful not to wake Larry and grabbed the binoculars. Back on deck, I climbed onto the cabin top and leaned against the mast to steady myself. As I slowly focused the binoculars the light turned into a golden river that left me feeling breathless. Just like the early Polynesian sailors who had explored the vast expanses of the Pacific in open canoes, my first sight of these fabled islands, the beacon that welcomed me to a new and fertile land, was a glow of lava seeping down from the heights of a huge volcano to hiss into the churning waters of the sea.

FQ: How long did it take you to write Bull Canyon?

I wrote the bare bones of the first five chapters almost 20 years ago. They languished in a file folder for twelve years. A chance encounter with Maria Eugenia Bestani, a professor of English Literature from the University of Tucuman, Argentina made me reconsider those chapters. Even with her encouragement and the enthusiasm of Kathryn Mulders, a Canadian literary agent, 8 years passed before I was fully satisfied with the manuscript. That’s 20 years from inception to completion—-not a record but definitely a long gestation.

FQ: It is fascinating to watch the progress of Taleisin through the pictures in Bull Canyon. What was it like to see Taleisin taking shape before your eyes? Was it bittersweet in any way in that it represented a time when you would leave Bull Canyon?

The only thing I like better than watching things being built is being part of that process. Watching Taleisin take shape was utterly fulfilling. Each new piece of timber that was fitted then varnished felt like a reason to celebrate. At first, I didn’t want the construction to go too quickly as I was enjoying the adventure of being on shore, savoring canyon life. I came to love our daily routines, my writing time (and wonderful office,) contact with my family. But as the frames slowly began to look more like a boat that would carry us onto new adventures, I began feeling ever more restless. Looking back, I feel blessed that the project and our time in Bull Canyon lasted just long enough. What is the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever received? Soon after I started writing sailing stories almost 35 years ago, a magazine editor took me to meet a quite famous London literary agent. “Haven’t been attacked by any sharks? Haven’t been eaten by a whale? Forget it, no one will read a book that doesn’t have a really dramatic story.” It was about three years later that our first sailing book was published. It told about life on a small boat and the interesting encounters we had with people along our sailing route. There are no big dramas, only a few days of stormy weather and lots of fine sailing tales. Cruising in Seraffyn has now sold over 50,000 copies and is still in print and available as an eBook, and people still write to tell me they how much they enjoyed the story.

To learn more about Bull Canyon, A Boatbuilder, a Writer, and Other Wildlife please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

“You Shall Love No Other God But Me!” ...Love, Mom

by Amy Lignor of The Write Companion

A Touch of Humor Blog:

“You Shall Love No Other God But Me!” …Love, Mom

In some houses the phrase, “Wait until your father gets home!” was a familiar mantra.  Not in mine.  When the eyes of God were upon you in my house…it was Mom.  She was the owner of the look.  You know?  THE LOOK!  When ‘The Look’ came over her face even the cat, (who belonged to her), hightailed it out of the room so fast, it was like Superman had been called to a natural disaster.  Even Mom’s favorite dog, Jo-Jo, had the common sense to leave the room and send me or my sister a glance back over his shoulder that said, “Sorry, hon.  But at least it’s not my fault.”  Mom was, and is, a great mother.  She never believed in laying a hand on a child.  Of course, she didn’t need to, ‘The Look’ was worse than anything I’ve seen; even the ‘Texas Chainsaw Killer’ didn’t look that scary.  This week, I’m going to tell you about Mom.  I swear, they’ve made some very good movies and television shows about this woman.

Mom, The Barbarian:  I was overweight and my sister was…meek.  These were the two difficulties we had to struggle with growing up.  I never met a bread product that I didn’t like (so other kids made sure to tease me at every turn); and, my sister brought gum to school everyday so the mean b…I mean, girls, would leave her alone and/or be her friend.  Mom didn’t take kindly to seeing us cry.  Therefore, whenever someone was mean to us, she slipped on that armor and made sure that other kids “rued” the day they ever spoke a bad word about her daughters.

Mom, The Vampire Slayer:  At a young age I had a gallbladder attack (apparently the bread products were a bad thing).  Upside?  Not a lot of teasing occurred from then on out.  Downside?  Those boys began appearing.  Only one broke my heart, but when he went for the jugular Mom took him out!  She didn’t need a stake - ‘The Look’ worked just fine.  Even those morons had the brains to know they were about to see Heaven first hand.  With my sister?  ‘The Look’ worked the same way.  Boys fell into that cemetery…and they never reappeared again.

The Good Wife:  Mom and Dad had a special relationship.  They almost never got mad at each other - except when he drained the milk and left the carton in the fridge; or he piled the garbage pail up so high that when she walked through the pantry in fell like a Las Vegas casino that’d seen its final days.  Dad always giggled when she mumbled angrily from the kitchen…but that was about it.  (She got him back by rearranging the furniture so that he would come in and trip over the couch).  But they always sat in the living room at night, and looked over at each other every once in a while.  They said that they were “checking on each other.”  I know he still does that…every time he looks down from Heaven.

Mary-’an’ The Librarian:  Mom worked at the local library for most of her life.  She loves books and has more knowledge in her little finger than a Yale graduate could ever hope to have in his whole head.  She turned my sister and I on to the power of books and, because of her passion for the written word, I was able to go after my dream.

Friends:  There was a time in my life when I couldn’t speak to anyone about certain things.  It was one of those ‘dark’ adolescent times in life where you knew everything and the rest of the world knew nothing.  Every night when I came home, there would be a folded letter on my pillow.  The letters were always words of encouragement, words of love, and a reminder that Mom was there if I ever needed or wanted to talk about anything.  The letters were signed ‘Me’ with the smiley face underneath.  Those letters got me through more than she will ever know.

My Mother’s Daughter:  Time has gone by; my sister and I have brought our own children into the world, and the perfect Mom became the perfect Grandma.  She has taught my daughter a great many things, just like she did me.  And, thankfully, I was smart enough to remember all she taught so I could pass the gifts of knowledge, love, acceptance, and encouragement on to my own child.  Now, my daughter calls me the perfect Mom, and the ring on her cell phone lights up with the word ‘God’ whenever I call her.  Of course, I’m not God.  I‘m just her daughter. 

A very, very grateful daughter.  Me

Monday, April 11, 2011

Co-op opportunity with the Authority on Cooking In America!

Five Star Publications has been invited to the
Western Regional Conference
of the American Culinary Federation
and we hope you will RSVP!  
The American Culinary Federation is the largest professional chef’s organization in North America, with over 20,000 members in 225 chapters.

From April 29 to May 2, 2011, over 500 Executive Chef’s and other culinary professionals are expected to attend the ACF’s Western Regional Conference in ScottsdaleAriz., at the beautiful new Talking Stick Resort.

The Trade Show scheduled for Saturday, April 30, from noon to 4:00 p.m., will be an amazing and unique opportunity to have your books displayed and sold to a targeted audience of culinary professionals at the Five Star Publications co-op booth.

If you have written a cookbook, a food style book, a special diet or a book on any subject related to the food service industry, this will be the place to be.
We invite you to join us and gain access to the best of the culinary world.
Five Star Publications can offer you two options to display and sell your book. You Need Not Be Present!  We Will Be There! 

Option 1:  Five Star will display and sell your books at our table at the Trade Show for a co-op contribution of $125.00 per title. If we have not published your book, just ship them to us by April 25th(Five Star Publications, Inc., 4696 West Tyson Street, Chandler, AZ 85226) 

Option 2:  Five Star will display and sell your books, as well as display a promotional poster for your book.  The co-op fee to include a poster with your book is an additional $89.00 and you supply the poster.
Please RSVP by April 20, 2011.

The ACF was founded in 1929 in New York City. The ACF provides accredited educational programs, certifications, competitions and networking designed to enhance professional growth for all current and future chefs.  The ACF offers culinary competitionscertificationnational apprenticeship program,regional and national eventsmagazines and much more to help foster the growth of professional chefs and the food service industry as a whole.
Please call if you have questions.