Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Become a Fan

Really?  Are you serious?  Book giveaways & promotions have become so popular on the internet that it seems like consumers have their pick of what to win.  Book giveaways for new books, old books, new authors, old authors, yada, yada, throw in an ipad to juice it up and you've got a contest worth entering.  Really?  Then why do so many of these contests have trouble attracting entrants???   Could it be the hoops some of these contests expect entrants to jump?  

Today, I received a contest notification with their requirements (names removed):

>>To enter you must visit the contest page and fill out the entry form after completing at least one of the following actions (each action completed counts as an entry into the giveaway).
  • Visit the XXX Facebook page and become a fan
  • Invite at least 10 friends to become a fan of the XXX Facebook page.
  • Share a link to this contest page on your own Facebook page or on Twitter.
  • Write a blog post linking to this contest page.
Really?  Are you serious?  You want me to do your work for you?  You want me to find Facebook friends for you???  I don't think so.  I have a lot of other things to do today.

So, if you want to draw entrants to YOUR contest, keep it simple!  Have a page where entrants can fill out a quick, easy form.  Many people won't even fill out a form if the information then goes up on the page - they don't want spammers and others getting their name/emails.  So again, keep it simple! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Giveaway

Time is running out to enter our August Book Giveaway contest.  TWO copies of Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer.  Enter here.  Good luck!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Morning Introductions

Yes, that is a Christmas book you see among our offerings this week.  By the time it goes through the review process and gets posted to our site, shoppers will still have plenty of time to purchase and get it home before the holidays.  Meanwhile, enjoy the last few days of summer!

The Santa Club A delightful book with captivating illustrations, The Santa Club transitions your child from receiving gifts to experiencing the joy of giving. With sensitivity, faith, and love, The Santa Club tackles the serious question, Is Santa Claus Real? To be read with your child, this wonderful book not only answers that sometimes dreaded question but it also addresses the questions of why Santa comes at Christmas and who was the first Santa. The Santa Club is a wonderful parenting resource and a stunning childrens book, and is sure to become an annual family favorite.

The Conscious Catwoman Explains Life on Earth Julie Newmar, known to millions as Catwoman on the 60s Batman television show, explains life through her eyes.

Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny Today’s pop music—genre-crossing, gender-bending, racially mixed, visually stylish, and dominated by dance music with global appeal—is the world that Nile Rodgers created. In the 1970s and 1980s, he wrote and produced the songs that defined that era and everything that came after: “Le Freak,” “Good Times,” “We Are Family,” “Like a Virgin,” “Modern Love,” “I’m Coming Out,” “The Reflex,” “Rapper’s Delight.” Aside from his own band, Chic, he worked with everyone from Diana Ross and Madonna to David Bowie and Duran Duran (not to mention Mick Jagger, Debbie Harry, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, Prince, Rod Stewart, Robert Plant, Depeche Mode, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, Grace Jones, Bryan Ferry, INXS, and the B-52’s), transforming their music, selling millions of records, and redefining what a pop song could be.

Liesl and Po Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice—until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone. That same night, an alchemist's apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable. Will's mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.

Peter Huddleston lived a dull life in a quiet town with his decidedly normal father and stepmother; he awoke each morning with the intention to fit in and be like everyone else. But something always seemed to get in the way of those best intentions. With his prized boomerang constantly in his fingers, Peter blunders from one misunderstanding to another until his exasperated father bundles him off for the summer to visit his aunt Gillian at her home, Hillside Manor. Peter quickly learns that Hillside Manor is no ordinary summer retreat, and that his mother s sister is anything but an ordinary woman. Within its vast walls, and 3,000 rooms, the wondrous Hillside houses many secrets, including the fact that it serves as gateway between our world and the mysterious Galadria, where Peter s mother s family currently rules. Peter has been summoned to Hillside to learn that he is the only heir to his royal family, and to determine if he is prepared to face The Rites of Passage. The rites are not the only challenges Peter will face during his summer of tutelage at the hands of his aunt and her strange and fascinating entourage. Peter is embroiled in the dynastic challenge as his aunt s heir, inheriting the enmity of Knor of the House of Shadowray, who covets the crown of Galadria. With his trusty boomerang and armed with magical trinkets, Peter gamely faces the challenges to prove himself in this eccentric and privileged world. Aid comes from strange and unexpected places, but inexorably Peter is pushed and tested to his breaking point. His successes put him in evermore peril and catapult him closer to a confrontation with Knor, and to a grizzly realization that he might not survive the summer!

Catherine the Great The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Peter the Great, Nicholas and Alexandra, and The Romanovs returns with another masterpiece of narrative biography, the extraordinary story of an obscure young German princess who traveled to Russia at fourteen and rose to become one of the most remarkable, powerful, and captivating women in history. Born into a minor noble family, Catherine transformed herself into Empress of Russia by sheer determination. Possessing a brilliant mind and an insatiable curiosity as a young woman, she devoured the works of Enlightenment philosophers and, when she reached the throne, attempted to use their principles to guide her rule of the vast and backward Russian empire. She knew or corresponded with the preeminent historical figures of her time: Voltaire, Diderot, Frederick the Great, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, Marie Antoinette, and, surprisingly, the American naval hero, John Paul Jones. Reaching the throne fired by Enlightenment philosophy and determined to become the embodiment of the “benevolent despot” idealized by Montesquieu, she found herself always contending with the deeply ingrained realities of Russian life, including serfdom. She persevered, and for thirty-four years the government, foreign policy, cultural development, and welfare of the Russian people were in her hands.

The Little Bride Inspired by the little-known real history of the Jewish settlement of the Great Plains, The Little Bride is an elegantly written tale of a sixteen-year-old Russian mail-order bride stranded on the South Dakota prairie, married to a man twice her age, and falling increasingly in love with her nineteen-year-old stepson.

Dakota: Or What's Heaven For The lives and schemes of frontier politicians, Northern Pacific Railroad executives, bonanza farmers, and homesteaders converge in the story of Frances Houghton Bingham, who marries the son of a Red River Valley bonanza farmer in order to remain near her new husband s sister. Emotionally complex, willful and resourceful, Frances is seduced by the myths of opportunity driving the settlement of Dakota Territory, and dares to dream of a new world in which to realize her unconventional desires. Providing a counterpoint to the dramatic risks taken by Frances is the generous voice of Kirsten Knudson, the daughter of Norwegian homesteaders. As Kirsten grows from a voluble girl to a formidable woman, her observations (equal parts absurdity and insight) reveal the heart of the novel.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Facebook Apps for Book Lovers

Love books?  Love Facebook (or at least use it to market yourself/your books/your whatever)?  There are a TON of apps to make better use of Facebook, including a whole bunch for book lovers.  Here's a site that has links to all sorts of book apps.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Designer Salaries

Ever wonder what book designers make?  If you self-publish, no doubt you've used a book designer (or you should have!).  A recent survey came out noting that New York book designers make, on average, just shy of $59,000.  Not much if you're living in NYC!  Here's the complete article, with links and further breakdowns on salaries. 

Wal-Mart and Amazon bypass Apple

Wow - it will be interesting to see how this unfolds.....

>>Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Inc. on Wednesday revealed new video and book-reading services that are designed for the iPad but bypass Apple Inc.'s fees on content sales.  For the rest of the story, click here. 

Sell Lots of eBooks - Get a Book Deal

A self-published author, who sold a million copies of his eBooks, just landed a deal with Simon&Schuster.   It's a bit out of the norm as author John Locke will retain rights that are usually sold to the new publisher.  For more on the story, click here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Morning Introductions

Here's a sample of the books that came in for review this week.  Stop by our review site, Feathered Quill Book Reviews, to read the reviews in a week or so.

Wunderkind Life in Sofia, Bulgaria, in the late 1980s is bleak and controlled. The oppressive Communist regime bears down on all aspects of people’s lives much like the granite sky overhead. In the crumbling old building that hosts the Sofia Music School for the Gifted, inflexible and unsentimental apparatchiks drill the students like soldiers—as if the music they are teaching did not have the power to set these young souls on fire. Fifteen-year-old Konstantin is a brash, brilliant pianist of exceptional sensitivity, struggling toward adulthood in a society where honest expression often comes at a terrible cost. Confined to the Music School for most of each day and a good part of the night, Konstantin exults in his small rebellions—smoking, drinking, and mocking Party pomp and cant at every opportunity. Intelligent and arrogant, funny and despairing, compassionate and cruel, he is driven simultaneously by a desire to be the best and an almost irresistible urge to fail. His isolation, buttressed by the grim conventions of a loveless society, prevents him from getting close to the mercurial violin virtuoso Irina, but also from understanding himself.

It's Hard Not to Hate You ersona. After years of glossing over the negative, Frankel goes on a mission of emotional honesty, vowing to let herself feel and express all the toxic emotions she’d long suppressed or denied: jealousy, rage, greed, envy, impatience, regret. Frankel reveals her personal History of Hate, from mean girls in junior high, selfish boyfriends in her twenties and old professional rivals. Hate stomps through her current life, too, with snobby neighbors, rude cell phone talkers, scary doctors and helicopter moms.

The Lady of the Rivers Descended from Melusina, the river goddess, Jacquetta always has had the gift of second sight. As a child visiting her uncle, she met his prisoner, Joan of Arc, and saw her own power reflected in the young woman accused of witchcraft. They share the mystery of the tarot card of the wheel of fortune before Joan is taken to a horrific death at the hands of the English rulers of France. Jacquetta understands the danger for a woman who dares to dream. Jacquetta is married to the Duke of Bedford, English regent of France, and he introduces her to a mysterious world of learning and alchemy. Her only friend in the great household is the duke’s squire Richard Woodville, who is at her side when the duke’s death leaves her a wealthy young widow. The two become lovers and marry in secret, returning to England to serve at the court of the young King Henry VI, where Jacquetta becomes a close and loyal friend to his new queen.

The Women of the Cousin's War In her essay on Jacquetta, Philippa Gregory uses original documents, archaeology, and histories of myth and witchcraft to create the first-ever biography of the young duchess who survived two reigns and two wars to become the first lady at two rival courts. David Baldwin, established authority on the Wars of the Roses, tells the story of Elizabeth Woodville, the first commoner to marry a king of England for love; and Michael Jones, fellow of the Royal Historical Society, writes of Margaret Beaufort, the almost-unknown matriarch of the House of Tudor.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Free Educational eBooks!


Mount Pleasant, S.C. (Aug. 19, 2011) –

As another innovative way to promote literacy and learning, Sylvan Dell Publishing will offer Animalogy: Animal Analogies free on its website through the month of September. Animalogy, written by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Cathy Morrison, teaches children all about analogies. Fun, catchy text helps children learn how to find the similarities between even the most incompatible animals…bat is to flit as eagle is to soar; dog is to bark as lion is to roar. Comparisons include sounds, physical adaptation, behaviors, and animal classes and are so fun, readers learn without even realizing it!

Sylvan Dell Publishing’s mission is to excite children’s imaginations with artistically spectacular science, math, and nature-themed stories. Founded in November of 2003, Sylvan Dell has grown to include more than 75 authors and illustrators in the United States and Canada, and 65 titles, winners of more than 70 book awards. They are proud to offer teachers and educators essential tools they need free online, including teaching activities, state standards, quizzes, and related websites. Each book also includes pages of educational activities in the back, to help parents and teachers make the most out of each reading experience.

To view Animalogy free, simply visit beginning September 1st . 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Freelance Settlement/Google Settlement

From Publishers Weekly: A two-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday rejected an $18 million settlement in the long-running class action suit filed by freelance writers following the landmark Tasini case, and in the process have likely killed the chances of a revised Google settlement

For the rest of the story, and to learn what it could mean for small/self-publishers, check out the Publishers Weekly story.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Author Interview with Barbara Levenson

Today we're talking with Barbara Levenson, author of Fatal February

FQ: What made you decide to be a fiction writer?

This was all part of my multi-career life, or ‘what I will be when I grow up.’ Besides serving as a judge, I have been a homemaker, school board member, prosecutor and, defense attorney. I always wanted to write, but other careers got in the way. When I took senior status, I was finally able to have the time to devote to the writing I hoped one day to do. Of course, giving opening and closing arguments in a trial is really story-telling ‘fodder’ to an audience. If you can hold the attention of a jury, that’s a sign that you can involve readers in works of fiction.

FQ: Do you have any tips on how an author can receive help from police officers, forensic specialists, etc.?

Recently, I wrote a guest blog for writers outlining a variety of steps to assist authors who are not part of the justice system. Basically, my advice is to pick a trial in your local courthouse and sit through it from beginning to end. Witness testimony will include experts in many fields. Follow up by contacting them with your questions. Second, find an interesting attorney and ask to shadow them for a few days. Most attorneys will be flattered, especially if you promise to name them in your novel. Police departments are willing to allow citizens to ride on a shift with a patrol officer. All of these “live” research areas are much more fun than sitting in front of a computer reading Wikipedia.

FQ: You write about the Women’s Annex in a very detailed way – is this a real location?

Yes, it is the jail for women awaiting court proceedings and for women sentenced to less than one year. It sits in a high crime area. The personnel at the annex do a very good job of working with the women housed there. Women charged criminally have different problems than male inmates. Many women have been abused by, and involved in crimes by their boyfriends. Many have had little access to education or developing job skills, so counseling is important. I helped start a program for job training at the annex during the time when funds for “people programs” was not a dirty word in state legislatures.

FQ: You have worked in civil rights and criminal defense. Do you personally believe there are a lot of not guilty people currently behind bars?

I don’t know if there are “a lot,” but there are certainly some. Many wrongful convictions stem from mistaken eye-witness testimony. I had a personal experience of being held up at gun point. I told the officers who took the report that I couldn’t begin to make an identification. In the two or three minute encounter, I concentrated on the gun and getting away. It’s terribly difficult to pick someone from a photo lineup. That is the method used 99% of the time. Sometimes poorly trained police make suggestions to the victim, or say that the person is definitely in this array, so the victim feels obligated to pick someone. When the perpetrator runs from the scene, an innocent person in the area who might resemble the perpetrator may be arrested. It is still hard for white people to differentiate between blacks with similar builds. The same is true for blacks trying to identify white people with the same color hair. Hopefully, we will see less of this in the next generation of students who go to school with multi-ethnic populations.

FQ: The newspapers and the media are the true judges and juries lately, as we all see when we turn on TV. Do you have a great deal of trouble with this in Miami?

This is a national problem, because we are all exposed to the same national cable programming along with internet sites. The most recent case in point was the Casey Anthony case. I appeared on one of the programs as a guest commentator and kept my remarks low-key in an attempt to explain a judge’s thought process in granting or denying motions. This was not what the anchor wanted. At the end of the trial, the defense attorneys admonished the reality programs for their outrageous behavior, but as long as the public keeps the ratings high, TV will continue to hype such cases. The responsible cure is to sequester jurors, so they can do their work unimpeded by the part of the media that is not about reporting.

FQ: I love Sam in the book. Can you give readers a little bit of background on your breeding and care of German Shepherds?

My husband and I bred and showed German Shepherds for twenty years. We had thirteen litters and finished eleven champions in the show ring. I have always had a dog from the time I was three years old. Sam’s antics come straight from my own dog experiences. German Shepherds, in particular, are smart and make great companions. We found that the older dogs taught the younger dogs house training and social skills. The brood “b***h” is kept separate from the other dogs in the house. She remains in the whelping room with the pups until they are about three weeks old. When they are allowed in the yard for the first time, she walks them around the perimeter of the fence showing them all the special places. It is so interesting to watch the care and training of the litter and makes our job easier. We retired from active breeding and showing a few years ago and, in the last two years our last male champion died and we lost our last female of our own breeding. We still have one male shepherd who we rescued from a shelter. He is a joy, smart and loving. Hopefully, we will find a female to add to our family.

FQ: Miami in this book is one of the real stars. Can you tell readers a little about the culture and locations? Such as the world of Coconut Grove, the art shows, and the mix of Anglo/Hispanic culture?

Miami is meant to be a main character. I set out to show readers the real Miami, not the South Beach touristy club scene. Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, and Pinecrest are all real suburbs in South Dade County. This is not the area that most tourists visit which is a shame because it is a beautiful area with lush blossoming trees and shrubs. I wanted readers to know that Miamians do everything people in Cleveland or Des Moines do. We go to work, raise our kids, buy groceries - we just do it in great weather.

February is the most beautiful month, with temperatures in the seventies and sixties. Outdoor art shows take place almost every weekend, and farmers markets are every weekend too. Fresh strawberries, corn, and tomatoes are grown in far south Dade County and come fresh to markets at this time of year. In contrast, Justice In June, the second book in the series, takes place in the rainiest month of the year and rain plays a constant role in the book. As the protagonist, Mary tells us, it’s great for your skin and crap for your hair! The culture of Miami is such a mixture that everyone is a minority.
Twenty-seven or more languages are original languages of students in the public schools. Life is never boring. Each culture has added to the mosaic. Mary Magruder Katz is typical of the melting pot that begins in the wedding chapel. She is the daughter of a Jewish father and Southern Baptist mother. Our differences make us appreciate additions to our rich patchwork quilt that is Miami.

FQ: You mention “Moe and Curly”- people who sit in courtrooms all day as if it were their career. Is that true? Have you come across a Moe or Curly while on the bench?

It’s absolutely true. There are retired people who love to wander the courthouse. They will sit through mundane trials and watch new young prosecutors and public defenders trying their wings as litigators and watch their progress. We even had a bag lady who we believe lived in the courthouse. When I was a defense attorney, she watched all of my closing arguments and gave me her “critique.” Once she was arrested for loitering. She came to court with an army of defense attorneys who weren’t about to let her be convicted!

FQ: Is there another Mary Katz Mystery in the works?

Yes, the third book, Outrageous October takes Mary to a mysterious Vermont village after a breakup (temporary) with Carlos, her “hottie” Latin boyfriend. Northern New England is a character in the book as Mary discovers there is murder in the air where ever she goes. The fourth book, Notorious November brings Mary back to Miami to new cases and more great romance.

To learn more about Fatal February please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Amazon vs. California

In a recent move to try and bring revenue to the State, California lawmakers added a provision to their new budget requiring internet sites such as Amazon (and aimed specifically at Amazon) to pay sales tax on sales to customers residing in California.  The State used the argument (this is simplified) that while Amazon doesn't have a physical presence in California, they have "Associate members."  These are folks who add Amazon "widgets" to their site so customers can click the widget and be taken to the product page at Amazon (Feathered Quill uses these widgets on our site).  This, argued California legislators, proves that Amazon has a "presence" in the state and those sales should be taxed.  Amazon fought back, removing all Associate accounts in California and asking the customers to fight back.  There was even talk that Amazon was trying to get the issue put to a ballet question.  California is not the first state to try this tactic, there have been a few others.  And each time, Amazon has fought back by removing Associate accounts from people living in those states.

It seems that Amazon's overreaching attempts at controlling what states can/cannot do has backfired.  There is a growing movement in California to boycott the company.  Lots of stories about the issue are flying around the web.  A quick search finds:

HHS Network California


Puget Sound Business Journal

It will be interesting to see where this goes.  Stay tuned....

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Morning Introductions

Welcome to our new / revamped column announcing books recently received for review.  Check them out, and then come back to our site, Feathered Quill Book Reviews, in a week or two to read the reviews.

Prairie Storms Where the land is flat, the sky's dome becomes a blank canvas for storms. In this lyrical book, experience a year of prairie storms from the point of view of native wild life who must shelter, hide, escape, disappear, endure and withstand those storms.

Animalogy: Animal Analogies Compare and contrast different animals through predictable, rhyming analogies. Find the similarities between even the most incompatible animals . . . bat is to flit as eagle is to soar; dog is to bark as lion is to roar. Comparisons include sounds, physical adaptations, behaviors, and animal classes and are so fun, readers learn without even realizing it! Animalogy is to fun, as animals are to nature.

The Cave Monster Oh no! L. Joe Bean, Lima Bear's cousin has been captured by the Cave Monster. When Lima Bear and his friends enter the dangerous Black Cave to save L. Joe Bean, the Cave Monster attacks! Will they save L. Joe Bean in time? And will they save themselves? The message of the story is: Friends, individually afraid, find courage acting together. In the series entitled The Lima Bear Stories, 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. Each story carries an important overriding message (such as courage, tolerance, honesty), and we believe that knowing the characters creates a better understanding and appreciation of the message.

Sweet Betsy from Pike When the Rev. Elias Potter refuses to let his eighteen-year-old daughter, Betsy, marry nineteen-year-old Ike McNab, the two young lovers take matters into their own hands. With a baby on the way, the two decide to leave Louisiana, Missouri, in 1849 and journey to California to join the Gold Rush.

Horse Bible: The Definitive Source for all Things Horse The Original Horse Bible contains everything a horse owner would want or need to know about horses, their care, and their activities. It will be the most comprehensive horse reference tool available. It will contain topics such as horse keeping, horse safety, dressage, Western riding, English riding, jumping, veterinary care, histories on the many breeds of horses, and much, much, more. The Original Horse Bible will be the one-stop information source — every horse owner should have one!

Dear Bully You are not alone. Discover how Lauren Kate transformed the feeling of that one mean girl getting under her skin into her first novel, how Lauren Oliver learned to celebrate ambiguity in her classmates and in herself, and how R.L. Stine turned being the “funny guy” into the best defense against the bullies in his class. Today’s top authors for teens come together to share their stories about bullying—as silent observers on the sidelines of high school, as victims, and as perpetrators—in a collection at turns moving and self-effacing, but always deeply personal.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Curious to see what libraries have your book?  Simply go to and do a search.  All libraries that have your book (hopefully a lot of libraries!) will pop up.  Besides being a nice thing to know, it can also help with marketing efforts to see what promotional activities have resulted in sales.

Friday Finds are Lost!

After running "Friday Finds" for a few years, we've decided to re-charge the column with a new name/time.  Look for our new column next week.  New name, same great first peeks at the new books that have come in for review.  Till then...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New Book Giveaway!

Just added to August's book giveaway - an audio edition of Only Time Will Tell.  So you now have TWO chances of winning.  Good luck!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

When in Oxford

Recently, I wrote about my trip to England where I had the thrill of finding some wonderful antique books to add to my collection.  Well, my husband got his big book thrill too - in a sense.  If you are a J.R.R. Tolkien fan, then you know that a visit to Oxford, England will draw you into Tolkien heaven.

Tolkien taught at Oxford University from the mid-1920s until 1959.  He, his close friend, C.S. Lewis, and a few other writers formed a writing group known as "The Inklings."  They'd meet once a week or so at various pubs around Oxford.  "The Eagle and Child" is the pub most people associate with this group so of course we had to stop there for lunch.  The Inklings met in the back of the pub in a room (really, just the back end, not a room) known as the "Rabbit Room."  The pub has since been expanded and the Rabbit Room is now more towards the front of the pub, with most customers working their way past this area, in this rather narrow pub, to roomier seating areas in the new back of the pub.

My husband enjoyed every minute.  There are several photos on the wall around the table where the Inklings met commemorating the group.  And hey, the food was pretty good too!

Looking to the front of the pub-The Rabbit Room is near the front, off to the right

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

An Update on Women's Lib

by Amy Lignor of The Write Companion

My first experience with ‘Women’s Lib’ came when I was around seventeen years old.  My boyfriend at the time was a young man who hadn’t annoyed me that much…yet, but he was, in a word, useless.  I was working a forty hour week, just out of high school, wanting to make as much money as I could in order to hit the road and get as far away from my hometown as humanly possible.  Of course, seeing as that I was living in Connecticut and a roll of bathroom tissue was a hundred dollars a pop, basically I was working in order to pay the rent and feed myself with enough money left over each week to stock the bathroom with tissue.

After a long day, the boyfriend knocked on the door.  He had worked on his car all day, but BOY was he tired.  Sitting watching television, he announced that he had seen macaroni and cheese in my kitchen cabinet.  I replied, “I know.”  He countered, “We should have that.  Are you going to make that?”  (He said this last line for awhile, much like a child sits in the back of the car on vacation chanting:  Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?  Are we there yet? 

Now, after a long day I could almost feel the presence of Hitler take over my body.  It’s what he must have felt on the podium when he began to scream to a crowd of ridiculous onlookers who were absolutely enthralled by his supposed strength.  I stood up from the couch and in the loudest, most commanding voice I had within my soul, screamed, “No!  I am not making it!”

He, much like one of those children, asked, “Why not?”

“BECAUSE!  It is MY macaroni & cheese!”  This scream was heard round the world, and I walked out of my own house.  That was my ‘women’s lib.’  It was MY macaroni and cheese and no one was going to separate me from that - especially not some man who hadn’t worked at all and thought he should get it and I should cook it.

Back in the decades of the 60s and 70s, women had to fight far harder than I do, because I simply do what I want because I was raised by my mother to do just that.  Yes, I have experienced the: honey, sweetie, darlin, moments; the words that seem to be your name with certain age groups, or men in certain locales, but I just roll my eyes and move on.  Should I stand up for myself?  Why bother?  These are people who aren’t even doing it to be rude, they simply can’t remember their own names (usually because of the beer-drinking) let alone mine, so sweetie is what they got to work with.

I ran across my nineteen-year-old daughter one evening.  I walked through the living room, not knowing that she and her boyfriend were watching television out there.  (I thought they had gone to a movie).  My daughter was wearing the Hitler face but it was far darker.  Even the Fuhrer would’ve run from her with the full mask of Satan that she wore.  In fact, she looked as if she had lines of troops behind her, just waiting to shoot and take the young man of her dreams OUT

Apparently, he had been speaking about dinner and how hungry he was, reaching over to take a piece of the ‘Kit Kat’ that was sitting beside my lovely, gentle child on the table.  What he didn’t understand, however, was that this was my girl’s ‘time of the month,’ and if men have learned nothing over the centuries they should have - BY NOW - learned never to touch chocolate that is owned by the girl during “that time.”  It is very much like walking up to a starving lioness, or alpha female in the wolf pack, and stealing the piece of rotted flesh from their actual mouths before walking away.  Remember “Wild Kingdom?”  It never works out well for the man intruding on a woman’s space.  Suffice to say, my daughter’s boyfriend exited the building far faster than any alpha male I’ve ever seen running through the bush trying to escape the wrath of their significant other.  Even the male wolf knows his furry behind is about to be kicked, even if he is the one in charge.

See that?  “Women’s Lib” is still evolving in its own way.  In the 1980’s I got mad and left my own house, BUT kept my macaroni and cheese safe from ‘the man’s’ hands.  And now, in the turn of the century (in my family anyway), the females have even a better grasp on ‘women’s lib.’  My girl didn’t even have to speak - all she had to do was give a look of pure and utter evil and the man simply ran for the hills.

See that, people?  Soon we will be running the country.  Maybe then, the country would actually be out of debt and looking forward to a brilliant new future.  Ah…one can only hope!

Until Next Time,

Monday, August 8, 2011

Reviewer's Tip - Where's Your Website

It happened again tonight...I received a query from a first-time author, asking for a review.  The book sounded interesting and possibly a good fit for our site.  The press release included a link to the author's website.  I clicked on the link to get more info. and see if the book was indeed a good fit.  What I found, instead of a site with information about this new book, was a Network Solutions message, "this site is under construction."  In other words, the author has purchased the url but hasn't done anything more with the site. Guess what?  I closed the link, deleted the query email, and moved on to another query.

The lesson?  If you're going to take the trouble of sending out queries (or actually, if you're going to publish a book), have your website up and running BEFORE you send those queries!!!  I'm not going to go back to the website in a week, or two, or three, to see if the author has gotten around to creating a site.  I've already moved on.  Be ready with all your promotional materials before your book comes out or you might just miss lots of promotional opportunities.

Author Interview with Pam Jenoff

Today we're talking with Pam Jenoff, author of The Kommandant’s Girl and The Things We Cherished.

FQ: Where did The Kommandant’s Girl originate from? Were you setting yourself up to be a writer for years, or did this idea come out of the blue?

I had always wanted to be a novelist. I was one of those kids who was always scribbling stories and showing them to anyone who would look. But I never quite got going. Then, when 9/11 happened, I had a life epiphany that: I didn’t have forever and if I wanted to realize my dream of writing a book I had to get started now. I took a course at Temple night school called Write Your Novel This Year and began to write.

FQ: Do you have an interest or personal link to the WWII period? Your books are riveting in that time period.

I spent several years as a diplomat for the State Department in the mid 1990s living in Krakow Poland and working on Polish-Jewish relations and Holocaust issues. I also became very close to the surviving Jewish community. I came back very moved by those experiences and wanted to write a novel that reflected them. I met two Holocaust survivors who told me the true story of the Krakow resistance which I’d never known, although I’d lived there, and that became the inspiration for The Kommandant’s Girl. I’m so excited to return to the era with The Things We Cherished.

FQ: For all our discouraged writers out there, did you have a hard time with agents and query letters when you began?

The hardest time! I queried well over 100 agents before finding mine. And The Kommandant’s Girl was rejected by 39 editors before being accepted.

FQ: I have one author who has had agents say her female character is too strong; and then the next letter say she’s not strong enough to carry the book. Does this mean, in your opinion, that they haven’t even read the book? Being as that the remarks are so completely different? Any advice for her?

You have to know what feedback to trust and when to listen to yourself. If you are getting the same feedback over and over then that’s a good sign to pay attention. I do think that being able to incorporate feedback and revise is one of the things that makes all the difference as a writer, but it has to be the right feedback.

FQ: There are many who are moving to self-publishing or eBooks. Do you consider this a good prospect for writers?

I think that it’s a personal decision whether to go with self-publishing. But it’s certainly very exciting that writers have so many avenues available to them to reach readers directly. And it’s changing the game for all of us – the interactions with readers, with publishers, with one another as writers. As long as we approach it with respect and open minds, we all stand to benefit.

FQ: How on EARTH do you get time to write with three little children in the house?

I’m going to borrow and butcher a quote which I think came from Anne Lamott but I’m not sure. “Before kids I couldn’t write if there were dirty dishes in the sink. After kids I could write if there was a dead body on the floor.” Funny but true. I used to have lots of rules about when I wrote, and the environment I needed. Now if you give me fifteen minutes in a doctor’s waiting room, I will use it to write. Because the writing doesn’t care if I’m tired or busy; it only cares if the writing gets done.

FQ: Is your favorite genre historical? Are you a research fiend?

I’ve never paid much attention to genre – I write what I love. But I’ve always read loads of historical fiction and I’m really excited with The Things We Cherished to return to the historical terrain of The Kommandant’s Girl. Research can mean so many things – revisiting places I’ve been, spending time in a dusty archive, or simply surfing the internet.

FQ: Who would you say is the absolute most inspirational writer for you?

I love so many authors, I really can’t pick just one. Natalie Goldberg had a huge effect on my writing.

FQ: Are you amazed by the YA market right now? Everything seems to be vampires. Are you, yourself, a fan of stories like that?

I don’t read ‘vampire,’ but I’m thrilled that YA is so hot (some of my favorite books are YA although I’ve never been able to write them myself.) It’s great that young people are reading.

FQ: Are your books being ‘looked’ at as movie material? As a huge fan, I would love to see them on screen.

I’d love that to happen too! There’s been some interest but all film rights are presently available.

FQ: And…I always end with the questions that all fans love. You can call it an "Ode to James Lipton." Other than writing, what career would you like to try?

My other job as a law school professor is pretty awesome.

FQ: What career would you NEVER like to try?

Car salesman.

FQ: What is your favorite word?

Not sure. Probably 'epiphany,' but I already used it in this interview.

FQ: What is your least favorite word?

Suddenly. Because I always overuse it and my agent has to edit it out for me.

FQ: And, finally, If Heaven truly exists, what would you like God to say when you enter the Pearly Gates?

That I did right by my children. Because that is pretty much my obsession since they’ve been born.

To learn more about The Things We Cherished please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Finally! CPSIA Testing of Children's Books....

Finally!  CPSIA Testing of Children's Books.... the Government comes to its senses!

If you're a publisher of children's books, then you'll be familiar with the Government's great new idea (begun, I believe, back in 2008) to have all children's products tested for lead and other chemicals that could be harmful.  While the idea behind this is good - we've all heard about the products coming from China containing all sorts of bad things, the Government never addressed how the heck publishers would get this done.  It was proving to be a requirement that would be quite expensive to obey and perhaps impossible for small/self-publishers.

The good news came a few days ago - both the House and Senate voted to exempt "ordinary" children's books from the law's testing requirements.  Yea!  You can read more about this recent move on SPAN's website.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Author Interview with Jo Ann Bender

Today we're talking with Jo Ann Bender, author of Lebensborn

FQ: Did you find the research for Lebensborn both fascinating and appalling at the same time?

As a retired public relations consultant, I know and appreciate the powerful effects the Nazis’ had. Their no-questions-asked programs, banners, flags, coordinated schemes produced fanatical people who truly believed that there was glory for the fittest to lead and serve the country. Women wanted to have as many children as possible.

The high rate of abortions prior to l935 (up to 800,000 per year) ended because of their many incentives for women to have children: lower rents, better position in lines for food, and medals: gold for eight, bronze for four, etc. Later they also killed abortion doctors.

And, for those selected to give birth in a Lebensborn home, there were many other advantages such as the best and most food, finest medical care, a job, a beautiful home in which to await the birth. Best of all, there would be a home at the end for the child if it were perfect in all aspects. Those not perfect were unacceptable and destroyed.

At this time in history, the stigma of an illegitimate birth was horrible. A woman had to find a way to leave the child and the community. That became Antoinette’s dilemma. She was pregnant and not married. She had to leave.

What she didn’t know was that a woman only had a forty percent chance to pass the rigid physical requirements for entry to a Lebensborn home. Her SS partner had already proven his Aryan ancestry back two centuries and was so perfect physically he would have not even one dental filling.

This period of history is fascinating for women because we are able to see how fortunate we are to be living today. At that time, there were few options for birth control, abstinence, the surest. Lebensborn is a reminder to women that not so long ago they didn’t have many proven ways to enjoy pleasure. We should remember and breathe a sigh of relief and appreciate today’s medical advances for women.

The research hasn’t stopped; it continues.

When Lebensborn was published, one of the first readers asked: What happened to the children? That question led to research that continues today as I follow the stories of Lebensborn children who are appearing in courtrooms of their countries to ask for compensation for their lives of shunning, taunting, and often being physically abused or put in an insane asylum.

Many are hoping for closure in their search for their true parents. The Lebensborn program was so secret that the mother of a Lebensborn child was sworn in a ceremony to secrecy under a Nazi dagger to never reveal the name of the father.

Prior to giving public talks about the novel and about this secret program, I researched international war victim agencies for the help they can give a child who is looking for a parent during the time of war. Fortunately, I had the information. A man came to my first talk to ask for my help.

He said, “I want to return to Germany to find my “true” parents. I have not been having much success in finding any information in Germany.”

“No,” I told him, “you won’t. It is still a very hushed over Nazi program today but there are international agencies, one even in Germany, who have the ability to help you in your search. In Norway, for example, where there the Lebensborn program was opened to the ordinary troops, the big black books with each birth registered, were not destroyed as they were in Germany at war’s end.”

This summer international news media are covering the stories of several Norwegian children who are appearing in the Human Rights Court. Their joint case was turned down a few years ago by a Norwegian court who said it was too far past the time for compensation. So they’ve taken their case to a world court.

FQ: Is the village of Villepente fact or fiction?
"Lazy Bee" in the snow

The village is fictional but is typical. My research was mainly in books about WWII and by flying twice to Europe, once to France to finalize the setting of the village which today probably is a suburb of Paris, and later to Germany as Part Two was being written to better understand the thinking and feeling of Germans and Germany as a country.

If you travel in Germany, you’ll discover the people are most cultured, best educated and most disciplined in the world. And, of course you’ll wonder how could a country like theirs could become such fanatical believers.

Mountain top with Jo Ann
FQ: What were you most anxious to present in writing about the Lebensborn project?

I was a mere child during WWII. I remember being fascinated by the news reels shown in the Saturday double horror/western features. The uniforms of the SS and other military units, I was eventually to learn, were the finest that the world has ever seen. They looked like gods in those uniforms.

Writers watch, observe and report. I wanted to capture the spirit and the passion of the Germans. In the walled city of Rottenburg, I witnessed one example of their continuing passion. There in an antique shop where I was looked for the exact wording on an SS officer’s dagger, a man came into the shop and the shop keeper, a stern looking older woman dressed in black, silently gave him permission to go behind the counter and through a curtain. Not seeing anything of value in the front of the shop, I asked if I could follow him. The proprietor parted the curtain.

The hidden room was full of Nazi artifacts, all swastikas covered over. I explained what I was seeking. The woman patted her dark hair in a tight bun at the back of her head, placed a purple cloth upon one of the counters and from the case below removed the knife and placed it upon the cloth with as much reverence as a priest holding a sacred host. It was a chilling reminder of the Nazi passion.

Cruising with Bud
FQ: I have read many accounts of Himmler’s Camelot and his interest in the Knights of the Round Table. Was your account fact or fiction?

The chapter in Lebensborn where Himmler invites twelve of his favorite SS officers to a weekend is fiction. It is based upon what I know of Himmler’s character. Thus, I could write about what he was wearing, what he said, give the details of the artifacts I knew he’d have in his castle and what the “knights” the SS were expected to take part in.

Those invited included Duke Peter, the SS officer who first is introduced here and later in Part Two at the SS party house as the talented illusionist.

Peter is the centerpiece for Nazi propaganda and all its illusions: the colorful banners, the night parades, the stunning uniforms, the weekly meeting throughout the country with the same message told over and over: that the enemy was out to get you and that the Fuhrer is here to save you.

Himmler’s castle could be one of my finest pieces of writing. To understand Himmler and his occult ideas, it is important to know how the man came up with the social eugenics idea of producing a master race. Hitler, of course, had studied eugenic laws in several of the U.S. states. In fact, eugenics and the weeding out of the inferior, was recognized as a politically correct idea during this time period.

FQ: I am also an avid reader of WWII fiction. Are you going to do another book set in that time period?

I love to write action/adventure stories. But, my current work in process is about a Montana cowboy and the women in his life. My first reader, a male cowboy, gave me A plus for appealing to women. To appeal to men, per his suggestion, I am adding more action, and of course, a bad guy. “Men,” he said, “Will follow the scent of this bad guy and you’ll have another winner.” The story is shown in much more depth and has greater character analysis in than any of my other novels.

FQ: My heart went out to the people who lost their animals. Is there such a memorial where the people and their pets are recognized?

A woman wanted to meet me just because of what happened to the pets. “I couldn’t sleep at all the night after I read what happened to them,” she said. Her love for her dog is the same of those people in Villepente who lost theirs. All over Europe I’d seen dogs revered many with chair of their own at a cafe. Seeing this adoration, what writer would not make use of this in their story?

Bud reading Lebensborn

To learn more about Lebensborn please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Friday, August 5, 2011

In Honor of Shark Week!

Today we're talking with Tim Warnock, author of Dive Log - Discovering Life Under the Sea

FQ: Can you tell readers about your very first dive? Why it was something you wanted to do, and how it felt the first time to take that risk?

I have a hard time sitting still. My wife and I were fortunate to be spending two weeks on Grand Cayman Island. Our condominium was across the street from a small dive shop, and I walked in and asked about learning to scuba dive. The owner told me that I could take a resort-course that would allow me to go no deeper than twenty feet, and I had to be accompanied by a certified instructor during the dive. I reported for training the next morning. After classroom instruction and training in a swimming pool, we jumped into the ocean for our first “open water” dive. I was nervous. The piece of equipment that delivers air to the diver is called a regulator. I was so nervous during my first dive that I not only clenched the mouthpiece in my teeth, but I also used one hand to hold the regulator to make sure that the “reg” did not slip out of my mouth.

FQ: The underwater photography was just stunning. Have you ever thought of giving up your day job and doing that full time?

Thank you, but no. Those pictures were taken using a Cannon point-and-shoot camera in an underwater housing. The really stunning underwater photos are taken with sophisticated SLR cameras with multiple flashes attached.

FQ: What is your absolute favorite location to dive?

My absolute favorite dive was off the coast of Curacao adjacent to the Lions Dive and Beach Resort. We were on a cruise, but the resort looks like a wonderfully relaxing place to stay.

FQ: And…what is one location that you would LOVE to dive into?

I understand that the diving off the coast of Thailand is spectacular.

FQ: I know you have received your Master Scuba Diver Certification as well as your Rescue Diver Certification. Is that a difficult process if someone wanted to begin to head towards that goal? Is it perhaps like flying? You have to log in a certain amount of time?

I believe that Master Scuba Diver requires 100 dives. I found the certification process the perfect way to enjoy my hobby while developing additional skills. The Rescue Diver course will likely increase any diver’s confidence to deal with emergencies on the boat or in the water. PADI – the agency through which I am trained – also requires short Specialty Courses, such as Deep Diving, Wreck Diving and Underwater Navigation. Learning how to make those dives safely and develop those skills through training by certified instructors gave me a great sense of comfort in making repeat dives of the same type without an instructor.

FQ: Is Divemaster the ultimate destination?

When I started writing Dive Log, achieving Divemaster was my ultimate goal. In order to qualify for Divemaster, I would have to devote at least two weeks to working with a dive shop, and I cannot make that time commitment presently. I would still like to achieve Divemaster eventually.

FQ: As far as fear and safety are concerned, have you ever felt at risk or have something happen during a dive that was frightening?

I hope that I always remain aware of the risks associated with diving each time that I get in the water. Otherwise, I could take something for granted or generally be less careful than I like and need to be. Being vigilant, of course, is not the same as being afraid, but being afraid is sometimes unavoidable. As far as something frightening, I have been on some pretty rough boat rides and watched people have a difficult time getting back on board a boat in rough seas.

FQ: You speak the words “safety of dive shops” many times in the book. What is a dive shop? And how does one know that they’re safe?

A dive shop is the term in the diving industry for the storefront of the organization that provides the equipment, hires the Divemasters, runs the boats and, usually, sells gear, tee shirts and other mementos of that particular dive trip. If the gear is sloppily stored or appears to be poorly maintained, that reflects to me that the entire organization may be sloppy or disorganized. That, in turn, suggests to me less concern for the patrons’ safety than a dive shop that is well organized and clean.

FQ: What is the strangest sight you’ve every seen on a dive?

The strangest thing that I have seen on a dive is a divemaster who had been scuba diving for forty years picking the anchor of the dive boat out of the sand and swimming with it until he found a site that better suited him. It paid off; I saw the largest ray that I have ever seen a few minutes after he redeposited the anchor into the sand.

FQ: And, a personal question, what on earth is a raccoon butterfly fish?

Here is a link to a picture of a Raccoon Butterfly Fish:

To learn more about Dive Log - Discovering Life Under the Sea please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted

Wow! Busy week! Check out some of the books that came in this week for review! Stop by our review site, Feathered Quill Book Reviews soon to read the reviews.

And thinking ahead to Fall:

Beyond the Myth With beautiful imagery, inspiring quotes, and insightful words of wisdom, author Maria Holmes takes you beyond the myth and shows you how to live the life you desire using the power of the Law of Attraction. * Awaken and see the possibilities in the world around you * Understand the Law of Attraction and put it to use in your own life * Embrace and harness the principles of desire , Visualization, Gratitude, Belief,and Faith * Find the answer within you.

Diva Beautiful, talented and ambitious, flute soloist Belinda Scully wants to be a star. But fame can be dangerous. Someone is stalking her. Rejection stokes the fires of his lust. Her manager dies suddenly. NOPD Detective Frank Renzi believes he was murdered. But murder may not be the worst thing that Belinda must face.

Man School Manhood is becoming a lost art. In the days of our grandfathers and great grandfathers, a handshake was your word and your word was your bond. Integrity was valued, honesty was respected, and one's family was the most important thing in the world. If this sounds out-of-step with today's values, Michael Bronco agrees. In his opinion, our current culture of high divorce rates, overworked-parent households, television babysitters and internet addiction is the thing that's out-of-step.....with real manhood, that is. In this book, Michael explores what that means through stories from his own life and from the lives of others who have shaped his views. From his grandfather's tale of making an engagement ring out or a hollowed-out nickel to Michael's own struggle to build a cabin by hand, Man School is not just a look into what it once meant to be a man; it is about how to be a man right now, from owning your own actions to being a true husband and father to your children. Man School is and honest shot-to-the-balls book that will entertain you and get you thinking about life in a new way. Or as Michael would say, it will get you thinking about life in an old way. A real man's way. Your great-grandfather would be pleased.

Laughter Effects: Humor and Inspiration for Victims of Sociopaths Current research estimates the number of people afflicted with antisocial personality disorder as somewhere between 1 in 25 and 1 in 100. Whether it is a coworker, a friend, a family member or a spouse, an entanglement with a sociopath can turn your world upside down. Laughter Effects is designer and developed as a traveling companion for survivors on the road to recovery. We use humor to help neutralize the post traumatic stress associated with exiting a relationship with a sociopath.

Shards of War: Fleeing to and from Uzbekistan On June 24, 1941, Michael, 16, and his sister, 19, leave their home in Dubno in Ukraine, just ahead of the advancing German armies. Fleeing by foot and train, deep into Ukraine and beyond, the teens spend a brutal winter in a town near Stalingrad, where they nearly perish from hunger and cold. In July of 1942, they escape again ahead of the Germans' onslaught. The siblings' saga of loss, courage, and endurance is interlaced with accounts of critical events of the war and of the annihilation of the Jews in Ukraine, offering an important historical narrative of the challenges wartime refugees faced in the Soviet Union.

My Bonus Mom! Taking the Step out of Stepmom In rhythmic verse, My Bonus Mom!, shows children of divorced families that a positive attitude can lead to a happy outcome and springs open their hearts and minds to accept their own bonus moms. It captures the mixed emotions that surge through young children as they deal with divorce and adjust to remarriage. The children work through their feelings of dismay, fear and anger, and grow to love dad's new wife, whom they come to think of as their bonus mom. Twice the attention, twice the love, twice the fun and twice as many birthday presents! What's not to love?

Good Bite - Weeknight Meals: Delicious Made Easy One of the country's fastest growing cooking websites, Good Bite has a simple mission—to bring together the Internet's best food bloggers and give them a platform to showcase their favorite everyday recipes in short, entertaining videos. Now, Good Bite Weeknight Meals compiles 120 recipes for quick and delicious family dinners from the site's most popular contributors. With recipes from well-known bloggers like Jaden Hair of the Steamy Kitchen and Catherine McCord of Weelicious along with mouthwatering full-color photographs from Matt Armendariz of Matt Bites, Good Bite Weeknight Meals brings the blog world's very best into the home kitchen.

Ripley's Believe It or Not! Strikingly True For the legions of dedicated Ripley’s fans, and anyone else on the planet who loves unbelievable facts and jaw-dropping images, the latest annual in our bestselling series is a feast of delights. Be amazed at a portrait made from 200,000 dead ants, the man who traversed the English Channel by holding onto a bunch of balloons, and the single human hair featuring paintings of all 42 American presidents. A compendium of incredible and bizarre facts, stories, interviews and features, presented in a stunning new design, this book also drives readers to Ripley’s fully interactive website. There are intriguing interviews with some of the astounding individuals who are featured in the book that spotlight their achievements and reveal more about what motivates them.

The Life and Times of the Real Winnie-the-Pooh The real stuffed bear that became an international symbol of hope. The beloved characters of the Hundred Acre Wood were created by author A.A. Milne with the help of his wife and young son. Through the combined imagination of one family, a playtime fantasy turned into an international phenomenon. Winnie the Pooh soon outgrew his old home, leaving the Milnes far behind. This biographical reference traces the steps of the actual stuffed bear, the Milne family, and the loveable character they created. It is the recorded beginnings and development of the internationally recognized bedtime story.

Fish Facts This book is an entertaining guide for children to fish of all shapes, sizes, and habits. It provides all the basic information on classes, orders, and genera of fish as well as their breeding, feeding, and mating habits. This vibrantly illustrated book is a great addition to any classroom and gift for anyone who wants to learn about the creatures that inhabit much of our world.

The Picky Little Witch When Mama Witch concocts a special Halloween soup for her Little Witch, she adds eye of newt, spit of bug, and hair of slug. But Little Witch turns up her tiny nose at the culinary creation. She prefers such sticky sweets as butter toffee, caramel dandy, and cotton candy. Can these picky eaters come to a compromise? Complete with a recipe for Halloween soup, this fun read is a treat for children and parents alike.

The House that Witchy Built Children will creak, clap, flap, and rattle along to this story of Witchy's house and the creepy creatures that live inside. A ghost, a bat, a cat, and a skeleton are only a few of the characters haunting the house. Illustrated with exquisitely detailed cut-paper and collage, this Halloween tale invites interaction through repetition, onomatopoeia, and infectious rhyme.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Author Interview with Pardu S. Ponnapalli

Today we're talking with Pardu S. Ponnapalli, author of Just a Bunch of Crazy Ideas

FQ: Are there some inventions that you’ve never dared to try?

Definetely. Some ideas that you come up with have drawbacks and consequences that you don't initially think about. After further reflection, you realize it is not really something you want to try. There are also instances where the stakes are very high and the risk is great. And ofcourse, there's always the issue of funding.
I fantasize sometimes about being fabulously wealthy. I would put the money to use by experimenting and tinkering with all sorts of creative inventions even if there's no guarantee of success.

FQ: You speak about ridicule experiences. Do you have to face such situations when you speak about your ideas?

I have always been an out-of-the-box thinker. A lot of the ideas I come up with are viewed with great skepticism and sometimes even ridicule. Most open minded people are willing to listen to my abnormal reasoning and conclusions. But there are always a subset of people who are convinced they are smarter than everyone else and dismiss ideas that don't fit into their world view as absurd very quickly. I think it is related to the intellectual confidence and courage of the individual. I have observed this to be true in all realms of human exploration- science, politics, economics, and others.

FQ: In such a capitalistic society, do you believe that any idea where the government would have to give incentives or breaks would even work? 

Yes I do. The government will give incentives, breaks and subsidies for ideas that serve the overall good of society. One example is clean energy. What is needed is political will and popular support. Consider the example of the space race of the 1960's. The political will was there due to the Cold War with the Soviet Union and the desire to beat them at space technology. Popular support was built up through education and other means.

FQ: As an IT specialist, do you believe that the US has lost ground in the Tech world? And would you have any ideas on how to get America’s inventors to recharge themselves so that new products and systems could be created?

I think the US has lost some ground in the tech world. Innovative and creative ideas are emerging from all over the world, whereas in the past it would be predominantly from the United States. It is a healthy sign of a greater part of the world participating in the technological revolution that has gripped the world. I don't think it is a negative reflection on our country. A number of innovative and cutting edge ideas still emerge from Silicon Valley and elsewhere in this country.

One area of concern for me is to keep the education system in this country competitive. Our students are falling behind in education relative to the rest of the world. If we do this, and keep the core entrepeneurial spirit of the country as an essential value, it will recharge us and keep us at the forefront of ideas and technology.

FQ: You spoke briefly about the Space Program and NASA. How do you feel about the ending of it all? Do you think that America should find a way to not “close up shop” and continue their explorations?

I feel strongly that we need to pursue space exploration. I think NASA has lost their way. They are so focused on big budget projects. There should be smaller scale projects. Also, you need popular support for programs. That means you have to fire up the imagination of the people and get them behind you. Otherwise, even great efforts go unnoticed. In my opinion, NASA should be investing more into educating the general public about the benefits of exploration. There are many benefits including scientific, spiritual and technological ones.

FQ: I love the ‘wide-eyed wonder’ text at the beginning of your book. Could you tell readers about the first idea you remember coming up with?

When I was a kid, I loved reading science books by Isaac Asimov, and science fiction books in general. This filled my head with all sorts of bizarre ideas. The first idea I remember having was about having a device that could translate between different languages instantly. I was influenced by moving back and forth between India and the United States when I was young. So I always felt like it would be so handy to have a device that would translate in real time someone speaking Telugu (which is a language in India) and English. At the time I had not yet seen Star Trek- it is very similar to the Universal translator idea in Star Trek.

FQ: And did you always like thinking up inventions and creating ideas?

Absolutely. Whenever I read about day to day problems that occur, my mind is always churning looking for a solution. For example, I was reading recently about the tragedy of parents leaving babies accidentally inside automobiles. The consequences are very unfortunate- it made me shudder when I read the stories. In a world like ours where we are constantly multitasking, leaving a baby in a car occurs more often than one would assume. I immediately thought about creating a device triggers an alarm if the weight on the baby seat is greater than x and the temperature rise is greater than a specified threshold y. The alarm should sound on the drivers key chain as well as an audible one right around the vehicle itself. That would allow people passing by to react to the emergency as well, by calling 911. I need to think through the best way to prevent this type of tragic occurence, but the alarm idea was the first one that popped into my mind. I wish someone would pay me to do nothing but think up good ideas and research them!

To learn more about Just a Bunch of Crazy Ideas please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.