Wednesday, November 29, 2017

#AuthorInterview with Carole P. Roman @caroleproman

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Carole P. Roman, author of Oh Susannah: Things That Go Bump (An Oh Susannah Story)

FQ: This book deals with a topic that many children have to deal with - fear - whether it is fear of the unknown, dark spaces, or unicorns. What made you want to tackle this subject?

ROMAN: I knew I left off unanswered questions in Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag. Susannah was afraid of Lola's house, (it's old and scary) so I had to let Susannah tell me why. When I start a book, I have no idea where the story is going to go - the characters tell me.

FQ: Fear of attending Lola's sleepover takes over Susannah's entire life, but her parents are slow to pick up on her worries. What advice would you give parents to help their child recognize such a problem and then help resolve the issue?

ROMAN: Kids have such active and full lives. They hold so much in. They are busy and there are deadlines, activities, our lives are very full. People have to multi-task, they are busy on their devices all day. It's easy to miss something. I think we have to spend more quiet time with each other- take time at the dinner table and talk. Not speak to each other- really talk and find out what is going on in each other's lives. My kids are 39, 36, 35, and 34. (I include my in-law children, as well. I may not have given birth to them, but I love 'em like they are my own.) My grandkids are 9, 7, 5, and 3. I spend time with them as much as I can. I want to talk about what's important in their lives at the moment - listen to them. Very often, a simple thing like a sigh or a frown will let you know there is something that needs more exploring.

FQ: I loved reading about "The Plaster Party Event." Would you tell our readers a little about this charity event? Also, is it based on a real event you've attended?

ROMAN: My daughters-in-law make many of the kids parties at a local plaster place. It's fun. They've even taken me and we have spent a very nice morning painting gnomes with the grandkids. The charity event was an invention but I have a blind person in my life who was not. My brother has slowly been going blind since birth. He has a degenerative disease that is taking his eyesight. I work with him every day. He is the CFO of all my businesses and we share an office. I have been sensitive to his "sight" challenges for over fifty years. From the time I was a little girl, I always assess a room, based on his limitation - what could trip him up. How I could make things easier? Since he has had sight, he knows how colors look - but it is something I have thought about - how do you describe colors to someone is blind? Susannah learns at that party some valuable things about fears - they are subjective to the person and their perspectives. What is scary to one person, may not affect another.

FQ: At the "Plaster Party" we meet Susannah's good friend Macy. Macy is a very interesting girl - while blind, she doesn't let her handicap slow her down and she's super positive. Is she based on a real person you know? If not, what inspired you to create her?

ROMAN: I think I just answered this above. Yes, my brother is an inspiration. He has never let his limitations with sight slow him down. I am so proud of him and his accomplishments. We are a solution-oriented family and whenever any of us has met an obstacle, we work as a team to get around it.

FQ: I'm worried about Mrs. Horn. Will we see her again?

ROMAN: I don't see why not - It's just a cold. lol. She was a bit dramatic, though.

FQ: In the interview for the first book in the series, Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag, you mentioned that you wrote this book in about an hour and a half. That's quite impressive! Did the idea for the story bubble around in your head for a bit before you sat down to write, or did it just pop out all at once?

ROMAN: I wish I gave birth to my kids the way I write stories. They just pop out!! No struggle. Susannah had a story to tell and she ranted until I got the whole thing on paper. I wrote it at work, while I was sitting with my brother. He can't see when I am working and talks to me while I write. I don't have the heart to tell him I'm busy - I have the unique ability to do two things at once - I answer him and write at the same time. It's weird.

FQ: Like real life, while Susannah and her parents discussed their miscommunications and busy lifestyle in the first book, and while they were all making an effort to do better, they still had "bumps" in slowing down their lives and talking. Did you do this to show readers that not all problems are resolved in a day?

ROMAN: Yes - Life is not a sitcom - it's a work in progress. It takes time and effort. Just when you think you've got it down, someone goes and changes the rules. You have to keep evolving and reinventing yourself, because everyone around you is doing it, as well.

FQ: Without giving too much away, I loved the doll scene at Lola's house. It had the makings of a good horror movie, but at the same time, something so innocent. I suspect you had a slight giggle when you thought about writing this - was it fun to put pen to paper and bring that room of dolls to life?

ROMAN: It was a slice of my childhood - only I was in a hamper...with a flashlight. I am laughing just at the thought of my unsuspecting and bratty baby brother coming in to throw laundry in a basket that held quite a surprise. Buwah hahaha

FQ: Have you started book three in the "Oh Susannah" series yet? If so, would you give our readers a sneak peek about what our favorite third grader conquers in her newest adventure?

ROMAN: I just published an Oh Susannah Color With Me Coloring Book. Mateya Arkova filled it with delightful images and questions involving the different books. I will start a new Oh Susannah story after the New Year. I have been writing on Medium - some adult fiction under the pen name Brit Lunden.

FQ: You've written quite a few books, both fiction and non-fiction. How do you find the time to write so much? Do you set a certain amount of time each day for writing? Or do you wait until the mood to write hits?

ROMAN: I write every day - whether it's a magazine, a new book, or even a review, I find time to write about something. I also read every night. To me, that's more important. I can't go to sleep without reading. Very often, my brother and I discuss the books the next day at work. I also read every night with my grandchildren over Facetime. The younger ones get a quick story, the older ones are reading books like Harry Potter. My five-year-old is plowing through my cultural series. She loves learning about the world.

FQ: Do you have any other book projects in the works? If so, would you tell us about them?
ROMAN: I usually have a bunch of projects going on at once, including my day job - which pays the bills. I write for Medium, an online magazine. I have founded and helped produce a new online magazine called Indie Author's Monthly with authors Julie A. Gerber and RL Jackson. I host two monthly blog radio shows, Let's Say Hello to Our Neighbors and Navigating Indieworld. Right now, I am running the publicity campaign for my son's new traditionally published book. I manage promotion on all of our indie books - between us we have published over 70. I write children's fiction and non-fiction for all different ages. I have co-authored a book called Navigating Indieworld with Julie A. Gerber, a self-help book for indie authors and am completing Marketing Indieworld with Julie, and marketing college professor, Angela Hausman. I write adult fiction under the name Brit Lunden and I beta-read for several authors.

To learn more about Oh Susannah: Things That Go Bump (An Oh Susannah Story) please read the review.

#BookReview - Oh Susannah: Things That Go Bump @caroleproman

Oh Susannah: Things That Go Bump (An Oh Susannah Story)

By: Carole P. Roman
Illustrated by: Mateya Arkova
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: July 2017
ISBN: 978-1947188136
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: November 28, 2017

Susannah Maya Logan is at it again, and this time she's taking readers along as she tries to conquer her fears in the second book in the "Oh Susannah" series for young readers.

When we last saw Susannah, in Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag, she had just learned an important lesson about how to handle problems that seem overwhelming. In this book, Susannah tackles her fears of all sorts of things that "go bump in the night."

At the end of the first book, readers were left wondering how Susannah would handle the sleepover invitation from her best friend Lola. She wanted to go to the sleepover, but Lola's house was downright scary. It was old, the floorboards creaked, and there were spiders (eek!) hiding in the dark corners. To make things worse, Lola's brother Kai just loves scaring Susannah. He's told her that there's a ghost in their house...and now the frightened third-grader really doesn't want to go to Lola's sleepover.

Susannah is spending all of her time worrying about going to Lola's house. She had gone there for play-dates and so she knew that the house was full of dark corners and strange noises. Last time she was there a spider somehow climbed in, and then out, of her shoe! As the day of the sleepover approached, Susannah replayed those events over and over in her mind. The more she thought, the more frightened she became. What was she going to do?

Because she was so busy worrying about the sleepover, Susannah had completely forgotten about "The Plaster Party Event." This was a fun charity event where Susannah would get to see her friend Macy. Macy was a great friend and Susannah loved seeing her - too bad they lived so far apart. At the event, because Macy was blind, Susannah would help her with whatever ceramic project Macy wanted to make. She thought it was going to be just a fun party, but Susannah was going to learn something very important about facing your fears.

Soon the day of the sleepover arrived - would what Susannah learned with Macy help? Would she be chased by a ghost? Would she run into some creepy, crawly spiders or would the night pass quietly into morning? She wasn't sure, but she was about to find out...

In the first book in this new series, young readers learned a valuable lesson along with the protagonist about how to deal with problems, especially those that can overwhelm a person. In this story, readers will follow along with Susannah to see how/if she conquers her fears. What child isn't afraid of the dark at some point in their lives? Ghosts and spooky creatures have inhabited many a child's dream, and in this fun tale, children will see how somebody deals with those fears. Without getting preachy, the author manages to show readers how to handle fears that may seem overpowering. Kudos to the author for another story that teaches a lesson while also being a "whole lotta fun" to read.

Quill says: A satisfying follow-up to the first book in the "Oh Susannah" series. Early readers will love learning how Susannah deals with a very scary problem.

For more information on Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag (An Oh Susannah Story), please visit the author's website at:

Sunday, November 26, 2017

#AuthorInterview with J. Rutledge @authorJRutledge

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with J. Rutledge, author of Truth and The Serpent

FQ: When it comes to a writer’s debut, it is a BIG deal! What made you take on such an enormous subject for your very first novel?

RUTLEDGE: To be honest, I didn’t want to write a story that dealt with religion. Religion is not one of my favorite topics, however it was the only story at the time that had potential to move forward.

The original idea came about during a brief conversation, when the other person said to me, “all snakes are evil because of the Serpent in the Garden of Eden.” I said...“All snakes? rattlesnakes, pythons, boa constrictors...they’re just evil?” Now, I know the garden of Eden story and I was pretty sure it didn’t say that. The person I was speaking to was very religious, and there was no way to argue rationally against that, so I left it alone. Unfortunately, it was stuck in my head. So, when I got home, I reread the garden of Eden story just to make sure, and I confirmed that nowhere in the text does it ever say Evil, Satan, or Devil.

A Law & Order scene popped in my head, where the Serpent was on trial and the prosecution was trying to prove motive and intent. That’s when it struck me to rewrite it from the Serpent’s point of view, to see if it would make more sense. What if you somehow encountered this legendary dark figure, and it speaks intelligently and tells you its version of the events. The same events would happen but now the perspective has been changed. It sounded interesting to me, and it was something I had never heard before with this subject. The original story was only a page and a half, and after 2 years of writing it was at 800 pages, another year of editing cut it down to just under 500 pages.

FQ: Considering the subject, and the fact that people can forget when a tale is “fiction,” were you ever a bit wary that some people might wish to debate you on some of the things your main character states?

RUTLEDGE: You don’t take on a subject like religion or politics and expect everyone to agree with you. Truth and the Serpent is meant as a discussion piece. There really is no 100% right answer with this subject. And as such, I think the best you can hope for is to add something new to the conversation.

As a writer, it was a personal challenge to see if I could FIND SOMETHING DIFFERENT, without it becoming an attack on the subject. How many times have we heard these stories and every time it’s the same old thing. If you even mention religion, Jew, Muslim, Bible, people completely lose their minds.

Once I decided to write it, I wanted it to be for someone like myself. But how do you write a story that deals with religion, for a person who isn’t interested in debating religion? That’s when I decided that the balance of the story would be true versus untrue, instead of good versus evil or right versus wrong. As Good and Evil are subjective and change depending on the point of view. However, there are things in these stories that are universally true and relatable to everyone.

That’s when I realized that the Serpent character was the perfect vehicle to have this discussion. Truth and the Serpent at its core is a talking animal story. It’s an absurdity set in the ‘WHAT IF UNIVERSE.’ Therefore, it’s not an attack, it’s a conversation free from judgment, or fear of reprisal. The Serpent character can ask these questions and pose alternative theories without the reader feeling threatened. Because the reader has no connection to the Serpent character. The same could not have been done with say Noah or Joseph, because our minds just won’t allow it.

FQ: If you had to choose, what would be the one thing you would like readers to take away from this novel?

RUTLEDGE: Most of all, if after reading this book it spurs people to think something different, ask a new question, or go back and ‘READ IT FOR YOURSELF,’ then as a writer, I did my job! The themes of Truth and The Serpent are personal responsibility, and the seeking of truths over myth and lore. I worked very hard to find truths in these stories that unit; and not get caught up in the legends and fables that have come to control, enslave, and divide. As much as people debate the existence of God, or argue Jew versus Muslim against Christian, nothing ever seems to change or improve. So, with this story I had a chance to question and critique as much as I wanted to. I understand that many readers will be apprehensive due to the subject, however if you don’t ask any new questions, you’re not going to get any different answers.

Truth and The Serpent is not about debunking the Bible or explaining existence through science and math. Truth and the Serpent is a fiction that examines the shared stories of humanity through the eyes of the infamous Serpent.

FQ: It is always a thrill to see a new author come to the market. It’s a difficult journey to sit in front of that computer on a daily basis and create a book. Is there a positive piece of advice you would give to a new author in regards to this choice of career? On the other side of that coin, is there a piece of advice you would give them on what to stay away from or beware of when choosing writing as a career?

RUTLEDGE: Be honest to yourself! You need know why you are writing. For me writing is a passion, it’s the process of conceptualizing then challenging my own ideas while being creative to tell a story.

Writing is a blessing and a curse. It is a solitary, isolating, stressful, personal, and grueling endeavor. You literally have to close out the outside world in favor of one you have inside of your head. And then if after torturing yourself and putting your ideas out there for critique, you still want to do it all over again, then you too are a writer.

FQ: How much research went into this particular creation? On the same note, are you a lover of history and research – is there a particular historical time period that attracts your attention that perhaps will be the foundation for a book one day?

RUTLEDGE: On average, I had about 100 pages of notes for each chapter. I researched everything meticulously. From the beginning I wanted this book to be different. So, in order to do that I couldn’t repeat the other theories and explanations that are out there. Meaning it couldn’t be about sun worship, it couldn’t be about astrology, it could be about the devil tricking everyone. If you’re saying, ‘The Bible doesn’t say that.’ Well you’re right...If all I was going to do was write the exact same thing, well that book already’s called The Bible!

I don’t have a particular favorite period of time, but I do enjoy history and research quite a bit. It was interesting taking on this subject, and reading and researching not for purposes of faith. Looking at it from a literary perspective you see how easy it is to distort the truth. It’s frightening, specifically with religion, how many people have not read, questioned, or researched for themselves, yet hold so strongly to a belief in ignorance. The bad thing is, when you educate and inform yourself, you become the bad guy. But oh well, such is the fate of intellectuals...

FQ: What is next up for you? Are you currently working on a second title?

RUTLEDGE: Yes, currently I am working on notes for Serpent book 2. I hope to start writing it sometime after the new year. The story will follow the Serpent and a human character who live during the time of Jesus. It is titled, but I am not releasing it yet.

FQ: As stated in the review, it’s almost like the Serpent is creating mysteries for the reader to solve. Is there a specific reason why you gave nicknames to the characters as opposed to using the ones that are well-known?

RUTLEDGE: Yes, it was mostly for consistency. In the beginning the Serpent identifies the guy as “Man of the Present.” The Serpent states that a person’s name does little to describe a person, hence...what’s in a name. Also, I knew that I would run into a problem later on in the story. There are multiple, John’s, Peter’s, Jesse’s, Matthew’s, and so on. I originally had it where the Man of the Present said, “Adam,” and the Serpent replied, ‘which Adam? I’ve known a lot of Adam’s… could you be more specific.’ The Man of the Present then had to describe Adam, as first man, Garden, Eve, and then there was a recognition.

Again, this story is about how the Serpent views humanity. And since the Serpent has existed since the beginning of time, it wouldn’t make sense for the Serpent to call someone by a name that has been used thousands of times, especially when there aren’t any last names. I looked up the names to see what they meant, for example Noah means Rest or comfort. Some of the others I had to get creative with, for example in ‘The Dagger.’ The woman who accuses Joseph of rape, her name is Zuleika, which means "fair; brilliant and lovely." Which in the book became ‘Love so Brilliant.’ So, the Serpent would identify these people by their actions, that’s why the Serpent describes them.
Additionally, these stories do not exist only in Christianity. For that matter this could be Jewish, Muslim, or Zoroastrian fiction. And within these other religions the names are spelled or pronounced differently. However, the deeds of these heroic figures remain the same and are easily identifiable to pretty much anybody. I wanted to focus on the shared information of these stories, and not take a Christian view opposed to a Jewish or Muslim understanding.

FQ: If there was one person you could sit down with and ask questions of, who would it be and why? Is there a specific question you would like them to answer?

RUTLEDGE: I do have a list of historical figures, that I would like to meet up with for coffee. In the Chapter, The Mirror, there is a scene, where the Serpent and Ruth (The Widow) sit down for coffee. She also performs ‘Coffee Ceremony’ for the Serpent, which is an Ethiopian custom.
As for a specific person, I’m a fan of Bruce Lee, as so many others are. I don’t know what question I would ask. I think just to sit and listen and learn, and share, with him, would be special.

FQ: Is there a way, in your mind, for Mankind to finally change the path of violence we continue to create for ourselves? Can books and learning help that to happen?

RUTLEDGE: Excellent question. While writing the book, I wanted it to be positive, uplifting, interesting, and thought provoking. I hope that is something that was evident throughout the book. I am only one person, and while writing this book I repeatedly had to step back out of my ego, my politics, my race, my gender, and my heterosexual orientation. Because the Serpent character is not bound by those things. But by doing that I was able to see guidance, and hope in these stories, where I didn’t see them before.

Cities, schools, government, medicine, and religion are supposed to be what makes us civilized, however what good does it do if nobody reads the damn books, or wants to learn anything new. I do believe there is hope for humanity, we can do better, and we can be better. Unfortunately, people are slow to remember and quick to forget. It’s difficult to move forward, if you keep tripping over the past!

J. Rutledge

To learn more about Truth and The Serpent please read the review.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

#AuthorInterview with Carole P. Roman @caroleproman

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Carole P. Roman, author of Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag (An Oh Susannah Story)

FQ: While you've written numerous books, Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag is your first foray into young reader fiction. What was the impetus for venturing into this new, for you, genre? Was it something you have always wanted to try? Or did you see a strong need for good stories for young readers?

ROMAN: When I started writing, I targeted my grandchildren as a reading audience. I read with them frequently - I think it's a result of life mirroring art. My oldest grandson and I started reading early reader chapter books. Bianca Schulz from The Children's Book Review also suggested I write a chapter book. I didn't think I could do it. I was used to my series. However, Susannah popped into my head - actually, her mother did, and said you have to write this story.

FQ: Breakfast is certainly crazy in Susannah's house. It made for a fun, and funny, scene. Did you base this on breakfast at your house?

ROMAN: I was a working mother, but I had a strong partnership with my husband and a wonderful support system with my parents, grandmother, and brothers. I was never overwhelmed. I was super organized, but that didn't mean I didn't see my friends struggle. Susannah's story was based on a working mother buddy of mine, who had three kids down with illness and was being pulled in all directions. It made me wonder what message are we teaching our daughters? That you have to be able to 'do' it all? Many men will 'farm out' things like car repair, or the lawn. Some women work, come home, help the kids with homework, do laundry, name it. We place inhumane standards on our shoulders.

FQ: The dreaded red pen...Susannah gets a math test back with a big red circle on it. We've all been there! The way you built up the scene, with the students taking the test, and then Susannah lowering her head, as if to hide, certainly helped highlight the stress and panic that Susannah was feeling. Was this a hard chapter to write?

ROMAN: No - but it was very real for me. I have been in that seat. I think I had learning difficulties that were never diagnosed, causing me to duck my head and hide. Since my son, and some of my grandkids have been labeled LD, it stands to reason. Back then, you were not paying attention, or not performing to your capabilities. Since I didn't learn to tie my shoes until I was in my late teens, or tell time until I was in my twenties, I think something bigger was going on. However, like I tell my kids, those challenges only made me stronger and my success sweeter.

FQ: The "Dream Bus" scene was quite imaginative. Where did the idea for this bus ride come from?

ROMAN: There is a commercial on television right now where a woman is being annoyed by her demanding boss at the foot of her bed. She keeps reminding her of work she has to do. The bus sort of grew from that. When we are worried, it morphs sometimes into monstrous thoughts that invade our sleep.

FQ: There's a bit of a cliffhanger in this story as we still don't know what will happen at Lola's sleepover...would you give our readers a sneak peek at that party?

ROMAN: Susannah has to overcome her fears, or face losing Lola's friendship. She learns that everybody has fears, and fears are driven by what we don't know. Once we can explain something, usually whatever is scaring us loses it power.

FQ: Have you planned out the whole Oh Susannah series yet? How many books are you planning? Have you written others in the series yet or are they still ideas floating around in your head, waiting to come to life?

ROMAN: I never plan - they happen as they go. Susannah will have more adventures. I'm just waiting for her to tell me where. I have put out a lovely Oh Susannah coloring book with Mateya Arkova's beautiful and detailed illustrations.

FQ: Susannah keeps trying to figure out her mother's superpower. What would your children - or grandchildren - say is your superpower?

ROMAN: I know my kids would say that I am a rock. Nothing shakes my resolve and I meet every deadline, and believe me, we've had a lot. I think my kids respect my ability to transform myself into what we need at the moment and get the job done. I wear many diverse hats. My grandkids adore me- lol. I'm not quite sure why - I think I keep reinventing myself to whatever they need at the moment. They are the center of my world.

FQ: The parents in the story are always busy, busy, busy and they've lost track of what is so important. It takes their daughter's statement, "you are always too busy," to make them realize their mistake. This is so true in today's world. What would you suggest parents do to try and slow down when life demands so much?

ROMAN: YES!!!! Delegate where you can, and sometimes the answer has to be 'no.' Think about priorities in life. What did you want years ago and where has it gone? We get caught in the grind to get ahead and sometimes it direction has to be reevaluated. Time is the most precious commodity- once it's gone you can't ever get it back!

FQ: I like the symbolism you used in the story, with Susannah hiding her problems inside the school bag - and how that school bag eventually couldn't take any more problems. Would you talk a little about the stress school children are under today and how "we" (parents, family and friends) can help them deal with the issues?

ROMAN: We are all cramming so much in our day. We have distractions, the phone, television, devices. Sometimes something as simple as reading a book and discussing it is enough to get to know what's going on in your kid's head. Sometimes we have to think- do we need to go to every activity? How about a stay at home day and cook together, or do a project, plant a tree. Talk, but more importantly...listen to what your kids are saying.

FQ: How would you compare your experience writing this early reader fiction book to writing a non-fiction self-help book. Were the experiences very different?

ROMAN: There is research when I do non-fiction. For the culture books I spent a lot of time speaking to people. I will admit, the historicals come from what I knew. I read history all the time. I was a history teacher a long time ago.

When I write fiction, the story speaks to me. I may have an idea, but the characters take over and the story evolves from them. Sometimes I feel like a conduit. My son says that is the subconscious speaking. Maybe it is, I'm not sure.

Susannah started with a different name and different journey. I had no idea when I started, that was where it was going, or even that there would be a book 2. I wrote the first Susannah in half an hour, the second book took an hour more. When a story wants to be told, it fights to get out.

To learn more about Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag (An Oh Susannah Story) please read the review.

#BookReview - Royally Wed

Royally Wed: The Royals Book 3

By: Teri Wilson
Publisher: Pocket Star Books
Publication Date: November 2017
ISBN: 978-1501160516
Reviewed by: Diana Buss
Review Date: November 24, 2017

Princess Amelia has always been the outsider in her Royal family. Nicknamed “Princess Naughty” from the time she was young, Amelia has had her fair share of wild stunts. Now it's time they come to an end. She is arranged to be married to Holden Beckett, a long-time admired family friend. Amelia has always loved him, especially since he is the father of her best friend Eleanor, but never as a love interest. While they have mutual respect for one another, Amelia dreads the day of the wedding, which is to be a grand and immaculate affair. Although Amelia knows she must do this in order to save her family's reputation, she can’t help but wish there was a way around it. When musician Yo Yo Ma is unable to perform at the wedding and American Asher Reed arrives, her world is turned upside down.

Asher Reed is a cellist who is gearing up for his first performance since he discovered his ex-fiance and maestro have been an item. He has removed himself from the public eye and hasn't performed in quite some time, at least until his talent is requested for the royal wedding. As his first large performance after time away, Asher is struggling to prove that he is ok after his breakup and that his talent is still there. He is nervous about his career and understands how important it is that he proves himself. All goes well until he meets Amelia, there is something about her sadness and spark for life that he is drawn to, although she's engaged to be married to someone else. He finds himself falling for her, but he's not the only one who realizes something special is going on between them. The more he falls for her, the more he and Amelia wish they could stop the wedding, and when a strange twist of events occurs, they may have found a way.

Royally Wed is a sweet and relaxing read. The characters are relatable and the love story is told in a way that is not overly cliche but still very cute. It's easy to put yourself both in Amelia and Asher’s shoes and consider what you would do in the same situation. Just as I have said with Wilson's other books in this series, they just keep getting better and better and always leave you wanting more. I look forward to yet another book in this series, which I can only hope is in the making.

Quill says: This is the perfect book to cozy up with on the couch. Royally Wed is a light, easy read that will warm your heart and leave you rooting for Amelia and Asher.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

#BookReview - Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag @caroleproman

Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag (An Oh Susannah Story)

By: Carole P. Roman
Illustrated by: Mateya Arkova
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: April 2017
ISBN: 978-1543034615
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: November 22, 2017

Susannah is having one heck of a day - will it ever end? Young readers will love following along to see what happens to Susannah when her day goes from bad to very, very bad in this first book in a delightful new series.

It's just another average morning for Susannah as she gets up and gets ready for school. But "average" quickly takes a turn for the worse as the third-grader eyes her math homework that she was supposed to have finished the night before. Oh, well, better just slip that paper into her school bag and ignore it. Susannah's mother calls to her, telling her to hurry, hurry, hurry. Why is her mother always in a hurry?

Oatmeal and a banana for breakfast. Bleck! Susannah hates bananas! She decides the best thing to do is hide that nasty fruit in her school bag. That takes care of the banana problem (or does it?). Both her parents are in such a rush that they hardly notice their daughter. Why are they always rushing?
On the school bus, Susannah's best friend Lola reminds her about the sleepover. Lola wants to know why Susannah didn't take the invitation yesterday. Susannah doesn't want to tell her friend that Lola's house is old and creepy, with spiders and maybe even ghosts! Surely Susannah can't be expected to sleep in such a scary house. Better just put that invitation into the school bag and deal with it later.
As Susannah's day continues, things continue to go downhill. Homework, gym class, a school project...every problem gets tossed into that school bag. And that school bag is getting quite heavy. At the same time, the banana, at the bottom of the school bag, is getting very, very smelly. Susannah is overwhelmed and she doesn't know what to do.

Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag is a quick moving story that will keep readers glued to the pages. The story is lighthearted, funny, and it teaches an important lesson. It quickly becomes apparent that all of Susannah's problems are being hidden away in her school bag, and at some point, that bag is not going to be able to take any more "problems." Susannah gets overwhelmed, and she doesn't know what to do to solve all those "things" hiding in her bag. Young readers will likely identify with Susannah's problems and want to see how she solves them. And that sleepover at Lola's? Stay tuned for book 2 in the series, Things That Go Bump to see what happens.

Quill says: A great start to a new series for young readers. I look forward to meeting Susannah again in her next book!

For more information on Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag (An Oh Susannah Story), please visit the author's website at:

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

#BookReview - Truth and The Serpent @writerJRutledge

Truth and The Serpent

By: J. Rutledge
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Publication Date: January 2017
ISBN: 978-1-541235489
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: November 20, 2017

Stumbling through a thunder and lightning storm that almost feels like God’s power is being directed specifically at him, a man finds cover in the safety of a cave. But this is not a normal, everyday cave. There is a more dangerous creature waiting inside than just your regular grizzly setting up shop for winter.

We are talking about a cavern filled with treasures. Walls that are tiled with precious gems lead the man deeper into the cave for further exploration. After all, greed is alive and well, and this man is drawn down these glimmering paths by his own curiosity and his own deadly sin. Walking for what seems like miles, following the sound of running water, he enjoys his surroundings. Enjoyment soon fades and greed is soon forgotten, however, when a creature rises up and a forked tongue begins to spit words that no Modern Day Man has ever heard before. This is the Serpent. That snake from the famous Garden that played home to the birth of Mankind. Oddly enough, the creature states that all he wants is company; he wants the man to take a seat and listen to the real truth behind the stories that the Bible made famous.

Readers find out early on, through the first tale told by the Serpent of Man, Woman, and the Garden, that he was not actually at fault. He states that the blame lies solely on Woman for what was done there; the curse for her blasphemy being childbirth. We also find out that before the apple fell from the tree, so to speak, the Serpent was not the scaly creature that became synonymous with evil. He quite literally had limbs; limbs that were used at one time to cover Man and keep him safe. The Serpent tells of the Creator who withdrew his limbs and replaced them with scales – the punishment for his part played in the trauma of the Garden. He was bestowed with the body that would remind Mankind for all time that he was the evildoer...from the very beginning.

The Serpent will answer this man’s questions, usually with sarcasm and a quick flick of the tongue, throughout this tale. He will lead this man through various times on Earth, where he watched humans battle, make rules, create laws, alter the land, and transform their beliefs to either accept change, or banish it by dangling the transgressors of these “sins” at the end of ropes.

The people in the Serpent’s tales have nicknames, from “The Variable” to the “Drawn Forth Son” to the “Beloved.” But along with these odd introductions, he also places them in well-known settings that allow readers to solve the mystery of who these people are. Such as, the Moon City that fell in battle when an army simply circled its high walls...Jericho, perhaps?

The Serpent goes every which way as he describes his love, anger, allegiance, or hatred he had during all of these times and with all of these people. And when it comes to the Creator and the master of evil known to the world as Satan, readers will find the snake’s beliefs even more interesting. the Serpent telling the ultimate truth, or is he simply a wolf in reptilian clothing? It is for you to read and decide.

When it comes to two subjects, religion and politics, books can be highly difficult to review. They are the two subjects that all out there wish to be judges and juries about, no matter if they are created in the world of fiction or non. When it comes to this first novel by author J. Rutledge, this can be said: A book speaking of religion from this slithery point of view has not been written. It is at times great fun, imaginative and thrilling; other times, such as when the Serpent uses language that makes him sound like a high school bully rather than the educated creature he is 99% of the time, can cause the reader to doubt the intelligent character.

Quill says: This is a good book taking on the highly debated and highly believed stories of the “Good Book,” with passion, intelligence, and humor.

For more information on Truth and the Serpent, please visit the author's Facebook page.

#BookReview - A Little Bit of Grace

A Little Bit of Grace

By: Phoebe Fox
Publisher: Henery Press
Publication Date: January 2018
Review By: Jennifer Rearick
Review Date: November 2017

Grace and Brian run an estate law firm that they inherited from their parents. The practice has been in their family for multiple generations. Since they grew up together, the two quickly become best friends. They spent countless hours together growing up. Their families even lived a couple houses away from each other. After graduation, Grace and Brian went to two different colleges.

During their time at college, although they were still friends, their friendship was a little different. Having grown up with each other, Grace developed feelings for Brian. While he was at college, Brian did date other people. During their senior year, he even brought a girl named Angelica home for their Thanksgiving break. Although it was a little difficult for Grace to handle at the time, after graduation when the two moved back to work at their family’s firm, Angelica was long gone. Things changed after they both moved back home. Brian and Grace began to get closer again. After multiple dates, the two eventually got married.

Although they had a good marriage, they did have some obstacles that they had to get over. After 10 years, the two ultimately decided to get a divorce. Throughout the divorce, the two remained civil. Since Grace and Brian were living in his parent’s old house, after the divorce, Grace decided to move back in with her mother, a couple houses away. Even after the divorce they still remained friends and continued working in the family law firm together. Shortly after moving back home, Grace’s mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. After her mother passed away, it was hard on Grace since she had no family except Brian around her.

One day while Grace was at the practice, Brain asked if they could meet up after work. Grace, still not fully over Brian, agreed. When the doorbell rang, she had no idea that her life was going to completely change. When Grace answered the door, it was Brian and Angelica. Grace, still remembering who she was, reluctantly let them in. Instead of Brian coming over to try to reconcile with Grace, he was coming over to tell Grace that he had moved on and that Angelica was moving to Sugarberry to be with him.

Grace was stunned and knew she had to get away. While Grace was sitting there thinking about everything that had happened, she remembered a postcard that had arrived, addressed to her mother. The postcard was written for her mother, but Grace had no idea who wrote it. The writer asked for Grace’s mother Patricia to come visit. Grace, seeing this as a potential getaway, dialed the number. When the person picked up, Grace began explaining the postcard and a little about her mother. It turns out, that the person Grace was talking to was her mother’s aunt Millie. Although Grace had never met her, she decides that going to Florida and meeting her would be a nice way to get away from Brian.

Grace soon leaves to go to Florida to meet her aunt. Although she is excited to get away, she has so many questions. Who is this mysterious person and why hasn’t anyone in her family ever mentioned her before? If she really is her aunt, what happened that caused everyone to forget about her? Grace, although wanting to know the answers, was reluctant to learn the truth. She soon realizes that her little getaway wasn’t just for her to do some soul searching, but to discover decades old family history.

A Little Bit of Grace is a great book that is very well written and not at all a typical women's fiction title. There are so many things going on that people can really connect to, from break-ups, to divorce, moving on and various family issues. Although there is something for everyone to connect to, it does keep you guessing. It leaves you wondering what was so bad that someone could completely disown their own family. Once you find out, although it is a controversial topic, it leaves you wondering what would you do. This book is a wonderful read and definitely gets you thinking.

Quill says: This is a great heartfelt book that will definitely get you thinking.

#BookReview - Ralphie, Always Loved

Ralphie, Always Loved

By: Andrea Yerramilli
Illustrated by: Samantha Van Riet
Publisher: About Something Good, LLC
Publication Date: October 2017
ISBN: 978-0-9987601-0-0
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: November 17, 2017

It’s a rare occurrence when a book comes along that not only teaches a lesson and gives children something to truly enjoy, but also fills the heart with love. This is that book.

Readers meet Ralphie when he is a pup, helping the lovely angels paint the white puffy clouds that will decorate the sky. One day, God picks Ralphie up, draws a white heart on his chest, and tells him that Ralphie is not only loved, but also…he is love. It is on this day that Ralphie comes down from the heavens and is born.

A journey commences where Ralphie must go through some confusion before finding the couple that he will love forever. Then, as time moves forward, he must learn obedience, be educated on what a child is and how great they can be – especially when throwing food from the high chair for the pup to enjoy. Ralphie also meets an older black dog that will be his sibling, and he then ages gracefully with friends and loved ones all around.

The illustrations are adorable and the words are kind, loving and filled with emotion. In addition, the little red “gifts” that come with the book are a whole lot of fun. Here, however, is why this reviewer believes Ralphie is a book that moves from the category of lovely to award-winning:
As a mother (and now new grandmother) who had a big black dog who I loved with all my heart for 12 years, Ralphie brought back the good times when that beloved dog of mine (Reuben) was a constant friend and companion in my life. Now, I watch my granddaughter in a high chair throw food on the ground to a new dog by the name of Chloe, as she smiles wide and screams “Woof! Woof!” while the food flies. I have always believed that my dear Reuben embarked on a journey “home” when he left this earth, and that I will meet up with him again one day. It is a fact that the love, respect, admiration, and kindness dogs bring to our lives is something that goes beyond the norm; they are truly a gift from Heaven, and this author/illustrator team has put on paper what dog owners everywhere feel with all their hearts.

It is important to note that the publisher of this book, About Something Good, was created to curate, inspire, and share goodness in the world. As opposed to the many negative words and images that surround us on a daily basis in the media, ASG focuses on the beauty that is life. ( It will be interesting to see the creations that come from this particular house in the future.

Quill says: You need to jump on board with the many other passengers out there who, I am quite sure, have already fallen absolutely in love with Ralphie!

#BookReview - Secrets Kids Know...That Adults Oughta Learn

Secrets Kids Know...That Adults Oughta Learn: Enriching Your Life by Viewing It Through The Eyes of a Child

By: Allen Klein
Publisher: Viva Editions
Publication Date: September 2017
ISBN: 978-1632280534
Reviewed by: Diana Buss
Review Date: November 17, 2017

“Pretty much all the honest truth telling there is in the world is done by children.” - Oliver Wendell Holmes SR.

Secrets Kids Know...That Adults Oughta Learn uncovers the secret to living a happier, more joyful life. Each chapter reveals a different secret along with a corresponding quote and illustration. Not only does this show the reader the purpose of the following chapter but it is easier to scan through and find the right secret for the right situation.

Within each chapter, stories and examples are told that pertain to the secret as well as a section called "Through the Eyes of a Child" that provides jokes and other fun tidbits to share with others. For example, “Why did the raisin go to the dance with a prune? Because he couldn't get a date!” While some may seem corny, they are sure to make you smile and share with those around you.
Each chapter ends with a section titled "Grow Down," where practical tips and tricks are offered to help you get in touch with the child within. With suggestions from finding ways to be fully present and experiencing everything as if it were the first time to having more fun and brightening up a stressful situation, these 18 secrets will give you a fresh outlook on this sometimes daunting experience called life.

There's something sweet about remembering the way things were as a child. While you may not remember specific incidences it's easy to think about how much simpler times were back then. It's pretty often I find myself wishing things were so simple again, and truly it's often because we lose the child in us. This book helps put us back in touch with who we once were. I think this book was sweet and a nice reminder of what we miss when we grow up and become much too busy in our own worlds. If you get the chance to pick up this book, do it. Your inner child and tired, overwhelmed self will thank you for it.

Quill says: Secrets Kids Know...That Adults Oughta Learn is a cute book to help remind you to stop and smell the roses.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Interview with Celebrity Impersonator Rich Little

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with celebrity impersonator Rich Little about his new book People I've Known and Been: Little by Little

FQ: You note that one of the things that separated your impersonations from others was that you came up with a "rapid fire" method of going from one impersonation to another. Would you explain this to our readers? Was this an intentional method, taking months (years?) of practice?

LITTLE: I've always had the ability to switch from one person to another. Most of the people before me used to turn around, get into character and then turn back to the audience. I didn't need to do this.

FQ: Did your parents support your career choice before you "made it big," and were they impressed when you made it to "The Judy Garland Show"?

Rich Little with Judy Garland

LITTLE: My father passed at the time. My mother was very supportive, but she was more interested in what I was going to wear during the show.

FQ: I absolutely loved the Jack Benny/NBC Chicken Soup story. What was going through your mind when that was happening?

LITTLE: Jack was very finicky. He was more interested in the little things in life, like food and the weather, than he was in his career. I was just happy to be in his company. He was not a stingy man. In real life, he was very generous.

FQ: You mention in your book how generous Alan Ladd was to you and your brother, and how Richard Todd had no time for two kids who wanted his autograph. When you've had a long day and just want to relax, but a fan comes up for just one more autograph, does that day so long ago with Mr. Ladd keep you going?

LITTLE: Always be nice to your fans, even if you're not in a good mood. It means a lot to them, and I never forget that they're the reason for my success. To be fair, Richard Todd might not have even known that I was out in the hallway waiting. That may have come from his manager.

FQ: It was so enjoyable to read about celebrities who lived up to their "nice" image. Was there a celebrity who enjoyed such a reputation but who you found to be less than what their image projected?

Rich Little with George Burns

LITTLE: Paul Lynde was not the man everybody thought he was. He was very unhappy in his private life. His attitude off the set was not very good.

FQ: In your book, you talk about impersonating Richard Nixon - and the day you had to do the impersonation right in front of President Nixon. Would you tell our readers what that was like?

LITTLE: I don't think President Nixon knew what I was doing. He had no sense of humor. He wore the same dark suit for his whole career and never took the hanger out of it.

Rich Little with Johnny Carson

FQ: Was there ever a person who proved too difficult to impersonate? Somebody whose voice or mannerisms you just couldn't get right? Or, that you did get right, but it took longer than usual?

LITTLE: I could never do Robert Redford, Harrison Ford, or Michael Douglas. They were all great actors, but not very distinctive voices. If ever I could have done Marilyn Monroe, I would have jumped myself.

Rich Little with John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart

FQ: In 1976, you starred in "The Rich Little Show" (not that somebody else would star in the show), a weekly television show. Was the pressure intense to put out a weekly show? And did your other appearances suffer because of it? Any fond memory of the show you'd like to share?

LITTLE: When you do a weekly television show, you're always in a hurry. Sometimes because of the time element, you're not completely happy. I liked working with Charlotte Ray, but I think my shaggy sheep dog Dudley stole the show. He was hoping for a spin off.

FQ: You have "hobnobbed" with both celebrities and politicians. Which do you prefer to hang around? Are both groups equally happy to have you impersonate them? (I realize this could be a vast generalization but thought it would be fun for our readers).

LITTLE: Politicians are more fun to impersonate because they think they're smarter than they are. When you make them say silly things, people like it. It was the same with my teachers.

FQ: Is having "Rich Little Drive" in Ottawa, Canada a highlight of your career?

LITTLE: No, it was not the highlight of my career - it was a dead end. But Paul Anka Drive was shorter.

FQ: You're quite active, currently appearing in Las Vegas. Would you share with our readers a little about your current show?

LITTLE: I'm now doing a show in The Laugh Factory at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino. It's based on my career. I use film clips of the actual stars, and I show a lot of my art. I started drawing before I ever did impressions.

FQ: Mr. Little - I'd like to thank you for your time and for writing such a fun book that brought back so many fond memories of both movie stars I've adored for years, as well as watching your impersonations of them. Thank you for bringing so many smiles to so many faces over the years. - Ellen Feld

LITTLE: Thank you for your kind review. I'm very appreciative. Unfortunately, many of my friends have not read my book.They can't read.

To learn more about People I've Known and Been: Little by Little please read the review.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

#AuthorInterview with Lin Wilder @LinWilder

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Anita Lock is talking with Lin Wilder, author of Finding the Narrow Path: Patterns, Faith and Searching

FQ: Several years went by before you “remembered the promise made to” your friend regarding writing your personal spiritual journey. This came at a time when you experienced writer’s block while attempting to work on your next fiction novel. In retrospect, would you say the writer’s block was happenstance, or divine intervention? Explain.

WILDER: There is no doubt that what felt like writer’s block was instead a shove from the Holy Spirit. I say shove because I believe writer’s block to be a myth. If the words don’t flow, there is something going on...usually, fear. However, in this case, I was eager to begin on the revisions for my 3rd novel, I had gotten over the initial hemorrhaging from the editor’s very critical review and was ready to work. By nature, I’m a perfectionist. And can be obsessive about deadlines. The fall deadline loomed in front of me. The fact that this was taking place during Lent finally dawned on me. And I began to pray...ask for help. It was then that I remembered the promise. And then the mental version of...”Oh no, you have got to be kidding, really?” hit like a ton of bricks.

FQ: In chapter four you state, “most of my listeners have been lifelong Catholics or Christians and have not experienced living life without faith.” How do you define faith? Explain.

Author Lin Wilder
WILDER: St. Paul uses this definition: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen.” A far more poetic definition than the one I used to use. During the years when I was invited to speak to Catholic audiences about my conversion, I would use the ground I stood on as an analogy. Early in the talk, I’d stomp my foot very hard on the floor (It worked best if standing on an uncarpeted one.) Without fail the echo woke up my listeners. Once I had their attention, I said, “life without faith is like living without gravity. We float in the air without boundaries, all things are permissible.” Quoting Dostoevsky.

FQ: How do you maintain a balance between Jesus as your friend and a healthy fear of God, or is such a balance even necessary?

WILDER: What a great question!

Early in the book, I quote a Legionary of Christ priest who opens the weekend retreat with this prayer. “I pray that if Jesus Christ is not now your best friend, that by Sunday night, He will be.” And then I write about the terror evoked by that comment. That terror I felt is, of course, an unhealthy fear. But facing it and the darkness in us is an essential first step in establishing a friendship with the three persons of God. Over time, the fear evolves and becomes what the writers of the Old Testament had in mind with the phrase, “Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” A fear comprised of love, fervent desire to please, to obey.

FQ: You mention that you personally embrace the Roman Catholic’s stance on abortion. In your public lectures, how do you address hard questions, such as impregnation as a result of incest and rape?

WILDER: I cannot speak to those questions because I have not experienced any of those things. I can speak about abortion because I had one. Did it despite knowing I was killing a baby. Yes, I believe in the stance of the Catholic Church on these things, including contraception. To be a Catholic means that I obey the Church’s teaching in all things. However, what all too frequently gets lost in the polemics of ideology is the reality in which a person chooses sin...knowingly because they feel they must. Over ten years ago, I had a conversation with a priest I believed should be my spiritual director. But I did not know him. Looking back, it is clear that I was testing him.

Fully aware of the Church’s teaching on contraception and of my fear that were I of child-bearing age, I could not comply with it, I asked the priest what he would do if I came to talk with him about my desire to use contraceptives at thirty- something years of age, “What would he tell me?”
He answered that his job as a priest was to make sure that I understood the teaching of the church and the reasons behind it. But that my decision was between me and God. Indeed.

What isn’t understood by those looking in at the Catholic Church is that we know we’re sinners, that is why we are there. But these ideological arguments dissolve into silly divisions and labels and blur the truth. Most of us have no idea of what we would do until faced with the decision, decisions of consequence like abortion and contraception. Only then do we really think about it, because we must.
In a way, these ‘issues’ are kind of like the gun control argument. Until I listened to a good friend describe her experience with two men breaking into her apartment one night, I believed that no one should have a gun. In lurid detail, my friend described that night. Each man took his turn with her, over and over. Knowing that her two little boys were asleep in their room, she was unable to scream for help. My anti-gun control ideology died during her horrific tale. Ever since I have owned a hand gun-just in case.

FQ: You describe three significant encounters with the Holy Spirit in the form of a brilliant light. Have you had any further encounters since the publication of Finding the Narrow Path? And if so, explain.

WILDER: Since then there have been no visual images. But not infrequently what St. Teresa of Avila terms locutions or words heard in my psyche, fully formed. The most dramatic was several years ago while exercising on my Precor in my garage. A command to spend time at a mission outside Tijuana with a priest friend. The internal argument was somewhat lengthy because each time I have visited Mexico as a tourist, I got progressively sicker. You know, the kind of illness that makes you afraid that you won’t die? But the ‘voice’ was insistent. I went. More recently, this last April, I was walking with my dogs saying the Rosary. And was lingering on the interchange between Pontius Pilate and Christ where Pilate asks, “What is truth?” Unlike all the homilists I’ve heard speak about this interaction, I’ve never thought his question sophistry. Instead, I’ve identified with the guy. And for the thousandth time since I learned about Pilate, stuck there. And heard, “Your next book will be about Claudia.” Again, the inner argument, “What? That’s historical fiction! I don’t write historical fiction!” I heard, “The title is, I, Claudia.”

FQ: A priest remarked to you, “We are redeemed, sinners. Bought and paid for by the blood of Christ.” I find your response interesting: “I find there are two kinds of Catholics. The first type emphasizes the redeemed part of that equation by ignoring sin, the other, usually converts, like you [the priest], focus on the sinner side of that equation.” Do you believe this type of thinking is limited to just Catholics?

WILDER: No, probably not. I suspect all converted Christians feel the weight of their former sins far more than do those who have lived their lives – or tried to- according to the commandments.

FQ: One aspect that you briefly cover is the area of “forgiveness.” What importance would you say forgiveness has in one’s life as he or she is searching for spiritual truth?

WILDER: Forgiveness is imperative. We are incapable of movement without it. Learning to love ourselves begins there, forgiving ourselves. Just looking around shows us that despite all the medications, increasingly sophisticated ways to distract ourselves, many of us – perhaps most - dislike, maybe hate ourselves. That 2nd commandment, “Love your neighbor as you love yourselves,” is so weighty. But we focus on the first part. The movie, The Shack brilliantly demonstrates the strange paradox that our inability to forgive another rests on our inabiltity to forgive ourselves.

FQ: What one piece of advice would you give to a person to get him or her started in their search for spiritual truth?

WILDER: Wow. I guess it would be one phrase, admit the need for it...something more, Someone greater. Maybe on your knees somewhere. Then write it down. Then don’t stop until you get there.

FQ: Do you have any writing projects in the works?

WILDER: Yes, I am working with my editors on the revisions for the 4th novel in the Dr. Lindsey McCall medical mystery series, Malthus Revisited: The Cup of Wrath. The book will be released within the next several weeks.

FQ: Do you foresee writing any other nonfictional works?

WILDER: Yes. I write non-fiction articles weekly at my blog and publish articles regularly at Occasionally I also do guest blog posts. I like non-fiction, it is lots easier than fiction!

To learn more about Finding the Narrow Path: Patterns, Faith and Searching please read the review.

Monday, November 13, 2017

#AuthorInterview with J. Michael Dolan @dolan1951

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with J. Michael Dolan, author of The Trumpets of Jericho

FQ: When it comes to a book as large as this one, readers are always interested in knowing how you did the incredible amount of research to bring it to fruition. Can you tell us a bit about the process of gathering the information?

DOLAN: You could say I’ve been researching the Holocaust my whole life. Even as a child I was reading adult books about it, and continue to be fascinated by the most monstrous crime ever committed.

For my own book I spent many an hour in the library of the Holocaust Museum Houston, filling notebooks by day from works in the reference section, taking home what books I was allowed to, and buying others online. 80% of my material came from these, the rest from the Internet and even a few movies. Most of that 80% ended up in my notes, or when whole pages were called for I’d scan them on a copy machine. As if all that wasn’t laborious enough, I had to organize what amounted to a small mountain of data so I could find what I needed when I needed it.

FQ: What first brought about your fascination with this particular subject?

DOLAN: I was in the HMH about six years ago strolling the exhibits when I came upon one honoring the young Jewish heroine Roza Robota. That was my introduction to both her and the 1944 revolt at Auschwitz she played so big a part in. Intrigued, I was soon investigating the latter, only to discover to my surprise it lacked the book it deserved. Inside of a week I began correcting that woeful state of affairs.

FQ: After reading your novel, I must say I’m amazed the name Roza Robota is not more well known. Do you have any idea why that is? Have you come across any other books that even touched on her or the revolt?

DOLAN: Touched on them, yes, but little more than that. Mine is the first devoted in its entirety to the Auschwitz uprising. As for Roza and the general public’s unfamiliarity with her, I believe it but a reflection of not only that surrounding the Holocaust but history in general. I mean, save for Spielberg and their local cineplex, how many people would know who Oskar Schindler was? It’s a phenomenon, I’m afraid, emblematic of the times: readers of serious writing are becoming harder to find, none more than those with an interest in history. Sad, very sad. Dangerous, too. The written word is and always has been a bulwark against tyranny. Ask Orwell.

Author J. Michael Dolan
FQ: Of all the amazing characters in The Trumpets of Jericho, do you have a favorite, a man or woman you most admire?

DOLAN: Roza and her best friend Noah Zabludowicz, of course, rank at the top of my pantheon of the book’s heroes, but I must admit to having a soft spot for Kapo Kaminski, one of the architects of the rebellion and de facto leader of the Sonderkommando, those mainly Jewish wretches forced to work the crematoria. As the few survivors who knew him have all attested to, beneath the man’s rough, irascible, bulldog exterior beat a heart as big as they come.

No prisoner did more to try to ease the suffering around him, and given his high place in the inmate pecking order, with considerable success. How much do I admire this Kaminski? His granddaughter in Israel told me his name came up 247 times in my novel.

FQ: Writing the roles of the evil characters in the book must certainly have taken a toll on you. Was there a way you were able to “step away” from the project when need be? How did you handle all the scenes of darkness you had to put on paper?

DOLAN: The hardest part here was putting myself inside the heads of those evil characters you mention, seeing things through their eyes—in essence becoming them for a while to make them more real to the reader. There were long stretches where I had to say some loathsome things, “perform” loathsome deeds, and you’re right: it wasn’t easy having to crawl inside the skin of a baby-killing mass murderer.

Then again, the vast majority of my book’s characters are sympathetic to the extreme, and I always had them and their nobility to offset the barbarity of those others. I can only imagine the weirdness Brett Easton Ellis must have gone through while writing American Psycho. I don’t think I would have wanted to be around him then.

FQ: Apart from the Holocaust, are there any other periods/locations/historical events that might interest you enough to be grist for a future novel? What can your readers look forward to down the road?

DOLAN: As a matter of fact, I’m researching a novel now that has nothing to do with the Holocaust yet remains rooted in the fertile ground of Jewish history. It’s set in the Roman-occupied Palestine of the 1st century A.D., and is a book I’ve wanted to write for a long time. Beyond that, though, other than telling you I anticipate it provoking no end of controversy, I’d rather keep its narrator and plot secret for the present (you’ll have to pardon my paranoia) for fear of some other author stealing the idea. And no, that narrator isn’t who you might be thinking it is—but close.

FQ: The world, unfortunately, seems to be in a constant state of turmoil these days. After taking on a subject that is, for lack of a more fitting term, nightmarish, do you see a way in which the writer can maybe help to change things: open minds somehow and at least lessen the negativity that’s out there?

DOLAN: I think Holocaust books, fiction and nonfiction, are particularly valuable in this respect, the more nightmarish the better. Based as they are on an event that actually happened as opposed to, say, some writer’s dystopian invention gives the agenda underlying them that much more credibility. And to me, what with the racism that seems to have found renewed vigor in not only this country but others, that agenda should be this: to show people how easily the tiniest flame of prejudice can grow into a forest fire of deadly hate and persecution.

FQ: Do you believe your book, focusing as it does on this particular event, might be therapeutic to people, make them more tolerant, understanding?

DOLAN: See my answer to the previous question. I will add that works like Trumpets aren’t going to change the perceptions of any die-hard racists, but might very well help prevent the ordinary citizen from succumbing to extremism.

FQ: Readers love to know what “A Writing Day in the Life of ___________” is all about. Do you have a certain time set aside to write, a certain way of writing, in a certain location? Are you one who needs complete silence or perhaps prefers music, etc., in the background? What does a J. Michael Dolan writing day consist of?

DOLAN: I’ll try to keep this brief, as I honestly don’t see it fascinating anyone other than my mother. Once I start actually writing the novel, the following applies seven days a week (insofar as that’s possible) until the first draft is done:

Coffee in the morning to wake up, retiring to my office where, yes, I require total silence, editing what I wrote the day before to get back into the flow of things, then working all day only breaking for meals. After dinner I’ll review what I wrote earlier and either edit or add to it for a while, then make every effort for the rest of the evening (all too often unsuccessfully) to put it out of my mind and stop brooding over the damn thing.

Once that first draft is done, and under the same regimen, I can tack on another six months or more for rewrites. All of which, obviously, translates to me having no life when in the death grip of the Muse. And, I like to think, accounts for why I’m no longer married. Ah, well... “C’est la vie, c’est la guerre,” said the Frenchman to the judge at his divorce hearing.

FQ: Is there a way, in your eyes, to make sure a new Holocaust doesn’t occur? Do you think we’ll ever be free of the possibility of another?

DOLAN: Another Holocaust? Unlikely, not to the extent the Nazis perpetrated it anyway. Theirs was a program of genocide unprecedented in history, a meticulously planned, rigorously systematic, industrialized form of mass murder with the full power of a modern European state behind it. It would take a very special and extreme set of circumstances for anything approaching it to be repeated.

On the other hand, variations of it can all too readily crop up, have cropped up, in fact, both before and after the Third Reich: the Turks’ slaughter of their Armenian minority in the 1920’s, that against the Ibo peoples of Nigeria during the Biafran tragedy of the 1960’s, and more recently the wholesale massacres in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. Something of a lesser sort even happened right here in America, the internment camps in WWII California and Arizona, in which U.S. citizens of Japanese origin—men, women, and children—were incarcerated for years in frightful conditions. These weren’t death camps, but were harsh and racially motivated.

What can you, I, or anyone do to make sure genocide doesn’t occur again? The question should be, What are we going to do, how are we going to fight it, who do we hold responsible when it does?

To learn more about The Trumpets of Jericho please read the review.

#AuthorInterview with Dana Ridenour @ridenour_dana

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Diana Buss is talking with Dana Ridenour, author of Beyond the Cabin

FQ: You seem to really know and describe the "Lowcountry" of South Carolina - it seems you have a deep love for it. Why did you choose South Carolina?

RIDENOUR: I do have a deep love and appreciation for the Lowcountry. My family vacationed on the South Carolina coast from the time I was six years old. I spent most of my summers as a teenager and young adult living and working in the area. During that time, I worked as a First Mate for Captain Sandy’s Tours in Georgetown, South Carolina. We provided boat tours of the majestic old rice plantations, shelling and lighthouse tours, and, at night, ghost tours. Captain Sandy taught me everything I know about the history, mystery and romance of this area. That is why the character of Captain Meade plays such an important part in Beyond The Cabin. I retired from the FBI on April 6, 2016 and I loved the area so much I retired in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.

FQ: On behalf of all of us wishing for a bit of romance with our mystery, is there a reason that made you bring Logan into this?

RIDENOUR: My main character in both novels is FBI Special Agent Lexie Montgomery. Like most of us, Lexie is searching for that one special person in life. Lexie’s love life is complicated by the fact that she is an undercover agent in a full-time, deep-cover assignment. She struggles with her attraction to Logan because she isn’t allowed to disclose her true identity to him and knows that it could become a huge problem when she came out of her undercover role. By witnessing Lexie’s internal turmoil over Logan, the readers are able to see and understand the psychological toll that working undercover takes on an agent.

Author Dana Ridenour
FQ: Why is there such a brief but detailed description of the Gullah people? Does it have to do with the fact that you can't judge a book by it's cover, and that prejudice can be misleading?

RIDENOUR: Since my days of working on the boat with Captain Sandy, I have had a fascination with the Gullah people and their customs. I find it interesting that in this region stretching from Sandy Island, South Carolina, to Amelia Island, Florida the Gullah people were able to pass from one generation to the next so much of their ethnic traditions from West Africa dating back to the mid 1700s. I wanted to give my readers a glimpse into the rich, beautiful culture of the Gullah people. I was thrilled to learn that after reading Beyond The Cabin, several book clubs in the area wanted to learn more about Gullah life and traditions. A couple of the book clubs even organized visits to some of the historical South Carolina sites I wrote about in the book. I was quite flattered to know that my book triggered an interest in people that went beyond the pages of a book.

FQ: Would you recommend reading the first book before this, in order to get a better look into who Lexie is?

RIDENOUR: If you have a chance, I would definitely recommend reading Behind The Mask before Beyond The Cabin. Lexie takes on her first undercover mission in Behind The Mask so you get to see how she develops as an undercover agent. Also, if you read the first book, you will understand Lexie and Savannah’s relationship more and see how they became friends. The books were written as stand alone books, but it certainly helps to understand some of the nuances if you read the books in order.

FQ: Did your personal experience influence Lexie's story?

RIDENOUR: Definitely. I spent most of my career as an FBI agent working undercover. I spent several years infiltrating domestic terrorism cells, many like the ones portrayed in my novels. Both novels are fiction, but they are based loosely on real cases and real people that I encountered during my twenty-year career. The character of Lexie came about because of emotions that I experienced as a new undercover agent. Undercover agents have to learn to compartmentalize their emotions, which takes practice. When an agent is new to working undercover, it can be difficult to not get lost in the role. I wanted to give the readers a look into the emotional toll a role can take on an undercover agent. So, in a way the character of Lexie is based largely on my experiences as an undercover agent.

FQ: In the first few pages of Beyond the Cabin, you thank your own personal and real-life Captain Meade. Did he perhaps once keep you safe from danger? Is that part of what inspired you to use a version of him in your story? Would you tell our readers a little bit about him?

The author with Captain Sandy Vermont
RIDENOUR: Captain Sandy Vermont was a naturalist, a storyteller, and a wise man. I worked on his tour boat off and on over many years and we became very close. Captain Sandy shaped and influenced my life in so many ways. His passion for the history, mystery and romance of the area was contagious. My love of the South Carolina Lowcountry came from the countless hours that I spent on the boat with Captain Sandy, listening to his stories and learning about the area. Captain Sandy taught me to throw a cast net, made me laugh, and brought great comfort to me in troubling times. When I was a young adult, facing a crossroads in life, I turned to Captain Sandy for advice. He put me on his boat, took me to a deserted barrier island, and told me to walk the beach and the answers would come. He helped me to find my own way in life and to this day, if I’m in need of answers, I walk the beach and ponder the question until the answer comes.

FQ: Why did you choose to reveal the suspense on the island in the prologue?

RIDENOUR: I wanted to drop the readers directly into the action and give them something to ponder while reading the book. As a reader, I love prologues. As an author I like to give readers something to anticipate and to let them know that they are in for a thrill ride...but they won’t know the outcome until it’s revealed.

FQ: Will you bring Captain Meade back in future books?

RIDENOUR: I dearly love the character of Captain Meade. I enjoyed writing Beyond The Cabin because the setting and the characters were so close to my heart. I think Captain Meade will definitely make an appearance in future books. In fact, I wouldn’t rule out another novel completely set somewhere in the Lowcountry.

FQ: Do you have any more stories in the works?

RIDENOUR: I’m currently working on the third Lexie Montgomery book as well as a spec script for television. The novels are in development for television so there is no slowing down at this point.

To learn more about Beyond the Cabin please read the review.