Sunday, September 29, 2019

Authors - Check out Unglitch!

Attention Authors! If you're in need of a cover design specialist, check out Unglitch!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

#BookReview - The Lady with Balls

The Lady with Balls: A Single Mother's Triumphant Battle in a Man's World
By: Alice Combs
Publisher: Cypress House
Publication Date: July 2019
ISBN: 978-0998785417
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: September 20, 2019
In this minute-by-minute memoir of female grit and glory, Alice Combs combines emotive vignettes of family, failures, love interests, but above all, her fierce determination to make a living and be a leader in a man’s world.
As Combs was climbing out of a frayed career path to nowhere and a dead-end marriage that left her living on food stamps and struggling to care for two little girls, a wacky offer by a male friend – to help him with his tangled business endeavor selling baling wire – incited the author’s yen to prove herself. Having been told that she wasn’t really corporate material, she gradually set that analysis on its ear. With very little assistance and a lot of personal incentive, she learned the baling wire business from memorizing the basic terms like gage, annealed, and galvanized to watching, and listening to, the screeching machinery that compacts and binds up every conceivable kind of trash. 
At one point she moaned inwardly, “I wish men would take women more seriously” when she was told that visiting certain plant floors wasn’t “safe for women.” A key turning point in this vibrant autobiography shows Combs demanding to see an arrogant customer who had failed to send her a payment on time. She pushed through every barrier to confront him in the midst of a meeting, threw her briefcase at him, and was pushed down the stairs. Emerging remarkably unhurt, she later learned that this incident had surprisingly earned the respect of the men who witnessed it, and her new nickname - “The Lady with Balls” - was initiated. In a few short years she had revitalized her friend’s business, seen him for the fraud that he truly was, and bought him out.
Combs has a great gift, not only for business, but also for writing about business. Her book is constructed episodically, with action, reaction and reflection permeating every page. Dealing with a domineering mother, a selfish husband, dishonest business partners and difficult clients, she battled through every day to keep herself and her little family afloat. She did extensive research to keep ahead of the game. She hired other aspiring entrepreneurial women. She scored a major coup when her company got a contract with Safeway – and later survived the crisis when that contract was lost. Now, happily married, she still owns a piece of her once-struggling enterprise, Vulcan Wire, which continues to thrive. Near the end of the book, Combs shares “Seven Basic Business Lessons,” concluding with her wish that the reader may “be a braver person than I was” – though such a “braver person” will be hard to imagine after reading her remarkable saga. 
Quill says: Anyone hoping to make a success in the highly competitive realm of small business can learn from author Combs, and anyone who likes the motivational account of a woman’s rise to power in a man’s world will find the story of The Lady with Balls inspiring and educational. 
For more information on The Lady with Balls: A Single Mother's Triumphant Battle in a Man's World, please visit the book's website at:

Monday, September 23, 2019

#AuthorInterview with Mario Dhingsa @MarioDhingsa

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Mario Dhingsa, the author of Maps of Bliss and Rage
FQ: I have to ask, this is such a large project to take on, where did the idea originally come from for these specific tales and to bring them together into a collection?
DHINGSA: In 2005, I took a career break and traveled (indirectly) from England to New Zealand. The structure of the book is a simply a retracing of my steps.
Red Dwarf (BBC TV)
The ideas for each chapter came from a variety of sources. Chapter One is based on the first all-female station crew to spend winter in Antarctica in 1990/91.
Unlike those smart and strong heroines, I wanted the male protagonists to be endearingly hopeless and unlucky, like the crew of Red Dwarf (anarchic UK sitcom, and one of my favourite shows growing up).
FQ: As a lover of libraries, I am also a lover of research. You certainly did a great deal when it comes to this treasure. How do you feel about research?
DHINGSA: I love the research part of writing. There’s no pressure, and you can read to your heart’s content! If I do my research, half of the plot writes itself. Researching also teaches me what not to write, in order to avoid fallacies and clichés.
Researching doesn’t have to be dull, dry and boring. The Day of the Jackal (1973) and All the President’s Men (1976) show how profound it can be!
Deputy Commissioner Claude Lebel from 'the Day of the Jackal'
FQ: Are you a big traveler? If so, what is the most amazing place you’ve ever visited that touched you in some way and filled you to the brim with creativity? 
DHINGSA: I’ve been to the Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome and it is extraordinary. But one of my favourite places to visit is actually airports. Yes, they can be tedious and frustrating, but I love how in this one building, you can travel to almost anywhere in the world, and all you have to do is go down a corridor.The passengers there are usually filled with excitement and optimism, and if someone’s waiting for their loved one’s arrival, then there is something very special when they’re finally reunited.
FQ: Are you a fan of anthologies? 
Arthur C. Clarke 'Of Time and Stars'
DHINGSA: When I was about 13, I used to buy a UK science magazine called Focus (now BBC Science Focus). One month it came with a free copy of Arthur C. Clarke’s Of Time and Stars(originally published in 1972). This collection of short stories left me stunned. It was superbly written, and unendingly imaginative. It was profound, poetic, and playful. Many readers choose Stephen King’s Different Seasons as the best short story collection ever, but I would always pick Of Time and Stars, and I have no regrets 🙂
FQ: Is there one particular character who you have written who you feel close to, or identify with the most?
Castelgrande, Bellinzona, Switzerland
DHINGSA: I think Leandro in the Bellinzona chapter is the one most closet to me, in terms of his stubbornness, poor timing, and inability to communicate 😊
FQ: Do you have any plans where that character or another may appear in a series one day?
DHINGSA: I think the Bellinzona chapter lends itself well to a prequel and sequel installment. But would these characters want to spend any more time with me, after what happened to their lives? I don’t think so. And I don’t blame them 😊
FQ: Can you tell us about one of your most memorable meetings with a fan of your work – whether that be at a book signing or on the internet (blog, etc.) – and how their praise affected you? 
DHINGSA: As a writer, it’s always electrifying when a reader tells you that they like your work. What astonishes me the most is when readers say they are keen to re-read MOBAR. After everything they’ve just read, after everything they’ve just gone through, they still want to go back into the blaze? They’re a braver person than me 😊
FQ: All want to know: Are you working on anything now? 
Art Carney in 'Night of the Meek'
DHINGSA: I’m finalizing a children’s sci-fi book for Feb. 2020, but hope to start work this year on a Christmas story (as requested by my children). I’ll try to make it as enchanting and subversive as The Twilight Zone’s Christmas episode, Night of the Meek (1960): “All I know is that...I live in a dirty rooming house on a street filled with hungry kids and shabby people, where the only thing that comes down the chimney on Christmas Eve is more poverty...I just wish on one Christmas, only one, I could see some of the hopeless ones and the dreamless one. Just on one Christmas, I'd like to see the meek inherit the Earth." In 1960, Rod Serling set a very high bar.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

#BookReview - Treacherous Strand

Treacherous Strand (An Inishowen Mystery)
By: Andrea Carter
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
Publication Date: September 2019
ISBN: 978-1608093045
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: September 2019
Benedicta ‘Ben’ O’Keeffe is at it again in the second of three planned mysteries that finds her trying to prove that the death of a client was the result of murder rather than suicide, as the woman's death report indicates.
Ben is a solicitor in the small (fictional) town of Glendara on the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal, Ireland. Glendara is the type of town where everybody knows everybody else's business which can sometimes make it hard for a solicitor to keep secrets. Ben will soon be hard-pressed to keep things to herself as she begins to dig into a client's death.
As the story opens, a body is found washed up on a beach on the peninsula. The currents in the area are deadly, and the police, or garda as they are called in Ireland, soon rule the death a suicide. When the body is identified as Marguerite Etienne, a French woman who had come to see Ben the day of her death, Ben is consumed with feelings of guilt. The reason? When Marguerite had come to see her that day to draw up a will, Ben had been too busy to complete the task. She hurriedly brushed off Marguerite and promised to get to the will as soon as she was able. 
Feeling guilty at the way she treated Marguerite, and not convinced that she was so mentally fragile as to commit suicide, Ben begins to dig into the woman's past. She soon learns that Marguerite had escaped a cult years before, but had been forced to leave her baby daughter behind with the baby's father, the leader of the cult. Could the cult have something to do with Marguerite's murder? But then Ben gets her hands on the autopsy report and what she learns seems to point in a different direction. Maybe Marguerite was frightened and saw no way out. Perhaps the police are correct and it's a simple case of suicide...
As the second book in the Inishowen Mystery Series, there are a few references within the story to the first book. I have not read that one (Death at Whitewater Church), but had no issues following along/catching up with Ben's life and trials. Told in the first person by Ben, she's a strong, interesting character who is easy to like. The landscape of the Inishowen Peninsula comes to life through the author's artful descriptions and brings a strong presence to the pages. Likewise, the characters Ben works with, against, and for, also add a great deal to the story and make the pages come alive. The series is currently being adapted for television, filming in Inishowen. I'd suggest getting in on the fun before Benedicta hits the airwaves - you won't be disappointed.
Quill says: A great continuation to the Inishowen Mystery Series that has more twists and turns than one of the old side-roads on the Inishowen Peninsula.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

#AuthorInterview with Harvey B. Chess @harveybchess

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Harvey B. Chess, the author of Functional and Funded: Securing Your Nonprofit's Assets From The Inside Out
FQ: Mr. Chess, I have to say I learned a great deal from your book. Could you speak a bit about how this revised edition evolved from the first? 
CHESS: I’ll level with you by admitting that learning about how to get my book published has involved being so eager to get something available that I have, in effect, self-published previous versions - only to realize that they were not truly what I had in mind. So, the book you so kindly reviewed is at long last what I wanted readers to see and this includes providing an index so readers can poke around selectively.
FQ: Along those same lines, is the digital/online world transforming the industry in ways that make it more or less difficult for a charity to raise money?
CHESS: Who’s to say? What I know is that the community-based organizations to which my book is dedicated operate best when taking a multi-faceted approach to securing assets to stay the course. This inescapably involves entering the electronic realm, but not as a be all and end all.
FQ: I read that you gave highly regarded funding proposal development workshops across the globe. Could you tell us about them? Could you speak about any differences that stand out to you when it comes to proposal/grant writing between America and other countries; how the systems differ, or the ease and difficulty levels based on location? 
Author Harvey B. Chess
Author Harvey B. Chess
CHESS: I did make mention of workshops from tiny Westport, CA – my former hometown - to Uppsala, Sweden, the latter location being the sole instance of my globetrotting as a workshop trainer.
As for any differences in the matter of writing grant proposals, this was not a point of concern for me as a trainer. My message for people doing such work was steadfast throughout. At its core, the message is that one can make much more out of building a funding proposal by using the process to look inward to strengthen the organization as well. At their simplest the take-aways are: Strong Proposal Outside: Strong Organization Inside.
As for the trainings themselves, a former participant put it well; “I have witnessed you in action. Your legacy is in hundreds of grassroots organizations' volunteers and staffers who learned and turned around and taught others. I saw them grow in skill, confidence and capacity. Because of a few hours with you, your frankness and compassion and commitment.”
FQ: Do you receive a lot of email questions from readers or industry people who wish to learn even more about the proposal writing process? Do you respond personally, or is there a FAQ page on your website where people can learn even more?
CHESS: When I was active as a trainer among nonprofits such email back and forths took place often.. As for now, your question serves well to focus my attention on what my website, soon to be upgraded, will allow. I am always happy to respond personally when people reach out. Hadn’t thought of FAQs, thanks for that.
FQ: Because your wealth of experience is immense, would you share with us a story of one of the most difficult moments you faced with an organization since you “stumbled into the nonprofit sector in 1965”?
CHESS: I stumbled in because a recruiter for the Federal Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), The Flagship of LBJ’s Great Society Program, told me the organization was going to eliminate poverty in our midst. The idealist in me at the time resonated with such an assertion.
My next job, after I opted out of the opportunity to remain with that Federal Agency, was with an urban YMCA. The new director was committed to changing the organization’s longstanding history as a recreational gathering place for a comfortable middle class to a credible community resource for a neighborhood the economic make-up of which had changed significantly downward.
My job, as part of this effort, was to reach into that neighborhood and try to get a local community center up and running. I was amenable to such a notion on the heels of having been instrumental in getting similar organizations up and running when working at OEO where we used federal grants to lubricate the process.
Different story here. No start-up funding as such, just a measure of good will and undoubtedly a quixotic sense of righteousness. In the absence of experience. inherent credibility and living in that very community, my efforts at organizing largely failed. My take-away was a visceral learning of what my book includes as the iron rule from the Industrial Areas Foundation: “never do for others what they can do for themselves.”
FQ: You keep things very real, so to speak, in this book. Have you always enjoyed being a part of helping a nonprofit stand out from the crowd, and helping them confront and overcome the challenges they face in such a highly competitive world?
CHESS: Yes indeed. I internalized respect for the value of what people can accomplish in service to others through nonprofit organizations years ago, so working in the sector has been a natural for me, so to say. My work, and now my writing, concentrate on helping nonprofits overcome resource development and sustainability challenges, mindful of the prospect of distinguishing themselves as substantial, enterprising and resilient. The difficult times we confront in many communities along with the competition for resources call for nothing less.
FQ: What is your core hope when it comes to teaching this knowledge? Do you feel that there will be longer sustainability for nonprofits if they learn and utilize the data in this book?
CHESS: Since I don’t easily embrace the notion of hope, let me suggest that my core conviction is that people in nonprofits will be able to use my book to always contemplate and reaffirm why they are doing what they do to pursue organizational mission, to secure the assets needed to do this more effectively, and to sustain their efforts until the mission is accomplished.
FQ: Before we go, would you share with us what you are currently working on, whether it be a book, traveling, etc.? And, could I also inquire as to whether you wish to write a work of fiction in the future? That would also be something we’d love to keep an eye out for.
CHESS: At my age, I’m working on staying well, one day at a time, and sharing my life with my long-time partner in our neck of the Northern California woods – and enjoying both thoroughly. As for your query about fiction, maybe the worm will turn. This’ll call for getting the words and thoughts out of my head, no small matter when reflecting on the humbling learning process as a self-published writer so far. I’ll need to get back to the creative writing class I bailed on so I could finish getting Functional and Funded out and about, and in your hands for the review for which I thank you.

#BookReview - Functional and Funded @harveybchess

Functional and Funded: Securing Your Nonprofit's Assets From The Inside Out

By: Harvey B. Chess
Publication Date: July 2019
ISBN: 978-0996314749
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: September 12, 2019
There are many sectors where quality mentors are needed to teach the intricacies of an industry; a person who owns the knowledge it takes to help others find success. The realm of nonprofit and charitable organizations is one that can claim a highly respected mentor by the name of Harvey B. Chess. This author has been kind enough to put his knowledge on paper so that he can teach the reader how to create a funding proposal, and how a nonprofit/charity can achieve success by bringing in money and building a mission statement that works.
This book is a combination of great insight and practical applications. However, don't think this is just about how to fundraise. This book is focused on issues a nonprofit must take on in order to better approach a funding source as a potential partner, not simply as a person or organization that hands over money.
The benefits to be learned begin from the very first page, when the author shows how nonprofits have a tendency to confuse mission statements. Think about that. The mission statement is the very core of why a nonprofit is put together in the first place. What Mr. Chess does is show how a mission statement should not only be an announcement of what a charity will do, but also how it will be done. Example: Whether your mission is to help, to build, to achieve, etc., it must also show how these things will be accomplished. In other words, a mission is “to help” or “to support” by “providing,” “delivering,” etc. If written that way, potential contributors know what the mission is, but also learn how their donations would be spent.
The book then heads further into the specifics of how to put together an effective funding proposal. Not only are there steps on what to cover while writing a proposal, but readers are also shown every nook and cranny there is out there for funding. You learn that 90% of the money available in this world for charitable purposes (in the non-government sector), comes from living individuals: through their investments and wishes while alive, and through their wills so that the giving can continue after their deaths. Under this umbrella are facts on how to deal with face-to-face transactions, as well as how to make personal relationships that last.
The author also covers the facts regarding the other 10% of money coming from the business/corporation sectors. He shows how writing your proposal should be only one aspect of your funding/marketing plan and not the entirety of how you gain success. The word is “diversify,” and this book shows how to build several paths over time to enable your nonprofit/charity to live on.
We are not talking about theories, here. We are talking about how to be proactive as a nonprofit, as well as when not to overthink—how to carefully craft your proposal and hit “send” on that computer of yours with conviction. Helpful charts and figures are included that cover everything from ‘a proposal framework’ showing the phases of development and finalization of your grant proposal; to one that easily explains each component of your nonprofit’s engine. There’s also a ‘tool kit’ section that covers proposal writing dos and don’ts, a simple guide to project planning, and more. The author writes: “Creating proposals has the potential to sharpen the focus of your organization.” I must add, learning from this mentor will also sharpen your focus.
Skillfully written and highly needed, I suspect this book will have dog-eared pages because of the amount of time you’ll read the information while putting it to great use.
Quill says: Clear a place on your desk for this treasure.
For more information on Functional and Funded: Securing Your Nonprofit's Assets From The Inside Out, please visit the book's website at:

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

#AuthorInterview with J.R. Klein

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Barbara Bamberger Scott is talking with J.R. Klein, the author of A Distant Past, An Uncertain Future
FQ: How much of Blake is really you?
KLEIN: Quite a bit, probably. I haven’t experienced the tremendous success as an author that he did; however, in other ways we are a lot alike. I tend to be quiet, somewhat reserved, preferring to watch from off stage rather than as a lead actor. I think, in general, my intuitions are good, as his were, and I am a pretty good listener.
FQ: Have you ever experienced the kind or degree of “block” that Blake goes through?
KLEIN: Occasionally on a small scale, though not to the point of full-out writer’s block. Frequently, I will get to a point in a book where I am not exactly sure how to proceed, and like most writers, I have those tormenting days when nothing seems to be working. Yet, all in all, I have managed to get through far.
FQ: In writing his book, Lenny seems to be operating intuitively based on happenings around him – is that the way any of your own books developed?
KLEIN: Essentially all of them. Years ago when I started out, I thought I should write from an outline. It was an utter disaster; I have never been able to work from an outline. It might be a tried-and-true approach for some writers of fiction, but once I learned to let the story take me where it wanted to go, everything worked out fine. Which is not to say the words always flow easily and effortlessly. It is quite common for me to encounter many mental hurdles along the way while attempting to put the words on the page, sometimes even to the point of having to wait days until the story begins to flow again.
FQ: You seem quite knowledgeable about surfing, also – is that part of your own past or present?
KLEIN: Some, but not a great deal, other than that I lived for a while in Del Mar, California, very close to where the book is set. I did, however, spend a lot of time watching and studying surfers and surfing. I remember talking to them and having them explain the peace and tranquility one experiences out on the water early in the morning. They often likened it to a kind of meditation.
FQ: A Distant Past, An Uncertain Future is essentially a hopeful story that shows how friends can help friends in times of need, directly and indirectly. Is that a theme that runs through your earlier books?
KLEIN: It is certainly a component of one of my earlier books, Frankie Jones, a book that, curiously, also takes place in Del Mar and in other parts of Southern California. I think it’s a theme I am likely to stick with in future resonates with me. 
FQ: Do you, like Blake, have plans for the next creative endeavor?
KLEIN: I have two completed manuscripts. One is in the suspense/thriller genre, more along the lines of my book, The Ostermann House. The other would probably fall into the category of literary fiction. I seem to move back and forth between literary and suspense. Each has its own form of satisfaction and challenge from a writing perspective.
FQ: Lenny wants to write but doesn't know how, has never done so. He gets ideas for a plot from the people he's meeting and the conversations they have. Has this ever happened to you as a writer?
KLEIN: Yes, many, many times. It’s always hard for me to construct a character out of whole cloth. Most are an amalgam of several people, and a multitude of situations and circumstances. If a memorable person or experience fits comfortably into a book, I am happy to incorporate parts. Yet, I never try to pull in too much from real life. It can become distracting because I start to feel as though I am writing non-fiction. The balance in this is important, I think. 
FQ: Blake, by contrast knows how to write, and once he decides to start, he seems to know exactly what will come forth. Again, have you had that experience?
KLEIN: Yes, to the degree that I know where I want the book to go based on what has been written so far. Nonetheless, it is perhaps interesting that I never know how a book will end until I arrive at the end, literally. In all three of my books, I had no idea what would be in the last chapter until I wrote it. As a book begins to take shape during the early stages, however, I generally develop a pretty good sense of where it is heading...all but for the final denouement, that is.
FQ: Have you spent time in Mexican towns, in gringo bars like the one you vividly depict in your book?
KLEIN: Quite a lot. Pretty much from top to bottom and side to side. Years ago when I was in graduate school, and very broke, I took off and traveled for many months through Mexico and Central America, spending less than five dollars a day for food, travel, and housing. It was a rare and unique experience, and it left me with a deep sense of what life is like there. I wrote a memoir of that time that I am hoping will be out in 2020.
FQ: If there were a sequel, would Blake and Emelia get together?
KLEIN: I haven’t given the idea of a sequel too much thought, though it would certainly be feasible. As for Thomas and Emelia hooking up. I considered it in the present book, and a former agent of mine who read the manuscript thought it would be a good idea. For some reason, I felt more comfortable holding to the theme of friendship. Life, however, is an evolving process, and almost anything can happen, as we all know.

Monday, September 9, 2019

#BookReview - Fake

Fake (A Lark Chadwick Mystery)

By: John DeDakis
Publisher: Strategic Media Books
Publication Date: August 2019
ISBN: 978-1939521767
Reviewed by: Gina Montanha
Review Date: September 7, 2019
The newest in the "Lark Chadwick" mystery series, Fake, takes off at lightning speed as First Lady Rose Gannon collapses right at the onset of this page-turning mystery. 
When the startling event that set off this book takes place, White House Correspondent Lark Chadwick is thrown right into the story. She was in the midst of writing the First Lady’s biography, while also covering official Presidential news, and she is thrust into the realm of “fake news” with the startling passing of the First Lady.
Lark’s tumultuous and tragic past challenge her every move, as she desperately tries to uncover truths among the tangled web of deceptive headlines that follow Rose’s heartbreaking death. Even her own words become twisted headlines, causing Lark to question her personal thoughts, intentions and relationships. From being assaulted by one of her biggest journalistic idols, to losing her Associated Press position, to developing her relationship with President Will Gannon, Lark embarks on a serious journey of faith, truth and justice.
Fake is a timely story of media deception and propaganda, raising questions and eyebrows about politics, journalism and integrity. In a world where news travels nearly at the speed of light, every word and action must be taken very seriously, especially when you are in the public spotlight. Lark’s media connections and quick thinking help her sort things out and deliver the real truth in the end.
Quill says:  Fake is engaging and stimulating, an excellent recommendation for mystery lovers.

#BookReview - A Distant Past, An Uncertain Future

A Distant Past, An Uncertain Future

By: J.R. Klein
Publisher: Del Gato
Publication Date: May 2019
ISBN: 978-1733906920
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: September 7, 2019
In this new book by award-winning author J.R. Klein, a writer finds himself blocked—by tragedy, doubts, and fear—yet strange messages begin to appear, calling him to seek new adventure. 
Klein’s protagonist, Thomas Blake, is mad at himself for not simply writing another in the series of mystery novels that have won him, or more precisely, his pen-named alter ego Philip Keenly, wide acclaim. As Keenly, Blake created a hard-hitting popular hero, Evan Noir; but after the death of his beloved wife Kathryn, Blake abandoned Keenly and Noir, trying instead to live a quiet, almost anonymous life in southern California. But lately, things have begun to shift. Blake starts having early morning coffee in a café where youthful surfers hang out. A surfer himself in his youth, he enjoys observing two café regulars—the lovely Emelia and her charming boyfriend Gaucho. Then one day, Emelia approaches him and suggests he go surfing, igniting some spark within Blake’s nearly extinguished spirit. Soon the couple and he and a friend named Lenny are camping out on a Baja beach, and Blake is back on a board. After Lenny narrowly escapes from drowning, saved by Blake’s gutsy efforts, new changes start to snowball that will turn Blake into the person he’s been longing to become. 
Novelist, playwright and world traveler Klein is here obeying the paramount rule for all fiction: write about what you know. In Blake there must surely be some of Klein’s inner workings. The author vividly examines the several ways that a book can come into being—all at once, complete from the beginning, or painstakingly, through increments of experience, reaction and reflection. He builds his story skillfully, from a central focus on Blake and his fading dreams to a gradual outreach to other characters, one by one. Why does Emelia have a repeated dream? Can Gaucho break free from his well-worn routine and start his own business? How will Lenny recover from his near-death trauma? Will Blake write another Noir bestseller—or never write again? And what does surfing, seen by some as a feckless waste of time, illustrate about other aspects of life? Klein excels in his descriptions of Blake’s encounters with waves, from the first time he gets on a board after so many years away: having a small success with one wave, “He wants a bigger one...soon, a good one will crest up…that’s always how it is…..” Turning a sad, reclusive writer into a joyous wave rider with a new, unexpected destiny is the author’s challenge, and he succeeds admirably. 
Quill says: A Distant Past, An Uncertain Future is a satisfying mix of introspection and zestful action that has the power to tickle the intellect with a look inside a writer’s mind, while inciting the urge to pick up a board and hit the waves.
For more information on A Distant Past, An Uncertain Future, please visit the author's website at:

#BookReview - Maps of Bliss and Rage

Maps of Bliss and Rage
By: Mario Dhingsa
Publisher: Mario Dhingsa
Publication Date: May 15, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-473480-74-5
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: September 6, 2019
There are those who will state that in the world of literature at this time, the number of short story collections are far too few. Those readers are absolutely correct. And this becomes even more blatantly clear when you begin reading this particular collection filled with suspense, romance, the fantastical, the inspirational, and everything else in between. 
This author has, quite literally, brought the reader along on one of the best trips through history, offering up a variety of factual moments and tales that take part in some of the most stunning areas of the world. In fact, you will not only come away from this book with a sense of longing to read it again right away, but also a yearning to go on the internet and start booking a trip to some of these locales.
Although one review cannot cover each tale as they should be covered, we must begin with the very first “icy” story from Antarctica (“Between the Sword and the Wall”). We are introduced to two very different men: Crozier – an environmental chemist, and Rawdon – a penguin biologist. At Casey Station, these two are there to replace other staff members who’d gone a bit crazy by the unyielding winter and rebelled. These two opposites end up trying to escape a world that seems to unleash nothing but abominable temperatures. Along the way, they save a Professor who was lost in the freezing landscape, and stumble upon a station run by Russians.
In Wellington, New Zealand, a tale is told between a diplomatic underling and the lover of a married ‘higher-up’ in the world of politics. Thrown together, they end up becoming friends and pulling the rug out from underneath the so-called feet of power while savoring some truly palette pleasing treasures along the way. Written perfectly, this is one story (“I Won’t Stay Still”) where a variety of emotions abound.
Traveling to Jalandhar, India (“The End of the Storm in My Hand"), we meet a corrupt cop by the name of Kulvir working for a truly devious man who is wanted by the Delhi police force. This cop is a violent abuser of his wife and children. However his father, Amrik – a man who has lived in silence in order to shield himself from his own evil wife – wants nothing more than to stop his son from harming anyone else. By working with an innocent-looking tailor, a plan comes together involving a riot and good, old-fashioned alcohol to bring about a battle of cultures and religions in order to save innocent lives. 
In Malta, we meet up with a sour man named Charlo who has lost his wife (even though he seems more than happy that she’s gone by the wayside), and his son, Pawlu. This is an inspirational tale as the son tries desperately to get his father to accept his fiancée, who just so happens to be from Rome. The arguments about Christianity and how the Maltese people certainly led the way and did not follow behind the Romans, is part of the battles. But when both fiancée and bitter future father-in-law witness a miracle, tides turn quickly as St. Paul, a deceased woman, and a Christian holiday come together, leaving a surprise ending readers won’t expect.
One of the most beautiful stories is set in Rome, Italy; (“A Gentle Hand”). Various cultures meet in a non-denominational cemetery: spirits that sit here awaiting their next step forward which will take them through the gates and on to greener pastures. Unlikely friendships are made, humor is enjoyed, and the pain of past lives dissipates as the belief in the beauty of angels and what comes next takes center stage.
As stated previously, a book review can go on only so long. There are more tales: From President Nixon and his Secretary of State Kissinger dining out in NYC in January of 1973; to a young man who looks back on his life and meets up with a teacher from his past; to a fast-moving tale that involves the rumor of a missing Princess and the slew of people from a variety of countries who are waiting to either save her or silence her. This author has done an amazing job of waxing lyrical, historical, cultural and, quite frankly, beautiful.
Quill says: Covering “eight countries, eight strangers, and eight escapes,” this is a collection that deserves a prominent place on your ‘inspirational' bookshelf. 
For more information on Maps of Bliss and Rage, please visit the book's Goodreads page at:

Friday, September 6, 2019

#BookReview - Haiku, Schmaiku for Headin' Out to Sea @SkyboyPhotos

Haiku, Schmaiku For Headin’ Out to Sea: Poetry as Looking Glass, Poetry as Mirror

By: David Bayard
Publisher: Skyboy Press
Publication Date: April 2019
ISBN: 978-0996738088
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: August 31, 2019
Poet David Bayard writes with boldness in his second book, Haiku, Schmaiku For Headin’ Out to Sea.
Wordsmithing appears to go hand-in-hand for poet David Bayard. If his debut book, Gathering the Self: Poems of the Heart, provided readers with a hint to his prowess with the written word, that is nothing compared to his latest work. While his first book looks inwardly, reflecting his life most regularly through nature, Haiku, Schmaiku For Headin’ Out to Sea expresses an affirmation outwardly to follow his gift of verse and rhyme, and to do it boldly.
A collection of seventeen haiku (“one for each syllable of a haiku”), twenty-four poems, and two ballads, Haiku, Schmaiku For Headin’ Out to Sea reawakens one’s youthful senses—all things nature, introspection, and self-exploration—that are often lulled to sleep when busyness accompanies adulthood.
Bayard’s reflective subheading of Poetry as Looking Glass/Poetry as Mirror gives readers a hint as to where Bayard plans to head on his journey-through-life-based theme of exploration. Writing on a range of topics—from rabbit holes, flying metal boxes, deceased loved ones, and churches to the Moon, squirrels, and even sex and underwear, Bayard punctuates his witty haiku with poems shaped in a combination of freeform and couplets. Two ballads turned to songs (musical notation included) titled “Sailor” and “Sea Shanty” open and close his beloved tome divided into three headings: “Looking Glass,” “Double Lens,” and “Mirror.”
The carefully-considered captions progress from—how this reviewer perceives it as—awakening and obscurity to maturity, respectively. His work, enhanced with his black-and-white drawings and photography, slowly but deftly builds up to sort of a musical crescendo, announcing a dual-encouragement to readers to write poetry and to be themselves. A great example of this is in “The Trees.” Here is an excerpt:
“The trees they are my champions.
They raise their arms to take me in.
They see my cloud of doing,
Cloud of worry, and they wisely speak out
Shed our skin.
Come into being, world of grace, and raise your arms to
There is no other place to be than now and her.
You knew but have forgotten,
those times when you have anxiously been holding.”
Quill says: A quick, delightful read, Haiku, Schmaiku For Headin’ Out to Sea is exhilaratingly thought-provoking and encouraging.
For more information on Haiku, Schmaiku For Headin’ Out to Sea: Poetry as Looking Glass, Poetry as Mirror, please visit the website: