Friday, October 30, 2020

#AuthorInterview - with Stephen Patrick and David Rike

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Skyler Boudreau is talking with Stephen Patrick and David Rike, authors of The Holocaust Engine: A Post-Apocalyptic Pandemic Thriller.

FQ: Is there a story behind the title? How did you come up with it?

PATRICK AND RIKE: The title refers to the underlying theme of the book, which is how our worldview can impact the roles we take in our lives. Many facets of modern life, the “engine,” encourage us to view ourselves as the main character in our life’s story, relegating everyone else to a minor role. A perversion of the fictional “Hero’s Journey,” it can turn daily life into a need to fight “villains,” slay “monsters,” and relegates others into two-dimensional roles as supporting characters. This also creates a high bar where we often fail, and failure can result in conflict, depression, and for some, an identity crisis (“if I’m not the hero, who am I?”). It can even inspire troubled individuals to aspire to being a self-sacrificial martyr or even become the villain, forcing others to take on the role of hero.

The engine can be seen in everyday life, as we feel called to take on the role, authority, and responsibility of being the hero in our lives, responsible to save the world and reap the rewards we deserve. When we fall short, it can tear apart relationships as we fail to save others or as they fail to play their role in our story. It can destroy families and communities and can be seen in many aspects of our modern social systems. When we no longer connect as a community, but as individuals pursuing our personal climatic triumphs, it can lead to devastation and destruction. Describing this machine of devastation led to the name The Holocaust Engine.

Overall, the story is focused on a health crisis that spirals out of control because, at the beginning, everyone involved sees the disaster through the lens of their own personal narratives, and so they can’t respond effectively. Their ability to combat the machinations of their narratives will be essential to their survival, and it can serve as a metaphor for how we can survive the modern world.

FQ: How did the two of you begin working together?

Author David Rike
Author Stephen Patrick

PATRICK AND RIKE: We work together and realized years ago that both of us were writers. This led to reading and editing each other’s material, and when David had the initial idea for The Holocaust Engine, we decided to co-author the series. David wanted the story to track a societal collapse as it occurred. However, since most post-apocalyptic fiction begins well after the collapse has taken place, there was a challenge to accurately model a community losing its essential services because of a quarantine. Stephen has a background in disaster planning and response, and I (David) never could have written a realistic stages-of-apocalypse story without his help. Strangely, this series began four years ago, before many of us were living inside of a quarantine.

FQ: What are some of the challengers of working as a team of authors, rather than working individually? What are some of the benefits?

PATRICK AND RIKE: In our case, the collaboration is a kind of ‘odd couple’ writing team. Stephen is a stream of consciousness writer who likes to write in short bursts of creative energy, whereas David doesn’t usually put words on page until he’s outlined the section, sometimes down to individual paragraphs. The benefit is the ability to harness the best of both, explosive creativity wrapped up in a narrative that draws the reader into a satisfying story arc carefully outlined to achieve the specific goal of each arc and beat.

It serves us well in multiple POV pieces, such as books 1 and 2, where we assign sections according to our style or focus, edit each other’s work, and draw out what we like of each other’s style and voice. The pitfall is something we’re dealing with now as we write book three: merging two very different writing styles into one single voice. We got a taste of it in book two as four POV’s shrank down to two, but the real test comes with book three, which has a single third-person POV. Our plan there is to each take on a bit of the other’s style. So, Stephen is doing more of the overall outlining, and David is trying to write in quick bursts, something he's never done before.

FQ: Why did you choose to set your novel in Key West?

PATRICK AND RIKE: The story centers on an isolated community during a worldwide epidemic. Thus, we needed the setting to take place somewhere geographically isolated. Key West is at the bottom of a tiny island chain, over a hundred miles south of mainland Florida. Those islands are connected by a single two-lane highway bridged between each island. Knock out any one of those bridges and Key West is cut off.

For Stephen, it presents a unique location for a disaster. Unlike pandemics or traditional global apocalyptic disaster settings, where everyone fights for survival, an isolated Key West can be completely cut off from the world yet kept alive and supported by the outside world. This change to the traditional resource management crisis creates an intriguing backdrop for a thriller. With the US government functioning as a “Door Dash” for an island in quarantine, the entire island begins to look familiar to many of us who have recently been isolated in their own homes. At least...until the survivors realize that being stuck on the island is a bit less paradise than they expected. And Key West is just one of the most amazing and unusual places on the planet.

FQ: How have your experiences throughout your lives influenced this novel? If they haven’t, where do you draw your inspiration from?

PATRICK AND RIKE: In places, the novel is drawn directly from our own experiences, sometimes representing the “worst case” scenarios we’ve tried to anticipate and avoid. Stephen wrote the character of Perry Nelson, a police captain in charge of the quarantine zone’s disaster response, from his experiences in disaster response. While not biographical, the challenges do pull from the things that keep him up at night. David’s a detective lieutenant and was the supervisor in charge the night that a tornado devastated our city. We sprinkled the narrative throughout with actual events.

One of the more unusual characters, Max-a-Millions, was inspired by a seat-mate on a flight from Orlando to Dallas. Stephen was trapped beside a fast-talking, hyper-embellished, uber-planner salesman for three hours, and knew that he would have a place on the island.

FQ: What’s the story behind Bontrager’s disease? Is it based on any existing diseases? If not, how did you come up with the symptoms and the progression of the disease?

PATRICK AND RIKE: In the book, Bontrager’s is a lethal form of encephalitis, a brain virus. In reality, we didn’t base it on a specific disease. Acute encephalitis can induce paranoia, confusion, and even violence. We pulled it more from synthetic cannabinoids such as K-2, which can cause similar symptoms, including increased heart rate and respiration, and psychological responses such as confusion, paranoia, and violence. In some people, the heart over-stresses itself and they die. This physical manifestation is something we have both seen first-hand, and it is a terrifying and deadly exhibition of the human body set to a maximum (and fatal) output.

FQ: What does your writing process look like? Do you use outlines? How does your process differ when you write alone?

PATRICK AND RIKE: The dilemma of being writers while working full-time means that Stephen is having trouble writing about a pandemic while he’s busy actually fighting one. When we can meet, we start with a creativity drill -- something like, “Give me the most burned out remake of 2019 and tell me how you’d fix it.” It gets the storytelling juices flowing and takes our mind off the challenges of the current year. After that, we get to The Holocaust Engine and each of us usually has questions for the other, like, “Okay, what condition would the hospital be in at the end of chapter eight?” Then we go over what each of us is currently working on. The last task is a kind of a’ la carte doling out of assignments: “I’ve got time this week to work on chapter ten. You want to take a crack of the food drop scene?”

FQ: What are some of the challenges that come with writing this genre? What are some of the things you enjoy about writing this genre?

PATRICK AND RIKE: Since The Holocaust Engine is a story...about how people now tend to think of their lives as a story, it gets a bit ‘meta’ with the concept of genre. We wanted to write something that all readers could enjoy, so the entire series is plotted onto a familiar good-versus-evil action storyline. For those seeking escapist entertainment, they'll get a knockdown, drag-out, fire-every-bullet-in-the-gun, then-finish-the-fight-with-knives-clubs-hands-anything action tale. We hope some readers will dive into the overriding themes, and find that each book in the series is written in a different genre than the others, and each POV character is written with a different narrative voice, common to different types of genres. The trick with that was getting the various voices to form something additive, and to try and keep the transitions from being overly jarring. While some readers may find that challenging, our hope is to provide a satisfying experience for different types of readers, and for some, a few different layers to explore within the story.

FQ: What are some of the other genres the two of you are interested in collaborating in?

PATRICK AND RIKE: The beauty of a writing partnership is that you have built-in challenges and there is not really a safe “comfort zone.” Our creativity drills have uncovered a few genres and areas that we would never have explored individually, but that we want to try as a collaboration. We’ve got notebooks full of ideas that we’re hoping to mine that could take us to the stars, into the past, to contemporary times, and a few that are a bit harder to explain. Genre-wise, we're hoping to bring readers from The Holocaust Engine with us to our next adventure, but we can promise it will be something different.

FQ: What advice do you have for writers looking to collaborate on a project for the first time? Are there any techniques they should explore or pitfalls they should avoid?

PATRICK AND RIKE: I (David) enjoy rock ’n roll documentaries and discovered a painfully obvious truth while watching them. The successful bands have an overriding mission: “At the end of the day, it’s all about the music.” Even when they disagree, everyone tends to be very supportive and appreciative of the other band members’ contributions. I imagine it’s like that in any collaborative project. Decide at the beginning what you want to create. Don’t make it all about yourself and you’ll get the most out of the collaboration. Not coincidentally, that’s one key way to slow down The Holocaust Engine. Don’t try to be bigger than the art. Let the art be the thing, and let it transcend what you could ever do on your own. On the other hand, if you have a band where the various members are in it for themselves, you’ll get chaos -- not a road you want to travel. Unless we’re still talking about rockumentaries, and then, I’ll just be honest, those are the really fun ones to watch.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

#BookReview - A Lion in the Grass

A Lion in the Grass

By: Mark Zvonkovic
Publisher: Dos Perro Press
Publication Date: August 2020
ISBN: 978-1735275109
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Date: October 28, 2020

Author Mark Zvonkovic undertakes a different perspective on the classic espionage novel in his latest book, A Lion in the Grass.

Spanning over an impressive six decades, readers follow the life of Raymond Hatcher beginning in 1942 at the tender age of seventeen. Eager to enlist in the army, but because of his remarkable intelligence, extensive knowledge of European geography, and his fluency in numerous foreign languages, he is encouraged by his father’s friend to expand his horizons by joining the navy and the Office of Strategic Services. There he begins intense training and progresses through its ranks into becoming one of their best agents. At first his assignments include the countries of Vietnam, Indochina and Yugoslavia during World War II, but throughout the story Raymond’s contacts and experiences spread worldwide, oftentimes aligning themselves with major events in history. As the years move forward, Raymond’s knowledge and expertise increase exponentially and he hooks up with and shares some of his experience in the field with Lieutenant Commander Bradley Wright. Over the years both their careers and personal lives flourish as they are married and have their own families, experience tragedies and triumphs, and are assigned different missions. For both of them, their careers are more than just a means of employment. For Raymond, it grows into a lifetime of obsession that flows through his blood, and lasts far past his retirement.

An interesting twist of this novel is that not only does it incorporate the many decades of Hatcher’s life and fellow comrade in arms, Lieutenant Commander Wright, but it also occasionally switches perspective towards another young man living in France at about the same time. Georges Piquart came from a wealthy family and had a career in the secret intelligence in France. Years progressed with marriage and family for him as well, but unfortunately tragedy struck, and he was informed that his childhood friend was killed in battle. In order for Georges to fully understand that his friend was no longer around, and make sense of what happened, he fabricated an elaborate story blaming the Americans and their military for conspiring to kill his friend. As time went by, he would come to terms with the reality, but his anger would ebb and flow, and hatred for the Americans would remain a constant throughout his life.

The Lion in the Grass is not a light, quick read; it spans nearly an entire lifetime of the main character, and the lives of those who he encountered throughout his career. Overall the story was well-written and the plot engaging; readers will be eager to discover what will happen next. It is clear that the author did an extensive amount of research in order to place his characters in such accurate and detailed settings in history, beginning around World War II, and ending in the present day. He also does a good job at depicting the highs and lows of the life of an undercover operative which includes both the usual daily interactions with family and friends, as well as exciting events filled with heart-racing action. While this novel is for the most part a good read, sometimes the story becomes a bit bogged down with detail and switches through events a little too frequently, at those times it becomes a bit of a slow read. However, it is recommended to stick through this read and you will be rewarded with a dramatic cliffhanger ending that will definitely make a great beginning for an excellent sequel.

Quill says: If you’re in search of an extensive tale of espionage that is more than a simple spy vs spy novel, be sure to pick up A Lion in the Grass.

For more information on A Lion in the Grass, please visit the author's website at:


#BookReview - Rock and Roll Murders

Rock and Roll Murders: An Entrepreneur Finds That Murder is No Business Solution (Based on a True Story)

By: Phillip B. Chute
Publication date: December 2018
ISBN: 978-1732885516
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review date: October 2020

A self-made entrepreneur has it all, gets what he wants, and pays the price when his schemes boomerang in this hard-boiled, atmospheric crime fiction novel by mystery writer Phillip B. Chute.

Chute’s protagonist is a rather unlovable fellow named Raymond McDade who has built up a broadcasting company in Southern California in the 1970s, trading largely on the rapid rise of rock’n’roll. He has a fancy mansion and the money’s coming in, but he needs help – female help. A chance meeting with Alice, an orphan scraping by as a nurse’s aide, leads to a skewed romance based on her desperation and his wealth. Through another chance meeting, Alice brings Mitch into the company – a would-be-cowboy on the shady side of the law who knows how to sell, and will increase McDade’s fortunes with his gift of gab. But as the years go by, Alice is less and less content with her marriage; Ray never takes a day off and isn’t the best lover in the world. A brief affair shows her that she doesn’t have to put herself second, and reuniting with Ray, they agree to start a family. But feelings between them don’t change much. When she meets another man, a decent, caring person whom she’s determined to keep, will Ray let her go? Or will his rage win out?

Author Phillip Chute, a businessman with a sharp mind for what can go wrong and why in the murky world of finance, shows the many ways that Ray rewards himself and bilks others on his path to envisioned success. The overall portrait is of a man obsessed by winning by any means, and keeping it all for himself. Alice, Mitch and others are, in his mind, simply his property. Used to eliminating anything that stands in his way, he will try that tactic when things go wrong in his marriage. Chute states that this highly engaging, action-filled plot is based on true but heretofore unpublicized events. References to contemporaneous popular songs spice the plot. Initial concentration on the cynical bad guys is balanced by the introduction later in the narrative of the alert, right-minded Detective Nelson.

Quill says: Chute’s latest offering - smart, scary, full of grit and grift, building suspense page by page - places this author on the high shelf with Hammett, Chandler, Grafton and Parker.

For more information on Rock and Roll Murders: An Entrepreneur Finds That Murder is No Business Solution (Based on a True Story), please visit the author's website at:


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

#BookReview - The Holocaust Engine

The Holocaust Engine: A Post-Apocalyptic Pandemic Thriller

By: Stephen Patrick and David Rike
Publisher: Evolved Publishing
Publication date: September 2020
ISBN: 978-1-62253-560-6
Reviewed by Skyler Boudreau
Review date: October 25, 2020

The Holocaust Engine is the first novel in a trilogy by Stephen Patrick and David Rike. Set in the Florida Keys, this novel portrays the collapse of civilized society as a new disease begins to tear through the community.

A key aspect to this story is Bontrager’s disease, a mysterious illness that tears through the island. Very little is revealed about the disease itself, beyond its terrifying symptoms that play a huge role in the plot. Chief among the symptoms is an irrational rage that causes its victims to become extremely violent. They behave almost zombie-like. As the story progresses, a new strain of Bontrager’s emerges. The twist of the new strain adds tension to the plot as the audience scrambles to rethink everything they thought they knew about the disease.

The greatest strength of this novel is in its action sequences. Patrick and Rike craft hard-hitting battle scenes that will keep their audience filled with nail-biting suspicion. They are the heart of the entire story. The authors masterfully shift between a plethora of narrators, allowing readers to experience these gritty scenes from various points of view.

The weakness of the story is with one of the main characters, Reagan, who has been preparing for the end of the world for many years. Once it’s revealed just how dangerous Bontrager’s and its victims are, he knows exactly what to do to keep himself alive. Nothing is ever a challenge for him. While many of the other characters are faced with tough decisions and obstacles, Reagan never faces anything he can’t immediately overcome. There isn’t much at stake when reading from his point of view, because it’s established very early on that nothing can kill him. His passages as narrator are often boring and it's hard to like him at times. In a dangerous survival situation, being likable certainly isn’t a requirement, however, the main character of a novel should be someone who the readers care about. 

Likewise, Reagan does nothing to endear himself to the reader and is often very rude and disrespectful to other characters. For example, there’s a scene where Reagan and a group of other survivors are searching for leftover materials in a chemistry classroom and a female character brings up his behavior towards another woman they left behind at their base. He responds with this passage: “You guys think this is what it sounded like backstage at a Beatles concert the last couple of years? Bunch of dudes wanting to get the job done and get back to the hotel room, maybe smoke some hooch, but Yoko just keeps running her head and the guys are looking around at each other like, when is somebody gonna take that bongo out of her mitts and hit her upside the head with it?” (pg. 121) It’s meant to be taken as a funny comment, and he makes similar ones throughout the rest of the novel. Whenever a woman takes on a leadership role or is actively trying to help the group of survivors, he belittles them. Often, the characters he mocks are far more likeable to the audience than he is.

The Holocaust Engine is a dynamic and action-packed thriller that will engage the reader with its concept and action sequences. The story is timely, given our current state, and will have readers wondering about their futures. If you can get past the unlikable character of Reagan, then you'll be rewarded with a good post-apocalyptic pandemic thriller.

Quill says: If the reader can get past the sexism, The Holocaust Engine itself is very engaging and keeps its audience on the edge of their seats.

For more information on The Holocaust Engine: A Post-Apocalyptic Pandemic Thriller,please visit the publisher's website at:


Saturday, October 24, 2020

#BookReview - Somebody Else's Troubles

Somebody Else's Troubles

By: J.A. English
Publisher: Zimbell House Publishing
Publication Date: April 2020
ISBN: 978-1-64390-114-5
Reviewed by Diane Lunsford
Date: October 25, 2020

J.A. English delivers a complex story that spotlights the art of reinvention in his debut novel, Somebody Else’s Troubles.

Travers Landeman is thirty-eight years old and has nothing left to keep him tied to his less than stellar life in Ohio. When he decides it’s time to abandon his present life for a newer one, the only matter he didn’t consider is the fact he would become a fugitive. In order to understand how Travers became the proverbial guy who went to the store for a gallon of milk never to be seen again is a bit more complex. He sets his plan in motion and flees to the small Caribbean Island of Mabuhay. Imagine his glee when he meets the likes of Marguerite. She’s somewhat of a patriarch on the island of Mubahay, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The final straw that affirms Traver’s plan to escape his present life is the sudden and shocking death of his teenage nephew, Matthew. It would seem Matthew had been abused by his parish priest for many years and when the situation was too much for Matthew to handle, Uncle Travers isn’t available for his nephew’s final (and urgent) plea for help. 

The years pass and Travers is quite settled into his island lifestyle; he gets comfy with a new family. Imagine his surprise when Private Investigator Albert McNab who represents the Atlantis Fidelity Insurance Company plans to bring Travers back to Ohio. There are more than a few loose ends Travers failed to tie up and it’s time for him to atone for the sins from his past.

There are endless moments of shenanigans and characters to comprehend in J. A. English’s debut novel. While this read does not disappoint thanks to a fast-paced storyline and an abundance of adventure, there are times when the complexities of the scenes were too convoluted. Mr. English’s style was to teeter between past and present before weaving the next element into the story. This was tedious, at times, and difficult to connect the dots and continue forward with the plot. I will give Mr. English props for his writing ability; in that his characters are colorful, and the dialogue is interesting. However, the jump between past and present was fragmented, and it was often a struggle to reconnect with the story without having to backtrack and refresh first before moving forward. I’ll end with a word of caution to his audience; this book requires a fair amount of concentration in order to maintain a connection with the plot.

Quill says: Somebody Else’s Troubles sets the notion in motion that one can plan to disappear, but the past inevitably will catch up.


Friday, October 23, 2020

#AuthorInterview with Marc Liebman

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Marc Liebman, author of Raider of The Scottish Coast.

FQ: Your military background is a long and diverse one, to say the least. With more than twenty years in the Navy, what were the perks (such as, the knowledge gained throughout your life) that came in handy when putting this book together?

LIEBMAN: When I was promoted from commander (lieutenant colonel in the other services except the Coast Guard) to captain (full colonel in Army, Air Force and Marine Corps), there was a step change in the how I was treated and what was expected of me. The difference was much greater than when I was promoted from lieutenant commander (major in our sister services) to commander. At the time I was selected for captain, the total strength – active and reserve – of the Navy was ~600,000 men and women. Of those, there were only 800 captains in the active and reserve Navy. That’s not even a tenth of one percent! I felt as if suddenly, I was expected to know something! Also, well before the PC world of today, as a captain, I had to be much more careful about what I said in public.

Then there was the added responsibilities. For example, as a captain, one of the more interesting projects that landed in my lap was reviewing and updating the war plans for the Commander, Seventh Fleet. Each potential enemy – the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) - had its own war plan with several plausible scenarios. The work took almost a year, the team I led had to (a) evaluate information from U.S. and Allied intelligence agencies; (b) understand the foreign policy goals set forth by the National Command Authority, i.e. the president of the U.S; (c) test the plans in war games based on the capabilities of the Marine units, ships and planes Seventh Fleet would likely have under its command; and (d) consider the limitations of logistics and supply. This was a PhD course in collecting, analyzing and synthesizing data to create viable operational strategies and tactics for each scenario. These plans had to be coordinated with our sister services as well as shared and integrated within given guidelines with our allies in the Seventh Fleet operating area. As part of this evolution, I found myself briefing general and flag officers and fielding their tough questions.

What this experience gave me was a deep understanding of our potential enemies as well as the potential situations which would cause the U.S. to be embroiled in a major conflict. Now I had insight into how our intelligence community really operates and the info they provided along with detailed knowledge of our military capabilities in areas in which I had no prior experience. So, coupled with my love of history, this background helped me include realistic geo-politics in every book of the Josh Haman series.

FQ: Your books have touched upon a variety of different wars and countries. Do you have a personal interest in one war in particular? If so, why is that? 

LIEBMAN: I do and I don’t. I don’t believe wars happen by accident. There is always a chain of events that leads to a war. If you look at history, most have underlying issues which usually economic (colonies/territory/natural resources) or religion or both.

The American Revolution is an exception because one can make a very strong argument that the war was about personal freedom to choose ones destiny versus being dictated to by a king or queen. However, right behind the desire for individual and national freedom came the desire to get out from under the yoke of intrusive taxes, rules and regulations. 

While writing Raider of the Scottish Coast, the time I spent researching the years before, during and after the American Revolution caused me to realize how much of our country’s DNA stems from that period. I have a whole new respect for our Founding Fathers and what they accomplished. When the American Revolution began, the Thirteen Colonies went to war against the wealthiest, most powerful country in the world that had the best Navy and one of the best armies. In 1775, when the shots were fired at Lexington and Concord, the thirteen Colonies had no navy or army. Our Founding Fathers and those they led persevered for eight long years. The war left the colonies economically devastated. Four years after the war, they wrote one of the most phenomenal documents in the history of the world, the U.S. Constitution. At the time, all the “talking heads” thought our democracy wouldn’t last 10 years because the “common” people couldn’t govern themselves without a king or queen.

This is a long way to get to the answer to your question. I think the period of 1775 to 1815 which encompasses four wars – the American Revolution, the Quasi War, the War Against the Barbary Pirates and the War of 1812 – is my favorite. Number two would be the Spanish American War because in the span of a few short years, the U.S. becomes a world power.

FQ: What made you decide to become a full-time writer? Is there one specific genre and or subject you have not yet written about that you wish to pursue in the future?

LIEBMAN: I’ve always wanted to be novelist, but didn’t know how. So, in the late 80s, I tried and failed miserably. Attempt number two ended in frustration in the 90s. In 2008, I tried a third time and in 2012 Big Mother 40 was published. 

There is good news from by early flailing and failing. My first attempt back in the 80s had the working title of Moscow Airlift. My second attempt in the 1990s was titled The Kuril Wedge Incident. At the time Big Mother 40 was published, I’d committed to a series of books so I listed those as the last books in the series as an afterthought. A revamped Moscow Airlift was published in 2018 and The Kurile Wedge Incident has been renamed and re-written and will be published as The Simushir Island Incident in November 2020. 

As far as genre goes, I will continue to write fiction. Most will have military, terrorism, spy type plots or like Raider of the Scottish Coast will be in the Age of Sail genre However, I have several books in my planned list of books to write that are different.

There is a non-fiction book called Gold & Silver Wings – Tales from Three Generations of Military Aviators coming probably in a few years. This is a “memiography” in that the contents are anecdotes from my father’s, my son’s, and my military flying careers. Some of the stories will make you laugh, some will bring a tear to your eyes and some, after you’ve read them, will cause you to ask, “what were they thinking?”

There are also two novels that are not military related. One is a novel about consulting which has the working title of Outsourced and the other is a story about ski racing called Hannenkam.

For more info on the books I have in development, check out this link to a page on my web site -

FQ: Given the state of the world as it exists today, do you have any personal worries that we are headed down the road to another war?

LIEBMAN: I do and I don’t. The People’s Republic of China is a long term competitor that wants to extend its influence globally. However, neither countries want a shooting war to erupt. What I see is economic warfare, not in terms of tariffs, but escalating in other ways. The PRC’s leaders know that if the U.S. significantly reduces the purchase of goods made in the PRC, their economy collapses. We’ve been fighting them over their theft of intellectual property from businesses and governments all over the world. They continue to refuse to honor patents and copyrights. However, based on PRC’s deception and carelessness with Covid-19, they may have set in motion events from all over the world that may adversely affect their economy. Only time will tell.

Which brings me to the two countries that I see as the most likely embroil the U.S. in a shooting war. One is North Korea, a country I can spend hours talking about. It is a dismal place to live. Economically, it is a basket case. However, we, as does the United Nations (many people forget this little fact), have a treaty which obligates us to defend South Korea if attacked by North Korea.

North Korea wants to unify the peninsula under its repressive communist regime. South Korea wants a commercial relationship in which South Korean goods flow north and people can travel freely across the DMZ. If this leads to unification under a democratic government so, be it. The South Koreans know they cannot afford to fix the economic and environmental disaster that is North Korea.

North Korea is the only communist country in which power has been passed from the father (Kim il-Sung) to the son (Kim Jong-il) to the grandson, Kim Jong-un. Everything, and I mean everything that Kim Jong-un does on a daily basis is geared to regime survival which is defined as his survival. A war could happen if Kim Jong-un, or possibly his successor, needs to placate hardliners to stay in power. More than likely, it will start with a raid or an outright attack on South Korea that kills U.S. servicemen/servicewomen. 

Since 1960, North Korea has launched attacks well over 100 times. These range from “small” shooting incidents, commando raids and torpedoing a South Korean Navy corvette. 

Another provocation could lead to miscalculation on North Korea’s part. Kim Jong-un’s threats to use nuclear and chemical weapons are just that, threats. He knows that if he starts a war, neither he nor his regime will survive. How much help he would get from the PRC or Russia is an unknown. While the PRC does not want another democracy on its border, the country sees North Korea’s antics as a way of distracting the U.S.. Intervening as it did in the Korean War may not be in the cards because it would lead to sanctions, loss of the U.S. market, seizure of investments wealthy Chinese have made in the U.S. and more. However, a power struggle within the factions in the North Korean government could lead to a civil war in which the South Koreans may decide to get involved.

Which brings to the greatest threat to the United States in terms of a “shooting” war and that is the Islamic Republic of Iran. This country is, by far and away, the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Tens of thousands of Iranian soldiers are deployed in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Venezuela, Sudan, and other places around the world. Iran wants to be the dominant power in the Arabian Gulf. The country is ruled by religious fanatics who are committed to destroying Israel and attacking the U.S. who they call the Great Satan.

A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to every nation within a 1,500 mile radius of Tehran. The nations along the southern coast of the Arabian Gulf see the danger which is what drove the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to sign peace treaties and normalize relations with Israel. More treaties with the remaining Gulf Cooperation States (Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait) will come. 

Israel and the Trump administration has been very clear that they will not tolerate a nuclear armed Iran. The current sanctions have crippled the Iranian economy. The PRC buys almost all its oil from Iran has largely ignored the sanctions and is one of Iran’s largest trading partner. As customers of Iranian oil find other long term, reliable sources, the stress on the Iranian economy will increase.

The Iranian military continues to provoke, taunt, and often attack the U.S. as well as other nations in and outside the region. The recent blatant attempt to interfere in the 2020 U.S. national election as an attempt to ensure Trump is not re-elected is just another one in a series of provocations. Iranian leaders fear Trump will continue to increase the economic pressure on Iran to end its nuclear program and stop its support or terrorism. The question is what will Iranian leaders do if they start to lose their grip on the population?

FQ: If you were given a choice to sit down at lunch with a past leader, writer, politician, etc. – who would it be and what question would you most want to ask?

LIEBMAN: That’s an easy one. Teddy Roosevelt. Few men in their lives have had as great an impact on U.S. (and the world) as he did. Think about this, he oversaw the rebirth of the U.S. Navy which at the time, helped establish the U.S. as a global power. As a young man, he wrote what is still probably the best analysis of the naval part of the War of 1812. Roosevelt pushed for the Panama Canal. He won a Nobel Peace prize for negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War. TR established our national park system and was a strong, vocal early supporter of woman’s suffrage. While president, he pushed for an amendment to the Constitution. I could keep going on and on about Theodore Roosevelt.

What would I ask him? The mind boggles to think of just one question. But I would start with why he became embroiled in the Russo-Japanese War? My next question was why was he confident that U.S. military doctors under the leadership of Dr. Walter Reed could eliminate the threat of yellow fever to the workers of the Panama Canal?

FQ: I had read in your bio that you and your lovely wife like to travel in an RV; is there a specific location that you love; and, perhaps one you are hoping to visit one day soon?

LIEBMAN: Yes. Pensacola Beach. The sand is the color and texture of confectioner’s sugar. There’s an RV park right on the beach on the Naval Air Station!

Both of us would like to drive the Alcan Highway. We have talked to many who have and say that the trip is worth it, but is very, very hard on your RV.

For the record, we just sold the RV. 

FQ: What title is up next that readers would absolutely love to know about?

LIEBMAN: Chronologically, the next book to be released is The Simushir Island Incident which is the last book in the Josh Haman series. This novel comes out in November 2020. The bad guys are North Korean and if you want to read more before the book is published, go to - FYI, I am already getting requests for other Josh Haman to fill in the gaps. 

Next to come out is Flight of the Pawnee which will be released on January 12th, 2021. This novel is the first in a new, what I hope to be a four book series based on a character named Derek Almer. The story takes place in Texas in 2016. For more on the book, check out this page on my web site -

#BookReview - Mommy, Daddy Please Teach Me!

Mommy, Daddy Please Teach Me!

By: Michael A. Brown
Illustrated by: Zoe Ranucci
Publisher: MABMA Enterprises, LLC
Publication Date: September 2020
ISBN: 978-1735202464
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: October 23, 2020

Author Michael A. Brown has been quite busy putting together a series of wonderful books to inspire, and help, both children and parents as they navigate the ups and downs of life. The latest offering in his series, Mommy, Daddy Please Teach Me!continues the series with a helpful book to guide parents on what to teach, and show children the wonderful opportunities that await them.

The story begins with a very young child who is being adored and cared for by her loving parents:

You gave me life. Now I am here
For who knows how many years.
You give me love by what you do.
Protect, clean, and feed me, too.

We see the little girl learn to crawl and then walk, with her parents close by to cheer her on. By the fourth page of the story, the child is a bit older and eager to learn:

More alert, I look to thee.
Mommy, Daddy, please teach me!

And this – please teach me – is the focus of this delightful book.

As the story moves along, we meet numerous families, each with one or two children. On each page we see parents helping their children do various things, from getting dressed in the morning to selecting the proper shoes. These things might seem mundane but yet, they are so important. Grocery shopping, going to work, or going for a run – these are all things we do every day. Parents might think that these common activities provide little or no opportunities for teaching, but the author points out many examples of what can be taught. Are you cooking dinner? Teach your child how to cook. At the grocery store, there are so many things you can teach your child, such as what food items to choose to live a healthy life. And don’t forget to point out what things cost! What items are a good value, or perhaps cost too much. And when you pay for that food, teach your child about money:

Dollars, pennies,
Nickels, and dimes.
Teach me money!
We’ve got the time.

Mommy, Daddy Please Teach Me! is the fourth book in author Michael A. Brown’s “What I Tell Myself” series. These books aim to teach children positive self-actualization by showing examples of real-life situations, and showing children how to handle each situation. In this book, the author shows both parents and children how important it is to use everyday situations and use each to advance the education of the child. While the book is a children’s book, it is also useful for parents who may be struggling with their parental responsibilities. The author drives home the point to teach your child now so that they will be equipped to handle what the future throws at them. 

This is the second book in this series that I’ve read/reviewed and I enjoyed both very much. The positive message within its pages is one that parents can, and should, share with their children. Too often parents miss opportunities to advance their children’s education and this author shows them exactly how to take advantage of everyday activities to help their children become successful and happy members of society. 

Quill says: Mommy, Daddy Please Teach Me! is an excellent addition to the “What I Tell Myself” series. Both parents and children will benefit from the words of wisdom within its pages.

For more information on Mommy, Daddy Please Teach Me!, please visit the website:


#BookReview - Revelations From the Dead

Revelations From the Dead: Chronicles of the Night Waster

By: Max Willi Fischer
Publication Date: September 2020
ISBN: 979-8684213694
Reviewed by: Risah Salazar
Review Date: October 22, 2020

It is the year 1837 and our protagonist is Thomas Sullivan, a young man living in Connecticut. Thomas works for the Shaffers, particularly Peter Shaffer, the cabinetmaker, as an apprentice. He actually does not want to work with wood, but his father thinks this will be best for him. What Thomas really wants is to further embrace what his late mother loved and taught him - to read and learn new things. Despite being a commoner, he wishes to explore the world and make it a better place through the beautiful words printed on the pages of a book.

The life of an apprentice in Connecticut is uneventful for Thomas, but at least his master and the master's family treat him well. Jacob, one of the master's sons, is even one of his closest friends. This monotonous daily life changes when Otto Frohm enters Peter Shaffer's shop. The huge German scares the heck out of Thomas and Jacob, who were not expecting such a large and muscular man to enter the shop. But when Otto explains that he is Karl's brother, and Jacob knows that Karl is a good friend of his father, all is well. That's when Otto explains he is there looking for Peter to ask him a favor.

Looking back, what made everything scarier at the moment Otto entered the shop was the story Jacob was reading out-loud to Thomas - a story about a "Night Waster." The Night Waster is a creature who is believed to be dead but eats away his body while inside its coffin. And when nothing is left, it crawls to the bodies of its family members to continue its gruesome activity. The story of the Night Waster combined with people's fears of consumption, a chronic lung disease at that time, and Thomas' sighting of the "Flame Orb," now make his life a little more exciting. Maybe even haunting. Things are definitely about to get very interesting, and intense.

Max Willi Fischer's Revelations From the Dead: Chronicles of the Night Waster is an historical suspense novel that also tackles a wide range of social issues. The premise is a bit common for the suspense genre, but the story's development shows its spooky and unique side. Equipped with the element of surprise, there are a lot of hair-raising and heart-pumping scenes in every chapter. Careful world-building and evocative imagery will take the readers on an emotional rollercoaster ride. The book may appear to be shallow at first but don't let this stop you from digging in. This one is unexpectedly engaging and deep. The narration uses foreign terms and sometimes even jargon and colloquialisms, but everything is explained in the footnotes.

There are, however, a few things that keep this story from being a 5-star read. The pacing tends to slow in places, particularly in the second half. It is also noticeable how some transitioning among the dialogue and change in scenes are not as seamless as they should be. There are times when there is no indication of a break when clearly there should be, and that leads to a confusing reading experience. There are also numerous typos that hamper reading enjoyment. With a re-work from an editor, these issues could easily be erased and the top-notch story that is Revelations From the Dead,would shine through.

Quill says: While there are some shortcomings, Revelations From the Dead: Chronicles of the Night Waster remains a gripping read.

For more information on Revelations From the Dead: Chronicles of the Night Waster,please visit the author's website at:


#BookReview - Breaking Open

Breaking Open: Free Love and Family Secrets from the Notebook of a Misfit Wife

By: Melinda Banks
Publisher: Melinda Banks
Publication Date: September 2020
ISBN: 978-1087899303
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: October 22, 2020

One woman “with a minivan” candidly shares how love heads in an erotic direction to save her marriage in Breaking Open: Free Love & Family Secrets from the Notebook of a Misfit Wife.

Melinda Banks’ early-married, late-90s lifestyle to Pierce would be considered normal; normal, defined as the husband works outside of the home and stay-at-home wife cares for the kids, running interference throughout her husband’s working-hour days. Living this way did not cut it for Melinda since their sex life slowly drifted away from what they once had pre-children. Fifteen years later and now working outside of her home, Melinda has an affair, which eventually gets Pierce and her rethinking their marriage.

After addressing her internal struggles, Melinda suggests counseling for the two of them, and the counselor comes up with a plan. It’s not until they return home that Melinda opens the proverbial can of worms. The expected hurt, mistrust—the whole nine yards—unfolds.

It’s amid hard conversations that Melinda raises the idea of open marriage—not a far-fetched concept, considering that Pierce and she had a taste of polyamory on their honeymoon. Unsurprisingly, the notion strikes a chord, and they propose their idea to the counselor, who is utterly unprepared for their turnaround response. What follows is a one-year exploration with lovers—even in a minivan.

Melinda Banks pens a fascinating read into the world of polyamory. One would think her narrative is filled with page-after-page of erotica, but it’s not. There is no doubt that sections are replete with those salacious tidbits; however, Banks takes a step further by providing her audience with a whole lot more relatable material than the fixations of a hormonally-driven housewife.

Far too often, the strain of raising a family goes in direct opposition to maintaining a healthy sex life, and all too often, partners find themselves left frustrated. Married “been there, did that” women (especially Christians) reading Breaking Open would be in denial if they refuse to acknowledge the trials and tribulations that come with being married with children. Banks does not mince words as she draws attention to emotional details of her journey, which speaks loudly to the dilemma many marriages have had and continue to face.

Banks sprinkles her first-person narration with journal entries, essays, and even some free-verse poetry and places them within short flowy chapters, divided into subsections. The balanced combination provides readers with an appealing, quick read.

Quill says: Breaking Open is a well-written read that is heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and sexy all at the same time.


#BookReview - Raider of the Scottish Coast

Raider of The Scottish Coast

By: Marc Liebman
Publisher: Penmore Press
Publication Date: July 2020
ISBN: 978-1-950586-49-3
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: October 21, 2020

The subject of the American Revolution is something I truly love reading about. Perhaps it’s the state of the world in which we live today that makes me want to travel to the past; or perhaps this specific era is one I want to learn more about because it’s rarely focused upon in the fiction world. Yes, even after all this time, WWII is still the most popular. However, when it comes to this tale by the remarkable writer Marc Liebman (who I first became a fan of when I discovered his Josh Haman series), I have to say this is one of the most enthralling war stories I’ve read in a good, long time.

Told from a very personal backstory, it is the year 1775. We meet Darren Smythe, a young man from Gosport, England; and Jaco Jacinto, a young man from Charleston, South Carolina. Their paths cross when Jaco signs up to become a member of America’s Navy. His personal feelings and ideals include the fact that he wants to see his country gain independence; to become a nation that will live as one of the very few free ones in the world.

Darren's goal is to become a member of the British Navy because that has been his dream since he was a young boy. He wants a future career path that will lead him down the road of military service, where he will one day don an officer’s uniform and be up among the elite when all things are said and done. Whether it be for personal gain, a good career or a belief in freedom, both young men want to see the world and work hard, and they do. The only thing they weren’t counting on seeing is each other...constantly.

Almost as if there’s some heavenly power involved, Darren and Jaco end up being in the same place at the same time on a variety of occasions: Whether they are traveling, heading to events, fighting, or working with historical figures who include some of the grandest leaders (and some of the worst) ever known, Darren and Jaco end up building one of those relationships where even though they’re on opposite sides of the fence, they consider the other to be a friend.

Readers will “watch” this relationship thrive while it is tested every inch of the way. From the cold winds of Nova Scotia to the warm waters off the Bahamas, this duo will have to survive each and every win and loss that occurs. Because of their choices and their homelands, they should be mortal enemies; even they realize that there will be a final battle played out at some point and they will have to fight each other in order for their personal needs to be fulfilled—but they continue to feel respect for one another. For those who find themselves locked into this read (which will genuinely be anyone who picks up the book), you will feel that sense of camaraderie and caring as it was with North and South by John Jakes—that these two friends will have a future where they can actually live as ‘brothers’ in a world that has learned to forgive.

The in-depth research behind this tale was highly interesting, and the author was able to take all facts and intertwine them with some of the most creative and engaging characters I’ve seen in this genre. Life on the high seas is both exciting and frightening, and the intelligence factor of this book is sheer perfection.

Quill says: This action-packed plot will have you “setting sail” on Amazon in order to get more of this author’s fantastic books.

For more information on Raider of The Scottish Coast, please visit the author's website at:


#BookReview - Waiting for Normal

Waiting for Normal

By: Zahra Jons
Publisher: Dreampunk Press
Publication Date: April 2020
ISBN: 978-1-938215-39-1
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: October 2020

Ah...high school. To me, The Breakfast Club was the ultimate way to explain this time in our lives; and, to this day, I still believe that each one of us did fall into one of the six “categories” of kids that movie focused upon. It’s a rough time, a trying time, a time to learn and fret and basically just be angry having to wait within those walls for so many years before being able to really experience life.

However...after reading this fantastic book, and that’s not an over-exaggeration, I must say that I understand high school a bit more now. I actually feel a bit guilty for my overabundance of whining during that time period, and I regret some things that I could have enjoyed but chose not to during those four years. Why is that? Because in this book I met a brave, weathered, frightened, strong, amazing girl who had it a heck of lot harder than I did.

This unforgettable plot opens readers up to the world of “Cat.” This is a teen who loathes high school, like the majority of us, but now actually wishes she could go back to hating it simply for the same reason we all did. But Cat can’t do that now. You see, Cat has a very adult problem she has to deal with; high school may have been vile, but being diagnosed with cancer is even worse.

Cat wants to be unique. She had a boyfriend, Jet, who she loved but most likely stayed with him at times because her dad simply didn’t like the guy one bit. She gets the lectures that all kids get from their loving (pain-in-the-butt-they-just-don’t-understand) parents on a weekly basis, as well. But when lymphoma is laid at Cat’s doorstep, those big, annoying things now seem quite small. She must get treatments and sit in the hospital for weeks. She has to step away from the one thing she’s really good at which is rowing for the crew team, and she has to listen to her mother now change their conversations from the horrible clothes she wears to finding a support group that could help Cat through this trying time. In other words, Cat has a whole new normal that she definitely didn’t deserve.

Even though her love stays by her side and tries to help, the pain of it all is something that is quite easy to see. Like a darkness that comes over you, the regular, everyday bad things in life seem to have no weight anymore. Even the sibling scenes between Cat and her sister are altered, and readers will feel that change and the sorrow that goes along with it. After all, we like being a pain to our siblings, but once illness is involved the relationship takes on a nicer tone, making it even more difficult for Cat to deal with; in a way, she feels like everyone’s demeanor has changed towards her and eyes are looking at her differently, which is the last thing she wants.

The journey Cat continues to take is filled with finding the strength needed to get through school, deal with love and breaking up while figuring out your first real relationship, getting the grades in order to pass, etc. The rules remain the same. But watching someone have to do this while also traversing the problems and absolute fear that comes from cancer, treatments, wondering what the future will bring and even if there is a future awaiting Cat, pulls at a reader’s heartstrings while they become embedded in this teenager’s life.

YA and teen reads, as I have stated before, have become a big market because the stories have been a huge success. This is one that I love because there are no witches and warlocks, magic, or vampires falling in love. This is one that’s all about reality that becomes even more real for a character named Cat who, as she did with me, will engage readers from beginning to end.

Quill says: A great read that is captivating, well-written, and dares to be different — making it a powerful success.

For more information on Waiting for Normal, please visit the publisher's website at: