Tuesday, November 30, 2021

#AuthorInterview with Olivia Godat, author of The Blue Mesa

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Olivia Godat, author of The Blue Mesa.
FQ: Your descriptions of the settings are absolutely vivid; are you originally from New Mexico?
GODAT: No, but I have heard it said that once you visit “The Land of Enchantment,” you will return again and again. That holds true for me as I have visited New Mexico many times.
FQ: How much research did you do regarding the war in the 1600s, and the Indians involved?
GODAT: Quite a bit and enjoyed every minute. Over the years I have visited museums, pueblos, missions, read several different history books, and talked with locals whose ancestors helped settle the southwest. For instance, I talked with a woman who lived at a pueblo. She had only a small amount of Tewa (Pueblo Indian) DNA. She was mostly Spanish, due to the Conquistadors and Americans (who came later) of different nationalities. However, she considered herself a Pueblo Indian.
FQ: Are the characters “loosely based” on anyone, or were the teens a part of the history you uncovered?
GODAT: The main characters are products of my imagination. However, characters he meets on his time travel are based on my grandchildren.
FQ: Your novel “travels” from the 1680s to the present. Did you find writing about two very different times a challenge? The characters’ “lingo,” reactions, etc. are all, to a certain degree, different, depending on what time period they are in. How difficult was it to keep the flow with the changes?
GODAT: I had to pay attention, that’s for sure. Then read and reread again and again to be sure I stayed true to the time-period they represent.
FQ: Is historical fiction your favorite genre to write? Are there others you wish to try out one day?
GODAT: I enjoy history and love reading historical novels. I found the history of the Southwest so fascinating that I had to write several books on the subject, but I have also written a few contemporary novels.
FQ: Mixing historical fiction with time travel is a unique and intriguing twist to the story. What made you go in that direction with the story rather than keep it a “straight” historical fiction novel?
GODAT: Since The Blue Mesa is a YA novel, I thought I should do something so the reader doesn’t read the book as a history lesson. Also, I enjoy certain types of science fiction novels, such as those of Jules Vern and Edgar Rice Burroughs and the more recent, The Time Travelers Wife. Most of the novels I have written have a bit of sci-fi, whether it’s a legend or a ghost or a psychic. But I have never written a straight science fiction novel and I do not ever plan to do so.
FQ: If you had to choose, is there one author/historical figure (alive or dead) who you wish to meet-and-greet? If so, is there a specific question you would like to ask them?
GODAT: Cormac McCarthy, but he is so talented I would probably only stare at him in awe.
FQ: Can you give us a sneak peek at the next project you’re working on?
GODAT: We are in the editing process of an America Historical Romance for publication, Skylark Dancing, which should be ready in a few months. This novel is suited for adult readers. It is the story of Alondra (Spanish for Skylark) who dances in cantinas to earn money. She meets Felipe, son of a wealthy Spanish Don. They fall in love as they race across Texas and New Mexico. But will his aristocratic family accept Alondra as a suitable wife for their only son and heir? You’ll have to stay tuned to find out.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Meet Author Rick Quinn

Meet author Rick Quinn in his new author bio and learn all about his new book, Jazzy and Kettle:

Thursday, November 25, 2021

#BookReview - The Prisoner and The Executioner

The Prisoner and The Executioner

By: Catee Ryan
Published by: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: September 2021
ISBN: 978-1639880713
Reviewed By: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: November 23, 2021

Everyone can agree that being falsely accused is most certainly a terrible position to find oneself in. However, being wrongfully convicted, and sentenced to death for a murder you did not commit is, without a doubt, the most horrendous position to be in. That is exactly what happened to Eliza Jacobs in 

The Prisoner and the Executioner, an electrifying novel written by Catee Ryan.

The story opens on the day of Eliza Jacobs’ execution for the murder of fifteen-year-old Lydia Garth. Ms. Jacobs was once a well-respected midwife and child advocate, but now she has been holed up for several years waiting to be executed, not in a regular death row prison cell, but in an underground cave, designed specifically for use only during the last few weeks of the condemned prisoner’s life. Through the years of solitary confinement and deep soul-searching, Eliza chose a vow of silence, and has more or less accepted her fate.

Brian Stafford, The Executioner, and son of the prison’s warden, is supposed to be getting ready for the execution, but unbeknownst to anyone, he believes in Eliza’s innocence, and refuses to go through with his duties. Instead he spirits her away through the underground cave system, and eventually they successfully escape to a faraway country which Brian believes is the perfect place for both of them to start a new life.

Meanwhile, a massive manhunt is being conducted by the FBI, and news of the unusual escapees quickly spreads across the nation. It attracts the attention particularly of a young girl, Emma Maxwell, who is now living safely across the other side of the country, far away from the same town in the news...the town she too escaped from several years ago. Emma knows who Eliza is, and knows she is innocent and shares this information (and the story of her own sexual abuse) with the FBI. But will this be enough to help prove Eliza’s innocence, and get her to return?

The Prisoner and the Executioner is an excellently written novel that catches a reader’s attention in the first few pages, and continues to adeptly weave a complex, yet compelling, tale (filled with both heartfelt and unbelievably horrifying moments) until the last page. The main characters are dynamic, and seem so real that readers easily become emotionally invested in their journey. Though a part of this story brings the serious topic of sexual abuse to light, it does not bog down and make the overall feel of the story too heavy, but it adds to the overall twists and turns that makes this novel truly unputdownable.

Quill says: The Prisoner and the Executioner is an outstanding novel that will keep readers glued until the final page, while still wanting more. Author Catee Ryan is proving to be a novelist worth keeping an eye on.

For more information on The Prisoner and The Executioner, please visit the publisher's website at: atmospherepress.com/books/the-prisoner-and-the-executioner-by-catee-ryan/

#BookReview - Kita and the Magic Paint

Kita and the Magic Paint

By: Laura Schaumer
Illustrated by: Pardeep Mehra
Publisher: Laura Schaumer Books
Publication Date: November 2020
ISBN: 978-1777453428
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: November 23, 2021

Two friends, a lot of paint, and loads of pretty, little daisies, combine to create a fun new children’s book that teaches children what happens when colors are mixed together.

Kita the raccoon and Bushy the squirrel are good friends who love to play together. Today, they have several cans of paint and lots of white daisies to paint. Kita decides to first paint a daisy blue while Bushy paints one red. But then Kita decides it’d be fun to add red to her daisy while Bushy adds blue to his red daisy. They both expect that the daisies will be half red and half blue. But wow! Surprise! Both daisies turn purple! It must be magic!

The two friends decide that they should try different colors and see what happens. Kita paints a daisy yellow while Bushy paints one blue. The “new” yellow and blue daisies look lovely so they decide to swap paint colors again and see what happens. And wow! Surprise! Both daisies turn green! It must be magic!

Soon, Kita and Bushy are joined by other friends and they all get excited about trying different color combinations. Each time, the result is unexpected. And when Annie the bunny hops her way onto the painted daisies, watch out!

Kita and the Magic Paint is a fun story that uses a delightful assortment of animal friends to teach young readers about the wonders of colors. The concept of mixing two colors to create an all-new color can be confusing for youngsters but debut author Laura Schaumer figured out a unique way to convey the “magic” that happens when you mix colors. To aid in understanding, the black text of the story is changed to another color when a specific color is mentioned (the word “blue” changes to blue text, “red” to red text, etc.). Children may be surprised by each color change and will likely try to guess the results of each mixing of colors as they turn the pages. When you then add in the vibrant, adorable illustrations by Pardeep Mehra, this will likely be a book your child will reach for again and again.

Quill says: What is better than having fun with paints and watching different colors combine to make all new colors? Kita and the Magic Paint uses a delightful array of forest animals to teach children what happens when you mix colors in a way that young readers can easily understand.

For more information on Kita and the Magic Paint, please visit the author's website at: lauraschaumerbooks.com

Monday, November 22, 2021

#AuthorInterview with Harry J. Karapalides

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Barbara Bamberger Scott is talking with Harry J. Karapalides, author of A Promise of Remembrance.
FQ: Have you traveled to or maintained any personal ties to Greece; if so, how did that affect your composition of this book?
KARAPALIDES: Yes. I still have family in Greece, both in Athens, and in the area where the story takes place, Macedonia, Greece. I also travel the Greek islands. When I am there, I am inspired by seeing the Parthenon in Athens or the monument to King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans, and to learn stories of the Ancient Greeks, but also the stories of the freedom fighters of the Greek Revolution of 1821, or the men and women that fought the Germans that parachuted into Crete during the Battle of Crete. Of course, just staring out into the deep blue Mediterranean Sea makes my mind race with a thousand stories. It all definitely inspires me.
FQ: A Promise of Remembrance is in many ways a positive story that shows how people can help others in times of need, directly and indirectly. Is that a theme that you will continue to pursue in future writing?
KARAPALIDES: Of course. I have written eight novels and novellas, in different genres, and this theme seems to be throughout them. My parents instilled in me the Ancient Greek concept of “Philotimo,” which is a Greek word hard to translate. The best translation of Philotimo is pride in self, pride in family, pride in community, and above all, pride in doing the right thing. Throughout my parents’ lives, especially during those horrible times of WWII and the Greek Civil War, they continued to live the concept of Philotimo, and how to live life. Unfortunately, my father passed away in September, 2021, at age 93 but my mother is still with us at age 91. They taught me Philotimo and how to live one’s life, and hopefully I have passed down the same to my children.
FQ: Does writing about the elimination of an oppressive regime give you a sense of hope in current times, or do you see bleak global scenarios developing now?
KARAPALIDES: “Oppressive regimes” are as old as Cain slaying Abel. Men and women throughout history have always sought to conquer and enslave others. Unfortunately, it is part of life ad of the world’s history. However, whenever someone tries to take your freedom away, there is always an individual who rises up and says “no!” When Europe fell to Hitler and Asia fell to the Japanese, the collective world said “no!” and tyranny was defeated. In my opinion, there will always be someone who says “no!”
FQ: Could you envision a feature length film or dramatic TV series based on this book?
KARAPALIDES: Yes. However, I have read thousands of books that I always think would make a great movie or TV show. Everyone has a story and these stories should be told, whether in printed form or up on the big screen (or on our little iPad screen!!). Someday I hope that fate will come by and choose this book or any other of my books to be made into a movie or TV series.
FQ: What is your favorite episode in this gripping story?
KARAPALIDES: The book is about a father and son and their struggle during the war, but the wives and mothers suffered just as much. In Paragraph 13, when Theodora (Vangeli’s mother) is stopped by the communist guerillas (known as “anadartes”), and they attempt to take her younger son Niko, as a recruit, she stands up to them. The Greek women of that time were tough. While their men were out fighting, it was the women that kept the family and the household together. They are the unsung heroes.
Author Harry J. Karapalides

FQ: You’ve written quite a few books, many with an historical focus. Do you find historical fiction to be your “comfort genre,” meaning, it’s what you enjoy most?
KARAPALIDES: Yes. I am a student of history and history always sneaks into my writings. I feel the events of the past can be used today to show us where we should or should not be going.
FQ: You’ve written a few books about the American Revolution. What drew you to writing about this period? Also, I love the idea of your “Dates of the American Revolution” quick reference. This would be a perfect tool for schools. Have you had success getting it into the hands of students or are you marketing it differently?
KARAPALIDES: One of my most favorite periods in history is the American Revolution (and I do live near Philadelphia), and the person I admire the most in history is George Washington (close second is Alexander the Great). Obviously my first novel, Revolt, is a spy thriller based on the beginning of the American War of Independence. In researching the book, I would write down the dates of an event during the war, and I found myself with a long list! I got a calendar and wrote-in what happened on each day. The calendar started filling up. At that point I decided that since I had so many dates, I should just turn it into a book. The book did well. It is in many school libraries, cited in other research and text books. It was also cited as a research tool in Williamsburg, VA, and at archeological digs of a Revolutionary War fort in South Carolina. I have had several retired military officers comment on the book and recommending it to any student of history.
FQ: Your latest book, Go Tell the Mocha Man, is quite different from your other works. Would you tell our readers a bit about this newest tale?
KARAPALIDES: It’s aliens meet rock and roll! The main character, Homer Ulysses Jimi Hendrix Smith, is about to learn that the Universe is a very strange place, especially its love for Classic Rock! From escalators that travel through space to a classic car that is more than it seems, Go Tell The Mocha Man is a story that takes you from one world to another, with twists and turns as you your turn the pages of this science fiction adventure that is truly out of this world.
FQ: You’re a successful blogger at CosmosPhilly.com. How does having an active blog compare to the life of an author? Would you advise other authors to have their own blogs?
KARAPALIDES: YES!!! Write, write, write, and write some more! Whether you write short stories, the classic American novel, or just a blog, continue writing. For me, writing a blog and other articles exercised my mind and my imagination. If an athlete needs to exercise consistently to keep his or her muscles and body in shape, so does a writer need to consistently write to do the same thing for the writer’s mind and writing skills. And, one never knows; writing a blog may lead to bigger and better things!

#BookReview - A Promise of Remembrance

A Promise of Remembrance

By: Harry J. Karapalides
Publisher: Cosmos Philly Publishing
Publication Date: August 2012
ISBN: 978-1520496146
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: November 20, 2021
A father and son must make crucial decisions in order to save themselves and others, in this emotionally charged depiction of Greek citizens facing the chaos of World War II, by author Harry Karapalides.
In the late 1930s, Argyri Karas, a well-to-do shop owner in Thessaloniki, has formed an unusual business partnership with Assael - unusual because Karas is a Christian, Assael a Jew. The working bond is based on their combined skills - Assael is an accurate accountant while Karas is a talented salesman. The relationship is one of trust and is underpinned by what seems a gently blooming romance between Assael’s daughter Mira and young Vangelis Karas.
As a Nazi invasion seems inevitable, everyone must take steps to flee or stay. Argyri, an honorable man of genuine faith, wants to aid the Assael family, so he hides them in his home. When they are discovered by the sadistic Nazi Sturmbannfuhrer Klaus, they will be separated and Argyri will suffer greatly for his act of conscience. He is imprisoned, gets a terrifying, sickening view of how Jews and others are being treated by Hitler’s regime, and may pay with his life for his guardianship of his friends. It is up to Vangelis to do the seemingly impossible – free his father and save his Jewish companions who have been shipped away – but to where? Just as the Germans are beginning to lose in Greece, a new faction arises – communism, invoking a civil war. The struggle of Greek against Greek will prove as savage as the battle against the Nazis, and for the Karas clan, will include the intense, insane hatred of one rabid communist. Through all of this, Argyri maintains his remarkably rational religious core beliefs, seeing all wars as destructive and evil. And he will continue, for many years to come, to seek any news of Assael’s fate.
Based on his family lore and factual documentation, author and attorney Karapalides (the “Karas” of his fictionalized creation) makes history come alive. For those less schooled in the events in Greece during World War II, he offers a wide panorama of actual happenings enhanced by his vivid imagination. His depiction of battle, betrayal, and brutality are horrific, bringing the reader to experience the deeply disturbing shocks of war’s turmoil, the outrage of blind nationalism, and the heartless antisemitism – factors that gripped so many and resulted in the slaughter of millions of innocents in battle, captivity, and unfeeling torture. Through the eyes of his well-drawn, empathic heroes Argyri and Vangelis, this tale, spanning more than sixty years, offers triumphs, sorrows, and a gentle resolution found in the symbolism of a small, precious heirloom.
Quill says: By enmeshing his own family recollections with historical fact and rich fictional characterizations and settings, Harry Karapalides has constructed a deeply moving account of war and loss contrasted with loyalty, respect, and abiding love.
For more information on A Promise of Remembrance, please visit the website: http://hjkbooks.com

Friday, November 19, 2021

#AuthorInterview with Brant Vickers, author of "Fedor"

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Barbara Bamberger Scott is talking with Brant Vickers, author of Fedor.
FQ: Have you traveled to or maintained any personal ties to the countries or venues mentioned in your narrative? If so, how did that affect your composition?
VICKERS: Yes, absolutely! I lived in Germany for nine years and England for two. I loved the fact that while researching the Barnum and Bailey Circus I was afforded the opportunity to place Fedor in those locales and have the time frames merry up when the Circus visited them, and fairly close with his lifeline. It was also enjoyable to find that many of the members of the Black Tent (sideshow) were actually German and one of the few things we know about Fedor is that he spoke Russian and German, along with English. So he might have had a connection with fellow German-speaking peers.
FQ: What single piece of advice would you give to a person preparing to read your work with no previous knowledge of your perspective or the historical events described?
VICKERS: Our perspective now is, comparably, incredibly enlightened and still there are so many things most of us don’t understand or times when we have no real empathy in our interactions with people with disabilities. I used to tell mentor students (typical students who volunteer in Special Needs classrooms) that the only thing I want them to understand is that these are actual individuals with feelings and thoughts of their own. I always told them that I wanted them to envision walking through a shopping center or mall, and when they see a person in a wheelchair, obviously with a severe disability, and maybe their child would be frightened or start to avoid that person, they could share and tell them, “It’s okay, it’s just someone who has a disability and there’s no reason to be afraid or need to walk and look the other way.” Remember the fun and even the challenges you had in this class and that they are people. Fedor and his peers had no choice but to use the Circus system to make money and live. Many of them were outcasts and hidden throughout their lives. For all the controversy about the Circus we recognize today, 100 years ago, without medical treatment, social services, or family support, this was how many of these people made a living.
FQ: Have you seen, in your work with special needs individuals, the kind of “hidden intellect” demonstrated in the character of Fedor?
VICKERS: Many times! That was how I started this project in the first place. I was researching different types of disabilities in a Graduate class and discovered a picture of Fedor. I found his photo and one of my students with autism saw his picture on my computer screen. He asked if we could find out more about him. One thing led to another, and here we are. During my almost twenty years as a Special Ed Teacher and Teacher of the Visually Impaired, I realized how many types of “smart” there are in the world. Some of the things my students would say or comprehend made me stop and think that I was privileged to work with some of the most genuine, sweet, and exceptional people in the world. They all had hidden gifts.
FQ: Do you have any recommendations for readers of your book for further study concerning the history and gradual enlightenment of the scientific and social communities to the true worth of special needs individuals?
VICKERS: I wrote my memoir of my first years of teaching (Chucky’s in Tucson) and tried to show how much the students gave me as opposed to how much I gladly did for them. It was the job I was born for and I regret I only had those twenty or so years, as opposed to a lifetime of working with the students, aides (angels here on earth), and other teachers I had the distinct pleasure of working with.
FQ: Do you have a favorite historical character among the ones you depict here?
VICKERS: Yes. I am partial to Mr. Mark Twain, but many of the characters that fell into Fedor’s timeline (as I tried to keep it very close to being possible) were coincidentally some of my most respected writers. Melville, Tolstoy, etc. Many of the conversations Fedor has with some of the characters are how I feel about the authors myself. Mark Twain was actually a fan of the circus and had a tenuous relationship with P.T. Barnum.
FQ: Did your diligent research for this book include any contemporary sources to provide insight into the circus and carnival business as it now exists in America?
VICKERS: The circus was an incredible sub-culture in America for years. Other nations had carnivals and different attractions, but I wanted to capture the magic, enormity, and marvel how it was and how during Fedor’s time it was expanding and evolved from a once-modest endeavor to the Greatest Show on Earth. There weren’t many significant threads or values of American life that the circus didn’t touch, reflect, or reference in some way. I wanted also to contrast the horror of how the animals were treated in past decades. We have completely revamped the circus recently and that progress was inevitable. I never really enjoyed seeing the animals in cages, either in zoos or in the rings of the tents when I was young. There is now a subculture of sideshows, but I only was interested in how Fedor would have lived in that complex multifaceted enterprise.
FQ: Was there a particular writer whose work influenced the structure and scope of your book?
VICKERS: About halfway through the process of outlining the story I realized I owed a great debt of gratitude to Thomas Berger’s Little Big Man. I loved the book when I was young and the movie also. He puts Jack Crabb in many of the same types of situations (but in a much more physical sense) with dozens of historical characters. I didn’t realize it until well into the process, but honesty makes me fess up to the awareness and thankfulness of having read that wonderful book.
FQ: Do you have plans for your next creative endeavor?
VICKERS: I’m already involved in another YA novel about two boys growing up in the late sixties and early seventies in West Los Angeles. Along with the gritty details of the era, they become involved in a paranormal experience in the abandoned movie studio lot. It’s shaping up rather nicely. Thank you for your interest in Fedor!

#BookReview - Into the Violet Gardens

Into the Violet Gardens

By: Isaac Nasri
Publisher: Kindle Direct
Publication Date: August 2021
ISBN: 979-8-478429386
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
Review Date: November 17, 2021
From emerging author Isaac Nasri comes his second novel, Into the Violet Gardens, a thrilling story of science fiction, complete with cyborgs, political unrest, and virtual government officials.
Nasri’s sci-fi tale takes place in the year 2024 in Latin America. In this world, cyborgs are an everyday and integral part of society accepted by humanity. There even exists a virtual division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Our protagonist, Troy Levi, is a cyborg working with the FBI who helps to eliminate the power of the cartel that has been dominating the region.
However, in taking down the cartel, Levi unknowingly unleashes a social uprising and civil unrest that will change the very foundation of society as he knows it. Shortly after the dismantling of the cartel, Central Intelligence Agency agent Soriana Salazar is faced with a struggle to keep the relationship between humans and cyborgs amicable.
Accompanied by their respective agencies, Levi and Soriana find themselves up against a ruthless group of cyborgs who are fixated on one goal: freedom. The tale that follows as they attempt to thwart an impending technological war is one of epic proportions.
With Into the Violet Gardens, author Nasri does a lot of things right. His story is action-packed, fast-moving, and compelling. The sci-fi aspect is evident and well-developed, which is sure to delight any fan of the sci-fi genre. His writing is seamless and flows from one scene to the next, as he paints an incredibly vivid picture of his version of dystopia. Nasri also incorporates issues of political unrest and tension in his story, which further enhance the image of the dystopian society that he has created.
Readers of Into the Violet Gardens will appreciate how Nasri wrote the story from the point of view of multiple characters. This unique style of writing helps to immerse the reader more fully into the narrative, allowing the reader to feel like he/she is experiencing the story firsthand alongside the characters in the book.
If there is any criticism to be found of this book, it is that the sheer number of characters may make it difficult for readers to follow them all. Readers may also struggle to identify or make a connection with all the characters, which is unfortunate, particularly since they were all developed to play a crucial role in Nasri’s story.
Quill says: Emerging author Isaac Nasri has penned a fast-moving, action-packed sci-fi thriller with Into the Violet Gardens. Sci-fi fans will cheer at the intense adventures the characters, both humans and cyborgs alike, experience throughout the story. The plot is multi-faceted and well-developed, complete with epic battles, political tension, and the potential damaging consequences of relying too heavily on technology.
For more information on Into the Violet Gardens, please visit the website: www.cyberdriftworld.com

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

New Sponsored Award for the Feathered Quill Book Awards

We're excited to announce a new sponsored award in our annual award program. I'd noticed in recent years a fairly large number of horse related books being nominated in various categories. So I reached out to Taborton Equine Books to see if they'd sponsor an award. They were happy to help promote equine books so we now have a new award:
NEW FOR 2022! Taborton Equine Books Best Horse Book - For the highest scoring book, of any genre, that prominently features horses. Taborton will place a small test order for the book, (and if the book sells well they will continue to order), as well as also invite the author to a book signing at one of the many equine events Taborton attends in 2022. The book must be available for purchase from either Ingram or directly from the author. Taborton is not able to order from Amazon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

#AuthorInterview with Stuart Jay Silverman

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Barbara Bamberger Scott is talking with Stuart Jay Silverman, author of Drifters.

FQ: What single piece of advice would you give to a person preparing to read your work with no previous knowledge of your poetic philosophy?

SILVERMAN: Don’t expect an outpouring of feelings. Expect to be challenged to reflect on and, to some extent, to empathize with a variety of beings—lower order phylla as well as higher, including homo sapiens. The author’s feelings are there, of course, but they merge with and emerge from a sense of the primacy of the whole. That whole is the basis of his poetry, which attempts to create parts or aspects for the reader to interact with and be affected by.

FQ: Do you have a favorite character among the ones you depict here?

SILVERMAN: I suppose the homeless couple of Apologia, who live in a cardboard box in Chicago but reflect, in part, a family I saw in Rio de Janeiro. The mother and a daughter were cooking over a single burner beside three shipping cartons, sleeping quarters for the family of about six. The setting was an alley between two multistory posh apartment houses. Then, of course, there were...and still are...the favelas stacked on the hills far enough from the beach at Copacobana to be unseen by tourists.

FQ: You have a strong grasp of classic literature and reference; is this an area of study you would stress to aspiring poets?

SILVERMAN: No. Each to their own. I wish I had much more of the classics than I have, but the sagas, the Korean, Chinese, and Japanese literatures, the African and South American spoken and written poetry, and probably many more, are, I believe, equally apt to provoke the writer, the painter or sculptor, the composer, to the creation of new ways of seeing, hearing, and engaging with the immensity of what is.

FQ: Have you traveled to or maintained any personal ties to the countries of your heritage, and if so, how has that impacted compositions?

SILVERMAN: If “countries of your heritage” refers to those places my ancestors called home, I have to say, only casually. My father’s family goes back to pre-Civil War, but its legendary Russian roots have never interested me. I forage among its members only as far back as the early 20th century, those I knew personally, like Sumner, my uncle, my father’s brother. My mother was a 2nd generation daughter of Austro-Hungarian parents, whom I have, at times, trolled for poetry, but mostly as people, and only in passing as representatives of another world, another culture.

FQ: Do you see in our current world, with Covid and other factors, the possible development of a new cadre of poets and poetry built on isolation and contemplation?

SILVERMAN: I do, and it doesn’t make me happy. Today’s poets seem even more insular and self-pitying or self-aggrandizing than their late 20th-century forebears. When they wake up and smell the coffee, their woke seems far too limited to live into a pandemic-free future.

FQ: Was it difficult to select the pieces for this collection, knowing that they would purposely not follow a theme?

SILVERMAN: Not at all. Finding a suitable order, creating a movement within and through them took some time and serious thought. I’ve a library of poems from which to draw for another book and another, at least. I’m not sure I have the energy or will to do so.

FQ: Is there factual reality attached to such works as Bulgaria Remembered, or Amelia&Bill&Vickie?

SILVERMAN: Yes. Both are derived from real events and real people. I’ll go further. Both are strongly autobiographical, though I’ve tinkered a bit with particulars. No one depicted is alive to take umbrage, and I don’t expect any children or grandchildren to read the book.

Of course, some of the characters are pure products of imagination anchored in early reading and listening. Thus, I freely admit that Making Whoopee, one of my favorite poems, is fantasy, as is Workday and, I must admit, One Of The Hippopotami, resemblance notwithstanding. Autobiopsy, despite its title, is much more reflection than citation.

FQ: What poet influenced you most as you developed your talents?

SILVERMAN: Well, my talents (here, I think, I’m supposed to modestly add “such as they are”), were whetted by Pope, Dryden, and Swift, in my early years, then by Emily Dickinson, Browning (whose The Ring and the Book is, for me, one of the greatest poems in English), Baudelaire and Rimbaud, Joyce’s Ulysses and Melville’s Moby Dick, and, with reservations, Wallace Stevens, a quirky fellow who unfortunately gives some validation to Ashbery, Anne Carson, and Jorie Graham, and a horde of followers.

#AuthorInterview with Ruth Maille

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Holly Connors is talking with Ruth Maille, author of The Power of Kindness: Through the Eyes of Children.
FQ: You mentioned in the Introduction that The Power of Kindness was born out of a day at your daycare/preschool. Would you tell us a little about the discussion you had with the youngsters and what made you think it was a good basis for a book?
MAILLE: My children and I love to explore different topics during our snack time. One day, I asked them what kindness meant. That conversation evolved into where they see kindness in their world and how they can make a difference. Their answers were delightfully surprising. I could see each child's answer inspiring the other children in the class. Children teaching children, helping one another to create a better world. I had to share that message.
FQ: Your website is impressive! You even have an Orbit plush. Do you have a background in marketing?
MAILLE: I have no background in marketing. For 30+ years, I have owned and operated my licensed daycare/preschool located in my home, and my "marketing" has been strictly word of mouth. Learning online marketing has been the biggest challenge for me on my journey to becoming an author. It has been a real eye-opener. I will credit the marketing savvy to the many years of selling Girl Scout cookies in my youth and then as a scout leader for my daughter's troop.
FQ: Along the same lines, are you also a songwriter? Please tell our readers about the process of writing/producing your song "Kindness is the Way!" It's super cute and upbeat!
MAILLE: I am not a songwriter. In my preschool, I use stories and songs daily. With my 1st book, I had Orbit hiding on all the pages. That helped the children scan the pages and take in the illustrations and the story. I wanted something different for this book. Since I love music and music is a great way to learn, I thought a song would be fun. I went onto Fiveer and found a beautiful singer and songwriter. We worked together to come up with the words for the song. I wanted the music to be upbeat and catchy so children would remember it. I have received a lot of great feedback. The children tell me it makes them smile, lifts their spirits, and reminds them that kindness really does matter.
FQ: There are lots of great suggestions of kindness that children in your story offer to Orbit. Were these real suggestions that your students came up with?
MAILLE: Every suggestion came from the children. The first two were suggestions from the little girl on the cover of The Power of Positivity. Natalie loves when her mom and dad go on a "date night." Her grandparents drive an hour and a half each way to take care of them. She also had recently rescued a dog, Reba, from Puerto Rico. She knew that by her family adopting Reba, they saved her life.
Another example came from an experience in our daycare. We had a new little girl missing her mom and dad and would cry every day. One day I asked her dad what her favorite song was. He told me it was Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Anytime she started to cry, the children would sing her song to her, and eventually, there were more smiles than tears. Truth be told, I could have written a much longer story because the children kept coming up with so many examples!
FQ: Kindness is so important and something that many people seem to ignore. What can parents do to help their children understand the Power of kindness and the need to spread it to others?
MAILLE: Children need to learn kindness early in their lives. Research with children has determined that showing kindness creates positive changes in the brain and that selfless acts provide physical and emotional benefits to help develop well-rounded children.
Being kind is a powerful thing. One act of kindness can change a person's day and sometimes life. Plus, kindness is contagious in a good way!! I encourage parents to notice and acknowledge when their child has performed an act of kindness. The more acknowledgment and appreciation is shown for acts of kindness, the more people of all ages will continue to do those acts. Over time, being kind becomes second nature.
FQ: I understand that you used Kickstarter for your book. What was that experience like? Is it something you'd recommend to other authors?
MAILLE: There are so many factors that come into play when choosing how to launch your book. I think crowdfunding has many benefits; When you crowdfund your book, not only do you have more funds to create high-quality books, but you offer your readers something they can't get when they buy your book online. Another benefit is that you can capture the attention of the larger mainstream media, therefore reaching more people.
There are also disadvantages; Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing format. This means if your funding goal is not met, you receive nothing from the pledges, and those who backed your campaign are not charged anything. There are months of hard work preparing for a Kickstarter campaign. Building your following and creating the campaign means learning new technology, researching pricing, and choosing the right rewards. Once the campaign is underway. The work continues with answering emails, keeping connected, and posting updates. If the campaign is successful and funded, you then send your book to print, order rewards, order shipping materials, and finally deliver the rewards to all your backers.
Looking back, I am glad I chose Kickstarter to launch my book. It takes a lot of time and can be super scary. However, I worked with an incredible crowdfunding consultant, Lisa Ferland, who taught me so much about Kickstarter. I would recommend any author team up with Lisa because her knowledge and ability to help you create a successful Kickstarter campaign are well worth it.
FQ: When you do readings of The Power of Kindness, do you have children interrupt you with their own suggestions of kindness?
MAILLE: Yes, the children interrupt all the time. I love it for so many reasons. I love when they see themselves in the story and relate to the characters. When suggestions in the book trigger a memory, they want to share it with everyone. It is beautiful to watch. It empowers them, it helps them feel like they are making a difference, and they are.
FQ: I see that you published a coloring book, The Power of Positivity Coloring Book. At 116 pages, there must be a lot of images in it for children to color. Would you tell our readers a bit about it, what they can expect, what age it is geared to, etc.
MAILLE: I have published a coloring book and an activity book for The Power of Positivity. The coloring book is geared to 3-5-year-olds. They are simple pictures that make it easy for children to color. The activity book is geared to 5-8-year-olds. It is filled with word search, crossword puzzles, seek and find, mazes, unscramble the words, and more complicated coloring pages. There is also an activity book for The Power of Kindness with similar activities to promote kindness. At the end of this activity book, there is a Kindness Matters Chart that is filled with various acts of kindness. Children can keep track of how many acts they accomplish, and if they email me a copy of the entire chart completed, I will send them a small reward in the mail.
FQ: For both your coloring book and activity book, did you work with the same illustrator that you use for your books? Was the experience similar to working on a book?
MAILLE: Yes, for The Power of Kindness, I worked with Pardeep and his wife, Priyam. All of the illustrations were taken from the storybook. When illustrators create the pages, they use a lot of layering. Priyam takes the different layers and separates them, makes them black and white in some cases, and extracts them from the page. I created all the activities, using technology to make word searches, mazes, etc. I want my coloring book and activity book to enhance the storybook so the children are still learning about kindness in various ways while doing the activities and having fun.
My next book, The Power of Gratitude, is complete and available on my website www.ruthmaille-author.com and Amazon. The Power of Gratitude is an ABC book based on my research with children ages four to eight years old. Our discussions centered on their understanding of the concept of gratitude and discovering the things for which they feel most grateful. What you will see in these pages are ideas and topics that many of us don't usually notice, and therefore might take for granted. Once we look for opportunities to be grateful for, we begin to see them more often and become second nature.
The Power of series will have books focusing on essential character traits that children can use in their everyday lives. Other topics I am considering are curiosity, patience, mindfulness, and honesty. Every child has superpowers within them, and my books help each child to find their superpower and focus it on making the world a better place. The children learn they can make a difference one step at a time.