Friday, May 31, 2024

 #Bookreview of The Mental Resilience Method for Young Athletes: 5 Science-Based Mindset Training Strategies to Gain Confidence, Improve Focus and Win Your Next Game

By: Inner Champion

Publisher: Inner Champion

Publication Date: February 21, 2024

ISBN: 978-1-915710-56-7

Reviewed by: Lily Andrews

Review Date: May 31, 2024

The Mental Resilience Method for Young Athletes: 5 Science-Based Mindset Training Strategies to Gain Confidence, Improve Focus and Win Your Next Game by Inner Champion is a useful guide, providing comprehensive and intelligent methods for developing mental toughness for athletes looking to maximize their competitive abilities.

Many athletes have the potential, the passion, and the heart to succeed; it is usually a polished mindset that stands in their way. The team behind the writing of this guidebook, who have experienced similar situations in the past, attest to this. Here, they carefully illustrate how athletic success is directly proportional to mental resiliency and how developing it is what counts above a novel exercise regimen or training method.

It is not uncommon for athletes to face a range of challenges during their sports careers, from personal strains stemming from their non-sporting lives to organizational and competitive responsibilities. In regard to this, the Inner Champion group claims that a strong, well-cultivated mindset can endure the difficulties, disappointments, and tremendous pressure that accompany striving for greatness. They share study findings in this book about the psychological characteristics of Olympian winners, including optimism, willpower, love for their sport, and robust social support systems.

The authors exhort athletes to find mind exercises that suit them. They can utilize apps like Head Space, Calm, and Insight Timer, or just engage in simple practices such as breathing exercises and meditation. In this book, the team has devoted a significant amount of attention to visualizing a process that involves imagining what one wants in life. Athletes will enhance their abilities, build confidence, manage fear, and pick up new moves with the use of these tried and proven strategies.

Readers are going to adore the in-depth accounts of remarkable individuals who have made a successful career out of their passion for sports, such as Michael Jordan, Roger Federer, and Emily Cook. Furthermore, a great deal of success in overcoming the obstacles in athletes' everyday routines is promised by the systematic, well-thought out, and user-friendly framework therein. Both novice and experienced athletes can benefit from the authors’ expert integration of academic ideas with real-world experiences and hands-on activities.

This book is a great and essential resource for both novice and experienced athletes to read and reference throughout their sports careers. Its underlying idea is the proverb: "If you believe you can, you will." With the aid of this insightful resource, athletes will have an easy time developing mental toughness, persistence, and the resolve to function effectively, even when under pressure.

Quill says: In addition to the competitive sphere, the mental sphere is where real champions are forged. The Mental Resilience Method for Young Athletes: 5 Science-Based Mindset Training Strategies to Gain Confidence, Improve Focus and Win Your Next Game offers resolute direction on how to pursue the mental route necessary to become a champion. It is strongly recommended by athletes, as well as parents and coaches who want to help develop the next generation of winners.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

 #AuthorInterview with Natasha Pryde Trujillo, Ph.D.

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Diane Lunsford is talking with Natasha Pryde Trujillo, Ph.D., author of And She Was Never the Same Again: A Multigenerational Memoir.

FQ: On occasion, I have the opportunity to read a book that is so carefully crafted it lingers long beyond the last word. Your book fits beautifully into this category and I am honored to talk with you today. Before we get into the mechanics of And She Was Never the Same Again, I’d like to ask a few questions about you. During your work with the grief and loss research team throughout your tenure at Purdue University, is there one experience that stands out that you can share and why this moment in time?

TRUJILLO: Thank you, I am honored the book touched you in such a way. Yes, there is! For the first two years in graduate school, I had a family member die the week of finals, right before I was supposed to go home for the summer. I had never really considered the gains/losses framework before going to Purdue, and it was strangely helpful to challenge myself to think through this in real-time and try to find the ways in which myself and my family were being strengthened or were actually even MORE connected as a result of our collective losses. I was also just so deep in the study of death and dying and what it means from a psychological perspective that dealing with those deaths were very eye-opening for me. I remember thinking how strange it was that the exact same thing happened two years in a row, which led to a lot of deep self-reflection about the duality that exists in life, and I think it strongly shaped who I became as a psychologist and the way I approach life personally in terms of acceptance and sitting with uncertainty.

FQ: I worked in the corporate world for many decades and the last 15 years were spent in support of the C-Suite. Have you ever done any workshops with this particular level in an organization? If so, what was your takeaway?

TRUJILLO: I have not, but I have done a fair amount of individual therapy with people in high-status positions of power in the corporate world. A huge takeaway in working with them is the constant high stakes/pressure they feel and the expectation of perfection that oftentimes leaves them feeling hopeless, stuck, and unable to relax. They are so focused on performing and doing that they forget they are also human beings. Vulnerability seems challenging to achieve, thus I notice it does take some time to build rapport and approach therapeutic topics that will alleviate some of this pressure for them. It has been effective to help them problem-solve and embrace a solution-focused approach to the “doing” side of their life initially, but in time, we work to help them figure out WHO they are, and ways we can work towards helping them be human “beings” as well, not just “doers” (and learn to sit with things they can’t control/change).

FQ: I am enamored with your fierce athletic prowess and how you ‘…soak up all things sport…’ If you had to name one athletic endeavor that rises to your top (aside from basketball), what would that be and why?

TRUJILLO: Endurance running hands down. I absolutely hated running when I was younger, but after I graduated from my doc program I found myself relying heavily on long runs to help me clear my mind, connect with myself and my thoughts, and get that endorphin release that comes with exercise. The self-competition I am able to achieve with running is also a great feeling, and it’s one of the reasons that I love it. The mental component of the sport and getting yourself to endure such discomfort while learning what your body is capable of also fascinates me. It’s also a huge lesson in the idea of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”, and figuring out what that line is for yourself.

FQ: In the first chapter, I was shocked when I read about your welcome into the world and how you nearly lost your mother a short time after your birth. You describe her character as very much so the caretaker and she ‘comes last’ when it comes to taking care of herself. I understand it’s a foreign concept to someone to embrace the importance of taking care of themself first in order to be effective for others if they have never done this. However, if you were presented with the task to impart this, what would you say?

TRUJILLO: I think to a certain extent we are all tasked with this, whether we are a parent or not. Because of my own medical background, I recognize that when I am not in a good place, I worry/cause strain and pain to those who love me whether it is medically, psychologically, or emotionally. So I think this applies to me now, even though I do not have my own children, especially in the context of the work that I do. I view this as having a responsibility to my clients to be able to do my own work and ensure I am striving towards the best versions of myself in order to fully show up and assist them in my work each and every day. Personally, this also applies to my loved ones. I would say that I try to be aware of this, recognize both the dependence and independence of humanity, and try to move towards the best versions of myself both for me and for those who are important to me.

FQ: I want you to know there were many raw emotions that surfaced that are related to my own losses as I read your memoir. I have lost both of my parents—my father in a terrible fire and my mother to cancer. I miss them terribly and talk with them often. To this day, I struggle with the passing of my father (and he’s been gone for 30 years). To be clear, I miss my mother dearly as well. However, the day of my father’s death, I had talked with him earlier. I was living in California and he was in my childhood home, Florida. We joked a bit and I had to end the call (or be late for work). Hours later in the evening on that day, I received a call from my sister about the fire and he had perished in it. I applaud you for intentionally writing throughout that we don’t ‘overcome’ or ‘accept’ the loss; rather we learn how to continue without. Is this a ‘comfort’ or ‘coping’ mechanism and what is the difference between the two?

TRUJILLO: Wow, thank you so much for sharing part of your story. This was one of the biggest intentions of writing the book, to allow for my readers to step away from my stories and instead look into your own backgrounds and connect with some of the most significant events you have lived through, desirable or not. I suppose we can call this a coping mechanism, but in many ways I just view this as a very realistic and reasonable component of what it means to be human. I am not necessarily trying to make anyone feel better by acknowledging that we don’t heal from all wounds, but I think it is inherently comforting to know that you aren’t crazy if something that happened 30 years ago still affects you today. I think that fully understanding and embracing the duality of life pushes us to cope by holding the “both/and” scenarios instead of trying to make things black-and-white (because most of life is very gray).

FQ: I think there are many times in our lives when something happens that truly changes our lives and catapults us into a completely different direction. I was very moved by your account of your Grandma Pryde’s death and most importantly, how incredibly important she was to you. I was also angered because of the disgusting controls that were placed on everyone during COVID. I refuse to turn this into a maniacal rant, but I do harbor some anger toward the egregious mishandling on many levels during this entire debacle. I am sorry you were not able to hold your beloved Grandma Pryde’s hand one more time because of the ramped and intentional fear-fest where COVID was at its center. How do you manage this aspect of her passing?

TRUJILLO: I still feel so much anger, every time I think about it. I tend to over-analyze and find myself thinking well what about this, or what about that. I also just picture what little images I have over the phone and try to play that scenario out a little bit (sometimes with different outcomes, and I don’t know if that is helpful or not). In all honestly, I have had so many dreams where I am trying to get to her or I am actually with her but trying to explain something confusing to the medical staff around her. So…. To answer your question I am still going through it. And, I think I always will. I try to be real with myself too though in terms of acceptance, yes I am angry and I don’t like it, but that is what happened, and it will never change. It simply is what occurred, so I talk myself through that a lot too – dealing with the facts, what cannot change, and acknowledging that it won’t change and that the tragedy in that makes my emotions appropriate and natural.

FQ: I loved your chapter on family photos. I love photos and always have. They are memories that are captured in our lives forever and if they are of a time, place, or person that brings us back to the moment, they are priceless. If asked to describe a photo you have that takes you back to a moment of utter joy in your life, could you describe it and why this one?

TRUJILLO: What a cool question. I now pay attention a lot more to what isn’t posed in pictures. What is just real and authentic, not at all created to send a certain message to the viewer (a skill in today’s society thanks to social media). So yes, a picture comes to mind where I am purely and utterly happy, without a care in the world and I am not paying any attention to the photographer or anything else what would take me out of that moment. Those are the pictures that ultimately mean the most to me. I am not looking at the camera, I distinctly remember that I didn’t care about anything else in the moment other than who was beside me. You can feel the love in my eyes and can see the joy across my smile. Why this one? Because it’s the feeling I long for the most – and I’m not sure I can ever recreate it.

FQ: I adored the relationship you had with Grandpa Bill and how he was key in getting you involved with basketball. In particular, your awe of number 21, Darci Arsene. When you mentally processed her attributes and how you coveted to aspire her talents, you made a mental note that you would never take her number. You decided on 12, the reciprocal of her number. I find this fascinating and did you ever share this rationale with anyone prior to writing this book?

TRUJILLO: Not this explicitly, no… I find it pretty nerdy and even a bit embarrassing. I actually got to spend a fair amount of time with Darci and she was incredible. I have long lost touch with her but I think it would be so interesting to figure out where she is now. I highly doubt she ever knew the sort of impact she had on me long-term (although she did know she was my favorite player, I think my mom and/or grandma had told her this). I am not sure I even fully grasped the significance of this for myself until much later in life. It was pretty black-and-white to me at the time in terms of our differences and why I landed on that number.

FQ: You have a bevy of profound epiphanies throughout the book. Did these moments come crashing in like a meteor and write themselves for you? Or, was there a thought about what you wanted to say and you perfected the moments over a few passes?

TRUJILLO: Some moments really do come crashing in. The last sentence of the book…. That was what sparked the entire project for me. I have a lot of sentences form in the early hours of the morning where I have to get up and start typing, or have to send myself a text message with the words that come to mind. For better or worse, I think deeply like this so much of the time, and once I get going I can really get to a flow state, very similar to what I try to help my athletes achieve in their sport. When you’re in this state, you are able to trust yourself and let things come to you. There was PLENTY of sentences though that I wrote over and over and over again and really had to fight my perfectionism on. There were many I thought over with my editor too and we went back and forth with a few different ways to present things. So, a little of both overall.

FQ: In line with my previous question, another sentence that stands out for me is: “To remember what we had is to remember what we lost.” Wow! Pow! Is this one of those times when the sentence wrote for you?

TRUJILLO: I have always been an avid lover of language, so these sorts of things come to me a lot just randomly. Sometimes while running or sitting with my own grief, sometimes while talking to others, or sometimes while reading/watching or listening to something that induces deep reflection. Again, I also really connect with the idea of the duality within life, so that has me trying to sit with the both/ands a lot more and get comfortable with all of the conflict and confusion that life presents. Life is bittersweet, so I am often looking to better describe that and this sentence is one of those examples.

FQ: There are so many questions I would like to ask. The last one I will ask without providing a spoiler. The last sentence of your book: “…there may yet be much unwritten in our story, and I welcome a day when it can be penned.” This bodes my question: Are you working on your next book and if so, when can we expect to see it?

TRUJILLO: I have lots of essays written that I think could turn into another project, but nothing has been solidified. I am so curious to see how this book will play out and what I and others will think of it over time, so I am trying to sit with where things are now and let that soak in before deciding whether or not I want to write again. Honestly, just surviving with my own grief was the basis for this project and I hadn’t thought much about what would happen once it was done, there is much to still be unraveled, as I point out.

FQ: Thank you for the pleasure of reading And She Was Never the Same Again. I thoroughly enjoyed every word and am honored to have had the opportunity to review it.

For more information on And She Was Never the Same Again: A Multigenerational Memoir, please visit the author's website at:

 #Bookreview of And She Was Never the Same Again: A Multigenerational Memoir

By: Natasha Pryde Trujillo, PhD
Publisher: Violet Echoes Press
Publication Date: April 30, 2024
ISBN: 978-8-9895443-0-1
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: May 28, 2024

Natasha Pryde Trujillo delivers a compelling read titled: And She Was Never The Same Again: A Multigenerational Memoir. She shares intimate moments of her personal losses of loved ones and how they shaped who she is in her own healing journey.

We begin with a Forward written by Heather Servaty-Seib, PhD, HSPP, wherein she emotes personal honor to have been selected to write it. She praises Dr. Trujillo with the accomplishments she achieved in encapsulating theories, concepts and research related to the field of loss and grief and the raw reality to her words; given she has personally lived through the experiences. While the loss of her Grandma Pryde is tantamount and Dr. Trujillo saves the details of her passing for the last interview in her book, she anchors her memoir in her Preface. She shares her ‘why’ to write this book: “Tragedy rode in on the coattails of rebuilding my life after losing my beloved Grandma Pryde…” There is an abundance of healing elements to attain throughout this book in that it can be about one’s own family and/or friends, anyone you have met (and lost). She has achieved the ultimate goal all true writers covet when the moment comes to set his/her work free to a world of strangers: “If I am able to touch the heart and soul of a stranger, I am the richest writer on the planet!” With a total of 13 chapters, each is devoted to a loved family member of Dr. Trujillo’s who has passed and the light illuminates brightly from her pen in describing the emotions that affect her and the circumstances that surround each egregious loss. There are incredibly powerful and thoughtful views peppered throughout this read. One that immediately made me take pause in order to let it properly sink in was: “…I firmly believe that when you love someone, you have to accept that perfection does not exist, and for all the ways we can honor and respect someone, flaws will forever be present as well…”

There are nuances in each chapter that point to why Dr. Trujillo is who she is: a self-proclaimed perfectionist to a fault. She is an accomplished athlete who played basketball throughout her school years and came to her crossroads when she decided she didn’t want to play anymore. She has experienced a love for someone who her entire family believed she would live happily ever after with, complete with the proverbial home and its white picket fence. Yet, that did not happen. She embraces the love of family and her strong ties to her Hispanic culture surrounded by the familiarity of the stark beauty of Wyoming. However, she eventually leaves her extended family and Wyoming roots and settles elsewhere. She will certainly bring tears to her readers’ eyes when they read the heart-wrenching passing of her rock: Grandma Pryde. The overarching takeaway is a nurturing experience of not necessarily acceptance, but to understand that moment in time and learn how to cope in the journey of life ahead without him/her in it.

Dr. Trujillo has done an exceptional job of opening her life of grief and loss for her audience to experience. The intentional nature in which this book is written provides a welcome comfort of hope. Natasha Pryde Trujillo has managed to create a sense of awakening toward the inevitability of the premise that life’s companion is death and the reality is a multifaceted array of feelings to those who experience such a loss. Her words encourage her audience to look at those ‘isms’ we humans all own and instead of wanting to avoid seeing them, to look at them and learn how to navigate and accept; especially when it is too late to share those sentiments when you could have. There are circumstances where she alludes to the notion that even though someone we loved is no longer with us, are they really completely gone? The overarching insights are many throughout this beautifully written memoir. This is one of my favorites and resonates with me quite deeply: “…Grief never goes away. It changes form, but those feelings and memories don’t ever evaporate. The pain breaks up over time and hammers stakes in our bodies, stealing real estate and remodeling the landscape as it sees fit…” Bravo Dr. Trujillo….you are a truly gifted writer.

Quill says: And She Was Never the Same Again is a must read for anyone who struggles with loss and is on a quest to learn how to cope and allow hope and joy into their life.

For more information about And She Was Never the Same Again, please visit the author's website at:

#Bookreview of Sky Ranch: Reared in the High Country

By: Linda M. Lockwood
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication Date: September 10, 2024
ISBN: 978-1-64742-634-7
Reviewed by: Rebecca Jane Johnson
Review Date: May 27, 2024

When Linda receives devastating news that her mother is dead, she must return to her childhood home of Okanogan, Washington to console her father. This challenge sets her on a journey to piece together memories of her mother, a ranchwoman who was a poet, homemaker, gardener, mistreated wife, sheepherder, baker, and more; sadly, she also suffered mental illness. The narrator of this memoir entitled Sky Ranch: Reared in the High Country grieves and agonizes—if only she had shared the news with her mother that she was pregnant, would that have saved her? 

Her quandary sparks reflection back to childhood memories, living and working on Sky Ranch. This gripping memoir traverses sheep meadows, wheat fields, livestock auctions, foal births, county fairs, and high-speed horse riding amidst the pristine foothills of the Chiliwist Valley. It features a real-life cowgirl coming of age to a young woman who witnesses the seemingly harmless cruelties that eventually lead to her mother’s soul-shattering sadness.  

Lockwood’s memories reach all the way back to age three when her father told her she was too big to sit on his lap. By age eight, she was carrying heavy buckets of saw dust to fill the hopper to keep a basement furnace going all night, as a means to stay warm in winter on the isolated ranch. Farm work never ended, and this powerful book reveals the grit needed for mucking out the sheep’s pen or picking rocks out of fields of wheat in July heat. 

Fixing fences, herding sheep, growing wheat, caring for dogs with rattle snake bites, playing the role of Nurse Kelly in a play mocking mental illness, through it all, the narrator’s older brother, Billy, bullies her incessantly about being ugly, scared, or sensitive. And from her kind but stern father’s perspective, money struggles are real: when they can’t afford ten puppies, some need to be thrown in a sack and drowned. When they can’t afford to keep a pet rabbit, and she is fat enough, time to eat her. 

When late January temperatures fall to zero and the ewes start to have lambs, Linda, Billy, and Mom must go out in the middle of the night to move the wet newborn lambs to warmth before they freeze. In spring, Dad flies planes over fields to spray the wheat with hormones to keep pests away. Every detail feels urgent and significant in piecing together what went wrong with Linda’s mother, Zelma. 

However, not all the vivid scenes of farm life involve tough labor; there are moments of lambs playing king of the hill in the snow while Linda and Billy make snow angels with their grandmother, as well as heartwarming moments, when Mom and Linda save a newborn “bummer” lamb that had been rejected by its mother. In this humane and gentle moment in the depths of winter, the narrator perceives her mother has some kind of magic and wants to grow up to be just like her—there is nothing her mother could not do. So, a reader starts to wonder: what contributed to her suffering with mental illness?

When Linda is nine years old, the family buys its first Arabian half thoroughbred, Red Pepper, a horse with a reputation of bucking dudes; nonetheless, the narrator is determined to learn to ride her. The horse did throw Linda a few times, but when her father could afford a Western saddle from a tack store, on credit, she stayed on in the new saddle and then galloped the horse with pride and elation. A reader starts to notice that the narrator’s love for and relationship to animals is more detailed and drawn out than her relationship with her mother. Lockwood deftly intersperses her narrative with poetry and prose that her mother wrote, revealing her mother had a gift that went disregarded.   

Lockwood writes with impressive agility, lively and vivid details, emotional intelligence, and a musical ear for beautiful sentences. Her story moves forward at a trot, reading like a horse ride through a shepherd girls’ invigorating childhood. When it comes to sensing possible sources of her mother’s mental illness, there is Zelma’s growing dissatisfaction with not being included in her husband’s business decisions and not being listened to about her needs or talents. Zelma gets a schizophrenia diagnosis, and Linda goes through high school ashamed of her mother’s illness. The narrator knows what a rough cowboy can do to mess up a sensitive filly; what about the ways women are treated? In the 1950s and 60s, how did male-centric ranch work contribute to what is labeled as “mental illness?” So, it is not only nature lovers and horse lovers who must read this book. Additionally, this vivid and compassionate story gives insights into factors that contribute to what is traditionally called mental illness, but what may be more systemic problems for which individuals get too much blame and scapegoating. 

Quill says: Sky Ranch: Reared in the High Country navigates the rich emotional spectrum of joys and hardships of farm life while confronting the tragic consequences of mistreated, misunderstood, misdiagnosed, long-term depression. 

For more information on Sky Ranch: Reared in the High Country, please visit the author's website:

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

 #AuthorInterview with Richard Silvia

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Katie Specht is talking with Richard Silvia, author of Cultivate Curiosity: There is Hope Even in Unimaginable Circumstances.

FQ: Tell our readers a little about yourself. Your background, your interests, and how this led to writing a book?

SILVIA: Today is May 20th, and it's my birthday, which makes me a Taurus. I’m stubborn, inquisitive, and I love food, nature, and art. My background is in art and music, but I’ve also had a career in nonprofits as a fundraiser and event planner, mostly in areas of community development and the medical field. I’ve always been interested in creative writing, personal growth, and community-building. Throughout my life, I’ve faced many ups and downs, including health challenges and financial struggles. Because of these experiences, my desire has always been to foster meaningful connections, help others, and inspire hope. This book is all about hope.


FQ: Have you always enjoyed writing or is it something you’ve discovered recently?

SILVIA: I've always enjoyed writing because it comes easier to me than talking. I’m an introvert. LOL. Cultivate Curiosity is my eighth book. I got serious about writing my first book, Merging Worlds, after a series of significant changes in both my personal and professional life. The end of a six-year relationship, the loss of my mom the following year, losing my job in 2012, and being diagnosed with cancer two months later were all pivotal moments. Then, in 2014, three people very close to me passed away within five months of each other. All of these experiences are reflected in my writing; my books are an extension of my process for dealing with trauma.


FQ: Tell us a little about your book – a brief synopsis and what makes your book unique.


SILVIA: Cultivate Curiosity is a testament to the human spirit. While it is a book of poems, it also serves as a call to humanity. The introduction is written in a serious tone because we are living in serious times. "There is hope even in unimaginable circumstances" tells readers that no matter what is happening in their lives, they should not give up. There are lessons that bring us gifts, and there are people, sometimes strangers, who offer us the most help along the way. The poems are divided into three chapters: World Events, Personal Trauma, and Lessons.


FQ: What was the impetus for writing your book?


SILVIA: Cultivate Curiosity began as a concept. We need to be curious about life. Whenever we learn and grow, it's because we were curious about a subject, a person, or a place we traveled to. Bringing it all together into the book was an organic process. This curiosity and openness to learning are what helped me navigate my own challenges, and I hope to inspire readers to do the same.


FQ: Please give our readers a little insight into your writing process. Do you set aside a certain time each day to write, only write when the desire to write surfaces, or …?


SILVIA: If you don't write down or record what occurs in your head at any given moment, chances are it changes or you lose it. So, I'm a big fan of journaling, writing down dreams, and even pulling over on the side of the road when I have an idea. You have to capture it and bring it to life. I love to write in the mornings, and I’m especially inspired when I’m in nature or on a beach!

FQ: Is there a genre you have not yet delved into that you would like to attempt in the future?


SILVIA: You know, I have so many ideas! Sometimes I'll write a short story and tuck it away. Some of the poems are like little short stories. I'm a songwriter too, and the songs are also a form of storytelling. Life is speaking to us all the time, and humanity is evolving, so the job of the artist, writer, or recorder of life observations is to interpret these observations and pass the knowledge on. I'm interested in any genre or form that aims to uplift and empower people.


FQ: As an author/writer, what famous author (living or dead), would you like to have dinner with, and why?


SILVIA: OK, here are my top five favorites!


Yoko Ono because she has so much creative knowledge and wisdom. Her ideas have changed the world.

The Dalai Lama because his entire life has been devoted to the Tibetan people, and he’s also been a global leader in compassion.

Stephen Hawking, the theoretical physicist, who said aggression would be the downfall of civilization but also that empathy could course correct it. I'd love to have a conversation with him.

Brené Brown because who doesn't want to sit with Brené Brown?

Sir Richard Branson because he is the epitome of YES!


FQ: What is your all-time favorite book? Why? And did this book/author have any influence over your decision to become an author?


SILVIA: The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Czech and French novelist Milan Kundera. Life is messy, beautiful, short, and important, and he captured all that so well.


FQ: Where do you think you’ve improved the most in your writing process and ability and how do you think you have evolved?


SILVIA: I've gotten good at pulling the pieces together. I'm very organized, and I need to be because I've always had to piece things together in life. There was no golden spoon or sabbatical that allowed the concentration of time, money, and effort for anything creative, so most artists like myself learn and evolve through the process of banging on closed doors and facing empty promises. I've definitely become a more grateful human.


FQ: If you were to teach a class on the art of writing, what is the one item you would be sure to share with your students and how would you inspire them to get started?


SILVIA: Just believe the words are worthy. It's bigger than us, follow the aliveness. Write something every day, even a dream or a phrase or a concept. Buy a cheap notebook at the dollar store.

For more information on Cultivate Curiosity: There is Hope Even in Unimaginable Circumstances, please visit the author's website at:

Monday, May 20, 2024

#Bookreview of Tea and Toil at the Woman's Club 

Tea and Toil at the Woman’s Club
By: Bainy Cyrus
Publisher: Bainy Cyrus
Publication Date: November 7, 2023
ISBN: 979-8-9894840-0-3
Reviewed by Diane Lunsford
Review Date: May 20, 2024 

Tea and Toil at the Woman's Club by Bainy Cyrus is a delicious blend of memoir complemented by history.

Since 1925, the Martin Mansion has been home to the Woman’s Club of Norfolk. It is located in pristine and historic Ghent in Norfolk, Virginia. The Alvah Martin Mansion was built in 1909 and is 10,000 square feet whose content is full of blissful history. The home boasts Georgian Revival architecture and while under construction, Alvah Martin lived in the house next door to watch this magnificent creation come to life. Alvah Martin was a noted attorney, bank president, and county clerk for many years. To add to his already prestigious resume, he also served on President Taft’s Executive Committee and managed to use his influence with the President to secure the Port of Norfolk. In 1925, the Woman’s Club purchased the mansion from the Martin family. However, prior to the Woman’s Club purchasing the home, it was sold in 1920 to the Virginia Club: a gentleman’s organization that is now located in downtown Norfolk, Virginia.

At the time of purchase by the Woman’s Club, the exterior of the home appeared to have weathered a multitude of years against the proverbial storm: “…Long after its 1910 construction, the Martin Mansion appeared to be gracefully aging like the Egyptian pyramids without any chance of toppling. But it only looked that way on the outside. No one knew the decrepitude of the mansion, much less what was happening underneath…” It wasn’t until an early evening walk with her husband around 2010 that Susanne Ott mustered the courage to knock on the door of the Martin Mansion. She was greeted by Paige Rose, the elderly woman who introduced herself as the director of the Martin Mansion. As they settled into conversation, Ms. Rose gave Susanne the history book of the club. Ms. Ott was extremely impressed with the information and went on to recruit a couple of her friends to join the Woman’s Club—one of them being Paige Rose. After studying more of the history Susanne had a multitude of questions; specifically, about the financial state of the Martin Mansion. The answers were extremely vague in return. When asked specifically what would happen should the Martin Mansion run out of funds the answer was: “…Well, we would just give the house and contents to the General Federation of Women’s Clubs or just sell it…” And the birth of not only preserving the Mansion, but maintaining its ownership by the Woman’s Club of Norfolk was born.

Bainy Cyrus has penned an incredibly intriguing body of written work. Countless moments are captured across the pages toward foundational perseverance well beyond what these women achieved. It was a period of history when a woman’s position in life was to prepare meals for their men and birth their children. Ms. Cyrus showcases the important roles the women assumed as members of the Woman’s Club of Norfolk by bringing the arts, culture, entertainment and ‘can do’ attitude by simply owning the tasks and following through with them. It is important to note that this story exudes tangible life, thanks to Ms. Cyrus’ personal documentation of her fifty years at The Woman’s Club. She participated in elementary school skits, Christmas caroling, and science fairs in the mansions’ auditorium, coupled with attending cocktail parties and Thanksgiving gatherings on the impressive first floor. She shines a bright light on the survival of an iconic structure that has weathered the Great Depression, as well as many storms over the years. Well done, Ms. Cyrus. This is truly one of the most enthralling reads I’ve had the pleasure to devour in quite some time!

Quill says: Tea and Toil at the Woman's Club is a historical journey of epic proportions.

For more information on Tea and Toil at the Woman's Club, please visit the author's website at:

Sunday, May 19, 2024

#AuthorInterview with Ginny Rorby

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Trix Lee-Rainwater is talking with Ginny Rorby, author of Girl Under Glass.
FQ: Plant perception and communication is a niche scientific concept. How did you first become interested in this area, and what made you want your story to feature it?
RORBY: I read The Secret Life of Plants in 1974 and became fascinated with the concept of the ability of plants to communicate, which back then was considered woo woo science at best. Early in the book, there was an experiment performed by CIA polygraph instructor Cleve Backster. He put two potted plants side by side in his office, one of which was hooked to his polygraph. His CIA students drew straws and the short straw (unknown to Backster or the other students) secretly went in and destroyed the plant not hooked to the polygraph. After the deed was done, Backster filed his students through the room, past the surviving plant which registered alarm when the perpetrator passed by. I wasn’t a writer back then, but so loved this story that I wrote the producers of Columbo to suggest it would make a great episode. I received a thank you but-- “we have our own writers.” I took my first creative writing class in 1982 and wrote a godawful short story entitled The Greenhouse. Forty years of writing experience and six novels later...
FQ: There's a sort of magical realism with the concept of plants as witnesses to a crime. How did you decide on the boundaries and rules for this magical realism element within an otherwise grounded story?
RORBY: Though Backster’s polygraph experiment – to my knowledge — has never been replicated, other experiments with plants have, including the chromograph experiment on Lupinus, which I shan’t spoil. All the experiments in story are real. And the ability of plants to communicate is now fact. The magical part is opening our minds—young and old—to the wonders of nature.
FQ: Kelsey's journey from a disillusioned delinquent to a compassionate, resilient young woman is a turning point of the story. What were the key influences or experiences that shaped her character arc?
RORBY: Not until Kelsey gets in trouble the second time and is arrested does she begin to appreciate the friend she has in Hobby. And, like anything or anyone we don’t fully appreciate until we lose it/him/her, it’s not until the attack on Hobby that she fully realizes she may lose her one true friend.

FQ: What was the inspiration behind the eccentric botanist Hobby and his role as Kelsey's mentor?
RORBY: My undergrad degree is in biology from University of Miami. All my electives were ornithology classes taken with Dr. Oscar “Bud” Owre. When I started writing, he cleared paths for me to pursue that career. I wouldn’t call him eccentric, just kind. But Hobby is named after John Hopkins, a retired Miami News editor, who in 1981, after reading an op-ed story I wrote about an abandoned dog, called me and said, “If you can write like that, we’ll publish anything you write.” Until then, that article was the only thing I’d every written. His call changed my life. His nickname is Hobby.
FQ: The story touches on the complexities of addiction and its ripple effects on families. What kind of research or personal experiences informed your portrayal of this sensitive topic?
RORBY: Quite simply, my father was an alcoholic. No research necessary.
FQ: Kelsey's relationships with her mother, father, and Detective Moran are complex and multi-layered. What were the most challenging aspects of portraying these intricate family dynamics and personal connections?
RORBY: I drew from my own personal experiences. One thing I find helpful is naming my main characters after people I love. I don’t portray them as they are, but I care deeply about how I represent the characters named after them.
FQ: Empathy and resilience are central themes throughout the story. What insights or messages did you hope readers would take away regarding the importance of these qualities?
RORBY: The Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficient Disorder (2008) woke me to the realization that where I have always taken solace is being lost to generations of children. If I can open eyes to the excitement of being out of doors, I’ll be happy. And, of course, no matter how many wrong choices one makes, as the quote in the beginning of the book says: “It’s never too late to become who you might have been.”
FQ: Without giving too much away, can you tell us about future plans or ideas you may have for continuing Kelsey's story or exploring the themes of plant perception and human-nature connections further?
RORBY: All six of my other novels explore our relationship with animals and the natural world. Since I spent 40 years rewriting and noodling Kelsey’s story, I’m setting us both free. My next novel is time-travel and full of whales.
For more information on Girl Under Glass please visit the author's website at:

 #Bookreview of Girl Under Glass by Ginny Rorby

Girl Under Glass
By: Ginny Rorby
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Publication Date: May 21, 2024
ISBN: 978-1685134204
Reviewed by: Trix Lee-Rainwater
Review Date: March 16, 2024
If plants could bear witness to crimes and expose the culprits, what shocking tales might they tell? Discover the enchanting story of Girl Under Glass by Ginny Rorby where plants play a central role.
Thirteen-year-old Kelsey McCully leads a life overshadowed by her alcoholic mother's neglect and the absence of her long-lost father. After Kelsey got arrested for shoplifting, she got assigned community service at the greenhouse of Dr. Jonathan "Hobby" Hobbes, an eccentric botanist. Here, Kelsey forms a bond with Hobby's cat, Gen, and is introduced to Hobby's unconventional experiments on plant communication and consciousness. When Hobby is brutally attacked and left in a coma, Kelsey makes a startling discovery – his beloved philodendron, Phil, may have witnessed the crime. Guided by the books on controversial theories of plant perception, Kelsey becomes convinced that Phil and the other plants in the greenhouse hold the key to identifying Hobby's attackers.
Kelsey's life takes an unexpected turn when her long-lost father, David, finds her after reading about the attack on Hobbes. Kelsey learns that her mother lied about her father abandoning them and his supposed death. Torn between her newfound father and her dysfunctional mother, Kelsey tries to motivate Lydia to quit drinking. Meanwhile, with the help of Detective Hannah Moran, Kelsey hatches a daring plan to catch the culprits – two troublemakers named Will and Ryan – by using the plants as secret witnesses in an elaborate sting operation.

Girl Under Glass by Ginny Rorby blends elements of mystery, family drama, and scientific exploration into a narrative suitable for readers of all ages. Despite exploring mature themes such as addiction, trauma, and abandonment, the writing style makes for an accessible and easy read. Kelsey's transformation from a disillusioned delinquent to a compassionate, resilient young woman is a joy to witness. Hobby, with his endearing eccentricities and unwavering belief in Kelsey's potential, serves as a powerful father figure and mentor, guiding her on a journey of self-discovery and growth. Even the supporting characters, such as the steadfast Detective Moran and Kelsey's friend Josh, contribute depth and emotional resonance to the narrative.
While the concept of plant consciousness may seem far-fetched, Rorby grounds her story in scientific theories, making the fantastical elements feel plausible. With an accessible writing style, the author's vivid descriptions of the greenhouse and its botanical inhabitants imbue the setting with a sense of magic and wonder, inviting readers to ponder the boundaries between the natural and the extraordinary. With its blend of genres, Girl Under Glass is a testament to the power of empathy, resilience, and the unexpected connections that can bloom in the most unlikely of places.
Quill says: Girl Under Glass is an enchanting and accessible story that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the wonders of the natural world.
For more information on Girl Under Glass please visit the author's website at:

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

 #Bookreview of Sunny Gale by Jamie Lisa Forbes

Sunny Gale
By: Jamie Lisa Forbes
Publisher: Pronghorn Press
Publication Date: May 30, 2024
ISBN: 978-1-941052-72-3
Reviewed by: Kathy Stickles
Review Date: March 12, 2024
Sunny Gale is a wonderful book by author Jamie Lisa Forbes that follows the life of Hannah Brandt, a woman who loves horses and, despite every obstacle thrown in her path, continues to fight to have a successful career in rodeo.
Hannah Brandt, who, at the beginning of the story, is living a very hard life in Nebraska, is not truly happy. Her mother and stepfather have brought the family to a desolate place, hoping to create a better life for themselves. Hannah is not one for this hard life and spends her days working the farm and dreaming of something bigger and better. When she finds a horse roaming the countryside, her love for these animals and her desire to have one of her own changes the way she looks at life. This horse, that she names Zephira, will alter the course of Hannah’s life.
Against her mother’s wishes, Hannah turns her love of horses into a stunning career as she transforms from a sad and unwilling farm girl into a very accomplished rider. After participating in the very first rodeo in Cheyanne in the late 1800s, Hannah changes her name to Sunny Gale and moves her focus to bronco riding, hoping to become the first woman to be successful in this male-dominated sport. The story also takes the reader on a wild ride through this woman’s life, including her marriages, her children, and her budding career filled with numerous successes and many terrifying and heartbreaking dangers.

Sunny Gale is a wonderfully written story that is filled with action and wonderful family moments along the way as well as historical accuracy of the time period. Sunny is a very strong and interesting protagonist and shows that strength throughout the story in the losses that she suffers and her ability and determination to never give up on her dreams. This author has presented readers with an excellent main character and so many secondary characters who are just as well-developed and important to the story. Even those characters who the reader may dislike are extremely well-written and have a place in this story. The dialogue is excellent, and the descriptive writing makes one feel that they are really in the wilderness trying to survive or in the rodeo ring trying to win, right alongside Sunny and the others.
Sunny Gale is exciting, well-written and developed, and will make the reader laugh and cry throughout. While this is the first book that I have read by this author, it will definitely not be the last. I was extremely impressed with the whole story and cannot wait to see what else is out there for my reading pleasure. I would highly recommend the story to all.
Quill says: Sunny Gale is a wonderful example of a story that will pull readers into a new world, in this case, one of rodeo riding and the entrance of women into the sport. With its wonderfully descriptive writing and historical accuracy, I am sure that it will be a great success and of interest to many.
For more information on Sunny Gale, please visit the author's website at:

 #AuthorInterview with James Robinson, Jr.

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Diane Lunsford is talking with James Robinson, Jr., author of Death of a Shrinking Violet: Nice Guys Finish First.
FQ: I’m not sure how I’ve gotten this far in life without the pleasure of reading one of your books. Thank you for the opportunity to chat today. You have a wonderfully witty way of writing infectious satire, and I have to ask, of the many titles you’ve written, which one was your personal favorite to pen (and why)?
ROBINSON: You are so kind. I’m not sure how I’ve gotten this far in life without someone like you reading one of my books. Of course, I paid you to read it. I was tempted to say, “I bet you say that to all the boys,” but I resisted. I hate to say it but…family is the worst. I told a cousin of mine that I had just written a book and that he was mentioned in it. I took the time to mail the book to him because, you know, he liked the feeling of a book in his hands. I never heard from him again. Oh well.
I have written 3 books of fiction and 6 books of non-fiction including one book about my father who was somewhat of a famous man here in Pittsburgh. My last book of 25 essays entitled, I Injured My Foot Doing the Mashed Potato: I Should Have Stuck With the Twist, was probably my favorite book because some of the essays still give me a chuckle. Yes, I laugh and I wrote the book. Isn’t it a bit strange to giggle at your own humor? Kind of like taking a step back and admiring your own artwork.
Anyway, one essay, entitled “Poker Night,” is one of my favorites despite that fact that it is probably considered extremely dark humor. I may be the only one who likes it. In the piece, its poker night in the depths of hell and Charles Manson and Ted Bundy are running the game. Adolph Hitler as one might expect, is cheating, continuing to be caught with 5 aces. However, the Fuhrer is getting karma bigtime. He is snatched up every hour or so by vengeful demons and hauled off to the gas chamber to be given a taste of his own medicine. Other evil entities such as John Wayne Gacy and Jack the Ripper are on hand. It’s humorous in a dark sort of way. I swear it is.
FQ: I enjoyed learning in your bio that your writing career began at age 45 when "…the Effects of Gravity kicked in…" Your humor drew me in immediately. Do you suppose much of your humor needed time to evolve and the magical age of ‘45’ was your moment to start capturing those ‘life experiences’ on the pages for many to read?
ROBINSON: Definitely. I tell everyone that I had to live to write the style material that I was destined write. I had to live and marry and have children and work alongside both kind and pain-in-the-butt employees. I wanted to be a writer when I was 22 but I was a babe in the woods in terms of experience.
FQ: In line with my previous question, if you were asked to write a book on "…one topic that requires some humor around it…" what would that topic be for you (and why)?
ROBINSON: I have two parents—one 94 and one 96—who live with my wife and I. Both suffer from dementia and, and my father suffers from a bad case of sundowners. You talk about someone who doesn’t know if it’s day or night, he’s one. My mother was having terrible bouts of anxiety until her geriatric physician prescribed the oft television advertised drug Cymbalta. Prior to the Cymbalta miracle, we were beginning to look around for nursing facilities, but the aforementioned Cymbalta performed miracles for her issues. So we decided to bring in home health care workers during daylight hours.
The costs are outrageous for either choice--$15,000 month for nursing facilities, $47.50/hr. for home health care. Getting old is expensive. Sure, I find myself changing my father’s soiled undergarments at bedtime but it’s a small price to pay.
FQ: Your take on Vampires was intriguing. I enjoyed your analogy toward "…somewhere along the line the modern vampire seems to have become hardwired to resist the power of the Church…" (pg. 123). It’s difficult for me to cite the plethora of examples you provide throughout your book with the sublime coaxing to think about what I just said… It is clear to me that you have a strong faith. Is there a time in your life when your faith was the saving grace to carry you through to a lighter time? If so, are you able to share that experience?
ROBINSON: During the last job I ever worked at age 58 (“remember, the only shrinking violet here is Jim Robinson”), I got so fed up with the job I simply quit, walked out the door without so much as an interview. Blasphemy! Such a thing was taboo when I was deeply entrenched in the work world. It was extremely difficult; I had always been told never to quit a job unless you had another job waiting and you had six months’ salary saved. I always figured if you said the words, “I need the money,” indicating that money is the only thing keeping you at that job, you’re screwed. But in this case, I stepped out on faith and trusted that God would lead me through it. (I wish God would help me sell more books.)

FQ: What is one of the most rewarding times you can recall on becoming a grandfather?
ROBINSON: As I said in the book, hearing them call me Pap is a rewarding experience. But one little thing I often relate to people is that it’s interesting to watch your grandchildren when they’re still young and they don’t know you from Adam and as they grow older and begin calling you by your new grandmother/grandfather elderly title. They don’t really get the connection at first but then they start to realize that their parents are at one level of the hierarchy then there’s these 2 older people above their parents who are really nice to you but you don’t see as often.
FQ: I thoroughly enjoyed reading your views on the many iconic movies you cited. How do you feel about movies that are being made today?
ROBINSON: I enjoy some of the movies being made today but it seems like they’re sequel driven with a few quality movies thrown in. And streaming has changed everything. I talk about Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s edition of A Star is Born in the next question, one of my modern-day watch overs. But my favorites now include several science fiction offerings. The Marvel movies: Avengers, Captain America, The Hulk, Iron Man, and their many sequels. The problem is, sequels abound and it’s profit driven. Movie moguls figure, “well that made money, let’s make another one.” I think we’re up to Scream VI and eight Friday the 13th , Jason movies. In the last one Jason took Manhattan. And there are now—are you ready for this—13 Jason inspired, Halloween films. When you make this many movies in the same genre they call it a “franchise”—like a grouping of hamburger restaurants.
FQ: In line with my previous question, why do you suppose Hollywood has this insistence to take old movies and reinvent them to fit today’s climate?
ROBINSON: Why not? Why not take an old movie like A Star is Born first made in 1937 with Frederick March, give it a fresh boat of paint, put Streisand in it and, unfortunately, Kris Kristofferson, and run it up the flagpole again in 1976. Unfortunately, that remake sucked.
But then in 2018, modernize again. Give Bradley Cooper a shot at acting and directing along with Lady Gaga. I’ve watched that one several times. The music and acting are much improved given almost 50 years of technology.
Prepare for the next version in 2075. I doubt if either one of us will be around for that one.
FQ: I spent more than thirty years in the ‘corporate arena’ and (finally) departed the madness three years ago. Now I do what I want to do and my days are devoted to working for a charitable organization that supports Veterans. I had to chuckle because I could relate when you described your ex-boss: "…was what most people would label as insecure. Insecurity—and its twin brothers envy and jealousy—is a terrible emotion to have to deal with when running amok, unchecked in one’s psyche…" (pg. 98) Do you think that type of personality equates to the young pup who was bullied one too many times growing up (and he/she finally gets to be the bully)?
ROBINSON: I don’t know if they become bullies, but it definitely has a profound effect on their psyche. Sometimes they never quite get over the trauma. This might be a bad example but on some of the old Maury Povich Shows (I talked about this in one of my essays) Maury would bring young woman on his show who was an unattractive girl in high school, bullied mercilessly by classmates—often by one bully in particular--but had transformed into a beautiful young woman in later years. As part of the he invited the tormenter to come onto the show to marvel at how the “ugly duckling” that he had tortured had turned into a beautiful swan.
Mostly, you could tell the bully hadn’t really changed much. You could tell he hadn’t made much of himself. Sadly, she may have had the last laugh but she carried the bully’s mean attacks around in her spirit all those years.
FQ: I could go on with many more questions, but I’ll leave it here. I want to thank you very much for the opportunity to read this treasure. My only hope is you are working on your next book and if so, could you share what we can expect next?
ROBINSON: A touchy subject. I started working on a 4th installment of the Johnson Family Chronicles, my fiction series, and I struggled mightily. I guess I got a little spoiled with the other three because, unbeknownst to me, they followed a certain formula. So I’ll be struggling with that and cobbling together more essays. Thank you very much for your kind words and for the interview. See you after the next book.