The Consort Conspiracy follows Kate who travels to to Georgia to cover a story only to get embroiled in the towns dark history. What was your inspiration for this thrilling novel?
The inspiration for this novel is actually one of my favorite parts of the story. While I have been a writer in some form or another my whole life, I had never done much with it other than a couple of short stories and poems. But I visited the Midway Cemetery in Georgia–yes, it’s a real place–in 1997 because I knew it contained the graves of signers of The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. I went there for the history. But as I wandered the oldest part of the cemetery, I stumbled upon the Robarts family plot with death dates in the early 1700s. One grave was for the wife of William Robarts and right next to her grave was that of Ann Evelyn Robarts, listed as “The Consort” of William. My first thought was indignation, since I interpreted “consort” to mean “mistress” (my research later told me, however, that “consort” was simply another name for “spouse”). My second thought was of deep sorrow when I read the epitaph that stated she was only seventeen-years-old when she died and was buried with her two infant daughters. Immediately, my mind started spinning with a myriad of jumbled thoughts that ranged from “Oh how horrible to die so young with so much to look forward to,” all the way to “This happened so long ago…how could anyone today be certain that these deaths actually happened the way it’s written here…what if one of the little girls had lived?” I felt so strongly about it, it was as if Ann Evelyn, herself, had reached out from the grave. A story began to take shape in my heart…and it was one I knew I had to tell.
This book was filled with lots of great twists. Did you plan these or did they develop organically as you were writing?
The main twist about Kate’s ancestral roots was the first one I thought of and, in fact, in the very first iteration of this story–written long hand on four yellow legal tablet sheets for an early writing class–developed that one twist and only covered the crypt and its contents. As my writing instructor and friends encouraged me to expand on the story, I knew that more things needed to happen and be intricately woven together. I needed to figure out what caused Katherine to die at such a young age in the first place–yes, women did die of childbirth all the time back then, but that was too easy–and not very exciting in a thriller. So the reason Katherine died led to the story line of not only the circumstances prior to her death, but also of what catapulted the Penningtons into the most powerful political position in the world. And once that happened, the events that transpired to bring them karmic justice–family come-uppance, if you will–also spawned a story line. All of the other twists simply presented themselves to me “organically,” as you said, in the course of the writing.
I enjoyed how each character had their own voice and was meticulously developed. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing your characters?
I really love it that you asked that question because as a writer, one of my fears has always been that people will think my characters are shallow. I have been thrilled to find out that’s not the case. The characters in the two-hundred-year-old story were probably the easiest to write because I believe they follow typical character themes from the period–the strong, silent “leading man” who was a pillar of the community until he experienced his downfall, the sweet naïve young bride/mother who steadfastly refused to believe there was evil in any of her associates, the evil-doers who were only out to benefit themselves, regardless of the cost to others, and the salt of the earth folks–primarily Jewel, in this case–who kept things moving with undying love and loyalty and a steady hand. One of the characters I especially enjoyed writing was Lucilla, from the older story. One of my editors suggested I tone down her surliness and some other aspects of her character, but I fought to keep her the way she was. She needed to do everything she did in order to maintain at least semi-equal footing with Caleb in their sinister plot. Kate’s character had initially been written in a more literary style–more formal speech and fewer glimpses into her internal insecurities. But when I turned in a writing assignment in an advanced writing course using a “girlfriend ” type voice, my instructor wrote on the top of my paper that she really liked that voice and that I should incorporate it into my writing. So I did…which also led to a massive re-write to change Kate’s part of the story from third person POV to first person POV. And after that, Kate became much more fun to spend time with.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
My next book is the first in a new series about two new families–the Sinclairs and the Maguires–and takes place in North Carolina, just a few miles east of Asheville–I’ll pick back up on Kate and her friends in a later book. We are still negotiating on this one, but expect it to be out in 2018. Here’s a teaser:
In 1947, JEFFREY SINCLAIR, hidden in his family’s mansion, sneaks from his safe place on his eighth birthday and witnesses his father’s murder. Almost seventy years later, MATTIE MAGUIRE the fourth generation of the working class family whose lives have been intertwined with the wealthy Sinclair family, attempts to fulfill her lifelong fantasy of buying the old mansion. But her plans fall apart when she learns that the mystery shrouding the earlier murder has also clouded the identity of the property’s true heir. Worse, in her research to clear the title, she uncovers some troubling information that points to the involvement of her beloved grandfather, MICHAEL MAGUIRE, into the earlier murder that, if made public, would put her whole family in danger. Suddenly, nothing matters beyond protecting her loved ones and clearing her family name. It’s up to Mattie, accompanied by an unlikely source, to unravel her grandfather’s involvement, discover the true Sinclair heir–hidden away for decades–and return him to his rightful place, where together, he and Mattie finally reveal the family’s long-held secrets, along with the identity of the true killer.
For almost two hundred years an ancient cemetery, deep in the lowlands of Georgia, has protected the identity of an infamous, brutal murderer, whose act of betrayal changed the course of the town’s history. Now, eight generations later, MIDWAY CEMETERY conceals the activities of international conspirators engaged in a fast moving counterfeiting ring operating right under the noses of the slow-paced Midway residents.
Thirty-one-year old Bostonian KATE COVINGTON travels to Midway to film a documentary intended to increase the favorability ratings for the current United States President, WILFORD PENNINGTON, who was born in Midway and descended from the murdered victim from two hundred years earlier. As she becomes enthralled with the town’s history, Kate uncovers the truth about the murder of the President’s ancestor. Her discovery also leads to her learning the truth behind her own mother’s death and eventually changes not only the town’s history, but Kate’s future as well.
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Suzy Has A Secret addresses child abuse and teaches young readers that telling a parent or guardian is always best. Why was this an important topic for you to write about?
One hears about this very thing every day in the media. That simply isn’t enough! As a registered nurse, I have had many children come through the ER and hospital who have been abused. Educating children must be done right as well as educating the parents. Keep in mind that a parent can be the abuser so this must be gently figured out with a one on one with each child.
On a personal level, my son was attacked at the tender age of seven. He was attacked by a large bully/predator who was age 16, in the bathroom of a park directly across the street from out house. The predator thrust his manhood into my son’s mouth and all my son could do was keep his teeth clinched until the 16 year old had enough. Imagine a seven year old, terrified beyond belief, not understanding why this was happening, and knowing his mom was across the street. Long story short, the police decided it was a she said/she said on the parts of the mothers and that nothing could be done. This trauma still affects my son today, at age 35.
My stepdaughter, my bonus daughter, was molested and abused in every way short of rape. She was age 10 or 11 when I noticed a mark on her skin just under the neckline of a shorts set she wore. When I asked what happened, she said her stepfather did it and then she showed me other markings of a sexual nature, and she said that he was “tickling” her and to keep their little secret. I went and got a towel, I had her hold the towel the correct way to keep her privates covered and I took pictures as evidence. Then I took her to Social Services and filed a complaint. They talked with her alone, and they heard me out, and I gave them the pictures. Long story short, my husband sued for custody and he won with my help.
I found the content to be very easy to approach and turns the subject into a discussion. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
Hopefully, readers will be more alert to the possibility of a child being abused when they see certain behaviors as noted in the educator section.
What are some common misconceptions you find about child abuse?
Number one is most sexual assaults are committed by strangers ~ not true! Most sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim or the victim’s family. Myth number two ~ the majority of sexual offenders are caught, convicted, and in prison. Very, very few of those who commit sexual assault are apprehended and convicted of their crimes. Most convicted sex offenders eventually are released to the community under probation or parole supervision. Myth 3 ~ most sex offenders reoffend ~ they don’t always reoffend. Figuring out a percentage doesn’t really work as most abuse is never reported. The majority simply isn’t reported, therefore the data isn’t there to make a realistic sample size to obtain a give or take percentage.
The book also includes instructions for parents, teachers, and counselors to use in discussions with groups of children. Do you find that group counseling is beneficial for children or are one on one sessions important as well?
First and foremost is one on one for all ages. Little kids are scared and need one on one, teenagers are ashamed that is happened and need one on one. Younger children should never be in a group as they have such immature minds. They might hear a child (maybe three years older) speak of something that happened and the child who overhears most likely won’t comprehend what was said, and this causes more problems and confusion. Teenagers may benefit from group therapy, and this may help them feel less ashamed and be able to cope with their own circumstance more effectively.
This book teaches a child, ages four to eight years-old, about personal safety and body ownership. Children learn how to identify who safe adults are in a child’s life. This book shows in positive and practical ways how parents, and educators, can talk to children about personal safety. Children learn about bad touch and good touch, and how their body belongs to them. Parents and educators can help children learn who the safe people are in their lives, and that they can always tell one of them about anything that may happen, and they aren’t comfortable about. Using little bug fairies and fairy houses, ensures that children aren’t scared when this story is read to them, or they read it on their own.
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Shadows, Shells, and Spain follows Jaime as he searches for his wife by following clues she’s left for him along Spain’s Camino trail. What was your inspiration for the setup to this novel?
Well, I knew that I wanted to write about the Camino. The adventure had everything I think I needed to write my next book. I had the rich history of the Camino; I knew I would uncover interesting anecdotes in every town; and I was assured that I would meet wonderful characters from around the world. All I needed to do was add my fictional story to my already unbelievable reality.
Now when I embarked on my own pilgrimage, I, of course, was immediately fascinated with Spain’s compelling landscape and the Camino’s magical history, but it was the people on the path who really inspired me. Each walker had their own personal reason for their demanding journey. Some had just quit their jobs. Some had just quit their marriages. Some just needed to unplug from their stressful lives back home. Whatever their reason they were all united in their belief that walking across Spain would help them heal from their hurts or stimulate their minds to live their lives better when they returned home.
So I knew I needed main characters in my book who were equally damaged and required more time to heal from the pain in their pasts. That was the starting point. Then I added the mystery, the suspense, and the quirky love story….
Jamie is a fascinating character and his relationship with Brie becomes something more than he expected. Did you plan their relationship or did this happen organically as you were writing?
For the most part it was planned because I outline everything! I know my beginning and my ending and everything in between. Now while the story evolves and I discover things along the way (especially how characters act and react to each other), the basic narrative remains intact….especially the ending.
I think about my ending much more than my beginning. The ending is often the first thing I write. Even if it’s only a paragraph or a few lines of dialogue, it sits there the entire time while I write everything else. Then when I reach that ending, I only have to tweak it. If I don’t have my ending, I don’t start writing!
However, having said that, yes, Jamie and Brie’s relationship did change organically too. I mean, every scene and every conversation had its theme or drama that I had to convey to the reader, but I didn’t always know exactly how I would convey that.
So with their voices firmly in my head, their conversations came quite easily. But in some scenes, yes, I did have to change direction because I knew that Jamie or Brie wouldn’t say or do certain things. It eventually became down to a scene-by-scene litmus test: “What would Jamie do?” or “What would Brie say?”
This book highlights some fascinating historical and architectural sights. What draws you to the history of Spain?
Because I write what I call fictional travel memoirs, I need locations that are rich in history, filled with local, colorful characters, and steeped in adventure. And now in two of my books, I’ve been drawn to Spain for all those reasons and more.
The first time was in my book, Bulls, Bands, and London, where I ran with the bulls during Pamplona’s San Fermin Festival. London was the primary focus of the story but Pamplona was where the main character was truly challenged and had to make a life-altering decision—while risking his life being pursued by a half-dozen frightened bulls.
Now in my current book, Shadows, Shells, and Spain, the adventure itself is far less dangerous but it still challenges you physically, mentally, and for many pilgrims, spiritually. To outside pilgrims scattered across the globe, the Camino is perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some serious soul-searching. To Spanish pilgrims, this 800 kilometer trek is almost a rite of passage: a journey every Spaniard must make in order to test his or her body, free his or her mind, nurture his or her soul—and truly understand what it means to be Spanish.
That’s what draws me to Spain. It doesn’t matter where you live, what you do for a living, or how much money you make, every citizen embraces their heritage and takes a moment to re-connect with the land and dig deep inside their hearts to re-focus their minds to what’s truly important in their lives.
Is there any message you might like to leave with your readers?
Whether you read my new book or not, I really encourage everyone to walk the Camino at some point in their lives. It really does inspire you and gives you plenty of time to contemplate your life while you meet many other friendly, likeminded souls marching across Spain—just like you! Sure, you can contemplate your life while sitting on your couch as well… but only by leaving all your distractions behind can you really experience some form of positive growth. Plus you’re going to lose a lot of weight! And that’s a pretty good deal too…
Lost and listless on the island of Mallorca, Jamie Draper searches for his estranged wife, Pam, who has left him without any explanation or warning. Exploring her last known location, Jamie stumbles upon an urgent letter from his missing wife promising full disclosure as to her sudden departure and her current whereabouts. There’s just one catch: her mysterious adventure is disclosed in a series of letters she’s left hidden along the ancient Camino trail across northern Spain. Now armed with a list of clues to track the letters down, Jamie retraces Pam’s footsteps, while being both entertained and challenged by the many colorful Camino characters he meets along the way—including the enchanting Brie, who harbors her own secrets that just might compromise Jamie’s intended reunion with his wife.
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
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Executive Hoodlum follows the true life story of John Costello where he uses his harsh upbringing to move up the corporate world. What inspired you to put your story into a book?
Ultimately there were three reasons I wrote the book:
1. I wanted to pass on the story to my kids so they have an appreciation of their legacy. Why they enjoy certain privileges, and to make certain they remain humble knowing the sacrifices that sometimes need to be made to succeed in life and for the next generation.
2. As a volunteer boxing trainer for under-privileges kids I was able to give something back to my community. It was personally rewarding to me so I wanted to give something back in a bigger way. That is to reach a larger audience of would be under dogs to demonstrate they have the opportunity to succeed no matter what the circumstances.
3. I wanted to relieve the burden of my own guilt pertaining to the last words I spoke to my mother before she died. Those words haunted me for decades. I never reconciled my differences with my father prior to his death either. We were at terrible odds as usual but he was alive long enough to make an attempt at reconciliation but chose not to, not with me anyway. Consequently I do not carry the same guilt as with my mother. I did write most of the book and long overseas plane trips and found myself crying writing a couple chapters. Now that the truth is out there, I somehow feel better.
A little background will put the situation into better perspective:
Best Selling author Larry Elder is the one who put the book idea in my head as he is a friend for about ten years. In fact, he was originally going to be my ghost writer. However, it was decided the book had to be in my words due to my slang and other vernacular to be authentic. With my busy work schedule, I was going to drop the whole thing. Problem being, I hate to start something and not finish. Technically Larry inspired me to write as he brought up the original deal as described in my acknowledgements. Prior to beginning the effort in earnest, I contemplated the above three reasons.
Note – I never intended on writing a book because I would have to relive things in my life I was successful in suppressing. However, age and maturity helped me become more open with my early family life.
Additionally, there are individuals in Chicago, New York and New Jersey that I did not want to have to deal with when it comes to some of the content. These are friends I have maintained and kept in contact over many years. I personally spoke to each person, mob boss, made guy, associate and the outlaw biker leaders individually to let them know my intention. To my surprise, to a person they noted they respected my street savvy enough to give the thumbs up.
The characters in this book were well developed and interesting. How close did you stay true to real events and what did you take liberties with?
Thankfully, I did not have to manufacture any drama. The one upside to being born a Costello!
I took no liberties because my street and business credibility are important to me. I played down certain events due to statute of limitation consideration. Most of what is in my book can be authenticated via documents I kept (murder investigations, police reports, death certificates, pictures,letters. newsreels and other documents I collected when fact checking. Additionally, there are third parties I contacted that were with me during certain events I consulted to make certain my recollections were as accurate as possible)
I’m not a big fan of fiction. Truth and authenticity are of utmost importance. This stems from certain things I know that have been portrayed in both books and movies about people I personally know or knew, that were embellished.
John finds himself surrounded by constant turmoil with gangs, members of the underworld, murder, suicide, and drug addiction. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
The ugly truth of my own family, especially the circumstances of deaths of my mother, brother and cousin.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
There are many entertaining stories I was reminded of by friends I did not include in this book. Consequently, there may be a part two.
Meet John Costello, Vice President of Business Development and Government Relations for Microsemi Corporation, a $6 billion leader in the advanced-semiconductor market. Well known and respected in the industry, John Costello graduated from college in 1983 with a degree in Business Administration. John’s social circle includes high-level corporate executives, politicians, military leaders and movie stars. As a young boy he played Little League baseball and Pop Warner football, and went on to become an outstanding track and cross-country runner in high school, captain of his college rowing team, and an accomplished boxer in the Golden Gloves and other tournaments. With this wholesome All-American resumé, most would think that John Costello emerged from a solid middle-class family with all the usual privileges pertaining – though nothing could be further from the truth. Costello was born into a working-class neighborhood on Chicago’s north side and grew up under quite difficult conditions. His father was a talented Italian tenor with mob connections and a proclivity for violence; his mother, the daughter of an Irish street cop, was a straight-laced Catholic girl till she took to the bottle after falling victim to that violence. Surrounded by constant turmoil and hardship involving gangs, members of the underworld, murder, suicide, drug addiction as well as physical and emotional abuse, John eventually transcended his circumstances to obtain a higher education and pursue a profitable career that entailed all the perks of an executive lifestyle inclusive of the Hollywood party circuit.
Readers who might enjoy this book are those interested in true-crime stories, mob activity, murder and mayhem, as well as anyone seeking a no-holds-barred story that describes the resilience of the human spirit. Spiced with wit and humor and distinguished by the inimitable voice of tough-talking John Costello, his story touches our hearts while keeping us on the edge of our seats.
Other comparable books include The Truthbook: A Memoir by Joy Castro, which describes a similar childhood fraught with abuse and dysfunction. The theme of destructive behavior and personal downward spiral in the fight game and mobster milieu is also taken up in Raging Bull by Jake La Motta. Then there is the true-crime and gangster activity to be found in Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob by Jeff Coen, as well as in The Neighborhood Outfit: Organized Crime in Chicago Heights by Matthew Luzi. All these works taken together give some idea of the scope of John Costello’s life as recounted in his own book.
And that is what makes our book “unique” – John Costello’s life is unique. It has been a strange blend of two distinct worlds, but with one foot firmly emplaced in each. The fact that he is comfortable meeting with Senator John McCain in the morning to discuss government business, and can then enjoy the company of old friends from the streets of Chicago in the evening, is indicative of his parallel lives and will certainly be something readers find highly intriguing. We have an extensive collection of family photos, newspaper clippings, death certificates, court papers, and other supporting documentation for all claims made, as well as music recordings and video that would introduce the amazing voice of Johnny’s father to a whole new generation.
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Liars follows Eric, a writer, who is struggling to write, when he becomes convinced that happy relationships are unsustainable. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this novel?
It seems at times we all feel this way, the ebb and flow of all relationships. The wondering of why we are with a certain person, or how to conduct ourselves in a relationship. Are we in the right place, is our definition of love correct or even sustainable? I wanted to explore this at the surface and work it from every angle. I began with the idea as laid out in the early pages of the novel that love is a dynamic that changes over time, for better or worse, and our perception of love, our understanding or lack thereof, is also a variable that messes with our relationships. I wanted to write of relationships from the perspective of love being fragile, mostly because we all have a tendency of fucking things up when the best thing to do is just let love and relationships evolve and carry on – or end – organically. In LIARS there is really only one character who gets this, and yet, whether or not she ends up happy, whether any of the characters end up happy or more attuned, is up to the reader to decide.
Eric is a fascinating character that only gets deeper as the novel progresses. What themes did you want to capture while writing his character?
That Eric is human and he is trying to figure things out, that his starting point is a bit skewed, he is flawed , that even his best intentions come from a confused place, that he, like everyone else, is scrambling to sustain and discover love only he is ultimately clueless as to what he is actually after. Until the very end, when you think maybe…. But with Eric that may as easily be a momentary place as well. I wanted him to be restless and not always wise in his questioning, but searching nonetheless.
Eric becomes fixated on a happy couple he meets in the market and is determined to tear them apart to prove that love isn’t real. Did you intend to explore love and relationships in this novel or did that happen organically as you were writing?
Indeed, as noted, the idea to explore love from different angles and perspectives was my intent going in. How does love sustain itself? What is love? Is it a form of freedom in which case to what extent is freedom offered, or is it a form of compromise to achieve something greater than the individual self? Is such a goal even possible? What of monogamy? Is it a social contrivance? What of open relationships? I had a lot of ideas in my head and then honestly one day at my market here in Ann Arbor I saw a couple that intrigued me for a dozen different reasons and I began to see the possibility of playing with many ideas about love through the lens of someone who views this couple and wants to test them.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I am writing a new novel now that is already under contract to my publisher. I hope to be done in the next year or so. Its a big sweeping look at our world through the prism of a single city.
Eric McCanus is a novelist with the misfortune of having written his one great book when he was young. Struggling to write more, recently divorced, while still missing his ex-wife, Eric becomes convinced that happy relationships are unsustainable. Determined to prove the accuracy of his theory, Eric stumbles upon a seemingly perfect couple at the market. Convinced the marriage of Cara and Matt can’t be as successful as it appears, Eric does what he can to break them apart. What follows is a psychological and philosophical comedy of errors. Liars is an exploration of love, relationships, and human interaction, a madcap romp through the vestiges of modern affairs, revolving around five characters, each spun drunk on the batterings of love while attempting to sustain themselves in a false world.
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Redemption: The Advent is a fantastic sci-fi-thriller set during present day where a police investigator becomes host to an ethereal being from a parallel universe. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
As a civil engineer with a master’s degree from a Canadian university, my career required me to travel and live in a number of countries among people with diverse cultural backgrounds. These differences often resulted in violent confrontations with grave injustices inflicted by opposing ideologies. At the same time our world is currently inflicted with two devastating plagues, the proliferation of drugs and religious radicalization.
The book tackles these topics by describing two contemporary adventures, interlaced with superhuman moral guidance. In so doing I wanted to demonstrate the vanity of materialism and the virtue of harmony and peace which can only be achieved through empathy and understanding.
The Valdorians have watched Earth and deemed humanity too far gone to achieve spiritual evolution. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating the Valdorian race?
Although I adhere to no specific philosophy my deepest convictions indicate that there must me a superior intelligence underlying the whole of creation. The nature of this intelligence is unknowable. What is evident however is that harmony and understanding will bring peace to the world. This is the only credible behavior that will result in unity with each other and ultimately our creator.
James Baxter becomes host to a Valdor which leads to some very interesting conversations and confrontations. What was your approach to writing the interactions between characters?
In a world where science and technology are advancing at breakneck speeds and greed appears to be the main driving force in human affairs, the spiritual meaning of the old systems that govern us is becoming increasingly blurred.
By imagining a race of beings that are immortal, it necessitates a different viewpoint to morality and the reason for existence. By the interactions outlined in the book some of our religious myths are intermingled and questioned. The interaction provides food for thought that will resonate with anyone who has ever pondered on the mysteries of creation.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
“Redemption the Journey” – Sequel to “Redemption the Advent” – It will elaborate on the trials and tribulations resulting from the Valdor intervention, as they attempt to create a Utopia on Earth.
I have already planned the basic outline of the novel but will only complete the narrative once the first novel proves popular.
Two beings. One Body. And a critical mission to save the world. The Valdors, ethereal beings from a parallel dimension, have guarded the development of consciousness since the beginning of time. Humanity’s greed and fanaticism have derailed progression towards spiritual evolution, and the Valdor Council has earmarked Sol III (Earth) for annihilation. In one final effort, Balthazar is sent to Earth to redeem Humanity. When Bal connects with the mind of James Baxter, a seasoned police investigator, he must convince him to assist with his mission. Bal and Baxter have to share the same body. Using human effort and Valdor mental power, they combat a drug lord who has hijacked a mind-controlling microchip, and an Islamic extremist who plans to rule the world. Embarking on an adventure of intrigue and ruthlessness, Bal and Baxter’s journey exposes the weaknesses and triumphs of the human character as they struggle for Humanity’s redemption.
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Just Another Girl’s Story is a memoir about finding redemption. Why was this an important book for you to write?
This was an important book for me to write because far too many people let their past mistakes define who they are in the present. Too many people from all walks of life live with shame and guilt. Unfortunately for many, they exasperate their turmoil into further problems by not releasing their past. Such as addictions, severe depression and unhealthy relationships with others. I wrote my story to offer hope. I also wrote it to testify how my relationship with Jesus was the only way I could move on and find redemption.
This book recounts some harrowing events in your life, but the title of the book is Just Another Girl’s Story. Why did you choose this as the title?
I choose this title because of an experience I had when dining with friends. Shortly before publishing my book, I had quite a few titles I was kicking around. Then one evening I was out for dinner with five women, all of us are Catholic. I was asked about my upcoming book, and I revealed some of the content. Two of the women abruptly stated that they too had abortions. After I got home that evening, I pondered our discussion and realized that out of six women at our table, 1/2 of us had an abortion. I realized that I am “just another girl” that has experienced abortion; thus shame and guilt.
I appreciated how you were willing to tell both the good and bad aspects of your life choices. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
My abortion experiences were the most difficult to write about. When I wrote the outline for my book; I did not know if I would be able to reach the level of detail I felt the reader would need to have to understand my journey. Most especially my abortion experiences. At first, I thought I needed to spend most of my time writing about when I was physically at Planned Parenthood. I even went to the Planned Parenthood in Milwaukee to ask for my records. When I was told they did not have them anymore (they only need to keep records for 7-10 years) – I was devasted. I didn’t write for a while after that day, as I believed I had to have those records to validate my experience. When I finally began writing again, I asked God to help me retrieve the details of what I needed to provide the reader an understanding of my experiences. As I began typing, it was as if God was at the keyboard typing the words as I relived those two days at Planned Parenthood. God gave me exactly what I needed, and I recalled many things I had buried long ago. I cried many tears as I re-read what was typed and I marveled once again at how God is so powerful and how I could not have written my story without Him by my side.
What is one thing that you hope readers take away from this book?
I hope and pray that readers suffering from shame and guilt; regardless of reasons – can find inspiration to reach forgiveness and redemption. I hope readers take away the adage that you do not have to let your past mistakes define who you become and how you live today.
Laura confesses, “I was spending so much time grieving the loss of my two aborted babies; all the while taking for granted that God gave me two more that were alive and standing right in front of me”
At the tender and problematic ages of 16 and 17, Laura Eckert twice found herself as a patient at an abortion clinic, after her parents had discovered that she was pregnant. Addicted to sex and an overindulging in alcohol while maintaining an unhealthy desire for isolation and coping with deep depression, Laura didn’t understand the link between her problems until she was in her thirties, when she was finally able to accept them for what they were. Then, her pursuit of redemption for what she did became relentless, as she tackled the dark humiliation she had endured, eventually finding peace within a loving family of her own.
Now, in her book, Just Another Girl’s Story, Laura relives those traumatic teenage experiences in an honest and genuine teen autobiography that many will find shocking, harrowing and provocative, and yet implores sympathy and holds the reader spellbound at the same time. Read about her plight and her path to finding the peace and healing that she craved, as she tackles controversial topics of teen abortion, teen pregnancy, teen drinking and alcoholism and sex addiction.
Perhaps you will be inspired to find your own peace within Laura’s story.
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Into the Night, by Jerry J.C. Veit, is a play featuring an unlikely pairing of main characters who have set out on a journey together to battle the barbarians making their own way across the countryside. While on their mission, Samuel and Valencia are simultaneously fighting to save themselves from two ruthless vampires hellbent on destroying them both. Valencia’s past with Isabella, one of the vampires pursuing them, her knowledge of vampires and their habits, and her well-honed fighting skills drive her desire to set out on this dangerous trek across the English countryside. Samuel, unknowingly, has agreed to a trip that will change the course of his life.
This piece by Jerry Veit reads smoothly and much more like a narrative than a play. In fact, I found myself often forgetting that I was indeed reading a drama rather than a fantasy in narrative form. Veit has included a good bit of narrative which helps to set extremely vivid scenes and helps the reader visualize the intensity of the protagonists’ multiple encounters with the vampires and the barbarians.
As for the two different plot lines within the play, I found the vampires’ appearances throughout the story to be somewhat less than I had expected. The bulk of their interactions seem to be at the beginning of the play. I was much more interested in the plot involving our heroes and the vile vampires, Isabella and Cerbera. Though the barbarians involvement in the plot was important, well-drawn out, and wrapped up neatly, I would have preferred to have read less of the main characters’ plight with them.
Regarding the author’s style and chosen genre for this story, I felt it would have read wonderfully as a novel. Veit is adept at writing narrative description of time and place. He also gives his characters memorable lines, both dramatic and comedic. This work could translate easily to stage or to a full-length novel. I would love to see more of the pairing of Samuel and Valencia.
Valencia herself is an enigma, and Veit has written her character amazingly well. His introduction of her in Act I leads the reader down a path of assumptions about both her nature and her abilities. Veit works her expertise with weaponry into the plot in a satisfying fashion leaving no room for doubt about her from that point on in the plot. As the reader, I was as surprised as Samuel to find her so skilled and, later, to discover the reasons behind her competence in battle.
Without giving away too much of the play, I must comment on the conclusion. Being one of the readers wrapped up in the parallel story line involving Samuel and Valencia, I would like to have read more about the search for Samuel in the last act. I won’t say more. (Readers will know what I mean.) It has the makings of a strong act of its own leading to the conclusion.
I give Into the Night, by Jerry J.C. Veit, 5 out of 5 stars. I am not one to enjoy plays, but as I said, this one reads more like a narrative and has all the hallmarks of a vivid, well-thought through, detailed fantasy. Veit has managed to set his story in England in the 1300’s, giving readers who prefer that historical feel to their vampire tales something in which to revel. His characters, both heroes and villains, are memorable and leave the reader wishing for more–always the true sign of great work.
Pages: 166 | ASIN: B00Q1P3U2I
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In Ballad of Demise resistance fighters have suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of Chancellor Venloran who has one more trick up his sleeve. What themes did you want to capture in this book?
I tried to encapsulate many, but probably the most important for me was that desire does not equal righteousness. No matter how much Will and Venloran believe they are doing the right thing, I wanted there to always be a call back to reality. Both of them struggle to come to terms with this, as men of great power often do. This also ties into the importance of the past, namely the mistakes of history. Even though they are each other’s respective nemesis, Venloran and Will have tried to outrun their sins by doing what they see as good. The weight of their actions, however, always comes calling home.
Super soldier Will Marconi continues to develop and surprise me with his depth. How have you seen this character change throughout the series?
Will is so interesting for me to writer because he is caught in-between his past and new life. He’s still trying to grapple with the value of life, something he’s forsaken for a very long time. What I really enjoyed in this one was that we see that Will has some desire for normality, but he’s given up on it. In Reverence he was a cold-blooded killer and that part of him still clings to him like a leech. Fighting that urge is the new connection he’s made with Gabby, Jacob, Alex, and especially Halsey. He’s no longer isolating himself and has begun to see humans as equals.
I felt that this book transcended many genres including science fiction, military and even western. Was this a conscious effort or something that happened organically?
A little bit of both. In my case, it’s just me following the age-old advice of “write what you love”. From the addition of swords to a future warzone to the classic Western-style stare down, I’m just writing what I know would make me sit back as a reader and say “This is just awesome!” Initially I was worried my series wouldn’t have enough flying cars and aliens, and maybe someday I’ll write stories about those, but I firmly believe the Reverence series is a blend of my childhood fantasies and adult realizations, and I think it connects with readers because of it.
With this being the last book in the End of Knighthood trilogy what story are you working on next? Will we get to see Will Marconi in any other stories?
My curse is a plethora of ideas. As hinted at the end of Ballad of Demise, the next arc will be a prequel. Like the End of Knighthood books, it will be a three part series. It’s going to focus on Will’s wife and daughter and how they got entangled in this whole ordeal. Since it takes place before Reverence, readers will get to see plenty of familiar characters like Dr. Robert Neeson, Chancellor Venloran, Halsey, and Will as well. The Marconi family will be the focus, along with plenty of new characters. Beyond the prequel arc, let’s just say I have a ton in mind. There will definitely be an arc that answers a lot of the questions raised by the finale of Ballad of Demise.
The resistance fighters have suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of Chancellor Venloran. With many of his enemies dead or imprisoned, the Chancellor is ready to move to the final phase of his scheme: The International Summit. The historic event is just hours away, drawing leaders from all over the world to the United Nation Headquarters in New York City. Venloran believes peace through dominance is at last at hand.
At the same time, Will is hell bent on launching an assault on that very night, though the remaining troops are weary and few in number. The renegade cyborg has the help of tech experts Alex and Bri, along with pilot Gabriella, but the opposition may be more than they can handle. Awaiting any threat are the Chancellor’s deadliest soldiers, among them the cyborg hunter Aliss Howard and Will’s very own former superior officer, General Kane. Looming in the back of Will’s mind is the reality that innocent people will have to die to see his vengeance finally realized.
As both sides prepare to collide, none are aware that an unscrupulous politician, Secretary General Vanzetti, is eager for the bloodshed to begin.
Check out the finale of the End of Knighthood Arc and prepare for a thrill ride. The Reverence Series transcends the science fiction genre and will entertain readers of horror, war, fantasy, and even the western.
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