Blog Archives

I Was Born in a Migrant Camp

Author InterviewDreaming on an Arabian Carpet is a genre-crossing novel with elements of romance, mystery, and suspense as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

I’ve learnt much from reading about other people, and their stories. I’ve always enjoyed entering different worlds. But it haunted me that I was seeing a world that nobody else was sharing. Perhaps its my background; I was born in a migrant camp of refugee parents, and have spent my life travelling the world. I’ve lived and worked in so many countries. Believe it or not, for a time I lived in Syria, Iraq, and Libya – these are places in the book – and the people I met were all normal; all just trying to get on. But when I returned back to the West, the images portrayed of these places in the news horrified me. I decided to tell a story set in the Middle East. No clichés; no stereotypes – I wanted to tell it how it really is. I took real people I knew, and I took the real problems they faced; loves, family, work, and religion. I wanted my readers to meet ordinary people in the extraordinary circumstances of that Arabian world so far away from everyday life in the USA. I wanted my readers to wonder if this could possibly be true, then to slowly realize it was, and be amazed.

Ricky has a tumultuous but passionate relationship with Breeze. What was your inspiration for their relationship?

When writing about the characters – not only Ricky, Breeze and Leoni, but all of them – I did my best to make them as blameless as I could. I mean by this, that I wanted the reader to picture themselves in the dilemmas they all faced, wonder what they would do, and then be able to sympathize with how each character actually reacted. I thought of it as a chess game. If you were in poverty, how far would you go to escape? If you were alone, to what lengths would you go to find love? What was the best move? The answer will always be a trade-off. But given the incredible barriers they all faced, none of them could have it all; it came down to making singular choices – choosing one dream; one priority. And in making their choice, each character sacrificed the dreams of others. Well, I have to say, it surprised me how readers reacted. In all the reviews I’ve had, readers either love or hate Breeze; they think Ricky is incredibly spineless or courageous. If there is no middle ground when the facts are clear, what hope do people have finding compromise in the uncertainties of real life?

Ricky was a well-developed character that continued to develop throughout the story. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?

Religion was an important part of the story. Ricky is a lukewarm Christian – a Filipino Catholic – living in an Islamic world. Walid, Ricky’s devout Moslem friend, is the sounding-board against which ideas about faith flow back and forth. And then there is Breeze, a daughter of Chinese parents who had endured the amoral excesses of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. She is immune to religion. How do we live with religion’s patent contradictions? How do we reconcile the mutual-exclusivity of different faiths? And yet, how do we find a moral compass – meaning and purpose – with no faith at all? These questions clash as Ricky and Breeze navigate their many problems. Ricky’s journey is ultimately one in which he loses the things he wants, but takes on the person he needs to be. Whether you are religious or not, the message in the story is that Truth alone makes you strong. We are all dependent on each other, whether we like it or not, and for that we need to be united one with another. Dictatorships never last; neither coercion, deceit nor unwelcome dependencies. Only a common Truth can hold a family, community or nation together. But in order to build relationships with others, you first need to find that Truth in yourself.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next book will be released in July, 2018. It’s called; When Spring Comes Around. It is a story set in Japan during the 2009 financial crisis. I lived in Japan for some ten years and spent quite a bit of my time working in the securities sector. Let me admit that this too is a story based on real events. Haru, an options trader, is about to be assigned overseas, to New York. But as is the policy of the company, he needs to be married before he can go. The problem is that Haru doesn’t even have a girlfriend, and has no experience with women. His boss introduces Haru and the other company bachelors to prospective brides as they sit under the cherry blossoms at the annual Spring Festival picnic. As fate would have it, sitting amongst them is one of the office girls for whom Haru has developed a fantasy. In the end, Haru dutifully marries Reiko, but also begins an affair with Emily. When the financial crisis hits, Haru loses his job, and finds himself exiled to a menial sales position in far-away Akita in northern Japan. There, alone and humiliated, he wrestles with his passions and the burdens of supporting a heavy mortgage and new unknown wife back in Tokyo.

Black Rose Writing

Dreaming on an Arabian Carpet by [Martek, Igor]Kuwait is a country where the poor from around the world gather to serve the rich. Ricky, a Filipino, is among them. He left his IT job in China to forget the sudden and violent break-up with his Chinese girlfriend. Seven months on and Ricky gets a phone call from Breeze. She wants reconciliation. Alone in a foreign land, and isolated by an unfamiliar culture and religion, Ricky agrees. He is reassigned to Tripoli, Libya, and plans to meet up with Breeze along the way, in Cairo. From there the adventure begins. Through Saudi, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Kuwait, and finally back to China, Ricky and Breeze struggle with the legacies of poverty, dislocation, past loves, and family obligations, as they seek a path to their hopes and dreams. This is the tale of two people who want and need each other, but whose destinies refuse to stay intertwined.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

The Gumdrop House Affair

The Gumdrop House Affair (The Monk Mysteries Book 2) by [McKeever, Timony]

The Gumdrop House Affair, volume 2 in The Monk Mysteries, takes readers on a journey from the untimely death of Saul Greenberg, the financial officer for the Diocese, through the gruesome discovery of a horribly decomposed body no one can seem to explain, to the recurring appearance of the menacing turquoise eyes. Timony McKeever’s characters, Sergeant Jack Laskey and Father William Butler are both painfully aware of the presence and part played in the string of violent acts by the evil they refer to as “The Ugly.” Somewhere between Aunt Rhoda’s World Famous Apple Cobbler and Mona Monahan’s famed Gumdrop House lies the answer to the Laskey and Butler’s questions.

Mysteries top my preferred reading list, and The Gumdrop House Affair ranks among my favorites of recent years. Not having read volume 1 in the The Monk Mysteries, I don’t feel that I was lost. Readers need not read the first installment to fall nicely in step alongside Laskey and Butler as they struggle against “The Ugly.” McKeever does an excellent job bringing readers up to speed on his main characters’ backgrounds.

By far, the McKeever’s character, Aunt Rhoda, is my favorite among the many players in this work. Her strength and no-nonsense attitude permeates every scene in which she is featured. She is capable of curing most any ill with her frying pan alone–that includes the odd home invasion.

The Gumdrop House and its proprietor, Mona Monahan, are as unique as they are colorful. The Gumdrop House is a place of refuge and operated by Mona with open arms and no judgements. Mona is yet another of the author’s strong female characters. The account she relates of her face-to-face encounter with her grandfather, a mobster in his own right, demonstrates her tenacity.

Dialogue is one of McKeever’s most obvious strengths. The author transports readers to the scene of the crime with the colorful conversations between Laskey, Mona, Paisley Bob, and the rest of his lengthy list of players. Nowhere is this more evident than in the most violent and climactic scenes. I am not a fan of excessive profanity, but McKeever uses it sparingly enough and in the most appropriate circumstances to drive home his characters’ emotions.

Within The Gumdrop House Affair, the author intersperses an added layer of first person observations of Deputy Chief Thomas Dugan between authentic dialects and heated exchanges in order to explain his characters’ choices and actions. I truly appreciated this additional twist in McKeever’s writing. He gives his writing the feel of the classic detective novel with these ventures into the mind of one of his characters. This introspection is a welcome addition to the already engaging tale.

Fans of the mystery genre will not be disappointed with Timony McKeever’s police drama. Each of his characters has a rich personality and is portrayed in vivid detail. The multifaceted plot addresses everything from inherent evil to the corrupt dealings within the Catholic church itself. From beginning to end, McKeever’s mystery installment is laced with humor and brimming with everything that makes for an authentic and enjoyable thriller.

Pages: 266 | ASIN: B06Y4S6P44

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Sacred Secret: Take Eat: This is My Body

Sacred Secret: Take Eat: This is My Body... by [Varga, Wendy]

Have you ever wondered about the importance of communion? What really is the root of all this power the blood of Jesus is purported to have? How can human beings harness this power as God wishes?

Wendy Varga’s Sacred Secret is an in-depth analysis of the Communion. We often use blatant explanations of God’s instructions. But man is protected from all sorts of evil if he marks himself with the blood.

If faith is shallow, little is expected. People should know the limitless capabilities of God as this affects their level of faith and consequently, how impactful He will be in their life.

Wendy Varga’s passion helps to eloquently unravel many biblical mysteries. Her fervent writing had me craving to know more about communion; I found myself often referencing my bible. By the end of this book I felt that I had a better understanding of the power of the New Testament Covenant Meal. The author’s eagerness to truly understand God’s purpose for the Passover is evident. Her break down of the relation between His blood and God by use of scientific explanations is startlingly enlightening. Her insistence to not just know God, but also know Him intimately is a recurring theme. I’ve read other religious books on similar subjects, but they often only touched on this subject before quickly moving on. But it is the focal point in this book. It’s refreshing to see a book take a deep dive into one aspect of faith.

I consider this a knowledge check for anyone who knows their Bible well, but what I truly appreciated was the unique perspective in which the information is presented. Be prepared to ask yourself questions you never have before. In the end, I appreciated how this book left me reevaluating my relationship with God. This book will arm you with the knowledge and power of the blood and thus strengthen your faith. I believe that this book will unlock the potential of God’s power in your life through faith.

Pages: 156 | ASIN: B072M8R6JG

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Forgiveness and Redemption

Laura Eckert Author Interview

Laura Eckert Author Interview

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.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Just Another Girl's Story: A Memoir on Finding Redemption

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.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

A Dangerous Discovery

A Dangerous Discovery

A Dangerous Discovery by Zachary Brock is a thrilling book about two men, Ace and Zeke. Ace had rough beginnings as he grew up on the streets of Latin America and had to do things as a child that no one should have to do. However, there was a chance encounter that completely changed his life and he is now reaping the rewards.

Together with his best friend and mentor Zeke, they run an international corporation, constantly enjoying the perks of wealth, social standing and luxurious travel. A new buyout of a company in Peru should run as normal, except this specific company has a secret that the Vatican will kill to protect.

Sounds awesome, hey! It sucked me right in. I love conspiracy theories about things like this and reading this book just feeds my obsession even more. It was a page turner simply because I was hooked on the Vatican stopping at nothing to protect this secret from coming out. You eventually discover why they stop at nothing and oh boy, is it a big secret.

There are two stories going on throughout the entire book but they eventually come together in the end, so it all works out. It was initially hard for me to keep track of at some stages, but that’s probably because I was reading it so quickly. I would have appreciated a clearer break between the two storylines. I think it would have been better if one chapter focused on one storyline and then switched in the next chapter. Which would help me keep track of the story while I was furiously tearing through pages.

I enjoyed the banter between Zeke and Ace. I found it funny, especially considering that the first chapter immediately throws you into a conversation where Zeke is anxious about ‘doing a sixty-nine’ with a girl he’s on a date with. He doesn’t even know what it means but that doesn’t stop Ace from being in hysterics. Reading the banter between the two of them was like hanging out with my own friends, it was easy to read and funny most of the time. You could clearly read the bond between them, which is a sign of great writing by Brock.

The story gets dark at points, which gives the book a good contrast to the comedic banter. I really enjoyed reading this book. I hope there’s a second one. I’m giving it a 4 out of 5 stars for the clever banter and conspiracy theory that the Vatican runs the world and will stop at nothing to protect itself.

Pages: 280 | ASIN: B06XQ4ZB83

Buy Now From Amazon.com

The Seal of Confession

Picture

A Burning in the Darkness follows Father Michael serving at an airport when he becomes the prime suspect in a heinous crime. What was the inspiration to the setup to this thrilling suspense novel?

Essentially it was the opening set up/dilemma. An anonymous voice in a darkened confessional confesses a murder to Father Michael Kieh. Circumstance and evidence points to the Michael’s guilt but he remains faithful to the Seal of Confession and doesn’t betray the identity of a young witness. Michael’s dilemma is between remaining true to his ideals or saving himself from a long prison sentence.

Father Michael Kieh is an intriguing and dynamic character. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?

In relation to Michael, I often asked myself: Is it possible to be so good that it becomes self-destructive? Is it possible to have the same degree of love and imaginative sympathy for the entire human race as one’s family and not be overwhelmed? Even asking the question seems exhausting and tiresome but the answer is self-evident. You would be overwhelmed to the point of physical and psychological destruction. Yet Michael comes close to this form of destruction.

Michael’s childhood was forged in the horrors of the Liberian civil war, but he chose a life dedicated to the Good. Michael has the moral freedom and strength to be different to his environment. He was a child witness and was protected from harm so he knows the importance of the strong protecting the weak. But we all need a little selfishness to survive. And Michael certainly has a smattering of selfishness because he is not afraid to assert his need for love as a strong-willed lover. But the reader roots for Michael because he refuses to betray his higher ideals. I wanted the novel to justify Michael’s faith in the ideals of putting the needs of others who cannot protect themselves before your own needs. It’s easy to talk the talk on this, but entirely different to walk the walk when you have to make a big sacrifice.

I wanted to write a page-turner novel, but the action explores a deep morality without, I hope, being preachy and self-justifying. It’s also important to me that whether you’re a diehard atheist or fervent believer that you will be engaged by Michael’s character, dilemma and beliefs.

When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the twists come as you were writing?

I wrote a 5 or 6 page outline which I tinkered around with for a year or so, not sure if it was working as a story. This gave me the main plot and character points. It was more like what they call in the movie/TV business ‘a treatment’. I’m a film school graduate, so it was part of my training. I spoke to a close friend of mine about the story and he encouraged me to write it. (By the way, I work as a cinematographer on TV drama.)

I find a problem in well written novels in that I always want there to be another book. Are you writing another book? If so, when will it be available?

Your kind and positive response makes me want to write another. Most of my time and effort has been spent getting A Burning in the Darkness published. Michael’s story is complete so there’s no room to revisit it. I am working on an outline for another novel. Actually, mostly researching it at this point.

A Burning in the Darkness took me a good 7 years to write. That’s too long! I’d also like to write a novella in the meantime. Maybe 80 to 100 pages. I’d like to be able to do it in about 6 months, but I’m a slow writer.

Sadly I lost my wife to breast cancer 18 months ago. I have three amazing teenage children who are the best thing about my life, but being a single dad and working to keep them fed and housed takes up a lot of time. But that’s my primary responsibility. Nevertheless, my kids are also a powerful source of moral strength and determination. And somehow writers always find the time to write.

Author Website

A Burning in The DarknessA murder at one of the world’s busiest airports opens this simmering crime story where a good man’s loyalty is tested to its limits. Michael Kieh is a full time faith representative serving the needs of some of the 80 million passengers, but circumstance and evidence point to his guilt. His struggle to prove his innocence leads him on a charged journey that pitches love against revenge.

Michael’s loneliness was eased by a series of brief encounters with a soul mate. When she confides a dark secret, he is motivated to redress a heart-breaking injustice. Together they must battle against powerful forces as they edge dangerously close to unmasking a past crime. But Michael faces defeat when he chooses to protect a young witness, leaving him a burning spirit in the darkness.

Michael’s commitment to helping those in need was forged in the brutality of the Liberian civil war. Protected by a kind guardian, he too was a young witness to an atrocity that has left a haunting legacy of stolen justice and a lingering need for revenge. More poignantly there is a first love cruelly left behind in Africa because of the impossible choices of war. When Michael and his former lover find each other once again they become formidable allies in proving his innocence and rediscovering their lost love.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

God and Human Nature

João Cerqueira Author Interview

João Cerqueira Author Interview

Jesus and Magdalene follows the story of Jesus and his return to modern day Earth where he meets Magdalene who is an activist fighting for a better world. This is an intriguing setup to a novel and a unique perspective of a religious story. Why was this novel important for you to write and what was your inspiration?

Religion has played an important role in my cultural development. I was christened, I went to catechism classes, I was confirmed and I went to mass until the age of fourteen. I wanted to create something truly original, involving contemporary problems, politics, the existence of God and human nature using facts, humor, and irony. For example, the relation between Christiany and Ecology or why there are so many racial conflicts. Jesus and Magdalene don’t give answers, but present questions. Why there is so much violence? Why there is so much stupidity? Are we really so much different from other animals? My novels satirize modern society and use irony and humor to provoke reflection and controversy.

Jesus and Magdalene are biblical figures, but in your story they’re striving to make a better world as regular people. How did you handle the balance between biblical and fictional characters to make them feel real and relatable?

For me, Jesus is the most important figure in History. Jesus was the first to say that all men are equal and to question the dogmas of the temple rulers. He also saved a woman from being stoned, according to the tradition. He was a much greater revolutionary than Castro or Che Guevara. Even those who don’t believe they are influenced by Jesus’ teachings. Freedom and Equality – those are the basis of all western society. In my novel I try to describe the challenges Jesus would face if He would visit us again, 2000 years later. But,although he limits himself to accompanying Magdalene attempting only to pacify those on bad terms, even then Jesus is unable to escape the fury of mankind.

What kind of research, if any, did you do to keep the story accurate?

I read the Bible and I search for biblical studies and interpretations.

Is there a pivotal moment in the story that you feel best defines your characters?

Yes, there is a pivotal moment in the story that defines not only the characters but also mankind (in my own interpretation). A con man – Professor Kacimba – is going to recognize Jesus, while the others don’t. A swindler sees the son of God when he tried to read his hand, but the rest of people, including this modern Magdalene, only see a normal man. This is supposed to be funny and sad at the same time.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?

I am writing a novel about Communism, Perestroika and the fall of the Berlin wall. The Staline or Lenine ghost could be one of the characters. I hope to be published in the next year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Jesus returns to earth and meets activist Magdalene who is fighting for a better world. He find an extremist ecological group, which is plotting to destroy a maize plantation it believes to be genetically modified. Then, he observes the rise up against a tourist development that is to be built in a forest reserve. Finally, he witnesses an armed conflict between blacks and gypsies. However, although he limits himself to accompanying Magdalene attempting only to pacify those on bad terms, even then Jesus is unable to escape the fury of mankind. And only a conman will recognize him. Using humor, Jesus and Magdalene broaches recent phenomena of social and political conflict.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

 

Review: 50 Shades of Truth

Fifty Shades of Truth4 StarsSubtitled “a dark journey into the Light”, “50 Shades of Truth” is the story of one man’s journey through and out of the world of BDSM. Josef takes the reader through the incidents in his childhood that he feels precipitated his interest in the world of bondage and discipline and uses encounters from his 60 year journey to explain his path and the mental and emotional consequences that he is still working through.

Josef describes for the reader the life of lies and deceit that he was forced to live because of his participation in bondage. He details his encounters with transvestites, mistresses and gay men, and takes you through his thought processes during these encounters and afterward. The depth of his guilt and shame over these encounters is evident but also evident is the complete control that his urges for this type of behavior exhibited over him.

The writing in this book is top-notch. The writer’s style is clear and approachable and made the book easy to read. This book would, however, not be suitable for younger readers due to the language and the explicit descriptions of sexual scenes. Josef’s urges, as described here, feel like an addiction and as with most addictions he makes many attempts to change before finally being able to succeed with the help of a therapist. The struggle the author felt as he watched his urges destroy two marriages and several other relationships is palpable.

Josef also goes into great detail about how he views the role of the Catholic Church, where he was raised, in developing his feelings of guilt and shame about the activities which gave him such pleasure. He also goes into his views on how society’s attitudes toward sex make life more difficult for people like him. Josef points out to us the humanity of those people who are involved in the sex industry and presents them to us as people just wanting to have a life they can enjoy. Josef does not push the reader to want to participate in this world but he does push for it to be accepted by non-participants as a valid choice for an individual.

The obvious readers of this book are people who also engage in the world of bondage and enjoy reading about it. But I think this book could also be a good choice for people who would like a greater understanding of something they are not already familiar with and also for those who enjoy stories about people who struggle but find their victory in the end. Josef exposes some very ugly truths in his book and he bares his soul to his readers. I believe there are some who will take courage from this story and be able to apply that to their own lives. I tip my hat to Josef for being willing to share his story with the world and allowing his readers to make up their own minds about whether they are willing to change their viewpoints after reading it.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

ASIN: B00Z7VR406

Pages: 174

%d bloggers like this: