Blog Archives

Local Lives in a Global Pandemic

Local Lives in a Global Pandemic is a thought-provoking compilation of stories conveying the real-life experiences of the residents of North Central Florida. Readers get an honest look at what different residents of Florida experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The book includes interviews from an array of people, from a local inmate, to medical personnel, a retired resident and many more. Readers also see how these resident dealt with the loss of loved ones due to COVID-19, showing just how different our experiences were during the peak of the pandemic.

This illuminating memoir is a powerful read that took me on an emotional rollercoaster since we are all still recuperating from the pandemic. During the lockdown many of us felt alone, but reading this book showed me that we were all going through the isolation together. I enjoyed reading about the medical personnel and their thoughts and experiences since they were at the front line witnessing the affects of COVID-19 and putting their lives at risk. While some people finally found the time to take a break and reconnect with themselves, others were unfortunately separated from their friends and families and some even lost the lives of their loved ones. The constant state of isolation and agony was mutual and this book has preserved that struggle not only for the victims and survivors to read, but for future generations as well.

This is an evocative and relevant collection of true stories that will help readers work through the grief brought on by COVID-19 and sympathize with other individuals who suffered in different ways. Eloquent, emotional and elevating this is a collection of stories that must be told, should be heard, and opens your eyes to the kaleidoscope of pain that the pandemic brought to our lives. While this can be deeply emotional the stories also let us know that we are not alone, even when it feels like it.

Pages: 247 | ASIN: B09JYP7GWZ

Buy Now From Amazon

You Find Out Who Your True Friends Are

Robert John DeLuca Author Interview

The Covid Kid follows a young adult in his first year of college who has all his plans turned upside down with the emergence of COVID. What made you write a story about this topic?

The pandemic had such an overwhelming influence on us all. I simply could not ignore the impact on my upbeat protagonist, who always seems to come out okay in the end but never takes the straightforward path. Placing the most important person in his life at risk with COVID, under circumstances that might have been attributable to him, created suspense and concern for my readers. 

Marshall’s plans for his first year of college change dramatically, and he has to adapt to many changes. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Boiled all the way down, it is a critical part of the maturation process from childhood to adult. Thankfully, most kids ease into adulthood without facing major trauma on the way, but they will have to deal with it at some point in their lives.

Marshall lived an admirable life with a sincere concern for others. I wanted to show that even the very best have problems, but his faith and perseverance won out in the end.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The pandemic was very serious business and should not be taken lightly, as it was by many young people. Marshall lost friends close to him and realized COVID must be dealt with seriously. Financial pressure can turn almost anyone to compromise their ideals and sworn allegiances, even a Hippocratic oath. When adversity rears its ugly head, you find out who your true friends really are.

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

My next book in the Marshall Morris series is “The Battle of Sam Jacinto”.  (Yes, “Sam”) Marshall aligns himself with a group of old vets who rally with slingshots and baseball bats at the planned destruction of a Vietnam era local hero statue for a shopping center. In the process he forgets the proliferation of slavery advocated by many of the monuments and impact on his girlfriend African American Mallory. The one after that with a working title of “Hugs and Drugs” is about half written. Hopefully out in time for Christmas.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Texas high school graduate Marshall Morris is set to enter college when the COVID pandemic explodes into his life. Usually unsinkable, he is shaken but endures his “prison-like” quarantine with good cheer, thanks mostly to long chats with girlfriend Mallory.
The devastating loss of senior citizen war veteran buddies who survived combat bullets, but not this bug, leads him to become grimly serious about the pandemic, and he rails against young people who refuse to take precautions. His worst fears are realized when his precious mother is struck down by the dread disease, which he is certain he gave to her.
Though she worsens in an ICU he is unable to visit. He tries to keep busy working at a struggling real estate company. The owner, desperate for cash, becomes the middleman. in a bizarre international scheme to inject a bogus miracle cure into COVID patients at a local hospital. Marshall is shocked to learn the surely fatal drug will be given to his mother. He must get to her ICU before it is too late. The hospital’s COVID ward is a fortress. Can he get to her in time?

The Covid Kid: Another Marshall Morris Adventure

Robert John DeLuca’s The Covid Kid follows the misadventures of Marshall Morris, who we encounter as a high school student embarking on his first year at college. Having won an enviable football scholarship, Marshall expects his college experience to be full of sport and socializing — yet the encroaching presence of an unfamiliar virus threatens everything. As fear and tensions surrounding the virus continue to build, Marshall must decide what sacrifices he is willing to make for the good of his friends and the wider community. In the face of worldwide tragedy and conflicting opinions, the value of friendship is made clearer than ever before — something that the carefree Marshall must learn the hard way.

With its warm and humorous cast of teenagers, alongside ambitious antagonist Tommy Kinder, The Covid Kid encourages its readers to laugh ruefully at the hijinks and efforts of its characters — efforts which frequently backfire. There is a vein of tragedy that runs alongside this comic adventure, however — set during the rise of Covid-19, this story does well at balancing fun action with thoughtful commentary.

While I enjoyed the story, I felt that there were moments when we’re given a lot of exposition, and are told things about characters rather than shown. Otherwise, Marshall is a likable character that readers will enjoy following and the plot is compelling. The dialogue is straightforward and and delivers facts in a reporter-style of speech that serves an educational purpose, as characters’ fearful discussion of the impact of the virus marks a particular point in human history.

The Covid Kid successfully explores the effects of Covid-19 on society, particularly the younger generation. This is a compelling medical thriller that is as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Pages: 284 | ASIN: B09XWFMPR3

Buy Now From Amazon

There Will Be Another Pandemic

Hugues F Batsielilit
Hugues F Batsielilit Author Interview

COVID-19 AFRICA, HAITI, AND THE U. S. VIRGIN ISLANDS helps separate the truth from myth and misinformation that has been rampant since the onset. What were your goals in writing this book?

The goal of writing this book was to start a conversation about the negative impact the denials and distortion of the COVID-19 deadly virus had on populations and countries at large. The COVID-19 outbreak will not be stopped for one fraction of a second by delusional denials, distortion, or ruse; instead, it will only be defeated by strictly unbiased measures that prevent its spread while at the same time allowing people to live productive lives.

China and some other more developed countries have been able to slow the spread of COVID-19 by acting objectively and enforcing proven effective measures such as lockdowns of homes and enforced closures of city and regional borders (known as cordon sanitaire). These measures, although stringent, are highly effective.

What are some takeaway you hope readers leave with after finishing this book?

The hard-core reality is that even if COVID-19 eventually goes dormant or the world’s populations reach protective herd immunity levels, there will be another pandemic, another epidemic that will rage out-of-control crosses borders, is spread by travelers, and becomes a pandemic. Epidemics and pandemics are part of our world. Travel and the transport and domestication of animals keep disease and vermin spreading throughout the world.

This means:

First, the only pragmatic solutions are to learn from past incidents, cull best practices from other countries, adopt them, and share knowledge, techniques, methodologies, and strategies.

Second, increase and guarantee funding (with accountability measures and enforcement processes) for PPE and medical equipment must be available.

Third, establish accountability measures to make sure data is gathered, reported, and corroborated honestly both within the country and with other nations.

Also, Africa, Haiti, and USVI must put aside false pride in reporting data that makes them look good. Such reporting is to the detriment of their people, as inaccurate reporting stymies any aid for which they may qualify from international sources.

Last but not least, if governments in African nations, Haiti, and the USVI will use the suggestions made herein along with others that are equally viable, the problems with delusional myths and denial of disease existence and transmission will be controlled and have less of an effect on population compliance with public health prevention measures.

They will be better prepared to respond to and survive the next pandemic; such as the omicron virus.

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

The books I am writing now are the responses to the urgent need to provide a comprehensive overview of cancer and contagious diseases impact within the African population.

The two books offer an analysis of the diseases, specifically cancer diseases in African countries, with the awareness that even though there may have many correlates, there are also discrepancies in the prevailing cancer disease conditions.

Africa is home to 54 recognized sovereign states and countries, 9 territories, and 2 de facto independent states with the second largest population in the world with 1.29 billion (after Asia), scattered over the vast Africa land, and presently, 60% more Africans die from cancer diseases than succumb to malaria, and the number of cancer deaths is widening at an awful pace.

The information laid down on those forthcoming books will be a step toward self-awareness and will also present a foundation for informed improvement in the current health sector systems along with an approach by which African countries may learn from more in reciprocal action to the need for proper knowledge of disease and improvement prevention process.

It’s hoped that these approaches will give the reader an attitude towards cancer and infectious diseases that will be relevant whatever the nature of an agent and the type of contagious disease could occur.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website | LinkedIn

In his travels, Dr. Hugues Fidele Batsielilit, has worked with health clinics and public health programs in professional capacities observing the intersectionality of the human condition, government, technology, politics, and disease. His observations have provided first-hand knowledge of how healthcare systems and health outcomes are impacted when proper consideration is not given to the needs of citizens and governments do not prioritize health. He has witnessed the effects and impacts of poverty and unjust economic strategies upon the health of unsuspecting populations. COVID-19 shone a bright light on the inequities within economic structures, health, and overall life in general existing in many countries. Batsielilit follows that light, exploring how politics, myth, rumor, and superstition coalesce with poor health infrastructure allowing death and disease to flourish.

My COVID Story

Zachary Ryan
Zachary Ryan Author Interview

Camp Afterlife follows a teen who overdoses and ends up at a camp that gives him one last opportunity to find peace before moving on. How did you come up with the idea for the camp in this story?

Honestly, it was my Covid story. I had been hospitalized with Covid right when the pandemic happened. Everyone said I should write a Covid novel, but I didn’t want to. I liked the idea of when you die that you go to camp. It made me happy to believe that is what could happen. It gave me some comfort with the afterlife.

What were some emotional obstacles you felt were important for Gus to face in this story?

I think the biggest issue was that everyone isn’t out to get him. I felt like he felt so alone in the world and no one cared for him. I wanted Gus to figure out that he had people in his life that truly loved and cared for him.

What is a common misconception you feel people have about loss and grief?

I think that it goes away with time. I lost my brother twelve years ago to suicide, and those emotions never really go away. You just learn to deal with it. That was why I loved the dynamic of the brothers.

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

My next novel is called Missed Calls. It will be out in February. It’s about the rise and fall of a friendship over the years and how politics can ruin friendships sometimes.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

Camp After life is a place for the lost, broken souls to find peace with their damaged lives before they walked through the door to Heaven. Gus dealing with the death of his brother and his relationship crumbling, came to this camp with way too many scars on his heart.

Meeting kindred souls like himself, Gus began to heal at Camp Afterlife. All thanks to his friends and blossoming relationship with Luis. This makes him pause, were Gus’s best days actually the ones after he took his final breath? Or will the guilt of his mistakes during his life going to cause him to self-destruct once more?

Trying To Hide A Dead Body

Michael A. Greco
Michael Greco Author Interview

A Labyrinth for Loons follows a man who’s stuck in Malaysia during a COVID lockdown and begins to question his own identity. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?

This story was unique in that I really had no idea where it was headed. At first, I was simply going to chronicle daily life, as I was genuinely stuck in KL (from February to September of 2020) and couldn’t return to Japan—as I had to babysit the cat. The daily diary turned stale, though, and since I do write fiction, I began running ideas through my head on how to turn this predicament into something more adventurous than it actually was.

The set-up for the story, the characters, the location—it’s all true, as that’s where I was living. The cadaver that comes along, of course, is fiction. I’m not sure if this qualifies as an “idea” but I’d simply always wanted to write about a protagonist trying to hide a dead body—one that would not cooperate. I mean, what writers, don’t, right?

The chaos with the travel visa was inspired by a novel I read in May of 2020 called Transit by Anna Seghers. The issue of identity that plagues the lead, Leonard Smith, may have developed some from another novel I read that summer, The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. And all the nihilism that permeates the story—well, that’s just me. But I’d be grossly misleading if I also don’t mention the impact of House of Leaves by Mark Daneilewski. (Hence, the minotaur.)

Leonard Smith goes on a transformative journey. Is this intentional or incidental to the story you wanted to tell?

I’d say that Smith’s journey is the story and everything else is incidental. As he struggles with the act of assuming the identity of someone who has died, he slips into a kind of psychosis, exacerbated by his isolation. He begins to see the cadaver that he’s agreed to store in his living room cupboard as not dead at all. What’s really happening is that he’s questioning his own reason for living, and this question must be answered by his metaphorical minotaur. His understanding of the influences of religion impacts his journey, too—the Islam of his host country and of the other characters; the Buddhist ideas within the Donovan song There is a Mountain, and his attempt to understand why the mountain disappears and then returns—a realization that comes from an understanding of oneself.

I find that authors sometimes ask themselves questions and let their characters answer them. Do you think this is true for your character?

Yes, definitely. Leonard Smith’s questions are mine. He’s on a journey, and his inner struggles with identity and core beliefs lead to a kind of psychotic crash. He survives it and comes away with a more contemplative outlook on his world.

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

The next book is a sequel to my first novel called The Cuckoo Colloquium. I’m not sure what we’re going to call it, but it’ll be out on Amazon in January of 2022.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

A Labyrinth for Loons by [Michael Greco]

Writer Leonard Smith wants to go home, but he’s stuck in Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur during Covid lockdown, and the airlines seem haphazardly selective about who flies and who doesn’t, based on the type of travel visa one holds.

While waiting for the opportunity to get out, Leonard agrees to look after the belongings of another tourist—the Kiwi—who’s committed suicide. The dead man, also a writer, has written a bizarre manuscript concerning real-life accounts of a brutal minotaur housed within a labyrinth. Before he realizes it, Leonard finds himself in custody of the embalmed corpse, storing the dead man until he can be transferred for burial in another city.

Through a bureaucratic screw-up, Malaysian authorities confuse Leonard with that of the deceased Kiwi—who possesses just the right kind of visa. Is Leonard capable of assuming the false identity of the dead man for a chance to go home?

Getting desperate while holed-up with a wily cat, a 13-year-old house guest who could possibly be homicidal, and a dead man in the closet—that at times doesn’t seem all that dead—Leonard slips into profound questions of his own identity.

The only way to find answers is in the labyrinth—where the minotaur waits.

Buy Now From B&

Chasing the Surge

Chasing the Surge: Life as a Travel Nurse in a Global Pandemic by [Grover Nicodemus Street, Sandra de Abreu Guidry-Street, Ja-ne de Abreu]

This pandemic has been strewn with misconceptions from the vaccines, to the medications that could “cure”, to the ways we infect others with the virus. The truth comes to light through the eyes of an American travelling nurse, Grover Nicodemus Street, in Chasing the Surge. Mr. Street, a former US Air Force Trauma Nurse who now travels America working in hospitals in almost every kind of medical scene imaginable, recounts his day-to-day life during the first year of the pandemic. He talks about his up-close and personal experience with the virus, what he and his family went through to survive, and the emotional struggles he went through as a person in the medical field. Mr. Street explains in detail the importance of wearing a mask, sanitizing and distancing; teaching us what happens to our family and friends who disregarded these safety measures. During his recount of the past year, he has described multiple times how this pandemic is a war in and of itself.

This compelling medical memoir is conveyed in a diary-like structure. The timeline of the story jumps around, from a hectic hospital setting into Mr. Street’s childhood. This disrupts the straightforward narrative and instead we’re given a story that is well balanced between some heavy emotional subjects with some lighter ones. It creates a less depressing atmosphere and lets us get to know Mr. Street, what his motives are for sticking around during this crisis, and why he is an incredible nurse.

The story is fast-paced, and for the most part it covers lots of activity that keeps readers engaged. The story does have some medical jargon that makes the book feel authentic but could go over the head of a layman, but the author does explain the less well-known terms and phrases to help his readers along.

This is an amazing and endearing story that is sure to address people’s questions and insecurities about the pandemic. If you are still stuck at home, you should learn a little bit about why that is. This book is an absolute must-have on your nonfiction reading list this year.

Pages: 280 | ASIN: B08VMG8YM1

Buy Now From B&

Parenting in a Pandemic

If we said 2020 was anything less than an incredible strain on all of our lives, we would be deemed as liars of the worst possible kind. Parenting in 2020 changed in what, quite literally, felt like an instant. Overnight, parents across the world were suddenly tasked with educating their children, finding ways to provide social interactions for them, and explaining to them why their world had turned upside down. Life during the pandemic of 2020 has impacted parents everywhere in ways most cannot sufficiently put into words. Despite the mania created by the Covid-19 pandemic, there are ways for families to cope and move forward with life–ways to create a new, and hopefully, temporary normal.

Liz Bayardelle, author of Parenting in a Pandemic: A Parent’s Guide to All the Roles We Have to Play in the Era of Covid-19, takes a closer look at the impact the pandemic of 2020 has had on parents with school-aged children and the multiple roles they have assumed. While providing examples along with hints for successfully addressing their children’s many needs, the author uses well-intentioned and appropriately proportioned humor to lighten an otherwise somber mood and dense subject matter.

As a teacher and parent of a 2020 high school graduate, I more than appreciate Bayardelle’s candor. From the practical advice for staying healthy and following suggested health guidelines to ideas for time management, the author covers all necessary bases and provides solid, easy-to-follow advice that can be instantly applied in the home.

Not enough can be said for Bayardelle’s use of humor. There has been very little opportunity for smiles and laughter over the last year. It has been difficult to find moments of levity when trying to balance fear with daily routines and the barrage of changes with a craving for normalcy. Bayardelle’s willingness and efficiency with lighthearted moments placed strategically throughout the text helps readers face the challenges of our new reality with a little less grimness.

Parenting in a Pandemic is the book we all needed and for which we never dreamed we would have to search. Bayardelle breaks down a tremendous amount of information in a short, well-organized, and engaging read. I highly recommend Bayardelelle’s guide to any parent looking to navigate the waters of parenting in this pandemic while waiting patiently on a return to what may be our new normal.

Pages: 148 | ISBN: 1950328813

Buy Now From B&

%d bloggers like this: