Intrepid continues to follow Justin Thorn as he struggles to make his way back to Earth on a damaged ship while fighting many of space’s deadly hazards. What were some themes you felt you had to carry over from Pegasus and what were some things you wanted to do differently in this book?
I wanted to expand the universe in which the story takes place by sending the crew to Mars this time instead of the moon. In Pegasus they could at least see Earth, but now they’re millions of miles from home in a crippled ship, so the perils are much greater. It increases the level of danger and makes the stakes so much higher. We’d already established in the first book that there is a scientific outpost on Mars and that Thorn’s former girlfriend is a scientist there. What would he do if he found out that she was in danger? How far would he go to try and save her? Not only is she in danger, he’s risking his life and his beloved ship to try and rescue her.
There is a rich backstory in this book, wars and dissolution have rearranged much of old Earth. How did you set about developing the backstory for this book?
Many stories set in the future feature a world that’s bleak and depressing, with people struggling to survive in a world that’s falling apart. Often the world has become a kind of a junkyard. I wanted to create a future that’s more hopeful. Even though there have been series of conflicts that brought us to this point, it’s a world where life has become much simpler. With large cities gone and the population significantly smaller, Earth has begun to repair itself, and the air and water have become less polluted. I feel it’s a more hopeful vision of the future, but not because technology has saved us, but because we’ve let nature take its course.
When developing a series, readers often know that the main character is immune from deadly danger. How did you solve this problem in your book to keep the tension high?
I knew that in order to make the danger feel real, some of the characters had to perish. I didn’t want the reader to get too comfortable with anyone because at any moment any character could be gone. Thorn himself is put in real danger several times, and I think there’s always the possibility that he could die as well, and someone else could take over as pilot and captain of his ship.
Will you continue the Justin Thorn series with a third and possibly fourth book? If so where do you want those books to take Justin?
This book was originally intended to be the third in the series. In the second one, Thorn was to come into possession of something that a lot of people want and are trying to acquire. It was supposed to be one long chase as Thorn tries to figure out why these people want this thing and how to stop them. Unfortunately, I didn’t what that thing was, so I decided to do the third book instead. It wasn’t until I was halfway through Intrepid that I realized what the object was that everyone was after, so the next book continues the story that’s set up in this one. And the third book then sets up a fourth.
All contact with the scientific outpost on Mars has been lost. The Federal Space Administration is sending the spaceship Intrepid on a desperate rescue mission, and they’ve commandeered Captain Justin Thorn’s ship Pegasus to use as a shuttle to the surface. But when they arrive on Mars, things go horribly wrong and the ship is severly damaged. Now millions of miles from home, the survivors must find a way to get themselves and their crippled ship back to Earth before their food and time run out.
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Human beings are on a cycle where obstacles seem to appear and fade only to reappear later. This is making it very difficult for progress to be effected. Human beings are having a difficult time dealing with the same age-old issues. The same hurdles over and over. The biggest cause of this is that only the symptoms of the problems are addressed. Rarely do we dig deeper to find the root cause. To really take stock of where we are as individuals and the human race in general and the journey that got us here. If you cut a plant’s stem, it will sprout again. However, if you pull the roots, it will be the last you see of it. If another similar weed does grow, it will be a completely different plant. This is the approach required to deal with the obstacles to progress.
Freequill declares right from the get-go that attempting to change the world is a big fete. He admits that the road will be bumpy and thorny. But, you will quickly realize that this road map leads to a better future, one that can calm the storm, settle the chaos and promote a more cohesive future for the human race. This daunting task is broken down into chewable tidbits. Bits that are simple enough to achieve but still highly intelligible and sensible bits to work with.
The book is quite well written. An activist piece of literature would probably throw the rules of grammar out the window but this book observes those to the letter. The sentence structure is beautiful. The tone and spirit of this book appealed to an intrinsic part of me. A part that made me want to change things. The structure and format of the book is progressive. It builds up slowly, letting the reader wet their toes first before drawing them deeper.
This is not a rant. This maybe a war cry but it is eloquent, articulate, well versed and well researched. It is obvious from the material and presentation that it took a lot of time, research, and energy to put this together. To give an accurate image of the situation and with it, an actionable plan of action.
The hardest part is the first step. This book is your first step. This book will ensure that your first step is not done in the dark. My perspective of things changed after reading this book and I felt more enlightened or, at least, informed. Caution: you will have a strong desire to do something about your new view of things. You will be compelled and provoked to take people with you on the journey. This is necessary read for every global citizen.
Pages: 234 | ASIN: B079SWY64Q
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Ken Cressman’s book, Intrepid, is a futuristic adventure set mostly in space. We follow main character, Justin Thorn, and his engineer friend, Steven Wilson, as they take on a mission they never could have seen coming. Wars have broken out over race, religion, and even sports teams, dividing the United States. Martial Law has been declared. Military branches have dissolved, and the leftover scraps have been joined together to form the Military Defense Force. Justin, a former MDF pilot, has an anti-gravity capable ship named Pegasus pieced together from former military aircrafts, and the feds want it. Justin won’t let his ship leave without him. He volunteers to set out toward Mars. The mission is unclear. They will either fix faulty communication devices, rescue the nine people on the planet, or retrieve bodies. One of the nine is Justin’s ex and the love of his life, and all they know is there has been no communication between Mars and the Space Agency for months.
This is an edge-of-your-seat kind of book. Whatever can go wrong, does go wrong. A whole different set of obstacles is present during space travel than here on earth. Gravity, anti-gravity, air pressure and breathability, depleting food and fuel levels, meteor showers. It seems like every time things start going smoothly, something goes catastrophically wrong. Between Justin and Steven, they might as well have MacGyver on board though. They put their heads together to take on every problem that arises. The problems leave you woeful for the exhausted characters, but it keeps the excitement high. Risks are high, but so are rewards.
Justin is a loveable character. He is sort of a self-made man. He was a pilot with the military, but is now self-employed. He has taken advantage of the latest technology, and has built a ship equipped with anti-gravs (anti-gravity). He basically has formed a transport service, zooming goods around the globe. He does have space experience, and that comes into play when the Mars mission presents itself. He is also loyal. He doesn’t want to take the job if it means leaving Steven, his engineer and general know-it-all and problem-solver, behind. He also feels the need to be part of the team that goes to check on Kelsey, a member of the Mars research team who is also his former girlfriend and current love. Justin bravely puts his life on the line more than once for the good of the crew and the mission.
The book is packed with cutting-edge futuristic technology. Maia is also on board. Maia is an artificial intelligence computer system. Maia is ever-present and a pivotal tool when obstacles arise. Cressman does an excellent job of explaining the more technical parts of the book, including Maia. Technological advances are broken down where someone who is not scientifically or technically inclined can understand everything easily.
The element of the unknown also plays a big role in Intrepid. Space is vast and unimaginable without a million problems. The crew has no idea what they will find when they get to Mars. Will the research team all be dead? Will they find anything at all? Will there be a simple fix to their communication equipment? Will they walk into some sort of ambush? Will anyone make it back to Earth alive? The reader will find themselves questioning every next step as they follow the crew on their mission.
Ken Cressman makes everything so relatable and readable. It is technical at times, but the technology is effectively explained. I was all but biting my nails as the story progressed. I’d like to read more Cressman work.
Pages: 286 | ASIN: B07BB6R7YR
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Jessica is excited about starting college in the fall, already enrolled at the University of Oregon. Every year for as long as she can remember, she has enjoyed spending a week camping with her father before school started, but this year is special because her best friends are coming with them. She has no way to know they will all be walking into a nightmare straight out of a horror movie.
Eighteen years before, Jessica’s mother died under mysterious circumstances right after giving birth to her. Her dad refuses to speak about it, though his eyes grow haunted every time the subject comes up. All Jessica knows is that it was a violent death. Her answers will come from a stranger, one who knows far more than he should.
Nethaniel is a Lycaeonian from the planet Laizahlia, a wolf shapeshifter. He is taking his first trip off world with his father when he runs across Jessica fly fishing at the lake. Though it shouldn’t be possible, he recognizes her immediately as his fated mate. Unfortunately, Nethaniel’s father has enemies, and three have followed them to Earth, vengeance on their minds. Jessica and her friends are considered little more than collateral damage.
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Return of the Sagan follows a bookish young man as he wrangles his crew on a mission to save Earth and humanity. What served as your inspiration while writing this story?
As a prehistoric archaeologist, I have long dreamed of exploration of the cosmos and the past. My fieldwork centered on digging into the deep past for which no written records have surfaced. I can’t begin to explain how overpowering it is to uncover mysteries through digging and analyzing artifacts. It is a job that takes considerable time and patience as if you dig to deep, you can easily destroy valuable information. We only get one shot, so we have to be careful. For those interested in archaeology, I encourage them to see if local museums or colleges are operating excavations and having volunteer days – that way you can experience archaeology and avoid damaging/losing critical information. As for studying the cosmos, my wife already told me I can’t go to Mars 😞
As for the timing of the novel, my beloved Uncle Paul Leary was battling cancer so I wrote the story with him as a main character. He was able to read some of the story before he passed. My writing could never do justice to the lovely man that Uncle Paul had always been. We all miss him terribly.
Francis is a book worm that loves to quote his favorite authors. Is this an extension of yourself or did you have to research these quotes?
Totally me. Francis is named after my brother, Francis Aloysius O’Donnell. He was my parents’ first child who died at birth. I have often wondered what he would be like. Given my brother Ned and I (along with my sisters Moe and Sandi) can quote fantasy and scifi books all day long, it just seemed to fit that Francis would also be a bookworm like the rest of us. Mom and Dad were veracious readers and constantly encouraged us to read whenever we had the chance. Probably my favorite quote all-time is from Tolkien: “not all who wander are lost.”
The re-population of some of the world’s endangered animals was beautiful to visualize. What scenes did you have the most fun writing?
The mastodons and dire wolfs. I am a prehistoric archaeologist, and my specialty is in the woodlands of North Eastern North America. The people I studied lived side by side with Mastodons and the only reasonable prehistoric predator to suit the story, prehistory and climate was the dire wolf. After the book was published was when I saw Game of Thrones, a show I adore. I got the first season as a gift and then proceeded to watch the first three seasons over the course of two weeks. I then read the books after. I wish I would have encountered GOT before I wrote my novel as I would not have included dire wolves. I have referenced other extinct species from North America in my books before, particularly giant sloth, but for a predator in SAGAN, I would just conjure up something other than wolves because of GOT, though wolves are prehistorically accurate for the area and dire wolves would really be the only predator to fit the circumstances in the story. I did very much enjoy Francis’ stand on the bridge – total throwback to the Bridge of Khazad-dum. When I was a kid, my older brother Ned was devastated when Gandalf fell in the Fellowship of the Ring. Thankfully he read the next book quickly and was ecstatic to say the least. Gandalf’s stand was just so moving. When I got to the bridge standoff in SAGAN, I couldn’t help but make that connection.
Do you think you will write more stories about the crew of the USS Carl Sagan, or continue Francis’s story in some way?
I already have plans to write the story of the initial crew of the Sagan that left Earth centuries earlier. As for Francis, I have contemplated his leading the building of a ship and a subsequent sea voyage, but I have many other projects that need to be finished first.
300 years ago, USS Carl Sagan blasted off from overpopulated Earth in search of survival. Returning to Earth, the USS Carl Sagan finds humanity now extinct and Earth populated by deadly, once extinct pre-historic predators.
What disaster eradicated mankind? Was it man-made or of natural origin? One thing for certain: survival for the USS Carl Sagan and its crew will difficult at best, as while humans are no longer inhabit the Earth , they left behind deadly machines to guard the airspace against space invaders. The commander and the crew of the returning Earth ship will have to overcome those unexpected fool-proof sentries. And the machines are not the only obstacles for the travel-weary men and women of USS Carl Sagan to overcome. If they want to re-inhabit Earth.
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In the distant future, religion is against the law, and the Earth is a war-torn world ruled by an insane United Nations. All military forces are put on high alert when an ex-bishop of the outlawed “Catholic Church” decides to steal an artifact called “The Shroud of Turin” to help save the Earth from herself. He claims to have the power to use the cloth to help bring about “The Second Coming” – but what’s even more terrifying: he might just do it!
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Returning Souls begins when 67 year old Evie is on the edge of death and her soul is sent through multiple lives. What was the inspiration for a such a dramatic setup to your novel?
I wanted bring the reader into the realm of ‘pre-incarnation’ from the start of the book. I felt it was important to begin with the emotional impact of Evie’s event in her kitchen. This beginning was also a way to move straight into her personality and way of thinking in order to introduce her and immediately engaging the reader.
When writing this book, did you conduct research into reincarnation or an after life?
In preparation for writing about near death experience I read many books about the phenomenon, as well books about children who seem to have memories of a previous life from a very early age. These experiences are more prevalent in countries where reincarnation is an accepted idea, such as India or other eastern countries, or even South American countries. In these countries, people are more receptive to listening to children talking about being another person, having another mother and father, or about memories of other places and people. They are more apt to believe and actually research things children say about places and people, rather than thinking it’s just their imagination. I began study with a shaman about a year before starting to write Returning Souls. I did not study after life, but have always believed that anything is possible.
Did you want Evie and Astara’s characters to compliment one another or did you want them to be completely different?
I wanted Astara to be a very different person. As it turned out, I believe Astara is Evie’s alter-ego, someone she might like to have been growing up, someone who had more confidence in who she is and what is right for her. In this way I feel they compliment each other, while also contrasting in so many ways.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently working on a sequel to Returning Souls; I’m not sure of the title yet, still working on some ideas. The sequel takes place entirely in the prehistoric era, and expands on the lineage of the characters introduced in Returning Souls. I hope to have it available by end of 2018.
Evie D’Arico is just like any other 67-year-old retiree until a sudden stroke puts her life in jeopardy, and catapults her soul through multiple lifetimes. After drifting through a space where time has no meaning, Evie awakens to find herself in the body and mind of someone else. She realizes she is experiencing her soul’s past life on Earth as Astara, a young girl who lived during the Mesolithic Era of human prehistory.
Evie soon melds into Astara, who has just experienced the Girl’s Coming of Age rite, a ritual of the Golden Fish tribe. On her quest, Astara saw herself as a Three Face – a powerful combination of male, female and animal elements – making her a potential spirit leader. But the Holy One of the Golden Fish tribe does not want to acknowledge another seer within his realm, especially a defiant young female Three Face. Astara is given a choice either to live as an unremarkable woman of the tribe, or to leave her home and family on an unprecedented journey into unknown territory, and establish her own following as a Three Face.
Through living a few crucial days as Astara, Evie comes away with new self-knowledge and an appreciation for the courage of the young girl she was in a past life.
She still has unanswered questions about the meaning of her current lifetime. Her soul relives Evie’s life, recalling the impact of her sister Liliana, and reliving her upbringing during the 1950s and 1960s. She meets trusted Guardians along the way who help her recognize the end results of her own actions. As the disjointed revelations of her soul’s journey come together the puzzle of her life takes on new meaning, and she is faced with the possibilities of her own future.
Evie realizes she must decide who she really wants to be. Only she can choose the next stage of her soul’s epic journey through lifetimes.
What will she choose? Who will she be?
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Have you ever met a person for the first time and upon shaking hands experience a sort of electrical shock? Ever been inexplicably drawn to a particular person or animal? Energy is the chain that connects humans to the planet, heavens, animals, plants and other humans. By sharing the earth, energy is transferred through earth’s beings. Energy is the life force of all things. Water is energy. Water can exist in many different forms, which makes it the best conductor of energy. Water is quintessential to life. Without water, man surely will, for lack of a better word, wither. In the absence of water, plants die, animals perish and air becomes ‘unbreathable’. Water keeps the earth going.
The earth has layers; lithosphere, asthenosphere, upper mantle, lower mantle, outer core and inner core. The inner core is also referred to as the solar plexus, the hot centre of the earth. These layers vary in energy frequencies. Just like the earth, humans also have layers. Layers whose energy levels also vary. The energy that surrounds a person is known as aura. Aura is a worldly womb. The strength of this aura is determined by the mind. One’s thoughts can affect and direct their energy. The earth’s energy field protects it from cosmic disasters and solar flares. By the same principle, a weak aura leaves room for unhappiness and attacks on self. Based on the energy running through a person, they can be completely attuned to the cosmos or in utter incongruence. All these frequencies travel up the body to congregate and project like a beam through the third eye. This is a spot between the eyebrows. What importance is this information to human beings? How does knowing about energy and aura beneficial to the human race?
The Book of Self: A Thesis on Energy and How It Interrelates urges on the importance of following one’s intuition. Intuition is the natural Wi-Fi allowing communication between the mind and the universe to make accurate predictions. Floyd Williams also introduces the idea of sound and color being a language. The seven colors of the rainbow are ingrained in the threads of human psychological make-up. In his opinion, these colors should be integrated in everyday life as much as possible. The author reveals the secret to freeing one’s mind. A clear understanding of energy is essential in the quest to find true selves. A man’s true potential and power lies in their ability to let their mind run free and unencumbered. This book gives a prelude to this journey. The information in this book is a prerequisite in the study of life.
This book uses easily understandable illustrations to unravel the answers to life’s questions. The author properly illustrates how to properly treat life as the gift it is. In Floyd’s terms, “Life is the gift, everything else is a blessing”. The reader’s relationship with self and the earth will be enhanced upon understanding the information in this book.
Pages: 34 | ISBN: 1973368846
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Invasion, by Roxanne Bland is a blend of werewolf, vampire, fantasy and sci-fi genres, set in the modern world. We follow Kurt, a vampire, Garrett, a mage, and Parker Berenson, the alpha of Seattle’s werewolf pack. They become bound together, despite their struggles and differences in the face of an alien invasion that brings Melera, an old flame of Parker’s, back into the mix. Mag Beloc bursts onto the scene as the real cause of the invasion, who commands a fleet of warships in pursuit of the intergalactic assassin, Melera. And so all the pieces fall into place that make for an interesting narrative as the comrades deal with the magic that binds them and the insurmountable odds of an alien invasion force on Earth.
Roxanne Bland’s novel blends many genres but, overall, follows similar beats that are pretty familiar to science fiction adventure novels. This story stays colorful with it’s interesting use of vampires and werewolves, but at the core of the story, you still have a tale of heroes struggling against one another and the external forces lining up against them.
The novels strengths lie with it’s well developed characters and their relationships rather than the premise. Kurt, Garrett, and Parker are all fun and dynamic characters. Whether it’s spicy dialogue or intriguing interactions, the well rounded characters are the most appealing aspect of this novel. Although the plot left me wanting more, these character can be anywhere and still be interesting.
The novel has a lot of telling rather than showing as well as descriptions that tend to weigh the action down, making the overall pacing slow. This is something that many readers revel in, but with a plot that involves vampires and werewolves battling aliens! I thought it would faster. I will say there are some really great action scenes as well as a steamy sex scene, so if you consider yourself mature, then this novel is for you.
All in all, if such a wild blend of genres is your thing then this is the book for you. Science fiction fans may find themselves most at home in this world, but fantasy fans will want in as well. Either way, Invasion is sure to please pulp readers of all stripes.
Pages: 305 | ASIN: B0774LYZT9
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The LGBTQ Meditation Journal offers contemplative spiritual adventures to enhance confidence and tranquility. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Your question necessitates a brief history of the Meditation Journal genesis.
Mary Sheldon originated The Meditation Journal concept, back in the mid-1990s. By the end of that decade, three highly successful books of guided meditations had been published, namely, The Meditation Journal, Meditations for the Twenty-first Century, and Meditations on Relationships.
Our first three volumes flew out of Costco and Target stores nationwide, as well as traditional bookstores. We were surprised by their immediate success. For a while, we considered a fourth volume, Meditations for Teenagers, but for various reasons, the book never happened.
Five years ago, Christopher signed on with Laura Baumbach’s MLR Press, a publisher of primarily LGBTQ fiction, and he has subsequently written three novels and four short stories for the Press.
Ever since becoming an MLR Press author, I have thought about an LGBTQ Meditation Journal. In the summer of 2016, at Mary Sheldon’s housewarming party, I asked my non-LGBTQ co-author, if she would write it with me. She said, “Yes!” and soon thereafter, I pitched the book to Laura Baumbach. The publisher greenlighted the project and then blessed us with her amazing Executive Editor, Kris Jacen, as our editor.
When trying to improve any area of our lives, Mary Sheldon and I turn to the real and eternal, namely the spiritual, rather than to the erroneous and temporal, to wit, the material. So, for the both of us, it is organic to improve all of the conditions of our lives with the metaphysical discipline of meditation.
So, it follows that it was important for us to help others help themselves by using the same spiritual approach that we use effectively in our own lives.
But even though the LGBTQ Community was our focus, we were determined to write guided meditation adventures that could benefit everyone, LGBTQ, or not.
I felt that there was a focus on self-love and acceptance in this book. What were some themes you tried to capture while writing?
Yes, self-acceptance and self-love are essentials for healthy, successful living. We both believe that everything made by the Creator originated spiritually and perfectly. And so, Christopher and I ask readers to employ a spiritual perspective when using our meditation adventures. We ask everyone to think of themselves as the perfect, spiritually-created, externalized ideas of the Creator’s making, and not as the flawed material beings reflected in the mirror. Our point of view reflects Divine Science rather than Earth’s limited material sciences.
And, regardless of the current conditions in their lives, we want everyone to know they have value and worth; quite simply, they matter.
After reading this book I felt that my open-mindedness of the world was reinforced. What do you hope readers take away from this book?
We hope readers will open their minds and hearts, and come to an understanding that self-acceptance, love, peace, pride, and dignity are essential. And we want them to know that if these qualities are now in short supply, our guided meditation adventures are one excellent method of enhancing them.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
Christopher and I would like to write The Children’s Meditation Journal.
Of course, winning a contract for such a book is largely contingent on the current book being successful.
Right now, Christopher is in edits with the second volume in his series of Minnow Saint James Metaphysical Adventures novels. It is named The Coming of Beth, and it will be MLR Press published in the first half of next year.
For the fourth in their highly successful series of guided meditations books, Christopher Stone and Mary Sheldon focus upon the LGBTQ Community, offering a month’s worth of contemplative spiritual adventures to enhance confidence and tranquility while inspiring self-acceptance, love, peace, pride, and dignity. Edited by Kris Jacen, the book explains the process of focused attention known as meditation and it offers a simple relaxation technique to induce a meditative state of mind.
Editor’s Note for eBook readers: For those that do look at page counts between print and ebook files, there is a big discrepancy between the print and ebook editions of this journal in PDF format. Don’t worry, you are not missing any content. The difference is that the print version of the book contains space to note several months observations for each meditation.
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