Friends of the Tsar is inspired by your personal experiences and your family history. Why was this an important book for you to write?
The diversity of my knowledge, which was given to me by spirit, was something too important to have lay dormant. The knowledge I accrued from many camping and four wheel driving trips was gained through life and death situations I encountered. If, by getting this information out to the world could save just one life, then I will have had good reason to write it.
The many miracles that kept my family and I safe on these learning adventures were so profound in that they were logic-defying, and I thought what better way to tell of my miracles than through an Australian character who entertained the Zuckschwerdts, my grandparents, with the narratives while snowed in.
What were some things that you felt had to stay true to real life and what were some things you took liberties with?
I felt that the horrific conditions in which my grandparents were successful in decamping from Russia had to stay true to life, also their personality.
I took liberties with the negative aspects of their plight because it would have been too depressing for a reader to continue reading. Too many family members were murdered by the Bolsheviks.
I also wanted to honour them with an acknowledgement of their plight after which they were positive in the rebuilding of their future together.
I felt like faith and family were important in the book. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this book?
The pivotal themes I wanted to capture were miracles, spiritual awareness, hope, danger awareness in nature, remembering ones heritage, and faith and family.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
My mother, on the other side, wants me to write children’s books. My previous vocation as artist allows me to illustrate the books myself, and my eagerness to encourage young people to speak up when put in danger, especially when dad’s driving is too scary, strengthens my resolve.
It won’t be until this time next year that a book would be ready for publication, should I decide to do so.
1917–The Russian Revolution. Danger and chaos abound, and the aristocratic Zuckschwerdt and Orloff families are desperate to escape to safety. Enter Blue, an Australian cattle-breeder with a big heart. Blessed by a heap of miracles from the Outback and beyond, he shares his gripping adventures with the snowed-in families. Blue has survived everything from bushfires to crocodile attacks.
With wolves and winter nipping at their heels, the Zuckschwerdts prepare to depart for the lucky country. Plunged into hostilities and espionage in Petrograd, they make a break for the high seas, only to find themselves in a deadly game of bluff with a German U-boat skipper.
Blue is in a predicament of his own when three of the Orloff daughters fall for his red earth charms. Will he find true love with one of them? And will his Aussie anecdotes help the family understand that awareness and preparation can spell the difference between life and death? As miracles begin to unfold, the Russian refugees discover the power of faith.
Inspired by Jon de Graaff’s personal experiences and his grandparents’ family history, ‘Friends of the Tsar’ is a thrilling tale. Spiked with humorous twists, tragic turns, perilous encounters, and life-saving lessons of survival. It offers spiritual insights into forgiveness and unconventional love.
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The author of “The Odds of Gods: Why Christians Should Never Tell Lies”, Rush O.C. Campbell, starts out his narrative in a no-nonsense manner that is as efficient as it is descriptive. We get to know the characters that are important to the story, one by one, and in much detail, through a semi-predictable pattern. In fact, by the 20th character description, it begins to feel a little more like a character reference guide meant to be referred to later as you are reading through the story. Once the character descriptions are finished, however, the reader is in for a nice surprise.
The style of writing employed in this book is perfect for anyone who loves theater and film. Instead of building up atmosphere and nuances for the reader through sensory connections and context clues, the setting, room descriptions, facial expressions, tone of voice, direction of speech, and pretty much every other useful bit of information is conveniently laid out for the reader to see. The writing actually feels a bit more like a screenplay than a novel, and there are a lot of readers who will certainly appreciate the tact and skill employed by the author.
An interesting aspect of the book is that Campbell is writing about real people, in the real world. There is very much a sense of realism and humanity in the conversations that take place, and the based-on-true-events story invites readers into the world of the author.
The reader follows Rashman, a Jamaican-English man, and several other characters through a series of conversations relating to the common perception of Christianity and how things might not be quite as simple as many make them out to be. In fact, the book is intended to pave the way to a renewed process of thought towards the Bible and is full of notions meant to bring believers the salvation they so fully crave. The story is interesting, takes many twists and turns, and the character relationships and interactions are rich and engaging. Rashman is a man sure about his beliefs and following him through this story is certainly unique and thought-provoking at the same time.
To rate “The Odds of Gods: Why Christians Should Never Tell Lies,” by Rush O.C. Campbell, one would have to consider the content. The book is definitely entertaining and immersive. The subject matter is certainly for a very specific audience, however, and the subject matter is nothing short of heavy. If you are a follower of the Christian faith and feel yourself prepared to challenge your current perceptions of how well you are following the teachings of the Bible, this book is definitely for you.
Pages: 288 | ASIN: B07NB13JLT
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The comforting aroma of fresh baked-and-buttered bread. The hearty spice of cinnamon-oatmeal bars and hot coffee. In 1912 Ohio, The Amish Charm Bakery is the sweet sustaining center of a faith-abiding town built on peace, forgiveness—and ever-surprising love . . .
Ellie Graber couldn’t be happier working at Amish Charm—and making good on a precious chance to reunite with her Amish community. Grief over her mother’s death made her rebel and try the Englischer world, but now she’s home to start again. And quiet, thoughtful Joel Wenger is one of the few willing to understand her as their unexpected friendship develops into something much more . . .
But no matter how hard Ellie tries, Joel’s mother resolutely refuses to approve of her—much less accept her as a potential daughter-in-law. And as painful misunderstandings and a beautiful rival for Joel’s affections threaten to separate the couple for good, can they bridge the gap between distrust and faith to secure a lifetime of love?
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A pastor is faced with a dilemma when his twin nephews, sons of his only brother, cry out to him for help. Faced with all kinds of strange happenings and unnatural events in their house due to their parents adherence with the occult; the childrens fears push them to break a pact of silence established by their father regarding the secrets of their household.
How can Ace help his nephews without letting the dark forces that torment their lives affect his own family? The more he struggles to help the twins, the more the Secret Society to which the boys parents belong rage their war of evil upon him. Only a living God could help Ace overcome this war and emerge victorious. But will he; Ace Cadman, have the courage to step into the supernatural realm beyond the curtain of time when his God calls him on the scene?
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Voyages is a collection of poetry that inspires reflection while also helping readers grasp a deeper meaning of poetry. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Voyages was my way of showing to the world how I perceive the everyday things that go unnoticed. My philosophy coupled with my thoughts in order to point out some universal truths about human nature. The collection is almost like a guide which will take anyone through their teenage years and relive their memories.
What is a theme you find yourself drawn to when writing?
I believe in the abundant goodness that lies in every person. Luck always guides you to be someone greater than yourself. The infinite energy of the cosmos brings balance and harmony to our thoughts, if we allow them to. Every day promises new opportunities which help us move higher and these are the themes I deal with. My writings have inspiration and love.
One of my favorite poems from the collection is ‘Prayers Alive in Hope’. What is your favorite poem from the collection?
Wow! Thanks. “Prayers Alive in Hope” is indeed one of my best poems. My favorite poem would be “Heavens Face”. It was written when I was 15 years old after reading Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist”.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next book will be VOYAGES Volume II – A Collection of Short Stories available end 2019/early 2020. I occasionally release small short story booklets and one such has already been published titled “A Rural Coincidence” which is available on Amazon. The next short story booklet will be released on Mother’s Day titled “The Farewell”.
Voyages Volume I is a collection of poems written to break the notion that poetry is an art comprehensible only by the elite. Understanding good poetry becomes easy when there is a guide to help understand all those complicated words and lines. Keeping in mind the feelings of the reader, a small quotation has been provided at the end of each poem, carrying a message of what the preceding lines were all about. This style of writing has been chosen as most of the time we fail to understand that poetry is very much a part of our life.
Whether it be sharing good wishes everyday on social media or going through some lovely quotations to uplift our moods, life is just one big book of poetry that we refuse to understand in popular culture. Just like a ship embarks on a voyage, searching and exploring new continents through vast reaches of the ocean; our life too embarks on a journey of adventures which are best described in poetry. I believe this collection would be able to help readers appreciate poetry as a whole and live up to every possible expectation.
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Through a fun, interesting, educational and thought-provoking story this work describes the role of religion in the world and many of the ancient approaches that exist about the role of God in the lives of people. This is Roger’s coming into the world and his affair with Juan, who never thinks about all the things that were going to happen with his unexpected visit. The book also has some fictional episodes, seeking to reflect on what is important in life and the most important lessons God has for each of us.
This book is primarily a teaching tool aimed at readers interested to know more about the established foundations of major religions in the world, its origins, more powerful beliefs and conceptual differences between them. Similarly, this book talks about specific situations in life that people go through and how God can act to make positive changes in each. On the other hand, it has many stories that invite you to think of the most complex questions that can be had in religion.
This book gives the reader a tour of an adventure between John, Roger, Laura, Luis and Horacio, who live their own conflicts and how God can positively impact each of them. Dr. Chapunoff has captured a mix of emotions, truths and feelings between God and the most important representatives of the religions of the world, who talk about the strengths and weaknesses. Each gives the reader a deeper understanding. Each of these sketch the conceptual differences and tolerance zones that have allowed them to coexist since ancient times to the present.
This book delves into the nature of miracles, which can exist at the same time, and may be the result of religious practices. The beautiful, controversial and incredible power of God above all things is a pointed underlying theme throughout this book. It highlights the magic that exists between the unbelieving human and goodness of the almighty God, who is always present and accompanying all people, without distinction. This is an otherworldly book with earthly ramifications.
Pages: 209 | ASIN: B07DTKM57S
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The Golden Cage: From Entrapment to Empowerment is a motivational self-help book penned by Margot Zaher. Zaher uses her “golden cage” metaphor to explain how people get themselves trapped in relationships, careers, etc. that they find hard to escape from. She explains that leaving those “safe” cages may lead to better outcomes for those stuck inside. Zaher helps take some fear out of taking that first doozy-of-a-step. She will give courage to the frightened and hope to the hopeless. She will hold readers by the hand and lead them right out of their comfort zones. She gives a guide on how to break free from traps and become empowered, as the title suggests.
Zaher exposes her own wounds for the benefit of others. That’s a brave and scary thing to do. Readers will appreciate her vulnerability. People will identify with Zaher’s turmoil and her struggle to step out on a limb and leave the familiar. The scenarios found in the book are relatable. Everyone has a regret. It may be staying in a relationship too long for the sake of “security,” staying in a miserable job because of fear, or staying stagnant because of the fear of change.
I think the book would probably work best as a daily devotional sort of read. I think it can be most effective in that capacity. Otherwise, it may feel redundant and repetitive. Taking a bit at a time to ruminate on would be better than reading it through like a novel. It is a book to work through, not a book to fly through. There are some open ended thoughts that require reflection and contemplation. This makes the read more of an interactive experience for the reader.
Speaking of devotional, I appreciate Zaher’s openness toward a higher power. Most devotional books I have read were pretty narrow as far as their references toward God. I like that Zaher leaves room for anyone to be able to read this book. She refers to God as God, higher power, source of life, etc. She helps to give advice and direction to readers without trying to dictate their personal beliefs. This is refreshing in this kind of book.
Margot Zaher bravely gives us her innermost thoughts, feelings, and struggles to pore over and relate to. The book is great for “thought for the day” passages if taken in its short sections. Zaher bursts through the myth of false security to show readers the brighter future they can discover if they are brave enough to shake off their chains.
Pages: 142 | ASIN: B07HVJ7V4J
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Some time ago, I advanced to a new level of spiritual transformation consisting of awareness and consciousness. Many things transpired to enhance my level of consciousness and lead me to a new journey of refined cosmic consciousness. This is where spirit began to speak to me about the things I had encountered through my life’s journey. The sexual, physical, and emotional abuse traumas in my life became a way for me to help others in this world.
I had to heal myself first to help others, and it is through that healing that I became consciously aware that I was a natural healing vessel. All my traumas served to give me strength for my own spiritual journey. I now share my gift with the world to help other overcome their traumas and the negative experiences in their lives and to teach people how to thrive in this world instead rather than exist. To bring forth this information, I knew that I must speak truth, and fear could not play a part in this healing process.
In my book, I share a variety of examples that are real life-related events, and how each negative event created negative brain patterns. Negative experiences can be transformed into positive brain patterns which create a healthier way of living, and open spiritual pathways toward higher consciousness.
It feels great to be in a state of awareness, and consciousness to know where my life is heading. The things that impacted my life that kept me closed up for so many years no longer have a hold on me. It wasn’t always that way. I had taken on victim energy, and through my transformation, I learned how to release this energy and regain my power. Overcoming these traumas has opened my heart to sharing information as a healing tool for many other people.
My goal is to reach and transform as many lives as possible to awaken other people to this same level of consciousness, one soul at a time tarting with mine. I am inspired and motivated by the outer realms of my mind that which I see but may not yet be visible to others. I try to stay open at all times to receive new information to deliver to those who are open to new possibilities and want to receive healing for the body-mind-spirit.
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The Labyrinthine Journey follows Evan on his continued quest to locate a sacred object and stop the advent of Christianity? What were some themes you wanted to bring over from book one and what were some new ideas you wanted to explore?
I wanted to explore the concept of what if Christianity never happened, and what events may have prevented the birth of Christ. What if the Greek gods were to learn they would be superseded by a single divinity? How would they react and what would they do? Are their powers omnipotent or are they impeded by restrictions and what are they? This is what I wanted to delve into in the trilogy, and offer an alternative. If Christ wasn’t born, then which deity would prevail?
The main theme is self-enlightenment, growing and learning from experiences whatever the challenges or situation. As each book is written, it is my hope Evan and his companions continue to grow and become more self-aware and enlightened. Destiny is another theme I wanted to explore and develop further in each book. Was Evan destined to be the hero, go back to his past and prevent the rise and birth of Christ? Or does his destiny and the world’s change once he makes a decision or when he acts? Is he controlled by forces that he cannot see or feel? In essence, I wanted to explore the idea of whether destiny shapes who we are, how we think and what we do. Family was another theme I wanted to include, Evan is very close with his parents and deceased sister, and mentions in book one various familial experiences. In book two, his recollections of his family are still there, however his surrogate family, Dexion and Phameas, and half-brother, Homer, who he discovers at the end of book one, become pivotal in the story. He and Homer are Zeus’ offspring, and the family ties are even stronger with the High Priestess, who is his sister. Darkness and light are another theme, which is hinted at in book one, grows in book two, something that I will explore more in book three. The darkness is within Evan, his transformation evident when he gets angry and his eyes turn black, a characteristic he shares with the High Priestess, though she tends to use her particular abilities when they are in trouble.
How did the idea of the gods from Greek mythology fighting monotheism develop into a story for you?
It was a twisted path, much like the journey the characters go through in book two, the original concept for the story looked very different to the books I’ve written. It was meant to be about how the Atlanteans re-emerge from the destruction of their home and re-discover the world in which they once inhabited. It didn’t have enough for me to explore or write, so I re-read Homer’s Iliad and The Odyssey. They are my go-to books for inspiration as is Joseph Campbell’s books. Then I had an epiphany, if the gods created such havoc through one war and for one individual who tried to return home, what would they do if they discovered that their existence, their omnipotence, their control over humans was threatened? I didn’t think they’d like it at all! And that is how my idea for the story evolved.
I think you did a fantastic job of building great characters in this story. What is your writing process like in developing your characters?
Thank you very much for the compliment! I tried very hard to make sure each character had his/her own personality and I wanted each to stand out, even if their role was a minor one.
I have in mind what they look like, how they sound, how they walk, the colour of their skin and hair, how tall they are or short. I then write their details out on a proforma, similar to the old index cards, a character biography. I have three separate documents: one for master characters, major and minor. On each of these ‘cards’ I have their names and age; their pertinent biographies including occupation (if they have one); physical features; distinctive language; goals/motivation; fatal flaws and saving grace. These help me keep the characters consistent and ‘flesh out’ who they really are. I got this strategy from reading: The Writer’s little helper by James V. Smith Jr.
When I am writing, I visualise the characters, how they interact, what mood they are in, their body language, speech inflections and little quirks they have. For example, Phameas, who likes to keep his hair and beard curled, a Phoenician style and sign of a man’s virtue, is upset when Evan has radical haircuts and shaves. However, the characters don’t always allow me to write how I want the story to go, they interfere, a lot. I guess that’s only fair, as it is their story I am writing.
This is book two in the Servant of the Gods series. Where will book three take readers?
In Book three, Evan and his companions find a way to leave the Isle of Hephaistos, and sail to Crete. They are a bit concerned, as prior experience has seen them shipwrecked and the Argo badly damaged. They island hop, that is Jason’s preference to ensure they don’t run into the Cyclops again. It is at one of the islands that Evan encounters the Dark Master, and have a conversation. When they arrive on Crete, they discover ancestors of the island who had escaped the deluge. One of the islanders shows them the way into King Minos’ labyrinth, where Evan will face the Minotaur. What happens in between, who knows?
Follow Evan as he continues his odyssey as Servant of the Gods in The Labyrinthine Journey. The quest to locate the sacred object adds pressure to the uneasy alliance between Evan and the Atlanteans. His inability to accept the world he’s in, and his constant battle with Zeus, both threaten to derail the expedition and his life.
Traversing the mountainous terrain of the Peloponnese and Corinthian Gulf to the centre of the spiritual world, Evan meets with Pythia, Oracle of Delphi. Her cryptic prophecy reveals much more than he expected; something that changes his concept of the ancient world and his former way of life.
Will Evan and his friends succeed in their quest to find the relics and stop the advent of Christianity?
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Ain’t No Messiah by Mark Tullius is a dark and intriguing novel about the life of Joshua Campbell. Set in the United States, it’s a tale of his life, from birth to adulthood. Significant family members such as his mother, father and brother walk some of his journey with him as well as childhood friends that reappear in early adulthood. Estranged family members are in his mind all the while and readers meet them briefly as he tries to connect with them.
Having almost died at birth, Joshua’s father labelled him the messiah. His father continues to use this label throughout Joshua’s unusual life; citing near death experiences as miracles. His father publishes books about him and fashions a new church and business on the miracles of the messiah. Despite calling him the messiah, he verbally and emotionally abuses and neglects him on a regular basis. Joshua consistently refuses to believe he is the messiah and begins to rebel against his father’s rules. Eventually, at 17 he decides to run away, and experiences the world in a new light, but finds he still can’t shake the title of Messiah.
As the story progresses it is unclear whether he seeks out trouble, or trouble seeks him out, and this grey area is what kept me engaged throughout the story. Joshua is dragged into a world of sex and drugs, but he still has to run from his label as the messiah and his tyrannical father. As Joshua is pulled deeper into this world it becomes unclear who he can trust and things turn into a life and death situation. This reminded me of how Stephen King sets up his stories to deliver poignant ideas through simple prose.
Ain’t No Messiah kept me engrossed until the very end. As I read I kept questioning whether Joshua would break free forever from his father, or if he would be tempted by the life of fame and comparative comfort? At times I questioned his life choices and whether he could trust the people he aligned with. The main characters were well developed and believable. However, I felt there were far too many minor characters in the story that kept entering and disappearing. At times it became difficult to keep track of who was who. This detracted from the overall story as I had to pause and try to remember who the character was and why they were important to the story. The transition between flashbacks to past events and present day were clear at the start of the book, however near the end they became less clear which also distracted from the overall continuity. Overall this is an interesting and well written book that delivers a thought provoking message by putting a fascinating character in evocative situations that beg one to reflect on the choices we all make in life.
Pages: 326 | ASIN: B07KCQ8P17
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