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Unusual “Visions”

Mallory O'Connor Author Interview

Mallory O’Connor Author Interview

Epiphany’s Gift follows one young girl through her life as she struggles to cope with an extraordinary gift. What was the inspiration for her gift and the struggles she faced?

As a child, I had several powerful “visions” and/or paranormal experiences. Because the experiences were so exciting and so unusual, I was surprised to find that when I talked about these experiences, adults didn’t want to hear about it. They told me it was my imagination. Or worse. So, I stopped talking to anyone and kept my experiences to myself. Later, I began to read about other people who had unusual “visions.” I began to study the writings of religious mystics and found many similarities to my own encounters with “another level of existence.” In 1979, I met a psychic medium and we became friends. Although my “mystical” experiences were not the same as her “impressions,” we found we had a lot in common and have remained friends ever since.

I really enjoyed the well developed character in the book. Was there anything taken from your own life and put into the story?

Along with my childhood experiences, I included a number of “autobiographical” elements in the story. One is my work as an art historian and my fascination with artists such as William Blake and his visionary illustrations, especially the works he did of Dante’s Inferno. I also incorporated my interest in Asian art and culture in the character of Maro Guido, an art crimes investigator who is half Japanese. I wanted to explore his views about art from a non-Western perspective. And, I set Epiphany’s Gift in southern Ohio where I lived for four years while attending Ohio University. I was fascinated with Appalachian culture and wanted to immerse myself in the area and its special landscape.

This book blends several genres exceptionally well. Was this your intention or did this happen organically while writing?

When I first started writing Epiphany’s Gift, I intended to create a series of stories that combined paranormal events with art crimes. I wanted my readers to understand the problem of art theft and the significance of taking cultural treasures out of the public arena and into private collections where they are only seen by a few individuals. I believe that art has a lot to teach us about how our civilization developed and why we are who we are. So, I think that art belongs in a larger world that is open to the public.

But I also wanted to explore the issue of climate change and environmental degradation. I was encouraged by Dan Bloom, a climate activist and editor of the Cli-Fi Report, to explore various aspects of global warming and its consequences in my writing. In Epiphany’s Gift I take on the issue of fracking and its consequences. In subsequent books, I plan to focus on a number of climate-related issues including the spread of tropical diseases, effects on water resources, and catastrophic weather events.

So, my stories will be about paranormal events, art crimes and global climate change. Something for everyone!

When will this book be available and where can readers pick up a copy?

I’ve just sent the manuscript off to the publisher, so I expect the book will be available in May or June 2019. It will be available on Amazon, through Archway Publishing, and on my website: www.mallorymoconnor.com. Hopefully, it will later be available at libraries and bookstores. Connect with me through my website and I’d be happy to answer questions.

Author Links: GoodReadsFacebookWebsite | Amazon

For thirty years, Epiphany Mayall has worked as a psychic medium in the small Spiritualist community of Cassadaga, Florida. But when she returns to her childhood home in Mt. Eden, Ohio, to visit her aging mother, she finds that the rural community is reeling from a series of alarming events. The pristine world of her childhood is being destroyed. Wells and creeks are polluted, and earthquakes have become a frequent danger.

Epiphany’s former professor and mentor, art historian Dr. John Bernhardt, believes that the problems are the result of fracking operations that are being carried out by an energy corporation in the region, and that someone from the company is also connected with the disappearance of an illustration of Dante’s Inferno from the university museum. Bernhardt writes an article for the local newspaper about his theory, but the next day he is found dead. When John’s ghost appears to Epiphany and tells her that he was poisoned, she becomes determined to find the answers to several questions: who is responsible for the environmental disaster, who stole the illustration of Dante’s Inferno from the university museum, and who murdered Professor Bernhardt?

Aided by art crimes investigator, Maro Gaido, and by Blake King, an eccentric local artist, Epiphany tries to put together the pieces of a disturbing puzzle, but finds her efforts thwarted at every turn. Even a State Senator cannot help. As the earthquakes escalate, Epiphany begins to wonder if even her psychic gifts are enough to find the answers before it’s too late to save her loved ones from disaster.

www.mallorymoconnor.com

Keeper of Slaves

Keeper of Slaves: Book Two of Antebellum Struggles by [Erman, Dickie]

Collette should be one of the happiest women around. As the wife of a wealthy plantation owner, she has everything she could possibly want and lives in the home of her dreams. Her husband, however, makes living her best life impossible. As he has taken up with Amana, one of their slaves, Collette’s life has taken quite a tragic and sad turn. When Amana finds herself in just the right place at the ideal moment to save Collette’s life, both women begin to realize there is much more to their relationship than either of them could have ever imagined.

Keeper of Slaves, Antebellum Struggles Book 2, by Dickie Erman, traces the drama surrounding Trent and Collette Winters and the battle to survive via the Underground Railroad. Erman skillfully crafts a cast of characters who are deeply involved in making the Underground Railroad successful. The author appeals successfully to readers’ emotions and describes incredibly intense scenes of fearful and anxious moments of planning as the book’s main characters attempt to do what feels like the impossible given the time period and the extreme circumstances of their lives.

Even though Erman includes a brief summary of events from Book 1 at the outset, I feel there are several key elements I was missing as I read. Quite a bit of time was spent trying to visualize situations and subplots. There is a history between this entire cast of characters that is begging to be read.

I am beyond intrigued by the “ghost ship.” I found it to be a fantastic addition to the plot and was able to visualize each and every aspect of the ship and its lack of life, the missing supplies, and the eerie and overwhelming silence. Though it sounds a bit out of place in a story of this genre, it actually works quite well.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the concern I have over the dialect. While the bulk of the dialogue feels quite authentic, there are a few things I found distracting as I read. Accents and turns of phrase felt accurate throughout the book for the most part, but a few terms like “machismo” and “space aliens” struck me as odd and felt out of place for the book’s antebellum setting. Periodically, the reader is given the impression that the third person narrator is, indeed, part of the story. While this works in some cases, it doesn’t feel effective here. I was especially confused when, in the narration, the alligator that attacks Collette is referred to as a “gata.” The sudden switching on and off of the more personal narration is a bit difficult to reconcile with the rest of the book.

I am giving Keeper of Slaves, Antebellum Struggles Book 2, by Dickie Erman, 4 out of 5 stars. Fans of historical fiction who desire a bit of romance in their plots will enjoy Erman’s work. I highly recommend Keeper of the Slaves, Antebellum Struggles Book 2 to those who are particularly attracted to Civil War stories with generous amounts of character interaction and authentic dialogue.

Pages: 211 | ASIN: B07NN5ZF8X

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Seven Days in Lebanon

Seven Days in Lebanon by [Tremayne, Eleanor]

In the early 1900’s in old Russia, the beginnings of the Russian revolution are forming. The aristocrat class is in danger and families are making plans to escape before the war takes not only their homes and properties, but their lives. Olga is a young doctor and the only daughter of Natasha Vishnievsky. Her father arranges for her to escape, unfortunately things do not go as planned. Seven Days in Lebanon is a book filled with history and based off the real life of Olga Von Eggert Khadjieff, Eleanor Tremayne’s grandmother. The book covers three generations of women’s lives in the family and is weaved together through journal entries, memories, and an ambitious well off artist looking for meaning in his own life.

The story starts out in Russia, but quickly moves into Olga’s escape from the Bolshevik army and the journey she takes is not an easy one. Fate kept her alive on more than one occasion and her skill as a doctor kept her alive more than once as well. The beginning of the book goes into detail about her escape from Russia and, eventual marriage to Prince of Kiva, through journal entries and stories that Olga is telling her granddaughter Anastasia. Olga’s mother Natasha kept a journal of notes, family history, and memories meant for Olga. However, it was never reunited with her and ended up in the hands of Damian Tolbert a rich French artist that writes and shoots photography.

The story’s point of view jumps around a lot, going from Olga, to Anastasia, sometimes her parents, and to Damian. The time lines are also mixed and mingled, it is not told in a linear fashion rather just like it would be listening to a family member, bits and pieces here and there and you have to assemble it all together in order in your own mind. It is confusing at first but soon you realize that the writing style is slightly different for each point of view. It draws you in despite the jumps. Knowing this novel is based on real events that took place in the life of the author’s grandmother, Olga, makes the story that much more interesting. These are first hand events and stories passed down from one generation to the next, a lost tradition.

There are some harsh topics and some graphic details involving death, and rape, and murder. However, they are told from the perspective of facts and not in a sensational manner. It is just how things were back in that time. There are times the stories feel like a history lesson and times like a day dream. The mix of styles makes this book intriguing and you want to keep reading it. The sad and brutal events are mixed with hope and promise of a better future.

Aside from the history element, seeing Anastasia discovering her heritage is probably my favorite part. How things from the past, little things like that raven imagery all start build a bigger picture for her and she grows into her heritage that prior to Olga’s death she said she didn’t care about. This is a great telling of a family and their history told in a manner that is fun and engaging and not like that of an autobiography or history book. This would be a great choice for anyone looking for a book club book or discussion group.

Pages: 386 | ASIN: B07NJJTGYJ

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The Darkness Within Him

Michael A. Greco Author Interview

Michael A. Greco Author Interview

Project Purple follows volunteers on a broadcasted experience to recreate American colonization that turns deadly. What was the inspiration behind this unique idea?

“Project Purple” Is about thirteen Americans who recreate the lives of the early colonials for a worldwide on-line audience. They don’t know their ordeal has been gradually, brutally altered by their organizers, and a struggle for food, shelter, and survival turn deadly as an Arctic winter approaches.

The seed of this idea emerged from a conjoining of two mediums—the first being a PBS TV series called Colonial House back in 2003, and the second being an extraordinary novel about the harrowing saga of the Donner party called “The Indifferent Stars Above.” Somehow, the ordeals of these people from different centuries fused.

I think “Project Purple” seeks to understand what it takes to draw on one’s inner survivor. I just started thinking: What could a writer do to give this story more adversity and more propulsion?

Rigor is a detective from Las Vegas who sets out to help the volunteers. What were some driving ideals behind his character?

I wove Rigor into the story to give it another layer of depth. On the surface he’s an upstanding guy. He’s initially driven by noble ideals, but as his story unfolds, we see the darkness within him, too, and that’s why he’s been selected for new “projects”. The Rhizome, the shadowy multi-national underground faction, knows his history.

This novel is able to capture the history of American colonialism and modern dystopian ideals. What were some ideals you wanted to explore in this book?

I guess I wanted to capture the idea that civilization is a thin veneer we lay across the bubbling magma of nature, including human nature. Occasionally, like a volcano, the magma erupts, and we fall through the crust, scratching and gouging for our lives. Then a new world order begins, with an entirely new language, and with an entirely new taxonomy: a new way of ordering and naming things in life—the Rhizome.

The thirteen Americans are under the impression they’re showcasing the early seventeenth century colonial way of life for a worldwide audience; that they can teach others by reenacting “a simpler, purer time in their national experience, to the roots of the nation they are today, to the infant of America.” Of course, the Rhizome isn’t impressed by any of that. What it wants to learn from the Americans is all together different.

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

The project I’m on now, “Assunta” is a three-part trilogy about a man who comes to believe in the divine. It’s a physical and spiritual journey from the gates of Hell to the highest portion of Heaven. The story is built on a framework of references to the great poem “The Divine Comedy” by Dante Alighieri. There are three books: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. I’ve just finished Book 3, and will publish them in one month intervals, starting in early March with the first Book, Assunta: Inferno.

After I finish the Assunta trilogy, I’m returning to sequels of The Cuckoo Colloquium —about six teens lost in the rain forest of Borneo, because the characters have so much depth and the story so much fuel remaining. I hope to have book #2 of what I’m calling the Cuckoo series out by autumn, 2019.

I believe that memorable characters make memorable tales. One of my favorite writers, Samuel Becket, for example, shows us lunatics in trashcans, or characters who set themselves on fire. He had great insights into what is true, and he makes it funny. I think that’s my job, my goal—to write characters and stories that are absurd, violent, childish, but that resonate with truth.

Author Links: Goodreads | Facebook | TwitterWebsite

Thirteen Americans volunteer for a unique three-month project to recreate America’s early colonial experience for a worldwide on-line audience. The colonists have been deceived. They don’t know their ordeal has been gradually, brutally, altered by their organizers, and a genuine struggle for food, shelter and survival turns deadly as an Arctic winter approaches. Is there some point to this insanity? The besieged Americans (including a police detective who throws his world away to rescue a colonist he knows only as the Goatwench) must find the primal survivor within themselves to counter the ever-increasing violence they face—all to the attentive schooling of their multi-national audience.

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Decades to Resolve

K.B. Laugheed Author Interview

K.B. Laugheed Author Interview

The Gift of the Seer follows Katie and Hectors journey across the continent as they learn more about each others ways. What was the inspiration for the setup to this series?

I had a fairly bad childhood, but when I was seventeen, I became captivated by Native American history, and I have never looked back. I have spent my life studying Indian history, cultures, and stories, and I even went on to get a Masters Degree in English with a specialty in Native American literature. After having read dozens and dozens of captivity stories from the 17th, 18th, & 19th centuries, I wanted to write a book to share what I learned with people who have neither the time nor energy to dig through all those old documents.

Katie and Hector are dynamic characters with an interesting relationship. What were some driving ideals behind their characters?

I see Katie and Hector as metaphorical representatives of their people. They are endlessly intrigued by one another, even as they also pose a very serious threat to each other. Because they formed a physical bond before they understood much about each other’s worlds, they created a conflict that takes them decades to resolve–which is, oddly enough, equally true of almost all young lovers who get married and have children! So one of the basic premises of the story is that relationships are hard, whether those relationships are between individuals or nations, and finding common ground is an ongoing challenge. But, oh!–meeting that challenge is definitely worth the effort!

I enjoyed the nuanced world views and philosophies in the book. What were some themes you wanted to explore in this book?

I was very intrigued by the idea of writing a story that could be read on multiple levels. If you are interested in American Indians, you can read this book to learn more about Native cultures. If you are interested in complex marital relationships, you can read this book to find out how one “odd couple” made a difficult marriage work. If you are interested in personal identity issues, you can read this book to see how someone who suffers from chronic self-doubt deals with the challenge of living up to other people’s high expectations. If you are interested in Spirituality, you can read this book to ponder the role Spirit can play in the everyday life of humans. And if you just want a fast-paced adventure story, you can read this book simply for the thrills and chills.

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

I was working on an intriguing manuscript three years ago, but I gave it up when I could not see how the story ended. Then my mother died, and I suddenly understood exactly how that story ended. Now that I have finally gotten The Gift of the Seer into the hands of the public, I am returning to my unfinished manuscript, and I hope to have something readable by mid-2020.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads

The Gift of the Seer by [Laugheed, K.B.]

Katie O’Toole’s epic adventure began in The Spirit Keeper (Plume 2013) when she was rescued from a 1747 frontier massacre in Pennsylvania only to find herself chosen as the “Spirit Keeper” of a dying Indian Seer. She hesitated to accept this mysterious obligation until she fell in love with the Seer’s bodyguard, an Indian man she called Hector.

In The Gift of the Seer, Katie and Hector continue their journey across the continent, but the more Katie learns about the peculiar ways of her husband’s people, the more she dreads arriving at their destination. Will anyone believe she is the Spirit Keeper she pretends to be? Equally troubling, Katie knows the Seer expected her to prove his Vision—a Vision which foretold of infinite Invaders coming to his world—but to prove this prophecy, she must give his people the great Gift he also predicted. The only problem is that Katie has no Gift to give.

Years pass as she desperately searches for a way to fulfill her promise to the dead Seer, but when his former rival threatens to expose her as a fraud, Katie finally understands that her life and the lives of all the people in her new world hang in the balance. That’s when she knows she must give a Gift—she must—before it is too late.

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AND BE FREE

And Be Free offers a fresh insight into American history from the perspective of POCs (Person of colour). Barry Roy Nager examines the ways in which history has often overlooked the experiences of POCs and how their contributions to significant events are often minimized and treated as an afterthought. Nager takes this opportunity to give a comprehensive history of the experience of POCs in America and to give individuals a voice when, for so long, their stories have gone unheard.

Nager creates a timeline of American history from the perspective of POCs giving an overview of the experiences lived. The book covers various sections of American history giving instances of various events and how they effected the lives of POCs. The book covers for example the role of Abraham Lincoln, Brown v. Board of education, and the role of black soldiers in the Vietnam war. The book brings the reader right up to the present day and looks ahead to the future of civil rights and the lives of POCs in the modern day.

One particularly notable point is that the book reflects on the brutality of the slave trade and, unlike most accounts, it successfully humanizes the numbers. Often the personal histories of these events are reduced to a numeric digit which means the raw experience is often lost. However, Nager successfully depicts the reality for these individuals in graphic detail and pays respect to the people that were treated in such horrendous ways.
Nager gives the reader a haunting insight and delves into the fake assertions made about various races. These assertions, that were based on unscientific principles, were a factor that lead to the divisions created within society. The ways in which people were treated and the justifications for such treatment appear Orwellian; Nager does not hold back and confronts the reader with the harsh reality.

The book looks at the broad history of POCs in America, using the past as a warning for the future and investigating contemporary problems that may be a result of the past. I give this book a five out of five as it gives an overview of the challenges faced, the progress made, and the hopes, and sadly, fears for the future. I think that this book is essential for anyone looking to begin their journey into the history of POCs in America and American history as a whole. More importantly the book emphasizes that the histories are united insofar as history does not occur in a vacuum.

Pages: 160 | ISBN: 1450089615

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Silent Spring – Deadly Autumn of the Vietnam War – Trailer

WHAT HAPPENED IN VIETNAM DIDN’T STAY IN VIETNAM. IT CAME HOME WITH US!

Silent Spring – Deadly Autumn of the Vietnam War is both a memoir and an investigative journey into all the complications the U.S. government hasn’t told you about the Vietnam War. It’s not just another book about Vietnam or Agent Orange. Rather it’s a “silver bullet” which cuts through to the heart of the circumstances and pesticides used during that war—highly toxic herbicides and insecticides, which in some cases are still being used to this very day all over the globe, even right here in the USA.

So, forget everything you’ve heard from our government and everything that you think you know about the Vietnam War because this book is much more than a memoir of one Vietnam veteran’s struggles over the decades following the war. It’s a story of all the veterans who served in Vietnam and their children. And it could even be the story of you and your children, too.

As you read through the book and its volumes of information, you will be absolutely stunned at what the US government had willingly dumped on Vietnam and its own troops.

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Keeper of Slaves – Trailer

Keeper of Slaves is Book Two of the Antebellum Struggles series. The lives of the plantation owner, Colonel Trent Winters, his wife, Collette, the slaves, Tabari and Amana, and the myriad of other characters continue in this moving tale of slavery, lust and freedom. The Underground Railroad, Fugitive Slave Act, and their impact on the lives of citizens come to life in the 1850s era set in New Orleans and the Deep South.

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Seven Days in Lebanon – Trailer

On a frigid winter morning in St. Petersburg, Russia 1917, eighteen year old Olga Von Eggert must leave her country and family. The Bolshevik army is on a mission to destroy all aristocrats. When Olga fails to join her entourage at the designated rendezvous, Prima Ballerina Mathilda Kschessinska notifies the Khan of Kiva, a mutual acquaintance. The Khan’s son, Prince Razek Bek Khadjieff, defies his father’s orders and sends his strongest Cossack soldier to save the young Baroness. Nearly ninety years later, Damian Tolbert, a Frenchman living in Paris bids $100,000 on an antique diary with the initials NV on the leather cover. Once the journal is translated from Russian to French Damian is determined to find the rightful heir to this antique keepsake. Several years later, by coincidence, or perhaps fate, Damian discovers Anastasia Sullivan, the only living descendent to the journal, in an odd town called Lebanon, Ohio. Rather than answers, Damian finds more missing pieces to his puzzle. Will the “Mind Marauders ” finally leave his psyche? And, who is this mysterious artist, Anastasia Sullivan? This historical novel is inspired by true events of the author’s grandmother, Olga Von Eggert Khadjieff.

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Friends of The Tsar

Friends of the Tsar: Miracles from Petrograd to the Outback by [de Graaff, Jon]

Friends of the Tsar, by Jon de Graaff, is a story about the author’s “Aristocratic Grandparent’s harrowing escape from the Russian Revolution of February 1917.”  The story starts near Petrograd, Russia in 1916 with Vera and George, with George and his mother, Adelaide, saving Vera from a wolf attack. They are at the country estate of George’s father, Baron Alexander Zuckschwerdt. Adelaide and Alexander are very much aristocrats. Vera and George are not on board with the aristocratic ways of their parents. Vera, who also came from an aristocratic family, started rejecting her parents’ ways after Bloody Sunday when even children were killed during a protest.

Vera has ten sisters. Three of them come to stay with her. Monica is 16. Mary is 15. Natty is 10. Vera often gets strong premonitions when something bad is about to happen. Blue is Alexander’s friend. He is an Australian cattle breeder. He comes to stay as well. Blue saves Natty from choking. He learned how to do it on a chance visit with friends. Vera sees it as meant to be. Blue tells story after story of things that happened that seem to have a lot of coincidences. Vera does not see them as coincidences at all. He dismissed them as being luck in the past. He now thinks differently.

The family finds itself in trouble. The country is in trouble. Their money is not worth as much. The people in the country are starving. The family decides that they need to leave. Blue offers to let them stay with him in Australia. Alexander books passage for himself, George, Blue, Vera and the girls for February 27, 1917. The story goes on from there to cover how they escaped and the challenges they faced as they did.

I felt that the story could not decide on what the book was going to be. As I went from chapter to chapter, I felt like many of the chapters could have been stand-alone chapters and were not connected very well. It lacked continuity. There are different stories being told that don’t seem to reach any conclusions. At first, I thought the book was going to be a love story about Vera and George. After the first chapter or so, they seemed forgotten and the book focused on Blue’s stories. Then it would jump to near misses while trying to escape and spy stories. I found myself confused a few time. The language seemed a bit stilted and formal and did not flow like normal dialogue in places.

There is a good story in the book though it would benefit from a bit more organization. The author writes well. Some of the stories were definitely interesting. Some of the story lines had definite possibility and begged for further development as the characters were intriguing and were usually placed in exotic locations.

Pages: 126 | ASIN: B071ZQ6CG8

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