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The Seal of Confession

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Grumpface

The Grumpface

One of the joys of childhood is sitting with someone and reading a favorite story over and over again. The kind of story that sticks with you, and works it’s way into your heart. The Grumpface is that kind of story. It is about a grumpy old man that is cursed and lives in the forest of Ho. He captures unsuspecting travelers that get lost in the forest and they must complete a challenge to earn their freedom. If they cannot complete any of the three challenges they are trapped in the forest forever. In this story an inventor named Daffy Dan is looking for a rose to win the love of a girl named Bella. Bella sells flowers in the village but longs for a rose that she cannot grow. Dan thinks that if he can bring Bella a rose, he will have the courage to finally speak to her and win her heart. As he searches the forest of Ho, he gets caught by Grumpface and must find a way to escape or he will never have the chance to see Bella and tell her how he feels.

The first thing that grabbed me about this book, was the amazing illustrations. Grumpface at his worst is still funny enough to not frighten my four-year-old daughter. She fell in love with this book the first time she saw me reading it and saw the bright pink bird in the first challenge. The images throughout are all done with detail and colors that draw you into the story more. They complement the text in an artistic way as well as helping convey the emotions. The rhythm of the rhyming makes the story entertaining and flow smoothly. It is perfect for young readers, but not too silly that it will make parents want to hide the book after a week. One of the great morals of the story is to find the humor in life even when things don’t go your way. Daffy Dan is clumsy and riddled with bad luck it seems, it makes him relatable to young readers that are often clumsy themselves. Dan’s creative inventions all sound like great ideas and spark the imagination of readers as well. Grumpface is like the teacher or parent that just stares in disbelief at the crazy things Dan does. Together the pair make a memorable story that will leave you laughing.

B.C.R. Fegan and D. Frongia have created a beautiful and enchanting tale with The Grumpface. They manage to convey the fear and concern of Dan throughout the story, the disappointment he feels as things don’t go his way, and the joy he feels as he thinks he finally got it. The story touches the hearts of adults and keeps children entertained. It the teaches morals of persistence, compassion, and friendship. This is a book you will want to keep on hand to read for years to come.

Pages: 34 | ASIN: B06XFFK7VZ

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Woofed Cookies

Woofed Cookies

Woofed Cookies by Greg Bauder is an entertaining, but short read. The story follows Peter Moon and his dog named Cookies as they go through a whole breath of conflicts and tribulations. His best friend, Tiger Moss, pressures him into smoking, a strange man keeps appearing menacingly, and Tiger’s little sister is enamored with him. Peter confronts all of these with Cookies by his side who is gifted with a neat little trick; throwing up everywhere at any time.

The book begins with Peter being down on himself for not having a puppy and being alone most of the time, since his mother is a nurse. This situation is rectified, and the book truly begins, when he receives Cookies on his birthday. Bauder does a great job of recalling what it was like to be a preteen and getting into trouble with your best friend. The joy of having a puppy is felt here, even if I question the mother’s recommendation of “flushing the dog poop down the toilet”? I mean, what happened to the garbage can? The rest of the book precedes with what you would normally expect. The story did take some turns that I was not expecting and the point of view with Peter is arm’s length, so you are never really sure what he is going to do as the reader.

I do think that the book reads a little “simple” for the audience I believe Bauder is aiming for, but I can forgive that for the fact he has an entertaining story. To take the everyday, messy occurrence of a dog throwing up and make that the title, is rather ingenious. It also steals the show away from Peter, because I found myself reading the pages looking to see what Cookies was going to do next. The lack of agency on Peter’s part was a little of a let down, especially as a children’s book, but I believe that the escapades of Cookies makes up for it.

The actual pacing of the book is a little choppy and does include two scenes that almost entirely mirror one another, which is kind of strange for a children’s book. I would love it if Bauder could make Woofed Cookies into a series of books of Peter and Cookies and I would not mind at all. There is something timeless about a “boy and his dog” and as a reader I could not get tired of that. This story is a classic paradigm with a new spin and I want to see what else Bauder has up his sleeve.

All in all, I believe that Woofed Cookies is an excellent book to give to your child for an afternoon of adventure.

Pages: 20 | ISBN: 1683946812

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Without Forethought of the Moral Costs

Stephen Arend Author Interview

Stephen Arend Author Interview

Soul Searcher takes place in a world where magic is as common as breathing, but a soul transfer goes terribly wrong. This is an intriguing setup to an epic fantasy novel. What was your moral goal when writing this novel and do you feel you’ve achieved it?

I wrote a good portion of Soul Searcher while I was working as an Adult Felony Probation Officer. Working in such a position gives a person the opportunity to experience many different views of why we are here, in this life. One such outlook was the need to obtain immediate gratification without forethought of the moral costs or consequences: addiction. Another outlook was the sometimes jaded, superior opinion many in the field get when working in that environment. Mordeth was addicted to the power of his position and the euphoria of the magical weave, and he felt he was justified in what he was doing. This addiction made him impatient, and his superiority caused him to other the criminals, to make them less than he. Mordeth’s straying from the moral code of society led to his downfall and to wasted years. He forgot he was supposed to serve instead of being served.

Rork is an intriguing character that knows little about his past. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight the characters development?

First and foremost, Rork felt he needed no one. That is false. No matter how strong or independent, we all need someone. Everyone has unique traits and skills, but no one person is perfect. We all have weaknesses, and Rork sure had his. In discovering friendship, Rork improved his place in the world and brightened his existence. Also, Rork lacked faith in a power higher. He needed to learn to believe and have faith; his ax, Retorter, could not hack its way through everything. In the end, that was his redemption.

How did you balance magic and its use throughout the story to keep it believable?

I wanted magic to be addictive, to siphon life with each usage. It may cost seconds, minutes, hours, days or years of life with the depth of the draw. A Mage-Lord could instantly light a torch with a wave of his hand and only lose seconds of his life–about the same amount of time it would have taken to physically light it– or she could wield destructive power and lose years of life. A mage would have to balance his or her current need with the cost and danger, because accepting the weave is addicting and dangerous.

What is the next book that you’re working on and when can your fans expect it out?

I am working on Shadow Court. Rork’s redemption is complete, but his atonement is ongoing. Rork has to face all he did as Mordeth, and that man’s sins are far reaching. Shadow Court will be out January 2017.

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Soul Searcher: The Reckoning Part OneSoul Searcher: The Reckoning details the journey of one man, Rork, as he strives to find his past and answers to the strange memories and images which have plagued him for the past ten years. In making this journey, he will discover who he really is…and was. Along the way, Rork gathers to his side an enigmatic forester with ties to a long-forgotten race, that young man’s secret protector, and a boisterous islander with pride as large as the open canyon country. In the end, Rork finds himself torn between what he must do for himself and what he can do for others around him, for he learns of friendship and caring, and that it hard for a man with only half a soul. The past cannot be changed, and for some, the reality of that may prove too much to accept.

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