Gary Miller is a religion and philosophy college professor living a pretty average life. He hardly gets by on his meager salary, has a wife he doesn’t love and struggles with a sexual orientation that conflicts with his faith. But his life takes an interesting turn when Bob, his long-time friend and former colleague, introduces him to seven experiments. They are designed to help Gary manifest his wishes with the power of his mind. Skeptical at first, Gary takes on the challenge and goes through each experiment. As he progresses, his belief in this new discovery grows. It appears better days are ahead and he could finally get all he wants out of life. But how far will Gary go in using his newfound power to satisfy his longings?
Stephen Kanicki weaves an intriguing tale in The Seven Experiments. It’s been a while since I read a story with a healthy dose of eeriness like this one. It’s nothing too close to horror, but it’s just creepy enough to make your skin crawl. Set in present-day New York City, The Seven Experiments is a fictional novel that examines religious, pseudoscientific and metaphysical themes.
Kanicki’s interest in placing religious beliefs on the spot really jumps out. His main character Gary asks some difficult questions of the Christian faith. The book’s context adds a fascinating spin to many of these subjects. For example, Gary’s success at wishing things into reality leads him to question the need for prayers. He wonders if praying to an unseen God is anything more than a waste of time. Maybe we are inherently self-sufficient and can get whatever we want without any external interference. These are Gary’s thoughts.
Somehow, Kanicki was able to take a conservative college professor and transform him into a frightening maniac. I never saw that one coming (that’s the point of a good story, but Gary made quite the jump from super cool to super not-so-cool). Gary’s downward spiral is another suggestion that given the right opportunity and enough motive, we all are capable of much evil. And I couldn’t help but imagine if our strongest beliefs still exist because they’ve not faced real conflict. I mean, how deeply have you questioned your values? Or are they shallow platitudes just waiting to be uprooted by the slightest problem?
Kanicki does a great job of passing his message and keeping the reader engaged. However, a couple of characters were unsolved mysteries. I couldn’t really wrap my head around who they were or what their motives were. But that aside, you’d enjoy The Seven Experiments if you fancy spooky but thought-provoking stories.
Pages: 213 | ASIN: B07X4KM2CY
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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.
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.
Posted in Interviews
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It is 1939 when the bullet-riddled body of an accounting clerk from a gambling ship washes up under the Santa Monica pier. As city homicide detectives tenaciously chase down their only clue—a fast, expensive, and very exclusive Bugatti—their investigation leads them into a tangle of competing gangsters all looking to muscle their way to a bigger share of illegal gambling.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles County deputy district attorney Cliff Thoms is leading a special squad searching for a pair of serial killers who have already killed four young women and are on the hunt for more. Thoms, with the help of a self-proclaimed psychic he doesn’t quite trust, risks lives and careers in a desperate gamble to catch his elusive quarry. As the two investigations collide and rush to a deadly conclusion, dirty cops, DAs on the take, mobsters, grieving families, and reformer politicians must attempt to distinguish lies from the truth. Unfortunately, they are all about to discover that even the truth won’t help them now.
In this fast-paced tale of murder and gangland intrigue, a gritty district attorney and a band of detectives set out on a quest to solve two separate crimes amid a corrupted 1939 Los Angeles.
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Dark Karma follows Luke and Nina on a quest for vengeance, punctuated by secrets, and colored with dark magic. What were some driving ideals behind the development of this novel?
I wanted to write something different and unpredictable. My first book, Little Bits of Karma, focused on reincarnation; the second one, Tough Karma, focused on that same concept plus unusual psychic talents and a deranged villain. I wanted to use all of those concepts in Dark Karma, but take it to another level. The concept of traveling to other dimensions of reality intrigues me, and I thought it would be a wonderful element to include in this story. The main characters, Nina and Luke, are supporting characters in Tough Karma so it was easy to write for them. I’m just a channel for my characters, they work through me to tell their tales. I have to give them all of the kudos for the wonderful unpredictability of this story! They gave me the plot twists and turns as I commuted back and forth from work.
Luke and Nina have a fascinating and deep relationship. What was the inspiration for their characters and their relationship?
The inspiration for their characters came from my previous books. New characters come to me when I need to add one to move a story along. In Little Bits of Karma, I needed a bad guy (supposed) older brother to help an antagonist get his point across and Luke made his first appearance. He was a very minor character with only one or two sentences. When the antagonist from Little Bits of Karma became the redeemed romantic hero, Bryce, in Tough Karma, he needed his brother’s help to save his sweetheart, Amber. Luke’s character began to grow and he let me know that he was a CIA operative who worked with people who had unusual psychic abilities. Luke called up Nina and she entered the story. She was a free-spirited and spunky psychic gifted with telekinesis who knew how to manipulate energy and situations on the astral plane. She helped everyone by using her talents. I thought it would be fun to have a sexy friendship between Nina and Luke with both of them being independent and not needing anyone romantically; until he gets jealous of another man interested in her and makes his true feelings known. The seed for a deep and loving relationship was always there, but they both had their defenses up.
I enjoyed the well crafted use of magic throughout this novel. How did you balance magic to keep things grounded while also keeping readers wondering?
Thank you, but I honestly don’t know. I just wrote what came through. Most of this novel surprised me too! Dark Karma went in a direction I never dreamed of when I started writing it. You mentioned in your review that you gave up trying to predict what would happen and I laughed because that was my intent. As far as magic goes, I’ve been fascinated with it my whole life. I have books of spells which I’ve never tried and I would never dabble in the dark side. I love living vicariously through my characters and traveling the astral, moving objects with my mind, manipulating energy, and everything else.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’ve started writing the follow-on book to Dark Karma but the plot hasn’t solidified. I strive to write all of my books as stand alones, however, it is proving difficult with this next story. I don’t have a title for it yet, I usually come up with those much later. For now I’m calling it Karma Book 4. I’m going to let the characters guide me and hope they can provide something just as unpredictable as Dark Karma. If not, then I hope whatever comes through is an entertaining read. My goal is to have it published by the end of next year or early in 2020.
A remarkable tale of vengeance, time travel, and dark magic. What would you do if you woke up one morning and your world was inexplicably changed in the worst way imaginable? Banished by his enemy into a hellish alternate dimension, Luke Decker fights to understand why his world has suddenly changed, and why is he on trial for the murder of his beloved Nina? What he doesn’t know is she’s not dead. Nina watches him vanish into thin air and is completely bereft, struggling to find out how and why he disappeared. Using all of her psychic talents and traversing the astral realm, she frantically searches for him to no avail. She owns a secret item which holds the key to his salvation, but will she figure it out before he’s condemned to live the rest of his life in a realm of darkness?
Posted in Interviews
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Charles Bone and Stan Loren are two FBI agents with quite the special set of skills. The least of which is their ability to communicate without vocalizing their thoughts. As two men with psychic abilities, they have been given the job of heading up a recruitment drive unlike any other in history. Charles and Stan, in the early 1970s, manage to pinpoint over 3,000 individuals exhibiting the qualities making them the perfect candidates for the job. Little do the recruits know the mission for which they have been chosen is one that could change the course of human history.
Terry Tumbler’s Future World Rolls (We Are Family) Book 2 in the Carousels of Life series has one of the most unique settings of its genre. Spanning centuries and with locations varying from Winter Park Florida in the 70s to vessels in space including the Voyager 6, Tumbler carries the reader on quite the raucous ride through time and space via Charles and Stan and the plethora of alien life forms peppered throughout this second in a series.
There is a Men in Black feel about the novel that gives the book a light, fun air. Fans of this type of science fiction will appreciate Tumbler’s alien beings, their idiosyncrasies, and the banter between the main characters as they go about the task set before them.
As with Tumbler’s first book in the series, Future World Rolls is laden with song lyrics, references to artists’ best-known works, and well-timed and perfectly-placed excerpts of the world’s best (my own humble opinion) music. Tumbler’s characters are more than capable of standing on their own, but these song references help to add another light note to the text. I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to hum along to the tunes Tumbler sets as pleasant little earworms from the beginning to the end of the book. I mean who doesn’t love to be reminded of George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” and “All Day and All of the Night” by the Kinks? Tumbler doesn’t just incorporate music from the 1960s. He takes readers on a nostalgic journey through music history, hitting all the right notes–so to speak.
To say Future World Rolls is fast-paced would be a gross understatement. Tumbler keeps the reader engaged from one jam-packed chapter to the next. Billed as a space opera, this book hops, skips, and jumps from one scene to the next introducing new and engaging characters while building on the already well-developed Charles, Stan, and the just-short-of-amazing green giants.
Science fiction fans who enjoy lively plots and bigger-than-life characters will find Tumbler’s works meet all of their expectations and more. Tumbler writes beautifully and manages to pull off humor in the most eloquent of ways possible. Some science fiction books are fraught with terminology and processes that overwhelm the reader. Tumbler combats all of that with his stunning cast of characters and an upbeat tone that is set from the first chapter.
Pages: 314 | ASIN: B07H4QQR8K
Posted in Book Reviews
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The Philosophical Future discusses the social and psychological challenges facing people in the 21st century. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Man is of course a creature of needs, which are easily misunderstood and in a confrontational world often taken by the individual as absolute imperatives. Violent actions and reactions, and more broadly aggressive behavior in general, tend to satisfy only, and too often, wrongly perceived needs of an instant. Long-term consequences are imprudently ignored. But it is too late as a rule to correct the mistake.
To avoid this familiar trap, nothing avails save the self-aware use of individual will — a learned capability — to survey each situation as it arises, and then rationally decide on and carry out a plan of action (including non-action) suitable to the circumstances. In an overly crowded world, and given today’s climate of festering person-to person and group-against group hostility, however, nothing appears to succeed other than violence or a threat of it. Whatever deprives the “other” of his ability to remain a self-respecting combatant can be employed. This wholly negative world view leads down an unsustainable road — in fact to social chaos.
Calls for meaningful change fall on mostly deaf ears. They do not convince. Nonetheless, the burden for positive change rests with individual minds. Such social unanimity as does occur is forced, and unless or until enough self-discipline takes hold in individual minds, and without coercion, this millennial consummation seems just as probable as another..
This book was written with such global issues in mind. Its significance lies in the message which it conveys to minds honestly aspiring to achieve a personal knowledge of what they may expect to encounter in the way of social, psychological, and moral trials in years to come.
You have an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin and an Ed.D. from the University of California, and you taught at many different schools. How has this experience helped you write this book?
Teachers, much akin to dispensers of religious doctrine, today more than ever share a burden of communicating to students more than mere facts or supposed facts originating with cultural authority. The effective teacher has also himself both learned and understood the “material” of his lessons. Even so, automatic transfer from one mind to another is a misconception. Not all learning experiences can be summed up in this formula. Even the substance of what there is to be learned erodes in this migration.
The basics of language and social skills can of course never be taken for granted. This includes all knowledge that can be reduced to a common parlance, including number, letter, names, places, dates, and even some rules of interpersonal behavior. The tyro can usually master this domain with aid from a teacher who himself studied and retained not only the rote aspect but some of the life-value of its content. Still, more than ever beyond this one needs certain more fundamental elements to make his way in life.
Most individuals, sadly enough, while they do achieve a grasp of these lesser aspects of behavioral competence, fail to move past them. Even many teachers may not learn to question themselves, to seek beyond their already memorized data base to explore the deeper significance of being human. For all further, higher knowledge, the kind needed to live with meaning, though built on a firm foundation of “the basics,” requires a yet greater step, and the true teacher recognizes this. All such higher knowledge demands a learner, as well as his teacher, who together strive for genuine understanding — so that each of them in the web of his own experience questions both himself as well as the “why” of things, basic and abstract alike.
I think this book does a fantastic job of delivering complex ideas in an understandable and meaningful way. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
To those whose developing interests include a genuine curiosity about conditions of life over the longer tomorrow, and assuming they are looking for an unvarnished view of today’s global scene, with some adumbration of what lies ahead, this book aims to provide some, but not all, and never absolute, answers. It is not indeed a prediction but an advisory. It deals only with the possible, in an age of few if any certainties.
Most young people, but also readers in general, tend to live on two levels of thought: On one hand they have a vision of society as some kind of mechanical entity; its fundamental workings go on at a comfortable distance; unless one becomes caught in their legal entanglements, they can be ignored. On the other hand, when society calls on them as individuals to participate actively in its formal activities (such as jury duty), thought and intelligence must be brought to bear; even so, the passive state of mind dominates. Typically (even in the jury room) one follows the herd.
For this typical reader this book then cannot help but sound a wake-up call. Neither mechanistic nor presumably-more active approaches to life in society in fact suffice. Knowledge of the whole and of its salient moving parts and of one’s own capabilities for adaptation to the turmoil of future existence — these will be key to genuine success in the art of living.
Where do you think society is headed and what can an individual do to ensure they are successful in that future?
The question of where society is headed and how it is likely to get there cannot be answered without giving thought to the individual’s plasticity of character and his motivations as a moral being. If individuals en masse pay no heed to what serves the common good, then the way forward becomes rife with predictable social decline. But this view overemphasizes the dark side. Neither man’s overall world outlook nor his web of relations in a complex environment ever reduce to a simple unidirectional pattern, at least in the short run.
History reveals one singular truth: In its gradual development, and often without conscious control, society “fixes” some problems, analyzes others without acting on them, and simply ignores those it cannot deal with. So we cannot rationally envision either a future utopia or dystopia. There is no end-point. The real wild card remains the “average” individual’s capacity for directing his powers either to improve the common good along with his own sense of social stability, or to give way to mental and moral negation, with destructive results in society.
Men are not prisoners of history, as is often claimed. But there is just so much any generation can do in a practical sense to unleash itself from on-the-ground conditions and the relatively passive state of mind it inherits. Revolutions come and go, yet underlying capabilities cling to their natural limits. The process is slow, unseen, and does not involve conscious volition other than to a limited degree. So the likeliest condition of society a century hence, barring an atomic or planetary disaster, will represent in essence only a repetition in substance (though not in detail) of what have been the commonplace evils of our time: over-population and consequent mass poverty; ever increasing global hysterias; police-state governments; continued lack of education and subsequent bewilderment over how to live a meaningful individual life in a complex and demanding environment. The true individual may disappear as this process works itself out. Yet fortunately, his eventual reappearance cannot entirely be ruled impossible either. And how this unresolved dichotomy is then resolved will make all the difference.
This book surveys the breadth of mankind’s postmodern malaise, which is achieved through a discussion of the major challenges, social and psychological, which every individual faces in the effort to live fully in the twenty-first century. These challenges lay in broadly familiar domains: self- and group-consciousness; common man and his place in a future society in which mental activity dominates; work and leisure; knowledge and values accruing from it, both for self and others; possibilities in education; civilization, with its “Dark Age” phenomena and its dreams of progress; the role of the past in contemporary life; and power, both in society and within the sovereign individual who, though bound by physical and intellectual limits, functions as a seeker after the freedom and self-fulfillment which are so wholly integral to the human condition. And finally a serious question: What fate awaits the perpetual non-conformist, whose views, however unwelcome in his own time and in a contemporary environment, may in fact anticipate future living conditions?
Posted in Interviews
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“I’m not sure, but judging by our choices in literature, I think this makes us polar opposites.”
Karly Matthews has no idea how much truth there is to her statement after she first encounters Thayne Harper at a networking event: She is a medium, struggling to keep her store open after making enemies with a powerful executive set on destroying her career after Karly helps his wife leave him; Thayne is a skeptic, the descendant of a wealthy family in the hotel industry. Both, however, share a sizzling physical attraction for each other, as well as dark secrets that make it impossible for them to get close to anyone. Will Karly be able to keep her heart safe when she is hired to chase away a spirit haunting the bed and breakfast that Thayne is opening, especially when her job forces her to live under the same roof as him?
The plot of Haunted, written by Shari Nichols, is driven by a few different story lines. There, of course, is the romantic and professional tension between Karly and Thayne, and with that, many heated love scenes unfold that are sure to make one’s toes curl. Then there are the insecurities that Karly faces, having been in a serious relationship that ended so badly that she is quick to react jealously and expect the worst from men, especially Thayne, who is naturally charismatic and has had a reputation for courting many women. As difficult as it is for Karly to trust Thayne, he also cannot open up to her, having suffered the loss of someone close to him. He is under a lot of pressure to prove himself to his father, with whom he is estranged, by ensuring that his first hotel opening is successful. Unfortunately, a ghost seems set on sabotaging his plans.
While the story focuses mostly on Karly, as well as Thayne, there’s a lot happening in the novel, and details that are relevant to understanding their history are vague or not revealed until much later. This makes it difficult to fully empathize with Karly in her hesitation to start a relationship with Thayne. Karly’s fears of falling for Thayne would be more believable if she and Thayne would explain why they have such strong feelings for each other, besides the physical attraction they feel.
It is the mystery surrounding this ghost that is most interesting in Haunted. While Karly and Thayne are both dynamic characters who are easy to like, their romance is predictable, though entertaining to witness. The ghost haunting the Molverton Inn is complicated, seeking revenge and, at points, physically harming the people who cross her path. Karly’s job to eradicate such a stubborn spirit is not easy, and Nichols thoroughly explains the different steps a medium must take to protect the property and people, identify the spirit, and guide the spirit onto the next world. The mystery surrounding the identity of the spirit and how she became a ghost makes this book difficult to put down.
Haunted has many elements that make this book an exciting read. It is well-written; Nichols describes the characters and settings in a way that flows naturally with the action, and the way she paces the story builds suspense. She incorporates realistic dialogue, and the conversations between Karly and her sister are particularly witty and entertaining. Nichols creates complex characters with unique personalities, and readers cannot help but cheer on Karly in her quest to rid the Molverton Inn of a stubborn spirit and find happiness with Thayne.
Pages: 329 | ASIN: B077RMGLDM
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Going Gone is a fast-paced crime thriller, guaranteed to have you hooked from the very first page. The mood instantly begins with a tense and frightening scene where a little boy attempts to escape his kidnappers. He stumbles out onto the street where a private investigator, Kerry, is on her way home from a weekend with her best friend. She quickly springs into action, determined to return the boy to his family. Forming alliances with FBI Trackers, Kerry quickly discovers that not everyone is who they seem.
From here the story only becomes more intense as you delve into a world of FBI agents, kidnappers, terrorists and drug cartels. Many of the characters involved within the novel are integrated with the government and special task forces, giving the story a political twist. But who can you trust?
Between the chaos and action thrown between the agents and investigators, the young boy Tristan provides an innocent visual amongst a world of darkness. This innocence provides a relief in the heavy plot line and is a beautiful reminder of how precious children are. With children’s lives on the line, you will feel even more invested in the outcome of the story and their fate.
Anita Dickason paints a picture of the world of crime with such accuracy that you feel as though you are right there with the characters, rescuing children, hiding from criminals or driving away at high speeds with gunshots blaring in the distance. You won’t be able to put this novel down as each page takes you deeper and deeper into a world of criminals where confirmation of delivering packages will make your skin crawl.
I would rate this novel a 5/5 and would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a fast-paced, crime drama that will be sure to get your heart racing.
Pages: 301 | ASIN: B0725FL88K
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