Now that Paul O’Brien has returned from serving in Vietnam, he wants nothing more than to piece together a meaningful life. But the war-spawned, guilt-driven nightmares won’t stop haunting him. In an era when veterans refuse to speak of their pain and the government denies that thousands of soldiers are coming home irreparably damaged, Paul is left to deal with the challenge of caring for his family amidst his erratic flashback episodes and moods. As his life unravels from the lingering effects of PTSD, Elizabeth is committed to helping him overcome the obstacles in their path. Determined to live in love, they struggle a lifetime with the burden that Paul brought home. However, in spite of the darkness he carries, he still manages to create a legacy of light, compassion, and understanding that Elizabeth and their children will keep forever.
Posted in book trailer
Tags: Alexa Kingaard, author, book, book review, book trailer, bookblogger, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, KEEP FOREVER, kindle, kobo, literature, love story, military, nook, novel, ptsd, read, reader, reading, romance, story, trailer, true story, veteran, vietnam, war, writer, writing
Keep Forever follows a Vietnam veteran who struggles with PTSD as he tries to piece together a meaningful life. This is a novel based on a true story. What is the origins of the story?
Anyone who was a teenager in the 60s’ and 70s’ has Vietnam firmly embedded in their history. It’s the story of my generation, and many of my girlfriends married veterans either right out of high school or when the men returned. Women played a part in-country, mostly as nurses and unsung heroines, but overall, it was a war fought by middle and lower class males, those who were not college bound or who were unable to get a deferment. As with every conflict, combat veterans are plagued with mental and physical burdens upon their return home, but none were vilified like the young men and women who fought in Vietnam. It stained their psyches, and many passed it down to their children – the second generation to suffer the effects of the most unpopular war in our country’s history. Wives were kept in the dark, the VA was not established until the late 80s’, and PTSD didn’t have a name. Aftercare was minimal, and many kept their unseen wounds bottled up for decades.
I fell in love with a Vietnam veteran in 1969, nine months after he came home. This guy, and many like him, were just kids. Surfing and attending community college one day, picking up a machine gun and participating in a bloody fight for their lives the next. We married almost a decade later, had two children, and divorced after eleven years. But there was always that link that never faded and a lot of guilt that I carried because I didn’t have the insight to deal with or understand PTSD at the time.
September 27, 2011 – My veteran and I had become close again and spent almost all our free time together. His health was failing, he suffered from depression, but it had become less intense and on this day he was at the top of his game. We were returning from a coffee date in the Village about a mile away from his home. As I waited at the bottom of the hill to make a left turn a half a block away from our destination, we were rear-ended by a vehicle twice as heavy as mine, going 45 miles an hour. Physically, we were not hurt. My car sustained $6,000 worth of damage. The impact of the collision triggered a PTSD episode in my veteran. Seventeen days later, on October 13th, he committed suicide.
The only way I found to cope with mine and our children’s grief was to write about the oppressive, lifelong burden he brought home and the collateral damage he left in his wake. At sixty-eight years old, I became a writer, but it was not a vanity project. Rather, it was an inspiration to share my story and honor all Vietnam veterans with a love story based on fact. I am not the only wife, and our children are not the only youngsters that live daily with the unseen wounds of a family member who suffers a lifetime with the memories and guilt of their participation in war. The other day, I saw a very potent cartoon on Facebook, posted by a Vietnam veteran. A soldier, rifle slung over his shoulder, head down and staring at the Vietnam Wall. At the top of the page, the caption read, “When was the last time you were in Vietnam?” At the bottom of the page, the caption read “Last night……”
What were some aspects of the novel that you fictionalized and what were some aspects you stuck close to the facts?
When I started stringing the beginning, middle and end together in my head, I knew I had to place the two main characters, Paul and Elizabeth, in a position that would make their love story believable. I had never written or published anything prior to this endeavor, so I drafted it in my head before I ever put pen to paper. While the story was inspired by the life I shared with my veteran and our children, it became my mea culpa, my deepest apology for not understanding the gravity of PTSD and making choices that were unwise over the course of our history. The childhood years of Paul and Elizabeth are pure fiction compared to mine and my Veteran, but I felt the need to structure their early losses, weave them into the storyline and create a common thread for making their attraction to one another a natural evolution of their friendship.
I did create the character and personality of Paul in the image of my Veteran, but Elizabeth, I have to admit, was created from the perspective of what I learned and dealt with after my veteran took his life. She was a better version of me, but also a reflection of most wives who live with and love Vietnam veterans.
The anguish depicted in difficult, heartbreaking scenes was real, even though some were embellished for better or worse. My veteran was kind and funny, never a harsh word for anyone, but was also a hoarder. He truly did resemble Santa Claus at the end of his life, with an extra fifty pounds that added a cumbersome gait to his 5’8″ frame, thick white hair grown to shoulder length, and a long beard he rarely trimmed. He carried a duffle bag with him just to get coffee or go to a movie, adored our children, and had a host of idiosyncrasies that were as endearing as they were frustrating. Both my Veteran and the character, Paul, received purple hearts and suffered from PTSD. The suicide attempt and subsequent hospitalization were factual, along with many other descriptions of their home, and surroundings. Truth and fiction were interwoven throughout the second half of the novel, although out of context in some instances. The most important reality to me was the ice cream cone with Elizabeth’s name…yes, there really was an ice cream cone with my name on it, which I still have in a Tupperware container after thirty years. My veteran, I discovered when I sifted through his accumulation of inanimate objects, had never thrown it out. That one item was the inspiration for the title, KEEP FOREVER, as we are an amalgam of memories, good and bad, that linger, remind, soothe and terrify all of us throughout our lives. As in the book, my Veteran scrawled the words, “Keep 4Ever” on everything from taxes and bank statements, to Christmas cards and shopping lists. Nothing was ever thrown out…certainly not his memories.
Paul’s death was the most important chapter that I wrote. It was difficult to re-live, but it purged my soul because I got to change history. It was my novel, my story, and I could make any ending I wanted, so I strayed from the truth in the manner in which he died; however, I drew on the experience of my Veteran’s funeral to describe the pomp and circumstance and the emotional good-bye to a member of a military family that is laid to rest in a National cemetery. I hope this bittersweet story helps to convey the sacrifices of all our veterans, especially those who served in Vietnam, and reminds readers that not all wounds are visible.
I thought this book was an emotional story. What were some themes that were important for you to focus on?
In my mind, and in speaking with many Vietnam veterans that I know personally, collateral damage to wives and children was a topic that had not been explored in a historical, Vietnam-era story. Most are memoirs of service members in battle, and written from the point of view of one person. I tried to capture the roller-coaster that exists with all family members, from birth through adulthood, in an effort to highlight how the internal battle of a veteran affects the entire family unit. I also wanted to make the point that most veterans refuse to speak of their pain, and what they keep bottled up inside is the most damaging to themselves and their loved ones.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
This is the 2nd edition of KEEP FOREVER, and a deeper version than my first that was self-published in Feburuary, 2018. In between then and the re-release in March, 2020, I wrote and published MY NAME IS ROSE, another nostalgic story, about a young girl raised in a commune during the 1970s’. It has become an Amazon #1 Best Seller, as well as a first-place winner in an International Book Competition in 2019. KEEP FOREVER also topped the Amazon Charts soon after the second release, with #1 spots in New Releases, Vietnam War History, 1960s’ History of the US, and 1960s’ American History.
During my first nine weeks of quarantine, I completed the first draft of my third novel, MIRACLE. And yes, another piece of nostalgia, which seems to be what I am drawn to. The story revolves around two young women in the 1950s’. One lives in Southern California and must come to terms with the fact that four unsuccessful pregnancies leaves adoption as the only option for herself and her husband. The inability to qualify with the adoption agency due to their advancing age – almost thirty was old in the 50s’ – steers them towards an alternative solution of adopting a child outside the United States. During this time, the Canadian government created maternity homes for young women who were without a spouse or family assistance. After giving birth, it was understood that they would leave their baby behind for adoption by a suitable couple. The second young lady finds herself in a position that demands she reside in one of these homes for the last part of her pregnancy as she agonizes about the ultimate sacrifice she is being forced to make. Ultimately, these two women are destined to connect, but the ending is not as one might suspect. I hope to have MIRACLE ready for publication by mid-2021.
Keep Forever is a book that will sit with you for a long time and bring to light subjects you hadn’t thought of. The book focuses on two men during the Vietnam War. Paul and Sam. Both wounded in the war and sent home; they have to relearn how to be who they are in a society that didn’t believe in the war. While Paul’s scars are internal and Sam’s are in your face, both men realize that moving on from the war isn’t as easy as they thought it would be. The book also focuses on Sam’s sister and the journey she takes from being a young woman to a woman who has grown and matured while trying to help her family.
As a military veteran’s wife, this hit home, and I cried at some parts, wondering what would have happened if my spouse had been alive during the Vietnam War. I could relate to the characters personally as my husband has PTSD and found myself crying for Sam, Paul, and Sam’s sister Elizabeth when reading everything they had to endure. It seemed like they faced so much adversity and struggle, but life is like that, and it reflected what we all go through.
I liked Sam’s character but felt he didn’t get enough time to fully develop. We can assume he lived a peaceful life and had children who had children, but we never hear what happens to him. We stop hearing about Sam about halfway through, and I did find myself wanting to know more about his life and journey. The only other small issue I had was with the ending which didn’t bring the conclusion I wanted… but I suppose this is a good reflection of life in a way. I could guess the ending before it happened, and had braced myself for it, (though I still burst into tears having felt a connection to the characters and their story), but the last two pages were not a good ending for me.
I do think this book is beautifully written and sheds light on a crucial issue and issues that affect the military. I honestly respect anyone who has ever put on a uniform and feel that the author did the book justice, by how it was written. I just wanted a different ending for the characters, but this was because I genuinely fell in love with them.
Pages: 282 | ASIN: B0863F1WCV
The Cabin: A Murder Mystery is a twisting murder mystery that follows a homicide detective trying to solve a case in his hometown. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?
Buck Woods was a character I originally created as a back woods trapper when I attempted to write a story when I was 14 years old. I liked the name so I made Buck an NYPD Homicide Detective. Since I’m a fan of James Patterson and Stuart Woods, I decided to attempt a murder/mystery novel as my first book. I choose Orono, Maine for Buck’s home town just from looking at a map of the United States.
Before publishing the book, my wife and I took a trip to Orono to check out the location. By personally checking out the setting it helped me get the facts straight, and make the story more authentic.
Buck is an interesting character that I thought was well developed. What were some driving ideals behind his character?
I tried to develop Buck into a strong caring character that people can identify with. However, I gave him obstacles he had to deal with on a daily basis. PTSD from his Gulf War days, self-blame and feelings of guilt from the death of his teenage girlfriend, Doreen Warren and the murder of his NYPD partner, Cheryl Jenkins were a few of the challenges Buck had to work through.
I enjoyed the mystery that unfolded. Was this planned or did it develop organically while writing?
The Cabin: A Murder Mystery started as a rough idea. Once I determined what the story would be about, I sat down at my computer and began to write the first chapter. I walk every day for almost two hours.
This gives me time to think and plot my story and develop characters. I find this is the best way for me to write. I don’t sit down and plot every scene on paper like other writers do.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next novel is now completed and will be edited this April. The book is called New York City Murders. Homicide Detective Buck Woods returns to New York City and teams up with a new partner, a beautiful woman named Kristie Karlsson. The novel is a stand-alone sequel to The Cabin: A Murder Mystery.
Buck Woods, a stressed-out NYPD homicide detective and former Marine Scout sniper on sabbatical, returns home to Orono, Maine.
Upon arriving back in town, Buck meets up with his old high school friend, Detective Jim Barkowsky of the Orono PD. Jim invites Buck to stay with him, his wife, and their two children.
The next morning Buck and Jim go to check out Buck’s new home, an old run-down log cabin he inherited from his grandfather on two acres of land on Punshaw Lake. Upon entering the cabin, they discover the decomposing body of an unidentified man. The victim died from a single gunshot wound. It is obvious that he was murdered.
Buck and Jim set out to solve the murder by putting together the pieces of the puzzle. Unexpected twists, turns, and obstacles abound, leading to a climax that puts Buck’s life on the line.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: A Murder Mystery, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, crime, crime fantasy, crime ficiton, dave frolick, detective, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, gulf war, homicide, ilovebooks, indiebooks, james patterson, kindle, kobo, literature, murder, mystery, nook, novel, nypd, ptsd, publishing, read, reader, reading, shelfari, smashwords, story, Stuart Woods, suspense, The Cabin, thriller, writer, writer community, writing
A Soldier’s Thoughts: A Collection of Poems by Duke Sherman is an interesting, decent sized assemblage of poetry. Each poem captures different parts of his life. In doing so, Sherman shares intimate thoughts, feelings, and aspects of his life with the reader. His poems run the gamut of his experiences as a soldier, PTSD, depression, and about his love life and other life experiences. Intertwined through these poems are also spiritual and religious messages and beliefs along with some political beliefs. Sherman is honest in sharing his life with the reader and does not hold back any of his thoughts.
This book is a hefty book of poetry. It deals with feelings and experiences of one man’s life. In the beginning, it offers an introduction where the writer speaks of the many different definitions of what makes a soldier. One can be a person who has fought in the military, while the other is someone who has fought hard in their life. Sherman is depicted as a soldier in both senses of the word.
Reading through Sherman’s poetry, you get a sense for the man himself. Not only do you get deep, intimate thoughts, but the reader also gets the author’s introspection and strong belief systems. A book of poetry in this sense is telling of the person’s character and a sense of who they are. Reading Sherman’s words was like an autobiography given in fragments. The poems are broken up in different formats, which flow nicely. The rhyming of the poems gives each one a nice rhythm as well.
I learned a lot reading the collection. Much of it was thought-provoking. Sherman is a veteran. Because of this, he wrote a series of flashbacks detailing the destruction he saw in war. As a result, there was a lot of patriotism mentioned. It really made you think about how soldiers were and are currently treated and what patriotism means to certain people.
One of the aspects of the book that was interesting was the disjointed way in which the poems were presented. There was no chronological time in which each poem was presented; it jumped around. At one point, there would be flashbacks as a soldier in Vietnam, and then at another point, it would be talking about one of his many loves or children. I felt that it was a good metaphor for how thoughts are often loose and disconnected, especially when recalling memories. The way it was written really made me feel as if I was in Sherman’s head.
I could also tell that the way he wrote was a way of healing, which is what poetry is about. It is an art form that some like to share with others. I could definitely feel the intensity of his feelings through his written word. I would recommend this book for anyone who may be interested in what it is like to be a veteran or to learn more about war as it is a deeply personal account.
Pages: 386 | ASIN: 1477146423
Posted in Book Reviews
Tags: a collection of poems, A Soldiers Thoughts, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, depression, duke sherman, ebook, goodreads, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, love, nook, novel, patriotism, poem, poetry, politics, ptsd, publishing, read, reader, reading, religious, shelfari, smashwords, soldier, spiritual, story, veteran, vietnam, war, writer, writer community, writing
Second chances are not easy to come by, but when they roll around, you grab them and hold on for dear life. No family quite knows the truth of this old adage as well as the McPhalan clan. Kate, Alex, and their mother, Marian, share a bond that unites them in more ways than one. All three women have had a relationship with Carl, and all three of them have found ways to discover love once more. When Kate decides to breathe new life into Mockingbird Valley Ranch, the home in which they all lived as a young family, mother and both daughters are presented with an amazing and unforeseen opportunity to renew themselves and their relationships with one another as adults.
Mallory M. O’Connor’s American River Trilogy focuses on several different storylines surrounding the McPhalan family. These parallel plots play nicely against one another as the book progresses. Readers are treated to thorough descriptions of Kate and Alex’s backgrounds as well as a clear look at Marian’s history. O’Connor includes a lengthy list of secondary characters with their own storylines and this, at times, can be a little difficult to follow.
Set in the 1970s, O’Connor masterfully integrates mentions of now historic events alongside the characters’ numerous dilemmas. She covers everything from the moon landing to the increasing focus on feminism. Each of the events and historical aspects gives the book a richer and more polished feel.
American River Trilogy touches on a variety of difficult topics including post-traumatic stress disorder and interracial relationships. O’Connor deals with each of these highly-charged topics with style and grace. Her characters are genuine and leave readers rooting for them every step of the way.
Alex’s particular story line is tragic and likely the most down-to-earth of any of the characters. The trauma of her past and the way it impacts her present life is a striking commentary on an all-too-common facet of the lives of many. O’Connor’s slow reveal of Alex’s damaged childhood is effective and powerful. As much as I found Carl’s inclination to move through the women in the McPhalan family to be somewhat disgusting in retrospect, I saw a whole new side of him when he came to Alex’s aid in her time of need.
O’Connor’s writing is, what I would consider, specialized. There exists a specific audience for this particular piece. Centered around the arts and focusing primarily on the world of music, there is a plethora of discipline-specific terms and ideas within American River Trilogy. I did not find myself able to relate easily to many of Kate and Alex’s experiences.
Readers who seek historical accuracy intermingled with their drama will appreciate O’Connor’s particular style. Classically-trained musicians and those who enjoy reading fiction with a peppering of music-specific terms will find American River Trilogy the perfect read.
Pages: 394 | ASIN: B079659RH5
Posted in Book Reviews
Tags: alibris, American River, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, california, ebook, family, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, historical, history, ilovebooks, indiebooks, interracial, japanese, kindle, kobo, literature, Mallory M OConnor, music, nook, novel, post-traumatic stress, ptsd, publishing, read, reader, reading, shelfari, smashwords, story, Tributaries, writer, writer community, writing
Damaged follows Kiera as she is struggling to deal with her painful past and her emotions for a love from her past. What was the inspiration for the setup to this emotional novel?
I never wanted to be a writer. It honestly never crossed my mind. This novel developed because I had a scenario that kept repeating in my head over and over again. One day I figured I would write it down and maybe it would stop. Once I started writing everything began to click together. Kiera is a lot like me. She is very self conscious about the way she looks. She suffers from severe anxiety and PTSD. These are elements that hit close to home with me and my family.
Damaged is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a romance, mystery, and thriller as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
This happened organically as I wrote. I actually wrote the scene at the club first and branched out from there. I love books that keep you on the edge of your seat. I’m one of those readers that will put a novel down unless it catches my attention and holds it. I tried to soup that into this novel.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
I loved writing about Kiera, but Anna has been my favorite. She’s sassy, independent and knows exactly what she wants.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
I’m currently writing Anna’s story. I had to take a break as I entered into the US Army as an Officer. I’m back at it now and hope to have it out before the end of the year.
Ethan can’t forget the day he’d found her, beaten and bloody on the side of the road, barely alive. That one unsolved case changed Ethan’s life as a detective.
Kiera never told anyone what had happened to her the night she’d gone missing. In the aftermath of the attack, she flees town, leaving everything behind. Over time, she manages to build a new life for herself, keeping the painful memories locked in the deep recesses of her mind. But a chance encounter releases them with a vengeance, along with an attraction she never expected to have.
When her past threatens her future, will Kiera be able to trust Ethan to help her once more? Will Ethan still want her after he learns the truth?
Posted in Interviews
Tags: alibris, anxiety, army, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, ck green, damaged, ebook, facebook, goodreads, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, love story, nook, novel, officer, ptsd, publishing, read, reader, reading, romance, self concious, shelfari, smashwords, story, twitter, us, writer, writer community, writing
For talented twenty-year-old Remi, home is an abandoned hotel in San Diego. A foster child with a tragic past, her family has become the two boys she looks after like a mother: six-year-old Benny, who’s diabetic and in a wheelchair, and young teen Owen, an emotionally scarred foster-home runaway. The only adult around is Brock, an Irish army vet with PTSD who lives in the hotel lobby and is their protector.
Remi works in a diner by day, but sings on street corners and attracts the attention of Jude, a young music producer with his own troubled past. Mesmerized by her voice, he offers her a contract. Remi seems close to achieving her dream of opening a music academy for youth and keeping her little family together. But in this seedy, dangerous world where gang members rule the streets, nothing can stay the same for long.
Jane C. Brady’s latest novel is a bittersweet tale of what it means to be young, powerless, and want more out of life.
Posted in book trailer
Tags: alibris, author, author life, authors, book, book club, book geek, book lover, book trailer, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, ebook, Echoes in the Streets, fantasy, fiction, foster, goodreads, ilovebooks, indiebooks, jane c brady, kindle, kobo, literature, love, music, mystery, nook, novel, ptsd, publishing, read, reader, reading, romance, shelfari, sing, smashwords, story, suspense, teen fantasy, trailer, writer, writer community, writing, young adult, youtube