“Prophecy of Thol”: Science Fiction at its Best!

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5stars

Prophecy of Thol

by Dawn Greenfield Ireland

This five-star beauty of a story is so well done I hardly know where to start. First of all, while it is definitely suitable for teens and young adults based on its content, as someone who has grandkids in that age group I thoroughly enjoyed it, too. More than enjoyed, actually. I loved it!

The author did a fabulous job of transitioning the heroine, seventeen year old D’Laine, from what had been a very trying time, to some semblance of normalcy as she prepared to go to college, to being plunged unexpectedly into an entirely different world.  Her premonitions in the form of nightmares provided great background and suspense. In most cases, giving the reader more information instead of less actually builds more suspense as you have so many more things to consider and worry about. Not only did D’Laine fall through a portal and find herself on another planet with a variety of weird creatures, she also was introduced to powers she possessed of which she had no idea! Her transition into the role effectively took the reader along for the ride in a very smooth and credible manner.

The unusual sentient creatures and their respective cultures were well-drawn, full of imagery, and convincing, as well as their interactions among themselves and the planet as a whole. The humans were just alien enough, being somewhat medieval in some senses, yet high-tech on another, making them relatable.

The advantage of having a modern earthling as a protagonist is that the descriptions can be familiar. Some of the comparison and references to sci-fi icons such as the Star Wars movies were effective and often humorous.  The science element was convincing as well, the physicists involved straight out of “The Big Bang Theory.” I loved the characters left behind on Earth and their efforts to find the portal so they could bring back D’Laine. On a subjective level, I thoroughly enjoyed the fact they were in Houston, where I used to live. Thus, I enjoyed the references to familiar places including the Katy Mills Mall and local roadways. It’s always a plus when the location details are authentic, which adds credibility. Those who have never been there never know the difference, but to those who have it makes the story come even more alive.

I’ll even forgive the fact the story broke one of my cardinal rules of writing, (which I posted today in my “Writing Tips”) about starting a story with the main character. I can forgive any deviance that works, in this case giving it a story-telling flavor similar to “The Princess Bride.” (However, if I had been the editor, I would have recommended using a prologue.)

For a while I was worried that the story would end with a cliff hanger. Fortunately, it had a very satisfying conclusion, yet I definitely look forward to the promised sequel, which is the perfect ending. This is a great story for all ages. Don’t miss it!

If you’re subscribed to Kindle Unlimited, you can read this jewel for free, or pick up your copy on Amazon here. An audio version is also available.

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Writing Tip of the Day

With the exception of prologues, always start your story with your main character. Readers want to know who the story is about right up front and will be confused if someone different kicks it off. #ASMSG #RRBC #amwriting

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Writing Tip of the Day

Most first drafts are heavy on action and dialog. Use the acronym IDEAS to make sure your story has the right balance of Imagery, Dialog, Emotion, Action, and Suspense.

redlines#ASMSG #RRBC #amwriting

Why We Need Portal Stories by Kamilla Benko

This is a wonderful blog about the need for stories that take us away, especially children and teens.

Nerdy Book Club

The best summer of my life began with a lie—and I was the one who told it.

We were bored (“we” being a handful of neighborhood kids, between the ages of 5 and 10), and hanging out on my wooden deck. It was hot and humid, in that suffocating way only Midwestern summers can be, and because there were so many of us, we weren’t allowed inside any of our air conditioned houses. But I was pleased as a creamsicle pop up that we were all here, on my deck. And then….a couple of the older kids stood up.

“Where are you going?” I asked, my smugness immediately replaced by panic.

“Inside,” they said. “It’s too hot. It’s too boring.” But what I thought they meant was You’retoo boring.

I couldn’t just let them leave.

“Someone broke into my room last night,” I blurted out.

“What?!”

Ha. That got…

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Robert Eggleton: The Man Behind a Landmark Story to Combat Child Abuse

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Child abuse is not only tragic, but complicated. It sullies all economic classes and cultures with no easy answers. Author Robert Eggleton, a child advocate of many years, has been in the trenches fighting this social ill for decades. His debut novel, a science fiction comedy entitled Rarity from the Hollow, evolved from his experiences, and he donates half of the sales proceeds to the West Virginia Children’s Home Society. I’ve read it and it’s not only outstanding but well-worth reading. You can find the review I wrote a while back here.

I’m honored that Robert agreed to an interview that will not only educate readers to the depth of the problem, but show this cultural warrior’s dedication to do whatever he can to combat this serious societal problem.

* * * * *

MF: Your career as a children’s advocate and counselor gave you first hand knowledge of the problems depicted in “Rarity from the Hollow.” At what point did you get the idea to incorporate your decades of experience into a story?

 RE: The characters in Rarity from the Hollow are more real than not. They are based on people that I’ve met during over forty years in my role as a children’s advocate in an impoverished state. The concept of sensitizing people to the huge social problem of child maltreatment through a comical and satiric adventure demanded that I use realistic characters. During my career, most of my jobs required the production of written materials – service models, policy, research…. In 2002, I went to work as a children’s psychotherapist for our local mental health center. It was my first job that my longstanding need to write was not, in part, met by performing within my scope of employment. – nonfiction published by public and private agencies in the field of child welfare, much of which is now archived by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

Part of my job at the mental health center was to facilitate group therapy sessions. In 2006, I met the real-life Lacy Dawn, the protagonist of my stories during one of those group psychotherapy sessions. She was an eleven year old empowered survivor of extreme child abuse and spoke about her hopes and dreams for a bright future. Although I’m not sure that it was a conscious decision at the time, I incorporated my experiences as a children’s advocate in her story because that is what I know best about life – hopes and dreams for the future despite any adversity.

* * * * *

MF: Those of us who are horrified by child abuse usually don’t want to read about it. While it’s a necessary component of the story, it nonetheless may be preventing some from reading it. Is there anything you’d like to say to these folks?

RE: Yes. While I believe that readers of my novel will become increasingly sensitized to child maltreatment, it is a fun read with tragedy amplifying the comedy and satire, as stated by some of the book’s reviews:rarityfrom the hollowcvr

“…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, only instead of the earth being destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass, Lacy Dawn must…The author has managed to do what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse, and written about them with tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…Eggleton sucks you into the Hollow, dunks you in the creek, rolls you in the mud, and splays you in the sun to dry off. Tucked between the folds of humor are some profound observations on human nature and modern society that you have to read to appreciate…it’s a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.” http://awesomeindies.net/ai-approved-review-of-rarity-from-the-holly-by-robert-eggleton/

“…I usually do not read or review books that discuss child abuse or domestic violence; however, I was intrigued by the excerpt and decided to give it a shot. I am glad that I took a risk; otherwise, I would have missed out on a fantastic story with a bright, resourceful, and strong protagonist that grabbed my heart and did not let go…if it does not make you think, you are not really reading it….”  http://www.onmykindle.net/2015/11/rarity-from-hollow.html

“…Full of cranky characters and crazy situations, Rarity From the Hollow sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved…” https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/rarity-from-the-hollow

* * * * *

MF: Your career must have been tremendously painful at times. How did you cope with it?

RE: I can’t remember a day since I entered the field in 1973 that I didn’t take work home with me, emotionally. For example, many tears were shed on one investigative report that I will never forget writing – “Daniel’s Death, West Virginia’s First Child Maltreatment Fatality Report.” I had to write that report at home because I didn’t want to become a mess at work – the West Virginia Supreme Court where everybody was dressed up as emotionally detached professionals. Despite the conviction of the parents, the term “murder” was edited out of my report, and I now agree that it became a more effective product because of the great editing. My state established a child fatality process, in part, as a result of this report.

A very short time after entering the field of child welfare, I focused on effectiveness of my work. This coping skill served me well as it increased over the years. All of the tears in the world will do little to help needful children, and my internalization of this fact kept me strong. That’s why I didn’t want Rarity from the Hollow to be a depressing or an emotionally draining story. I could have written another novel like Push by Sapphire, which I watched in 2009 as a movie backed by Oprah: Precious. But, I didn’t feel that this masterpiece was effective as a social change agent, so I wanted to produce a novel that people would enjoy reading, not just one that was merely meaningful.

* * * * *

MF: What do you think is the underlying cause of child abuse? Is there one thing that could greatly improve the situation?

RE: Rather than causation, let’s look at some of the correlates of child abuse:

  • undiagnosed or untreated mental health issues experienced by parents, such as Bipolar Disorder, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, or PTSD;
  • addiction or substance abuse by parents;
  • lack of economic opportunity within geographical areas, including when children are sold or traded by their parents as a source of income;
  • lack of support services for struggling families, especially including when children have mental or physical disabilities, such as ADHD, mental retardation, or demanding physical handicaps;
  • cultural or subcultural values, including sexism, within, as examples, religious cults or organizations that demean the value of women and children or which protect those who use extreme corporeal punishment or hide offensive behaviors of its members, such as sexual abuse;
  • insensitivity to the issue of child abuse, or failure to enforce existing laws, such as mandatory reporting by professionals involved with children;
  • failure to perform ethical duties by professionals, including intentional disregard by law enforcement, doctors, teachers, or religious leaders because they don’t want to get involved in potential child abuse cases;
  • parents who were abused as children and as a generational effect due to lack of treatment for the parent as victims;
  • parental stress related to bills and inadequate income – the parent simply losing self-control and later regretting and hiding the child abuse for fear of losing custody;
  • the natural mistrust felt by children when considering telling on adults who maltreat them, especially relatives or those adults in positions of authority.

This list is not exhaustive and I’m sure that you, Marcha, can come up with additional correlates. Several of these issues were addressed in Rarity from the Hollow. However, I do want to emphasize that there is nothing that blames or that is preachy in my story. Child abuse is not a simplistic good vs. evil issue, although the last item that I want to add to the list is PURE EVIL! During my career, I have met child abusers who have no identifiable redeeming quality and to qualify their abusive behaviors with a mental health diagnosis diminishes the significance of their evil.

The one thing that I think would help decrease child abuse is the belief that it is preventable. Being a parent is a tough job and “it takes a village” to raise a child. While some people might object to funding community-based supports for needful children and their parents, it costs a lot more in the long run if we close our eyes and ears to ignore this huge social problem.

* * * * *

MF: Dot Com’s artificial intelligence evolution was hilarious. Did you have an underlying message in mind with regard to where AI could possibly go?

RE: While I’ve appreciated compliments by book reviewers who have spoken about my wild imagination, I want to confess that the fantastical means employed by the alien in my story to treat the parents were based on today’s medical reality. Dwayne, the abusive father was a war damaged Vet experiencing anger outbursts and night terrors. The mother was a downtrodden victim of domestic violence who had lost hope of ever getting her G.E.D. or driver’s license, or of protecting her daughter. Diagnosis and treatment of these concerns affecting the parents, as representative of many similarly situated, was based on emerging technologies presented at the 2015 World Medical Innovation Forum: https://worldmedicalinnovation.org/ . Yes, in real life, like in my story, patients have been hooked up to computer technology for medial diagnosis and treatment.

Additional exciting research was presented at that Forum and may one day may revolutionize psychiatric treatment. Most relevant to my story were: (1) smart brain prosthetics, wireless devises being tested for potential to relieve depression, PTSD, Bipolar Disorder…neural engineering to manipulate brain signals; (2) sophisticated imaging systems that are minimally invasive to brain circuitry for diagnosis (3) and, healing the brain with neuromodulation and electroceuticals to treat depression and schizophrenia. http://hitconsultant.net/2015/04/30/tech-revolutionize-neurological-psychiatric-care/ I expect that medical science will continue to evolve and hope that it prioritizes treatment of those who most inflict injury on others.

* * * * *

MF: What drew you to writing? Is writing fiction something you’ve always aspired to or did it develop later?

RE: Writing is a compulsion for me. It doesn’t have to be fiction, but I couldn’t stop no matter how hard that I tried.

* * * * *

MF: Do you have any plans for a sequel to “Rarity from the Hollow”?

RE: The next Lacy Dawn Adventure is titled “Ivy.” It’s about an alien invasion of Earth, exploitation for mineral content, and the primary weapon used by the invaders is the addiction to a drug that causes narcissism or extreme ego centrism.

* * * * *

MF: You have a definite knack for dry humor. Any thoughts toward writing a book that lacks the darker elements?

RE: As a debut novelist, I’m still working on finding the compromise between aspiring to achieve literary excellence as avant garde and mainstream consumer expectations. Perhaps because this project is also an effort to raises funds to help abused children, yes, I have recurring thoughts about writing a book that lacks darker elements. I very much appreciate your finding that: “I can picture American Lit professors sometime in the distant future placing this masterpiece on their reading list.” But, some of these children will not live to see the future if more is not done to help them now, and I want to contribute.

* * * * *

MF: I suspect that most intelligent people at one time or another have thought that some people shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce. What are your thoughts on the matter?

RE: I try to stop myself from getting emotionally involved in should or should not type of issues. I’m sure that you noticed that the political parody in Rarity from the Hollow, unlike Animal Farm that you compared it to, was not preachy. I don’t know the answers to the most important questions that humans ask, and whether or not to reproduce given the totality of circumstances is one of life’s most important questions. If you remember, Lacy’s cousin in Rarity experienced a preteen pregnancy, an occurrence that may be correlated with human misery, but the baby became the pride and joy of the entire extended family.

I respect an individual’s right to self-determination, including about reproductive rights. For example, abortion is part of the animal kingdom and not unique to humanity. From rabbits living in overcrowded warrens, to orcas off the coast of the state of Washington aborting sixty percent of pregnancies, or Canadian caribou…while grief is impossible to measure, only humans seem to face such moral dilemmas about reproduction as you presented to me as a question.

As a notation about my personal values, although the National Organization for Women was established in 1966, I live in West Virginia and it wasn’t until 1969 or so that I participated in its first march in my state, one of the very few males to attend. I believe that this affiliation sums up my thoughts about reproduction and most humans.

Increasingly, medical sciences have presented findings that help us understand ourselves, including those of us who have mental illnesses, intellectual disabilities such as Downs Syndrome, and other, sometimes genetic, problems that could be passed on to offspring. Other fields have also presented information about cultural, religious, and sociological practices and beliefs that could be regarded as harmful to humanity if passed on to offspring. For example, Rarity presented the issues of immigration, extreme capitalism, and consumerism and its impact on the exploitation of one geographical area by members of a more aggressive geographic area –  beliefs, values, and practices that could be passed on to offspring, as well.

I believe that for me to express that a person with Downs Syndrome, for example, should be prevented from getting pregnant would be the same as saying that a very wealthy, greedy, dishonest, and exploitive member of the “High Class” should be prevented from getting pregnant because both scenarios present risk to humanity. Plus, there are no absolutes in life. The baby born with Downs Syndrome might experience a wonderful life that fills others with meaning and happiness. The baby “destined” to become a spoiled rich kid might, instead, turn out to become a great philanthropist.

All that said, in answer to this highly philosophical question, I respect the opinion of anyone who takes the time to educate oneself about the issues and who doesn’t propagandize or lie to promote one side or another.

* * * * *

MF: If you were king of the world for a day, what message would you deliver to the people of the planet?

RE: As King of the World for a day, my message would be:

Life is short, the blink of a cosmic eye from one generation to the next. Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel so that it ends at your correct destination.

Thanks, Marcha, for providing me an opportunity to tell your readers a little about myself and my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow.

MF: You’re certainly very welcome, Robert. I’m touched and impressed by your knowledge and dedication as you continue to do what you can to combat this horrific practice.

* * * * *

Here’s a short book trailer video:

Rarity from the Hollow is available at most sales channels, including K-Mart and Books-A-Million, and is also available electronically. Half of all proceeds are donated to the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.

A Vivid Backstory for Bible Lovers

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Some Shall Not Die — Philip

by Everett Cole

This story is an excellent example of well-executed Christian fiction.  The characters are well-developed, the research is outstanding, and it’s not preachy. Clearly, the main character, Philip, is passionate about sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but he does it in a natural, compelling manner. If you’re a Christian, you’ll find your faith strengthened by Philip’s quoting of Biblical verses and intrigued by how much of this story is historical truth and how much is fiction, as the two are blended beautifully.

As stated in the introduction, the premise is based upon a statement made by Jesus Christ and recorded in the Bible that promised that some of his disciples wouldn’t taste of death until Jesus returned. The story recounts the mission of Philip, one assumed to be one of these chosen few, and starts when he’s in Britannia, i.e. today’s United Kingdom, as his companion, Barnabas, dies. Following that event, he’s summoned to a meeting with the other disciples so he leaves to return to mainland Europe. He winds up in a small village in Northern Italy and become involved with the various citizens of a town called Martigny.

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like for these early Christian missionaries, this story will take you there. It’s a great history (and geography) lesson with regard to travel at that time as well as the Roman Empire’s influence. Threats early Christians faced, not only from the Romans, but the Druids as well as hoards of barbarians, who resented the Roman invasion of their land, are clearly explained. Living conditions of the time are well-represented, as well as the simple nature of the majority of people, who were mostly illiterate. This enjoyable story takes you on a fascinating journey and provides a powerful glimpse of what it was like to be one of the early Christians. While fictitious, it nonetheless will provide fascinating context to your comprehension of the New Testament. For that, I highly recommend it, especially since it’s suitable for family reading time if you or your children’s eyes glaze over when reading the actual scriptures.

As a Christian myself, but also a professional astrologer, I wasn’t surprised when the primary antagonist was an astrologer and mystic. Of course there have always been charlatans, but I can’t resist mentioning that if it weren’t for the Magi’s knowledge of astrology, they never would have found Jesus or recognized his significance. The Bible tells us to expect signs in the heavens (as well as in the Earth beneath), the recognition of which in the majority of cases will require a knowledge of astrology. What better way to keep people in the dark than to forbid such knowledge? Furthermore, all the Bible says against astrologers is that they’re not as powerful as prophets and are not intended to replace them.

To set the record straight, it was actually the Roman Empire who did all it could to keep astrology out of the hands of those who weren’t in the highest echelons of society; they wanted to control the common people and what they knew. Individuals are never encouraged by emperors and/or dictators (or even popes) to think for themselves.  Given the heavy influence on Christianity by the Romans, it’s no wonder that this false tradition has persisted in Christianity to this day.

I have found astrology to be so elegantly detailed and precise that it could have no origin other than from God, who created the stars and planets in the first place. Thus, how could their message not be from Him? A knowledge of astrology was required of those considered learned for centuries, but ironically fell out of favor during the Enlightenment, when most things spiritual in nature were dismissed as either nonexistent or of the devil when they couldn’t be proven with hard data.

The Sefer Yetzirah, the book of the Letters of Abraham, contains a wealth of information related to Jewish mysticism and Kabbalistic traditions. Astrology is mentioned in great detail. along with the statement that Abraham was the greatest astrologer of all time. It seems to me that’s a pretty high recommendation. Like so many other gifts given to man by our Creator, its use has been misunderstood and maligned to keep us from recognizing signs in the heavens and the many insights it can provide into our personal lives.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.

A Touching Autobiographical Account of One Woman’s Journey

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Born for Life: A Midwife’s Story

by Julie Watson

This book is the autobiographical account of a woman who was involved in childbirth much of her life. It took me a while to figure out where it was taking place, which I knew wasn’t the USA, but wasn’t sure where until it was stated eventually that it was New Zealand. That explained some of the terminology which was unfamiliar, but nonetheless, I could relate to this book on many levels.

First of all, as the mother of six children, I’ve been through the birth process personally enough times to understand much of what was recounted for numerous birth experiences. I suppose one I had that wasn’t mentioned was a posterior presentation. I was also surprised that women in labor whose membranes had ruptured were allowed in a bath, something that was a major no-no here in the USA. Other than that, most was familiar, other than names of different medications.

You really got to know the author through her experiences, some of which were heartrending, which of course life can be at times, especially with something as intense and life-changing as childbirth. She started out at the tender age of 16 as a nurse’s aide, then eventually later in life went to nursing school and certified as a midwife, which she’d dreamed of doing her entire life. I could relate to that as well, having returned to college when I was 35 to pursue a physics degree and my childhood dream, then eventually starting my career at 41 years old working for NASA.

This book also made me realize that a person doesn’t have to be famous to present an interesting story. I thoroughly enjoyed it throughout, eventually feeling as if I knew the author as a friend. I have thought of writing up some of my experiences, but wondered if anyone would care since I’m not famous. This story, however, demonstrated the value of stories of ordinary people who have done something remarkable. Anyone who feels as if they’re too old to pursue their dreams needs to read books like this, which will remind them not to give up. However, be warned, this one has a whole bunch of somewhat graphic descriptions of the birth process, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea for entertainment. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it tremendously.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.