Hollywood Book Festival Review

Neb on AmazonI am happy to announce that Neb the Great made Honorable Mention in the 2014 Hollywood Book Festival in genre based fiction.  This means that every book of The Deliverance Trilogy has won something.  ARAM won runner up for an Indie Publishing Contest.  Ishtar’s Redemption made finalist in the Tuscany Press Writing Contest and now Neb the Great has won this Honorable Mention in the Hollywood Book Festival. Also ARAM and Ishtar’s Redemption has won the Catholic Writers Seal of Approval while Neb the Great is under review for that.  What a great way to start a Monday!

Here are some great books for great minds.

The Scholar's ChallengeThere are very few books I would strongly recommend to Christians across the board but The Scholar’s Challenge qualifies. I found this book to be interesting as well as
vastly informative. It is really two books in one. Both are told from a servant’s point of view but the first is focused on Origen, the great third century Christian thinker and philosopher who did wonders to organize early church documents into a coherent whole. He did some serious speculating which put him into serious trouble but he was obedient to the Apostolic Tradition and bowed to church authority. The second book focused on Jerome, another early Christian thinker, who did a great deal to carry the message of Christ and the teaching of the church to the next generations, albeit, not always without controversy. I am not nearly as good a scholar as Julian Bauer so I can’t pretend to outline all his points but I found his book to be very insightful, well balanced, and engaging. I learned a lot from this book, though I’d need to read it over a few more times to pass any serious quiz. I have already put this on next year’s reading list for all my high school students. I can’t imagine a teacher who wouldn’t want to buy and share this book with inquisitive young minds. Wonderful job!

Reviews for ARAM

Cover for ARAM 2013I have been blessed with some very positive reviews from new readers.  Here are two recent reviews for ARAM:


If you like religious fiction and fantasy novels, you’ll love the Deliverance Trilogy by A.K. Frailey. I had a chance to interview her about the books, and she does a better job describing them than I. I really enjoyed the first two books, and I’m looking forward to reading the third! It’s a very family-friendly book for older readers, a series that parents don’t have to worry about their kids reading. What was the inspiration behind the Deliverance Trilogy?

The Deliverance Trilogy began with ARAM as a simple story which told about a man’s search for the one true God in a world of chosen evil. It was basically a revelation (man coming to know the mind of God) as in the prayer the Shema:
“Hear, O Israel:
The Lord is our God
the Lord alone. You shall
love the Lord your God
with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your might.”
But Aram was born before Israel was in existence…before there was a united people of God. But I have always thought that in order for any man to do any great thing God prepares the way generations before with other faithful men and women who were open to the will of God.
IshtarCVBook two, Ishtar’s Redemption – Trial by Fire, simply continues the conversation that ARAM started. Humanity is broken and prone to sin. Ishtar is a man who falls not just once but repeatedly and it is in his weakness that he finally finds the answer we all need – that we are not strong enough to go it alone against evil and death. We may insist that we have good hearts and clean minds but the powers of darkness are too much for any man to struggle against alone. As both Ishtar and Obed learn, it is not enough to want to be good, or to be learned, or to be strong…one needs a real living God or one becomes lost in a maelstrom of horror which insidiously overtakes our souls.
            Book three, Neb the Great – Shadows of the Neb_Cover front cover onlyPast, was written at the request of my children. They wanted to know how the Neb got to be the way he was. It was a worthy question and one I could not run from. In looking back on the forces that formed Neb the Great who was the grandfather of Ishtar’s father, thus his great-grandfather, I came to realize, in considering my own family history, how the sins of the past do follow down through generations and how it takes a special grace to break free from those chains of bad habits and over reaching pride. Neb the Great made choices and those choices led him to a certain end….but there is hope because Ishtar made very different choices and the book ends not with Neb but with Ishtar’s grandson.
2) When you started writing, did you anticipate it being a trilogy?
No, not really, it just grew into one. I wanted to write a story large enough that it would be capable of delving deeply into the human experience as we journey together on this earth, but I couldn’t accomplish even a semblance of that end until I had written all three books.
3) What do you consider to be the main themes explored in the books?
The main themes would be the search of man to discover the answer to his soul’s deepest longing.  Also the consequence of chosen evil. The hope of redemption and the release from generational sin. Finally, the undying hope that God instills in the human heart for God will never abandon His own.
4) Who are some of your favorite authors to read?
No surprise that I enjoy reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings since I have written a book about the Christian themes in his books. And I admire his attempt to reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, eternal truth that is with God.  I also enjoy G.K. Chesterton’s works.  From a man who said: “Fairy Tales are more than true. Not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” I definitely feel a kindred spirit. I also have enjoyed reading Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset for her grand medieval landscapes and large family interaction. For fun I like to read anything by Jane Austen.


Deliverance Trilogy, #1

I thought that this book was going to be about Aram, however it was about the people that Aram led and the people that he affected. There was a really good paranormal twist in the book and I also loved the clan loyalty as well. This is the first book in a trilogy and I cannot wait to read the rest. I hope that Aram made the right decision at the end of this book. I liked the end, but like I said, was it the best choice? The family dynamics in this book were interesting and I definitely felt for Aram’s loss. The beast threw a wrench into Aram’s plans and as his past comes back to haunt him he is faced with the most difficult choices of his life.

I was really involved in this story and there was a lot of action. I am giving this book a 4.5/5.

I was given a copy to review from Night Owl Reviews, however all opinions are my own.


Georgios symbol-fish2When I got married I had no idea what I was doing. In fact, I still don’t.  Not because I wasn’t an intelligent person who understood the depth of commitment I was undertaking or because I didn’t know the laws of the church concerning marriage when we were married.  I did then and I do now.  And since my husband and I have been married for 18 years now and been blessed with eight living children, you’d think that I understood marriage inside and out as well as parenting…homeschooling…friendship and a host of other relationships, but the thing that comes clearer as each year passes is that I have only just begun to see the perfection, the depth, the height, the breath of what God calls us to in marriage, in motherhood, in family life, in friendship.

I have learned that marriage is impossible without the life of God in our souls.  So it is with good parenting and with everything else.  It is called “grace” but many people think this is should be served up as a nice warm comfy feeling in our hearts – when in fact I think it is most often served up cold in the most extraordinary ways – when you are least expecting it.  When my husband was diagnosed with Leukemia, it was a total act of grace that allowed my son to turn to Mary, the Mother of God, for help. He knew that anyone who loved Jesus would take care of his father.  It was a series of graces which kept me calm and at peace when John was in the hospital, and it has been grace that has allowed John to accept God’s will in all things – even in this terrible sickness.  John has been able to consistently look at the bright side and keep an attitude of gratitude through out months and years of suffering.  If that isn’t grace – I don’t know what is.

And parenting is much the same.  I would never have survived any pregnancy without the conviction born of something beyond my present sight that not only I would survive the pain of morning sickness but I would actually be able to raise good kids who would love and support each other.  Grace has been a moment by moment experience which supports those big decisions with little acts of faithful commitment – doing the daily work of living right; feeding people, cleaning up, teaching, paying bills, talking out misunderstandings, forgiving and forgetting the stupid and bad stuff…fulfilling our lofty vocation as a son or daughter of God.

Holy audacity tells me that sometimes God tells us to forge ahead with impossible tasks because He has all the strength needed to make the impossible possible.  Sometimes God closes doors so that that He can teach us to move mountains out of the way.  That’s grace.

Rather Like Poetry

cup of teaI have met a few people in my life whose wisdom, though quiet and unpretending, has had a great influence on me. Most often I do not know much of their history, but I always wonder – what made them so wise? When I have looked into it, I have come across a commonality: they all had to endure some seriously trying times. Often they had to face their own limitations, tremendous frustrations, even battles against temptation and evil. One of the dearest and most decent of men I ever met was a Chinese professor who was living at our house while he was studying at the university. My mother rented rooms to foreign students – which was something of an education for me. This gentleman was so soft spoken that when he did speak everyone listened for he had a way of saying things which were incredibly beautiful – rather like poetry – very sincere and heartfelt. He noticed things and he appreciated every detail of life.

I saw him as a strong and capable person, so I was not overly concerned when I knew it was time for him to return to China. But one afternoon, as we were enjoying a cup of tea at the kitchen table, he looked at me intently and told me that I needed to listen to him for a few minutes; he then proceeded to tell me about his life. He had been a successful professor, but one day he gave a talk which praised democracy and shortly after that he was a taken from his home, away from his wife and child and parents, and he was made to work on a farm of some kind. It had been years since he had seen his family. But with changing times, the government had decided to educate its people again, and he was called out from his servitude and sent to a university in America so that he could be a professor again, teaching what they wanted him to teach. I asked him why he didn’t just stay in the U.S. but he said that he wanted to see his family again. He could not run away. It was better to be brave and face what he must face in China.

I asked him why he told me all this when there was nothing I could do to help; I was just a teenager at the time, and he said that he just wanted someone to know. And I have known and remembered his story all my life. I have prayed for him and his family. There are many people who have endured so much suffering, so much trial, so much grief and yet they can still see goodness, they still believe in being brave, they can still experience lives of poetry….and mean it.

Sometimes the greatest voices in the world are the quiet ones, the ones who have seen much, have experienced incredible things, though they will not say much about themselves. Yet on a blessed day, we might have a conversation over a cup of tea and our lives will be enriched and renewed forever.

On Guard

IMG_0196 (2)Blagobear rereading his favorite storyIt does not take a great deal of penetrating insight to see that our society loves good stories.  Why is that?  I think in large part it is because the imagination can go to such wondrous places – far away and long ago – and as Tolkien once said so very well “…the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God.” (J.R.R. Tolkien:A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter)

Unfortunately not all fiction takes our children to God.  Some very palpably draw our children from Him. Our schools have an obligation to introduce our children to the highest quality literature but under the guise of “realism” some very dark and hideous material is presented to them.

I had a rather dramatic episode clearly demonstrate this reality to me a few years ago.  My son was enrolled in an on-line creative writing class and after a few weeks, he came to me with a disturbing reading selection.  It involved a scene with an adult woman in bed with a 16 year old boy, her emotional manipulation of the boy to kill her husband, and a vivid description of the murderous deed.  When  I protested to the teacher about this selection, she said it was a mistake and she purged it from the system.  Three weeks later another selection appeared worse than the first in which a young girl was being sexually molested by boys, her repeated rape by her father and then her eventual, vividly described suicide.  I again protested, this time taking my son out of the class. I was assured that it was another mistake.  The school has sincerely apologized and took steps to assure me that these kinds of selections wouldn’t slip in again though the teacher didn’t say anything other than “I respect your choice.”  My concern here is two fold.  One, this class had been going on for some time and the assigned readings had been given, and undoubtedly read, by many students before my son brought it to my attention.  Why didn’t any other student protest?  And if they did, why didn’t any other parent take the simple steps of having this material purged?  My second concern is that these selections were taken from a school text book.  What in the world are our texts books putting out?

I had another mother come to me recently and tell me she had to pull her daughter out of her freshman literature class because two of the books were clearly inappropriate, one being unashamedly pornographic.  She had me look at the book and after perusing it for only a few moments, I came upon a scene in which a man was taking a woman’s under clothes off her body…graphic language included.  Is this what we are paying for?  Is this what we entrust our children to?

I have been a teacher for a lot of years; I have worked in both public and private schools, and I have known heroic teachers who work very hard to ensure that our children receive the best of educations, but I have seen examples of the opposite too.  There is something wrong when students are given such horrendous material and only a very few voices are raised in  protest.

Are we too busy to see what is being given to our children or are we perhaps fed the lie that “Well, this is the real world and we best let our children know the truth.”  I had to ponder this possibility, and I came to the simple conclusion that yes – pornography, rape, seduction, and corruption of all kinds, is the real world – in hell.  But that is not where I plan on sending my kids.  That is not what I want them educated in –  Elementary Evil 101.

We are a busy people, parents especially so, but we have a higher calling than even our earthly supervisors can supersede and that is to be the authorities and mentors of our children.  We must know what they are reading and being exposed to; we bear the responsibility when their souls are turned from God because we did little protect their purity and guide their values. Schools can be wonderful places for education in so many ways, but parents are the primary educators of their children and as such we must be on guard.

Quiet Time

Cover for ARAM 2013Onias is a husband and father in the book ARAM who has to face the fact that he might soon die from a terminal illness and when that reality hits him he has to decide what is most important in his life. Why does it often take dreadful illness or some other catastrophe to get us to think and act meaningfully in our own lives? Too often we move from one duty and distraction to another throughout the course of the day without really choosing with purposeful thought what we are doing or how we are living. It would be rather tragic to realize. at the end, that we never really lived our lives, rather we just sort of rambled through them.

But how do we move from merely reacting to thoughtful action? We need time to think. And when do we get time to think? Not when the radio, t.v., computer, or sports/other game is going on in our midst. We need quiet time to think. We need quiet time as much as we need air to breathe, though we can hold our spiritual breath for years it seems. Quiet time, alone with our thoughts, can be very intimidating because often we have difficult memories and concerns which pop into our minds: guilt over things we have done, or not done, grief over old injuries, the loneliness of being misunderstood. There are a lot of reasons to keep busy so that our minds do not dwell on the difficult stuff. But it is the difficult stuff that can bring us to real peace as Onias eventually realized. At some point, we have to face out past and our fears. We also have to take responsibility for our present.

Being alone and listening to the little voice in our head and facing the haunting specters of guilt, grief, and sadness can be our saving grace for even when we are most alone we are never really alone. God is always with us, though we do not always notice Him in the bustle of the day. Facing problems is the first step to solving problems, and though we cannot solve every difficulty, we can always ask for help from the Ultimate Problem Solver. God wants to be with us, to help us and to allow us time to get to know Him before our time here on earth ends. The question is: when will we make that effort? Onias had death staring him in the face before he gave quiet time and deep thought a try.  What will it take for us?


Cover for ARAM 2013I’ve been told that one of the main attractions ARAM is the characters.  Though it is set in the time of “long ago and far away” ARAM, Eoban, Ishtar, Barak, and the rest are much like people you might actually know, including yourself.

As a clan leader, Aram is desperately worried about the safety of his people, but he isn’t sure exactly what to do about the threats they face.  In fact, he has enough trouble just handling his new wife. His people are an argumentative lot who can’t make any productive decisions without a strong personality to guide them.  So Aram guides them, knowing all the while that it is a case of the blind leading the blind. He is forced to deal with challenges from a much younger man, Barak, who thinks Aram has passed his prime, while Aram knows Barak’s limited qualities and is hardly impressed. Future events will dramatically change both their perspectives.  At the same time, Aram is still dealing with the loss of his first wife and baby.  Where did their spirits go when they died? Aram is open to the concept of a God who actually cares for the lives of men, but there is no tradition to back him up.  He, like the rest of humanity, must grapple for the truth in his own heart.

Aram’s experience is not so different from our own. As children we think we own the world only to discover that there is a whole lot we don’t know, and yet everything we do will make a difference for good or evil, and sometimes, if we are really honest, this worries us.  Aram comes to realize that God is knowable and not everything rests on his shoulders alone.  .

Aram is just one of the characters in the book ARAM and by taking a look at them, we can ponder some of our own struggles.  For Aram, as well as for us today, the truth is comforting; we are never left to wander this earth in aimless confusion for we are never really alone. God has always been with us – and always will be.