Review Quest

Hi friends,

Great news! My son, Ian, will be publishing his first book—The Dwarven Pillar, an epic fantasy—October 6th, and I plan to get my newest book—Melchior, a fifth-century romance with a spiritual bent—published June 18th. I’d like to give our books a strong kick-off, so I’m doing a “REVIEW QUEST” for my books. I’ll be easy, cost-free, and hopefully, a lot of fun.

Each of my books will be free on Amazon Kindle on the dates listed below. The Amazon links are in RED. Please get a FREE copy and write a quick review—no more than a few words. That would be a terrific support to this author and our literary family.

God bless!

ARAM

Thursday, March 30th—Saturday, April 1st

Ishtar’s Redemption

Thursday, April 13th—Saturday, April 15th

Neb the Great

Friday, April 28th—Saturday, April 29th

Georgios I

Thursday, May 11th—Saturday, May 13th

Georgios II

Thursday, June 1st — Saturday, June 3rd

Georgios II – A Chosen People 

Redemption

I’m always wondering how I got myself in the latest fix, even when the latest fix isn’t really my fault at all.  Like when the power goes out, or the phones don’t work, or the water filters get clogged.  I find myself wondering if I did something to deserve such a rough day. When I have actually done something wrong, I don’t always feel the consequences right away but somewhere inside of me, I just wait, knowing that it’s coming – probably when I least expect it.

I know a lot of good people, but I don’t know any perfect people, close maybe, but not quite perfect.  And I’m rather grateful that I’m not standing alone in my imperfection.  But even more, I am grateful that there is a way out of bad days and sin itself.

Bad days need to be lived through.  Sin needs to be repented.  Repentance comes at a cost.  It usually breaks a person into pieces and then puts them back together again…better than they were.  At least that’s how it usually works with me.

IshtarCVIn the story of Ishtar’s Redemption, Ishtar is the son of Neb, a slave trader, who is enslaved by powers he neither understands nor controls.  Ishtar sees what his father does to the innocent and something inside him breaks.  He chooses another path.  But he doesn’t really know where he is going to, he just knows what he wants to get away from. It takes all three books of The Deliverance Trilogy to fully tell the tale of Ishtar’s repentance and his eventual redemption.  Because redemption is not just about getting away from sin, it is about embracing the hope of salvation.  It is something bigger than Ishtar can conceptualize at first.  It takes him a life time of experiences to glimpse that hope.

And in truth, it’ll take me a life time and beyond to fully grasp what God has promised me if I repent my sins, day by day, and cling to the hope that He will save me even from my worst self – if I let Him.  We live in a very troubled world that is immersed in sin, broken, far from the God who made us, and loves us, and wants to save us.  But in order to be redeemed – we must first repent.  That’s the first step toward hope – even on the worst day.

If you would like to know more about Ishtar’s Redemption – Trial by Fire, book 2 of The Deliverance Trilogy, please check out the reviews on this website or on Amazon.  Here’s the Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1uidTWK

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:

http://motherhood-moment.blogspot.com/2013/09/consumer-critique-deliverance-trilogy.html

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.

Aram

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.

Spoiled Society

empty podsIn the Old Testament there is a very chilling scene where God calls to the child Samuel and tells him that he will act against the household of Heli the priest because Heli did not control his sons who were acting wicked in the eyes of God.  Of course, one can only surmise that Heli’s wicked sons didn’t see this coming.  And so in time God’s judgment came to pass.  I don’t know the details, but I take it that the son’s of Heli met an unfortunate end.  So often we are warned by God that reality has consequences.  You jump from too high a distance, you break a bone.  You eat lousy food, you get sick.  You make friends with the devil…he turns on you.  Yet reality doesn’t seem to be in vogue now a days.

I have noticed that more and more people are rearing their children with a complete disconnect to reality.  They honestly think that by giving their kids everything they want, keeping them from nagging and whining, that they are doing them some service.  But when kids get the idea that the world and all its pleasures are owed to them they have a way of spoiling everything because they appreciate nothing.

I have heard repeated cases of kids who attack and verbally abuse their teachers or other kids in school.  Yet we can’t really punish them. We can’t deny them anything.  We can’t deny them their “right” to an education they don’t even want, an education they will consistently try to destroy.  I have worked in both public and private school and I have witnessed this scenario myself.  There are some wonderful teachers out there attempting to do the impossible.  Why?  Not because educating kids is so hard but because too many parents aren’t preparing their kids for any meaningful life experience that has some bearing on reality.

In my humble little home-school my kids thrive in their educational environment, and it isn’t because we have the newest and greatest materials and technology.  What makes them motivated learners is that they have been shown in a myriad of ways that this is their life.  Their future is for them to forge.  Their success is for them to win.  Their profit is for them to reap…if they have the skills, know-how, and desire to do what it takes to become successful and useful in this world.  I haven’t given my sixteen year old a car.  I haven’t promised anyone a college education.  I am not going to sign for any student loans.  They have to work while they live at home.  Kids thrive on being needed.  They love to know that they have a future to work for.  Their minds like to absorb new information and to work hard…if they haven’t been spoiled by the lazy virus which attacks too many youth these days.

The lazy virus is the attitude that they don’t really need to lift a finger to get what they need and want.  They will be fed, clothed, sheltered, and cared for without doing any work.  Grown-ups will beg to be allowed to secure their future for them, entertain them, give them what they want to make them “happy”.  Everyone feels terribly guilty and uncomfortable if kids complain.  And they are good at complaining.  I have heard some doozies.  Young people see life through an intense filter and they seem to think that the world revolves around them. But they need to widen their vision – for their own sake.  They need to see the needs of others..including other kids who really are without very basic necessities like food, clean water and shelter.  They need to see that they have a part to play in making the world a better place.  They need to realize that like Heli – wickedness doesn’t pay – reality has a way of catching up with a person eventually.

We are living in a society that is so completely detached from reality – we don’t even feel the need to pay our bills any more…as a nation or as a world.  Instead the president calls for universal preschool!  Oh, good, lets take our children out of our homes at an even younger age and make the state and federal government responsible for teaching them responsibility and reality. How are the majority of federally funded (underfunded) offices doing? Consider the last 30 years -Sesame Street, kindergartens, preschools abound like never before and yet our educational system is failing in the fundamentals. Our kids know more about homosexuality than about our presidents, Constitution, or monetary systems. Does anyone actually research the men or women they vote for? Why is this?  Because we are out of touch with reality.  Everyone wants to pass their responsibilities onto someone else.  No one wants to say no.  Are we cowards? Like Priest Heli was a coward.  There is no better person to teach a child reality and responsibility than his or her parents – unless they have forfeit that right by being irresponsible themselves.

So where do we go from here?  Psychologists would make us feel better about the suffering we have endured at our own hands, but I can’t feel sorry for a spoiled society which has brought catastrophe on itself.  I want to like Priest Heli but, in the end, I know he was a cruel man.  He never challenged his sons, he never made them look at reality but instead he allowed his children to suffer the ultimate fate of wickedness: sterility and death.  Let us not repeat the mistake.

Grace

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.

ARAM

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.