Before my wife moved from South Africa to the states to marry me, she was a devout Mormon. However, soon after we were wed in June of 2001, she left the church for various reasons, one of which was to spend more time with me since one of my days off was Sunday.
I am a non-religious person, preferring a non-denominational spiritual approach to my faith and although I made my opinions of organized religion known to Lou before we were married, I encouraged her to continue in her faith and to continue her involvement with the Mormon religion. Even though I have problems with organized religion, I believe that the religions of the world play a very important part in sustaining and in strengthening the moral fabric of our world. Individually, in most cases, I believe that religions can actually save souls. The evil that lurks out there in the world is very real and if you turn your head away from your moral compass, even for a few seconds, it can suck you in- and kill you. I know this all too well because my wife lost her way, took the wrong path, and it lead to her death. The details of the tragic end to her life is not important to the context here but what is important is my very strong belief that if Lou had continued to practice her faith, instead of walking away from the church, she would be here today and our marriage, which also ended, would have survived. Since her death in 2012, I have struggled through despair; anger and I have lost a good amount of trust in others. It has not been an easy road for me but in time, I reached a better understanding of what happened to Lou and above all else, I was able to forgive her. We were married for ten years, I loved my wife, and I cherish the good times we had. Therefore, to honor my wife and our life together, I wanted to do something special for her that she would appreciate, especially if she had continued in her faith and remained with the Later Day Saints.
Since moving back to New York State last July, I have thought about visiting the Hill Cumorah region in Palmyra New York. It’s the sacred place of where Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon religion, lived and received the golden plates from an angel, which he later translated into the book of Mormon. Lou’s very good friend Susan, who lives in the Netherlands, also encouraged me to go to the site after she worked hard, through the Temple, to have Lou’s spirit reunited with the church.
On June 3, 2016, I headed off to Palmyra. As I drove on the New York State Thruway toward Palmyra, I kept thinking about Lou and wishing she were with me. I knew she would have been excited to be traveling to see this sacred place. My thoughts were also drifting back in time to my last visit to Palmyra in 1973. My friend and I were on a bicycle ride to Niagara Falls when we stopped off at Hill Cumorah for an early afternoon break. I was awed back then by the peaceful beauty of that hill and surrounding countryside. I knew it was a religious place but knew little about the religion and history of the hill or the nearby town of Palmyra. It wasn’t until after I married Lou that I made the connection to “the hill” and her religion.
As I drove along on a beautiful sun drenched morning, I was excited about returning to the place that had captured my soul back in ’73. Susan had suggested that I “keep an open heart” about what I might experience there, especially when I walked through the sacred grove, which is where Joseph Smith had seen a vision of Jesus and his Father in 1825, right before he received the gold plates at the top of Hill Cumorah. Even though I do believe in the existence of God and Jesus, through faith- I do have a very strong healthy dose of skepticism running through me even when I hear of biblical events such as the story presented by Joseph Smith. It can be very frustrating to be so skeptical when dealing with matters of faith but I believe that the answers are there, if anyone takes the time to connect their heart and mind to any question they may have.
As an example: As a paranormal investigator for the past six years, I have experienced some very interesting and spiritually uplifting events but I have also learned that you also have to be a bit of a skeptic if you’re going to come close to an honest conclusion. In addition, I have also developed a sense of empathic awareness and at times, this ability to feel another person’s feelings can be a bit overwhelming when emotions of a past or present event come flooding in. It can happen in an instant. Feelings of sorrow, horrible crippling grief, and other emotions can present themselves to me in seconds, even while I’m in an emotional state of joy, comfort, or happiness. Being in a place, with no one else around, can also trigger it. While this ability is relatively new to me and while I have questioned the validity of some of these experiences that I have had, there are times when I’ll pick something up so quickly that I won’t even question the reality of the experience anymore. I also believe that this ability isn’t or shouldn’t be categorized as “paranormal”. I believe all of us have developed this ability naturally, to some degree. Other names for this or a similar phenomenon are sometimes called “a gut feeling” or “instinct”. It’s a feeling that you pick up on, whether it’s derived from our five senses or a sixth sense, which better helps you to prepare yourself for some kind of a response. I knew better than to think that this empathic ability of mine wouldn’t interfere on this day spent in Palmyra- which is why I’m mentioning it here.
Being empathetic to other people’s struggles and to their right to practice their faith openly, without persecution, is what this country was built on. Being open to all the experiences that one may face in life is important if we are to reach a true understanding of what it really means to be human and to be alive. It doesn’t mean that we have to agree or even believe in someone else’s faith or religion, but we should respect their right to their religious freedom.
My hope, for this trip, was that I would at least recapture some of the peace that I had experienced in ’73 and that I could share some of that same peace with Lou’s spirit. Aside from the religious aspects of this trip, I was looking forward to learning about the history of the town and it’s people. At the end of the day, I came away with a lot more than I expected.
Palmyra is a town and village of approximately 8,000 people and its geological location is twenty miles southeast of Rochester, New York right off of the thruway on route 21. As I turned onto route 21, I looked off to my right and immediately recognized the hill. “Beautiful” I muttered to myself as I pulled into the visitor center parking lot. Hill Cumorah, at first glance looks like an impressive ski slope, except this beautifully maintained property has three tiers of paved walking paths that lead to the summit. At the top, a monument marks the spot where Joseph Smith received the golden tablets from the angel Moroni. I decided to stop in at the visitor center first before climbing the hill to the monument.
The visitor center, like most buildings and grounds dedicated to the Mormon religion, is a beautiful work of architecture. It seems that every little detail is attended to, from the polished marble floors, to the ornate door handles, everything is in its place; as if a breath of divinity had been prayed into it. It really is no stretch to say you can “feel God here”. As soon as I stepped into the lobby a young lady who identified herself as “Sister Bennett” greeted me with a very warm and refreshingly sincere smile. I introduced myself and briefly mentioned why I was visiting, which included my story about Lou. Sister Bennett went on to explain what I could explore as I stepped into each room of the visitor center. There were beautiful paintings on the lobby walls, depicting the many stories related to the prophet Joseph Smith. In the next room I entered, I encountered a beautifully laid out time line of the events that took place in Joseph Smith’s life. There were short videos at some of the time line stations, which explained what I was looking at. Probably the most impressive exhibit was that which showed a replica of the gold plates that Joseph Smith received from the angel Moroni. Not far from that station was an equally impressive large round table, which displayed copies of the book of Mormon, translated into all of the languages of the world. After spending time in this room, I went into another room where I watched an hour-long movie depicting the life of Joseph Smith and the history of the town that surrounded his stories. The movie was absorbing, well acted and I left feeling excited about learning more as my morning turned into a wonderful early afternoon. Sister Bennett and a few other brothers and sisters of the Mormon religion thanked me for visiting and wished me well as I stepped back out into the sunshine. One thing that can be said about Mormon’s, whether you subscribe to their religion or not, is that most everyone of them is “kind” and they will go out of their way to make you feel welcome. It is more than just talk and kindness- there’s a total feeling of sincerity when greeting and visiting with them. In one word, it’s refreshing. This world, especially these days, is way too short on kindness.
It was now time for my trek to the summit of hill cumorah to view the monument. As I climbed, I noted the fresh summer air and the exceptional serene beauty of the countryside. I tried to imagine what it must have been like back in 1825 as Joseph Smith made his way up this hill to this very sacred place. The hillside back then, no doubt, was probably populated by a lot more oak, ash and pine trees but the unusual calmness of peace and tranquility must have permeated the place just as I was experiencing it now. I wondered, as I stepped closer to look at the inscriptions on the towering stone monument: Are these feelings of peace and well being just a naturally manufactured response of being in a beautiful place like this or is there really something much more special and heavenly to it all? Sometimes I can be too analytical about my experiences. Sometimes one should just let go, and enjoy the moment without all the introspection and questions. I decided not to pollute the moment with mind meanderings. It was way too awe inspiring for that.
Breath in. Breath out. I smiled. I felt Lou’s spirit with me. It was nice to be in this place with her.
Finally, I made my way back down the hill to the parking lot and drove to the Joseph Smith Homestead/Farm, which was less than two miles away. There, I entered the welcoming center where I was greeted by a couple who were closer in age to me. Brother Martin and Sister Carson sat down with me next to a window that looked out onto a field of high grass and crude timber fencing that surrounded acres of property. Just to the left of the window, inside the fencing, stood a one story small wooden structure. It felt like I was looking back into the early 1800’s and that is exactly what the intent was. Brother Martin and Sister Carson explained, and told the story of what it was like for the young child Joseph Smith and his family as they lived on this farm and in that small cabin. The cabin I was looking at was an exact replica of the original and Brother Martin took me on a tour through the inside of it. Aside from the religious aspects of this place, the historical artifacts and adventures of this town were enormously interesting. Just a little ways from the cabin, down a stone paved road, another larger house is seen. It’s where Joseph Smith and his family lived in his mom and dad’s later years. This house is 85% original and to walk through it is like actually
stepping back into time. All of this was a prelude to the final visit of my tour-, which was a long walk through the sacred grove.
As I walked along, on a stone and dirt path that lead up to the tree line of the grove, it just felt good to be out on such a beautiful day. The birds were chirping and everything just felt fresh and, nice. There wasn’t anything heavenly or spiritual surrounding me at all. It was just a stroll among nature. Entering the path, where the trees began, I felt the heat of the sun begin to leave me but the temperature was still very comfortable. I must have walked about ten yards in when I noticed something a little different but I couldn’t quite figure out what it was until I looked up. The leaves on the trees were barely moving and the singsong of the birds was constant and beautifully hypnotic. I was walking on a path of soft dirt and it was about then that everything went totally quiet, except for the sound of the few birds who continued to chirp their song. Nothing in eyesight or earshot moved or made a sound. It was as if I had just entered some sort of a tranquil void. I was in a peaceful wonderland and the feeling that came over me was that nothing that existed beyond the grove mattered much anymore or matched the grove’s importance. I felt like I was being given the privilege to know a secret. I have walked in woods before but it was nothing like this. All of a sudden, I felt a peace and happiness come over me that I haven’t felt in years. It was like a calming wave slowly and steadily began to roll over me. Consequently, what did this fool do? Instead of taking it all in and just experiencing it, I began to analyze what was happening-again. Old habits are hard to break. There really wasn’t a lot of time spent trying to figure it all out though. I was having another abrupt empathic experience. Was this happiness and peace that I was feeling about me, or was it something related to the place or an event that took place here almost two hundred years ago? I surmised that it could be about me, the place, and the event all at the same time. As I looked up through the leaves, I saw the rays of the sun streaming down to the earthen path where I stood and I imagined what it must have been like for Joseph Smith as he stood here, bathed in a beautiful light with a message from the heavenly father and his son.
I continued with my walk and I began to think about my life and all that I have lived through and I thought a lot about Lou and where she was while I walked along. I knew she was with God and that she was at peace. I also knew that some day I would be at peace and with God too. As I left the path, after a good thirty minute visit, I realized that no church building that I have ever entered has given me the peace and comfort that I received in that sacred grove of trees.
The lesson I learned that day was exactly what Susan told me: Keep an open heart (And mind) about what others may experience in their own faith and belief systems. There should be no doubt that Joseph Smith worked tirelessly to build a religion around his experience and faith. Really, we must ask, what could move a person to do all that he did and to stick by his convictions and faith even as people worked to dismantle all that he stood for? People should respect his efforts just as all people should respect all of the religions of the world. Joseph Smith made claims that went beyond our earthly knowledge and he was ostracized for it. I’m not sure if all that he experienced was divine intervention, but who am I to say it wasn’t? What I am sure of is strictly coming from my own experience and I would say “something extraordinary happened in those woods” at some point in time, and the only word that comes even close to what I was experiencing and feeling is “divine”.
The rest of my day was spent touring other areas of Palmyra, including the print shop where The Book Of Mormon was printed.
It was an amazing and spiritually uplifting day.
The Right To Kill was written by Jim Murphy and published by BLBM Publishing in 2015. You may purchase it at www.jamesrobertmurphy.com. Visit the author on Facebook.
The Right To Kill follows the lives of six young boys living on Syracuse, New York’s north side in the 1950’s and 60’s- a time when the United States was still in its infancy, and working-class families were poor, uneducated citizens.
The boys make a blood-bound pact to “clean up the neighborhood” at all costs. As time goes by their concept of what is morally acceptable expands, and their once simple adventures escalate.
As adults, they find themselves at the forefront of the most significant political shift in United States history. By the ruling party’s executive order the U.S. borders are immediately and indefinitely closed.
Texas passes the controversial Right To Kill Act- anyone can petition the state to have someone killed. The catch? The petitioner must make the kill.
Jim Murphy’s latest book, The Right To Kill, made me cringe. It begins as a dark, grisly, and graphic tale that had me a bit nauseous but then a quick twist in the plot, surprisingly had me cheering on the six misguided and murderous youngsters.
Even though this is a work of fiction, the author took me on a chillingly deadly and dark adventure that had me rethinking the human condition and prompted me to re-examine what our true human nature really is composed of. One of the most ironic, intriguing and haunting aspects of this story is how timely it is given the current political climate. The United States, in this fictional version, is much different than the country that we know but it is eerily close to where we could be if the “right” or “wrong” leader took the reins of our country. It really is up to us to decide.
This is not a book for young readers or the easily offended but it is a book worth reading. The author’s tongue is placed firmly in cheek in this one and the bits of sexual humor will have you laughing hard, but have no doubt, the premise of this tale will stick in your mind and have you thinking well after the last page is read.
This one has the legs that could take it to the bestseller list.
I give The Right To Kill 5 stars.
Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/
He lay there on the old metal park bench; his white beard had gone soiled with the dirt and grime of the depressed world around him.
A crumpled up McDonald’s bag was tucked under his head for a pillow. The contents of the bag, which had been pulled from a nearby dumpster hours ago, was eaten with the same gusto as he once ate steak; even though the French fries were limp, chewy and cold. The clothes that he wore were also a gift from that same dumpster. The jeans were a bit tight around the waste and the large oval, smelly, oil stain on the right leg wasn’t attractive at all but the used, and battered garment did its job. The black T-shirt had been buried deeper than the jeans but he smiled as he pulled it up and past all the rubbish and rancid waste; avoiding a big pile of bacon grease that was mixed in with roofing tar. When he freed the t-shirt from its intended grave, he stretched it out in front of him and chuckled, which quickly became a long deep belly laugh. The shirt was an extra large, which fit him perfectly, but it was the words boldly printed in white across the front that struck him as funny; especially considering his current situation: IF I’M EVER ON LIFE SUPPORT UNPLUG ME- THEN PLUG ME BACK IN. SEE IF THAT WORKS.
He used the area behind the dumpster, next to a loading dock, to dress into his new “old” outfit. He discarded the clothes that he had donned for as long as he could remember and pushed them into a pile at his feet. Some might describe his clothes as a costume but to him they had become an unwanted attachment to a tradition that was seriously outdated and embarrassingly ridiculous. He picked up his old suit and pushed it deep down in the dumpster where it mixed in with the black tar and bacon grease. “There,” he muttered while looking down at his jeans and shirt. “I’m normal. Just like everybody else.” He grabbed his McDonald’s bag and walked over to the park bench, sat down and began to eat. As the sun began to set, the old man looked forward to a late fall night, sleeping under the stars.
To Charlie, a seven year old from the hood, an old white man sleeping on a bench in Shelby Park was certainly not a common sight. His older brother Jeff went to play basketball in the park all the time but he was always quick to point out to his younger brother that it wasn’t a place to hang out for little kids. “Too much drugs and crime…” he would always say. Despite all the warnings, here was Charlie on a sun drenched Saturday morning, standing and starring at a sleeping man with the dirty beard. Charlie would have never noticed the bum, that is what most people would call him, if the chain had not fallen off his bike less than ten feet from the bench. The chain would have to wait. There was something mysterious and fascinating about the old man and Charlie needed to investigate further; regardless of the warnings that Jeff was always preaching about.
Charlie, ever so slowly crept up next to the man, being extremely quiet not to crunch on the leaves that were underfoot. Charlie’s eyes were wide with heart pounding excitement, as his face was less than a foot away from the bums face. Charlie got a whiff of something foul and crinkled his nose but the filthy odor didn’t deter Charlie’s mission. He reached out with trembling fingers and gave the bum’s beard a quick tug. Nothing happened. Charlie feared that the man might be dead but he noticed his eyelid twitching. He decided to give the beard another pull. The bum grumbled something and then he shot straight up on his seat. The old man’s face registered surprise and shock and he shouted out, “Charlie! Why did you do that!? I was sleeping.” Charlie fell back onto the leafy ground, landing on his butt and hands. The young boy’s mouth fell open but he couldn’t speak. Fear gripped him and at that moment, he wished he had listened to his brother and stayed out of the park.
Finally, after a frightful few seconds he got the words out while still staring wide-eyed at the bum on the bench. “How did you know my name?” The old man’s face switched from a frown to a smile and he chuckled when he saw how worried the kid looked, as he laid sprawled out on the ground. “Oh, I’m sorry kid. I must have been dreaming of someone with the same name as yours. Isn’t that a corker? Really, I mean no harm.” “A corker? What is that?” Charlie nervously inquired. “Just a figure of speech young man. It sort of means: ‘Isn’t it funny’ that I would be dreaming of someone with the same name as yours?” Charlie quickly got up, brushed himself off, and looked over at his bike wondering if he should make a run for it. Instead, he turned to the old man and said, “Well, I don’t think it’s funny at all. You knowing my name without me telling you is spooky and wrong.” The old codger continued to smile at him, causing Charlie to relax a little. There seemed to be something special and disarming about the old timer so he took a few steps closer to the man. “What is your name?” Charlie asked. “I’m…” The old man hesitated and paused before nodding his head. “My name is, Nick. It’s nice to meet you, Charlie.” Nick reached out a dirty hand to shake but Charlie kept his hands planted at his sides. Charlie’s head dropped down a fraction. He was reading Nick’s shirt. “What does life support mean?” “Well,” Nick clasped his hands together on his lap and thoughtfully replied. “It means to keep someone alive, even when there is little hope left.” Charlie relaxed a little more. Taking an interest in what Nick had just said, he took a few more steps closer and sat down on the bench next to Nick, but out of reach of the old man and out of reach of the odor; on the far end of the bench. After a few moments, Charlie tilted his head up slightly and peered at Nick out of the corner of his eye. “You remind me of someone I once knew.” Nick kept his hands clasped together and looked over at Charlie. “Who might that be, Charlie?” Charlie nodded his head up and down. “It’s your beard. You look like Santa Claus.” Nick chuckled, amused at the comparison. “Yes,” said Nick. “I suppose I do…a little. You said you once knew him. You don’t any more?” Charlie, looking sad, dropped his head. “No. He stopped coming around when I was five. Two years ago. After my dad got shot and died.” Nick blinked twice and said, “I’m sorry.” Charlie’s chin was still on his chest and his voice was laced with extreme sadness when he said, “They pulled the plug on him,… and they never plugged him back in…” Nick let out a long sigh, searching for something to say to change the subject. He cleared his throat. “Charlie, do you still believe in Santa Claus?” Charlie picked up his head and looked at Nick. He still looked sad. “I don’t know. My brother said he’s not real. He’s just in our imaginations.” Now it was Nick’s turn to hang his head onto his chest. Tears began to well up in Nick’s eyes. He tried to blink them away but a tear escaped and ran down a dirty cheek. He swept it away with the back of his hand. He turned his head to Charlie. “Well, I’m here to tell you that your brother is wrong. “ Charlie quickly challenged him. “Then, if Santa is real, why hasn’t he been around here for Christmas lately and besides, how would you know? You’re just a dirty old bum?” Charlie didn’t say it in a mean way. It was actually polite in the way he said it. “ Nick shifted on the bench and turned his body to better face Charlie. He spoke softly. “Charlie, do you believe in me?” “What do you mean?” Charlie asked. “Do you believe I’m real?”, asked Nick. Charlie felt challenged. It was like when his brother would ask him a trick question. It made him feel stupid. He did what he did with his brother. He crossed his arms over his chest and exclaimed, “Yes, of course you’re real. I can see you,” He crinkled his nose again. “And I can smell you. You need a bath…” Despite the polite insult, Nick chuckled. “Well, I’m glad you believe in me. Can I tell you a little story?” “Yeah sure…”
Okay. For many many years, when I was about your age I kept to myself. I never went out much. I would hide away in my home and read mostly. I loved to read. I had an easy life. My parents were rich and what I remember most about them is that they went to church a lot. Well, during this time when I was young and reading a lot they both became ill and soon, they died. After they died my uncle Nick, he had the same name as me, raised me. He was very religious and soon so was I. Like my parents, I began to go to church a lot. My uncle Nick liked that when I went to church I learned a lot about life. I also learned about God and I learned that just because we can’t see him doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist. I learned about faith; a belief in someone or something that we can’t see or touch. However, even though we can’t see or touch someone or something, we can FEEL it in our gut and soul. It’s like when you know when someone loves you; you can feel it. And you feel it when you love someone in return.” Charlie held up a hand to ask Nick a question. “Yes, Charlie?” Charlie looked up at Nick with a set of very sad eyes. “If you love someone a whole bunch, can faith save them from dying?” Nick thought Charlie might be thinking about his dad and how he died but there seemed to be an urgency in those eyes that indicated that Charlie was thinking about someone else. Nick answered after he took a moment to consider the question. “Yes, Charlie. Sometimes it can.” Charlie bowed his head down. His voice became very low and sad. “My mom has cancer. My brother said that she won’t be around much longer.” Nick slid himself down the bench and rested a hand on Charlie’s shoulder. Charlie let him. He wasn’t afraid of Nick anymore. “Charlie,” Nick softly said. “have you ever prayed?” Charlie’s head remained bowed. “Yes. I pray every night.” “Look at me, Charlie.” Charlie raised his head and looked at Nick. “When you pray, don’t pray from your sadness. Pray from the happiness that you receive from your mom. She wouldn’t want you to be sad. Above all, have faith in your love for your mom and let that love do the healing. Loving someone doesn’t always cure someone but it does help the person in amazing ways that we can’t possibly understand. It heals the soul. That I do know. Do you think you can pray the way I explained?” Charlie looked a bit confused. “I will, but how can someone like you know all about faith and love and being happy? Look at you. You’re a mess.” Charlie couldn’t help but giggle at what he just said and Nick picked up on the humor and began to laugh harder than he had in a very long time. It was a laugh that started way down deep and as it rolled up and finally burst out of his mouth, his belly shook. Up and down it went. Over and over again and soon both Nick and Charlie were laughing so hard they were holding their sides. Finally, Nick was able to talk. “Do you see how happy I am?” Charlie nodded. “Charlie, I have to get going. I have things I have to do but I want to thank you. You helped an old man feel good about life again. I feel like you plugged me back in.” He pointed a finger at the front of his shirt. “It feels good to be out in the world again and not cooped up in a place where I had to wear a business suit all the time. You go along now and don’t forget to pray, okay?” Nick stood up and so did Charlie. Nick held out a hand and Charlie shook it. Both had big smiles on their faces. “Good-bye, Nick. Maybe I’ll see you in the park again soon…” Nick nodded. “Maybe you will.”
As Charlie began walking away toward where his bike was laying in the grass, Nick spoke behind Charlie’s back. “Charlie, tell Jeff what I told you about Santa Claus…” Charlie looked over his shoulder and waved to Nick. “I will.” Nick was smiling and waving back. Charlie bent down to pick up his bike by the handle bars, intending to roll the bike to a nearby tree so he could prop it up there so he could work on putting his chain back on, but when he looked down he was shocked. The chain was back on and it wasn’t as loose as it was before. “No way!” Charlie shouted in surprise. Thinking that Nick must have heard him, Charlie looked over in the direction of the bench but Nick was nowhere in sight. He had simply vanished.
As Charlie pedaled fast to get home to tell Jeff about the bum he met, something occurred to Charlie. He had never mentioned his brother to Nick by name but…somehow he knew his name too, just as he knew Charlie’s name when they first met.
Charlie told Jeff all about the old man in the park but Jeff paid little mind to the surprises of how the man somehow knew their names or about the mystery of the bike chain. Instead, Jeff scolded Charlie about making friends with strangers in the park. Charlie knew how Jeff would react, so he took it all in stride and made himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. While he was spreading the jelly on the bread Charlie tried to lessen Jeff’s irritation with him. “Where’s mom?” Jeff had his head lowered, watching some music video on his phone. “She’s at the doctor. They’re doing another scan of the tumor.” Charlie stopped spreading the jelly. He hated that word, tumor. It was killing his mother and Jeff said it like Mom was gone to have her nails done. But it was what it was and Charlie remembered what Nick had told him about praying. He put down the butter knife and immediately put his hands together as if making a church steeple. “Please, God. Please don’t let Mom die. She’s the only family left that Jeff and I have…” Jeff lifted up his head from his phone and looked over at Charlie. The irritation was gone, replaced by sadness. “Not sure God can help her at this point, Charlie.” Charlie looked at his brother and smiled. “I have faith.” Jeff walked over to his baby brother and hugged him tight. “I wish I did, Charlie. “
The following Monday morning Jeff and Charlie woke up, ate their breakfast and were getting ready for school. As Charlie went to the enclosed porch to put on his shoes he noticed that something was tucked into one of his shoes. He reached down and picked up the shoe and tugged at what was inside. Charlie’s eyes and mouth went wide with surprise. He now held onto a large wad of cash. He was speechless as he ran inside the house. Finally, he yelled, “Jeff. Mom. There’s a lot of money in my shoe! Come here!” When the three counted out the money, there was a total of $3,000 now lying on their kitchen table. They all eyed each other before Jeff spoke up. “Someone put this in Charlie’s shoe. Who would do that?” Charlie thought about Nick but Nick was just an old bum who couldn’t even keep himself clean. It couldn’t have been him, he thought. Or could it? The money was put into their home safe and they all decided that they would talk more about the money later that night. The boys went to school and their mom stayed at home and waited for a phone call from her doctor; who would give her the results of the test.
That night, as promised, they talked about the money and they decided that after buying winter clothes for the boys they would save the rest. “For a rainy day, mom?” Charlie asked. “Yes and maybe for a sunny day.” She smiled. “Come here you two. I have something to tell you.” Charlie, Jeff, and their mom went into the living room and sat down. She didn’t waste time she got right to the point. Charlie noticed that she was no longer smiling. She looked nervous, squeezing her hands together. “I got a call from the doctor earlier today,” She breathed out as she pursed her lips together. “It seems. And after he checked the results several times, he told me…” After a long pause, she got it out. “the tumor is gone and I’m cancer free.” Jeff was only able to say one word. He was so choked up. “How?” “I don’t know honey. I think it’s a miracle.” With that, they all gathered for a group hug and the joyful tears flowed. Charlie was about to mention his talk with Nick but he was afraid that his mother would disapprove as Jeff did, so he kept quiet. Soon after they wiped their tears away, his mother had a story to tell. They all sat down to listen.
“On Saturday, as I was walking into the doctors office, I noticed a man sitting at a picnic table, near the fountain next to the doctor’s office. There were several kids gathered around him with their parents in tow. He was giving out candy canes and something else in these little tiny plastic bags. I was in a hurry and didn’t want to snoop any further so I continued past the group. As I passed, something very odd happened. This old man, who was handing out candy canes, called me over to him. He called me by my name! He hollered, ‘Joyce Hunter, come here. I have something for you.’ I was dumb struck and yes, a bit scared, but I walked cautiously over to him. He looked like a very nice man who wore a big smile. He held out his hand and said, ‘Nice to meet you, Joyce.’ I shook his hand. I was about to ask him how he knew me but he continued to talk. He said, ‘I don’t have a lot of time but please take these three candy canes. One for each one of your boys and you and, take these three medals. Make sure all of you wear them. I have to go now.’ He turned and walked quickly away without another word. I yelled out, “But wait…” but he kept walking toward the fountain. I then went into the doctor’s office to have my test.”
Charlie was so excited that he couldn’t stay seated. He got up and walked over to where his mom sat on the couch. “Mom, what did this man look like?” “He was short. He had a white beard and he wore jeans and a black t-shirt. Why?” “Did he stink like a bum?” “Oh, no. He didn’t. He looked very clean.” Charlie smiled. “He must have taken a bath.” Charlie went on and told his mom about the man he met in the park. He told her everything. After he was done, his mom got big eyes of her own and asked, “What’s the date today?” Jeff said “December 8th.” “Saturday was December 6th.” She replied. “Yes, so?” said Charlie. His mom got out the medals that the man had given her for the first time. She took two of them out of the plastic bags and handed them to her two boys. Without looking herself, she said, “Look closely at the medal. It should say in tiny letters who the man on the medal is.” Charlie held his medal up to his face and after a few seconds said, “Saint Nicolas.” Now Jeff’s eyes got big. “Could that man have been…” He couldn’t say it. Joyce smiled and nodded yes. “Yes, I believe it was him. He was in a hurry because Saint Nicolas died on December 6th. He was known for leaving money in people’s shoes during the dark of night.” She looked directly at Charlie who smiled and pumped his fist in the air. “I knew it! There really is a Santa Claus!”
Nick continued to appear periodically in the neighborhoods of America where families and children gathered. He took the advice from Charlie and made sure he was cleaned up and presentable and he did admit that he was a bit down on the day he met Charlie. Giving up the red suit was an end of an era for him. For close to one hundred and seventy years he played the part of Father Christmas; after he read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It seemed that it was the right thing to do since he was given the green light from heaven to visit earth.
Lately though, playing Santa Claus was getting to be hard on the old saint and besides, a lot of kids, after the age of seven were losing interest in the jolly old elf and many no longer believed in Santa. Nick eventually felt the need to shed the disguise and reveal his true self to the world. Whether people would see him for what he really was, when he lived and walked the earth, close to 1,800 years ago remains to be seen.
However, Nick will forever exist in the minds and hearts of the people he has touched, such as Charlie and his family. The next time you see a man with a white beard just hanging around or passing you by on the street, consider the possibility that he may be there to give you a special gift or maybe a miracle.
Saint Nicholas (15 March 270 – 6 December 343) of Myra was a 4th-century Greek Christian bishop of Myra, now in Turkey. Nicholas was famous for his generous gifts to the poor, in particular presenting the three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with dowries so that they would not have to become prostitutes. He was very religious from an early age and devoted his life entirely to Christianity. In continental Europe, he is usually portrayed as a bearded bishop in canonical robes.
Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/
DragonVein was written by Brian D. Anderson and published by Longfire Press in 2015. You may purchase it at Amazon.com/Kindle. Visit the author at briandanderson.blogspot.com and on Facebook.
Carentan, France 1944 – Ethan Martin, a soldier in the 101st Airborne, is fighting for his life. But soon he will learn what peril truly is when he is ripped from his world and transported to a land of magic, swords, and dragons. And though the Nazis are now far, far away, danger is closer than ever.
The Eternal Emperor, Shinzan has destroyed the mages and only a few dragons remain in exile. And now that Ethan, son of Praxis Dragonvein, has returned he must destroy him as well. Faced with unimaginable power, Ethan has only one hope – to reach the dwarf kingdom of Elyfoss before Shinzan can find him.
A young WWII soldier, Ethan Martin, finds himself in a fight with the Nazi’s. Fighting alongside of him is his friend and fellow soldier, Markus. The two are in a battle for their lives when something very strange happens. An old man appears before them, lying on the ground. He is dressed strangely and he talks in a language that is just as bizarre and unknown as his clothing. What follows will change Markus and Ethan forever. The old man ushers them into a strange and dangerous portal that transports them to another world. Ethan and Markus are separated during the transport. Ethan then embarks on a mission to find his friend, amidst a world filled with elves, dwarfs, dragons and magic. Ethan is not prepared for what he finds.
Brian D. Anderson, the author of the popular Godling Chronicles series, begins this new series with high hopes of similar success. The author doesn’t disappoint. The story is very interesting and flows nicely. The characters display a richness of personality that will immediately win you over. There were pivotal points, coinciding with some very good plot twists that dramatically elevated the story to a point where I could not put the book down. It’s like magic, the story pulls you in, and you find yourself walking right along with the characters on their exciting journey.
Brian D. Anderson has turned the corner from being a first time author. He is now a well-established novelist with a fan base that is expanding every day. We all look forward to his future as a talented and accomplished author.
I give DragonVein 5 stars.
Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/
How to Be a Christian Psychic: What the Bible Says about Mediums, Healers and Paranormal Investigators was written by Adrian Lee and published by Wisdom Editions in 2015. You may purchase it at Amazon.com/Kindle.
Using the Bible as reference, historian and psychic investigator Adrian Lee, a devout Christian, digs deeply into religious beliefs that appear on the surface to denounce the work of mediums, healers, and psychics. He explains these passages clearly and in historical context, challenging Christians to understand the deeper meanings and various settings in which these passages were intended to apply, so that the bible’s true message can emerge. He also explains his work as a healer and psychic investigator, showing how Christians can safely and effectively use their own God-given psychic gifts to help others.
It was with reluctance that I decided to buy this book, but the subject matter seemed interesting to me since I am also a paranormal investigator. It is true that there has always been a rift between the study of the paranormal and organized religion. The question that is asked of these two groups of people that brings interesting but mostly different answers is: “Do you believe in ghosts?” The author does a good job of explaining and exploring the bible to show that in fact the existence of ghosts is mentioned in the good book 108 times. The author acknowledges that multiple interpretations of the bible have changed the way some think and how people may relate to the words within. This has led to hypocrisy among certain segments of Christians, as it relates to paranormal practices.
The book is well written and easy to understand but unfortunately, a dark cloud of suspicion and skepticism hangs over the author in this latest book of his. In a previous publication: Mysterious Minnesota: Digging Up The Ghostly Past, the author made claims that were proven false (Was not present at investigations he wrote about being at.). Former team members can back this up, which includes me. More can be written here but it would do injustice to his latest book, which deserves an honest review.
That being the past, I hope Mr. Lee has worked to be truthful in his latest efforts. After all, honesty should go hand in hand with his Christian values.
In May of 2011, the author writes that he had an “Angel Visitation” after he asked God to “Show me an angel.” He writes: “There was a chill in the air, and I gathered the bed covers around me…” and then describes “a blinding light raining down on me from above. It was very powerful and filled the room, glowing and dazzling like the white light in the hottest part of a furnace. It was so intense that I immediately realized I could not see the walls or corners of the room.”
The author later writes that a man by the name of “Joshua” also visited him. Explains the author: “In His day, Jesus was actually known as ‘Joshua ben Joseph’.” That is quite an acknowledgment and it would be a profound responsibility on the shoulders of anybody.
Even with the cloud of suspicion and skepticism hanging over the author’s head, the content in the book is worth the read.
I give How to Be a Christian Psychic 3 stars
Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/
The Doll House was written by Alan Hoxie and published by CreateSpace in 2009. You may purchase it at Amazon.com/Kindle.
This is a true story about 13 people associated with a century old house, who died tragically in a two year period. The house was built on ancient Native American burial ground and cursed by Seneca Chief “Redjacket.”
When a tale is elevated to a point where real life becomes entangled with the paranormal and death occurs because of some very bizarre activity involving a battered spooky doll, it becomes a “horror story”.
Even if you take away the element of a possessed doll that mysteriously reappears in the attic of the authors rented home, being somehow connected to over a dozen people who died within two years is very eerie, disturbing in itself and I can certainly understand the authors apprehension.
I have lived in the neighborhood of this house for more than forty years and I just learned of this story a few days ago. Being a paranormal investigator for five years, I come with built-in skepticism when I hear about a true “ghost story”, but for obvious reasons I was eager to read this book. In the beginning, the author uses a lot of time and pages talking about his family and friends and the interest was there for me but my mind kept shouting, “Let’s get to the doll house story!” After nearly a quarter of the way into the book, the story picks up and I was instantly obsessed with curiosity over this house and the doll.
The story is hauntingly good even if the author took license to change names, for good reasons, and I suspect that some other details of the “true story” may have been altered slightly. However, much of the Native American history of the area, and the sacred burial ground, can be backed up from other sources. I have been so impacted by the story, that when ever I drive past the house and the cemetery I will always be thinking about “that creepy doll” and I will wonder if it’s watching me.
I give The Doll House 4 stars.
Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/
It’s Halloween time here in Nedrow, NY. Many of us are preparing for October 31rst, when monsters, goblins, and other creatures of the dark will begin to hobble, slouch, and shuffle to our doorsteps. As we busy ourselves with the spooky fun of All Hallows Eve, most of us will remain totally oblivious to the horrors that happened on the hill directly to the east of us in 1803.
History and its stories are sometimes lost to time; unless the alert curiosity of prying eyes finds a little known document and begins to dig. It’s a horrific story of Witches and wizards, and as the tale is told, it happened right here in and around our hometown of Nedrow, NY when it was known as Onondaga Castle. It all begins with the traditions of the Onondaga Nation.
As is the case in many indigenous cultures and world religions, the belief in the supernatural is central to the faith of the Onondagas. Many wondrous and incredible stories have been told, including legends involving giant monstrous birds that caused great havoc over the land and waters of the Onondagas. Other stories of awe and terror involve large monstrous heads flying through the skies with flaming hair. The quis-quis, or great hog, was another monster which gave the Onondagas great trouble, as did the great bear, the horned water-serpent, the stone giants and many equally amazing tales are found among the traditions of the Onondagas.
Aside from these lofty legends of lore, a more down to earth belief among the Iroquois, which had deadly consequences, is that of witchcraft and wizardry. Within the Iroquois Confederation, in which Onondaga is a part; there existed a strong belief in witches and wizards. In none of the six nations was the belief more prevalent, than among the Onondagas.
It was believed that these witches and wizards held nightly meetings in order to bring disgrace and trouble upon the nation. The people of the nation believed that these witches and wizards could change themselves into wolves, foxes, hawks and turkeys and additionally they could transform themselves into shapes and materials such as trees, rocks and logs. Other powers that were feared and attributed to witchcraft included invisibility and the ability to infuse poison and disease among their people.
Central to the history of Onondaga Castle is this story, as was told in ONONDAGA OR REMINISCENCES OF EARLIER AND LATER TIMES. Historian Joshua V. H. Clark wrote it back in 1849. A central figure in this story is Mr. Ephraim Webster. He was the first white settler to the area and was a trusted associate of the Onondaga Indians.
“Mr. Webster, in his conversations with the old settlers, said that an old Indian of the Onondagas used to relate, that at an ancient period, when a portion of the Onondagas had an extensive settlement and populous village on the flats east of Jamesville, that he resided there, and stepping out of his cabin one evening, he sunk down deep into an immense cavern, which was brilliantly illuminated with flamimg torches. No sooner had he reached the floor, than he found himself instantly surrounded by hundreds of witches and wizards, who rather un-ceremoniously ejected him.
Early the next morning he proceeded to the council house, and laid the matter before the assembled chiefs. They asked him, if he could identify any of the persons he had seen. He replied that he thought he could. He straightway proceeded through the village and pointed to this and that one, whom he thus signified as delinquents. They were at once doomed for execution, and without trial or ceremony, upon evidence or whim of a single individual, numbers of both sexes were killed. According to the tradition, the slaughter was immense; it seemed there could be no end to the alarming panic; many of the people dispersed, and for a season it was feared the nation would be completely broken up. It is said that more than half of those who remained at home were killed, amounting in all to hundreds.”
It is important to note that the traditions of witchcraft, and the ways in which to deal with persons involved, continued into the times of the first white settlements. The ways of execution were either by burning to death by fire or they were dispatched by tomahawk. Usually, however, before they died, they were permitted to speak in their own behalf, frequently owning up and agreeing with the charges against them.
It was documented in several sources that after the condemned were told of their fate, a number of native men from the nation would walk to a high ledge of rocks, roll some of them out, sufficient enough to make a large hole. They would then return to Onondaga Castle and direct the “witch” or “wizard” to depart for the place of execution. The men of the nation would then follow the doomed to the prepared location.
After a woman was condemned to die, she would pull a blanket over her head and proceed to the site of the execution. Once at the site, and standing on a rock at the edge of the hole, one of the men would walk deliberately up to her, and remove her blanket and let it fall to the ground. It was at that instant that two Indians would walk up to the woman with tomahawks and do the deed, letting her body fall into the hole. Rocks were then rolled onto the body until it was deeply buried. The men would then cry out: “Thus perish all witches!”
Wizards met a similar fate but instead of walking to the place of their death, they ran.
According to Joshua Clark:
“Several instances of this mode of punishment have occurred since the first settlements were made by the whites, and have been related to the author by the older inhabitants, some of whom were witnesses.”
It was also documented:
“As late as 1803, four squaws were executed according to their customs.”
One of the four directed her own execution. She requested to die by fire. Another one met her death as many did before her- as mentioned and documented above. Here’s the account of why and how she was executed in 1803. Told by Joshua Clark:
“The Indians had purchased a beef of Mr. Webster, for purposes of a great feast. During the transaction a young man who was master of ceremonies, was charged by an Indian woman with partiality, in the distribution of the good things which were served.
The following night the young man rose in great agony, saying, this woman had choked him, and if she did so the following night, it would surely kill him. The succeeding night he was heard to utter a terrible cry, and as he screamed, his friends rushed in, but he was dead. No one was discovered in the room who could have effected his death. It has been said that Mr. Webster himself saw the prints of fingers upon his throat.
The supposed witch, when asked if she was guilty, acknowledged she was.
She was taken to the top of the hill east of the Castle, killed with an axe and buried among the rocks.”
Two other “witches” were executed as the one above. All of them courted their own deaths as martyrs would for a holier cause.
In another document of our earlier times, it was said:
“Another tradition says that about fifty persons were burned to death at the Onondaga Castle for witches.”
Although Onondaga Castle, back during the time of the first white settlements (1788-1805), encompassed a modestly larger area west of modern day Nedrow, there can be no mistake that the “…hill east of the Castle” is a place we can all relate to; needing only to take a peek out of our doors to see it.
Are the ghosts of the witches still stirring among the rocks that buried them? Are they and the fifty witches that were allegedly burned to death looking for an ear of sympathy or are they all content to remain silent on their side of the veil; satisfied with the charges against them?
Please consider them in your thoughts the next time you look to the east.
This story is a part of a larger volume of information that will be published in the near future: Onondaga Castle, Rockwell Springs, Nedrow: History Of A Hamlet
Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/
When I began investigating the paranormal in 2010, it didn’t begin with a couple of hauntings here and there; I stepped into a very busy schedule with our Minnesota team. We investigated close to a dozen sites within six months. We investigated theaters, a hotel, a city hall, an old jail/ bed and breakfast, a cargo ship, a bar and several private residences. It was an exciting time for me as I opened up a very skeptical mind to the possibility of “ghosts”. Five years later, I’m still visiting and investigating haunts and I’m still skeptical of reports of “ghosts”- unless an activity can’t be explained naturally. After years of wandering around in the shadows and dark rooms I now wonder: Has it all been worth it? I now realize that it isn’t all about the “ghost hunt”. It’s about developing a keen interest in the history of the place and of the people who lived there. There’s a rich and interesting history all around us; no matter where we live. We just need to take the time to learn about our past and listen to the people that may still be reaching out to us.
Have you ever taken the time, if you live in an old house, to at least wonder about the people who lived there before you? All of those fifty to one hundred years that have passed within your walls; filled with the deep flowing energies of family gatherings and the complex and interesting people who have moved away or passed away. I have lived in a house that is one hundred years old. And yes, it is haunted. In just a few short months after living there I experienced several “incidents” that rise above anything I have ever experienced before, while working in the paranormal field. In the five years of investigating I have never seen an apparition or anything close to one- until I moved into this house. Although I have never seen a fully solid apparition with clear human features, I did see a wispy fog like vapor move across my path as I opened the door to my bedroom. As I always do, I looked for a natural explanation for this, including smoke from a fire, and could find nothing. Another time I was driving past the house, ready to pull into the driveway, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a body move across the porch towards the front door. A second later, as I made the turn into the driveway, I looked on the porch expecting to see the mailman. No one was there. A friend, who has resided in the house for over twenty years, says that she has seen and heard people, through a draped living room window, move across the porch. After her dog begins the barking and also acknowledges a presence on the porch, a check is made at the door and no one is there. This has happened many times over the years, she said. I have an explanation for these “porch people” but it’s not a debunking, it reinforces the paranormal aspects of these happenings. I’ll get to that later.
As I mentioned, knowing the history of a home’s residents can add or even take away from a paranormal investigation and its findings. I have not looked into the history of my friend’s house but we may have a spirit who may have resided there when they were alive. This ghost has been fairly active in the house and likes to play pranks on the living. She is known to my friend by the given name of “Jamie”. Jamie is a little girl perpetually stuck at the age of around six or seven years. She is attracted to shiny things and she loves to hide objects, which later can reappear in front of a frustrated owner, in a place right in front of their eyes, like on a table top. I suspect that Jamie has targeted me. When I moved in I was suffering from a badly sprained left middle finger. It requires that I wear an aluminum splint on my finger when I sleep and also sometimes during the day. For six weeks I kept the splint on my night stand table when it wasn’t in use. Then one day my splint went missing and I have looked every where. Not only was my splint a target but my car key remote was being played with. If I set my keys down on the coffee table my car alarm would go off. I believe its possible that Jamie was pushing the panic alarm button on the remote. This happened at least two or three times a week and it has never happened at other locations that I have been at. Then there was the morning when I came down to find a small pile of some grass clippings and those whirlygig things that fall from trees in front of the TV on the living room floor. That also caused us to scratch our heads.
Little kids, like adults, have favorite places in their homes where they like to hang out. It seems that Jamie’s favorite spot, strangely enough, is on the lower steps of the stair case to the upper level. Being 100 years old, the stairs creak and groan under the weight of people moving up and down them so it’s not surprising that the sound can be heard anywhere in the house. It is surprising though when you hear a creaking sound when no body is on the stairs. It happened one night while my friend and I were in the living room watching TV. I was looking directly at the stairs when I heard it and I turned to my friend and asked, “Did you hear that?” She also heard the creaking sound. I grabbed the EMF meter and immediately went over to the stairs. Most times there is little or no EMF activity on the stairs. Now the meter was strongly registering well over 2 on the Milligaus scale. One or two steps up and the needle on the meter would fall off to 0 or 1. Near the steps on the floor there is a step stool and this area also registered 2 and above. It was as if Jamie were moving between the stairs and the stool. A few minutes later the meter went quiet again. It is very interesting to me that Jamie seems to prefer the second step up from the floor. This is the same step, incidentally, that the dog and the cat avoid on occasion when descending the stairs. It’s as if Jamie may be sitting there and keeping an eye on what’s happening in the foyer and in the living room. Also of note: The step has a separation/crack in it that runs the length of the step, approximately 2″ from the edge of the step. I have to wonder if at some point in the history of the house if the step may have had a very heavy weight on it that caused it to crack and separate. This step may lend a clue as to why Jamie spends a lot of time there. Did something traumatic happen to her on those stairs or is it just a nice place to spend and play out her ghostly time? Maybe history will some day reveal who Jamie really is or maybe she’s a wayward spirit looking for a place to have some fun and be recognized by people who may be open to the possibility of her existence.
I have often wondered and theorized if there is an explainable and natural common attribute between haunted locations. To the point, could you increase or decrease the activity in your house by just simply flipping an electrical switch to either on or off? I’m talking about EMF. As many know, EMF is an electromagnetic field. Many things in our world generate an electromagnetic field which includes living beings and also, to a higher degree, our electronics and electrical systems. When some electrical systems, such as the ones that power our homes, are not properly grounded, high EMF readings can result. It is extremely important that when you enter a location to investigate that you do a preliminary walk thru to check the property for anything that could help to naturally explain or debunk the claims of the property owner. High EMF readings from electrical systems and devices will rule out a spirit generated EMF in a specific area but I believe, as do many in the paranormal field, that spirits can and will draw from high EMF systems and devices in order to gain energy so that they can “communicate” to the living through the paranormal activity that we experience. Sort of an energy buffet for ghosts. I have found in many cases that there is usually a correaltion between specific areas of high activity and high EMF in that same specific area. I know of at least 3 locations that I have recently investigated where the home owner has seen an apparition or had significant high activity in an area where there is an improperly grounded electrical system or device. My theory holds up in the case of the “Porch People”. The north east wall of their home holds an electrical system that throws off an unusually very high EMF. This could very well explain why the “People” are seen walking past the living room window and it could help explain the other activity in the house as well. Of course this could also explain why this house remains the most haunted house that I have ever been in.
Was living in this haunted house scary? Not at all. All of us are afraid of the unknown but if you can some how try to understand why something unexplainable is happening, it all just becomes another interesting and wonderful part of life- and death.
Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/
The Martian was written by Andy Weir and published by Broadway Books in 2014 (Sold by Random House). You may purchase it at Amazon.com/Kindle.Visit the author on Facebook.
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.
But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
The Martian could very well be our future nightmare come true. Astronaut Mark Watney is believed to be dead and left on Mars by his crew. Even more horrifying than that, he is very much alive but he faces an almost certain slow death from starvation or from several other mishaps. He is stranded, cut off completely from Earth. He is left with only his engineering skills and a strong determination to survive. The odds weigh strongly against him…
The story of Mark’s struggles to survive on the red planet is told to us through a daily journal that he keeps. Being the technically minded astronaut that he is, we don’t hear too much about his philosophies or about his life back home on Earth. The journal is largely about the problems he faces and how he improvises and works with the materials at hand to find solutions. Plainly put- it’s exactly what one would expect to read from an astronaut if this were reality. The author has undoubtedly done his research and homework to bring us something that will most likely be read by future astronauts who endeavor to travel to Mars.
While this story is long and deep on the technical aspects of surviving on Mars, I could not stop reading. I was immediately and completely enthralled by Mark Watney. I liked him. I liked his humor. I liked his do not quit attitude. I liked and admired his ingenuity. This is a book that is at present time being read and debated by many. It has rightfully found a home on the New York Times Best Sellers list and it will soon become a major motion picture starring Matt Damon.
This first time author has produced a great story and he is witnessing a magnificently awesome lift off in his early career as a writer.
I give The Martian 5 stars.
Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/
Andy Weir will be our guest on The Writers Lounge Blog Talk Radio Show on Monday June 8, 2015 at 7 PM Central Time- USA.
Queen Of My Nightmare (Uncharted Secrets, Book 2) was written by Cristi Taijeron and published by Create Space in 2014. You may purchase it at Amazon.com/Kindle.Visit the author on Facebook.
I didn’t want to be a pirate, but there are times one must do undesirable things in order to survive. Under Mason Bentley’s black flag, I ended up finding more than just the refuge I was seeking. He taught me to fight, inspired me to navigate, and by the time we reached Tortuga I was drawing maps so fine I could sell them. No longer a weeping, helpless woman, I took hold of my courage to face the cursed world that wished to punish me for witchcraft. Strong, rich, and free, I finally claimed my throne in this kingdom of thieves, but it was the love I shared with their king that cursed me with a burden I was not strong enough to bear. What good was it to be a queen if the only dominion I held was over a nightmare? -Midnight-
What intrigues and delights me with these stories of old, in this case a pirate story, is the ability of the author to bring a colorful sense of realism to the tale. I often think of pirates in the same way as I think of gangsters. Bad men who have not an ounce of good in them. But human nature doesn’t work that way. We can find good in anyone if we just take the time. And so it was with Hannah when she boarded Mason’s ship. To make it safe for Hannah, on board with many drunk and dastardly men, she had to become a man or at least to look and act like a man. In order to be at Mason’s side Hannah became Midnight and she was soon out to sea experiencing the agonizing and brutal ways of a pirate. To sail along with Midnight as he attempted to maintain his disguise, while also being engaged in a vicious and bloody war with another ship, was very entertaining. As the years continue Hannah struggles with life and her trust in Mason wanes but she holds on.
The author is exceptionally good at descriptions of place and actions. It’s as if she thru colorful buckets of paint onto a black and white distant past. This is a love story that is very well balanced with just the right amount of interesting twists and turns in it to keep you reading until the very end. This author has talent and I would encourage her to continue to write and to think about lengthening her stories. I want to read more.
I give Queen Of My Nightmare (Uncharted Secrets, Book 2) 5 stars
Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/
Cristi Taijeron will be our guest on The Writers Lounge Blog Talk Radio Show on Monday May 25, 2015 at 7 PM Central Time- USA.