An Invitation to Join the Club

As the dawn sheds light on a new day, I find myself reflecting on yesterday’s celebration of Canada’s birthday.

Canada is many things, including a beautiful land of diversity, both in landscape and people. We’re far from perfect and face our own struggles, but overall, we are blessed.

However, Canada is but one country, and sparsely populated in relation to land mass.  At just over 37 million, we’re a drop in the bucket.

What about this club thing in the title, Bierman? And what’s with the handshake photo? Don’t you know it’s dangerous nowadays? I’ll get to that, soon, I promise. First, I’m going to give you a quick bio about myself, so that you have a gist about who’s extending this invitation.

Here goes: I’m a white, middle class, Christian man, with a nuclear family. I have over twenty years’ experience as a Correctional Officer. I’m the son of immigrants who arrived as children, from Holland. I am proud of who I am, my heritage, my country, and my family.

I hope you are proud of who you are too. You have every right to be.

You see, this club is not exclusive, it’s open to everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political leanings, and occupation.

There are some rules, however:

  1. You must have a pulse.
  2. You agree to behave in a respectful manner to all. Do not mock or belittle anyone because you think their ideas, religion, beliefs, interests, what have you, are foolish.
  3. You agree to disagree, refrain from assigning unfair labels to someone, simply because their opinions do not coincide with your own.
  4. You agree to inform yourself and question what you see and hear on the news. That goes for social media, too. You are intelligent and have free will. Please do your research before you make assumptions. I’m sorry, I know real issues exist, but this particular item is gasoline on an inferno. Blue Lives Murder T Shirt on Amazon . So every police officer is a murderer? I don’t think so. I’m using this one because it hits a bit close to home. I don’t know what you do for a living but think about possible stereotypes for your profession. Are they true for all who work in that field?
  5. Honest questions are encouraged and even polite debate, but do not expect a conversion to your way of thinking. Oh, by the way, might be wise to leave the thesaurus at home. Sophisticated or uncommon words that are meant to demonstrate superior “intelligence” often do the opposite. More importantly, they do not foster amicable relations.
  6. We all have trauma and scars from the past. Yes, even the rich and famous. So many things shape us into what we are today. I think it’s important to remember that we are all one footstep away from being someone else.

So, what is this club? Well, I guess I’ll call it, The Club of Humanity. The invitation has no expiry date. All that is required is to follow these simple rules and check any bitterness, anger, and prejudice at the door. If you’d like, I can leave a bin of glasses at the entrance to wear, so that members can see others through a new lens.

Thank you for reading this. I hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vanished, A novel by Mark Bierman

 

Today I wish to take some time to promote my novel, Vanished. Now, I must be honest with you, I never thought I’d write a story about human trafficking

How it all began and why:

My father was a building contractor and had been to the impoverished nation of Haiti a number of times. He would assist with the construction of homes, churches, and a few other projects. His return meant amazing stories and disturbing photos of tiny shanties where families lived, in cramped quarters, without running water or electricity.  In fact, often, there were open streams of raw sewage that ran close to these squalid huts.

In October of 2010, my brother-in-law accompanied my father to decimated post-earthquake Haiti. Yes, you guessed it, another construction project.

“Oh, take a journal with you and write in it every day,” I instructed them. “I want to write an article for a magazine about your experiences.”

The pair dutifully completed their “assignments” and I was blessed with a plethora of information and colorful stories. That’s when the idea came for a book. Yes, but why Human Trafficking? Well, I have spent years working as a Correctional Officer and my mind instinctively wandered to the criminal element, I also enjoy reading action novels. I really believe, too, that this book was a therapy for me, to cleanse my mind of the negative experiences of working in a prison.

Please be aware that the book contains NO graphic violence or sexual deviance. I DO NOT create rape scenes, nor describe grotesque injuries or deaths.

A quick summary of Vanished:

Tyler Montgomery loses his wife to cancer and is grieved beyond consoling. His father-in-law, John Webster, cannot bear the loss of his daughter, both men are headed for self-destruction. When the opportunity for the mission trip arises, Trudy, John’s wife, convinces the pair to go. Though she grieves herself, she puts their needs first and believes this Good Samaritan experience will be a distraction.

They arrive in Port-de-Paix, Haiti, which is relatively untouched by the earthquake and find their host, a missionary named Steve Tracey. He drives them to Rescue Haiti Mission, their home for the next month. At dinner that night, they meet a lovely young woman named Mahalia, who takes in the Mission’s laundry, and her sweet seven-year-old daughter, Chantale.

All goes well for the first while, until Mahalia bursts into the cafeteria during dinner, proclaiming that Chantale has been taken, her cherished doll found abandoned on the road. A local search leads nowhere, and the police are unwilling to help. Even Steve tells them to accept that little Chantale is lost forever. The earthquake has created too many problems and these children are never found.

Unaccustomed to such atrocities, and reeling with the pain of their own loss, the two Americans develop a strong desire to do the right thing. Steve resists, at first, citing the dangers and fallibility of the undertaking.

One day, in a fit of frustration, Steve declares that Chantale is as good as dead. Mahalia overhears this and reacts strongly. She ignores Steve and approaches Tyler, the look of sorrow in her eyes is what he sees in the mirror daily.

Mahalia shoves a photo of her daughter, and the doll into Tyler’s hands. She locks eyes with him and utters the words that begin a terrifying journey into the underbelly of Haitian society.

“Don’t listen to him. He has given up hope for many things. You are a good man. I know you can do this. Please find her! Please find my baby!”

Yes, John and Tyler are loosely based on my kin, and yes, there are some facts and experiences they had that are incorporated into the story. However, the majority of it is fiction.

This book was written mainly for the purpose of drawing attention to the world-wide issue of Human Trafficking that is prevalent in EVERY country.

Fifty percent of the profits made from Vanished, are donated to a charity that helps victims of human trafficking.

I’ve composed a poem that speaks about Mahalia’s thoughts as she deals with her grief:

Chantale, little angel, my barren arms embrace the ghost of you; they’ve squeezed the shards of my shattered heart, since the day you were snatched away.

Blurred by the rain of constant grief, my soul’s eyes search this decimated land; baby girl, where’d you go to?

Pointed fingers accused me, for surely, I fed you to the mongrels; pay no heed, my precious child, to the evil lies they say.

Come back Chantale, the flowers you picked crumble in the vase; my will to live falls with each petal, fresh ones will die quickly, unless touched by you.

In feverish madness, I’ve commissioned strangers to the rescue, placed faith in two men, pure of heart but naïve to the ways of monsters; forgive me Chantale, for my options were few.

If to the cruelty you succumb, please climb on the Father’s lap, whisper your plea; a hug from Heaven in a rainbow’s hue.

Please check out the book trailer:

I wish to thank the professionals at 4WillsPublishing for creating such a wonderful trailer!

Vanished made the top ten list! Jan Sikes is a very talented author. Please visit her website.

Thank you so much for taking the time to learn about Vanished.

If you wish to purchase a copy, available in ebook and print format:

Amazon.com       Amazon.ca      iBooks

Connect with Mark:

Website      Facebook    Twitter    Instagram

I am also a member of  Rave Reviews Book Club a wonderful community of authors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review of Silent Heroes, by Patricia Furstenberg

The Blurb:

How far would you go to save strangers in need? And who really are Marines’ most trusted allies?
Military Dogs would risk their lives for their humans in a heartbeat, but can soldiers do the same when personal struggles and global affairs defy humanity?

My Thoughts:

Patricia has certainly done her homework when it comes to research. Silent Heroes sheds light on the plight of the Afghan people, far better than any newscast. This ‘in your face’ tale may be fictional, but the vicarious journey into the depths of earthly hell cannot be underestimated. I was schooled on the true collateral damage, and that is the personal trauma of all who are dragged into war.

The desperation of a father who seeks his lost children, the terror of a village constantly under threat, and the bond between canine and soldier, are skillfully portrayed. The fact that Silent Heroes broached the subject of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was a refreshing change from the usual, ‘good guy shoots bad guy and remains unaffected.’

What impressed me the most was Patricia’s attention to detail in her explanation of Afghanistan’s history and how the Taliban rose to power. I’d been completely unaware of these facts, despite years of watching news footage. I finished the book better educated and with a greater sympathy for all involved.

There were some areas where past and present tense were used interchangeably, and character perspectives changed suddenly, more clarity could have been given.

Silent Heroes is an intense and action-packed read that anyone with an interest in culture, foreign affairs, and the personal cost of war would find appealing.

Four Stars for Silent Heroes.

silentheroes

Meet Patricia:

Patsmall

Patricia Furstenberg is a skilled, multi-genre author, poetess and mother, known for her uplifting, thought-provoking themes and her appealing characters. With a medical degree behind her, Patricia is passionate about mind, brain and education and the psychology behind it. Her writing echoes the realities of life and is accented by ‘creativity and vivid imagery.’ She knows how to ‘capture the reader’s imagination.’ Her prolific writing is described as: positive, diverse, crisp, joyful and uplifting. As a winner of the Write Your Own Christie Competition, the Judges ‘were impressed by her thorough investigation and admired the strength of her narrative; they were impressed by her style’. The judges thought Patricia’s writing style is ‘well structured, with a great sense of tension and suspense’, ‘confident and intriguing’. The Judges were Mathew Prichard, David Brawn from Harper Collins UK and Daniel Mallory from Harper Collins US. She lives happily with her husband, children and dogs in sunny South Africa.

Connect with Patricia and purchase a book: 

Amazon.com

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Pintrest

Email

LinkedIn

Blog

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the WATCH “#RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RRBCWRW

Welcome! Today I have the privilege of hosting RWISA Author, Jan Sikes!

She is a talented writer and supportive member of Rave Reviews Book Club, or RRBC.

Blog Tour Banners

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Please feel free to comment or share.

PARADISE BELOW

JAN SIKES

Emma Dupont shifted her backpack and lowered her head as she struggled through the crowded street. Panic struck as the sunlight faded.

It would mean sure death to get caught out after dark

“Watch where you’re goin’, you stupid bitch!”

Rough hands shoved her into the edge of speeding traffic. With great effort, she steadied herself, stepped back onto the sidewalk, and quickened her pace.

Making sure no one noticed her, she ducked into an alleyway and banged on the side of a blue dumpster with a series of raps. A camouflaged door slid open.

She tossed her backpack inside then hurried down the metal steps into the arms of a dark-haired man who held her while she sobbed.

“Susan, please bring Emma a cup of tea,” he instructed.

A tall blonde woman hurried away.

“I can’t go back up there again, Donovan. I just can’t.” Emma moaned. “They are no more than savages. Armed soldiers are everywhere, questioning everyone, barely controlling the mobs of hate-filled people. It’s awful.”

She didn’t tell him she’d felt someone watching her as she pushed through the street. The noose was tightening, but she’d die before she’d expose their hiding place.

Donovan rubbed her shoulders. “Don’t think about that right now.”

Susan appeared with a steaming cup and pressed it into Emma’s hands.

“Try to relax,” Donovan tucked a tendril of brown hair behind her ear.

Emma sank down against the cold concrete wall and let the warmth of the tea soothe her ragged nerves She watched while Donovan emptied the contents of the backpack.

When he looked up, his eyes shone. “You did good, love. We almost have enough.”

After the last election, conditions in the US had deteriorated. Humanity had gone crazy. Hate flourished and people killed each other over the slightest disagreement. Satan reigned.

Evil permeated every corner. Small handfuls of people banded together and escaped into underground tunnels determined to live in peace and raise their children.

Fed up with the insanity, Emma didn’t hesitate to join. Her group had one plan.

They had to get to Mexico.

The government’s restriction of money forced them to withdraw small amounts at a time. Emma’s experience of working in banks gave her the ability to gather the funds they needed to escape.

They were almost there, but nine months of living beneath the crazed streets of Dallas had taken its toll, especially on the children. Deprived of vitamin D, they grew lethargic and pale.

Resources, time and patience grew thin.

“I’ve been in communication with others in Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. We’re almost ready to make our move,” Donovan said. “But, one mistake will mean death.”

Emma nodded. She didn’t care. The thought of dying didn’t frighten her.

Jasmine tea helped slow her heart rate and settle her nerves.

Donovan dropped beside her. “I never imagined that the ‘Land of the Free’ and the ‘Home of the Brave’ would deteriorate into such a state of evil, and hate.” He blew out a long sigh. “We’ve lost everything.”

Emma placed a hand on his arm. “But, we haven’t given up. And, we’ve kept love in our hearts.”

Susan and several others gathered around. “With trust in God and help from the angels who watch over us, we’ll survive,” she said. “We’re the future of humanity. We are the Lightworkers.”

They formed a circle and joined hands. In a melodic voice, a woman with straight black hair sang, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…”

Voices blended sweetly, and an essence of light filled the dank tunnel.

###

Melchizedek bowed his head overcome with the beauty and faith of the small group. He called Nemamiah and Charmaine to his side.

“It is almost time. We must rally everyone to watch over and help them. Please meet with the Ashtar Command and give them a report.”

Nemamiah folded his wings and nodded. Charmaine smiled and opened her wings to take flight.

“It is done.”

###

Emma barely survived her last venture above ground. When three hoodlums grabbed her and dragged her into a deserted alleyway, she fought hard, but they stuffed a dirty rag in her mouth and kicked her with the sharp toes of their boots.

From their sneers and insinuations, she knew they intended to take more than the contents in her backpack. She silently prayed.

The moment her attackers dumped the money out of her backpack, a flock of Ravens descended from nowhere, flapping their wings and pecking at their heads and eyes until they ran screaming from the alley.

Emma was sure they’d attack her next, but to her surprise, the birds hovered around her while she picked up the money, then flew above her while she ran for safety.

She shook her head when Donovan questioned her bruises and told him the angels had protected her.

Wheels were in motion. They would soon be away from the nightmare.

Donovan gathered the group for final instructions. “Travel light. Anything you don’t need, leave it. We have two vans, but there’s limited room.”

While the rest did the same, Emma gathered her belongings. She wouldn’t take more than she could carry on her back. She stared at a photo before tucking it into a zippered pocket. That life was gone. All she had left was her faith, strong will, and this family determined to live in peace.

By the time the twelve adults and four children were ready, the first shy rays from the sun graced the sky. It would be a long day.

They piled into the vans in an orderly manner. Donovan would drive one vehicle, and Michael the other.

Emma got into Donavon’s van. They’d grown close over the months of their confinement. She wouldn’t call it romance, but pure love. She’d grown to love all these gentle souls. Together, they would build a new life in paradise.

They slapped magnetic signs on the sides of the vans that read, “Hollow Road Baptist Church” and crawled through early morning traffic toward I-35 south.

They hit a roadblock a few miles outside Dallas.

“Remember what we rehearsed,” said Donovan as he pulled over.

Several of the group placed Bibles on their laps. Emma held her breath.

Armed soldiers approached. “Papers,” one soldier barked, “and state your destination.”

“Camp Zephyr, sir, for a retreat.”  Donovan handed him papers.

Soldiers surrounded both vans and peered through the windows. Emma was sure they could hear her heart pounding. She forced a smile.

Donovan stared straight ahead.

After what seemed like forever, the soldier passed the papers back through the window. “You can go. But, stay on the main roads. There are crazies around.” He motioned them on.

Donovan nodded and pulled away. “Emma, pull up GPS and find a back route, then tell Michael what we’re doing.”

The route took them through miles of open pasture and small Texas towns. Finally, their headlights pierced the darkness and lit up a rusted VW van shell.

Donovan pulled to a stop. “Everyone stays put until we know it’s safe.”

He jumped out. He and Michael hurried toward the VW, looking in all directions.

Emma chewed her fingernails and stared out the window. Nothing could go wrong now. They were so close.

Donovan had explained that a Coyote would escort them through the tunnel into Matamoros, where they would find papers and transportation.

When the men turned and waved, the group grabbed their belongings and exited the vans. One-by-one, they climbed down rickety wooden steps into a damp tunnel. Flashlights reflected off dirt walls supported by boards and rocks.

Painted on one board, “Paradise Below” promised a long awaited redemption. The narrow tunnel forced them to walk single-file, and some taller men had to hunch over.

But, discomfort didn’t matter.

In an hour, they emerged onto a deserted side street in Matamoros where a dilapidated bus waited.

Without a word, the group filed onto the bus. The driver closed the door and ground the gears into forward motion.

Emma sat beside Donovan and reached for his hand. “We’re going to make it.”

He sighed and leaned back against the seat. “We are.”

A brilliant red sun rose over the ocean, bringing with it a new day, as the bus lumbered to a stop many hours later. Gentle waves lapped the shore and seagulls cawed as they swooped down searching for breakfast.

When the bus door opened, a couple dressed like American tourists greeted each person.

A woman with flaming red hair hugged Emma. “Welcome to Mexico. I’m sure you’re exhausted. We have rooms prepared for each of you.”

“Thank you,” Emma murmured soaking up the tropical scenery.

Paradise! They’d made it. No more hate, no more violence, and no more hiding.

They’d reached Pueblo de Luz, (City of Light).

A band of angels hovered above the group with tears of joy shining in their eyes.

There was hope for humanity.

Hope in these small groups that dared to keep love alive.

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

RWISA Author, Jan Sikes

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click  HERE to make your application!