Review of Revelation Calling by Cyrus Alderwood

BASICS

            Main Character: Zak Palmer, A widower veteran turned private investigator.

            MC’s Goal: To solve the mystery of his friend’s murder.

            Obstacles: A secret society of puppet masters, and their very capable hitman, Mr. Vanity.

            Setting: Modern day Georgia and California.

            Points of Interest: Georgia Guidestones, Bohemian Grove

            Author Website: http://www.cyrusalderwood.com/blog/

            Amazon Listing: https://www.amazon.com/Revelation-Calling-Search-Cyrus-Alderwood/dp/1090601875/

REVIEW

How much would you risk to make sure your best friend gets justice? For Zak Palmer, he would risk it all. When Zak’s friend Baxter, an FBI agent, is murdered investigating a case involving the Georgia Guidestones, it makes him do something he fought against doing since his wife’s untimely death, care enough about something to get involved.

Cyrus takes the reader on a journey to the darker side of society, and shows the lengths the elites will go to hide their own sins from the world. As Zak sends small ripples into the puppet master society turning over stones and finding more victims, he prompts a wave of retribution to come back at him. The hidden powers-that-be send their most accomplished hitman, Mr. Vanity, to deal with Zak and anyone in his life.

Every person he trusts becomes a potential betrayer. Every move he makes brings new dangers. Every fact discovered uncovers more intrigue. Just wanting to do one last thing for his friend Baxter, Zak picks a fight with the whole world.

I could not put this book down. I know it’s a cliché but it is both well written, and intriguing story that links perfectly with modern conspiracy theories. Cyrus adds a little political intrigue without alienating either side of the fence you fall. His book raises unanswered questions concerning the Georgia Guidestones. Who placed the, there and how do they tie in to other conspiracy theories of a deep state? I thoroughly suggest you invest a few hours in this compelling story.

QUESTIONS WITH THE AUTHOR:

What inspired you to write this story?

A general curiosity of conspiracy theories led me to discover the story of the Georgia Guidestones years ago. The growing acceptance of an actual “deep state,” of corrupt people in our governments and institutions that seem to always escape justice was sort of a catalyst for me. The fact that there has been a problem with human trafficking for years, documented cases, and the fact that Jeffrey Epstein and his pedophile island was known by authorities for years and he only got a slap on the wrist was a news story that I thought deserved some attention as a powerful back story is a suspense novel, a political thriller of sorts. I knew I had to find a way to tie that story (although fictionalized) with the Georgia Guidestones. It felt more like a calling instead of a typical writing project.

Who was your target audience while writing it?

At first I thought that the audience for this book would be the typical fan of political thrillers, maybe catching a few of those folks that are really into conspiracy theories as an interest. I suppose that is still the largest part of the audience for this book, however, with the underlying theme of Zak’s search for faith and purpose in the middle of the chaos that turned his life upside down, I can see how an audience for Christian fiction could be strongly drawn to this book, especially with the verse of Ephesians 6:12 sort of guiding my way through this book.

Did you develop any unique relationship to your characters while writing the book?

I think I had a soft spot for Zak because I’ve been down that same road of hitting a wall in life and floundering around emotionally and spiritually. A place where you feel you are surrounded by darkness and filled with an empty pain but all you want is to find that bright spot in life to give you purpose.

What is your favorite part of the story and why?

I think that the ending still means the most to me. It wraps up that eternal battle of good and evil, and our role in that ongoing struggle as individuals. I feel that the end is especially powerful and something that leaves the reader something to reflect on long after they put the book down.

If you ever wrote a spinoff, what would you take from this book?

I’d definitely have to revive the character of Zak Palmer. He’s a character that went from a broken spirited man, to realizing how strong and blessed he is. Over the course of the book he became a menace to those that run free in the “deep state.” Building on his character in a series could be fun.

What is the one thing that you want your readers to take away?

In the DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons, those stories gave people a reason to question their faith. Maybe that wasn’t the case for everyone that read the books or watched the movies, but they had that effect. I want people to read Revelation Calling and have and enjoy an exciting story and experience a character that heals over time. A story that gives people a reason to strengthen their faith in the proverbial storm, not question it.

Out of all your books, what book should readers start with first?

Tough question! I write across multiple genres, and Revelation Calling was my first attempt at a political thriller. I’ve written comedy and I’ve written horror. I’d rather ask a reader that has read all of my books, but if someone wanted to get a sense of the range of sense of imagination I’d suggest Bedtime Stories For the Terminally Afraid. It’s a collection of short stories, but the reader will find that some are terribly dark and some have a wild sense of irony and humor. In any case, I’d dare the reader to try to guess the endings before they get there. Good luck with that!

Can you describe the writing process for Revelation Calling?

This book wasn’t terribly difficult to write, even though it was a two year process. Once I sat down with my loose outline of it, this book poured out of me like it was meant to be. I know that sounds weird. It sounds weird to say! That’s why I say that I feel like this was a book I was meant to write. With all of the turmoil in our nation over the past few years, and with people waking up to the corruption around them, this book is powerful. Some elements of what I wrote in this book actually came to international exposure a few months after it came out. Prophetic? Maybe. I don’t know, but I think people that read this will get a sense of what I’m talking about.

How many drafts until you felt it was ready for the world?

It didn’t take too many revisions to get to where I wanted it to be, actually. Rewrites are the hardest part of the writing process, the part that really isn’t any fun. But it’s vital! I went through three drafts before I was comfortable. I may eventually pull it off the shelf and add something to it, or do another revision to tighten it up. We all grow as writers, and as I grow I try to look as some of my older work and see if changes are needed.

What kind of research did you do for your story?

I read pretty extensively about Bohemian Grove and about the history of the Georgia Guidestones. I devoured countless hours of YouTube videos on the subject, trying my best to separate fact from fiction. That is easier said than done when your do a deep dive into a topic of conspiracy theory lore. After a lot of the easy research online I made a trip to Elberton, Georgia to see the Guidestones for myself. I stayed in town and made it known why I was there to the folks I met. I got a real sense of how the locals still react to having this monument in their backyard after all these years. I wanted to get a sense of the layout of the location, and try to get a sense of the town and the people there (as best as I could in such a short period of time).

Who or what inspired you to put words on paper in the beginning?

I caught the writing bug all the way back in the year 2000. I think it was just my sense of creativity that spurred me on, my wild imagination. I moved to Cincinnati in June of that year and a friend of mine gave me a tour of old Spring Grove Cemetery. The place was immaculate. It was breathtakingly beautiful and macabre at the same time. That day, while driving through there, I got the idea for my very first book. I only intended on writing one book, but the story I started developing that day turned into a four part series. Once you are a writer there is no stopping, and here I am still writing twenty years later.

In your opinion, how should new writers measure their growth?

You could ask this question to a dozen writers and get a dozen different answers. But there are some things that are clear signs of growth. One is the ability to grow thick skin. As a writer you want others to read your work and give you feedback. We all do, but when you’re ready to get honest feedback and handle that criticism without feeling a dagger in your heart, you’ve grown as a writer.

The goal at the end of the day is to tell a story well, tell a story that the reader will love enough to have a conversation about with someone else who loves to read. I don’t think it’s fair to measure your work against the greats like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain, or modern best sellers like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling. Write a set of standards and goals that you want to live up to as a writer, read as much as you can in your genre, and take that ride. Enjoy the life of a writer. It isn’t easy. It’s filled with criticism and praise. Balance that and see where your growth takes you. Live up to your standards. Don’t strive to be the next Stephen King. Strive to be the first YOU.

An outstanding quick read

Coffee, Fishing, Chess, and How I Enjoyed Doing the Research for My Fiction

To get my current project right, I think I have done more research than on any project, for my writing or to be honest my college coursework. When someone reads your work, you want to make sure you wrap them up in the story and give them no excuse to leave your tale. One of the quickest ways to lose a reader is to get facts or procedures wrong. Use the wrong caliber on a gun and you’ve lost a portion of your dedicated readers, skip a police procedure and you alienate any reading who has experienced either side of the law. It is always worth a conversation with someone in the profession or area where your story needs to play within the lines. If that isn’t an option you would be surprised how much information is within your reach at your local library, online, or in articles from the non fiction magazine which specializes in your topic.

In this project tentatively named Strange Brew of Franklin County, there were several areas that I needed a better grasp for my potential readers. If you are taking time to read my work , I am not going to waste it by bending the laws of reality to conveniently fit my plot points. While there is a place for that in most fantasy novels, if I want you to be in the here and now for a story I have to play by life’s rules. (with a caveat of a few supernatural happenings.)

When brainstorming and rough planning the story there were several things I wanted to include, but I knew I needed to know more. Thankfully for some of it we have MasterClass online. Also my family has a network of medical professionals that were kind enough to lend me a few minutes of their time and one even pointed which websites were the best source of information.

There were several things when planning this book I was already comfortable enough around that the research was more just a quick fact check. Appalachia (spent a lot of summers there, and currently reside in Southwest Virginia), Fishing (been doing it all my life starting with my Father and both Grandfathers), Retiree Banter (spend a few hours waiting at the VA you will pick up what you missed when your grandfather and his friends picked at each other), and finally Airline travel ( I know this seems small but common things you think you can bend to your plot points can also lead to the biggest blunder when trying to keep a book authentic).

Then we started down the path of what I needed to know for my character’s journey.

Turkish Coffee– One of my favorite discoveries while deploying was this coffee. I had a small idea how the locals prepared it but I wanted to know more. If one of my characters was opening a cafe, a simple cu[p of house coffee wouldn’t do. I watched a ton of YouTube videos as a base. Luckily for us here in Abingdon, a Macedonian immigrant runs a small little bakery that serves it.  Watching the process up close, as well as sampling the product was probably one of the most rewarding experiences during the planning phase of this book.

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Roma- I wanted to have a bit of the Roma included in the book. No matter where they go a cloud of misconception and distrust seems to follow. They were as much as our Kosovo journey as anyone else there, so the Cafe owner befriending one as a fellow refugee on the flight to the US made sense. In planning it was originally part of a curse that drove the story, but after much research that would have fed into a stereotype, and if anything this was supposed to be a fun journey not something to rile up that distrust. Instead I wanted to capture some of the good in their culture, and while I could not get my hands on any first hand sources, there are plenty of college dissertations on their life. I read three books of college papers on the subject of their life and stigmas. In the end I found several ways the Roma culture would be able to assist our characters on their journey.

Kosovo– when this story started coming together I knew it would have to include the town of Letnica in Kosovo. Both of my tours over there, shout out to my Blue Devil and Chosin brothers, we ended up patrolling that region. The church in Letnica is a sight to see if you ever get the chance. In addition to the box of photos others encouraged me to take while we were over there, there are plenty of videos of both good and bad of that area online. Talking to an old friend who served as a translator for us, I got a sense of how Albanians in that region have a sense of pride and carry themselves. She also helped me with a lot of the Albanian words that are found in the book.

Chess Young twenty something Jason would put this in the category of things I already know. However as a young team leader sat down while on patrol with my squad and got completely schooled in a small community center in Mitrovica. So if I wanted to capture that part of the culture of Kosovo in the book I needed to know more, a lot more. I have always snuck a game here and there but that wouldn’t cut it for the shops and cafes the characters would experience overseas. This time I leaned on my MasterClass account and a few articles online.  Garry Kasparov playing is something any would be strategist would enjoy to watch.

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Last but my most feared subject, Cancer– my family like many others seem to lose many loved ones to this disease so it was perhaps the most important thing to get right. A good friend of my mother, pointed me in the right direction for research after helping me narrow down which form of Cancer I would be talking about. I found the most information on the subject at the Cleveland Clinic’s website as well as the Mayo clinic’s website.

While many other things did have to be researched the top list took anywhere from a few hours to a couple weeks to gather enough information.

So I propose this question: What is one thing that when you see it in a book it can cause you to stop reading if the author/writer doesn’t get it right?

The Journey: Eighteen Fools

As I get ready to self-publish my first book, I thought I might share the journey it followed to get here. Those of you who follow me on Twitter or my Facebook page, mostly handled by my talented wife, you may have seen clues about the story of a white dragon, a green dress, and some bacon with hashtags galore about Eighteen Fools. We are currently in the final stages to send it forth into the world. Though my first few attempts at a book were more in the comfort zone of thrillers and horrors for me, this is the first book feels like it all came together. I have almost shelved it many, many times; however, with much encouragement, and the anxiety to match it, Eighteen Fools will see the light of day.

Eighteen fools started out as a doodle in 1996 while I was stationed in Korea. The original 18 fools represented the 18 of us that were in my platoon. One at a time we rotated back to the States. My roommate knew I spent laundry time writing short stories, so he challenged me to do one for the platoon. In the original, the dragon was being hunted by eighteen stalwart warriors of first platoon. One by one they fell to the dragon in order of our ETS (End of Time Served, the military loves abbreviations.) from Korea. It was a good laugh for a few of us, but it ended up as a memory and a piece of paper in the trash can.

Somewhere in the mid 2000’s while sitting around bored, I began to doodle a story about a girl escaping a mean duke. I sent the first chapters to people to review, but it really was not a complete story idea. So, it was shelved then scrapped.

I wanted to participate in this writer’s competition, which is really more an exercise called NaNoWriMo (https://nanowrimo.org/ Nation November Writer’s Month, at least military abbreviations are short), in November 2014. In this challenge you must write a 50,000-word story from the first to the thirtieth of November. Challenge accepted; I just needed a story. This was intended to be pure fun… although anyone chasing a dream of being an author, hopes that any book they write will be published. None of my ideas of thrillers, mysteries, or horror suited the exercise. Besides, it was meant to be a challenge. That is how the idea formed that I would bring back the story of 18 fools, but this time not just a dragon hunt. I wanted to incorporate the story of the captive girl escaping the Duke. And to be honest, I wanted the Dragon to have a bigger role and have relatable personality. The story was done November 28th, I hit 50,000-plus words, and had a rough story. I went through the process of editing and reworking but eventually shelved it.

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While working on another eventually shelved manuscript (see a pattern here?), I worked with a great Editor/Mentor, Heather Cashman. Heather gave me a new way of looking at my writing and how to develop the story.  New Eyes brought new ways of seeing all my previous writings.

A few months ago, I dusted off Eighteen Fools, a few voices outside my Mother’s (who has to, by unwritten law, be supportive) told me to try Eighteen fools again. This time the story focuses on Elya (the Maiden) and Frackus (the Dragon). I took to heart all the criticisms and troubled spots, ignored all the good comments except what to keep. I appreciate good opinion and praise as much as the next person, but when the book is in development, you want don’t want to hear anything nice. It is the only way to grow and fix the errors. Now, I feel it is ready for the world to see.

Thank you for all those who supported me and pushed me to this point. I will post more when the book is available.

GIVEAWAY

Prizes: An Echo Dot, The Writer’s Toolbox, and an assortment of tea

Dates: Jan 3 – Jan 22 2019

Must be shipped within the U.S. Must be over 18 to enter.

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Drawing will be done Jan 23. Item shipped on Jan 24.

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