Review: My Tsunami Journey – The Quest For God In A Broken World

My Tsunami Journey –

The Quest For God In A Broken World

Author: Mark Dowd

Foreword: Rowan Williams

Resource Publications, Wipf and Stock Publishers

2022

ISBN#: 978-1-7252-9536-0

Mark Dowd is a former Dominican friar, a broadcast journalist, and author of “Queer and Catholic (A Life of Contradictions)”. In “My Tsunami Journey” he addresses the challenge to faith in reconciling a loving God with the suffering brought about by events like the Asian tsunami of 2004, with 230,000 deaths. Dowd has dedicated this book to his late father, Edward Patrick Dowd, who through a comment uttered in front of a TV set in 2004 sent his son Mark on this journey. (The comment was “God could have stopped that.”)

In his foreword, Dr. Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, notes that each decade seems to have its moment of doubt and trauma. The Asian tsunami was one of those things that caused immense loss of life within a very short time period, a depth and breadth of loss that was unimaginable. He notes that the question here is how a belief in God, and a trust in God, can survive something like this.

Dowd talks about how he was able to set up a two-hour anniversary documentary with Channel Four in the UK. He would be visiting areas affected by the tsunami (Indonesia, India, and Thailand), and interviewing people. At the same time, an article appeared in the Sunday Telegraph with the headline “This has made me question God’s existence”, by Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. (Newspapers do tend to exaggerate – what Dr. Williams had actually said was that it was right and appropriate to question where God was in all of this.)

Before he began the work for his documentary Dowd interviewed Richard Dawkins, an arch-atheist and Oxford biologist. One of Dawkins’s first comments reflected the thought that a happening like this tsunami revenge from God, or perhaps a warning from God. He then went on to add that the kind of God he would like people to believe in would be a creator who then is distant and unengaged with the world that he created. Food for thought here!

I was impressed to see that before Dowd headed overseas to do his interviews, he spent some serious time in the British Library in London studying what Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam had to say about human suffering in relation to God. Dowd found basically one book that addressed the issue, “The Problems of Suffering in the Religions of the World”, by Anglican priest and theologian, John Bowker.

Dowd and his crew worked with local producers, which was interesting in and of itself. Their first stop was Banda Aceh in Sumatra. The room that Dowd chose ended up facing a local mosque, which meant loud noise five times a day as the faithful were called to worship. We might not have had this detail had Dowd not written this book in story format – which allows the reader to follow his thoughts, and how he and his crew are progressing, in a way that is both interesting and informative.

This is a documentary that takes knowledge and tact to put together, as the individuals being interviewed have undergone absolutely unbelievable loss. (Such as the first gentleman interviewed, who lost twenty family members (his entire family) in the tsunami right after his brother’s wedding.)

Personal stories from individuals affected by the tsunami, as well as commentary from clergy frame the telling of this book’s story. Also included were photos of the physical damage done to the affected areas.

This is a personal story for Dowd, and for us as readers. Why do catastrophes have to happen? Where is God in all of this? Is our faith justified? The answer is to be found with the combination of God and science. This is an evolution, a process constituted by the cycles of life, death, and renewal.     

 The stories in this book can help us as readers come to terms with our own thoughts of God, and why such suffering is allowed to happen. We need to be able to justify our faith, so that, IMHO, it does not one day fail us.

This is an inspiring, must-read book.

© December 2021 Bonnie Cehovet

Reproduction is permitted with the written permission of the author.

Review: EMMA – Her Adventures In New York City

Emma:

Her Adventures In New York City

Author: Debi Allen

Artist (interior images): Nadia Ilchuk

Archway Publishing

2021

ISBN #: 978-1-6657-0998-9

Emma is a beautiful dog who lives in a brownstone in New York City with her family. She is independent, adventurous, and full of life. Her neighborhood is filled with trees and furry friends. Allen does a terrific job of taking the reader through a day in the life of Emma – a day in which Emma starts out with breakfast, then moves on to many adventures!

Emma walks down the street, and chats with her canine friends. She encourages them to not just stand around, but to explore, to live their best life! Emma has a multitude of places to explore – after all, this is New York City! She saw a live Broadway musical, picked up a colorful new coat in the Fashion District, had lunch with a friend, visited the MET museum, and even got to play with the children in central park!

Allen’s focus with this book was to find a way to show children how they can live their best life, how they can explore and grow. Through Emma and her adventures, adults can talk to children, encouraging them to explore and find their passions. My personal thought here is that if an adult is trying to reach a troubled child, that this book is a portal to helping them. They can talk through the book, giving the child that needed bit of distance from their own issues and fears.

I also feel that adults will benefit from reading this book, as sometimes we tend to focus too much on work and forget that there is an amazing world around us, if we just open our eyes. This book can also be a portal to reaching adults with learning disabilities and starting a significant conversation with them.

The artwork is outstanding throughout the book – based on a beautiful, calming blue with the use of other pastel colors. “EMMA” is a breath of fresh air, and I highly recommend it.

Note: There is one unusual thing about this book, and that is that the story is reproduced twice in a single volume. I don’t know why, but it takes away nothing from the value of this lovely story.

© September 2021 Bonnie Cehovet

Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.

The Illusive Word

Ladies of Mystery

Early on in my writing, I would have times when I’d be writing along and…nothing. I knew what I wanted to say but I couldn’t find the word I wanted. That was before I was writing on a computer. I would pull out my dictionary and look up a word similar to what I wanted. And hopefully by process of elimination, the right word would reveal itself.

After attending my first RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference, I learned that every writer needs a dictionary( which I had), a thesaurus, The Chicago Manual of Style, and the book Goals, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon. I went home and found those books at my local bookstore and they have been on my shelf. I even purchased a newer version of The Chicago Manual of Style this year.

my shelf of reference books

As you can tell by the ratty cover…

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Got It Covered

Ladies of Mystery

Ebooks were a new thing when the rights for the first nine Jeri Howard books reverted to me. I wanted to republish the novels as ebooks myself. That was a time-consuming project, as I had to have them converted into electronic files, which involved having the actual books scanned. I found a service that would do this, but spent the next six months proofreading. All sorts of things affected scans, from the quality of the paper to specks of dust on the page.

I still find mistakes, though not as often now. The quality control gremlins at Amazon do point out those errors. At least now I’ve become quite skilled at correcting those files myself, thanks to Calibre software.

Cover art was an important aspect of republishing the books. Kindred Crimes, first in the series, was published by St. Martin’s Press, while the next eight were published by Fawcett…

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Getting The Drop-Dead Temple of Doom Off and Running by Heather Haven

Ladies of Mystery

For about fifteen minutes after I finished the 8th book of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, I breathed a sigh of relief and took a break. Then I got back to work. First, I sent off the manuscript to my content editor, a master at letting a writer know what should be expanded, condensed, moved, clarified, or eliminated. That done, I conferred with the cover artist on the new cover. Then I conferred or rather listened to my publicists on marketing strategies i.e., the blurb, keywords, categories, stuff like that. Then began to implement them.

Once the cover and strategies were decided upon, and waiting for the return of the manuscript from the content editor, I went to Amazon Direct Publishing. I filled in the necessary information and uploaded what I could in order to get a URL for the new book. Once I had a URL, I set up…

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Pandemic Dilemma

Ladies of Mystery

Last year about this time I began work on a new novel, making random notes on the main character, the obstacles thrown in her path, snatches of dialogue that came to me while I was out walking, and minor characters who might be interesting. This stage of the process is fun and always interesting. But there was one aspect that I couldn’t decide about. 

We were in the middle of the pandemic. Should I include that fact as part of contemporary life, or write as though there was no pandemic, no masking, no social distancing, no crowding in hospitals, and no arguments over masks. I couldn’t make a decision. If I mentioned the pandemic and all that it entails, would the restrictions of the pandemic play a role in the mystery, or could it remain in the background? (A ludicrous idea, all things considered.) If I didn’t mention it, I’d…

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The Oxen are Slow, but the Earth is Patient*

Ladies of Mystery

As I read about the surrender of the Afghani troops, the rush to Kabul, and the evacuation, I can’t help but compare it to the Fall of Saigon in 1975, the subject of Pay Back, the third book in The Cooper Quartet. The parallels between the two events are too keen. The U.S. pulling out of a lost war, one fought for 18 years the other 20, money spent on arming our allies, training their pilots, and building an air force, only to see both crumble in days. In Pay Back, the Cooper family is entangled in the Fall of Saigon, each driven by the need to make recompense for their pasts. Their story begins in 1967 in Dead Legend, as the Vietnam War tears the U.S. apart; the second book, Head First, unfolds in 1972 during the Christmas bombings as the U.S. prepares to pull…

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My New Book and What Erle Stanley Gardner Has to Do With It

Ladies of Mystery

Though I thought I was done with my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, but after a visit to my daughter’s home in a gated community for seniors, another idea popped into my head and I wrote The Trash Harem.

It wasn’t easy. The fact that I couldn’t meet with my critique group due to the pandemic really hurt. Receiving their feed-back chapter by chapter has always helped so much and I’m considered them my first editor.

Erle Stanley Gardner

However, the ideas kept flowing, and because the story is set in Temecula, a place I’ve visited often, a thought popped into my head about a most famous writer, Erle Stanley Gardner. He lived and wrote most of his books while living in Temecula. I knew a lot about Gardner, not only from reading some of his Perry Mason books, but visiting the Temecula Valley Museum where the whole second floor is…

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The Pear Garden by Karen Shughart

Ladies of Mystery

We call it the Pear Garden, and this is how it started. I come from a family of dog lovers. Almost everyone has or has had dogs: my husband and I, our kids, my siblings, nieces and nephews, cousins. When they pass, we grieve for our fur babies for a long time; and we always remember them fondly, even after we adopt a new pet.

A few years ago, one of our great nieces and nephews came to visit with our daughter, Jessica. Emil was maybe about nine or ten that year and still grieving for the family’s dog, Pear, a lovely, gentle Golden Retriever who had been laid to rest a few months before. Emil was still sad about the loss. We live on Lake Ontario, and Jessica and Emil went off to the beach to collect smooth stones at the water’s edge. Then they came back and painted…

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The Murder Person Redux

Ladies of Mystery

by Janis Patterson

We’ve talked a lot about the myriad murder weapons present in the average home, and a little about what deadly things a murderer can carry on his person, on which I intend to expand a little after this warning.

If your murderer is going to use something clever (i.e., more than a rock or a gun or a knife) that he carries on his person he not only needs to be extremely smart but very careful. especially if the murder method results in instantaneous death. Then everyone who was with the victim is likely to be carefully scrutinized. We cannot rely on the police overlooking anything suspicious.

So with that caveat in mind, let’s talk about the actual killing. If your villain is going to be gone before death occurs there’s a lot more leeway in method.

How will your murderer handle such risk of exposure? Usually…

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