Indonesia family bombings: Books never reach this level of evil



Real evil reaches depths that most writers who want to appear credible would never dream of—not if they wanted to be taken seriously.

Evil finds a new low: parents send children as suicide bombers to a church

Firefighters fight the blaze at the Surabaya Centre Pentacostal Church, Indonesia.
Photo: Reuters

Last weekend, families carried out two terrorist bombings in Indonesia. Parents and children. On Saturday, May 12, a family of six suicide-bombed three churches in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city. Dad drove a car loaded with explosive and detonated it in front of a church. Two sons, aged 18 and 16, rode a motorcycle into the yard of another church and detonated the bombs they carried.

Their mother took her two daughters, aged 12 and 8, to a third church, forced her way inside, embraced a congregant and detonated.

The next day, a family of five attacked the police headquarters in the same city, blowing themselves up. A seven-year-old girl survived, but was injured.

On Sunday afternoon, more bombs went off in an apartment building in a city south of Surabaya, killing three more.

In addition to themselves, the bombers killed 18 people and injured 50.

Investigators said the father of the family in the first bombing was associated with an Indonesian extremist group tied to Daesh, the “Islamic State.”

Good or evil?

The parents, were apparently radicalized. Presumably, they thought they were advancing some cause.

Then they brought their children into the suicidal scheme.

The idea of killing your children for a cause makes most people recoil. Protecting your children from harm is a basic instinct in the human animal. Most other animals, too. So to not only put them in harm’s way, but to kill them yourself strikes me as the most evil act imaginable.

What do you think? Can you describe a more evil act? Leave a comment.

We don’t let children under 18 (or older in some places) vote, consume alcohol or use other substances, partly because we reason that they’re not yet able to do the kind of analysis and make the informed decisions those acts require.

Evil thinks it’s good

Photo of girls kidnapped by the evil Boko Haram

Schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram years ago in Nigeria: the terrorist group claimed it was not doing evil—the girls would be converted to Islam and married to faithful men.

But as I wrote in my Written Words blog, evil doesn’t think it’s evil. Suicide bombers think they’re going to change the world, to bring about a greater good.

We’ve read that Daesh suicide bombers believe they’ll go to Paradise for killing the enemies of their religion.

The weekend’s events in Indonesia have reached a new depth. And officials there are warning that this may be the first signs of a new trend of family suicide bombings.

Murdering your children is something that I just can’t get over:.

I once thought that airport security doesn’t have to worry about a mother with a child, because what mother would bring a bomb onto a plane with her child on board? So much for that idea.

I know, parents have killed their children before. Sons have accompanied fathers to war. Fathers have murdered their whole families, or abused children until they died. A few years ago, a mother drowned her two boys, causing an international reaction.

But those are usually acts of rage, linked to mental illness. The deliberate nature of planning an attack like those in Indonesia, enlisting your children in it, strapping bombs to their bodies and sending them to murder and die, is chilling.

Literature: a weak mirror

The adage “truth is stranger than fiction” comes to mind. That’s not quite the case, however. I have never read any fiction with events like this. (Although it could be out there. I haven’t read everything.)

Do you know of a novel or story about a parent who murders their children as part of a political or religious plot?

Writers, especially those of thriller fiction, try to craft believable stories. Who would believe a story about a woman who blows up herself and her young children in defence of a religion or any other idea?

Welcome to a new era of terror.

Cover reveal: Driving Tempo



Announcing the third novel in the House of Archer rock star romance series

By Raine Thomas

Fantasy and romance novelist Raine Thomas has returned to her series about the rock band reality-TV show, following up Imperfect Harmony and Unsteady Rhythm.

Driving Tempo: House of Arch #3 pre-release cover

What is Driving Tempo about?

A rock band. A reality show. A life swerving out of control.

The House of Archer cameras continue to roll, and Lily and Archer feel the pressure to perform. As the show’s stars and media’s newest darlings, their love life is bright in the public’s eye. But what should be the best time of their lives has Lily feeling like she’s an inch away from a head-on collision.

Between the never-ending cameras and a relationship moving forward at top speed, she barely recognizes her life anymore. All she wants is to pursue her writing career and plan her future with the man she loves. With complicated road blocks popping up at every turn, neither seems possible.

Time to call in reinforcements.

Recruiting the help of her sister, Rosemary, seems like the answer to Lily’s problems…until things between Rosemary and The Void’s spoken-for sound specialist, Sage Strickland, start to heat up. Now there’s one more teetering band relationship for Lily to balance in the media along with her own. One misstep could not only destroy The Void’s recent success but end the only career she has.

Once Lily, Archer, and the band transition from touring back to everyday life in L.A., they’ll have to learn how to navigate the twists and turns of their newfound fame. After all, the summer tour may be coming to an end, but the drama is just beginning.

Driving Tempo, House of Archer Book 3, the new adult contemporary rocker romance launches May 22.

Learn more on Goodreads. And watch Amazon for the launch.

About the author

BestSelling author Raine ThomasRaine Thomas is the award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine has signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen. She’s a proud indie author who is living the dream. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Raine loves to hear from readers! You can connect with her at:

 

Independent book review: Still Life with Memories series



By Uvi Poznansky

I have recently discovered the books of Uvi Poznansky, and she has written a remarkable series of books. Together, they tell one unified story, but from multiple points of view. The author does a remarkable job of capturing each individual voice

Still Life with Memories is about Lenny and Natasha Kaminsky, and about the way Natasha’s illness affects the whole family over a long time.

Natasha is a concert pianist and composer, hailed as a genius, and Lenny a soldier and intelligence operative.

They meet and fall in love, and Lenny says he cannot believe his luck when Natasha accepts his proposal of marriage. After the war, they return to the States and settle in Santa Monica, California. Natasha tries to re-start her music career, but shelves it when she becomes pregnant.

She becomes a piano teacher while Lenny pursues his own career, and Natasha’s enormous white piano fills up most of the living room in their small apartment.

But before many years pass, Lenny starts to notice something is wrong with Natasha. She has increasing memory lapses, which also affect her playing. Gradually, she loses the ability to play the piano. Lenny becomes despondent over the gaps Natasha’s memory and the damage it inflicts on their relationship. Lenny begins recording interviews with Natasha, then transcribing them in an effort to write a book about their life together.

Then he meets Anita, a teenaged girl who looks astonishingly like a young Natasha. Anita sets her sights on him as her best chance for a better life than her mother could give, and Lenny falls for her. Natasha, as fragile as she is, leaves Lenny, but seems to come back more than once.

 

But when Lenny makes Anita pregnant, the marriage is over. Not only does Natasha leave Lenny for good, so does their son, Ben, who is one year older than Anita.

The most remarkable thing about Poznansky’s series is that she tells it from different points of view.

Anita, who first appears in Lenny’s life as a teacher, is the narrator of book 1, My Own Voice. In Book 2, The White Piano, Ben, Lenny’s son is the PoV character. Lenny then takes over the narrating for the rest of the series, and we get to put the pieces together of Natasha’s real story.

Natasha is the most interesting character in the series. She’s a highly talented artist and, it turns out, was resourceful and effective during the war. The way that the author slowly reveals her story is sometimes anguishing, sometimes teasing, but always fascinating.

And the author perfectly captures each PoV character’s voice as she does this: the calculating other woman, the angry son, the guilt-ridden husband.

Still Life with Memories also reveals the ephemera quality of memory, through the differences in details that each character remembers about their interactions.

Battered by fate

Poznansky shows how each of us tries to be master of our own fate, but we are at the same time victims of an often cruel universe, dealing with things that we could never have seen coming. In book 4, Marriage Before Death, Lenny wonders how it is that some of the soldiers on the battlefield die, while other survive, and whether his time is up. And in other volumes, he tries to make a new life for himself and his family, but suffers setback after setback. When Anita finds him, he seems powerless to turn  her away, even though he tries.

Anita is more skilled or talented at surfing the maelstrom of life. She rises from an impoverished single-parent household, without much education, and catches a successful man—one who can give her things she could only dream of as a girl.

Ben recoils when he learns of his father’s affair with a girl younger than himself, drops out of school and leaves for Rome. When he returns, he also finds attracted drawn against his will to Anita, the woman who replaced his mother in many ways.

A couple of flaws

I find myself equally unable to resist Poznansky’s storytelling style. While she perfectly captures each character’s individuality, at the same time she writes in a style that seems at once fresh and old-fashioned. She has, I think, also captured a prewar literary voice that is refreshingly distinct from the mass-produced style you can find in today’s commercial bestsellers.

But the books are not quite perfect. There are a couple of flaws.

First, Lenny seems to be an incompetent intelligence operative. In Marriage Before Death, he wanders behind enemy lines with ease with little purpose or mission, and gets caught almost immediately.

Also, the timing seems a little off. If Lenny is in his 20s during the war—and it seems he is—then I’m having trouble working out the timing for when he meets Anita in Santa Monica. She describes Lenny as being in his 40s, so that would take us to the mid-sixties or at best early 70s. However, Anita plays a song from “the sixties” as if it were really old. Somehow, the timing just seems a little off there.

Overall

This is a wonderful series, a richly colourful portrait of the intersecting, overlapping and mutually supportive and destructive lives. It portrays the intricate relationships of family, of the ways we intentionally and unintentionally hurt the people we love, and how what we do to each other ultimately creates the people they, and we are. It’s not quite perfect, but then neither are we.

Well done, Ms. Poznansky

4*

Find Uvi Poznansky’s work on

Visit her website.

Enter to win a Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet—free!



Filled with 45 fast-paced thrillers—but don’t delay.

 

There is no cost to enter this giveaway. If you win, you’ll get an e-reader, filled with all the books you see above. Runner up gets all 45 books.

One of the books you could win is one of mine: Torn Roots, the first Lei Crime Kindle World novella featuring FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm.

Torn Roots

Hawaii is known for volcanoes and sandy beaches. Beauty and danger reign.

After breaking a case of murdered poachers in Maui’s national park, Detective Pono Kaihale accepts a short-term position as Acting Lieutenant in Hana on the island’s rain-forest coast. He is looking forward to redirecting lost hikers and moderating mild lovers’ spats, and enjoying the natural beauty of the southeast shore. But by his second week on the job, Pono finds trouble here comes in unexpected forms.

As environmentalists, property developers, protesters, arsonists, kidnappers and a rogue Homeland Security agent converge on his new post, Pono feels like the eye of a brewing storm. And when a new FBI agent gets involved, Pono realizes the stakes are much higher than a quiet period in his career.

Lives will be lost if he doesn’t solve this mystery quickly.

Don’t wait—the contest closes April 2.

Enter your email address to be eligible to win.

Should I delete my Facebook account?



“When the service is free, you are the product”

Image: PixBay/Creative Commons

Whether they were successful or not, Cambridge Analytica has made a lot of people uncomfortable to the point that many have deleted their Facebook accounts, and more are considering it.

The scandal alleges that Cambridge Analytica unethically used 50 million people’s Facebook data to try to influence the 2016 U.S. election. This raises a question for BestSelling Reads members, and indeed all authors in this new age of independent writers and a market dominated by e-books: should we continue to have a presence on Facebook? If so, how do we protect ourselves, and our readers, fans and friends?

The need for social media

All the book marketing gurus tell authors that we need to have a social media presence, among other things, if we want to sell books. We’re also supposed to have a website, a blog, an email list with thousands of addresses—and we have to keep writing more books.

Every author I know has a Facebook profile, and so does the group itself. It has a lot of utility. It’s one of the main ways my readers connect with me. Last week, I held a live Facebook event to launch my new book on Amazon, and used Facebook Live to do reading from my new book. I had tons of comments, questions and entries to little giveaway contests that I had.

It’s hard to give up Facebook, an application that connects millions, if not a billion people.

But it has its dangers, in the form of people who misuse it for their own gain at others’ expense.

What Facebook is doing with your information

Facebook works by selling advertising. There are more than a billion users in the world, which makes it an enticing medium to any advertiser.

But Facebook goes beyond just broadcasting like television or radio. It uses the information about you to determine what you might be interested in. This allows advertisers to develop ads that will be more appealing to you. Facebook and advertisers use demographic information, like your age and where you live, to target advertising to you.

In addition to the personal data in your profile, Facebook gets more valuable information from things like how long you spend watching a video, or which apps and games you play, and which posts you respond to.

That’s why your advertising feed, the column on the right side of the screen, and the sponsored ads in your news feed are about products and services that echo what you’ve been responding to on Facebook.

Cambridge Analytica created an app on Facebook that asked people to take a quiz. It then exploited a loophole that allowed it to collect data about both the quiz takers and their Facebook friends, as well—in defiance of privacy laws that say data about a person can only be collected with their consent, and for the purpose for which it was collected in the first place.

Now it’s a huge scandal.

What’s the solution?

There are steps you can take to protect your data from misuse. Some are just so obvious, they shouldn’t need stating. But here they are, anyway.

  • Keep your password confidential. Don’t even tell family and friends. You may trust them not to abuse your profile, but they may not be as careful about protecting your identity as you are.
  • Don’t put your home phone number, home address, date of birth or email address in your Facebook profile.
  • Be careful about what you post, especially if it’s something that you know may offend or upset a potential employer. In general, I try not to be offensive and avoid offensive language. That doesn’t prevent people taking offense I what I say, however.
  • Don’t post about being away from home or on a long vacation—you are asking bad people to break into your house.

Privacy settings

Facebook has over 50 different privacy settings, with in total more than 170 options. The New York Times has published a simple guide to help you find them.

Start with the little downward-pointing triangle on the top right of the Facebook screen. Select Settings, then from the left menu, Privacy. Set who can see your profile information. Usually, the choices are Public, Friends, Friends except acquaintances, Only me and Custom.

But that’s not all. Every App has its own settings. So do Timeline, Ads, Public Posts, and every App. This is what makes games like Farmville so dangerous as well as annoying. Set to Public, it lets others see that you use the app. Make sure you’re comfortable with each setting here.

And even if you set everything to Private, advertisers can still use the data to build a profile of you. And you know that prompt you get to add your phone number to “enhance” your security? Don’t do it. It’s another data point that can be used to identify and target you.

Don’t share everything

The more you post on Facebook, the more information you give advertisers to target ads to you. You don’t have to share every restaurant meal, unless you want to get more ads from restaurant chains.

I have learned not to answer quizzes that will tell me which fictional character I am, or what my level of education is. That just helps advertisers target ads to me better.

I am also struggling with arguing politics and philosophy on Facebook. By the time someone gets around to uploading something egregiously false, they’ve worked themselves into a mindset that will not be changed by logic and facts, anyway.

Finally, here’s something I just learned from NBCnews.com: download a copy of all your Facebook data to see just how much information you’re actually sharing. You may be surprised.

Don’t miss your chance to save: Book launch for Wildfire coming March 22



You can reserve your advance copy of Wildfire for just 99 cents—but only until midnight March 21.

It’s only 6 days till the first Wine Country Mystery goes live on e-book retailer sites.

That means there’s less than a week left to pre-order your copy for just 99 cents. As of launch day—Thursday, March 22—the price goes up to $2.99.

So do as your parents advised you: buy when it’s on sale. And it’s on sale RIGHT NOW.

Win a signed paperback

I’m giving away three signed paperbacks copies of Wildfire. Send a screen capture to contact@writtenword.ca showing your order to enter your name in a draw for one of them.

And email this blog or the links to your friends who love good mysteries so they can enter the draw, too.

What’s Wildfire about?

The sun sets through the smoke from wildfires in Sonoma County, California, October 9, 2017. Photo by the author.

Wildfires swept across California wine country in 2017, destroying thousands of homes and businesses, and killing dozens of people. Law school grad and single mother Tara Rezeck finds herself in the middle of the catastrophe. When she returns to her job at the most award-winning vineyard in Sonoma County, she finds her employer’s body in the ashes.

The question that challenges her brains and her legal training is: was it an accident? Or was his body burned to hide evidence of murder?

Join the launch party on Facebook March 22 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. ET.

In the meantime, you can read the first two chapters for free on Wattpad.

Get a taste of a California wine country mystery



Do you love California wine? Great food? Mysteries?

Indulge your tastes on Wattpad.

You can now read Chapter 1: An Open Door, on Wattpad.

Tara’s shoulder slammed into the passenger door as the big old pickup flew around a bend. She wanted to tell Roberto to slow down and speed up at the same time, so she clenched her jaws to prevent herself from biting her tongue as the truck bounced on the rough dirt road.

The air in the truck was thick with heat and smoke. Tara tasted ash in her throat. To the west on the left, Tara could see blue sky through the windshield above the scrub-covered, brown slopes. But on her side, east, grey clouds that faded to black at the horizon blocked the sky. A slope fell away beyond the road’s narrow shoulder, smoke obscuring the vineyards she knew grew there. Opening a window would only let in the smoke, and it was already hard to breathe.

Tara clutched the door handle as the truck fishtailed. She heard the crunch of tires on the narrow gravel shoulder. Roberto wrestled the wheel, bringing the truck back on course.

You’ll have to join this free story-sharing platform, but once you do, you’ll get to read a huge number of stories, poems and books from the widest imaginable range of authors.

Start with Wildfire, the first book in a projected new mystery series about a smart, independent single mother who becomes a legal investigator in California wine country. Then branch out and explore everything that Wattpad has to offer: mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, romance—there’s even something called “Creepypasta.”

Enjoy!