A Review of ‘Cult Child’ By Vennie Kocsis

Cult_Child_CoverA Review of ‘Cult Child’ by Vennie Kocsis

By M. Dolon Hickmon

[The following is excerpted from my longer review of Cult Child by Vennie Kocsis at Patheos.]

Cult Child is a novelization of the experiences of a real-life survivor, whose physical, sexual and spiritual child abuse were abetted by her mother’s deepening involvement with a highly controlling fundamentalist Christian group called The Move. Written in a restrained but engaging style, which I found vaguely reminiscent of Kazuo Ishiguro’s brilliantly understated bestseller, Never Let Me Go, the book opens with a prologue that states: “The events you are about to read are all true. Only names have been changed”.

The heroin is Sila Caprin, who progresses from age three to age thirteen over the course of the novel. These years are spent in the ‘safety’ —and prison-like conformity — of two of the Move‘s remote, communal farms. Upon arriving at the first of these, Sila and her family are stripped of their property, with their valuables being redistributed among other members of the commune, while sentimental items —like family photographs — are burned. From there, the family members are further isolated by assigning each to different sleeping and eating quarters.

Sila’s maltreatment then becomes constant. Some abuses, like disciplinary beatings, grueling farm work, and near-starvation rations, are directly commanded by church doctrine. Other crimes, such as Sila’s almost continuous sexual molestation, come as the predictable result of separating children from their own protective biological siblings and parents.

In the end, Sila’s fortress is no bigger than the space between her ears; but through quiet internal resistance, she manages to halt her opponents and outlasts their ten year siege.

For more information or to purchase, visit http://venniekocsis.com

Breaking The Generational Cycle of Child Abuse

by M Dolon Hickmon

“How do you approach parenting in order to not replicate the abusive patterns of your past?”

This question was most recently posed to me by philosopher and Patheos blogger Dan Fincke, but as a father, who is also a survivor of- and an outspoken campaigner against religiously motivated child maltreatment, it’s a question that I am often asked. Or, rather, it’s the question that polite people should ask. Unfortunately, the sentiment is more often presented, not as an inquiry, but as a seemingly sympathetic statement: “You must feel very strongly about protecting your daughter from the horrors of your childhood.” 

The constraints of time usually prevent me from properly answering. 

I don’t want my daughter or any human being to suffer maltreatment. But the unspoken assumption that underlies such questions and statements is that survivors’ pasts exert an invisible pull that they must continually struggle against, lest they fall into the trap of behaving like their abusers. 

As a father, I have never struggled – not even a little bit – with that. 

Indoctrinate my daughter with the scary, demeaning religion of my childhood? Wouldn’t even consider it. Whip my preschooler until she pleads to heaven for mercy? Don’t even want to think about it. Allow my daughter to witness her parents verbally and physically abusing one another? Never going to happen. 

And that is why this essay is not about how I fight the undertow of my past, but rather about why I don’t have to…

Read the rest of this article by M Dolon Hickmon, Author of 13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession at Camels with Hammers.

My Father Repented of “Christian Spanking” Too Late

My Father Repented of “Christian Spanking” Too Late

My father’s old-fashioned discipline was rooted in the advice and example of his community, his parents, and his church.

For me, the photos of the injuries Adrian Peterson inflicted on his young son stirred a particularly difficult memory: In it, I stand at the foot of my parent’s bed, frail and blond. Behind me, my father utters yet another masculine grunt of exertion. The belt licks my bare skin, and the pain is alarmingly severe — something of a surprise for a preschooler who’d grown accustomed to losing count after forty lashes. The edge of the belt rips a gash, and a slick of wetness forms on my back. I plead: “Daddy, stop! I’m bleeding!”  He goes on chopping, not missing a beat. With each lash, I grow more certain that this is the time that he will go on long enough to kill me.

Thirty-four years later, that memory remains as vivid as if it had happened this morning. The images loop through my mind; I shake and pant like a wounded beast, my ears ringing and my heart racing.

My parents were not stereotypical child abusers. Sure, both were reared in what many would now consider abusive homes, and when they met they were both alcoholics. But the horrific beatings didn’t begin until my parents joined the Baptist church and gave up drinking.

Prior to becoming born-again, my father would whip my brother and me much the way his father had beaten him: snatching his belt from his slacks in a fit of pique and then raining lashes until his tension was relieved. It was a pastor who taught him the “right” way, which involved beating his children for the tiniest transgressions, reading scripture before, during, and after punishment, and the necessity of continuing and escalating until his children were reduced to submissive, plaintively whimpering heaps.

My parents divorced and my father left the state when I was fifteen.

As an adult, I didn’t speak to my abuser for more than ten years. I spent my late teens and early twenties in intensive group and individual psychotherapy. By my mid-twenties, I’d hit my stride; it seemed that I’d finally found a way to work around the emotional and psychological scars of abuse. But a chance encounter with a secondary trauma caused the flashbacks and nightmares to return — this time, so severely that I couldn’t function personally or professionally. Clawing my way back to normal would cost me six more years.

Before reaching that point, I despaired. In the grip of a terrifying madness, my thoughts turned from contemplating suicide to plotting to murder my dad. Sometimes, I pictured it quick and bloody; I’d pulverize his skull, splashing brains and bits of bone on the ceiling.  Other times, I’d imagine revenge served with frosty deliberation: I’d keep him chained up somewhere, so I could return each moment of pain and humiliation that he’d burned into me.

I tracked him down by calling companies that sold supplies related to his trade. When I’d located him, I drove for hours to sit in my car, observing his habits. He worked for himself, out of an isolated woodshop in the back corner of a mostly unoccupied industrial park. He was by himself all day, every day. There were power tools. It would be perfect.

When I entered his shop, my father was hunched over a sawhorse….

Read the rest of this article by M Dolon Hickmon, Author of 13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession at OnFaith.

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Blood, Bibles and Videotapes

Blood, Bibles and Videotapes

Exposing an ancient system of psychological coercion

By M. Dolon Hickmon

My parents were converted to the Baptist brand of fire-and-brimstone Christianity in the late 1970s. Consequently, my own religious indoctrination took place roughly in time with the rise and peak of the 1980s slasher-film frenzy. Having been younger than age ten during that time, I was sensibly prevented from watching movies like Mario Bava’s Twitch of the Death Nerve and its American derivatives Halloween, Friday the 13th and Sleep-Away Camp.

But unlike towering roller coasters, which my older brother was permitted to ride, slasher films were not merely too scary for a young boy; they were (according to our pastor’s sermons) inhabited by demons, which would possess the souls of any who dared the slightest contact.

Our pastor’s fiery-eyed warnings caused me to become terrified of the back corner of our local VHS video rental store. This fear was so extreme that my skin crawled and my shorthairs stood on end each time I walked the stretch of sidewalk at the side of their building.

Through dusty plate glass, I could see the yellowing corner of a melamine shelf, tucked between a unisex bathroom and a bead-curtained closet (stocked with pornos). From afar, the red splashed horror-film covers threatened me. I imagined demons emanating from the videotapes like toxic radiation, climbing over each other, teeth snapping and claws clicking as their wizened fingers pried at my mind. I rebuked them in Jesus’ name, but I didn’t stand around while I did it: I bound those evil spirits as I sprinted past.

Other objects were similarly infected: Demons lurked in UPC codes on boxes of Fruity Pebbles and bottles of Pepsi Cola; backward-masked messages supernaturally appeared in the lyrics of heavy-metal bands, driving teens to strangle puppies and chop-up their parents. I was taught to believe that dark spiritual forces were bent on controlling me: through He-Man toys, Dungeons and Dragons cartoons, and via the jukebox at the local laundromat….

Read the rest of Blood, Bibles and Videotapes by M. Dolon Hickmon at The Freethinker.

Campaigning for Children’s Rights: PW Talks with M. Dolon Hickmon

Publishers WeeklyCampaigning for Children’s Rights: PW Talks with M. Dolon Hickmon

By Oren Smilansky

In M. Dolon Hickmon’s debut murder mystery, 13:24: A Story of Faith and Obsession, detective William Hursel investigates the case of an emotionally scarred teenager who killed his mother and her boyfriend. Our reviewer complimented Hickmon’s ability to “[stare] into the distressing abyss of child exploitation with daring honesty” while “eschewing easy answers for moral complexity.” We caught up with Hickmon to discuss self-publishing and raising awareness about the prevalence of child abuse….

- Read the entire interview with M Dolon Hickmon, Author of 13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession

 

Central Florida Author, Activist to be Featured in Publishers Weekly Q&A

Central Florida Author, Activist to be Featured in Publishers Weekly Q&A

Unusual bestseller offers thrills and insights to fans of the detective novel.

[T]his thriller is unsettling entertainment that offers catharsis.

— Publishers Weekly

Five years ago, child abuse survivor, writer and activist M Dolon Hickmon envisioned 13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession (Rehoboam Press, 2014), a pop culture thriller that would also serve as a unique child abuse education campaign. Drawn from his own experiences of childhood trauma, combined with cutting-edge research and true crime headlines, Hickmon’s pioneering murder mystery became a genre bestseller in May of 2014, having broken into Amazon’s Top 100 paid e-book titles in the “Child Abuse” category. The following month, Publishers Weekly honored the unusual hit with their coveted starred review: “Merging biblical tales, psychology, and social criticism, Hickmon stares into the distressing abyss of child exploitation with daring honesty,” their review states in part; adding: “[T]his thriller is unsettling entertainment that offers catharsis.”

Now, Rehoboam Press has reported that Publishers Weekly will bring further attention to Hickmon’s project with an author interview during the month of August 2014.

Hickmon, who lives between Ocala and Orlando, Florida, says he is grateful for the opportunity: “My goal was to bring a new depth of understanding about trauma and recovery to crime fiction and psychological thriller fans. With the help of Publishers Weekly and others, we are reaching thousands of new readers.”

13:24 has previously received positive assessments in publishing trade journals Kirkus Reviews and Mid-West Book Review; and from online sources, including Fresh Fiction, Mean Streets Crime Fiction Review, and from Amazon Top 100 Hall-of-Famer Grady Harp. In addition, trauma researcher and Bristol University emeritus professor Dr. Kim Etherington has said that Hickmon’s characterizations hit the mark: “There are textbooks that explain the scientific mechanisms that underpin post-traumatic stress disorder, but this book tells a story that reaches out to help us all understand.”

Hickmon is thrilled with his project’s success, but says he is still looking for new allies. “Online sales are better than anyone dared to expect, but many readers have yet to see it on their local booksellers shelf.” To remedy this, Rehoboam Press is offering aggressive terms, including eye-catching point-of-sale materials and a full credit return policy. For details or to schedule an author appearance, contact faithandobsession@1324book.com.

13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine retailers.

View the full article about M Dolon Hickmon, author of 13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession

Publishers Weekly: Provocative thriller is “a shocking blitzkrieg of murder, conspiracy, and child abuse”

Publishers WeeklyPUBLISHERS WEEKLY: PROVOCATIVE THRILLER IS “A BLITZKRIEG OF MURDER, CONSPIRACY, AND CHILD ABUSE”

13:24 - A Story of Faith and Obsession by M. Dolon Hickmon

NEW YORK, NY, USA, June 30, 2014 /EINPresswire.com/ – M. Dolon Hickmon’s debut novel, 13:24—A Story of Faith and Obsession, has captured the attention of the US publishing industry again—this time with a coveted starred review in Publishers Weekly’s monthly supplement, PW Select. Other authors who received the red star this year include famed film director John Waters (Hairspray, Cry Babies) for his travelogue Carsick, and Edgar-winning crime novelist David Housewright (Penance, Tin City) for his eleventh release, The Devil May Care.

Hickmon stares into the distressing abyss of child exploitation with daring honesty.

— Publishers Weekly

Hickmon is “extremely honored” to have earned the accolade, he said, which came with a praise-laden assessment in Publishers Weekly’s respected national review: “Merging biblical tales, psychology, and social criticism, Hickmon stares into the distressing abyss of child exploitation with daring honesty,” the review states in part; adding: “[T]his thriller is unsettling entertainment that offers catharsis.”

Publishers Weekly’s nod is the latest in a lengthening series of glowing reviews of 13:24, including a wholly positive assessment in the March 2014 print edition of publishing trade journal Kirkus Reviews and favorable critiques from online reviewers, including Amazon Top 100 Hall-of-Famer Grady Harp.

“My goal was to take readers on an exciting adventure, while delivering real-life insights into the causes and consequences of child maltreatment,” said Hickmon, who experienced religiously motivated child abuse himself. “You could be asked to serve on the jury for a physical abuse case, or be given the opportunity to vote on a child abuse law. My hope is that before making those decisions, people will examine the hardships that are faced by both child victims and adult survivors.”

Experts have also said that Hickmon’s novel hits the mark: “In places, it felt like Josh was explaining my childhood, with better words than I would have come up with,” wrote one young man, who recently broke with what he described as an abusive family. Elsewhere, trauma researcher and Bristol University emeritus professor Dr. Kim Etherington offered: “There are textbooks that explain the scientific mechanisms that underpin post-traumatic stress disorder, but this book tells a story that reaches out to help us all understand.”

13:24’s gritty blend of reality and Hollywood-style entertainment seems to have struck a popular chord: on May 15, 2014, the pioneering thriller became a genre bestseller, having broken into Amazon’s Top 100 paid e-book titles in the ‘Child Abuse’ category.

Hickmon is pleased with his project’s success, but not satisfied, he says: “There are plenty of people left to reach. I am still searching for allies.”

- Read the entire review of 13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession by M. Dolon Hickmon

Questions and Answers with M Dolon Hickmon author of 13:24: A Story of Faith and Obsession

angel-with-the-instruments-of-whipping-1660.jpg!BlogQuestions and Answers with M Dolon Hickmon author of 13:24: A Story of Faith and Obsession

Cross-posted from PEI Curmudgeon’s Blog

Yesterday I reviewed the novel 13:24: A Story of Faith and Obsession and shortly after my article was posted I was contacted by the author Dolon Hickmon. He agreed to answer a few questions about symbolism and other aspects in his book.

Dolon is a survivor of religiously motivated abuse in the name of discipline and this is why the descriptions of abuse and PTSD ring so true in the novel. He has escaped from Christianity and currently lives in Florida with his wife and 2½ year old daughter.

At this time of this writing, 13:24 is ranked at #47 of the best sellers in the category “Child Abuse”.  

JU: In my review, I brought up some of the Biblical and mythological references I spotted, would you like to elaborate on any, or are there others I missed  that are important to understanding the book or the characters?

MDH: I really enjoyed reading your review. As you noted, many of the story elements function both literally and symbolically.

On the most obvious level, it’s the story of a rock singer, a teenaged murderer and a smarmy televangelist. Beneath that, the plotline loosely follows the tale of King Solomon and his rebellious son, Rehoboam. In 13:24, the so-called Christian parenting expert and televangelist, Allen, represents the Biblical figure of King Solomon, who while described as ‘wise’ and recognized as a sort of spiritual celebrity, was also famously cruel, legal minded, sexually perverse, spiritually wayward, and known for abusing his subordinates and his legal authority. Solomon’s rebellious son is portrayed in the novel by Josh, who is the lead singer of a demonic heavy metal band, named for the Biblical figure he represents.

On the other central storyline, I like to think of the vengeful teenaged serial murderer, Chris, as following a mythical trajectory that is reminiscent of David and Goliath—except that in my mind, Chris is not David, he is the pebble: guided by fate but also spent in the process. Lesser symbols are littered through-out: you mentioned the kiln that the kidnappers used as a holding cell, which obviously represents the Old Testament sacrificial oven; however, the unfinished statues inside of the kiln are also symbolic—they are figures of the South American aboriginal god Tlaloc, who demanded child sacrifice. The name of the factory, Allcot Industries, is an anagram of Tlaloc.

Similarly, the isolated desert hotel where the pornographers conduct their trade is named ‘The Saturn’; this is rationalized by the location’s clear night sky and the presence of a space-themed mural on the side of the building, but Saturn is also the name of the Roman god, who devours his children. As another reviewer said, “Nothing in this book is coincidental.”

JU: I thought the child pornography connection took away from the impact of the extreme, religiously motivated discipline/abuse. Why did you feel it was important to include the issue of sexually motivated spanking on top of what is usually associated with certain groups of Fundamentalist Christians?

MDH: First, let me say that the premise of criminals trading videos of children being whipped was not one of my inventions; that entire plot was lifted from a news story that I read while in the early stages of formulating the novel, and I have found a considerable number of similar real-life cases since.

The immediate appeal was that it gave a sound framework to tell a series of stories involving different family prototypes and different kinds of victims; but it also fulfilled my need to have some extremely unsavory bad guys for Chris to take his revenge on. In the sense that nobody yet has said they felt sorry for Chris’s victims, this was probably one of the book’s most universally successful elements. But I still would not have taken that direction if I didn’t think that it added something to the book on a philosophical level.

Something that influenced me long before I started writing 13:24 was George Bernard Shaw’s 1914 Treatise on Children and Parents. In a section called The Whip, he wrote about the practice of whipping children for disobedience: ‘Wholesome people would not argue about the taste of such nastinesses: they would spit them out; but we are tainted with flagellomania from our childhood […] Other methods and other punishments were always available: the choice of this one betrayed the sensual impulse which makes the practice an abomination.’

To me this was an eye-opening accusation, because the ‘sensual impulse’ that Shaw dared to put in words involves much more than the sexual kinks of sadism and masochism; it covers all of the unspeakable emotional needs that can be gratified by humiliating and dominating a helpless human being.

I have never thought that my abuser was sexually gratified by beating kids, but when I look back it seems obvious that he was enslaved by a need to feel irresistibly powerful and in control. He had to dominate us completely. And even though his abuse was destroying his children, ruining his marriage, threatening his finances and his standing in the community, he could not subdue his craving to indulge. I saw him repeatedly try and fail to swear off using the strap. And there was no help for his addiction in the church, because there was no recognition that there was any intrinsic reward to be had from whaling on one’s kids.

JU: Josh and Chris suffer similar abuse, but Josh’s father couches his behaviour in the language of the church. Do you think that the abuser’s motive matters to the victim?

MDH: Even the mildest physical punishment can be damaging if it is accompanied by a tone of anger and rejection, or by insults or other derogatory conduct. However, when it comes to physical abuse—which degrades, inflicts terror or causes physical injury—the abuser’s motives and explanations probably have very little mitigating effect.

Ultimately, the question that pastors need to ask is not whether an adult of average intelligence and maturity can understand their instructions on how to whip a kid without abusing him, but whether an average five- to nine year old could figure out what it means to be physically abused from what he has overheard at church. Sadly, what victims of religiously motivated physical abuse have consistently said is that because of their church’s teachings, they believed that the abuse they were enduring was normal discipline.

Thanks very much Dolon. I’m really looking forward to reading your next book.

Public School Teachers, Spare the Rod or Spoil Your Opportunities

Hickmon_Spare_the_rodPublic School Teachers: Spare the Rod or Spoil Your Opportunities

Spankers face low pay, few jobs, and hurdles to advancement.
By M Dolon Hickmon

May 27, 2014 – Florida’s public school system is currently the fourth largest in the USA; and with population projected to increase by nearly two-million people by the year 2020, opportunities for educators are sure to abound. But before accepting a position in one of Florida’s fast-growing rural counties, career minded educators may want to inquire about the district’s corporal punishment policy.

Florida is one of 19 US states that still allow students to be paddled by school employees, according to figures published by the Center for Effective Discipline. But while school paddling is permitted by state law with very few restrictions, among professional educators support for the practice has seen a steep and continuing decades-long decline.

George Tomyn is the Superintendent of Marion County Public Schools, a mid-sized district whose demographics have shifted with its growing population. Driven by the fickle whims of local election politics, Tomyn has seen his school board flip-flop from banning paddling, to allowing it and then back again over the course of just a couple of years. “I was supportive of the code not permitting corporal punishment,” Tomyn told Education Today back in 2013. “My personal preference was to not paddle here in Marion County.”

An analysis of all 67 Florida school district policies found that prohibitions against school paddling are the norm on Florida’s public school campuses. Currently, paddling is permitted in around half of Florida counties; but while districts that do spank occupy ample space on the map, they tend to be located in sparsely populated areas, with fewer schools and mostly lower paying teaching jobs.

Data reveal that on 85% of Florida public school campuses, educators who say they can’t manage students without paddling need not apply. Factor in counties that allow spanking but never actually use it, and the percentage of Florida schools that would not employ a committed spanker climbs to 90%. In addition to facing a job shortage, educators who rely on the paddle are likely to earn significantly less: Districts that paddle supply all of Florida’s worst paying high school principal positions, and 82% of paddling districts pay below the $92,000 average salary of a non-paddling high school administrator. The yearly shortfall for paddlers is around $10,000 on average, but 58% of paddling high-school principals earn even less. In comparison, half of non-paddling districts paid their high school principals above $92,000 per year. And, because these figures take into account cost of living differences between affluent suburbs, which mostly don’t spank, and small rural counties, which typically do, the pay gap in absolute dollars is even greater.

Of equal concern for education professionals: national research has shown that school systems that paddled their students performed the worst and improved the least on a key standardized test–of new significance in an era when student test scores are increasingly linked to educators’ performance evaluations.

Finally, as evolving public sentiment converges with evidence in favor of non-physical discipline measures, it is worth wondering whether participation in school paddling might someday be viewed as a black mark on a job candidate’s application. Kevin Christian, an official with Marian County Public Schools, said: “To my knowledge, questions about paddling have never been asked as part of this district’s hiring process; however, knowing how to paddle students is not a skill that our district is looking for in a school administrator.”

Excel Spreadsheet of Source Numbers

[Districts marked in pink allow paddling but had no reported paddling incidents in the most recently reported period. District policies were determined based on board policy, code of conduct, and where necessary other information including news reports and FOIA requests to district personnel. Relevant policy number is cited when one was available. CoC stands for Code of Conduct. Some districts ban corporal punishment by removing all references to it from student handbooks and board policy manuals; these are listed as ‘by omission’. Average pay is for a high school principal in 2011 including adjustments for living costs between districts; figures courtesy of http://www.ledgerdata.com/education-staff-salary/. District school counts from http://florida.educationbug.org/public-schools/ Adult education campuses were not counted. Paddling incidents as reported by http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/maps/corporal-punishment-in-florida-schools/]

Full article by M Dolon Hickmon, author of 13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession

Crowdfunded Thriller is Amazon Child Abuse Bestseller

Screenshot 2014-05-22 11.10.44Crowdfunded Thriller Is Amazon Child Abuse Bestseller
Survivors, critics praise M. Dolon Hickmon’s riveting and accessible approach to the issues of child abuse and recovery.

Leesburg, FL, May 19, 2014 – Hailed as “a smart, well-written thriller” that “reads like a Hollywood blockbuster”, M. Dolon Hickmon’s debut novel, 13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession, has racked up an impressive number of five star reviews. But the page-turning narrative also examines a serious theme: “There are textbooks that explain the scientific mechanisms that underpin post-traumatic stress disorder,” wrote Dr. Kim Etherington, a trauma researcher and Bristol University emeritus professor, “but this book tells a story that reaches out to help us all understand.”

Hickmon says, “I realized that few publishers would want to leave the core material about surviving and recovering from child abuse intact.” So rather than sign with a literary agent, the author took his ambitious project to the public.

“Backers received e-books, autographed first editions, and even mentions in the book’s acknowledgments,” Hickmon said.

The crowdfunding campaign attracted influential supporters: “I was invited to write a guest post on the spiritual abuse survivors’ blog No Longer Quivering. That post was quoted in an article that became a front page feature on Salon,” Hickmon said. Talk show producers reached out, and interviews aired in Seattle, New York, DC, and Miami.

On October 2, 2013, the campaign closed, having significantly exceeded the author’s goal.

Hickmon commissioned a photo-illustrated cover from Kirk DouPonce, of DogEared Design. “Some of the authors I’ve gotten to design covers for include John MacArthur, Karen Kingsbury, Ted Dekker, Tosca Lee, and Frank Peretti,” DouPonce shared.

Through the Editor’s Freelance Association, Hickmon retained the services of Miranda Ottewell, a HarperCollins veteran whose editing credits include recent bestsellers like Daniel Silva’s The English Girl, Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things, and Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior.

Hickmon’s team effort paid off: Writing for the Mid-West Book Review, e-book reviewer Diane Donovan offered unabashed praise: “For some readers, this account of obsession, abuse, and redemption could strike too close to home; but those who want a hard-hitting, emotionally charged crime story should place this near the top of their reading list.” A similarly positive assessment came in the March 1, 2014 edition of notoriously harsh Kirkus Reviews print magazine.

Hickmon says, “I worked with a professional publicist at Ascot Media. In addition to invitations for major market radio interviews, their efforts netted online exposure that moved 13:24 beyond the child abuse genre’s typical audience.”

More humbling were the private letters and public praise that the author received from other child abuse survivors: “In places, it felt like Josh was explaining my childhood, with better words than I would have come up with,” wrote one survivor, who maintains a blog called Ramblings of Sheldon. And on the website of Homeschoolers Anonymous, community coordinator R.L. Stollar wrote, “I could not console myself by saying, ‘This is fiction.’ It isn’t, as anyone who has experienced child abuse will recognize.”

On May 15, 2014—Hickmon’s innovative thriller became a genre bestseller, having broken into Amazon’s Top 100 paid e-book titles in the ‘Child Abuse’ category.

Hickmon is thrilled with this accomplishment, but his goal is to take 13:24’s message to an even bigger audience. “Because of my own history of childhood maltreatment, I can’t help thinking about the kids who are still living in abusive environments. That gives me the energy to keep pushing on.”

Asked about negative responses, the author said, “One reviewer described my novel as ‘probably the most disturbing book” she’d ever read–and she didn’t mean it as a compliment. But she also said that she finished it because she wanted to know the end of the story. To me, that signifies success more than a boatload of five-star reviews

“I want everyone to have a realistic concept of the victim’s perspective when they are asked to serve on the jury for a physical abuse case, or are given the chance to vote on a child abuse law. I tried to handle the issues as sensitively as possible while still being honest; but readers have to want to understand the problem more than they want to avoid being made uncomfortable.”

13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers.

Crowdfunded Thriller is Amazon Child Abuse Bestseller

Survivors, critics praise M. Dolon Hickmon’s riveting and accessible approach to the issues of child abuse and recovery.

LEESBURG, May 19, 2014 /EINPresswire.com/ — Hailed as “a smart, well-written thriller” that “reads like a Hollywood blockbuster”, M. Dolon Hickmon’s debut novel, 13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession, has racked up an impressive number of five star reviews. But the page-turning narrative also examines a serious theme: “There are textbooks that explain the scientific mechanisms that underpin post-traumatic stress disorder,” wrote Dr. Kim Etherington, a trauma researcher and Bristol University emeritus professor, “but this book tells a story that reaches out to help us all understand.”

Hickmon says, “I was fairly certain that a publisher would ask me to soften the core material about surviving and recovering from childhood trauma.” So rather than sign with a literary agent, the author took his project to the public.

“Backers received e-books, autographed first editions, and even mentions in the book’s acknowledgments,” Hickmon said.

The crowdfunding campaign also attracted influential supporters: “I was invited to write a guest post for the spiritual abuse survivors’ blog No Longer Quivering. That post was quoted in an article that became a front page feature on Salon,” Hickmon said. Talk show producers reached out, and interviews soon aired in Seattle, New York, Washington DC, and Miami.

On October 2, 2013, the crowdfunding campaign closed, having exceeded the author’s goal.

Hickmon commissioned a photo-illustrated cover from Kirk DouPonce, of DogEared Design. “Some of the authors I’ve gotten to design covers for include John MacArthur, Karen Kingsbury, Ted Dekker, Tosca Lee, and Frank Peretti,” DouPonce shared via email.

Through the Editor’s Freelance Association, Hickmon retained the services of Miranda Ottewell, a HarperCollins veteran whose editing credits include recent bestsellers like Daniel Silva’s The English Girl, Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things, and Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior.

The team’s efforts paid off: Writing for the Mid-West Book Review, e-book reviewer Diane Donovan offered unabashed praise: “For some readers, this account of obsession, abuse, and redemption could strike too close to home; but those who want a hard-hitting, emotionally charged crime story should place this near the top of their reading list.” A similarly positive assessment came in the March 1, 2014 edition of notoriously harsh Kirkus Reviews print magazine.

Hickmon says, “I worked with a professional publicist at Ascot Media. In addition to invitations for major market radio interviews, their efforts netted online exposure that moved 13:24 beyond the typical child abuse audience.”

More humbling were the private letters and public praise that the author received from other child abuse survivors: “In places, it felt like Josh was explaining my childhood, with better words than I would have come up with,” wrote one survivor, who maintains a blog called Ramblings of Sheldon. And on the website of Homeschoolers Anonymous, community coordinator R.L. Stollar wrote, “I could not console myself by saying, ‘This is fiction.’ It isn’t, as anyone who has experienced child abuse will recognize.”

On May 15, 2014, Hickmon’s innovative thriller became a genre bestseller, having broken into Amazon’s Top 100 paid e-book titles in the ‘Child Abuse’ category.

Hickmon is thrilled with his accomplishment, but wants to take 13:24’s message to an even bigger audience. “Because of my own history of childhood maltreatment, I can’t help thinking about those who are still living in abusive environments. That gives me the energy to keep pushing on.”

Asked about negative responses, the author said, “One reviewer described my novel as ‘probably the most disturbing book’ she’d ever read—and she didn’t mean it as a compliment. But she also said that she finished it because she wanted to know the end of the story. To me, that signifies success more than a boatload of five star reviews

“I want everyone to have a realistic concept of the victim’s perspective–both as a child and as an adult–when they are asked to serve on the jury for a physical abuse case, or are given the chance to vote on a child abuse law. I tried to handle the issues as sensitively as possible while also being honest; but readers have to want to understand the problem more than they want to avoid being uncomfortable.”

13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other retailers worldwide.

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/market-overview/#BsvR4w0emYyCbKH9.99

Crowdfunded Thriller is Amazon Child Abuse Bestseller

Survivors, critics praise M. Dolon Hickmon’s riveting and accessible approach to the issues of child abuse and recovery.

LEESBURG, May 19, 2014 /EINPresswire.com/ — Hailed as “a smart, well-written thriller” that “reads like a Hollywood blockbuster”, M. Dolon Hickmon’s debut novel, 13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession, has racked up an impressive number of five star reviews. But the page-turning narrative also examines a serious theme: “There are textbooks that explain the scientific mechanisms that underpin post-traumatic stress disorder,” wrote Dr. Kim Etherington, a trauma researcher and Bristol University emeritus professor, “but this book tells a story that reaches out to help us all understand.”

Hickmon says, “I was fairly certain that a publisher would ask me to soften the core material about surviving and recovering from childhood trauma.” So rather than sign with a literary agent, the author took his project to the public.

“Backers received e-books, autographed first editions, and even mentions in the book’s acknowledgments,” Hickmon said.

The crowdfunding campaign also attracted influential supporters: “I was invited to write a guest post for the spiritual abuse survivors’ blog No Longer Quivering. That post was quoted in an article that became a front page feature on Salon,” Hickmon said. Talk show producers reached out, and interviews soon aired in Seattle, New York, Washington DC, and Miami.

On October 2, 2013, the crowdfunding campaign closed, having exceeded the author’s goal.

Hickmon commissioned a photo-illustrated cover from Kirk DouPonce, of DogEared Design. “Some of the authors I’ve gotten to design covers for include John MacArthur, Karen Kingsbury, Ted Dekker, Tosca Lee, and Frank Peretti,” DouPonce shared via email.

Through the Editor’s Freelance Association, Hickmon retained the services of Miranda Ottewell, a HarperCollins veteran whose editing credits include recent bestsellers like Daniel Silva’s The English Girl, Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things, and Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior.

The team’s efforts paid off: Writing for the Mid-West Book Review, e-book reviewer Diane Donovan offered unabashed praise: “For some readers, this account of obsession, abuse, and redemption could strike too close to home; but those who want a hard-hitting, emotionally charged crime story should place this near the top of their reading list.” A similarly positive assessment came in the March 1, 2014 edition of notoriously harsh Kirkus Reviews print magazine.

Hickmon says, “I worked with a professional publicist at Ascot Media. In addition to invitations for major market radio interviews, their efforts netted online exposure that moved 13:24 beyond the typical child abuse audience.”

More humbling were the private letters and public praise that the author received from other child abuse survivors: “In places, it felt like Josh was explaining my childhood, with better words than I would have come up with,” wrote one survivor, who maintains a blog called Ramblings of Sheldon. And on the website of Homeschoolers Anonymous, community coordinator R.L. Stollar wrote, “I could not console myself by saying, ‘This is fiction.’ It isn’t, as anyone who has experienced child abuse will recognize.”

On May 15, 2014, Hickmon’s innovative thriller became a genre bestseller, having broken into Amazon’s Top 100 paid e-book titles in the ‘Child Abuse’ category.

Hickmon is thrilled with his accomplishment, but wants to take 13:24’s message to an even bigger audience. “Because of my own history of childhood maltreatment, I can’t help thinking about those who are still living in abusive environments. That gives me the energy to keep pushing on.”

Asked about negative responses, the author said, “One reviewer described my novel as ‘probably the most disturbing book’ she’d ever read—and she didn’t mean it as a compliment. But she also said that she finished it because she wanted to know the end of the story. To me, that signifies success more than a boatload of five star reviews

“I want everyone to have a realistic concept of the victim’s perspective–both as a child and as an adult–when they are asked to serve on the jury for a physical abuse case, or are given the chance to vote on a child abuse law. I tried to handle the issues as sensitively as possible while also being honest; but readers have to want to understand the problem more than they want to avoid being uncomfortable.”

13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other retailers worldwide.

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/market-overview/#BsvR4w0emYyCbKH9.99