Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Antioch author publishes sixth book, third of second WWII trilogy

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014
Sarah Sundin Antioch author publishes sixth book, third of second WWII trilogy

Sarah Sundin

By Allen Payton

Antioch author Sarah Sundin was inspired to write due to a dream she had in 2000. Although educated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and doctorate in Pharmacy, and has worked as a pharmacist – and still does, one day a week – like her husband David, she went ahead and pursued the dream.

It was weird. I started scribbling on a piece of paper,” Sarah said. “It took me about a week to build up the nerve to tell him.”

However, hat book was never published.

Nor should it be” she stated. “But, it motivated me to attend conferences.”

One of those, for Christian writers like Sarah, is held at Mt. Hermon Conference Center, near Santa Cruz. That’s where she got to know editors and literary agents, one-on-one. She also participated in writers groups. Sarah now has about seven authors who run things by each other.

I didn’t think I needed editing. I got A’s in English,” Sarah laughed.

Then she wrote a second novel. But, that wasn’t published, either.

She shared that the average author writes three novels before being published.

Sarah started submitting her novels to publishers in 2003 and after five years of rejection letters, she received her first contract in 2008 from Revell, a Christian book publisher.

Her first two books, part of a trilogy known as the Wings of Glory series, were published in 2010. The third book followed a year later.

That trilogy follows three brothers from Antioch, who were all B-17 bomber pilots during World War II, which is the setting of all of her published books, so far. On the cover of the third book, entitled “Blue Skies Tomorrow” is a drawing of the El Campanil Theatre. On the theater’s marquee is the movie Cover Girl, for which Antioch native Carmen Dragon wrote the musical score and won an Oscar. The book also covers the Port Chicago explosion of 1944.Sundin In Perfect Time 662x1024 Antioch author publishes sixth book, third of second WWII trilogy

Sundin’s books are filled with romance, action and faith, with the focus on both the men and women in the plot lines, and based on serious research and historical information.

Her second series, known as the Wings of the Nightingale series, follows three flight nurses. The third book in that series, “In Perfect Time” was just released, this month.

Sarah’s next series, Waves of Freedom, follows the lives of three American Naval officers based in Boston, who fought in the Atlantic theater. She just returned from a trip to Boston with one of her sons, where she was doing research for that series, including doing things like taking photos of a five-inch gun mount on the U.S.S. Massachusetts.

I actually hated history in school,” Sarah said. “I thought it was boring. But, with age comes appreciation. Now I watch a lot of history on television and think how fascinating it is.”

In fact, her first series was inspired by watching a documentary on The History Channel, and after remembering her Uncle Rod who flew a B-17 bomber with the 8th Air Force.

The first book of her third series is scheduled to be in bookstores, and of course, Amazon.com, next summer. It takes about a year from contract to when the final copy, following three rounds of edits, is due, then another full year from final copy to when a book hits bookstore shelves.

Both of her sons read and like her books. But, her 18-year old daughter thinks it’s kind of weird her mom’s writing romantic stories.

It’s really hard to stop in the middle of writing to make dinner,” Sarah said. “But they’re troopers and have been amazing putting up with this.”

Although the characters in her book aren’t based any of her family members, or anyone else she knows, the hero in “On Distant Shores,” is a pharmacist.

My spiritual gift is teaching,” Sarah said. “So, when I write, 11 of my 12 heroes and heroines were Christians, who needed to grow in their spiritual walk. They’re usually lessons I’ve learned in life.”

The Lord has used the writing process to teach her, and has had an impact on her readers, as well.

She receives emails and letters from readers.

One widow who lost her husband in Iraq wrote Sarah and said that “Blue Skies Tomorrow” helped her deal with her grief.

I’m humbled to see that God will take [something she wrote] and use it in someone else’s life,” she stated. “I’m thrilled and blessed and humbled.”

Her books are available at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com. Learn more about Sarah and her books at www.sarahsundin.com and follow her on Facebook at SarahSundinAuthor and on Twitter at sarahsundin.

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Antioch student again earns Dean’s List recognition at Norwich University

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
Ethan Bilotti FB Antioch student again earns Deans List recognition at Norwich University

Ethan Bilotti – from his Facebook page.

In order to be eligible to be on the Dean’s list a student must carry at least 12 credit hours and attain a grade point average of at least a 3.0.

Bilotti is studying biology and serving the U.S. Army while attending college.

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation’s six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). For more information visit www.norwich.edu.

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Grinnell College Honors Antioch’s Dr. John W. Copeland as one of 10 Outstanding Graduates for 2014

Monday, June 9th, 2014
Dr. Copeland receives award Grinnell College Honors Antiochs Dr. John W. Copeland as one of 10 Outstanding Graduates for 2014

Dr. John Copeland receives his alumni award from Grinnell Alumni Council President Susan Henken-Thielen during the Alumni Assembly on Saturday May 31, 2014. photo by Justin Hayworth

Grinnell, Iowa — Grinnell College recognized the professional accomplishments and service contributions of 10 alumni during Alumni Reunion Weekend, May 30-June 1, on the Grinnell campus.

Alumni Award recipients are members of reunion classes who have distinguished themselves in their careers and communities and embody Grinnell’s mission of lifelong learning and service.

The honored alumni are:

Dr. Copeland Photo by Justin Hayworth 244x300 Grinnell College Honors Antiochs Dr. John W. Copeland as one of 10 Outstanding Graduates for 2014

Dr. John Copeland. photo by Justin Hayworth

– M. Anne Brineman Anderson, a member of the Class of 1964 from Washington, D.C., for decades of work toward peace as a leader with activist and advocacy groups.

– Noga Ashkenazi, a member of the Class of 2009 from Tel Aviv, Israel, who used her documentary film work to bring attention—and reform—to the issues faced by women in prison. (Ashkenazi is one of two recipients of this year’s Pioneer Awards, which recognize distinctive achievements made by alumni who have graduated within the past 10 years.)

– Elizabeth Barnard Brooke ’54, from Vienna, Va., for decades of leadership in journalism at U.S. News & World Report, and for her extensive community service.

– Martha Grodzins Butt, a member of the Class of 1964, for helping Grinnellians, and others, build connections with Thailand, both through her work at Payap University in Chiang Mai and through her volunteer leadership and service at Grinnell.

– Peter Coyote, a member of the Class of 1964 and a resident of Mill Valley, Calif., for his work as an actor and social activist.

– G. Peter “Pete” Ferrell III, a member of the Class of 1974 and a resident of Beaumont, Kan., for his leadership in sustainability—both through his work with wind energy and through his service on the boards of the Land Institute, the Beaumont Community Association, and other environmental organizations.

– Anthony Hyatt, a 1985 Grinnell graduate now living in Bethesda, Md., for using music to inspire older generations to sing, dance and socialize with each other.

– Sarah B. R. Labowitz, a member of the Class of 2004 and a resident of New York, N.Y., for her nuanced and pioneering work in the areas of human rights, Internet freedom, and cyber policy. (Labowitz is one of two recipients of this year’s Pioneer Awards, which recognize distinctive achievements made by alumni who have graduated within the past 10 years.)

– Samuel Schuman, a member of the Class of 1964 and a resident of Asheville, N.C., for significant contributions—both as a scholar and a chancellor—to the field of higher education.

About Grinnell College

Since its founding in 1846, Grinnell has become one of the nation’s premier liberal arts colleges, enrolling 1,600 students from all 50 states and from as many international countries. Grinnell’s rigorous academic program emphasizes excellence in education for students in the liberal arts; the college offers the B.A. degree in a range of departments across the humanities, arts and sciences. Grinnell has a strong tradition of social responsibility and action, and self-governance and personal responsibility are key components of campus life. More information about Grinnell College is available at www.grinnell.edu.

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Saving Eli, an Antioch story of redemption – book signing Saturday

Friday, May 2nd, 2014
Eli Saving Eli, an Antioch story of redemption   book signing Saturday

Eli Contreras from his Facebook page.

I was just a crazy, drug addicted, punk rocker, demon-possessed man.”

By Allen Payton

Talking with Eli Contreras, today, you’d never know the hell on Earth he’s been through in his life. To think this calm, soft-spoken, baby-faced man once frightened people away, by both his appearance and behavior is hard to imagine. It’s only after you see some of his tattoos and he points out the scars from the busted veins in his forearms, that you realize his story is true.

Eulalio “Eli” Guevara Contreras was born in Oakley in 1972, the fourth of five children, and grew up with his two brothers and two sisters. He was baptized Catholic, but didn’t attend church. At the young age of three became a victim of physical, mental and sexual abuse. That was just the start of his troubled life.

By age 14 he started abusing drugs, both legal and illegal and at 16 was so angry with God for what He allowed Eli to go through, that he opened a copy of the Satanic Bible and gave his soul to the devil, to get even with God.

His oldest brother was shot in the face and killed by that brother’s best friend, then saw his mother lose her mind. Eli was glad his brother was dead, because he hated him.

At that same age, Eli and his friend, who was a transvestite in San Francisco, hung out where the homosexual prostitutes did. He started dressing punk and getting piercings.

By age 19 Eli started selling drugs to supply his habit and because he was living on the streets, sometimes staying the night at people’s homes.

I started hearing voices and seeing images and talking to people who weren’t there,” he shared in a recent interview. That lasted until he was 32.

He said demons started telling him to kill his parents, which of course, made them afraid of him and wouldn’t let Eli stay in the house at night. So, he lived in their back yard shed.

The demons told him to molest a little boy. But, he fought that and ended up in the mental ward at Kaiser hospital.

Then his parents’ house got shot up and they moved out of state, leaving Eli behind, which had a profound impact on him.

I was still that three-year-old, little boy who never grew up,” he said.

He cried and thought he no longer had any dreams.

He became successful at selling drugs and continued to use them, too.

That got him arrested three times, once by the FBI and twice by local police, landing him in jail, with a gang member as a cell mate. Eli was not part of any gang. He just sold drugs to all of them.

One night, his cellmate ended up having convulsions and died. Eli was arrested on murder charges, but was released 72 hours later and never did any time.

His homies were going to kill me,” he stated.

During the 13 years he was selling and abusing drugs, being demon possessed and hearing voices, he experienced the sensation that bugs were eating him from the inside. He lost all of his teeth. He blew out the veins in both of his forearms.

I was just a crazy, drug addict, punk-rocker, demon-possessed man,” Eli stated.

He was saying “somebody love me. Somebody make this pain go away.” But, it didn’t. It just got worse.

Eli got beat up in one neighborhood in Antioch. Once he had his head busted open with a hammer, and he was shot at.

At age 32 he overdosed and attempted suicide many times, once by playing Russian Roulette.

Elis book cover Saving Eli, an Antioch story of redemption   book signing SaturdayJust at the time the demons told him to go walk in front of a diesel truck at Laurel and Highway 4, a lady, named Mariam, and her daughter in a white car, made a u-turn and stopped to tell Eli “God loves you more than you can ever imagine.”

Mariam said God told her she had to talk to him that day or the next day it would be too late.

For the next year she prayed for Eli and if she saw him, she would pull over and talk to him and sometimes take him to her house for dinner.

Then on March 27, 2005 Eli heard God speak to him – “turn away” and gave him four mental pictures: Eli was in his right mind, wearing white, reunited with his family and on his knees worshiping Jesus Christ.

It broke him emotionally. He ran to Mariam’s house and she took him to church. While there, Eli got down on his knees, asked God for forgiveness and instantly felt Himpouring His love into him.

In 2008 he self-published a book about his experiences entitled “And Then I Heard His Voice.” Eli will be having a book signing at 10 A.M., tomorrow, Saturday, May 3 at Graceland Christian Books, next to Target, at 4261 Century Blvd. in Pittsburg. Call 706-8791 for times. His book is available on Amazon.com. See his interview on the 700 Club, entitled “Saving Eli” on YouTube by clicking here.

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Antioch girl shows holiday spirit making and delivering Christmas cards to convalescent homes and hospitals

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013
Angelica Rose Dudley 1024x768 Antioch girl shows holiday spirit making and delivering Christmas cards to convalescent homes and hospitals

Angelica Rose Dudley displays the cards she delivers to residents in Antioch senior and convalescent homes.

By Linda-Rose Dudley

I thought it would be nice to share a story of a 14 year old girl, Angelica Rose Dudley who is our daughter with a big heart. For three years now, Angelica has joined the volunteers supported by Bank of America in the Hearts for the Holidays where employees, family and friends make Christmas cards from recycled cards and we deliver them to the convalescent homes and/or hospitals in the community, such as Quail Lodge, Cypress Meadows, The Commons at Dallas Ranch, Lone Tree and Antioch Convalescent Hospitals.

Angelica has dedicated many hours over the years making these cards and over time she felt there was something she wanted to change. She wanted to be certain that the cards she hand delivers, going forward will be the cards she has personally made. She set a goal of making 500 cards for 2013 so that she can deliver them, and as she makes her way through, greeting each person with a smile and wishing them happy holidays.

Angelica enjoys the interaction and seeing how happy the residents are to see her. This is a very rewarding experience to be part of this effort and I wanted to take the time to share something positive. We also welcome any recycled Christmas cards for the upcoming years. Happy Holidays! Please contact Linda-Rose Dudley at lrosedudley@yahoo.com.

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Veterinarian seeks help recovering appointment book lost near Black Diamond Mines

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

LOST: Veterinarian lost a veterinary turquoise book between Black Diamond Mines and Willow Pass Road off of Hwy 4, November 29. My name is on the book. The animals and I would appreciate its return. $25 reward. 510.725.5206

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Antioch girl is youngest smog check technician in the nation

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Mina Guevara Antioch girl is youngest smog check technician in the nationBy Allen Payton

Antioch resident Mina Guevara has grown up around cars all her life. Her father, George, owns a car dealership and smog station in Antioch.

On October 3, 2013, at age 16, just 10 days before she turned 17, she became the youngest Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Certified Smog Test and Repair Technician in America.

Mina’s been working as a service writer since her dad’s shop, VIP Smog opened in 2011. The shop is located at the corner of West 10th Street and Auto Center Drive in Antioch.

She also passed her state test of the Bureau of Automotive Repair’s STAR Program, which allows her to provide vehicle smog inspections.

Mina is a hard worker. She amazingly graduated from high school a year early, at age 16, by doing 100 hours of home work each week, even while working over 60 hours per week at VIP Smog.

I was ready to start work and pursue my goals and interests,” Mina said as for the reason for getting done so quickly.

She’s now also working at the new family business, Little Mexico Restaurant, that just opened on W. 10th Street next door to the smog station, as part of her pursuits into the restaurant business.

Mina recently applied to Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute in San Francisco. Her desire is to open a steak house, some day.

But, for now you can get your car smogged by the youngest technician in America while you enjoy some of her authentic Mexican food.

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From the Bay to L.A., Antioch’s Khira Thomas makes it in Hollywood

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

By Allen Payton

Antioch hails many students with childhood dreams. Some say “I want to be a doctor,” or a “District Attorney” maybe a Khira Thomas 682x1024 From the Bay to L.A., Antiochs Khira Thomas makes it in Hollywood“football player.” Khira Thomas always told her peers “I’m going to be an actress!” Almost 10 years have passed since she graduated from Deer Valley High School with the Class of 2003, and that’s exactly what she became.

“I knew it was going to happen someday,” says Thomas. “I told everybody I would, and that’s what I was able to accomplish.”

How it was going to happen, was another story in itself.

The first step for Thomas was to earn a degree in Theater. By being accepted to the California State University of Northridge, she would live close to Hollywood where she could learn about the business and stud the craft at the same time. “Being in proximity with the university and the Hollywood offices gave me the advantage to learn both my craft and the industry at the same time,” says Thomas. “They worked hand in hand with the jobs I booked and the exercises I did in class, I had 1 up on other actors at auditions because the casting directors saw I had the training to handle the part.”

One of the first things Thomas did upon arriving in Los Angeles was to get a feel of the TV and film industry.

“My very first encounter was attending a taping of the Wayne Brady Show, in 2004,” she said. “I was in shell shock seeing the movie magic unfold on set. From that point on I was in hot pursuit, working my way up to be a part of it.”

She was soon doing research on how and where to find auditions, and what it took to get acting jobs. It started with taking acting classes, then using those skills to find auditions and land roles.

“In a way, I felt as if the industry was gravitating to me, because eventually I was landing more jobs in a matter of months than those actors older than me, who hadn’t in years. I felt at home with the entertainment industry, and still do,” said Thomas.

Thomas found herself in the midst of many perks of the industry: walking the red carpet, earning money, and meeting notable celebrities. Thomas’ 1st major break was in the film “Lakeview Terrace” starring Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Wilson, and Kerry Washington.

Kira Thomas POE 649x1024 From the Bay to L.A., Antiochs Khira Thomas makes it in Hollywood“I only got a featured role in that film, but it meant the world to me, and it also inspired me to want more out of my career, as well” said Thomas.

After that, there was no room for backtracking, Khira wasn’t accepting anything less from that point on. This led her to landing supporting roles in more projects. She played a deceptive mistress in “House of Flesh Mannequins,” a horror movie heroine in “Poe,” a sexy decoy in “The Marriage Chronicles,” and a bus driver in “Bus People.” All are available on Netflix and/or DVD.

“It’s such an amazing feeling to watch myself on screen and be recognized by others” she stated. “It took so much and so long for me to do all of those films, and to finally see them out is such a relief. I always told people I was going to Hollywood to make movies, work with famous people, and walk the red carpet. Now I have a resume that speaks for itself.”

Her mother, Antioch resident Robin Reed, who watched her daughter in all her school plays from Kindergarten through high schools, said “I’m very proud of Khira for following her dreams.”

She caught the acting bug when she played the lead role in the play “The Princess and the Frog” in third grade.

“Khira had never been away from home,” Reed said. “So for her to leave home, move to L.A. where she didn’t know anyone, I was impressed by her strength.”.

“But my proudest moment was when I watched her walk across the stage to get her degree in theater from Cal State Northridge.”

Khira was the first member of her immediate family to graduate from college.

Although Khira Thomas has fulfilled her goal of becoming an actress, it’s not the end of her pursuits.

“I still do not feel as if I hit the prime of my life, yet” she shared. “I know I’ve done quite a bit as an actress, I still believe I have more roles in me to become even more successful.”

Ten years ago she had a dream to become an actress, and 10 years later she is looking to become a pivotal figure in the entertainment industry. There’s still time for her to walk the red carpet to the Academy Awards stage and to become a major entrepreneur.

She also wants to serve as an example to other, future actors who wish to be at the top of their game, like Khira expects to be very soon.

“I told people that I was going to be an actress, and I did it, now I’m telling you all I’m going to be a legend because if I knew then what I was going to be, then I ought to know what I’m going to be now!”

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