Press Release

Ghosts: 1st Volume of Artful ‘Ghost’ Trilogy Fuses Passion for College Basketball with a Moving, Compelling Uplift of the Human Spirit


Masterfully crafted by John Heldon, ‘Ark: Book IV Ghosts (Volume 4)’ is the powerful first volume of a middle trilogy; a journey involving redemption for one’s spirit, weaved around the unique American culture of college sports (including a ghost cast of former players!). Expect humor, suspense, reminiscing and poignancy, in a book one critic claims “holds a mirror up to our own lives and inspires us…to make a difference in the lives of others. While their glory days may have ended, ours and theirs may once again begin.”


For Immediate Release


Marlboro, NJ – For those who follow it, college sports is a heart-pumping release from the stress of the “real world” and an opportunity to indulge in something more exciting than the 9-5. For players, their passion for their craft goes beyond the final score to guide them through an intense personal journey to the core of their very being. Their days on the court or field shape them, never leave them and ultimately define them.

In his engrossing and celebrated new novel, John Heldon uses the backdrop of college basketball to invite readers on an exploration of  how the past got humanity to its present. Told through the younger ghosts of still living older players and a building they played in that has a bold personality of its own, ‘Ark: Book IV Ghosts (Volume 4)’ reminds readers that it is never too late to reject despair.


Nicknamed the Ark, this old gym is a limbo for six ghosts from 1971, who are discovered by a retired alum who they hope will be the conduit between themselves and their unhappy living persons, thereby providing the answers to their ‘young’ and ‘old’ predicaments.

If a reader enjoyed a book like W.P. Kinsella’s ‘Shoeless Joe’, or its movie adaptation, ‘Field of Dreams’, they will appreciate Ark’s different slant, served slightly chilled, sprinkled with humor, and a twist at the end.

“This book is a cocktail of humor and seriousness, reminding readers that it is never too late to give life a second chance and that our mistakes exist to learn from, not regret,” explains Heldon. “The book is set in the present; the first volume of a middle trilogy with eight more volumes in the works.  Sport is the springboard for the Ark saga, but the ensuing volumes plunge into what’s most important in life. The first trilogy tells of how the past got us to our present, while the last trilogy will express my hopes for the human race in the future. The timeline is billions of years, told in a fantasy not too far beyond our grasp of the possible.”

Continuing, “Readers will be able to twist their own lives around the narrative, turning the last page with a new perspective on their existence. Redemption is for our spirit to live beyond our corporal “shell”, but it is never too early to start this fundamental journey.”

Readers have come out in force with positive reviews. Bill Raftery, CBS , ESPN and FOX sports commentator writes, “In the wonderful novel by John Heldon, he writes about a facility (The Ark) that was home to a college’s outstanding basketball team.  The book evokes memories for me of the seventies…, which aroused the pride I had as a resident of New Jersey…  John brings these memories all back into focus.”

Mike adds, “Author John Heldon has made a “fast break” from literary anonymity with his debut novel, “Ark.” His familiarity with the ins and outs of college basketball effervesce from the pages of this whimsical apologue. And just as it isn’t necessary for one to own a Harley to appreciate Robert M. Pirsig’s classic, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” the reader doesn’t have to know the difference between a back court and a backboard to appreciate this “Field of Dreams” meets “Hoosiers” fantasy.”

‘Ark: Book IV Ghosts (Volume 4)’ is available now:


About the Author:

John J. Heldon, Jr.(1947-) was born and raised in Bergen County, NJ. and attended Rutgers University. After a long career in sales before founding his own business, he ‘retired’, to work and love twice as much as a writer.  He’s always been an avid student of human behavior, from its funny side and its foibles, to its disgust and its profound.  “Ark” is his first novel of the Ark series. He lives in Marlboro, NJ, with his wife, better half, and inspirational character, Ginni, along with their hyperactive Maltese, Lily, who keeps them young.

Contact: John Heldon / / 201-805-2608

My Journey Through Storytelling

I owe my first time reader an explanation about a few things. I know it’s not the norm with all writers, but I get to the point after some research, a skeletal outline, and some expanded thoughts when my fingers start to tingle. The core ideas start to shake my sleeves, and nudge my fingers toward the keyboard. It’s time for me to ‘go’. I have a need to trust what comes to me. Here’s the short story how I got here:

I became a writer at the corner of Bayard and George Streets. If you went to Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, you know where that is.

No, I didn’t whip out a pen and pad. Later, hindsight realized that was the moment.

John HeldonBefore then, I had dabbled at blogging, which wasn’t enough to count for me, just as warm up exercises don’t compare to a cardio workout. Nothing against blogging. Some are terrific, but a novel was my goal before saying to myself, ‘I’m a writer’. So, on that corner in the Spring of 2011, while talking to a big guy about basketball, blogging, then writing a novel, an epiphanous wind blew through me, leaving an idea: ‘Hoosiers Meets Field of Dreams’.

It would become my first novel, Ark. It’s second edition, Ark Book IV: Ghosts, is necessary because Ark was the pebble thrown into the pond, whose ripples gave me ideas for a much larger story, or saga, to be sure. Also, a rewrite was needed to sow some seeds which would sprout in later books.

If you’re still with me, I’ll give you a sneak peak of the next two books, and a hint of a third.

Guess what? Ark turned out to be a light, fast (and many said good) read, which got me to my second book: Ark Book V: Beneath. Telling a ghost story allowed me to realize the Ark had it’s own special character: it’s a paranormal portal linking a mysterious Native-American tribe, who vanished before the Europeans arrived, and a Doomsday which can be averted, if the tribe’s secret is found.

This second book ends in a cliffhanger, as the main characters gain entrance through the portal. I found it wasn’t much of a leap between the paranormal and the spiritual. These few have been chosen by ‘Higher Authorities’, and ‘He’ and ‘She’ have been guiding their quest.

On a roll pounding the keyboard, I finished Ark Book VI Above. It gives these chosen few a glimpse of Doomsday, which is near and tough to avoid, unless the World returns to a matrilineal way of life. Can these chosen few sell this simple, best idea to the ‘engineers’ who are driving the ‘train’ off its rails? I think yes, since there was a David and Goliath.

From one idea, Ark became a trilogy. Actually, the middle trilogy of nine books in all, God willing.

Here is where I think we all need help, looking at the messy World we live in. The end of Ark Book VI Above asks:

Would we be in a better place if Wars were up to women?

I’ve run the question past quite a few women, and their answers fall into two camps:

Yes, we would be in a better place.

No, Power would corrupt them also.

It should be pointed out that nearly all ancient tribes were matrilineal, where the mother’s brother was trusted more with the mother’s children than the children’s father (s). Over time, with brute force, and herds of domestic animals to trade for a wife, the men took over.

How should my question above be answered?

You, the reader, are now up to date with my journey through storytelling. I will tell you the middle of my story, after which I’ll tell you the beginning, then the end. Present, Past, Future, over billions of years.

John Heldon
June 16, 2015

The Sow's Ear

We boomers all have funny stories when it comes to raising our kids, and here’s another one of mine.

George, our son was about 3 or 4 years old when we took him to Van Saun Park, when we were still living in Bergen County, NJ.  It’s a wonderful place to introduce young children to other wild animals like themselves.  George was very precocious at that age and we were beginning to suspect ADHD, but had yet to address the issue.  At this age he was bouncing from pen to pen, giving each animal a look see before moving on to the next, without marveling the various other forms of life so near his neighborhood.

Reaching the pig pen gave George a pause, however, and that gave us a chance for a breather.

“Mommy and Daddy, look at the big pig rolling around in the mud!”

George had a knack for getting “down and dirty” during his play time at home, and we were hoping he wouldn’t make the connection between the water hose, and making mud.

In the pen lay a huge sow, easily 300+ pounds, seemingly happy as a pig in… you know, with four little piglets sliding around her, just as happy.  Two of them were nursing, not much caring about the mud and milk mixture they were consuming.  The other two were rolling around, squealing as if laughing in a play pen.

There was a fifth piglet totally devoid at what the siblings were doing.  While the sow was resting in contentment, this obvious “black sheep” of the brood was doing everything he could to antagonize his mother.  He bit her tail.  He walked on her back.  He bit his siblings.

The sow paid him no mind at all, and was content to sun herself in the heat of the day without a care in the world.

Until Mr. Fifth Piggy bit her ear.

In a split second, she snatched him in her jaws and tossed him skidding and rolling into the sloppy mud, where he came to rest about ten feet away.  He moaned and trotted off to the other end of the pen to sulk.

No one was going to make a silk purse out of that sow’s ear anyway, whether or not if had teeth marks.

There are lines in the sand, or mud, parents make which should not be crossed.

Ark: Truth in Fiction

How many times have you said, or heard someone say, “You can’t make this stuff up,” or “Truth is stranger than fiction.”? More times than you can remember, no doubt.

People at book signings often ask me why I became a fiction, and not a nonfiction writer. I answer by telling them two short stories. Both of them seem reasonable, but, I say, there’s a catch. Only one of them is true, which do you think is? So far, I haven’t had a unanimous vote. Fiction gives me the ability to use an actual event in the story, and most readers probably think I made it up.

Here’s an example. In reality, Cal, my real life friend, and character in the book, were driving to a Summer League basketball game. My cell phone kept ringing, but I don’t like to answer the phone in the car. In New Jersey, it’s against the law. Finally, I thought, this may be important, I should take the call anyway. As I reached into my pocket for the phone, it slipped out of my hand. As I tried to grab it, I swerved the car, which startled Cal, enough to give him the shakes. I pulled the car over, like the law suggests, made the call, which turned out to be nothing.

The incident found it’s way into the book. Again, I’m driving in the car with Cal, and I’m toying with the idea of letting him know what’s going on between me and the ghosts.

From the book:

“We were almost at the end of Route 20. A couple of minor roads and side streets and we’d be at St Mary’s High School gym where the games were played. I was about to change the subject, but before I could speak, ‘Tell No One else!’

I swerved the car slightly, but enough to give Cal a start. He looked over at me and fidgeted in the seat. It was a good thing the top was down, for his head’s sake.  I managed to say this.

“I’m OK. I thought I saw a piece of glass on the road (fib). Sorry, Cal”

There are quite a number of events in the book, which if aren’t outright truths, are heavily based on it.

To find out, read the book, and come to one of my book signings to ask me!

Henry the Handyman

Our condo in Delray Beach, FL. has been nice to us, in every way, including minimal maintenance and repairs, for the last six years we’ve owned it.

Until now. Well, nothing is forever.

We had renters in for the first time this past season (Jan-Mar). We’d used a management company to oversee our interests, take complaints from the renters, and solve problems in our absence without us having to. That’s the theory, anyway. We also had a maintenance contract to cover most repairs with their insurance. Again, that was the theory.

In all fairness, the maintenance company did repair the washing machine when the renters were here, no charge. Also while we were en route by car, our condo sitter, who looks in on the place once a week, said the thermostat died, and the A/C wasn’t filtering out the humidity. It was fixed by the maintenance company the next day. No charge. Hey, two for two, I’m feeling lucky!

Our luck ran out when we got down here.

The management co, who inspected the condo, said everything was okay after the renters left, and gave them their security deposit back, didn’t do a very good job. Everything LOOKED okay, but, for example, the kitchen faucet wobbled like the broken neck of a chicken.

So, my next call was to the maintenance co; they were two for two so far, right?

The service man comes, looks at the faucet, and says,

That’ll be around $180. to fix; plumbing isn’t covered. Look at the fine print on the back of your contract. You do have a contract?”

“Yes, it’s back in New Jersey.” I thanked him while declining the repair offer. At least since I had a contract with them, there was no service charge.

I’d given up on plumbing a long time ago. Everything about the trade, even the word, bothers me; you’ll see why in a minute. So I called the condo sitter for a reference, and he supplied me with Henry.

“He’s French,” he said to me. So when a tall, dark Haitian showed up with a grin from ear to ear, I thought to my self, that’s half right. However, Henry seemed to have the perfect temperament for plumbing, so in addition to the sink faucet, I made a list of things which needed to be corrected which the kitchen re modeler, after he left his wife and kid for his girlfriend and then went bankrupt, didn’t do.

So, Henry was fixing the faucet, the drain on the disposal unit which had a small leak, hookup the ice maker for the fridge, replace an electric box, and re caulked the kitchen back splash, for the next TEN hours! Henry smiled at each of the sidetracks that come with any plumbing job, and just kept attacking each of them with a laugh. I was the one getting frustrated, and I wasn’t even doing the work! If I had been doing the job, I might have ended up trashing the condo. In the end, Henry said,

Meester John, eat touk a leetle longer,eind I had to buy more parts, so IE tink $300. iensteed of $200. would be fair, NO?”

I didn’t quibble, wrote the check, and Henry was on his way. I put him in my phone book for the next time.

Henry reminded me of an immigrant experience which is common, although not always, occurring in the country. He was happy to be here. He wasn’t trying to make a fortune, just a fair living. NOTHING bothered him. Don’t worry, be happy. Thanks for reminding me, Henry!

Mike's Mercedes

I’m back.  I know I said 90 posts in 90 days, and I’ve missed a couple of days. We were traveling to Florida by car, I don’t have a laptop, and my fingers are too fat for the keyboard on my new phone.  My techie wizard son is going to find a keyboard for fat fingers.  However the trip yielded new material (they usually do), and here it is.

It turns out our good Bergen County friends, Mike and Libby, were also traveling by car to Lake Worth, FL, a couple of towns away from us in Delray Beach.

For the full effect of what happens in this story, I must digress.

A few years ago, our Rutgers Football season tickets seats were moved to a new section.  As we arrived to sit for the first game, we noticed the seatmates next to ours were the same couple who sit behind us for Rutgers Basketball games!

As I was writing “Ark” while attending the first game last season, Calvin, my new friend and impetus for the book, had seats right in front of ours!  Of all the 60,000 seats in the Stadium, how’s that for coincidence or fate?

So, back to the story, Mike and Libby left Bergen at 6am, and stopped to have lunch with their daughter in Virginia.  We left Marlboro at 8:30 am, and got stuck in horrendous traffic in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.  We were supposed to meet Mike and Libby for dinner in Santee, SC, but arrived too late due to the traffic.

The next day, we called them from the car to note their progress. They were only 5 minutes ahead of us.  We both agreed to meet when we got down to FL. within a couple of days.

One of our traditions is to stop at the Florida welcome center to get a shot of orange juice.  I pulled into the center, looking for a parking space, which are hard to come by since everyone has the same idea.  My wife always spots the first space I miss, and gets annoyed every time.

Well, I did find a space next to a late model Mercedes SUV with Jersey plates.

My wife and I looked at each other, then across the lot towards the OJ greeting room, and there were Mike and Libby waving to us!

What are the chances of that?!

Small world.

Pop's Ticker

My father turned 90 last June, and I’m blessed he’s in remarkable shape.  I want to take partial credit, because I’m into anti aging supplements from my doctor,and I pass the info along to my parents (Mom’s nearly 89; more in another blog).  I kid my doctor, who has never met them, that he should consider them his “out patients.”  Of course, I run by him whatever I plan to pass on  before I do it.  It’s really just basic stuff, like vitamins C, D3, fish oil, coQ10, Calcium/Magnesium, and a Multi.  These simple few will do wonders for you, too.

It must be working, because all their other doctors say thing like “Oh, what good blood values,” or ” you don’t look your age.”  More than a few times I’ve lent credibility to their ages by producing MY medicare card.

Anyway, back to Dad.  He does have a health concern which requires monitoring.  As a kid he had rheumatic  fever which left him with a murmur, and that valve involved had to be replaced 11 years ago.  He doesn’t say much; he’s always used words at a premium.  In fact, his yearbook caption said, “silence never makes any blunders.”  So as the doctor asks his questions, I supplement Dad’s yes and no answers with any embellishment needed.

“Do you smoke or drink?” the Doc asked.

“I don’t smoke,” Dad turned to me, as we both laughed.

The Doc agreed scotch with a lot of ice was therapeutic for him. Then he said at the open doorway as we were wrapping up the visit,

“I don’t get many chances to say this to my 90 year old patients, but I’ll see you in a year.”

The three of us smiled, then I saw the rest of the staff staring in disbelief.  Looking further into the waiting area I noticed a packed room of non erect gaits, pasty pallors, and noticeable discomforts from ailing and aging.

I was reminded of my good fortune of health for my Dad.

I put on my chauffeur’s cap, and we were on the way home.

Laurie Carlson

As a Hurricane Sandy survivor, it’s easy to feel sorry for one’s self. I did, for a couple of hours.  It’s easy to forget.  To lose one’s perspective, by forgetting those who lost much more, or most, or all of everything they had.

We didn’t have power for 92 hours, which broke our personal best of 44 hours from Hurricane Irene last year.  Well, there are still those whose record meters are still running, and those whose record will never have an end to.  No power, no house, no things.  It’s hard to imagine a bounce back like that for me, the only comfort I have as an “other” not in that position, is to know it has been done many times before, some how, some way.  My hope is those who’ve met more devastation than I come to see it that way soon.

As horrible as this event seems to me, I realized this all pales in comparison to what severely disabled people go through each day, for the rest of their lives.  This brings me to a favorite fellow blogger, Laurie Carlson, whose site is linked below.

Have you ever heard of “Stiff Person Syndrome?”

Visit her site.  Look at the ledger of things she can’t do, and what sheer Will enables her to do.

If you’re so inclined, include Laurie in your prayers, as I have, and let her remind you that no storm, or whatever the cause of a temporary or permanent disability, can affect your Spirit, only your mind if you let it.

To those of you in the Rutgers community, we have Eric Legrand to inspire us, and now, please include Laurie in our orbit of stars who we won’t let fall.