Monday, April 14, 2014

Release Date For Of Dreams and Faith

I am very happy (and a little nervous) to announce the release date for Of Dreams and Faith: Tuesday, April 22nd. On that day, Of Dreams and Faith will be available for purchase in both paperback and various digital formats., Nook, Kindle, Smashwords, and other retailers will have Of Dreams and Faith available to buy, and I will also be running a Goodreads giveaway and possibly one on my own blog. The paperback edition of the book will be sold for $10, and the digital editions will be available for $2.99.

This book has been years and years in the making. It is a story of my own walk with God, intersecting with the incredible things he had done for my family and my dream of writing. You can keep tabs on the official page for Of Dreams and Faith to purchase your copy, and keep your eyes on this blog around release day for more information about the giveaways.

From the back cover:
Pursuing God-given dreams is a futile effort unless we are doing so in faith. Many of us neglect to go to God with our dreams because we think they are too small or too insignificant to bother Him with them. But what we forget is that some of these dreams that are burning within us were planted there by God Himself, and He’s waiting fervently for us to turn to Him and partner with Him to fulfill these dreams.

What would happen if we took our dreams, placed them in the hands of God, and placed our faith in God to turn these dreams into reality? Instead of trusting in the temporary, instead of putting our hopes in the ones who will undoubtedly disappoint, what if we turned to the One who has power over all creation?

This book is an account, a chronicle really, of my own attempt to raise my goblet of dreams to the God who moved Heaven and Earth to call me His own, to align my will with the will of the Almighty and expectantly watch to see what He can and will do with a dream, however grand or simple that dream may seem.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Flash Fiction Friday #14 - Black Doors

Black Doors
The train started up and began its journey through the Wasteland. Veronica peered out the window every so often, but there was really nothing to see. There were no lights in the Wasteland, save for light bulbs of solo shacks, or random campfires of outposts adventurers made while journeying through the sand-drenched desert. During the day, black paneling came down over the windows, blocking one’s view from the Wasteland itself. Violence was a common occurrence out here, but more so were attacks from the random beasts which inhabited the Wasteland. A family sued the train company years earlier when their child witnessed a horrific dismemberment of an adventurer who came too close to a Riptosar.

At night though, at a time when the sun escapes the evils of the day and retreats to make way for the more courageous moon, there was no need to block the windows. In fact, the random campfire glows and electric beacons provided small tokens of hope, proof that life existed out here in the middle of nowhere. 

Veronica recalled history lessons about the Wastelands in high school. Adventurers went in, so few came out or made it to the other side. Either the wilderness killed the unprepared ego trip, untamed beasts of all shapes and sizes tore the ignorant limb from limb, or some actually managed to get lost in some of the Wasteland ruins, which were said to have existed many thousands of years before Anaisha was even colonized.

Veronica remembered one particular story about a young man – brash and full of spitfire – who led a small team into an underground ruin near the Sarlin mountain range. Montgomery. That was his last name, I think. Montel Montgomery was his full name. The ruins were said to be inhabited by dark creatures and a rare artifact, but Montgomery and his team never returned. When another expedition crew went into the ruins after him, they came back with reports of a large chamber full of doors. Black doors with silver knobs and strange symbols etched around the doorframes. The doors were said to float above the stone flooring of the chamber, no strings attached, no hover lifts. Whispers filled the chamber, but nobody in the expedition team could make out what was being said. Nowhere else within the vast ruins were the doors found, and when the doors within the one chamber were counted, the number came out to four dozen. The expedition team claimed they weren’t able to open any of the doors, and even if they could, each one of them said they didn’t want to know what was behind them.

After hearing that story, Veronica spent many weeks researching black doors. The Black Door Phenomenon, in particular, was something that had been experienced by a few dozen people across Enera, each in a different location. People would turn a corner or enter a room or even wander outside, and suddenly there would be a black door. Some even said they would go to their neighbor’s house and their neighbor’s door would be replaced with a black door, with the strange symbols around the frame. Each black door had a different set of symbols, making interpretation nearly impossible. Some people reported being able to open the doors by turning the silver knobs. Once opened, they said they saw a variety of different things: apartment buildings, futuristic spacecrafts, alien species, and sometimes horrors beyond explanation.

No research uncovered a report of anyone ever stepping through the doorways. Veronica figured it was because anyone who ever did step through the doorways – and she was sure there were people who did out of a curious compulsion – were never able to come back to tell anyone about it.

The going theory right now was that the doors opened to other realms.

Veronica leaned back in her seat and wondered what it would be like to come across a Black Door. She wasn’t sure she’d walk through one if she were able to open it. To explore other realms was something that kept her curiosity at its peak, even though common sense and self-preservation kept Veronica from really committing to the idea of jumping through one of those Black Doors.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Of Dreams and Faith Proof Copy

I received the paperback proof copy of my non-fiction project, Of Dreams and Faith, last week. After reviewing the proof, I realized there were some things that needed to be fixed, mainly with the cover design. They have since been updated, and I just ordered a second proof copy which should be arriving at some point this week.

Some of the things I found wrong with my cover:

First off, the file became distorted for some reason and when I received the proof copy, there was a sharp white line running across the entire bottom half of the book. I think it may have been an anomaly with the file itself, or something on Createspace's end, but either way when I uploaded the revamped cover design it was gone on the digital image - I am hoping it is also gone on the physical cover when the proof shows up.

Second, I never noticed the space between the F and the A in the word 'Faith'. The font itself does that, as the word 'Faith' was created in another program and exported as an image. To fix this, I just created an 'F' and 'aith' separately and joined them together in the cover image.

Another flaw I noticed once I had the paperback in my hands was the massive distortion around the lighthouse and some of the rocks. Going back into the cover design file itself, I realized the whole image was originally saved at 72 DPI, which is unacceptable quality for a paperback cover. This was an easy enough fix, as the image simply had to be saved under 600 DPI, which brought it out clearer and crisper. Of course, the whole cover wasn't exported as 600, but 300, but the image itself of the lighthouse and the rocks was converted to 600 to clean up a lot of the distortion.

The final flaw ended up being some mispositioned text on the back cover. I already knew the text might come out being a little off because of the cut-off points, but it was an easy enough fix - I simply shifted the text to get it away from the spine.

All in all, the corrections to this cover weren't too difficult. My wife even cleaned up the lighthouse further, taking off the black square, the text above the door, and the little pole poking out of the top. The inside of the book had a few spacing issues here and there, but the chapter titles, text, margins and page numbers all came out looking just the way I wanted them to.

Here's the final cover design:

Friday, April 4, 2014

Flash Fiction Friday #13 - Ignite

“I’ve left my life in your hands,” Cery whispered. “If you leave me, I’ll die.”
Belm shrugged and brushed his palms together, wiping the dirt from his skin. “You speak as if I’ve loved you this whole time. You still don’t get it, do you? I never loved you. Not the first time we laughed, not the first time we kissed, not the first time we had sex.”
Cery tried again to push the pile of wooden beams off the lower part of her body, but they were too many and too heavy. Pinned, she knew she wouldn’t get free without Belm’s help. He had the strength to help her, the muscle to move the wood, but he lacked the will...and the love. She knew all along that he didn’t love her. That isn’t what hurt. Over the course of her life, Cery had grown to accept the fact that nobody could love someone as hideous as her. The face deformity she carried with her from her youth, from the house fire, scared everyone away. She was never surprised to find that Belm did not truly love her. What hurt was the fact that he lacked the decency to help another human being.
He adjusted the heavy armor he wore and clanked his way toward her, kneeling down so his face was just above hers. “It’s for the best that you die here, you know? Nobody loves you. Nobody ever has, and nobody ever will. You’re the beast in the castle, locked behind solid walls so nobody has to see you or speak of you. Did you actually expect me to fall in love with what you see in the reflection each day? Honestly, you have to be pretty naive to believe that. Maybe you did because it’s all you had to believe in. Maybe you just wanted a bit of pity and hoped by attaching yourself to me you would get it. You were wrong. I have no pity for the likes of you.”
Cery crossed her arms over her chest. “I loved you, you know?”
Belm reached his hand out and stroked her cheek with his fingers. “I know. That’s what made this so easy. Bringing the barn down on your pathetic form was so easy, as is the act of leaving you here to die. No food, no water, no help for miles and miles. I’ll fly away like a crow, and you’ll stay here and die like a helpless sparrow.
Cery suddenly grabbed hold of Belm’s wrist. “Please, stay with me a little longer. Give me that.”
Belm laughed, ripping his arm out of her grip. “You still cling to me, the man who is slowly killing you? You are stupider than I thought you were. Good riddance.”
“Please. Just one more kiss? One more time to experience the warmth of your lips?”
“Since you asked nicely, and you are a stupid, stupid girl, I will grant your wish.” Belm knelt down again and leaned in to kiss Cery on the lips. Once his lips touched hers, Cery grinned slyly. A blaze of fiery heat swarmed around Belm’s face, igniting his head in flames.
He fell backwards and plunged his head into the dirt, scrambling to put the flames out, but they would not die. He screamed and yelled and flailed around. Cery snapped her fingers as the wooden beams pinning her to the floor caught fire and burst into ash, freeing her to stand to her feet. The pressure of the beams had injured her legs, but not badly enough to prevent her from walking. Approaching Belm, she placed her hand on his shoulder and the flames surrounding his face died out, leaving him with a head full of melted skin.
“I hope you’ll have a little more respect for me now, Belm. You think because my face is scarred that I am unable to function or love or live? Now you’ll learn with your own scars, with your own burns and scorch marks."
“Wh...wha....what,” he asked behind burnt, trembling lips. Smoke rose from his head and Cery could feel the heat emanating off his now bald skull.
She touched her finger to his chin and tilted his deformed face up toward her. “I have now made you like me. Unlovable.” She turned and walked out of the collapsed building before snapping her fingers and lighting it up in a heap of flames.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Camp NaNoWriMo 2014

Last year was the first year I ventured into the literary adventure known as Camp NaNoWriMo. I didn't know much about it, even though I have participated in the original NaNoWriMo for the past nine years.

While NaNoWriMo forces you to adhere to a 50,000 word count goal for the month of November with a strict advisement against editing, Camp NaNoWriMo is more flexible, allowing you to create your own word count goal and use the month of April or July to polish an existing project - possibly the novel you crafted in the previous November.

I wasn't going to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo this year except for the fact that I am waaaaaay behind on completing my short story series, The LZR Project, which I wrote the bare bones for in November during NaNoWriMo. I have 30+ episodes that have to be written and edited and ready to go by the end of April, and I only have the drafts written for 22 of those episodes. That being said, I am pretty proud as to how far I got in the project during November, but now I have to pull up my bootstraps, engage the warp drive on my coffee maker, and get ready to carve through some late nights in an effort to get these episodes finished.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Flash Fiction Friday #12 - Crystals

The red hue emanating from the fist-sized crystal shard reminded her of the lava pits of Endwon.

“You must handle the crystal carefully, your majesty,” Cedrick advised.

Breata huffed. “This is the fifth shard I have recovered in the last Universal Year, Cedrick. I don’t need a lecture on how fragile and unstable they are.”

Cedrick took his worn brown cap off and bowed. “My apologies.”

Breata brushed her hands, which were covered in sweat and grime, on Cedrick’s cap before he placed it back atop his head. “I would much rather have come to these caverns in more appropriate attire.”

Cedrick cleared his throat. “I sincerely think the blue gown you picked out for our excursion makes you look the part of royalty – which is what we needed the denizens of this planet to believe if they were to let you near this specific shard.”

She glanced down at the hem of her gown, covered in mud from their trek into the cavern. The glow from the red crystal shard made the brown dirt look black – like Legion’s dark form – against her attire. With much resolve, she thrust her hands toward the rock wall and took hold of the crystal shard embedded within.

“Careful!” Cedrick snapped. “If you break that shard, the magic energy within it will kill us!”

Breata sighed. “When we get back to Endwon, will you do me a favor and grow a pair?” She grasped tightly to the shard and pulled on it. The crystal came free from the weak rock. She held it up in front of her face, feeling its warmth against her skin, and grinned. “One step closer, Cedrick. One step closer to defeating Legion once and for all.”

Cedrick chuckled. “Hardly a step toward such a lofty achievement, your majesty. This crystal shard – well, enough of them – will simply keep Legion at bay, it will do nothing to destroy Legion.”

She took the burgundy-colored pouch fastened to her wrist and slid the crystal inside it. “That in itself brings us one step closer to defeating Legion for good. Have you no sense today?”

A loud click echoed through the cavern corridors. Breata turned to Cedrick, her earlier suspicions confirmed when she saw the energy pistol in his hand, pointed directly at her. He held his other hand out toward her. “I’m sorry to do this, your majesty, but I’m going to have to insist you hand that pouch over to me.”

“Your words don’t fool me,” Breata said, placing the pouch in his palm. “You’re not sorry. I had my suspicions about you since the day you requested to accompany me to this place.”

He grinned, shoving the pouch into his coat pocket. “If you suspected me for a traitor, maybe you should have done something to prevent this.”

“I hoped my suspicion was just that. I placed my faith and trust in you.”

“And look what you get for it,” he said, slowly backing up toward the entrance of the cavern. “You get abandoned here on a desolate world outside of your own star system. I’ll make sure to inform the kingdom that their royal majesty was killed valiantly attempting to retrieve the Sols crystal before it shattered and she was killed instantly by the magic residing within.”

“That doesn’t sound rehearsed at all.”

He stopped backtracking and tilted his head. “You don’t seem that concerned in regards to your predicament, your majesty.”

“Is that what you want to see? Fear? Begging? I will give you neither. I’ll find a way off this world and I will hunt you down and make sure I get back what is rightfully the Kingdom of Edwon’s.”

“Correction, your majesty, I will make sure to give the Kingdom of Edwon’s what is rightfully theirs: judgment.”

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Of Dreams and Faith Cover Sneak Peek

Of Dreams and Faith will be released soon, and in anticipation of the book entering the final stages of formatting and design, I thought I'd give everyone a glimpse at the cover design.

My wife took the photograph and applied all effects, and I handled the fonts. This project has been - by far - the most challenging writing project I have ever done. Of Dreams and Faith isn't just about my pursuit of the dreams God birthed within me, it's a very candid look at certain areas of my life I would otherwise keep to myself. My hope is that this project will inspire hope and encouragement in anyone attempting to take God at His word when He compels us to chase after the impossible. 

I don't have an exact release date yet, but you can expect this book to be available for purchase both in paperback and ebook before the end of April.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Flash Fiction Friday #11 - Legion Theory

Legion Theory
 “It’s only a theory, Rezmalfen. I can’t base decisions on theories alone.”

Rezmalfen sighed loudly, unafraid to let Snendinky know he was supremely irritated with the man’s lack of vision. “I understand it’s only a theory, but that is what our work is based on. We are scientists.”

“No, you are a scientist, I am a religious warfare expert. There is a huge difference.”

Rezmalfen scoffed. “Give me a break, Snen, there is no difference between religion and science. Science is my religion, and religion is your science. Simple as that.”

“The Legion Theory is only a theory. I cannot instruct others to follow precepts and guidelines based on a theory alone. Especially one as weak as this.”

Rezmalfen stroked the bottom of his icicle-shaped goatee and then dashed to the giant whiteboard. Using the eraser, he swept clean the myriad of formulas and scientific equations until he had an adequate space to begin his doodle. He began by drawing a stick figure – one with a triangle dress.

“Let’s say,” Rezmalfen began, “that this person here is your mother.”

Snendinky chuckled. “You would need a much bigger triangle if that is my mother.”

“No jokes!” Rezmalfen shouted. “This is science. Do not joke about science. Now, let’s say this is your mother. And let’s say she has been inhabited by Legion.”

“Okay, let’s start with that.”

“Okay. Now,” Rezmalfen drew another stick figure, this one with an upside down triangle. Then another, with a sideways triangle, and a final one with no triangle at all. “Let’s say your mother is destroyed and/or cured of her Legion possession. Now,” he tapped the next stick figure, the one with the upside down triangle, with the dry erase marker, “let’s say you run into this individual on the street. Let’s say she looks like your mother, has the same qualities and characteristics of your mother, maybe even sounds and smells like your mother.”

“You are giving me the willies, Rez. Move on with your point.”

“Let’s say the Legion entity that once inhabited your mother scrambled to find a replacement. It’s comfort would be found in someone who closely resembles your mother, correct?”

“That makes logical sense, if we are applying logic to the things of the spiritual and/or alien world.”

“Well, that Legion entity is going to reside within this copycat of your mother, until it is destroyed or chased out somehow. Then it will move on to another incarnation of your mother.” Rez tapped the stick figure with the sideways dress. “And it will keep doing so in order to accomplish familiarity. To add to this theory, since the Legion entity is the same entity leaping from host to host, it will begin picking up the characteristics, mannerisms, and qualities of each individual – include the subtle ones that have nothing to do with your original mother – and will keep reinventing itself as it jumps from host to host. Eventually, the last host in this line that the entity takes may not be recognizable as your mother, and will instead be a modge podge of your mother’s characteristics and the characteristics of those who came after your mother.”

Snendinky turned and stared out the window on the dark street below their highrise lab.

“What are you thinking?” Rezmalfen asked.

“I wonder how many of them are out there, Rez. How many people are wandering the streets, carrying the weight of that grotesque alien species with them. I believe you, Rez. I believe your theory – our theory – but the way you just explained it stirred something within my spirit. We have to warn the President. We have to warn everyone.”

“You are wrong, my friend. If you cast this theory out there into the waters, the school of fish will turn into a mass of piranhas. Everyone will become suspicious of everyone else, and each will turn on each other. We cannot allow that to happen.”

“Then what do you think we should do about this?”

Rezmalfen shrugged. “What can we do? Our situation, my friend, is hopeless.”

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Reflections on Of Dreams and Faith

In the next couple of weeks, I will be completing and ordering the proof copy of my non-fiction project, Of Dreams and Faith. This book is a chronicle of my own walk of faith, starting when I first fell in love with writing and ending with my arrival here in California. This has been a more emotional project than I thought it would be, because I've pretty much relived - through writing - this incredible journey God has had me on.

The crafting and completion of this book has served an important lesson to me - never forget what God has done for you. Until I sat down and connected the dots of my life, I wasn't fully aware of the incredible path God set out for me many years ago, and I wasn't fully appreciative of the incredible things God has done for me, my family, and my friends as I've walked out this path.

Of Dreams and Faith is a very personal look into my life - mistakes and successes - to give everyone a greater glimpse of who God is and what He can do with our dreams and passions. I like to think of my life as a blank sheet of paper that God wrote his story upon. Of Dreams and Faith is that story, and I can't wait to share it with all of you.

I will be announcing a release date soon, so stay tuned. I have the official page up on my website as well, which will include information as I release it.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Flash Fiction Friday #10 - Light

After being sick for the past couple of weeks, I'm finally getting back into the swing of things. That means Flash Fiction Fridays are back, and this week's is sure to shine some light on another Black Earth survivor...

A light flickers in the distance. It is the only light I can see from the window of the Mega Dollar Store. I can’t tell what the light is exactly – a malfunctioning bulb, wild electricity, maybe even someone attempting Morse code with light? I am too afraid to venture outside of my little trinket store, cross the dark parking lot, and make my way to that light. For all I know it could be a trap.

My time here in the Mega Dollar Store began a few days ago. I ran here to escape the menagerie of evil that has infiltrated our planet. Hellhounds and Trapors and Sceens and all other matter of darkness came after me as soon as the mark on my right wrist began to glow – the three horizontal lines with the small dot in the center of the second line. Bright white light poured out of the mark, yet I have no idea where the mark came from or how my body is able to create such light naturally.

I was in the middle of scrounging for food on the outskirts of town in an abandoned grocery store. My wrist lit up in a flood of light and the shadows suddenly came alive. I ran for it, lost them – somehow – and managed to get to this dollar store. I’ve been living off cans of stale chili and flat soda since then. The light coming from my wrist allows me the ability to see in the dark, but it also draws in the darkness. I use towels sometimes – most of the time – to muffle the light.

I move from the window and make my way through the cash register stands, using my wrist light to guide the way while shielding it with my left hand. I am glad I traded out my squeaky boots for quieter tennis shoes. They are more comfortable, but less durable. I wish I could find pants, but my skirt will have to protect my legs from the cold until I am able to leave this place and move on. I know there is a mall not too far from here, but I fear what may be in that mall now that Legion has overrun the city.

I wander down the educational aisle, full of pencils, stencils, poster paper, and...yes, music books. Cheaply made, highly generic, but they may do just the same to comfort my trembling soul. There is a book here with church hymns within its flimsy pages, and I thumb through to a random page of which I am unable to read the title of the song.

I clear my throat and glance around the dark store, confirming there are no glowing blue eyes anywhere. Then I began to sing, my voice a bit raspy, but melodious just the same.

Your mercy stirs my heart to sing,
a melody I was taught in creation’s womb,
Though the stars fall to the earth, and darkness plagues the land,
Your love will remain,
The flowers of the field will sing Your praise,
and all the world will dance for You,
You, oh Lord, give me light to battle the shadows,
You, oh Lord, give me healing with the pain,
You, oh Lord, give me shelter in the storm,
Oh Lord, I live to give glory to your name!

It isn’t until I pull my face out of the music book that I am startled by the fact that the darkness which once resided with the Mega Dollar Store is gone, and in its place, the light from my wrist is able to fill the entire area with a brilliant light, as if it were daylight within the store.