Friday, September 26, 2014

New Release: The Crossover Alliance Anthology - Volume 1

The day is finally here! I'm proud to announce the release of The Crossover Alliance Anthology - Volume 1. This is a seven author, nine story project that began shortly before the start of the new year. Each short story in this awesome collection falls within the edgy Christian speculative fiction genre. You'll find science fiction, fantasy, and horror. You'll find Christian themes. And you'll also find real-world content. All of it comes together to bring to life unique fiction that I guarantee you have never read the likes of before. Check out the official webpage!

The Anthology is available in paperback and digital formats from the following booksellers:
Amazon.com (paperback)
Createspace (paperback)
Kindle
Nook
Smashwords (free)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The LZR Project - Episode #14 Now Available!

Episode #14 is now available for download in PDF format for your reading pleasure, and best of all, it's only $1 for those not on a series subscription! Check out the official web page for links to individual episodes. Want to subscribe to The LZR Project and only pay once to get a new episode each and every Wednesday - and catch up on back episodes? Head to https://gumroad.com/products/LqzG for more information.

In this episode: Veronica Amorou thought Simper Creed - a crazed human trafficker - was dead. But when she spots the mark of slavery on a fashion colleague, Veronica realizes Simper's network may not be as dead as she thought.

Enjoy!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Flash Fiction Friday #30 - The Girl

The Girl
Doctor Ephod pointed to the young girl behind the viewing glass. She was asleep in the small room, with only four walls and a floor covered in potting soil to keep her company.

"She has the power to create life," Ephod said.

Doctor Curt huffed. "We know that, E. We've been observing her for three months now. She's only done so on two occasions, and both were in rooms full of water. She has yet to do it in this room. What I want to know - what the panel wants to know - is who she is. Where did she come from? What are her origins?"

Ephod watched the young girl intently. Her bare feet and fingernails were caked in soil. Her face hid behind a curtain of long blue hair that acted as a shroud for her countenance. She wore nothing more than a simple purple dress that went to her knees. It was the only thing she had been wearing when they found her in the middle of the crater in the Wastelands.

"You've grown attached to her, haven't you?" Curt asked.

Ephod shook his head adamantly. "No."

"You lie," Curt snapped. The man's thick black eyebrows raised in accusation, like sabers readying to come down to decapitate Ephod. "While you've been watching her, we've been watching you."

Ephod tried not to act surprised at the admission. He had his suspicions that the panel's eyes were all over the research facility, but he didn't know how extensively they had been scrutinizing him. He shrugged, sighed, and pointed to the girl again. "What do you want me to say? She's a beautiful specimen."

"That's all she is, Ephod. A specimen. An alien."

"I know that. I was there when she was discovered."

Curt grumbled something under his breath, but Ephod couldn't make out what.

The girl suddenly shifted, and Ephod felt his heart skip a beat. Curt moved in close to the glass, and they both watched as the girl sat up and moved the hair out from in front of her face. Her eyes glowed a ghastly blue, and her lips were covered in small pieces of dark soil which she brushed away with her thin arm.

She stood to her feet, watching the two doctors as she did. Ephod knew the girl didn't trust them - and she was right not to. She stretched her arms out to her sides and wiggled her fingers and toes.

"What is she doing?" Curt asked.

Ephod shrugged. "I don't know. She doesn't usually do anything other than claw at the soil."

"Yes, I know. But you refused to put into your reports why you think she claws at the soil."

"I never included my thoughts on the subject because I don't know why she claws at the soil. I have an assumption - she's trying to find something to create life from - but since it's just an assumption, I figured the panel didn't want it included in my report."

Curt moved his lips close to Ephod's right ear. "The panel wants to know every damn thought that runs through that tiny head of yours. You're on our dime. We own your thoughts when you're within these walls."

Ephod ignored Curt's intrusive proximity and continued to watch the girl. She simply wiggled her fingers and toes. Nothing more.

Curt moved his face away from Ephod's and grunted. "I have serious doubts about you, Doctor Ephod. Doubts that I find myself having to continually remind the panel of. I think you've been compromised by this subject."

"Why do you say that? I've done exactly what you - and the panel - have asked me to do. I put her in different environments, I observe her day and night, and I turn in reports on my findings. I haven't helped her to escape, I haven't done anything to interfere with the tests. I don't know why you're so suspicious of me."

Curt huffed. "I don't trust you, E, because my gut tells me you're up to no good."

Ephod shrugged and half-smiled at his colleague. "Your gut is wrong. I'm one of the good guys, Doctor Curt."

"That has yet to be seen."

Ephod watched as the girl closed her eyes and lifted her hands above her head. The ground suddenly shook slightly, and the soil near her feet began to shift and crack. A bright green stalk broke through the soil and rose high enough to clear the girl's head to reach the ceiling.

"No!" Curt shouted.

The stalk burst through the stone ceiling allowing for a burst of sunlight to enter the girl's room, bathing her in a warm glow.

Curt ran off down the hallway, no doubt to get security.

The girl opened her eyes and looked directly at Ephod. She lifted her right foot off the soil and stood like a flamingo for a few seconds before she lifted her left foot and floated in the air. She smiled warmly at Ephod, and then she rose out of the opening and into the midday sky.

Doctor Ephod fled down the hallway in the direction opposite Doctor Curt, glad he had been given the chance to smuggle a mound of vine seeds inside the room's soil the night before.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Struck Down, But Not Destroyed

I've been feeling a lot like Batman lately.

If any of you have ever played Arkham Asylum, the video game, then maybe you can relate. In the beginning of the game, Batman escorts the Joker to Arkham to make sure he gets into his new home safe and sound. The Joker of course breaks free, and all hell breaks loose as you are tasked with venturing through Arkham to find and stop the psychotic clown.

The part that I can relate to is Batman's physical appearance by the end of the game. See, at the start of the game you are Batman - you have a fresh, clean superhero outfit, you're fit as a fiddle, strong as an ox. You ooze confidence and strength. But as the game progresses, you'll notice Batman's appearance change. His suit becomes torn and ripped in places, his face and body become a bit bruised and broken. Even his speech begins to sound winded and worn. By the end of the game, you can see the effects of the turmoil that Batman has endured trying to stop his arch enemy.

This last July marked five years that I've been doing this 'author thing' full time. These last five years have been exciting, scary, and challenging. Most people talk about leaving their 9-5 job to take a risk on an entrepreneurship, but they usually have a good savings account to catch their fall or a spouse who is bringing in enough funds to cover the deficit. Not us. We took a step of faith with $0 in our savings account and my wife only making $9/hour in a 32/hour a week job. We stepped out on a promise - that God would watch over us and our finances while I built my career as a writer. (To read more about this promise, grab Of Dreams and Faith.)

I've gone through quite a bit these last five years. I've definitely grown spiritually. I've learned how better to be a dad and a better husband. I've learned to prioritize relationships. I've learned that obedience is better than sacrifice - one of the hardest lessons to learn. I've learned that God knows better than I do, even if I won't always admit it in my heart.

And I've learned a ton about writing, self-publishing, and entrepreneurship. 

But all this learning has come with a price. I feel a lot like Batman at the end of the game. I started out strong, wild-eyed, and full of optimism. Now I feel winded. The bruises and cuts are starting to sting. I can't go very far without having to catch my breath. I'm beginning to wonder when night will break open into dawn.

At the moment, my project list is intentionally slowing to a crawl so I can take the time to take stock of my writing career. Though some might not really consider it a 'career'. I have self-published six fiction novels, one non-fiction book, and one fiction novella...and I have made one digital sale this month. O.N.E. No paperback sales, one digital sale. My 'career' feels like it has come to a complete standstill. Only thing is, this isn't the first month I've seen this. I've had many, many months these last five years that have been in the dumps sales-wise.

It's definitely been more than a little discouraging at times. By the world's standards, I have been incredibly unsuccessful. I've had more than my fair share of critics (including family and friends) whisper in my ear, telling me to go and get a 'real' job. I've struggled hard to grasp marketing strategies, I've struggled to make sense of social networking, and I've struggled to become a 'salesman' to friends, family, and strangers to get them to buy my books.

It's a good thing then that my success isn't defined by this world's standards. God has given me purpose in my writing. These last five years, He has taken care of every one of my needs while I've sat at a desk and bled across the page. And even though I have practically no sales right now, it doesn't mean I am unsuccessful. Even though I am not on a bestseller list somewhere, even though my book isn't found in the front lobby of your local bookstore, even though the internet isn't abuzz with my author moniker - it doesn't make me unsuccessful, as a person or a writer.

I've learned so much about self-publishing these last five years, and I sense God is taking everything I have learned and is bringing me back full circle to the beginning to break through this wall that's been here since day one. God wasn't going to push me through to the next season of my life - a season when I finally harvest the seeds I planted many many winters ago - when I wasn't ready as a person. My character needed some work. My way of thinking needed some work. My perspective on life needed some work.

These five years have been all about growing, all about becoming a man, refined in the fires of experience, ready to walk into this next season. And even though it seems right now that I'm about to go down for the count - and I feel like I'm about to go down for the count - God won't let me. My own steel will won't let me. Through success or failure, I'll keep getting back up in my pursuit of God's promise. I may not be able to see the fruit of my labor right now, but I know it's coming. God doesn't waste His time or ours. Everything has purpose. 

 

Even though I'm in the 153rd round of this fight, I guarantee you I will either win this round or get back up to see my 154th round. And even though I would have liked for this fight to end after the third or fourth round, even though I would have loved to see my writing take off after the first or second year of doing this gig, I'll stick with this until they run out of round numbers.

At times, it seems like the odds of this fight are stacked against me. The odds of the publishing world, the odds of my unique genre taking off, the odds of a nobody crawling to the top of the slush pile. But it doesn't mean that success won't come my way. It will. In God's time. In God's way. God loves working through the underdog, especially the underdog who refuses to give up. His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

2 Corinthians 4:8,9 -
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The LZR Project - Episode #13 Now Available!

Episode #13 is now available for download in PDF format for your reading pleasure, and best of all, it's only $1 for those not on a series subscription! Check out the official web page for links to individual episodes. Want to subscribe to The LZR Project and only pay once to get a new episode each and every Wednesday - and catch up on back episodes? Head to https://gumroad.com/products/LqzG for more information.

In this episode: When a mysterious girl approaches Carrie Green with a rumor that Alex Waterford is still alive, Carrie travels to Lysallis University to prove the girl wrong. But what she finds is more than just the spirit of a dead foe...

Enjoy!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Flash Fiction Friday #29 - Jeran and Emily

This week's piece is actually a rough part of a prequel to one of the stories you'll find in the upcoming anthology I am a part of. The story this is a prequel of is called Doors of Babel, and the anthology - The Crossover Alliance - Anthology Volume 1 - will be due out September 26. If Jeran and Emily's last name - Huxley - sounds familiar, it's because this story and the one in the anthology are actually prequels to my novella, Drather's Story. Enjoy!

Jeran and Emily
The sirens wailed in the distance. In another reality, at another time, those same sirens would have been used to signal some kind of natural disaster – such as a tornado or a hurricane. But not in this dark age. The sirens were indicating the approaching raiding party.

Jeran Huxley tied the front of her long sweater and rushed into the small bedroom where Emily slept. The six-year-old girl was fast asleep, dreaming – one would presume – of ponies and dollhouses. Jeran hated having to jolt the girl awake, but if they didn’t escape before the raiding party arrived, they would be killed, raped, or something worse.

“What is it, Mommy?” Emily groaned as Jeran shook the girl somewhat violently. “I was dreaming.”

“I know, Honey, but we have to go. Remember what I taught you? Remember the drills?”
Emily rubbed her eyes and sat up in her bed. “Yeah. I remember.”

“Get out of bed, get dressed, get your bag, and meet me in the living room.”

“What are those sirens, Mommy? They’re loud.”

Jeran brushed her hand through the girl’s tangled hair and grinned. “I know. They won’t be on forever. Get dressed. I’m going to grab our other things.”

Jeran left Emily to follow through with the actions she had taught her. Jeran rushed down the dark hallway and entered their lit kitchen where a duffle bag half full of canned food sat on the counter. Jeran continued filling it from the open cupboard above the refrigerator, her mind racing to remember the drills she had run her and her daughter through every other day.

She finished packing the duffle bag, zipped it closed, and set it on the floor before rushing into the living room for another bag she had on the couch, half full of weapons and ammunition. She double checked the three pistols within, making sure they were loaded and ready to fire, and then zipped up the bag, satisfied she could aptly defend her daughter if need be.

As was her habit the last few days, Jeran glanced at a photograph on the bookshelf. In it, she, Emily, and Jeran’s husband, Jed, stood in a field of green grass against an Arizona sunset backdrop.

“You wanted to walk out on us, bastard? Fine.” She slammed the picture frame on its face, shattering the glass.

The sirens stopped. Jeran went to the large window and peered through the blinds on the street outside. Orange lamps filled the road with an ugly glow. She saw neighbors from the house next door packing up their vehicle. They were frantic, without a plan, and probably headed to their deaths. Jeran had tried to talk sense into them weeks earlier, tried to warn them about the impending raid, but they wouldn’t listen to her.

Most didn’t listen to her.

Most in their town believed Legion and the falling stars to be a fairytale. The stars hadn’t fallen over Jennastad, so why would anyone believe the news reports that they had fallen elsewhere?
Most believed the stories about Nathan Pierce, his sister Daisy, and the President of the United States to be a fabrication. A ruse. A conspiracy.

Not Jeran. She believed everything. And when she heard that a nearby prison had failed to keep its inmates within its fortified walls after a freak supernatural incident occurred to kill the guards instantly, she knew it would only be a matter of time before those prisoners decided to pour out into the nearest town – their town. The crier – a man by the name of Joseph – believed her, and did his best to hold town meetings to warn of the impending raid. Few listened. But because of Joseph, the siren had been activated tonight. Lives had been saved.

Did you get to safety, Joseph, or is your body hanging from an upside-down cross somewhere in town?

“I’m ready, Mommy!”

Startled, Jeran swung around and caught her breath when she found her daughter standing in the middle of the living room with her pink backpack strung across her back.

“Good, Honey. Now, go grab the bag of food from the kitchen, and let’s get going.”

Her daughter rushed off to the other room while Jeran peered through her blinds once again. Her neighbors were pulling out of the driveway in their beat up station wagon.

Gunfire suddenly filled the street. The windows of the vehicle shattered and the car rolled backwards into the wall across the street. Jeran noticed a group of men entering the street from the right of her house. Each was armed with a rifle, and each was clothed in a blue jumpsuit – prison garb.

Jeran rushed from the window and went straight to the kitchen where Emily was told to go. But the girl was nowhere in sight.

“Emily?” Jeran whispered. She quickly flipped the light switch off and made her way down the dark hallway, peering in Emily’s room, the master bedroom, and even the bathroom only to find no sign of her daughter. “Emily?”

She opened the door to the garage and gasped when she saw a woman in a black skirt and black blazer standing next to their SUV, Emily’s hand in hers.

“Let go of my daughter,” Jeran growled. “Now.”

The woman nodded and let go of Emily’s hand. Emily slowly drew to Jeran’s side. “She said her name is Sarah,” Emily said.

“What are you doing in my home?”

“I’m here to help,” the woman answered.

More gunfire rang out beyond the walls of the garage. Jeran heard screaming in the distance.

“Who are you?”

“My name is Sarah. Jed sent me to retrieve you two and bring you somewhere safe.”

“My husband never mentioned your name. Get the hell out of my garage.”

“Your husband hasn’t been here for the last week, has he? You thought he ran out on you, didn’t you?”

Jeran put her palms over Emily’s ears. “He’s a bastard. He left us in the middle of the night. I haven’t heard from him since.”

“He’s been working with me to find a place of safety for you and your family. He knew if he told you about it, you would want to follow him. He didn’t want you to get hurt.” Sarah put her hands in the air. “I’m not here to hurt you. I have no weapon. I just want to take you to a place of safety. A place far from here.”

Jeran heard more gunfire, only this time it sounded like it was just outside the garage door. “Let me grab a few things, and we’ll go with you.”

“Excellent,” Sarah said, lowering her arms to her sides. “Jed will be very happy to see you.”

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The LZR Project - Episode #12 Now Available!

Episode #12 is now available for download in PDF format for your reading pleasure, and best of all, it's only $1 for those not on a series subscription! Check out the official web page for links to individual episodes. Want to subscribe to The LZR Project and only pay once to get a new episode each and every Wednesday - and catch up on back episodes? Head to https://gumroad.com/products/LqzG for more information.

In this episode: While David Corbin's pacifist ideals are commended by Howard Grey during a meeting showcasing Grey's experimental technology, David is informed that an enemy unlike any he's ever seen is readying an attack on Anaisha - an attack that may force him to change his views on non-violent means to take down his opponents.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The LZR Project - Episode #11 Now Available!

Episode #11 is now available for download in PDF format for your reading pleasure, and best of all, it's only $1 for those not on a series subscription! Check out the official web page for links to individual episodes. Want to subscribe to The LZR Project and only pay once to get a new episode each and every Wednesday - and catch up on back episodes? Head to https://gumroad.com/products/LqzG for more information.

In this episode: After the Lazerblades fail in their attempt to capture Mr. Big, Cybil Corbin - aka Persimmon - decides to take matters into her own hands and returns to the crime scene to find blackmail to sway her brother's actions.

Enjoy!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Flash Fiction Friday #28 - Tiffany Sweet

This week's Flash Fiction Fridays piece is a sneak peek at the some of the background of one of the characters from my Expired Reality series. I actually wrote out the background to this particular character during National Novel Writing Month 2009, and hope to publish that novella at some point in the near future.

In the meantime, enjoy today's short nugget.

Tiffany Sweet
Jensen Alcon stepped three feet to his left and stood in front of the next research pod. This one was particularly larger than the last three he had done a routine checkup on – it was bigger, more advanced in its technical workings, and was being used to isolate a human rather than a creature like the others. The stainless steel surface of the cylinder-shaped chamber glistened under the fluorescent lighting of the lab, adding a hint of refinement to the somewhat macabre task at hand.

Jensen held his clipboard out in front of him and cleared his throat. He didn’t like participating in experiments on humans, but – as his colleague, Roc, had put it, Wedges weren’t normal humans. They were super powered beings, putting them in a classification of their own.

Jensen only half believed that lie. He half believed it so he could move forward and do the work he was getting paid to do. Squelching his conscience was just part of the job.

“Subject 7A4T,” he said, hoping Roc – who was monitoring him from the security panel in the other room – wasn’t paying attention to how nervous this made Jensen feel.

“Just get it over with, man,” Roc’s voice boomed over the lab’s speakers.

“Leave me alone,” Jensen said.

“I want to go to lunch. They have that buffet place that just opened down the road. Hurry up so we can get there before the crowds show up.”

Jensen sighed and read aloud the fact sheet on his clipboard. “Subject 7A4T. Name: Tiffany Sweet. Age: 16. Family is deceased. Mother was a baker, and her father owned a bookstore. Tiffany’s powers are…erratic.” Jensen glanced up at the camera in the ceiling that he knew Roc was watching him through. “Erratic? That’s all it says here. Is that why her powers were put into dormancy?”

“Just read the sheet, man. Nobody really cares what it says. Just read it for the record, open the chamber, and check on the experiment before naming it.”

“She’s not an experiment, Roc. She’s a human being.”

“Man, we’ve been through this.”

“You have your way of dealing with things, and I have mine. I don’t want to think of her as a test tube or a beaker. She’s a young female. A human. Endowed, maybe, with powers beyond our comprehension. But still human.”

“Just finish your damn job so we can eat, man! I’m starving!”

Jensen input his sixteen-digit alphanumeric code into the security panel on the front of the chamber and stepped back as the chamber hissed. White mist swirled up from the bottom of the unit as the front shield lifted up to reveal the female within.

Her appearance shocked Jensen for more than just a mere moment. She was nude, and her arms and legs were strapped into the chamber by a silver-colored flexible alloy known as Silvertech. Nobody had ever escaped Silvertech, nor had anyone ever destroyed Silvertech. Jensen briefly remembered reading a newspaper article about the Eneran military wanting to use Silvertech to build their tanks.

He shuddered at the thought of indestructible tanks.

The girl’s breasts were covered by her long, pink hair that had grown down to her hips. The most striking trait about her though was her bright turquoise-colored eyes. In the chamber, their ‘experiments’ were put into cryo sleep – which happened immediately upon activation – and caught some of their subjects with their eyes open.

“Are you getting off on the experiment, man? Hurry up!”

“She’s…stunning. Not her flesh. Her hair. Her eyes. One could get lost in those eyes…” Jensen mused.

“We need to get you a girlfriend. I heard there’s a lot of women that eat at that new buffet down the road.”

“I’m not looking at her like that, Roc. There’s something special about her. I can’t place my finger on it.”

“Just name her, and let’s go. My stomach is crying out somethin’ fierce!”

“Alright. I’ll name her…Turquoise. Turquoise Wedge.”

“Great. You named your new girlfriend. Now, can we eat, please?”

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The LZR Project - Episode #10 Now Available!

Episode #10 is now available for download in PDF format for your reading pleasure, and best of all, it's only $1 for those not on a series subscription! Check out the official web page for links to individual episodes. Want to subscribe to The LZR Project and only pay once to get a new episode each and every Wednesday - and catch up on back episodes? Head to https://gumroad.com/products/LqzG for more information.

In this episode: The Lazerblades lead a raid on Mr. Big's warehouse in hopes of finding his mysterious assistant, Shaonna Ryshay. But when an outsider interferes with the operation, Veronica finds that her task to kill Shaonna is just the beginning of a long night.

Enjoy!