Monday, October 20, 2014

Special Giveaway - Full Fiction Library!

If you head over to Tiffany Cole's blog post, you can enter a special giveaway for a chance to win my full fiction library (eight books) in digital format - Kindle, Nook, whatever device you're reading on.

This giveaway is for:
Black Earth: End of the Innocence
Black Earth: The Broken Daisy
Black Earth: Dark Masquerade
Black Earth: Exodus
Endangered Memories - an Expired Reality novel
Lost Birth - an Expired Reality novel
Drather's Story - an Expired Reality novella
The Crossover Alliance Anthology - Volume 1 (a multi-author short story collection)

This giveaway runs for the next four days, so enter it now while you can!

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Friday Muse - The Wounded Crow

Today's muse piece is another contest entry that I did for the Writing.com October NaNo Prep Challenge. This one asked for a short back story to my antagonist, who in this story happens to a be Ryn - a familiar character to those of you who have read the second half of my Black Earth series. This short snippet sees Ryn as a child when he first starts to fall in love with crows...

The Wounded Crow - 
“You know, you’re not allowed to have animals here,” Jameson said as he shook his finger at Ryn.

Ryn ignored the young boy and set the wounded crow on the dresser. “Can you fetch me some bandages?”

Jameson crossed his arms and sighed. “Really? You’re not going to listen to me, even after the last time you got in trouble? I warned you then too. It took you three weeks to finish cleaning the kitchen area.”

Ryn slammed his fist on the top of the dresser, and then immediately cooed the crow to calm down. Once the crow steadied, Ryn turned and scowled at his friend. “Get me some bandages or get out. I have to help him.”

Jameson opened the top drawer of the dresser and pointed in the bottom left corner. “Right there.”
By the weakening candlelight, Ryn could make out a cream-colored roll of bandages wedged next to his some men’s undergarments. He took the bandages and began dressing the crow’s broken wing.

“You know, it’s not a him,” Jameson said. “It’s a crow. An animal. A Filth.”

“I know what everyone else thinks he is. But he’s a crow, and I have to help him. I couldn’t just let him die out there in the darkness.”

“Crow’s love the dark.”

Ryn finished dressing the crow’s wounds and set the bandages back in the dresser drawer before shutting it. He stroked the bird’s beak. “I have to name him.”

“Name him?”

“Yes. Shadow.”

“That’s appropriate. You know, if the counsel leaders find out you have ‘him’, they’ll boot you and it out of the kingdom. They’ll even boot me out if they find out I helped you.”

Ryn waved his friend away. “Then get lost. I don’t need this grief. Everyone here talks so much about mercy and honor, and yet they’d stone us if they found out we helped a suffering animal?”

“It’s Filth. Filth isn’t allowed in the kingdom for obvious reasons, Ryn. I don’t even want to be around that thing. I’m here because you’re my friend. And if you get in trouble again, you’re going to need my communication skills to get you out of it.”

“Yes, I suppose you do come in handy.”

A loud bell rang out, the sound rushing through the glassless window on the other side of the room.

Jameson gasped. “The king’s making an announcement!”

Ryn took the bird into his hands. “Go. I’ll catch up with you. I have to find a place to hide him.”

Jameson huffed. “Okay, but hurry. If the king doesn’t see you in the plaza, he’ll ask me what’s up. I can’t keep lying for you.”

“Just go,” Ryn snapped.

Jameson hurried out of the room.

Alone with the crow, Ryn let a grin steal his face.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The LZR Project - Episode #17 Now Available!

Episode #17 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 a clandestine meeting with Mr. Big, Sean Amorou heads to the Pleasure District to meet a new contact known only as Viper. But which will be more lethal - the secret weaponry Sean is there to pick up, or the independent contractor who's as venomous as a snake?

Enjoy!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Christians and Writing and Stirring the Pot

Is it okay for Christians to stir the pot with their fictional writing, to raise questions we know will receive negative reactions or challenge millenia-old beliefs? Are we allowed to put words to paper that may end up tearing down the strongholds of 'religious' thinking? Are we heretics if we write anything other than G-rated Christian fiction?

These are questions I found myself pondering last week. On the tail end of releasing a multi-author anthology filled with stories that define the edgy Christian speculative fiction genre, I can already sense the naysayers peeking around the corners, sniffing for blood. "Christian fiction can't have edgy content," they grumble. "Cursing and violence are absolutely prohibited in your novels - if you call yourself a Christian writer." "You wrote a story that had sexual content in it? You're a pervert, plain and simple." "Why would anyone write about alcoholism, kidnapping, murder? Dismemberment? GASP!" *faints*

All sarcasm aside, I'm not surprised when edgy material (ie adult content, violence, cursing) in Christian fiction causes a stir. There are many professing Christians who hold to the belief that including edgy content in Christian fiction is the same as having a bag of week-old trash on the dining room table during Thanksgiving dinner. It just doesn't belong. It stinks, it's filthy, and it distracts from the beauty of the dining room table.

I've finally come to realize that this stir that's constantly being caused because of what I write is actually a good thing. What I write isn't just challenging the boundaries of 'Christian' fiction with the nature of the story itself, but also with the content found within these stories. Did you know that Jesus caused controversy? It's true, despite what version of the Bible you may have read as a child. He was constantly turning everyone's beliefs upside down. He was constantly questioning - and debunking - the status quo. He stretched - and sometimes broke through - the boundaries of peoples' beliefs to show them a new way of thinking, a non-'religious' way of thinking. He came to bring truth, and sometimes the truth goes against the very structure - mental, religious, physical - that people have established within and around themselves.

To break through these boundaries is exactly my reason for writing edgy Christian speculative fiction. When I first penned Black Earth: End of the Innocence, I realized that everything I had written before was based on my childhood belief that Christian fiction had to be squeaky clean - that 'Christian' meant 'Family Friendly'. I couldn't have curse words, I couldn't have any kind of sexual content, I couldn't have anything that resembled more than cartoon violence - and sometimes even that was going too far.

These are things I told myself based on what I saw in the publishing market, in our culture, and in our Christian community. I think that's why I stayed close to the Young Adult genre as I grew up, because it more easily catered to squeaky clean Christian beliefs. But once I started writing out the rape scene that occurs in my novel, End of the Innocence, I felt...well...free. Not just as a person, but as a writer. The scene was written according to what the story demanded. I didn't go into ridiculous and senseless detail, but I didn't shy away from the subject matter either. My character needed to be raped for her story to have purpose, and I couldn't just write, "She was raped. The next day...". Omission works well for some things, but I don't subscribe to the 'rule' that omission is the solution in every single storyline, in every single book.

Here's the way I look at it. If you have a light bulb, you don't stay in a brightly lit room with it. You travel to a dark room and install that light bulb to bring the light to other areas of the building. You don't need a light bulb in a room that is filled with constant sunshine. That light bulb is needed in the room that has no windows, that is filled with shadow. But in taking the light bulb to other dark rooms, you have to encounter the darkness. You don't know there is a need for that light bulb until you encounter that darkness and recognize it as darkness.

I think some Christians who are writers have steered away from being controversial in all the right ways because they are either afraid of being rejected by the Christian community (or the secular community), or they are too busy being 'religious' about the wrong things. I know that first one applies to me. I struggle with wanting everyone to approve of everything I do. I want to keep the peace, I want everyone to get along. I don't want to rock the boat because it will disrupt my daily routine. I don't want the Christian community coming at me with pitchforks because they don't understand - or don't want to take the time to try and understand - why I write what I write.

I know that many Christians read Christian fiction so they don't have to confront worldly things like they would have to in much of the secular fiction that is out there. But writing and reading about the contrast between good and evil is writing and reading about life. You can stick your head in a book and pretend the darkness isn't there. But once you get done with your book and take a good look at the world around you, you'll find that we live in a dark and fallen world full of crime, tragedy, and constant strife.

But we have a savior who died to save all of us from that darkness, a bright light against this tapestry of darkness. And I write what I write to take that light to the dark rooms of the human soul.

photo credit: neonzu1 via photopin cc

photo credit: josemanuelerre via photopin cc

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Friday Muse - Salt's Punishment

As I mentioned in my big update post a few days ago, I'm doing away with Flash Fiction Friday and switching my Fridays to The Friday Muse. Flash Fiction Friday required me to write flash fiction every friday, and much of the time I wasn't writing flash fiction according to its definition. Instead, The Friday Muse will allow me to put up character sketches, brief stories, or notes on projects I'm working on to give all of you a glimpse into my process as a writer.

Today's piece is actually a brief story that I had to write for the Writing.com October NaNo Prep Challenge. This is a protagonist backstory for my upcoming NaNoWriMo novel. Enjoy!


Salt's Punishment - 
"Your crimes against these women is deplorable," Judge Sacrot grumbled into the microphone from high up on the judge's bench overlooking the arena.

Salt looked around him at the massive crowd filling seats in the arena, their faces painted red in mixtures of anger and malice. He shifted his wrists in the metal restraints behind him, dismayed that his own community would rise against him. Those women deserved what happened to them, he thought. Judge Sacrot will never see it that way, though. He is corrupt, as is the entire government of this world.

Judge Sacrot sighed, the sound mimicking a gust of wind through the arena's speaker system. "Salt, we will forever be grateful for the help you have given us in the past. You saved our kingdom from the Hemotpots. You saved us with your ingenuity when the drought came. You've have been instrumental in our survival here on Eckor."

The crowd booed and hissed. Judge Sacrot allowed them to release their verbal rage upon the man standing in the center of the arena.

Salt glanced down at his feet. His thick brown boots were sprinkled in the ash that covered the entire floor of the arena. The ash came from the Hert volcano to the south, and filled the underground caverns via the wind currents that swept through the main tunnel entrance from Spring Valley.

Salt felt the scarf covering the bottom half of his face slipping and thought to ask one of the guards that were posted on each side of him if they could readjust it for him. The ash did nothing but disrupt his breathing when he came into contact with too much of it. The scarf helped block the ash from getting into his nostrils and then into his lungs, but with the high concentration of it in the arena, he wouldn't last long before it began to upset his chest.

The booing and hissing finally died down after a minute or so. Judge Sacrot moved his mouth to the microphone again. "You understand, Salt, that even though you have been a hero in the past does not excuse your crimes now? This crowd wants blood. This crowd is outraged by your venomous behavior these last couple of days. What do you have to say for yourself?"

Silence filled the arena as all eyes turned toward Salt. The guard to his right reached over and gently pulled down the scarf from Salt's mouth so he could speak.

Salt cleared his throat and spoke loudly to the crowd around him. "I have nothing to say for myself. You labeled me your hero when it was convenient for you. And now you have labeled me your enemy just the same. Those four women that I maimed were out to destroy this community. You think I raped them? You all think I did heinous things to their bodies, things that your mind does not want to grasp? I did. But I did it to protect all of you. All four of those women were imposters, fakes, charlatans. They started a brothel, for crying out loud. And you did nothing to stop it. They poured out their perversion upon our community by tainting the fine men of this place. They even tried to taint me.

"That's when I gave them a taste of the medicine they wanted so badly."

The booing and hissing returned with a vengeance. Salt could not raise his voice high enough to compete with it, so he stood silent, dreading what was to come next. The crowd wanted blood, and Salt knew Judge Sacrot - with how corrupt he was - would give them exactly what they craved.

Judge Sacrot shouted into the microphone, calming everyone. The roar died, and for a second before Judge Sacrot continued, Salt could hear nothing but a simple shuffling of feet in the stadium seats. It would be a good time to run, if there were not guards posted around every entrance and exit of the arena.

"Salt," Judge Sacrot continued, "you have been judged by your peers. You are hereby sentenced to the punishment withheld for those who have committed such acts as you have. By raping, you have stolen a woman's innocence. By mutilating the flesh, you have stolen pieces of their identity. In return, you will be stripped of your own identity."

The guards on both sides of Salt drew closer to him, fearing he would run. But there was nowhere to run. This was the end of the line.

Judge Sacrot continued. "You will be properly disfigured, mutilated as those four women were. Your fingerprints will be taken from you. And, because one of those women was my daughter, you will have your memory stripped from you. I do not want my oldest daughter moving through that sick mind of yours any longer. You will no longer be Salt. You will be a nobody on the outside, because you are a nobody on the inside."

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The LZR Project - Episode #16 Now Available!

Episode #16 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: Arriving in the city known as Destiny, Veronica Amorou confronts XS. With the chance to finally kill the leader of Anaisha's most notorious human trafficking ring, Veronica is forced to choose between pursuing vengeance or saving innocent lives.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Change of Season

Phew! It's been a crazy couple of months. We (as in The Crossover Alliance) just published our very first anthology of edgy Christian speculative fiction. I'm about to (finally) finish work on the multi-book digital packs of my Black Earth series. And, I redid all of the covers for the books in my Expired Reality series - a fact that I am very proud of. I mean, just look at the new cover to Lost Birth! 

Anyway, now that all of that is behind me, I have finally found some time to settle down a bit and start sketching out my project list for the next year. Fall, I think, is the perfect time to do so. The leaves are changing, the air is cooling, and you can just smell change. Or is that pumpkin spiced latte?

Either way, change is definitely in the air. There are a slew of changes I am about to make to my online presence, and there is a beautiful batch of new projects (and some old) that I am going to be working on over the course of the next year.

Let's take a look at some of them, shall we?

Goodbye Facebook Page - 
Yep, I'm going to delete my Facebook Page. Not my personal profile, but my author Page. Facebook has changed drastically since the first day I set up my Page, and now, even though I have 486 people liking the page, the most FB has allowed to see a single post in the last month or so is 37. That's 37 people out of 486 that were 'allowed' to even see a post that I put on my Page. It's challenging enough trying to get people to like a post or interact with it in some way, now I have to pay FB in order for people who have already proclaimed they like my Page to see the contents of my Page?



No thanks. I don't have the time or energy to fight with FB, and my time and energy could be better spent investing in Twitter - which I will be doing more of. My plan is to get rid of my FB Page in the next few weeks, so this is your heads up.

Goodbye Flash Fiction Fridays - 
Don't worry, I'm just saying goodbye to the title. I'm still going to write something each week and post it on Fridays. It just may not be flash fiction. By definition, flash fiction needs to be a complete story, and some of what I have been writing for Flash Fiction Fridays are not complete stories but character sketches, themes, world building, etc.

Flash Fiction Fridays will now be known as The Friday Muse, and will continue this coming Friday.





Hello Blog - 
As I mentioned in an earlier post, this blog has been lacking in content. I've really just been using it to mention new episodes of The LZR Project, Flash Fiction Fridays, or...well, that's been about it. From now on, a new post will go up every Monday, and the topics will range from my experiences with self-publishing, the challenges of writing/publishing my unique genre, or I'll just muse about how great the life of a writer is - I do get to kill off characters who don't agree with me. I love being a writer.

NaNoWriMo 2014 - 
It's that time of year again! With National Novel Writing Month right around the corner (November 1st), I have started the Writing.com October NaNoWriMo Prep Challenge. Each day in the month of October, I sketch out the setting, characters, and themes to my upcoming NaNoWriMo novel to get ready for the frantic November month of writing.

This year, my NaNoWriMo project is something I am especially excited for, because the story itself benefits both of my fictional series. I decided to write out the back story to Legion, the vile alien species responsible for the destruction of multitudes of planets in both of my series. Legion is one of the prime villains in my Black Earth series, and is an almost viler villain in my Expired Reality series, especially in the later novels to come. This will truly be an exciting novel to write, and my plan is to publish it Spring/Summer 2015.

Other Projects This Next Year -
The third novel in my Expired Reality series (written/published)
Audio dramas
Black Earth short stories
Desperate Betrayal (Expired Reality series short story)
The Crossover Alliance Anthology - Volume 2
Two special top-secret projects (one a novel, the other a mini-series)

Look for more from me in the coming weeks, especially on Twitter, my blog, and my email newsletter. Speaking of which, if you haven't signed up for it yet, you can at this link. Until next time! I have some projects to work on...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The LZR Project - Episode #15 Now Available!

Episode #15 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 heads to the city of Destiny to find and kill a man by the name of XS. But while she pursues a disturbing remnant of Simper Creed's human trafficking organization, she finds a city that doesn't quite belong on Anaisha.

Enjoy!

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!