The Crossover Alliance – Grand Opening

Grand Opening Banner2I am so incredibly excited to announce the launch of The Crossover Alliance, a unique online publishing company specializing in edgy Christian speculative fiction. Authors who enjoy writing Christ-themed speculative fiction containing real-world content now have a home for their manuscripts. With our Grand Opening finally here, there’s a lot of exciting news we would like to share with all of you!

Now Accepting Novel/Novella Submissions:
We are now accepting novel/novellas submissions – the guidelines of which can be found on our website. Along with the submission guidelines, you can also find a brief list of some of the things we are able to offer authors here in our first year as a publishing company, including royalties, cover design, and various rights via our publishing contract.

Our First Catalog Entry:
Our first book, The Crossover Alliance Anthology – Volume 1, is now available for purchase through Amazon (and soon Nook and Apple), and DRM-free digital versions can be purchased off our own website.

TCA Anthology V1 Kindle Cover

Our 2015 Catalog List:
We are also excited to announce our catalog schedule for the remainder of the year. These are the books we plan on releasing between now and January 2016:

David N. Alderman’s End of the Innocence – Release August
Mark Carver’s Beast – Release September
Jess Hanna’s Adverse Possession – Release October
TCA Anthology – Volume 2 – Release November

Our Giveaway:
In celebration of our grand opening, we are running a giveaway in which you can score a full year digital subscription to our catalog, double packs of our anthologies, and paperback editions of our first short story anthology. There are many ways to enter, and some of the ways can be repeated on a daily basis. The giveaway runs until August 9th.

Enter here!
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The Friday Muse – Silhouettes

 The Friday Muse (Cropped)

Today’s Muse piece is pretty short, but it opens up possibilities for a new character somewhere in one of my series. It’s interesting to think someone could have special vision that allows them to see a color contrast of people’s sin, though not know what their sins are specifically. I may have to follow this muse down the rabbit hole one of these days…

Silhouettes

My eyes may someday be my downfall. Would it be better to be blind? Would it be the best thing if I carved these tiny orbs out of my head and simply covered the dark recesses with a decorative blindfold? I’ve considered it many times. Many times. But I couldn’t do that. I have an aversion to pain. And I like being able to see.

But I don’t like being able to see the black and blue. I peer out across the concourse of the main subway station and I see a sea of black silhouettes – people. People like me, going to and from their daily routines. Nothing out of the ordinary. No terrorist bomber in the station. No nuclear holocaust. Nothing to cause alarm. Not with them, anyway.

Amid those black silhouettes the blue bleeds out like paint. Some have more than others. There are some I have to stare at for a moment to find the blue. But the thing about the blue is that it’s always there on each and every one of them. Each is a spotted lamb. Each is a marred creation.

Each has sinned.

mom-and-daughter-vector-illustration_f1Cs_zd_ (Resized)The power I have been given is more a nuisance than anything else. It’s what I do with the knowledge this power grants me that is the real curse. I cannot help myself. The blue gives me desire to cleanse the silhouettes and make them black again. To erase the sin. To rid my vision of that horrible blue that reminds me of the sky in the middle of a sunny day.

There are some who I approach and convince to repent. Sometimes I get to see them weeks later and their silhouette is much cleaner than before. It makes me somewhat glad, but it does not take away this pain I have within me. The pain of insanity. So much blue. Some who I approach don’t listen to me, and I am tempted to purge them of the blue completely and finally.

There is one silhouette I cannot look upon though. One particular silhouette that if I were to see, I would fall off the ledge of anxiety and sink into utter madness.

My own.

A Look Back – My First Book Release Party

Back in October of 2009 I released the first self-published book in my Black Earth series, End of the Innocence. I then did my very first book release party and author signing. Held in the church I was attending at the time, I invited friends and family to come and hear me read a chapter from my book, purchase books, and stand in line to get my autograph. It was an awesome time, and definitely not an event I will ever forget. Needless to say, it was a bit surreal with family and friends who would normally never be in the same room with one another come out to support me and my writing.

In the spirit of looking back, here’s some awesome pics that were taken at the party. I managed to do another book release party when the second book in the series came out, but none since.

The Friday Muse – Spotlight

The Friday Muse (Cropped)
It’s Friday, which means another snippet of fiction! This story definitely has the potential to grow into something greater – like a novel or novella – but for now, it makes a great short piece that tells quite a bit about a demonic attack, a father’s love, and a devastating disease.

Spotlight
Jackson waited until the little pink figure shot up from behind the garbage cans before he let loose a series of shots from his rifle, plastering the insides of the creature across the outside of his garage door. He turned and spotted the faint pink color of an arm or a leg peeking out from behind the thick mailbox post. A series of shots tore the post apart – and the demon who was hiding behind it, scattering wood and tender flesh across the asphalt road.

“Where’s that damn light?” he called out. Waiting for a response from the other side of the garage door, he spotted another demon scurrying up the large pine tree in front of his house like a squirrel. Jackson blew a hole in the foliage, destroying the foul beast before Kara answered him from within the garage.

“Almost there! Just a few more wires to connect.”

“Well hurry up!” he shouted, glancing down at his rifle. He knew he only had a handful of bullets left. After that, he would have to retreat into the garage, grab Kara, and flee into the dark neighborhood. With his house being the only one with power – generated from an electric generator he had purchased on a whim some years back – it was the only lit up spot in the neighborhood. But it left the property looking like a bug light in a dark field. Every manner of evil was closing in on them now. Jackson surmised that if Kara could get the two spotlights in the garage working – souvenirs from the ten years he worked at the Brickstone nightclub before it went out of business – he could use the lights to keep the vermin away long enough to fix the truck so he and Kara could get out of here and flee to the location of the ringing bells emanating from the center of town.

“Done!” Kara shouted. The loud shuffling of the garage door opening up made Jackson nervous. Demons began moving toward his driveway quicker, as if the sound of the garage enticed. Jackson shot one, then another, cringing as guts and blood spewed out across his concrete.

He walked backwards until he was at the giant spotlight. Kara’s face was pale under the garage lighting. Her once ruby red lips were doused in purple bruises, and her gorgeous eyes – emerald in color – were black and blue. The disease was taking its toll, and Jackson had to force himself to focus on the task at hand and not on the time that Kara might or might not have left.

He waited until a cluster of the hideous demons were at the entrance to his garage, each one hesitant to step inside for fear of the light that spilled from the lamps overhead. Jackson grinned and then flipped the switch on the spotlight. A bright spark and a loud buzz were followed by the lights going out, leaving them in complete darkness.

Jackson aimed the rifle in front of him, straining his eyes to see the demonic figures in the dark. Kara held tightly to his arm, her grip weaker than before. “Just stay calm, sweetcakes.”

“I don’t…” her grip vanished from his arm, and he heard her topple to the floor.

“Kara?” he called out, refusing to lower himself to the ground or lower the weapon. He strained his hearing, listening for the pitter patter of demon feet. They covered the whole entrance of the garage now. “Kara? We just have to check the circuit breakers, okay? We might have blown a fuse. Kara?”

He heard her coughing, spitting something up. Probably the orange goop she had coughed up earlier.

“Kara, honey, I need you to get to your feet and come with me, okay?”

“Leave me…”

“No, damnit! Get to your feet!”

His vision adapted to the dark, and he could see a multitude of dark shadows, short and brightly colored, gathering at the entrance to his garage. He knew he didn’t have enough ammo in the rifle to kill them all. He could go out the back way…but he didn’t want to leave without Kara.

“Human.” The voice, low and scratchy, definitely originated from a female somewhere amidst the crowd in front of him. He wondered if it might be the witch, Evanescence. “Your time is up.”

“I won’t go down without a fight.”

“But you will go down.”

Jackson finally lowered himself, keeping his rifle steady on his knee with one hand. He used the other hand to reach back for Kara. Her body trembled something fierce. “Are you still with me, Kara?”

“Cold…” she whispered.

Jackson thought he saw one of the demons charge into the garage. He fired a shot, heard flesh splatter, and the raspy voice chuckle. He stood to his feet. “Come at me. What are you waiting for?”

“We don’t wait. We anticipate. You are meal to us.”

He fired another shot, hit another demon. Another shot, another casualty. Four more rounds went out, and the fifth clicked empty in his gun. He held the rifle out in front of him, ready to defend himself to the death. Kara coughed, wheezed, and then went silent. He knew she was gone from this plane. His beloved was dead.

Blue dots suddenly appeared in the distance, behind the gathering unit of demons. Dozens of dots. Then hundreds. Then thousands. Jackson squinted and strained his vision, realizing they weren’t dots but eyes. Blue glowing eyes.

“This victory goes to the Almighty!” a thunderous voice shouted just before Jackson’s eyes were blinded by radiant light.

A Look Back: My First Book Signing

In a couple of weeks I will be opening the doors (officially) to the small online publishing company that has been in the works, The Crossover Alliance. This is no small feat, but it is definitely one I am very excited to be a part of. And seeing that I’ve gone from self-published author to publisher (and still a self-published author), I thought it fitting that I share some of my self-published author exploits from years past with all of you. These are all very old blog posts that I put up on my old Blogger blog.

The first trip down memory lane takes us to my very first book signing. I was so incredibly nervous, and as happened with most of my book-signings going forward from this point, it usually took me about 2-3 hours to get comfortable in my settings before I really started interacting with the crowds. I’ve gotten much better at this now – thanks to practice – but it’s definitely funny to look back at these moments and realize this is where I got my start.

Here’s that old post in its entirety, with a couple extra pictures that I found of me and my wife (a little blurry), and me and my wife’s cousin, Scott. Keep in mind this took place at a bookstore that no longer exists in Arizona – Borders – in November of 2009.

This last Saturday, I had my very first book signing. Borders Books and Music in Mesa, Arizona was my first spot and I had a blast doing it there. The store staff was more than friendly, the accommodations for my signing were wonderful and I just had a great time overall.

Book Signing (3)All in all, I ended up selling 15 copies of Black Earth: End of the Innocence, 11 of those going to complete strangers. I had a great time meeting new people and seeing just how supportive some can be of independent self-published authors.

This signing really helped me to get over my nervousness of being in front of people I don’t know. I managed to stand the 5 hours at the front door of the store and hand out fliers with my book info, cover, ISBN#, price and places online it can be bought at. I also took a break here and there and walked the entire store, handing out the fliers to anyone I may have missed. This location of Borders has two entrances, and since I was only able to cover one, it left a lot of people missed when they came in through the other entrance.

Book Signing (10)I think the 5 hour window was perfect for doing the signing in. I did 11am-4pm and I think that is a nice busy block of time to really get people’s attention about my book and not wear myself out too much. I never took a lunch break, but that was because I wanted to make the most of every minute I had there in the store. Eventually, my brothers and sister showed up and they helped hand out fliers over by the other entrance of the store. Whether I sold a book with each flier or not, the fliers have my website address on them, so people can always check out my stuff online when it is more convenient for them.

All in all, it was a great experience, one I hope to repeat in the coming months at other local bookstores.

The Friday Muse – unLoved

Amidst the workload I’ve taken on putting this publishing company together, I’ve been trying to find time to sit down and work on some fiction shorts that I can submit to the company’s upcoming anthology. Finding the time to do so has been more difficult than first perceived, but I do at least have an idea of the stories I want to write out.

One of them is a story that has been rolling around in my head for weeks now. The title of it is unLoved, and from what I gather so far, it’s a story about a girl imprisoned on a space vessel. She’s been beaten and bruised and bullied by the passengers and crew on board, and she’s at the very end of her will to live. The bulk of the story would fall under tragedy, but we’ll see how it ends when I actually write out the draft in the coming weeks.

I’m not saying anything more than that. I did however create a spiffy mock cover for it. Nothing too spectacular, but it’s fun to do things like this for some of my writing projects. Makes them a bit more legit, even though they haven’t technically been written yet.

unLoved

Garbage In, Garbage Out?

many red dirty garbage bins against a gray brick wall (copy-space available)There’s a saying I heard a long time ago: Garbage in, garbage out. Essentially it means that whatever we put into our minds, hearts, mouths, handbag – whatever – will come out the same in the end. It’s a dire warning to watch what content we are subjected to on a daily basis. But does it hold any water? Are we able, as Christians, to constantly control what content we are exposed to? And even if we could control all content we’re exposed to, does it mean we should shield ourselves from every evil of the world?

The first time I heard this saying was about five years ago at a book signing I did here in Mesa, Arizona. I was handing out postcards with information about my novel when a woman who was standing about ten feet from me took one. She said nothing at first as she scanned the cardboard flyer. Then her eyes turned up at me and she smirked, proceeding to ask me what my angle was, what point was I trying to get across with my writing.

I wasn’t sure how to answer that so I told her that I wasn’t really trying to make a point, just write compelling fiction. I described my writing as a mix between the Christian symbolism that was evident in some of C.S. Lewis’ works and the edginess in Stephen King’s style of writing. Apparently she didn’t like that. She told me those two things contradict each other and that they can’t coexist successfully. I motioned to my books and told her to buy one, read it, and find out for herself if I was successful in pulling it off.

NX_witch_hand_sideThat’s when she said, “Garbage in, garbage out.” Then she told me she was extremely careful with the types of books she reads. I told her I understood and once again pointed out that she could purchase my book for only $10 and tell me what she thought. She asked me if I had read any of C.S. Lewis’ books like the Screwtape Letters or Mere Christianity. I said no. I tried to be more clear and explained to her that my writing held a lot of the Christian symbolism that C.S. Lewis has in his Chronicles of Narnia. Then she said she was going to challenge me to go deeper into my faith and that I really need to take a harder look at C.S. Lewis before I go comparing myself to him or his works.

I realized at this point that she was trying to start some kind of religious debate with me at my table. I wasn’t going to have any of it. I figure if someone wants to discuss theology and the angles that my book presents, then we can, but if someone is going to call my writing garbage before they’ve even read an excerpt of my book, then they are only out to prove their own points, in this case how evil Stephen King is or how evil I am…not sure exactly which one.

I handed the woman an excerpt and told her to read it while she browsed the store, just to get a feel of my writing. She took it and walked off. A woman nearby had overheard the conversation and told me that she too was a Christian and didn’t understand what the other lady was getting so upset over. I explained my novel’s story to her and she told me she enjoyed Stephen King’s writing and that my novel synopsis sounded intriguing. Then she told me that I handled the other woman’s attempt at debate quite well.

There’s a huge contrast between these two individuals. Both claim to be Christian, and yet both have differing opinions on what content is appropriate for a Christian to indulge in.

I have to say I used to be like the woman who stormed off with my postcard. I was very ‘sheltered’ in my view on the world and on the things of this world, and I always thought that anything that contained horror, sexual themes, or otherwise edgy content was not to be touched, looked upon, or even breathed upon.

And then I grew up and developed what I like to call discernment.

If you’re noticing the sarcasm, it’s there on purpose. Yes, Christians should abstain from participating in evil acts. Yes, Christians should take caution regarding what content they indulge in. No, Christians should not act like everything in this secular world carries the plague.

I heard a sermon a few Sundays ago, based around this verse:

Mark 7:14 – 16: After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

My point of view? Well, in the context of this verse, Jesus was really addressing thebackground-with-isolated-jesus_Gy3J3AFu Pharisees, who were so insanely ‘by-the-book’, that they needed a nice Jesus slap across the face.

This verse is by no means excusing us to engage in any form of entertainment that we want to. It’s telling us to use discernment about the things that go into us, and make sure that when they come out the other end – either through our words or actions – that they encourage, lift up, edify, and otherwise build up the body of Christ. If they can’t do that, then maybe it’s time we reevaluate them.

Pornography does not provide a resource to pull from for these things. Just using that as an example in case some of you wanted to twist around what I’m saying. Remember, it’s called discernment, and it will be your best friend on this Christian walk.

I’ve come across those who are so closed off from the world that they isolate themselves from anyone or anything that could potentially deepen their faith or relationship with God. I completely understand that some people are very careful with what they read, and what they watch, mainly because there are many very real temptations in this world. But there’s where discernment comes in. Only you and God know what your boundaries are. If you’re easily tempted by lust, stay out of the local strip club. In fact, you should probably stay out of there anyway.

In this scenario I encountered at my book signing, it seemed that just because I was comparing myself to Stephen King’s writing style and C.S. Lewis’ Christian allegory, this woman took it as me comparing Jesus to Satan. Good and evil aren’t always so black and white. We must peel back the layers to see what the motive is behind everything.

That woman eventually returned to me and set the excerpt back down on the table. She said it was exactly what she thought it was. She said I was part of a cult. I told her to have a nice day and smiled as she left the store. Good riddance.

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