Monday, April 28, 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014

Flash Fiction Friday #15 - Darkwielder

Beatrice stood before the two story house on Hawk Street and looked up at the charred remains of what once used to be her home. The houses to the right and left were untouched by the blaze, shielding the rest of the block from potential harm. But Beatrice knew it wasn’t luck that prevented the fire from the spreading. The fire had been supernatural in nature, a violet-colored blaze specifically set to destroy only her home. A blaze that only could have been cast from a Darkwielder.

Beatrice approached the small set of stairs that led to what was once a beautiful porch area. Now it contained nothing more than skeletal remains of ash and sorrow. Her sneakers pressed against the sick wood with creaking and groaning, as if she were taking the last bit of life from the structure.

She walked through the empty doorframe into a room full of ash. Most of the walls had been burned out, leaving behind charred studs that revealed the true structure of the home before its unfortunate demise. She scanned the room and spotted a small purple shine glittering from under a mound of gray ash. She hurried to it, pushing the ash away, revealing a small cluster of crystals.

“You’ll do nicely,” she whispered. The collection of purple crystals – gleanathyst – could fetch her a high price on the magic market. But she had no intentions of selling it. More than anything, she wanted to use the remnants of the Darkwielder’s magic staff to create her own staff. She was long overdue for it, especially since the completion of her elemental training months earlier.

She tucked the gleanathyst into the inside pocket of her long gray sweater and stood to her feet. The house felt so empty, so cold. She heard the sound of neighborhood children playing nearby, and she remembered when the house was abuzz with life within its walls. Now it lay dead, like a Gurgant beast that had been slain by a dark magician.

“You came back for it,” a voice spoke out behind her. “I didn’t think you would push aside your fear to return to this place.”

Beatrice turned around, unsurprised to have a visitor in what was left of her home. The woman who spoke was none other than the Darkwielder herself. A tall and slender woman, the Darkwielder wore the gray silk cloak and tall black boots that most every other Darkwielder wore once they graduated from their training in magic. This particular Darkwielder had brilliant green hair that snuck out of the sides of her hood, surrounding her flawless pale face with green bushels.

“You took my home from me.”

The Darkwielder nodded. “I did.”


“Give me that cluster of gleanathyst.”

Beatrice clutched her sweater shut over her chest. “No. You burned my home down with your dark magic. In return, I am going to keep this for myself.”

The Darkwielder held her pale hand out. “I said give it to me.”

“No. You no longer have a staff, so you cannot use your fiery magic on me.”

“I still have other magics,” she said.

“But you’re not allowed to use them here,” Beatrice replied. She approached the woman, a wide grin on her face. “I don’t know why you burned my home down, but you’ll regret doing so.”

“I will –“

Beatrice put her hand up to stop the woman. “You will do nothing. A Darkwielder has to follow certain rules.”

“Members of the clan do.”

Beatrice stared into the woman’s green eyes. “You cannot fool me. You’re still in the clan. It was your clan who set you up to burn down my home. Were you trying to kill me?”

“We do not kill. We simply steal.”

“Yes, that is your philosophy. But to kill is to steal life, is it not?”

The Darkwielder’s thin lips curved into a grin. “You know nothing of our philosophies.”

“I do know about your rules though.”

The Darkwielder moved to the side, allowing Beatrice a clear path through the empty doorframe. “Be on your way, hunter.”

Beatrice smiled, patting the inside pocket her of her sweater. “Your rules were meant to give you freedoms in this world, but they have only chained you to your broken ideals.” 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Of Dreams and Faith Release!

Release day is here! Of Dreams and Faith, my latest non-fiction work is now available for purchase in both paperback and digital formats:


Other digital versions will be added soon - such as Nook - but you can find those versions at Smashwords right now. A giveaway on Goodreads is possibly around the corner, and you can add the book to your reading list on Goodreads here.

In celebration of the release of the book, here is your chance to win a signed paperback copy:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.