Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Year

As I turn my head and look back on the last year, I can’t help but breathe a sigh of relief. I think I can safely say that this last year, at least for my family and I, was one of the hardest. At the same time, I think this last year was one of the most fulfilling. We’ve walked through the valley and God has been with us every step of the way, from my firing from Pima Medical Institute to our current financial situation. The challenges have been anything but scarce.

I feel that my will has been tempered into steel. I feel my resolve has strengthened into something resembling titanium. My purpose has shown greater than ever before this last year and now, as I stand on the precipice of 2010, I have nothing but high hopes for the new year.

Looking at our bank account, some ask why I would have high hopes. We’re still in an apartment, our cars are breaking down, we need a new bed, and some mornings I wake up and wonder when it’s all going to just crash and burn…and yet I have never been more at peace with my life, with my family, with myself. I am still called to write full time. I am confident that will never change.

I find myself smiling with gratitude when I think of how far we have come down this road. I can mark the date – July 30th, 2009 – the day I was fired. The day that I took a new path, that I decided to trust in God for more than just my salvation. I began to trust in Him for my daily bread, for the very breath I breathe.

If there’s one thing I can confidently say, it is that I have no regrets. Would I still go through what I went through at Pima if I had known the outcome? Of course. Would I still have dealt with the financial struggle of the last five months if I knew I would be at this very moment in time, still relying on God, still waiting for the promise to be fulfilled? Yes. Because I know the promise will be fulfilled. I know God will come through, as He has been this whole time. Sometimes, striving for a goal isn’t always just about the goal itself, but about the journey to get to it. And that journey has changed me.

The first half of 2009 was a season of preparation, of training. The second half was a season of waiting. And now, as we embark into 2010, let us enter a season of change. Let us strive for the promises that have been placed before us. Let us dare to become something more than ourselves. Let us become who we were always meant to be…

I wish all of you a wonderful New Year. I’ll see you on the other side…

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Break

Well, it's finally that time of year. That time when I take a week or so off to recharge the batteries, to remember the reason for the season, and just take a deep breath and get ready for the new year. I'll still be appearing online here and there, but otherwise, I will be off on break until after the first.

Have a great Christmas everyone and here's to an exciting, purpose-filled new year! :D

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Expired Reality Holiday Gift Basket Sold!

The Expired Reality holiday gift basket has officially been sold. A friend from our church approached me today and asked if she could just buy it off me to give as a gift to a family member. Seeing how there were no other bids yet, we agreed to sell it to her. Don't worry though, there will be other baskets coming down the line to help get my books out there and to help raise money for the Ignite Youth Group of Crosspointe Church. Thank you all for your support! :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Expired Reality Holiday Gift Basket

Looking for the perfect gift for the book lover in your life or want a novel idea for treating yourself? The Expired Reality Holiday Gift Basket is being auctioned off just in time for the holidays! Inside this amazing basket of goodies is:

1 Signed copy of Expired Reality: Endangered Memories
1 Signed copy of Expired Reality: Lost Birth
1 Signed copy of Expired Reality: Drather’s Story
$25 Borders gift card
$15 Starbucks gift card
5.1 oz package of Lindt milk chocolate truffles
7 oz package of Walkers mint cream thins
“Hope” centerpiece

The basket is valued at $100 and will be auctioned off through bidding, the base bid starting at $75. Half of the proceeds of this gift basket will go to the Ignite Youth Group at Crosspointe Church. The bidding will begin on Friday morning, December 18th at 8am (Arizona time) and will end on Tuesday, December 22nd at 11:59pm (Arizona time). The highest bid that is cast for the basket at the end of the bidding time frame will be awarded the gift set for that bid price. Funds can be paid via cash, check or PayPal. If you live outside of the valley, you will need to cover shipping on top of the bid amount. If this is the case, the basket will be shipped as soon as funds are received via Paypal or check. At that time, a mailing address for the funds will be given.

In order to participate in the bidding, send your bid via email to my Facebook account or via email to Current bids will be posted via Facebook during the day every couple of hours and updated on the official website every evening.

Any questions? Just contact me via Facebook or email. :)  For more information on the books themselves, visit

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Release (Finally) of Drather's Story

After months of technical difficulties, format changes and even a self-publisher switch, my first novella, Drather's Story, is finally off the presses and available for purchase. Originally released as a 9 episode short story mini series tying in with my Expired Reality series, I decided to compile the whole story in its entirety into a convenient paperback format. Originally I designed Drather's Story to be released through but then switched it over to Createspace because I was able to get it into a more practical size - 8" x 5.25" instead of Lulu's 9" x 6" and the more practical price of $5.95. Recently I have found that Lulu works for me when it comes to ebook format and Createspace works for me when it comes to paperback releases. But that's a story for another blog entry.

Check out Drather's Story here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Do Demons Wear Santa Hats?

In celebration of the holidays, I felt it necessary to write a piece of comedic fiction. The story is tied to my Black Earth series and features Queen Evanescence, Lieutenant in the Dark Army...

Copyright 2009 David N. Alderman

Evanescence exited the meeting chamber of the Dark Lord and strolled down the grand hallway. Her black dress skated along the dark marble floor with haste. She was full of excitement, ready to start this new project of hers. The Dark Lord had just given her permission to move forward with her plans, and she couldn’t be happier. If there was such a thing as joy here in the depths of Hell, she was feeling it to its full extent.

She calmed her spirit, knowing full well that this was only the beginning. Getting permission to create new life was only the first step in what was going to prove to be a very long, very painful process. But she would stay committed. She would stay committed to the task if it was the very last thing she did. Knowing she was immortal, though, made her laugh to use that expression: the very last thing she did. 

She let out a little giggle as she passed underneath the arch and entered the lobby area where her assistant, the onyx-skinned demon Malrov, stood waiting for her. The large beast had thick-hoofed feet and dark, spiral horns with glowing embers at the end. She loved the appearance of him, although he wasn’t the smartest assistant here in the Depths.

He smiled with his sharp teeth. “Did you gain permission, my queen?”

She nodded and then floated right on by him, making her way out of the lobby area toward the large hallway of rooms. He followed her, his mighty hooves clacking against the marble as he rushed to keep up with her.

Evanescence stopped in front of a large door decorated with human skulls. One of them was positioned outward, as if it was there to stare at her every time she returned to her room. She smiled at it, cupping her palm and tapping her long nails around its chin. The bone was cold against her fingertips.

“Did you miss me?” Evanescence whispered to it.

The skull’s mouth moved as a wheezy voice came out. “Yesss, my queen. As alwaysss.”

“And what is the status of my room?”

“Your room hasss been violated today.”

Evanescence swung her arms out in rage, slapping Malrov in the face in the process. He neither flinched nor moved. Instead, he scratched an itch on his forehead.

“Was it those infernal demolings again?!”

The skull coughed, and pieces of hair and dust sputtered out in front of Evanescence. She waved her hands out to wisp them away.

“Yesss, my queen. They were here while you were visssiting the Dark Lord.”

Malrov clenched his fists together and snarled. “Would you like me to take care of them for you, my queen?”

She prodded her forehead with her fingers and closed her eyes, knowing her pupils were literally burning red with fury. She realized the task she had at hand was so much more important than those stupid little demons messing up her room again. She turned to Malrov and nodded, her eyes coming back to their blue tint.

Malrov smiled and took off running down the hallway, the clacking of his hooves disappearing into the distance.

Evanescence opened the door and strode into her room. As the door slammed shut behind her, she was surprised to find one of the demolings sitting on her bed—on her pillow no less—playing with her makeup. She stood, shocked as she watched the little demon apply some of her blue lipstick to its lips. Her cosmetics were strewn about her satin bed sheets, some of them already opened and applied to her sheets, to the posts of the bed and to the demoling.

“You have the nerve!”

The little demon looked up, startled at the intrusion. It was wearing blue eye shadow as well. It smiled wide at her, its little teeth blue with what Evanescence could only guess was lipstick. “My queen,” it uttered in its own demonic language.

“Yes! Your queen! Your queen, indeed!” She stormed toward the creature. It was already off the bed and leaping from the bed post. It sailed through the air across the room and landed in her dresser mirror, smashing into the glass with its head. Its fragile body tumbled to the dresser surface and stayed there for a moment, dazed at its miscalculation of trajectory.

Evanescence was past the point of being patient with these little mongrels. She was a superior being who didn’t need to put up with these little rodents scouring her room for what they thought to be treasures. She made it to the dresser in a flash and grasped the demoling by the neck, digging her cerulean-painted nails into its soft flesh. Its skin felt like a piece of rotted fruit.

“You will pay for your defiance, little one!”

The demoling’s face twisted and contorted as its claws gripped her hand. It was no use. Evanescence squeezed as hard as she could as its neck exploded and the demon fell to pieces in her hand. She dumped the mess on the floor and wiped her hand across her dress.

She would have to get someone to clean up this horrid mess. She glanced at the floor, saw the splotch of demon entrails and blood, and shook her head. “Let that be a lesson to the rest of you who want to intrude on my domain!”

She heard a weird scratching sound behind her. When she turned around, her wardrobe cabinet burst open, and a blur of red monsters leapt out at her, knocking her to the floor—right in the puddle of guts. She felt the little monster hooves and claws scrape across her dress and the parts of her skin that were bare, as a half dozen demolings stampeded over her and darted out the doorway, escaping into the hallway to their freedom.

She gathered herself together and stood to her feet, covered now in blood. “Curses, you little brats!”

Malrov burst into the room and stood at attention, staring at her. She glared at him, shaking her hands to rid herself of some of the filth.

“Your majesty, I wasn’t able to find the little brat who snuck into your room earlier.”

“Get out, Malrov. I would like to be alone.”

He looked confused. “I thought you wanted me to help you with your plans.”

“Yes, you can help by getting out of here! I need to be alone when I create my masterpiece.”

“What about the battle plans for Destinea?”

“What about them?”

“We have to prepare the troops for the surface landing in four hours.”

“I will be ready to do so in two hours, Malrov. Please…just get out of here.” She felt blood trickling down her face and was sure she was going to gag. The very thought of inferior blood having any contact with her own royal skin was atrocious.

“Well…the Legion is waiting in the war room for you.”

“The Legion can wait. I don’t answer to them. I answer to the Dark Lord. Now get out of my room! Your queen demands it!”

Malrov stumbled out of the room, slamming the door shut.

Evanescence grabbed a towel from her dresser and wiped her face and arms with it. Then she sat down on the bed and began picking up the cosmetics that were still intact. Her mind wandered to how wonderful it would be once her creation was done. She felt so honored that the Dark Lord had allowed her the privilege of bringing a new child into their ranks. Into their family. He was so gracious. She would do anything for him. He knew that, though. She hoped he knew that.

She glanced around at the black walls and reminisced about the time she had gotten her wings clipped. It was a liberating feeling to be considered one of the Dark Lord’s elite. She felt the warmth of his respect for her and smiled. She would do him proud by creating new life for their family. For their army. For the purpose of bringing destruction to the one planet she couldn’t bear to think about: Earth.

Their plans were to attack Earth months from now, which would leave plenty of time for her to create her first and only daughter: Pearl. That would be her name. As beautiful as the most precious treasure in existence.

Evanescence leaned back on the bed and closed her eyes, imagining what she wanted Pearl to look like. The girl would have pure white skin, and her hair would be long and black—blacker than the blackest night. Her eyes would glow a harsh blue, to indicate to everyone that she was a child of the great queen Evanescence. Her voice would rival that of their dark choir, and maybe even of the Dark Lord himself, although that was not something Evanescence actually wanted. He was their worship leader, so…

There was a knock on her door. She opened her eyes and huffed under her breath. Could she just get a few moments alone? Alone in her darkness, alone in her putrid soul? She slid off the bed and adjusted her gown, readjusting her breasts in the corset.

The knock came again, only stronger this time. She stamped her foot on the ground and bit her tongue in the process. The blood tasted refreshing, but the pain was not. She grabbed the handle of the door and swung it open in a rage.

Malrov was standing there...with a red and white Santa Claus hat on his head. “Your highness, the Dark Lord wanted me to tell you that your chamber is ready.”

She ground her teeth and shook her head violently. “What are you doing with that ridiculous thing on your head?”

Malrov laughed. “Yeah, my Santa hat? Reytha gave it to me. She said I could keep it if I promised to wear it in front of you.”

“Ooohohhhhh! You really piss me off sometimes, Malrov!”

“Why? I thought it might cheer you up.”

“Why would ANY reminder that it is Christmas cheer me up? The celebration of the birth of our sworn enemy? Why would I want to celebrate that?”

Malrov looked sad. He turned and shuffled down the hallway as Evanescence slapped her palm on her face and sighed. “I need a vacation from these idiots!”

She shut her bedroom door and started down the hallway, preparing herself mentally for what was about to happen. She would have to spend a full day in the Life Chamber to create Pearl. To create a child that would help them destroy Earth. And once Earth was destroyed, including all of the believers on that forsaken planet, she would be able to rest easily. She hated the thought of those fools worshiping anything other than her dark master. All in due time. All in due time.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Vector - A Novus Partum

From the recesses of my mind, from the abyss of my subconscious, shadows merge into one singular entity. She came to me a few months ago. She revealed herself to me in a story I was working on. I paid her no mind at the time and this angered her. She wants attention. She craves the spotlight and yet shrinks from the very idea of revealing her true form to me.

Who is she, you ask. I cannot say because I do not know. She wears a cloak and hides her face. Her body is scarred from her travels through time and space. Blood lines her pale skin. Her breath comes out in heavy pulses, her lungs weary from her journey. She has no control over her travels and her health decreases with every jump she makes. She has seen her savior on the cross, the brutality of Hitler, the Great War. She has seen many things, heard many sounds and felt the very fabric of time tear to pieces around her.

Her mind is unstable, moreso than anyone else I have ever met or created. And yet, she has the tightest grasp on what kind of danger her world is in. She knows what must be done and yet she has no control over where she goes or what she herself does. She is an enigma. She is a fleeting speck on the scope of our world, of our past. She has crossed the lines between Expired Reality and Black Earth and longs to live a life in the present instead of in the past or the future. Our past. Her future.

Her name is Vector. That is all I know. That is all she is willing to tell.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christian Writers of the West

On Saturday, I attended the Christian Writers of the West meeting that took place at a local Marie Callenders restaurant, at the prompting of my online friend, Michelle Sutton. At first glance, I felt a bit intimidated - mainly because there were more than a dozen women in the room and only little ol' me and Michelle's son as far as the male population was concerned. But I soon overcame the intimidation when I settled within myself that we were all writers. It didn't matter our gender or our age...writing was in our blood. Writing was the one thing, if anything other than God, that could unite us.

The meeting was something new for me to do. Being a self-published author, I am always trying to find new ways to network, to meet new people, to explore different avenues my writing could be discovered through. There were two different guest authors there, Amanda Cabot who writes historical fiction, and Tosca Lee who writes speculative fiction (my favorite genre). As much as I enjoyed listening to both authors, I will undoubtedly admit that I favored Tosca Lee simply because she writes closer to the genre I write for.

When she arrived at the meeting, Tosca took a seat next to me at the table. I was at first humbled that a well established author was sitting next to me. I know it may seem silly, but I felt nervous to be near someone who had followed the rabbit hole down into the Wonderland of publishing and could confidently say she was a 'successful' author. This reminded of an experience I had about a month ago. There is a fan of my writing who attends my church, and I went to the local Costco with him and his family one day and I heard him say that it was so awesome that he was grocery shopping with his favorite author. It's always humbling to hear something like that, but it makes me wonder where that type of respect comes from. Is it from my writing? Are the words that I craft so incredibly good that they simply melt people's hearts into nothingness until all that's left is utter adoration for the very author who wrote them? Or is there something more at work here? Is there something hidden behind the words? Something in me, as a writer, as a human, that propels this type of respect, this type of awe?

You can ask my wife. Whenever we have company over, I dominate the conversation, not because I am controlling, but because I love to tell stories. It's in my blood, in the very makeup of my DNA. If something happened on our trip to the grocery store, I will craft the event into a full blown tale, an experience so to say, sometimes with sound effects, sometimes with props. But it's what I do. It's the gift I was given. And if I chose to blow it off as nothing - or worse yet - credit it to my own talent, I would be slapping God in the face. The very God who gave me this gift, who wired me this way.

As I sat at this meeting and listened to Tosca speak about her origins, her process of storytelling, her passion for writing, I realized that I have that same respect for her as my friends may have for me. Why? Because storytelling is a gift. And when it is used right, to bring to light morals and ethics, to tell the lost tales of heroes and villains, to paint a metaphorical and allegorical painting of the decay and/or redemption of our society, it can affect an entire civilization, heck an entire species. The power of words is a power that cannot be equaled by any weapon fashioned by man. Writing is power. My friend put it best the other day when he said that it frightens him the power I have as a writer. Maybe he's right.

One thing that Tosca said in the meeting that really stood out to me was when she mentioned how we as writers need to write as if nobody was going to read what we wrote. We need to be truthful to ourselves, to be honest with our writing and not hold back. Those words have never been so true to me. When I began writing Black Earth: End of the Innocence, I came across some scenes that really stretched me as a writer. I was afraid at first of being controversial, of offending the normal church populace, of making my friend's eyebrows tilt upward in surprise and possibly disgust. But then I made a vow to be true to myself as a writer. To write what the character is wanting me to write, to write what God is wanting me to write. That doesn't mean that I just decide to write certain things to shock or offend others. I simply write...and those that read will pull from it what they will.

I hope to return to the CWOW group when they have their next meeting in January. It was a blessing to meet some new writers and to grab a copy of Tosca's Havah, which I plan on starting today.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Acquire the Fire

This last weekend I was honored to be part of the leadership group that went with my church's youth group to Acquire the Fire in Phoenix. For those who don't know, ATF is an intense Christian youth conference that travels around the states during the year. It consists of worship, sessions, skits and interactive surveys. This year it took place at the state fairgrounds from 7pm-10:30pm on Friday night and 8am-9pm on Saturday.

Now, I've been to a couple of Acquire the Fires in the past with another youth group I used to help lead over, but this year there was something different in the air. It could have been the intimate melodies from the worship band, Unhindered. It could have been the sessions and skits that spoke to the youth about real-life issues like pregnancy and acceptance. It could have even been the close fellowship I had with the youth group I was with.

The more I think about it though, the more I realize what it was that made this year different than others I have attended ATF in: The theme this year was having an encounter with God. But the main subject that was spoken about was being smitten in love with God. Smitten. Rhymes with mitten and kitten, pigeon and rippen. Even rhymes with fitten. Not sure some of those are even words. Anyway, smitten. The definition of smitten is to be very much in love. Smitten with God. Very much in love with God.

I think we as Christians sometimes get lost in the rules and regulations of religion and overlook the three most important elements of life: faith, hope and love. Love. To be in love with God. To be in love with the One who created us. God knows the number of hairs on our head. Psalm 139 speaks of how God's thoughts about us outnumber the grains of sand. Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that God sings over us.

We overlook these things on a daily basis. That God thinks about us, that He sings over us. Who are we that God would take the time to do these things? One of the speakers at ATF mentioned how God woos us like a groom woos his bride. God knows our favorite things, our hopes and dreams, our passions and desires. He tries daily to bring these things to us, to surprise us, to rejoice in us. Do we have our eyes open to experience these things or are we so caught up in our daily lives that we don't even acknowledge that God is there - unless of course something is going wrong in our lives. Needless to say, this conference - though it was designed for youth - really opened my own eyes to who God really is and what He means to me.

On top of the awesome experience at ATF, I was able to hear and meet female worship singer, Sarah Reeves and her band. She was selling CD's and she and the band were signing them. I even took the photo op and got a picture with her. She has an amazing voice and her songs speak to the heart about drawing closer to God, breaking down walls and rising up in unity with each other. Awesomeness!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Interview with the Author

Just recently I was honored to be interviewed by my good friend, Paeter Frandsen. Paeter and I have been friends for a while now, but originally only knew each other through the grapevine at the local church we both attended. Back in those days, I was still penning the first drafts of Expired Reality and he was putting on a stage production of Spirit Blade, his acclaimed science fiction/fantasy audio drama.

Besides being a friend, Paeter is also the creator of Spirit Blade Productions, a company that encompasses his audio projects. In my own opinion, Paeter is an extremely talented individual. His knowledge for recording, mixing story elements and casting voice actors to bring characters to life in his work is unparalleled. Not to mention his avenue for telling his stories is one that I feel is untapped in this present day in age, bringing to life a fresh avenue for storytelling.

For those interested, you can learn more about Spirit Blade and Paeter's other projects at For those that are interested in listening to the interview that Paeter did with me, check it out here. This interview got me to open up a bit about some elements of my new novel, Black Earth: End of the Innocence that I wouldn't normally discuss with others. But, Paeter has a way of getting me to talk about my writing and to tell things that I would consider to be secrets. That's okay. That's his job as the interviewer and my job is to tell stories, so they go well hand in hand.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My First Book Signing...

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.

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.

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.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nothing Beats a New Book

If I have one wish in this life, it's that books - in their physical form - never become outdated. Don't get me wrong here. I think that there is definitely a niche and a market for online stories. I have partaken in such things myself, writing short stories that are only available online. However, nothing really beats going down to my local bookstore (or ordering online) a brand new book that I can hold in my hands. A book that I can bring with me to the coffee shop. A book that I can sit on my patio and read. A book that will stare at me as it sits on my nightstand, begging me to open it up and read it's beautiful muse. Kind of like my cat when it wants to be fed, but more sincere.

The appreciation for the written word hasn't died down in my opinion. Even with the rise of online this and web that, I think there will always be a love for a physical novel in one's hands, a tome of endless adventures and romance that we can get lost in whenever we so choose.

Just recently, I headed down to my local Borders and, with one of their generous coupons, purchased a new novel to read. Granted, I have a half dozen novels on my bookshelf that are still only half read or haven't been opened up at all. But I love the experience of purchasing a new book and I don't think that anything quite equals the ecstatic joy that I feel when I do. And at only a couple of dollars, who could pass up such an opportunity?

 For those that are curious, I picked out Star Wars: Allegiance by Timothy Zahn. Star Wars books have been some of my favorite since high school and I don't think that will ever change. Timothy Zahn is a craftsman in the Star Wars universe, quickly becoming one of my favorite authors for the series next to A. C. Crispin who did the Han Solo Trilogy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Expired Reality: The Dark Past

Well, I'm off to a good start for National Novel Writing Month (NanoWrimo). I have 7,127 words written (past my daily goal for today) and I could probably sit down and write out more for the rest of the day, but alas, I have other responsibilities, like 2 other novels I am already working on.

The story I decided to work on this year for Nano is a bit different than years past. I usually work on full novels that are sequels to the novels I have already put into play. One year I did a short story anthology. But this year I decided to mix things up a bit and have some fun. So I decided to do one novel, split in half, with each half telling a back story to a particular character. Both characters can be found in my Expired Reality series and both characters have been proven to be some of my readers' favorites.

The tentative title to my Nano novel is Expired Reality: The Dark Past. One story will be based on Turquoise - Wedge, detailing the life she had as a child shortly before she discovered her giftings and her life took a turn for the worse. The other story will detail the incident in the clock tower that almost took Carrie Green and Veronica Amorou's life. This story is hinted at in my first Expired Reality book, Endangered Memories in Carrie's diary entries. This event sparked off Veronica's life debt to David Corbin and pushed her to learn a dark means of protecting him, one that caused her to break her pledge of non-violent means to keeping the world of Anaisha safe.

Both stories show a lot of promise in keeping up 25,000 words each, equaling the 50,000 that I need to complete NanoWrimo 2009. But one thing that has taken me a bit off guard is how much fun the particular story I am working on is. I am currently working on the story of how Turquoise - Wedge was kidnapped from her family and stripped of her strongest powers to become the Wedge that you meet in the beginning of my series. It is a powerful story and I've noticed that a lot of my back stories that I've started working on are more powerful than some of the novels themselves. In the Expired Reality series anyway. And I've figured out what that more powerful entity is - character.

I am now diving into my characters back stories and truly finding out who they are. Instead of a name on a piece of paper, they are coming alive more so than they ever have before. When my characters are in their younger years, when they are children or teenagers, when they are in rough spots in their lives - spots that completely change the course of their histories forever - I realize that they are real people. They come alive on the page and they aren't merely a warm body to keep the plot moving.

Don't get me wrong. Before I write all of my novels, I always write out a full background for each of my characters, including foods they eat, music they listen to and who their love interests are. I even write out who their parents are and what appearance they usually take in their day to day lives. But something about writing their actual back stories just blows the profiles to the wind and really digs deep into who these characters really are.

I think, especially with my Black Earth series having just debuted, that my writing has started turning from plot driven to character driven. It is a most beautiful thing and I am happy that it is happening this way. So as I continue to work on this year's NanoWrimo novel, I encourage all my other writer friends out there to examine their writing and see - really see - who their characters are, where they've come from, and what they truly want out of life. They can become some of our best friends and some of our worst enemies. But then again, they're just characters...right?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My First Author Signing...

Well, I managed to work through my fear and had a book release party. At the party, I gave a speech and read aloud a chapter from my new novel, Black Earth: End of the Innocence. This was a huge step for me personally, because I absolutely hate public speaking. I think I am okay once I get up in front of everyone and start speaking, but the trepidation that goes with those first few steps to the podium are enough to make me tremble.  I would almost rather be eaten alive by mad clowns...I said almost!

Having said that, I took the next step from the book release party and approached the management team at my local Borders book store and managed to get an author signing set up for November 14th. I am really excited about it but at the same time a little nervous. Selling my books to those that I know is one thing, but trying to sell my books to people I have just barely met that walk into a book store is another thing. I know I will do fine, but it's another leap for me outside of my comfort zone of sitting at the computer and writing stories. Now it's time to go out into the real world and share those stories with the rest of the world.

For those that are interested in coming to the signing, I will be at the Borders Books and Music in Mesa, Arizona on Saturday, November 14th from 11am-4pm. I will have copies of my book for sale for $10 each and will be signing them as well. The Borders is easily located across from the Fiesta Mall near the US60. I think it will be a fun time and I am looking forward to seeing you all out there! :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

NanoWrimo 2009

Ah. And we are finally here. My favorite time of the year: National Novel Writing Month.

Every November, fellow adventurous types such as myself participate in a worldwide event known as NanoWrimo - short for National Novel Writing Month. This frantic, coffee induced tradition has been an annual event of mine for the past 4 years and now, in my 5th, I still hold the same excitement I did when I first decided to embark on this remarkable quest.

NanoWrimo, in a nutshell, is a month long contest to write 50,000 words of a novel - from scratch - by the end of November. The rules of editing are tossed out the window and all sense of a social life, of responsibilities and the such, are gone with the wind. All that is required is an overactive imagination and the will power to achieve the 50,000 word total by the 30th.

For the past 4 years I have competed and won this feat of writing. The contest has no monetary reward. The whole thing is based on the honor system and a certificate is given at the end of the month if the goal has been attained. But I find the real prize to be the draft to a new novel in my hands in the span of 30 days, though I have been known to finish in 8.

50,000 words is more than enough to get a novel rolling. Most of my writing during this occasion can be extremely raw, but the best part of all is that I don't have to worry about going back and editing as I go along. I am tasked with completing my own daily goals each day to achieve the rank of NanoWrimo Winner, and it pleases me to be able to look forward to this every year.

For those that are interested in more of NanoWrimo, check out their website at:

If you want to check out my Nano profile and see how I am faring during the month of November, here is the link:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bye-Bye, Baby!

Well, I finally released Black Earth: End of the Innocence this last Saturday. Almost 2 years of hard work, dedication, blood, sweat and tears have gone into the 364 page novel, and now it is available for all to read, criticize, love or hate.

For an author, putting a novel into the world (or really any type of writing) is like putting your baby into a reed basket and sending them down the river to the large village in the distance. You have to let go of something you birthed inside of you, something you cared for and nurtured. A novel is a part of the soul and sharing it with the world really isn't the easiest thing to do...most times.

However, as I pushed the buttons to upload the website updates, announce that the book had been released, and spammed Facebook to let everyone know they can buy it now, I didn't feel a sense of estrangement from my beloved book. Instead, I felt a sense of relief. I felt a sense of confidence.

The release of Black Earth: End of the Innocence is the first time I have felt confident when releasing a piece of writing. I guess I've finally accepted the fact that my writing skills are where I want them to be...for now anyway. I aim to always improve my gift, but at the same time, I think I can confidently say that Black Earth is my very best writing at this point in time.

With that said, I have many more projects on the horizon, some that I am already in the middle of. But Black Earth: End of the Innocence is my baby, and I sent it out into the world. Now I just have to see if the world accepts it, enjoys its company, and decides to pass it along to friends.

Black Earth can be found through my official website, in case anyone is curious about adopting a book...

Monday, September 28, 2009

At the Base of the Mountain...

I set my bag down on the ground and take a seat in the dirt, tired from the journey. I have finally reached the base of the mountain, the towering monstrosity that I have been dreading most of my life. I knew this day would come eventually. It was only a matter of time. I knew that in order to reach my dream of becoming a bestselling writer, of walking out God's promises, I would someday have to face this mountain.

I find myself gazing up at the towering Goliath. This large, immovable beast seems to taunt me as I stand in its shadow, telling me that I will never overcome it. I will never overcome the odds of becoming a bestselling author, I will never overcome my family issues or the difficulties of my own existence. If I squint, I can make out a sneer carved into its face. How frightening. How discouraging.

In the shade of this great beast, I find that I have time to ponder where the beginning of this journey started, back when I decided to take a stand in my workplace for what was right. I had the chance to sit down and be quiet, to work peacefully and ignore the things that were wrong within my own environment. To be complacent. But I felt God calling me to something so much greater. My own ethics, my own morals and principles were tested to the limits. The company eventually fired me through unethical means. That seems so long ago.

I guess that would be where the second half of my journey started. The part of my journey where I was called to rely on God for all of my financial needs. Everyone around me asked me if I was going to look for another job and I replied with a nervous no. God made me a promise at the beginning of my employment with that company, a promise stating that would be the last conventional job I would have to work in before my writing career would take off. One thing I have learned in life is that if God makes a promise, we can all count on Him to follow through with it, no matter how long it lingers. No matter how long...

Through the last couple of months, God has supplied every one of our needs. Bills have been paid, the fridge has been full, all with the part time pay that my wife has been bringing in and the generosity of others around us. And yet, God has at the same time been setting us up to make the way for Him to perform a miracle. Unemployment insurance hasn't come through, neither has state aid. We had a couple hundred dollars in our savings account that my wife and I both felt that God wanted us to give to those that have been a great influence in our lives.

At a time like this, some would urge me to cash in my chips and call it a day. To fold would be my next move at the poker table, disappointment etched on my heart for the rest of time. But then I stop and wonder if I am being set up for God to do the miraculous. It reminds me of a Bible passage that was brought to my attention earlier last week, where Gideon (who's army consisted of 32,000) was fighting the Midianite army (which consisted of 135,000), and God asked Gideon to filter out a considerable number of his men so God Himself could get the glory for the battle:

Judges 7:1 So Jerub-baal (that is, Gideon) and his army got up early and went as far as the spring of Harod. The armies of Midian were camped north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh.2 The LORD said to Gideon, "You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength.3 Therefore, tell the people, 'Whoever is timid or afraid may leave this mountain and go home.'" So 22,000 of them went home, leaving only 10,000 who were willing to fight. 4 But the LORD told Gideon, "There are still too many! Bring them down to the spring, and I will test them to determine who will go with you and who will not."5 When Gideon took his warriors down to the water, the LORD told him, "Divide the men into two groups. In one group put all those who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues like dogs. In the other group put all those who kneel down and drink with their mouths in the stream."6 Only 300 of the men drank from their hands. All the others got down on their knees and drank with their mouths in the stream. 7 The LORD told Gideon, "With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home."

Is my own life a reflection of what God did back then? When all of my financial opportunities are cut off at their sources, when all hope looks lost, will I persevere? If I have the faith of a mustard seed, can I really point to this mountain and tell it to move?

I look up at my Goliath again. That sneer is still etched in its face. How can I, a mere human being, a nobody persay, move this mountain out of my way so I can reach my destiny? Let alone have the faith to move this mountain? Rent is due in a couple days and I don't have a dime of it. Our cars are wearing out, everything we have needs an upgrade. And yet God has me in His hands. God is whispering in my ear, reminding me of the promises He made me so long ago. So very long ago. He tells me to stop concentrating on my circumstances and start focusing on Him. He tells me to stop concentrating on what can go wrong or is going wrong and tells me to focus my gaze on the goal He set forth before me.

My goal is on the other side of that mountain.

I begin to build myself a campfire, for the sun is setting and the wind is growing cold. I feel alone here at the base of this mountain, but I know that God is here with me. He has promised me that He will move this mountain out of my way. All I can do until then is be patient and try not to figure out how to move it on my own.

The mountain rumbles, as if it's laughing at me. How peculiar. I wonder if it will still be laughing when God smashes it to pieces before me and paves a new route to my dreams...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Free Short Stories

With the coming release of my new novel, Black Earth: End of the Innocence, I am releasing three free short stories through the official website, Each story intersects with the others to tell of the events leading up to the novel. Enjoy!

Accidents Will Happen
Nathan Pierce is just trying to get his driver's license on a typical Saturday morning. But what started out as an inconvenience quickly turns into a tragedy when a hasty traffic move irreparably changes the future forever.

Hidden Agenda
Daisy Pierce is enjoying a delicious latte in the local cafe when a strange man yells her name out and starts chasing her and her friend, Stacey. Now she's on the run, not sure where to go or what the stranger wants with her.

When Destinies Collide
Tiffany Williams needs to get her newborn baby to a hospital. But when her drunk, abusive husband gets in the way, how far will she actually go to save her child and herself?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Black Earth Cover Design

Well, here it is folks. A sneak peek at what I've been up to in regards to the cover design for Black Earth: End of the Innocence. It needs a bit of cleanup, especially the seam in the middle of the sky, but this will be the general layout of the front cover of the book.

I want to thank my wife and my good friend Jelani Parham for their assistance with some of the items in the design. The silhouette of the oak tree was actually a picture that my wife took when we were driving around in California and I took a nap on the side of the road. She caught a picture of the silhouette when the sun was rising at just the right location and time. She also got a nice picture of a starry night when we were out camping with her family and I used that picture for the stars behind the title. Then it was Jelani with his expertise who was able to pull the tree from the picture and slap it on an invisible background so I could use it for the cover. He also added some glow to that piece of clipart I am using for the comet. The font for the BLACK EARTH title was found through, a website that specializes in free fonts. The majority of the cover is being created in a program called Art Explosion Publisher Pro by Nova Developement.

All in all, I like the cover immensely. It really portrays the symbolism of the novel, the end of the innocence. The oak tree was an idea inspired by the cover art to Switchfoot's Nothing is Sound album, whose song, The Shadow Proves the Sunshine is briefly mentioned in the Black Earth short story, Hidden Agenda. A poster with the album cover art is seen in the first half of Black Earth: End of the Innocence.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What Genre?

Just recently I sat down with a good friend of mine. We talked about our Sci Fi interests, swapped marketing strategies and discussed the status of our projects. In the midst of it all we got on the topic of what genre my upcoming novel, Black Earth: End of the Innocence, is going to be. That was a tough question.

Personally, I'd like to think of myself as a mainstream author with Christian ideals. My Expired Reality series never mentions God or Jesus or anything about Christianity, but does have underlying ideals like redemption, forgiveness and mercy. Not to mention the age old battle between good and evil.

Black Earth is more open about the Christian themes that are presented in it: standing up for your faith, questioning God when things go wrong, trusting in God when all seems hopeless. Black Earth is, however, a much darker novel than what has been presented in the Expired Reality series so far.

So what genre would it fall under?

I don't have plans to market Black Earth:EOTI as a Christian novel. I think it would entertain the mainstream crowd more so and so I don't want to pigeonhole the book into a corner that the mainstream crowds wouldn't go near with a ten-foot pole.

I don't have plans, either, to strictly market my book as science fiction/fantasy. I think it would get lost in that genre among all the hundreds and thousands of other sci fi/fantasy stories that get created every year. I want something unique, something that is specific but has a niche that I can tell others about when I am asked what genre my novel is.

My friend mentioned that my work might fit into a the dark fantasy category. So, last night I did some research and found that he may be right. Dark fantasy can include stories about dark supernatural creatures and deals with darker themes than a normal fantasy novel. This would definitely describe some of Black Earth. I have demons and witches and supernatural beings who are all in a war to save/destroy the Earth. The fights with the demons and some of the material in the story could borderline horror, but doesn't extract the same type of feelings that a Friday the 13th movie would.

I researched some more, wanting to see if we could add something else to that dark fantasy genre and come up with a more specific description of my book. I thought about calling it dark Christian fantasy, but that's almost sounds contradictory in title. And that would also be pigeonholing me to the Christian crowds, veering me away from the mainstream outlet that I am heading for.

Then I found another genre, almost a subgenre of dark fantasy: urban dark fantasy. Urban fantasy contains stories with supernatural context that take place in real-world, contemporary urban settings. That would describe my novel as well.

So....urban dark fantasy? That sounds about right. We'll see though.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Drather's Story

Finally received my proof copy of Drather's Story in the mail the other day. I am quiet pleased with the quality of the book, however, after reading a few sections of it to check for errors, I realized that it would be in my best interest to do one more edit on it before making it available for sale to the public. Might be another couple weeks until it's ready, but it will be worth the wait! :D

This is my first attempt at self-publishing a novella, so I was a little surprised with how thin the book was when I got it (48 pages), but its small size makes it very convenient to carry around in a backpack or even a planner. I am definitely going to be putting together more stories in the future that take advantage of this unique layout.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Next Chapter

Last week was the end….the end of a struggle, the end of a fight that was so hard fought that I am still worn out and recovering from the effects. For months, I tried to improve on the environment that I was working in and was ultimately let go of in the worst way possible. An attack on my integrity, on my ethics, was the name of the game and instead of stooping to a level that I might have felt so inclined to, I ended the day happy that I had done things on my own terms…I didn’t give in, I didn’t quit, I didn’t give up.

Yet, with every end, there has to be a beginning to something, and the end of working for said company is the beginning of the next chapter in my life. This next chapter, of what will easily become a ten volume memoir, is the one that I have been waiting my whole life for and promises to be the most exciting.

See, I’ve wanted to write since I was twelve. And back in the day, I was told that if I wanted to make a living off my writing, then I better hope I’m good, else I won’t make much money to support myself off it. My dreams trampled, I gave up. Years later, I picked up the passion again, only this time I wasn’t exactly writing things I should have been writing. So I took my material at the time and dumped it in a cylinder trash can and lit it all on fire. A prayer left my lips, one that told God that if He ever wanted me to write again, He would have to give me the material and the passion Himself.

Years from that point, my passion returned, but only after I had made a decision that I was going to move to Seattle to attend Bible College. Now I had a dilemma…follow my spiritual calling or follow my artistic calling. I became so anxiety ridden from trying to pick that I drove myself practically insane…until a fellow camp counselor that summer turned to me and told me that God sometimes wants us to pick a path and he’ll bless the one that we have chosen.

I sighed with relief and picked writing.

Since then, I’ve heard many promises from God regarding my choice, ones that I sometimes wonder may have been my own wishful thinking they seem so incredibly impossible. But we deal with a God that doesn’t know what impossible is. We deal with a God that keeps His word and won’t lead us astray. I deal with a God that has carried me this far and won’t let go when the dawn is about to break, even if sometimes I feel too weak to hold on.

As my adventure continues into this next chapter, I hope and pray that I have the strength and determination to keep going. The fog has lifted, and now I can see the shore, but there’s still a long way to go and I’m still tired and worn out from the previous battles.

Taking the Promised Land is no small task…for us, anyway. For God…well, that’s a different story altogether.

Monday, July 20, 2009

What Happened to Quality Entertainment?

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. Some of the movies I’ve seen lately and some of the reasons why I walk out, shaking my head. I remember an age where quality movies fell into the theatres with abandon. There were original storylines, Grade-A actors/actresses, award-winning dialogue. Those were the good old days. Hollywood writers seemed to take their jobs more seriously, directors were trying to push the envelope to bring new avenues to the theatre-watching public. It was a good time, and I feel very strongly that those times have been buried underneath the rubble of quick-made films amidst crappy plots.

I’m not sure exactly when the quality of movies dropped, but the more I think about it, the more it wrenches my heart. I used to be excited to go to the theater, excited to see what was going to happen to our heroes next, excited to see what new plot twists had been devised to keep us on the edge of our seats. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are still some great movies being made, they are just few and far between. There are movies that had the time and money and talent spent on them and they came through in the end, inspiring me, stirring emotions in me…doing what a good story should do. Watchmen, The Dark Knight, Quantum of Solace, V for Vendetta, Speed Racer are all great ones that come to mind from the last couple years. These are good movies to say the least.

I don’t feel I can even go to the movies at night anymore because I can’t possibly justify spending $10 on a ticket, especially in this economy, for something my gut instinct is telling me is going to be a waste of time and money. What happened to the starlit evenings where we went out to a nice dinner with our better halves and relaxed with a late-night movie afterward? Those times are slipping away my friends and have turned into grabbing a Starbucks and seeing a bargain movie at 8 in the morning. Not that there's anything wrong with looking for a good bargain, but there used to be movies that I would turn around and spend $10 on and not bat an eye at because I was that confident that it was going to be a decent investment of time and money.

I have to say it: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull should never have been made. Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg should have left the three Indiana Jones films intact in my innocent childhood memory and let it be. Instead, Hollywood had to resurrect a legend from the graveyard of great icons and make a movie that is so blatantly outrageous with its storyline, dialogue and acting that it almost puts the whole franchise to shame. I think Hollywood needs to learn where to stop, especially when you’re talking about making sequels to a movie franchise that ended in the 80’s.

More recently, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince disappointed me on an epic scale. I’ll preface this by saying that the Harry Potter films, for the most part, usually do a good job of entertaining me. I have not read the books, nor do I have any interest in reading them, so I can't compare the movie to the original stories. This recent one though did nothing but inspire a snooze fest and an incredible urge to watch the Lord of the Rings movies again just to fulfill my fantasy movie desires. Throughout the whole film, Harry is referred to as the 'Chosen One', the only one who can defeat ‘You Know Who’. He is hinted at as the 'Chosen One' throughout the series before this point, yet Half-Blood Prince doesn’t really do anything with this partially interesting fact. Instead, I’m stuck in a theater for 2 ½ hours watching a fantasy-style soap opera filled with rivers of teen-angst and hormones gone wild as each of the characters vies for the others’ affection. The magic and mayhem of the films before it is gone, replaced with love potions and lots of teenage drama. Hints of a darker side to the series are exposed through flashbacks/memories, but they are few and far between, though I feel they were the better parts of the movie. Only in the last half hour do we get some sense of grand evil, but in preparation for the next movie. Harry has no final battle, there is no real confrontation with the band of villains that are seen minimally during the movie, doing close to nothing the whole time. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s sitting through a slow movie to get no real payoff by the time the credits roll. Give me something!

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was another movie I had the opportunity to see recently, and even though I watched the original and thought it was a dud, I decided to give the 2nd movie a chance and was pleasantly surprised with it as a whole. The story, for one, was a big improvement on the first. However, Hollywood thought it pressing to include more adult humor, risqué scenes and constant profanity. And when I say adult humor, I’m not referring to the kind of over-kid’s-heads innuendo that Shrek uses. No, the adult humor found in Transformers was a good deal of male sexual humor. Fabulous, Hollywood, absolutely fabulous. You make a movie based on a kids – KIDS – cartoon and decide to take the humor level in the direction of Superbad standards. This is an example of where writers sometimes get the balance all wrong, trying to cater to ALL audiences, yet using an avenue that has been near and dear to kids’ hearts for years.

The list goes on and on. I’m not trying to bash the film industry, but I really do wish writers and producers and directors would try to think outside the box, but do it with the same techniques that have worked in the past. Be creative, be original. How many times am I going to go see a movie, come out and say how good it is, only to have the person walking beside me tell me that the original was just as good. The original? You mean, that was a remake? A REMAKE?! How utterly disappointing. Improving on something that has been done before can be considered original if it's done right, but copying an old idea and not doing anything to further it is a travesty. Originality, people. It can go a long way.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Black Earth

Well, I haven't blogged in a little while and thought it was high time to get back into it. Work, personal matters, and every other excuse I can think of has prevented me from writing at all, but now I am back in the saddle to do some damage and get caught up on my current projects. With that little blurb out of the way, I wanted to give everyone an update on Black Earth:

I just recently finished reading the manuscript in its entirety to my wife. I did this for a couple of different reasons, one for the simple fact that a lot of mistakes are caught when reading one's own work out loud. Another reason, is to get someone else's point of view on the flow of the story. When piecing together a novel, it's hard to take the flow of the novel in perspective when you are editing and composing in chunks, as opposed to taking it in as a whole.

Doing this has helped me tremendously. I have found that some of my character's dialogue is beyond extra dry and boring, so it'll be a nice project to spruce it up a bit. Reading aloud has also helped me to gain more confidence in my writing. Looking at the words on the page over and over again is much different than reading those words out loud and giving your story actual life. It amazed me at how well my characters have come into existence and have interacted with each other, how well the story fits their gifts and vices, and how awesome the climaxes have come to fruition. This isn't to really brag about myself as a writer. I think, and I'm sure many other writer's out there will agree, being a writer isn't exactly about having an ego trip. If anything, I am the hardest critic of my own writing and tend to dismiss some of my work as mediocre or poor, while others would consider it near masterpiece.

My next step with the novel is to let it sit for a couple weeks...let it stew in its own essence so I can ponder on the book as a whole and come back to it with a refreshed outlook and edit the heck out of it. This novel has definitely pushed my own limits as a writer. This isn't a PG rated story, like the Expired Reality ones have been so far. This is more R rated and definitely intended for more mature readers. Some of the subject matter has stretched my own skills and beliefs as a writer and have definitely caused me to grow, and my storytelling to grow to a level that can benefit anyone reading my stories.

In the next two weeks that I have the novel sitting to the side, I am going to be working on the short stories that will be coming out prior to the novel itself. There are 3 of them I will be working on and all of them will be available for free once they are released. They act as mini prequels to the novel itself and will give some insight to a few of the main characters. I was hoping to have these short stories done by the end of June, but that isn't going to happen. They will be available sometime before the end of July though.

I hope everyone is looking forward to Black Earth: End of the Innocence! I have truly had an experience writing it and hope that it shows how I have grown not just as a person, but as a writer.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Note Cards

While doing the revisions to Black Earth, like any novel, eventually I get to the part where I have to figure out the order and pacing of the scenes in the book. When I wrote the Expired Reality books it was a little bit easier because I didn't have too many chapters or scenes spread out too bad. Once I came around to the 2nd Expired Reality novel, Lost Birth, I had almost doubled the amount of chapters that the first book had, yet the book was shorter and more fast paced, so it was a little more challenging trying to figure out the pacing and order of some of the scenes.

I'm sure the severity and challenge of this issue can also be attributed to the fact that the Expired Reality novels take place over a period of 24 hours each book, making each scene more intense and more directly connected to the ones before and after it. Black Earth: End of the Innocence takes place over a roughly 12 hour period and feels like it has more characters involved in it than the Expired Reality novels have so far, even though that may not be technically true.

I found the easiest way to deal with figuring out how to arrange scenes in my novels is to use a deck of note cards. See, I am a very visual individual, so I do much better seeing the bigger picture when trying to sort things out. So I take a note card and write down the scene it represents, doing that for every scene in the book, and then I lay them all out and rearrange them accordingly. Then I go back and rearrange the actual scenes in the novel according to the order of the note cards. If there are a set of characters that don't have any scenes for 8-10 chapters, then those scenes need to be rearranged for better balance, instead of having the novel too focuses on on set of characters for too long.

Originally, I was using colored Post-It Note's. I used the colors to represent whose scenes were being written down for easy visual reference. But this time around, for Black Earth, I am using regular note cards and I use colored ink to write the scene out depending on where the scene is taking place, this way I have at a glance how often certain scenes pop up and if the flow of the story is even. The final and most reliable way to check the flow of a story is to read through it completely in a few shots, but note cards help get things on the right track! :D

Friday, May 8, 2009

Leading the Way

I think nowadays too many people fall into a little niche called a ‘comfort zone’. We go on with our lives, day after day, falling into the same routines and the same habits and consciously fight to keep those routines and habits intact. I feel we do this for many different reasons, one of which is so we’ll know what to expect every day so we can feel ‘safe’. Another reason is so we can ‘control’ our situation. If there’s nothing new coming at us, nothing that we didn’t already expect or plan for, then we can breeze through the day quiet easily and not have to deal with confrontation/challenges that we may otherwise have had to face.

Lately, I have been challenged with a crossroads in my own life. I have been challenged with the opportunity to stand up for myself, for what I believe in, at the possible sacrifice of one of life’s necessities. I believe we come across these crossroads at different times in our lives. It is a point where we are forced to make a decision to either continue in the same routine, our ‘comfort zone’, or break out of the mundane into something new, something extraordinary. Sometimes these crossroads are created when our ethics or morals are challenged, sometimes they are created when we are faced with several different roads to take in our life and we are forced to pick one. I believe in picking the one less traveled. Far too often we want to continue down the familiar, down the road where we know every nook and cranny of the path and there is nothing to excite, scare or challenge us.

When our ethics, our morals, whatever it is that we believe in, are threatened or challenged, do we try to work AROUND the situation so we can continue on with life but not face the threat? Or do we stand up, face the threat, and stand our ground with what we believe in? Do we speak out against evil or injustice, or do we wait in the sidelines, hoping for someone else to speak up so we can grab onto their coattails? When you are faced with an almost impossible decision, do you allow your circumstances or those around you to determine your position on a matter? Because your life is in a tough spot, or because your friends won’t be your ‘friends’ any longer because you won’t fall into their habits of self-depreciation, do you go along for the ride to fit in, or do you take that moment in time as an opportunity to stand up and say no? Sometimes this is simply a matter of confidence, but other times it is simply a matter of fear that prevents us from acting the way we should act, the way we were made to act.

What I have learned in the last couple weeks, is that sometimes you are put in a situation, or allowed to go through a particular situation, specifically so that you can lead the way for others who are intimidated or fearful of the situation itself. Sometimes you may be at school or work, and others believe what you believe, but won’t stand up for their beliefs because they are afraid what others may think or how they may be treated because of it. Nobody wakes up in the morning and wishes for confrontation that day, but sometimes confrontation and challenges are inevitable if we want to succeed in life. Sometimes we simply need to stand our ground, and the path that God has wanted for us the whole time opens up and allows us passage. A bible verse that comes to mind is Esther 4:14 "If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” This verse was brought to my attention by a good friend of mine and it explains my point so well. God can always find someone to stand up for the good in this world, but what if he’s picked you or I? Do I want to be one of the one’s that simply waits for someone else to stand up, or do I want to follow my calling to take a stand against injustice wherever it may crop up?

This isn’t to say that standing up for what you believe in is easy or fun. Sometimes it can come at a great sacrifice, as martyrdom does, and sometimes it can leave you lonely and wondering if you even did the right thing. Standing up for ethics, morals and principles that this world can too easily neglect or pretend don’t exist, is the right thing. Sometimes we may feel that it’s just us and God that are standing up in the storm, and that’s okay. Sometimes, that has to be enough. Sometimes standing up for your principles will show who your true friends are, and even reveal who your enemies are. And that needs to happen. Too often, we surround ourselves with people that tell us what we want to hear. We surround ourselves with others who accept us because we don’t stand up for what we believe in, and we trade that defining attribute for the sense of security, the sense of acceptance. We should be fulfilled knowing that we are accepted by God and secure in knowing that whatever we may face, if we follow Him, we will come through to the other side. We may not be unscathed, though, and I think that a perception that many have is that leading the Christian life will keep us safe from harm and safe from turmoil. That’s not always true, though. Sometimes we will be hurt, by those we thought were friends, by those we find are enemies. But God has us in His hands and will carry us through to our destiny, and we will find healing along the way.

The very idea of standing up for oneself isn’t all that easy to accept sometimes, but I strongly feel it is what we need to do a lot more of. There is a line, of being humble and serving others in a Christ-like manner, but that line can be crossed and when it is, it is our responsibility to stand up for our beliefs, to protect the boundaries God has sought for us to set up. Sometimes standing up for those beliefs will cause us to lose jobs, friends, money, opportunities, but what is gained is greater than all of those things. Some people call this a revolution, some call it rebellion. I simply ask, what do you believe in and are you living your life in such a way that it sets an example of that belief for others to see, even if that ‘other’ is just God Himself?

Friday, May 1, 2009

GraphicMail and Benchmark Email

Recently I ended up switching the service I use to create and send my monthly email newsletters. Previously, I had been using a service called GraphicMail. A decent website that incorporates pre-made templates, a half-decent pricing system, and easy-to-run reports on your sent emails, the service was doing well for me until I, through researching other services, found one that works twice as good for me.

Benchmark Email is an email newsletter service that scores high in my book for a couple of reasons:

First, the price:

GraphicMail, at the lower end of the pricing spectrum, offers 2000 send credits (emails) per month for a consistent price of $9.95 per month. Those credits DO NOT rollover to the next month, meaning you lose them and the 2000 start over the next month. GraphicMail does however have a pay-as-you-go plan that is $49.95 for 2000 credits that DO rollover month to month.

Benchmark Email, at the lower end of the pricing spectrum, offers 600 emails a month for $9.95, none of which rollover to the next month. However, I spoke with Benchmark Email support and they stated they have initiated a new pricing system that can be used if you want to pay according to the size of your email list, starting at 1000 emails for $18.95/month.

Second, the newsletter editor:

GraphicMail allows you to choose from over 100 templates that can be customized by you or they offer to create a template that is tailored to your business for an additional charge of $350. The editor they have to customize the templates is Microsoft Word based…horrible for graphic applications in my own opinion. Using rows and columns, you can update the content of the newsletter, the colors and the overall look, but I don’t find it to be very user-friendly.

Benchmark Email uses a drag and drop editor that is a lot easier to use and customize. You can customize just about every color scheme in the newsletter using pre-made templates from their website. You can incorporate videos, your own personal logo and any links you have. It’s just easy and made creating an email newsletter a faster, simpler process.

Third, reporting:

Both sites have a decent report feature, but I happen to like the appearance and simplicity of Benchmark Email’s better. A bit more clean cut, as is their site and layout as a whole. They give you a pie chart that shows how many emails were opened, not opened yet, or bounced because of bad address, including a click rate of the links included in your newsletter…everything in a quick glance.

All, which for me, as busy as I can get, made Benchmark the easy choice.

You can check out Benchmark at

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

From the Ashes...

Ahhhh. Smell that? Smells like progress. I love that smell. You know what smell I like better than progress? Garlic bread? Patchouli incense? A soft spring breeze coasting along an open field of flowers? No...renewal.

It's been a while since I last posted a blog, or sent out an email newsletter, or even updated my website. It's been a while because I got stuck in a rut. I had identity issues, not just with my writing but with myself as an author. I was letting the negative things in life get the best of me.

For the longest while, I've believed that God gave me the gift of writing. And for the last couple of years, I've pursued that to the very, very best of my ability. Unfortunately, I never learned to fully let go and give it to Him. Instead, I've been clutching everything in my life close to my chest, as if I had a winning poker hand and was just waiting for everyone at the table to plunk their bets down before I revealed it. Boy was I wrong. Not only did I not have a winning poker hand, I wasn't even holding the number of cards needed to make a full hand in the first place. It seems the closer we hold on to things, the more we destroy them and cause them to fade from our grip.

So it seems I've received a wake up call. Reluctantly, I started giving God those things that I've been trying to hide from writing, my job situation, even my family ties. These are all things I've thought for the longest time I could manage on my own - finagle my way out of, scheme my way through. But in the end, I've just been spinning my dilapidated wheels into nothingness.

No longer.

I feel reborn, as if a fresh spirit of purpose, of destiny, has been bestowed upon me. A fire within me, as if a phoenix has risen from the ashes, catching my very soul ablaze with its mere presence. The light in my eyes feels brighter, the grip on my pen feels stronger and more dedicated. Now's the time for the tides to turn and I'm giving it all I got. To burn out bright, so to say. What good is living if we can't enjoy the life around us, right?

For those that aren't familiar with me as a writer at all, please take some time out and visit the following links. Some of these things are still under construction, and for that I ask for a bit of patience, but other items are up and ready for you to read and revel in. I only ask that you leave your losing poker hand at the door and let the tide take you where it will.