Monday, December 19, 2011

A Little Bit of Restructure

I know I've been MIA for a while and that's mainly because of the holidays, my 3 1/2 month old son, and other personal matters. But even though I haven't been writing or marketing much, I have been thinking, long and hard, about where I want this writing career to go in 2012. After carefully watching the success of other self-published authors, reading plenty of tips and tricks from social marketing gurus, and doing some intense soul-searching in regards to my own direction as a published author, I've come up a restructuring plan to implement in the new year -

- Price changes to some of my books, ebook and paperback. This means if you have been wanting to grab a copy of some of my 99 cent ebooks or $10 paperbacks, you best do it now before the prices are raised. My reason for raising the prices on these will be explained in an upcoming blog, but you can expect the dollar amount on some of my currently cheaper books to go up shortly after the new year. (Head over to my website,, to snag my books at their lower prices now.)

- The five hundredth reincarnation of my email newsletter. For reasons known and unknown to me, my attempts to run an email newsletter in the past have failed miserably, but it will be back on track and ready to leave the station in January.

- The end of the Black Earth series. During National Novel Writing Month this year I managed to crank out two, 50,000 word drafts, for the third and fourth (final) book in the series. Expect them both to be available for purchase this Summer.

- The release of Lost Birth, the second novel in my young adult series. Lost Birth has taken me months to get the editing, cover design, and other details right and it will finally be released in ebook format in January, with paperback to follow shortly after.

- Swag. I've been meaning to update my Zazzle storefront and create some new products that tie in with my Black Earth and Expired Reality series, but I haven't had a whole lot of time lately. This is something that will definitely be snowballing as soon as we cross over the New Year's weekend.

- New writing projects. Once the Black Earth series is tied up, I will be focusing a majority of my writing prowess on the Expired Reality series, including the third novel in the series and the shorty story episode series - the LZR Project - which I wanted to release more than a year ago.

There will be other changes as well, some to streamline my business practices and others to help me write more, interact with my fans/audience more, and read more. (On a side note, I had a goal to read 71 books this last year and I'm just about to finish number 5. I kind of fell short on that.)

As far as the holidays go, I will be taking next week off for some rest and relaxation. I do my best to take a little time off of writing toward the end of the year to give me time to reflect on what I did right/wrong with my writing career over the last year and prepare myself for what I want to do great in the coming year. It also gives me time to spend with my family, now that I have a little one to share Christmas/New Years with.

I'll see you all on the other side. Once New Year's weekend is over with, I'll be crawling out of my hole to bring this list of changes to fruition. Have a safe and merry Christmas and a happy New Years!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What's in a Name?

Occasionally I like to read various blog posts and online articles on marketing, self-publishing and anything that falls in between. Over the last few months I've been seeing a lot of posts on the value a name holds to an author. The advice goes a little something like: Self-published authors should sell themselves, as authors, and not just sell their books. This way, backlists aren't ignored and if an author wants to change tracks and write something fresh, their following will (hopefully) do what they do best - follow. Selling yourself also brings your personality to the table, something that can help garner more readers and more book sales.

In this regard, I've been meaning to change the URL of this blog to my name, instead of A Broken Reality. The title, A Broken Reality, was originally used to describe the content within my blog, but it doesn't really make as much sense now as it once used to. I picked it because it had a connection to my novel series and time traveling and alternate histories. However, my intention is to start covering topics outside of just my novel series, and so I'll go ahead and move the blog URL to fall under the umbrella that is my name.

As of this coming Monday, December 12th, my blog address will be instead of I don't think changing the URL will drop any of you as followers, nor will any of my posts disappear, but I will need to update my blog link in some different areas like my website, my ebooks, and social networking sites.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Lost Birth Cover Peek

I am finally on the right track to finishing Lost Birth, the second book in my Expired Reality young adult series. Here's a sneak peek at some of the cover art for the book, illustrated by my good friend, Jelani Parham -

And here is an image of the timepiece from the books to be used for the back cover art when the paperback cover spread is done -

My goal is to finish the ebook edition of the book by Christmas and release it right after the start of the new year. After that, I'll work on the paperback edition, which always takes a little longer to format.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Month of 100 Books

Here we are at the beginning of December. The air is crisp and cool, the season for giving is coming into full swing, and I am feeling a bit...I don't know...feisty.

I'm not sure what happened, but as soon as I hit the 100,000 word NaNoWriMo goal I set for myself last month, I've been feeling a bit amped up. Almost as if I can do anything. I'm invincible, ready to break down walls, ready to take down the sky.

It's definitely a strange feeling. I guess reaching that ginormous goal really got my blood going and taught me that I can do anything if I put a little more effort into my goals. I say that because I have a very bad habit of procrastinating on things, or worse, falling victim to thoughts that my projects won't really pan out the way I imagine they will. This causes me to give up in the middle of projects, throwing away the beginnings of great things. Well, potentially great things.

Yesterday I finally sat down and updated all of my sales records, a task I've been procrastinating on for the last - oh since July. Really bad, I know. But looking at my numbers yesterday really opened my eyes to the fact that I'm not even close to where I want to be as a published writer. I want to sell a million books. I want to be able to pay some bills with money my own writing brings in each month. I'm not even close to being there. But then again, I'm not really doing my best to get there either.

Before you say how much great work I really do accomplish - including the 100,000 word goal for November - I have to stop you and point out that even if you think I'm doing great, doesn't mean I feel like I'm doing my best. There's more potential in me, way more, and it needs to be unleashed. If you think the 100,000 word goal was amazing...just wait.

To help prompt the little writer's flame that is still burning within me, starting this month I'm going to be setting sales goals for myself. I've always despised the salesman mindset, but I figure if I can set outrageous word count goals for myself and reach them in half the time, I think I can set some easy sales goals and achieve them without issue. Well, too much issue anyway.

In December I want to sell 100 books, a mix of both paperback and ebook. For almost eight months now I've sold an average of fifty to sixty books total for each month, most of those being Kindle ebooks. That's spread across the five ebooks I have available. I want to break that fifty threshold and reach a higher level though, and continue reaching new levels each month.

I'm asking all of my readers and followers to help me reach this goal. Help spread the word by telling your friends and family and others in your social networking circles about my stories. If you've enjoyed something of mine, please make sure you have posted a review on Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, etc, etc, etc. Reviews are much more valuable than I think people know.

If you haven't read any of my work yet, please head over to my website - - where you can pick up my novella, Picture Perfect, for free through the month of December. A little treat to whet your appetite for my bigger literary pieces. There you will find the rest of my works as well, including my Christian spec fiction series, Black Earth, and my young adult series, Expired Reality.

This month my goal is 100. Next month it will be 200. And each month I will continue to push myself harder and do my best to reach my goal of a million sales overall. I will of course keep everyone updated, and I'll post a counter on my website in the next few days so everyone can check my status in regards to each of my monthly goals.

Welcome to December people, the month of a hundred books!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving and the End of Nano

Well, I managed to finish my 100,000 word goal for NaNoWriMo on the 16th of this month. That's double the word count challenge (50,000 words) in half the time! And I have two brand new drafts under my belt, both of which I'll be working hard on once December comes around.

On that note, I will be offline until after Thanksgiving weekend. I want to wish all my followers/readers a great Thanksgiving. I am very grateful for all of you who have followed my path through self-publishing and my life as a writer, and I look forward to sharing some great projects with you as we wrap up 2011 and enter a brand new year.

Head over to Smashwords and grab a free copy of my novella, Picture Perfect, for your Kindle, Nook, etc. Just use coupon code - JZ47S - when checking out. Just a little way of me saying thanks for following this humble writer's blog.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

40,000 and Still Going Strong

Last night I hit 40,000 words in my NaNoWriMo novel. I can't believe I'm burning through this thing this fast, especially since most of my weekdays are taken up watching my two month old son. Regardless, I'm still heading strong toward my 100,000 word goal for the month. And after I blow out another 10,000 words, I'm going to flip over to the second book I'm working on in my November writing craze.

All I have to say is I wish every month was this productive!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Double the Nano, Double the Insanity

Well, we're just hours away from November 1st and the start of NanoWrimo - or National Novel Writing Month for those of you who think I'm speaking an alien language. I wait all year for this wonderful writing season and this year has been no exception. I am squeeing - whatever that means - with excitement! (Like the Nano pumpkin carving I did this year?)

Last year I dived into NanoWrimo with a brand new project - a new novel - that sort of fell into my other series but didn't. I wanted a fresh slate to work from and so I embarked on writing something completely from scratch - new world, new characters, new setting. It made Nano a pain for me. I struggled through the November of 2010 wondering if it would be the first year I failed Nano. I'm happy to say I made it through to the 50,000 word goal, but this year I decided to take a different approach.

To kill two - or three - birds with one stone, I decided to do two Nano books this year - the last two books in my Black Earth series, closing the series off so I can then devote all my time and attention to the Expired Reality series. That's a goal of 100,000 words by the end of the month. A lofty achievement, considering I watch our newborn son full time during the day. Regardless, I will reach the finish line and in the end will have two more novels to add to my repertoire.

Time to start the caffeine-crazed, sleep-deprived, out of control, totally insane month of writing! To all of you other NanoWrimos out there, good luck and great writing. ;) Find me at

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Endangered Memories Proof Revision

There's a lot that goes into paperback production of a book. A lot more than most people give self-published authors credit for. There are many factors involved with book design - font, text size, cover design, paper color and quality, cover formatting, etc, etc, etc. If even one little setting is off in your word processing program, or one minor detail isn't caught the hundredth time through, it can leave a nasty scar on an otherwise beautiful creation, not to mention a bad taste in a reader's mouth.

I have a number of paperbacks to my name and I seem to learn something new each time I go through the process of turning my blood and sweat drenched manuscript into a physical form for my readers to enjoy. I'm by no means an expert - I realize that every time I go through this process - but I seem to be getting the hang of what to watch for before finalizing the physical editions of my fiction.

Just recently I ordered the proof copy of my latest work, Endangered Memories. Surprisingly, it turned out with minimal issues. The cover came out the way I wanted it to - including the spine and back cover w/barcode. The internal components came out pretty good:

Font is big enough ( Times New Roman -11)...

the hyphenation came out good...

the chapter headings are decorative, but not too fancy...

The only real issue I've come across is the giant space at the bottom of each page, between the page number and the bottom edge of the page.

This mistake is one I made in a paperback I created years back. In those days, I was so excited just to have my work in print that I refused to go through multiple proof copies to get things down perfect and my books suffered for it.

This time, within minutes I realized my footer size was set at .7" instead of the .5" I meant for it to be at. Although it seems like a minor correction, resetting my footer from .7" to .5" threw off all of my spacing, hyphens and page layout. After fixing everything, I managed to get the page numbers down another line and closed some of that gap at the bottom.

Now that the book is in the process of populating to Amazon, I'm off to get edits done on the second book in the series - Lost Birth - so I can start formatting that. For anyone who's interested, here's a link to the paperback on Amazon -

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NanoWrimo 2011

We're almost halfway through October, meaning it's almost time for NanoWrimo - or National Novel Writing Month! Each year, the worldwide contest requires those daring enough to complete a 50,000 word draft in 30 days. There's no monetary reward - just a certificate you get to print out and hang on your wall, and most importantly, the rough draft to a complete novel.

I've participated in NanoWrimo for the last 6 years now, completing it each year. During most years I end up completing the 50,000 word count by the middle of the month, so this year I decided to turn things up a notch. I'm going to use NanoWrimo to complete the final two books in my Black Earth series. So by the end of the challenge this year, I will have a pair of 50,000 word manuscripts ready to be embellished, polished, and sent off to my editor.

If you're participating, or you just want to check out my progress in November, head over to my profile at the official NanoWrimo website and friend me. ;)

Friday, October 7, 2011

The End of Black Earth

For months now, I've been working on my current WIP (Work in Progress): Dark Horizons, the third novel in my Expired Reality series. My original intention was to release the first three books in the series in a row, one a month, this last summer. The first, Endangered Memories, has been released, with the second, Lost Birth, coming out of the gates hopefully next month.

Even though I'm about 75% through a rough draft of Dark Horizons, I can't shake the feeling that it's not the project I should be working on at the moment. Once my son was born at the end of August, my writing time vanished for a while. With weeks of no writing, I've had a creative build-up of sorts, and I have a HUGE desire to finish up the Black Earth series.

My original intention was to bounce between the Expired Reality series and the Black Earth series while alternating book releases within each series. As good as that idea seemed a while ago, it doesn't seem to be panning out too well now. I have fans who want to see what happens with Black Earth and for them to have to wait while I finish books in another series is kind of lame. Besides, my Expired Reality series is going to run almost a dozen novels, if not more, so I'd like to give that series 100% of my time and effort instead of bouncing between it and the Black Earth series.

All this said, I've decided to finish off the Black Earth series. My original intention was for the series to run about 4-5 novels and in keeping with that, I'm going to do two more books and close the series off.

Coincidentally, next month is National Novel Writing Month, or NanoWrimo. (Check out to see what it's all about.) Seeing how I have a lot of writing to do with two books, I'm going to use NanoWrimo to do so. I usually complete the 50,000 word limit early on in the month of November anyway, so I'm just going to do my best to complete two, 50,000 word manuscripts for the contest this year. Then I'll polish them up and hand them off to my editor after the new year.

Keep tabs on this blog to find out more about the next two Black Earth novels. I'll be posting plot ideas, writing samples, and some character profiles as I get into the thick of it. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Baby Nolan

I know I've been out of the game for almost a month now, but on August 23rd, my son, Nolan Bailey Alderman, was born. Since then it's been a bit of a whirlwind. All my expectations of what I thought fatherhood would feel like went right down the drain the moment my baby boy was in my arms. What an incredible blessing!

That being said, it's been a challenging couple of weeks. My wife went back to work last week and this has left me home with Nolan most of the day. Last week I mistakenly tried to balance work and baby and it blew up in my face. This week seems to be going a little bit smoother.

I'm glad to be getting back into the swing of things. In the next couple weeks I am going to be reevaluating my project lists and some of my marketing strategies, so news of those changes will come through here. After today though I'll be moving a lot of my talk of baby Nolan to my other blog - - to keep this one focused on writing and self-publishing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Awakening Evarun and the Appeal of Short Story Series

I recently had the honor of reading the first installment in Tom Barczak's new short story series, Awakening Evarun. If you've never heard of Tom Barczak, I can understand. Awakening Evarun is his first 'published' piece of work, but I found this debut piece of fantasy to be quite entertaining.

I had the opportunity to speak with Tom on the phone a while ago and we had a chat - author to author - about how we found the idea of short story series to be quite compelling. I think in this age of self-publishing, with authors having control over every aspect of their work, it's neat to think in terms outside just writing novels.

I've always been a huge fan of the Star Wars universe. Although I love the writing of most of the authors that are given the privilege to write books in the series, I have always been more enamored with the simple aspect of diversity. The Star Wars universe started with a group of main characters and has branched off into a whole universe of fictional goodies. Novellas, short stories, cookbooks, merchandise, novels, movies...the list goes on and on. It's easy to pick up a book and read it, understand what's going on, and want to dive into other parts of the universe.

This delightful appeal is one I have aimed for in my own series

I've had plans in the works for a couple years now to start an episodic short story series called the LZR Project. I have five or six drafts of episodes done already and am hoping to resurrect this project and start writing on it again this next year. I did the episode thing with my novella, Picture Perfect, before I combined the episodes into book format. I just like the idea of readers being able to bite off little chunks of a grander story here and there, weeks or months at a time. It's a nice diversion to keep my readers entertained while I continue to carve away at the novels, which take considerably more time and effort.

In that regard, when Tom told me he was wanting to try out this short story episode idea, I was excited. Especially considering he is also a talented artist who is illustrating parts of these stories.

Check out the first installment of Awakening Evarun if you get a chance. It's well worth the $2.99. Below is my review.

Awakening Evarun is a great start to what Tom plans on being a six-part short story series. The pace of the story is easy and intriguing, making it a quick read that feels satisfying, yet leaves you wanting more when you're finished. Tom's writing style is definitely a gift and I look forward to more from the author.

On top of that I have to praise the illustrations. It's not that often you come across an author who can also illustrate his stories with such great detail. It's also not that often you come across an illustrated story as this. What a treat. For the price, you get great artwork and an intriguing storyline. Tom Barczak is definitely an author to check out. 

Purchase Awakening Evarun on Amazon -
Tom's website - 
Tom's blog -

Friday, August 19, 2011

Chronicling A Legacy

As I write this post, my wife and I are still patiently waiting for our son, Nolan Bailey Alderman, to be born. He's actually not due until August 26th, but it feels like we've been waiting for years for him to come out of there.

In the meantime, I've found something productive to do that will hopefully benefit my coming son, and me. I've started a handwritten journal where I am going to detail the walk that my wife and I have taken with God these last few years - along with the adventures I've experienced during my lifetime. Hopefully I can drop some gems of wisdom throughout the journal and help my son to learn from some of my mistakes. Hopefully he can marvel at the outrageous things I did in my youth, and appreciate the incredible steps of faith I've taken as an adult. Hopefully he can benefit from the one story I haven't fabricated - couldn't have as big as my imagination is.

Someday, this journal will be considered a relic. I figure the art of hand writing anything seems to be getting more and more lost as we enter the digital age. I'll admit, I'm succumbing to the convenience that computers and smartphones offer. But there's just something ten times better about getting something handwritten rather than getting something typed out or preconceived. A poem, rather than a pre-typed greeting card. A letter, rather than an email. Heck, my grandfather and I write each other and he even keeps to the old tradition of sealing some of the envelopes with wax.

A bygone art that needs to be appreciated more.

I'll give this journal to Nolan someday in the future when he's grown enough to understand - and hopefully appreciate - all that's written in it. In the meantime, I have an adventure to write.Or rather, record.

Monday, August 8, 2011


The other day the doctor said our son could come any day now, even though my wife's due date isn't until August 26th. Being so close in proximity to the due date of our first child, I haven't been able to keep my head screwed on straight in regards to anything writing-related. That's not to say I'm panicking or anything - I feel quite ready for our kid to come - but it's to say that my focus has been a bit scattered. I've been helping my wife get the apartment ready for the baby while also getting our insurance matters in order, things that have been pulling the majority of my attention away from writing. When I do get a chance to sit down and write, all I can think about is the baby coming.

Oh well. I'm sure my creativity will refocus itself once little Nolan Bailey Alderman is with us. Any day now... :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Is Redemption Always Expected in Christian Fiction?

I received another two star review a couple weeks ago, this one for the second volume in my edgy Christian speculative fiction series, Black Earth: The Broken Daisy. The review as a whole wasn't the most positive I have received, but there was one major thing that really stuck out to me - the reader's disappointment with the direction one of my main characters is going in the series.

In the same reviewer's honest analysis of the first book in the series - Black Earth: End of the Innocence  - she made complaint that my character, Cynthia Ruin - or Sin to her friends - hadn't found complete redemption by the end of the book:

"Also disappointing was the story line for Sin. I would have liked to have seen her evolve more, and truly regret her actions. It felt like she started to regret them a little, but never truly asked God to forgive her."

Aside from me pointing out that this is a series, and that character development, including themes of redemption, can be spread across multiple volumes, I would also argue that, as in real life, people don't always turn to God once something doesn't go their way - if at all. And just because one has accepted Christ, that doesn't mean there isn't a tough road ahead, or that the individual in question isn't going to stumble or backslide along the way to complete redemption. Some may not even make the complete life change that God plans for them. It's sad, but it's a reality.

In the review for the second book in the series, this reviewer continued to voice her frustrations with Cynthia's character development:

"I had hoped to see Cynthia really regret her bad behavior and find redemption, she was leaning towards that at the end of book one, however she ends up seducing Nathan and not regretting anything."

My intention isn't to argue with the review itself. These were the reviewer's honest opinions and she's entitled to them. I appreciate her taking the time to do the review. The comments I highlighted do raise an interesting curiosity for me though. In fiction - especially Christian fiction - has it become expected of the characters to find redemption and turn to God for their answer to life's meaning? I mean, is it a matter-of-fact expectation for the majority of characters involved?

I'll give a bit of background on my character in question: Cynthia Ruin. The first book in the series opens up on the night of her high school graduation, an even which she vehemently opposes. Instead of participating, she instead opts to spend time in a local night club. Throughout most of her high school life, Cynthia is inconspicuously known as the Pink Rabbit, a high school slut who sleeps with and does favors for the guys of her school. With each favor she performs, she stamps a pink rabbit on the body of the male giving him a particular status symbol around the school. It's even rumored she has done favors for hand-picked females.

In other words, this isn't a character your mother would want you to bring home. But that's Cynthia Ruin. Cynthia is raped the night of her graduation at aforementioned night club by an angry individual who was once turned down by the Pink Rabbit. Rejection is a powerful drug that can make many do things they wouldn't otherwise do.

Throughout the story, Cynthia begins to regret her actions. The rape endured at the night club strikes fear and vulnerability in her and causes her to question why she does what she does. But she isn't exactly ready to embrace a loving God. Not just yet.

Cynthia eventually crosses the path of the main protagonist of the story, Nathan Pierce, who is a born-again Christian but struggles with his own ideals of religion and faith. By the end of the first book, Cynthia redeems some of her actions by saving someone's life, but this still doesn't bring her to a point where she's going to drop to her knees and worship God.

I don't want to spoil too much of the story, but in the second volume of the Black Earth series, the world falls into darkness and because of this, Cynthia reverts to her old ways of dealing with life - drinking and sexual promiscuity. She sees Nathan - a Christian - as a personal challenge that needs to be broken of his proclaimed virginity. So she seduces him, claiming that there is no need to hold on to morals or values with the world ending, and they have sex.

It isn't until the end of the second book that Cynthia starts to really have a desire to clean up her act. But even at that point she still doesn't come right out and seek forgiveness for deeds.

So this brings me back to my curiosity: In fiction - especially Christian fiction - has it become expected of the characters to find redemption and turn to God for their answer to life's meaning?

Maybe not all the characters? Any? Isn't the point of Christian fiction to be inspirational, to showcase themes of redemption. Maybe the point is to reveal the character of God to a fallen world. Maybe it's to entertain? I guess it all really depends on your storyline and your characters.

Isn't it a bit presumptuous to assume that characters in Christian fiction - or even those we know in real life - are always going to see things the way we see them, or even how God sees them? This is a fallen world - as is the world in my novels. Darkness overshadows the land, filling it with murder and hate, destruction and chaos. Vices run rampant - sex, drugs and alcohol, among dark and deadly things. But in the world we live in, and my fictional world, there is also light and redemption and salvation. Although, not everyone wants to take hold of such things. Especially in a world falling into darkness, many simply want to party until the planet implodes. Such as in life, evil does win sometimes, and good isn't always accepted by those we love.

So, I'm wondering if some people just automatically expect happy turnouts for the characters in the stories they read. At least in Christian fiction. Who knows what direction Cynthia will go in the third volume? She may end up becoming an anti-hero. She may turn into the story's greatest villain. Or she may just wander through the darkness, ignoring the light altogether.

And it's in watching Cynthia wander that some of us open our eyes and notice those around us who are wandering just the same.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Welcome Home Books, Goodbye Borders

Before I get into my experience with Borders, I want to clear one thing up. I'm not trying to complain or vent about not receiving payment for a few books. I don't think the world needs to be turned upside down for such things. This is simply my experience and the way I handled it. As a self-published author, I know I am going to take losses sometimes. I just figured I'd share my slice of experience with others.

I took a field trip Wednesday night to my local Borders book store. No, it wasn't to purchase stacks of books before the company goes out of business. I already have stacks of books sitting on my desk that still need to be read. No, I went down to my local Borders to pick up the remainder of my books that haven't sold in the last eight months.

See, I did a book signing in their store in December 2010. The store 'purchased' ten books from me to put on their local author shelf. I was pretty excited at the time. Ten books is a big sale and the sales manager told me Borders would pay full price for my books - which is unheard of by the way. Usually big name bookstores as such will purchase books at a discount, sometimes even bringing a self-published authors bottom line into the red. My sales for this transaction were supposed to come to about $145. Not too shabby for ten books.

Only problem is I never saw any of that money. Zip. Zero. Zilch. 0.

I gave the sales manager an invoice a few days after the signing and she then sent it on to Borders corporate or wherever the invoice goes to be paid. Months went by and I heard nothing. It wasn't the sales manager's fault. She said she contacted Borders corporate and sent my invoice, as I would have expected her to. It was Borders who dragged this out.

Months later I heard that Borders was going to shut down some of its stores and file bankruptcy and I panicked and contacted the store to see if I could get my unsold books back. Each book costs something out of my pocket, so if a store that had my books - and hadn't paid for them yet - was going to go out of business, naturally I wanted those books back. The sales manager told me her store was going to stay open but if I wanted my books back she would comply. I thought about it and leaned toward the realization that it might be more beneficial for my books to have the prime real estate that a major book store chain offered rather than have my books sit on my own shelf here at home and collect dust. I told her I would be patient, at least for a little longer.

More months went by. I sent another email to the sales manager requesting information regarding my payment.
She said she was waiting to hear word back from corporate on when I would receive my check. So I said I would be patient still.

Word broke out on the internet a couple days ago that Borders was in the process of liquidating. I sent an email to the sales manager telling her I wished to get my unsold merchandise back, seeing how I hadn't been paid and didn't see any payment in my future. She understood and suggested I came to the store to do it before they got put in the liquidation pile for this coming Friday.

Considering I only sold three books and had seven to pick up, I figured I'd just call the three books a loss. Well, monetary loss. Not really a loss loss. Three more readers - at the very least - have my books out there somewhere. My stories, out in the world, held by complete strangers. That's got to be worth more than the purchase price of the books, right?

When I arrived at the bookstore, the sales manager gave me a printed out email history that detailed the conversations she had been having with Borders in regards to my payment. Essentially, Borders said my book 'sales' to them were pre-petition debt and that legally they couldn't pay me even if they wanted to. I asked what the legal mumbo jumbo meant and the sales manager told me that because I 'sold' Borders the books before they filed bankruptcy, that the sale is protected under bankruptcy law and I have to go through bankruptcy proceedings to get paid for the three that were actually sold.

Yeah. I'm not all that sure it's worth my time to go through the hassle to get my money from those.

Don't get me wrong. I've had a number of good experiences with Borders in the past. This last issue though wasn't the first 'bad' experience I've had with them. Last year, I had a couple stores in Tucson request physical copies of my books that they could review before setting me up with store signings and I never heard back from them. Neither of those sales managers would even see me in person when I dropped off the books, even though they were in store and their store was an hour and a half from my home.

There was another local Borders store manager who said to me he was in talks with his sales manager to set up a date for me to do a store signing. After a number of emails requesting the date, I realized he had decided to simply ignore me and hope that I would go away like a pesky fly nobody wants at their picnic. No signing was ever set up. The year before that, I had a great signing in that store. It was when the management got changed that I had the communication issues.

These experiences are the main reason I try to stick with the local indie bookstores, mainly Bookmans. I get paid right away, I don't get ignored when I request signings, and they fully support self-published authors.

Oh well. Live and learn. My experience with the the Borders sales manager in the case of my missing payment was positive. I'm sorry to see such good people lose their job positions. C'est la vie. I do wish her the best of luck.

At least my books are back and ready to find new homes.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

To Be or Not To Be - Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction

When I originally started writing the first book in my Black Earth series, End of the Innocence, I vaguely referred to it as a Christian sci-fi/fantasy novel. In the book, some of the characters are of the Christian faith and there are some faith-based themes that run throughout. After a while though, I kind of fizzled out the idea of labeling my work as Christian fiction, mainly because I felt there was some edgy content that just wouldn't make it very far in the Christian fiction market.

In a 2-star review that was recently given to Black Earth: End of the Innocence, the reviewer commented on how she was puzzled why the book's description or at least the genre it was classified in didn't clue her in that the book was Christian fiction. I get the feeling she thought she might have been tricked somehow, but that wasn't my intention. I'm not here to wrap a sermon in a story. I simply want to entertain others with my fiction. The old adage, write what you know, is exactly why I have some characters that are of the Christian faith and I have some of my themes lean more toward an all-powerful, loving God and His relationship with creation.

Aside from the negative review, I have also received many positive reviews, some commenting on how happy they are to have found some science fiction with Christian themes, or Christian fiction that isn't corny.

All these references to Christian fiction have caused me to pause and think. What exactly is Christian fiction, and does my work fall into the category?

I think Christian fiction has come along ways over the last few years in developing more entertaining stories that can appeal to Christians and non-Christians alike. Some readers view Christian fiction as Amish 'bonnet' stories that are found gracing the shelves of most Christian bookstores. Others refer to Ted Dekker, Tosca Lee, Frank Peretti and Tim Lahaye when the word Christian fiction is mentioned. Some readers even shake their heads when they hear the genre label because they envision a preachy sermon wrapped in book binding.

And I guess that's where I've been at a dilemma.

See, my stuff isn't exactly appropriate for the typical, mainstream Christian fiction market. There are sexual scenes, there is violence, and there are curse words in some of my stories. Aside from those issues, there are alien races, other planets, time travel and other realities...many things that some Christians don't believe should be considered Christian fiction, let alone things that Christians should be writing about in general. Science Fiction/Fantasy and Christian fiction always seems to be at odds with each other, with very few authors taking the risk to bring about the genre mix.

So, since some of my writing has the makings of an R movie, that means it falls into the mainstream fiction slot for sci-fi/fantasy, right?

Not necessarily.

I've been trolling the Amazon forums here and there to see what readers have to say about self-published writers and their behavior online. I've run across more than one forum that discusses how readers thought they were 'tricked' into reading what they thought was a mainstream novel only to find it was a thinly veiled Christian sermon. Some of these acts of trickery I have found to be quite intentional on the author's part. That just gives Christians and Christian fiction a bad rap.Some of those instances aren't all that intentional though. I venture to assume there are other writers like myself that wonder what side of the fence their fiction lies. Although I don't feel I have the makings of a sermon in my stories, they do contain faith-based themes.

Now before any of you leave me a comment to tell me that genre really doesn't matter, it does. It matters a lot. The genre our fiction falls into determines the demographic we are going to market to, the categories that and Createspace are going to drop us in, and will even influence the direction our blog and other social networking endeavors will go. Genre is a sort of target you put on your work so others can see where it really fits in the scheme of things.

Those of us who do write really edgy Christian fiction - and I have no idea who else is in the same boat as me in regards to this - are in a Catch 22. If we say we're mainstream, we get criticized for our religious/spiritual content. If we say we write Christian speculative fiction - let alone edgy Christian speculative fiction - we get criticized by certain Christian circles about how inappropriate the content in our novels is.


What really breaks the dilemma down into a manageable issue is another question. "Why are we not marketing our books for what they really are?". Is it just because we're afraid of criticism? Afraid of the hot debate that might ensue if we show a bit of violence, a steamy scene, or a bit of crass wording? Don't get me wrong, I don't believe these things need to be overdone for them to work in a story - whether that be a Christian story or a secular story - but I do feel they have their place in fiction.

Moving the debate on what is or isn't appropriate in terms of Christian fiction on the back burner for the moment, I'll address my quandary from a strictly marketing point of view. Regardless what genre our book falls in, if we don't market our book as such, we're losing out on the readers who enjoy that specific genre. As narrow as that crowd may be, they should be the first that we reach out to try and gain attention for our books.

Now I know many Christian fiction writers don't want to be labeled Christian fiction writers because we want our work to be read by non-Christians, and the term Christian fiction can sometimes hold a certain expectation. I have a friend who approached that question with a really good answer. He said he markets to Christians, because that is his general audience, and those Christians, once they have experienced his work, pass it along to those who may or may not be Christian who might like the material. My friend relies on word-of-mouth to relay his work to those who would enjoy it. That's really what marketing is all about, at its core, isn't it?

Well, enough monologuing. Here I go. For those who want to know, for those who care, I'll step out and call my work for what it really is:

Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction.

For those who write/appreciate this sort of genre, drop me a line and lets work together to get works of this nature out to those who enjoy their faith-based fiction with a bit of bite and a bit of the fantastical. :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Best Way to Embrace a Negative Review

Now that self-publishing has taken off like the California Gold Rush, the internet - and bookstores - are booming with self-made creations of literary wonder. Because of this, it's tougher for the readers out there to sift through the mess to find the gems that they will eventually fall in love with.

What is a self-published author to do? How do we rise above the crowd and make ourselves - and our books - stand out? One way is by reputation. Reputation encompasses many different aspects: our attitude toward others online, our involvement in social networking, the quality and content of our books. Reputation is important because without it, people don't know who we are or sometimes even what we do.

One way we establish reputation for our work is through reviews. Reviews are like gold to a self-published author. They give our work weight and legitimacy, and they give the readers out there a - hopefully - honest opinion about our work.

Good reviews are always desired, but what do we do when we get a negative review? How do we react when someone digs into our work with a diamond-plated shovel and pulls everything out only to tear it to pieces in front of you and the watching public?

We take it in stride.

As authors, our online - albeit public - presence is our reputation and our platform. Meaning anything we say or do, any way in which we react with others, adds to the whole definition of who we are to others. Because of this, we can't afford to explode or throw a temper tantrum when someone says something critical - or even outright negative - about our work.

I'll give a very clear example - which most of you might have already seen - of how not to handle a book review. Below the review is a string of comments from the author, blowing up and defending her work, claiming the review was unfair and unjust...

The author of the book reviewed had a complete meltdown when she found out here book was only reviewed with 2/5 stars. I'm not implying her actions should be mocked, but simply used as an example of how not to react to an honest review.

On the other hand, I recently received a 2-star review for my novel Black Earth: End of the Innocence.

Did I blow up at the reviewer? No. Did I argue with the reviewer, citing defenses to shield my work from negative opinions? No. I graciously sent her an email, thanking her for her time. You know why? Because it was her time that was spent reading and reviewing my book. Do I agree with the 2-star review I received? Doesn't really matter. The review isn't for me, it's for the readers.

In that regard, I have a few tips on how to handle a bad review, if you happen to be one of the lucky few who get one. ;) I am by no means an expert, but I think holding your head high and being respectful of everyone online can go a long ways in this business.

First Understand that a review is simply an opinion. Everyone in this world has opinions, and reviewers are expected to proclaim theirs. That's the point of their position. If a reviewer hates your novel, so what? Others may enjoy it. Maybe your book just isn't someone's cup of tea, and that's fine.

Second - Did you request the review? And if so, did you request the review from someone who enjoys books in your genre? I've seen it happen - an author requests a review for their sci-fi/fantasy novel from someone who usually reviews romance books. Odds are, you're not going to get a lot of interest for your material from that reviewer, so make sure to search out reviewers who review in or at least close to your genre.

Third - Every review is a potential opportunity to grow. As much as reviews are people's opinions, they may very well hold learning merit. If a reviewer is complaining about your bad grammar or inconsistent dialogue, then take a moment to look over those items in your work - especially if others have pointed out the same things.

Fourth - Understand that reviewers are taking their time out to not just review your book, but to read it. There are thousands upon thousands of self-published books out there now, and sorting through them to find ones of interest to read is a task unto itself. Those readers then take the time to actually read said book and then to write an in-depth, detailed review. All of that takes time out of a reviewers personal life and time away from others who are waiting in line to be reviewed next.

Fifth - Any news can sometimes be great news. What do I mean by that? Sometimes even a bad review can garner the same - if not more - attention to your work than a good review. I know there are many readers out there that actually skip over purchasing a book on Amazon because the book has numerous 5-star reviews attached to it. The reader wants honest reviews, and even a critical 1 or 2-star review can really build your book into something that is going to catch a reader's eye.

Always remember these simple principles when getting a review, good or bad:
  • Always thank the reviewer for their time.
  • Never defend the review, no matter how harsh it is. The review isn't for your ego, it's for the readers out there.
  • Promote the review to gain attention for your book. This includes asking the reviewer to post his/her's review in as many online locations as they can. Including Goodreads,, Barnes and Noble, Library Thing, etc.
  • Don't request a review from someone if you're not willing to have that review posted everywhere. There are authors who ask to have reviews taken down because they are just too ashamed of them. Don't do that. It's immature and it makes the reviewer not want to deal with you - or self-published authors - in the future.
There are still remnants of a negative stigma attached to self-publishing that many of us are trying to hurdle over. Don't make things worse by blowing up or tearing a reviewer apart just because they were critical of your work. Be mature. Be an author worth checking out, not one that readers want to run from because of your bad attitude. Give the reviewers who are taking their time to read your stuff a pat on the back so they'll continue to read and review self-published work.

Photo credit - Creative Donkey

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gideon's 300

For almost two years, my wife and I have been living on an income of $1200/month. Our bills came close to or exceeded $1700/month, yet God came through with the shortfall every single month. Although that shortfall came in many various forms - royalties from my novels, help from the church, assistance from friends, mysterious monetary findings - we were provided for.

A few weeks ago, my wife's job of 4+ years ended, leaving us with an income of $120/month.

During this walk, I've heard it said many times that because our circumstances change that maybe that's God's way of telling us that He's changed his mind or the plan we thought He laid out for us. I've come to learn that simply looking at your circumstances cannot be trusted as a clear indicator of God's will for your life. If that were true, when things get hard, we'd turn tail and run in the opposite direction God intends for us to go.

No, most times God expects us to follow Him regardless of our circumstances. And sometimes, He works those circumstances to bring us victory and Him glory.

Take Gideon for instance. He had 32,000 men at his disposal to do away with the Midianites and Amalakites that had been tormenting the people of Israel. But God thought that was too many. If they went into battle with that many and Israel won, Israel would credit themselves for the victory.

If you read through the text - Judges 7 - you'll see that God ended up leaving Gideon with 300 men to go into battle against 135,000 Midianites and Amalekites. I love the description in Vs. 12: "Now the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the sons of the east were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; their camels were without number, as numerous as the sand on the seashore."

God could have easily granted Gideon victory with his 32,000 men. But he wanted to show Gideon - and the rest of Israel - that he could grant victory even with only 300 at his disposal. And in doing so, Israel had no choice but to give God the credit.

God can do what He needs to with $120 as easily as he can with $1700. And He has. For the last couple weeks God brought in enough to pay our bills, either with spare jobs that came up or assistance from unlikely sources.

Don't get me wrong. This walk is difficult. To trust that God will be faithful with the promises he made - it can be hard when the waiting gets long like it has. We live in an age of instant gratification. But God does not change. He doesn't operate on our schedule. He has a master plan, and that plan will come through in His timing, which is perfect.

I am happy to say that my wife did find a great job last week that should bring in enough to pay the bills completely. We walked through the fire of trial and came out holding a crown of victory. Not just because we believed. Faith is crucial, because without faith we cannot please God. But we came through unharmed because God is faithful. Ever faithful, ever true.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

As Worlds Collide

When I was twelve years old and first decided I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, I was just beginning work on the characters who would later show up in Endangered Memories, my latest young adult science fiction/fantasy novel. And when I first started the Expired Reality series - which Endangered Memories is pulled from - I pictured the series running at least a dozen books.

I still picture the series running at least a dozen novels, in addition to some shorts stories and novellas I plan on throwing in there every now and then. But when I started my Black Earth series - a sort of prequel to the events that occur in the Expired Reality series - I planned on the series running about four or five books. And then the fifth book would bump up against the first book in the Expired Reality series and the novels would continue down the line.

But something changed the other day. Something happened which was a bit unexpected and I guess all the blame can fall on my characters.

That's right - my characters.

As long as I've been writing, I've come to realize that my characters have a mind of their own. I can do my best to try and kill them, but if they want to live badly enough, they'll find a way to live. The reverse is true as well, and nothing saddens me more than to watch a beloved character die. I'll admit that it does scare me a bit that my characters can have such a mind of their own.

This brings me to my main point of this blog post. The other day I was working on Dark Horizons, the third installment of my Expired Reality series, and a couple characters showed up unexpectedly. Both are from my Black Earth series. Both are unique in that they were able to survive and live through the 100 year gap between the events of Black Earth and the events that serve as the beginning to Endangered Memories.

These characters, for those who have read the books in my Black Earth series, are Griffin and Pearl.

I originally planned on having Pearl show up in the Expired Reality series, but much later down the line - like maybe the fifth or sixth book. But she just strolled on the page while I was writing Dark Horizons and revealed herself to me and some of my other characters. "Hi," she said as she waved to the rest of the cast. "Just dropped by to make my presence known."

Griffin on the other hand wasn't a character I planned on revealing in the Expired Reality series...ever. The scenes I have been working on in Dark Horizons have a young man who paired up with one of the heroes - Veronica Amorou - as she attempts to escape the police. Throughout the scenes I wrote, he's only mentioned as a young man. I had no name for him, figuring I'd come up with one by the time the second draft came along. But it seems my characters got sick and tired of him not having a solid identity and finally pressed him to reveal his name.

"My name is Griffin," he said.

So there you have it. Two worlds, two unique novel series, thrust together, joined with a bond that cannot be broken. All because of my characters. Characters who refuse to die, who refuse to remain in the shadows of the past and strive to remain immortal.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Full Steam Ahead

Now that Endangered Memories is out there for all the world to love or hate - and I have a website design that I can take pride in - I can move forward on the many other projects I've had on the burners for a while now, including the sequel to Endangered Memories, and even the third volume in the Black Earth series.

This week starts a very strict daily schedule I put together to make sure I stick to my goals and make progress each and every day. With that implemented, here's a rundown of what I'll be working on the next couple months.

1. My first priority is to format Picture Perfect and Endangered Memories for paperback release. I released them in ebook format first so readers could read them and because the paperback conversion process can take a while.

2. My second priority is getting Lost Birth, the sequel to Endangered Memories, finished. I just got my editor's edits back on it and now I have to sift through those and make some changes of my own before the manuscript will be ready for ebook format. I'm also working with my cover designer, Jelani Parham, on another awesome cover for the series.

3. My next task is to finish Dark Horizons, the third book in the Expired Reality series. I have about half of the manuscript written, but my goal is to hand off the complete draft to my editor in mid-July. That means I have to get my butt in the chair and get to writing!

4. Another item on my list is my email newsletter, The Lysallis Times. When my laptop bit the dust a few weeks ago, it took Microsoft Publisher with it and I don't have another copy. So, I'm going to be using Publisher Pro to put together my newsletter, but I sort of have to start from scratch when it comes to the design process.

5. Phew. I'm getting worn just writing these out. The final project on my list for this year is the third book in my Black Earth series, The Dark Lighthouse. (The title is tentative). The manuscript for this hasn't even been started yet, but my goal is to hand it off to my editor by the end of August, right before the baby is born. Can I pull it off? Sure can, but it's going to take a lot of hard work.

So, there you have it. In between all of this, I'm working on some new merchandise to post in my Zazzle store, running two blogs side by side - including a new one that details my family's walk of faith, and playing through the Xenosaga series on my PS2. A writer/gamer geek's work is never done.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Endangered Memories Ebook Edition Now Available!

It's Tuesday, and that means the release of the ebook edition of Endangered Memories, the first volume in my Expired Reality series! It's available for only 99 cents on your Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, etc, and will be available in paperback through Createspace very soon.

To celebrate the release, those of you who follow this blog can grab a free copy of Endangered Memories today in whatever ebook format suites your fancy. Just head to Smashwords via this link - - and enter code - MK55C - during checkout to get your free copy. This code is valid for today only, so grab the book while you can.

On top of the free copy of Endangered Memories, I'm also revealing my new website facelift today. Head over to - - and let me know what you think!

And so, without further ado, here is Endangered Memories, the first novel in the Expired Reality series....

When ex-hero David Corbin receives an unexpected wedding invitation from the girl he once loved, he sets out on a journey to South Ryshard to crash the event and proclaim his true feelings to her. With help from his close friend, Veronica, and a girl named Kimberly, David battles his way through crooked agents, a crazed farmer and a demon hybrid to reach the wedding on time. Only when he runs into Turquoise, a mysterious woman on her own mission to stop the wedding and procure an enchanted timepiece, does he realize that the fate of humanity hangs in the balance.

Carrie Green is days away from marrying Jerad Montlier, one of the richest men in the world. Lacking any memory of her past, and displaying a peculiar spiral birthmark on her shoulder blade, Carrie is spun into further confusion when a diary with her name on it falls into her possession. Reading the entries inside sparks a recollection of her past and reveals the horrifying trap that’s been set.

As heroes’ paths collide, the beginning of the end launches in this epic first volume of the Expired Reality series.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Endangered Memories Sample

Well, it's Friday. Made it to the end of the week without too many issues. Got the cover design for Endangered Memories done. Finishing up a new website layout today. Just getting everything ready for the official ebook release on June 14th.

With that, I decided to post a sample of Endangered Memories today to give all of you something to read this weekend.


Endangered Memories
an Expired Reality novel
Copyright 2011 David N. Alderman

Chapter 1

Tuesday, November 10, 1998

The icy wind rushed against Kimberly Sebastien’s face, sweeping through her long blonde hair as she bounded through the vacant dirt field. The blue crescent moon lit up the ground just enough for her to see her way across the damp surface. The chilly air induced a burning sensation in the mark on her right cheek, causing it to sting more than when she received it only an hour ago.

The cell phone jostled in her hand, the blue screen illuminating her beaten face. The time on it read 6:34 p.m. She hit the redial button on the keypad, her heart wishing that this time someone would pick up on the other end. Holding the phone to her ear, she heard a steady busy signal, just as she had the last three attempts. This can’t be happening. She closed the phone and shoved it into the pocket of her jeans, glancing behind her briefly to make sure the monster wasn’t closing in on her. No one. Well, no one she could see anyway. That didn’t mean he—it—wasn’t there.

She scanned the tops of the giant trees in front of her, making out a small orange spire glowing on top of the roof of the stalus beyond. The stalus—a building designated by the government for weddings and funerals—was the only building she could hide in for miles, and she hoped it would, by some miracle, be open. Her body relentlessly quarreled with her, scolding her for pushing so hard, pleading with her to stop and rest. But she couldn’t rest, not yet, not when her life was at stake.

Plowing through the trees, thick leaves that hung from crooked branches slapped Kimberly, each one a stranger’s hand reaching out to snatch her and carry her off somewhere dark and dangerous, somewhere she would never be able to escape. She fought through them and stumbled into a parking lot, her knees meeting the asphalt with a flash of pain.

Kimberly stood to her feet, ignoring the pain swelling through her kneecaps, and pressed on across the lot, finally slamming herself into the glass doors of the building. Inhaling a deep breath, she grabbed the door handle. Locked. Panic seized her as she tried the next door and the next, all of them locked as well. She pounded madly on the glass. “Help! Somebody, help me! Open up!” Her voice came out hoarse, and she suddenly realized that wasting her breath would do no good if nobody was in there to hear her pleas.

She turned and leaned her back up against the door, clutching the burning cramp in her side. Gazing into the distance, she saw nothing but the trees reaching into the wind. Her heart throbbed, threatening to leap out of her chest while she fearfully waited for something to lunge at her. Don’t be scared, she thought. Keep moving! Get away from him! A gust of frosty air slipped through her white sweater, chilling the sweaty mess that spread itself under her tattered clothes. The chills warned her to run.

She peered through the glass at the dark lobby inside. She could see the desk where the receptionist who handled the wedding and funeral parties sat during operating hours. Stacks of flyers covered the counter, accompanied by mysterious shadows that seemed to dance around as if a party was going on in the desk owner’s absence.

Kimberly had nowhere else to go. Only orchards and farms stood between her and the city. The closest house was too far to run to, unless she wanted to backtrack, which was impossible without risking running into him.
Turning back toward the lot, she pulled out her cell phone and hit redial. Her heart skipped a beat with the brief silence that ensued, but then the busy signal droned in her ear and she sighed loudly, despair covering her like a dark blanket.

She shoved the phone back in her pocket and watched with fright as the tree branches shook vigorously in the distance. Her eyes narrowed, trying to make out the figure stumbling through the barrage of giant leaves. A face peered out, red eyes glowing in the night.

Kimberly’s voice caught in her throat.

Swinging around, she tugged at the handle again. This time the door swung open, almost knocking her off balance. A bit confused, she passed into the stalus, not stopping to ask herself questions. She pulled the door shut and turned the latch, locking it. She swung back around toward the desk to try and make out what little she could from the light that shone in from the parking lot lamps.

The large round government seal hung on the wall in the foyer. The symbol of the Enera Government—three triangles overlapping each other at different points—was etched into the stone slab surrounded by the words “SECURITY, EFFICIENCY and CONFIDENCE.” The first time she had seen the seal was when her parents died and she had been forced to come to a stalus for the funeral.

She shook the thought away and peered to the left and right of the desk, where double doors stood tall and erect—doorways to other dark places. Farther to the left and right, hallways swarmed in shadows. I should be able to hide in the main sanctuary until daylight. She approached the left set of double doors and made her way through them.

She couldn’t see anything in the sanctuary except for the red glowing EXIT signs and the doors they perched above on each side of the room. Kimberly stepped forward and bumped her leg on something hard. Reaching down, she felt the glossed wood of a bench. She knelt down and crawled underneath, creeping through the sanctuary until she figured she was in the center of the room. Lying still, her back to the floor, she closed her eyes.

The quiet stillness invited her mind to wander. Thoughts flew at her at lightning speed: Where is he? Why did this have to happen to me? I can’t believe he’s dead! It’s all a dream, just a nightmare. Tears broke from her eyes and streamed down her cheeks as her gut convulsed with torment. She wanted her family back. She wanted this man—this creature—to stop chasing her. Events rushed through her mind: the man with the dark eyes at her doorstep; the chunk of cold crystal her uncle gave her from the freezer; her uncle being broken like a toothpick in the jaws of a giant.

The vision of her uncle’s face blurred into view each time she remembered him begging her to “take this and keep it safe.” He handed her that piece of crystal, wanting her to flee with it. But the man with the dark eyes had just as quickly slapped her to the floor, knocking the crystal from her hands, taking it for himself.
Kimberly remembered getting to her feet and running from the house, the man yelling for her to come back. His face couldn’t be placed exactly, just dark and round, with an evil, hollow gaze peering out from under his bald head. He had an uncanny familiarity about him, something that seemed to have escaped from the nightmares Kimberly had when she was younger.

Only a miracle can save me now.

Her thoughts diminished and fatigue kicked in. She slipped in and out of consciousness. It was hours to daybreak, and there was no way for him to get into the stalus without her hearing him first. At least that’s what she told herself. She needed to drown everything out long enough to regain her strength for her journey to the city in the morning.

A clicking sound echoed through the sanctuary, waking her senses. Her eyes shot open as a door creaked slowly and then thudded shut. She knew it was him by the dark presence she suddenly felt seeping into the room. Kimberly held her breath. His squeaky footsteps passed the aisle she hid in. She followed that sound to the other side of the room and then back near the door he entered the sanctuary through.

She quietly bent her arms and legs, rolling onto her stomach, and shuffled out from under the bench. Moving to her knees, she glanced up at the red EXIT sign over the hallway door. That was her only escape, and there had to be only a few rows of benches in the space between.

The footsteps stopped and silence thickened. Her heart thrashed in her chest like a caged animal. She took a few quick breaths and sprung up, rushing for the door. She maneuvered and stumbled around the benches, relying on all of her instincts to get her through the maze of wood and darkness. Her body plowed into the door, and she grabbed the cold metal handle to open it.


She turned around slowly and found herself staring at two glowing red wedges that seemed to float in the air. Her voice caught in her throat again, like she was trying to vomit up an apple. Her nails clawed frantically at the surface behind her, scraping against the hard wood, peeling away part of her fingertips.

“Kimberly Sebastien.” The man’s raspy voice released a foul smell into her nostrils as he came under the red light, the crimson eyes matching the EXIT sign’s glow. The repugnant scent turned her stomach in knots.

“Wh…wh…wh…,” her lips quivered. She turned her face to the side, attempting to avoid the stench that permeated the air between them.

“Your sssoul, Kimberly. That issss what I want.”

She closed her eyes as he moved in closer. She could feel the sensation of his breath floating across her skin. His hand touched her cheek, turning her wound cold and sending vibrations through her whole face. The wound stung and then burned like fire. She let out a yelp, and the hand retracted for a moment. She started shuffling across the wall toward the front of the sanctuary.

“Go where you want. You can’t essscape me. I am everywhere and in everything.” He moved in front of her, like an ethereal arrow, so quick. The red eyes dangled in front of her like demonic puppets suspended by shadowed strings.

She felt tears crawling into her eyes. “What do you want with me? Why can’t you leave me alone?” The tears broke out and she cupped her hands over her mouth, terror engulfing her. “Why can’t you leave me alone? You killed my uncle. You killed my uncle! What more do you want with me?”

“I need you. I need your sssoul, your ssspirit. Then I will leave. Then you can rest in peace, without the nightmares, within the darkness.”

She shook her head and fell to her knees, her face covered in a moist film. She had a boding feeling that she wasn’t going to make it out of the building alive. The doors to escape seemed so far away. This is where I’m going to die.

He reached his hand out to her again, the silence in the stalus falling on her like a ton of bricks, allowing her to experience the dreadful sound of her sobbing. The thought of her life ending here, in this place, was violent and yet comforting to her. She could be with her uncle soon…


The man retracted his reach and spun around. Kimberly looked up through her blurry vision at two silhouettes in the open doorway at the back of the room. One was tall with the chiseled build of a man. The other had the thin, hourglass shape of a woman.

“You?” the evil stranger squealed.

They stepped into the stalus and allowed the doors to shut behind them, darkness swallowing everyone in the room.

“Let her go,” a female voice demanded.

Kimberly wiped the tears from her eyes and slowly started to her feet, her mind racing to figure out who these people were. Probably Anaishan Sentries. If that’s the case, they’re no match for whatever he is.

The man grabbed Kimberly from behind, wrapping his arm around her neck. His fingers moved across her throat, and she felt the cold tip of his long, sharp fingernails begin to etch their way through the tender surface of her skin.

“Show yourssselves!”

Kimberly’s neck burned, and her body drooped in his arms like a sack of manure.

The two strangers said nothing, yet their shuffling movements could be heard throughout the room.

Kimberly, a female voice whispered in her mind. We are here to help you. When he releases you, leave this stalus and go to the city of Lysallis. Wait for us there. We will catch up with you. Her eyes struggled to stay open as she tried to put together the words floating through her thoughts.

The dark man’s fingernails pressed harder into her neck, carving through the skin. She felt a small amount of blood trickle down.

“I told you two to show yourssselves. I will ssspill her blood all over thisss place!”

“Not tonight!” the female shouted. A strong force slammed into Kimberly and the dark stranger, knocking them back to the floor. Kimberly rolled to her side, her strength rapidly coming back to her, allowing her to scramble to her feet. The creature reached out and tried to grab her, but only managed to rip the bottom edge of her sweater as she escaped from his clutch and reached the exit. She grabbed the handle and swung the door open to the dark hallway.

“Go, Kimberly. We will meet again.” The confidence in the male’s voice filled her with ease. She darted out into the hallway.

Kimberly made her way to the front doors of the stalus and retreated outside. She stood in the lot for a moment, taking deep breaths and staring at the line of trees, picturing the field that stretched behind them. Across that field stood the housing community she had escaped from. I can’t go back. There’s nothing left for me there. The only place to go now was Lysallis and hope these strangers were true to their word. Doesn’t really matter. As long as they’re keeping him occupied, I have a chance to escape.

She cautiously made her way around the stalus and headed into the orchards that stood between her and the city.

***Check out more of Endangered Memories in ebook format June 14th. Paperback coming soon.***

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Endangered Memories Cover Art Sneak Peek

I've been off the radar for a while now, but I'm back with some goodies in regards to Endangered Memories. I'm happy to announce the cover art is finished - thanks to my good friend Jelani Akin Parham, the back cover copy is finished, most of the formatting for ebook editions is finished, and now I'll be spending the next few days getting the website ready for the book's release the beginning of next week. My official release date is Tuesday, June 14th, and on that day I'll be giving away ebook copies of Endangered Memories so stay tuned to the blog for more details on that.

The first piece of cover art I want to give everyone a glimpse of is Carrie Green, one of the main characters of the book -

I am more than happy with the job he did with her character design. I wanted to give the cover a young adult feel but nothing too juvenile. I think his artwork captures the balance between the two perfectly.

Next in line is the background, which Jelani did as well -

The city is South Ryshard, where Carrie is living at the beginning of the book. I almost cried when I saw how beautiful the cityscape was and the coloring he implemented in the scenery.

The third element that comes into play with the cover design is the font. I spent many hours trying to find the right fit for the book. When I self-published Picture Perfect, I ended up changing the cover font later because it didn't fit the feel of the book. I'm happy to say I found the perfect fit for Endangered Memories though. The font is called Chocolate Box and you can grab it for free at

I'll be spending most of today putting all of these elements together into a coherent cover design. This Friday I will be posting a sample of Endangered Memories to get everyone geared up for the release next week! And next Tuesday I will officially release the first novel in a series that has been near and dear to my heart since my youth.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Going Nuclear

Today I start the formatting stage for Endangered Memories. Seeing how the paperback version takes significantly longer to create because of proof ordering, mailing times, and the process scrutinizing the book for formatting errors, I've made the decision to release the ebook version of the novel first, hopefully in the later part of next week.

With the formatting stage for the ebook version upon me, there comes with it a process called "nuking the manuscript." I first read about this approach in the Smashwords Style Guide, and have employed it with every ebook I format. Essentially nuking a manuscript is the process of copying your entire novel out of Microsoft Word, pasting it in Notepad, and then recopying it back into a fresh Microsoft Word file. This is to strip the manuscript of all formatting blunders and/or corruption that Word might have in it.

The big pain that goes along with nuking a manuscript is that I have to go back in and redo all of my formatting, including italics, bold, spacing and the like. It's a bit of a tedious process, but it really pays off in the end because it almost guarantees the file will turn out error-free when published on the Kindle, Nook or Smashwords.

There's no better way to spend a Friday afternoon than to bomb a manuscript. Fun stuff!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

R.I.P. Dell Inspiron 1501

If any of you have been wondering where I've been for the last week or so, wonder no more. My laptop - the main computer I do most of my work on - took its last breathe and completely died on me. Blown video card from what I'm told. I've had the computer for 3-4 years now, and when I purchased it, it was a refurbished model to begin with. But, she's been a good computer and will always remain in my memory.

Luckily - and most importantly - the hard drive was able to be salvaged. Most of last week was spent getting my email and files back up and running on an old Compaq Presario R3000 that friends of mine gave me. The system works great for what I need to get done, and I am more than grateful for their generosity.

With that frustratingly horrible ordeal behind me, I'm off to try and have a productive week. The cover art for Endangered Memories is guaranteed to be finished by this Saturday. I've gotten a beta read of the book back from one of my biggest fans and received a slew of positive comments about it. I also finished reading the book to my wife and am now working through the final edits. I'll be spending most of the later half of the week and the weekend working on the formatting for the ebook version which I hope - and will be striving very hard - to release sometime late next week. Paperback will be released shortly thereafter.

Well, I have a load of work to do, so I'm off to do it. Just wanted to say I'm back and I hope to see you all on the other side of a productive and hopeful week.

Friday, May 20, 2011

An Introduction to David Corbin

With the debut of Endangered Memories, the first novel in my upcoming young adult series, less than a month away, I wanted to take an opportunity to introduce some of the characters of my series. Weeks ago I introduced Carrie Green, and this week I'd like to introduce everyone to the main protagonist of the series, David Corbin.

David Corbin, once shy and a bit of an introvert, became a reluctant hero of sorts in the later years of junior high. When his sister, Cybil, was abducted by the criminal mastermind, Mr. Big, David flew into action, saving his sister and stopping Big's attempt to murder a crowd of people.

That single event put David and Mr. Big at odds against each other for the rest of their lives.

With the taste of heroism still fresh on his tongue, David devoted his adolescent life to putting a stop to Mr. Big's criminal actions. With the help of some of his classmates -  Carrie Green, Veronica Amorou and Veronica's brother, Sean - David managed to continually foil Mr. Big's nefarious plans, eventually putting the crime boss away for good in the Galtaia Penitentiary years later.

During his escapades, David quickly and easily fell in love with Carrie Green. Despite the fact that Carrie fell for him in return, the two neglected to tell each other how they felt for fear of the consequences that would result. When David finally did decide to reveal his feelings for her during the shut down of the government initiated program known as The LZR Project, she fled without explanation to South Ryshard, not to be seen again.

At the beginning of Endangered Memories, David is in a somewhat tumultuous relationship with Amber Setterson. Ties with his sister are strained, his finances are in dire straits, and he wonders if life will ever be the same as it once was before Mr. Big was locked up and Carrie ran. A strange wedding invitation from Carrie changes all that though, awakening David's feelings for her and pulling him back into the adventures he thought he left behind.

Look for more of David in Endangered Memories this coming June. You can also check out my introduction to Carrie Green at