Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Crossover Alliance Giveaway Winners

Below are the winners of The Crossover Alliance giveaway. Each will be contacted shortly regarding their prizes. Thanks to everyone who participate!

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Quick Update

As you can all tell, I've been away from my blog for the last week or so. Don't worry, it's nothing any of you did. I've just been busy packing up our home for our upcoming move to San Francisco to take part in the Canvas church plant. I figured I'd drop in today and let you all know what I have planned on the horizon - things I'm aiming to get done in the upcoming months...

1. The Crossover Alliance Giveaway
The big giveaway via The Crossover Alliance is over, and I will be announcing the winners tomorrow, both through my usual social networking outlets and this blog.

2. Expired Reality Cover Design
Since I have moved the Expired Reality series out of the young adult market, I have some new cover designs I'll be working on. I already have basic groundwork set up for these, I just have to find some time to work on them.

3. The Black Earth/Expired Reality Timeline
This nifty timeline I created needs to be updated and improved upon. I have some ideas on linking character profiles to the timeline and maybe even some short fiction pieces, but it's another project that will take me some time to build out.

4. The Black Earth Quad Pack
I do have plans of combining the four novels in my Black Earth series into a digital four-pack, similar to my Black Earth Double Pack.

5. The 3rd Novel in the Expired Reality Series (Tentatively Titled: Dark Horizons)
This novel has been through many revisions over the last few years, but has yet to see daylight. This is the main manuscript I will be working on this year once I'm finally settled in San Francisco. The novel will serve as the groundwork to bring the Expired Reality series into the edgier feel that the Black Earth series contains.

6. More Goodies
I have some more side stories, novellas, and Black Earth/Expired Reality content I want to work on this next year, so keep your eyes peeled! For now, I'm heading back into my mess of an office to get this room packed up and ready for the Bay Area!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Saying Goodbye To Young Adult Fiction

I've been wrestling with something for quite some time now. For the past few years, I've had two running novel series - Black Earth and Expired Reality. The Expired Reality series has actually been around since I was a mere eleven years old because it was the capsule for some of my very first writing. It has also been marketed this entire time as Young Adult. The Black Earth series, on the other hand, began a few years ago and just recently came to a close at four novels. Black Earth was an experiment on mixing genres, finding my writing style, and thumbing my nose at convention. Okay, maybe those weren't the intended purposes of writing the series, but more like side effects of writing outside the lines of convention.

Over the course of this last decade, the Expired Reality series has been self-published, rewritten, self-published again, rewritten again, self-published again, put on hiatus - it all makes my head spin. Trying to find my voice in what I sought to form into an epic young adult series actually turned out to be a lesson in smacking my head against a wall until it bled.

And now I know why.

It's become increasingly difficult for me to put attention and passion into the Expired Reality series these past few years because I've wanted so bad for it to follow in the footsteps of my Black Earth series. Black Earth encompasses Christian themes with edgy content and speculative fiction. It's raised some controversy, it's received fairly good reviews, and it has helped me find my voice as a writer. And why shouldn't my Expired Reality series follow in its footsteps? The Expired Reality series takes place in the same universe, only 100 years later, with some of the same characters. But if you read through both series, you'll find that they each have a unique voice, and one is definitely edgier than the other.

A good friend of mine asked just the right question the last time I visited him. He asked me what my writing goals were now that I had finished the Black Earth series. And I answered by telling him that now it would be the Expired Reality series all the way. At least twelve novels, countless short stories and novellas, and even some side series. Of course, I have some plans to sketch out some side stories for the Black Earth series, but overall, my Expired Reality series is where the majority of my efforts will be put toward from here on out.

Then my friend asked me about the challenges I am going to face marketing the Expired Reality series as edgy Christian young adult fiction. To market something as edgy and Christian has been a bit of a challenge itself, but the Black Earth series has proven that it is a unique genre in its own right. But to label something as edgy, Christian, and young adult brings along some unwanted hurdles. Out of all fictional genres, I believe young adult has the most boundaries/rules/expectations surrounding it. Certainly every genre comes with reader expectations - when you pick up a mystery, you expect to dive into a whodunnit. When you pick up science fiction, you expect to travel to other worlds or encounter sentient life in far reaches of the galaxy.

When you pick up young adult fiction, the elements within it are only 'supposed' to reach a certain limit. Violence, sexual situations, language - all these things have caps on them in young adult fiction, and for good reason. Young adult fiction is targeted at just that - young adults. And we really don't want to be filling their head with all sorts of crap. That being said, I am well aware that there are young adult series - many of them - that center around edgy content, most particularly sex. But there's still a certain expectation as to what boundaries an author is to cross when penning in a young adult novel.

Tie 'Christian' to the young adult genre, to those expectations, and things become even more restricted.

One important question came to me through this discussion I had with my friend: Where was I going to be able to go with my ER series if I kept it under the young adult title? My friend then pointed out that he didn't think I really wanted to write young adult anymore. And he was the first of two people - different instances - who stated the same observation.

It's a hard fact to swallow, that I don't want to write young adult anymore. It's the genre I started out in, it's the genre I figured I'd be writing in throughout the majority of my life. But alas, I know it's time to turn away from the young adult title. Time to strip off the tag, break the chains, and move forward in the direction my Black Earth series set the foundation for.

In this regard, my Expired Reality series will no longer be marketed under the YA heading. Instead, I will collect it - all of it - under my edgy Christian speculative fiction label. The first two novels in the series, Endangered Memories and Lost Birth, will not be rewritten, neither will Picture Perfect, the first novella in the series. The stories and characters are exactly how I want them to be moving forward in the Expired Reality series. And as the series moves along, my readers can expect it to take on a slightly Black Earth feel in regards to edgy content. My Expired Reality series will still hold its own feel - I do want the Black Earth and Expired Reality series to stand separate from each other to some degree - but you'll be able to sense the Black Earth styling as the Expired Reality series moves forward.

Pulling away from the YA label and moving forward under the umbrella of edgy Christian speculative fiction brings about another change to the Expired Reality series - cover design. In the next week, you'll see the cover designs change for the Expired Reality books that are already on the market. Moving forward, every book in the series will hold a common design structure, but each will differ slightly from each other in color and other small details. I want to thank Jelani Parham - my good friend and writing buddy - for creating the covers that I've been using, and the fact that the cover art is going to be changed up in no way implies I have been unhappy with his work, simply that the look and feel of the books needs to not be specifically aimed at young adults.

I am really excited about these changes, and I hope you as my readers are as well. Collecting all of my writing under one common genre frees me up to make the characters, story lines, and themes more consistent with each other, and will allow me to experiment a bit more than I would have been able to having stayed under the young adult label.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Crossover Alliance Giveaway

There is a big giveaway going on right now on the community that I run - The Crossover Alliance, and in it, you can win some great edgy Christian speculative fiction. Here's some info on the books being given away, along with the Rafflecopter entry form -

The Black Earth Series by yours truly -
On the evening of Nathan Pierce's high school graduation, the stars begin to fall from the sky, crashing into Earth at an alarming rate. With the world in panic, an unforgettable cast of characters come together to face off against a darkness that threatens to destroy our planet.

Running Black by Patrick Todoroff -
It's 2059 and the North Korean mercenary Tam Song heads up Eshu International: a private security team that will take any job for the right price, no questions asked. Based in the Belfast Metro Zone, they're the best black contract outfit on the planet.

Stable nano-technology: the melding of man and machine on a microscopic level. It's a break-through worth billions no one's been able to achieve. Until now. The Dawson Hull Conglomerate has finally developed a viable Nanotech Neural Network; an interface system that exponentially increases a person's cyber-capabilities. They're days away from unveiling the prototype to the world.

Eshu International just got hired to steal it.

The Maze by Jason Brannon -
A near death experience transports Jamie Burroughs into The Maze, a realm every bit as peculiar as Lewis Caroll's Wonderland, yet engineered with the moral intent of C.S. Lewis' Narnia. Built by angels and demons and filled with traps and riddles, The Maze gives whoever enters a face-to-face encounter with their sins.

For Jamie, The Maze becomes a terrifying journey through a world of darkness where his soul and the lives of those he loves hangs in the balance. With his family in danger and his soul in peril, Jamie is forced to reevaluate the kind of man he truly is as he struggles to escape The Maze before it’s too late.

The Age of Apollyon by Mark Carver -
Notre-Dame Cathedral lies in ruins. The mangled corpses of the possessed are scattered in the shadows beneath the pulverized Gothic towers. This is the aftermath of the Manifestation....

Satan has revealed himself to the world, which falls trembling at his feet. Religious genocide sweeps Europe and Asia, and the world's greatest fortresses of faith are smashed to the ground. The New World and Australia become safe havens for refugees fleeing Lucifer's wrath.

Heaven remains silent. The followers of Christ cry out: Where is God?

Patric Bourdon believes in himself. He claims to be a member of the Church of Satan, but in reality, it is his own hedonism that drives him. His zealous and pregnant fiancée waits patiently for him to "man up" and take responsibility for his impending family, but the lure of drugs and debauchery proves too strong....

Until Patric receives a command that he cannot refuse.

Tourec, his self-righteous half-brother, has begun a campaign of terrorism against the forces of darkness. The Church of Satan is paralyzed with fear as Tourec and his band of rogue assassins seek vengeance for the evils that Lucifer has wrought upon the earth, and Patric is commanded to seek out and neutralize his brother by any means necessary....

Or his fiancée and unborn child shall perish.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

My Problem With Social Networking

I've been self-publishing for quite a few years now - probably too many to count seeing how I was dipping my toes in the self-publishing field and the ebook market before digital readers were even around and everyone read digital files on their computers in PDF format. And over the course of this long while, I've come to the stark and disappointing realization that I STILL struggle with marketing and social networking. It's probably my very least favorite part of self-publishing, and I cringe every time I have to delve into either of those two fields.

That being said, I wouldn't trade the ability to self-publish for anything in the world. The fact that I have control over my written and graphical content is a power I will not easily - if ever - give up, especially considering I write in the niche genre of edgy Christian speculative fiction - a crossover of mainstream and Christian fiction that has fans and haters on both sides of the fences.

Now that we've entered 2013, I've decided to sit down and take serious stock of where I want my energies to be placed over the next year. Being a self-published author in combination with being a work-from-home dad doesn't allow me ample amounts of luxury time to just throw to the wind - even if that's what I've been doing these past few years. Case in point, why in the world do I have so many social networking connections to other authors? Authors aren't going to buy my books. And to be honest, reviews from other authors aren't always all that objective. This isn't to say that self-published authors shouldn't read/review other self-published author's books, but is that really the best use of an author's time?

I remember when I first started out on this self-publishing journey, I had many other self-published authors clamoring my email inbox and my social networking feeds with requests to read/review their work. I said yes at first to a few of them, realizing later that it was a mistake to commit to such a task. It left me no time to write, no time to promote my own work, no time to read for leisure - which isn't to say that the work I read from those authors was sub-par, it just took up the time I should have been spending getting through my own to-read shelf which has been lingering here in my office for a few years now. In fact, I'm almost certain my to-read stack has grown legs and is now hiding in my office closet, waiting to strike when I least expect it.

So for 2013 I decided to be more vigilante in streamlining my efforts. Instead of shoving my face out there and focusing all my efforts on reaching other authors, my goal will be to reach readers. READERS! I've decided to stop lurking in Red Room - not because there aren't readers over there, but because in order to get decent exposure for my books there, it seems I have to pay a membership fee. I've decided to stop messing around on - which is a great site, by the way, but I find it hard to navigate sometimes, and in order to secure the storage space there necessary to promote all of my writing, I would have to have a membership as well. I used to be on AuthorNation, but for some strange reason, the site has undergone some serious problems over the last year or so and now no longer exists. At least, I can't find it. And my profile there is gone. So, that problem took care of itself.

One of the biggest changes I made was to my Facebook profile - my personal one, not my author page. I had over 1500 friends in a mixture of unknown authors (most self-published like me), friends, and family. It became quite difficult discerning what I should or should not be posting on there - such as pics of my one year old son, status updates on what coffee shop I was hanging out in on a certain day, or what was going on in my life on a personal level. It was even difficult to post about my novels because most of my messages in that regard were being repeated on my FB pages anyway, so some people were seeing shout-outs about my books two or three times in their newsfeeds.

To this end, I took a few days and purged all but 115 of those friends. 1500 to 115. And that 115 is a mixture of friends, family, and authors who I truly respect and have had great interaction with over the past year or so. It's been quite liberating, to be honest, and now I can focus my writing announcements and whatnot over on my FB pages. I also made the decision to stick with Goodreads, and make my presence more prominent in the Kindle and Nook forums, where readers who own Nooks and Kindles go to find great books - especially by self-published authors. I'm also going to be posting/interacting more at Self Publishing Review. And, of course, you'll be able to find me at The Crossover Alliance, which I'll be working on building up more this next year.

I feel much better now that I streamlined things. Sometimes you just have to cut the fat, and with the way things are on the internet nowadays it's becoming difficult to find the will power to step out of certain circles because many of us are being taught that the more exposure we have the better. I disagree. I think we need to be more focused on the exposure we actually want, and take steps to enter into that, and step out of the exposure that is only going to waste our valuable time.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wolves of the Calla - Book Review

Wolves of the Calla is the fifth volume in Stephen King's Dark Tower series, and in my opinion, a decent addition to the collection. The plot finds Roland Deschain and his ka-tet arriving in Calla Bryn Sturgis, a collection of small communities ravaged by horrible beasts, known as wolves, who swoop in from Thunderclap - a nearby place of darkness and lightning - and steal one of each set of twins that reside in the area. These kidnapped children are carried off to Thunderclap, and when they return they are mentally inept. Roland and his group are called on to help the town make a final stand against the wolves, and the majority of the book revolves around the preparations made to fight the wolves and the mysteries surrounding the wolves themselves.

I found myself fairly interested with most of the story, and I think King did a great job expanding on the main characters, even with the addition of the demon baby (the chap) who Susannah is about to give birth to - which of course only complicates the battle with the wolves and Roland's overall quest to find the Dark Tower. This volume in the series also sees the addition of Father Callahan, the priest from Salem's Lot. His character is wonderfully fleshed out, sometimes though a bit more than I care for. As per King's usual habit - at least from what I've seen from the books I've read - some of the character exposition gets a bit lengthy and drawn out to the point of boring. There's only so much I really want to know about Callahan's life, and it felt like some parts of the book dragged in this regard. Not enough to make me stop reading, but I did find myself taking a break here and there while I attempted to trudge through those parts.

A good portion of the book also revolves around Eddie and Jake's attempts to travel to alternate realities to attempt to protect a bookstore owner who actually owns the piece of lot that the rose - possibly the Dark Tower itself - resides on. These scenes kept me interested with their mystery and magic, and reminded me why I enjoy the Dark Tower series so much.

Even though I enjoyed the book as a whole, I can't say I really cared for the end battle with the wolves. It felt rushed and ended quite quickly, making me wonder what all the preparation was really for. The wolves didn't seem to offer up any challenge to Roland or his team, and it felt like a big let down. The novel does end on a cliffhanger, obviously opening up the plot for the next book in the series.

I'm going to give this one four stars because I felt the book dragged in some places and had a lackluster ending. Overall though, I think it was a great addition to the series, and I look forward to continue reading Roland's journey to find the Dark Tower. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Writer's Scarf

My wife handmade this wonderful 'Writer's Scarf' for me this last weekend. It's perfect for the chilly morning walks I take every day, and perfect for our upcoming move to the Bay Area.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013 - A New Season

Well, here we are at the very beginning of 2013. I feel excited, nervous, and anxious for this new year. 2012 wasn't a bad year, it was just extremely challenging and took a bit more out of me than I thought was even there. It was a year of accomplishments - I self-published two novels; a year of commitment and dedication - my wife and I celebrated our seven year anniversary; and it was a year of family - my son turned one. It was a year that won't be easily forgotten amid the ashes of past years, but I have a feeling - and I know in my gut - that 2013 is going to put 2012 to shame.

For those of you who are waiting or have waited on God for promises before, you know that the waiting is the hardest part. I'm the type of person that loves receiving instructions and carrying them out. I love progressing. Moving forward. Building things. If the blueprints and instructions are clear, I can work endless hours until I've completed the tasks given to me. But when I'm told to wait - or when I think that waiting is what I'm supposed to be doing - I cringe. I want to see movement. I want to take action. But sometimes that isn't God's will, and sometimes taking action when we're not supposed to can seriously derail the plans that God has for us.

Certain, very specific promises have been made to my wife and I over the last seven and a half years of our marriage, and even before that. Specific promises in regards to my writing career and our family. We strongly believe that 2013 will be the year these promises are brought to fulfillment. We don't know the how exactly - which frustrates me to no end - but we know that when God makes a promise, He keeps it.

In the next month or so, my wife and I will be moving to San Francisco to take part in a church plant called Canvas. We have no idea when the money for this endeavor is going to come in, we have no idea of an exact move date, nor do we know exactly where we're going to live (as far as a building goes). When asked how our move to San Francisco is going, we shrug and say that it's going. We don't shrug because we don't believe it's going to happen, we shrug because it's in God's hands, and He's decided to keep some cards close to His chest until His perfect timing. That's usually the way He operates though, so it should come as no surprise.

We are about to embark on a new season, a new chapter, in our lives. It is a scary time, but also exciting because many promises will be fulfilled. And we aren't the only ones entering a new season. The pastor of our church just announced his resignation and that he and his family are embarking on a new season in their lives and ministry. A 'sister' of mine whom I've known since high school has announced her intentions to take part in the Canvas church plant as well, signaling a significant change of season and environment for her.

I can feel the breeze coming in. It is filled with change, and opportunity, and movement. I welcome it with open arms and an open heart.

Our move to San Francisco will also accompany some other promises we were given, but for the time being, we'll keep those to ourselves. In the meantime, while we wait, I will keep my eyes steady on the One who holds my future in His hands.

Photo Copyright Michal C. Alderman

2013 - A New Season

Well, 2012 is finally behind us. I can't say it was my favorite year, but it certainly wasn't a bad one. Challenging, yes, but not bad.There were many highlights to the year that made those challenges worthwhile. I published two novels - Black Earth: Dark Masquerade and Black Earth: Exodus. My wife and I celebrated our seven year wedding anniversary. My son turned one. It was a great year.

I learned a lot of things by the end of 2012, especially in terms of being a self-published author. I learned that edgy Christian speculative fiction can be a viable genre. I learned that FB can be a minefield of timesuck. I learned that all the rules that other authors give for self-published authors to follow aren't always the right ones for me - such as getting myself plugged into as many social networking outlets as possible, and taking five years to write a book. I learned that I am unique - both as an individual and as an author - and that I need to utilize this uniqueness in the public field.

2013 brings with it a slew of new challenges for me, both personally and professionally. My wife and I have plans to move to San Francisco early in the year to take part in a church plant called Canvas. I will resume writing in my young adult series, Expired Reality, and FINALLY get the third book in that series finished and published. Our son will turn two, and my wife and I will celebrate eight years of wedded bliss. This will be a fantastic year. I'm sure there will be ups and downs, I'm sure I'll laugh and cry, hurt and heal. But that is life.

Most of all, I will write. I have never been one to actually stick to a writing regime. I usually write when I 'feel like it', and a majority of my writing frenzy occurs during National Novel Writing Month. This year though I am committing to an hour of writing each day. This commitment will help me learn to separate my writing time from my editing time. Editing is not writing - necessarily.

I am also making a commitment to cut out a good portion of my social networking pursuits. I've already purged my FB friend list on my personal profile from over 1500 friends to 115. I'll use my actual author page to promote my work and interact with my fans, and my personal profile to interact with friends and family. I've also cut out Red Room,, and some other sites, simply because I don't have to the time to dip my foot in all these swimming pools, and because I don't have a lot of time to interact with other authors. Readers are who I need to be interacting with, so I'll be spending some more time over in the Kindle and Nook forums, Goodreads, and my FB pages.

Another place I'll be spending more time in is The Crossover Alliance, an online community I built for readers/writers of edgy Christian speculative fiction. I have some more content I want to add to the site - reviewers/readers who enjoy this type of fiction, some giveaways, and more resources for those wishing to self-publish in this particular genre.

I will also be taking a serious look at what I want to accomplish with my blogging habits in this new year. I've had a difficult time coming up with new content for this blog simply because I've tried multiple times to streamline the content I put up here to topics relevant to self-publishing or my own writing experience. This strategy has hindered me in regards to being more 'unique', in that I haven't really delved too deeply into showing the world a lot about me per say. I have written posts regarding my hobbies or the things I like, but those posts have been few and far between. And they are probably some of my favorite posts to write.

2013 will be great! Not just good, but great! So as we venture into this new year together, keep your eyes peeled on this blog for a few minor changes in content, and look for me at the streamlined list of social networking hubs I'll be visiting from time to time.

Onward into 2013 I venture!

Photo Copyright Michal C. Alderman