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Announcing the Four Finalists for the 3 Gates Film Contest

To new readers of Geek Goes Rogue, I am the author of the 3 Gates of the Dead series (available everywhere books are sold). The debut novel is doing very well, exploding into the top ten paranormal reads and the top 20 in horror on Amazon.

My publisher, Premier Publishing, ran a contest for aspiring filmmakers based on 3 Gates of the Dead. Participants chose to either film a trailer or a scene from the novel and entered the competition for free.

Four finalists have been chosen and you can see their work below. One finalist will be chosen for the Grand Prize (by an esteemed panel of judges listed here;  and one finalist will be chosen for the People’s Choice Award by YOU. So, this is where you come in. You need to “like” your favorite video. The one with the most likes will win.

In keeping with the theme of giving opportunities to artists, we will announce the top three videos and screen them in March during Teen Author Boot Camp 2014, where hundreds of aspiring writers’ dream of being published and seeing their work adapted to screen one day. Teen Author Boot Camp is one of the largest writing conferences in the nation for youth ages 13-19. Published, bestselling authors have the opportunity to present to hundreds of attendees at the Utah-based conference, as well as be seen by teens worldwide who watch On-demand videos online. Teens not in attendance watch the conference from homes and libraries located in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. Headlining at Teen Author Boot Camp 2014 will be James Dashner (MAZE RUNNER , also coming as a movie from 20th Century Fox) and Ally Condie(MATCHED - Disney). Both authors have adaptations of their novels on the way to the big screen.

So here are the videos. Get to voting and liking! Share with your friends! Talk about it on Social Media! Go, Go GO! Oh, and buy your copy of 3 Gates of the Dead, the book that the New York Journal of Books says is, “Bringing back old school horror.”

 

FINALISTS:

Major Teen Writer Conference Invites Me to Give Talk. Will Mad Cap Hilarity Ensue?

boot camp

So, in the flurry of the past week, I got a majorly cool, last minute invite to be a Drill Instructor at Teen Author Boot Camp held on March 8th, 2104 in the mountains of Utah.

TABC is quickly becoming one of the largest Teen Writer conferences with writers like Brandon MullShannon Hale, and Kiersten White giving the main talks. This year, the boot camp’s main speakers are James Dashner (Maze Runner) and Ally Condie(Matched Trilogy) who will lead a pack of amazing writers……oh…and me.

What’s it all about? Writer’s Cubed, a writer’s group in Utah decided to start a camp for teenage writers. The day is dedicated to teaching kids how to write (more articles to come in the next few weeks). Yeah, it’s as cool as it sounds. Not only do they get to meet some of the hottest YA authors in the country, but they get to pick their brains on how to write. How cool is that?

I’ll be giving a workshop on How to Write a Scary Scene and participating on a panel discussion about the publishing industry.Really excited and honored to be teaching the kids, hanging with some very cool writers and hey, seeing Utah.

If you want to sign up your teen for a pretty amazing writer camp or view the workshops live on the Internet, check out the website.

The Killer Idol: Sons of Anarchy and the Worship of Family

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(POSSIBLE SPOILERS)

As a writer, I get behind in watching TV shows. It’s the nature of deadlines and people wanting things yesterday. For example, I’ve yet to watch one episode of Breaking Bad. That’s right, not one. I don’t even know what happens at the end, so don’t tell me, I’ll get there.

This is why I find myself plowing through the first five seasons of Sons of Anarchy on Netflix. I’m amazed at SOA’s ability to make me think about its’ content at random times during the day. The show centers on Jax, played by Charlie Hunnam (who just recently backed out of Fifty Shades of Grey in what will go down as the smartest career move, EVER). Jax is the Vice President of the Sons of Anarchy, an outlaw motorcycle club founded by his father, John Teller. Teller is dead by the time the series begins and his death is shadowed in mystery. The man who took John’s place as President, Clay Marrow, also married Jax’s mom, Gemma. (Echoes of Hamlet, anyone?)

There are subplots a plenty in the series, but the main plot revolves around the family dynamic. Indeed, the tension and dysfunction fuels all the other stories in SOA. I would also take it one step further. SOA is about how the worship of family can lead to dark deeds full of violence, chaos, and sin. SOA demonstrates this warped notion of family through Jax, Gemma, and the motorcycle club itself. In the second to last episode of season five, Jax confronts the mother of his first son, Able. She is a recovering junkie who is trying to get her life right and wants back in her son’s life. Jax refuses to acknowledge she’s made any progress and doesn’t let her see her son. Given that her addiction almost killed Able, it’s easy to understand Jax’s reluctance. However, when she threatens to take him to court, Jax storms her apartment, injects her with speed, and promises to tell her employer she is still using drugs.  He hisses into her ear, “Don’t ever threaten my family again.”

When the series’ first started, Jax wanted to be like his real father and make the SOA a legitimate club. Yet, as his obsession with making things right for his family grows, he makes choices that send him down a path of horror. He tries to deal drugs, makes alliances he wouldn’t normally make, and ends up getting a lot of people he cares about killed. Why? All to make a better life for his family.

Gemma is an even better demonstration of this as her family obsession corrupts everything she touches. In the series, we find out not only did she and her first husband (Jax’s real father) become estranged, but that she also lost her oldest son. In her constant search to find human connection, she grasps at the family closest to her: Jax, Tara, and her grandchildren. Gemma’s desperation leads her into making terrible choices that result in no one in her family wanting to even speak to her, much less have a relationship with her.

Finally, there is the club itself, the Sons of Anarchy. The men around the Reaper (a wooden table that hosts the meetings of the club), treat the motorcycle club as their real family. In doing so, they fight and do horrible deeds to serve the family and their brothers around them. Everything else is secondary to the club, including goodness, trying to do right, and looking out for the real needs of their community.

I’m often struck at how often I hear the words of Gemma, Jax, and the motorcycle club on the lips of people in the church when it comes to the nuclear family.  To hear church people talk, you would think that Jesus came to save the nuclear family and make it the primary institution of the Kingdom of God. As a former minister, it has always amazed me how much attention is placed on traditional families at the exclusion of all else. Church outreach efforts, children’s ministries, and youth ministries focus on young families are prime examples of this sort of thinking. College students, single people, the divorced, homosexuals, and anyone else who doesn’t fit the traditional family mode are often left on the outside looking in.

Jesus spells it out very clearly in Luke 14:25. The cost of following Him is that everything and everyone else must come second. He says in very brutal fashion that you must hate your family to follow him.  Because of this, the Romans often accused early Christians of being Anti-Family. Yes, you read that correctly.  The Roman culture was very centered on the family and the paterfamilias, the father of the family. Everything was meant to serve this institution that they held in such high regard. The early Christians often had to leave their families, the center of their lives, to follow Christ and be brought into the family of God.

No one is saying that nuclear families are a bad thing. Not at all. Yet, like all good things in God’s creation, they can be corrupted and turned into hideous monsters that draw our attention away from Christ. Even more, like the warped notion of family on Sons of Anarchy, they can draw us further into darkness and make us wonder how we even got here in the first place when we tried to affirm something good.

Jesus disrupts families. Thank God. I pray for the day when Christians are known as “anti-family” again, because we take in the unwanted, the dregs, the sinners, and the people who have no earthly families. I pray for the day when nuclear families are seen as only a part of the wider Kingdom that God is building: HIS family.

 

3 Gates of the Dead News…..99 Cents….and a new entry from film contest!

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Hey Everyone,

Wow, 3 Gates is exploding. At last count, it’s ranked at 263 over all over on Amazon and 92 over at Barnes and Noble. I’m just amazed to see my name next to Stephen King and Anne Rice, two of my heroes.

So, the 99 cent campaign has been extended until January 14th. You can get it the following outlets

Amazon

Barnes and Noble Nook

ITunes Store

Movie and TV News: 3 Gates of the Dead is currently being considered for both TV and Film. I’m hoping to make a bigger announcement very soon.

Finally, we’ve been running this film maker contest for 3 Gates. Here is another one of the entries! Enjoy

Here is a scene of 3 Gates of the Dead…

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As many of you know, my book, 3 Gates of the Dead, is in book outlets everywhere. While you can get the hard copy version, the ebook is available in all formats.

Along with that, my publisher is running a filmmaker contest. You can find all the details here.

The deadline is approaching, but entries are starting to roll in. I’ve received permission to show you one entry, from Chad Costen, a film school teacher from Vancouver. Here is his filmed scene from Chapter eleven. Enjoy your Christmas present!

 

Announcing….COTTONWOOD Indiegogo Campaign!

cottonwood posterHey Rogueites,

Through a variety of cool circumstances, I’ve been attached as associate producer to a cool ground breaking indie project, Cottonwood.

This project is a racial drama set in 1930′s dust bowl Texas and has some pretty major talent attached. Who? Try Academy Award Winner Louis Gosett Jr, Anthony Michael Hall, Alison Eastwood, Ethan Suplee, and Joe Perry (yes, THAT Joe Perry, you know, the kick ass guitar player from Aerosmith).

We’re starting an Indiegogo campaign that is aimed at raising 750,000 dollars for an A List director and main lead.

So, help out everyone and let your friends know! Click here and help support our dreams for making this film a reality.

Stay tuned to Geek Goes Rogue as we will have interviews, videos and other such things related to the campaign. Help us make this film a reality!

Geek Goes Oblate….uh…what’s an oblate?

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Tomorrow, at noon Central time, I’ll be taking my vows as an Oblate Noviate. Strangely, the Geek crowd is probably best equipped to understand what all this means. How so?

Allow me to explain.

In Geek culture right now, Game of Thrones, comics, and nearly every paranormal book contains some sort of “monk” like order within their respected “world systems”. Some of these groups are forces of good and some, well, not so much. So, when I tell my fellow geeks that I’m becoming an Oblate Noviate with St. Meinrad Archabbey the reaction is, “That’s so COOL….uh…what is that? Do you get a sword or something?”

Not exactly, but those are fair questions. Before I answer them, I want to give a little background.

I grew up Catholic in Southern Indiana. Indeed, I’m related to about half of the counties of Spencer and Dubois counties. Most of my early life (from birth to sixth grade) was spent going to mass, being an altar boy, and attending Catholic school. My dad would often take us to the Abbey at St. Meinrad, not far from where he was born.

As you drive up the hill to the Abbey, a feeling of being displaced into another world overwhelms you. Stone buildings sit on top of a hill as a beacon of God. Somehow, even though the buildings are only a hundred plus years old, they look as if they’ve been there forever. Peace and quiet saturates the place providing a sense of calm that I can’t explain.

On a recent trip to the Abbey, I heard someone say, “Wow, it feels like Europe all over again”. For me, it’s more than just a feeling of being transported into another country. St. Meinrad is a “thin” place, a place where the seen and unseen worlds threaten to crash into each other. I feel God at the Abbey in ways I don’t feel Him anywhere else. The invisible world peeps through in ways that I find difficult to explain. The simple answer is that it’s a mystery of God.

Fast forward to now. In April, I resigned my ordination as a conservative Presbyterian minister, and gave up fifteen years of my life. In a story for another time, my time hanging out with atheists drove me back to the door of the Catholic church. As I said in my article I wrote at the time, I took a vow to step aside if I ever found myself out of accord with the system of doctrine in the church. I found myself no longer a Presbyterian in doctrine or conviction. Therefore, I stepped down from being an ordained minister.

This journey also led me to face my appalling spiritual life grounded in the lack of daily prayer. I realized all my spirituality was grounded not in God, but in my own arrogant assumptions. I came face to face with my tendency to hate authority of all kinds. I didn’t like people telling me what to do. Very often, I rebelled against authority just because I felt like it.  Rebellion against the World System on behalf of God is a great thing. However, very often, my rebellion became a way to make my self feel superior to other people. On a deeper level, my pain, anger, and frustration fueled a deep seeded need to give a finger to the whole world.

As I faced these basic facts about myself, I knew I needed a more structured system of prayer that required obedience, accountability, and a sustained history. The devotionals in your local Christian book store just wouldn’t cut it with me. Being who I am, I did a lot of research and found a concept that rang true in my soul; join a monastic community as an Oblate.

What is an Oblate? In medieval history, when boys would be offered to the monastery, they would take lesser vows to live and work like the elder monks. At some point, they had a choice to take the full on vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. In the passing years, men and women expressed their desire to become affiliated with the monks and nuns in their life of prayer. There was just problem; these people were married, had regular jobs, and children.

So, many orders (not all) of the Catholic church decided to formalized the position of Oblate into someone who took a vow of obedience, and pledged to follow the rule of St. Benedict in their daily lives. In other words, they would become monks living in the world and not in the community. They dedicated themselves to becoming involved with a specific monastic community, and living out their calling in their daily lives. Above all, they pledged to live a life of prayer and obedience to guide their own walk with God.

The process begins with a person taking Novice vows that last for one year. After this year of novitiate,  the person (man or woman), may take their full vows and renew them every year.

So, Saturday, I’ll take my novitiate vows and begin my year of discernment. To answer any more lingering questions, no, I’m not becoming celibate and no I’m not becoming a full fledged monk. Rather, I’m binding myself to a community, a system of seeking out God, and to learn how to be more obedient to the Lord.

Announcing the 3 Gates Blog Tour!!!!

Announcing the 3 Gates Blog Tour!!!!

Blurb:

Sometimes, the most evil things come from the most holy… Conflicted with his faith in God and the hypocrisy of the church, Aidan Schaeffer, a young assistant pastor, is in a constant state of spiritual turmoil. When Aidan learns that his ex-fiancée is the first victim in a string of ritualistic killings, he finds himself in the middle of an even deeper fight. Tormented by demonic threats and haunted by spirits, Aidan throws himself into investigating Amanda’s death; all the while supernatural forces have begun to attack the people around him. The more questions he asks, the more he is drawn into the world of a mysterious Anglican priest, a paranormal investigation group and a rogue female detective investigating the murders. As the gruesome rituals escalate, ancient hidden secrets and an evil long buried threaten to rip Aidan’s world apart.

Open the Gates Into the 3 Gates of the Dead Filmmaker Competition

 

Have you ever dreamed of a shot at becoming a film director in Hollywood? Here’s your chance…

 

RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY!

My Fragmented Life: Not Jesus, Not Superman

My Fragmented Life: Not Jesus, Not Superman

I’ve reached the midpoint of my life. This is the time when guys get sports cars, a young girlfriend, and wear gold chains nestled among their chest hair (at least, according to chick lit). I’ve never been into cars (I’ve driven the same one for thirteen years). I’ve got very little chest hair (probably more info than you needed to know). Middle-aged guys with college-age girlfriends are just flat creepy.

However, I am asking a lot of the same questions men ask as they approach forty (next year for me). I’m undergoing some significant life changes and struggles. I’ve chronicled my biggest one here, as a I stepped down from being an ordained Presbyterian minister back in April.

Many people are asking me, “What are you going to do now? Where will you go to church? What is your future going to be like? What is the rest of your life going to be about?”

My answers? I really don’t know other than I want to be a writer, and I still hold without reservation to The Nicene Creed.  As a writer, I feel the need to share this in hopes that it might be helpful to some people. That’s what writers do, you see. We think if we write about our own personal struggles, people will read it. Even more hubristic, we think our struggles might help others. We’re kinda self centered that way.

I’m calling these little musings, “My Fragmented Life.”

Honestly, I don’t know if my sorting through fragments will help anyone in their faith journey or any other journey. At thirty-nine years old, I’ve long lost faith that I can really help anyone as much as I still try. Still, I must follow the obscene impulse to expose my thoughts to the world so everyone can examine them. Use what you can. Discard what you can’t. Laugh at what seems absurd.

In order to do that, I’m going back to my childhood. Now, at first glance, that seems like a mid-life crisis thing to do. Maybe it is. I’ve just found that when I get in a knot, I’ve got to find the beginning of the thread. I’ve decided to scrap it all and go right back to being a small, scrawny, friendless kid growing up in the farm fields of Southern Indiana.

Today, I thought about two of my earliest memories. I loved Superman. Still do. As a kid, I had everything Superman, including a really cool six-foot Superman puzzle. That thing was epic, let me tell you. Imagine a six-foot image of the Son of Krypton, hands on his hips, giving a perfect smile from the floor of my parents farmhouse. I could even lay claim to the largest collection of Superman .45′s in western Southern Indiana (stats not verifiable). When I didn’t listen to Cardinal baseball at night, I fell asleep to the Man of Steel saving Lois Lane.

See, I’ve always carried a deep seeded desire to save people. I wanted to be Superman and help others. I would even argue it’s part of the Image of God in us. Still, I seemed to be (and still am) a very sensitive person. Everything bad upset me, especially if it happened to other people. A girl I knew in town (Haubstadt, Indiana), got hit by a car. I didn’t know her that well, but I cried when I heard the news. She turned out only to have a broken leg, but I remember sitting  in our old wooden barn, my own “fortress of solitude,” and feeling helpless. I remembering praying for her with tears running down my cheeks.

Then there was the time a teacher of mine got smacked in the face with a baseball. I was inconsolable as teachers tried to calm me down.

You are probably thinking, “Yeah, well, that just makes you a pansy.” Maybe, but I couldn’t help it. I have always had a strong sense of compassion, feeling EVERYTHING very deeply. Most of my early memories are emotions rather than fully thought out mental images.

This deep seeded emotional life got a bit neurotic and strange. As a kid growing up in the Catholic Church, I even felt this sort of sadness about Jesus on the cross. One day, when I was a child, I laid down on a cross beam of wood and spread out my arms. I felt the wood scratching my neck. I wondered what it would be like to feel the nails in your wrists. I got an overwhelming sense of sadness, sorrow and pain. Tears ran down my cheeks as I imagined what Jesus went through, giving Himself up for the whole world.

All of this made me want to help people, to love people and to pour out my life for them. What I didn’t recognize, and wouldn’t for a long time, is my deep seeded desire to be liked. As a kid, I didn’t exactly have friends lining up at my door. I thought if I strove hard to help people, they would like me. If I strove to be Superman, people would adore me. Secretly, I thought I could be like Jesus and save people. When I did, they would be my friends.

Fast forward to my days in seminary. My inclination when I started my studies was to get my Ph.D. and teach. I figured I was best suited for a life of reading and teaching. I knew deep down I probably didn’t have what it took to be a minister. Still, the desire to be Superman/Jesus rose up, fueled by comments from professors, pastors, and church people. They kept telling me, “You should be a pastor, you have a pastor’s heart. You can help people.” Combine that with my need not only to be liked, but to be like Jesus and save others, I couldn’t resist the temptation.

My ministerial career, while not an absolute failure, didn’t really work for most people. I didn’t save them. I just made them angry when I didn’t fulfill their expectations. I got mopey when I realized I couldn’t meet my own. Even more,” the pastoral system,” as I call it, the system that drives people to ministry didn’t help as it fueled my Jesus/Superman complex.

So, about a year ago, I got tired of the whole thing. I got tired of people’s unrealistic expectations of me as a minister. I got tired of my own deep seeded Superman/Jesus complex, and I let go of it. I let go of my own sin. I let go of the ministerial system that chews up people, spits them out, and leaves them to rot on the roadside. I don’t blame this system, I blame myself for being a participant in it. (More on this system in later writings.) I blame myself because of my own deep seeded Jesus complex. When I let go of it, everything came unraveled. My whole identity fell apart because it was based on something rotten. In its place is someone who is a fully flawed human being who still loves Jesus. I like that a lot better than needing to “be” Jesus. I’ve fully and deeply embraced the idea that I cant’ save anyone. I’m not an un-corrupted Superman.

The problem is, now, I don’t know what path to take. I don’t know what way The Lord is leading me. All I know is, for the first time in a while, I feel like I’ve joined the human race. That thought, above all, is liberating, because Our Lord is a member of the human race. I think in becoming more human, I can be saved by the True Human, Christ Himself.

DC Comics Trinity War Part 3: Battle of the Theologians

DC Comics Trinity War Part 3: Battle of the Theologians

(Possible Spoilers Ahead)

Yesterday, part three of the DC Comics Trinity War came out with the release of  Justice League Dark #22 . Yes, comic fans, the DC Universe event keeps exploring the deep philosophical issues we pointed out in Part One: Justice League # 22 and Part Two Justice League of America #6  If you need to catch up the story lines, feel free to click on the links. We’re going to dive right into the story.

The notion of sin, where it comes from and how we get rid of it brings the DC Universe to a breaking point. If you remember, this story is centered around Superman; why did he commit the evil act of murder and how he get corrupted? In other words, how did Superman sin? Did an outside force take him over, did evil corrupt him or is he a victim to outside forces? Batman, Wonder Woman, The Phantom Stranger and others all come up with different theories.

Jeff Lemire takes over the writing duties in this issue, but he keeps up Geoff John’sdeep theological exploration. His story shows how  the differences in perspective (or theologies, as this is a story of sin) split all three leagues (Justice, JLA and Justice League Dark: the magicians).

One strand of hero/theologians is represented by Wonder Woman. She, through her love of Clark, is trying to prove that Pandora’s Evil Sin Box corrupted Supes into killing JLA member, Dr. Light, the terrible event that triggered The Trinity War. When the gods of Greece can’t help her, she sought Justice League Dark, a group of magicians led by the anti-hero, John Constantine. They all agree Pandora’s box must have caused Superman to sin.

The next strand’s viewpoint evolves in this issue. At first, Batman, who believes men choose to be evil, and there must be a scientific explanation why Clark sinned, leads this group. However, he starts to change his point of view when  The Phantom Stranger (Judas Iscariot) shows up and tells them something deeper and evil is happening. He informs Batman that Pandora’s box is an evil that no one can handle. They all agree Wonder Woman needs to be stopped.

As you might guess, all three leagues come together in a confrontation over Superman’s sin. Wonder Woman obsesses over finding a cure for Supes, but The Phantom Stranger tells her  much more is a stake. Diana flies into a rage, ropes Judas and makes her tell him the truth. “What is eating Superman alive”, she asks. The Stranger tells her, “I don’t know”. The leagues crack into pieces again, different alliances form as sin destroys their unity.

Meanwhile, Supes is freed by The Question. Their goal is to find out what is destroying Superman. Mikel Jain, who does the artwork here, does a great job showing Superman slowly being eaten from the inside. We see him turning pale green color, bruised eyes and his veins turning a nasty color. As they battle their way out of a secret government instillation, we see Clark almost kill as he fights for control.

In the background of all this, Madame Xanadu (thought to be killed in Part One) alive and being held by a secret organization. They are the ones behind the attempt to destroy Supes, but we’re not told how or why. They’re after Pandora’s box and the unknown evil it contains.

I love how Johns is unfolding this story. I’ve seen other reviewers scratching their head on what is going on in this series. They need to do some more research. What we have is a full on theological debate going on in a comic book; Sin’s destruction, corrupting affects and how it affects the whole world. In Justice League Dark, we see the tension amped up, the lines blurring and no one near an answer.

Can’t wait for the next installment. Justice League Dark #22 is on store shelves now.

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