Horror Writers Association Admits Me Through Blood Ritual

Horror Writers Association Admits Me Through Blood Ritual

Horror Writers Association Admits Me Through Blood Ritual

July 31, 2014 by  0 Comments


Artists are very weird people. On one hand, we talk loudly at smart parties how we don’t care if anyone “gets” our work. We claim we write for “its own sake” and our own personal satisfaction.

That is a lie. Artists are artists because we want to communicate. We want to say something and have people respond. Further, there is a huge part of us that needs constant validation. The worst thing for an artist is that no one pays attention to our work. This is a painful thing to admit, but it’s true.

Writers are the worst hypocrites. The nature of what we do invites readers to engage with our minds in a way that is unique in the arts. Our thoughts are laid bare for everyone to see. We crave validation and we are hurt when we don’t get it. We lash out at critics while screaming to the heavens we couldn’t give a crap about their opinion.

I’ll be honest, I love validation of my work. I loved it when super agent Italia Gandolfo picked me up as her first client. I love it when a reader says they stayed up late night to finish 3 Gates. I love it when “gatekeeper” critics love my writing. Lately, I’ve gotten validation from all sides. Open Road Media bought out the 3 Gates series. Legendary Editor Betsy Mitchell (Michael Chabon, Dean Koontz) chose me as one of her authors. I got hired to be an editor at Ave Maria picked up the 3 Gate Series for audio books. Hollywood is knocking hard. Not mention Teen Author Boot Camp and SLC Comic Con asking me to come speak.

This morning, I received an honor I’ve been seeking for the past few years.

The Horror Writers Association informed me they’ve accepted me as member with all the privileges, voting rights, and admittance into the dark rituals of the group. I’m excited about this honor because this group is made up of working writers. They are my peers and to receive their validation is a huge honor. Oh, and, this organization includes Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Robert McCammon and Peter Straub in their membership. Yeah, all my writing heroes in one group. Look at me ma!!!

So, its been a great year so far and August promises to be a huge month for 3 Gates the movie, and a Dark Bride release date.

Benedictine Oblate Novice and a member of the Horror Writers Association. Go figure that one out.

Open Road…take me home…(Big Ole Publishing News)

Open Road...take me home...(Big Ole Publishing News)

Open Road…..take me home…..(Big Ole Publishing News)

April 30, 2014 By  0 Comments


Once upon a time, there was this little book called 3 Gates of the Dead. The writer despaired that it would never see the light of day after two agents exploded on him. Then, his amazing friend, Italia Gandolfo, became his amazing agent and she went to work.

She found a new, cutting edge publisher in Los Angeles called Premier Publishing, with an incredible board of highly accomplished executives, including super-agent Joel Gotler. The company started off as a digital publisher, but they decided to publish approximately 20, handpicked titles per year that would be sold into brick-and-mortar stores. 3 Gates was chosen as one of those titles.

When the book was published, it started to slowly gain attention, not being on anyone’s radar. To everyone’s surprise (including my own), the book started to receive some major league reviews in publications such as Library Journal and New York Journal of Books. The novel started to sell. Indeed, it started to sell very well.

So well, in fact, a huge company like Amazon took notice. First, they gave 3 Gates and its sequel, Dark Bride, an audio contract with a nice advance and royalty through Then, they signed 3 Gates to an exclusive one-year deal for digital distribution.

All of this accumulated into the big announcement I’m making now:

As of today, May 1stOpen Road Integrated Media  is the proud owner of 3 Gates of the Dead and Dark Bride. Open Road was co-founded by Jane Friedman, former Executive Vice President of Random House and CEO of HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide. They publish ebooks by my all-time favorite authors like Michael ChabonWalker Percy, and Sherman Alexie, along with some other legendary names. Yeah, I share the same publisher as Walker Percy.

Seriously geeked out here.

As they bought out my contract with Premier, the terms are pretty much the same. Plus, even though Open Road was founded as a digital publisher, they are also beginning to publish a select number of titles per year for brick-and-mortar stores. And once again, 3 Gates made the cut with Dark Bride hitting shelves November 1st as an Open Road title. The digital books will be released by Audible, so if you like listening over reading, you’ll get your chance to hear the story in creepy Hi-Fi sound…

On top of all this, I’ll have a major announcement about my Young Adult trilogy, Revolution of the Wolf, and my Middle Grade series, Ghost Bear, in a couple of weeks.

Before I end this, I want to thank my amazing ambassador, friend, and magician, Italia Gandolfo, who was part of this whole process. Further, I want to thank Thomas Ellsworth, CEO of Premier, who believed in 3 Gates, took a big risk on a no-name author, and made the book a success.

Finally, thank you, dear reader, for reading my books and sending me such lovely messages. You help keep this writer in protein bars and coffee.

What an amazing journey so far. Stay tuned, there’s more to come…


Read more:

Life Under the Sun: My Non-Fiction Projects

Life Under the Sun: My Non-Fiction Projects

Life Under the Sun: My Nonfiction Projects

May 13, 2014 By  0 Comments

In 2013, I did a rewrite and edit of a book called “Among Friends: Stories from the Journey.” It’s a little devotional book by Father Jim Sichko, who seems to have a knack for friending famous celebrities. Father’s book is doing very well, and I’m proud to have worked on the project.

The experience opened up some discussion with my Wonder Woman agent, Italia Gandolfo.  Given my very diverse background (ministry, history and philosophy major, etc), the fact that I read a wide variety of books (from science to graphic novels), and my ability to work with a variety of people, we wondered if nonfiction would be an interesting path to explore.

Along those lines, she’d been in a discussion with former Samson Cree Chief, Marvin Yellowbird, about writing a memoir. When he seemed excited about the idea, Italia suggested a co-writer and he agreed. She hooked me up with the now Councilor Yellowbird, and I went to Canada for ten days to hang out with him. After that, we started writing together, and it has been an amazing experience.

So, we are 90-percent finished with the book, and a proposal is being submitted to publishers. Here is the book description.

“Nothing can prepare you for your first day as chief, especially if it begins with a gunshot.”

With those words, former Chief Marvin Yellowbird launches into his tale of how he fought against the outside gangs threatening the people on the Samson Cree Reserve. In a book that interweaves the complexity of Native/European relations with his own personal story, Marvin, with passion and care, shows the challenges facing a modern Native American leader. He writes with beauty as he talks about his childhood on the reserve and power as he relates how his leadership vaulted him onto the international stage as Chief of one of the largest First Nation bands in Canada. Marvin’s refusal to back down to the Royal Mounted Police, gang intimidation, and criticism from his own people helped him wage a campaign to save the youth on his reserve. To that end, he brought in the Chicago Ceasefire program, an unprecedented step that involved the work and cooperation of three separate governments to help solve their escalating problem of violence. As he tells his own personal story that is moving, hilarious, and heart wrenching, Marvin points toward a new future not only for Native Americans, but for everyone living on the North American continent. 

Around the same time, I met Stephen Keller, a man recently released from serving an 8-year stint in prison. When he told his story to me, about how his American dream was stolen from him by the government and big business, I knew I wanted to write it. The book proposal for PAY TO PLAY is now making the rounds at major publishing houses. Here is the book description:

“You have to pay to play,” said Senator Trent Lott to Stephen Keller just before the life he built came crashing down around him. Keller, a kid from a small town in Kentucky, founded his own business, built a billion dollar industry, and lost it all when the government wrongly convicted him of fraud after refusing to sell out to a corporate giant. In fear for his life, he fled with his family to Panama where law enforcement spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to track down a man who broke no actual laws. After spending eight years in prison, Keller tells his story to answer the question that everyone in American culture, right or left, is now asking; are those in power killing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? 

As I’ve been writing these books with my two co-authors, I’ve noticed a common theme that comes from the Biblical Book Ecclesiastes. In the Book, the Teacher resolves to investigate “Life under the Sun,” and he finds some pretty disturbing things. When I started writing these books, I realized how much this idea fit my nonfiction projects.

So, I’ve added these books into an initiative I’m titling the “Under the Sun” project. It will be an ongoing exploration of investigating life through the eyes of different people’s stories.

It’s gonna be an amazing ride…

Announcing the Four Finalists for the 3 Gates Film Contest

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.”



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



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!


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


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…



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?


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.

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