Resolutions

I typically don’t like making New Years Resolutions. The tradition seems silly to me and just provides one more thing for people to pressure themselves over.

However, as a writer, any means of motivation is worthwhile. And with that said, here are some things I hope to do or do better in 2014.

  • Stop neglecting this blog.
  • Be more active in social media
  • Finally finish my second novel, tentatively titled Bound.
  • Be much less apologetic and silent about my faith.
  • Start sharing the persona stories that are buried in the narrative of Jubilee.
  • Be more open-minded about music.
  • Be more transparent about the origin of WK Parks and why I felt the need for a pen name.
  • Give God more glory.
  • Treat my children much better.
  • Get more involved with organizations geared towards ending human trafficking.
  • Write at least 1,500 words of my own fiction each day.
  • Find a way to let my wife know she is beautiful every day.
  • Being more intentional about prayer.

As a Christian author that struggles in the fields of both faith and fiction, I think it’s a pretty comprehensive list. In many was,the two fields toe together…which is good for me, as it makes it easier to remember all of it.

How about you? Any New Years Resolutions you’re allowing yourself?

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Run for Their Lives

Last weekend, my family took part in Run for Their Lives, conducted by the amazing human trafficking organization Freedom 4/24 for the third year in a row. It’s always a very humbling experience to take part in something like this, as you get to see the different walks of life that the topic of human trafficking has touched in some way or another.

ImageEach year we have taken part in the race, it has grown larger and larger. Of course, we live in a predominately Christian city, so seeing such a crowd is to almost be expected. But beyond that, there were the smaller details that occurred during the race that really made me feel proud to be a part of it all.

For example, some of the runners write the names of children that are currently victims of human trafficking. This year, a guest speaker at the event was one of the names on the arms of several runners last year. To see those sorts of results and that sort of movement is beyond inspiring.

Also, at one point during the run, I was passed by a man in a wheelchair….going uphill. Talk about humbling…

It’s instances like these that help me to realize that while the real horror of human trafficking and sexual slavery is still running rampant, there are multitudes of people out there that are driven to put an end to it.

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Where to Find Jubilee

I’ve tried to cover all of the bases in terms of making Jubilee widely available. I have yet to place it on Kobo and, for personal reasons, won’t be using Smashwords.

So, if you haven’t yet picked up a copy of Jubilee, you can get it through any of the following means.

Pick it up for $3.99 on your Kindle here.

Pick it up for the same price for your Nook and a few other devices here.

And the paperback can be purchased here.

As always, reviews and feedback are appreciated, Please help me spread the word about this book, as my own throat and fingers are tired and raw from having screamed about it endlessly from various digital rooftops.

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A Glimpse of Jubilee

ImageNext Tuesday, folks. Next Tuesday, Jubilee will be released. I’m pretty sure the Kindle version will be available a few days before the paperback. That is mainly because formatting for a paperback release is akin to doing Calculus without a calculator.

As you’ve hopefully figured out by now from the few posts on this blog, Jubilee deals with human trafficking. It’s something of a passionate topic in my home, as my wife and I have both been on missions trips to the area discussed in the book to give our time to this cause.

Anyway, Jubilee has been my passion project for the last 2 years, often pushing The Other to the side for large chunks at a time.

It will finally see the light of day next Tuesday. If you’re a blogger interested in obtaining an early copy for review, please contact me and let me know.

Without further ado, here is a sample, the opening chapter of Jubilee.

 

 

She had managed to doze off in the back of the truck.  Despite the heat and the familiar fear that wrapped around her heart, the constant drone of the truck’s big engine had lulled her to sleep.  She napped in the enclosed shell that covered the back of the truck, her back resting uncomfortably against the plastic wall.  It wasn’t the most ideal place for sleep, but she had learned to take rest any way she could get it.

When she awoke, the truck had stopped. The engine no longer purred like a big cat, but she could hear it idling and felt its vibrations beneath her.  She opened her eyes and saw the others there with her, huddled together in the dark.  They had left her alone, letting her sleep.  She silently thanked them for that, but she wished she had been in the huddle, even if only to feel like part of the group. Feeling alone in a situation like this made it worse.

But these other girls were new.  This entire experience was new to them; they only knew what they had been told by people in their towns.  They only knew the rumors.  They had not yet experienced it for themselves.

She both envied and pitied them for that.

From the front of the truck, she heard both doors opening.  Through the thin walls of the camper shell everything was muted, but she knew the drill well enough.  She’d been through this twice already.  When her aunt had pulled from her bed late at night and hauled her to the field behind their little shack in Managua, she’d seen the truck waiting there.  Its headlights had looked like the eyes of a waiting monster. Seeing it parked there in the darkness, in the middle of the field, she had known what was happening.

“It will be okay, Gabrielle,” her aunt had said. “This must be done. For your family, this must be done. You will be okay.”

Gabrielle had not argued. She had not even bothered to fight.  She’d been here once before, in this same situation.  She knew that fighting against it would bring only bruises and pain.  There was no sense in it.  This was her life now and to protest against it brought only additional hardship.

As she expected, the slamming of the truck doors was followed by muffled conversation on the other side of the shell. Then someone came to the back of the truck, unlatched the metal shell door and swung it open.

Gabrielle looked to the frightened group of others across from her.  There were five of them; one was crying into the shoulder of another.

She felt the crisp night air swirl into the cab and closed her eyes against it.  She smelled the woodland smells from outside and even the scents of the men that had opened the door, a mixture of cigarette smoke and sweat. She managed to get in two seconds of fantasy, imaging that the cool night air was really the wafting breeze on a beach somewhere that she’d never see.  She imagined the sound of the surf, the feeling of soft sand between her toes, bits of broken seashells digging into her heels—

The image was broken by the sound of the men’s voices as they peered into the back.  Watching them approach, Gabrielle saw two other men fall in beside them.  The four men looked into the opened camper shell as if looking at caged animals in a derelict zoo.

“Nice,” one said.  “How much?”

“Five hundred cordobas,” came the answer. “For all six of them.”

Gabrielle listened to the conversation as the men discussed a price.  One hundred cordobas for all six of them.  It was actually a bit higher than the standard rate she was used to hearing.  As the men continued to bicker back and forth, one of the new men crawled into the cab and approached the huddled group of girls.  One by one, he cupped their chins in his hands and studied them.  He then looked them over for scratches, bruises, deformities or any other details that might cause a decrease in their worth.

“Good, good,” he said snidely.  “Yes, these are all very pretty.”

Pretty, she thought, echoing his comment.  All he has to say about them is “pretty.”

She felt the stirrings of anger swelling up inside of her, something that she had learned long ago to keep buried.  She felt it storming inside, buzzing like hornets in her stomach.  The sensation intensified as the man turned towards her.

He extended his hand and cupped her face as he had done the others.  He tilted her head to both sides and then placed his hands on her waist.  His touch was not gentle; he touched her and examined her as if she was a piece of fruit he was considering at the market.  He slowly spun her around by her hips and she could feel his eyes covering her.

When he was done with his inspection, he smiled thinly at her and turned back to the other three men that were waiting at the rear of the truck.

“Deal,” he said, sealing the transaction.

Gabrielle watched as the man climbed off the back of the truck.  She watched the exchange of money and knew what came next.  She, along with the other five, would be moved to another truck and then hauled off further into the wilderness to be sorted out among even more of these men’s recent purchases.  From that point, there was no telling where she’d end up.  She didn’t care one way or the other—she’d learned to stop caring several months ago.

As expected, she was directed out of the camper shell with the five others.  When her bare feet touched the ground, she tried to recall the memory she had mustered only moments ago, of her toes curled in soft white sand.  But the memory was not there. It had been chased away by the transaction that had just taken place.

The men moved her from one truck to the next in a blur of motion.  She only had time to gather that they had pulled the truck to the side of a mountain road that was bordered with uninhabited forests to all sides.  She heard frogs, crickets and other residents of the night.  But she also heard the weeping of two girls ahead of her as the group of five was hauled roughly into the back of the second truck.  This truck looked to be an old delivery vehicle that had a small cattle bed attached to the back of it. A cracked plastic camper shell sat over the bed.

Gabrielle followed the five ahead of her, nudged from behind by one of the four men.  As she grabbed the tailgate and readied herself to be lifted onto the back of the cattle bed, a hand fell on her shoulder.  It grabbed her roughly, and she was stopped.

No, she thought. No, not here.  They aren’t even going to wait.  One of them—or two of them or all four of them—are going to do it now, right here in the middle of this empty dirt road. And it won’t be because they even really want to…they just want to show these other five what to expect.  They want them to be scared. To take the hope and the fight out of them.

Dreading that this was indeed what the men had planned, Gabrielle let herself go limp.  Another thing she had learned was that if you just acted dead and didn’t fight, it was easier.  It was over faster.

She was temporarily relieved when the hand on her shoulder stopped her and spun her around.  It was the other man from the new truck—the one that had not come into the back of the camper shell to inspect them.

“This one is cute,” he told his partners with a laugh.

Cute, she thought sadly.  He thinks I’m cute.  That’s a new one.

“Si,” another one of them agreed.

“How old?”

She had never understood why some men asked this question. To most of them, it seemed to not matter at all.

“Nine,” one of her original drivers answered.

Yes, I’m nine years old, she thought as someone planted a hand on her rear end and squeezed, helping her onto the cattle bed.  I’m nine….but my six-year old sister outsmarted your buddies yesterday and escaped.

Gabrielle clung to that last bit not only because it helped her to believe that her captors weren’t as strong and capable as they seemed, but also because it meant that her sister was safe.  And as long as Natalia was not in the hands of these men, she thought she could endure enough to make it through.  As long as she had the peace of mind that her sister was okay, they could do their worst.

It was nothing new. Their worst was what she had been taking since the age of five.

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That Book I Keep Talking About

Well, there are no more excuses. Formatting is done and the final decision has been made as to the fate of the first W.K. Parks book.

I will be releasing my Christian fiction novel, Jubilee, on September 17.

In the coming days, I’ll be sharing a bit more about the book, its creation, the inspiration behind it, and so on.

For now, here’s really all you need to know.

Sometimes freedom is hidden in the darkest of places.

A missions trip for self-discovery and helping those in need takes a dangerous turn when Ryan Fulbright finds himself more involved than he intended.

 While visiting Jubilee House, a rescue home for girls saved from sex trafficking and prostitution in Nicaragua, Ryan haphazardly gets swept up in an ill-advised rescue attempt. Stranded on a mountainside in a foreign country with only his shaken faith and a six year-old girl to help him, Ryan must save not only himself but twenty other little girls as well.

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The Horror of it All. Or Not.

The Other is busy writing the follow up to his recent creepy release. It has me also wondering which will come next after this current book (about sexual slavery) is released. I have two projects I am tinkering with. One is inspirational and about wrestling with our Purpose. The other is about spiritual warfare and is very very close to horror.

And, as such, it has me wondering how effective horror can be as a Christian fiction platform.

One would think it could be quite effective. Horror is usually populated with all of the evils that most of us are susceptible to. As a “student” of horror, I know that 90% of the monsters and baddies in horror are really just physical manifestations of our own personal demons or intangible aspects of our environment that scare us. (Did you know that the character of Annie Wilkes  in Stephen King’s Misery was the representation of King’s addictions at the time? Makes it a whole new kind of story once you know that, huh?)

ImageAnd what’s more intangible than the unknown? The unknown, of course, also including God for non-believers (whether they’ll openly admit it or not).

Think about the more popular stories in the Bible. There’s a ton of horror in there. Aside from the talking snakes and angels with seven heads (I honestly still don’t know quite how that works), there’s the all of Revelations, There are giants, demons, ghosts (to some degree), Satan everywhere and on and on.

There’s also the fact that a great deal of horror fans are agnostics, atheists or, at the best, lukewarm believers. I see horror and all things dark (this includes music, too) as a means to convey the gospel to an audience that might otherwise not hear it.

Another thing about horror is that a great deal of it is about facing that unknown head on. Sometimes hijinx ensue. But more often than not, the characters have to do some self-reflection. Sometimes it’s about personal choices, sometimes about faith. Given that, it seems that horror would be an opportune platform for Christian fiction.

Of course, living in the Bible Belt, I also know that many believe that “Christian” and “horror” should be nowhere near one another. (Note: many of these same people believe that electric guitar and bass drums don’t belong in praise and worship music and that the fitting way to end any service is with a luncheon where mac and cheese and baked beans are the holy of holies).

This is where horror gets muddied because there are many sub-genres that are nothing more than blood, gore and terribly overdone zombie stuff. But let’s think about traditional, classic horror. Horror with a plot where people have to overcome some obstacle pitched forth from the unknown rather than the maniac in the warehouse with torture devices.

Later, in future posts, I plan to break down several classic horror films into how they are, at their base, about our struggle to find God (or whatever force non-believers believe will fill the hole God should be filling) or the need to better understand faith. It’s a little easier than you might think.

So what say you, everyone. Is there any reason to not use horror as a fitting platform for Christian fiction?

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Christian Masses, Send Me Your Writers!

Whenever you feel you have to start a blog post off with “I’m not trying to be mean,” you know the whole post is going to sound hateful. But I promise, that’s not my intention.

As I have said elsewhere on here (I think…and if not, consider this another piece of the puzzle as to who The Other is), I have spent a little more than ten years writing horror and thrillers. Some of it was published. I know a lot about those genres and there are several authors I greatly admire and others I never understood or cared for (this is true of authors I like and dislike outside of those genres, too. To this day, I just don’t get the big deal about Steinbeck).

Here’s the thing about traditional horror. If you build your foundation on King, Barker, and Lovecraft, anything that steps foot on that foundation had better be good. So traditional horror, I suppose, has spoiled me.

It also might reveal something about me that even as a believer, The Shining remains my favorite book and Aliens is my favorite movie (yes, even Bill Paxton’s character).

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What’s that supposed to mean, man? Game over, man, game over!

Anyway, after becoming a Christian, obvious things about my writing changed a bit. Most of my writing as The Other is still quite dark in nature, but there are underlying Christian elements running throughout. It wasn’t until last year that I was bowled over by my first faith-based/Christian fiction novel idea. That is “the book” I keep referencing on this blog.

Of course, as my writing focus changed, so did my reading focus. I started reading more Christian fiction, trying to learn more about the categories and some of the sub genres within it. And if I’m being honest, I am not impressed so far.

This could easily be because I just haven’t read that much of it. And this could be because the books I started off with left a bad taste in my mouth and I get uneasy whenever I think about picking up another Christian fiction title.

Here’s where this post gets tricky because I won’t name any authors that have turned me off of all categories of Christian fiction because I’m not about slander anyone.  But of the 5 or 6 Christian horror titles I have read, I found much of the same in them all: a thinly veiled sermon, characters that are flawed in their faith, predictable enemies and an a-ha moment at the end where someone finally discovers they need Jesus.

An actual line from one, after a long emotional scene, has a character that has balked at Christianity for the length of the entire book proclaiming “I’m just no good. I need Jesus!”

Seriously.

I also read The Shack. Sort of. I couldn’t finish it. Although it might have been because it dealt with a Big Question I have always had that I wasn’t quite ready to delve deeply into at my early stages of being a believer. I may revisit it later. From what I understand, I’mnot missing much.

So let me ask you all a favor.

What are some of your favorite Christian fiction authors? I mean in all genres, not just horror. I’d prefer indie authors but any will do. If you’re a Christian fiction author, feel free to plug yourself.

Oh, and please don’t suggest the Left Behind series. I still get a chuckle whenever I think of all the times an angry, confused, or distraught character from those books referred to someone as a “rascal.”

Ugh.

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