Book Previews - K.A.C. Book 1: In the Village of the Devil's Daughters

Welcome to an exclusive sneak peak at the audiobook version of my Christian (yet accessible and badass for everyone) dark fantasy/horror/mystery novel "Kill All Christians Book 1: In the Village of the Devil's Daughters".

This novel (currently available in both print and e-book format on Amazon) follows the exploits of Saint Sword Moon and his Dark Blood companion Fox as the pair are called to the Village of the Devil's Daughters to investigate the abduction of a child and the targeting of two others by a dybbuk demon.

Moon and Fox live in a world where all forms of Christianity (and indeed even those God based religions such as Judaism) have been outlawed with nearly every professor of the faith hunted down and slain without exception regardless of race, age, gender, orientation, identity, class, etcetera. In the entropic world that remains humans pay homage to the demon barons and warlords who have become Earth's new gods in the eyes of man.

As one of the few survivors and one of the fewer still possessing divine power, Moon must partner with Fox to investigate these demon abductions while surviving grim politic with the twin sisters Hellana and Amahli who serve as the goddesses of the village.

Can Moon and Fox save the children before its too late, or will they too fall prey to the deviltry in the village in the frigid mountains up above? Only time will tell.

Gaming Podcast: Team Sonic Racing Nintendo Switch Impressions!

We're just Super Sonic Racing, runnin' to the point of no return! Everybody's Super Sonic Racing, c'mon let the fires burn!

Today we're gonna talk about Team Sonic Racing as well as some general observations about the pitch and yaw of the Sonic the Hedgehog character and franchise over the years, as well as a brief discussion of the cat and mouse dynamics of Nintendo and Sega of the past.

I've been playing Team Sonic Racing on the Nintendo Switch for around 5 or so hours and I think I'm ready to share my initial impressions, so strap in, fuel up, and let's put the pedal to the metal!

Brace Yourselves, Podcasts are Coming!

And by coming I mean podcasts are here! And clearly I’m tardy to my own party with posting these as there are three currently available.

So, how does this work? Every week on Saturday morning (Arizona Time) a new podcast will be available. What are they about? Well, that’s going to very. There are three main focuses of the podcasts:

1) Social commentary from the lens of a Maverick Minister

2) Nerdy pursuits

3) Behind the scenes previews of upcoming studio work including but not limited to interviews, sneak peaks and selections from upcoming Audible audio book releases.

I plan to rotate these endeavors every Saturday. Currently live is a podcast discussing the pressures of an artist in a society that damns those who try to shine, an initial impressions quasi-review of Team Sonic Racing for the Nintendo Switch and a preview of the intro and first chapter recording of dark fantasy novel Kill All Christians Book 1: In the Village of the Devil’s Daughters.

Next week we’ll be looking at Katana Zero (or Stardew Valley; I haven’t decided yet) and the week after we might take a look at Nora and the Eternal Waterwheel. Be sure to subscribe to the cast so you don’t miss an episode; call me biased, but I think they’re pretty darn boss if I do say so myself!

-Eugene the Author

Tribus Dulce Trivia Volume 1 - Abra and Judy

I’ve described Tribus Dulce as urban fantasy and a low key super hero novel. What’s interesting regarding this novel is the fact that it almost didn’t exist, certainly not in this form. The book has been out for something to the tune of a year, so I think it’s time I share a bit more behind the scenes trivia.

Tribus Dulce was almost a very different book originally, and was almost three different books. The protagonists Darian and Kashaya were originally closer in age and a couple. Darian was considerably less the responsible type and fit the mold a bit more of an angsty anime character. Initially Kashiya had been written as something of an often annoyed love interest consistently trying to make Darian make better life choices. That book lasted about three sentences and I grew utterly bored and cast it to the winds to take the form it has now.

The Abra and Judy dynamic was always something planned, but I don’t think I settled on their names necessarily until a trip to an art museum in Phoenix. There I was pleasantly surprised to find a number of religious paintings and amongst them was a favorite of mine, the Ballad of Abra and Judith. The historic text itself is considered apocrypha by some Christian sects and deuterocanonical by others. There’s not really a reason I’m aware of to consider it apocrypha; the narrative found doesn’t contradict anything of any magnitude in the established text.

Regardless, I’ve always loved the story of those two, and I also love writing close platonic friendships and shifting power dynamics. The idea of Abra and Judy in Tribus Dulce was partly inspired by the Biblical Abra and Judith, as well as the idea of wanting to write one girl who was a heroic figure with a flawed world view, and another with hidden depths of great magnitude.

Abra is interesting to me, because she is a very sympathetic character and one easily endeared to, but I think there’s a side of her that doesn’t immediately leap out to readers. For as loving and caring as she is towards Judy, her friend, and Nasir, her younger brother, one side of her that isn’t fully developed (as in development growth, not a lack of development in the novel) or rather was not given the opportunity to fully grow is a certain lack of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence relates to one’s capacity to comprehend and properly assess and interact with another’s emotional state of being. Abra herself survives her abusive home life and apathetic school faculty by employing a certain degree of measured emotional distance. To that end, it’s no small wonder she’s unable to see for much of the book, in spite of years of friendship, how deeply Judy loves and cares for her.

Abra I believe is a case that extends beyond low self-esteem; to be a human who has grown up violently abused by the very figure that is meant to protect you the most drastically skewed and shattered her view of the words “love” and “relationship”. It’s no small wonder she doesn’t believe anyone is capable of loving her, especially not someone she loves. It should be wholly unnecessary to state, but I’ll clarify that in this context I’m specifically dealing with the damage to her perception of platonic love. We’ll deal with romantic love in a moment.

With Judy, Abra is unable to conceive of Judy’s platonic love for her. Her deepest bond of platonic love, that of parent to child, is in ruins. Her father beats her and her mother allows it to happen. To that end she believes herself wholly incapable of receiving platonic love and struggles even for a good portion of the novel to comprehend and accept that Judy truly loves her as she does. I believe a measure of fear of what form that love would take is at work here as well; if your primary bond is one of abuse, how then could she believe the relationship with Judy wouldn’t become abusive also?

Yet, as my novels are about overcoming trauma, tragedy and angst, Abra does see her way to being capable of accepting that platonic love and grows stronger for it.

Now, romance. It’s not the core focus of the book, and fittingly is far off from Abra’s radar. Abra loves Paulo from afar, and that love takes on an interesting dynamic. Evidenced in his behavior in Darrian’s narrative we see two sides of Paulo. Paulo is a young man drowning in the acrid acidity of toxic masculinity and toxic racial expectations, so we do see he has a flippant and callous side. We also see him to be fiercely loyal and protective, loving Darrian as a younger brother and guiding him as such, and in some ways almost parenting his friend. And, his protective streak for his younger sister Kashiya goes without saying.

In Kashiya’s narrative we see a side of him that presumably even best friend Darrian doesn’t. We see a more sensitive and caring side, and this is a side I think it’s safe to assume that the ever observant and intelligent Abra has grasped and perhaps even glimpsed also.

Of course, reasonably so, Abra has a fear at the idea of romance. Her mother married an abusive man, her father is an abusive man, and though she rationally understands her little brother is terrified to act, he is still another example in her life of action through inaction. We see Abra afraid of this concept of romance as much as she longs for it, but we also see a great capacity for depth and understanding in that she comprehends that in spite of her fears and traumas, not all men are the same as her father and that to hold all men accountable for the actions of one or even some is asinine.

I won’t reveal how that romantic dynamic plays out for Abra, and will suffice to say I am not in the business of weaving tragic, depressing stories that exist to say “Life sucks, then you die”. I am in the business of crafting narratives that explore the human condition and depths of our struggles, and provide an avenue for growth, healing and reconciliation. And badass fight scenes.

Regarding Judy, she’s also a favorite of mine. I love characters and individuals that fly in the face of vocal conformity and expectations. It’s one of the reasons I adore characters like Captain Awesome from Chuck and why I enjoy actors like The Rock who portray a certain physical stereotype while flying in the face of its convention, I.E. the nice, dorky jock with a heart of gold.

Judy is a phenomenal character that we see through Abra’s eyes, and one that I’m loving exploring more in solo novel series Abra and Judith. This series stars the two girls and follows their exploits in full length novels aside from the team up Tribus Dulce novels. This is as good a time as any to clarify that the Tribus Dulce series should be considered the annual “super hero team up” while separate novels such as the Abra and Judith series and the Ochre Alleycat series will follow these protagonists on their separate adventures along the way. While I won’t hold any comparisons to a certain cinematic universe against you, I would like to point out I’ve been in love with the concept of writing a connected universe since I first began penning literary works around five or so years of age 😊

Judy is someone we see from Abra’s perspective in Tribus Dulce. We see Abra even after years of friendship making mistakes regarding the intent of Judy’s motivations, as is plausible for her home life, but we also see constantly a girl who is incredibly patient, loving and loyal. Something worth noting is that Abra makes mention of Judy’s “WOOO Girl” friends, but the narrative shows Judy forsaking essentially all forms of social interaction to care for her friend, for her taken sister, throughout the story. We also see moments of Judy’s vast intelligence and depth of character, as well as a picture into her own unhappy home life.

The solo novel Abra and Judith will begin with something of a retelling of Abra’s last chapter in Tribus Dulce, this time allowing us to see those events unfolding from Judith’s perspective. I think readers will be delighted to gain deeper insight into Judy’s psyche and motivations, as well as a deeper understanding of how her powers work and when they first manifested.

There’ll be more on Judy in the next Tribus Dulce universe writeup, as well as articles on each of the other feature characters leading up to the debut of Ochre Alleycat, a novel starring a new protagonist that runs parallel to Tribus Dulce, a new protagonist deeply affected by the actions our heroes took at that time. In the meantime, be sure to pick up Tribus Dulce if you haven’t already; if you want a different take on low-key urban super hero narratives, or want to see young heroes overcoming and healing from traumas ranging from domestic abuse to toxic masculinity and more, this is the book for you!

-Eugene the Author

Let's Talk More About Nora and the Eternal Waterwheel!

Nora and the Eternal Waterwheel was something of a jumping off point crafted from the idea of wanting to see something more different, perhaps more pure, than current narrative exposure in all ages writing. In writing what was affectionately been dubbed “The Nora Chronicles” by fans, I worked to create a world that was as intelligent as it was innocent.

My bread and butter, or biscuits and bacon, is dark fantasy. I’m not a writer confined to a single genre; that would bore me to something ten steps beyond tears, nor do I confine myself to a single series, but if you ask me “Eugene, what do you prefer to write?” dark fantasy is quite probably the highest on my list. I was challenged by my editor and by members of my church to write something for younger readers, and the challenge was fun and humorous for me because my perspective on appropriate reading materials for youths is rather obscured. It’s easy enough to say “Most kids shouldn’t watch Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira or Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s Ninja Scroll”, though I saw both in single digits. It’s a bit harder with literature.

I was reading Poe and Hitchcock in Kindergarten; See Spot Run made me want to contemplate my first book burning. For loads of kids, See Spot Run is an appropriate threshold. For many, it’s insulting. I was reading titles like The Wuthering Heights, The Picture of Dorian Grey, Great Expectations, Kilobyte, A Matter of Taste and more in the first grade. So, my perspective on media for younglings is rather different. That being said, I also don’t believe every young person ought to embark on a journey with Saberhagen, and that’s pretty clear in my all ages writing.

How many of you are still reading? Felicitations; I do so love and adore individuals who don’t knee jerk and fly into rage. Let’s go on, shall we?

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Hope in Hopelessness

A lot of my narratives deal with protagonists in extreme or seemingly hopeless situations. I’ve been told by some that my narratives have perhaps dour sensibilities, and lean towards darker adventures and struggles for their heroes. The thing about the thing, as I like to say, is that while some of my narratives for older readers certainly fall into the “dark fantasy” genre, I prefer to view them as “Psalm 23 narratives”.

Psalm 23’s arguably most famous line comes from verse 4; “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” I really like how verse 5 goes on to say “thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”

The purpose of narratives like “Kill All Christians” and “Tribus Dulce” as well as several completed but not yet released novels is to take heroes who are in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death, or as John 1:23 says, “John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.'"

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Rejoicing is Hard...

Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious for anything, but in all things by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me (God) or seen in me—put it to practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Sometimes, a lot of times, that’s easier said than done though. I’m a minister of the gospel, a knight of divinity, sixteen years a believer and nearly three years a minister and yet I still struggle with the peace that surpasses all understanding. More and more the world we live in is one in which I wonder, is there no love for, and of, Christ left? But I’m not here this Sunday to drive you into existential depression, no. I’m here this Sunday to give you the Jeremiah 29:11 promise.

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The Matrix: The Dragon House Studios Cast Reboot!

So I was texting my family earlier today, discussing whom I think would make great actors in a reboot of The Matrix Trilogy. My master of marketing Cazoshay (of D.I.D. with Cazoshay) recommended that I share those thoughts and observations with you lovely people! So, with no further ado, let's take a look at how I would re-cast The Matrix:

Michael B. Jordan as Neo

I'll be honest, it was a tough pick. I was actually torn between Michael B. Jordan and another actor, but ultimately I think my top pick to don Keanu's trench coat and shades has got to be Mr Johnny "Killmonger" Creed himself! Michael's presence and depth would make him an ideal pick; he can transform himself from goofy to wrathful to pensive to mournful in the space of a breath, and I think after Creed and Black Panther there's no doubt that he can carry himself in a fight scene.

Zoë Kravitz as Trinity

Though her part in Fury Road was on the small side, I think Zoë is more than ready to step into a leading role. She carries herself with a presence that can scream badass as much as it whispers confidence and charm. I don't know about you, but I could see Miss Kravitz running down the side of a building with dual pistols in hand!

Keanu Reeves as Morpheus

You can't do The Matrix without The One! Keanu's presence and style has changed over the years, evolving and transitioning into a calmer, quieter, more focused and driven portrayal. Keanu would have no problem putting on the mirrored shades and stepping into the role of mentor, older brother and friend to our young new Neo. There's the potential for cute little easter egg jokes, such as banter between Michael and Keanu like

Michael: Man you can't be The One.
Keanu: I could be.
Michael: No one would believe you're The One.
Keanu: You'd be surprised.

What's more, who wouldn't want to see a young new Neo utter the iconic "I know Kung Fu" line only to have Keanu John Wick him in the face and show him he's got a whole lot more to learn?!

Laurence Fishburne as The Oracle

Not only is Mr. Fishburne epic no matter the role, you can't do a Matrix reboot without bringing the dream team together again! Think it's an odd pick? Close your eyes and imagine Laurence's deep, gravely voice and commanding aura delivering some sage wisdom to Michael B. Jordan. Yeah, you know you just got a chill down your spine!

Beyond that, by casting Keanu and Laurence side by side in these roles, we continue the portrayal of Laurence's character playing mentor to Keanu's. And, we could use the casting to slip in a wham line where Michael B. Jordan's Neo goes off for his next battle leaving Keanu/Morpheus and Laurence/Oracle behind to talk.

Keanu/Morpheus: Kid's got a hard road ahead of him.
Laurence/Oracle: That he does, that he does. Harder than our time around, old friend.
Keanu/Morpheus: Here's hoping he doesn't have to pay the same price...

Denzel Washington as Agent Smith

Does this even need an explanation? I mean, you saw Book of Eli, The Equalizer, Fences, The Magnificent Seven, American Gangsters and Man on Fire, right? The man can do cold, calculating, cold-blooded, stalking, hunting, terrifying, without question. I picture a more sociopathic Smith, one that plays more strongly on the elements of fear and control, power and powerlessness. This Smith with Denzel's overwhelming magnitude and effortless cool could show a bit more condescension and a little more swagger, a program who knows he's a lion standing before a lamb. And, Denzel would be absolutely perfect to play the part.

Donnie Yen as Seraph

The only problem with this casting choice is I can't see anyone believing Neo would win against Ip Man. That being said, I've never seen a Donnie Yen film that wasn't amazing, and his flurry punches would require the camera to slow him down rather than speed him up! Seraph had a small role in the original Matrix, and I'd like to see that role expanded a bit more. It's still Neo's story to be sure, but someone as important as The Oracle's guardian ought to have more than one fight scene.

Donnie showed his depth with the Ip Man trilogy, able to portray a sort of quiet sorrow and a burning resolve that would be perfect for the role of Seraph in this reboot.

Donald Glover as Cypher

Donald Glover may be known more for his comedic roles, but anyone who has seen his music videos (and probably Atlanta; I admittedly haven't seen it yet) knows the man can bring pain and intensity with ease when the moment calls for it. What's more, Donald's lovable, easy going nature combined with a disarming laugh, an enchanting smile, and a presence that makes you just want to kick back and have fun would make the inevitable sting of his betrayal that much more devastating.

Dennis Haysbert as Tank

If all Tank needed to be was big and imposing, many a built actor could pull it off. But, if we want to see Tank portrayed with a sense of greater emotional depth that would really leave you biting your nails hoping he lives through this reboot trilogy, Dennis Haysbert is your man! While we may be used to him asking us about our insurance, I know him better for his intense at times and subtle at others roles as Major Jonas Blane (The Unit) and President David Palmer in 24. Any who doubt that Dennis would play Tank in a manner that would utterly shift your perception of the character needs to shut off the insurance commercials and pull out their dvd's for a second go around the block!

Carrie-Anne Moss as Niobe

It honestly should not have been as hard as it was to find a role for me to recast Carrie-Anne in. That really just served to show how few women had important roles in the original trilogy. But, as Niobe Carrie-Anne will have the opportunity to step into a different kind of badass warrior. Niobe is more sure of herself, while Trinity was still that young woman searching for answers and trying to find herself. While Trinity was far more uncertain, Niobe commands confidence and carries herself in a manner that exudes waves of self-confidence and self-reliance. I think it'd be fun both for viewers and for Carrie-Anne to give this role a shot, and, if Keanu is going to be Morpheus I think it's pretty fitting that Carrie-Anne play his estranged beloved.

Jada Pinkett Smith as Ghost

Now, hear me out. Anyone thinking to themselves "Wait, you want Jada Pinkett Smith to play second fiddle to essentially herself?!" obviously never played Enter the Matrix or saw The Animatrix. The problem with Ghost wasn't that he was an unimportant character, the problem was that The Matrix Trilogy was one of the first major cross media initiatives. As a result, anyone who wasn't a gamer has no idea how vastly important Ghost actually was and can be.

And, not unlike how I want to expand Seraph's role, there's plenty of room for Ghost to play a more important part in the narrative as well. While I could easily come up with a compelling love story for Ghost, as Jada had one when she played Niobe, I think there's importance in also showing a confident, strong black female lead who isn't in a relationship. That being said, it would also be a fun opportunity to cameo Will Smith as a stay at home dad character, defying the stereotype that black men aren't involved in their children's lives or are somehow weak for being homemakers.

Chadwick Boseman as Commander Jason Lock

Again, do I even have to explain this one? I feel like I shouldn't have to explain this one. I'm not going to explain this one. Go watch Black Panther if you need me to explain this one. Already saw it? Go watch Black Panther again if you still need me to explain this one. I'm not explaining this one.

Hugo Weaving as The Architect

You didn't think I'd forget about Agent Smith himself, did you? For one, he's got the look. For another, the presence. And, if we keep up with our fun little theme of teasing that this reboot could be more sequel than re-telling, who wouldn't want to see the former One standing opposite his arch rival who has now ascended to the rank of Architect of the Matrix? I'd also like to see the Architect factor a bit more into the narrative as well, and Hugo is certainly the man to do it!
 

So there you have it! My dream team if I were going to recast The Matrix for an epic reboot! Did you enjoy this article? No? I don't care. Kidding, kidding! Mostly.

I intend to give my own novels this same treatment, so tune in next time for my dream cast for my dark fantasy/gothic Christian sword epic, Kill All Christians Book 1: In the Village of the Devil's Daughters, as well as a new update on all ages fantasy novel Nora and the Eternal Waterwheel now targeting a June 3rd release!

Eugene the Author a.k.a. Xeawn Cross a.k.a. Gentelman Raptor, out!

Arctic Comic Con!!!

I'm so excited to see you all at the Arctic Comic Con in Anchorage, Alaska tomorrow and Sunday! I've been hard at work here in the lab getting ready, and I've got 15% off discount cards for everyone who stops by! The discount cards will be usable for any order made from my website here.

Due to a glitch in the warehouse, I'll be going digital this time around. Let me break down what this means for you:

Kindle eBook versions of Dark Fantasy epic Kill All Christians: In the Village of the Devil's Daughters and Low Key Super Hero Drama Tribus Dulce will be available for $7.50 each from Amazon for the duration of this event. After the con is over, the eBooks will go back to full price!

The 15% off discount cards can be applied to orders made on my website for paperback versions of Kill All Christians and Tribus Dulce.

If you make your order with me directly at the convention, I'll discount your order even further!

What's more, these 15% off codes will be good from now through the end of May, and All Ages High Fantasy Epic Nora and the Eternal Waterwheel will be launching early May! 

So the best bang for your buck would be to pick up your books from me directly at the Arctic Comic Con in the Dena'ina center and consider saving your codes for Nora's release in the next few weeks!

But of course, go forth and buy as you please! And above all else, be blessed, and happy reading!

-Eugene the Author
a.k.a. Xeawn Cross
a.k.a. Gentleman Raptor