And now for something completely different…

I’m going to be off for a while.  Apparently Wrath James White can talk me into just about anything, because I’m off to Austin, Texas to audition for a reality show, Focus Rally America, with him.

You can follow along on my Twitter feed.

Speaking of Wrath, he’s re-releasing his collection, Book of A Thousand Sins.  Here’s my review of it from the first go around as well as an interview I did with him, part I and part II.

The Faithful Wrath

I don’t know why Wrath James White can’t simply say “Hey Maurice, I miss you. Why don’t you give me a call sometime?” Noooooo, instead he has to go all passive-aggressive on me and write a blog specifically designed to pick an argument with me. (Right, because we all know Wrath’s passive-aggressive … when he’s not being, you know, aggressive-aggressive.)

In the foreward of Orgy of Souls, I wrote that “faith is that sometimes tenuous, sometimes stronger than we think thing that keeps our world in order. [Wrath and I are] both men of faith in our own way, be it faith in ourselves or faith in God. We each are on our own spiritual journey. My faith follows a story, something that especially resonates with me as a writer. However, Wrath’s faith is every bit as rich and varied as my own.”

Why have I described both Wrath and I as men of faith? Because of one of the definitions of faith he cites: complete trust; something that is believed especially with strong conviction. Faith is an intuitive leap to what you choose to believe and how you choose to process the world around you. Any choice of a worldview requires a leap of faith, to believe that your worldview is the “right” one. I believe quest/knowledge journeys begin with a leap of faith, that is, what we choose to put our trust in. For some, it is ourselves (the individual or humanity). For some, it is science (the determination of our senses). For some, it is the spiritual (under the assumption that there is more to this life than presented, both in terms of the spiritual and in terms of after this life). To quote from the blog of my friend, Rich Vincent:

“Christianity does not consist in a series of verifiable and interlocking hypotheses. Nor is it a philosophical system consisting in satisfactory, mutually consistent propositions… the way that truth is sought and engaged with is not through detachment but through a living relationship of faith and love with the object we seek”. The Christian seeks more than “objective truth,” facts, or information. “The goal is not to find information, or even to discern fact, but to bring ourselves, as living subjects, into engagement with reality, culminating ultimately in a participation in the ground of what is real”.

Also, Christians don’t have a monopoly on truth. As Christ himself says, “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice” (John 18.37). In my faith worldview, Christ is the universal truth and all truth leads to him. Faith doesn’t always make sense to me, I think that’s one reason why we’re told to work out our faith in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). I can only work out my faith in the doing. I have always seen myself as a soldier, someone who dives in to do the work. Your faith should drive you to action. It has its own dangers as I’m prone to working hard FOR Him, or doing good works for their own sake, rather than working hard to KNOW Him. And it’s the knowing of God that’s at the heart of my faith. Again, to quote from Rich’s blog:

An authentic encounter with the living and eternal God touches both our hearts and our hands. God calls us to nothing less than complete spiritual transformation. Those who desire to simply dabble in religion will get nowhere. Only thoses willing to submit to the rigors of regular acts of self-examination, confession of sin, and deeds of repentance can know deep and lasting change.

An authentic encounter with the living God will never leave us as we are – it will challenge our lifestyles, attitudes, actions, and motivations. The reason is simple: God regularly calls us to change – to repentance. If we are unwilling to change, we harden ourselves to spiritual transformation. Only a humble heart, open to God, ready to admit mistakes, willing to start again can know the fullness of what God desires.

Religion needs to be more than a get out of hell free card and church needs to be more than a collection of folks who huddle together to debate theology and revel in their rightness. The point of Christianity isn’t to make it into heaven, but rather the story we find ourselves in: we’re lost, dying, and in need of new life. Through Christ we’re found, saved, and given a model for a new way of living.

I believe that we’re all people of faith in our own way, it’s just a matter of what we choose to put that faith in, be it in ourselves, science, humanity, or in God. As such, each of us are on our own spiritual journey. There will be times when science will clarify matters of faith just like there will be times when faith can temper our sometimes irrational admiration for the rational. I think we can do more than just make “a” decision and hope that we’re right. We can continue to test what we believe and say we’re about and live out our lives accordingly.

Mo*Con IV: My Atheism Part II

(Continued from Part I)

I didn’t become an atheist because I was mad at God. You can’t be mad at someone that doesn’t exist. I didn’t become an atheist because some tragedy befell me that made me turn my back on religion and deny the existence of God like some sort of grudge. If I was mad at God I wouldn’t deny his existence because if God doesn’t exist than he’s not responsible for anything. God’s only excuse is that he doesn’t exist. That would be like denying the existence of Hitler because I was pissed off at him over the Holocaust. It wouldn’t make sense. I’m not an atheist because I find Christian morality too hard to live up to and I want to just sin freely without repercussions. There are always repercussions for your actions in this life.

There’s no need for a heaven or a hell because we get them both right here, right now and it isn’t as simple as good befalling the good and bad befalling the bad. You can be the most loving and giving person and still make bad decisions that you ultimately suffer for. The morality I subscribed to, in my opinion, holds me to a much higher standard because it requires me to be more than simply good, it requires me to be smart. It doesn’t allow me to hate someone for no other reason than because some book says I should.

I became an atheist when I realized that the only reason I had ever believed was because that’s how I had been raised. I had been a Christian only because my family and everyone else I knew were Christians. That was it. That was my only reason. It had nothing to do with proof. If I had been raised by Hindus I would have been Hindu. If I had been raised by Muslims I would have been Muslim.
When I realized this I was embarrassed. To me, it was the most random, the most arbitrary, the most ridiculous reason I could think of to believe in anything. And that’s the way most people adopt their religious beliefs, it is simply handed down to them like a used sweater and we put it on before we are old enough to question it. Most people go their entire lives without ever questioning why they’re wearing it, if they need it, or whether they would be better off without it.

I didn’t have any proof that anything in the bible was true and once I read the bible, I realized that I didn’t believe half of the things in it and that neither did most of the people I knew. Yet somehow they still called themselves Christians. Most of the people I knew didn’t believe in Adam and Eve. They didn’t believe that Jonah lived inside a whale’s belly for days. They didn’t believe that Noah put two of every animal onto a boat for thirty days and thirty nights and that somehow every animal on earth lived within walking distance of Noah’s house, several million species of insects, thousands of birds and rodents that would have taken several lifetimes to collect. They didn’t believe that women should be silent and subservient. They didn’t believe in slavery. They didn’t believe that if someone worked on Sunday or cheated on their husband or didn’t obey their parents they should be stoned to death. They didn’t believe that it was a sin to eat crab or lobster or rabbit. Most of the Christians I knew had never even read the entire bible. They accepted this ideology and didn’t even know what the book really said. I became an atheist when I realized that I had no logical reason for being a Christian.

When I first began to question religion I assumed that I would find answers to my questions and that nothing would change. I assumed that the failing was in me and not in the bible. I thought that if anything, my belief would be stronger in the end. Instead, the more I read, the more I questioned, the more doubts I acquired and the harder it became to hold on to my beliefs. I found falsehoods. I found contradictions. I found immorality. I found that all the things I had believed made no sense and those things that I believed that did make sense were not even really in the bible or else were actively contradicted by other passages in the bible. That so much of what was written in its pages flew in the face of reason and morality. At that point, I would have had to deny all logic in order to believe and I just could not do that.

Isaac Asimov said, that when “Properly read, the bible is the most potent force for Atheism ever conceived.” That’s why those who know the bible the best and follow it the most literally look crazy to most people. Even moderate and liberal Christians think fundamentalists are crazy. Because the passages that most sane and reasonable people completely ignore or choose to interpret symbolically or metaphorically, they believe. So we call them extremists and zealots when what they really are, are true believers. When the church was burning infidels at the stake and sending armed missionary soldiers abroad to slaughter or convert entire cultures, they were following the bible. Today’s fundamentalists don’t even follow the bible 100%. They can’t. If anyone was to follow every command in the bible 100% they would be a criminal and a murderer. They would be a thoroughly reprehensible human being—a racist, sexist, homophobic, wife beating, gay bashing, child abusing, slave trader. But the bible was written to be followed 100%. There’s nothing in there that says or even suggests that certain parts were to be ignored or taken lightly. When Jesus said, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling.” He didn’t wink afterwards. He didn’t laugh. In Titus 2:9 when it says “Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect.” Afterwards it doesn’t have a little note in parentheses that says “just kiddin’”. He meant that literally.

In order to keep Christian beliefs in line with modern morality you have to reinterpret passages that are relatively black and white or else disregard them entirely because so much of it runs contrary to commonsense morality. To be a good person and continue to believe you have to cherry-pick the good stuff and disregard all that slavery, homophobia, and misogynism stuff.

So, after reading the bible, I decided to reevaluate all of my beliefs. I abandoned everything I had believed for which there was no evidence and I started over, putting my beliefs back together piece by piece and only including the things I could logically support and defend.

I realized that the first step in achieving true knowledge was admitting my own ignorance. Not going in already committed to a conclusion and just looking for facts to justify the conclusions I had already reached. If I had begun asking questions when I was already one hundred percent emotionally committed to a conclusion those questions would have been worthless. So I let all these emotional convictions go and it was like a great weight had been lifted. The scales had fallen from my eyes and I could finally see the world as it was rather than how I had been conditioned to believe it was. My mind was now opened by wonder rather than closed by faith.

History has shown us again and again that the closed mind created by faith is fertile ground for hatred and prejudice, not to mention that it has often been an impediment to both moral and scientific progress. To quote Blaise Pascal, “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.” That alone would be enough for me to reject faith. This irrational illogical thought process, to me, contradicts the very definition of a human being, the rational animal. We were given these great big brains in order to allow us to answer questions and find true knowledge. Filling in the gaps between what we know and what we don’t know with beliefs that we lend the same weight as knowledge ensures that true knowledge will have a hard time ever finding fertile ground upon which to grow.

The virtue of ignora
nce is that it allows for knowledge. The sin of faith is that it does not. If you believe before you know and are committed to that belief you will NEVER know. Your belief has taken the place of knowledge. Why would you search for truth if you believe in your heart that you have already found it? Faith does not give you the answers, it just stops you from asking the questions and that alone is enough reason for me to reject it. You cannot fill a vessel that is already full and that is the problem with faith. That alone is reason enough to be an atheist. Not because I have anything against any one religion but because of the foundation of faith upon which all religions rest. That is why I am and will always be a skeptic.

The reality is that when it comes to creation and the existence or non-existence of a creator we just don’t know. Anyone who says he does know is either deluded or disingenuous. We don’t know. There is no shame in admitting that we don’t know. There is no dishonor in admitting our obvious ignorance. The dishonor is in resigning ourselves to remaining ignorant. Not just belief without evidence but belief against all contradictory evidence. That type of willful ignorance is a sin against all the potential within human nature. An open mind that leads to the pursuit of knowledge is the very definition of what it means to be human and as such is the highest virtue.

Thank you.

Mo*Con IV: My Atheism Part I

By Wrath James White

Good afternoon, my friends. I’d like to first thank Maurice for inviting me here and thank you all for welcoming me. My name is Wrath James White and I am a humanist, an atheist. As Maurice’ll tell you, I am about as passionate in my disbelief as he is in his belief.

Let me begin by explaining what atheism is. Atheism, simply put, means not believing in any god or gods. There’s a quote made popular by Richard Dawkins: “We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.” We are all atheists when it comes to believing in Zeus or Odin or RA. I just believe in one fewer god than you do.

But, so what? I don’t believe. You do. Who cares? And if there was a way to keep these two viewpoints from coming into conflict with one another I wouldn’t care. But I believe in many things that are threatened by the church.

I believe in euthanasia. I believe that people should have the right to choose when and how they die. I believe they have the right to a dignified end. But because of the dominant religious beliefs in this country, if I became paralyzed with some crippling, agonizing illness that deteriorated my quality of life to the point that I no longer wanted to live, I do not have the legal right to end my life. That pisses me off a little. I believe in same-sex marriage. I believe that society benefits from people being in committed relationships. It serves a stabilizing function by encouraging people to settle down, get a job, raise children in a stable loving environment, buy a house, and pay taxes. But once again, because of the dominant religious beliefs in this country many loving couples are not able to enjoy the same rights as every other American. And that pisses me off. I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I don’t believe it benefits this society and, in fact, it does great harm to bring unwanted children into a world already straining beneath the weight of overpopulation, crime, and poverty. But the dominant religion in this country is constantly trying to curtail that right.

I believe that people should be judged by their abilities, their morality, and their actions rather than by their religious beliefs or lack thereof. But yet, in this country atheists are the minorities least likely to be elected to public office. And yeah, that pisses me off. When asked who you would like your son or daughter to marry, once again, an atheist is at the bottom of the list. Despite the fact that atheists are most likely to be college educated, least likely to go to prison, and least likely to get divorced. And finally, I believe in reason. I believe that the practice of believing without evidence is demonstrably dangerous and has historically led to abominable acts of intolerance and cruelty. As Voltaire said, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

I don’t think it‘s a coincidence that nearly all the racist organizations in this country are religious organizations. When you don’t need evidence for your beliefs you can believe anything and that tendency can be easily exploited by the corrupt and the unscrupulous.

Atheism is not a belief system. There are no dogmas attached to it. No mores. No rituals. There are no Ten Commandments of atheism. It is simply the absence of belief.

I’m sure you have been told and many of you perhaps believe that atheists hold science up like a religion. That we have faith in it the same way believers have faith in their religions, but there’s no such thing as scientific faith. Science is the study of evidence whereas faith is belief without evidence and often in spite of all evidence. They are the antithesis of each other. There are no scientific beliefs that are sacrosanct. If a scientist could disprove evolution or gravity or relativity he would be famous. He’d be almost guaranteed a Nobel Prize.

“… my belief in evolution is not fundamentalism, and it is not faith, because I know what it would take to change my mind, and I would gladly do so if the necessary evidence were forthcoming.”

That was Richard Dawkins who said that. He is about as close to a fundamentalist atheist as they come. And that is why there is no such thing as a fundamentalist atheist, because if there were scientific evidence that God existed there would be no atheists. I know exactly what it would take to convince me of God’s existence, verifiable evidence, facts.

I don’t have, and never had, the ability to suspend my disbelief and natural skepticism. Not even when I was a believer. I always questioned and doubted. That’s just who I am. I can’t believe just to satisfy anxieties about death or my place in the universe. I can’t believe simply because a particular belief system is popular. Truth isn’t decided by majority vote. I can’t be persuaded just because some priest or minister talks real pretty. I know they are just men like me. I talk pretty too. That doesn’t mean I’m not full of crap sometimes. I can’t just choose to believe because I don’t trust my own moral compass and fear that I wouldn’t be a good person without the threat of damnation and the promise of paradise. I cannot believe just to fit in, for that safe, comfortable, sense of community. I cannot believe just because everyone in my family, culture, or country believes and it has become a custom or a tradition. My mind just does not work that way. I am not terribly skilled at the art of self-deception.

I can only believe in any religion or ideology when I know it to be true, when it can be verified by empirical facts, by experiments that produce predictable results that can be duplicated. That’s the basic standard of proof we use for everything except our religious beliefs. If someone were selling me a TV set and they said “You can’t turn it on. You just have to have faith that it works. You can only turn it on after you’re dead.” I’d think they were crazy. And hopefully, so would you. But religion doesn’t allow you to turn it on and try it out before you buy it. You don’t know if religion works until you’re dead. Now, I’m just a kid from the ghetto so to me, that sounds like a con.

When I was growing up on the streets of Philadelphia, I learned the hard way not to blindly trust in pretty words and beautiful fantasies spun by charismatic individuals no matter how desirable the fantasies were, no matter how well they fit my personal aesthetic, my personal vision of how things ought to be, no matter how much they flattered my ego or calmed my fears. I learned to question everything. I wasn’t fooled by the pimps, hustlers, conmen, and drug dealers because I questioned every lie that came out of their mouths and I demanded proof. I demanded evidence. I saw what a crack addict looked like and so I never fell for the lies of the crack dealer. I saw the drunks and winos. That’s why I never drank when I was young no matter how much peer pressure there was to get drunk and party. I never smoked cigarettes. I never smoked weed. No matter how many of “the cool kids” were doing it. I never got into crime. I saw the end results of the drug dealer’s life, the pimp’s life, the gangster’s life, and so I was never impressed with their temporary wealth and ghetto fame.

Likewise, I heard the preacher telling us that “Jesus Saves” and then I saw my friends and neighbors gunned down in the street by drug dealers. I saw them in welfare lines and unemployment lines. I saw them get sick with cancers and diseases and die in agony. I saw crack babies born into abusive homes. I saw the socio-economic oppression of my people, crushed beneath the weight of racism and poverty and it was hard to rectify that with anything the preacher was saying. I read in the bible, Mathew 7:8 , where Jesus said “For everyone who asketh receiveth; he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him?” It floored me, because I had been asking for bread for as long as I could recall and had usually received stones and serpents. My own life proved the lie in this statement and it called everything else into question. As I looked around at my neighbors I saw that most of them had likewise learned to subsist on stones from heaven. The bible was obviously wrong. And so, like the lies of the pimps, drug dealers, gang bangers, and conmen, I learned not to trust it. Just as it had on the streets, being a skeptic kept me from being a fool and a victim.

Atheism, for me, is not a statement of any knowledge concerning the origins of the universe or of life. It is not saying, “I know for a fact that there is no God.” What it says is simply, “I don’t know if there is a God and neither do you. And because I don’t know I can’t believe.”

(to be continued)

Orgy of Souls: Making Gary Braunbeck’s Brain Melt

Some people have asked about what the thought process behind bringing Orgy of Souls to light. So I thought I would explore that for a bit.

At the World Horror Convention 2007, Wrath James White and I were telling award winning writer, Gary Braunbeck about our collaboration. If I could capture a facial expression of his reaction to just the IDEA of the two of us writing together, and use it as a blurb, I most certainly would have done so.

Wrath James White and I have very little in common beyond being bald, black horror writers. Our writing styles, our lifestyles, our politics, our worldviews, our spiritual perspectives – on paper, we shouldn’t even be friends. He writes for those with “a taste for the violent, the erotic, the blasphemous,” while I write introspective, atmospheric stories. He’s a hedonistic humanist and I’m a Christian, the facilitator (a nebulous title coming from the Greek meaning “we don’t want to keep explaining to the congregation that one of the church leaders is a horror writer”) at a church called The Dwelling Place.

Religion and horror are inextricably tied to one another, probably because both deal with the unknown and try to come to terms with the fear of it. Since spirituality is a fundamental part of the human experience, an examination of faith, especially against the backdrop of the horror genre is something that is near to my heart. Doing so with a voice diametrically opposed to mine, that’s a challenge that I’ve looked forward to.

The a “big idea” to Orgy of Souls is the examination of the idea of faith and in a lot of ways is a continuation of the kind of conversations (read: arguments) Wrath and I typically find ourselves in (in fact, my story recently published in Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest #12, “Broken Strand” is another story stemming from one of our arguments, that time on free will. Just like “Nurse’s Requiem”, in the Dark Dreams III anthology examined the idea of faith stemming from another argument; and my story “Rite of Passage”, in an upcoming issue of Space & Time Magazine stemmed from an argument we were having over the history of slavery. In other words, we do this a lot).

Seen as a crutch by some, faith is that sometimes tenuous, sometimes stronger-than-we-think thing that keeps our world in order. I believe that we’re all people of faith in our own way, it’s just a matter of what we choose to put that faith in, be it in ourselves, science, humanity, or in God. As such, we each are on our own spiritual journey.

I don’t know much for sure and I’m certainly not afraid of questioning or going through a period of doubt. Faith includes doubt. God is big enough for us to question, doubt, and wrestle with. In fact, I believe He expects us to. The opposite of faith isn’t doubt, it’s certainty. Finding faith is like falling in love: there is an element of mystery to both and let’s face it, there are times when we feel like we have been chosen and times when we choose to do it (which is what marriage has taught me).

As for “how can a Christian write horror?” (you can imagine the variations on this question I tend to field … and my sometimes less than helpful responses) or justify any story, much less one about faith, set against a backdrop of plenty of sex and violence and the occasional demon … the best answer I can offer is that sometimes exploring faith can be messy.

Orgy of Souls is as much about the collaboration as anything else. It’s important to choose wisely in your collaboration partners because it’s a lot like entering into a marriage (and divorce can be just as messy). The idea is to come together without losing the distinction of your individual voices. The way we looked at it was that I do what I do. Wrath does what Wrath does. I get to play in Wrath’s sandbox (though I swear, he wrote all the naughty bits. Absolutely. He’s solely to blame. I definitely had no role in any of that. For sure.) Wrath gets to play in mine. It was every bit as much two friends coming together to do what we love, writing, just to enjoy the give and take and learning from each other. And have a ball doing it.

Then we invite the reader to join in our fun. You can’t ask for much more than that.

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Mo*Con IV: Save the Date

The Love and Business of Writing

May 15th – 17th, 2009

Here’s all I’ll say for now (tentatively – as details are still being worked out):

Tom Piccirilli

Gary Braunbeck

Lucy Synder

Linda Addison

Gerard Houarner

There will be a poetry jam. Food. Drinks. And a sermon by Wrath James White. If this doesn’t get me fired, nothing will.

Brought to you by The Dwelling Place, Trinity Church, and the Indiana Horror Writers. Details will come (as will a re-vamping of my web site to feature a Mo*Con page to include footage of previous Mo*Cons). For now, keep the date open.

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DON’T BUY THIS BOOK!!!

Orgy of Souls: A Deadly Seduction

New Novella by Maurice Broaddus and Wrath James White offers sex, gore, blasphemy…and the unrivaled power of brotherly love
March 15, 2008 — Apex Publications announces the upcoming release of “Orgy of Souls,” a new novella by Maurice Broaddus and Wrath James White, on June 14, 2008 (just in time for Mo*Con III). Pre-orders begin March 23.

How pretty would a man have to be for you to sign over to him your immortal soul? If you’ve never asked yourself that question, it’s only because you’ve never read “Orgy of Souls.”

A thoughtful look at the role of God in the tragedies of the world might not automatically bring to mind visions of beautiful party boys and orgiastic bloodbaths, but in the hands of Maurice Broaddus and Wrath James White, the melding of such opposites is the perfect backdrop for the story of two brothers, each trying to save the other from what he has become.

Samuel, a priest who questions his faith as he fights a losing battle with AIDS, struggles to retain his dignity and hide his doubts from those around him. His brother, Samson, a high-end fashion model who indulges in every excess and finds each one lacking, loves nothing in the world except for Samuel. As Samson sinks deeper into the darkness of violent rituals intended to barter for his brother’s life, Samuel must face up to his own doubts and fears in order to stop Samson’s growing lust for blood and souls.

Blood, sex, rage, repentance and otherworldly horror…all are invited to the “Orgy of Souls.”

Better your blasphemy and preorder “Orgy of Souls” on Easter Sunday: March 23, 2008. For details and updates visit www.apexbookcompany.com. Available in signed, limited edition hardcover (350 copies, bound tip-in signature sheet) and trade paperback (released in Sept. 08) from Apex Publications.

About the Authors
Maurice Broaddus’s work has appeared in Weird Tales, Horror Literature Quarterly, and a wide variety of anthologies. His story “Family Business” won first prize at the World Horror Convention Story Competition in 2003. Often known as the Sinister Minister, Broaddus says of the religious aspects of his writing: “As writers, our worldviews–from nihilistic to religious–are a part of us and thus a part of our writing. What we believe, why we believe, it’s all in there.”

Wrath James White is a professional fighter and writer, two pursuits that blend together to create unrelenting prose. His novels include Teratologist (co-written with Edward Lee), Poisoning Eros (co-written with Monica O-Rourke), and Succulent Prey. “If you have a weak stomach, a closed mind, rigid morals, and Victorian sexual ethics, then avoid my writing like the plague,” says Wrath. If, on the other hand, you want hard-hitting fiction where nothing is taboo, you’ve found the right author.

About Apex Publications
Apex Publications is a small press dedicated to publishing exemplary works of dark science fiction and horror. Owned and operated by Jason B. Sizemore, Apex publishes the critically acclaimed Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest. In 2006, Apex Publishing branched into producing novellas, collections, and anthologies, earning a Bram Stoker Award nomination for the Aegri Somnia anthology in 2007.

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How could you not see this coming? Wrath James White has guest blogged for me, I reviewed his Book of a Thousand Sins and I interviewed him (part I and II)

I already know that I’m going to get letters. You know it’s a bad sign when Wrath drops me a note saying “you may want to have a blog handy about how you can write horror and work in a church.” Luckily, I do.

Of course, I’m in a no lose situation:

Dear Mr. Broaddus, How can you call yourself a Christian and write … that “covenant” scene, to say the least? Sincerely, Pissed off, though well-intentioned, judgmental guy

Now, the simple response could go along the lines of

Dear fellow traveler, Wrath wrote that. In fact, he wrote every objectionable scene in the novella. Did you read Book of a Thousand Sins?!? Sincerely, Perfectly innocent co-writer

For those looking for my usual fare, save me the headache. Save yourself the headache. There are scenes where you can almost picture Wrath behind the keyboard trying to get me fired. Did I mention that I wrote none of those scenes? (Though Apex Publications does seem to draw out my darker, darker side. It should be noted, however, that my story appearing in Apex Digest #12 was written while under the influence of my collaboration with Wrath.)

I may have my church boycott the book.

Ignore Mark Rainey, too:

“ORGY OF SOULS is a gripping tale of two brothers whose lives have taken radically different paths — but those paths intersect via some surprising twists and turns. With raw prose, vividly drawn characters, and a chilling touch of the occult, Broaddus and White draw you in and belt you right in your emotional gut.” –Stephen Mark Rainey, author of BLUE DEVIL ISLAND and THE LEBO COVEN.

“Better your blasphemy”?!? Not helping, Mr. Sizemore. I’m REALLY going to get letters.

Also available on Horror Mall.

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A Good Year So Far

(aka I’m letting my inbox recover from yesterday’s post …)

Well, 2008 is shaping up to be a serious breakout year for me. The year where I finally feel like I’m no longer just playing a writer on the Internet. My story “Snapping Points” is currently up on the MagusZine site (which also has a new story by Jason Sizemore).

Come March, you will find me in a couple of places. Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest #12 will have my story “Broken Strand” (as well as having stuff by Brian Keene, Steven Shrewsbury, Michael West, and Alethea Kontis – all sorts of Mo*Con alumni).
Doorways #5 will have my story “Just a Young Man and His Games” in it (and I’ll be sharing covers with Bob Freeman)
Mo*Con III will see the debut of at least two projects. The first is the novella co-written with Wrath James White, “Orgy of Souls.” I’ll have a separate blog about this one further down the road, which may double as my resignation letter from Christianity entirely as Wrath seemed determined to get me all kinds of fired.

The second is an anthology from the Indiana Horror Writers. I have two stories in there, “Soul Food” (a reprint of the first story ever published by me) and “Dark Night of the Soul”. They will sit proudly along stories by Bob Freeman (“Born Again”), Michael West (“Trolling”), Sara Larson (“Co-Dependency”) and Tracy Jones’ (“The Coven”) among others. Bob not only designed the cover but also the book trailer.

Later on this year will see the arrival of a couple of other new projects, some of them, once more, alongside Bob Freeman and Steve Shrewsbury (my story, “The Iron Hut” coming out in the Eldritch Steel anthology), that I’ll announce closer to when they are coming out. One way to look at this is that I’m stalking Bob, Michael, and Steve. Another is that it’s nice to have your friends enjoying success alongside you.

Oh, and my story “Rite of Passage” was just accepted by Space and Time Magazine. Like I said, not a bad year so far.

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Mo*Con II Recap I: First Impressions

Dear Jesus,

The idea of Mo*Con always seems like such a good idea on paper. You know, being missional, continuing conversations with people, serving others. But you know these things can go terribly, terribly wrong without any notice, especially when you have Brian Keene and Wrath James White involved. Please remember, I’m just trying to do my best.

Love always, your working-on-being-humble servant,

Maurice

Mo*Con II actually started Friday night with my reception dinner for my guests of honor, one of whom was late (because 2007 is the year of planes vs. Wrath James White. So far, Planes 2/Wrath 0). It was my way of saying “thank you” for all of my friends who made the trek in from all over the country. With Wrath MIA, it gave Brian Keene and I the perfect opportunity to have our Magic: the Gathering tournament in peace, re-matching our on-going battle. I don’t care what you read elsewhere on the InterWebs, goodness triumphed over trash-talking evil.

There’s no way I can cover everything that went on at the convention. We opened with a panel on spirituality and horror featuring myself, Wrath, Gary Braunbeck, and Lucy Snyder and moderated by Keene. My first inkling that things were going well (besides the church being packed) was when the early criticisms running along the lines of “why’d you have to end the spiritual panel so early?” and by early, they meant after only two hours. Next came lunch and apparently Bob Freeman won the chili cookoff.

The readings were great. Keene read “Burying Betsy” due to appear in the next issue of Cemetery Dance. Gary B. read Rami Temporalis and then screened the short film based on the story. After that came a panel on Race and horror, featuring myself, Wrath, and Chesya Burke. In short, the discussions were fabulous. A whole day of engaging dialogue with bright people talking about big ideas – exactly what we were aiming for.

Um, Saturday night. We had an after party at my house. Alethea Kontis sums it up on her blog this way:

The ambulance just left.

Again.

I have GOT to get some sleep.

It’s probably a really good thing we’re all going to church in the morning.

The evening started simply enough with another re-match of Magic, with Keene setting the rules (“I can’t believe I just spend $130 on a game of Magic”). I am positive that I neither did or said anything that would lead to this picture:

As for the ambulance incident, I’ll leave the details for my wife to blog. Suffice it to say that in the Necon tradition, someone (a fan of Keene’s) ended up needing to be rushed to a hospital. I won’t tell you how ghetto we got, posing with the ambulance or stretcher while the EMTs were working. Nor will I mention the EMTs, upon realizing that they were at a gathering of writers, stopped to network. In fact, they came back after dropping off our injured party … to pitch their “Forest Gump in space” science fiction novel. I’m not kidding.

Sunday morning, The Dwelling Place gathering welcomed the convention attenders in ways that surprised even me. There’s nothing like having the cover to Dead Sea projected on the big screen to greet a congregation. The only difference from our usual gathering was that Gary Braunbeck spoke instead of our pastor. (Keene spoke also, but 1) it was a rough Saturday night for us and 2) NO ONE wanted to follow Gary. I am posting his comments in the next two blogs and you’ll see why. I don’t think I can use the word “tremendous” often enough).

After the official end of Mo*Con II, we hosted an informal hang out time so that we could say our good-byes. My cooking schedule was insane. Friday night, chicken marsala and fettucine alfredo. Saturday, my “skyline” chili and white chicken chili. Sunday, my pan seared pork chops with mandarin oranges. And because Chesya was hungry, and I was showing off, Sunday evening I grilled steaks (with my home made Jack Daniel’s sauce) and burgers.

At which point, I set the grill on fire. Literally.

Capping off a perfectly splendid weekend. I’ll hopefully have a full gallery of pictures up on my website before too long.

(Things Overheard at Mo*Con II)

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Mo*Con II: The Intersection of Faith, Race, and Art (Updated 4/5/07)

Yes, I’m doing it again.

Featuring Guests of Honor:
Wrath James White
Brian Keene
Gary Braunbeck & Lucy Snyder

with a very special guest appearance by Chesya Burke.
(seriously, she makes me do this sort of stuff)

The mission statement of the Dwelling Place states that we exist to help people resist empty ways of life by becoming fully human in the way of Jesus. We desire to be a refuge or sanctuary, a place of rest and freedom for people to be themselves, where we connect with God and one another by joining Jesus’ mission to bless the world. To that end, we believe art is an important part of who we are and should be valued.

Just as each one of us is a masterpiece in progress and creation is continuing in us, so we desire to keep generating new creative possibilities. We long to be students awakened to the process of learning to create in the way of the Master Artist, Jesus, who saw lilies, children, mustard sees, plowing, vineyards, and housework as indicators of a wider truth. Art is never for its own sake, but people’s sake. We believe that art should be engaged with and in its own way explores truth – and we shouldn’t be afraid of truth. Another thing we want to be is a safe place for folks to work our their spirituality and ask questions.

About continuing conversations. Which brings me to Wrath James White and Brian Keene and our continuing mission to test the boundaries of what we say we’re about.

Regular readers of my blog may be familiar with Wrath James White. He has guest blogged for me, I have reviewed him, and have interviewed him (part I and part II). His blog has opened up a new audience for him. And folks who know us or are aware of our blogs, style, politics, and personalities are stunned that the two of us are friends. I explain it to them in one word: respect. We don’t try to convert each other and we don’t have the arrogance of certainty about our positions. In a nutshell, we believe what we believe, we can argue why we believe, but we’re open to the possibility that we may not be right and are willing and able to listen and learn from each other.

Adding to the conversation will be Gary A. Braunbeck and Lucy A. Snyder. Those familiar with their backgrounds will know exactly why I want them added to the conversation (and note that I used the word conversation: Gary and I know better than to argue with Wrath and Lucy).

Keene’s determined to see us all go down in flames, serving as Moderator and general provocateur.

The overall weekend will look something like this:

Saturday, July 28th
The Dwelling Place
7440 N. Michigan Road
Indianapolis, IN 46268
Starts at 10:00 a.m.

Will feature discussions on faith perspectives, writers discussing their craft, and a book launch party for Dark Dreams III (that, coincidently, Wrath, Chesya, Lawana, and myself are in). Lunch will be hosted by the Indiana Horror Writers and (due to the amount of trash talk done at the 2007 World Horror Convention) will feature a chili cookoff between myself, Wrath, and John C. Hay. Dinner will feature authentic Jamaican cuisine.

Sunday
10:30 am – Dwelling Place Service
Will feature “sermons” by Brian Keene and Gary A. Braunbeck, followed by a Guest Farewell Luncheon.

Cost: Nothing. Donations appreciated.

Hotel Information
Here’s the deal: I tried to schedule Mo*Con around the other major cons going on (sorry those going to the San Diego Comic Con instead). Unfortunately, I paid no attention to events going on in my own city, namely, the Brickyard 400. So hotels in the area are filling up fast. We however are using

Hampton Inn
7220 Woodland Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46278
(317) 290-1212 (or 1-800-HAMPTON)

Mention The Dwelling Place or Mo*Con when you book your room. Right now the rates are $199 + tax per night (two night minimum) full deposit required at time of booking (non-refundable after 5/28/07). If enough rooms are booked, the room rate will be discounted. We will also have a few spaces available at Chez Broaddus plus some members of our congregation are opening up their homes for some folks to stay at. They are going on a first come, first serve basis. If you have any questions, or need to be picked up from the airport, write your host at Maurice [at] MauriceBroaddus.com

Other confirmed guests include:
Wayne Allen Sallee, Steve Shrewsbury, Jason Sizemore, Debbie Kuhn, John C. Hay, Lawana Holland-Moore, Taylor Kent, Gary and Nancy Frank, Lauren David, Carrie Rapp, Tracy Jones, Steve Savile and Alethea Kontis. You can let me know if you are coming by leaving a note here.

Hosted by The Dwelling Place and the Indiana Horror Writers.

This page will be updated as more guests and details are confirmed.

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