Category Archives: The Chosen: Rebirthing

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Rant Alert: The Chosen Chronicles: Rebirthing Part 1

How do you sum up a creative journey over ten years long? I had just had to leave school and move back home because of finances when a job working for a church fell through. I was depressed, more than a little ticked off, and mostly just confused about how I felt towards religion in general, and Christianity in particular. That’s not to say that I blamed God, nor did I ever question my beliefs as far as God was concerned, but I was certainly questioning everything else. At the time I was in a funk both creatively and in my personal reading. Mark and I were in the middle of working on this sci-fi novel that ended up being scrapped, elements of which were used in You Only Die Twice. It was Mark’s turn to work on the novel so I sat down and decided I would just free write as a side project. I didn’t do an outline or plot anything out. I just sat down and started writing the kind of story that I would want to read at that specific time. About three days and seventy or so pages later I had the very rough draft of what would become The Chosen Chronicles: Rebirthing. It was a story about Heaven and Hell, the power of God and the Human spirit. It was about flawed individuals, belief, and the essence about what it meant to really “work for God”. It was a lot of stuff that I had boiling inside of me that just needed to get out. When I was done I sent it to Mark. He read  it over and said the last thing I was expecting- “This is the best thing you’ve ever written. This is inspired. I think this should be our first book.”

Now this surprised me for several reasons. First, I was surprised that Mark would be so willing to abandon the novel we’d been working on for almost a year so quickly. Second, at the time Mark had a lot of issues with religion. He’d had some bad experiences when he was younger with the church (I won’t go into specifics or start name dropping denominations) and I think it would be fair to say he was a bit bitter about it. Being the Holy-Rolling-Bible-Thumper I was at the time, we’d had our share of lively discussions on the subject up until that point, so to have Mark say that not only did he love what I’d written but that he wanted to help me make it into a real novel, it blew me away.

Well, it didn’t just become a novel- it became a whole series.  Over the course of the next decade we not only wrote the rough draft of the novel that you’ll hopefully be reading very soon, but we also mapped out a full trilogy of main novels, with several spin off novels, short stories, and concepts. It was our first real novel and we were being perfectionists with it (I lost count of how many versions and drafts we ended up with). It didn’t help that we had work, school, our personal lives, and over 1000 miles of distance between us to complicate things.

We finally had the thing done and Mark was going through and putting his final touches on the last few sections I’d written to end the novel when he died. Needless to say I was devastated and it took me a couple of years to get to the point where I could seriously work on the thing again. I had already shopped it around to tons of agents before, but once Mark died I decided that the best thing to do would be to self publish it. I was worried that if it did get picked up by a publisher they would want me to make changes. That’s to be expected. However, the book as it was is the version that Mark and I did together, and I didn’t want to make any major changes without him. I didn’t want to lose anything that he had written. My cousin Cathy volunteered to lend her expertise to editing it. Shawn, one of Mark’s closest friends in PA, and I had grown very close after Mark’s death, and he volunteered to help lend his artistic talents to help get the various projects Mark and I had worked on off the ground. As you can see from the image above and the last two “test books” we’ve put out in the last couple of months, he’s incredibly talented, and I’m incredibly lucky that he’s working with me.

The unedited version of the novel ended up clocking in at 128,789 words. That’s not too incredibly long for a fantasy novel, but when you’re doing it through print-on-demand a manuscript that long becomes incredibly expensive to publish in paperback (for those of you who like to rock it old school). So, we decided to break it up into two parts, the first of which will be available soon. The goal was to tell a story that anyone, regardless of their beliefs, could pick up and really enjoy. We made sure to have it test read by many different people with different religious backgrounds, genre preferences, ages, and so forth to help ensure that it could appeal to the widest audience possible. We wanted this to be our Star Wars, our Lord of the Rings, our Dune Chronicles. Hopefully we succeeded. Now it’ll be up to you to determine how well we did.

Since Mark is no longer with us, Shawn, Mark’s sister, and I decided that we wanted to do something special with what would have been his half of whatever profits any of the Chosen “products” make. We decided that the best thing to do would be to start a foundation in Mark’s name that helps up and coming writers and artists to achieve their goal of becoming a professional. It might mean we help provide art supplies for an art student, or a writer’s workshop for a wannabe author. We’re still working out the details as to how that will work, but 50% of whatever any “Chosen” product makes, along with 10% of everything else we put out, will go towards that foundation. I’ll let you know more details as soon as we get stuff nailed down. For now, I hope you’ll check out the first part of The Chosen Chronicles: Rebirthing, and let me know what you think. It will be released soon in both paperback and digital formats. As always, the digital version will be as affordable as we can make it. I’ll give you a specific release date soon. For now, here’s a short description:

There has been a war raging between Heaven and Hell for the fate of all creation, and the forces of Heaven are losing ground. The Enemy has discovered something that may tip the balance of the war in their favor, and now it’s up to Jude, the absentee leader of the warrior-priesthood known as the Chosen, and his new trainee Paul, to rally the disjointed forces of Heaven on Earth and find the source of this new threat. If they fail, it will mean that the forces of Hell will be free to run rampant across the Earth, ultimately leading to Armageddon and the end of all things.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, and the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, both available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about both books can be found here.

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Estimated Page Count…

Amazon’s estimated page count is killing me for the digital versions of the books. It’s showing 138 pages for You Only Die Twice. I promise you, it is a full-length novel. The paperback length is 238 pages. It’s on the shorter end, I know, but the idea was to do a quick, fun read, and I didn’t want to pad it out with crap just to get the page count up. When I write I try not to be concerned with page or word count, but just telling the best version of the story. As another example The Chosen Chronicles: Rebirthing is going to clock in over 600 pages in print, which is why I’m probably going to have to break it up into two parts. That’s just the length it ended up being to tell that first story.

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October Update

Shawn is hard at work on the cover for our first Clay Colt novel You Only Die Twice. I’ve seen the rough drafts and they are looking great. I can’t wait to see the final product. Our goal is to have the book ready for purchase next week both in digital and paperback. We do hope you’ll pick up a copy and check it out. The digital copy will be set for $2.99. We’re not entirely sure on the paperback price yet as we can’t get a quote until everything is finished. It’s determined on the price of production, which itself is determined by how long the book is, and I can’t get that quote until the cover is done and submitted. So yeah, there’s that fun little look into our process. I will tell you that I will keep it as close to the $5.50 price point (the same we charged for the last book) as I can. The digital price will always be cheaper simply because I find it ridiculous to charge you full retail price for something  that you can’t physically hold in your hands and I wish more authors and publishers would do the same. *cough*DC & Marvel*cough*

Following Colt comes the first Part of The Chosen Chronicles: Rebirthing, hopefully before Thanksgiving. This is a special book for us for many reasons, the largest of which because it was the first and only book co-written by our best friend Mark Ruelius before he died. Mark and I worked on Chosen for close to a decade, and he passed literally weeks before the final draft was finished. “Why did it take you so long?” you may ask. Well, first because when we started I was in college and Mark was still in High School. Second, because I lived in Tennessee and Mark lived in PA. Third, because the entire book was written through e-mail, instant messaging, texts, and phone calls. Yes, that’s correct, Mark and I never met in person, to my lasting regret. We were planning on getting together just before he died. Fourth, because we mapped out not just the storyline for one book, but for an entire universe which consisted of three full novels, several short stories, and a potential comic series- all of which you’ll, hopefully, be seeing in the upcoming few years. Rebirthing will be broken up into three parts because the final draft of the novel, in print, is over 600 pages long. Breaking it up makes it more cost effective, so we can sell it at an affordable price. Who want’s to pay $20 for a paperback? The goal is to release part 1 before Thanksgiving, followed by parts 2 and 3 by Christmas and New Year, respectively.

Early next year we hope to release Just Super, a novel about a young man who discovers that he has super powers but that they’re slowly killing him. He decides to hire a journalist to document his final 6 months as he tries to be the world’s first superhero and help people before he dies. I’m finishing up the last few chapters now.

We’re also hoping that we’ll have our first comic available sometime next year. It’ll be set in the same universe as The Chosen Chronicles and it’s a story Shawn and I are really excited about. I’ll talk more about that when we have some stuff we can show you.

Well, I’ve ranted long enough. Please keep your eye out for the release of You Only Die Twice this week, and as always feedback is most appreciated.

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Publishing Update

You Only Die Twice has been edited and is ready for publishing as soon as the cover is finished. The goal is to have both the digital and paperback versions available by October 1st. The Chosen Chronicles: Rebirthing, a project 10 years in the making, is finally at the finish line as well. The book was so long we had to break it up into three parts to keep costs down (and to make sure the paperback version wouldn’t fall apart in your hands.) The goal is to have part one out before Thanksgiving.

For those of you new to these parts, Chosen has been a project that Mark Ruelius and I started writing almost a decade ago. Unfortunately Mark lost his fight with diabetes and died at the age of 25 on January 7, 2010- two weeks before the final draft was complete. I struggled with the decision on how to move forward with it for a few years. Chosen is a difficult story to market. It doesn’t fall neatly into any one genre. The best way Mark and I knew to describe it is if Star Wars and Hellblazer had a baby, Chosen would be it.

It’s the story of the war between Heaven and Hell, and the balance of power on Earth that has to be maintained in order to prevent Armageddon from happening before it’s supposed to. The Chosen are a group of humans who were specifically designed by God to help maintain this balance, with the help of an intelligence network called the Faithful. The Chosen and Faithful have been working together since the Dark Ages, helping to keep the forces of Hell in check. At the beginning of Rebirthing the Chosen have been in disarray for a decade, and the forces of Hell have discovered something that, if they succeed in their plot, could tip the balance in their favor. Jude, the absentee leader of the Chosen, is tasked with protecting and training his replacement, reuniting the Chosen, and stopping this new threat if the forces of Heaven, and all of humanity, have any hope of surviving.

We thought about taking the traditional publishing rout with Chosen, but after Mark died I decided that self publishing would be the best way to go. I wanted to preserve the work Mark put into the book as much as possible, and that meant having complete control in how the final draft turned out without any outside influence from editors or publishers. Hopefully you will all enjoy the result.

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The Chosen: Rebirthing- Chapter 1


Chapter 1: When It Rains…

– Jude –

My palms were pressed together, cold and clammy from the mist that enshrouded me. Moisture clung to my bare scalp, beading into droplets that trickled down the back of my neck. The chill of the morning reached up through the earth and clawed at knees too old to do much else but ache. I wanted to shut it all out. I wanted to find an inner peace and make the connection. I wanted to clear away all the emotion, so that this time He would hear me. It was the reason I came here.

But I felt like an imposter. Trying not to be angry, or bitter, or even resentful at this point was like trying to stop the earth from spinning. Pretending I wasn’t every one of these hateful things only intensified all the negative impulses churning inside me. I wanted to yell at Him, rebuke Him for putting me through this. He knew it too – it’s what He does.

Does this make you happy?

I was shaking – slighted, cast-off, and then quite abruptly… not alone.

I sensed his presence before I saw Him, which is how it usually worked. That single moment of perfect stillness before the rain comes.

It had rained a lot this year.

I didn’t bother to turn around. “Let’s just get this over with. I got shit to do today.” I sighed and shook my head as I climbed from where I was kneeling at the headstone.

He chuckled, the deep baritone rolling through the empty churchyard like distant thunder. “Such hubris from one who is about to die!  May it be your epitaph: ‘Here Lies Jude – he had shit to do today.’ Most of the humans I’ve slain had enough sense to save their final words for a more fitting plea.”

“Yeah, well, we both know I’m not most humans.” I turned to face my would-be assassin and, despite my earlier bravado, I must admit I was slightly taken aback.

When most folks picture a demon, they tend to think of some hideous thing that makes you want to lose control of your bodily fluids, or perhaps a shadowy form that stalks and torments you in the night. Sometimes they do appear as such; but more often than not, evil is more deceptive than we care to admit. The really scary demons are every bit as beautiful as people imagine angels to be – they are angels, fallen angels, cast out by their Master centuries ago, but angels nonetheless.

This particular specimen standing before me was no exception. His physique was that of a Greek god, resplendent in white robes. All around him the air crackled and his skin shone with a brilliant yellow hue that made me want to shield my eyes from the glare. Here was an idealized warrior-angel, appearing as though he’d just emerged from a sixteenth-century fresco and brought with him a hateful malice millennia older than that. Rancor radiated from him in waves, pulsating through the graveyard in my direction, battering me with invisible blows. Staring into the crimson crescents of his eyes, I suddenly found a long-dormant part of myself wishing it had been one of those hideous, shadowy demons. A small nugget of fear gripped my gut as I beheld one of the Enemy’s top assassins.

This was The Executioner.

I snorted. “Alastor. Your boss must be gettin’ nervous if he sent someone like you after me.”

His feral grin was anything but warm as he drew his sword, its white blade singing as it parted from the scabbard at his side. I noted with a degree of satisfaction that he set his feet securely before casually waving his weapon towards the nearby chapel. He was expecting a fight.

“No one sent me. Only lost little sheep like you need a shepherd.” His grin became a smirk. “I guess Father never told you – you stray from the flock and you’ll welcome the wolves. Or maybe you’re just a poor instrument he’s cut from the fold.”

He was getting a fight.

I pasted on a smug smile and concentrated for a brief moment, begrudgingly allowing that familiar warmth of presence to flow over me. Like a hot drink on a cold day, I could feel it ooze down through my being. It spread down through my fingertips and, as it did, I felt my own fiery sword spring to life in my right hand. “If it ain’t the wolf callin’ the sheep black…”

He snarled and lunged. His body was a blur as he moved at what I could only call the ‘speed of thought’. If I were a normal man, his sword would have pinned my carcass to the turf before my eyes could even register the movement. Instead I snapped my blade up in time to knock aside his strike, our swords exploding in a shower of light as they collided. I went with the momentum of the swing, spinning around and backhanding him across the cheek. The impact echoed like a thunderclap and Alastor tumbled end over end, landing in a heap ten meters away.

He slowly got to his feet and massaged his jaw. “Very good. I was afraid that this would be ea–” His monologue halted with an unexpected click as my heel collided squarely with his jaw and sent him crashing through a granite rendering of an angel.

My sword flared and I beckoned him on. “For someone they call ‘The Executioner’, I’m not impressed.”

Ashamed of my initial fear, I chided him for not being able to kill me today. Even if life was the bitter pill I’d grown tired of swallowing, I knew on some level that taking the easy way out wasn’t the solution I was waiting for. Alastor can’t kill me, so I can’t die yet.

Bad for me…worse for him.

Circling cautiously, his blade always between us, I could feel him mentally revising his strategy, testing the possibilities of different cuts and thrusts. He had underestimated me before and likely thought to make sure he would not again.

But caution wouldn’t save him. He came in with a strike at my left, but instead of blocking it, I jumped and the sword swept underneath me. Kicking out, I caught him once again in the jaw, knocking him on his back and jarring the ivory weapon from his grip. As his hand desperately searched for the hilt I claimed it at the wrist; the charred scent of cauterized flesh filled my nostrils. His mouth was moving now – spitting invective or begging for mercy, I really couldn’t tell which with my boot planted firmly on his throat. He squirmed for a few futile moments as the flames from my sword licked at his flesh. I rolled my wrist, dropped to one knee as my sword plunged into his chest.

In an instant the fire from my blade engulfed his entire body. He convulsed in agony as a black chasm opened to suck him into the Void, the great emptiness where fallen spirits are sent until the day of final judgment. His screams faded as the portal closed, and I simply stared at the space where the vacuum had been. I sighed, realizing that I was once again alone in the churchyard as though the entire thing had never taken place.

No, not alone.

When it rains, it pours.

“Was that really necessary? Your speed and efficiency in dispatching one of the Enemy’s better assassins speaks well of your skill, certainly, but wrath is a deadly sin, boy.”

“Not for me, apparently.” I was already scowling as I glanced out of the corner of my eye to acknowledge the man emerging from the morning mist. He wore robes of white with golden sandals, but not the glowing kind like those of angels. This was no angel – this was another breed of hideous demon.

I stood and my sword disappeared in a puff of smoke, as though someone had thrown a bucket of water on it and quenched the flame – which wasn’t too far from the truth. “Spare me the sermon, Enoch. He came after me, not the other way around. If Father didn’t approve He wouldn’t have supplied the juice.” He opened his mouth to object, but I cut him off by stabbing at the center of his chest with my right index finger. “And don’t try and twist self-defense into some sort of altruistic rebirth for me. It wasn’t my choice to fight this one… or the dozen before that.”

The man nodded as he ran his right hand over his white bearded jaw, but his brow remained furrowed dubiously. There was always something condescending about him that made me feel childish and small. I guess, compared to him, I was. “Yes, I am sure. You’ve made your desires perfectly clear, which is why I’m here.”

“Oh really?” I didn’t try to hide the surprise on my face as I sank down onto the old stone bench next to me, a little more drained than I’d expected. “I didn’t think He was listenin’ to me anymore.”

“You know better than that.”

I shrugged. “Maybe I did, once. So, you here to take me home, then? I’m not much good to Him here anymore.” I nodded towards where Alastor had fallen moments before. “It’s been two hundred years of putting up with crap like that. I think I’ve earned my pension.”

Enoch shook his head. He must’ve read the annoyance in my expression because the muscles at the corners of his jaw bunched beneath his beard. “I am not here to take you home. At least, not yet.” He held up a hand and my protest died on my lips. I exhaled heavily through my nose, but remained silent. “He is well aware of your… present state, Jude, and whether you believe it or not, He does sympathize with you. He wants you to come home, as He does all of His children, but there are concerns greater than your own that must be attended. You will be granted your retreat, but first, you must prepare your replacement.”


Enoch nodded gravely. “His name is Paul. He is ready. He has grown strong and has already begun to question things, which is good. Given your current feelings on the subject, you will be able to relate to him the best.”

I laughed openly – and then twice as hard when I saw his confused expression. “That’s funny. I figured that given my ‘current feelings’ I would be the worst person for the job. I’m just as liable to scare him off.”

Enoch smiled – that self-righteous, knowing smile that always made me want to deck him. “It is the Lord’s will that you be the one to train him.” He shrugged. “Despite your current state, I’m sure that He has His reasons.”

“Heh, no doubt.” I waved absently. “Well, ‘the Lord’s will be done’ and all that.” I rose from the cold stone and glanced around the dank churchyard. “Anything, if it’ll get me out of this hellhole once and for all.”

Enoch’s voice was laced with sarcasm. “I’m glad to see that you have such a positive attitude. However, there is more you should know.” His tone hardened again. “There is evidence that the demon who came here for you this morning was actually part of a contingent whose mission was to find your successor before you did.”

I felt my insides freeze and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Hunts for Potentials were not unheard of, but hardly standard operating procedure for the demon hordes. I may have thought Alastor was a chump, but against a Potential he would’ve been overkill. If he was only one of a group, though…

Enoch nodded as though he’d read my expression. “Luckily, the fool you banished to the Void this morning was lured by the bigger target. His compatriots have been linked by the Faithful to a cult operating outside of the city. Find them… before they find Paul.” His eyes went wide for a moment and he seemed to look at something in the distance that I couldn’t see, then looked back at me. He was always doing that, which annoyed me even more than his damn smile. “You’d best be going. It looks as though your new pupil may need your help very soon.”

– Paul –

“I’m going to kill him.”

I was trying unsuccessfully to get my tie even, but the smaller part kept ending up longer and sticking out from the back.

Mary laughed and turned me toward her. “Here, let me.” She undid the tie and started over fresh, glancing up to meet my eyes as she did so. “And you know you shouldn’t be talking that way, Paul. He is the Pastor, and you did agree to serve under him when you came here. Besides, you were miserable before he swooped in and gave you this opportunity.”

I rolled my eyes. “I know. But that’s just it. It’s not like I had much of a choice. I felt like God was telling me something, pushing me to come here and serve under him, so I did. What was I going to say? ‘But God, this idiot is paddling in circles while I – a genius, mind you – am wasting my skills’? I know I’m capable of so much more, but He tells me not to rely on my past accomplishments with the Pastor…” I sighed and realized I was starting to rant, so I shrugged my shoulders. “So this is where He wants me to be? I’m stuck as this under-qualified jerk’s lackey, and I don’t know why.”

“I know why.” She made a show of rubbing her stomach and I felt some of the fight bleed out of me.

“I think that God felt it was time you started acting like a big boy. You are going to be a daddy soon and I don’t think I have the energy to baby-sit two kids.” I made a face and Mary gave me one of those knowing smiles that always bugged me. She tightened the tie a notch below excruciating before patting me on the chest. “But seriously, honey, maybe God just guided you here to humble you.”

“Gee, thanks.” I turned away, went to the sink, and started battling with my unruly black hair. The brush kept getting tangled and the frustration from that found a perfect mate in the sarcasm of my voice. “I appreciate the support, darling.”

Mary followed and wrapped her arms around my waist from behind. “Honey, all I’m saying is you’re such a talented person and, because things have come so easy for you, especially in your ministry work, maybe you’ve been coasting on your own steam. You got your first degree at what – like, ten, for crying out loud?”

“Actually, it was sixteen.”

“Well, soor-rryy Doogie. My point is that you’ve accomplished so much already that maybe the only way God can teach you some of the things He needs you to learn is to put you in a place where He can break you. Maybe God wants more of you than you want for yourself.”

I put down the brush and turned, taking Mary up in my arms. I smiled down at her and kissed her fully on the lips. As I ran my hands through her blonde hair, I relished the smooth sensation between my fingers and I felt all the tension in my soul subside. I kept my forehead pressed against hers and whispered, “Maybe you’re right.”

She bit her lower lip, then returned my smile with a dazzling grin that sent a jolt through me from head to toe. I could only pray that God blessed our child with her looks and good sense. “That’s what I’m here for, honey. I know this hasn’t been easy for you, but you’ve got to have faith. I have a feeling that something big is about to happen, and God is going to do something great for all our lives.”

The Chosen: Rebirthing Part One- Available in paperback and for Amazon Kindle

© 2009-2012 J.R. Broadwater & Mark Ruelius

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