The Cave [A Passover Story}

Monday, April 4, 2016 12:26 PM By crosswaysnet , In

The boy introduced himself to the blacksmith.
“’God Saves,’ huh? Well He can save us from the Prefect then. Please - Go right ahead. Look around all you want. You won’t find much after Rufus’ goons made off with everything. And I’ll be gone all day working off this tax bill.”
The grizzled man pulled a few Tiberius coins from a pouch behind his belt, spalled and speckled with burns from countless hours behind the anvil. Before he handed them over to the deliveryman, he faked a sneeze. Yeshua clearly saw him spit on the image of the Emperor. The teen handed over the reins to the rented cart and mule; even helped to load some of the beastly heavy boxes into the bed. The load of spikes, nails and shoes clanged loudly as they landed, as much from the anger of the blacksmith as the shifting bed of the cart. The mule began to protest.

A Star in the Sky [a Christmas Story]

Thursday, January 7, 2016 9:42 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Cyrus leaned back on the throne of Babylon as the words swirled in his mind. The scribes record he ‘inclined his face to the heavens as in transport.’ All the satraps and diviners, the wise men and captured princes stood at nervous attention, while the old prophet of the Jews noisily rolled up the old scroll and returned it to its ornate ark. The lid lowered and the hasp swung closed. All seemed to hold their breath.

"6 Word Story" Submission

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 10:33 PM By crosswaysnet , In ,

"Waste not - want not." Did not.


Saturday, April 4, 2015 11:13 PM By crosswaysnet , In , ,

“Ta, ta, ta, teh, teh, teh….”

The misshapen mass in front of him stuttered and shuddered. As far as he could tell, that is. This cloying darkness swallowed everything. Even his sanity, it would seem. How could it be THIS dark at THIS hour? The sun should be halfway to the horizon putting these jagged beams in stark relief. Now, nothing. 

Yet somehow… that red. Was it even a man, anymore? More a crimson tumor - reaching… Where? No one was coming to save him.  Like a child, he had screamed for his daddy. Then…

The fear.

The Black.

The man could barely keep his head up against the weight of this. His men had already taken a knee and were rattling their helmets to clear their heads.

“Teh, teh, teh…” 

It was more rasp than word.

Your Story #55 Submission

Thursday, February 13, 2014 10:10 AM By crosswaysnet , In

Prompt: Write the opening sentence (25 words or fewer) to a story based on the photo above.
“The first to fall was a 14 year-old redhead from Waukesha, her left nostril trickling and the convulsions crumpling the hand-made “LOVE YOU, JUSTIN!!” poster.”

All Wet

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 11:11 AM By crosswaysnet , In

WRITER'S DIGEST "Your Story #54" Competition entry
Prompt: Write the opening sentence (25 words or fewer) to a story based on the photo above.

Your whisper slayed me and you did as you promised, leaving her at the altar -- so I waited for you till the tide came in.

The Hunt

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 3:45 PM By crosswaysnet , In ,

WRITER'S DIGEST "Your Story #52" Competition entry
Prompt: Write the opening sentence (25 words or fewer) to a story based on the photo above.

"With their eyes on the prize, he fingered the axe knowing he had a choice to make: The best Christmas tree, or they disappear forever..."

Flip for it

Monday, July 8, 2013 3:44 PM By crosswaysnet , In

WRITERS DIGEST "Your Story Competition #51.

Prompt: Write a short story, of 750 words or fewer, that begins with the following line of dialogue: “Heads, we get married; tails, we break up.”


Heads, we get married; tails, we break up.”

Bill observed the silver dollar through rheumy eyes. The 1899 Lady L stared blankly off to his left, betraying none of her feelings. The only hint, her lips - slightly taciturn, maybe disapproving. Still, she didn't argue or object. A stoic, unwilling to face him. A face that would decide Bill's fate, whether she cared or not.

The skirt across the table from him was much more lively. Practically dancing in anticipation of the answer. A betting soul, sure to win.

Memorial Day

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 10:53 AM By crosswaysnet , In

NPR Three-Minute Fiction 50 Word Challenge: "Memorial Day"

She sips her juice box while her father faces the wall. Her hand holds a black crayon and slightly crumpled rubbing. 

The man traces the 'R' of a name the little girl has never known. A name Gommy hasn't used in 40 years. He stays. They head for the statue.

Writer's Digest Contest April, 2013

Friday, April 5, 2013 9:19 AM By crosswaysnet , In

[Prompt: Write the opening sentence (25 words or fewer) to a story based on the photo above...]

"His depth perception was failing, or the sky was literally falling - either way he wanted answers and he wanted them NOW..."

Good Friday

Friday, March 29, 2013 12:56 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Bending, submitting
Falls to a breaking, shattering
Hope crushed, mingled with a serpent's blood

A gaping maw devours
Gnashing, hellish teeth throw sparks
A sea of black smooths over the hole

A rain of darkness descends
A reign of darkness ascends
And those left above the sea are drowning

Writer's Digest Contest February, 2013

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 2:21 PM By crosswaysnet , In

[Prompt: Write the opening sentence (25 words or fewer) to a story based on the photo above...]

"Ripples of Scarlet and alabaster shimmered before him as he lowered the gun slowly to his waist."


1:53 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Writer's Digest Short Story Contest Entry, 2013

The man froze in his tracks. His weren’t the only ones pressed into the fresh fall of snow. A scuffling trail of sneakers - a child’s sized 7 - led from his front door, between his own, turning left down the sidewalk.

He panicked, dropping the shopping bag, splitting the milk jug and soaking the newspaper and paper bag of fresh-ground coffee. The cherry twizzler hung limp from his lips, an indecisive weathervane in the still air.


Sunday, February 3, 2013 7:42 AM By crosswaysnet , In

2013 "Beat the Clock" Contest Entry -


Lucy reached forward to poke her finger through, thinking that maybe she could see better. Jimmy yanked his four year old sister’s hand away from the door.

“Don’t do that!” he hissed. “Be quiet - and still.”

Auspicious Beginnings...

Friday, February 1, 2013 3:36 PM By crosswaysnet , In , ,

The challenge: Create a new genre - "Cozy Apocalypse Mysteries"

Take One...

Translation - Chapter 13

Tuesday, September 4, 2012 4:33 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Chapter 13 (Sunday, 3:30PM - Canyon West, TX)

Mitch finds himself back at The Colpoys home. He writes down what he knows up to this point and the spirtual counsel he gains in La Grange. C.R. & Sylvia arrive home after an emergency cell group leaders meeting. They are disturbed about what they hear. There has been a tragedy in the Pastor's household. Together they start investigating Mitch's suspicions. Mitch takes a walk to decompress a bit. He meets people that induce flashbacks from his subconscious. A geocacher leaves Mitch with a thought that continues to nag him - 'when you find something in the box you take it and replace it with something else.'

The carpet wasn't as hard as Mitch expected. In fact, much more plush. The room had suddenly grown quiet, hushed. Mitch raised his head from between his hands to see what the quiet was all about. He saw a bedspread. It was the guest bedroom of the Colpoys house and he was lying on the floor. His fists dug into the thick pile of the carpet as he slowly pulled in a deep breath. He closed his eyes again. He focused on the soft hum of the old, 80's bed-side digital clock above his head to the left; the even softer scent of some non-descript Glade plugin. Mitch finally rose to his feet deliberately, the cheap faux leather of his new belt squeaking as he straightened himself out. He looked down at the outfit. The cheap tie was beginning to choke. He sat on the edge of the bed and stared at his new shoes, trying to make sense of the past 10 minutes. Then he thought about the past 18 hours.

The Submission

Saturday, August 18, 2012 2:22 PM By crosswaysnet , In

She refused to open her eyes, hitting the snooze for the third time. Her plan to not move was trumped by her bladder. With a groan she swung her feet to touch the cool oak boards, still slick from her 7th waxing this week.
Before the panic attack could begin, her cellphone erupted with the bridge to ‘Imagine’. She glimpsed the caller id through bleary eyes and reached for the disconnect. Her numb middle finger hit the ‘speakerphone’ button instead.
Without waiting a beat the voice blared out at her – “Have you seen yet?? Have you heard?? I can’t login for another hour!! Finalists ONLY until 8am. WHAT’s HAPPENING???”
She gathered a breath to push her raw vocal chords. So sore. When had she stopped cleaning and started crying? When had she stopped crying and pushed her dry sobs into her pillow? An hour ago, maybe?…
“Uh… no. I haven’t looked.”
“WHY THE HECK NOT?? This is it, Sylvie! THE BIG TIME!! Get to it PRONTO, girl! And call me first, of course!!”
“Shower first, Sis.”
“Well make it short! I wanna know whatchergonna do if you WIN!”
“Yeah,” Sylvie answered flatly; vacantly. She carefully pressed the ‘end’ key. She thought for a moment, then removed the battery and laid the pieces neatly next to each other, perpendicular to the edge of the nightstand, of course. She proceeded with the bedmaking and four-corner inspection. The tape measure was still in the kitchen where she didn’t dare go… yet. She found a bookmark to compare the length of the gap from quilt to floor. She headed for the bedroom door.
A sudden jolt stopped her before she crossed the threshold. Did I mop the hallway yesterday or not?She did a thorough mental inventory of her actions the last 24 hours. Kitchen? All surfaces, four times. Living room? check. Bathroom? only twice – vermin risk. But the hallway floor?
Sylvie ran the inventory three more times – not a single instance of proper cleaning came to mind. Was I that distracted?Dread overtook the panic. Do I even have safe shoes in this room?She scrambled around the bedroom looking for the ‘good’ slippers, smooth soles, easily disinfected. Nowhere. Where are they?She did the inventory one more time. The tears welled up as she recalled cleaning them in a metal tray before the kitchen mastered her will. They were still sitting in the pan on the floor of the pantry – on the cleaners side, opposite any packaged food they might contaminate. The first drop fell from her lip as it quivered, hitting the floor. Now this room needs decontamination!
In desperation, she skidded along on the rug by her changing table and shuffled down the hallway toward the bathroom. She passed her office nook, looming in dimness to the right. The disinfecting spray and one-use cloths sat next to the keyboard, just as she’d placed them at the end of her kitchen frenzy. The screen saver of mountain springs dissolved to another picture of high-elevation glacier runoff. Her sister had thought it would settle her nerves before her writing sessions began. All it ever did was remind Sylvie to double-filter the bottled water before placing it in the sealed container and on the disinfectant wipe in the fridge.
As was the rule, she could not approach the computing machine until she was thoroughly and ritually clean. Every body surface times two scrubs, then disinfecting wipes then soaps and shampoos. Sylvie left the shower more raw than usual as she lifted the second towel down in the stack to dry herself. Then the one – and only – look into the mirrorShe refused to look closely at the eyes.
She dressed in her morning whites, slowly placing her second set of slippers on her feet. Rising from the bathtub edge she faced the hallway again. No morning light to brighten the path. Darker grays mottled the way as thunder clouds plodded across the sky.
Dead man walking. Just make it to the kitchen and brew the tea…
Sylvie’s robe brushed the office chair as she passed her computer, touching the mouse cord. The screen saver dropped and her inbox flashed to her left. Contest Winners Announcement!stared back from the top line. Sylvie froze. A strange, uncontrollable mix of dread and anger seized her. If Susan hadn’t sent the manuscript without her permission this never would have happened. All the years of ‘you’re the best writer I’ve ever read’ and ‘you NEED to let someone read this!’ and ‘if you don’t let me take this to an agent you’re going to drive ME crazy’… it all came crashing down on Sylvie’s brain. She grabbed the disinfectant and sprayed the mouse. She clicked the link firmly enough to break the button.
‘Dear Miss Anton,
‘I cannot thank you enough for the opportunity to review your work. Out of the thousands of first-time author submissions, yours rose to the top. And now our editorial board and guest judges have had the unenviable task of selecting the winner of this year’s Breakout Novelist Award. All six of our finalists will undoubtedly attract much attention from agents and publishers the world over.
‘But in your case, let me be the first to say what others are sure to repeat – your work Coming Outstands apart. Compelling, haunting and deeply moving, it is our choice for Grand Prize. Documents will arrive this morning by courier to explain the next steps in the awards process. Pack your bags, Sylvie! You’re about to see the world as a renowned and high-awarded PUBLISHED author!!
‘With sincerest congratulations,

‘Mildred Van Self
Oceans Publishing Group
London – Johannesburg – New York – Sydney’
Sylvie drew a breath. The first since clicking the mouse. She expected she might burst into tears. But she was calm. She continued to the kitchen, considered the teapot then looked up. She mounted the stool, fixed the knot and kicked out the leg.

The Shot

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 11:58 AM By crosswaysnet , In

(Drabble contest entry -

The boy stares at the eye as it stops seeing him. A frozen gaze that freezes the moment. He holds his breath by instinct. The weight seems to grow in his hand. His other drops the slingshot to the grass below. He feels a slight tap on his sneaker. A single red drop spreads to a stain on his shoelace.

I did this.

A twitch in his palm; a rustle of feathers. The dove jerks and rolls over. Will it fly? A nail scratches his wrist, drawing a drop of his own.

A noise closes from behind. “Good shot, son!"

The Drawer

11:51 AM By crosswaysnet , In

(Drabble contest entry,

The bathroom door ajar. Slowly he crosses the threshold. Only the tick of the grandfather clock in the hall. Odd shadows behind the shower curtain. He pulls it aside. A smear of blood down the tile to the body of his wife. Throat slashed. She’d threatened it - she’d ruin him at any cost. But how? He stumbles back to the bedroom; an overwhelming need for a drink. Frantic for the hidden bottle, he throws open the sock drawer. Cash missing. Reaching deep, his hand hits something cold and wet. He lifts a bloody knife. It’s not mine! 

“Freeze! Police!”

The Devil's Wife

11:48 AM By crosswaysnet , In

(Drabble contest entry -

Dirt and sky. She looks up as the shadow passes. Her whole life has been a shadow. Now the late afternoon sun returns as a delayed rain pelts her forehead. The devil’s beating his wife.

“Well, now he’s got someone else to beat,” she says bitterly. “This devil’s done with his beatings. I’m free.”

The rain hardens, threatening hail. The trickle down her arm creates a streak of brown between her fingers. She opens her palm and stares at the wettened soil. She lets the rain wash it into the gaping maw before her. Splatters thump the plain casket below.

The Kiss

Thursday, July 5, 2012 3:42 PM By crosswaysnet , In

The blurred light grew. The man felt his eyelid open slowly, tentatively. He was floating - on what he could not be sure. Something below and within stirred, expanding. A sound - a slow wind - sounded around him. 'Within' continued to rise. A soft click murmured and 'within' began to deflate. 

It's my body…

The man listened keenly to the sound of, what, exactly? Air - flowing from his lungs. It seemed to go on forever. Then, another soft click. 'Within' began to rise, again.

I'm alive… Why?

Why wouldn't you be?

Because, I…

The man searched for an answer. None came. And it didn't come ever… so… slowly. Each click echoed down a long tunnel to his mind's ear. Each moment rushed and lingered for an eternity at the same time.

Where am I?

Unrepentant Surrender

Sunday, January 22, 2012 6:39 PM By crosswaysnet , In ,

On the passing of J. Keith Miller...
Keith Miller has been tapping energy for 60 years. Today he tapped into the mother lode. He went Home this afternoon at the age of 84 in the arms of his wife, Andrea, and at the insistence of an enemy - pancreatic cancer. He died faithful, and in the only kind of faith he believed worthy - Expectant. He pursued a surrendered life with a maddening obsession at times. He expected God to meet him when he did. He chased after God passionately, sloppily, even in anger. And he journaled his failures. Later in my own life, I came to understand how merciful God is to me by watching Keith crawl back to the foot of the cross after some spectacular personal crises.  Expectant faith is desperate. It was the only kind he ever seemed to live. It is the only kind that matters. When it came to surrender, Keith was adamant and unrepentant. It shows in his final blog entries.

Once upon a time, Keith drilled the earth of Texas and Oklahoma looking for his meaning as a man. As an unsettled, lonely and driven member of the 'Greatest Generation' he doggedly pursued wealth and the American dream across the American South as an entrepreneur in Oil Exploration. He worked for the biggest names in Energy and launched a number of successful related businesses.

By the late 50s, he was on his way to the top. And he found it profoundly meaningless...

The Appointment

Monday, September 19, 2011 9:21 PM By crosswaysnet , In

- Bookrix 2012 Flash Fiction 3rd Place Award!

- NPR Weekend Edition "Three Minute Fiction"  Submission, Round 7 -
(Prompt: Submissions must have a character come to town and someone leave town. Each piece of writing has to be read in less than three minutes, so no longer than 600 words.
More info at:

Here's a link to the NPR Round 7 Winners program:

“Jack, did you say? You're probably asking for me. John Wilson. Right there – line number 7. What's that? No, sorry, don't know him. Not personally, anyway. He disappeared about 6 months ago, from what I've heard. The same day I arrived in town, as a matter of fact.

“I look a lot like him? Yeah, I get that a lot. That gets pretty annoying sometimes, let me tell you! By all accounts he was a loser. How do I know? I looked into it a bit. He had the same dead-end job for 25 years. Nervous, hypertensive type. Didn't have many friends. And those he did have were anchored to the same row of barstools every night.

Falling Forward - 9/11/11

Sunday, September 11, 2011 7:27 AM By crosswaysnet , In ,

Pillars of Smoke and Fire
Unprepared sacrifices seized
Thrown on raging altars
An offering undemanded
Souls unwilling hurled Heavenward

Our Standard and Shield
Pierced by fresh transgression
The perimeter torn and ragged
A fiery incursion
The general's tent aflame

The Union soil bereft
Bears the final hammer blow
Travelers in a moment warriors
Stop assaults at rolling ramparts
The wound a field of heroes

A battleground around, within
Nowhere to turn from sorrow
A 'we' deformed, defined by mourning
A generation born of widows
Ten years witness - still the silence thunders


Monday, August 29, 2011 3:09 PM By crosswaysnet , In

The flesh under the hole in Akil’s shirt was burning. Literally. He rolled to the ground to smother the phosphorus ember. He ripped off the night-vision goggles and blinked hard from the flash and now the total darkness. 

“Ten, Akil. You have ten seconds. Get to the trigger.”

The voice crackled in his right ear. The one that could still hear. He still couldn’t see.

“Eight... Seven...”

Akil could make out a green blur next to his face. The goggles were blinking back to life. He grabbed them and held them to his face with his bleeding left hand.  He swung up his head to see the green blaze of gases still heating the atmosphere around him.


There. The trigger. The switch to end it all. Still mounted on the fake mailbox. One of seven placed among the districts of Gaza and the West Bank. Yawm al-Qiyāmah has come. Al Dajaal almost deceived them all. The self-proclaimed peacemaker had united Palestine. Made Peace with the infidel. And what did it bring? This. Surely he had to die. It had been spectacular. The Sons of Mercy had dealt the blow as the devil signed away their destiny. His blood for the blood his pen would spill. Alas, it mingled with the blood of the Israeli devil. One bullet; two hearts. Not intended, but a fitting end to the both of them.


Death Mocks Her

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 1:25 PM By crosswaysnet , In

"Doom am I, full-ripe, dealing death to the worlds, engaged in devouring mankind." Lord Krishna

For two cycles now, Katniss Everdeen has stared straight into the maw of death… and let it consume her. There's only a shell left, yet this irrepressible teen has become immortal by becoming the dealer of death. "I’m running on hate. When the energy for that ebbs, I’ll be worthless," she groans. At first she had to kill to survive. Now she must hate and kill to survive. What kind of survival is this? It's not. And to think, all she ever wanted was to settle down and spend her years angst-ing over which high school crush to marry. Well, dear soul-weary reader, if you've persevered with her this far (and millions have) there's no choice but to see her through until she flames out and rises from the ashes.

Twice Around the Sun

Saturday, August 13, 2011 12:00 AM By crosswaysnet , In ,

Today my new morning dawns
I am alive to see it.
A hazy white above
A summer's burn below
Wisps of coffee steam
Now rise within my grasp

The Island of Misfit Troikas

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 10:21 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Katniss Everdeen has a problem. Everyone who admires her wants her dead. Everyone who loves her soon will be. So what's a girl to do? Fight like Hell. It's all fatalist frustration, because she just can't seem to die. And it's not for lack of trying.  She's determined to see her one and almost love survive another round of sporting mayhem if it kills her. Unfortunately, it doesn't.

The Hunger Games have become the Hungrier Games. The unprecedented happens. The victors of previous Hunger Games must square off to appease the Hunger Gods one more time as they luxuriate in their plush vomitoriums. They're getting dyspeptic and a tickling feather won't help. Rebellion is ravaging the slave districts like a cruise ship virus. And it's putting a dent in the Capitol's menu. Used to satiating every gluttonous pang, the grumbling of a million starving bellies has become an annoyance that surround sound and 3d special effects can't drone out.

Darker by Day

Monday, May 16, 2011 12:45 AM By crosswaysnet , In ,

Welcome to the Heart of Darkness. Only this darkness has no heart. It's lit with high-watt tungsten - camera ready. It comes with a cast of thousands, and thousands more to do their hair, nails and wardrobe. Live from the Capitol! It's Running Man 24/7 on every network!! You can't miss it! By law you may not avert your eyes. Let the killing of children begin! Better yet - we'll have the children do the killing!!

The most sinister Stephen King novels are set in broad daylight. The Twilight Zone episodes that linger in your mind for years were more 'zone' than 'twilight.' So it is with The Hunger Games. Yet this is no allegory or cautionary tale - at least not in a way accessible to young minds. In the adrenaline-doused diary of Katniss Everdeen, it's a present progressive universe. More unrelenting than urgent. We're stuck in the unending infinitive. How else is a teen girl to document her own demise? the world she observes is all objects to her gerunds. She's 16 years old and there's nothing sweet about it. It's all acid, bile, blood and burning. She's the noble savage and coy flirt. Sounds a lot like High School. The only relief is a twitching retreat into your own troubled dreams.

The Nail

Saturday, April 23, 2011 2:19 AM By crosswaysnet , In , ,

The man pushed up against the nail as long as he could stand the pain, pressing the palm of his foot more firmly into the splinters of rough wood behind it. His calves burned. God how they burned. His chest leapt to force in the air one last time before collapsing along with his knees. The burning began anew in his wrists.



“Where’s Joshua?” His mother asked, handing the sack filled with lunch to her husband.

“Down at the shop. Why?”

Joseph stooped to grab the sack and sneak a peck on Mary’s cheek.

“You left him there with your tools out? He’s seven years old!” There was a little alarm and scolding in her voice.

“Really? You’re worried? Has he ever climbed up and grabbed a tool without permission? Come, woman.  Your son’s practically Noah in his obedience. He’s in one of those trances of his, anyway, studying something new on the bench.”

“What is it this time?” She asked.

“A nail,” he replied. “The Legate wants that Roman-style table done by Shabbat.” Most of his work was done the traditional way, but this official wanted his table built in the Roman way, slammed together with iron pins. They had fascinated Joshua. Perhaps he’d never seen them before.

What's so 'Good' about 'Good Friday?'

Friday, April 22, 2011 10:04 AM By crosswaysnet , In ,

"...always be in a state of readiness to be surprised by God. Why not, since He is everywhere, and our inability to see Him is more a factor of our not seeking Him than anything?"   John Fischer

"Then Jesus said "When you should be exalting Me, you will 'lift Me up' instead. Only then will your hearts be pricked enough to admit that I am the One; that I do nothing out of selfish ambition; that I simply brought the God-breathed Truth to you."   John 8:28 TDG

God's intention, plan and action are always genuine surprises. Is it any wonder? He is so unlike us in so many fundamental ways. Yet His surprises are always good . Not of the 'pleasant happenstance' kind - but rather of the world-shattering, foundation-shifting, terrible, heart-crushing, beautiful holy sort.

On Good Friday God executed judgment on Sin once for all, meting out on His own flesh the penalty of all. He experienced death. He became fully human. With all its loneliness, guilt, shame and despair.


And forever.

Surprising, isn't it?

The Shepherd

Saturday, December 25, 2010 6:17 PM By crosswaysnet , In , ,

Simeon's jaw ached. It did that a lot now. Especially since the weather had turned. He pressed the tip of his tongue into the socket where his eye tooth was missing. It pushed out the scar on the lip above, beginning another dull pain.

Simeon felt a lot older than his 20 years. He shifted to his side to give his hip a rest. David played his harp to keep his mind off this hind side, he supposed. The tumbling hills below Bethlehem were certainly no more comfortable in David's day.

Trail of Tears

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 2:51 PM By crosswaysnet , In ,

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here...

On first read, 'The Road' is all ending with no beginning. The world has long since descended into madness. Nature has abdicated. Abbadon has cleaned the table and cashed in his chips. The universe has shrunk to the flickering flame of one father and his only son. Unable to separate his identity from his only remaining responsibility, The man sets off to the South and his rendezvous with oblivion. As long as he moves the long scythe cannot take its final swing. Yet he knows he must prepare his son for the inevitable, one bleeding cough at time. Their language is sparse, poetry, but only of the free verse kind. It's the visual language of full-faced tenderness that is the world's final sonnet. They profess love till there is no breath left to bear the words. We've reached the endless sea.

Islamaphobic America?

Sunday, August 29, 2010 9:29 PM By crosswaysnet , In

This is just too fine a piece to not reprint:

Islamophobic America?
Gary M. Burge, Ph.D., Professor of New Testament, Wheaton College.
Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding (EMEU) Advisory Board

Are we all becoming – as Time Magazine suggests (Aug 30, 2010) – Islamophobic? According to one of their recent polls, 46% of us believe that Islam is more likely than other faiths to inspire violence against nonbelievers. 34% of us don’t want a Mosque in the neighborhood. According to an August 19 Washington Post poll, 30% of conservative Republicans who dislike Obama claim that he is a Muslim. Is “Muslim” the new political slur?
I’ve just returned from two Muslim countries in the Middle East. And as exposure goes, I’ve probably worked alongside more Muslims than I ever expected I would. I’m in the Middle East at least once each year, usually visiting multiple countries. I belong to an “Evangelical-Muslim” discussion group which meets annually and hosts 30 scholars from each side for 3 days of interfaith discussion. These are pious, brilliant, generous Muslim scholars whom I count as my friends. And when a topic like “Islamophobic America” comes up, I share intense personal emails with them.

The Lovely Bones

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 12:15 PM By crosswaysnet , In ,

This movie has been savaged by the well-meaning and those who don't know well what they mean.

What are 'the Lovely Bones?' Ah, now the answer to that will take a fair viewing to sort out. And the closing paragraphs from the lips of Susie Salmon will mean nothing to the viewer without the story that precedes it.

What of all the talk of Heaven? There is no Heaven here - just the longing for one. We peek over the rim from Neverland at the very end, but since we're not supposed to go there, we're not allowed more than a glaring obscurity. Some criticize the imagination of Peter Jackson for bringing us a techno-color CandyLand, all sugary sweetness and no nourishment. But that complaint completely misses his genius. This is Susie Salmon's time of bright shadows, not Peter's. Ripped from a world of polyester, psychedelic daisies and David Cassidy posters, we're entering a very different inner world than our 'today.' It's one of a 14-year-old young lady of the 1970s. It is groovy and timeless. Yet the horrors that preceded it bust in with alarming rudeness proving this is no Nirvana. Just when we've grown accustomed to this playground and think it will resolve, it crumbles to dust. As it must. It was never meant to be something of substance. Susie's looking glass is the quick blog of a soul beginning a much larger adventure. A tweet from the unending song.

Lost:The End - Much ado about NOTHING...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010 1:57 PM By crosswaysnet , In ,


What Would Jack Do, that is. And that's what LOST comes down to.

The Finale was 'emotionally rewarding' to some and a 'total bust' to others. How can it be both? It depends on what you expected.

Most of us surmised all along that LOST was some kind of quasi purgatory. The Finale certainly confirmed that guess with a heavy dose of 'quasi.' Many presumed that the 'purgatory' theme meant that the series would eventually take on a more overt Christian bent, after wading through a morass of New Agey mysticism.   But purgatory is not Christian theology and is found nowhere in the Scriptures. It was invented to gloss over the 'troubling' aspects of redemption doctrine and speak into those places the Logos chose to remain silent. The Gospel is indeed steeped in paradox. God as man and distinct from the Father and Spirit, for one. That God as Man could die, for another.  That a virgin should give birth to the One who created her. That he who loves his life will lose it. It goes on and on. Some are stronger contrasts than others, yet the parlor of Christian faith is richly papered with them.

Translation-Chapter 12

Thursday, May 13, 2010 8:42 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Chapter 12 (Sunday, 11:30AM - La Grange, TX)

Somewhere outside San Antonio, a meeting takes place between a powerful businessman and his lieutenants. He expresses his anger at a 'situation' that is getting out of hand.

Simultaneously, Mitch seeks out the pastor and elders of the Living Way Church, asking them to pray over him. After a Sunday dinner at the pastor's house, prophecy is spoken and words of knowledge affirm Mitch's prayers for clarity and guidance. Mitch is translated during prayer and laying on of hands.

Translation-Chapter 11

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 8:40 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Chapter 11 (Sunday, 9:30AM - La Grange, TX)

After a makeshift breakfast, Mitch parts ways with the immigrants. He finds himself walking along another desolate stretch of highway. Dialogues with himself about what has been happening to him. Prays for understanding.

The road blends into the heartland Texas town of La Grand. Mitch steps into a Black pentecostal church for the service. The preaching is from Acts 8 and the story of Philip's 'translation' to meet the Eunuch along the Gaza road. The sermon convinces Mitch he's not crazy but he still feels lost.

Translation-Chapter 10

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 8:39 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Chapter 10 (Sunday, 2AM - Rio Grande, near Quintano, TX):

Mitch sees a group of illegal immigrants ready to cross the river. Another group prepares to ford the river, looking far more dangerous. Young, muscular and not speaking Spanish. Mitch tracks them after their coyote deposits them by the river. Soon one of the men is swept away by the current. Mitch instinctively rushes to rescue the man. He's stopped by the cries of another victim of the current - a young Mexican boy. Mitch has to make a choice. He ends up spending the night in a makeshift camp of the immigrants.

Translation-Chapter 9

Monday, May 10, 2010 8:37 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Chapter 9 (Saturday, 12AM - I35, Canyon West/South of Austin, TX):

Sylvia Colpoys was somewhere buying the finest pair of shoes she had ever seen. They fit marvelously. They flattered her legs. There was only one pair left. Best of all, they were on sale. It was a marvelous moment and it was being ruined by someone - her husband - jabbing her ribs with his elbow. Leave me alone, she thought. I haven't bought these yet.

Translation-Chapter 8

Sunday, May 9, 2010 8:27 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Chapter 8 (Saturday, 10PM - Oak River Fellowship Distribution Center, New Kassel, TX):

Mitch finds himself transported to the darkened warehouse of the relief ministry his wife used to administrate. A security guard stumbles onto some sort of illegal activity and is abducted. Mitch sneaks into the departing truck and frees the captive at a weigh station. Mitch gives him the cash in his wallet and warns him to hide with his family for at least a week. Left alone on a dark stretch of highway, Mitch asks "Where next?"

Translation-Chapter 7

Saturday, May 8, 2010 8:26 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Chapter 7 (Saturday, 3:30PM - enroute to Canyon West, TX):

C.R. pulled out onto the feeder road and came to a halt at the temporary stop sign. The construction signalman waved him into a left turn over the half-completed bridge. Between the traffic, the construction, and the back end of a slow-moving train just clearing the nearby crossing, it took them five minutes just to get across the Interstate. By the time they were beginning to move again, Mitch had finished his lunch, crumpled up the sack and stuffed it on the floor below his seat. He couldn't remember feeling that hungry in a long time.

Translation-Chapter 6

Friday, May 7, 2010 8:25 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Chapter 6 (Saturday, 2:30PM - south of Austin, TX):

Jalapeno Hunger-Buster Meal Deal, $3.99. Today only...
It's what the sign said.
C.R. Colpoys was staring at it intensely - or maybe his eyes were just boring a hole right through the marquee into outer space somewhere. Mitch couldn't tell. He was pushing himself into a sitting position, rubbing the stiff out of his neck. He moved his hand to the dull pain in his left rib where the seat belt had just been removed. It was almost as throbbing as the top of his forehead, which he touched more tenderly.

Translation-Chapter 5

Thursday, May 6, 2010 8:23 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Chapter 5 (Saturday, 12:30PM - Canyon West, TX):

It was time to take a long, deep breath.
Mitch sat back hard on the ground and attempted that very thing. His lungs ached and his throat felt raw. He hadn't noticed either of these things till that moment. He lifted his head enough to see the devastation around him. It was black for a hundred yards around a crater that hadn't been there an hour ago. Two fire engines had doused all the flames. Only a few patches of smoldering grass suggested there had been fire. That and the charred smell which filled Mitch's nostrils. It wasn't a natural, campfire smell. It was oily; noxious; carbon.

Translation-Chapter 4

Wednesday, May 5, 2010 8:20 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Chapter 4 (Saturday, mid-day, Canyon West, TX):

The big truck lumbered its way up the caliche drive, through old iron gates, painted many times over the years and set on rough-cut limestone pediments. A narrow road wound around the cemetery leaving barely enough room for the double back axle to maneuver without displacing edge stones. Two hundred year old oaks stood separate from each other, shading the tough Texas turf in places. The oldest monuments stood in the center behind short wrought iron fences, large hand-chiseled engravings giving testament to the hard life and early deaths of settlers. Many of the dates went back to before the Civil War.

Translation-Chapter 3

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 8:18 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Chapter 3 (Saturday Morning - Rio Claro, TX):

Blanco County, 4am. Brian Cox reporting:
"A Hill Country woman narrowly escaped a fiery death early Saturday morning when her minivan was destroyed by a hit-and-run driver along a lonely stretch of US 181, just north of Lubach."
Mitch was suddenly feeling thirsty, even though he'd only walked two hundred yards. He stood next to his mailbox, tightly gripping the whole newspaper. A fly was up early, lazily buzzing around Mitch's left ear. He ignored it as it settled somewhere on his hat.

What you can learn from a book review...

Monday, May 3, 2010 9:53 PM By crosswaysnet , In ,

Well, the Publishers Weekly review is finally up on my ABNA quarter-final entry "Avenhal-Return of the Taneen." I was (mildly) hoping for something quotable and useful for future jacket revisions. Since most authors don't choose to tout scathing reviews, Ill probably pass on quoting them.

But in the interest of full-disclosure, I'm posting it here, with a few comments of my own to follow. Don't worry - I won't flame them. They're doing their job, and they proved they read the entire manuscript.

ABNA Publisher Weekly Reviewer:

In a time of war, three siblings are sent to relatives in the country, where they discover a mysterious gate between worlds.

Translation-Chapter 2

8:17 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Chapter 2 (March, Friday Morning - Rio Claro, TX):

Mitch rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and headed to the small corner kitchen of the cabin. Without a curtain, the morning light was pouring through the window over the sink. The big square of sunshine was working its way from the center of the room back toward the old pine cabinets. Mitch squinted as he stepped through the glare over to the coffee maker. Other than the electric stove and half-size fridge, it was the only other modern convenience in this little Hill Country retreat. It was also the newest. It was less than a year old and positively gleamed in comparison to the tired stove, cookware and glasses. It was also programmable and gave Mitch the satisfaction of not having to wait. He poured half a cup of his favorite Sumatran blend, added a small amount of half-n-half and stepped out to the back porch.

Translation-Chapter 1

Sunday, May 2, 2010 6:32 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Chapter 1 (November, 2006 - New Kassel, Texas):

The woman had been staring at the computer screen for a long time. It was getting dark already and a gloom had descended on the office. It felt appropriate. Soon she would be expected home to finish putting food on the table.
A steely blue glow was beginning to reflect off the polished desk as the parking lot lights blinked on one by one. Sonja Blackman looked out the large bay of windows at the colorless form of her hybrid Toyota Camry sitting alone in the parking lot. She should leave right now, she knew. Still, she was drawn back to the screen trying to make the message mean something else.