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We are none of us an exception, immune to the effects of a sin-ravaged world.

Or to the forces at work in our own flesh.

1 Peter tells us that our “adversary, the devil, roams about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” We know from the animal kingdom, that predators often seek the young, the old, the weak, the lonely prey to bring down. Separate from the herd, and pounce.

And, boom! They’re down, and thus become another feast for hungry beasts.

So it is with us. Only the devil’s subterfuge is much more subtle than outright pursuit. No, his tools to isolate are misunderstanding, bitterness… in short, the frictions of a fallen world that, like sandpaper, often rub us raw.

The pastor says something we don’t like, and boom! We’re gone. A friend levels a harsh word, we’re done. The church lets us down…

We walk away.

And the biggest lie the enemy perpetuates is that we are alone in this (insert your this here).

It’s just a few short steps from believing we are alone to living like it. Believe me, I’ve been there alone in my shame, believing that no one would understand, and if they knew, would shun me.

And that is just where our “adversary, the devil” wants us to be: alone in our shame, ripe for the picking. Consider well Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV):

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Because God has elsewhere said that He has given us the “ministry of reconciliation,” the hurts and slights are worth working through. The misunderstandings are worth surmounting.

But we have to be willing to so the work.

Or we run the twin risks of believing we are alone, or can do this alone. But God’s church is a body, and needs all its parts to function as it should.

I’m here to tell you today that:

You are not alone.

You can’t do this on your own.

We need you. Your story, your voice, your unique giftings, and abilities.

And lastly,

You are not an exception. If you think so, you’re setting yourself up for a fall. You will become a victim.

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As with his previous book, 31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo, Allain has writting another winner. He knocks it clear outta the park! It’s smart, yet simple, clear, and actionable. Anybody wanting to build a tribe can follow these steps. Bryan shares the lessons he’s learned from:

Over 10 years of blogging,

Putting on his own conference,

Reaching out to people he admires.

This book is packed with such practical wisdom that it would be cheap at twice the price! It really is that good.

Don’t take my word for it–pick up a copy, and put the steps into practice. And watch your tribe grow!

Click here to get your copy on Amazon. Starting tomorrow, October 30th, the book is free (through November 3rd).

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What you can do to help:

1) Do Bryan, favor, and read Community Wins, or Bryan’s previous book, 31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo.

2) Leave favorable reviews on Amazon.

3) Tweet out your love: “@bryanallain is at it again with #CommunityWins. Check out @randomlychad’s review at http://randomlychad.com”

UNDEAD Trailer from Clay Morgan on Vimeo.

1) When did you know that you were interested in writing, and was there anyone that stands out in your memory who encouraged you to pursue it?

I was a late bloomer, always a decent writer but never passionate about it until college which is probably when I first realized how therapeutic writing was for me. My great teacher Ron Forsythe changed everything though during the college years. He was brilliant and taught me technique with a lot of passion mixed in.

2) You recently published your first book, Undead: Revived, Resuscitate, Reborn. What was the genesis of the idea behind the book?

I wasn’t even thinking about writing a book. Then one night I was debating whether or not I should read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith or another book about Jesus by Max Lucado. Then it occurred to me that dead people did come back to life in the Bible. I was surprised to learn that there were six such individuals. I was off and running from there.

3) Who would you count as your creative influences? Who do you like to read?

I wish I could say that I read C.S. Lewis as a young man and then moved onto some of the classics. Instead I started with Garfield and moved onto Dave Barry. I listen to a LOT of audio books. I’m a fan of memoirs, biographies, and more. Stephen King’s often been in front of me and recently I’ve enjoyed Matt Mikalatos, especially Imaginary Jesus.

3) You’re a teacher at several colleges in the Pittsburgh area, maintain a successful blog, and now have a book out–how do you balance it all? How did you maintain the pace? How did the daily obligations impact your “creative time?” Is sleep overrated?

Man, as I answer this I don’t feel like I’m handling it well! I left my old blog to shrivel while finishing the book. The pace wasn’t sustainable but it didn’t have to be. I made it to the finish line then rebooted this summer. Although now that I’m in the post-release reality I’m wondering why I didn’t write a second book in recent months.

I need sleep though, that’s for sure. I’m the worst at mornings ever. I’ve never been a writer who has my best creativity early in the day. That’s my stupid time. I’m lucky if I can handle emailing and driving, although not at the same time. My brain ignites at night, and much of my best stuff comes after normal people go to bed.

4) In reading your blog, I see that you’re very into pop culture and history. What, in your mind, is the intersection of the two? What is it about pop culture that you love? Who are some of your favorite historical influences? Pop culture influences?

The culture of one era becomes historical record. Shakespeare was Hollywood a few centuries ago. Now he’s studied by academics. Current pop culture is a window to who we are in part and will, believe it or not, become part of our historical record. God help us when archaeologists sift through our ashes and make determinations about us based on Jersey Shore. But they will.

I’m a product of Gen X and always loved TV shows, movies, and video games over books while growing up. I can’t do a math problem to save my life but I can quote fictional characters of the screen from the past three decades. Go figure. When I need to give or take advice, movie plots and song lyrics resonate with me. I’m just wired that way.

As for historical influences, I like guys like Alexander Hamilton and Abe Lincoln. Too many to count really. And I love the world that the Bible was set in. Too many churches miss the rich settings and characters in exchange for dull discussions on theological systems and word studies.

5) In Undead, you reference the current pop culture craze with zombies and tie it into the search for a meaningful life. What is it about such stories that speak to the deeper places in us?

Whether we admit it or not we are preoccupied with death, at least inasmuch as that’s the doorway to eternity. Solomon said that eternity has been set in our hearts by God. We’re obsessed with what happens beyond the grave. Humans have always been that way. So when we see the living dead we can actually relate to them in a strange way. Sure their flesh is decaying and they want to eat brains all the time, but they do that while still wearing Dockers and curlers. It reminds us how close we are to the other side you know? And since we’re compelled by beings that can’t be stopped by death, what then do we make of Jesus of Nazareth and the claims made by his followers?

6) You are a Christian. What can Christians specifically learn from scary stories? Would you generally agree with the following statement: most horror stories are morality tales, crucibles that expose to us what’s in our hearts, i.e. “what if” scenarios that ask us, through identifying the characters, what we would do in similar situations? A sort of “What Would You Do?” with not John Quinones, but Stephen King?

Christian Director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister) opened my eyes in this regard when he said that the horror genre is perfect for Christianity. With such an emphasis on the supernatural why don’t we appreciate that realm in pop culture? Sure, horror movies might have gratuitous sex or violence but they don’t always have to. And as Derrickson pointed out, Christians admire someone like C. S. Lewis who wrote The Screwtape Letters which is a conversation between demons!

Think of all the people who grew up without any church affiliation or religious encounters. Where have they been exposed to ideas of the supernatural? In cinemas and on TV and through novels is where. We can complain about how evil all that stuff is or we can get in there to offer some thoughtful perspectives. I’ve had a number of meaningful conversations about God with people because of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Many of those folks I chat with aren’t interested in American churches, so culture creates opportunities to connect with people where they are.

7) Are there any questions you’re surprised that you think folks would ask, but don’t?

I never know what interviewers will bring up first. I’ve gone into most of those with no expectations on what might be the favored topic, so I haven’t been too surprised yet. Although I am still waiting for someone to ask me how they should go about supplying their nationwide network of college students with copies of Undead. Kidding. Sort of.

8) What’s in store for Clay Morgan in the future? Will you turn your hand to fiction? Are you working on another book now? If so, can you share anything about it?

Interesting you ask that. I’ve got two projects underway, one only in development. And yup, one of them is fiction which is more terrifying than a zombie squirrel. We’ll see if I can pull it off. But no, unfortunately it’s all top secret at this point.

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The other day, posted a piece about being “alright.” It seemed to resonate with many of you. And for that I’m very glad. I take it as a both a gift, and a privilege, when my writing connects with you.

I also take very seriously the scriptural mandate “let not many of you become teachers.” Although I may not be so in any official capacity, what I say here doesn’t exist in a vacuum; in fact, I take it very much to heart that you’ve told me over and over again that my words have touched your hearts. I feel a weight of responsibility, a burden, to bless you.

Which is why I’m glad that “I’m Alright… Are You?” moved you–because it is a piece that is dear to my heart. So much so that I feel we’ve only scratched the surface. In simple point of fact, I think there’s quite a lot more story there, about how those two little words shaped a life, and of a man who–in his fourth decade–is just now beginning to break of their shackles. You have come with me thus far on my journey as I’ve poured out my heart here. Will you follow me a little further, dive a little deeper, as we delve into the depths of just how not alright I am (and truly about how none of us are)?

I have to tell you that this idea both enervates, and frightens, me. There is exhilaration, and intimidation, in equal measure. That the tale will be told is, I think, a good thing; that I’ll be telling it scares the pants off of me. It keeps me up at night. Some people close to me may not care at all for it, and it may not even be your cup of tea. But everything I’ve done here comes back to this. It will be deeply personal, and will contain things I’ve never shared before. About that I can only say, with Anne Lamott, who said: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”

I take that to heart: I own what happened to me, but it’s also high time to break free. And I hope you will join me in this process of discovery. Because it’s not just my story–it never has been–but yours as well.

So I’m asking you: If I wrote it, will you read? Will you read of how two little words almost ruined me, and how God is building a new life, phoenix-life, from the ashes of the old one? Will you stick with me if it means time away from working on this blog to pour myself into something deeper?

What I’m asking is: if I wrote a book, would you read it? (Very) Tentatively, I’m calling it “I’m Alright: A Memoir of the Power of Little Words.”

Do you have a better idea for a title?
Please share in the comments.

(Please note: I don’t usually like to talk about works in progress, but in doing so here today it’s my hope that you will keep me accountble. Very simply: if I didn’t believe in this, I wouldn’t tell you).

'I'm Sorry' photo (c) 2011, Maroon Surreal - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I once tried to write a post for TV Asylum, that safe place for the television-obsessed. Because I don’t, you know, actually watch a lot of TV, the piece felt very tentative to me. So I turned to one of the site’s proprietors, Knox McCoy, looking for affirmation.

Because that’s what all secure writers do, right? And received the hiss of static in reply. Instead of just, you know, concluding he was busy (which he is), I assumed he was ignoring me (which he wasn’t).

So, yes, you know where this is going: when we make assumptions, not having all the facts, we make faulty ASSessments of ourselves. And others. Or something.

In my insecurity, I pestered poor Knox via email, and iMessage. Because, for some reason, I wanted so desperately to be liked, rather than respected.

And I got neither in return. In fact, I surmise that Mr. McCoy doesn’t think of me much at all.

All because I listened to the voice of fear, let it feed my insecurity, and let that fester and grow into douchebaggery.

All that to say: I’m sorry, Knox McCoy. I hope you can forgive me. Perhaps we can work together someday.

Those of you who write/blog/etc, have you ever done the same?

PS In the end, I decided that writing about T.V. shows is not my forte, and turned my piece over to another blogger who has something to say (on the subject). I may never see my byline at TV Asylum, and that’s okay.