Pardon me while I ruminate a bit on past and current events. It’s been a long trek from when the online community known as The Crossover Alliance (birthed in San Francisco, California over four years ago) was upgraded to a small press. It seems like just yesterday, and yet it also seems like a lifetime ago.
It was a little over two years ago that my wife decided to leave me. It, too, feels like just yesterday, and yet a million years ago.
Two events. One celebratory, and one incredibly devastating.
You’re probably wondering what the two have to do with each other.
When my wife left me, I didn’t know how to react. We had twelve years of marriage, a child, and a long, perilous, and fantastic journey of walking together with the Lord. And then it all came crashing down in an instant. Literally, in an instant. I would have had more warning if a semi truck had T-boned me while I was sitting in a fast food drive-thru.
That devastation left me crippled in more ways than I would ever care to admit. And through that crippling, I pushed The Crossover Alliance to the side. I had to heal. I had to cling to something, to someone. To God. The pain of the divorce was so great, I went into a self-destructive behavioral decline. Momentarily, of course. Because – as has always been the case in my life – God slapped some sense up into me, pulled me close, and helped me back to my feet. He gave mercy, but he also gave instruction. Wisdom. Balance.
Two years later, I finally – FINALLY – feel like the David that existed before everything went to Hell in a hand-basket. I know it sounds cliche, but I feel as if I’ve literally risen from the ashes of everything that happened.
Over the course of the last few months, I’ve given serious thought to what my purpose is. To what God has called me to do. To what direction I’m supposed to be heading in with everything. And the amazing thing is – nothing has changed. The path I was walking before the divorce is the same path God has called me to continue walking. The only difference, is that God gave me the grace of two years to pull myself together, to heal these deep wounds, and to reestablish my relationship with Him.
In all of this, I’ve thought quite a bit about The Crossover Alliance, Christian fiction, and where it all ties into what I’m supposed to be doing. I mean, yes, there’s a place for the books found in The Crossover Alliance, just as there’s a place for any and every book that’s ever been written. And yet…
I look online, and it seems Christian fiction is in the same place it was two years ago. Just about, anyway. Christian authors who write anything ‘edgy’ are still finding it hard to get published. Christian readers are still crying out for less white-washed Christian fiction. And for some reason, the two groups cannot find one another in this online sea of self-published and traditionally-published books.
When the community for The Crossover Alliance was first started more than four years ago, it was because author and friend Mark Carver suggested we pool together as authors, those of us who write edgier Christian fiction. Back then, the magic expression was ‘edgy Christian fiction’. That term seemed to envelope Christian romance titles that had former prostitutes as their lead characters, and yet, there were so many manuscripts being written below the radar, such as Mark’s Beast and my own Black Earth: End of the Innocence. Titles that looked at Christian fiction in a different light. Authors who wrote not only about the ‘light’ side of Christianity, but the dark side of life.
So, we created the online community, named The Crossover Alliance because it was in fact a crossver of sorts – Christian stories with real-world content.
Then Mark suggested we turn TCA into a website. So we created a website.
Then Mark suggested we turn TCA into a publishing company…
Four years later, here we are.
But two years ago, my life came to a standstill. And to be honest, in many ways, so did The Crossover Alliance. I had just barely put together a team for the publishing company before my own personal life went into shambles, and that was definitely a God thing, as that team – especially Jakki Hanna, our graphic designer – kept things tied together while I drifted out toward my own black hole.
And yet, God didn’t allow me to drift long. I never made it to that black hole, but it feels like I came pretty close. Yes, I made some mistakes. But God in His grace and mercy pulled me back to Him. Through the kindness and love of friends and Christian brothers and sisters, I came back to my baseline. From there, I went through DivorceCare through the local church. From there, I took a new step each and every day back toward God, toward the life I knew before the devastation.
Now, it seems I’ve stepped out of a fog and into a clear day. My heart still aches from what happened, but I’m able to stand. I’m able to look in the mirror and know that God has a purpose, a plan, even if the person I was walking along this path with decided to go another way.
The thing is, the path is still here in front of me. And it’s still one I’m called to walk.
In all of this heartache and struggle, I discovered something. I discovered the reason why The Crossover Alliance exists, it’s very purpose. Not that I didn’t already know it at one point, but life can make things hazy, and sometimes we can veer our efforts in other directions.
See, what most of our critics don’t understand is that we don’t want to change the face of publishing simply so we can write curse words or detail gruesome violence or engage in fiction sexual activity in our Christian stories. We want to write stories the way they are meant to be written. We want to record the world the way the world is. And my friends, the world is dark. It is dreary. It is – a lot of the time – without light. And we write, we push the stories out of ourselves, to shine light in that darkness.
Some of the mistakes I made as I coped with the divorce were things you wouldn’t write about in typical Christian fiction. But they are things that need to be written about. Why? Because everyone is experiencing them. Life itself is dark and hard and a struggle and a challenge and just frustrating.
When we go through hard times in our life, through our own darkness, we experience comfort and we receive guidance when we come across another person who has been – or is – struggling with the same thing. And why should anyone think fiction abides by different rules? When we write out our struggles, our pain, our experiences – true, gritty, experiences – in this life, we are writing out a way for others to connect, to bond, to feel healing from knowing that others are going through these things as well.
To boil it down, a story is a good friend, and that friend shouldn’t lie.
This darkness in my life – this tunnel I had to walk through – brought me to the realization that The Crossover Alliance is more than a publishing company. It’s more than some authors and marketers and editors and graphic designers and pastors and friends and readers getting together to publish books. The Crossover Alliance is a beacon in the dark night, shining a light on the truth. It’s a community of authors and other creatives who want these stories to be told. It’s a place where we can all come together to fight the good fight of faith without fear of getting wrapped up in semantics.
I want to thank each of you for sticking with us as a publishing company through our down moments when it seemed like nothing was really going on. Our first years, we went strong, publishing title after title. These last couple years, not so much. But I promise you, we have a great many exciting things coming your way.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be relaunching our blog post series that will explore the various elements of fiction that have been ‘banned’ or ‘frowned-upon’ in regards to Christian fiction, such as sexual content, magic, and horror. We’ll take some surveys of you, our faithful fans, and hear what you have to say about what should be ‘allowed’ in Christian fiction.
Starting in January of 2020, we’ll be taking full novel, novella, and short story submissions again.
We’ll have our entire 2020 catalog announced before the end of this year, so you’ll all know what to look forward to from us next year!
We’ll be starting videoblogs or vblogs or vdogs or whatever they are called – video blogs, where we’ll update you on what we’re up to as a company, and let you hear from others about why Christian fiction needs more than holy water and happy endings.
Hang tight. We’re coming back around, and this second pass will be the best!
David N Alderman
Founder and CEO of The Crossover Alliance
PS – In the meantime, please make sure you’re signed up for our email newsletter, as that’s the easiest and most convenient way for you to get announcements on upcoming books, promotions, or the exciting things we’re doing to change Christian publishing.