Fact and Fiction in BEYOND THE CABIN

In the Important Notes section at the back of Beyond the Cabin, I point out that while this book is inspired by true events that happened to me, the novel is still a work of fiction.

I stopped short of listing the events in Beyond the Cabin that are true and not true.

As a response to a request, I am going to make a few things really clear in this post. Warning: some spoilers ahead.

  1. I grew up with two older brothers, one of whom left when I was seven. His passing is as depicted in the book, but it happened about seven years after he left in real life.
  2. None of the kid characters are true-to-life portrayals of the kids I grew up with. The characters in the book have traits of some of the people I grew up with and traits needed for the story.
  3. I never ran away seriously. I threatened to once and made it about 1000 yards before chickening out.
  4. The setting- Western Pennsylvania- is real and the house is similar to the house we lived in there.
  5. The cult is real, although I changed the name. The real cult started in the 60s and was called the Process. It morphed and evolved for many years after.
  6. Every punishment in the book is something that happened in real life. Including the beating. Yes, I know what this means, legally. No, I don’t care to pursue anything recriminatory ever. Anybody who does try to do so, or tries to besmirch the group as it is today, does so against my wishes and with my deep disapproval. The water has long flowed under the bridge.
  7. A cabin was built at one point when many of the cult orphan kids lived in Western New York. It was a project that many of us worked on. It ended unceremoniously when my oldest brother injured himself badly with a chainsaw.
  8. The kids I grew up with are essentially my siblings. I never got truly close to any of them as a youth, due to my own failings. I did spend time with many off and on and they were my playmates, friends, and sometimes enemies, but I never felt comfortable enough with any of them to show anything resembling vulnerability. This was my failure and I spent many years regretting the way I treated them. Today I cherish them and their friendship.
  9. If it’s a weird ritual, a strange teaching practice, a religious song, or anything that adds texture to the depiction of the cult itself and life in it- it’s true. The songs are the actual words to actual songs. I still remember several more.
  10. The spiritual, mental, and emotional journey that Josh goes on parallels mine, only mine took over twenty years to come to fruition.

In the words of Forrest Gump, that’s all I’m going to say about that. If you have questions, I welcome them and I will happily answer them. There is also a lot on this site about my life in the cult. Try clicking over on the right on “The Thanks Series” under Categories.

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Another Giveaway Contest: What Crazy Thing DIDN’T Happen?

Our first contest had a winner: Daron Fraley! Congratulations on being the randomly selected winner, Daron!

Now for another contest. I’m going to list some of the wild events, punishments, and rules from my youth in the cult- not all of them happened to me. I’m also going to include in that list ONE (1) event/punishment/rule that did NOT happen. I do this because it’s fun to look back on this stuff, not out of bitterness.

The first person to comment on this post with the item that did NOT really happen wins a signed copy of BEYOND THE CABIN. I’m not going to reveal the answer until next week, probably Monday, so start feeling the suspense. LOVE the suspense!

  1. Stand in a corner for thirty minutes.
  2. Dress as a clown, with makeup and all, and walk in a parade in Dallas, Texas.
  3. Write 200 lines.
  4. Sleep on blankets in a large room in a building in Manhattan- with 30+ other kids.
  5. Go to room without dinner.
  6. Finish off 12+ adults’ after-dinner wine- at the age of 5.
  7. Stay at the table until the liver is eaten- even past midnight.
  8. Use a stick and lots of shouting to drive a small herd of cows out of a peach orchard.
  9. Play Eliot Ness in a cookie-themed home-movie rip-off of The Untouchables called The Inedibles.
  10. Stand in a corner for 2 hours.
  11. Participate in a cult-kid wide boxing tournament.
  12. Build an awesome bike out of spare parts and spray paint it black.
  13. Write 1,000 lines.
  14. Spend 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 2.5 months during a summer, digging miles of 2-foot deep trenches for water supply lines- while listening to Van Halen and The Clash.
  15. No listening to rock and roll.
  16. Receive $20 from Grandma and spend it all on Tin Roof Sundae ice cream and Skittles.
  17. Get spanked with a wooden spoon.
  18. Get caught stealing bread from a bakery.
  19. Do a singing performance for US-based supporters of the PLO.
  20. Pet a cat named Waffen.
  21. Nearly kill self and one other kid while learning to drive a stick shift on a remote highway in Arizona.
  22. Get banished to a ranch in Arizona.
  23. Learn to face down even the angriest of dogs.
  24. Stand in a corner for 6 hours.
  25. Fall off a ten foot tall jungle gym at the age of 4, knocking out one front tooth in the process.
  26. Write 5,000 lines.
  27. Scoop an actual ton of dog poop during five summers spent in the desert.
  28. Write 10,000 lines.
  29. Learn to drive a tractor and backhoe.
  30. Go on a 24-hour vision quest in the Arizona desert with 1.5 liters of water.

Okay guys, weigh in: which one isn’t real?

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Book Signing and Discussion

Great announcement today: I have a book signing all scheduled and everything!

I’ll be at Pioneer Book (450 West Center Street in Provo, Utah) on December 19th, from 4PM to 7PM.

We will have around twenty copies of Beyond the Cabin to sell on site- which I am happy to then sign for you. That’s not a lot, so if you want to be sure to have a copy for me to sign, you want to go to Amazon and order your copy RIGHT NOW!

Here is the Trade Paperback on Amazon.

I plan on taking some time while there’s a crowd there to discuss the book, the process of writing it, and some of my murky past. So if you’re interested in any of that, bring your family, friends, enemies, and neighbors!

Here’s a link to the event on Facebook. Go there. Join.

Heck, if enough people join the event, I’ll make sure we have more than twenty copies on hand.

I’m so excited to see you there!

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It’s a BEYOND THE CABIN Giveaway!

It’s time to give away a signed, numbered copy of the trade paperback of BEYOND THE CABIN!

Beyond the Cabin cover

You know you want it.

The way to do this is easy! All you have to do is answer the following question in the comments and I will add you to a list of entrants:

Question: What is the craziest, or harshest, or most absurd punishment you’ve ever received- be it from a family member or some authority figure? (I imagine this can be funny or scary. You choose whether you want to share and I’ll make sure the love is here.)

When the contest closes, I’ll use Random.org to randomly choose a winner.

If you want your name entered twice on the list, you can share this post on Twitter or Facebook or some other social media, or even your website or blog! Just be sure to let me know somewhere in your comment where you shared and include a link!

The more times your name appears on the list, the greater the chance of you winning the lovely copy of BEYOND THE CABIN!

And remember, if you want to pick up a copy for yourself, here’s where to find it:

Trade Paperback

Kindle version

Last thing: the contest started right about Noon on Wednesday, the 3rd, so it will go a week and end on Wednesday, the 10th- at noon Mountain time.

Excited? Ready? Go!

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Cover Reveal for BEYOND THE CABIN

Hi everyone,
Thanks to some truly inspired work by Nathan Shumate, cover artist/designer extraordinaire, Beyond the Cabin has a cover that I am very much in love with.

Want to see it?

Here you go:

Beyond the Cabin final cover








What do you think?

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