Saturday, July 28, 2012
I am honored to host the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers summer blog tour for this weekend! Let me take a moment to introduce you to my books, some great summer reads if I do say so myself. ;)
The Curse of Atlantis
What is it about? What if Atlantis never perished all those years ago? What if it exists on a parallel world, believing in a second chance at life? Two thousand years later, a small child is accused of being Atlantis’ curse due to her ability to transform into a wolf. Their king, wishing to regain power, murders her family, and places her into the army to be exploited in a devastating war. Knowing that an innocent life is in danger, a religious-centered committee calls upon the only man capable of handling such a challenge.
As he hesitantly takes the assignment, he will find himself fighting against the numerous kings who control Atlantis, while performing his job within the army and pleasing the wishes of the watchful committee. Together, these two lost souls will try to find their way through times of turmoil without falling victim to the curse’s short legacy and the child’s forgotten past.
Why is it a great summer read? From the start, this book will bring you into the life of a child who has lost it all and the man who will go to any lengths to save her. This is a father/daughter story that will capture you from the first page. Is she innocently accused or truly the monster everyone believes her to be?
The Lord of Nightmares
What is it about? What if this world was haunted by supernatural beings toying with people’s lives for sport? Madison never questioned events in her life until her friend, David, commits suicide. Years later, a man walks into her life with answers to all her questions, but this is no ordinary man. He is the Lord of Nightmares, part of a supernatural species conducting the ultimate game of wit with human pawns. Madison will find the answers to her questions come at a price. When what is at stake is her soul, Madison has no room for error as she enters a game of wit against the lord, best of his kind. Before the game is over, Madison will come to understand that only one question is worth asking: What will I do to survive?
Why is it a great summer read? This is an examination on the human spirit and the lengths people will go to save their future. This book will make you question “ordinary” events that happen in life. Are they simply tragic, or are we all puppets in a game of wit? The twists and turns in this story will leave you wondering if Madison will ever be the same again.
For more information on myself as well as these books, including reader reviews and buying information, please visit my website: www.bjkurtz.com.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
What makes a story? I am in the beginning phases of my next novel so thought I’d sit back and define my process. It is both exciting and scary. I know…why scary? Picture your first day of school or work or first anything; there is excitement. But there’s also a little fear. What if you don’t like it? What if you can’t do the job? What are the policies and procedures? Everyone else walks around knowing what to expect around the corner. But you don’t.
Writing a story is kind of like that. Typically, right around the time I’m finishing a novel, I will get hit by a new idea. Where did it come from? Who knows. I like to say it is inspiration from God or my Guardian Angel. It could be a movie, or a phrase someone said, or an event in the news. The novel I just finished came from none of these. In fact, it is the first time I really can’t pinpoint the origin. Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is the idea comes and festers. Kind of like a good stew, it has to sit and simmer for a while. I build the idea, mull it over.
The idea for my last novel centered around a large family with a dark past. I had the mystery aspect, I needed the fantasy. Bam: the family can manipulate fate. Cool, right? Excitement courses through my veins. But people have awesome ideas that go nowhere because they don’t have a plot. So, I sit and think for some time. I’m okay as long as I’m finishing up my last story. But, once that story is done, if the stew is still brewing with no results, I get a little worried. What if I can’t make it work? What if I’m all washed out? See…scary. So far, my Guardian Angel…muse?...has never let me down. I really don’t know how to describe this process. But, it never fails. For this story, I was sitting bored at a Young Adults meeting at church—God has already forgiven me. ;) I had been debating about having an “adult” story and a “teen” story that runs parallel. The trick was to connect them. How was I going to do that? How would they be related? Then, as I watched lights form and fade from the passing cars on the street, the idea hit. I felt a physical “click” sound inside. This is the exciting part. Dominoes fall, ideas fly and I can’t get to a piece of paper fast enough. I have to write it down. Not really an outline, just a scramble of ideas. I’m sure if someone from the outside were to look at it, they would not understand. But to me, it is perfect. Changes will still be made as I dive in, but at this point I know the beginning scene as well as the ending scene. I will spend the next year and a half getting from one to the other.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
I decided to write this week’s blog about writer’s block. It's scary. Since I can’t tell you why a conversation or a book will spur an idea, I also can’t tell you definitively how to fix it when ideas stop. Why pick this topic? I found myself not only blocked in my current story, but also for this week’s post. So, it seemed fitting.
No worse feeling exists than for every fiber itching to write but remain unable. July is monsoon month in Arizona. Don’t ask me why, but I bet if some program could calculate the total words I write throughout the year, it would show a dramatic spike in July and August. When the clouds plow over the mountaintops, the day turns dark like night, and the rain starts to pound the roof….nothing drives me faster. Currently, nature is working and I am not. I stare at a blank screen and nothing comes. Or I force a scene only to feel like pounding my head on the delete button over and over.
What are my typical causes? 1) Stress. My writing takes a hit in May and December when teaching consumes life. Nothing came during the year and a half of my master’s degree. 2) A problem within the story. This common problem has ranged from plot issues to the wrong point of view, and even the wrong setting. In the story I just finished, I almost didn’t write one particular scene. In it, I wanted the main character to have a confrontation with a former friend. I originally had a scene picked out for her amongst her friends. Only, it felt stifled. My first, impatient response was just to skip the scene. But, then I simple switched it to a conversation between her and the boy’s grandmother. Everything not only clicked into place but also created avenues and links I hadn’t even planned before. In another story, I wrote about eighty pages before coming to a complete standstill. I gave the partial manuscript to a good friend who read it and told me the point of view was wrong. I was telling the wrong story. I agreed that’s the reason for the block. 3) I block when out of practice. I haven’t written for a while and it becomes hard to get everything going again.
The cure? For the first and third, I have found the same cure: schedule time to write and make it a priority. Even if it’s not perfect, it’ll get easier/better. If nothing comes? I have been advice to write “I don’t know what to write” over and over. Never had the guts to try it, but let me know if it works! For the second, I have wonderful people who can talk me through. I think every writer should have this: whether it be family, avid readers, or other writers. Sometimes, we need outside help. Everyone has antidotes relating to their specific writing process. But, no matter what, remember to breathe and have faith everything will come back….remind me of this next week as I try to push through my current block!
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
I'm going camping for the holiday weekend...so here's this weekend's blog post a little early!
I was talking with a friend of mine at church last weekend. He’s an aspiring writer with the same dilemma: to finish a book. Ideas weave in and out of his mind, and yet he hasn’t written a novel. I love the coincidences in life because, for the first time in my career, I almost fell into the same whirlpool that prohibited him.
Let’s say you are an aspiring writer (if so than YEAH!). Then, most people, like me, will tell you to go to conferences and read books on the craft. We do this with the belief that you will learn the most from other writers. This is absolutely true. But, you will go to these conferences and you will meet hundreds of people who will have their “fool proof” method for writing a breakout hit. They will talk of procedures, characters, story plots (all of which stop my creativity dead). But, before you can focus on all this, they will tell you to do your research. You see, you will sound silly if you don’t know what you are talking about.
In the fantasy genre, I don’t have this pressure as much as let’s say murder mystery. I recently went to a local Sisters In Crime meeting (long story) in which a forensic expert discussed how a bullet will actually stop upon hitting water. So all those spy movies where the hero gets injured by a bullet passing through the water…yeah, the woman giggled at the idea. So, as an author you need to be prepared. They will tell you that you need to know your genre’s trends and styles. Everyone will agree that a fantasy book doesn’t read like a romance and a romance doesn’t read like a who-done-it. They will recommend books on craft and don’t forget the research!
There is nothing wrong with this advice. In fact, I have offered it to writers. But, what did I tell my friend? Just write! I got stuck in this drama within my own head last week. I wanted to research life on a frigate to enhance my scenes. I then thought of all the other things I should research as well. Finally, I asked myself. What is driving my story: the research or the characters? For me, the answer has always been characters. So, I wrote the prologue. And, you know what, ideas started to click and flow. Will I need to research more before I’m done? Probably, but now it will be necessary.
I recommend the same thing to those learning the craft of storytelling. How are you going to learn if not by examining your own work? Authors can sell millions of books telling you how best to write, but you need to find your own style. Find it and strengthen it with the advice from these books. Don’t let them tell you how to do your style, only how to improve it. So just jump in! The water’s nice in the pool of creativity.