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Monday, August 06, 2007

You're Stucked, Lady!

My dear friend Alexander Luvin showed great concern when he wrote, "I just got scared when I found out about Flicka finishing a book and being stuck with it."

But, I'm not stucked. Far from it. And, even if I were, no writer should ever be afraid of the same.

I do suppose that writers write for many different reasons. But I think it's fair to assume all want an audience and money, to some extent. But why a writer writes will directly influence how he goes about seeking those two trophies. If I wanted an audience, I could post a whole bunch of pictures of myself in various states of undress on the internet. And I'd have an audience. If I wanted money I could get a job. (Shudder.)

Any writer can attain audience and money much faster and less painfully apart from writing than by it. Continuing to pursue those bad twins through writing exposes them for the impostor objectives that they are.

So then, do I not want those things for Rainmaker? I do. But, I'm in no hurry. And that's the direct result of what interests me and why I write.

Commercial fiction, does not hold my attention. Especially, ESPECIALLY, Christian Fiction. At least not in it's current Genre + Gospel manifestation, anyway. If it did, I would go about writing a story in exactly the opposite way that I do. I would, first of all, relish commercial fiction and greedily devour every new title the publishers released. Then, I would learn everything I could about what my favorite publishers in my favorite genre liked in a writer and were looking for in a book. Then I would ape it until I became it and I would sell them exactly what they were asking for.

As it is, I find reading most commercial fiction to be such a tedious task that it is almost too much for me. I can not do the research necessary to discover what publisher's want because, very often, I can not stand to read what they sell. Even now, I'm slogging my way through a Christian Best Seller by an author who has had one of his books adapted into a major motion picture and I find it about as captivating as a sink full of dirty dishes.

It is The Same. It's a story that's mostly about the Twist, or Angle, or Catch. That is to say, it is a plot driven story with a broken down plot and all energy being directed towards bearing up the clever twist that is so meant to carry the reader on bedazzled wings. It's a beast of burden breaking under too heavy a load, I find.

The narrative is elementary. It is punch, punch, punchy. With lots of fragmented sentences. For emphasis.

It's guilty of gross misconduct with one-sentence paragraphs. If it is offset by itself, it is weighty, wise or witty, right? In fact, it only serves to highlight inanities.

It's characters are dumb and act in unnatural ways. But they are beautiful.

The only reason I'm reading it is because my mother informed me that this author was rejected by most Christian publishers as being too edgy. Perhaps, she reasoned, his publisher would be interested in Rainmaker.

But the book is not edgy like Rainmaker is.

Don't get me wrong, this author is highly skilled and accomplished. His attempts to explain Christianity and God through metaphor are very good. He knows his craft. It's just not my cup of tea, is all. And I have no desire - none, nadda, zilch- to remake myself in his or anyone else's image.

So, why do I write?

Primarily I write because I have something I need to say. I have a broad concept or idea I need to explore and demonstrate. And I have these people in my head that only I know. And I think they have done something or overcome something that deserves to be told. It is their story. And I find them worthy and feel obligated to make them known, to let them live apart from me. I start where I need to start in order to be able to tell what I need to tell. And once my character's have all done what they did that made me start the story in the first place, my story is finished. That's how and why I write.

As for Rainmaker, he desperately needs editing. I'm getting help along those lines from generous friends. And I will rewrite the denouement because I have never been satisfied with that. But, other than that the story is Done. I've said what I set out to and I've given my characters a fair shake. There may be things wrong with the story on many different levels. There may be ten thousand things wrong with the story. But it will not be belabored. I gave it life but I refuse to nurse it.

As for holding on to it: I guess I just can't stand the process of selling it. My dream would be to self publish and self promote my books one day anyway. And I"m very, very busy right now. I don't want to spend my precious spare time doing something I hate, like sending out inquiry letters.

I'm getting ready to have my fourth child. I'm getting a real estate license at my husbands request. I'm going to get licensed to teach Yoga. I'm decorating my kids' bedrooms. I'm carpooling. Life is too full with good things to exchange them for a bad job I can't stand.

I'm going to start another book in the Fall. It will not fit neatly into any genre. It will be about Christ's redemption but it won't be suitable for the Christian market. It'll be a horror story of sorts.

That's what I like to do. That's what holds my interest.

And besides, I have tremendous faith in the universe altering force of creative energy. I'm no more "stuck" with this book than a farmer is stuck with seed for harvest. Latent in every act of creation is a power that works on its own behalf seeking self expression, freedom and fellowship. This is true of my stories as well. I can not be stuck with something that exists apart from myself but only with something I never delineate from my own thoughts. My thoughts belong to me. Rainmaker's Wrestling no longer does.

In short, write for your own reasons, but know what they are. And never be afraid of what you finish. Be afraid of what you never start.

by C. C. Kurzeja
2006 All Rights Reserved

Friday, July 06, 2007

On Birthdays

"Figlio, you're turning three soon. We're going to have a party to celebrate and invite the cousins. Won't that be fun? What would you like to do for your party? Should would get a Star Wars cake?"

"I want you to invite the men [meaning the landscaping crew] back. I want you to give everyone a big shovel and dangerous saw and we can go back into the wood and chop down trees."

"Honey that's not happening. How 'bout baseball. You want a baseball cake?"


"Figlio, you're turning four soon. What would you like to do for your party?"

"I want you to give everyone a big shovel and we can dig big holes in the grass."

"That's not happening. How 'bout dinosaurs? We could have a dinosaur pinata."

Groan. " I hate dinosaurs!"


"Figlio, your going to be five soon. Have you thought about what you want to do for your party?"

"Well... I know you're not going to let me have a fire birthday where we could start little fires all over the yard and give everyone a hose and let us put it out."


"Fgilio, how 'bout for your sixth birthday I buy a whole bunch of water guns and water balloons and we can invite all the kids from the neighborhood and break up into teams and have, like, a war only with water."

He rubs his chin. This is how he thinks. "All right."


"Figlio, you're turning seven soon. How 'bout we have a baseball party? Baseball is your life, after all."

"Mom, I've thought about this long and hard and I really, really want to do this. I want to take a car engine and stick baseballs in it. Then I want to light the balls on fire until they shoot off into the air. Of course, the engine will probably also catch on fire. But that's okay because we'll do t in the cul-de-sac and give everyone hoses.

"What? Why are you laughing?"

by C. C. Kurzeja
2006 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Baby, Hit Me One More Time

So first I was, like, called into a meeting at school concerning my son. I met the principal in his office with my son's teacher, the reading specialist, the language specialist, some other specialist and the school psychologist.

"See" the language specialist explained showing me her charts and graphs, "Figlio scored way above average in every area we test for language development."

I looked. But her assessment tests were meaningless to me. Besides, I already knew the kid was verbal.

"That's good. And how 'bout his speech?" My son has an open "r" and drops some of his blend sounds. "Is that normal for his age or does he need speech therapy?"

"Oh, no. " A woman assured me, "His speech is completely normal for his age. We aren't worried about that at all."

"Great." I said.

But the room felt heavy and glances were exchanged and nobody made a move to dismiss the meeting. My stomach flipped.

"It's just that," his teacher explained, "sometimes Figlio doesn't finish his seat work."

He pushed some worksheets in front of me as evidence. They were barely touched. And where work was completed it looked like a two-year old had scribbled on them.

Sometimes [heart-thump] Figlio [heart-thump] doesn't finish his seat work? [Heart-thump. Thump Thump]

Six professional stared at me with very concerned faces. My blood went cold.

"Well," I told his teacher, "make him finish his seat work. Or, I'll come in and make him."

His teacher squirmed. "It's just that, he's very difficult to keep focused in class."

"Extremely difficult." The language specialist agreed. "In fact, I retook all these tests while he was in his class and the results were way below average."

This sounded very bad to me. I panicked, started babbling. A slew of inane excuses flew off my tongue. "I home schooled him." "He's young for his grade." "My brother's dyslexic."

And then I turned on the water works. Not on purpose, mind you. I don't consider bawling an effective negotiating tactic. It's just that they came, big springs of water that dripped from my eyes, down my cheeks and off my chin. They are like a Roman invasion, my tears; I will be conquered.

Figlio's teacher, a young, single guy, was so embarrassed for me that I thought he was going to die or self-combust or something. At least, that's what he looked like he was trying to do with the way he turned red as a crushed tomato from the neck up and stared at his thumbs in the most desperately, pleading way. And even though he was sitting directly to my right, he could not turn his head to look at me. He couldn't even direct his eyeballs my way without flinching.

I felt so badly for the guy. I really wished I could stop the torrent just to make him more comfortable. But then I thought, "Nah, this will be good training for when he gets married someday."

The other men in the room, married fathers both, were apparently well acquainted with the peculiarities of the weaker sex. They handed me a box of tissues and let me have at my emotional release as we all discussed successful "strategies" for my son.

And then I was, like, in court attempting to reason my way out of a speeding ticket with the most adorably jejune earnestness.

The judge cut me off mid-sentence.

"Look. I have no ability to decide your guilt or innocence. If you want to plead not guilty you'll have to hire a lawyer and go to trial. But, to be honest, right now you're looking at three months suspended license and up to a thousand dollar fine."

I think I must have put a dent in the wood floor my jaw dropped so fast and hard. I'm a mother. I have three children to shuttle around, obligations, a life my husband depends upon me living. I simply could not not drive.

"The officer didn't tell me I was looking at a suspended license." I stammered.

And then came the flood. Huge, splashy teardrops that fell off my chin and watered the judges bench. I did not want to cry, but there I was.

There is a little, rational man who lives in the back of my brain who tried to get me stop.

"Get a hold of yourself, Flicka." He hollered in his sergeant's voice. "This is a racket. Your brother-in law served on the county board. You know how this works. They need revenue to make up for the tax base their missing because of all the businesses that have gone under due to their incompetent, lengthy road construction. Take out your checkbook and suck it up."

But I couldn't listen to reason. I just felt so vulnerable and abused at the moment. A fine, upstanding citizen like me who hasn't so much as had a parking ticket in over sixteen years being treated like a common criminal. Imagine! My feelings were very hurt.

So I flowed with the torrent and dripped tears while negotiating my fine, thanking the judge, standing in line and paying the clerk. No shame in that.

And then I was, like, hungry and nothing, nothing, sounded good. Until, a taste clawed onto the back of my pallet. I couldn't immediately discern its identity but I knew it was there. I stopped, tilted my chin to the the sky, and searched for it.

[Smacking my lips] "I feel like..." [Delicately touching the back of my jaw. More smacking. Trying to articulate.] "Spicy, blackened, grilled shrimp." I announced triumphantly. "With lime."

And then I was taking a shower and sudsing up my long hair when an invisible oppression sought to bring me down. The walls closed in. My hands dropped limp to my side. And I knew I had to vomit, NOW, in order to live. I barely had the strength to rinse my hair. Didn't bother with conditioner or combing out the tangles. I found that just toweling off and getting dressed was enough of a challenge for the day.

Later, I made an appointment to cut my hair -almost nine inches donated to Locks Of Love - into a chin-length bob. Very "au courant" I was told.

"Your head is so hot." the hairdresser repeatedly informed me. "You're like a furnace."

So then I did the perfunctory to confirm what I knew full well. I took a pregnancy test and passed with flying colors.

Baby number four will arrive just in time for the holidays.

by C. C. Kurzeja
2006 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Book Review: The Wrath Of Angels

In, The Wrath of Angels, the third novel in a series of angelic adventures written from a Christian world view, Theodore Beale has given us a fine piece of fiction.

At the core of this story is the spirit-realm throne of Albion, the ancient name for Britain, and those Fallen who would rule from it. The over-arching, pressing danger is that Diavelina, the treacherous daughter of Moloch, would come to reign upon that coveted throne. Moloch or Baal, as he is also known, is a Cannanite god who is always associated with fire and child sacrifice as he was worshiped by followers who passed their children through fire to appease him. According to Wrath mythology, it was Moloch who orchestrated Hitler's rise to power and then stoked his passion for incinerating Jews. Diavelina desires another such fiery winnowing across Europe.

What is not explained is why Diavelina would need Albion to accomplish such mortal destruction. One would think she'd be making a play for the principality of Germany, for example. A clue might be found in Prince Lucere, also called Gog Sheklah. A Shadow Sarim like Moloch, Gog is the biblical name for Russia, but is also found in ancient literature as one of two giants who protect the city of London. The giants, Gog and Magog, are Twice-Fallen. They are the offspring of Alba, the wicked daughter of a Roman emperor from which Albion is named and fallen angels. Perhaps the holocaust Diavelina desires is directed specifically at the children of London.

Whatever her reasons, Diavelina's intention is to war against the current ruler of Albion, a twisted and degenerate creature known as the Mad One, or Maomoondagh, and ascend to the throne in victory. But a winsome Fallen by the name of Robin Goodfellow, also known as Puck, conspires to dash Diavelina's plans by reinstating Oberon, King of the Fae, long deposed and imprisoned, upon his rightful throne assuming that the only divinity Diavelina would fear to oppose would be the newly regenerated and at once beloved Oberon.

In Puck, The Wrath of Angels, unfolds. It is primarily his story, his effort and machinations we follow as he travels across the Atlantic searching out swords, Mortals, Fallen and Divine, enlisting their aid to restore Oberon to his throne. And it isn't until the very end that Puck's stunning motivation for restoring Oberon's throne is revealed.

Theodore Beale describes himself as a writer of Christian Fantasy, and certainly The Wrath of Angels can fit into that category. I think that if you do not consider the Bible to be absolute truth then you will enjoy this tale as fantasy. But any student of God's word will immediately recognize within the characters and story a comprehensive theology through which the doctrines of angels, sin and forgiveness are illuminated, fleshed out, and animated. And as such, The Wrath of Angels,is more Christianity-Imaginatively-Expressed than Christian Fantasy.

In one telling scene, Christopher and Holli - adorable, teen, mortal protagonists - witness angelic beings during a church service. Christopher is overwhelmed by "the great web of divine light that bound together the people of God throughout all time and place. Man and angel, rock and beast; everything in creation that had freely chosen to submit its will to that of the Most High was linked together in a glorious and unbreakable chain of power." Indeed, Beale sees the Fallen world linked with a similar unbreakable chain of power. All myths, all gods, all places, religions, and objects that oppose Heaven's Most High are categorized and classified under the great canopy of Shadow World and Eternity in, The Wrath Of Angels. It is when and where those two great, warring webs of Divine and Fallen light intersect that I find this tale most delightfully thought provoking.

In Puck, fallen-Tho-He-Be, Beale manages to create a surprisingly comfortable and familiar protagonist. And he does so without erring towards blasphemy or common disrespect. I think it is his fresh and brilliant perspective that keeps him from that trap; that maybe, just maybe, we fallen mortals are more like fallen angels than not.

According to Beale, God is not in control on Earth in the way that, or how, many Christians assume. His understanding allows angels to act according to their own judgment based upon the desires of the Most High and is what brings the mortals, Fallen and Divine together to work towards a common goal. In one pivotal scene, Khasar the guardian angel explains to Holli the angel-whisperer, "We're God's hands, my dear. And do you know what else? Most of the time, He leaves us free to do as we think best. Some angels are serious about their responsibilities, some aren't. That's why you'll be judging us one day."

I enjoy Beale's wonderfully descriptive style. His narrative is like the fluff of beautiful imagery sandwiched between hard slices of fast-paced action scenes. He has an impressive and thoroughly enjoyable vocabulary and brandishes words as deftly as The Lord Of Chaos does his sword. Thankfully, missing from his style are the ubiquitous fragmented sentences just to make a point, and the one sentence paragraphs as though every statement were a profundity, and the italicized sentences to reveal the mind of the charatcter that litter so many pages in contemporary fiction. Out of the midst of the many references from sources as varied as archaic literature to contemporary rock bands, along with the thoughtful, observant unfolding of his tale, emerges a unique and strong voice.

Finally, Beale, an entertainer at heart, does not finish his tale with the perfunctory, "The End", but with "Closing Time". To which I reply, "Good show."

I can not mention this book without mentioning K & B Booksellers, the only place on Earth to purchase a copy of The Wrath of Angels for yourself.

"K&B Booksellers deals in used books. We carry the odd, the eclectic, and the unintentionally humorous. Being somewhat odd, eclectic, and at times unintentionally humorous ourselves, we stock what is perhaps an inordinate amount of science fiction, but are by no means limited to that genre. A good book is a good book, and when we find something interesting, unusual, and (this is important) in good condition, we will cheerfully make it available to you."

I was extremely impressed with the attention and service "k" gave to my order. I purchased my book on December 23rd and received it on the 24th. I almost fell over when I found it on my door step. I had written it off until after the New Year. She must have mailed off my book seconds after getting my order. I'm certain she'll show you the same thoughtful, professional attention.

K & B Booksellers.com can be found at The Ranting Room along with many wonderful insights, engaging conversations, fun contests and some really fine, sharp writing.

C. C. Kurzeja
2007 All Rights Reserved,