Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year: 2015: New beginnings.

Well 2014 has departed. May 2015 prove to be an improvement.

First of, I have started the New Year with my first post to the new Kurt's Frontier site on Wordpress. After Melissa Frye announced the Invincible Love of Reading would be going dormant due to health issues, was bummed. I had come to enjoy doing a review blog. I considered spinning Kurt's Frontier off, but I don't know much about html or coding. People began suggesting wordpress, and Melissa pointed me in that direction as well. My first review was Search for the Star Stones, by the late Andre Norton. I used another of my favorites The Forerunner Factor to be my inaugural review when I started with Invincible Love of Reading, so there is a certain amount of symmetry to it.

The New Year also finds my with my second novel in the Dreamscape Warriors series in production at Tate Publishing and Enterprises. This one is called Promise of Mercy. We are going through edits of the the first draft of the third book. I am actively working on two other books in that universe.

In the Spring Semester of 2015, I know I will be teaching Introduction to Anthropology at Manchester Community College in New Hampshire. I am waiting to see if enough people signup to take Introduction to Archaeology.

Things may not go as expected, but we have to remain confident as we walk into the New Year. 2015 is a blank slate, hence full of possibilities. Let's keep our eyes open and be ready to spring when opportunity knocks.

Wishing everyone the very best.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

End of the Road for Invincible Love of Reading

For those of you who have been following my review blog, Kurt's Frontier, I regret that I must inform you that the site that publishes Kurt's Frontier, Invincible Love of Reading will be ceasing taking reviews at the end of 2014. Once the December reviews are posted, Melissa Frye, affectionally known as Missy, will cease to up date the site, but will leave it up for the foreseeable future. She has been struggling with health issues, and after wrestling with the issue, made the correct decision that her health and writing needed to take priority. Missy has done an outstanding job with Invincible Love of Reading.

Missy invited me to do science fiction and fantasy reviews in February of 2014. I had been writing reviews of Amazon and Barnes & Noble for a number of years. In 2013, I discovered Goodreads and began posting there as well. I had been resisting getting into social networking, but as I became an author, I was told that it is a help in marketing the books. I didn't realize what other benefits could crop up. My first review was one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors, the late Andre Norton's Forerunner Factor.

I've been astounded that people actually have sought me out for reviews, and a little humbled. I try to review what comes my way because, as a new author myself, I know how vital reviews can be to success. I have enjoyed ever minute of it.

So what happens now? I will continue to do reviews on Goodreads and other sites. I am hoping that someone who runs a review site similar to Invincible Love of Reading will take an interest in my reviews. However, Invincible Love of Reading has been one of the highlights of my literary career, and I will always be grateful that I was given the chance and honored that people thought my reviews were of value to them.

I wish Missy all the best and hope her health improves. I will keep everyone informed of my status.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Writing out of order

Some people know this, other people don't, but I do not write the scene of my books in order. Sometimes the first scene written isn't even a key scene or a crisis point. Some times it's just an idea I have in my head for a scene, but doesn't yet have a story to go with it.

When I begin to seriously write a story, I start with a one word sentence. Then I do an outline of the crisis points. After that, I do a key scene outline. Finally I write a scene outline, where I start off trying to connect key scenes and crisis points with actual actions. All the way along, I am writing scenes. The number of scenes is in the hundreds. This is the key to being able to bounce around the story.

I've talked to several people who try to write in chronological order. I suppose the advantage is that is how stories are normally told to an audience. Also, you don't write something later on and find you don't have a way of connecting it to something you wrote previously.

However, people who want to write must accept the fact that they will change things, especially once the draft is out of the way. Scenes will be reordered, reworked, dropped, and added. That makes writing scenes in order very limiting.

Let me introduce something I'm currently working on: Legacy of Valor. For those who have read my first book and followed my contribution to the Work in Progress Character Blog Hop, you know the first book I've written in the Dreamscape Warrior Series was Price of Vengeance. Promise of Mercy is nearing the time when I will submit it to the publisher. Legacy of Valor can be considered Book 1.5. Liam finds himself commanding against a much bigger force. No spoilers but trying to figure out logistics, and how he will overcome three-to-one then six-to-one odds was a daunting prospect. 

So most of the battle scenes haven't been written yet. The reason is simple. I had no idea how Liam and his troops were going to survive the first encounter, let alone the entire novel. I took writing the end, which I've just begun doing, to clarify the answer. Jumping ahead forced me to consider the ways in which a small force can defeat a larger one.

At the Battle of Thermopylae, the Greeks stood off and delayed a much large army of Persians by using terrain to funnel the Persians down so the 300 Spartans faced manageable numbers. Major General John Buford used a similar tactic at Gettysburg to stack up the Confederate while the rest of the Union Army arrived.

I finally have my answer and can start working on the preceding scenes. Writing scenes out of order allows the writer to explore different ideas at different points. It also helps in the development of a character. You may discover something that you can bring backwards. How do you know what scene to write next. I usually go with what feels right at the moment.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Work in Progress Character Blog Hop--Deirdre O'Connor

To start off, I would like to thank Melissa Keir  for inviting me to this WIP Blog Hop. Melissa writes romance short stories like Chalkboard Romance, Second Times a Charm, and Protecting His Wolfe. Melissa’s Bio:

Fortunately for me, my husband allows me the opportunity to be myself (spend my salary on books) and still takes care of the really important things for me like killing spiders and opening
jars. As an elementary teacher, teaching children about the many worlds inside of books is a gift that I’m lucky enough to do for a living. Teaching the next generation to love reading is a lot of fun! Reading the right book can make a new world come alive!
Currently living in the suburbs of Ann Arbor, Michigan with my darling husband, way-too-grown-up children and spoiled dogs, I enjoy getting away through a book to escape the harsh winters or summer road construction.
I’d love to hear from you!

Onward to my entry into the Work In Progress Character Blog Hop:

Kurt D. Springs is presently an adjunct professor of anthropology and archaeology in New Hampshire. He holds a PhD. in anthropology from the State University of New York at Buffalo, as well as a Master of Literature in archaeology from the National University of Ireland, Galway, and a Master of Liberal Arts in anthropology and archaeology from the Harvard University Extension School. His main area of interest is megalithic landscapes in prehistoric Ireland.

Kurt writes reviews on Kurt's Frontier for Invincible Love of Reading. He also has an author blog, Amazon Author Page, and is on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Goodreads, and LinkedIn. Price of Vengeance has it's own Facebook page as well.

Professor Springs currently lives in Manchester, New Hampshire.


1. What is the name of your character?  Is she fictional or a historic person?

The name of the main character is Corporal Deirdre O’Connor who, with her sisters Bayvin and Aisling, have completed there advanced training with the Finnian Shock Forces. As the book is science fiction, she would be a fictional character.

2. When and where is the story set?

The setting of the story is approximately 1000 years in the future and 25 years after the events of Price of Vengeance. The war between the Galactic Alliance and the Rebellion is still on going and Deirdre’s father is a veteran of several engagements.

3. What should we know about her?

Deirdre is one of three daughters of Liam and High Priestess Celinia, who were married at the end of Price of Vengeance. She also has a little brother who is 15-years-old that she is very protective of. She has the red hair and green eyes of her mother, but the temperament of her father. All of her siblings have strong abilities to dreamwalk and step out of time. Deirdre inherited her father’s skill as a marksman and has strong leadership abilities. Note, Deirdre is the subject of a previous blog, On The Cutting Room Floor.

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up her life?

At the beginning of the story, her parents are kidnapped. Her mother is being held in the main Temple of the Creator on the planet Etursci. Her father has been sent to Earth, which was abandoned 400 years ago. While there, Liam discovers a plot by the Rebels to use ancient alien technology to turn the tide of the war.

5. What is the personal goal of the character?

Deirdre’s goal is to lead her siblings to rescue her parents and stop the Rebels from using their new terror weapon.

6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The title of the book is Promise of Mercy. There is a teaser on my website at As the production process gets underway, a blurb and some facts may be posted later.

7. When can we expect the book to be published?

The book will be heading to the publisher by the end of August. The production process at Tate Publishing and Enterprises can take up to a year. So the official release date might be in September 2015, roughly speaking.

I have six invitees to this blog hop.

1. Jessica Lauryn:

An author of Contemporary Romantic Suspense, Jessica Lauryn is most intrigued by dark heroes, who have many demons to conquer…but little trouble enticing female companions into their beds! She feels that the best romances are those where the hero is already seducing the heroine from that first point of contact.

When she’s is not writing, Jessica enjoys listening to as much 80’s music as possible, shopping for the latest fashions and the prettiest of antiques, and taking long walks in nature where she can daydream about anything romantic. Though she resides in Central New Jersey, her heart belongs to the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire.

2. Mark Bordner (Sadly, Mark Bordner was forced to bow out of the Blog hop do to illness. He still has a great new book that I encourage people to read: The Mighty First Episode 2: The Children's War. Check out my review on Invincible Love of Reading.)

Mark Bordner veteran of the U.S Navy, husband, father of three, in that order.

I love to read sci-fi, and enjoy writing it even more. Having kids that are of young adult reading age, I was concerned with a lot of the gore, and sexual innuendo out there that they get bombarded with every day.

This is why my series has none of that. My books are written with my own teens in mind, with what I, as a parent, would feel comfortable with them reading. 

To spice it up, I also decided to offer guest roles to the readers. How often does one get to see themselves as a character in a writer's books? It's all about the reader having fun with it. 

I write for all of you. Enjoy ☺

3. Andi O’Connor (Just like Deirdre’s last name!)

Andi O'Connor is the award winning author of the fantasy series The Dragonath Chronicles, The Vaelinel Trilogy, and The Legacy of Ilvania. Andi's first YA novel, Silevethiel, was named to Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2013. Her short story Redemption, is a Kindle Book Review, 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semifinalist. Andi is a member of the National Writers Association and the Boston Chapter of the Women's National Book Association. She currently resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, son, and four dogs. You can connect with Andi on Twitter @OConnorAndi and on Facebook at

4. Aoife Marie Sheridan:

Aoife Marie Sheridan has loved reading from a very young age, starting off with mills and boon's books, given to by her grandmother her love for romances grew, by the age of 14 she had read hundreds of them. 

Aoife had a passion for writing poetry or in her eyes her journal entries. It was something she did throughout her teens and into her twenties. Aoife won first place for two of her poems and had them published at a young age of just nineteen. Realising she needed to get a real job (What writing isn't) she studied accountancy and qualified working in that field for many years, until her passion for reading returned and she found Maria V Snyder. Poison study one of her favourite books has been read and re-read countless times. 

Aoife's first book Eden Forest (Part one of the Saskia Trilogy) came to be after a dream of a man and woman on a black horse jumping through a wall of fire and the idea of Saskia was born. Now with her first novel published and taking first place for Eden Forest with Writers Got Talent 2013, Aoife continues to write tales of fantasy and is currently working on her third book for the Saskia Trilogy amongst other new works. To find out more about Aoife Marie Sheridan you can visit her at:

Twitter: @aoifesheri

5. Adi Rule:

Adi Rule is a writer/cat lackey from New Hampshire. YA novel STRANGE SWEET SONG is out now from St. Martin's Press, 
REDWING forthcoming. When the cats approve, Adi also sings in the chorus of the Boston Symphony Orchestra/Boston 

My blog -- (the post will be here)
My website --

6. D. W. Craigie:

A New Hampshirite, born and raised, D.W. Craigie hails from the North Country.  Reading and writing are life-long passions for this mountain boy, and he believes the written word is the soul and cornerstone of any society.  Without words of inquiry our minds stagnate.  Without stories of hope and loss our hearts grow shallow.  To the best of his ability he has tried to convey that passion for writing in this, his first novel.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Writing Reviews

One thing you will hear from time-to-time is that author's live and die by their reviews. I don't think truer words have ever been spoken. One review certainly won't make or break a book, but the most powerful marketing tool ever devised is still word-of-mouth. Especially in this day of Indie and Small Press authors, it is important to let a book's potential audience know what you think. Now you don't need a degree in English or journalism to write a review. You don't need to be on staff at a magazine or newspaper. Most online bookstores like Barnes and Noble, BAM, Amazon, iBooks, Copia, Kobo, etc. have a place with each book that the general audience can write a review. There are also sites such as Goodreads whose whole reason for existing is to bring authors and readers together. Goodreads is the one social networking site for writers and readers I know of. I'm sure there are others. If you know of any, just put them in the comment field below.

"Yes, Kurt," you say, "but how do you write a review?"

Most of these sites have a star rating system they start at one star for bad and go up to five stars for really really good. This is a good place to start. Note, most places will let you change your mind. So the first thing I think of is, "How much do I like this book." This is a technique I learned doing quality control in graphic arts. Look at the overall piece and give an overall impression.

There are a couple of ways to go from here, but remember, you will have to justify your impression at some point.

Some people like to start off with a synopsis. In other words, without dropping spoilers, what is the story about? As an adjunct professor, students ask me about writing a synopsis frequently. In three to five sentences, you need to describe the conflict and goals of the protagonist and antagonist. A basic format to follow is:

1. Who are the protagonist and antagonist?
2. What do they want to achieve by the end of the story?
3. What is that first crisis that sets the protagonist and antagonist in collision?
4. You can through in a few details such as love interests and reversals if you think it adds to the synopsis without giving the story away.

Not every review I've seen on Amazon includes a synopsis, but it can be helpful in letting a potential reader know if the story might excite them.

Now comes the hard part: justifying your rating. You gave three stars (for the sake of argument). What kept it from being four? What saved it from being two? The easiest thing to do is ask yourself "What was good about it?" Did you like the characters? Could you identify with them? How was the dialogue? Many otherwise great stories come apart because of dialogue. Is it believable? Is it to awkward or stiff. Is it too formal or academic. Conversely does it flow naturally. Was the story line believable, in the context of the genre? This can be difficult in the cases of science fiction or fantasy. The characters are able to do things we can't do in our world. In the cases of these two genre, a better question is, "Did the author help me to suspend my disbelief." Suspending disbelief means that the author has sucked you into the story before you have a chance to question the facts and validity of how they make things work. However, sometimes the author does something that bounces the reader out of that accepting mode and has them looking around, wondering how they got to this point. 

A good example for me is Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. I liked Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade. The Crystal Skull was far better than the Temple of Doom. Where did it fall apart? For me, it was the introduction of the aliens. Don't get me wrong, I have an open mind about extraterrestrials and whether or not they visit Earth. My problem was the cliché way they were handled. The old, alien standby, the Grays, along with other things that have appeared before. I think the writers got lazy and were relying on special effects here. Everything that the characters did up to that point just fell apart. My suspended disbelief came crashing to earth.

Another thing to look at is spelling and grammar. Were their any typos that really made you stub your toe? You don't have to go digging for them. I know of many good works were there are a few typos sprinkled in. In most cases, if the writing is good, they're easy to miss. I'm talking, are there many mistakes that keep jarring you out of the flow of the story.

Now some etiquette.

"What do I do if I just don't like a book?" As painful as it may be, honesty is the best policy. That being said, there is no reason to be mean. My policy it that, if a book falls below three stars, I have to make a hard shift to constructive criticism. Try really hard to find something I like and start with that. It is always best to start with the positive. Indie authors have one advantage over traditionally published authors. It's easier to correct mistakes if you're self-published. I had one person come back to me after I reviewed a book that had fallen short and asked me to review the updated version. Vast improvement.

"What if it's just not something I normally read?" In many cases, it's is best to say so from the get go. If the book is an exception and you really liked it, then the author should be flattered. If it was what you expected, you can say something like "People who usually read this type of story will probably like it." I'd try to be a little more diplomatic, but the author can't expect a glowing review if you don't even like the genre. If you do like a story that is otherwise in a genre you don't read, it is a pleasant surprise. This is also a case where you can consider punting and not leaving a review.

One other point: If you didn't read it don't review it. Yes, you may find the cover or title problematic, but as the old saying goes, "Never judge a book by its cover." If you think the cover or title are objectionable, then read the book before making the final  judgment. If you find it surprisingly good, the author may appreciate knowing that the title or cover aren't having the desired effect.

That is pretty much how I do it now. It is a process that evolved over time. You may want to add things or drop some of the things I do. I don't pretend my way is the only, or even best, way to review a story. I merely hope that it provides a good starting point for the would-be casual reviewer.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Price of Vengeance July 21 to July 28

I want to thank Mark Bordner for inviting me to this Blog Tour/Hop. Mark is the author of the Might First series. We both share an interest in military science fiction.

1) What am I working on?
I am currently working on three projects. First, I am working on getting a draft from the third book in the Dreamscape Warriors Novels. The title of this book is the Gift of Peace. It takes place after twelve years after Promise of Mercy, which currently going to the publisher. It involves Liam and Celinia’s son, Aidan. He has helped his sisters on an unofficial raid on a Rebel installation. His sisters get the complete schematics of an ancient alien warship. A copy of this information is entrusted to Aidan to deliver to the Finnian Intelligence Service. He plans to drop it off on the way to a neutral world with his Great Aunt, Colonel Máire O’Connor and his twelve year old sister, Tetia. However, an old enemy wants that data back. I am currently writing a book that falls between Price of Vengeance and Promise of Mercy, entitled Legacy of Valor. It tells the story of one of the deployments Liam went on when Etrusci still fielded an expeditionary force to fight against the Rebellion. I am also working on another novel in the series that takes place six hundred years prior, called Mark of Courage. It tells the story of Liam’s illustrious ancestor, Aisling O’Connor, when she lead the Finnian in revolt against their creators.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
As far as I can tell, I am the only one who writes Paranormal, Military Science Fiction. The first science fiction author I truly became a fan of was the late Andre Norton. She wrote books such as the Witch World series, the Solar Queen series, and the Forerunner series. I especially enjoyed her Forerunner series, which deals with an ancient civilization that became extinct long before humanity lifted off. Many of her science fiction novels dealt with what we call, paranormal powers or ESP. People could receive impressions from ancient artifacts or communicate telepathically. Later I became a fan of military science fiction. I’ve recently read Philip Richards Union series, and of course Mark Bordner’s Mighty First Episode 1. I am also a huge fan of the Halo universe of video games on the XBox.

In the Dreamscape Warrior novels, I decided to combine these two favorites of mine. Liam and his children have telepathic and empathic abilities that allow them to seemingly move very quickly, communicate over vast distances, or even go some place while leaving their bodies behind. I realized that all these things would be of great value in a military setting. However, people on the other side had to be able to use these abilities as well, or there would be no point in writing the story. You also have to add in limiting factors.

3) Why do I write what I do?
I started writing Price of Vengeance in earnest after I graduated with my PhD and no jobs in archaeology were forth coming. I had the original idea when I was doing my master’s degree in Ireland: a young warrior trapped out side a city when monsters attack. I envisioned him not being native to the city and a group of people wouldn’t like him. This group was also ambitious and decided to betray their people for power. I also had the idea that a woman of some power would become his love interest. I went to Buffalo, NY in 2004 to start working and preparing to go to graduate school. I was staying with a colleague when I fist wrote down the initial outlines. Once graduate school started, I put the story aside to focus on a career. I eventually defended my dissertation and graduated with a PhD in Anthropology (archaeology focus) in 2010. In 2008 the economy had tanked, and things hadn’t gotten any better by the time I graduated. I spent a good while sending out my CV to various institutions.

I finally picked the story up again and began creating a more extensive outline and writing scenes. As I went along, the political discussion became more heated. That is where I got the idea to place Price of Vengeance against the backdrop of an interstellar civil war. In many respects, it is a warning to contemporary society. Regardless of political orientation, people have to learn to put their arguments in perspective. The consequences of not doing this are that people will lose faith in the political process. Words will be replace by weapons, and people will turn on each other. It happened once in the 1860s. We shouldn’t think it can’t happen again.

4) How does your writing process work?
I write plotted stories following the three act model. I begin with an idea. This gets written down in a one sentence statement. For instance “Warrior must save city from monsters.” After that I pick out the three principle key scenes: the first crisis, the midpoint, and the final crisis. Then I create more key scenes in groups of three. Three that lead up to the first crisis, three that lead up to the midpoint, three that lead up to the final crisis, and three scenes for the resolution. All during this process I am writing test scenes and key scenes to help me when I finally create my Scene Outline. This is where I outline all the scenes I plan to use in the book. Some of these scenes will be removed and new ones added, but it gives me an idea of what I want the book to look like. Once that is done, it’s a mater of writing the scenes. This process means I don’t have to write chronologically. The scenes can be written in any order. After the draft is done, edit, edit, edit. Then you edit some more. After it’s submitted to a publisher, it will go to there editor. The editing process is important. Many people lose patience with a book with lots of typos and grammatical errors.

My invitee to this blog tour/hop is Aoife Marie Sheridan, author of the Saskia Trilogy. Saskia is a world that parallels ours and is about a young woman named Sarajane. Her first two books of the series or Eden Forest and City of Secrets, with The Rise of the Queen coming soon. She has other novels in the works and we can expect Hunters soon. She also runs Saski Book Tours. Check out her author page at

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Crystal Collier Cover Reveal for Soulless

Hi all,

I am doing something new with my website. I agreed to host a cover reveal. To be accurate, I agreed to be one of the hosts to the afore mentioned cover reveal.

Crystal Collier did me the honor of asking to host the cover reveal of Soulless, part of her Maiden of Time series. The cover art is absolutely gorgeous. My brother, Gary, who administers my website for me (I'm hopeless with html.), did a wonderful job with her reveal page, in my humble opinion. We had to tweak it a little today after someone tweeted an announcement that attributed the book to me. It was an easy mistake. Gary rectified the situation. He undid the master page and put her picture and information at the top. Then we added her name prominently in the link from my home page.

Crystal Collier lives in Florida with her family. Her first book, Moonless, is available through Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, iBook, as well as other retailers.

The review I wrote back in December 2013 is as follows:

Crystal Collier's novel, Moonless, is set in 1768. Alexia is a girl who is different. Everything changes when she turns sixteen. She finds that she is more than human. Abilities start to manifest, starting with the ability to see the future. She is haunted by a man with deep blue eyes, creatures with red eyes, and a young, vicious girl.

It starts out a little confusing, but soon settles out and becomes a page turner as you get into it. Crystal Collier keeps the plot tight, though handling the subplots can be a little shaky at times.
I know I am anxiously waiting for October when the sequel, Soulless is released.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Use of Swearing in Writing

There are things in life that stir up the passions of opposing points of view. Politics, social issues, religion, even flavors of ice cream. One of the biggest is what is or is not appropriate for what age of child.

One thing that seems to stir parents ire and get some writers talking about the First Amendment are the use of swear words. Before I go further, I will state now and for the record, I am a firm believer in the First Amendment. It is, perhaps, the most important amendment in the Bill of Rights. The dangers of restricting it greatly out weigh the dangers of its abuse. So a writer is perfectly free to use four letter words in their writing. Conversely, parents will object to things they don't like. Legally, all they can do is complain. They can also not allow the minor child under their care to read said publication. Often left out of the debate is that such speech must not infringe on the rights of others. I'd say that neatly ties up the constitutional part of this blog.

Now, what is the problem with swearing? People have been swearing since language was invented. Almost as long, mothers have been threatening to wash their children's mouthes out with soap. My mother had a swear jar. Anyone who used a bad word in the house contributed 25¢ to our household budget. As it became more acceptable to swear in popular culture, mothers found their efforts being undermined.

The explanation came in a St. Anselm College theology class, one day while sleep--, -err, sitting through Introduction to Theology. The words themselves weren't the actual problem. However, their original use had them reserved for when someone was upset. Early man bashing his thumb with a hammer stone, for instance. The language was different, but the words probably were pretty much the same as what one of us would use today. The problem arises when these words are used casually. The coarser the language used casually, the fewer emotional safety valves we leave ourselves for when we're really angry. Eventually, they lose their normal punch, and punching may be all that is left.

With this in mind, I made an effort to tone it down in my writing. In someways, it is actually liberating. I just say he swore. "The chitin had them surrounded. He swore." "'Sir, we've got a problem.' He muttered under his breath." My favorite. A Finnian soldier is told that their flank is being turned. She will "unleash a paint blistering Finnian oath." It leaves what is actually said to the imagination. In my case, it alleviates the problem of the fact that soldiers are notorious for harsh language.

Another factor is that words often have multiple meanings and no one quite agrees on what is or is not a swear. Take for example, the Judeo-Christian prohibition on "taking the Lord's name in vain." This one caught me off guard. I am a good Catholic and make a special effort in this regard. When a reviewer commented outside the review about taking "the Lord's name in vain." I was a little taken aback. I had not, at least intentionally, used the Lord's name in vain. I did a bit of research on Google. Agree or disagree, the following site will bring home the point that in the modern world, we don't agree on precisely what taking the Lord's name in vain really means: Those of you who have read Price of Vengeance will note I use the term Creator. As such, it can be part of exclamations. It was the use of "Creator" in an exclamation that the reviewer was objecting to. Did I agree with the reviewer? Yes and no. I didn't feel that a blanket prohibition of using the Lord's name in an explanation was necessary. One often call upon God in distress, even people who aren't religious. One could make several arguments exclamations aren't disrespectful but a cry for help, call to witness, a plea to be present, even a request of patience. On the other hand, I will be looking closely at such exclamations in my next novels.

Will I ever use this reviewer again? Yes. I don't know whether she agrees with my reasoning, but she does understand that I do take such things seriously, and I have the utmost respect for her and her views.

As a person who does reviews, do I "take points off" for swearing? Not as such. I might if I think they are distracting, hence dragging the pace of the plot.

To my author friends, I am not saying that you must not swear. You are well within your rights just as people are free to either object or not buy your book. I am suggesting you keep in mind the reason's behind the objection.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Deus Ex Machina

Deus ex Machina, or the God out of the Machine. What is it precisely? It's original reference comes from Greek plays. It means the day is saved through an act of God. As a basic example, let us imagine we are in a Greek amphitheater watching a play. The end of the play is coming, and the protagonist is fighting with the antagonist. The antagonist is a better warrior and soon the protagonist is flat on his back with the antagonist's spear hovering over the protagonist's heart. And you think "Ah-ha! This is going to be a tragedy." Suddenly, Zeus appears and strikes down the antagonist, saving the day. If you were to see such a play, you would probably leave the amphitheater feeling unsatisfied.

So what happened? The playwright likely found that he had written himself into a corner and had a time crunch. Thus, he chose a simple resolution. However, the audience was asking themselves "Where did Zeus come from." Zeus appeared only at the end. There was no mention of Zeus anywhere. The protagonist now seems cheapened, since he had nothing to do with the antagonist's defeat.

The advent of author's self-publishing has been a double edged sword. Authors who might otherwise be ignored by swamped publishers because the authors didn't include vampires, zombies, or some other "in thing," have an outlet for their creativity that can provide them with at least some additional income. On the other hand, quite of few of these self published authors have made beginners mistakes. Some of these mistakes are worse than others.

I won't mention names, since  I don't want to embarrass anyone. I've read science fiction's novel that began brilliantly. It was exciting. The concept was intriguing and fresh. However, I got to the end, and these aliens came out of no where and saved the day. It was a disappointing ending. In some Christian science fiction novels I've read, an evil immortal enemy is about to win when angles appear and defeat them.

What is the problem? Usually, people expect the protagonist to do something in the end.

So how does the author save the story? One thing they could do is rewrite that part so the antagonist does the work. However, suppose the story is better served is he doesn't? As in the Christian example, it could be a morality tale about trust in something greater than yourself. It can be tricky, but the author's who get away with it best will set it up early. The antagonist could be told that he has to reach a certain spot and perform a certain ritual before the angles come. Perhaps he or she has to find certain relics to perform this ritual. That way, the audience is blindsided. Second, it is established that the protagonist can't do it alone but does need to do certain things himself before he can get help.

I have read many, otherwise excellent novels that fall apart at the end due to the author skipping important steps.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Kurt's Frontier: New Book Review Blog

Hi Folks,

As any who follow me may know, I do review books on Goodreads as well as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, depending on where I got the book.

I now also write reviews on Invincible Love of Reading under Kurt's Frontier. I am their Science Fiction/Fantasy guy. It's an exciting time for me. You can check it out at Thanks for that, Melissa.

How do I decide what to put up there. First, pretty much sci/fi and fantasy. Second, I take a mouth full and spit it into a fire. If it causes a potentially lethal explosion ... Okay, just kidding. I prepick the books from my TBR (to-be-read, for those who don't know). It's a combination of what looks interesting and a bit of "eeny meeny miny moe". That way I don't do too much cherry picking. This leaves open the possibility of a bad review.

I make that decision at the beginning of the month. When done, I write a review. If you see something along the lines of "Review to come" it means I want the review to appear on Kurt's Frontier first. That is usually the third Wednesday of the Month. That weekend I put it on goodreads with the stipulations that appeared on Invincible Love of Reading first. 

I will guarantee an honest opinion in any review I write. I will also say that (at least from this point on) I will post my reviews at least on goodreads. I will not guarantee it will appear on Kurt's Frontier, even if you ask.

I reserve to myself the right to refuse to review a book, as do most reviewers, professional, semi-professional, and amateur. So far, I don't turn many books away, but that could change, depending on my work load. Remember I write myself and I teach. It can also depend on the level of interest or how big my TBR pile is getting.

Thank you to those who follow my reviews. I hope you continue to find them useful.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

On the Cutting Room Floor

Part of the reason this post is so late is that I really wasn't sure what to write about. Now I've got something.

I was once told that Mark Twain's wife use to edit his books for him. His biggest complaint was that she always made him take out his favorite parts. I don't know what was in those parts, but I can make some good guesses.

I had just such a moment myself recently while going over the sequel for Price of Vengeance, Promise of Mercy. Not to give too much away, but it takes place approximately 25 years after the events of Price of Vengeance. For those of you who may not have read the book, the hero, Liam, has married the girl he loved, Celinia. In the intervening years, they have had four children. The oldest are identical triplet girls, Deirdre, Aisling, and Bayvin. They also have a son named Aidan. The girls have just completed their advanced military training.

Okay, there's the background. The problem came up when one of the pivotal characters who was allied with the antagonist, was being uncooperative. He was basically threatened with castration. It was a great series of scenes that built one on top of the other. First, Deirdre's uncle hinted that she had made an enemy eat his own privates. (It was a bluff.) She later built on this to make him order his people to surrender. (She told him that if he did, he'd get to keep his lovely baritone voice.) There was one other part where this came into play, but I think that's enough.

Like Mark Twain, I have an editor. I call her Mom. She raised some objections to this sequence of scenes. Primarily, the first book was made to be readable by a younger crowd. I was stubborn. I put a lot of work into those scenes. I rationalized that kids no more about these things than adults want to believe. It shouldn't be a problem.

My warning signs should have been how much fun I had writing them. The person who taught me about plotting (see last blog) warned me that this could often be the case. He's also the one who told me about Mark Twain.

So what made me see the light? My brother gave a manuscript to my 11 year old niece. When she got to that part she went to her mother and said, "Should I be reading this?"

Don't you hate it when mom's right?

Moral of the story. There is no part of your prose that is so sacred that you might not have to sacrifice it. Remember (and I think I'm paraphrasing one of my teachers) you don't judge great writing by the quality of what you put in, but by the quality of what you take out. If great things have to go to make the story work as it should, then take it as a good sign.n

Saturday, March 1, 2014

What kind of story do you write?

There are many ways to categorize stories. We often do it by genre (popular, romance, science fiction, etc.), length (short story, novelette, novella, novel, etc.), even by audience (children's, young adult, etc.) So one may ask, "What do you mean, 'what kind of story do I write?'"

I am talking about the story writing process. When I was first learning to write, the person teaching me told me there were three kinds of stories: plotted stories, episodic stories, and twist end stories. In this post, I decided to explore these story telling techniques, passing on, not only what I learned way back when I was learning, but what I've discovered since then.

Two terms that I will be throwing about are protagonist and antagonist. Typically, there is only one of each. In each corner, there may also be a cast of pivotal characters. However, the action mostly focuses on the protagonist and antagonist. It is tempting to think of them as the "hero" and "villain" but they need not be. In a romance novel, for instance, the protagonist can be the heroine and the antagonist is actually her love interest.

Plotted Stories

Plotting is a loaded term in story telling. Many people, regardless of which method they use to tell their story, "plot" their story. In other words, they outline the events as they occur in their stories. That means almost every story is "plotted." However, "plotted" is a very specific style of story telling.

Plotted stories have specific crisis points where certain things must happen to drive the story forward and must have a beginning, middle, and end. Yes, this is true for all types of stories. However, these points are absolutely critical to a plotted story. Before the first crisis is the set up. This is the protagonists normal, every day world. One can think of this as the First Act. The first crisis is where everything changes. Suddenly, the protagonist and antagonist are in collision.

As Act Two begins, the protagonist is usually trying to come to grips with what happened and bring him or herself to an "even keel." The second major crisis usually serves to turn the story around and send it off into a new direction. Perhaps the protagonist temporarily gains the upper hand. Perhaps the antagonist changes the game, forcing the protagonist to change directions. One way or another, things are now different. As I learned it back then, the second crisis came in the middle of Act Two. I typically think of it at Act IIa and Act IIb. Some people decided that it was really four acts rather than three. That is really up to the author.

At the end of Act IIb (or Act III if you prefer) comes the third crisis. Putting it in action adventure terms, the antagonist has the protagonist over a barrel and bad things are about to happen. This leads to the Final Act, or resolution. The protagonist does something to disrupt the antagonist’s plans. Then all the threads come together and bring the story to a conclusion.

Let's go over some other characteristics of a plotted story. Typically they only deal with a limited amount of time. Sometimes an author could using the time limit to place extra tension on the plot. The fact of the matter is that the more time goes on; the harder it is to keep a story tightly plotted. If the plot loosens too much, you could end up with an episodic story.

The advantage of using a plotted story is that it keeps the tensions screwed tight, which in turn keeps your audiences attention. It can be used for any length of story successfully. One disadvantage is that it isn't as easy as it sounds. Many a story starts out plotted and ends up episodic. Another danger is that even when the plotting is successfully executed, it could end up being formulaic. Some romance series are notorious for that. They have a series of bullet points that every author must follow, sometimes taking the character's out of the equation. As one friend put it, you can end up with two dimensional characters simply going through the motions. The best formula is a character driven plot with a plot driven story. Characters are always the key.

Episodic Stories

Episodic stories are stories that are only very loosely plotted if at all. In essence, it is more a series of shorter stories or adventures that combine to make a complete story. Back when I was learning, I was taught that episodic stories were weaker than plotted stories. Since those days, I've learned that this supposition is open to debate. Some of the most successful tales out there are very episodic. Some even get made into successful motion pictures.

Successful episodic stories should have good general outline that contains the underlying current of the conflict between protagonist and antagonist. The more like a plotted story it is, the greater its chance of success.

How else do Episodic Stories differ from plotted stories? Usually, the length of time they deal with is much longer, weeks, months, even years, whereas a plotted story usually deals with no more than a week. For instance, an episodic story can take place over a school year, or a lifetime.

In general, episodic stories are more successful as novels and epics, primarily because of the length of time. I've seen a few attempts at short stories, but they degrade into an outline of events. There is no time for details.

Twist End Stories

Twist end stories are different from both plotted stories and episodic stories. That is not to say that they shouldn't be very well planned out for successful execution. In general, the audience is led down a particular path, only to have their expectations stood on their head at the end of the story. These are most successful as short stories since they tend to break down if things go on for too long.

As a forinstance, a person must go to a certain place. They board a train and suddenly find it a struggle to stay on the train. When the train finally reaches its destination, the hero finds they were on the wrong train.

Summing Up

These are three basic ways stories can be told. That isn't to say that a story is all one thing or another. Plotted stories have had twist ends. Episodic stories have an underlying theme. Don't let the categories limit you. They are there to be tools, not masters.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

February 24: What is up?

Welcome again.

Snow's finally clear from the sidewalks and back parking area. I am running out of places to put it.

I've got my first book event! Manchester Community College (the one in New Hampshire) will be holding a prelaunch book signing on March 3, 2014, 1-3 pm. I've got Price of Vengeance ready to go and am anxiously anticipating the event. I will be signing books, reading excerpts, etc. Sadly, this event won't be open to the general public as MCC will be in session. Still, it's a start. Don't worry, I will be expanding my horizons if the snow ever gives me a break.

What's happening on the writing front?

Well, book 2, the Promise of Mercy is going through revisions. Parts of chapter one may have to be sacrificed as it is still bogging down. Mark Twain always used to complain that his wife made him take out his favorite parts. It takes place 25 years after Price of Vengeance. Liam's daughters have just finished their advanced training in the Finnian Shock Force. It involves high orbital drops. (BTW Deirdre, Aisling, and Bayvin are identical triplets. My brother asks why I would do that to the poor guy. :-)) It will also introduce his teenage son, Aidan, and his bear-lizard best friend, Ted.

I'm letting book 3, Gift of Peace, lie fallow for a bit. It takes place twelve years after Promise of Mercy. Aidan is now a pilot in the Alliance Unified Fleet.

I am in the process of creating two more novels in the Dreamscape Warrior series. In Mark of Courage I am going back 600 years to explore the origins of the Finnian. I'm also working on a novel that takes place between Price of Vengeance and Promise of Mercy. For those who like volume number, consider it volume 1.5. Its working title is Legacy of Valor. Please note, these are working titles and are subject to change.

Finally, my website is up. My brother, Gary did a great job with it. Take a look. Don't forget to like it.

That's it for now.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Welcome to my Author Blog.

Welcome to my Author Blog. Here I plan to post events, how things are going with my writing, important dates, etc.

For those of you who might have wandered in here by accident rather than design, Welcome anyway. My name is Kurt D. Springs. I am a science fiction author. My first book is scheduled for an official launch date of April 22, 2014. However, I am planning prelaunch events that will be announced as they are finalized.

The book, Price of Vengeance, is currently available at Tate Publishing's website, if you are can't wait for it to show up at your normal book purchasing website.

Price of Vengeance is a Dreamscape Warrior Novel that takes place 1000 years into the future (give or take) on a planet called Etrusci. It is the story of Liam, foster son of Marcus and Lidia. Liam was orphaned at the age of two and a half by giant carnivorous insects called chitin. High Councilor Marcus and his wife, Lidia, adopted him and raised him with their older son Randolf. As an adult, Liam joined the Neo-Etruscan security forces as a soldier.

Liam is cut off from the city by an explosion that cracks his ribs. He discovers that their is an intelligence behind the chitin and a traitor inside the city. Upon his return, he finds that his beloved foster parents have been murdered under the orders of the traitor who was also responsible for the death of his birth parents. His quest for vengeance may cost him more than he realizes as he approaches his final confrontation.

If you want to download the Prologue and Chapter 1 just click the following link. Price of Vengeance-Teaser.