Perfect Glass by Laura Anderson Kurk, a sequel to Glass Girl
Today I'm talking with Laura Anderson Kurk
. If you know me, then you probably know by now, she and I are kindred writing spirits. Although she lives in Texas, and I live in Ohio, there are times when I grab my phone and start dialing before I've even thought about it, because I NEED to talk to her. And almost daily there are instances, when my fingers fly across my keyboard consulting, celebrating and commiserating with her over "writing stuff". Tomorrow she releases Perfect Glass,
the sequel to her novel, Glass Girl.
You will fall in love with it! Today we discuss how Perfect Glass
came to be, so tomorrow you'll be ready to dive into a book that will absolutely absorb you.
You write Perfect Glass from two point of views, Henry and Meg. Was this difficult?
When I first wrote Perfect Glass, the entire story was from Henry's POV. I loved it. My agent and editor didn't. They felt the book would be enjoyed by more readers if I added Meg's voice. That's why you'll find the switching narration. And now that the book is done, I see how much stronger it is to have both points of view. Both stories show the development in Meg and Henry and allow readers to see Meg through Henry's eyes and to see Henry through Meg's eyes. Getting to write Henry's words as he describes Meg's beauty and how much he loves her, was my favorite part of writing this book.
Readers wonder if writing from multiple POVs is difficult. The difficulty (as you know) is in making sure you're staying true to each character's voice and tone. Readers are sensitive to the pitch of a narrator's voice and if they sense something off-key, it pulls them out of the story. Making sure I had the voices just right was the trickiest aspect of writing this book.
How did you stay in character?
I wrote Henry's entire story first and lived in his head for a few months. Then when I had it perfect, I wrote Meg's entire story. That way, I didn't have to force myself in and out of character. I think that would've made me crazy. Once I had both stories the way I wanted them, I joined them. Chapter by chapter, I wrote in connecting elements that made the two stories interlocking. The common ground came in the fact that both Meg and Henry are learning what it means to love people who are considered unlovable. They're both learning to put away selfishness and grow up. They're both struggling with ego, but learn a lot about themselves. The novel's epigraph is an old quote (paraphrased) "calamity is the perfect glass in which we can truly see and know ourselves." The calamity Henry and Meg each face becomes the mirror that lets them finally see themselves clearly.
Was one of their voices easier for you to write?
Believe it or not, I'm more comfortable writing Henry. I have a theory about this . . . I think it's because there's more of me in Meg and I've never been great at understanding the nuances of my own personality. Meg -- holy cow. She's just complicated and because she's a lot like me, it was hard for me to see her objectively. That dilemma actually lends a lot of truth to Meg's character, though, so I think she comes off as honest and raw and real. As an observer, I've known so many guys who are like Henry. I've studied them. I know their mannerisms and speech patterns. I know how their brains work and what affects them. So I was able to construct Henry with a really objective eye.
photo by JP Waterhouse Photography
Meg and Henry are dealing with a long distance relationship. While Henry is out of town, a new student, Quinn (who is clearly interested in Meg) arrives. If you were Meg, which boy would you choose and why?
Oh, there's no question my heart would remain with Henry. But...can I be real? I have a weakness for boys who understand literature and poetry and songwriting. Boys who get Whitman and can talk to me about the Harlem Renaissance in easy conversation. In the same way, Quinn is definitely interesting to Meg. He reminds her of the urban, sophisticated kind of guys she knew in Pittsburgh. And he reminds her more importantly, of the brother she lost. She wants Quinn in her life, but she knows Henry is her future. Henry opened a new world up for Meg, and she's head over heels in love with him.
Most high school stories would be incomplete without the school dance, including yours. There is so much hype surrounding homecoming, prom, etc. Do you have a distinct high school dance memory?
Oh my lands. Yes, I do. Dare I dredge it up and share it with your readers? What to do...what to do...
I was a late bloomer. A wallflower. Not noticed by guys. Ever. But for some reason, my junior year, the best looking but most dangerous boy in my class took an interest in me. He would laugh now hearing how I describe him. He was tall, blonde, cocky, and WILD. At least that's my memory. He made me so nervous. I was timid, rail thin, and naive. You know, the girl who'd never been kissed.
He asked me to prom and I almost didn't say yes because I thought I'd die of nerves. My best friend talked me into saying yes. I was nervous the whole night and, when he drove me home, I was so afraid he'd try to kiss me goodnight that I almost threw up in his car. In fact, I had dry heaves sitting in his passenger seat. Loud, dry heaves that went on and on. Is there anyway to recover from that? Nope. You gotta live with that nightmare the rest of your life. No sanctuary from a dry heaving past.
What's your dream prom dress?
I'm not a follower of fashion, to be honest. I like when I see girls who dare to look different because it seems like, these days, every girl is trying to look like the same person. When I see a girl brave enough to look a little indie or alternative, I silently cheer for them in my head. (not out loud because indie types do NOT want to be noticed in that way.) My favorite formal dresses are always very vintage. I dress Meg and her friend, Abby, in vintage dresses for Winter Dance. I just think it's important to look like a class act, because you'll stand out in the sea of too tight, too short, too low cut dresses. And take care that you don't look like you're headed to a pageant, either, with the overdone makeup and stiff hair. Imagine how that looks from a guy's perspective. I think guys probably prefer soft makeup and natural, soft hair. Anything more and you just look plastic.
If I were seventeen and shopping for prom, I'd be looking for a dress like this.
Vintage prom dress.
I love the relationship Meg has with a painter in this story. I understand your mom is a painter. How much of her did you pour into this book?
My mom does paint and she's really good, but it's a hobby for her. So some of Jo Russell's thoughts and attitudes came from my mom, but the deepest and greatest parts of Jo Russell came from one of my best friends--Mara Schasteen
. The book is dedicated to Mara. Our lives intersected in Texas when we were young moms together. I can't begin to tell you how indelible an impression Mara made on my heart and soul. We survived a lot of things together, but more than that, we met each other in a place where we were starved for beauty and art and kindness. We were able to enrich each other in a lot of ways.
Mara is a brilliant painter. I want people to see the world through her eyes. It's a beautiful, wondrous, God-filled place. I describe one of Mara's paintings in Perfect Glass.
Henry dreams that Meg has painted it.
Much of the artistic words and phrases and technical aspects of painting that you find in Perfect Glass
came from Mara. She's the one who described the wet dog smell of a studio full of primed linen canvas. She's the one who once pointed out that everything in the world has just a touch of ultramarine violet in it. It's not that I interviewed her. These are things that came to me from having a relationship with her and knowing her heart and her art. Jo Russell, the artist in Perfect Glass
, is seriously one of my all-time favorite characters I've created. I could live in her world for a long while and never get bored.What have you learned about the art of writing from Mara's and your mom's art?
MOONLIGHT by Mara Schasteen
I've learned all art is the impulse to create. That's an impulse given to all humans by the original Creator. Even Eminem was given the impulse to create by God. He may not realize it or acknowledge it, but that's where he got that desire.
From fine artists, I've learned that beauty is there for the taking and it's everywhere -- even in the things that look ugly at first glance. I've learned inspiration comes in the act of creating.
I've learned writers build stories in exactly the same way fine artists build a painting. If you watch an artist, you think they're crazy when they first start working on a canvas. They're staring at a waterfall and painting random crooked lines. But if you watch a while, it clicks. And you finally see what they've seen in their heads the whole time. Then it builds and builds. Mara says her favorite part of a painting is when she's almost done and she's adding the magic. Suddenly things move and shine and shimmer. Suddenly eyes look alive and faces look warm. Suddenly nature looks energetic like you could walk right into her trees. All this happens with calculated brush strokes.
It's the same with writing. I start with the bones, spare and barely there. Then I build the muscle and fat and skin. Then I add the curves and the meeting places, where parts of story meet like parts of a body meet. And finally I add the magic - the precise rhythm and heart of the story.
The singular words that make a reader stop breathing for a second so she can hear me. That connection right there, between me and a reader, is beautiful and tender. It's a shared experience. Readers don't often realize that they're giving me as much as I'm giving them. Just imagining their thoughts as they read my thoughts blows my mind.
To experience Laura Anderson Kurk
's magic first hand, download Perfect Glass
by clicking on it's title or cover.
Long before Katniss and Peeta, the question has lingered--can boys and girls be friends without romance?When was the first time you asked yourself if men and women can be just friends?
Today's guest post by author, Renee Fisher, dives into this question as she talks about kissing, dating, break ups and her latest book, Loves Me Not
. She first asked herself that question when she was in the seventh grade. She writes:
My friends and I were wasting time in gym talking about more important matters: boys. After listening to my friends, I was horrified to find out that (shocker)--I was the only
girl who hadn’t kissed a boy yet. I instantly felt this pressure I’ve never felt before. Maybe it was just me, or the way I was raised--but I wasn’t quite comfortable with having boy friends. And I certainly wasn’t going to kiss a boy who wasn’t my friend.
Katniss and Peeta
I wonder if I’m the only one who’s ever felt that way.
In a hook-up-or-go-home culture, it’s tough for me to justify skipping the “let’s be friends” part while jumping into a serious relationship. That probably also explains why I was single for so long.
I tell people often that I was single for over a decade until I found my prince. Personally, he was worth the wait--but how do you find friendships before marriage? Can men and women be just friends? I recently wrote an eBook entitled Loves Me Not
to help answer these questions.
Questions like these are very important to ask before marriage, BUT
before I attempt to answer these questions, I want to talk about friendship—more importantly, what godly friendship— looks like. First you need to know what you're looking for in a friend. Later you can evolve the right friendship into the right romance.
+ Friends don’t gossip about each other (Proverbs 26:20).
+ Friends are gentle instead of harsh or angry at each other (Proverbs 15:1).
+ Friends words bring healing (Proverbs 12:18).
+ Friends should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19).
+ Friends don’t destroy each other (Proverbs 11:9).
+ Friends are understanding and even-tempered with each other (Proverbs 17:2).
+ Friends pray for each other (Job 42:10, James 5:16).
+ Friends spur each other forward (Hebrews 10:24).
+ Friends encourage each other daily (see Hebrews 3:13).
+ Friends share in each other’s troubles and joys (see Romans 12:15).
+ Friends are reliable and stick closer than a brother or sister (Proverbs 18:24).
After reading the list, I hope you know and understand more about what a true friend does and doesn’t look like (whether they're a boy or a girl).
Nowhere on this list does it say you can or can’t be friends with the opposite sex.
Nowhere does the Bible say, “Thou shall or shall not be friends with the opposite sex.
” Praise God, right? But it does
say to choose your friends “carefully” (Proverbs 12:26, NIV).
Maybe after reading the list you’ll know more about your motives and the intentions of your friends. I also hope to instill a deeper sense of appreciation for what it takes to be friends first
before jumping into a relationship. What better way to discern if a relationship will be a good fit if you know what good of a friend he or she is? I believe it is possible for guys and girls to be just friends.
The how is between you, God, and the other person.
What’s the verdict? Do you believe men and women can be friends? If you’d like to read more from Loves Me Not
, I’d love to share more with you. If you or anyone you know is currently experiencing a broken relationship or a breakup--I encourage you to pick up the eBook for only $2.99.
, the Devotional Diva®, is the spirited speaker and author of Faithbook of Jesus
, Not Another Dating Book
, Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me
, and Loves Me Not
. A graduate of Biola University, Renee’s mission in life is to “spur others forward” (Hebrews 10:24) using the lessons learned from her own trials to encourage others in their walk with God. She and her husband, Marc, live in California with their dog, Star. Learn more about Renee at www.devotionaldiva.com.
Tingling all over with the announcement of the second book in my Status Updates series, It's Over, releasing April 19!
Book cover for the sequel to It's Complicated, It's Over. Photograph by Kelci Alane Photography. Cover Design by Angela Llammas.
HOW CAN YOU MOVE ON WHEN IT'S OVER?
When four college roommates lose pieces of their lives, the pain isolates and the tension rises. Emotions are hard to hide and even harder to tackle. How can the girls move forward, when there is so much pain in letting go? Together, Claire, Kat, Palmer and Hannah learn to lean on God and each other, and through it all they learn loss is a part of life."In It's Over, Laura L. Smith confirms the truth we've been told that we are never alone in the midst of heartache and struggle. In fact, she takes us to a place where we not only get to see, but feel deeply the truth of the fact that every single one of us has a story. Every single one of has experienced pain. But more importantly, that every single one of us has great hope. Laura L. Smith's writing strikes a deep chord in my heart. It makes sense. It's real--and in my opinion, that transparency makes all the difference." ~Holly Starr, Christian recording artist
"Laura Smith speaks for the broken. With a voice that’s warm and true, Laura gives words to those rendered speechless by issues that high school and college girls should never have to deal with—but so many of them do. In writing that’s raw, relevant, and real, Smith goes where few authors dare to go: straight into the heart of today’s young woman." ~Amy Parker, bestselling author of Courageous Teens
"YA author, Laura L. Smith crafts another story that will appeal to all girls, because no one is untouched by heartache in all its forms. The grace Smith extends the four girls in It's Over will touch readers in deep ways, as they follow these characters through some of the worst parts of life. Best of all, they'll cheer when the girls lean on one another and find ways to be thankful in everything. This is a fantastic read, one that will resonate with teens, college girls and their mothers." ~Laura Kurk, author of Glass Girl
Melissa is the main character from my novel addressing eating disorders, Skinny. Click here to order.
I decided to start this blog as a way for me to work out some of the things going on in my head. Like my eating disorder. Somehow it seems less harmful if I say “eating disorder” like my doctor does, instead of ANOREXIA or BULIMIA which sound so vulgar and catastrophic. But the words “eating disorder” also make what’s going on with me sound so sterile and almost insignificant. Which it’s not! Because even though I’m “on the path of recovery”, I’m guessing I’ll never be normal about food again. I can’t look at a cheeseburger or a Cadbury egg without calculating fat grams and calories. I’m not allowed to diet, because it could spin into something ugly. So, even though I look normal, or at least normalish, I’m still eating, but trying to make that not be way too much food or way not enough food. It’s complicated!
Food, dance team, homework, and did I mention my boyfriend? These are some of the things I struggle with.
Then there’s my boyfriend, Beau, who’s not actually my boyfriend because even though he says he likes me and I’m nutso over him, his parents say we can’t date. Well, we couldn’t date during basketball season. You guessed it, he’s a basketball player. As of last weekend, the season is officially over. So, we’re allowed to date again, only we’ve been on this break the last few months, so we don’t know what to do, how to do this dating thing. Sometimes I don’t know how to act around him – like how much of myself to reveal or how cool to try and act. But I’m completely mesmerized by him, and well, it’s a mess.
Melissa holding her Bible for encouragement.
I also need to talk about God, because even though I know He’s always been there for me, I was ignoring Him, and that turned out to be a major mistake. I almost lost my friends, my slot on dance team (which is where I truly feel alive), Beau, everything, because I thought I could do it all by myself. I figured out the hard way, the ultra hard way that I can’t do everything by myself. I’m not even supposed to. God wants me to depend on Him. And, as long as I do my part, which means trying my hardest to be the best Melissa Rollins I can be, and talk to Him about it, He’ll take care of the rest. It sounds easy, and I’m really trying, but some days are harder than others.
So, I have to trust. Trust that I’ll figure out all this stuff about food and boys and God and somehow maintain good grades and keep my dance coach happy. Like I said before, it’s impossible to do it alone. But, I do believe, with God all things are possible.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
Skinny a novel about self image, eating disorders and a relationship with Christ is FREE on Kindle this week
Melissa Rollins is juggling all the balls in the air; dance team, freshman year of high school, new girl friends, a new boyfriend, grades. And it's all going quite well, it always has, until there are too many balls in the air to juggle anymore. She feels like her life is spinning out of control. How can Melissa be accepted and appreciated when there are so many pressures to be perfect? How can she gain back a little bit of that control?
Download your FREE copy this week only on Kindle:
Cover of my book HOT - it's free on Kindle this week
My book HOT is FREE on Kindle this week:
This is the main character's, Lindsey's, blog:
I haven’t been to youth group in a while.
There. I admitted it.
I feel so guilty about skipping; I’m not sure what to do, or how to get back into my routine.
I love youth group. I really do. Our youth pastor is young and goofy and totally gets it. The band rocks. I mean it. I would rather sink into the squishy giant pillows on the barn floor where we meet on Sunday nights and jam to that band than listen to my iPod! But here’s the deal. I’m in the middle of some stuff -- big crummy, confusing stuff.
My sister’s life could be an episode on 90210. My parents are all tuned into her station and her station only, even during commercial breaks. And my boyfriend, I mean my ex-boyfriend, Noah, well I still secretly adore him.
I’m still crazy about him because, mmmm, because Noah smells like minty gum, and his hand feels so warm and strong and safe when it holds my tiny hand. Did I mention he has these dark forest green eyes and he’s so tall I have to stand on my tippy toes to look into them? He’s also one of the kindest and sweetest people I know, and he completely understands me.
I broke up with him. I know. It sounds crazy. But, I had to for now. Things got too out of control, and we needed to slow down. I needed to slow down and get back to who I am, to who God made me to be. I know it’s the right thing, but it is so hard.
This brings me back to youth group, because Noah goes to youth group too. And the real reason I haven’t been going, is him. It’s one thing to see Noah across the cafeteria at school. But in the barn? It will be so awkward. I won’t know where to sit. My best friend, Emma, and I used to always sit with him and his friends. Emma hasn’t been going to youth group either, which has made it easier to skip. All Noah’s friends will make comments under their breaths. The people who don’t know we broke up will ask why we’re not sitting together. And I’ll have to look at him and not feel his warm leg next to my leg and not smell him or hear his smooth, soothing voice. I’m not ready.
The voice in my head, which I know is God, says it’s time. He says he’ll be there for me.
Really? How cool is that? But is that enough God?
There will be a whole lot of other people there too. And they’ll make it hard. He says to remember that youth group isn’t about who sits next to who or who wears what but about getting closer to Him. He says His grace is enough.
Right. I knew that. Sometimes, I just forget. Okay, I just need to stay focused on God. Easier said than done, but possible. With God’s grace I can do this. I think I’ll call Emma and try to con her into going with me.
2 Corinthians 12:8 My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Fix by Force by Jason Warne
1. Fixed by Force is your breakthrough novel. What got you started writing? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
My writing started with my five-page, fully illustrated stories from childhood, called, “Blue Man vs. Green Man”. ;) I have no idea what they were about, but the characters always became friends at the end! Now I enjoy writing stories, poems and even songs. I try to write something daily. Writing is one of my favorite things to do, although all the editing, spelling, and grammar can be exhausting. Being able to watch something come together out of nothing, creating something that others can be affected and inspired by...that's an awesome feeling!
2. What advice do you have for others who have a dream in their heart, but aren't sure how to go about making it a reality?
I think what keeps a person from chasing their dreams isn’t necessarily fear of failure, but uncertainty of “how” to go about it? I remember feeling that way often, especially when I was receiving hordes of rejection letters from literary agents! Personally, I found it helpful and encouraging to seek others in my position— some who were striving for similar dreams, and some who had achieved theirs. By joining groups and clubs, and even mailing lists, I was introduced to others with the same goals and ambitions...and questions. I was able to communicate with people who had experience and knowledge I lacked about writing, and who encouraged me to keep moving forward in the pursuit of my dream.
3. Why did you choose the topic of steroids to center your novel around?
Steroids are a topic I am familiar with, in a similar capacity as the story's protagonist, Spencer. My struggles with steroid abuse occurred from ages 16 to 18, and were driven by many of the same feelings as Spencer's use. For Spencer and myself, steroids were not a vice specifically for athletic reasons or bodybuilding, as most people seem to assume of steroid users, but for a self-esteem makeover, mainly, internally, where lacking courage, and fading self-worth could somehow be “fixed” by using these chemicals.
4. How did you personally escape this addiction?
My personal escape from the belief that I 'needed' the steroids, unfortunately, took much longer than Spencer's, but it was by similar means. I had some very positive and uplifting people in my life, but I separated myself from them during my use, mainly because I was afraid they would try to make me stop. But I let one person in, my wife, who was my girlfriend then, and her strength, encouragement, and faith in me and in God, was the catalyst for my change. She reminded me of my value, which is something so many young people struggle with. What I learned, is that if you can somehow let one person through the barriers you put up, they may be the person who has been placed in you life for a reason.
5. Are you ever tempted to resume use? If so, what keeps you strong?
I have been tempted several times throughout the years, even recently, when self-image struggles creep back up. But when I think about my life, there is nothing that is worth risking for the temporary and artificial effects of the steroids.
6. Your main character is an athlete. What's your favorite sport and/or favorite team?
Well, being a native northerner and living across the lake from Chicago, I've always been a fan of the Bears, Cubs, and Bulls. Football is my favorite sport to watch and play, which may be why I added it to the story.
7. Without giving away the plot, do you have a favorite scene or chapter in Fixed By Force?
Can I pick two? ;)
I really like the scene when Spencer uses for the first time, since it illustrates the desperation of his use, and the “change” that occurs in the first moments of his addiction.
Also, the most affecting scene for me, personally, is his desperate late night injection into his triceps, when he 'battles' against his own body.
8. I write for and speak to predominately high school and college-aged women. We talk frequently about pressures to be thin, to wear the right clothes, to do well in school, to have a boyfriend, etc. What kinds of pressures or expectations are put on young men in today's society?
There are a lot of pressures on young men to be 'masculine' and 'tough'. And societal expectations often say this means having six-pack abs, never crying, or liking only so-called 'manly' hobbies, like sports. I remember feeling incredible pressure to be muscular and attractive, like every 'desirable' male celebrity on magazine covers. Young men often forget their value for things like their creativity, sense of humor, thoughtfulness, empathy, etc. I am hoping this story may inspire young men to focus on those traits more than the societal pressures of 'being a man.'
9. What one thing do you think young women should understand about the psyche of a young man, that they probably don't get?
I think young women should consider that young men are often just as insecure as they are. Young men can be just as negatively affected by hurtful insults about their self-image.
10. What are the traits you were looking for in a wife?
I love that my wife can be silly and laid-back. I was really drawn to her confidence in her personality and her drive to accomplish her goals. And she is beautiful, but her true beauty has always shined brightest in her love and empathy for others.
11. Your website is incredibly cool! I love the audio as soon as you enter. Who did the narrating of the chapters? Is it you?
Thanks! Yes, all of the audio is my voice. I used Wix Website Builder for the site, which is an easy to use Flash website creating software, and I use audacity (free recording software), for the audio recoding.
12. Do you have another book in the works we can look forward to?
I actually have several in the works, but which one I finish and release first may depend on what readers are looking for!
I have been working for some time on a book based on Janelle's life, who is a main character from, Fix by Force, and also on a YA book, which is a realistic, take on the “superhero” genre. I’ve loved this subject since being an avid comic book reader in my youth
Thanks, Jason, for taking time to chat with us today. Okay, readers, what do you think Jason’s next book should be about?