Apocalypse Weird: "A Renegade Band of Authors"

 

bluestonepressSo, the Blue Stone Press, a local newspaper for the area I live and work in, has done an article about Apocalypse Weird and my involvment with it. I am now officially a member of a “renegade band of authors who are out to revolutionize publishing.” I’ll take that description any day. The writer of the article, Anne Pyburn Craig, totally got it. She got what AW is about and what we are trying to do.

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This article is one of many small ripples in the large pond of publishing. Each author does what he or she can to get the word out, to get people excited about the project. This work on the ground level is necessary to collect a base of readers and fans who stand behind the project and who, through their enthusiasm for the stories, spread the word even further. That in itself is revolutionary. Here is the article, hopefully readable. The online version will be available in about 2 weeks.

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Until next time,

Cheers and keep reading!

Stefan Bolz

 

The White Dragon Rises

 

When I first set out to write my Apocalypse Weird book: The White Dragon – Genesis, I only had an initial image that I had found online somewhere of how Kasey Byrne, the story’s heroine could look like. Everything else came from there, including the pendant. Her hair is a bit lighter but otherwise this is pretty close to what I had envisioned.

 
Kasey Byrne
 

I realized half way through the story that the picture doesn’t show Kasey in the beginning of Book I (Genesis) but rather at the beginning of Book III (Alchemy) when she comes back from her journey to join the others and finish what they had started in Book I. If you’ve read Genesis, you’re in for a real treat in Book 2, AW: The White Dragon – Crucible. I don’t have the green light yet but I’m working on it anyway just because I can’t stop :-).

Here is the short blurb for Genesis, in case you don’t know about it:

Apocalypse Weird: The White Dragon – Genesis is the story of the very beginning of an apocalyptic event as seen through the eyes of an eighteen-year-old girl. Nothing could have prepared her for what is about to happen and she has to face some seriously tough stuff before the end. During the thirty-six hours of terror that turn Kasey Byrne’s life upside down and strip her of everything dear to her, something inside her awakens. It is gift and curse alike for it can destroy her or turn her into the most powerful weapon against the evil that has reached the shores of our world.

Up until the  very moment I’m writing this, we have 25 reviews on Amazon and the launch is in progress. Here are the links to the book, in case you want to buy one:

http://bit.ly/gen-kindle
http://bit.ly/gen-nook
http://bit.ly/gen-kobo
http://bit.ly/gen-ibooks

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Nothing happens without readers, and early reviewers are the backbone of any launch. I am very grateful to everyone who has reviewed the book so far. Thanks so much for your support.

The party is happening here (from 5 to 11pm EST)

https://www.facebook.com/events/1591971234379024/

Cheers,

Stefan

Get Genesis!

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The Apocalypse Just Got Personal

 

I don’t like small talk. I can hang in there for a while during a party but anything beyond that is hard for me. You can only say so much before there is nothing else to talk about for the moment, unless its meaningful to some extent. (Disclaimer: small talk does not include discussing geeky stuff. That is exempt and not considered small talk. Please feel free to discuss the latest Daredevil episodes with me at your pleasure and convenience ;-).

I feel the same way with my books. You won’t find small talk in them. Maybe a little, as comic relief or to foreshadow something further down the road. I’d rather say what needs to be said and stop there. Here is one reaction someone hopefully displays after reading AW: The White Dragon – Genesis:

 

 

When I sat down to write the Genesis, I wanted to make it personal. An up close account of the first thirty six hours of a terrifying apocalyptic event through the eyes of an eighteen-year-old girl who, up until that moment, had been just that — a teenager, with all the hopes and dreams, heartbreaks and tribulations that come with it. Her level of preparedness was equal to zero. Other than a baseball bat — her dad had insisted for her to keep one in her car when he gave her the car for her birthday that very morning — she had neither weapons nor a flashlight or even a pocket knife. She wasn’t even wearing flip-flops.

Kasey

As I have experienced throughout my own life, any growth on my part was usally accompanied by an unsettling feeling that ranged from basic anxiety to and beyond straight-out fear. Sometimes it was hidden, expressed in ways that didn’t look like it at all. At other times, it was plain terror. I’d come out on the other side stronger, sometimes wiser but always just a bit further up the path. Not sure why I’m mentioning this other than that most of my characters go through hell and back to search for what they are looking for, just like me.

But for Kasey, the apocalyptic event is only the trigger for something larger than herself. The apocalypse, as heart wrenching as it is for her, is solely the spark that ignites something in her that she had no idea existed. Sometimes the situation at hand isn’t about the situation at hand. There’s more at stake. There’s meaning behind the small talk and for Kasey, the first part of her story, Genesis, is exactly that: a beginning. The beginning of something bigger than herself, something she’s afraid of, something she fights and doesn’t want to accept. The refusal of the call to adventure is what Joseph Campbell called it. It is when life tells you that there’s more here than the eye can see. That there is more to you than what you know at this very moment. That you are born for things that are greater than you can possibly imagine.

“Use the force, Luke! Trust me!” That line has been beaten to death. However, the meaning behind it is still intact, bruised maybe but still there, dusting itself off. Kasey has kept a diary throughout her life but had never seen the patterns, the signs, that indicated that she was not just a happy little teenage girl but that there was more. Much more.

As I’m writing this, I’m waiting for the final e-file for the Advance Reader Copies. It’s been a great ride. I very much hope that you enjoy the book. I loved writing it and the story has stayed with me until today, has bugged me to explore the continuation of it and accompany my characters all the way to the end.

Good luck!

Stefan

Get Genesis Now!

[book size=”150″ slug=”apocalypse-weird-genesis” desc=”0″ purchase=”0″ notereviews=”0″ excerpt=”0″]

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On Dragons Uncommon and Writing the Weird

Genesis_FT_FINALAbout five minutes after I had read the first few lines in Nick Cole’s description of what Apocalypse Weird would be, the beginnings of a story formed in my imagination. I told Nick, “You had me at Black Dragon.” Those were the third and fourth words in his description, starting with Imagine a…

I wanted to write an action novel, a supernatural episode of 24, in real time, with Jack Bauer being eighteen-year-old Kasey Byrne, my main gal in the story. But I didn’t want only action. I wanted an overriding philosophy, a greater story arc spanning different worlds and times and ancient training grounds and a revelation for my main character at the end that would turn the tables and set the stage for the next book. The underlying mythology crept up piece by piece and mid-way through the story, I knew I had at least two more books in my head. At the end, there was material for four, plus this one.

Kasey Byrne is a girl who loves to surf, who just had her last day of high school and who celebrates her eighteenth birthday on the beach, on the eve of summer solstice. She thinks she is just a regular teenager with all the hopes and dreams and disappointments that come with it. Her parents are divorced and she’s navigating her way through life just as any teenager would. She has no idea who and what she is and what she could become. Like so many of us, she doesn’t know her own potential. During the storm of terror and the thirty six hours we spend with her in book one, something inside her begins to awaken – something she has dreamed of and written pages upon pages in her diary about without knowing what it is.

When I started writing, I had a very specific goal: I wanted the book(s) to be epic and reach beyond a linear, two-dimensional story to a different place entirely. To write a book about a dragon is tricky. It has been done so many times and even though dragons are amazing and extraordinary creatures, stories about them can become cliched very easily. I didn’t want a cliche. I wanted to take the cliche and turn it on its head and inside out and make it into something completely new and exciting. I hope I succeeded. The time is almost here. On April 21, 2015, it will be up to you, the reader, to decide if it worked.

Until then, until the day the White Dragon takes flight, I remain very truly yours,

Stefan

P.S. This is Kasey’s car. Let’s just say this is a “before” picture ;-). In the story it’s light blue instead of green. She got it on the day of her 18th birthday. Unfortunately, this was also the day when the apocalypse reached the shores of Long Island.

Jeep

The Year 2015 in Review

I might have caught you thinking that this is a typo :-). Reviewing a year that is just beginning is impossible, you may say. But is it? We create our own reality, right? Why not travel one year ahead and look back, at least in our imagination. I write science fiction and fantasy stories. Anything is possible there. It’s such a freeing experience to write in that genre, almost like the dreams I had when I was a child, where I could breathe under water or float in the air without wings. Why limit ourselves?

Here is my new years resolution: To go to that darkened tomb deep underground and unlock the ancient door that holds my imagination captive. You might know the saying: “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” A high school dropout named Albert Einstein once said that. I think he was onto something :-).

There is an exercise I do once in a while. It has helped me in the past when I was stuck, not only in the story but with issues in my life. For the exercise, you just need a comfortable chair in a quiet spot in the house (Yeah right, when you have kids racing around :-). Good head phones will do. Here is how it works:

Once you have closed your eyes, see yourself stepping into an elevator and push the button that says [-10]. Try to see what the inside of the elevator looks like. Does it have mirrors or just walls? Is it an old rattling cage-like thingy or a futuristic one? It doesn’t matter. Whatever it is for you, works. After you pressed the button with the [-10] on it, the elevator starts to descend. Try to watch the floor numbers above the door. Are they in red? Green? Gold? Are they digits or is it like the hand of a watch moving from floor to floor.

Watch the numbers change from -1 to -2, -3, -4, -5, -6, -7, -8, -9, and to -10. The doors open. What do you see? Describe it. Is it a cave? Is it the top of a mountain? Is it an under water city? Is it the inside of a volcano? Whatever you see is your unconsious, showing you the way to your idea storage facility, to your library of stories that have yet to be written, or to a solution to a problem that you’re facing.

As you step out of the elevator, you can smell the air, you can feel the ground under your feet. Is it damp there? Is it Dry? Is it raining, hailing, snowing, or is it hot and humid? At the end of that landing platform, there is a straight path. If you’re on top of the mountain, it could be a bridge. It could be a tunnel or a path through the woods. Whatever it is, you are now ready to step onto it.

As you walk, you notice that you have a key in your hand. See what shape it has. Is it heavy, light, small, large, rusty, clean? Maybe it’s an electronic key kard. That is the key to a door that waits at the end of the path you’re on.

You become aware of your purpose, the reason why you came down here in the first place. You are here to unlock the door to your imagination. You are here to set it free, let it soar among the eagles high up in the sky. It has been imprisoned for too long. By you. You have kept it small and managable. But not anymore. You are here to free it, to let it unfold, to create things you cannot possibly imagine yet. You are here to set it free. You are here to set yourself free.

You can see the door now. As you walk toward it, you can make out its shape. Is it a regular house door? Is it a metal gate? Is it a huge ten stories high iron cast door that blocks the sun? The closer you come, the better you can see the door with all its intricacies, its solid structure. With a door as formidable as this one, what lies behind it, must be vast and powerful and limitless.

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You raise your arm and put the key into the key hole. If you have a key card, you slide the strip throug the reader. If you have a large rusty key, you push it into the key hole. You can feel the resistance when you turn the key and it might take you a minute to turn it but eventually you’ll hear the sound of the locking mechanism when the dead bolt retrackts into the door.

You grab the handle and pull it, fully knowing that with this act, you will finally free your mind from imprisonment. The door might be heavy or light as a feather. It might swing open all the way or just far enough that you can see inside. Once it is open, your imagination – whatever form it has taken on – will be free. It might stay in there, timidly looking past you, not sure if it is really no longer a captive. It might run you over and race back to where you came from, waiving a sign that says “Thank you!” Whatever it is, let it happen.

You’ve done it. Congratulations.

You might sit down with a blank piece of paper or a fresh word document and start writing. Or you might begin to think of a situation you’re in just slightly different. Be prepared :-). And if you want to, you can look back onto 2015 and see yourself doing things you have not yet dreamed of. Whatever your goal for 2015, if you can imagine it, you can do it.

Cheers,

Stefan

hochland_hi

Paintings by Hans-Werner Sahm

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I Have a Dream

I have a dream. This dream began when I first published The Three Feathers. I remember that I woke up one morning and found myself with a single thought that would not leave me during the day. The thought was too daring to even think any further on it. It was too big to even consider writing it down. Eventually, after a few days, during a moment of courage, I wrote one line on a piece of scrap paper and pinned it to our fridge:

“Joshua’s journey shall be known by all.” By all. Not by many. Not by some. But by all. A dream too big? A goal too far fetched? Yes. No. Maybe. Then I realized that there might be a connection between Joshua’s journey in the book and the books journey into the world. There were times when my little rooster friend did not believe it possible that he would find the three feathers from his fading dream. He had many obstacles to overcome, the main one being self doubt. “Who am I do follow my dream and expect it to come true?” he thought more often than not. But in the end he did what he set out to do and he found what he so fervently searched for.

So here it is: it made its way from a single thought onto a small piece of paper and out into the world. It is prayer and promise alike. It is the invitation to dream big and to believe that if it can be dreamt, it can be done.

“Joshua’s journey shall be known by all.”

A very nice recommendation by a fourth grade teacher

Last spring, I had the opportunity to read aloud Stefan Bolz’s book The Three Feathers prior to its official publication, thanks to the suggestion of one of my students.  Although it is not the type of book and genre that I typically choose for my own personal reading, I make it a point to read a variety of text types aloud in class, and we hadn’t yet read and discussed a fable.  Throughout the reading of the story, I found it to be very well-written and engaging, and so did my class of fourth graders.  We all enjoyed getting to know the characters and reading about the friendship that develops between them, as well as making predictions about what the characters were going to encounter and how they were going to get out of dangerous and difficult situations.

In a class of students with mixed reading abilities, I found that all were able to enjoy hearing the story at their own level of understanding.  Some students were able to interpret and discuss the book’s message and theme, and others just enjoyed the humorous and suspenseful moments that occur throughout the text.  As an adult reader, I found that the book reminded me a lot of The Lord of the Rings stories, and I would whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys that series.

Sincerely,

Maggie Kievit

The Great River – The Three Feathers (Major Spoiler Alert)

Grey

Dear Friends,

It’s Grey. I am encouraging you not to read this post until you have read The Three Feathers in its entirety. I don’t want you to miss out on an awesome twist in the story.

Having said that, I hope you know that I did not die at the end of my journey with my good friend Joshua. I am very much alive. Life does neither begin in birth nor end in death. It is much bigger than that. From where I am, life as I have known it – as it is know by most – is but a tiny drop of water compared to the ocean; a single sunbeam compared to the sun. I was very surprised to experience it and not in my wildest dreams could I have known what would happen. Which brings me to what I want to talk to you about. During our adventure in The Three Feathers, Krieg had thought about how everything that happened in his life seemed to have been like small creeks and brooks that eventually flowed into a great river and that river lead him to take the leap and leave his limitations behind (you must admire him for that. To even question ones limitations is probably one of the hardest things to do. Ever. But I know that Krieg is preparing an entry that has to do with that and so I’ll better stick to my own topic for now.) 

I had a vision once. It has not been recorded in The Three Feathers. I shared it in a private conversation with Joshua and at the time of chronicling what had happened Joshua felt that it should be left private for the time being. Now I think it will be a great addition to the back story. The vision came to me just before Joshua, Krieg, Wind, Dragon-of-the-Stone, Alda and I reached the cave of dreams, the end of our journey. We had slept close to the river that flowed toward the cave and when I was just about to wake up, I had a vision of that river being the Great River of life. I saw myself walking along its shore, slowly keeping up with its flow. When I looked around I saw friends, family members and others whom I had met throughout my life. They walked with me along the edge. Sometimes one of them would step into the river and disappear into it. At other times, someone would come out the river and join the rest of us. 

I realized in great astonishment that we were all connected through the river. I saw Ayres, my life long friend who had been killed by the vulture, go into the river and disappear. But even though I didn’t see him anymore, I could still feel him next to me. Only during the times when I walked slightly faster or slightly slower than the flow of the river did I loose the connection to him. The moment I adjusted my own walking to the flow of the river, I felt his presence very clearly next to me. And even more so, he did not seem to be separate from me but rather very much a part of me. 

When I let go of my bodily form later on and joined up with my long lost companion once again, I realized that we had never been apart. My grief over losing her had blinded me to the river’s flow and the recognition that most of the time I had either walked much faster or much slower. I tried to run away at times and I almost gave up and stopped walking altogether at others. But the moment I joined with her at the end of the journey I finally adjusted to the flow of the river and I could feel her again. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever experienced. Knowing that she was – and has been – there with me all this time was overwhelming at first. But I found out that the great river can’t lose anyone. There is nothing outside and because there is nothing outside, there is nobody that can be left behind by it. It is there, always, forever, for all times and beyond even time itself. 

Even now, if you want to either slow down a bit or pick up the pace, you might just feel me walking next to you; or someone you have lost along the path we are all on. I know now for a fact that, in the end, we’ll all be together. What an amazing experience that is going to be. I look very much forward to it. 

 Until then, I stay very truly yours, walking next to you along the Great River of Life,

 Grey

Lenape School Reading and Signing

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I had a great time at the Lenape School Library Fair yesterday (If I would have known that it was also ‘Crazy Hair Day’ I would have done something with mine). I spoke to many awesome young readers about Joshua’s adventures and signed a lot of copies. It inspired me to work on the sequel and prequel to The Three Feathers even more and to get through writing it faster. As a writer it is always very helpful to know who you are writing for.

If you have read the book, feel free to write me with your comments at stefanbolz@yahoo.com or leave a review on Amazon.

I also wanted to tell you about the German translation of The Three Feather. As I am writing this, a friend of mine is working on it very diligently. I’m expecting the book to come out sometime over the summer. Because German is my native language it will be interesting to read it once the rough translation is done. To read something in your native tongue is always deeper, affects you more than in any other language, however long you have known the other one. I very much look forward to reading it. This is in part due to my having been influenced by German fair tales like the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen. A few of those tales made their way into The Three Feathers for sure.

I also met several young readers yesterday who expressed an interest in writing. If you are reading this and you have an idea about a story or a book or even just a scene, as crazy and ‘far out’ as it might seem to you now, just dive in and let yourself completely immerse in it, if only for a few hours. See what happens. Put your pen to paper (or your fingers to the keyboard) and write. The Three Feathers is nothing but me giving complete permission to myself to dream up a story as fantastical as this one. Let your imagination soar and see where it takes you. I always use my iPhone’s voice recorder when I get an idea about something and record it immediately – even if it’s 2AM at night. Those ideas are usually the best ones. Several of the scenes and images in The Three Feathers came to me at night or while driving my car. As a writer it is your job to catch those ideas. They usually only appear once. You gotta be quick and don’t let them pass by.

Until next time,

Stefan

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