You Want the Truth?

…you can’t handle the…okay, that’s cliche. My editor would be scowling at me right about now for even thinking this was funny. But I’m going to do it anyway because I’m a rebel. So there.

….anywho…

If you hear the distant sound of shrill screaming do not be alarmed. That’s just me flipping out.

giphy

( Actual gif of me )

My incredibly amazing publisher, Juame Validrosa, has done an incredible job finding an artist and an editor to take my words and give them the best treatment possible. Then he went and put it all over the interwebs for the world to see and (hopefully) fall in love with.

 

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“The Foehammer Act has created an America where vampires, werewolves, elves, orcs, and other haunting creatures are now citizens of the United States, with all of the rights, protections, and privileges afforded the human. It’s a new world order, and it’s anything but orderly!

When FBI Agent Richard Donovan comes back from a near death experience, he doesn’t expect to get tossed into the deep end of things, but that is exactly what happens. After years of being a successful agent, he gets the promotion he never wanted as the lead investigator for a team of paranormal detectives who have to investigate all crimes done by and against America’s supernatural citizens.
Brand new to the paranormal FBI investigation game, Donovan has to travel to werewolf country, USA, to figure out why Lillian Lawson, a werewolf, killed her human family. It seems to be fairly cut and dry. Werewolves kill people all the time, right? It’s not that hard to picture one going lunar on her own family.
But when he gets to Bishop, New Hampshire, Donovan realizes the facts don’t add up, and Lillian, no matter how wolfish she can get, doesn’t come across as a killer. When Deputy Sharon Morris tells him that the ghost of Lillian’s husband doesn’t believe it either, he realizes that there is more to this werewolf mystery than meets the eye. “

That’s me…right there. In all my literary glory. I am elated that this is happening. I am excited, overwhelmed, and overjoyed that this is a thing and I did it. I want to think every single person who patently listened as I talked about this book or writing in general. You are truly incredible.

 

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( this one is me too. )

Ever since I did this people have been asking me some really interesting questions and making some even more interesting assumptions. “You must be so happy!”, “Are you excited!?”, “Can I get a free signed copy?” and a lot of other things.

So let’s clear some things up.

Am I happy/excited that my book is finished? Well…sure…ish? I honestly don’t know. I loved writing it, and I love the characters, but I never feel like the story is done. I have been writing this setting out for about six years. The book itself has been a project that has gone through three very different incarnations just to become what it is. I love that it exists but honestly? The first thing I felt was exhaustion.

Seriously. I typed ‘The End’ somewhere around 7:30 one mid October evening and then I went immediately to bed. Did not pass go, did not collect $200. I think I woke up at 11 the next morning and drank a gallon of water, ate some ramen, and then took a nap. It wasn’t what I would call an exciting day. I was just tired.

I enjoyed chatting with the other people who were involved with my books creation (Lynn, my editor, Juame, my publisher, and Sarah the artist) but I can’t say that I really felt anything that I would call ‘excitement’ until I got the links for all the places where the story had been published.

Even then, I think it would be more apt to say I was…gruntled (it’s a word, I swear it is. I’m bringing it back). I was content, pleased with myself, and ultimately satisfied. Which is a little weird when you realize that you are talking about writing a magical murder mystery. But I’m not going to judge myself here.

All I really wanted to do was get started on book two. Is that weird? I hope not. I just think I really like writing.

Anyway. Here are some links to all the places where you can purchase my book!

Amazon
Kobo
Smashwords

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Black’s Book Review: The Paper Magician

Publishing Information: September 1st 2014 by 47North
Page Count:  224
Genre: Steampunk, YA, Magical Alternate History, Romance
Note: The First Book in the Paper Magician series, and debut novel of Charlie N. Holmberg

They say to never judge a book by its cover. In this instance I didn’t listen. I had been passing through my local Barns & Noble with the intent of buying basically nothing (fool that I am) and this was sitting on an endcap.

Magic?…Check
Victorian Era?….Check
Female Protagonist…Check

Triple threat, and I was done. There is something I enjoy about a setting that incorporates history and magic. So I decided to fork over the dollars and pick myself up some entertainment.

The story revolves around Ceony, a young magician girl who aspires to be a Smelter, a mage who works with metals. Her dreams are dashed, however, when her academy sets her up in an apprenticeship with (drumroll, please) a paper magician. It’s heartbreaking for the young lady. Paper magic is the weakest of magics, and good for nothing but entertainment.

The lady mage is taken to meet one Mg. Emery Thane who is (shockingly) attractive and relatively young. Without giving too much away Mg Thane has a bit of a secret to his history that will get him in the kind of trouble where he needs rescuing.

How awesome is it to have a story where the lady is rescuing the dude? Very.

The Paper Magician has some excellent strong points. It’s written in elegantly simple prose which make for a quick, albeit well crafted, read.I think I finished the book in about six hours altogether. It had some really beautiful lines too. “Remember you are much different now than you were an hour ago” and “One of his odd smiles, for it was all lip and no eye” and, my personal favorite, “Curse Emery Thane for being such a difficult man to rescue!”

The characters are easy to distinguish from one another. Ceony is young, nineteen during the course of this book, and you can hear that in her speech. Emery hides his uncertainty behind a smile and is a master of derailing questions about himself. It’s easy to feel like you know them from the beginning.

The magical theory is well thought out and easy to understand. Magic can only be created through man made items. Paper, Metals, Rubber, Glass. There is only one forbidden form of magic, Flesh, and it ends up being a big deal in this particular story.

The story is a nice mesh of being heartbreaking and lighthearted. There is a gentleness to the main character that saves her from being that ‘I’m badass because I have traditionally masculine traits’ kind of heroine, which I like. But there are some rather dark moments which are handled by the author and the characters beautifully.

It does have a few drawbacks, however. I was not a fan of the villain being your typical dark curvaceous beauty while the heroine is the waifish pale blonde. I feel that this continues the trope of ‘busty ladies are bad’ and I’ve slowly grown jaded to the trend. I happen to be both brunette and busty and a very nice person, generally speaking.

The romance, while handled well, hits me on a couple of squicky notes. I’m not a fan of a person in a place of power and a person who is in their care becoming romantically involved, even when it starts on the part of the person in care. This is a personal preference, I know, but an important one.

Ceony has no friends. This annoys me. There are reasons that she might draw away from closeness (for the sake of spoilers I wont say why) but these reasons don’t really stop her from developing an attachment for Mg. Thane. I really wish that she had a friend or two upon whom she could have called to help with her adventure. It would have made me feel a little more comfortable about the romance aspect.

Also, I realize that this is a novel geared towards the Young Adult generation but I really feel that the story could have been lengthened to allow me to get a little more invested in the setting. The author clearly has the literary skills to craft fantastic prose, but there were certain moments where I was hungry for more description and a few more scenes.

Don’t get me wrong, I did like the story. I would definitely recommend, but the chances of me reading it more than once are slim. I will, however, be picking up the second book when I have the spare money. I would give it a 7.5/10

I Have Chosen…Poorly?

I do not have a lot of money. I haven’t had a regular job in nearly two years. This was due to medical reasons, not because I don’t want a job. It kinda sucks. When I did work regularly I was making enough to pay off all my bills, eat decently, and have enough left over to go see a movie or pick up a few books every few weeks. It was really nice.

Now? Now I have to find ways to make $94 a week of disability payments stretch to cover food, gasoline, and medical bills. That’s…yeah. That’s fun. So imagine my consternation (great word, right?) when my best friend found an incredible used book store.

Let me explain, I am a used book fanatic. There is something about the texture of a well loved book in my hands that makes me love it just that much more. I can see where the person (or persons) who had the book before me dogeared the pages, or re-read a scene so much that the binding is softest there. I feel like I am sharing an experience with another reader; a friend met only in the memory of the page.

I couldn’t say “No.” I was weak.

So I gathered up my loose change and a precious few crumpled bills, my person book index, and plopped myself into the passenger’s seat. I was sure that the place couldn’t be as awesome as she was telling me. I was right. It was better.

Three rooms of books, piled on shelves that went from floor to ceiling. In some places the books were three deep. There were paperbacks, first editions, school books, all beautifully organized. There were multiple editions of different books so I could find the ones that would match the others in the series that I already owned.

I was instantly in love.  I was also poor enough that I could only choose one, MAYBE two, books.

Have you ever seen Ever After with Drew Barrymore? That line she has about books, “I could no longer choose a favorite star in the sky.” I was having that moment. It was intense.

My first choice was a paperback romance by an author I wasn’t familiar with. It was a dollar, and I have a cheesy romantic heart. My second choice was a murder mystery…and this I probably should have left on the shelves. I don’t mind slashers, thrillers, or murder at large. My favorite show is Criminal Minds, and I’ve watched every police procedural show out there. Heck, I’ve taken a cadaver course as a science requirement in college so I could understand anatomy better.

But this book was a little too in love with it’s bloody murder scenes. I couldn’t tell you what the main character looked like, I’m guessing average middle aged grizzled Caucasian male, but I can tell you exactly how the victims were stabbed.

I guess what I’m saying is that I love description but only if that description is evenly spaced. I want to be able to see everything in the same clear manner, not having something rock from barely visible to so vivid that my jaded heart was like ‘Dude…’

So, murder mystery writers out there…take not. Love all of your book. Not just the stabby parts.

Top Five Science Fiction Novels

Science Fiction is one of those things I love to read, but am not very apt at writing. I have an idea brewing in the back of my head for a series of novellas…but that’s like…a decade off. But I did a little work on it last night before tucking in and thought about the novels that have most inspired me in the realm of science fiction.

So, I did that thing I do, and I made a little list.

The rules of this list are simple. The first is that it has to be science fiction, not science fantasy. I am a person with opinions and my opinion is that science fiction and fantasy ought to be mostly separate. There are some exceptions to the rule…but not for this list. The second is that it cannot be a rewrite of someone else’s work. I do love John Scalzi’s take on Fuzzy Nation (it’s great go read it) but it would not fit this list.

Let’s do this.

5) The Foundation Series by Issac Asmiov

This one might seem like a no-brainer. There were three gods of modern science fiction and Asmiov was one of them. For me, however, he holds an extra special place. He was the first science fiction writer that I ever read and his foundation series still makes my heart flutter. I love robots, reimaginings of culture, and complex story lines. Asmiov scored on all three of these points.

4) The Confederation Series by Tanya Huff

Lady Space Marine? Check. Well done science fiction setting? Check. Intriguing plot and well written battle sequences? Check. Tanya Huff’s confederation series is what I would have loved to write if she hadn’t gotten there first. Though I’m glad she did. I was hooked when the story starts with Staff Sergent Torin Kerr waking up from a one night stand with a hot alien dude. It was a wonderful gender reversal for me and I was instantly enamored.

3) On Basilisk Station by David Weber

I keep saying that I don’t love military science fiction, but some of my absolute favorite books are definitely in that subgenre. I cannot site the entire Honor Harrington series as my favorite as I have only read the very first one ( I know, I’m terrible) but this book was good enough that I went out, joined the fan club, and spent money on an actual enlisted uniform for the Royal Manticoran Navy. The series is incredibly complex and in depth and I am in love, even from book one.

2) Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep by Philip K. Dick

Most people know this story as the book that inspired Blade Runner. I don’t feel that it gets much love and that makes me really sad. It’s a poignant look into the word of Artificial Intelligence, androids, and what it must be like to have a license to kill. This book introduced me to the modern idea of a dystopia. There are electronic animals, little wristlets where you punch in the mood you want to have, off world colonies, and marriages during depression. I love this book. My copy is falling apart.

1 ) The Old Man’s War series by John Scalzi

Okay, I said that I couldn’t use Scalzi’s Fuzzy Nation, but I can put in the Old Man’s War. I picked up the first book during a stay at the hospital and if it could distract me from all the crap that was going on (and demand the next two int he series) it must be fantastic. There is something about genetically modified solders, culture clashing war, and fascinating main characters that just gets me salivating. Scalzi’s writing style in on point, managing to be bother serious and amusing. If you have never had the joy of reading his work…go change that.

Writers Who Don’t Read

are like chefs who don’t eat.

Seven years ago I started what I consider my ‘writing journey’. It wasn’t that I hadn’t put my pen to paper before then, but I hadn’t done so with the intention of letting others read it before. This quintessential moment was me shakily signing up for my first Creative Writing class.

That first day is still vivid in my mind. I remember what I wore. I remember the other students. I can replay the memory in my head like film.

My creative writing teacher was barely taller than myself. He wore dark green slacks hemmed up with silver pins. He was middle aged and well spoken. He was…demure. Yet he instructed his class with a constructive and supportive atmosphere that I could immerse myself in.

His first order of business was to have us all arrange our seats into a circle. His second was to ask us to introduce ourselves and what we were currently reading. There was a little bit of stirring but after a while we went around our little circle doing just that.

It was a really neat bonding experience. Well, it was until that one guy went and screwed it up. The entire time people were introducing themselves he was sitting there in these black jeans and dark red turtleneck with his arms crossed over his very thin chest. He hadn’t really reacted to…well…anything.

When it got to him he introduced himself and stated, quite clearly, “I don’t read.”

I blinked. I wasn’t the only one. A couple of students exchanged looks and there was even a sort of surprised chuckle from a few of us.

The teacher nodded, “Alright, why not?”

“Because I don’t have to.”

The teacher didn’t ask him to elaborate. He nodded and accepted it and moved on. But the moment really stuck with me. How utterly confident must a writer be to assume he doesn’t have to read and where can I feel even a fraction of that?

But here’s my issue. I don’t care how good a person is at their craft. If they aren’t looking at the works of others then they suffer from the creative equivalent of sniffing their own farts. They are never going to grow, change, or be inspired.

It’s because of this mentality that I feel my book reviews are a pretty big part of my writing blog. Because it’s not just about the words I put on the page, it’s about the words that I am reading. It’s about what is inspiring me.

So, to all my writers out there, pick up a damn book.

Where I Write

I’m a bit of a homebody. My favorite weather is rainy. I like cheap coffee’s and expensive teas. My preferred pet is a over-sized, super cuddly cat. When left to my own devices I am likely to turn my couch into one big nest where I can curl up and never leave.

Okay, not never-never, but pretty darn close.

You’d think that this quirk of mine would lend itself easily to writing. Newsflash: it doesn’t. From the sanctity of my nest I can read just a couple more chapters of that paperback I picked up. I can play my DS or watch another episode on Netflix. Seriously though, whose gotten anything done since the invention of Netflix?

So, when I get into a writing rut I have to get out and write.  I hit up all the normal hotspots for literary hopefuls. The local library, the bookstore, the coffee shop and panera bread. But my all time favorite is a family owned burger joint called hotrodders.

The decor is throwback fifties Americana with sparkling red booths that tend to sag in the middle. Their wifi connection is liable to go out when new customers pop in the door. The checkerboard floor is in constant need of sweeping and on the right day you can catch the family in the middle of a scwabble.

So why do I go there? Because they handmake the buns for their burgers, the cook is a certified chef, and the entire family welcomes me by name with my favorite drink. I never feel like an intrusion no matter how long I linger.

Okay, it’s more than that. The entire atmosphere is ripe for personalities and people. It never feels like you are walking into a restaurant. It feels like to are walking into a families kitchen to sit down and enjoy a meal. The owners know a good portion of the community and offer military and law enforcement a discount on their food. There are just so many kinds of people who come through here…it’s hard not to get inspired by them.

As I sit here two gentleman have come through the door. They smell of paint and sweat and the musk of rain. One is slim, the other is fat. The slim one has the dark weathered look of a man who spends a great deal of time in the sun. His bleached hair hands around a slender and worn face. The sleeves of his pink floyd t-shirt are just short enough to reveal the ink of old tattoos.

The larger man keeps tugging at his pants. His wide legged posture takes up a great deal of limited space and his companion is forced to stick his legs under his own chair. The ash brown curls around the fat mans face are short enough that they turn his head into a perfect ball shape.

They talk about the old ladies house they just got done painting.

There is a good chance I will use these two in a story somewhere along the line. I’ve already added their descriptions to my notebook and will tug at that when I need someone interesting…

I guess what I’m saying is that this place inspires me and for all my writers out there I encourage you to find your place. Just don’t take this one. It’s mine.

Literary Elitistism

I dislike literary elitism. No, I am comfortable enough to say I that I loathe it. There is not point to it. No one has any right to pass judgement on the books that inspire someone else’s happiness.The fact is, I hear it all the time. Heck, I’ve even been guilty of it.

I bring this up today due to a recent personal experience.

I found the most incredible used bookstore a few weeks back. It’s just under 200,000 books packed into 800 square feet of literary bliss organized by genre. From the moment you walk in you wonder if you are overwhelmed or dead…maybe both.

My first visit was two hours of wandering around going ‘whoa’ as I struggled to figure out what to spend my rather minuscule funds on. I made friends with the owner and we talked for an hour about the pros and cons of running an independent bookstore. She confided that she wasn’t sure how long she’d be open. She’d made less in the past year than she had in the previous few. It was disheartening to hear since I had so recently fallen in love.

My most recent visit was less than appealing. It was not the owner manning the counter; it was her daughter. The girl is within my age bracket and had always been fairly quiet before. Today, however, she seemed to be in a mood that I can only describe as persnickety. She was currently organizing a series of paranormal romance books to go back up on the shelves.

I asked her if they had gotten in anything by one of the authors I prefer. She began talking loudly about how she wouldn’t know because she was busy going through, and I’m quoting here “These shitty vampire novels are taking up all my time.”

I am one of those people who smile when I’m feeling kind of awkward. I don’t mean to. It just happens. I did so then and she took it as agreement and continued to rant about how paranormal romances were killing modern literature.

During this rant she did not notice another girl, a few years our junior, returning some of her near-purchases to the shelves.I did and it bothered me a lot. Between the price of the books and the number the girl placed back I’d average that the girl behind the counter lost her business about $20.

It may not seem like much, but to a small business $20 is nothing to sneer at. I couldn’t help but wonder how many other times the girl behind the counter had cost her owner money and if that was part of the decreasing profit margin over the past year.

There is a good chance that girl who liked the vampire novels is going to look elsewhere for her business. I know I would.

Now, don’t mistake me. I’m not saying a person doesn’t have a right to their opinion. You don’t have to read about paranormal sex if you don’t want to. If you think a certain book is the bane of all literature everywhere…that’s fine. Talk about it when you are with your buddies or on a date. What I’m saying is that is it really worth making someone else feel like crap for the things that make them happy especially when you are on the clock.