Monday, December 22, 2014

Brain-brewing (and Aqua Notes)

This was originally posted on Alex Bledsoe's blog as part of The Paper Magician blog tour.


There are millions of places a writer can go to get an idea: museums, national parks, Wikipedia, even other writers’ books. The “what ifs” and crazy combinations of stuff in this world are endless. (Jim Butcher’s Furies of Calderon, for example, came from shoving Pokemon and a lost Roman legion into the same story.) Ultimately, the question of, “Where do you get your ideas?”, is relatively moot, because ideas are everywhere. Though, alternatively, I’ve recently discovered that sometimes the best place to get an idea is inside my own head.

The human brain processes thousands of stimulants and chunks of information daily. All of these—news articles, your strange new neighbor, that weird pear tree that smells like a corpse*, the story of your best friend’s cousin’s most recent breakup—leaves involuntary dregs inside your mind, much like a snail trail. Whether you’re actively thinking about the information or not, it’s all sitting inside your skull, forming piles of puzzle pieces that don’t seem to fit together. It’s surprising how many ideas I can come with when I’m forced to stand in a locked white room with my own brain, staring at said puzzle pieces until I see a bigger picture.

Ever heard of Aqua Notes? 

This product is ingenious. I can’t think of how many times I’ve gotten a great idea in the shower and have had to repeat it to myself over and over so I could remember it by the time I got out. We’ve all been there. But why do great ideas come in such a strange place? Because [usually] we’re alone. Just us and the ceramic. Just me and my brain.

Road trips are even better. Instead of twenty minutes alone with your thoughts, you have hours. Long, boring hours of dry southern Idaho countryside. After you’ve played the alphabet game and forty rounds of 20 Questions, it’s either white-room-brain-time or jumping onto the pavement whizzing by at eighty miles per hour.

I’ve “discovered” so many story ideas just by letting my thoughts drift until I reach one that’s especially unique or bizarre. It was during the long, twelve-hour trip from Moscow, ID to Salt Lake City that I came up with the idea for The Paper Magician: the idea of using man-made materials to cast spells. The idea of making the setting of the story an internal organ. The idea of giving a man a paper heart.

An idea is like good wine (or so I’ve heard, I’ve never actually had wine). The longer it ages, the better it tastes. And sometimes, when writers step away from the world and stare at the bottle long enough, they discover a blend of flavors that makes their writing excel.

Go ahead, try it. This drink’s on me.

*These are all over BYU campus.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hot Men & Hot Books: Best Books of 2014

The Paper Magician made the list for the top Kindle romance books for 2014! If that isn't exciting enough, THEY MADE A VIDEO OF IT. With dancing guys. I love it. :D

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Problems I Have With Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass"

For those of you unfamiliar with the song:

I normally don't dissect catchy songs trying to send a good message on the internet, but this one has been on my mind (and I admit, stuck in my head) for a while now--enough so that I decided to share what about the song bothers me, despite Trainor's good intentions.

1.) "Every inch of you is perfect" . . . unless you're a skinny girl.

One of the best lines of the song--"'Cause every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top," is negated in later verses. Case and point:

You know I won't be no stick figure


I'm bringing booty back. Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that

So apparently "every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top," unless you're a skinny girl. Because we all know that underweight women have no reason to feel self-conscious about their bodies, right?

The point of the song is that we should feel beautiful regardless of what society's standard of beauty is, but unfortunately "All About That Bass" attempts to achieve this by elevating one body type over another, which just repeats the same problem we have with women and media image in the first place.

2.) Women shouldn't have to measure their personal worth based off what a man wants.

I know I know, sites like have turned me into somewhat of a feminist. But women and girls alike should feel good about themselves and about how they look because they're comfortable in their own skin. Because they've realized the standards society has placed on them are ridiculous. Because they've striven to build up their own confidence.

However, lyrics such as "boys like a little more booty to hold at night" and "I've got the boom boom that all the boys chase" is encouraging us to measure our beauty by what men want us to look like. Go ahead and tell me I'm stretching things, but those lines do encourage female objectification, however subtly.

Beauty is in the eye of the [male] beholder.

3.) Don't worry about your size. Except you should?

Trainor sings:

My mama she told me don't worry about your size
She says, "Boys like a little more booty to hold at night."

So your mother told you don't worry about your size... unless you've got a flat butt? Because if boys like a woman with a grab-able booty (see point #2), then girls who don't have one now have to worry about putting weight on. So really, your mama was lying to you. (Don't worry about your size, but better not lose weight or you won't have any more cuddle-buddies!) (Not to mention the lines are more or less referencing that "more booty" is beneficial only in a sexual context.)

So, there you have it. While I think "All About That Bass" is catchy, and Meghan Trainor is a very talented and well-meaning individual, the song rubs me in too many wrong ways. /feminism

Monday, November 10, 2014

Winners of THE GLASS MAGICIAN Giveaway!

Time is up! Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway for The Glass Magician!

The winner of the paperback copy is {Scribbler} Skye.

The winner of the audiobook is Erika V. (Erika, please email me at charlienholmberg(at) so I can get your mailing address!)

Congrats to the winners! I'll be contacting you to get information for sending out the books!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Release Day for THE GLASS MAGICIAN & Giveaway!


Today is the official release day for book two of The Paper Magician series, The Glass Magician! This book is my personal favorite of the trilogy and I'm so excited to see it out in the world! So excited, in fact, that I want to give away two free copies!

I'm giving away one paperback and one audiobook (CD or MP3, whichever the winner chooses), both of which will be signed, of course. International participants are welcome. :)

All I ask is that you leave a comment below. If your contact information is hard to find, please either leave an email address or be really stringent about checking back at this blog to see if you've won. The contest will be open through Sunday, November 9, and the winner will be announced the following Monday.

I'll be celebrating the release by talking at a bunch of high schoolers about writing and hoping they think I'm at least somewhat interesting. :) Then pizza! (So I can convince a bunch of cub scouts that I'm also somewhat interesting....)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Glass Magician Releases Tuesday!

Nov 4th from 47North
The second book in The Paper Magician series, The Glass Magician, releases this upcoming
Tuesday, November 4th! I am tremendously excited for this book. So far my early readers and I agree that it's better than book one. :)

Goodreads is running a giveaway up until the release for 20 copies of the book, so please scope it out and share the word!

There are also e-copies available for anyone with a Netgalley account.

The book is available now for preorder as an ebook, audiobook (I quite enjoy Amy McFadden's numerous accents), and paperback on

Thank you so much for your support in this endeavor. I am floored by the successes this series has garnered thus far. I feel like a crowd surfer in the hands of my readers! #CORNYLINEATTACK

But really, thank you!

(Also, I apologize to anyone who has tried to contact me through my website; the contact form has been down this week. I'm working on getting it fixed. You're welcome to skip the form and simply contact me at CharlieNHolmberg at gmail dot com.)