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.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Three of THE PAPER MAGICIAN Series, Sold!

I'd like to announce that the third book to The Paper Magician trilogy, The Master Magician, has been sold to 47North! I don't have a solid release date yet, but it's coming. I'm working on edits for it now. :)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Classic Psychosexual and Feminine Archetypes: A Freudian and Jungian Analysis of The Paper Magician

Yep, you read the title right.

A friend of mine actually wrote an essay using Freud and Jung's theories to analyze my book. XD While I won't say it's entirely accurate to my intentions, it is a very, very amusing read.

[Spoiler Warning.] Don't read if you don't want spoilers for The Paper Magician.


Classic Psychosexual and Feminine Archetypes: A Freudian and Jungian Analysis of The Paper Magician

By Connor Hoover, M.S., B.S., A.A.

The characters of Charlie Holmberg’s “The Paper Magician” can be viewed as avatars of classic conceptions of cis woman feminine sexuality and heteronormative male/female sexual interactions. The specifics of the relation between the characters and human sexuality depend on the particular literary and psychological perspective one takes in examining them. This essay will primarily focus on two perspectives: First the Freudian perspective emphasizing the characters as individuals struggling with their own libidos and neurosis, and second the Jungian perspective which views the characters as archetypes representing more global views of sexuality.

In terms of Neo-Freudian psychology Ceony Twill, our protagonist, could almost certainly be described as having an “Electra Complex”. The Electra Complex, the female equivalent of the Oedipus Complex (Originally proposed by Carl Jung, somewhat ironically for this review) results when a child fails to fully resolve the struggles produced by their libido in the phallic stage of psychosexual development. In young girls, this manifests as a desire to kill their mothers and marry their fathers. Failure to resolve these feelings can lead to latent desires that manifest in their later choice of sexual partners.

These latent desires are expressed quite clearly in Ceony’s choice of sexual partners, her mentor who is 11 years her senior. Emery Thane is the only real paternal figure in the book expressing many characteristics that make him Ceony’s surrogate father. First, he is more than a decade older than she, second he holds a position of power, authority, and greater knowledge over her, he rewards her with attention and gifts (such as Fennel), and he several times displays nurturing fatherly qualities (At one point even delivering a baby). Ceony submits to her desires by rapidly and eagerly assuming stereotypical female gender roles, such as cooking, cleaning, and performing errands in an effort to win Thane’s affections. Thane however remains stoic, never clearly responding to the gestures made by Ceony. This withholding of affection, another common father-daughter relationship trope, only increases Ceony’s desires.

The desire for a relationship with this father figure is only half of the complex however; to fully actualize her desires Ceony must also murder her pseudo-mother, Thane’s former wife Lira. Lira is an older woman who is described as having wide hips, large bust, and beautiful face. All of these features are associated with sexuality and fecundity. These sexual characteristics also intimidated Ceony, as she comments on them frequently and compares herself to them unfavorably. Freud also theorized that failure to successfully resolve the phallic stage of development could result in a tendency towards homosexuality. As such, Ceony’s preoccupation with Lira’s figure could be a result of repressed bisexuality. Nevertheless, Thane remains her primary object of sexual fixation and when Lira literally steals his heart (highly symbolic of Ceony’s jealousy and envy of their more mature previous sexual relationship) Ceony must kill this maternal figure to retrieve it.

The gauntlet of trials Ceony must pass through while inside of Thane’s heart is ripe with sexual symbolism and metaphors for her blossoming sexuality. In each of four chambers of the heart Ceony encounters a different aspect of Thane’s psyche. This is also where her feelings for him become fully realized. The first two chambers of the heart are full of fond memories and hopes for the future, with the second two containing painful dark memories and doubts. The transitions between these chambers are through large, suffocating, fleshy valves that ooze blood. This transition from happy memories to dark, from innocence to desire, mediated by blood and vaginal imagery represents Ceony’s transition to womanhood. As young girls begin their journey through puberty, heralded by the beginning of menstruation, they become increasingly aware of their sexual desires and often experience a great amount of angst. All of these features are present in Ceony’s journey as well.
Ceony successfully kills her rival with the aid of her mentor’s spirit and reclaims his heart, a victory of her greater love and determination as well as a full realization of her repressed desires. Finally at peace with her libido she returns the heart to her mentor and foretells a happy family life in their future, finally resolving her internal conflict.

To contrast the interpretation of the story focusing on the sexual conflicts within Ceony, a Jungian interpretation focuses more on the opposing archetypes of female sexuality represented by Ceony and Lira. The perspective here is then larger than a single character but centered on the duality represented by the two primary female characters. Ceony represents a view of femininity as chaste, pure, and virginal. Her desires and actions are scholarly, domestic, and familial. She does not publicly acknowledge her sexual desires and the thought of them is highly embarrassing to her. Though initially her goals are primarily scholastic, she quickly and enthusiastically accepts the idea of creating a family. Even then, her visions and conceptions of love are those of a virgin: idyllic meadows, family picnics, sunshine and vegetation. Sex and carnality are not a part of her perception of family life. In classic literature Ceony would be the virgin or maiden archetype: innocent and pure, uncorrupted by sinful desires.

Lira conversely represents the wicked aspects of feminine sexuality, the temptress archetype. Lira openly flaunts her sex appeal and uses it to her advantage. She is seductive and manipulative, evoking the sirens of Greek myth that lure men to their deaths with beauty and song. Lira is corrupted by her sexual desires; the desire for Thane’s affections that drives her to rip his heart from his chest, the desire for sex which drives her to infidelity, and the desire for power which leads her to practice dark forbidden magics. This connection between female sexual appeal and black magic has roots going back centuries, throughout the folklore of many different cultures. Witches, sorceresses, and succubae are all associated both with unbridled female sexuality and evil. This fear of the “magical” power of female sexuality is pervasive throughout history and heightens the dichotomy between the heroine and antagonist.

Therefore when Ceony defeats Lira she not only defeating her antagonist but also the embodiment of evil she wishes to overcome. In a sense, Ceony is defeating her own lustful desires which could tempt her down the same path as Lira to become a selfish being of sexual power. The victory then is for one particular concept of femininity over the other, the pure mind triumphing over the tainted, the chaste over the impure, and the mother over the harlot. Ceony’s final vision of her family should come as no surprise then as it is the ultimate fate of the maiden to become the mother and begin the cycle anew.

Monday, October 6, 2014