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Monday, December 21, 2015

This Year's Christmas Comes with an Announcement...

...of the non-writing variety.



Yep.

Baby Holmberg #2 is due July 8th, 2016! First ultrasound is TODAY.

Now for me to post all the pregnancy-related tweets I wanted to send over the last two months:


Eating is getting REALLY annoying.

I just bought these nice new bras and now I don't fit into them anymore. I know, no one feels bad for me.

Today is barely giving me a break. Sick. Must edit. Must . . . sick. #sickface

I'm really starting to hate eating, and I'm an American.

Good heavens I can not edit this scene while I'm pregnant. I am horrified by my own morbid ideas. Did I have to use the word "Chunky"?

Reading is, so far, the best anti-nausea, because I don't think about it when I'm sucked into another world. But we're still going to try Emetrol.

Emetrol, Emetrol. Nausea calls? Emetrol. Does it taste like cough syrup? Yes it does, but don't spit it. Look out! Here comes the Emetroooooollllll!

Is sneezing a pregnancy symptom? I sneeze all the time, now...

Who am I kidding? EVERYTHING is a pregnancy symptom

Nothing like eating a burrito smothered in hot sauce at 10:30 PM...

I morph from good to bad so quickly. PITY ME.

Anyone want to come be my butler? I just need fridge runs and frequent bed-pan changes.

EVERYONE PLEASE STOP TALKING ABOUT FOOD. (This one was for Thanksgiving week. I ate potatoes.)

This has been a good weekend! Minimal nausea! Woooo!

Oh look. Crackers. Again.

Baby Center just sent me a slideshow of pregnancy sex positions...

This is almost literally puberty all over again. #acne #butmyboobslooknice




Anyway. Merry Christmas/(C)Hannukah/Kwanza/Solstice/Whathaveyou and a happy New Year! 


Hopefully my next post will detail a release date and/or a cover for Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet.* :)








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*Though in edits the main character's name is now spelled "Maire." #random

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Why Teaching Matters: A Reflection on Where My Journey Started

Today I want to talk, briefly, about why teachers matter. Or, more specifically, about how two teachers influenced me as a person and in my choice of career. I’ve been thinking about these two people for some time now and thought, “Hey, why not write a blog post about them.”

Both of these teachers taught English in coinciding classes at my high school. They both retired the year after I graduated.

The first one I would like to address is “Mr. G.”

Mr. G was my English teacher my sophomore year of high school. He was a teacher liked by many; such could be seen by the occasional mid-class drop-in by teenaged boys—his past students—who he would then chase out of his room with a yard stick in a great show for the rest of us. I learn a lot about grammar in his class.

Yet, my most vivid memory of Mr. G is a day when we were copying something—I don’t recall what—off of a projector screen. My pencil had dulled, so I walked up to the front of the class to sharpen it. En route, I accidentally tripped over the projector cord and unplugged it. Yes, a little embarrassing to trip in front of your entire class, but ultimately no harm done.

However, after I tripped and before I could plug the machine back in, Mr. G stood up from his desk and started shouting at me. Needless to say I was shocked. Cue deer in the headlights. He bellowed several things at me, but the part I remember verbatim is this: “You don’t think, Charlie! I wish you would think, but you don’t.”

This was not the only incident where Mr. G “bumped heads" with me, but it was certainly the most memorable. When he was finished, I plugged in the projector, returned to my desk with a dull pencil, and spent the rest of the class trying not to cry.

Now, let me tell you about “Ms. B.”

Ms. B was a creative soul. She had cardboard cutouts of The Lord of the Rings characters lining the walls of her classroom. She taught a wide variety of things English, including Lit & Film and Creative Writing, the latter of which I took from her twice. She also ran the high school’s literary magazine.

Ms. B was not my “friend.” She wasn’t a “one-of-the-guys” teacher, but she was a good teacher. Ms. B is the one who first taught me how to write. She taught me how to expand my imagination and encouraged my creativity. She gave me good feedback on my work: compliments and criticism alike. I was not the best writer in her class by far, mind you. I was about average.

This teacher never said anything extraordinary to me. She never offered an inspirational quote that I still heed to this day or did anything that fundamentally changed the course of my life. But Ms. B had an overall impact on me, creating a current for which the boat into my current career would float.

This is why teaching matters.

I could heed the words and behaviors of Mr. G and believe that, since he’s my teacher, since he’s the one in charge, he must be right. I must not know how to use my brain. I must not know how to think. I must dumber than my male counterparts, to whom he always showed far more respect than me.

Fortunately, I grew in the nourishment of Ms. B, who was willing to believe in me as much as I believed in myself. Who was willing to listen to me and help me grow, who celebrated my creative writing scholarship to BYU alongside me in the long hours I spent in her classroom after the school day had ended. I even had the fortune of running into her in the parking lot of Bed Bath & Beyond a couple months ago. When I recognized her, I jumped out of my friend’s car and ran to her driver’s side door, gushing at her about how much her classes meant to me and all the successes I’ve been able to achieve because of the path she helped me find. It was a good day for me and, I hope, a good day for her.

If I ever run into Mr. G, I hope I can tell him about all the successes I’ve been able to achieve in spite of what he thought of me.

Teachers matter. What they say and do matters. It’s been over ten years since I’ve had any influence from either of these people, but I still think about them often. I hate to admit it, but even today those angry words from Mr. G echo in the back of my mind. However, I’m happy to say that I know, 100%, that they’re wrong, and that is thanks to good, uplifting teachers. Teachers like Ms. B.


So thank you, again, Ms. Beck, for all you did for me.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Sold! Book #5: MAGIC BITTER, MAGIC SWEET

GUESS WHAT GUYS I'M GOING TO HAVE A FIFTH BOOK.

It's official as of last night. My novel, Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet,* has sold to 47North and will likely be released in 2016, but I make no promises. A more permanent release date will be announced when it's had.

Not many people even know this manuscript existed, and that's because I accidentally skipped about three major steps in the process. This book did not see the eyes of my usual alpha readers, just a few friends. It never went to my beta readers or got my personal read-through. My editor actually read the freaking rough draft. Talk about embarrassing, but apparently it hit the right buttons!

Ever since I wrote The Paper Magician, I've had this bad habit of drafting short. Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet was the length of TPM in rough draft form, and I've been working this month on adding 20,000 words (that's a 33% increase!) to the manuscript. I like to pitch the book as the Grimm Brothers meets Paula Dean meets another-book-I-won't-name-because-it's-kind-of-a-spoiler.

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet is a standalone, other-world fantasy novel with fairytale allusions. Here's the pitch via Publisher's Marketplace:

Mare, a woman bereft of memories, has the peculiar ability to infuse baked goods with emotions and talents. Sold into slavery, she encounters two men from her past: one who can’t touch her, and one who might kill her. Mare fights to reclaim her history as she struggles against her captivity, but her memories are tied to dark secrets with godly consequences—secrets that may better be left forgotten.

Thank you so much to everyone who has held my hand on this journey and made it possible for me to sell another book! I hope you guys enjoy this one!







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*My publisher and I literally just came up with this title. Other ideas included Crumbs and Sugar and Spice and Everything Broken.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Release Day for THE JOCK AND THE FAT CHICK by Nicole Winters

Who's excited to read this? Me. That's right. I'M excited.

~*~

A love story between a big, beautiful girl who knows who she is and a popular jock who’s afraid of what he wants.



No one ever said high school was easy. In this hilarious and heartwarming debut, one high school senior has to ask himself how much he's willing to give up in order to fit in.

Kevin seems to have it all: he's popular, good looking, and on his way to scoring a college hockey scholarship. However, he's keeping two big secrets. The first is that he failed an assignment and is now forced to take the most embarrassing course ever--domestic tech. The second is that he is falling for his domestic tech classmate, Claire.

As far as Kevin is concerned, Claire does have it all: she's funny, smart, beautiful, and confident. But she's off-limits. Because Kevin knows what happens when someone in his group dares to date a girl who isn't a cheerleader, and there's no way he is going to put himself—or Claire—through that.

But steering clear of the girl of his dreams is a lot harder than Kevin thought…especially when a cooking project they are paired together for provides the perfect opportunity for things to heat up between them outside the classroom….


Sound amazing? You can nab the book almost anywhere!

HarperCollins

Amazon

iTunes

Barnes and Noble

~*~

As a C average student with a learning disability, Nicole was herself a reluctant reader. That changed when, at the age of twelve, she was assigned S. E. Hinton's classic YA novel The Outsiders. After devouring the book in a single sitting, Nicole came to understand how the right story can capture the imagination and enthusiasm of anyone - reluctant reader or otherwise. From there, Nicole gravitated towards tales of adventure, suspense, romance and horror. Her works focus on human relationships and the personal journeys of the characters, creating stories she hopes will excite and inspire readers.
Nicole enjoys travelling the world, but calls Toronto home. She is the author of TT Full Throttle (a YA road racing novel) and is currently at work on her third novel, The Conjurer.

Website
Twitter
FB Author Page
FB Book Page








Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Release Day for FOLLOWED BY FROST!

Follow by Frost releases TODAY!

Seventeen-year-old Smitha's wealth, status, and
beauty make her the envy of her town—until she
rejects a strange man’s marriage proposal and disastrous
consequences follow. Smitha becomes cursed, and
frost begins to encompass everything she touches. Banished to
the hills, hunted by villagers, and chilled to the very core
of her soul, she finds companionship with Death, who longs
to coax her into his isolated world. But Smitha's desire for life proves
stronger than despair, and a newfound purpose gives her hope. Will
regrets over the past and an unexpected desire for a man she cannot touch
be enough to warm Smitha’s heart, or will Death forever still it?


If you're local to Utah, I'll be doing a release party at The King's English Bookshop this Saturday, September 26th, at 7:00 PM.

Interested in the book? You can scope it out on Goodreads or buy it on Amazon. (Or B&N, for all you Nookies.)


~*~













Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Interview and Giveaway with Romantic Fantasy Author Caitlyn McFarland

I am ecstatic to have Caitlyn McFarland on the blog today! Caitlyn and I met because we both signed with our agent, Marlene Stringer, within a year of each other. I moved back to Utah, we met, and now we're basically soul mates.

Caitlyn is an amazing writer, especially when it comes to romantic tension. I haven't written fan-fiction in years, but I am SO tempted to write some based off her Dragonsworn series (Carina Press). I really am obsessed with them. So hard. (I really love her books so much that I'm about to break my no-cowriting rule and create a magnificent beast of fiction with her.)

ANYWAY. I bombed Caitlyn with questions and she's sharing the love by giving away the first two ebooks of the series: Soul of Smoke and Shadow of Flame. The third book, Truth of Embers, comes out in December (just in time for Christmas).

~*~

Where did you get the ideas for your dragons and the different magic they use?

So, there are ten dragon clans in the Dragonsworn world and each clan has their own magic. When I started Soul of Smoke, I actually only had the Elemental dragons. Then I realized that was stupid, because there are dragon legends from all over the world. Of course dragons would be from everywhere. Because of the limited scope of the story, I could never go as in-depth as I really wanted, but I tried to look at dragon mythology from different parts of the world and give the dragons from those places powers that were related to their legends. I ran into a problem, though, when I found out that almost all non-Western dragons are associated with water, and many of them don't have magic, only poison. A lot of the clans ended up with powers that only related to their originating mythology in a very tangential way, or not at all.

What is your favorite love story?

Um... all of them? LOL. I'm a fan of every romance from Shakespeare to Austen to Nora Roberts to
authors with romance-heavy YA fantasy like Laini Taylor and Marissa Meyer. My ideal love story would probably combine the forbidden love aspect of Romeo and Juliet with the banter/wit of Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing.

No one steal that. I'm going to write it.

If you had to pick a pop song written in the last ten years as your theme song, what would it be?

My theme song changes depending on my mood. Sometimes I'm “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift and sometimes I'm “Demons” or “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons. Every once in a while I'm “Moonlight Sonata,” but only under ideal circumstances. Usually I trip over things too often to be classical. For a year in college I was “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift. Those were interesting times.

If you had to write a fanfiction of your own series, what would it be about?

I've actually started a couple of short stories about what Cadoc gets up to in the weeks between Soul of Smoke and Shadow of Flame. I'd also really like to write Griffith and Ffion's love story. Someday I probably will. I feel like I owe them because REASONS.

If you and your protagonist, Kai, switched places, how different would the story be?

Ha! There would be no story. At the beginning of the first book, Kai saves Rhys from an attack by another dragon. When it comes to fight or flight, my reaction is “freeze.” I would have been eaten and we’d all be dead. The end.

How do you handle the fact that your books are emotionally destroying me?

Well, you know...



I love you, Charlie.

What is your favorite movie and least favorite movie of the last year, and why?

The only movie from this year I can remember seeing at this moment is Inside Out. I'm going to be honest, I've spent most of 2015 watching all nine seasons of Supernatural that are on Netflix. Now I'm waiting for season 10. They're all favorite. Also I finished Parks and Rec. It's favorite, too. Least favorite... hm... I don't know. I fill my brain with things I like and forget about the things I don't.

Is there a particular author that you look up to?

I look up to J.K. Rowling. I mean, yeah, she's crazy successful, but in my opinion she's also really good. I've read Harry Potter (several times) and the mysteries she writes as Robert Gailbraith. It's astounding to me how different those stories are. She's so good at establishing tone. Aside from that, the continuity in the HP books is insane, and that's much harder to pull off than I think readers understand. But now that I'm thinking about it, if I could have awesomeness equivalent to any other author out there, I'd choose Maggie Stiefvater. Not only is she insanely intelligent and insightful, she's a gifted artist and such a talented author. The Scorpio Races is probably in my top three favorite books of all time.

Tell us a secret talent of yours that isn't writing-related.

I like to sew overly complicated Halloween costumes for my daughters. Here are the ones from last year:



The Merida costume was reused from two years before, but those Frozen costumes took me A LOT of time. So much time I was too lazy to carve the pumpkins, as you can see. Also, I like to sing Broadway music. Sometimes I sketch Very Bad Art.

Where do you draw your crazy romance-writing skills from?

If I have any skills, it would have to be from a lifetime of reading/watching every romance I can get my hands on. More than that, I just seriously love the idea of people falling in love—and not just falling in love, but finding something they lack in the other person and becoming better because of each other. Also, I have to say that recently I've learned a lot about how to structure a romance from my editors, Libby Murphy and Angela James.

What's next on the horizon, writing-wise?
Releases December 14th

Right now I'm finishing edits on TRUTH OF EMBERS, the final book of the Dragonsworn trilogy, and I am SO excited about it. I've been waiting to write some of those scenes for years. After that, I'm working on a project I'm calling TRAVELER (the title will change). It's along the lines of the Dragonsworn books in that it's a contemporary-ish fantasy about a girl in college who finds herself sucked into something magical, but this is more along the lines of an enchanted forest/portal fantasy with a twist. I drafted the story back in 2013 and I'm really excited to be able to visit that world again. After that, I kind of want to get into YA.


GIVEAWAY

Caitlyn is hosting a giveaway on Twitter for Soul of Smoke and Shadow of Flame! Retweet the tweet linked HERE to enter. You can get an additional entry by commenting on this post (or the first entry if you don't have Twitter). 




About Caitlyn

Originally from the Midwest, Caitlyn McFarland currently lives in Utah with her husband and three young daughters. She has a Bachelor’s degree in linguistics from Brigham Young University. When she’s not writing about dragons or running around after her daughters, she can be found hunched over a sewing machine making elaborate princess costumes.

Want more Caitlyn? (Of course you do)

Goodreads

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday, August 3, 2015

#PitchWars Mentor Bio Blog Hop: A/NA Fantasy



I'm so excited to participate in Pitch Wars again! And, like last year, I'll be mentoring new adult and adult fantasy submissions.


What am I looking for?

  • Romantic fantasy
  • Paranormal romance
  • Epic/high fantasy
  • Dark fantasy
  • Historical fantasy
  • Urban fantasy
  • Unique dystopian
  • Magical realism
  • Space opera

Romance and thinking vastly outside the box gets you bonus points.

I am NOT a good match for Tolkien-esque stories, paranormal crime-fighting, or hard science fiction. I'm also not a good fit for manuscripts with erotic scenes* or excessive violence.**

About Me:

I'm a writer (obviously), a Trekkie, a mom, and a Mormon. I have an unhealthy obsession with eyeglasses. I'm a traditionally published author currently with 47North, which is the speculative fiction imprint of Amazon Publishing. I'm the author of The Paper Magician series and Followed by Frost, the latter of which releases September 22nd. I also wrote "Salt and Water," which debuted in last year's My Bloody Valentine anthology. I'm agented by Marlene Stringer.

Why submit to me? (AKA that awkward part of this post where I have to talk about how great I am.):

I'm an Amazon- and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. I actually have a degree in editing. I'm super good with semicolons. I'm also internationally published and don't have a day job, which means I answer emails pretty quickly. ;)

I got my agent through old-fashioned cold-querying. I'm good with queries and know what works and what doesn't.

Still not sure if I'm the mentor for you? Here are some of my favorite books so you can get a feel for what I like (some of these are YA, but you get the jist):
  • Anything by Brandon Sanderson
  • Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
  • Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
  • Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
  • I Am NOT a Serial Killer by Dan Wells
  • The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • Howl's Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones
  • Blackdog by K. V. Johansen
  • Soul of Smoke by Caitlyn McFarland


Mister Linky's Magical Widgets -- Auto-Linky widget will appear right here!This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.If this widget does not appear, click here to display it.

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*Don't get me wrong, I like sex just like the next romance-reading gal. But if it gets steamier than The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (N. K. Jemesin), then I'm not a good match for the story.

**AKA I don't read Stephen King. ;) (Despite his being a genius)


Friday, July 24, 2015

Followed by Frost Available for Review Request on NetGalley

Great news! Followed by Frost is now available for review request on NetGalley, so if you want to read the book early (and for free), sign up for NetGalley! :)

Seventeen-year-old Smitha's wealth, status, and beauty make her the envy of her town—until she rejects a strange man’s marriage proposal and disastrous consequences follow. Smitha becomes cursed, and frost begins to encompass everything she touches. Banished to the hills, hunted by villagers, and chilled to the very core of her soul, she finds companionship with Death, who longs to coax her into his isolated world. But Smitha's desire for life proves stronger than despair, and a newfound purpose gives her hope. Will regrets over the past and an unexpected desire for a man she cannot touch be enough to warm Smitha’s heart, or will Death forever still it?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Auction to Save an Author's Home

Hi friends,

This week a bunch of the #PitchWars mentors have donated a bunch of great prizes to a charity auction for Veronica Bartles, whose home has been damaged horrendously by a broken pipe and subsequent mold, and the insurance company refuses to help out. You can learn more about the house and the auction on Brenda Drake's website.

One of the SEVENTY-SEVEN items up for auction is the complete, signed paperback trilogy of The Paper Magician series. If that doesn't float your boat, then I'm sure some of the other items will, so please check it out!

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Master Magician Made the WSJ Bestseller List!

Amazing news!! The Master Magician made the Wall Street Journal's bestseller list!

This is AMAZING, and I am SO GRATEFUL to everyone who purchased a copy to make this happen. Dreams are coming true, baby!

You can see the list here.

Thank you! :D 

Friday, June 5, 2015

THE MASTER MAGICIAN is Published!

Oh yeah.

THE MASTER MAGICIAN RELEASED ON TUESDAY.



How did I forget to mention this??? This is the final book of the trilogy!* And guys, I am floored by the number of preorders this thing got. Thank you thank you thank you for all the support you've lent me during this exciting journey! I truly feel so so blessed. I LOVE EVERYONE.

Also! The prologue and first chapter of Followed by Frost (releasing 9/22/15) is in the back of this book. ;)

Hurray for bad lighting and no makeup!


Want to see The Master Magician for yourself? You can buy the book/ebook/audiobook here.

Want to start from the beginning? Check out The Paper Magician.











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*I'm considering it a "soft end" because there are maybes floating about.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Cover Reveal! Followed by Frost, New YA-Crossover Standalone

I am so excited to reveal the cover for Followed by Frost, my YA-crossover standalone that will be releasing from 47North on September 22nd. This is my favorite of all the books I've written; I'm so happy to see it on the road to print!

What's the book about? Here you go:

Seventeen-year-old Smitha has the wealth, status, and beauty that make her the envy of her town—until she rejects a strange man’s marriage proposal and disastrous consequences follow. Smitha becomes cursed, and frost begins to encompass everything she touches. Banished to the hills, hunted by villagers, and chilled to the very core of her soul, she finds companionship with Death, who longs to coax her into his isolated world. But Smitha’s desire for life proves stronger than despair, and a newfound purpose gives her renewed hope. Will regrets over the past and an unexpected desire for a man she cannot touch be enough to warm Smitha’s heart, or will Death forever still it?

And now, the cover!

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So, what do you think? :D

Followed by Frost is releasing in paperback, ebook, and audiobook. You can preorder the novel from Amazon here or from Barnes and Noble here, or add it to your Goodreads list.

Also, the prologue for Followed by Frost will be printed in the back of The Master Magician, which releases June 2nd!



Monday, April 27, 2015

Soul of Smoke Cover Reveal!

I am ECSTATIC to share the cover for Soul of Smoke by Caitlyn McFarland, who is my agency sister and one of my besties. She's also my literary drug dealer, because I am OBSESSED with her books. I don't even like dragons, yet I have to resist the urge to create endless fanfiction of her novels which, yes, have dragons in them. As you are about to see.

So, what's Soul of Smoke about?

On a hike deep in the Rocky Mountains, Kai Monahan watches as a dozen dragons—actual freaking dragons—battle beneath a fat white moon. When one crashes nearly dead at her feet and transforms into a man, Kai does the only thing a decent person could: she grabs the nearest sword and saves his life.

As the dragon/man, Rhys, recovers from the attack, a chance brush of skin against skin binds him inextricably to Kai. Becoming heartsworn to a human—especially such a compelling one—is the last thing Rhys wants. But with an ancient enemy gathering to pit dragons against humanity and his strength nearly depleted, Kai has just become the one thing Rhys needs. A complete bond will give him the strength to fight; a denied bond means certain death.

Kai is terrified at the thought of allowing any dragon into her mind…or her heart. Accepting the heartswearing and staying with the dragons means sacrificing everything, and Kai must decide if her freedom is worth risking Rhys's life—a life more crucial to the fate of humanity than she could possibly know.


Soul of Smoke releases from Harlequin's Carina Press July 27th. You can add it to your Goodreads shelf here.

And now, the cover. Drum roll!

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Eh? EH?

What do you think?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Learning to Love the No-Makeup Me

I've come to realize that women who don't wear makeup haven't "stopped trying," they're merely more comfortable with who they are than I am with myself.

I am a huge proponent of Beauty Redefined. They have opened up my eyes to things I don't think I would have noticed before. They can be really in-your-face sometimes, but there's truth to what they're saying.

I recently looked in the mirror before going to bed, at myself without makeup, and thought, I don't even know this person. And it's true--I am much more familiar with my made-up self than I am with my natural self. I realized that the image in the mirror was the real me, the way God made me, and yet I'm so uncomfortable with others seeing my naked face that I never go out without makeup.

In the Salt Lake area, people are really gung-ho about looking good. I didn't realize this until I moved out of state. As soon as you cross the border into Utah, you're assaulted with billboards for plastic surgery, fat removal, hair removal, spray tans, etc. It's ridiculous how many billboards and ads there are for that. Even listening to news radio I get ads for surgical "beauty." I recently heard one specifically made for "mommies," as though being a mother automatically makes you ugly.

When I lived in Moscow, I relaxed from the rigid hair-and-makeup routine I'd been practicing since before I was a teenager. The "standard" for "beauty" isn't as high up there--perhaps media hasn't hit it as hard. I started wearing ponytails. I began to feel comfortable with just mascara and cover-up. It was great.

Then I moved to Rexburg for a summer, and back to Salt Lake, and have been again assaulted with high ideals of beauty.

So I'm on a personal mission to like who I am without makeup. To not be hyper-aware every time I'm bare-faced. To be able to go to the store without mascara (which will be the hardest thing to give up). I want to like me without enhancements, because the enhancements are getting out of hand, and they're all focused on women.

My makeup basket. AKA the container for all
my self-confidence palettes.
I'm starting by being bare-faced at home, and I'm taking a selfie of myself every morning. I want to get used to natural me. When I do go out, I'm allowing myself mascara and cover-up so I don't look too different from me-me. (But I'm still going to do my hair.)

Wish me luck. And if you aren't familiar with Beauty Redefined, I highly suggest reading some of their articles.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Paper Magician Art Contest: WINNERS!

First, let me say thank you SO MUCH to everyone who entered the contest! Those who gave permission have their art up on CharlieNHolmberg.com.

I seriously adored every single one of these entries. I am floored by how creative and talented all of you are! I've looked through the pictures so many times just staring at them and being in love.

Yes yes, I know, get on with it. Half of you probably scrolled down to the bottom of this post without even reading this lovely introduction of mine. ;)

As a disclaimer, I gave my judges full authority over who won and who didn't. I did not vote for any of the prize-winners. I also let them determine what did and did not count in the contest (since technically the rules said to draw "your favorite character," which could be construed as only one character per entry. I think most of them weren't strict.)

ANYWAY, the winners. And I'll even restate their prizes so they can see all the stuff I'm sending them. :)

Drum roll!

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FIRST PLACE


"Pages of Adventure" by Jynette Tigner



Jynette has won:

$50 Amazon gift card, signed paperback copies of The Paper Magician
and
 The Glass Magician, signed audiobook copies of The Paper Magician
and 
The Glass Magician
, signed bookplate, bookmark, origami kit,
Cadbury roses, paper crane earrings, and an atomically correct silver heart necklace


SECOND PLACE

"Frisky Fennel" by Katherine Harrill



Katherine has won:

Signed paperback copies of The Paper Magician and The Glass Magician,
signed audiobook copies of 
The Paper Magician and The Glass Magician,
signed bookplate, bookmark, origami kit, and Cadbury roses.


THIRD PLACE

"Ceony Twill" by Anna Papadopoulou


Anna has won:

Signed paperback copies of The Paper Magician and The Glass Magician, signed audiobook copies of The Paper Magician and The Glass Magician, signed bookplate, and bookmark.


While this wasn't in the original contest, due to the votes I wanted to extend an honorable mention to the fourth place winners. Yep. Two entries tied for fourth place: "stories. sunlight." by Isabelle and "Ceony and Fennel" by Diantha Ngo:

stories. sunlight.

Ceony and Fennel


Isabelle and Diantha, I'd love to send each of you a signed copy of a book of your choice--The Paper Magician or The Glass Magician, whichever you'd prefer!



I will be contacting the winners to get their mailing addresses. :)




Thank you again to all the participants! You really made my story come alive, and that means so much to me. :)







Friday, April 3, 2015

Children's Book Day--My Favorite Stories as a Kid

Yesterday was Children's Book Day, and I had a request to share my favorite bedtime stories as a kid on the blog. I know there are many more than I'm listing here, but these are the ones that stand out in my mind:

The Poky Little Puppy. There were a lot of Little Golden Books that I read/had read to me as a child
(like The Saggy Baggy Elephant or The Fuzzy Duckling), but this one stands out to me the most. It's one I now read to my little girl!

Roger's Upside-Down Day. This one is a little more obscure, but my sister and I adored it. I actually memorized it for a poetry reading in elementary school. The entire book is about how Roger Poger goes upside-down for a day.

Clue series. Based off the popular board game. I ate these up. Which is funny, because I'm not much of a mystery reader anymore.

The American Girl books. I got into these in sixth grade and adored them, even though I didn't own any of the dolls. The stories I remember most are the ones about Addy.


What were your favorite books as a kid?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Winners Announced Monday, April 6th

Winners for The Paper Magician Art Contest will be announced this Monday, April 6th! (Which also happens to be both Caitlyn McFarland and Jesus's birthday.)

Thank you for everyone who entered! The number of entries put a big smile on my face. I had no idea my readers were so very talented! :D

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Book Review: I Hope They Call Me on a Mission

Today I’m reviewing something a little different from my norm: a kid’s book! And an LDS kid’s book at that. It’s called I Hope They Call Me on a Mission, written by Benjamin Hyrum White (who was my seminary teacher in high school!) and illustrated by Corey Egbert.


If the title doesn’t give it away, this book is about LDS missionaries, designed namely for kids (I’d say ages five to twelve) who may be considering serving a mission.

(For those of you unfamiliar with LDS missionary work, it’s a service of about two years for young single adults to preach the gospel. It’s usually done out-of-state unless handicap prevents it, and the missionaries pay for all their expenses out-of-pocket. My husband served in Paris, France from 2007-2009. :D)

The book has a great format for the information: Missionaries [do this], plus a few lines of description. Enough to understand, not enough to bore. ;) It covers things kids don’t always hear about missionary work as well, such as exercise and rejection.

I really like the style of art for the book too—it’s very colorful and isn’t monotonous. I Hope They Call Me on a Mission depicts both male and female missionaries, as well as multiple nationalities, so it’s very diverse.

The book starts with a missionary sending a letter home to talk about what he does. The only slightly negative thing I could say about the book is that I wish the motif of the “letter to home” had been kept up through the pages more, and not just at the beginning.

All-in-all, I think it’s a cute and informative book that I’d be happy to share with my own kid.

I Hope They Call Me on a Mission is being sold at Costco, Amazon.com, and Barnes & Noble, so go check it out!

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Paper Magician Art Contest!

It’s officially the month of valentines, cheap candy, social expectations, love, and heartache. This is great. Why? Because Valentine’s Day and The Paper Magician have one big thing in common: they both have paper hearts!

Ba-dum ch. (Cue drums breaking down into hot mess in corner.)

ANYWAY, I wanted to utilize Valentine’s month to announce The Paper Magician Art Contest.


What is it? It’s a contest for artists of all aspects to draw (paint, collage, photograph, etc.) their favorite character(s) from The Paper Magician series. The contest will be open for six weeks (February 16th to March 30th) and will have three winners.

Yes, yes, prizes. Behold:

First Place:

$50 Amazon gift card, signed paperback copies of The Paper Magician
and 
The Glass Magician, signed audiobook copies of The Paper Magician
and 
The Glass Magician, signed bookplate, bookmark, origami kit,
Cadbury roses, paper crane earrings, and an atomically correct silver heart necklace

Second Place:

Signed paperback copies of The Paper Magician and The Glass Magician,
signed audiobook copies of 
The Paper Magician and The Glass Magician,
signed bookplate, bookmark, origami kit, and Cadbury roses.

Third Place:


Signed paperback copies of The Paper Magician and The Glass 

Magician, signed audiobook copies of The Paper Magician and 
The Glass Magician, signed bookplate, and bookmark.


All entries will, with the artists’ consent, also be showcased on CharlieNHolmberg.com.

So, how do you enter?

Starting February 16th, email your entry to CharlieNHolmberg (at) gmail.com, along with the following information:

  • Name
  • Email address
  • Title of work (optional)
  • Method used (optional)
  • Can we display this entry on CharlieNHolmberg.com? (Y/N)


…and that’s it!

This contest is open internationally, and there are no restrictions on who can enter. Each participant can send up to two entries.

Questions/concerns? Send them to CharlieNHolmberg (at) gmail.com or through the contact form on my website.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Cover Reveal! THE MASTER MAGICIAN

I've gots the cover to The Master Magician primed and ready to go! I'm really happy with how it turned out! And it's green, which I wanted (the first cover drafts for The Glass Magician were originally green).

I kept wondering who my publisher was going to put on the cover. I thought it should be Ceony, but she's on the cover of The Paper Magician already.

In the end, I think the publisher and the artist chose well.

Drum roll, please!

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Throughout her studies, Ceony Twill has harbored a secret, one she’s kept from even her mentor, Emery Thane. She’s discovered how to practice forms of magic other than her own—an ability long thought impossible.
While all seems set for Ceony to complete her apprenticeship and pass her final magician’s exam, life quickly becomes complicated. To avoid favoritism, Emery sends her to another paper magician for testing--a Folder who despises Emery and cares even less for his apprentice. To make matters worse, a murderous criminal from Ceony’s past escapes imprisonment. Now she must track the power-hungry convict across England before he can take his revenge. With her life and loved ones hanging in the balance, Ceony must face a criminal who wields the one magic that she does not, and it may prove more powerful than all her skills combined.


Ta da! What do you think?


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Sold! FOLLOWED BY FROST to 47North

I am ecstatic to announce the release of my fourth novel, Followed by Frost, to 47North! This book is a standalone young adult fantasy unassociated with
The Paper Magician series. I am so happy to see this book come into print—to date it’s my favorite of anything I’ve ever drafted.
 
So, what is it about?  Here’s a short pitch:

After 17-year-old Smitha is cursed to be as cold as her heart, Death himself offers her a chance for relief. Unwilling to give up her life, Smitha seeks redemption deep in the savage deserts, where her perpetual winter dares to make her a hero.

The wait isn’t a long one—the title is currently slotted to come out by summer’s end. Updates to follow!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Why Vulcans Are Way Better Than Elves

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

~*~

I love to read fantasy. It’s my favorite genre, which is why I write in it. I eat up Sanderson and Marillier novels. At the library, I automatically peruse the books with the little white unicorn sticker on them.

I’m also a Trekkie.

Why do I bring this up? Because both fantasy novels and Star Trek have a race of people who look a whole lot like one another: Elves and Vulcans. However, as both a writer and a reader, I’m going to tell you why I love Vulcans and why I throw most books containing Elves across the room, if I pick them up at all.

Let’s start with Vulcans.

Leonard Nimoy as Spock, a Human/Vulcan hybrid,
demonstrating the Vulcan salute | Wikipedia
Vulcans appear, outwardly, just as humans do, save for their pointed ears and standard bowl-with-straight-bangs haircut (and the occasional blue eye shadow…). Vulcans thrive off logic: their desire to be logical at all times pushes them to learn, making them a highly intelligent race. This encourages them to deny all emotion, which is the bane of logic. They’re also about three times stronger than your average human.

Now, Elves.

Elves also look like humans, save for the pointed ears. Elves are graceful, beautiful, and immortal. In many novels or media outlets, they even have supernatural abilities. They’re fair to look upon, often war-free, and as Tolkien put it, have “great skill of body.” They’re tall, graceful, and resistant to disease.

This makes me loathe them.

Orlando Bloom as Legolas in Peter Jackson's
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers | Wikipedia
Now, if you’re an Elf fan, that’s fine and dandy—we don’t all have to like the same things. But let me tell you why I root for Vulcans whilst heckling Elves.

I call it Superman Syndrome. (Which apparently is already a thing.)

Vulcans one-up us humans in that they tend to be way smarter than us and could seriously mutilate us in a fist-fight. These are their strengths. But they also have their weaknesses: they don’t fully understand what it means to feel. You rarely see a happy Vulcan because happiness is suppressed. So is sadness, anger, surprise, love. Can you imagine a world without love, where you’re assigned a spouse and only mate with them once every seven years when your body decides to release its entire libido at once? For this reason, I pity Vulcans. Logic is a strength, but any Trekkie knows the episodes where stuffing down feelings ends up hurting Vulcans, not helping them.

When we look at Elves’ strengths . . . well, it’s the whole list, isn’t it? AKA Superman Syndrome.

Superman is my least favorite superhero (I’m a Marvel girl myself) because he’s too strong. The guy is invincible, unless someone manages to get their hands on some psycho rock from another planet, though even kryptonite won’t kill him. I feel it’s the same with Elves. All Elves are gorgeous, all Elves are strong, all Elves are immortal and powerful and smart and limber and nothing else. They’re too perfect; even Tolkien is guilty of this. Where is their weakness? Yeah, you could stab one (when Haldir fell in the “The Two Towers” movie, my first reaction was, OMG THEY CAN DIE?), but you can stab a human, too. Mankind has no upper hand with Elves. We’re just walking meat in comparison, and that, to me, makes elves wildly unsympathetic.