Thursday, July 31, 2014

World Building in the Hellequin Chronicles Series by SteveB McHugh

It's not every day that you get a right n' proper Englishman on your blog (though I don't know how he'd feel about me calling him "right n' proper"!). 

I'm happy to have a guest post from fellow 47Norther Steve McHugh today! He's talking about world building in the Hellequin Chronicles series, which you can scope out here. Give him some 'merican love!


Book 3 of The Hellequin Chronicles
I’ve just finished writing the 4th book in the Hellequin Chronicles series. It’s called Prison of Hope, and settling in to write another story about Nate Garrett was simple. He’s been in my head for years, so at this point, I can switch him on and off without too many problems.

After I finished PoH I pondered what to do next. I need to write book 5 for my publisher, but I’ve had ideas for several other series in my head for some time. So I set about working on one of them, giving myself the month of July to get it at least started and the story resolved.

I should probably point out now, that the Hellequin books take place in our world, albeit one of magic and abilities. The book I began working on was different in a number of ways.

1. It wasn’t set on earth.
2. It was in 3rd person not 1st.
3. There were 5 main characters.

It was more than I’d done before, and I dove into it. I worked on the geography of the world, the people who lived there, why some countries didn’t like others, their history and religion. It was an enormous amount of work, and I’m still doing it, I still find something interesting that needs to be researched or worked on to ensure it fits in the world I’ve created.

The main characters were much easier to form, and my original story morphed over time as the characters began to live inside my head. This in turn would make me question even more about the world they lived in. It was world building on a level I’d never needed to do before, and it was brilliant fun.

Yes it was difficult, sometimes frustrating when I couldn’t figure out the exact thing I was trying discover, those tiny details that make the story come to life for the reader, and yes it mean lots of days pouring over research books. But as the world takes more and more shape, as those who live upon it become more and more real to me, the story is all the better for it.

World building is long, hard work. I’ve done it in Hellequin to various degrees, but never to the extent I needed to do it for this new series. And I have to say, it was worth every single second. And hopefully that work I put in will be recognised by people who one day read the book and enjoy their time in my newly created world.


Steve’s been writing from an early age, his first completed story was done in an English lesson. Unfortunately, after the teacher read it, he had to have a chat with the head of the year about the violent content and bad language. The follow up ‘One boy and his frog’ was less concerning to his teachers and got him an A.

It wasn’t for another decade that he would start work on a full length novel that was publishable, the results of which was the action-packed Urban Fantasy, Crimes Against Magic.

He was born in a small village called Mexbrough, South Yorkshire, but now lives with his wife and three young daughters in Southampton.

Monday, July 14, 2014

THE PAPER MAGICIAN Cover Reveal... Take 2?

I'm sure most of you saw my cover reveal for The Paper Magician. And a big THANK YOU to everyone's kind words and to those who helped me share the prettiness! I loved that cover. I loved it on the recommendation emails from Amazon, I loved it on my business cards, and I loved it on my bookmarks.

Fake Reader: But wait, Charlie! "Loved"? Why are you saying it all in past tense?

Well, here's the thing. About a week and a half ago I got an email from my editor telling me they wanted to, uh, change the cover. (Stop looking at the side bar and spoiling it. Stop it!)

Fake Reader: GASP!

I know, I know. I was super surprised. And, honestly, a little heartbroken (which I admit fits into the story of  The Paper Magician, so it suited the situation). I really loved my cover. I loved the paper heart and the little paper girl who really was a spitting silhouette image of my protagonist. And I loved my bookmarks!

Why is the cover changing? I can't technically say just yet. The vaguest answer I can offer is for promotional reasons. But my editor scrambled to get two new covers drafted for me to choose from. I picked one, we made some adjustments, and I'm happy to say the new cover has really grown on me. I really love it. :)

So, want to see it? Of course you do!

The NEW cover for The Paper Magician...


Ta da! What do you think?

And here's the blurb again just for kicks and giggles:

Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Crossing Genre Lines with Melissa F. Olson

I'm happy to have author Melissa F. Olson on the blog today! I know Melissa through our connection to 47North, and she is great people, guys. Her latest mystery novel, The Big Keep, just released through Westmarch Publishing, so please check it out!


Sometimes, I think about my protagonists like they’re my kids.

It’s a little weird, I know, especially given that my oldest protagonist, Allison Luther of the upcoming “Boundary” series, is exactly my age, and my youngest protagonist, Scarlett Bernard, is eight years younger than me.

But I’m not the first to compare writing books (especially book series, which are by definition ongoing) to having kids. It’s one of those analogies that’s occasionally very useful (i.e.: “I don’t want that audiobook narrator because I don’t trust anyone with my babies!”) but breaks down if you get too far into it.

For example, while I used the same method to make both of my actual children*, my three different book series were developed along two different patterns: one of them, you see, is a mystery.

I’m not being metaphorical here. One of them is actually in the mystery genre. Historically, it’s not uncommon for authors to have a finger in more than one pie**, but it’s not so popular these days from a “branding” perspective. In the days of author websites and Facebook pages, every author is his or her own brand, and there is a line of thought that those brands need to be protected.  That’s how you end up having an author like Seanan McGuire write science fiction under a pseudonym.

I thought about using a pseudonym for about five seconds, and then I got tired and had to lie down. Two Facebook pages? Two websites? Two Twitter accounts? Exhausting.

But here I am anyway.*** I’ve always been a firm believer in writing the book you want to read, and the two genres I read for my own personal fun are mystery and urban fantasy. So even if it didn’t make sense from a branding standpoint, writing in both genres makes perfect sense to me. My private investigator, Selena Dane, is smart and daring and fun to write. Even if she’d have no idea how to handle vampires and werewolves, I like to think she’d get along great with Scarlett, too.  After all, they’re technically sisters.


*You know the one.
**I’m sorry. In retrospect I should have thought of a more appealing metaphor.
***This may be the new title of my autobiography.


Melissa Olson was born and raised in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and studied film and literature at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. After graduation, and a brief stint bouncing around the Hollywood studio system, Melissa landed in Madison, WI, where she eventually acquired a master's degree from UW-Milwaukee, a husband, a mortgage, a teaching gig, two kids, and two comically oversized dogs, not at all in that order. She loves Madison, but still dreams of the food in LA. Literally. There are dreams. Learn more about Melissa, her work, and her dog at

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Interview over at Melissa F. Olson's Blog!

Hey folks!

Today I'm at Melissa F. Olson's blog (author of the Scarlett Bernard series) talking about The Paper Magician. Please stop by if you have a chance!