Monday, September 26, 2011

The Crystal Bridge and Me Talking to Myself

I'm here today to do an interview with myself. Sounds crazy, I know.
Writers are slightly crazy to begin with. We have all these characters in our heads, whispering, shouting, giggling nonstop, or whimpering in the corner. We invent them, give them a voice all their own, and come up with their personal way of viewing the world. How crazy is that? To have these complete or semi-complete people floating around in our heads?
My novel has like forty-two point of view characters. That makes me extra crazy. It’s not really that many, closer to ten, but you get the point. Talking to myself isn’t much of a stretch. So, here goes.

Q: What’s the story behind this whole The Crystal Bridge thingy?
A: Thingy? I’m glad I’m the writer out of the two of us.

Q: I know, right? Dodged a bullet there.
A: Okay, the novel originally came into my head as two separate dreams. Dream one was about a boy who could open wormholes to other worlds. Nobody else could see them and he always returned to the same moment he left, unchanged. So, no one believed him. Dream two was about a lab creating holographic simulations that began reaching into alternate worlds with some odd side effects.  Several interesting characters emerged the more I thought about these strange dreams.

Q: How did these separate dreams become one?
A: My wife suggested that I should combine them, so I did.

Q: Smart man.

A: This is true.
Q: Tell me about some of these other characters.

A: Well, Kaden is the teen boy with the wormholes. Aren is a teenage girl who can see and experience other people’s memories as though they were her own. James is a geneticist obsessed with dragons, Angie is his boss, running the genetic simulations department for one of the bad guys, Vander. I have more characters who pop up on the other world and a villain creature that lives between universes. I could go on and on. There’s Evandrel, Hasla, Dveldor, Taggert, and—
Q: Let’s stop there. We don’t want to give too much away, do we?

A: Um…I guess not.
Q: You really want to say one more character’s name, don’t you?

A: And Lyle. Lyle’s pretty cool.
Q: Feel better?

A: Much, thank you.
Q: Sounds complex. Where do you find inspiration for your stories?

A: Didn’t I already mention dreams?
Q: Did you?

A: I’m pretty sure forgetting a conversation you had three seconds ago with yourself isn’t a good sign. You may need help.
Q: Probably right. Mostly dreams then?

A: Yes. I have six or seven stories floating around my noggin that have all come from dreams. I’m very lucky, I know. While most people dream of scary clowns, losing their teeth, or flying, I end up with nano-genetic mutations, wormholes, soul thieves, and talking magical doorknobs.
Q: Talking what now?

A: Doorknobs, well, just one actually. So…doorknob. That will be in another novel later. The doorknob also walks around in a trench-coat to hide his brassy features. I think I’ll call him DK.
Q: I’m sorry I asked. Weirdo.

A: That’s me. Isn’t it great?
Q: Great…yes. That’s the word I was looking for. So any plans for a sequel with The Crystal Bridge?

A: Originally, no, but ideas crept into the story anyway. Then I had another dream. At least one more novel, possibly two. I’ve got some great twists planned and we’ll see how the wormholes interact with Aren’s gift more and then the quantum—
Q: Wow. Look at the time. This is all very interesting, but it’s all we have time for today.

A: You just looked at your wrist. Are you trying to get rid of me?
Q: What? Me? Never. I’m nothing without you. You complete me.

A: Yep, you’re right. When you start giving yourself false compliments, it’s time to wrap it up.
Q: I couldn’t have said it better.

A: I’m sure you could have. Or, I could have in the first place. I am a writer.
Q: Are you finished?

A: Yes, sorry.
Q: Thank you, Charles, for joining me today.

A: My pleasure, honestly. Thank you, Charles, for having me and for the wonderful questions. It was fun. And thank you, Charles, for letting us put a little of my crazy on your blog. You most likely won’t regret it.

The Crystal Bridge is available here:
Kindle Version 

Print Version

Nook Version

Cover art by Karl-Erik Bennion

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mutant Squirrels

My friend and brother in law, Brent Wescott of the Colorado Wescotts, did a post about squirrels over at Building Castles on the Beach. I did a few drawings for him. You should check it out. Crazy squirrels always makes me think about this Phineas and Ferb, one of the best cartoons ever.

That's going to be stuck in your head all day. You're welcome.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The ANTM Guilty Pleasure

Back when I had a job, I came home one day and opened the door to find my wife curled up with a blanket on the couch looking very ashamed and guilty. I gave her a questioning look and she looked down.

"You caught me."

I had no idea what she was talking about until I saw Tyra on the tv. My wife was watching America's Next Top Model. It comes on in these blocks, showing an entire series one show after another. My wife had been watching for hours.

I rolled my eyes, went and changed, and then started on dinner. I cook. My wife does not. As I made dinner, I found myself getting sucked into the madness and I ended up watching a couple episodes after dinner.

I've caught her a couple more times and ended up with the same results. We don't go out of our way to watch the show, but we end up watching it when it happens to pop up and nothing else is worth watching. My wife seems to be somewhat obsessed with watching them once she finds them on. I admit, the show is addictive.


Because it's bizarre...really really bizarre. That might not sound like a good reason to watch something, but it is. Isn't that why we read and go to movies? To find something unlike our normal lives. This show delivers that in droves.

First off there's Tyra. She is beautiful, but the craziest things come out of her mouth. It's like she's a half trained exotic bird. Everyone is excited to see her, but at the same time they're waiting for her to fly into the audience and attack someone. Some of the things she's said have made me laugh for ten minutes straight.

Then there are her friends and designers. They are beyond strange. Miss J insists on doing something outrageous each season that makes him look homeless or ridiculous. He wore an afro wig one season that got bigger each episode. Another season he wore a poncho thing made of a dozen different fabrics laid on top of one another that looked like he stole old ladies' doilies and dyed them.

These people are at the pinnacle of fashion? It's also funny to me that most of the judges and guest judges don't resemble the ideal model in the slightest. They are short, frumpy, and lumpy. They wear ugly clothing. They look average. How can these people sit and judge these models? Yet, they do. This irony always has me drawn in more than I care to admit. I want to see how unattractive the next designer is.

The models themselves aren't all that attractive. This is the true reason we watch. These girls are thrown together in an upscale apartment surrounded by pictures of Tyra in a way that only a stalker would truly appreciate. Pictures of Tyra stare at them in the closets, hallways, even bathrooms. Seriously, it's creepy.

I had a mental picture of super models being perfect delicate creatures we mortals can barely understand. They glide into rooms and men flock to them, throwing their power and money at them in vain attempts to capture their beauty for themselves. This is not the case. These women are often weird looking and awkward. It amazes me each time they show the pictures at the end and you see a stunningly beautiful model. You look from the picture to the girl and shake your head in wonder. What? How?

The photo-shoots are another great part of the show. Let's have you stand next to a burning car in the desert, crawl through garbage at the landfill, rub your body against a stone wall, dress you up in 16th century hooker outfits, or put you in a plastic bubble and have you walk on water. Who comes up with these and what is wrong with them? Are they ancestors of the Spanish Inquisition? Sometimes the shots are gorgeous and sometimes they scare the stuffing out of me. I will leave you with some cartoon portrayals of what I mean.

Friday, September 16, 2011

My Novel Is Done!

The Crystal Bridge, a sci-fi fantasy mix about wormholes, dimensions, nano-technology, genetics, dragons, elves, and magic, is done and will be online within a week or two. I'm super excited and freaked out. I wrote a novel, crazy stuff, people. The end result is 125,000 words and will be around 365 pages in print. Here's a teaser of the cover.

And here is the description on the back cover:

Kaden is a typical teenage boy, except he can open wormholes to far away worlds.
His first trip almost killed him. He’s been afraid to try another.
Aren is far from a typical teenage girl. She has the ultimate gift of empathy, seeing into the memories and souls of others.
Her gift makes her different and lonely despite how close it brings her to those she knows.
When these two meet, the existence of two worlds will be endangered as their abilities plunge them into a planet at war. Their adventure may tear apart multiple universes…or they may just save us all.

Some of you expressed interest in helping me market the thing on your blogs. If you are still interested, here are your options:

1- You send me a list of interview style questions. I'll send you the list back complete with answers. I'll also send the links to the novel.

2- You send me an email saying you can't come up with questions. I send you a list of interview questions made up by me with answers also made up by me. And links.

3- You send me an email saying you're sick of interviews. I will send you a bit about the book and characters with some touchy feely stuff on writing. And links.

4- You come up with an even better idea.

Thank you so much. I can never really thank you enough.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Insecure Writers Unite!

I stumbled across this blog today by Alex J. Cavenaugh. He put together a group of bloggy types who also happen to be neurotic writers. Sounds like my kind of people, right?

He calls this list The Insecure Writer's Support Group. If you write in some form or another, you should check it out. Fun group of people. I'm supposed to list off things I worry about or things I've overcome.

What I've overcome: Knowing my writing is good enough.

Writers have issues with confidence. I know this makes us sound a little pathetic, like we sit around and worry while we type.

We do. I used to worry about my writing, if it was good enough. I'm past that stage. I know it's good. I've written long enough and read so many books that I can safely say my novel is a polished piece of art. I'm excited to release it. I know people will love it, be astonished at the twists, cry a little when someone dies, and get a rush of adrenaline when the characters overcome an obstacle. This took years of practice and research, but I'm positive I'm an excellent writer.

This doesn't mean I've stopped worrying.

Now I worry about money and marketing. Will it pay the bills? Can I sell enough to make this indie publishing thing worthwhile? How do I market to many many people? Do I start looking for a real job now...or next week? If I hide in the pantry and cry, will I feel better? Don't worry. I don't actually cry in the pantry. It's too small.

Writing is hard and scary. Think about it. Language is so ethereal. We take sounds and stick them to letters. Clump a few letters together and you have a word. Throw some words together and you have a sentence. Line up enough sentences and a story forms out of those small representations of sounds. Crazy isn't it? Can you get more abstract? Language is the most fragile and powerful of constructions. I am grateful to be a part of that, even if I feel lost sometimes.

Writing takes practice, work, luck, and time. Being good isn't always enough, but we all hope it will be when we set our little creations free for everyone to read and judge. Hope, just four little representatives for random sounds, is all we have.

Say Hello to Wolves. They're Friendly.

It's been a while since I've given you a funny comic. Today is your lucky day. I'm back and hope to keep these coming while I finish getting my novel prepped for release.

Once, when I was in high school, I went camping with a couple friends, Adam and Chad. I know I write about camping a lot. It's what I enjoy doing and strange things happen often when I'm in the Great Outdoors. This won't be as exciting as my series on skunks and their infatuation with me, but should still be fun.

This was one of my first experiences with Chad. He's become a much better friend since this trip. They picked me up and immediately started chanting some random number and something about ice. "1465, Big Block of Ice." I've changed the number to protect its anonymity. Numbers need protection too. These were the two things we absolutley had to remember, the code for the lock on the chain to the property on Cedar Mountain and a block of ice to keep things cool in the ice chest.

We chanted this the whole way up, even after we got the ice. "1465, big block of ice. 1465, big block of ice." Needless to say, we didn't forget the code and we may remember it even now, fifteen years later.

The property was beautiful, open green meadows with aspens and pine growing at the edges. They had a spring and it wasn't unusual to see a deer sipping at it. In the middle of a field sat a junky old trailer. That would be where we spent the night.

We set up camp and soon night fell.

The stars were amazing, the night crisp and cool as the breeze carried the breath of aspens over our camp. I could live there, would love to live there...except in winter. As we sat around the crackling fire, chatting and thinking deep teenage thoughts, a wolf howled in the distance.

I answered.

At first they thought it was funny, but when the wolf answered back, they got nervous.

Then when more wolves joined in. My friends got angry and more nervous. They wanted me to stop. I, of course, didn't.

The wolves moved closer. Then my friends got least I thought so.

I argued with them. "We have fire, a gun, and a trailer. What are you guys worried about? The wolves probably won't come near the fire. And, if they get closer, we can just go inside." I howled again.

My friends didn't think it was funny at all when half a dozen wolfy voices answered back from the nearby trees.

They forced me inside, practically at gunpoint. I relented even though the wolves never really got all that close. My friends seriously lacked the spirit of adventure that evening, which is funny. I've seen them do crazier things since. Adam jumped off the Hurricane bridge once. That thing freaks me out.

Chad and Adam are still two of my best friends. They have to be slightly crazy to put up with me..

Note: I also wanted to let people know that my zombie guide is available in print through Create Space. It will also be on Amazon soon, probably next week. Create Space is a subsidiary of Amazon.

Second Note: Adam swears he didn't threaten to shoot me. That may be true. I have a great memory, but as a writer I do occasionally remember things with a tinge of embellishment, but I don't think that was the case this time. I remember being yelled at and he had a gun...the implications were obvious even if he didn't put it into words. "Stop howling at the wolves!" Gun in hand. "Get in the trailer now!" Gun in hand. "Don't you dare howl again!" Gun in hand. You see what I mean.
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