Monday, November 25, 2013

The Familius Christmas Anthology: Giveaway Winners!

The names have been thrown into a figurative hat and five have been drawn to win a copy of The Familius Christmas Anthology: Just for Kids, courtesy of Kristy G. Stewart!

Our lucky winners are Chris, Crystal Collier, Juliana L. Brandt, "Unknown," and Mason T. Matchak.

Congratulations! Please email me at CNHolmberg at gmail dot com with your mailing address so Kristy can get your prize shipped out in time for Christmas!

Thank you to everyone who participated!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Keeping Focused While Writing and Working from Home (Guest Post + Giveaway!)

Editor and fairy-tale expert Kristy Stewart of Looseleaf Editorial & Production is here today! Not only does she have great advice regarding balancing home- and work-life, but she's giving away FIVE copies of The Familius Christmas Anthology: Just for Kids, which you can read more about here. It's a great book for family nights, and a great gift! Just leave a comment below and I'll announce winners next Monday, November 25.

My newest Christmas anthology, The Familius Christmas Anthology: Just for Kids, just came up for purchase in online retailers. In the process of putting the anthology together, I ran into a whole host of
scheduling nightmares and stress-inducing deadlines. But Charlie and I both have issues with the idea of people saying things like “I don’t have time to write.” The way we fill our time is made up of choices, which are based on things we value. If you value something enough, you’ll make time for it. Sometimes writing (or some other activity) is not as valuable as other things (providing for and parenting children, etc.). Even so, I completely empathize with people who have difficulty balancing all the things they value. I currently have a very active one-year-old boy, I’m earning a master’s degree in English, and my husband and I are both working to pay for rent, books, and tuition.

I do almost all my work from home. With all the different claims on my time that I value, it can be hard to focus on one project, but when I’m drowning in a bottomless pit of deadlines, there are a few things that help me manage to come out alive.

Know Your Assets

Early this year, when I was figuring out how and when I would put together this Christmas anthology, I had to analyze the assets I had available. I had quite a few:
  •  Naptime. This was irregular, but oh so precious, and my son is a good sleeper once he gets going. It’s important to know when you have time available. That time may be at 5 AM, between 10 PM and midnight, or during the precious hour(s) while your infant slumbers.
  • My husband. At the time I was putting the anthology together, the hubby didn’t have a lot of time to help me free up some of my own. But he was still awesome at helping me calm down and find guinea pigs for my recipes (i.e., his family).
  • Grandma. Not every new mother has access to a grandma within a seven-minute drive, but I do, and I take advantage of her when I need to. Knowing who in your circle of friends or family can help you free up some time, talk through an outline, or speed up revisions is vital. These people care about you, and it’s okay to ask for a few favors now and again (and also very okay to reciprocate).
  • My co-editor. Rick Walton is great to work with, and every year he gathers all the stories and poems we need and gives me some summaries so I can figure out which ones work best with any theme or organization we choose for our book.

Be Realistic

Despite all these assets, I couldn’t go crazy on this anthology. This year we were slated to do the theme “around the world” (some retailers still have the old description text) and “just for kids” was for next year. But “around the world” was going to take a lot more research, and I knew that I needed more time than I had by the publisher’s deadline. So I asked Rick and the publisher if we could trade the topics for this year and next. “Just for kids” was easier for me to do in my time constraints, and next year I’ll have finished my degree and will have the extra time for research. I had to be realistic about what I could accomplish in the time I was willing to commit to this project.

Choose Priorities

After I made the change to “just for kids” and turned in a sample chapter for Familius’s sales team, I had four months or so to put together the anthology before the deadline. But I was also in the middle of a semester in which I was studying topics I wasn’t familiar with, my son was starting to be less okay with the stick-him-in-the-baby-carrier-and-study method of survival, and I was working as a teaching assistant and a webmaster on top of completing projects for freelance clients. The anthology, at that point in time, could not be my priority. So I decided which month I would dedicate to the anthology: I gave it July. Since I planned ahead, I was able to schedule freelance projects around the anthology (so I didn’t disappoint clients), I wasn’t taking any classes, and I knew it was a good month to ask for help from Grandma too. Pre-scheduling and making my priorities clear to myself and those around me made it possible for me to compile my parts of the anthology and take pictures all in one month.

It’s never easy to balance all the things we value, but with some forward thinking, realism, and humility, you can finish your novel, meet a publisher’s deadlines, or make it through another hectic holiday season without completely losing your mind.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What I'm NOT Thankful for in November


Is the bane of my existence.

Husband is participating in "No-shave November," though he's not growing this face demon for the sake of raising awareness for testicular cancer. He's growing it because he thinks it's funny when I cry.

It's like kissing a barb-wired wrapped cactus that's been rolled in glass.

And it's not just my poor face getting a beating, here. It's everything. He kisses the baby belly, he kisses a shoulder, he kisses anything, and I can feel the beard-briars piercing through my clothes and into my very soul.


But what can I do? How does one abstain from this glorious specimen of manhood?

I know, I know, when it all grows out it's much softer. But not the softest. And by the time it gets to that point November will be over and I'll have my helookslikehesseventeen face back. :D /slightlypedofile-ish /hecanonlygrow60%beardanyway

Any men participating in No-shave November or want to rant about their beards anyway? 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Life Update: Writing, Baby, and the Holidays

On the writing front:

I've started work on THE MATERIALS MAGICIAN, the third book in my unnamed series (the first two books of which have been sold to 47North). I have a feeling this book will be a "slow and steady" novel, not a word-fiesta like its predecessors. Fortunately, I have time to take my time... but my goal is to finish the first draft before the baby comes!

I've also started planning another romantic fantasy without a name. I have a skeletal plot on a Save the Cat storyboard, albeit with characters that still need a great deal of fleshing out. I think once I get a connection to these characters, I'll be more excited for the project as a whole.

On the baby front:

Image courtesy of
Today I am 27 weeks along. Which I think is third trimester, but alas, Baby Center claims I'm still in second.

But my little girl is kickin' up a storm! Which is a relief to me, because I know everything's going okay in there. (Super excited for my glucose test and butt-shot come December. I can barely contain myself.)

On the general life front:

Super excited for Christmas! I'm planning out my Christmas gifts and getting crafty. SO excited to visit my family in December too--since I work from home and Jordan gets a nice long break from school, we can visit for about three weeks. Counting down the days!

For Thanksgiving we're planning on making the driving to Montana, where Husband's grandmother and aunt live. It's a long drive, and if the roads are bad we'll have to cancel (and go to the Tri-Cities instead, which is what we did last year. A friend of mine and her awesome family live there). We won't know one way or another until the week of.

What are your holiday plans this year? What projects are you working on, writing or no? 

Monday, November 4, 2013

BTW: My Halloween Costume

This year Husband and I dressed up as congressmen.

I am not wearing pale makeup, I'm just that white.
He's a democrat; I'm a tea-party republican.

We've got a few "healing wounds" from our recent brawl.
And all your tax dollars.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Interview with Richard Ellis Preston Jr's Romulus Buckle

Today I'm hosting fellow 47North author Richard Ellis Preston, Jr! However, I've got a spin on his "author interview"--I'll be speaking directly to the protagonist of his novel, Romulus Buckles & The City of the Founders, which you can find on Amazon, here. The second book in the Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin series, Romulus Buckle & the Engines of War, is coming out on November 19th.

Hi Romulus. Can I call you Romulus? Glad to have you here today.

The honor is all mine, Madam Holmberg.

To start us off, I want to get to the guts of your story. You risk an awful lot for the sake of rescuing your leader, Balthazar Crankshaft. Did you have a strong relationship with him?

Balthazar Crankshaft is my father. I am adopted by him, you see, along with my sister, Elizabeth. I have few vague memories of my natural parents but Balthazar is the only father I have ever really known. He is the leader of our Crankshaft clan and a true lion among men. We all know that a war is coming and without Balthazar we would be lost, like walking into a duel without one's pistol. There was no debate on what had to be done. I volunteered to lead the rescue mission because Balthazar is my father, yes, but of greater importance is that fact that he is the father to all of us. And under no circumstances shall one of us be left to the enemy.

Oh... that's intense. Can you share details about this impending war?

The Founders clan is powerful and there are many rumblings about them gearing up for war. They once held a vast empire and it appears they are seeking a return to their former glory. The smaller clans, us among them, are scrambling to form a Grand Alliance and assemble a united fleet before the Founders can destroy us piecemeal.

What would the Founders clan's return to glory mean for you, personally?

It would be a catastrophe for myself and every other man, woman and child in the Snow World. The Founders are tyrants, running a totalitarian state disguised as some sort of benevolent parliament. Their record of enslaving other clans and cruelly exploiting their resources is long and dripping with blood. If I were to survive a defeat of our forces in a war I would be executed for my role in the resistance, along with every other member of my crew. Also, my beloved sister, Elizabeth, was apparently kidnapped by the Founders, and I am willing to sacrifice everything to ensure her safe return.

You and your crew engage in a lot of... horrific stuff. Alien monsters, poisonous wastelands, forgewalkers... and all in frigid temperatures. Can you share with us your worst experience on this journey?

Well, it was rough-and-tumble all along, so I unfortunately have a considerable list of difficulties experienced. Falling off of one's zeppelin, referred to as the "Cerulean slip" in the airship business, was a bit of a pill for me. A captain should never fall off of one's ship. I was fighting a tangler at the time. The tanglers are flying beasties that look like old-style pterodactyls in many ways, and they are big, vicious and relentless predators.  We had quite a scrap on the way down. I'd also have to say that plunging into the noxious mustard fog bank was also quite unsettling, in a primitively emotional kind of way; it is frightening to be sealed up in an oxygen mask while the cabin you're in fills up with dense poisonous gas. One certainly hopes that one's helmet has no leaks in that situation.

That's a downer. Does all that trauma affect your dating life?

I can't say I had ever considered such an effect.  I suppose not, now that I think about it.

Ohhhh... so does that mean you've got a lady-friend somewhere in this ripe mess of a world? (Or a man-friend, if you swing that way...)

Currently I have no... permanent lady friend. There is one crew member in particular I am extremely fond of, but she and I have an understanding as to the casual nature of our relationship. As for men, they do not fall into romantic categories for me personally.

So dry, Romulus! Does anything besides the war get a rise out of you? Any pet peeves or estranged passions?

Witnessing the abuse of animals or children will always get a rise out of me, as it would with most people. I have stepped into several brawls over such things. My pet peeves include slacking, incompetence and negligence... any attribute which could bring an airship crashing down. Crewmen in the crow's nest who do not espy hazards before I do, now there's one that really gets my goat, and they hear about it. If the world was different, if there were no wars and all was at peace, I would have loved to have been an explorer of the far corners of the globe. I wish I was a good painter. I am also rather put out by a cup of cold tea.

What do you consider your greatest strength, and your greatest weakness?

I have long been told by my father, sister and various elders that my great weakness is my impulsiveness. I can tend to leap before I look, at times. As for my greatest strength, well, I cannot speak to that with authority. I see flaws in most every part of my existence. I would state for the record that I am loyal to my friends, and that my word is ironclad.

Any final words of wisdom for our readers?

Life is difficult. If you expect it to be easy, get over it or you will be disappointed almost all of the time. Also, keep your powder dry.


Richard Ellis Preston, Jr. is a science fiction writer who loves the zeitgeist of steampunk. Although he grew up in both the United States and Canada he prefers to think of himself as British. He attended the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, where he earned an Honors B.A. in English with a Minor in Anthropology.  He has lived on Prince Edward Island, excavated a 400 year old Huron Indian skeleton and attended a sperm whale autopsy. Romulus Buckle and the City of the Founders is the first installment in his new steampunk series, The Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin. Richard has also written for film and television. He currently resides in California.

Connect with Richard:

Twitter: @RichardEPreston
Facebook: Richard Ellis Preston, Jr