Thursday, February 27, 2014

The 27th Annual Pennwriters Conference

So, I'm coordinating this little thing called a writer's conference. It's the 27th Annual Pennwriters Conference to be exact. And it is AWESOME! Planning is much like plotting and this is something us writers do good, I mean, well.

So, if you're not doing anything May 16th-18th and you'd like to come to Amish Country, Lancaster PA, and hang out with Kami Garcia and Meredith Mileti and 13 agents and editors and 31 speakers and me of course, then check this mutha out.

Charli Out.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Glad Someone Read To Me, The Outsiders

Today there is an event called, I AM GLAD SOMEONE READ TO ME. It's on Tumblr and Twitter using, #GSRtME. I'd like to share with you my story.

When Sister Edward William read the words, “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home,” I was hooked. It’s not easy getting an entire 8th grade class to pay attention but we did. We were all hooked by S.E. Hinton’s words, about kids our age from another era but who felt so much like home. The kids from the wrong side of the tracks, outcasts, misfits, poor, and with the weight of the world against them. I grew up two blocks from the Philly elevated train, in a neighborhood known for drugs and prostitution. Kids from a richer neighborhood also went to my school and it always seemed like it was us against them. Soc vs. Grease was a battle I knew well.

I knew kids that came from broken homes and often wandered the streets like Johnny. I knew kids like Dally, angry at everyone and the world. I knew class clowns and thieves like Two-Bit, dreamy drop outs like Sodapop, hardworking kids made to be adults too soon like Darry, and I knew too many kids taken from this world far too soon. Ponyboy was my kindred spirit. A kid who didn’t fit in anywhere. A kid who liked poetry and books. Sunsets and movies. A kid who wanted so badly to be accepted by his hood-rat peers but wanted so much more out of life at the same time.

It was here, where a passion ignited inside of me to write about broken characters, pained by life, but determined to keep their head held high and carry on. Sister Edward gave us an assignment afterward, to write the beginning to a novel of our own, about kids like us, much like S.E.Hinton did at the age of sixteen. My story was titled, Stay Gold. Not very original but it became a fan fiction of sorts. A story where a boy like Johnny lived to see a better life and where a boy like Dally found the beauty in a life worth living. A story where everyone got their happy ending. I couldn’t re-write my own family history, where my brother lived and my family wasn’t forever fractured by the loss. But I could write about kids that survived the impossible. Defying the odds thrust against them on the hard concrete streets of a neighborhood long forgotten.

I am so glad Sister Edward William read the Outsiders to me and my class. I wouldn’t be who I am today if not for the words of S.E Hinton, “Stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold…”

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How I started writing YA

Once upon a time... in a genre far far away... was a cynical newbie writer who scoffed at the Young Adult authors of the world. Yeah, that was me. I thought, who'd want to write about teens as an adult? I didn't get it as I was too wrapped up in my grown up Women's Fiction world. It bugged the crap outta me that these authors were getting all the mad props. For what? Writing about angsty teens with their mouths forever gaped open? So, I decided to read Twilight. And I loved it. Damn.
Then I became the parent of a teen. A female one. Double Damn.

Such strange creatures I tell you. With every sullen stare, heavy sigh, and roll of the eye I remembered those days where I too was an eye rolling, angst filled, temperamental bitch with zits and body image issues.

I've wanted to strangle my darling teen on more than one occasion. Always ridden with Catholic Guilt after such murderous thoughts I call my mom and tell her how sorry I am for being such a horrible teenage witch and that I love her so very much. I figure if I give a heartfelt plea for forgiveness the gods will change my fate and give me a teen who does all her chores and hugs me often.

That hasn't happened yet. God, I hope she doesn't grow up to write a tell all Mommy Dearest about me...
So, what did I do with all that rage filled parental woe? I plotted out a story where a mother tries to kill her kid, fails, gets self killed, and then haunts kid for the rest of her days. Yes! Revenge by pen is oh so sweet.

The more I brainstormed this macabre tale the more I liked it. The more I loved this teen with a scarred face and wounded heart. One day on the El-train I took out my handy dandy notebook and scribbled some musings. 250 words. A possible opening. I took said scribblings to a Writers Conference and read it aloud to my crew of fellow geniuses. They loved it. With all their praise and encouragement I knew I had write this tale. It took a year to flesh out the full story before writing a single word. (I did this in between writing another novel.)

I pulled together other story tid-bits I had collecting dust in my brain, ideas I thought would make good fiction one day. A haunted house reality show had this little girl who'd been haunted for years by the shadow of a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt, just hovering over her bed. Creepy. And it stuck with me. A little girl forever haunted. What if the person haunting her was her mom? Even creepier. The movie THE RING totally freaked me out. Those big eyes, gurgling sounds, and jerky body movements of that long haired thing inspired my ghost mom.
Other stray thoughts weaved their way into my tale; a friends true story of almost dying when she was ten, a local school for the blind where students worked side by side with kids who could see, and the Spielberg movies I'd grown up with -those tales of an eclectic group of kids defying the odds. Marty McFly and his oh so fly two-toned jacket. (I had to write a tale where I could have hammer pants and two toned jackets!) My inner-city Philly neighborhood is a character in itself, with its graffiti speckled skyline and the diverse people who live in it. I wanted to give it a voice and a place in the literary world.

My brother's death in the end is what truly inspired this tale. The what if factor. What if he lived? What would've been different? If I could go back would I change his fate, knowing it may and probably would forever alter my own. My annoyingly awesome teen may never have been born. Such thoughts once bombarded me. Regret and what-ifs have their place in the grieving process. But I can't play in the world of make believe with my real life. I wouldn't be me if one thing were different and I couldn't live with that. So, the what ifs I'll save for my fictional world.

The final and most awe inspiring inspiration for my tale came from the 2012 Cold Play Mylo Xyloto Concert. I need a soundtrack to write and this tale had yet to find one. The days before the concert the teen and I listened to a contest winner on the radio gushing for tickets. We both agreed how awesome it would be to go. Two days later I got an email; someone had two free tickets. Wurd to ya mutha! Squee! Woot! Now, I'm bad with song titles. I just jam in my car and on the El to work not knowing those important details. I knew very little about the tour and their current album but was stoked either way. I LOVE Coldplay. Who doesn't?

Teen and I get there and gush as they give us bracelets. How cute, a souvenir. Then we see the set and its a graffiti laden paradise, glow in the dark even. My muse perks up and feels a soundtrack coming on. I peruse the interwebz for the set list and apparently the Back To The Future theme is part of the show. Were the writing gods trying to tell me something?
Then the show starts. My hearts leaps inside my chest. It is the single most amazing show I've ever seen. Ever. And I've seen a lot of shows. The bracelets light up and are part of the concert. They blink to the beat of the music, each different color in tune with their own rhythm. And I got to share this with my kid. That teen who drives me to murderous fantasies.
A Touch In The Dark is nearly finished its first rough draft. It's my second novel and I'm plotting it out like a good girl. No pantsting for me this time around. I've wasted far too much time doing that. So, yeah, I'm writing angsty rolly eye ridden YA and loving every second of it.
Here's an amazing clip of the concert. Charlie Brown is my favorite and the first song on my soundtrack. It's where I envision Rori riding her bike through the streets of Frankford... my tale playing out like the opening scenes of a movie... Enjoy and maybe you too will be inspired.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Good Daughter

This book has magical powers. It forced me to read it in one sitting. I was unable to do anything else. Book in hand, I blindly got ready for my day, I huddled by a window seat on the train- nearly missing my stop, and I hid like Constanza at work. Feverishly reading while hiding.

This was me but reading a book.

Nothing gets in between me and a great book. Nothing. And Jane Porter writes one hell of a Good Book.

THE GOOD DAUGHTER is Jane Porter's second novel in the Brennan Sisters Trilogy. THE GOOD WOMAN was the first and was an amazing read of straight up Women's Fiction. It's all about Meg's journey in an unsatisfying marriage and the choices she makes to reclaim her life and be happy. It's at times gut wrenching, loving, and makes us all think about the state of our own relationships. In the end, while you get a feeling all will be okay for Meg, you still aren't sure. You wonder about the other sisters and their story lines. I love that. I love when books mirror life. Not neatly wrapped up into a HEA package. No end credits. Just a satisfying end to the journey of the character.

Meg's tale got me so excited to read about Kit, our lovable Catholic School Teacher in the THE GOOD DAUGHTER. This is a more of a Romantic Women's Fiction read and I LOVE that its different from the first in the series, doesn't follow some archaic formula. I loved getting to read from not only the other sisters POVs but the guys too. There is a villain in this story and it's no where near a romance novel cliche where the woman needs to be saved by the hero.

The secondary plot lines are seamlessly woven into Kit's story. Kit is tired of being so good that she neglects herself. So worried about pleasing others that she puts herself in harm's way. For once in her life, and after ten years of living with someone who had no intention of marrying her, Kits sets out on her own. She finds out what Kits likes, loves, and won't stand for. She takes time to get to know herself again and the people she meets along the way, like a very sexy bad boy named Jude, only make her journey all the more enjoyable.

Jude is no cliche either. While yes he has long hair, tattoos, rides a motorcycle, and has a mysterious job, he's not this wounded hero that needs saving either. I really identified with him. The only thing I didn't like was Kit's worry about her family not wanting her with a "low life". I hated that Kit and those around her would be so judgemental. I grew up in a rough neighborhood and that kind of thing always rubs me the wrong way.

Kit also has some past baggage. Abuse from childhood. And to be honest I could hug Porter for not diving all too much into it. Leaving it there in the background. Something Kit's never opened up to anyone about. Something that keeps her from being able to enjoy intimacy and love. Something she is trying to deal with on her own. Again, no hero needs to save her. I know people who've been where Kit was. Some never told their spouses and dealt with their pain with a quiet grace, in the way that they needed to survive, to heal. Somewhere down the line I can only imagine Kit opening up to others but at this point in her journey that's not the focus. That takes courage to write about. It's honest and it's real.

So much about Meg and Kit and the entire Brennan clan is honest and real. They feel like family.

Maybe it's because I'm Irish from a big city. Maybe it's because I have siblings. Maybe it's because I too have most of my family in law enforcement or civil service. Or maybe, just maybe, like I said above, Jane Porter writes on hell of a book.

I think it's the latter. You should find out for yourself.

Isn't Jane Porter just so cute!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Smell Ya Later 2012

Another year has kicked the bucket. It seems like yesterday that I blogged about 2011 kickin' it.

Wow. I sure as heck didn't blog all that much. I was kinda busy being mopey about how last year started. Curious? Search and ye shall find

This year was my break from Social Media. I didn't blog over at Heroes and Heartbreakers that much. I could be found on Twitter or FB but it was sporadic. I also kept getting rejection after rejction for my Women's Fiction.

I may have physically started 2012 with an ectopic pregnancy but I seemed to be purging myself of my literary baby for the entire year. Ya know that first novel, that Jersey Shore Women's Fiction that taught me how to actually write a novel??? Yeah, I kinda put that baby to bed. For reals. And it's been cathartic. Cleansing. Freeing.

All those agents and editors read, squeed and gleed, but ultimately passed. I have some more submissions out there but I have the feeling it's all gonna be the same and it should be. The novel isn't where it needs to be. I know where it needs to go but I'm not going to write it. Not yet. Maybe not for a while. Unless one of those editors or agents says yes! Then well, I shall get right on it. But in the mean time they are outta sight and outta mind. I'm not giving up on the Irish-Latino Philly maniacs who took over my brain for the past four years. No way. I'm just moving on while they figure out how they want to be told. Yeah, yeah, I know I've said that before but this time its true and the reason is this; I'm finally writing my 2nd book!

A YA (Young Adult) Paranormal/Horror. I LOVE IT! I have an agent who said smell ya later to the Jersey gang but wants to read this. This agent also has the greatest last name in recorded history but that's another story for another time.

So, will I blog more this year? Prolly not. But I will try.

What I will be doing is finishing my YA and officially finishing my 2nd novel.

Curious about my YA Paranormal? Well, I did NaNo for the first time this year and here is a little bit about it from my profile:

A Touch In The Dark-Book One of the Fear No Evil series:

Aurora Ray O’Riordan died for ten minutes and has a scar on her face to prove it. She also has the ghosts that followed her back... and they are very angry that she is still alive.

The scar on Rori's face is an everyday reminder of the night her mother died and she lived. It starts at the tip of her right index finger, snakes up her arm, twists up her scalp, and spiders out-— hugging her eye like a vine. Its compliments of the downed power line that snaked over her crumpled body, feet away from her dead mother. She remembers nothing of the ten minutes she lay dead on the hood of the family car. The scar is all she knows.

That and being the resident freak of her sophomore class. The girl whose hooded sweatshirts constantly cover her face, where sometimes lights flicker when she enters a room, and the girl whose very own mother haunts her dreams.

The dream crosses over into her real life as reflections of her mother’s ghost appears in mirrors and windows. Another specter, the dark silhouette of a hooded man with a rusted machete, joins her. And when Rori innocently bumps into Jimmy, the new boy at school, she somehow electrocutes him, sending him across the hall with a single touch. He has similar vine like scars on his neck and chest. In an instant they know they are somehow connected.

An attraction builds between the two and the fact they cannot touch only makes things more difficult. Especially when they begin to investigate their past and discover the same ghosts haunt them both. What they find will re-write her family’s history and put every life they come into contact with in danger, especially Jimmy’s. When the truth comes to light one of them will either join the deadly spirits hunting them or regret living to tell their tale.

Scary? Intrigued? Hope so. If not, well, thanks for reading anyway!

Have a drink for me tonight. I'll be having one or at least two for you.

Until next time, may you have many snorts and Ha cha chas.

Happy New Year everyone. Smell ya in 2013.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Jillian Stone=Ha Cha Cha!

Happy Pub Day to Jillian Stone!
Well, isn't that a Ha Cha Cha cover! Yum. I don't give out Ha Cha Chas to just anyone. The witty and wild Jillian Stone sits in the front row of a very special class.

One of my favorite authors. One that has the ability to make me snort, sigh, and ah-hem, fan myself.

That's what I call the Charli Mac Ha-Cha-Cha factor.

And today A Private Duel With Agent Gunn is officially on shelves! Woot woot!

I've read devoured some of the scenes from Agent Gunn already. As always, Stone delivers heart pounding action, thought provoking history, cackle inducing wit, and the cross your legs kind of steam that keeps one turning the pages. Agent Phineas Gunn "Finn" must investigate and keep tabs on a past love. A love so fierce it pains him still, especially since she believes he killed her brother. Cate, a famous ballet dancer, has plans on bringing to justice those that took her family and save her remaining brother at any cost. Problem is she's stalked by the man she believes is at fault, Finn. Together they search for the truth while keeping a suspicious eye on one another, and other body parts... Yum!

There's a very sexy ballet rehearsal scene. Hard bodies clashing in close proximity... Made me grab the old dance bag out of the closet for my very own private two step with the man. (*Do not try this at home ladies. Unless you are a professionally trained dancer. Or at least in shape. Thankfully, I spared the hubby my Seinfeld Elaine-esque moves and just jumped his bones. Carry on.)

If you haven't had the pleasure of reading one of Stone's novels, imagine this: Novels filled Johnny Depp/Robert Downey Jr. -esque steampunk hotties. As a fan of the Sherlock Holmes films, I dare say it should be Stone writing the next script. Yes, she's that good. The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard Series reads like a well scripted and perfectly cast action packed movie. Her heroes and heroines have real issues, like Victorian Era PTSD. And they're so damned sexy to boot! The clever dialogue, luscious descriptions, and a fast moving plot have Jillian Stone and these hotties forever on my TBR list.

This past summer I had the honor of reading an advanced copy of A Dangerous Affair With Detective Lewis. And I am ashamed to say that life got in the way of my reviewing here in a timely manner. So, I figured today would be the perfect day to do so.

Rafe and Fanny are childhood sweethearts torn apart by deceit. (My favorite trope!) Years later, after the gruesome murder of Fanny's father, Rafe is sent by Scotland Yard to protect her from further harm, as a plot to kill Industrialists is underway. Fanny is headstrong and determined to stay away from Rafe, the man who broke her heart and ruined her life. Rafe is determined to keep Fanny safe and win back said broken heart. Being chased and nearly shot at every turn keeps them practically on top of one another or at each other's throats. And that makes for some great tension, angst, and of course, my favorite: some HA CHA CHAS!

Here's a line that made me sigh, when Rafe notices a subtle part of Fanny with an implied longing. I love that...

Rafe reached for her hand to help her down from the carriage. He caught a glimpse of white fingers through the crochet-work of her gloves.

Here's a line that made me swoon, when Fanny snuggles next to Rafe in bed after suffering a bit of shock and he comforts her...

"What is that?"

He muffled a snort against the fine hairs of her temple. "A good guess would be my cock." He made an adjustment to his trousers. "Actually, I'm quite certain of it."

..Astonishing really, that he could find himself lying in bed with Fanny Greyville-Nugent and not make love to her.

Oh, and to make the post come full circle, we get introduced to Agent Gunn in Detective Lewis. And, well, two Scotty too Hotties in one book had me re-reading a few scenes. Sigh and swoon.

So, if you love this:

Mixed with this:
And you don't mind a little of this:

Or a little of that:

Then you'll just adore her:
Jillian Stone


Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Power of the V... In Publishing

It’s an election year and whether you’re an Obama Mama or a Romney Mommy we cannot deny how women have influenced campaigns nationwide. The current political dialogue may teeter from the economy to health care but in the end, the focus comes back to us, or rather, our vaginas.

What does this have to do with publishing? Humor me for a sec. This diatribe about our whoohas has a point.

Here's a chat I had with the hubby recently:
Hubby: Are vaginas really magic?

Me: Well, yes they are. You're here, aren't you? You constantly try to do things to it; some new, some old, and some from national geographic. It also makes your jiggly bits do things, too.
Hubby: Oh, yeah. Can they stop things from happening from just thinking about it and stuff?

Me: Duh, of course they can. With just three Kegel Clenches, while whispering "There's no place like this V, there's no place like this V, there's no place like this V," Vaginas can prevent spontaneous combustion, calm murderous rages, simulate orgasms, and organize the hell out of a closet. We can't divulge all they can do. It's kind of a top secret thing. If everyone knew the government would weaponize them. Could you imagine Dr. Evil-esque lazer beams attached to them? The horror!
Watch the following commercial, “Hail to the V”, about how the most influential Women in History derived their power from a fresh clean feeling down under. Watch it. Now.


Wow, right? You totally want to run out and buy some vaginal perfume products. You could be Joan of Arc or Cleopatra with the right stuff for your stuff. But seriously, I believe that all Vs, regardless of being coiffed, fluffed, or au’natural have immense power.

And Empowerment is amazing.

So, I think I need to take the time here and empower Female Authors.

It’s hard being a writer. Rejection, self doubt, changes in the industry, and constantly honing our craft. Just finding time for ourselves, the creative side of ourselves amongst this daily thing called life is a huge challenge. You know, those things called families and such. I have a job, a kid, a hubby, pets, ailing relatives, friends, and this little thing called trying to be a published author. I haven't even had time to dye my hair. The teen, bless her heart, told me, in her, like, totally shocked, and, like, so annoyed 14 year old voice, that I, like, seriously needed to cover those grays. If she only had clue where else I have them. But that's another post.

I can't imagine being a published author, have all that pressure to succeed, and all of the above. I mean, its my goal to be there one day but it's daunting just trying to get there, with all of the above. Then to get there and not be as recognized as male authors? I have no words. Well, I do, but it's pretty filthy and one of the Nuns that taught me may read this. I push the envelope as it is already.


Writing is a solitary venture. But, we are not alone. We have a group of Amazing Women to draw strength from. It’s probably a group you didn’t even know existed.

Female New York Times Bestselling Authors.

Do you know that in the past ten weeks 74% of the NYT Bestselling works of Fiction have been written by women?

Yerp, you read that right. And I will type it again.
74% of the New York Times Bestelling Authors of Fiction in the top 10 for the past 10 weeks have been women.
For the weeks of August 5th through October 7th three quarters of NYT bestsellers were WOMEN. That’s combined print-hardback/paper, and combined e-books and print.
83% in combined print and e-book
64% in combined print- hardback and paperback
75% in total overall.
The power of the V.
Look at those numbers again? What do they tell us? E-books and print alone were a whopping 83%! Not once, in either category of Combined Print and Combined E-book and print did we ever fall beneath 50%, and we were only at fifty twice. The weeks of August 26th and September 23rd we had 100% of combined E-books and Print in the top ten!
These stats have me thinking of an article Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult did a while back about how no matter how many books they sell that male authors continue to get the literary praise, all the editorial write-ups in the NYT and other prestigious papers, and especially more cash from publishers with marketing. And in case you're not putting two and two together that can mean less income for a female author. You can't market, you can't sell, you won't make as much money.

Like most other industries, women continue to make less than men. But Picoult and Weiner had the courage to start this conversation back in august of 2010 and its still going on. I cannot not thank them enough. Many have talked about it. A male author even recently stated how Weiner and Picoult are belly aching about the whole thing.

This little post is not long enough to dissect the topic. But we can at least start the conversation. Like, why do we continue to be treated as such when WE are the dominating the sales?
It’s a man world, so some say.
But we can change that by sticking together and writing great fiction. Staying in female oriented groups and empowering one another. Maybe a few of us can come together and write an article for Writer’s Digest and start the dialogue rolling in a more public venue? Maybe we can just continue to craft great stories and allow our dominance to speak for itself.
Either way, it is our time to shine with our formidable Vs.
The Power of our collective Vs.
The Vs that continue to dominate the NYT top ten bestsellers list in fiction. This is the message we need to shout from the rooftops.

When I have time, I will compile the stats for an entire year. When I have the time. Which may be never. Feel free, anyone here, to do so yourselves. Please. It would be awesome. My magic whooha needs to save its energy for other things.
Ha cha cha and happy writing my fellow Vs.