C. A. Pack

Musings & Brainstorms & Rants

July 2015

Johanna Charette vs. Jackson Roth

This guest blog appeared yesterday on Bent Over Book Words as part of my virtual book tour for Second Chronicles of Illumination and it talks about why my female protagonist Johanna Charette isn’t as much fun as her partner Jackson Roth.

Every great couple survives because each individual brings complementary strengths to the relationship. In the
Second Chronicles of Illumination, as in all the Library of Illumination adventures, Johanna plays the straight “man” to Jackson’s joking. Readers are always telling me how ‘great’ Jackson is, and how ‘mature’ Johanna is, adding that she doesn’t even seem like a teenager. It’s because Johanna is a serious book nerd who found solace from her miserable childhood at an orphanage, inside the pages of books. The rules at Peakie’s Foundling Home were stringent, and Johanna rarely got to play games or have fun. The home also frowned on individuality, so Johanna had to learn how to fit in. She did it by emulating the adults around her. And she learned to play it safe, not daring to do anything unconventional until the very end of her residency there.

Jackson’s childhood was nearly as miserable, but he had his brother Chris and his sister Ava to play around with, and a loving, if financially stressed, mother who encouraged his sense of humor. Sometimes there was barely enough money to put food on the table, but the Roth boys survived by out-joking each other to take their minds off what they
didn’t have. Their younger sister was their greatest fan. Even their mother couldn’t help but smile at some of their antics. Jackson, being the oldest, was expected to be the “man” of the house. He learned how to face adversity and quickly diffuse problems. It forced him to become daring—and he took risks that many other people would turn their backs on.

So while both Johanna and Jackson both grew up poor, they had very different life experiences. Johanna is very insular. Her upbringing forced her to develop an acerbic wit and dry sense of humor, often meant only to amuse herself. Jackson is much more likely to joke around in an open, carefree way that will elicit laughs, and acceptance, from onlookers. People respond to him.

Consider them two sides to the same coin. And like every famous duo, you’re going to prefer one partner to the other. You know if they were playing “good cop, bad cop” Johanna would be the bad cop because it’s the role she’d be most comfortable playing. Jackson is the more likable of the two so, of course, he would play the good cop. There’s a line in
Second Chronicles of Illumination when a flight attendant calls him “Sir.” His reply? “I’m not a ‘sir.’ I’m Jackson.” He’s real. He’s humble. And he’s cute.

But don’t think Johanna plays second fiddle to Jackson. She’s intelligent, methodical, and passionate about what she does. She’s the “prime” curator—a tower to be climbed; an ocean to be crossed; a force to be reckoned with; and appearing to be unattainable gives her a certain amount of allure.

Maybe the only person who likes Johanna better than anyone else—is Jackson. He’s absolutely under her spell. She was his mentor. She scolded him when he made mistakes, but never shut him out. He learned from her and learned to depend on her. And in turn, she learned to depend on him. They provide each other’s support system. They’re a team. And they bring out the best in each other. And that’s what makes them a great couple, even if you think Jackson deserves better!

Rembrandt Lived Here

As a former art major and a lover of architecture, how could I not reprint this Houzz article on Rembrandt’s Amsterdam home?

Evolution of the Stethoscope

I love graphics, like this one from Newsday, which shows the history of something I may want to use in a future book. Since both the
Evangeline series and the Library of Illumination series involve time travel, glimpses into history provided by articles like this one, help round them out.


Six Little Known Factoids about the Second Chronicles of Illumination

2COI_1_inch copy

I recently authored a guest blog for Mythical Books as part of my virtual
Second Chronicles of Illumination book tour, and it allowed me to reveal some information about the Library of Illumination and its curators that might never make it into the final version of the book. That’s not to say these factoids won’t appear in a future episode. Just that they were either not stressed, or made abundantly clear in existing books, or were left on the cutting room floor. But anyone familiar with writers knows every word we’ve ever written is precious to us, and we can’t bear to cast precious pieces of prose or interesting ideas into oblivion. And so I’m going to share those bits and bobs with you right now, to give you insight into what I know—that everyone else may not be privy to.

Here are six little known factoids about the characters in my books.

• Jackson looks older than he is. Johanna looks younger. So they appear to be the same age. However, Johanna is seventeen months older than Jackson, which is why she’s reluctant to amp up their relationship.
• All the books in Libraries of Illumination appear in the language of the reader.
• Some overseers’ symbols in the ebook are different from the ones in the print version, because of font limitations.
• Jackson and Johanna are protected from the effects of the space-time continuum by a combination of their longevicus charm, and a special charm Myrddin placed on his workshop on Skokholm Island. It worked on them, but not on Cathasach or Beck, because Johanna and Jackson are curators. And so was Myrddin.
• There are seven doors hidden in the basement of the Library of Illumination that protect vastly different chambers. Door 7 is, of course, the vault. Door 5 leads to a crypt containing former curators. There’s a nuclear room from which the blue orb powers the library behind Door 2. And a Time-Map Room, which displays a requested place during different layers of time behind Door 6. Door 4 leads to a Duplication Room where many, but not all, items can be replicated. Door 3 is the entrance to the Alchemy Room where materials can be transformed into something they are not. And Door 1 is so secret; even I haven’t yet discovered what it protects.
• Jackson had a triquetra tattoo on his neck, but it disappeared during a time fluctuation.

There is so much more I could add, but those items would be spoilers for upcoming storylines. So for now, I’ll have to keep them to myself. Suffice it to say, Jackson and Johanna will have a fun time discovering what’s behind all the locked doors in the basement.

(Most of this post was originally published as a guest blog for Mythical Books on July 14, 2015)

A Page from The Iliad

This is a late 5th or early 6th c. page (found on Wikipedia) from "The Illiad” by Homer, believed to be one of the oldest works in western literature. When I was a child, I found a copy of “The Iliad and The Odyssey” in the attic among my father’s books and tried to read it, but I didn’t understand what I was reading, nor its significance.


Who Knew Prepositions Had A Song?

I never give much thought to prepositions except when I end a sentence with one. But grammarrevolution.com thinks they’re important enough to merit their own song. Unfortunately, the “preposition song” doesn’t include a complete list of all the prepositions we might use, but at this point, I don’t even know if Im capable of memorizing the short list they have in this song. Still, it caught my interest, so it’s here.

You May Not Win, But You Don't Have to Lose

To give away books … or not to give away books—that is the question.

I just read an interesting interview by an expert in book marketing who says once an authors' books are published, they shouldn't use them as prizes in giveaways and raffles. The reasoning is: people who might purchase a book don't click on the "buy" button because they're hoping to
win a copy of it. That kind of delay apparently costs sales because there are so many new books coming out every week, people tend to forget about you. Out of sight, out of mind.

This saddens me, especially considering my YA Fantasy
Second Chronicles of Illumination just came out this week, and I've got a book giveaway going on right now on Goodreads.

I just want to say to those of you who are hoping to win a copy of my book—if you don't win, please don't forget about it entirely. Instead, go to your local
library and ask for it.

They probably won't have it on the shelves because it's an indie book. But they will have access to it, and if you ask for it by name, they may buy or borrow a copy for library patrons, like yourself, to read. And it won't cost you a dime.

Then, if you're a really nice person, you'll review it here on Goodreads. That's all an author can hope for (and yes, I am ending the sentence with a preposition).

And thanks for your interest in my books!