C. A. Pack

Musings & Brainstorms & Rants

September 2014

A Dozen Traits I Have in Common with Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

Okay, maybe it’s a little (little?) pretentious of me to compare myself with Charles Dickens—a man regarded by many as the greatest writer of Victorian times—but if I don’t point out our similarities, no one else will. I feel I have a bond with Chuck (he loved nicknames) and I’d like to explain why.

1. Obviously, he was a fiction author. Guess what? Me, too.

2. A lot of Dickens work was written episodically. If you’ve read
Chronicles: The Library of Illumination, you know I write episodically, as well.

3. Dickens was born on February 7
th. Me, too!

4. He was born on an island (Portsea Island in Portsmouth). I was born on Long Island in New York.

5. Dickens wrote numerous novellas and short stories. Ibid!

6. He liked to weave topical elements into his plots. Been there, done that (oh wait, did I just use an outdates cliché? That’s somewhat topical).

7. Chucky is known to have been a voracious reader. I read every book in the juvenile section of the Lindenhurst Memorial Library by the time I turned eleven.

8. He worked as a reporter. OMG, the comparisons are just too much to bear!

9. Dickens was afraid of bats. I can say with certainty that I am, too.

10. We both are drawn to the paranormal. He can be linked to “The Ghost Club” of London. I can be linked to
Evangeline’s Ghost.

11. The Chuckster self-published one of his books—the most famous one—A Christmas Carol. Note how he used my first name in the title? Our bond was blooming even before I was born.

12. And in the study of one of his homes, he had a door which was designed like a bookcase (filled with fake books rumored to include titles like: Noah’s Arkitecture, and a nine-volume set titled Cat’s Lives) which led to a secret room. Okay, I don’t have one of those, but are you aware of the high cost of custom cabinetry? I would if I could.

Anyway, I thought I’d let you know about one of my idols, and the many traits we share.
Hey Chuck, if you can hear me, send some positive authorly karma my way (see no. 10). And, yes, I know ‘authorly’ is not a word, but neither was ‘abuzz’ until Dickens coined it. I rest my case.

“The most important thing in life is to stop saying 'I wish' and start saying 'I will.'”
David Copperfield

Romeo & Juliet

I wonder what Shakespeare meant by a "conceited tragedie?"

Romeo & Juliet photo RomeoandJulietfirstedtitlepage_zpse6cac289.jpg

Artist at Work

I’m posting a link to this video of an artist at work because I love watching his creative process unfold (and probably because I used to be an art major).



Genre Stew

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Have you ever been befuddled by genres?

Library of Illumination series has teen protagonists (young adult) who work at a library where books come to life (fantasy) and it happens in an urban setting (urban fantasy), but it has shape shifters and sorcerers in it (paranormal), and a time machine (science fiction). It’s written as individual novelettes and novellas and then grouped into novel-length “chronicles.” Most of Chronicles: The Library of Illumination (books 1 - 5) takes place in a library in the real world (paranormal) but it has a nuclear energy theme in one of the stories (science fiction), and magical elements (back to fantasy). I’m now at work on the Second Chronicles of Illumination—which includes my latest novelette—The Overseers—and it involves travel to other worlds (science fiction), with different beings and different cultures (fantasy, fantasy, fantasy).

For those of you who aren’t sure how these specific genres are defined, here’s a rough breakdown of the differences:

FANTASY: Something that can’t possibly happen, made to sound like it can—in an other-world setting. J.R.R. Tolkiens’s
Lord of the Rings is fantasy all the way. It clearly involves fantastical creatures set in other worlds or realities.

URBAN FANTASY: Fantasy in an urban setting. Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris fall under the urban fantasy umbrella.

PARANORMAL: Supernatural aspects (ghosts, shape shifters, werewolves) happening in a real world setting. The
Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer fits the paranormal genre. It happens in the real world, but there’s a weird element (vampires) in it. One of my books, Evangeline’s Ghost, straddles the line between urban fantasy and paranormal because my ghost travels back-and-forth from New York City to Heaven.

SCIENCE FICTION: Something that’s possible even if it’s improbable. H.G. Welles novels are as sci-fi as it gets. What’s interesting is that Diana Gabaldon’s
Outlander series is also considered sci-fi, although I would have labeled it paranormal. So, as you can see, this genre “thing” is not cut and dried.

Then there’s HORROR, which is any of the above genres written to scare the bejeebers out of you. Stephen King novels like
Carrie and Mr. Mercedes are easy to identify as horror.

Just to add another dimension to the genre dilemma, my primary demographic is young adult, which is often listed as a genre. For the most part, young adult literature can be any genre that has teen protagonists. There’s also new adult, but I believe that category skews older, with protagonists in their 20’s.

As my
Library of Illumination series continued, I had envisioned my protagonists morphing from YA into new adult territory, however, in The Overseers, they undergo a special ritual that stops that from happening. They may get older with each new adventure, but if you read the book, you’ll understand why that will no longer affect their YA designation.

I hope this helps eliminate some confusion.

Note: This blog was originally written by me as a guest post for