Thursday, January 15, 2015

The History of the Book

“The book is one of humanity's most enduring cultural artifacts and treasures. As it evolves, the greatest threat to its future is therefore not from technical advances but from the danger of new generations losing the inclination to read. The ability to read and write is our greatest tool in education, and, apart from the family, the single most important medium existing for the transmission of ideas and the continuance of an evolving human culture. Why should we continue to value, preserve, read, and write books? Simply because of what they represent. Books record our past and progress; contain our experiments, fancies, knowledge, and accumulated wisdom; proclaim our fears and ideas; and champion our ideals, dreams, and hopes for the future. More than any other medium, books carry the heart and soul of our civilisation forward, and keep it accessible. Long live the book!” Read Bruce’s wonderful history of the book here.

Monday, January 12, 2015

#Censorship - Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of...

“Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.” 

~Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, The One Un-American Act, Nieman Reports, vol. 7, no. 1, Jan. 1953, p. 20.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Join me in welcoming Christopher Koehler and his newest novel "Poz"!

Clutch the Pearls 
Writing A Book In First-Person When You’ve Never Done Such a Thing

Thanks for joining us, Christopher. It's great to have you here celebrating the release of your newest book, Poz. Today you're talking about writing in deep first-person perspective and the attendant doubt and fear that had you clutching your pearls, as it were. Nonetheless, you found wonderment and fascination in the process and it allowed you to feel closer to your characters and write a far richer story. Can you tell us a little about that?

Some writers are pantsters, meaning they write by the seat of their pants. Some are plotters, meaning they plot things out. I fall into that latter camp, and may in fact be the arch-plotter. I’ll spare you the gory details of my plotting, but it’s thorough. I have a plot structure that has served me well for five novels, and carried me though the ups and downs of my characters’ dramatic and emotional lives.

There was but one problem when it came to Poz. That structure bored me to tears. Don’t misunderstand me. I still use it, but it’d become so familiar to me that it no longer held any challenge. How could I shake up my writing and do something to get me back to how I felt when I wrote my very first m/m romance, Rocking the Boat? The writing of that book scared me to death. I questioned myself at every step and nothing I did felt right.

The only thing I could think of was to write Poz in the deep first person. It was something I’d never done before. Of course, I’ve never tried writing while standing on my head or while submerged up to my neck in human blood, so let’s not chase this novelty bit off a cliff. 

What do I mean by deep first person? The writer situates the reader inside the head of the protagonist. The reader sees everything that happens from the perspective of that primary character. Or, perhaps I should say, the reader sees everything the author chooses to depict from that primary character’s point of viewbecause you don’t see literally everything. 

Writing, regardless of the genre or whether it’s Young Adult, New Adult, or adult story, is still just like life only without the boring parts. We don’t need to see decisions about which clothes to wear if they’re not part of the plot. President Teddy Roosevelt’s decision to put his glasses case in his left chest pocket would be important because they later took a bullet for him. In Poz, Remy’s decision to wear a certain tee shirt was only important at one particular time because it aggravated Michael. Otherwise? Booooring. 

Writing in the first person, whether you’re so deeply embedded that you’re tossed about by every emotion and thought the viewpoint character has, or whether you share that character’s somewhat perspective, puts you, the reader, right into the thick of things. And there was something about Remy’s story that demanded to be told from inside his head. 

So, that’s what I did. I started writing Poz in deep first person and I had never been so afraid of writing a book in my life. Every other book I’ve written has been in deep third, in which we’re inside a third-person narrator’s head with his thoughts and feelings. But writing Poz was magical! It was fantastic! First-person perspective was the answer. But because I try to take the reader so deep into the protagonist’s head, that protagonist—Remy Babcock—has been called unreliable—I suppose because there’s no attempt at an omniscient presentation of facts. 

Humor me with something. Extend your arm and make a fist. Close one eye and stick out your thumb. Take a good look at that thumb. Now close that eye and open the other one. The perspective’s changed a bit, hasn’t it? Same thumb on the same hand, but it looks just a little different, doesn’t it? What we see depends on our perspective, hardly an original observation. Good grief, even Obi-wan said that in 'Return of the Jedi,' "...You're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view." A fuller expression of truth and perspective can be found in Kurosawa’s classic film, “Rashamon.”

I don’t think a "deep-first" protagonist is unreliable because there is no omniscient presentation of facts. It's merely that we read everything from that protagonist's perspective. That doesn’t make the facts any less true. 

Writing Poz in deep first-person perspective filled me with doubt from beginning to end. I second-guessed myself with every word, every decision I made, but when you meet Jeremy “Remy” Babcock you will be right there inside his head; with him as he navigates the shoals of high school, dating, and some very risky activities. I also hope you fall in love with him, because I did. Well, him and his eventual boyfriend Mikey “call me Michael, dammit” Castelreigh.

Great information, Christopher! Thanks to all of you for joining us! Check out the blog tour and don't forget to enter for a chance to win Poz below!

Poz is available in ebook and print at 

Remy Babcock and Mikey Castelreigh are stalwart members of the Capital City Rowing Club’s junior crew, pulling their hardest to earn scholarships to rowing powerhouses like California Pacific. Just a couple of all-American boys, they face the usual pressures of life in an academic hothouse and playing a varsity sport. Add to that the stifling confines of the closet, and sometimes life isn’t always easy, even in the golden bubble of their accepting community. Because Remy and Mikey have a secret: they're both gay. While Mikey has never hidden it, Remy is a parka and a pair of mittens away from Narnia. 

Mikey has always been open about wanting more than friendship, but Remy is as uncomfortable in his own skin as he is a demon on the water. After their signals cross, and a man mistakes Remy for a college student, Remy takes the plunge and hooks up with him. After a furious Mikey cuts Remy off, Remy falls to the pressure of teenage life, wanting to be more and needing it now. In his innocence and naiveté, Remy makes mistakes that have life-long consequences. When Remy falls in the midst of the most important regatta of his life, he can only hope Mikey will be there to catch him when he needs it most. 


Christopher Koehler learned to read late (or so his teachers thought) but never looked back. It was not, however, until he was nearly done with grad school in the history of science that he realized that he needed to spend his life writing and not on the publish-or-perish treadmill. At risk of being thought frivolous, he found that academic writing sucked all the fun out of putting pen to paper. 

Christopher is also something of a hothouse flower. Inside of almost unreal conditions he thrives to set the results of his imagination free, and for most of his life he has been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who encouraged both that tendency and the writing. Chief among them is his long-suffering husband of twenty-two years and counting. 

When it comes to writing, Christopher follows Anne Lamott’s advice: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” So while he writes fiction, at times he ruthlessly mines his past for character traits and situations. Reality is far stranger than fiction. 

Christopher loves many genres of fiction and nonfiction, but he's especially fond of romances, because it is in them that human emotions and relations, at least most of the ones fit to be discussed publicly, are laid bare. 

Writing is his passion and his life, but when Christopher is not doing that, he's an at-home dad and oarsman with a slightly disturbing interest in manners and other ways people behave badly. 

Visit Christopher on his blog and 
follow him on Twitter @christopherink

Follow the tour and enter below for a chance to win an eCopy of Poz!

7 Jan - Prism Book Alliance
9 Jan - Cody Kennedy
10 Jan - The Novel Approach
11 Jan - 9-11 a.m. PST Meet Christopher at Harmony Ink's Author Chat
14 Jan - Jamie Mayfield
15 Jan - Love Bytes
19 Jan - GGR Reviews
21 Jan - Hearts on Fire Reviews
22 Jan - MM Good Book Reviews
26 Jan - James Erich
28 Jan - Joyfully Jay
2 Feb - Rainbow Gold Reviews

Monday, January 5, 2015

#Censorship of constitutionally protected speech...

“Censorship [] of constitutionally protected speech, whether for protection or for any other reason, violates the First Amendment.” ~American Library Association.