May 24, 2013

Guest Post+ Giveaway: A Warm Place To Call Home

"Frederick is a demon. Born in Maryland in the early 1980′s, he hasn’t a clue where he came from or why, but feels an irresistible desire to occupy a human body. Once inside, he finds the previous occupants’ consciousness and memories forever erased, an inevitable side effect that gives Frederick pause when switching bodies, but not so much as to truly halt his ongoing enjoyment of human lives. In various bodies, he travels the world for decades–aimless–sampling cultures and experiencing life from the points of view of males, females, young, old, rich, poor. Now, Frederick has an urge to return to his roots in America, explore the mystery of his origin, find someone to love, and settle down for a while. In his hometown, his mission bears fruit much faster than he expected, as person after person presents themselves, and following his impulses, he is lead directly to love, tragedy, answers, and the humanity he never knew he wanted. "

Warm Place to Call Home (a demon’s story)
By Michael Siemsen
Genre: Paranormal Romance with Urban Fantasy Undertones
Publisher: Fantome Publishing
Released March 4, 2013
244 Pages

Purchase Links
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Plagiarism as Education

My fourth grade teacher assigned my class a writing project. We were to write a short story and glue the final draft pages onto a scroll. Well, I loved to read, so I knew I would excel at this task. My favorite book series was Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat, about the galaxy’s greatest thief, Slippery Jim DiGriz. I wasn’t quite sure what my amazing story would be about, and as time flew by without a word written, I decided I would use the Rat as my inspiration. I would write about a thief…in the future…the greatest thief ever! At some point, as I wrote, I found myself stuck at parts. Slippery Jim had driven this bubble-top car at one point in the book. I had liked that part. I really wanted to have something cool like that in my story. But what’s *like* a bubble-top car without actually being a bubble-top car? Ah, screw it; it’ll be a bubble-top car! And then as I wrote it, I just wasn’t satisfied by the way I had described it. Harrison had made it sound so much cooler…maybe I’ll just borrow a few of his words…

In the end, “my” story was probably 80% Harry Harrison (the good parts), and 20% Michael Siemsen. But I wasn’t ashamed when I turned it in. I was quite proud. How impressed they would all be! And they were. I got the best grade in the class. And then I got an award from the principal in front of a hundred-plus parents and students. My scroll story was going to be on display at some library or museum or something I don’t recall. And now I was crapping my pants because I was afraid I would be caught. It had gotten too big! The odds of my teacher or classmates or principal being familiar with Harrison’s books had been slim, but now who knew how many people would read it? Someone would read it and they would know what I had done. I would be shamed and branded with a scarlet P on my chest for life.

Now, if I was the precocious younger sibling on a sitcom, I would have been so guilt-ridden that I would come forward, or someone would tell me they knew what I had done and insist I ‘fess up. But nothing happened, and soon I got the scroll back to the safety of my house. Hah! Like Slippery Jim DiGriz, I was apparently the greatest plagiarist in the galaxy! The fools! I finished the 4th grade and was elevated to a more advanced 5th grade class than all my friends, being a prodigy and all. I was screwed. I hated the teacher. Everybody in this class was smarter than me. x = hunh? When did the ABC’s start mixing with the 123’s? I didn’t do well at all. And one day I got a D on some English assignment. Oh, how the fake mighty have fallen.

The teacher spoke to me at her desk. “You know, if you had just spent a little more time on this, it could have been something great.” I shrugged. “I liked your scroll story, you know…” Great, now she’s going to ask me why I don’t write like that anymore… “Have you read Harry Harrison’s Eden series? I think you’d like it.”

She knew! I’m sure my face flushed red. The humiliation! She knew and she wanted me to know she knew. I hadn’t been so damned clever after all. Who else knew? Whom had she told? But I never heard another word about it. She kept it to herself.

So I guess there was a sitcomesque ending after all, only it was a year later. And there was a stinging lesson learned, too. To this day I am crippled by fears of unoriginality. “Has this been done before? Eh, too similar to xyz…” Others insist that every story has already been told, it’s just in how you tell it, but Mrs. Whatever-her-name-was squints at me across a room in my mind, letting me know she’s forever watching.

 -Michael Siemsen


Author Bio:

Michael Siemsen struck it big with his debut novel, The Dig, a paranormal archaeology thriller that reached Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s Top 100 Bestseller lists, and spent weeks as the #1 Science Fiction book in 2011. Its success allowed him to escape his soul-leeching job and work as an author full-time. The sequel, The Opal, was released a year later, and the third and final book is in the works. His new novel, released in March of this year, A Warm Place to Call Home (a demon’s story) is a departure from his Matt Turner Series. Michael has been featured by Barnes & Noble, been reviewed on several major blogs and sites such as Penny-Arcade and Boing Boing, and received a glowing recommendation from author Charlaine Harris. He is currently at work on the prequel to A Warm Place to Call Home (which should be released this winter) while enjoying spending more time with his family, lazy dog, and mentally-unstable cat in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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