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Artist-author has first book published

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When Charles Soto is passionate about something, he likes to write about it. And when there is a controversial topic button to push, he likes to push that, too.

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The Ogema artist has released his first novel, "Heartache & Sin."

"I've done both (sculpture and writing) all my life. It's something I will continue to do, obviously for the passion. But, it's a lonely world," he said of writing.

Growing up in Nevada and California, Soto moved to Minnesota, where his wife is from originally. He said be likes the small town feel -- "I get waves from people passing by." Something he didn't get in Las Vegas and California.

After a 30-foot fall at work, Soto spent time recuperating at home in 2005. During that time, "Heartache & Sin" was written, as was his follow-up novel, "Pride & A Prayer."

For "Heartache & Sin" though, Soto wanted to build on that small town aspect, so he did some research and came up with Havana, N.D. Although he's never been to the town -- with the population of about 150 people, located one mile from the South Dakota border -- his researched showed it was the perfect location for his story.

"I needed family, farming and church for my story."

The story follows Steven and Karen Wheaton. The two are expecting their first child when Karen's health takes a deadly turn for the worse. The decision comes down to terminating the pregnancy or Karen losing her life. To add to the mix, the villain of the story is a corrupt clergyman who uses Karen for his own agenda.

"I think I picked the right place," Soto said of Havana.

The topic of abortion, he admits, "has certainly been done before," but not like he does it. "I wanted to write about a subject that brings passion. I wanted to show the other side to the story.

"Of course you wouldn't write about (a topic) if it wasn't passionate."

He said he chose the issue of abortion for "Heartache & Sin" because of its controversy.

"There are many, many sides to that issue. It will never go away.

"I like dealing with women's topics. They're explosive topics."

Above all else though, he said the novel is a love story between the husband and wife.

Soto said he would like to spend much more time writing and not having to deal with the publishing aspect of it all. He worked for about a year with editors, during which he also worked with Darlene Clark of Ogema. He published his work through Book Surge, a division of Amazon.

His second book, "Pride & A Prayer," which only took two months to write, takes place in Indiana. It discusses racial issues within a high school setting. Although written about a month after his first novel, this book will be released next year.

Not sticking to just one genre, Soto said he approaches writing like his sculpting.

"I open my mind to things, just like my artwork."

Since "Heartache & Sin' takes place in Havana, Soto plans to give each household in the town a copy of his book. While he has already sent out vouchers to the residents, he will also be handing them out to residents during a trip to Fort Ransom in September.

Soto will be displaying his artwork at the Sheyenne Valley Art and Craft Fall Festival, and plans to stop in Havana for a day to see the place he wrote about.

Also in September, Soto will be having a book signing on Monday, Sept. 21, from 5 to 7 p.m. in Country Charm, located in the Washington Square Mall in Detroit Lakes.

The book is available at Country Charm and Book World in Detroit Lakes, and online at several outlets.

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