It’s International Tiger Day! And with Solomon’s Seal just around the corner, I thought it was a good time to introduce you to my favourite non-saber-tooth-cat feline, so here’s a little taste as Livi gets a bit of help while facing off against a serpent dragon…
Let’s get right to it, shall we?
First up we have Oblivion, the fifth and (unfortunately?) final Demons of Oblivion novel on August 9.
Earthquakes. Plagues. Rivers of blood. The ever-so-popular rain of toads. When end of the world fare is on the rise, it’s well past business as usual in a city where the veil between dimensions is thin.
Quarter-demon Persephone Takata isn’t so keen on killing herself anymore. This time when death approaches, she’s ready to take a stand and fight to protect the woman she loves, along with everyone around them as the apocalypse swings into full force.
Meanwhile, trapped in her home dimension where her antichrist father’s rule is weakening, Mishka Thiering’s hopes for revenge on the living are put on hold when she stumbles across the truth the Court has kept hidden for centuries. Her death was the last piece of the puzzle, leading to a change in the dimensional landscape, affecting humans and demons alike.
Despite its fractured numbers, the shadowy organization who has kept tabs on Peri and Mishka for years is still very much in the game, ready to set into motion their final plan. For there is something much, much worse waiting in the wings—something old, something powerful, and something far more terrifying than Oblivion or any of the creatures it’s spawned.
Alliances, betrayals, casualties.
This is war. And only one sister can win.
This is what the others have all been leading to, and it absolutely is NOT standalone. You need to read books one through four (Bloodlines, Hunter, Lineage, Exhumed) as each book contains the pieces that come to a head in this one.
It is a very good idea to have read some of the extras, like Damaged: A Zara Lain Novella and 9 Crimes (a Nate collection), particularly the latter because Mishka refers to the events in it a lot. There’s also mention of the events from Prey, so Patrons of Snark will be familiar with some things.
There is a catch up series sale if you’ve missed any of the stories, 50% off from my online store.
So the Oblivion ebook is definitely available on August 9, but the print will be out a little bit later as I have to get it formatted and put together, hopefully about mid-month.
Just six weeks after that we have Solomon’s Seal, the start of a new series, on September 20.
The Livi Talbot novels combine urban fantasy and adventure, and I’m really excited readers will finally get to check them out.
EX-DEBUTANTE. SINGLE MOTHER. TREASURE HUNTER.
Disowned and left penniless for getting pregnant at seventeen, former celebutante Olivia Talbot was willing to do whatever it took to provide for her daughter…including become a treasure hunter. Since the Pulse hit, activating relics of legend, there are plenty of artifacts to be had—not to mention wealthy clients willing to pay top dollar for them.
Just as her daughter’s private school tuition cheque bounces, Livi gets an offer that could be the break she needs to return to some semblance of her former life. A potential new client wants her to travel to Ethiopia and retrieve the Seal of Solomon—a mythical ring said to control demons and djinn—and this bounty comes with one hell of a financial pay off.
The deadline: a week. The team: unreliable. The competition: her world-renowned archaeologist older brother. Nothing Livi can’t handle… Except the danger goes beyond a few subterranean serpent-dragons she might encounter or tangling with her employer’s deadly second-in-command. This client isn’t all he seems, and handing him the ring might be worse than what he’ll do to her—and her daughter—if she doesn’t.
Paperback will likely be available a bit before the ebook.
Here’s what really smart people with excellent taste in literature have to say:
“Whip-smart, gritty, and fascinating. Olivia Talbot is a badass, and a mother, I’d want on my side if the world went to hell. Skyla Dawn Cameron’s deft characterization, complex plotting, and brutal action leaves the reader gasping for more.”
–Lilith Saintcrow, New York Times Bestselling Author
“It’s well written with a balanced blend of humor and adventure you can’t deny is spellbinding.”
–My World…in words and pages
The Livi Talbot series is ten books. I’ve written the first few, and I’m committed to publishing three. After that, it’ll depend on my stress level. If they’re not selling, I’ll leave it at three. If they’re heavily pirated, I’ll leave it at three. If it makes me unhappy to publish them, I’ll leave it at three. The fourth book ends with a cliffhanger, and I don’t want to reach that point and then leave readers hanging, so three seems safe for now.
That’s it for 2016, unless I write a short story or novella or something.
What I’m Working On
The second Livi Talbot book, Odin’s Spear, is complete. I need to do another pass on it to smooth things out. I’m tentatively looking at February for it to release. The third book is in progress. If I have a draft done by the end of the year, I should be able to release it mid-2017. The covers are done for both, the blurb is done for OS, but I’ll reveal that stuff later.
Also on my plate is Wolfe, which still has to be rewritten (I know, I know, I just…y’all, I HATE that book).
Nothing else to report right now, I’m in the midst of a very busy summer.
I’m very excited about this!
Patrons of Snark and members of Alchemy Red have already seen the cover, but it is now officially public with the book going up for pre-order. You’ll find the exclusive cover reveal and an excerpt over at Mel’s blog today.
Today marks one year since Aunt Judy died.
There is a part of me that will never entirely believe it. I look at pictures of hers I grew up seeing now on my walls, gifts from her on my bookshelves, and it still doesn’t seem real. She was such a constant in my life, I just feel…lost so much of the time. I’m still eager to share new stories with her, only to realize she’ll never read them. That light we all lost with her still feels painfully absent, and I continually doubt I can live up to the potential she always saw in me.
This was the last email she sent me. My dad had died earlier in the month. Then my bunny. And I didn’t know it yet how much more I’d lose, how nothing would be the same again, nor how just a few days later she’d be in the hospital and wouldn’t come home again.
“I’m here for you, as always, for whatever.”
I try so hard to believe that. I do.
Death anniversaries are significant for most people, but it’s the year and a day that matters to me. That’s when the soul has been through some processing time and is free to return, to be reborn. Nothing is harder for me than faith, but I think it’s more that one believes rather than what one believes, so I choose to celebrate her tomorrow. To read her stories and hear her voice again and to remember she believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.
When I lived with her for a year and a bit, I introduced her to the height of indulgence for me: Hors d’Oeuvres Day. Usually I do it on my birthday, but we’d sometimes hit M&M’s, stock up, and just randomly watch movies and eat appetizers all day. She’d show me her favourite films she was excited about, I’d try to talk her into some terrifying horror movie, and we’d binge-watch TV shows. And drink daiquiris. So in addition to trying to be kind, to share that light she gave others, that’s my plan for the day and I ask you, wherever you are, to take even a few moments to do the same.
Encourage someone, show them what light they have inside them. Be kind to yourself. Eat some good food, watch some good movies. Drink. Laugh. Love.
So August 9 marks the end, the fifth and final book of the Demons of Oblivion series (hey! go pre-order, ‘kay??).
For those who would like to catch up before then, I’m having a series sale. ALL the main novels, novellas, bundles, and short stories are on sale for 50% off in my online shop using the coupon code oblivion at checkout. eBook only, obviously.
All eBook formats are available for the books, including pdf, epub (for Nook, Kobo, etc), and mobi (for Kindle). They’re easy to load–if you’re on your tablet, you should be able to click the link you’re sent and it’ll load in your preferred program as I do that with Kindle and Kobo on my iPhone. I also wirelessly transfer files to my Kindle by emailing them all the time.
There’s a coupon code for Payhip as well, however it’s a bit more limited–it’s 50% off the bundle boxset, which is the first three books (and doesn’t include Exhumed, #4). Same coupon code, oblivion.
This sale is only good until August 12 but these are long books–90K – 105K a pop–so start reading early!
And REMEMBER, these books have bad words, sex, violence, and snark in them. DO NOT read them if you don’t like fun.
See? I told you the book would come out eventually!
I don’t think you need a blurb or anything at this point. Mark August 9, 2016 on your calendar.
It’ll be elsewhere, like direct, upon release, and in paperback around the same time.
First round of Oblivion revisions are underway in between freelance stuff. Hopefully I survive.
Toward the end of next month, I hope to have Solomon’s Seal up for pre-order as well along with a cover reveal.
State of the Union time, boys and ghouls.
What I’m Working On
I squirreled away my pennies so I could take April off to focus on Oblivion. Of course that’s gone about as well as expected, but I anticipate finishing a very bare bones zero draft by the end of next week. It’s going to need a lot of fleshing out (like, I’m 70% through it and I’ve skipped about 10K worth of scenes), which I hope to do throughout May, and I’ll need to schedule time with my beta and copyeditor, but I’m looking to release it late this summer.
When it’s done, I have to finish a for-pay project, but then I’ll likely be working on Zheng’s Tomb, which I’m about 13K words into. I’m also playing with a fun comedic crime novel called Trix Moody that I’ll tell you about sometime if it ever actually goes anywhere.
Obv. More below.
As I’ve been hinting for a few months now (and previously told Patrons of Snark), September 20 will see the release of the first in a new series: Solomon’s Seal.
For the Livi Talbot books, think Tomb Raider meets Gilmore Girls in a mix of urban fantasy and adventure. SS will be up for pre-order in June. The cover is done but I’m awaiting the review quote for the front before previewing it along with rewriting the jacket copy, so look for that stuff later this summer when I have time to poke at it.
I’ll go into more detail about the series later, as right now I want to keep the focus gearing up for Oblivion, but atm I’ll say the Livi Talbot series is nine to ten books. At this point, I’m going to commit to publishing the first three. Other than something brief in the first one, there are no cliffhangers, so I won’t leave anyone hanging if my stress level gets too high and I decide to stop publishing them. (If sales are poor and piracy is high, I don’t want to quit with a cliffhanger and leave readers frustrated.) So three books to see how they do, each book with a resolution and nothing hanging. Beyond that, we’ll see. The goal is to release them three to six months apart–I have a workable third draft of Odin’s Spear done as a follow up to Solomon’s Seal that just needs a bit more smoothing out.
For Wolfe, it’s moved to next year. It was either work on those rewrites or work on Oblivion, and so I put it off. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
The novella Haunted is also backburnered. I just have too much on my plate with my books, for-pay writing projects, and re-releasing Aunt Judy’s books. I’ll see if I have time to rewrite it next year.
I also wanted to finish Heaven’s Choice, the prequel novella, before Oblivion but I’ve had to backburner it too. It was getting really long–Heaven’s quite a talker, probably as punishment for killing her–and I might save it for later when I feel like revisiting the series. If that changes, I’ll let everyone know.
Now for the questions…
Everything You Wanted to Know About Oblivion (But Were Afraid to Ask)
Release date? August 2016 (tentatively)
Pre-order? May or June
Availability? Everywhere ebooks are sold: Kindle, Kobo, Nook, iBooks, GooglePlay, ARe/Omnit Lit, direct, Smashwords, etc. Paperback on Amazon.
Length? About 90K words when all is said and done (around the length of Bloodlines).
Narrators? Peri and Mishka primarily. There are brief one-shots between Peri and Mishka’s sections featuring the other characters so most fan favourites get some “screen” time.
Is this the last book? Yes. No, it wasn’t supposed to be, but I’m done; my heart can’t take having another Zara book pirated given how much she means to me. I am actually looking forward to writing the next arc of books just for me. I might put them out in paperback eventually, I don’t know–the cost of stock and editing might be more than I can invest. For all intents and purposes, though, this is it.
Happily ever after? Oh AHAHAHA, sweetheart. I am not the writer for you if HEAs are requisite for your reading material. There’s closure to the arc, however it’s a painful book on a lot of levels and I expect it to get some hate.
But Zara and Nate— No, just don’t even with me. I’m not a romance writer. They are not the focus of the plot.
Additional short story at the end? Nope. I always used those to set up future books in the series. That would just be cruel this time.
Deleted scenes? I had to rewrite so much early on, yes, there’ll likely be some. I’ll post them at www.zaralain.com when the book releases. There were a few Peri scenes cut from the beginning that I loved but couldn’t use anymore.
Can I have a review copy? No. I am not touring or offering books for review or anything else, the stress is not good for me. People who took previous books didn’t bother with the fourth one and hated the third, so I’m certainly not handing out the fifth. It’ll be $4.99 in ebook or $11.49 in print, like the others. Some Patrons of Snark get ARCs. If you read it and enjoy it, and want to leave a review, I thank you. But I don’t have the spoons for pursuing reviews.
Will you have signed copies in your online shop? Yep!
Who dies? Everyone!*
Does it have a soundtrack? Yep! I’ll be resuming Soundtrack Sunday with both Oblivion and Solomon’s Seal later. For now, here are my top four Oblivion tunes on repeat:
So that’s it for now. Hopefully some pre-order links next month–I’ll post when it’s all settled. Back to writing this damn book now.
*Not everyone. Probably.
Today’s the fifth anniversary of the Evil League of Evil Writers. We have a interview with author Jim Butcher as well as a giveaway for one of his books. Head on over there to enter.
To celebrate all our years of eviltry, we’ll be having special guests throughout the month and there’s a massive giveaway by the ELEW members. Two baskets up for grabs with dozens of books (print, e, and audio) as well as gift cards for Amazon and tea. You can enter any time throughout the month, even daily if you like.
Among the prizes up for grabs is River and Bloodlines in print, and Whiskey Sour in ebook. Head here to enter and see what else is up for grabs.
This has been my week of Doing Scary Things, this blog post included.
One of the things I’m drawn to in stories, both the ones I write and ones I consume, involve characters having to become someone else in order to survive. The most literal example in my work would be Zara Lain.
Exhumed contained three flashbacks: the first follows newly-turned Ana as she hunts the living humans in her old home, ending up at last in the bedroom where her husband (and betrayer) sleeps with his new wife. The final flashback is when Ana has fully embraced being Zara Lai(ghea)n in 1739, no longer the broken woman she was but now the heroine we (really awesome people with excellent taste) all know and love.
The middle flashback, though, was her turning point, after she slaughtered everyone and had her revenge but knows she’s lost everything she once was:
Ana is gone and I don’t know who I am. What I am, beyond a monster.
But something lingers under my skin, pushing, pushing. Something urges my eyes open, forces my head to lift. I look at the canopy of trees, at the stripe of black that is the night sky. My heart is torn, chest ripped in two, hurting so badly that it surprises me the times I glance down and see it still looking whole. A sob wracks me, anguished cry tearing up to my lips, and my hands clutch my smooth belly, where a babe once grew before being snuffed out.
I could die. It would make no difference to anyone. But still, something is there, a thread so deep I can scarce comprehend it that simply says: No.
No, you will not die here.
It is no god. No devil. No spirit. Perhaps it is my own insanity, but still, it whispers to me.
And then the rain comes.
It patters down, beating leaves and striking my face, rolling down my forehead and into my closed eyes, tickling my parted lips. I let it wash over me, soak me, weigh down my bloody clothes like I’m drowning in it.
I am lost. I am tiny and broken and I can’t imagine a world in which I don’t hurt so deeply, so constantly. I am a weak girl, not yet eighteen, who let herself be betrayed, who could not fight off a vampire when he descended upon her, who relied on her husband and believed the only life she would ever have was as his wife.
But the whispering continues, faint in the darkness. I can no longer be Ana. I can no longer be this demon. I can no longer be a damaged little girl nursing her wounds and contemplating death.
I have to be more than that. And while I do not yet know my name, I know who I need to become.
Although she’s my polar opposite in many ways, this is why Zara’s always meant so much to me. Her ability to become someone else in order to save herself helped save me when I needed it.
We adapt and we change all the time to better exist in this world–we’re forced to, interacting with people, learning to navigate life. This is one of the reasons the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot appealed to me so much, to play Lara as she realizes she won’t escape Yamatai and save her best friend unless she becomes someone else–someone less squeamish, more brutal, more daring; a believer and a killer:
In our darkest moments, when life flashes before us, we find something. Something that keeps us going. Something that pushes us. When all seemed lost, I found a truth.
Some wounds leave us scarred but able to continue on. But other times, other traumas, cleave too deep. When you lose your future, part of your identity–when you have no other way of continuing on–you sometimes have to become someone else.
I realized a few months ago that I wasn’t going to survive.
We talk about depression as a chemical imbalance, which it is, but it also has triggers. And when you’ve lost everything you’ve ever wanted, and your life is over, what the chemicals are doing in your head is irrelevant; no amount of drugs, even if I was inclined to take them, was going to fix that. I had no hope, no aspirations (I still don’t). For eight months I spent 80% of my waking hours in tears, every day. I didn’t want to get out of bed, or wake up, or breathe; I didn’t want to be alive.
I knew time was running out and depression was going to win. I wasn’t going to survive because there was no part of me left that wanted to.
Several years ago, I was nothing. Literally. Someone spent a decade taking me apart piece by piece until I was a half-person, unrecognizable, and so deeply broken after a trauma that I had to become someone else (like Zara).
So I did. Bit by bit I made a new person. It’s a surprisingly powerful position to be in (regardless of the Hindu accuracy of that post, it’s an excellent point), when you are nothing and have nothing and get to decide who you become. I picked traits of mine I’d always thought–been told–were negatives and learned how to twist them into virtues (with Aunt Judy’s help). I became someone I liked.
But things happened last year that this girl I liked wasn’t going to make it through. And she has to go away now.
I still don’t want to say goodbye to her, or to her hopes and dreams even if they’re all dead now. I mourn her. I’ll miss her. Others will too, and those not super close to me will likely drift away as they don’t find the same Skyla they used to know. But I hit the Depression Event Horizon, and she wasn’t coming back from that.
So I’m becoming someone else. Rebuilding piece by piece, deciding what characteristics might fit and what to discard, picking the qualities that will let me survive and deciding who I want to be. It’s an uncomfortable process, like my skin doesn’t fit right; a physical process as much as it is a mental one. I’m a little colder, a little more distant, a little less patient while I work out becoming the girl who will live through this.
The hardest thing in this world is to live in it. So it’s okay, if you ever find yourself in a position like that, to become someone else to survive. The thing you have to realize, the thing I keep reminding myself of when I have no hope, is that you never know how your story is going to end. I look at the things in my life I never in a million years believed would happen–most recently, that I spent the holidays with family who only learned I existed less than two years ago and who have welcomed me as part of their pack–and I am entirely certain, I can promise you, that you just can never know.
But you have to be here to see it.
It’s okay to change and adapt. It’s okay to become someone else. It’s okay to mourn who you were.
It’s okay to survive.
I don’t know yet what I’m becoming, but I think at least I’ll be here to find out–and that’s more than I had a few months ago.
A couple of years ago I did the MS Walk (I think I raised about $700 or so?). I didn’t the following year as that was when my own illness hit, and didn’t last year because everyone died and it was very stressful, but I’m committed again for the 2016 one.
You might remember this picture from the 2013 walk:
I blurred that out to protect her privacy because other than to a handful of people, she’s never come out before publicly. This is something she’s lived with for ten years and she didn’t want to be treated any differently because of it, so I remained silent and I crossed my fingers in the hope that saying “hey, help my nameless friend” would be enough to get the support of others.
She has dealt with multiple sclerosis for a decade. Not just the progressively fewer spoons but the knowledge that one day there will be none left (although she’ll always have knives). Through example, she has taught me how to be stronger, better, braver, and how to face terrible truths not because of a lack of fear but in spite of it.
For a myriad of reasons, she’s finally come out now in a post I urge you to read and consider.
One of those reasons is because the way this disease operates, chipping away at her bit by bit, there is a clock ticking over her head. As it progresses, she’ll reach a point in the future where she won’t be able write that post and say what she wants to say–hell, MS might even cut the signal from her brain to her lungs and she’ll stop breathing suddenly and without warning.
The thing is, I want to stop that clock.
I firmly and totally believe I can stop that clock.
There are huge strides being made right now with regards to MS research. Seriously. Every single day we’re that much closer to the cure. Canada has the highest rates of multiple sclerosis of any country, and research being done in this very country with money raised by MS Walks hold the promise of not only stopping the clock over Dina’s head but maybe reversing it.
Dina James is the only person who has given me hope in the past year when I was at my worst and had nothing–now I want to give that back to her. She has saved my life before.
I believe together we can save hers.