While things may be quiet on my virtual home, I have a couple of posts up at the Evil League of Evil Writers, which you can find here.
So, release dates. Haunted was originally set for Nov 27. That ain't gonna happen. I've been clearing things off my plate bit by bit but with a flare up of my carpal tunnel syndrome and other editing/writing stuff to do, I've slacked on my revisions. Good news is that there hasn't been *much* to revise, and I've been pleasantly surprised--I forgot much of the story and it's not half bad. So December's a possibility, but it's a short month in publishing, so might be January; I'm not stressing. I'll keep y'all posted.
NaNo will probably be a bust--see aforementioned wrist problems--but I've been adding words here and there to a couple of projects. I did finish Solomon's Seal last month, and it feels good to finish something other than for-pay writing or short things--the only "Skyla" things I've finished this year have been some short stories and Nate's 9 Crimes novella. So a 90K book, even though it's a mess? Yes, please, I'll take it. I've been reading on my weekends for research, taking notes, and stealing an idea from Mel by using mini Post Its to keep track of things. Very handy!
I've redone my murder board with Solomon's Seal revision notes, a timeline, and Livi's next book--along with stuff from the set aside NaNo project--and my goal is to beat that into shape for betas when I have some time off in December. It is both daunting and exciting--I really like these characters and this world and hope to share it with you eventually.
What else is new? Well, I got slapped upside the head with a cold yesterday. I often get rundown and I have chronic allergies, but I rarely get sick-sick. Generally it doesn't last long but I am a HORRIBLE baby about it. As of this evening, I've had five cups of tea (a lot of ginger, lemon, garlic, and honey), cold pills, juice, cinnamon buns (no judgement--they're, uh, healing), and I'm curled up on the couch with a housecoat and two blankets, watching Twin Peaks.
Ah, Twin Peaks. Probably my earliest fiction influence, more so than Buffy or the things people usually associate with me. I got the boxset when it was on sale a few weeks ago and it finally arrived. Me and Agent Cooper have a history--my one true crush on a fictional character. I adore his class, his intelligence, his quirks, and his love of a damn fine cup of coffee. I shipped him and Audrey so darn hard.
Of course, TP is also a source of one of my greatest fears (no, not midgets): the killer BOB. *shudder* I still hide my eyes when he's on screen. (I was going to add a gif from Twin Peaks Gifs of him but then I remembered I'd like to sleep tonight).
Remember, don't judge me when I'm sick.
Last week I also updated the hair--my roots were coming in so I threw on a fresh coat of blonde and changed to purple/fuchsia streaks. Here you go:
I'm having a lot of fun--I think blonde and various bright colours will keep me occupied for a good long while.
Now I'm gonna sit here doped up awhile longer with My Special Agent and hope tomorrow I don't feel like wet cotton is stuffed in my ears and brain.
Today I have a fabulous guest post from author Krista D. Ball to promote her new book What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank. Whether you're a reader or a writer of fantasy, a historian, or a cook, this is a MUST READ.
Equal parts writer’s guide, comedy, and historical cookbook, fantasy author Krista D. Ball takes readers on a journey into the depths of epic fantasy’s obsession with rabbit stew and teaches them how to catch the blasted creatures, how to move armies across enemy territories without anyone starving to death, and what a medieval pantry should look like when your heroine is seducing the hero.
Learn how long to cook a salted cow tongue, how best to serve salt fish, what a “brewis” is (hint: it isn’t beer), how an airship captain would make breakfast, how to preserve just about anything, and why those dairy maids all have ample hips.
What Kings Ate will give writers of historical and fantastical genres the tools to create new conflicts in their stories, as well as add authenticity to their worlds, all the while giving food history lovers a taste of the past with original recipes and historical notes.
Abortion, Epic Fantasy, and The Good Ol' Days
I’ve encountered a lot of interesting reactions to my fiction, and have gotten some fairly oddball comments and complaints. There isn’t an author out there who hasn’t at some point. Authors often say that you haven’t really made it until someone takes the time to blog about how awful your book was. But, there is nothing like getting emails that make your jaw drop. For me, those emails are about abortion.
In Tranquility's Blaze, a character has an abortion following a sexual assault as part of a magical rite:
“Was it your choice?” Ruth motioned her head at Amber’s thighs.
Ruth already knew the answer, of course. Bethany outlined the details in her letter to the midwife. She didn't see the point in making the girl tell the story. Bethany swallowed. Woman.
Amber broke into sobs, hiccupping the words out. “He forced...forced me...raped me.”
Ruth wrapped her thick arms around Amber and rocked her, hushing and whispering sweet words. Bethany’s heart dropped as her memories forced her to relive her trek into Taftlin. Instinctively, she wrapped her fingers around the dagger sitting on her belt, gritting her teeth. No word brought out her battle rage more than rape. Every time she heard that vile, disgusting word, her mind flooded with the memories of her younger sister.
Memories resurfaced, threatening to drown her. So often had she pushed that memory to the furthest reaches of her mind only to have that word, that hateful word, drag it back up into the light. Thankfully, Jovan wasn’t here. Bethany could now control her anger in the face of that word. He still could not, and never would.
“Are you sure you want to go ahead with this?” Ruth asked. “It will be painful and there is a lot of risk."
Amber nodded weakly and then collapsed her head into Ruth’s ample chest. “Yes.”
I’ve gotten a lot of hateful comments about the above scene. It wasn’t because of the politics of abortion; I had been braced for that. In fact, I tried to address the different beliefs surrounding abortion by having the law of the local land being against abortion, whereas Amber was from a nation where abortion was OK. But, see, that didn't bother anyone.
It was that abortion is a modern creation and therefore is “anachronistic.” It stunned me. It was one of those facts that you just assumed everyone knew. Like, did they think the long list of foods pregnant women couldn’t eat was to just irritate them?
So, for those people, I have a very shocking announcement: abortion has been happening for a long, long time and food was in league with it.
I took Introduction to Anthropology in my first year of university. I don’t remember the professor’s name anymore, but I remember when he talked about the role of abortion and birth control in hunter-gatherer groups. Assuming single births, a woman is capable of giving birth to three children every two years. How would any nomadic group function if its women each had three babies to look after?
Nomadic tribes have lower birth rates than agrarian communities because children are a hindrance. (Children in agrarian communities are an asset since they can work the land.) Women could only carry, at maximum, two babies at once, and would need to carry them for the bulk of the first two years.
The Georgians and Victorians brought us the concept of “laying in”, where a very pregnant and new mother would be locked up in her room for a month to ensure she did not become sick and die. However, this was a luxury for the leisure class. Working class women in many centuries did not have that luxury, nor did nomadic women. My mother often talks about how she gave birth to her eighth child, and had seven others under the age of nine waiting for their dinner. She gave birth, cleaned herself up, and got to making meals since there was no time to lay around.
The nomadic woman would need to practice birth control in some form to prevent this, either in the form of abstinence for two or three years, plants such as juniper to reduce the likelihood of conception (juniper might also cause a miscarriage before she is even aware she is pregnant), or active abortion once her menses has ceased. Or, perhaps a combination of all three.
Many plants have birth control properties. Many of them also can cause abortions, too. Any midwife worth her salt would know the best combination of plants to end a pregnancy. There might be religious or legal edicts against it, but like on the streets of London during the Regency period, the prostitutes and servants who were used and abused by those glamourous bucks often needed an outlet to protect themselves from pregnancy.
The above is an excerpt from Krista D. Ball's latest book, What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank: A Fantasy Lover's Food Guide, and is available now on Amazon and soon on other sites.
Tranquility's Blaze is the first book in Ball's Tales of Tranquility series and is published by Mundania Press. Her second book in the series, Tranquility's Grief, will be available in early December.
About the Author: Krista was born and raised in Deer Lake, Newfoundland, where she learned how to use a chainsaw, chop wood,and make raspberry jam. After obtaining a B.A. in British History from Mount Allison University, Krista moved to Edmonton, AB where she currently lives. Somehow, she’s picked up an engineer, two kids, six cats, and a very understanding corgi off ebay. Her credit card has been since taken away. Like any good writer, Krista has had an eclectic array of jobs throughout her life, including strawberry picker, pub bathroom cleaner, oil spill cleaner upper and soup-kitchen coordinator. You can find her causing trouble at http://kristadball.com
It's been three months. Time for another State of the Union!
* Exhumed - Second draft complete. Should be in edits next month (I want to run through it one more time first). Looking at a July 10 release so I can avoid a Mercury retrograde. Shut up.
* Amends - On hold. If I'm able to take a working vacation soon, I'll churn out a few more chapters so they're scheduled and ready. It was burning me out and like three people were reading it anyway, so it got backburnered (*waves to the three people*).
* Oblivion - Planning stages still. I'm going to try to write it early fall, hoping for a January release.
* In Darkness Waits - I realized what was tripping me up with it. It's on hold while I sort it out.
* Ashes - Still poking around with it for fun.
* Godless (Dessa 5) - Baking in my brain. Characters are talking to me--probably cause they know half of them won't make it out alive.
* Haunted - Nowhere near having time to work on rewrites yet.
* River/Wolfe omnibus - Still on hold. *sigh* It'll get on Kindle eventually.
* For-Pay-Writing-That's-Killing-My-Soul - Two projects down, four to go over the next few months.
* Solomon's Seal - In progress and SO MUCH FUN OMG.
I don't like talking about stuff I might jinx. But screw it. I'm happy so far.
I was writing an unpublished blog post the other day (still in draft mode) and sort of scared myself. If Oblivion is the last in the series I publish, that means as of January...I won't have ANYTHING new scheduled to come out--no new Skyla Dawn Cameron books.
I haven't been in that place for years now. Even when I delayed stuff by years, at least I knew it would come eventually. I have tons of other finished stuff, but nothing I want to shop around for various reasons. So...square one, baby.
Enter Solomon's Seal.
I'm having a blast.
Want a random teaser? Read below, under the cut. Not giving any context, as I think it speaks for itself.
Hey there chickadees. Haven't blogged in nearly two weeks, so...
Yep. Still alive! Whee! Will hopefully have something of substance to blog about eventually. Coupla notes.
April 1 marks the anniversary of the Evil League of Evil Writers. We're (by which I mean Dina, with me posting it) bringing you a fabulous new interview and giveaway that we're really excited about. It involves a new patron saint of the ELEW. Check in on Monday for more!
Wish I could tell you. I've been doing this for-pay writing gig for a bit now and I'm starting to see the fruits of my labour. Um...
I have other stuff--urban fantasy--I want to write. Really. I want to get started on Oblivion (DoB 5). I do. But...guys, I'm looking at for-pay-writing numbers and... *shakes head*
*blinks at numbers AGAIN*
Oblivion will be written, once I get some of this stuff off my plate. When I've started it and have an estimated date for completion and release, I'll probably have some things I want to blog about...regarding the series. #5 will probably be the last after all (my boss insists I say "for now").
I loves my UF, but a bitch has gots to get paid.
Dog feels well, which makes it even harder to keep her quiet. *sigh* Rabbit is hitting the vet as soon as I get my paychque, as I figure they might want to remove the growth right away and I want a chunk of cash to have it done at once.
THANK YOU to everyone who has wished my furbabies well. I loves ya for it.
Links & Things...
My good friend J.A. Saare talks plainly about how continuing a series depends on sales. She was worried about posting this--admittedly I encouraged her. I think a lot of readers assume books will just keep coming in a series, but for those of us trying to make a living at this, it all depends on how things sell.
Think it doesn't happen? Meet Kelly Meding, author of the Dreg City series (among others, all of which you should check out). Talented writers with good books have had series cancelled, and as I cautioned before, not even contracts are a guarantee of things continuing. This is a shaky business.
It sucks sometimes.
I really think the reader's "job" (you know what I mean) is just to buy and read books they're interested in, and lurk away, never telling a soul. That's it--that's their part in the publishing ecosystem and anything else is icing on top. But because it's a shaky business...if you love any series at all, try to show the love. Like the writer on FB. Review the books. Ask your local library to stock copies. Tell your friends. Don't pirate them, FFS. Don't do this to stroke an author's ego, but because every small thing heightens the chance that there will be more books for you to read. Midlist and especially small press/e-authors are almost always in limbo with books, unsure of what will happen--while writing is an art, publishing is a business, and what we choose to put out there has to generate income. Readers can make a difference.
In happy news, my friend Sarah-Jane Lehoux has a new novella coming out soon and got the cover art. I read this story just after she wrote it. It blew me away and I'm so glad she found a publisher for it. It's extremely well written, timely, heartbreaking, and just all together brilliant. Believe me, I'll be pimping it when it's live.
In other random news, the next Nancy Drew game will soon be up for preorder. Okay, shut up. I loved the books as a kid, I love the games, and I'm more excited about this than my next book release, okay?
There is other stuff, but I'm tired and I HAVE TO finish this damn writing project (2.5K to go!). Anything new with you, chickadees?
Did you know Amish women in Ontario walk an average of 14K steps a day, according to one study?
To put in perspective, most people who work desk jobs walk like 3K - 4K.
While I'm not immediately running away to become an Amish ninja yet (this is my dream...and if you don't follow me on Twitter to know this, it's best if I don't get into explaining it), the fact is I sit too much.
I sit all day. I sit down with breakfast. I sit to work the day job. I sit to do extra stuff like edit. I sit to write. I sit when I relax with video games. I sit while having my other meals.
Yes, I get up and run. Yes, I take the dog for a walk. But that doesn't change the fact that I spend most of my day sitting, which the human body wasn't really designed for.
I've hit the climax for the book and it's just taken a sharp left turn and I haven't a bloody clue what I'm doing anymore. Zara revealed her endgame and it slapped me upside the head, Nate is just refusing to behave the way I want him too, and I am still not sure how I'm going to get to the epilogue without everyone dying horribly.
It's utterly terrifying.
Exhumed is either going to be amazingly awesome or a big, hot, unfixable mess. (Note: I am not fishing for compliments or reassurances. Irrational worry is part of my process and I plan for it with every book.)
Brilliance or suckage, but nothing in between. I'm determined nothing about this is going to be meh or blah or "just okay"--either it'll totally suck or totally rock.
Hopefully I'll know which during the second draft.
And while this has always been my end of book theme...
...my "I'm depressed so I'm going to watch Disney videos to make me more depressed, apparently" kick lately made this squeeze in.
See? Yeah, I don't even. Oh HAI bipolar book!
I probably won't blog for a few days while I'm off and being moody. May you and yours have a wonderful holiday. I'd like to have Exhumed done this week so I can start January by finishing IDW (finally), so I'll drop by and mention it's finally DONE and OMG I HATE IT and RELIEF and BLAH BLAH.
Lineage finished with 28K written in November. Godless started with 14K. Then midway through the month, I switched to Exhumed and wrote 50K--19K of which was done in the final three days.
There will be a blog post, probably at the ELEW, about it at some point. About writing through pain, about being stupid and stubborn, about how I am utterly insane and, kids, you should NOT try this at home. But for now, I fall over DED.
Exhumed is well past the halfway mark. I am, by now, in the thick of things, emotionally drained and crying half the time, positive this book'll get me hate mail. This isn't a funny book. This isn't wild explosions and car chases and flashy guns--yes, all of those things are in there, and there is some humor (one of the current fave lines: "I wonder what my cleaning lady would think of the BDSM dungeon I was turning my bedroom into"). Plus three sex scenes in the first 40K--I both giveth and taketh away. But it's all the background to a much harder story.
So sharpen the pitchforks, chickadees. I'll be hiding next year when this one releases.
1. Finish Lineage. I had 20K or so to go as of Nov 1.
2. Simultaneously write a book for NaNo, 5th and final on in this unpublished series.
I finished Lineage last Friday (and I wrote most of that 20K in three days, 7400 words on Friday OMFG but thank you Write or Die Desktop), which was much easier than trying to juggle two of them at once. And I want to switch over to Godless, but...
I really don't have a fucking clue what will happen.
I always was a pantser but I've moved towards...I don't want to say "plotter", but stories have a definite shape in my head ahead of time now and I know roughly the arcs, the big moments, etc. Every other book in that series, I've known beforehand, and now this final book--the big one--is where I have to tie everything together, and I haven't a motherfucking clue about anything, even directly ahead of me.
I think all the ingredients are there, they just need time to shape and bake a little longer in my head.
Plus...someone is talking to me again.
I'm doing some initial revisions on Lineage at the moment and it might be easier for me to just stay in that world rather than switch to Godless, especially with Zara yammering in my head. So...
Yeah. We're over halfway through November and I'm changing my major, Mom! Exhumed it is.
I wrote the first 3K words last night and I'll switch over my NaNo details later today. Fine, Zara. You win. Let's get in some trouble.
Favourite non-spoilerish line from last night's writing:
“You do NOT approach Zara Lain, attempt to procure her services as a killer-for-hire, and then punk out on your end of things. And continuing the conversation in this direction will, at best, result in me leaving here without having a business arrangement with you, and, at worst, result me in sending your head back in a box to your boss for insulting me."
Also! Royalties the other day. Yay! Thank you for buying my books. It looks like, however, that 80% of sales are through third party ebook sellers...which means most of you haven't read Thrall (Mundania exclusive Bloodlines ebook and paperback) and probably won't read Sunrise (Mundania exclusive Lineage ebook and paperback). So...I have to shift gears because I do write the books with all those extra stories in mind. Y'all are gonna be in for a HUGE surprise come Exhumed... *cackles*
Yes, yes, there are more books, and now I have to write two for the series a year through 2014.
It all started when book five (Oblivion) at last began to crystallize in my head. Writers probably know what I mean when I say a book has to simmer in the brain for awhile as we do things that don't look like writing--jogging/walking, doing the dishes, staring blankly out the window--so the story can shape. Sort of like working with dough. The ingredients are there but they're a bit of a mess, mushed together, and even if you've tried to shape it, you don't really know how big it will be, if it'll collapse when it's cooked, what the consistency will be, etc. I'd always been a big fuzzy on Oblivion except that I knew it was The Book Wherein I Deliver On Plot Threads Introduced Earlier and it initially did a lot of simmering when I was hacking and slashing on my old Xbox years ago.
Then I realized how it was going to end.
And more books took shape.
So I did what anyone would do...I pitched them to the boss man. He accepted. I'll answer some FAQs below.Read more