If you read Wolfe, you know there are a lot of loose ends. This is because I never saw either book as being remotely about plot--both are purely about the main character's arc. And I realize this bugged some people. But I did, ultimately, see where things were headed (her "destiny" as is alluded to repeatedly in both books), and figured I'd wrap this up in an anthology of shorts.
I called it Changed, for some obvious reasons and some not-so-obvious reasons.
(This paragraph is for River/Wolfe readers) The set up of the antho had one main, present day story, divided into multiple parts. In between were short stories from different character POVs in different points of time. I'd written two already: "Rebellion" was from Daryl's POV and took place the night he bit River, while "Doe, A Deer" followed Jewel Doe about two weeks prior to the start of Wolfe (if you've read it, you know what her condition was by the end of it and might guess what the story was about). Other shorts involved Kia and Noah from Wolfe, Danielle from Wolfe (as a possible love interest for Charlie), Gray and Rick Nacy from years before the start of River, as well as one short that followed the young hunter River runs into towards the end of Wolfe. I also wrote the opening for the main, present set storyline and plotted out where it was all going.
I'm putting the rest of this behind a cut because a) I'm posting an excerpt from Changed and there may be people who might not want to read it, and b) I'm tying this to a larger issue that you can probably guess about by looking at the tags for this entry. But if you do keep reading, please know that I deeply appreciate it. Read more
All has been quiet as I've been juggling work with that sanity-thing I'm working on as well as making progress on the WIPs. Instant messengers turned off (save for with two coworkers), Facebook is languishing, and I've just popped onto Twitter now and then because I rather like the...I guess forgiving nature of it, as I can pop on, say one thing quickly, and don't feel obligated to reply. We've had absolutely insane storms which I kinda love because I hate the sun, though that's led to some power outages.
I played hooky and gave myself a three day weekend: went to the movies Friday, ran some errands Saturday then had mum over for homemade pizza and beer, then today I spent some time with a video game and did some major work on the WIPs. Tomorrow morning email answering will battle the need to clean my apartment at the top of my to-do list. I'm still not certain who will win.
It's absolutely glorious to be actually writing regularly again. I adore the tactile feeling of my hands on the keyboard and the sound of keys clicking (I'm a nerd, yes). And then watching words appear out of nothing on the screen, then going back and thinking, "Wow, I wrote that?" is addicting. I can't say I enjoyed the months "off" because writing is like breathing to me, but sometimes a couple needs time apart to appreciate one another. I've mixed my metaphors there, but the muse is so happy to see me that she doesn't even care.
And she's helping me juggle two WIPs at the moment, so yeah, she must love and forgive me. I've committed to catching up with Children of the Apocalypse by posting two chapters a month until the end of Part Three's run in November. These are typically 5K-8K chapters, so that's...a lot of writing.
And equally important is Abandoned's sequel, Wounded. The first 24K has been sent to the beta reader, and I'm currently nearly 28K. And I love this book. It's a little rougher than Abandoned because it can take awhile, I find, to discover the balance in the sequel so that it complements the first without me comparing it to the first.
It occurred to me tonight that when I complete CotA 3 and Wounded in a few months (cross your fingers), I'll have finished my sixteenth and seventeenth novel respectively. I finished my very first novel in 2001 (end of high school), so this will make seventeen books in nine years. That's a little much to wrap my brain around, actually.
I found a lovely cover of my unofficial theme song for Wounded, and thought I'd pass it along.
Back in May, I wrote about why I do my job and how one of my first acquisitions really changed the way I look at what I do. Today, the author mentioned in that post is visiting. She graciously agreed to answer some questions and at the end of this post, I'll be giving away a prize!
1. In case people haven't read your other interviews, please tell us what Thief is about, either in writing or in a badly drawn stick-figure comic.
(Click to enlarge.)
This is why I’m not an artist.
(Skyla's Note: Sevy saying "I'm feeling stabby!" might be my favourite thing ever.)
2. I remember when this book first came across my virtual slush desk, I fell in love with the heroine Sevy immediately. She's not traditionally likable, however. Did you ever worry readers wouldn't connect with a self-described bitch like her?
To quote my dad, “Why does Sevy have to be so mean all the time?” I knew that there was a chance that some readers wouldn’t be able to look past all the awful things she does to see the lonely, wounded soul on the inside, which is why I felt it important to include the character of Revik. Even if people don’t connect with Sevy, I think they’ll be able to with Revik. He’s kind, charming, adventurous…a more traditional type of hero. And it doesn’t surprise me in the least that I’m hearing that he’s becoming a favourite among readers.
3. I love hearing about the music my favourite writers think of as their book's "theme song" or what they have on their unofficial soundtracks. What music do you play with Thief? What theme songs do you have for Sevy or the other characters?
I listened to a lot of depressing, alt rock while I was writing Thief. It helped me get into Sevy’s frame of mind. As for theme songs, I have a few:
#1 Crush by Garbage
Bonnie and Clyde II by Martina Sorbara
Creep by Radiohead
Full of Grace by Sarah McLaughlin
Demolition Lovers by My Chemical Romance
Empty by The Cranberries
You’re Beautiful by James Blunt
Who Knew by Pink
4. We both have a love of zombies and making zombie survival plans. Now I'm curious: what would Sevy's zombie survival plans include?
Sevy would be awesome in a zombie outbreak! Girl could use a good stress reliever, and what could be better than slashing through countless undead? I could see Sevy holing up in the Bloody Heart, getting hammered on Vipin’s piss poor ale until she needed to go out to get supplies. And then watch out, zombies! Eventually, I’m sure Revik would come for her and she’d go with him back to the Ullydrans where the zombie count would be lower and the chances of living a semi-normal life would improve. She could earn her keep by keeping the mountains zombie-free.
5. Eloria, where most of Thief takes place, is a very clear setting. Dark, urban, dangerous, where gangs rule and people--like Sevy--often slip through the cracks. How important do you feel setting is in fiction? Did you draw inspiration from real places for the settings in Thief?
Creating a realistic setting is just as important as creating realistic characters. A person’s environment is the driving force behind a lot of their decisions. Would Sevy have behaved the way she did if she had grown up in the quaint fishing village of her childhood? I doubt it. She would have still been a brat, but she never would have sunk to the level of depravity that she does thanks to her time spent on the streets of Eloria.
When I picture Eloria in my mind, I see an amalgam of 18th century Europe and the modern day slums of Rio de Janeiro. I wanted to create a setting where people were poor, uneducated, and had to resort to some pretty awful things in order to survive. Morality doesn’t really come into play when you are always at risk of being robbed, murdered, or starving or freezing to death. I wanted Sevy to feel isolated and vulnerable because I think that does a lot to explain why she becomes so obsessed with the first person to show her a bit of compassion.
I remember one of the members of my writing group speaking about Eloria, and asked me if there was anything good about the city. I’m sure there is, but because the story is told from Sevy’s point of view, readers don’t really get to see that side of it.
6. What has influenced your writing the most? Any particular books or movies?
I’ve always enjoyed books/movies with darker, depressing themes, most bordering on the macabre. I also enjoy stories which feature antiheros. Perfectly perfect people don’t appeal to me. I like stories that blur the lines between good and evil, and that really make you think about moral relativism. Growing up, I enjoyed reading the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, and Anne Rice, and I think that these early influences can still be seen in my writing.
But what I think has influenced my writing the most is my university education in anthropology. Not only does it help me with world building, but it also provides me with a wealth of new ideas that helped me to move away from the traditional Lord of the Rings type of fantasy.
Which is cool, because I’m glad that considering I’m working in a field completely unrelated to anthropology (I’m a vet tech), it’s nice that my degree was good for something other than racking up massive amounts of student loans.
7. What's one piece of writing advice you heard before you were published that hasn't been true for you at all? Conversely, what advice turned out to be accurate and helpful?
I read that the only way to get published was to get an agent. Perhaps that would have been the case if I had wanted to get accepted by big publishing houses, but I was able to find a great publisher on my own. Now that’s not to say that I wouldn’t like to land an agent one day, but I found out that there is more than one way to accomplish my goals.
The advice that turned out to be the most helpful was an article I read about the importance of creating a website even if you didn’t have a single thing published. It helps to build your online presence (creating a brand like Skyla has blogged about) and to show prospective publishers/agents that you are professional and capable of attracting an audience.
8. So what question should I have asked you? And what would you have answered?
Hmmm, how about “If Thief were ever made into a movie, who would you want to play Sevy?”
Well, as it happens, there is this cool new site I was invited to join where users can create their ideal cast for their favourite books. You can check out my cast here
9. Finally, you love cats. I love cats. My readers--since they are awesome attractive people--also love cats. Please find the most ZOMG adorable picture you have of one of your cats and I'll post it.
Behold the cuteness!
(Skyla's note: Sarah-Jane sent me two photos and told me to pick one. But...HOW CAN YOU PICK JUST ONE?? So I give you both because I'm awesome like that.)
Thank you very much for dropping by, Sarah-Jane!
Thanks for having me!
Now for the prize!
Want to win a paperback copy of Thief? I'll do a random draw Wednesday at noon. Ish. I might sleep in...but it'll likely be Wednesday, July 7, noon-ish EST. The more things you do, the more times you'll be added to the draw.
* Tell me in the comments why you want to win Thief. 1
* Retweet this post on Twitter. 1
* Post a link to this page on Facebook. 1
* Ask Sarah-Jane a question in the comments here. 2
* Post a cat picture in the comments. 3
* Blog about Sarah-Jane and Thief. 3
* Share with us your zombie survival plan in the comments. 3
Have you already bought Thief in eBook or paperback from Mundania Press? By golly, I think I might love you. If that's the case, either forward me your receipt (skyladawncameron[at]gmail[dot]com) or send me the name/email address you purchased it with so I can double check the order. You'll get your name tossed in the proverbial hat ten more times...and if you win, you can pick any book out of the Mundania store (or the coming soon page--in that case, you'll get it when it's out) as your paperback prize.
Okay, da rules: limited to US and Canada. I know, I know, that sucks, but paperback shipping can get costly. BUT if you're outside that area and want to participate anyways, I'll totally love you for it. Also, for retweeting and blogging, either leave links in the comments or email them to the email address in the paragraph above. And it's really helpful if you leave your name/email address when you comment so I know how to contact the winner. Don't want to win a prize? That's cool too--RT, facebook, blog, and comment just to show your support, if you like. :-)
Well, I’m settling back into work and am nearly caught up. Redid the schedule (kept it mostly the same, but cleaned everything up), am double checking all edit statuses, and other really boring sounding stuff. I have a whack of email to answer all over the place, and I might tackle that tonight before writing time.
The swirling black hole of depression has been creeping up, mostly because—I believe—I feel so disconnected sometimes. I know three people in town, one of whom is my mother, and it’s kinda hard to get out and “do” stuff outside of the apartment when I don’t actually have any hobbies or things I want to do. I don’t even really dig shopping. Woe is me. But then this time, I didn’t really bother with the CBT...I think sometimes it’s good to be kinda depressed. To leap into the abyss and float for awhile. It’s useful. And I know I have resources available to me to pull myself out again—like CBT and strawberry daiquiris—so it’s a little less scary and feels just a little less permanent.
I will have some book related news to share with you perhaps in a few weeks. Or perhaps not. BUT I’m doing some other writing which is awesome, even if the words suck and there aren’t many of them. Baby steps, bunnies. Baby steps.
Also, today is my grandpa’s birthday. He’s 96 and lives on his own still. I think that’s pretty awesome.
* Sarah-Jane Lehoux in the newspaper! Go SJ! BTW, Ms. Lehoux is visiting the blog tomorrow and there will be interview questions, cat pictures, and ZOMG PRIZES! So drop by tomorrow for more.
* Horror author Owl Goingback isn’t allowed on Facebook without showing proof of his identity because they think his real name (First Nations) is fake. I think Facebook fucking sucks. Here’s the group.
* Of course there have been lots of awesome Lili Saintcrow posts in my absence. I’m still catching up. Most recently, on how we need our alone time as writers. I always worry, though, that I have TOO much alone time and I’m too disconnected. But the people in my head are just so much preferable to real ones...
* via Lili, a post on sick systems (part one, part two, and part three that really spoke to me. The author’s blog might be hard to read because the articles were so popular, she exceeded her bandwidth for images. BUT...highly worth the read.
Okay, so yeah, I write a column here called How Not To Be a Douche Bag Author 101. And I participated in the second #queryfail (renamed #queryday). And I regale people with tales about diva authors, psycho writers who harass me, and the general frustrations of working this job. I mean, let's face it--all that stuff is wildly entertaining if you're not the subject of those discussions.
I seem cranky and frustrated 99% of the time, always threatening to run away from home and join the circus, and frequently tweeting about the staff mood being red for homicidal.
So why do this job? Not just me, but all of the publishing staff out there? Because let me tell you, a whole lot of the time, people would love to close up shop and go home. It's certainly not the pay and we don't get any health benefits.
Now I'd like to introduce you to Sarah-Jane Lehoux and a book called Thief...Read more
With all the life spring cleaning I've been doing lately, I've been paying close attention to things that cause me a lot of anxiety...and also noticing some patterns emerge. In particular, surrounding permission.
I've only had three sessions with my nutritionist so far, and one of the things I'm working on is giving myself permission before every meal to a) eat, and b) eat as much as I want. There are a variety of reasons for this, but they all come back to learning to become a competent eater.
But this permission concept has been popping up a lot lately for me--enough so that I've taken notice and really thought about it. A few months ago I was upset about some plans going awry, and in complaining to a friend about why it had me freaking out so badly, I explained certain issues and then said, "And now I'm going to have to explain to all these people why I won't fly." And she said simply, "No, you don't. That's no one's business but yours. You say you don't want to fly; that's all they need to know."
Similarly, a few months ago I made the choice to no longer participate in something, and I was stressing about having to explain the plethora of reasons for my decision (some of which weren't going to win me popularity points). Same friend reminded me that no, I didn't have to. Saying "no" is enough.
Intellectually, I know these things. I know I have choice. I know I have options. I know obligations are a pressure I put on myself and I *can* say no.
So why is it so difficult sometimes?
You know, I'm not sure. But I do know that right now, I need to give myself permission for things. To eat the foods I want to eat and--equally important--not eat the foods I don't want to eat. (I'm a notoriously picky eater and it causes me a lot of anxiety to feel pressured to eat things outside of my comfort zones.) Permission not justify or explain myself to people when it isn't actually important for them to know something that's only relevant to me.
And I'm carrying it into writing as well. I've written next to nothing since February and I was beating myself up about it. I wanted X done in a month, Y well underway, Z chapters written and posted for readers. But being under that pressure wasn't helping me--it was sucking the joy out of everything I was doing.
So I have permission to never publish another word if I don't want to. I have permission to take as much time as I need to recharge my batteries. I'm not obligated to share my work with friends who don't enjoy or appreciate it. And while I don't like that CotA readers have no new chapter on the horizons for yet another month, feeling bad about it wasn't getting those chapters written either, so I have permission to relax and take a break.
In short, I have permission to be happy, and if I'm not, I can actively make choices that *will* make me happy. Sometimes taking the pressure off myself opens things up (in fact, once I tell myself I don't have to eat something I don't want to eat, I'm more willing to try it). Sometimes not. But here's me having the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
Well, it's been a busy month. I wasn't around for a chunk of it--physically, as in I wasn't home and away from my PC, and mentally/emotionally as in I retreated from everything.
Yesterday I watched Amelie. It would likely surprise no one that it's one of my favourite movies, however it probably would surprise people to know that of all the movie characters that ever were, I probably identify with her the most. Not that I do good deeds for people (eww, no--I'm evil), but her inability to relate to others and build relationships. My social circles consist of people who are friends with each other, and then there's me, off to the side, stuck in her own head and not really a part of things.
Which is probably why I'm okay with uprooting my life and moving in a few months to a place where waitresses stare at me funny when I request a meal that doesn't include meat. I'm going to be a distant hermit no matter where I go.
And you know, I don't really have a point in saying this; it was just on my mind and I've been silent for weeks, so I thought I'd ponder it 'aloud' on the blog. I feel Amelie-ish a lot of the time. Only with less awesome hair and sans the cute, quirky guy to borderline stalk.
* Facebook has changed their "Become a Fan of" button to "Like." So while initially I kind of ignored my FB page and never really invited anyone (as the number of invites I get to things often drives me batty) because I didn't want to force them to be a "fan" of me...now I'm kinda insulted that more of my friends' list doesn't "like" me. Is it because I'm distant and Amelie-ish? http://www.facebook.com/pages/Skyla-Dawn-Cameron/9912704791
This story did have a somewhat happy ending, which has gone to show that it IS possible for authors to reach the people illegally uploading their work and, in some cases, nip this problem in the bud. (Of course, a few months ago Jaime also spoke to one Sarah Sandford from Australia--specifically, from the Wangaratta area, I believe--who had requested illegal copies of her work...Sarah assured Jaime she wouldn't do it again, and then just last week tried to steal one of my books. She had no excuses or apologies for ME when I asked about it.)
Stuff I Tangentially Contributed To:
* Well, I acquired and edited the book, so...that's where my contribution begins and ends in this case. But I love the book so much that I want you to purchase it and love it too, so behold Sarah-Jane's fabulous trailer for Thief!
Stuff I In No Way Contributed To But Dig:
* Lili Saintcrow talks about how she's not the enemy in ebook pricing (and how neither is her publisher). Besides the fact that her post is AWESOME and very right, something interesting comes up in the comments that I think about a lot.
Sometimes it seems, as writers, that we can't say anything without readers perceiving us as insulting them. What I don't think people understand is that...you haven't seen an author's inbox. Most people wouldn't BELIEVE some of the stuff "fans" say to writers. I'm a nobody, and I get everything from backhanded compliments to hatemail. Saying "Please don't complain to me about something out of my control" isn't being disrespectful to readers; it's a request for respect and a showing of transparency about the business.
(Tangent: I'm also sympathetic because in my job I *constantly* get yelled at for Shit Out of My Control. And then I explain how and why it's out of my control and *still* get yelled at.)
* In a similar vein, Jaime pondered how to respond to negative reader letters. (My opinion? If it's angry/insulting/provoking, I don't answer it. Sometimes I try, but if an email ticks me off, it gets starred for a later reply and then I tend to forget about it. Moral of the story: expressing your displeasure with a book is fine, but try to be nice if you're writing to an author personally. We are actually people.)
I was out of town for nearly half of April, and when I got back after the last time, I got really, really antisocial. I barely spoke to anyone last week and spent work time doing work on my own rather than answer emails. I also suffered from NO enthusiasm/motivation to do anything at all.
And I hate that. I hate not feeling like myself, like someone else has taken over. Not that I'm particularly a social butterfly on a good day, but I barely tweeted all last week.
I finally snapped out of it, and I think a big part of that has been dragging my ass out at night to jog. I've given myself permission to go back to baby steps and build up my lungs again (I'm asthmatic, therefore jogging can be problematic at times), but the endorphins have brightened my days a lot. I'm back to enjoying making home cooked meals rather than see them as a chore (this week: focaccia AND I made the most amazing Greek roasted potatoes).
The one thing that hasn't changed is the writing black hole I've been in for months. Part of it was burnout after writing Abandoned in Jan/Feb, but the other part...I don't know. I don't usually go this long without writing; I've spent the past nine years working myself into the habit of writing nearly every day and I'm NOT one to sit around and wait for the muse (I chase her down and beat her with a stick). I got out 1500 words on Wounded the other day, but that's been it.
And so I continue to wait for the batteries to recharge while I work on other things. I'm moving in a few months closer to my mum where rent and groceries are cheaper, so I'm trying to prepare my brain for my LEAST favourite thing ever: apartment hunting and moving.
Take care, kids--I'll be back this weekend with links a plenty to totally awesome stuff.
I had another week from hell. And it *really* sucks to not be able to explain why--I'm such a loudmouth and it's killing me to only be able to bitch privately. Le sigh.
I gave my mum the book I just wrote (YA paranormal called Abandoned) to read 'cause I was really proud of it (a month later and I DON'T want to burn it). She just finished it and said it made her cry at the end. This is good because my mother never cries with books and occasionally jokes that she has no feelings. So yeah, that's probably the best thing a writer can hear--we love to make people cry. Er, yes, we're a little twisted. So?
I'm spending Valentine's Day with Alistair from Dragon Age. He hasn't bought me chocolate or anything, but I'm sure I can get him to put out one of these days... I've also decided that the only reliable men exist in fiction, so if you have a y chromosome, tread very carefully around me right now...
* Slush Pile Survival Workshop - A fellow editor and I are giving this workshop locally in two weeks and it's going to be loads of fun. There are still spots available, so if you're in the Durham Region, sign up!
* Kevin Smith was kicked off of an airplane for being too fat. Kate Harding has more over at Shapely Prose.
* Bitch Magazine posted their explanation of why it's not anti-feminist to use "douche bag" as an insult. And I love it--that's what I've been saying for ages.
* Clients from Hell - Designers post snippets of discussions with some horrible clients. It's funny 'cause it's true.
* Last year on the blog, I wrote about former TV crushes as an excuse to post pictures of hawt men. Once again, fictional boys FTW!
* I'm blonde again. It's easier to keep up than the red. This time it's dark blonde with light streaks (I have no pictures of the light streaks, though). Of course, I'm using a black and white pic 'cause all my faveevilladies on Twitter have classy b/w pictures.