Today, please pull up a chair and have some vodka, chickadees. We’re welcoming my dear friend and colleague Seleste deLaney for a chat—and giveaway!—celebrating her new release, Kiss of Death.Read more
Today marks the release of a fantastic novella called My Sanctuary.
A lonely girl who dreams of an impossible future. A sullen boy with a troubled past. Together, with a stained glass angel, they form a bond that shelters them from the cruel indifference of life in a church-run orphanage in the 1950s. When a “secret game” leads to the unthinkable, a choice must be made that no mother, real or imagined should ever have to face.
A child can’t choose its mother, but maybe a mother can choose her child.
My Sanctuary is the story of Dot, a young teen growing up in a Catholic orphanage in the fifties. It isn’t a nice place to be, but there are bright spots in her life, from her crush on her school teacher Mr. Martin to taking care a fellow orphan named Kenny who she has dubbed her “baby.” Beyond that, though, Dot finds what we all need sometimes: a sanctuary, somewhere to go where a stained-glass angel smiles down on her and she can escape the everyday brutality she faces from other kids and the adults responsible for them.
Dot’s voice is distinct, authentic, and engaging; she draws the reader in with her first words. Among Ms. Lehoux’s great skills as a storyteller is her ability to peel back the layers of Dot’s world and shine a light on the horrors occurring while never leaving the perspective of a young girl. Without spoiling the story by giving details, I can say all it takes is one phrase to answer the question of why Dot is there or what happened to Kenny’s real mother, making the reader’s stomach bottom out and realize what has occurred. Though the themes the novella touches on are decidedly adult, My Sanctuary never feels like an adult is telling a child’s tale. No, Dot could be any fourteen-year-old, so real that as I listened to her tell her story, I wanted to wrap my arms around her and assure her everything would be okay.
Of course, the sad thing is that’s rarely true. Though set over fifty years ago, My Sanctuary is very much relevant today. Children suffer abuse and grow up too soon. Women have their bodily autonomy stripped away. People hide behind religion while committing horrible acts.
And everyone still needs a sanctuary.
Ms. Lehoux doesn’t merely depict darkness in this story but confronts it, unflinching and unwavering. At all times she remains true to her characters and the tale she set out to tell. Much like the angel in the sanctuary, the storyteller’s steadfast gaze never leaves Dot in her time of need when a weaker person would look away in fear. Through Ms Lehoux, the reader remains with Dot as well—even long after the story has ended.
Gut-wrenching, timely, brave, and nothing short of brilliant, My Sanctuary is a powerful read about the bonds of found family and the struggle to find refuge when we’re at our most vulnerable. I absolutely urge everyone to read it. Well done, Ms. Lehoux. Well done.
His name is Rodney Ballsgalore and I'm cat-sitting while he gets his needles, then he's off to Mum's. When he gets snipped, he'll be Rodney Ballsnomore.
I'm totally going to use this in a book some time.
As I'm gearing up for Lineage's release next week, there's an interview with me up at Troll in the Corner: http://trollitc.com/2012/02/interview-with-skyla-dawn-cameron-author/ I talk a bit about my take on vampirism, my process, weapons, and other random things that occurred to me while I was still buzzed after my galley review at the pub last week.
Also, TIME SENSITIVE: There is an Exhumed excerpt available right here. This is from Zara's next narrated book. This was a Valentine's Day treat, involves Nate in a towel, and will be deleted probably tomorrow or Friday. So read soon 'cause it won't be seen again until the book's release in July (unless I cut it). It stands alone well and isn't spoilery (because I cut out the major spoiler bits).
I'm still a week behind on everything that's not an emergency (emergency = someone bleeding from the head). Bear with me.
Today I have guest author Frances Pauli for her Fairies in February Blog Tour.
I worked with Frances on her AMAZING Changeling Race Trilogy and the third book has just been released. I had a few questions with her and please join me for her answers below.
Last year you told us about how so many things led you to create the world of your Changeling Race Trilogy. We know its beginnings.
Now I’m going to ask you a bit about the ending and about process, as finishing a series is the one thing I’ve yet to do. *cough*
There is an...undeniable level of confidence in the writing of the third book. The pacing, as I’ve told you, is spot on, and the threads laid out since the first book all come together. Did you know from the start of A Moth in Darkness how it would all end? Did certain characters or events surprise you along the way?
I knew a great deal about the primary plot arc of the trilogy before I started actually writing on Moth in Darkness. Despite that, so much happened along the way that I never saw coming. When I began the series I had the main conflicts worked out. I knew about the elves and the Sidhe and how that history would come to light, and I knew the ending scenes for the first two books, where the breaks in the story would happen. I never expected a lot of the character arcs, however. In fact, I never expected a lot of the characters period. Old Mary was originally a one scene character. Now, she may be my very favorite. Sed never existed when the books began. Daimon was a minor influence. I’m thrilled that these people demanded more attention, more screen time. I think they fleshed out a bare bones idea into a living, breathing story.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Does this change the deeper you get into a series? (For example, I often start a first book with no idea of where it’s going, but after the second in the series, I get a clearer picture.)
I began as a pantser who did a great deal of plotting in her head. I liked to think I was fun and spontaneous, but in truth, a lot of organization was happening—it just wasn’t happening in formal, outline form. When I wrote my latest novel, Shrouded, a good friend talked me into trying out a system she uses that involves forms. I hate forms. I’ve always claimed they give me hives. I detest forms. But I relented for this particular book, and I was surprised by the result. The novel is thicker, deeper, more complex and also a good twenty thousand words longer than I usually write. Dang it all. So, now I don’t always fully organize, but I do spend a little more time in that preparatory phase than I used to.
Is there anything about yourself or writing you learned/realized during the journey of seeing these three books to publication?
Yes, I realized that I had a lot more to learn than I ever guessed. Because this series started with my very first novel, it really traces my own steps into the craft. While I wrote the books, I was learning about the business, the art of writing, everything. I discovered just how much that entailed, how far I was from where I wanted to be, and how bloody stubborn I could be about getting there.
Having finished a series, looking back is there anything you would’ve done differently?
Yes and no. I wouldn’t have done anything differently with the story. I really am happy with it the way it unfolded. I might have slowed down a little bit myself, breathed, learned a lot more about writing before I started subbing that first book. Even so, I wonder if not diving in head first might have stalled me completely? I know there could be more polished prose starting out, but I also know a lot of authors who polish and polish and polish and never do anything with it. I think, if I had to choose between starting a little rough and never starting, then I’d stick to the path I took. I’m very happy with where it’s put me today.
How about advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t ever stop writing. Also, don’t ever stop subbing. I was told when I started out to “keep writing” so many times. Back then I thought that meant, “don’t give up, keep at it.” No. It means when you finish something and send it off, write something else. Don’t wait. Write another book, and another.
Don’t give up is great advice, sure. But don’t stop creating inventory is even better advice. Write it, fix it up, send it out, write something else. Repeat.
Okay, fun stuff. They’re making a movie of your life. Who would play you, who might be the supporting cast, who would direct, and what would the theme song be?
Oh that is fun. Let’s see. I could be vain and say Madeline Stowe (because I love her) or honest and say Roseanne Bar. Is there someone that’s an equal blend of those two? Supporting cast…I think Ray Ramano could play my husband. He’s pretty much a blond version of Raymond. We could add in some cute, unknown child actors (not mine—no way) an evil mother in law, kooky friends…hmm and Jason Isaacs. (because It’s my damn fantasy) Theme music depends on the day, either Alanis Morisette or Cirque du Soleil. I get to direct. See above note. My movie.
Cat person or dog person? (I think I know the answer to this but am asking anyway.) And why?
I’m a dog person, but let me explain. I always was a cat person until I met my crazy, Peruvian hairless dogs. Okay, that’s only part true. I’ve always owned both, and I love dog shows. I watch them like most people watch the super bowl. Still, cats involve cat boxes and I am old and cranky now. My dogs are cat-like and yet, do their business outside. Short answer? Dog person with latent, cat person tendencies.
Who/what inspires you when you’re really not motivated?
Fear! I am fear motivated. If I don’t write for more than a few days my neurosis begin to invent horror stories about failing careers and forgotten books and stories that never get told because I get hit by a bus before I can write them.
Do you prefer cupcakes or pie?
That most definitely depends on the pie. I don’t love fruit pie, but a cream or nut pie trumps cake any day. I’m particularly susceptible to peanut butter pie.
What’s your zombie survival plan? What character of your creation would you want to help out during the zombie apocalypse? What character of another person’s creation?
Run away! Gather food and big guns…hide. In that order, I suspect. If I get a character from my books on my side, I want Thump the troll with his big shotgun. It worked on the kelpies, after all. Someone else’s character? Initial instinct would say Rambo or the Terminator (because I am a product of the eighties) but after some thinking I would say Todd from the Curt Russell movie, Soldier. I have a very good reason, really. I have kids now, and Zombie invasions are not such a fun idea when you have dependents to protect. Todd kept a whole compound of women and children safe in an all out war. He’s my guy.
What question do you wish I’d asked and what would your answer be?
When is the movie coming out? :) My answer would be a wistful sigh.
Thank you for hosting me, and for the awesome questions!
It's going to be a busy week. Here's the run down since I likely won't be blogging.
* Today I'm at Hanging with Bells for an author Q&A. I adore Bells (and her taste in book boyfriends) and was thrilled to be invited. I talk about the upcoming books in the Bloodlines series, where Zara came from, why I think Nate is swoonworthy, etc. Please drop by and say hi so I'm not so lonely!
* Tomorrow I'm at Melissa My World...in words and pages for a guest post on going from writing assassins to nuns, holding down the fort while she's away. Mostly I talk about my cats. (Speaking of, did you know I have a new kitten? This is why I'm not around much--it's like having a new baby. I need maternity leave.)
* Last night I posted a new chapter of Amends. Zara is also sort of dealing with being a new "mom" and she's talking to a dead man. I'll let you guess who.
* Bloodlines is on Kindlegraph so I can sign it for you.
Below I'll put a review round-up, as I haven't done one since June.
Tomorrow Hunter releases, for better or worse. I'm not so much nervous as filled with dread; I think it's a better book than Bloodlines, but it's also extremely different, so I've worried a lot about what reception it'll receive (even though I keep screaming from the rooftops, "It's NOT like Bloodlines!"). But I've committed to being honest and telling the story as it wants to be told; Hunter is what it is, and while I hope people enjoy it, at the end of the day I'm proud of it regardless. Of course, I also read it four times in two weeks, so I hate the thing and never want to see it again. I'll update the Hunter page tomorrow with some buy links but, once again, recommend you get it from Mundania if you're buying an ebook because it comes with bonus content--this time in the form of a short story called Malice from Zara's POV.
I'll probably take a cue from Jaime and hide for a bit after release, just to clear my head. I'm participating in a multi-author fall blog tour, so I need to get ready for that, and I have a spare room to clean, and a book to edit by next week, and day job stuff to do and and--
Today I have an interview with a fabulous person. But first, if you'll indulge me, I'm going to explain how I first came to know my guest.
Several months ago Mundania acquired the next two books in a successful urban fantasy series. When this was announced, I received an inquiry from a book blogger who took a look at our catalogue and was interested in hearing about new releases. We chatted a bit and I thought she was a total sweetheart.
She mentioned adding my book Bloodlines to her wishlist--I went through my, "Oh no, I'm working on revisions to make it better--don't get it yet!" thing that I did prior to the re-release. The truth, of course, was that I was stalled and grumpy about it (waah waaah, no one cares about the book, why am I doing this, blaaaah blaaah), so I hadn't, erm, actually been working on it for a few months and had already let the originally proposed release date pass.
A month later she emailed saying she still had Bloodlines on her mind and wondered if I knew when the new one would be out. I had to say, sadly, it was still in progress.
Her email sat with me for about a week. I kept thinking, "hey...someone wants to read it...someone other than me." Understand Bloodlines--the old version--had sold well and people seemed to like it, but no one was beating down my door about the revised version and I was busy feeling sorry for myself.
Then I looked at her email again. And I mailed her again, and said I'd have it done within a month and a half.
Um, took more like two months, and then another to get it all released. But I sent her a copy as thanks and I've never forgotten how that simple email really helped me when I needed a kick in the rear end.
When you see me thank one Melissa Hayden time and again in my books...this is why.
She's an amazing advocate for books and supporter of both large and small presses. She's one of the nicest, friendliest people I know, and her VBF (vampire best friend) is MIss Zara Lain herself, so you know she's gotta be awesome.
Please join me in welcoming Melissa of My World...in words and pages.Read more
I've been a bad blogger lately. I have no excuses except that May sucks and I'm trying to finish the current WIP on top of day job stuff. Having a nearly finished manuscript feels a little like having a ghost on your shoulder, pressing on you, never leaving. The only solution is to exorcise the motherfucking thing and kill it DED.
Pass a knife.
In the meantime, some links to Stuff Going on with Me:
* Two weeks ago at the ELEW, The Myth of the Likable Heroine
* Last night at the ELEW, Bipolar Bear (my own tips for writers dealing with mental health problems)
* My interview at Book Blather wherein I talk about writing, reading, and publishing. And also LOST in the comments.
* A lovely 5 Heart review at The Romance Studio of Bloodlines, saying, "Over all the book is great, with wonderful characters, a plot that keeps moving and some real surprises. If you are looking for something that not straightforward and expected this is a great book for you. It is one you'll want to go back to and read over again."
Generally I subscribe to the "don't comment on reviews" policy but I also like to show my appreciation for the people who read and review my work...so thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who took the time to read the book and especially those who have reviewed it. It means a lot to me. (Also, I worked damn hard on revising the book, so it's nice to hear people are enjoying it.)
That's it for today. I have a long post of thank yous to supportive peeps that I have drafted and I'll post it just as soon I can find a way to keep my tough chick cred along with it.
I've been out of the office the past few days (doing mostly Grownup Stuff) so I think I'm working all weekend. Blargh.
BUT I have awesomeness for you today!
You see...I've been working on something in sekrit. Now you can share it too. It's the Evil League of Evil Writers. From the "About" page:
The Evil League of Evil Writers does not support whining, crying, sniveling, whimpering or bawling about writing, publishing or any aspect thereof. If you're looking for a shoulder to cry on or a sympathetic ear about the rejection letter you've gotten from a literary agent, or a bad review of your work on a site you should never have posted it on, you will not find it here. The ELEW strives to foster realism and toughness amongst the writing community.
The ELEW teaches coping skills and eviltry to writers both seasoned and new. Speshul snoflakes [sic] will be mocked, laughed at, and stabbed with sharp objects before being kicked in their butt-hurt rears.