by Camela Thompson
Today I met with J.H. Coates for his vlog/podcast (check out his channel on Youtube), and our conversation had my brain whirring long after we disconnected our video chat. In reading the synopsis for my book, he noticed my main character in All the Pretty Bones challenged the traditional role of female victim from the start. Olivia decides to hunt her stalker. He wondered if that was difficult for me because it flies in the face of some deeply ingrained cultural norms.
What an excellent question!
All the Pretty Bones was Olivia's first step into an evolution that (Spoiler) later leads her into a life as an apex predator. I desperately wanted to challenge the typical set up of normal, plain, boring girl meets wonderful vampire who sees something special in her despite her overwhelming normalness. Trust me, I've enjoyed those books, but I wanted something different. I wanted someone who had greatness locked inside of her, waiting for the right trigger into evolution. I wanted someone who had strength despite physical instability.
For those of you who haven't read the book, Olivia faces ten years of persistent trauma by her stalker only to be diagnosed with terminal cancer. With nothing to lose, she decides to hunt her hunter. My primary challenge centered around her illness. There are dramatic physical limitations that accompany her condition, which presented giant issues that stood in the way. I couldn't Rocky my way through the book. She couldn't train herself into peak physical condition and chase down her tormentor. How can she fight when she can barely function? How can she run away and avoid being cornered? Weakness, fatigue, and debilitating headaches are just the tip of the ice burg as many of us have unfortunately seen.
Asking for help is hard, but it's not a sign of weakness. Olivia does ask for help, and she asks it of a man. The majority of reviewers appreciate how its navigated, but not all. It was a very difficult balancing act. I didn't want her to depend on someone else, but I needed to approach the scenario realistically (I laughed at myself a little just then because VAMPIRES....but even fiction has to have some semblance of logic). In the end, she's forced to face her nature--on her own--before she's ever given the opportunity to tap into her power.
It was difficult to challenge the traditional definition of victimized women, but it wasn't at all for the reason I thought.
We are seeing more examples of strong female warriors in television, and this is a good thing. However, there is still a very long way to go. My friend and I decided to watch Tarzan together despite our reservations over the inevitable questionable messaging (she wrote a wonderful blog post on it here). While Jane showed intelligence, fortitude, and bravery, she was still the damsel in distress, relying on her husband to rescue not only her but all of Africa (big eye roll). In a bizarre twist, her spirit revved her captor's engines. Even her fortitude was sexualized.
Right about now my family would be rolling their eyes, but look at how women warriors are depicted in video games, comics, television shows, and movies. One day I will sit down a costume designer and explain to them why it isn't practical to run around in three inch heels with long hair flowing free and only leather panties and bra when fighting bad guys. If you doubt me, here's what a search for "woman warrior" turned up in PIxabay:
The search for "man warrior:"
Can we agree the clothing ratio is a little higher on the second search?
To be fair, there are some wonderful exceptions to the typical depiction of the woman warrior. Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, Jessica Jones, Crimson Peak, Pan's Labyrinth, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo are just a few that come to mind. There are male writers who write women well such as Joe Hill, John Green, Stephen King, and George R.R. Martin. Their secret? Writing women as three-dimensional characters who have motivations, needs, and an arc.
As an author, I view it as my responsibility to continue to challenge myself to overcome social tropes in my own writing. I haven't always succeeded, but I'm aware, and I'll keep trying. I encourage others to do the same.
Have you seen good examples of women warriors in mainstream media? Please share examples. I'm always looking for my next book, television show, and movie.
Because it is the season for holiday cheer, I am sharing information on a bunch of other giveaways, a grand prize, and a chance to win an original signed sketch of Sean Howard from All the Pretty Bones. Even Santa would be impressed by all of the gift giving to be had in this post!
As you may have seen on this blog or in Facebook author take overs, I like to draw my characters by hand. I would like to give you the opportunity to win a signed original sketch of Sean Howard from All the Pretty Bones.
For the original signed drawing of Sean Howard, enter here:
Haven't met Sean Howard yet? All the Pretty Bones is on sale for only $0.99 through the evening of 12/18! Click here to check it out on Amazon.
There is a giant giveaway going on right now! Authors, publishers, and book bloggers have signed up to give their readers free stuff. Click here or on the banner at the top of this post to get a list and links to all of the participants.
In addition to the individual giveaways, there is a grand prize you can enter here:
Thank you for stopping by my website today! There are some great prizes out there, so be sure to share them with your friends. Good luck!
by Camela Thompson
A book that is predominately a thriller with paranormal content and elements of romance has a target demographic of women in their mid-20's to late-40's. When I heard that my 90-year-old grandfather was going to read my book, I'll be honest: I was worried. He doesn't like movies or television shows that are violent or have sexual content. He doesn't even tolerate strong language. How could he possibly like a thriller with vampires and sex? When my mom called me with updates, I would yell "make him skip chapters 46 and 47!" I could just picture him getting to that part of my book and throwing it down in disgust.
He kept reading. He read ALL of the book. And he actually liked it.
Photo on the right was taken by Cecillia B Photography - we won't talk about how many years lapsed between them
I'll never forget the first time I saw him after he finished my book. He picked it up and started quoting his favorite lines. I nearly fell over.
I'm not delusional. I know a lot of this has to do with him being proud of the accomplishment rather than actual enjoyment of the content. Except... this is the same man who wanted to know why I didn't get an A if I came home with an A-. If he didn't like it, he'd still be proud of me. But I would know about it.
When I asked if my grandfather would like to beta read for book two, he signed up. Getting the first third of the book back was exciting. Grandpa is a grammar ninja and has a knack for remembering the rules that escape me. What impacted me even more was that he was willing to support me as a writer.
In an author chat, a person posed the question: "Who would you want to read your book?" Some people chose a famous author, but many listed family members who were either unwilling or unable to read their book. I feel so lucky to have a grandfather who is willing to wade into the paranormal to support his granddaughter's writing.
Do you have a book related moment you shared with family members that strengthened your bond?
by Camela Thompson
When I knew my first book was nearing its publication date, I made a decision to host a party to celebrate publishing a book rather than a traditional reading. A very small part of my motivation might have been my reluctance to talk to book stores about my first book without the ability to offer numerous reviews, but I could have gotten around that by doing the reading at a bar or coffee shop. I wanted to celebrate the achievement with my friends. For me, it was about the book, but the focus was on the accomplishment. The result was a great time, but I did learn a few lessons.
My favorite picture with my wonderful editor (and talented author) Patricia D. Eddy and the hilarious
Booktrope author of Zues is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure, Michael G Munz
Scope Out the Location Before Hosting
We rented a room at a restaurant sight unseen. It turned out pretty well, but I didn't realize it wasn't wheel chair accessible until fifteen minutes before go time. The room was long and narrow and it made it a little difficult to walk around and socialize, but it worked out.
Order Lots of Books
I had forty people scheduled to attend, and we had about that many people pass through the event. Twenty books was not enough and I sold out quickly. It's a great problem to have, but there were a few more sales that could have been had if there were more books on hand. It was also a good thing my husband and I went into this expecting to spend way more than we could possibly generate in sales.
An Open Tab Means Less or No Profit
We decided to host the party at a restaurant that is known for catering to people with allergies. They specialize in Italian food and we decided to order primarily pizza, salads, and sides. We went into it knowing that we would spend far more than we would make, but we wanted a party.
If you want to make a profit, hold your launch in a bar or coffee shop and do not open a tab. The tab will get you more attendees - which is good! - but it will eat into your profit margin until there is none.
Bring Migraine Meds
Bring all the medications, actually. Publishing a book is very stressful even if it is exciting, and stress can trigger health issues. There's also Murphy's Law to consider. If you bring your medications, you probably won't need them.
Next time I will host a traditional reading, but I have zero regrets about this party. It was a tremendously good time and it was so great to see my friends. The amount of support everyone offered was amazing and I left feeling inspired to keep going. It was a truly wonderful experience.
Have you attended or hosted a launch party? What did you like or not like about the event?
My first time seeing the books made it a little more real.
by Camela Thompson
When I first started writing, I never really considered getting published. It was a distant possibility, as far away as the stars in the sky. I didn't think of the odds stacked up against me. If I had, I wouldn't have been able to write. It's too discouraging. The minute you tell people you want to be a writer, they are really eager to share how hard it is to be published. It's tremendously encouraging <- that was sarcasm (Seriously - it's like going to a baby shower and listening to every woman in the room recount their most horrifying birthing ordeals in front of the terrified new mom). In order to keep writing, I let ideas turn into scenes. Characters demanded to go through their trials. Stories haunted me until I sat down and started typing.
All the Pretty Bones is not the first book I have written, but it was the first time I had this feeling that I was on to something. People would ask me what it was about and lean forward when I gave a quick two to three line description. Their reaction made me think, "Wow. Other people might want to read this!" When it was finished, I shared it with my beta readers (special thanks to Z.D. Gladstone, Stephanie, and Christy for their tremendous insight). Once the major issues they raised were addressed, I decided to pitch at a writing conference I was already scheduled to attend.
I am a very analytical person who loves to be prepared. Deciding anything on a whim, particularly pitching a novel, is very stressful. In the week leading up to the conference, I crammed by researching agent posted recommendations for pitches and queries (Writers Digest has a fabulous list of successful query letters posted by agents). There were so many things to learn! It was the first time looking at my book as a product instead of this organic thing that shot forth from my brain. By the time I sat in front of an editor, I had convinced myself that I was as prepared as possible, but my odds were low. After stumbling across agent after agent expressing their vampire fatigue, my odds became downright improbable.
Imagine my surprise when my first meeting went well.
I met with an editor representative of Booktrope, a small publishing company based in Seattle. She was kind and easy to talk to. I'm sure she could sense my nerves, but with her encouraging smile, it was easy to jump straight into my pitch. When she leaned forward and started asking questions with a grin on her face, I had hope. When she said, "This is very marketable and I really hope we hear from you," I almost did cartwheels on the way out the door. I was so excited I was shaking and I don't think I slept for four days (that actually turned out to be an issue with hyperthyroidism, but it all worked out). I still had to get through a sample chapter review, and then my manuscript was submitted to a team of readers to give me a thumbs up or down. For some reason, I had a really good feeling - and it ended in a contract.
What I have learned about the publishing process and author expectations pre- and post-publication could fill several blog posts, and there is still so much to learn! It has been an amazing experience, and Booktrope has been fabulous.
Writers get beat up on the road to being published. I don't think I'm the only author out there that came out on the other side with a deficit in confidence, and I had it pretty easy. I've seen the pain that comes with rejected queries and pitches that end badly. Please keep trying. The difference between a successful author and a retired writer is perseverance. Good luck, and keep writing.
See what people are saying about All the Pretty Bones on Amazon.
Note: This is a fictional interview between fictional characters.
By Mary Atalia of The Seattle Globe
I knew this would be an interview that would be difficult to pull off. Mark Porter is a private individual, but with all of the accusations swirling around lately, he felt obligated to come forward and clear his name. He was hesitant to meet at all, so I agreed to his location. We met at a bar in the Central District.
Mary Atalia: Thank you for meeting with me. I realize you don’t typically talk to reporters.
Mark Porter: There have been so many rumors running rampant that I felt I owed it to myself to clear the air.
MA: Which rumors are you referring to?
MP: That I’m stalking Olivia, of course.
MA: Are you?
MP: Of course not. We’ve been in a relationship for ten years.
MA: Then why did she file a restraining order?
MP: Someone put her up to that. And it’s no longer valid. She didn’t renew it.
MA: But it’s not like someone can file on her behalf. She entered the paperwork.
Interviewer’s Note: At this point in the interview, Mark dug through one of his pockets, making the gentlemen at the table next to us a little nervous. They only relaxed when they saw him push a rumpled piece of paper across the table.
MA: What’s this?
MP: It’s one of her love notes.
MA: This looks a lot like a grocery list.
MP: Over half of those ingredients are my favorite foods. And do you see how she crosses the t’s?
Interviewer’s Note: Let the record show that the handwriting is pretty standard.
MA: Were you recently in prison?
MP: Not exactly.
MA: How is that possible?
MP: I don’t like your attitude.
MA: I apologize. Let me rephrase the question. Did you serve time for committing a crime?
MA: Would you like to expand on that at all?
MP: Not really.
MA: Could you expand on it?
MP: I did what I had to do.
MA: Did the man you beat attack you?
MA: How did he provoke you?
MP: He didn’t. I was considering my options when it occurred to me that I could get out of the army by getting into a physical altercation serious enough to warrant a discharge.
MA: His injuries were so extensive he has had to relearn how to walk and perform simple motor functions.
MP: And that is regrettable. But the army is no longer transferring me to Georgia.
MA: Was it worth it?
MP: Certainly. My Olivia - I see her all the time. That’s priceless.
MA: So you don’t dispute that you committed the crime.
MP: I already served time for it, so I don’t see the point.
MA: You said that you and Olivia have been together for 10 years. Have you ever been on a date?
MP: Of course!
MA: Where did you go?
MP: Just last weekend we went to the gym and the book store.
MA: Did you get coffee or a meal?
MP: She got a juice at the gym.
MA: Did you get a juice with her?
MP: I was busy.
MA: Were you in the gym?
MP: No, at the time I was in the car.
MA: Did you ever go in the gym?
MP: Of course.
MP: I don’t like your tone. What would your husband say about your questions?
MA: He would probably say that I’m doing my job.
MP: He must not provide very well.
MA: I want to work.
MP: I doubt that.
MA: Olivia is very good at her job. She works.
MP: That’s different. We aren’t married yet. Once we’re married, she’ll give up her job.
MA: Gee, look at the time. Didn’t you say you had somewhere to be?
MP: Yes, I’m meeting Olivia in five minutes. She’s cooking dinner.
Interviewer’s Note: I love my job, but I’m not paid enough for this.
Excerpt from All the Pretty Bones by Camela Thompson
Sean was standing in his kitchen making a stack of nachos to rival the eight-layer cake he demolished in college on a dare. He was lucky Tammy let him hit the gym as much as he did. With his appetite, he was going to turn into a fat bastard the day he stopped working out. He smiled as he dumped a can of olive slices over the top, his big hands dwarfing the little container. Tammy had taken the kids to her mom's place for the day, so he'd not only worked out, but was looking forward to nearly five hours watching football.
He winced when his cell phone buzzed in his pocket and prayed that it wasn't Tammy letting him know she was on her way home with a sick kid. He loved his family, but his job as a homicide detective didn't give him enough downtime. A Sunday off rotation paired with uninterrupted, unfiltered access to the television was the Holy Grail.
He frowned at the 253 area code without caller ID and shrugged before answering the phone. "This is Sean Howard."
"Hi, Sean. How's the family?"
Sean would recognize that voice anywhere, even with the static crashing across the line like waves battering the shore. "Olivia? I didn't recognize the number. Man, you need to switch providers. That is one helluva connection." He strained against the phone, hoping her voice would come through clearer. It was a little husky and still sexy as hell.
"Yeah, I changed the number recently."
Sean shut his eyes, struggling to push the image of her face out of his mind before responding. "The kids are good. Growing all the time. Tammy is pregnant with our third."
"Congratulations! That's great, Sean." She sounded sincere, which was surprising considering they broke up because she didn't want to settle down or mess with kids of her own.
"Yeah, thanks. Kids are such a joy. It's really the best thing I've done with my life." Shit. He shouldn't have put it like that. He didn't want her to think he was rubbing her nose in an ancient fight. "How're you doing?"
"Oh, fine." She sighed into the phone before she blurted, "Sean, I kind of need a favor."
He hadn't heard from her in four years, but Sean was loyal to a fault. "Sure. What's up?"
"Do you know of any discreet suppliers of self-defense equipment?"
Sean let the air fill with static as his cop instincts screamed. The words "discreet" and "self-defense" were an infamous combination and usually led to his specialty: homicide. And usually it was the woman trying to protect herself who ended up dead. "What do you need exactly?"
A surge of heat burst along Sean's spine and flared out, warming his chest. He suddenly knew what was plaguing Olivia, and he stood gripping the countertop until the wood creaked. He fought the urge to find her and protect her. "Is that bastard still bothering you?"
More About Sean
Sean Howard is a homicide detective for the Seattle Police Department. Suspects underestimate his intelligence because of his brute size, but he has an uncanny ability to find a weak link in a story and capitalize on it during interviews. Despite his intimidating physique, he is a family man and a good father to his two sons. Some cases are harder than others, but he does his best to leave work at the door. Time with his boys helps ground him.
Prior to settling down with Tammy, Sean was in an intense relationship with Olivia Kardos. It took months to get over her, and if he's honest with himself, she's the one who got away. Sean wants to make the right decisions for his family, but this phone call is just the first in a series of events that drag him into a struggle between being a good husband and saving the woman he loved with a frightening intensity.
The first two chapters of All the Pretty Bones are being sent to my mailing list tonight!
by Camela Thompson
In addition to diversifying the content on this blog and introducing more personal elements, I have decided to change the schedule a little bit. Instead of posts on Monday and Thursday, I have decided to post topics on Monday and Wednesday and do a character study on Friday. I hope you enjoy getting to know my characters a little better - although with this first introduction, I'm not sure "enjoy" is the right word. Mark Porter is Olivia's Stalker in All the Pretty Bones.
"Mark didn't like feeling the darkness when he was close to his girl. He forced a deep breath in and willed his body to relax against the telephone pole as he looked up to her window. Olivia was exquisite when she cried, and the bastard had made him miss it. She was mopping at her eyes. A grow rumbled in his chest. It was ending too soon. She got her despair in check and turned away from him.
She was always beautiful, but she was radiant when her broken shards came to the surface. It made him want to do things to her—make her beg and grovel at his feet, shower his body with tears. He knew she wanted him. Olivia was afraid of the power they would unleash as their bodies met. That was why she resisted him. She was always so reserved and proper. A female of worth: that was what drove him on after ten long years of waiting for the right moment. He nearly roared into the night, tormented by the fact that he had never so much as stroked her body. He needed to claim her. She was his.
Before she ducked out of his sight, Olivia paused and walked back to stare out the window. Mark was certain the light was too bright in her kitchen for her to see into the darkness, but he could swear her amber eyes sought his own. He could almost feel her skin shiver as she rubbed her arms and pulled the blinds down over her disturbed expression. The spinning in his chest slowed and he smiled up to her. She always sensed him—somehow knew he was near.
She belonged with him."
There are reasons Mark is the way he is, but those reasons don't take away from the fact that he is frightening. When someone's reasoning doesn't fit into the normal realms of logic, predictability goes out the window. He is muscular and mentally unstable, but take away the darkness he carries with him and you would have a normal looking man. When I picture Mark, I picture someone who would go unnoticed were it not for the feeling that something about him is "off."
What do you think about Mark so far? Would you like to meet additional characters?
Subscribe to my mailing list for the first two chapters of All the Pretty Bones! Interested in reviewing All the Pretty Bones or participating in a blog tour? Click on the banner to sign up.
by Camela Thompson
I have been posting a lot about vampires, and I have to confess that I've hit critical mass. Vampire Fest 2014 seemed like a good idea at the time, but that's not all there is to my book or myself. Don't get me wrong. I have enjoyed blogging about the legends and even scribbling out a couple poorly drawn cartoons. I've covered some of the classics, many of my favorites, and a few of my pet peeves, but I've been ignoring several issues that I feel passionate about and are featured in my writing.
All the Pretty Bones is about a woman who has been stalked for a decade before learning she has terminal cancer. Years of living a restricted life, hiding in secure buildings to avoid injury or worse, have taken their toll. The diagnosis is the last straw: she decides to kill her stalker. While she is preparing for a confrontation, women are being murdered and they all look strikingly like Olivia. The primary homicide detective on the case is also her ex, and finds himself struggling between being a good father and saving the woman who broke his heart.
A character study of Olivia Kardos from All the Pretty Bones
Where do the vampires come in?
Writing is an interesting process. My original idea was nothing like the end result. This is scary to admit, but it's the truth. No matter how much I map things out, they can take a turn for the better and lead to revisions. Reading an article on a local news website got me thinking about my own experience with a stalker and I wondered what would push someone to make a really drastic decision. As I sat down and wrote, things changed. I love reading paranormal books, and that influence came out in my writing. Murders started taking on mysterious qualities and characters had inhuman traits. The incorporation of mythology into the story was an organic part of the process. But if I'm really honest, there was a big reason why I was excited about the incorporation of vampires.
Vampires live forever, heal from most injuries, and are powerful. They also are immune to disease. No matter how sick or damaged, if there is a vampire in the picture, there is always a chance at healing. Sure, I'm ignoring all of the death and danger that comes with the monster, but the prospect of strength and health is seductive.
Why do I like vampires?
The reason why I like watching and reading about vampires is simple. I have systemic lupus. Without going into too many details, let's just say I was never picked first for team sports and I know my way around the doctor's office.
I'm not telling you this so you feel bad or to make things awkward. It was important for me to share why I needed my character to have a chance. I work really hard at eating right, exercising, and making lifestyle decisions that help me lead a pretty normal life. But. It would be nice for there to be a cure that simultaneously makes you stronger and faster. I'd give up sunlight for that, although I'm not sold on draining people.
Things are going to get real.
I've decided to open up more about the inspirations for the book and talk about topics central to the story. We're going to talk about stalkers, illness, vampires, and more. It will be tough, but it will be rewarding. Are you up for the tough topics?
Please feel free to leave your comments! I welcome any feedback.
Do you love paranormal thrillers? Do you like reading about vampires, murder, and mystery? Would you like to participate in a book launch? If you answered yes to these questions, I would love to hear from you!
We are scheduling a tour for All The Pretty Bones. The tour runs from October 16 to November 16. We are looking to schedule book reviews, author interviews, character interviews, promo posts, book excerpt posts and guest posts (we have .pdf copies of the book for reviewers). If you would like to participate, please click on the image above or here to sign up.
Title: All The Pretty Bones
Author: Camela Thompson
Genre: Paranormal Thriller
After ten years of living in the shadow of her stalker, a diagnosis of terminal cancer pushes Olivia Kardos to take matters into her own hands. Her final days will not be spent isolated from the world nor hiding like a hunted animal. It’s time for Mark Porter to die. Going against a trained killer alone would be foolish, but the handsome arms dealer who offers to help her has a dark secret of his own.
Homicide Detective Sean Howard has tried to push his ex out of his mind, but his next case brings her crashing back into his life. A woman is found exsanguinated and brutally stabbed in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood and she could be Olivia’s doppelganger. As more women are murdered and the similarities grow, Sean can’t shake the feeling that Olivia is next.
In a world where demons and vampires lurk just beneath the surface, what you don’t know can kill you.
Freelance writer and Dark urban fantasy author featuring vampires with bite.