by Camela Thompson
The day is finally here! The third installment of The Hunted has launched. When Lucian finds a video of a comrade’s gruesome death, he fears a mysterious assassin is targeting the Nobil Onorabil. With Olivia’s aid, he hopes to prevent his own death and the Dracal from resurrecting....
I have a contest linked at the bottom, but first let me show off my new cover and give you an excerpt.
Chapter 17 Excerpt - Josette's Flashback
Josette ignored the dirt staining her bare feet and the rips in her skirt. She had finally found happiness and did not want the signs of a desperate situation to kill her mood. On a night that had started with a pregnant silence, everything changed. By chance or driven by some instinct, she had moved inland. Even there, the explosion shook the ground.
Josette had run toward the screams. The smoke made it easy to move in the shadows. The metallic stink of blood egged her on. Lumber fell across soldiers and civilians alike. She drained them until she was blood drunk and tripping over her own feet.
Death was in the air, and joy floated in her chest. She had her fill and then some. Why not? The men were dying with or without her. She moved among their broken bodies like an angel of mercy, releasing them from their pain. Some of them were so burned, their blood was half cooked. She pushed past her aversion and brought them release. Some had even thanked her.
The fire leapt high while she danced around it, laughing at the way her shadow contracted and expanded. The contents of her stomach sloshed like the wine in the bottle she carried. If the humans gawking from the shadows wondered at her boisterous behavior or the stains on her chin, the alcohol could explain away much. Their assumptions were partly correct. She was most certainly drunk, but the wine hadn't done it.
Only a few soldiers wandered into the glow, gaping at her merriment. Toulon had been taken, and the buildings still burned. Ships had fled the harbor with their brothers at arms, but they had been left behind. Some muttered angrily. Others only stared.
The brine in the heavy, cool air was overshadowed by the scent of spent gunpowder. Black smoke pushed through the buildings. The sunrise would burn a blood red, and Josette wondered if the haze would be thick enough to protect her from the light. She stood still considering the possibility when a woman stepped into the glow of the fire.
The woman’s eyes narrowed and she raised a finger. “Foul creature.”
“Excuse me?” Josette flounced her curls.
Josette threw her head back and laughed. “You’re mad!”
“You insult us with your celebrations.” A man stepped from the shadows in a torn uniform. Blood stained the meatiest part of his thigh. He had been wounded.
“I celebrate life. As should you!” Josette tipped back the wine bottle and took a drink. “You survived. Is that not worth celebrating?”
The woman stalked closer. “I know what you are.” Her clothes were unremarkable, but something sharp in her gaze gave Josette pause. This was no madwoman.
“If anyone is a witch, it is you.” Josette stared at the men. One squirmed. Another averted his gaze. She was on to something.
“I know what you are. I know what you’ve been doing.” The woman’s hand shot up, her grip too strong, and tipped Josette’s head from side to side. Her thumb swiped the side of her mouth and she drew back, smelling the dark liquid. “Gunpowder and blood.”
“You mad cow. It’s wine.” She squinted at the smoke pushing skyward. “Gunpowder and wine.”
“You’re a revenant.”
“And you’re an old, mad witch.”
Two of the men crossed themselves. One disappeared. Others fidgeted uncomfortably. The man who worried Josette the most was the lone soldier who leaned against a stack of crates and narrowed his eyes, settling in to watch. She knew the type. A know-it-all who would wait to chime in when the most influence could be pressed upon the others. Intelligence carried a subtle but potent danger.
“Revenant. Succubus. Blood sucker. Demon.” The woman’s face burned orange in the firelight, bringing contrast to the grooves in her skin. “You are a stranger, frolicking on the night of our disaster. You rub our noses in our loss. You feed on pain.”
Josette shuddered. “I’m newer to this town than you are, but I’ve been begging and ignored for weeks. Stranded.” She pushed away the fear, remembering who she was. If she wanted, she could rip them all to pieces. She moved close to the woman and spoke in a soft but urgent tone. “You, on the other hand, are not new here. People have suspected what you are for many years. If you push me, I will remind them.”
The woman narrowed her eyes and lowered her own voice. “You underestimate me.”
“Perhaps.” The scent of blood grew stronger when the wind blew past the soldier leaning against the crates, but it carried a note of something else. Something sharp. “Continue and we shall both learn where you stand.”
Josette knew she had said something wrong when a slow smile spread across the woman’s lips. The smile vanished. She spun and raised her arms while she shouted. “She’s a revenant. Throw her into the fire.”
Absurd. “Well, if I’m a revenant, she’s a witch. Burn her!”
A man stepped away from the crowd, pointing his finger at them. “Burn them both!”
To her dismay, the group of men nodded and made noises of assent. Josette spun on the witch. “See what you’ve done? Fool.”
The woman paled and yelled to the crowd, “I’ll put curses on your families.”
Josette pointed and backed away. “She is obviously the problem.”
A child no older than twelve burst from the shadows and yelled, “Burn them!”
The witch backed up as well, a pained expression on her pale face. Josette wanted to throttle her. “So, witch. Now would be a good time to do something powerful.”
“I don’t know. Burn them? Make a dragon out of the fire? Turn them all into toads?”
The creepy smile reappeared. “How about I make you do the fighting for me?”
“What?” Josette’s feet left the ground. She screamed and kicked her legs as she turned in the air. She was certain the old bitch was going to throw her into the fire. Instead, she flew at the group of men. The force of the impact sent them all sprawling. After untangling herself from a sea of limbs, she stood. The unnatural sight before her sent a shudder down her spine.
The witch blew air from her mouth, only it was not clear. Black smoke issued from her lungs. While the smoke was expelled, the woman aged. Grooves etched in her skin and the color leeched from her hair. The smoke wound around three adults before finding its target. The young boy.
His head fell back and his jaw sprang open as though a hinge had been flipped in the center of his skull. The black smoke sped through his mouth. When the smoke disappeared, the boy turned to survey the crowd with solid, black eyes. Gone were the whites and anything human.
A guttural roar, too low for his small throat to issue, rung Josette’s ears. With limbs and fingers stunted by malnourishment, it seemed unlikely he could inflict much harm. What he lacked in size, he made up for in strength. He launched onto the nearest man, latching to his torso like a monkey. With his legs wrapped around the man’s chest, the boy jabbed both thumbs forward into the adult’s eyes. Unhinged laughter of different pitches issued forth from his mouth, as though many beings expressed their mirth.
Get all three books in The Hunted for $0.99 each for a limited time! I'm also running a contest for a summer reading collection ideal for those of us who love speculative fiction. There's a little bit of Sci-Fi, a little science infused humor, a talking cat, and a lot of paranormal creatures. Enter to win below.
by Camela Thompson
I sat down to write a romance with a heavy dose of comedy. When I riff with friends, I can be funny. I like a smart romance where the heroine is witty and the hero is attracted to the full package (brains, people, her brains). It seemed like a good idea at the time and it would make my mom happy. She didn't envision her daughter as an author, but she heard that research trips are tax deductible. Why not pick somewhere she's always wanted to go? Provence, Tuscany, and Nice all sounded like reasonable options.
I could work with a setting in a new country. Maybe my characters are both bumbling Americans. She's taking a sabbatical after working since high school, through college, and burning out with spectacular flare at her corporate gig. He's taking a few weeks to deal with a death in the family in his own way. It isn't the right time for love, but that seems to be when the magic happens.
Two chapters in, things went horribly wrong. My heroine woke up covered in gore next to her inn keeper's remains with no memory of the events immediately leading up to her black out. Oops. That doesn't make her a very likable prospect, does it? I suppose the hero could be the only person who thinks she may be innocent--lacking the bias against Americans. Then I began cackling and plotting out the twist at the end.
I scrapped the chapter and started over. This time the heroine began to suspect the stranger sharing her flat had Munchausen by proxy and used poison to force her into "quality time at home." This stranger expected our heroine to react with gratitude after being so well taken care of in her sick bed away from home.
After hitting delete, I dug deep and created a lovely scene with a little bit of tension between our main characters. As they moved in close to share that important first kiss, some a**hole pushed a street artist in front of a bus.
My brand of "romance" is the one-sided
At about this time I realized that my streak of humor can be "off putting." Particularly if someone expects a romance and I deliver five dead bodies and a warped heroine that's marginally likable.
My family isn't sure why I write "weird stuff." I'm not either. I joke they made me this way, and a few of them took that retort to heart. At first my mom was convinced I write about grisly murder scenes and paranormal creatures because of an early brush with Satan and/or poor parenting. I've assured her many times that I do not walk the Left Hand Path, nor do I have any inclination. I also do not want to see, smell, or hear about exploded remains. I prefer my violence to be firmly based in fiction and shy from the news.
I get why my friends and coworkers look at me a little sideways after reading my stuff. Truly. I'd love to have lunch with Stephen King, but after poring over some of his work, I picture him as an odd guy. The stuff he writes is so psychologically twisted, it conflicts with people reporting how nice he is. Which is silly because...double standards. Then again, the people who really knew me weren't all that surprised. Well, maybe they were surprised by Olivia's hope chest, but only a little.
I can write paranormal. I can write straight-up suspense or horror or even romantic suspense. But the stories I write are the stories that won't go away unless I write them because something inside of me needs to get out.
I hear erotica is a great way to make money as an author. I'm told I should write more blogs or articles--then try to sell them. I've also heard I should change a book to hit the next big trend, or write more mainstream material to appeal to a wider audience. For now, I'm not sure it's a good idea to force my way into a romance. If the story isn't begging to be told, how can it be as good as the novels clamoring to be written?
Check out how some other authors feel about this topic:
Michael G. Munz
by Camela Thompson
We've all had that friend who shares one of our interests and is totally on the same page. Then they give you a recommendation for a show that they know(!!!) you will love. At first, you want to believe the show is slow starter. Many of my favorites had a shaky pilot episode. Then you're convinced the season will get better after the mid-point. Finally comes the acceptance that your friend has crappy taste, unless you're especially hard core and are willing to hold out hope for additional seasons.
High School of the Dead was recommended to Z.D. Gladstone by a friend who thought it would be perfect for our Geek Girl Con panel: Brainy Anime Babes Who Know More Science Than You Do. It sounded right up my alley (zombies and petty high school drama both entertain me) and a great way to spend a Saturday. We lined up our snacks, made a pre-show schedule (if you don't plan for lunch, it will consist of chips and chocolate), and fired up the XBox One.
A rare picture of Z.D. and I.
No dogs were fed chocolate
(despite Annie's requests).
Within the first five minutes, there were several panty shots and boob jiggles. I immediately voiced my reservations. It wasn't my acquaintance who recommended the anime series. Z.D. Gladstone is a fiercely loyal friend (it's one of my favorite things about her) and assured me that the show would deliver. I was just sensitive to cultural differences. After all, the show's demographic consists of horny teenage boys.
Admittedly, there are a lot of things I don't get about the anime subculture in America. I'm not a fangirl, but I do enjoy the occasional anime series. I expect to be wrong about a lot of things. But look up episode one of the english dubbed version of High School of the Dead on Youtube, watch through to the end of the opening theme song, and tell me that's a "normal" amount of flesh flashing.
I learned a lot of things about anime on Saturday. At episode two, Z.D. maintained her confidence, but mentioned it was strange that the self-proclaimed female brainiac of the group had pink hair--which is typically reserved for sweethearts. *Spoiler.* This girl is not a sweetheart, and often has pointy little fangs because of how catty she is (I'm learning!). By episode three, the cast consisted of a chubby boy with the psychological profile of a school shooter, a brooding hot boy with abusive tendencies, a school doctor nicknamed "Doctor Boobs" (seriously), a badass chick with a kendo, a whiny badass chick with a spear, and the self-proclaimed genius with pink hair. All of them have huge, jiggly boobs (Dr. Boobs even has her own boob theme sounds) and a fondness for hot lingerie. This is when I learned about Harem setups--which take place when the cast is predominantly female (learns stuff!).
I'll point out that zero science had taken place unless you count bouncing shoes off of zombies to determine their only remaining sense is auditory, which the self-professed genius often forgets while screaming at the miscreants around her. On the plus side, there is a ton of ass kicking with minimal to moderate blunders committed by the weaker sex, necessitating masculine rescues despite all indicators pointing to competent badassery on the part of the woman up until said blunder.
Even Annie seemed doubtful.
The highlight of the season is episode six: "In the Dead of the Night." This is when I was reminded communal bathing is very standard in Japan, which wasn't what made me yell at the television. I yelled at the television because during the communal bath, the girls all took turns squeezing their ample breasts to...make sure they were real? Of course two of them got drunk and Dr. Boobs physically assaulted both of the teenage boys, who proceeded to get nose bleeds (which I learned is the signal for boners <--LEARNING). For some reason Saeko decided to cook for everyone wearing an apron and a thong. All of the women wore next to nothing and had sweaty boobs while the boys remained fully clothed. This is about the time I learned that kissing is considered pornographic, but panty shots and nipple are totally cool (WTF? Oh, right. Learning.).
Awesome. Still no science, but I did enjoy the NRA card holding chubby boy fondling his weapons throughout the bathhouse orgy.
The zombies are the classic slow walking, herd mentality mouth breathers. There were a couple of entertaining references, including a cringe worthy Romero joke. People smashed in many heads. I thought about taking up some self defense classes and stock piling water. I checked out the Twitter hashtag #TheInternetNamesAnimals (How did I not know about this sooner???) and picked up some awesome Scottish slang.
There was zero science until the last episode when pink-haired genius spent two minutes (generously calculated) explaining a high altitude nuclear explosion which produced a monster EMP.
If you can flip off the feminist switch, the series is entertaining, but it's structured like just about every zombie movie mashed up with elements from B slasher flicks (boobs and screaming). Considering I only mentally wandered off to the Internet twice and I got to spend time with a good friend, it was a day well spent. However, if I had watched it alone, I wouldn't have made it through the first episode.
Verdict: High School of the Dead has no place on our panel.
by Camela Thompson
It's fairly normal for me to haunt the freebies on Bookbub, particularly Supernatural Suspense. I'm always looking for authors to collaborate with on sales or announcements, and I prefer to preview their work first. Bookbub has a mysterious vetting process I doubt we'll ever unlock, but it's not unheard of to download something that wasn't ready for prime time. One or two such freebies caused me to break my no-negative-review rule and rant a little on Facebook without naming names or titles. One in particular spent chapters on the heroine's absolutely bizarre profession before getting to the story. While the diversion was funny, it was completely unnecessary and I had to grit my teeth to get through the book. What surprised me were the reactions to my rant.
One comment in particular:
"You mean the books you get for free aren't of stellar quality? I'm shocked!"
She wasn't the only one. I've had people say things like this all the time in casual conversation. A quick Google search also reveals research corroborating my observation. Buyers tend to be suspicious when they perceive a deal that's too good.
Authors descended with hackles raised in this particular Facebook example. Many of us are pressured to list books, particularly the first in the series, for free. Even perma-free in the hopes of luring in additional readers. There's solid logic behind the hope that increasing outflow can translate into reviews and recommendations. I get it, but it's also led to some examples of outrageous behavior. Some readers have been so bold as to demand free books. By listing for free or heavy discounts, we set a precedent.
A self-published author is only too well aware of the cost of getting a book out the door. Let's ignore the hours, weeks, and months working on our lovely creation and focus on the bare essentials for a self published book: editing, proof reading, and a professional cover. According to the Editorial Freelancers Association, a fair estimate for editing would be around $0.015/word and proofreading around $0.005/word. This is a very fair rate, and more isn't unreasonable. The standard novel is around 80,000 words, so let's estimate $1,200 for editing and $400 for proof for a total of $1,600. Covers usually run from $500 to $1500, so let's call it $700 for a total of $2,300 spent on professional services. Minimum. You could also pay for layout (recommended if you don't want to learn software like Vellum or InDesign), book tours, email list advertising, additional promotional costs, and someone to assist with PR. If you want to have your book available in paperback, purchase an ISBN and additional software. These things add up quickly, and royalty earnings are pretty meager, particularly for an author who is forced to write part time and can only produce a novel per year.
Hopefully people can see why authors shy away from free books: A desire to see a return in investment.
I prefer not to give away my books for free, but it isn't only because I want to see a return on my investment. I don't have a problem with heavy discounting. Just last week I had my books listed for a knock out $0.99 a piece. What's the difference between that and free? Not a whole lot when you're defaulted to a 35% royalty.
In my experience, when someone pays for a book--even if it's not very much--there's a higher chance that it will be read and reviewed. I know people who download tons of free books only to let them sit on their device while the books that were recommended and purchased are read. Let's not ignore the stigma around free books. There is that odd reflex I mentioned earlier to assume that something heavily discounted or free is worth less. I saw this when selling paintings. Higher price tags moved faster despite aesthetics.
I will continue to read free books and leave reviews when I enjoy them. Yes, I'm still a chicken about that negative stuff. I have listed my first book for free in the past and didn't gain nearly as much traction from that "sale" than when I heavily discounted and was listed in Bookbub. Human nature is an interesting thing, and until someone proves me otherwise, I'll refrain from giving my books away outside of contests and early reviewer copies.
How do you feel about free books as a consumer or an author?
by Camela Thompson
My dog has a funny quirk. Her ingrained hatred for squirrels doesn't make her unusual. She runs around the house barking her head off and charging windows. Plenty of dogs do that. What makes her odd is that she gets so frenzied that she retreats to a dark bathroom and puts herself in a time out. An hour will go by before I open the door and find her napping on the rug. In all of my years in the company of dogs, she is the only one I've met who elects to go into sensory depravation after a good freak out.
My gremlin is weird. It's why it works.
Sometimes emotions run too high and it's best to walk away for a while. After all of the terrible things on the news, I did something similar. I turned off social media as much as possible and hid in my house this weekend. I focused on my book. Creative arts are healing and I often turn to writing or painting when faced with emotional pain. But even an introvert needs a community. The one exception to my shut-in weekend was a meet up with some fellow authors, and it helped remind me that there are some pretty awesome people in this world.
Michael G. Munz and Tiffany Pitts are as hilarious
on paper as they are in person. Respect the lightsabers.
I've said it many times: Writing seems like a solitary activity, but a community is needed for a book to come to life. Other writers know what it's like to spend hundreds of hours on a project only to face criticism and rejection. External critique is bad enough, but many of us fight insecurities about our work that make the worst reviews look tame. I'm lucky enough to have found friends through workshops, classes, meet ups, and a publisher. We encourage one another, share expertise, and whine a bit, but we each have strengths that compliment someone else in the group. Some of us know a little about social media or technology, some of us are good at pitching, and others aren't chickens about talking to people in person. The biggest benefit is the encouragement we give and receive because it can mean the difference between someone giving up and continuing.
Here are a few of the places I've been fortunate enough to meet people in the writing community:
This is a pretty obvious suggestion, but I specifically recommend signing up for interactive sessions. Even if you aren't pitching, sign up for a pitch building workshop and help another author hone their pitch. Volunteer to listen to people's log lines and offer constructive critique. Always bring business cards (there are affordable options online). Exchange them with people in your area who seem like a good fit for your group. Hand out cards to people who write in your genre and start networking.
Community College Classes
Even if you have an MBA, continuing education classes have a lot to offer. While you may know everything about grammar and story structure, there are other topics such as marketing for authors (even traditionally published folks can benefit from this). My favorite class runs through NaNoWriMo and keeps participants motivated to keep up their word count and finish their project. I've met some of my favorite people in community college classes.
Local writers' associations and specialized schools hold workshops that focus on specialized skills. Some authors even offer retreats. Keep an eye out for an opportunity to get away for a weekend and focus on your craft.
A lot of writers participate in Twitter chats, Facebook groups, and other interactive social media platforms. I knew quite a few people online well before I met them in person. Typically I was connected with the writer in some other way (publisher, friend of a friend, etc.), but social media provides a wonderful way to network for those of us who are introverted.
Every time I meet up with another writer for drinks or to talk, I'm reminded how lucky I am. It's amazing how many authors are willing to give their time and share their expertise.
Do you have a writing community? Where did you find your group?
by Camela Thompson
Warning: Spoilers ahead for season 6 of Game of Thrones.
This week I participated in the #10minutenovelists chat on Twitter (Thursdays at 6PM PST). The Q&A sessions revolved around Save the Cat, a well known and respected book explaining successful script structure. Many authors swear by the method for novels, as the concept of hooking and retaining an audience applies to either medium. Every. time. an outlining tool is mentioned to a group of writers, a discussion ensues extolling the benefits of pantsing (spontaneously creating--"by the seat of their pants"), plotting, or a combination of the two. While there are famous writers who have found success pantsing, I'd like to talk about a brilliant example that highlights just how profoundly impactful planning ahead can be.
This example is brought to us by the great George R.R. Martin.
As a reward for getting my books back online and driving the third book in The Hunted closer to production (more on that soon), my husband and I splurged on an HBO Now account and binged on Game of Thrones. With George R.R. Martin you can count on two things. 1. He's going to kill off your favorite characters in spectacular fashion. 2. The man's long game (planning) is stunning. I think he's brilliant and anyone who disagrees can't be my friend.
What separates the amateurs from the masters are the details. Not only does Game of Throne feature a dizzying amount of characters, but each of them is complex. All have backgrounds that shaped them into who they are. Even the worst have at least one feature that makes them more human than monster (even Cersei--she loves her children). But what makes the series great are the intricate themes that have the potential to play out into shocking reveals. Six seasons in, George R.R. Martin blew my mind with a single word.
Let's just pretend it never happened.
We had to pause our series binge because I had to walk away from episode five and process it. So much happened, but that last scene was blatantly traumatic (if you haven't seen it, return to this post after you watch the episode). Bran makes a lot of choices that make me yell at the books/television. He's reluctant to leave his dream states because he's whole again, and that's understandable. What happens to Hodor, though. It was hard to watch.
Bran's consciousness stands in the past while his body is being dragged away from the wights and white walkers. The cave is under attack because of a critical mistake he made. Bran wandered up to the White King without his mentor and was touched, breaking the protective magic of the children of the forest. The people and creatures around him fight for his existence while he stays in a trance. Bran creates a link to Willis, the stable boy who grew up with Ned Stark, giving the boy a window into how he dies. Bran short-circuits Willis' mind, leaving him writhing on the ground, echoing the words screamed at him while he sacrifices his life. "Hold the door." This is how Hodor got his name.
The longer I thought through it, the more convinced I was that this was George R.R. Martin's plan all along. I confirmed my suspicions by watching the extra material. The writers working with George R.R. Martin described the hotel room they sat in while their minds were blown. He planned it all along. He knew how Hodor got his name.
While I slow clap George R.R. Martin's latest grey matter explosion bestowed upon us all, I encourage pantsers to plot at least a little bit. Without knowing where your books are going and some key details along the way, you miss opportunities to plant material that leads to something that yanks the rug out from under your reader. Know where your series is going. Create backstories for your characters, which may even mean spending time on material that's never published. If you plan it just right, a simple word has the potential to twist your readers' hearts and connect them to a character.
Have you watched or read a series that had a masterful reveal? Do you think it's critical to plan ahead?
by Camela Thompson
I love hanging out with authors. Inevitably, someone goes off on a tangent, triggering a round of story telling. We hear about warped childhoods (my favorite), traumatic college capers, and horrific writers' conference pitches. Get us in a group and we'll talk all night. In that spirit, a group of us are participating in a blog hop to tell you about our worst theater experiences. Here's my story.
The 90s were a little bit amazing. Big hair, bright colors, a weird ass phase of feminism, and the resurgence of slasher films. Scream 2 came out in 1997, and I attended with my then boyfriend. My love of the horror-comedy blend started early and we can blame that fascination on my paternal grandmother for introducing me to Friday the 13th at the tender age of six (WHAT THE HELL WAS SHE THINKING?). The Scream franchise had enough sense to make fun of itself, and scenes were intentionally over the top. While my friends were shrieking--and we were teenagers so conjure that horrible noise they make that's closer to pig than human--I laughed. Okay, sometimes I hid, but that was an excuse to pretend I was normal for my boyfriend. Sucker.
Grandma, is that you?
Not much scares me, but when it does, it's something really weird or demon possession. People who aren't afraid of demon possession have a gene missing. As my boyfriend and I sat snuggled up in the theater so I could steal his soda, the movie kicked off with a bunch of college kids attending a movie premiere in a theater much like ours. I tensed when a character stood up and went to the restroom--doom music hinted at a terrible event looming in the near future. I coped by drinking more soda. When crazed muttering emanated from the stall beside our man on a date with destiny, I finished the soda. When he leaned into the stall divider to eavesdrop on the crazed mumbler, I bit my knuckles to keep from shouting a warning. When the knife penetrated the stall divider and his brain, I realized that I had a new phobia of theater bathrooms and I had to pee.
Perhaps if I had downed a medium Sprite, I could have lasted through the movie and the car ride home. Because it was a large Mountain Dew, my heart rate rivaled that of a hamster's and only a slim chance existed that I could last through the end of the movie. On the up side, I lost all sense of fear after another thirty minutes of clenching every muscle below my navel. No amount of doom music could make me pretend to hide behind the boyfriend's shirt. I could only think of Tycho Brahe and his exploded bladder (it's a thing, look it up). My boyfriend kept glancing over at me and asking, "Are you okay?" because I incessantly squirmed in my seat. Reasoning that a psycho had less chance of successfully hiding in a post movie rush, I tried to make it through to the end. I failed.
When the killer was moments away from being discovered, I stood. People hissed at me to get out of the way while I blocked their view of the mask unveiling, tripping over someone's purse and nearly voiding my bladder two seats from the end of the aisle. I scurried down the hallway to the exit, pausing twice to press my knees together and pray. The strain of pushing the door open to the lobby got me so close to wetting myself, I instantly formulated a plan that involved hand soap and those air driers to revive my pants.
If that isn't scary, then you're better adjusted than I am.
Stop congratulating yourself. It's not hard to do.
When I burst into the bathroom, I fought the impulse to run back out into the lobby. The place had been deserted, but I had been too occupied to notice. Convinced that someone loomed in wait sheerly for the pleasure of copycatting a copycat of a copycat killer, I stared at the stalls and tap danced to jog my bladder into submission. When I had nearly convinced myself I could wait until I got home, an intense wave of muscle spasms hit and I shot into the first stall. If I didn't hit TMI levels before, I now confess that I emptied my bladder with my jeans around my ankles, feet pressing the door of the stall closed, and leaning over against the hard tile wall to shrink as far away from the stall divider as possible.
The fact that I stuck around to thoroughly wash my hands is a testament to my germaphobia. I returned to my seat just as the credits hit. Because this was before Marvel trained us into watching all of the credits for a ten second glimpse at a character, my boyfriend rolled his eyes and informed me that I had missed it all.
I didn't care. I could walk to the car with my head held high and not ruin the seat of his mother's car.
To this day, I have no recollection of the movie after that first scene.
Check out some awesome theater stories by Michael G. Munz, Tiffany Pitts, and Elise Stephens.
by Camela Thompson
When my publisher announced they were going out of business, my first response was panic. The fear stemmed from the unknown learning curve I faced, not the rush to find another publishing house. I had been debating whether or not to move over to self-publishing, and the end of Booktrope gave me the nudge I needed. My day job as an analyst involves a lot of focus on planning for the future, but this time I had no idea what to expect.
Patricia D. Eddy is my editor and a life saver. She talked me off the ledge a few times and reassured me by giving me simple next steps. I signed up for a state and city business license, negotiated terms on the creative contract with my team, and then set about deciding what to do with my books. I didn't want to lose momentum I had gained from a sale back in March, but I had no idea what I needed in order to get my books up on the major platforms.
Publish as is or make updates?
Knowing I had a month to get the new versions prepared gave me plenty of time to give the writing in All the Pretty Bones a facelift. I didn't change the storyline or characters, but I changed some of the language. Writing is a lot like playing an instrument or painting. No matter how long you practice and perform, there will always be something that can be learned and improved upon.
All of this work didn't go over well with my assistant.
Layout seemed like a black art to me. I've done graphic design in the past, so cover design doesn't intimidate me as much as interior layout. The thought of learning multiple programs to format for ebook and print seemed daunting. There's also the matter of sales volume. Around 99.9% of my sales volume comes from ebooks. I'd like to make the print version available eventually, but I'm not feeling a lot of pressure to do so in the immediate future.
A self-published friend recommended I forgo publishing for the Nook. After reviewing sales, I decided to move forward with establishing an account with Nook Press and questioned signing up with iBooks. In the end, I signed up for the following:
How the heck do you edit layouts?
Like I mentioned, this started as a complete mystery and fueled my one freak out evening. Which is ridiculous now that I've worked with Vellum. It's awesome. If you have a Mac, I wouldn't recommend anything else. I can format a book in under an hour, which is freaking fantastic.
Like I mentioned, prepping the print version hasn't been a priority, but I'm told I'll need InDesign and a lot of whiskey.
Where does this leave me?
I'm pleased that my books will be offline for a minimal amount of time. My files are uploaded and ready to go. Now I can focus on wrapping up the final proofs for book three and start writing again. It has been strange to not have the chance to write. I can't describe how much I'm looking forward to falling back into a routine.
A lot of my author friends post coffee memes. Tons of coffee memes. I'm from Seattle and thought I could relate, but now I get it. The only times I surfaced this weekend involved an author collaboration meeting (which was awesome) and walks to the coffee stand. I must have looked like one of the mole women emerging into sunlight. Squinting. Because I had no fricken' clue the sun had made an appearance.
My books go offline on June 1st, and I'm not ready. My list is long and missing check marks. My blog posts are going to be very short until I get my books back online. Priorities, right?
When I get frantic, I stare at my screenshot from the Bookbub for All the Pretty Bones. It's a beautiful thing, and I didn't catch the high point. It's not bragging if it's a coping mechanism. Just kidding. It's a brag. I'm proud of my book, and I'm not giving up.
Until my books are ready, my weekends and evenings are booked. When this is over, I'm binging on HBO.
by Camela Thompson
As I mentioned last week, my publisher is going out of business. It's a struggle to adapt to the changes the marketplace has faced in the last several years. I know other authors will be or already have been in my position. There are a lot of options for us after we are given back our rights. I'm not sure there is a single correct path. The only wrong answer is to give up.
Before you begin the quest for your book's next life, review your contract for any ongoing obligations and determine when/how creative rights are returned. A contract lawyer can help walk you through the details and draw up any necessary paperwork. In my case, my hybrid publisher used a creative contract and split royalties to compensate team members over five years. If the author or publisher wanted out of the agreement, the author inherited responsibility for compensating team members for the duration of the agreement. This means teams can attempt to agree to a flat rate, a new publisher can pay off the team members, or the author can continue royalty distribution (the author can form a business that allows 1099 contract work for royalties or find a similar publisher that is willing to carry the torch).
Which Publishing Model Next?
Moving from one publisher to another isn't simple, especially when your sights are on a large traditional publisher. If you have a book that has hundreds of reviews, consistent sales, and can boast about impressive social media stats; you're in great shape. In fact, interested parties probably emailed you when official news of the publisher going belly up hit the wire. If you have multiple books with mediocre or even good stats, it's going to be more difficult. If you're just starting out, you may need to accept that what one publisher deemed acceptable may not appeal to another. It may take a different twist in your genre or another year of writing experience and a new book.
Fortunately, our creative rights are being returned promptly. Many of the Booktrope authors had previous experience with self-publishing. Some publishers with similar models stepped forward and offered to take complete teams (and distribute royalties) for approved books. Others are taking time to send query letters, pitch in person, and evaluate next steps. A few have decided to throw in the towel. Hopefully temporarily.
What Did I Decide?
Self-publishing makes sense to me. I'm accustomed to operating in a business environment, and I believe I have the maturity to stay motivated and on task. My one worry is my ability to market (it's not my strong suit!), but this is something I'll have to learn anywhere. I've got my business licenses, negotiated rates, have a marketing plan for relaunch, and am ready to dig in to learn what there is to know about ISBN options and layout programs. I used to do graphic design and I'll get there. Self-publishers who are dedicated to producing a high-quality product blend in with the traditional market. I'm determined to meet a high bar.
I've been warned that I'm shooting myself in the foot and traditional publishers will shy away from me. This may be true. But it might not. The market is changing. If I work hard, I'll build momentum. I'll keep learning, work at a rate that's sustainable with a day job, and ask for help when I need it. What's important is that I know I can't give up.
Resilience is the key to survival. When faced with major change, you alone have the power to choose whether to give up or keep fighting.
Freelance writer and Dark urban fantasy author featuring vampires with bite.