Back in August, I featured Simone Salmon and her book release, Camille and the Bears of Beisa: Drafnel on the blog. As promised, I am posting a review of the paranormal fantasy novel. (About time, I know. It’s been a hectic few months.)
Camille is an incredibly relatable character. Within a few paragraphs, I felt like I knew her personally, and I understood her motivations throughout the book. Although I can’t say I agreed with them all. She’s educated, modern, and I could picture happy hour with her would be a riot. She’s a young woman, who has an off and on again lover (what are the kids calling that these days?) but isn’t necessarily interested in committing full time right now as she has other things going on.
She finds herself drawn to a strange man she glimpses as she is moving into a new apartment with a few friends. Weird, disturbing things begin to happen, forcing her to contact her Grandmother and eventually make choices about herself, her family, and her future.
But is she really making these choices? Or is she following a pre-destined path carved out for her by her ancestors and her progeny?
Salmon is able to seamlessly weave modern day Brooklyn, 20th Century Jamaica, and the fictional, futuristic Narvinia into a fascinating time-leaping read. Camille’s grandmother’s story was so engrossing that I almost wanted her to be the heroine of the story.
In Camille, there is Caribbean folklore, shapeshifters, and multiple villains to hate. I found the book unpredictable, clever, and well-executed. Most of all, I loved that Salmon doesn’t pull any punches with what she puts her characters through, and she doesn’t talk down to the reader, either. You know you’re reading an epic fantasy. Her word choice is crisp and the voices are distinct. As I mentioned in the feature, the book has several urban settings, a matriarchal society, and a female protagonist of African descent, which I’d love to see more of.
I am pleased to have urban fantasy and horror author Amy Braun as a guest poster on the blog today. Amy was kind enough to share what she’s learned as a new author this year. Read on for some great info, even if you’ve been in the writing game for a while.
The Things a Writer Can Learn in Six Months
by Amy Braun
When 2015 started, I decided to take the leap: I would publish a full length novel by myself. I was proud of my standalone novella, Needfire, which served as a way for me to test the waters of the independent world. But of course, the next step was harder.
I didn’t go to school for writing. I don’t have any mind of independent business. Marketing and press boggle my mind. I thought I was going to gain readers and a following by continuing my method of trying my hand at short story submissions. I’ve had some great successes that way– my stories being favored by readers and even winning an Editors award for my macabre short story “Dark Intentions And Blood” in the AMOK! Anthology– but it wasn’t enough. My muse got a little greedy, and I wanted more.
Path of the Horseman became more than a standalone novel to me when I wrote it in 2014’s NaNoWriMo. I knew the moment I finished it that I wanted to share it with as many readers as I could. I took a risk with an emerging cover artist, worked with an editor I trusted, and chose to release it with a major distribution/publishing company that has helped thousands of independent authors get their work out to the world.
Needless, to say, when the release date came, I was both excited and nervous as Hell. I was given a guide about how to go about promoting my book. I learned that nothing was free, patience is an agonizing virtue, and you still have to hunt for acknowledgement.
Despite all that, I gained more positive feedback than I could have imagined, and not just from my family. People I’ll probably never meet praised my book and left reviews that humbled and honored me. I know that you can’t please everyone, and sooner or later I’ll get a negative review that will leave me doubting, but to know the risk would be rewarded brought me a joy that’s hard to describe.
So I took another risk, and released a novel that’s beyond precious to me. Demon’s Daughter, the first in my Cursed series, has been with me for years. Like Path of the Horseman, I know I’ve done something special with it and have received great feedback on it. But this series is my proverbial baby. I’m watching two of my most beloved characters– Constance and Dro– take their first steps into the literary world. I don’t know how they’ll do, and it’s a little worrying to hear what readers will think about a story I’ve poured my soul into.
That being said, I wanted to give Demon’s Daughter the release it deserved. That meant paying extra to work with a fabulous cover design company and go through the trials of printing and proofing physical copies, and learning the joys of proper book formatting. Oh, did I say joys? I meant agonies. I’m not kidding when I say the hardest part of printing paper books for me was getting the damn formatting to line up. I ordered at least two copies of each book, none of which were free. And don’t even get me started on headers and footers. So I learned the hard way to look at each book with excruciating detail before approving said proof. And if you’re going to print with Createspace, have a CMYK version of your cover available so your book cover isn’t filled with sharp, angry colors fighting to share space on the paper.
Most recently, I learned the value of media kits and submitting queries for reviews. I’m still waiting on some of them, but looking back I should have sent out requests for reviews before I started publishing. That being said, I have a couple reviewers lined up who are generally excited about reading my work and have a significant following that will hopefully trickle over to me. I didn’t choose this career for the money, but it’s not easy working for free.
These are lessons I wish I had known earlier, but I’m new to the writing world. I’m learning from my mistakes, and I know I will be better for it when my next release– the sequel to Demon’s Daughter– comes out in December. Like I said, I don’t do this for the money. While my dream is to walk into my favorite bookstore and see my book on the shelves (or even better, see someone reading that book and surprising the hell out of them by explaining that I wrote it), I would be perfectly happy writing independently for the rest of my life.
The year is barely half over, and I know more lessons, good and bad, are on the way. But the most important thing I’ve learned so far is to keep going. I’ve had days where I’ve been frustrated, days where I’ve been lazy, and days where I couldn’t find motivation to write at all (AKA the worst days ever). But when I have those days, I look up at my desk and see the two printed books resting against the wall. I think about the entire process it took to create them, and how endlessly satisfying it is to see them there, knowing I can do it again. Writing a book is a long, sometimes torturous process. But the end result, no matter how you look at it?
Amy Braun is the author of the urban fantasy novels, Path of the Horseman and Demon’s Daughter. She’s been published in anthologies by publishers such as April Moon Books, Ragnarok Publishing, Mocha Memoirs Press, and Breaking Fate Publishing. To find out more about Amy, go to her blog literarybraun. Or you can find her elsewhere online at: