Today we have a guest post from Skyla Dawn Cameron, author of oh, a bajillion different books. 🙂 I’m delighted to have her on the blog as part of a tour organized by Melissa from My World…in Words and Pages. Skyla’s here today to promote the re-release of RIVER, one of her older stories and she’s written us a great guest post about the joys and hassles of updating an older work.
There’s also a tour-wide giveaway with an amazing prize pack for a Canadian or US resident so be sure to stick around for that.
Updating an Older Work
Come. Sit around the fire, boys and girls, for I’m going to tell you a story. A horror story. Something so terrifying, I can barely speak of it.
Once upon a time, there was a writer. She was young and she won things as a teen and then she wrote books. The fourth one was published and people liked it. And then years went by and she wrote more books, and more books—roughly thirty of them—until suddenly over a decade had gone by since that first published novel. Through a magical adventure called “crowdfunding” in the Mountains of Indiegogo, the first novel was able to rise again.
Except the author opened the manuscript to read it.
Her gaze settled on the page.
And then she leapt back in horror, screaming, tripping over cats in her effort to get away.
She was reading An Older Work.
There’s something particularly terrifying revisiting an older book after having written so many. Common wisdom is that if you reread something you wrote six months ago and aren’t cringing, you’re doing something wrong—writers should be constantly growing and improving.
Six months? Try almost eleven years.
I’m sorry, but to properly express my horror at this, I need another gif because y’all can’t see my face.
There were obvious areas that needed updating; a lot has changed in over a decade. Like in the second chapter, the characters were in a video store (in my head it was Blockbuster but I don’t remember if I mentioned that in the book). Well, where is Blockbuster now? How about any devoted video stores in general? I live in a tiny town out in cottage country, Ontario. We have a tiny local theatre that gets movies months after their usual release dates; there is one screen, so they air for one week, and that’s it. If any place should have a dedicated video store, it’s us. Not so, though. You can rent DVDs at a convenience store and at a photography supply store, and that’s it.
So right off the bat in River, I knew a lot of stuff had to go. And I’d have to remark upon things like cell phones, because these characters are teenagers and grew up with the damn things (unlike me; I was a teen when we made fun of the kid with the cell phone…I remember *gasp* discmans). I was at least able to dodge working technology into the book because it made little sense for the character.
“Do you have a cell phone so I can text without calling the landline and bothering everyone up?” Daryl asked.
“Cindy wants to get me one but I don’t like the idea of…like…people calling and talking to me. Like you are now. And I don’t like the buttons. What do you want?”
It wasn’t merely the out of date bits that gave me difficulty—again, the real horror came from reading something I’d written so very long ago. I wanted to burn it. And then jump in the canal. Not because it’s a bad book—objectively, what I lacked in knowledge of craft things like structure and plotting, I made up for in at least character and some fun dialogue—but because it’s so far from where I am now.
What did I change rewriting River, you ask? Here.
The blue? That’s the rewrite. Enough people had read the book that I had to leave the basic story intact (and I couldn’t add zombies and car chases, BOO), but otherwise I was brutal. Entire scenes were rewritten, chapters were combined, bits were excised completely when they didn’t add anything. Most of the dialogue in the scenes I kept remained (I always watched a lot of TV; I had a good ear for dialogue) but everything else?
The overall result is the same book, just with a bit of a facelift. It’s different from my work now but I appreciate River for what it is and I’m glad it’s available again for the many readers who loved the story.
Unfortunately, my task isn’t over yet: the crowdfunding campaign that revived River met its stretch goal, guaranteeing the release of the sequel, Wolfe, sometime next year. Which means I have another old book to rewrite.
For more Skyla, check out the following links:
Thanks, Melissa and Skyla, for including us in the tour!
Here’s the scoop on RIVER:
The life of an alpha female wolf was irrevocably changed the night she was attacked and bitten, and awoke confused, alone, and human. Three years later, thrust into a world where she doesn’t belong and living in foster care, River barely tolerates humanity and still doesn’t know who bit her or why.
But River isn’t as alone as she previously thought; someone’s been watching her, someone who holds the answers she’s been seeking. And though the human who changed her seems to be a step ahead of her at every turn, River is determined to beat his game and return to her pack and mate.
As if being stuck in a world she hates, with a life she never asked for, and faced with a destiny she doesn’t want wasn’t bad enough, River still must find a way to survive every human’s greatest challenge: high school.
Purchase: Skyla’s Website
Skyla is giving away an amazing prize pack to a lucky follower from Canada or the US.
———————Award-winning author Skyla Dawn Cameron has been writing approximately forever. Her early storytelling days were spent acting out strange horror/fairy tales with the help of her many dolls, and little has changed except that she now keeps those stories on paper. She signed her first book contract at age twenty-one for River, a unique werewolf tale, which was released to critical and reader praise alike and won her the 2007 EPPIE Award for Best Fantasy. She now has multiple series on the go to keep her busy, which is great for her short attention span. She is also a proud Writer of Unlikable Female Characters™. Skyla is a fifth generation crazy cat lady who lives in southern Ontario, where she writes full time, works as a freelance designer, stabs people with double pointed knitting needles, is an avid gamer, and watches Buffy reruns. If she ever becomes a grownup, she wants to run her own Irish pub, as well as become world dictator.