Monday, October 6, 2014

Embracing Plan B

Fall television is a time of excitement in my house. My husband and I scour of copy of Entertainment Weekly, reading up on all the new shows and returning favorites.

One of our favorite shows is The Voice. In some ways I relate very much to all the contestants. Writers, like singers, are all artists pursuing a dream of making a living via the creation of art. One topic that often comes up on The Voice, and other reality shows dealing with art (tattoos, cooking, singing, make-up, acting, clothing, etc.) is the dreaded PLAN B.

To artists, the PLAN B (aka The Day Job) is the thing we get "stuck" doing when we are unable to make a decent living producing our art. As I watch interviews of The Voice contestants, I hear a lot of artists saying they have no PLAN B. They're either going to make a living doing their art, or die trying. (With artists, it's always something dramatic like this. I should know, since I consider myself an artist.)

I was a Creative Writing major in college and I heard a lot of the same sentiment among the students. "If I don't make a living as a screen writer, I'm going to bag groceries for the rest of my life." "I'm going to live out of my car until I make my big break." Stuff like that.

I even gave the anti-Plan-B a run when I first got out of college. I waited tables to 4 years so I could have more free time to write and pursue my dream. Over the years I've made some money at writing, but never enough to pay the bills. I eventually decided to turn to Plan B. And you know what? It was the best thing that ever happened.

I'm here today to tell you why it's turned out to be a great thing for me, and to argue the beauty of Plan B for all artists.

Argument #1: Life style

I love to go on vacations and get massages. I love eating good food and owning a home. I like being able to send my daughter to private school. In short, I've come to believe that my life style shouldn't suffer just because I can't make a mortgage payment with my books. My Plan B gives me a comfortable, secure life style.

Argument #2: Life informs art

As a writer, it was hard to garner a lot of life experience by locking myself in a room and clicking away at a keyboard all day. I've spent the last decade working for corporate America. I've learned a lot and gained many insights, much of which inform my YA dystopian/cyberpunk series, Sulan. This series would not have been possible without my Plan B. So I say to my fellow artists, don't be afraid of the Plan B. Embrace it. Open yourself up to new experiences and let it inform your art. You never know how your life experiences will manifest in your art.

Argument #3: Creative freedom

My Plan B gives me the financial freedom to write whatever, whenever, I want. For example, after I finished the first novel in the Sulan series, the practical thing to do was to write the next one in the series; it's widely known that writers make the best money off series. The more books in a series, the more potential income. If I'd been tied to a major publisher, I'd likely have been under contract to do just that.

But the story just wouldn't come to me. I wrote two horrible drafts and finally had to admit the sequel to Sulan just wasn't ready to be written. So I put it on the back burner and wrote my next book, The Warrior & The Flower.

All the time I had been working on Sulan 2, The Warrior & The Flower had been clamoring for attention in my head. Scenes and characters unfolded in my mind. The story was dying to be written. It flowed easily when I sat down in front of my computer. It was such a fun book to write. It was wonderful to be able to write what I wanted to write (and what wanted to be written) and not worry about the financial part.

In short, Plan B gives me complete creative freedom. I'm not forced to write anything under a deadline. I'm not forced to write a book that's not ready to show itself to me. I'm in the final stages of Sulan 2 now, and I'm convinced that if I'd been forced to write it sooner, it would not be the book it's shaping up to be. It was great not to be tied to any deadline and allow myself the time needed to perfect a manuscript.

There's something wonderful about creating art for the sake of simply creating art. It's fun and liberating to have no strings attached to my art. Yeah, it will be wonderful if someday I can make a living with my books. But I know that if/when that day comes, there will be tradeoffs. Writing for a living will mean writing what I think will sell, not necessarily what I'm feeling passionate about at the moment. It will also mean cutting myself off from the world and living in front of a computer, something I dread. I'm something of a people person; day-to-day interactions with people and life bring me joy and, of course, inform my writing.

I wrote this piece with the hope of giving other writers and artists a new perspective on Plan B. Being an artist doesn't have to be all-or-nothing. Art and creative time can be woven into the other facets of living. Plan B can be a great thing for both artist and the art itself, so don't be afraid to embrace it.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Sulan Blog Tour - Recao Day 5


Girl of 1000 Wonders says: "I’ve read one book by Camille Picott before, and I enjoyed it. I was sure I’d enjoy Sulan, but I loved it! . . . The hype, the fear and the world building drew me in, but the characters are what made this book."

Gin's Book Notes says: "Camille Picott does an amazing job of world building. The technology of this future world is out there but not so over the top that you can’t easily imagine it. I think it takes a very gifted writer to incorporate technology into a story that is believable and yet advanced enough to make you wonder at its possibilities."

Wattle at Whimsical Nature says: "I must admit, when I signed up for this tour I only glanced at the synopsis of the book because I’ve read some of Camille Picott’s work before, and my reaction to said tour was ‘YES, SIGN ME UP!’ So I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to get, but expected it to be fantasy.
And it was, but it was also so much more! I guess you could call it a bit sci-fi, a bit cyperpunk, a bit dystopain, a bit doesn’t fit into a convenient pigeon hole so let’s call it everything. And it worked."
Erika at WS Momma Readers Nook says: "I love how the author intertwines the dystopian and cyber/steampunk themes.  It is edgy and thrilling to read, but like all dystopian novels very sad to see such a different earth.  I think the author has created such a wonderful book in the first person where we see this "new" world through the eyes of Sulan."

The Word at My Fingertips says: "Sulan is incredible. Absolutely phenomenal. This is such an original idea, paired with the ever-popular dystopian genre, though this isn't a normal the-world-is-ravaged world. This is a very high-tech society that is organized and have since recreated itself since the Default-when the US declared bankruptcy."

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sulan Blog Tour - Recap Day 4


Fly to Fiction says: "As I mentioned above, what really got me interested in this book was the blurb. The first thing I noticed when I read it was that the main character is Asian (or at least has an Asian name). I then found out that the author, Camille Picott, is actually a Chinese American. Yay for diversity! "

Jiha's File says: "I haven't read anything like this book, and I think it's amazing!
This Dystopian/Cyberpunk novel takes place during a crisis that hit the US, and the main character is Sulan, a 16-year-old math prodigy. No kidding you guys. This girl can solve any complex equation without using a calculator, and she does it in less than 10 seconds. Cool, isn't she?"

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sulan Blog Tour - Recap Day 3


Orange Owls & Books says: "Another thing, the protagonist here is a math prodigy right? And you know how in all of the books the author will keep saying that the protagonist is a math prodigy but never really show you how the character is a prodigy? Yeah, Camille doesn't do that. She shows exactly how Sulan is a prodigy. Her math skills are put on display in an intense moment. Goodness I loved that part. I was almost squealing."

Mary's Cup of Tea says: "This book hits on a subject that we have all been wondering about lately and that is if the U.S. dollar collapses and countries that we owe money to are demanding we pay the loans back to, so it's not as far off as you might expect. The book doesn't really give a time frame but because of some of the technology that they are using, it's a safe bet it's in the future, long after I am gone for sure. "

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sulan Blog Tour - Recap Day 2


Melissa at The Reader & The Chef says: "Sulan is a great character and I didn't have trouble liking her right from the start. She is smart, a great friend and a true fighter. I liked that she has her priorities straight and is focused on surviving, on striving to learn how to fight, and on protecting those she loves the most. It's weird to meet a character who is not looking to fall in love, like Sulan. Despite the worthy candidates she has in front of her, Sulan is just too busy with more important stuff than to waste a second on romantic drama. I really, really liked that about her."

Paperrdolls says: "I’m not one of those people who typically visualize what im reading I wish I were. Perhaps with my sickness my mind opened up because I totally just saw everything and it was A-W-E-S-O-M-E.I cant wait to read the next book there were some many things left unsaid and undone. It was a HUGE cliffhanger which I appreciate but Picott DEFINITELY leaves you wanting more. And I feel like a huge ass because I want to share so much more im struggling to contain a great many things but trust me this book is one you need to read."

Nay at Nay's Pink Bookshelf says: "The world was impeccable and the characters were outstanding. For a new genre I was highly impressed by this novel."

Savings in Seconds says: "...Sulan has an engaging theme that will keep readers interested.  If you’re into books that make you think twice about what’s going on in real life, check out Sulan!"

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sulan Blog Tour - Recap Day 1


I seem to be running perennially behind these days! The amazing Candace over at CBB Book Promotions organized a wonderful blog tour for Sulan, Episode 1: The League. Thank you to Candace and all the wonderful bloggers who took the time to read and review my book.

The tour ran last week, but due to some health issues with a close family member I am only now getting around to blogging about it. So here's a recap of the tour!

Day 1:

Natalie at Book Lovers Life says: "With its superb writing and vivid images, Sulan is one of the best books I've read in a long time. The authors style of writing is amazing and she easily makes you a part of the story. From its entertaining characters to its captivating story Sulan is a must read. I love Dystopian books and would highly recommend this unique book to everyone."

Brenda at Daily Mayo says: "Sulan is a tough girl, ready to do whatever  she can to defend her home. I think the literary world could stand to have more strong female characters, so I was a big fan of Sulan and her mother. I also loved that Sulan works to solve problems both on her own and also with her parents. It’s nice to see a strong family bond in a YA book."

Amanda at My Tangled Skeins Book Review says: "Sulan was a pleasant surprise for me. I went into this book thinking that I would probably like it just enough to finish it. I was wrong. I devoured it in one sitting. It is well paced and each chapter ended in such a way that I just had to read the next one. The author did very well in drawing me into the story and keeping me wanting more."

Friday, July 11, 2014

Writer's Report - Slow & Steady Wins the Race

It's been ages since I've posted! The good news is that I'm still alive and I'm writing, albeit the words aren't coming as quickly as I'd necessarily like. Writing has taken a back seat in the game of life, but I still manage to write several thousand words every week.

I'm 53K words into Sulan 2, which is tentatively entitled The Dome. This is my third draft and the first one that doesn't feel like a complete gut job. Yay! With any luck I'll have this draft wrapped up before the end of the year. I was hoping this novel would clock in somewhere between 55K - 60K words, although it appears it will probably be closer to 80K before I finish.

I've also had the privilege to critique several novels for friends of mine during the past few weeks. It's always fun to share the creative journey with my fellow writing buddies. Critiquing always brings a new awareness to my own writing and helps to keep me sharp. And what's more fun than talking about characters and story plots with friends? It's the stuff that keeps my soul warm.

Hope everyone out there in the blog world is well and enjoying journeys into books and writing.