Friday, September 30, 2011

25 days until Between the Sea and Sky!

So here's a little news roundup.

For one thing, I've seen 2 sales for it on Amazon's BookScan feature. That means somewhere in the Philadelphia area, this book is (or was) ON THE SHELF. Where will it be next? Could you find a copy early? *waits with bated breath* Releasing a book is nerve-racking!!

Thing 2: Now you can preorder the Kindle edition, if that's your thing. I'm sure the Nook edition, etc., will follow shortly. Amazon is usually first to have ebooks posted.

Also, finished copies showed up at my doorstep! And I've got a Goodreads giveaway going on. It ends on the 20th so, if I am reasonably proactive about getting to the post office (no promises) you MIGHT get it by release date.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore

Between the Sea and Sky

by Jaclyn Dolamore

Giveaway ends October 20, 2011.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Also, Magic Under Stone news! I finished the copyedits for Magic Under Stone. And you know what comes after copyedits? It goes to the printer for ARCs!!! It usually takes a little while, still, because everything in publishing takes a little while, but I should have an ARC or two for giveaways fairly soon. Ish.

I'm nervous. My first sequel. As a kid, reading sequels, I was usually disappointed by SOMETHING that happened, because I'd built up an expectation. So it's a little scary to write a sequel knowing that I'll disappoint a lot of people with expectations. Of course, that goes with anything, but I think sequels are worse. Still, I really like this sequel, and it's my longest book to date by a large chunk. I'm very excited for all of you to read it.

And, Dark Metropolis!

Okay, no news about Dark Metropolis, it still doesn't come out for almost two years, but I'm excited, so I just wanted to EXCLAIM the TITLE.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Characters I Wish I'd Created

Man, I suck at coming up with topics to blog about, so today I decided, you know what? Why not just draw inspiration from my old blog? I blogged at Livejournal for 10 years, and some of those posts are worth resurrecting. In one of my first posts, I asked myself what characters I wish I'd created. Here was my list, back in 2002:

Nightcrawler from the X-Men.
Jack Skellington from the Nightmare Before Christmas.
Setzer Gabbiani from Final Fantasy VI.
Jonathan the Zombie Master from the Xanth books.
Saitou Hajime from the anime Rurouni Kenshin.
Tyldak from the Elfquest comics.
Wolf from the 10th Kingdom.
Chaucer from A Knight's Tale.
Auntie Mame from the classic film of the same name starring Rosalind Russell.

I still like all these characters, but, my list would look somewhat different nowadays! I think I'd still take Jonathan the Zombie Master and Wolf. I could see fitting them into a story somewhere. (Of course, Freddy in Dark Metropolis is totally my own Jonathan if I'm being honest.) Usually when I love a character, I end up co-opting the parts of them I like and changing them into something that's mine instead.

Some characters I'd add to the list nowadays:

--Pretty much everyone from Avatar: The Last Airbender, but especially Prince Zuko. Who doesn't love Prince Zuko? And Uncle Iroh because, well, the best characters often come in groups that play off each other, and I can't imagine Zuko without Iroh. But seriously I love that entire cast so much.
--Damon from Vampire Diaries. No need to explain! He steals the show!
--Yasu from NANA. He's a lawyer, also in a rock band, and he's the fallback "protective guy" for everybody, which I love. And he's bald and everyone teases him about it. But he's also really hot. I would never have been able to create him, though, because I can't draw a hot bald guy like Ai Yazawa can. I also love George from her Paradise Kiss manga, but he reminded me of a character I already had at the time, so it's not quite the same.
--Emily of New Moon. It's not like anyone but L. M. Montgomery COULD have written Emily, but now that I'm writing middle grade, I'd kill to have created this character.
--Harold from Harold and Maude. I'm not sure I could pull off the "falling in love with an old lady" part, but I love Harold... Well, I love Maude, too, just...well, the ending of this movie was so depressing.
--Char Aznable from Gundam. Sexy, of the most well-known anime characters of all time for a reason...
--Quinton and Sally from the Thieves and Kings comics. The whole cast of this comic is great, but I particularly love how complicated Quinton and Sally are.

I'm sure I could think of a lot more if I wanted to spend all day at this...

Have you ever encountered a character in someone else's story and wished they were yours? (I know plenty of people do, hence, fan fic! Which I did write, myself, as a teenager.) Tell me who!

Friday, September 9, 2011

On Retellings, Reworkings, Homages, Rip-offs

No story exists in a vacuum. There is, as they say, nothing new under the sun. But some stories draw a bit more heavily on predecessors than others. Meanwhile, many authors bite their nails while reading new deal announcements because they think, "OH NO THAT IS WHAT I'M WRITING!" Cassandra Clare sold the Infernal Devices books not longer before Magic Under Glass sold and I thought, "Oh noes! Clockwork Prince? My book has a clockwork prince in it!!!" It doesn't take much for us to freak out.

What about when the borrowing is conscious? What's the difference between a retelling, a reworking, an homage, or...PLAGIARISM!?

Ultimately? The author will intend one thing, the reader will get another. I've seen reviews about Magic Under Glass that felt it was just a flat-out rip-off of Jane Eyre, other reviews that appreciated the nod but noted that the book goes in a completely different direction. But I'm going to attempt some definitions.


A retelling sticks to the basic structure of the original story at heart. Retellings are usually of fairy tales, myths, or classics. If it is no longer under copyright, it's up for grabs. If character and setting is your strength as a writer and plot is not, then retellings might be a great option for you. The story is already there! The trouble, of course, is putting a new twist on it, like changing a character's gender, telling the story from an unusual POV (like the villain's perspective...perhaps we see they aren't as villainous as we thought), or picking a quirky setting.


A reworking, in my mind, is when you take a pre-existing story and start twisting it enough that it no longer resembles the original enough to be a straight-out retelling, but the reader can still recognize the source material in there somewhere.


An homage, or "nod" to a previous work, might be even farther from the original source. I also think it is different from a reworking in that you can nod to several things at once. It might not be terribly obvious except to readers who are big fans of the source material.

Still, the line between reworking and homage can be blurry indeed. I tend to feel that if your story BEGAN with the original material, it is a reworking. To me, Dark Metropolis is a reworking of the 1927 film Metropolis because it began with the premise of "What if the underground workers in Metropolis were dead?" Then I wondered what it would be like if I switched the genders of the characters in Metropolis. THEN things started getting off-track and less recognizable, but, it still began with Metropolis. Magic Under Glass, OTOH, came from the desire simply to write a book along the lines of classic novels about girls in reduced circumstances who fall in love in a house full of secrets, inspired by not just Jane Eyre, but A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, and Rebecca. So, to me, it is an homage.

Finally, we come to just plain ripping off someone else's work. This usually happens between two relatively modern works--if you write something about Lizzie Bennett, it's not longer a rip-off, it's acceptable fan fic, right? You can plagiarize anything--a character, a story, a phrase, even a style, although you can't be sued for borrowing a style!

The thing about ripping off stories is, it doesn't happen as much as readers seem to think it does. Strange coincidences happen between two books all the time. Apparently Tera Lynn Childs' mermaid books have a character named Dosinia and so does Between the Sea and Sky. It's the name of a mollusk, but I'm braced for someone to think I ripped it from Forgive My Fins. I promise you...I had nooo idea. Between the Sea and Sky was finished before Forgive My Fins came out, even though it's released much later. People seemed to come out of the woodwork to sue J. K. Rowling because they'd written a book about wizards, or had creatures named "Muggles" in their story, or whatever.

It goes without saying, obviously, published writers shouldn't plagiarize. Some writers avoid reading stories resembling their own while writing to avoid subconscious plagiarism. I, meanwhile, try to read everything that sounds like something I'm working on so that if I do find a similar element, I can change it. But no one can entirely defy the might of the collective unconscious!

If you're a beginning/intermediate writer not yet gunning for publication, however? I say, rip off characters, plot and style freely. Artists copy other artists, why shouldn't you? I was a shameless borrower in my youth, so my "original" stories often read like a fan-fic mashup with characters from a dozen different books or movies, perhaps thinly disguised by a name change. Stylewise, at different point in my life I tried to write like The Mists of Avalon, The Babysitter's Club, Francesca Lia Block, Marvel Comics, Piers Anthony, and L. M. Montgomery. Feel free to write fan fic, too, if that's your speed. My only advice for the young writer as far as borrowing goes is just to draw from incredibly disparate elements. That's how you'll end up with your own style. Look at all the writers who wrote as much like Tolkien as they could manage in the high fantasy genre for decades. Let's try and move away from that! If people praise my work for being original and creative now, trust me, it's because when I was about 13 I thought it would be a great idea to combine elements of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Seinfeld and Arthurian lore into one story...I still like to look for the quirky in my story choices, although I've gotten a bit wiser about it!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bits of this and that

If you know me, you know I love reading non-fiction. Even though I'm a fiction writer, so perhaps it doesn't behoove me to tell everyone to read more non-fiction, I think it is very brain expanding. I recently read a charming little book that reminded me of Magic Under Glass a bit, The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam by Ann Marie Fleming. She also made a documentary of it, which is Canadian and unavailable in any convenient way, although I'd love to see it.

Long Tack Sam was a handsome Chinese acrobat and magician, born in 1885, who married an Austrian girl and had two lovely daughters. He performed on Vaudeville, traveled the world, and as time went on his daughters performed with him. He made loads of money and was quite a star attraction back in the day. He also had a son who barely saw his parents in his early life because they left him in Austria. When movies came along, he refused to appear in them, and so did his daughters, because of the racist portrayals of Asians in movies. The memoir itself is told in a sort of comic-book-esque style, with cartoons, collages, it's a quick and engaging read.

Of course I couldn't help but draw some parallels to Nimira and her "Trouser Girl" act. And I wished the author (who is Long Tack Sam's great-granddaughter) had been able to dig up more! I'd love to know more about the romance between Sam and his wife, which must have been quite shocking back in the day, especially since it was a quick courtship, although her family reportedly loved him. I'd love to know more about their adventures and trials around the globe across decades, countries, wars.

Anyway, it was a fascinating book, I recommend it.

Now, some miscellaneous news, most of which I've posted around Twitter and Facebook, but I do like having everything on the blog at some point.

First, my fans are awesome! Reader Holly made me Erris and Nimira dolls! (She also made a doll of my character Alfred but you don't really know him yet.) I'm posting a photo she sent me of them but she mailed them to me so I have them now. They are really awesome in person with lots of little details. I also got my very first piece of paper fan mail, which was kind of a thrill. I'm kind of glad most fan mail comes through the internet nowadays since it's much easier to write back, but it's still kind of awesome to get a real letter once in awhile!

Also, the Kirkus review for Between the Sea and Sky popped up not long ago and they were kind: “She [Dolamore] displays plenty of imagination, especially in her setting, with its 19th-century-style clothing and quaint towns. The portraits of her two leads will convince readers, and several of her minor characters, such as ex-mermaid Belawyn and Alander’s father, stand out as quirky and individual. A simple but effective fantasy."

Kirkus is kind of famous for being harsh, but they liked Magic Under Glass too, so...I guess they're just lulling me into a sense of security...

Lastly, I found out Australian audiobook publisher Bolinda is doing an audiobook of Between the Sea and Sky. I've never had an audiobook before so this is kind of thrilling!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Between the Sea and Sky Signing, Nov 12th, Casselberry, FL

Hey guys!!

So I've arranged for a book signing of Between the Sea and Sky for those of you who want signed and sketched-in copies of the book at the Books-A-Million in Casselberry on November 12th from 2-4. (Or was it 3-5? I think it's 2-4.) (Casselberry is on the north side of Orlando.) They will also have some Magic Under Glass paperbacks.

IMPORTANT: The events manager there is cautious about ordering too many books. It's a very nice store, but I don't think they have a lot of events there. Orlando isn't exactly the book release party capital of the nation anyway. So if you KNOW or THINK you might be coming and purchasing books, please let me know how many copies of Between the Sea and Sky or Magic Under Glass you would like so I can give her an estimate.

(Let us all pause a moment to mourn the death of Borders, as my local Borders was VERY supportive and that was the store I was always went to and the people I always talked to. So I'm feeling a bit lost this time around... The Orlando Barnes & Noble, I must say, was ALSO very lovely, but they proved to be kind of out-of-the-way for me and most people I know.)

Also, as many of you know, if all goes well I am planning to move to Maryland by the end of the year, so if any teacher/librarian folk out there in Florida are interested in booking me for an author event, you only have a few months before I will be quite a bit less cheap and available since I will no longer live here. Just an FYI in the chance that anyone was thinking about it and assuming I'd be around awhile.