Category Archives: Blog

New Tech Tools and Templates

I found a new fascination this weekend. On the recommendation of a new author friend, I took another look at the program called Notion. I’d heard about it before but didn’t really understand the full capability of the software. Now, I get it.

This tool is a powerful combination of databases and freeform storage, and it’s a perfect fit for building and incredibly versatile novel or series bible (aka a place for you to keep track of everything you create so you don’t forget details along the way.)

To teach myself how to use this program, I built a blank template I can use for my own stories, and I wanted to share it here with a general overview of how to navigate the program and my own template. Feel free to copy the template and make changes so it can better fit your needs! Also, the free version of the program is more than enough for most user’s needs. You can also use Notion’s Guides and Tutorials section for more detailed walkthroughs on the specific functions within the program.

Now, an introduction to the Novel Notes template in Notion.

This is the template’s landing page and the main navigation point for the whole tool

The customizable blank pages can be adjusted to fit a wide variety of needs. I set up this template to highlight the key description of the story, a callout for important notes or reminders, and the navigation links to the rest of the pages in the tool. This should allow for easy access to all the information within the tool.

This shows a section with character cards, and spaces for overview information on the book(s).

Because Notion also incorporates robust database tools, it allows for comprehensive information organization and various ways to view/sort that info. In this template, I highlight the character descriptions with a “Board” view of the character database. This essentially gives each character a card that displays the reference photo (if you choose to upload one) and whichever key details you choose. Databases also include a tagging system that can help you keep even extensive cast lists or outlines organized.

The actual database view of the character list

Here’s what the actual database looks like for the character sheet. It’s essentially a fancy spreadsheet. What’s special about a database versus a spreadsheet is the type of information you can put in each cell, the powerful filter/sort functions, and the easy way you can link information from one table to another. These information links are called relations or references. Notion usually calls them relations. As an example of what you can do with these links, I usually link the characters to my outline database so I know who appears in each chapter.

When you open a record, you have even more space to add information.

Each row in a table can also be called a “record”. In Notion, when you hover over the first cell in the row, you’ll see a button appear that says “Open”. Clicking on this will open the view shown in the image above, and with the space provided here, you can include a TON of additional information in the open space at the bottom of the page where it says “Press Enter to continue with an empty page, or create a template.” Nothing entered in that space will appear within the table or in any view you create (like the Board view shown in an earlier image), but it is the perfect place to go into lengthy detail about the character, chapter, etc. you’re trying to track. As a bonus, this section acts exactly like the main page, so you can add images, create lists, link to other pages, or any number of things.

Add images to create an inspiration board or to remind yourself of key details within the story.

Back on the main page, the last feature I included is space for an inspiration board. Notion links directly to Unsplash, so you can choose images found on that site or you can upload your own. By dragging and dropping, you can reorganize the pictures and add or remove the number of columns in each row.

And that’s it! At least in the most general sense. Below are some details on each of the other sections within the template and why they’re included.

Outline –

This is mostly self-explanatory, but most people don’t outline in a database, so I’ll explain a little bit about why this is a pretty cool option. With the database tools, an outline can link directly to your characters (so you know who appears where), your timeline (so you know when everything is happening), your research (so you always have access to the right information), and your quotes (so you know when you referenced some clue or description or detail).

Plot Notes –

I usually leave this as a more freeform page, so this is where I write out my summary and synopsis, map out plot beats, scribble down revision notes, or anything else I need to keep track of.

Glossary –

This is going to be most useful for those writing something within speculative fiction in which you need to invent words, phrases, and place names. This database helps track the meanings of those words and can give you space to remind yourself how you came up with it, too. If needed, you can also link this to other databases (like the outline or character list) if you want to track where the words are used or who says it.

Timeline –

If you’re using a regular Gregorian calendar (the one that’s the official calendar most people use on a daily basis), the timeline function within Notion can be a good way to track events and dates. If you’re writing speculative fiction with an alternative calendar, you might have to get creative in how you use this feature, but it still could be useful. For example, you could simply use it to track the number of days between events or how long certain journey takes, etc.

Quotes and Notes –

I started using this tool when I was writing my last series and was having a hard time remembering how I’d described certain things (like important rooms and technology I invented) and when I’d referenced details that laid down key clues. Tracking them in a sheet like this gave me an easy way to remember who, what, where, when, why, and how of my own story. Which is good, because I don’t trust my own memory for anything.

Research –

Speaking of not trusting my own memory, I tend to be a bit overzealous wen tracking my research. When I look up information on websites, I tend to copy the whole site into my notes so I always have it for reference. I save PDF copies of articles, copy photos off the internet, and download anything I think I might need again later. Putting it all in a database like this makes it SO MUCH EASIER to find things when I need it.

Progress Tracking –

For those who are motivated by seeing their progress laid out in front of them, this sheet can help you keep track of how much you’re writing and when. With the use of tags, it can also track progress along stages of the process (drafting versus editing, for example) and give you a solid view of exactly how much work you’ve put into the story.

And that’s it! Hopefully this helps. Happy writing, all!

The Hunt is Coming

Tis the season for many things, and one of those things is the Fall Young Adult Scavenger Hunt!

This year, the hunt will run from October 1 to October 6!

Oct 1, noon PST: The hunt begins!

Oct 6, noon PST: The Hunt ends—winners selected.

Oct 8: Winners Announced!

There are four fantastic teams to follow this year. To check out all the books, you can browse this handy Goodreads list to get a feel for the stories and authors on the various teams. I’m Team Purple this time around!

If you’ve never taken part in the hunt and are interested in the rules, visit the official YASH website here. Below are also a few quick links that might help you navigate your first hunting trip or just give you a quick refresher course before the fun is underway!

How to Hunt | When You’re Stuck | Official Entry Form | Prize List

Get ready to win some very cool prizes!

PAX NOVIS has a cover at last!

I’ve been talking about this book for about three years now, on and off, and it feels a little unreal that I can finally, finally share the cover with you!

Pax Novis Cover Art

Cira Antares is deeply loyal to two things: Pax Novis—her mother’s ship that transports supplies across war-torn star systems—and her personal mission to save war orphans. But hiding them as stowaways on the ship is illegal, and if any of them were found, not even her mother could protect Cira from the consequences.

She has successfully kept her secret…until supplies start to go missing. Food. Clothing. Tools. All signs point to her stowaways, but they wouldn’t do anything to risk exposing themselves—or her. Especially not Riston, the oldest of the group and someone Cira has grown close to. Someone she might even be falling in love with…

And petty thefts are only the beginning—whole ships are disappearing now.

Not caught in a firefight. Not destroyed by another planet. Vanishing. Without a trace.

And Pax Novis is next.

Brianna at The Young Folks was kind enough to host a reveal for this beauty yesterday, and even though it’s a little scary how close the release date already is, I honestly can’t wait to share my sprawling, complex space epic with everyone. This is the start of a brand new adventure with a really fun cast of characters, and I hope all of you will join me on this journey!

More information as well as extras like inspiration boards and quote graphics will all be available on my website’s official book page as it becomes available.

Buy it fromEntangled | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo |

An Interview on YA Cafe!

Today, I was lucky enough to be interviewed on The YA Cafe podcast with Laura Moe! It was a great conversation about Island of Exiles, writing, asexuality, death rituals, speculative fiction, the popularity of dystopia, and more. Not necessarily in that order.

You can listen to the hour-long podcast here!

Thank you, Laura, for a great conversation!

Amazing news from Kirkus!


This is amazing! Kirkus has not only given Island Of Exiles a 🌟STARRED🌟 review, they have made it one of their indie books of the month for April! Thank you, Kirkus!

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A progress update.


Crossing a project off my to-do list is always a relief. First pass edits on #DreamWarSaga 3 are finally finished! It’s been a long road with this book, and it’s not even close to over, but it’s worth it to get the chance to come one book closer to the end of my debut series. Even if that end doesn’t happen until 5 or 6 years after the series began.

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Island of Exiles is here!

I am so happy to say that Island of Exiles, the first installment of The Ryogan Chronicles, is officially out in the world!

Although there are certain similarities in how different books are brought into the world, there is also a lot that changes from release to release. For me, Island of Exiles has been different from the beginning.

When she bought the book, Kate Brauning pushed me past what I thought the story was about, giving me the chance to reexamine the story to add layers and complications. Entangled Teen went above and beyond to support me and the release of this title. I was able to collect blurbs from some great authors, all of whom raved about the story. Then, I found out that not only would my book be a Junior Library Guild selection (a big effing deal, in case you hadn’t heard of them), it would also be found worthy of a Kirkus STAR. ?

? “Readers won’t be able to put this book down, as the excitement begins from the first page and only grows from there. Cameron expertly blends worldbuilding and intriguing characters with page-turning action scenes and a story that builds in tension and complexity. The novel’s commitment to diversity adds new dimensions to the story, as the cast is entirely nonwhite, and the clan recognizes nonbinary gender identities and complex sexual orientations. The lexicon of unique terms and concepts may be intimidating to some readers, but the vocabulary adds fantastic texture to the world without distracting from the plot. This is rare gem of a book that has a lot to offer readers, including magic, action, and intrigue on the edge of a knife. A fresh, original series starter, bolstered by a dynamic protagonist and a welcome sense of depth.” ?

The response today has continued the trend. The love from readers and reviewers has been utterly fantastic, and for the first time in my writing career, I was able to find copies of my new release at my local Barnes & Noble. Not only that, I met a teen reader and she walked away with the first ever signed copy of the novel! There’s no better way to cap off a release day than that.

Also, thank you SO MUCH to everyone who posted “in the wild” pictures of Island of Exiles today! It’s one thing to know theoretically that a book is out in the world, and it’s something entirely different to actually see proof. These posts helped make this release day especially spectacular! Thank you, thank you, thank you! 

Want quote graphics, inspiration boards, and fun extras? Visit the Island of Exiles page on this site.

In Khya’s world, every breath is a battle.

On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.

But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya’s home becomes a deadly trap. The only person who can help is Tessen, her lifelong rival and the boy who challenges her at every turn. The council she hoped to join has betrayed her, and their secrets, hundreds of years deep, reach around a world she’s never seen.

To save her brother’s life and her island home, her only choice is to trust Tessen, turn against her clan, and go on the run—a betrayal and a death sentence.

Buy it from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Books-A-Million | IndieBound

Add this book on Goodreads.

Want to try before you buy? You can! Entangled Teen is posting several chapters of Island of Exiles on Wattpad, one a day until February 20th!

We’re at the three week mark, y’all!

We’re inching ever closer to the Island Of Exiles release day! Only three weeks left now

My first countdown thread was all about  why I’m so excited to be releasing a fantasy novel.

Next, I talked about how one character became the anchor for my worldbuilding & revisions.

My third thread delved into how desire, kinks, power dynamics, and monogamy are perceived in Itagami.

I talked about magic last week and how it’s woven into the fabric of Itagamin society.

Today we jump back to sex and society, specifically orientation, gender, family, polyamory, and normalization.

While the word “bisexual” isn’t used in the book, I make it clear in character actions that this is a common and accepted orientation. It is, in fact, the most commonly claimed orientation in the clan. The whole spectrum of orientations exists, but bi or pan is “normal.” I make a point of the characters’ sexuality in the book partially to prove a point–that an accepting society can exist.

It’s strange to me that there are people who think accepting–NOT just tolerating–others’ choices would destroy the world. Normalization of acceptance has to happen to combat this, and currently, the easiest method is proof of concept media.

What do I mean by “proof of concept media”? Books, movies, TV, music, & art displaying cities & societies NOT destroyed by difference. Sagen sy Itagami isn’t a utopia by any means, but Island Of Exiles is definitely a proof of concept novel.
No one is ever shamed for their sexuality or their libido. Teased by their friends, sure. Taunted or mocked? Nope.

There is no word for slut or whore in Itagamin. There isn’t even a word for promiscuous. On the other hand, no one is ever laughed at or bullied for NOT having sex either. Ushimo is their word for asexuality.

All this is taught AND practiced. Children learn it alongside a very important reminder: Attraction is instinct. Action is a choice.

Consent is a crucial concept in this culture; you’re not allowed to even casually touch someone else without it. There are backstory reasons for the strictness of this societal law, but I never get a chance to go into them in the book. I can tell you it’s a separate story from the why behind the shape of families within Itagami, specifically the LACK of any family unit.

To explain that, I have to start with babies. Actually, I have to start with the making of babies.

Procreation is majorly restricted in Itagamin society. Pregnancies have to be pre-approved, partially due to population size concerns. It’s an isolated island with a southern Nevada-like landscape. Droughts could decimate a clan too large to sustain itself. Originally, it was partially due to of this restriction that the leaders of Itagami allowed & encouraged both bisexuality & polyamory. It was in NO way because of this restriction or population control that Itagamin leaders decimated the family unit. The saying about needing a village to raise a child? It’s taken pretty literally in Sagen sy Itagami.

When a baby is born, the parents go back to work and the baby is brought to one of the city’s four nurseries. Some parents keep track of their blood-born child’s progress, others don’t. Neither course is considered “right.” The nurseries are watched over by yonin caretakers. At age 5, kids move into a dormitory and begin their training.

One point of interest? Although citizens can’t escape their class once they reach adulthood, all children are considered equal. Children, no matter who their parents are, are given completely equal training and opportunities. Kids are trained with all weapons and then allowed to pick one they become expert at. They’re also taught the theories of magic. Everyone is taught theory so they’ll recognize it when they develop theirs. So they’ll know what to do when their own power appears. Also, the caretakers, teachers, training masters, and eventual commanding officers usually don’t know who a citizen’s parents are.

All children belong to the clan. Not everyone deals directly with the city’s youngest residents, but all are invested in the next generation. Every citizen in the clan would die to protect the city’s children.

At 16, everyone faces the herynshi, an incredibly difficult trial that determines the rest of their lives. The skill with weapons and magic they display in the herynshi is how the leaders place them in one of the three citizen classes.The classes are–

Nyshin: Warrior mages; leaders/fighters
Ahdo: Guardian mages; city guards/soldiers
Yonin: Non-mages; service/farming/mining

Sometimes romantic/sexual bonds form within training classes, but it’s more common for deeper bonds to form between citizens. Once placed, citizens can’t escape their class, but within it, relationship possibilities are both open and encouraged.

As I mentioned in a previous thread, marriage is rare in Itagami. Most people enter & leave relationships as needs change. Often there isn’t an official “relationship” at all. A fair number of Itagamin citizens choose to keep to short-term encounters instead. The most important thing is the safety of the whole clan, so it tends to create a city-wide bond rather than individual ones.

“The safety of the clan comes before our lives” is a mantra drilled into Itagamin children basically from birth. They take it seriously.

What I love about this society is how, within a class, it’s VERY equal. Excepting of procreation, there are no gender roles. There are three sexes–male, female, and ebet. Positions of power are relatively evenly spread between all three. Relationships between any combination of sexes–or any number of people–raises exactly zero eyebrows. Only someone’s skill with weapons and their prowess with magic impact their social standing.

All of these details were added on purpose. I worked hard to create a society that’s equal in a lot of ways our culture isn’t. Basically, all this talk is a lot of detail mainly to say one thing: Shiara isn’t exactly an island you’d want to live on, but I tried to make Itagami a society you’d want to live in despite that.

Buy it from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Books-A-Million | IndieBound

Add this book on Goodreads.

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Step onto Shiara in one month.

Somehow, Island Of Exiles is only one month away. That’s only FOUR WEEKS!

When I started this whole countdown thing, I talked about why I’m so excited to be releasing a fantasy novel.

At six weeks I posted about Tessen, the unexpected linchpin of my editorial process.

Last week was different. I talked about sex, kinks, and differing power dynamics.

Today, I’m going to talk about magic.

It’s hard for me to imagine a fantasy without some element of the magical or impossible, but it’s rarely the same between books. Sometimes there are spells & talismans, sometimes blood & reciprocity, sometimes innate ability & prophecy. I’ve read novels set in dozens of worlds, and many of the authors had fascinating approaches to magic. The books I loved each taught me something different, and I incorporated many smaller elements into my own universe.

Children on Shiara are taught about desosa, the energy created & used by everything in the universe. This is what makes magic possible. The teachings of Sagen sy Itagami create makes who are specialists, very skilled in one particular skill or power.

Rai, one of the secondary characters, is a kasaiji, a fire mage. She uses the desosa to create a spark, or manipulates existing flames.

Etaro is a rikinhisu, someone with telekinetic abilities. Etaro is also an ebet, an established, accepted third sex (ey/em/eir pronouns).

The book’s narrator, Khya, is a fykina, a mage with the power to create energy shields to protect herself & others from metal & magic.

Each of these mage types uses the same energy source to do or create something specific, special, and powerful. Part of the difference between the skills is innate, a psychological quirk of personality changing how an individual sees the world. The rest of the differences in abilities is down to a person’s sensitivity to the desosa as well as their willpower. It’s hard to detect the subtly shifting energy fields of the desosa. It’s harder to channel and shape it.

Some people can only shape it to enhance their own body and/or senses. Tessen, for example, is a basaku. Basaku mages are those whose senses–all six of them (five physical, one for the desosa)–are incredibly over-enhanced.

Most other mages, however, keep the desosa outside of themselves, manipulating it in the world around them. There aren’t any spells or rituals on this island. Magic is treated like any other weapon Khya and the others train with. It’s a tool that someone is either capable of learning how to wield or it isn’t. Each mage type has specific lessons to master, and they’re not allowed to graduate the training program until they’ve done so.

Like training for a marathon, endurance and stamina have to be slowly built up over time. Same with skill and precision. However, no matter what type of magic the Itagamin mages are capable of or how strong they are, there are limits. Magic, like everything else, has rules. Breaking them is…not exactly advisable. Pushing yourself too far (for example, a rikinhisu trying to lift a massive boulder on day one of training) can be deadly. Almost no one can use desosa that’s been electrified by a lightning storm. The energy runs too hot; it burns people to crisp human shells. Mostly, though, magic is like any other physical activity. It’s exhausting.

Magic in all it’s strengths and forms is integral to Itagamin society, deeply so. It shapes their entire class structure. The dividing lines between the three citizen classes of Itagami aren’t drawn by blood, money, or politics–they’re drawn by magic. This means that once you’re placed in a group, moving beyond it is rare. Almost impossible. You can only advance within your class.

Creating a society so clearly defined was both easy and difficult. In Itagami, I managed to erase a lot of the prejudices modern society has–sexuality, skin, and religious beliefs don’t matter here. Doing this doesn’t mean the culture is a utopia, though. They have their own deeply ingrained biases. Almost all involve magic. What my characters eventually learn is that, in Itagami, magic, like energy, is far more malleable than they thought.

In four weeks, when Island Of Exiles releases, you’ll get to see all of this for yourself. I for one am THRILLED.

 

Pre-order soon! Island of Exiles is almost here.

Buy it from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Books-A-Million | IndieBound

Add this book on Goodreads.

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Live From Miami!

Today I’m editing while at the #SCBWIMiami2017 conference! It’s inspiring to listen to authors like Jane Yolen, Gennifer Choldenko, and Jacquelyn Mitchard while working on my next project. I highly recommend making the trip down to Florida every January for this conference.

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