SING SWEET NIGHTINGALE: The Deleted Scenes Tour {Kick-Off Post, Interview with Author Erica Cameron, Excerpt, and Giveaway}





Today, I'm honored to help launch the Deleted Scenes Tour for SING SWEET NIGHTINGALE by Erica Cameron!

Over the next week, visit the following blogs for some secret, never-seen-before scenes from the novel!


November 3 - A Backwards Story
November 4 - Kissed by Ink
November 5 - Queekie Girl Reads
November 6 - Chasm of Books
November 10 - Books Complete Me
November 11 - KellyVision
November 12 - Falling For YA
November 13 - WhoRU Blog


Keep reading for an interview with Erica (Great for everyone looking for some NaNo advice, too!), read an excerpt, and check out Erica's kick-off post! You also have a chance to win a lot of cool stuff!

You may also be interested in a guest post from Erica that was posted here earlier this year,
Revising From Draft to Finished Copy,
to celebrate the initial release of
SING SWEET NIGHTINGALE! 

~*~

Erica Cameron knew that writing was her passion when she turned a picture book into a mystery novella as a teen. That piece wasn’t her best work, but it got her an A. After college, she used her degree in Psychology and Creative Writing to shape a story about a dreamworld. Then a chance encounter at a rooftop party in Tribeca made her dream career a reality.

Erica is many things but most notably the following: writer, reader, editor, dancer, choreographer, singer, lover of musical theater, movie obsessed, sucker for romance, Florida resident, and quasi-recluse. She loves the beach but hates the heat, has equal passion for the art of Salvador Dali and Venetian Carnival masks, has a penchant for unique jewelry and sun/moon d├ęcor pieces, and a desire to travel the entire world on a cruise ship. Or a private yacht. You know, whatever works.

Her debut novel, Sing Sweet Nightingale, released March 2014 and it was the first volume of The Dream War Saga, a four-book young adult series.

To contact Erica, try:
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads
Tumblr  |  Pinterest  |  Google+  |  The Mystical Demystified



Revising From Draft to Finished Copy:
Lucky #13
by Erica Cameron





The journey from concept to completion for SING SWEET NIGHTINGALE was long and more than a little convoluted. It started life as a 19,000-word short story, which turned into two short stories from opposing viewpoints for a combined 60,000 words. I scrapped a lot of those words when I decided to combine those two stories into the first draft of SING SWEET NIGHTINGALE. That draft clocked in at just under 106,000 words. I revised and then I rewrote and, lo and behold, another 110,000 words. Most of those were different words, by the way. Combine that with all of the smaller revisions it means that, over the course of many years, well over 300,000 words have been written into (and then probably deleted) from the book. Another way to look at it (and another point of interest) is this: there are only two scenes from the first draft of the novel that are even close to intact within the final version of the book. TWO. That’s… not many words. 

So many scenes were left on the cutting room floor and some of them I missed a lot! One section near the end was especially painful to lose. Entire chapters from Mariella’s POV got left behind in the editing process. Before I agreed to the cuts, I made sure my editors were okay with me posting the whole section online at some point. Now is that time! That is one of the reasons we put together this deleted scenes blog tour.

First, a warning: HERE THERE BE SPOILERS
If you haven’t read the book, most of the scenes will make sense but (depending on the scene) will also give away plot elements from the book. You have been warned! ^.~

Okay? Moving on. 

Over the next two weeks you’ll see alternate beginnings, an alternate ending, and various scenes from the middle of the book. Some are from early drafts and some didn’t appear until later in the editorial process. The one thing all of these have in common is that they didn’t make the final cut. 

Today (in an effort to keep at least one of the days 100% spoiler-free), I’m not sharing a deleted scene. Instead, you get an extended look at a short story set within The Dream War Saga universe. It was published in the Doorways to Extra Time anthology in 2013 and it features a character that those of you who have already read SING SWEET NIGHTINGALE may remember hearing about! To kick off the tour, here it is, an excerpt from “Whatever it Takes.” 

         Looking back on the whole process of writing and revising my debut novel, SING SWEET NIGHTINGALE, I might have been in a slightly masochistic mood when I thought, “Yeah, it’d be a great idea to have a narrator who made a vow of silence!”
~*~
"Whatever it Takes"


 My mother always told me that you could make anything happen if you wanted it bad enough. Anything, she promised.
Problem is, even she thinks what I want is impossible.
The one thing I want is to change a night I can never get back. The night I could’ve saved him. I want that chance more than I want food, water, and air combined, but everyone tells me it’s impossible. “There’s no use crying over spilled milk.” “You can’t unring a bell.” “Those who walk looking backward fall behind.” It all translates to one thing: you can’t change the past, so don’t bother trying.
I don’t buy it. Mom told me I could make anything happen, and I’ve always believed that line more than she has.
When I was little, I saw a man disappear before my eyes. I was in a park at the edge of town. Although the playground was crowded, the rest of the park was almost deserted. I saw a man in a purple coat standing in the middle of a field, his arms stretched high over his head. He was gone before I could get anyone’s attention. Vanished. Nothing to hide behind and no holes to drop down into. I know. I looked. My mom didn’t believe me, but I know what I saw.
That one instant made me think that the word “impossible” is overused. It’s why I’ve taken the train a couple hours north of New York City, to a town most people haven’t even heard of, so I can go to a store most people avoid, and ask a question most people would call ridiculous. I’m here because, despite my belief in possibilities, I’ve run into too many dead ends on my search for the key to time.
In my research, one name kept coming up—“DreamWeaver.” First, a girl in the New Age store near my house told me DreamWeaver could answer any questions I had. Then, on certain forums, quoting DreamWeaver was akin to quoting an encyclopedia. I even found the name referenced on a scientific site as someone capable of blending science and pagan philosophy into something almost believable.
DreamWeaver ran a blog called The Mystical Demystified. The more posts I read, the more I knew that this person could help me. The problem? No one had any idea how to find them. It took bribing a hacker at school to figure out that the person behind the pseudonym operated out of a New Age store a couple hours north of New York City.
Only when I’m actually standing outside the shop do I hesitate. The place is called Martha’s Magic Market and behind the large glass window is a red-velvet-draped display with a mix of books, rocks, crystal wands, and incense. Through a crack in the drape, I see a girl with neon-blue hair staring at a computer screen. My hopes falter. This is a bad idea. Even someone who works in a magic store will probably think I’m crazy.
This is my last chance, though. The only way I can cope, even if the doctors keep telling me otherwise. Taking a deep breath, I put my hand on the cool glass and open the door to the tinkling of wind chimes.
The blue-haired girl doesn’t even look up from the screen as she calls out, “Welcome to Martha’s Magic Market. How can I make your day more magical?”
“Are you DreamWeaver?” I ask.
The girl’s head snaps up and her hand jerks, sending the mouse flying into the wall. She cringes and quickly bends down to pick it up as she mutters, “So much for online anonymity.”
My pulse picks up as I walk toward her. She can’t deny it after that reaction. I stop a few feet away from the counter, the weight of her stare holding me at bay. Her gaze roams my face, studying my features in detail, but lingers for a strange amount of time on my hair. I dyed my hair black last year, but the color is downright normal next to the bright-blue cascading down her back.
“You are DreamWeaver, aren’t you?”
“My name is Aisling, not DreamWeaver,” she says. I nod and start to talk, but she cuts me off before I can say anything. “Have you been having weird dreams lately?”
My mouth snaps shut. Weird, no. Hauntingly terrifying, yes.
It’s practically instinct to lie when someone asks me this—I had to start telling my parents the nightmares stopped or they would’ve dragged me to another shrink—but when I try to now, I feel like my tongue has been glued to the roof of my mouth. I struggle for a moment before I stop to think about what I’m doing. Why lie to her? The worst that can happen is she’ll think I’m pathetic for still dreaming about something that happened a year ago. Might as well tell her the truth.
As soon as I make that decision, my tongue releases. I clear my throat. Before I can say anything, though, Aisling says, “What I mean is, have your dreams featured anything or anyone supernatural?”
“No, just memories.” Horrible ones I can’t erase. “I’ve had the same nightmare every night for a year. There’s no space in my head for anything else.”
Aisling exhales and nods, her eyes narrowing as she asks, “What’s your name?”
“Valari.”
“Who’d you lose, Valley?”
My heart jumps. How does she know to call me that? Only Will ever called me Valley. He was the only one I let get away with it because he was my Will and I was his Valley. I clamp down on my memories and answer her question. “My best friend.”
“More than that.” Aisling eyes the air around me like she’s reading the story of my life in waves coming off my body. “There’s too much distress for this to be just simple friendship.”
My hope blooms, and I pray I’m right about Aisling. “I love him. I just never got the chance to tell him that.”
A shadow passes over her face, but she shakes it off fast as she leans forward, her bright-blue hair swinging over her shoulder and clashing with her pumpkin-orange shirt. “You think you’re the only one who wants to bring back someone they love? Everyone loses someone. It’s inevitable. Everyone thinks they’re willing to give up everything to get that person back. There aren’t many who are actually capable of it.”
My breath catches in my throat as my brain processes her words. Nowhere in that speech did she say what I wanted was impossible. She just said most people aren’t willing to make the necessary sacrifice.
“I’ll do it. Anything. Whatever it takes.”
Aisling looks at me, a new weight to her gaze. I stand silently as she studies me, fingering the torn pocket of my jeans and holding my breath. It feels like she’s looking at something that isn’t really there, seeing me and somehow seeing something else at the same time. She climbs off the stool she’s sitting on and walks around the counter. When she steps closer, I notice her eyes are so dark I can’t tell where the iris ends and the pupil begins. I’ve never seen eyes that black before.
Blinking slowly, Aisling seems to shake herself out of some kind of trance. She brushes past me, locks the front door, and hangs an “Out to Lunch” sign on the glass.
When she turns to face me, she nods her head toward a door in the opposite wall and heads to it, obviously expecting me to follow. We cross through a heavy brocade curtain into a small room filled with overstuffed couches and armchairs. The whole room is lit only by candlelight, and incense smoke hangs heavily in the air, burning my nose. Tapestries adorn the walls and fluffy blankets have been thrown over a few of the cushions. She points to one of the armchairs and sits down.
“Tell me what happened.”
Will’s face immediately fills my mind. Sandy-brown hair that always seemed to fall into his sapphire eyes, round face and perfect skin marred only by the thin scar on his left cheekbone—a scar I gave him. Willem King had been my best friend since he shared his dessert with me in third grade. He lived in my neighborhood, was in my class most years, and stuck by me even when it was uncool to be friends with a girl. He smoothed over all the rough patches of adolescence for me, carrying me from graceless preteen to celebrated centerpiece of the school, but he never expected anything from me. Not even thanks. And the one time he needed my help, I turned my back on him.
“Will and I had a fight because I was supposed to go out with this guy and Will was trying to get me to cancel.” I shudder and look down at the floor. Will had been right, of course. More than he knew. Why hadn’t I listened to him?
“He had a game the next night, and I went on my date instead of watching him play. Wires got crossed and his friends with cars left him there. His parents wouldn’t pick him up. I wouldn’t answer the phone.”
I couldn’t answer the phone because, by then, I was in the grip of Tommy Boggs, psycho-asshole extraordinaire. He threw my phone out the window when he saw who was calling. Then he took something from me I never wanted to give him.
My voice is dead as I recite the facts, the little bits of truth that my brain distorts into nightmares night after night, combining the pain of what happened to me that night with the horror of finding out what happened to Will.
“Will got hit by a car while he was walking home. It was a hit-and-run. They still don’t know who did it. He died from internal bleeding. Alone. On the side of the road.”
I look up into Aisling’s dark eyes and am suddenly frozen in place. I feel like someone is rifling through my thoughts like they’re files in a cabinet. It’s impossible to know how long we sit there, but finally she sighs and blinks, releasing me at last. My eyes are so dry they burn as I blink to refocus them. What just happened?
Aisling sits with her legs pulled in to her chest and her chin resting on her knees. It seems like she’s muttering to, or maybe arguing with, herself. Eventually, Aisling lets her legs slide back down to the couch and focuses on me.
“What, exactly, are you hoping to do?”
“To go back to that night. I want to stop it from happening. I want to save him.”
Aisling seems relieved. I’m not sure I want to know what she feared I might say.
“For most people, that would be impossible, but you…” She falls silent and her gaze bores into mine again. “Do you believe in extrasensory perception? ESP?”
Do I believe in ESP? I’m asking her to help me go back in time, and she’s actually asking me if I believe in ESP?
I meet her eyes and nod. If she picks up on the jagged, sarcastic edges to my thoughts, she ignores them. Instead, she gets up and walks back into the store; only a quick glance at me over her shoulder tells me I should be following.
“Humans are capable of a lot more than we use,” she says as she grabs a book off a shelf. “Don’t get me wrong, most of the stories you hear about psychics and telepaths or whatever are complete crap, but that’s because the world is made for normal, not extraordinary. People who actually have these abilities know better than to go shouting about them.”
She stops walking and stares at me again. There’s a warning in her dark eyes. If you pull this off, shut up, she seems to be telling me. Who would I tell, though? Or, really, who would believe me? Once she believes that I understand, she starts walking again, this time heading to a display of stones and crystals.
“Everyone has some exceptional skill.” Aisling picks a small basket up off the floor and starts filling it with stones from the display. “Most of the time, people need an external prod to turn that skill into what most people would call magic. It’s rare that someone develops this on their own, but willpower is an incredible thing.”
She walks over to a wall of candles and adds a few of them to the basket, then browses a row of incense until she finds what she’s looking for and adds that too. I hold my breath waiting for her next words, because I have a feeling that what she’s about to say will change my life. And save Will’s.
I follow her over to the register and watch as she lays out her collection for me to see. Only after she’s done does she take a deep breath and continue talking.
“Sometimes someone wants something so badly they create in themselves the power to make it happen. I think you may be one of those people, Valari. I can’t guarantee anything, but I think you may be able to pull this off.”
At last. For the first time in thirteen months, I let myself smile.
Aisling raises an eyebrow. “Don’t get giddy yet. This is going to be expensive, but if you want this as badly as you say you do, you’ll follow my instructions.”
She stares at me, her dark eyes boring into mine. I meet her stare for stare.
“Whatever it takes,” I repeat. I’m coming back for you, Will. Whatever it takes.
“The time jump won’t work the first time you try it,” Aisling says as she rings up my supplies.
I watch the total growing higher and higher with a knot in my stomach. If this doesn’t work, how am I going to explain spending all this money to Mom?
Aisling snaps her fingers in front of my face. “Hey! It won’t work the first time. It may not work the tenth time, but it will work eventually if you keep at it. Maybe not for as long as you hope, but you should be able to get half an hour. An hour at most. Luckily, when you’re dealing with time, it doesn’t matter when it works or how long it works for, as long as it does.”
Aisling writes me out a set of instructions and passes them across the counter. I look it over, but the directions don’t make sense—they seem too simple. It doesn’t matter, though. I have real hope for the first time since my life fell apart. I will follow her directives to the letter because I’m not giving up before I’ve tried everything— even something that doesn’t seem like it’ll work.
I pay for everything with my emergency-only credit card and try to restrain myself from gushing when I thank the only person who has truly helped me. Then I turn to go. Before I reach the door, Aisling calls me back.
“Hey, Valari. How did you find me?”
“Your ISP address, I think? Something like that.”
She stares at me, her eyebrows furrowed and her lips tight. “I don’t even know what that is. Ugh. Whatever. Good luck. Don’t tell anyone you were here.”
Since I barely understand ISPs myself, I can’t explain it to her. I just nod and walk out onto the street, carrying my last hope to put my life back together.
This better work. I’m putting my last eggs in this basket. If I fail this time, I don’t think I’ll be able to keep going anymore.

My mother always told me that you could make anything happen if you wanted it bad enough. Anything, she promised.



~*~

You cut so much before publishing SING SWEET NIGHTINGALE. Do you have any advice on when to cut the cord that you can share with fellow writers, especially with so many diving into NaNoWrimo this month?

When you’re drafting, don’t even think about cutting! Wipe that from your mind entirely, especially during a time-intensive writing month like NaNo. A lot of times, an author has to write certain scenes and moments not because they belong in the book but because the author has to learn something about the characters or their own writing. Once you have a complete (or semi-complete) first draft, then you go back through it (hopefully after having stepped away from it for a little while) to see what really needs to be there.

For me, feedback is crucial in the editorial/cutting process. I am horrible at editing my own things without some sort of outside assistance. I’ve built up a fantastic pool of beta readers over the years who are each great at spotting certain kinds of issues (plot or character or worldbuilding or details, etc.) and my editorial team at Spencer Hill is fantastic. I rely on their eyes and their advice heavily. The important thing to remember is that not every note is going to be right, but if multiple people tell you that there’s a problem with a certain section of your book, you should take a serious look at cutting/changing that section.

Is there one deleted scene that you regret leaving out?

To be completely honest, there is one section of the book that it nearly killed me to cut and that section is the core of this entire tour. Before I agreed to lose it from the book, I made my editors promise me I could put it online because I thought that it explained so much and because I just loved it. It’s the second to last scene that will appear in the tour (since we’re presenting the scenes in chronological order) and it’s entirely from Mariella’s POV. I don’t want to say too much about it hear because I’m trying to keep this day spoiler-free, but I am SO EXCITED to be sharing this particular segment with the world and wish SO MUCH that it could have stayed in the book. The problem was that editorial readers kept commenting on how long the resolution of my book went on. There’s the final confrontation and then there’s still a whole chunk of book to get through because the aftermath isn’t something that can be summed up in a chapter. The aftermath is as much a part of the climax of the book as the final confrontation. Too many people said it dragged too much, though, so this section was sacrificed to the gods of better pacing. It still makes me sad.

What sort of worldbuilding went into creating Paradise and the dream world?

Brief answer, a lot. There is a lot of worldbuilding involved in Paradise, 75% of which you never really see in the books.

Long answer is harder to explain. My method of plotting and worldbuilding is a little hard to categorize, analyze, or define because it changes a lot with each project. The closest I can come to describing it is saying I use an “If…then” style method. Well, if this happens, then obviously that would be how Character A would react. Well, if that were possible in this world, then this would be how it could backfire. Well, if this happened to Character B when they were a kid, then that is how they’d react to this situation. When I started writing about the dreamworld, I knew certain basic rules: 

1) it was a world of energy where matter could be changed in form, but neither created nor destroyed and 2) the creatures born there couldn’t leave, but humans could physically enter the dreamworld. From there, other rules and restrictions fell into place as situations and problems arose in the story. 

I wish I could say I was organized enough to have a whole color-coded series bible with all of the information ever about everything, but… yeah. I don’t. Mostly I keep everything straight because it all works on my own strangely twisted logic. The hardest thing, actually, is portraying all of the underlying rules and the hidden actions. There is a LOT going on in the dreamworld that Mariella and Hudson are completely unaware of. The reader knows what the character knows, but there characters are missing a lot of information and making assumptions about really big things based on tiny bits of information that they have. Hudson, for example, assumes that the doors to the dreamworld can only open at midnight simply because he’s only seen them open at midnight. It’s not until Orane proves him wrong that he even thinks about challenging that assumption.

What writing advice would you give to someone that you, personally, can't live without when writing?

You can’t edit something that doesn’t exist.

Drafting sucks for me. I love the beginning of a book, but once I hit the middle of the second third, I get bogged down and lost. Even if I know where I have to go, it’s almost always a fight to get there. I recently described the way I think about drafting like this—it’s a lot like sculpting. When you start, you have a huge block of marble (or wood or clay or glass or whatever) and the possibilities are nearly limitless. You can transform this block into anything because you have a blank canvas. Then you start making cuts and with each successive chip, you eliminate another group of possibilities. The more you chip, the more options you lose until you get to the point where you can only create a handful of things anymore.

The more I chip away, the harder it gets for me to make decisions (which is almost counterintuitive since it seems like it’d be easier to choose between three options instead of three-hundred). When I’m working on a first draft, I just keep reminding myself that I can fix it later. It can and will be massively edited. I can fix plot holes and motivation issues and whatever else crops up later. If I don’t push through the moments I feel completely bogged down, though, I don’t have anything to edit. I don’t have a book.

What tricks do you use to stay motivated and inspired when seeing a writing project through to the end without giving up or getting distracted by something new and shiny?

Deadlines help with this a LOT. Before I had actual contracts and editors and deadlines, I tended to project-hop extensively. I have something like 35 partially completed projects sitting in different folders and most of them will probably never be finished. Now I really try to keep myself to working on one or two books at a time until they’re done. If I have the beginnings of an idea, I write it down with just enough detail to be able to go back to it and make sense of it later, but I try not to let myself get suckered into playing with every new shiny idea I get. If I did, I’d never finish anything!

  ~*~
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Title: SING SWEET NIGHTINGALE
Author: Erica Cameron
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17558817-be-with-me
SUMMARY:

Mariella Teagen hasn't spoken a word in four years.

She pledged her voice to Orane, the man she loves—someone she only sees in her dreams. Each night, she escapes to Paradise, the world Orane created for her, and she sings for him. Mariella never believed she could stay in Paradise longer than a night, but two weeks before her eighteenth birthday, Orane hints that she may be able to stay forever.

Hudson Vincent made a pledge to never fight again.

Calease, the creature who created his dream world, swore that giving up violence would protect Hudson. But when his vow caused the death of his little brother, Hudson turned his grief on Calease and destroyed the dream world. The battle left him with new abilities and disturbing visions of a silent girl in grave danger—Mariella.

Now, Hudson is fighting to save Mariella's life while she fights to give it away. And he must find a way to show her Orane’s true intentions before she is lost to Paradise forever.

BUY NOW:   AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE
~*~
****Giveaway*****

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Comments

  1. I absolutely loved Sing Sweet Nightingale and cannot wait to read Deadly Sweet Lies. I am excited to see all the characters hopefully working together and solving the issues they face from the dream world.

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