Author: Chelsea Campbell

Free Audiobooks – First Come, First Serve!

I have audiobook promo codes for three of my books, The Rise of Renegade X, The Trials of Renegade X, and Harper Madigan: Junior High Private Eye. You need to have an account at either the US or UK Audible stores to redeem them.

If you’re interested, just email me at campchelsea@gmail.com and let me know which ones you’d like and whether you’re in the US or the UK. I’ll update this list if I run out of codes, so if you see it here and you want it, please contact me! :D

Availability:

The Rise of Renegade X (US/UK)

The Trials of Renegade X (US/UK)

Harper Madigan: Junior High Private Eye (US/UK)

Found Fiction Intro and The Silent Muppet Show

I recently discovered a TREASURE TROVE of my old writing files. Old backups that were on Chloe’s computer that I thought I’d never *have to* look at again. I had a vague idea that these files were probably still around somewhere, but I honestly thought all this old stuff was garbage that I was better off without. I would cringe every time I remembered these old stories and novels I wrote back in the day. (“Back in the day” in this case meaning about 10 – 20 years ago.)

And then my laptop died (along with my hard drive that had my visual novel on it, that I hadn’t backed up in almost a year, because it was fun and easy to write and “didn’t matter” -__-; but hopefully I can have it repaired someday), and I needed to look at some backup files, and, well, long story short, I now have a folder on my computer with ALL my old stuff in it.

And it’s, like, actually good. I mean, not all of it. Especially the old novels. Some of those are pretty bad. But not nearly as bad as I thought. But a lot of the short stories are pretty good, and none of them deserved the harsh judgments I made and have been carrying around with me for decades. Geez. And many “truths” that I’ve thought about myself, like that I was terrible at writing 3rd person past tense and didn’t find my voice or get good at writing until I switched to 1st person present tense, are complete nonsense.

Just a side note: I don’t consider myself a short-story writer. I “hardly ever” wrote any of them, according to my memory, which I’m starting to not trust at all, yet I have probably about 40k of short stories lying around. Back in the day, it was considered “the thing to do” to get short stories published first, to build up writing credits, so you could then somehow transfer this success into getting a novel published, even though novels and short stories are extremely different and being able to write one doesn’t at all guarantee you could write the other, and I’m not sure that advice ever made sense. For the record, writing short stories didn’t get me anywhere, but looking back on them now is kind of fun, and there are some real gems in my new treasure trove.

So, I thought I’d share some of these with you guys, starting with a short (and incomplete) mashup of The Muppet Show and Silent Hill that I started one year as something silly to do for Nano. This is 2,601 words, written during the first hour of Nano in… maybe 2010? 2009? There was, like, some kind of writing race where whoever writes the most words in that first hour gets a prize, and I like prizes, so I wrote super fast and won. (No idea what the prize was now. Maybe a pen that changed colors based on mood or something?) I’m usually a 500 – 1000 words an hour person, and while you would think writing faster than that might make the quality go down, if anything, writing as fast as I can tends to make it go up. (And yet, even knowing this, getting myself to do that instead of worrying constantly about every little choice I’m making is super hard.)

For instance, one of the things I found in that old treasure trove was my prewriting for Renegade X. It was about 35k, written super fast over a week, and it’s mostly just him talking about his life and explaining it to the audience, a.k.a. me, and I don’t think I ever read over a word of it after writing it. I thought for sure it was garbage. But… it reads just fine. It could have been the book, except for the fact that it would be weird to tell the whole story that way, with him just telling us about his life. I might post a little bit of this later. We’ll see. But I remember it as having no voice and not sounding like Damien at all and being just complete garbage up until the moment I decided I was now writing “for real” and that it was the start of the book. But, like, it totally has voice and is funny and is Damien, and I’ve apparently had no idea what I was talking about for the past 12.5 years. O__o

I think there’s a lesson to be learned here about perfectionism and judging things too harshly and writing like the wind and not worrying about things being good enough. Which is all easier said than done. I have a tendency to think whatever I’m working on in the moment is terrible, and then look back on it a few days or weeks or years later and realize it’s actually really good and that all my self-doubt was just me being crazy. (But having faith in yourself when your brain is telling you it’s bad for realsies this time is hard.)

Not sure who else needs to hear this besides me, but I think the takeaway here is that the sky’s the limit, you are awesome, and you’re capable of more than you think. Yes, really, even now.

Anyway, onto The Silent Muppet Show! The premise is that the muppets lose their studio and are going to have to move to Silent Hill. I only ever worked on it for that first hour, probably because I had no real idea what I was going to do with it.

This is completely unedited.

The Silent Muppet Show

by Chelsea M. Campbell

When the crew of the Muppet Show lost their Hollywood studio, there were a lot of frogs and pigs and dogs and crazy animals with nowhere to go. Kermit promised them everything would be okay, they just had to stick together, but things were getting bleak.

“This came for you, boss,” Rizzo the rat said, handing Kermit a very official looking piece of paper. It had a seal at the bottom and everything.

Kermit took the roll of paper from the rat. “Gee, what could this be?”

“I don’t know, but it’s from the studio execs. It looks real important…” Rizzo stopped talking, distracted by a snack cart someone was rolling through the studio. “Uh… I’ll be right back!” he shouted, forgetting about Kermit and the letter and running after the food.

Kermit scratched his head.

“Oh, Kermy,” Miss Piggy said, running up to him, “what is it?”

“I don’t know, Piggy. Looks like something official from the studio executives. Maybe it’s that bonus I’ve been asking them for. You know, so we can all get real beds instead of sleeping in the studio locker room.”

Miss Piggy clasped her hands together. She was wearing white gloves and a sparkling purple evening dress. “I hope so. And then maybe just the two of us can take a teeny tiny trip to France, just you and moi.”

Kermit swallowed hard, making a “gulp” noise, and ignored her. He held up the rolled parchment paper. “Well, here goes.” Slowly, he broke the seal and pealed it off. He carefully unrolled the paper, with Miss Piggy holding her breath next to him. This could be their big chance to get some extra funding, to finally get the break he knew everyone deserved. He’d been promising them big things for a while now, and while the show was doing well, Kermit felt they could go so much farther if they just put their hearts into it.

He finished unrolling the paper and held it out so Piggy could see it at the same time. He read it out loud: “‘Dear Muppet Show cast, we, the senior executives, hereby being much bigger, better, and richer than you, have decided to close the studio. You have five minutes to get out. Sincerely, the people who own your studio.'”

Kermit stared at the paper. Was it real? Was this a joke? Did they realize how many animals they’d be putting out on the street?

“Oh, Kermy!” Miss Piggy whined. “They can’t do this to moi! I mean, us! Think of the children.”

“What children, Miss Piggy?”

“The ones we were going to have someday. Two little girls with darling blond curls who look just like me.”

“Piggy, I think we have bigger things to worry about than our, um, possible future together. We have to tell the gang we’ve only got–“

The lights in the studio died, sending everything into pitch blackness. A voice over a loud speaker shouted, “Muppet Studios closing forever in one minute!”

There was a crash sound and Gonzo’s rough voice screaming, “Whoops!” Kermit heard him skidding on the floor and landing in a pile of film cans with a loud clang. “Oh, oh, Kermit!” he shouted, getting up. “Is that you?”

“No,” Miss Piggy growled. “If you know what’s good for you,” she said through clenched teeth, “you’ll Get. Your. Hand. OFF of me!”

Gonzo chuckled to himself and backed away. “Sorry, Piggy.” He turned to Kermit, feeling for him in the dark. “Is that you, Kermit?”

“It’s me, Gonzo. We’ve got terrible news. The studio executives are closing down our building. This is…”

“This is TERRIBLE!” Gonzo wailed. He flailed his hands around, accidentally smacking Kermit in the face and knocking him over.

“Calm down!” Kermit said, picking himself back up while trying to avoid getting hit by Gonzo again.

More muppets joined them, crowding together in the dark.

“Kermit,” Fozzie’s voice said out of the crowd, “is it true?”

“Yeah,” Rowlf said, “is this really the end of the show?”

Dozens of voices burst into argument and complaint, bewailing the loss of the Muppet Show already.

“If everyone could just calm down,” Kermit said, “then we could figure something–“

“We’re all going to be homeless!” a voice shouted.

“And I’ve got nine hundred brothers and sisters!” Rizzo cried.

“Could everyone just BE QUIIIEET!” Kermit screamed at the top of his lungs.

Everyone shut up.

When Kermit finished panting after his outburst, he said in a calm voice, “Listen, gang, we’ve fallen on hard times before. The important thing is to stick together and not let this divide us. We’re… we’re going to be okay, and so is the Muppet Show. We’re not going to let a little thing like the studio shutting us down get in our way! We’re not going to let a little snag like getting turned out on the streets stop us from being happy! We had a dream, and that dream came true, but now that it’s threatened, we’re not going to let it die! Isn’t that right, guys?”

Silence.

“Guys?”

There was grumbling, and then the sound of everyone walking away.

Miss Piggy put her hand on Kermit’s shoulder. “It’s okay, Kermy. I won’t leave you. Even if you are a homeless frog with no income or future and… I’m just going to step over here and use my cell phone for a teensy tiny minute.”

Miss Piggy took out her cell phone, its blue screen the only light in the building, and stepped into the corner to make a call. “Hello, Frank?” she muttered into the phone, “this is pig. Got any new gigs for me?”

Kermit sighed. They’d been closed down for less than ten minutes, and already even Miss Piggy was giving up on him. “Well, I’m not giving up!” he shouted into the darkness, pounding his fist into his open palm. “I had a dream, and I’m not satisfied with letting it go just like that!”

“We’re with you, Kermit,” Fozzie said.

Kermit heard muffled agreement from a handful of his friends still standing by him. In the corner, Miss Piggy grumbled into her phone, “What? No one wants to hire a pig? Don’t you dare bring up my thighs–” She snapped her phone shut, then came over to join the others, tripping over Gonzo on the way.

“Ha ha ha,” she said, forcing a laugh. She cleared her throat. “That was… My mother. So, Kermit, do you have a plan?”

Kermit knew Miss Piggy was here because her agent hadn’t had any other jobs for her, but he appreciated her presence anyway, even if he questioned whether her heart was really in this.

“Yeah, Kermit,” Rowlf said. “Tell us the plan.”

“I, well…” Even in the pitch blackness, Kermit could feel their eyes all on him, looking for answers. Sometimes Kermit didn’t have the answers, but when you were the leader of the Muppet Show, you had act like one, and sometimes that meant giving people hope, even when there was none. “Of course I have a plan! We’re… We’ll just have to find another studio!” It was so simple, it had to work. Why couldn’t they find one? There had to be tons of other places out there, and the Muppet Show was doing really well. They’d find another studio interested in their work, and everything would be great again. Maybe this was an opportunity in disguise. They could find an even better studio with a bigger locker room and more snacks.

“Another studio?” everyone said at once.

“Another studio,” Kermit confirmed. “It’s our only choice.”

***

They spent the night in the street. It was cold, and they had to huddle together for warmth. Unfortunately, or maybe thankfully, Rizzo’s giant family abandoned them for a restaurant with poor health standards, leaving them with nine hundred less warm bodies to huddle with. But that also meant nine hundred less to feed, and no offense to Rizzo, but rats were kind of filthy.

“It’s going to be okay,” Kermit kept telling everyone. He looked out at their miserable faces, sleeping on the streets of Hollywood in the middle of winter, packed close for warmth, and wished he could offer them more than a little hope. He was their leader, and he was leading, and sometimes that made a real difference. People needed someone to look to in times of trouble, and if Kermit had to be that person, then he had to be that person, no questions asked.

“Kermy,” Miss Piggy whined, “I’m cold.” She snuggled closer to him–a little too close.

Out of a studio full of animals, there was only Kermit, Piggy, Gonzo, Rizzo, Rowlf, Scooter, Fozzie, and Gonzo’s chicken friend, Camilla. That was nine muppets to take care of on the mean streets of Hollywood.

“Don’t worry, guys,” Kermit assured them. “We’ll find a new studio in the morning.”

Everyone slept terribly, and it was cold and it rained partway through the night, so they had to try to find shelter. They ended up sleeping under the overhang of the roof at the Chinese theater, with all the footprints of famous stars in the cement. Kermit’s own footprints were there. He liked to compare his feet with them, to see if they were still the same, but tonight it didn’t seem appropriate, just sad.

In the morning, nine disgruntled muppets woke on the busy streets at the crack of dawn. Their breath puffed out in front of them in the freezing air. Kermit, true to his word, lead the gang all through Hollywood, looking for a new studio. By lunchtime, they hadn’t had any luck, and they were all starving.

“Okay,” Kermit said, addressing the gang, “let’s split up. The rest of you go with Gonzo to find some food and hopefully some lodgings, in case this… in case our new studio doesn’t have accommodations. And I’ll keep up the search.” He smiled at everyone, doing his best to reassure them in a terrible situation. Nobody looked all that assured, though. In fact, they looked plain miserable. But they hadn’t given up on him yet, and that was what counted.

Kermit spent the rest of the day cold and hungry and looking for a new studio. He pitched the show to a dozen studio execs, but they all shook their heads before he’d even gotten through with his spiel. It seemed like nobody wanted a variety show about dancing pigs and chickens and a dog that played piano. Kermit thought they had a good track record, but maybe no one was watching anymore and that was why no one wanted to see it and why their studio had been closed down in the first place. He hoped the others were having more luck.

When he met up with them in the park later, he was starving. His stomach growled and his head hurt from not eating. He was dizzy and worn out and, worst of all, every studio in town had told him no. They’d all turned him down. This had never happened before. Even in their darkest hour, the muppets had always found someone willing to take them on. Had their ideas gone stale? Did no one care about a zany show full of animals dancing and singing? Well, no one ever said life was easy, or that living your dream meant things had to stay that way.

But when he met with the others in the park, Gonzo was bursting to tell him some good news. “Kermit!” he shouted. “Guess what!”

Camilla made excited clucking noises at him, tilting her head back and forth and flapping her wings.

“Camilla!” Gonzo whined. “I was going to tell him!”

“Tell me what?!” Kermit shouted.

“Oh, Kermy,” Miss Piggy said, stepping up, “we’ve found another studio!”

“You did?” He couldn’t believe it. His heart pounded, threatening to burst out of his chest. “Where?”

“It’s in a resort town,” Gonzo said quickly, beating Piggy to it, “called Silent Hill.”

“They’ve got everything a muppet could want,” Rowlf continued. “A piano, and a… piano. Well, that’s all I need.”

Kermit looked from one face to another, scanning his friends’ expressions. “A resort town?”

“Yeah,” Rizzo said. “My cousin Murphy hooked us up. The town’s a little down on its luck right now, and they could use our, uh, colorful brand of entertainment.”

Kermit was a bit hesitant to trust anything that had come from one of Rizzo’s relatives, but how could they turn it down? It was perfect. “That’s just what we need! A town that needs us. We’ll not only bring back the Muppet Show, but we’ll cheer those folks right up and they’ll see, before they know it, their town will be thriving and full of people again!”

“Good,” Gonzo said with a nod. “Then we’ll leave tomorrow.”

***

Getting on the bus was difficult. They didn’t have the fare needed for even one of them to go, let alone nine of them. Getting across the country was going to be hard. Especially when Miss Piggy refused to sell her jewelry. In fact, she pretended like she didn’t have at all.

“Why, plain old moi?” she said, batting her eyelashes and laughing. “You know I prefer to show off the plain beauty of a country sow. Ha ha ha. Why would moi ever need a flashy thing like jewelry? It would only take away from my natural sophistication.”

“Please, Piggy, this is important,” Kermit pleaded, but Piggy wouldn’t budge.

That meant if they were going to get to Silent Hill and get their new show up and running, they were going to have to walk. But even Kermit couldn’t help noticing what a long trip that meant it was going to be. It would take them days, maybe even weeks, for nine muppets to walk that far. their only hope was to appeal to the kindness of the bus drivers, which wasn’t going so well.

Kermit swallowed when the doors of the bus opened, all eight of his friends standing hopefully behind him. “Excuse me, sir,” he said, pleading with the driver, “but we’re in a little trouble, and we were wondering if you could take us to Silent Hill.”

The bus driver didn’t look up from the steering wheel. “Yeah, this bus goes to Silent Hill.”

Kermit cleared his throat. “You see, kind sir, we’re a group of muppets down on our luck, and we’re a bit short on funding right now–“

“We’re dirt poor,” Miss Piggy said, shoving Kermit out of the way. She batted her eyelashes at the driver and smiled. “Please, Mr. bus driver, if you could just let us on, just this once, we’d be extremely grateful.”

The bus driver raised his eyebrows in confusion. “Are you coming onto me, lady? Because I’m not into pi–“

“Watch it with the pig jokes,” Piggy said, glaring hard at the bus driver.

“Fine,” he said, holding his hands up, “but nobody gets on for free. I’d lose my job. Now, if you’re not payin’, I’m not drivin’ ya.” He waited a second for the muppets to make up their mind. Kermit emptied his pockets and found only half a ball of lint. Sadly, he looked up at the driver and shook his head.

The bus door closed, almost snapping shut on Kermit, and the bus zoomed off into the distance, leaving a huge cloud of dust behind it. If they were going to get to Silent Hill, this obviously wasn’t the way.

Kermit walked with the gang down the road.

The Rivalry of Renegade X is finally upon us!

BOOK 5 IS OUT!!!! (Can you believe this is seriously book 5? It only took, er, 12 and a half years to get here…) This book was a lot of fun to write, and I’m glad I get to do ridiculous things like tell stories about annoying, interdimensional do-gooding twins, lol.

To celebrate, the whole series is on sale right now, including Rivalry. And the novellas are free. The sale will last until February 3rd, but the novellas will only be free for a few days, so grab them while you can.

A tale of two Damiens.

After ruining the annual Tines family barbecue by retaliating against one of his stuck-up superhero cousins—who totally deserved it, no matter what anyone says—Damien just wants an easy summer. One that involves him and his friends hanging out and going on the occasional superhero mission. He doesn’t need his “good twin” from another dimension where he was raised by Gordon showing up and making a mess of everything, and he sure as hell doesn’t need him living at his house, doing chores without being asked, and generally being the perfect superhero son his family’s always wanted.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, his good twin refuses to lie low. He’s obsessed with doing good deeds and even volunteers to be his dad’s sidekick on his lame kids show. Damien soon has his hands full just trying to stop this guy from making him look like one of the stereotypical douchey heroes he’s always hated. And when his good twin starts to win over all his friends, it’s the last straw. Damien knows there’s only room for one of him in Golden City, and he’s more than ready to get rid of this guy.

But when Damien’s attempts to send him back home backfire and an “evil” version of his half brother Xavier shows up—as if Xavier could get any worse—the two Damiens will have to find a way to work together despite their differences. That is, if they want to thwart Xavier’s evil plans and stop him from erasing everyone they care about from existence.

Coming Next Week… The Rivalry of Renegade X!

Release Date: January 20th, 2020

A tale of two Damiens.

After ruining the annual Tines family barbecue by retaliating against one of his stuck-up superhero cousins—who totally deserved it, no matter what anyone says—Damien just wants an easy summer. One that involves him and his friends hanging out and going on the occasional superhero mission. He doesn’t need his “good twin” from another dimension where he was raised by Gordon showing up and making a mess of everything, and he sure as hell doesn’t need him living at his house, doing chores without being asked, and generally being the perfect superhero son his family’s always wanted.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, his good twin refuses to lie low. He’s obsessed with doing good deeds and even volunteers to be his dad’s sidekick on his lame kids show. Damien soon has his hands full just trying to stop this guy from making him look like one of the stereotypical douchey heroes he’s always hated. And when his good twin starts to win over all his friends, it’s the last straw. Damien knows there’s only room for one of him in Golden City, and he’s more than ready to get rid of this guy.

But when Damien’s attempts to send him back home backfire and an “evil” version of his half brother Xavier shows up—as if Xavier could get any worse—the two Damiens will have to find a way to work together despite their differences. That is, if they want to thwart Xavier’s evil plans and stop him from erasing everyone they care about from existence.

How I Chose the Perfect Narrator

Six years ago, when I’d just started self-publishing the Renegade X series, I decided I wanted to make an audiobook. Books 1 and 2 came out pretty much at the same time (book 2 actually came out about a week before book 1, but who’s counting?), and they were doing well enough to support taking a chance on something new.

But I was nervous about actually hearing someone voice my characters, especially Damien, because I already had an idea of how they sounded in my head and I didn’t want to risk ruining that. Not only did I need to find the right voice for Damien, but I also needed somebody who could pull off all the humor and get the timing right. And I’m super picky about narrators. The point is, I had to find someone who was just right, or else I wasn’t going to do it.

So I put up a request for auditions on ACX. I got a lot of of them, but it wasn’t until I went looking around at available narrators myself that I found someone. Phillip Russel Newman was really versatile and could pull off a variety of voices. I asked him to record an audition, and he agreed. And then I went to his website and saw that he had a business where people could pay him to go sing songs to their loved ones in public and embarrass the hell out of them. I mean, embarrassing the hell out of them wasn’t explicitly stated, but you could see just how embarrassed people were in the sample videos.

And that’s when I knew, before I even heard him audition, that he would be the perfect Damien. Because what’s more Damien than that? And of course when his audition came in, it was flawless, and his voices for everyone were spot on and hilarious. (The audition scene was from fairly late in book 1 when Damien’s on the phone with Kat, and Amelia’s getting ready for her party, and Gordon comes in and asks Damien if he put worms in his shampoo, which we all know he did.)

If you’re wondering why I chose now to tell this story, it’s because I have a kickstarter going right now to produce the next audiobook in the series, The Betrayal of Renegade X. We’re at 29% with just under three weeks left to go! But if we don’t hit the finish line within that time, the project won’t get funded and the audiobook won’t get made. So if you’ve enjoyed the first two audiobooks, please consider preordering book 3 through the kickstarter to ensure that it will exist, both for you and for future listeners to enjoy!

And if you’re new to the audiobooks, books 1 and 2 are already available in audio if you want to check them out or hear a sample.

Where I’m at on Book 5

I hit 25k on book 5, The Rivalry of Renegade X! Which just also happens to be the 25% mark, assuming this book ends up being the 100k I have planned. It’ll be a bit shorter than the last few books, but all my books have been coming out a bit shorter these days, so I thought I’d roll with it.

But I’ve already had my freak out where I get to about 1/4 – 1/3 of the way through the book and decide I need to delete everything and completely start over, only to realize a few days later that I’m insane and everything I had was great and exactly what it needed to be (and also hilarious), and then put everything back to normal and move on. This happens every freaking time with Renegade X books, and I have no idea why! Sometimes at this point in the book, I really do need to reassess where it’s going moving forward, and sometimes that means going back and adding things in, but I rarely end up cutting anything, and certainly not the whole thing. Geez.

I do remember in book 2 having to rewrite that scene where Damien goes over to Sarah’s and they’re working on the personality enhancer, like, a million times. It was originally about something completely different! I’m pretty sure Riley wasn’t even there! I hadn’t figured out what the book was really about yet or, more importantly, what the characters really wanted from each other, and once I did, it all clicked into place.

Anyway, I’m loving working on book 5. It’s hilarious and fun and full of crazy hijinx!

After ruining the annual Tines family barbecue by retaliating against one of his stuck-up superhero cousins—who totally deserved it, no matter what anyone says—Damien just wants an easy summer. One that involves him and his friends hanging out and going on the occasional superhero mission. He doesn’t need his “good twin” from another dimension where he was raised by Gordon showing up and making a mess of everything, and he sure as hell doesn’t need him living at his house, doing chores without being asked, and generally being the perfect superhero son his family’s always wanted.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, his good twin refuses to lie low. He’s obsessed with doing good deeds and even volunteers to be his dad’s sidekick on his lame kids show. Damien soon has his hands full just trying to stop this guy from making him look like one of the stereotypical douchey heroes he’s always hated. And when his good twin starts to win over all his friends, it’s the last straw. Damien knows there’s only room for one of him in Golden City, and he’s more than ready to get rid of this guy.

But when Damien’s attempts to send him back home backfire and an “evil” version of his half brother Xavier shows up—as if Xavier could get any worse—the two Damiens will have to find a way to work together despite their differences. That is, if they want to stop Xavier’s evil plans and make sure there’s still another dimension to go back to.