Chelsea Campbell’s FIRE & CHASM, a dark fantasy in which a teen boy with no memory of his childhood puts his murderous impulses to work assassinating wizards in the war between adherents of the church and practitioners of magic, until he discovers one of his targets holds the key to unlocking his forgotten past, pitched as Dexter meets THE AMULET OF SAMARKAND, to Miriam Juskowicz at Skyscape by Holly Root at Waxman Leavell Literary Agency (World).
A million years ago–or maybe it was more like eight–I wrote a book. I freaking loved that book and I put everything I had into it, and I really thought it was The One. (For those of you keeping track, I’ve talked about this book before.) It wasn’t my first book, or the first book I’d sent out–not by a longshot–but it was noticeably better than anything else I’d written. (Little known fact: I actually participated in Miss Snark’s first critique thingy where you sent in your first page and she told you what for. She actually liked mine. My hopes skyrocketed.) I sent it out to agents. I got my first ever request for a partial. Then another request for a partial that later turned into request for a full.
I honestly thought I’d made it, that this was it and life was going to be good from here on out because I was going to get an agent, get published, and have my dream career. (Ha! Life so isn’t like that, and publishing even less so, but it certainly felt comforting to think so at the time.)
But this book I’m talking about, this was not Renegade X. And Renegade X was my first book that got me an agent and got published, so you can probably guess where this is going.
The agents who were reading it rejected it. I never got any more requests. I tweaked my query letter endlessly and kept sending it out, even though I kind of suspected at this point that it wasn’t going to make it. And it didn’t. And I was kind of heartbroken about it for awhile. (Okay, really heartbroken.)
I was mad at myself for believing in that book, for loving those characters and that story so freaking much. I felt like the book had betrayed me by getting my hopes up and then not being good enough. I forced myself to keep writing, even though my heart kind of wasn’t in it right then, and had a couple false starts with new books that only made me more stressed and frustrated.
This period of disappointment and frustration was in the spring and summer that year. It messed me up a lot. I joined a writing group during Nano, wrote another book over fall and winter, and was starting to get some confidence back, if not enthusiasm. Then that next summer, I wrote Renegade X, which ended up being The One, though it has its own long story of how it got published, or how it almost didn’t get published, and then how it was unpublished and republished by me.
But anyway. Back to the book that broke my heart.
Cut to five years and many books later. I started up in the distance program (online) at Syracuse University, getting my master’s in library science. During the week-long residency we had to do in the beginning, I learned a lot about innovation and the importance of failure and how giving yourself room to fail is a necessary part of making or doing something great, not the end of things. (I didn’t end up getting the degree in the long run, but I learned an awful lot from my teachers and classmates, about innovation and life and bringing the hot sauce.) I started to rethink how I felt about failure that summer, and so I started to think about that old book that had failed me. I’d spent years trying to “live it down” in my mind, not wanting to talk about it, and whenever I did mention it, I had to also mention how horrible I thought it was. But now I started thinking about it again, and about how even if it had some problems, it had a lot of good things about it, too. There was a reason I’d loved it so much. There was a reason it had gotten some requests, even though the writing really wasn’t there yet. If anything, I was the one who had let it down, not the other way around.
I got an idea for the opening and started writing. I kept characters and concepts I’d loved from the first one and rethought the world and plot and how everything could go together. The first version had been my sixth book. This reboot was my twelfth. And it was so much better this time around, and I loved it again, and my beta readers loved it, too. It was finally the amazing book I’d wanted so hard for it to be in the past.
This book is Fire and Chasm. And I’m pleased to announce that it’s coming out next February from Skyscape.
I’m so excited to reveal the cover for my upcoming middle grade release, Growing Up Dead, a comedy about a vampire in junior high. I’ve been a fan of Annie Rodrigue‘s art style for a while now and am happy to have worked with her on this. She did a perfect job, and the colors make me want to eat it.
For Nox, being a vampire in junior high wouldn’t be so bad if a) vampires still had super strength, b) his mom would let him play his guitar in the house, and c) the werewolf girl of his dreams would notice he’s alive.
Nox’s life is over when Chug the Thug, a troll who can smell fear and lunch money from three miles away, gets his hands on a picture of Nox’s crush. The same picture Nox drew hearts all over and wrote “Nox and Lila forever” on. If Nox can’t cough up fifty bucks by Friday, Chug’s going public.
Worse, when the Battle of the Bands venue says they won’t allow vampires, due to recent unsolved vamp-related violence, Nox discovers his “friends” have no problem replacing him… with his crush. Now Nox has less than a week to thwart Chug, solve a mystery, and get back in the band. But when reclaiming his role as rock-star-to-be means hurting the girl he loves, what’s a teenage vamp to do?
…then you already saw THIS:
Both The Rise of Renegade X and The Trials of Renegade X are the Kindle Daily Deals for the Sci-fi and Fantasy category, which is majorly cool. I’d gotten an email from Amazon back in December saying it was a possibility–I had to agree to being included in the promotion if I got chosen–but I didn’t really think it was going to happen. Then yesterday I found out that they were going to be part of the Daily Deal today. Which was pretty amazing.
I’ve been getting this question a lot as people finish up The Trials of Renegade X. Everyone wants to know if there’s going to be another sequel.
And my answer to that is YES, definitely! I’m still in the planning stages, so I don’t have a title for you yet or a description, but know that it is coming. I’ve added it to Goodreads and set the release date as September 1st, 2014, and you can add it here.
Okay, so, The Trials of Renegade X wasn’t supposed to come out until the 26th, but it’s actually out right now. The hardback edition I created through Lightning Source appeared on Amazon and Barnes and Noble this weekend. Oops. And I think Goodreads has been emailing people that the book is out. So I’ve been working on getting the other editions up and running.
Which means that you can now get the book. Like, right now. Here’s a breakdown:
- The hardback books are $19.99. They’re available through Amazon or Barnes and Noble. They should be available through other outlets soon, including Book Depository.
- The ebook is $4.99 and available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. It should be available through the Apple store soon.
- The paperbacks will be $12.99 and available through Amazon, but I don’t have those up yet.
So there you have it. I leave you with the excerpt from the back of the hardcover:
I don’t know what happens then, only that I don’t pull the trigger. But a wild tendril of fear flashes through me. Electricity sparks hot in my hand. It feels the same as it did the other night, when the light socket practically exploded. Except this time, I know it’s not coming from some outside source—it’s coming from me. I can feel the charge all the way down to my bones. But it all happens so fast, and before I really get what’s happening, sparks shoot into the gadget I’m holding, and then there are ninja stars flying. Not just at their target—who is apparently a superhero and not a jewel thief—but in every direction.
I have, of course, been dying to show you guys this for a while now, and today is the day! This is the ebook cover for Trials, made by Raul Allen, who was also the amazing artist behind the first cover. The print books will feature the full wraparound, like the first one had, with the city continuing off to the left.
And here’s blurb again:
Can a half villain ever be a full hero?
Damien Locke didn’t choose for his supervillain mom to disown him — just because he sort of defied her and ruined her evil plans to take over Golden City — and he didn’t choose for his superpower to be flying, a superhero ability that involves his least favorite thing: heights. But now that he’s living with his dad’s superhero family and enrolling at Heroesworth Academy, he’s ready to embrace his new life, get his H, and finally belong somewhere. But belonging isn’t as easy as signing up for classes, and Damien finds himself struggling to fit in more than ever.
Just when he’s sure his fate as a hero has been decided, though, he gets a new villain power that he can’t control. And things only get worse when he accidentally screws up one of his sidekick Sarah’s gadgets, altering her personality and turning her into a crazed, anti-supervillain vigilante — leaving him no choice but to team up with her annoying superhero boyfriend if he hopes to have any chance of getting the old Sarah back, before she captures — or kills — another supervillain like him.
I think it goes without saying, but I LOVE this cover! I love how bitchy and evil Sarah looks (I know, I know, that’s a weird thing to say, but it’s true). And I love the city in the background, and the mist on the roof, and the creepy machine there. And of course Damien looks awesome, too! And their belts have Xs and Thetas on them, and it’s just all very cool and amazing.
So many announcements, in fact, that I can make a BULLETED LIST.
- The kickstarter for The Trials of Renegade X was a rousing success! It ended at 125%, which is pretty amazing. Especially since there was a time, for about an hour or so after I first launched it (and, well, all the months leading up to it), where I was pretty sure it was going to finish at zero percent. Or maybe more realistically like one percent. (Okay, okay, five percent.) BUT my doubts were foiled again and everything is coming up awesome.
- If you missed out on the kickstarter, don’t worry! Trials now has a release date and will be out September 26th. You’ll be able to get it in ebook, paperback, or hardcover. (Though if you want a print copy, brace yourself for print-on-demand prices, which are a bit pricier than you might be used to.)
- I have THE COVER, and it’s freaking AWESOME. Raul Allen, the same artist who did the cover for The Rise of Renegade X, did an amazing job. It’s everything I could have hoped for and more, and a perfect follow-up to the first one. I can’t reveal it yet, but soon, precioussss. Soon.
- You may or may not have noticed–or seen me talking about it–but the first book is currently unavailable, due to me getting the rights back. But I’m happy to announce that it will be back up in the near future–probably in the next few weeks–and should be out in time for the sequel’s release! I’m in the process of licensing the cover art now, but once that’s done I can relaunch. It will be back up in ebook and hardback and will be making its paperback debut. ;) (Though what I said earlier about POD prices still applies.)
- The movie option for Renegade X got renewed! I have no idea where they are with the project (well, I have some idea, but my knowledge on it is several months outdated, and I’m not sure what I’d be allowed to tell people even if I did know something), only that it’s still in the works. So, as always, getting renewed doesn’t mean there will actually be a movie, but it’s still a possibility!
- And, finally, with both books for sure coming out and having covers and all that, I’m thinking of doing audiobook versions as well through ACX. (ACX is awesome and makes audiobook production an option for authors and helps them find narrators. I went through them for Harper Madigan and was really happy about the whole process and especially with how the book turned out.) I have to admit to being kind of nervous about hearing someone else read for Damien and the other RRX characters I’ve had in my head for so long. (And what if I hear their voice in my head from then on instead of mine???) So if I don’t find the right narrator, it will be a no-go. But there are a lot of talented voice actors, so I am hopeful that the right one is out there.
And so my bulleted list comes to an end! This next month is going to be really exciting as I get ready to launch all this, and then of course everyone finally getting to actually read the sequel is pretty mind blowing, too!
I’ve been working on this for a while and am super excited to announce that you can now pre-order The Trials of Renegade X on Kickstarter! Not only that, but you can get it a whole MONTH before everyone else!
You can also read a sample chapter of the sequel! And, besides getting to read the book early, everyone who pledges gets their superhero or supervillain name and superpower listed in the thank you section of the book.
There are also some other really exciting incentives, including special limited edition signed copies. You can also get a minor character named after you, or get a plush of your favorite character! These last two are very limited–only a few each–so don’t miss out!
Wow, it’s been a while since I posted (guess I was in the writer cave longer than I thought). I looked at my last post, where I had 19,000 words in the sequel. HA. Now I have 115,000 and it’s DONE! That’s right–this book is going to exist. It’s going to come out this September. And it’s going to be really freaking awesome (but I think you guys knew that part already). And if you’re wondering what 115,000 words actually means, I’ll tell you that the first one was 85,000 words, making this a much bigger book. I would estimate that gives you guys another 100 pages to read.
Of sex and math jokes.
Just kidding. There aren’t any math jokes in this one.
I had so much fun writing this book. And drank so much coffee. And, while I miss the characters again already, it feels good to have it done. I finished the first one nearly six years ago. Six freaking years. And there were times since then when I was absolutely certain there would be a sequel, and times when I was absolutely certain there would not. But you guys kept writing to me, telling me how much you loved Renegade X and asking when there would be another one. And if it hadn’t been for you guys telling me all that, I don’t know if I would have ever written it. But you did, and I did, and now I’ve finished the best book I’ve ever written. And I can’t wait for you guys to get to read it in September!
And since, no matter how much planning I do, books have a way of morphing and getting away from me as I write them (or at least the best ones do), I reworked the book description. The old one wasn’t inaccurate, but it wasn’t so much the story anymore either. So here’s the new blurb:
Can a half villain ever be a full hero?
Damien Locke didn’t choose for his supervillain mom to disown him—just because he sort of defied her and ruined her evil plans to take over Golden City—and he didn’t choose for his superpower to be flying, a superhero ability that involves his least favorite thing: heights. But now that he’s living with his dad’s superhero family and enrolling at Heroesworth Academy, he’s ready to embrace his new life, get his H, and finally belong somewhere. But belonging isn’t as easy as signing up for classes, and Damien finds himself struggling to fit in more than ever.
Just when he’s sure his fate as a hero has been decided, though, he gets a new villain power that he can’t control. And things only get worse when he accidentally screws up one of his sidekick Sarah’s gadgets, altering her personality and turning her into a crazed, anti-supervillain vigilante—leaving him no choice but to team up with her annoying superhero boyfriend if he hopes to have any chance of getting the old Sarah back, before she captures—or kills—another supervillain like him.
To celebrate Harper Madigan: Junior High Private Eye’s one year anniversary, the Kindle version is free all weekend–Friday, Saturday, and Sunday–over at Amazon. And if you don’t have a kindle, you can still download it and convert it to a different file type, if you’re into that kind of thing.
AND my good news about Harper Madigan is that it’s going to be an audiobook! It should be out sometime in April, and of course I’ll have more details then. I’ve gotten to listen to the first half of the book and I LOVE it and can’t wait to share it!
That’s all for now–must get back to writing Trials, which, for those of you who missed my tweet. is up to 19,000 words so far.