The Phobia of Renegade X (Renegade X 4)
61000 of 120000 words (51%) complete
That’s right, I have a new book coming out! In, like, three weeks-ish. I’m pretty damn proud of this one, and I think if you’re a Renegade X fan, you’ll love Dragonbound, too. It’s not about superheroes (obviously) but it does have a similar tone and humor.
Virginia St. George has never been good at following the rules. After all, she’s supposed to be a paladin. She’s supposed to have inherited magic, like her older sister, that can bind a dragon’s powers. She’s supposed to be able to wield a sword, like her best friend, and chop a dragon’s head off in one blow. And she’s supposed to be able to leave the safety of the barracks, like everybody else, but watching a dragon rip her mother apart years ago ruined that option, leaving her with an intense fear of the outside world.
And, above all things, she’s most certainly not supposed to talk to Amelrik, the shapeshifting dragon boy her family’s keeping locked up in the dungeon. Even if he saved her life. But if there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that he’s a dangerous criminal who can’t be trusted, and that she should stay as far away from him as possible.
But when dragons kidnap her sister during a routine hunting mission, Amelrik offers up insider information that just might save her. That is, if anyone would listen. Now Virginia must make a choice: heed her family’s warnings and play it safe, or confront her worst fears and put her trust in a dangerous enemy.
Though all you really need to know about it is the first line:
I want to punch everyone at this party in the face.
And I got my author copies of the audiobook, and HOLY CRAP, it’s amazing. Like, I don’t think I’m ever going to bother reading it myself now, because the narrator, Fiona Hardingham, does such an amazing job acting it all out and doing the voices and accents and stuff. So I highly recommend snagging a copy of the audiobook, which should be part of Whispersync, since it’s a Skyscape book, which I believe means you can get the audiobook for only $1.99 when you buy the ebook, which is $3.99, which is pretty good for an audiobook. I think by itself it’s around $7 or something.
I am pretty picky about narrators, and I had absolutely nothing to do with this audiobook and had no idea who was doing it or how it would turn out (completely unlike with Renegade X, where I am in charge), and I admit I was kind of… worried. But to no avail! Because it turns out it’s awesome!
I’ve had a lot of hangups the past couple years (during the worst of the chronic illness that is thankfully no longer quite so chronic) with being able to tell if what I’m writing is good at all. I mean, I know it is, but sometimes I just feel so cruddy from illness that I can’t tell, because all I feel is cruddiness, and that’s not how it’s supposed to feel when I write something awesome. But hearing my books in audio format makes me forget about all the stupid crap I was worried about that doesn’t actually matter (read: problems made up in my head) and makes me experience it how it really is. So I’m doubly glad to have such amazing narrators for my work!
And I know this post is about Dragonbound, but since I post so sporadically (I couldn’t remember the opposite word for “often,” and then I thought of that scene in Clueless), I’ll include some Renegade X update info.
So, what is happening with book 4, you ask? Lots of cool stuff! But while I’m a lot better health-wise than I was last year or even six months ago, I’m still slow. I hate admitting that, both to you and to myself, but it’s true. (I used to be a fast writer. Sometimes I still am. But probably not today.) So… I’m still working on it. I’m really hoping to have it out sometime this fall, but I can’t really say (and I’m usually wrong, so take that prediction with a grain of salt).
But speaking of amazing audiobooks, when is the audiobook for book 3 coming out?! I know, I know, it’s been, like, a year since the last audiobook came out. But it’s all dependent on when I get the next book out (because audiobooks are expensive and I have to, like, pay for it), and when my narrator is available to work on it. So take whenever I get book 4 out and add a few months to it. But it will exist! Eventually!
Is Book 4 the last one? Please say no, please say no. Nope, not the last one! I’m taking this one book at a time, I don’t have, like, some grand plan or anything, but I do know that this isn’t the end. So, yay for not having grand plans, I guess. I’ll admit I’m not very good at planning ahead, but I am good at making the current book awesome and the series continuable, so there you go.
P.S. I forgot to mention that there’s a Goodreads giveaway going on for Dragonbound right now. Skyscape is giving away 100 ebook copies, and you can go here and enter.
This novella takes place between books 2 and 3.
Damien doesn’t believe in ghosts, even when he hears the voice of his ex-best friend Pete calling to him from the Banking and Finances building, the scene of his death. His new friend Riley doesn’t believe in ghosts, either, but when Damien confides in him about what he thinks he heard, the two of them decide to investigate. On Halloween night.
A decision they come to regret as soon as Pete’s ghost traps them inside the building. It turns out Pete’s got unfinished business with Damien concerning the collapse of their friendship. Damien’s always blamed Pete for how it ended, but now Pete forces him to acknowledge the part he played in it. In order to survive the night, Damien will not only have to figure out how to fight a ghost, but he’ll have to tell the truth about his past–even when that truth threatens to destroy his new friendship with Riley.
The day is finally here! At least, if you’ve been waiting for the ebook. If you’re waiting for the paperback or hardcover, those will take a little longer. (My current estimate is about one week for the paperback and two or three for the hardback.)
This book has been so long in the making, and I’m so excited to finally get to share it with everyone!
Damien thinks he has the whole hero thing figured out—he’s getting good grades at Heroesworth and acing all his missions—at least until he zaps an unarmed bad guy he believes tortured and murdered children. It turns out the “bad guy” was actually a superhero working with the school. The mission was staged, and Damien blew it.
Now his best friend refuses to work with him, his dad is considering getting him professional help, and everyone’s questioning whether or not he has a future as a hero—including his grandpa, who will do anything to ensure Damien’s future lies in villainy. His grandpa creates a villain organization called the Truth, intent on exposing the way heroes really treat villains. But when the Truth launches its plan and the whole city erupts in chaos, Damien is caught between the opposing sides, and his future is anything but certain.
With heroes and villains bent on destroying each other, it’s up to him to do whatever it takes to stop the fighting, even if it means betraying the people closest to him.
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?
10 years ago, I was working at Burger King (a really, really crappy Burger King where the fries were cold and the pop was uncarbonated, or at least the flavors anybody cared about were–it shut down just after New Year’s that year) and thinking I was really close to finding an agent and getting published. LOL. (I was nowhere near it.) At some point that fall, I’d gotten a slightly personalized rejection letter from an agent whose name I can’t even remember now. Looking back, it was obviously a form letter, but it had my name on it and was on the agency letterhead. Slightly thicker paper, cream colored. Not the thin, run-of-the-mill printer paper rejections I’d been getting. It basically said I wasn’t ready yet, but that they’d like to see my work again after I’d written another book or three. I was querying my 4th book at the time, if I remember right.
5 years ago, I was working at the ribbon shop (I made award ribbons, mostly for cat shows) and was actually on the verge of getting a publishing contract for the first time. That was The Rise of Renegade X, and it was my 8th or 9th book, depending on how you count them. (The book I’d started before it I would later finish, so technically RRX was my 8th finished book, but if you lined them up in chronological order, it would be the 9th.) I’d finished it about a year and a half before that, had recently fired my first agent, and was getting interest from a publisher on my own. In the next few months, I’d have a new, way better agent, and two offers.
If you’d told me 10 years ago that it would be another 5 years before I got published, I would have been devastated. If you’d told me 5 years ago that at the end of 2013, I still wouldn’t have gotten another publishing contract, again, I would have been devastated. Probably even more devastated than the first one, because at least then something good was coming, I just had to wait for it. (Or work really hard for it. Whatever.) And if you added on the fact that I wasn’t just contractless, but self-publishing–and, okay, not just self-publishing, but republishing my only traditionally published book because it had gone out of print and I’d taken the rights back–I would have been more than devastated. Probably absolutely crushed.
I would have had no idea how happy I was going to be.
To be fair, self-publishing has changed a lot in the past 5 years. But, from where I sit now, it seems ridiculous to me how upset I would have been about the supposed “failures” to come. It’s funny how our expectations of how things “should” go can get in the way of seeing opportunities. 2013 has been my best year in publishing, period. Not that there weren’t exciting moments along my traditional publishing journey, and everything I learned along that journey made me a better writer and publisher. But it wasn’t the only way to be happy, and it certainly wasn’t the only way to be successful.
This year, I got to write what I wanted. Which means Renegade X fans (and me) finally got to have a sequel. This year, I didn’t second guess what editors might buy from me or base what I wrote on what I might be able to sell to them. I wrote for myself, and for my readers. I had more fun writing than I have in a long time (though at least part of that has to do with getting better thyroid meds and not feeling like I was dying all the time, but that’s a different story), I ran a successful kickstarter campaign, and I published two books, which, in the past three months that they’ve been out, have sold more copies than I ever did as a traditionally published author. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I’ve sold more copies of The Rise of Renegade X in the past 3 months than my publisher did in the past 3 years.
So, yeah. I guess the point of this post is that we don’t always know what will make us happy. I always knew I wanted a career writing books. That hasn’t changed, and it’s just as satisfying as I’d thought it would be. But how I got here, to a point where I even feel comfortable saying I have a writing “career” as opposed to just “a book,” was completely unexpected.
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.