Tag: writing

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?”



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.

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.

The Ten Year Renegade-iversary

Ten years ago, I was just finishing up The Rise of Renegade X. (It was the summer after I graduated college–at 25, not 22 like you might be thinking–and the last Harry Potter book had just come out–I remember devouring it in between writing sessions.) I wrote book 1 in a 28-day whirlwind from concept to finish, and it was by far the best thing I’d ever written. (In fact, for a long time, I worried I’d never write anything as good as that, which thankfully wasn’t true.) A year and a half later, I added another 20k for an editor (which I wrote in a week), but otherwise, it was the same book it is now.

I didn’t write book 2 until six years and six books later, hence the jump in quality. That one took me three months to write, if you don’t count the five chapters I wrote before that but then couldn’t work on for, like, a year due to illness and having, like, no words in my brain. Despite getting temporarily better enough to work on the book, it didn’t last, and I went back to being blank and empty.

(If you’re wondering, I have an autoimmune disease–Hashimoto’s–and adrenal fatigue, which it turns out were caused by crazy severe food allergies. Mostly gluten. And grains. I know what you’re thinking, but gluten is seriously bad news and it sucked out my soul like a Dementor. It turns out autoimmune disease in general is caused by food allergies (mostly gluten, grains, and dairy), so if you have one, please Google the Autoimmune Protocol–it saved my life.)

Somehow I wrote book 3 while being blank and empty. Sometimes my brain would just go blank in the middle of a sentence, and I would have absolutely no idea what words to put next, and I’d have to walk away from it for a couple weeks until I could start thinking of words again. This forced start-and-stop method was really hard, and I don’t think I can express how frustrating it was. Once I finally started healing, I also realized how dampened my emotions were at the time. It’s not exactly that I couldn’t feel feelings… but I kind of couldn’t feel feelings. And yet somehow I wrote a book full of feelings. Just like how I wrote a book full of thoughts and words when my brain was very low on them. I honestly don’t know how I managed to write that book, though I know it was mostly done in little chunks over two years, so I guess that’s how, but still. The more I heal and the better I get, the more I look back and think, WTF? How in the hell did I manage to write any of that, let alone a whole book?

Book 4 took me a year and half, but I wrote most of it in the last six months. Coincidentally when I had some health breakthroughs and started feeling better. (Crazy, right?) It, too, was written in starts and stops and little chunks, though there were less starts and stops and the chunks were bigger, and my brain stopped crapping out in the middle of sentences. I still have trouble writing for long periods of time, and sometimes I hit my limit way earlier than I would like, but overall it’s getting easier. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to write a book in a 28-day whirlwind again (though I wasn’t exactly healthy then, either, it just wasn’t as bad yet, so who knows?). I think these books have gotten too complicated for that, though I’d settle for a three-month writing binge, or maybe even a six-month writing binge, or maybe even a “just being able to write steadily in general” streak.

Anyway, I can’t believe I’ve been writing Renegade X books for ten years. In that time, only a year and a half has gone by for the characters. At this rate, even if I lived to be 100–and kept writing Renegade X books at the same pace the whole time–Damien would never be older than 27. How bizarre is that? Not that that’s how books work, and not that I’m saying that’s how it’s going to go. I’m just saying the time difference between my life and theirs is very different.

Approaching the Finish Line

Am almost done with WIP.  Disclaimer, it is not Trials, which I know is what everyone is waiting for right now.  (Understandable!)  But it’s still a book that’s very important to me.  It’s much darker than my other work–sort of a dark fantasy YA version of Dexter–and I am, like, 8 scenes away from being done with it, though some of those scenes might turn out to be more like plot points and actually be 2 or 3 scenes, especially near the big climactic boss battle part.

I started this book about a year and a half ago now, or at least this version of it, and as I mentioned in my last post, I was pretty dead last year, thanks to poor thyroid treatment.  It feels like I’ve been working on this book a lot longer than that.  I keep recounting the time in my head and being like, “Are you sure it wasn’t two and a half years?”  Still, very slow for me, and there were times when I worried I was just going to be stuck in the middle of this book forever.  And I finished no books at all last year, and it wasn’t very long ago that I was also worrying that I might never finish any books ever again.  Even though I know from experience that that’s not true, it certainly felt true when I was a thyroid-less zombie with hardly enough thoughts to survive, let alone put in a book.

This also isn’t the first version of this book I’ve written.  I’ve talked about this before, but this is a book I first wrote 6 or 7 years ago.  That version was pretty flawed, though I loved it so much at the time.  And it got me my first requests from agents, though ultimately that was all it got.  And it kind of broke my heart that nothing ever happened with it.  I spent years blaming this book for being a failure, and resenting myself for loving something so horribly flawed.  Well, the book had issues, but there were still things about it that made it good–reasons why it got any agent interest in the first place–and so I’ve taken those good things and transported them into a new, better book.

So, anyway, my point is that while it’s always amazingly awesome to finish a book, finishing this one is going to be extra awesome.  And then, once it’s done, I will be working like mad to finish up Trials.  Which is also awesome–I know because I was rereading some of it the other day and had to force myself to put it down and not get sucked in, at least not until I’m officially working on it.

What about you guys?  Are you close to any finish lines of your own?

Has it been a week already?

Gah, apparently it’s been a week since I posted. The days just slip by!

So what have I been doing the past week? What breaking news is there to report from Chelsea Land?

Er, not a whole lot. Mostly I’ve been writing. And freaking out and deleting scenes and then deciding I like them and putting them back in again. (With minor tweaks. Remember what I said about minor tweaks being so useful.) I am loving this book a lot, but trying not to push myself too hard when I get frustrated. At this point, it’s less about adhering to a strict word count every day as it is just being happy that the book is going well and that I love it and that freaking out will only lead to more stress, whereas stepping back a little might lead to answers. I’m up to 40k, and if I finish it by the end of November (for fake NaNo), I will be SO HAPPY. This book is a sequel I’ve been struggling with for, erm, a couple years now, and this incarnation of it is one I’m finally happy with (and so’s my agent, and let’s hope my editor is too), and it has gone from being a frustrating, unfinished burden (while I had the day job) to being something I don’t ever want to finish because I looooves it, Precious, except that I do want it to end someday so I can BE DONE with it and move on with my life, even if “moving on” is just fantasizing about the next volume. This is the writer’s dilemma: Odi et amo. I hate and I love.

I read through my ARC. It was good times. I still have it in my stack of books on my night stand, and sometimes I leave it lying around in my pile of junk next to my beanbag, just to see it sitting around, being real. Like it could be any other book, piled somewhere in my room or on my desk, and it’s MINE. Also, speaking of my ARC, I heard Egmont gave away some copies at a YA festival thing in Austin, among other awesome ARCs like Anastasia Hopcus’ Shadow Hills and Bree Despain’s The Dark Divine–both of which I have not yet had a chance to read, but AM DYING FOR. Ahem. Anyway, how cool is that that people I don’t even know might have my ARC sitting around? Very cool.

Also I changed the description on the Rise of Renegade X page to match the jacket copy. It goes like this:

Damien Locke knows his destiny–attending the university for supervillains and becoming Golden City’s next professional evil genius. But when Damien discovers he’s the product of his supervillain mother’s one-night stand with–of all people–a superhero, his best-laid plans are ruined as he’s forced to live with his superhero family.

Going to extreme lengths (and heights), The Rise of Renegade X chronicles one boy’s struggles with the villainous and heroic pitfalls of growing up.

I’m reading Heat Wave, by Richard Castle (I know, right??), a tie-in book for ABC’s show, Castle, which, if you didn’t already know, is awesome. I’m almost done with the book. It’s pretty good–just like the show, except that Nikki Heat and Jameson Rook, the NYC detective and the reporter following her around, are characters Castle supposedly made up, so unlike most tie-in books, life changing stuff can actually happen in it. Which is brilliant!

I’ve also been watching Supernatural. I’m about 3/4 of the way through season one. I love it. It has it’s really stupid, cheesy moments, and then there was that hillbilly episode… but overall, they always get me with whatever emotional dilemma is going on even on the episodes where , and I love the roles the Sam and Dean play, both in their demon hunting team and as brothers.

ARCs – what’s the big deal anyway?

ARCs for those who might not know are Advanced Review Copies (or some variation, same meaning, same letters). Pronounced arc, like in math, or ark, as in the boat. I used to think it was spelled out, A.R.C., but my experience in hearing people in the industry talk about them says otherwise. They’re paperback not-for-sale versions of the real thing, released several months (give or take some months) before the release date. They’re kind of like a dress rehearsal. You get to see how it all comes together–cover, layout, etc.–and it’s the author’s last chance to catch any typos or glaring errors before the real thing. It’s also the first time random strangers start getting copies to review. That in itself is exciting and crazy, but the reason I and other debut authors go nuts over this ARC stuff is this:

The ARC is the first time the book is REAL. It’s the first time you get to hold your book in real book form.

You can print out manuscript pages, you can read your file on the computer over and over, but it’s not the same as your book being book shaped. As in it has a cover, and you have to turn that cover to get to the first page, but before that first page is info about the publisher and all that good stuff, because it’s published. And then after that you can turn the page to the actual story, with real layout (I am so excited to see what my layout looks like), and you can keep turning the pages. You can stick a freaking bookmark in it. You can touch it and show it to people and they will instantly see that it’s real, that you’re not just a wannabe who’s never going to make it. And I’ve been wanting this so bad I could taste it for sixteen years.

There are a few key moments where this whole publishing thing feels really real. It felt real when I got the offer, when I signed the contract, when I got paid, when my book appeared on Amazon. But seeing my ARCs on my publisher’s shelf in that picture? That’s the first time my book has been on a book shelf, because it was never book shaped before. And I would be lying if I said that a year ago I knew that would happen, because I didn’t. You can read more about my “how I got pubbed” story here, but what it basically boils down to is The Rise of Renegade X was the best book I’d ever written, all my friends loved it, and we all knew this book was The One, the one that would get published, but it almost didn’t. Things got dark and bad and everything in my life was wrong, like the world was stuck on nightmare mode.

The universe, like a good novelist, pushed me and pushed me and took everything I cared about away until I broke. And then once I broke, it put it all back. It said here, you’ve passed the test, you can have what you wanted. (That is how you write a book, btw, in case you were wondering. I could go on for years talking about how to write a book, but that’s what I’d tell you if I had to give you the short version. Don’t give your character what they want, make them suffer until you’ve pushed them to the breaking point and they’ve had to make hard decisions and rethink who they are, and then maybe–maybe–they can get what they wanted.)

So the fact that sometime very soon I could be holding physical, tangible proof that my book is real is pretty big. Not just, “Wow, that’s pretty cool,” but I’m talking Life. Changing. Big. As in “a year ago you were a failure and this close to running away and joining the circus, if even the circus would have you” but now your book is book shaped and real and people can just go ahead and touch it if they’re not sure. It’s a physical manifestation that all the hard work and sacrifice and pain and torture weren’t for nothing, and that the happy times meant more than the bad ones after all.

It’s also pretty magical, if you think about it. Once upon a time, there were words in my head, and I wrote them down. Words in your head are probably the most intangible thing ever, and even typing them on the computer is still fairly intangible. You can’t touch it. It exists, sort of, but it’s like this limbo of existence. And yeah, you can print it out and it’s sort of real, but it’s not as real as being in a physical book shape, the shape the words were always meant to be in.