“You just had to go there didn’t you?” I hear you asking yourself.

Yes, only I can associate cupcakes with the inevitability of the grave.

“She’s kinda dark, isn’t she?”

Well, yeah. But this is my party and I’ll be morbid if I want to. We’ve talked about this before: this persistent rushing towards oblivion and the abject determination to accomplish something that we deem of worth before the sand in the hourglass runs out and we’re stuck dealing with eternity and the possibility that there is no such thing as a bookstore in the afterlife. (Assuming there is an afterlife at all, and I’m not one to make assumptions, but I try to look at things objectively and if there is something beyond the obvious and present, I hope I haven’t offended anyone in the great hereafter by doubting their existence as a means of propelling myself forwards towards my goals right fucking now.)

Forgive my potty mouth. I’ve spent the past two weeks working until midnight nearly every day. It’s like having two jobs, but you only get paid for one, and the other one you’re paying people to read your babble with your blood.

Just hook that suction pump up to my veins!

It’s my birthday. That’s what “Thirty Four” Means.

Thirty four, guys. As of seven thirty five this morning, that’s where I’m at.

It’s not mid-thirties yet, but it’s pretty damned close. *wipes sweat from brow* I refuse to review the giant list of accomplishments I’ve failed to meet so far, opting instead to focus on the positive and the forthcoming:

Book Releases: Two of ’em!

I have two book releases in the pipeline for later this year:

  • The Short Fictions & Curiosities Collection: which compiles the final versions of every free short story released from October to October — thirteen in total — and includes a novella that I’ve had on my lap for a while now that hasn’t seen the light of day beyond my crit groups. It’s going to be a big chunk of paper is what. That novella is something like 40,000 words, and all thirteen stories will probably fall in under 100,000 words. LOL this is my first official release. Buy it and use it as an extra large doorstop then snap me a photo so I can laugh heartily about it afterwards.
  • Shine: which will launch in October as a replacement to Short Fictions. It’s my summer writing project, and will be offered first as a free serial. It’s YA horror: no nonsense, no dicking around, fire and brimstone and violence horror. Young Adult. Male protagonist. First person POV which I never do. (Technically I guess this means it’ll be available for sale as a completed novel in early 2017, but you get what I’m saying: this is a writing project that will be completed and edited and whipped into something resembling a book and distributed through this website and a couple of other channels before it vanishes and reappears on Amazon for purchase.)

A Horror Community Event-type Thingy

I have one major reader community event scheduled for 2017 that will be announced in December, and begin on January 1, 2017. Yes, its horror-related. *hand flap* One day I might surprise you and denounce the dark stuff in favour of romance or some nonsense, but today is not that day!

Accomplishments this year

  • Book Reviews in Horror and Dark Fiction: I’ve launched a Book Review initiative. People are submitting stuff, to my delight and my terror. (I was pretty explicit about the “no paranormal romance” thing, but I still get requests, and I still have to send the emails saying thanks but no thanks, and I feel rotten about it every time for, like, two seconds. To be fair, I will take the occasional paranormal romance review request, but they’re few and far between. I’m currently reading The Crow Box by Nikki Rae and loving it, for example. I have a long-standing history with paranormal romance, in fact: I read so much of it that even five years later I feel oversaturated. Reading repetitively in the same genre pushes my writing in that direction, and that’s not an end goal for me just yet, so I tread lightly.)
  • Short Fictions & Curiosities: The damned thing went live without much thought or prep, and I’ve spent the past month scrambling to get ahead of the game to make it work, make it time-effective, and spend more effort writing and editing, and less time marketing. Check out yesterday’s post for the news. I really beat this one into submission in short order. If that doesn’t interest you, go download some stories for free while you still have the opportunity to do so. Once the collection hits the shelves following the final release on October 31, 2016, they won’t be available individually anymore for free download. You’ll have to shell out some dough to get ’em as a complete collection.

Query-time, motherf*ckers!

  • This year Wake the Dead starts the query process. I’m going to try the traditional route first. I’m releasing enough free written stuff this year in the meantime to keep myself busy instead of freaking out. It’ll be fine. I’m going to keep reassuring myself. It’ll be fine. It’ll be fine. I’m going to put on my big girl pants and it’ll be fine. And then I’m going to paper the walls around my plotting whiteboard with rejection letters and photograph it along with the big, bold “SUCK IT” in the middle of it. Right next to the post-it that says Harry Potter was rejected by twelve publishers by getting picked up by Bloomsbury.

Other nebulous ephemeral things I wish to breathe life into

I have other ideas, guys — ideas that I want to work on and develop now but I can’t. The segue-way: I had the opportunity to play Dungeon World for the first time with a few friends recently, and given the option to pick a character, I chose a Necromancer. Part of the process of playing Dungeon World allows for the players to world build — they set the rules, and the Dungeon Master approves or denies, and subsequently works it into the story he’s building.

I managed to cobble together a wielder of the necromantic arts in five minutes. She’s okay for the game, but my writer-brain imagines a world where a necromancer fell in love, and lost that love, and lost him again. I imagine a world where that necromancer is driven to find what’s she’s lost time and time again, only to lose once more.

I imagine the sort of strength and determination that would require of a person: to face that sort of heartbreak over and over and endure, and keep trying knowing she can never really win in the end, and never really be whole.

Maybe it’s the other side of romance that I ought to be looking at: the side that only knows pain, and few brief moments of fulfilment. The side that knows a lot of death.

*brain meanders into the world of plot bunnies and tulips and bones protruding from various disturbed graves*

Back to point: sketches were made by one of our party. The character I’m playing in this Dungeon World session is in the middle. I named her Kebechet — “cooling water” — a death god from the Egyptian pantheon, whose name is synonymous with embalming fluid.

The monkey skull is named “Harold.”

 

Trying out Dungeon World today, quick sketches of our party.

A photo posted by Colin Campbell (@ccampbellart) on

 

Things I learned in the process of playing Dungeon World for the first time:

  • I really like dead things… narratively.
  • Dead things in ordinary conversation are best offset with a touch of deprecating humour and a talking monkey skull on a stick.
  • If another player references a creature that I can somehow turn into a corpse to resurrect, I will totally do it.
  • If you want to get people going, start trouble by running into the woods after a will-o-the-wisp and find a barrow with something evil and dead in it that “calls to you.” (The Slytherin in you will want to try and control it. Repress the urge, or not. You can always eat your toe to regain five health when it takes a piece out of you.)
  • I really, really, really need to write a story with a necromancer as the protagonist.

Give me a gift

What I want more than anything for my birthday this year is more time: time to write full-time, time to freelance, time to nurture my big ideas instead of constantly rushing to get things done. (I’m really killing it, as far as goals go, but I won’t lie and say I’m not sleep-deprived and haggard-looking. I still have time to bathe, which is good, but I haven’t hit the yoga mat in weeks and I’m considerably softer around the middle. The conclusion I’m coming to is that this isn’t sustainable, but I sure am getting some wild ass stuff done. I only want to do more.)

Solution: time turner, obvi.

No?

I can’t order one of those on Amazon? Well, failing that, I’ll always accept gifts of LARGE SUMS OF MONEY. Or these Merit Badges for practical things like grave robbing, arson, and money laundering.

 

Alternative Scouting Badges

 

Finally, I did what I usually do to celebrate my birthday… I bought myself some stuff:

These bunnies, because contrary to popular belief, my dark little heart actually has a squishy centre:

bun01 bun02

 

…And a bunch of books, which brings me to the real meat of this post:

There are more than Thirty Four Books on my To-Read Shelf

I’m not joking. I had this wild ambition to list them all, but the reality is that you nor I ain’t got time for that nonsense.

I didn’t actually buy thirty four books in one fell swoop. I did, however, find digital copies of a few things on sale, which basically resulted in some deep discounts while buying for my Kindle, and those I will post here because I am very excited to sink my teeth into them.

Check out the titles; maybe there’s something here that appeals to you too.

 

Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto

The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.

Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.

But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.

This thrilling novel is a remarkable tale of danger and discovery, from debut author Michelle Modesto.

[button open_new_tab=”true” color=”accent-color” hover_text_color_override=”#fff” image=”default-arrow” size=”medium” url=”http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/0062366157/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=15121&creative=390961&creativeASIN=0062366157&linkCode=as2&tag=elidesfou-20″ text=”Check out Revenge and the Wild” color_override=””]

 

The Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston

 My name is Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith, and my age is three hundred and eighty-four years. Each new settlement asks for a new journal, and so this Book of Shadows begins.

In the spring of 1628, the Witchfinder of Wessex finds himself a true Witch. As Bess Hawksmith watches her mother swing from the Hanging Tree she knows that only one man can save her from the same fate at the hands of the panicked mob: the Warlock Gideon Masters, and his Book of Shadows. Secluded at his cottage in the woods, Gideon instructs Bess in the Craft, awakening formidable powers she didn’t know she had and making her immortal. She couldn’t have foreseen that even now, centuries later, he would be hunting her across time, determined to claim payment for saving her life.

In present-day England, Elizabeth has built a quiet life for herself, tending her garden and selling herbs and oils at the local farmers’ market. But her solitude abruptly ends when a teenage girl called Tegan starts hanging around. Against her better judgment, Elizabeth begins teaching Tegan the ways of the Hedge Witch, in the process awakening memories–and demons—long thought forgotten.

Part historical romance, part modern fantasy, The Witch’s Daughter is a fresh, compelling take on the magical, yet dangerous world of Witches. Readers will long remember the fiercely independent heroine who survives plagues, wars, and the heartbreak that comes with immortality to remain true to herself, and protect the protégé she comes to love.

[button open_new_tab=”true” color=”accent-color” hover_text_color_override=”#fff” image=”default-arrow” size=”medium” url=”http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/125000408X/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=15121&creative=390961&creativeASIN=125000408X&linkCode=as2&tag=elidesfou-20″ text=”Check out The Witch’s Daughter” color_override=””]

 

The Vampire of Highgate by Asa Bailey

 Kathy Bilic is adopted. Until now, she’s had only a vague memory of her real family. But terrifying dreams and visions of her sister Amber are waking her in the night. When Amber starts giving her messages, Kathy gets a sickening sense that her sister is in danger – from a deadly, inhuman source. Kathy hits London to find her sister – but when she arrives at her aunt’s house in Highgate, she is actively dissuaded from pursuing the mystery.

Undeterred, Kathy’s trail leads her through a bloody murder in the British Museum to a charged meeting with the mysterious, hypnoptic Antwain and a final confronation with her sinister father. Before long, Kathy uncovers the full horror of her heritage and her sister’s fate at the hands of the Vampire of Highgate.

Gripping, atmospheric and sexy, this is British horror at its best.

[button open_new_tab=”true” color=”accent-color” hover_text_color_override=”#fff” image=”default-arrow” size=”medium” url=”http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00GU3G4HE/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=15121&creative=390961&creativeASIN=B00GU3G4HE&linkCode=as2&tag=elidesfou-20″ text=”Check out The Vampire of Highgate” color_override=””]

 

The House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill

Catherine’s last job ended badly. Corporate bullying at a top television production company saw her fired and forced to leave London, but she was determined to get her life back. A new job and now things look much brighter. Especially when a challenging new project presents itself — to catalogue the late M H Mason’s wildly eccentric cache of antique dolls and puppets. Rarest of all, she’ll get to examine his elaborate displays of posed, costumed and preserved animals, depicting scenes from World War I. When Mason’s elderly niece invites her to stay at the Red House itself, where she maintains the collection, Catherine can’t believe her luck. Until his niece exposes her to the dark message behind her uncle’s ‘Art’. Catherine tries to concentrate on the job, but M H Mason’s damaged visions raise dark shadows from her own past. Shadows she’d hoped had finally been erased. Soon the barriers between reality, sanity and memory start to merge. And some truths seem too terrible to be real.

[button open_new_tab=”true” color=”accent-color” hover_text_color_override=”#fff” image=”default-arrow” size=”medium” url=”http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1250068819/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=15121&creative=390961&creativeASIN=1250068819&linkCode=as2&tag=elidesfou-20″ text=”The House of Small Shadows” color_override=””]

 

Phantom Effect by Michael Aronovitz

 Jonathan Martin Delaware Deseronto is a six-foot-five serial killer with a problem. He’s stuck out on I-476 in a heavy November rainstorm with two flat tires and the dead bodies of a cop and a co-ed named Marissa Madison in his trunk. Desperate to get off the highway, he drives his car on its back rims towards Exit 6. The car stalls on the ramp and Deseronto uses the last of its momentum to plunge over the crest of a steep slope and crash into a length of concrete pipe below. The car comes to rest on the edge of a construction site where machines are positioned to tear down an old Motel 6.

For Deseronto, the worst is yet to come. Marissa Madison had been a psychic of sorts while alive, using her ability to assist people in their personal journeys. Now, the ghost of Marissa will utilize her strange gift, trapping Deseronto in the abandoned motel, and forcing him to live the last, fatal week of her own life as a passive passenger in her body . . . Soon, Deseronto will experience something truly horrific: the mind-numbing terror of being stalked by himself.

[button open_new_tab=”true” color=”accent-color” hover_text_color_override=”#fff” image=”default-arrow” size=”medium” url=”http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B014TOVNQC/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=15121&creative=390961&creativeASIN=B014TOVNQC&linkCode=as2&tag=elidesfou-20″ text=”Check out Phantom Effect” color_override=””]

 

Stoker’s Manuscript by Royce Prouty

When rare-manuscript expert Joseph Barkeley is hired to authenticate and purchase the original draft and notes for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, little does he know that the reclusive buyer is a member of the oldest family in Transylvania.

After delivering the manuscript to the legendary Bran Castle in Romania, Barkeley—a Romanian orphan himself—realizes to his horror that he’s become a prisoner to the son of Vlad Dracul. To earn his freedom, Barkeley must decipher cryptic messages hidden in the text of the original Dracula that reveal the burial sites of certain Dracul family members. Barkeley’s only hope is to ensure that he does not exhaust his usefulness to his captor until he’s able to escape. Soon he discovers secrets about his own lineage that suggest his selection for the task was more than coincidence. In this knowledge may lie Barkeley’s salvation—or his doom. For now he must choose between a coward’s flight and a mortal conflict against an ancient foe.

Building on actual international events surrounding the publication of Bram Stoker’s original novel, Royce Prouty has written a spellbinding debut novel that ranges from 1890s Chicago, London, and Transylvania to the perilous present.

[button open_new_tab=”true” color=”accent-color” hover_text_color_override=”#fff” image=”default-arrow” size=”medium” url=”ttp://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00AR2RZ3Q/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=15121&creative=390961&creativeASIN=B00AR2RZ3Q&linkCode=as2&tag=elidesfou-20″ text=”Check out Stoker’s Manuscript” color_override=””]

 

The Fireman by Joe Hill

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.

[button open_new_tab=”true” color=”accent-color” hover_text_color_override=”#fff” size=”medium” image=”default-arrow” url=”http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B013C5M08O/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=15121&creative=390961&creativeASIN=B013C5M08O&linkCode=as2&tag=elidesfou-20″ text=”Check out The Fireman” color_override=””]

 

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

New York Times bestseller Alison Goodman’s eagerly awaited new project: a Regency adventure starring a stylish and intrepid demon-hunter!

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

[button open_new_tab=”true” color=”accent-color” hover_text_color_override=”#fff” image=”default-arrow” size=”medium” url=”http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00X5938K2/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=15121&creative=390961&creativeASIN=B00X5938K2&linkCode=as2&tag=elidesfou-20″ text=”Check out The Dark Days Club” color_override=””]

 

Things Half in Shadow by Alan Finn

Postbellum America makes for a haunting backdrop in this historical and supernatural tale of moonlit cemeteries, masked balls, cunning mediums, and terrifying secrets waiting to be unearthed by an intrepid crime reporter.

The year is 1869, and the Civil War haunts the city of Philadelphia like a stubborn ghost. Mothers in black continue to mourn their lost sons. Photographs of the dead adorn dim sitting rooms. Maimed and broken men roam the streets. One of those men is Edward Clark, who is still tormented by what he saw during the war. Also constantly in his thoughts is another, more distant tragedy–the murder of his mother at the hands of his father, the famed magician Magellan Holmes…a crime that Edward witnessed when he was only ten.

Now a crime reporter for one of the city’s largest newspapers, Edward is asked to use his knowledge of illusions and visual trickery to expose the influx of mediums that descended on Philadelphia in the wake of the war. His first target is Mrs. Lucy Collins, a young widow who uses old-fashioned sleight of hand to prey on grieving families. Soon, Edward and Lucy become entwined in the murder of Lenora Grimes Pastor, the city’s most highly regarded–and by all accounts, legitimate–medium, who dies mid-seance. With their reputations and livelihoods at risk, Edward and Lucy set out to find the real killer, and in the process unearth a terrifying hive of secrets that reaches well beyond Mrs. Pastor.

Blending historical detail with flights of fancy, “Things Half in Shadow” is a riveting thriller where “Medium” and “The Sixth Sense” meet “The Alienist”–and where nothing is quite as it seems.

[button open_new_tab=”true” color=”accent-color” hover_text_color_override=”#fff” image=”default-arrow” size=”medium” url=”http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1476761728/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=15121&creative=390961&creativeASIN=1476761728&linkCode=as2&tag=elidesfou-20″ text=”Check out Things Half in Shadow” color_override=””]

 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a new play by Jack Thorne, is the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. It will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on 30th July 2016 

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.

[button open_new_tab=”true” color=”accent-color” hover_text_color_override=”#fff” image=”default-arrow” size=”medium” url=”http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1338099132/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=15121&creative=390961&creativeASIN=1338099132&linkCode=as2&tag=elidesfou-20″ text=”Check out the new Harry Potter” color_override=””]

 

Happy reading, and happy birthday to me!

Showing 2 comments
  • Angie G
    Reply

    Happy birthday! You have accomplished more in 34 years than I even dreamed of in my (almost) 39 years, so kudos to you!

    You listing book recs/reviews is a dangerous thing for me… lol So many of these look interesting.

    And, now I’m all excited about the books you have coming out! I am really looking forward to the collection, and Shine sounds promising.

    • Kira Butler
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Angie! Looking forward to releasing a few of these things into the wild myself. 🙂

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Oh, PotatoesWriter Wednesday: On Discipline, Practice, and Diligence
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