“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.


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 le