T -10 Days

Well, squiders, we’re about 10 days out from Hallowed Hill‘s release.

And I am EXHAUSTED.

There’s been so much to do. So much to coordinate. So much to check.

So far I’ve:

  • Finalized the book draft
  • Done all necessary book formats (this is fun, I love book formatting)
  • Made various versions of the cover (including a wraparound for print form)
  • Gotten the ebook pre-order live on all platforms
  • Updated aspects of my website
  • Chosen an excerpt and had it put up on the Turtleduck Press website
  • Fought with Goodreads (I’m not the default Kit Campbell so all my books always go on the other profile)
  • (I asked if I could be the default since the other Kit Campbell hasn’t published in over a decade and I have new stuff come out fairly regularly, and the answer was no)
  • Emailed a couple dozen reviewers (and have been sending out review copies as they get back to me)
  • Set up some email newsletters
  • Set up some promotions
  • Sent announcements to various groups

I still have some promotions I need to do, and I need to finalize some print stuff (Amazon is putting in random blank pages, so I need to go poke that a bit), and a couple more things for release day.

Ye gods.

I think it’s going pretty well, though! Things are in good shape, and the book’s rankings are already looking pretty decent. (Last I checked, it was #25 in Teen & Young Adult Ghost Stories.)

But I’m definitely starting to feel a little burnt out.

The last few days, I tried to record my SkillShare class, as a break from marketing and release work, but Tuesday my computer super crashed, and yesterday no matter what microphone I used, I got a low hum that I couldn’t get rid of. So in the end that was more stress instead of being a respite. Yay.

On top of the release stuff, all the MileHiCon stuff came out this week–panel assignments, programming, signing tables, etc. I love MileHiCon! But having all that in the middle of the release stuff has been really overwhelming. And they put me on FIVE PANELS this year. I’m normally on 2 or 3. And unfortunately I can’t do one of them because it overlaps the Critter Crunch and the bigger, mobile one isn’t allowed to be on his own for another year. (It was about DINOSAURS. I am distraught.)

Still, it’s only another week and a half, and then things will calm down a bit, I think. Or at least be less stress, fingers crossed.

I really appreciate your guys’ support through this.

I’m starting to think about what to do after the book is out. Take a week off and play video games, maybe. Except I’ll need to get going on MileHiCon stuff–prep for panels, make sure I have books to sell, get a new card reader that actually works, etc. And I’ll need to probably do some class work, assuming I can ever get that hum to go away.

But, maybe, I can finally get back to Book 1. That would be amazing. Especially if we start getting somewhere, since all the momentum we had got eaten when I had to shift gears for the novella.

Right now, though, I mostly just want to sleep.

How are you, squiders? How are you destressing these days?

Garage Sale Finds: Rumpole a la Carte

Sorry for the radio silence, squiders. Turns out I’m having a hard time keeping on top of everything with the release, and some of the other things in my life are getting neglected. So I’m going to go ahead and say that updates here are going to be spotty for the next two weeks til the book is out, and potentially a few weeks after that depending on how reviews/promotions are going.

(Also, just a reminder that the ebook version is $1.99 during the pre-order time period, and then the price goes up once it’s released. Pre-orders, cover, description, and an excerpt are here.)

Today we’re going to talk about a book I found at a garage sale around the corner from my house, rather than a library book sale book. I picked up this book because I suspect that I spent a lot of my childhood watching British mystery series on Masterpiece Theater on PBS. At least, it feels like I did.

I have many vague memories of different shows, but I remember Rumpole. He was my dad’s favorite. He was a large, loud, unapologetic man married to someone he called She Who Must Be Obeyed. I admittedly don’t remember anything other than that.

But when I saw this book at the garage sale, I remembered how much my dad liked Rumpole, and I picked it up for, like, a quarter.

(Also, I’ve talked to my dad, and he’s going to take this book off my hands next time I see him.)

Title: Rumpole a la Carte
Author: John Mortimer
Genre: Mystery short story collection
Publication Year: 1990

Pros: Rumpole is very much a character, and despite the age of the book it ages fairly well
Cons: I don’t understand how the British court system works and so I found some bits confusing

Each short story is almost exactly 40 pages long, which I like in an OCD sort of way.

So, while I remembered my dad liking Rumpole (Rumpole of the Bailey, I believe the TV show was called) I didn’t actually remember the set up of the show. Rumpole is a defense lawyer (Defence barrister, in the British, I suppose) whose main goal seems to be getting his clients–who are always innocent, at least in these shorts–off in court. He does do some investigation on his own and does tend to figure out what really happened, but he only uses this information to clear his own client. He never does anything beyond that.

Despite being set in the Bailey (which I assume is some sort of…law office? Hold on, searching–it’s a criminal court. My questions are not answered) and often on the floor of a court case, there is a definite element to these stories which is almost cozy mystery-esque. The stories involve the case at hand, but they also spend a lot of time on the antics of Rumpole’s fellow Bailey denizens, or on Hilda’s (that’s She Who Must Be Obeyed’s name, but in the stories she’s more often referred to by her name) relations or friends.

And the stories have aged well. I find sometimes, with older mysteries, that sometimes they come across misogynistic or sexist or racist or whatever, in a way that was acceptable at the time. But Rumpole literally does not care about any of that, so it’s all pretty minor.

Overall, I enjoyed the collection. The stories were a good length, the cases varied, and the characters interesting.

On a side note, before I let you guys go, I apparently had some issues as a child telling the time period of said British mystery shows. Part of that was probably the variety of shows in many different time periods, and part of that is probably the fact that lawyers wear robes and wigs at court in the UK, and so throws childhood perception off. From this book at least, it seems like Rumpole was contemporary to when he was being published.

Anyway! Did you guys watch the Rumpole of the Bailey tv show? Read any of the other books? Have thoughts of other good mystery short story collections?

Cover Reveal: Hallowed Hill, Out October 1!

Hooray! Squiders, I’m so pleased to present to you the cover for my Gothic horror novella Hallowed Hill.

Hallowed Hill cover

Maybe you should look a gift horse in the mouth.

After the sudden loss of her parents, 16-year-old Martie Torsney receives a surprise scholarship from a prestigious boarding school. This is the opportunity she needs to leave the heartbreak and echoes of her parents behind.

Greyson Academy sits deep in the forests of Vermont, high on a hill overlooking the trees. The school has a long history of helping its students succeed in life. If Martie excels here, she’ll be set.

But all is not well at Greyson. Scholarship students are very rare, and none has ever completed their time at Greyson. And, now, someone wants Martie gone too. Her things are moved, cryptic messages are left, and the school is vandalized in her name. But is it the living trying to scare her away–or the dead?

Martie is determined to stay, for herself and for her parents’ memory. But staying may cost her more than she ever imagined.

If you love ghost stories and mysteries, check out Hallowed Hill now!

The book will be released on October 1 (just in time for Spooky Season) and is currently available for pre-order in ebook form.

Preorder here: ( Kindle | Smashwords )

Promo: The Island Mother by Jon Cohn

Good morning, squiders! Today I’ve got a promo for you. Take a look and see if it sounds interesting!



Horror / Suspense / Thriller

Date Published: July 14, 2022

 

photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

 

Leigh Ramos is a woman on the run from her own life. After barely escaping from a toxic relationship with a drug dealer, emotionally codependent Leigh decides to start her life over somewhere far from the hills of Kentucky. She feels inexplicably drawn to Hawaii, where she manages to land a job in an exclusive resort. At first, it almost seems too good to be true, and of course, it is.

Supernatural horrors start manifesting all around Leigh and her new co-workers, and soon she starts having disturbing nightmares of impossible creatures calling out to her. To make matters worse, Leigh’s violent ex-boyfriend is close on her tail, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. Now trapped in the midst of all these dangers, Leigh can’t help but fall back on old habits. She finds comfort in the arms of her new boss, an upbeat hospitality manager who seems almost too perfect.

In order to survive paradise, Leigh will need to learn from her past mistakes or she will be doomed to repeat them.




About the Author

Jon Cohn has been giving himself nightmares reading horror books ever since he was a small child, and he revels in the opportunity to do the same to others. When he is not busy writing spooky stories, Jon is a professional board game designer and publisher. He specializes in games that– you guessed it– focus on horror, and hopefully a few laughs. He lives in San Diego, CA with his wife and two little monsters, Luna and Gizmo.


Contact Links

Facebook

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Available on Amazon


RABT Book Tours & PR

Here’s some quotes from the book too!

  1. “There’s some catharsis in just going through the motions—loading up everything I own into one bag and pretending like that’s all it takes to leave. Most times, it’s enough to soothe the itch for a while, like a cortisone cream for the soul.”
  2. “First of all, this is not a hotel. This is an exclusive resort for members and their guests only. Anyone you see on this property not wearing an orange shirt is not just rich—they’re obscenely rich.”
  3. “I move a little closer to get a better look at the dead whale. The entire flank of the behemoth has been eaten away. Its guts splay out across the beach, presented like a buffet for maggots.”
  4. “I reach back into my bag, fumbling around for anything I can use as a weapon. My fingers find purchase on the paper-wrapped base of a snow globe, and a white-hot surge of energy pours into me. I hold my family memory tightly as I smash it into Ricky’s temple.”
  5. “I squint at its features and vaguely recognize its face, even though it’s distorted and deformed beyond human proportions. Its jaw opens, revealing an overstuffed mouth lined with long, thin teeth, curving like the ribs of the dead whale. Without moving its lips, it whispers a message. ‘It’s you.’”
  6. “I can’t help it, but the more anxious I get about my choices, the more desperately I want to lie back and curl into Kai’s warm body. Jesus, I can’t even panic about my codependency issues without being codependent.”
  7. “Ohana means family. Family means fishing a dead rat out of a pool to keep things running smoothly for everyone else.”

Thanks, squiders! I’ll see you Thursday when I have a cover reveal for you guys!

Master Plot Series: Other Plot Archetypes

Well, squiders, we’ve reached the end of our summer series. We’ve looked at SO MANY plot archetypes. 7 basic plots, 20 master plots, whatever the 36 plot list was called.

So, we’ve done them all, right?

You would be WRONG.

We’ve mentioned this before, but the whole plot archetype thing is really subjective, and where people draw the differences varies wildly. The three sets we went through are the most popular delineations, but they’re far from being the only ones.

So, to finish up our summer series, I thought I’d give you a quick look at some of the other plot archetype lists.

The Hero’s Journey

Perhaps the most classic of all plot archetypes is the Hero’s Journey, which was created by Joseph Campbell. There are 12 stages:

1. The Ordinary World

2. The Call to Adventure

3. Refusal of the Call

4. Meeting the Mentor

5. Crossing the Threshold

6. Tests, Allies, Enemies

7. Approach to the Inmost Cave

8. The Ordeal

9. Reward (Seizing the Sword)

10. The Road Back

11. Resurrection

12. Return with the Elixir

Kurt Vonnegut’s 6 Archetypes

Vonnegut’s archetypes are based on the main character’s arc through each story.

1. Rise, or “Rags to Riches

2. Fall, or “Riches to Rags”

3. Fall Then Rise, or “Man in a Hole”

4. Rise Then Fall, or “Icarus”

5. Rise Then Fall Then Rise, or “Cinderella”

6. Fall Then Rise Then Fall, or “Oedipus”

The Aarne-Thompson-Uther Index

This is a classification system that was developed for European folklore, and divides those stories up into seven categories with subcategories.

1. Animal Tales

Example subcategories:

  • Wild Animals
  • The Clever Fox (And Other Animals)
  • Wild Animals and Domestic Animals
  • Wild Animals and Humans
  • Domestic Animals

2. Tales of Magic

Example subcategories:

  • Supernatural Adversaries
  • Supernatural or Enchanted Relative
  • Supernatural Tasks
  • Supernatural Helpers
  • Magic Objects
  • Supernatural Power or Knowledge

3. Religious Tales

Example subcategories:

  • God Rewards and Punishes
  • The Truth Comes to Light
  • Heaven
  • The Devil

4. Realistic Tales

Example subcategories:

  • The Man Marries the Princess
  • The Woman Marries the Prince
  • Proofs of Fidelity and Innocence
  • Good Precepts
  • Clever Acts and Words
  • Tales of Fate
  • Robbers and Murderers

5. Tales of the Stupid Ogre/Giant/Devil

Example subcategories:

  • Labor Contract
  • Partnership between Man and Ogre
  • Contest between Man and Ogre
  • Ogre Frightened by Man
  • Man Outwits the Devil
  • Souls Saved from the Devil

6. Anecdotes and Jokes

Example subcategories:

  • Stories about a Fool
  • Stories about Married Couples
  • Lucky Accidents
  • Jokes about Clergymen and Religious Figures
  • Anecdotes About Other Groups of People
  • Tall Tales

7. Formula Tales

Example subcategories:

  • Cumulative Tales
  • Chains Based on Numbers/Objects/Animals/Names
  • Chains Involving Death
  • Chains Involving Eating
  • Catch Tales

Man vs. ?

You probably remember these from school. These focus on the challenges that the main character is confronting. (Also, most modern lists have changed this to Person vs. or Character vs.)

  • Character vs. Character(s)
  • Character vs. Society
  • Character vs. Nature
  • Character vs. Technology
  • Character vs. Supernatural
  • Character vs. Fate
  • Character vs. Self

And these are just some of what comes down to many, many different archetype breakdowns.

So, now that we’ve talked about the varying plot archetypes–what good are they? What can we do with them?

Well, a lot of this is all academic. But, arguably, you can use them as a starting point when plotting out your story. If you know what story you want to tell, or if you know the archetype of stories like the story you want to tell, you can use the same beats as the archetype to make sure you’re hitting all the right notes. Or you can use an unexpected archetype if you want to try giving your story more punch.

Or you can try all sorts of things. Or none of them. Do what you want, man.

Well, squiders, that’s that! I’ll have a cover reveal and an excerpt for you from Hallowed Hill really soon, so keep an eye out for that!

Master Plot Series: Rebellion Against the One

Let’s just pretend this was posted last week like it was supposed to be.

So, continuing on our master plot archetype discussion we come to the ninth of Booker’s seven plots, and his final one. (As mentioned in previous weeks, despite the book being called The Seven Basic Plots there are actually nine plots.) The final plot is called Rebellion Against the One.

As the name implies, this plot involves the main character rebelling against a greater power. Almost all dystopias fall into this archetype.

There are two ways this type of story goes. One, the greater power eventually breaks the main character, resulting in the main character being integrated back into the status quo and nothing really changing. Think 1984 or Brazil. Like the Mystery archetype, Booker doesn’t approve of this archetype because there is a disconnect between the internal character arc and the story itself. With this type of story, basically everything the main character does is all for naught, so what’s the point? (Says Booker, not me.) The powerless remain powerless and the “evil” (though not always) system stays in place.

That all being said, there is a second type of Rebellion Against the One stories. The set-up is the same, where the main character is fighting against the powerful system, except now the character is successful, and the society changes through their actions. The Hunger Games, The Matrix, Scott Westerfeld’s Pretties series, etc.

How do you feel about this sort of story, squiders? Again, I do think it’s kind of funny that Booker just ignored two perfectly reasonable archetypes just because he didn’t like them. What’s your favorite dystopia?

Midjourney and a Giveaway

Good afternoon, squiders,

If you’ve been about the Internet lately, you’ve probably seen something about AI-generated images. I came across Midjourney on one of my writing Discords and have been playing with it in conjunction with my Gothic horror novella which is being released on Oct 1.

It’s interesting, because it’s so hit or miss on whether or not it generates anything useful off your prompts. Like, I got a haunted mansion surrounded by trees that I liked almost immediately, but getting a floating ghost girl has been quite hard, despite trying several iterations.

This is the best I’ve gotten:

Not quite what I’m going for, and this is several iterations and takes on trying to get the appropriate image. Ah well.

It is creepy, though. I like creepy.

I haven’t spent too much time playing with it, because it is a distraction, and there are other things to be done to get the book ready for launch. Like writing my book description, which continues to go poorly. I finally scraped together a version that I felt was worth getting feedback on, and everyone hated it, so there we are.

Also, I forgot that age ranges were a thing. Someone asked if the story was middle grade or young adult, and I’ve just been operating under Gothic Horror, but I suppose it could be considered young adult based on the age of the protagonist, so now it’s back to market research to see if YA Gothic Horror is a thing and, if so, how people are marketing for it.

Yay.

Anyway, have you played with Midjourney or other AI-image generators, and did you like them, or have any tips for getting the images you want?

In other news, Hidden Worlds is including in Prolific Works’ Doorway and Portals bundle, which means you can get a free copy starting tomorrow (Aug 17th) through Sept 7th. Which you should totally do.

See you on Thursday!

Master Plot Series: Mystery

Oho! What have we here? I can hear you saying,”But, Kit, we already did all 7 of the 7 Plot Archetypes! How are we still going?”

Christopher Booker, who wrote The Seven Basic Plots, actually has nine plots. He just doesn’t approve of two of them.

But unfortunately for Booker, just because he doesn’t like a story form doesn’t make it not an archetype.

Booker describes his 8th archetype, Mystery, as a story where an outsider tries to discover the truth of some horrible event. His objection to this as an archetype comes from the fact that the investigator doesn’t have a personal connection to the crime they’re investigating, and so the story lacks the inner conflict/emotional arc of a “true story.”

However, for the sake of argument, I would say that the inner conflict is not necessarily what makes a story. Sure, most stories do have inner conflict and the story is improved (in many cases) by the emotional impact, but we’re not here to judge stories, just to categorize them.

And mysteries are definitely stories. Very popular ones.

Some of my favorites.

And while you do find some that are basically just logic puzzles, where the investigator does come in and lead the reader through the complicated steps of How It Was Done, there are certainly Mystery stories out there where the investigator does have an emotional connection to the crime, and where there are very real consequences for the main character if the crime is not solved.

That being said, it may be that Booker considers this latter type (the mystery where the stakes are important to the main character/investigator) to fall under a different archetype. Tragedy, maybe.

Still, a Mystery is not really a Tragedy. Yes, normally at least one person dies (sometimes more, sometimes no one if something’s been stolen instead, etc.), but even if it is someone close to the main character, there’s still a different feel at the end of the story–that justice has been done, and often a feeling of triumph at having solved the problem, whatever it was. It definitely tends to be more optimistic than a Tragedy, especially if it’s a series and said character shall be seeing several people expire over the next few years.

What do you think, Squiders? Is Booker right in his dislike of the Mystery Archetype?

Favorite mysteries? I’m always up to read a new one.

WriYe and Gift Lists

Good evening, squiders! How is your week going? I’ve been fighting with my book description for my Gothic Horror, which is going worse than expected. I feel like book descriptions are not generally that hard, but maybe it’s just been awhile and I’ve forgotten that they suck.

I think the hook is good; it’s just everything else that sucks.

We also finished Amphibia tonight, which is an animated fantasy cartoon on Disney+. I thought it was going to be silly, but it ended up being really good, with a nice emotional payoff at the end. So if you’re into such things, it would be worth checking out.

Anyway, let’s get on to this month’s WriYe prompt.

What is on your writerly gift wish list?

I’m going to interpret this to mean gifts I would like to receive that are related to writing.

I suppose it could also mean “writerly gifts” like talents, but that feels harder to answer and so I’m going to go with the other interpretation.

I don’t necessarily want anything specific. I’m not sitting around going, “Man, I wish I had so and so, that would really help me reach my writing goals.”

That being said, there are things that I always like. Notebooks. Pens. I’m rather partial to fingerless gloves and arm warmers of various types, though I don’t use them as much as I used to. Arguably none of these things are actually helpful for writing.

I have so, so many notebooks.

I guess, if I were going to pick one thing I’d really like, it’d be a writing cave of some sort. A friend of mine has a shed out in his backyard where he goes to write. I have my office, but it’s not mine alone–my spouse and my children also use it, and I do other work other than writing there as well, so it’s not ideal. There’s something very appealing about perhaps having a shed or something out in the yard that would be explicitly for writing. Unfortunately it’s against our covenants, and there’s not really anywhere to put it.

But it would be nice. Maybe someday.

Until then, I shall hoard notebooks, I suppose.

What would you pick, squiders?

Master Plot Series: Rebirth

Good evening, squiders! Today we look at our final of the 7 Plot Archetypes (though not our final entry in the series), which is Rebirth.

(In other news, I finished my edit and sent my novella off to the copyeditor, and then I attempted to do some market research for covers/descriptions on Amazon and discovered that a) there is no Gothic Horror category, and b) all the related genres–Gothic fiction, ghost horror, ghost suspense–have no patterns, so I guess I’m going to make that up as I go. Whee! Chaos.)

Anyway, onward.

7 Plot: Rebirth
20 Plots: Temptation, Transformation, Maturation, Sacrifice, Discovery
36 Plots: Self-sacrificing for an Ideal, Self-sacrifice for Kindred, All Sacrificed for a Passion, Necessity of Sacrificing Loved Ones (all of these related to the Sacrifice 20 Plot, none for any of the others)

Again, so interesting to see how the so-called master lists of plot archetypes don’t really line up at all.

Rebirth is one of the most classical of archetypes, being found in many major religions. At its most basic, a rebirth story has its character changing and becoming a better person, perhaps by going through some sort of trial. The rebirth can be any major transformation the main character goes through, though they are almost always for the better. Often the character(s) are living in some sort of terrible state before the transformation, and a character may not be the driver of their own story, instead being forced by fate or helped by other characters to complete their changes.

Examples: A Christmas Carol, the New Testament, Beauty and the Beast, Groundhog Day, The Secret Garden, Pride and Prejudice

Our 20 Plot archetypes don’t necessarily match the generally positive outcome of the Rebirth archetype. A Temptation story involves someone being tempted (eyyy) often in a way that will be catastrophic in some way if they give into it. These do not need to be happy stories. Transformation stories include the main character changing–usually emotionally or spiritually, unlike Metamorphosis, which we discussed in an earlier week–though unlike Rebirth stories, they don’t need to follow the same beats; any change can count. However, many of these stories do follow the same path as a Rebirth story, where the character comes out a better person. Maturation is a more specialized form of Transformation, where the character becomes wiser (and older) throughout the story. Coming of age stories can and often do fall under this.

Discovery is where the character learns something that changes their world view, forcing them to adapt to their new truth.

Sacrifice is where the character gives something up, often for their loved ones or the good of the world. The connection to the Rebirth archetype here is that the sacrifice is at the end of the story, after the character has grown and learned and become the sort of person who can make such a sacrifice. I mention this one last so we can roll into our four related 36 Plot archetypes, which are all based in the Sacrifice archetype.

Self-sacrificing for an Ideal is where the main character sacrifices something for a greater purpose, such as to change the world. Self-sacrifice for Kindred is where the sacrifice is made for a loved one, which often goes along with an understanding of what is most important in life (think of those stories where a character turns down an important promotion or something so they can spend more time with their family). All Sacrificed for a Passion is where the character gives up everything for something else (someone leaving everything they know and have worked for to move for a new love, etc.) and Necessity of Sacrificing Loved Ones is where the main character is forced to sacrifice a loved one (eyyy) for a greater purpose, like when Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter so the Greek troops can reach Troy.

Again, the 36 Plot archetypes don’t have to have the generally positive outcome of the Rebirth archetype.

Well, that’s our 7 Archetypes (as laid out by Christopher Booker)! What do you think? Do you feel like all the stories can fall into those 7 archetypes? Do you feel like something is missing? Thoughts on Rebirth?

Next week we’ll look at the first of Booker’s rejected archetypes, which is Mystery.