ASIN: B00AY2K1H6

In January of 2013, I published an e-book short story at Amazon about a teenage boy who joins up with his friends and sits around a campfire and tells ghost stories. All goes well until hell hounds break up their party and chase the boy off the edge of a cliff. Spoiler: He lives.

The e-book was based on a short story I wrote in my ninth grade Creative Writing class about a teenage girl who camps on a ridge with her friends overnight and sees ghost dogs prowling the countryside.

The story went through several drafts because my English teacher wanted me to consider different points of view and gender relationships. We also studied various dramatic elements, which resulted in the girl dying and returning as a ghost in one version. In another version, a witch saves her from falling off a cliff and they become friends. I finished the course with a dozen drafts of a story that had begun with a girl and some ghost dogs and ended with a boy and some hell hounds.

”Hell hounds” became condensed to “hellhounds” during a rewrite for the 2013 Amazon book and I was happy with the plot and character results. I published more short stories that year and made them a series called “The Ridgewood Chronicles.” Then I took a long sabbatical during 2014 to plan and write a novel.

Self-publishing wasn’t new to me — I’d published several of my stories via desktop publishing, and I’d been making them available in PDF format at my website since the early 1990s. Whenever I made changes to my stories, I republished them as a new edition. But I went a step further with Amazon’s Kindle publishing program: I replaced my short story with the novel with the same title.

Hindsight is 20/20 and I learned that I should have published the novel as a separate book with a different title. But there was no manual at Amazon telling me about the ensuing difficulties of my readers getting the old book replaced by the new one on their Kindle readers. The same applied to when I changed the cover art in 2015. Past purchases stayed unchanged.

So, old readers had my short story and new readers had my novel. When people talked about Night of the Hellhounds, I didn’t know which story they referred to — the short or the long. It was confusing. So, in 2016, I changed the novel’s title to end the confusion. Or so I though, haha. I was wrong.

The book almost became Cursed. Hindsight: I wished I’d not changed my mind. Instead, I titled it Margga’s Curse — a name difficult to pronounce correctly. Margga is pronounced marj-GAH.

Margga’s Curse ran for a year before I took all my books off Amazon’s market. (It’s still available for free at Smashwords, ISBN: 9781311627582, but I plan to take it off that market next year.)

Some people who have the old Kindle versions of this book may hate me when I say this, but I’m publishing a new version of ASIN: B00AY2K1H6 — all brand-new, though it will have its old and original title: “Night of the Hell Hounds” — later this year. It’s a 3,800-word Halloween short story about 12-year-old Nick Andrews who loses his big brother to war. After the funeral, he discovers that his brother had access to magic via a computer program and a green crystal pendant that can send the wearer of the pendant to another dimension of reality. He ends up at a cemetery in Ridgewood where someone has stolen the sacred bones of its protector dogs and turned them into vicious hell hounds. He meets three others trapped with him inside the cemetery. One of those people is Vree Erickson, but she’s a minor character. This is Nick’s story and it’s the first book of the Green Crystal series, even though it’s listed as a Ridgewood Chronicles short story in the subtitle.

Because of Nick’s age and the story’s subject matter, Amazon will likely shove this in its Young Adult Fantasy section. I don’t write to an audience, so I didn’t write this to be a kid’s book. Though I don’t use profanity or explore sexual matter (a reflection of my childhood), I do explore dealing with death and the pain of loss that comes with it, the good and bad of escapism, and the desires of wanting to belong to friendships, wanting to be loved, and wanting to be happy in life.

I’m planning a Halloween release. Stay tuned for more info.

Peace and love!

My Return To KDP

After a lengthy absence from Amazon’s publishing outfit Kindle Direct Publishing, I took the first Vree Erickson short story “A Night of Hellhounds” from mothballs and made it available again at Amazon.com as a new ebook.

The ebook is 3,000 words and approximately 16 pages long. It is priced at 0.99 US dollars at the US Amazon site and sports a new cover that I had too much fun creating. For this cover, I took away all hellhound and other canine references and concentrated on location—specifically Vree’s fall from the cliffs into Alice Lake.

The book is a quick read, hence the 99-cent price, and is available as an ebook only. I do not plan to publish paperbacks of my single short stories.

Go to amazon.com/dp/B09BFLJ563 for your copy.

Free Books

I just found out that July is a great month to get ebooks for free or at discounted prices at Smashwords. I have two books there that are permanently free, and one that is 99 cents (USD). The free ones are Old Bones: A Collection of Short Stories and Margga’s Curse: A Vree Erickson Novel. Kismet: A Ridgewood Tale is 99 cents.

Smashwords-800x632

My Smashwords author page link where you can find my books at the bottom of the page.

I have also discovered over at Amazon that these guys hate letting authors give away books permanently for free. They have allowed me to lower the prices of Old Bones and Margga’s Curse to 99 cents, but no lower, even though I contacted them months ago to set the prices at FREE. If you happen to be at one of those Amazon ebook sites and you do not see the book listed as free, please take a moment to submit the price difference from B&N or any of the other sites they are free on. Amazon claims to listen to their customers. If only they would listen to us indie authors and respect our wishes.

Thanks to everyone who have downloaded my books. Super Thanks to everyone who have read my books. And an Awesome Thank You to those of you who have written reviews. Places like Amazon build walls around indie authors; reviews help tear them down.

99-cent eNovel

Beginning 8:00 AM (PST) tomorrow, you can buy my e-novel Night of the Hellhounds for 99 cents at Amazon. I am still trying to get them to price it as a Perma-Free book. Meanwhile, I hope my book will see some attention from readers who enjoy fantasy stories.

For readers without the Kindle e-reader, you can still read my books purchased from Amazon without using Kindle or the Kindle app. Calibre at calibre-ebook.com is a free ebook editing program that allows you to deconstruct my books and change them from Mobi files to whatever is convenient for you. There are no DRM codes in my books to wrestle with, so you have the option of sharing my books freely with others. I don’t think of it as stealing, and neither should you. You’re getting and giving books that I wanted to be free of any price in the first place. And you’re helping an unknown author become known.

For more info about my books, go to my author page Steven L Campbell @ Amazon and click on the book links.

Happy reading!

And as always, if you like—or don’t like—the books, please leave an honest review at Amazon. Many thanks to those who have.

Who I Am at Amazon [author news]

When I wrote Night of the Hellhounds: A Novel last year and placed it at Amazon for the Kindle e-reader, the folks at Amazon confused it with Night of the Hellhounds: A Ridgewood Short Story that I published two years ago, and they placed the two books together, despite the distinction of separate ASINs for each title. Thus, the folks at Amazon put readers’ reviews for the novel alongside reviews for the short story. During that confusing time, I took the short story out of circulation to avoid any more disorder.

Recently, I redesigned the novel’s cover and made the appropriate changes at Amazon. When I did, the folks at Amazon noticed the error of placing reviews for two separate books on the same page and gave my novel a brand-new review page—a blank slate—which means I have lost all the previous reviews for the novel. So, if you wrote a review for the novel prior to its new review page, will you write another one please? I would greatly appreciate it.

Now I am going to go pull out all my hair in a fit of frustration.

But before I go, allow me to clear the confusion between me and another author at Amazon who shares my first and last names. I am not, repeat, NOT the Steven Campbell who writes the Hard Luck Hank books, despite the constant prompts at Amazon that try to make readers think otherwise. I pen my books as Steven L Campbell (or Steven L. Campbell at places that insist on “proper” abbreviations), so look for the L between Steven Campbell wherever e-books are sold.

Free Book Friday [book news]

My eBook Night of the Hellhounds: A Ridgewood Novel is free at Amazon for the Kindle e-reader this Friday. You can download a copy directly by clicking on this link.

Here is the official cover I created for the book, so look for this cover when getting it.

The novel replaces a short story I had published 2013 at Amazon and is no longer in print. However, the short story is featured at the end of the novel, along with two other versions of the story—my gift to you.

Happy reading.

Promo Week for Night of the Hellhounds

My fantasy novel Night of the Hellhounds is free this week, beginning tomorrow, Tuesday (the 18th) and ending Saturday (the 22nd) for its 5-day promotion at Amazon. Get it free for your Kindle by going to this Amazon.com page on those dates. Its price will return to $.99 after that.

About the Novel

This is the novelization of “Night of the Hellhounds” short story published January 2013. Whereas the short story was about Lenny Stevens, the novel centers on his friend and neighbor, 15-year-old Vree Erickson, a girl destined by the fates to die during the summer unless she can change her fate.

From the Back Cover

Vree Erickson’s life has gone from bad to worse. She left the lawnmower in the rain and lightning killed her father and burned down her family’s home. To complicate matters even more, the lightning struck her and left her with psychic powers.
Now, Vree and her family are forced to move to her maternal grandparents’ home on Myers Ridge, a strange place near Ridgewood, Pennsylvania. There, July fifth marks the annual “Night of the Hellhounds”—a time when a vengeful spirit witch and her hellhounds return to the property next door every year and reign terror there until midnight.
Unfortunately, try as she may, Vree is unable to ignore the strangeness around her or the witch who wants to take away her powers and kill her. With the help of the cute boy from up the road and mysterious creatures that only they can see, Vree embarks on a difficult journey to save her life and destroy the ghost witch who wants her dead.

The Cover

I drew, painted, and designed the cover by hand and scanned it to my computer, then brought the elements together with a stripped-down version of Adobe Photoshop, and added text via Microsoft Word.

Cover
Cover

Almost Ready for Publication [book news]

If you’re one of my faithful readers, you may be happy to know I’m closing in on publishing my latest e-book, Night of the Hellhounds, a novel loosely based on my short story with the same title. The due date is Saturday, November 15 at Amazon.com.

Meanwhile, my beta readers sent their findings to me during the past weekend and I put my red pen to my book, making corrections. Now, I’m waiting until Thursday to take one last look at the manuscript before I upload it to Amazon on Friday. Those two days will give my brain a small R&R from the story (I know it by heart, front, back and sideways, and I have grown tiresome reading it).

The novel is a major overhaul of the original Kindle e-book short story I published in 2013. Night of the Hellhounds (or NotH for short) began as a story idea in 1971 when I was 14 and became a story by 1974 when I stapled my manuscript’s pages together and called it Ghost Dogs. It stayed that way until I rediscovered it almost two decades ago. After a quick rewrite, I published it as a short story called “Night of the Hell Hounds” at my old website in 2002.

Still, I always knew the story was more than a short one. So, in October 2013, I wrote a detailed synopsis of what I wanted the story to be, structured it into twenty-one chapters, and buckled down and wrote the novel, scene by scene and chapter by chapter until I had a finished draft.

From there, the story took on a life of its own. After twelve months and a few more drafts of tweaking and fine-tuning its parts, I believe this version—the final version—is the best of what NotH has always wanted to be. I expect you readers will let me know either way. So far, two beta readers have given me glowing reviews via emails. One says, “Night of the Hellhounds was amazing! It captivated me from the very beginning. Artistry at its finest. The novel has a strong storyline with a very strong set of characters. I have nothing negative to say; I really enjoyed reading it. I can’t wait for the official release!” Another says, “If anyone could get me to enjoy science fiction, it would be you.”

Here is the story’s unofficial short synopsis (though I’m leaning toward making it the official one):

Vree Erickson’s life has gone from bad to worse. She left the lawnmower in the rain and lightning killed her father and burned down her family’s home. To complicate matters even more, the lightning struck her and left her with psychic powers.

Now, Vree and her family are forced to move to her maternal grandparents’ home on Myers Ridge, a strange place near Ridgewood, Pennsylvania. There, July fifth marks the annual “Night of the Hellhounds”—a time when a vengeful spirit witch and her hellhounds return to the property next door every year and reign terror there until midnight.

Unfortunately, try as she may, Vree is unable to ignore the strangeness around her or the witch who wants to take away her powers and kill her. With the help of the cute boy from up the road and mysterious creatures that only they can see, Vree embarks on a difficult journey to save her life and destroy the ghost witch who wants her dead.

After reading that, I’m ready to read the story again!

A Rant about Amazon Book Reviews

This isn’t a new rant … my friends and family can attest to that. It began when my wife bought me a Kindle a few years ago and I set out reading the self-pub books at Amazon. With so many, many books added to the list each day and with me having so little time to read, I took to glancing at their five-star rating system and choosing books with the most 4- and 5-star ratings (4 for “I like it” and 5 for “I love it”). But many of those books had glaring editing problems, which took away from my reading enjoyment.

On the other hand, I found books with overwhelming 1- and 2-star ratings (1 for “I hate it” and 2 for “I don’t like it”) that I had read and really liked. They contained no editing problems.

I quickly surmised this as a case of different strokes for different folks. Unfortunately, it cancelled the rating system’s effectiveness for me. After all, some books had as many 1- and 2-star ratings as 4- and 5-star ratings. Yep, different strokes for different folks.

But the rating system isn’t my rant.

It was upon further inspection that I found those same books had contradicting bad and good reviews. For example, the following reviews for one book at Amazon gave me the following information:

  • A Disappointment. Do not waste your time reading this drivel. Lots of errors. A self-published nightmare.
  • Well written. Interesting read. Very good plot. Held my interest during the whole time I was reading.
  • Poorly researched. Poorly plotted. Poorly edited. Altogether a poorly written book.
  • Very well written. Good story. I look forward to reading more from this author.

I know firsthand that readers bring their own expectations to a story. And when an author goes in an unexpected direction and/or ends a story shy of those expectations, a reader may give the book a low score out of disappointment of its plot. Plot is fickle. What forms a good plot today may not be so in a hundred years or less.

But when sides cannot agree whether a book is written poorly or written well, then someone clearly misunderstands the concept of what establishes each. It’s one or the other. A book that has grammar and spelling errors is a book written poorly, no matter how well readers find its author’s plotting, research and characters to be. In other words, if you tell me that a book is written well, then you’re saying it has very few if any spelling and syntax errors. Vice versa if you tell me a book is written poorly. Anything else, like plot, research, characterization, is biased expectations. If Joe Smo didn’t get the girl at the end of a romance novel, then good for the author for writing something outside the straightjacket that’s been strangling that genre for ages. But don’t say it’s a poorly written book because its plot dashed your expectations.

Thankfully, Amazon includes a nice “look inside” feature that allows potential buyers to peruse the first few pages of a book they’re considering buying so they can get a feel of how the story flows. If I see spelling and syntax errors while I’m looking inside, I may choose to pass on purchasing and reading the book. Or I may buy it and end up reading a well told story with spelling and syntax errors because more than one thoughtful reviewer said they gave the book four or five stars because they “liked” or “loved” the book’s plot and characters despite the spelling and syntax errors.

Reviews need to be clear to give potential readers the facts.

A review like “A Disappointment; Do not waste your time reading this drivel; Lots of errors; A self-published nightmare,” next to a review that says, “Well written; Interesting read; Very good plot; Held my interest during the whole time I was reading,” means that someone found the errors problematic while reading a story that someone else found interesting with its “very good” plot. Imagine how beneficial it would have been to those of us considering buying the book if the earlier listed reviews had been written this way:

  • “I did not like this book because of its spelling and syntax errors.”
  • “I liked this book because its plot held my interest during the time I was reading.”
  • “I did not like this book because I believe that it is poorly researched, plotted, and edited.”
  • “I liked this book because I thought the story was good. I look forward to reading more from this author.”

This, of course, takes effort on the reviewers’ part to be honest and direct, omitting their personal feelings in the forms of biting remarks and flowery praise. If all reviewers did that, it would make shopping for books at Amazon a lot easier.

Thank You Wholeheartedly [book news]

Although I try to limit using adverbs (and adjectives) in my writing, I could not resist putting one in this post’s title.

Thanks to everyone who took advantage of my FREE eBOOK giveaway. I hope I garnered some new readers, new fans, and new friends. If you do reviews, please go to my author’s page at Amazon.com and click on the book(s).

Comments are encouraged and appreciated.

Thanks again and have a great day.