And the Winners Are…

Greetings, my lovelies! A few weeks ago, I challenged you to tell me what kind of music demons listen to. If you click that link, you’ll see the whats and wherefores, but here’s a brief recap:

In my novel Colors of Deception, the demonic villain has a predilection for the music of rock group INXS. I challenged you to come up with other genres of music a demon might prefer.

In return, I promised two of you a free, signed copy of Colors of Deception, as well as publication of your entries here at courtcan.com.

 

And you, my dear inklings, came through for me. You sent me some really fun reading material — and you challenged me back, because picking the winners wasn’t all that easy!

But pick two winners I did. Read their entries below! In the meantime, thanks so much to all of you who took the time and the creative effort to enter my contest! Even if you didn’t win, I hope you enjoyed coming up with demonic music ideas as much as I enjoyed reading them.

So, without further ado or adon’t, allow me to present the winning entries for the Colors of Deception Give-Away Contest:

Patricia writes:

Isn’t it obvious? Demons listen to reggae! It’s all about “de mon” on “steal” drums, and there’s lots of “dread” locks! It’s reminds them of their tropical hideaway that can be as hot as you-know-where!

 

Ginger writes:

People realize that the life of a demon is a tortured life, one that offers no happiness, constant roaming and a desire to inflict pain and suffering on everyone and everything. Therefore, it is assumed that their music is loud and dark with lyrics that offend.

However what few people know is that the reason a demon always roam, seeking to torture people, is because each demon constantly hears a Pandora Radio Station that is limited to playing Kids Bop, Hannah Montana, Barney and the first 10 seconds of a KISS song after every twenty minutes.

 

Congratulations, Patricia and Ginger! 🙂

Comments, Concepts, and Colossi (Oh MY)

This was gonna be an addendum to a blog post, but then it turned into a minor epistle, so I decided to give it its own post. What we’re talkin’ here, my darlings, is news. Goody!

Comment Notifications
Several readers have mentioned that even though they subscribe to comments on my blog, they don’t receive notification emails when I reply to their comments.

Assuming that all of you lovelies are experiencing the same problem, I have contacted my webmaster-computer-guru-person and asked him most pleadingly to rectify whatever the error might be. Me, I am wholly ignorant of such things. I can only guess that a css-html-widgetcode-plugin-doohickey hath malfunctioned most inconsiderately.

Anyway — we’re workin’ on it.

Appearance
It’s been awhile since I’ve mentioned this, but: I’ve never liked my blog theme. What I’ve got here is a theme called “Matala,” parts of which I love (the ragged paper, the scrawled circles around dates, etc.), but most of which I don’t (frames around images, the in-your-face background image that my webmaster-guru-person got rid of for me, and several other etcs.).

So I’ma change it.

I just don’t know to what, yet.

But if you arrive here next time and don’t immediately recognize your surroundings, don’t panic. That’s just me, rearranging the furniture. (It happens. You should see my living room.)

Work-in-Progress
Yes, there’s a WIP. With all this promoting-of-book and marketing-of-product lately, you didn’t think I’d forgotten I’m a writer, didja?

Well, maybe ja did. I really can’t blame you. Over the last month, I’ve kind of forgotten I’m a writer, too.

So, to give myself a kick in the behiney-pants, I started a new project this past weekend:

I am re-writing a novel I haven’t looked at in 11 years.

 
Yes, I am an insane person. Why do you ask?

I’m not ready to tell the whats and wherefores of this novel yet. But you should know that the words “epic” and “fantasy” are involved. Have you heard me talk about Triad before? Well, this being-rewritten novel is the prequel to Triad. This being-rewritten novel bears the title Legend’s Heir.

Except that in the re-write, I’m taking out all the “legend” references. Heir isn’t such a great title. It’s a bit too similar to Air (vacuous) or Hair (-y).

So. “Epic,” “fantasy,” and working title Legend’s Heir.

Also, there are elves.

Stay tuned.

Insert obligatory “dun-dun-DUN” here.

When Blogging Give You Laryngitis

Will the real Courtney PLEASE make some noise?

Or: A Blogging Voice Is Hard to Come By

If you’ve tweeted with me recently…

…or if you’ve read comments I’ve left on others’ blogs…

…or if you’ve paid close attention to my blog posts over the last month or so,

…you know that I’ve been worrying about my vision and my voice.

When I started this blog, I had a vision for it: I knew I wanted it to be my platform for launching my novels, and I knew I wanted it to be an encouraging, inspiring place to talk about writing.

What I didn’t know was just how to translate that vision into reality.

I still don’t know. I can’t give you a “5 How-Tos for Turning Your Blogging Vision into Reality.” That, however, would make a cramazing blog post, and if you write it, tell me. I will link back to you.

Anyway, I’m still figuring out the how-tos. Judy Dunn (of catseyewriter.com) and I have had several conversations about blogs as labs.

Blogs Are Big, Friendly Dogs

I mean, no: Blogs aren’t big, friendly dogs who lick your face and make big, sad eyes at you. Blogs are laboratories, in which you can experiment with the crazed enthusiasm of a ten-year-old with her first chemistry set.

Mix things! Pour things into each other and see what happens! Sometimes you’ll get gunk, and you’ll get in trouble because you made the house smell like rotten eggs an hour before the neighbors come over for coffee and ice cream. (I might or might not be waxing nostalgically anecdotal here.)

Sometimes, though, you’ll pestle and mortar a few elements into your blog that create a spectacular bang. And that’s when it turns glorious.

So, that’s the blog-as-lab concept. It’s all fun and games, ’til someone gets a thumb burnt off. I’m learning not to be scared to try new stuff (see my recent first video blogs).

When The Dogs Worry Me

The operative word of the previous sentence is “learning.” As I hinted above, I still get nervous about my blog’s vision and voice. If my vision is the theory, then my voice is the practice. And I’m not talking about how my voice sounds in my videos (even though I personally don’t get the greatest thrill out of listening to that, lemme tell ya).

No, what I’m talking about are these questions:

When I write my blog posts, am I being genuine? Am I being sincere?

If I’m not being genuine and sincere, do I at least sound genuine and sincere?

Am I being myself?

How much am I holding back because I’m too freakin’ scared of getting rejected for whatever bizarre reason my subconscious chooses to drum up this time?

I know I’m connecting with readers — but how much more would I be connecting if I weren’t holding back?

Am I truly so terrified of making myself vulnerable?

Three weeks ago, my first novel came out. One would think that means I’m not afraid of being vulnerable. Sharing a novel with the world is a pretty soul-baring thing to do.

But still.

I blog. And I feel myself holding back.

Is it fear?

Or is it pride?

Does part of me still think I have to pretend I’ve got it all together? After all this time and after getting knocked off my self-gifted pedestal again and again, does part of me still believe I’ve gotta show the world some perfect example?

Am I too full of myself to share my true self with you?

In Every Job That Must Be Done…

I found a fun thing this week. Somebody tweeted it, and sadly I cannot remember who it was. But you can find said fun thing here:

Tweet Topic Explorer.

At the bottom of the Tweet Topic Explorer screen, you can type in any Twitter ID, and the system will generate a picture of all these nifty circles of different sizes and colors. Whichever words that Twitter ID tweets the most, those will be in larger circles. And they’re grouped together by color, showing which words appear together in most tweets.

If you click through that link above, you’ll see that I did this with my own Twitter ID. I also did it with several of yours. But I ain’t tellin’. ; )

And as soon as I saw what the Tweet Topic Explorer generated for me, I felt like a burden had dropped off my shoulders.

Sample of Tweet Topics for courtcan

There, my dear inklings, tweetlings, and darlings, is my vision for my blog. Why did the burden drop off my shoulders? Because what I tweet about, I’m blogging about. And if most of my tweets include those words you see up there, that means I’m tweeting and blogging about all the things that are part of my vision.

love
novel
book
color
coffee
read
tim — which is actually “time,” if you must know. ; )

Things I’m thinking as a writer. Things I care about as a writer. Things that keep me going as a writer. Not to mention the people. (Tweetlings, follow those IDs you see in my Tweet Topic cloud thingy. They’re pretty cramazing folks.)

All of these are part of my vision. ‘Twould seem I’m sharing more of that vision than I thought I was.

And as for my worries about my voice…well, if my mind weren’t sitting back and letting my fingers do the talking for this post, I probably wouldn’t have talked about slobber-happy retrievers and crazed ten-year-olds with chemistry sets.

Here’s to fun little hints that let me know I’m “doing it right.” (You know who you are.)

Here’s to keeping it real, and here’s to sharing more and more and more.

_______________________________

Speak up, y’all. What are the vision/voice concerns that keep you up at night?

Is your struggle with fear? With pride? With something else?

What keeps you from making yourself vulnerable?

What are the obstacles keeping you from your audience?

What’s the one obstacle you can pulverize right now?

Tweetlings, do the Tweet Topic thing — what surprises you about your results?

Guest Blogger: Dante Mullins of Saltmarch

The author signed her books...never knowing that I watched.

I stepped into the coffee shop and knew
three things in an instant.

There were humans everywhere — flesh in
motion, sweat glistening, blood pulsing.

There wasn’t a hint of colors.
Holly — sweet, delectable, foolish creature
that she is — calls them “Technicolors.”
If only the communication between demon
and auguren were as simple as movie magic
technology.

But no matter. I saw not a single swipe of
color in the room, which was
enough to confirm no auguren was present.

Ah, you delicious humans — you should
know better than to come to my party
without one of your so-called saviors.

The third sensation that washed over me was
auditory:

They were playing my song.

Devil Inside.
The Strangest Party.
Need You Tonight.
Afterglow.

Take your pick, my tasty ones. If it’s the
sensual strains of INXS, it’s my song,
play it how you will.

Of course, none of the humans saw me as I
slipped in among them; I needed neither
human nor salt layers to enjoy myself in
this venue.

Without senses, I sensed them:
listening in, brushing an elbow here,
caressing the back of a neck there. I tasted
the heat of their breaths on the air.

My name was on their lips as they chatted
and flipped pages and sipped their lattes.
The syllables of my name echoed above the
crowd, rising to mix with the throbbing, savory
notes of my favorite music. If I had blood, it
would have pounded in that luscious rhythm.

If I had limbs, I would have danced and driven
them all wild.

The choice morsel who penned my story
signed her name again and again, never
knowing I stood at her shoulder, whispering
my appreciation. If she frowned once or
twice, it was only because, for one fraction
of a second, her soul felt my presence.

If her eyes scanned the crowd and met
another’s in the briefest of shared, troubled
looks, it was only because their exquisite
hearts trembled at the hunter’s nearness.

Ah, my tempting ones. Indeed, how I
longed to taste you. Just for a moment.

As I roved among them, old friends greeted
each other. New friends introduced themselves.
The baristas kept the coffee flowing. My own
favorite drink was not on tap — or, rather, I
restrained myself from tapping into it.

From a human perspective, blood and coffee
are not the best mixture. Nor do gobs of
flesh pair well with walnut brownies.

They laughed, all of them, those succulent,
frail humans. They mingled, they talked,
they congratulated the happy author. They
bought more books for her to sign, never
realizing that they were taking a piece of
me away with them.

How I shall enjoy getting to know them better.

Until next time, I remain most cravenly —
and cravingly — yours,

________________________________

The author would like to express (or espresso?) her gratitude to Vintage timeless Coffee for hosting the Colors of Deception Book Launch Party. Great fun was had and much coffee was imbibed by all. Everyone’s looking forward to launching Shadows after Midnight, Demons of Saltmarch Book 2, at Vintage in October!

They Got Me To Talk

Thankfully, there were no small rooms, bright lights, or belly-button-invading metal shrimp involved.

Two fabulous fellow bloggers published interviews with me this week!

In my first ever Skype interview, El Edwards of truthpassionjoy.com talked with me about how my husband and I set a goal of 5 years for me to get published — and how I did it in 3. Watch my interview with El here.

And:

In an email interview, Christian Hollingsworth of smartboydesigns.com asked me about my blogging habits, my inspirations, and my social connectivity. Read my interview with Christian here.

Come visit me again tomorrow to hear all about last night’s Colors of Deception Book Launch Party!

Indie Author Freaks Out: Details at 11

In her Twenty Things NOT To Say To A Writer: A Handy Safety Guide, Laura Resnick tells us that a career of writing books “…is insanely competitive, disastrously unstable, and skull-crushingly difficult to do.”

My experience as a published author now encompasses exactly 13 days. So far, I have learned three very important things about this skull-crushingly difficult business, and I am going to tell you about them now.

3 Newbie Lessons from Getting Published

1. When promoting your book, start off strong — but pace yourself.
Thus far, Twitter, Kindleboards, Facebook, and blogging have been my greatest allies in promoting Colors of Deception. I’m tweeting and posting — and to my delight, followers and friends are retweeting and reposting. (Thanks, everybody! You guys are cramazing.)

The result of all this networking isn’t just book sales, though — it’s connections all over the place. It’s encouragements coming in from all sides. And it’s tweets and messages that deserve a personal response.

Right now, I’m happily responding, and I’m making the social media work for me. But I’m also thinking ahead to when I start my next writing project — soon. And when I start it, the networking must take a backseat. I might even have to lock the networking in the trunk.

Because if I’m networking all the time, I’m not writing. If I’m not writing, I’m not me. If I’m not writing, there won’t be any books to network about. So as I’m thinking ahead to the next big project, I’m reminding myself that when it comes to book/blog promotion,

I am a writer first and a business second.

Maybe third.

2. Not everyone will support you. And that’s okay.
I wrote a little about this last week, when I mentioned my tweet about others’ silence. Sometimes, that silence is a worse rejection than an in-your-face confrontation. When you publish a book, you want every single person you know to shower you with congrats. Not that you want heaps and oodles of attention*, but an acknowledgement would be nice, right?

Well, not everyone is going to acknowledge your accomplishment — and that’s okay. Do you acknowledge every single accomplishment of every single person you know? If the answer to that is yes, you can color, paint, and doodle me impressed. Me, I have to answer that question with no. And the reasons behind my negation are legion and would make a whole series of blog posts.

But it all boils down to this: Frankly, I can’t keep up with everybody.

And I can’t expect everybody to keep up with me, either. ; )

Here’s the deal, though: We don’t need everyone in our lives to acknowledge our authorial accomplishments. I think about it this way: When I lose tweetlings (aka followers) on Twitter, it doesn’t mean I’ve failed; it means I’m refining my audience. If people stop following me, it means they weren’t my audience in the first place.

The same applies to my books: If someone doesn’t acknowledge my publishing success, it just means that person isn’t my audience. Maybe they don’t read novels. Maybe they don’t read my genre.

Whatever the reason for their silence, it’s not the end of my world. It’s just the refining of my audience.

3. Book Launch Parties freak out my subconscious.
The Book Launch Party is tonight, and I’ll be posting about it on Thursday. Vintage timeless Coffee is hosting the shebang, and I know it’s going to be fantastic.

That knowledge, however, didn’t prevent the weird dream I had two nights ago of driving my dad to the book launch and heading the wrong way up multiple one-way streets. I tried making a U-turn in front of a lady in a red Dodge Charger, and she almost took the front of my car off.

Fortunately, I understand what’s going on here. I’m an introvert. There will be people at this party whom I don’t know. I’m an introvert. They’re going to want me to say something in front of everyone. I’m an introvert. There’s a reason I chose writing over a career in public speaking. ; )

In spite of my subconscious’s quiet little freak-out, here’s what I know:

I’m surrounded by a kaboodle of supportive friends and family.

Nothing bad is going to happen.

I’m going to have an incredible time.

___________________________
Are you an indie or self-published author?

Do you find this business “insanely competitive, disastrously unstable, and skull-crushingly difficult?” Why or why not?

What are your words of wisdom for the indies and self-pubbed?

What are your sub-/conscious fears about publishing, and how do you deal with them?

___________________________

* Let’s admit it: We writers do like the attention. 😉

Remarkablogger and El Edwards Told Me To Write This

Universe? Is that you?

I talk a lot about synchronicity. That’s when a bunch of unrelated stuff happens, but it’s all pointing toward the same thing, and it happens and points over and over again until you turn your stubborn head and open your eyes to it and say, “Okay, I get it!”

And then you do something about it.

The Synchronized Universe Hits You in the Head (Ouch)

I guess this is what people used to call “serendipity.” But I prefer synchronicity, because I like the idea that a bunch of coolness in the universe gets synchronized in order to get a person’s attention. I think synchronicity affects every single one of us every single day — we just don’t pay enough attention to realize it.

I also believe that synchronicity is a conscious force that rejoices in our every breath and wants to permeate our every moment with beauty, truth, and goodness.

(At this time, I’d like to insert yet another plug for Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, the book that taught me to pay attention to synchronicity.)

I walk through life as half asleep as the next person, I guess…but sometimes, synchronicity slaps me upside the noggin and says, “Yo! Human! Get your heart and mind out of this befuddled daze you’re in and look! I’ve got all sorts of cramazingness waiting for you — all you have to do is reach out and embrace it!”

You get hit in the noggin often enough with love like that, you’ll eventually start looking for it.

I’ve been looking for it. And this week, I found it. Without further ado or adon’t, here’s what synchronicity plopped into my lap this week.

Remarkablogger

In comments on his post WARNING: Perfectionism will Kill You, Michael Martine and I had the following exchange:

Michael: Do what feels right to you but be aware of the edges of your comfort zone, your self-censoring and your perfectionism. …Being a little scared to hit Publish because you were raw or personal or opinionated is a good thing. : )

Courtney (that’s me): You really do hit the nail on its proverbial little head, don’t you? ; ) It’s true, I do censor myself too much. I’m still overcoming lifetime of training that says, “Don’t say that; you’ll offend someone. Don’t say that; you’ll hurt someone’s feelings.” Not that I want to hurt anyone’s feelings — but I do want to write truth, no matter how gritty it gets.
Oh crap. There’s another new blog post to write. *sigh* ; )

Impassionate

Every morning, I listen to El Edward’s Impassionate, audio posts designed to start your day with a little kick of joy and optimism. A few days ago, El talked about going big or going home. She encouraged her listeners to get out of our ruts and get out of our comfort zones. If there’s something we feel passionate about — or something we could become passionate about, if we’d only allow ourselves — then it’s time to stop dithering and worrying. It’s time to get out and do.

Go big.

Dream or Nightmare?

Sometime along in there, between impassioned audio posts and admonishing blog comments, I woke up one morning from a very disturbing dream. I’ll spare you the rather awful details, but here’s the gist of it:

I dreamed that I was marooned on an island with a large group of people. Most were strangers; some were acquaintances. But while I was on this island, the whole group — strangers and non-strangers alike — regularly attacked me. I endured the torment for weeks before I managed to escape. “Escape” consisted of submerging myself in a pond beneath a dock by day, then creeping around at night to find food.

Eventually, the dream switched to a later time at which I was accusing some of my attackers — the acquaintances. Through tears, I demanded to know why they had treated me so horribly. I never got an answer.

Unstressed Syllables and Twitter

You’d think that by this time, I would’ve been getting the message. But no, synchronicity had two more nudges for me…and they came in the form of my own unexpected self-expression.

In this week’s edition of What I Learned About Writing This Week on Unstressed Syllables, I wrote on Allen Ginsberg. He said something really stunning about following our inner moonlight. In WILAWriTWe, I respond by taking myself to task for not having the guts to speak truth in its bluntest, basest form.

Later, “out of nowhere” (ha ha), I tweeted this:

Sometimes, the loudest rejection you can hear is another’s silence. Ignore it! Listen instead to the supportive voices who rejoice with you!

Egad and zounds, Watson-by-George, I think she’s got it.

Let’s Recap

Remarkablogger Michael told me to stop self-censoring and start saying what I really need to say — but be respectful of the consequences.

El’s Impassionate reminded me to stop dithering around in my comfort zone, get out, and go big.

Less than a week after I published my first novel, my dream revealed that I’m feeling vulnerable to strangers and acquaintances. (Me, feel vulnerable after publishing a book? Shocker.)

Allen Ginsberg admonished me to revel in being different, in being a little crazy, in being a little dark.

My tweet knocked me on the noggin, saying, “Hello? Helloooo! Anybody home?”

“Okay, I get it!”

The creative, benevolent, loving force that rules my life is sending synchronicity my way.

I am determined to open my arms and receive it.

I will speak the truth.

I will speak the fears, the loneliness, the rejection. I will speak the joys, the all-encompassing wonder, the acceptance. I will not hide these things from others. I will not secret them away for fear of the consequences.

I will not hide my heart.

And that is why I wrote this blog post. : )

P.S. A shout-out to Judy Dunn of Catseyewriter for inspiring the title. ; )

Photo credit Julie V. Photography.

Win A Free Book!

Win a free, signed copy of Colors of Deception!

Greetings, mesdames et messieurs!

In celebration of the publication of my first book, Colors of Deception, I’m giving some copies away! Over the next two weeks, I’ll be collecting entries for a contest. My two favorites will each win a free, signed paperback.

In Colors of Deception, cute college sophomore Holly Idaho discovers that a demon in stalking her. Over the course of the story, Holly realizes that this demon has a rabid and morbid fascination with the music of rock band INXS.

Why INXS? I don’t know. You’ll have to ask the demon. ; )

According to this demon’s favorite band, we all have “the devil inside.” But maybe this devil prefers a different kind of music?

Maybe you think a demon should prefer Country & Western (which my friend Josh calls “the music of pain”). Or might demons just sing the Blues? Perhaps they go for the classics like Black Sabbath.

Maybe they’re insidious and love The Girl from Ipanema.

So, dear readers, here’s my challenge to you: In one hundred words or less, tell me what music you think demons listen to and why.

Be scary, be humorous, be ridiculous, or be whatever you want to be. My two completely arbitrary favorite entries will receive:

  • the signed copies of Color of Deception,
  • a mention on this blog,
  • and their entries posted here.

I’ll probably post some other non-winning entries I think are clever as well.

Submit your entries in the email form here. The contest ends at midnight, Central Standard Time [UTC-06:00], April 26th. Thanks for playing — and happy writing!

Readers, A Question For You

This is my “off” day (I usually post on Tuesdays and Thursdays), but I have a question for you, my lovelies. So this seems like a good day on which to pose it. : )

Take a look below this post at all those “sexy” sharing buttons.

Which ones do you use? And why?

Which ones do you not use? And why not?

I’m doing a little blog maintenance, so I’m hoping you guys will help me out a little. Thanks!

The One Where I Publish a Book

Or: My Second Video Blog Post

Did I get a book published?

Why yes. Yes, I did.

Colors of Deception is the story of Holly Idaho, a student at Oklahoma Christian University. She thought her sophomore year was starting out fairly normal. But her closest girlfriends, Anne and Celia, are hiding something. Peter, her only guy friend on campus, won’t tell her why he’s acting weirder than usual. Owin, who has been like a brother to her, issues cold demands about her faith.

Colors of Deception by Courtney Cantrell

Holly’s feeling rejected and isolated — and then the anonymous pranks start. Worse, an unseen intruder terrorizes her at her parents’ house. She finally realizes there’s something scarier going on than strained relationships and practical jokes.

Then Peter stuns her with the truth: a demon is stalking her, feeding her doubts and fears in a final play for her soul. It’s Peter’s God-given task to protect her — but he’s running out of options. As the demon closes in, Holly faces a horrible choice: a heaven she fears or a hell she never imagined possible.

“Like” Colors of Deception on Facebook here.

You can buy Colors of Deception for Kindle for 99 cents here.

You can buy it for Nook for 99 cents here.

You can also purchase the book at Smashwords.

The paperback version will be ready soon is now available here! Happy reading!

Colors of Deception is published by Consortium Books.

Colors of Deception cover art by Julie V. Photography and Amy Nickerson.

P.S. It’s henna, and it’s temporary. 😉