The One Where I Paint Dragons

This is not a dragon. This is a smoked turkey. If you can roll it, you can smoke it.

Hiya inklings! I’d intended to post this before I left town for Thanksgiving, but what with last-minute arrangements for household felines as well as the babying of a raw turkey, said intended blogpost did not happen.

(By the way, this year’s Thanksgiving celebration took place at a KOA Campground in Lubbock, Texas. Ed smoked the turkey, and the rest of the meal prep happened on the stove and 1ft² countertop in an RV. We washed the dishes in two pans of hot water on a picnic table. My Thanksgiving in an Army mess hall has now been bumped from 1st place to 2nd in the Most Unique Thanksgiving Memory category.)

It’s worth noting that I had three posts in mind to write before I left. As you might have noticed, none of them happened. So you’ll be hearing from me several times this week. This might or might not flip your bangerang switch. If it does, please do let me know. I get excited about people getting excited about my blog.

If it doesn’t, just don’t bogart my bangerang. We’ll all be happier.

So. The one post I wanted to write concerns this:

The Dragonswarm by Courtney Cantrell, design by Aaron Pogue.

This, my lovelies, is the cover art I painted for Aaron Pogue‘s upcoming fantasy novel The Dragonswarm (December 2011!). If you wanna know what the title refers to, all you gotta do is click the image to embiggen.

To date, this is the best dragon painting I’ve ever done. It’s water-miscible* oils on canvas, 30in. x 40in. I should’ve counted my hours; I forgot to. But I worked on this for the better part of 6 weeks.

If you were guessing, you might guess that the crimson dragon was my greatest challenge. Indeed, that dude was not easy. He started life as the outline of a dragon flying in at a completely different angle…and, because I didn’t have time to paint for a week or so, he dried that way. When I came back to him and decided I’d done him all wrong**, I had to paint over the part I’d messed up. Which meant mixing paint to match the background. Which wasn’t easy. And blerg.

But.

If you were guessing, you’d be wrong. Because the teensy dragons were actually the greater challenge. Do you have any idea how hard it is to render dozens of tiny little dragons in variegated flying formations with oil paint? I’m willing to bet you don’t. Because I didn’t. Strangling Aaron ; ) wasn’t an option, so I girded up my loins (ooh la la) and got ‘er done.

When done, I sat back and heaved many sighs of relief and hmmm’d much satisfaction to myself. Accepting the challenge had me fluttery with nerves. Meeting the challenge had me from warm-fuzzy to hot-glowy. This painting was FUN. And the best part is that once I was finished, I didn’t want to strangle Aaron anymore.*** Yay, everybody wins!

Amy of Amy Nickerson Design is working on the trade dress. She did the trade dress for my novels, too. She pretty much rocks.

Another of my dragon paintings adorns Aaron’s first fantasy novel, Taming Fire. Taming Fire is a bestseller at Amazon, having sold 30,000 copies since its June 2011 release. It’s spent over 100 days on the Top 100 Best Sellers in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

I like to think my art had even just a little something to do with that. ; )

________________
*Water-miscible oils are oil paints (and linseed oil) that have been chemically altered to bond with water. Regular oils require me to use more toxic stuff like turpentine or turpenoid. I *like* not breathing toxins. Oxygen is kinda my friend.

**TWSS. *gigglesnort*

***Concerning the strangling-of-Aaron desire, I might be exaggerating for dramatic blogging purposes.

The One Where I Get Interviewed for #KindleAllStars

So, when I mentioned earlier today that Tony Healey at fringescientist.com was gonna post an interview with me “tomorrow,” I was thinking of “tomorrow” in terms of *my* time zone.

Tony, however, is not in my time zone. Tony dwells far, far away in a land called “United Kingdom” — which, of course, means that he’s a couple+ hours ahead of me.

As a lifelong expat-turned-repat-turned-expat-turned-repat, not to mention as an adult TCK*, I really should’ve remembered that.

All of this is to say that, because in his world, it is already November 16th, Tony’s interview with me has gone live, and you can click this link to read it. Bangerang. Comments are, as always, most welcome (and encouraged!). ; )

______________
*TCK = Third Culture Kid. Someday, I shall explain this in-depth. For now, suffice it to say that I am an adult one of these, and it makes me cramazingly crazy sometimes.
😉

#KindleAllStars: The Punk Rock of Literature

Got my Kindle All-Stars swag!

Hello, my lovelies–

If you’ve been paying attention (and I know you have, because that’s just the sort of conscientious dears you are), you know that I’ve gotten involved with the Kindle All-Stars: Resistance Front project.

In case you got distracted by something shiny (which could cause a slight wavering of your attentiveness): The Kindle All-Stars: Resistance Front project aims to showcase indie authors in a speculative fiction anthology, while doing something cramazing, like, oh, donating all of the anthology’s proceeds to charity.

This really flips my bangerang switch. It also swings my verge. Especially since I get to be part of it.

You, my dearest inklings, already know quite a bit about me, if you’ve been following my bloggèd ramblings (see parenthetical content of first paragraph). You might not, however, know anything about any of the other authors whom Kindle All-Stars El Presidente Bernard Schaffer dubs “the punk rock of literature.”

To help you get to know everyone better, punk rocker Tony Healey has engaged in a copious amount of interviewing of the rest of the troupe. He’s publishing all of the interviews on his blog; for your convenience, they are all listed right here.

As I’m re-checking the interview posting schedule Tony sent out to all of us, I see that my interview is up for publication tomorrow. So I guess this blog post coulda waited ’til then. But there’s nothing like getting word out early, right? Or late, from other punk rockers’ perspective. *sigh* Well, anyway, I’ll post the link to my interview when it goes live tomorrow.

In the meantime, head over to Tony’s blog to find out the whos and whats of my fellow indie punk rockers!
😀

In the Beginning (Consortium Roots)

Hile, inklings! I hope you’re all having a cramazing life today.
: )

At the end of a blog post on her Go To El, the fabulous El recently posed the following question:

Did you ever walk into circumstances and come out with a lot more than you bargained for?

I posted the following as my response, and I felt it worth sharing here (especially for the benefit of MY NEWEST READERS, WHOM I WELCOME WITH MOST HYPERACTIVE JOY!!!):

“Did you ever walk into circumstances and come out with a lot more than you bargained for?”

Yes. ; ) Here’s the story:

Shawn: Courtney, you know Aaron Pogue? He likes writing, you like writing, our friend JT likes writing, and I like writing — we should form a writers’ group!

Me: Um, sure!

Me: Hi, Aaron and JT. Shawn says we should form a writers’ group. What do you think?

Aaron, JT: Um, sure!

*many writers’ meetings happen*

Aaron: Hey, Courtney, we should start a nonprofit organization to support the arts, and you should be the head of our writing school.

Me: Um, sure!

*shortly thereafter*

Aaron, Hey, Courtney, part of this nonprofit should be an indie publishing house, and we should help each other and all of our writer friends self-publish our novels.

Me: Um, sure!

Aaron: And Carlos and Julie want to help us with cover art.

Carlos, Julie: Yay!

Me: So does Amy!

Amy: Yay!

Aaron: And Jessie wants to be our editor.

Jessie: Yay!

Aaron, Courtney: And here are all these other people who want to help and whom we can help in return!

Everybody: Yay!

18 months later, the Consortium has published 6 novels, 1 speculative fiction magazine, and a stand-alone short story.

It’s unimaginably more than I bargained for. And it is wonderful. : )

_________

And you, dear readers? When did you get more than you ever dreamed possible? Share in the comments!

Also, I know that when we get “more than we bargained for,” the “more” isn’t always good. Sometimes, it’s pretty bad. Please do share those times with us as well, if you’re so inclined.
After all…”shared pain is lessened” (Spider Robinson).

Cowards, Silence, and Innocent Blood

As I write this, I am watching the kids get off the bus at the stop outside my house, and tears are streaming down my face.

I had decided not to write about this. I had decided that I would put out a few links on Twitter and Facebook, briefly state my opinion, stop reading news articles, and turn my attention to happier things in order to preserve my sanity.

But I can’t.

My heart hurts too much, and for this moment, I cannot look away.

When, as an adult, you come come across another adult raping a small child, you should a) do everything in your power to rescue that child from the rapist, b) call the police the moment it is practicable.

–from John Scalzi’s Omelas State University,
November 10, 2011

There was the rapist. There was the 28-year-old man who witnessed the rape. There was the father of the witness. There was the coach who heard it from the father. There was the school administration who heard it from the coach.

Not one of them stood up and stepped between that child and his tormentor. To be clear: A 67-year-old man was anally raping a 10-year-old boy in a university locker room shower. Within days, at least five people knew about it, and not a single one of them reported the rape to a law enforcement agency.

The silence of these men rips my heart to shreds.

Now, there is a campus full of at least 1,000 university students who rioted over the firing of their beloved coach — their beloved coach who knew his friend and co-worker was raping young boys and did nothing to stop him.

Some of these students, according to the sister of the boy in the shower, are turning that boy’s torment into a joke. They talk about getting “Sanduskied.” They laugh.

Don’t tell me that this is unlike German civilians ignoring clouds of ash above a concentration camp.

Don’t tell me that this is unlike audiences of young Americans in the 1990s, laughing at the nakedness of imprisoned Jews in the movie “Schindler’s List.”

Don’t tell me dear old “JoePa” did what he could by reporting the incident to his administration. Don’t stand there and tell me he fulfilled his legal obligation by telling the university.

What of his moral obligation?

What of these men’s collective moral obligation to that child?!?

To that child, the report of the rape to university officials means NOTHING. They left that child in the cold, and the other victims with him. They turned their backs on that child and shook hands with the man who raped him.

Oh, cowards.

How can you justify remaining silent when the blood of the innocent calls out for justice?

Want me to get graphic about it? How about the anal blood of the innocent?

How can you justify the culture of silence surrounding this horror?
How can you justify the seed of awful darkness that grew in this silence?
How can you justify supporting a man who supported a child rapist?
How can you make jokes about the rape of a child?
How can you look away?
HOW CAN YOU WITNESS THE RAPE OF A CHILD AND LOOK AWAY?

__________

Some of you know that I’m involved with the Kindle All-Stars project, a collection of short stories in support of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. All proceeds from the anthology will be donated to the Center.

It is a small, small thing I do, donating a story to help prevent the rape of children. I feel humbled and thankful that I can help even just a little bit. I pray that I will have opportunity to do more.

But my small contribution doesn’t make my heart ache any less.

I feel like I’m in mourning.

Either in the near future or in the distant future, the rapist and his accomplices in silence will pay for what they have done. In the meantime, there are at least several thousand young adults who care more about their school’s and one man’s reputation than they care about the sexual torment of at least 8 innocent children.

That breaks my heart into more pieces than can be put back together right now. God, please save all of us from this corrupt generation.

As I write this, I am watching the kids get off the bus at the stop outside my house, and tears are streaming down my face.

Stop and Smell the Everything

Threads of joy turn to strong, protective cables.

I logged on to my blog’s dashboard, intending to tell you dear inklings a few things about my NaNoWriMo shenanigans of the past ten days. But before I started penning my post, I checked Twitter and got distracted by @Chief187s Candice Smith’s latest blogpost on Simple Joys.

Pop over and read Candice’s heart-warming post about her family and her appreciation of the little things, the Simple Joys that keep us all going even when we don’t realize it.

Maybe especially when we don’t realize it.

Candice’s post prompted me to record these thoughts:

We all need frequent reminders to stop and pay attention to the little things that infuse small threads of joy into our hearts. Those threads wind and bind together until they form a powerful net of joy that catches the negatives of life and casts them back out, keeping our hearts safe and protecting our joy, protecting our appreciation for life and love and the world around us.

One of the things I’m appreciating most about these ponderings is that they give me an excuse to use one of my new favorite blogpost tags: “entropy takes one in the kisser.” BANGERANG.

Simple Joys. Simple, tiny threads of pleasure, happiness, contentment, hope. If we let them, those tiny threads will turn into solid, powerful cables that will never let us fall.

Take a page out of Candice’s book: What are your Simple Joys?

Sometimes, a Lady’s Just Gotta Get Naked

This is a Naked Lady, aka Amaryllis. She grows, she changes, until she becomes what she is meant to be. She is vulnerable to her environment, but she is strong in joy over being what she is meant to be. She is naked. But she has no fear.

Thought of the Day:

To get what you want, you’re going to have to change.
 

 

 

 

You can’t keep doing just what you’re doing and expect to achieve a final destination that’s not at the end of your current path. You know what your current path is and what it leads to. You know it leads to something other than what you want.

So, to get what you want, you’re going to have to change.

It might be a tiny change, something so small that you are the only one who notices. It might be so small that even you don’t see its ripple effects until years and years later.

Or it might be a change so obvious and so radical, it makes your inner circle sit up and pay attention.

It might even be so ginormous a change that your inner circle turns on you for being different. It might be so great a change that they cast you out of their hearts.

Either way, to get what you want, you are going to have to change.

You just have to decide how badly you want it.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. Go do something fantastic. : )

Top 10 Writerly Fears; Also, #NaNoWriMo

Halloween is scary. Writerly fears are scary. Therefore, a non-scary (I hope) pic of me with my Halloween facepaint totally fits the subject of this post. No, really, it does. Click to embiggen!

Hello, my darlings. I’m sorry you’ve heard nothing from me all week! Alas and alack, all of my wordage has gone toward National Novel Writing Month, the insane challenge of writing a 50,000-word novel during the month of November.

I undertake it every year because I am a crazy person.
 

 

 

Most happily, the daily word count average is 1,667. As of this blogposting, I am the happy writer-owner of 14,200 words, which puts me about 5 days ahead of where I need to be. My story is the low sci-fi adventure Elevator People (working title), and it is going quite cramazingly. Thank you for asking. : )

I have a couple thousand more words to pound out tonight. So, without further ado or adon’t, here is a top ten list to entertain you!

Top 10 Writerly Fears

 

  1. Every image I use is cliché.
  2. My character doesn’t have a clear voice.
  3. I am a one-trick pony. (I.e. everyone loved my last book — what if the next one sucks?)
  4. My friends are going to disapprove.
  5. My family is going to disown me.
  6. I can’t execute the requested edits.
  7. I can’t make this story long enough.
  8. I can’t make this story short enough.
  9. I’m going to invest ten years in this writing business and then find out I should’ve done something else.
  10. I’m never going to get any better at this.

____________________

I should note, perhaps, that only a few of these are my personal fears, and they only rear their ugly heads upon occasion.

How about you? Do these fears match any of yours?

Which writerly fears can you think of that I didn’t mention?

The comments are yours. Weigh in! : )

* Facepainting design based on designs by Fancy Faces Face Painting. (Used by permission.)