New Fantasy Novel Out: Rethana’s Surrender

Nightmares and Dreamscapes

 

When I was 15 years old, I had a dream about a yellow telephone booth.

No, that’s not a Dr. Who reference. ; ) In the dream, I was standing inside the phone booth, holding the handset. (Yes, this was a rotary phone. Let me know if you don’t know what that is. *grin*) Outside, it was dusk, and fog was rolling in. I couldn’t see any farther than about twenty feet from the phone booth. And as I watched, dozens of yellow eyes with slitted black pupils appeared in the fog.

That dream gave birth to the universe in which I set my latest novel, Rethana’s Surrender (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #1).

What’s the Because?!

If you’ve already read Rethana’s story, you’re probably wondering how in the name of all that’s good and writerly I got from {fog + yellow eyes + relatively modern phone booth} to {epic fantasy universe + magic-wielding heroine + semi-political love triangle}. Well, my dear inklings, that story is a rather long one, and tell you it would take a series of novels in which I invite you to explore this whole universe I have built and am building….

Oh. Wait. I guess that invitation would be what Legends of the Light-Walkers (LLW) is all about. ; )

So, the books themselves are the long explanation. The short version is that the phone booth dream turned into a scene in my LLW novel Legend’s Heir (working title). Chronologically, that one takes place before Rethana’s story. But I finished Legend’s Heir (working title) more than ten years ago…and, perhaps needless to say, it needs quite a bit of work before it sees the light of day. Thus, you get Rethana’s story first. Y’all seem like you’re okay with that, though.

And What’s the Big Idea?

The big idea for Rethana’s story grew from a cold, snowy visit to a small town in eastern Germany back around Christmas of 2002. The husband and I were living in Chemnitz, Saxony, then. Some friends took us to the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) in a little town called Annaberg-Buchholz.

I could wax nostalgic on how much I miss the German Christmas markets, but that’s not why you dear people are here, and it would make me cry besides, so let’s just skip that part and move on.

Belltower of St. Annenkirche

On that cold, snowy evening so many years ago, our friends insisted that we visit St. Annenkirche (St. Anna’s Church; please note that I’ve linked to the German Wikipedia article because it has more pictures than the English version). Thus, we traipsed up the hill — there was much slipping, sliding, and sniggering — and entered the church building, where we proceeded to get an unexpected tour.

We ended up climbing the belltower.

If you’ve read Rethana’s story, you know where I’m going with this.

Near the top of the tower, we stepped from the wooden staircase onto a wide, circular platform spanning the width of the tower. About thirty feet above our heads was a wooden ceiling. Another staircase led up to it. The tour guide explained that we were looking at the underside of the apartment housing the bellringer and his family. And above that apartment hung the bells.

These people lived in the top of the belltower. They hauled household goods up to their apartment via lifts that had been operational for hundreds of years. They were in charge of the bells, the largest of which was named Anna.

Images flooded my mind. Characters, scenes, plots, dialogue. In my head, I saw a bellringer family in medieval dress, and I knew they were hiding from something. I saw soldiers and magic-users in the town below, and I knew they were hunting this family. I saw a mischievous young girl using her magic to tease her friends, who were sneaking up the tower staircase to play a prank on her.

All of this flashed through my head within the space of about 20 seconds. In the meantime, the tour guide was still talking. I had no idea what he was saying — but the next thing I knew, he was handing out earplugs. I stuffed them into my ears just in time.

Somebody rang Anna.

Anna of St. Annenkirche is a big girl. Even through earplugs, the noise was deafening. Without really thinking about what I was doing, I wandered over to the stone wall of the tower and laid my hand on it. The wall was vibrating with Anna’s song, and I could feel the reverberation all the way up into my shoulder. And I knew what my next story would be.

Writing Rethana’s Surrender

The mischievous bellringer girl became Rethana Chosardal. Anna became the sacriligiously-named Lirrenae. Annaberg turned into Saemnoth. I started writing the story for NaNoWriMo 2003.

It would take me more than 4 years to finish the first draft. By the time I was done, I had close to 230,000 words. I knew very good and well that no publisher would consider reading an unpublished author’s 200+k words, so I spent the second draft trimming. My mom read it. Another beta reader read it. Both made suggestions, and I trimmed some more. When I hit 210,000, I knew I couldn’t do anything more with the story, so I shelved it and moved on to the next project.

By now, I was living in Oklahoma again and had recently re-met Aaron Pogue, a college acquaintance and fellow writer. We fell to talking of fantasy (because really, why wouldn’t we?), and he asked to read my fantasy novel. I let him.

Aaron had feedback. Part of that feedback was that I should split the book in half so as to achieve a manageable word count. The moment he said it, I knew where: right after the fight scene in Terllach Caverns. Right after Rethana almost admits to Allasin that–

Well, I don’t want to spoil it for you if you haven’t read it. ; )

Aaron said, “That’s a doozy of a cliffhanger. Your readers will hate you for it. Or they might love you.”

Aaron might or might not have actually used the word “doozy.” Either way, I decided to take the risk. And, once he got his indie publishing company, Consortium Books, up and running, he decided to take the risk of publishing it.

So far, so good.

Rethana’s Surrender (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #1), is now available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

If you’ve read the novel, you can post your review at those two links as well as at Goodreads.

ARC Offer Now Closed … But COVER ART!

 

Advance Review Copies of Rethana’s Surrender

Hidey-ho, you dear people,

The offer for Advance Review Copies of Legends of the Light-Walkers: Rethana’s Surrender is now officially closed.

This is not because I don’t love you anymore. I still heart you mightily, verily and forsooth! But alas and alack, the publisher clicked “Publish” at Amazon this evening, and that means the book’s sales page will be live within the next 48 hours. At that point, the “advance” part of “ARC” kinda becomes a moot point. So there ya go. ; )

A HUGE SHOUT-OUT AND THANKS to all of you who’ve requested ARCs since last Wednesday! You do my mushy little writer’s heart so much good. Not to mention my somewhat substantial writer’s ego. ; ) I hope you’re enjoying the read — or have enjoyed already! — and are getting your reviews ready. If you’ve finished your review, you can even post it here on Goodreads before the book is available for purchase.

Don’t forget, if you received an ARC, you can email me with direct feedback if you like!

Cover Art for Rethana’s Surrender

In the meantime, here’s a treat for one and all: the cramazingly stunning cover art by Adele Lorienne. Adele’s eye for detail amazes me…but what makes me drop my jaw over and over again is how well she captured Rethana based solely on my project description. She hasn’t even read the book, and her rendition of Rethana is as accurate and vivid as though Adele plucked the vision straight out of my head.

Adele, you make my character live. Thank you. : )

Trade dress is by Krysten Marshall, who sacrificed (dare I say surrendered?) several nights’ sleep to get the front cover ready to go. Krysten, you went above and beyond for certain! Thank you so much.

Front cover (click to embiggen)

Cover art by Adele Lorienne (click to embiggen)

Advance Reading Copy of Rethana’s Surrender!

Cover art by the cramazingly talented Adele Lorienne

NOTE: Some of you have been expecting this book to come out under the title Schism or Schism’s Daughter. After much debate and debacle, my publisher, our marketing director, and I have finalized the title as Rethana’s Surrender. But it’s still the same story, I promise! : )

Dearest readers!

As you might already know, my newest novel is coming out within the next two weeks! This one is epic fantasy: another world, magic, intrigue, danger, swords, and fantastical creatures. I’ve been writing stories in this universe for twenty years, and this particular novel has been in the works since 2003.

So you can probably imagine how close this story is to my tender little writer’s heart. ; )

But in spite of my possessiveness, I am excited to let you read it. Early. As in, before it’s published.

That’s right, dear inklings! I have Advance Reading Copies available!

If you’d like to get an ARC of Rethana’s Surrender, leave a comment (with a valid email address) on this post before the end of the day Wednesday, June 20th. You don’t need to say anything besides, “Me too, please!” in your comment — unless, of course, you want to tell me how excited you are to get your ARC. : )

I only have digital copies available, but they should be readable on whatever you’re using to read this blog post. On Thursday, I’ll send review copies to the first hundred people who comment below. All I’d ask in return is that you write me a review at the digital vendor(s) of your choice. Blog posts are welcome too, of course.

Aaron is going to send his horde of fantasy readers over here to get their ARCs from me, so get your bid in early!

For those of you who want to know a little more about the novel:

Legends of the Light-Walkers: Rethana’s Surrender is the story of 20-year-old Rethana Chosardal who can use fun and visually cool magic, but she’s not supposed to use it. For one thing, it freaks the natives out. For another, her family has spent the last ten years in hiding from the ruling class of magic-wielding clerics.

When the magic-wielding clerics show up and take Rethana and her sister captive, this is not a good thing.

Also, Aaron recommends that I tell you: In grand The Princess Bride tradition, *this is a kissing book*.

Finally, a shout-out to Adele Lorienne for the lovely cover art that completely blows my mind every time I look at it. Adele, thank you for your stunning work!

UPDATE: The ARC request deadline has passed. But if you want to get your hands on a copy of Rethana’s Surrender, it is now available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

If you’ve read the novel, you can also post your reviews at those two links as well as at Goodreads.

To those who have already read and reviewed the novel: THANK YOU SO MUCH! I very much appreciate all of your positive feedback so far. It’s encouraging to hear that so many of you connect with Rethana as deeply as I do. : )

Help an Artist and Get Cool Stuff! WOOT!

Click to embiggen cramazingness!

Hey kids,

If you’ve been paying attention (and I know you have, because that’s just the kind of splendiforous dears you are), you know that I belong to a non-profit organization designed to support artists to support the arts. The goal is to pay artists for the time they spend putting beautiful, wonderful, silly, and cramazing things into the world — so that they can continue putting beautiful, wonderful, silly, and cramazing things into the world.

The artists get resources and the means with which to live, and communities all over the world get fantabulous works of art.

EVERYBODY WINS.

In keeping with this, ’tis my pleasure to recommend to you the Kickstarter campaign for author Aaron Pogue’s The Dragonprince’s Heir (Book 3 in The Dragonprince Trilogy).

Kickstarter is a fundraising platform for creative projects. If a project meets its fundraising goal within the allotted time, then the project is fully funded. If a project doesn’t meet its goal, then none of the donors are charged for the amount they pledged.

Each donation amount has a reward attached to it. For instance, if you pledge $20.00 toward Pogue’s The Dragonprince’s Heir, you’ll get digital copies of the entire Dragonprince Trilogy, as well as Pogue’s dragonswarm short stories. Pledge $55.00, and you get a signed paperback copy of the trilogy as an omnibus edition. A pledge of $250.00 garners you a visit to The Consortium offices and an afternoon of picking Aaron Pogue’s brain. And so forth.

But, alas, no one gets any of these nice things if Aaron’s project doesn’t get fully funded by Thursday, June 21, 2012.

The funding goal is $30,000.00. There are nine days left.

Why $30,000.00 for the publication of one novel?

Because once the $30,000.00 goal is met, Aaron intends to release the novel into the public domain. Any money the book earns beyond that will belong to The Consortium and to its artists — who, if you recall, are making more beautiful things for you. Once again, everybody wins.

To see the rest of the rewards and to read the full story behind all of this, visit Aaron’s Kickstarter page. The hows and whys of donating are all there and easy to follow.

Support this artist to support the arts!

Paaaaperbaaaack Wriiiiiterrrrr (sing it!)

Greetings, hardy readers!

This message is brought to you by the letter “P”! As in, PAPERBACK! As in, I wanted to let you know that we’re close to having the paperback of Stains of Grace ready. : )

“But, Courtney,” you ask, “why is the paperback coming out so much later than the e-book?”

Well, my loves, I’m so glad you asked. You see, the file we upload to Amazon for the e-book is not the same file we upload to Amazon for the paperback. The formats are different. And when we change the e-book format over to the paperbook format, all sorts of fun little errors crop up.

Such as font changes where there shouldn’t be font changes. Plain text where there should be italics. Oh, and random bullet points, as though the document suddenly thinks I’m writing a PowerPoint presentation instead of a novel.

Yay!

So, my job over the past few weeks has been to scour the paperback file of Stains and find all those pesky little weirdnesses that weren’t there before. Lemme tell ya, ’tis great fun. I’ve been trying to get it done while getting hired as Acquisitions Editor for Consortium Books; finishing acquisition edits and painting cover art for Aaron Pogue’s latest fantasy novel, The Dragonprince’s Heir; and finalizing edits for my own soon-to-be-released epic fantasy novel, Schism Rethana’s Surender (retitled since this post originally went live).

I love my job(s), but it’s been a rather tiring few weeks. (If you recall, I’m also putting together a baby inside my body. So there’s that.)

BUT. I’ve finally finished reviewing the paperback file for Stains of Grace (Demons of Saltmarch #3), and it is now in the hands of the publisher. As soon as I find out that the Amazon sales page has gone live, you lovely people will be the next to know!

In the meantime, happy reading to all (here’s the Stains e-book if you wantiz it, and please watch out for unexpected and unusual salt formations. ; )

P.S. Did I mention I got hired as Acquisitions Editor for Consortium Books? I got hired as Acquisitions Editor for Consortium Books.
😀

Hypocrisy in Marriage: A Horror Story

SCENE:
The Cantrells’ living room. The Cantrells are sitting on their couch. Ed is on the phone with Scott. Courtney (aka Me) is on the phone with her mother (aka Mama). Across from the couch, the TV is on. The sound is muted.

Mama: And we’re shopping on Friday?

Me: Yes. At the outlet mall.

(Ed picks up remote to change channel.)

Me: Wait! Don’t change it yet. I wanna see Miss Oklahoma.

Mama: What are you watching?

Me: It’s some beauty pageant. They’re showing contestants from each state.

Ed: It’s the Miss America contest.

Me: Ed says it’s Miss America.

Scott: You’re watching what?

Ed: We’re watching the Miss America pageant.

Me: Don’t tell people that! You don’t tell people we’re watching Miss America! What is wrong with you?!

Mama: But you are watching it.

Scott: If I were there with you and saw that, I would kill myself.

Me: We’re not watching it, it’s just on. I wanna see Miss Oklahoma, then we’re turning it off.

Ed: I really don’t know why we’re watching this.

Scott: Knowing it’s on, I might just drive in front of this train and kill myself.

Courtney: I can’t believe you’re telling people we’re watching Miss America. There is something wrong with you.

(Ed ignores me. He and Scott begin discussing man things.)

Me: There’s Nevada. And now New Hampshire.

Mama: Oh, you’re almost there, then.

Me: Yeah, but we have to get through all the “News” now. New Jersey, New Mexico…

(Ed and Scott continue discussing man things.)

Mama: What channel?

Me: Channel 4. Okay, there goes Ohio…and there’s Oklahoma.

Mama: Oh, I just missed her.

Me: She’s pretty. I didn’t like her dress, though.

(Ed stands up and walks toward kitchen, still discussing man things with Scott. TV remote remains at other end of couch from Me.)

Me: Wait, where are you going? I can’t reach the remote. Change the channel before you leave! I’m not watching this!