Men and Romance

Mama: Did you get much work done today?

Me: I wrote more than a thousand words on Elevator People.

Mama: Oh, good! Progress! (she said, knowing this to be something to celebrate)

Me: Yeah. But my main character is going off on a tangent.

Mama: How so?

Me: Well, there are suddenly all these romantic meanderings.

Mama: This is the sci-fi story, right?

Me: Yeah.

Mama: Romantic meanderings. Male main character?

Me: Yeah.

Mama (nodding): Men will do that. You have your work cut out for you.

(NOTE: I post this with only the greatest affection in my heart for my male readership. Bring on the romance, gentlemen.) : )

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Your New Writing Coaches

Hey y’all,

Just FYI, I’ve been writing a lot of blog posts. You’re not seeing them here because they’re not for my own blog. They’re for the writing advice site UnstressedSyllables.com.

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For those not in the know, I used to write a regular column for Unstressed Syllables. I believe my last post was in October 2011. Then NaNoWriMo hit, I got pregnant, and my UnSyl column kind of got shoved onto the back burner. (Mea culpa.)

But no longer. UnSyl’s owner, Aaron Pogue, is in the process of revamping the site. Starting in February, Unstressed Syllables will begin publishing all new material and new columns from a handful of excellent writers and a talented graphic designer. I’m in the process of reading all the upcoming posts, and lemme tell ya: This stuff is CRAMAZING. UnstressedSyllables.com is about to become your one-stop shop for fiction writing and publishing in today’s adventurous new market.

You’re welcome. I’ll let you know when we’re ready to go. : )

Your Blog Is a Big, Friendly Dog — Redux

Greetings, me lovelies! I just got through reading a great post by Michael Martine: “Why You Should Experiment with Your Blog.” (Edit: Michael’s Remarkablogger is no longer in existence, so I’ve removed the link.)

Darling, most constant readers, does this sound familiar to you? ; )

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If you’ve read me here for any length of time, you know that I’ve enjoyed romping about with the blog-as-lab(oratory) concept. So when I read Michael’s post, of course I had something to say about it. : ) My comment on his post reads as follows:

Ooh! Ooh! I love the blog-as-laboratory concept! I’ve had several conversations with Judy Dunn of Catseyewriter.com about it. These led to: several concept posts on my own blog; a grand experiment of blogging every day for a month; and a myriad of tiny little blogging experiments that taught me some of what works and some of what doesn’t work on my blog. It’s great fun and an awesome learning experience!

I will admit to plenty of “mucking about for its own sake” ; ) simply because I thought a particular experiment sounded fun at the time. But Michael, I’m thinking that maybe this is where I’m not quite the audience you’re speaking to, since mine is an author blog. Yes, I am “selling the service” of fiction novels, and I do want readers of my blog to convert into readers of my books. But part of what sells the books is for readers to get to know me — and part of getting to know me is getting a glimpse of what interests me. And that’s a lot of things, many of which show up on the blog at random times. So maybe I can get away with bending the “rule” a little. ; )

So there you have it, folks. Another brief reminder of what I’m doing here and why and wherefore and whatnot. Feel free to drop me a line sometime and let me know how you think the experiments are going. I’d love to hear from you.

Here we go again...

Here we go again…

Hey. Woman of immense worth. This one’s for you.

Honey, stop comparing yourself to her. Stop looking at her and thinking about everything that’s ‘right’ with her and everything that’s ‘wrong’ with you. You are of immense worth in and of yourself. You, just as you are, right now. Your beauty is beyond compare, so hold your head high and walk tall. Chances are pretty good that she’s comparing herself to you. And if she is, she needs to hear you tell her that she is enough, too.

My #Epic #Fantasy Novel Is Free at Kobo and iTunes!

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G’day, me lovelies!

I’m happy to announce that at this time, my epic fantasy novel Rethana’s Surrender is available for FREE at Kobo and iTunes!

If you need a refresher: Rethana’s Surrender is the first novel in my series Legends of the Light-Walkers. It’s the story of Rethana Chosardal, a young woman who makes a foolish choice that puts her and her little sister in the clutches of their family’s worst enemy. If Rethana can learn to harness the magical force known as comori, she might have a chance to free her sister. But Rethana’s master, Allasin, is determined to use her abilities for his own mysterious schemes. There’s a civil war brewing, Rethana’s friends turn against her, and Allasin looks less evil all the time. So Rethana has another hard choice to make: surrender to her conscience or surrender to her growing power?

Get your free copy of Rethana’s Trial at Kobo.

Get your free copy of Rethana’s Trial at iTunes

The second half of Rethana’s story, Rethana’s Trial, is available for purchase at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

The Next Big Thing (and New Novel Excerpt!)

Two of my fellow writers, Josh and Laurie, did this chain blogging thing a few weeks back. It’s called “The Next Big Thing,” and it’s an interview on upcoming writing projects. Josh tagged me to do it, so here I am, doing it. Josh’s own post is here, and you can find Laurie’s post here. Go read, it’s fun stuff. : )

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The Next Big Thing

Okay, now that you’re caught up and have returned, please to enjoy my contribution to the blogging chain:

What is the title of your next book?

The working title of my next book is Elevator People. (A few months ago, I challenged readers to come up with a better title. The jury’s still out on who won, by the way. I’ll work it out soon though. Promise.)

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea for Elevator People originated where most of my story ideas originate: my dreams. In the dream, I saw a young man in a steampunk-style elevator that could move up, down, sideways, forward, backward, and diagonally. I knew the man was traveling in the elevator from one planet to another, and he was going to be set upon by thieves at his next stop. This turned into the opening scene of the novel.

What genre does your book fall under?

Is “low sci-fi” a genre? It’s definitely sci-fi, what with the interplanetary and possibly transdimensional traveling via mechanical conveyance. (There is, however, no time-traveling.) And there are laser rifles at some point. Also space shuttles and nanotechnology. But I don’t delve into the science of how it all works, so readers shouldn’t expect the intricacies of Asimov or Heinlein. Hence the “low” sci-fi.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Uffda, that’s a hard one. I rarely cast real people in the roles of my characters, although I know many writers use that as a visualization technique. That’s never been my habit, so Ima have to give this some extra thought.

Okay. Wentworth Miller (of Prison Break fame) for my main character, Went Banning — and not just because Miller is my Went’s namesake. He’s got the acting chops for a quiet, reserved, yet passionate and determined adventurer. I can easily see him stepping out of the elevator and, five minutes later, needing rescuing by two adorable urchins. ; )

As for the urchins…once upon a time, I would’ve wanted Dakota Fanning for Jop, but she’s too old now. The same probably holds true for Chloë Grace Moretz, but she would also be a top choice. I can’t think of anyone else right now.

Ooh! Abigail Breslin. I bet she’s the one.

For my second urchin, I am thoroughly impressed with Pierce Gagnon, who plays little Cid in Looper. The kid’s scary good. He might be a little young to play Skee, but a couple more years and I think he’d be perfect.

With apologies to Jason Isaacs, he would make an excellent villain in Carrigan Bell. *shudder*

As for Risk, Went’s female co-star…another toughie. Emma Stone? Deborah Ann Woll? Anna Popplewell would probably be too young. I dunno. Like I said, I’m not great at this casting thing!

(As an aside, I talk a little more about the characters here.)

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Ugh. I’m not good at these either. Even though they’re supposed to be a big part of my job. *sigh* Okay, here goes….

When loner Went Banning loses the codes that operate his “magical” elevator, he realizes he must rely on two street urchins and a damaged former slavegirl to help him find the mythical Mr. Banjoman…who might just be Went’s father.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Um, yes. ; ) You can expect the book sometime in 2013 from indie publisher Consortium Books.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

It’s not done yet.

I started it in November 2011.

*sigh*

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I never like this question. To compare my story to other books feels like I’m expecting everyone to agree with me. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the writing business, it’s that no two people view the same story the same way. I honestly can’t think of a novel I’d feel comfortable naming here.

But if you like character-driven sci-fi with interplanetary travel and hints of the transdimensional, I think you’ll like Elevator People.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Inspiration came from my dream, as I mentioned above. I tend to have “story-seed dreams” right when I’m wrapping up a project and am mentally ready to move on to the next one. Call it synchronicity, divine providence, spooky coincidence, whatever. I’ve learned not to question it. It’s there when I need it, so I go with it.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Went is a man of deep, inspiring conviction, and he’s just despairing enough to win and break your heart; Jop and Skee, the urchins, are clever and adorable; female co-star Risk is smart, strong, and sexy; and their collective enemy, Carrigan Bell, is terrifying and utterly despicable. (Oh, and wait’ll you meet the vampire who’s after the lot of them….)

Together, they’ll take you on a great ride.

In closing, I hereby tag my fellow writers Aaron Pogue, Jessie Sanders, Becca Campbell, and Pam Davis to post their own “The Next Big Thing.” (And don’t y’all forget to send me your links!)

Bonus Round

This isn’t part of the interview, but I figure a New Year’s treat is in order. Here’s an excerpt from Draft 1 of Elevator People. Enjoy. : )

From Chapter One of Elevator People by Courtney Cantrell

…They hit him again. Went’s arms felt limp. He coughed, choking on blood. They kicked him again and growled words he couldn’t understand. Metallic heels rang harshly against the pavement, receding.

When the echoes had died, Went finally moved again. With greatest care, he slid his knees up toward his chest and tried to roll to his hands and knees. His ribs screamed, and a small noise escaped his lips. The list. What of the list?

He forced his knees to cooperate and pushed himself up on his elbows. Leaning on his left arm, he clutched at his waistcoat. The waiscoat didn’t feel bulky enough. Another groan escaped him. It sounded like a whimper.

Damn.

He had to get back in the elevator. Even without the list, the elevator was his only hope for…for….

A hoarse, bitter sound escaped him. Hope for what? It was over. Was there any way he could go on without the codes list?

No.

Wait. The elevator hadn’t yet yielded all of its secrets. There was hope. Perhaps there was hope. He only had to get back inside first. Went spat blood, then clenched his teeth against the pain as he planted one foot and pushed up. His world spun, a black and gray blur of rectangular pillars and twisted metal. He thrust out a hand and groped for the wall. His fingers met flesh.

He jerked his hand back, and the momentum sent him tumbling farther away from the elevator. He slammed into one of the pillars. Rough, hard material slashed his palms as he rebounded. He dropped to the floor again and curled into a ball as the impact shot pain through his ribcage.

“Cose!” said a small, high voice. “We’ll a-help! Can you walk?”

Went felt hands on his arms again. But these hands were smaller than his attackers’. Their touch was soft, hesitant. He blinked up at the gloomy ceiling high above. The face of a young girl wavered into view.

Below dark, worried eyebrows, her darker eyes were enormous in her thin face. Her hair was long and stringy. He glimpsed a ragged, grayish brown tunic. She bit her bottom lip and shook his shoulder. “We’ll a-help,” she said again. “You’na get back in the cagey, yeah?”

“What?” Went coughed, then spat blood again. His jaw hurt.

“The cagey!” The urchin threw a glance over her shoulder. “Skee! Come ya over. Candles ain’t skeerin’ back here awhile.”

The girl turned back to Went and shook him again. A small shadow bobbed up next to her, and another pair of small hands tugged at Went’s white cotton work shirt. The newcomer was a boy even thinner, dirtier, and larger-eyed than the girl. Both children were pulling him toward the still open elevator doors.

Went rubbed at his jaw and winced. “I don’t understand most of what you’re saying,” he managed. “But it were well I got back in there.” He nodded toward the elevator.

The girl gave a few quick, vigorous nods. “The cagey, yeah. Come on, Skee. We’re a-help.”

As Went grabbed the pillar and pulled himself upright again, he heard the boy’s tiny whisper. “We’re a-go?”

“Hush-a, Skee. Maybe.” The girl pulled at Went’s sleeve. “Can you walk?”

Went nodded. “I think so. I’m–” He took a step and sucked in breath through clenched teeth. “I’m not as damaged as I look.” Still, he was grateful as she pulled his hand toward her shoulder and held it there a moment. He hoped his last statement wasn’t a lie.

He didn’t lean on the girl; her small frame wouldn’t have borne his weight. But the feel of her bony shoulder beneath the thin tunic did steady him a little. He tottered forward while she shuffled along at his side. Darting ahead, the little boy peered into the open elevator, then looked back at Went and the girl and grinned. His upper front teeth were missing.

They reached the wall, and Went put out a hand. “A moment, please.” They were only a few feet from the elevator doors, but just the seven or eight steps from pillar to wall had brought another wave of dizziness. He put both palms flat against the cold, jagged stone, ignoring the sting of cuts in his skin. If anything, the sharp pain restored a little clarity. The world stopped spinning and instead only rocked slightly, as though he were standing on the deck of one of his father’s clippers.

The thought of Father was enough to send nausea washing through his gut. He sagged against the wall, groaning.

“They’s all meanie-like, them Candles,” said the girl. “Skee and me, we a-stay clear of ’em. They’s the new dogs, and big ones. Rough-like, cose?”

Went turned his head left, then right. It was as much of a shake as he could manage. “Candles?”

“New dogs,” said the little boy from next to the open elevator. “Bite.”

“Candles and Haggs,” the girl said. “All new since B-line fell in. All new and a-fight over the U. They’s a-wantin’ new digs, pall it? So Skee and me and the other yoolers, we all in the way.”

“Haggs’ is bad.” The little boy frowned. “Candles…badder.”

Went’s beaten body wouldn’t let him think clearly, but he made a small connection in what the children were saying. “Then, these Candles are the ones who’ve robbed me?”

The girl raised one skeptical eyebrow and looked him up and down. “Well-a yeah. Candles pat anybody gets in their digs.” Her expression hardened. “Our digs. Was, anyway. Now, we’re a-look for–”

“Jop,” said the little boy in a pleading, warning tone.

The girl shook her head. “Well-a right, Skee! I’m a-not say, I’m a-not.” She looked up at Went. “Ready, cose?”

He took as deep a breath as he could without offending his ribs. “Ready enough, I suppose.” At least the dizziness had abated a bit. The girl took slow, careful steps toward the elevator, her gentle tugs on his arm urging him on. He used the wall as support. The fabric of his shirt caught on tiny, rough protrusions as he staggered along. He thought of how the Spillaines would rail at him for his torn clothing, and burst of energy shot through him.

It lasted until he reached the elevator doors. As he rounded the corner and into the cabin, his legs gave out, and he slid to the floor. At the same time, there came an angry shout from behind him. Above him, the girl’s huge eyes widened, and her mouth opened in a round “O” of horror. His ribs shrieked at him, but Went turned.

A man was rushing toward them from the darkness. He was yelling words Went couldn’t understand, his eyes trained on the spot where Went’s left hand gripped the corner of the rough wall. Went’s golden ring flashed in the light spilling from the elevator.

The ring. They missed it the first time. Came back for it

“Rotten blagger’s back!” The little girl rounded on Went. “The cagey’s it, cose, ’less you’re a-want us all to get the scroby. Come on!”

Went hardly understood a word but thought he couldn’t agree more. He tried to get his feet under him, but his body wouldn’t cooperate. On his knees, he slumped. He couldn’t even pitch himself forward to fall headlong to the elevator floor. A banker’s son’s not meant for street brawls. He laughed.

With the onrushing “blagger” not twenty feet away, the little girl stepped behind Went and gave him a solid push. Now, he did fall headlong, scraping his left hand on the edge of the door as he fell. His ring gave off a clear, bright tone as it hit.

“The doors, Skee!” the girl yelled. She grabbed Went’s feet and pushed and pulled them into the elevator cab. “Close ’em, or we’re a-get the scroby for sure!”

“How, Jop?” came the boy’s small voice.

She fought with Went’s feet. “The buttons!”

Went raised his head. Eyes wide and lips askew in confusion, the little boy stood beneath the elevator’s control panel. The panel’s brass buttons gleamed.

“Push ’em, Skee!”

Went reached out toward the boy. “No, wait!”

The onrushing Candle had almost reached the elevator. Little Skee turned, saw the “blagger,” and froze. Only his arm kept moving. His palm slapped the control panel, hitting several buttons at once.

Went’s panicked mind could barely keep up with what was happening. Still, one clear thought remained. The list! The boy’s hand came down on the buttons again. Wait! I have to get the list!

The girl gave Went’s legs one final heave, pulling them over the elevator’s threshold. The doors moved. The attacking Candle stretched out his arm in a desperate reach. Went caught a final glimpse of a snarling, mad-eyed, filth-caked face. The doors snicked shut.

Then the elevator was moving, and Went had no idea where they were going.

UNDER CONSTRUCTION (Or: Learning Headway)

Hile, inklings! Just FYI, my blog is under construction until further notice. I’ve just switched over to Headway themes, and it’s gonna take me a while to get things arranged to suit me. < sarcasm > I LOVE changing user interface. < / sarcasm >

At least I’ve been able to get my background and header to look mostly the way I’d like them to. Now, if only I can find all my widgets. Pesky, elusive little things, those.

Once I’m done tinkering, I’ll make an announcement and you can all come ooh and aah over the whole kaboodle. In the meantime, as you see changes here and there, please bear with me — and feel free to give me feedback!

Thanks, y’all. As always, happy reading!

Addendum:

It’s now 24 hours since I wrote the above, and I can safely say that Headway rocks. I’ve been tinkering and tweaking, and I’m doing stuff with the blog that I once-upon-a-time had to ask my programmer friends to do for me. As far as I’m concerned, Headway has already paid for itself: I’m able to be more creative with and personalize the look of my blog, and I’m saving my friends the headache of getting panicky emails from me every five minutes. Everybody wins. BANGERANG.

Books, Boobs, and Brains: Most Popular Blogposts of 2012

The title says it all. This is the stuff on my blog that you people were most interested in last year. Eight of these are posts from 2012, and two are from 2011.

Courtney’s Most Popular Blogposts During 2012

10. Iñigo Montoya: You Keep Using That Word

Hello. My name is Iñigo Montoya. You killed my paradigm. Prepare to die.

Or just read my thoughts on the nature of reality and perspective.

9. 10 Things They Don’t Tell You about Being a Baby Factory, Pt. 1

Terror, IMAX theaters, and wildebeests.

Yes.

Wildebeests.

8. Death and Rape Threats

The blogging world can be a threatening place for a woman who refuses to shut up. The key is to remember what the inestimable Frank Herbert said about fear.

7. In Which Pregnancy and Car Wrecks Don’t Mix

I appreciate it that this one made it into the Top Ten Most Popular. It’s nice to know y’all care. : )

6. Stains of Grace: Supermurgitroid Cover Art

I’ve loved all five of my book covers so far, but this one is definitely a favorite. I AM SURROUNDED BY SUPERTALENTED CREATIVE PEOPLE. So, so blessed.

5. Why I Break the Spines of Books

I can’t tell if people like reading this one because it confirms their belief system concerning the breaking of book spines, or because I am destroying their feel-good bubble about not breaking spines. Since there aren’t a ton of dissenting remarks in the comments, I tend to suspect the former. But who knows. Maybe the chronic book-spine-breakers out there are a passive tribe who on principle don’t comment.

Maybe they’re quietly conspiring to rid the world of all the evil spine-breakers. Maybe the apocalypse will be the final upraising of the Cult of Preservers of the Sacred Book-Spines. Stranger things have happened.

4. Marital Sock Fetish, Exposed

I can only guess that the title is what draws y’all to this one. Buncha voyeurs. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

3. Left Brain, Right Brain, or Ambidextrous Brain?

This one still gets me when I think about it. I still don’t know if I’m really right-brained, or if there’s a continual, equal opportunity crossover between right and left. Of course, nowadays I’m neither right- nor left- but simply barely-brained. Babies cause parental zombification.

2. Can We Bare It or Bare It: The Breasts of Superheroines

I still stand by this.
 

And here we have my most popular blogpost of 2012:

1. Advance Reading Copy of Rethana’s Surrender!

The fact that this one received the most traffic tells me two things: One, you people like free books. Two, you like your free books to be fantasy.

If I’m going to draw conclusions from this list (and yes, indeed, that is exactly what I’m going to do), I’m going to conclude that you lovelies like it when I blog about books, boobs, and brains. Considering that I love alliteration and all three of these subjects are of interest to me, I do believe I have more to offer you.

So, stay tuned in 2013, dear inklings. I promise I’ll have some doozies for ya. ; )