Stains of Grace: Supermurgitroid Cover Art!

Hello, my dearest inklings!

Today, I start my final edits on Stains of Grace, the third and final novel in my paranormal fantasy trilogy Demons of Saltmarch. To celebrate, I’m giving you lovelies a preview of the Stains cover art, with which I am beyond thrilled. So, without further ado or adon’t, here it is:

HUGEST thanks to Julie V. Photography for the incredible artwork.

Another HUGEST thanks to Amy Nickerson Design for — as always — the superb trade dress.

These artists have done cover art and trade dress for all three Saltmarch novels. Their work blows my mind every time, and I feel that they make me look a whole lot more professional than I really am. ; )

Special thanks to the lovely Shauna, who was good enough to pose as main character Anne Waylock.

Stains of Grace is now on Goodreads, if you’d like to add it to your to-read shelf!

Specific publication date will be forthcoming. It’ll be before the end of the month, so I will keep you posted!

Being an author is so supermurgitroid, I can’t stand it. : )

Click to embiggen the cramazingness!

Extra! Extra! Get Yer Dragonswarm Here!

Click to embiggen cramazingness!

That’s right, y’all. My friend and fellow writer Aaron Pogue‘s fantasy novel The Dragonswarm is officially out and ready for you to purchase on Kindle for only $4.99.

The Dragonswarm is the second novel in Aaron’s Dragonprince Trilogy. Here is the review I posted on Amazon just a little while ago:

I thoroughly enjoyed Aaron Pogue’s first fantasy novel, Taming Fire. It’s a great story of flawed hero, dangerous quests, magic, dragons, romance, and there’s even a psychotic wizard. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Unless you’re talking about Taming Fire‘s sequel, The Dragonswarm, in which case it gets *lots* better: doubly flawed hero, perilous quests, ever-deeper magic, MONSTER DRAGONS, romance with a solid female lead, and a psychotic wizard who gets his (sort of).

In Dragonswarm, Pogue has taken his Taming-Fire-craft and honed it by a factor of 10. Or maybe 20. At any rate, this novel has everything I look for in a great, epic fantasy yarn. Daven, its main character, grows as an individual in story context and develops as a character in trilogy context. He meets challenges I don’t expect, and he faces them in ways I don’t expect. That’s powerful page-turner magic right there! THE DRAGONSWARM is my new favorite Pogue novel, and I look forward to getting my hands on the paperback.

So hop on over and buy your copy of The Dragonswarm on Kindle for $4.99!

Oh, and if you haven’t yet, buy and read Taming Fire on Kindle for just 99 cents.

Happy reading!

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The Dragonswarm cover art oil painting by Yours Writerly; trade dress by Amy Nickerson Design.

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. ; )

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*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.

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).

Okay, Scifi & Fantasy Fans, This One’s for You


Ladies and gentlehobbits, I present to you:

A Consortium of Worlds, Vol. 1 (Fall Issue)

This is the first issue of the new Consortium Books quarterly, speculative fiction, short story e-magazine for Kindle and Nook. If you don’t know what spec fic is, just think sci-fi and fantasy with, in our case, a little dash of steampunk and mythology thrown in. It’s a yummy stew of otherwordly writerliness, and, as you might have guessed, I highly recommend a generous helping!

Buy A Consortium of Worlds, Vol. 1 (Fall Issue) for $2.99 on Kindle!

Buy it here for $2.99 on Nook!

My ingredient for this recipe comes in the form of a high fantasy short story, “Dead Reconning.” I’ve set it in what’s known anecdotally in Consortium circles as my “Triad universe.” You’ll find out more about the Triad universe in Fall 2012, when Consortium Books publishes my first epic fantasy novel, Legend’s Artisans: Schism (working title).

But. “Dead Reconning.” In this story, Wolf Dornsson and Lendry Bersallir, his lady fair, are trying to escape both Lendry’s disapproving father and the general, countrywide menace of undead elven soldiers. There’s adventure, romance, heroicness, argument, grotesqueness, grossness, and sword-fighting. It’s a light-hearted romp with a backdrop of darkness, and I kinda like it. I hope you will, too!

My fellow cooks in the Consortium of Worlds kitchen are:

Buy A Consortium of Worlds for Kindle or for Nook. Happy reading!

Cover art: Image by Yours Writerly Drawingly; trade dress by Amy Nickerson Design.

SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT live at Amazon!

Hello, my dears! I know it’s been a stupid long time since you’ve heard anything substantial from me here. I am so very sorry! But it’s because I’ve been working hard to get you this:

The paperback of SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT is now available at Amazon. Click here to buy your copy, and happy reading!

For those of you who want a little more detail:

Peter Townsend is not normal and doesn’t play well with normals. He belongs to the ancient line of auguren, demon hunters with only one goal: Protect ordinary humans from their demonic tempters.

But last year, protecting Holly Idaho shattered Peter’s world. When Dante Mullins, the demon hunting Holly, spirited her away to the infernal realm of Saltmarch, Peter went through hell to save her. Falling in love with her wasn’t part of the plan. Neither was leaving Dante alive.

Now Dante is back, and Holly is missing. Holly’s friends Anne and Owin insist on joining Peter in the furious search. But when a new demon enters the fray, one that makes Dante look angelic, its nightmarish power threatens to consume them all.

The loyalties of friendship might be more help than Peter can deal with. This time, saving Holly might just cost him his soul.

BUY NOW:
SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT (Demons of Saltmarch 2)

Many thanks to Julie V. Photography, Amy Nickerson Design, and model Andy Sawatzky for the cramazing cover art!

And do click to embiggen. It’s way cool. : )

I Like Photos. Let Me Show You It.

The One Where I Lost My Brain

This past weekend, I went oldskool.

I went on a photowalk Saturday night, and I used my “old” (ca. 2001) 35mm camera.

By Amy Nickerson Design. Amy makes me feel NOT old.

The idea first popped into my head when I realized that the digicam’s batteries were dead.

“Oh!” thinks I. “Instead of going to the battery store, I’ll just hop over to Walmart and pick up film for the 35mm! It’d be fun to work with that one again.”

As it turns out, the saga of getting film and then making an extra trip back to Walmart to get a deities-blasted battery for the 35mm was more epic than would’ve been the trip to the battery store. Murphy, you are SO not my fave, dude.

But, in spite of all the trips to The Evil WM Store and in spite of the 100+ºF heat of the summer afternoon, by Saturday evening I finally found myself in Guthrie, Oklahoma, with Amy, Becca, Ryan, Ann, and new acquaintance Kelsey.

We Be-ed Artsy

In case you’re new to the term, a photowalk is a walk on which you go in order to take photos.

Ba-dum ching*.

Amy organized the whole shindig. Kelsey wanted Amy to teach her some new-camera tricks, so Amy invited the rest of us to tag along and be artsy.

So we tagged along and be-ed artsy.

If you’ve been paying attention, you know that I can’t yet share any of my photos with you — since they’re on 35mm film and have yet to be developed and all. But Amy gave me the go-ahead to share a few of her shots, which just goes to show what a totally cramazing person she is.

THANK YOU, AMY!

Photos are click-to-embiggen-able.

Becca had the perfect look for this shot. And yes, this is Guthrie, OK. Not Hawaii. I promise (sadly).

Amy caught me taking pictures. Don't know how that happened. ; )

Apron. Tied to a fire escape. WHY IS THE APRON THERE?!? Nobody knows.

This is both sad and fabulous to me.

Becca, Kelsey, and Anne. Chillin'.

The artsiness plus that cramazing fan make this one of my favorite photos of me ever. My photog friends are great for my ego. ; )

Sorry for all the weird frame sizes. I pretend to know what I’m doing with this thing called Com Pewt Errr, but it doesn’t always work out.

Of Skunks, Trespassing, and Dapper Defiance of Death

In-between and all around this awesome artsiness, the following took place:

We wampished** about in alleys,

avoided a weaving sort of fellow in a cowboy hat outside a place called the “Blow Out Club,”

called “here, kitty, kitty” to some animals we belatedly recognized as skunks,

trespassed on private property to take shots on the hood of a fantabulous, ancient, orange Ford truck,

composed an awkward “all-the-girls-grab-each-other” shot,

leapt into the air screaming like banshees,

and ran shrieking toward an oncoming train***.

There were also quite a few that’s-what-she-saids.

That was fun, too. ; )

_______________________

*This is actually listed in Wiktionary. Oh, the times in which we live.

**I picked this word up I don’t know where, but my notes tell me it’s Scottish dialect for “to wave about or flop to and fro.” I am open to correction on this.

***No photographers were harmed in the making of this photowalk.