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!

Stains of Grace is LIVE!

Demons and zombies and spirits, oh my!

WE HAVE A BOOK, Y’ALL!

I am beyond thrilled to announce that the Amazon sales page for Stains of Grace is live and happily awaiting your readerly clicking! Here’s a short synopsis of the novel, as well as the sales page link:

Stains of Grace (Demons of Saltmarch #3)


Anne Waylock thought she was safe. Safe from the madness of demons and the auguren who hunted them. Safe from her tumultuous feelings for the troubled Owin Moran. Safe from the pain of her best friend’s betrayal. Anne ran away from it all, and she never planned on looking back.

But when Legion and another new demon start hunting her, Anne realizes the only way to set earth, heaven, and hell right again is a return to Saltmarch — where she’ll have to face every fear she’s hidden from. But will redemption be her most terrifying enemy yet?

(Approximately 80,000 words.)

Buy now for $4.99 on Kindle!

Happy reading, sweet thangs! And don’t forget to leave a review. : )

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!

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

Chicken. Headless. Editing. You’ll wanna see this.

People are starting to wonder about me, I know. Where’s Courtney? Why hasn’t she been around Twitter? Where are her cramazing blog posts? What’s she been up to?

Well, my dear inklings, I have been up to exactly one thing:

EDITING.

Specifically, I’ve been editing:

  • Joshua Unruh‘s first TEEN Agents novel,
  • Aaron Pogue‘s next fantasy novel, The Dragonswarm,
  • my own unfinished, low sci-fi NaNoWriMo novel Elevator People (working title)
  • and my own short story “Out of the Darkness” for next month’s short story collection A Consortium of Worlds, Vol. 1, Winter Issue.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am one of those really weird people who loves loves loves editing. I am one of those weird people who thinks editing is fun. But really…right now…after having done nothing writerly except edit for a week before I caught the Plague *and* since I recovered from the Plague last week….

I.
Am.
Spent.

And I feel like this:

If you need me, I’ll be cleaning my house and complaining that I’m not working on my unfinished, low sci-fi NaNoWriMo novel Elevator People (working title). ; )

P.S. Just for the record, I love the works I’ve been editing. : )
_________________________

What about you, love? What’s got you running around like decapitated barnyard fowl?

Harlan Ellison, Alan Dean Foster…and Courtney Cantrell

YEAH BABY.

I’ve known for just over 48 hours, and I’m sure it hasn’t really sunk in yet. But, lack of sink-innage notwithstanding, I’m a-gonna blare it out to the world anyway:

Around Christmas of this year, I shall have a story in the SAME short story collection as HARLAN ELLISON and ALAN DEAN FOSTER.

As my friend Josh (who’s gonna have a story in the same collection) says,

“This is what we in the business call a pretty big deal.”

In case you’re unaware, dear inklings, Ellison and Foster both are so well-known in the sci-fi world, it would be downright silly for me to tell you about them here. Really that’s why God gave us Google and Wikipedia. Thus, if you go get Googwikified over these two gents, you’ll find out everything you need to know.

But. I’ll say this much: Ellison has been in the writing biz since the late 1950s, and Foster made me fall in love with him when I read his “Pip and Flinx” novels as a teen. If that gives you even a slight reference point for my excitement, we are good to go.

So! The short story collection in question is KINDLE ALL-STARS: RESISTANCE FRONT, the brainchile of one Bernard J. Schaffer.

Sometime around three months ago, Bernard put out an intarwebz call for short stories: He wanted to do a ground-breaking anthology to showcase independent authors in today’s e-media. The “resistance” aspect of the project refers to our collective determination no longer to let the traditional publishing model squelch our writerly voices. Bernard writes,

“Whole generations of authors have been lost to us because they could not penetrate the murky swamps of corporate publishing. I imagine all the works of art that we’ll never know of simply because the vicious cycle of query-letter, agent, synopsis, publisher, book-seller, and eventual consumer did not work out for that individual.

“When an industry coins a phrase like ‘Slush Pile’ to reflect their opinion of where your work belongs, you get a pretty clear idea of your place in their world.”

You might imagine, my darlings, that every word of this resonates with me. : ) Not only that, but the proceeds of the project all go to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. These people find kidnapped kids and fight child porn. No question that I can get on board with that!

So. Longish story shortened, I finished up the short story I’d been working on and sent it in to Bernard. He sent it back with edits, and I had a mild freak-out while my writer self dealt with the knowledge that I’d not only sent my work to a total stranger, but now he was asking me to change it. And I mean change it. The dude wanted me to clip an entire thread from the story. And it was a thread I happened to like. Zoinks.

In the meantime, I found out that Ellison and Foster both had donated stories to the project. So now, if I got in, I’d be getting in with Ellison and Foster.

Have I mentioned that this is kind of a big deal?

Here I am, trying to edit and re-write a story, and the deal just keeps getting bigger and bigger. No pressure, right? I had to get over myself — no, really, I had to get over my fear. Why does it always come back to that?

Fear holds me back again and again. This time, it was fear of rejection…and maybe even a little fear of success. I have no idea where all of this might lead. But some possible future paths aren’t necessarily grand.

But I sucked it up, did my re-write, sent it back to Bernard — and waited. Ten days, y’all. I kept telling people it wouldn’t ruin my day if my story got rejected in the end…but that was only a half-truth. I wanted this bad. And during those 10 days, the fear kicked in again.

I rode it out. Did other stuff. Painted a crimson dragon. Published a whole magazine. You know, the usual. ; )

Then, two nights ago, the final participant announcements rolled in over Twitter, and I was on the list. Even better, Josh was on the list, too. Spider Robinson Wisdom ruled my personal celebration:

“Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased -— thus do we refute entropy.”

I love it when entropy takes one in the kisser.

For the record, applying Bernard’s feedback to my story was fun, once I got over myself. (Strangely enough, I’m wanting to paraphrase Pumbaa from The Lion King: “once I put my behind in my past”; but I don’t think it really applies here.) As I trimmed and re-wrote and copypasted, I saw a startling new shape emerge from the story…and it was a shape I very much appreciated.

It was the shape of a story that was better for the changing. Having an editor’s feedback made me a better writer for the story. Who’d a-thunk? ; )

My horror short “If This Were a Stephen King Story” will appear in Kindle All-Stars: Resistance Front in December 2011.

“Few projects slung my way, these days of electronic idiocy and bad writing, can perk me up and get the fireworks. This is one of the best, sweetest ideas I’ve heard in years. Nothing but the smiles of Success are due the project, the people putting it together, and the good kids who will benefit from every penny garnered. I am 100% and a bag of marmosets behind it!”
— Harlan Ellison.

“Growing up, I had access to all the books I wanted to read, and they made my life. This is a project to benefit kids who have nothing. I can think of no better cause.”
— Alan Dean Foster

This really swings my verge, y’all. : )

I’m Writing About Demons

Greetings, my dears! For my next trick, I’d like to tell you a little bit about my current work-in-progress (WIP). Earlier this week, I mentioned that I’m writing a paranormal fantasy novel. It is, as yet, untitled, so I’m bringing my formidable, literary creative powers to bear upon the title challenge and calling this book Demons 3. Boo-yah.

“So, O Most Formidably Literary Creative One,” you might be thinking, “what does the numeral 3 denote in the title of your work-in-progress?”

Saltmarch, Where The Demons Live

Ahh, my dear Questioning Ones, I am so glad you asked. The “3” in Demons 3 denotes the fact that this WIP is the third in a trilogy I am, thus far, calling “Demons of Saltmarch.” This trilogy consists of:

  • Colors of Deception (projected publishing date: June/July 2011)
  • Shadows After Midnight

and, of course,

  • Demons 3.

The Saltmarch trilogy (hmm…maybe that should be Saltmarch Trilogy — and here you’re witnessing how a writer revises aspects of her work even as she discusses it) had its genesis in vacuuming and vivid dreaming. One night in early 2008, I dreamed that I was standing in the center of a grated bridge. Facing me at one end of the bridge was this human-shaped figure with its jaw unhinged like a snake’s. A ring of darkness came out of its mouth and spread out toward me. Terrified, I knew that the ring should not touch me. I ended up on my hands and knees, scrambling to get away.

But in dreams, we never can get away, can we?

The dark ring engulfed me, and the whole world turned the “color” of TV static. I blinked and was in a different place, surrounded by people who didn’t quite look like people. Somehow, I knew they were demons. They’d used their powers to make this place look like my childhood home. But even though it looked familiar, I knew there was something wrong with it. I knew it wasn’t real. And I knew that the demons called it “Saltmarch.” Then, the dream ended.

Now, some people would have awakened from that dream and felt residual fear and confusion the rest of the day. They would have called it a nightmare and shuddered whilst relating it to friends over mid-morning coffee. Me? I got all excited, wrote it down, and decided it would make a great fantasy novel. If only I could come up with characters for it.

Fast-forward a few months, and I’m vacuuming my hallway, lamenting to myself that I can’t hear my favorite INXS CD over the jarring noise from this behemoth of a dust-sucking apparatus I’m shoving around my home. And, out of nowhere, the thought pops into my head:

What if one of the demons is obsessed with the music of INXS?

I don’t know how these things work. I don’t know why INXS triggered the beginnings of a character description for a character in a story that consisted of nothing but a rather odd dream sequence. All I know is that two months later, during NaNoWriMo 2008, a whole story came pouring out of me, and that dream sequence turned into one of the last scenes leading up to the climax.

That story became Colors of Deception, and it revolves around a young lady named Holly Idaho. Holly’s a sophomore at a Christian university. She’s got her problems: boy issues, tension with her girlfriends, doubts about her faith, an intense crush on the new music teacher, too much homework. Pretty standard stuff for a college student, right?

Until the demon with the INXS obsession shows up. And, as far as Holly is concerned, all hell breaks loose.

Colors of Deception is Holly’s story: how she deals with doubt, terror, love, lust, betrayal, and forgiveness. Her story is filled with the bizarre and the ordinary — a tale I hope will both fascinate readers and connect with them on a basic, I-know-how-that-feels level.

Shadows After Midnight picks up a few months after Colors ends. This second book in the trilogy is the story of Peter Townsend, who is Holly’s somewhat antisocial friend and doesn’t know that he shares a name with several famous people (and wouldn’t care, even if he did know). I won’t tell you much about Peter, because it would give away too much of the first book. But suffice it to say that Peter has a lot of arrogance to get out of his system (oh my word the boy’s got an ego, but I love him!)…and the demon who shows up to plague him has just the tricks to get him to make a mess he can’t clean up on his own.

The unfortunately untitled Demons 3 tells the story of Anne Waylock, another of Holly’s close friends. I feel like a mother hen playing favorites among her baby chicks…but I almost want to say that Anne is my favorite of the three. She’s snarky, unapologetically obnoxious, borderline blasphemous, and deeply, heart-breakingly sensitive. Her external challenges seem more threatening than those Holly and Peter face in their stories — and her internal challenges are far more subtle. I think. I’m not even through Draft 1 of her story yet, so I’m still getting to know her. There are aspects of her that haven’t crystallized yet.

So, that’s my paranormal fantasy trilogy in a shelle du nut. When I talk to people about it, I refer to it as “young adult (YA) paranormal,” but in some ways, I feel this is misleading. No, it’s not “adult” fiction, but if I had kids, I’m not sure I’d want my kids under age 15 to read it. On the other hand, I’m hoping the books will appeal to the wide audience of adults out there who’ve been devouring so much YA fiction over the past decade or so. (Some of you are reading this. 😉 )

Either way, I am so excited to get these books into the hands of readers, I can hardly stand it!