Stains of Grace: More Music to Demon By

Novel Noveling Status Update

Oh, my dearest inklings: Stains of Grace is so, so very close to publication, I CAN TASTE ITS DONENESS.

“But alas!” you’re thinking. “Wherefore doth this much-desired tome not yet appear upon ye olde Amazon sales page?!?”

The answer, my dears, to that unhappy question is that (1) your author is pregnant and tired and (as of this writing) sleepless, and she therefore can’t write and edit and finalize as fast as she thought she could; and (2) the head of her indie publisher just yesterday completed his Master’s in Professional Writing and has been frantic to finish his studies.

We do apologize, loves. Sometimes, life just happens.

3:00pm Addendum:

Now, I am not just tasting the novel’s doneness. I HAVE CHEWED AND SWALLOWED ITS DONENESS. Stains of Grace is officially in the hands of the publisher, y’all. BANGERANG.

I CANNOT WAIT FOR YOU TO READ THIS BOOK.

So. With that out of the way, let’s move on. I anticipate our uploading the novel file to Amazon within the next 24 hours. After that, the Kindle version of Stains will hopefully go live — meaning that you can have the e-version of the book in your lovely, eager hands — no later than Monday!

In the Meantime…

You might, perhaps, recall the time I told you about the music I’ve listened to while writing the Demons of Saltmarch series. (If you don’t recall, just click on that link and check it out.) That post covered the playlists for Colors of Deception (Saltmarch #1) and Shadows after Midnight (Saltmarch #2).

Since you dears have all been so patient with me as I’ve scrambled to get Stains ready for you, I decided to go ahead and share its playlist with you. So here we go…

Stains of Grace Playlist

“The Strangest Party” by INXS (Anne)
“Girlfriend by” Phoenix (Peter)
“Devil Inside” by INXS
“Lights Out” by Breaking Benjamin (Polednitsa)
“Prodigal” by Porcupine Tree
“Papercut” by Linkin Park (Anne)
“I Don’t Care” by Apocalyptica (Anne)
“Burn for You” by INXS
“Suicide Blonde” by INXS (Dante)
“Living Dead Girl” by Rob Zombie
“I Will Not Bow” by Breaking Benjamin
“Afterglow” by INXS

As with the previous post, I’ve included characters’ names in parentheses. Each song has a particular meaning for that character — so, if you can’t stand the tease and you’re not afraid of a few teensy spoilers, you can look up the lyrics and get a glimpse into the thoughts and feelings of each named character.

You’ll notice that I didn’t include names for some of the songs. That’s because I didn’t want to provide you with *too* many potential spoilers. If you want to know what characters belong with these songs, you’ll just have to read the book and see if you can figure out who goes with what. If you’re really brave, you can pay close attention to the fact that the playlist follows the chronology of the story. ; )

All right, sweeties, I’m off to grab a snack and see if I can go back to sleep. It’s 5:15am, I’ve been awake since 2:30, and I think it’s time to attempt this voluntary unconsciousness thing again.

Oh, and if you just can’t stand the wait, and the playlist isn’t enough to keep you busy, pop over here for a reminder of how the Demons of Saltmarch started. It involves a vacuum cleaner.

G’night! (I hope.)

P.S. May the Fourth be with you.

Music To Demon By

Once upon a time, dear inklings, I told you the story of how my Demons of Saltmarch came into being.

To recap: I dreamed about a forbidding figure on a bridge, and I recorded the imagery in my dream journal. I knew that at some point, those images would turn into a fantasy novel. A few months later, I was pushing and prodding my vacuum cleaner into sucky submission whilst listening to the INXS album The Greatest Hits.

And BAM! there was the rest of the story.

There is an entire blog post, by the way, on receiving creative inspiration while engaging in the mundane. But that is another story and shall be told another time.

Anyway, the song that really got me that day in my hallway was “Suicide Blonde.”

Got some revelation put into your hands
Save you from your misery
Like rain across the land
Don’t you see
The colour of deception
Turning your world around again
.

And that, my loves, was how Colors of Deception was born. As of last week, you are now acquainted with its younger sibling, Shadows after Midnight, as well.

Recalling the INXS lyrics that helped bring my demons to paper (in more ways than one), I realized I’ve been remiss in sharing my writing playlists with you. So, without further ado or adon’t, here are the songs that inspired scenes and characters for the first two Demons of Saltmarch novels:

Colors of Deception


All songs by INXS.

Suicide Blonde (Dante)
The Strangest Party (Holly and Peter)
Taste It (Dante and Holly)
Devil Inside (Holly in chapel)
Heaven Sent (Holly, driving)
Disappear (Dante)
The Gift (Dante in the cave)
Need You Tonight (Dante and Holly)
Deliver Me (Dante)
Baby Don’t Cry (Dante’s denouement)
Afterglow (Dante’s epilogue)

Shadows after Midnight


All songs by INXS. The Shadows playlist also included all the songs from Colors.

Original Sin (Dante)
I Send a Message (Dante and Holly)
The Swing (Peter)
Johnson’s Pendulum (Eileen)
Love Is What I Say (Peter and Dante)
Burn for You (Dante and Holly)
 

 
 

For Stains of Grace, I branched out from INXS. But if I share that playlist with you, you’ll get all sorts of icky spoilers, so I don’t wanna do that. ; ) I can tell you, though, that it includes Linkin Park, Breaking Benjamin, Porcupine Tree, and Apocalyptica.

Yeah. I mix stuff. ; )

And with that, I’ll leave you with the words of Dante’s favorite musician:

Yes, it’s me,
I am the one
To make you see
Where we belong.

To dream
All the time
Without a scream
In the dead of night,
All those faces
Come back to me.
I’ll be begging
To swim that sea.

A need to quench
The thirst of many
To justify
And make ready

This realization
Owes us strength to show.
If you’re uncertain
You’re invited to believe.*

______

*Lyrics by Michael Hutchence and Andrew Farriss.

And the Winners Are…

Greetings, my lovelies! A few weeks ago, I challenged you to tell me what kind of music demons listen to. If you click that link, you’ll see the whats and wherefores, but here’s a brief recap:

In my novel Colors of Deception, the demonic villain has a predilection for the music of rock group INXS. I challenged you to come up with other genres of music a demon might prefer.

In return, I promised two of you a free, signed copy of Colors of Deception, as well as publication of your entries here at courtcan.com.

 

And you, my dear inklings, came through for me. You sent me some really fun reading material — and you challenged me back, because picking the winners wasn’t all that easy!

But pick two winners I did. Read their entries below! In the meantime, thanks so much to all of you who took the time and the creative effort to enter my contest! Even if you didn’t win, I hope you enjoyed coming up with demonic music ideas as much as I enjoyed reading them.

So, without further ado or adon’t, allow me to present the winning entries for the Colors of Deception Give-Away Contest:

Patricia writes:

Isn’t it obvious? Demons listen to reggae! It’s all about “de mon” on “steal” drums, and there’s lots of “dread” locks! It’s reminds them of their tropical hideaway that can be as hot as you-know-where!

 

Ginger writes:

People realize that the life of a demon is a tortured life, one that offers no happiness, constant roaming and a desire to inflict pain and suffering on everyone and everything. Therefore, it is assumed that their music is loud and dark with lyrics that offend.

However what few people know is that the reason a demon always roam, seeking to torture people, is because each demon constantly hears a Pandora Radio Station that is limited to playing Kids Bop, Hannah Montana, Barney and the first 10 seconds of a KISS song after every twenty minutes.

 

Congratulations, Patricia and Ginger! ๐Ÿ™‚

Win A Free Book!

Win a free, signed copy of Colors of Deception!

Greetings, mesdames et messieurs!

In celebration of the publication of my first book, Colors of Deception, I’m giving some copies away! Over the next two weeks, I’ll be collecting entries for a contest. My two favorites will each win a free, signed paperback.

In Colors of Deception, cute college sophomore Holly Idaho discovers that a demon in stalking her. Over the course of the story, Holly realizes that this demon has a rabid and morbid fascination with the music of rock band INXS.

Why INXS? I don’t know. You’ll have to ask the demon. ; )

According to this demon’s favorite band, we all have “the devil inside.” But maybe this devil prefers a different kind of music?

Maybe you think a demon should prefer Country & Western (which my friend Josh calls “the music of pain”). Or might demons just sing the Blues? Perhaps they go for the classics like Black Sabbath.

Maybe they’re insidious and love The Girl from Ipanema.

So, dear readers, here’s my challenge to you: In one hundred words or less, tell me what music you think demons listen to and why.

Be scary, be humorous, be ridiculous, or be whatever you want to be. My two completely arbitrary favorite entries will receive:

  • the signed copies of Color of Deception,
  • a mention on this blog,
  • and their entries posted here.

I’ll probably post some other non-winning entries I think are clever as well.

Submit your entries in the email form here. The contest ends at midnight, Central Standard Time [UTC-06:00], April 26th. Thanks for playing — and happy writing!

The Most Difficult Thing in the World–in the Shower

Idea Lizard with Vacuum Hose

Recently, I got inspired when Becca talked about what really happens in the shower.

Before you all click through en masse to find out the details, I’ll tell you the gist of what Becca was getting at: the power of verbalizing ideas and the precious instances in which we get those ideas.

Lizards

For Becca, those instances happen to take place in the shower. As I left a comment on her post, I pondered my own sources for artistic ideas.

Many of you, my most darlingest readers, heard me talk last Thursday about one of those sources: my dreams. (That was my first ever video blog post, and many of you lovelies let me know how much you enjoyed it! Thanks again — and yes, I do intend to repeat the trick. What I won’t do for you people… ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

So, Becca revealed that what really goes on in the shower is thinking. In my reply to her post, I wrote the following:

My thinking time happens whenever I just let my mind wander. Like a kid, it comes back to me with its hands and pockets stuffed full of all sorts of oddities. This usually happens when Iโ€™m doing housework. The more mindless and repetitive the activity, the more likely I am to turn around and find my artist-child brain holding up a lizard or something for me to coo over.

Valkyries

Were this Twitter, and were I tweeting, I would now employ the most handy hashtag #outingmyself. There you have it, folks. I might be 34 years old, but inside, my mind is really just a big kid.

My mind loafs around, skipping merrily down darkened alleys and picking up things that probably shouldn’t be touched. I’ll be doing housework — vacuuming the floors, let’s say — and suddenly, I have this idea that a certain demon (Dante) in a certain story I’m working on (Colors of Deception) should have an obsession with the music of a certain rock band (INXS).

#thatreallyhappened

I’m shoving the vacuum across the carpet with all the elegance of a Valkyrie in platform shoes, and my artist-child brain dances up and shoves my antagonist’s main quirk in my face. “Look!” says the artist-child. “Look at this! Have you ever seen anything like this before? What is it?” And the most important question:

“What can we do with it?”

Greed and Goethe

What, indeed? In the case of this particular idea, what I did was drop the vacuum, grab some paper, and scribble down the idea. I’d been thinking, but I hadn’t been thinking consciously. I knew that such ideas originate in the vast depths of the subconscious, and as easily as they emerge from the murk, they can just as easily sink back into it. I needed to preserve my idea as quickly as possible, so that I could come back to it later on.

The artist-child loves to share her discoveries — but she can be a greedy little hoarder, too. She doesn’t trust me to take proper care of her lizard; she wants to stick him back into her pocket for safekeeping. She’ll take the lizard back from me if she can — meaning, if I don’t record my idea, I will forget it.

When I write down an idea in my scribblebook, it’s like sticking the lizard in a jar until I can put him into an environment where he can thrive.

Putting the idea into a story, that’s like letting the lizard loose in a huge terrarium made just for him, where he can run and play and laze around and just be what he was meant to be.

โ€œThinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one’s thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.โ€

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Goethe knew it’s not easy, building a terrarium to house all those scampering little idea lizards.

My artist-child mind brings ’em to me while I’m stuck doing the most mundane activities. But I guess it’s kind of a fair trade, considering how much I love playing with that terrarium.

And once the idea lizards are free to be themselves within their new home (i.e. within my stories), my inner artist-child concedes that keeping them cooped up in her pockets wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun, after all.

___________________________

And you? Where and when do you do your best thinking?

Does your mind hand you ideas you’d rather not touch too often?

What do you do with those?

What’s your lizard?

Iโ€™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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

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