my hair is turning green and I don’t care; also, book stuff!

Once upon a time, there was a writer who bleached the face-framing portion of her hair and then dyed that portion pastel blue. pastelbluehairIt lasted a couple of weeks, then faded. And it continued fading from bluish into the bleached blonde until the blue and yellow combo looked decidedly greenish.

But it looked kind of mermaid-ish, and, in spite of the increasingly greenish tint, someone said she had a Rogue thing going on, so all was joy and frolicking, at least hair-wise.greenhair092016

YAY.

But before we can have a happily-ever-after, I must regale you with The Part Where I NEED TO PUBLISH SOMETHING.

I logged on here today to find out if my blog had imploded from loneliness, since I haven’t posted anything in 5 months. Wonder of wonders, it’s still here, languishing away all pale and tragic. After talking to the blog, consoling it that it is a pretty blog, and it is a good blog, I checked to see when I last posted about my WIP, and lo and BEEEEHOLT it’s been over a year.

Ach, du meine Güte.

So.

The WIP.

The WIP

The WIP is still The Elevator (formerly known as Elevator People). IT IS SO CLOSE TO DONE I CAN FEEL IT MELTING ON MY TONGUE Y’ALL. Just yesterday evening, I sent it over to editor extraordinaire Jessie Sanders, that she might give my final major edits a final once-over.

Once Jessie sends me back the MS, and once the talented Mr. Novak and I have finalized the cover, I’ll finally publish this novel that:

I started in November 2011
and
is probably the best book I’ve written so far.

It’s a very different story from the one I originally conceived of 5? 6? years ago. I thought the main character, Went Banning, would gain a father through the course of the story. As readers will discover, he gains A LOT more (including darker dimensions to his personality, which I certainly didn’t anticipate). The two children, Jop and Skee, informed me they are children of color and not Caucasian, thanks very much. There wasn’t going to be any time-traveling; some joker decides to build a time machine. I wanted the vampire to show up at the end of the story; he not-so-politely declined. Two characters switched gender: not gender-transitions as part of the story, but pronoun and (limited) description change throughout.

The short title got shorter.

When I penned the first chapters of Draft 1, I still thought the book would be published by Consortium Books. After the Consortium folded more than 4 years ago, I decided to shop the book to Amazon’s 47 North. But as the book progressed, it seemed less and less a fit for 47 North and more and more a fit for my self-pub catalog. So there we are.

So. My WIP The Elevator shall soon see the light of electronic day. BANGERANG. I am excited for y’all the read this one, dear inklings. I am genuinely pleased with it. I think this is the first time I have fallen so hard for characters that I felt actual pain at doing bad things to them.

But I did the bad things anyway.

nicbadman

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today so I can tell you I really love this book. I hope you do too.

And if you don’t, I DON’T WANNA HEAR IT. *grin-grin-nudge-nudge* Ha ha ha I can be an adult about this, no really I can, shut up don’t talk bad about my baby. What?

Meanwhile, in Writer Land…

In between edits and weeping and wailing and gnashing of drafts in my teeth, there has been the writing of a short novel or novella or long short story, what-hast-thou. I don’t know what these long-ish stories are called anymore. I’ll figure it out when marketing day comes. Anyway, over the course of this year I’ve written a piece that will be the longest story in my upcoming anthology of Legends of the Light-Walkers short stories. Faithful Readers will recognize some of the titles included in this collection:

“Out of the Darkness”: in which new journeyman Quylin Flint and her hapless companions get lost in a network of dragon caves. Getting chased by a dragon REALLY puts a damper on their holy quest from Shaddix Falladd, mad ruler of Jiredd Stal.

“Rethana’s Tower”: In this short prequel to Rethana’s Surrender, magic-user Rethana Chosardal finds her belltower home beset by night-time ruffians — none of whom expected a run-in with the real witch of the tower….

“Dead Reconning”: 2333 After the Return. The determined Wolf Dornsson and his beloved, Lendry Bersallir, fight their way past unstoppable enemies to reach the only safe place left in Jiredd Stal. Their adversaries? Zombie elves.

And the new titles:

“Gateway Drug”: 2016 A.D. Abby of Oklahoma City hasn’t seen her lover, Gerry, in 3 years. When he suddenly resurfaces and invites all the old gang over for drinks, she doesn’t know how to react…especially when people start dying.

“The Eater”: 2012 A.D. The woman awakens in a white room, and she can’t remember who she is. She can’t remember where she came from. She can’t remember what happened. But as her memory returns in tiniest flashes, she realizes that she’s in danger — and it’s not a danger anyone in this world is equipped to handle.
This world? Why does she think of it that way?
Is it possible she isn’t from…here? From anywhere here?
And who is that stranger who keeps appearing and muttering about how he “calculated wrong”…before he disappears into thin air?

And, last but certainly not least,

“Oubliette”: 1356 After the Return. In this long short story/short novel, heir apparent Elyria ra’Shaskalai flees her throne in Kaldoril as assassins pursue her. Together with her more-than-friend, stableboy Tam, she seeks refuge in neighboring Halaferth. But with Tam grievously wounded and Elyria’s magical powers out of control, her enemies have every opening they need for ending the young queen-to-be once and for all. To elude them and finally escape, Elyria will have to give herself over to a darkness she never could have imagined.

And voy-oh-lay, folks: That’s the collection of stories to come. And if you’re very, very lucky…or if I’m feeling very, very generous…I might even reveal to you (on this blog? in the book?) just how all these stories are connected.

Have a good week, y’all. Happy reading and happy writing. Make magic happen.

Schadenfreude Unicorns and Dropping Acid

So, when you’re a writer, you get together with other writers.

When you get together with other writers, you talk about writerly things together.

When you talk about writerly things together, someone mentions the genre “dystopian.”

When someone mentions the genre “dystopian,” conversation concerning the various types of dystopia ensues.

When conversation concerning the various types of dystopia ensues, “dystopian fantasy” comes up.

When “dystopian fantasy” comes up, the consensus is that it should contain unicorns who are happy about everyone’s sadness.

When the consensus is that “dystopian fantasy” should contain unicorns who are happy about everyone’s sadness, you say, “They would be Schadenfreude unicorns.”

When you say, “They would be Schadenfreude unicorns,” the whole tribe of writers starts plotting a novel entitled The Unicorns of Schadenfreude.

When the whole tribe of writers starts plotting a novel entitled The Unicorns of Schadenfreude, the protagonist of the novel is a little girl who brings pain and misery to her world so that the Schadenfreude unicorns will come back to it.

When the protagonist of the novel is a little girl who brings pain and misery to her world so that the Schadenfreude unicorns will come back to it, the novel ends with the little girl ripping open a portal and the Schadenfreude unicorns prancing happily through the portal into a world filled with death and destruction.

When the novel ends with the little girl ripping open a portal and the Schadenfreude unicorns prancing happily through the portal into a world filled with death and destruction, the writers decide that they could only write The Unicorns of Schadenfreude if they were on acid.

When the writers decide that they could only write The Unicorns of Schadenfreude if they were on acid, you realize it’s time for a blog post.

NOW I NEED ONE OF YOU TO DRAW A PICTURE OF A SCHADENFREUDE UNICORN.

GO.

Guest Blogger: Writer and Editor Jessie Sanders

Happy new week, my beloved inklings!

Last week, I promised you some more updatingness of the goings-on in my neck of the blogging woods. Or, rather, my neck of the Life-the-Universe-and-Everything Woods. This post kinda sorta falls into the updatingness category, because it concerns a novel that I recently helped edit:

Young Adult novel Into the Flames by Jessie Sanders — who happens to be friend, fellow writer, and my editor.

Into the Flames, Jessie’s first novel, is the intriguing and suspenseful story of Rahab Carmichael, who’s desperate to fit in at her new boarding school. Trouble is, Rahab happens to have some special powers that keep her from fitting in — and send her right into the arms of the other “freaks” at school. Teens will relate to Rahab’s story quite well, as will we adults who remember those “awful” days of being relegated to the “freaks” pile. Superhero powers or no. ; )

To celebrate the new release, I asked Jessie to share with us what sparked (ha ha, sparked, get it?) the idea for Into the Flames and how that idea grew and changed over the years. So, without further ado or adon’t, here’s Jessie:

The world of Grover Cleveland Academy started from something as simple as watching a trailer for the movie Treasure Planet. Yes, the Disney movie based off of Treasure Island only it’s set in space. You see, when I saw the character Jim Hawkins sailing through space on his little hover board, I knew I wanted to write about a character that could fly — for real. Instead of using a futuristic board to soar among the clouds, the character would use her own superpowers to fly, strapping her snowboard onto her boots as she went.

That’s how Jean Elizabeth “Scout” Wren was born. Ten years later, Scout is merely a secondary character in my novel Into the Flames. I never intended it to end up this way.

I can’t really tell you how Rahab came into existence. I just know that by the time I was done writing Born to Fly (Scout’s story), I knew that the next year a new girl would be moving to Grover Cleveland — Rahab Sapphira Carmichael. And I found that I liked her even more than Scout.

Scout was a loud tomboy who would rather play baseball than read a book. Rahab was shoved to the back burner because she was the youngest, and she allowed herself to be forgotten so that no one would notice that she was different. But I wanted people to notice her. I wanted her story to be told. So I told it.

Now just because Rahab came to me complete with swimsuit, goggles, and bangs doesn’t mean that she was perfect from the start. She’s been through some major changes in her development, but at the end of the day, she’s a caring, sensitive girl who just wants to be allowed to do the thing she loves the most — swim. She loves animals and is deathly afraid of fire. She has two older brothers whom she admires but can’t relate to. She’s got a lot of hurt in her past, but now she’s ready for a fresh start at her shiny new boarding school.

I really started working hard on Into the Flames during my creative writing class my senior year of college. What I really wanted was a novel that was driven by characters and just happened to include a fantasy element, not the other way around. When my classmates told me they loved the development of Rahab and her friends, I knew I was on the road to making my dream a reality.

Creating the plot of Into the Flames was hard. I had my cast of rich characters, but what to do with them? Well, knowing Rahab’s fear of fire, I was certain that it had to play into the climactic scene somehow. I also knew that I wanted to include resident bad boy Bracken Carnegie in said climactic scene. For many years, cheesy lines and completely implausible scenarios ran through my head and were subsequently deleted from the bank. Finally, after many cumulative hours of talking to myself, lamenting to others, and scratching through pages of bad dialogue, I hashed something out.

So now, from a small spark of an idea that led all the way to an entire world, I humbly bring to you the first book in the Grover Cleveland Academy series. I hope you enjoy Into the Flames as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Courtney here again. Pick up your Kindle copy of Into the Flames for $2.99 and get to readin’! And don’t forget to tell Jessie how much you enjoyed it. : )

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).

Of Figs and the 9th Circle of Hell

Sometimes, I am a nerd.

Okay, yes, most of the time. And nerdery happens on this blog pretty much all of the time. This post about Google Analytics is a good example.

I had an awfully cramazing good time with that post, and a few days ago I was tooling around in Google Analytics again, and I thought to myself, “Self, you really should write another blog post about keywords, because that was just rockin’ awesome fun,” and myself replied, “Heck YEAH.”

So. Here are a few recent keyword phrases that have led people to my blog. Some of them make sense. Some of them, in the timeless tradition of haiku about refigerators* ***, do not. But I am going to answer them anyway. Because that’s just the kind of sweet, kind, helpful person I am. Booyah.

Six Keyword Searches…

…in order of my amusement:

1. three creative sins

Not sure what we’re talkin’ about here, y’all. If it’s three sins in creativity, how’s about this?

  1. Letting other people tell you how to be creative.
  2. Telling yourself “I’m not good enough to (insert creative activity here).”
  3. Neglecting to hone your craft.

If it’s creatively-executed sins you’re looking for, this might not be the blog you’re looking for.

(Email me.) ; )

2. what is the german word for “here”

The German word for “here” is “hier.”

BANGERANG. Next question.

3. what to write on my first blog post?

Most importantly: WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? Why are you blogging? Why do you care? This is pretty much The Question you should answer for yourself before you even write that first blog post. If you do that, you’ll forge a connection with your readers before you even have any. Readers, that is. I know this is very meta, but trust me, I’m an expert**.

4. why are short stories short?

Um.

Because they’re not long?
Because they’re not novels?
Because short story cat is short story?

It’s because of reasons.

Oy.

5. why grocery shopping is the 9th circle of hell

Shopping carts in parking spaces. Packed aisles. Twenty-five cash registers and only 3 checkers. Sugar cookies jumping out at you from every endcap. The woman in bunny slippers, curlers, and a see-through blouse. The guy at the meat counter who turns to you with wide, shining eyes and says, “Have you tried this ground chuck? You should try this ground chuck!

I really don’t think I need to elaborate on this.

6. writing a story about court

You’re writing a story about ME? You are fantabulous! I love you! You are my new favorite person for the next ten minutes! Do I get a superpower? Oooooh, can I be telekinetic? And have vorpal unicorn morphing powers? I wouldn’t mind a teleporting ability, too, since I’ve kind of been wanting to go to Australia lately. Thanks!

_______________________

* I misspelled “refrigerator” as I was writing this post. I happened to be writing this post while at Consortium Time. I turned to Aaron and Becca and said, “I need someone to write a sci-fi story about a device that regenerates figs. It would be called a ‘refigerator.'”

They were not amused.
Although Becca said I had her until “figs.”

** Also, I seem to be a pathological liar.

*** Jessie mentioned haiku this week, which is why Japanese poetry is so randomly present in this blog post. Gadzooks, Brain.

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.

Demons, Daftness, and Deadlines — OH My

So, I’ve got two exciting things to tell you about. I’m gonna try to tell you these things coherently — but, alas and alack, the lovely storm that rolled in this evening has bequeathed upon me a vision-blurring, brain-mushing headache. Thus, if I don’t make sense or if everything I write comes out weird, I’ll have to ask you to bear with me.

But exciting things! The first one, my darlings, is that a few weeks back, Julie and Carlos Velez of Julie V. Photography shot the cover art photo for my SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT (Demons of Saltmarch #2). And it was bonkers fabulous.

I know that after Book 1’s cover art shoot, I shared all manner of cool photos with you. Sorry to disappoint, but I won’t be doing that this time. For one thing, we shot our male model against a white backdrop, and the cool Saltmarch background will get Photoshopped in.

For another, I want to keep the appearance and identity of our male model a secret (though you already know who he is and what he looks like, if you’ve been paying attention on Twitter.) He’s gonna look cramazingly cool on the SHADOWS cover, and I want the whole thing to be a surprise.

In the meantime: MODEL! You know who you are! And I thank you once again for your fabulous work with our photographers!

I know so many cool, talented, and just plain nice people. : )

And that, my beloveds, was Exciting Thing One.

Exciting Thing Two is that I have officially completed my final draft of SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT and have submitted it to my editor for official, editor-ish “nurturing.” And as I peruse my Google Document, I see by her notes that the nurturing is already well underway.

Which, if you hadn’t guessed, gets me all kinds of nervous as well as giddy. I actually love getting edited, because it’s an honest joy to find out stuff I can do to make my story better.

The story in question, of course, is the sequel to COLORS OF DECEPTION. If you haven’t read COLORS, I won’t spoil it for you here. But. I will say that in this second book…

  • Peter takes center stage as main character,
  • we get to meet his auguren (read: demon-hunter) family, including his arrogant big bro Daniel (sibling rivalry! woot!),
  • Holly’s got a botheration of explaining to do,
  • seductive, craven, hungry Dante Mullins is up to his old tricks,
  • somebody gets whisked away to Saltmarch,
  • and demon cartoon bunnies are rather inconvenient.

Me, I am bouncing hither and yon, alternating between breathless excitement to get this book into your hands, my loves — and breathless terror that you won’t like it once you’ve got it. Welcome back to my Author’s Mild Manic Episodes. They might become more frequent until the first week of October (read: release of Book 2).

I hope you enjoy your stay. ; )

In Which “Jesus” Works On My Novel

Well, folks. You’re getting a treat today.

Why? Because it’s one of those days.

If you know me in real life at all, you know all too well my penchant for scatterbrainedness. Most of the time, I can focus. Most of the time, I know FAR in advance what I want to do. I don’t necessarily live by a schedule — but I do know how I want my day to progress. And I get squirmy if I plan things and then don’t get them done.

On the other hand, there are days like today.

Today, my darlings, I just can’t focus. I should be writing for you a blog post of beautiful coherence and cohesion, something with a unifying theme. Something that makes sense as a whole.

Regrettably, that’s not going to happen.

Here are three random items instead:

1. Last week, my friend Patricia pointed out that I don’t talk the way I write.

It’s true. I don’t. When you’re engaged in verbal conversation with me, I don’t use phrases like “engaged in verbal conversation.” I don’t start sentences with “regrettably,” and “penchant” is not part of my everyday vocabulary. And I don’t talk so fast that you have to squint at me and tune out the rest of the world in order to keep up.

In verbal conversation, I hesitate a lot. My sentences are shorter. A lot of them don’t get finished. And I say “That’s funny” way more than any human being should.

What’s more, I’m an introvert. So, unless I know you well, or unless we’re among a small group of friends, I won’t talk a lot. I won’t go on half as long as I do on my blog.

I’m a writer, not a talker. Yes, I’m a sucker for great conversation…but with just a few people at a time. Preferably two or three. If I can get an individual to talk to me one-on-one until the late hours of the night, I’m almost in heaven.

YES! Give me that intimate meeting of the minds!

I promise I’ll keep words like “juxtaposed” to a minimum. 😉

2. Jesus reminds us of how important it is to have an actual plot in our stories.

One day, whilst meandering through Facebook, I posted a link to my friend Jessie’s blog.

Jessie had reviewed a book in which the plot was not clear. In my headline above the link, I pointed out that her post was a good reminder of how important plot is in any story. Another Facebook friend commented that at first glance, he thought I’d written “Jesus” instead of “Jessie.”

I kind of like the idea that good storytelling is a divine command. It fits my mantra: Created to create!

3. Once upon a time, Jessie’s brother John admonished me about my habit of self-deprecation.

From 2001 to 2007, the husband and I lived in Germany and worked with a small church there. I could write a whole year’s worth of posts on everything we did, but the short of it is that we helped out however we could (organizing, construction-working, wall-painting, encouraging, mentoring, counseling, etc.) and taught private, conversational English lessons.

Our financial support came mainly from individuals back in the good ol’ USA, so I wrote regular newsletters to all of those fine folks, telling them the whats and wherefores of our lives. And lemme tell ya, those newsletters were long. I had to force myself to condense each one to two pages.

Those pages usually had 0.4-inch margins.

I frequently apologized for the length of those letters.

Then my friend John wrote me an email. In his direct, no-nonsense way, he said,

Don’t apologize for anything you write. If you’ve written a long letter, it’s because you’ve written what you felt was necessary to write. You weaken the message of your letter when you apologize for it.

Well. That made me take a step back.

Long story (ha!) short, I decided that he was right.

I never apologized for a long newsletter again. People kept sending money, so I guess they didn’t miss the apologies.

My friend JT, a university student, has some fascinating ideas for a novel. When we sit and chat about it, he invariably shoots me a warning look and says, “If I wrote this, it would be controversial.”

I tell him what John told me.
____________

Inconsistent vocabulary.

Divine commands for storytelling.

NO APOLOGIES.

What randomnesses of your own would you like to share? Lemme hear ya!