my 10 novels

Since my social media vacay apparently has catapulted me into random-abundant-blogging mode, and since I have books on the brain (HA HA BUSINESS AS USUAL AMIRITE), here are the titles and statuses? stati? of my finished…um…”finished” novels.

Egad, I bet ya’ll thought that sentence would never end.

(BUT I HAVE A MILLION OF THEM OH YES YOU CANNOT HIDE OR FLEE YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED AND YOU WILL LIKE IT)

*ahem*

*eyeroll*

My Ten Novels

1. “‘S’ Is for Survival” — a practice novel

  • completed at age 15
  • YA soft sci-fi/coming-of-age
  • not related to Sue Grafton’s mystery novels
  • inspired by The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson
  • two drafts; will never see the light of day

2. Mindsnatcher — a practice novel

  • completed at age 17
  • YA sci-fi
  • two drafts; will never see the light of day

3. Tomato Electric Destroy Force 9: Writer Dearest and the Interlopers

  • a novel about one writer’s adventure through NaNoWriMo
  • 3rd or 4th draft stage
  • will see the light of Publication Day if I can firgure out how to author-pub it; it contains must-have images and would work best in color

4. Colors of Deception (Demons of Saltmarch, #1) — published by Consortium Books

5. Shadows after Midnight (Demons of Saltmarch, #2) — published by Consortium Books

6. Stains of Grace (Demons of Saltmarch, #3) — published by Consortium Books

7. Rethana’s Surrender (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #1) — published by Consortium Books

8. Rethana’s Trial (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #2) — published by Consortium Books

9. The Dying of the Light (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #3) — author-published, Faeddra Books

10. The Elevator — author-published, Faeddra Books

Big ol’ FYI. 🙂

What’s next?

Next is the Legends of the Light-Walkers short story anthology I’m working on. My goal is to pub by December 31st; preferably earlier, so I can do a Christmas special and whatnot. But I’m not pressuring myself. The holidays are stressful enough as it is, and I plan to enjoy myself in any case. So we shall see what we shall see. In the meantime, my coffee cup needs a refill. Laterz, inklings!

Writers’ Blog Hop: 4 Writerly Questions (also Dr. Seuss)

Hidey-ho, beloved inklings!

Did you miss me?

Don’t answer that. ; )

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been rather absent from my blog for the last two months. This is due to three things. Attend, my dears, and I shall tell you them.

Thing One

When I have a spare moment for writing, I devote that moment to (working title:) The Writing of Legends of the Light-Walkers 3, The First Draft: The Draftening. That is not the working title. I just made that up.

More on this later.

Thing Two

Last week, my parents celebrated 50 years of marriage. This is mind-blowing and cramazing and I love them for it. I feel that in this world of hook-ups and hang-ups and h-something-something-alliteration, people like my parents are a ray of hope to those of us who haven’t gotten to the big FIVE-OH (or even the big TWO-OH) yet. Plus, they’ve gone through a lot to make it this far, so all the hats (and possibly other various accoutrements) are off to them.

50years

To show my love and appreciation, I threw them a party (and this is the Thing Two that took up potential blogging time). Cousins and aunts helped, and without these cousins and aunts, I couldn’t have accomplished half of the party prep and the party itself wouldn’t have been half as nice. I spent much of the prep time — and some of the party itself — overwhelmed with gratitude at the loveliness of all of these women who came together to help honor my parents. It was truly a blessing.

With Apologies to Dr. Seuss: Thing Three

I’d thought several times about surfacing from novel-writing and party-planning just long enough to pop in here and say hi. But then Judy Dunn, fellow writer and blogger, contacted me and asked me to join in on a Writers’ Blog Hop. I agreed and then decided to make the blog hop post my “hey how’s it goin’, y’all.”

Hey! How’s it goin’, y’all?

If I’m not mistaken, that brings us full circle. So, woot and cetera.

Writers’ Blog Hop: 4 Writerly Questions

In Judy’s own blog hop post, she answered four writing questions that the previous blogger? hopper? (hoppah!) had asked her. So I get to answer those same questions (AND PASS THEM ON TO THE AB-FAB WRITER ANNOUNCED AT THE END OF THIS POST SO CHECK HIM OUT DO IT DO IT DO IT OR I’LL SEND ELVES TO TATTOO “I’M A NERD” ON YOUR FOREHEAD DON’T TEST ME).

*ahem*

Without further ado or adon’t, here are Les Quatres (4) Questions Writerliques:

1. What am I working on right now?

My current project is the third novel in my Legends of the Light-Walkers series. (The first two are here.) Everything you need to know about LLW3, you can find here. For blog-hopping (blopping?) purposes, I’ll just say that this is probably the biggest writing project I’ve ever taken on, it eats my lunch when I take my eyes off it for the splittest of seconds, and I love every ridiculous minute of it.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

LLW3 is different in that it is the pseudo-urban fantasy prequel to epic fantasies LL1 and LL2. Yes, I’m sorta switching genres mid-series. Except not really. The whole LLW series is meant to be epic fantasy. That’s always been THE BIG IDEA. But for certain things to happen in LLW1 and LLW2, the story of LLW3 has to be told.

The story of LLW3 is the story of Rafe Skelleran — who just happens to have been born in Oklahoma City, OK. That’s not exactly an epic fantasy setting. So when we meet Rafe, he’s still not-so-happily ensconced in his downtown OKC apartment. He crosses over into my epic fantasy world (readers will know this as Rethana’s universe) in…um…a chapter that’s now Chapter 3, I think. But he starts out here. So that’s sorta where the urban part comes in.

Bear with me, y’all. It’ll all come out in the wash, I promise.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Because I gotta.

Next question?

; ) Just kidding. But no, really. These stories are in my head, and if I don’t write them, I get surly and depressed and start oil-painting deepsea anglerfish mermaids (READ: fishtailed girls with ginormous jaws and spiky teeth) and lots of things in black. And then I get accused of demon-possession and nobody has any fun anymore. So I write my stories to make things better for ALL of us. You should thank me.

Really though, do come see the anglerfish mermaid sometime. She’s a cutie.

4. How does my writing process work?

Well, there’s coffee.

Next question?

Yeah, yeah. ; )

I used to be mostly a “pantser”: Flying by the seat of my pants, I dived into Telling The Story with little to no preparation, and it was magnificent and brilliant and exciting until I stalled out and dropped like a stone at around 10,000 words. KABLOOEY.

Nowadays, I still pants it a leeeeetle, but only after I do a lot of prep work. Great Scott, I know that sounds like a major paradox. Here’s how it works:

  • I write out a short synopsis — just the basics of what I think will happen. This is MC. This is what MC wants. MC does this. This is Antagonist. This is Antagonist’s goal (in opposition to what MC wants). Antagonist does this. And so forth.
  • I write out a Mock Table of Contents, and I let myself be ridiculous with it even if the story isn’t primarily comedy. For instance:

1. “Also, I Can Kill You with My Brain”
2. Down the Rabbit Hole; Dude, Your Ward Is Screwed Up
3. Take Me to Your Dream Weaver (a la REO Speedwagon)
4. Dude Is Janky, Let’s Kill Him
5. Girl’s Got Skillz (Or: Come Here So I Can Hit You with a Rock)
6. In Which the Spirit of Robert Frost Is Channeled. Word.
7. Sanctuary! Also, Get the Hell Outta My Head
8. Most Everyone’s Mad Here; Et Tu, Jael?
9. …

You get the picture. That, by the way, is the Mock ToC for the third Legends of the Light-Walkers novel. For keen observers, there might be a teensy-weensy spoiler or two in there. But for the most part, the Mock ToC means nothing to anyone but me. Each chapter title is just a note-to-self on what’s supposed to happen in that chapter. None of these will appear in the final draft.

  • I also do a character list, with 300-word descriptions for the protagonist and antagonist, and 100-word descriptions for at least two supporting characters. The other supporting chars just get a bullet point each. I’ll jot down notes on the big event (what catapults the MC into the story), the conflict, the obstacles, the climax, and the denouement. None of this has to be very long; it’s mainly just notes I’ll use for reference if I get stuck while writing the first draft.

I might do a long synopsis and also list what happens scene-by-scene in each chapter, but that depends on how tedious I’m finding the process at this point. I do write better when I’ve done some of this pre-writing, but if I start feeling bogged down with the pre-writing, I move on to the actual writing of the story. Boggy feelings don’t go well with creativity.

HINT: This is where I turn from a plotter back into a pantser. MIGHTY PANTSER-MORPHIN’ POWERS, ACTIVATE.

Oooooh, I know what this is called! This is plot-pantsing. PLONTSING. I AM A PLONTSER, Y’ALL. I think I just invented a term. Check me on this, people — but I bet you heard it here first. (If you didn’t, don’t you dare burst my bubble.)

In the actual writing-of-story process, I just write as fast as I can without (much) editing, so as to get the first draft out in “one” fell swoop. That fellness might take two years to swoop all the way, but if that’s as fast as I can go, then so be it.

After Draft 1 is done, I let it sit at least 6-8 weeks before looking at it again. I then read it all the way through without (much) editing. Then I release the Inner Editor in all her full and glorious wrath and edit and revise and rewrite until Draft 2 is finished. I wash, rinse, repeat until I have Draft 3. Nowadays, that’s likely as far as I’ll go before handing it over to an editor. (I’ll let beta readers take their shots starting with Draft 2). I think the most drafts I’ve ever had on one novel was six.

This is now WAY longer than I’d intended it to be, so I think I’ll go home now. : )

Please check out my fellow wordnerdssmiths in the Writers’ Blog Hop!

judyfinal Judy Lee Dunn writes to release her true stories in the hope that they will help her readers learn how to navigate life and live to tell about it. Her blog was named a Top 10 Blog for Writers in 2011. She has written everything from marketing and sales copy to grant proposals, children’s books, magazine articles and news stories. Judy has finally settled on her true passion, creative nonfiction. She was a contributing author for Seasons of Our Lives: Winter and is currently writing her first full-length memoir, Out Tonight. Judy lives on Anderson Island in south Puget sound with her husband Bob. In her spare time, she likes to read early 20th century novels and feed gourmet meals to stray cats.

 

 

tonyhealey Tony Healey is the best-selling author of the sci-fi series Far From Home. He was a contributor to the first Kindle All-Stars short story anthology, Resistance Front, along with award-winning authors Alan Dean Foster, Harlan Ellison and 30 others. In January 2014, he published the speculative fiction and horror anthology Edge of Oblivion, with all proceeds going to charity.
Tony’s post for the blog hop will be available for your reading pleasure on May 12th.

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

RsSfrontcover
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.

Announcing New #Fantasy Novel: RETHANA’S TRIAL

Hile, my lovely inklings!

Here’s hoping this finds you all warmly ensconced at home, sipping hot chocolate or something of the cider variety whilst enjoying the unique bliss of post-holiday relaxation. My Christmas was two-fold: first an afternoon of fun, food, and presents with my parents on the 23rd, then two days of fun, food, presents, food, more food, and then some more food at the inlaws’ in Texas.

After I’d gained 5 lbs., we departed for the snowy north. We made it as far as Ardmore, Oklahoma, around 5:00pm Christmas Day before we conceded defeat in the face of ice and snow. A night in a cozy motel, then we finally headed home. All in all, a successful holiday — even including the snowy adventure. Even with a baby in the car, I can’t help but enjoy a good storm. ; )

NEWS

Rethana's Trial front
It’s been on Twitter and Facebook already, but this is my first chance to announce it here:

RETHANA’S TRIAL IS LIVE!

The story picks up right where the Rethana’s Surrender cliffhanger left off. So if you’ve been itching to find out what happens next, now’s your chance! Pick up your e-copy for Kindle or Nook.

Also, if you’ve given a fantasy-reading loved one an e-reader for Christmas, I’d be ever so grateful if you recommended me…or just went ahead and bought them both Rethana stories. : )

Rethana’s Trial is my fifth published novel and the second book in my Legends of the Light-Walkers (LLW) series. Rethana’s Trial is the sequel to Rethana’s Surrender, which I talk about here. (You can also click here to read all the posts tagged with the title.)

Incidentally, the paperback should be available in January 2013.

I am so excited to have this second Light-Walkers novel out in the world. From start to publication of Book 2, Rethana’s story has been 9 years in the making. Rethana herself, her adventures, and her supporting cast have been an integral part of my life for almost a decade, and —

Wow. Wait a second.

Almost a decade.

A decade.

A DECADE.

That’s a long relationship with a book, y’all. Especially in our modern era of self-pub-ten-titles-a-year, a decade is a long relationship. It’s practically a life-long marriage. It’s an ĂĽber-gestation (and those of you who know me well also know that I don’t use that German “prefix” [it’s actually a preposition] lightly).

And now Rethana’s out there — all of her, not just a cliffhanging first half — and I’m both excited and a little relieved. Excited because so many of you lovely people let me know how much you enjoyed the first LLW novel, and now you can finally get your hands on the rest of Rethana’s story. Relieved because Trial has been my only writing project for most of the year. Other stories are calling me, and I’m ready to answer. I’m ready to leave Rethana to you lovelies and scribble out some new adventures for you to enjoy.

So what’s next?

Well, first I intend (finally!) to finish Elevator People, the low sci-fi I started in 2011. After that, I’ll turn my attention to the next LLW novel. And what shall this one be about? I’m not sure yet, as I’ve got a few options. There’s the story of Esau the Gray One. There’s the story of Taeven Ravenhair. Both of them get mentions in Rethana’s two-book tale. But then there’s also the story of Rowan First Cerelae. Not to mention the story of Deren…Rethana’s son.

I’m not sure which of those I’m leaning toward yet. Esau’s story at least has a ton of prewriting already under its belt. But Deren and Taeven each have several chapters already. On the other hand, Esau’s got an entire novel that I wrote between ages 17 and 21. The writing is horrendous, but at least the chunk of marble has a discernible figure carved into it.

Decisions, decisions…. *sigh*

Oh well. I don’t have to decide now. Elevator People is my next priority. I’ll ponder what’s to follow that and keep you posted. : )

In the meantime, here’s the full spread of cover art for RETHANA’S TRIAL. This complete gorgeousness is brought to you by the incredibly talented Lane Brown. Cover design is by Krysten Marshall. For some reason, WordPress isn’t letting me share a larger version with you. : ( If I can figure out how to fix this, I will.

Rethana'sTrial

Melted Crayons and Houses Made of Sunshine

Hile, inklings!

You might have noticed my recent silence here. I have no explanation to offer other than the reality of life with a newborn, said reality consisting of round-the-clock feedings, projectile poop (4 feet and counting), and sleep-deprivation (there were hallucinations). Said reality leaves little time for creative endeavors, and when I’ve had that little time, I’ve devoted it to finishing Rethana’s Trial and to editing Josh Unruh‘s Weird Western.

But.

Yesterday, whilst out walking with the aforementioned projectile-pooping newborn (she was not projectile-pooping at the time, which made the walk much more pleasant), my creative brain randomly kicked into high gear and made a poem. Last night, I had a chance to sit down and write it all out. I thought y’all might want to read it, so here it is:

Building Plans
by Courtney Cantrell

I want to live in a house
with half a million windows
and trim painted the color of laughter.

I want the sunshine in every room
and enough kitchen countertop space
to cook breakfast for a multitude.

The dishes are crystallized happy tears,
the teacups are adoration solidified,
and the cutlery is made of rainbows.

I want a bag of pixie dust
hung on every doorknob
and monster-hair plants stretching toward the ceiling.

Every closet leads to Narnia,
every mirror to Wonderland.
Every threshold is a bridge to Terebithia.

I want stars to carpet the floor.
I want to swish skip crunch through them
like crackling leaves in autumn.

The lamps burn on love
and don’t have an “off” switch.
The shadows are made of angels.

We lay ourselves to rest
on cushions of fluffy clouds,
and from our lips spill all things bright and merciful

as our hearts sing in sweetest harmony with forever.

I hope you enjoy reading that as much as I enjoyed writing it. : )

And because it goes well with the poem, I leave you with the melted crayon rainbow I recently finished for the projectile-pooping newborn’s room.

Click to embiggen!

Your Novel Is Missing Something

Greetings, my lovely inklings! I hope your day is fantabulous thus far.

Since I’ve been posting on so much various and sundry of late, I thought it well to pen for you a few whats concerning writing today. This is also by way of an update on my own Writing Life, i.e. my work-in-progress, i.e. Rethana’s Trial (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #2).

Background Particulars

If you recall, I recently mentioned in passing that I’d submitted the final draft of Rethana’s Trial to my indie publisher. I did not, however, make note that while I considered the draft complete, I did have a few minor bits and pieces to clean up. I figured that I could just work ahead of Aaron and have all of my fantastical ducks in a row before he laid eyes on whatever section of story I’d just finished polishing.

Said polishing, by the way, was to consist of fact-checking Book 2 against Book 1; fixing some linguistic errors in Lirren Eamnaya, the language I invented for this series; and making sure that the redhead in Chapter 2 wasn’t a brunette in Chapter 17. Things like that.

I write my stories in Google Docs, so I’d left myself comments all over the place. And as I went through the document, checking and fixing and comment-resolving and congratulating myself on how well I was keeping ahead of Aaron, I came across the following:

Note to self

Do please click to embiggen and feast your eyes on the note I left myself on the right-hand side of the screen capture.

Yes. I had managed to “complete the final draft” and had left out an entire chapter in the process.

*le sigh*

I sent Aaron an email with the subject line “oh crap,” detailing the lack of finishedness. The good news is that in the Google Doc comment, I’d left myself an outline of the missing chapter. It’s a very rough outline, but at least I’m not racking my brains trying to remember what it was I intended said chapter to contain and accomplish.

The bad news is that I could go into labor at any moment, and if I don’t get that chapter written before this happens, I likely won’t get it written for at least another month. (I am trying to be optimistic.)

How to Add Necessary Wordage to Your Novel

So. Now the goal is to add 4,000-6,000 words to the story. How to accomplish said feat? I know I can’t be the only writer out there to be facing such a task, so I thought I’d delineate a few steps for all of you writerly people. This is by no means an exhaustive how-to; this is just how I’m approaching the problem. If it works for you, too, then I’ve done A Good Thing. : )

How to Add Necessary Wordage to Your Novel

1. Have an idea of what those words need to be.

As I mentioned above, I’ve already got a rough outline of what needs to go into this chapter. Now, by “outline” I do not mean a point-by-point bulleted list, although that might be helpful. I mean I have three or so run-on sentences that say “first this happens and then this and then someone says that and the MC responds and then they argue and blah.” Yes, the “blah” is a direct quote. When I wrote the comment, I needed to remind my future self of the thoughts that had inspired the idea that the story needed this chapter. The Run-On Blah serves as my “oh yeah, that.”

2. Know what the extra words need to accomplish.

In my case — and without providing spoilers — my entire extra chapter serves a dual purpose:
(a) It fleshes out a side character as one of the main antagonists of the story.
(b) It provides my main character with extra motivation for her decisions over the course of the next 2-3 chapters.

Unless you’re in the throes of NaNoWriMo and are trying to pad your word count, you’re never just adding words for the sheer heckuvit. This is not a thesis paper to which you’re adding fluff in order to get your letter grade. This is a novel, in which every word must be absolutely necessary. (Really, you should approach thesis papers the same way, but who does that?) In novel-writing, if a word doesn’t need to be there, you have to cut it. Conversely, you shouldn’t add a word unless you need it, either.

So, before you go adding a couple thou of wordage to your story, be sure of what function you want those words to perform. Fleshing out character? Adding motive? Clarifying action? Tying up subplot? Giving main character another delicious obstacle to overcome?
Decide. And then move on to the last step.

3. Engage butt-to-chair and write the darn thing.

I discovered my lack-of-a-chapter on Thursday. I didn’t get around to sitting down to the story again until Monday. Granted, in the meantime I had baby-related necessaries to accomplish and away-from-keyboard activities in which to engage. But still…I’m a big enough girl to admit to the possibility that I might have been procrastinating a little.

Do as I say, not as I do. In every step of novel-writing, plunking your butt in your chair and just doing the work will ultimately be the only thing that gets your story written. It’s the only thing that will get your story finished — and I mean really finished, not just ready for someone to start reading while you frantically work ahead of said beta reader and hope they don’t catch up to you before you’re done.

———

So, there ya have it. My three steps on how to add necessary words to your novel. Comments, questions, and even disagreements are welcome. What would you add to the list?