Monday, October 15, 2018

Snow Crash - A Review

Hiro Protagonist, a name you won't forget.

Neal Stephenson’s SNOW CRASH is one of those seminal books that, if you’ve read any other cyberpunk or watched any of the subsequent movies, hasn’t aged all that well.  If you can put the book into context as one of the first of its kind, then you see all the amazing things that Stephenson is doing.  Without that, it feels like all the main characters are a Mary Su or Marty Stu, even if that wasn’t the case at the time.

Meet Hiro Protagonist—a name crafted so that you won’t forget it—expert hacker, marketing genius, and the world’s greatest swordsman (yeah, I’m not making that up). He’s also a rebel without much of a cause, floating through life, rejecting job offers that would make him quite wealthy because he doesn’t want to “sell out”.  Hiro is reduced to delivering pizza in a world that hasn’t just gone corporate government, but has legitimized crime syndicates, so long as they can deliver on the goods—including pizza.

Now meet Y.T. (not Whitey), a skater-courier, and underage hottie, who doesn’t know when she should be scared, and enjoyed her courier-skateboarding life almost as much for the thrill of nearly dying, as for the money she makes doing it.

Down boys! She's only 16!
When Hiro’s best friend, and fellow hacker, Da5id, looks at a new bitmap “drug” in the virtual world called Snow Crash, he’s immediately put into a comma.  Hiro’s ex, equally brilliant and equally hot hacker, Juanita shows up just in time to start Hiro down an obscure and interesting path that starts all the way back at the beginnings of human history, and trickles down to the stories near-future. Hiro enlists Y.T. to act as an intelligence gathering agent, and the two set off on a cyber adventure with real life consequences.

Overall, science fiction and cyberpunk fans will find much and more offered by Stephenson in SNOW CRASH.  The core plot is one that easily remains interesting and unique, even if the characters now seem to be more fantasy and computer game generated. In a world of Altered Carbon, it’s hard to not laugh at the vast skill set Hiro and Y.T. reveal as they go through their motions. The story is not bad, not at all, and certainly it’s a fun and interesting read.

I also wouldn’t mind seeing a movie made from this, updating the plot, and giving a bit more depth to the world and the characters.

What book, or series, would you like to see made for television? Tell me in the comments below!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Remember, Remember the Sixth of November

With deepest apologies to our English friends, the rest of the world, Guy Fawkes, etc.:

Remember! Remember!
The Russian treason and plot;
I know of no reason,
Why the Trump campaign treason,
Should ever be forgot!

The Donald and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
All up alive.
"Grab 'em by the p***y," Trump hugely peddled,
"Forget about how the Russians meddled!"

But, by Mueller's investigation, Papadopoulos they did catch,
And Flynn, and Gates, and Manafort to match!
Pinedo! van der Zwaan! Kilimnik! Patten!
The guilty even includes Trump's lawyer, Cohen!

A tariff here, a tariff there to create financial doom!
Another day, another scandal, "Believe me, it's not a mushroom!"
A pint of beer to wash it down,
Holler, girls! Holler boys! Make those ballots sing!
Holler louder, vote November, bring down Trump the "King"!

What are your reasons for voting—or not voting—this November? Tell me in the comments below!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Covers and Cover Artists

Where the HELL is she looking?

A long time ago, perhaps as long as two years, I was working with a cover artist for a new version of Tears of Heaven.  Working with is a bit of a stretch. I communicated through someone else to the artist.

The less said about that, the better.

One of the problems with this was that the artist kept insisting on putting religious icons and tattoos on Del.  A cross necklace, for example, didn’t make sense.  Del doesn’t have to believe in a higher power—she interacts with them all the time. That higher power didn't discriminate with a single set of religious beliefs.  

The tattoos were a little different. I don’t mind tattoos myself, I have two, but the artist kept putting one of a demon on Del’s arm.

A demon!?

Why a demon?  Why would a demon hunter put a demon on her arm? Especially when the demons all looked beautiful (at least to start).

Was she trying to remind herself of how silly mortals are about their fears?
Yep.  I still hate it.

Since I was working through someone else, we never got to have that conversation. I'm sure I came off as a prima dona about the cover art.  The less said about the bullet bandolier, also the better. 

I’d keep telling him (through the intermediary) to take the tattoo off. One version it would be gone, and the next it was back.  There were other issues—as you can see on both the draft version and the final.  The whole process was something of a horrible fight.

In the end, I realized that it was never going to get any better.  I never liked the final version of the cover.  I do not blame the artist.

I mention all this because working on the new cover has been a dream. There’s no comparing the process between the two. I’m looking forward to the final product and I'm excited to share it with everyone!

Maybe I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

What would you like to see on a Del cover?  Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

We Have Liftoff!

Take a look at what I've done!

News!  News!  News!

This announcement has been brewing over the last couple of weeks.  I’m thrilled, just tickled pink and stick-a-fork-in-me-I’m-done, over-the-moon excited to announce that the Flames of Perdition (Del) series has a new home!

Clayborn Press (thank you JJ!) has picked up the books, and everything is in the works to release them as quickly as possible.  The hope is that a newly-branded version of Tears of Heaven will release in a couple of months, with Hell Becomes Her to follow quickly.

The only question will be if I can get Sins of the Throne: A Jane Ivey Adventure completed before I start feeling the pressure to release Del’s third (and final) book Company of the Damned.

What a wonderful problem to have!

In related news, I’m working with a couple of new cover artists, so the look and feel of the books will be more closely aligned with themes of the books.  The process to publication has been a . . . let’s call it “interesting” learning curve.  There have been some really high highs (SoCal baby!) and some really low lows.

I may not be any smarter, but I’m certainly wiser than I was when I started this whole journey way, way, way back in 2013.

Thank you all for your continued support, and keep looking for more updates as plans become solid!

Who was your favorite character in the series? Tell me in the comments below!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Don't Touch That Dial!

Stay-tuned for an exciting announcement, arriving here tomorrow!

At LEAST this exciting.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Lookie, Lookie: A New Review for Tears of Heaven

They're right, you know!

Hey, I received a new review! Thank you to Jake Pelley of Dystopian Shuffle!  

I especially like the last line of his opening [emphasis added]:

This book covers two eras of human history from the modern times to the roman. Both are important to the main story.  Most of this book takes place in modern day Salt Lake City, Utah. When in modern time R.A. McCandless does a great job of making it feel like the times we live in. Then when it is in Roman times it feels accurate to the era. In the book Game of Thrones it goes over a lot of characters stories. After a while there are characters you love to read and others you power through to get back to your favorites. During the beginning in Tears of Heavens I enjoyed the Roman times over the main adventure in the modern time. Every jump back to the past was enjoyable and fun, but over time that changes. I have to hand it to the author on that transition it was well done.

If you’d like a free copy of Tears of Heaven to review on your website, blog, or family newsletter, leave a note in the comments below and we’ll make it happen!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Not Just Any Library: My Library

Is it secret?  Is it safe!?

Years ago, I read an Anthony Monday book by John Bellairs—I think it was The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn (excellent book, by the way). Bellairs had a line about Monday’s uncle who had an honest to goodness library, not just a room where someone put up a bookshelf.

That line may have cursed me.

When I learned that people could have their own library, I wanted one.

In our current house, we have a room designated as “the library”.  It is not an Anthony Monday-level library, but I have plans. 

I'm slowly taking my library back.

For years, it housed the majority of our boys’ Legos and Beyblades and other whatnots that I could step and curse in eighteen languages.

Needs more books.
This was always a stop-gap while the boys got older. It has some mediocre IKEA book shelves that mostly have books on them. We mostly kept their toys on the shelves that they could reach and some (a very few) of my books on the shelves that they couldn't reach. A few months ago, I had them go through all their toys and donate those they didn't play with. They were impressively brutal about it, and we ended up with three full trash boxes of toys and a trashbag of stuffed animals.

I recovered 1/3 of my shelving space, and quickly claimed them with books.

In the years to come, I will install two bookshelves that double as hidden doors—one to the bedroom and one to the bathroom. A faux river stone fireplace complete with outlets for a moderately sized flatscreen will appear. A magically hidden sound system—speakers built to look like books on the shelves—will be installed.  The remainder of my books will come out of storage and finally, finally, I’ll invest in overstuffed leather armchairs and ottomans.


How will you take over the world? Or maybe just how would you build your dream library?  Answer in the comments!