Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Morgan Hazelwood Author Spotlight

And you thought your teen's angst was hard to handle!

Morgan Hazelwood put me on her Author Spotlight today:

Readers, let’s welcome to my blog, RobRoy. Born under a wandering star that eventually led him to life as a writer both professionally and creatively. He’s the author of the urban fantasy TEARS OF HEAVEN, winner of the 2014 Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Preditors & Editors Readers Poll, and a 2015 EPIC eBook finalist with HELL BECOMES HER and THE CLOCKWORK DETECTIVE (available 2019).  His shorts have appeared in IN SHAMBLES (with Kevin J. Anderson) NINE HEROES, and GEARS, GADGETS AND STEAM.

He’s agreed to visit and share with us today some dreams, some advice, and some reading recommendations.

What books are you reading right now? Tell me in the comments below.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Hell Becomes Her Re-Release and Excerpt

She doesn't even chew bubblegum.

Whoops!  I’m supposed to be updating this more than just once a month.


The year sorta got away from me there at the end.  I took a bit of vacation, then I got lazy, because vacation is WAY better than real life, then I got a little bit sick, then I got a bit better.

Anyhow, this week is the week for the re-release of Hell Becomes Her.

Here’s an excerpt:

The doors slid back exactly as they were supposed to, and Del pointed both her SIGs through the opening. She knew it was wrong. Two hands on one gun with a straight-thumbs hold was the correct way to give proper support to aim and shoot quickly and consistently. Hollywood liked to show action heroes shooting from the hip, or blasting away without aiming and taking down a room full of bad guys, whose best response was to fire impotently at the ceiling or comically into other bad guys. It was all so much useless eye candy. A gun in each hand gave support to neither and made it impossible to sight. She’d need independent use of each of her eyes, like a chameleon, to train the guns on different targets at the same time.

Del knew it was wrong, but it looked damned impressive from the receiving end.

“Hold your fire!” a voice commanded from outside the elevator. “Hold your fire!”

Del wasn’t certain if the order was for her, the two ranks of Ljosalfar soldiers in their body armor who surrounded the elevator, or both. Either way, holes weren’t being punched into her favorite skin and that was a good thing. She might still die, riddled with bullets and spitting blood, but not yet. Not yet.

She unwrapped and wrapped her fingers on her SIGs, and smiled.

“Hello boys,” Del said. “Who wants some?”

“Hold your fire!” Alfred Waru said again.

“Alfred, you cunning bastard,” Del purred. “Come on in and give me a hug. I’ve solved almost all your problems. There’s only one left.”

“I’d rather you put down your weapons,” Alfred replied. Del homed in on his voice from behind the second rank of soldiers, but couldn’t make him out through all the helmets. “We’ve locked the elevator. The doors won’t close, and the car won’t move. Let’s talk about this.”

“Talk about what?” Del said and laughed. “How you lied to your people?  How you betrayed and murdered your own?  How you’ve doomed them through your schemes and plots?”

More to follow!

Friday, December 28, 2018

For Want of a Wall—Trump Shutdown Celebrates One Week

I watched the following, short video on why Trump supporters continue to support Trump.  It’s not wrong, but it’s not right either.  Go ahead:

The video isn't wrong, but it isn't right either. There were a lot of reasons why Trump won. 

As I told my mother when she asked, it was a perfect storm, and there isn't just one reason. Boiling it down to “Trump supporters have the mind-set of five year-olds” is overly simplistic. Some do. Some don't. Some were reasonable people, both conservatives and moderates, who were tired of the eight years of Obama/liberalism, and swung the pendulum back. There were those who would have voted for anyone who wasn't Hilary, some of those were hardcore liberals who felt betrayed by the party—and there's some truth in that. Then there are those who liked the way Trump provided simple/simplistic solutions to complex problems and who placed blame for various issues on others. Compared with other candidates, who provided reasonable and well thought out policies, this made for a distinct choice.

And, of course, there are those who liked his calls and dog whistles for racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia.

Simple memes beat lengthy explanations (like this one) every time.

Beating Trump isn't a matter of a single or simple solution either. There isn't one strategy that is going to see him lose in 2020. It will be a complicated dance of strong policy, charismatic personality, growing popularity couple with the tired, failed Trump policies, and the increase pain he's placed on the people he claimed to represent. Except for the hate groups, who will continue to love him as one of their own, we're seeing people turn away already. This shut down is just another in a long line of straws (harmful tariffs, alienating allies, illegal actions, etc.) that have been breaking the collective populace's back.

It's not a matter of if, but when . . . he said with hope.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Raindrops on Roses—Hell Becomes Her Cover Reveal

So here it is, the cover reveal for HELL BECOMES HER!

The release date for the book is Friday, January 18th.  Unlike some other releases, I see no reason this one shouldn’t hit as scheduled.

*knocks on wood, touches iron, throws salt, eats bacon*

After that, I have some decisions to make.  COMPANY OF THE DAMNED has been finished for some time. It still needs a review, but it’s finished.  SINS OF THE THRONE (the Jane Ivey adventure) is not finished.  Chronologically, it exists between the events of HELL BECOMES HER and COMPANY OF THE DAMNED. It’s a standalone, in that it centers not on Del, but on Jane.

In fact, Del is at best a supporting character.

So, the question is: would you rather read the final book about Del—COMPANY OF THE DAMNED.  Or would you rather read the Jane book, SINS OF THE THRONE?  Tell me in the comments below.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Mrs. Y's Review

You think you want to meet an angel . . .
. . . but you really don't.

Tears of Heaven received a lovely review from blogger Mrs. Y.  I’ve actually played Diablo, but the first one, and nothing really since.  I had no idea there were Nephilim in the series . . . which is really cool!

For anyone paying attention to my joys and loves, I love sea-related stories, and I really enjoy warrior stories. Something about fighting has me thinking of tales like these with fondness. If anything, a decent warrior story or even a sea fighting story is the comfort food of my book collection. I was tickled pink to see a story that mixed a decent sea fare with fighting in a modern sense. Time to get yourself some iron guys, and I don’t mean vitamins, I mean metal. We are going to dive off the stern for a review of “Tears of Heaven” By R.A McCandless.

R.A. McCandless for those who do not know is on Twitter and I follow him. I was happy to know he followed me back, and one lovely day he asked me to review his book and was very kind, and he sent me a free copy of it to read. He did say he wanted an honest review, and like all my reviews, this is one. It is a joy to provide my impressions of the books from soup to nuts. I also want to go on record to say this is a great book to start with reading his work.

I’ve been a big sick this past week.  What’s your favorite home remedy for colds?  Tell me in the comments below!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Important Dates for Hell Becomes Her

It's been a long road / Getting from there to here.

Let’s talk dates!  Tears of Heaven is now out, available in both ebook and paperback forms, so that’s done!  Woohoo!  It feels so good to have all of that taken care of.

Now, for Hell Becomes Her we’re on a roll.

Dates Announcements—Today! (that was clever)
Cover Reveal—Let’s say Tuesday, December 18th, does that work for everyone?
Book Release—Friday, January 18th

If anyone wants their book autographed, just leave me a message in the comments below.  You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Misadventures in Publishing Part 3—Final Red Flags

Actual cover submitted for my approval.

“Okay, first, as per the contract, I have already approved Charles’s final concept . . .”—Maya the Publisher

I’ve really struggled with writing this blog entry.  The first and second ones were almost cathartic.  All the drama that surrounded the cover is painful to remember.  The cover art was one thing, but it wasn’t the only thing.  As I’ve discussed in my previous two posts, there were a number of red flags.  All of this wasn’t chronological—a single line of A to B to C. Rather, it came down like an avalanche of runaway evil on the slopes of increasing frustration.

This is especially difficult in the wake of the release of Tears of Heaven with a publisher I can trust to work with me and for me, rather than directly against me. It’s hard to go back and revisit the interactions that turned a once hopeful relationship decidedly sour.

That said, the cover was where the relationship with Maya took one it’s last, fateful turns down a dark alley in a dark Eastern European city and ran smack into a gang of thugs cleverly discussing their differences over firearms and meth-fueled rage.

The cover art was not good. The details don’t matter anymore. What’s important on this particular topic is that I hadn’t taken a good, hard look at Maya’s other covers before signing with her.  That was a red flag that I missed entirely.

Do your homework.

"Pretty, but boring." is what Maya called these covers.
Traditionally published authors generally have little to no say in cover art.  That may seem unfair, but in reality writers know writing. They may or may not know much about cover art composition, layout, and . . . other . . . art words. Even if they do, it remains the publishers job to handle the marketing, and cover art is the epitome of marketing.

Again, do your homework.

Bad art is bad.

So here’s your take away:

Research, research, research: If a publisher isn’t putting out decent cover art for other writers, that’s a bad sign. Walk away. Covers don’t have to be awesome and award-winning, but they should at least be within the range of expectations for readers. Even boring is ok, so long as the artwork isn’t bad. At the very least, the cover should not be an obstacle that keeps a reader from opening the book.

The cover art was not the final issue for Maya and me.  It is, however, the place that I’m going to stop. Maya used a bad contract to abuse her relationship with me, and the end result was nearly two lost years of publishing, and a wholly evil experience.  The best, the absolute only good that came from this is that I learned, painfully, how to look for a decent publisher, and avoid the pitfalls of my earlier mistakes.

Just to reiterate the five key take-aways:

1 - A too-quick response is not a good sign.
2 - Have an attorney read over your contract
3 - Small issues of the story shouldn’t be big problems to a publisher.
4 - Communication, communication, communication.
5 - Artwork is important.

It’s OK to walk away. It’s ok to run.  If you see issues like these, nod, smile, and back-away from the deal as quickly as you can.  If you're already in, consult your contract and your attorney and figure out a way to end the relationship.

There are other publishers than these, gunslinger, and you deserve better.