Friday, March 15, 2019

Parent Projects - An Open Letter

I'd love for you to help. How about you watch TV?
Dear Miss First Grade Teacher:

Thank you so much for assigning my son an animal habitat diorama and five-minute presentation. Also, thank you for not giving him any further instruction on what the diorama should include, how he should go about building it, what his presentation should look like, or any other resources so that he can successful.

We greatly appreciate every first grade teacher who has ever sent home this kind of assignment.  I want to assure you that this was a ROUSING success.  As with past projects, my student was quickly and completely overwhelmed, having been in no way, shape or form prepared for how to build out a complicated set piece, or how to speak publicly to his class in any meaningful way.

You’ll be pleased to hear that, as with similar projects, my wife and I took on the bulk of the effort. I don’t know about you, but I certainly trust my first grader with scissors sharp enough to cut through the cardboard shoe box that you recommended, and the hot glue gun that we had to purchase as the only way to make the bits and pieces stick up. Regular white glue, or Scotch tape being wholly inadequate for the job.

In the future, it would be great if you’d outline for parents the inevitable meltdown that students are certain to share with their families when their project appears on the point of utter failure. After all, hours and hours laboring over such a tiny display that will be lovingly tossed into the garbage shortly after it is returned is exactly the kind of lesson our children need to learn.

One point, however. We would appreciate a little more honesty in future assignments of this nature. Instead of claiming that this effort is meant for the student, please indicate clearly that these projects are entirely the responsibility of the parents. Taking the effort completely out of the student’s hands and putting it where it will ultimately belong anyhow will save time and frustration for all involved.

Thank you again for this assignment. I enjoyed spending hours of my time after a long day of work, and in between extra-curricular activities to try to meet your deadline.

A Loving Parent

P.S. – I apologize for the diorama arriving broken. My student was unaware that he shouldn’t touch it—Lego Movie be damned!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Childhood Foods

For some reason, it seemed taller when I was little.

A friend of mine asked this question: “Those of you who moved away from your home regions, what was a food item you really miss from back home?”

Faux Mexican—In the late 70s and early 80s, the Mexican restaurants in Utah generally had to bland down the food for the residents. Ketchup is often considered a bit too spicy for Utahns.  I’m still shocked that my two oldest boys would rather pour salsa on their food than Heinz 57.

Casa Melinda was my favorite restaurant as they served "enchiladas": cheese in a flour tortilla covered with a mild red sauce. Apparently, the restaurant was run not by an Armenian 

For years, I thought that's what enchiladas actually were, until I went to school in New Mexico. I “moved away” from Utah in 1992 after graduating from Bountiful High School.  I’d lived in Nevada for three years, from 1988 to 1991, but I was and will always remain a Utahn.  I didn't even know corn tortillas were a thing, and I still don’t like them that much.

But at least now I know what real enchiladas are. My wife makes some killer green chili chicken enchiladas.

Still, to this day, I prefer a wet burrito to pretty much anything else on the menu.

What’s your favorite home-region food?  Tell me in the comments below!

Monday, March 11, 2019

Memories of Daylight Stupid Times Past

Everything is not awesome.

My family used to be informed about Daylight Stupid Time when we’d show up an hour early/late for church. I’d stare at the empty parking lot and wonder if everyone had finally given up on this wacky religion!

Alas, it was only a short reprieve. Sometimes, out of frustration with our earliness/tardiness, the government insistence on this eccentric time shift, or maybe life in general, we’d go to the store, pick up Danish pastry, and go home. There would probably be a John Wayne movie on, so the day wasn’t a complete waste.

This past weekend, I gave up my Saturday to take a single speech competitor to the State qualifying tournament. She’s an excellent student, and last year, with very little prep, took 7th overall. This year, she had even less prep, so in a way I hopeful that she wouldn’t break to the second day, and I could spend it lobbying against yet another hour lost to Daylight Stupid Time.

Alas, her skills as a speaker and mine as a coach won out, and she went to semi-finals on Sunday.


Unfortunately, that’s where our collective abilities ran out, and she didn’t get to the finals round with a shot at State. There’s still the National qualifying tournament, which we’ll now look toward, so all is not lost this year.

Sunday was still a trial, but not nearly as much as today, the first Monday of Daylight Stupid Time. I had to actually get up an hour early and try to navigate along dark roads with all the other people who were both tired and angry that they had to do the same. To misquote 2NU, Daylight Stupid Time creates a society whose prevailing philosophy is, “Why make small problems when you can create a nuclear holocaust?” and they maintain that philosophy while driving.

Well, I’m pounding down the caffeine now, trying to walk that thin line between awake and tasting colors.  Best of luck to all of you suffering through Daylight Stupid Time.

You are not alone.

What’s your strategy for overcoming Daylight Stupid Time?  Tell me in the comments below!

Monday, March 4, 2019

SciFi Mystery Romance Cover Reveal for @JennNixon

Killjoys meets Helix in Jenn Nixon’s next SciFi series coming this April!

Mari Yosoto has been keeping a dark and dangerous secret from everyone since her life-changing accident. No one would believe the truth anyway, her ex-fiancĂ© had seen to that. Instead of wallowing in misery, she stays busy, shuttling cargo to the Moon and back, enjoying the easy work and time alone. When an old EarthCorps acquaintance asks for her help finding a missing girl on Mars, Mari can’t say no, even if it means working with the ex’s former best friend.

Although Trevor Nash took the Mars job to help his former commanding officer, deep down he needed to see Mari again. After trying and failing to find out what happened to her, Trevor makes the best of an odd situation, hoping he can remind Mari of their budding friendship and finally get answers. When their rescue mission goes sideways and they find the not-so-missing girl, a centuries-old conspiracy theory emerges and the only thing more unfathomable is learning Mari’s secret.

Together with their newly formed ragtag team, Mari and Trevor team up and undertake a mission unlike anything either of them has faced before with life-altering and possibly deadly consequences.

Sneak Peak:

Chapter One

Beep. Mari’s heart thumped so hard her ribcage hurt.

Beep. Beep. She lifted her head, shielding her eyes from the bright lights above her head.

Beep, beep. Beep, beep. There was something wrong with her hand. It didn’t feel right.

A pair of voices echoed from behind her, muffled and indecipherable through the fogginess filling her mind. Half of her body felt numb and cold, the other covered in fiery pins and needles. When she cried out in agonizing pain, the pair of brown eyes that filled her vision seemed familiar.

The accident flashed in her head.

Breathing became impossible.

Beep, beep, beep.

“You’re okay, Mari,” the male voice said, making her heart race faster.

Beep, beep, beep, beep. She lifted her arm, stared at her hand and screamed. “What did you do to me?”

Can’t wait until April? Check out Jenn’s MIND series – you can get book one for FREE!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Invitation to Watch

Such a talented writer, shame about the face!

Who: You!
What: Writer Imperfect with Joshua Robertson, Bryan Tann, Susan Faw, and YOURS TRULY R.A. McCandless
When: February 11, 2019 at 8:00 PM EST / 5:00 PM PST

A laid back atmosphere, where four writers will hold a round table to discuss writing, the publishing industry, and answer any questions from YOU the audience on Twitch.

The live broadcast link is  You can watch it without a Twitch account, but if you want to ask questions, you’ll need to sign up. It’s quick, and most importantly, it’s free.

Alternatively, if you have Amazon Prime, you can subscribe to the show for free with Twitch Prime

1.) Make a Twitch Account. (takes two minutes)
2.) Link your Amazon Account. (takes two seconds)
3.) Subscribe to my Twitch at by clicking "Subscribe Free".

Do you have anything you’d like me to discuss or ask of the other writers? Let me know in the comments below!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Sunshine in My Pocket

It's dangerous out there. Take one of these steampunks.

The last two days have been pretty amazing.

Going back in time, Tears of Heaven released December 4, 2013—a little over five years ago.  When the manuscript was accepted by Wild Child Publishing, I was flying high.  I’d wasn’t quite 40, but I’d been a struggling author looking for a home for my story for years.  When I received the email offering to put the book under contract for publishing, my feet didn’t touch the ground for several days.

Since then, I’ve had some really great days and some really dark days, but nothing that really rose to the level of the first time my efforts as a writer were validated.

Until these past two days.

Yesterday, we revealed the cover for, The Clockwork Detective, the first book in my steampunk series: The Constable of Aqualinne. The cover we well received, and interest in the book made me downright giddy.

Still in love with this cover!
Today, Hell Becomes Her is available again in paperback.  Technology is great, until it isn’t, and there were some weird issues in getting Amazon to actually release the book for mass consumption.  But that’s over now.

Over the weekend, a good friend and long-time supporter/super-fan sent me a mystery gift, which turned out to be an audio reading of the first chapter of Hell Becomes Her.  It was amazing.  Not just for the time and effort that went into the recording, but hearing my own words read back in a voice like fresh-churned butter over warm bread was delicious.

And now I want some bread.

Also, one of my cover artists contacted me this morning and said there were new models available, and that one looked like it would work for Jane. She was right! That ends months and months of nail-chewing, not finding the right model for Jane’s cover.

It’s all feeling pretty good, and cumulatively, I’m floating around, walking on sunshine.

Up next, a cover reveal for Sins of the Throne (A Jane Ivey Adventure) and Company of the Damned the final chapter in the Flames of Perdition series.

Is there anything on this list that you want to know more about? Anything I forgot? Let me know in the comments below!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Clockwork Detective - COVER REVEAL

I honestly didn’t know we were doing the cover reveal so quickly, or I would have warned you all.  Instead, let’s call it s surprise.


THE CLOCKWORK DETECTIVE by R.A. McCandless is a page-turning steampunk novel coming soon. It will be available at all the usual online outlets. Stay tuned for more info!

Cover by M Joseph Murphy

Aubrey Hartman left the Imperial battlefields with a pocketful of medals, a fearsome reputation, and a clockwork leg.

The Imperium diverts her trip home to investigate the murder of a young druwyd in a strange town. She is ordered to not only find the killer but prevent a full-scale war with the dreaded Fae.

The arrival of a sinister Secret Policeman threatens to dig up Aubrey’s own secrets that could ruin her career. It soon becomes clear that Aubrey has powerful enemies with plans to stop her before she gets started. Determined to solve the mystery, Aubrey must dodge centaurs, local thugs and a monster of pure destruction.

What do you think of the cover?  Tell me in the comments below!