Monday, July 15, 2019

Still No Day Spa at Camp

There are still no pictures of me.

On the homestretch of last week's camping trip, the Scoutmaster turned to me and noted, “I gotta say, Rob, I’m really impressed with your camping ability.”

I don’t camp.  I made this clear to him when he asked me to come on the trip six months ago.

I know how to camp, but I don’t.

One of my first camping experiences was “gold mining” with my father in the Toiyobe National Forest. Gold mining, in the McCandless dictionary, roughly translates as “fixing equipment that may or may not be used in the process of actual mining.” We didn’t use a tent. Instead, we had a sheet of Visqueen that we laid over a rope tied between two trees. It was open on either end, and I remember no end of bugs that came into the shelter. The first night, we slept in a down pour, in the dark, in what was apparently a creek bed that flooded.

So . . . yeah.

Since then, I’ve camped as a scout with Troop 220. We were a non-LDS troop in Bountiful. Including summers at Camp Steiner, we had a “woodcutting” camp, where we literally cut eight-foot logs, loaded them into the back of a tractor-trailer and brought them back to be cut into firewood. We sold the firewood as a fundraiser for our “snowmobile camp”.

Snowmobile camp was in West Yellowstone Montana and we stayed in a hotel.

If there were merit badges for either of these camps, I never got mine.

I’ve also camped with some excellent friends, hiking into the High Unitas and East Fork of the Bear. I didn't hate the camping, but what I learned is that I was there for the friendship. Camping is not a thing I actually enjoy. It's course, and rough, and irritating.  I also learned that pop-up tents are best for car camping, and that a blow-up mattress is your friend. 

I will patently refuse to do any camping where these two items are impractical.

Size matters.
Thus, this past week was rendered only mostly inconvenient by the requisite camping. I forgot my iPad, where I’d downloaded several hours of movies and television to watch, but I did have my Kindle with three or four novels. I’m still not certain what to make of the lady who commented, “All this beautiful nature surrounding us, and you’re reading a digital book?”

I'm not clear why reading was ok, but doing so on a modern convenience that didn't cost any trees to sacrifice their lives was not.

Perhaps she forgot her blow up mattress.

Food was served in a mess hall type commissary, and while it was hit or miss, the saving grace was that I didn’t have to cook it AND I didn’t have to watch the boys attempt to cook it. Each morning, I went on a run, looping around the camp twice, for a nice 3.5 miler. I’d grab a shower—so-called by the camp staff—then sit in my chair, read, and chase the shade to try to stay cool. During this time, my son was off at his climbing merit badge class, which took up the whole morning. After lunch, he and I would figure out an extra merit badge to work on before his Chess class.

Yep, he has his Chess merit badge now.  That’s a thing!

I ended up with a lot of stories, most of them of the “shaking my head” variety, but that didn’t make the trip any less enjoyable. I adopted the attitude that this was not my monkeys and not my circus. So long as there weren’t bugs in my tent, and the air mattress stayed reasonably full, I was in good shape.

They're weren't.  It did. I was.

Camping trip successful.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Updates and a Brief Hiatus

Stay angry, my friends!

A quick rundown of a lot of things that are going on in the coming months.

First, I’m taking a vacation. Not a real vacation. My oldest son is going to Scout camp, and I’ve been asked to be a parent volunteer. I’ve camped before, and I’m not bad at it, but I definitely don’t like it.

My idea of roughing it is no day spa.

This means I’m out for a week. Starting Thursday, July 4th, you’ll likely still see tweets from me if you follow my twitter but they’re mostly auto-tweets I set up ahead of time for this vacation.

Yes, even the funny ones.

Next up is the release of COMPANY OF THE DAMNED. The final version is with the copy editor now, and we have a tentative completion date for this month. That means if all goes well, I can hand it to my publisher and have a tentative release date either late August or early September. That means you should probably buy TEARS OF HEAVEN and HELL BECOMES HER now so you can be all caught up!

Company of the Damned? Yes, I'm interested.
Once I have a tentative release date, all the fun stuff starts for that book. Stay tuned for the cover release—it is SPECTACULAR.

If you run out of things to read, there's always THE CLOCKWORK DETECTIVE.

Speaking of which, I'm working with a wonderful artist on a piece of art that we will also be turning into some sweet, sweet swag available in August. So fans of Aubrey, Kerrigan or Nessus, you'll have a chance to own a picture of them!

The Riverside library reading was a smashing success, so I’m definitely going to do more of that stuff. Right now, I’ve lined up to attend the Book Fiend Readers Fest in Connecticut. This will happen November 9th, and YEP, I'm flying out to the east coast thingy . . . provided I'm not detained by ICE agents.

As soon as Facebook sorts out all their issues, I’ll create an event with details on my author page which will give you updates and reminders and such.

So that leaves September pretty open, but I’m working with some marketing people to make things happen. Hopefully, by the time I’m back from my little vacation, I’ll have more things lined up to share with people.

I’m also taking requests for conventions, places to do readings, etc. I’m not picky and I’m not proud.

If you’re people who know people, tell me in the comments and we’ll make something happen!

Monday, July 1, 2019

Library Reading Wins and Lessons

Surrounded by books and readers!

Author readings are a fun thing. I’ve attended a few in my time, and they’re generally enjoyable. Some deviation is always bound to creep into the system, so I thought I’d share my recent experience in the hopes that if you attend one, or are invited to read at one, you can be a bit better prepared. This isn’t a comprehensive list, by all means, but these are the major learning points for me:

People Will Buy the Book(s)
Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who attended whether in person or online! I really appreciated the support and the comments were fantastic. I was floored by how many books we sold. Not just THE CLOCKWORK DETECTIVE, but for those at the library we offered a deal on TEARS OF HEAVEN and HELL BECOMES HER and sold copies of those too. Definitely bring your current release, but also have other releases that you’d like to share.

Lockdown the Library Early
There are a couple of points on this one. The where and when of the thing are important, and the earlier you know, the better, so you can announce and advertise. Also, some libraries are willing to manage the sales so that the author can focus on the reading. Originally, that was the case for me, but at the last minute, the library decided they couldn’t handle it. We had to scramble to get cash and electronic payment in place.

Have Your Streaming Services Ready
It's like he hears us, but doesn't.
A lot of support came in for attending the event from folk who would gladly have been in the audience. Distance prevented that. It wasn’t until a couple of days before that I realized Facebook is set up to stream quite easily. You can stream for up to 4 hours on a single event, which should easily cover the entire reading and Q&A. You can also stream on YouTube, but I wasn’t set up for that, so we missed an opportunity to tap another potential audience.

Have an external power source for your camera, phone, pad for the streaming. They’re not expensive. We used an old Anker external battery that I picked up about six years ago.

Also, a tripod is necessary. My wife’s arm gave out about half-way through, and when she tried to switch, the stream was cut. We got it back up and running, but a steady tripod would have solved all those issues.

Be Prepared to Take Questions
While I was certainly fired up to talk to those in attendance, the thing we overlooked was allowing online viewers to ask question and make comments. If we’d thought about it at all, we could have had a computer running, where the online folk could interact directly with me. This would have been a really great thing to offer, and we’ll definitely make it available next time.

Thank you again, so much, to everyone who attended, both in-person and online. Your support was felt throughout the entire event, and we had such a great time. We’ll definitely do this again as soon as possible and keep you posted on the details!

What suggestions do you have for future readings? Tell me in the comments below!

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Day Before and Yesterday

I'll take pretty much any excuse to get my shirt off!

Crohn’s is kinna a crappy disease to have. It causes inflammation/swelling in the digestive system, which causes bloating, cramping, and pain. At the point where the pain is a real problem you can’t take a narcotic, because they slow down your digestive system, which is your problem to begin with!

While I’m always in some level of pain, it’s usually minor enough that I’m used to it. I don’t really notice it unless someone—like my doctor or nurse—asks about it. It’s just part of the daily grind.

Then, there are days like yesterday.

To be more specific, Wednesday evening through Thursday morning.

When I finally had some relief, my stomach felt like a used punching bag. Not the kind that you can pick up on Cragistlist either.

Broken, bruised inside and out, and in no condition to be of use to anyone.

It’s not the worst pain event I’ve suffered through, but it certainly wasn’t something I couldn’t shrug off. It was one of the times I had to seriously consider going to the E.R.

I’m never wholly sure what the trigger might be. Stress, to be certain. Sometimes foods don’t agree with me.

Either way, it’s not a fun time.

But I’m still here. Yep, I’m still here.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Help Me! - Dragon Awards

Sure, it's pretty enough. But can it fight!?

While awards are both an ego-stroke and ultimately meaningless, they’re still a thing. For smaller writers and publishers, they are an invaluable way to get the word out to potential readers and reviewers. There’s nothing like winning an award to make folk sit up and take notice in an otherwise obscure book.

One of the major awards out there, the Dragon Awards, is completely reader-nominated. It's also a really groovy-looking awards!

This means it requires quite a groundswell of votes just to get onto the ballot, but that's wholly doable with YOUR HELP!

Here’s where you come in. If you liked THE CLOCKWORK DETECTIVE and would like to see more of this kind of writing, please go to the DragonCon Awards nomination form, and nominate me.  It’s so simple, a caveman could do it, but since there aren’t any cavemen or women anymore (at least that the government wants you to know about) it’s up to modern humans to do this work.

It will only take you a few seconds and some key clicks, but it will mean the world to me:

The Clockwork Detective by R.A. McCandless

That’s all the more information that’s needs.

Thank you!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A Short, Short Time Ago

It's like all they do is argue!

Perhaps the world is becoming a better place after all. I mean, not immediately an order of magnitude better, but baby-steps toward no longer pulling the overly-patient dog’s ear and gnawing.

Two recent events have given me a new hope.

The First
Yesterday morning at the gas station, half the pumps were wrapped with yellow “Caution” tape and “Out of Service” boots were on the pump handles. This forced me to have to pull forward and then back into the stall to reach a pump. As I was doing so, another truck pulled into the station, and not immediately aware of the situation began to pull in behind me, blocking me from my pump.

I’ll admit, I said a swear.

Several, in fact.

Imagine all the people . . . 
Then, miracle of miracles, the driver realized what he’d done, and started to back out. Even more startling was that the truck was pulling a trailer. This made backing out a bit more problematic, but the driver did it.

He did the right thing.

I walked over and shook his hand.

The Second
Today, while I was running on my lunch, I saw an older couple, perhaps late 80s or early 90s. They’d clearly gone for a walk. The woman was sitting on the ground and her husband was standing over her, holding her cane. As I ran toward them, another couple, perhaps in their 60s, pulled over, got out and went to the woman. I was close enough now, I slowed to a walk, and it was clear that the elderly couple didn’t speak very good English. The husband was nodding and smiling, but he was clearly distressed. The wife seemed confused and didn’t want to put anyone out. The second couple who had arrived before me asked if she needed help getting up, and the husband nodded vigorously, while his wife tried to wave us away.

I felt like a third wheel until the “younger” couple struggled to lift the wife up off the ground. She was unsteady at best and causing them some trouble. I reached down and offered my arms. The woman looked up at me, confused for a moment, but I smiled—which is a thing I do a lot more now since I’ve had my teeth straightened—and she warmed right up.

“Thank you,” she said. “Thank you.”

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Cover Reveal for Daniel Peyton's REMNANT

Pretty groovy cover reveal from Daniel Peyton:

The year is 2522. Anna is a Remnant—a secret Christian in a world that has banned any form of religion.

She is also an astro-geologist working with her Robot, named Z, for the Planetary Science Commission.

The PSC has worked for 200 years to find alien life on another planet, and finally, after two centuries, a primitive lifeform has been discovered. Faced with the reality of evolved primitives on a forested moon, Anna begins to question all she has ever believed.

Anna and Z travel to the newly-discovered moon in search of answers, but a terrible accident leaves them stranded. Faced with dangerous natives and unfamiliar surroundings, Anna and Z stumble upon a conspiracy that has universal implications.

Will Anna discover the truth about the moon and its inhabitants?

About the Author

Daniel enjoys writers' conventions as well as genre conventions. Connecting with avid readers is a
joy that he never passes up. He has been invited multiple times to speak at local schools about writing and his work. He has been a featured author for several radio and blogtalk programs, and is a returning guest and sometime substitute co-host for the Brian and Sherri radio program, where he helps interview other authors. Outside of writing and promoting his work, Daniel enjoys reading, dancing, music, drawing, cooking, and embroidery. He is a long time member of the Embroiderers Guild of America where he has taught classes in stitching. He plays four different instruments and has sung with the Oklahoma State Universities Presidents Masterworks. He has years of stage work behind him in tap, jazz, and ballet as well as Okinawan traditional and modern dance and music. Each week you can find him teaching classes at his church in Sunday school as well as the Life Development Institute of First Baptist Church of Morristown, Tennessee.