Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Nanny Hunting

Originally, we thought we had a nanny all lined up.  

But it didn’t work out.  

We’re off and running on a mad search for a nanny.  It’s a unique experience, because this is a full-time position where the focus is on my three boys.  Their care and development is of the utmost importance, and so if I can’t be there, I want my surrogate to be the next best thing (or better).


Plays games, all sorts!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fingers Crossed

I pushed the button.  I kept making last minute changes, but then I just decided, as Orion Pact once said, “Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction.”  Of course, he's a completely made up character, so what does he know?

Still, “Tears of Heaven” has been submitted and received.  It is now with the acquisitions editor. 

Six to eight weeks is the expected response time.  Here’s hoping it’s something good.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

From the Holy Book of Armaments


When thou writest a POINT OF VIEW, thou shalt NOT change the POV in the middle of the scene.  If thou dost, thou shalt have a VERY GOOD reason for doing so, yea and verily the reason must be JUST and the use of the POV shift must be RARE.  Two shalt be the limit of thy POV shifts, and the number of the shifts shalt be two.  Three shalt thou not shift the POV.  Four is right out.

Where Are You?

Playing hide-and-go-seek with my three year-old, Tristan who was “hiding”:

Me: Is there anyone in the closet?
Tristan: [inside the closet] No. [giggles]
Me: Found you!
Tristan: Aww!  Again, again!


Three is awesome.

Monday, May 20, 2013

One of Those


I couldn’t help bouncing as we got snacks for Star Trek: Into Darkness.  Yeah, yeah, fan bias abounds.  I get it.  But it’s science fiction, and it’s well-crafted and it’s action/adventure, and it’s set in the Trek universe (or near enough) that I’m a willing and excited consumer.

The snack bar girl looked at me funny after I did the bounce, and I explained, “We’re seeing Star Trek.”

“Oh!” she said, and I thought I had a kindred spirit until she followed with, “You’re one of those . . . Trekkies . . . or whatever they’re called.”

Or, ya know, I’m a customer being over-charged for popcorn and sugar water.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Color Me Excited - Riddick is Back!


Back in 2000, I watched a simple no-frills, nearly no-name movie called “Pitch Black”.  In the theater, no less!  The plot was paper-thin science fiction through a horror filter.  Apathetic alien creatures filled in for the masked serial killers, taking down our disparate and desperate crew of survivors, including one criminal sociopath, Riddick.  It was simple, elegant, the dialogue was above par and had a measure of wit, there were some decent twists, and a theme, yes, an actual THEME, of redemption that ran through the film right to its bittersweet ending.

In short, I loved it.

“Pitch Black” was very successful.

The obligatory sequel that followed, “The Chronicles of Riddick” was not so much.  It suffered from a bloated budget that allowed the imaginations to run beyond wild, and while the special effects were far-and-away better than “Pitch Black”, it seemed that the focus of the character had been lost by too much ret-conning, and a more grandiose Riddick-saves-the-universe plot.

Now, enter “Riddick”.  The budget, necessarily, has been slashed.  The dual conflict of internal group dynamics meeting an external alien menace might be dipping back into the well, but who cares.  The simplicity of plot was what appealed, and the initial budget investment necessitated focus on characters rather than whiz-bang production values.

Plus, Katee Sackhoff, back in scifi where she belongs!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Editing Is Hard

I second-guess my writing all the time.  What if I change the opening to an explosion?  Or a kiss?  Or a big fight that ends with an explosive kiss!?

Argghh!!

It would be nice to already have an editor, someone who was required by contract to give me a soothing cup of hot, herbal CALM DOWN AND WRITE.

I just need to keep on and trust in my writing.

I told the story this way for a reason.

That should probably be my chant.

Chant of Doom?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Vir Bonus Dicendi Peritus


Cato the Elder, in giving advice to his son, Marcus, stated that persuasion was “a good man speaking well”.  That being the case, I have some very good students who spoke extremely well this past weekend.  There should be an article up at the Press Enterprise in the next week or two (which I’ll clip and post).  Mostly it will show that my speech/debate students performed to the highest standards.

I can’t take much credit.  I have quality material to work with.  It’s been a good year!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Litany for Bacon



I must not fear Bacon. Bacon is the mind-feeder. Bacon is the little-life that brings total obliteration to hunger. I will face my Bacon. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the Bacon has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain, satisfied.

More Training

I don't so much run, as beat the ground into submission.

Last weekend, I ran the 5K portion of the Tin Man Triathlon (since they give me the option, I opt out of the swim and the bike), and ended up posting a less-than-stellar time: 24:51.  In previous years, I've been pushing a baby stroller (with various weights of children) and still managing a decent 25 minute time.

You know what that means?  I need to do more training.

I'm hard at it these past two weeks, and looking forward to my next race, City of Fontana's Run Like the Wind.  Even without extra effort, I should still manage a 2-minute better time (it's a straight course, slightly downhill the entire way).  But, I'd really like for that time to be more like 3-4 minutes better.

Here's running!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Just That Strong


Joss Whedon, a personal hero of mine and writer/producer/director of so many wonderful titles and characters was once asked in an interview, “Why do you write strong women characters?”

I love this question.  It says so much that is right (and wrong) with our society.  Whedon’s answer is now bordering on the culturally axiomatic.  It is so well known (at least in my circles) that it can be thrown out as casually as “sword of Damocles” or “Pyrrhic victory” and actually be used correctly.

Whedon's finalresolution is: “Because you’re still asking me the question.”

I’ve been writing (hopefully) strong female characters for a couple of decades now.  I didn’t set out to do so.  There was no conscious effort to make my work specifically male or female.  My very first, very immature story was just about my group of friends.  Because I was, have been and always will be interested in heroic fantasy, it was set in a heroic fantasy setting.  Everyone carried swords, everyone was heroic with their swords, and that was essentially that.  It was a story meant for my friends, and I thought highly of all of them, regardless of their gender.

That was really all there was to it.

One of my favorite characters in that story (and perhaps this was because she was one of my favorite people in high school) was an average girl who carried an extremely above-average sword.  There was nothing Freudian in this.  I just liked the joke.  Initially, in my un-realistic, fantasy way, she was just that strong.  The sword/girl had no specific magic power making such an unwieldy weapon wieldy.

She was just that strong.

That character stuck with me, and as I met other, strong women in my life, and honored them (if you can call it that) with characters in my writing, I found more and more that I was telling their story (the female characters, not the real-life women).  So much so that I wrote whole universes specifically for these characters, not to the exclusion of male characters, but simply with the traditional genre roles leveled out.

So, while I prefer Whedon’s response very much, agree with it, and wish I could have said it myself, my answer to the question is somewhat different.

Why do I write strong women characters?  Because women are strong.  They are just that strong.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Editing today.

When you change an entire book from third-person limited to first-person, you can leave a lot of artifacts in tense and voice.  

Fortunately, I haven’t re-read this story for some time.  Some of it actually seems new.  (Magic writer fairies, perhaps?) 

I hope she survives and gets the boy!

Monday, May 6, 2013

With Gratitude

That was a great adventure.




Dear Mr. Jordan (and Mr. Sanderson) –

Thank you.

Thank you very much.

I will disdain any criticisms at this time.  I’m certain there is more than plenty of that going around and around and around the interwebs even now.  Like a record, baby.

I just want to offer my salute to a story well told and a job well done.

I read “The Eye of the World” in 1990 when a friend’s copy caught my attention.  I was very interested in fantasy novels (the thicker the better), and this appeared to be the thickest with Darrell Sweet’s excellent cover and interior art.  At the time, I had no idea who Darrell Sweet was, but his artwork did exactly what it should do, and pulled me right into the book.  Those two things alone brought me onto a journey that, rise and fall (and rise again) lasted until this year with the publication of A Memory of Light.

Fourteen books (plus companion pieces and such) over 23 years and here we are.  The Wheel of Time series rivals Tolkien in its scale and scope, and puts most other fantasy genre authors to shame by sheer magnitude alone.  I could go on and on about the stats, the capacity, the twists and turns, but that’s not the point.

I’m just grateful to have read the full story.  To have seen the Dragon Reborn, and the Dark One defeated (that’s hardly a spoiler).  Surely, those things were never in question (the Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills), but it’s the journey that matters, even if it’s a journey through a Waygate or Tel'aran'rhiod.  It’s the getting there that’s half the fun.

So thank you Mr. Jordan, for opening the gate and front door of your world and letting us all in to see what you had done to decorate the place.  Thank you for introducing us to your friends, your family, the good the bad and the misunderstood.  Thank you for letting us pick through all the rooms, pinch the draperies, and comment on the wallpaper.  You knew we would stomp through the house, dragging mud, and sneering at your choice of color for the carpet, and yet you smiled, set an extra place at the table, and let the conversation go exactly the way you knew it would.

Sincerely,

RobRoy McCandless

Friday, May 3, 2013

Personal Ad

A brief exercise to keep my sanity:


When my wife finally comes to her senses and decides to leave me, I’ve decided, like the good Assistant Boy Scout Master that I am, to be prepared.  I’ve started putting together my personal ad.  Since you’ve all been so helpful with my writing in the past, I thought I would post my draft here for your opinions.

Single-male kicked to the curb for obvious reasons seeking like-minded girl with perky trust fund.  Someone broken that I can pretend to fix, but will more likely suck my will to live while simultaneously draining my bank account.  Head games are a must.  Drama is a part of life.  Just look at the Greeks, the Romans, that Shakespeare fellow and all those great Bellisario television shows.  Drama, drama, drama.  I would not like to be “just friends” first and “see where it goes”.  Leap before you look, go off half-cocked and always, always, always take the tiger by the tail.  Players, scammers, gold-diggers, head-gamers, and of course anyone from the rude, crude, trailer-trash-talking demographics are urged to apply.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Tears of Heaven - Final Draft

The final draft (author's draft at least) of "Tears of Heaven" is finally complete.  It was a brutal slog, hours and hours on the train to and from work, but it's done.

Now, the hard part.  Editing.  Publishing.  Agenting.

I know "agenting" isn't a word, but it's definitely a thing.

Well, here's goes nothing!