Thursday, July 30, 2015

Molly Dean: The Star Catcher

Thank you for hosting me at the ARe Café. I am honored and excited at the opportunity to share my book The Star Catcher.

I grew up for the most part in my grandmother’s house on a tree-shaded street in an older part of Atlanta. Reading and telling stories were important parts of my life. My grandfather loved to tell me evening tales, many about bears–and my mother, an English teacher, inspired me with her love of reading. Soon I felt compelled to create my own tales!

The Star Catcher is my second novel. This is about a handicapped boy, Hawke Reed, who travels via dreams to another world and accomplishes heroic quests. Along the way he encounters a wizard, a fire-wielding servant girl, and a savvy one-eyed crow. He also falls in love with a mermaid. The setting, a mysterious, mist-covered country with rocky coasts, is inspired by some of my early travels to Cornwall, England.


How do the events taking place in ‘the other world’ impact Hawke’s struggle to regain his ability to walk after a devastating car accident? Might these happenings have more of a connection to Hawke’s real existence than he knows?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Adventures in Potty Training

My three year old, and thankfully my last child, has entered the potty training stage.  Mostly, this has been something of a relatively painless process.  Sure, there’s a lot of “naked boy” running around the house, but the accidents have been manageable and generally close to the bathroom.

He’s been the easiest to potty train in that regard.

Of course, no child would be complete without something.


There’s always something.  Here's a few of our somethings:

Yes, that's his toilet seat around his head.
He only started crying when he
couldn't figure out how to get down.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Cover Reveal - Teaser

In speaking with my friend Jeff (and being quite giddy, even through eight layers of being sick) there’s something about receiving the cover for your book that really solidifies the intangible into the concrete.

Not the cover you deserve, but the one you need right now.


This isn’t what you want to see, but we’re getting close.  So very close!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cover Reveal Coming Soon

I'll take the curtain, Monty!
Ladies and gentlemen, the long wait is almost over.  I just saw the first draft of the cover for Hell Becomes Her and I have to say it is gorgeous.  It’s exactly what I asked for.

It’s not finalized yet.  There are a few minor points to cover still, but I should be able to show you a small teaser in the next day, and the full cover, in glorious Technicolor, very, very soon.


Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Lucky's Promise

After years of searching for her mother’s killer, Felicia “Lucky” Fascino is finally on the right track. With the help of her family, and on-again off-again boyfriend, Kenji Zinn, Lucky is getting closer to fulfilling the unspoken promise she made to her adoptive father.

As the group continues to dig deep into the assassin’s network, and search for the elusive Quimby, ties to the past come back full circle, endangering everyone Lucky loves and cares for. It’s only a matter of time before their secret is uncovered.

Excerpt:

Felicia swung her chair in his direction and said: “Are you going to tell me what’s wrong?”
“No.”
“Why not?” she said, bordering on a screech.
“It is the same conversation. ‘You can trust me, Felicia.’ ‘You can talk to me, Felicia.’ ‘I’m here for you, Felicia.’”
“You’re still mad because I didn’t want to talk about my crappy ass life while we were on vacation?” He lifted an eyebrow to make a statement, and her whole face flushed. “We were on vacation!”
“With no distractions. With no interference. Just you and I…and still you refused me every time I tried.”
“Fine. What do you want to know?” Kenji stared at her as she rose from the chair and hitched her fists on her hips. Her head jerked to the right, both eyebrows lifted on her forehead. “Well?”
“Humph,” he said, tossing the remote onto the bed and stalking into the living room across the hall. She wouldn’t answer his question, so he didn’t even bother asking. He went to the wet bar in the far corner. Searching through the miniature refrigerator, Kenji grumbled, finding nothing but wine.
“Phen and I are going to meet after breakfast and talk about the job.”
He glanced back. Felicia stood in the doorway, her hands in front of her body, fingers twisted together like a frightened child. A complete turnaround, again. It wasn’t an act; everything about her said she was scared. Why? Couldn’t she confide in him by now? His frustration threatened to swell again, and he was backing her into a corner. If he pushed, they would fight, and he didn’t want that. Not right now. Kenji sat down in the leather love seat and rubbed his temple.
She didn’t move from her position, but her heavy sigh filled the room. “It’s my last one before he puts me up as the new safety. I’m going to need some pointers….”
He bobbed his head but didn’t look up.
“Is it more than…me not talking?” she squeaked.
Kenji came close to spilling everything. Forcing her to face the feeling he had for her was unfair. Making her talk when she wasn’t ready seemed cruel. Confessing his fear for her safety would make him appear overprotective and controlling. The fury he felt, he didn’t completely comprehend himself. Discussing the situation with Taro was the only thing he could mention and remain truthful.
“I am still aggravated with myself.”
“I told you outside the restaurant it didn’t matter anymore. It’s over and done. I trust you, and if you trust your brother…it’s cool, babe.” Her disposition continued to change, now that he no longer pressed her.
“It will never happen again,” he said, adding a grumble.
“I know.” She moved into the living room and sat down on the coffee table between the two sofas. Felicia reached out, took his hand. He held back the rest of the clutter racing through his head. She bent her head down to look him in the eyes. “We okay?”
“Yes, beleza, we are.”

Lucky's Promise            
All Romance eBooks: http://bit.ly/LuckysPromiseARe
Kobo: http://bit.ly/LuckysPromiseKobo

Monday, July 20, 2015

Rise and Fall and Fall and Rise

Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no
basis for a system of government!
Life is chaotic at best, and no time in our history shows this better than the Middle Ages of Europe.  Just look at how long those “Dark” times lasted (yes, Jamie, that’s aimed at you).  From the 5th Century through the 15th Century, Europe faced some rather tumultuous times.  It was born in calamity with the fall of the Western Roman Empire, and featured such fun times as rapid depopulation, impressive wars and political intrigue, mass immigration, empires rising and falling, religious strife and invasion on a scale little seen ever again.

If you didn’t know better, you’d think I was talking about the modern age.

Thus, is it any wonder the people tried to create, as we always do, order from the chaos?  The noble class served as more than simple tyrants of privilege—they also provided a bar by which others, peasants and merchants, could strive to attain.  Writers tend to think of nobles and noble families as stretching back from a nearly infinite start point, but that’s really only a recent construction.  Noble families, although they had it easier than everyone else, still didn’t have it that easy.  They rose, fell and sometimes rose again and often fell again.

Anne Boleyn defined "losing your head over him"
While it may seem from fiction, television, and movies that if you born a peasant you died a peasant, it was actually possible of peasant families to rise over the generations to become a noble house.  It only took a little success from one generation to lift a family up and start the climb to nobility.  Have a look at the rise and fall of the Boleyn family (of Anne Boleyn fame).  Go back two generations, from Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, 1st Earl of Ormond and member of the Most Noble Order of the Garter and the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, to his grandfather, Geoffrey Boleyn, and you find nothing better than a yeoman (an attendant in a noble house).  Grand-dad Boleyn’s son would become Sir Geoffrey Boleyn, but first he was an apprentice hatter (yes, a guy who makes hats) before he became wealthy and the head of the Mercers (a trade organization).

Wealth often buys power and prestige which can be translated into titles of nobility.  Noble
Blackadder needs no funny caption.
families, on the other hand, walked, ran, tripped and fell with some regularity.  As easy (relatively speaking) for a family to rise by wealth, it only takes one misstep (or push) to tumble brutally.  The Boleyn family remains a perfect example of this, as poor Anne, wife to Henry VIII, produces Elizabeth, is accused of various treasonous acts, and is tried and executed.  Although her daughter will become one of the most notable and powerful women in English history, the family itself pretty much gasped its last when Anne was beheaded.  Thomas Boleyn leaves court in disgrace.

Not all noble houses meet with such tragic, spectacular or deliberate ends.  Some simply fade back into the merchant or peasant class.  A lack of fertility, bad investments, or simple squandering of wealth could all lead a once powerful and rich family to end up literally dirt poor.  This might take a few generations, but the shuffle of power can easily leave nobles in the discard pile while the class system rolls merrily on.

It is a wonderful trope in fiction that once a noble/peasant, always a noble/peasant, and there is nothing so great as a noble or so low as peasant and never the two shall meet.  Movies like A Knight’s Tale and Robin Hood make much of the nobility over their lessers.  The truth is that while it wasn’t common for a peasant to leap-frog into the nobility or vice-versa, over a generation or three a family could easily rise (or fall) and often did.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Us, the Living

The Vornado makes repopulation a SNAP!
A friend posited the following question:

In the event of massive population loss...in my case nearly 5.5 billion dead from alien attack...how do you approach the topic of mandatory re-population without tyrannical oppression? Can it be done WITHOUT tyrannical oppression? At the very least, would abortions become illegal...not from a moral standpoint but simply from a survival of the species point of view?

Yeah, an interesting question to consider.  This came up during the “Battlestar Galactica” reboot run, where humanity was reduced from billions to just a couple tens of thousand (varying around 50,298 down to 39,406).  The forum I was a part of at the time looked at how many individuals would be required to actually keep the species going.  You need a genetic pool of particular size to make certain your population doesn’t suffer an unforeseen, ill-effects from such close genetic family lines—haplotypes.  This site claims you can do it with just 160 humans BUT that’s stated as the bare minimum needed for the best result taking into account the potential genetic haplotypes.

Obviously, a larger genetic pool is better.

Hugh Howey approached the question in his Wool series from the opposite end of the spectrum, where reproduction had to be carefully controlled to avoid over-population.  This was done through automatic birth control implants in women, laws against pregnancy and even sex outside of an approved union.  Clearly, the Silo folk believed that no form of birth control was 100% effective, and covered all their bases.

Death by exile was the only punishment.

We're gonna need a bigger genetic pool.
With a large enough population, as posited in the question, you wouldn’t need to worry about mandatory pregnancy.  Natural inclination among a billion people or so will take care of repopulation all on its own.  Under the stress of annihilation, however, and to avoid tyranny/dictatorship (if such a thing is possible), a program should be multi-faceted for the greatest success.  Remove/diminish the concept of the individual’s wants/needs in favor of survival of the group/species as a whole.  Us v. Them will certainly assist this, although long term repercussions of all out xenophobia may make any potential peace tricky at best.  Peer pressure can be an impressively strong motivator, so grass-roots campaigns with key citizens expressing the need to reproduce are necessary.  Utilize other channels, such as religion (God says you should have babies) and nationalism/patriotism (your country/species NEEDS you to have babies).  Provide incentives—pregnant couples get special considerations, privileges, etc., reduced work load or even vacation.  On the other end, establish “punishments” for not having children, or at least trying—you HAVE to join the military and fight, or contribute in some other way directly to the military, increased work load, etc.

Not exactly what Socrates had in mind.
At the very least, reproductive pairings would be strongly encouraged, bordering on required.  This could run the spectrum from propaganda to get married and have children, all the way to government-mandated partnerships, and/or genetic profiling to find the most viable and desirable offspring.  It can get pretty crazy from that point onward, depending on the technological sophistication of the culture—see Heinlein’s excellent “Beyond This Horizon” for more on that potential.  Alternately, read Plato's Republic which goes into some interesting detail on exactly how reproduction, child-rearing and government should all work together for the best benefit of the state.

I’m sure there are more that I haven’t thought about, but under the threat of full destruction by an outside force, I can’t really see the cause going any other way than “total war” under a military leader.  If we refer back to “Battlestar Galactica” then we might see a military supported by a civilian council, but ultimately such a consideration as population maintenance and increase would be a matter of military policy.  This full question was only scratched on “Battlestar Galactica” and it’s something that I would have liked them to have done more than pay passing lip service too, but that’s an old issue for a show that had an excellent run.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

FREE One Day Only: The Heartbeat Thief by AJ Krafton

Spec fic author Ash Krafton released her debut New Adult novel in June…a Victorian dark fantasy True to its word, "The Heartbeat Thief" is part Jane Austen, part Edgar Allen Poe. The author revives the best of the style of writing found in the classics: the introspect of characters, lovely allusions comparing characters to nature and life, beautiful alliteration and prose. Mixed with this is a deep foreboding of death, a macabre sensation that follows Senza throughout the story…" Ronesa Aveela, Author of the Mystical Emona series
called THE HEARTBEAT THIEF by AJ Krafton. It's already getting great reviews and has hit the bestseller lists is several countries."

GRAB IT NOW ON AMAZON Haunted by a crushing fear of death, a young Victorian woman discovers the secret of eternal youth-- she must surrender her life to attain it, and steal heartbeats to keep it.

"An interesting touch was the way the author used passages from Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death to set the stage for each section of the book, helping to frame the context of the next phase of Senza’s journey." John Green NCGBT "Darkwriter"

THE HEARTBEAT THIEF is FREE TODAY Wednesday July 15, 2015. "I felt personally connected with some of the characters in the story. The details flowed off the page so beautifully." Alizabeth, Amazon Reviewer Get your free copy and see why readers are raving about it. You don't want to miss out on this fantastic read! And neither would your friends. Help them find out about this unbeatable deal by sharing this along. You can Click here to Tweet a message:
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To learn more about Krafton visit her web site.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Michael Bolton Rocks!

If you haven’t seen this yet (and it’s been out for a bit) you need to check it out.


Be advised, some language, but hi-freaking-larious!


Enjoy!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Detroit Finally Gives in to the Inevitable

Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me!
I just came across this news article:

DETROIT, MI (WNEM) - The Satanic Temple Detroit Chapter is getting ready to unveil a controversial sculpture in Detroit.

A bronze Baphomet monument will be revealed on Saturday, July 25 at Berts Warehouse Entertainment.

The one ton, 9-foot tall monument reportedly pays homage to Satan.

The Satanic Temple said the statue is “intended to complement and contrast the Ten Commandments monument that already resides on Oklahoma State Capitol grounds.”

The Temple also said the event will “serve as a call-to-arms” to kick off a fight “in the name of individual rights to exercise against self-serving theocrats.”

A Facebook site for the event asks participants to dress to impress the Devil and said photography is prohibited.


You can go about your business.  Nothing to see here.  Move along, move along.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Which One of You?

It's an honor just to be nominated . . .
Alright, I’d like to know who is responsible for this:

Hello RA McCandless,

I am contacting you on behalf of the IBD Awards. We had recently received a nomination for your book, Tears of Heaven and have selected it as the Indie Book of the Day Award winner for 7th of July, 2015.

As a result, your book is currently featured on our homepage for the entire day today until 8-10 am US CDT the next day.

The book has also been added to our winners database (http://indiebookoftheday.com/past-winners/) and a 'for life' feature post has been created, which can be viewed here:

http://indiebookoftheday.com/tears-of-heaven-by-ra-mccandless/

I am also attaching the winning certificate & your IBD Badge along with this email.

You are welcome to share the news, use the winning badge, the certificate, etc. in any way possible to help improve your books visibility.

On behalf of the entire IBD Team and the Indie Community we would like to congratulate you, as well wish you further success in your future writing endeavors.

Kind Regards,
Joshua B., I.T & Communication,
The IBD Team,

Fess up so I can thank you properly!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

How to Write Women

Definitely not a man.
There are a lot of great articles out on the interwebs that can act as reference and guidance to writers. 
So many that this little blog of mine is quite easily (and somewhat justly) lost in the background noise.  Good and great authors are providing wisdom and advice to new writers at unprecedented levels.

A recent article Writing Women Characters as Human Beings really stuck with me though.  Not because it reflected a perfect, step-by-step-guide-with-pictures of how to write characters, but because, as the author Kate Elliot noted, the answer is so simple.

How do you write women?  You write them as people.

That’s it.  There’s no big trick or need to research through thousands of pages of psychological discussion.  Women act like people.  Women feel like people.  Women do things that people do.  Women are people. 

Hugh-man!

If you’re treating women as some kind of mysterious black hole about which we know little and can explain less, then you’re doing it wrong.  Just as men come in all shapes, sizes and psychological packages, so do women.  They think, they feel, they act and react, they have motivations, goals, pain, and dreams.

The trick isn’t to write a male character and slap on a female.  The trick is to write interesting characters—strong, weak, cunning, foolish—within a realistic setting (with social roles, stereotypes, etc.) and have them interact in a realistic way.


View women as people and write that.