Friday, July 28, 2017

Breaking the Writer's Block

Hello darkness, my old friend!
Chapter 13 of Company of the Damned, “How Strait the Gate,” took an unusually long time.  Some chapters take longer than others, figuring out plot and character actions/reaction can be a plodding process.  But not this close to the end of a book.  At this point, scenes and dialogue and character actions are fairly set.  The final scenes of this story were written before chapter 1, “The Night That Cover,” had its four or five false starts.  Some of those ended up in later chapters, where the action written was far more appropriate.

Sometimes a line, a phrase, a scene is so clear, the opening writes itself.  With Chapter 13 (the most dangerous chapter known to mortals) the self-doubt started to worm in like an earwig from Ceti Alpha V.  It had practically wrapped itself around my cerebral cortex before I remembered I’ve written books before—published them even!  But that’s the power of the Ceti Alpha V self-doubt earwig.  It’s a horrible, horrible sensation.  It makes you say lies, do things, and write bad checks.

Then, a solution (amid ten-thousand) presented.  The end of “writer’s block” doesn’t come easy.  It’s a whole process that, to all appearances, ends with a Eureka! moment.  Struggling with the chapter—even though I know exactly where it needs to go—for three or more weeks means wrestling with all the elements that came before, during and after.  But you have to struggle.  This is what you've trained your brain to do, and your brain knew the risks when it signed up!  There are as many bits of advice for overcoming writers block as there are starts in the sky.  Sometimes more.  The only takeaway is that if you’re a writer and you're talented.  You wouldn't be writing if you weren't a writer.  So write.  Let your brain do the work it was meant to do and know this: It will happen.

Great Lloyd!
Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon.


Your brain is working on the problem right now, stewing it over, pulling together the necessary threads.  Shortly, the whole thing will weave together and you'll be amazed.  You'll feel like a guy wearing bronze armor standing on the highest hill top, during a lightening storm, screaming, "ALL GODS ARE BASTARDS!" (Thank you Terry Pratchett.)  The feeling, the struck by 1.21 gigawatts of electricity . . . well . . . that’s part of why we write.  The sheer joy of the power of creation is heady, heady stuff.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Chatting With Sherri—Lots of Fun

Evil Rob Approved!
Except for the very, very end when asked for contact information and apparently my connection started to suck—this was a really good interview.  A lot of fun was had literally Chatting with Sherri.  Sherri was a lot of fun, and it was great to talk with her before the interview.  She made me feel very comfortable and we were ready to go when the interview started.

We got to talk a lot about publishing woes for the indie/small press author, trying to cut through the noise of over 8 million titles, and the scammers who prey on the new and naive authors who are just looking for some assistance.  We also talked about Tears of Heaven and the re-release that is available now.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Chatting with Sherri—Today!

The latest craze sweeping the nation!
It’s been said that I have a face for radio and a voice for newspaper.  You can decide for yourself today:

Chatting With Sherri welcomes author RobRoy McCandless about his book; Tears Of Heavens on 7/25/2017 at 11:00 AM PT:



Also, I believe you’ll be able to call in.  So, if you’ve ever wanted to heckle me, or ask me why I killed off your favorite character’s best friend’s cousin’s dog—well, you can do that too!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Tears of Heaven - Trailer 2

Chapter 13, as one would think, is being difficult.  So, instead of a victory that Company of the Damned is only one chapter from completion, I have a new trailer for Tears of Heaven to go with the new cover.  Please enjoy:

video



Friday, July 21, 2017

Today Is TEARS OF HEAVEN Day!

Everything is available.  You can now purchase Tears of Heaven from all your favorite ebook retailers, and now in NEW and IMPROVED paperback form!

A child of angels and humans, Del is a sarcastic, fast-talking, dangerous, and unpredictable demon hunter.  She and her partner Marrin take their orders directly from the angel Ahadiel.  They obey, or they’ll be destroyed.  It’s not the job Del wants, but it’s the job she has.

Normally, banishing a rogue demon back to Hell wouldn’t be a problem.  Del and Marrin have a few centuries of experience.  It’s all part of the job description.  But when Ahadiel orders them to take down three demons at the once the job goes from bad to worse.  The demons, with supernatural powers and their own agenda, have kidnapped children for their own nefarious ends.

With angels breathing down her neck, children to save, and demons gunning for her blood, Del is running out of time.

That’s exactly where she wants to be.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cars 3 - Review and Minor Spoilers

We get it.  They're Cars.
Whoever was in charge of the script for Cars 3 should be fired.  Maybe just demoted.  Is there such a thing as KP duty at Pixar?  Whatever the storytelling equivalent (perhaps forced to publish as an indie/small press author?) he/she should have to suffer it.

My oldest son was begging me since Christmas last year to take him to see Cars 3.  Last weekend, we got to do so.  It took this long to sort my blown-out feelings about this particular film.  Maybe I'm getting old too.

Pixar may have peaked, and Cars 3 may be the start of the downward slide.  All the narrative elements are there, and more.  It’s so clearly there.  But at each emotional peak, it spins out, sputters, jackknifes and explodes.

But not a cool explosion like you’d walk away from in slo-mo.  Just a slow sputter, nothing, a quick engine seize, and that's it.

The story is simple.  It’s practically ripped straight from Rocky IV—the one where he faces Dolph Lundgren and takes on the USSR at the height of the Cold War.  That's fine, because Cars was so obviously a well-done Doc Hollywood and Cars 2 was a mid-level The Man With One Red Shoe. This time, Lightning McQueen, at the top of his game (along with all his other racing competitors/friends) suddenly finds himself . . . well, old.

Old sucks.  It just does.  Pixar takes on this theme so often, it's almost an obsession.

That's great though, because audiences often walk away with the feeling that while getting old/older isn't fun, it's part of the process, and it's going to be OK.

For Cars 3 a new, younger generation of super-cool looking, non-personality racers are taking to the track, beginning with Jackson Storm.  It probably should be Storm Jackson—a cooler name anyhow and one that will definitely find its way into a book—but that’s not the point.  Jackson is supposed to be what Chick Hicks (now voiced by Bob Peterson) was in Cars—an arrogant jerk who isn’t racing for the love of the sport, but simply to win at any cost.

Except Storm, despite his Lightning-eclipsing name, never really gets there.  He’s a better racer—faster, stronger, better engineered—and he’s rude to McQueen.  But that’s it.  He doesn’t run anyone off the track, or cause a bad accident.  He’s just arrogant—backed up by win after win.  The character that should be Ivan Drago just isn’t.

Too bad they never acted again.
More “new-fangled” racers replace the old ones, until the camaraderie that McQueen once enjoyed is lost.  He never attempts to welcome the younger competitors, never tries to see if any of them have a personality.  Nothing.

McQueen, embarrassed by being outclassed in the sport he’s dominated for years, end up in a bad crash that he himself causes.  No one else is hurt except McQueen, who retreats into Doc Hudson’s old garage for . . . reasons.

This is where McQueen’s character should have taken a left turn.  Seeing all the tech-advantages that the new racers are using to compete, McQueen initially goes to a newly opened racing center to train.  Here he meets Sterling (Nathan Fillion at his most arrogant).  This is another miss for the movie.  Sterling should have a secret motivation for taking on the “elder statesman” McQueen.  Except, he doesn’t.  He’s bald-tired about trying to get McQueen back in shape.  He brings in his best trainer, Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) who starts him on a regimen meant to bring the aged racer back up to his peak.

Mud Run for the . . . win?  Loss?  Hard to tell.
Here’s where the story takes another dead-end turn.  McQueen is initially desperate to get on the high-tech “simulator”—against the advice of Cruz.  She says he needs to work up to the big stuff, but McQueen ignores her and immediately crashes, taking the simulator with him—much like Apollo Creed is told by Rocky and Duke that he shouldn’t fight Drago, despite abs that could wash a U.S. Army unit’s entire laundry for a month.

Here’s where Cruz or Sterling or really anyone else in McQueen’s life should tell him that it’s not the tech that matters, it’s his heart as a racer—his eye of the tiger.  He needs to get it back by getting in touch with his roots.  Seeing where racing started, maybe visiting Doc’s old racing coach, Smokey.

Instead, it’s McQueen who makes this detour in poor imitation of Cars.  But instead of Cruz entering him in po-dunk, backwater, mud-run races that seem to make no sense—McQueen does it to himself.  He then blames Cruz for every little thing that goes wrong.  Instead of Cruz trying, and failing, to show McQueen the path back to his “thrill of the fight,” we’re towed through minutes of the two yelling at each other about how they don’t know each other, their lives, or what motivates them.

Blah-blah-blah

Ugghh.

And that’s the problem with Cars 3.  There are so many characters playing out in so many roles that no one takes the lead, no one takes the antagonist, no one is the plucky side-kick/comedy relief.  Everyone is everything and the plot misfires repeatedly.

Are they?
There are some genuinely wonderful moments in Cars 3.  All the narrative structure and elements to make a truly great movie, one that rises to Cars, or even surpasses it, are there.  That’s what makes watching it so painful.  A slight tune-up of the scrip—something Pixar used to excel at—and this movie would have been incredible.  Maybe not The Incredibles but certainly a Find Dory level of greatness.

Instead, we’re left with a what-might-have-been effort that at times shines bright, but is mostly covered in mud.  The conclusion is a bit on the obvious side, but just twisty enough that when it happens, some invisible, onion-cutting-ninjas may show up.  You do have to suspend disbelief as they hand-wave away the obvious Mac-sized plot hole, but it's worthwhile.  It's just a shame that the "getting there" part of the movie was hand-waved as well.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Paperback Moon

Are you talking to me?
Announcement!  Announcement!  Announcement!


A child of angels and humans, Del is a sarcastic, fast-talking, dangerous, and unpredictable demon hunter.  She and her partner Marrin take their orders directly from the angel Ahadiel.  They obey, or they’ll be destroyed.  It’s not the job Del wants, but it’s the job she has.

Normally, banishing a rogue demon back to Hell wouldn’t be a problem.  Del and Marrin have a few centuries of experience.  It’s all part of the job description.  But when Ahadiel orders them to take down three demons at the once the job goes from bad to worse.  The demons, with supernatural powers and their own agenda, have kidnapped children for their own nefarious ends.

With angels breathing down her neck, children to save, and demons gunning for her blood, Del is running out of time.

That’s exactly where she wants to be.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Sorry!
I accidentally stole my lunch yesterday.

Pressed for time, I zoomed into the drive-thru with one or two or sometimes three eyes on the clock.  Traffic lights and whatnot seemed to know that I had an important meeting to run, and this would be my only shot at lunch.  Even the restaurant crew seemed to be Johnny-on-the-Spot with my order.  The very nice lady handed me my drink and then my food.  She thanked me and wished me a good day, and I thanked her and wished her the same.

Plotting out my return course, I was knuckle-deep into my second mouthful of fries when I realized I hadn’t paid.  I was also a good quarter mile and turning back now wasn’t an option if I wanted to make my meeting.

Arrghhh.  I made it back a few hours later, covered the bill to a rather surprised manager.  But by that point the shift had changed.  Embarrassed doesn’t even cover it.


Here’s hoping no one got in trouble for my speedy getaway.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Pre-Order TEARS OF HEAVEN

Beat the rush!
The pre-order is live!

You can now pre-order your ebook copy of Tearsof Heaven and it will be automatically delivered to your Kindle on the release date this Friday, July 21st.

People think they want to meet an angel, but they really don’t.  The awful truth is that meeting an angel is the scariest, most life-altering moment of any mortal’s short existence.  Del hated angels.  It didn’t matter that she was half-angel herself.  She was forced to obey an angel’s commands or be destroyed.  The only thing worse than angels were the demons that Del and her partner, Marrin, had to hunt down and banish back to Hell.  When she's ordered to banish three demons, too much of a bad thing may be more than Del and Marrin can handle.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

One Week Plus One Day

Lock and load—Del is coming.
You are warned.  This post has so much excitement, the caps-lock nearly broke.

TOMORROW Friday, July 14th you can PREORDER Tears of Heaven for your Kindle.

ONE WEEK and one day, Friday, July 21st you can BUY Tears of Heaven in all its various forms, including Kobo, Nook, and iTunes.

PAPERBACK versions will be also available Friday, July 21st as well!


ONE WEEK remain before Del returns in all her glory!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Authors Show - Part 1

It's just that easy?
Indie and small press authors carry the marketing burden.  If that’s not clear, take a quick look around at any given writing group and you’re bound to see people asking about advertising or inadvertently violating group rules as they try to sell their own books.  Obviously, marketing scams are everywhere.  Even the savviest of authors, with years of experience marketing, can easily fall prey to a deal carefully constructed to lure them in.

As I’ve been gearing up for my own big marketing push on the re-release of Tears of Heaven (July 21st) and Hell Becomes Her (soonish) no end of marketing “opportunities” have crossed my inbox.  Usually, sorting through them is fairly easy.  Developing a radar and a red flag system over the past decade has certainly helped.

Enter The Authors Show.  I don’t recall how they came across my desk, but they did.  After
Mo' money, mo' problems? Where do I sign up!?
reading through their site and not seeing any obvious red flags, I filled out their form and waited patiently.  Or rather, I totally forgot that I’d submitted to them about two weeks ago.  I received an email yesterday, and really its exactly as described on their site:
“a professionally edited audio and/or video tool showcasing the participating authors and their book(s).”

They are also upfront that the author will not receive a free copy of the final version of the show.  However, here’s where things get a bit murky.  You can purchase a copy, for your marketing push, “for a nominal investment”.  When you do, they offer a couple of other benefits, which are a bit on the fuzzy side: “periodic rebroadcasts, social media outreach, and much more…”

But what more?

The email I received accepting my submission contained contact information and reiterated that “we do not provide free interview copies.”  Followed by a bit of their setup for the eventual sales pitch:

For authors interested in making their interview a part of their marketing strategy beyond the interview’s original broadcast, we do offer an optional Book Marketing Program (BMP) with various very affordable options to select from, utilizing your newly created interview file. A copy of the BMP will be emailed after the interview has been conducted and edited.

The old rule of “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” generally applies to most of these kinds of “marketing opportunities”.  After requesting a services and price list, I’ve received lengthy emails laying out all the reasons I should market—but no list of services or price list—and a statement saying that if I’m interested, to respond again.  Well, duh, that’s why I’m here.  A bit of research indicates mixed reviews for such email solicitors, and most follow ups end with prices that are so outrageous (for indie/small press authors) and little to no guarantee, that it wasn’t worth my time to send the first email.

But they promised you'd be full!
For The Authors Show, as always, I did my research.  But . . . nothing.  No one claiming good or bad about the group, their products, or how much the marketing helped or didn’t help.  That’s unusual.  Writers are everywhere, and finding “new” and “exciting” marketing options is as easy as falling off a bike.  Writers (like most people), also, don’t like to be taken advantage of, and readily report even the vaguest slights.  I reached out to a friend and fellow writer who has more experience in the industry than I like to think about.  She turned up the same nothing.

But we both agreed that since everything is laid out, and really the only loss here is a bit of time for the interview, I could easily be the canary in the coal mind for this particular opportunity.  There is some time and effort that goes into professional recorded and edited podcast (as I well know), but as with most things, if you know what you’re doing, its easy to make it look easy.


So here I go, unto the breach dear friends.  I’ll report back when I know more.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Bestest Announcement!

Even Dean is awed.
Big news!

The best news!

Tears of Heaven re-release dates have been moved up by an entire week!

Starting Friday, July 14th you can PREORDER Tears of Heaven for your Kindle.

Then, starting Friday, July 21st you can BUY Tears of Heaven in all its various forms, including Kobo, Nook, and iTunes.

Paperback versions will be available Friday, July 21st as well!


Only TWO WEEKS remain before Del returns in all her glory!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Dirty, Dirty Word

So dirty!
Prologues.

Never in the history of humankind has there been a more divisive subject.

There has never been a war, a battle or a barroom brawl without first some poor soul uttered the word, “prologue”.

And yet, here we are.

Here we are . . .

Prologues are loved/hated depending on the individual and I’m not here to tell you that your opinion is wrong (although it probably is).  There are five-dozen articles on whether you should or shouldn’t include a prologue.

I counted.  Twice.

Instead, it’s important to understand what a prologue is, and how to use it appropriately.  Back in the day, if a fantasy story didn’t have a prologue, it probably wasn’t any good.  Robert Jordan took that idea to an extreme so great that his prologues could have been their own publication—although the reader was almost never the wiser after finishing a Jordan prologue.

Long, long ago prologues.
There-in lies the first problem of prologues—misuse.

So, let’s boil this down quickly: What is a prologue? How is it used appropriately?

Simple.

The prologue provides information from a different time/place that can't be had within the narrative, but is integral to the story. As the first thing your readers read, it must serve the purpose of fully engaging the audience, drawing them in and keep them turning pages.

That’s it.  If you keep those two things in mind while writing a “prologue” then you’re good to go.  Don’t make it an information dump.  Don’t try to build the entire world.  Don’t be too vague.  Don’t use it only to set mood.

Think murder-mystery books, which make the most common and most effective use the prologue—an overview of the crime and a few hints as to the resolution.  Or Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Sorcerer’s Stone, which uses the prologue perfectly.  In both cases, the prologue is set before the events of the book(s), grabs the audience’s attention and provides information integral to the story but otherwise unknowable.


Prologues have such a bad reputation—hanging out on the wrong side of the tracks, smoking cigarettes and getting tattoos—that some readers will roll up the windows and drive past quickly.  Personally, if the book was good enough to make me crack the cover, then I’ll trust in my author to not break our contract just because the word “prologue” appears.  It’s part of the reading experience, the art the writer is delivering, and I’ll trust the artist until I don’t.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Watch This Space

Spoke with my publisher this morning, and there may be some very exciting news this week!

Stay tuned.


In the meantime, remember that you can read the first chapter of Tears of Heaven and Hell Becomes Her absolutely free!

Here's hoping everyone had a safe 4th of July.