Wednesday, October 21, 2020

In Memorium—The Amazing James Randi

A little over a year ago, I wrote a letter to the Amazing James Randi. I knew from a friend who


was close to him that James wasn’t doing all that well, and was mostly secluded in his home.  I’d delayed writing to Randi for a number of reasons, mostly because I couldn’t believe that a man who seemed to SO have it together would deign to respond to me.

For reason that have nothing to do with personality, and everything to do with his failing health, I learned that he would never respond.

While I understood, I was also deeply saddened.  I also reflected back on what I had learned, not just from Randi but the community of people who had gathered around him to share in his common interest.  Randi was not just a wizard of a magician and a sorcerer of an escape artist; he was also a skeptic, who debunked those who would profit from the ignorance and the hope of others.

Unfortunately, The Amazing Randi passed away today. I was asked to write about Mr. Randi, against this very day. I decided I had already done so in that letter I wrote to him a year ago, and which I share with you now: 

Dear Mr. Randi –

 

I’ve been meaning to write this letter to you for some time. I admit, I only stumbled on you and your vibrant community of skeptics when I was doing research for an alternative-history novel. About ten years ago I found the James Randi Education Foundation forums and, for me at least, it was a truly a turning point in my life. I’d never engaged with so many intelligent, well-spoken, and thoughtful individuals, passionate about understanding the world, but unwilling to accept “easy” answers.

 

From there, it was simple to start to understand how important your role was in the world. While I’ve always loved magic, I’ve also always understood it was a learned skill, with presentation and showmanship being the key components. I was fascinated and impressed with the many, many videos of you debunking various claims of supernatural ability, and greatly enjoyed reading the updates regarding the Million Dollar Challenge and those individuals who attempted to win the prize. Attempted, but all failed.

 

After watching the documentary An Honest Liar, I was even more impressed with you and your life. I was especially intrigued when you taught journalist Barbara Walters to bend a spoon to match the one that Uri Geller had given her, showing how it was a skill/trick rather than a supernatural ability. That image, a spoon bent by a man who claimed no special powers except the ability to create a convincing illusion, epitomized for me the need and desire to understand the world. I mentioned this to my friend, Jeff Wagg, when discussing the movie, and how much I would love to have a spoon bent by you. He kindly provided me with your address so that I could make this request.



 

Mr. Randi, would you do me the extreme honor of bending the enclosed spoon with your “amazing” skills and returning it to me in the enclosed envelope? I intend to frame and display it for anyone who comes to my house and to proudly explain it’s very interesting, but also very natural, origins.

 

Thank you very much!

Sincerely,

RobRoy McCandless


While I will never get that spoon, that was only a material symbol of the turning point in my life and the role that Randi played in it. It would have been nice to have, but it wasn’t necessary. What Randi had already given me, without even knowing it, was much more valuable, and something that I will never lose.

Thank you Mr. Randi, for all you did, for me and countless others. You may have never known the impact you had on our lives, but we are all better just for having known you.

If you haven’t had the chance yet, I strongly recommend watching An Honest Liar which is an excellent, if too short look, into the life of James Randi. It’s available on many streaming services.

ETA: Yesterday, after perusing a series of James Randi talks and appearances, I discovered the exact Barbara Walter’s episode. Randi didn’t bend a spoon, but instead bent a key. I’m not sure how I got in my head that it was a spoon, except that Randi was revealing Uri Geller’s lack of psychic ability, and Geller was/is known for his spoon bending. I’m leaving the error as-is, since that’s how I originally wrote the letter.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Entertainment Round-Up—Comedy, Drama, Mystery and Music

DCs Legends of Tomorrow—Doesn’t suck. At one point, I said, without thinking, “This is SO

It's still Rock and/or Roll to me!

cartoony.” Then I remembered the source material and was ok with the rest. I’m not that much of a comics fan that I can say why some of the mistakes are made, but I’m sure there’s a reason. If you go in like this, there’s some fun super powers, like Doctor Who but with laser guns and stuff. (Netflix)

The Van Halen Story: The Early Years—Meh. When your documentary about the band barely contains the band at all, and nothing but lousy audio for some, ya gotta know you’ve gone the wrong way. Not all bad, as Diamond David Lee Roth is never shy with a camera around. (Amazon Prime)

Scoob!—Tolerable. My boys got a kick out of it, but I was only mildly entertained, and mostly by the call-outs and meta-moments. Most all the characters were reasonably on point with their older cartoon counterparts, but Scooby’s full sentences and lack of “dog” accent was a little off-putting. (BluRay)

New Girl—Still funny. Maybe more so as this is my second time through. I’m looking for the hints at certain relationships and the changes in characters. Winston is still the most misused of the bunch, devolving into a one-note joke like Joey Tribbiani from “Friends”. Except for the stellar performance by Lamorne Morris, that’s a shame. But still funny. Yeah, still funny. (Netflix)

The Lorax—Excellent. Like all of Dr. Suess’ work should be, this one feels pretty timeless to me. Doesn’t matter if the concern is trees or lives, the “Unless” quote definitely applies: ‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.” (Netflix)

Friday, September 25, 2020

Entertainment Round-Up—Death, Darkness, and Elementary

Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous—Is mediocre. Decent enough watch with my boys, but

AND she shoots bow?

even they had issues with some of the silly/dumb choices the characters made. Camp counselors seem more concerned about who is in charge instead of watching out for the children who are more concerned about their various nonsense issues to worry about personal safety. (Netflix)

Anna Karenina (2012)—Is beautiful. It’s also very dark, but then it’s Russian. Two hours really isn’t enough to do justice to Tolstoy’s story, but Tom Stoppard’s adaptation and Joe Wright’s directing make an incredible effort, especially setting much of the story as if it were a play in a theater. If I had one complaint, it’s that Aaron Taylor-Johnson Count Vronsky is far, far too pretty to be likable. (Netflix)

Enola Holmes—Is so fun! Entirely in keeping with the spirit of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, adding a teenage sister, Enola, to the Holmes family. Although Mycroft is slightly off, everything else is a reasonable facsimile, the acting is a delight, and the mystery is laid out for viewers to decipher on their own without any esoteric knowledge. (Netflix)

Tournament (2018)—Isn’t terrible. A lighter shade of “Clerks.” for the die-hard card-gamers. There’s some really good, witty dialogue, and then there’s some ham-fisted stuff. The camera work is passable, although sometimes wonky. I felt like the plot could have used one more rewrite to really knock out the third act. (AmazonPrime)

The Courier—Nope. I think they were going for a kind of Die Hard in a parking structure. All

I don't have a machine gun yet, but Imma get one!

the right elements are there, and I really wanted to like this. Olga Kurylenko does a worthwhile job with what she’s given, and Gary Oldman and Calli Taylor are respectably evil together. The plot and the bad guys are dumb when they should be smart, or at least smarter. (Hulu)

Quest of the Muscle Nerd—Doesn’t suck. It’s an interesting look into a sub-sub-genre of Dragon Con attendee—the cosplayer who also lifts an outrageous amount of the time. I wish there was a bit more focus on cosplay and the nerds who lift to cosplay, rather than just folks who lift and showed up for this particular event. Still, it was an interesting look. (AmazonPrime)

The Good Place (Season 4)—Rocks. It’s so much goodness I can hardly believe it. I know I’m late on this one, especially a series that I loved (mmmm, Kristen Bell!) but I kept waiting for it to show up on one of my streaming services. I finally had to get the disks, and DVD at that (yech!). I wish I hadn’t waited this long. If you haven’t started this series, do so. It’s hi-freaking-larious. (DVD—because I guess BETA wasn’t an option)

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Entertainment Round-Up—Mystery, Mayhem, and Social Media

I forgot to post last week’s entertainment round-up, so here it is for you.  I’ll try to make sure I

What could possibly go wrong?

get this weeks up on Friday for your weekend enjoyment!

Knives Out—Is good. Very good. Rian Johnson returns to his genre of choice with a classic whodunnit framework but a plot turned on its head. Daniel Craig’s southern accent gets an impressive workout and never falters. Ana de Armas is the real standout, which is impressive given the supporting cast (Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Christopher Plummer, etc.). Johnson’s script is excellent! (Amazon Prime)

The Boys (Season 2)—Isn’t awful. The story doesn’t even miss a beat from Season 1, picking right up and running. I did have to find a recap on YouTube, as some of the details were fuzzy, but after that it was full speed on the A-Train! (Amazon Prime)

The Social Dilemma—Is complicated. It’s also worth watching. 90-minutes isn’t enough time to do anything but paint with a very broad brush. Social networks do a thing, they do it well, and then they get paid. They’re not in it for us. Most of us know this. Like any big corporation, they’re also not all bad. But as a first step to connecting the dots—hopefully toward meaningful change/regulation—it’s 90-minutes well spent. (Netflix)

Dragon’s Dogma—Is tedious. I applaud any show willing to introduce and endear us to a main character and then off him/her in a sudden, realistic, or sudden-AND-realistic manner. I gave this series four episodes and quit. There are some fun fights, the CGI animation could cut sushi, but when they aren’t fighting, it’s a lot of blah-blah and the characters aren’t interesting outside of their tropes to be worthwhile. (Netflix)

Glow Up—Isn’t terrible. The first season of most reality contest shows always have some kinks to work out. This one is no different. With make-up and artists running around, some of the judging does feel arbitrary. Overall, though, this is a fun and enjoyable start to a “Face Off” like show. 

Did I get it right? Wrong? What would you like me to review next?

Tell me in the comments below!

Friday, September 11, 2020

Entertainment Round-Up—Survival, Laughter, and Yawns

Alone (Season 5)—Not bad. Mongolia is simply beautiful! This one was a bit more anti-

She's all business!

climactic. Also, I was VERY annoyed at the contestants who didn’t put a roof on their shelter. Maybe I’m just not that knowledgeable about survival and physics and whatnot. Still, seems like a solid, insulated roof would go some distance to keeping the warmth in your shelter. (Hulu)

Cobra Kai (Season 2)—Is good. A solid follow-up to Season 1 and a good lead in to Season 3. It’s pretty clear where the writers are taking us throughout, and at a few points it’s frustrating how slowly they’re taking us there. There are some REALLY smart moments but a few REALLY dumb ones. That’s people in the real world, too. (Netflix)

Star Trek: Lower Decks—Doesn’t suck. I wasn’t fully sold on this animated sideshow, but some/most of the story arcs would be cost prohibitive. There’s nothing overly serious about this one, which makes for some laugh-out-loud and some aww moments. (CBS All Access)

Away—Is a struggle. With Hilary Swank and Josh Charles along with the supporting cast, there’s some incredible acting going on. I just wish they had a better vehicle. A three-year round trip to Mars should be awesome. Most of the drama is conjured and forced into place with a hydraulic press. The writers ignore the practicalities/realities of pretty much any situational obstacles that come up, and break then shatter then stomp on the shards of willing suspension of disbelief. It makes it hard for me to enjoy something that otherwise checks all the boxes. (Netflix)

Mulan (2020 Live Action)—Doesn’t suck. It doesn’t rule either. As a Disney conversation to live action, this one diverges the most from its animated release, pulling a bit more from “The Ballad of Mulan”. That makes the movie better than a retelling of a Disney story which is a good thing. Really good wuxia, solid acting, and beautiful visuals. (Disney+)

Did I get it right? Wrong? What would you like me to review next?

Tell me in the comments below! 

Friday, September 4, 2020

Entertainment Round-Up—Nostalgia, Loss, and Hope

Alone (Season 4)—Not bad. Partners makes it a bit less “alone” but making one partner hike

It's like they KNOW us!

ten miles through the horrible, horrible scrub that is Vancouver Island was fascinatingly horrible to watch. Like the slowest slow-mo car crash ever. Season 5 is set in Mongolia so you KNOW I’m onboard with that! (Hulu)

Cobra Kai (Season 1)—Strikes first and strikes hard! It’s a nice where-are-they-now update of Daniel “The Karate Kid” LaRusso and Johnny “Sweep the Leg” Lawrence. There are some flashbacks to the movies, but they don’t overdo it. In this longer format we get to see more depth to both Daniel and Johnny, and there’s some real growth in almost all the characters (Netflix)

Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe—Is a solid addition. It’s not as great as the 2011 movie, but they were in the middle of the series at that point. A few of the voices sound a bit different, but not enough to ruin the illusion. Candace has had more growth than she's portrayed at this point, but it serves to tell a good story. (Disney+)

Bill & Ted Face the Music—Is, to coin a phrase, EXCELLENT! It’s silly, stupid fun, but it’s a good cap to the series. I may have just been in the right mood for it, but I don’t mind telling you I got a bit misty as the action rose to the conclusion. (Vudu)

Black Panther—Great but mournful and sad. This weekend, we lost a wonderful and relatively young actor in Chadwick Boseman. His was a bright light even from the beginning. Phylicia Rashad mentored him, Denzel Washington helped pay his tuition. He is and will continue to be missed. (Disney+)

Did I get it right? Wrong? What would you like me to review next?
Tell me in the comments below!

Monday, August 31, 2020

The Loss of Chadwick Boseman

WAKANDA FOREVER! 

I could stand a bit more Okoye!

Hearing that still gives me chills.  This weekend we paid homage to Chadwick Boseman, by watching Black Panther.  It’s remains an excellent stand-alone film. Even the fight choreography is excellent.  More often than not, even in Marvel films, it’s a series of jerky-cam and confusion. 

It was also sad knowing that the relatively young Mr. Boseman, who is SO full of life and talent in the movie, is no longer with us. I was very much looking forward to seeing him in a follow up Black Panther in 2022. 

While his loss is unfortunate, I’ve seen a lot of “fans” calling for an end to Black Panther. That likely won’t happen for a number of reasons. The first, of course, is that Black Panther is a very marketable commodity. NBA franchises might retire a player’s jersey, but they don’t stop selling them to fans. 

More than just cold, hard cash though is the fact that King T’Challa is more, bigger than, just one actor. Just like the fictional Wakanda, the idea is greater than the sum of its parts. There are precious few characters that can only be embodied by one performance, and for that we should be very grateful. Successive versions of wonderful characters embodied by new actors can entertain and enlighten countless generations. There’s been no end of James Bond, Lara Croft, Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, etc. 

That’s a good thing. 

That smile!

The sudden loss of Boseman probably has more to do with the call for Marvel to not re-cast T'Chall/Black Panther than anything else. It is VERY soon to public consider moving on. It almost feels like a betrayal of that bright light that we've just lost. We should absolutely mourn his passing. Boseman was an amazing talent, seen, mentored, and supported by some of the biggest names in the business.

He is now, and forever will be, truly missed.

That smile!

I’m sure there’s a solid case to be made for shelving the propertynot to mention Marvel turning their backs on all that green stuff they’ve been raking in over the last twelve years—but I don’t think that’s the “right thing” to do here. Boseman’s legacy is bigger than just one character and one movie. He played Jackie Robinson, Thoth, Thurgood Marshall, and James Brown. 

If the King of Wakanda can also be the Godfather of Soul, there are very good reasons why we should hear and see WAKANDA FOREVER! 

Do you think T’Challa should be recast?
Why or why not?

Friday, August 28, 2020

Entertainment Round Up — Surviving the West the East the Jungle and the Stage

As promised, here are my mini-reviews for the past week. Some really good entertainment as

Yo da lay hee, yo da lay he. He rides alone!

we enter the waning days of summer!

Alone (Season 3)—Is good. Moving from Vancouver Island to Patagonia was smart. I liked the first two installments, but the second season was something of a repeat. It’s a very chill show, sometimes punctuated by short bursts of excitement, but the overall concept really carries the show for me. (Hulu)

Rustler’s Rhapsody—Still rules. This is another one of my “movies from the 80s” that my boys were certain would suck. While I did have to explain a few of the tropes that were being played off, that was only because my boys were so enthralled by the movie. It remains a hilarious send-up of B-movie westerns that deserves more love. (Amazon Prime)

The One and Only Ivan—Wow. The CGI on this film is simply incredible. Disney wants you to believe that this is a Disney-fied version “based on actual events”, but really it’s based on a wholly fictional book which was inspired by the actual events—which are much darker and more troubling. Still, there’s a lot to enjoy about this film if taken for the fiction it is. (Disney+)

The New Legends of Monkey (Season 2)—Is a win. I honestly thought this was never coming back, which would have been a real shame. The characters continue to delight in that very New Zealand/Hercules/Xena way. Sure, it’s Monkey King who ties it all together, but it’s that character played off the co-stars—Pigsy, Tripitaka, and Sandy—that makes it so fun. (Netflix)

Live from the Space Stage: Halyx—Is fascinating. My oldest son has followed Defunctland for several years now, reveling in the “forgotten” history of Disneyland and other theme parks. The story of Halyx, a rock band created to play at Disneyland, who almost crossed over into the mainstream. It’s worth watching, and since it’s free, you might as well. (YouTube)

Do you agree with my picks? What did I get right? What did I get wrong? What would you like me to review next? 

Tell me in the comments below!

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Eric Lahti Reviews Beneath a Fearful Moon

If you haven’t read an Eric Lahti novel, you should. His writing is so crisp and clean, it punches

Timberjiggers need love too!
you right in the gut. You get that sense from the review he wrote for BENEATH A FEARFUL MOON, and I couldn’t be more appreciative that he still reads my work, let alone takes time to review it:

I’ve always felt the novella doesn’t get enough love. In this day of digital and on-demand publishing, there’s really no reason to focus exclusively on massive tomes just because they’re easier to run through the printing press. Not every story needs to be four hundred pages long and trying to stretch a shorter tale into a full-length novel just gives you Star Trek: The Motion Picture. A story should be precisely as long as it needs to be and no longer.

 

Thank you, Mr. Lahti.

Read the Rest Here!

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

No, Really. This Time It IS the END of the Batman Franchise!!11

[Mini-rant] People get so angry about a particular actor being given an acting role in a film and

Will the real Batman please stand up? Please stand up?
asked to act!

It's almost as if they've only seen that actor in one thing and can't think of him/her acting in anything else. And yet, they do. They do act in other things. That's why their job is called "acting" and they are called "actors" and they take on roles that they like (or want) and that other people casting them in those roles believe they will do well in. 

It’s almost like the people making these movies have some sort of “process”. 

The most recent in a long line of actors who “fans” claimed could never do justice to their favorite characters is Robert Pattinson who has won the dubiously coveted role of playing yet another iteration of Bruce Wayne/Batman. It’s hilariously facepalm-worthy to watch people fume and fuss over an ACTOR who has also ACTED in a series where he played a wholly different dark and brooding character who seemed rather fond of the night. 

While there certainly have been miscast actors, I can’t believe this is one of those times. Viewing the trailer this morning, I saw absolutely nothing objectionable about Pattinson in the role. In fact, I saw nothing OF Pattinson. I saw Batman doing Batman-y things. 

Before Affleck was going to destroy the franchise, it was Bale would couldn’t carry the cowl. Before him, Kilmer and Clooney were going to trip on their own caps. Before that, it was Keaton who the studio insisted on replacing. 

Yet, here we are, with the 12th film The Batman looking to release next year. [/Mini-rant]

Monday, August 24, 2020

Roe Bushey Reviews BENEATH A FEARFUL MOON

Wow! BENEATH A FEARFUL MOON received a very nice five-star review over the weekend.

Not sure about the braces, though!
As a fan of steampunk, it’s very humbling to hear that someone new to the genre not only picked your book, but found it compelling enough to read more of the same:

This was my first steampunk book and it won't be my last. The character of Aubrey Hartman was engaging, and likable without being a pollyanna. She also has some depth to her character which was teased at in this novella and I'm hoping that in future books we learn more about here time in the Cimarron. The inclusion of Fae into a Victorian-esque setting works extraordinarily well thanks in no small part to the author's style which I can best describe as descriptive minimalist - which is a good thing and points to a writer who chooses words carefully to maximize their impact. Beneath a Fearful Moon was the perfect introduction to a genre rich with colorful aesthetics and more colorful characters. I cannot wait to return.

 Thank you very much Rosaire Bushey!

While we may get more background about Aubrey’s time in the war (on the Cimarron Fields) there probably won’t be a full book about it. One such story already exists: Grenadiers and Dragon’s Fire was published in the anthology Gears, Gadgets & Steam (Tinkered Tales Book 1).

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Rob's Mini-Movie Reviews

Movies. I LOVE movies. There's not much I'd rather be doing than watching a movie. There are

Yippie-ki-yi-yay.
a couple of things, but they are few and far between.

When I was younger, I loved the theater-going experience. I couldn’t always afford that, but my college roommate and I would spend what little hard cash we had on renting videos. That’s right, kids. Back in the old days, we had to actually go to a bricks-and-mortar store and browse a limited selection of VHS cassette movies.

The only think I enjoy slightly more than watching movies is talking about movies with other people.

That wasn’t always the case, but has started to become so again.

Online discussion groups ruined that for me for a long time. It seemed to me that if you didn’t absolutely hate everything, and deride all the little mistakes made by a movie, then you just weren’t in any position to discuss them.

I even bought into that for a little while, and I really started to hate talking about movies. I refused to talk about movies with anyone but close friends and family.

But today, I’ve found a nice set of rules that allow me to talk about the movies and television shows that I watch AND ENJOY, and over the last year or two I’ve been sharing again.  The rules are pretty simple: 

1 – Unless I’m asked a specific question, I don’t argue.

Even though this is IX
She's definitely an X!
That’s it. I post up my mini-reviews about whatever latest and greatest entertainment that I’ve watched. People are free to comment on their love or hate or apathy. They can even argue amongst themselves. My opinion has already been given. I might feel a twinge to defend it, but why?  What’s the point? If someone really, truly, madly, passionately cares that I loved Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker they’re probably going to reach out to me to discuss it.

That has happened.

I'm thinking of gathering my mini-reviews and posting them here in a weekly round-up on Fridays. That way, should my opinion hold any sway for you, you can easily peruse the list and determine your entertainment for the weekends.

All that said, if follow me on Twitter or Facebook—and you should—and you read one of my mini-reviews, absolutely share your own opinion. Just don’t be upset when I don’t respond.

What movie do you want me to review next?
Tell me in the comments below!

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Beneath a Fearful Moon Gets Five Stars

 Aww, thanks Carol!  What a wonderful review of BENEATH A FEARFUL MOON:

Have you ever danced with the Fae
under the fearful moonlight?

I know a lady you really need to meet. I strongly suggest you allow author R. A. McCandless to introduce you to Aubrey Hartmann, a decorated war hero with a wide streak of practicality. She, and her clockwork leg, are well worth your time. The star of two previous novels (which I also recommend, if you are interested) makes her latest appearance in Beneath a Fearful Moon, a beautifully crafted novella that is over far too soon. A creative blending of murder mystery, fantasy lore, and steampunk, this story shows you a world where huge mechanical devices called timberjigs, designed for efficient logging, operate in woods inhabited by the Fae, who certainly do not value human life above all else. Aubrey Hartmann cannot be described as a saint or a sinner, and instead is a compellingly complex lady that… well, that you should meet. If you care to dip your toe into the waters of her world, this novella offers you the chance to do that. But my guess is that you will be left wanting more. I know I do.

Constable Hartmann began life in a short story, and I loved the character so much that I knew she deserved a lot more effort. That’s where THE CLOCKWORK DETECTIVE came from.  I’m so pleased to share this novella as I continue to work on Aubrey’s next full-length novel.

What would you call Aubrey’s next adventure?
Tell me in the comments below!

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Release Day - Beneath a Fearful Moon

 It’s release day!

She seems nice!

The Moon is Waning Gibbous, the first phase after the Full Moon. This will last about a week, with the illumination growing less and less until the Moon becomes a Last Quarter Moon with about half its illumination.

This is ALSO one of the most exciting days for most authors. It’s probably second only to “I’ve been accepted by a publisher/agent” day.

Today is the day and the novella is BENEATH A FEARFUL MOON. Here’s an excerpt for your reading enjoyment:

Across the mill pond a flash of light and movement caught her attention. It took her a moment to track, but once she had sight of it, she followed it easily. A wispy, gauzy, slightly luminescent form that moved along the water’s shore. If she hadn’t known better, she might have taken the figure for a child at play. But no child ever moved with the grace and speed that the figure exhibited.

 

“Burgher.” Aubrey kept her eyes on the Fae creature. “Does this pond have naiads?”

 

“Hmm?” Abela spoke through his handkerchief. “Oh, I suppose. Most any body of water around here that you can’t step over has one or two.”

 

“You have accords with them?”

 

“Of course,” Abela said. There was a light sarcasm to his response. “If we built where a naiad had claim, she’d be nothing but a bloody nuisance. Lure the workers away and leave them in the forest, steal essential parts for laughs. I’d sooner pour resin in all the wheels and cogs than build without Fae approval. Even with an accord, it’s as much like making peace with a bear. Never know when they might turn and take your head off.”

 

“I don’t suppose you have a silver spoon, burgher? A new or newly polished one would be best. Or any silver. A penny?” Aubrey had one or two in her pouch, but Abela had pushed her. It was a small revenge, but she would take it where she could find it.

 

“A few, yes. Gold too.” Abela reached inside his coat and produced a velvet bag with ornate silk drawstrings worked with gold that clinked of precious metals. “Why?”

 

“It might be that your Fae friends know a bit more than you do.” Aubrey gestured toward the naiad skipping along the shore.

 

“One does not make friends with animals.” Abela poured the contents of his bag into his hand and sifted “If they weren’t so damned dangerous, we’d be better off driving them out. They’re termites in the floor.”

Read the rest from BENEATH A FEARFUL MOON available on Amazon now, and all other fine ebook retailers soon!

What should Aubrey’s NEXT adventure be?
Tell me in the comments below!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Beneath a Fearful Moon - Release Information

August is moving fast and faster.

Constable Aubrey Hartmann
walks the Aqualinne streets again!


I want to start by thanking you all for your continued support with both the Del books and the new Aubrey books. 2019 was a banner year for me as an author, and that was only possible through everyone’s support. Together, we achieved Amazon best-seller status in various countries around the world. The new covers for the FLAMES OF PERDITION series were released to rousing praise, and THE CLOCKWORK DETECTIVE received a very steampunk bronze medal!

This motive train isn’t stopping!

Today, I’m pleased to announce that another Constable of Aqualinne adventure—a short novella—is going to be published this week. Tuesday, August 11th, BENEATH A FEARFUL MOON will release digitally at all the finest book vendor sites on the interwebs. This is a stand-alone novella, meaning that you don't have to have read any of Aubrey's other adventures in order to jump right into this one. The story is also bit removed in time from that of THE CLOCKWORK DETECTIVE timeline, taking place about a year after those initial events—some of which are still forthcoming in the next books!

Anyhow, on with the fun:

Constable Aubrey Hartmann did her duty, fought for the Empire and lost her leg in the process. All she wants is a quiet life, and the chance of some fun, romantic entanglements in the frontier town of Aqualinne.

 

When bodies start turning up, slashed from head to toe, she’s duty-bound to investigate. As the clues start to point to the reclusive and deadly Fae in the prohibited Old Forest, Aubrey must rely on her war-forged nerves and her trusty Manton pistols. The challenge isn’t just to solve the case, but to survive it.

Aubrey’s full-length novel storyline adventures will continue very quickly after her first adventure in Aqualinne, and I'll start making book updates as I progress. For now, I hope this novella will entertain and delight as another window into the steampunk world of Constable Aubrey Hartmann!

I’ll post a follow up tomorrow with all the details about the book and its availability. 

How is Your Summer Going?
Tell me in the comments below!

 


Friday, August 7, 2020

Novella Is A Go!

 “I declare this manuscript is clean.”

That was Maer, my publisher, after we had ironed out the last of the changes for my novella BENEATH A FEARFUL MOON an Aubrey Hartmann story. Back cover blurb will be ready soon. Cover art will be ready soon. 

I'll be providing dates for the reveals as they are given to me. 

In the meantime, here’s a small teaser to whet your steampunk appetite:

 

Pulled from the mill pond, the corpse was bloated, swollen into a horrible caricature with a bluish-gray pallor. Aubrey knelt to examine the man, torn between revulsion of his current state and fascination for how he died. Only scraps of cloth remained on his body at the wrists, ankles and neck as reminders of the clothes he’d worn. Long, deep gashes crisscrossed him in a rough zig-zag pattern from the top of his head down to his toes. They looked like knife or sword wounds in tight groups of three. Doctor Glocken could tell her for certain, but Aubrey believed the man would have died from the first or second cut. Yet the mutilation had gone on for dozens of strikes.

 

One of the man’s eyes was filmed over white so that only the dark pupil could be seen. The other was missing. The empty socket peered back at her.

The story takes place a year or so after the events of THE CLOCKWORK DETECTIVE and also the next full novel (which I’m still working on). Aubrey has quite a case on her I’ve always enjoyed this story, and I’m pleased to share it with all of you.

How do you think the victim died?

Tell me in the comments below!

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Interview With Lunatics & Monsters Podcast

Hey, hey, hey!

Are you pondering what I'm 
pondering?

The interview I did with Lunatics & Monsters is live and ready for your listening pleasure.

Let me know what you think!


Monday, August 3, 2020

A Few Good August Announcements

A few quick notes:

No princess.

First, the cover art for BENEATH A FEARFUL MOON will release in a week or two. I’m not exactly certain the date, but things are moving fast, so stay tuned.

Second, the novella itself—the same BENEATH A FEARFUL MOON—will release in the next two months. Again, not certain as we’re tearing it up, but likewise stay tuned.

That’s all for now.

Thanks for staying tuned!


Friday, July 31, 2020

Interview with Lunatics and Monsters - Available August 4, 2020

This is fun!

My friend, Roe Bushey, asked me to do an interview earlier this year, and we knocked it out, and then I promptly forgot all about it.

I can’t even remember what we talked about. I mean, I know it was writing and publishing and stuff, but I don’t recall the specifics.

My notes say that we did it in early May, which would have been very close to the beginning of the lockdown. It’s not that I do so many of them that I can’t tell them apart. I have done quite a few, more than I ever thought I would. It was just so close to the start of the lockdown/quarantine in California, and then all the nonsense that has since followed, that it’s driven it straight out of

The podcast with you will be posted next week, Tuesday, August 4th. I’ll have an update then with the link. In the meantime, you can check out Roe’s other installments here.


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Banana-Headed, Zucchini-Eating Dundersquat


"One of those brash, dashing constables out
of a penny-dreadful."
BENEATH A FEARFUL MOON is moving forward.  Here’s a teaser for you on a “new” steampunk engine that I pulled together. Really enjoyed this process:

The big engines were a marvel of the modern age. Some timberjigs, like the Montferrands, walked like giants through the forest on saucer-shaped feet. Others, like the Dolbeers, used a set of treads similar to the motive trains to roll over the ground. The engines produced immense heat and smelled of burnt oil. They required the operators to rotate in and out of the “oven” on an hourly basis, while the other men ran the saws and clawed-arms to cut and move the felled timber. It was hard, hot, brutal work, but a solid team of timberjiggers could fell, trim, and transport a dozen good-sized logs in an hour. A good crew operating a timberjig could do twice the work in half the time.

Catch up with Constable Aubrey Hartmann and her first published adventure in THE CLOCKWORK DETECTIVE, winner of the Independent Book Publishers bronze medal! Available in paperback and digital formats.

Can you see it?
Let me know in the comments below!


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Obligatory July Post - Covid-19

Welcome to . . . Idaho?
Snake River and Shoshone Falls just five minutes away

Note: We’ve fled from the urban and suburban sprawl of Southern California to the very rural and eerily ambivalent state of Idaho and my wife’s family farm. We’re not hiding out from Covid-19, but we’re hiding out from Covid-19. Mostly, this lets our boys have playmates more their age, and breaks up the monotony of summer quarantine. I miss my desk and my truck, but all things considered, with my condition and compromised immune system, this is a pretty decent place to be.

All that said, the following was my conclusion to a rather lengthy and unfortunate discussion with a friend who seems to have gotten a few facts crisscrossed. It’s an easy thing to do, and while I’m certainly not an expert, and would never claim to be, I’ve relied on the information from experts, and provided the full links to show my work.

Finally, the following is not political. It's just science. 

Except I'm not nearly this cute!
Sorry, but Jeff is absolutely right. Five months and we here in the U.S. are only in the middle of the pandemic, not at the end (source: Dr. Fauci comments http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2020/07/anthony-fauci-in-conversation-with-lloyd-minor.html). The U.S. numbers do not say what you want them to say, and since the pandemic hasn't ended, there is no logical ground where your argument stands.

On top of that, you're drawing from the wrong numbers. While there certainly are 329 million people in the U.S. (source: U.S. Census https://www.census.gov/popclock/) there are only 3.5 million confirmed cases of Covid 19 (source: Johns Hopkins https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/us-map). I'm not clear why you keep using those two numbers together, since that's not how you arrive at any meaningful information. We know that not everyone has had Covid-19, and we know exactly when it first showed up in the U.S. Perhaps you're trying to come up for the viral transmission rate, which is called the R0 (R-zero) (source: CDC https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/planning-scenarios.html). This determines how many people are likely to get infected from another infected person (source: LiveScience https://www.livescience.com/new-coronavirus-compare-with-flu.html). For example, most flus have an R0 of less than 1. H1N1 had an R0 of 1.4 to 1.6. The Spanish Flu, which killed 50 million people, had an R0 as high as 2.8. Keeping in mind that we're currently in the middle of the pandemic and not at the end, the current estimated R-value for Covid-19 is between 2.0 and 4.0 with 2.5 as the accepted best value (source: CDC https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/planning-scenarios.html). Back to our 3.5 million sick, of those, as of today, there are only 1 million recovered, and sadly 138,000 U.S. deaths (source: Johns Hopkins https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/us-map). Depending on when you take the numbers, that's a 3.9% mortality in just rough figures. We've been warned that the confirmed death rate is lagging (source: Dr. Fauci statements https://www.barrons.com/articles/covid-19-cases-death-rate-faucci-stock-market-51594227811). The CDC, based on its confirmed (i.e. more accurate) data, offers a higher number of between 5.5% and 6.9% (source: CDC https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/covidview/index.html). Either way, the mortality rate is higher than you're trying to tell us because you're drawing from the wrong set of numbers to do you math.

I'll be six feet away for you!
None of which takes into account the suffering, cost, or potential disability of those 1 million folks who have "recovered". All things being equal, if they were young and healthy and have excellent insurance and a solid savings plan and are eligible for worker's compensation when they contracted Covid, they may walk away with nothing more than a good story. As we're still in the middle of this pandemic, we don't know the total cost, but right now studies are finding that Covid causes heart damage and cardiovascular damage which may put people at risk for heart attacks and strokes (source: Lancet https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30183-5/fulltext). There are also studies that show long-term lung damage which may lead to longer-term asthma and hypertension (source: Keck School of Medicine https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2020/06/02/covid-health-effects).

I appreciate that you've been on the ground, seeing it every day. That is great information to have and a unique place to be. Although, as one person, it's a limited world view, and I suspect that, and your erroneous math, is what has colored your position. That's why we keep asking you to support your arguments with evidence from a reputable source, so that we can see that your anecdotal report lines up with the real numbers. So far, it doesn't. Now, I could play my "One of my best friends is a doctor." card. It's actually true, and anyone who knows anything about me, knows this is a fact. He's been "on the ground" in the U.S. since Covid landed. He took one of the first suspected cases. He's been watching as his colleagues become positive for Covid. Freaks me out to think about it. The thing is, though, I don't have to play that anecdotal evidence card because all the information we're getting says that your statements are wrong, that Covid is an ongoing, raging pandemic, and that without meaningful change many more are going to die.

That's all I have to say about that.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Obligatory June Post - Prologues

I understand you need a pro logger?

I don't mind prologues.

There, I said it.

Around the world, publishers, editors, and agents are suddenly crying out in fear, and they don’t even know why.

But it’s true. I don’t have a problem with them at all. I grew up reading them. I honestly thought they were a necessary part of every fantasy book series. It just seemed like a thing that was done.

Some author acquaintances have said that if they see the word they skip to the first chapter. That seems disingenuous to the author and the book. Why would you leave out any information that the writer determined was necessary to the story?

Maybe I’m just that naive.

To be fair, most of works that I’ve read with a prologue were written by masters of the genre. They legit knew what they were doing. But that’s the entire point. They know the rules, so when they bend or break them, there is (generally) a reason for doing so.

Of course, therein lies the rub.

Because when we see a master do something, we want to emulate that. When I first started writing, my reasoning behind using a prologue wasn’t a keen understanding of the tool. I was just monkey-see monkey-doing.  This is likely why editors/publishers/agents don't like them. Doing it to do it, and doing it right are wholly two different things.

I had to look to be certain, but THE CLOCKWORK DETECTIVE has a prologue. Originally, I'd written it and then cut it. Not for any of the reasons above, but because I wanted to get to the action sooner. Starting with a dirigible docking seemed more interesting. Then, I approached my editor and we added it back in. Yep, that book that just won a bronze medal has the dreaded, feared, and reviled “prologue” sitting right there at the beginning of the book in front of gods and everyone. It started life around two-thousand words. Working with my editor, we trimmed it down to a tidy 161. A single paragraph that introduces you to the victim of the mystery and the instant of his death.

Fun, huh?

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

Monday, May 11, 2020

2019 and 2020 Quarterly Numbers and a Giveaway!


We got some amazing numbers back from Clayborn Press for the Flames of Perdition series (Del books) for 4th Quarter 2019 and 1st Quarter 2020. This includes the promotion that we ran at the end of last year, which saw an incredible jump in downloads:


Promo
Ebook
Paperback
4th Quarter 2019
621
12
3
1st Quarter 2020
NA
6
21

Obviously, I made nothing from the free promo, but that was never the short-term point. Hitting a bunch of top ten lists was very nice, and certainly gave the books more visibility and some additional traction for sales. Altogether, since I joined Clayborn Press a year ago, I’ve sold or given away 1257 copies. This is much, much, much better than I could have ever hoped. Signing up with John (publisher) was as much to have the books still available as it was to release the last book in the series: COMPANY OF THE DAMNED.

That I’ve also seen some minor success is sauce for the goose!

In other news, we have a GIVEAWAY from my other publisher, Ellysian Press, where you can enter to win six books of your choice. THE CLOCKWORK DETECTIVE is certainly among your choices, but there are some excellent, award winning titles!





Don’t Forget To Tell Me Your Good News
In the Comments Below!


Friday, May 8, 2020

2020 Independent Publisher Book Awards - IPPY

Totally related image, I assure you!

Trying times, to be certain. We now hang our masks up with our keys so that both are ready to go when we’re heading outside. Most everyone is conscious, and some are even crazy-aware, of social distancing. Last night, on a walk with the family, I watched a lady a good hundred yards from us, stop and wait until we’d passed by before she continued her own walk.

Of course, we often see people walking—on the other side of the street—with no face masks. So far, everyone close to us has remained safe and well.  Here’s hoping you and yours have too.

On the other side of things, I promised a bit of exciting news, and so here it is direct from the Independent Publisher Book Awards:

Congratulations on being a medalist in the 2020 IPPY Awards!

Yes, you are an IPPY medalist and you are a very big deal! We truly appreciate your participation, your patience with our delayed judging schedule, and especially your talent and commitment to independent publishing.

The Clockwork Detective won a bronze medal in the Science Fiction category! Not just a virtual bronze medal, but there’s an actual, physical medal that I’m required by law to wear around my neck everywhere I go. Well, maybe not by law, but I’m strongly considering including it in any formal attire!

The only downside—and it’s minor to be certain—is that the awards ceremony at the annual Book Expo in New York, has been cancelled. There will be a virtual ceremony, and of course the medals are all being shipped out to the winners, so there’s that. At any other time, this would have been an excellent excuse to take a small vacation to New York.

I suppose I can just watch some Woody Allen instead.




What’s your good news this week, month, year?
Tell us in the comments below!