Monday, September 30, 2013

Final Countdown

If you don’t love your editor, you should.  Let me emphasize first by quoting Mark Twain’s advice to writers, “Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”  I’m more relaxed in my blog posts about such rules than I am with my formal writing, but I do try to adhere to this advice.
Try being the operative term.

Still, with those words of wisdom from Mr. Twain in mind, I make the following statement.

Editors have a very, very, damn, damn hard job.

They don’t just have to read the same manuscript eighteen or twenty times and try to make it better.  They also have to contend with the various egos whose primary operating procedure is, “Why make small drama, when you can create a nuclear holocaust?”  Then maintains that philosophy when dealing with even the smallest criticism.

Editors are not just put on this planet to make a book read better, more cohesively and help tell the story the author dreamed up.  They also, quite often, end up teaching writers how to write (thanks Shawn!).

I’ve wanted to work with a real, live, awesome editor for years now.  I knew that my writing had failings in it.  Unfortunately, like most authors, it’s a forest for the trees moment.  We can’t see the problems over our own awesomeness.  A writer’s awesomeness is wider, deeper and more volatile than the Antares Maelstrom.

When an author passes a manuscript to an editor, and I kid you not, there is only one acceptable outcome: the editor should call, weeping, almost unintelligible, to say how excellent the writing is, how there were only a few understandable typos, and how the story changed their previously unfulfilled life.

The should not just sing the author’s praises, but should cry out damnation that this book wasn’t published years ago.

You can imagine the dismay when that doesn’t happen.


The editing process can be a long, hard road, fraught with the slings, arrows and footfalls filled with punji sticks laced with a cocktail of strychnine, curare, and acid.

So it’s a wonderful, magical, soul-healing moment to have your editor tell you that you’ve reached the point where you just have typos, spacing issues, and a few rewrites.  It’s even more wonderful when they say that your goal of releasing in the Fall/Winter this year is entirely possible.

I love my editor!

Tears of Heaven this Fall!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Take an Autumn Train Ride

Do you have a favorite fall memory linked to a train? What do you imagine you would see if you were riding a train in the fall? Join the authors of Wild CHild publishing and Freyas Bower as we Take an Autumn Train Ride through our blogs.

Prizes will include

  • Four $50 gift certificates (two for Wild Child and two Freya's Bower)
  • An awesome swag package that includes:
    • Bookmarks
    • Books
    • Wild Child T-shirt and mug
    • Wild Child and Freya's Bower bags
    • Four handmade, crochet coasters by Kit Wylde
    • An autographed copy of Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
    • A rare DVD copy of the Matheson/Furst classic "Up The Creek" (lovingly used)
    • One ebook copy of Nita Wick’s short story, The Dream (previously published as part of a Freya's Bower anthology.)
    • Book trading cards
    • Signed Dangerous Waters poster
    • of "Battle for Blood: The Blood Feud"
    • winner's name as a character in Kissa Starling’s next sweet romance story.
    • A Yankee Candle
    • more...

Tears of Heaven
R.A. McCandless

In the past, the children of angels and humans, the Nephilim, were allowed to lead their lives as they willed. But they proved too strong, too ambitious, and too cunning for their own good. They became warlords, conquerors and emperors. They caused battle, death and strife until the Throne stepped in and forced them to submit to Its will, or die. Unlike most of her fellows, Del, one of the first Nephilim, had no interest in conquest and domination. In the ancient past, prior to the Throne’s interdiction, she met and fell in love with Dami, a Mediterranean ship captain and trader.  
Together, they faced down pirates and storms and tried create a future together. In the present, two-thousand years later, Del unwillingly works for the Throne, obeying the commands of the angel Ahadiel. She helps keep the world safe from the horrors of escaped demons. At the same time, she keeps herself in the Throne’s good graces. Whenever a rogue demon breaks free from Hell, she and her partner, Marrin, another Nephilim, work together to banish it. 

 These are Tears of Heaven coming this Fall.

Please visit these sites for more chances to win, the more you visit the more chances you have to win. We have 46 participating authors. You can stop at as many or as little blogs as you wish. At each stop, you will find either two chances to enter per blog to win some awesome prizes. If you visit all, that's 92 chances to win! There will be five, lucky winners.

Take the Blog Train and Visit These Blogs for more chances to win
Marci Baun/Kit Wylde Critters at the Keyboard Teresa D'Amario Judith Leger, Fantasy and Comtemporary Romance Author Writing The Fictional World of Jaime Samms Follow Where the Path will Take You The Wandering Mind of Lizzy P. Bellows Where Love and Magic Meet Kissa Starling Marianna Heusler Hell's Ambrosia C.M. Michaels The Shadow Portal The Blog Zone Blog By iMagine Ardyth DeBruyn Author Blog Shadows of the Past Dear Reader Cassie Exline -- Mystery and Romance Sarcastic Rambling & Writing That's What I Think Sue's Random Ramblings Make Old Bones Elements of Mystery Molly Dean's Blog Kenzie's Place The Forbidden Blog David Huffstetler Cassandra Ulrich Carol Marvell Andrew Richardson Nick Lloyd Fiddleeebod -- land of stories Nita Wick's Blog Ruth G. Too Poor for Texas Jenn Nixon City of Thieves Musings and Doodles Husein The Western Writer Bike Cop Blog The Character Depot Allen Currier Tracy Holohan

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tears of Heaven - Teaser

The SIG .45 was cradled in her left hand, and cupped by her lap.  It was aimed directly, she knew, at Ahadiel’s nose, her finger curled around the trigger.  She didn’t remember thumbing the safety off, but as she changed the focus of her eyes she could tell that it was.  Slowly, calmly, she pushed the safety on and slid the SIG under her right arm.

“Testing me?” she asked.  The rush of exertion overcame her, and she slumped back into her seat.  She needed sleep and nothing more strenuous than lifting a glass of absinthe.  In her current state, her right arm wouldn’t be able to manage even that.

“I came to offer you my touch,” Ahadiel replied.  He lifted perfect fingers toward her.

For a moment, she hesitated.  Ahadiel was more than simply a beautiful creature, he was perfect.  His skin flawless, and his body the epitome of trained and toned without being muscle-bound and cumbersome.  She could admit to herself that there was an attraction, if only physical, for her.  But that was not what Ahadiel meant.

“Don’t,” she said the word with as much command as she could muster, pleased that her voice didn’t crack.  She could feel the blood in her veins light on fire as she spoke the syllable.  Her body reacted to the thought of another conflict, though she knew she didn’t have enough energy left to fight.

Ahadiel looked from her hand to his, closed his fingers and dropped it to his lap.  Two perfect chocolate hands, almost good enough to eat.  If he’d been mortal, she’d have been well past tempted by now.

“I trust the rogue is banished?” Ahadiel asked, though it sounded more of a statement.

“Have I ever failed?” Del replied, her voice was tired again as some of the heat in her blood ebbed away.

“Yes,” Ahadiel replied.  “You have, and on more than one occasion.”

“Rhetorical question.”

“Such questions do not make sense to me.  You have failed, otherwise why approach the subject?”

“Go to hell.”

Ahadiel smiled, broadly, with perfect, brilliantly white teeth, the color they try to make them in toothpaste commercials.

“You asked,” his voice trailed off and his face lit up with his smile.  “Where is young Marrin?”

Del almost laughed.  The idea that Marrin could be called young was ludicrous.  It was like calling Mt. Everest short, or the Grand Canyon shallow.  While he was younger than Del, it was only by a thousand years or so.  In a lifespan such as theirs, that meant that he was the college-age nephew to her recently graduated, and now working in New York, auntie.

But it was not the same for Ahadiel.

To him, who had seen the First Light of the Creation, all things that did not date within a millennium of the Beginning were “young”.  He counted his age in eons, epochs.

“I sent him out for milk,” Del replied, and let the sarcasm show plainly in her voice.

“The Throne is pleased with your recent successes,” Ahadiel began again.

“Aren’t we all,” Del replied.  “I even cleaned my room and did all my homework.  Do I get an ice cream?”

“We would like to offer you another job.”

He said the statement simply, almost as if he was asking her to take a left at the next light.  As if she would accept and that would be the end of it.

“By ‘you’, I’m guessing you mean ‘you guys’ or the more proper ‘y’all’?”

“You have been more . . . successful since Marrin joined you,” Ahadiel replied.

“I don’t like him.”

“Yes, you do.  You like him very much.  You like him because, in this vast world, he is one of the few you can call kin.  You like him because he is younger, and in some ways less mature, less experienced than you.  You like that because it gives you the opportunity to teach.  You like to teach your skills, it has given you a sense of self and of generation, something forbidden you.  Also . . .”

“Fine, fine,” Del interrupted.  “I like him.  It’s you I hate.”

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Riddick - A Boy and His Dog

Way back in the year 2000, I saw Pitch Black, the first Riddick film in theaters.  It was awesome.  I was blown away.  Part of its awesomeness was because it wasn’t about a single character.  There were multiple stories being told, the characters had varying motivations, and while some had secrets, not everyone did.  Some of the characters were just folk who happened to be part of the story.  One of the characters, perhaps the most interesting, was Richard Riddick (Vin Diesel) an escaped convict and stone-cold killer with a literal shine to his eyes that lets him see in the dark.

How cool is that?

Turns out, for as bad as Riddick is, he actually had a moral code.  He’d kill you, but he’d have a reason . . . like you were breathing heavy or something.

Still, he was so cool that in 2004 he warranted his own film with a bigger budget: The Chronicles of Riddick.

It was mediocre at best. 

Amping up the already amped up character to epic amp levels (and beyond), the movie introduced so many crazy elements to Riddick that it was laughable.  Riddick’s eyes were genetic, not a “surgical shine job”.  Riddick was a child of prophecy.  Riddick was the last survivor of a whole race.  Riddick was the best fighter/killer, by several orders of magnitude, in the entire universe.  Riddick could throw lethal energy waves like a character from Mortal Kombat.

What the what?

Yeah, not so cool.

But the character had enough inertia from the first movie that maybe, just maybe, it could carry a third movie.

Enter 2013’s Riddick.

Instead of upping the ante (after conquering the entire galaxy I’m not certain where they would have gone), this movie returns Riddick to his roots, a desolate planet with lethal creatures and a band of mercenaries.  That’s all decent stuff, but the mythos of Riddick is still ratcheted to high, and the mercenaries are so cardboard you could package DVDs with them.  Katie Sackoff’s breasts are actually more interesting than her character.  The CGI dog that Riddick raises from a pup (over a period of a week or so) is more interesting (must be the Puppy Chow!).

I also found the ending to be rather “meh” worthy.  Better, by far, than the craziness that was Chronicles, but I was left feeling that writers had no idea what to do, and so they tacked on this awkward semi-resolution.  To make matters worse, neither Katie Sackoff or her breasts even make an appearance.  Where’d she go?  What happened there?  What the what!?

So yeah, that’s Riddick.  Here’s hoping that with even less money, they can make an even better film next time.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The World's End

Was it just me, or did anyone else find the very end of the The World's End both confusing and awesome?

Simon Pegg is pretty phenomenal.  The entire cast was awesome, and so great to see Martin Freeman (Watson/Bilbo Baggins)!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Tears of Heaven - Excerpt

The copper-tang filled her nostrils.

With a shark-like response, there was a rush of blood and adrenaline in Del’s ears that sounded like the ocean as it came in for high tide.  A red mist descended over her eyes.  She ceased to see as she normally did, catching only this or that as she focused her attention.  Instead, she saw everything from the general to detailed.  Her vision was that of a battle-lord for whom there was no other life.  The large picture and the minutia were thrown together, and sifted by a mind that was honed to the strategy of both the moment and the immediate future.  Large and small, Del knew the outcome of this battle even before she joined it.

The joy of it and the triumph soared inside her.

The absolute glory that was in her strength, her might, her power sang in her blood.

It was only small wonder that her cousins, the Nephilim of old, had sought to carve empires; smaller wonder that most of them succeeded.

Succeeded for a season.

Del turned the corner and sighted her prey.  She took in the entire scene in an instant, but didn’t stop on any of the details.  To do so might cause her to pause, whether in horror or fear or anger or sorrow.  Such emotions at this a crucial moment had killed better than her.

She had no intention to add to their ranks as the honored dead.

Two more steps and her SIG .45s came up in her hands.

They barked their greeting and threw fury at the rogue.

The first two bullets whizzed past the rogue’s head, only millimeters from the target and impacted on the concrete behind her, exploding as they ended their brief but fiery lives in a concussion of sound and shattered wall.  Del didn’t hesitate in correcting her aim, and sent three more bullets to thunder home, striking the rogue in the head, throat and chest.  Del moved forward as the rogue dropped behind the altar with a howl of pain.

From the right came robed figures.  Each was clad from toe to tip in a garish yellow, rendered more so by the obscene red glow.  Blades were produced from under cassocks and growls issued from out of cowls.

Del didn’t have time to aim.

She tried to shoot low, to wound without killing.  Her guns barked and spat fire.  Robed figures fell as scythed wheat.  Something big and heavy cracked against her back.  The blow wasn’t much, in her current state she barely registered any pain at all, but it distracted her enough that she paused.  A knife, wickedly curved and partially serrated, slashed through her thigh.  It cut cloth and drew blood.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dantooine? Do You Mean Tantooine?

Here’s a quick update on Tears of Heaven.

Book cover: my artist is awesome.  We have one concept completed and we’re close to finishing the second.  After that, it’s just approval and edits (which shouldn’t take long) and that piece is done.

Edits: I can’t say enough good things about my editor.  She has my book’s best interests at heart, and she’s willing to fight to my last drop of blood to get it there.  Trouble is, I’m not nearly as smart as I think, and despite the eighteen-thousand-five-hundred-and-forty-three different ways she’s tried to teach me certain concepts, I just can’t grasp it.

The more I tighten my grip, the more gray cells slip through my fingers.

But I promised her I would soldier on, and I’m doing that.

Still looking toward a release this fall!

Tears of Heaven 2013!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Favorite Quotes

I was editing Tears of Heaven and came across a lovely quote from Marrin that still makes me laugh:

“Well, in that case, I hope you like daytime TV and porno.”

Yeah, that's Marrin!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Synopsis and Reviews and Stars – Oh My!

An interesting discussion broke out on one of my Facebook author groups the other day.  For a wonder, it wasn’t all just authors promoting their latest work, their upcoming release, or the review they just got.  Being an author without the name Stephan King or George “RailRoad” Martin means that you have to make as much noise about yourself as possible, even to other authors.

But this discussion was based on a poll a group member did into the importance of reviews:  did they actually affect the outcome of a purchase, or was the synopsis more important?

Personally, I consider the synopsis another piece of marketing.  Its job isn’t just to tell what the story is about, but to tell you in such a way that you’re swayed into buying it.  Most genre literature doesn’t need to do too much to sell me, so even a mediocre brief about the story will probably sell me.

Next, I look at the reviews.  I don’t actually read the reviews, I just glance through the numbers.  Anything with fewer than 20 reviews I tend to shy away from.  I’m sure I’ve got 15 to 20 friends and acquaintances that if I ask (and bribe) will provide a review for me.  That doesn’t say anything about my abilities as a writer, it just says that I can function (sometimes) in society.  The only time I actually read a review is if it’s incongruent.  Twenty-three five-star reviews and a lonely one-star.  What’s up with that?  Gotta me some good gravy over there!

I can forgive an outlying review when I’m looking at a book, but they tend to be fun to read.  It’s usually someone who took issue with a character or plot choice.  Not something actually wrong with the storytelling, but a reader armchair writing.  I’m fascinated by these, in the same way rubberneckers are by a terrible accident.  I want to see what all the fuss is about!

Check out some of the awesome fuss over here at Leasthelpful.  There are truly some gems.

But if there is some legitimate gripping about a book, I want to know about it before I make the purchase.  Twenty-eight or two-hundred five star reviews paint a pretty picture, but an equal number of one star reviews frame the whole thing.  I’m sure there are a number of folk (one is a number) who have similar tastes to my own, and find some of the tired, clich├ęd tropes over-used.  I want to know that when I’m testing out a new author.

In fact, reviews are actually big business.  Both positive and negative reviews can have such an impact that authors and publishers are willing to pay, and pay well, for a certain numbers of reviews.

So if you want to help me, write a review when my book comes out this fall!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Second Cut

A few years back, I was doing weapon research (yay) for my book The Blood of Heroes when I stumbled upon a truly fascinating character: Tomoe Gozen.  She is regarded as one of the few samurai warrior women, wielding bow, sword and a sword-spear hybrid called a naginata.  

Ahh, those Feudal Japanese!

What little is known about her whetted my easily warrior-whetted appetite, and when that happens, I start writing. 

I completed a first draft of the story, but became distracted (probably by a squirrel) and never went back.

Well, good news everyone!  While waiting on the edits from Tears of Heaven, I’ve gone back to Tomoe Gozen’s historic fiction story The Second Cut.

I’ve always liked that title.  It references the infinitely harder version of seppuku (ritual suidide) called jumonji giri.  Where traditional seppuku involves the single slash across the stomach, jumonji giri, which translates as “cross-shaped cut” calls for a second, vertical cut.  Also, where seppuku allows for a sword-wielding second to cut the head from the samurai and end his suffering, jumonji giri has no such headsman.  The samurai is expected to bear the intense pain quietly and stoically, until loss of blood caused death.

Thus, performing the second cut is an order of magnitude or three harder than your run-of-the-mill seppuku.  In my book, Tomoe Gozen is given a task that could be likened to the second cut of jumonji giri.  But as a duty and honor-bound samurai, she will do whatever it takes to complete the task.