Friday, May 30, 2014

Just Sign Here

Totally worth it.

“How do I get an autograph of your book?”

I’d like to claim that this question comes up hundreds of times a day from all over the world.  In fact, for our purposes today, that’s going to be my claim.

Hundreds of times a day.

All over the world.

Until yesterday, I didn’t have a solution, as Tears of Heaven is still in ebook format.  (I need to sell another 150 digital copies for it to go to print.  Any wealthy or semi-wealthy sponsors out there?)  Until yesterday, I also didn’t have a Twitter account (@RobRoyMcCandles).

But yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away.  Now, I have both.

The solution is  At least for the time being.  You can go there directly, and buy Tears of Heaven and request an autograph and personal inscription from me.  You'll actually purchase the book through Amazon, but I understand the They’ll send you the book and the inscription, yours forever.  Or until the Singularity.

So, there you have it.  The answer to all yours questions.

Once Upon a Twitter

Fortune and glory, kid.

I’ve always considered myself something of a modern Luddite.  Except for the video games, I saw no reason to have a home computer.  I thought that CDs were a definite waste of money over cassettes.  I even touted the benefits of VHS tapes long after DVD had made its obvious impact.

I wouldn’t say I’m a technophobe, per se.  But I’m not early adopter.

Dems fightin’ words.

But today, after much cajoling by my editor, friends, fellow writers, and even agents, I finally gave in and Tweeted my first Twit to the Twutter-verse.

It went out to all of no one, and I hope my followers from MySpace and GeoCities have an easy time finding me.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Tons of Times - The Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

I don’t like to be wrong.

In fact I’d rather not be wrong WAY more than I want to be right.  That is that I would prefer to not make statements that are demonstrably incorrect or unsupportable.  Opinions are one thing, this is quite another.

The problem with this is that I’m unusually naïve for a man my age.  Some parts of my naiveté are self-generated.  I wouldn’t watch the television show “Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed” because I enjoy the illusion of magic.  Knowing how it’s done would spoil one of the great joys in my life. I won't even post a YouTube link to the show because I don't want to spoil you either.

But that's different.  There is also a de facto agreement between the magician and I.  I’m paying him/her to entertain me, I’m agreeing to be “tricked” by the illusions that he/she has worked and trained and practiced so hard to learn.  I'll make the attempt to see, while in the audience, how the trick is done, but I'm not out to actively ruin the evening.  I don't heckle comedians or break the legs of clowns either.

Well, not while they're working.  Clowns that owe you money have to be treated like everyone else.

Unfortunately, in other areas, say the internet, that agreement is completely one-sided.  There are folk, some innocently and others maliciously, who are trying to trick you and me and everyone else, into believing that certain false information is actually true.  Some are trying to make money, others are just trying to have a good laugh at our collective expense.

This would normally be where my naiveté becomes a burden.  Any number of Nigerian Princes and Ethiopian Orphans have attempted to make me rich beyond my wildest dreams for the barest of effort.  I'll admit, being rich sounds nice, and those poor orphans and princes sound like they've had it rough.

Enter  This site was introduced to me when a friend of mine pointed out that an email warning I’d forwarded was actually incredibly old and no longer valid.  Have I mentioned I don’t like to be wrong?

I was embarrassed because I’d propagated misinformation and essentially spammed all my friends with it.  This was not, of course, my friend’s goal.  He just wanted to share with me what the actual truth was.  He also, inadvertently, taught me an important lesson: if it sounds fantastic, it probably is.  It’s become one of my first rules for articles I read on the internet.

So when a friend, Dave (not Dave's real name), posted up a video of how to make Mountain Dew glow like a glowstick using baking soda and hydrogen peroxide I was at first thrilled!  My boys would LOVE to do this kind of thing, and my wife, who is a scientist and teaches chemistry, would think it was really cool.

Then, the rule kicked in, and I immediately went to only to find out this wasn’t true.  Sadly, I shared this news with my friend, who was equally disheartened.  One post later, Julie (not Julie's real name) told me that not only was I wrong about the Mountain Dew glowstick, but itself had been “wrong more times than I can count.”

I’ve heard that charge leveled a couple of times before, but never really peered into’s level of accuracy.  So, I did what I should have done the first time I heard the accusation, and started digging into  I couldn't find very much that supported the claim.  There is this email/article which made the rounds back in 2008 during the election, and seems to show up (like all good urban myths) updated every so often.  But it’s been wholly debunked itself by none-other-than and number of others (you can run the same “snopes is wrong” or “snopes got snoped” searches that I ran).

From what I could determine, applies a kind of scientific model to their research and, as any good scientist or amateur journalist, are in a constant state of verification.  They present the findings of their initial research, but when they’re presented with new information, they double back on the research and re-present the updated findings.  So they've technically been "wrong" in the past, but not out of a lack of effort or maliciously.  The National Review even published an article “Where Urban Legends Fall” where they described as “the ultimate debunker”.  The article even provides this lovely quote:

. . . folklore professor Jan Harold Brunvand, probably the top academic specializing in pop-culture myths, told me it's a big reason he's never bothered setting up a site of his own. “They have it all there,” he said, “so I will just stick to writing books.”

I dunno, when an expert on urban legends himself gives a site the okey-dokey, that seems like quite an endorsement.  Of course, that shouldn’t put paid to the question of’s validity.  This is, after all, the age of the Internet.  A site aggregating stories and presenting findings does not make for the final word on the subject.  But that is what's great about—they don't claim absolute omniscience.  They aim to debunk OR confirm widely circulated stories.  They are out to tell you if something is true or false based on, as far as they can, a reasonable level of research.  This means that is certainly an excellent place to start to discussion about the validity of Mountain Dew’s glowing attributes.

It's also a great way for me to not be wrong.  And if you really want to make Mountain Dew glow, this video will help you do it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Grenadiers and Dragon's Fire - Part II

Back in April, I posted a draft of the first page for Grenadiers and Dragon’s Fire.  It’s a steampunk-themed story with just a bit of fantasy thrown in for fun. Depending on how you butter your bread,  steampunk is a subgenre of either fantasy or historic fiction (or both) with a retro twist.  I’ve finished up the story, and here’s the final version of the first page.


Screams crossed the sky, spitting sparks and fire until they slammed into the lower slope of Bourgogne Hill.  Explosions erupted a moment later with a shower of dirt, bloody limbs and two unfortunate Imperial soldiers.

“Lieutenant!” a voice screamed down the line.  Panic broke the soldier’s voice.

“Don’t you move,” Lieutenant Aubrey Hartmann yelled back.  She didn’t use his name.  There was no need to shame him when everyone was equally scared.  “Don’t you dare.  Keep your heads pressed into the dirt until you’re kissing rock.”

The Imperial advance had been stymied.  Their right flank along the wide River Raglan was covered by a combination of air platforms and naval ships of the line.  The heavy and light guns had made it impossible for the enemy, the Glorious Republic of Hamill, to mount a counterattack and encircle them on that side.  But on the left, they’d needed at least a division to hold the wing.  The support came from the Light Division under Sir Heinz de Lutz.  The Light Division had angled as they came up Bourgogne Hill, straight into Aubrey’s company and half of the 4th Division.  De Lutz either hadn’t realized it, or hadn’t seen it in time.  The mix of the two divisions was now such a thorough jumble that they’d lost any cohesion.  The officers had halted the Imperial advance and were trying to divide the two divisions.  The Hamills had taken advantage of the confusion and started the mortar bombardment.

Another volley screamed over her head.  The Hamill cannons had a poor angle from the top of the fortified redoubt.  Their mortar crews, on the other hand, had nearly perfected the range.  Aubrey took her own orders to heart and pressed her body against hill’s hard-packed dirt and scrub.  She turned her face left to breathe.  Sergeant Simmons looked back at her and gave a grin.

“I hate you,” Aubrey said.

Simmons grinned wider.  The mortars began to scream and fall again with explosive roars.  The Sergeant said something to her, but it was completely lost in the noise.

Overhead, two Imperial air platforms thundered into position, their bulky Simm-Daimlers driving them into position and holding them in place.  Some of the soldiers called them airships, but that was incorrect.  They were nothing more than a flat platform slung under a dirigible frame, crowded with two mounted guns, five crew members, and the stinking, smoking, thunderous engines.  They couldn’t travel any real distance without support for refueling and riding on the platform was uncomfortable for any length of time.  Even with all their faults, the looming presence of the air platforms made the heavy mortars stop.  The Hamills had learned early that most of their light firearms couldn’t reach the air platforms or do more than superficial damage to the dirigibles’ battle membrane.  Exposed mortar and cannon crews were a target for the air platform gunners operating the two mounted Agar repeating guns.  The twin guns on each platform started their tat-tat-tat of sustained fire.  Every tenth shot was a Fae-spelled tracing round that drew a blue streak through the air as it lined down to the target.  The Fae didn’t participate in human wars, but they liked to dabble.  They enjoyed the little mischiefs they could cause.  Those mischiefs, like the tracing rounds, made the air platforms deadly accurate in seconds, rather than spray-and-pray from the early days.

I don’t have a definite release date for this anthology.  I’m told it’s this year, so stay tuned for more information.