Thursday, October 29, 2015

Review and Revise

Thank you for your submission.

Unfortunately, I did not connect with the submitted material enough to consider your project for representation . . .

No, no, no, a-no-no, a-no-no, NO no!
Three or four years ago, talking about writing with an old high school friend, he agreed that if I started writing a new book, he’d read over it and give me scathing feedback.  He further said that a mutual friend of ours would be ideal to assist.  A beta team was born, and the book that I’ve always really wanted to write, Blood of Heroes, began to take shape.

At this time, I wasn’t published.  Writing Blood of Heroes, and feeling its power, prompted me to seek out an agent and a publisher.  I had two other books already finished—Tears of Heaven and The Second Cut.  The timing was amazingly good.  I’d reconnected with another writing friend, who was now an editor for Wild Child Publishing.  She kindly read over Tears of Heaven, offered me some pointers prior to submission, and suggested I submit.

The author, at his desk.
I continued to work on Blood of Heroes, which wrapped up with amazing speed.  I also set it aside in favor of other projects.  A number of short stories, a new book series called Constable of Aqualinne, and a follow up to Tears of HeavenHell Becomes Her.

In short, I was swamped.

Yesterday afternoon, the above rejection came in.  I have enough of these that I could wallpaper my house, so it wasn’t much of a shock.  I did, however, take a hard look at the first chapter of my "opus".  I realized, like the agent, I didn't find it compelling.

I’m not pointing fingers.  Or, if I am, I’m pointing them at me.

It seemed like such a good beginning.
I was younger(er) when I wrote Blood of Heroes.  In terms of published authors, I was but a mere babe lost in the library stacks.  To say I’ve learned a lot over the past three years as a published author is to say Kali Gandaki Gorge is a bit deep.  This particular rejection didn’t catch me off-guard, but in looking over what I submitted it became clear that getting past the first chapter, even the first page, is drudgery.

That’s death, even for the most solid piece of writing.

All this means is that I need to take some of my own advice (previously applied to my published works) and revise Blood of Heroes.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Just A Little Respect

“Respect isn’t given.  It’s earned.”

I completely agree with this statement with the caveat that we’re talking about individuals and their personal merits as they interact directly with me.

And the crowd goes respectful
If we’re talking about race or religion or socio-economic status, gender, or sexual orientation then no one should need to "earn" respect.  Respect should be a given based on their race, religion, or sexual preference, socio-economic status etc. out of the gate. Just as you or I shouldn’t haven’t to defend color, creed, gender, etc. others, other human beings, should be entitled to your respect as, you know, a decent, fellow being travelling on the same planet.  Until they, individually, prove otherwise and then, as FitzWilliam Darcy put it, “My good opinion, once lost is lost forever.”  For that individual alone.  We ought not commit the fallacy of generalization based on one person's or one small group's actions.  

I see no reason to mock someone before they've "earned" my respect because they're different. What would that serve?  A quick guffaw at the expense of someone else's self-esteem?  I like to think most people generally don't want to be challenged to prove their worth just because they're strangers who look different or believe different things. Racism exists because one group holds another to arbitrary standards based on generalizations. Racism has everything to do with not respecting the individual and extending that out to the group as a whole.

Or, as Neil Gaiman put it:
Respect the hair!
I was reading a book (about interjections, oddly enough) yesterday which included the phrase “In these days of political correctness…” talking about no longer making jokes that denigrated people for their culture or for the colour of their skin. And I thought, “That’s not actually anything to do with ‘political correctness’. That’s just treating other people with respect.”

Which made me oddly happy. I started imagining a world in which we replaced the phrase “politically correct” wherever we could with “treating other people with respect”, and it made me smile.

You should try it. It’s peculiarly enlightening.

I know what you’re thinking now. You’re thinking “Oh my god, that’s treating other people with respect gone mad!”

Welcome to the human race.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hell Becomes Her—Chapter 1 Preview

Now with 99% stronger, more independent
female characters!
Soon, very soon, Advanced Reader Copies of Hell Becomes Her will pass into your hands.  Del and Marrin and many other favorite and new characters will once again fill your mind with images of daring-do and snappy comebacks.

In the meantime, would you like to preview the book?

You would?


No, seriously, would you?

Great!  Look no further than this link right here.  That’s a lie, you have to scroll down and click on the “Preview It” button, but in the greater scheme of things, and from a certain point of view, you needn’t look much further.


HELL BECOMES HER releases November 19th, 2015

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Tomorrowland—Not Just a Ride Anymore!

We're gonna need bigger jet packs.
Back to the Future is now in our past.  The fan celebration of that fact, and the renewed interest in the film franchise, was almost as loud as the millions of voices crying out in online fangasm for another franchise about to take us, once again, to a galaxy far, far away—Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  It might be better called Star Wars: We’ll Make it Profitable but Please Don’t Let Us Down Like Lucas Did.  Anyone who doubts that this movie will be a success at the box office, no matter what the quality of the script or the acting, need only look at the numbers for the last Star Wars “failure”.

$848 million will buy a lot of beer.

If only that could be said of Tomorrowland.  Slightly ahead of all this excitement, I watched this epic film of epicness starring Britt Robertson and Raffey Cassidy.  George Cloony, Hugh Laurie and even Tim McGraw (as an improbably NASA engineer) are also along for the ride, but the real work is done by two amazing actresses.  Raffey, at the very least, deserves an Oscar nomination for her impressive efforts.  She’s certainly an actress to watch, and I swear invisible onion ninjas were doing their work as I watched her key scenes.

Pin of Awesomeness - +4 vs. Disillusionment
Above all, the greatest message this film delivers, like that of Back to the Future and Star Wars, the one that has touched me so much and made me a fan all in one fell swoop, is that inspiration is worth as much, if not more, than a working jet pack.  Whether it’s the nostalgia of going back to 1955, or a future of rocket ships and ray guns, the inspiration that these movies give is practically priceless.  If not for Star Wars Joss Whedon would never have conceived of the imminently superior Firefly/Serenity.  I was so affected by I ran out and purchased the new and old prop pins along with Brad Bird’s book Before Tomorrowland.  My wife was deeply disappointed, because this was one of the rare times she could tell I was deeply moved by a film AND she had an obvious gift she could give me.

There should be more Tomorrowland and they should release it yesterday.  Maybe this film was just aimed at me, as the clever little steampunk additions made my heart go pitter-pat.  Sadly, with the box office disappointment, that’s not likely to occur.
Yes, that's the Eiffel Tower launching an antique spaceship. 

Still, if you haven’t seen Tomorrowland, please do so.  It’s too easy to blow off as another Disney-ride-become-movie, a way for the Mouse House to milk its aging cash cows.  But keep in mind that this isn’t a third-string, straight-to-video effort.  Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol) wrote and directed along with Damon Lindelof (Lost, Star Trek: Into Darkness).  Bird even, respectfully, turned down directing Star Wars in favor of Tomorrowland because, “It's rare to do a film of size that's original, so those opportunities can't be missed either.”

The storytelling that goes on here is excellent, self-aware, funny and introspective.  This is not a science fiction film that phones it in by any means.  At one point, it does get a touch preachy, but since there is no partisan solution being offered, the aim of social awareness (which any film should strive for) can be forgiven.  In the end, the inspiration, the goal of finding “dreamers” in all walks of life, is a worthwhile one.

See it if you haven't already.  And if you have, see it again.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Git 'er Done!

The name of your target is—
Doctor. Jamie. McCandless!
Twelve years of grade school.
Four years of undergraduate school.
Six years of graduate school.

Roll all that up together and you’ll understand the feeling you have when your “little” brother becomes the first doctorate in the family.

Jamie has always been smarter than me (no real trick there), and that was never clearer than when he mapped out a path to his doctoral degree and proceeded to follow it to the very end.  Me?  I walked into college with no idea what a degree was or why I needed it.  I just knew I was supposed to have one.  Here’s the actual conversation with the student aid counselor as I was signing up for classes my freshman year:

“What’s your degree path?”
“Ummm . . . Communications?  That’s a path, right?”
[typing on the computer]
“Sure.  Which specific Comm degree?”
“Ummm, is Speech a thing?”
[more typing]
“You’re signed up.  NEXT!”

No exaggeration there at all.  Which goes to show just how far ahead of the game my brother is.


Monday, October 19, 2015

Cover Reveal—Hell Becomes Her

Hell Becomes Her, the latest book in R.A. McCandless’ Flames of Perdition series, releases Thursday, November 19th.  Here’s what all the fuss is about:

Angels should be a human’s worst nightmare. Del didn’t think there was anything worse than angels, or their fallen kin, demons. She and her partner Marrin helped to keep the world safe from the horrors of escaped demons for generations. But when Del’s daughter is kidnapped by a shadowy group, Del will find that the world is even more dangerous than she suspected.

There are worse things than angels and demons.

Book Release—Thursday, November 11th

The doors slid back exactly as they were supposed to, and Del pointed both her SIGs through the opening. She knew it was wrong. Two hands on one gun with a straight-thumbs hold was the correct way to give proper support to aim and shoot quickly and consistently. Hollywood liked to show action heroes shooting from the hip, or blasting away without aiming and taking down a room full of bad guys, whose best response was to fire impotently at the ceiling or comically into other bad guys. It was all so much useless eye candy. A gun in each hand gave support to neither and made it impossible to sight. She’d need independent use of each of her eyes, like a chameleon, to train the guns on different targets at the same time.

Del knew it was wrong, but it looked damned impressive from the receiving end.

“Hold your fire!” a voice commanded from outside the elevator. “Hold your fire!”

Del wasn’t certain if the order was for her, the two ranks of Ljosalfar soldiers in their body armor who surrounded the elevator, or both. Either way, holes weren’t being punched into her favorite skin and that was a good thing. She might still die, riddled with bullets and spitting blood, but not yet. Not yet.

She unwrapped and wrapped her fingers on her SIGs, and smiled.

“Hello boys,” Del said. “Who wants some?”

“Hold your fire!” Alfred Waru said again.

“Alfred, you cunning bastard,” Del purred. “Come on in and give me a hug. I’ve solved almost all your problems. There’s only one left.”

“I’d rather you put down your weapons,” Alfred replied. Del homed in on his voice from behind the second rank of soldiers, but couldn’t make him out through all the helmets. “We’ve locked the elevator. The doors won’t close, and the car won’t move. Let’s talk about this.”

“Talk about what?” Del said and laughed. “How you lied to your people?  How you betrayed and murdered your own?  How you’ve doomed them through your schemes and plots?”

Hell Becomes Her releases Thursday, November 19th 2015

Friday, October 16, 2015

HELL BECOMES HER—Welcome to Battle Mountain

Quiet, calm and peaceful on the outside . . . 
Northern Nevada has one of the smallest, most desolate towns in the entire nation kept alive by a strange combination of cattle ranching, farming and mining—Battle Mountain.  About a decade ago, it was named the official Armpit of America in a national search set to answer that question.  In the four-ish years I lived there, I learned to run, played ball, and  met some of my best friends.  It seemed only fitting to bring at least one of my stories back to a place that proved so influential on me:

The Bronco wasn’t much. A late 80s four-wheel drive with a lot of special “modifications” for use on the airfield, including only one working windshield wiper on the driver’s side. It didn’t have to be much though. The GPS on Jane’s phone said it was 6.4 miles from the airport to the center of Battle Mountain. They rumbled down into the dark, little town to its main drag, appropriately named Front Street. A giant, glowing Shell gas sign welcomed them, its yellow light cutting through the night, except the light on the “S” was burned out so that it read “HELL”.
“Seriously?” Del asked no one.
“Where to?” Marrin replied, as he navigated the semi-flooded streets, potholes, and mud.
“Don’t stop,” Del told him. “Go on through. Let’s see what we can see first. Get a lay of the land.”
They passed a few cars going in the opposite direction, headlights muted by the rain and dark of the storm, but there was nothing like traffic. Every store they passed was closed until they came to a block dominated by a brightly lit combination restaurant and casino—The Nevada Hotel Fun & Food—was doing a brisk trade. Every parking space in front of the single-story building and across the street was filled. People stood outside the entrance, clinging to the side of the building where the eves and overhang provided some protection from the rain, as if they were waiting to get into Studio 54. Del checked the digital clock on the truck’s radio. It read 3:10 A.M.
“That seem strange to anyone else for a weekday?” Jane noted.
“Yeah,” Del said. “Keep going.”
Battle Mountain boasted a single stoplight where Front Street made a T with
. . . rave on the inside?
Broad Street. Due to the storm, the light had defaulted to blinking red in all directions. They continued through and passed a defunct grocery, and a deserted motor inn called The Uptown. The entire town felt like it was on the brink of collapse, as if one good, economic crisis would end it all and everyone would close shop without bothering to board up the windows or even lock the doors.
“Pull in there,” Del said.
Marrin slowed and turned into the last hotel along the roadway, another motor inn called The Big Chief. He stopped under the portico in front of the office, turned off the lights, but left the motor running.
“What’s the play?”
“Base of operations,” Del said. “We have about two or three more hours before we’re supposed to arrive. Jane, you’re on transportation.”
Del reached into a zipper pocket of her pack, pulled out a small plastic bag of cash, mostly hundred dollar bills. She passed it to Jane.
“Ditch this truck somewhere it won’t attract attention. In a town like this, a vehicle stolen and recovered probably won’t illicit much excitement. Get us something similar though: SUV, four-wheel drive, reliable. After that, I don’t care what it looks like. Except pink. Do not get it in pink.”
“Sure,” Jane said. “I take it I’m also being ditched?”
“You are,” Del said, “but it’s not personal. You’re serving as back up.”
“That means we’re taking point?” Marrin asked.
“Right again,” Del replied. “You saw this town. Their main street isn’t exactly Grand Central Station. It’s mostly struggling, failing, or abandoned businesses except that casino and restaurant we passed. It doesn’t strike me odd that it’s succeeding. It strikes me odd that it’s packed to capacity during a heavy downpour on a weekday at three in the morning when everything but the sidewalks have been rolled up.”
“You’re sure you don’t want one more set of eyes on this?” Jane asked.
“Marrin is the extra set of eyes,” Del replied. “You’re in case we both miss something. Two hours. No more and no less. After that, you kick down all the doors and come get us out. I mean that. I don’t want to be tied up in a back room with my wrists all chaffed up because you decided to give us a little extra time.”
“Or a bullet in your head,” Jane supplied.
“Or that,” Del agreed.
Jane looked at her watch. “Two hours,” she said. “Let’s get to work.”

Cover Reveal—Monday, October 19th

Book Release—Thursday, November 19th

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

TEARS OF HEAVEN—Print Version!

Now Biff, I want two coats of polish on my draft this time!
Forget everything you know, or think you know, or even might have read on this blog.

Writing is easy.

It’s easily the easiest thing you can do, and the easiest of the easy ways to make money, win friends, influence people and achieve lasting fame.

Writing—If it were any easier they’d have to call it breathing.

Ten years ago, I finished a book—Tears of Heaven.  I wrote the last words, hit the save button, and sat back in a beautiful bliss of self-satisfaction that can only be duplicated under the care of medical professionals and strong narcotics.  After all, this was the novel that all publishers and agents were looking for when they had to settle for lesser authors.

Yeah, you deserve a break.
I had a story, from start to finish.  A compelling protagonist, an obstacle for her to overcome, a nice little narrative—beginning, middle, and end.  Some friends became enemies, some enemies became friends.  At the end the main character was richer from the experience!*

Two-and-a-half years ago, at the urging of my friend (and now editor) Shawn, I submitted Tears of Heaven to Marci Baun, owner of Wild Child Publishing.  Bells rang and trumpets sounded when I hit the send button.  The skies open, the heavens shouted and angels, literally, began to sing.


Yes.  Literally.

That’s how easy writing is.  You get an idea, you commit it to paper, you send it off to a publisher and you sit back while the fat cash and awards start rolling in and reviewers everywhere sing your praises.

The only thing missing from this scenario was a print version of the book and a new cover to go with it.  Well, friends, fans, and general acquaintances your wait (and mine) is now over.  My first novel will be in print and available for purchase from fine book retailers everywhere starting November 19th. 

Updated for your reading pleasure!

I’d like to say that this is the thrill of my life.  That’s I’ve fought, and scratched and struggled and begged and pleaded to get to this point.  That I’ve refined my craft, and taken my criticisms along the way.  That it was a bumpy, herky-jerky ride where at times it felt like three of the wheels had come loose and I was out of control on a mountainside road with a sheer fall of hundreds of feet just inches away.

I’d like to say that, but that’s not writing.  Writing is easy.  And it just keeps getting easier.

*Apologies to Stewie Griffin.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Big, Bigger, Most Biggest!

So big, they've got their own weather patterns!
There’s big news coming to this blog soon.

Big news.



The biggest.

Ok, ok.  The biggest to date, which given the announcements of new books and short stories, and successes of all kinds, should give you a general scale by which to measure this particular news.

News as big as your head!

But first, don’t forget to sign up for the Cover Reveal and $10 Gift Card Drawing!  You’ll also receive more thank yous than you’d think necessary!

Thank you for your continued support!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Bootstraps, Helping Hands, and You

If you like what I do,
And If you have a blog,
And if you’re willing,
Maybe, just maybe you can help me with:

It’s been a phenomenal week, and the hits just keep on rolling.  Even though the release of
These guys love it when fans come together!
Hell Becomes Her is a little better than a month off (November 19th, mark your calendars!), the cover reveal is coming.

Now is the time for all good readers to come to the aid of their author.  If you have a blog, any blog, and you’d like to give a struggling, poor, underpaid author a hand, please click on this link and fill out the form.

That’s it (for today).

You’ll be immediately entered to win a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card (winner’s choice).  I’ll provide a file with easy cut-and-paste HTML so all you have to do is click it and forget it.

In addition, anyone who provides their blog as part of the cover reveal effort will be welcome to an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of Hell Becomes Her as an additional thank you to the thank you that will come at the end of this post, as well as those that come at the beginning and the end of the email that you’ll receive.

That’s three or four ABSOLUTELY FREE thank yous!

So one last time, click on this link here, fill out the form, and feel satisfied that you helped out an author in need.

If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

How About A Date or Two?

It's time to start the music!
Your patience, ladies and gentlemen, has been more than appreciated.  An email from my editor came through yesterday and allowed me to share with you some rather exciting news.

Not all the news, of course, but some of it.  Here’s a drum roll for you to enjoy before you scroll down.

We have achieved dates:

Cover release for Hell Becomes Her will be Monday, October 19th!
Book release for Hell Becomes Her will be Thursday, November 19th!

There is more news to come, but I haven’t been approved to release it just yet.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Let Them Shoot Guns!

You can take our lives, but you'll never take OUR ANGER!
While some simple rules for arguing on the internet have made my life a happier, quieter, more fulfilling place, I still manage to find myself embroiled in a conflict or three from time to time.

Perhaps it’s my Scottish heritage?

Be that as it may, a recent discussion bore some interesting fruit that I thought worthwhile to share.  This can only be considered an invitation to argument if you meet the following three criteria:

1 – You actually consider me a friend.*
2 – You know exactly what my stance on gun violence/gun control is.**
3 – You live close enough that you can buy me a beer while we argue.***

I like and love a lot of you out there. However, I prefer the warm, contented feeling I get when I go to bed each night, free of the running conversation in my head about various arguments and issues.

You, however, are more than free to argue the night away with strangers on the internet who don’t know you, don’t care about your feelings, aren’t interested in your point of view, and likely come into a discussion with no notion of changing their pre-conceived notions.  If you really feel like getting your argue on with other people, here are a couple of nice sites that just might lend you a hand.

And this is the end I point at things I want to die.
Mass Shooting Tracker—Since 2013, this site has tracked mass shootings defined as “four or more people shot in one event.”  The site owners feel that most mass shootings don’t make the news because not enough people die to trigger the media feeding frenzy.  So if three people are shot, but only one dies, they still track it as a "mass shooting".

The Trace—This site was set up under the belief, similar to Mass Shooting Tracker above, that a lack of information is holding back solid reporting on gun violence in the U.S.  “We take it as our mission to address that information deficit through daily reporting, investigations, analysis, and commentary on the policy, politics, culture, and business of guns in America.”


*This post does not do that, and thus does not count.  Nice try!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Hook, Line and Sinker—First line, First Page

Well there's something you don't see every day.
Plot, characters, complexity—none of that matters on the first page.  What's important is to hook your readers.  The cliche is that you need a very good first line, but the truth is that if a reader has picked up your book (or read the synopsis enough to buy the ebook/download a sample) they're already invested and willing to give you some of their time.  Usually, a page at least.  So you have that much time to set the hook and start to reel them in.  Then, complexity and layers and characters can all do their work.

Here's a few things that I try to do with my first page (about the first 300 to 500 words:

1 - Establish my world.  Obviously, I'm going to need a couple ten thousand words to really build out the world, but I want to give my readers a real sense of what they're reading.  So, a steampunk books gets some steamalicious gears, or brass patina, or leather and tin goggles out of the gate—even if it's only in passing.

Tension!  Conflict!  Character!
Meet the Trifecta!
2 - Establish my main character.  The primary character, even if he/she later fades to the background or is subsumed by other character POVs, is introduced and the solid core of that characters is introduced on the first page.  Scoundrels are doing skullduggery.  Paladins are shining their white cloaks.  Harrison Ford is being a good man under extreme pressure.  You get the idea.

3 - Tension/Conflict.  You don't want your readers on the edge of their seat throughout the entire story, they need some breathing room every now and then.  BUT in introducing the book, there should be some kind of conflict, even minor and easily overcome, that will draw them in and keep the pages turning.  Witnessing an airship docking.  Winning (or losing) a high stakes poker game.  Being confronted by a police captain for a bust gone horribly wrong.  All of these create tension or establish conflict that will (hopefully) pique readers' interest.

It is me, or did it just get complicated in here?
Of course, you don't do these separately.  With 300 to 500 words to work in, you weave these elements together to create a tapestry of world, characters and tension.  With any luck, this informs your first line, and you've laid the bait, allowed the reader to nibble, and by word 301 (or 501) you'd set the hook so firmly that no matter how complex, layered or characterific your story, everyone is along for the roller coaster ride.

Friday, October 2, 2015

HOLES: An Indie Author Anthology

Yes.  Exactly like the movie.
Anthologies are fun.  Likely, they’re more fun for the authors than they are for the readers.  Readers only get to read the various gems that are to be found in every anthology.  Most anthologies are only bought for a couple of authors anyhow.

For the authors, it’s one of those rare times when a lot of like-minded folk, slaving and trudging away on the writing treadmill, can get together and show their battle scars (paper cuts) and laugh and sing and get drunk then finally get to that “crying-and-weeping-I-love-you-guys” stage before passing out and waking up with a lot of regret and more hangover.


Thus was born the Holes: An Indie Author Anthology.  The authors themselves tell it best:

Starting with the theme of holes of any kind, an international group of indie authors put their writing minds to work to come up a collection of stories that will make you laugh, cry, shudder in fear, and want to clap your hands. Inside you'll find stories about:

A twisted story about innocence and revenge.
A young woman racing for her life and her love against the age of clockworks.
A man who lost his life in a traffic accident and discovers the afterlife is being stuck in a classroom.
A young African schoolteacher who tackles a band of ruthless, marauding terrorists.
A Russian mobster who made a deal and thought he'd found a loophole to get out of it.
A cautionary tale about being careful what you wish just may get it.
A place where life disappears to when you're not watching.
A question about whether we are really the dominant species and masters of our own future.
A reader-interactive comedy of errors.
An anomalous client who will accept nothing but the best work, anything less will cost Paul his soul.
An Inspector Winsford murder mystery.
A legacy gift that just goes on giving.
Slapstick comedy with a touch of British buffoonery
A pretty tease who toys with her theology professor until dark revelations stop her in her tracks.
Some steampunk is steamier than others.

Some stories are full of sorrow, others full of joy, but all of them will leave you wanting more.

“Holes Full of Dark” was my particular submission and the bolded tagline above is mine.  It was originally called "Dark Holes Between" but that didn't make as much sense to me. This particular short story came out very well.  In general, I’m not a short story writer, and a lot of people suggested that this might be the start of another book.  Another steampunk book.  That’s entirely possible.  I’m working heavily in steampunk right now, slaving away over gears, and gadgets and large bags of gas [insert your joke here].

Anything is possible.  In the meantime, why don’t you check this anthology out?  The price is perfect for a weekend read!