Monday, November 30, 2015

Another Five Star Review for HELL BECOMES HER

Ien Nivens was the first to point out that my urban fantasy actually fell into an exclusive, and very cool, subgenre “angelpunk”.  It’s certainly not all halos and harps, the way steampunk isn’t all leather and brass (though they certainly help).  For some definition, enjoy my primer.

Angelpunk also sounds cool.

The same way Revenge of the Jedi sounded cool—and still does.


But I digress.  Nivens’ five-star review was such a lovely thing to read first thing on a Monday.  Enjoy:

No demons have been harmed in the making of R. A. McCandless’s follow-up to Tears of Heaven, but the same cannot be said of the celestials. It is entirely possible to read and enjoy Hell Becomes Her without having read the first novel in the Flames of Perdition series, but McCandless sets the character of lead Nephilim and die-hard contrarian Omedeliah “I told you, my name is Del” bar-Azazel so powerfully well in the first book that—do yourself the favor. Get both.

All Del wants is to get her daughter back safe and sound, but her usual slash and burn approach to problem solving will not advance her cause this time, but never fear; the fight scenes are more intense than ever. McCandless takes us on an inventive elevator ride into unexpected territory, exploring two new cultures that have blended and bunkered themselves into the austere Northern Nevada landscape in a bid to escape detection by the Throne.

Del shreds curtain after curtain to expose the motives and the means of a new enemy and displays a knack for diplomacy she is uniquely positioned to craft and deliver. But nothing is as it seems, nor as it seems to seem, in this surprise-laden, irreligious angel thriller, and his second volley advances the range of a genre McCandless seems determined to define on his own terms.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Turkey Day—2015

This year, 2015, I’m giving thanks:

I’m grateful to my family, near and far—You didn’t get to pick me, and we know that’s a good thing.

I’m grateful to all my friends around the world—You did get to pick me, and I’m glad you did.

I’m grateful to all my fans (friends, family and others)—You’re the reason I’ve had any success at all.

Thank you and happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Five Star Review for HELL BECOMES HER

And she loves steampunk too!
Seregon O’Dassey is one of those people you can’t make up.  I “met” her after she reviewed TEARS OF HEAVEN and her insight was very enlightening.  I’m not certain if you can overestimate O’Dassey, but you underestimate her at your own peril.  Actress, model and writer, she reads voraciously, thinks deeply, and I was honored that she read, and reviewed my work.

Of course, I offered her first shot at HELL BECOMES HER, and I wasn’t disappointed (thankfully, neither was she):

I got the first one - Tears of Heaven - for a Christmas present last year. They go in order. Usually a sequel isn't as good as the first one. Once in a while the sequel is better. This one fits into that category of being better.

I love Del. She's tough, cocky, independent, and doesn't put up with anyone's b.s. She's certainly not one of those dumb submissive pushovers that seem to be littering indie published books these days. She has, however, "calmed down" quite a bit since having adopted a kid (even if it wasn't 100% voluntary). She still has to take orders from on High, but when Jordan is kidnapped, Del and her partner Marrin have to deal with light and dark elves and Hell to get her back. Marrin, who's as easy going as ever, even if he still is a darn good fighter. Then there's Jane. I hate her. She's stupid, useless and as far as I'm concerned-a homewrecker. Here's Del's, Jordan and Marrin with their happy little family life, and in comes Jane who likes to sleep with Marrin, be depressed about not being able to have his kids b/c he's a Nephilim.

I mentioned that O’Dassey doesn’t pull punches right?  If something was sorely wrong with the plot or with a character (like Jane), I get called out for it.  Speaking of which, I especially love O’Dassey’s view of Jane.  In my mind she’s an interesting character, but her story really hasn’t been told yet.  So Jane is only cool in my head.  I may have made the mistake of overlooking her with all the doings in HELL BECOMES HER.  Sometimes the necessity of the story means that things gets dropped.

Hopefully, I can make up for that in the future!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Author Signing Excitement

Needs more Scotch!
There are many trappings of the Writing Life that can make an author smile.  Getting that first email of actual interest.  Signing the contract with your publisher.  Seeing the draft for the cover art.

I’ve done all these, and they still make my heart go pitter-pat.  Maybe someday, they’ll be more rote and can be taken for granted, but currently they’re still fresh and fun and exciting.

Author signings are also thing.  A thing that I haven’t done before.  A good friend of mine, Ashley, hit me up when I was gushing about the release of Hell Becomes Her and said, “You should come do an author signing at our comic book store.”

Oh.  Ok!

It makes me feel all grown up and stuff.  Like this whole writing for the past twenty-plus years wasn’t a quirky hobby that I did in my spare time.  It IS a quirky hobby that I do in my spare time, but the signing gives a bit of legitimacy that I can sell to my wife.  All that “research” I’ve been doing (aka reading books) and hours spent at my computer (definitely NOT playing Hearts or Facebooking) have actually paid off.

So, if you’re in the Southern California area, or if you’re going to be in the Southern California area, or if you just need an excuse to fly out, here are the details!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Boys and Mountains

Last night (after tears, time-outs, and songs) Xavi, with a very serious and mature face said:

“Daddy, I want to talk to you about my hiking mission.”

Yep, those are Xavi Tears.
My boys were off from school yesterday (and again today) and their sitter took them up Mt. Rubidoux.  It has a very nice, wide, paved pathway that meanders around the very short mountain to the top.  I used to run it as part of my training, and if memory serves, it’s just under two miles to the peak.  From the way Xavi and the other boys tell the story, it was nothing but laughter, fun and frolicking.

The sitter tells a slightly revised version involving, brides, tears, threats and pleas to any passing deities.
The "Giant's Sword"!

The key take away, from Xavi, “Dad, I touched the giant's sword at the top!”

Achievement unlocked.

Nooks and iPads and Kobos—OH MY!

They're big, and they're . . . big.
Amazon is the 800 pound gorilla in the room, so a lot of attention is paid to them over any other book retailer.  It can’t be helped.

Or can it?

For those of you bucking the tiger, standing against the rising tide, and otherwise playing Rebel Alliance to the Evil Empire, you my friends are in luck.

Nook readers, here's your Barnes& Noble link.
Kobo, love you guys.  Here's your travel orders.
PC/Other readers, head right through this door to my publisher.

Of course, I can’t forget the gorilla.  If you don’t feed him, he gets cranky.  So, if you’re like me, enjoying your Kindle, here’s the Amazon link.

Buy early.  Buy often.  They make great Thanksgiving turkey stuffers!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hell Becomes Her - Available Today!

Be careful what you wish for.  You wanted more Del.

You already know that 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, she’ll find that the world is even more dangerous than she suspected.

There are worse things than angels and demons.

“Let me help,” Jane said.

Del wanted to hit the other woman. She didn’t want help. She wanted Jordan. She wanted her daughter. She wanted to empty two full magazines into the smug, angular face of the bastard who took her, and let Jordan know nothing like this would happen again. But she was tired, weak and in pain. They’d taken Jordan, and she didn’t know who to hit or who to shoot. She wasn’t certain if she was capable of either in her current state. She started to wave Jane off, but the other woman’s strong hands slid under Del’s arms and took enough of her weight to help. Del was able to get into the nearest chair and sit somewhat normally in one burst of effort.

“Burning burning Hell,” Del swore again. “How long?”

“A little better than four hours,” Jane said.

“Damn it,” Del muttered.

Any time at all was too much. Four hours could put the attackers and Jordan on a plane and across the country by now. If it was a charter flight, or if the arrangements had been well planned, they could be on their way to anywhere in the world.

“Let’s get this over with,” Del said.

She pulled one of her SIGs and aimed it at Jane. She kept her finger off the trigger, resting on the guard. The mortal woman froze where she stood, slightly stooped over and uncomfortable. The concern on Jane’s face melted into anger and fear. Del didn’t care if the woman hated her right now. She gestured with the gun for Jane to stand up straight.

“Tell me,” Del ordered, “and be honest. Were you in on it?”

Jane tensed. “Are you serious?”

Del narrowed her eyes.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Another HELL BECOMES HER Excerpt

When something goes bump in the night, Del bumps back.
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.


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!”

You think you've had a hard day?
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?”

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Passing the Voight-Kampff Test

Rutgar Hauer made doves cry before it was cool.
Philip K. Dick (PKD to most fans) was wrong.

Dead wrong.

Right before he passed away, a loss to the science fiction and fantasy community, PKD predicted that Blade Runner would be a commercial success.  It was crushed beneath the science fiction juggernauts of E.T. and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  It barely covered its own creation.

Now, of course, it’s regarded as a science fiction, neo-noir classic with depth of world and characters that would have Captain Kirk shouting “Deckard!” so loud it would echo in space.  Ridley Scott’s film is such an incredible, undeniable film fixture that it has had several revised treatments on DVD/BluRay, and elicited no end of comments, discussion and controversy among fans over the key “unanswered” question of Deckard’s true nature

But that’s the thing about PKD, he was a big idea man who couldn’t quite connect with his readers.  His genius, and he was a genius, was in the conceptual design of stories.  He was fantastically creative.  Fantastically.  So much so that of his 44 novels and 120 short stories, adaptations have earned over $1 billion in total revenue.

But he was always shy of the mark as it applied to his readers.  For example, almost none of works carried PKD’s original title.  His titles were almost always changed by his editors before release.  PKD himself was remembered as having said that if he could have written good titles he would “have been an advertising writer instead of a novelist.”  

So as we consider the news from Ridley Scott that a sequel to Blade Runner is in development, let’s curb the idea that without PKD it’s doomed from the Tyrell Corporation starting gate.  The writer himself, in expressing his delight over the first film, wrote:

As for my own role in the BLADE RUNNER project, I can only say that I did not know that a work of mine or a set of ideas of mine could be escalated into such stunning dimensions. My life and creative work are justified and completed by BLADE RUNNER. Thank you . . . and it is going to be one hell of a commercial success. It will prove invincible.

PKD himself was amazed at what Scott and his team had done in adapting his original work,
How can Deckard not know what he is?
 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.  He knew his core story was there, the bones were good and worthy of the adaptation, but the clever nuance and visual effects that helped create the world were only mentioned, if at all, in passing by PKD.  He knew that Ridley Scott had stood on the shoulders of his story, saw further than the author, and captured that vision for audiences.  

This is true of many PKD works that have been adapted.  Just like George Lucas, the better stories are those told by others who can connect PKD's ideas with audiences.  PKD may have been initially wrong about the movie being a “commercial success”, but he was certainly prophetic that it would “prove invincible”.

It has.

It will again.

Monday, November 16, 2015

In the Wake of Tragedy

This was supposed to be the week that Hell Becomes Her received a full court press of marketing and effort.  After events around the world were punctuated this weekend, I can only summon up sorrow and heartache.

If you think Paris is bad, looking around the world will ruin your day a little more with Lebanon and Kenya , just to name a few.

Just to name a few.

What a horrible sentiment.

There are so many tragedies around the world and in our own backyard that it’s nearly impossible to be aware of them all, let alone express the appropriate level of sorrow and anger that should be warranted.

It’s not like humans only recently started being assholes to each other.  Hate-fueled murder and genocide is not new at all.  Paris is garnering a great deal of media for a series of reasons, but chief among them, for me at least, is that it's a punctuation, an exclamation point, on just how evil people can be when forwarding an agenda of hatred and bigotry.  On the other side, conspiracy theorists are already using the Paris tragedy to their own twisted ends.  Social media is rife with people hating on people for various political reasons.  

The ones that grieve me the most are those who are mocking and denigrating the empathy being shown.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Better yet, let that be the closing remarks.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Traditional v. Self-Publish—TLDR Version

So, you wanna be an author?  Alright, here the first thing you do.  Open your front door, place your hand on the jam and then slam it six or seven times.  That’s the kind of pain you’re about to embark on, only every day, every rejection, every missed opportunity, every hour spent writing and not with your friends.
Advice I Never Got, R.A. McCandless

Still with me?  Groovy.  Now let’s talk some publishing—traditional versus self-publishing.
Presidential Flash Cards!
  There are literally a ga-jillion (I did the math) articles out there already discussing this topic at great length and in great depth.

For the TL;DR version, here’s where you should start:

Money, Money, Money
Yog’s Law tells us that money should always flow toward the author.  That’s a great rule of thumb when applied to the traditional publishing machine.  You should never, ever, never pay a publisher to publish.  That’s not your job.  That’s theirs.  If they do their job, everyone (theoretically) makes money.

It may not be much, but it’smoney.

Self-publishing, however, is a different animal. Yog's Law does not immediately apply, and here's why.

Writing ain't like dusting crops!
Publishing Ain’t Easy, Kid
If you're doing it right, then it's a TON of work and effort. Like any art form that is worth buying, you have to know what you're doing, craft a solid product, ready it for market, and then get it in front of the right people at the right price.

If you're self-publishing, you take on the burden of all that yourself. You'll need to find a good, solid, reputable editor who can help you whip your brilliance into shining glory. You'll need a copy-editor who can give your work a good scrub for grammar and spelling. You'll have to get the work ready for publishing then push it out to the retail stores.  You'll have to pay the cover artist for the artwork.  Seriously, pay a cover artist—unless you’re aiming to make a “worst” list

A traditional publisher should make most of that easy—or at least easier. That is they should
Confused yet?
provide editors who help polish your story and clean up the typos and grammar.  You should get a strong graphic artist who can provide a solid, viable, marketable and story specific cover.  Your publisher should also do some marketing as well.  You’ll still be expected to do most of the heavy lifting, but a good publisher should point you in the right direction to market. For doing all that, they take a cut of your sales.

Decision Time

There is no right or wrong answer for which direction to go. There is a right and wrong way to go about it.  Cutting out editors or graphic artists or marketing properly and across media are all perfectly acceptable if writing is just a hobby.  If you want to be a professional author, what you should consider is the time, effort and potential cost v. benefit that you will have to put into traditional publishing OR self-publishing to make your decision.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

One Week - Hell Becomes Her

It's been one week since you looked at me
Cocked your head to the side and said, "I'm angry."
Five days since you laughed at me saying,
"Get back together come back and see me."
Three days since the living room
I realized it's all my fault, but couldn't tell you
Yesterday you'd forgiven me
But it'll still be two days 'til I say I'm sorry
One Week” Barenaked Ladies

One week.

One week to glory.  One week to failure.  One week to nail-biting angst.
She's gonna need a bigger sword.

Ultimately, it’s one week to the kick-off of another intense, near-constant effort of marketing and promotion that is heartbreaking, enjoyable, and heavy lifting effort for Hell Becomes Her.

The cover is revealed.  The pre-orders are growing.  The ARCs are out and being reviewed.  There’s really not much more to be done, except line up the near relentless, bringes of tweets, blog posts, and start the process of begging readers to buy the book.

You, also, can buy the book.  You’re exactly who the book is for.

Thank you!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tears of Heaven—Print Version Cover

If you’ve always wanted to show off that you know an author, but couldn’t point to the book on your shelf, let me solve that problem for you right now.  In just a few short days, eight to be exact, Tears of Heaven will release for the first time in print.

 November 19th will also mark the release of the second book in the Flames of Perdition series, Hell Becomes Her.

Monday, November 9, 2015

4.5 Stars—Christopher Taylor Review

What this scene needs is more win!
Special thanks to author Christopher Taylor at Kestral Arts who provided this very kind review of Tears of Heaven:

This is R.A McCandless' debut novel, an urban fantasy with flashbacks to ancient times tying the story together through history.

The world he has created is a fascinating, unique one taking aspects of Biblical narrative and turning them into a fantasy setting in which the Nephilim (half-angels) still walk the earth, immortal and incredibly powerful. They serve The Throne, the creator, working to fight and destroy either "rogues" (essentially demons, fallen angels) or fellow Nephilim who have broken the rules.

Tears of Heaven follows one such Nephilim named Del (for short) who is millennia old, having been born a few hundred years before Christ. She is essentially an assassin for heaven, given missions by angels and working to teach a somewhat younger Nephilim the tricks of the trade. Angry, bitter, frustrated, and harsh, she is still likable, but difficult to get close to.

In a series of alternating storylines, Del's past and the source of her growing animosity toward the world is revealed, and this first book does an excellent job establishing the strange, yet familiar world she lives in.

Well-written and well-plotted, the book has a satisfying arc of events and characters that lacked any absurd contradictions or failures in logic and events that so many modern books fall prey to. There is a sequel on the way which will continue Del's story, which I look forward to.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Writing, Movies, Feminism, and Beautiful Spirals

I ride a dragon now.  Dragons are cool.
Fiction and fantasy are really reflections of our world, only better. Even dark fiction or dystopias tend to hand us heroes who rise up above the blackness and are able to make choices that sort out the good guys from the bad guys—they can decipher good and evil, right from wrong. That’s not always true in our own world, and so it’s quite a relief to sit back and be transported to place where considerations over extremism, and Ebola and politics aren’t realities. Or, if they are realities, they’re going to be handled, in one way or another, by the characters.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow,
and tomorrow!
We also learn the most from stories, as examples of how to behave, or how we want to behave. When confronted with similar situations, while we can’t use magic, and probably shouldn’t use violence, we still look to our heroes for a means for how to act. How would Moraine or Kvothe or Hermione, or Aragorn, or Katniss deal with this particular scenario? Fantasy and fiction provide us with multiple perspectives for dealing with the realities of our own day-to-day lives.

As Tomorrowland told us, “Every day is the opportunity for a better tomorrow.”

I didn’t look around and start writing strong, independent female characters because I wanted to take a stand on feminist issues. I don’t know how, but my parents raised me to believe that everyone was equal, or at least deserving of equal treatment. It wasn’t one conversation, or one event with my parents.  It was the whole process, how they interacted with me, my siblings, their friends—how they lived their lives—that instilled the idea that the way I buttoned my pants didn’t automatically give me any privileges.  At the same time, I recognize that women around the world are not treated equally:

I am a feminist.

I think everyone should be.

Portraying women as something other than a pretty damsel in distress adds to the conversation. That doesn’t mean I denigrate men to raise up women. That’s also the wrong message to send.

Go ahead.
Say "chainmail bikini" one more time.
It's a process. In my earlier writing, I felt that if women were physically stronger, that would be enough. But that's just a superficial view.  By that I mean, that's how I wrote female characters. Simply physically stronger.

That's overly simplistic.

It’s not fiction’s or fantasy’s job to right all the world’s wrongs.  But we can be part of the discussion, and we certainly should be.  We're only one voice, on thread in an enormous social tapestry, but fiction writers can view problems, or see potential improvements years or decades into the future and present them as science fact. Even if the result is a far-fetched or impossible outcome, that doesn’t remove the potential for inspiration on many levels. If you ask astronomers, physicists, rocket scientists, etc. what inspired them, you often get back some science fiction or fantasy show or writer that caught their imagination and prompted them to pursue a career in that particular field. In return, the science that is developed, inspires new writers.

Inspiration and change spin outward in an often beautiful spiral.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

HELL BECOMES HER - Available for Pre-Order!

November 19th is closer than you think, but if you’re worried the lines at the local ebook retailer will be out the door then I’ve got a solution for you.

That’s right.  Don’t bother going out in the cold and the dark and the weather.  Stay inside where it’s warm, curl up on the couch with your favorite blanket, a cup of Oolong tea, and wait for the interwebs to deposit this book on your reader.

It’s so simple.  It’s so easy.  Why not do it today?

Monday, November 2, 2015