Monday, December 30, 2019

Deborah J. Ross Review and Interview

Deborah J. Ross reviewed THE CLOCKWORK DETECTIVE and apparently liked it:

The last couple of years have brought a slew of wonderful steampunk adventures with resourceful, kick-ass heroines, and this one by McCandless is a worthy addition. Aubrey Hartmann is a veteran of recent war, having lost the lower part of one leg, and now works as a constable. Her prosthetic is a clockwork device that needs to be rewound regularly and isn’t a perfect fit but does keep her mobile, if in pain. As a result, she’s become addicted to laudanum (opium). Her current assignment involves investigating the murder of a druwyd (druid, local witch-doctor holy man) in a little town near the Fae-ruled Dark Wood. Here is where the world-building of The Clockwork Detective sharply deviates from the usual Victorian gears-and-whistles steampunk. Magic is not only real, it’s part of everyday life, and the human wars are overshadowed by the possibility of a terrible conflict with the Fae.

She then reached out to me for an interview:

Here I chat with the author about his inspiration, his future projects, and his advice for aspiring writers.

Deborah J. Ross: Tell us a little about yourself.  How did you come to be a writer?

R.A. McCandless: I came out writing, which was a weird delivery for the doctor. But really, I found myself telling stories early in grade school. We'd have assignments to write a complete sentence using a set of vocabulary words, and I'd get bored with that. Instead, I'd use the words to tell a short story. From there, it was only a short jaunt to writing my own stories.

Dragons are one of my chief inspirations. I've only included one once, in a short story. But any world where dragons can conceivably exist—please and thank you! That's almost any fantasy or science fiction story, which creates a broad palette for me to enjoy. From there, it's a hop, skip, and a wardrobe journey into another world that I'm fascinated to start exploring and sharing.

Thank you so much for the opportunity Deborah!


Friday, December 20, 2019

Ringing Out 2019

Did someone say "steampunk"?
Happy Holidays! Seasons Greetings! All that Jazz!

I received an early present from Chanticleer OZMA Book Awards that I wanted to share with everyone. It won’t spoil your festivities!

In the award category for Fantasy Fiction (there’s a sub category for steampunk) THE CLOCKWORK DETECTIVE has made the first cut. I'm out of the "slush pile" and in the running for a major award.

A MAJOR award!

It’s not winning, but after a couple of months of riding the author roller coaster, this was a really nice edification of the work I’ve done. THE CLOCKWORK DETECTIVE is a story that I’m very proud of, and I’m over-the-moon that it’s been recognized as worthwhile. Of course, I’d love to win the award, but just to have made the initial cut as a work that deserves more consideration is a very good feeling.

This might be my last blog for 2019, so here are my wishes for each and every one of you:

Whatever fills you with wonder and good cheer, whatever you find full of meaning and worth, whatever brings you happiness: May it be yours this holiday season and throughout the coming year.

Also, also—thank you for your support. Thank you for all your kind words, your thoughtful wishes, your likes and shares. Thank you for putting up with me begging and pimping my books. Thank you for helping me be a success.

I’d take you all out for teppanyaki if I had the time and money!

What award are you most proud of?
Tell me in the comments below!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Happy Holidays 2019

Date Night.

Seasons greetings to all friends and family!

This was a particularly glorious year, what with all the new book covers, the new books, and the new opportunities. It feels like, for the first time, I might actually have a shot at this whole “author” thing.

Funny story—I tease my boys about everything. I especially highlight when they’re doing good things at school, music lessons, sports, etc. My middle son received some very high marks from his Spanish teacher on his language comprehension and vocabulary, and I started to tease him when he shut me down:

Me: You’re “learning”!?  Learning is NOT allowed in this house. Especially not language!
9yo: That’s not true at all, because you’re an author. You love language!

He may have sat in on one too many of my debate practices! Done in by my own son!

The year may be ending, but the opportunities never stop. This is a little preview for an offer we’ll be making at the start of next year. I have an uncounted (not uncountable, just currently uncounted) number of back issues of the first two Del books: TEARS OF HEAVEN and HELL BECOMES HER. The story is all the same, but the covers are different. I’d like to clean these out, so I’m only dealing with the current versions.

I'm not sure what the offer is going to be, but it should be pretty good.

All that is to say, STAY-TUNED for a unique offer for the new year. The best way to do so is to join my monthly newsletter, where we share this information first, but you can also roll the dice and hope that I remember to update my blog!

What exciting thing do you have coming up? Tell me in the comments below!

Monday, December 9, 2019

Del's Success by the Numbers

Not Rob's actual tree.

A couple of really nice things happened last week.

We put up the Christmas tree. My youngest had been on us for a couple days to get the tree decorated, mostly because his aunt had sent a gift to be opened “when decorating the tree.”  Less to actually get ready for the holiday, and more to make the 7-year-old shut up about it. But yeah, also the holiday thing.

Unfortunately, two of the pre-lit strings no longer light.  That said, replacement LED lights aren’t expensive these days, so we’re just a Prime delivery away from correcting that.

There was tons of fun to be had while TEARS OF HEAVEN was offered for free. I hit some of my best rankings of all time and became an Amazon Best Seller. Here are some more numbers which are pretty nice:

Total copies "sold": 618
Highest ranking overall: #377

TEARS OF HEAVEN, HELL BECOMES HER, and COMPANY OF THE DAMNED all remain free for Kindle Unlimited readers. For a dude from Bountiful, Utah, that’s a pretty good showing.

AnachroCon sent me my acceptance letter. There are still some details to be worked out, but for now mark your 2020 calendars for Valentine’s weekend, February 14th through the 16th. More details are sure to follow.

What holiday traditions did you renew this year?
Tell us in the comments below!

Friday, December 6, 2019

Amazon Best Seller


My sorta-kinna pseudo PA but really my friend, Jenn Nixon, has been working with me for the past six months. I love, love, love working with her. She pointed me at Ellysian Press when I was looking for a home for THE CLOCKWORK DETECTIVE, and she’s been in charge or a lot of my day-to-day marketing stuff like newsletters and finding freebie or low-cost advertising blogs and whatnot.

She’s been pushing both my steampunk and my urban fantasy book, and while marketing is never easy, she certainly makes it look like it’s a breeze. Steady sales for a small press author are always a good thing.

About two months ago, we decided to do a thing.

We decided to make the ebook version of TEARS OF HEAVEN free for this week. 

There were a lot of good reasons for this, and top of the list was you folk reading this now.
This was as a thank you to all the people who had supported me, bought the book in its previous incarnations, and maybe didn’t have this most current one. This was for all the people who supported me, but couldn’t swing the purchase just yet. This was for all the people who’d thought about buying the book, but weren’t quite ready to take a chance on an unknown, small press author.

That thing seems to have worked.

This morning, when I logged in, Jenn was already “squee-ing” (literally) about the ranks. I also squee-ed all over as well, much to the annoyance of some of my early morning co-workers. You’re welcome to squee or not to squee:

#31 in US
#13 in UK
#7 in Australia
#1 in CANADA!

My mother has always loved Australia!
Now, granted, this is in the "Top 100 Free" category. No one is backing up a dump truck full of cash to my house. But, this does mean a few hundred downloads have been made. If even a percentage of those folk like what I do, I may have made some new fans who will pick up the other books in the series, and even follow me over from urban fantasy to my steampunk world.

I also can never, ever, never say enough good things about Jenn. She's a helluva writer, she's been a wonderful pseudo-PA, helping, guiding, and helping. If you're looking for some marketing assistance, she has extremely reasonable rates, and she's an incredible advocate.  And seriously, her rates are EXTREMELY reasonable. I wouldn't be here without her. Seriously, look her up!

The freebie ends tomorrow at midnight.  Well, 11:59 PM to be exact. So it’s possible that I’ll see some better numbers over the weekend.  But these are the best numbers I’ve EVER seen, and that’s thanks to everyone who has ever even looked my way.


What unexpected “good thing” has happened to you recently? Tell me in the comments below!

Monday, December 2, 2019

We Won! We Won!

In the money, BABY!

Two really big things to report this blog, so we’ll go with those:

1. Update on the cover art contest!

2. TEARS OF HEAVEN free download!

First—YOU DID IT! I asked, and you answered. COMPANY OF THE DAMNED won third place, and that was in the money! You guys gave me 513 votes—FIVE-HUNDRED—and that’s amazing. Second place was at 754 votes and first was at 763 votes. Given the level of effort to stay in the running, I’m more than pleased with the finish, and I really appreciate your help. More than that, I appreciate your patience putting up with my constant requests for another and another and yet another vote!

I wish I could thank all of your personally.

In a way, I can!

So, second—TEARS OF HEAVEN will be offered for FREE digital download from Amazon starting Tuesday, December 3rd running through Saturday, December 7th. It’s not exactly a Black Friday sale, but it is certainly free, with no obligations whatsoever. Just a thank you to everyone who has ever helped, wanted to help, or even thought about helping me out.

That’s right. For a brief time, we’re making the first book in the series available for FREE download. Obviously, the idea is to make it a gateway to the rest of the books, and my other books, etc. But also, this is a lovely present for everyone who has supported me over the years. If you don’t have a digital copy, now you can!

Thank you for helping me succeed in 2019!

What was your favorite book or movie this year?
Tell me in the comments below!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Final Round—FIGHT!

Oh Captain, my Captain.

So . . . this really is the last, last time.

Apparently, I can’t count.

There were four rounds of voting, not three.

Picard would not be amused.

So let’s try this again . . .

Hello friends and family! LAST TIME!  I promise. I need your help!

This is the FINAL ROUND of voting for the cover of COMPANY OF THE DAMNED. Voting has reset, so you can VOTE AGAIN! Only the top 3 covers can win anything. Just go to:

If you want to go a little further, forward this message on to anyone you think would be willing to help.

Thank you, and thank you so much for your support!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Rules Are The Rules

A quick note to all my beautiful, talented, intelligent, and gifted friends—That DM from me
The "P" is missing.
And we'd like to keep it that way, too!
asking you to vote for COMPANY OF THE DAMNED was a request. It was only a request.

There was no quid pro quo. The DM was perfect.

I do not, however, buy or trade votes. If you want to support me and my work as an author THANK YOU SO MUCH! If you feel my cover doesn’t deserve your vote THANK YOU SO MUCH! If you don’t want to be bothered with an otherwise meaningless contest THANK YOU SO MUCH! If you ignored the DM because DMs are dumb THANK YOU SO MUCH!

I appreciate all your efforts, large and small.

You’re reading this, and I appreciate that you took the time.

I’m not keeping a list. Marketing is hard, hard work. No one is going to do it for me.

I try really hard to not annoy people with this stuff (I save that for the author page, this blog, the newsletter, etc.). I try very hard to keep the spam to the barest minimum.  Pimpin’ ain’t easy. I appreciate everyone putting up with me.

But for the record: I DO NOT buy or sell votes. I also DO NOT review books “only for a positive review.” I won’t trade your book for my vote, my vote for your book, or any other combination. I think that’s all the combinations there are, but if someone has another one, I probably don’t do that either.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

What a Convention!

Not sure who let in that guy on the left!
Daniel Arthur Smith's table was awesome!
Does anyone remember Yakov Smirnoff? His catch-phrase, in mock Russian accent, was, “What a country!”

I feel the same way about the Book Fiend Reader’s Fest conventions: What a weekend!

First, it was SO FUN! This was the first convention I attended as an active author with published works. I did a reading, participated on a panel, and had SO MUCH FUN!

What a weekend!

I also learned a lot, which is a good thing if I’m every going to get accepted by another convention committee. I flew out of Southern California on Friday afternoon. My schedule was somewhat brutal to make the convention. I flew into Dallas-Ft. Worth airport, and we arrived late. In fact, my connecting flight was boarding when I finally got off the plane. No big deal, though. This is what we train for! The concourses were next to each other, although it was a good mile or two of actual leg work to get there, but I made it just as they called for final boarding!

Jessica Lucci, Elizabeth Chatworth, and Corrina Lawson
Steampunking it up!
Touching down in Hartford, Connecticut was exactly what I thought it would be like. There, it was nearly midnight, but that’s only 9 o’clock for a West Coaster, so I was more than up for the hour-long ride from the airport to Norwich and my awaiting AirBnB. The apartment I stayed in was SO CUTE that I wished I’d had more time to spend there. I’d thought it was just a bedroom, but it was actually and entire place, and WAY more affordable any a hotel.

What a weekend!

The Book Fiend Readers Fest was mostly supposed to be steampunk-based, so I made the mistake of ONLY carrying THE CLOCKWORK DETECTIVE with me. This is no fault of the convention, just an inexperienced author. There was a lot of fantasy, urban fantasy, science fiction, etc. present, so TEARS OF HEAVEN, HELL BECOMES HER, and COMPANY OF THE DAMNED would have fit right in. I could have swapped out two volumes of each, and they would have been right at home.

Rookie mistakes were going to happen. I forget to bring any swag or business cards. It was a pretty basic oversight, and I won’t miss those opportunities again. I have all that stuff, but, as Tolkien wrote, “One thing drives out another.” That was certainly the case.

I did have a lovely steampunk-themed table cloth that I purchased specifically for these kinds of events. That goes into the gear for future efforts. Bookmarks have been made, and business cards have all gone into the box along with the unsold copies of the books. Stands and pricing sheets were ready to go, so those were never an issue. There are some sweet, sweet lighted pens/stylus combinations that I’ve been considering, and I just need to pull the trigger for the next convention.

Over-all, though: WHAT A WEEKEND!

Monday, November 4, 2019

Help Del WIN With Your Votes!

She's no angel—but she needs your vote!

COMPANY OF THE DAMNED has been accepted into AllAuthor’s cover of the month contest.  

Finalists win some nice promotional packages that can help authors propel their works and keep on writing.

There are several levels of voting, so I’ll be asking for additional support going forward.

If you’ve read, wanted to read, will be reading, or have even just heard of COMPANY OF THE DAMNED (as in right now) please go vote for the COVER!

Also, please forward, share, tweet, and spam anyone you think might be willing to throw a vote my way.

It will all be much appreciated!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

In Memoriam—Jeremy McIntosh

My friend—Jeremy McIntosh

The last time tragedy took someone I was fond of, and after the initial shock of their loss wore off, I wrote. That’s how I process my thoughts, open to the grieving, and share with others. Yesterday, I learned that an old friend from Battle Mountain—Jeremy McIntosh—passed away suddenly. Jeremy was that rare individual who seems to know everyone and be loved by everyone. His loss struck deep, not just at me, but all those around him.

This morning, as I was preparing to write up this memorial, I opened Facebook to gather a couple of pictures from his page to share. My feed was flooded with an outpouring of sorrow, grief, condolences, and warm memories. They weren’t directed at me of course, which is the point. The fact that Jeremy had touched and impacted so many lives was testified to by the overpowering will of those in his vast, vast circle.

Jeremy was easily one of the most unique individuals I’ve ever met. He befriended me—a scared, shy, “new kid”—when he recognized (according to him) a kindred creative soul. What I remember most about Jeremy was his ability to draw. He always, always, always had a sketchpad or a spiral notebook, filled with his doodles, drawing, portraits, and experiments.

Once, Jeremy shared with me the start of a comic book he was working on at the time, a kind of X-Men/Justice League group of super heroes. This being Jeremy, though, the group wasn’t going to have it easy. Their budget (for fighting crime and evil) was astoundingly small, and limited. They would have to become self-sufficient or the group would be disbanded.

That was Jeremy. A guy who could see the beauty of the world, but knew that it was finite, knew that it required work to maintain and grow.

Jeremy was a reader. A voracious consumer of books. When I knew him, through high school, he was reading mostly fantasy novels. His library of stacked paperbacks mixed with a few hardcovers, was enviable. We shared that love of reading, and talked about authors and stories, and exchanged books. We branched out into movies, and he recommended The Highlander to me—it was a good recommendation. My mother reminded me that she’d lent him one of Terry Brooks’ Shannara books. He devoured it in days and returned the borrowed copy in perfect, pristine condition.

There's that smile!
Always conscious of others, and how his actions might impact them.

Jeremy was one of the people I made an active and concerted effort to track down and friend on social media. Back in the day, Jeremy had believed in my writing. He was interested and encouraging and present. I wasn't sure if he'd read anything of mine, but I recently discovered that not only had he bought my books, he'd been encouraging others to buy them too. Reading through the memories and thoughts of others this morning, that was the epitome of who Jeremy was—he believed in and liked people for who they were. He saw what they were capable of and urged them to pursue it. If he could, he would help you accomplish great things.

I think he saw that in himself too. A relentless pursuit of who he was and what he could become, just like when he taught himself to backflip. He did this first by standing on a four-foot tall cinder block wall surrounded by concrete benches, concrete tables and more concrete. He leaped out, backwards into the air in an impossibly tight spin. The first time I watch him do it, it freaked me out. I had visions of him slamming his head into any one of the many concrete shapes that surrounded us. 

He didn’t.  He was always successful. He was very much like the speaker in the Shel Silverstein poem Hug O’ War:

I will not play at tug o' war.
I'd rather play at hug o' war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins

That’s how I will remember him. Friendly and a friend. Accomplishing things that scared me. Smiling his ever-present smile, one that said the world was very clever for remembering to include Jeremy McIntosh in it, because the world was a better place with him in it, and people were better for having known him.

I'm certainly glad that I knew him.

Jeremy, you are missed.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Achievement Unlocked - Fake a Photo

Yep. Just sitting there, officer.
Not brought in a all!

There are some fantastic people who have somehow decided that I’m worthy of association.  I received this picture today from London, England’s very own Waterstone’s Books in Picadilly!

It’s a completely staged photo. As far as I know, no brick-and-mortar bookstores carry my books, but it’s such a beautiful thought. I spent hours and hours at my local Sam Weller bookstore, sitting in the fantasy section, reading the back covers of pretty much every story on their shelf.

If you’ve read my first two books—TEARS OF HEAVEN and HELL BECOMES HER—and would like a FREE copy for review of COMPANY OF THE DAMNED, please let me know. You can drop me a message in the comments below, or reach out to me on any of my social media platforms:

Twitter: @RobRoyMcCandles

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Margaret and the Awesome Covers of Awesomeness

The model, the myth, the legend!

The first rule of cover art is: Don’t overcomplicate things.

I overcomplicate things out of reflex.

A couple of years ago, when I’d been freed from my evil contract with the evil publisher Evil Maya (cue the ominous lightning and thunder) I immediately set about recovering the disaster that she’d insisted was a work of art. My new publisher, Johnathon Clayborn at Clayborn Press was thrilled and very supportive.

I started sifting through models that never quite met what I was looking for. There’s a lot that a good artist can do to make a mediocre model work for a cover. Still, it’s better to start from a position of strength and reinforce it.

That’s when it hit me. I have a friend who models on the side. She’s even into science fiction and geekdom, and has done some geeky/nerdy model work.

What has made my writing fun has been the involvement of my friends and family. I have beta readers I’ve known since junior high school, and my genius brother has provided all kinds of assistance from a historical standpoint. Friends have served as the inspiration for characters, events, and entire plots.

What better way to celebrate the re-release of my first two books—TEARS OF HEAVEN and HELL BECOMES HER—and the release of my third book—COMPANY OF THE DAMNED—than to do so with a friend?

I reached out to Margaret and asked if she had any shots that might meet my needs. Margaret did me one better. She said she’d get with her photographer, Jess Middlebrook, and shoot the shots that I needed.

And she did.

Well . . . she's half-angel!
The artwork was great, just super-strong and covered in awesomeness. My cover artist, Julie, took off from there and returned outstanding artwork. Everything came together incredibly fast. We spent only a day or three on each cover, and BAM we were done. I had to wait longer for Amazon to actually populate the new covers than I did working with Julie to build them.

It couldn’t have worked out better. I have friends who have helped me, and continue to help me, at every aspect of my “writing career”. Champions and cheerleaders who promote my work, rush to congratulate my victories, and mourn my defeats.

Thank you John, Jess, Julie, and Margaret.

And of course, thank you to all my friends and family. I can’t thank everyone enough!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

S. Andrew Swann's "Teek: The Children of Prometheus"

Does she have psychic powers? Oh yeah!

Years ago, way back in 1993, I stumbled on the book “Forests of the Night” by S. Andrew Swann. The cover alone, which features an anthropomorphic tiger holding a rather large firearm, was enough to get me to shell out the $4.99.

Put simply, it was amazing. Riffing off the idea of genetically-engineered animal soldiers, Swann crafted a genius story where those animals—or rather their descendants—now found themselves not on the battlefield, but in a post-war society that had no idea what to do with them.

Swann was the first author that I actively sought out and tried to follow online. I loved his website, where he provided a couple of essays for wannabe-authors (just like me!) and when I sent him an email or two, asking questions, he actually responded.

Recently, he’s decided to go indie, and the small press/indie ranks couldn’t have asked for a better member. As an indie, I was very fortunate to join S. Andrew Swann’s street team, and received an advanced reader copy of his latest re-release “Teek: The Children of Prometheus”.  Here’s my review:

There is no point in S. Andrew Swann’s “Teek: The Children of Prometheus” that isn’t wholly believable.  Swann creates original, believable, and relatable characters that could walk through the doorway at any time. While the story itself is set in the 90s, Swann deftly avoids the classic tropes of stuffing his world with nostalgic items. Instead, the story he provides is practically timeless.

The world needs more
anthropomorphic tigers!
Swann’s urban fantasy story centers on Allison Boyle, a pretty average high school girl with pretty average teenage concerns—boyfriend, grades, social circles. There is one catch, of course. Over the last six months Allison has suffered debilitating migraines, often when creepy Chuck is around—and he seems to always be around. When push comes to shove between Chuck and Allison, she lashes out with a power she didn’t know she had—telekinesis, or “teek” for short.

Life for Allison suddenly becomes incredibly complex. Her ability is both wonderful and the root of most of her troubles. She goes from run-of-the-mill high schooler, to fugitive-on-the-run, tracked by men with guns who have “teeks” of their own. Only Allison’s best friend, Macy is able to help her as they start to run across country toward Allison’s father or may or may not be able to keep her out of the clutches of something far more sinister.

All of Swann’s books are extremely real and engaging, and “Teek: The Children of Prometheus” is a wonderful edition to that library. What sets Swann’s books apart from so many others in the urban fantasy/science fiction genre are the rules. He sets up the rules of the world, and then sticks rigidly to them, never giving his characters and easy out. The pacing and flow of the story are expertly crafted by a master as Swann breathes life into every scene. It’s less like reading a book, and much more like watching a real life drama unfold. Readers will love Swann’s attention to detail, the incredibly alive characters, and the overall scope and scale that he creates.

Have you ever engaged with a celebrity/public figure?
Tell me in the comments below!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Old Grudges - Excerpt from The Clockwork Detective

Beware the steampunk girl who carries a big cane!

A little excerpt from THE CLOCKWORK DETECTIVE. Here, Constable Sterben and Aubrey are being confronted by a “street tough” with a grudge. How he’s out of prison so early baffles Sterben and is part of the mystery Aubrey later untangles. For now, she and Sterben face a fight they may not be able to win:

“Anders,” Sterben said as he rolled his shoulders inside his coat, “you don’t have the stones to pound that little girl, much less me. But if you’re determined, tell your brothers to go home, and you and I can settle this like men.”

“Like men? Is that what you tell yourself? You needed five officers to help take me in, Constable.”

Sterben gave a quick laugh and smiled. “I needed three, and that’s because I didn’t want to hurt your pretty face and take away any chance you had in prison. I’m sure they gave you the same loving embrace as your brothers.”

Sterben was intentionally goading Anders and the other men – it was the only thing that made sense of his actions. He hadn’t looked in her direction once, and neither had anyone else. She was essentially forgotten in the confrontation, which was what Sterben wanted. He was giving her time to get away from the brothers. It was a good tactic, but with her bad leg, she would quickly be caught as soon as someone remembered her. No matter how well the boffins in Grazburg had designed the leg, it was only good for the daily use of walking. Running was beyond Aubrey’s physical abilities.

Anders growled at Sterben. Aubrey twisted the handle of her cane, and felt it rotate a quarter turn. She measured the distance between herself and Anders, and knew he was a pace and a half too far.

It’s never easy, she thought.

“Is that true, Anders?” Aubrey brought the full weight of all five men back to herself. “And here I could have used a good pounding too!”

Anders’ face flushed red with rage. Aubrey could see Sterben’s look of warning but ignored it.

“You’ll get yours,” Anders told her. “How about now?”

He moved forward, and Aubrey had to stifle her smile. She twisted the cane’s handle again and pulled. The soft scrape of metal on wood was completely lost to Anders as he came at her. The cane’s blade wasn’t as sturdy as her boarding saber, but it had a wicked sharp point, which she thrust under Anders’ chin and held against his throat. The skin broke and a small line of red ran down his neck. He tried to back away, but Aubrey moved with him.

“Don’t move. Not an inch.” Aubrey’s gaze fixed on Anders, but her voice was pitched to carry to his brothers. “You lot, either.”

Everyone froze.

What’s Your Favorite David and Goliath Scene?
Tell me in the comments below!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Bad Cover. No Dessert!

And there's no "Charlie" either!

If I could ever give one piece of advice to indie authors about to publish, it would be to go ahead and SPEND MONEY on your cover.

It's the first thing readers will see. It should be an open doorway, beckoning them to come inside and have a look at all the lovely awesomeness you've created in your world. They should be invited, with glowing signs, the smells of baking bread, and the promise of excellent libations.

“Please, sample the Turkish Delight, leaf through the books and the linens, be welcome and enjoy!”

A bad cover can be a barrier to entry. After all, if you can't be bothered to put something decent at the very entrance to your world, then what does the rest of the book look like? How bad is the editing? How bad is the storytelling?


It may not be true of your story, but there it is. You'd hesitate entering a deserted asylum, with the windows broken out, ghosts and demons leering through the dark panes. You’d dress appropriately for a job interview, get a haircut and shower before hand. That’s pretty much what a cover is: the first impression you get to make.

You certainly don’t want it to be the last impression.

I strongly recommend seeking out professional cover artists. Find one whose style aligns with your own desires, and pay whatever they ask. Yeah, it’s exciting to have a book finished, and ready to be thrust into the grasping hands of the masses eager for your golden words.

You never, ever, never want to get stuck with a bad cover.


What’s your “favorite” bad cover art?
Tell me in the comments below!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Eric Lahti Reviews Company of the Damned

This time evil has an ace up its sleeve!

It’s always good to get back a nice review. The first time I sent my work off to a professional at a magazine, I held my breath and assumed the worst. I assumed I’d get a middling review. I was hoping for it. I didn't expect to do better than that!

It still shocks me that people read, and like what I’ve written. It’s even more shocking when they give me high praise, just like Eric Lahti did in his recent review for COMPANY OF THE DAMNED:

This is McCandless at his finest, digging into the action and bringing the character’s to life on the page. Like all good writing, it started with “what if?” question. In this case, what if some of the Biblical elements were right? Maybe not all of them, and Del is certainly not given to quoting Bible verse. But what if demons were a real and constant threat? What if angels were the nigh-undefeatable soldiers of the Throne? What if, stuck in the middle of that, were the Nephilim, struggling to find a safe way for themselves in a world that would be perfectly content to see them dead?

That’s the world McCandless built in the first two books. In Company of the Damned, he takes full advantage of that world and doesn’t hesitate to tear the hell out of it. This is like reading a Hollywood blockbuster – it has battles, and magic, and Norse goddesses, and golems, and even Lucifer himself. With all that, it would seem like a complicated mess of a story. And perhaps it would be in the hands of a less story-teller, but McCandless weaves this stunning menagerie with a deft hand and gives us a rare gem in the world: A Hollywood blockbuster that has a heart. It’s not all style and no substance.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Covers, Covers, and More Covers

Not sure who that guy is, but those covers
are awesome!

So, this happened last night. I wanted to get five copies of each book with the new covers, but the budget said, “No! No! No!” Apologies to all my completist readers out there! Still, each one is so beautiful that I spent time looking them over and just loving them. A special shout out to my good friend across the pond Margaret, who offered to model for the cover, and looped me in with her photographer. Another special shout out to Julie from Covers by Julie, the cover artist who pulled all this together for me. Finally, absolutely a wonderful shout out to my publisher and friend Jonathon Calyborn at Clayborn Press for pulling this altogether, fighting with Amazon to get the covers to populate, and believing in my books.

Here’s an excerpt from the latest, COMPANY OF THE DAMNED:

Del smashed her boot heel against the door with all her Nephilim strength. The frame buckled inwards, and the door tore free of the hinges. It flew into the room, striking sparks as it skidded across the floor and drove itself into a concrete column. A large chunk of masonry broke free and fell with a ka-thump on top of the door.

“Breach!” Del rushed through the open doorway. “Go, go, go!”

Del’s team followed right behind her. Misha, a half-angel Nephilim like Del, was only a half-step back. Del went left and cleared her corner, and Misha veered right to do the same. Ahadiel’s newest recruit was a quick learner. Del missed the certainty of Marrin at her back, but Misha was fast becoming a close second.

The rest of Del’s team—tall, stocky Dokkalfar and the equally tall but thin and wiry Ljosalfar—swept through the door after them. The dark elves and light elves moved fast and crossed the ‘fatal funnel’ in moments. Demons weren’t known for using firearms, but their human servants were quite partial, if generally untrained. Those servants could be as dangerous to themselves as anyone else. Del snugged her H&K assault rifle against her shoulder and scanned it down her side of the room. Misha was clearing the opposite half. For the first time in six months, Del didn’t feel the tickle of fear that her back was turned to a room of potential bad guys. She was tense, but not with the worry that someone would forget their job or fail a critical check.

Her team knew what to do.

She trusted them with their jobs.


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Just For Laughs - 2-Star Review

No explanations necessary. This one is just too funny. Maybe she thinks one-star is awesome so two-stars must be hella good! After all, Clooney and Pitt, amiright!?

“The first book in a new steampunk fantasy mystery series, though not one of my favorite titles of the year I enjoyed it as a story, and would consider reading another in the series.”
shelly m

Thanks Shelly!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

9/11 Thoughts For Me - Not a Fun Post

This is the first 9/11 anniversary where I may not actually be able to do it.

I didn’t have any direct connection to New York or the events that transpired. I walked into my office without a clue. I was so clueless, that when I IM’d a buddy, asking what he was up to, and he mentioned watching the plane crash into the World Trade Center, I made a joke.

“Well, they are very big.”

Without context, I assume a small, private plane had clipped the tower somehow.

Yesterday, my oldest son let me know they were studying 9/11 in class. It’s weird to me because I lived through it. It’s weird for me to say that I lived through anything that significant.

My then girlfriend and I had a date scheduled that night. Dinner reservations and theater tickets. We were going to fly out the next day for an alumni game at our alma mater: Eastern New Mexico University.

Obviously, that didn’t happen.

When my son asked where I was, I tried to remember if I was supposed to fly into Albuquerque or Lubbock. I assume it was Lubbock, because that’s only a little over 90 minutes to Portales. Albuquerque is a nearly four hour drive.

I can’t remember anymore. The tickets were cancelled and refunded when all flights were grounded for the three days.

A week or so later, I was with my sister at a local football game. I can’t tell you if it was a college or high school game. My nephew, who was four or five at the time, had asked, “Who wants to go to a football game?” I heard “hot dogs and beer” so I was in. At one point in the game, a small passenger plane noisily flew over the stadium, and everyone stopped. We stopped and stared up at the plane.

Planes were no longer magical, technological wonders that had become mundane. They were no longer safe.

Usually, I ask a question and try to prompt some response or discussion below. That’s a marketing thing. I won’t ask anything this time, but you are welcome to post your thoughts below. Sometimes talking helps.

Friday, September 6, 2019

September SciFi and Fantasy Giveaway (Newsletter Signup)

Enter early, share often!

Summer is coming to an end! With the cooler weather on its way, what a better time to fill up your Kindle with new books? Ready to curl up with some fantastic SciFi and Fantasy books after a long day? We’ll help you get started!

These amazing authors are giving you a chance to win four fantastic books and a $20 Amazon Giftcard just for signing up for our Monthly Newsletters!

Participating Authors:

R.A. McCandless
Mack Little
Jenn Nixon
            S.A. Larsen

Get extra points for following us online and even more if you refer a reader friend to the giveaway!

By entering this giveaway you are signing up for the ALL FOUR AUTHORS NEWSLETTERS! We’ll never spam you, just update you on new releases, giveaways, contests, exclusive excerpts and more! Giveaway prize is US or UK Giftcard only.

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please, please, forward this on to someone who might be interested!