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.

If you’ve already signed up for the newsletter, please,
please, please, forward this on to someone who might be interested!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

A Nice Surprise Review—5 Stars

Looks like I won't have to kill anyone . . . today.

I was digging up a weird 2-star review that I received for THE CLOCKWORK DETECTIVE a few weeks back , and I stumbled on the following recent 5-star review, which really made my day. So I had to share 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.

Aubrey’s research leads her into the Dark Wood to question the denizens there, those being centaurs, who are not only fierce fighters but wonderfully oblique and weird. The blending of Victorian mechanistic steampunk, mythology, and magic is seamless and believable. The story moves from murder mystery to international thriller to magical encounters of the terrifying kind. Aubrey herself is a wonderful combination of vulnerable addiction, resourcefulness, keen intelligence, and general all-around bloody-mindedness. I look forward to reading her further adventures!

The usual disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book, but no one bribed me to praise it. Although chocolates and fine imported tea are always welcome.

“Oblique and weird” is my favorite part of the entire review. That’s exactly what I was striving for with my fae-based centaurs. Totally made my day.  Thank you Deborah M!

What’s the weirdest compliment you’ve enjoyed?
Tell me in the comments below!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Death and Life of iPods

So friggin' sweet!

Based on trial and error, I’ve discovered that it’s an error to try washing your iPod.  As the helpful lady at Verizon once told me: electronics and water don’t mix.

There are no problems, only opportunities . . . at least, that’s what my wife told me as I mourned the loss of another electronic device to our evil, evil wash machine. What has that washer ever done for us, except get our clothes clean and smelling like a meadow of flowers in the spring!?

Too young. That iPod Nano 6th Generation was barely out of its teens!

Eventually, I had to stop crying. Mostly because my wife threatened that I’d get no more root beer floats if I “kept up this nonsense.”

The story becomes both more and less convoluted as we move forward.  A little of a year ago, in an attempt to rid myself of troublesome wires for my running headphones, I invited in a Kickstarter for what was claimed to be “The World’s First True Wireless Headphones” by EOZ Audio. The bragging went on from there, and being that sucker who was born many, many yesterdays ago, I shelled out for them.

Then, the problems-and-solutions started.
You bought what? For how much!?

The iPod Nano 6 lacks Bluetooth BUT There are no end of Bluetooth adapters designed specifically for this iPod BUT the fact that they’ll suck your battery dry faster than a legion of vampires in a blood bank is cleverly not stated in the literature BUT I solved this problem by purchasing a small, external battery BUT I now had a package roughly ten times the weight (I said roughly), required a cord, and added another thing that I had to haul around in my pocket while running.

Also, the EOZ Audio headphones didn’t work right. They kept dropping the signal, wouldn’t connect, became spotty, etc.

I assumed the Bluetooth adapter was the problem, so I figured I’d solve ALL those problems by upgrading to the iPod Nano 7. I found one CHEAP on eBay where the headphone jack didn’t work, but Bluetooth was fine.


Gently used.
Except, it wasn’t. The EOZ Audio headphones didn’t work right. They kept dropping the signal, wouldn’t connect, became spotty, etc. EOZ Audio sent me a new set of headphones, which also didn’t work right. Then, they stopped talking to me.

I reverted back to my trusty, loyal, iPod 6 and my old wired headphones. Surely, simplicity is best when it’s easiest—and doesn’t cost me more money. Which is how it ended up in my pants pocket, where it met an untimely demise during the best years of its life.

Also, thanks for staying with me this far.

With only the iPod Nano 7, and no headphones that would work, I did what I should have done in the first place: RESEARCH. A quick summary from a number of review sites and I’d found the truly wireless headphones that would work specifically for me as a runner: Anker Soundcore Liberty.

I LOVE THEM! They sit snugly in my ears, the sound is great, they have decent battery life and don’t suck the power from my iPod 7, and most of all, they don’t drop the signal, refuse to connect, or provide spotty playback.

I’ve only used them for a week, so I’m holding off on a ticker-tape parade . . . but I am saving up my ticker-tape!

What do you listen to and with?
Tell me in the comments below!