Status Updates

Status Updates

Main Focus: Gush (Fantasy Action/Adventure) Novel, First Draft = 21k out of 100k estimate (21%)

Side Focus #1: Assault on Dread Fortress Paine (Post FM6 Novella) = 25k out of 40k estimate (62%)

Side Focus #2: The Glassbreaker Goes Home (Post FM6 Novella) = 26k out of 40k estimate (65%)

Back Burner #1: FM7 School Story = 0k out of 80k estimate (0%)

Back Burner #2: Super Secret Awesome Project

Other Stuff I Need to Get To: FM3-FM6 concordance updates

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

RR's Top 10 Spec-Fic Novels of 2011

We'll run this thing countdown style, but first with a preamble:  almost half my reading this year was non-fiction, so I missed a few of the "big" releases (Stephenson, Bakker, etc.).  I look forward to comments complaining about how your favorite author (besides me) is missing.

THE BEST

10.  Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson - Sanderson barely makes the list this year.  Considering the book was barely a book that seems fair.  Yes, it's Mistborn with guns...and that's AWESOME, but it wasn't much of a story.  Short, short, short, and we all want more, more,  more.

9.  Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews - The only Urban Fantasy novel to make the list and of course it's going to be Andrews.  Andrews is the top of that sub-genre.  This novel was a pause in the larger Kate Daniels story, but still had some rocking scenes.

8.  The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss - A novel that brought us both the laughable Fae Super Sexathon and the amazing Cthaeh, it was pure Rothfuss, with an unbeatable readability, clue's to the trilogy's mysteries all over the place, and...Kvothe being an ass.

7.  God's War by Kameron Hurley - I love this world!  Bugs, deserts, Middle Eastern and African influences.  Characters that are hard, a plot that is harder, and a world that is hardest of all.

6.  The Iron Jackal by Chris Wooding - Wooding's steampunk meets Firefly series keeps on going and I keep eating it up.  This time we got some major world-building going on and perhaps it didn't have Black Lung Captain's pace and character work, but it still has enough of Darian Frey and his crew for anyone.

5.  Stonewielder by Ian C. Esslemont - A Malazan novel, so obviously I loved it.  With a whole new continent to explore, Malazans, Crimson Guards, and plenty of gods and goddesses causing the usual convergences this one felt formulaic to the series, but I'm not complaining.

4.  The Crippled God by Steven Erikson - The last book in the mainline Malazan story went out big...then decided big wasn't enough and went ludicrous speed.  There were some good conclusions here, some long speculated moments coming about, and some interesting open doors for the future.  RR needs more Karsa STAT.

3.  Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey - It's not the space opera notes that work best in this novel but the noir and mystery notes.  The fast pace, no-holds-bared action, and complex social themes may not have made it the "best" read of the year, but they did make it the funnest read of the year.

2.  Infidel by Kameron Hurley - That's right, Hurley makes the list twice.  Her second novel was even better than the first.  Every problem I had was solved, the world was further explored, the characters faced serious challenges, and some insane HOLY BLEEPAGE got thrown around on twists and turns.

1.  The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie - Say one thing about Logen Ninefingers, say he's not required to make an Abercrombie book great, but even the mentioning of his name goes a long way.  Abercrombie kicked a lot of character and plot BLEEP in this book but they both fail before what the man did with chapter structure.  The "letter" and "battle" chapters were just as great as advertised, making this my spec-fic book of the year.


THE DISAPPOINTMENTS


5.  Still No Scott Lynch! - Scott Lynch's long awaited third Locke Lamora novel continues its waiting period.  Lots of rumors on this one, maybe it's handed in, maybe it's being revised, maybe he's writing book 4 at the same time.  Or maybe not.  All I know is a year without Scott Lynch's style and skill is worse off than one with it.

4.  The Unremembered by Peter Orellun - One of the most pushed and pumped debut novels of the year.  It had an amazing cover.  It had all the might of Tor behind it.  Yet...the major who read it looked on it in horror.  The prose...the purple prose!  The rip off of Eye of the World.  A cry came out from across the blogosphere:  what was Tor thinking pushing this?  Perhaps worse than the novel itself was the manipulation on review sites like goodreads and Amazon by unknown forces to see the novel given high marks.

3.  The Dragon's Path by Daniel Abraham - In an amazing feat, Daniel Abraham managed to make both my "best of" and "disappoint" lists (he's part of the writing duo going by James S. A. Corey).  This novel lacked all the joy and tight plotting of its brother, it also had bland characters that were hard to like and a world that was forgettable.  A decent novel, but not up to the standards of his other work.

2.  Snuff by Terry Pratchett - For the first time I asked myself if Terry Pratchett has himself a ghost writer.  Just an odd book that was as not Discworld as you can get.  Pratchett is in my all time top 10...this one was a huge let down.

1.  A Dance With Dragons by George (Not as) R.R. (As Me) Martin - We waited six years for Dany, Tyrion, and Jon...we got a waffling girl, turtles and pigs, and not an Other in sight.  My three star review on Amazon received over 1,000 helpful notes so I know I'm not alone in my disappointment.  No matter how good the Theon/North storyline might have been, the rest...was all disappointment.


DEBUT AUTHOR OF THE YEAR


Kameron Hurley for her great work with both God's War and Infidel.  Not only is she the debut author of this year, she's the author I'm most excited about since the Debut Explosion of 06/07.  If you haven't checked out her books, start zapping them onto your Kindle immediately.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas is Cancelled

Okay, maybe not Christmas, but I am officially considering BETROTHAL 2 to be shelved.  I'd never actually planned for the "series" to be anything but the first book.  It was developed as a simple funny book that would be easy for me to write and finish, since I'd yet to complete one at that point.  It's fine for what it is, but...I don't read humor/romcom/lad lit.  It's not my thing.  I don't 'get' it.  It's hard to sell it.  It's hard to understand what it's fans are after and expect.

Fantasy is my thing.  Sci-Fi is my thing.  Creating crazy ass worlds, that's my thing.  BETROTHAL was meant to be a one off and forgotten, probably never published if the Indie boom hadn't happened when it did.

So why did I even bother to try to write a sequel?  Most my family.  I got so much "when's the next one coming out?" and "what happens next?" and serious whining over a sequel that I caved and thought I could at least try.

But my heart just isn't in it.  Another wedding, more torturing of poor Phin, and yes there is some funny in the 1/4 of the draft I've finished, but...all my thoughts are with other projects at the moment...mostly King Henry Price.  Writing BETROTHAL 2 feels like homework...I don't quite like that, so for now, consider it disappeared into the mysterious aether of my trunk.

Monday, December 12, 2011

New 2012 Covers for FOUL MOUTH

I ended up making this change mostly for the same reason I did with BETROTHAL.  When you're using thumbnails to sell your book it all comes down to big fonts that are easy to read.  I still like the original cover for FANGED LADY but as I moved into CAT KILLING COYOTES I could never get the graffiti font to be bold enough to read at small sizes.

I didn't want to abandon the original idea of trashing artistic masterpieces in true rebellious style, so I looked to find a happy medium by keeping both "THE FOUL MOUTH" and my name in graffiti but bringing in the Pistolgrip font over single color bars, with a single word highlighted in white instead of black.  I also had to throw in little comments from King Henry about the piece in question...got to have a little fun.

THE FOUL MOUTH AND THE FANGED LADY 2012 COVER

I'll show off the CAT KILLING COYOTES cover closer to release (March = Unlikely, April = Questionable, May = Probable).

Friday, November 25, 2011

Writer Lockdown

I've been a busy bee this year.  5 works out, all that formatting, editing, keeping betas in line, wrangling reviewers, getting Amazon to make some of my stuff free, etc.  But writing wise...not that hot.  This looks to be the least productive year I've had in three years.

I know some people can go all social butterfly and that's how they get their work noticed and done, but me...I'm much more the mad genius locked in his laboratory.  Either I'm writing or I'm doing promo, not both.  This year, promo has consumed my time.

I'm frankly sick of it.  Maybe this will cost me readers that one extra tweet would have grabbed, but I find it hard to care.  I need to do this writer-style, not marketer-style.  Even assuming I write all the way into my eighties, I don't have enough time on this Earth to get out all the material that is already in my head.  Oh to think about some of the worlds and characters we're never going to get to visit together just because I'm human and not an evil cyborg...

Alas...

So...WRITER LOCKDOWN.

I'm ripping the mouse and keyboard off this baby and throwing them into the closet, I'm taking the laptop off WiFi, I'm giving the Xbox a very stern talking to about letting me play with it so often lately, and I might even give Kathy Bates a call.

RR will not be on the net much...for December or for 2012.  If you need to contact me about a review for my books, hit up my email and expect a wait in answer.  If you just want to send fan-mail...well, I like fan-mail, only again: expect a wait.  Hopefully I'll eventually sale a million copies and have some extra cash for a assistant, and a cover artist, and a great copy editor, and a guy to walk around behind me and say "Remember the Athenians".  But for now:  expect a wait.

You should however, be happy.  This means more work coming out from me.  Probably...no promises.  But I expect an uptick in production without promo holding me down.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a geomancer to do some business with...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

No More Reviews from RR

I actually really do love writing reviews, mostly to get cheap laughs with puns (YAY PUNS!), but also to defend good books and to destroy over-pushed bad books.  Being both an Indie writer and a semi-successful reviewer has been something I've gone back and forth over whether it was..."cool".

Before last weekend I could safely claim that even thought I had novels for sale, I wasn't in competition with these people.  I mean, let's be honest, I had sold a grand total of 50 books, with another 50 given out to reviewers.  That's not prime-time, that's minor leagues...maybe even tee-ball.

In no way, shape, or form, was I in competition or a peer of some of these Big 6 writers I was kneeling down before or bashing over the head with a lead-pipe.

But I'm not sure I can say that any longer.  The BETROTHAL went free and now I have six thousand copies floating around in the ether after four days...and a week or two to go before I can switch that drain off.  Sales of FOUL MOUTH have also picked up to a few copies a day.  Looking at the future I can only imagine that this is going to increase, especially with sequels coming next year (probably...no promises...back up off me!).

Maybe I'm not Major League yet, but the GM just gave me a reminder that it's coming.  So why not stop reviewing my soon-to-be peers now?  It's a good time for it.  The only book to come out for the rest of the year I was interested in having an opinion on was Ilona Andrews...and everyone already knows Andrews rules Urban Fantasy, so why do I need to say it?

It is kind of a shame...I never did break into the Amazon Top 1000 Reviewers...and I was very close.  It will just have to be one of those things I never accomplished, up there with not climbing Everest (big mountains and freezing to death are so not me) or missing out on my high school senior prom (no, not because I couldn't get a date...the girlfriend lived out of town...me, geek?  Never!).

If you're REALLY into my thoughts on the books I read, there's always Goodreads, which I'll keep updating with star ratings, if not explaining them (why did he give MY PET GOAT 5 stars?  We'll never know...).  I'll also probably casually mention books I think rock and Spec-Fic I think everyone should be reading (Kameron Hurley) in general blathering posts I make in the future.

But puns?  No...the puns are dead.  Or at least unintended (LOOPHOLE)...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Betrothal is FREE...for a limited time...

In honor of that week in November I've set The Betrothal: or How I Saved Alan Edwards from 40 Years of Hell to FREE on a number of different websites and reading devices.  As an Indie this is the easiest and most effective form of publicity and reader outreach that I have.  Getting the book in your hands, letting you be my little minion and spread the word.  MUA-HA-HA-HA......

The Betrothal by Richard Raley on Amazon Kindle

The Betrothal by Richard Raley on Barnes and Noble Nook

The Betrothal by Richard Raley on Apple iTunes


Or you could just search your various reading devices..."Raley" usually does the trick  If you want some FUNNY, Betrothal will provide some FUNNY.  If you want some action...or pirates...or ninjas...maybe they'll be in the sequel, but no promises...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Reviews and More Reviews

A group of reviews came in for my books and since I'm trying to be lazy and not create any content for this website at the moment, here's some links for you lot.

THE BETROTHAL

Bee's Knees Reviews (5 stars)
With a quick-witted, laugh out loud, book you're bound to read with a smile on your face.

Miss Lynn's Books and More (5 stars)
If you like romantic comedies then you will thoroughly enjoy this book.
Butterfly-o-Meter Books (5 stars)
It's become my no.1 emergency read for those bleah moods, it's instant good mood.
THE FOUL MOUTH AND THE FANGED LADY


Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy (5 stars)
The Foul Mouth and the Fanged Lady is now all cozy in my shelf of the top ten favorite books I have ever read.
Stories of My Life (5 stars)
I wasn’t sure of this book when I got into it, which only goes to prove how sometimes you just can’t go cover shopping: because, could you please say “LOVE” a little louder?


So far it looks like people like them.  The wait for the first dreaded One Star Review continues...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Real Review: The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

He always gets the best covers!

Preface: I love me some Brandon Sanderson when he's doing his thing and creating new worlds and magic systems. But I'm not a straight out fanboy. I call him on his quirks and weaknesses when they pop up. First Mistborn book? On. One of my favorite spec-fic books released in the last five-ish years. Parts of "The Way of Kings"? Also on. The Mistborn 3 relationship between Eland and Vin? OFF. Storm you? OFF...also one of the most laughable curse phrases I've ever heard.

The reason I tell you this is to let you know that if Sanderson had went overly G with "Alloy" where some serious Rated-R was required, I'd call him on it.

But I'm not calling him on it this time.

There was no point in this novel where I thought...that feels weird. The romantic subplot is still only PG, but here it works fine. The characters aren't married and Sanderson actually increased what he usually shows. He even admits that characters have these physical bodies that other people might find desirable. We also see no Earth-based cursed words but again, it worked fine. I also think Kelsier would have gotten a hell of a laugh out of "Survivor's Spear".

But what's right? What works? Well...this is a very fun read. It's Mistborn as Steampunk. If you're an action junkie you'll love it. If you're a magic junkie then you'll REALLY love it. Allomancy...so much FUN. All the different combinations make for some great heroes and great villains as the different styles within the magic systems clash with each other. A tight plot, a little mystery, Sanderson's usual hints of foreshadowing, and you have yourself a winner.

Why only 4 stars? It's short. It all feels like the side project it very much is. Finally the main character of Wax, who I never bought as forty-years-old. This is a nitpick however, mostly...it's short.

4 stars. And I want more!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Where We've Been...Where We're Going

This has been a completely whirlwind year for me.  I started out thinking:  get published.  Even though I was interested by the new Indie movement, even if I saw the artistic advantages it contained and maybe even the financial advantages it might contain in the future, I didn't jump immediately into the pool filled with under-edited and badly-covered sharks.

I think some of the reluctance came from how much time I'd been building to the whole agent/publisher hunt.  I started working on BETROTHAL in May 2008 with that goal and suddenly it was January 2011 and it would take me a few more months to accept that the publishing world had changed while I'd toiled away on my first two books.  Borders ready to die, Kindle dominate.  Big changes in the air.

January/February/March wasn't a total waste.  Lots of good ideas sprang up in that period, first as short stories and eventually as novels I'll one day write.  It also saw me hit up many literary agency and short fiction magazine in futile gestures towards a dying paradigm.  It was this process itself that cured me.  That set me on my different new road towards becoming an under-edited/badly-covered shark myself.

The tradition route of Agent--->Publisher is the most chaotic...badly-developed...system I've ever seen.  By the time I actually sent out my query letters I was praying not for success, but for rejection.  If the query letter stage was that mismanaged then the rewriting and publisher seeking probably would have caused me to go brain dead.

As those letters were browsed and thrown away across the country probably without even a minute's examination I turned to this new invention and got to work.  I can't believe how artistically freeing it turned out to be.

In the last six months I've published two novels in two completely different genres, one taking advantage of the new technology in its footnotes and the other taking advantage of not having an editor tell me how many times I can curse per page or that I'm making the main character too rough.  I've published a short story which I'm able to give away for free to thousands.  I've published a novellete, the first of a series of serial novelette/novellas that also takes advantage of the new technology.

That's a hell of a year, but I've also learned a lot more:  I've learned how to make not-so-bad covers, I've learned how to use fonts and type, I've learned how to convert ebook files, I've learned all the joys of formatting, I tweet, I blog, I review in my own take-no-prisoners style and I've figured out the whole reviewer-blogger network...which, okay, reminded me a bit of the agent thing with all the different rules for requests, but don't tell them that.

Oh...there might have been something else going on that I don't talk about any longer too.

This is the proudest year of my life...but I've got a lot of life left in me.

What does RR have in store for you over the next few years?

Tons of stuff.

First and foremost will be The King Henry Tapes.  FOUL MOUTH 2 will be finished in the next couple months and FOUL MOUTH 3 is already outlined.  Actually the whole series is outline, if not chapter by chapter, then generally the flow of all 12 books.  Expect lots of King Henry Price over the next few years.  And Ceinwyn Dale.  And some T-Bone.  Maybe a little Annie B...

I've started a sequel to THE BETROTHAL.  I don't have a firm idea on when it will be done.  I'm kind of iffy on the sequel and while there's some Funny so far in the draft I have some fears for it.  Mostly I just saw a trailer for another "American Pie" movie and I really don't want to end up doing that...  If the sequel doesn't meet my standards I'd rather scrap it than just pump something out for quick cash.

EATERS will continue.  SLIME DINNER and SETTLE DOWN are already coiling around in my screwed up little brain.  There might be more after those two, one of the fun things about writing a serial is I don't write with the future, I just let to story go where it may.

Then there's the biggy, my first...I guess I'd call it more complicated novel.  We'll just call it CHAINS for now, though the title will change by the time it's done.  You'll hear more about it in 2012, for now, my plate is very full.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Real Review: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Link:  Steve Jobs

When looking at a biography I have a single yardstick to decide its success: did I get inside the subject's head?

Very simple.

Very hard to do perfectly.

A lot like an Apple product some would say...

Isaacson managed to do this with his "Einstein". You were with him in those pages, you could feel his playfulness, his genius, and his beliefs all in turn, be it in a Unified Theory or in pacifism--only to have those beliefs challenged by quantum and WW2. You felt Einstein, you were beside him, you understood him.

I don't think Isaacson has managed this here.

There are moments of Steve Jobs but for most of it we're left with an enigma. Indeed, for a work that had access to the subject in interview it's rather amazing that the majority of it does not rest with Jobs' view of the world but instead was stories told of others about Jobs. Why is Jobs the way he is? This question is never really answered.

There are bursts of insight and guesses directly from Isaacson about simplicity and abandonment but we never dig deep in these pages.

Besides this huge problem, there were other smaller ones. Along with not focusing on Jobs' point-of-view, the book often strayed to the story of those around him and became sidetracked by the creation of Apple products from the Mac to the iPad. Usually this is a technique to help explain the subject but here it only feels as if Isaacson was trying to fill out pages. He also does this through repetition of stories and facts (and crying and screaming galore), which gets annoying for the reader and makes one wonder if this novel was rushed through the editing phase.

Reading this, I can say I now know Apple, but I can't say I know Steve Jobs. Linked as they are, they aren't one and the same.

Not as dry as "Benjamin Franklin" yet not as impactful as "Einstein", three and a half stars.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Real Review: Infidel by Kameron Hurley



Link:  Infidel

It got better.

All the world-building and morally grey characters I loved in the first novel are just as good as before and all the problems I had with the plot are...GONE. Without having to dish out epic size awesome amounts of world-building Hurley gets to instead spend more time on fine tuning pace and plot and there's tons of pay off here. A quick, engaging, twisting read.

But don't think the world-building just went away. No, we get a whole new ride in our amusement park. Tirhan is kind of the Jerry Springer of our Bugpunkian world; it's polite, it wears a suit, and when it seems like things are getting boring in the war department it throws in a chair to spice things up. Add in some familiar refugees, some new shifter tricks, EVAL sand, and a group of rogue bel dames for plot stewing. The chair isn't even really needed for plot purposes, but it does prove Nyx can kill people with just about anything.

There are some brutal, Wow Out Loud moments in "Infidel". Go check out "God's War" if you haven't and get this one at the same time. This series is only getting better.

Four and half stars.

Real Review: Infinity Blade: Awakening by Brandon Sanderson


Don't buy this. Don't read this.

Not something you usually say atop a four star review but it's the truth. It's for your health. What we have here is a novella set between two video games and if you do read it you might get a case of what literature doctors call Acute Blue Ball-itis. It's a technical term.

Until Brandon Sanderson decides he's going to write a full novel on how the story ends, don't read it. This is the single reason I've marked it as four stars and not five stars. Other than that...it's great. I read up on the video game and all I can think is: how do you turn such a simple video game into such a deep well-developed fantasy world?

Brandon--Aww Shucks--Sanderson, that's how.

Four stars...cuz of the technical term...

Real Review: God's War by Kameron Hurley



Link:  God's War

Are you tired of farmboys?

Do you feel like if you read about another Great Evil that you might do yourself bodily harm?

Tired of swords and horsies, are you?

Good! Welcome to "God's War". There are bugs and holy wars and untypical characters inside its pages. The world Kameron Hurley creates is definitely New Weird and also in that wonderful gooey center where you can't decide if it should be called Sci-Fi or Fantasy. It has the best worldbuilding of any debut that I've read this year.

This world of bugpunk magic and boxing, of sands and war-torn wastelands, of matriarchal and patriarchal societies, of the different ways religion can turn based on the same text....of, of, of...this world held me from beginning to end. There's lots of `ofs'. There's a lot here to sink your teeth into.

The only reason I'm not giving it Five Stars and screaming "Debut of the Year" from the top of my surgically implanted lungs is that the plot was very unsure for the first hundred pages and then very all-over-the-place in the last fifty.

Still...I really liked it. I'm looking forward to the next novel in the series. Sadly I don't get to say that enough with new Spec-Fic writers. Check it out!

Four stars.

Real Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Link:  Ready Player One

I don't know if I have much to add that hasn't been said by the bijillion reviews this book has gotten. I'll just agree that I come down on the side of those who very much enjoyed the read for the great nostalgia popcorn that it was. "Ready Player One" is "Night at the Museum" for geeks, especially 80s geeks. I myself am more of a 90s geek but the five-year-old in me remembers some of the other awesomeness that happened to him. Though I must admit the novel lacked in shoulderpads and some of the other...bad parts...of the 80s.

Writing wise...you aren't going to be wowed. It's extremely didactic, the characters and plot go as you expect them to. "Ready Player One" lightly touches on some issues like over-population, corporation control, and internet alter-egos, but all of it is only the merest touch before we get back to all the "War Games" and "Monty Python" quotes. Boy might also get girl...or maybe boy might also get 40-year-old guy living in mother's basement as the joke is told and retold.

Don't expect high art; read fast and don't look behind you, Don't Panic, and you'll probably have a good time with this one.

Three and a half stars.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Real Review: One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire



Link:  One Salt Sea

There comes a point in every series where so many things have happened to get us here that the author just needs to trust the reader to remember or know some little fact without the info-dump. I'm pretty sure we've reached it with the October Daye books.

This could have been a good novel in the series...but there was just way too much info-dumping. Info-dumping about previous plots, info-dumping about character relations, info-dumping about magic, and info-dumping about the different types of fae. That's some serious dump...

Take away that big dumpy problem and "One Salt Sea" is good if not the best we've seen from the series. The plot was interesting, I liked it. A war...a new bunch of fae and kingdoms to check out. Saltmist has potential going forward... Characters? Kind of blah. I mean...same good stuff as we've seen before: Toby visiting the same places, calling the same people. But she's Toby and you got to love her gumption. I don't like Conner, never have liked Conner, and think he's probably 99.999% responsible for the blah.

A good outing dragged down by info-dumps, below the highpoint of "Late Eclipses".

Three stars.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

FYI, Little King Henry is Free On Amazon

"Little King Henry" joins "Prime Pickings" to be free on Amazon.  Generally these things run for about a month from what I understand, so get them while you can.  "Prime Pickings" should just about be up.

Little King Henry by Richard Raley on Amazon
Prime Pickings by Richard Raley on Amazon

Real Review: Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence




Here we have another "Debut of the Year". Fantasy publishers...please stop with that promotional tactic; I'll speak for the whole fanbase: we're sick of it. We don't believe you anymore. Too many of them have turned out disappointing or just outright bad. How about you let us decide what novel is the "Debut of the Year" and stop telling us?

/off of soapbox.

Is "Prince of Thorns" thee one? The "Debut of the Year"? Does Mark Lawrence get a cookie?

No...

Is "Prince of Thorns" good?

Yeah, kind of...

It had some things I didn't like: the age of the main character just isn't believable and seemed like it was there for cheap shock value. It believes that GRITTY IS GOOD, but gritty is neither good nor bad, it's only gritty. As always with a novel using two stories at two different times you have to be sure that both of them are equally good or else the reader will skim...I skimmed the flashbacks here.

It had some things I liked: the world was a future Earth screwed back into a medieval world by catastrophe. I'm always a sucker for those tales and some of the stuff here was pretty good.

It had some things I didn't like about the things I liked: the priests speaking Latin of all languages...the world being so easily medieval instead of even more of a mix than Lawrence showed us.

It had some things I liked about the things I didn't like: despite the age thing I routed for Jorg because as awful as he is...the antagonists are worse.

So no, not DOTY, but not bad.

3 stars.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Real Review: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

Link:  Ghost Story


I'm going to admit something most Dresden fans will disagree with.

I didn't really enjoy "Changes".

Wait, wait...stop sharpening the pitchforks, put up your tar, unpluck your chicken's feathers. There was just TOO much action. There was no moment for a break, no moment for the characters to think or grow or talk about anything. Action scene after action scene after action scene. There have been some good ones over the years, but they aren't my favorite part of Dresden.

What makes Dresden so good isn't the Five Goblin fights, it's the character moments. Which is why most of "Ghost Story" was such a nice change of pace for me. We finally got to see the effects of the "Changes"; we finally got to have a breath...to relax, to let the characters have a moment to reposition themselves in relation to each other. I won't spoiler, but I liked some of the new combos and directions the characters are taking.

This doesn't make "Ghost Story" perfect, in fact I was pretty bummed when it moved from breathing into full on fight mode as a climax to the novel's villain. The end of "Ghost Story" has to have two of the more corny scenes in the entire series. I think I could have done without the whole world-under-threat storyline. It felt like a side problem to Harry's life.

Three and half stars and give the curve...because as always: I want to read the next one.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Asylum Map

I don't feel like it's really needed but some asked for it and here is a ultra quick paint.net created map of the Asylum grounds.  Not to scale or anything, but you get the idea where the buildings/areas are at.

Click to Enlarge

Friday, September 30, 2011

Anne Boleyn, Vampire Baroness

In the words of the annoying mancer giving her problems:


Anne’s head tilted from one side of her shoulders to the other, long neck bending with it. Like she’s trying to see if the view changed my appearance. The ‘B’ on her neck shined with a flash, a damned beacon trying to get through to me.

“King Henry Price?” she asked again.

“I already answered you.”

“I’m sorry.” She shrugged, hands on her hips, rings rubbing against rough denim. “You’re just so ugly, aren’t you? Broken nose…so many scars. There’s nothing perfect about you. I thought with all the rumors about you being a hound that you’d be better looking. I supposed I shouldn’t be surprised since we live in a time where every woman will stick a toaster in herself if it vibrates quickly enough.

“Women have no standards at all anymore. They don’t want to work for the complete experience. Seduction takes too much time, better to make a blog post about wanting to ‘get to know people’ I think the phrase is.”

“Rumors…” I said.

I locked on the word, ignored the rest. Yup, she wasn’t there for the teapots. Good to know. Asylum toady? Guild spy? Another mancer testing me before she bought a commission? Could have worked for the government…but then maybe not with the clothes she was wearing. She might have been related to Welf too. All possibilities, none the correct answer.

“Look at his little brain go click,” Anne said. “So cute.”

I glanced at the ‘B’ one more time. “If I’m King Henry and you are really Annie B, then doesn’t that mean I get to cut your head off?” I asked, lips pulling back along my teeth.

Something shifted in her. The second gear that Asylum women have when they’re about you put you in place. “You’re going to close down your shop and then you’re going to come with me for a few days,” Annie B told me in plain terms suffering no argument. “I need someone with the skill-set for an Artificer kind of problem that isn’t prisoner to the Guild bylaws and you’ve been volunteered for it. If you try to cut my head off, I’ll kick your little ***. Understand, King Henry?”

Volunteered? Who would volunteer me? Who could volunteer me? Short list. Plutarch, Ceinwyn, or the Lady. “I don’t hire out or build or design without a contract and unless I say so and last I checked—you didn’t offer me payment.” My hands couldn’t take it anymore—they curled into fists. Plutarch, Ceinwyn, or the Lady. Which one would get a kick out of volunteering me without mentioning it to me? All of them. That didn’t help…

“Get out of my store before I build up the anima to smash you across the street, you pushy psycho *****.”

That’s when she punched me in the face so hard I tumbled backwards five feet and slammed into my shelf filled with glassware.



Read more on Annie B in The Foul Mouth and the Fanged Lady by Richard Raley: available on Amazon and Smashwords and Nook.  Or just type "Foul Mouth" into your Kindle...they'll know what you're talking about.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

FYI, Prime Pickings is Free on Amazon

Get it while you can, I don't control the length of the freeness.  If you like post-apocalyptic sci-fi you should enjoy it.

Prime Pickings by Richard Raley on Amazon Kindle

Friday, September 23, 2011

Meet Tyson Bonnie, Electromancer

In the words of the only other Ultra in town:

“Yeah, yeah.” I put the box back under the counter. “Takes about two hours to full charge using static electricity, quicker if you find a piece of carpet and start rubbing your arm against it. Theoretically you could attach it to a power-pad but I wouldn’t recommend it—too much power too quick might blow the containment field.”

“Wow, King Henry,” Tyson said, his face all lit up as he swung a lazy punch across his chest that was far too much arm and not enough body torque. “This is awesome. It’s just how I imagined it.”

“Speaking of that, satisfy some curiosity on this…how did you imagine it?”

A brief bit of embarrassment crossed his lit up face, his forehead crinkling. “Stole it from a fantasy novel.”

“****…”

“I know, you hate the things.”

I shook my head. Hated them? Nope, I was jealous that they had it so easy with their ‘magic’. The Mancy’s a long way from some wand flipping and twirling. “Next, you’ll want me to make you a lightsaber.”

His eyes got bright with crazy dreams. “Could you?”



Read more on Tyson in The Foul Mouth and the Fanged Lady by Richard Raley: available on Amazon and Smashwords and Nook.  Or just type "Foul Mouth" into your Kindle...they'll know what you're talking about.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Meet Ceinwyn Dale, Aeromancer

In the words of her favorite student:
“I ain’t going to your school, lady.” 
“Why not?” She was genuinely curious. Ceinwyn Dale, always the interested observer. 
“I’m not a freak. I get by. I got a life. So I fight, who gives a rat’s ***?” 
She picked up my iPod and browsed through the playlist. She had beautiful hands. Not a body part most guys notice, and Ceinwyn Dale had some others that were pretty noticeable, but her delicate fingers and sapphire fingernails drew the eye when she used them in front of you. Nimble manipulation, just like the rest of her, turning those fleshy stubs into the finest tool, skinny and elegant. “Is this the entirety of your reasons? 
“I got a girl.” 
“And you love her?” The smile quirked extra. 
“Sure. I guess.” Love wasn’t a big emotion in the Price household. We had trouble managing giving a ****
“Or do you just like what you get to do with her?” 
“That too.” 
One part about Ceinwyn Dale I started figuring out during that first conversation is she mocks everyone but she treats her kids the same as she does adults. Which I wasn’t seeing much of back then. It was inclusive and part of the reason she’s such a good recruiter. 
“You’ll have to give her up.”



Read more on Ceinwyn Dale in The Foul Mouth and the Fanged Lady by Richard Raley: available on Amazon and Smashwords and Nook.  Or just type "Foul Mouth" into your Kindle...they'll know what you're talking about.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Meet King Henry Price, Geomancer

In his own words:
I was screwed up beyond all repair by then.  Only reason I hadn’t been to Juvie was that I had an extra something the other delinquents didn’t have, not that I realized it at the time of my crimes.  All I knew was that I was lucky.  Yeah, cursed more like it.  But back then, it sure was nice to be sitting in the shopping mart contemplating stealing some magazines or candy bars or Chinese-assembled electronics when a display magically fell apart to be a distraction I desperately needed. 
Cigarettes and electronics had been my steals of choice right before I was co-opted into another life and if it wasn’t for the Asylum, I’d be well on my way to lung cancer by now, or dead twenty times over.  Not from hard stuff like you’re thinking—worse I can admit to is bumming some weed when I could—but from fighting.  I loved to get into a fight.  Still do. 
Here I am twenty-one years old and I’m lucky to hit five-foot-eight on some very generous tape-measures.  Back then, middle school and elementary ****holes with babysitting teachers and cruel lunch-ladies, it was even worse.  Some district counselor got all doctor on me and diagnosed it as a Napoleon Complex; that I was trying to prove I was tough despite my size.  But it wasn’t that. 
I liked to fight.


Read more on King Henry in The Foul Mouth and the Fanged Lady by Richard Raley: available on Amazon and Smashwords.  Or just type "Foul Mouth" into your Kindle...they'll know who you're talking about...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Real Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson



Link:  The Way of Kings

Brandon Sanderson is one of the most creative forces in Fantasy today and I have to praise him for it. 2011 and we are still strapped down by this notion of GRITTY IS GOOD and our supposedly gifted writing minds are left to play the same stories in the same medieval worlds over and over again. But not Brandon Sanderson, not “The Way of Kings”.

This novel could have been riddled with tropes, it could have started with a farmboy, two friends, and a wizard, and I would have forgiven it. Only it didn’t. Plot = creative. World = creative. Magic = creative. Book itself = gorgeous. Paid for by Sanderson himself, as I understand it, “the Way of Kings” hardcover is worth the price alone, filled with illustrations and colored maps. If more novels looked like this instead of the paper-thin ready-to-fall-apart-on-the-second-read-through messes the publishers put out nowadays, I wouldn’t have moved over to the Kindle.

“The Way of Kings” and the Stormlight Archive will be the most influential fantasy novel/series since Martin added the Character-Killing-Wheel-o’-Death to the genre in 1996. Every page of it remembers…we’re only bound by what we can’t imagine. We can make any world we want. Authors don’t even need to pay for CGI.  It marries the New Weird with the Traditional...that's an important step.

While Sanderson’s prose sometimes is mocked as awkward, here it proves workman-like and that’s to its advantage, beautiful words would have only distracted from the world he builds before the reader. Instead we’re left to enjoy and ponder over Roshar. Of Shadeplate and Shadeblades, of Stormlight and Windrunners, of Fabrials and Knights Radiant. We are plopped down on wind-swept wastelands where life only shows itself after the storm. We see unhindered shattered lands of running slave crews and assassins who seem to defy gravity.

My only complaints have to do with the Shallan character taking so long to get going, the Kaladin flashbacks that don't seem to keep up with the rest of the novel, and...that no one seemed to teach Sanderson how to curse as a teenager. Storm you? Really?  Try: Stick it up your storm hole.  Better...

More like this, fantasy authors, more like this. Four and a half stars and give the man a curve.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review: The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett



Link:  The Warded Man

It’s important to understand that going into THE WARDED MAN you aren’t going to get anything groundbreaking when it comes to character or story. This is very much in the Eddings/Brooks mold of following the Monomyths that was prevalent in the 70s and 80s. There’s a farming village…it has a boy in it…he’s probably going to save the world. Or maybe not…

What Brett brings and proves to be the most interesting thing he’s done, is an idea and theme. What happens to humanity if we’re truly scared of the night? Once upon a time mankind knew this fear. The sun went down and fire left us only a few feet to see. There were lions and tigers and bears and maybe even men roaming the forests. We had reason to fear, we locked ourselves in castles, we banded together, we never slept sound…but we lost that. Now we have all the glories of civilization, light bulbs, door locks, shotguns, Chihuahuas barking at four AM at the paper delivery boy…shut up, Cisco!

But here, with THE WARDED MAN, what Brett does is take us back into that past and then pushes down the gas pedal. He creates a world where demons roam and if you aren’t behind wards you aren’t going to be making it through the night. If your ward fails you also aren’t going to be making it through the night. If……well, let’s just say there’s a lot of ways those demons are going to make it so you don’t live through the night.

This theme and how Brett plays with society as it confronts it are the best parts of THE WARDED MAN. As we know, humans can get pretty ingenious…especially those farmboys…

Four stars for nice ideas but bad farmboys.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Review: The Black Prism by Brent Weeks



Link:  Black Prism

Green Lantern meets the Man with the Iron Mask. This seems like an absurd combination to describe something, but that is exactly what "the Black Prism" is, and even more absurdly...it works. It has heaps of world-building and a Jordanian precise magic system. Instantly I thought of Brandon Sanderson's style when I heard of color and light magic, and they do have much in common when it comes to the breath and scope of their worlds...thought Weeks knows how to curse...and apparently his characters actually have sex, even the non-married ones...especially the non-married ones...

Weeks created a world of light, where light is used to build and destroy, where light is used to kill and protect, where the sun is the most important object in the entire world, even more important than in our own. He has yellow buildings, blue tools, mirror armor, and boats made of every single hue. Perhaps the most interested creation is Weeks' version of the White Tower, which rotates to follow the sun. I liked the visual, sir.

It is not without its faults. I used Green Lantern to describe it and, yes, it feels like a comic book at times. Those who don't like Erikson hyper-fantasy might best stay away. If you're into green golems and blue crystal wrights though...you're going to have some fun.

As far as character, this is an area that lacked. Kip is a whiny farmboy, Liv is a perfect student, etc. Only Gavin Guile proved to have depth and some wonderful skeletons in his closet. The humor was also comic book worthy...earning many a groan. Despite these faults, I'll be getting the next in hardcover. Weeks is one to watch. He dreams big. Writers still content with just swords and horses could learn a thing or two from him.

Four stars.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Real Review: Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey



Link:  Leviathan Wakes

Leviathan Wakes gave me the most fun read of the year; as far as FUN goes it had more of it than even “The Heroes”, “Wise Man’s Fear” or especially “A Dance with Dragons.” I enjoyed almost everything about this book. I enjoyed the space-jockey aspect, the noir mystery, the vomit zombies, and the WORLD IS GOING TO END back half. It all plays well.

It doesn’t feel like each part shouldn’t naturally lead to the next part and the stakes keep rising in a way that you’re pretty sure the authors are just crazy enough to blow up the solar system. They make it absolutely clear they’ll kill some characters, and if they don’t kill them maybe they’ll just irradiate them, or suffocate them, or pressurize their eyeballs out their heads….so many ways to die in space…

The best part of the novel is the world they’ve chosen to play in. A solar system bound humanity, not stuck on Earth, not yet reached out towards the stars. We see all the troubles this brings the species: population control, gravity mutations, economic concerns, rationing of resources, knowing all it takes is for one asteroid driver to crack your planet like a walnut.

If I’m forced to complain about something I could say Miller as a character was a bummer to follow for half the novel.

Check this one out.

Four stars.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Real Review: Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews



Link:  Magic Slays

Not as good as the last but it still deserves all the praise. My favorite Urban Fantasy series for one reason: Andrews figured out it’s not about the Urban in the genre, it’s about the Fantasy. Yes, it has many of the same plot lines as the other novels in the genre. Romance plot with a big tough Were, far too many men interested in the main character, younger plucky ward/apprentice, character never having enough money. It has all that…

But where Andrews succeeds to rise above is in the world-building. This isn’t a series about a city, it’s a series about a world changed, a world switching between magical and normal life. It has thousands of years of history. It has vampires as necro-mobiles not the boring old bloodsuckers, it has complex Were-societies, and characters drawn out of fairy tales and the oldest of mythologies.

“Magic Slays” itself, I’m not as much of a fan of it as the last. It had good moments, but the single book plot was stymied by the fact that we know the big scary bomb won’t kill every single character in the series. The minute you put Kate and Curran in a situation with a countdown you know everything will mostly work out. Bestselling authors don’t kill ALL their characters. Only Richard Castle can get away with that…because he’s fake.

As for the over-arching plot of Kate and Roland…that was still great stuff. Can’t wait to see where this goes in the next one. Read the series: read THEE Urban Fantasy series.  You won't be disappointed.

4 Stars.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Real Review: Heartless by Gail Carriger





Link:  Heartless


This is the best in the series since the first. The style and atmosphere of these books don't belong in Scotland or Italy, they belong in merry ol' London. There's something about the time period and the city that just makes the absurdity of it all work. Yes, why not a woman fighting the paranormal with a parasol? Yes, why not rampaging mechanical creations in the streets? Yes, why not a pregnant woman waddling around - her words, not mine, ladies! - trying to save the queen? Why not poisonous porcupines? Why not teacups of doom?

I give Carriger points for marrying the paranormal to steampunk and then both of those to the Victorian Age. In a genre where much of the same will sell just fine, each addition was a risk, and it's worked out well for her and for her fans. I will happily read the next.

Three and a half stars and give the curve or else Floote will just find it anyway.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Real Review: The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

Link: The Wise Man's Fear

I should hate this book. I said these words to myself a number of times during my read of it, more often than GRRM uses "You know nothing, Jon Snow". Probably more than even a number during the Fae Super Sexathon. I should hate this book. The main character is a Mary-Sue on HGH, a lot of the plot is author created problems revolving around money, and well...Fae Super Sexathon and all. I should hate this book.

Yet...I don't hate it. I actually had a great time with it from cover to cover. Rothfuss processes an ability to draw you in with his prose, to make you sit at his feet, pull up your knees, and listen to storytime just like when you were in kindergarten. If you were home-schooled, I'm sorry this metaphor goes over your head.

Some of what I like is simply the first-person narrative doing its thing. First-person is either BAD or GOOD and here we have GOOD. Another part is the school story showing its power yet again. Buffy, Harry Potter, etc., so forth, that school setting just calls out to us. Even poor Spider-man is going back to school!

For the rest we are left with Rothfuss' words, his love for stories interweaving with each other, his careful attention to detail, and his ability to drop hints at what's coming up ahead of you and for Kvothe. Rothfuss gets us to pay attention and there's no skipping over the elf songs here. Sorry, Tolkien...

This novel does have its problems. The mercenaries felt like Aiel 2.0. Kvothe conquering a sex goddess was...laughable at times. As mentioned, the money worries might have taken up too much of the novel and are purely arbitrary tensions created by Rothfuss himself. Some would complain about Denna, but not me, I have little problem with Denna, she's one of the better characters. The problem is just Kvothe...who is a real jack BLEEP and he's at his most BLEEPY around Denna.

Not a perfect novel, but a novel that does have some perfect scenes in it, the Freaky Tree of Doom being the most perfect of all.

Really, all of the Kingkiller Cronicles hangs in balance on the last book, much like the First Law Trilogy did on Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie. We'll see if it was worth the years then, so onward to "The Doors of Stone".

Three and a half but give the man a curve.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Real Review: The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie

Link: The Heroes


Joe Abercrombie does some of the best character work in all of fantasy. A few look down on him for his outcomes being too nihilistic but no one can look down on him for being boring. This seems to be Abercrombie's main style. To entertain and delight with quirky characters, use of inventive narrative structure, and hit us with twists and turns that knock us silly. For some...too silly, silly enough that they resent the shock.

With "The Heroes" specifically it is structure that wins out over everything else. We are given a look at a single engagement that takes place during a war and that engagement is split into three days, with maps accompanying them. We are given a chapter that follows around a letter and another that jumps from dead man to dead man in the middle of a battle. Structure plays a very large part in Abercrombie's work and you can always expect a new look at something very old for the genre.

Characters actually proved a problem in "The Heroes" for me. Not that they weren't as screwed up and internally motivated as I've come to expect from Abercrombie. Gorst's inner dialogue got more than a few chuckles, we saw the most fully dimensional female character yet for Abercrombie, and I couldn't help but root for a prince's plans to work out. They are fine characters...for about 99% of authors...

For Abercrombie, however...I found myself thinking of the Bloody Nine, of the Crippled, of Cosca and Monza. As fun as Gorst might be to read, or any of the characters of "The Heroes" might be to read, they aren't as good as the characters who came before, and that limits the reader's connection with the work. I guess what I'm saying is...you did too well of a job the first time through, Joe, try to suck some next time, okay?

Friday, August 12, 2011

The King Henry Tapes: The Asylum

School stories are everywhere. Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ender’s Game, Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller, and Veronica Mars to name a few I liked. Talk about popularity. Even X-Men, Star Trek went back to school in the last couple years and Spider-Man is joining them next summer.  There’s something about the high school situation that draws us back to do it all over again and again and again in fiction, and again and again and again we eat it right up.

For my school I created the Asylum and an Asylum needs patientst ...here is a first look at the Asylum:

Child’s Name (Mancy Type)
King Henry Price (Geomancer)
Heinrich Welf (Necromancer)
Valentine “Boomworm” Ward (Pyromancer)
Asa Kayode (Hydromancer)
Miranda Daniels (Aeromancer)
Estefan Ramirez (Electromancer)
Debra Diaz (Electromancer)
Curt Chambers (Spectromancer)
Malaya Mabanaagan (Spectromancer)
Quinn Walden (Spectromancer)
Ronaldo Silva (Cryomancer)
Raj Malik (Cryomancer)
Hope Hunting (Cryomancer)
Miles Hun Pak (Sciomancer)
Eva Reti (Sciomancer)
Naomi Gullick (Floromancer)
Preston “Pocket” Landry (Floromancer)
Timeeko Lewis (Floromancer)
Nicholas Hanson (Floromancer)
Sandra Kemp (Floromancer)
Patrick “Rick” Brown (Faunamancer)
Jesus Valencia (Faunamancer)
Jessica Edwards (Faunamancer)
Robin White (Faunamancer)
Athir Al-Qasimi (Mentimancer)
Isabel Soto (Corpusmancer)
Samuel Bird (Corpusmancer)
Yvette Reynolds (Corpusmancer)
Jason Jackson (Corpusmancer)
Nizhoni Sherman (Corpusmancer)

To find out more about the Asylum, get ready for THE FOUL MOUTH AND THE FANGED LADY on September 1st!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The King Henry Tapes: The Mancy

I used elemental magic for THE KING HENRY TAPES. It’s very common, pops up again and again in fantasy and provides a good base.  Only I didn’t want to just be lazy about it, I wanted to add my twist to it just like I did the all the rest in THE FOUL MOUTH AND THE FANGED LADY.

I ended up with this, something very much in the Magic System school of thought...here is a first look at the Mancy:

Mancy Type – Element (Ultra Title) 
Necromancy – Death (Bonegrinder)
Pyromancy – Fire (Firestarter)
Geomancy – Earth (Artificer)
Aeromancy – Air (Winddancer)
Hydromancy – Water (Riftwalker)
Electromancy – Lightning (Stormcaller)
Cryomancy – Ice (Winterwarden)
Sciomancy – Shadow (Shadeshifter)
Spectromancy – Light (Beaconkeeper)
Floromancy – Plant (Forestplanter)
Faunamancy – Animal (Beasttalker)
Mentimancy – Mind (Mindmaster)
Corpusmancy – Body (Facechanger) 

To find out more about the Mancy, get ready for THE FOUL MOUTH AND THE FANGED LADY on September 1st!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

RReview: Masters of Doom by David Kushner

Link:  Masters of Doom

Rank:  Get it Now!

Comment:  Not just for video game fans, a great read about technology and innovation, about a group of guys who wanted to do things their own way.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Betrothal: The Three Types of Zoo

A BETROTHAL excerpt on Zoos, yes, Zoos:

There are three different types of zoo entrance:  the Wilderness Type, the Prison Type, and the Kong type. 
The Wilderness Type is employed by a committee of public trust shareholders that have never actually been camping much less in the Outback/Anaconda River/African Savannah, yet they know what the wild is supposed to look like, so all is well.  This is why the Wilderness Type of zoo ends up with heaps of big fake logs, plastic looking rocks, and a roof that mimics a hut with lots of dead straw and twigs.  It looks good at the opening of the zoo but after a few years gets really messy:  the logs need to be chopped down, the vines die, the rocks rust, the straw blows all over the place, and the janitors are always being called out to clean it up.  The Wilderness Type says, “We’re wild and crazy and you can be wild and crazy too!  Growl!” 
The Prison Type is contrasting with the Wilderness Type.  Its modern, it gets the job done, and it doesn’t take hostages.  Walking to a Prison Type of entrance you are greeted with queues—metal railings bracketing you in on each side, forcing you to transverse the twisting line of steel and boredom—while bland elevator music is pumped into overhead speakers, quelling your rising frustrations.  Once you escape from the queue you are led to a factory-like line of ticket booths, the workers encased in steel and glass with that small hole to trade money for tickets and the even smaller hole for you to talk to the cashier.  When you finally have the ticket you are buzzed through an electronically locked door and on the other side your safety is in your own hands.  The Prison Type says, “We have tried our best to keep you from getting killed, we don’t want to have to clean up your remains.” 
The Kong Type is created for the sole purpose of creating a sense of awe, both in the attendee and in the designers who think quite a lot of themselves.  The Kong Type has a giant front door opened wide; the space between hinting at what awaits you inside.  Maybe there is a colossal arch towering over your head, and statues, lots of statues:  brass, bronze, stone, all kinds of statues of elephants, tigers, and other dangerous predators.  And animal shaped bushes, can’t forget that.  Maybe someone even gets the bright idea to have the animals dragged outside and walk through the concrete when it is settling so there are giant paw and hoof marks under your feet.  The Kong Type says, “You are not prepared for my wonder!” 
I am sorry to disappoint after all that, but the zoo we went to wasn’t a Kong Type. A Kong Type in Utah? Come on people. Set up your expectations about things. Has anything really been Kong Type in this entire novel? Except for Tad…

THE BETROTHAL: OR HOW I SAVED ALAN EDWARDS FROM 40 YEARS OF HELL by Richard Raley, available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Betrothal Breakfast

A BETROTHAL excerpt for a common morning breakfast:

By six of the next morning, I was up and about, showered then changed into my trusty khakis and t-shirt. Sam had headed off my ability to enter their room for access to my clothes at the pass and instead made me share closet space with Tad, so getting them wasn’t a problem, though seeing Tad in his little g-string again was. 
By seven, breakfast for four was well on its way. When Hannah and Sam made their appearance it was to the smells of sausage, bacon, pancakes, and toast. “And he cooks, why am I not surprised?” 
“Be nice, Sam,” Hannah scolded her sister. 
“I didn’t know what you two like so I made a bit of everything,” I told them, putting the plates of food out on the table before I headed back into the Den of the Cheetah G-Strings once more. 
Opening the door, I was greeted by Tad’s butt cheeks as they saluted the ceiling. It’s something I know I’m going to have nightmares about for the rest of my life. I’ll never be able to look at spotted cats the same way again, to say nothing of reading National Geographic. 
“Tad, wake up and put on some clothes!” This got no reaction, so I smacked him on the shoulder, which only earned me a groan and that weirded me out even more. Desperate measures: “Hannah and Sam are making out in the other room.” 
Tad snapped up like I’d dunked him in cold water. “Wha’ was that?” 
“Hannah and Sam are going to eat all the food,” I lied. 
“Oh…I thought you said something else.” 
“Must have been dreaming something.” 
“Yeah,” Tad grinned, “Good dream though.” 
The four of us sat down and had breakfast. I learned rather quickly that Sam is one of those people that just doesn’t like the morning hours of the day. She said little, glared often, and the only communication she seemed capable of was grunts and growls. “I need coffee,” she finally confessed. 
“Tad and I can get some when we’re out with Alan,” I offered her. 
“I suppose my cousin has everything planned out and we all have to follow the queen’s will?” Sam snarled 
“You’re in a bad place today,” Hannah stated the obvious, but did it in such a sweet way that you immediately forgave her for it. 
Looking down at a glass of orange juice I had taken to time to freshly squeeze, Sam sobbed. “I need coffee!”

THE BETROTHAL: OR HOW I SAVED ALAN EDWARDS FROM 40 YEARS OF HELL by Richard Raley, like "The Sun Also Rises" without all the excessive drinking, available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

New Covers

The last time, I promise!  It's actually only the second cover for PRIME PICKINGS.  My problem with the first was purely with how plain it managed to look.



I kept the exact same design but changed the fonts, Engravers to Pistolgrip, and whatever that plain white one is to Rockwell Bold with an outline.  MUCH better, MUCH easier to see.  Also notice that lovely bit at the top preparing for the amazing King Henry Price, whose first book comes out in a few weeks.


I also redid THE BETROTHAL.  I know...it's like the 3rd one.  The problem with it the first time was that you couldn't see the subtitle:


The problem with it the second time, which I actually liked, was that Amazon hated this cover, it messed up the newsprint style any time it shrunk it and made it look horrible.  I also got complaints about the swirling font, which I admit is probably something that works better with a physical copy a potential buyer will try to pick up and twist to read.

Now...Number Three, same background but just having fun with Pistolgrip font, matching up THE BETROTHAL with PRIME PICKINGS and all the other covers I have coming out over the next three years (besides THE KING HENRY TAPES, which used The Battle Continuez Graffiti font).  To me it is a cleaner and bolder cover.


What does the Russian judge think?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Real Review: A Dance With Dragons by George RR Martin.

Link:  A Dance With Dragons on Amazon (Hey, look who has a top review!)

*Beware, Minor Spoilers*

If you had told me to make a list off the top of my head before I sat down to read this novel, of events I'd want to see, or resolutions I was looking for, it would have been something like:

Dany mastering her dragons, escaping the Meereen situation, and heading west.
Tyrion arriving at Dany's court to serve her in his unique ways.
The battle with the Others finally starting in a serious way.
Jon learning who he is.
Cersei's trial and the unleashing of FrankinGregor.
What is Jaime going to do?
Is Briennie dead, what did she say to get out of the noose?
Quentyn arriving at Dany's court and revealing Dorne's plans to her.
Victarion using the horn to control the dragons.
Bran meeting the Greenseer and finishing his training.
Arya finishing her training.

A pretty obvious list based on the story so far, right? I would have been happy with 3 of these stories moving along, 4 would have been downright wonderful. Instead I got one and a half. And the kicker...it's the last one and a half I would have chosen.

This would have been bad enough...only it got worse. GRRM manages to add two more very interesting plotlines, one of which is Stannis' battle for the North, the other of which we'll let be a secret, and he gives no resolution for them either.

This is a novel that ended 200 hundred pages short. Throughout all of it we are given two "big" stories, the North and the East, and both of them look to lead towards large power altering battles that will rival the Blackwater...only we never get to them. The book stops before BOTH.

It is a novel filled with ships sailing, and sailing, and sailing some more. Of marching, and marching, and marching some more. Jon Snow becomes muddled in food stores, concerned with wildlings, with not an Other in sight of the wall. Dany reverts back to trying to save absolutely everyone, doing anything at all to make a false peace, and turns on her own dragons. Cersei has 2 chapters, Jaime 1, and both of them feel like they should have either been included into AFFC or left out till Book 6. Bran and Ayra train, but it has no end in sight.

Tyrion....Tyrion learns to cherish his inner dwarf. If all this doesn't sound exciting, don't worry, you will be lucky enough to get to read near 50 pages of food descriptions scattered about the novel. There is also about 100 "You know nothing, Jon Snows", about 50 "Words are Wind" and considerable "I must go forward" and something about Lannister's and debts I didn't know about...

I can't say it was all bad. If there wasn't good I wouldn't be so disappointing in where the book ended after all. Reek, Barristan, Asha, and Davos were all fantastic, the single Melisandre chapter shed much light on a certain bastard's destiny, and my main-dragon Drogon was the star of the book.

But...I have just finished 1000 pages, it is fresh in my mind, and what drives me to my disappointment is the thought of another 5 years...where I will have my list above, one scratched off, and yet two more added.

3.5 but it doesn't deserve the curve.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Betrothal: Arch-Burgers

A BETROTHAL excerpt on the types of fast-food joint you might find yourself in.


A lot of people falsely believe that every fast-food burger place is the same, but this is far from the truth. Like most things in the universe there are three distinct types of Arch-Burgers and its cousins. It’s a rule. 
The most common kind is the Zombie Arch-Burgers. You walk into these all the time and it’s the general view of what people think of when they think fast-food. Workers that are barely awake with grease stains on their clothes, stale fries, microwaved burgers, and five day old nuggets—or tenders or strips or whatever the corporation has trademarked—that taste like cardboard, that type of thing. The whole place has this feeling like it has lost its brains and is looking for another one, maybe yours. With secret sauce on top. Or maybe the secret sauce is made out of brains…oh my Earth Goddess, I cracked the code! I feel like Robert Langdon… 
The next rarest form is the Uber Arch-Burgers. Merely stepping inside will tell you if you are inside of an Uber Arch-Burgers. First, it will be clean. But, there will also be expensive decorations, usually something somber yet inspiring an artistic heady flair, like model ships or cast-iron animals. Somewhere in an Uber Arch-Burgers you will also find a television, and probably a brand new one, with the news turned on and a few yuppies drinking coffee around it while they use the Uber WiFi to update their social networking sites about the fact they are eating at an Arch-Burgers…because people really care. Optional is a section just for children, with a ball pit and jungle gym that you might even find at a Zombie Arch-Burgers, but also with added video game stands that usually ended up drawing Tad and I like a bee to honey and eventually getting us kicked out once enough parents complain about us hogging the toys. 
Rarest of all fast-food, is the Crazy Arch-Burgers. If you’ve been in one, you know what I’m talking about. The Crazy Arch-Burgers literally sits on top of some kind of mystical fairy magic field and draws every crazy person within five miles to it, and those that aren’t crazy are made crazy just by walking in the door. I once walked into a Crazy Arch-Burgers and in the course of one meal happened to have one guy sit across from me out of nowhere and act like I wasn’t even there, another lady walk in with her own homemade sammich and not order a single thing, another guy walk in and order breakfast at two in the afternoon before throwing a hissy fit on his way out about ‘You can’t even get burger in this place!’, and the finale before I ran outside screaming to try to warn people away was a kid cutting his arm on the ball slide, and blood fountaining out like he was in a Tarantino movie. Beware the Crazy Arch-Burgers, it will change you…and not for the better.

You can read more Arch-Burger adventures in THE BETROTHAL: OR HOW I SAVED ALAN EDWARDS FROM 40 YEARS OF HELL by Richard Raley, available at Amazon and Smashwords.