Book Review: Cartwright’s Cavaliers

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Hey Space Cadets, here is the next installment in my series of book reviews.  As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m working on book four of The Sleeping Legion Series.  Full speed ahead, and damn the torpedoes or something!  I will hold what I made in book three; loads of action, some surprises and a lot of exploding goodness.  Don’t believe me?  Read it for yourself, Operation Breakout is live!  Now I’m working on the last two novels in The Sleeping Legion Series and outlining my next project.  It’s based off of one of my twisted dreams, I think it’s gonna be the next big thing in science fiction.  It feels like a winner, but you’ll have to wait and see!

 

But enough about me, onto this specific review.  After I read book two in this series as an ARC, I knew I wanted more.  So, what did I do?  I bought book one of course!  Now let’s get to it!

 

Title:  Cartwright’s Cavaliers

Author:  Mark Wandrey

Price:  $3.99 USD (Kindle Edition)

Obtained:  I bought this story and audiobook off Amazon after loving another book in the series, Asbaran Solutions.

Pages:  473

 

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Rating:  5/5 Grenades

5 Grenade

 

 

Summary:

First, let me say that none of what I’ll say in this section couldn’t be found on the back copy of the novel.  I wanted to provide a spoiler free review, so here goes nothing!  Ultimately, this is a family saga, a tale of redemption and one man’s journey to acceptance.  The main character, Jimmy Cartwright, was the only son of the owner and commanding officer of Cartwright’s Cavaliers.  Heir to one of the leading “Four Horsemen” mercenary companies, he was all set to inherit the family business.  Except he had one little hurdle.  His mom bankrupted the family business, running off with the money and he was too fat for field work to remake the family fortune.  He wasn’t just chubby, he was morbidly obese and not fit for field work.  Lucky for Jim, his predecessors were smart, they’d created a charitable endowment that left outdated equipment Jim could use to complete the next contract.  And then, just maybe, resurrect the company. It’s up to Jim to find the people he needs to operate the machinery of war, train them, and lead them to victory. But the company will only be saved if he’s good enough.
 

Characters: 

There are two main characters in this story; Jim Cartwright and the Cartwright’s Cavaliers mercenary company.

 

Jim Cartwright:  He is the main character in this story, on a quest to save his birthright.  Jim comes to his majority just as his mom robs the family company blind, making a series of bad business decisions.  We suspect she embezzled from the company, though this isn’t spelled out in the text.  The author, Mark Wandrey, is good like that.  He writes layers, like an onion.  With nothing to lose, Jim uses a few corporate cast offs to rebuild the company.  By saving the company, he can prove his worth to the long line of Cartwright’s who’d made the company great.   At first, I didn’t know what to make of the character the author created.  He laid it on thick, talking about the largeness of Jim’s girth.  He didn’t go for chubby, or a few extra pounds, but truly morbidly obese.  Okay, that is believable but then the overall effect was a character that was more YA than Mil SciFy.  I liked him because I know how hard it can be to struggle with your weight.  But it felt a little out of place for a military science fiction action hero.  As time went on he grew on me even more.  He was a Brony, which also felt too YA for my tastes, but the story was too fast paced to make it an issue.  Overall, Jim had a definitive character arc, was flushed out and thoroughly described.  You never felt like he was a blank shell, he was a character all on his own.  I liked that with the loss of his parents, through death and abandonment, Jim made his company his family his priority.  I deeply respected him for it.  Jim’s love of his new family, Cartwright’s Cavaliers, was the best feature of the child thrust into manhood amid a legacy at its lowest point in living memory.

 

Cartwright’s Cavaliers: This is the company that is at the heart of the adventures of Jim Cartwright.  This company serves as Jim’s new family, and the story is about saving it at all costs.  It’s a connection with his heritage and his forefathers.  The company personifies special time he spent perched on his father’s shoulder learning about the galaxy and the mercenary life that Earth provided to the sentient species whom inhabited it.  With its mere existence, this company drives the plot and serves as the invisible puppet master pulling all the strings.

 

Plot: 

Like most of the military science fiction I love to read, this was an action-packed novel.  Heck, maybe it was even more action-packed than some?  The beginning was a bit of a flashback, and we get to watch Jim grow up into the adult who reaches his majority as the company fails.  I wasn’t able to read this book from start to finish in one setting because of its length but I wanted too.  I believed that the tactics worked for the novel, especially the mechanized ones.  The action on the ground was believable, given the world building the author created.  I loved all of the bad assed mech like their CASPer’s, the main mech toy for the human merc companies.  With this workhorse of the mercs you can get away with a run and gun strategy.  No need for too much sophistication, it’d feel out of place.  When you’re King Cong, you don’t sneak around.  Why would you?  The story flowed seamlessly from one plot point to another, which made it easy to read and follow.

 

World Building:

This is the second book I’ve read by Mark Wandrey, but between his first book (which I loved) and solid reviews I was sold.  I wasn’t disappointed!  Hell, I’ll probably check out more of his books across his universes.  This world was very flushed out, and left you curious about the larger universe.  I can’t wait to read the rest of this series, and see where else the universe expands too.  While this is science fiction, and you definitely need to have some suspension of belief for the aliens Mark Wandrey invents.  However, within the universe he builds they’re totally believable.  Cartwright’s Cavaliers definitely had shades of the Prodigal Son, just like the other book in the series.  Unlike other authors, Mark does everything with a metric butt ton of death and explosions.  The one part I wasn’t thrilled about was the concept of Earth evolving into a system of the mercenary corporate planet, without any nation states, but it is a common trope in science fiction.  Overall, this didn’t dissuade me from enjoying this story and I’m aware that many people LOVE those kinds of universe set ups.  In a nut shell, the world building gets an A- from me, but only because of the lack of explanations on HOW we became a planet without nations.

 

Description: 

This book was chalk full of visualization, and you could definitely imagine yourself in this world.  It felt very flushed out, and there were times where you could even smell the aliens.  I love it when a book is this immersive, where it takes you deeply into the world.  For me, if a book isn’t described enough that I can imagine myself into the story.  If a story is truly good, I often find myself imagining what happens when the book ends.  That doesn’t work in books where the world wasn’t flushed out.  In this category, Mark gets an A+++!

 

Overall:

I really loved this book, though the Brony thing seemed forced and unnecessary.  Also, there was an unspecified romance (spoiler free remember) that felt forced and unnecessary.  It didn’t serve the plot, though I’d concede it could come into play in later books.  That aside, the novel was awesomely written and the cover was amazing.  The cover art was awesome, heck I even hired the artist for my No Marine Left Behind novelette.  And the plot was everything a science fiction fan will love, definitely 5 out of 5 Grenades.  Mark Wandrey had me hooked from the beginning, and kept it going throughout the whole novel.  It’s an amazing adventure, a look into Mark’s twisted imagination, and leaves you wishing that his therapist had a therapist.  This is a book I would happily recommend, and an author I will definitely read again.  Heck, I would even recommend that you buy the novel!  But hey, it’s easy to spend someone else’s money!

 

 

If this book sounds like it’s right up your alley, check it out, you won’t regret it!  Well, unless it motivates you to develop your own mech goodness.  So you take loads of science classes, and graduate from college.  Your mom will be so proud, you’ll be so proud and then you’ll get a job so you can play in cool labs.  And since you’re so proud of your achievements, you rush through looking for the next one.  After handing your buddy your drink, you say “I’ve got this, hold my beer.”  But it doesn’t go as planned.  BOOM!  You’ve blown up not just your lab, but the entire city you live in.  You become the most hated person in your state, and the fodder for a generations of internet memes.  Well yeah, I guess this could be bad for your health.  But hey, at least you got to see your house from orbit as you flew into the air, seconds from death.  On second thought, be warned, fanboy/fangirl syndrome MIGHT kill you.  Be wary, you were warned and if you have to go out like that at least enjoy the view from up there!

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are used on the Fair Use Doctrine.

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Another book baby leaves the nest!!

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Hello Space Cadets, I wanted to let you know that today the official release of my third novel!!  I’m still pinching myself, is it a dream?  Cause if it is, don’t wake me up!!  It feels surreal, and nobody has pinched me to tell me it was all a dream.  Please, whatever you do, don’t breathe because you could knock me over with a feather right now.  Operation Breakout, the third novel in my Sleeping Legion Series is live, and for a short time it’s on sale!!  Early bird special, $0.99 USD (or local equivalent)!!  Can you believe it?  After all that blabbering, it is finally here!  Go on, get into the trenches with me and take a look, and tell the world what you think!

 

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Buy Me!

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are used on the Fair Use Doctrine.

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SciFy Shenanigans: MK Clark

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Hey Space Cadets, how’s everyone doing today?  I’m doing amazing, going through the scheduled panels to pick my RavenCon schedule.  I should have that posted this weekend, so if you’re there you can say hello!  Now, let’s get right to the point of my latest blog posting!  Yes, I’ve gotten bit by the interview bug!  They’re still super fun, because I get to talk to a lot of interesting people.  Would you believe I was once called “motor mouth” as a kid?  I know, it’s hard to believe!  Anyway, enough about me, here is another installment of the SciFy Shenanigans.  I took out my weed whacker – and cut the weeds back enough that I found MK Clark!  Grab your popcorn and enjoy the ride!

 

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Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Children of All Ages……MK Clark

 

 

First, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

Obviously, I love to write. What I love most about where I’m at right now is that I get to write all day at work and then come home and write some more.

I currently live and work in the “keep it weird” city of Austin, TX. I work downtown as a technical writer, so I get to see all different kinds of people coming in for the conferences and the cons and SXSW, etc. It can be a lot of fun and it provides a lot of inspiration, even though it makes public transportation crazy.

When I was younger, I wanted to be an astronaut or a fighter pilot. As I got older, I figured out that you had to be good at taking orders or science, and neither of those was really my specialty. So, I had to figure something else out. And although I started writing when I was 14, but up until my junior year of college, it was just a hobby, not something I really wanted to pursue. So, with a year and a half left to go, I switched majors and broke out into the world of writing.

 

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Before I switched majors, I was actually on the road to graduate with a degree in dance. My goal was to dance with the ballet corps in NY.

 

I’ll go out on a limb and assume that if you write books you also enjoy reading them.  What other genres do you enjoy reading, and how have they affected your writing?

I really do enjoy reading. My husband and I have a whole library in our house. I really enjoy reading sci-fi and fantasy, although he is a fan of the dystopian and zombie apocalypse, but we both also really enjoy historical fiction as well.

So, I think a big one for me is that, I love science-fiction, but none of my friends did, because it was too “dry” for them, too technical. So when, I started to really think about writing and writing sci-fi, I had to look at the differences between sci-fi and fantasy and ask myself, why does my best-friend love this book, and not this one? And I’ve tried to use that to make my stories enjoyable to everyone, a way for someone to ease into the genre, without losing the wonder of sci-fi.

 

Who are your biggest writing influences?

Orson Scott Card has been a huge influence for me. I was captivated with his books and tried to get everyone I knew to read them. At the same time, I’ve been fascinated by Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, I love how real she makes things, how chaotic and yet relatable in a “I’ve been there” kind of way. And she’s funny. I admire that. I want that for myself.

 

Who are your favorite authors and books?

Brian Jacques will always be a favorite of mine. His Redwall series was probably my most read growing up until I found Card. But in addition to that, I have quite an eclectic collection of favorite books from the Nine Princes of Amber and the Golden Compass, to Grapes of Wrath and Life of Pi, to Momo and Howls Moving Castle, as well as The Book Thief and All’s Quiet on the Western Front.

 

What is your preferred writing style?

I enjoy writing in third person, past tense. I’m not a huge fan of present tense. I don’t do it well, even though others have. When they do, I am both impressed and flummoxed by it at the same time.

 

How did that lead you deep into the weeds of the writing life?

To be honest, I hated writing as a kid. I distinctly remember being in the fifth grade and getting straight A’s in all my subjects except English. I only really started writing because my sister used to write, and my father would read her stories and encourage her, and I was jealous. So, really, I have jealously and my fiercely competitive nature to thank.

 

When did you get serious about your writing?

That’s a hard question to answer. As I’m not entirely sure myself. I’ve already said how it started, but we moved in the middle of all that, and I was mad, so I threw myself into writing as an escape. Somewhere in those high school years, I realized, I had a real story here, and if I could finish it, I could do something with it. The best I can say is high school, even though I never intended to go into a writing career until half-way through college.

 

What is your current novel?  Tell us a little bit about the premise?

My current novel, is actually my first. It’s call Space Jumpers and it follows the life of Don O’Hara, son of a well-known General in a long-running war with an alien race. But it doesn’t just follow Don’s life, the novel starts out about two decades after Don’s story begins. This snapshot provides readers a glimpse of how Don is known, he’s not the hero, almost everyone hates him and wishes he’d left their lives well enough alone. After that, readers are transported back in time to the beginning of Don’s story and how he started this journey to being the most hated man alive.

At some point in high school we were studying WWII and I happened across the history of Alexander the Great at the same time. I just couldn’t get over the idea of how this guy, who probably was responsible for the death of more people than Hitler was known as “the great.” The idea of hindsight being 20/20 and winner’s writing the history books caught me and I knew I wanted to write a story that embodied this and it just so happened that Don’s story was the perfect one for it.

 

Space Jumpers is obviously a series, where can we expect it to go?

Space Jumpers is just the first part of Don’s story. The series is called The Young Soldier. In the next book Pursuing Dreams, which I’m currently editing and getting ready to publish, reader’s will continue to see snapshots of the future in parallel with “present” events that provide readers with all the answers on how it happened and why. In this way, it really is left up to the reader on whether Don was justified or not in his actions and how he should be judged.

 

Where did you find the inspiration for Space Jumpers?

This book grew out of a different story I was writing, a very different story. It was going to have 5 main character’s and be told from their POV’s. I was developing the characters and giving them backgrounds and I just fell in love with Don’s character. So, I put everything down and started writing his story and the world he came from. And, if I’m remembering right, about three of the characters from that original story made the cut for The Young Soldier series.

 

Your characters from Space Jumpers are sent into a gladiatorial death match. Who wins? 

Wow, that’s a lot of characters, but I’d say, probably the Suit, Nathan. He’s a minor character, but he’s ruthless and has a darkness in him that I think gives him a leg up.

 

What do you listen to while you write? Or do you prefer silence? 

I have three Pandora channels that I’ve tweaked to my liking. They’re based off of Disturbed, The Halo Soundtrack, and the Skyrim soundtrack. Before Pandora was a thing, I listened to music composed by Justin R. Durban, and still do. His music is forever tied to the book for me.

 

What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve looked up in the name of research – or what do you think the government has maybe flagged you for?

So early on, when I knew this was going to be a book about war, I had to brush up on my military knowledge, including weapons, bombs, etc. At the same time, our high school had a bunch of bomb threats in a row, and I thought for sure someone would come knocking at our door.

 

What was your favorite part of writing Space Jumpers?

My favorite part was probably when I re-wrote the first three chapters. I’d always hated how the book started, so when I finally did something about it, and found that I liked the result, I was super happy.

 

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing your main characters from Space Jumpers?

You know, I’ve never really seen any one actor or actress. I actually always thought it would make a good manga or anime series.

 

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? 

These days I generally write at night or on the weekend as I work during the day. And I’m happy with that. I really enjoy working as a technical writer. I feel like I get the best of both worlds right now.

 

Do you aim for a set number of words/pages per day?

Nope, words or pages per day was never really my thing, it’s more about scenes for me. I try to get through one or two scenes based on the time I have.

 

When you develop your characters, do you already have an idea of who they are before you write or do you let them develop as you go?

I think it’s a little bit of both. There are characters that I know are essential to the story, but they are a part of a future book, so I know key things about them, but I’m not focused on them yet, I’ll develop them when I get there. Others I developed a long time ago, but sometimes I still learn new things about them as I’m writing.

 

If Space Jumpers had a theme song what would it be?

I don’t know about a theme song for this book, but I think, the series as a whole would be “This is your life” by Switchfoot. I think it really captures both the immediate question Don struggles with of who he is and what he’s going to do with his life? But it also embodies the idea of looking back on everything that’s happened and wondering if he is now who he started out to be. I’ve always wanted to do a music video to this song, I even did the story boards for it a while ago.

 

Space Jumpers is full of many amazingly talented characters and I imagine it was really fun to create some of them, but which one was your favorite and why?

Probably Tony. I really love Tony. I think he’s relatable. He hates mornings, likes his life and the comforts of home. He’s at basic because he has to be, but when it’s over, he’s just going to go back and return to his old happy life. He’s not caught up in the war like everyone else. He’s figured out that its ok that war isn’t his thing, it doesn’t have to be. I love that about him. He’s just very sure of who he is and what he wants.

Of course, most of this isn’t in the book because it’s about Don, not Tony, but that’s kind of the background behind Tony. And I really think it’s interesting that he’s the guy that is Don’s best friend, because all Don wants is war. It’s an interesting balance.

 

What advice do you have for writers who are just starting out?

Get someone to talk to. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of figuring it out yourself or thinking your idea isn’t good enough yet to share. Having other people’s input has been so valuable to this experience, and I’m not talking about Beta readers, I’m talking about people that act as sounding boards AS you are writing.

Thankfully, I had my sister as a sounding board in high school. She really helped me get through the beginning sludge and figure out what story I was telling. I could come to her with questions or suggestions and use our discussions and answers to help me develop my story. Even if I disagreed with her responses, I had to work through the disagreement to figure out why and then I had what I needed to move forward.

 

 

I hope you enjoy this little conversation, and if you want to find out more about [MK Clark] then follow the rabbit trail to their warren in the internet!  If they don’t like it, beat ‘em with a carrot and keep on truckin’!

 

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GoodReads

Instagram

Twitter

Website

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are screen shots taken by JR Handley and used under the Fair Use Doctrine.

–> Some of these interview questions were inspired by my good friend TeacherofYA, and are used with her permission.  If you have kids who love to read, she’s the girl who’ll make the literary introductions!  You should check her out, after a lifetime of reading, your kids will thank you.

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The Lyrids?

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Pretty cool blog about space and science and other epically awesome goodness!

Scott's Sky Watch

Hey, everyone. Happy Friday!

A while back, I ran into someone I know from around town. We had a nice chat and he asked me why I don’t often write about meteor showers. He was right. I don’t.

I love meteor showers, but don’t have good luck with them. I’ve had the pleasure, luck, and fortune of seeing straggling Geminids, or maybe they were Ursids, streaking across the clear and amazing skies over Death Valley, California years ago. They were bright and bold, with streaks so long and dramatic that I had time to turn to my then-fiance and say “Hey, look at that!” before they vanished into the black. Each one seemed like its own stanza in a much bigger poem. It was, in every imaginable way, an incredible experience.

Unfortunately, outside of those supremely dark skies, they’re really tough. I find that if the sky isn’t just right…

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SciFy Shenanigans: Raven Oak

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Hey Space Cadets, how’s everyone doing today?  I’m doing amazing, busy taking care of my wife as she recovers from her concussion post-accident.  Sorry I didn’t post my blog yesterday, but I was exhausted and just forgot. I’m getting back on the writing horse and if I can swing a measly 15k words this month I’ll call it a win!  One final note before we delve deep into the forest of Raven Oak’s writing interview, I’ll be attending RavenCon at the end of the month.  If you’re there, look for the fat guy that looks like Santa shaved his beard!

 

Now, let’s get right to the point of my latest blog posting!  Yes, I’ve gotten bit by the interview bug!  That being said – here is the next installment of SciFy Friday!  I put my weed whacker to work and found Raven Oak!  Now grab your popcorn and enjoy the ride!

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Children of All Ages,……

 

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First, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

I’m a bestselling science fiction and fantasy author best known for Amaskan’s Blood (2016 EPIC Awards & Ozma Awards Finalist) and Class-M Exile. I’ve got several short stories in anthologies like Untethered: A Magic iPhone Anthology and Magic Unveiled. I spent most of my K-12 education doodling stories and 500 page monstrosities that are forever locked away in a filing cabinet. When I’m not writing, I’m gaming, indulging in cartography, or staring at the ocean. I’m also a former public school teacher and live in the Seattle area with my husband (he works for Bungie) and our three kitties who enjoy lounging across my keyboard when I’m working. Like right now. G93he-wjew.

 

Well hopefully your editing guru can help translate the cat’s writing back into English!  Until then, you’ll just have to persevere! What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I was a music composition & theory major in college before I changed majors to English/education. And just to throw another topic into the mix, my Master’s is in computers. I also had my first graphic design job at fifteen, so I have a varied background in many different fields outside of writing.

 

I’ll go out on a limb and assume that if you write books you also enjoy reading them.  What other genres do you enjoy reading, and how have they affected your writing?

I read most widely in speculative fiction, which influenced me the most growing up. The idea of what-if and why made my brain buzz. I didn’t like that the adults around me couldn’t answer those “big life” questions such as “Why are we here?” and “What if magic used to exist?” Okay, maybe that last one isn’t such a big life question, but still—my childhood self wanted to know! SF/F not only allowed me but it encouraged me to think outside the box and ask every question I could think of.

Outside of spec-fic, I read a lot of mystery and mythology. I read some general or popular fiction, but not a ton. Too cliché and ham-fisted for me. Mystery on the other hand encourages my inquisitive nature, much like speculative fiction does. One of my stories in Joy to the Worlds: Mysterious Speculative Fiction for the Holidays entitled “Ol’ St. Nick” is a closed-room mystery in space involving a mobster Santa. I enjoy taking the structure of whodunits and tossing it into a science fiction or fantasy setting. Lots of fun. Plus, who doesn’t love the idea of Santa as a mobster?

 

Who are your biggest writing influences?

Definitely Connie Willis, Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, Melanie Rawn, and Anne Bishop. They write so succinctly and with such flair. They could write a phone book, and I’d buy it.

 

Who are your favorite authors and books?

My favorites include those names above—specifically American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis, the Kingkiller Chronicle by Rothfuss, the Dragon Prince series by Melanie Rawn, and the Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop.

 

What is your preferred writing style?

Whatever style tells the story best. Yes, authors all have their own styles, but inside of those styles, voices and such shift depending upon the story one is telling. If I’m writing humorous space opera, my style is slightly different than when I’m writing epic or general fantasy.

 

How did figuring out what your preferred writing style was?

Discovering what my style was meant writing and writing and writing some more until I discovered it.

 

When did you get serious about your writing?

At sixteen. No, really. I wrote a 300 page novel in 6th grade, but that was for fun. When I was in high school, I began attending professional writing conferences and was involved in a critique group full of published and not-published adults who also wrote SF/F. I’ve known since I was very young that I wanted to be a writer. The only way to do that was to be serious about it, so I did. But a lot of what I wrote in high school was immature drivel, so I didn’t really begin writing as an adult for publication until about my late twenties.

 

What is your current novel?  Tell us a little bit about the premise?

I’m currently rewriting and revising Amaskan’s War, Book II in the Boahim Series. Book I, Amaskan’s Blood, came out in 2015. The best comparison I’ve ever received was from another author who said it was like “if George R. R. Martin wrote [Disney’s] Tangled,” which is an apt description for this fantasy novel. The main character (Adelei) is an Amaskan, a sort of holy assassin who protects the Little Dozen Kingdoms and its people. She’s a typical cocky 19-year-old who’s sent into the hands of the Amaskans’ worst enemy, her father. Lots of political intrigue, world-building without taking five pages to describe a table leg, and self-discovery.

But being about sci-fi, I’ll give you some tidbits on a space opera of mine called Class-M Exile. The main character, Eerl, is a Tersic (alien race) who studies extinct humans via old Earth videos, specifically westerns. He thinks everyone talks with a bad Texas drawl, so he talks like that too. Then he stumbles into a human and they go off on an adventure that teaches them both that nothing is as it seems. I really wanted to look at prejudice from a different perspective than the typical “humans good, aliens bad” angle. I’ve been told by many that it’s very Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide) meets Firefly.

I’m also doing rewrites on the first in a space opera trilogy due out Winter 2017/2018 entitled The Eldest Silence, which is set in the same universe as Class-M Exile. It, too, deals with prejudice in space.

 

The Eldest Silence is part of a series, so where can we expect it to go?

It’s going to be a trilogy and like most things I write, it’ll be humorous with some darkness to it. The main character, Captain Kris Berstenfin, isn’t going to make it out of the war completely unscathed, but she’ll learn who she is and how to love in ways she never imagined.

 

Where did you find the inspiration for Class-M Exile?

When I was in middle school, I met a girl who was the complete antithesis of Texas (where I lived at the time). She was a feminist and liberal (both sins in the Bible belt) but also an atheist who played with tarot cards. She was the child of a single mother, who arrived at school amidst a car full of dogs and cats. Her first day of school, it was like a stampede of afraid kids as they reacted to this girl sporting tons of hair braids, pentacles, and hippie-style clothes. I like to tell people that this was a town where even the Catholics pretended to be Southern Baptists. You were either a church-goin’ Christian, or you were Satan himself. It didn’t take long for them to jump into bullying and harassing her. Ostracizing her. She became one of my best friends and introduced me to the world of science fiction and fantasy. I am the writer I am because of her, and I wanted to tell her story.

 

Your characters from Class-M Exile are sent into a gladiatorial death match. Who wins? 

Mel. She’s fiesty.

 

What do you listen to while you write? Or do you prefer silence? 

I have mood/setting-based playlists I created in iTunes made up of wordless songs. If it has words, I’ll sing along and not write. I mostly pull from movie or television scores. If I’m writing a sad scene, I’ll plop on my “sad writing” playlist, which is made up songs that evoke a sad emotion in me. Helps me write.

 

What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve looked up in the name of research – or what do you think the government has maybe flagged you for?

What haven’t I been flagged for? I’ve looked up how to poison someone and how that poison would react in zero-g and with no oxygen, how to fire a revolver and a pistol in an oxygen-less environment, medieval-era feminine hygiene products/methods, how to weave on the large looms of the 1800’s, and the difference between a bottlery and a buttlery.

 

What was your favorite part of writing Class-M Exile?

Eerl’s proclivity for bad American puns and how to get them wrong.

 

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing your main characters from Class-M Exile?

I know a lot of authors give this thought, but I haven’t! Eek! Um, Eerl’s a three-legged, multi-eyed, multi-nosed alien who always tells the truth, so I don’t know that it matters too much who plays him. Someone who can fake a bad Texas drawl. I’ve heard Keanu Reeves is hideous at a southern accent so maybe? For Mel, we’d need to go back in time as I’d want a really young Daryl Hannah.

 

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? 

I write full-time, so my entire day is filled with writing activities. I usually write on the current Work-In-Progress in the morning, then revise on another project in the afternoon. After I hit my word counts or page counts, the last thing I work on is promotion/marketing/social media.

 

Do you aim for a set number of words/pages per day?

I have a minimum of 1500 words per day in terms of writing. In terms of critiquing works for others or revising works, I tend to aim for two-hour’s work.

 

When you develop your characters, do you already have an idea of who they are before you write or do you let them develop as you go?

A mix of both. Some characters pop into my head completely formed, but sometimes I start writing and they have other ideas about who they are.

 

How did writing Class-M Exile differ from your writing your previous novels? 

I was at a writing workshop with Sci-Fi Grand Master Connie Willis and Chris Barzak, who wanted us to take a real life event and flip it on its head. I took that moment when my friend stepped out of the car and people fled, and turned it into the opening scene of Class-M Exile. The story grew from there, but it’s essentially my thoughts about how everyone is capable and guilty of prejudice. I would hope that people would look a little deeper at themselves and their own misconceptions and prejudices, to learn that we share more in common with “Them” or “Others” than we think. It was the first time I’d had someone I admire as an author encourage me to finish something I’d just started that day. It certainly lit a fire under me to do just that.

 

If Class-M Exile had a theme song what would it be?

Honestly, I can’t think of one particular song that fits the book, but I did listen to the Robin Hood: Princes of Thieves score a lot while writing it.

 

Amaskan’s Blood is full of many amazingly talented characters and I imagine it was really fun to create some of them, but which one was your favorite and why?

Definitely Adelei. Being an Amaskan, she’s trained in multiple forms of combat, but she also carries a belief set that reminds me of Buddhist monks. Because she’s nineteen, she has the flaws of youth while carrying a great weight on her shoulders. Flawed characters are the most well-rounded characters and the best to write. She’s so badass and yet so vulnerable.

 

What advice do you have for writers who are just starting out?

Find time to write every day. Even if it’s five minutes. Even if it’s via voice recordings on your phone while on the bus. Get in the habit of writing regularly and stick with it.

Also, write for yourself. Tell the stories you want to see in the world, the ones you want to read. If you write on the hopes of striking it rich or playing the market, you won’t be happy. If you’re not happy writing, your readers won’t be happy either.

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I hope you enjoy this little conversation, and if you want to find out more about Raven Oak then follow the rabbit trail to their warren in the Internet!  If they don’t like it, beat ‘em with a carrot and keep on truckin’!

 

Raven Oak’s Social Media Platform:

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YouTube

Goodreads Author Page

Amazon Author Page

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are screen shots taken by JR Handley and used under the Fair Use Doctrine.

–> Some of these interview questions were inspired by my good friend TeacherofYA, and are used with her permission.  If you have kids who love to read, she’s the girl who’ll make the literary introductions!  You should check her out, after a lifetime of reading, your kids will thank you.

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Happy Good Friday

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Hey Space Cadets, I just wanted to take a moment to wish all of you a Happy Good Friday!  Enjoy your time with your family, and we’ll catch you on the other side!

 

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Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are used on the Fair Use Doctrine.

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