Sleeping Legion SWAG

Standard

jr-handley-header

Hey Space Cadets, how’re you doing today?  I am currently on a writing retreat – trying to get the forth book finished.  So far so good!  I just wanted to take a minute to remind all of you good folks about  The Sleeping Legion SWAG!  Boss Man designed some excellent coffee cups for you to enjoy your coffee or grok!  Or both together, we here in the Handley Trenches don’t judge. Okay, maybe a little… I mean we can’t tolerate people putting pineapples on perfectly good pizzas! A man has to have standards.

  Continue reading

A new trend for publishing retail?

Standard

An interesting article by Boss Man on the state of the publishing business. Enjoy, and leave a comment or ten if you enjoyed his article! Join the discussion dang it!!!

JR

Tim C. Taylor

Most days I spend time looking around the world of publishing when I should really be in that world and writing novels. Here’s something I found today that really caught my eye.

Sometimes authors get together and talk about how major publishers are and will respond to the disruption coming from self-publishers, Amazon imprints, and other new publishers. For example, the consistent line spun over the past few years that print books are resurgent and would everyone please forget about eBooks and go to your nearest bookstore. It’s a fascinating topic, and an important one if you earn your living writing novels. But that’s about publishers; we don’t spend as much time debating changes to brick and mortar retailers.

Cue this article about a keynote speech by James Daunt, boss of Waterstones, one of the two remaining national bookstores in the UK (if you include WH Smith). Waterstones has…

View original post 914 more words

Marine Monday: Teon Roca-Bonga

Standard

space-warrior

Hey Space Cadets, how’s everyone doing today?  My Sleeping Legion Series is still selling, which makes me happy.  I again met with my LegionLeak source – I thought I had been followed there for a minute – fortunately it was a false alarm.  So for Marine Monday, today we have Teon Roca-Bonga’s official bio.

Continue reading

WARRIOR WEEKEND: Katie Cross

Standard

Hello Space Cadets! Today, I wanted to introduce you to another author from my WARRIOR WEEKEND INTERVIEW SERIES.  This one will be slightly different, as Katie is an Army wife, rather than a veteran.  Those who stayedKatie Cross at home, managing the hearth fire also served in my book.  I know it isn’t the same, but to me they’re the ones who ran the daily affairs that let the warriors do what warriors do.  I couldn’t have been as effective while serving at the tip of the spear if I didn’t know that things were solid at home.  My wife gave me that peace of mind, so I know it has intrinsic value.  Further, I’ve seen what happened to soldiers with crappy spouses.  To keep this blog as clean as this old grunt is capable of, let’s just say it didn’t end well.

So without getting lost in the weeds, let’s talk about today’s subject. Katie’s an amazing author, wife, mother to a crazy feral child that is almost two years old. She likes to climb mountains, hike with her dogs, and eat a lot of cookies. In that order.

When Katie’s the next big thing, we can all say we knew her when!  And hey, maybe she’ll slip us a free latte!  OR she could pimp our books so we can be as cool as her too!   “Do you fancy my book? Awesome, then try JR’s book in a totally different genre!”

Bam!  See how it’s done?  Take notes Katie, seriously!

If I’ve perked your interest, keep reading as I interview this lovely Army wife.

 

Without further ado, let’s get this interview cranking!

Tell me a little about your time as a military spouse?

It’s filled with LOTS of chocolate, yoga breathing, and writing—and that’s not even including deployment. 😉 JK. Being a military wife is intense, but a lot of fun!

 How do you feel that your affiliation with the military has influenced your writing?

In huge ways! I’m far more likely to plan global war because I can ask my husband to help me at any given point, and there’s nothing like a deployment to get me ready to write sappy love stories.

Do you think your military lifestyle, and more specifically your meeting all kinds of people, adds to the realism in your books?  If so, how?

I think so, just because military life forces people outside their comfort zone, which is something you have to do if you write good books. I mean, what Main Characters goes through a good story totally comfortable and living the dream?

 Do you feel like there is any bleed over from your husband’s work, into your books?

A little bit, for sure. Not that I ever planned it that way, but once I looked back, I could definitely see it!

 When did you start pursuing your writing more seriously?

Right after marrying the Army. 😉 We moved so often the first 2 years that I couldn’t always work as an RN, so I found something else a lot more flexible.

 Of all your work, which was your favorite to write?

Definitely my YA fantasy series, “The Network Series.” There’s something intoxicating about magic and being able to make anything happen.

 How many of your characters were inspired by your exposure to all things military?

At least 4 of them. My MC is a teenage girl with a father that is gone a lot and a mother who has to often raise her on her own.

How many of the scenes you wrote were inspired from your experience as a military spouse?

At least 8-10? Most of them are the moist poignant scenes I’ve ever written as well.

 Do you feel like your writing has served any therapeutic value for you?  Has it helped you process your experiences?

Absolutely. Writing is a huge escape for me when deployments are getting intense. In the beginning when I was getting used to it, it gave me something I could control and feel good about.

If you could serve with any of your characters, who would it be and why?

It would be Derek, my MC’s father. He’s a Protector, which is a highly-skilled witch that is basically a spy doing all kinds of undercover work. He’s brilliant with magic and a fantastic leader. I modeled him after my husband!

If you could pick one of your characters to be your husbands battle buddy, who would it be and why?

Definitely Derek!

 If you would want to avoid serving with any of your characters, who would it be and why?

Camille. She’s a very giggly, happy, but naïve teenager. I’d want her to stay that way, and wouldn’t want to expose her to those things.

What are you currently working on?

A book about dragons! It’s titled the Dragonmasters and is part of a duology that will hopefully release next year! I’ve also recently started working 1:1 with indie authors that need someone to help point them in the right direction with their business and their platform, so all the strategy sessions have been keeping me super busy!

 How can people find you?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If this convinced you to find out more, look up Katie and become a fanboy like I did!  Hey, I’ve yet to read her books, but if it’s as awesome as she is it’s gonna be AWESOME!  Just wait until the next novel takes the literary world by storm, we can say we knew her first!  I hope you all had a great time getting to know about Katie, don’t be afraid to say hello here or on her plethora of social media platforms.  If she doesn’t respond quick enough, glitter bomb her!  Mwahahaha!!  Wait, the little birdie tells me she might’ve already used this evilness in one of her books.  Send her fake books, just to tease him/her?  Would that be cruel enough to motivate contact?

 

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 grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

 

Newsletter Banner

Book Review: Beyond the Shroud of the Universe(Codex Regius Book 2)

Standard

 

Codex Trilogy Worlds

Hey Space Cadets, here is the next installment in my series of book reviews. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m a member of the TRMN. It’s a fan club for the Honor Harrington Universe by David Weber, and they do contests for their members all the time. There is a reading contest going on recently, and we get bonus points for reading authors who are on the TRMN Author List. And, if those authors will be at the 2017 Honor Con, we get even more points! So, you’ll see my next several reviews on books by Chris Kennedy, Marko Kloos and David Weber before I get back to Richard Fox’s Ember Wars stories.  I’m also working on book four of The Sleeping Legion Series.  Finally, if you haven’t read it, Operation Breakout is live!

But enough about me, onto this specific review. Now let’s get to it!

Title:  Beyond the Stroud of the Universe (Codex Regius Book 2)

 Author:  Chris Kennedy

 Narrator:  Craig Good

 Price:  $3.99 USD (Kindle Edition) & $1.99 USD (Audible Add On)

Obtained:  I bought the story and audiobook combination from Amazon.

Pages:  412

202887860

 

Rating: 4/5 Grenades4-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.  Heck, I cribbed this summary from the back and then I add my own twist!  I wanted to provide a spoiler free review, so here goes nothing!  This novel carries on after The Theogony Trilogy, and is the second novel in follow-on The Codex Regius Trilogy.  Lieutenant Commander Shawn “Calvin” Hobbs has saved Seattle, traveled to the stars, saved a few heirs to various interplanetary royal houses and forged new alliances with alien races.  Was a little “down time” to work on the project too much to hope for?  Obviously, because what kind of boring work would that be?

A mysterious race from an alternate universe has allied itself with the Jotunn, and the alliance is set on destroying the Aesir and bringing about Ragnarok. With an ability to jump between universes and unstoppable time-based weapons, the Efreet seem invincible. The Vella Gulf is the only ship to survive its first meeting with the Efreet…but only through a fluke of luck.

Worse, Lieutenant Commander Shawn ‘Calvin’ Hobbs has just found out the Efreeti home world is the same planet in their universe as Terra is in ours. If true, the Efreet could cross into our universe at any moment and annihilate the Earth without any warning. Terra lies defenseless!
Calvin and the crew of the Vella Gulf have a surprise for the Efreet, though; they have returned to Terra with the ability to cross between the universes like their enemy. Armed with personal transporters and jump modules for their ships, they’re now able to take the fight to the Efreet. But will they be in time to prevent Terra’s annihilation?
As the Efreet continue their inexorable onslaught on all fronts, Calvin only knows one thing. The answers to all their questions lie beyond the shroud of the universe.

Codex Trilogy  Characters: 

In this novel, we get more in depth with Shawn Hobbs, with of the rest of the original characters in the series given secondary status.  As many of the original secondary characters die gruesome and bloody deaths, we meet new and interesting people for Chris Kennedy to kill.  This novel didn’t lose any of the characters that were awesome in the previous books in this universe, except by natural attrition, nor did Chris Kennedy sacrifice what made Occupied Seattle Duology, The Theogony Trilogy, and now The Codex Regius are awesome.  Calvin Hobbs was a flushed out, three-dimensional character that I thought was a lot of fun.  He’s so flushed out at this point, maybe we should advance him to four-dimensional!  I still felt like I could relate to him as a person, and was someone I would want to hang out with.  At this point, I was a little worried at his mental health as he doesn’t seem to react to the extreme losses that routinely occur around him, but I think this was done intentionally to keep the universe feeling fun.  Seriously, this is my seventh book with Calvin and I still want to read more of his adventures!  It’s sad to think that there’s only one book left before I have to wait for the author to write the next series.  While we see most of the story through Hobb’s eyes, there was still plenty of red shirts and glorious death!  The author, Chris Kennedy, calls them secondary characters but he kills so many of them off that they might as well be red shirts.  Here’s a summary of the main character.

Shawn “Calvin” Hobbs:  He is a fighter pilot for the US Navy who becomes an instant war herp/celebrity once he got shot down during the opening salvo of the Sino America War.  He built on that as he led several successful ground assaults, aerial missions and various other death defying combat roles in the mission of the Republic of Terra.  By now, the battles he was involved with during the Sino American War seem like child’s play.  He’s fought the blood thirsty Drakul’s who want to eat him and managed not to get killed by flying snakes who wanted to sacrifice him to their gods.  He’s fought giant Jotun, lizard looking Efreet, and so many other aliens that you’ll lose count of all the blood and gore he’s had to wipe off his boots!  In the strange world he finds himself, he must constantly adapt as old allies become enemies and enemies become allies.  He’s basically become the space opera version of Machiavelli, but with more charm!

Overall, I will give these characters 5 out of 5 Grenades and can’t wait to see where the author takes this character throughout this new series!

 

Plot: 

Like most of the military fiction I love to read, this was an action-packed novel.  The story is set in the universe after Earth got involved in the war between the Jotun and the Aesir.  The Republic of Terra barely survived the battle, loosing too many ships and is again on the verge of losing it all.  Humanity is again confronted with the fact that most of Earth’s mythologies and fairy tales were actually tales of aliens who visited humanity in its infancy.  As the Terran Navy is returning from helping their allies, they find that their new enemy is just behind the veil of Earth and plans must be made.  Again, the premise for the series was interesting and the set-up was well executed.  We watch the crew of the TSS Vella Gulf stumble into a mission they were unprepared for and the cost in lives is impressive.  I’d honestly asked myself a few times how the ship even managed to stay in one piece, but they’re a hearty lot!  I would love to give some examples, but you should just buy the series and find out for yourself!  I really loved the premise of this plot, and more importantly I enjoyed how he executed it.  The pacing was excellent and there was never a slow moment.  I couldn’t ask for anything more; excellent premise, perfect execution and wonderful pacing!  I again give Chris 5 out of 5 Grenades!

 

World Building:

This is the second book in The Codex Regius Trilogy, and I’m still hooked on this universe!  I’m thrilled to be back into this universe that I love so much.  Like in the previous trilogy, this novel had a very flushed out world.  It was consistent, made sense and sucked you in.  I loved the way he handled inserting new aliens into the world, and letting them become part of the larger world.  I liked that these new species, planets and technology made sense and it didn’t feel like they were added just to have shiny things.  Overall, the world building was well done and I was sold on the way it happened.  It felt believable and the characters fit within the universe Chris created.  It was a fun ride, that made me wanna suit up… which is the goal of action/adventure authors!  It didn’t take itself too seriously, which allowed you to focus on the fun which is why I read in the first place.  I wouldn’t mind the warrior package that the space marines get with their implants either, hear they take off a few pounds!  I give the world building 6 out of 5 Grenades.

 

Description: 

Like the previous book, this novel was chalk full of visualization, and you could definitely imagine yourself in this world.  The only scenes that were confusing and difficult to envision were the color schemes in the alternate/parallel universe.  I believe this was my color blindness getting in the way, so I’m giving that part a pass.  Also, like the previous novels, he balanced the explanation of the various military minutia with the need to move a story along.  This book didn’t have a single place where I couldn’t picture the scenery and the equipment, which added to world that felt tangible and I enjoyed it.  The author’s description of his universe was so evocative that I began imagining alternative tactics that the author didn’t use.  It was a little bit distracting, but it’s a sign of an amazingly built universe.  I didn’t find any issues with the descriptions, except for the previously mentioned color issue.  The world he created evoked visceral emotions, heck I wanted to get my implants and join up again after this novel!  As an author, Chris Kennedy was still lite on the details of what the various characters looked like but by now I just didn’t care.  I wanted the action, the adventure and the PEW PEW!  Overall, I give Chris 4 out of 5 grenades in this category because he missed some chances to get creative with the tactics.  I won’t list the things I thought of, so he has room to play in the trilogy that follows this one. 

 

Narration Quality:

Like the previous novels, this audiobook was excellently executed.  The narrator, Craig Good, did an amazing job narrating this book.  He didn’t bore you, or make you zone out because of his monotone.  His performance didn’t feel robotic, like a machine was reading the novel too me.  Instead, it felt like a friend was sitting with me reading an amazing story that he couldn’t put down.  This time the way Craig did the voices of the various characters had grown on me and kept me engaged throughout the periods I was listening to this book.  He must be growing on me?  However, not to nitpick, but there were a few places were the voices didn’t match the characters. They didn’t match how they were previously, but it only happened twice. And in case you notice that my review of his performance has been similar for his last six books, it’s because he provides a steady and consistent performance.  Overall, I give him a 4 out of 5 grenades for his performance.  Sorry, but that messed up voices drew me out of the story momentarily.

  

Overall:

I really loved this book, it made my drive home from my brother-in-law’s wedding very enjoyable – I was able to escape the multitude of bad drivers that littered the highways and die-ways.  With this book, I listened to half of it on the road, which is a testament to the quality of the audiobook.  Like with book one, I wanted to take a road trip just to have an excuse to listen to the next book!  My wife shot that one down, so I’ll stick with mostly reading book three in this series.  Like the previous trilogy, the covers in this one were amazingly invocative.  I like how Chris Kennedy made the trilogies covers work together.  I’ll post an image after the review so you can check it out!  The military culture shown in this book was spot on, even the ground combat.  I feel like the author missed some chances to get creative with the tactics which had me screaming and is the only reason the book wasn’t a five-star review.  Such accurate portrayal of the tactics is rare, especially when coming from a sailor.  Seriously, the author weaponized the awesome power of the PEW PEW for this gripping halfway point for The Codex Regius Trilogy!  He wove the action in such a compelling way that you could almost forget that has become the standard for this awesome author!  Basically, Chris had me hooked from the beginning, and kept it going throughout the whole novel.  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 go looking for your own aliens.  And on the search, you drive to Area 51 and try to push past the gate guards.  Which would mean you’d get shot, since those guards have big scary guns.  The guards, amped up on Red Bull unload a full clip into you, turning you into Swiss Cheese and leaving you to bleed out on the burning hot asphalt.  Well yeah, I guess this could be bad for you.  But hey, at least you got to see eternity pass you by as you fade into nothing.  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!

Chris Kennedy Book Reviews

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

JR

> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are videos used by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

Newsletter Banner

Marketing: Blogs

Standard

J R HandleyHey Space Cadets, another installment of my marketing series.  I know this is the administrative background work we have to do – it is still important, so bear with me.  Take your fingers out of your ears and settle down, it’s not that boring.  Today’s subject is Blogs.  Again, I’m no expert so this is just what I’m doing that seems to be working for the moment.  As things change, I’ll adapt which is a major key to success in many of life’s adventures.

 

JR Handley Blog HeaderMy Blog is one of the main aspects of my marketing strategy.  I won’t bother linking to it, since you are reading it which means you are already there.  I know I hyperlink more than conventional wisdom says is necessary, but when it seems appropriate I link away!  I’m probably a little neurotic on the topic, but hey, they say acceptance is the first step to recovery!  This blog serves as my author platform, right next to my public Facebook account.  In a broadly general sense, this blog is a marketing enterprise.  I won’t continually shout, “buy my book, buy my book,” like some authors are wont to do, but I don’t hide that I’m an author either.  I have a link to my books at the bottom of all my pages.  I try to keep my other links on topic and of interest to my readers.  I try to have useful content on my blogs using hyperlinks as appropriate.  There is a fine line here between hyperlink and hyper-annoying that I try not to cross.  I am not trying to spam my readers; I am trying to sell my books.

Due to my limitations, my process is unique, but every blog I post goes through my team. They look for more than just grammar, also considering the broader concept of ‘branding.’  Basically, branding is who you are to the world. It needs to be consistent, and authentic.  I want to my blog to brand me as a science fiction writer people want to read.  Therefore, I keep this in mind when I plan the posts for my blog.

Hubble Space Picture The theme of your blog is very important.  Both the general theme or look of your blog and the theme of the contact of the blog.  First, let’s look at the general theme of the blog.  When I started my blog, its sole purpose was to simply exist.  I had more generic posts, some of it appealing to the deep well that is the WordPress author community.  I’ll admit I also participated in the ‘I follow you, you follow me’ gimmick because I didn’t know any better.  Ultimately, if you want your blog to serve a purpose, following others so they will follow you serves no purpose.  What will help is themed blog. The theme will be broadly based on the genre in which you write. There are many ways to do this, both visual and content driven. My blog starts with the intro of “Hey, Space Cadets,” which harkens back to the earlier Heinlein book with the same name.  It screams to the world, “I’m a science fiction blog.” I do this intentionally, but didn’t violate my rule of authenticity because I do love science fiction. If I didn’t love it, I couldn’t write it. Following with the theme for my blog, I end everyone with “Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry.”  Again, this was to intentionally call back to America’s earliest military history and Rogers Rangers.  The US Army Rangers claim this as their origin story, but it’s also something I heard throughout my time in the infantry and the military writ large.  It reminds the reader that one of my sub genres is military science fiction. It also reminds them that I have some credibility with that genre because of my affiliation with the US Army.  I was a Sergeant in the US Army.  When you pick your theme, it should reflect who you are and what you write. Part of that old adage, know your audience.

The Legion AwakesThe second type of theme is the theme/subject you’re discussing in a specific blog.  The general theme branded me as a military science fiction author.  While I’m sure you’re sick of hearing about it, bear with me awhile longer.  My general theme includes several factors; the visual look, as well as the header and footer.  The content of my blog – information I choose to share – has a theme of its own.  I’ve intentionally avoided politics because it’s an unnecessarily divisive issue – personally I don’t want to unintentionally alienate customers due to my political views.  My purpose here is to sell books and I try to remember this. Let’s face it, you need to be a mercenary when you think about your marketing strategy.  For me, I do this by putting on my reader’s hat, considering what I look for from an author, what information I like versus what turns me off.  I try to keep the subject of my posts related to my writing.  Sometimes those decisions are unconscious, I’ve admittedly been known to follow my massive gut, but strategic nonetheless. I have several series I have started such as, World Building Wednesday; Scyfi Shenanigans; and Warrior Weekend; among others.  I try to keep my topics entertaining – but the purpose of my posts is to generate interest in my world.  This is tricky, since I have the “curse of knowledge.”  I need draw my readers in without spoiling the adventure in my books.  As I finish The Sleeping Legion and start writing new books, my blogs will evolve.  My methodology has been to give the first hit for free to reel the readers in. Sorry, I have watched to many Cop shows – I blame my parents.  Anyway, I hope you get the general idea here and can translate it into what might work for you and your book babies.

 

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 videos used by JR Handley for use under fair doctrine.

Newsletter Banner

 

Marine Monday: Marchewka

Standard

space-warrior

Hey Space Cadets, how’s everyone doing today?  I am taking a minute to escape my writing cave to send you this update – a little break from my next book in the Sleeping Legion Series shouldn’t hurt right?

So on to our regularly scheduled Marine Monday! Today I was leaked, by our friendly neighborhood LegionLeak source, the official bio of Marchewka.  Remember, destroy this message after reading it so the anonymous source can live long enough to continually feed us excellent intelligence!  Without further ado, here is the leaked document!

Marchewka1

Marchewka2

Hopefully you enjoyed this sneak peek into a certain special Marine’s official record.  If you did, stay tuned for next weeks as we anxiously wait for the latest documents smuggled our way!

 

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 grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

Newsletter Banner