Reading Books For Fun

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Outer Space HeaderHey Space Cadets, how are you doing? I’m doing amazing and wanted to post another blog updating you on my comings and goings. I’m cranking away on my writing and hope to be able to share more with you soon. The co-author and I are playing with methods of kicking our speed up a notch and I’m getting back into the swing of exercising again. Continue reading

SciFy Shenanigans: Josh Hayes

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Hey Space Cadets, how’s everyone doing today?  I’m doing pretty good, I would say great except for the wife’s health issues.  I recently finished my super-duper secret project, and I’m getting ready for Christmas.  Insurgency: Spartika launched yesterday! So did The Expanding Universe 3 Anthology, so if you need something to read give it a chance and leave a review when you’re done!

But enough about me, let’s interview some people! I love to conduct the Warrior Weekend and ‘SciFy Shenanigans’ interview series. I’ll send out the interview form to any author that fits those niche categories.  If you know anyone you want me to interview, contact me through my blog and I’ll give it a shot!  I love giving everyone a chance to get personal with the names behind the books they love!  So let’s get right to the point of my latest blog posting!

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I wanted to help you get to know these wordsmiths, so I created a template for the authors to talk about their latest book and their creative process.  They’ll be able to pitch the other stuff too, of course, but many authors have deep backlists.  It’s hard to get into the weeds with these prolific literary giants, but like all good sergeants I took decisive action. I took a weed whacker to the mess, and here are the final results!  The questions are in no particular order, so grab your seat while your minion makes your popcorn and enjoy the ride!

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

 

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

Hi! Well, I’m a science fiction and (hopefully someday) a fantasy author. I’ve been writing in some form or another since I was about 14 years old when I wrote my first military sci-fi epic in a single-rule, one-subject notebook. In 2012 I started really getting into the indie space, and it’s been an awesome ride ever since.

I’ve been married to my wonderful wife, Jamie for 4 years and we have 2 beautiful babies. I also have two fantastic children from a previous marriage and when all four of them are here the house becomes extremely busy! Though I will say, that when all four are here, it’s a little easier to get stuff done because the older ones can watch the younger ones.

I published my first book “Breaking Through” in 2015, which was supposed to be the first of five novellas in a series of 5, however that project didn’t work out the way I’d originally envisioned it, and now I just published book 3 “Shadows of Neverland” and hopefully I’ll publish the fourth and final book in the series next year sometime.

 

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

I am fascinated by flying. Helicopters and drones mostly. I’ve been trying to convince my better half to that drone racing is a worthwhile endeavor, however, my arguments—despite piles of scientific data that support the idea—have gone unheeded.

 

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

I read most genres. The only genre I don’t really read is anything romance related. Just not my thing. Over my lifetime, I’ve read about an even split of sci-fi and fantasy, though here recently, most of my time has been spent in fantasy. I love A Song of Ice and Fire and The Stormlight Archives.

 

Who are your biggest writing influences?

Brandon Sanderson, for sure. I’ve read all of David Weber’s Honor Harrington books. GRRM. The Dark Tower series (and characters) by Stephen King.

 

Who are your favorite authors and books?

The Stormlight Archives is probably my favorite series by far, followed closely by the Mistborn Trilogy. Song of Ice and Fire usually takes third. Of course, The Ember War Saga series by Richard Fox makes the list, one of my favorite modern mil sci-fi series and also the new Galaxy’s Edge series by Nick Cole and Jason Anspach.

 that turned into writing for me. I’m fairly certain I started both at the same time. I lived in Germany as a kid, so we didn’t get a lot of the TV that people got here in the states, but my Mom always recorded Star Trek: The Next Generation and we watched it as a family, and I loved it. That series is was pushed me to read more sci-fi and also write my own stories and create my own universes.

 

What is your preferred writing style?  Do you have a favorite point of view; first person, third person, etc.?  Feel free to answer as both a reader and as an author!

I tend to write in third person limited. This is also my preferred narrative form as a reader. (Unless the main POV is a character like Mark Watney from the Martian, then it’s okay.

 

When did you get serious about your writing as a career, instead of writing as a hobby?

Like I said, I got big into the indie publishing scene around 2012 when I met a co-worker who also turned out to be a sci-fi writer, Scott Moon. I’ve become increasingly more disciplined over the last several years, and now that my writing is, for lack of a better phrase, starting to take off, I take it more seriously than ever.

 

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

I typically try to write in the early morning, before anyone is awake. I try to make it to the computer by 5am at the latest. I’d prefer to make it by 4am, but if I’m being honest, there are times I hit the snooze a lot.

 

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

I usually aim for 1500 a day during the weekdays and 4k on Saturday. If I write on Sunday, then those are generally bonus words. When I’m in crunch mode, I’ll aim for 2k or 2500 words a day.

 

What do you listen to while you write? Or do you prefer the sound of silence? 

It depends on whether I’m dictating or not. Most of the time I type, and then I’ll listen to music without lyrics, movie scores or Brian.fm. If I’m dictating, then I usually don’t have any music playing.

 

Okay, time for another random question.  What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve looked up in the name of research – or what do you think landed you on the government watch list for?

Hmmmm, embarrassing? I’m not sure. But I have researched a lot about Hitler and WWII, the driving issues behind the war and Hitler himself for a series I’m working on for later in 2018.

 

What is your current novel?  Can you tell us a little bit about the premise?

My latest release is called “Terra Nova,” a spin-off novel I’ve co-written with Richard Fox, based on his Ember War series.

Terra Nova is a planet in a completely different galaxy than the Milky Way that an alien race in his Ember War series gave to humanity as a way to escape the coming Xaros (big bad alien drones bent on universal domination) invasion. Jared Hale led a colony mission to Terra Nova to start a new home for mankind. The catch is that with the distances and math (handwavium), humans can only get to Terra Nova through what’s called a Crucible, basically a hypergate, and even then only every few decades.

This novel stars about 20 years after the end of the Ember War and finds war-hero Ken Hale leading a second mission to the planet to reunite with his brother. However, when they arrive, they find the colony abandoned and all the colonists missing. The novel and following series are what happens the Hale and our new main character, Warrant Officer Katherine Carson a bad-ass, special forces type. She’ll lead her Pathfinder team on a series of missions to uncover the truth of what happened.

 

Terra Nova is apparently a series, where can we expect it to go?

Terra Nova is the first book in a planned 5 book series, it’s available now, and the second book should be available around February.

 

Where did you find the inspiration for Terra Nova?

Richard came to me and asked if I’d collaborate with him and write something in his Emberverse. Obviously, I took a few milliseconds to ponder over this proposal, then finally said, “Oh, oh, oh, yes, yes, yes, pick me!”

We talked about what we wanted to do with a spin-off and the different places we could go and decided that Terra Nova was the obvious choice. We went back and forth for several weeks on characters, plot points, and story-arcs, and came up with a novel that I think readers are really going to enjoy.

 

The characters from Terra Nova are sent into a gladiatorial death match. Who wins? 

Definitely Carson. As a Pathfinder, they’re like modern-day Delta or Rangers, and she’s not afraid to cut a throat or two.

 

What was your favorite part of writing Terra Nova?

Writing with someone else is a completely different type of writing from simply putting down words by yourself. We worked off a pretty detailed outline, and move days I could just sit down and spit out a couple thousand words at a shot. This is the first project I’ve worked on where the book was completely plotted and outlined out before I started writing. I’ll definitely continue that process for all of my other projects.

 

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing your main characters from Terra Nova?

For Carson? Kate Beckinsale, for sure!

 

When you develop your characters, do you already have an idea of who they are, or do you let them develop as you go?  The age-old plotter versus pantser, character edition.

With the story, I’m very much a plotter. For the character, I have a base when I start, then they grow as I write the story.

 

How did writing Terra Nova differ from your previous novels? 

Collaboration is very different from solo-writing, so there was a little bit of a learning curve, for both of us, but this project has really challenged me as a writer, and I’ve grown because of it.

 

If Terra Nova had a theme song, what would it be?

Richat by Mark Petrie – Youtube it, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Terra Nova 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?

Carson and Nunez are my favorites, Carson because she’s a hard-charger and is the underdog on this mission in more ways than one (I’ve got a thing for underdogs), and Nunez because he’s got a similar sense of humor to mine, generally says what’s on his mind and makes a lot of off-color comments at all the wrong moments.

 

And to bring us home, what advice do you have for writers who are just starting out?

Build your tribe. Network with other authors, and not just in a “will you read my book” kind of way. Make real relationships with people. Make an effort to help wherever you can, even if you don’t get anything in return. And WRITE. Practice all the time, better your craft, study your craft and keep at it.

 

Finally, where can readers and future stalkers find you?

 

I hope you enjoy this little conversation, and if you want to find out more about Josh Hayes then follow the rabbit trail to their den of insanity!  If they don’t like it, beat ‘em with a carrot and keep on truckin’!

 

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.

SFF Book Bonanza Promotions

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Hey Space Cadets, how are you doing this fine day?  I’m doing well, I’m at Chapter 85 of my edits!  Book 4 in the Sleeping Legion my be finished yet.  I have to get back to my edits, but I just wanted to let you know I have joined in with other authors for three SFF Book Bonanza promotions this month.


I am a part of the Mega Book Gift Basket Giveaway – I am really pleased to be a part of this giveaway!  Click the link or the image above and enter to win a Mega Book Gift Basket, including a Kindle, $100 Gift Card, and lots of goodies!
I am also participating in the Kindle Unlimited promotion.  Click here and check it out.  Kindle Unlimited free for 30 days – just think you can even read my book!


Last but not least, I am participating in the $.99 Books Sci-Fi and Fantasy promotion.  Remember – this promotion starts on 16 October!

I am really thrilled to be a part of these promotions.  Please check them out – I think you will really enjoy them.

 

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.

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Book Review: The Search for Gram (Codex Regius Book 1)

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Chris Kennedy Book Reviews

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:  The Search for Gram (Codex Regius Book 1)

 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:  402

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Rating: 5/5 Grenades

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 first novel in follow-on The Codex Regius Trilogy.  Lieutenant Commander Shawn “Calvin” Hobbs has saved Seattle, traveled to the stars and forged new alliances with alien races.  With the latest war concluded, he turned his attention to deciphering the strange rod an ancient alien civilization gave him as a test.  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?

Whelp, no rest for the wicked and something, or someone, is destroying starships from the alien Aesir race.  The elven Aesir are in need of help, and all of the signs point to Calvin as the hero they need.  He’s tired, sick of being the “hero” everyone seeks but just to stubborn to walk away and retire.  Calvin has already defeated the merciless Drakuls and saved Earth from alien invasion, but is he prepared to face this unknown challenge?

As the Theogony trilogy comes to a close, a new chapter for Calvin is set to begin. “The Search for Gram” initiates the “Codex Regius,” a trilogy that will once again take Lieutenant Commander Hobbs and his Special Forces platoon to the stars. Not even the universe can hold him this time!

  

Characters: 

In this novel, we get more in depth with Shawn Hobbs, with the other 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 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.  Seriously, this is my sixth book with Calvin and I still want to read more of his adventures!  I’m sad to think that they’re only two books left.  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.  In the strange world he finds himself, he must adapt when old allies become enemies and enemies become allies.

Overall, I will give these characters 6 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 post Drakul invasion world where the Republic of Terra barely survived becoming food for predatory aliens.  Humanity is again confronted with the fact that most of Earth’s mythologies are actually tales of aliens who visited humanity in its infancy and those who witnessed it and left told the stories of these “gods” to their people.  As the Terran Navy is returning to the Mworry home world part they’re again confronted by another alien who want the great “hero” Shawn “Calvin” Hobbs to assist them on a dangerous mission.  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 would love to give some examples, but you should just buy the series and find out for yourself!

With my military background, I thought the way the military was portrayed was credible.  Well, as much as we could say about futuristic tech!  This book kept gave an even balance of the ground combat that I love reading about and added in equal parts spaceship porn.  Loads of explosions, action and all kinds of gooey dead aliens.  A few red shirts from the ranks of humanity get the ‘privilege’ to suffer glorious deaths for Terra.  It was all excellently handled, with tactics that fit the world Chris created.  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 first 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!  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.  Well, 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 6 out of 5 grenades in this category because he definitely stepped up the PEW PEW!

 

 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?  And in case you notice that my review of his performance has been the same for his last five books, it’s because he provides a steady and consistent performance.  Overall, I give him a 5 out of 5 grenades for his performance.

 

 Overall:

I really loved this book, it made my drive home from my brother-in-law’s wedding very enjoyable and I was able to escape the multitude of bad drivers that littered the highways and die-ways.  With this book, I listened to all but a few chapters, which is a testament to the quality of the audiobook.  Heck, now I want to take a road trip just to have an excuse to listen to the next book!  Like the previous trilogy, the covers in this one were amazingly invocative.  The military culture shown in this book was spot on, even the ground combat.  Such accurate portrayal of the tactics is rare, especially when coming from a sailor like Chris Kennedy.  Seriously, the author weaponized the awesome power of the PEW PEW for this gripping start to 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!

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.

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SCI FI EXPLORATIONS

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SciFi ExplorationsHey Space Cadets, how are you doing this fine day?  Today I wanted to bring you some interesting news. I was recently added to the Author Partners list on SciFi Explorations.  This website is all about bringing to you, the reader, the highest quality science fiction from the best authors on the scene.  They send out a bi-monthly mailing list with recommendations for good books.  Neigh, GREAT books!  These books are vetted by the Big Kahuna over there, author Nathan Hystad.  Seriously, he doesn’t post anything he hasn’t read himself and his recommendations take into consideration the price so you get a deal!

The fine folks at the SciFi Explorations don’t accept payment for these blurbs either, these are chosen based on Nathan’s efforts to recommend good books.  He goes a step further, negotiating sale prices of the books for those who get the mailing list!  Great books at an awesome price!  In return, they simply ask the authors to help spread the word about this group.  Seriously, everybody wins!  So, if you want the hottest new releases and the best discounts for your Science Fiction, subscribe to their high-quality newsletter.  It’s bi-weekly, so you won’t be spammed!  I follow them myself and they contribute to my burgeoning TBR List that drives my wife bonkers!

SciFi Explorations 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 videos used by JR Handley for use under fair doctrine.

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SFF Book Bonanza

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Hey Space Cadets, how are you doing this fine day?  I’m doing well, I’m at 55% complete on the 4th book in the Sleeping Legion.  I don’t want to be away from writing long – I’m kinda on a roll.  Just wanted to let you know I have joined in with other authors for the SFF Book Bonanza‘s Science Fiction Fantasy Giveaway scheduled for June 12 – 18, 2017!  I am really excited to be working with this group and hope you will take a look at the free books being offered.

Well I hope you all enjoy this give away – it is back to planning the last battles to finish my book for 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 videos used by JR Handley for use under fair doctrine.

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Hometown Reads Virginia Beach

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jr-handley-headerHey Space Cadets, how are you doing this fine day?  I’m doing well, I’m at 43% complete on the 4th book in the Sleeping Legion.  I don’t want to be away from writing long – I’m kinda on a roll.  Just wanted to let you know about two great things that happened to me.

Hometown Reads Virginia BeachHometown Reads has their Virginia Beach page done! And I am one of the Virginia Beach author’s.  I have two of my books in our local library – The Demons of Kor-Lir and The Legion Awakes.  This weekend I will be taking in Fortress Beta City and Operation Breakout.  I am Virginia Beach Booksreally excited about this!  They even have my book on the home page for Virginia Beach!  Yes, I absolutely DID have to show you the picture!  Have to brag a little.

Well I hope you all have a great day – it’s back to writing for 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 videos used by JR Handley for use under fair doctrine.

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