Phoenix Comic Con 2017

I had a great time this year. I met some great authors and got to talk to many I have met before. I also met some great regular people, well not sure how well regular fits but…. Let’s just say some other people in costume. I am just going to post a bunch of photos in this post I will be doing a separate post about some of the signed books I will be giving away.

Interview with Rob J. Hayes

I wanted to do this interview with Rob after reading his book Where Loyalties Lie (Best Laid Plans #1). I loved it and it easily earned 5 stars from me. It will be available for sale on Friday the 26th but I will be out of town, so am posting this a bit earlier than I wanted. But I will be at the Phoenix Comic-Con from Wednesday to Monday. Meeting some of my Favorite authors, Like Robin Hobb, Brent Weeks, Bradley P. Beaulieu, Jim Butcher, Scott Lynch for the first time. And many more that I have met before.  Hopefully I will have lots of cool photos and stuff to share with you all when I get back.

1.       If you could do it all over again, would you change anything in your FIRST book?

Yes. A few readers have accused me of trying too hard with The Heresy Within, and I can see it. Like a new friend trying too hard to fit in. I had yet to properly settle into my own voice and figure out my own boundaries. So yes, I would certainly change some things… but I have no idea what. Can I go with ‘I would have made it better’?

2.       Have you ever judged a book by its cover?

All the time. The cover leads you to pick up the book and read the blurb. The blurb leads you to check out the first page. The first page leads you to buy the tome. A crappy cover and the book fails at the first hurdle. You judge anything with the information you have at the time and, when browsing books trying to decide which one to read next, the first information you have is the cover. I may never have discovered the joy of reading a Robin Hobb book if not for the Liveship Traders covers.

3.       Who designed your cover/covers? Where you able to work with the artist or is it all the publisher?

Alex Raspad has done the artwork for most of my books with input from myself on some of them, very little input after the initial ‘Here’s what I want’ actually. Whether it’s character shots or vistas or pirate towns burning to the ground while the men on a ship watch, Alex gets it spot on and he just keeps getting better.

Shawn King does the design on all of them afterwards and I can’t praise him enough for turning the art into actual book covers. I don’t know all of the fancy design terms folk use, and any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic… So Shawn is a wizard. Also, I hear he once turned Gandalf into a frog.

4.      Have you ever had a side character Try to steal the show? Would you like to go back and make a spin off series or something for them? Or is there a theme or idea you’d love to be able to explore in more depth?
Funny you should ask that. In earlier versions of Where Loyalties Lie there was a side character called Elaina Black who everyone (including myself) loved. In the rewrites she kept having more and more chapters and I think it’s fair to say that these days the story is as much about her as any of the others.
There are a few other characters who have made a bit of splash and when they do I tend to get a little bit inspired and write short stories around them. A few of those short stories will soon be available on my website.

5.       If you could read any book again for the first-time What book would it be?

Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb. No book has ever hit me in the feels quite like that one. I actually cried. Also, Black Lung Captain by Chris Wooding. There’s a scene involving a mid-air dogfight between a hundred flying machines, punctuated by a guy having a fist fight with a cat. It remains one of my favourite scenes in all fantasy.

6.       When trying to figure out what a character should look like, do you think of Celebrities, or just start looking at everyone you pass as if your looking through a mug shot book?

Neither. Sometimes both. Most characters just sort of come about naturally in my head, though I probably take some inspiration from folk around me without even realizing. Some characters come from more direct inspirations. I like to reference a character from my second book, The Colour of Vengeance called Jacob Lee. He’s a psychopathic, super powered, zealot with a loose grasp of reality and he likes to dance to music that only he can hear. The inspiration comes from a film called Priest (2011)… actually it comes from a single shot in the trailer of that film where Karl Urban’s character is walking through a city in chaos and waving his arms around like a conductor. It’s a terrible film, but I loved that shot and it led quite directly to Jacob Lee.

7.       How many books have you written, how many have you tried to publish, and how many are in print?

Thirteen so far.
2 of them will never see the light of day, early attempts at discovering my style.
2 are currently in print, my It Takes a Thief… series.
1 is being released on May 26th. Where Loyalties Lie.
3 are being re-released on June 21st. The Ties that Bind trilogy.
2 are being released later this year. The Fifth Empire of Man (the follow up to Where Loyalties Lie), and Drones (a sci-fi noir story).
1 is being released next year. City of Kings (the follow up to The Ties that Bind trilogy).
2 are currently being looked at by agents so I can’t share any details.
And I’m already writing the 14th.

8.       Four children have small toys. The first child has 1/10 of the toys, the second child has 12 more toys than the first, the third child has one more toy of what the first child has and the fourth child has double the third child. How many cages are there?

How many cages are there? Four, I guess. How else do you store live children?

9.       Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

Low pay, long hours, and that look of ‘You’re a unicorn.’ whenever you tell people what you do for a living.

10.   How many people have you killed over the course of your career?  Real people first, then fictional.

It’s impossible to say how many real people I might have killed over the course of my career. Due to the butterfly effect any action I take has a knock on reaction that could technically cause any number of deaths. I may be responsible for none of those deaths, but my actions may have indirectly caused events leading up to them.
As for fictional characters… A LOT. Tens of thousands at least. My First Earth saga is set on a world of turmoil where wars are a regular thing, especially in the current age. And the troubles on that world are only just getting started. Less than Star Wars, though… I’ve never blown up a planet.
11.  What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?  Did it end up helping? Or did we just count that person in question 10
Honestly one of the hardest criticisms for me to take is the times I’ve been called an Abercrombie clone. We have similar styles in some ways and a few readers picked up on that. At first it made me a little angry. Then I started looking at differently. Abercrombie is a hugely successful author with some very good books. If people want to draw comparisons between us then I will take it as a compliment.

12.  What has been the best compliment?

Any one given by my big sister. She’s my very first reader and my hero, and really not afraid to tell me when I suck, so any time she says I’ve done something well, that’s pretty much the highest praise in the world.

13.  Do you have any advice to give aspiring writers?

Never call yourself aspiring. Do you write words onto pages? Then you are a writer. Have you sold even a single copy of the words you have written onto pages? Then you are a professional writer. Also, marry into money.

14.  What do you think will be your Final words?

“Well personally I kinda wanna to slay the dragon.”

15.  What one question do you think I should have asked you, but didn’t?

Why pirates?

16.  Do you have any questions for me?

What is ‘The Captain’s Daughter’?
You can find more about Rob at his site http://www.robjhayes.co.uk/

Me and my son Cristian

A phone conversation between my son and I. He recommends to me a book series that I have already reviewed and had multiple giveaways from the author, even having a “C.T. Phipps day” last week.. Yes it hurts to know that my own child does not read my blog, but being there when he realized how awesome I really am is priceless. Thanks Charles for writing great books and bringing my family closer together.

Hob’s review of Lucifer’s Star (Lucifer’s Star #1) by C.T. Phipps and Michael Suttkus

Lucifer’s Star (Lucifer’s Star #1)

by C.T. Phipps

Michael Suttkus

The Blurb

From the bestselling author of The Rules of Supervillainy:

Cassius Mass was the greatest star pilot of the Crius Archduchy. He fought fiercely for his cause, only to watch his nation fall to the Interstellar Commonwealth. It was only after that he realized the side he’d been fighting for was the wrong one. Now a semi-functional navigator on an interstellar freight hauler, he tries to hide who he was and escape his past. Unfortunately, some things refuse to stay buried and he ends up conscripted by the very people who destroyed his homeland.

LUCIFER’S STAR is the first novel of the Lucifer’s Star series, a dark science fiction space opera set in a world of aliens, war, politics, and slavery.

I received an E-ARC of Lucifer’s Star From the author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences what I say. As always, my opinions, while completely awesome and undeniably correct, are completely my own.

This book starts during what turns out to be the last battle of a huge war between the Crius Archduchy and the Interstellar Commonwealth. In all of the Sci-fi books I have read I don’t think I have ever found one that described the battle so well. This first chapter can be called nothing but epic. And even though the scale is soon lowered the epicness never goes away.

Cassius is a great character from the start, even though he is beaten and in hiding he is proud of who he is. Although he probably should not be proud of his hiding skills. But like I said the scale is lowered and what at first looks to be a grand space opera with huge battles becomes a character driven story of intrigue and deception (with huge Battles). And the characters doing the driving are first rate. I loved them all, even the ones I hated, if that makes any sense.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

Lucifer’s Star was a nonstop thrill ride filled with action and humor. I blazed through the book so fast it felt like it only took a few seconds but I loved every second of it. I Swear the last 1/3rd of this book was so good it had me smiling for days. So do yourself a favor and pick up Lucifer’s Star by C.T. Phipps. I give it 5 stars out of 5 and I wish I could give William a hand.

 

Get a copy of Lucifer’s Star

Hobs Review of Where Loyalties Lie (Best Laid Plans #1) by Rob J. Hayes

Where Loyalties Lie

(Best Laid Plans #1)

by Rob J. Hayes

THE BLURB

Everybody knows Captain Drake Morass is only out for himself.

As the fires of a dying city burn on a distant shore, Drake sees an opportunity to unite the other pirate Captains under his flag and claim a crown for himself. If he is to succeed, he will need allies and the Oracle named Keelin Stillwater, the best swordsman in the isles, as his right hand.

With enemy ships sailing his waters and setting fire to his cities, and the sinister Tanner Black threatening to steal the throne before Drake even has a chance to sit upon it, Drake Morass must somehow convince the other Captains that his best interests are also theirs.

Where Loyalties Lie is the first book in the Best Laid Plans duology and is set in the same world as The Ties That Bind trilogy, continuing Captain Drake Morass’ story where the trilogy left off.

Kindle Edition, 404 pages

Expected publication: May 26th 2017

 

I am Ashamed to say this was the first book by Rob that I have read. Even more ashamed to say that is the third book by Rob that I own (Plus a novella I think) Trust me this will soon be remedied. It is listed as being over 400 pages, but I zipped through it faster than I have gone through some novellas. Wait I am getting ahead of myself here. Let’s do this review proper and such.  I received an E-ARC of Where Loyalties Lie

From the author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences what I say. As always, my opinions, while completely awesome and undeniably correct, are completely my own.

OK now back to my gushing review of this book. I loved the cover and will admit that is the reason I moved it up in my cue.  Really I only meant to read the first chapter to feel it out and the next thing I knew I was half way done.  When I was a Kid my Favorite video game was Sid Meier’s Pirates. I am not talking about the version that came out in 2005 no I am talking the one from 1987 I played on my Tandy 100 that had no HD and ran DOS on its amazingly powerful 24b of ram. (//C:chkdsk) But the game came with a real treasure map that you used while you played and I have been a Pirate at heart ever since. This book brought that feeling back so strongly I was humming the sea shanty my brother and I had made up as I read.

Enough of walking down memory lane lets sail the sea of reviews. If unlike me you are a land lubber and have never tasted the salt spray as you stand on the deck of your flag ship, have no fear me’ lad. The Characters in this book are strong enough to carry you away on their own. I was a fan of Keelin from the start and even by the end am still not sure if I love or hate Cap’n Drake. But both have enough hidden backstory to sink a ship, and I want to know what it all is about. I am not even going to start on all the great supporting roles because I’ll be here all day.

Final Thoughts.

Avast! Ya lubber and get yer sea legs

The action here will give ye no quarter Heave Ho and ……….. I am just fucking with ya

REAL FINAL THOUGHTS

This really was one of those rare books that has everything you could want. Witty and strong male characters. Sarcastic and possibly even stronger females. Swashbuckling hijinks and devastating losses. Dark Pirate Captains and even darker monsters. Magical Paladins and Long rifle sharp shooters. And that’s just the tip of the …. ICEBERG dead ahead Cap’n

Shiver me timbers!

Hard to Port an Get ye this book or Walk the plank ye scallywag

.

Where Loyalties Lie Gets 5 Stars me hearties Yo Ho

Get a copy of Where Loyalties Lie

Songs for the Dead A Short Story

This is a Short Story my Son wrote years ago and never really finished. I just found it and thought I would share it with you guys. I did clean it up and finished the “SONG” at the end but let me know what you think of  it.
Songs for the Dead
The small Island of Belloun was bustling with life in early afternoon, on what was their most sacred of days. The people ran about, from house to house, to the village center where the guardian statue stood, to the inn and too small wooden booths draped in orange or black woolen tarps where the scent of freshly baked pastries and sweet bread intoxicated the children in their oddly painted masks. Indeed, all the islands inhabitants wore the odd masks, that is, all except for the soldiers. The soldiers wore no masks, for they were new to the island. less than one day had passed since they had occupied the island, and taken up in The Fort, the large stone square that sat to the north of the island, on a tall pillar like column of land connected to the island only by a stone bridge that was just too small for two men to walk abreast. Tall walls right up to the edge compounded with the many arrow slots and murder holes should have allowed the fortress to easily defend against the soldiers, yet in the early dawn as the soldiers ships had approached, the fort had been empty. Commander Turner had been told that the fort would be empty on the holy days of Abscondere and Quaerere and how the Fort would be abandoned, but he had assumed that even the heathens on this god forsaken rock would quickly relinquish ceremony in the name of practicality. He recalled the mourning vividly, how at first light they had landed in their long boats, prepared for anything. Yet, even as the soldiers walked into the village, not a single man, woman or child so much as acknowledged the soldiers as they marched through the village to the Fort.
Turner had suspected solemnity in the people, yet they sang and told stories, ate sweets and made merry as if oblivious to the invaders who were there to occupy their home. This oddity was only heightened by their outfits. All wore robes of black, white, or shades of grey. This was, presumably, to give better contrast to the masks they all wore. Of every color, often of many different colors, the masks covered the hole of the face, most had what looked to be color rimed slits for eye holes, red and black being the favored colors, though a surprising number of masks bore no eye holes at all, those who wore them either being led about by friends or their mask hung by the fitting string around their necks. The masks bore no eyes, he realized, because they were not faces. Not a single mask he saw bore even the slightest resemblance to a face, or in fact to any living thing Turner had ever seen. what curious creatures these islanders were.
At the bridge, five men had stood, conical hats that gleamed and shone in the morning sun, their faces hidden. At first, the commander had thought these men to be soldiers, yet as they approached, he saw the hats he had assumed to be steel had been wicker painted with a grey reflective paint, their faces hidden not behind face guards, but wooden masks, not unlike the villagers except in the lack of the adoration of paints. They each wore grey robes, grey gloves, and the backs of their mask trailed grey fabric to obscure the back of their heads, leaving nothing exposed to the world around them. They seemed to be alone, though the entire village could have hid in that fort and Turner doubted they could have seen a hint of them. The men stood in a semicircle around the mouth of the bridge, eyeless masks smooth and inhuman, blinding them to the world.
“What are you doing here? Step aside, villager. We come to bring your island under Imperial control, and with that the protection of the empire’s soldiers.” Turner spoke the words as one who had spoken it a hundred times, with the full knowledge that the phrase was almost always followed with bloodshed. His body was tense, not in fear for his life, but in fear for theirs. The robed men did not so much as twitch. Just this once, perhaps there would be no blood on his hands. “Did you not hear me through those infernal masks? I said stand aside.” Again, no movement, but one spoke, it was impossible to tell which.
“You must leave this place.” The speaker was old, his voice calm and unafraid, almost fatherly. “leave this place now, if you value your life.” Was the man daft? He must have heard the sounds of the men marching, even if he couldn’t see them.
“I don’t think you understand your situation, old man. You are surrounded by no less than three hundred men of the Empire, you are in no position to make commands, yet alone threats.” No movement.
“If you value their lives as well as your own, you will leave this place.” A slight murmured laugh rose from the men behind him.
“Is that supposed to be a threat?” Turner scoffed, “What exactly do you plan to do if we do not leave?” A long silence from the faceless old men, but then the center most man took a step forward.
“Not a threat, but a warning. If you do not leave, not a man among you will survive the night.” Raucous laughter burst from amongst the soldiers, but Turner cut it off with the raise of his hand. He waited for silence, and when it fell, spoke to the masked men.
“Are there any of you hiding in the fort?” Commander Turner had none of the levity of his company, he was a veteran of the islands, and nine times out of ten the savages fought to the last man to keep out the Empire, and never did they give up so nonchalantly. No, Turner fully expected an attack, tonight if the masked man’s threat was any indication. But, why then let them take the Fort? It was by far the most defensible place on the island. Perhaps to try and trap them? The man seemed hesitant. “An answer or your life, old man.” The words cut any vestiges of humor from the men. His where good men, and found no mirth in killing unarmed old men.
“No one else dares be this close to the Fort, son of the empire. You should be as them and be elsewhere.”
“I have heard enough. Someone watch these fools, i want them chained up under guard until the fort is secured. I don’t trust this, I want every inch of this place searched for traps and for anyone who thought to hide inside. Anyone you find is to join their friends here until we find a place to keep them. Anything seaming even the slightest bit out of the ordinary I want it reported directly to me, am I understood?” There was a solute from the men who could hear him, others waited for his orders to be passed down the line. It took only two men to guide the masked men out of the way, they put up no fight except their refusal to remove their masks. Though Turner found it odd, after he had each man show his face once to the soldiers who guarded them it didn’t seem to make any difference whether or not they wore their masks, so he had allowed it.
Turner itched between his shoulders, a sensation he connected to danger. He had not realized how long it had been since he had last felt danger till that moment, and now it made no sense. While fighting pirates, quelling rebellious tribes, forcing his way to shore threw air buzzing with arrows and the screams of the dying, sometimes as many his men as those they fought, always he felt in control. A man always had a chance to survive in battle, no matter how bad things appeared. You could always fight, there was always something a man could do to survive, given he saw the opportunity and took it. No, those things did not scare Commander Witt C. Turner of the Imperial navy. The last time he had felt fear, true fear, was when he had fallen to Yellow fever a year gone. Death had been inevitable then. No way to fight, no way out, and the overwhelming sense of impotence chilling him to the bone as the fever burned his body. But he had survived, and God willing he could survive anything after that. But why that feeling now? There wasn’t anything for him to do, no resistance, no opposition to quell. But perhaps that was just it, he felt as if he should be fighting. The faceless old mans “warnings” made Turner shiver slightly. This was far from over. This island was an iceberg, and he could feel its secrets hidden just beneath the surface. Something was very wrong, and Turner planned to face it head on. He was in control. He kept repeating that to himself as he walked off to see to his men.
 
 
The Fort was large, especially so considering it was on an island. It could fit his three hundred two and a half times again easily, and with its narrow mouth a handful of men could defend it against a determined army. The place was a labyrinth of hallways and rooms, some much larger than others, and a dungeon on the top floor where Turner had seen to the Masked men’s incarceration. Indeed, with enough supplies it could very well hold off a determined superior force with the entire village inside. That was the problem, Turner thought annoyedly as he sat in his new office, scratching gingerly into a vellum ledger. It all made no sense. Their search had been as thorough as possible, for the short time they had had at least, and there was no hidden army waiting to strike, no assassins in the shadows waiting to kill Turner and his officers, no boobytraps waiting to trap them all and starve them to death. In fact the larger part of the fort looked like it had not seen a occupation in quite some time, dust laying thick over each room as a blanket, cobwebs hanging in corners, the musty smell of the dust competing with the smell of wood gone to rot from years left exposed to the damp island air. Yet smell was the last thing on Turners mind. He had found a sizeable office with a small window, barred with iron work so rusted as if trying to mimic the heaps of molded wood on the floor in their decay.
Turner had had those heaps removed and replaced with a fresh desk, purchased in the village with Turner’s own money only an hour gone. Turner, a frugal man if there ever had been one, would have initially preferred his own desk, still aboard the ship where it was bolted to the floor like all his furniture to avoid shifting with the ceaseless rocking of a ship at sea, yet as turner sat at this new desk, he couldn’t help but admire the red-brown and white patterns of the wood, or its strong smell, which though he could barely smell over the still lingering smell of decay he knew had to be strong just to register to his senses, keen though they were. He bent over in the chair that he sat in and breathed deeply with his nose to the wood, and for a brief second he forgot his contemplation of the island troubles, lost in his admiring of the scented wood, but with that realization of him forgetting his troubles, he thought of them anew. His annoyance caused him to straighten, and with a start he realized there was a man standing in the doorway. A man in an eyeless wooden mask.
Turner stood up immediately, his hand reaching for his sword more out of instinct then conscious will, but the hilt caught on the arm of his chair and chair lifted with Turner and the seconds that it cost him where all too precious. The masked figure ran across the room, stumbling slightly as it hit the desk, but knowing where it was it easily moved around it and in one fluid movement it had one hand to Turner’s neck and one hand pining Turner’s sword in its sheath. Even as Turner struggled to free himself and wrestle his sword free the man, the thing in the mask began to lift Turner, choking him as his feet scraped vainly at the floor.
The masked figure was chanting something in a murmured, maddened voice Turner vaguely recognized as the fatherly old man from that mourning.
“Death was nimble, and death was quick, , there It was, and see you it did.” Turner gave up on grabbing the sword and tried to pry at the masked man’s iron grip at his throat with both hands, though the man’s gloved fingers didn’t budge at all.
“The Fort was strong, the Fort was fraught, thought it was safe, though it was not.” turner was beginning to black out, his hands numb as they pulled against the gloved fingers. Turner felt the reality of his situation sinking in, the inevitability of his death and the futility of his struggle against that death.
“The Guards stood proud, the Guards stood tall, then He came, and they did fall. The cry was raised the cry was heard-” The last words where lost to Turner as he slipped in to unconsciousness.
 
 
Death was nimble, and death was quick, there It was, and see you it did. The Fort was strong, the Fort was fraught, thought it was safe, though it was not. The Guards stood proud, the Guards stood tall, then He came, and they did fall. The cry was raised the cry was heard its raisers did hide but did not hide all. Hide your face when comes the night, cover your eyes and survive you just might. Enter the Fort and meet your end, show your face for yourself you must fend. So bring all your solders and line up the walls, have them patrol the long empty halls. Give them your orders with your last breath, then wish you had saved it to scream, when you too meet Death.