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R.A. McCandless

And Other Lies Older Generations Like To Tell Themselves

Photo by Museums Victoria on Unsplash

Back in my day, we didn’t have oxygen to breath. We had to smash our chests with two rocks to keep our hearts pumping. That was when we weren’t working in the salt mines to get enough gruel for our daily meal. It was hard, but that’s the way we…

Photo by Jay Rembert on Unsplash

TL;DR Version: Humans aren’t responsible enough to handle firearms.

There has been no end of discussion about gun violence, gun control, and gun rights. That’s good and it needs to continue happening. The discussion part. …

1863 Samurai at the Sphinx, Photo by Antonio Beato

There’s a story behind every photograph. Some photos aren’t interesting to everyone, whether that’s Aunt Jenny at the Hootenanny, or Uncle Jim at the Barn-Raising. Others are fascinating for the sheer fact that they exist at all. Take the above Samurai Posing by the Sphinx, shot in 1863.



Prologues: How to Prologue Without Prolonging the Pain

Photo by Andre Benz on Unsplash


Prologues have such a bad reputation — hanging out on the wrong side of the tracks, smoking cigarettes and getting tattoos — that some readers will roll up the windows and drive past quickly.

Never in the history of humankind has there been a more divisive subject.

There has…

Keeping it Real: Why “Bad Guys” Do Bad Things

“It was in keeping with the practice of mankind for us to accept an empire that was offered to us, and if we refused to give it up under the pressure of three of the strongest motives, fear, honor, and self-interest.”
— Thucydides: History of the Peloponnesian War 1.76

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


Quarterly Performance All-Hands Conference, About 8:07 am

They may be called the Palace Guard, the City Guard, or the Patrol. Whatever the name, their purpose in any work of heroic fantasy is identical: it is, round about Chapter Three (or ten minutes into the film) to rush into the room, attack the hero one at a time…

The Under-Used but Super Cool Parrying Dagger

Photo by Tobias Cornille on Unsplash

One of the coolest fighting styles — a real, that is — is sword and parrying dagger. Writers who are looking to engage the Rule of Cool, but also remain steadfastly in the realm of historic reality should really jump on this one. Shields often get a the short end…

Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned How to Crush My Enemies, See Them Driven Before Me, and Drink Their Tears

Photo by James Pond on Unsplash

I n light of recent events, I feel congratulations are in order for Karen Hough! She clearly read the following excellent advice and took it to heart. As a result, her book on Goodreads rose from a mere 4.5+ stars all the way up to 1.6 as of today (April…

Worldbuilding With Female Characters

Photo by yogurt on Unsplash

There have been, in almost any era, women warriors: Harriet Tubman, Fu Hao, Tomoe Gozen (of whom I’m writing a book), Boudicca, Arachidamia. They generally stand out as the exception, rather than the rule, rendering them even more exceptional. Tomoe Gozen was said to have been…

R.A. McCandless

Award-winning author of steampunk and urban fantasy.

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