Lies-of-Locke-LamoraThe Lies of Locke Lamora is fantasy’s version of The Sting. It has a title that stuck in my mind once I heard it. Every time that I saw it, I couldn’t help but start hearing the song “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?” from Finian’s Rainbow in my head.

It’s an interesting look at the life and career of a young man named Locke Lamora. He is an orphan that the Thiefmaker sells to a supposedly eyeless priest but an actuality is a con artist. The priest trains Lamora as a con artist and thief. Lamora takes to the profession and eventually comes to lead the Gentlemen Bastards, a small group of thieves and con artists like himself who prowl the land Camorr.

It took a little bit to get into the story, but once I did, I became fascinated by the con that Lamora was trying to pull off among Camorr’s nobility. I enjoyed his character and was willing to follow him through the story. He has to deal with rival gangs and Camorr’s secret police, but the main opponent is a mysterious character called the Gray King.

The Gray King has come to overthrow the current leadership of Camorr’s underworld and he does so in a brutal fashion. Then he sets out to do much the same with the nobility. However, he makes the mistake of crossing Lamora in a deadly fashion and forcing Lamora to take on a man that he himself fears.

I was delighted to stumble across Scott Lynch. He is one of a new set of fantasy writers who I’ve discovered in recent months and really enjoyed. The other two are Brent Weeks and Brian McClellan.

The Lies of Locke Lamora moves quickly and smoothly. The main characters are interesting. Even the ones you don’t like, you can understand why they are the way they are. The plots has plenty of interesting twists as you would expect in a story that centers around a con. I will be curious to see where Lynch takes the next book in the series.


My first Goodreads drawing for autographed copies of The Rain Man has ended. Congratulations to the 10 winners randomly by Goodreads from the 1,751 people who entered. I have to say that it was easy enough to do. Goodreads sent me the list of the winners once the giveaway ended. I’ll be sending out the copies tomorrow. The second stage is that, hopefully, these winners will read the book and post reviews on websites and blogs.

For anyone interested, I have another giveaway going on for my newest book, Beyond the Battlefield: Stories from Gettysburg’s Rich History. There is still time to enter. The giveaway ends on Wednesday. Just follow this link and enter:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Beyond the Battlefield by James Rada Jr.

Beyond the Battlefield

by James Rada Jr.

Giveaway ends April 16, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


An interesting blog. I always worry when I quote someone in my books that I might be taking the quote out of context. However, in the example used in this blog of Reagan quoting Burke, I don’t necessarily think a quote needs to be applied to the same situation. A single quote can be appropriate in multiple situation. I do believe that the original context should be noted if the quote is being used in a different way.

Originally posted on Millard Fillmore's Bathtub:

Commenter SBH put me on to this interesting set of principles from a mathematician, on bogus quotes, and how to determine that they are bogus, and most important, how to avoid creating a bogus quote by stripping context or altering the text.

‘After all, a study I once read said something like 86% of all statistics cited in speeches are made up on the spot.’*

I looked up Martin Porter.  What are his principles of quotations?  Who is he, and why should we listen to him?

Mathematician Martin Porter, in the 21st century.

Mathematician Martin Porter, in the 21st century. Self portrait.

Turns out he’s a mathematician who works in algorithms to study language, and a founder of Grapeshot.  Along the way, he grew intrigued with trying to source a very famous quotation attributed to Edmund Burke (confess, you don’t really know enough about Burke to describe who he was, or why that quote might not be…

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When I started out freelancing full-time, I sought out as many different clients and magazines as I could. I wanted to get the assignment. I wasn’t so focused on getting repeat business. Looking back, I probably should have done more to build stronger relationships with those editors and businesspeople to get repeat business as well.

It’s hard to go for both breath, which I define as the lots of assignments from different publications and businesses, and depth, which I define as multiple assignments with the same business or publication.

The advantage of going for breadth is that you don’t have all your eggs in one basket. If one magazine ends publication, it won’t cripple your income. The disadvantage is that you are going to have to do a lot more marketing. If you’re like me, you didn’t become a freelance writer to have to market yourself all the time.

The advantage of going for depth is that you create a semi-steady stream of income and , if you’re lucky, the client will come to you with assignments. The disadvantage is that it will hurt financially if the client stops using your services for any reason.

Over the years, I did manage to create depth with some magazines and businesses, but when I look over my list of clients and publications, I see more that I should have been building a relationship with. Now that I have a list of over 110 publications that I’ve had articles in, I try and build more repeat business with my favorites or the ones that pay more. This still allows me to add a few new titles to the master list.

My recommendation for freelancers starting out is to apply the 80/20 rule with 80 percent of your effort being new clients and 20 percent being repeat. Then begin shifting it by about 10 percent each year until in your seventh year of business 80 percent of your work is repeat business.

McClellan_PromiseofBlood-TPI bought “Promise of Blood” because I thought the idea of powder mages—people who can heighten their senses by sniffing gunpowder and manipulate its explosive power—as a fun magic system to use in an 18th Century world. I wasn’t disappointed.

The story starts just as a coup is overthrowing a king who has squandered his kingdom’s wealth while his people starve. It took me a few chapters to get all of the characters straight because there’s a lot going on in this book. Once I did, though, I zipped through the story. It’s not only a great fantasy novel, but it’s filled with plenty of political intrigue.

Field Marshal Tamas has formed a coalition with other prominent people in the kingdom to overthrow a corrupt king. Now, that he has a kingdom, he has to find a way to hold it from foes outside the borders who want to take advantage of the weakened kingdom and royalists within the borders who want to re-establish the royal bloodline. Not only that, but it appears as if Tamas and his supporters may also get caught in the middle of a God war.

There’s a few storylines that McClellan keeps weaving throughout the book. Some get resolved by the end, but others leave you wondering just what will happen in the next book.



Want to have some fun? Forget about answering questions about which movie or TV series characters you are. Try this link below to find out who you write like.

Click on the analyzer, copy in sample of your writing and see who write like. The program calls itself a statistical analysis tool that analyzes word choice and writing style and compares your writing to that of other famous writers.

I got Margaret Mitchell. So who do you write like?


Originally posted on Savvy Writers & e-Books online:



Part 1 of 2
The odds of winning the Lottery and becoming a millionaire are approximately 1 in 14 million. For
authors to find a publisher, the odds are somewhat better. Maybe 1 out of 500 or 1,000 queries,
depending on the agent / publisher, might lead to a contract. These publishing professionals
receive 150 – 500 unsolicited book pitches per day! from writers.
No matter if you send a query to the editor of Amazon Kindle Singles  – if it is a short story – or to trade publishers, you have to compete with several dozen or even several hundred other writers.
Competition for writers when pitching at magazines and newspapers is less fierce.

How to Calculate a Book Page
Have you ever calculated how much time and money you invested in your book(s)? Added up the
hours you were sitting on your computer, typing…

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exercise_bike_1I had a real nice experience at the YMCA this morning. I was pedaling away on the recumbent bike and sweating like a pig. A woman sat down on the bike next to me and started her workout. After a minute, she tapped me on the arm and showed me her smart phone, which she was reading a book on. The screen showed the cover of my first book, Canawlers.

I know I smiled pretty broadly, but to show that enough oxygen must not have been getting to my brain because I asked, “Where’d you get that?”

“Off Kindle.”

Then realization kicked in. She was reading my e-book not just showing me a picture of the cover of my book. (The oxygen finally got to my brain.)

“I hope you like it,” I told her.

“I love how you write,” she told me.

It turns out that she was a fan of my weekly history columns in the Gettysburg Times and had wanted to read more.

Her comment made me feel better than my workout did. If only it burned as many calories, I would never have to workout again.

The Rain Man CoverTo celebrate the release of the Kindle edition of The Rain Man, I am giving away 10 autographed copies of the paperback edition. It’s free to enter. Just visit this link and click to enter.

Here’s the story:

Raymond Twigg hates the rain because it gives the Rain Man power. It is a power to bring Raymond to his knees or drive him to deadly action.

As the March 1936 rains bring the St. Patrick’s Day Flood, the worst flood ever seen in Cumberland, Maryland, it also unleashes the power of the Rain Man on the citizens of the city.

While most of the police force is diverted trying to deal with the flooding in the city and the problems it is causing, Sergeant Jake Fairgrieve is called out to investigate a murder. Murders are unusual in Cumberland, but this one is more unusual than most. The dead man’s head has been crushed on the left side with no apparent weapon and the body is laid out on the street as if it was in a casket.

Jake throws himself into tracking this murder with no motive. The search keeps him from having to deal with his own fears about the approaching flood until he comes face to face with the Rain Man.

With the Jake trailing him, the Rain Man turns from hunted to hunter. He kidnaps Jake’s girlfriend, Dr. Chris Evans. In order to save Chris, Jake will have to face his own fears and the Rain Man in the flooded streets of Cumberland where the Rain Man is at his most powerful.

Good luck! I hope you win!


A close-up view of how thick a writer’s skin needs to be.

Now I don’t expect every review to be positive, but sometimes the negative ones just seem so unwarranted that I’m at a loss for what to do. I’ve been writing professionally since 1988 and I’ve gotten plenty of rejection letters and bad reviews. I thought between all of the rejection letters and angry readers who I dealt with when I was a newspaper reporter that my skin was pretty thick. Then I read something or talk to someone and my skin doesn’t feel so thick.

I recently had an e-mail conversation with a woman who said I owed her mother an apology for things I wrote about her grandfather in one of my books. However, her problem was based on interviews with people who knew the man. I didn’t make them up. She also conveniently ignored some of the good points that I mentioned about him. When I pointed this out to her, she seemed to ignore them. And to top it all off, the man in question was mentioned only a half dozen times throughout the book because he was a very minor character.

I tried answering her accusations with examples in the book and explaining where my information came from, but she didn’t want to hear it.

So then, I came across another review (oddly, enough for the same book) that seems largely based on people identified in a picture. The reviewer goes on about how badly I screwed it up, but I didn’t identify the people. The identification was made by the man who gave me the pictures.

So should I point this out to the reviewer? Would it make a difference since the review is already posted?

My inclination is to not to do anything, but it sticks in my craw to be accused of sloppy research and making up facts. I know how much research I’ve done and it’s wasn’t sloppy.

I guess it’s a spillover from my reporting days when I used to get accused of all kinds of things. However, I always made sure to have both sides of a controversial subject in my stories and I also presented the strongest arguments on both sides. When I presented data, I always made sure that readers knew where it came from so they could find the original source. Yet, still I got berated; sometimes by both sides.

The lesson to be learned (if there is one) can be summed up by adapting something Abraham Lincoln is supposed to have said. “You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not please all of the people all of the people all of the time.”


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