Best of Indy Nomination Time!

Thanks to everyone who came to see me on Author’s Avenue this weekend!

Each year, I participate in a local contest: Best of Indy. You can to vote daily to nominate your favorite Indianapolis business and personalities and I would appreciate your support in the Best Local Author category! So far, I have been the ONLY sci-fi/fantasy author represented on the list of nominees. I’m a firm believer that genre does not determine whether or not something is literature or worth reading.

Nuvo’s Best of Indy Contest nomination phase runs from today, August 16 through September 13, 2017.
People who receive the most nominations will appear on the ballot at the end of September.
Here’s how to find the Best Local Author Category:
  • Click Arts & Entertainment
  • Press “Continue” to proceed to page 2
  • Press “Submit” to get to page 3 where you can type in “Hans Cummings” in the Best Local Author field (as shown in the attached picture).
  • Press “Submit” again and type in the Captcha code.
  • Press “Submit” one final time to record your nomination.
Notes: Nuvo upgraded their system, so you’ll need to create a new login id and confirm your registration once editors@nuvo.net sends you the confirmation email. If you don’t see it, be sure to check your Spam folder. You can opt out of future mailings when you register.
Thank you for your support!
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The Gingerbreadening, Part the Third

matrix-gun-rack-oDecorating the gingerbread structures is done with copious amounts of royal icing and modeling chocolate. And candy. Lots of candy. I feel like Neo when he decides to rescue Morpheus, except I’m asking for “Candy, lots of candy!”

(If I was really dedicated, I’d crack into that gif and change all the guns to candy, but that’s a LOT of work.)

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Now one may think, “Gee, that looks good enough to eat!”, and you would be correct. However, you should NOT eat it. It’s been sitting out for days, collecting dust and cat hair. The modeling chocolate has been kneaded and sculpted by hands. Sweaty, germy, human hands. The cinnamon stick columns are basically tree bark and only good to eat ground up into a fine powder (I don’t recommend the Cinnamon Challenge, though).

If you want to eat it, do what we do: make a veritable army of Gingerbread Mans (yes, I call them “Mans,” you can thank StrongBad for that) just for eating (and invading Gingerbread villages).

If you want to see all the pictures, here’s a handy-dandy slideshow at Photobucket. Unfortunately, since I didn’t take the time to rename all the files to put them in chronological order, it’s kind of a random look at the week+ we spent, rather than anything that makes sense.

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The Gingerbreadening, Part the Second


(Trying to get WordPress to put images where I want them is always a struggle when I have more images than text, so I apologize for the presentation.)

In one respect, building a gingerbread house is like any other construction project: you need to start with a plan.

(You can click on the images to enlarge them.)

Many gingerbread books include plans for the structures they feature (some do not). There are also some available online. You can also create your own by constructing your buildings out of cardstock or cardboard, then using the finished pieces as templates for your baking.

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Part of our prep work also includes making modeling chocolate. Domed and round structures are really hard to make out of a cookie, so using a flexible medium eliminates a LOT of stress.

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The Gingerbreadening, Part the First

There comes a time of year when spices emerge, vast quantities of butter, sugar, and eggs are acquired, and the baking begins.

This is not an activity that comes without planning. Architectural plans are drawn up and mock-ups are created in cardboard, then used as templates.

Pounds upon pounds of confectioner’s sugar (aka icing sugar aka powdered sugar) will be used in quantities that could make the kitchen look like a cocaine den.

This time of year is called THE GINGERBREADENING.

2014-11-22-18-20-52Each year has a theme. The last time The Gingerbreadening happened, it was a village square. This time, it is Tim Burton’s “A Nightmare Before Christmas.” Normally, part of the challenge of building gingerbread structures is keeping everything straight. It’s like building a house of cards: if your cards were made out of cookies. I don’t know if purposely constructing warped, crooked structures is going to make this easier or more difficult.

Thus far, only the base has been created. Well, that’s not true. All of the gingerbread pieces are complete and ready for assembly. But, in order to assemble them, a baseplate must be made ready. It is little more than a foil-wrapped cardboard box covered in white fondant.

Fun fact: different brands of mini marshmallows are different colors. Even when the coloring additive in all of them is Blue 1. One batch had a definite blueish cast. Another was more yellow. The third was sort of a neutral, off-white. Once the building are in place and decorated, it is doubtful anyone will notice.

Echo Station 3-T-8. We've spotted Imperial Walkers on the north ridge!

Echo Station 3-T-8. We’ve spotted Imperial Walkers on the north ridge!

My wife left me alone with the base while the fondant was drying. This was the result.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

RyllBobFactual statement: I am Bob. My friends call me Ryll Bob. It is because I am a Ryll.

Affectionate mocking: They are not very witty.

With sincerity: I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving. There are many thing for which one can be thankful. Friends, family, health. It is my hope you are thankful for all of those things. I am thankful for my friends at Cytherean Academy: Zack Jackson, Jenny DuBois, Dravs, and Xal. There are not many Ryll here and they make life less lonely.

My knowledge of Earth culture is limited. I have never even been to Earth. As I understand it, Thanksgiving, like many holidays on Earth has changed meaning over time as people of different beliefs have appropriated it. For us, in the 43rd century, we see it simply as a time to celebrate the good in our lives and to give thanks for those things. It is a time to put aside differences and grievances and enjoy the time we have together.

With puzzled hesitation: Dravs has told me there is an Earth custom of singing a song for this celebration. I do not know how he knows this, as he is Devoran and generally seems to be ignorant of Earth customs, but he is my friend and I will trust him.

[Error: translator not programmed for harmonizing]: Happy Thanksgiving to you. Earth is a melted zoo. Turkeys hate thanksgiving. But they taste really good.

With great concern: That is not a very good song. It was my understand than it would rhyme more. Dravs may have been pulling a prank on me.

Insincere threat: He will pay for this.


Happy Thanksgiving from VFF Publishing!


Ryll Bob drawn by Stan! You can read about Ryll Bob and his friends in Zack Jackson & The Cytherean Academy and Zack Jackson & The Hives of Valtra.

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Nominate Me for Best Local Author – Indianapolis

Nominate me for Best Local Author – Indianapolis

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Beta Readers needed for Zack Jackson 3

Zack Jackson Arc

The time is rapidly approaching when I will need Beta Readers for my upcoming YA sci-fi novel, Zack Jackson & The Hives of Valtra.

This is the third book in the Zack Jackson series and clocks in at just under 80,000 words (so far). If you, or your children aged 12+ are interested in helping out, please send me a message. I plan to have the manuscript ready within the next week and can provide it in PDF, .mobi, or .epub (or if you insist, I will mail you copy).

I would like to have feedback returned to me by April 13th. You will not be expected to do any editing or proofreading (though if you notice something really bad, feel free to mention it); I’m mostly looking for feedback on the characters and plot. There are several fairly heavy topics that come up and I want to make sure that I’ve handled them with the respect they deserve. These topics include: dealing with the death of a parent, dealing with the aftermath of an assault (including suicidal thoughts from the shaming), and one character is a practicing Muslim (I don’t feel this is controversial, per se, but I do want to make sure I’m not being overtly ignorant or offensive with her portrayal).

I will also provide a series of questions I would like you to think about as you read the manuscript. You don’t have to provide your feedback as answers to the questions; they are intended just to give you an idea of the type of feedback for which I am looking.

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Book Signing November 16th!

That’s right, I will be doing my first public book signing on November 16th at Half-Price Books Outlet, 3120. W. Susan Drive in Bloomington, Indiana. I’ll have copies of all four of my books for sale. I’ll be in the store from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

If you want me to sign a body part, you’ll need to bring your own permanent marker. :p

HalfPrice Books logo

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Where I will be – Gen Con edition

If you’re going to Gen Con (August 15-18, 2013),  you can find me most of the time in the Dealer Hall at my table on Author’s Avenue. It’s table AA, near the back of the hall across the aisle from Stan! and the Media Guest of Honor Autograph area.

I will have paperback copies of all of my books there, as well as a hardcover Gen Con-exclusive limited edition omnibus of my fantasy series, The Foundation of Drak-Anor. This edition is limited to 50 copies, so you should get it as soon as possible. I will also have CDs with electronic versions of all of my books in three formats (epub, mobi, and PDF).

Look for this banner!

High Res Banner

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Zack Jackson & The Cytherean Academy Update

Zack Jackson 2 bluesteel

The doldrums of December caught up with me and I hit a brick wall with Zack Jackson & The Cytherean Academy. It was a very busy and stressful month and I just couldn’t get my brain in gear to actually write anything. I might have written 1,000 words all month. Probably not. By the time January rolled around, I was pretty much lost.

So, I did my old trick of outlining the plot to see where the holes were. Now I have a roadmap of where I need to go to complete this first draft. I’ve already written over 6,000 words, so I think I’m back on track. I might have the manuscript finished by the end of next week. Then it’s off to editing (and I can get back to writing fantasy)!

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