Wednesday, December 29, 2010

January Movie Preview!

Welcome to January and the movie dumping ground!

Yes, this is where the studios tend to dump the below average films. Once in a while, you find a gem, but you have to wade through the muck.

So to offset the total lack of movies (on January 7th, there’s only one - be ironic if it’s not tops at the box office) I have included some DVD release dates as well. Movie descriptions from IMDB.

4 -

Machete
on DVD
Go ahead - you know you want to watch it!

(Ishtar also comes out on BluRay. Yeah, I know you’re excited about that one.)

7 -

Season of the Witch

Director: Dominic Sena
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Claire Foy
The Plot: A 14th-century Crusader (Cage) returns to his homeland, which has been devastated by the Black Plague. To appease members of the church, he and his comrade (Perlman) look to transport an accused witch (Foy) to a remote abbey, where monks hope that a ritual will end the pestilence.
Okay, this one has been delayed a year - never a good sign. And yet, I keep hoping…

11 -

The Social Network
on DVD
No, I haven’t seen it yet - I will, I will!

Piranha 3D on DVD
Yeah, Ill watch it. I just have to know – is it bad or really bad?

14 -

The Green Hornet

Director: Michel Gondry
Stars: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz
The Plot: A newspaper publisher by day and masked crime fighter by night, The Green Hornet and his martial arts expert sidekick, Kato, fight crime while trying to keep their true identities a secret.
Early screenings have not been good, so we’ll see what the critics say.

25 -

RED and Secretariat on DVD
I reviewed both - click on title to read. Good movies. Yes, even the stupid horse movie!

28 -

The Mechanic

Director: Simon West
Stars: Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland
The Plot: An elite assassin (Statham) takes on an apprentice (Foster) who has a connection to one of his earlier targets.
Okay, I admit it - Statham is cool. Even if the movie is sub-par, the man is still cool. However, this one does have a good cast.


Any other exciting films in January?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

True Grit Movie Review!

And now, the review you've all been waiting for...

True Grit

Staring Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, Barry Pepper, and Josh Brolin


This movie has all the grandeur of a sweeping western while retaining the quirky charm of a Coen Brothers film. This film is not a remake of the movie with John Wayne. Instead, the Coen brothers have gone back to the original novel and crafted a film that creates its own identity. What really shines though is the performances by everyone involved. The actors have taken these iconic characters and made them unique and memorable.

The pacing is deliberate but not slow. There’s plenty of wonderful, introspective moments for which the Coen Brothers are famous. And while we enjoy these quiet moments we get to marvel at the masterful cinematography.

Jeff Bridges took the character of Rooster Cogburn and made it his own. He’s gruff, ornery, and a drunk, but with gun in hand, he possesses a real air of menace. Go ahead and count it – another Oscar nomination.


Hailee Steinfeld plays Mattie and she was impressive! Mattie is intelligent, bold, and precocious, and the performance also deserves an Oscar nomination. I’m telling you, this little girl is tough! She is so focused that Mattie will let nothing stand in her way. Only it’s not so much revenge for her father’s death as it is justice.

Damon, Pepper, and Brolin are also great. But it is the performance of Bridges and Steinfeld that make this one a winner.

You heard me – it’s a winner. Go see it!!

And hope everyone had an awesome Christmas!

Oh, and we woke up to snow this morning...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I want to wish all of my followers and friends a Merry Christmas!

I treasure all of the special friends I've made this past year. May you have a peaceful and blessed holiday season, whatever you may be celebrating. As for me and my house, we'll be celebrating the greatest gift of all.

Merry Christmas and go easy on the eggnog!

I'll be around, but if not, I'll see you Sunday when I post my review of True Grit. (Because it's always movie season!)

And if you want to get me something really cool, go vote for my book trailer at Parajunkee!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Book Trailer Contests and the Final Naked Answers...

There are a couple cool book trailer contests online. I just discovered that my trailer’s been nominated for Best Sci-Fi/Distopian over at Parajunkee. There are some cool prizes, so I’m calling upon my awesome army to go HERE to vote for CassaStar’s trailer. (Be sure to check out some of the other categories as well.) Spunk on a Stick’s Tips is also hosting a book trailer contest. Many of you have some cool trailers, so be sure to enter before December 31st.

Now for the final round of naked answers…

From Vicki Rocho - With all that manic writing, are you brushing and flossing like you should be?

I always brush and floss!

From Susan Fields - How many revisions of CassaStar did you go though?

Dozens upon dozens…

From Powered Toast Man - When you were younger did you ever worry about getting an erection when you went to the doctor for a physical?

No, more to the point, I worried about the 65-year-old doctor getting an erection…

From Talli Rolland - What has been the most helpful thing anyone has said to you about the whole publishing process - after you've been published?

Don’t stop promoting.

From Lynda Young - How'd you pick your names for your characters?

The names of the two main characters were from the original manuscript, so I don’t remember their origins. For the others, I spent an hour brainstorming unique but simple names and then matched them to characters.

From Abby Minard - How long did it take you to write CassaStar?

The first draft – almost a year! Revisions took another six months.

From Ali - Byron is a very complex man with a lot of internal history and cause & effect. How did you build him as a character? Did you model him after someone you know (or yourself)? Or did you build him layer by layer through revisions?

Byron is definitely not me! I just took the original character, created his background, and filled in other details until I felt I knew him well. Most of his layers came before I began writing the story.

From Enid - How do you find twists in a story?

I look for the shouts. (Don’t twists and shouts always go together?)

Don't forget to go HERE to vote for CassaStar’s trailer!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Movie Review, Stardate Christmas, and Indie Lit Awards

Yes, another weekend, another movie review. (As many as I watch, I could do this daily. God Bless NetFlix!)

First, just a quick piece of exciting news – CassaStar made the long list for the Indie Lit. Awards!!! Yes, my book is among those nominated from small and independent presses. Now, it’s the long list, so not holding my breath that I’ll make the short list. But it’s still really damn cool!!

Okay, on to my movie review! (Because I do have a science fiction image to uphold now.)


TRON: LEGACY

It appears critics are suffering from a bad case of Scrooge. I don’t know what movie they saw, but the one I saw was an incredibly fun film!

This movie utilizes 3D technology to the max, creating a mesmerizing experience. The action is well done and the light cycle scene is the stand out action piece. There’s a few moments of slow pacing that could’ve been chopped, but the movie is such a marvel to behold, you’ll hardly notice.

The music by Daft Punk is a perfect fit. It reminds me of older John Carpenter scores – repeating rhythms that are very synth heavy. Before we entered the theater, my wife asked if we’d hear a Journey song, just like in the original Tron. Much to my surprise, the answer is yes!

Jeff Bridges plays Jeff Bridges to a T. The effects used to reduce his age were a little odd, but fit within the context of the computer world. I thought Garrett Hedlund was good as his son, Sam. Olivia Wilde wasn’t given a lot to do, although her character is a key player. The young lady who played Gem was absolutely gorgeous while Michael Sheen’s Castor was excellent and so over the top fun.

Is it a perfect movie? No! But I go to the movies to be entertained. Tron: Legacy delivers that on all levels and will amaze you with the 3D computer world. Best movie of December so far!

Okay critics, now go drink some spiked eggnog and chill out!!

Finally, here’s the Stardate Christmas Tweets from this past week:

Stardate Christmas 11.9 Disassembled Borg make excellent Christmas ornaments!

Stardate Christmas 13.9 After firing all of our torpedoes at the Romulans, we finally defeated them with a devastating volley of fruitcake!

Stardate Christmas 14.9 Worf discovered mhyrr and gagh (a Klingon delicacy) mixed together is an excellent remedy for bunions! Who knew?

Stardate Christmas 15.9 Everybody sing! 5 beaming up, 4 Klingons belching, 3 Ferengis stealing, 2 tribbles mating, and a Vulcan in Pon Farr!

Stardate Christmas 16.9 The Andorian Ambassador, Boughs F Hollie, became enraged during our rendition of Deck the Halls. Damn!

Stardate Christmas 17.7 Next time we'll confirm the unknown ship's identity before firing photon torpedoes. Sorry kids, no Santa this year!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Villains and Fantastic Friday Writers

Double shot today! In addition to the Fantastic Friday Writers post, I have a guest post at Breakthrough Blogs. Stephen’s been doing a series on villains and let’s just say I took an opposing view. (Captain Ninja Alex’s prerogative.)

Today is another edition of Fantastic Friday Writers! I invite your to check out my Fantastic Friday Writers partners - Elizabeth Mueller, Anastasia V. Pergakis, J. D. Brown, and Deirdra Eden Coppel - for their take on this subject.

What goes into your character Bible?

I don’t have a character Bible so much as character Cliff Notes. This is the information I gather in my folder:

Detailed background – family, what happened before the story begins, etc.
Strengths and weaknesses
General appearance – and no, I don’t use photos
“Why?” – why the character does what he does
“Don’t” - I got this from another writer. Make a list of don’ts from your character’s perspective. “Don’t… get close to me.” “Don’t… underestimate my abilities.” Stuff like that.
I also keep detailed notes on the world I am creating, which helps me create the characters

And that’s it! Short and simple.

What’s in your character Bible? (Or Cliff Notes?)

(And thanks again to everyone who voted for me in The Movie 411 Awards!)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

They Announced The Movie 411 Awards!

The winners of the The Movie 411 Blog Awards were announced today!

First, a big shout out to my fellow blogger buddy:

Dezmond at THE HOLLYWOOD SPY took home the Best Gossip Award AND the Gold Movie Award!!!

Awesome, Dez! Was there every any doubt?

And finally…

I won Best Sci-Fi Blog!!!!!!!



Thanks to everyone who voted for me! Last I saw, I had almost half of the votes (out of five blogs) which really blew my mind. And I was up against some big-time science fiction bloggers as well.

Guess it’s time I got serious with this science fiction thing, huh?

Be sure to stop by The Movie 411 site - Dempsey runs a cool blog.

Thanks again!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Unique Christmas Gifts and Blogfests!

Still searching for that perfect Christmas gift? Look no further!


Cthulhu Plushie
Let your kids snuggle with a Lovecraft demi-god!
$19.74






AK Bullet Ice Cube Tray
For that killer drink...
$15.95






Samsung 65" Class 8000 Series 3D 1080p LED HDTV
Because you know you really want one!
$6,000.00






Alien Queen Lifesize Prop Replica Statue
Besides, how on earth would you take care of a real alien queen?
$24,999.95






Bugatti Veyron
Second fastest car in the world and my choice when playing Need For Speed. Enough said!
$1.5 million


Blogfests!!

January 1, 2011 – Eye Candy Blogfest
Post a favorite picture, any picture you want (ummm...PG-13 please) as long as it's something that makes you smile or say 'ahhhh' every time you see it.
Hosted by Vicki at Rambles and Randomness
And I've a great picture for this one! (No, it's not Kate!)

January 3, 2011 – Show me Yours Blogfest.
The point of this blogfest is to share an excerpt of your NaNoWriMo novel. It can be any scene but try to keep it at 500 words so we can all get around to as many blogs as possible.
Hosted by Falen Formulates Fiction, Musings of a Palindrome, and And This Time, Concentrate



So, who’s buying me the Bugatti this year? Anyone?

Monday, December 13, 2010

More Naked Answers and Stardate Christmas

Part two of your questions - remember, you asked!

Voting is now closed - I was nominated for the Best Sci-Fi Blog Award at The Movie 411! Never thought I’d be so excited about an award, but the winners will be announced this Thursday. I'll keep you posted...

From Arlee Bird - About the prepublication process-- I was impressed by how well written CassaStaR is--how many beta readers did you have before sending your book to an editor and where did you get those readers? How much rewriting did you have to do?

I had three test readers, all of which are friends, and each made unique and helpful suggestions. I rewrote many scenes and dialogue after receiving their input.

From N R Williams - Do you ever feel like your brain is inside out?

Only at work.

From Shannon Whitney Messenger - What's your most embarrassing story (that you're willing to share)?

I’ll share the fiasco that was my twenty-first birthday. Several friends took me out that night and got me drunk. (Understand, I don’t drink often and have only been drunk about four times in my life.) A girl was flirting with me, so I went to her table to give her my best moves. In my drunken state, I leaned too hard on the table and tipped it over – and down I went! Needless to say, I did not get her number.

From Stephen Tremp - Do you write sober or do you enjoy a few glasses of wine or beer from time to time when writing?

After reading my previous answer, what do you think? I can handle one beer, but after that, my brain shuts down.

From Carol Kilgore - How do you tune out distractions? And when it's a distraction from something that breathes, how do you do it and not feel guilty?

Men tend to focus well on just one thing. I can write with both music playing and the TV on at the same time and not be distracted. However, ignoring distractions that breathe is only possible for about ten seconds. Any longer and I’m in big trouble!

From Dominic de Mattos - So, were you tempted by self-publication through the eReader route?

No, because I’d have no idea how to do it!

From Holly Ruggiero - Did you always know you wanted to write a sequel? Do you start out with a word count goal or just write until your done and see what you’ve got?

No, I’d never planned a sequel! I had other adventures for Byron and Bassa, but not a continuation of the main story. However, I did have one adventure that took place afterwards, and I expanded upon that idea. A lot! For CassaStar, I just wrote until the story ended. Now I’m aiming for a similar word count for the second book.

And now, last week’s Stardate Christmas Twitter updates:

Stardate Christmas 4.6 'Tis the season to beam Geordi! Fa la la la la la, la la la la! Come on, everybody sing!

Stardate Christmas 5.6 Scotty discovered that irradiated Tribbles glow in the dark - and they make great Christmas ornaments as well!

Stardate Xmas 6.9 T'Pol refuses to sing, Trip CAN'T, & our reindeer (Archer's beagle) peed on the Vulcans. Caroling is weird with this group

Stardate Christmas 7.9 We convinced Seven of Nine that the super-short, red velvet, fur-lined dress and hat are standard Starfleet issue.

Stardate Christmas 8.8 Who taught Data "Jingle Bells?!" I'm about to ring HIS bell. Someone make him stop!!

Stardate Christmas 10.5 We discovered that despite the pointy ears, Spock does not make a very jolly old elf!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Movie Review and Awards!

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The third book in this series of seven is without a doubt my favorite. However, due to lackluster reviews of the movie, I went in with low expectations. Before I give my review, I will offer a disclaimer. If you’ve never read the books, you might not like it as much. If you’ve read and loved the books and are fully invested in the characters, you’ll probably enjoy it much more.

Dawn Treader follows the book much closer than Prince Caspian and is a better film. It’s not as powerful or memorable as the first film, but it boasts good pacing and a fun adventure. Lucy and Edmond return to Narnia, dragging along their dour cousin, Eustace. This is where the movie nails it – Eustace is perfect. He’s a sourpuss and wet blanket in the beginning and you pretty much hate the kid – until a moment of greed changes his form.

It also conveys a strong message to those of faith every time Aslan appears on the screen. The ending is very moving, and I was impressed they kept a key line from the book, spoken by Aslan – “In your world, you know me by another name.”

It’s not perfect, but overall it’s a good fantasy and Christmas movie. I enjoyed it!

Next up, some awards I’ve been hoarding:

The “Awesome Award of Awesome Awesomeness!” From Jamie at Mithril Wisdom. Jamie’s blog just turned one and he’s a really cool young man with a bright future. Thanks, Jamie!

I am passing this on to Old Kitty, who has never failed to stop by with a witty comment. (Of course, she must share this award with Charlie…)


I received the “L'Aussie Fair Dinkum Award” from L’Aussie Writing. Thanks so much!

I am passing it on to Talli Roland. She’s indeed a fair lass!


And finally, I received the “Summer Blogger Award” from Carol Kilgore at Under the Tiki Hut. Thank you, Carol!

I am passing it on to Laura Eno at A Shift in Dimensions, who is a great example of summer in winter.

Thanks everyone!

Now, anyone else see a cool movie this week? Don’t forget, Inception came out on DVD this week! Next Tuesday, it’s Despicable Me. And has everyone seen Tangled? Why on earth not?!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Misunderstood Villains

Stephen Tremp joins me today! He's doing a series on villains this month and today he discusses misunderstood villains. Next Friday, I will be visiting his blog for my unique take on this topic. (Because Captain Ninja Alex just HAS to be different!)

Take it away, Stephen!

Regardless of how bad the bad guy is, sometimes the reader or viewer needs to sympathize with them. Perhaps they are a victim or in dire straits. Or they simply make unwise decisions. Example: John Q. A down-on-his luck father, whose insurance won't cover his son's heart transplant, takes the hospital's emergency room hostage until the doctors agree to perform the operation.

These characters are merely protecting what they hold near and dear to their heart. There could be an underlying moral or ethical value at the heart of the problem, one the reader or audience will need to consider as they watch events unfold before them. These villains are not pure evil, in contrast to The Joker or villains of James Bond movies who want to murder countless innocent lives or vie for world domination.

Not every villain starts out as a bad guy. A vigilante, one who takes the law into their own hands, can be such a villain such as Charles Bronson in Death Wish, Clint Eastwood in The Outlaw Jose Wales, or Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. Or one of my favorites: Boondock Saints, All Saints Day. The plot is secondary. Revenge or justice is what drives the story.

Perhaps the villain is being forced to do something terrible or else his wife and kids will be harmed, like Johnny Depp in Nick Of Time. His daughter is kidnapped and will be killed if he does not assassinate the governor of California.

Some villains are juxtaposed to the good guy, such as Ursula to the Little Mermaid. One is born into a royal family, one is born with nothing. Well, whoever said life is fair?

Then there are the mentally unstable villains who are not bad people to begin with. They just snap. Example: Michael Douglas in Falling Down who is having a really bad day. An unemployed defense worker frustrated with the various flaws he sees in society, begins to psychotically and violently lash out against them.

Then there is Carrie, a shy young girl who was picked on by the cool kids. She was a victim. She had telekinetic powers. She snapped. This is not going to end well.

Important: The villain often does not see themselves as a villain, such as vigilantes. Perhaps the police have failed to bring in a killer or the murderer has fallen through the cracks of justice. Vigilantes are people who do bad things but for seemingly the right reason. A villain may even be a delusional savior. The Twilight Zone has this theme in many of its episodes.

Which brings me to Dexter. But this is a blog all its own for next week.

Stephen Tremp blogs at Breakthrough Blogs and is author of the Near Future SciFi Thriller Breakthrough.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Why YOU Need an iPad for Christmas!


Continuing with cool Christmas ideas, this is one of the best! Unless you’re hoping for a new car or 3D TV…


Let me give you a run-down on the features:

EReader - Since so many compare it to a Nook or Kindle, let me start here. It’s an excellent eReader and in glorious color! The bookstore on iTunes grows bigger every day and there are apps for the Nook and Kindle so you can download those books as well. Yes, it is backlit. How many times are you really going to read it in the hot sun anyway? Besides, when it gets dark, while others scramble for a portable light, you are good to go! There is a sepia setting to help eyestrain, but I stare at a computer for ten hours a day, and it doesn’t bother me.

Internet and email - Either with WiFi or a wireless connection (for a monthly fee) and many of the sites have their own apps. (Such as YouTube, Pandora, Blastr, ESPN, etc.)

Movies - Do you realize how many movies you can download to your iPad? The more gigs, the more movies! And you can view Watch-Now NetFlix movies as well.

Music - Just like an iPod - fill 'er up! And the sound is really good. And loud. Better use ear buds.

Photos - All of your photos at your fingertips, ready to be shown to the next unsuspecting victim. (Did I mention the amazing color on the iPad?)

Games - More games than you could play in a lifetime! Some are free, some cost a couple bucks. Currently, I’m the Muddle Master.

Word-processing apps - Yes, you can download an app (mine is Pages) that allows you to type, save, and download to your Word files. The keyboard is really easy to use - turn it sideways, and it’s just inches shorter than a real keyboard.

Misc Apps - Ones for photo-processing, stargazing, Vooks (video books), comic books, weather updates, … you name it, iTunes has it!

Useless Apps - Want your iPad to sound like a light saber when you swing it? Yup, there’s an app for that! Want a talking robot that repeats your words? Check. Lots of dumb, useless apps!

You don’t need a Mac - just plug it in and download to your PC. It’s not a full laptop, but I can see why the iPad has killed net book sales. It’s even better than an iTouch on steroids.

What are you waiting for? Add the iPad to your Christmas list now! Or make someone else’s Christmas really awesome.



And Captain Ninja Alex will be happy to answer any iPad questions. Just remember, I’m biased!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Answering the Naked Question...

First, a big shout-out to my buddy Jamie! His blog, Mithril Wisdom, just turned one. Jamie’s a cool young man who reviews books on his site (and for two other sites) and talks about fantasy and science fiction. So if you don’t follow Mithril Wisdom, head on over!

A few weeks ago, I offered everyone a chance to ask the blogging Captain Ninja some questions. Wow, did you guys ever ask questions! So many, this is going to be a three part series. So, if you don’t see your question today, check back the next two Mondays.

From Anne Gallagher - Somewhere I read you were in the Carolina’s. So, am I north or south? I'm north, near Winston. And how old are you? You seem young with an old person's mentality.

I live in central NC, And thanks, I’m trying not to act my mid-forties age!

From Christine Danek - Do you do any sort of ritual before or as you write? Specific food or drink, special chair, etc.

I prefer to relax with my guitar before writing. After that, give me some music and I’m set to go. Oh, and a box of Hot Tamales helps as well.

From Ellie - There’s a certain part of CassaStar that is very emotional. Did it move you to tears after you wrote it?

At the risk of losing man-points – yes. I almost didn’t write it!

From Aspiring X – Any Pets?

Not at the moment.

From Old Kitty - Why aren't you naked?

Let’s just say certain parts of my anatomy don’t enjoy a drafty, cold breeze!

From Falen - what's the worst movie you've seen in theaters?

Toys with Robin Williams. Halfway through, the projector caught on fire. We were never so happy to leave the theater!

From Solvang Sherrie - how many trunk books before CassaStar got published?

Just the original version of CassaStar. And it’s awful!

From Kelly - Who is your favorite Star Wars character? What is your favorite current song?

Favorite character is Han Solo – he’s a rogue, a scoundrel, and a ladies man! Current favorite song is James Labrie’s “Euphoric.”

Tune in next week for round two!

And, because Helen Ginger said it was all right to do so, I am posting my book trailer again for those who missed it. (And so I can watch it and wish it were a real movie!)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Review, Psych, and Stardate Christmas


Yesterday I received the most awesome surprise – a review of CassaStar by Tessa! I am truly at a loss for words. She read it all in one day! Go check out the best review so far - HERE (After you read this post of course!) Thanks so much, Tessa!

One of these days, studios will learn that they can’t wait to release a movie for reviews. When Thursday night rolled around and there were still no reviews for The Warrior’s Way, we opted not to see it. Spent Friday night putting up the tree and Christmas decorations. Which was fun. (At the moment, the movie is split fifty-fifty, so we might still go see it.)


Instead I offer you Psych!

Thanks to NetFlix, I recently discovered this USA Network show, which airs Wednesdays at 10pm. It followers slacker Shawn (James Roday) and his partner Gus (Dule Hill) as they work with the local police to solve crimes. Shawn has a gift. He’s not psychic – he possesses amazing powers of observation, learned from his former police officer father, played by Corbin Bernsen.

The show is incredibly funny! The two leads are a great combo and ping well off each other. The writing is clever and the pop culture references fly fast. Last week was a take on Twin Peaks, complete with former members of that show, including Sherilyn Fenn. The upcoming episode promises more laughs as they take on Police Academy.

If you’re looking for a feel-good show that will put a smile on your face, Psych is a must watch!

Saw this at Ellie Garratt’s site - Which Science Fiction Writer Are You?

I am:
E.E. "Doc" Smith
The inventor of space opera. His purple space war tales remain well-read generations later.


Which science fiction writer are you?



And finally, the first of the Stardate Christmas Twitter updates!

Stardate Christmas 1.9 Eggnog is made from Nog. As in, the real Nog! Dear Lord, I've been drinking Ferengi all this time...

Stardate Christmas 3.2 Data discovered mistletoe. Somehow, I don't think the Vulcan Ambassador appreciated the kiss though!

Stardate Christmas 3.9 Santa's bloated corpse just floated by the window in TenForward. Now that's something we don't see every day in space

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fantastic Friday - For Many Reasons!

Today is another edition of Fantastic Friday Writers! I invite your to check out my Fantastic Friday Writers partners - Elizabeth Mueller, Anastasia V. Pergakis, J. D. Brown, and Deirdra Eden Coppel - for their take on this subject. And I’m sure they will all be delighted I came up with more than one paragraph this time!

How do you connect with your MC on a personal level?

The easiest thing would be to create a character similar to me. I think I know myself fairly well! Instead, I created Byron, and while he shares a couple of my traits, he’s very different. Yeah, smart move! Now, how do I relate to this guy?

Connecting with a character implies you have to know them – well. I liken it to making a new friend. We start with facts, then opinions, and then feelings. We take it in layers, like an onion. Guess Shrek was right!

With Byron, I had to discover and embrace his background. What led him to where the story begins? Everything that happened in his past had an impact on his life. I watched him develop as a person. It helped me to understand who he was and why he chose his path. I began to see things from his point of view.

I think that’s where I connected. Byron became real. No, not like the Velveteen Rabbit or anything! He gained dimension. I could feel his frustrations, struggles, and drive to succeed. I respected his desire for privacy and often annoying attitude. I knew that as I wrote the story, I’d be able to properly portray his behavior, thought process, and desires. He was difficult sometimes, but I discovered I really liked Byron.

Which is good, because I’m almost done writing the sequel to CassaStar!

How do you connect with your characters?

In other news…

I won second place in Jessica’s 400 Followers giveaway! A $40 Amazon gift certificate. Thanks, Jessica!

Don’t forget - I’ve been nominated for the Best Sci-Fi Blog Award at The Movie 411! Never thought I’d be so excited about an award, but I’m currently in the lead! If you haven’t voted, please do so now. (And don’t vote twice, or both are eliminated.)

And for those of you following me on Twitter, I’m doing Stardate Christmas updates every day until Christmas! Yes, I will repost them here next week.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sofia's Dream and Two Giggly Girls

This month I’m featuring some cool Christmas ideas! This one is for my followers who are parents (God Bless you!) – a charming new children’s book called Sofia’s Dream by Land Wilson. Why is this an excellent choice for Christmas? I’ll let the author’s daughters explain…

Anyone who reads sci-fi knows there are plenty of books in which the hero has left Planet Earth because humans have destroyed her. That explains why we’re writing about a kid lit book called Sofia’s Dream, in which a little girl visits the Moon and after seeing the planet from the Moon’s point of view, is inspired to do what she can to protect the world. We asked author, Land Wilson’s daughter (whose best little friend IS the Sofia in the title) to tell us why we should all buy the book. Between giggles, here’s what the girls have to say:

Ten Reasons You Should Buy Sofia's Dream:

10.Because my Dad wrote it!
9. Because it has an important message for everybody!
8. Because we like the pictures!
7. Because it will make you smarter! (giggle)
6. Because the Moon will be glad you read about him!
5. Because Sofia is my best friend! (more giggles)
4. Because dreaming can be fun!
3. Because it will help the Earth!
2. Because astronauts think it is important to us!
1. Because it would make my Dad very happy if you buy the book!

Here’s a picture of the two giggly girls. How can you resist that?



There’s something else to make all you readers smile. We have a drawing for the book so leave your name and email in a comment here.

There is also a special drawing for an iPod shuffle so you can listen to the original songs Little Pickle Press has for their books at iTunes. Click over to the Little Pickle Press blog and sign up for that contest there.

The Little Pickle Press website is at Little Pickle Press and you can follow them at Twitter, too, [@LPP_Media] for all the latest news about their environmentally conscious children’s literature and other media.

And just for the record, I was not involved in the giggling. Captain Ninja Alex does NOT giggle!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's Talli Time!!

Help Talli Roland's debut novel THE HATING GAME hit the Kindle bestseller list at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers.


Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com

No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more.

Coming soon in paperback. Keep up with the latest at Talli Roland or at her Blog

About THE HATING GAME:

When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £2000,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?

'I really found myself blown away with Talli's debut novel The Hating Game. She's a fantastic story-teller and I really can't wait to see what's next as she has the potential to become a huge chick lit star.'
- Chick Lit Reviews

'Talli Roland's The Hating Game is a superb debut - an original, hilarious take on the world of reality TV! An addictive read.about money, less-than-happy ex-partners and of course, revenge...'
- Trashionista

'The premise of the book is so brilliant and is one of the few books where from the minute I started to read it, I wished that I'd thought of the idea first. What a funny thing to happen, dating your exes, how awful could that be?'
- High Heels and Book Deals

If you do buy The Hating Game and you like it, a review on Amazon would be greatly appreciated! If you don't have an Amazon account, you can also post reviews on Goodreads. Thank you!

If you are on Amazon and in a clicking sort of mood, it would be fantastic if you could click on a few tags ('Tags Customers Associate with this Product' - located underneath the Product Description). Cheers!

Come on, guys – do it for Talli, the cutest Canadian English girl you’ll ever meet!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Conquered the NaNo!!!!!

I am captain of the world!

Not to be confused with king of the world – that’s from Titanic.

No, I am Captain Alex of the Starship NaNoWriMo!!!

That’s right – after twenty eight days of hunt and peck typing, I managed to complete the NaNo challenge. I ended yesterday with 50,975 words, well over the target – and with more of the story to write. (And probably a lot to re-write as well!)

Several of my NaNo buddies are also big winners – congratulations to Hart, Falen, Jen, Lola, Clarissa, Lynda, Jemi, Emily, Golden, Charity, Pk, Melissa, Brad, and Anna.

And a couple are so close! Go Ellie and Ted!!! You can do it.

Thanks to everyone who’s stuck with me during November while I devoted several hours a day to writing instead of blogging. (And of course a big thanks to my wife whom I intend to lavish with attention after ignoring her for a month.)

Ninja Alex is back! Captain Ninja Alex…

And one last round of my Twitter Stardate NaNo updates. Live long and prosper!!

Stardate #nanowrimo 19.6 Caught Riker & Troi naked. Said she sensed danger. In Riker's pants? Not buying it... 31551

Stardate #nanowrimo 19.9 A bunch of the ship just fell off and nobody likes me... word count 32276

Stardate #nanowrimo 20.8 The Borg tried to assimilate Justin Bieber. Their ship exploded. I call that a win-win! 34232 words

Stardate #nanowrimo 22.7 Kicking Ferengi butt and taking names! Nog went first. He's small - easy to punt! 38085 words

Stardate #nanowrimo 23.9 Why does everyone on the bridge giggle when I give the orders for saucer separation? 40451 words

Stardate #nanowrimo 24.6 The allure of an evening pass off-world is too great! You have the Bridge, Number One. 41320 words

Stardate #nanowrimo 27.3 Must've been a wild party. Discovered Odo & Kira in my closet and Morn under my bed. Creepy. 44466 words

Stardate #nanowrimo 27.8 Warp 9 through a wormhole! Scotty, the engines can't take it no more!! 48,596 words as my hands falls off into space

Stardate #nanowrimo 28.6 Kirk and Picard were but amateurs. I am Captain Alex of the Starship NaNo! 50,975 words - I win!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tangled Review and December Movies!

Tangled

One word – Delightful!
Disney’s 50th animated film possesses all the aspects of a classic, complete with storybook tale and singing, modernized with 3D computer animation.
This Rapunzel tale boasts a sweet, innocent spirit, in both the storyline and the title character. The animation is stunning, the laughs genuine, and the songs Oscar worthy.
If you’re looking for the perfect holiday film, Tangled is your winner. You will leave the theater grinning!

December movie preview:

3rd
-

The Warrior's Way
The world's greatest swordsman abandons his warrior clan to start a new life in the American Badlands…
Starring: Dong-gun Jang, Kate Bosworth, Danny Huston, Geoffrey Rush
Director: Sngmoo Lee
Good cast and it just sounds kick-butt!


10th -

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Lucy and Edmund Pevensie return to Narnia with their cousin Eustace where they meet up with Prince Caspian for a trip across the sea…
Starring: Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Will Poulter
Director: Michael Apted
The best of the seven books, it better be an improvement over the last movie. Or I’m taking Reepicheep hostage!


17th -

Tron Legacy
3D high-tech adventure set in a digital world that's unlike anything ever captured on the big screen.
Starring: Garrett Hedlund, Jeff Bridges, Beau Garrett, Bruce Boxleitner
Director: Joseph Kosinski
We’ve waited twenty-eight years for this sequel!



22nd -

True Grit
A tough U.S. Marshal helps a stubborn young woman track down her father's murderer.
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Hailee Steinfeld
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Always nervous when they remake a classic, but this one should rock.


31st -

Some cool foreign kung fu and ninja flicks:

14 Blades
A kung fu thriller set during the Ming Dynasty and centered on a secret service agent (Donnie Yen) in the emperor's court…
Starring: Kate Tsui, Chun Wu, Donnie Yen, Yuwu Qi
Director: Daniel Lee

Reign of Assassins (Jianyu)
Set in ancient China, Zeng Jing is a skilled assassin who finds herself in possession of a mystical Buddhist monk's remains.
Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Woo-sung Jung, Barbie Hsu, Shawn Yue
Director: Chao-Bin Su, John Woo

And from the director of Paranormal Activity. Hopefully this one is better:

Area 51
A group of teenagers stumble upon an area in the Nevada desert known for hosting an alien encounter.
Starring: Reid Warner, Darrin Bragg, Ben Rovner, Sandra Staggs
Director: Oren Peli

And don’t forget, I’m nominated for Best Sci-Fi Blog. Cast your vote at The Movie 411!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Blogfest, Ninja Alex Style!


Today is Jeffrey at World of the Scribe’s Early Bird Thanksgiving Blogfest! Please visit his site for the full list of participants. And because Jeffrey is cool!

There are many things I am thankful for:

The hotness that is Kate Beckinsale. (Does that surprise you?)

The people who make quality movies and TV shows and place them on NetFlix and Hulu.

My awesome iPad!

The creators of Star Trek, without whom my Stardate NaNo updates on Twitter would not be possible.

My cool Ninja blogging abilities.

That the oboe is not standard hard rock music equipment. (Wouldn’t that be odd?)

The Supermutants of Fallout 3: New Vegas and the sniper rifle that takes them out!

And now some things for which I am truly grateful:

My awesome blogging buddies. (Who keep coming back for this nonsense!)

My wife and family.

My relationship with God.

My job. (The one that allows me to blog, write, and watch movies all day.)

A good sense of humor.

The gift of music.

And the creative spark that runs through me!

What are YOU grateful for?

Have an awesome Thanksgiving my USA friends!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanks, Awards, Star Wars, and a Response!

Thanks to everyone who’s voted over at The Movie 411! I’m nominated for Best Sci-Fi Blog of 2010 – and really stunned I’m one of the front runners. Plus buddies Dezz, Nebular, and RaShelle are nominated as well. Voting ends December 14th.

And Clarissa at Listen to the Voices just posted her review of CassaStar! Thank you so much, Clarissa.

Still moving along with my NaNo project. Should hit 50,000 words next weekend.

Those of you who asked all the interesting questions – stay tuned next week for answers!

Elizabeth Mueller gave me the Grasshopper award! Thank you, Elizabeth. (She’s one of my Fantastic Friday Writers buddies.)

Passing this on to Jeffrey Beesler at World of the Scribe

Ella gave me the You Deserve a Star Today award! I’ve received this award previously, so I’ll just thank Ella for her generosity!

Just caught this the other day - the third installment of the Family Guy Star Wars trilogy comes out next month! Here's the trailer for "It's a Trap!"



And over the past few days, many of the ladies here in the blogging world have graced us with photos of the male persuasion. So, in response, I think it’s time for another post featuring some sexy ladies! My male blogger friends – enjoy some Kate and Olivia!

Kate Beckinsale

Olivia Wilde

Kate Winslett

Olivia Munn

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Movie 411 Awards – Voting is Today!

I’ve been nominated for Best Sci-Fi Blog award. Go to The Movie 411 to cast your vote.


Two of my excellent movie blogging buddies have also been nominated - Hollywood Spy and CineMarvellous. Both of these guys cover movies far better than I do, so go vote for them as well! They are each listed in several categories. And our very own RaShelle at A No. 2 Pencil Stat! is nominated for sexiest female. Go vote now!

And I’ve decided to wait until after seeing Part II of the new Harry Potter movie to post a review. I’ve not read the books and would like to view this story in its entirety first.

Next weekend, not only will there be a review (of TANGLED, which is a perfect 100% right now on Rotten Tomatoes) but the rundown of the December movies. Yeah, November is coming to an end very soon!

All right, I need to get back to my writing. Go vote!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Movie Awards, Fantastic Friday Writers, and Stardate NaNo Updates.

First a quick reminder that the Movie Awards voting is tomorrow, November 20! I’ve been nominated for Best Sci-Fi Blog and the Gold Movie Blog awards. Go to The Movie 411 to cast your vote. There’s several categories and some of my blogging buddies are also nominated. (So feel free to vote for them instead!)

Today is another edition of Fantastic Friday Writers! I invite your to check out my Fantastic Friday Writers partners - Elizabeth Mueller, Anastasia V. Pergakis, J. D. Brown, and Deirdra Eden Coppel - for their take on this subject.

What inspires my science fiction/fantasy mind to write?

Because it’s a world beyond our own! I write for the same reason I watch movies and read books – to escape. I want to go somewhere beyond the confines of our current life on earth, though. I want to see other worlds; experience life through new races; witness different situations and technology. Yes, many of the struggles are similar to our own, but I identify with them more because they occur in a setting other than here. My curiosity drives me to envision and create a unique world, one unseen by others. I want to boldly go where no man has gone before! (You just knew that was coming, didn’t you?) I am inspired by what I see in other books and in movies of my genre. It’s exciting and new. I want to continue that journey of discovery!

If you are a science fiction or fantasy writer, why? What inspires you?

And now for the Stardate NaNo updates!

Stardate #nanowrimo 12.6 Trouble in transport. Ferengi Ambass. arrived inside out. And he exploded. Cleanup in Transporter Rm1! 19165 words

Stardate #nanowrimo 14.9 I faced the Kobayashi Maru and won, baby! 24,123 words!

Stardate #nanowrimo 15.9 Lt. Barclay has gone missing and no one cares. 25,107 words!

Stardate #nanowrimo 16.9 Hot green aliens are dancing all over the bridge - and I can't stand up. Word count 26,637

Stardate #nanowrimo 17.9 Data told me my skin is as smooth as an android's butt. I'm afraid to be alone with him now... 28,446 words

Stardate #nanowrimo 18.9 Connected the dots on Jadzia Dax's body. Funny, I expected more than a space pony... 30272 words

Look for a Harry Potter review this weekend. And don’t forget to vote at The Movie 411 on Saturday!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Blogfest, NaNo, Award, and Ask Me if I'm Naked...

I’ll get to that naked thing in a minute…

Jeffrey at World of the Scribe is hosting a Thanksgiving Blogfest on November 24! Visit his blog for details.

Still plugging away at NaNo – hit 26,637 last night. I’m on target, which means I’ll be one of those frantically trying to input my 50,000 words the evening of the 30th. But I’ve really hit my stride with this one and concocted some great twists.

Thanks to everyone who comes by here even when I slack on blogging! And big thanks to those of you who’ve purchased (or plan to purchase) my book. I really appreciate all the support. I don’t know about the other chains, but my publisher said Barnes and Noble is stocking CassaStar, which is cool!

Now about asking me if I’m naked…
Well, you can ask, but the answer is no!
However, I thought I’d give everyone a shot at a little Q&A with Alex. Whatever you want to ask about me, CassaStar, or my current project. (And if I get so much as one water question, I’m blaming you, Lee!) So go ahead! Make my day...
Just remember, I’ve already answered – I am NOT naked! Not right now, anyway. Later tonight, that’s a different story. (I’m married – it’s legal!)



And finally, Yvonne at Welcome to my World of Poetry gave me the Wholesome Blogger Award!

I’d like to pass it along to some wholesome bloggers who’ve continued to come by here even while I’ve lagged in my blogging and commenting due to NaNo:

Ellie Garratt She’s an awesome young lady and a fellow NaNo writer. She even had time for a blogfest this month!
Melissa at Through the Looking Glass Another awesome lady – and she’s hosting a Christmas holiday blogfest, so check it out.
Jai at Jai Joshi’s Tulsa Tree She’s a new blogger friend but never fails to comment and share. And Jai’s a really amazing writer!

There’s so many more of you, but I’m supposed to be writing!!

Remember, hit me with your best question - I can take it!