Monday, January 31, 2011

February Movie Preview!

It’s movie time again! Where the heck did the month go?

And I'm visiting the blog of Chris Phillips today with a song that inspired the writing of CassaStar. It’s a short piece – and also a cautionary tale for those who leave suggestive comments. (Read it and you’ll understand!)

1st -

DVD - Monsters
Excellent film! Haunting. Read my review HERE





4th -

Sanctum
Director: Alister Grierson
Stars: Rhys Wakefield, Allison Cratchley, Christopher Baker
The Plot: A diving team experiences a life-threatening crisis during an expedition to an unexplored cave system.
James Cameron is the producer, which bodes well for this film. And while this is based on a real event, it bears a striking resemblance to the horror film, The Cave. (Sans creepy monsters of course.)


11th -

Gnomeo and Juliet
Director: Kelly Asbury
Stars: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Maggie Smith
The Plot: An animated version of Shakespeare's play, where Gnomeo (voice of McAvoy) and Juliet (voice of Blunt) are would-be lovers from rival garden-based families.
Not holding my breath on this one, as the previews look cheesy…



15th -

DVD – Unstoppable
Another great movie – lots of action and tension. Read my review HERE




18th –

Unknown
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Stars: Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones
The Plot: Dr. Martin Harris (Neeson) awakens from a coma, only to discover that someone has taken on his identity and that no one -- not even his wife (Jones) -- believes him. With the help of a young woman (Kruger), he sets out to prove who he is.
If it’s done well, this one could be really good.




Vanishing on 7th Street (limited)
Director: Brad Anderson
Stars: Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo
The Plot: When a massive power blackout causes a city's population to vanish, a handful of survivors band together inside a tavern in an effort to survive as darkness approaches.
Anderson has done some great films (like Session 9) but so far early reviews are “eh.” Bummer, was really hoping for a good film… It’s free on Direct TV on the 16th, so I’ll still check it out.

I Am Number Four
Director: D.J. Caruso
Stars: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Dianna Agron
The Plot: Nine alien teens come to Earth after their planet is destroyed by an enemy species. But soon discover that their enemy is now after them on Earth.
I know so many are excited for this film, but after reading story behind the publisher and the writer (who earned a whole $500 for this tale and that's it) I’d rather not give money to that machine…


25th –

Drive Angry 3D
Director: Patrick Lussier
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner
The Plot: A felon (Cage) breaks out of hell for one last chance at redemption: to prevent the cult who murdered his daughter from sacrificing her baby in three days' time. He's aided by a young waitress (Heard) and her ex-boyfriend's muscle car, and together the duo will have to face down the leader of the cult, the police, and a killer known as "The Accountant" (Fichtner) -- who wants to return him to the Devil.
Expecting another cheesy fest in the same vein as Ghost Rider.

DVD – Megamind
I skipped this one in the theater, but I’m looking forward to seeing it on video.


All movie info and descriptions from the IMDB.





So, what are you catching next month?

Friday, January 28, 2011

The 500, News, and Writing Around Family with the FFW

I don’t know how it happened, but I hit 500 followers this week. Wow! Thanks guys. Need to have a party or something… I’ll get back to you on that.

Today I am at Donna Hole’s site, discussing the features of the iPad and how they relate to writers, readers, and bloggers. Please stop by and say hi – she was so worried I’d forgotten her!

Elizabeth Spann Craig started something really cool! A search engine for writers. No more useless Google searches! Get the details HERE

And don’t forget the A to Z Challenge! Details HERE


Guys, you don’t want to miss this!!!



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. I’m sure it’s better than mine!

Working Around Family and Finding Time to Write

And I guarantee my entry will be the most unique!

Some would say family members are those pesky people who get in the way of our writing. They have schedules we’re to follow and demand attention. If it weren’t for family, we could’ve written twenty novels by now!

Oh really?

I think a lot of it has to do with our mindset. Do we view our family as help or hindrance? If we’re struggling to find time to write and balance family life, maybe it’s time for a new approach. Have we tried communication?

The key plot points for a story apply here as well:

WHY? Let our families know why writing is so important.

WHAT? Tell them what we hope to accomplish.

WHEN? Discuss how often we’d like to write and at what times.

WHO? Discuss the duties of the house and the new people who will enter our lives as a result of writing.

HOW? Figure out how to maintain a balance that makes everyone happy.

With good communication and the right attitude, it’s much easier to work writing into our life.

And the “Oh really?” comment? If it weren’t for my family, I wouldn’t be writing at all. My wife is my cheerleader, encourager, and best friend. Without her, I wouldn’t be writing at all and my accomplishments as an author would mean nothing. She’s not a distraction in my life.

Are you using communication to secure writing time? Have you tried?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

BIG ANNOUNCEMENTS!

First, thanks to everyone who participated in the Top Ten Countdown Music Blogfest. Was that not a blast? 114 bloggers! If you missed some of the posts, please check out the tabbed page above for a full list of participants. All links lead directly to the Top Ten post. Thanks again to everyone who got involved!

Today I am visiting Susan Says describing how to find one’s voice online!

And now - you don’t want to miss the event of the year!

Announcing the
April 2011
A to Z Challenge!

The brainchild of Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out, the A to Z Challenge began last year with a hundred participants, including me.

This year Arlee is thinking BIG. Really BIG! Three hundred participants. He needed year to spread the word and Talli Roland, Jen Daiker at Unedited, and myself are proud to co-sponsor this event.

What is the A to Z Challenge?

It’s blogging a letter of the alphabet every day the month of April (with Sundays off for good behavior.) It begins April First with the letter A and ends April 30 with the letter Z.

And it’s more than just a challenge! It’s a way to get in the habit of blogging on a schedule. It’s a chance to gain followers. Last April, I was a new blogger and went from thirty to eighty followers in one month. But more importantly, those of us who participated became like family. We grew and stretched together. And we had a blast in the process!

So please join Arlee, Talli, Jen, and me as we set off on a quest for three hundred participants in the A to Z Challenge!

I also have several very special guest spots this week! Yes, Alex has been busy...

Wednesday I was at L’Aussie Writing talking about my publishing journey.

I’m also at Selling Books! My publisher had forwarded the opportunity to be a featured author on this site and I filled out the questionnaire last December. So I’ll be just as surprised to read it!

And special announcement:

L’Aussie also posted how authors, publishers, and readers can help Queensland. So read her post HERE for details!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Top Ten Countdown Music Blogfest!!

The Top Ten Countdown Music Blogfest is here!

Hardest post... ever. Distilling 100's of all time favs down to just 10 is almost impossible. (Those of you who were struggling, I feel your pain!) So, with apologies to all the great songs that didn't make the list, here we go.


1. Natural Science - Rush - Permanent Waves
I could have made a list of top 100 Rush songs. But Natural Science is a standout track among standout tracks. Musically complex and layered this is a prog fan's dream song. I never get tired of listening to this masterful piece of work.




2. The Count of Tuscany - Dream Theater - Black Clouds and Silver Linings
Just when I thought DT couldn't get any better, their latest disc dropped with an instant classic. A master class in musicianship and arrangement, this is DT at their very best. I was fortunate enough to see DT live and watching Guitarist John Petrucci shred through this song was astounding. Clocking in at a little over 19 minutes, this is a true musical journey.


3. System - In Flames - Reroute to Remain
I picked up this disc after hearing "Cloud Connected" but "System" was the track that made my jaw hit the floor. Heavy, aggressive, catchy...this song manages to encapsulate everything great about metal into one signature song.




4. Wasted Years - Iron Maiden - Somewhere in Time
One of the greatest riffs ever. This song had an amazing video showing artist renditions of Eddie (the Iron Maiden Mascot) over the years. And I truly appreciate the lyrics that become more poignant as I grow older.
"Don't waste the time always searching for those wasted years. Face up, make your stand. And realize your living in the golden years."

5. Painkiller - Judas Priest - Painkiller
Everybody thought JP was done after the ill-conceived album "Turbo" (although I kinda liked it.) But they fought their way back with the disc "Ram it Down" and then cemented their status as metal gods with the blistering anthem "Painkiller." Pure aggression and balls-out metal, this is one of the best.



6. Easter - Marillion - Seasons End
I learned to play the guitar, in part, just to play this song. Such an achingly beautiful song about the warmth of the Irish spirit. The lyrics paint a vivid picture of a beautiful land full of people raising families amidst the threat of violence. I listened to this song over and over during a train ride to Scotland and the song is indelibly linked together with those great memories.

7. Rose of Sharyn - Killswitch Engage - The End of Heartache
I just love the lyrics to this song. For me (lyrics can have different meaning for different people) the song deals with Jesus singing to God while on the cross. A heavy song with great riffs and crushing vocals, the song is also quite beautiful.



8. Cowboys from Hell - Pantera - Cowboys from Hell
This song was a game changer for an entire genre of music. Dimebag Darryl and the boys came along and ushered forth a new heavy in heavy metal. This song takes aggression to 11 and beyond. At the time, this was the most aggressive onslaught that I had ever heard and I absolutely loved it.


9. Over My Head - King's X - Gretchen Goes to Nebraska
Tinged with mixes of soul and hard rock, this song blew my socks off. With an incredible riff and a catchy chorus that stays in your head for days, this is one of the coolest songs ever written.




10. My Name is Love - Rob Dickinson - Fresh Wine for the Horses
Rob is one of my all time favorite singers when he was with Catherine Wheel. His solo album starts out with a song that speaks to my heart. I can now sum up my relationship with God with this one song.
"When everything inside, ups and changes our lives,
When everything else has died,
My name is Love"

Special props to:
Rainbow in the Dark - Dio
Shooting Shark - BOC
Albatross - Corrosion Of Conformity
Holy Wars, The Punishment Due - Megadeth
Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck - Prong
Thoughts Without Words - Shadow's Fall
It Can Happen - Yes

Please visit the others who’ve signed up for the blogfest, as I’m sure you’ll find some cool new tunes.

Comments, thoughts, and what are YOUR favorites?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Blogfests and Awards!

If you’re looking for my Significant Other blogfest entry, it’s HERE

Don’t forget the Top Ten Countdown Music Blogfest THIS Monday! Ten songs. You can do it! Join us – I’d like to see 100 bloggers participate.


Here’s another cool blogfest coming soon:


Top Ten Horror/Science Fiction Movie Quotes Blog-fest. On the 6th February count down your top ten most memorable lines from your favorite horror and science fiction movies. Hosted by iZombie and Ellie Garratt Come on – join the fun!

And I received the Happy Award from Jules Thanks so much!

Sorry, I don’t remember the rules. Listing what makes us happy perhaps? My wife, my writing, my guitar, my iPad, and seeing 100 sign up for the Top Ten Countdown Music Blogfest!

Passing the happiness on to:

Amity at Dreams Are My Reality

Her comment the other day just made me happy!

See everyone on Monday for the Blogfest!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Significant Other Blogfest!


Hosted by DL Hammons and Talli Roland, today’s blogfest is all about enticing your significant other into talking about you. It cost me a dinner and two foot massages, but I managed to talk my wife into writing something for the blogfest.

What can I tell you about Alex?


I’m sure you know about his NetFlix obsession. I can confirm he’s almost reached the end. When he resorts to nature specials, I’ll let you know. He loves his movies and music, and I’m aware of the Kate obsession. It’s okay, I don’t feel threatened. He wouldn’t know what to do if he ever got her.


What I can tell you is that Alex is very devoted. He takes everything very seriously. He’s devoted to his work, his music, and his writing. He’s a perfectionist and won’t stop until something is perfect. Sometimes he stresses because he doesn’t feel he’s doing enough. He’s very devoted to blogging and his online friends, and I hear about all of you on a daily basis.


I admire what Alex has accomplished with his first book. It’s been a fun adventure for him. Alex is very reserved, so outwardly he doesn’t appear overly excited. But whenever he sees a good review or someone mentions they enjoyed his book, I see that smile and know he’s very pleased. That makes me happy.


I think Alex is a very special man and I hope everyone else can see that, too.

Yeah, isn’t she great? To heck with Kate!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mush!

No, I’m not talking romantic mush – yuck!

Dog sledding mush!

Terry Lynn Johnson’s first book, Dogsled Dreams, was released a few weeks ago. She’s a fellow blogger and super nice person, so I asked her to tell me a little more about dogsled racing. She also listed signs of dogsled addiction guaranteed to make you laugh! So please welcome Terry…

Dogs ran my life for over twelve years.

Yes, the term “musher” usually means someone who runs sled dogs, but I found it was the other way around. And I think most mushers would agree.

To own a team of dogs is all or nothing. You must be completely committed to them, because they give you everything in return. When I wasn’t on the trail, I was dreaming about dogs, planning events with the dogs, weighing dogs, inspecting dog feet, cooking for dogs, picking up dog poop, grooming dogs, studying dog charts, or talking about dogs.

At a dogsled race, you will see the results of months of running together – alone, often at night, through mud, then icy trails, then finally snow, and blizzards. Years of living and working together, creating strong bonds.

The relationship mushers have with their dogs is more than that of a pet. I have had several pet dogs. I’ve never seen any of them look at me the way one of my leaders have. I know that dogs – all dogs – seem to have the ability to look into your soul. But I simply can’t explain the understanding that reflects back from the eyes of a sled dog. I’m sure it’s the same with any working dog. The dogs seem to relish they have a job. They are relied upon. They are needed and have responsibilities – especially lead dogs.

Dogsled racing isn’t really about going fast down a trail.

I hope that in my novel DOGSLED DREAMS, I show that relationship and help people understand why anyone would want to do this crazy thing. You can read the first chapter and more at my site, Terry Lynn Johnson

So that you don’t think I’m just some weird anomaly who had a strange, unnatural attachment to her dogs – here's what other mushers said about their dogs on a forum on Sled Dog Central.


You know you have a problem with being addicted to dogsledding when:

You spend more time reading the labels on dog food bags than you do your own food.

You sleep with the window open to get used to the cold.

You think dog hair is a food group.

Checking dog poop for consistency is no longer weird.

You have your favorite sprint sled in your living room so you can study it.

After a heavy snow, you dig out the dog yard before the driveway or front steps.

You change the straw in the dog houses more often than you change your bed sheets.

When you can tell which dog is barking in a kennel of 40 dogs.

The second you think, “I have four, what difference does two more make?”

To order DOGSLED DREAMS -
Barnes and Noble
Amazon Canada

Monday, January 17, 2011

Small Presses, Dezz's Party, and Quotes

I had an unexpected request last week to contribute to Michelle’s series on small presses. My contribution is featured with several others today at The Innocent Flower. Please stop by and read why you should consider a small publisher.

Yesterday was the Hollywood Spy’s annual awards party! Everyone showed up in their finest, and there were many awards given to those in attendance. Dezz, thanks again for bestowing SF Star Award upon me and for allowing me to end the ceremonies with a guitar solo. You rock!

One more week to the Top Ten Countdown Music Blogfest!

And to honor Martin Luther King Jr. today, I selected a couple quotes that spoke to me:

“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

"From every mountainside, let freedom ring. When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Non-Milk Duds and a Gala Event!

Thanks to everyone who commented on Good vs. Evil. I should’ve clarified something – most of the time, with movies and books, I just want to escape. Yes, I enjoy a realistic, introspective drama, but most of the time, I just want to escape reality. Thus, I want good to triumph over evil in the end. Make sense?

And I took my wife out to dinner instead of seeing the Green Hornet last night.

First the duds. Sorry, these aren’t delicious Milk Duds. These are movie duds!

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
I finally watched this film, and I’m sure it was a better experience than going to see Season of the Witch. Cage is really hit-or-miss, although his acting cannot be blamed in this movie. The story idea is good, the special effects great, but there’s just something wrong. It’s like the film missed an essential beat. It’s as if the screenwriters knew what needed to happen but missed the steps of convincing us how the plot moved from point A to point B. It’s also a mix of serious, funny, and who knows what. I blame Disney - they wanted to hit all the happy Disney notes but forgot to compose a complete song. Plus I spent the entire movie listening to Jay Baruchel speak and thinking “Well, there’s Hiccup - where’s Toothless?”

Shrek Forever After
I don’t think the lack of 3D hurt my viewing. Or rather, I doubt it would’ve helped. They promise this is the last installment, and I hope they stick to their guns. Overall, it was better than the third, which was lame, un-funny, and often cringe-worthy. The problem with this one? There was no humor. It lacked the fun, fairy-tale humor of the first two movies. It was dark and serious. (The storyline is similar to It’s A Wonderful Life - what if Shrek had never been born?) It’s not that the jokes weren’t funny - there weren’t any. I was disappointed.

Fantastic Mr. Fox
How to describe this movie? Think The Royal Tenenbaums merged into a clay animation children’s story. Think awful! I don’t like director Wes Anderson’s films - I think they’re weird, pretentious, boring, and lacking in humor. Add that this is based on a Roald Dahl story and you just know it’s going to be weird. I didn’t make it to the end. Critics may have loved it, but Mr. Fox is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot of movies… (And this is NOT a kid's movie!!!)

Those were the duds of my week. Any duds you’d like to share? Warn some of us unsuspecting fools?


Ready for an awards extravaganza?

The gala event starts Sunday at Dezz’s site! Join the Hollywood Spy for his annual awards show. Put on the tux and tails and join us.

You heard me – JOIN US!

Even this dog is ready...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Good vs. Evil. And Bad Movies!

First, a quick movie update.

I didn’t post last weekend because Season of the Witch received such abysmal reviews I decided to skip it. Green Hornet is faring better, but haven’t decided if I’ll see it yet. The lure of $30 for tickets, popcorn and drinks isn’t that strong. Maybe I’ll just take my wife to dinner instead.

Someone recently commented that he’s never seen a bad review here. True, I don’t write many. For one thing, I am very selective on which movies I see in the theater, so it’s not often I catch a dud. It does happen though! And if you don’t believe me, check out my reviews of Clash of the Titans and Legend of the Guardians.

I take more chances with NetFlix though. So, if I don’t catch Green Hornet this weekend, I have three mini movie reviews in the wing – all of which I’m glad I saved my money!

And if you want a really bad review, check out my play-by-play of Sharktopus! I need to do that again soon. I’m sure the SyFy Channel will oblige me with another bad movie…

Now, on to Good vs. Evil!

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. I’m sure it’s better than mine!

Good vs. evil is a standard story formula. Sometimes it’s subjective, depending on the point of view and amount of grey area. Rather than attempt to define good vs. evil, I’ll just tell you what I prefer in a story.

Good must triumph over evil.

Now there’s some great stories that don’t end that way, but I like to see good come out on top. I like to see the good guys win! Feels hollow if evil wins. After investing time in book or movie, I feel cheated when evil triumphs. (Unless the good guys really suck, then I hope for their demise!)

Everyone has his or her own tastes. For me, good must prevail.

What about you?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Announcements...

First, some things happening around the Internet...

I won the book trailer contest at Spunk on a Stick’s Tips! Thanks to everyone who thought my book trailer was awesome. I’m thrilled CassaStar’s trailer has won two contests now.

Jamie at Mithril Wisdom is hosting a 100 followers giveaway! The prizes include some cool books, so go to his site now to enter: Mithril Wisdom
Jamie reviews books and graphic novels and talks about movies and Egypt. He’s also a panelist for the Indie Lit Awards. He’s an awesome young man with a cool site – if you’re into fantasy, you NEED to follow his blog!

Ali Cross is hosting a 300 followers giveaway! Two Amazon gift cards are at stake, so visit her site to enter: Ali Cross
Ali is just a doll! Go check out her site.

Prayers for L’Aussie - she lives in Brisbane, which recently experienced flooding and a flash flood. Many are dead or missing. L’Aussie is all right, but the destruction is devastating. Please keep everyone in the area of Brisbane in your prayers.

Now for some awards – because I try not to hoard!

You Inspire Me Award from Yvonne at Welcome to my World of Poetry. Thanks Yvonne!

Passing it on to
Hannah at Musings of a Palindrome
Hannah (whom I always call Palin, as it was months before she ever fessed up her real name) just celebrated one year in the blogging world and never fails to inspire – especially on Tuesdays!


The Stylish Blogger Award from James at Dance on Fire, J D Brown, AND Margo Benson! Wow, didn’t realize I was stylish.

Rules:
1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award... thanks James, JD, and Margo!
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Pass the award on to ten newly discovered bloggers and let them know.

You’ve already heard about me! And in the interest of time and keeping this post short, I’m passing it along to three bloggers, each possessing a unique style:

Anne R. Allen
Alex at Breakfast Every Hour
The Happy Whisk

Happy blogging and stay safe!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Taking a Fantastical Approach

Today I am hosting fantasy author, Susan Gourley.


(The winner of the Best Trailer Contest will also be announced this morning – I’ll let you know the results in my right sidebar the moment I know!)

Now, take it away, Susan!

Thank you, Alex, for having me as a guest on your very popular blog. Today I’d like to talk about world building. Of course, I’ll relate everything to my recent release, Beyond the Gate, Book #2 in The Futhark Chronicles.

So many things must be considered when creating a world different from the contemporary Earth we take for granted everyday. Sometimes the simplest part to create is the physical parts of a fantasy world. What is the topography? What is the climate like? Are there seasons like our world? Are the flora and fauna the same or similar? This can be kept simple. In my fantasy series, Futhark is an island kingdom sitting high above an unexplored ocean. It has seasons similar to a temperate climate on Earth. Oak trees are still oak trees in the world of Futhark and horses are horses. In movies, such as Avatar, a totally colorful and exotic world can be created for the eye to see. It would take pages of composition to describe even a first glimpse of Pandora. I wouldn’t try it. Your readers will either put down the book or snooze.

The government and societal rankings must be considered. Some glimpses into history usually needs to be mixed into a good fantasy world as the past so often comes back to haunt mankind. The Futhark Chronicles take place in a medieval society with class rankings of nobility, merchants, and peasants. Going further into depth in a fantasy world, one must think about education. Can most people read? Do they all use a common language? Religion is often huge in fantasy and can be the center of many conflicts. Going along with that will be customs on the treatment of the dead. Do they bury them, cremate them and believe in an afterlife?

In The Futhark Chronicles, illnesses and injuries are treated with herbal remedies and sometimes-magical intervention. Most fantasy and science fiction novels involve some fast, exciting action. Believe me, someone will get hurt. How will they be treated? By a medical professional, magical healing or leeches?

What types of homes populate your cities in your fantasy world? Or is the world a collection of small villages? Will they know brick making? Do they construct domiciles of skins and roofs comprised of straw or reeds? Perhaps the world in inhabited by nomadic people or seafaring races. I’ve never tried that, as I know nothing about sailing. What type of clothing? Manufactured? Homespun cotton? Wool? Leathers? What is the coinage or the realm? Are gold and silver valuable there? What is the agriculture like? What crops are raised?

I’ve saved perhaps the most important question for last. If the world you’re created is for a science fiction novel, how is that science different from contemporary Earth? If it is a fantasy novel, what are the rules for the magic of this world? Science and magic may affect a writer’s decision about all the things I named above. Do they ride horses, hovercrafts or perhaps fly by their own powers? Can they create food, buildings and clothing with magic or science? Can they use magic or science to keep themselves warm or protect against an attack. Does the magic and science make sense even though it isn’t real? And how is the science or magic limited? And it must be limited or there can be no conflict beyond emotional.

After all these things and many more have been decided, you can create a fantasy world. Don’t dump all the information in the first chapter. Let the reader discover it as they travel through your tale. I keep a journal with a roughly drawn map for all my series. I call it my book bible. Inside are details of all the things I mentioned and many more. If I didn’t write them down, I couldn’t keep them straight especially through multiple novels.

Beyond the Gate is now available from all major book retailers. I hope you’ll check out the fantasy world I created. I’d love to hear your insights.

Thanks, Susan!


Purchase the eBook of Beyond the Gate HERE and visit Susan's awesome website and blog.

Friday, January 7, 2011

This Awesome Blogging Family!

I’ve seen several posts this week expressing gratitude for online support. I have to agree – the blogging community is awesome! Let me show you…

First, I have a guest post today at The Movie 411. They graced me with the Best Sci-Fi Blog Award and all winners were invited to do a guest post. Dempsey maintains a cool site, so check out my take on Laugh It Up Fuzzball!

Jennie at Garden Full of Lily posted the sweetest review of CassaStar this week! She claims to suck at writing reviews, but her words made my day.



iZombie Lover gave me the You Make Me Scream Award. Thanks, Jeremy!
TS buddy, this one has your name all over it – enjoy!


Finally, a big thanks to those who’ve voted for my trailer at Spunk on a Stick’s Tips! CassaStar’s book trailer is one of seven finalists and prizes include the donation of books to the winner’s choice of library and an Amazon gift card. Voting ends Sunday though! (And special thanks to Jeffrey Beesler for breaking his one week hiatus to plug my trailer.)

For those who’ve not seen my awesome trailer, created by my publisher:



If you think it rocks, go place your vote at Spunk on a Stick’s Tips!

Yes, I am groveling for votes. CassaStar will probably be my only claim to fame, so it deserves some groveling…

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Best of the Best and Calling the Army!

Yes, this is my list of the best things about 2010.

But first, a big call to arms to my blogging buddies! CassaStar’s book trailer made it to round two in the book trailer contest at Spunk on a Stick’s Tips. Voting starts today and runs through Sunday.
Now, I did find out on Monday that I won Best Sci-Fi/Dystopian trailer at Parajunkee - thanks so much everyone!!
However, competition is stiff this time - there’s six other trailers. (And three are by blogging buddies of mine, which is cool.) So, if you really think mine rocks, head on over to Spunk on a Stick’s Tips and vote! Don’t make Captain Ninja Alex grovel. It’s not a pretty sight…

And don’t forget the Top Ten Countdown Music Blogfest on January 24 - sign up HERE

Now for the Best of the Best! And remember, this is just one man’s opinion. As my wife says, I’m not right all the time.

MOVIES
The Best-

Inception
How to Train Your Dragon
Iron Man II
True Grit
Despicable Me

Honorable Mentions-
Tron: Legacy
Tangled
Toy Story 3

Biggest Disappointments-
Clash of the Titans
The Wolfman
Green Zone

Okay, the lists get shorter from here…

BEST ALBUM-
Seventh Wonder - The Great Escape
(Who? A progressive rock band from Sweden! It’s their seventh amazing album! Oh, never mind…)

BEST BOOK-
Fever Dreams by Preston & Child

BEST COMPUTER GAME-
Starcraft II
(Longest wait for a sequel ever…)

BEST SPORTS MOMENT-
The collapse of the Viking’s Metrodome Stadium roof:



Honorable mention goes to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who claimed at the beginning of the season the Cowboys would get to attend the Super Bowl in their own stadium. Sure - if they buy tickets! Need to make the playoffs first, Jerry. Oh how I love to see the Cowboys lose…

BEST PERSONAL MOMENT-
Yeah, October 19 and the release of my first book, CassaStar, was damned cool! Of course, good reviews keep popping up, so that’s cool, too. And then there’s my awesome blogging army of friends. You guys are all cool. No wait, you rock!

Oh yeah - and my iPad!!

What was the best for you in 2010?

And please don’t make me grovel…

Monday, January 3, 2011

Some Awesome Ninja-Style News!!

Some awesome Ninja-News for you today!

First, a big thanks to Jamie at Mithril Wisdom - he posted his review of CassaStar and stated “casual sci-fi readers will get an extra kick out of it.” Thanks Jamie – you are one cool dude!

Round One Voting for the Book Trailer Contest at Spunk On A Stick’s Tips continues through Tuesday. Hoping CassaStar’s trailer will advance to Round Two!!

And my personal triumph - I finished the first rough draft of CassaStar's sequel last night!! Felt so good to write that final scene. Now to edit! And I actually enjoy editing.

Now are you ready for some big news?

Remember The Movie Dirty Dozen Blogfest?

Remember The Top Ten TV Shows Blogfest?

Are you ready for the next Captain Ninja Alex blogfest????

TOP TEN COUNTDOWN – MUSIC BLOGFEST!
Monday, January 24, 2011



Counting down our top tunes of all time!

Music moves us. It inspires us! Now, tell the world YOUR ten favorite songs of all time. The Song, the band – why does it move you?

Sign up below – who’s with me?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Starting the New Year off with a Smile!

Happy New Year! Today, it’s all about the smiles…

Today is the Eye Candy Blogfest, hosted by Vicki at Rambles and Randomness “Post a favorite picture - something that makes you smile every time you see it.” Be sure to check out the others entries as well!

I thought long and hard (and almost hurt myself) over which picture to select. Yes, my first thought was Kate Beckinsale. I won’t deny it. But ultimately, I selected an image that holds a special meaning for me.

This is Frank Frazetta’s “Battlestar Galactica,” created for the original TV show:


Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars were big influences on my original idea for CassaStar. This painting sparked my imagination more than any other medium. I could see the Cassans and their ships, and the adventures of Byron and Bassa came to life. The desolate, rocky planet in the painting even became a scene in my story, and the only one to survive the rewrite. (I’m sure those who’ve read the book know the scene, as it was also the most difficult to write.)

So when I look at this picture, I smile – the raw beginnings of CassaStar!


I also received the Making Smiles on Faces Award from L’Aussie. Thanks so much!

Most of my blogging friends are good at making me smile! (Which made narrowing it down REALLY tough.) But I couldn’t list everyone, so I just selected a few special charmers:

Abby at Above Water
Yvonne at Welcome to my World of Poetry
Old Kitty at Ten Lives and Second Chances
Jules at Trying to Get Over the Rainbow

Thanks to everyone who voted for my trailer at Parajunkee. She’ll announce the winners soon!
Meanwhile, the book trailer contest voting at Spunk On A Stick’s Tips starts today! Mine’s one of almost twenty trailers. If you think it’s the best, hop on over and vote!

And a special thanks to Edi’s Book Lighthouse - he just posted the best books of 2010 and CassaStar was in the top three from small publishers. Thanks, Edi – that definitely makes me smile!